Warning: there will be some grotesque imagery in this chapter.
Also, thank you once again for continuing to read this story! I’m so happy that you’ve stuck with me all the way up until now.
As expected, there are lots of people lying on the ground in the plaza.
I walk around them quietly so as not to wake anyone up as I make my way over to the fountain.
….The water is disgusting.
I can’t use this….
But I’ll for sure end up drawing attention if I use magic to purify it.
What should I do….. Is there some other way I can help her
I don’t have time to be hesitating like this.
Alicia, get ahold of yourself.
If you fail to save this woman, then you’ll be disqualified from being a villainess.
The strong must help the weak.
As gently as I can, I lay the woman down next to the fountain.
And without worrying about the consequences, I snap my fingers, the sound reverberating like a gunshot in the quiet plaza.
In moments, the water is engulfed in a glittering aura and begins to purify with tremendous speed.
From around me, I notice that the people sleeping on the ground have started to wake up.
I take off my cloak and dip it into the now crystal clear water.
“Alicia!” I hear Gilles call from nearby.
“What are you doing” he asks while rushing over to my side.
Glancing his way, I see that Grandpa Will is not far behind him.
“You’d better get out of here! Quick! They’re waking up!” Gilles cries loudly.
But I have no intention of abandoning this woman now.
“What are you trying to do” Grandpa Will asks, finally making it over to me after weaving around all the people on the ground.
“I’m going to save this woman,” I say looking directly at him and Gilles.
No matter how much they might be opposed, I won’t yield on this.
“Then save her.”
“Gramps! What the hell are you saying”
“Hurry up and save her,” Grandpa Will says again, looking right at me, sightlessly.
I’d expect nothing less from Grandpa Will.
It seems that after spending all these years together, he’s come to understand my personality quite well.
I wring out my now sopping wet cloak, gripping it hard and admiring the way the water streams from the fabric.
My arm muscles really are amazing.
“The water’s clean……” someone murmurs as the people who were sleeping start to groggily drag themselves up off the ground and towards the fountain.
It will become a problem if they get in my way.
With magic I enact a barrier around the fountain.
The spell creates a transparent wall with dark, geometrical patterns interlocking on its surface.
I read about this in a book before, but it seems that the type of barrier that you can make depends on which element of magic you use.
Incidentally, a wall of fog like the one that surrounds this village is how water magic manifests when a barrier spell is cast.
I check to make sure that my spell is successfully keeping the surrounding people out, and then I return to my task.
I start by wiping the woman down with my damp cloak.
In almost no time at all my already dark cloak starts to become black with grime.
But even as I continue to gently scrub, the clumps of dirt don’t seem to want to come off.
That’s not dirt….
It’s her skin! It’s black and festering.
In shock, my hands freeze.
“Alicia, are you okay” Gilles asks, carefully examining my expression.
“This is normal here, you know.
And she’s not even that bad.
There are lots of people who are in worse condition than her,” he continues with a straight face while looking over at the woman.
“She’s likely a victim of arson.
She was probably left behind after her house was burned down,” Grandpa Will adds with a somber expression.
I…… I can’t save her.
Darkness magic isn’t capable of healing wounds.
All of its spells are so useless.
Not knowing what else to do, I slowly start to wipe down her body again.
I gently rub the skin on her face, neck, and arms.
And then I move to the exposed skin on her legs for a moment before I freeze in horror.
…..The area below her right knee is completely necrotized.
It was probably burned too severely in the fire; it’s completely dead.
To be honest, just looking at the blackened flesh is making me feel woozy.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this.
What can I even do to help her
I know that I need to calm down, but I can’t.
I’m panicking and I can’t think straight.
I thought I could help her…… I’m such a fool.
I’ve been thinking too highly of myself.
“Ali, are you okay Is there anything that I can do” Gilles asks looking at me in concern.
I can’t think.
I can’t think! I know I’m breathing too fast, but I can’t to stop it.
“Alicia, calm down.
Everything is fine.
Just focus on your breathing for a second.
Take in a slow, deep breath.”
I do as I’m told and very consciously take in a huge, deep breath.
As I do this, Grandpa Will pats me on the back.
I continue to just focus on my breathing for a few minutes, slowly getting myself back under control.
“Magic will be able to help.
No matter how meaningless a spell seems, it can be incredibly useful under the right circumstances.”
“I don’t know about that,” I say a bit huffily.
“Alicia, you’re extremely intelligent.
I know you’ll be able to help this woman.”
“Don’t say that! You have no way of knowing that!! Saving a life is too much for me.
It’s impossible!” I shriek.
I know I should be happy, hearing such encouraging words, but I can’t help it.
His words grate on me, shoving my powerlessness back in my face.
I’ve never encountered anything like this before.
I have no idea what to do.
What I even can do.
My mind is blank.
I’ve read so many books, learned so many things, and yet when I need that information most I can’t remember a single thing.
I have no ideas.
As I stand there, tears start to leak involuntarily from my eyes.
“Alicia…..” Gilles stares at me intently.
The tears continue to flow incessantly and I don’t have the willpower to stop them.
They stream down my cheeks faster and faster.
“Don’t you dare give up.”
Grandpa Will’s words resound throughout my head.