She and the Curse 1
I brought the man along to the usual spot and stood there stock still.
The reason is simple. The pathway to Ms. Delris’s house that shouldn’t be visible already stretched in front of me unhindered.
Like the last time, I didn’t have to touch it to make it appear. From the beginning, the pathway was visible as if saying welcome.
The unusual sight that felt too out of place made me doubt my eyes.
When I was at a loss for what to do, a voice resounded in my ears.
‘Look, enter quickly before those guys find out’
Instinctively I looked around, but I couldn’t see any people.
‘Never mind that, hurry up’
Hurried by the voice, I entered the pathway carrying the man.
Since the pathway opened like this, I guess it’s fine to bring the man along.
When I stepped inside, the pathway changed to its usual state of being enveloped in fog.
I felt somehow relieved about that.
Looking behind, the entrance has already disappeared.
I understand it’d probably only opened to let me in.
While thinking I was saved, I headed for Ms. Delris’s house, but at that moment a crow flew from behind with amazing vigor.
I cowered down, but the crow showed absolutely no interest and simply kept flying.
“What was that…”
When I pulled myself together and advanced through the fog, I noticed a black lump approach from the front.
What’s that, while I held the man and waited to see what will happen, it headed straight here. It moved as if sliding.
When it came close, I understood that the black lump had a shape of a large dog.
It’s pitch black like a shadow, on its face there’s no eyes or nose.
Thinking normally it should be creepy, but strangely I didn’t feel fear.
Then, Ms. Delris’s voice resounded again.
‘Put the man on that dog’
When I followed the instructions and placed the man on its back, the black dog started calmly moving towards Ms. Delris’s house.
I also followed in a rush.
After passing through the open door, the dog continued down the stairs.
While admiring it skillfully carrying a person on its back, I followed after, and was greeted by Ms. Delris in her usual black hood looking at me.
I wonder if it’s my imagination that she looked worn-out.
“… You brought something troublesome again…”
Being told so in amazement, I lowered my head.
I very well understand I caused her trouble. There’s nothing but to apologize.
Ms. Delris waved her hand at the dog. The dog with the man on his back changed to something resembling a bed. Convenient.
Right after she raised her hand. A black crow flew through a window and landed on her arm. I recognize this crow. It’s the one that flew by me a while ago.
Or rather, a witch and crow… They’re too well-matched.
“I carried a series of exchanges through this familiar, but you see. This man had a quite troublesome curse placed on him”
“… After all it was a curse?”
I didn’t want to believe it and asked to confirm, but Ms. Delris clearly nodded.
I thought it would be good if it wasn’t the case, but it didn’t go as I wished.
Releasing the crow familiar, Ms. Delris approached the man and opened his clothes, exposing his chest, and while at it removed his face cover.
Curly black hair and pained face with some childishness still remaining became visible.
As I thought, he’s young.
His slender body was so emaciated bones were visible. And yet it was firmly toned. Awful scars were all over his exposed upper half.
I instinctively wanted to turn my face away, but somehow I endured.
Ms. Delris, not minding his appearance, casually placed her hands above his chest and began chanting something like a spell.
At that moment, the man groaned.
I could only be confused not knowing what she’d started doing.
“Be silent. Look, it’s coming out. This is the identity of the curse. Hexcraft that steals away target’s life in exchange for caster’s life… It’s something assassins of Sahaja to the west use when they want to kill their target at all cost”
When I followed her gaze, I saw fist-sized pattern emerge near his heart. Two snakes entangled like ivy made up for a tasteless magic formation.
Hearing the unexpected name, I asked back.
That’s right, Ms. Delris confirmed.
At these words, I searched my head for information about Sahaja.
Sahaja is a country’s name.
A desert country ‘Sahaja’.
A large country to the west of ours. The country, where warmongering kings rule, has from old days never stopped waging conflicts. Over half of its territory is covered by an unsparing desert, it’s a war-loving militaristic country that always watches for an opportunity to aim at neighboring countries.
Our country is currently not in the state of war with it thanks to the signed armistice, still Segunda Chivalric Order keeps a watchful eye on the western border.
As great number of monsters live in the desert there, factions often come together to fight against them. The outcome being, in that country the so-called guilds where same kinds of people could associate were established.
Of course, guilds also have branches in our country, but generally all their headquarters are in Sahaja’s capital.
There are various types of guilds like Trade Guild, Manufacturing Guild, Adventurer’s Guild, but the especially famous one that only exists in Sahaja is ‘Assassin’s Guild’.
It undertakes assassinations for money, there’s even a dark rumor it’s directly under the king’s control.
“Err. Does this mean he’s in some way related to Sahaja?”
I couldn’t see the man who’s now suffering in that way.
Ms. Delris vaguely smiled.
“I don’t know what sort of connection that is. This guy doesn’t look to be from Sahaja, after all he has red eyes, right? He doesn’t hail from Sahaja. Going by his eyes, he appears to have come from the north”
I thought of several countries to the north.
But, I couldn’t think of any with a red-eyed clan.
In the first place, although I was aware of the story of the cursed clan, it was nothing but a rumor.
Before seeing him today, I also had thought it was fake.
“He had such a curse placed on him. I’m certain he incurred considerable wrath of Sahaja’s Assassin’s Guild”
“Is… that so”
“Sahaja’s Assassin’s Guild only moves with money. They’re professional assassins, so generally they don’t put their life on the line for no reason. Them placing the curse in exchange for a life should tell you how much they resent him”
I looked at the man breathing with difficulty.
I don’t know what happened, but he seems to have been targeted by Sahaja’s Assassin’s Guild and had a curse placed on him. I wonder if he escaped to this country.
“Can you help him?”
When I said that, Ms. Delris listlessly shook her head.
“Of course, is what I’d like to say, but there is no way to dispel this curse. It’s a powerful hexcraft placed in exchange for the caster’s life. I might have been able to help him if it was at least few days earlier”
“The curse has already spread throughout the whole body. Your guard also said it. It’s too late. I thought maybe I could do something, but after rough examination I realized it’s hopeless. All I can do for him is kill him”
Because dying from a curse is painful, Ms. Delris added.
Those words made me recall him appeal ‘kill me’.
He wished for it because he understood everything.
“He’s still young…”
“Well, that’s right. Still, he blundered enough to be resented at such an age. I guess he’s not an ordinary person”
As soon as Ms. Delris left the man’s side, I approached him.
He’s still roughly breathing as usual.
Suddenly, he opened his eyes. As expected, there’s no light in one of them. The other, red eye seems unfocused. But somehow I felt him looking at me.
The instant I realized that, I closed my eyes.
I have no idea what to say to such him to apologize.
I easily told him I’d help him, to have hope.
I extended a helping hand to him who gave up.
And yet I can’t do anything, I’m worse than that stupid woman.
“Sorry… I’m sorry. I cannot do anything”
Even though I can’t do anything, I can’t choose to relieve him by killing him.
I’m an awful woman.
I grasped the hand of the man whose body started convulsing some time ago and knelt by the bed.
I softly reached out my hand towards the pattern above his heart that Ms. Delris had drawn out.
This magic formation is torturing him. With such a tiny formation his life is in danger.
It’s frustrating not being able to do anything. I wonder if there is truly no way.
“This magic formation should just disappear…”
Staring at it hatefully, I grasped the magic formation wanting to crush it.
Seeing this, Ms. Delris called to me in panic.
“Oi, don’t carelessly touch it. It’s a curse. A lump of negativity. Nobody knows what may happen if you directly touch it”
Seeing her panic, I withdrew my hand grasping the magic formation. At that moment.
I heard a sound of something breaking.