Kurdak the Terribly Injured
By the time Vera found Leguna, he was already out cold. After finishing off five orcs, he had squeezed himself dry of energy and will. Vera found him in a seemingly lifeless and unmoving state.
When she saw him in this state, she was horribly shocked. She went over as quickly as she could to check on him. Relief washed over her when she saw he hadn't suffered any injuries. She remembered how he prepared the awakening ointment and started making some, replicating his actions as closely as she could. Even though she wasn't sure of the exact steps, she applied it to him anyway since it wouldn't harm him even if she got something wrong.
The first thing Leguna saw as he opened his eyes was Vera's anxious and concerned expression.
He rubbed his temple a couple of times. The ointment she had prepared was a little short of stimulant, so he woke up with a slight headache.
"Are you alright?"
Though Vera had given him a thorough check, she still wanted to hear confirmation from the person himself.
"... I'm fine."
Everything felt fine, save a slight headache.
"Did you... kill the orcs?"
She had already scoured the surroundings. She had found, to her utter shock, three lifeless orc corpses.
"I guess you can say that. I don't really know how, but I managed to kill them," answered Leguna hesitantly.
He still couldn't be sure whether he was the one who had killed them. Even though his memories were clear, it all felt too weird. He didn't think he could ever do something like that.
"It's fine. You seemed quite different back then."
Vera looked into his eyes and realized from his gaze that the youth she knew had returned.
Leguna's current gaze, though slightly dazed, had that slight tinge of slyness it usually had, unlike it had back then. The youth that saved her had chilling eyes and an absolute calm. It felt completely different.
"I don't know what happened either," Leguna said, scratching his head, before he started with surprise.
"Where's Boss?! Is he alright?!"
"Kurdak's injuries look pretty serious, but he had me come to help you out before he fainted. Don't worry, the orcs over there have already been dealt with," Vera said, before she looked at the remaining half bottle of potion in her bag and continued, "Since you're alright, I'll leave the rest of the potion for Kurdak."
"Definitely. Let's go back there quick," said Leguna without bothering with his headache.
If he had come along with Kurdak, even the slightest bit sooner, perhaps that man wouldn't have gotten so heavily injured.
As a result, Leguna was really apologetic towards the man to the point that he wasn't able to look Vera properly in the eyes. After all, he had once chosen to forsake her life for his own.
When the two returned, they found that Kurdak's wounds were worse than they imagined.
As Vera had only briefly fed Kurdak a bottle of potion before hurrying to find Leguna, she only just realized the number of punctures his body suffered. 'Bruised and battered' didn't even begin to describe how serious it was.
As most of the orcs used blunt weapons, apart from the holes caused by strikes from the spiked clubs, about two-tenths of Kurdak's body was badly bruised.
After Vera gave him a more detailed check, she found that a good number of his bones were fragmented from the strikes of the blunt weapons. It was already nothing short of a miracle that Kurdak was able to survive so many strikes by the powerful orcs.
"What do we do?! He's not going to make it!" Vera said with reddened eyes after conducting her check. She paced about nervously without being able to come up with a reasonable solution. Kurdak's state could only be remedied by a high-order priest. Would he end up sharing Cyranos's fate?
"How can this be?" Even after Leguna applied some awakening ointment to Kurdak's temples, there was no response from Kurdak at all.
Had it not been for the slight pulsation caused by Kurdak's beating heart, they would've thought that he was dead.
It was then when Leguna began to panic. Looking at the loud and energetic man that he was closest with among the rest in the party just lying about soundlessly, he couldn't help but worry. The terror he felt following Cyranos's death flooded his mind once more. Having just lost a comrade not long ago, would he have to suffer the loss of Kurdak too?
"No, this won't happen!" Leguna cried like a madman, "Big Sis Vera, let's bring him to a doctor at York. If that doesn't work, we'll bring him to Starfall! There must be someone that can save him!"
"It's impossible. It'll take us two days to get to York from here and he definitely won't survive that long," said Vera with what remained of her rationally.
"Darn it, darn it, darn it, darn it, darn it!" Leguna thumped with all his might onto the ground and didn't stop even though his hands started to bruise and bleed.
"Since that's the case, let's end his misery," said Vera as she took out her dagger with teary eyes. She thought that since Kurdak was suffering from his wounds, it would be better to give him a swift death instead.
"Wait, wait! Sis, there must be a way!" cried Leguna as he leaped and hugged Vera to stop her.
"Ley, let me go. He's already a goner," said Vera with visible effort to suppress her grief when she saw the wound-covered Kurdak. Despite that, she found that she couldn't move her hands in the slightest. Would she actually be able to end that man's life?
"No, he's not dead. Boss won't die yet. You can't do this!" Leguna still retained his hold on Vera.
"Let me go! Are you saying you'd rather see him suffer for no reason? Unless we can get to a city right now to find a priest, Kurdak will no doubt die. He told me before that if he's injured beyond rescue and suffering badly, he'd rather I end his pain!" cried Vera as she pushed Leguna away.
When Leguna landed on the ground, he closed his eyes in despair.
Vera took a deep breath and raised the dagger in her hands. "Ahhhhh!" she cried as she thrust the dagger towards the man's throat.
At the last moment, Vera looked at Kurdak's not-so-handsome face and was reminded of the late Cyranos. A sudden surge of memories filled her mind that instant.
Back then, Vera had just lost all her family and arrived at Starfall an empty husk of her former self. She happened upon a realization when she saw the droves of people coming and going.
I survived? But what about the others? My parents? My brothers? What about those at the town? They're all dead... Everyone I know has died... Can I still be considered living? Or am I naught but an abandoned husk?
Limping about like a zombie, she failed to notice a bumbling carriage coming her way at high speed. In it rode the son of Starfall's governor, Bjord, who was known for his arrogance.
Everyone else on the streets evaded the carriage and gave it hateful glares, but Vera was still caught up in her recollections of the traumatic events that she just experienced and was ignorant of the fact that she would be run over.
While Bjord soon realized the girl who ignored his fervent warnings, it was already too late for him to turn away. All he could do was grit his teeth and brace for the collision.
Well, it's not like she's the girl of a rich household anyway, given how she's dressed. I'd just have to pay her family off with a few gold coins, that's all. I can't startle my horse or hurt myself by doing an emergency turn.
When Vera finally realized the danger she was in at the last moment, she found herself a little numbed from all the grief she experienced. While she did try to move her feet, they didn't abide by her will.
I guess this it's not too bad, since I'll get to see them again, thought Vera as she closed her eyes.
But at that moment, a pair of huge, powerful hands pulled her to the side of the street. Seeing that nobody got injured, Bjord didn't stop and only shouted a few curses before disappearing into the distance.
It was only after seeing the dust beaten up by the hooves of the horse did Vera realize how bloody and messy it would've been if she had been trampled just like that. Shuddering with fear, she turned to her back and saw an imposing man of huge build.
"Little beauty, you better be more careful next time," said Kurdak, who was drooling after seeing Vera whose puberty had just started.
"Thank you, Mister." She didn't notice the weird look on Kurdak's face and only expressed her gratitude. However, she used the wrong form of address after seeing Kurdak's rough looks.
"Umm, I'm only 17 this year," said Kurdak while stroking his bearded face in a troubled manner.
"But you look 47," said another cold voice. Even though Cyranos had been standing by Kurdak's side the whole time, his cool personality and slighter frame in relation to Kurdak's made him hard to notice.
Before Vera met Kurdak and Cyranos, the two had already gotten acquainted with one another. As for how long they've known each other for, even though Vera tried asking about it, they only smiled without giving her an answer.
After everything she'd suffered, Vera was extremely depressed and even tried on multiple occasions to take her own life. Had it not been for Cyranos's attentiveness and Kurdak's optimism, she might've offed herself long ago.
Vera didn't doubt for even a moment that she wouldn't have survived the cruel world up till now had it not been for the two men. They wrapped around her like her own wings, protecting her from every bit of harm. Thanks to their care for her, she gradually regained her old personality, becoming far more joyful and once again gaining hope for her future.
But with Cyranos now dead, what would happen to Kurdak? Would she have to lose him too? Vera couldn't imagine how she could survive at Starfall with only Leguna and began to fear for the days ahead.
In the instant those memories flashed past her mind, the bright moonlight glinted off the dagger she held in her hands as they brought the blade downwards.
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