Even after Ellard’s soul was departed, Senia continued to pray for a long time. A silent prayer for the deceased – not just to conjure a miracle. There was more expression on her beautiful face that Carr couldn’t decipher, so he stayed still in place.
“I was surprised to know that he was Brother Ellard.”
Senia turned around toward Carr once she was done with her prayer, a bright smile pasted on her face,
“I didn’t think that we’d meet at a place like this. Sir Carr must have a long conversation with him…. unfortunately, I can’t hear the story from you.”
A small nod was all Ellard’s answer. It was indeed a pity that he couldn’t tell Senia about Ellard’s real story.
“Shall we go back now? The lake is already purified earlier.”
Carr walked to Senia’s side, following her back to the lake. He glanced up at the sky watching as the black clouds slowly disappearing just as the source of the poison was no longer in the forest. Coincidentally, the first stream of gold light fell right on the crumbling old armour.
He turned to Senia, recalling the last conversation he had. Her silvery hair, her light step, and the soft expression on her face. Senia, who felt the gaze, looked at him in surprise and moved a strand of hair behind her ear shyly. Her flushed cheeks have always been lovely to Carr.
His desire to embrace her tiny waist, to pull her closer, and kiss the soft red cheeks were growing and Carr knew if he said those out loud, he would become the enemy of the state. He looked at her blue eyes for a moment before he turned his gaze and lead her back.
[Oh, you are back?]
In front of the lake, the unicorn was still waiting patiently despite the uncomfortable feeling of the rope around its neck. Senia who saw the uneasiness quickly approached the unicorn with an awkward smile on her face.
[Apologies will do just fine. It’s worth the experience of being treated like a wild animal once in a while.]
“I don’t mean to upset a sacred being.”
[Huh. Just because we are different than human beings, we are not that much different from each other. I noticed that the cause of the poison has disappeared.]
The unicorn raised its head and looked up at the sky.
For the first time after a hundred years, the sun was shining on the forest in its hometown that it wasn’t able to make any comment about it.
“Now, you need to give us the purified water.”
Carr patted its neck, breaking the sombre moment.
[Don’t you know how to read the atmosphere?]
“I don’t think you should say that.”
The unicorn huffed before bowed his head, stamping its legs to gesture Senia to come closer toward it. Senia looked at it suspiciously but slowly approached and reached out her hands.
The horn of the unicorn glowed softly with its base turning gold before it spread until the tip. As its glowed gold, a drop of water like a morning dew dripped out and Senia quickly accepted it. The gold dew was as beautiful and hard as a jewel. And as soon as the unicorn’s horn had glowed, it turned back to its original ivory colour.
[That’s the purified water you wanted. It will melt the moment it touches the water, so be careful when handling it.]
“Oh, thank you very much!”
Senia pulled out the small glass bottle that she had received from the traveller and put the purified water in it. She had thought that the purified water from the sacred beast was in liquid form, she was wrong. There were still many things that surprised her in this world that made her heart pump faster.
She couldn’t hide her excitement as she turned to Carr, showing the purified water to him. Carr smiled slightly and started to release the rope around the unicorn’s neck just like he promised.
[Ah, finally – free at last. If I tied a maiden’s legs up around my neck, I guess it’s not a bad feeling.]
“You should keep your mouth shut if you don’t want to be kicked by a maiden”
Senia burst out laughing, covering her mouth as she tried to stop herself. The unicorn just huffed before it moved toward the clear lake, appreciating it one more time.
[You have achieved what you want. You don’t need me to see you off, do you? If you go through the portal again, you’ll be back to where you were before.]
Rather than being upset and dismissed the two away, the unicorn wanting to enjoy the purified water after hundreds of years unable to do it.
Senia cleared her throat, gave a friendly smile at the unicorn.
“Then good-bye. Thank you for your help and it was nice meeting you.”
[Although you are not a maiden, I enjoyed meeting you. Next time, once you have dropped him off, come back here alone, Saint. I will welcome you.]
[Oh, you – young man, did the cause of the poison leave any message?]
“…Did you know about that?”
[I know about this lake and forest very well. It is my territory after all. I simply couldn’t get close to the source of the poison because I have no divinity to protect me. I thought that the saint… well you, who is protected by the saint, will be able to withstand it.]
“….If you had known the cause earlier, we could have cleaned up the lake if you asked for help.”
[If I do that, then it’s not a deal. After all, it’s worth more than just one purified water. But now that you have removed the cause, there is no problem.]
The unicorn puffed up its chest, proud of its decision. The argument did make sense and Carr acknowledged it, but Senia let out a sigh noticing that the unicorn was a cunning being.
“That man wanted to apologize to you.”
Carr addressed, not wanting to paint a bad picture of Ellard who had to withstand its longing for a hundred years to achieve peace,
“he said he was sorry that he unintentionally tainted your forest.”
The unicorn was a sacred being who rarely involved itself in human affairs, but at least now it knew that Ellard was a great man. For the unicorn, hearing the apology was more than enough – although, it didn’t know the details of the stories.
[Then, I will say my goodbye too. Thank you.]
The unicorn spoked nicely bowed at them giving off a mysterious atmosphere after Senia gave one last blessing – a grace of heaven to the purified forest.
The moment they returned; the young man that was waiting for them quickly rushed over at them. He was worried about the safety of the two but Senia easily explained that they just simply did what the unicorn asked of them. Nothing dangerous.
Before the young man could ask anything, Senia changed the subject and showed the purified water in the glass much to the shock of the young man.
The three made their way back out to the road, another half an hour journey, and was quickly welcomed with full celebration. All of them did not doubt that Senia would retrieve the purified water for them but they still couldn’t help rejoicing over it.
Senia handed the glass bottle back once everyone calmed down. The middle-aged man, who was the representative of the group, received the bottle and thanked them many times over as he bowed toward the two. He even offered all the money they had left for Senia, except for the travel expenses that they needed, but Senia refused.
“I should not accept this much money during travelling but if you don’t mind, if you see someone less fortunate or pass the temple of the sun god, please donate it.”
“Ah! Of course! I will do that in return for the priest’s grace that has been given upon me! You are very kind….!”
“It was very rude of us not asking both of your names earlier because we were in a hurry to deliver this to our master, but could you tell us your name?”
“Ah, yes. My name is Senia.”
It was a very familiar name that caused the group to turned speechless.
“…I-If you’re a Senia…” one of them asked back in trembling voice, “…and you serve the sun god, is that mean you are….”
“The sun’s saint?”
“Oh my god! How dare me to touch the saint! Please forgive me!”
“No, it’s okay. I don’t mind lending some help.”
Senia smiled, trying to appease the panicking people. Some of them were kneeling asking for forgiveness for they had asked a saint to do a favour for them – stealing her precious time, and others were excited to finally meet a saint. The disarray only lasted quite a while.
Carr noticed the awkward smile on Senia’s face and realized if she were alone, she would have wait calmly for the turmoil to calm down before she left.
“As I said before. We are in a hurry to arrive somewhere, so I think it’s time for us to continue our journey.”
Carr spoke up.
“Yes. Yes. We will never forget this kindness.”
The middle-aged man tried to calm everyone at Carr’s words. In the end, everyone thanked and bowed at Senia once again before they finally parted.
Looking back, they had spent half a day helping others which ended up happily for everyone. However, Carr could tell that Senia didn’t find the ending to be satisfactory. She hadn’t talked since they left the group of merchants behind.
Senia remained silent as if she was in deep thought while walking alongside Carr. Her serious expression made her look like a porcelain doll. At any time, Carr wouldn’t be uneasy about the sight but admiring her but now it worried him.
‘I can’t talk to her anyway, but…’
After conversing with Ellard, Carr couldn’t help but be aware of the complicated feelings he feels in his chest. When he heard the frustrated sigh coming from Senia, he wanted to ask why but again his situation only annoyed him more.