Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
After leaving the mansion, we set fire to some corpses that were roaming the yard, and then moved to the roof of a nearby house. It was a sturdy and elegant house, as one would expect from a residence built near the saint’s mansion. Fortunately there was no sign of anyone else around. The inhabitants seemed to have escaped the moment corpses started crawling out of the lake.
“The fire is so huge, it looks like daytime,” Zero said. “Perhaps we did not need the lantern.”
Zero watched the burning mansion as she lit up the lanterns she took from inside. The wine and oil served as tremendous fuel. The flames spread wildly while we moved to this spot, fire spewing out of the windows.
Zero arranged the lanterns in a circle so Cal would easily notice us. I sure hope this catches his attention.
“Look!” screamed someone. “The saint’s mansion is burning!”
Whoever it was raced towards town. It didn’t take long for people to learn what was happening.
Before I knew it, people had gathered around the mansion, feeling anxious.
“Where’s Her Eminence?” they asked.
“Look!” One of the onlookers pointed to the roof. “She’s over there! The dead are attacking her!”
Even from the ground, they could see Lia on the roof and the horde of corpses surrounding her.
The corpses streamed out the windows, crawled up the walls, and rushed to the roof where Lia was. Those that couldn’t make it to the roof fell to the ground like lifeless puppets. Still they rose back up, dragging their limbs, so they could climb to the roof again.
“That’s some tenacity right there,” I said. “You sure it’ll all work out?”
“I have explained this to you before. If a witch cannot create perfect wardings, they will be devoured by demons.”
Said warding was made of “letters” and “words.” I could not completely trust it.
But despite my worries, the warding was effective. The roof was filled with corpses except for the small area around Lia. She was down on her knees, clasping both hands together and praying to God.
Almost looks like a miracle.
As if reading my thoughts, the crowd below us stirred.
“It’s a miracle. The Goddess has blessed Her Eminence! That’s why those corpses can’t get near her!”
“That is my warding,” Zero grumbled as she looked to the skies, searching for Cal. “I am the astounding one, not the saint.”
In my opinion, the most astounding one around was Lia kneeling in the middle of corpses and flames. I kept the thoughts to myself, though.
I followed Zero’s gaze, but all I could see were the moon and stars. The dazzling flames blotted them out.
I directed my gaze at the mansion once more. The flames were about to reach the roof at any moment. If that happened, even “God’s miracle” would not be able to protect Lia. If the horde of corpses didn’t devour her, the flames would.
“Will he really come? Will he make it in time?”
“I do not know. I am praying to God that he will.” Zero quietly clenched her fists as she looked up at the sky.
The tension in the air was palpable. I also subconsciously clenched my fists and stared at the sky, looking for a white figure.
Come on. Please notice the fire.
Flames shot up over the edge of the roof. Ironically, the corpses rushing to the roof became a wall, blocking the flames and protecting Lia from the heat.
But it would not last long. The raging flames consumed the frame of the mansion. I could see the roof beginning to collapse. Lia flinched, terrified by the flames.
The warding only had a small range, and it was surrounded by walking corpses. There was no escape for Lia. Even if the foundation held, the situation would be no different than being burned at the stake.
Then suddenly I noticed Lia acting strange. I squinted. In her hand was a knife.
“Shit! She has Theo’s knife!”
I had forgotten to retrieve the knife that rolled into the corner of the room when I held Theo down. Lia had picked it up and kept it hidden. It was obvious what she needed it for.
“She’s going to kill herself!”
“No, he will make it.” Staring at the sky, Zero’s eyes lit up. “I suppose the Church’s God is not so worthless, after all. Look.”
She pointed to the sky and waved the lantern around. When I turned my head, I saw a white figure gliding across the red skies.
Noticing the light from the lantern, Cal glided down towards us, landing with a few powerful flaps of his wings.
“Mercenary! Zero! What the hell are you guys doing?!” Why is the mansion on fire? I could see the flames from the top of the hill! You better have Lia with you!”
“I am glad you are here, Hawk,” Zero said. “We do not have time to explain the situation. Look at the roof of the mansion!”
Cal turned his head towards the mansion. His beak opened wide. Perhaps he dropped his jaw at the horrifying sight.
He needed no explanation. It was clear that Lia’s life was in danger, and there was no time to lose.
The saint was about to pierce her heart. In a split-second, Cal nocked an arrow and fired towards her. The arrow flew straight through the flames and hit the knife, knocking it out of Lia’s hand.
Cal dashed from the roof and took flight. Zero and I covered our eyes from the turbulence. When I looked up, Cal was already flying high in the sky, circling around in a gliding position.
“Lia! Hold out your hand and I’ll grab it!”
Lia turned her eyes above. The moment she saw Cal, she immediately relaxed, all the tension leaving her body.
“Cal! I knew you would come for me!”
Lia stretched her arm out fully. Cal came gliding at incredible speed, but it was too late. The roof collapsed, and Lia’s body was thrown into the flames. The crowd of people screamed and covered their eyes in despair.
But Cal never slowed down. He dove straight into the raging flames without hesitation. A moment later, a white figure flew out of the vortex of flames. Sparks spattered.
It was Cal, carrying Lia in his arms. I joined the crowd in their cheers, which was rather out-of-character for me.
“The bastard did it! I might even fall for you!”
“Wait, there is something wrong!” Zero said, shuddering. “His wings are on fire. He can not fly properly. They will fall!”
Cal flapped his wings widely to slow down their descent, but when he realized it was impossible, he held Lia to his chest to protect her.
He crashed hard and rolled on the ground. Cal’s bones had the same structure as birds’, hollow and extremely fragile. There was no way they could withstand the impact of the fall.
What’s more, Cal fell onto the mansion’s yard. No one could get close because of the burning trees all around. We had to get to them quick, or they would burn to death.
“This is bad… Mercenary!”
“I know! We can’t let them die here!”
Leaving Zero and Theo’s body behind, I jumped down the roof and rushed towards the two.
The fire in the mansion had spread to the surrounding trees and were now about to reach the town.
“Get some water!” people from the crowd shouted. “Put out of the fire!”
Pushing through the crowd, I leapt through the wall of flames and dove into the saint’s mansion. At first I heard Lia’s cries as she called Cal’s name, then I found her bawling while clinging to Cal’s body.
A corpse, part of its body burning, was tenaciously moving towards Lia to attack her. I raised my sword and, in one swift step, closed the distance and drove the corpse into the burning bushes.
“Lia! Are you okay?! How’s Cal—”
I stopped dead in my tracks. Lia was burned pretty badly, the skin on her right arm inflamed. But Cal’s injuries were more serious.
His wings were gone, burned by the fire. Most of his feathers were burned off, leaving only a crushed and broken skeleton exposed. There wasn’t a lot of blood, but the bones in his body were probably shattered as well.
He’s not gonna make it.
It was a miracle that he was even breathing right now. Even if I went back to call for Zero immediately, she probably would not make it in time.
Lia seemed oblivious of her injuries and the inferno around her. She was embracing Cal’s bloody face, crying.
“Cal… Cal! No… Please, don’t die! You’ll be fine… I’ll heal you!”
Lia put her hand on Cal’s wound and closed her eyes. But nothing happened. Cal’s wings remained twisted, pained groans coming from his mouth.
Lia opened her eyes in despair. “Why… Why can’t I heal him?! Why?! Why?!”
“Negation,” I muttered.
Lia turned to me. “Mercenary… Cal is…”
“The witch has negated your Magic. You can no longer use Sacrixigs.”
She could not help Cal.
“That’s not fair!” Lia cried. Her whole face was a mess.
Cal grabbed Lia’s shoulder and pushed her toward me. “Mercenary,” he pleaded. “Please. Take her with you.”
He didn’t want Lia to see him die. Without a word, I grabbed Lia’s arm and tried to pull her away from Cal, but she would not budge, clinging to Cal’s body as if she would never leave.
“No! We’ve finally been reunited! I’ve been waiting for you all this time!”
Cal’s eyes widened and quickly narrowed again. “Heh… So you remember our promise…”
“Of course! I would never forget the promise I made with you!”
Cal would become a mercenary to earn money and one day come to pick Lia up. A promise made at the orphanage, almost like kids just fooling around.
“I see…” Cal murmured in a hoarse voice. “I should’ve just snatched you away, then… We could’ve gone some—” He screamed in pain, his talons digging into the ground. He no longer had the energy to move.
“No, don’t die!” Lia cried. “Please, God! I’m willing to sacrifice anything! So please… don’t let him die!” Lia’s sorrowful cries seemed to fan the flames higher.
Although not as intense as when Theo died, a terribly bitter feeling came over me. But there was no time for sentimentality.
I put my hand on Lia’s shoulder. “We can’t stay here long. Let’s get out of here.”
It was then that light began to rain down from the sky, flickering like crystal shards. For a moment I thought it was sparks, but it was too fine and there were too many. And most importantly, my clothes did not burn.
They were like snowflakes falling on a chilly winter night. But they didn’t feel cold. The tiny balls of light disappeared as soon as they touched my body.
The wound on my left hand had almost healed, but now it was completely gone. Not even a scar remained.
I looked at Cal and saw that the blood had stopped flowing from his wings. Crushed and broken bones were reconnected, and lush feathers began to grow on his back. His chest rose and fell gently.
He opened his eyes. “The pain is… gone?” He was dumbfounded. “It can’t be.” He turned pale and looked at Lia. He probably thought she was using Sacrixigs.
But before Lia could say anything, she collapsed. Cal quickly picked her up, but she was unconscious and unmoving.
“Lia! Say something!”
There was a stir among the crowd of people beyond the wall of flames.
“My injuries are being healed!” someone said.
Healing light continued to fall where I was. Apparently it was the same case out there.
Come to think of it, I don’t feel any heat.
The flames were close, and the air around should be hot, but I didn’t feel the pain of being seared by the flames.
“Am I being healed before I could feel the heat?”
The light seemed to heal burns before the brain could perceive it.
Is this Zero’s Magic?
“Hey, Mercenary. What is that?” Cal said.
I turned my head and saw something odd in the sky on the other side of town. A black pillar seemed to be sticking out of the ground. But I immediately realized it was no ordinary pillar.
“It’s water!” shouted someone from the crowd.
“Water is gushing out!”
It was a huge column of water. Another one erupted with a boom behind the mansion as well. More and more burst forth around Akdios. A thunderous roar wrapped the city as though it was in the middle of a waterfall.
I covered my ears to block out the sound. The people in the square were all staring up at the column of water with their mouths agape. Every column of water intersected in the middle of the city and burst.
A large amount of water sprayed down onto the flames, dousing them in the blink of an eye. It took me a while to realize that it was Zero’s Magic. It was just as extraordinary as the rain of lights.
“It’s a miracle,” someone muttered.
I gave a strained laugh. “That’s what you’d think.”
After all, there was saint in this city.
“It’s a miracle from the saint!”
People started chanting “It’s a miracle!” Cheers of joy filled the square.
“All hail Her Eminence!”
Voices extolling the saint filled the air, enveloping Lia. But the moment the flames died down, their cheers turned to bafflement.
Lia did not wake up for the next three days.