༺ Uninvited Guest (5) ༻
“Back then, he never sold you out.”
For around ten minutes, Sophia explained the event that transpired at the Border Town Inn.
Back when the Witch of Aquarius devised a scheme to kidnap Amelia.
Despite the whole crew colluding with the witch, Siwoo stood firm as he made a rescue request that ultimately allowed Sophia to save the day.
He even made sure to handle any sensitive matter that could potentially affect Amelia in any way.
Even when there were no other options available to him, he still concluded that it was unnecessary to add to the confusion back then.
To him, the term ‘Inevitability’ and ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ did not serve different purposes.
Upon hearing Sophia’s words, Amelia froze in place.
She barely managed to bring up a question to ask Sophia.
“If that’s true, then why did you keep it a secret from me…?”
“At the time, I didn’t know all the details. Maybe he did it because he was worried that you might catch onto his escape plans. Still, don’t take it the wrong way. Back then, he could have just chosen to betray you and run away on his own, but he didn’t.”
In fact, Amelia wasn’t afraid of death.
Her sole reason for living was to carry on her master’s legacy.
Even if she were to suddenly pass away because of an unfortunate accident, the most she would do would be lamenting the circumstances briefly. Perhaps, she’d also feel a little pissed because her inheritance would fall into the hands of other people. But, she wouldn’t feel fear at the prospect of death.
After her master’s departure, she was empty.
And she couldn’t bear that emptiness, so she ended up imposing the obligation to delve into magic research for herself.
It was akin to climbing a steep path.
But Siwoo was different.
‘Wasn’t the reason why he had studied magic was because of his desperation to survive and escape?’
Yet, he still confronted death to protect Amelia, disregarding the fact that he was merely a human.
Not to mention that he was doing this for a witch he disliked, all while sacrificing his chance to escape this place.
This put Amelia in a tremendous debt to him.
“He had shown his courage for your sake, yet here you are, trying to run away from him. Even though you still haven’t told him everything you wanted to tell him.”
“Why did he… To such an extent…?”
“Wouldn’t it be better to ask him instead of me? That way, you’ll get a direct answer from him.”
Amelia stopped crying.
This wasn’t the time to cry.
The compass within her heart, which had been spinning aimlessly, was now pointing in one direction.
Urging her to go back to where he was.
So she could tell him that she was both sorry and thankful to him.
His face, which had seemed so frightening just a few moments ago, appeared in her mind.
‘I miss him.’
A sudden burst of joy surged forth from her chest like pollen.
She thought that would only receive resentment from him.
Rejection was the only thing that she would get.
However, a new notion, an audacious one that made her think that Shin Shiwoo valued her enough to not hand her over to the group of people with bad intentions kept the corners of her mouth raised.
At the same time, this newfound joy made her feel embarrassed.
In contrast to his actions, her selfish and narrow-minded words resembled those of a child throwing a tantrum.
“…I want to apologize to him…”
“Yes, that’s a good decision.”
“I’ll follow him to the modern world…”
Sophia was taken aback.
This was the first time Amelia had ever expressed her desire to come to the modern world.
Those who had been confining themselves in their own world for a long time tended to hesitate to step out of their comfort zone.
Be it exploring new emotions or trying out different experiences.
For Amelia, the modern world should be an unfamiliar and scary place.
Prior to this, Sophia had proposed the idea of going there for fun to her, but she had always rejected those proposals without hesitation.
Amelia had always claimed that she didn’t want to waste her research time on something like that, but to Sophia, Amelia was just afraid of the unknown experience that was the modern world.
“I, too, want to do what he wants to do.”
Amelia, who used to be scared, shrinks away and hesitant…
‘How could I not smile after witnessing her taking her first steps like this?’
Sophia wore a proud smile.
“Thank you, Sophia.”
As if responding to Sophia’s smile, Amelia wiped away a droplet of her tear from her cheeks with her sleeve.
Throughout their relationship, it was the first time that Sophia had ever heard her expressing her gratitude properly.
However, this wasn’t the time to cuddle and pinch her cheeks, no matter how cute she currently looked.
Sophia gently pushed Amelia’s back.
Amelia nodded and swung open the door to the alcove wide.
Then, she took a step forward to the new world she had yet to discover.
“What are you doing?”
Ea tilted her head as she observed Siwoo absorbing the mana water.
Having already witnessed him using the ‘water lizard stride’, his action didn’t surprise her this time.
However, Siwoo’s consciousness had already erased the terrifying Exile’s existence from his awareness.
It delved into the depths of his subconscious mind as if it was being sucked in by a vortex.
The empty black space once again revealed itself before his eyes.
His newly acquired magic from the Gnosis Egg he obtained through hunting the Homunculus.
The ‘law of shadows’ that corroded and interfered with magical circles on its path, eventually collapsing them from within.
As if welcoming Siwoo’s arrival, the newly formed architectural structure spun vigorously, creating a magnificent shape that reminded him of the grand nebula.
With just a single step, Siwoo closed the distance between him and the new structure.
This place was ‘Ain,’ the realm of consciousness and concepts.
In this realm of freedom, there were no limitations of physics.
A low humming sound echoed from the ‘law of shadows’ that stood before his eyes.
Like a reproachful voice questioning him, ‘Why did it take so long for you to come?’ Prompting Siwoo to let out a wry chuckle.
“If only I had the time.”
If he had known that something like this would happen, he would have split the nonexistent time that he had to build up his skills.
“Lend me a hand for a moment.”
The shadow began to coil itself around Siwoo’s outstretched hand, as if it was shaking his hand.
Siwoo then took control of the shadow by utilizing the magic circle.
Though, the term ‘take over’ wasn’t exactly accurate.
It was supposed to follow Siwoo’s commands obediently in the first place.
Nevertheless, it had come under his full control now.
The shadow that enveloped his entire body began to flow like a snake.
Moving freely and effortlessly like his new limb, it moved perfectly according to his will.
This alone wouldn’t be enough.
After all, his opponent was an Exile who boasted the power that rivaled Amelia’s.
If he wanted to buy some time against her, he’d need a more thorough preparation.
What first came to his mind were an armor and a spear.
He molded the shadow like kneading dough, covered his body with it alongside creating a pair of spears.
At the same time, Siwoo’s mind returned to reality once again.
Though it seemed like several minutes had passed in Ain, only around a second had gone by in reality.
Ea’s eyes widened as she covered her mouth in surprise.
Suddenly, a shadow emerged from his body and transformed into a suit of armor.
There were no glittering lights or intricate patterns that one would find in fantasy games.
Just an armor so dark it felt like it was absorbing the moonlight, accompanied by a pair of long spears that he held with the gauntlets that enveloped his hands.
As Siwoo took a deep breath, the shadow extending behind him wrapped itself around his head to form a sleek-looking helmet.
Its movement felt natural, as if he had been doing this for a long time. He even felt a sense of familiarity from it.
This was the result of the miracle that allowed him to use a completely new magic without any prerequisite.
The power of the Gnosis Egg, a construct that forcibly expanded human cognition.
“You must have liked RPGs, huh?”
“Yes, though it was a dead game already the last time I played it. Now that I hadn’t touched it for five years, it must have been deader than dead already.”
Although Ea didn’t show any kind of surprised gesture, inwardly, it was the complete opposite.
She was so surprised that she didn’t even pay attention to Siwoo’s blunt response.
While it wasn’t completely impossible for a slave to use magic,
The shadows that rippled like fine powder over the armor that covered his body wasn’t a mere manifestation of magic.
Each tiny particle it had was a tiny spell in itself.
Despite her being an Exile, essentially, she was still a witch. She couldn’t help but feel intrigued by this new form of magic she witnessed for the first time.
“Originally, I was only interested in your body, but now I’m interested in you as a whole. I’ll take you with me and use you as a subject of my research.”
Looking at the ribbons fluttering in the sky, resembling underwater seaweeds, Siwoo called out to the twins.
“Jump backwards, now.”
Then, he immediately threw one of the two spears at Ea while the other one towards the barrier behind him.
He didn’t use his arm strength to throw it.
Instead, he used his mana and imparted kinetic energy into the shadows themselves through motion energy conversion.
As a result, the spear accelerated swiftly without any forewarning.
One spear flew a short distance, contacting the barrier that resembled a water bottle, creating a shockwave that spread through its surface in an instant.
As contaminated shadows spread like paint melting into the delicate barrier, the entire water bottle swayed greatly.
In the meantime, Ea looked at the other spear that flew toward her with an indifferent gaze.
The ribbon writhed like a tentacle, surged forward aggressively from behind her as if trying to guard her.
It was her autonomous defense mechanism that would activate to intercept any magic that would threaten its owner.
Without her having to give it any commands, the extended ribbon swiftly coiled around the shadow spear.
After blocking the spear, the ribbon became torn, like leaves that were eaten by a swarm of locusts.
However, Ea remained unfazed.
After observing the shadow’s waveform of mana, she easily surmised that this was a type of magic that directly interfered with magic circles.
The more delicate the magic it faced, the easier for it to make the magic circles short-circuited.
“Your effort is commendable, nevertheless, it’s still pathetic.”
As it tore through the layer of ribbons, the spear’s speed faltered and eventually, its reckless charge towards Ea was halted.
Then, it lost its composition and dispersed on the spot.
“What did you try to achieve with such a meager amount of mana?”
Although the Law of Shadows held the upper hand against most forms of magic, it only applied in a relatively normal situation.
It was because it had a simple weakness.
Which was; it couldn’t stand facing an overwhelming amount of mana, something that Siwoo did to crush it in the first place.
Being a high-ranking witch herself, there was no way that Ea failed to notice such a simple answer.
Siwoo looked at Ea, who had successfully repelled his attacks without spending much effort.
As he casted his gaze over his shoulder, he could see the barrier was still in perfect condition.
When the spear pierced it, there was a slight ripple, like a water droplet falling on the surface of a lake. Then, a gap just big enough to fit a finger appeared momentarily. Though the barrier quickly restored itself.
The time that it took for the barrier to restore itself was much faster than the speed of the shadow breaking the barrier.
His expectations weren’t particularly high to begin with.
He had a rough understanding about the situation they were in.
Still, he had hoped to at least buy some time so that the twins could escape.
As if sensing Siwoo’s intention, Ea offered another proposal.
“Still, it has been a while since I had this much fun, so I’ll give you a chance.”
A golden opportunity to gain some time.
“Don’t give up, Mr. Assistant, we’ll help you.”
“That’s right, as long as we’re together, we can win this!”
“Just stay still for a moment.”
Siwoo stepped forward and stopped the twins from trying to recite their chants. He realized that they wouldn’t be able to solve anything by acting recklessly.
“Since you offered so, I’ll gladly take your offer.”
Judging by her confident demeanor, Ea Sadalmelik was undoubtedly a formidable opponent.
Every action of hers was based on the premise that she could overpower Amelia head-on.
Even if it was only her delusional thinking, there was no doubt that Siwoo and the twins were nowhere near her level to confront her directly.
“Since we still have time, I figured we could do this. Let’s see how many of your limbs would remain by the time Marigold returns.”
‘I must use her complacency to its utmost advantage’
“Then I’ll take you on instead!”
Odile grabbed Siwoo’s arm and stepped forward.
In response to this sight, Ea let out a disdainful sneer.
“I have no interest in watching a Gemini’s boring magic. Besides, this won’t be something more than a flashy show by a worthless pair of twins. What I’m interested in is the slave’s magic, not yours.”
While Odile was unable to retort her words, Siwoo held onto her shoulder and tried to persuade her.
Although he appreciated her intentions, he couldn’t overlook the fact that they had to count on Ea’s own whim for this opportunity.
“Ms. Odile, no is not the time.”
“But, Mr. Assistant, you did this before too…! This time, I’ll be the one who’ll protect you…!”
“We have to follow her demands, that’s our only chance.”
With tears streaming down her face, Odile tightly embraced Siwoo’s waist.
He gently stroked her head.
“Let’s make sure we survive this time too.”
“…If we survive, I’ll let you smear your cum on my face again.”
Siwoo pushed Odile, who made that joking remark with a serious face, behind him before stepping onto Ea’s experimental platform.
“Are you done with this boring drama?”
With a determined gaze under his helmet, he stared at the wicked witch.
“Alright, shall we?”
Ea’s hand drew a horizontal line.
In response to her gesture, a ribbon twisted and turned in the air.
Having accumulated elasticity to its limit, the ribbon struck Siwoo like a venomous snake as it drew a spiral trajectory.
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