༺ The Beginning of Hell ༻
“Ugh… Damn it.”
As soon as Frey stepped inside, the mansion began crumbling. Frey then uttered a brief swear and started dodging the falling rubble.
“No… I won’t last even a minute if I go on like this.”
The entrance he came from had already collapsed, and the places that were still intact had already begun crumbling rapidly.
In such a terrifying situation, Frey shut his eyes and spread his stellar mana in all directions.
Soon after, he exhausted almost all of his mana and collapsed while coughing up blood.
“She’s in front… She’s right in front.”
But thankfully, whether he was lucky or unlucky, the person he was looking for was right in front of him. So even though he lacked mana, Frey was able to find her.
“W-Who are you…”
Frey endured the agonizing pain with his sheer will as he discovered Ferloche lying on the floor in front of him.
“Ferloche! Get up! You have to get out!”
Frey tried to lift the collapsed Ferloche, but she realized that her body had no strength left and cried out in a desperate voice.
“I don’t know who you are… but get out of here. You can’t save me.”
She could only reply in a feeble tone because she had already exhausted her holy power while searching for injured students and the children, who were in critical condition after inhaling the poisonous smoke.
“No, I can never give up. Never.”
Of course, there was no way Frey could give up on Ferloche. Her death was one of the system’s 『Game Over』 conditions, and it was also something Frey could never let happen.
“Don’t do this… Leave me and go…”
Then Frey lifted Ferloche’s fallen figure.
In fact, he didn’t even have the strength left to leave this place, nor the strength to lift Ferloche. But Frey’s resolve to save her, no matter what, was enough to keep him going.
However, God didn’t seem to grace the tale of the Hero and the Saintess. Because as soon as Frey lifted Ferloche and turned around, the mansion began collapsing completely.
“The cellar, we have to go to the cellar…”
In such a desperate situation, Frey staggered while holding Ferloche in his arms and started heading somewhere.
Sometimes he inhaled the poisonous gas and coughed up blood.
Sometimes he suffered deep wounds from the collapsing rubble.
And other times, additional burn scars were engraved all over his body.
Yet, he didn’t stop walking forward.
“I’ve arrived… now…”
After walking for a long time, Frey managed to reach the entrance to the cellar.
Frey opened the entrance to the cellar that had been enchanted with a protection magic circle, carefully pushed Ferloche inside, and sighed.
However, he soon realized that the protection magic circle cast on the cellar’s door had been shattered.
When Frey noticed the charred corpse of the Assassination squad captain right next to him, he was able to figure out that he had destroyed the protective magic circle surrounding the cellar, and in turn, died from the magical backlash.
Of course, in the desperate situation, such a discovery wasn’t helpful at all.
“Hey… why aren’t you coming in? Hey…!”
Frey was deep in thought, but upon hearing Ferloche’s weak voice from the cellar, he muttered with a determined look.
“If it’s going to be a bad ending either way… It would be better for Ferloche to survive than myself, who will be completely useless because of the 『Game Over』 penalty.”
After that, Frey violently shut the cellar door and began pouring his last vestiges of stellar mana into the shattered protective magic circle.
Of course, the amount itself wasn’t enough to restore the magic circle.
However, the stellar mana, inherited by the Starlight family, generates explosive power when the members of the Starlight family sacrifice themselves to save others.
Having restored the magic circle with that miraculous power, Frey quietly closed his eyes and whispered.
The last person he thought of was none other than his mother.
“Hey! Why aren’t you coming in!? Hey!”
In the pitch-black cellar, Ferloche clung to the door and shouted desperately.
Because the man who saved her hadn’t entered the cellar yet.
After crying out for a long time, Ferloche started crawling towards the doorway with all her remaining strength.
Eventually, when she arrived at the door with the protection magic circle, she desperately tried to open the door.
After struggling with the door for a long time, she finally managed to open it. However, someone fell on top of her as soon as the door opened, and she stumbled back to the floor alongside him.
“Cough! Cough!! Ugh…”
Ferloche, who was momentarily shocked, began to cough as a result of the smoke that leaked through the open door. She pushed the person who had fallen on top of her aside and started heading towards the door again.
“H-Hey! Are you alright!?”
Ferloche closed the door with the last of her strength, and grabbed the person who was lying next to her, then began to shake him.
“P-Please don’t die! Hey!”
But when the man lying next to her didn’t move, Ferloche cried out and began concentrating holy power in her hands.
She had already used most of her holy power reserves to save the other children, but she nevertheless pushed her remaining power to the limit.
“Still, I still have a little bit of holy power left… So… if I give him just a little bit of strength…”
Because as long as there were still signs of life left in the limp man, she had the potential to save him…
His life, on the verge of being extinguished, was like a candle in the wind. If even a little bit of her holy power was infused, he might be able to hold on until he was rescued.
With such hope, Ferloche eagerly began to imbue him with her holy power.
But something was strange.
She was obviously trying her best to infuse holy power, but it wasn’t being transferred to him.
“Something’s strange? I’m obviously using it?”
Ferloche thought that her holy power had completely exhausted and checked her hand, but it was clear that, albeit barely, she was emanating holy power.
“W-Why can’t I infuse holy power? Why?”
Seeing this, Ferloche began attempting to infuse holy power again, but she never felt the man’s life force increase.
“Wait, this happened once before.”
Ferloche, who was restless and despondent at such an anomaly, began to mumble as a sharp glint flickered across her eyes.
“It was also in the cellar of the orphanage. At that time, the subject of the phenomenon was… I’m sure…!”
Ferloche muttered in a distinct, clear voice, and reached out her trembling hand towards the mask that the man was wearing.
Ferloche took off the man’s mask with a nervous expression, then stiffened.
“F… F… Frey?”
It was because Frey’s face, which had a relieved smile, greeted Ferloche.
“Y-You just why? Why did you save me? Why?”
Because of that, Ferloche fell into a state of panic, and began to mutter as she hurriedly infused more of her holy power into him.
“Isn’t Frey a villain? An evil person? A person who hurts everyone…? Why… Why…”
As she continued muttering, Ferloche stumbled and collapsed next to Frey because she exhausted all of her remaining power.
“…The Demon God… the Demon God, will soon awaken.”
With those words, Ferloche lost consciousness. Five minutes before Clana found her, she woke up.
“Frey… wake up… please…”
“…Lady Ferloche, how did this happen?”
Ferloche was holding Frey’s cold corpse amidst the rubble. Clana was staring blankly at Ferloche’s weeping figure, and inquired with a puzzled expression on her face.
“Pri-Princess Clana… Frey is… Frey is… dead.”
Then Ferloche, whose face was covered in tears, wept and answered.
Clana briefly responded to her words, then began to glance at Isolet, who was standing next to her.
Isolet felt an indescribable emotion as she kept staring at the scene in a daze.
‘…With this, everything is over.’
Clana looked away from her and quietly mumbled to herself.
‘Frey is dead, much earlier than expected, not to mention, the Moonlight family was also crushed. So now… everything will return to normal.’
Not long ago, Clana received the news that the Moonlight Family’s Elder Council had been disbanded.
It was quite good news for Clana, who would have had to deal with those guys who broke their promise with her and tried to harm innocent commoners, even if she had to do it on her own.
‘…Why the hell did they break our deal?’
However, doubts still lingered.
Clana had offered the Moonlight family full support if they lent her assistance with Frey’s assassination.
Of course, she knew that the Moonlight family would be annihilated soon, so it was a deal she had made to use them while she could.
So, after forcing Frey and the nobles into a team, she thought of handing over the information to the Moonlight Family as soon as their location was revealed by the mark engraved on them.
If all went according to plan, within days of the information regarding their location being leaked, assassins were supposed to break into their base and assassinate Frey along with the nobles who were bound to become the cancer of the Empire.
And, as a result, a commoner named ‘Alice’ would be blamed, who earnestly begged for Frey’s death.
Since she was considered to be a competent assassin of a secret organization, as the Moonlight Family’s secret ally, she had been tampering with information, Alice’s alibi, and evidence.
Alice would eventually be apprehended by the investigation squad and punished for Frey’s assassination and the other nobles.
Of course, the Moonlight family thought of her as a onetime pawn, but Clana strongly insisted that they protect her.
Therefore, Clana, who also considered convict Alice’s rescue operation into her plan, was satisfied and waited for the day when her plan would be put into effect.
However, everything went wrong because of Isolet’s actions.
Not only did she manipulate the voting results with her clever magic, but she even suddenly changed the commanders of both teams.
However, Clana didn’t give up, and she contacted Alice through Serena, who was the Provisional Lord of the Moonlight Family, and cooked up another assassination scheme.
‘The secret Lord of the family… what the hell was he thinking?’
But last night, an urgent letter arrived from Serena stating that the Lord of the secret family suddenly acted on his own.
– The Secret Lord has taken matters in his own hands. The First Assassination Squad of the Moonlight Family has been deployed to the Starlight Family Mansion. If you’re near the mansion right now…
After reading the letter, Clana rushed to the Starlight Duchy, but by the time she arrived, the mansion had already been engulfed in flames.
‘I’m glad. Only Frey died.’
Clana was panicking for a bit, but she finally managed to breathe a sigh of relief now that she was certain that Ferloche had survived.
Clana, of course, was well aware that even if the secret Lord had acted on his own, this event was the result of her own plan.
And she was well aware that her plan had wounded many commoners.
So, she would distribute her wealth to the commoners, and…
“Frey… open your eyes… please…”
Clana, who had been immersed in her thoughts for a long time, came to her senses when she heard Ferloche weeping beside her.
‘…Why is she sad?’
Of course, it was understandable that since Ferloche is a kind-hearted person, she might be behaving like that… However, not too long ago, she was also someone who was hell-bent on killing Frey.
But why was she now looking at Frey with such a sorrowful expression?
“Lady Ferloche, wake up.”
Clana, who was bewildered for a moment, soon decided that treating Ferloche was the priority. So, she helped her to get up.
“Ah… ah, but…”
“You don’t have to feel guilty. It’s Frey. The evil and repulsive Frey.”
Nevertheless, as Ferloche reached out her hand to Frey and cried out, Clana spoke to her adamantly.
“He paid the price for his crime. It looks like he died a painful death. Still, compared to the sins he committed in the previous timeline, it’s like drops of blood in comparison. So don’t feel needlessly guilty…”
“But… But, Princess Clana…”
But after cutting off Clana, Ferloche shed more tears and spoke.
“The one who saved me is… Frey.”
Clana was shocked for a moment after hearing her words, and said with a worried expression on her face.
“Because you went through so much… you’re even hallucinating…”
“No, I’m not… it’s the truth, it’s the truth!”
“This is bad. You need to go and get treated right away…”
However, when Ferloche continued to weep and shout, Clana shook her head and grabbed her hand and tried to move her…
“…What’s that supposed to mean?”
Isolet, who was looking at Frey with a blank expression on her face, asked Ferloche a question.
“Frey… saved you?”
“Yes… Frey emerged from the flames… and carried me here…”
The story that Ferloche told was quite unbelievable for Clana.
“Frey, who was wearing a black mask, came all the way here while carrying you down here?”
“Yes… And, after he pushed me in here, he did something outside!”
Having said that, Ferloche pointed to the door with a trembling hand. Clana then replied with a bitter smile.
“Lady Ferloche. Frey wouldn’t do that. You must have hallucinated.”
“N-No…! Definitely… definitely…!”
“Everyone, please take Lady Ferloche out.”
Still, when Ferloche continued to speak in a trembling voice, Clana ordered the investigators, who had just arrived.
Ferloche, who had been caught and dragged away by the investigation squad, suddenly began to scream urgently.
“Don’t drag me out of here! Let me go! Let me go!!”
“Saintess, you need to be treated quickly. We have to move.”
“Princess Clana! I understand what the Prophecy meant! What we were doing was completely wrong from the very beginning!”
“…Please take her out quickly.”
However, Clana, who thought that Ferloche was having a seizure, urged the investigation squad in a serious voice.
“No… don’t open the door… don’t open the door…”
Ferloche, who had been struggling for such a long time, soon lost consciousness and collapsed as soon as she went outside.
“Please take Professor Isolet out as well.”
Clana stared at the scene bitterly, ordered the investigation squad to take Isolet outside as well, who had been looking at Frey with a blank expression. She then turned her gaze towards Frey.
“Still, we can’t be sure.”
Then suddenly, she muttered with an icy expression and began to approach Frey while gathering golden solar mana in her hand.
“You’re going to be resurrected soon anyway, right? Because you’re the Demon King’s aide.”
In the previous timeline, the Demon King revived their dead subordinates several times.
Of course, reviving the dead is quite difficult even for the Demon King, so it’s not a magic that anyone can use… Recently, Frey’s actions were quite akin to what the Demon King’s closest aides would do.
So, if we consider the memories of the previous timeline… The probability of the Demon King reviving Frey is quite high.
‘And, in the first place, he might be disguising his death with magic.’
If he was disguising his death, all of this would only help Frey.
It was a great opportunity to fake his death and enter the ranks of the Demon King’s Army.
After she organized her thoughts as such, Clana pointed her finger at Frey where a radiant golden mana had gathered and said.
“This is for Lady Serena.”
Soon after, a golden beam of light pierced Frey’s skull, but Clana wasn’t satisfied yet as she continued to conjure up more arrows.
“This is for Ms. Irina and Lady Ferloche.”
– Pew!! Pew!!
Numerous golden arrows pierced Frey’s body. Soon Frey’s body became a mangled mess akin to Irina and Ferloche’s corpses from the previous timeline.
“This is for Ms. Kania.”
On top of that, Clana manifested a golden dagger, this time piercing Frey’s throat.
“Finally… this is for myself.”
Having said that, Clana pulled out the dagger that pierced Frey’s throat and subsequently pierced his heart, where Frey had stabbed her in the previous timeline.
At the end of that, Clana, who had completely confirmed Frey’s death, heaved a deep sigh and muttered to herself.
“As expected, I… don’t have the qualifications to be the Imperial Princess.”
She allied herself with evil, and as a result wounded several innocent people.
That fact continued to torment her with guilt.
It was a miracle that everyone besides Frey survived, but she couldn’t imagine how terrible it would have been if there was even one casualty.
“…When it’s all over, I’ll turn myself in.”
Moreover, even if there were no casualties, it was a situation in which everyone could have died.
So, she must bear the responsibility.
With that thought in mind, Clana began to concentrate a vast amount of solar mana.
Frey, who helped the Demon King awaken his power in the previous timeline, was dead, so there was still time.
She would hold on until she found the Hero mentioned in the Prophecy, until the corruption of the Imperial Family has ended and the rotten aristocrats purged.
After that, she wouldn’t mind even if the entire world judged her.
“Anyway… I can’t even bear to see your body at the funeral.”
Clana created a spherical ball of solar mana in the room, muttered quietly and walked out of the cellar.
A protective magic circle entered her field of vision when the basement cellar closed.
Traces of the magic circle being shattered and reactivated still lingered.
Clana suddenly remembered Ferloche’s words, but she soon shook her head and began to move forward quickly.
“Princess! Was there a masked man there?”
However, she was soon interrupted by a girl.
“Because he saved us all.”
“That’s right, and in the end, he charged inside the mansion on the verge of collapse to save Lady Ferloche…”
“Is he alive? If he is alive, I have to repay him…”
Upon hearing their words, Clana had a dazed expression on her face until Irina, who had just regained consciousness, screamed forlornly.
“Frey!! Where are you!? Frey!!!”
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