Book 2: Chapter 26
Lukas went to Leo’s room where he was waiting.
The door opened following the gentle call, revealing Leo.
His face was a bit dark, showing how tired he was after returning home from the mission.
His expression changed to one of suspicion when he saw Lukas.
“You were the one in the office…”
“You can call me Lukas. I’ll be in charge of your treatment this time.”
“…ah. So you’re a priest.”
Leo nodded as if that made sense.
After all, it was natural for a priest to be able to tell that he was injured with nothing but a glance.
Lukas dressed in a very free manner, and he didn’t have the religious zeal that one usually felt from priests, but Leo didn’t pay much attention to that.
“…well. Something like that.”
Pretending to be a priest could be troublesome, so Lukas decided to gloss over it roughly.
“Come in. I just got back, so it’s a bit messy.”
The room wasn’t very spacious. In fact, it was quite narrow. It had a structure similar to a Gositel(1).
It was furnished with a bed, a desk, and a chair.
Contrary to what Leo said, the room wasn’t messy at all. In fact, it was quite clean except for a little dust. This showed that the organisation kept it in order while he was away.
‘It’s like an ascetic’s room.’
The books on the shelves and the simple training props in the corner seemed to emphasise that feeling even more.
“Sit on the bed.”
Lukas grabbed the only chair in the room and sat across from Leo.
“Stretch out your arm.”
Leo held out his arm as he was told.
When he saw his arm, Lukas frowned. His injury was much worse than he expected.
A large, grotesque black spot stretched from Leo’s elbow to his wrist. It was a bizarre sight.
“You must be in a lot of pain…”
“I’m confident in my tolerance.”
“That’s not something to brag about.”
Leo flinched slightly when he heard Lukas’ harsh tone. He bowed his head and murmured.
Lukas sighed as if he didn’t want to hear it, and he started treating him.
Basically, the most reliable and efficient way to deal with an injury like this was to cleanse the demonic energy that was embedded in the flesh.
There would have been almost no aftereffects if one were to use holy energy to burn the demonic energy away.
But Lukas couldn’t use holy energy. Therefore, he simply sucked the demonic energy into his body.
If a real priest were to see this healing process, his jaw might have dropped in shock. This was no different from curing poison by putting it in your own body.
Leo looked down at his arm curiously.
Although he wasn’t completely sure how purification worked, he had a vague feeling that this was different from the usual process.
As he took the demonic energy out, Lukas spoke.
“How did you get this injury?”
“It was an attack from a Demon’s whip. The range was too wide, and the attack was too fast for me to respond. It was Baron Doldor, the target of our mission.”
Barons weren’t very high-ranked Demons, but they were threats nonetheless.
It was a target that most hunters would be unable to defeat on their own.
“Couldn’t you have avoided it?”
“You train your body extensively. You probably don’t miss a single day.”
Leo’s eyes widened.
“How did you know that?”
“I can tell just by looking at your physique. There is hardly any fat on your body. At least you don’t have a body that suits the term ‘couldn’t respond’.”
Lukas looked down at Leo’s slightly bowed head and said.
“Is it a mental problem?”
Leo remained silent for a while before he finally opened his mouth.
“…are you British?”
It was a random question. However, it is something the Lukas had encountered quite often since coming to this world.
As he slowly shook his head, he heard a soft voice.
“My family was exterminated by the Demons. I was the only survivor, and since then, I’ve despised the Demons.”
While it was hard to bear, situations like that were quite common in this era. In this day and age, there were very few people who hadn’t lost their families to the Demons.
Nevertheless, Leo seemed to summarise his ordeal as though he was only a third party who watched on from the side.
“I wanted to be a hunter. Fortunately, my talent wasn’t poor. I was even told that I had an exceptional talent for martial arts. I felt that I was lucky. After all, the faster I grew strong, the sooner I’d be able to kill the Demons.”
He trained for 3 years.
And on the day he turned 15, Leo participated in a subjugation mission.
“It was only then when I realised I had a major flaw.”
Lukas knew what that flaw was. After all, he’d already seen it in his file.
“Whenever I practice, my body is firm. But when I face Demons, I become so tense that I can’t even move a finger. That’s why I haven’t been able to become a proper hunter yet.”
“I don’t know if you believe me or not, but that’s why I was unable to avoid the whip.”
He had no reason to hide it.
Most of the hunters in the European Branch knew about Leo’s flaw.
That was because he had been in most hunter groups before.
“I heard that you’re a Supporter.”
“Normally, Supporters would be standing at the back during a battle against a noble.”
Lukas’ question had a deep meaning.
Why was a Supporter within the range of a noble?
“I told you, didn’t I? The whip’s range was long.”
Even Lukas couldn’t help but sigh when he received that answer.
“I don’t know why you’re lying to me.”
“Why do you think I’m lying?”
“There are a lot of bruises on your body.”
Leo was silent.
“I saw the mission record. The noble’s weapon was a whip while the rest of the enemies were all Demon Beasts. If you had been injured by them, you would have scratches or bite marks.”
“Those are injuries that could only be inflicted by other humans.”
They were bruises that occurred when someone was kicked or punched.
Lukas realised that besides the wound on his arm, which had been caused by the whip, the rest of his injuries were like that.
Of course, it was possible that he had been punched or kicked by Demon Beasts, but if that had been the case, he would not have suffered such minor injuries.
More importantly, he could feel deep malice in Leo’s wounds.
They were deliberately caused by a malicious person who wanted to cause as much pain as possible without killing him.
“They made you the shield.”
That’s why he got the wound on his arm.
There was no need to say who they were.
Leo looked down at his arm for a while.
“Please keep it a secret.”
“They are the only group who will accept a guy like me. I really want to help defeat the Demons. I beg you.”
As he said this, Leo bowed deeply.
This meant that he was willing to continue living his current life.
“It doesn’t matter if they beat me up. I can take it.”
By then, the treatment was completed.
Lukas stood to his feet and said.
Leo blinked in surprise.
His voice was filled with contempt, which was completely different from the slightly caring attitude he had been showing so far.
“The pain isn’t a problem? You can take it? Does saying that make you feel like you’re making a great sacrifice?”
The sarcastic voice caused Leo’s expression to stiffen.
A mocking smile hung from Lukas’ lips.
“You’re really good at wrapping the fact that ‘you don’t have the courage to fight’ into a nice little box. But don’t get it twisted. You’re nothing but a loser who is unable to overcome his own flaws.”
“…what do you want me to do?”
Leo’s voice was filled with helplessness.
“I’ve done everything I could to cure the trauma. I’ve tried psychotherapy and taken medicine. I thought that experiencing a shock while facing a Demon would help, so I didn’t hesitate to bite my own tongue. And yet…”
And yet his body still wouldn’t move.
He could not even move a single finger.
When he faced a Demon, his entire body would become covered in cold sweat, his vision would blur, and his entire body would go numb.
“So you’re saying that what you’re doing now is the answer? Are you pretending to gain comfort in the fact that you can hunt Demons while satisfying the lowly desires of that group?”
“…what do you know?”
“I know of a better way.”
Lukas muttered in a low voice.
“Of course, it won’t be easy. In fact, it will be dozens of times harder than everything you’ve done up to this point. Perhaps living like you are now would be a better choice in comparison. But if you don’t like the way things are now, if you have even the slightest bit of dissatisfaction… Come to the 12th Training Room. I will wait there until tomorrow morning.”
After saying those words, he left the room without turning around.
Leo looked at his back with gleaming eyes.
He could dismiss everything he’d just heard as bullshit from a person he’d only just met who knew nothing about him. After all, he’d already been insulted countless times.
He’d put up with it every time. In fact, at this point, it wasn’t even hard to do.
He knew how to ignore the criticism and contempt of others.
But he didn’t know why Lukas’ words shook his heart so much.
No. Leo knew why.
He bit his lip hard.
* * *
Three bluish projectiles appeared at the same time.
Min Ha-rin clenched her fist.
It was now possible for her to cast three Magic Missiles at the same time.
But the moment she lost her focus, the Magic Missiles disappeared.
Min Ha-rin took a few sips of cold water and wiped her mouth before looking at the door.
‘…he hasn’t been around lately.’
Her Master, in other words, Lukas, had been showing his face less and less over the past few days.
Originally, he would come to give her advice two or three times a day, and sometimes he even stayed the entire day, but lately, he would not show up for two or three days.
‘I’m not stuck on anything right now, but…’
In all honesty, Lukas’ presence wasn’t absolutely necessary.
The increase of her mana capacity, which was what Min Ha-rin was currently working on, was nothing but simple repetition, and there was nothing she didn’t understand when she occasionally read the books.
In the first place, Min Ha-rin was very smart. She couldn’t speak for herself, but it was rare for her to find someone smarter than she was.
Despite not having any learning difficulties, she still felt empty inside.
Was it because he wasn’t there?
Min Ha-rin frowned.
No. She couldn’t do this.
This kind of dependence was not good, and it didn’t suit her.
Min Ha-rin mustered up her determination, but soon after that, her mind went blank again.
She was currently in the European Branch Headquarters, so she had very few acquaintances. Most of the hunters who had escaped with her had either returned to their own branch or gone on missions.
And although Allida was still in the headquarters, she seemed to be very busy due to the fact that she was a Wizard.
Nevertheless, she didn’t feel lonely.
This was because learning magic was fun, and she still had Lukas.
Lukas was the first real teacher she’d ever had. She still cared about his identity, but after a few weeks, she’d grown to trust him.
He was reasonable and wise. And upright.
The last one was just her opinion, but she felt that it was the reason that Nina was so respectful to him.
Of course, there were still problems. She didn’t know the proper distance to keep.
He was her first Master. And sometimes, she felt like he didn’t like her, so she was unsure.
What kind of relationship was a master and student supposed to have? How polite should she be? Would he mind if she played pranks on him?
If they got closer, maybe he might spoil her a bit…
After thinking this, Min Ha-rin couldn’t help but fan her face with her hand.
Her eyes once again turned to the door.
However, the door didn’t budge, as though it had no intention of moving in the first place.
1. Gosiwon/Gositel is a form of housing that has been in South Korea for more than 40 years. It started as cheap, temporary accommodations for students who spend years studying for difficult state and bar exams. The rooms are incredibly small, sometimes to the extent of feeling suffocating.)