Next morning, we got up quite early and prepared to leave the town for Anartia’s imperial capital.
I carried Julianne on my back and left the inn. On our way out, the first princess smiled and gave thanks to the owner and staffs, mesmerizing all of them. They were all turned into stones and couldn’t even say goodbye.
Not wasting any time, I ran straight towards the City of Revel—Anartia’s imperial capital.
“What is it?”
“I mean, my boobs are gluing to your back, right?”
“. . .”
I refused to make any comment and focused on running. Along the way, we talked about meaningless things while enjoying a little bit of scenery here and there. Julianne said Anartia has a lot of great sightseeing spots, but they are all pretty hard to reach so not many people knew about them. She also seemed pleased when I said I’d take her and Ilianne on a sightseeing trip when her body has gotten better.
Soon, we reached our destination. There were lots of people coming in and out of the imperial capital as usual, but once they saw me and Julianne, they immediately made way and let us in.
Inside the city, we could clearly see how the country was recovering from that surprise attack by Rivell as construction sites were everywhere. Despite all that, the commercial area was still as active as ever. Merchants who lost their shops set up stalls and continued selling goods, the Church was always open to receive more injured people despite being half-destroyed. Everyone was happy and it also pleased Julianne whose face was filled with smiles.
But there was actually a small problem.
We attracted way too much attention.
The Hero of the country carrying that country’s First Princess on his back on the street? What could possibly have been any more flashy and show-off than that?
Under the cheers of the crowd—also some tongue-clicks from quite a few young ladies—we slowly walked towards the royal castle. I could clearly tell my face was burning hot because of how embarrassing that was, but since Julianne was enjoying the moment, I didn’t want to ruin it. Thus, we arrived at the castle with me being more drained than running hundreds of miles nonstop.
“You’re well loved, aren’t you? Mister mercenary.”
“The hell are you talking about?”
“Didn’t you hear all those women clicking their tongues when they saw you carrying me?”
“They just got the wrong idea.”
“Aww, so you don’t like me at all?”
“Cut me some slacks, what is that kind of logic even——”
As we entered the castle, the servants freaked out and made a huge ruckus, it was partly surprise and partly joy upon seeing their princess again.
* * *
After placing Julianne into her wheelchair, I let the maids took care of her and left her room. I didn’t exactly want to dip into their warm family reunion so I returned to my room—which somehow became Ilianne’s room also—and found the person herself sitting on the bed, waiting for me.
“Oh, Ilianne, are you gonna go see your sister?”
“Ah, yes, but . . .”
Standing up to welcome me at the door, Ilianne was oddly fidgety for some reason. After a couple seconds of silence, she mustered up some mental strength and timidly grabbed my shirt. Then she lightly pulled me and placed her lips on mine.
I mean, I thought free service was an amazing thing so I didn’t ruin the moment but instead, obediently enjoyed it. Ilianne was shaking because of nervousness, but it was pretty cute so no problem there.
By the time our lips separated, her face was already crimson red from ear to ear.
“Thanks but . . . why so sudden?”
Agree that Ilianne had already become my personal possession through that worldly vow, but that didn’t mean I would force anything on her, ever. That said, it was pretty odd for her to suddenly do something like that despite being so anxious about it.
“It, it’s my gratitude . . .”
“B-Bringing my sister back . . . was it not good enough?”
Jeez, this pair of sisters really have opposite personalities. This girl right here, sometimes she was so timid that you’d think she could break if you touched her. On the other hand, her big sister was a giant pain in the gut to deal with; if she was interested in you, she’d mess around with you until you collapse.
“It was freaking amazing!”
I said so while pulling Ilianne towards me and wrapped her up, nice and warm, in my embrace. She was surprised for a brief second, but immediately relaxed and softly put her arms around my back.
“I’m glad, then . . .”
Ahh, someone please mess with time and stretch this moment to 3000 years for me. I didn’t believe my classmate when he said, dude it’s awesome to hug a girl, but now I do. Though, it may or may not apply when my partner is not Ilianne.
“Aah~ I’m so sorryy~ Looks like I interrupted something~”
“At least pretend to sound apologetic!”
I let go of Ilianne and turned towards the door. Anartia Kingdom’s first princess Julianne Julie Anartia was there, a maid pushing her wheelchair; behind them were the King and the Queen themselves.
“Julia, it’s great to see you’re doing well!”
Julia? Probably her nickname or something.
Ilianne immediately ran up to her sister and hugged her. They had a cheerful sister-talk while I spoke with the King and the Queen. Nothing much, they just expressed their gratitude and promised to compensate me, again. By the way, they still haven’t rewarded me anything for saving their country, just saying.
Nope, just joking. I already received Ilianne, so I didn’t really give a damn. They can either forget about it or actually gift me something, I don’t really care.
“. . .”
Julianne held both her arms in the air towards me. Ordinary people would have a huge question mark floating on top of their head, but I already got used to this so I understood what she was trying to say.
“Haa . . . such a spoiled princess . . .”
I could only sigh as I picked her up from the wheelchair and let her sit on the bed inside my room. Ilianne stared at us as if she saw some wonderful miracles being unfolded before her.
This woman, though . . . you even had a maid with you, at least tell her to do this! Wait, that doesn’t sound manly at all, let me fix that, at least tell your pops to do this for you! He was the one spoiling you rotten, wasn’t he!? Yup, the old man looks exactly like one of those doting parents.
“Oooh! That’s not good, Edward~”
Julianne shot a quick glance at her little sister then turned back to me with an evil smile.
“You don’t seem to be taking good care of Ilia.”
That was probably Ilianne’s nickname. So they call each other Julia and Ilia when at home, huh.
“What do you mean?”
“She even has a Symbol of a Worldly Vow and you’re neglecting her?”
“The hell? I only remember spoiling her rotten.”
“Oh? Is that true?”
When Julia looked at her little sister, Ilia nodded with a red face.
Hah! It was the ultimate truth that during the three days after my fight with Andrew, I spent a lot of time around Ilia and we managed to shrink the distance between us down quite a bit. Without that, I doubt she’d ever dare to boldly kiss me like earlier.
“This woman . . .”
When the Queen saw how the three of us behave together, she laughed to her heart’s content and patted the King’s shoulder as if saying, you can finally rest your mind about our daughters.
I turned to Julia as something suddenly flashed through my mind.
“Hey, let me see your legs.”
“Whoa, calm down. I know I’m single now but I’m not that loose, you know?”
“. . . really?”
“Fine . . .”
Julia rolled up her dress just enough to reveal her snow white and slender legs. I placed one hand on her knee and grasped my Dragonbow with the other. Borrowing the bow’s powers, I circulated my magical power inside the muscles and bones of her legs.
It’s a parasite, was what Dragonbow whispered into my head. It didn’t tell me what kind of parasite was it so I didn’t know the details, but at least the reason behind her disability has come out to the light.
I quietly confirmed with Dragonbow if there was any eavesdropping magic inside the room, then stood up and closed the door. Lowering my voice to a whisper, I told everyone about how a parasite had been possessing princess Julianne’s legs.
“So it’s like that, huh . . . I should’ve known . . .”
The King seemed to have some kind of useful knowledge when he sighed in helplessness.
“Do you know about this parasite thing?”
“In fact, I’m well informed about what kind of existence it is . . .”
That saved me the problem of trying to figure out what hell a parasite was. According to the King, it’s a spiritual life form which feasts on specific life force from unique individuals. It would be a terribly bad news if you had one on you, but at the same time it could also be considered good news since it means you’re somewhat special.
“Hmm . . . is there a cure?”
“Yes, however . . .”
“What kind of absurd thing is needed?”
“True Holy Water.”
Oh, I read about this thing in that Guide to Adventuring book.
True Holy Water can only be found in special streams or rivers that were blessed by a God, or at least a Demigod. Of course, it’s not something you can just go look for it and find one randomly out in the wild. Not even the author of that book came across one during his lifetime despite spending pretty much his whole life travelling around the continent.
“True Holy Water, huh . . .”
I gave it some thoughts then asked myself if I could buy some from The Center. In any case, the problem wouldn’t solve itself if I kept wondering, so I decided to go visit Leah again tonight.
“You see, I’m already used to this, so don’t mind me.”
“Well, if you still want to go on that sightseeing trip, then you’re gonna have to walk on your own feet.”
“. . .”
That was the first time I’ve ever gotten Julia speechless like that, and would probably be the last time. Ugh, what is this feeling of sensing my own defeat in the near future.
After that, Ilia and a maid took care of Julia in the bathroom, they also invited me to dinner, but I kindly refused and excused myself. I let the family have their precious time together, returned to my room, locked the door then transferred to The Center.
“How may I help you today?”
“Do you happen to have a bottle of True Holy Water lying around somewhere?”
“A ha ha . . .”
Upon hearing my question, Leah had a bitter smile on her face.
“We have . . . a few bottles over there.”
She pointed at a specific shelf in the back; it was quite close to where I found my Dragonbow. When I arrived at that shelf, I came to understand Leah’s wry smile.
“Uhh . . .”
There were loads of them. On top of that, there was also a sign hanging on the shelf saying, clearance – 75% sale off. And the price for a bottle of True Holy Water was 5 Exchange Points, in other words, dirt cheap.
“You see, recently, the Gods have been opening up more to mortals and bestowed upon Churches their own source of Holy Water . . . thus nobody ever came here to buy separate bottles like this anymore.”
When I turned around, Leah had already stood right next to me, staring at the mountain of Holy Water bottles.
“Wait, wouldn’t that make it easier for people to gain access to Holy Water? They just need to go to the Church and ask for some, don’t they?”
“Well, in Sintra, the headquarter of the Holy Church is within the Holy Empire of Siberius, and they pass down very little Holy Water every year to branch churches. In order to take care of that parasite on the princess’ legs, you’d need at least a full bucket of it. I doubt they’d give you that much . . .”
“I see now . . . oh by the way!”
“What attracted the parasite? It being there means her body has some unique features, no?”
“Correct. Princess Julianne’s constitution is something called The Curse of the Demigod of Vision.”