Difference between revisions of "Tsurugi no Joou to Rakuin no Ko:Volume 1 Chapter 9"
(Created page with "==Chapter 9 – Siege== The alliance treaty that was agreed on by the Seven Countries of the East when they assembled at Princinopolis was criticized by historians of a later...")
Revision as of 10:09, 25 March 2013
Chapter 9 – Siege
The alliance treaty that was agreed on by the Seven Countries of the East when they assembled at Princinopolis was criticized by historians of a later age as the most foolish agreement made in history. Although the treaty was later rescinded under Francesca da Zaccaria’s orders while a new military alliance was established, the armies of the Eastern countries were fettered by the Princinopolis Alliance before its revocation. The largest problem in it was a rigid, inviolable condition for the guarantee of mutual security— when any of the countries in the alliance was attacked, the other six countries were obligated to send reinforcements.
“If I was born ten years earlier, I definitely would not have allowed them to sign an agreement with such terms!” Francesca sat in the horse cart and said while gritting her teeth: “This would only allow other people to toy with the military forces of the Alliance as they like! What an unbelievably inane agreement!”
As Chris had stayed in the Celestial Army for a long time, he could not help but agree with her statement. Some generals in the Celestial Army even said in a jeering tone, we can play the Principality army for fools with just a little effort on our parts, like a child who is unable to counterattack, and can only flail his short limbs when you press down his head.
“But why did the Union establish such terms in the first place?” Paola asked Francesca while grinding herbal medicine.
“It was all for the sake of the protection of the Palkai churches spread throughout the countries. With the Archbishop tearfully pleading for their help, Grandfather had no choice but to agree.” Francesca said.
As the target of the Union’s opposition was the Celestials, who believed in Tuekay, the Union required a similar spiritual symbol to solidify their beliefs. Hence, they had to use the influence of the Palkai church. However, the Celestials had long seen through the weak link between the Principality army and the Palkai churches, and thus took the initiative to crush the territories of the church, and even brought down the holy ground of the Palkai church, Princinopolis, forcing the most authoritative Archbishop to abandon the Great Cathedral, seeking refuge at Santcarillon, which was located in Medoccia. In the end, only the Princinopolis Alliance was left between the Seven Countries of the East, and was completely unable to bring any positive effects, but merely caused them great burden.
“They then thought that the best way for them to form an army was to do it in the name of the church. However, the Great Cathedral fell not long after that, so of course they did not have the chance to form a combined unit. Our adversaries are quite sharp as well.”
Chris finally turned his gaze away— because the key person who brought down the Great Cathedral of Princinopolis was no other than Chris.
“Can’t Zaccaria just come forward to appeal to the other countries, gathering men from these countries in Zaccaria to form an army? The Duke of Zaccaria is held in high esteem by the other countries after all.”
Hearing Paola’s question, Francesca shrugged and said: “That won’t do. If we truly rebel against the Queen of the Celestial Kingdom, it would have to be in the name of the Palkai Church, as people are only willing to contribute their own power by answering the call of religion. Say, if we really wish to raise a rallying flag that is able to match the might of the Queen—“
“Haven’t you had enough yet? Can we stop discussing this topic? Having a rallying flag is completely irrelevant to this matter. Everything can be settled just by destroying the Celestial Kingdom.”
Minerva said coldly as her gaze continued to fixate on the scenery outside the window by Chris’ side with a look of displeasure lingering on her face from some time before. Chris was startled by the venom in her tone.
The two of them had just returned from the abyss of death that was the poisoned wound, and around three days had passed since they regained consciousness. Minerva never said even one word to Chris ever since that day. However, as they had just recovered, their bodies were still weak. Because of that, Francesca insisted that they should stay in the horse cart for the moment. In the cramped compartment, Chris and Minerva had to fidget between crates and baskets containing weapons in search of a comfortable space to rest on. However, even when their feet were close to the extent of touching, they did not look at each other, let alone talk. To Chris, it was absolutely torture. She did not talk much, and Chris never thought that she would speak as pointedly as that when she spoke.
Francesca responded with a faint smile. Minerva shifted her attention to Paola and said, “So basically, we are heading towards Medoccia just as a favor for the Archbishop? But speaking of which, being able to reach Santcarillon before it is surrounded or not is yet another problem.”
That moment, sounds of hoof beats before the cart suddenly intensified—
Gilberto lifted the curtain of the window at the side of the cart and poked his head in. That moment, he was riding his horse in step with the horse cart.
“There is a formation of the Celestial Army four kilometers away. They seemed to have started surrounding Santcarillon.”
“So we couldn’t make it in the end huh…… It can’t be helped then. Let us gather with the units of other members of the Union for now.”
“So you were planning not to meet up with the Union, and rushing directly into the city with our unit instead if we managed to make it in time?”
“But of course.” Francesca grimly brushed her hair back, “I, for one, do not wish to discuss vapid battle stratagems with them. Besides, breaking their web of encirclement is not difficult at all.”
Dusk fell. The Celestial Army was gathered before the streets of Santcarillon. Apart from Medoccia, the troops of the other six countries of the Princinopolis Alliance had already assembled on a hill at the exterior of the city of Santcarillon where the whole area could be seen. Among them, although some of the troops including the knights from Zappania had already received reports of the Celestial Army’s siege on Santcarillon, they just waited for the troops of the other countries on the hill without any strategy in mind, and watched just like that as the troops of the Celestial Kingdom completed their web of encirclement little by little.
— Looks like all of our efforts of attacking the stronghold modified from the monastery and delaying their troops from gathering had been all for naught.
— The Allied Army of the Union is so foolish, it’s no wonder people call them a ragtag army.
Right now, it was definitely possible for Chris to recall tens of jokes criticizing the Allied Army from the days when he was still in the Celestial Army. However, when he was among the Allied Army in person, he actually realized that the actual situation was far more laughable than the contents of the jokes itself.
“They say that the Duke of Medoccia is currently in negotiation with Lord Cornelius himself.”
“Good grief, this means we can’t attack as we like before they come to a consensus.”
With a leisurely demeanor, the commanders of the six countries sat before a meeting desk in a spacious tent. Chris observed the process of their conference while sitting behind Francesca. Seeing the cold, indifferent expression on Gilberto’s face, Chris couldn’t help but admire his astonishing patience, as he was still able to hold himself back when he was facing the situation before him.
“Is it true that they are willing to back down as long as the Duke of Medoccia hands over the Archbishop?”
“Apart from that, they demand the surrender of the city of Santcarillon.”
“Before we are sure of what the Duke of Medoccia wants, we are truly unable to do anything.”
Chris thought that it wasn’t the time for such foolish words. After all, Duke Medoccia was still in Santcarillon. With the presence of the Celestial Army’s airtight web of encirclement, it was impossible for the Allied Army to contact Duke Medoccia. Besides, if Duke Medoccia truly handed over Santcarillon, the time required for the Celestial Army to reach the six countries would only be around five days if they wished to attack.
Apart from that, Chris had long noticed that in their conversation, the commanders of the other five countries kept drifting towards Francesca. Complicated emotions were interweaved in those gazes, like they were thinking that it was inappropriate for a girl to appear on a battlefield. However, she was the daughter of the Zaccarian duke, so they could not afford to be rude to her. In addition, the fact that she won more battles than all who were present added together caused them to be wary of her as well.
That moment, Francesca abruptly stood up from her seat, causing the hearts of the surrounding generals of the other five countries to skip a beat.
“Generals of the Alliance, apart from we of the Zaccarian army, did any other country bring battering rams?”
The surrounding generals stared at each other blankly at her question.
The said battering ram was a cart carrying a huge pole used during assault to batter down the city entrance.
“Why would anyone bring battering rams? We are here as military support for Santcarillon. There shouldn’t have even been a need for that!”
“Why do we have to bring down the entrance of Santcarillon? That would only serve to gladden the Celestial King!”
“The way we are doing nothing right now is of no help. Thanks to the Duke of Medoccia for delaying the time of assault of the Celestial Army, we should now be breaking in through the east entrance, where the enemy forces are the least concentrated.”
Francesca’s proclamation caused an immediate commotion in the tent— Among the people present, not one had the authority to deny the chief commander of the Allied Army. Because of that, each of the generals of the other five countries raised objections at her words.
“Lady Francesca, please do not jest. If we are to bring down the east entrance of Santcarillon, the Celestial Army will attack right from that side!”
“Yes, that is exactly what I wish them to do. Currently, we are completely in the dark as to where they are going to attack. Because of that, we cannot even defend the city. However, if we open a hole in the dam, we can clearly know where the flood will be headed. What’s left would be for you to launch an attack behind the troops of the Celestials.”
Chris heard Francesca’s declaration before the conference table, dumbstruck.
“If we ask Sanctcarillon to let us in themselves, they will surely know that it’s our strategy to lure them out. So, we must break down the city door as though we are going to bring down Sanctcarilon. After all, if the Archbishop continues to stay in the city, waiting for Cornelius to capture him as he brings down the city, it will definitely dampen his enthusiasm, making him feel that the following battle is meaningless as well.”
At Francesca’s proclamations, the other generals continued to look at each other mutely, while she continued to speak in an icy tone: “Since no other units brought battering rams, there is no need for further discussions. We of the Order shall launch our assault at daybreak tomorrow.”
“Wait a minute! Zaccaria’s—” “You can’t just decide by yourself! The negotiations between the Duke of Medoccia and the Celestial Kingdom has yet to—”
After finishing her words, Francesca turned around and headed towards the exit of the military tent. Chris followed hurriedly. In the end, Gilberto, the last member of the Order left, walked out of the tent as well after stopping the protests of the people in the tent with a gaze.
Francesca said as she returned to the campsite of the Order:
“The worst outcome of this siege is for the Duke of Medoccia to open the city gate, handing over the Archbishop with no casualties for both armies. So, we must open the East Gate of Sanctcarillon while the Celestial Army’s net of encirclement is still imperfect. If so, when we bring down Sanctcarillon after it is taken by the Celestial Kingdom, Sanctcarillon will become our best breakthrough point.”
“Does that mean you are planning to give up on the city of Sanctcarillon?”
Chris said to Francesca with a look of disbelief— From her words, he perceived that Francesca proposed her strategy on the standpoint that Sanctcarillon was already under the control of the Celestial Army.
“What else do you expect me to do? It’s impossible to defend successfully in this battle. The Allied Army is in a state of complete disunity. Sigh, if the Archbishop did not escape to Sanctcarillon, but the Zaccariesco Castle, things wouldn’t have been so troublesome.”
Chris finally realized Francesca’s true intentions from her words. She was planning to charge into the city before the Celestial Army’s net of encirclement was completed to rescue the Archbishop first. After all, if the Duke of Medoccia agreed to negotiate with Cornelius of the Celestial Army, he would definitely hand over the Archbishop without hesitating. On that very instant, the Archbishop was probably breaking out in cold sweat as he looked upon the sea of purple flags outside the city. Because of that, Francesca’s rescue of the Archbishop would be her last move for her to gain control of the Allied Army— so that the whole Allied Army would unite under the Silver Hen flag of the Order of the Silver Egg.
“Chris, have you recovered?”
While asking, Francesca did not turn around to look at Chris. Chris was unsure if she perceived his nod.
The injury of his hand had already healed, and Nicolo could finally stop being shocked each and every time he examined Chris. The feeling of weakness that lingered in his limbs had completely vanished, and he currently felt only a slight dullness in his body, perhaps due to the fact that he kept lying on a horse cart before that.
— But where should I position myself on the battlefield this time? Is it really okay for me to stay in this campsite?
— Can I…… continue to stay by Minerva’s side?
Francesca seemed to have seen through the Chris’ wavering heart, “I want you to be our vanguard once again. The same goes for Meena.”
Chris returned to the tent shared by the Captain and Elite Guards before the others, due to the fact that his brands started to give off scorching heat. There should have been some time before the new moon. But for some reason, the brands on his forehead and the back of his palm already started aching after the end of the military meeting, when he was looking at the faraway Celestial Army surrounding Sanctcarillon. Chris wondered if it was due to the wound from the poisoned blades, or perhaps…… it was because he saw the emblem of two adjoining unicorns fluttering on the flags that was a purple more brilliant than the last rays of twilight.
Cornelius. His brand reacted the first time they met as well. That happened on the night before the new moon.
— Who in the world is he?
— He was dangerous. Just thinking of him gives me the chills.
— Not only was it due to his fiendish swordplay. Nor was it because of his cruelty.
— It was something that was much, much more abominable……
Chris could not comprehend it. The only thing he could be sure of was that his brand was hurting. He fled back to the campsite, not wanting Francesca or Gilberto to know about it.
The tent was devoid of any people. Everyone was out, in preparations for the assault at dawn of the next day. It was almost time for the sun to set.
Minerva and Chris were to carry out the assault plan after a little while. In the past, he had succeeded in tens of assaults. Hence, Francesca’s decision for him to take part in the plan was undoubtedly fitting, from a tactical perspective.
— Even though she knew that I am the Star Eater. That I was the cursed beast who left his comrades to die, living on by myself.
— That I was unable to protect Minerva from the poisoned blades.
— Or was precisely because I was by her side? The future of death that she was supposed to evade was brought into effect because of the beast in me?
— This time…… I might be the one to make Minerva die.
Minerva’s greatsword rested on one of the pillars in the tent. Once before, that very sword had shattered Chris’ weapon, the very sword that was supposed to kill Minerva.
Chris’ attention was suddenly attracted by something that was hung on the hilt of the greatsword. It was the white, wing-like robe that Minerva always wore on the battlefield, the top part of it where the collar and sleeves adjoined.
Why does she wear this when she is in battle? was the thought Chris had when he first saw it.
If I don’t wear armor, I can foresee any attack on me beforehand, was what Minerva had told him. Besides, carrying metal on me will only hinder my evasion speed. Watching from the sidelines, Chris could only feel uneasy about it, as Minerva was not completely immune to harm.
— Instead of wearing such visible clothing with wide sleeves while battling, donning light armor that can block arrows would be better.
Chris held the collar of the shirt that was stained a pale red.
— This is……
At the back of the clothing, there was a picture embroidered with cotton thread of a different color. As it was rather dark in the tent, Chris could not see the pattern of the picture clearly. He walked around the pillar, squatted down at the corner of the military tent and pulled up the thick canvas cloth of the tent, shining the light outside on the part of the clothing where the picture was on. He couldn’t help but gasp when he finally recognized the picture.
It was the picture of a wheel with open wings.
A symbol of the Celestials that she was supposedly unable to forgive— the goddess, Tuekay.
— On Minerva’s clothing, the Celestials’……
— This means, Minerva is truly……
That moment, footfalls suddenly rang in the tent. Chris looked around abruptly and saw a silhouette at the entrance of the tent, a person with red hair falling on her slender shoulders. It was Minerva. Chris reflexively grabbed the robe and hid it in the shade behind the greatsword, concealing himself at a blind spot of the tent with bated breath.
— What am I doing? Why am I hiding?
When she entered the tent, Minerva pulled down the veil at the entrance of the tent, shrouding the tent in sudden darkness. Chris originally planned to stand up and call Minerva, but was then halted by the subtle atmosphere.
Light footsteps approached Chris’ direction.
Sound of friction between clothing and body rang from the place where the footfall stopped. Chris almost cried out in panic.
In the dark space, he saw Minerva’s coat falling from her slender body. Among the faint light, the soft, lustrous skin had a tinge of light blue.
— Uh oh, I can’t possibly call out to her now!
Chris felt his cheeks burning. After that, a throbbing sound rang by his ears. He only realized after some time that it was actually his own heartbeat.
Minerva hugged her chest in the dark tent with her upper torso bare. Her exhaled breaths exposed the worry in her heart. Chris told himself that he should not look, but his eyes just couldn’t move away from Minerva’s body. However, when Minerva moved to loosen her belt, Chris couldn’t help but cover his eyes with his hands, flustered. Unfortunately, his movement caused him to bump into the greatsword by his side, making it ring out. Chris’ heart thumped, and he stood up abruptly. That instant, his gaze met with that of Minerva’s. He saw her staring at him with her large, widened eyes.
The white robe that was in his hands fell onto the ground while he was still in a daze.
“W- Why youuuuuuuuuuuuuu!”
He quickly turned around, but could clearly feel Minerva running over to grab her greatsword that she placed by the pillar, causing him to cry out hurriedly in panic: “W- Wait a minute! It was an accident!”
“S- Shut up and get out, idiot!”
Chris was unceremoniously kicked out of the tent. When he turned around, he saw Minerva’s flushed face and her breasts exposed under her shoulders. Blazing fury and utter shame burned in her eyes while she had her greatsword raised high. As she realized that something was off, she quickly lowered the veil of the tent entrance, blocking her from Chris’ view.
Chris knelt onto the ground and sighed heavily, as though he was expelling all of the fright he experienced. That moment, his eyes stopped on Minerva’s elegant curves, and just couldn’t move away. In his mind, he couldn’t even help but feel awed by the beauty of Minerva’s body, making him feel ashamed of himself for having such a reaction.
— Oh no, I might have seriously angered her already.
— Even so……
Chris’ calm composure returned when he touched the chilly ground and felt the solemn atmosphere of the soldiers in preparations for battle in the night.
— I have to ask her about it. Ask her about the emblem.
The veil at the entrance was raised once again. Minerva was clad in her usual battle garb, including the white robe. However, the emblem that Chris saw was concealed by her long red hair.
— But the emblem was indeed that of the Celestials.
“Chris, y- you- you fiend!”
Like a sign of an incoming storm, Minerva’s red hair shook tremendously, shocking Chris into moving backwards continuously.
“S- Sorry, w- well, I was just staying in the tent coincidentally, and I hid myself in fright when you suddenly appeared, and then—“
“You had better not try that another time! I’ll gouge your eyeballs right out!”
Just after Minerva said that, and was about to walk away from Chris, he called her from behind.
“…… U- um…… I- I saw it……”
“No matter what you saw, just forget it! I- I…… had never once let men,”
“N- No, I’m not talking about seeing you naked.”
When he mentioned seeing her naked, Minerva turned around with a venomous glare, making him explain in agitation while waving his hands:
“Well, I was actually talking about that emblem that’s on the back of your robe.”
Minerva’s expression froze in an instant, the redness on her face abruptly swallowed by the darkness of the night, while the glow in her eyes dimmed, and was replaced by a shroud of darkness.
“…… You. Saw it, huh.”
She sounded agonized, as though she was shoving a dagger into her throat. Chris could only nod mutely.
“It’s nothing. There is no need for you to know of this. Forget it. No matter what you saw just now, just forget it all.”
After saying that, she bit her lip in force, turned around and was about to walk away with her red hair swaying.
“Ah, wait a minute!”
Chris subconsciously reached out to grab Minerva’s wrist. She did not push him away, and instead met his gaze. Her eyes looked just like a lightless night sky of a new moon’s night, startling Chris into silence.
— She once said that she is going to eradicate the Celestials.
Even if Chris’ speculations were accurate, her motives still couldn’t be explained.
He could only force such simple words out of his mouth. His tongue had already dried up as he was contemplating on how he should start the conversation, and was thus unable to clearly ask what he wanted to know.
With a desolate expression, Minerva averted her gaze. That moment, Chris noticed the meaning of her evasion in her eyes and continued: “Why…… What do you fight for?”
“…… I have already said this before…… I wish to eliminate the Celestials.”
“Why? Do you hate the Celestials so much? And also, why were you targeted by the priests of Tuekay?”
“— Didn’t I tell you to forget it! This is none of your business, and you don’t need to know!”
“But I want to know!”
Minerva’s voice shook in her surprise. She gazed at Chris, her eyes gradually regaining its glimmer as the frost in it started to melt.
“I don’t even know what to do anymore. It was the same for that time, when I nearly let you get killed. I don’t want that anymore!”
Chris did not know whom he should protect Minerva from.
“Y- You—“ Minerva’s face approached that of Chris’, “Don’t you forget that you are just a slave. You just need to devour the scenes of me being killed in my dreams!” She held Chris’ right hand and raised it before her chest. Her black, pearl-like eyes were soaked in tears, giving off a lustrous light.
“I don’t want to be a replacement of your mother. E- Even though you are my belonging, you always place yourself in the path of danger without regard for your own safety……”
“— That’s not it!”
Chris grabbed her hand forcefully as well. The halting words from his mouth caused a hint of confusion to surface in Minerva’s eyes.
“I didn’t! This is completely irrelevant to my mother!”
— Perhaps, at first…… I did indeed treat you as a replacement for my mother, but……
“This might just be my stubbornness…… But. But whenever I see you, I just feel sad. You cry when you are asleep, but smile when your face is stained in blood. I just don’t want to see you like this.”
— If that is your fate……
— If that is truly the case……
Minerva flung Chris’ hand away, her agitation so intense that even her ears looked red.
“Why must I listen to you talking about this—“
She turned around and bolted from the tent. Looking at her disappear gradually among the campfires, Chris could not bear to give chase himself.
— That’s right…… How can I say that I want to protect her?
— Even now, the omen that I am to kill her with my longsword has yet to disappear.
— The one making Minerva feel pain…… The one bestowing death upon Minerva…… might just be me.
From the moment night fell, Chris leant against the pillar in the tent, staring at the tip of his sword touching the ground as he held it.
“The sword won’t get sharp if you just look at it. Go get a whetstone and grind it.”
A voice rang out abruptly, startling Chris into rising from the pole while barely managing to hold on to the sword hilt in his hand. The shadow from the silhouette standing outside gradually extended towards Chris, and finally stopped by his feet. It was Gilberto.
“And also, clove oil must be applied on the sword body. A lot of it.”
“…… Ah, okay.”
Gilberto walked towards Chris when he heard his answer. Chris heard scattered sounds of metallic objects banging against each other from his feet. When he looked downwards, he saw in shock that Gilberto had piled up lightweight armor, a pair of shoulder armor, and a pair of wristguards that exposed the fingers.
“This…… This is?”
“Armor. Can’t you see?”
“I, this…… I know that it’s armor, but why……”
“Aren’t your armor still undergoing maintenance at Zaccariesco? I found some replacements of similar type and weight for you. After all, wearing unfamiliar armor in battle might cost you your life because of small mistakes.”
Chris couldn’t help but stare at Gilberto.
— Why, why did he help me out to this extent?
“You aren’t acting as Lady Fran’s elite guard this time. It won’t affect her if you die, so just die if you want. But I’m just lending that sword to you. Bring it back even if you die.”
Chris was about to protest that it was an unreasonable request, but then hurriedly stopped.
— He- he’s actually trying to tell me to come back alive……
When he thought about it, Chris thought that he should just return Gilberto’s sword to him. After all, Chris killed Minerva with that very sword in Minerva’s vision.
— No, that would be pointless.
— Minerva once said fate that is set will surely come true, no matter in what form……
Chris thought that if he returned the longsword to Gilberto at that moment, though it was preposterous, the set destiny might propel Gilberto to pierce his longsword through Minerva’s brows.
“These are painkillers and bandages for you to change. Your wounds heal quickly, but it’s different for burns. I know that the wounds from fire arrows on your calves haven’t healed yet. Don’t just leave it.”
“Ah, okay, fine.”
Gilberto force the medicine and bandaged into his arms, making Chris’ eyes widen in surprise. He couldn’t react to Gilberto’s sharp powers of observations.
Apart form that, Gilberto told Chris to block his ears when the assault team rammed the city door with the battering ram, and bind his mouth with cloth to prevent debris from the city door from entering his mouth. All of that caused him to be unable to speak.
“…… Thank you.”
After a short daze, Chris finally remembered that he should thank him, and at the same time, returned the longsword to its scabbard and picked up the armor and bandages.
“No need to thank me. I’m not doing it for you. It’s for the sword I lent you.”
Gilberto stood up after saying that with his usual face devoid of expression. As he left, he muttered with his back to Chris: “And you won’t be a beast forever, will you……”
Chris watched as the silhouette clad in black armor left, thinking to himself that he was truly a mysterious person…… Chris could not comprehend what Gilberto was thinking about. The set of armor that Gilberto found for him fit him very well. He was surprised that Gilberto knew his size, and speculated if Gilberto was able to guess so accurately by just looking.
— But Gilberto……
— Sorry, but I might not be able to return this sword to you…..
Chris decided, if he was unable to devour the death signs on Minerva, he would jump into the sea while holding the sword. Because there was probably no other way he could protect her apart from that.
— I never thought that I would actually think of protecting someone……
— I never thought…… that I would meet someone in this way as well……
In deep thought, he tied the longsword Gilberto lent to him on his waist and stood up from the ground.
Battering rams were originally tools made by tying tree trunks onto a cart, but in its evolution, eventually the cart and ram were made bigger and bigger, even spreading beast fur on the wood to prevent enemies from attacking with fire arrows, and was then replaced with eaves after further revision, almost turning into a portable mini-fort.
Chris and Minerva stood between the shields erected at the two sides of the cart. Dawn was approaching, and it was only an hour from the agreed time.
Why must we be stationed at such a cramped place, Minerva predictably complained to Francesca. However……
“Well, the reason I arranged for you to be at that position is for you to stay hidden from the view of the Celestial Army right until the last second.”
The young, beautiful Captain proposed her idea:
“The best conditions for this plan is for you to dash into Santcarillon with both parties oblivious of what is happening, and when they finally realize it, we’ve already kidnapped the Archbishop, and are going to retreat. So, do not wait until daybreak to start the plan.”
Under Francesca’s arrangements, the hundred-man team from the Order taking part in the plan did not stay in the cramped space with Chris and Minerva. Instead, they were to dash inside after the city gate was brought down, just like any other sieges. Because of that, if the two elite guards were seen too early, the true intention of the strategy— to rescue the Archbishop from the surrounding Celestial Army— would be seen through. She said: “Many people had long seen what the Salt Sprayer and the Star Eater looks like, after all.”
Apart from that, second and third groups of assassins targeting Minerva might have mixed into the enemy troops as well. Because of that, in the pitch-black conditions, Chris was to squat behind Minerva, waiting until dawn with their backs to each other in the cramped space filled with the smell of hot iron and burnt soot before appearing when they were needed.
Holding her greatsword in her lap, Minerva squatted with her back pressed on that of Chris’, not saying one word. The pressure it caused on Chris was like a piece of lead heavily pressing on his heart.
— Never mind other things now, just focus on the mission…..
— The most important thing is for Minerva and I to survive in this assault plan.
The more he told himself that, the more he felt the warmth on his back. He could almost hear his thumping heartbeat. However, that might have just been the sounds of cartwheels rolling over pebbles as well.
A faint sound slashed through the silence of the night, causing Chris’ back to freeze and straighten in fright.
It was Minerva’s voice.
“…… W- What’s the matter?” He forced out an answer in response.
“Don’t turn around. Just listen to me like this.”
Her words were like a nail that was hammered onto Chris’ body, making him lower his slightly raised body once again.
“Do you really wish to know about me?”
Chris did not answer, but just nodded in response. The action was spread to Minerva through their backs closely pressed together.
“What do you plan to do even if you know? You are still unable to do anything, but that would increase the burden in your heart.”
“But then, at least……”
Chris muttered while facing the longsword propped in front of him:
“At least the burden in your heart might just lighten a little.”
After that, the sounds of moving cartwheels covered a long period of silence. Then, Chris heard Minerva speak in a faint voice after inhaling deeply:
“In my dream of you killing me…… I heard you mentioning your mother for quite a few times now. You said that she was killed right in front of you……”
Chris closed his eyes, allowing himself to sink into the fragmented voice behind him that was like snowflakes falling onto the ground.
— If I am to take Minerva’s life in the set destiny, why did I say all that to her?
— Was it because her image overlapped with that of my mother’s in my heart as she lied in a pool of blood?
However, it was fate that they had already changed, and thus Chris was never going to find out the answer.
“I am the same as you. I, too, saw my mother being killed before my very own eyes.”
Chris held back his impulse to turn around, and waited for Minerva to continue her words.
“That wasn’t an oracular dream. My mother was indeed killed before me. I saw my own father kill my mother with my very own eyes.”
— Minerva said so that time as well, that she was unable to save her mother as well……
That moment, Chris could feel Minerva trembling from his back.
“Why did your father……”
Minerva continued to exhale chilly air after Chris’ question. Chris could feel her hesitating if she should continue her words.
“…… Our family has the bloodline of shrine maidens. We can only give birth to women, and looking from the perspective of raising children, their bodies are rather fragile. My oracular powers were inherited from my mother. It is a power passed on from generation to generation in my family, and had been inherited from a long, long time ago.”
Chris could sense that Minerva was pouring her heart out, resting the weight on her on his back.
“Mother told me that this power exists to protect the women in our family from disasters…… It will predict the process and pain of our death so that we can avoid our fate of dying.”
— The power to protect Minerva and her family from disaster……
— The power to be rid of misfortune……
“Originally, we could only see the death signs that would happen on us. However, after the masses found out about our powers, they gathered by our side to use it, and at the same time thought of many ways to change our power. For instance, they found a way for us to predict the most suitable man to marry for us to bear children……”
“— Marry…… How could this be done?”
“That was why my father killed my mother……”
Chris could not comprehend the meaning of Minerva’s words, and thus his mind worked in frenzy. At the moment when he was about to ask directly, he suddenly thought of a plausible explanation, and thus couldn’t help but gulp.
— If the women in Minerva’s family can only see their own deaths……
— Then if there is a rule that allows their husbands to kill their own wives……
— If so, the conditions of the women in Minerva’s family predicting their own deaths— predicting which man was to be their killer, would be met……
Chris couldn’t help but raise his hand to cover his mouth— It was a terrifying idea. It was just too twisted. Such a rule shouldn’t have been enacted……
“They often used the power of of family just like that. And for us to be able to see the future more clearly, they often used on us medication that could increase sensitivity to pain. I was forced to drink it quite a few times as well. Instead of that— Instead of doing that……”
Unconsciously, Chris’ hand that was not on his mouth was already gripping Minerva’s palm, while the fingers clasped on his palm were tightly clenched on his flesh.
Enough, no need to say anything more…… Chris wanted to stop her, but he couldn’t make any noise.
“Instead of that, dying would be a better option…… After that, we were brought to various places to predict wars and calamities. Just like that, my mother, mother’s mother, and mother’s mother’s mother…… All of the women in my family were worshipped as Goddesses.”
Worshipped as Goddesses— Chris knew what deity Minerva was referring to: The goddess manipulating fate, symbolized by an emblem of a winged wheel. Tuekay.
“When a female is borne to females of our family, the mother would be killed by the husband, allowing the daughter to inherit the our ancestral power. This nation was built upon this cycle of murders. And I, I was actually supposed to inherit this tradition……”
— That’s right, then why would Minerva be here?
“But I ran away.”
Deep sorrow could be hear in Minerva’s voice. The greatsword placed horizontally by her side shook.
“I, alone, escaped…… Leaving my sister, whose powers are far inferior to me, and fled. While she, Silvia— she became my replacement!”
Minerva shouted as though trying to release from her throat all of the tears that she was holding back:
“She was immersed in medication from head to toe, and was in an abyss of pain even when her eyes were open…… She will soon be forced to marry, bear children and then get killed. All of that is for the sake of this country…… I definitely…… definitely won’t allow something like this to happen……”
Chris could feel Minerva’s agitation from the hand that he was holding.
“I definitely won’t allow this to happen— Unforgivable…… The whole Celestial Kingdom is unforgivable! I will burn it all down to ashes! I will prevent this twisted cycle from going on— I am going to sever the bloodline of the Celestials!”
That moment, Chris felt the warmth from Minerva’s hand fade gradually.
— To exterminate the Celestials, the meaning to those words were……
“Before that, I cannot die.”
Chris replayed Minerva’s words in his mind.
I am going to end the bloodline of my kin. Before that, I definitely won’t lose my life easily— All along, whenever the crimson radiance of death so beautiful that it made one unable to turn away was shone upon Minerva, she would repeat those words in her heart again and again.
— That means…… Minerva……
That instant, Minerva raised her head abruptly as she sensed something wrong. Loud noise started ringing in the surrounding darkness. The sound of the battering ram cart moving over sand, the whistle of arrows soaring in the sky, the sound of crackling flames and war cries of soldiers. The assault unit of the Order had started their attack. With a bang, the cart slanted and dashed forward through momentum. Because of the dash, Minerva and Chris nearly fell onto the wooden floorboards of the cart. On the next instant, the impact of the battering ram ramming heavily on the door mercilessly shook them.
“Stop! Return the battering ram, hurry!”
Riding on her steed, Francesca hurried down from the hill where the city door loomed, shouting at the captain of the hundred-man assault unit with the supporting archery unit in a formation behind her.
“What? Stop? Are you telling us to give up on the mission?”
“No! Lady Fran!”
Giving chase on horseback from behind, Gilberto arrived with a loud cry. That moment, a tremendous sound suddenly rang at the battlefield where flaming arrows crossed like the rain. Under the sky that was gradually lightening at dawn, the outline of the city door that looked faded under the dark rays of light gradually grew clearer, at the same time exposing its irregularly inclined angle— the city door had been brought down. The assault team started their attack on the city.
“If we retreat at this time, we will be trapped in a pincer attack by the Celestial Army from two sides!”
At that point, Francesca realized as well, that she had lost her usual calm decisiveness.
(What do we do if it can’t be stopped? Use the whole unit so that the assault unit can retreat?)
(No, it’s better to break the floodgates after confirming that the Allied Army started taking action— Wait, no, it’s too early for that!)
(Then should we patch up the problem by pretending to take the enemy’s battering ram, faking an attack to make time for the assault unit to retreat?)
She thought at whirlwind speed, of all possible ways to solve the problem, and dismissed all unsuitable options.
“E- Excuse me……” At a side, Paolo asked timidly: “Why do we need to abort the operation all of a sudden? Did something happen? The Celestial Army is in a mess right now, and we’ve brought down the city gate as well. Now, we only need to wait for Meena and Chris to complete their mission, isn’t that right?”
As Paola had said, Francesca’s battle plan was proceeding smoothly. When Zaccaria’s Order of the Silver Egg took aim at the city gate of Medoccia, that was supposed to be a member of the Princinopolis Alliance as well, the Celestial Army fell into disorder. After all, it was neither an attack on them, nor an attempt to escape. As the Celestial Army headed sluggishly towards the East Gate, they were instead ambushed with an arrow rain from behind by the prided archery unit of the Order, exacerbating the confusion of the situation. That moment, the city gate had been brought down. Apart from Francesca’s only miscalculation, every aspect of the battle plan was executed perfectly.
(Why didn’t I realize this earlier!)
Francesca gritted her teeth and urged her subordinates to request for backup from the Allied Army.
There was already a sign for the miscalculation. The reason of the Celestial Army’s sluggishness was due to the absence of their commander. However, it was already too late by the time Francesca realized it.
“Paola, I will enter the city if necessary. I will not allow my subordinates to die because of my miscalculation!”
“— Miscalculation? You are referring to?”
“The location of negotiation between Medoccia and the Celestial Kingdom is in the city of Santcarillon. I never thought that that man would actually sneak into enemy territory alone, staying in there after that as well……”
“That man is……”
The room Medoccia arranged for Cornelius was located at the top floor of the Santcarillon Castle. Pushing away the curtains, he saw an image of confusion in the courtyard. That moment, not only the troops of the Order of the Silver Egg were in Santcarillon, but the Celestial Army and the Allied Army as well, resulting in chaotic battle.
(It’s the girl from Zaccaria, huh? Decisive, as always……)
After changing, Cornelius adjusted his collar after confirming the objects on his waists, a wry smile on his face.
“My lord, according to reports, the rebels’ target seems to be the room of the Archbishop of Palkai.”
Voice of a guard rang from outside.
“Got it. I’ll go there right away.”
After answering Cornelius glanced at the dark bedroom.
Ignoring the objections of the other people, he had brought four guards into the city for negotiations with Medoccia. The reason he stayed was to reassure the Duke of Medoccia. However, things were different now that it turned out this way.
Walking to the end of the corridor, Cornelius looked around at the guards by his side. With a hand gesture, he told them that he alone would suffice in getting things done.
“Say, you’ve confirmed that there’s a red-haired girl among the assault unit, is that right?”
“I saw it with my own eyes. She is probably the Salt Sprayer. She is very experienced in battling.”
The oldest among the guards answered. Cornelius was satisfied with his answer, and set out without a further word.
“And also, My lord. The beast’s son is in the same unit as her as well.”
Cornelius couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the guards’ addition to their report.
(I see now. The so-called fate is truly smiling on me, Chosen One of the gods. Is the meeting this time predestined as well?)
Cornelius already knew that the Duke of Medoccia would not hand the Archbishop over to him so easily, but he had already found out the location where he was hidden. However, since the situation turned out like this, the Archbishop didn’t even matter anymore. Cornelius even ordered his guards not to stop the Order from taking him away. After all, if they were to escape with the Archbishop, their chosen routes of escape would be largely limited.
Cornelius turned into the entrance of a high tower at the end of the corridor, and ran down the spiraling stairway made of stone bricks. From the stairway, he could hear footfalls from another group of men.
(As I had expected.)
From the platform of the stairway, he turned into the stone arch entrance of a bridge connecting the two towers. Countless footsteps stopped together at that moment. Even the footfalls of his guards behind him vanished on that moment as well.
Cornelius pulled out his sword as his lip curled.
Tens of young knights blocked the pathway before Cornelius. Among the armored knights, Cornelius could see the silhouette of the Archbishop’s yellow robe. However, his gaze did not stop on that person, because what he was more concerned of was the red-haired silhouette that was still extremely visible under the faded light.
Chris could clearly see fear from Minerva’s face as she stood beside him. He gripped the sword hilt in his hands, focusing on the man standing at a lower position of the arch-shaped corridor. Indeed. It was the general he saw that time, Cornelius, the Royal Consort. Chris had no time to think of the reason he was in the castle so early in the morning. That moment, Minerva finally snapped out of her terror, and shouted at the other members of the Order:
“Retreat! Hurry up and take the Archbishop away! Leave two units to defend against them!”
Chris heard the obese Archbishop squawk for a moment, and then a unit of ten could be heard sprinting away along with the Archbishop.
That moment, Cornelius moved his body slowly, but then disappeared from his original position on the next instant—
“Wha—!” “Mn? Ah?” “T- This guy!” “Uwaah!”
The knights blocking the corridor in a line wailed at the same time. Broken blades flipped to the ceiling, while blood spilled onto the stone steps and clanking friction of armor parts rang out, fusing into an unbelievable scene. With just a few light touches on the enemies before him with his long sword body, Cornelius effortlessly toppled a few of the elite members of the Order.
Cornelius did not kill them. The limbs of the knights of the Order sprawled on the ground were still trembling slightly. With their eyes wide open, they were actually still conscious as well. It’s the skill that I saw that time, Chris realized as the muscles on his shoulders froze up.
The four guards who were standing behind Cornelius quickly dashed forward to surround their liege lord, occupying the space where the tens of fallen knights were originally standing. Minerva lowered her body and raised her greatsword in a stance, glaring at Cornelius with her guard up, unmoving.
“My lord, the Archbishop has—“
One of the guards spoke to his liege lord while his gaze was fixed on the knights.
“Never mind him now. Right now, Her Majesty is more important.”
Cornelius answered his subordinate with a chilling cackle, and then fixed his eyes as cold as metal on Minerva.
Her Majesty— Cornelius did indeed say that. Chris and the knights standing by his side could all hear it clearly. They probably noticed the effect of those words on Minerva as well.
“It’s been awhile, Your Majesty. The last time I saw you was probably at an age when I was still not allowed to have a sword.”
One step after another, even unhesitatingly stepping on the bodies of the knights sprawled on the ground, Cornelius slowly approached Minerva. Chris raised the tip of his sword to eye-height, and stood before her, as though to protect Minerva.
“Lady Silvia said that she wishes to see you, since she often saw Your Majesty’s silhouette these days.”
“Shut up…… I don’t even know you!”
“How can you say that you don’t know me, the one who might be your husband?”
Cornelius’ chilly tone sounded rather joyous. His words caused the knights who were still standing to look back at their comrade— Minerva, while breaking into whispers. Chris suddenly felt the pain of a thousand blades on his heart, feeling a dark impulse form in his heart, making him feel like biting everyone apart from Minerva to death.
“In contrast to Lady Silvia, Your Majesty is able to see the future without medication, isn’t that right?”
Hearing Cornelius’ words, Chris saw Minerva raising her greatsword from the corner of his eyes, the tip of the blade reflecting the luster of metal.
“You swine, what did you do to Silvia!”
The instant he saw the red hair swaying, Chris’ consciousness was completely taken over by the flash of red. The blood in his body boiled like molten iron, occupying each corner in hid body, propelling him to dash forward unconsciously. A beast-like roar escaped from his mouth as he jumped across the fallen knights of the Order, darting directly towards Cornelius. However, the guards guarding Cornelius hurriedly raised their swords and rushed over to him as well.
The instant blades were withdrawn from their scabbards, a fatal sound rang out from the impact of hard metal, flesh and bone breaking together, and reverberated on the stone connective bridge. Splattered blood stained Chris’ cheeks. Cornelius’ four guards who were without armor had their wrists, arms and abdomens torn apart at the same time, falling by Chris’ sides in pieces. He, on the other hand, lunged at Cornelius along the momentum from the slash. Against the powerful strike, even Cornelius couldn’t help but back away a few steps, blocking the attack with his slender longsword.
As Chris fell onto the ground, he unhesitatingly pierced through the stone corridor floor with his longsword. If not for Cornelius’ quick movements, the Royal Consort would probably have been sliced into two. Chris wiped away the blood on the sword as he screeched.
“Ho, a battlefield of that extent was indeed not enough to kill you, beast’s son!”
A smile surfaced on Cornelius’ face. Under his gaze, Chris finally noticed that his brands were stinging due to the scorching heat it was giving off.
“I am extremely pleased. You are a supporting character that cannot be absent in my life, after all. Because—“ Cornelius raised the slender blade to eye level, a petrifyingly twisted expression appearing on his face: “Because you must be the filthiest one of them all.”
Just ignore him, don’t listen to whatever rubbish he is spouting. Chris resisted his urge to retort and forcefully kicked on the stone floor.
“Chris, the one who should take his life is MEEEEEEEE!””
A voice rang behind him, and at the same time, red flames dashed past Chris. On the next instant, metallic luster of a blade swung at Cornelius’ skull in an arc. The high-pitched sound of metallic collision rang. With his slender sword, Cornelius brushed the attack from Minerva’s greatsword away, changing the path of the arc to cut the stone floor. Minerva pulled her greatsword and turned around to retaliate, but her attack was again deflected by Cornelius’ sword.
The force of Minerva’s greatsword caused Chris to be unable to approach. However, the pulses of his brands on his forehead and the back of his hand continued to aggravate his nerves.
— What is wrong with this man.
— From where does he get his power? Actually being able to deflect Minerva’s greatsword so easily……
That instant, Chris noticed something off— similar to him, the back of Cornelius’ right had was emitting a pale radiance as well.
Cornelius flicked away Minerva and her greatsword with his attack. Before she fell onto the stone floor, Chris reflexively caught her. He bent his knees to pick up Minerva’s slender body, and raised his head to shift his attention towards the young Royal Consort.
The radiance on his hand was from an insignia grander than that of the one on Chris’ hands.
— It can’t be mistaken now, it’s a brand.
“What, do you feel surprised?”
As he spoke, Cornelius raised his longsword before him, showing off the glowing brand on the back of his hand to Chris.
“Have you never thought that if there can be a filthy, cursed brand on you, there might be another with a brand signifying fortune in this world?”
From Cornelius’ mocking words, Chris could feel terror that almost tore his body apart.
— Who. Who is this guy……
— And who, am I?
That moment, Minerva struggled while moaning, trying to break free from Chris. She gripped the greatsword in her hand and was planning to stand up. Meanwhile, Chris saw the same brand on Cornelius’ left hand glowing like pulses of blood, making him feel a chilling cold on his spine all of a sudden. When he turned around in unease, the scene he saw almost made him loosen his longsword.
The knights of the Order who were originally lying on the ground had stood up, surrounding the kneeling Chris and Minerva. Their arms holding their blades were twisted in an abnormal angle, while their harried footsteps were like that of drunken men.
— Is it possible!
“S- Stop!” “W- What’s wrong with this……” “B- Blast……”
That moment, every one of them were still conscious, but it was as if their bodies couldn’t be controlled by their own thoughts……
All of a sudden, Chris saw one of the knights swinging his sword at them. Chris reflexively grabbed Minerva and rolled on the ground. Instantly, sparks appeared at the place where they were previously squatting.
“Hey, wake up! They’re our comrades!” “Don’t come closer to me!” “Have you gone crazy!”
Among the clashing blades, the knights of the Order continued to call out in shock. Minerva stood up from the ground first, while Chris could only stand up after a coughing fit as his back had rammed onto the wall. On the other hand, the knights who were not attacked by Cornelius blocked the attacks of their comrades, backing away while crying out.
“Stop it— Blast!” “Damn it!” “Meena! Run away!”
As the three knights raised their blades against Minerva, they shouted warnings at Minerva as well. It was painful to hear them. Minerva painstakingly shielded herself by blocking herself with the greatsword.
“Y- You guys, what’s wrong—!”
“I- I don’t know! My body’s moving by itself!” “Meena, just run away without us already, if not—“
Minerva blocked the blades that were swung at her, but was still forced to the walls by her comrades. That moment, Cornelius’ laughter floated over from the knights’ backs: “Now you understand. This is my power. The power of one who is chosen by the deity of fortune!”
“Cornelius, you swine—!”
Minerva gritted her teeth and dashed forward, but was caught by Chris. Leaning against the stone wall, he searched for a route of retreat. However, their comrades continued to attack swing after swing, continually targeting their limbs. To shield Minerva from behind, he was slashed on the shoulder and the thigh, and cried out in pain.
“Just don’t harm his eyes and voice. Attack his limbs as much as you please!”
Under Cornelius’ orders, the knights he controlled bled as they painfully gnashed their teeth, but was unable to stop themselves from slowly approaching their comrades. That moment, the brand on Chris’ forehead finally exploded in scorching pain. At the same time, calls of the beast in his body started to resound in his mind—
(Devour them all!)
A blade was thrust at Chris’ throat. He caught it with his left hand. The tip of the blade pierced through his palm, at the same time pricking the center of the insignia on his forehead. The brand shone with a white light in the trail of blood as the blood trickled into Chris’ eyes, dying his vision bright red.
Chris howled. On that instant, that sound was already not that of his own consciousness— not one that a human would make. As he viciously swung down his right arm, the air resistance made him feel as though he was slashing through cloth. With his attack, a pair of arms was severed along with their armor, and flew into the wall. Blood of his adversary dyed Chris’ vision a more brilliant red, and at the same time completely covered his consciousness. After that, he thrust his sword at the throat of a comrade who looked as though he was begging for something in his terror, and the same time dashed at other people while using the dead body still on the sword as a shield. The blade drew out an arc in mid-air, even springing severed heads to the ceiling. Bodies detached from the connecting point of the armor at the waist rolled on the ground, streaming out copious amounts of blood, dying the floor bright crimson.
Sounds of people calling Chris filled the corridor, but nobody could stop him anymore. Calling the scene a massacre might not even be appropriate anymore— it was fruitful harvest. Pieces of flesh piled up by Chris’ feet. Cornelius’ shrill laughter irritated their eardrums as it resounded.
“— Chris, stop! Chris—!”
The voice of a girl continued to call the same name like a heavy bell. However, the voice was easily drowned out of his consciousness as Chris continued to sink in the feeling of cutting human flesh. The voice of the beast in him had completely fused with the roars made by Chris.
When the wailings in Chris’ heart vanished completely, he was already in a sea of blood.
— How nostalgic.
The first thing that surfaced in his mind was actually such hideous longing. With his feet sinking in warmth, was that not a scene that he was always searching for after losing it once before? With all those corpses and skulls surrounding him, was that not the place that he belongs to?
There was still someone alive. Not only did the knights who lost an arm or an eye seem to have lost their freedom after being attacked by the demon sword, they couldn’t even feel the pain from their body anymore. From pools of blood, they grabbed swords and clambered towards Chris.
“Chris! Y- You—!”
Minerva’s voice pierced through Chris’ eardrums.
“Don’t look at me!” Chris shouted at Minerva without even turning back: “Don’t look at me. I’m a……”
— I killed my own comrades……
— True to the curse of the Star Eater, I attacked my own comrades……
“Hurry up and run, never mind me—“
Chris shouted to Minerva. Holding his slender sword, a cold smile surfaced on Cornelius’ face. Chris stared at him. That moment, countless footsteps and calls resounded from the stairway behind Cornelius: “My Lord!” “Are you okay!”
“Chris! You idiot!”
“Meena! Stop! It’s about time for us to retreat!” “Do you have a death wish!” “He can’t be saved anymore! Give up already!”
“Let go of me!” Minerva struggled among her comrades, “Chris! You, stop messing with me! How can you, all by yourself…… Chris!”
Chris was already unable to hear Minerva’s calls. With tears and blood in his eyes, a soundless wail escaped from his mouth as he dashed at his surrounding comrades, killing them as easily as one plucking wings off small insects. He stepped over their corpses and lunged at Cornelius. The young Royal Consort blocked Chris’ attacks one after another in his cackels.
“You look beautiful only in this way, Beast’s son!”
Soldiers of the Celestial Army appeared on the stone connective bridge. Chris’ limbs were attacked by their spears, and fell in a pool of blood. A boot stamped on the back of his hand wielding his sword. The beast’s lust for slaughter seemed to have been sated, and thus faded little by little from Chris’ body. Lying in the pool of blood, he heard Minerva’s wails gradually fade along with countless footsteps.
“How does the blood of your comrades taste?”
Cornelius’ voice rang from above.
“I have already said this, your life is one of you struggling all alone, and then dying without anyone by your side. This is the way a beast dies, a fate that you can never go against.”
Chris raised his head, but was unable to see anything due to the blood blocking his sight.
However, he understood that it was his destiny, destiny of the Beast. He would be all alone, dying alone in the wilderness while avoiding encounters with other people.
Even so, when people surrounding the campfire invited him to come closer, he naiively accepted their invitation and approached the campfire with human warmth, trying to twist the fate he was shouldering. Hence, he got what he deserved. He had to kill his comrades with his very own hands— before Minerva’s eyes.
Chris closed his eyes, burying his lips that were trying to speak into a warm sea of blood with the taste of rust.
— Did Minerva run away safely, I wonder.
— Running away to a place where I can no longer find her……
— Would she just forget me like this as well, killing me off in her heart……
— If only that time……
— If only she had killed me that time, how great would that have been……
At last, a black mire gradually enveloped Chris’ consciousness, pulling him into an abyss of darkness.
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