on in the procession.

No, I mean, I was able to maintain an average walking speed this time? But how did I end up lagging at the very end again… ?

As I watched the Paladins moving farther away with a distant gaze, Elvin stood in front of me and reached out his hand.
I tried to refuse, saying that kind of support was unnecessary, but he wouldn’t lower his hand.

I thought about it for a minute.
No, I really thought about it for a second.
I had been taught that it was wrong to reject the extended hand of a handsome man.

My hand resting atop Elvin’s felt very small.
I’d noticed it before, but the size difference was really no joke.

I walked forward with a fresh energy, thinking that it would be rather nice to have someone nearby who can catch me now… when I suddenly heard Elvin’s voice.

“I kept getting worried.”

“Ah, haha.
Yes… my legs are a bit weak.”

Was my walking really bad enough to be a serious cause for concern? The thought was so embarrassing that I could only laugh awkwardly.
Elvin’s gaze stayed fixed on me until, at last, a boulder appeared that would take all of my focus to climb.
When I was deciding how to overcome it, Elvin grabbed me and lifted me up powerfully.

He held my hand tightly, the heat making my fingers burn and tingle.

“……But this, I’m not doing it for the Priestess’s divine powers.”

And in that moment, listening to Elvin’s low voice, I could only respond with an instant, “Huh?”

Elvin watched me quietly.
He slightly lowered his eyes, focusing on the hand that he was holding so tightly.
I involuntarily flinched, feeling pierced by his gaze.
But the strong grasp on my hand never slackened.

Uh… So, if I’m not misinterpreting his words now… is Elvin saying that he wasn’t being kind to me only because of my divine powers?

I didn’t mean to attach such a reason to his every action.
But when I think about it, I did think it was his main reason, so I couldn’t say anything in response at this moment.

There was a short silence.
Elvin furrowed his eyebrows for a while, trying to see what I was thinking.
Eventually he let go of my hand, shrugging it off.

“The Priestess doesn’t seem to mind it at all.”

It felt like he was talking to himself.
It was such a small voice, but at our proximity I could hear him clearly.

“But I can’t understand it, I really can’t.”

He seemed to mull it over again.
It was unintelligible.

After a while, Elviniraz closed his eyes and smiled gently.

“Shall we go, Priestess?”

The voice that asked me was as calm as usual, so I looked at him with a bizarre expression for a moment, but finally nodded my head.

I felt strange.

* * * * * * *

One month.
Incredibly, a month into this campaign has passed.

A doctor once said that it takes 21 days for a habit to form.
Afterwards, a professor claimed that it should take 66 days, which would make a huge time difference.
But personally, my experiences have aligned with former hypothesis.

In just half the span of this two-month journey, I’ve grown accustomed to so many things.
The uncomfortable barracks-life is now calmly accepted as the norm, and even the priests’ inter-relationships, which had gotten off to a rough start, have now matured into people who can share occasional, silent greetings with their eyes.

In the earlier days, there was an ambiguous rivalry amongst the different temples, but as our situation became more serious, the importance of healing quickly and efficiently far surpassed any petty envy over the superiority of each others’ divine power.

There were even occasions when Abnel’s priests would come to me first and ask for assistance.

As it has been a month since we’ve arrived at the mountains, which were so difficult to climb, I finally got a bit used to it.
At first, I had a hard time hiking every day.
But after the second week, ever since we crossed the last major mountain, we only had to move camp every two days, making it less burdensome.

I have gotten used to it.
Everything from the simple, spartan meals, to the irregular sleeping schedule, or even to the rough mountain roads.
And as the end of autumn approached, the nights got colder and colder, with everyone sitting together, shivering around the bonfire.

However, the one thing I couldn’t get used to—well, rather, the one thing that I couldn’t become indifferent to, even though I have technically gotten used to it—was the sinking sensation I felt every time I saw an injured person.

Paladin Gardiel once told me, ‘It’s not a real war because it’s just to this extent of wounded or killed.’

He’d said that the two-month period allotted took into account only the time it took to climb the roughest mountains of the western fortress*, and that Vios itself was nothing compared to Keschmir’s military power. It was just a symbolic march to annex Vios into the territory of the empire.

[tl/n*: I think the point being that they didn’t even allocate any time for battles or other complications, since it was basically supposed to be a walk through the mountains lol]

As we entered the third week, that is, after we passed the lord’s villa, the attacks noticeably reduced.
Contrary to the expectation that there would be more attacks as we got closer to Vios, the number of raids has actually decreased significantly, and the number of wounded soldiers has never strayed beyond five or six.

At this point, even I could understand the feeling of this being, “not very much.” Nevertheless, every time I saw an injured soldier, my heart dropped lower and lower.

In fact, I don’t understand well why I’m still affected so deeply.
Is this what PTSD is? Since we’re still at war, it’s only natural there’d be no sign of improvement.

Lily seemed to handle it all well in her own way, so why the heck is it so difficult for me? It’s not like I spontaneously break down in despair or sorrow; but sometimes, a feeling of suffocation overwhelms me, like I’ve fallen into an endless abyss.

People dying in war had always been a faraway concern, but for now, it’s my very close reality.

In online games, it was always so cool to see a hero escaping death whenever a healer flew onto the scene.
But now that I think about it, the true mental master in the game is the healer.

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