How did it come to this? Ferdia made a strange face at the sound of his calling her. Catching her curious expression, Erev let a small smile creep onto his lips.
“You know how to pull off that intriguing look?”
“W-what did you just say?”
“You know how to pull off that intriguing look?”
“No, not that!!”
Ferdia exclaimed in desperation, to which Erev nonchalantly took a vial from the box and offered it to her. She glanced at the vial presented to her and then averted her eyes. Erev spoke in a relaxed tone.
“What’s got you so flustered? I just don’t like long names.”
Still how could he affectionately call her ‘Ferdi’. Ferdia rolled her eyes, peering into his dark ones and then narrowing hers slightly.
“What’s your original eye color? Weren’t your eyes red before?”
At Ferdia’s mention, Erev rolled his eyes and smirked. His black eyes seemingly scanned Ferdia before they quickly turned a deep crimson. Simultaneously, his aura became intensely ferocious. His menacing momentum made the atmosphere so tense it was chilling. As Ferdia flinched, he closed his eyes.
“It’s a trait of the Grecia family.”
“…A family trait?”
“You sure are curious. We have plenty of time, so let’s treat you first? I’d rather not have a lengthy chat with someone who looks hurt.”
He pointed at the shimmering vial with his finger, tilting his chin.
“External injuries I can treat fairly easily, but for internal ones, you’ll need to drink the medicine.”
He extended his arm, reaching for her leg. “Pardon me,” he said, simultaneously gripping her calf. His large hand moved, massaging the muscles and tendons of her calf. Startled by his sudden action, she tried to pull away but lacked the strength, leaving her leg hanging in his grip.
“Don’t move. If you do, I can’t treat you.”
Treatment? At his voice, Ferdia stopped her struggling, tilting her head slightly downward. His beautiful blonde hair shimmered. The warmth from his fingers, gently easing the muscles and caressing the tendons, felt comforting.
The scent of peppermint leaves wafting from him softly tickled her nose. Ferdia lowered her gaze, observing his fingers tenderly handling her calf. It was such a delicate touch.
It was hard to believe that this was the same man who, with a sword of desire, tore through others before finally succumbing her. The aura now was softer than when they had met on the battlefield, and his facial expressions seemed more free.
“Drink. I’ve finished applying.”
As his voice pulled Ferdia out of her reverie and she looked puzzled, his eyes darted to the vial in her hand. Noticing his gaze, Ferdia nodded slowly, unscrewing the cap. As she sipped the medicine, an unbearably bitter taste twisted her face.
“Oh, right. It’s super bitter. Make sure to drink slowly.”
Could you have mentioned that earlier, you jerk? Ferdia struggled to swallow the medicine, its taste so bitter it felt sinful on her tongue. Stranely enough, she could even distinctly feel it traveling down her throat.
Muttering under her breath, she finished off the medicine and placed the empty bottle on the table.
“One more bottle.”
“Recommended dosage for adults is two bottles.”
Is this some kind of nutritional supplement? Her face soured.
One might suspect that he actually called her just to torture her, given the numerous medicines and potions he poured out. Despite the agonizing process, astonishingly, Ferdia’s condition dramatically improved.
Even with conventional treatment, the injuries and internal wounds she had would’ve taken at least two months to fully heal. Yet the potency of the medicine Erev pushed into her mouth and the ointments he gave her for her hands and feet surpassed imagination.
It was only logical for Ferdia, who was back to her usual self in just two hours under Erev’s care, to gaze in amazement at her own hands and feet. Erev, noticing her condition, gave a satisfied smile, then shut the box he had.
Snapping back at the sound of the closing box, Ferdia met his deep black eyes. Picking up the box, Erev rose from his seat, placed it back in its original spot, then returned to his seat and inquired,
“Is there anywhere else you feel uncomfortable?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Any symptoms like feeling queasy, lack of strength in your hands, or difficulty manipulating mana?”
She shook her head. Erev nodded, settled into his chair, leaned his head back lazily against the headrest, and slightly closed his eyes. Ferdia blankly stared at the suddenly relaxed man.
‘What the hell?’
She couldn’t make sense of the situation.
Just moments ago, she had been locked in an underground dungeon, praying for a swift and painless end. At her trial, she had hoped they’d grant her a merciful death. When they instead spoke of cruel punishment, her world had seemed to crumble.
To think she’d face a horrible demise, different even from the ending of this damned novel she found herself in. She desperately wanted to refuse it, but here, she was the criminal. She had no one to save her. Her country had fallen, and Ferdia was forsaken. There was no one left for her to lean on.
Yet, after the abrupt end to her trial, she was brought here. The man who had defeated her was now putting all his effort into healing her, and now he sat back, eyes closed in relaxation. He looked so at ease, it was hard to believe he was the same harbinger who stared her down on the battlefield with crimson eyes and an emotionless voice.
Moreover, Ferdia was a knight. A damn good one at that. The Empire, fearful of her prowess, had first cut the tendons in her legs when they captured her. Then they weakened her with meager meals, ensuring she couldn’t resist in any way.
But now, here was this man who had treated her with great care, sitting with his eyes calmly closed, despite her being at full strength. He looked as vulnerable as someone who had fallen asleep with their head in the maw of a beast.
He was full of openings. The urge to strike and take him down surged within her. Yet, she hesitated.
“…Why did you heal me?”
That was the pressing matter. She looked at him, her eyes filled with suspicion. Why?
Was it a new form of torture? Hadn’t they intended to kill her? Were they planning to kill her after spending so much on her treatment? Or was there some bizarre game at play?
Ferdia bit her lip, her mind swirling with these rampant thoughts. She wanted his response.
“Are you not satisfied?”
His crimson lips parted, his voice emerging even as his eyes remained shut. Ferdia shook her head.
“It’s not that. But weren’t you going to kill me anyway? What’s the point of healing someone just to kill them later? And did you consider what I might do once I’m well again? What if I cause chaos?”
As soon as she opened her mouth, she couldn’t help but unleash her flurry of questions, each ending with an implied question mark. Even though the situation, was absurd she demanded clarity.
About what her future held?
His eyelids lifted, revealing dark eyes. He gazed intently at Ferdia before speaking.
“Can you quit with the cutesy nicknames?”
“We have a lot of time on our hands. No harm in getting a bit familiar, right?”
A hint of a grimace flashed across Ferdia’s face.
He was smiling.
“Instead of being so formal, call me Erev or Rev… or whatever else comes to mind. Just call me whatever’s comfortable.”
So this is what it feels like to be so taken aback that you’re rendered speechless. His way of speaking was certainly… unique. It felt as if he was having a conversation with himself.
As she spoke, he leaned closer and closer without her noticing, his face now was inches away from hers. The cool scent of peppermint gently pricked her nose.
“It would be nice if you called me that…”
His lips moved upwards into a smile.
Still not over the surprise from his unexpected friendliness, and not quite over her shock of him calling her with an affectionate nickname, she raised her hands in surrender when she was now faced with his request to call him by his name.
“That sure sounds good to hear.”
He leaned back again, closing his eyes. Ferdia watched him intently, her lips pressed tightly together, trying not to get too wrapped up in his relaxed demeanor.
“I know you have a lot of questions, but I can’t just answer them right away.”
“It’s about intent.”
“Your intent. Your opinion. Your judgment. Your viewpoint. Your perspective. Your thoughts. And…”
He opened his eyes.
“…What are you trying to say?”
“I want to give you a choice.”
He nodded slowly in response to Ferdia’s question, lifting his torso. Facing her blank stare, he slowly parted his lips.
“How about it? Do you want to die?”