Translator and editor: SaltyTank
It was already midnight when she woke up; Prommel’s voice was loud enough to drag her out from her sleep.
‘You really don’t deserve praises do you? Right after saying you did well to return unscathed, you end up like this the next day! Didn’t I tell you to be a bit more conservative when fighting?’
Prommel was wearing a set of simple armour with a cloak over it. He started blasting Andre with words right when he arrived, and the one getting scolded could only scratch his face without putting up much of a fight.
‘It was dangerous…’
‘Is there even a fight that’s not dangerous? It’s just how things are when fighting them.’
Despite him being angry with Andre, Prommel raised his hand and showered light blue particles onto Andre’s injured arm. A hologram hovered above his arm, revealing tissues that have been torn apart and cracks on his bones; he did well to not make even the slightest of moans this whole time.
Even Prommel couldn’t bear the sight of the injuries. With both hands, he placed his fingers a few centimetres above the wound and started pointing here and there, fixing the internal injuries of Andre’s arm with his magic.
Threads of blue interweaved the wounds and drew the torn apart skin together once again as the threads shrunk. His arm sparkled; the tissues within his arm were rapidly regenerating.
‘Actually Jade’s a lot more hurt than I am, you should treat her first.’
‘Even Jade’s injured? Can you even call yourself a guard?’
‘Ah, Mister Pro… Prommel, Andre and Hilde did their best to protect me. I was the one who suddenly charged out, it’s not their fault,’ Jade interjected from beside. It was only then the other three realised she had woken up.
‘No,’ Andre shook his head. ‘I’m sorry for saying such things to you. I should thank you for saving me, or else Hilde will be lecturing me for who knows how long again.’
‘You dumbass!’ Hilde knocked Andre right on the head. ‘Jade, I “absolutely” did not threaten him, he finally came to this realisation himself!”
‘Is that so…’
Jade could once again feel how Andre was a rather simple man when it came to certain things, and he was especially clumsy when it came to socialising.
‘But Prommel,’ Andre’s tone suddenly changed. ‘The main problem this time isn’t the outcome of the fight.’
‘Then what is?’
‘Before this happened, the sky didn’t collapse over here right?’
Prommel’s hands came to a halt immediately upon his words.
‘Now… now that you mention it…’
‘They changed their activity patterns.’
‘Right, the skies have collapsed before they attacked for the past few years. If they start attacking places without this cue, we can’t make it in time.’
‘Mhm, maybe Marie drifted off and didn’t notice it?’ Hilde said with her head tilted, only to be immediately shot down by Prommel.
‘No one’s so lazy like you okay? Marie can detect the changes even in her sleep!’
‘Hoh, she better be that good! She’s good? I can also notice everything that’s going on beside me in my sleep!’
‘You almost got fetched away by wolves a few times. I was the one who saved you.’
‘Hold up! Andre, for real? Why did you never tell me about it!’ Hilde scurried over to Andre but was scooted aside by Prommel, for she was interrupting his treatment.
‘Com’on, don’t disturb us…’
‘Hmph, you guys can talk all you want!’
Hilde sulkily laid down beside Jade and planned to protest about being left out by pretending to fall asleep immediately. It did not take long, however, before Jade could hear long, rhythmic breaths coming from Hilde who was fast asleep. The three couldn’t help but chuckle.
‘Back to the point. Prommel, if they really changed the way they attack, we have to find out the new pattern.’
‘Something must have changed, something we didn’t notice.’
‘Speaking of changes…’ Andre looked around. ‘Not sure if you can feel it too, but did the smog turn thicker? Or is it because I haven’t been back for so long?’
‘The smog?’ Prommel paused for a moment to look around. ‘That’s right, something’s wrong with how thick the smog is. It’s been years since it was this bad.’
‘But what does the smog have to do with them?’
‘If I must come up with something… Andre, don’t you think the glow our magic gives off looks similar to the smog?’
Prommel spoke as he wrapped up the treatment. The light blue aura radiating from his hands slowly dissipated into the air and fused with the smog. The two looked at each other, but were unable to further elaborate on their speculation.
‘Prommel, please treat Jade first.’
‘Ah, I’m fine, you guys should go on if you’re discussing something important…’
‘Just be a good girl and get treated, don’t bother about other stuff.’
‘You don’t have to apologise all the time,’ Prommel chuckled as he walked to sit next to Jade. He then proceeded to dismantle the sword strapped onto her back.
Being freed from the makeshift fixator felt nice, but even the slightest of movement caused a sharp pain to radiate from her fractured bones.
Prommel created a hologram with his magic near Jade’s injury. Her ribs were clearly fractured, thankfully her organs were fine.
‘If the attack came from a slightly different angle, your heart might be punctured already.’
‘It’s, it’s that bad?’
‘But, because of how well your body fused with the cores, the surrounding tissues would have replaced your heart’s functions. So you’ll live regardless.’
‘Uh, it still feels kinda strange to hear about it…’
‘Haha, we’re strange existences after all. It’s not so easy to kill us.’ The two laughed bitterly.
As Jade quietly received her treatment, she could see Andre swinging his sword out in the distance, seemingly worried about having some sort of sequela from his injuries. His serious attitude towards fighting was honestly worthy of praise, at least that was how Jade felt.
‘Heh, don’t go running around right away like that guy alright? Though we have higher regenerative powers, it doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want with our bodies.’
‘But how… can Andre be so hardworking? He just got bashed by the villagers not too long ago, and now he’s acting like nothing happened already.’
‘Hm? Did something happen?’
‘After Andre and Hilde defeated the gods, the villagers thought we attracted the gods over and wanted us to take responsibility.’
‘Ha, that again?’ Prommel simply sneered and shook his head.
‘Did something similar happen before?’
‘So many times that we’ve lost count of it! Blaming us for being too late, blaming us for attracting the monsters, blaming us for fighting the monsters, blaming us exposing them to danger… Sigh, some places even call us the “Tuninese demons”, which is how Andre ended up calling himself a demon as well.’
‘That’s right, we humans are supposed to be in the same boat, yet we always somehow end up dragging down one another. A few years ago, I told Andre to find somewhere safe and live a simple life, defending only themselves and no one else.’
‘So what did he say?’ Jade was curious.
‘Hoh, he said, “As long as those monsters exist to threaten the world, I won’t back down.”. He even added in something like “I understand why people fear us. We can kill those monsters, so we’re not so different from the monsters ourselves.”. Basically, he doesn’t care what people think,’ Prommel answered as he reminisced about the past. To be able to remember something someone else said years ago, it must have left a deep impression on him.
‘So he has always been like that…’
‘Back then, I thought that brat was living too much in his own world also. Now that I think back about it, perhaps I was also affected by how worked up he was. That guy, really…’
Her treatment was finally completed as well. Prommel let out a sigh and sat against a nearby tree, popping a brain core into his mouth.
Jade tried moving her body slightly and only sat up after noticing there weren’t any major issues. Having stayed still for over half a day, it felt nice to be able to move again. Her exhaustion seemingly disappeared into thin air as well.
After moving her body around gently for a while, she hurriedly turned to thank Prommel with a slight bow.
‘Mister Prommel, I’m really thankful.’
‘It’s not a big deal! I’m glad to be of some use as well. Though if possible, I’d prefer fighting alongside Andre with a weapon in hand…’
It was around then Andre returned from his ‘light’ exercise. After sparing a looks at Hilde who was fast asleep and Jade who had just finished receiving her treatment, he found a vacant spot nearby and sat down. He then started removing his armour, getting set for the night.
Having witnessed how Hilde helped him take off his equipment, she mustered her courage from seemingly nowhere and went to help him out. Andre did nothing to stop her either.
‘Prommel, fighting or whatnot, just leave it to me and Hilde. We’re the ones who’re not very useful, knowing nothing aside from how to fight. When the monsters are gone, it’ll be up to people like you and Geraldine to keep the world in shape.’
‘Sigh, I don’t even dare to imagine something so distant.’
Unable to refute, Prommel gave a hearty laugh.
‘Ha, you’re right, we can talk about it when we get back to base tomorrow! Geraldine and Marie need to know about this too.’
They had a long night ahead of time. The three tidied up their items and went to rest. As Jade snuggled beside Hilde, she found that Andre was still sitting there.
He held his head up, seemingly gazing into the starry sky; though in truth, there was nothing in sight given how thick the smog was. He gave a light sigh and walked a bit further away before finally lying down while hugging his sword.
The starry sky.
Jade suddenly remembered that her Tuninese neighbour used to talk about it all the time. In all Tuninese folktales, the flickering stars hanging high up in the sky guided their people. As long as they could look up at the stars, the Tuninese would never lose sight of their path.