Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
Many doctors were anti-Church. Rather, it would be more accurate to say that because the Church hated doctors, doctors also hated the Church in return.
Medicine originally belonged to the Church. If someone was sick or injured, they would go to them for treatment. But because of the increase in the number of doctors, the Church had inevitably become less important.
That’s why the Church hated doctors, saying that saving people’s lives for money was an act lower than even that of the devil. I could understand why doctors struggled to maintain their faith after that.
Sickness and injury couldn’t be cured by praying. Doctors knew that, and that’s why they relied more on knowledge and skill, not the miracles of God.
Now if a doctor acknowledged a saint’s miracles to be real, they suddenly sounded like the real deal.
We found unexpected information in an unexpected place. I had no idea if this Saint of Akdios was connected to the copy of the Grimoire of Zero, but if she was nearby, we couldn’t pass it up.
“Well, even if we thought she was a witch,” Tito continued, “now that the Church had intervened, we can’t say bad things about her anymore. If her healings were recognized as miracles, those who slandered her would have trouble living their lives.”
“Are there people who think that she’s a witch?”
Tito gave a troubled look. “Please don’t ask me that.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not gonna pry deeper.”
“I appreciate that. I have my position in the guild to think about as well. They already look down on me just because I’m a vet. Anyway, if you’ve just entered the country, you probably don’t have a map yet. You can have mine. I don’t need it any—”
“Please don’t go! We need doctors!”
A shrill cry ripped through the messroom, cutting Tito off.
I looked towards the direction of the voice and saw a child, with his shoulders and head wrapped in bandages, screaming and clinging to a doctor.
It was the kid I rescued earlier.
“C-Calm down! We just stitched you up. Your wounds might open.”
“There’s already a shortage of doctors at the moment. What are we going to do if more and more left?! Please. We can work once we’re healed. And then you’ll get paid! Without doctors, all we can do is wait for death! You’re all going to abandon this country?!”
“Why don’t you just go to the Saint?! She heals for free—”
“She only heals the rich! Poor people like us can barely get into the Holy City! How in the world can we ask her?!”
“We need to put food on the table too! We can’t work as doctors in this country!” A young doctor yelled, pulling on the boy.
The child screamed then crouched down, unable to bear the pain of his wound.
“Please,” he sobbed before collapsing. He did not move after that.
The young doctor stared at the boy with a pale face, and fled out of the dining hall. No one could say anything. No one knew what to do. They all just watched the unconscious child.
Tito, unable to just sit back and watch, was about to step forward, when Zero stopped him.
“Mercenary,” she said. As I lowered my gaze, Zero chuckled and shot a glance at the kid. “That looks like a good source of information.”
Source of information? “Oh, I get you.” She was absolutely right.
We could learn about the Saint of Akdios and the state of this country from him. A poor child like him might spill everything freely.
If we wanted the kid, now was our best chance. I walked up to the boy. Tito was about to say something, but Zero reassured him, “Let him handle it. He will not do anything bad to the child.”
Fortunately, no one seemed to show interest in the child. I doubt they’d demand compensation for the damages from a gravely-wounded kid either.
Besides, the innkeeper was quietly leading two horses that were pulling the carriage into his stables with a smile. They looked like good horses. He could easily pay for the restoration by selling them.
Why in the world did the kid crash the carriage into the inn? I’d bet he had some stupid reason behind it.
The black carriage looked lavish, and the two horses were young and healthy stallions. There was no way they would let a child in dirty rags ride such a high-class carriage.
It was clear that the travelers and the innkeeper didn’t want any trouble by asking questions. If the innkeep in particular knew what was going on, they might have to let go of the horse they had acquired. A wise businessman would insist they didn’t know anything when they sold them off.
Some might actually be curious, but I was sure no one would have the courage and guts to object to me, a Beastfallen, taking custody of the child. I could just come up with some random reason later.
Carrying the unconscious child, I hurriedly left the messroom before anyone could say anything.
The room I was given was, of course, a stable. For inns with many guests, stables were treated like rooms, where the poor and Beastfallen like me were shown to, no matter how many rooms were still available.
There were times when I thought about getting a regular room since I had Zero with me, but she said, “I am better suited to the stables”. As such, we basically slept in stables.
Zero didn’t care where she slept as long as she had my fur, apparently.
Laying the kid on the straw, I wiped the traces of food clinging to my fur, and started writing a reply to Albus.
“So you can write,” Zero said with a hint of surprise while pressing against my back.
There was a significant difference in our height. Even when I was sitting and Zero was standing, her eyes were still at a level lower than mine. So when Zero tried to peek at me from behind, she put almost her entire weight on my back.
“You’re freakin’ heavy.”
“Do you wish to have your ears plucked?”
“You’re a little too light,” I quickly corrected. “Eat more food.”
Zero’s fingers moved away from my ears. I think I almost died. Gotta be careful about what I say. The witch picked up the parchment up from the desk. There were only two lines in it.
“‘Rumors of Magic in the Republic of Cleon’s Akdios. Requesting follow-up investigation on the copy of the grimoire’. Is this all?”
“I can read and write, but I ain’t good at it. Best I can do is use standard templates and substitute words. Pretty sure that’s enough. What else should I even write?”
“A lot, is there not? Like, ‘How are you doing?’ or ‘Traveling with Zero is fun’. You can also write ‘Zero looks beautiful every day’ or ‘I wish to kiss her’. Something along those lines.”
“Let me tell you something, witch. If you push too hard, men tend to pull back.”
“In that case, I simply need to push to the limit to obtain victory.”
“It’s not about winning! Listen. Men are more attracted to shyness or vulnerability that makes them want to protect the girl.”
“Preposterous. Thirteenth treated the weak-willed like trash.”
“Don’t use that guy as the standard! Your brother doesn’t think like a normal human being!”
A sudden chill ran down my spine. I felt Thirteenth’s dark and vicious gaze on my back, like some slug crawling.
Please don’t tell me you’re spying on me with some shady spell. I hated that I couldn’t rule out that possibility.
“Is something wrong?” Zero asked. “You are shaking.”
“It’s nothing. Something awful just popped into my mind.”
I couldn’t stand Thirteenth, apparently. Breathing a sigh, I rolled up the parchment and shoved it in my bag.
“Kid,” I called. “You can move if you’re awake.”
The child had been pretending to be asleep for a while now. His body stiffened for a moment, then he slowly got up, understandably cautious. After passing out in the messroom, he found himself in the stables with a Beastfallen. Even an adult would be frightened by this situation. A child who looked to be more or less ten years old couldn’t possibly stay calm.
The sight of the scrawny child with sun-bleached hair and freckles, cowering on the straw in fear of me, somehow made me feel bad.
“Relax. As you can see, I’m a Beastfallen, but I won’t eat you.” I made my voice sound as gentle as possible. “How’s your wound? Does it hurt?”
The child stirred, then nodded. “I’m fine,” he said. “But I feel sticky…” A frown formed on his freckled face.
I must’ve gotten some cream soup on him when I carried him, but I had no reason to explain all that.
“Who are you, gramps?” the boy asked. “The inn’s bouncer or something? Wh-What are you planning to do with me?”