༺ Engagement Ceremony (2) ༻
After everything was done at Findias, Korin and his group returned to the Arden Family. Although Korin quickly got better thanks to his regeneration ability, Alicia and Lunia required some time to recover their health.
“By the way, you are really terrible at cutting apples.”
“Hmm… I’m trying my best.”
Three days after returning to the headquarters of the household, Alicia was looking after Lunia. There was supposed to be someone else looking after her but Alicia volunteered for the task, saying she wanted to do it herself.
“Sister… How are you feeling?”
“I can handle it thanks to the elixir. Where exactly did you get something so precious? Even we only have a few in our household.”
“Uhh… I think it’s better for you to not know that.”
She couldn’t tell her that it was made by refining the blood of the girl with water-colored hair who was staying behind in the guest room. Occasionally, Alicia had to taste-test a few things that were made from her blood, and was thus aware of the true identity of the elixir.
“More importantly, I saw you have had quite the improvement.”
“R, really? Hehe…”
Alicia felt good after hearing a compliment from none other than her sister.
“You were inexperienced in many aspects during the festival but it looks like your foundations are getting more and more solid. Keep it up.”
“Thank… Huh? Festival?”
“Sister. Were you there at the festiva…”
“The apple’s very salty.”
“Cut them again.”
“O, okay… By the way, Sister, did you come to the fes…”
“Hurry up and cut them. What are you doing?”
As if she wasn’t keen on replying to her question, Lunia kept changing the topic. Seeing that resolute attitude of hers and a slight flush in her ears, Alicia gave her a calm smile for the first time in a long time.
“Umm… Sister. Thank you.”
“Thanks for saving me, and blocking the attack…”
She carefully showed her gratitude to her sister, which she hadn’t been able to do until now.
“So that is what you were talking about.”
However, what she got in return was a cold response. Alicia was about to shrink from her cold attitude as usual but…
“You do not need a reason for an older sister to save their sister.”
“What is your last name.”
“Right. And what is mine?”
“What is our relationship?”
“Do not cower when telling the truth. Make your back straight and open your shoulders out wide. You are saying the obvious, so what is there to not be confident about?”
Alicia had been a sinner from birth.
She was the proof of adultery. She was the nuisance of the family and an illegitimate child threatening the position of the rightful heir.
By what right could she talk about them being sisters?
Alicia thought that everything had changed when she first cut a person and was named as one of the successor candidates by Garrand Arden.
“I am your older sister, and you are my younger sibling. That is an unchanging fact that will stay true no matter what happens.”
『No, it won’t. The bond between you and Lunia won’t be severed even if you die.』
Hearing that from Lunia reminded her of something Korin had said in the past.
Although they weren’t true blood-related siblings, and even though they were competitors trying to steal something from one another, Lunia was telling her that their relationship would never change, and that she would stay as her sister no matter what.
“Are you… alright, though? I might steal from you, Sister.”
Instead of the serious reply that she was expecting, Lunia returned a hearty laughter which was rare considering how level-headed she usually was.
“So you have finally reached a point where you think you might steal from me, huh. What an incredible improvement.”
Hearing that made Alicia realize something. Alicia had never been confident in herself. Even after being named as a future successor candidate alongside Lunia, she didn’t dare assume that she could one day become the head of the family.
It was because Lunia, her sister, was like a heavenly being far out of reach. That was what everyone told her and that’s what she had believed in as well.
“Of course, I have no plans of simply watching mine get snatched away. But what if I do get mine stolen? That just means I was not good enough.”
Like the heroic person she was evaluated to be, Lunia did not hide her competitiveness. The fact that she was able to see such a side of her sister was surprising but at the same time, it made her happy.
It made her think to herself that she had grown to a point where her older sister was considering her a worthy foe.
“However, I will not be losing to any immature kids. After all, it looked like he was fond of mature women.”
“Huh? Who’s he?”
What was she talking about?
Alicia wondered for a bit, but after quickly realizing who she was talking about, her cheeks started to turn deep red.
“N, no! That’s not what I meant!”
“Well, good luck. Just letting you know, the ceremony will be in a week’s time.”
“I’m not joking! That’s seriously not what I was trying to say!”
The older sister leisurely ignored the frantic denials of her younger sister.
It was in the middle of a meal with Marie and Hua Ran, while enjoying the great reception of the Arden Family.
“Oh right. I’m getting engaged by the way.”
I said that during the meal after realizing that I should probably tell them that.
“W, what… What did you just say, Korin?”
One of them dropped the boiled potato in their hands while the other crunched the fish bones in their mouth.
“I’m going to get engaged with Miss Lunia. In about a week’s time, I believe.”
“W, wait. Korin? You’re getting engaged? With Miss Lunia?”
“This person that’s getting engaged with oppa… Miss Alicia’s older sister, right?”
“Yeah. We were all busy so I don’t think we had a chance to introduce ourselves. Well, now’s the chance.”
The door creaked open to the side, as a beautiful lady wearing a martial art uniform walked into the room.
The two of them blankly gazed at Lunia. They all… looked awestruck but that was nothing strange, because Miss Lunia was quite a cool-looking person after all!
Despite her injuries, Lunia walked in a straight posture before gently sitting down next to me.
“I heard you are the peers of my partner.”
Lunia deeply gazed at them before letting out a grin and pulling me closer towards her.
Marie dumbfoundedly looked at me as if genuinely hoping for an explanation.
“Umm. You see…”
“After a week, there will be an engagement ceremony between my fiance and I. If the oldest daughter of the Dunareff Family and a sister of the Grand Chapel of Zeon are willing to serve as the bridesmaid or the best man, the Arden Family will gladly welcome your attendance.”
There was a deathly silence filling the room.
What was going on?
I didn’t even do anything wrong but I had a feeling that I had to get up and apologize for something. However, I also got a gut feeling that doing that would only make things worse…
“S, since when…”
“As for that, I can explain.”
I then started talking about the story that Lunia and I had settled with. On the outside, we were known to have fallen in love at first sight and in the middle of a heated relationship.
Of course, I had to tell them the truth later on but a little joke couldn’t hurt. I was looking forward to their dumbfounded expressions.
Hehe. I guess you can say this is a type of prank!
“That was when it all began. Miss Lunia and I fell in burning love.”
“Seeing his upright personality in spite of his young age, I could not help but fall in love.”
After seemingly seeing through my intention, Miss Lunia helped out with my prank. She really did have a slightly mischievous side to her, didn’t she?
Marie and Hua Ran were turning more and more stiff.
Ahh. My acting skills were something to be feared. Maybe I had the talent of a prank youtuber. If only I realized my potential back on Earth!
“And on that night of full moon, we confirmed our feelings for each—”
That was when Marie suddenly stood up from her seat. It was strange, considering how she was usually always polite and relaxed.
“Huhh? Senior, where are you going?”
She turned around with a chilly gaze. It was when I was standing there, slightly bewildered from seeing such a cold look in her eyes for the first time.
After saying something that was difficult to understand, Marie walked out of the room.
What in the hell was the problem in our conversation just then? I was going to continue the prank for just about 5 minutes before saying, ‘Tada! That was a joke!’ but the actress suddenly left the filming site!
I wasn’t sure what was going on but I had to undo the misunderstanding at least. I had to tell her it was all a joke and that it was because of an engagement contract to help Lunia—
Ran had a look on her face that was on the verge of breaking out into tears while forcing herself to congratulate me.
“C, congr… Oppa… Umm… Congrat… Why… I hope you… Huuk…”
In the end, she couldn’t continue her words properly and her words ended up being squashed down to pieces.
Seeing the drops of tears flowing down her cheeks, I suddenly realized what I had done.
It was very inconsiderate of me to do that. Ran was a girl who had been telling me that she liked me, and that she sincerely wanted to marry me.
Because of her childish impression, I thought it would just be a passing memory of first love, but talking about engagement right in front of her eyes was still way too inconsiderate of me!!
No no no! It was a prank – a prank! Sorry, it’s my bad!
“Ran. That was just a—”
She vanished from the place without leaving anything behind. Because of the physical capabilities of a Heavenly Yaksha, I didn’t even have the time to chase after her.
“—Prank… I was joking…”
“What a sinful man my fiance is.”
“Ahh… How do I fix this?”
Lunia returned nothing but a mischievous smile.
In the end, I couldn’t find both Marie and Hua Ran until nighttime. I was going to undo the misunderstanding immediately after coming across them, but the problem was that I had no idea where they were.
“Haa… I’m going to do a ‘dogeza1 Dogeza: Getting down on one’s knees and driving one’s head into the ground in a show of apology.’ first thing when I see them.”
They probably weren’t going to stay outside forever, so I had to wait until I saw them tomorrow during mealtime and talk it out.
For the time being… I put that aside and opened my system window with limited access.
– You have acquired the Light of the Sun.
– The Sun will protect you while it is up.
The Sun, Claiomh Solais.
It was the weapon that Eochaid Bres, one of the King’s subjects, had been using in the last iteration.
King of Beauty, Eochaid Bres.
It had been a very drawn-out battle last time.
A battle against Claiomh Solais was one of the climaxes even back in ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱.
The three phases of Eochaid Bres’s boss fight went from Concentrated Sun to Materialized Sun and Compressed Sun. The power of the mighty Sun was essentially the greatest of all time.
If not for Park Sihu, who monopolized all the hidden events and exceeded the limitations of a normal player, no one would be able to fight toe-to-toe against the Sun. However, even Claiomh Solais had a detrimental weak point and that was that it was way too powerful.
Just like what happened on the floating island, even the Concentrated Sun had been swallowing mana up like crazy.
As expected from an item for boss fights, it was a challenge to use properly without connecting it to a specific leyline and having almost an infinite mana supply.
‘Well, that’s fine. Claiomh Solais is powerful enough with just the passive blessing alone.’
– As long as you are under sunlight, no flames and heat of the world will be able to injure Airgetlam.
– You accumulate Power of the Sun proportional to your mana capacity (Current Mana Capacity: Lower Medium 7,320)
The key power of the Blessing of the Sun was the complete resistance to heat and flames. It wasn’t an overstatement to say that any fire attack would be meaningless as long as I had Claiomh Solais and I would never feel hot again either.
Considering the amount of heat that was being emanated out of Claiomh Solais every second, it was a necessary blessing to have.
The key was to accumulate Power of the Sun. I had long tested in the last iteration the potential of the Power of the Sun with a nigh-infinite amount of mana to play with.
‘Compared to the last iteration, Valtazar has lost a great number of his minions.’
I had dealt with Fermack during the incident of King of Iron Mountain and although it was by pure coincidence, killing the Sword Fiend here was the best result I could have ever hoped for.
And finally, even the Sun that was supposed to belong to Eochaid Bres was now in my hands. Without the Sun in his possession, Eochaid Bres would become a much easier foe to defeat.
Besides, even though we didn’t have the player, I now had incredibly reliable teammates by my side.
Alicia had become stronger much faster than in the original storyline. In fact, she became even stronger now and Marie, who was supposed to have disappeared from the annals of history, was also with me.
On top of that, there was even the boss character that was on the same level as the Sword Fiend—
– Knock knock!
“Who is it?”
“It’s me, oppa.”
Heavenly Yaksha, Hua Ran.
She was also on my side, which made for an outstanding lineup.
First, I had to clear up the misunderstanding though.
The door slid open and Ran walked inside while wearing Arden-styled pajamas.
Hua Ran always wore black nun clothes and they looked great on her but now that she was in her Ran-mode, she also looked nice in this type of white traditional pajamas.
“So, what’s wrong?”
Without replying to my words, the blue-eyed girl quietly walked into my room before lying down on my bed.
“I’m sleeping here,” she said.
“…Are you the same as Hua now?”
Just like what Hua did before, Ran did something as audacious as sleeping in the same room as a man, which went against Confucian teachings.
I had to resolve the misunderstanding and coax the two girls so I tried to have a chat with them.
“Ran. I have something to…”
“I don’t want to speak with you, oppa.”
I was momentarily struck speechless by her cold tone of voice but… that was natural considering how I bragged about my fiance in front of a girl that sang songs about marrying me…
“Alright. Let’s lie down first.”
The coldness of the winter had yet to go away. After giving her a thick cotton blanket, I laid myself down on the bed.
We shared a moment of silence on the bed. In this dark room where the moonlight was the only source of light, we gazed deeply at each other, so much so that we could spot every twitch of our lips.
The first one to break our silence was Ran. After running her thin fingers through my hair and lifting them up, she heaved a deep sigh.
“You had a lot of injuries. Are you okay?”
“I have regeneration. Look. I have the same skin as before, don’t I?”
“…No, it’s different. Completely different.”
With a sad smile on her face, she gently stroked my fringes.
“I told you to not get hurt.”
“Huh? Y, yeah you did.”
“When you get hurt, oppa, it hurts both Hua and me. If you waited until we came…”
“I didn’t have time. Sorry.”
“No. It’s our fault for being late. If not for that illusion…”
“Illusion? Oh~ right. What did you see?”
“It was an illusion of you marrying someone else, oppa.”
What kind of illusion was that…?
“In there, you looked very happy, oppa. As if there was no room for me to do anything…”
Despite being the Heavenly Yaksha and a jiangshi, in the end, Hua Ran was just a young girl in her puberty.
There was no way seeing that inside the illusion would have been a great experience. And since she saw the person she liked marrying someone else in the illusion, the news of the fake engagement must have been all the more shocking.
Closing the distance between us on top of the bed, Ran came dangerously close. She then wrapped her arms around my neck and locked her fingers behind my nape, before raising the corners of her lips.
“Do you know what I thought going through that illusion?”
“W, what kind of… things did you think about?”
Flexing her fingers, she brought her face closer. Her cheeks gazed past mine as she whispered into my ears.
“You are mine, oppa. I am not going to give you away to anyone.”
She had a gentle tone of voice but that was one scary declaration, stating that she would never give up even if I were to date someone in the future.
“Umm… I, is that so?”
Ran responded with a sensuous grin. Unlike the indifferent Hua, Ran was… really talented at jolting a male’s heart.
Unlocking her fingers behind my neck, she pulled her arms back and opened her palms. There was a slight flush on her cheeks and she seemed rather embarrassed.
“Can you… hold my hands?”
“T, that much I can do.”
I pushed my palms into hers. When she locked her fingers, I could feel that the power of her grip was far stronger than mine even though my hands were double the size of hers.
“You allowed it, okay?”
Suddenly, she stood up from the bed and jumped on top of me. W, what was she doing?
“I’m not going to let your hands go the whole night.”
Won’t they get sweaty then?
“It’s too late. Too late for you to say no…”
“You brought this upon yourself, oppa.”
After tightly clasping her fingers into my hands, Ran buried her head into my chest, and because of that, I couldn’t really tell but it looked like she was also quite embarrassed judging from how her ears were colored in deep red.
Unlike Hua, who was calm no matter what happened around her, it was quite normal for a girl from a refined household like Ran to be embarrassed by the act of sleeping on the same bed as a man.
“It’s… all your fault, oppa.”
“Okay okay. My bad. You do whatever you want.”
Her eyes slowly came to a close. She had the resolute face of a warrior who had readied themselves for death so I couldn’t really say anything to her.
Like… I wasn’t sure why we had to hold our hands to sleep though.
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- 1Dogeza: Getting down on one’s knees and driving one’s head into the ground in a show of apology.