The girl’s breathing sounds labored as she lies on top of her bed, clearly affected by some particularly malicious curse. That certainly explains the presence I felt earlier; it must have been the curse that made it feel the way it did.
“Huh…? Big brother…?”
The girl’s eyes flutter open ever so slightly, even as she continues her struggle for air. Sorglos and I must have inadvertently woken the poor girl when we entered her room. Lucille, now obviously panicked, rushed to the girl’s bedside.
“Are you alright?! I’m so sorry; we’ll get out in a second.”
“It’s fine… honestly. Oh? Who are they…?”
The girl – whom we now know as Lucika – responds to Lucille’s concerns with a smile that takes some effort to form. I can’t help but notice how much they look like a regular old chummy pair of siblings, at least at first glance. What really throws the whole scene off is the way the girl sweats, with a thick sheet of perspiration clinging to her face despite there being no notable rise in temperature.
Seeing the bewildered look in her eyes as she takes notice of us, I decide to move closer to her. Then, making sure that my smile comes off as even more pleasant than usual, I initiate the conversation.
“Oh? Is that really true…?”
Taking certain liberties with the truth, I tell her that I’m a doctor. Lucika looks at me with wide eyes while her brother does that same, more out of shock than anything else.
Knowing full well that I won’t be getting anywhere if Lucille decides to expose the truth, I exchange a brief glance with Sorglos. She, quick on the uptake as always, notices what I’m trying to do and nods in confirmation.
“Sir Lucille, over here.”
“Whoa! What’re you doing?!”
Sorglos pulls Lucille away. I decide to finish this up while she’s busy explaining the situation to him.
Taking note of the uneasy expression creeping into Lucika’s features, not unwarranted since we just pulled her brother away from her, I give her a smile and engage her. Once I’m done explaining to her that it was Lucille who brought us along so that we could have a better perspective of her situation, she gives me the kind of smile you would only see on someone more attuned to the bigger picture, more perceptive of what lies ahead. It’s definitely not a smile any girl her age should be capable of.
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“Well, if my brother brought you here, then that’s alright… But it won’t make much difference if you do take a look, would it? You’re not the first doctor he brought in here, and every one of them says I can’t be cured…”
I see. So Lucille’s already been running around, looking for any way to help her. While he hasn’t quite told me what it is he wants from me; there’s no doubt whatsoever that it concerns Lucika. But before I can address that, I have to do something about this girl. The way she smiles shows me just how defeated she really is.
“…Are you sure?’
I lie to her again, this time reassuring her that I’m quite the skilled physician. When I tell her that there’s no need for worry and that she should just leave everything to me, she actually chuckles a little in amusement.
The defeat in her eyes, however, doesn’t turn even one shade brighter. Well… I suppose actions should get me further than plain old words.
“Hey… So, that lady just told me everything, but are you sure you can do this?”
“Watch your tone!”
Lucille’s question, though drenched with worry, doesn’t stop Sorglos from getting so angry she completely forgets about her usual verbal tick. I, on the other hand, simply assure him that things will work out just fine, and that he shouldn’t fret too much.
“Please, go ahead…”
When I tell Lucika that I’m about to start my inspection, she gives a slight nod and closes her eyes. Placing my hand on a head as red as her brother’s, I begin searching deep within her body.
After a fairly brief period of continued searching, I can clearly sense the sheer strength of the curse gnawing away at the poor girl. Though it’s already powerful enough for me to have sensed it before even beginning the procedure, being this thorough with my inspection should elucidate just how fiendish of a curse it actually is.
Well… This curse is…
I focus on diluting my magic, making it as thin as it has to be to keep Lucika from being startled and let the result seep into her body.
“Lucika?! Hey, what do you think you’re–?”
Seeing Lucika’s eyes snap wide open and focus on me, Lucille, perhaps assuming that I did something unscrupulous to his sister, immediately thunders towards me, only for the familiar ninja-garbed figure of Sorglos to stand in front of him and block his path.
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The look she gives him doesn’t even remotely compare to its usual warmth whenever she converses with yours truly, instead exuding an arctic cold. It’s more than enough to stop the boy in his tracks. I do hope he doesn’t misunderstand things too much, though. I haven’t got the slightest intention of harming his sister.
“I’m fine, big brother. I feel so much better when the doctor puts his hand on my head…”
She looks her brother’s way with a gentle smile. The sweat that’s been adhering firmly to her face up until this point visible recedes, and colour blooms in her pallid skin.
“Thank you so much, Doctor…”
I spend a little more time letting my magic flow into Lucika’s body before she finally falls into a peaceful slumber. My efforts have pushed the curse’s worst effects back, allowing her freedom from the pain and suffering that she must have been under for some time.
“I… I haven’t seen Lucika sleep this well in ages. Wait, are you really a doctor?”
The question comes while Lucille lovingly places his sister’s hand in his own.
Oh, no. I’m no real doctor; I’m just your everyday, run-of-the-mill adventurer.
“That he may indeed be, but one with enough power to overwhelm any other adventurer, truly.”
Sorglos puffs out her chest, complete assured of her statement for reasons I can’t comprehend. Not that I mind, of course, but I also don’t understand how she can say all of that with such genuine boastfulness.
Ignoring that, I explain to Lucille just what it is that I just did to his sister. It’s a fairly simple procedure, one that involves nothing more than letting magic flow through her body.
“What? And that’s all she needed to find her peace? None of the other doctors even tried something like that… Wait, are you telling me they just scammed us?!”
Rage forms on the boy’s face, growing stronger and stronger. So does his voice for that matter, but the second he remembers whose bedroom he’s standing in he slaps a hand over his mouth.
He really does care about her, doesn’t he? That is genuinely moving. Well, I suppose it’s better to get out of this room first. We can talk more nearby.
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Sorglos, Lucille, and I finally exit Lucika’s bedroom, then immediately make our way to the next room where all the other guild members are still waiting for us. They were all busy talking to each other, gathered around a fairly beaten-up… I mean, a fairly antique table.
Before anything else, I give them a concise briefing of everything I just did, explaining that I let my magic seep into the girl’s body in order to mitigate the effects of the curse.
“Can’t you fix it completely?”
I shake my head at Lucille’s inquiry. Unfortunate though it is, I have no way of completely banishing this curse’s power.
If I do pump the amount of magic required to cure the curse into Lucika, it’s very unlikely that her body can cope with the sheer power. Of course, if she just so happened to be a member of Yelquchira, then that wouldn’t be an issue…
Although I think that Anat might have the means to cure her properly. Then again… Anat’s away on another mission right now. I can’t just call for her right away.
“Still, nobody here thought that curse could even be mitigated. You have my sincerest thanks, as the guild master.”
Though Lucille is rightfully despondent, Apollo is quick to lower his head my way in gratitude. There’s really no need for that. After all, it’s not like I cured her. Although, what I did should keep her from feeling any pain or discomfort for a good while.
“…Thank you so much.”
Lucille bobs his head in a quick bow. Like I said, there’s no need for that around me. But why don’t you people tell me exactly what happened?
What is it you wanted our help for, exactly? Well… I can already guess that it’s going to involve Lucika in some capacity, but still.
“Well… There’s actually this commission we want you to take on with us, see?”
“Show some respect…”
A commission? I tilt my head to the side, not fully clear on what Apollo just said.
Also… Sorglos? That’s enough of that. He doesn’t have to speak with ‘respect,’ alright? Stop that, don’t try to take out your kunai, not with that creepy look in your eyes.
Lucille is the first to respond to my confusion.
“Yeah, that’s right. We’re supposed to collect something. It’s this remedy that’s supposed to heal any wound, no matter how major, and any disease, even the ones that the best doctors can’t fix. They call it ‘Elixir.’”