Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
“Who are you?” I asked.
The man kneeled down next to me, examined the child’s wounds, then looked at me. “I’m a doctor,” he said. “I’m sorry for acting a little late. You scared me for a moment.” Then the man who claimed to be a doctor shouted to the crowd. “What are you all just standing around for? We have wounded people here! We’re doctors, aren’t we?!”
I immediately understood what he meant. Men dressed in a doctor’s distinctive black cloak, with black bags in their hands, came running out of the crowd. There must have been more than ten of them.
A few of them took the child from my arms, moved over to the table, and immediately began treating him. The rest of the doctors spread out in the messroom, looking for injured people and tending to them.
“Do doctors work in groups these days?” Zero muttered.
I don’t think so, but there’s really no other way to explain this situation.
The next thing I knew, the dining hall was full of doctors.
Fortunately, the customers avoided sitting too close to me, which resulted in fewer casualties.
The injured were also treated promptly by the dozen or so doctors who happened to be present. The atmosphere in the dining hall was bright despite the accident that just occured.
The most severely injured ones were me, who had been hit by the carriage directly, and the kid inside it.
“Is the kid going to make it?” I glanced at the doctor—the one with the missing fingers—stitching up the wound on my forehead. He seemed used to treating Beastfallen.
His name was Tito. He was a bit unusual, introducing himself to a Beastfallen like me. Several doctors treated the child, but only Tito saw to my wounds, saying, “You need medical attention as well.”
Zero crouched down beside Tito, opened the doctor’s bag without permission, and studied his tools curiously. Naturally Tito tried to stop her, but he couldn’t resist her as her eyes moistened and she said, “I wish to see them.”
What a terrifying, wicked woman. I should watch out.
An overturned carriage, shattered tables, and broken plates lay scattered across the messroom. Some customers cleaned up the rubbish, throwing them out the hole in the wall. A few people, including me, were being treated while watching them in a corner.
“Yeah, he’s a tough boy,” Tito answered. “Most of all, he’s lucky. He’s got a couple of good doctors attending to him. He’s not going to die that easily.”
“True… that’s a hell of a lotta doctors.”
Tito let out a somewhat weary laugh. “We all belong to the same Doctors Guild. We can save in travel expenses by moving as a group. Well, I exclusively deal with animals. I’m the one who treated the horse.”
“You’re a vet?!”
“I am.” Tito nodded. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to tend to Beastfallen. I prefer your kind over fierce animals, since you can think and speak. Of course, Beastfallen who had lost their reason are worse to deal with than animals.”
So he wasn’t used to treating Beastfallens, but he was used to treating actual beasts. Apparently his fingers were bitten off by a rampaging, wounded animal.
It hurt a little, but I did actually look like a beast. Gotta control myself. I looked around the mess room once more.
“Is there a doctor’s gathering somewhere?” I asked. “You know how doctors and scholars like to meet up and do conventions or seminars.”
“I won’t deny it, but that’s not the case this time. We were planning to move out of the country. Weren’t you told rooms were all full? Everyone’s traveling with their family, so we’re basically squeezing ourselves in the rooms.”
I blinked repeatedly. Move out? All fifteen or so doctors?
“This country doesn’t need doctors anymore. We get fewer patients, and we can no longer support ourselves.”
“There’s no country out there that doesn’t need doctors. There’s a shortage of doctors everywhere.”
Tito gave a complicated smile. It sounds like there’s some reason for it.
“In this country, God’s miracle cures diseases and heals injuries. It’s a wonderful thing, of course, but we doctors can’t sustain our livelihoods if we aren’t needed. That’s why we’re leaving. We can work as doctors outside this country.”
“God’s… miracle?” I asked. I thought he was playing me, but Tito looked deadly serious.
“The Saint of Akdios. I suppose a traveler like you won’t recognize the name.”
“Yeah, I just arrived in Cleon recently. What exactly is this Akdios?”
“It’s a city in the middle of an incredibly vast lake. It’s so vast that people who see it for the first time think it’s the ocean. I heard it’s actually connected to the sea underground. There’s a small island in the lake, and on the island is a place named the Holy City of Akdios.”
“So there’s a saint there?”
Tito nodded. “She’s a very kind-hearted saint, full of mercy and compassion. She heals sickness and wounds in a matter of seconds—even grave injuries that doctors cannot mend and incurable diseases—without the use of medicine or tools.”
“Well that doesn’t sound fishy at all,” I said. “She’s probably some kind of a fraud.”
“I wish that was the case, but unfortunately she’s the real deal. She really works miracles and really saves people. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. If she was a fraud, we wouldn’t be out of work.”
“But God’s miracle isn’t something you can easily—”
“Mercenary,” Zero called.
I lowered my gaze to my feet. Zero gave a light nod, her eyes serious.
Then a possibility came to mind. The book of Magic: the Grimoire of Zero. It consisted of four chapters—Hunting, Capture, Harvest, and Protection—and the last one, Protection, dealt mainly with healing.
I had seen Albus treating burns with Magic from the chapter of Protection before. With it, healing illnesses and injuries without the use of medicine or tools would be possible.
“Hey, doc. When did this saint appear? As a mercenary, I often hear rumors and such, but I’ve never heard of a Saint in Akdios.”
“Of course, you haven’t.” Tito smiled. “Until the Church officially recognizes them, saints are treated like witches. No one would willingly talk to travelers about having a saint in their town. It’s only in the last year or so that her name became known. Last year she cured a landowner of an incurable disease, catapulting her to fame. And as expected, the Church sent one of Dea Ignis’s members.”
“Dea Ignis? You mean the Church’s elite death squad? The Inquisitors?”
It was the job of Dea Ignis to determine whether someone was performing God’s miracles, or if they were simply a heretical witch, and report back to the Church. However, what they actually did wasn’t as simple as regular questioning.
There would be no testimony. No trial. If their target was deemed to be a heathen faking miracles, they were judged on the spot. In other words, executed.
The Church had a rule that stated that priests were not allowed to own weapons made to kill people. But Dea Ignis were said to fight with a blacksmith’s hammer or a farmer’s hoe under some twisted interpretation that “it is good as long as you don’t use an object that was created as a weapon”.
The group was apparently formed some two to three hundred years ago after an incident in which a witch pretending to perform miracles killed countless priests and ordinary citizens. In short, they were monsters trained to kill witches single-handedly while using objects that weren’t exactly weapons. They were mighty warriors, so to speak. Honestly I wouldn’t want to meet any of them.
There were many people who questioned their significance in this day and age, when witches no longer caused serious incidents. If you asked me, they should just dissolve such a terrifying group.
I hated the Church just as much as witches. Actually, since I started traveling with Zero, I’d become less hostile towards witches, and more antagonistic towards the Church.
“So, was she acknowledged as a saint?” I asked.
“I haven’t heard anything about that. I guess they’re in the middle of deliberating. The Church is known for its quickness in identifying witches and its cautiousness in recognizing miracles.” Tito lowered his voice to a whisper. “They’re like women who immediately suspect you of cheating. They don’t believe in words of love.”