Hikaru arrived at Borderzard, the closest town to Un el Portan that day. The moment he passed by the town hall where the wounded were being treated, he had a terrible sense of foreboding. His Instinct tingled.
He stepped inside, and the smell of the stagnant air almost overwhelmed him. Then he heard a familiar voice.
Three girls who left their village. They formed a party with young men from the neighboring village which broke up after they encountered a horde of Goblins. After saving the girls, Hikaru ended up having dinner with them. Paula, in particular, seemed to have taken a liking to him.
It did sound like they needed money, Hikaru thought. They probably joined the monster hunt for the reward.
But he couldn’t blame them. If it was like every other year, even beginner adventurers like them could help by carrying monsters slain by high-ranked adventurers, or taking down the small fries.
It was simply ill luck. Nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps that was what spurred him to approach Paula, to meet her again. He learned that her two friends — Pia and Priscilla — were at death’s door.
【Soul Board】Paula Nohra
Age: 17 Rank: 8
If I modify her Soul Board, she can heal them.
But once points had been spent, they couldn’t be taken back. If he increased the power of her healing magic, what would she do afterwards? What if she turned into an enemy? What if she told people about Hikaru’s ability?
This is a simple problem. Do I trust her? Or do I let them die? I guess it must be fate that always brings us together.
「Do you want to save them?」he asked.
Hikaru steeled himself and decided to trust her. If he deemed her to be not trustworthy, he would kill her with his own hands.
Paula didn’t hesitate for a second. He felt her resolve, her determination to save her friends even if it meant giving up her own life.
「Close your eyes. The moment you open them again, your life will change.」
Hikaru opened her Soul Board while her eyes were shut.
【Soul Board】Paula Nohra
Age: 17 Rank: 8
「Open your eyes.」
She looked at him, eyes wet from tears.
「Do you feel different?」
「It’s like… my mana has increased.」
「Use all the mana you got to heal them.」
Hikaru placed one hand on Paula’s shoulder and the other on Pia’s forehead, then activated Group Obfuscation.
「O God who art in heaven, in thy name I ask for a miracle. In thy right hand thou offerest the gift of life, in thy left the blessing of death. Give us grace so we can survive. I offer thee my mana…」
Paula chanted with both hands on Pia’s abdomen, her voice rich and full. Warm, golden mana overflowed from Paula’s body. She had her eyes closed, though, so she couldn’t see it herself.
Golden light flowed through her hands and into Pia’s body. The flesh on her friend’s belly twitched as it gradually healed. It felt like watching a computer-generated image.
Looks like eight points on Healing Magic is enough, Hikaru thought.
He didn’t put ten points on it for a few reasons. First, he wasn’t sure how powerful her magic would turn out to be. It would pose a problem if her mana capacity wasn’t enough. He could’ve put five or six points, but he imagined there would be a few of those people in this world. Yet he hadn’t heard of a healing magic that could restore flesh, aside from legends and myths. As such, he estimated eight points would be enough. He didn’t have time to verify it, however.
Paula staggered on her feet as she let out a low groan. Fortunately, Hikaru managed to hold her up.
「Did you use your mana all at once?」
「Y-Yes… You told me to use all my mana. How’s Pia?」
「You take a look.」
Paula’s eyes widened as she looked at her friend.
「H-H-Her abdomen’s healed!」
「Isn’t that great?」
Paula turned her attention to Hikaru.
Hikaru’s spine made a strange sound as she embraced him tight.
「Y-You idiot! Let go of me!」
「There’s still your other friend!」
She quickly let go of him.
Phew… Good thing I had Group Obfuscation on.
Not one person noticed what was going on.
「What happened to Priscilla?」Hikaru asked.
「She got poisoned, and my magic doesn’t work.」
「I’m not sure how it works, but shouldn’t you know first what kind of poison it is before you can neutralize it?」
「No. I should be able to heal her. If it’s a more potent poison, then you just use a more powerful magic.」
「…And you don’t have much mana left.」
With his Mana Detection, Hikaru could tell she didn’t have much left in her tank. So he opened her Soul Board and added one point on her Mana.
「Huh? Wait… My mana increased?! Did you do this?!」
「Just use your magic on her quick.」
As Paula cast her magic, color gradually returned to Priscilla’s face.
At long last, Paula felt relief. Softly, she closed her eyes…
Hikaru’s karate chop landed on her head.
「Why are you sleeping? Do you want your friends to stay in such unsanitary conditions? Let’s move them somewhere else.」
First, they supported Priscilla from both sides and got her on her feet. They then left the town hall and made their way to the subjugation team’s camp. The town’s inns were not enough to accommodate all the adventurers so the Adventurers Guild’s training ground was used as a camp instead.
The men and women were separated. Paula asked and a small tent was provided to her. With his Stealth, Hikaru was able to enter the women’s area.
「Just wait a bit, Priscilla. I’ll bring Pia soon.」
When they stepped out of the tent, they noticed the adventurers starting to get restless.
「Wh-What’s happening?」Paula asked.
「Ah, a large group of monsters is closing in on this town.」
「I see… Wait, what?! That sounds like terrible news! How can you be so calm?!」
Hikaru flashed a grin.
「We’ll be fine. Someone qualified at dealing with such a problem is on their way.」
「Let’s hurry and bring Pia here too.」
They left the camp and headed back to the town hall.
「We have a problem now. You.」
「M-Me?! I’m fine! I have spare mana thanks to you and I think it’s recovering faster now.」
While she didn’t know exactly what happened, Paula believed her increased mana capacity was because of Hikaru. Her healing magic had improved considerably as well, but she seemed unaware of it. I can just explain it to her some other time.
「I told you to devote the rest of your life to me.」
「Ah, y-yeah. Uhm… I look forward to spending my life with you.」
She stopped and bowed deeply. Hikaru hit her with another chop on the head.
「Listen. This is serious. As you may have realized, I tweaked your abilities.」
「Ugh… Why do you have to be so mean?」
「Because you’re getting carried away. You are now one of this country’s — no, this continent’s most powerful healers.」
「That’s not how I expect you to react. Think about it. Do you know anyone else who can actually restore flesh?」
「N-Now that you mention it… I heard only some of the higher-ups of the church, the Cardinals, can do that.」
Oh, so someone from the church can do what she did, huh? I thought that only happened in legends. I guess I was wrong. Six points on Healing Magic probably would’ve been enough.
「What would happen if people found out about your abilities?」
「I-I don’t know…」
「Even the church will want you. Royals and nobles too, most likely. You have the power to fix someone as though nothing happened to them in the first place. A struggle revolving around you will occur. Many people will die. I asked you if you were prepared for that.」
Paula turned pale as a sheet. Reality finally dawned on her.
「Listen closely. You have to lay low. And you will pay me back for the power I gave you.」
「Pay you back…」
「How many more times do I have to save you?」
Paula pursed her lips.
「I now understand what you’re trying to say. Please accept my life.」
Hikaru wagered and he won. Paula could be trusted. He was glad he modified her Soul Board.
「We’ll think about what to do from now on some other time. First, we’ll bring Pia to the camp. You stay with them until they wake up. Once they do, flee somewhere safe and then say your goodbyes.」
He couldn’t bring Pia and Priscilla with him. The more people he had to protect, the more unfavorable it was. Hikaru’s abilities were best suited for one-on-ones. Paula seemed to have understood as she nodded silently.
「 Here, take this.」
Hikaru handed her a bag of coins, a key, and a piece of paper with his address.
「Right now, I’m staying in a town in Forestia called Scholarzard. I want you to head there. You can split the money with Pia and Priscilla. Send them back to your village. I’m sure you’ve realized by now that you’re not exactly fit to be adventurers.」
「Uh, are you sure I can go with you?」
「I’m keeping you for my own reasons. I’ve always wanted a Healer by my side.」
「Are you disappointed that I’m treating you like a tool?」
「No. You saved my friends’ lives. I have no complaints whatsoever.」she said in a clear voice.
「What are you going to do now?」
「I will end this mess.」
They made their way to the town hall. Hikaru was just a bit worried, but right now he couldn’t keep Paula company.