A False Confession - Chapter 19
At my words, Elvin’s mouth closed shut. My voice sounded so low and depressed when it came out that I felt slightly ashamed for it, but I still couldn’t bring myself to smile, even awkwardly. From the moment I heard the word, “saint,” its disparity with the truth really made my heart feel heavy.
“Sir Knight. I… I was really just scared of the suffering that I’d have had to endure. In that situation, the Vice General was seriously wounded, but more than that, the truth is….at such a critical moment, I was terrified of the guilt I’d have had to shoulder as a consequence of not being able to save him.”
At the time, even the contents of my desperate prayer were entirely selfish. I’d thought, if I can’t save him, then I won’t be able to sleep for the rest of my life.
I had watched the color and energy slowly drain from his face, and I had known that this face would appear like a ghost to haunt me if he died.
That’s why I hadn’t felt so awful about myself in the moment. But reflecting on my actions now, I regret everything, especially the moments that I allowed myself to think like that.
Elvin bit his lip tightly with a stiff expression. Quietly facing his golden eyes, I finally confessed everything I’d felt at the time. I just wanted to get everything off of my chest.
From the person who praises me the most, who is the leader of Abnel’s Order of Holy Knights and is called the Light of Keschmir, I don’t want to be called a saint. So I confessed everything.
In fact, at that time, I had been distressed because my thoughts were full of the mercenary who had died before. And now that I think about it, it’s highly likely that the reason my divine power didn’t come out during those moments was because my selfishness took precedence. It wasn’t Tirack’s safety that came first in my mind, but actually… my own trauma.
Long after I finished my story, Elvin remained silent. Then he frowned slightly, tilting his head as he inquired.
“Is the Priestess saying that she is selfish because she was unable to treat him since he wasn’t her first priority, that she was putting herself first?”
“…..Are you disappointed?”
“No, no. It’s not that… I just don’t really understand which part of it is wrong.”
When asked if he was disappointed, Elvin denied it in a serious way, allowing his words to trail off. He really did seem at a loss, but he asked again as if he was determined to somehow understand it.
“Speaking in terms of the means and purpose that the Priestess mentioned before… In fact, does it mean that the Priestess’s purpose wasn’t to save Lord Tirack himself, but to save him as a means to an end?”
……Kant’s words really seem to have made a deep impression on this guy. I looked at him with an uncomfortable expression, but eventually burst into laughter.
But Elvin seemed startled, not expecting my laughter. What, he wasn’t trying to make me laugh, but seriously wanted to talk about means and purpose?
“If so, did anyone suffer a loss due to the Priestess’s actions? “
“Priestess, you said it was your own selfishness, but that selfishness ended up saving everyone.”
It was similar to the conversation I’d had with him before. Previously, I had asked him if he was treating me well because of my divine power. He’d responded with another question, asking if I’d be disappointed if the answer was yes. I was rather embarrassed, questioning why he would think so.
In fact, at that time, I had expected Elvin to say, “Yes of course.” And then, I had planned to respond with a promise to work hard, and that would be the end of that.
However, I’d ended up putting myself in an uncomfortable situation, so I had to explain that I suffered no loss from our exchange; on the contrary, I’d thought it was generous of him to expend the effort regardless of his purpose.
I blinked vaguely. I had forgotten bits and pieces of that conversation, but Elvin remembered it with such precision.
And he now returned my own words to me. Suddenly, a surge of tears began streaming down my face, but I couldn’t account for the reason. I really don’t understand it, but… regardless, I couldn’t deny that hearing that everyone lives their lives in selfishness resonated with me deeply.
My eyes trembled. And with my face beginning to crumble, Elviniraz’s hand approached very carefully. No, to be exact, it was towards my hair that was cut on one side. Come to think of it, my hair must look really ridiculous right now.
My hair originally reached all the way down to my waist, but the left side was cut during the ambush, so a chunk of it now falls separately. With this realization came embarrassment, so I tried to brush my hair back, but Elvin was faster. His hand very gingerly slid my hair behind my ear.
His fingertips brushed my cheek.
“…And, Priestess, there’s nothing for me to be disappointed about in you. Just as you were not disappointed in me.”
The cheek he was touching in that moment became warm. Elvin was half-wrapped around my head, slowly sweeping my hair behind my ear.
His hand was so large, I was under the impression that my face must be completely covered like this. He didn’t touch me directly, but my eyes quivered slightly at the gentle warmth radiating from his palm.
I had confessed my guilt to Elvin under the assumption that he would be disappointed in me. I really expected it to turn out that way.
From the beginning, hadn’t I intended to confess because of how wrong it felt being called a saint by the existence that most resembled light and was more sacred than anyone else? Feeling a bit subdued, I lowered my eyes and mulled over what he said for a while.
Then, when I lifted my head, I noticed that he was still looking at me.
Since he was covered in the shade of a tree, they were less bright, but, those golden eyes even now maintained a brilliance that still held me unwaveringly. I felt a bit puzzled, so I asked as I tilted my head a bit away from him.
“Is there something you want to say? Please speak freely.”
I said it was okay, but did Elvin feel reluctant? When I asked my question a bit sadly, I felt Elvin’s hand tremble. Even his eyes began to shake. As if he was embarrassed by my question.
“Well, it’s just…..I was wondering if… if, I could hug you now?”
“I mean, just as a comforting gesture, but, I was worried it might be considered burdensome…”
Elvin’s words began to wander as he stuttered and moved awkwardly. It was my first time seeing him like this so my eyes widened, making Elvin’s stuttering even worse as he rushed to explain. He said that the thought just crossed his mind for a moment, and he asked me not to feel pressured by it……
I was suddenly struck by a feeling of déjà vu. I recalled the moment when I myself was stuttering before him not too long ago, stammering my way through a very shameful story about my wish for him to be injured just so that I could see his face up close.
I felt embarrassed once more, but I couldn’t help laughing as I recognized my past self projected onto his present appearance.
However, it was strangely amusing to see him stuttering like this, so I tilted my head to the other side and made a sound of contemplation. His hand that had stayed near my cheek began to tremble and tried to withdraw.
“Yes. I think it would be comforting.”
But at my answer, Elvin froze. My words seemed to pass over him for a moment before he fully understood what I was saying. It happened in just a fleeting moment, but I watched the subtle, yet clear change in emotion. I could feel my stomach begin to swirl at the kind of joy that followed.
Elvin’s arm carefully approached and wrapped around my shoulder. In hesitation, he paused for a moment….. but eventually, he embraced my back and led me into his arms. He was wearing his uniform, not armor, so I felt closer to him.
Although we were sitting next to each other, he was still so much taller than me that my head barely reached his shoulder. I agonized about what to do for a moment, and finally decided upon leaning my head on his shoulder, allowing myself to fulfill my selfishness.
Elvin patted me on my back very slowly. He moved so cautiously that I wondered how such a large hand could be so delicate. It felt a little, no, it felt really good, so I buried my head a bit deeper into his shoulder.
Elvin’s tender voice reached my ears.
“Priestess, I don’t know if I can call it ‘selfishness.’ But, if it’s still causing you pain…”
It was so calm and soft that I could almost cry.
“Then, let’s call it the most selfless selfishness.”
“Do you like it?”*
[tl/n*: Here, Elvin uses 마음에 드십니까? which does technically translate into, “Do you like it?,” but its literal translation is more like asking if someone/something “entered your heart.” Its feeling is more like you may have neither wanted nor intended to, but you ended up liking it all the same. The difference in connotation felt significant enough to mention here, since there’s no direct translation in English.]
Elvin asked me quietly. The warm arms, the careful touch, and the affectionate voice he conveyed were so unfamiliar that I felt distant and I couldn’t answer for a while…. Eventually I nodded.
The sound of my head rubbing against his shoulders was strange, but I felt so good that I just laughed.
“Yes, I like it.”*
[tl/n*: Same as above. Literally, it “entered her heart.” Which is much cuter tbh.]
Elvin laughed lightly at my answer, too, and as I heard that laughter, I quietly reflected on what he had said. For a very long time.
The most selfless selfishness.
* * * * * * *
After lunch, I asked Lily to fix my hair.
She was reluctant and refused me a couple times, as if she was feeling hesitant about cutting the hair I’d grown all the way to my waist. But she finally gave in with a laugh when I told her that I didn’t want to go around with this asymmetrical haircut that reaches my chest to the left and my waist to the right.
Ever since I was a child growing up in the temple, my hair has always been cut by Lily. Her skills are so good that other children often asked Lily as well. So I sat myself in front of Lily, laughing heartily while we reminisced about those times.
It was a very peaceful moment. We sat behind the barracks, and as I watched my hair fall one by one onto the cloth covering me, I told Lily that this could also be considered a type of glory-wound, in its own way. Lily playfully responded that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to collect them, and so now I’m actually considering it.
The warm sunlight beamed down on us, and a cool breeze blew.
After Lily was finished cutting, I was in a dubious mood, looking uneasily at my freshly shortened hair. Wanting to see it better with a mirror, I began my way back to the barracks. But at that moment, I ran into someone.
It was Tirack, openly smiling as soon as he saw me. Although I was surprised to see him in a rather comfortable outfit, opting out of his usual Nickel Knights uniform that I always saw him in, it was amazing to see him standing well.
So….. He was completely fine.
With a serious expression, I examined him up and down even though I knew it was very rude behavior.
I had expected to see him wrapped in bandages or even leaning on crutches, but there was nothing. Tirack burst into laughter, watching as my serious expression gradually shifted to one of bewildered embarrassment.
His booming laughter was the same as always, leaving me momentarily deaf as it ricocheted through my ears.
“You healed me, Priestess! The wounded soldiers around me recovered as well, but out of all of them, I’m the most perfectly healed!”
I still couldn’t believe it. Because of my openly embarrassed face where only my eyes blinked in shock, Tirack even pretended to run, insisting that he was really fine.
Then he said that if I really didn’t believe it, then he’d show me himself. Suddenly, the lower part of his shirt slipped upward….
“.…..Don’t do anything weird.”
A terrifyingly low voice rang out like a warning, making Tirack’s shoulders begin to tremble. Cabel placed his hand over Tirack’s shoulders and called him with an impassive expression.
It was only a simple call, but Tirack’s complexion quickly deteriorated. He nodded his head vigorously even as his face paled, and somehow he now looks more like the patient who I was expecting before.
He had barely lifted his shirt, but he still hurriedly sorted out his messy clothes and apologized.
He stuttered as he tried to explain, saying that it was actually so impressive that he found himself checking the wound whenever he had the chance and it had become a habit, and that he did not intend to startle me.
The image of Cabel resting his hand behind Tirack’s neck somehow gave the illusion of a puppet-master controlling him.