Snow dancing in the Flames of War
My throat hurts.
Breathing is painful.
I don't have enough oxygen.
And if that wasn't enough, because of that I'm probably wasting breath to boot.
Feels like hyperventilation.
When doing strenuous activity for a long time, there comes a point where how you breathe out becomes important.
And currently I don't have the specs to run long distance to begin with.
It's pointless if I can't fight when I reach the city.
On the other hand——if I'm too late, it's pointless too.
So I desperately ran towards the town, going up in a blaze of fire.
"Hah, ha, ha..."
After reaching the gates, I stopped, supporting myself on my knees.
I was very well aware suddenly stopping like that is not good for myself, but I abided my screaming body which didn't want to move another step.
Crisis or not, I was at my limit.
"... no matter how much time passes, no matter where one goes, it ends up like this," Till muttered lonelily and let go of my hand.
"Wheeze, wheeze... Till?"
I felt like dying already, but Till only looked at me like some insect.
You're crushing my heart!
"Weakling. Come after taking a breaking. After this is over, I will drill thee until thou wish thou were dead."
I tried to call her to a stop, but Till only laid a finger on my mouth.
"One is not so weak to be worried about by one's disciple. Even if one retired long ago. Rest a bit before thou come. Is that well?"
With those words, Till ran through the air into town.
"Ha, ha... disciple?"
No, more importantly this endurance...
In an emergency, I cannot do anything with it!
Heal... would be pointless, wouldn't it.
Oh well, I can only remain here until I've caught enough breath to be able to walk again.
What's with this weakness, I'm not the world's strongest at all!
I allocated my Attributes and Skills as I saw fit, but putting that to use, or not, depends on me now.
But this body's unreliability pisses me off!
"O... kay... I'm fine..."
While breathing with heaving shoulders, I put one foot before the other.
I have to, protect Aunty.
In place of, Shion-san and Uncle—————
For a while even.
But after entering the town, that imagination changed into certainty.
The blood and the screams, the smell of burning buildings and "somethings" brought be to the edge of puking.
Robbing, killing, burning.
Is this something people are doing!!?
Cutting across the main street, I hurried home.
So far, I hadn't run into a bandit since entering the city.
There were some ice-encased corpses looking like bandits lying around, but it went without thinking who was behind those.
Whipping my screaming body forward, I hurried home.
Like that, I finally arrived.
It wasn't burning... but the door was open!
The anxiety almost crushed me.
My reasoning came up with all the bad scenarios.
I basically jumped inside—————
There were two people.
In the living room where I'd always laughed with Shion-san, Uncle and Aunty, in the living room where we'd bantered, there were two people.
One was a bandit in boorish clothes with a blood-stained... those round swords, a scimitar?
Anyway, he had a blood-stained weapon in his hand.
And the other————a figure lying on the floor that I knew well.
The world turned red before my eyes.
"What!? Amazing! There was such a beauty left!? Lucky!"
Seeing me, the bandit was delighted.
"———You're dead!! You animaaal!!"
With a single thought, I released magic against the bandit defenselessly coming towards me.
Without restraint, without regret, without mercy, only with clear intent to kill.
Even without the incantation, the effect is enough.
With one strike, I sent him to hell.
I didn't feel anything about it.
I wordlessly walked towards the fallen bandit———and stepped on his head.
What should I do?
What should I do!?
I haven't had enough.
I haven't killed enough!!
I want to tear him to shreds!!
My eyes fell onto the scimitar in the bandit's hands.
"...I'll cut you to pieces."
I grabbed the blood-stained scimitar and———
"...D... don't... do it. Alice... chan."
I dropped it.
Who gives a damn about murder weapons.
With all my power, I turned around.
"Don't get... swallowed up."
Even with blood flowing out of her chest, Aunty smiled at me with her never-changing warmth.
She was still alive!
"Run away... Alice... chan... cough."
Aunty had been stabbed in the chest.
Her heart... was probably alright, but it was in that area.
No, if her lungs overflowed with blood...!
"I won't run! I'll save you! As long as you're alive!"
This time, it's okay if you collapse.
"————Goddess of earth, grant compassion with your healing breath!!!"
I poured the miracle of healing into the stabbed chest.
One moment later, dizziness assaulted me.
The wound was too deep.
Uncles had been nothing in comparison.
I felt my mana and my stamina being drained to the bone.
Probably, Heal is lower class magic when it came to healing.
Mages don't specialize in healing, I can't help it.
That's right, I can't help it.
I can't help it.
But with "I can't help it" is not enough for Aunty's life!
They are the saviors that took me in, cared for me, made me family, without knowing a thing about me.
Uncle, Aunty, Shion-san.
Without this family, I'd definitely be dead by now.
Like I'd let some bandits do something to them!
"Oh? What's this? There were some women after all!"
Two new bandits came through the entrance.
This was the worst.
Cancel———yeah, like I can do that!
I'm fighting for every second here!
I have no time to spare to attacking!
"Please leave! Right now... I don't have the time to... deal with you!"
I was about to fall unconscious to begin with.
To remain conscious, I strongly bit my lip.
It hurt too much.
That taste of blood and the pain somehow bound me to reality.
"Hehe, now this is a good woman!"
"Hya, don't stay there, play with us!"
With vulgar laughs, they came closer.
What should I do!
I really don't have time to deal with you now!
"I'll take you on later, so please, leave us alone right now!"
I wanna die, really!
I should've learned Double Cast!
No, just how much has Cast Time Reduction saved me already?
And before that, right now I'm having my hands full with heal, there's no way I have room for Double Cast!
"Can't have that, missy——you're a Mage, right? That makes now our chance, doesn't it."
Damn those bandits, I'm out of options!
The bandits came closer and closer.
But of course, I had no intention of escaping.
Ahh... so these guys are going to make me their plaything
Such brutes are going to make me their plaything.
I can't even cry anymore...
One of the men's hands reached for me—————and was run through by a spear.
Screaming out pathetically, the bandit rolled over the floor."
In a panic, the other turned towards the entrance from where the spear had come flying.
I'd also confirmed.
The person who had thrown the spear from entrance.
"——Please refrain from touching Alice-sama."
Blond hair, green eyes.
That courteous manner of speech.
Those features you never forgot once you've seen them just once.
Why is she here?
No, now isn't the time to ask why, is there?
"I am late, Alice-sama. Here I come!"
No, Ilya hasn't fought before, has she!?
"You bitch! I'll hurt you for what you did!"
The unwounded bandit drew his scimitar and rushed at the unarmed Ilya.
I was in a predicament myself, but seeing others in trouble is bad for my heart!
When the bandit charging at her swung down his scimitar, Ilya glided forward, grabbed his arm and used his momentum to throw him.
The man moaned as he smashed into the floor.
Ilya had Agility 1.
But her movements——okay, they hadn't been that fast.
In the end, she had matched his timing and naturally slipped inside his reach.
"——I'll kill you, bitch!"
The bandit who had taken Ilya's spear to the hand went into a frenzy and slashed at her.
Ilya was still off-balance.
The scimitar cut into her.
That's what I thought.
I, and the bandit, too.
The bandit was surprised, and my mouth didn't close, either.
She had stopped the scimitar with one arm.
With her slender arm.
Had I done that, the arm would've been off.
While we were dumbfounded, Ilya glided forward and switched places with the bandit. Now in front of me, she picked up the dropped spear and skewered the bandit with it.
Seeing that, the thrown bandit ran for the door to escape, but that's where his life ended, too.
"What an eyesore," said the man with a look in his eyes so mean you'd take him for a bandit. Blackie.
With the daggers in both his hands, Blackie had cut down the bandit in an instant.
"Hah, I'd have a problem if you died on me."
Blackie didn't meet my eyes and looked away.
"Thank you... very much."
Is he a tsundere?
Nono, even if he is, does that mean I have to do something?
I don't want any men!
But I'm still thankful!
"Please, be safe!"
While thanking Ilya and Blackie, I focused on healing.
I wonder how long I've been at it now.
Mana and stamina have crossed the limit already.
It feels like the lacking mana is compensated for through stamina.
I'm on the verge of blacking out.
Whittling away my life, I'm saving Aunty's.
Without exaggerating, that's how it is.
"———cough, Alice... chan"
She made it!
Aunty still seemed far from her best, but compared to before, her smile was far more relaxed.
"Alice-chan, you're... so amazing..."
"She is alright, Alice-sama. I believe she just fell asleep."
On Ilya's prompt, I checked Aunty's condition.
Certainly, her expression was calm and her chest rising and falling.
She was breathing!
"I... saved her...?"
On the other hand, I was in blank amazement.
"Yes. As expected, Alice-sama!"
"I saved her..."
"Alice-sama's devotion and loveliness were very radiant to me."
However, they say people who don't treasure themselves cannot save others.
Strength left my body.
Not listening to my will any longer, my body crumbled to the floor.
I couldn't even speak anymore.
My consciousness became vague.
Did I... push myself too much...?
"Alice-sama! Oh no, you exhausted yourself too much!
Ilya embraced me.
I still couldn't move.
Ahh, too late, my consciousness———
"———Please excuse me, Alice-sama. You can scold me for this later!"
With those words, Ilya bent over me.
Ilya kissed me.
Only that fact filled my mind.
Ilya's beautiful face was flushed.
My thoughts couldn't catch up, so I let her do as she pleased.
Just, I felt something hot flow from Ilya's mouth into me and fill me throughout.
Energy welled up.
From the verge of unconsciousness I thought I almost wouldn't wake up from anymore, my consciousness stabilized, too.
As my consciousness stabilized, I couldn't help but wonder and wonder about the feeling of Ilya's lips.
Kisses... did they really feel this good...?
"Ha-a... once more, please excuse my behavior. Alice-sama."
For a moment, I thought it was too bad that Ilya had stopped kissing me and apologized.
Blackie's voice made me come to my senses.
My body was moving.
I pushed Ilya aside and stood up.
"H-how is the situation outside!? We have to hurry and beat those bandits!"
"Just have a look."
Blackie urged me to, so I quickly left the housed
For the moment, Ilya and Aunty were left inside.
When I came outside, everything had turned into a winter landscape.
The burning buildings had all been extinguished.
An impossible amount of sudden snow.
But it was gentle snow.
It stifled the fires and gently wrapped up the town.
It was doubtlessly snow, but touching the flakes falling from the sky, they were so very warm.
I instinctively recognized it as magic.
In the time I saved one person, Till had saved the whole town.
What a contrarian of a elf.
What amazing magic.
While watching the snow dancing in the air, I only had one thought.