Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
“I know this is a little late, but don’t let the priest know about this.”
“I’ll be fine. Besides, I’ve been thinking about not returning to Fort Lotus.”
“Your mom’s waiting for you, isn’t she? You should go and see her.”
“No, not anymore. Besides, there’s something I want to do, and I don’t think I can do it if I stayed there.”
“What’s this thing you wanna do then?”
“It’s a secret! My mom said that if you tell people your wish, it won’t come true.”
The horse neighed loudly, and the wagon stopped moving. The carriage ahead of us, the one Zero and the others were in, had stopped.
I leaned out, trying to see what was happening, and saw a young woman standing in the middle of the road with her arms outstretched as if to block the carriage. The driver quickly dismounted from his seat and tried to move her away, but she planted herself firmly on the ground, unmoving.
“Why are you doing this, my lord?!” she shouted, her voice filled with anger.
She sounded betrayed. It was the kind of voice that would make people on the street stop in their tracks.
The driver covered her mouth to silence her, but the woman bit his hand and shook it off. She then turned to the carriage and shouted once more.
“Why are you letting a witch into your castle?! My father died because of her! Were your tears just an act?! Was it a lie when you said you wouldn’t forgive a witch who pretends to be a saint?! So in the end, when you have a problem, you turn to such a suspicious woman?! Answer me, Lord Torres!”
A witch pretending to be a saint—Lia.
The look in her eyes was similar to the bandits who kidnapped her.
Her father died because of Lia? How would Lia, who only knew how to heal, kill people? Was it because doctors’ numbers were dwindling and he didn’t receive treatment in time? Just like Theo’s father?
I looked at the carriage parked in front of us, searching for Zero. Then the door flew open, and the governor jumped out in a hurry.
“Parcell!” he yelled. “What is this foolishness?!”
Arms locked by the driver, the woman glared at the governor with teary eyes. Her knees trembled, her mouth tight, as she tried her best to stay on her feet.
“You’re the fool! How could you, of all people, be deceived by a witch?!”
“Watch your mouth, Parcell!”
The governor grabbed the woman’s collar and wrested her away from the driver’s hands, pulling her to himself. A frightened yelp escaped her lips.
Foreheads pressed against each other, the governor glowered at the woman with an incredibly serious look. His lips moved. I couldn’t hear his low, muffled voice, but if my eyes were right, he said…
Then the woman’s face softened quickly.
“And—” Seeing the priest come down from the carriage, the governor raised his long arms. “Brace yourself, heathen!”
A loud smack rang out, and the woman crumbled down on the spot.
“Y-Your Grace!” the priest exclaimed. He couldn’t see, but from what he just heard, he knew something happened. “It’s unfortunate that folks doubt Her Eminence. While it is unacceptable, using violence on a young lady—”
“Father,” the governor said. “Blasphemy against the Church and the Saint is a crime worthy of death. This degree of punishment is necessary for speaking ill of Her Eminence in public. But I ask that you look the other way. She’s the daughter of my gardener. Her father recently passed away, and she’s not in her right mind.”
The priest uttered a short prayer. “You can’t accept the death of someone close to you unless you blame it on someone else,” he said. “I’ve been there.” The priest smiled gently as he helped the woman to her feet. He looked just like a compassionate churchman.
Lia mentioned that he was a kindhearted man. He was probably kind to everyone else except Beastfallen. The Church’s teachings sure were terrifying. After all, he honestly believed that Beastfallen weren’t human.
However, most of the people from the Church would say something like, “Repent for your sins, and devote yourself to the Lord to cleanse your impure souls.” They didn’t usually tell someone to die.
“One day you will be able to accept their death and overcome the grief. May God bless you.”
After saying the standard prayer, he pulled the woman away from the road and returned to the carriage with the governor.
The carriage arrived at the castle soon after without a hitch. The structure itself stood very close to the sea, its milky-white rock walls standing out well from a distance. There were very little decorations, probably due to the sea breeze rusting metal, but if anything, it complemented the color of the sea and the ship flags fluttering in the wind.
While Lia healed the governor’s son, Theo and I were led to a cramped room furnished only by a table and four chairs. The walls and the floor were bare, making it feel like a prison cell.
Since Zero was in the same carriage as Lia and her company, she was able to join them during the healing.
That’s when I finally realized Zero’s intentions. She wanted to see the saint’s miracle up close once more to find out what kind of Magic it was.
There was no way they would permit me, a Beastfallen, to be present, but Zero could have a chance, and in fact, she was allowed to.
The priest might just get angry if I asked questions, but Zero could pretend to be an ignorant girl. Lia and the priest would then teach her many things. That’s why she casually rode with Lia. That’s a witch for you, all right. Completely thorough.
Once Theo was away from the governor’s party, and we were alone, he started grumbling.
“I witnessed something awful,” he said. “What’s his problem? Acting all cocky just because he’s a governor. Sure that lady called the saint a witch, but he didn’t have to slap her that hard.”
I chuckled at his childlike viewpoint. “That’s not it,” I said. “The governor actually protected her.”
“What are you talking about? He hit her with all he got!”
“Because he punished the woman first, the priest didn’t say anything. Besides, he didn’t hit her that hard. It was loud, though.”
Theo puffed up his cheeks. “So you’re defending the rich guy.”
His wealth had nothing to do with it. After a bit of thinking, I clapped my hands together.
Theo jumped at the popping sound. “Wh-What was that for?”
“It’s what the governor did to that woman earlier. It’s loud, but one hit won’t hurt much.”
Frowning, Theo tried clapping his hands together as well. His tiny palms turned a little red, but he knew that both the pain and the redness would soon recede.
“But clapping your hands is different from slapping someone on the face, right?”
“Yeah. That’s why the he slapped her with his palm. If he really wanted to punish her, he could’ve hit her with his fist or a stick. He could have thrown her into jail for blasphemy against the Church too.”
But he didn’t. He settled the matter with one slap in front of a crowd of people. The Church encouraged showing mercy. The governor’s message was probably something like, “As you can see, I have punished her. Please have mercy on her.”
He seemed frivolous, but he was actually quite shrewd.
“So if the governor didn’t do that, would the priest have beaten her instead?” Theo asked.
“Who knows? Perhaps.”
“It’s all so confusing.” Theo ruffled his hair and fell flat on the table.
The woman who jumped in front of the carriage sounded certain when she called Lia a witch. I could understand wanting to blame the death of a relative on someone else. What bothered me, however, was the governor.
Was it a lie when you said you wouldn’t forgive a witch who pretends to be a saint?!
Does he think Lia’s a witch then? Then why bother calling her to cure his sick son? He didn’t care if they were a witch or a saint, as long as his son lived?
Bandits, a gardener’s daughter, and the governor.
What made them think that Lia was a witch?
I racked my brains for a while and eventually gave up without coming up with an answer.