Paula’s Resolve – Part 04

Brinkra complained that her mentor, the Frontier Sage, was so absorbed in his research that he wouldn’t even eat properly, and apparently she had inherited that trait as well.

Paula had already witnessed Brinkra’s research obsession during the night they spent together.

“What to do… The food’s getting cold.”

Brinkra only did the bare minimum of household chores, so Paula cleaned and did a large amount of laundry yesterday.

This morning, Brinkra savored the soup that Paula made. Brinkra was much older than Paula, but appearance-wise they looked to be of the same age, eliciting a sense of kinship in Paula.

“If you chant, ‘Become delicious, become delicious,’ while cooking, the food actually becomes more delicious,” Paula muttered softly as she stirred the stew in the pot.

This was something her friend Priscilla, a fellow party member and hunter, had taught her. It did seem that food became much tastier with the incantation rather than without it.

As Paula was too focused on cooking, she didn’t hear the visitor’s voice coming from the door. The kitchen’s distance and the crackling of firewood in the stove contributed to it as well. Brinkra, the owner of the house, was immersed in her research and didn’t notice the visitor.

“Become delicious…”

They failed to notice the visitor at the entrance.

“Paula.”

“Yes? What is it?” Paula turned around. “…Huh?”

Her body stiffened. She knew very well who the person with the gentle smile was. Sophie Bloomfield, a member of the Four Eastern stars, who had helped save her home village of Cotton-elka. She was highly renowned within the Church for her Healing magic, and even Paula herself had heard her name before becoming an adventurer. Sara was right next to her.

Paula’s mind was in chaos. What are the Four Eastern Stars doing here? Where are the other two? Do they know that this is the house of the Frontier Sage? No, more importantly, what did she call me just now?

“You’re Paula from Cotton-elka, aren’t you?” Sophie said, wearing a serene smile.

A shock ran through Paula’s body.

I’m currently wearing a mask, but I responded to my name.

Her vision went dark.

“Please calm down,” Sophie said. “I want to ask you about your magic—”

Whatever Sophie was saying, Paula didn’t hear it.

H-How? How does she know that I’m Paula? Forget that. If my true identity is revealed, Lord Hikaru will never take me with him ever again! This mask is meant to hide our true identities. No, that’s not all. If they find out who I am, they will also realize that Silver Face is Lord Hikaru!

It was the worst-case scenario. Being abandoned was more painful than being physically hurt, but she could bear it somehow. She would endure anything for Hikaru.

But…

I can’t cause trouble for Lord Hikaru! That’s the one thing I can’t do! He saved my life multiple times and gave me power. I don’t want to be a burden to him.

Paula clenched her teeth.

Please forgive me, Lord Hikaru.


Sophie was a little excited that her assumption turned out to be correct. She was wondering what to do next—what she should ask of Paula, a girl who possessed powerful healing abilities. Her thoughts prevented her from noticing the change in the girl in front of her.

“Can we take this somewhere else?” Sophie asked.

“Wait, Sophie,” Sara said. “Something’s wrong.”

“What?” Sophie looked puzzled.

“Stop!” Sara bounded.

Paula staggered to the cutting board and grabbed a knife. Sara moved quickly, but Paula was faster. She pressed the blade against her own neck, and slashed across.

“Huh?”

Blood spurted out, flowing down Paula’s neck to her chest.

“What are you doing?!”

“Don’t stop me…”

Paula swung the knife toward Sara. Experienced in close combat, Sara swiftly disarmed Paula with ease, then wrestled her to the floor, pinning her down.

“Sophie! Healing magic!”

“Ah, um…”

“Sophie! Hurry! We have to stop the bleeding, or she’ll die!”

“R-Right…”

Sara took out a handkerchief from her pocket to press against the neck, but it immediately turned red.

As Sophie stumbled closer, the suffocating stench of blood made her feel like she had been struck in the head. As a practitioner of Healing magic, she had treated countless bloody patients before. However, witnessing blood gushing out right in front of her and having to treat it was an entirely new experience for her.

“Ugh…”

“Stop struggling, damn it!”

It was clear to Sophie that her own words drove the girl to commit suicide. But now was not the time to think about that.

“O’ God who art in heaven, in your name I ask for a miracle. In my right hand is the gift of life, in my left the blessing of death. Bless us who live in this world. My mana I offer…”

Sophie recited the incantation with a shaky voice, but unable to concentrate, her mana dispersed. Still she had recited the incantation hundreds, thousands of times. Golden light appeared and flowed into Paula’s body.

However, the wound did not close, and the blood continued to flow.

“Get it together, Sophie! Or she’s really going to die!”

“I-I know! But my magic isn’t working!”

“What?!”

“She’s rejecting the Healing magic! As a Healer herself, she understands the principles, so she can reject mana from others.”

“No way…”

“What do we do… What do we do?”

Sophie’s vision blurred. She didn’t understand why things turned out like this. She just wanted to confirm if Flower Face was really Paula and then ask her to use her abilities for the Church.

She was dimly aware that Paula was wearing a mask to hide her identity, but all she could think about was herself. She uncovered the girl’s secret, ignoring whatever reason she might have had.

“We have to do something quick, or else…”

Paula’s face was turning paler by the second.

“I may as well have killed her.”

“What are you doing?!” A cold, spine-chilling voice sounded.

Standing there, breathing heavily, was Silver Face himself. The dirt on his clothes suggested a long trip somewhere.

Even through the mask, Sophie could sense the venom in his gaze, causing her heart to tighten.

Sara spoke in place of the dumbstruck Sophie. “I-It’s not what you think!”

Silver Face directed his gaze towards Sara.

“This is a misunderstanding. We just wanted to talk to Paula. We never expected her to cut her own throat.”

“Then heal her!” he roared. “If she dies, I’ll make you pay.”

Sophie shuddered, her fingers growing cold as ice. “I-I-I’m healing her! But she’s rejecting it!” she cried in a tearful voice.

“I’m sorry… Lord Hikaru… I will pay… for my mistakes… with my death…”

“…”

At that moment, Sophie thought Silver Face’s body grew bigger. Rage emanated from every pore of his body. Bone-chilling fear gripped her.

“You’re not allowed to die!” Silver Face shouted. “Accept the Healing magic, Paula!”

Sophie began reciting the incantation once more.

“…”

Tears welled up in Paula’s eyes and spilled over.

Sophie felt the golden mana entering the girl’s body. It took less than a minute for Paula’s wound to close.

“Move.”

Silver Face pushed the relieved Sophie aside. Sara, who had been restraining Paula, jumped away, making room for him.

Paula’s wound had completely closed, but the copious amounts of blood on the floor was not coming back. A few more minutes, and she would have undoubtedly bled to death.

Silver Face lifted Paula with both arms. Paula’s mouth moved, but no words came out.

“Please, sleep,” Silver Face said, stifling his anger.

Paula gently closed her eyes. Silver Face left the kitchen, carrying Paula. Sara and Sophie couldn’t utter a single word.

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