A relieved smile floats onto Alicia’s face, like she’s thankful that she was able to safely complete the spell.
Gramps freezes up while looking in Alicia’s direction.
It appears that he still can’t fathom what just happened to him.
….I knew it.
I knew that was Gramps.
I was only guessing before, but now that I see him like this, I know I was right.
“Grandpa Will” Alicia says carefully, bringing her face closer to his.
Gramps just looks at her for a moment, and then slowly, very slowly, brings his hand up to touch her face.
Fine tremors run through it as he lightly touches his fingertips to her cheek.
“So you were this beautiful….” Gramps says with a trembling voice as he fights to hold back his tears.
They look like they could fall at any moment.
In the years that I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him so overcome with emotion.
Nor have I heard him speak in such an unsure tone.
Seeing him like this, from somewhere deep inside me a deluge of heat erupts in my chest as tears threaten to spill out from my own eyes.
“Grandpa Will, you’re…..” Alicia stares at him with eyes of wonder.
And in that moment I know that Alicia must have realized it too.
“I don’t believe it.”
“Old man Will’s got an eye now.”
“Just who is that beautiful girl….”
“Has she come to save us”
“But look at ‘er.
She looks like a noble.”
As soon as one person started talking, the whole crowd of onlookers burst out with their own commentary and thoughts.
In an instant, the whole area is boisterous with their speculations.
Listening in, I can’t help but feel that their conversations seem….
somehow different than usual Their words lack their typical cutthroat, suspicious nature and they’re all acting much more meekly than I would have thought.
Even if they realized they have no chance to overpower her since Alicia can use magic, there would typically be at least one or two cowardly b*stards cursing and yelling for all they’re worth.
But there are none.
They’re all being rather docile today.
It’s like Gramps and Rebecca subjugated them or something.
“What happened here” I mutter.
“Since Alicia was off somewhere trying her hardest, we thought that we ought to do the same.
Though, well, in actual fact I didn’t really do much.
For the most part, I just helped out here and there while Master was the one who actually got the public order under control.”
I hadn’t intended to ask her, I was just mumbling to myself in surprise, but Rebecca helpfully answered my question anyway.
So she calls Gramps her Master now….
“Not everyone agreed to play nice of course.
Some of the nastiest thugs decided to flee to the middle of the village rather than submit to a couple of rules.
And before they left, things got pretty rough for a while.
When they finally fled though, things settled down quickly for us.
It was like an invisible wall had formed dividing the good from the bad.”
“And What are you planning to do from now on”
“We were in the midst of discussing that earlier, when you guys got here,” Rebecca says, a small smile finding its way onto her face.
In reality, while Gramps and Rebecca were the ones who improved this village quite a bit, the one who made it all possible, the driving force behind those changes, was actually Alicia.
I doubt she’s even realized it herself, but she has this uncanny ability to charm and fascinate people.
Without even having the intention to, she unwittingly wins over the hearts and minds of those around her.
I’m sure anyone who’s unprejudiced would fall prey to those charms in an instant, though for the members of the Liz religion, their hearts aren’t likely to be moved at this point.
I haven’t really discussed it with Alicia but…..
the brainwashing undergone by Liz’s followers is quite impressive.
It’s gone way past the point of simple admiration.
I’ve heard that members of her diehard fan club very literally worship the ground that Liz walks on.
In these last two years, her pureness, innocence, and naivete is bound to have soaked into their very souls.
Her ideology is infectious to the point that once they’ve started to accept it, then it’s only a matter of time until their minds become fertilizer to fuel her flower fields.
Though I can’t say that everyone’s minds have been poisoned to that degree yet.
But, since it’s Alicia we’re talking about, I’m sure she’s already realized all that.
“Alicia, thank you.
At Gramps’ words, the surrounding buzz of conversation once again falls silent.
They all watch, mesmerized, as a single tear falls from his one eye and rolls down his cheek.
It’s the first time in my life that I’ve seen Gramps cry, and judging by the others’ expressions, he probably hasn’t shed a tear even once since he’s been here.
The crowd looks positively dumbfounded.
“When Master dies, will Alicia’s eye go back to normal”
The one who breaks that silent, emotional moment is Rebecca.
She’s looking at me with unbridled curiosity, seemingly oblivious to the mood.
When the recipient dies, whatever part was exchanged will return to its original owner.”
Though, even knowing that it will come back, I’m sure there aren’t many people who would be willing to part with one of their eyes.
And Alicia’s probably the only one who would even consider doing such a thing while asking for nothing in return.
…..She’s still a long way off from becoming an actual villain.
I can’t help it.
The thought brings a natural smile to my face.
She really did it.
She really gave up one of her eyes for Gramps.
And seeing him now, Gramps actually looks a lot younger than I initially had him pegged for….
Believe it or not, not having eyes really does change the impression that a person’s face gives off by quite a bit.
“Hey! He’s pretty handsome~”
“I know right He’s not half bad.”
“What the… So that’s your type, huh You go for the old geezers”
“Who cares how old he is.
Eyes are the windows to the soul~ He looks hot like that.”
“He’s gotta be at least 50.”
“I always thought he was older ’cause his hair was white.”
“Yeah! Plus, the way he talks makes him sound ancient lolz.”
Excited giggles and mock-outraged cries reach my ears as some young people gossip nearby.
It sounds like they aren’t even trying to keep their voices low.
They’re loud enough to reverberate throughout the area.
And I can’t tell if they mean to praise or insult at this point.
But their mentioning of Gramps’ age is valid.
With his new look, he looks more like an uncle than grandpa now.
“Grandpa Will,” Alicia says, quietly.
She looks at him straight on.
Her expression says that she knows what Gramps is feeling right now.
And with her one good eye looking into his, she conveys more than she ever could with words.
Trust and care and joy.
Pride at doing something so unquestionably good and right.
But there’s also a question waiting to be answered.
And as Gramps looks back at her, I can tell that he understood all that too.
His face becomes alight with emotion.
Happiness, amazement, gratitude… they all spill over.
But in the depths of his eye and in the set of his mouth, there’s also a strong determination sitting there, ready to answer her.
At that time…..
I knew he had seemed familiar.
That’s why I asked Duke about that portrait that hung on the wall in the royal palace.
I had my hunches about who was pictured there, but now I’m sure.
Even before Gramps speaks, I already know what he’s going to say.
“My name is Will Seeker.”
His stately voice rings out low and grand, the gravity of his words filling the atmosphere with a tense, shocked energy.