༺ Prologue (6) ༻
Once the time reversal ended, I found myself standing in a crude and narrow room.
The faint scent of wood and an earthy smell flowed through the open window. It seemed like the rain had stopped a while ago.
As I looked out of the window, I saw a panoramic view of the sky clearing away the dark clouds over the vast landscape of vegetation. A rainbow stretched across the sky.
It was a familiar sight and scent.
Even though it was my first time here, I found myself feeling more and more at home, like a person immersed in nostalgia.
Where am I?
I instinctively knew the answer.
‘It’s home, Isaac’s home.’
Due to the Phantasmal Clock reversing time in proportion to the time accelerated, I had traveled over two years into the past.
I was dressed in a plain brown shirt. As I lifted the hem, my frozen abdomen was clearly visible.
It seemed like I hadn’t cleared the trial yet, considering the fact that I hadn’t returned to the cavern enveloped in blizzards.
It’s not over just yet.
I suspected that this place was where the trial would end. The acceleration of time, the reversal of it, and Isaac’s past. This series of events would be the answer to overcoming the trial.
Preventing the resurrection of the Evil God was simply a step to reach this final rite of passage.
Suddenly, a note on the desk caught my eye. A request from someone was written on it, reading, ‘Please don’t hate your older sister’.
I didn’t know whose handwriting this was, but it made me feel very nostalgic.
I opened the door and went out into the hallway. In the narrow hallway, a young woman with long silver-blue hair stood leaning against the wall.
Red eyes. The same as mine.
“If you’re ready, then go. I can’t bear to see you.”
A hushed voice. I naturally knew who this woman was.
It was Isaac’s sister.
She gently closed her eyes. After uttering those words, she clarified that she would no longer speak to me.
I didn’t know the full story, but I respected her wishes and began to cross the hallway on my own.
The wooden plank floor creaked with every step. This house was pretty old.
‘I know what I am…’
A man’s sobbing voice flashed through my mind in a blur. At the same time, I felt drawn toward the stairs.
I walked out the door and up the wooden stairs, which had signs of being repaired once or twice.
‘I’m a worthless piece of shit, I’m…!’
I grabbed my throbbing head. A familiar voice, although I had never heard of it before, rang in my head intermittently.
‘Why would Mom be proud of scum like me?’
As I reached the second floor, an attic came into view.
‘I’m an incompetent person, Mom. A useless, useless person… I have zero talent. I’m like an extra in a play.’
White silk curtains fluttered in the early autumn breeze.
In front of the curtains, on an old, tattered bed.
A middle-aged woman with silver-blue hair laid still like a corpse, staring at the ceiling.
A pair of skinny arms rested on the blanket that covered the body.
She was thin. There was no life or vitality in the woman’s body.
‘I’m sorry, Mom. Sorry… That all I am is scum.’
“Are you here, Isaac…?”
My heart trembled. It wasn’t my emotion, but Isaac’s. The memory of intense regret that lingered in this body reacted to that singular word.
The silver-blue-haired woman looked at me and mustered up a weak smile. She gestured for me to come closer. Her hands were thin, with the skin clinging to her bone.
I slowly approached her. Beside her bed was a walnut wood chair that someone had prepared for people to sit on at any time.
“I’m sorry to call you here… Why don’t you sit…?”
The woman’s voice cracked like a dry field without moisture.
I traveled back to the time when this woman called me. As I thought that, I sat down.
It wasn’t hard to guess who the woman in front of me was. Silver-blue hair and blood-red eyes. Isaac strongly resembled his mother.
Outside the window, I could see a moderately-sized maple tree. The leaves swayed in the wind, looking as if they might fall at any time.
“Will you hold my hand…?”
I held the woman’s skinny hand.
“I called you here because I want to tell you something…”
The woman, as if a single blink was a luxury, gazed at my face and captured it in her eyes, savoring each fleeting moment.
“It was back when my Isaac was just 8 years old…”
She was reminiscing. Her face looked like she was deeply reflecting on a precious memory.
“Back then, Mom made a joke. What if Mom became a great knight or powerful wizard and had to leave you to protect people…”
The woman weakly grinned.
“Because you were a lively kid, you… I thought you would laugh at me for being so absurd. But then, do you remember what you said…?”
I shook my head.
“…You didn’t say anything. You just… had tears streaming down your face.”
The woman smiled brightly. Her face filled with happiness.
“At that time, I thought I was a very blessed mother… to have such a lovely son by my side…”
Tears formed in the corners of the woman’s eyes.
“Thank you for being born, Isaac. To me, you were my very precious son…”
The voice that echoed in my head when I walked down the creaking hallway and up the stairs resurfaced in my mind again.
It was Isaac’s voice.
As he heard the woman’s words just now, Isaac could only cry while belittling himself. He couldn’t bear it any longer, as he told his departing mother that he wasn’t worthy of being called her proud son.
In his memory, the woman stroked Isaac’s head and shook her head with a smile.
No matter what Isaac said, to her, he was the son she was proud of and loved dearly.
Isaac’s regret and trauma stuck to him like mud in the rain. The final test to finishing this trial was to overcome his heartbreaking regret.
The last thing he said to his departing mother was self-deprecating.
Isaac found this unbearably pathetic.
I didn’t have to think too hard about what I needed to do.
Because the words Isaac had wished he said were listed in my head, I just needed to recite them.
With a gentle smile on my face, I took her hand in mine.
My lips began to quiver slightly.
“Yeah, you are very blessed, Mom. You gave birth to a perfect son like me.”1T/N: When Isaac says perfect (잘난) here, the word also has a double meaning, which can mean worthless.
I gave a mischievous smile.
“Have I told you this? I’m trying to enter the Magic Department of the most prestigious academy in our country. It’s a place only talented people can enter. I’m going to study and hone my magic there, aiming to become an Archwizard that even the Empire wouldn’t dare to touch.
“Because you gave birth to someone like me, Mom is a truly amazing person.”
I smiled brightly.
“To me, Mom is the most loving and admirable person in the world. Thank you for giving birth to me, Mom.”
Tears welled up in the corner of her eyes, glistening in her lifeless pupils.
Finally, she brightly smiled. The transparent tears that had been welling up smoothly slid down from her eyes to her cheeks.
She looked at peace.
The sound of an early autumn breeze, the fluttering of curtains.
A single maple leaf naturally fell from the maple tree, carried away by the wind. That was simply how nature worked.
The fate of an unremarkable extra in ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱ who went unnoticed in the play may be nothing more than a falling leaf.
Unable to impress anyone or anything.
Insignificant and meaningless.
A life without the limelight.
But even those denied of their moment in the spotlight had stories of their own.
The tale of Isaac was one such story, engraved deeply in my mind.
Before his mother passed, Isaac, who had been crying and belittling himself, resolved his will and set his sights on Märchen Academy.
Since he had no talent for magic, he delved deep into theoretical studies, aiming to excel in theory.
After making careful choices and dedicating himself, Isaac succeeded in entering Märchen Academy.
But that was merely a stroke of luck. When he entered the academy, Isaac was pushed to his limits and realized how weak he truly was. He became a mockery among the other students.
Isaac became even more frustrated when he looked at Ian’s growth, even though they were both at Grade E mana.
In the end, during the academy’s vacation, Isaac embarked on a long journey from which he would never return to this world, following his mother.
The reason for Isaac’s disappearance midway through ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱ was because he had gone missing.
An extra. Isaac was just that, an extra.
But even he had a story, a story about a man named Isaac.
The woman smiled and closed her eyes. I gently pressed my forehead against hers and closed my eyes as well. We remained silent, enjoying the gentle autumn breeze.
I bid farewell to the woman embarking on her final journey.
The cold wind penetrated through my winter clothes, freezing my entire body.
But, regardless of the pain resembling a knife slicing my skin, I moved forward.
My vision was filled with pitch-black darkness and a raging blizzard.
I could see a beam of light. All I needed to do was move forward without hesitation.
I passed the trial by overcoming Isaac’s trauma. The world was falling apart, and when I closed and opened my eyes, I found myself back in reality.
My face was stiff. My lips had turned blue. My whole body was shaking, and a chill ran down my spine.
All I could manage was a breathing noise in my mouth. My feet had already gone numb, but I forced myself to continue, knowing that if I stopped here, everything would come to an end.
The beam of light drew closer and closer. Many parts of my body were already numb, and I felt the urge to collapse immediately. However, I couldn’t stop since my destination grew closer and closer.
I closed my eyes while keeping my bearings. Despite being out of breath, I continued walking, taking one step at a time.
When the darkness finally cleared, I could barely lift my heavy eyelids.
Pale blue mana swirled in the center of the room, with a navy-blue scythe floating in the middle of it.
I fell forward as the sensation in my legs completely went away.
I crawled forward, scraping my hands across the icy floor. The thick gloves kept bothering me, so I threw away my gloves and continued to claw my way across the floor with my pale white hands.
As I lost the feeling in my fingers, I continued to crawl by using my face and teeth to move forward.
Finally, I reached the source of the icy mana.
As a result, my body began rapidly freezing. Fortunately, my body had reached a state where I didn’t need to move forward anymore.
My arms were numb. But the muscles in my forearm and shoulder should still be usable.
I barely managed to raise my arm and reach for the Frostscythe.
My arm froze. The icy cold air tore through my skin, leaving me frostbitten.
Still, I didn’t stop. I kept reaching out my hand while repeating, ‘Just a little more, just a little more.’ to myself.
And then, finally, my hand…
…Pierced through the icy mana and made contact with the Frostscythe.
“I… got… it!”
Due to the frigid cold, I couldn’t even think straight, as even my head started freezing. One side of my face had already been consumed by the cold, distorting my expression.
Just the thought of grabbing the Frostscythe…
…made me smile with pride.
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- 1T/N: When Isaac says perfect (잘난) here, the word also has a double meaning, which can mean worthless.