Chapter 5: Conflicting Conclusions
Pulling aside the loose curtains that hung over the humble entrance of Valtan’s home, it was a complete opposite to the poor outside appearance of the house.
Inside, various bookshelves were lined orderly with books, while his bed of hay and woolen pillows was arranged in a tidy manner, free from any form of warping. Next to it was a cabinet with a big red cross meticulously painted over the front probably denoting it as the medical cabinet. Heavily scratched and slightly rotting wooden planks were nowhere to be seen in the well-kempt interior of his tiny abode.
Sitting on the bed with his gaze fixated on the ground, Valtan intertwined his fingers on his lap, as if heavily in thought. As if noticing my entry, he raised his face to look at me. The edges of his eyes were dyed red as small traces of tears subtly escaped his eyes.
“Ah right. You’re here. Come here, let’s get your wounds treated.”
Getting off the bed, Valtan wiped the tears from his eyes, attempting to regain his normal composure as he walked to the medicine cabinet.
Heeding Valtan’s instructions, I walked over and sat down on the bed, while Valtan was retrieving antiseptics and various other medical concoctions for usage on me.
It wasn’t long before Valtan was done with picking out the required medications and started to apply them on me.
With eyes that were full of concentration, Valtan slowly wiped my wrist gently with the wet cloth, before squeezing it to check if the vitality potion had done a good job from before.
An awkward silence soon filled the atmosphere as Valtan intently moved from my wrist to my back, and to, funnily enough, my thighs, thoroughly checking me for any injuries.
You know, this would feel a lot better if I was a girl… Unfortunately I’m not one so it’d be good if you could stop caressing me.
Feeling slightly uncomfortable due to more reasons than just the silence, I queried Valtan.
“Hey, Valtan… Aren’t you… Like afraid of Asclepius too? I mean he did try to kill us back there, you know? How could you trust him so easily like that?”
Valtan looked up and stared into my pupils intently for a few moments. His eyes were as cloudy as they were bloodshot, making it incredibly hard to decipher any other emotion other than the obvious sadness and frustration in his eyes. Going back to inspecting my wounds, he finally replied coldly.
“Frankly, I’m not too sure myself.”
“Huh? Then why?!”
I yelled at him.
If you’re not sure yourself, why did you even accept him as one of your own then?
With his face hanging low, Valtan mumbled softly.
“This whole thing is just one big messed up gamble. Accepting the one who killed the very men that trained under me with no remorse… Hahahah!! What kind of monster am I?”
Valtan laughed sardonically at his seemingly irrational decisions. Gripping the cloth he was using tighter, he started to apply more pressure on my scabrous skin.
“But as much as it pains me to do this… It’s… absolutely necessary for the success of the rebel cause.”
“Huh? What the hell are you saying? What importance does that monster bring to our cause? It’s nothing but a walking pillar of destruction and terror!”
“But it’s exactly because of that reason he’s essential to the rebel cause!”
Shouting tempestuously, he crunched up the cloth and slammed it into the smooth wooden floorboard, punching a fist-shaped hole through it.
Tiny beads of water dripped down his bent over face, forming dark, moist circles as they collided with the floorboard.
Silence once again permeated through the room as I didn’t dare to speak after Valtan’s sudden outburst.
Something in me wanted to console him but I neither understood nor could comprehend the reasons behind Valtan’s actions no matter how hard I tried. In fact, to me, his actions were nothing short of irrational!
Minutes passed as the atmosphere basked in the dead silence of the room until Valtan composed himself enough to speak out.
“A cyclops is an entity that has traded away its intelligence for brawn in a pact with the gods aeons ago. Born from the dust that makes the ground, they are akin to the living avatars of the gods. To actually find one that is sentient and moreover, willing to serve would bolster our war potential greatly…”
With an intense glacial tone, he finished off his sentence.
“…Even if it means replacing the very men he had killed.”
Blood oozed out of his lower lip as Valtan bit on it harshly. Frustration and stress made no effort to conceal themselves as they appeared through his tensed facial expressions.
It must be hard for him.
But why wouldn’t it be? They were people that had probably gone through the same rigorous training that I did. Coupled with Valtan’s care for the ordinary citizen, much less his own soldiers, the ones he lost could practically be called his very own sons.
Getting off the bed, I went beside Valtan and wrapped my arms around him.
“I’m sure it must be hard on you… But in the end, it is the leader’s job to make the hard decisions. Although I can’t say you made the right choice, I think you made the best one.”
As I said that, Valtan turned to face me, revealing a soulful face as he wrinkled his nose, preparing to let loose another flood of tears.
“Yeah. I Guess you’re right… Thank you.”
“Nah, don’t mention it. You’ve been doing the same for me for the past week or so, it’s about time I repay the favour. Hahah!”
Letting out one final sob, he wiped his tears once more with his calloused hands, slowly attempting to cheer himself up.
“Well, that’s enough about me. What about you? Have you come to a decision on whether you want to join us?”
Valtan turned to face me. With eyes that were welled up with tears, he peered straight into mine as if hoping for an optimistic reply.
I stared back at those eyes as I thought through his question.
Even though I won’t be able to go back to my normal life as a humble villager if I leave now, I don’t think I can commit myself to being a fugitive for the rest of my life either. No, I definitely can’t since Andromeda’s gone…
Alas, I couldn’t give him what he had hoped for.
“I’m sorry but I can’t give you an answer now. Could you let me think over it for a while more?”
He replied gently, forcing a smile to hide his inner sadness as he packed up the items that he picked out earlier and deposited them into the medicinal cabinet.
Sending me one final superficial smile, he started to make his way out of the room with his back slouched over.
Seeing the pitiful state of Valtan, I quickly attempted to brighten his mood by changing the topic. Coincidentally, a question that has been intriguing me for quite a while popped into my head.
“By the way, what’s a Festae?”
“Ah, right! It’s just a big drinking party for strong people like the Harbingers. Make sure you come later, alright? ”
Laughing heartily, Valtan said it in a way that made it seem like it was supposed to be common knowledge.
I frowned as I replied to Valtan with an apprehensive look on my face.
For idiots you mean…
Shrugging my reaction off, he once again started to stroll out of the room, but this time with his usual swagger.
Well, whatever. It’s good that he’s back to the being the same idiot Valtan I know.
Watching Valtan’s happy figure walk off, a sense of joy started to overwhelm me. However, it didn’t last very long because…
“Ah! Shit! I have to prepare myself for the Festae later as well.”
Spending more time with more war-crazed maniacs. I’m never gonna get a break, am I?
Comforting myself that everything will turn out alright, I shook my head as I left Valtan’s home, making preparations for the Festae later.
Written by: Emelia-Tan
Edited by: Schwarz13 and Mega14343
Proofread by: Yakult
(AN: Sorry guys but this will be the last chapter for Ascension for now as I put it on hold. Althought I'm really happpy at the progress of Ascension, there is still this lingering thought of "Hey, I can probably do better than this" that constantly lurks in the back of my head as I write every chapter and frankly, that's the reason why I'm putting it on pause as I want to improve my writing skills even further and come back to this masterpiece as I better every chapter after this. Thank you guys for the journey so far and I've really enjoyed it... but that is not to say that this will be the last as I will try and write one shots from time to time (so keep a look out for them ;) ). Once more, thank you guys for this wonderful ride and I hope you guys will stay tune to more of my works :)