Chapter 52 Heart of Fire
Roland knocked on the door, and when he heard Nightingale’s response he entered the room.
The windows in the room were closed and had thick curtains. They were only open during the early morning and evening to let in fresh air. At any other time the windows were closed to keep the room warm.
The only light in the room came from two candles at the end of the bed. The candles burned quietly and threw out many crisscrossing shadows throughout the room.
Roland went towards the bed. Seeing that the woman resting on the soft pillows and bedding still had her eyes closed, he sighed softly.
“Is Border Town’s defense still holding?” asked Nightingale while coming over to Roland and handing him a cup of tea.
“At the moment everything is going smoothly,” answered Roland while taking a small sip, but then he gave her the cup back, “From that day on, a big group of demonic beasts like last time hasn’t attacked us. Also, all of our injured members of the militia are now healed and back, ready to fight. Their fighting passion has become … somewhat high.”
“What is with the damaged part of the city wall?”
“Karl rolled logs under the carapace of the mixed beast to move it towards the hole in the wall. There, he will use a capstan to get it up and use a wooden frame to hold it upright, making it a part of the city wall,” Roland knew that Nightingale was trying to distract him by questioning him, so that he wouldn’t worry himself too much. However, when he stepped into the room, all his attention would always stay on the woman who was lying in bed.
If we say that the last time we confronted the large scale invasion we obtained a victory worthy of pride, there is no doubt that the biggest contributor for the victory was Anna. If she hadn’t used her wall of flames to block the gap in the wall, the consequences would really have been unthinkable.
However, she hadn’t woken up since she fainted in his arms.
“It has already been one week,” whispered Roland.
Theoretically, if a person laid in a coma for one week without food or water, with no possibility of supplying her with nutrition through external measures ,such as injection, the body’s functions will shut down and the brain will gradually go into shock and die. However, Anna did not have any signs of poor health – in fact her appearance now was better than when she fell into Roland’s arms. Her cheeks were rosy, her breathing was smooth, and when Roland put his hand on her forehead he could feel that she had a normal temperature. Everything showed that Anna was at full health, but … she wouldn’t wake up.
“This is also the first time I have encountered such a situation,” Nightingale stood at Roland’s side, shaking her head while explaining, “She depleted all her magic within her body, but now her magic power s already at the point of saturation, even more rich than it has been in the past. If I did not calculate it wrong, today at midnight will be her day of adulthood.”
“Do you mean she’s going to be an adult while in a coma?”
“No, she will die while in a coma,” Nightingale said bluntly, “You must use your will to overcome the suffering on your day of adulthood. If your resistance is broken, the bite of the witch’s magic power will irreversibly destroy her body.”
Roland moved a chair next to the bed and sat down, “I remember that you once said that when facing magic backslash, no matter how painful it becomes, you will always stay conscious and clear-headed. Either you will be able to cross this hurdle or you will choose to terminate your life.”
“Indeed, it is exactly like this. Within the Witch Cooperation Association we also had someone who believed to draw support from being unconscious when passing through the bite of the evil spirit … only having to bear the torment once a year,” Nightingale hesitated but then continued, “she said that she relied on alchemic substances to sleep, but in the end it was meaningless … when the moment came she was immediately devoured by the magic without any chance to resist.”
“The pain does not slowly increase?”
“No. When your time arrives, the pain will strike you just like lightning, but how long you have to resist varies from person to person. My sister was not strong enough, but …” she trailed off.
Roland understood what she meant, not knowing how long they had to suffer the pain was already a kind of torture in itself, not knowing how long they have to resist – it was similar to being on an abandoned ship in the middle of a heavy storm. It would be easy to let people give up the desire to live on.
During the moment of silence, Roland felt a hand on his shoulder.
“During my homeless and miserable years, I had seen too much death. I saw witches being treated like cattle, hanged, burned, or tortured to death just for the entertainment of the nobility. The only way for a witch to survive was to live far away from other humans, living a cloistered life. I do not know where the Holy Mountain is located, but in our hearts it is an unattainable paradise.” Nightingale’s voice became softer than it had ever been in the past. “but Anna is different. In addition to the help we sisters can give her, I have never seen someone else being so concerned about a witch as you. She is needed by people, she is valued and treated like a normal person … Your Highness, Anna has not even made it through her adulthood yet, but she has already found her Holy Mountain.”
However, this was not the outcome Roland had hoped for. He closed his eyes, and recalled the scene when he had meet her.
She was barefoot, and was only wearing tattered clothes. She had been living in a cage, but there was not the slightest hint of fear in her face. Her eyes resembled an unpolluted lake surface, clear and calm.
She was the flame, but she wasn’t flickering like a flame.
Memories began to appear like the pictures on a film reel.
“I have satisfied your curiosity, Sir, so can you kill me now?”
“I have never used my power to hurt someone else.”
“I just want to stay near you, Your Highness, nothing more.”
“The Demon’s Bite will never kill me, I will beat it.”
“Are you dreaming? I’m not going anywhere.”
Roland had to restrain his surging thoughts and whispered, “I will stay here and accompany her until the last moment.”
“I will also stay … thank you.”
After dinner, when Nana heard that Anna would go through her day of adulthood, she insisted on staying. Roland set aside a room for her and her father who would accompany her during the night.
Like this, Roland and the two witches were sitting besides the bed, quietly waiting for the approaching midnight hour.
Regarding Nightingale and Nana, they would also have to face the Demon’s Bite this winter, but fortunately their magic awakened on different days. Otherwise, the three witches would have to suffer their test of life and death at the same time. Roland estimated that if that was the case he wouldn’t be able to stay calm in the room.
The town had no clock tower, so with only the light of the candles, the passage of time became blurred. Cold wind blew against the window, so from time to time they could hear the screeching wind. When Roland felt a trace of weariness attack his heart, Nightingale suddenly said, “It has begun.”
Only she could see the magic flow within Anna’s body. She saw that it became restless, and the cluster of green flame became unusually rich, but the white incandescence in her center turned dark, while all of the irritable magic converged inward. It seemed to be pulled towards the center while struggling and rolling wildly, but it was of no use.
Roland couldn’t see these changes, but he was also aware that something was wrong.
The candle flames began to shake, even though no wind was blowing inside the room. The light emitted by the flames got darker, it seemed like all the shadows were swallowed by the flame as it changed its color – the orange-red glow turned into a jade-like green flame.
He looked at the woman lying on the bed, but she was still sleeping, without even the slightest changes on her face, as if all this had nothing to do with her.
At this point the flame of the candles almost disappeared – but the flame was not extinguished. The green flames were just like phagocytic cells eating up the orange flames, plunging everything into darkness.
But soon, the fire was lit up again. However, this time the flame of the candles had turn into a pure green. The three people sitting around the bed were submerged in green light, looking quizzically into each other’s eyes, but in the end no one could understand what was happening.
However, at this moment, everyone’s eyes turned towards the bed, they had heard Anna groaning.
Anna slowly opened her eyes.
“Anna …” Roland was shocked, she woke up?
Anna blinked a few times to clear her eyes, but then she smiled at him, stretching out with the open palm of her right hand, reaching for the Prince.
A mass of green fire was leaping up from her palm, quietly burning.
Roland didn’t know why, but he could understand what Anna wanted. He hesitated for only a moment, but then he slowly inserted a finger into the flame. The anticipated burning sensation didn’t come. Instead, it was just like being wrapped up in lukewarm water, it felt soft and warm.