How much time has passed since then? I have stayed in bed all this time, but there were no signs of recovery from the sickness.
Since that day the boy hasn’t shown his face, instead I was looked after by a doctor and a maid, both hired by the Governess. Scared of catching the Elizabell’s curse themselves, after doing the bare minimum of their duties they always left the room in a hurry, as if running away. Naturally, there weren’t any decent conversations either. I couldn’t stand the loneliness and grew hopeless. If, as they say, sickness really comes from the spirit, then it was becoming apparent that I wasn’t getting any better because of my poor mental state. I let out a sigh, while dipping my towel in a bowl of ice-cold water. My breath is feverish and the feeling of sweat on my body was disgusting. Even though I wanted to change my clothes, my fever made me too weak to do so. Anyway, the maid wiped my skin dry just a while ago. If I was to change clothes so often, it would be a never-ending process.
Resigned, I sighed one more time and decided to sleep for a little. However, when I was about to lie down I heard the gate open without ringing the bell. Did the doctor or the maid forget something? Or perhaps he came to see me? It would make me so happy.
I stared at the door with those expectations. But a person I did not expect to see appeared instead.
「Oh my, Juri! Did you come to visit me?」
Without answering, the boy came into the room quietly. I raised myself up to a sitting position on the bed, the boy kept standing not taking the chair beside me and looked down on me.
「Aren’t you angry? I told everybody on the island where you stayed…」
Juri put his words together indifferently. His expressionless face made me think that the face of his I used to see before, full of expression and emotions, was somehow a lie. This expressionless face on a ten year old boy, was so mismatched it made me think about that man. He had the same expression when I met him for the first time. I was also worried that he hated me. But maybe that expressionless boy was like that because he simply didn’t know what else he could show on his face? Juri’s gaze right now resembled that boy’s one.
「No I’m not angry, I was only sad.」
I smiled bitterly. Juri kept silent, his blue eyes seemed to ask if it was really true. What beautiful blue eyes, they are the color of Nibbiellata’s seaside. I kept looking straight into his eyes. He looked away, still silent.
Oh my, oh my… That’s true, I wasn’t angry! – I thought in my heart. If one would really think about it Juri’s actions were natural and justified, and he should not be blamed for them. After all he lives on this island. When everybody started questioning him and pushing for an answer, he simply had no choice but to give it to them. I couldn’t blame Juri without giving him a chance to explain. Especially because I wasn’t without fault too, for not taking the attitude towards the dark-haired people here seriously. Anyway, I didn’t even have enough strength to put any blame on him.
I wasn’t sure what he was thinking about me smiling at him. He raised his head, his face still expressionless and asked me a question.
「Big sister, even though you are in such a state now, do you still believe that guy?」
「Yes, I do.」
「Even though you could die?」
「It’s not like I’m going to die. How could I die when Edi is with me?」
He is by my side. It’s enough for me to keep living, it’s enough to give me strength. Keeping that in my heart I smiled and replied to Juri’s question with another one. And then, finally that expressionless face of his moved. He now looked deeply amazed. Then he muttered quietly.
「Idiot… You’re really an idiot.」
What a nice thing to say to a sick person. And three times, too. An idiot. I wonder if it was directed at me. But I was so serious when I said those things. However, before I could voice my argument, Juri left the room.
I let out a sigh, and slipped under my sheets again. Even though I only talked for a little while I was exhausted, as if I had just run a marathon. I thought about those words that, even though they were kind, normally it was hard for me to say them. Trying to calm my breath, I thought about those sunrise colored eyes. It made me feel a little frustrated. I imagined he was working hard for my sake but it would be nice if he came, even just for a short while. Even if I would still be in pain, I would not feel so lonely. Rather than Elizabell’s curse, it was my sadness that weighed on me so much that I couldn’t breathe.
「It’s greedy of me.」
I whispered it, half hoping to hear that voice, but alas the response never came.
* * *
Between taking heavy, feverish breaths, I fell asleep and woke up a number of times. I became unaware of how much time had passed. My tired eyes tried to read the time, but because of high fever I couldn’t decipher the clock. I couldn’t swallow any food and all I was able to do was moistening my lips with a few drops of water. I had gained a bit of weight since arriving to Nibbiellata so it’s perfect – I tried to joke in my head, but nobody would laugh at such a joke.
「…It’s not a joking matter.」
I laughed weakly to the empty room. Lying in my bed, I stared at the ceiling above me. No matter how long I was looked at it, nothing ever changed. Every detail of the residence has been thoroughly taken care of, so there wasn’t even a single stain on the ceiling for me to count to kill some time. Although, since I couldn’t concentrate well maybe I just couldn’t spot them.
I didn’t have any energy left to even let out a sigh. I raised my hand, it was so heavy, I didn’t believe it was mine anymore. I took the towel from my forehead. It had gotten warm, so I dropped it in the iced water bowl beside me. I couldn’t move freely as it took all my energy, which was irritating but the cold towel gave me such a comfort that I had to force my body to get up.
While thinking about how good it would feel to lay in a bath full of this pleasantly cold water, I became aware of a noise. What was it? It was a sound of some heavy footsteps getting closer, somewhat violently. I forcefully tried to wake up my overheated mind and put myself on guard. But then the door burst open with so much force, it got ripped off the hinges.
「The magician is not here? Drag her out!」
I didn’t understand what was going on. A few men broke into the room and violently lifted me up. The bowl I had soaked my hand in, fell to the floor with a horribly loud clatter. Ah, it’s more work for the maid. How could I explain this to her?… No, there’s no time to think about that. Grim faced Islanders were taking me away from the residence and there is no way for me to oppose them. The blue moon was shining on the night sky. It’s light brightening the night. It had been long since I felt fresh air on my skin. Even though it was early summer in a southern country, somehow the air was nice and chilly. Or maybe it just felt like that because my own body temperature was so high. While I was thinking about my poor physical condition again, I was thrown on the ground. Not thinking about the crash, I tried to stand up. I stifled the scream of pain and somehow got on my feet and looked around. I was surrounded by men holding weapons.
「You! You came with Elizabell’s magician, didn’t you! Did you think you could fool us?! 」
「I don’t know what you said to the governess to trick her, but you won’t trick us!」
「Leave the island before the disease spreads! All of you! 」
「No, better just kill them now. Maybe that will open the governess’ eyes.」
「Right. Find that damned black wizard too and kill them both.」
Now I understand. It seemed like they made an arbitrary decision to act so violently. They must believe that a dark being, a black wizard, just like Elizabell has once again started to inflict disasters and calamity on the Islanders. Naturally seeing the state I was in, it was reasonable for them to think so. I am strangely calm as I analyze my current situation. I am amazed at my own composure. Perhaps the high fever clouding my train of thoughts was actually a good thing. With my judgement clouded, my heart was full of calm relief and I didn’t feel any fear or anger.
Indeed, what a relief. All this time I had been unhappy that he hadn’t come to see me but now, for the first time I was thankful for that. The thought that he’s safe was enough. It’s perfectly enough. Ah, but when that boy, that man, finds out I lost my life in such a way…
「I would make you cry again, wouldn’t I…」
「What the hell are you laughing about?」
At the sound of the angry voice I froze. Of course, I cannot die. I don’t want to die. There’s no way I die here. I will not die and leave him behind! If I die before this man, it will be on my deathbed, after living a long and fulfilling life. I will not accept it happening any other way. My life is worth more. I won’t let it get stolen in such an absurd way.
Losing my focus while swaying and supporting myself with both hands, I glared at the surrounding men. For an instant, the islanders were caught off guard by my sudden change but then they glared back at me. Spears and swords in their hands reflected the dim moonlight. The edges of the weapons rose into the air and I shut my eyes instinctively. And then it happened.
「What do you think you’re doing to my Filmina?!」
I heard a loud noise and felt a wind as strong as a storm. Timidly, I opened my eyes and saw that the wind, not even moving a single hair on my head knocked down all the men around me.
I muttered his name dumbfounded as he came running to my side, carrying a basket in one hand. Fascinated I watched his silhouette under the moonlight. After not seeing him for so long, he looked even more beautiful and sweet than how I remembered him. I knew all too well that it wasn’t the case, though. However, after getting relieved from the previous distress, I suddenly felt exhausted. The strength slowly left the hands supporting my body. I started to shake violently and fell down. Just before I hit the ground, the boy caught and supported me.
「Filmina, are you alright?!」
I nodded with difficulty and he smiled in relief. His smile vanished instantly however, as he shrewdly glared at the surrounding people. The Islanders had their eyes fixed on us with a mixture of fear and fury.
「Black hair! Elizabell’s wizard has come!」
「Quickly, kill him!」
The boy’s arm was around me, supporting me. I felt how strained it was, unconsciously I touched his hand with mine. The Islanders tried to unanimously attack us while pointing their weapons in our direction with trembling hands, but he moved them out of his way. He wasn’t hesitant at all, on the contrary, he behaved like a nonchalant child, pulling risky stunts.
「Foolish. Even if it is a curse, it’s harmless to you.」
At these words not only the Islanders were surprised. I was also startled, I looked up at him and saw his glare fixated on the Islanders, while he still supported me. There was no fear nor any uneasiness in his stare. His face expressed complete self-confidence, as if he was stating the truth matter-of-factly.
「W-What are you saying?!」
「Do you have any proof?」
It was a fair question, in response to which Edi let me go after a brief embrace and took something out from a basket he had been carrying.
「This is the source of Filmina’s illness.」