Chapter 104: The Saint of the Rampart*
The wind gently touched my cheeks. It made me feel a little chilly rather than comfortable.
The ramparts of Garoua Maria. I looked up at the sky and noticed how wide it was. Perhaps, this was the first time I’ve seen the sky like this.
I often saw the sky from the back of the narrow alleys when I was a child. I remember taking little glimpses of the sky back then. As I got older, I stopped looking at sky.
This was probably the first time I have stared straight up at the wide blue sky.
I lifted the fingers from my right hand slowly and lightly. I felt a slight numbness from my fingertips to my shoulder. But, that was it. I felt no pain anymore.
It seemed that my body returned to its original form. Rather, I felt even more comfortable than ever, probably because I had enough rest.
I had no problems whatsoever. However, a voice did not leave my mind ever since that day.
“…Face me, hero. That is the duty of a winner.”
I immediately wrinkled between the eyebrows. I felt as if a heavy object fell on the bottom of my belly. I sighed loudly as I leaned on the wall.
I couldn’t believe what that old man said. I couldn’t swallow his words. Perhaps, that old man tried to deceive me with his petty talk. Yes, to me.
I knew exactly who I was. I knew how much I could do. I was no hero. Sometimes, I longed to be a hero. That’s the only truth. To be exact, I was a hungry demon who didn’t know its place.
I stroked my skin the moment I recalled that old man’s words. The word “hero” made me feel horrible inside.
Hero. Those who were strong, and capable of changing history themselves. Heroes were those who reached for the impossible and had a brilliant sparkle.
Ah, no good. In the past, and even now, the shadows of heroes continued to burn in my heart. It was useless for me to distract my eyes and think about something else. I could not run away from this torture. The figure of a hero was imprinted in my eyes, and I couldn’t shake it off.
Thoughts ran from one end of my head to the other end. These feelings were confusing and frustrating. Even if I laid down, these feelings would never go away. My body rested enough, but my mind didn’t rest at all.
「…It seems you rested well. You needed that rest. After all, you pushed yourself to the limits by working on your own. I never thought you were so enthusiastic about working yourself to death. Yes, that trait of yours actually suits you.」
At the same time as the wind blew, a voice suddenly reached my earlobes and remained inside. Aside from the smooth quality of this voice, the words seemed to sprinkle some poison. A cold tone that resembled an unmovable stone.
I raised my laying body, and turned my gaze to the voice. At the end of my line of sight stood the Saint woman who squinted her eyes and glared at me. What a dignified persona.
「That’s not exactly true. I have rested my body well enough, but my spirit remains unsettled. I’m sure the Lady Saint has experienced this before too.」
I spoke with a light tone against her torn-sounding words.
I could see the distorted face of Saint Matia. As usual, she was a woman who expressed her emotions despite her calculating character. Of course, for me, this trait of hers was amusing. I could read her emotions quite easily. Besides, I never got tired of watching her struggle with her emotions.
Her cheeks quivered slightly, and her hands raised lightly.
Come to think of it. This was the first time in a long time that the Saint woman spoke to me.
It has been a while since I returned to Garoua Maria, but during that time, we barely exchanged words with one another.
The Saint woman, who was the actual leader of the Heraldic Order, was extremely busy every day. But even so, the days when we didn’t meet each other continued for a while. I thought that she was avoiding me on purpose.
Well, to be honest, there was nobody who would want to associate themselves to the person they hated.
Therefore, it was strange for me that she came here to see me today. I wondered if there was something going on. She could use a messenger to inform me of irregularities. Indeed, I did not understand the current situation.
Matia opened her mouth with a slight tension on her shoulders.
「Well…Eh, I was looking for you. 」
Matia murmured as she searched for words.
I wondered why she looked for me. Perhaps, I wasn’t the one whom she looked for. She probably wanted to ask about the shadows that followed me. No wonder. I was nothing after all. She involuntarily rounded her eyes and, her mouth became tense and stopped moving.
Ah, I knew why she was here. She was probably looking for the silver-haired war goddess and the black-haired Sorceress. She must be looking for Caria and Filaret La Volgograd.
I felt somewhat excluded upon realizing this. As if heavy rocks surrounded my neck.
Well, I didn’t hate them nor did I want to avoid them.
Rather, I felt a strange uplifting feeling. A very odd emotion that wrapped my heart. It felt soothing at first, perhaps pleasant. This feeling had absolutely no hatred. At the same time, however, I felt a sense of discomfort that came from my esophagus. Not a refreshing feeling at all. Was it a bad one or a pleasant one? I had no idea.
Nonetheless. Only this time today, I couldn’t help but wanting to meet Caria and Filaret.
「Why don’t you leave this place? Just get up. You have rested long enough as far as I can see. Your body healed properly. Laying here during the daytime won’t change anything.」
Matia spoke with a thrusting and sharp-edged voice.
This woman. What did she want from me? Did she want me to do her errands? Then, did she come all the way over the ramparts to tell me those words? She looked like she did not like the way I stood over here. But why? Why was she so concerned about what I did? This woman was too passionate and bossy about things that did not concern me.
「Perhaps, I should go and help other people. That’s important. But, it’s not easy to do so when someone has a tied up life.」
On this moment, Matia’s big eyes quivered a little. The eyebrows moved up. What should I say about that expression? She looked quite puzzled.
The Saint woman had a vivid expression on her face. She was a calculating woman who discarded useless emotions. However, she harbored a reckless light in her eyes. Who knew that the stoic and emotionless Saint would show her inner thoughts so vividly?
I involuntarily opened my eyes when I felt a menacing mood coming from her. I was prepared to receive her wrath because of my sarcasm. However, my assumption was wrong. Her expression calmed down a little.
「…Is that so? I see. Is there such a thing? 」
For a moment, I couldn’t understand her question. It wasn’t until the wind got stronger that I could finally move my lips.
「Yeah, of course. Helping people should be done during the leisure time in your life. Doing so, one can do their best to help people in need.」
After hearing my reply, Matia rounded her eyes as if she had a hard time chewing my words.
It seemed that my words were quite surprising to her. However, on the other hand, for me, Matia’s expression was more unexpected.
The human being called Saint Matia was definitely not an ordinary person.
She had undoubtedly a strong charisma. She was an important figure in history. One could clearly see why she was made the Saint of the Heraldic Order. And why she was a hero herself.
Her calculation, views and judgement seemed extremely cold. Unlike me, she had no worries or troubles in facing obstacles. Her resolve was absolute. She did everything meticulously and thoroughly.
When it came to her sharp blade-like personality, she certainly attracted people to her side.
Many people just spent the days without making any decisions. However, Saint Matia was the opposite. She was a leader. She knew what she had to do. She had resolve and had a strong grip. To them, Saint Matia was a person who radiated light. Who gave them hope and a path to follow. It made sense why she had so many followers.
Ahh, how nostalgic. There was once a time where I couldn’t make my own decisions as well. I just lived each day without much thought. Without resolve. I used to be just a walking piece of meat.
That said, it was clear that Saint Matia was a fascinating symbol that changed people’s lives.
Therefore, it was surprising that she was now worried about the smallest things. Saint Matia never pondered about helping people. If she felt like it, she would do it immediately. Otherwise, she wouldn’t. She never deliberated over something before. She always knew what she wanted to do. That’s why, right now, her behavior seemed surprising and unexpected to me.
「But still. Helping people is a good thing. And this good thing brings joy to the people.」
Again, Saint Matia looked at me with a face that she could not understand what I said.
This time it was my turn to open my mouth.
Yeah, that’s right. Despite being the Saint, she was just a human being. There were things that she could not understand the meaning.
I noticed her profound misperception. She tried to suppress these thoughts as she began to feel upset. But, to no avail. I saw her unstable body movements and the fast-accelerated breath. Upon seeing her current state, I exhaled loudly, as I bit the chewing tobacco I found with my fingertips.
I leaned against the stonewall of the ramparts, while biting the chewing tobacco and enjoying the smoky scent that came into my nose. Matia’s eyes came into my view. The color of her eyes still had a profound confusing color attached to them.
*A defensive wall of a castle or walled city, having a broad top with a walkway and typically a stone parapet.
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!