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Chapter 48: Partial Recovery
[Duration before recovery: 46 days]
“I’m already staying here for at least four days?” I said, staring at the screen with the blanket covering half of my face, pondering on the ways on how I could shorten the time needed to recover. I tried asking the system again and again, but my effort bore no fruit. The notification screen wasn’t having any of my bullshit. It would not entertain my hopes for faster recovery.
“Why am I doing this, anyway?” I sighed.
The reason? Notwithstanding the overflowing request coming from the other villagers and even Emma, I also wished to help the village head’s wife on a personal level. Why? Honestly, I don’t know. Call it a hunch. Instinct.
Alright, time to talk to the old catkin. If I recover faster, I could immediately rally the help of Maggie. Although I’m not sure how she would deal with the curse, I chose to trust her. The emotions she shared during our contract knew no lies. The only thing I’m worried about right now was the reaction of the village head. He might think that I’m just using the opportunity for myself.
Oh, the village head’s lie-detecting technique might help. Why did I not think of that?
I stood from my bed, washing with a wet cloth before striding out of the door. The little kittens were early birds. There were no signs of the two anywhere in the house. They were probably already in the grasslands, herding the animals.
I looked around, trying to search for Emma. She was also out of the house.
Soon, the wooden door creaked. With shuffling steps that scuff the floor, the old catkin entered. Her baggy eyes spoke volumes, she had not taken a shut-eye in the entire night. There were also signs of dry bloodstains on her sleeves. She took a wet cloth nearby the door, rubbing it away.
“Astolfo’s wife?” I asked curiously.
“Indeed.” A weary smile slid on the old catkin’s lips. Her cat ears falling along with her words. “I’ll be honest with you, Lady Victoria. Hild doesn’t have much time left. That’s… unless we find a way.”
I pursed my lips, deciding to tell the blob’s ability. “One of my contracted spirits told me last night that she might have a way to cure the curses.”
“What!” The old catkin’s usually gentle voice shoot-up. Her ears stood ramrod, fearing that it heard the wrong. She strode, clasping my hands. “Please tell."
“The village head,” I said with a grimace as Emma gripped my hands with strength.
“I will call him right now.” Emma rushed out again once. She sped up towards the village head’s house. In a matter of minutes, the old catkin dragged the village head away from the lightless room.
There were dark circles below the village head's puffy red eyes. His gaze was akin to a dead fish. Unmoving as if it had lost his soul.
I glimpsed at the old catkin, wondering what happened to the scarred man.
“He’s losing it,” sighed the old catkin, frowning. She walked and kicked the calves of the giant. "Wake up. Don't mop like a kid."
No answer came back. The man simply stared at the open window, ignoring the grassy lands, towards the direction of his home. He was one giant mess.
The old catkin gestured at me. She had said nothing yet to the village head it seemed. I took a gulp and said."I have found a plausible way to cure your wife."
Suddenly, as if he had taken a dark brewed coffee into his buccal pouch, the scarred priest jumped out of his feet. He hurried towards me, only to be pushed back by the old kitten’s paws. His face twisted into something indescribable. The long scar on his face wiggled, bursting forth with power. It made me take a step back. Wait? Why is he angry?
Then I heard Emma's voice as she put her hands on her forehead. "He's going to cry."
Then the scarred giant’s dam broke. His voice boomed before turning into soft whimpers. "Please! Please. I'll do anything just, just help her okay. Anything. Anything!"
I watched the village head wail akin to a kid. Tears fell as he dropped on his knees, kowtowing like I was his ancestor from long ago. Grasping the hems my skirt, he pleaded. I thought he was one tough guy. And I was right. I didn’t find the huge contrast funny. I found it sweet. The spinster in me staggered as I watched the village head weep, I felt nothing but envy for his wife.
If I had married someone on earth, would he also be like this if I get sick?"
I shut my eyes and took a deep breath, putting one of my knees on the ground. "Please stand up. I'll help."
Wasting no time, I explained the blob's preconditions so that I could help. There was no resistance or doubts which I kind of expected to happen. The village head didn't even use his lie-detecting eyes, fully trusting my claims. Instead, he and the old catkin immediately sped out, telling me they’ll arrange everything that I’ll need. They didn’t even ask questions. All as if they knew my requirement long ago.
I didn't wait that long. After a few minutes of watching the grass fields, the village head and the old catkin came back. There were a bunch of herbs on Emma's hand while the village head wore the same unique gears he wore when I visited his wife.
It was a long white robe, archaic glyphs written on various parts. One look and you’ll know it was for ceremonial and magical purposes. The only thing that erased my doubts that the giant in front of me was indeed a priest. Without telling me anything, the village heads turned and said. “Let’s start. Emma, please help her lie down.”
The old catkin gently guided me toward my bed. She asked me to lie down on the mattress, treating me like a preoperative patient. As for the scarred giant, he started to murmur some weird words that I never heard or studied before. It had a bizarre rhythm akin to those ceremonies I witness in Africa.
Wait? I peered at the old catkin, hoping to get some details. I tried to stand up, but the old catkin pushed me down back to the bed. "Emma? What's happening?"
"Astolfo plans to heal you..." she said. “...now”
“Now?” I said, my brows twitching. Ain’t things rush? Going straight to the operation table without even one check-up at all. Am I some lab rat or what? I tried to stand but got pushed down again against my will. “I-Isn’t this going too fast?“
“The truth is... we already started preparing for this,” said the old catkin. She scratched her cheeks, looking a bit troubled. “When you were suffering from that seizure, we took the liberty to check you. In the Madlands, we could still save your almost crippled mana veins. After all, in this crazy place, it’s something normal. We hope to heal you in exchange for your help. Please trust us.”
Emma’s words calmed me down. Still, I made a few things clear, “I hate pain.”
She gave me an assuring smile. “It won’t be painful.”
A few minutes later.
Emma’s needles waltzed in the air, the crimson mist drifting around her once again. Soon, the needles poked through various parts of my body. It was kitty-puncture. The old catkin stayed true to her words. There was no pain. No spasming while awake episodes. Nothing.
Then came the village head’s turn. “Let’s begin.”
He pulled a long scroll from his waist and began chanting one mantra after another. His entire body began to shine with golden radiance, starting from his feet and up to his head. He resembled a giant buddha from those eastern folklores I’d read and watch. The repeated words he was uttering sped up as he strode towards my bed. With each of his steps, ripples of light flickered, crafting sparks all over around him.
The scarred village head frown grew deeper as he wore seriousness like a suit. A few beads of sweat fell from his brows with each word he uttered.
Golden sparks akin to butterflies flew around his body, making me shut my eyes. He was blinding. Literally. Yet, a tint of vermilion dripped from the sides of his lips. He gently touched my forehead, uttering something in a soft transcendent tone, [Giant Recovery].
Suddenly, a warm force entered my entire body, making me moan in delight. I could feel a unique tingling feeling passing through each of my nerves, making me feel itchy. It was as soothing as the hug of my parents when I was still young.
“Blurrghh.” The weird sounds coming from the village chief woke me from the stupor. I lolled my head around, the golden sparkles had already vanished. As for the village head, he was on the floor, spewing a bucket load of blood, coughing again and again.
I shuddered at the sight. I stood and hurried, hoping to assist him despite not knowing what to do.
Emma immediately ran to help the village head. She guided him by his shoulders, letting him take a sit on the bed I was once on. Now he was the patient. They put the herbs Emma had brought to use. Not on me, but for the village head.
Soon, a blue-colored notification flashed before my eyes, showing that the ceremony had done its work.
[You have received one miracle from the goddess of healing. You had reduced the total time until recovery from 46 days to 10 days.]
Then another one popped out.
[Your spiritual contract connections have now recovered and matured.]
A rumbling voice of a little girl rang in my head. She sounded thrilled. “Victoria! You don’t know how worried I was. I did my best to help you, but why did still use your magic. We were anxious. So please don’t do that again. Blah blah. Blah. Blah....”
From the feelings it sent through our spiritual connection, it was little Maggie. I felt a headache.
“The grump Alistair was also anxious.” She said while crying metaphorical tears. She was one noisy little girl. Her questions were endless, so I decided to just let her calm down on her own.
“I’m not worried! And not grumpy!” A young man tutted, pride oozing out his voice. But came out of him was way out of his character. “Anyway, how are you feeling? There are no issues right? Did it feel painful? Were you able to talk to that spirit? Was she able to help?”
Now, now. Talk about not worried. But before I could even reply to the fist-sized blob, I saw the village head and the old catkin staring at me with a weird gaze.
“Don’t tell me.” The scarred priest wavered, coughing out blood. “I-It did not work?”
The old catkin strode towards me and held my wrist. She shook her head, looking down. Her tail lowered, her ears turned droopy, thinking they had failed.
Right. I must appreciate their help first.
It was time for my high-level etiquette to come to play. I held the rims of my magically enchanted hunting dress, curtsying gracefully in thanks. The wind blew, partly blowing the veil they forced me to wear away.
With a divine smile on my face, I said. “No. It worked. I really appreciate your help.”
For some reason, the gaze of the old catkin and the village head turned odd. They rubbed their eyes as if they were not sure about something. Suddenly, a powerful gust of wind entered the entire house, entering through the window.
The wind snuggled the old catkin and the village elder. They glanced left and right wondering where the gust of wind came from. It spun around them, caressing them. It was the two blobs.
“W-What is this, Lady?” The old catkin held the tip of his colorful duster, stopping it from being lifted out in the open.
As for the village head, he looked lost, mesmerized by what was happening. Then he threw a questioning glance, dry blood forming on his teeth. “Spirits?”
I nodded with a mirth dancing on my lips. “They’re saying thank you”
He turned silent for a moment before cackling madly, spurting blood from his mouth. “Spirits have acknowledged me? Those guys in the tower will die of envy! Who could have thought!”
The bloody giant wobbled, standing up from bed. Then he held my hands with a wretched and bloody grin. “I entrust my wife to you. Spirit Tamer’s don’t lie. Emma go guide her, I’ll follow soon after I recover.”
The old catkin acknowledged. After chucking a few herbs on the village head’s mouth, she pulled me by the hands. Our destination? Back to the darkroom where the village head’s wife awaits. And once again, this aunt’s instincts kicked in. I have a bad feeling about this.