Chapter 20: When Leila Woke Up, There Was –
Apparently, I have a fever. I wasn’t on top of the Rug Dragon the next time I opened my eyes but in a dark tent. I was really thirsty.
I feel like I’ve been saying nothing but water lately. I felt someone get up next to me at the sound of my voice.
“Chibi, you’re up?”
This boy is,
“That’s right, you remembered. How’s your fever?” He replied and put his forehead to mine. The boy was a little warmer.
“Mm, looks like your fever’s gone,” he laughed in relief. Then, he opened the flask, held me up and fed me water.
“Your fever wouldn’t go down for two days, so we had to camp by the river. It seemed like you were stuck in a nightmare.”
Was I? I couldn’t remember anything during my fever.
“You kept saying, Hannah, Niini and Otousyan. Your family cared about you a lot.”
That’s right, Hannah’s not here anymore. And I may not be able to see brother and father straight away. At that time, the entrance of the tent opened, and the person named Bart peeked inside.
“How’s the chibisuke?” He instinctively shut his mouth. What happened? Then, Alistair awkwardly, but firmly held me.
“You don’t seem to realise this, but you’re crying,” Alistair whispered. Are his clothes wet with my tears?
“You can cry out loud. You don’t have to hold back.”
I was neglected straight after I was born, but after that, I was really happy. Are brother and father mourning my loss? Is father still hugging brother even though I’m not there anymore?
I didn’t cry like I did when Hannah passed away. However, the back of my chest felt so painful that it was difficult to breathe. My tears continued to soak Alistair’s clothes.
I had just woken up, but I was tired from crying, so I leaned against Alistair’s chest.
“Do you think you can eat?”
I shook my head. I have no appetite. I only did my best to eat while riding the dragons. Bart, who had been peeking in, disappeared before long.
“I don’t have much of an appetite right now either, but you won’t have any strength if you don’t eat,” Alistair said. I looked at his face and saw that he was pale. Was it because he was nursing me? No, it’s not. Alistair is like brother and Gill. It must be because his magic power is overlapping on top of him as if they are one.
And it was fading now.
Alistair was startled.
“Chibi, do you know about it?”
“I have to. One of the reasons why they take me out on hunts even though I’m so small is because of the barrier.”
I was shocked. Isn’t the barrier something the fathers maintain? No, wait. A barrier used for hunting.
“That’s right, Chibi. If we can make barriers big enough to sleep in, then our hunt will be safer and more efficient. But, most of the tools used for personal barriers are really old, so it eats up a lot of magic. So I need to diligently supply it with magic. But, I don’t normally use this much magic power.”
Alistair looked a little troubled.
“You don’t understand me even if I say this.”
I do. Alistair filled the tool with magic power at fixed intervals to create a small barrier. But, they had to make camp because I had caught a fever, so he had to use more magic than usual.
Then, it was better to force him to recover his stamina. At this time, the man who had called me greedy showed up.
“I brought dinner.”
Alistair received two portions of something that looked like hot soup, along with bread and cheese.
“You like cheese, right?”
I like it. Did you remember this?
“I don’t know if you can understand me, but sorry for saying something nasty. You’re going through something hard and were calling for your dad this whole time, but I didn’t realise this,” he said as he looked down. Then he quickly left after he’d handed over all the food.
“Mill says whatever comes to mind, but he’s a good guy.”
Honestly, I feel like I can forgive him since he gave me food. Alistair helped me eat the soup with a spoon while ripping the bread into small pieces. We ate together, and our food disappeared in no time.
“We ate more than I thought we would.”
I felt a bit better after eating.
“Hey, you ready?”
“Bart, yeah, it’s fine.”
“Sorry about this. It’s already night, and we have to camp again tonight.”
“Oh, the barrier? Sure, I’ll come out,” Alistair lightly accepted and got out of the tent.
“Awishthair. Lei too.”
Alistair’s stare seemed to say ‘you’ve just recovered from your fever’, but he didn’t want me to stay inside forever. He held me and took me outside.
“How’s the Chibi?”
“She alright now?”
The men called out to us as soon as we stepped outside. I was confused, and Alistair said, “Everyone was worried about you.” I thought I was a nuisance. I thought they took me with them because they had no choice. Well, it was probably true. Even so, they cherished small kids. There were kind people here too. I stopped sulking and felt like my heart was opening up to them.
“Thhanwsh,” I couldn’t help but say, and laughed.
Everyone worried about me because I let out a weird voice.
“You’re all hopeless,” Alistair scoffed.
“What’s with you guys? Whatever. Alistair, I’ll leave it to you.”
Alistair nodded at Bart. Bart held a small box the same size as a music box in both hands. Alistair received the magic stone and sat cross-legged on the ground. That was probably the tool they used to create the barrier.
I looked at Alistair’s hands.
“Oi, Chibi. You’ve seen a magic stone before? You were definitely raised in Kingdom,” Mill said casually.
“Idiot, magic stones are precious in Kingdom, there’s no way they’ll let a kid touch it,” someone got angry. But it was five times bigger than the magic stone used for light that I’ve seen and was big enough to fit in a young boy’s hands. It was clear like a crystal. It should have been violet, but the colour was almost gone.
Dangerous. A warning bell sounded in my mind. What did father say to brother? Remember it. I recalled father’s voice.