Volume 2 — Chapter 1: The Republic of Cleion
It was fortunate that the other guests had sat at a distance from me out of dislike, as this meant that few had then been injured when the horse-drawn cart came crashing in.
The ten-something doctors that had just so happened to be present swiftly treated all who were in need of medical care. The atmosphere in the cafeteria was rather light for such an unheard-of incident.
The most severely injured were myself, who had received the brunt of the collision, and the child who was riding on the cart as it came through the wall.
“Is the kid gonna be alright?” I glanced at the doctor as he stitched together the wound on my brow that the horse’s kick had inflicted. He seemed used to treating fallen beasts.
It was the same doctor who had run up a while ago—the one who was missing two of his fingers.
His name was Tito. It was rare that a doctor would give his name to a fallen beast like me.
Several doctors had immediately begun tending to the child, but Tito was the only one who had looked at my wounds and said, “you need care, too.”
Zero crouched down at Tito’s feet and laid out the contents of his bag, running a curious eye over his medical equipment. Tito, of course, tried to stop her. However, Zero teared up and said “I want to see them,” to which Tito had no defense.
She’s an evil woman to be feared…I should be careful too.
In the food court was the cart, toppled over on its side, with broken tables and shattered plates scattered all over.
The diners helped to throw all the rubbish out through the hole in the wall. Watching them from a corner of the hall were those few receiving treatment, myself included.
“Yeah. He’s a strong boy, and more than anything, lucky. There’re skilled doctors here treating everyone. He won’t die that easily.”
“You’re right…that’s a lotta doctors.”
Tito let out a tired chuckle.
“We’re all colleagues from the same doctors’ guild. Traveling in a group like this means each of us pays less. Well, I specialize in animal care. I was the one that fixed up the horse from the cart.”
“You’re a vet?!”
“That’s right,” Tito nodded.
“How could I give medical care to a fallen beast with the body of a carnivorous beast if I weren’t? Personally, I think fallen beasts who can reason and communicate are better than carnivorous beasts—but those who’ve lost all reason and can’t communicate are far worse…”
So he wasn’t used to giving medical care to fallen beasts, only to animals. His missing fingers were probably the handiwork of a wounded animal gone mad when he tried to treat it.
I was a bit hurt, but I did have the appearance of an animal. I would just have to bear it.
“So,” I looked over the dining hall again.
“Are doctors all over gatherin’ in groups? Doctors ’n scholars, they can’t help but hold meetings ‘n conferences when they’re together, can’t they?”
“I won’t deny it, but this time is different. We plan to emigrate from this country. Haven’t they told you the rooms are all full? We’ve all brought along our families, so there’s not many rooms left for anyone else.”
“Emigrate?” I blinked. This entire army of fifteen doctors?
“This country doesn’t need doctors any longer. There’s fewer and fewer patients, and we can’t eat.”
“Every country’s gotta have doctors, right? Lots’a places’re complain’ ‘bout a lack of doctors.”
Tito gave a complicated smile.
It seemed something was off.
“In this country, they have the miracles of God to help cure illness and injury. Of course, that’s a wonderful thing, but we doctors can’t live if we’re not needed. We’re leaving because we can live anywhere but here.”
“Miracles…of God?” I repeated, dumbfounded.
I figured he was teasing me, but Tito looked dead serious.
“The Saint of Arcadius—though that probably doesn’t mean anything to a traveler.”
“Yeah, we just came ta the Republic of Cleion. Arcadius is…”
“It’s a town floating in a salty lake. The lake is so unbelievably big, the first humans to see it thought it was the sea. I heard it actually is linked to the sea underground, after all. There’s a small island on that lake, and there’s a town on that island. Its name is the Holy City of Arcadius.”
“And Arcadius’ got a saint there?”
“Yes…the saint’s a kind person, full of compassion and love. She heals the wounded and sick on the spot, without any medicine or tools, even patients whom we doctors would have no choice but to give up on, and patients with illnesses that have no cure.”
“Well, well…that’s a fishy story if I’ve ever heard one. She’s probably some sorta fraud.”
“It would be great if she were…but unfortunately, this saint’s the real deal. She really can perform miracles, and really does save people. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. If the saint were really a fraud, we wouldn’t’ve lost our jobs.”
“But there ain’t such thing as miracles from God—“
I looked down at my feet. Zero gave me a slight nod, her expression serious.
That was when I realized that there was another possibility.
The handbook to magic, which Zero had penned—the Book of Zero.