Even though, Senia’s hair hid her face, Carr could tell how she felt. Her quivering voice and white knuckles tightly gripping her robe gave it away.
The saint of the sun, who had saved hundreds of people, now realized her own helplessness. She couldn’t save and heal those women.
‘Does it cause you such pain?’
Carr couldn’t understand why she experienced pain. The wounds did not belong to her, but was someone else’s wound, and as such, was their pain, and not hers. Senia had devoted herself to her position as a saint and helped so many people without asking anything in return. She needed to endure her own burden and should focus only on her own suffering. He couldn’t understand why she was so distressed by other’s pain.
Senia drew in a quiet deep breath when she felt Carr’s questioning gaze on her. She was used to talking to herself, so to have Carr listen to her gloomy thoughts embarrassed her. She cleared her throat and turned to Carr. She made sure to have her usual sweet smile in place as if there was nothing wrong.
“I want to get out of here as soon as possible.”
A completely different person stood before him. No trace of the woman who had trembled due to her own feeling of helplessness remained. No, the woman who stood before Carr right now wore a beautiful, radiant smile, and looked almost doll like. At that moment, Carr recognized it as just a mask that she showed to the rest of the world.
As they made their way down the mountain, a piercing scream rang out. Both Carr and Senia, who were leading the group of women, turned to look back in surprise. In the last group, a woman who had been raped, shook while holding her hip. Her eyes were wide open, as if she had seen a ghost.
Not only them, but the other women also turned toward her in shock. Nobody knew what was happening, but watched as the woman stretched her slender arm out and pointed into the distance.
In the direction of the woman’s outstretched arm was the bandit that Senia had punished with the power of heaven. The unconscious man lay, knocked out, on the forest floor. The rest of the women hurried to help their distressed friend, ignoring Senia.
“Why….?! WHY IS THAT TRASH ALIVE?!” The woman shouted with angry eyes. The rest of the villagers, turned to Senia.
“I can’t harm human life as I am a saint,” Senia answered in a soft voice with her usual smile in place.
“Don’t make me laugh! What about my injuries?! What about my life?! We almost died!” The woman cursed at Senia as her shoulder trembled in anger. Her eyes were filled with hatred as she remembered the trauma she’d endured.
“Just kill that trash!”
“I can’t do that,” Senia said firmly, in an even, soft voice. “The heavenly power that I used toward him is filled with purification. If he’s not purely evil, the moment he wakes up he will feel responsible for his sins and will atone for it with his life.”
“Responsible? Atonement?” The disbelief in the woman’s voice was apparent. “That doesn’t erase what I’ve suffered! If that scumbag wants atonement, tell him to die as painful as possible in front of me!”
The woman, who was hunched over, pushed herself up and onto her feet. Sensing what about to happen, Senia ran toward the woman who’d wrapped her hands around the bandit’s neck.
“You have to forgive.”
“No matter how much you hate, how much you resent, and how much pain you’re feeling, you must forgive. Even if the sin is unforgivable, you shouldn’t take revenge.”
“Fuck off…! Don’t talk nonsense! Why must I do that?! You… You can say that because you didn’t experience it! If…. If such a thing happens to you, do you think a word like ‘forgiveness’ will come out of your mouth?!”
Carr, who’d remained silent as the scene unfolded, flinched at the woman’s words. Even though, it had been Senia who’d suggested he take her virginity, it still happened because she was cursed. There must be a grudge somewhere inside her, even if it was invisible.
“Yes, I forgive it.”
Carr didn’t expect that one sentence could sting, but Senia’s answer confirmed it. However, the woman couldn’t accept it.
“No way, that’s a fucking lie! It’s not possible! Are you saying you can forgive the trash that ruined you? Why?! How!”
“That’s….” Her jeweled eyes distorted and lost their spark. Carr had never seen this expression before and it made him hold his breath. “….Because I’m a saint.”
The answer was uttered with sorrow, regret, anguish and in complete acceptance of her fate.
When all the kidnapped women returned, the village was in tears again. The rape victims cried once again, but this time they were tears of joy at being returned to their family. Senia prayed for the long-lasting happiness of those women that might someday overpower the hatred in their hearts.
Soon, the hectic day came to an end and both Senia and Carr were able to rest in a proper room. The night sky was covered in stars that whispered a lullaby for their sleep, before being replaced by the rising sun the following day.
From early morning, the people busied themselves with the restoration of the village. The danger had passed, but there were many things that needed fixing after the attack. Senia too woke up early in the morning, never able to forget her training of early morning prayer. She’d refused the villagers’ request to stay for a few more days. After all it wouldn’t be long until they arrived at the temple. As soon as, Carr was ready, they would leave.
Furthermore, she wasn’t comfortable in the small inn with its thin walls.
Senia studied at herself in the mirror. After thoroughly cleaning herself, brushing her hair, and straightening her robe, she walked out of her room to eat breakfast.
Out of her peripheral view, she spotted Carr who sat in the front yard of the inn cleaning his sword. A small spark flashed every time he ran the square stone against the edge of his blade. Opposite him, the little boy from yesterday watched the scene with curiosity
“Wow! Is that your sword? It’s huge!”
“Stay back, it’s dangerous.”
“Can’t I touch it? Please? Just once!”
“No, it’s dangerous.” Carr repeated as he looked at the boy with the pleading eyes, “But you can touch the scabbard. Just once.”
Carr lay down the sharpening stone and handed the rigid leather sheath to the boy. The scabbard was too heavy for the him to lift, even with both hands. He groaned which caused Carr to let out a small smile.
“Woah…. Woah!” The child who used all his strength to swing the scabbard, ended up falling on his back. Carr quickly rose, intending to help the boy, but Senia reached the him first.
“Good morning, you two.”
“Oh! The saint!”
Upon Senia’s arrival, Carr returned to his seat, quickly controlling his expression, and resumed sharpening his sword while watching as the other two spoke.
“It’s okay to talk as comfortably as you did yesterday.”
“Oh, no! I was reprimanded by my parents and told me to be polite. The village’s chief even pinched my ear!”
“Is that so….? That’s a little disappointing.” Senia laughed bitterly at the boy’s animated speech.
“Saint lady! Are you really going with the big brother today? Why not stay a few more days?”
“I’m sorry, but there’s something important we must do.”
The boy let out a dejected sigh and Senia smiled before turning to Carr.
“Sir Carr, are you alright with us leaving after breakfast?”
Carr nodded his head once, eyes still focused on the sword that he was sharpening. Despite it being his usual reaction, Senia felt disappointment.
“The villagers brought us some travel materials that I asked for, but I might forget something, so please check for me, Sir Carr.”
Another short nod which made the even the little boy frown.
“Saint Lady, did you fight with big brother?” He asked with his head tilted to the side as he watched Carr pack up his belongings.
“Why hasn’t he said a word to saint lady since yesterday? You two had a fight, right? But that method is too childish, brother.” The little boy clicked his tongue, eyeing Carr with a disapproving gaze. Carr stared back too dumbfounded about the boy’s conclusion to react. He knew she would explain and he was right.
“No, we didn’t fight?”
“Huh? Then why aren’t you two talking to each other?”
“That’s… erm… there’s a promise that he has to keep.”
“Ayy, what kind of promise is that? I don’t believe it. If you didn’t fight, do you have a bad relationship?”
“Um…” Senia blinked, not really sure what to say. She couldn’t say outright that Carr would lose his life if he talked to her.
She took a deep breath and bent her knees to look the child in the eyes, smiling gently.
“We don’t have a bad relationship.”
“Yes…. Really….” Senia’s gaze turned to Carr who nodded his head, confirming Senia’s words. He hoped it was enough to appease the little boy.
“That’s a relief!” The boy smiled after watching the short interaction between the two adults, “So you two are good friends?”
A child’s way of thinking was a simple thing, either something was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Senia couldn’t really say that they were good friends. Their current situation was complicated. After all, Carr was forced into a relationship with her, while Senia was supposed to restrain him from performing bad deeds. It wasn’t an ideal relationship that would be categorized as good.
While Senia contemplated their relationship, Carr stepped forward and easily lifted the boy up off the ground.
“Hey kid, you said you were running errands for the owner here? Don’t ask weird questions and do your work quickly.” He said calmly as he swung the door open
“Oh! Wow, wow! You’re very strong!” The child laughed as Carr carried him into the inn and gently set him back down. The boy ran into the kitchen with a big smile on his face.
Senia looked at Carr’s back, blushing slightly at the consideration he had shown to her situation. The journey had been very nice since the beginning and one of the reasons for that was Carr. Even if his acts of kindness were only schemes to win her favor, Carr helped her many times. She wanted to express her gratitude, so it should be okay to be a bit greedy, right?
“Would… it be rude if I want us to get along….?” She asked quietly, making sure that only Carr was able to hear her.
Carr looked back at her in surprised, wondering if the words were a joke, but Senia’s face was serious. Furthermore, he saw the light blush on her cheeks.
She wasn’t joking around. And yet, Carr couldn’t refuse immediately despite the logical part of him telling him to do so. It was partly because a saint like her had smiled and shown kindness toward a devil like him. Although, there was another reason he didn’t want to refuse that didn’t involve the lust her body inspired in him, but he couldn’t identify the feeling.
Carr rubbed his neck and entered the inn without giving his answer, which forced Senia to chase after unsure if his response was positive or not.
“Carr….?” She called out with a tearful expression. She wanted to see his smiling face.