Lucia Receives Important Visitors
A gentle breeze against my cheek woke me.
When I opened my eyes, I discovered that I was not in my familiar personal room, but one that I’d never seen before. The window was open, and beyond it I could see a clear blue sky, the same color as Sir Celes’s eyes. I tried to prop myself up on my elbows in order to get up, and discovered that I had no strength at all. My head was swimming, as if I was suffering from horrible anemia. And I was terribly, terribly cold. Even though I had several blankets piled on top of me, all far finer quality than my own, I felt chilled to the bone.
What’s wrong with me? I gave up on trying to raise myself up. My whole body felt so heavy, I couldn’t move. But, why? Relaxing back into the bed, I sighed and closed my eyes. I wasn’t sleepy, but even keeping my eyelids open was tiresome. So probably the best thing to do for now was to rest.
I laid there for a while, until eventually I noticed the faint sound of voices outside. They sounded like the voices of the knights and soldiers training, maybe. Listening absently to voices giving some sort of instructions, and other voices calling responses, I tried to remember what had
The rocs attacking. The ballroom descending into panic. Freshly spilled blood, washed out by the rain. The horde of ogres winding their way over the land. So many soap bubbles…
Had that…been a dream? None of it felt real at all. But if that were the case, I had no idea why I would be lying here in an unfamiliar room.
As I lay there, eyes shut but ears listening, I heard someone knocking on the door of my room. After four quick, sharp knocks, I heard the rattle of the doorknob turning.
“She should be waking about now… No, seems she’s still asleep,” a man’s voice said. He sounded concerned.
“Then we should come back later, Doctor Beccaria.” Another man’s voice, brisker.
“Agreed. If she’s still sleeping, best to let her rest.” That sounded like the hoarse voice of an older man.
My eyes were closed, but I wasn’t actually asleep, so I opened them a crack and turned my face towards the voices. “No, I’m…awake.” Voicing the words took effort, and my voice came out terribly hoarse. How could it be so hard even to talk?
“Well, hello! Thank goodness you’ve woken up. Can you get up? Maybe not?” the first man asked briskly. He was the one they’d called Doctor Beccaria. He was wearing a white coat, and his dark brown hair was shot through with white and tidily bound up at the base of his neck. It gave him a rather charming air.
“I doubt it,” said the older man. He had a long, white beard, and was wearing the deep red robe that marked the highest-ranking members of the Academy of Magic. “You don’t recover from complete mana depletion with a single night’s sleep. It’d be cruel to make her even try.”
In the Academy, novices wore dark blue, while older students wore deep green. Researchers and professors wore dark red. Which meant that this man had to be someone who was quite important in the Academy. It’s said that mages of average power couldn’t even put the red robes on.
“If you’re awake, then we can sort this out quickly,” said the third man, his voice cool and dispassionate. He was wearing the uniform of a knight. “I am Florido Astorga, Vice-Commander of the Knight Regiments of Banfield.”
So this was the vice-commander. But, what was such an important person doing here?
“I’m Adnet Beccaria. I’m the physician for the knights. And the mage here is Master Ivanoe di Vaio, Headmaster of the Academy.”
The vice-commander. The knights’ physician. And now the Headmaster of the Academy!? Normally, I would never even lay eyes on such people. Seeing them all lined up in front of me now, I began trembling underneath my blankets. What’s going on here!?
“Now, first things first. Let’s get you something to restore your mana, shall we? It may taste
terrible, but at least it should let you move on your own again.” Doctor Beccaria lifted me up slightly, wedging pillows behind me until my upper body was slightly elevated. As I lay against the pillows, he held out the brilliant blue vial he was holding in his hand. “Can you drink this yourself?”
I tried to make my heavy arm move to grasp the vial, but I couldn’t will any strength into it.
“Well, that’s to be expected. I’ll help you drink it, then. It’ll be unpleasant, but you have to drink it all, understand?” Giving up on handing me the vial, Doctor Beccaria brought it up to my mouth.
Ugh! It smells terrible!
My eyes watering from the smell that wafted from the vial, I desperately drank it down.
It was awful! It was so sweet that it made my head ring, while at the same time it was so bitter that my tongue went numb, and I simply wanted to cry! At least go with one or the other!
But after I drank it all, my body did feel just a little bit warmer.
Di Vaio smiled, green eyes crinkling, when he saw my teary eyes. “Terrible, isn’t it? I can’t stand it either. Improving the medicine for mana recovery is one of the top priorities at the Academy, but unfortunately, it’s not going very well.”
If I should ever meet someone who did like that stuff, I would question their sanity. The taste was simply that bad!
But after a few minutes, my chilled body had warmed, and my heavy limbs started to feel like they belonged to me again. When I tried, I found that I could move them. The taste may have been terrible, but the medicine was certainly effective! No herbal medicine would work so quickly. What could possibly be in it…?
Now that I could finally talk properly again, I straightened my posture and turned to face the three men. “Um… Thank you very much. My name is Lucia Arca. And, if I may…what brings the three of you here?” I asked carefully.
Doctor Beccaria shrugged. “I just came to check on my patient.” “I came to verify your powers,” Commander Astorga said.
“And we should start by checking your mana levels,” Di Vaio agreed. “If you’re tapped dry, one of these high-level magic recovery medicines will restore up to one thousand mana. For your average magic user, that’s enough for a full recovery. The Academy students need to take two, and when you get to the level of the teachers, they need three or four vials.” He grinned. “If you’re curious—the Sacred Maiden required six vials for a full recovery.”
Six!? Gods have mercy! The memory of that awful taste ran through my head and I shuddered. Six vials? Never. If I drank that much of it, I would probably keel over dead! And the Sacred Maiden had to drink six of them? I was truly, deeply impressed. Only a Sacred Maiden could do that! Not me.
Doctor Beccaria grinned brightly. “And with that, let’s have you take another, shall we? Don’t worry, I have plenty more!”
“What!?” I stared at the doctor in horror. How could he make such a fiendish demand with such a mild face!
“Once you’ve drunk the second, we’ll measure your mana level. If you’re precisely at two thousand mana, then we’ll have you drink another and measure again. Cheers, Miss Lucia!”
What? No! Without even thinking, I shook my head. But Doctor Beccaria and the others knew no mercy.
In the end, I had to drink four of the things… I really wanted something to wash my mouth out.