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Volume 3: Chapter 223 – The Hero of Pena II (3/3)
The Ivory Tower, where the sages lived, could be found at the small country (minor nation) of Orphen. It was a country that would be encased in snow and ice for half of the year. Its summers were short, and its springs and autumns were even shorter. The fresh green shoots dazzled under the light of the sun as the warm wind carried with it the sound of the murmuring river. A two days’ walk from the ivory tower was Reshia Fel Zeal, who was headed towards a village to fulfill her duty as a saint.
Her duty was to share knowledge.
She would teach others to write, and sing, and how to use herbs, and she would use the miraculous power only she could use to heal other people and save lives.
To bestow healing upon all was her duty as a saint of the Goddess of Healing (Zenobia) (The Fourth Daughter). If this were a bigger city, even the ‘church’ that worshipped the Ancestor God Who Birthed the Nations, Ativ, would send someone out as well, but that church has gotten too big, and it was now too difficult for it to advance into regions where it could not turn a profit.
As such, there were many opportunities for her to appear as a saint.
Accompanying her was a human and a beast.
“Is that not too heavy?”
It was the low-toned voice of a female demihuman that responded to Reshia’s clear and beautiful voice.
“Humans are just weak.”
She was a demihuman with the face of a leopard, and Reshia purchasing her was an event that occurred at the slave market. It was only through some twists and turns that this girl called Tiora ended up traveling with Reshia.
Scampering about by Reshia’s legs was the gray wolf, Gastora.
“Yes, yes. Are you okay too, Gastora?”
Gastora seemed to understand what she said, as he jumped up high in response. Seeing that, Tiora narrowed her eyes.
“To think the king of the forests would become attached to you. I guess you really are special.”
“It’s not as good as it sounds.”
They walked to the village without stopping. When day turned to night, they would have to camp outside, so it was only natural that they would hurry.
“Really? Everyone would want something they don’t have.”
“Me too. And I’m sure you too.”
As the light of the sun fell on her, Reshia spoke from inside her robe and lightly sighed.
“Being special isn’t the same thing as being happy. When we get to the village let’s talk about the story of Ristia’s monster dog?”
“What kind of story is that?’
Recently, Reshia has noticed that whenever Tiora was interested, her ears and her tail would move a lot. Her ears would twitch rapidly and her tail would make huge swings from left to right like a dog waiting for its master. Those unconscious antics of hers basically announced that she was very interested.
“Like I said. I’ll tell you once we get to the village, okay? Just endure until then, Tiora-san.”
“…It’s not like I’m interested or anything.”
But contrast her words, her tail was making huge swings while her ears kept twitching toward Reshia’s direction.
Gastora responded to that and stepped forward, as if to urge them to hurry tow the village.
“Fu fu fu. Then let’s hurry.”
They arrived at the village while the sun was still high up in the sky. The villagers received them, and they stayed at the village for a few days, telling them stories, teaching them how to formulate medicines, and healing the people patiently.
Outside the village, where the branches and the leaves extended themselves to bathe in the favor of this short summer, and where the streams murmured, was Reshia sitting.
The water was clear and the bottom could be seen even from her knees.
“…Just because you have a special power doesn’t mean you’ll be happy. I’m sure the king understands that too.”
Ever since she appealed at the Ivory Tower to negotiate with those known as monsters, her position has become sensitive. Because of the protection of the white elder, there was no one who openly criticized her, but even that elder wasn’t protecting her because he agreed with her.
Just a few days ago, word of Elrain Kingdom falling to the monsters has reached even Orphen. At long last, the Goblin King has gained power and was baring his fangs, Reshia thought. But she didn’t reveal these thoughts to anyone.
The Goblin King was wiser than any royalty or noble she’s ever met. She herself was human, so she couldn’t possibly stand on the side of the monsters. That’s why, the fact she didn’t tell anyone any information about that Goblin King, was a betrayal to humanity. At the very least, that’s how she felt.
Despite that, the words of the king that asked her to take his hand were burned into her mind.
“With your own will, deny that god.”
“…Why is he so strong, I wonder.”
That Goblin King that told her to overcome adversity has himself passed through the border between life and death many times. He held absolute conviction in his words. At the same, he had the strength to back them up.
If only she were as strong as that Goblin King, then wouldn’t she be able to convince the Ivory Tower? But it was a meaningless thought, so she stopped. It wasn’t a good thing to think. Talking about what-ifs when she couldn’t do anything right now would only cause her to be depressed.
She should just do whatever she can, she thought. As she decided that, she once again carried the duty of being a saint.
When she heard the voice of the children, she turned to the direction of the stream where the voice came from.
The bustling crowd of children surrounded Reshia and begged her to tell them a story. Reshia’s stories were one of the few pleasures they had in this village. Before anyone knew it, even Tiora was standing outside the crowd of children, ears twitching.
“Alright. Then, how about I tell you the story of the monster dog, Ristia.
Under the bright afternoon light, Reshia started telling a story, and the children listened.
That was a story about a powerful monstrous dog. It was about a monster that received a great power from a god, but at the same time, was cursed to be unable to protect the thing it cherished. Everyone swallowed their breath as they listened to Reshia, swinging from joy to sorrow, as the time trickled down, until eventually, it was almost evening.
In the end, the monster dog abandoned its power and protected its most cherished family.
When Reshia uttered those words, the children looked like they’d awoken from a dream and looked at each other.
A young girl tugged on Reshia’s sleeves with tears in her eyes.
“The dog is too pitiful.”
Reshia patted the girl’s head and gently said.
“If only everyone was kinder, then perhaps he wouldn’t have had to meet such a fate.”
Reshia wiped the tears off the girl’s face and smiled.
“It’s almost time to eat. You should go back now.”
At Reshia’s urging, the children headed back home in small groups.
Now that they were all alone, Tiora wanted to say something to Reshia, but she couldn’t open her mouth.
“We should go back too.”
Tiora followed her, but she couldn’t wait until they got back to their lodging (village chief’s house) and asked.
“…It was as if I saw the story unfold before me.”
“It was a story from a long time ago.”
Reshia dodged the question, so Tiora asked again.
“Is strength not enough to protect what’s precious to someone?”
“I don’t know. But a special power won’t always bring happiness. At the very least, that’s what I think. The only thing I can do is to gradually ease the prejudice. That’s all I can do.”
Reshia gazed at the dusk, dazzled, then she went back to their lodging.