“That’s quite a state you are in. Um… Should I say you are lucky that you are still not dead yet? Ah! That’s not it… Riley, that rascal, probably did something, so it isn’t just luck.”
The red haired man with glasses didn’t look like a servant at all. Ryan and Lloyd, both with confused look, stared at the man.
‘Who is this?’
Other than the three members of the Lightning Boulder mercenary group, they were not aware of any other guests at the mansion. It was only natural that they had confused looks on their faces.
The red haired man walked over to Nainiae in a leisurely pace. He came right behind Nainiae, who was coughing, and started to examine her condition here and there.
“Wow, it’s super convoluted and tangled up. It doesn’t look like hammering in mana is going to make it better…”
Nainiae was not in good condition. The red haired man felt like he knew why a ‘certain monster’ that he knew was not able to make Nainiae better. The red haired man nodded repeatedly.
There was black blood on the floor that Nainiae coughed out. The man touched it with the tip of his finger to check its color and characteristics and slowly narrowed his eyes.
“I think I’ll have to examine this in detail.”
The red haired man got on his knees to sit next to Nainiae and mumbled. At that moment, Ryan took a step forward and said,
“Who are you?”
Like how a human being wouldn’t care about what insects are up to, the red haired man casually ignored Ryan’s words in the same manner and mumbled,
“Um. As I thought, this is quite something… Although that kind of magic was not fiddled with, the color was changed like that.”
Ignored, Ryan was not able to stand it. Ryan’s hand was moving toward the sword’s handle on his waist.
“I asked who you are.”
Ryan was holding the handle of the sword. However, the red haired man wasn’t even glancing at Ryan.
“There is no innate type or opposing type at all. This is impossible even for us… With this, not just magic, but summon spirits could be utilized skillfully. Interesting. It’s very interesting.”
Toward Ryan, the response from the red haired man was smaller than that of an ant passing by. Not able to stand the insult, Ryan took out the sword.
“I asked who you are!”
The sharp sound from the unsheathing of the sword filled the corridor.
The red haired man finally responded. Just like a certain young master in the mansion, with an annoyed look on his face, the man looked at Ryan.
“Are you deaf? I said it’s Andal.”
Nainaie, who was still coughing blood, heard the name, Andal, among the voices that sounded very distant to her. The name made her shoulders flinch.
‘Andal? Mr. Andal? Why is he here?’
Was it because he did something? Nainiae’s inside felt significantly better than before. Her blurred white vision was gradually returning, and her coughing was slowly subsiding
In light of the red haired man’s response, Ryan furrowed his brows big time. With the sword still aimed at Andal, Ryan asked again.
“You runt. Is that your name?”
With his sword to the front, Ryan had a deadly look on his face. Watching this, Andal snorted, thinking how childish it looked. Andal said,
“That’s right. That’s my name.”
“In that case, what are you?”
“What am I?”
Andal tilted his head side to side and mumbled. Ryan ground his teeth hard and poured mana into his sword.
“If you ask back again instead of answering, you better be prepared to be off with your head.”
Watching the sword exuding steady light, Andal had the tip of his lips tilted up, finding it fun to watch. Andal straightened the leg he had bent from kneeling. Andal got up and said,
“I’m a Doctor. Why?”
Instead of choking in fear, the man was still smiling. With the man claiming to be a doctor, now Ryan tilted his head side to side.
Andal was full of confidence. He even had an air of, ‘what’s your problem?’, as he crossed his arms. Watching this, Ryan’s face turned violent again.
“Are you messing with me…”
“… Ah, Doctor. There you were!”
There was another voice from far away in the corridor. Everyone other than Nainiae turned their gazes toward the direction.
“I’m sorry, Big Brothers.”
The person that just spoke walked past the corner of the corridor toward them. He lowered his head in front of Ryan and Lloyd.
“This is a famous Doctor from Rainfield that I went to vacation on. I asked him to come with us.”
Along with Ian, Riley made an appearance in the corridor. He introduced Andal to Ryan, who was aiming a sword.
“… A Doctor?”
“… A Doctor?”
Finding it to be suspicious, Ryan and Lloyd mumbled with strange looks on their faces.
Andal also vacantly looked back at Riley. He had a ‘what the hell are you barking about?’ look on his face as well.
“The thing is… I brought him here because I was worried about my mother’s illness. It seems Ian forgot to tell you about him.”
Riley slowly moved his elbow to bump Ian’s arm. Ian, who was nervous for some reason, flinched and responded right away.
“Ah, yes! I’m sorry. I was supposed to report to you about the guests. After telling you about Nara and his group, I forgot to tell you about the Doctor. Please forgive me.”
Ian lowered his head big time.
“You are saying you are a Doctor?”
People who didn’t know Ian would have thought that what he just said sounded like he was just acting. However, given the situation, the nervous look on Ian’s face was that of someone who made a grave mistake. That’s what Ryan thought.
“Rainfield doesn’t have a holy temple. It’s a city with advanced medical science, so I asked around to see if there was anyone who is an expert at the particular illness that my mother has, and this is the Doctor who is fairly well known in Rainfield.”
Riley slowly tilted his head and looked at Andal.
“Isn’t that right? Doctor?”
This was different from what they talked about in the pub. With a confused look on his face, Andal was going to furrow his brows, but soon, as if he realized something, he straightened his brows.
A dragon was a supreme being, yet Riley had no problem pouring out insults and crass language at Andal. However, now, all of sudden, Riley was treating Andal with the uttermost respect.
‘Why? I think I get it now.’
Having realized Riley was just acting and this was his scheme, Andal tilted the tip of his lips as if he understood.
‘Moreover, it took a lot of effort to build what I have around me… It would be a waste to fold my amusement life here because of this.’
To Andal, it most certainly was going to be a waste.
‘… How? Did you watch some stage acting?’
Riley smiled as he asked that with his gaze. Andal responded with his gaze.
‘Of course I have.’
‘So you know what acting is, right? I’m counting on you to put up a good act on your own.’
‘Hup. Who do you think I am?’
After exchanging looks with Riley, Andal, with a confident look on his face, turned his head toward Ryan and Lloyd.
Andal pointed at Lloyd, and he tilted his head side to side, wondering why he was pointed at.
“How many times do you do it per day?”
“… What are you talking about?”
“By yourself, twice… or three times?”
Having realized what Andal was talking about, Lloyd’s face turned red.
“Tsk. Take it easy. It will make your bones brittle.”
Andal turned his gaze away, uninterested. This time, he looked at Ryan and said,
“You, do you have sleep deprivation lately?”
“You should reduce training at night. Like this third Young Master here, it would be good for you to get some sleep. Otherwise, it will shorten your lifespan.”
Andal said as he narrowed his eyes. As if he was exactly right, the tip of Ryan’s sword flinched slightly.
Actually, everything Andal just said were accurate.
‘Is he really a doctor?’
Ryan was not sure what he was talking about with Lloyd. However… in fact, Ryan was not getting good sleep at night, and he closed his eyes only after exhausting his body from training.
‘No. Even if… even if this runt is a Doctor…’
The look on Ryan’s face became sharp again.
Even though this Doctor came from Rainfield which didn’t have any nobilities, the man was definitely being rude to Ryan. This was the reason.
“What are you glaring at? Is there something you don’t like?”
The man was talking so carelessly toward a Young Master in a Count’s family. There was a need for Ryan to teach him a lesson.
“You are a funny runt. Just be grateful that I won’t charge you.”
However, Ryan couldn’t talk back.
It was because, when Ryan looked at Andal’s eyes, it gave him the creeps.
There was a sense of existence that could not be explained in words. There was an aura.
Overwhelmed by Andal’s red eyes, Ryan could not dare to speak.
As a human, as a living organism, his instinct was… yelling at him to say he shouldn’t dare to challenge a predator above his level.
It was obvious.
Although Andal had the form of a human being, inside that shell, there was an incredibly fearsome being.
Ignoring Ryan and Lloyd, who were not able to say anything back at Andal, his gaze now turned to Riley.
“Our third Young Master should cut down on the sleep a little?”
“Pardon? What are you talking about?”
Riley smiled and looked at Andal, and Andal also smiled and said,
“I think it would be good for you to move your body.”
A blood vein was popping out of Riley’s forehead.
Maybe he knew, or maybe he didn’t, but Ian, who was standing next to Riley, was beating the drum along with what Andal said. Ian said as he splashed spit from his mouth.
“Yes! That’s right! As expected of a Doctor from Rainfield! With just one look, you picked out the thing that our Young Master should improve on!”
With Ian’s support fire, Andal tilted up and wiggled the tip of his lips. He looked as refreshed as if he just chugged on a full glass of brown sugar beer. Andal advised,
“From now on, I think it would be best if you went easy on taking advantage of a certain friend of yours. You should move on your own, on your own.”
Having heard this, Ian mumbled ‘I agree. You are totally right.’ Riley’s forehead now had a few additional veins popping out.
“Young Master, did you get what I just said?”
Andal asked as he twisted the tip of his lips. With all of his strength, Riley curled the toes that were hidden inside his shoes. With his facial muscles twitching, Riley responded,
“… Yes. I look forward to having you here.”
… as he said to himself that he will definitely make Andal pay for making fun of him today.
Meanwhile, with a vacant look on her face, Nainiae was looking up at Riley while still in kneeling position. Unable to fight the eyes that were slowly closing on their own, Nainiae lost consciousness.
* * *
‘Nainiae, your mother is sorry. You must want to… live like other kids your age too.’
‘No mother. It’s all right.’
‘Sorry… I’m sorry.’
‘Please don’t say that. I won’t want it. I won’t ask for anything more. So, just like this… just hold my hand. That’s my only wish.’
‘Just… count on me.’
The things she could see in front of her were very vivid.
‘Please… please no more!!’
‘Now, you need to work hard for your mother’s sake, isn’t that right?’
‘For my mother…?’
‘We only emptied just one bottle. You need to keep up the good work. Today, we are going to empty seven bottles, so we need to hurry. Now, try drinking it.’
‘That’s good. Good. You are drinking it so well.’
‘… Hu… Kuk. Ugh. Ugh.’
‘As a reward, I’ll give you a new medicine. Drink this and it will make you a little better.’
‘It hurts… Hurry. Hurry.’
‘Oh? My hand slipped…’
‘Ku, Ugh… Uuuuuaaauuuu…’
‘I’m sorry, sorry. Well, it won’t kill you, not immediately.’
‘Kill… Kill me…’
‘Hm, it got on the eye. It cannot be helped.’
‘No, you can’t die yet.’
Her short life, things she experienced, were flashing past her.
It was horrible.
‘… Mom. I’m back.’
‘Who… are you?’
‘I don’t know who you are, but…’
‘It’s me. It’s Nainiae.’
‘Don’t lie… to me.’
‘My daughter… doesn’t look like that.’
‘Mom? Mom? Wait, please wait! Please open the door! Mom! Mom! I won’t expect much! I… I won’t even ask you to hold my hand, so… My hand…? Why is my hand like this? It’s missing fingers… No, this can’t be, no!!’
From the moment she had to drink the chemicals at the Magic Tower, ever since then, just like how she screamed and pleaded back then, she might have been thinking that way all along.
She want to die.
Just let me die.
‘It’s all right, Beta, even if I died here…’
‘No, you useless bitch!’
No! You still have work to do! You can’t die yet! You can’t die before finishing it all. If you died already… then you will be just a garbage that could not return my good will of having high expectations for you! Do you understand?’
‘B… but, because you said you believe in me… that’s why…’
‘If I saved you, if I rescued you… if I fed you and gave you place to sleep! You need to at least do your part, don’t you think? Why do you think we picked you up? You make us puke just from looking at you! Why do you think we used all of our savings to buy you?! This! Useless runt!’
‘No, no… I’m…’
‘Ugh, ugh, you disgusting bitch… that’s why you were thrown out from the Magic Tower.’
If this was a nightmare, it would have been nice if Nainiae could wake up from it quickly.
However, it was not a nightmare.
She felt like she knew what these views were.
‘How long will I be able to live?’
‘That is… I can’t completely cure your illness. So… About that… I can extend your lifespan, but… I’m sorry.’
‘It’s all right. I had my mind prepared for this.’
That’s right. She was prepared for this.
From the moment she was suffering at the Magic Tower…
On the day she was abandoned by his mother…
On the day she heard all those harsh words from Beta…
Nainiae was prepared for it.
‘If it is short, it will last until the summer. If it is very long, it will last until the winter. However… I think it will be until the fall.’
What she was seeing right now was not nightmare.
It was the light at the end of the tunnel.
Nainiae was certain that this was what people saw before they died.
“Will I be able to die now?”
Looking at the things quickly flashing before her eyes, Nainiae mumbled quietly.
“Finally… I can die.”
It was the wish that she had for a long time. Her wish was finally coming true.
Finally, she was going to be comfortable.
As if they were broken, there were tears pouring out from her eyes.
It was not certain if they were out of joy or sadness.
Her ambiguous tears were flowing endlessly.
* * *
Nainiae opened her eyes.
She could see the ceiling that was familiar to her.
‘This place is?’
“Nainiae… Are you all right?”
The area near her eyes were wet.
Realizing that she was crying, Nainiae barely managed to turn her head to look toward the direction where warmth could be felt.
“… Lady Iris?”
“It looks like you had a nightmare.”
Her hand, which looked horrible because it was missing some of the fingers, was tightly held by Iris. Iris had a relieved look on her face.