Volume 2 — Chapter 1: The Republic of Cleion
The book was composed of four volumes: those of Hunting, Harvesting, Capturing, and Safeguarding. Out of those, the book of Safeguarding indeed governed mainly the healing arts.
I had seen Albus use magic from said book to treat burns in the past, and that magic could be used to cure sickness and injury alike without the use of medication or equipment.
“So, Mister Veterinarian, d’ya know when this saint lady first appeared? I hear lots of things, bein’ a mercenary ‘n all, but I ain’t heard anythin’ about this Saint of Arcadius.”
“That figures,” Tito gave an uncomfortable smile.
“Since the saint hasn’t been officially confirmed by the Church yet, she’s sort of like a witch. People aren’t going to tell passersby that they’ve got a saint in their town. It’s only been around a year since word of her started going around, even here in the Republic of Cleion. She cured some big landowner of his incurable disease last year, and her fame skyrocketed. So go figure, the Church sent over someone from Dea Ignis.”
“Dea Ignis? Wait, ya don’t mean the Church’s elite murder squad? ’S there gonna be an inquisition?”
A miracle of God or heretic witch? Dea Ignis’ job was to find out, then report back to the Church.
Unfortunately, what they actually did was far less kind than simple inquisition.
There was no testimony. No trial. Just as long as they decided someone was a witch, they would convict the evil heretic masquerading under the guise of miracle on the spot. To put it bluntly, they would execute them.
Within the Church, it was a rule not to possess weapons made for murder. The members of Dea Ignis, however, got around through the loophole that “as long as it wasn’t made to be a weapon, it’s fine.” It was said they fought using the likes of blacksmiths’ hammers and farmers’ hoes.
Two, maybe three hundred years ago, there was the case of a witch feigning miracles of God, while killing innumerable priests and people. Dea Ignis was formed in response to the event, and were a bunch of fiends trained to match witches in single combat, using weapons that were not weapons.
They truly were armies of one. Honestly speaking, they weren’t people I’d want to make opponents of.
With witches no longer causing real incidents lately, there were those who called into question its raison d’être, but it appeared the group still existed. Hurry up ‘n get that freakish group disbanded already.
I hated witches, but I hated the Church about as much.
My revulsion toward witches had actually thinned through my travels with Zero, and it could be said my revulsion toward the Church had intensified a commensurate amount.
“So, ’s she been confirmed yet?”
“I haven’t heard anything about that; I suppose they’re deliberating at the moment. It’s well known how easy it is to be judged a witch by the Church, and how careful they are with judging miracles. It’s like with women who instantly suspect an affair. They don’t believe words of love.”
He lowered his voice for the last part.
Many doctors were opposed to the Church. …Or, more accurately, there were many doctors opposed to the Church because the Church detested doctors.
Medicine was originally a thing of the Church. If one fell ill or was hurt, one would run to the Church for treatment. But as more and more commercial doctors emerged, it followed that the Church had less and less of a reason to exist.
That was why the Church disliked doctors.
Those who saved lives for money, it proclaimed, were worse than demons.
Even I could understand how hard it was to remain a devout follower after such a declaration.
But either way, praying wasn’t going to help with sickness or injury. Doctors knew this, and so prized knowledge and skill, not the miracles of God.
For these doctors to acknowledge the saint’s miracles—she was probably the real deal.
This was an unexpected situation to learn new information from. This Saint of Arcadius—I wasn’t sure if she had ties to the copy of the Book of Zero, but as she was nearby, we couldn’t just ignore her.
“Well, let’s say someone thinks she’s a witch. They wouldn’t go out of their way to say the saint’s evil because the Church launched an investigation. Because if she is confirmed to be performing miracles, people who had called her evil would have a hard time living their lives afterward.”
“D’ya know any people who think the saint’s a witch?”
“Don’t ask me that,” Tito replied, looking troubled.
“My bad. I won’t ask about the details.”
“That’s appreciated…I’ve got my standing in the guild to worry about, you know. I get looked down on the moment I mention I’m a veterinarian. But never mind that—since you just got here, you don’t have a map yet, do you? Here, take mine. I don’t need it any—“
“Don’t go! What’re we gonna do without doctors around?!”
A shrill voice overrode Tito’s words and rang through the hall.
Looking in the direction of the voice, I saw a child, head and shoulders cocooned in bandages, shouting as he clung to a doctor.
It was the kid I had helped earlier.
“C-calm down! Your wounds were just sewn together. You’ll open them up again if you’re this excited.”
“We already don’t got enough doctors, and if we lose even more on top of that, what the heck’re we supposed to do?! Please, if you fix up sick people, they can work and pay you money! But if there aren’t any doctors, they’re gonna die! Are y’all giving up on this country?!”
“Just ask the saint to help you! Her services are free—“
“The only people she helps’re the rich, ain’t it?! It’s hard to even get into the holy city for poor folk like us! How the heck’re we supposed to get help from her?!”
“We need food to eat too! We can’t live as doctors in this country anymore!” Yelling, the young doctor tore the kid off of him.
Unable to bear the pain of his stitches, the kid cried out and cowered.
“Please,” he sobbed. Then he collapsed.
The child lay there, unmoving.
Pale, the young doctor stared at him, then left as if to escape the dining hall.
No one said anything. No one knew what to do. We simply gazed at the prostrate child.
Tito had enough and took a step forward, but Zero seemed to think of something, and stopped him.
“Mercenary,” Zero called quietly. I looked down at her and she grinned, glancing over at the child.
“Is that…not the perfect source of information?”
Source of information? I was about to respond, but kept silent.
She was right…the perfect source of information.
Information about the Saint of Arcadius. Information about this country’s circumstances. A kid of the poor would be eager to tell us everything.
Now was a good chance to get our hands on him.
I walked toward the child. Tito tried to say something, but Zero reassured him, saying, “Worry not. He won’t do anything bad.”
 The kanji reads: The Goddess’ Sacred Flame.