Volume 2 — Chapter 2: The Saint and the Father
“Now then, I must get to healing all of the thieves’ wounds!”
With a clap of her hands, the Saint gave a beaming smile.
“What—but milady Saint! They are the band of outlaws who kidnapped you!”
“But, if I leave their wounds untreated, they will surely die. These are the woods after all…no one would come to help them, right? So I must aid them…”
The Saint’s attendant broke her silence to speak to the Saint, whose expression had once again become clouded.
“Milady Saint, I know you are kind. But each miracle you perform takes its toll on your body. Just think of what could happen if you healed the injuries of as many as five people…”
She lit the lantern hanging from her waist, and the area grew faintly brighter.
When the attendant did so, the priest furrowed his brow and turned away, moving some distance away. The lantern’s light was probably dazzling to his eyes after so long in the dark.
“But if I leave them, they will die…wild dogs will come.”
“Can’t I?” The Saint begged once again. Her attendant, who seemed to be responsible for the Saint’s physical condition, sighed in resignation and said: “If you so insist.”
“Fuck no! I ain’t lettin’ that witch use ‘er sorcery on my injuries!”
One of the thieves refused, even going as far as calling the Saint a witch in front of the priest.
“Hey Father, ‘re ya blind or somethin’…? That bitch’s a witch! You gotta kill—ack”
The pole the priest held in his hand struck upward into the thief’s jaw.
“Watch your mouth. It is I who decides if she is a Saint—or a witch. Until then she is under my supervision, and my protection. I will not allow physical harm to become of her, of course, and nor will I tolerate slander against her. The reason you are still breathing is because I am honoring the law’s proper judgement. But the next time you speak ill of her—I will slice your head off where you stand.”
“No,” the Saint quavered in a weak cry of despair.
“Please put an end to this, Father…! Killing people…”
“This is for the Church to handle, milady Saint. Even though you are not yet confirmed, you are a saint—and so your body is not solely your property.”
“Know only this…milady Saint, if you do not understand. Before my duty to you as your guard, I am a man of the Church.”
Defeated by the priest’s clear manner of speech, the Saint became quiet, a pained expression on her face.
The thief glanced at their exchange with eyes of scorn, spat what blood remained in his mouth onto the ground, and on that note, became silent.
As the thieves had refused treatment, the Saint couldn’t treat them.
So, we took their weapons and bound them with cord, and decided to take them to the path. Their feet were injured, so if we had left them in the forest, they would have been food for the wild dogs. By taking them to the path, leaving some food and water for them, and tying them to trees, we could then alert some town’s soldiers, who would pass fair judgement on them.
Saint-napping, a crime of fearing not even God, had a chance to carry the death penalty, but at that point, it would be none of my business.
For now, I needed to figure out what to do about the sudden appearance of the subject of our investigation.
Either way, it seemed best to stick together until we got out of the forest and reached the path.
The priest seemed deeply reluctant, but seeing five injured thieves to the path was too much for a single priest to handle alone.
“One of our company’s waitin’ at the path. Sorry, but we’ll need ta head there.”
As I took the initiative in heading toward the road, the priest frowned unhappily. However, the Saint seemed purely delighted that her company had grown, and her face was bright despite having been assaulted by thieves earlier. It seemed that she had neither hate nor contempt for fallen beasts or the thieves that had attacked her.
As I thought, things are too flowery in her mind…
My gaze happened upon the side of the Saint’s face.
She was a beauty, as I had heard. She had a gentle disposition, and her figure had the voluptuous curves of a grown woman. That, along with her heavy-looking chest, was enough that calling her bewitching would be no overstatement. Her height, too, would put her among the taller women. —But unbefitting of her appearance was her aura, which was unbearably immature.
“We were on our way to help the son of the lord of Edeabelna. He had damaged his lungs.”
Speaking, the Saint’s expression became clouded.
Edeabelna was the prized port city of the Republic of Cleion, and we had entered the Republic with intent to gather information there.
Our continent was, essentially, shaped very roughly like a giant crescent moon. As a result, on either end and in the middle of the continent were large port cities. Edeabelna was the port in the middle, the capital of maritime trade, and thusly could also be called the capital of disease.
Unknown diseases would arrive on the boats. And as a result, the population of doctors grew in the Republic of Cleion.
Some years ago, the phrase “a doctor from Cleion” was synonymous with “a doctor of doctors”—but from what I had gleaned from the doctors at the inn and Theo’s stories, that population of doctors was decreasing.
“We meant to take safe roads, even if it meant taking detours, but…there was a collapsed child. And when we stopped the cart, we were attacked.”
What the hell was the priest doing then? I can’t believe they’re called the Church’s elite.
I looked toward the priest, but he wasn’t looking this way.
No—he wasn’t just not looking.
At some point, he had completely covered his eyes with a leather belt. What with the staff in his hand and now this, he looked like a veritable blind person. He wore silver rings on each of the five fingers of his right hand, probably to protect his dominant hand’s fingers.
But earlier, I could have sworn that the priest was glaring at me with his eyes…
“—What are you looking at? Unclean.”
“C-can you see?”
“Even if I cannot, I still know when someone is looking bluntly at me. —My eyes are very sensitive to light. They hurt under the light of the sun for instance, or that of an open flame. Thus, I usually protect my eyes with a blindfold that blocks it well.”
Ah. So that’s why he extinguished the fire before attacking the thieves earlier.
“Can’t ya just have the Saint fix ya up?”
“This is holy punishment given by the Goddess to my sinful self. This is neither injury nor sickness.”
When I heard the priest say it with such resoluteness and plainness, I wanted to vomit.
Is leaving a curable illness untreated showing the depth of your faith? I could not understand at all.
“Um…they’re incurable, his eyes. I tried, but…” The Saint interjected nervously.
“Incurable? Wha…there’re sicknesses even miracles can’t fix?”
“Y-yes. Sorry. Um, I don’t know why, but…”
“—Because it is neither an illness nor an injury.” At Zero’s plain words, both the Saint and the priest looked at Zero.
“You would not call being overly-strong a sickness, would you? The Father’s eyes are ‘overly-effective’. They take in even the slightest amount of light, so when close to a bright light, he is blinded instead. From what I have seen, the Father possesses better night vision than even Mercenary. Perhaps how the normal person sees the world at noonday is how the Father sees it at night.”
The forest on a moonless night—that darkness was frightening even to me, a fallen beast. I saw better in the darkness than the average human, but even then, I was nearly blind in that darkness compared to the light of noon.
“Father, were you born that way?”
“Then, even if you now had your eyes cured to be like those of a normal person, you would likely feel confused and impaired. Those eyes are not divine punishment, Father. In reality, you have a rare talent.”
“Be proud, not self-humbling,” Zero finished.