Chapter 57: Shining Knight (15)
I woke up from a long sleep. The pain in the body that I had briefly forgotten came back like a giant ocean wave.
As I slowly opened my eyes, the sunset was visible through the window.
My throat was dry.
A glass of water appeared in front of my nose in a thoughtless murmur.
Looking up along the hand that was handing it to me, I saw Asena and Keirsey.
Keirsey brought the glass to my mouth with a worried look in her eyes.
She slowly tilted the glass, pouring the water into my mouth gently. I drank the water without a word.
It felt like my throat was loosening up after drinking. It was so satisfying I felt like I was going to live again.
Keirsey took the glass away and asked me, "...How are you feeling, Oppa?"
Her face looked like she was about to cry at any moment. But even so, she told me with a face full of faint joy.
"The doctor said...that it looks like you're doing okay. You've passed the worst of it - the turning point...there's no sign of internal bleeding either...your bleeding has stopped as well."
I smiled at her.
"I told you I would be fine."
However, Keirsey let out a big sob at my words. It was funny to see her smile one moment and cry the next.
"How is this okay?! I seriously...feel like I'm going crazy..."
Only I and Keirsey faced each other and talked. As Keirsey was in front, I couldn't see Asena at all.
It seemed Asena was thinking the same thing; she approached the bed and stood next to me.
" ...Oppa...can I give you more mugwort juice?"
Asena, on the other hand, asked as if she had calmed down a little - different from Keirsey, who was exposing her feelings.
I shook my head.
“...it’s okay. I want to stay awake a little longer.”
"What about the pain?"
"I can endure it."
In fact, the burning pain was felt continuously after waking up. It seemed the effects of pain relief had subsided.
But as I told Asena, I wanted to be awake right now - to the point of enduring this pain. I didn't like that I kept unknowingly letting the days pass by. It was an inexplicable reason.
I looked at Asena and Keirsey alternately.
Both of them were quite exhausted. But their fatigue was never brought up in our conversation.
" ...Are you guys sleeping?"
" ...Since when have you been awake?"
Keirsey lowered her posture and knelt at the foot of the bed, looking at me. Her face was getting closer.
Almost as if in a whisper, she told me.
" ...Since Oppa got hurt."
" ...Since midnight yesterday until now?"
I calculated the time. I’d been injured since midnight, and in the morning after sending Sharon, I drank juice and woke up now in the evening… it meant they’d been awake for a whole day.
Asena also knelt down like Keirsey and looked at me from the other side.
“…not yesterday, Oppa.”
“Because you sent Sharon yesterday morning, not today… Oppa hasn’t woken up since yesterday morning, after sending Sharon away.”
Thus, the time they were awake had become two days.
Wasn't it hard?
I didn't know what to say, so I ended up joking.
“…Somehow, I was thirsty, so I got up. Next time, I should drink plenty of water and sleep longer.”
"...I'm not in the mood to hear this type of joke, Oppa."
I didn't try to make any such jokes. I understood why she must be feeling bad when I talked about sleeping longer. I would have felt the same.
'Two days have passed, huh…'
When I heard that one more day had passed than I'd expected, I quickly accepted it. I had a long dream, and the stitches hurt the whole time, so it wasn't something I wasn't completely expecting.
Come to think of it, when I first got hurt and had it stitched, I couldn’t endure it without screaming. Compared to that time, it was bearable now.
When my joke didn't land, I told the twins to go and rest.
“…The doctor said the same, and I think I’ll be fine.”
But Keirsey shook her head without looking into my eyes. She didn’t even think about it. There wouldn't be anything for her to do if I fell asleep again, why did she want to stick around like this, then?
But still, I was moved to think that she must have cared about me so much.
"...Asena, then you go and rest first.
When Keirsey resisted and shook her head, I told Asena, but she looked at me with no response - like she didn’t hear me.
“…what’s the use of both of you doing this? Even if you are really worried, one person is already enough to look after me.”
“…Keirsey. First, go and rest. I’ll be watching over Oppa.”
"Unni, you rest. I'll watch over him,"
This was an endless cycle. I wanted to sigh, but I endured it because the pain would intensify if I took a deep breath.
While I was thinking, Asena called me.
I turned my head slightly and looked at her, only moving my eyes.
The woman who was speaking firmly to Keirsey just now had suddenly disappeared and was now opening and closing her mouth, seemingly hesitating about something.
I looked at her and asked, "Do you have something to say?"
"We've already made up. What now?"
“…No…not that. This one too.”
I looked at my own physical condition, wondering if there was something I didn't know, and glanced at her with a slightly suspicious expression.
Asena still had a cautious expression as she spoke to me, "Ewin and Daisy. I... showed interest in them first."
"I… told Sharon not to do anything... but… I was the one who brought it up first..."
I stared at her without saying anything in response.
I felt sorry for her who couldn’t even meet my eyes, but I waited quietly for her, not saying anything.
Asena didn't know what to do with my reaction, and her gaze flickered as she moved it up and down, eventually meeting my eyes.
I said, "It's okay."
"After all, you told her not to do anything, right?"
"Of course... I’m curious why Ewin and Daisy bothered you, but... well..."
I watched Asena quietly and spoke to her in a soft tone.
"....Asena. Do you know why I got hurt?"
".....you fought with Sharon's subordinates."
“So. Do you know why we fought?”
"......Because of surveillance..."
“No, we didn’t fight because they were surveilling Ewin and Daisy.”
“You may feel sorry about that. But I'm an understanding person too. You told them not to do anything, but Sharon might have thought it was an opportunity.… But ultimately, it wasn't because of your previous order that things turned out this way.”
“I originally tried to solve it verbally, and I succeeded. When I told them not to wander around people close to me… they understood. They also decided to withdraw all the subordinates planted in the academy. That was the end of it.”
"But then, I heard the sound of the children. The crying of the little girl... Even if I didn't want to, it reminded me of you both when you were young. How could I just ignore that?"
“Even if you ordered the surveillance, well, I might have been angry…but it wouldn't have escalated to this point. Ultimately, it's because that organization touched children. Why did I forget about Sharon’s other sins? Surveillance was an even smaller matter than those crimes…But I still let those things go and did not punish her… But when she touched the children, I simply couldn't let go.”
Asena listened to me and looked up at me. Then she naturally scanned my entire body slowly. Her face, which had relaxed for a moment, wrinkled again.
".....Still...Oppa...I'm so sorry."
Personally, I didn't want to blame Asena. Of course, I understood why she was apologizing. She must be feeling responsible for what happened.
Although she ordered Sharon not to do anything, considering her high social status, she also had to think about the aides who might waver under her. If there was something wrong with her, it was probably that she couldn’t convey her inner thoughts to the subordinate. She just had to learn from it.
“…I really…What have I done…”
As Sharon had left, Asena was blaming herself, the remaining culprit.
I thought about how to solve this problem and laughed.
As I laughed, Asena stopped blaming herself and looked up at me.
"Well, then, a kiss."
I tilted my head slightly and offered my cheek to her.
"I'll let this one slide then. We haven't done this in a while, have we? We were too busy fighting."
"Be gentle. My body still hurts."
Asena was stunned by my request, but gradually her face softened. She burst into laughter mixed with tears, as if she couldn't believe it, and then got up.
My younger sister, who should have been a Duchess of the Pryster family or a villainess, wiped away her tears like a child and kissed my cheek gently.
"Okay. That's settled..."
I wanted to tell her that it was settled, but Asena didn't know how to let go of my cheek. She pressed her lips against my cheek and didn’t let go for a while.
In that state, I met Keirsey's eyes.
I gave her a subtle questioning look, but Keirsey mouthed ‘…me too,’ and stood behind Asena.
After a while, when Asena let go, I had to give my cheek to Keirsey for a kiss too.
I ate the porridge that Keirsey was feeding me while I received a report from Asena about what had happened while I was sleeping.
Judy was busy wrapping up the affair, and Daisy was shocked by my condition
She blamed herself for the injuries I sustained while trying to get her watchers off her back.
There was no reason for her to do that. It wasn't her fault.
I felt guilty for burdening her with more emotional baggage.
I also heard that the news about me was spreading like wildfire through the Academy. Of course, any mention of Sharon was left out.
In other words, the only story that was circulating was that I had rescued the children.
That alone was, of course, controversial.
No matter if I was adopted, I was the eldest son of the Pryster family. I was at the center of the rumors from the very beginning, and I had even won the jousting competition… So, it was impossible for news about me not to spread.
In Keirsey’s words, adding an additional explanation to Asena’s words, I had become some sort of hero.
"You rescued the children," Keirsey explained.
I wanted to scratch my head at the sudden thought, but I couldn’t, so I just moved my lips back and forth.
I never thought I would become a hero someday.
"When did the nobles at the Academy start caring about commoner children?" Asena was the one to speak this time.
“It’s even more true because it’s Oppa who saved them… The eldest son of the Pryster family is on the brink of death because he tried to save the commoner children… it's only natural they would treat you as a hero, right?”
"Ah, is that the reason? Not just because of my actions, but because of who I am?"
".... To some extent. Of course, what Oppa did was impressive, but…"
As Asena spoke, Keirsey made an annoyed expression next to her. Then, she muttered in a sullen tone.
“…Oppa...I know I'm only saying this to Oppa for the first time…but let this be the last time you risked your life to save the commoners… I mean, Oppa is the most important to me…”
"I appreciate the sentiment."
“It's not about appreciation… no next time, please… okay? A high-ranking aristocrat like Oppa-”
"... But I'm a commoner too?"
Keirsey quickly cleared her throat and shoved the porridge into my mouth. Seeing her intention to silence me, I couldn't help but laugh.
Anyway, I was thinking that there was nothing wrong with these spreading rumors. After all, my reputation was rising because of them.
If only the wounds on the body healed without any problems, it seemed that this matter could be wrapped up…
I reconciled with the twins just like before, and Asena had also seen the consequences of what could happen if she carelessly used the power she was given as a family head... Wouldn’t it be a good thing if that was all it took to warn her?
As I finished my thoughts, Asena’s last words - who was still reading the report - caught my attention.
".... Huh? What did you say, Asena?"
I asked her, thinking I might have misheard her. But she repeated the same words I thought were a mistake.
“…Liana Grandma is coming.”
"After so many injuries Oppa suffered...of course, Grandma will come to see you, won’t she?"