A False Confession - Chapter 21
Every one of them fell to their knees at once, the sound of their armor hitting the ground echoed all around us. I’m so confused, huh?* I froze and uttered a stupid sound, but the Nickel Knights still couldn’t lower their guard, and they drew their swords.
[tl/n:* Literal word was 응, sounds like “eung.” Y’all are probably familiar with it from other novels/comics or dramas, but just in case, it can mean “yes” or be an expression of confusion. Or a stupid sound I guess, hah.]
But then, a white-bearded knight at the front of Vios’s kneeling soldiers rose from his position and approached us.
Noticing that something was off, Cabel took a step forward and watched him with a rigid expression.
The older knight presented a wooden tablet to Cabel in a very polite manner. Cabel looked at him for a moment, then reached out and took it from him without a word.
I poked my head out from behind him and peered over Cabel’s shoulder as he opened the tablet. Even in this tense situation, I couldn’t resist my arisen curiosity.
Tirack didn’t move, but he also couldn’t mask his eagerness, so I read aloud what was written…. and I had no choice but to make a stupid noise again. What? My question came out like a sigh and my confusion echoed through the space.
The elder knight then lowered himself to his knees.
“The brilliant light has moved us.”
…My divine power that had burst over the whole area. It had even touched the soldiers of Vios, who had hastily hid themselves in the grass around the camp.
They had all been healed, and witnessing those who had seemed to die, come back to life…… They were deeply moved by the nondiscriminatory devotion and light, and they began to repent.
So they decided to surrender. They will now dedicate their territory to Kzeschmir, and their only wish is to be accepted into the imperial nation…
“We sincerely and deeply implore you to enshroud us in that light.”
The surrender of Vios was truly an absurd and futile end. Total nonsense.
Their ambushes have left so many wounded, and even killed before, to the point that their sudden ceasefire and declaration of surrender rightfully brought anger.
Of course their reason is…… well, to my total embarrassment it’s because of the divine power that I’d exploded, but anyway, the surrender itself was too anticlimactic. I couldn’t believe it even after reading it myself, so I stayed silent. Only after seeing Elviniraz come forward and discuss matters with the commander-in-chief of Vios did it begin to feel real.
Everyone looked at each other with puzzled expressions, creating a somewhat chaotic atmosphere, but in the end everyone began to burst into cheers one by one. Some even embraced and shouted in joy.
Amid the cheers that colored the whole atmosphere, I also felt happy, but I was enveloped in a bittersweet feeling that I couldn’t hide from my face. Then, after finishing his conversation Vios’s commander, Elvin’s eyes fell on me. He smiled brightly.
* * * * * * *
It was a festive atmosphere. Once we had received not only the white flag from Vios’s army, but also the official declaration of surrender bearing the seal of their king, it was only then that reality really hit me and I was able to join in the celebration.
Everyone who’d participated in the expedition was saying that it felt like a dream, that everything had been one big, happy, continuous dream ever since the day of the miracle. Which naturally brought their attention back to me, and they’d run to express deep gratitude yet again. I’d try to hide behind Lily, but she’d thwart my plans and step aside while exclaiming, “It’s all thanks to you, Priestess!”
The soldiers around me became more and more animated until they were getting ready to pick me up into a celebratory lift. I refused with an awkward expression, surreptitiously grabbing onto the tree next me.
In fact, it’s clear they’re just taking any opportunity they can to celebrate, considering this is simply a surrender and not an actual conquest. But I could only grumble to myself in consternation as I was trapped in Lily’s embrace.
Now that we’ve won the war, it would be ideal to return to the Empire right away, but we still have at least one long mountain range that we have to pass through again. All of our hopes now rested upon teleport scrolls.
Originally, the plan had been to return to the Empire using them, but we were told that they were destroyed in the fires during the last raid.
Even though Elvin had been making the announcement directly in front of me, I was still unable to hide my obvious despair at the thought of hiking back to the Empire. He smiled quietly before adding that we have spares, and my expression lifted instantly.
However, he explained that the scrolls had been brought as back-ups for an emergency and were stored in the lord’s villa where we’d stayed before. So the plan was to travel back there, rest for a day, and then return to the Empire.
The soldiers cheered again. The villa’s basement is full of wine, so they were already planning the next party.
The lord’s villa was just half the distance we had walked so far. But that means we still have to walk that same difficult road for two weeks.
Although it will take less time since there is no need to be wary of raids and organize search parties…. Still, it’s such a pity that we’ve ended up having to hike again. Why do I feel sweat coming from my eyes?*
[tl/n:* I’m gonna go ahead and assume she means crying, but I feel like her eyes sweating from the hike wouldn’t be a stretch either.]
On the day of Vios’s surrender, we went down the mountain, that is, to Vios, and had a small celebration.
There was no need to be cautious since nobody lived in the area below the mountain. Some of the soldiers deliberately stomped on the ground, saying, “Did I suffer this much to get here?,” before bursting into laughter mixed with emptiness and joy.
So, starting the next day, the hike began again. Although we’ve now received a letter of surrender, there was no significant change to our assembly order. The Nickel Knights and the Templar Knights still marched either at the front or the back, and the priests still walked in the middle between them.
The priests had nothing to worry about now, so they climbed the mountain leisurely, as if it were merely a weekend hiking trip… Among them, I was the only one still struggling.
Why do I have to experience this state of breath-taking exhaustion until the very end? Hik, hik. People say that if you exercise, your body will feel refreshed and more energized, but I’m a person whose stamina only decreases after exercise, so I was very unhappy crawling my way back through the mountains again.
On the second day of the hike I was still struggling, so Lily tried to comfort me by saying that I would get used to it again in a few days.
But previously it took me about 3 weeks to get used to hiking. And now that I’ve had a period of rest, it was clearly useless. By the time I’d get used it again, we’d have arrived at the villa and gone back to the Empire already.
But today, the third day, the expression on Elvin’s face, who was now standing behind me, was quite strange. It’s been like that since the first moment he saw me this morning, and now he’s staring at me as I climb the mountain. His eyes are so intense that I can feel myself begin to sweat under their influence.
He didn’t speak to me even though it seemed like he had something to say, so I was left feeling puzzled. I tried asking him a few times, but he’d hesitantly refuse every time.
Not that I minded Elvin watching me at all, but when he looked at me so intensely, I began to wonder if I had done something wrong.
He refuses to say whatever’s on his mind, so naturally I can’t help obsessing over it a bit. But in the end I decided I was overthinking; it must be only a trivial matter to him if he won’t mention it.
I was then left trying to estimate how long that gaze will be following me, when I inconveniently started to become self-conscious of how I was walking. All of my nerves turned their attention towards my gait.
And the allocation of nerves towards anything other than the road was my mistake.
I sprained my ankle. No, to be honest, it’s entirely possible for me to sprain my ankle even by walking on the flat ground, but in the current situation, I’m certain that the cause this time was the preoccupation of my nerves.
I’d cried out in pain before I’d even fully realized I’d twisted my ankle a bit. I paused and stopped walking. Thinking that it might be okay, I tried walking again, but had to stop immediately, frowning at the stabbing pain.
“Are you in a lot of pain?”
Elvin asked me carefully. He was clearly startled, so I smiled awkwardly and responded that I was fine and would be able to walk if I rested for a moment, but Elvin shook his head resolutely.
“A sprained ankle doesn’t heal that easily. Especially now, it’s even more dangerous now that we have to go down the mountain.”
Lily, my savior, arrived just in time. I was at a total loss, unable to refute these words that are blocking all of my excuses. She looked over me anxiously before turning towards Elvin and asking politely.
“If it’s not too much, can I treat her? It will take some time, so we’d catch up with you all a little later.”
“Oh, no. During the war, you have to conserve your divine power as much as possible. Besides, it’s hardly even an injury… “
“Our war is over, Renée.”
Thanks to you. She didn’t say it out loud, but the thought shone clearly through Lily’s eyes.
Elvin was looking at Lily with a slightly bewildered expression for some reason, so without a willing affirmation from him, I quickly denied the need for treatment. It’s embarrassing to use divine power on such a trivial thing anyway.
……..Well, of course, that’s mostly the case because the commander-in-chief is witnessing everything right now, and I can’t ask for the use of divine power on something that’s not a real wound. Even if Elvin personally wouldn’t refute it, with his duties in mind first, he has to say no at least on the surface.
“It’s okay. It’s really okay. I’ll just walk carefully.”
I starting pushing Lily’s back and whispering, “It’s okay, let’s just go quickly,” so I didn’t feel Elvin approach my side until he suddenly held his arm out to me.
“I’ll help you. “
“Huh? Oh, no. It’s okay. You don’t have to do that…”
“I will order for the camp to be set up as close as possible, so you should be more careful until then. If your injury worsens, it will be even more difficult for you later.”
His words were so decisive and firm that I couldn’t bring myself to deny them. But in the end, if I’m unable to accept Lily’s divine power, it would be best to receive some outside support. After casting a long gaze, I gently placed my hand on Elvin’s arm.
In fact, I’ve recently found myself gushing to Lily about the transcendental effect that the paladin commander’s face has on me. I’ve shared my fan sentiment with her that I often feel better just by looking at him, and as a result, Lily seems to be treating him more comfortably.
Well, I can’t believe I’m filling my soul like this. Was spraining my ankle actually a blessing in disguise?
As I looked down at my ankle with a subtle happiness in my heart, Elvin moved slowly beside me. It seems like he’s being careful to avoid putting more strain on my ankle.
Elvin hadn’t issued a formal command to the paladins, but as before, they walked ahead of us first, so I suddenly found myself all the way at the back again.
I heard birds chirping. The wind was blowing, swaying the leaves and making them flutter around us. As they littered the ground, the sound of crunching leaves could be heard all around us.
It was a very peaceful atmosphere, making this meticulous walk feel even more unnecessary.… with these thoughts in mind, I turned to look at Elvin.
Elvin called me as soon as I’d lifted my head, immediately meeting my eyes. For some reason, I felt like I was caught while peeping, so I flinched as I said, “Yes?” After I answered, Elvin made a strange expression again, just like before.
“… Do you feel that you are different from before?”
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