[Is it done?]
“Yes. I’m sorry for taking a long time.”
[No, you did a good job, saint. It’s more than I expected.]
The poisoned lake had completely changed in a short time and has now become a mirror of the blue sky.
Senia, who stood by the lake with a relaxed face, slowly looked around before approaching the unicorn.
“Sir Carr is late, maybe I should go find him.”
[Why go out for a useless person? It’s a waste of time.]
“Carr is not useless. He’s an important person to me.”
Senia carefully untied the knot on the tree. However, Carr had tied it so tightly that Senia’s small hands were having difficulty to undo it.
“Um… What should I do…?”
[For your heart or body?]
Senia opened her eyes wide at the question while the unicorn just stared at her unwaveringly.
[Aren’t those the relationship that humans need, either heart or body? Which one that you have?]
“Oh, please watch for your words, it could be very misleading!”
Senia raised her voice defensively. It was because the unicorn was right asking her that question. The relationship between their body was what she had with Carr, but she also realized their relationship had grown beyond the physical aspect.
The unicorn tilted its head watching Senia whose face has grown red.
[I don’t know why you are very defensive about it.]
Senia, who tried to accuse the unicorn of being rude, stopped after realizing that the sacred beast before her was the same being that didn’t have any filter and questioned her about her virginity. It was no use to apply human’s common sense to such a being.
“I think it would be faster to untie the rope around the neck if Sir Carr did it, so let’s find him.”
Senia sighed, changing the topic.
[Hmm. It’s troublesome for me to move my legs just for a human man. If we wait, he’ll come back on his own, why are you looking for him? Do you trust him?]
“It’s a different matter of trust. Rather than just waiting, I’m happy if I can see him as soon as possible.”
[That’s called love.]
Senia tried to rebuke the unicorn’s words, however, she was more surprised with how her face heated up and heart pounding faster.
There were many types of love, compassion and friendship that were part of it. Furthermore, it surprised her that she, who lived as a saint and showed kindness to many people, tried to deny the words of love when she could have accepted it. After all, the love that the unicorn was talking about was probably closer to the general meaning of love.
[So, is that man the person who took your virginity? Or perhaps another man? Isn’t that usually how woman’s love work? It’s hard to find a pure person these days. It’s must have been the end of times that a saint is doing this too.]
The unicorn spoke to Senia who was still lamenting about her feelings.
“….I’ll… find Sir Carr and return here.”
[Huh? Wait, what about the rope? Hey! Saint Lady!]
Senia ignored the cries and turned away. She was upset with herself for not able to answer the unicorn’s question and decided to just follow the traces of Carr’s footprints into the forest. It was not difficult to follow it and the further she walked into the forest; the smaller the unicorn’s face was causing her to be surrounded by silence. However, that didn’t last long.
There was a sound of human conversation, which she didn’t expect to exist in the forest. One of the voices belonged to Carr, but she couldn’t guess the other speaker.
She approached the direction where they came from more carefully when she realized that the forest should have been void of any form of life. The idea that Carr might have caught something bad, made her heart thumped faster.
“Thank you, Lord Carr. I’ve relieved one of my regrets.”
It was like a small shock as Senia listened to the cold voice. No matter how much she thought about it, the dead man kept his manners as he talked to Carr. Senia tilted her head slightly only to find Carr facing a pile of moving armour. She decided not to reveal herself and watched the situation, after all, there must be a reason for Carr to talking with an undead without pulling out his sword.
“It is nothing. Thanks to you, I heard something interesting.”
The two continued to converse without noticing Senia who was hiding nearby. Carr threw the cigarette butt on the ground before he continues.
“I wanted to hear more if it’s possible, but I have to go back. I think I’ve been away for too long.”
“Oh, I see. I can’t feel the passage of time, so apologies for taking your time.”
“It’s okay. You said you wanted to be purified, didn’t you? Will you come to the lake with me?”
“I have another question if you don’t mind.”
“…What is it?”
“Does Lord Carr have any loyalty to the Sun’s saint?”
Senia wasn’t offended at the question that the armour asks but she witnesses the sudden change in Carr’s expression that is more like a look of embarrassment.
Carr answered, after thinking about the answer a long time, tilting his head slightly,
“….I don’t think so.”
“Well…. I don’t know. I don’t think I am someone that has a strong loyalty like you. I have a contract with her, and frankly, my life is the most important thing to me.”
Carr explained while an image of Senia flashed across his mind. Her bright smile, which he had seen several times, was growing within him. It wasn’t loyalty like the one that Ellard spoke of that made him heartbroken but every time he saw Senia cried for others, sacrificing herself for others, or the small happiness he felt when she showed kindness toward him who was a demon.
“So, you’re only protecting her because of your sense of duty.”
“No, that’s not true.”
Carr’s answer came out quick even before the question was finished.
“There’s no loyalty, but it’s not just my sense of duty. It’s my will to protect her now, and if possible…. I think I want to keep doing that as long as I am allowed. Even after the contract is over.”
“Is that so?”
Ellard responded with a gentle tone. It didn’t matter what the reason was. When it came to being a ‘guardian’, one’s will be the most important thing.
In the first place, saints were born with divinity stronger than ordinary humans, so they didn’t need physically strong paladins, but an ally who could they entrust their back to.
Ellard was anxious about the sun’s saint situation but after listening to Carr’s answer he realized that his worries were unfounded. At first glance, the man in front of him looked cold and unapproachable but unlike his appearance, he had tenderness and honesty in his heart.
“Is there another question you want to ask me?”
“No, that’s enough.”
“Right. Oh, anyway, I can’t talk to her, so you’ll have to explain your situation to her.”
“Oh? Is it some kind of self-discipline?”
Carr got up from the ground, feeling the stiffness in his legs even though he just sat for a short while. He glanced at the armour and envied Ellard slightly, knowing that it wouldn’t have any side effect from the poison or from sitting down.
However, just as Ellard about to get up his armour fell forward to the ground with a loud rattle.
Ellard laughed, embarrassed at the unexpected situation,
“Hahahaha. I haven’t moved for hundreds of years, so it’s awkward to even walk.”
The new voice caused both men to turn toward the source of sound that had interrupted them. Between the trees behind Carr, a lady, who ran out reflexively after seeing the fallen armour, was radiating like the sun had lit on her which didn’t suit the dark forest. For a moment, Ellard was speechless before he moved carefully on his knees.
“As a sinner, I am ashamed of myself to have greeted you like this, saint.”
“Pardon? Oh, right…. I am Senia, a saint who was blessed by the sun god, Acronix. It’s okay, please raise your head.”
Senia approached the two men and reached out toward Ellard. Her close presence alone slowly purified the poison in Ellard’s armour, just like the sun driving away from the darkness.
After waiting for 300 years for his salvation, Ellard didn’t dare to hold the dainty hand that was offered toward him but bowed even deeper than before.
“I am Ellard, a paladin that once belonged to the Sun’s church. I have been excommunicated and cursed for my sins, but I would like the saint for her mercy and end this life of immortality.”
“Ellard…?” Senia’s opened her eyes wise, recognizing the name.
There were not many records, but she recognized the name from the old books of the church. Ellard was one of the paladins who served the Holy Lady but joined hands with the demons and lost his faith and rebelled against the saint.
He was a symbol of dishonour and betrayal. The man that stained the church of the sun in history. Arte always said his name with so much distaste.
“If you are the person that served the Holy Lady in the past, is it true that you joined hand with a demon and turned your back on the church?”
“…Yes. I indeed joined hands with the demon. However, I swear upon the god that I served that I have never lost my faith or devotion to the church or planned to rebel. I joined hand with the demon who was dear to me.”
Senia didn’t change the soft smile even after listening to the undead talking. Ellard’s tone was desperate and filled with so much conviction that it was different from the one he used when he was talking with Carr earlier.
“You’ve worked so hard for a long time. If you want to rest, I’ll be happy to help you.”
Senia bent slightly and petted the armour’s shoulder.
“….Senia, will you not ask me about my sin for befriending a demon?”
“I’m sure the other priests will yell if they hear about your situation…. If it was a sin, but I could say you are innocent. It is absurd to say that cherishing others considered to be a sin, and to me, the demon is a special being.”
Senia smiled sadly, moving a strain of her hair behind her ear. There was no lie in her smile or eyes. Ellard, who didn’t expect his heart to be recognized by a saint, kept his mouth shut and mulled over the kind words again and again. Even in his spiritual state, his empty eyes seemed to be overflowing with hot tears.
What if the Holy Lady had the same view as Senia? Or what if he was born in this era and served Senia as his master? Ellard knew that those were only vain imaginations and that thinking things would not have changed and was only going to disappoint him.
However, who knows that at the end of his life, he would finally be accepted for the feelings he had for the woman he loved, it made the regrets that were clinging to him disappeared just like the snow melting under the warm sun.
“I thank God that the last people I met were Lord Carr and Saint Senia.”
At the solemn words from the paladin, Senia wrapped her hands around her locket and smile fondly at Ellard.
“Thank you for your dedication to humanity for 300 years ago. I pray for you to rest peacefully.”
Senia closed her eyes and started her prayer. Carr was leaning against a tree, watching as Ellard finally found his peaceful rest. He watched as a hole opened in the dark sky and a ray of sunlight fell through the armour, illuminating Ellard.
It was different from the ‘Moonlight Judgement’ that Lu had called during the fight in the village. The current pillar of light was filled with heat that was warmer and kinder than Lu’s. The light purged the curse and poison on Ellard and pulled his soul to heaven.
Carr blinked when he noticed that the front of the helmet was facing him at one point, almost as if Ellard’s greeting him one last time. However, soon the rays of light disappeared and what was left of the armour was just a plain old scrap of metals.
The cursed soul, who had no rest for hundreds of years, finally able to heal without leaving any regrets behind.