༺ Only the Light (3) ༻
Charlotte ran away.
She had fled.
She no longer had the courage to face him.
She couldn’t bear to shed tears in front of him, for she didn’t even have the audacity to do so.
Charlotte herself didn’t know where she was heading. Without any destination in mind, she just moved her feet. She didn’t even think to wipe the tears streaming down her cheeks.
As she walked aimlessly, she met eyes with the priests and nuns in the cathedral several times, but they, taken aback by the deep sorrow etched on Charlotte’s face, dared not even call out to her.
When she came to her senses, she found herself standing alone in an empty chapel.
She was there to pray to the Goddess, as she always did when things were hard and painful.
She knelt in front of the statue of the smiling, merciful Goddess, and then started to cry soundlessly, unable to control her emotions.
‘Oh, my Goddess….’
The time she had spent with him after so long was incredibly sweet. She was so happy.
But it was painful at the same time.
Every moment, she had to face her unforgivable sin against him, and yet her inability to reject him was her greed and sin.
Knowing this was a desire that overflowed in anger… in reality, she held a slight hope.
Perhaps he missed me, too.
Maybe he still hasn’t forgotten those feelings from back then.
Like the stories she read in fairy tales when she was young, maybe everything could be perfectly resolved.
Perhaps she had been waiting for this moment.
Such a foolish hope it was.
If he had shown anger instead. If he had driven her away saying he didn’t want to see her face, it would have been better.
If he had asked why she left him, although she wouldn’t have been able to tell everything, she would have tried to answer at least part of it.
Why she had no choice but to leave him.
What she experienced by the side of the hero after leaving him.
Why she couldn’t even think about coming to find him until now.
Now, she truly deeply regretted it and wanted to apologize for the anger and sense of loss he must have felt…
She would have tried to atone that way.
If so, even if her heart would have been torn with guilt, she would not have been this sad and hollow.
But Eon did not do so. Moreover, he even worried about her.
He told her that she didn’t need to sacrifice herself anymore, and to live her own life now.
That statement cruelly wounded Charlotte’s heart.
Eon’s expression was incredibly calm. As if he had no feelings left for her.
As if they once loved each other, but not anymore.
As if they were no longer anything to each other…
She came to the painful realization of this fact due to his shown attitude.
And she knew all too well that all of this was due to her own mistakes.
Charlotte clutched her face.
And she cried endlessly like a child.
‘What… what should I do….’
The Goddess gave no answer.
After Charlotte left the room, I left the cathedral with a tremulous feeling.
It was hard to guess why she abruptly left, and from the beginning, she seemed uncomfortable having a conversation with me.
The reunion with Charlotte left me only with uncomfortable feelings.
During the war, I didn’t want to confront her, and after the war ended, she constantly toured the contaminated land of the mainland and the empire, so there was no opportunity to meet.
It would have been nice if we could have alleviated our long-held feelings at this opportunity, but maybe 15 years still wasn’t enough.
I thought that if Charlotte found it difficult to talk to me, there was no need to unnecessarily trouble her.
There might be a chance to have a natural conversation someday. If so, there was no need to force it now.
If not, it can’t be helped.
The grand cathedral was decorated magnificently, befitting its massive and majestic scale. However, I was not in the mood for sightseeing, so without stopping anywhere else, I headed straight to the entrance.
Outside, the sun was already at its zenith. I had been unconscious for half a day.
A day had already passed. The ball was on Friday, so today being the weekend there were no classes, but I was a little concerned about staying out without notice.
Although I’m not a student and there would be nobody to discipline me, it would set a bad example for the students if the instructor stayed out without permission.
I immediately headed to the tram stop to catch a tram to the Academy.
And then I realized.
Someone was following me.
There was one person. Given that they had consistently followed me from the main road, it would be right to assume that they knew I was in the cathedral from the start and were waiting.
I didn’t know their purpose.
But I suppose I could find out now.
I changed my original plan and headed for a desolate alleyway instead of the tram stop.
The person following me didn’t seem particularly adept at tailing. As soon as I was out of sight, I could feel him hurrying his steps as if flustered.
The follower was a muscular man with a tattoo on his shoulder. At a glance, he emanated an underworld atmosphere, so as soon as he entered the alleyway, I grabbed his wrist without hesitation, twisted it, and forcefully pushed him against the wall.
“Ah! It, it hurts! I said it hurts!”
The man was incapacitated in an instant, without even thinking of resisting.
He turned out to be less impressive than I thought.
“What kind of person are you?”
“He, hey! We know each other! Don’t you recognize me? It’s me!”
I slightly tilted my head. Then, I exerted more force on the hand that was twisting his arm.
“I have no idea.”
“Ah!! Damn it…! I work under Big Sister! We met before…!”
The only person I would know that a back alley gangster would call bro was obviously Sylvia.
I detached the man from the wall and looked closely at his face.
Upon closer inspection, it was the tattooed man who had picked a fight with me when I first went to look for Sylvia in the underworld.
I let go of his arm and asked nonchalantly.
“What’s your business?”
“Ugh! My, my arm… I think it’s broken….”
“Don’t overreact. It’s not that bad.”
The tattooed man winced in pain, grimacing. Instead of his restrained right arm, he took out a note with his intact left hand from his pocket. It was made of extremely high-quality paper that did not match the vibe of a back-alley thug.
“Ta, take it… Big Sister said to deliver it to you directly.”
“Sylvia? If she has something to say, she can contact me through the communicator.”
“I don’t know! All I heard was that she couldn’t reach you since yesterday and she had an urgent message to deliver!”
In the middle of our conversation, I remembered something.
The communication device Sylvia gave me was always stored in the inner pocket of my instructor’s uniform. However, because I had changed into a dress for the ball the previous day, that communicator was now in my room.
Even if I had brought the communicator, it would have certainly been rendered inoperable by the outbreak of Dark mana. Thinking about it that way, it might have been fortunate that I left it in my room.
Speaking of which, who changed my clothes?
When I first woke up in Charlotte’s room, I was wearing a clean and comfortable shirt instead of the stuffy dress I had originally worn. Since I had no recollection of changing it myself, it meant that someone had changed my clothes while I was unconscious.
Originally, how was I transported all the way from the Imperial Palace to this far-off cathedral?
Could it be that Charlotte…
I decided to stop thinking too deeply about this and focus on the issue at hand.
Even if I left my communicator behind, she would have contacted me if she had waited. If she sent someone because she couldn’t wait for that brief moment, it must be quite urgent.
I took the note that the man handed over. As soon as I held the note, a faint scent of roses wafted clearly.
The rose perfume that Sylvia always sprayed was a unique scent that she made with her own recipe and could never be found in the market.
I still don’t know why she insists on the scent of roses. I could only vaguely guess that it might be because her surname, Rosen, means ‘rose’.
I read the first sentence of the note written in elegant handwriting.
And then, I froze at the content written on the note.
The woman you were looking for, she might still be alive.
She might still be alive.
I felt my rationality chilling at that short sentence.
The tattooed man, clutching one arm, spoke in a pained voice.
“Ahh…! Are you saying it’s not broken? That’s impossible… Anyway, I’ve delivered the message properly. Can I go now?”
I grabbed the tattooed man by the shoulder and hoisted him up.
My voice was cold and eerie, enough to even surprise me. The tattooed man wore a terrified expression and cautiously opened his mouth.
“Why, why… are you doing this…?”
“You know the way from the cathedral to the underworld, don’t you?”
I only knew one way to the underworld. And it was a waste of time to go back there.
I pushed the man’s shoulder lightly and said,
“Guide me. Now.”
It was not the time to go back to the academy.
I needed to talk to Sylvia.
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