Author:Yunzo/Alicemagic Update: 2017-04-26 [Prev] [Next] [Top]
While Eliza was preoccupied with healing, Gransel and Easem were talking with each other in a low voice so as the giantess wouldn't hear them.
"Judging by the robe, that's probably the priest right there. His body's completely crushed, though."
Easem responded with his arms folded.
"The priest... the ringleader himself, huh?"
Gransel nodded with his hand against his chin and went into a deep thought. He'd always considered resurrection to be little more than a miracle appearing only in fables, but if Eliza were to really succeed in bringing the priest back to life, they could undo whatever spell he cast on her, or at the very least make him reveal the exact details of the ceremony. More than anything, though, Eliza herself clearly wanted to revive him.
Even supposing if it'll work, though... what next?
Gransel wrapped up his ruminations and looked up at Eliza. It seemed like she just failed the ritual, as she was staring upwards with a disheartened expression.
"Can I talk to you for a second?"
The warrior kept his voice as low as possible as he approached her.
"Huh? Oh, uh, sure."
Eliza gave a him a quizzical look. Gransel proceeded with his line of questioning carefully so as she won't turn down his suggestion right off the bat.
"You were trying to resurrect that man, right?"
"Yes. I was thinking I might as well give it a shot."
Her tone lacked confidence, but her resolve was firm. It really did seem like she could pull through with just her size and willpower alone.
"That man being the priest himself, correct?"
"The same priest who mind-controlled you not even a few hours ago?"
"What's to say he won't pull the same tricks again once he comes back to life?"
"W-wait just a second!"
Eliza hastily interrupted him and, upon noticing that the two men were painfully grimacing due to her loud voice, covered her mouth with her right hand and continued talking in a gentle whisper.
"You're trying to tell me I shouldn't bring him back to life, aren't you?"
The unhesitant warrior gave her a reproaching glare. He continued speaking, his impenetrably firm attitude leaving no room for objections.
"What's more, do you not realize that resurrecting him here would just amount to killing him twice?"
"'Killing him twice?'"
Eliza leaned forward a bit and repeated Gransa's words.
"If and when he'll be put on trial, there's only one sort of sentence that could be handed down to a sinner such as himself."
Gransel's unshakable rebuttal pierced right through Eliza, and her glance slid down to the ground from her shoulders to her hands.
She was so preoccupied with trying to bring the priest back to life that the possibility of potentially inflicting further suffering upon him hadn't even crossed her mind. How would resurrecting him only to make him stand on the gallows be anything less than torment that makes a torture instrument out of mortality itself? If his execution was already set in stone, could it be that killing him here made no difference at all?
Eliza shook her head instinctively, and her long black hair swayed from side to side. However, no matter how hard she had thought, no matter how much she contemplated what to do in such a situation, her mind drew a total blank and her thought process kept going in circles.
Some time passed, and Eliza raised her crestfallen gaze back up from her lowered hands and sighed.
"What should I do?"
Gransel could only avert his eyes downwards in response. Easam, on the other hand, looked up at Eliza and opened his mouth as if about to say something, but the moment Eliza took notice and met his gaze, he cast his eyes down as well, as if unable to withstand the pressure.
Eliza leaned forward once more and asked Easem a question that she seemed to have already known the answer to.
"What about you? What do you think?"
Easem recoiled for a brief instant at the sight of the approaching giant bust, but quickly raised his eyes back up. Eliza's glance had already fully cornered the young man and showed no signs of backing off.
Easam felt that there was no slipping his way out of this one. He had no words of sympathy to offer, but there would've been no point in attempting to clumsily console her here. He sorted internally what he had to say once more and finally began speaking his mind with gritted teeth.
"I agree with Lord Gransel."
"I... I figured you would..."
Easem paced forward until he was within range of her lap and bent his neck upwards to look at the face that was almost directly overhead to him.
"I get that it's tough, especially for someone like you..."
Easem stopped to take a deep breath, and then continued all at once.
"...but don't you think that playing God with life and death just to escape your sin would only make for a bigger sin?"
"W-wait a second."
Eliza stiffened her body and spoke with an unstrung tone.
"What do you mean by 'escaping my sin'? That's not what I..."
She glared at the man standing by her lap and attempted to rebut him. Her right fist- larger than Easem's full body height- was tightly clenched, but he showed no signs of fear when faced with it or the passionate pair of eyes scrutinizing him from the skies above.
The tranquil Easem continued.
"That's not your intention, I know. You're just so desperate to save him right now that you lack the composure to think that far ahead."
Eliza's head slumped downwards a bit upon hearing that, and the way her pupils escaped Easem's own indicated that it wasn't a nod of approval.
"Sure, that's what makes you you, but... please, take some time to collect your thoughts first."
Their gaze met once more, and after a couple moments' worth of blinks, Eliza closed her eyes. Easem noticed her stern expression and stopped his lecture. He repeated several times over the motion of cracking his neck- stiff from constantly looking up- on its sides, and then lifting it back up to stare at her.
The long silence subsided at last when Eliza opened her eyes and simply said...
...shivering slightly as she did.
"I can... I can at least pray, though, right?"
She looked back and forth at Easem by her lap and Gransel who was standing behind him, and asked.
Easem immediately answered and looked back. A wry smile spread across Gransel's face behind him as he looked up at the anxious healer.
"You don't need to ask for permission to pray."
"U-um, I just... right. Sorry..."
Eliza weakly lowered her head. Easem sighed as he approached closer to her and softly placed his hand on her knee that was towering above him like a fortress' wall. He looked up at her and, as he had been half-expecting, she stared intently at him as if waiting for whatever words he had to say.
"Look, calm down. Everyone believes in you, I'm sure."
Taken by surprise, Eliza opened her eyes wide and pointed at herself.
"You'll believe in me?"
It was Easem's turn to look surprised. He knew that she felt responsible for the sin of causing a fellow human being's death with her gargantuan body, but he was caught off guard at the extent of just how cornered she must feel to ask such a question.
"What are you saying? Of course we will!"
Easem shouted in frustration and hit the 'wall' with his fist.
"You're the exact same person you were before. Just relax."
His punch felt incredibly weak to Eliza, and his raised voice came off as a whisper. Still, his words brimmed with such confidence that they managed to overcome the size barrier and resonated deep within the giantess.
(They'll believe in me...)
She earnestly thought so with no doubts in her heart. This man told her that despite her colossal size, and despite her sin of carelessly taking someone's life, everyone will still believe in her. Not only that, he went as far as to reassure her that nothing about her even changed.
A long sigh of relief escaped her mouth and, as if all her strength left her body alongside it, she hung down her head. Easem shivered as the warm exhalation hit his face. Eliza merely took her right hand, placed it gently on the tiny soldier's back, and said...
Eliza situated the priest's remains that were nothing more than a bloody holy robe on top of her lap, and placed her hands on the ground in reverence. Eyes tenderly closed, she began offering a prayer. Gransel, followed by the rest of the soldiers, paused their work to look in the direction of the voice that was simultaneously loud, yet gentle and melodious.
Requiems were traditionally to be carried out by clergymen, but it was not uncommon for healers to dabble in them as well. As such prayers would oft require coming to terms with one's own incompetence, as well as beckon the scornful glares of those who couldn't be saved, they were considered quite excruciating to perform and would regularly force Eliza to be struck with grief from the harrowing memories that tended to surface in the process. Her teacher would often tell her that being able to endure this grief was the mark of a true adept.
All of a sudden, a cold pair of hands seized Eliza's forehead as she was praying.
The otherworldly sensation on her temple was enough to make her shiver by reflex. She looked around her, but saw no changes in the scenery whatsoever. Just as she was about to close her eyes back and resume the prayer, a low, raucous voice began reverberating inside her mind.
(I've been waiting for you to call upon me... do you truly not know the procedure of resurrection sorcery?)
It was unmistakably the voice of the priest- the voice of his soul, to be exact. The moment Eliza heard it, she opened her eyes wide in surprise, but quickly lowered her eyelids back down as she figured the visual scenery might interfere with properly picking up on the sound.
(Then again, I suppose that's natural... it's too far removed from the standard curative arts that ordinary healers are accustomed to. The ritual involves calling upon a soul and using it to reanimate a lifeless body. Can you do that?)
(I think so. But...)
Eliza could only give half-hearted replies to the voice that was giving her instructions out of the blue. She wondered, did this man not hear her decision a while back to not give up on resurrecting him? The priest, on his end, seemed to ignore her as she was heating up with rapidly growing suspicions and simply continued prattling on.
(If you cannot, then let me do it in your stead. True to its epithet as a 'miracle among sorcery', resurrection possesses qualities that far exceed most magic; perform it crudely, and it may very well be you who shall be "called over" to the other side, with the sin of rebelling against nature eternally engraved upon thy soul.)
(B-but... what will you do once you're alive again?)
Eliza finally managed to slip in the question that had been on the back of her mind.
(There is no need to fret. If it is my fate to face the death penalty, then I shall march towards it obediently.)
The priest responded immediately and bluntly.
(Now, let us switch; entrust thy mana and soul to me.)
Eliza hastily opened back her eyes. She finally realized the true intentions lurking behind the priest's passionate lecture and apparent willingness to die a second time. Pulling herself back, she covered her ears with both hands while staring intently at her surroundings, but far from diminishing, the priest's voice in her mind only intensified and became clearer than before.
(Why do you refuse? This is not an unfavorable arrangement for you...)
Even shutting her eyes tightly and stiffening up her body as much as possible did little to dilute his voice.
(What are you hesitating for?! Swap with me this instant!)
As the priest's tone escalated to a shout and his voice echoed over and over inside her head, a chilling, amorphous touch suddenly brushed the nape of her neck, making its way down into her shoulders...
Eliza finally shook her head violently and screamed.
Easem, who was standing in front of her to check up on her strange behavior, received the full brunt of the air vibrations resulting from her cry, and fell on his rear after being blown back a few steps. The rest of the soldiers also stopped their work in unison to look at her.
Still sitting, Eliza bent her upper body over Easem and observed him from above. Albeit positively drained, he seemed to still be conscious as he rose up to his feet while leaning against the finger Eliza offered as support.
"Are you okay?"
"NO, I'm not fu-"
He looked up, ready to vent his frustrations at her, but when his eyes met her pupils that were about as big as his own face, he could tell how genuinely worried she was about his wellbeing. He couldn't bring himself to be angry with her.
"Just... give a warning next time you need to yell, okay...?"
Easem muttered as he changed the subject.
"So, did that guy speak to you or something?"
"Yes. It also felt like he was trying to force himself into my body, which is why I just sort of screamed..."
Eliza explained while slowly straightening her back. Easem could only watch on as the giant face that was on the verge of tears drifted away from him, when he suddenly felt something twining itself around his waist and lifting him off the ground. Before he knew it, he was being held between a warm pair of hands and was now at eye-level with Eliza's worried expression.
"I'm so sorry... I've hurt you so many times..."
Her voice was beginning to crack, and the sound of a delicate sniffle could be heard from her nose. Her half-closed eyes seemed like they were about to well up with tears any second now; a timid, sensitive demeanor that didn't quite fit with how she was easily holding up a grown man with fingers thicker than his torso. Easem could do nothing but sigh at the bawling face that filled up his entire field of vision.
"I get it already, so don't cry... besides, you still have something you need to do."
He tried rebuking her with a forced smile.
"You managed to escape his control, so you might as well heal everyone else."
"Oh, yes... y-you're right."
Eliza lowered the hands holding Easem to the side of her lap, looked up at the sky and took a deep breath. She couldn't hear the priest's voice anymore, but when she closed her eyes, thoughts of him still haunted the back of her mind.
(I'm prepared to make up for my sin, because there are people who will believe in me regardless.
...that's why I could never entrust my soul to you.)
The healer slowly reopened her eyes.
Looking down, Easem's curious look came into her view. Eliza simply nodded with a smile, as if to say that everything will be okay now.
The rest of the treatment went on steadily- or rather, much faster than usual. Even the soldiers who received wounds that would otherwise be fatal began slowly regaining consciousness thanks to her healing spells.
Under normal circumstances, as long as the physical body was still intact and the soul hadn't already departed, she could heal anyone by using sufficiently advanced sorcery, but she would usually get tired out after healing just one critically injured patient. It would be unfathomable to cure many people in quick succession like this.
"What incredible power..."
Eliza smiled from ear to ear in response to Gransel's words of admiration, and lightly clenched her right fist as she continued.
"I can still keep going. I'm not even the least bit tired!"
(...I'm pretty sure everyone's healed already...)
Some frank stupefaction was hiding behind Gransel's smile, but he couldn't bring himself to make any snide remarks when he saw just how overjoyed Eliza was at being able to heal so many people at once.
The cured enemy soldiers did not resist even when they were being tied up in preparation for being taken away. It was only natural, as not only were their hands bound prior to the treatment, but the healer that they had attempted kidnapping was now preposterously large and watching over them from intently above. Even the red battlemage was helpless to fight back, having had his wrists broken and vision sealed with a blindfold. As they ran out of the hairs that Eliza offered, however, the soldiers ended up tying him up with makeshift ropes crafted from cloth from the tent.
"Alright, let's go back."
Eliza chose a time when all the soldiers were assembled in one place to bring down her right hand to the ground. All she did was lower her palm a little, but that action was enough to create a breeze warm with her body temperature that gently caressed the nearby men. The top of her palm was about six feet square and its surface about ten to twenty inches high; one could only imagine its weight.
"Are you telling us to ride this?"
Quickly speculating her intentions, Easem looked up at Eliza and asked.
"Well, yes, that's..."
Eliza stopped mid-sentence to once again confirm the size difference between the gathered up soldiers and her own hand. From her perspective, the soldiers' shoulder widths averaged at about a seventh or eighth of her own. Even if they were standing upright and huddled together, it might be difficult to fit almost a dozen armor-clad men on top of her hand.
"It is a bit cramped there, isn't it...?"
Eliza muttered, seemingly dejected.
(If I'm going to be a giant anyway, it would've been nice if I was a bit larger than this...)
Ideally, she'd be able to accommodate ten people on her hand in a sitting position and still have room for more. That'd mean being around twice as big as she is now, but then she'd be over fifty times the size of a normal human. She already needed to be exceedingly careful when lifting people up as it were, but if everyone around her "shrunk"- from her perspective- to just barely one inch tall, she'd need to exercise even more prudence than ever before. Just then, Eliza's line of thought was suddenly interrupted by a strange chafing sensation on the back of her hand and her lap; curious, she looked down in front of her lap, and there she saw...
...the soldiers looking up at her in awe, with their stature seemingly reduced to half what it was until now- almost exactly "one inch tall".
"Huh? Everyone, why are you..."
Her thoughts cut off, and along them her words. She blinked a few times before trying again.
"...wait, am I the one who got bigger?"
Several of the heads staring up at her nodded slowly, with one man half-laughing as he clamored at her...
"What gave you THAT idea?!"
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