It wasn’t long after that, that Tea and Juire came out to carry me out of the Arena. The whole way they were excitedly talking about something… but as soon as I knew they were taking care of me, I allowed myself to lose consciousness. Running out of mana again after so long hit me hard, and it was a struggle to stay awake once the adrenaline faded.
After passing out from sheer exhaustion, I expected my sleep to be more sound. A dream, a moment of fogginess as my consciousness returned, a grogginess that makes me want to stay in bed, anything at all. Instead, however, I wake up in what feels like a mere moment full of energy in a strange room I’ve not seen before surrounded by a white curtain.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” I ask out as I start to rise from the bed
I wave of pain shoots from my chest, which stops my attempt.
Oh, right, broken ribs.
I cast restore on myself, and slowly begin to feel the pain fade. As I do I begin to hear a commotion growing louder.
THUMP THUMP THUMP
“Lass! Are you alright?!” Tea yells as he storms into the room and pulls back the white curtain
When he does so I finally understand what room I am in. After I passed out they must have taken me to a clinic, as there are several other beds surrounded by white curtains in the same room. It is possibly even one specifically for competitors as I recognize two others who are resting on the beds as those I saw in the waiting area.
“Ya, I’m fine. I had a few broken ribs, but I just healed those up.” I say as I begin to get up from the bed
After running out of Mana I didn’t have any left to recover from the final blow Afuero gave me. I suppose I must have looked pretty busted up for him to be this worried.
“Not that! I mean that sounds pretty incredible, but they tell me you ran out of mana?! I thought you might never wake up! How could you be so stupid?!” Tea angrily yells as he tries to stop me from getting up
I’ve never seen Tea angry before. Looking at his face full of anger and worry I freeze in place. Guilt begins to well up inside me.
Right… Gero said that running out of mana can be fatal.
My thoughts are thrown into a jumble as I try to find the words to apologize. Although I’ve run out of mana before without dying, there is no guarantee it will be non-lethal every time. I did put my life at risk here, and there is no way I could tell Tea why.
As I sit there silently, grasping for the words to say, Juire walks in behind Tea and places a hand on his shoulder.
“Oh leave the poor girl alone. She clearly looks like she regrets it, though if I know her at all she still hasn’t learned her lesson.” Juire says in a rather strict tone as well
“The important part is that she seems to be okay now. Come, we should let her companions know that she woke up. I’m just glad it happened before they ended up doing too much damage.” Juire continues as he begins to pull Tea out of the room
“Wait! What do you mean?!” I yell out, but neither stop to answer me
They leave me alone in the room with several others who are resting on their beds, while giving me strange glares and stares.
Why couldn’t they have taken me with them? I already told them that I was healed up. I feel like I lost my opportunity to leave now… I hope they get here soon.
“MAAAANOoooOOoo~” I hear suddenly down the hall in a young girls voice
As it grows louder, Mana comes busting into the room and slams into me with a hug.
“They said you were hurt! Mana didn’t know what to do!” She says into my shirt refusing to release me from her hug
Stunned, I try to find the right words or actions, and instead end up frozen there.
“You know, we all know you are a special case, but you shouldn’t be so reckless,” Kera says as she walks in the with the rest of the group
The imps scamper in and rush to my side. Gero stands in the doorway, not moving at all.
“You can come in now,” Kiel says to him, and almost as soon as the words leave his mouth Gero appears at my side
…I still couldn’t even see him move there. Just how fast is Gero?
“Strange. I figured if anybody was going to be waiting here for me to wake up it would have been Gero.” I say jokingly trying to break the tension
“He would have been, but he was starting to freak out some of the other patients. He was super protective of you, and wouldn’t move at all while he was waiting. Eventually, I told him it would be a bother to you if he kept waiting there, and that he should wait outside.” Kiel explains
“… You all didn’t need to worry this much about me. I’m not that easy to kill.” I try to joke again, but everybody’s mood turns sour immediately when I do
“How exactly are you going to say that after the stunt you pulled? Even Gero thought what you did might seriously hurt you, and the whole time you were out you were beaten so badly that the best healer in the capital couldn’t even fix you up! You’re not powerful, you’re just stubborn!” Kiel lets out in an insulted tone
As soon as the words come out of his mouth he seems to regret them. He grows silent and looks away.
“Kiel is right. You have been far too risky lately and ignored nearly every warning you were given. For someone who claims to be fighting to survive you sure seem ready to throw your life away.” Kera continues
Looking around the room, I remember something I seem to have forgotten lately, or perhaps something that simply hadn’t fully dawned on me yet. People have started to care about me.
I had simply been thinking of things from the perspective of “someone that was going to die anyway if I couldn’t defeat the Yuusha”. As afraid of death as I have been, I had begun to accept it as the most likely ending. Whether I died by the Yuusha’s hand, Afeuro’s hand, or even in battle with a monster it would all be the same.
If I throw myself into every gauntlet along the way, however, I’m inevitably going to hurt those that care for me… Perhaps getting companions was the wrong move. Not only am I endangering them, but I’m quite literally destined to hurt them. After the tournament is over maybe I shoul-
Mana begins to squeeze hard enough that it becomes difficult to breathe.
As I look down at her, she looks up towards me. In her eyes, she seems to be begging something of me.
…I let out a deep breath as I make my decision.
“I’m sorry I worried you. I promise to be more careful from now on.” I say in a comforting tone as I pat her head