“Hey, open your eyes!” Erna yelled.
She remembered what Luzon had said about the poison from the demons and how one would lose consciousness from it because of the extreme pain it caused. But Luzon had also said that a person wouldn’t die if a demon bit them once or twice.
Looking at the number of scratches and bite marks on Kalion was concerning. His face contorted with pain despite him being unconscious, and as she watched helplessly, his body stiffened and then convulsed. Erna remembered what her maids had told her, over and over again, when she was a child, and she’d come to Hessenguard, “If you get poisoned, you will die agonizingly. You will lose your consciousness while you struggle, and your body will become stiff. Then soon after that, you will die.”
She’d known then that the words were said to scare her, but she could see now that they weren’t wrong in what they’d said. If a person lost consciousness and their body became stiff, breathing would become difficult, and they would die. And now, Kalion’s symptoms were just like that, and at this rate, he would die. This shocking realization made Erna feel paralyzed with fear which was something she’d never experienced before.
Although he was annoying, he was her so-called husband, yet he was a stranger to her. If they happened to run into each other, they’d look at one another and click their tongues. And when something needed discussing, Erna and Kalion would refer to each other as “pumpkin” and “earthworm” before they’d said ten sentences. However, they just disliked each other intensely, and she never wanted him to die.
Their relationship had always been a complicated one, and on some level, they secretly admired each other’s ability to survive and prosper. As Erna sat by Kalion, clueless about what to do next, she heard a voice calling them from the forest again.
“Miss Erna! Where are you now! Please answer me!” Orpé screeched.
Hearing her voice, Erna snapped out of her daze and shouted, “Here! I’m here! Come fast!”
Relieved to hear her voice, Orpé rushed to her, “Miss Erna!” Cedric was also with her, and the two of them stopped, startled by the sight of Kalion lying down and Erna holding his arm.
Erna said, without letting go of Kalion’s hand, “Save Kalion!” Because of the hectic situation, no one noticed that Erna had said his name for the first time.
Chapter 6. Break
The spell cast by Erna had wiped out all the demons in the Haldis area at the same time. When the people saw the dead demons floating on top of the lake and those at the bottom of the town’s waterways, they praised Erna’s name as they were reminded of the power of magic once more.
The knights, who usually would’ve complained that only magic was being praised, then agreed with the people and praised the Archduke’s magic ability and said they didn’t realize that the Archduke’s magic would be so grand. Even though it was not their strength that defeated the demons, their faces showed a sense of pride at the accomplishment.
When they were able to return to the isolated village, those who had been separated for a while embraced their families and shed tears of joy. The knights actively helped clean up the mess in the city, performing the tasks that required strength, and the wizards cast a purification spell all over the lake so that no more demon poison remained in it. But unlike everyone else who busy, Erna did nothing because she felt physically and emotionally drained.
“You must rest, too! You activated that huge spell by yourself, and your mana has completely run out!” Orpé said firmly.
“Orpé, do you need to shout that out like that? I have very little mana right now.” As Erna sighed, Orpé realized her mistake and kept quiet for a brief moment but soon nagged again, “Anyway, stay inside. Leave the aftermath to us, okay?” Orpé would only agree to stop nagging her if Erna promised to stay put.
Erna had no intention of leaving anyway as she needed to recover after using almost all of her mana, and if it weren’t for that, she would’ve gladly helped with the cleaning up of the city.
The task at hand was much bigger than they’d anticipated. Besides the cleaning up, the wizards and knights had to heal and calm the wounded, and they had to purify the traces of poison that the demons had left behind. They also had to make sure that no demons had survived, and then they had to fix things that had broken in the city during the raid.
Erna approached the window and looked at the city floating on the lake. Although she was far away, she could see that everyone was busy, and it wasn’t just the villagers who were moving about the city. Erna noticed that among them were a mixture of wizards using magic and knights using their strength to perform tasks.
“When did the wizards and knights become so close?” Erna wondered aloud. When they’d arrived here, the wizards and knights had summed each other up and had remained guarded. But now, their hands and feet met like those who had always worked together. “Do you become so close just because you fought together once?”
The fact that they were protecting each other in the forest, and dealing with demons together, seemed to instantly tear down the invisible wall they’d built between each other. It wasn’t a bad thing because Erna was sure that there would be a few more times when they would have to move together in the future, and it would be more helpful to carry out a mission if they’d built a certain level of friendship and trust.
Erna had told them to step back this time because she didn’t need them to fight in the battle. However, it was a claim she was able to make because they were dealing with demons. If they were facing people instead, then the strength of the knights would be a valuable skill. It’s best not to have war among them.
As she stared out the window, she wondered if it would be possible that the many years of war between neighboring countries could be over. Hessenguard had declared itself neutral and was able to avoid the fire of war. However, the neighboring countries would not stay back and overlook what was going on. Haband and Aether and Kalion and Erna’s countries were looking to start exploiting at any moment.
Erna got up from her seat and stretched. It wasn’t something to be solved so easily just because she kept worrying about it. If so, it would be better to put off worrying for a while and take a good rest to recover mana as soon as possible. The best way to recover mana was to sleep deeply for as long as possible. But she couldn’t at the moment.
Erna approached the bed with a bitter expression on her face, and a deep sigh escaped from her mouth as she looked on top of the bed that she was going to use for her rest. There was Kalion, lying as if he was dead. “How long is he going to sleep?” Erna slumped down on the single sofa that she’d pulled over to the bed and looked at him as he slept soundly.
After Kalion had collapsed, Orpé and Cedric, along with the wizards and the healers in the order, had luckily found them. The healers had pulled out the claws of the demons that stuck in Kalion’s arm, and then they’d sliced the wounds with a knife to drain the poison. After that, it had been the wizards’ turn.
When they’d used a healing spell to purify the poison of the demon, a magical light had enveloped Kalion, and his distorted face had softened. She was relieved to see that he was feeling less pain, but Kalion had continued to keep his eyes shut throughout the whole process.
Erna had become worried because most people would regain consciousness when healing magic was used on them and she soon became anxious because instead of regaining his consciousness, his eyes didn’t open.
The healer from the order had examined Kalion further and had said, “It seems that more poison has entered his body than I thought. In that case, even if you use a healing spell, the damage doesn’t go away all at once, so you often fall into a deep sleep to recover.”
Because of his height and size, the strongest knight in the order was summoned, and he carried Kalion back to the mansion. Then, they immediately moved him to this room, and three days had now passed. Healers came to examine him a few times, but there wasn’t anything they could do to help him.
“Is he okay?” Erna had asked them worriedly.
One of the healers had replied in a bright voice, as if trying to reassure her, “He’s Fine. His face is glowing, and his breathing and heartbeat are all normal. He’s just in a deep sleep, so when he thinks he’s recovered, he’ll wake up. There may be side effects, but for someone so healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Three days was a long time for someone to remain asleep, and Erna still felt anxious. She remembered the last moment when Kalion had fallen and how bravely he’d blocked her from the demons, using his body as a shield to protect her. Who does something so reckless to keep his words of protecting me? It wasn’t as if he didn’t know that there was terrible poison in the demons’ teeth and claws, yet he still chose to risk his life to block their attack on her. He honestly didn’t have to go that far to keep such a promise.
The people said that Erna’s spell had saved everyone, but Erna thought differently. If Kalion had not stopped the demons at that time, she wouldn’t have been able to complete the spell. So it was Kalion who’d saved everyone. Of course, there’s no way I’ll admit that! She knew that Kalion would tease her, saying that it was fortunate that she’d admitted it.
Erna turned her head to look at the basin and towels on the bedside table next to the bed. Kalion wasn’t the only one who was injured. Many knights and wizards plus a countless number of villagers from Haldis, and some men in the security forces were wounded too. As a result, the healers were very busy and didn’t have time to take care of Kalion, not that there was much more that they could do anyway.
In the end, caring for Kalion had become Erna’s job. The mansion’s servants had said that they would do it themselves. But Erna had insisted that she would care for him. They were busy taking care of everyone else, and she had nothing to do in particular because she had to take a break to recuperate. Besides, she was the only one staying in the same room as him.