"That fool..." Leguna couldn't help but grimace after hearing that. It shouldn't been a rather humorous thing to hear about, but he couldn't bring himself to laugh as Eirinn had almost lost her life because of it.
"It's just too bad that I didn't get to deal with the Stokian magus," Lisana said with a regretful look.
"Whether you offed her doesn't matter. She's someone who would stoop to using her comrades for her own escape, after all," Leguna said with a shrug, "So after that you brought her here immediately?"
"That's right. I wanted to hand her to you when you arrived, but I heard you went to the northern highlands. Seeing as she wasn't doing too well, I wrote the captain a letter to ask for a few days' leave while waiting for you."
"She's not doing well? She wasn't hurt, was she?" He heard from Xeno that Eirinn was unharmed and didn't ask more about it, yet Lisana said she wasn't doing too well.
"It's mainly the shock. I don't know what happened before I found her and she wasn't willing to talk about it. But I could see that something obviously caused her great fear. Even though she wasn't physically hurt, she seemed to be rather disturbed in the first few days."
"Why could that happen?" He began to feel restless.
"Don't worry. She's far more stabilized now," she consoled, "I think she'll recover after meeting you."
"Even so, thank you so much, Lisana," he said sincerely. She did in fact help Eirinn out big time and he resolved himself to do his best to repay her.
"It's nothing much. Aren't we friends? Didn't you get into an argument with the captain for my sake back then?"
"Haha, there's that too! But I still owe you for this. I'll make sure to pay you back."
"I won't forget this then." She pointed at a building up front and said, "Alright, that's where Eirinn's staying now. She should be there now. Go to her, quick!"
"You won't be coming in too?"
"The two of you are meeting for the first time in a while. I wouldn't want to be the third wheel!" she said with an insistent shake of her head, "Eirinn knows where I stay. I'm going to wash up, so seek me out if you need anything."
Eirinn flipped through her medicine books nonstop. She found them in the dimensional pocket Alpacino gave her. They were mostly her teacher, Nancy's precious books. Though she had wanted to read them before, she was shooed away to focus on some simpler books first.
But now, even those books were at hand's reach, she couldn't quite calm down to read them properly. There was the fact that they were still beyond her knowledge to comprehend, but mainly, she was feeling rather restless.
She didn't know why Nancy would hand her those books like that. Would Fort Kesta be in danger? It was impossible. Nancy had said that she was an accomplished medic who had similar standing to magi in the army. Good medics were treated well in usual times, and would also be given similar treatment to enemy magi if captured. They had valuable and rare skills, after all.
As for Nancy's prowess as a medic, Eirinn would be willing to bet that she would be even more effective than a high-order priest if given the right tools. That was why she ought to be fine.
Yet, she still couldn't shake the feeling of uneasiness at the sight of the books.
"Big Brother Leguna, come quickly... I miss you..." she mumbled. He was the one he wanted to see the most. With him there, she would no longer have to worry.
That kind of dependency started developing far back into her childhood, but it didn't fade away in the slightest with the passing of time. In fact, it only strengthened.
"Since you miss me so much, I guess I should make time to come here!" Leguna's voice rang out from behind her.
Eirinn shuddered before turning her head with disbelief, only to find Leguna's smiling face looking back at her.
"Alright, before you start, don't ask cliche questions like is it really you. Just come!" He opened his arms wide for a hug.
"Big Brother Leguna!" She leaped into his embrace as expected.
Surprisingly, however, she wasn't too happy to see him. Instead, she began crying.
"It's my bad, Eirinn, that you had to suffer. I'm sorry. I won't let this every happen again," he said as he saw the girl tear up in his chest while he caressed her head.
She didn't say a word and continued to cry.
Leguna only felt his hate for Stokians renewed. Had Lisana not been there, Eirinn would've died at Stokian hands. She had never angered anyone, so why was she treated like that? The southerners really had it coming for them.
"Alright, this won't happen in the future." Leguna spent a good half hour trying to console her. Then, he suddenly thought of something. "By the way, I have good news for you. Want to hear it?"
"What... what good news?" she mumbled.
"Innie's concoctions as a success! Annie can help you restore your looks when we get back!"
She forced herself to stop smiling. She wasn't really in a mood to think about her face now. "Big Brother Leguna, I have something I want to ask of you."
"What is it? Tell me. I'll definitely do it if it's within my capabilities!"
"I want you to help me save my teacher. She refused to leave Fort Kesta with me and I don't know what happened to her now."
"Is that it? No problem! I will get someone to negotiate with Stok. At most, I'll just get His Imperial Majesty to hand over a magus captive to exchange hostages for Madam Nancy. Don't worry, I promise it'll be done!"
"Thank you!" She could finally feel relieved with his promise. Coupled with the good news that she could finally leave the troubles her burned face caused her for the past decade behind, she finally smiled.
"Whatever the case, you have to follow me back to Melindor first." He was finally relieved to see her smile.
That night, the two of them spent the night together.
Nothing physical happened between them. He was only there to accompany her in her sleep to make sure her emotional state was stable. He made sure to get his own mattress to sleep on the ground. He wasn't the kind of guy to prey on her in a time of weakness, after all.
It was a very quiet night. Leguna silently watched over her and she didn't say a single word. He didn't want to ask her what happened after she left the fort either. It would be best if she could forget the bad memories as soon as possible!
However, he was quite curious what happened to Alpacio. He only asked the soldier to prevent Eirinn from being bullied by others in the fort. He wasn't counting on him to help out in such a huge crisis, anyway. Little did he know that Alpacino was the sole reason he was still able to see Eirinn in one piece.
Everything returned to normal the next day. Leguna thanked Lisana once more. The girl was relieved to see Eirinn back to normal and accepted their thanks. She then said that her leave was almost due and she would have to return to the force, so she was going to depart for the eastern battlefield before noon.
Leguna didn't expect her to be in such a huge hurry to leave, but he understood that she didn't have it easy thanks to how strict Alissanda was with military regulations. He was only even more thankful to her for taking time out of her busy schedule to take care of Eirinn.
In the end, he gifted her with a jade accessory.
"Take this. If you need me for anything, you can come to me personally or give this jade to someone else to come in your place. I'll do the one with it a favor. It's what I owe you," he said to the mounted Lisana.
She didn't refuse it and put it away carefully. With a smile, she said, "Then, I'll be taking this. I'll make sure to use it with care."
"Then... goodbye!" The two of them waved her away.
"You take care too!" She nodded before she prodded her horse and left.
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