Lucia panted as she looked at the corpses lying next to her. She leaned on Nier’s back with her dagger in her grip. In a loud voice, she exclaimed, “What are these things?!”
Nier watched her surroundings vigilantly. The two of them were standing on the tilted ship. Next to them were wet corpses. Specifically, they were the dead people washed up to the boat. Fortunately, they were no different to human beings and were no match for Lucia and Nier. However, they dealt a big mental blow to Lucia, because she worried His Highness would be among them; hence, she didn’t dare to strike them down. Nier was initially afraid of causing accidental injuries, but the two of them were soon pushed to the edge. As a consequence, they had no choice, but to cut their attackers down.
Their initial thought was, “His Highness wouldn’t attack us even if he turned into one of them.” Alas, they ended up cutting down dozens of people. The fortunate part was that, while the ship had been flipped into the water, it hadn’t completely sunk. The two of them lived on the tilted ship the last few days, albeit it being a struggle. There was still a fair bit of food remaining on the ship. At night, they slept holding each other in order to keep each other safe as well as keeping warm.
Lucia’s combat skills were very poor late at night. She, therefore, had to rely on Nier to protect her. Their roles were reversed during the day, with Nier resting and Lucia taking responsibility for keeping them safe. The two girls in a relationship akin to fire and water demonstrated impressive chemistry and unity when they were faced with the perilous predicament. Although they never spoke much, the two of them displayed close friendship and unspoken understanding.
Nier lowered her sword and replied, “We don’t need to concern ourselves with what they are. That said, I’m getting sick of them raiding us every night. They’re definitely not from the surface. It might be an issue with the ocean water. They only turned after they drowned.”
“Don’t blame it on the ocean water! Did you forget that we swam in the water?!”
“Okay, okay, it’s not the water,” responded Nier, as she scratched her head. “That means they turned into this state after they drowned. Lucia, we’ve killed a good number, haven’t we? Have you seen His Majesty?”
“No. His Highness’s clothes shouldn’t change. I haven’t seen anybody who resembles him among the ones I’ve killed, either. I’ve always been by His Highness’s side, so I’m familiar with every part of his body. It’s impossible for me to misjudge.”
“Same with me. In other words, His Majesty is all right; he’s definitely still alive despite whatever happened to him,” stated Nier, sheathing her sword. “His Majesty is still alive; that’s good news. We just need to wait for the rescue fleet to arrive, and then search for him. My concern is how much he is suffering right now. He must be alone on some desolate island or floating on a plank somewhere, starving and freezing…”
“Stop… Please don’t make me imagine how pitiful he currently is, okay? I want to jump into the water to search for him as it is!” exclaimed Lucia, tears welling up in her eyes.
Nier bit down on her bottom lip. In a solemn tone, she said, “We will definitely save His Majesty. His Majesty’s predicament won’t last for long. We will definitely save him and bring him to our side where it is blissful!”
In reality, my predicament wasn’t as tragic as they imagined. Rather, I was quite happy… My two wives eventually found out I was admiring flowers under Ying’s care while they were on a ship that could sink at any moment, wondering if there’d still be food for tomorrow and worrying about monsters attacking. They didn’t talk to me for an entire day once they found out.
Ying woke me up again with her voice when the sun came up. I saw a scene of Ying standing under the tree in my dreams last night. I saw her beautiful silhouette underneath cherry blossoms flying about. It was supposed to be a beautiful scene; she was supposed to be expressionless, yet I had the impression she was actually drowning in misery for the first time.
“Is it because of the environment or is it me who feels sad? She appeared to be her usual self. Why was she so sad that I almost shed tears for her? Is it Ying who’s sad, was it me, or was it the sky littered with flower petals that was sad?” I wondered to myself.
I didn’t have anything to think about when I saw the scene in my dreams. I just happened to dream of that scene. I didn’t have spare energy to ponder it – not that I needed to in front of such a beautiful scene. Eyes on Ying’s back, I yawned. I said, “Good morning.”
Ying turned around and bowed” “Good morning. You’re looking much better today. The medicine has worked as expected. See if you can sit up.”
I used the ground as support to slowly move my body. It felt as though all of the components of my body began to reboot. My joints creaked as I slowly sat up. My chest was still in a bit of pain, but it wasn’t as intense. It was merely a lingering pain. I could slowly straighten up my back and sit up now. I let out a breath of relief.
Ying didn’t look consoled even though she saw me, who was practically her patient, finally sit up. I hadn’t seen a second expression from her in three days. She kept her cold expression the entire time. She suggested, “Very good. Since you don’t have anything you have to do today, stay here for another day. That way, your body will recover better.”
I nodded: “All right. I shall lie here in peace for today, then. I’ll be able to stand up tomorrow, right?”
“That’s right,” answered Ying. “However, even if you’re able to stand up tomorrow, that doesn’t mean you can walk around however you please. Obviously, you need to consume different medicines to completely recover.”
“I’m truly very thankful, Ying. Thank you so much for taking care of me and spending your medicine on me. If you want money, I can give you everything on me. I just want to express my gratitude. I don’t have anything else I can give you. This is my way of thanking you.”
“You don’t need to pay me.” Ying shook her head. She wasn’t angry or annoyed; she remained calm as per usual.
“Oh, right… My money would be useless to you… I can give you gold and silver if you prefer, except I’ll have to wait for rescue to arrive before I can pay you.”
“I don’t need those things,” replied Ying, with a head shake. She turned around to continue sweeping the flower petals: “If you really want to thank me, go into the village two days later, and help me buy some stuff. If you want to thank me, just go shopping for me every day after. I can’t leave the shrine. Normally, somebody will send me things every month, but I didn’t have enough resources after you arrived.”
“Sure.” I asked, “Why can’t you go to the village?”
“Because I need to protect this village.”
“Why can’t you go, then?”
“I told you; I need to protect this village,” answered Ying, keeping her head down as she swept the ground.
I figured she wouldn’t give a different response no matter how I posed the question; that was her answer. Nevertheless, it was just a spell of confusion to me. Maybe it was because she had to stay in the shrine in order to protect the village below, though I wondered how reasonable that was. Whatever the case may be, I was glad I could recover. I could gradually get to know Ying better.