Those who go round and round
Maki and Chiharu stood side by side. Their backs were to the dungeon as they looked towards the forest in front of them. And from their foreheads, something beautiful and opalescent glimmered as they fell to the ground. New magic stones immediately started to grow on their foreheads.
“The magic stones of the Saintess.”
“It’s so beautiful…”
Leia felt that the hearts of the beastkin were calming down. And as she focused on the air around them, she did feel that the miasma had become thinner.
“So this is the power of a Saintess…”
As Leia muttered, Chiharu called out to the monsters that had already left the dungeon.
Like turning a switch in her heart, she focused on the gazers. Within the vast forest, she saw them moving towards settlements where people lived. As they were much farther away than the monsters in the dungeons, it was not easy to read their emotions.
Chiharu closed her eyes tightly and narrowed her eyebrows. Connect. Connect. Connect to the tired, floating gazers.
Maki felt her silent prayer as she kept her eyes on their surroundings. Even though Zynis and Leia were there, no, it’s because they were there, she could not be insensitive to the fact that there were others who had less than good intentions.
The incident at the Midland castle and the rescue mission of the merfolk chief. The others sometimes assumed that just because they cared for the Saintesses, everyone must as well.
Maki did feel that the majority of the people they had met up until now were good. However, the most dangerous were people like Saia, the merman.
“That’s what a Saintess is.”
In other words, those who didn’t even see them as real people. Those who seemed to treat them well at first, but would gladly cut them off if it suited them.
However, was there really a danger of that happening here?
Maki kept her awareness directed at them without looking at them directly.
“Their curiosity and innocence can be troublesome when pointed at us. However, we were still able to become friends with Sauro and Saikania. However…”
Maki thought about it.
“Is it because Saintesses are good at gathering miasma and creating magic stones? Is that why some see us as objects?”
Of course, she was probably overthinking it. However, the birds who had come to the hot spring did not do it out of malice. It was just curiosity. And Maki thought that was even more frightening.
Chiharu seemed to have noticed something.
“I connected. They seem tired after all. But also happy. They didn’t know how far they would have to travel.”
“I see. Poor things.”
If Chiharu had been able to connect, it would be easy for Maki. And so Maki closed her eyes and searched in the direction of the forest.
“Zynis. What are the Saintesses talking about?”
“Leia. You should already know. The Saintesses are able to hear the voices of the monsters. They must be listening to the gazers who are scattered in the forest now.”
“Hmm. I see.”
Leia muttered as she looked towards Maki and Chiharu. Leia was also fond of cute, small things. After hearing about the Saintesses, she had looked forward to meeting these cute and interesting people.
And so it was quite regrettable that they had to meet under such tense circumstances.
Chiharu was making a fist in front of her chest and her eyebrows were narrowed. Maki stood next to her as if for protection as she kept her eyes towards the forest.
Leia looked like she would melt just watching them, and so Zynis put an arm around her waist for support.
“This is not the time for that.”
She said, slapping his hand. Ortha watched them with a conflicted expression. Still, the atmosphere was more relaxed than a moment ago.
Maki looked up. It was a gazer.
“Look! A gazer!”
A bird person who was flying in the air warned them. The gazer seemed to be swaying from side to side as it headed towards the Saintesses.
“Birdfolk. Do not touch them.”
They started to protest Zynis’s command.
“It’s fine. You can leave it to Maki and Chiharu.”
Sauro said. And so they backed away. However, they were still cautious. As they waited, more and more started to appear in the sky. After a while, there were so many that it seemed like they were a part of the forest.
“To think that so many had come out…”
Leia was in shock.
“Perhaps they have all been going out at night, when it’s harder to notice them.”
The gazers that Maki and Chiharu saw were all large, and very tired looking.
“It was crowded? Too many monsters? But you are monsters as well.”
While the beastkin looked like they would pounce at any moment, the largest gazer came right up to Chiharu. She put her hands to both ears and tried her hardest to read its heart. It wasn’t as if she would be able to hear its voice through her ears, but she felt like it would help her concentrate.
“In this life that goes round and round, I’ve never had this many comrades.”
Chiharu said. And the beastkin stirred in surprise.
“Shh. Be quiet.”
Leia said in a sharp voice.
“As you taught us, we tried combining into one inside of the dungeon. But even then, it was too crowded and suffocating. Normally, we slowly grow larger and head outside of the dungeon. But we were now forced to rush out.”
Why had they multiplied so much in the first place? Why were they in this situation? Zynis had so many questions. However, he knew that there was no point in asking them now.
“So, what happened inland. The gazers here all know about it.”
We go round and around, after all. The answer came to Chiharu.
“Have you had enough?”
The gazer swayed gently. It was about the same size as Chiharu, and it now pressed its forehead against her extended hand. And then as if it was collapsing into itself, it lost shape, and shrunk down into a magic stone that clinked onto the ground.
“So this is the power of the Saintess.”
As the beastkin muttered in awe, Zynis, Ortha, Sauro and Saikania noticed that Chiharu was a little different from usual. She was wiping sweat from her forehead. And her breathing seemed heavier as well.
However, Maki stood next to her and they nodded as their eyes met and she held Chiharu’s left hand. Then she looked back at Chiharu in surprise, but Chiharu just shook her head and looked forward once again.
And then she raised her right hand while Maki raised her left.
We’ll return you to magic stones.