I have to make it.
The river surface is calm, but beneath, the water flow mercilessly. I thought I was stronger than this, but it appears that fighting that A-rank monster did take a toll on me. I had consumed a Recovery potion, but it's a slow affecting concoction. My muscles are still capable of walking leisurely, but swimming in a rush is a heavy job to do.
I don't usually save people, but when I do, I have to make it. The air mixes with water, entering my lungs, burning my nose and vision as I swim further to the middle of the river.
That figure never make it back to the surface, and for a moment, I float to see some kind of clue of where they might be.
"Here we go." Having saying that, I inhale a deep breath and dive in, focusing my vision. It's a good thing the river water is clean and there hasn't been any heavy rain in a week, making it clearer than ever. There's some shadow that might have been them, so I risk it and swim in that direction.
I've forgotten that I'm burning from the accidental water intakes. I'm only more frustrated that my body feels too sluggish. However, with a physique of someone who can beat A-rank magic beast without any wound, I finally reach the area and see the small figure's dark cloak getting stuck on a sunk tree trunk.
Is it them, or is it just their cloak?
I get some air back from the surface before diving in. For better or worse, it's them. I reach the cloth and tug it hard, but the water resistance makes it difficult to tear away. At this point, water might have filled their lungs for quite some time, so I'm racing against time to pull them back to the surface.
With air leaving my lungs, I need to get a breath in first, so I swim back to the surface. Before I inhale though, my eyes take a shadow of dried tree trunks with many branches that looks really solid. And it's approaching fast in my direction. It's vertical, so I figure there's more of that humongous trunk in the water. Of all the width of the river, it has to be in my direction, what a joke!
I rush back in. I can see the giant tree trunk approaching, it looks like a giant spiked club weapon. I hug the small figure with me and remove them from their clothes. The cloak makes up half of their intricate clothing, making his top body naked, and I can see that he's a boy.
"..Glub," I start losing my breath again, but this time, I make it back to the surface with him.
The washed trunk comes approaching, though, so I shield the small figure with me.
The hit comes.
Searing heat comes to my back, but I oddly feel no pain.
I just know that I have to make the boy breath again, but I can't do an elven nature manipulation magic. I look at his chest and the fact that he's pallid and not moving, so I take a deep breath and press his lips, push the air back to his lungs. I don't know why I did this before swimming back to the riverbank.
I would have done it several times if not for the fact that another shadow comes approaching.
Did someone choose this time to start cutting the wood of the ancient forest??
Curses fly from my lips, I swim back to the river bank. I lay down the boy's body on the dry ground and loom over him. I hit his cheeks several times. There's still baby fat there, even though his body indicates that he's in his late teens. Unblemished skin makes me think that he's some kind of scion of a rich noble.
"Hey, you! Wake up! Hey!"
He doesn't respond.
I have to make him breathe again. I pinch his nose and inhale through mine, before bringing our face close. Then, I seal his lips and blow some air to his lungs again.
I do that many times, but he's still not moving. On this distance, my elven ears can still hear his heartbeat, but it's growing weaker and weaker. He's still alive. I can't give up on him now. I need to do something.
A sudden urge comes to my mind, and I figure out that I have to do CPR on the boy.
Without mulling over the term, I press his chest hard and start pushing them along with instinctive rhythm.
"Come on!" I shout. Counting to eight, I pinch his nose and breath more air to his lips.
It takes a few minutes, and a few trials, plus I might have pressed his chest too hard a few times.
But he finally coughs out the water and vomits some food. I nudge him to the side so that he will be able to vomit them out to the side, holding his neck. Some of the vomit gets to me, but, most importantly, he's safe, he survives.
The anxiety that grates on me has finally receded, I exhale a deep breath.
It makes me wince. My back is in pain and it makes me groan. I rarely do so from pain, so it must be urgent, and...
My vision blackens, undoubtedly my body's response to dull the pain from my senses, and I think I might just die from water, again.
I feel like I've been in a long, long dream that spans of a lifetime. My head is buzzing and heavy, making me feel like going back to sleep, but I'm not ready for another lifetime-span colossal dream, so I just take a deep breath and let my sleep fade to awakening.
When I wake up, there's a ceiling that I didn't recognize.
It's heavily decorated with gold coating on the spines, and exquisite painting on the dome. They're not elven ceilings. They're more like human aristocratic ceilings. Just like European bedrooms, but... wait. What's European?
I shake my head, feeling some kind of new knowledge overlays themselves on what I'm sensing real time. I can't make heads or tails of what the overlapping thoughts mean to me, but I know this isn't home. Not in several different kinds of images that I associate with the word "home".
That is when I hear some steps outside the door. My ears twitch, and it actually feels a bit strange. I feel my ears and trace the elongated outline.
For some reason, it feels wrong.
But I'm a half elf, how can it be wrong? I don't always trace my ears, sure, there's no need of it, right? But I vaguely feel that my ears should be small and inconspicuous.
My train of thoughts are cut by the door opening. It reveals a maid with long apron. Some kind of short, thigh high apron appears in my mind instead, which is weird because I never have any maid, and especially not the inappropriate ones. The comparison overlaps with each other.
"Pardon my intrusion, Sir, I've been told to... oh!"
The maid's brown eyes widen in shock. Perhaps she was saying her standard procedural standard and hasn't realized that my eyes are open.
I prop myself up with my elbow and see that I've been bandaged. There's nothing painful about my movement, so my self recovery must have been activated for a while. My arms are still a bit difficult to move around, so maybe it hasn't been that long. Overnight, perhaps?
I sweep my bangs off to see around the room more clearly.
"I-I'm going to call for... uhm. The... uhm..."
She seems a bit loss for words, stammering and blushing a bit. I think I need to apologize for being in this inappropriate circumstance, but her nerves start grating at me.
"Physician?" I offer helpfully to end the stalemate.
She nods frantically.
Seriously, why is she so nervous? Did I accidentally turn up my murderous instinct?
"Y, yes, yes! P-please excuse me," she says nervously before putting the large bowl of steaming water and a dry towel on the carpeted floor.
I see, so she's supposed to be giving me a dry bath. Hm, I miss getting soaked in a warm pool of water, though. I need to go home as soon as possible, but...
I wonder what happens to the boy that I saved. If this place is his at all.
I slide my legs to the floor, testing. They're already strong enough to support my body. This kind of moment is what makes me grateful to be a half elf; I've always had faster recovery than humans or even elves---if said elf doesn't use nature magic, that is.
My feet bring me to the bowl of water, and I lift it off the carpet to the nearest table. After soaking the towel to the water, I wipe my face off. It doesn't feel dirty before, but after a comfortable, warm treatment, cool air makes me feel a bit more refreshed.
The water surface becomes still, and I can see my reflection.
And it overlaps with someone else.
I blink my eyes rapidly, but the image stays there, some kind of knowledge deep inside my brain that gets projected out. But, it's me. I know it's me.
I pinch my cheek, and find that not much can be pinched from this face. There are small changes from the two faces. My eyes are a bit larger, definitely not black. My brows are a bit more somber yet expressive. My lips are a bit different, and my nose is more pronounced. Small changes, but I think I look way more handsome. I feel like looking at some superstars in the television that looks kind of like me, with make up on and all the lighting that makes it look naturally captivating.
I keep having second thoughts about my impulsive responses to the world around me. It feels like learning how to walk all over again. It's weird, because I've known all of those things, but it doesn't feel superficial.
In any case, I feel like I have a renewed appreciation of the face I was born with. That should be something positive, I suppose.
"Oh, so you're healthy enough to walk around?" comes the voice of an old man with white beard and sharp eyes.
I can see the sharp grey color even beneath the bushy eyebrows. Just like all the physicians, he's wearing all white---coat, vest, shirt, and pants---even his hair. If I meet him in the streets, I'll be blinded.
He comes without being ushered. I thought he was going to tell me to go back to the bed, but he pulls out a chair and sits across me instead.
"Let me check your pulse," he says offering his hand open on the table.
I know what it means; I offer my arm while placing my wrist on his palm. It's a human's method, as elves will be able to hear what they want to hear from someone else, especially in this distance.
"...All right, I think your self-recovery is amazing. Or should I say, as expected from a half elf."
He notices who I am. Normally a human will think I'm a full fledged elf.
I didn't mean to hide it anyway, so I just nod and ask, "How long have I been unconscious?"
"A little over sixteen hours," the physician says. "I've checked on you twice. When you were brought back to the palace, and a follow up examination on the late night."
He said palace. Who was the one that I saved?
"The king himself will pay respect for you before his morning duties. Guess you should start thinking about a reward that you can request, eh?"
"Why would he give me some reward...?" I blurt out.
It's more like I want to sort out my thoughts, but the physician snorts unimpressedly.
"You saved the crown prince's life," he says, not even bothering to take out his tools from the bag he brings here.
I gape. "...We have a crown prince?"
This is a breaking news material. Not once in my whole life since we moved to Rozenier that I ever knew the existence of a crown prince!
"Well, no reason to hide it from someone who saves him, eh?"
For some reason, I think he'll get into trouble if he tells this fact to a mass of people.
"Anyhow, you've recovered but your muscles should still be sore. Here's some pills to enhance your body strength. Don't eat too much, they'll turn you into a nightly... beast." He hands over a bottle of pills.
I frown. "...Isn't that dangerous?"
"...No, not magical beast. But let's say some people will envy or fear for your girlfriend, depending on who you ask."
...Did he just hand over some kind of viagra to me???
"Or boyfriend, I'm not judging."
He just makes it worse. I'm not having this talk with a stranger. I won't.
I rub my temple and ask him, "I don't need any rewards, can I go home now?"
The old man's eyebrow arches. "Well, that's new. I don't think you can go before the king releases you. He's meek, but he's strangely strong willed about things like paying back his gratitude, so try not to think badly of him."
Is it really okay to talk about your king like that? Are you the king's advisor?
So I can't go home without permission from the king, and my physician said that he would come before his morning duties. I guess I need to wait, then.
But now, I wonder if it's a good choice of my father to move to this human kingdom. The king is meek, or so does the physician say. The hidden crown prince doesn't seem too hopeful as the successor of the throne. Was he sneaking out that resulted in him drowning? If he dies, the game won't be able to follow the course of its path!
Right, I know this. The hidden crown prince of Rozenier is one of the capture targets in that lewd game that my pervy twin sister loved to play.
...Twin sister? I didn't have any twin...
My head buzzed.
The physician stands up and I follow suit. Not wanting to make him reexamine my pulse, I straighten my face and wait until he goes away from the door, before going back to the bed.
Game, twin sister, capture target.
I know all of that because I'm...
Who am I?