~ Chapter 60: An aunt's loyalty (Part 2) ~
Once my heartbeat began to slow down, I opened my eyes again.
“Thank you.” I said
“Are you alright now?” Reynald asked me in a worried tone of voice.
“Yes.” I nodded.
“Sister, I'm sorry... I didn't know it was this serious.” Melissa said.
I blinked a bit confused and then realized that everyone was looking at me. They must have been worried because I suddenly froze up like that. When it happened, I usually lost track of what was happening around me.
“I apologize.” I made a half bow at the waist.
“There's no need for that, but we're going to need you in top shape to get us out of this forest. I think I heard howl coming from over there, and there's no trace of that man anywhere. He must have fled.” Melissa said as she turned her gaze towards the trees.
“I see...” I nodded and then looked back at Reynald “How long was I... frozen?” I asked.
“Not that long, but you had us worried there for a moment. Your breathing was erratic. You burst into a cold sweat. You were mumbling something to yourself, and no matter how much Melissa called out to you, you didn't reply. I'm quite impressed that I was able to get to you.” he replied.
“I apologize... What of the children?” I asked.
“No need to, and they are both safe and still alive, but Cassandra fainted as well not long after Melissa took her in her arms. As for Leonidas, I don't know what to say... It's like he had the very life sucked out of him by some malicious god.” he replied.
“He must have been attacked by a spell or a curse. We won't know for sure until he wakes up and tells us. We'll have Melissa give him a proper check when we get back to your house.” I suggested.
“We will depart for the mansion right away.”
After he took a step away from me and went to speak with Melissa, I shook my head and rubbed my temples. The blood was still getting to me, but thanks to Reynald, it wasn't that bad. I was alright... for now.
The parents picked up their children and walked back the way we came. Before we left, however, I thought that it would be good to do a perimeter sweep and make sure the bastard who kidnapped them wasn't hiding in the shadows laying in wait.
The tracks didn't seem to indicate in which direction he fled, they stopped at one point as if he flew away. I thought that maybe I was missing something, so I looked more carefully. The scent of blood was a bit nauseating.
As I walked around the clearing, I spotted something in the grass. It was a piece of flesh. With the tip of my sword, I poked it and flipped it around.
The moment I realized what it was, a chill ran down my spine.
A heart? But this size... a child's? I thought and then the image of Leonidas when we found him flashed before my eyes. His chest... bare... clothes ragged... It couldn't be... his? another chill ran through my body.
Taking a whiff of the air around me, the scent of blood was definitely his, but was it really his heart?
I couldn't believe it and shook my head. It didn't make sense, it simply didn't. If this was his heart, then why was he still alive? Melissa couldn't have mistaken a dead body for a live one, it was impossible.
No, I did see him recover at an inhuman rate without needing any healing potions or spells. Is he a monster? No, he's my nephew... Maybe this is his Blessing... maybe, but... if this is his, how would the others react when they would find out? I thought and looked back at where we found the children.
Then I caught sight of the smoking tips of the trees at the edge of the clearing. Then, as my gaze moved further, following the straight line the burns made, I saw the mountain peak and the hole carved within it.
Such frightening power... But who... Leonidas? How? I thought and then looked back at the young boy that was carried by his father. A spell? Or maybe a Blessing? Is he the origin of that powerful light? I then turned my gaze back at the mountain Then... what would happen if the nobles caught wind of this before he learned how to control his power and defend himself from those who meant him harm? I gulped. I knew the answer. They will use him as a weapon. I thought.
My gaze fell back on the heart left in the grass.
The nobles can't ever find out it was him. This regeneration of his, this power, it has to be kept a secret until he's old enough to safely reveal it. I thought.
It was a bit hard to find out what happened here even if they traced the blood back to Leonidas, but if they found the remains of his heart, a lot of questions would be asked and some wouldn't shy away from trying to rip out his heart again to see if his regeneration really worked. After all, right now they held the rank of a Baron, the lowest among the nobles with claims to their own land.
I can't let them find out about my nephew... I thought.
There was no more need to debate over what I had to do. My mind was made up, and instead of turning Leonidas in as some sort of freak, I chose to protect him as his aunt.
Aiming my hand at the remains of his heart, I let loose a fireball, and its flames turned it to ash.
“What happened?” a guard asked when he noticed the fire.
“Ah, just a big spider. Don't you hate those nasty critters?” I replied and showed him a fake smile.
Once we returned to the mansion and Leo woke up, I would have to talk to my sister about this... As his mother, she had the right to know.
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