Leguna was relieved to have dealt with this finally. He sent the priest off respectfully. When he turned around he saw Eirinn, mouthing something that wouldn't leave her lungs.
"You don't need to say anything. I can afford it."
"But... I just keep owing you more and more."
"Eirinn," Leguna said as he pressed his hands on her shoulders, "You gave me far more precious things. I'd have starve if not for you. I'd still be just a monkey. You can never owe me anything. Understand?"
Eirinn's eyes watered. She'd gotten an ocean for a drop of dew. She held her breath as she calmed herself and nodded shakily.
Leguna nodded, smiling. The shake of his head, however, caused pain to explode like fireworks in his head.
Eirinn noticed immediately and helped him back to the bed.
"What are you going to do about her face?" Kurdak asked once Eirinn had left. He had been in bed the whole time, listening to the conversation outside the room.
"...If I can't find any other way, I'll ask Annie. She isn't strong enough yet, but she should be in a few years."
"Wow, you're actually going to ask another woman, someone you're chasing, to restore possible competition's looks? Have you really got a deathwish? What if she becomes jealous?"
"I'd love that," Leguna smiled, "But that's for later, right now we should deal with Eirinn's fingers first."
"Yeah, you're right," Kurdak nodded.
"You really went all out, huh? Did you get anything?"
"I can't say for sure yet, but I bet it won't be nothing. Then again, you don't get to criticize me. You're hurt no less than me. You were a bloated pig when I woke up. I thought I was in a pigsty at first!"
"Come on! I was no wear near as badly injured as you! It's just my head, mostly. I'd have woken up long ago if it hadn't been as hurt. I'm more happy my face is back to normal. I'd have skinned that giant alive if not."
"Heh, tell me about it. That Legg is too much. I'm 20-something and I've only faced one other person fiercer than me, and he was a saint!"
"And when did you become a fierce man?"
"What? Don't I look like one?"
"You do! You're usually raw, even rawer than seafood! I just don't understand why you're a kitten when it comes to Big Bis."
"Damn you! Love, that's why, you idiot! What does a hairless brat like you know? And you're not one to talk, anyway! What did you do when you met Annie, huh? When she basically told you to go screw yourself? You left so softly you didn't even squeak like a mouse! If I'm a kitten, then you're a mouse! You're so green you haven't even opened your eyes!"
"Tch, I was just joking. Why'd you have to go after me? I'm only afraid of Annie, though, you're afraid of both her and Vera. And we haven't talked about you ditching me back then yet either! Where is that loyalty you're so proud of, huh?"
"Of course I left you! She'd already deployed her domain, if I'd stayed I'd be a corpse right now! You want her to end me? And I never said I was afraid of her! I could at least talk to her a bit. Unlike the other guy who met her. That certain someone was to terrified he didn't even fart! Hehe, after all the trouble we went through looking for her, she didn't even acknowledge your existence!"
"Enough with the insults! Maybe I should remind you of all those moments you had with Sis?" Leguna hissed angrily.
"Bring it! I'm not afraid! You think I have nothing on you and Annie?!"
The two kept going full steam for hours.
Vera finally relaxed her muscles and let all the air rush out of her lungs for the first time in days. The two boys were finally awake again. She slept for most of the day, leaving the aftercare to the two girls.
The two Veras-in-training were leaning against the door, ears pressed against its surface, listening to the two men go at each other in the room on the other side. Many interesting stories slipped into their ears; such as Leguna being pummeled half to death for peeking on Annelotte bathing; or Vera turning Kurdak into a lump of meat for peeking on her changing; or Annelotte giving Leguna a palm-shaped tattoo on his face out of nowhere because Kurdak chose the wrong words when Vera relieved him of a hand of hair. The two's mouths washed the floor as they listened.
"Does Sis think men like fierce women?" Innilis asked, her face red.
"Eh?" Eirinn had a healthy blush herself, "I... I don't know... Why do you think so?"
"Just listen," Innilis said, pointing at the door, "One of them likes Sis Vera, and the other... likes Annie. Both are fierce and scary... at least towards Uncle and Big Bro."
"Umm… I don't know. They're probably the exception... I don't think Sis Vera and Annie are that fierce. They're actually gentle... and they care for those two a lot."
"So they're fierce on the outside but soft on the inside?--" Innilis rolled her eyes. "--I see."
"I understand why Big Bro likes those women. I... I... I want to be like them!"
"You?! How can you say something so embarrassing?!"
"If I stay embarrassed, Big Bro will forget me. I'm not as beautiful or strong as Annie, or as gentle and caring as you. In Big Bro's eyes, I'm just a little girl. I don't want to be just a little girl. I don't like it. I have to make him see me differently, so I have to change."
Eirinn didn't think a 13-year-old would say such a thing. But the girl had been having the same dream for several days now. She couldn't remember it, but she remembered a nagging voice constantly ordering her around.
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