༺ Reunion of Sisters (2) ༻
She was like an elegant orchid blooming with a bright light. The atmosphere around her gave off the feeling that she was so fragile that an accidental touch might snap her.
It was definitely the same face and body as before and… the only difference was probably that her red eyes and the inside of her hair had both turned blue.
That was somehow enough to change her atmosphere entirely, which was very intriguing.
Right there and then, my affinity meter for Ran straight-up hit the maximum. Finally, I was called oppa… someone called me oppa instead of Uncle!!1Oppa(older brother)- is used by women toward their elder brother or a close elder male friend in a friendly manner(usually up to ~30 y.o) while Uncle(Ahjussi) is used toward older men (~30+), it’s considered rude referring a young man like that
“You really like hearing that, don’t you?”
“I get told very often that I look old.”
“I figured, because it seemed like you wanted Hua to call you oppa all the time.”
So she was indeed watching all that, huh.
Back in the game, Ran joined the party when the player decided to save Ran. At one point in the story, the player would hear from her that she had been watching all the actions of Hua for the past 3 years.
But in the game, she didn’t talk about her feelings for Hua, who ended up being eradicated after failing to ascend to Hou. And I didn’t get to hear it in the last iteration either because Ran had been the one who vanished back then.
So this was the only chance for me to hear about her thoughts.
“Don’t you resent her or anything?”
“Because you had your body taken for 3 years, right?”
I wanted the two of them to resolve their relationship.
Both Hua and Ran were good and gentle kids, so I couldn’t help but hope for their happiness. But of course, it was up to Ran whether she would forgive Hua or not.
“At the start, I didn’t like her. Sometimes, I shouted at her, telling me to give my body back,” she said. She then talked about the time when her voice reached no one, and how all she could do was watch someone else control her body.
I couldn’t even imagine just how frustrating and painful that would have been.
“My voice never reached Hua. Sometimes she would talk to herself, but that was never a reply to what I said.”
That sense of guilt that made Hua hear voices in her head was probably a proof of how good-natured she was.
“Have you ever seen someone who’s always anxious? Hua gets frightened by things she can’t see, and she’s scared by things she can’t hear.”
Ran explained that she started to find her sympathetic and pitiful over time. Even though she had her body stolen by her, Ran began to empathize and understand her.
“That’s why I don’t hate her anymore. Hua even decided to return the body to me.”
Looking at the flowers blooming in the backyard, she hopped around and danced with a spin.
“This is the first time in my life that I’m walking and running around like this. I had been lying down on the bed the whole time.”
Ice Yin Constitution. She had the illness where she couldn’t balance out the Yin and Yang inside her body, which therefore made her have an overwhelming abundance of Yin.
“Like this…! And this!”
Hopping around on the spot, she threw her arms wide and jumped around. Those were things that were so normal for most people, and yet it was the first time this girl was experiencing them.
“It is definitely thanks to Hua that I can move like this, because she is using the Yin energy built up in my body. That’s why I decided to look at the positive side of things.”
“I had a lot of time to think during those 3 years, you see. And Korin-oppa? It’s partially thanks to you as well, you know?”
While passing the credit to me, she hopped her way across and opened her mouth.
“You gave her a choice. You didn’t want Hua to disappear; you wanted her to look for ways to live with me, right?”
“Yeah. I feel like you guys can live in a symbiotic… I mean, whatever it is, I think you can live together. And that’s what I’m hoping for as well.”
“Is that because you don’t want Hua to be unhappy?”
That was probably one of the reasons.
I had failed in many ways in the last iteration. There were many things that I couldn’t do, and among them was Hua.
Looking back, I could perhaps give various excuses as to why I failed in all that I did but… that wouldn’t change the fact that I had still failed.
That was why I wanted to succeed this time around.
“Do you remember what I said to Hua? How you have to give your very best in everything?”
“I do. Hua even wrote that down in a notebook, you know?”
“That’s… quite touching actually.”
Give your very best, learn how to be caring, move other people, become mature and…
“Change the world. That’s what I heard from my master. For me, the starting reason is that I don’t want to miss the things that are in front of me, and I’m trying not to ignore them even if they happen to be just small sources of misfortune.”
Last time, it was because I missed too many of them without even realizing that I had missed them. So this time, I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t miss them.
“So all I did… was try to pick you guys up. You were out in the rain, so I was just supporting you guys a little.”
“But what if you get your hands full in that process? You got greatly hurt when you were helping us, right?”
“Welp~. In that case, you guys can help me.”
Marie, Alicia and Hua Ran. Not a single one of them was worse than me. They were all amazing, clever, nice, and capable people.
“I trust you. If I have my hands full, then you and the other people will probably help me.”
Just like Marie and Alicia did, I had no doubt that Hua Ran would help me as well.
Because goodwill had a contagious nature.
Kindness had the power to create a chain reaction.
“Can you help me out a little? It’s a bit difficult for me to do alone.”
“That’s something you would have to speak to Hua about,” said Ran.
She was pretty much forgiving her and permitting Hua to share the body with her. Even though Hua had stolen her body for 3 years, this girl was still taking Hua under her arms.
“Very mature, aren’t you?”
“I stopped turning older past 14 but… Hua is 3 years old, right? I’ve been wanting to have a younger sister for a long time.”
Technically, she wasn’t wrong but… a sibling sharing one body, huh.
“By the way… if I’m in danger, will you come to my aid in that awesome manner like you did last time, Korin-oppa?”
“Anytime. Call me whenever you need help.”
“I knew you would say that. You’re… so cool.”
Ran took a step closer towards me. After lowering her head, she called me with a whisper.
“I like fish.”
Hearing that sudden shift in topic, I was tilting my head when Ran slightly raised her head to gaze up at me.
“You see, Hua and I have the same tastes. Whether it be food, music, books…”
“Really? That’s good.”
After staying silent without saying anything for a long time, she brought her face closer to my ears and softly whispered.
She then gave a cunning smile.
“If you become my husband, oppa, that means you can legally have two wives, you know?”
“No, wait wait wait…”
W, what’s wrong with her? What’s with this straightforward appeal? A, are kids all like this these days? Am I an old man who can’t follow the trend?
“Y, you can’t tease your elders like that!”
“I’m not joking.”
She chuckled while covering her mouth with her hand. T, this was bad for the heart. While I was standing there frozen, Ran wrapped her white and thick arms around my neck and stood on her tippy-toes to whisper into my ears.
“In my hometown… there are a lot of people that get engaged and married at my age.”
Lifting the corners of her lips, she gave a bewitching smile that contained a strange hint of… maturity.
“Thank you, oppa.”
Then, Ran gave an audible chu on my cheeks. This kind of ‘oppa’ with a slightly different relationship in mind wasn’t what I was trying to hear though…
“Y, you see… when it comes to… relationships, it’s not that simple. Besides, if you’re going to live with Hua, you have to ask her for her opinion as well…”
“I think Hua is already—”
It was then. Even though there was no sound, it felt like I heard a sudden click.
It seemed that Hua was in control of the body again. Both the eyes and the inner portion of the hair returned to red.
“Don’t… misunderstand. She was just babbling nonsense.”
“Uhh… o, okay?”
That was quite an easy change, wasn’t it?
“So… Do you think it went well?”
“…Be quiet. No, wait… I wasn’t saying that to you.”
So this is that famous ‘conversation with the inner self’ that teenagers can do, huh? For a while, Hua Ran continued saying, ‘That’s not it. You’re wrong. Be quiet. Why are you the older sister…?’ and wrestled with her inner self. Only after she was somewhat done did she turn her gaze back towards me.
“Did you have a nice chat with your older sister?”
“She’s 14 and you’re 3, so you are the younger one there.”
“No, but it’s only been 3 years since you…”
The three-year-old baby was asserting that she was 17 years old. Well, I guess I didn’t have the right to say anything because I was also considering myself 30…
“Why are you still here?”
“Huh?” I replied.
“Do you have a lot of free time? You should go.”
Where would I even go though? Despite having nowhere else to go, I was pretty much chased out of the dormitory.
“For dinner… meet at 7. At the usual place.”
She turned around and returned to the building without saying anything. The dinner cost was probably going to be on her, right?
This was most likely Hua Ran’s way of asking for an apology. Apologizing with food? She was still a kid.
The captain of the Old Faith’s Chargers of the Cross, Laurent Sarkozy, swallowed his swear word, which was unbefitting of a cleric like himself.
Ever since his birth, he had been raised as a member of the Old Faith’s secret ops. Killing pagans and guiding the traitors that went by the name of New Faith down the correct path, his etiquette naturally turned worse.
The amount of manpower and money invested by Xeruem for this festival was not small.
Smuggling extremely rare articles, adding in people to incite criticism against the demon girl, and even making an extremely politically radical movement to guide the demon girl to the pagans of the east – they were all part of the large investment they put in.
However, the result was a total failure.
Kang Ryun was arrested, and even their plan of making Hua Ran the enemy of the entire continent after her ascension in order to create a negative public perception of the protestants, that talked about embracing demi-humans, failed.
In the first place, the one that installed the restrictions on that demon girl was the saintess of the protestants, the 1st Princess.
If Hua Ran had gone berserk, people would talk about asking the 1st Princess to take responsibility, which would support the 2nd Princess, who had the same goals in mind as Xeruem.
And yet all of that had crumbled down, all because those stupid pagans of the east did things like idiots!
『You will become our never-forgotten martyrs. My brothers.』
That was what Renault Lusignan said after gathering all the members of the Chargers of the Cross that had infiltrated the city.
『Through your courage, you will show what true faith is to the protestant traitors.』
『Every breath taken by that wicked thing threatens our faith and the peace of our continent. Through your blood and flesh, you will be creating a foundation as firm as a rock.』
In other words, he was telling them to attack Hua Ran and prove how dangerous and violent she was by shedding their blood and flesh.
Chairman Eriu Casarr of Merkarva, and the 1st Princess of El Rath Kingdom, who was at the same time the saintess of Zeon, had worked in cooperation to put a restriction on the Heavenly Yaksha and admit her into the academy.
That was in alignment with the New Faith’s stance of having a social harmony with demi-humans, but the fear and wariness against demons were still very prominent in this world.
Taking a demi-human into the academy despite the negative social perception of the continent was definitely a risky move. What would happen if news spread about how Hua Ran had massacred more than a hundred people?
Whether she was acting in self-defense or not didn’t matter. The important thing was that a demi-human had brutally killed people.
As long as they could spread a notorious news about the New Faith, one secret squad of the Old Faith was a cheap price to pay.
Besides, the Chargers of the Cross was a secret organization that consisted of unidentifiable people. After they were all dead, some might realize their connection with the Old Faith but there was no way of proving that to the public.
But all of that would only work out if all the members of the Chargers of the Cross were to die. In order to avoid being tortured, they even had to commit suicide with a hidden poison if they somehow initially avoided death.
And the captain of the Chargers of the Cross, Laurent Sarkozy, was a bit too old to walk the path of a martyr.
『Brothers, your names will be forever etched into the Templar Archives as honorable martyrs.』
Laurent wasn’t interested in etching his name or whatever. You had to die the shittiest of deaths to have your name written there, did you not? That was the archive of names that old men read through over a hundred-year-old wine, while reminiscing about the young fanatics that they forced to death.
The most disgusting part was how Laurent couldn’t even refuse the order. He had grown up as a part of the secret organization and knew what not to do better than anyone else. Even if he were to run away after ignoring the command, he would only get assassinated by a different organization and die a worse death.
In the end, he had no choice but to charge towards his death as the so-called martyrs.
It was in the middle of the night with shadow crawling up the buildings when a bunch of people with impure motives appeared on the empty fields of Merkarva Academy. They appeared from underground, which had been dug next to a fake set of shops owned by the Old Faith.
Through the old hole, which they had dug out in order to one day attack the education facility of knights and mages that had fallen out of the religion’s influence, the 100 men led by Laurent infiltrated the academy and made their way to their destination.
“We are all here Captain.”
Hearing the words of his vice-captain, Laurent looked at his men that were wearing black robes over their faces. They were the young fanatics that could sacrifice their lives anytime for their faith, and seeing them made him wonder if that was how he had been in his own youth.
“Take out your holy swords…” he said as the hundred Chargers each took out a dagger from their clothes.
Those daggers, which were quite shabby for holy swords, were painted in darkness and were giving off an evil aura of a cursed dagger.
In fact, the method of manufacturing these cursed items that the Old Faith laid their hands on after dealing with the wicked sorcerers hundreds of years ago, was re-framed as Xeruem’s secret skill after the witch hunt and the religious revolution.
It contained a curse of mental aberration. Even though it was a low-grade curse that wasn’t very effective on its own, it was one that amplified itself after being used multiple times.
“One strike per person. We will stab with these daggers. Let’s move.”
Right when Laurent was about to lead forward the fanatics that were ready to sacrifice themselves…
“I don’t think this is a good time for a walk.”
A bold voice of a different person echoed across and halted their feet.
Laurent immediately lifted his head and turned to where the voice came from. On the rooftop of a building that was close to their destination, the special dormitory, at around 40 meters above ground-level…
“It’s time to sleep so let them rest. They’re tired from all the festival and stuff.”
…A wild beast wearing the robe of darkness was gazing down at them.
He was smiling but the viciousness of his eyes couldn’t be concealed and the dense killing intent and the violent, oppressive aura of a carnivorous beast suppressed them. Even though his tone of voice was very nonchalant like someone meeting an old friend, his eyes were burning as if he would rip them to pieces.
“Accept your loss. What you’re doing now is ambushing the winner after their ceremony of victory. It is neither elegant nor commendable. In fact, that’s what rats would do.”
Despite the nature of the action itself, the fanatics had pride in themselves for doing this so they were enraged by his comment, but none of them stepped forward. They all instinctively realized that fighting against that man here was not an option.
“100 Chargers of the Cross, huh. If you really wanted to go all-in, you should have brought the Templar Knights as well.”
He immediately saw through them. More importantly, how did he even know they were going to infiltrate tonight in secret?
A spear came flying from somewhere and landed in the man’s hand as the silver spear then chillingly gleamed under the moonlight. The chargers flinched upon seeing a 2-meter-long weapon suddenly appear from nowhere.
In spite of realizing that he sounded like a third-rate villain, Renault still shouted that out loud. Even the man standing on the roof seemed to have heeded to his call – after jumping up from the building like a high-jumper, he pulled his spear back with the moon behind him.
The spearman flying in the sky pulled his right hand back as the dimensions started to crack around his spear.
Orb of the Grim Reaper.
His mana activated and gathered the demonic mana of the underworld through the orb as the spearman then tossed it with force.
The javelin struck down and Laurent assumed that the spear would pierce through one of them. There were a hundred of them there and someone was bound to get hit by it.
But what would come after that was more important. After landing on the ground without his spear, the defenseless spearman would definitely be stabbed multiple times with the cursed daggers.
The silver spear flew down in a straight angle. It was one that would definitely take away the life of one of his men…
It suddenly twisted in the air.
The spear suddenly started twisting and snapping at an unbelievable angle for a thrown weapon as it then drove straight into the ground.
He must be incredibly unlucky or something to hit no one with a hundred men clustered in one place, but regardless, the spear ended up in the ground without hitting anyone.
Scoffs echoed from everywhere. Seeing the nonsensical and unlucky turn of events for the spearman, the Chargers of the Cross mocked him and sneered in scorn.
“You fool. Where do you think you’re throwing that—”
It was then. A shapeless layer of mana exploded out with the spear sitting at the center and traveled faster than they could perceive it. When Laurent came into contact with that outburst of mana…
His heart dropped an inch. It felt like his soul had been sliced apart by that burst of mana.
It was an unblockable attack that didn’t even give them any time to respond but somehow, Laurent remained on his feet. As a veteran with plentiful experiences and as the only person in the Chargers of the Cross that was at the level of a knight, he managed to withstand the feeling of his soul being hacked and sliced to pieces.
Laurent was shocked after looking around. Not a single man was standing behind him.
In just one move, a hundred of them were neutralized.
“Fainting for non-knights, huh. This is actually not that bad.”
The spear traveled down like a mace. Laurent quickly blocked the attack but the turbulent black aura of the spear suppressed him.
It was the simultaneous activation of Shura and the Demonic Spear of Darkness. The force behind the attack was so immense that Laurent fell down despite successfully blocking the attack.
He was gasping for breath with his back feeling like it was being crushed when the man walked up and ‘scoffed’ like a longtime friend.
“What’s wrong? Try a bit harder. Go on! You can do it…!”
Suddenly, he trampled down on his face with his boots. Along with a deafening thud, the ground split open.
“I am done with them.”
After kicking Laurent so hard that his face might have crumpled inside, the man, Korin Lork, turned around and gave a shout. In response, Lady Josephine slowly walked towards him.
“I could have dealt with them myself though.”
“There was something I wanted to test out,” I replied.
“You mean that skill just then?”
“It’s great for dealing with weaklings, right?”
“…Anyway, thanks for your work, even when you haven’t fully recovered yet. We will arrest them now.”
Securities of the Academy suddenly appeared from the darkness all around, and began tying up the unconscious Chargers of the Cross.
“Oh right. They have a capsule of poison instead of their right back teeth for suicide, so please get rid of those.”
There were a lot of things Josephine wanted to ask him, ranging from how he knew about the hole the Old Faith had dug out over a hundred years ago, to the reason why he requested her to observe the Old Faith.
For now, she just decided to be content with the fact that the boy was their ally and proceeded with arresting the unconscious Laurent.
The moon began to set over the horizon.
Night was coming to an end, and the unending heat of the festival was about to pick up once again.
- 1Oppa(older brother)- is used by women toward their elder brother or a close elder male friend in a friendly manner(usually up to ~30 y.o) while Uncle(Ahjussi) is used toward older men (~30+), it’s considered rude referring a young man like that