Side Story: Sarah and Iria ②

Having returned to Melte Village with Priestess Sarah aboard the Clau Soras, I brought, as usual, a large quantity of antidotes, stamina recovery potions, holy water, and similar items.

It took quite an effort to gather all these medicines in Ishka, which still bears the scars of the Hydra and the Stampede of magical beasts. I hope they can be used as effectively as possible.

The generous offerings I made during my previous visit were intended to gain the villagers’ trust, but this time, they served more as an apology to the residents of Melte.

When I took Priestess Sarah and the others out of the village, I claimed it was to “protect Ishka from the magical beasts’ Stampede.” However, my true intention was to save only those I wanted to help. In other words, I abandoned the other villagers. This was my way of atoning for it.

To be honest, I have no obligation to protect Melte, so I shouldn’t be blamed for abandoning it. However, I have to conceal such true feelings in front of Priestess Sarah.

Well, I’ve already told the truth to Priestess Sarah and Iria, so they probably see right through me, but I should still show them that I haven’t forgotten to follow up with those I abandoned.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the Roar unleashed by the Hydra seemed to resonate all the way to this area, making it quite troublesome to field questions about it from Larz, who remained in the village.

It seems that the information about the Hydra and the Stampede of magical beasts had been greatly exaggerated by the people who fled from Ishka, causing a minor panic in the southern part of Canaria.

Indeed, the messengers of the Canaria Kingdom prioritized relaying that the Stampede of magical beasts had ended, but their message was limited to: “The Stampede has ended. Details will follow. It would be difficult to dispel anxiety with just this message.

Well, Ishka itself hasn’t completely recovered from the chaos yet, so it’s inevitable that the people in the distant Melte Village are worried about the possibility of a swarm of monsters attacking them the next day.

Some villagers, including Iria, contracted an incurable poison. Priestess Sarah, whom they would normally rely on in such times, was taken away from the village by me. There isn’t a single factor that could alleviate their anxiety. Considering this, my actions may have been quite fatal to the people of Melte.

When I informed them of the slaying of the Hydra, the details of the end of the Stampede, the fact that there is no need to worry about the incurable poison as I brought antidotes this time, and that they don’t need to pay for the medicines, the village chief and the villagers were very grateful, but it felt somewhat uncomfortable.

Anyway, I’ve conveyed what needed to be conveyed. The reason I didn’t mention my nickname, “Dragon Slayer” or “Fake Dragon Slayer,” was because I could see that it would become even more troublesome, especially with someone like Larz.

Sooner or later, it will spread as a rumor, but by that time, I won’t be in Melte, so it doesn’t matter. As a humble person who modestly keeps their achievements to themselves, I’ll expect them to glorify me on their own.

And now, I’m at the graveyard on the outskirts of the village. Since I couldn’t see Priestess Sarah, I thought she might be here and came to check. You could also say I escaped from the persistent village chief and others who wanted to talk to me.

There, I saw Priestess Sarah standing in front of a grave, bowing her head and putting her hands together in prayer.

I quickly realized that the grave belonged to her deceased husband, Iria’s father. I didn’t intend to disturb her prayer, so I was about to turn back immediately – but I couldn’t do that, as the sight of Priestess Sarah offering her prayer wholeheartedly was simply too beautiful.

The scene was serene, sacred, and yet warm. It may sound exaggerated to call it a picture-perfect painting, but that’s what it was to me.

How much Sarah loved her husband, and still loves him now, was conveyed more clearly than a thousand or ten thousand words could express.

Before I knew it, I was silently captivated. After a slight delay, a massive surge of emotions welled up from deep within my chest.

At first, it was jealousy. Envy towards a person who is still so loved by Priestess Sarah, even after more than ten years have passed since his death.

But that emotion quickly washed away, and what captured me instead was admiration. If I could have a marriage like theirs, what a blissful life it would be, I thought.

The ideal I had tried to build with my childhood betrothed was right here. That’s what I thought.

Thinking that, I bitterly smiled, my lips curling in a twisted way.

I was surprised that such emotions – or perhaps sentiments – still lingered within me.

No, I was certainly aware that I harbored feelings towards Priestess Sarah that were different from lust or soul-consuming desires.

The emotions I have for Priestess Sarah are probably similar to the ones I had for Ayaka when I was a child. While I was raging about revenge and pretense, I longed for such a scene deep down.

It made me widen my eyes in surprise at my own thoughts. People don’t really understand themselves well – or so I thought.

“No, maybe that’s not true.”

I muttered softly, making sure Priestess Sarah couldn’t hear me.

Just a moment ago, I admired the bond between Sarah and her husband. Admiration, in essence, is a longing for something that is out of reach. Well, look at that, I do understand myself quite well after all.

With an intentionally sarcastic smile, I looked at Priestess Sarah again.

As always, I found her beautiful.

If I wanted to make her mine, I’m sure I could. I saved Iria’s life, and I’ve done more for the village of Melte than they could ever repay.

If I asked Sarah to pay her debt, she probably wouldn’t be able to refuse. If I told her to repay my kindness, she likely would.

I could use the village chief and others to fill in the moat, make her the legitimate wife of a Dragon Knight who even Duke Dragnot respects, and perhaps one day steal her heart away from her deceased husband.

There is definitely a part of me that wants to do this. In fact, it’s true that I’ve been making moves for this purpose, albeit disguised as jokes.

However, if I were to do that, I would undoubtedly lose the heart that finds this scene beautiful. I realized that.

―― That would surely be very boring.

I naturally think so.

I let out a breath, with a “huh.” As I watched the priestess’s back, I breathed deeply and slowly to let go of everything I had been holding onto.

Once that was over, I quietly turned on my heels, making sure not to disturb the conversation between Sarah and her husband.

Strangely, my footsteps felt lighter.

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