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“Take a deep breath,” Crit reminded me without any sense of urgency.
I sucked in as much air as my lungs could hold, then Crit yanked the arrow out of my shoulder. If my memory served me right, lodged arrows shouldn’t be pulled. Rather, it should be pushed all the way through in order to minimize the possible damage. However, it was already too late.
I could only bite my lips until I could taste iron as the seething pain came in waves. Even though I was properly seated, my knees still melted like butter. I could literally feel my strength being drained.
Just then, I could hear a slight metal clang beside me. I assumed it was Crit disposing that accursed arrow. He then went nearer and said, “Stop squirming. It’s just an arrow.”
He then shoves a folded cloth unto my wound, then pressed it hard. This one, I was certain was needed to stop the bleeding, but that knowledge didn’t help numb the pain. I wasn’t able to stop myself this time around and let out a high pitched scream. “Ahh!!!”
A soft, gentle hand tapped my head, then a surge of warmth enveloped my body. From my head, the warmth spread downwards. Weirdly enough, I could feel the warms worming its way down and pooling on my wound.
It felt nice and calming. The pain slowly faded. I wasn’t sure if my shoulder just got numbed or the wound was healed, but I sure was grateful for the relief. For once, it was nice being reminded what it felt like without an agonizing arrow-wound.
However, the warmth vanished and the wound started to itch. At first, it was just a slight tingling sensation, but it quickly aggravated. It became a severe itch to the point that I wouldn’t mind scratching it until my skin bled.
But just as I was about to reach out for my wound, Piram’s kind voice stopped me from moving. “Don’t touch it. Just bear with it a little longer, and it will close.”
The severe itch was still there, but Piram’s words somehow soothed me. I bit my already bleeding lips, then shouted. That continued for a few minutes until the itch just vanished like it was just a hellish nightmare.
I panted, trying to take in as much oxygen as I physically could. Then, something cold slapped my neck. With my weak and trembling hand, I touched what felt like a wet towel. With the pain and itch gone, I sat down and leaned back on my chair, letting the wood support all my weight. I didn’t realize I was already sweating buckets.
Letting my head rest on the chair’s back, I tried to calm my rugged breathing.
“Go on and rest for a while,” Piram said from beside me.
I gratefully obliged. I let my eyes shut for a good few minutes until my breathing has calmed down. When I opened my eyes, I wiped the sweat covering my entire body. The towel’s coldness provided some sense of relief, and once I was done, I felt refreshed.
“What happened?” Piram asked, her eyes shifting from me and Crit.
“I… I don’t know. I was just lying on my bed when a lit arrow broke my window and set my room’s wall ablaze. Then, more arrows followed. If not for Meru–” My eyes widened at the thought. I tried to spring up, but my hands gave before I could even pull myself up.
Just then, a considerable smaller Meru came out of my room, and a sigh of relief escaped me.
“Then…” Crit’s stern voice egged me to continue.
I looked up, then continued, “With Meru distinguishing the flames in exchange of taking damage, I jumped out of the window. That’s where I see the Goblins, then Crit arrives.”
Piram’s gaze averted towards Crit, who simply nodded. However, she wasn’t backing down. Her gaze pierced him, causing Crit to clear his throat.
“Err… The Goblins were already there when I went out. When they saw us, they charged and we were forced to fight,” Crit explained.
Piram, however, wasn’t satisfied with his answer. “So, how did the boy get injured when you’re out there?”
Crit swallowed. “He–” he stuttered, “he fought the leader.”
Piram’s eyebrows knit, and I swore I saw flames ignite on her eyes. She stomped towards him, then said with a sharp voice, “He fought the leader?”
Crit, who didn’t show any sense of fear while facing more than a dozen Goblins, stepped back. Despite my weak body, I could see beads of sweat covering his forehead. He swallowed again. “Yes, he did. Actually, he killed it on his own.”
Crit’s gaze now turned towards me. “You did a great job back there. Actually, an incredibly great job. Who exactly are you?”
His statement piqued Piram’s interest enough for her to change her focus towards me. It was my turn to sweat buckets. Even though Piram didn’t say anything, I could feel her piercing curiosity.
I gulped. “I… I don’t know…”
They both stared daggers into me. Obviously, they didn’t buy what I said. With her eyebrows knit, Piram asked, “You must at least know who you are, Kite.” She put emphasis on my name.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to lie my way through this. At least not without revealing some truth.
I sighed, mustered my courage, then started, “Well…”
I told them about how I just woke up gravely injured with a dead dog by my side. I told them I couldn’t remember anything before that, that I didn’t even know Rihoku. I told them about how two humanoid demons told me about the curse, then how I met Meru.
I narrated everything that I remembered from the moment I got meru and reached them. However, I pretended not to know how I got mixed up with Lureschka, since I was certain telling them that I was originally a hero summoned by the Demon Lord wouldn’t result in anything good.
At the very least, their expressions relaxed. I wasn’t sure if they believed my story, but they were at least no longer hostile towards me.
Piram let out a long breath, then said, “ So, that’s the reason you stink of monster stench.”
My eyes widened. I was forcefully reminded of the curse’s effects, then my brows furrowed. “If you can smell the monster stench on me, then why did you save me that day?”
I first looked at Crit, but he only responded with a stern look, so I quickly shifted to Piram. A gentle smile crept on her face as she said, “Because you didn’t look like a monster.”
“I didn’t look like a monster?” I echoed.
“Yes. No matter where I look, you are just a wounded boy. I can’t just leave you there to perish,” she clarified, her tone as gentle as it could be.
Her words weirdly soothed me. My insides felt warm, but it didn’t hurt. I didn’t know why, but I felt lighter. I opened my mouth, but there seemed to be a lump in my throat.
Piram continued, “I thought you must be going through some circumstances, and lo, I am right.”
“Thank you…” I managed to squeeze out in the slightest of whispers.
“Indeed you must thank me! Or else, this tough guy over here would’ve ended your life already.” She chuckled then elbowed Crit.
Crit smiled awkwardly, then looked at me as if warning me to forget what I’m seeing. That sight made me chuckle only for Crit’s gaze to intensify.
I quickly stopped myself from chuckling and took that opportunity to change the topic. “I know it’s not my position to be asking this, but who are you guys really?”
“Oh ho. We’re nothing but a typical old couple,” Piram said matter of factly.
I wasn’t convinced. Not when I saw Crit fight. “That can’t be. Crit just killed more than a dozen Goblins with ease.”
“We might know how to fight or two. But the greater mystery is why did these Goblins attack us. Perhaps…” As if it wasn’t sharp enough, Crit’s gaze turned sharper.
I lowered my head. I couldn’t prove that it wasn’t really my fault.
Just then, Piram spoke. “Now, now. A few Goblins aren’t a problem. We’re near the monsters’ territory, so this might be a coincidence. Nonetheless, there’s still a probability of this happening again, so we must be prepared.”
“What are you suggesting, Piram?” Crit asked.
“You should train Kite,” Piram said with a deceivingly kind smile.
Synopsis: The online game <