“Does it hurt?”
The ankle, which now had a hue beyond purple, looked so serious that just seeing it made one’s forehead naturally furrow.
Of course, it must hurt. Gia picked up the ointment that was next to her.
Anyway, Kalion’s response would probably be obvious without asking. Like a parrot, he would say, ‘I’m fine.’
If you touch it wrong, it looks like it might burst.
Gia, who saw Kalion’s swollen ankle, frowned involuntarily. It must be a bone injury. If only she had her bag.
Looking at Kalion’s wound, Gia’s bag, which had fallen off the cliff, became desperately missed.
“Yeah. Of course, you must be fine… right?”
Gia suddenly lifted her head, locking eyes with Kalion. It was unexpected for Kalion to say it hurt, and Gia widened her eyes.
“Uh, um… Of course, it must hurt.”
Gia hurriedly spread the ointment gently. She hopes it works. She doesn’t know how advanced the medicine in this world is, but whatever works, as long as Kalion doesn’t hurt.
“You must have endured a lot to bear it so well.”
For Kalion, who couldn’t regenerate like Gia, enduring pain must have been frightening. Facing the possibility of physical damage, even death, knowing it but still choosing to confront it—it was something that could be overcome only by surpassing fear.
Gia furrowed her nose at what she could do for Kalion, who had endured silently without saying it hurt.
“Are you okay? Are you not in pain?”
Kalion, who still didn’t know that Gia’s body regenerated, looked at Gia with concern. Maybe she should have said it back then. Maybe she’s worrying unnecessarily.
Gia bit her lip and then lowered her eyes.
If she regenerates here, how much of a monster would they see her as? Just from seeing Morrison today, they might already think she’s not human. The ability to freely transform the body, not dying, and the power to tame an incredible dragon.
Would she be considered a different species? Gia was afraid of that.
At first, she didn’t say anything because there was no need to mention it. But when the second chance came, should she have talked about regeneration? No, perhaps it was fortunate that she didn’t.
What should she say? Should she hide it from Kalion, who is looking at her intently until the end?
Gia lowered her eyes, touching Kalion’s leg, lost in thought.
Perhaps it would be better not to say anything. Even though Kalion resonates and is just, seeing Morrison may have changed his thoughts.
“Yeah… I’m fine. Um…”
Gia hesitated, looking at Kalion sitting in front of her.
“If it’s difficult to talk, you don’t have to. It’s enough if you’re okay.”
Kalion, with lips that kept opening and closing, looked at Gia and nodded, indicating that he was okay.
“I didn’t mean to trouble you.”
Gia’s red eyes settled down gently. Despite knowing that staring was impolite, Gia couldn’t look away. Kalion was a person overflowing with kindness and consideration in many ways.
Gia quickly wrapped the bandage, hoping that the bones were not injured.
She is concerned about Kalion, who held a sword and had to survive. The medical standards here didn’t seem as high as where Gia used to live. What if he can’t use his leg permanently? Gia’s worries escalated as she continued to imagine the worst.
“Is there any other place injured?”
Before Kalion could answer, Gia’s hands moved first. Passing through the tightly wrapped leg, Gia’s hands and eyes wandered around Kalion’s body. His handsome face… Gia’s heart was filled with sadness at the scars left on his face.
Gia’s eyes drooped sadly as she noticed the scratched-up face of Kalion.
Gia thought Kalion would reject, but he suddenly extended his wrist.
“Ah… it must hurt. Did it hurt?”
Kalion immediately acknowledged and admitted it. His wrist, like the ankle, was severely swollen.
‘Morrison, that crazy bastard.’
Anger bubbled up as Gia saw Kalion’s wounds. A warm breeze flowed from the rounded lips.
Even though she knew it wouldn’t help, she couldn’t help but blow the wind, hoping it would hurt a little less.
“Let’s go down quickly.”
Any further delay could worsen not only Kalion’s condition but also that of the other members. Still, it seemed faster to go down than to go up relative to their current position.
Kalion silently observed Gia, who carefully wrapped his wrist, supporting it with a splint. The deaths of the comrades, not to mention the death of the deputy commander Rockt, pained Kalion’s heart, but strangely, finding Gia alive ahead brought comfort.
Was he this kind of person? He thought he treated everyone fairly and justly. It was all his delusion. He can’t deceive his feelings.
What if the dead man had been Gia? Kalion felt a vigorous heat rise from below as if the mere thought of it were enough to break his gut.
Gia, who was wrapping his wrists as if he were in more pain than she was, leaned forward and her hair, which resembled the night sky, spilled over towards Kalion.
Seeing the bluntly cut hair, Kalion’s hand moved first, reaching and gently touching the ends of the shortened hair.
“Huh? Why? Oh… this. It’s okay. It’ll grow back soon.”
Gia replied nonchalantly as she stroked the roughly cut hair ends. However, Kalion’s attention was completely on her battered wrist.
How can he make it hurt less? Gia’s eyes were careful as she applied ointment.
Kalion, leaning against the tree, moved his fingertips slowly, savoring the sensation. Gia, situated between Kalion’s legs, leaned further towards his chest.
Kalion, with his body seemingly about to collapse into Gia’s embrace, looked down at her round forehead, illuminated by the moonlight, as she inspected his wounds.
Despite the injuries, Kalion’s arm couldn’t move, and it seemed severe. Yet, Gia was moving her arm freely as if nothing happened.
‘What is your true identity?’
Doubts crept naturally into Kalion’s mind.
Was the enhanced human Gia mentioned just strong, or was there more to it? Kalion’s sharp intuition suggested otherwise.
Reason urged him to understand her identity as the commander of the knights protecting the empire, but he didn’t feel inclined to do so. His desire not to see her in distress overwhelmed any sense of duty.
Sighing quietly, Kalion breathed in and out secretly. To quell the rising doubts, he ran his fingers through Gia’s hair.
‘Why am I like this?’
Kalion, who had never strayed from the framework of justice in his life, found his emotions entangled and complicated. The strange woman who appeared one day had even made Kalion himself feel strange. But oddly enough, he didn’t dislike it.
As Kalion continued to touch the hair he found comforting, he eventually sorted out the conflicting thoughts of reason and emotion.
Suppressing reason and lifting the hand of emotion, Kalion looked down at Gia with a serene expression.
‘Truly… a strange woman.’
For him, the only way to describe Gia’s existence was with the word “strange.”
* * *
Spencer’s breaths came out in rapid bursts, squeezing out his lungs.
‘I can’t stop.’
For the sake of his fallen comrades.
As memories of his comrades flashed before his eyes, a hazy curtain veiled his vision.
Charlie’s final scream as he fell, trying to avoid the dragon but getting caught by its sharp claws underneath. Luca, whose limbs were severed by the dragon’s claws while trying to escape.
They had lost countless comrades. And now, they might lose the remaining ones.
Still, Spencer had to make his way down the mountain.
He has to complete the mission. Only then will the sacrifices of his comrades be worthwhile. Despite knowing this all too well, it was difficult to suppress the bursting sobs.
His trembling legs, exhausted from the sprint, felt like jelly, and his breath caught in his throat as if sharp hooks were tearing at it. But more than the physical pain, overwhelming sadness, despair, and regret consumed his body.
‘I will definitely succeed.’
On the path where he had come with his comrades, Spencer was now alone.
He probably won’t be able to see Gia again. It felt like traversing a lonely path after leaving the one who saved his life. One had to repay a favor no matter what.
Although Spencer’s body kept moving forward incessantly, his heart still seemed to be left behind in the cave. The distance between his mind and body was growing, widening with every step.
Wiping away the streaming tears roughly, Spencer, who had been running forward like a bird taking flight, tripped over a protruding rock.
With a loud sound, he tumbled down the steep slope several times and groans escaped from Spencer’s mouth as he finally rolled down to the rocky path below.
“Ugh, no, please!”
Although securely tied, the dragon’s heart, which had been bound with his cloak, rolled away as Spencer tumbled. It made a loud sound as it descended, causing Spencer’s agony.
Despite the excruciating pain that felt like his knees were shattering, that wasn’t the most important thing. Even as Spencer continued to roll, he reached out to grab the cloak.
As Spencer descended, his body became a mess. His body was covered in blood, seemingly broken in various places, but Spencer didn’t give up.
Finally, grasping the edge of the cloak, Spencer’s face was already soaked in sweat. One hand held the tree trunk, and the other tightly gripped the cloak.
Blood seeped into the fingers that were inserted into the tree trunk. Although his rolling body had stopped, another worry surfaced. What if the heart inside was damaged?
Not knowing about dragon hearts, Spencer, overcome with fear, slowly untied the cloak, tears streaming down his face.
Soon, as the cloak unfolded, the heart inside came into view.
A gasp of disbelief escaped from Spencer’s mouth at the sight of the exposed heart.