༺ An Unfulfilled Promise ༻
Clana looked at Irina, who was panic-stricken, and inquired in a trembling voice.
“Why… Why are you calling Frey’s name with that expression?”
“Frey! Where is Frey! Frey!!”
However, Irina shoved Clana aside and began frantically digging through the debris.
“Please… please! Please please please…”
“Irina… Why are you…?”
Irina then approached her friend Arianne and asked a question in a quivering voice.
“A-Arianne… Do you know where the man in the black hood is?”
Then Irina, who finally came to her senses, hurriedly changed the name she was calling out and asked a question.
“As far as I can remember…”
Then Arianne frowned and tried to recall her memories.
“I was getting Lulu out of there, but I fainted when I was struck by a burning pillar. That was my last memory and the last time I saw him.”
When she had finished her words, Irina got up hurriedly and called all the students out loud.
“You guys!! Do you know what happened to the man in the black hood!?”
Unlike her usual self, desperation and sorrow lingered in Irina’s voice, but the students couldn’t answer her.
Because they already knew the bitter truth.
“…He rushed back into the crumbling mansion to rescue Lady Ferloche.”
It seemed that no one was going to come forward, but suddenly a girl stepped forward and said.
“And… he hasn’t returned yet.”
Upon hearing those words, Irina plopped down with a crestfallen expression, while the students next to the girl began to murmur with a grim look on their faces.
“I don’t know who he was, but he was quite brave…”
“Yes, if he hadn’t carried me out the window, I’d have suffocated to death…”
“The assassin almost stabbed me with his sword… The man in that hood shielded me and got stabbed instead. Thanks to him, I’m alive… but he suffered a major wound on his back…”
“Wait, Lady Ferloche is alive? So… maybe he’s alive in the cellar too?”
As one of those students spoke in a hopeful voice, the faces of the students around them lit up.
“That’s right! He went to save Lady Ferloche? So if Lady Ferloche is alive… He must be alive too!”
“Princess! Did you not see anyone else in the basement earlier?”
“I hope he is alive…”
Eventually, as each of the students uttered hopeful words, prayed, or asked questions to Clana, Clana’s expression turned more and more pale as she looked at them.
Clana, who was staring blankly at the expectant students with a pale face, quickly dashed back to the cellar.
Clana, who had hastily absorbed the ever-expanding orb back into her own body, examining Frey with her trembling look on her face.
There remained a black hood that someone had taken off next to his face.
“You, you? Did you save them?”
At that moment, Clana realized that what Ferloche had said was indeed the truth, and at the same time, pale and tired, she began to mutter with a mysterious expression on her face.
“Wh-Why? Why did you save Ferloche… and all the students?”
Clana, who continued muttering, quietly began to approach Frey.
“You… you’re a villain. I still remember the feeling when you stabbed my heart. I had managed to survive until then.”
Clana settled down next to Frey’s mangled corpse and muttered again with a blank expression.
“Y-You were laughing sinisterly even when you stabbed my heart, weren’t you? As if you were excited to activate the magic circle that would destroy the Empire… truly evil, Huh?”
Clana, who had been muttering for a while in a daze, soon realized that someone was patting her shoulder.
“Princess, you did something incredible, didn’t you?”
Clana, who was taken aback by the voice she heard, and slumped forward upon realizing that the head of the investigation squad was staring at her.
“Damaging the corpse… Destruction of the crime scene… Even if it’s Your Highness, the Third Imperial Princess, I can’t simply ignore this.”
The leader of the investigation squad rebuked Clana in a stern tone, then raised the corners of his mouth. He then finished speaking and formed a circle with his index finger and thumb.
“…However, if Your Highness shows me a little bit of generosity, I can close my eyes.”
Having said that, the leader winked and spoke to the investigators beside him.
“Carry the body and take it out. Don’t drop it like last time.”
Then, the investigators loaded Frey’s mangled corpse on a stretcher and began to slowly leave the cellar.
“I’ll send you an invoice by mail soon! If possible, give it in cash… If Your Highness can’t afford it, even jewels… Princess? Are you listening?”
Meanwhile, Clana left the chattering leader behind her as she slowly began following the other investigators.
She didn’t realize yet, but she intuitively felt that something was wrong.
“He survived! I’m so glad!”
“Well… he looked really strong. There’s no way he’d die that easily.”
When Frey’s ragged corpse emerged, the commoners flocked to it one by one with bright faces.
“P-Please tell me your name! Even if I only have a part-time job, I will definitely repay you…”
Among them, the younger sister of the orphanage worker who had been saved by Frey while she was on the verge of death had the brightest expression amongst all. She spoke in a merry tone.
However, upon discovering Frey’s cold and mangled body, she stumbled backwards, with a pale face.
“F, Frey? Why is Frey…?”
Eventually, the girl muttered with a crestfallen face, while the gathered students all looked at Frey’s face and muttered dazedly.
“What? Why is Frey…?”
“He went somewhere in the morning? Why did he end up like this…”
“Wait a minute, but this outfit and the hood… Perhaps…?”
As the students slowly began racking their brains, Arianne, who was quietly looking at Frey, muttered with a shocked expression on her face.
“The one who saved everyone… Was it really Frey?”
When those words were spoken, all the surrounding students froze on the spot.
In fact, they hypothesized as such as well, but their brains, which couldn’t accept such a conclusion, were forced to let the truth sink in upon hearing Arianne’s statement.
“It was… Frey. Who saved me?”
“Unbelievable… Why did Frey…?”
“I don’t understand… You mocked me up until yesterday. But you took a knife for me?”
While all the students were muttering in panic, someone slowly began to approach from afar.
“Frey… it can’t be. Frey. Open your eyes. Frey…”
Irina approached his body with a bitter smile.
“Stop kidding around and wake up, Frey. Why are you pulling the pranks you used to do when we were little?”
Although she was smiling, her expression was overshadowed by her inner grim look. Meanwhile, the students moved away one by one from Frey’s side. Irina settled down next to Frey and opened her mouth.
“Fine, I lost, so stop it. Let’s go eat some fish. Hmm? Frey?”
“Frey, I was wrong, so stop it. I’ll be better in the future. I haven’t even apologized to you yet. So please…”
“…Lord Frey is dead.”
“No!! HE’s NOT DEAD!!!”
A student who couldn’t bear to watch Irina tried to stop her, but when Irina screamed at her, the student flinched and backed away.
“Frey… Please, please, open your eyes. I couldn’t even apologize to you… I didn’t even right my wrongs yet… Please… Please, please…”
After that, Irina continued to mutter while shaking Frey. Meanwhile, Clana, upon seeing this bizarre scene, momentarily stopped her trail of thoughts. She then cautiously approached her and inquired.
“Th-This… what’s the mean—”
“…Princess, I’ll only ask you one thing.”
Then Irina suddenly stopped shaking Frey and glared at Clana. She then spoke in a voice filled with murderous intent.
“Princess, you’re the one who planned this, right?”
“Am I right?”
When the Princess heard those words and stuttered, Irina spoke in an icy voice.
“Did you really scheme for Frey’s assassination, just like he said…”
When Clana couldn’t utter an answer in response, Irina screamed while conjuring up a huge meteor in the air.
Clana, who was backing off at the overwhelming display of magic, stumbled on a stone and fell down. Meanwhile, Irina kept maintaining the meteor even though it was intensely draining her mana. She then spoke in a crestfall voice.
“Tell me. Princess.”
“T-That’s right… that’s what I did…”
In the end, when Clana muttered a faint reply after being overwhelmed by Irina, she cast a blank gaze at Clana.
“Do you know… what have you done?”
Irina, who had been staring blankly at Clana for a long time, immediately spoke to Clana as a shade of sorrow and rage both dwelled in her voice.
“You just destroyed the world’s only hope.”
“The world’s only hope…?”
Irina trembled as she continued to direct the meteor towards Clana. And soon she ended the conversation by casting down the meteor upon her.
“…He was the Hero destined to defeat the Demon King.”
At the same time as she uttered those words, the meteor, which landed right next to Clana, produced a resounding roar and began burning.
It was because Irina, who even though hated Clana, was still well aware of her position. Thus, she redirected the path of the meteor right at the end.
“Frey… a Hero?”
When Irina staggered from mana exhaustion and collapsed on the ground, Clana stared at the scene in shock and soon began ruminating over the meaning of Irina’s words.
Then Clana turned her head upon hearing the sudden cry. She slowly got up and began walking back to the place where Frey’s corpse remained.
The white owl placed the letter down on Frey’s chest as it began flapping its wings on his face with a bitter look in his eyes.
The moment Clana saw the familiar handwriting on the letter, she plopped down on the ground helplessly and thought to herself,
Something’s wrong. It’s been wrong for a long time.
“So… Frey sacrificed himself to save you guys…?”
“Yes… I don’t know why…”
“He saved us, even though Frey’s condition was the worst.… he did everything he could to save us.”
Isolet, who had been staring blankly for a while, soon came to her senses and began to question the children.
It wasn’t because her indescribable feelings were gnawing away at her, rather; she was asking in order to find the truth. She needed to figure out what was true and what was false.
She continued her inquiry without missing a single detail.
“Frey…just why did he do that?”
At the end of her inquiring, Isolet came to a single conclusion.
That Frey saved everyone.
That was the only truth all the testimonies and evidence pointed to.
‘You… weren’t you a villain after all?’
But Isolet couldn’t figure out why Frey did it.
It was true that he was her first disciple. However, she still considered him to be her painful failure even though he used to be compassionate… Regardless, the present Frey was so evil that his actions could never be justified.
But why did he choose to save everyone at this own cost?
Did he suddenly awakened to his just and kind heart from childhood?
“Young Master! Young Master!”
While she was engrossed in such thoughts for a long time. Suddenly, she heard a mournful cry from somewhere.
“Young Master! Are you alright……”
“Brother, what in the world happened…”
Kania and Aria, who rushed into the yard with pale faces, froze upon seeing the collapsed mansion.
Meanwhile, Clana, who had been kneeling by Frey’s side blankly until then, turned pale when Kania appeared.
If it was Kania who betrayed her and allied with Frey, she would know the truth.
And the moment she hears the truth from Kania, not a single thing will ever be the same.
However, no matter how hard one tries to look away from the truth, they can’t avert their eyes from it.1Covering the sky with the palm of your hand: A proverb sarcastic about the shallow knowledge of people along with ‘a frog in a well’ in claiming that ‘the sky is this small’ by saying ‘covering the sky with one’s palm.’ Also, it is mainly used to mean ‘ even if you try to hide the truth, you can’t hide it ‘ in the sense that covering the sky with your palm does not completely cover the sky.
Kania, who had wandered around frantically, eventually discovered Frey’s body.
Kania momentarily stared at Frey’s body in a daze, then knelt down.
“W-What happened? How… How the hell did this happen!? What the hell happened!!”
Meanwhile, Aria looked at her brother’s icy corpse in disbelief and began yelling at the surrounding people.
“Wh-Why did only my brother die!! Why!! Why is it that only my brother died!!!”
Then Isolet, who was watching her, answered in a trembling voice.
“…Frey died saving everyone.”
“The men who broke into the mansion released poisonous gas and set it on fire. Frey fought them off and evacuated the students one by one.”
Having said that, Isolet pointed to the commoners surrounding Frey’s corpse and said.
“These are all the children Frey saved. He saved every single one of them.”
“M-My brother…? You mean my brother really did that?”
When Aria inquired with a quivering gaze, a girl next to Isolet further confirmed Isolet’s words.
“That’s right, and when the fire broke out… He threw all our belongings out of the commoners’ dormitory. I told him not to do that and take care of himself… But he replied that… for commoners, this is all they have…”
When Aria heard her words, tears welled up in her eyes. Meanwhile, Isolet, who was watching her bitterly, quietly closed her eyes and finished speaking.
“After saving everyone … he rushed back into the crumbling mansion to save Lady Ferloche, who was left behind all alone… and eventually managed to save her…”
“He poured all of his mana to restore the protective magic circle outside of the cellar in order to save her… and eventually died when he exhausted his last vestiges of mana…”
Aria, who couldn’t bear to hear Isolet’s words any longer, finally burst into tears, and hugged the Frey’s mangled corpse and lashed out.
“Why… Why the hell did you do that!! Why did you do something you wouldn’t normally do… Why did you do it!! Why the hell…”
“Kania! Y-You know the truth? You know!!”
When Kania spoke in a trembling tone, Aria grabbed Kania by the collar and began to plead.
“Please! Please tell me the truth!! Please…!”
“It’s all over now!! My brother is dead! The mansion is destroyed! So… please tell me the truth now!!”
While Aria was pleading with tears dripping down her face, Kania remained silent.
She too was greatly shocked to see Frey’s cold corpse, and didn’t want to believe in the death of her master. Her master, who was her age, who she had begun to admire, who she had begun to…
“…Kania, do you know something?”
As Kania kept her silence, Isolet, who was standing next to her, opened her mouth.
“If you know anything, please tell me the truth. Please.”
Isolet spoke sincerely and knelt down in front of Kania in order to plead.
“I… must know the truth.”
“That’s right! Please…! Please Kania… You can’t hide everything like this!!”
Then, even Aria began pleading once again.
Tears welled up in Kania’s eyes as she looked at them. The just as she was about to open her mouth, she heard someone’s voice next to her.
Kania turned her gaze towards the familiar voice, and she discovered Clana, who was overhearing their conversation until then, was trying to say something to her with a pale and haggard look on her face. Kania expression turned cold, and she soon began walking towards her.
“…So, how does it feel? How does it feel?”
When Kania asked her with a stony expression on her face, Clana recalled Irina’s reaction earlier and spoke in a trembling voice as her body shuddered.
“I… I want to know the truth…”
“Hey… I think everyone should take a look at this.”
Just as Kania, who was glaring coldly at Clana, was about to say something, a student stepped forward and held out a mailbag.
Isolet, who received the mailbag from the student with a wary expression, immediately froze.
“Uh…before Lord Frey entered the crumbling mansion, he told me there is a will stored in the secret compartment of his bag…”
“Lord Frey’s bag was kept alongside other students’ luggage…”
Isolet, who was listening to the student in a daze, opened the envelope with her trembling hands.
Inside the mailbag, several envelopes of letters, and documents were present.
Isolet carefully sorted several envelopes, then, with a look of disbelief, picked up one of the letters.
Because in one of the letters, she found her name written in a familiar font.
Isolet tore the envelope with trembling hands and tried to read the contents inside. However, the moment she read it, she immediately plopped down to the ground.
She soon began to sob bitterly.
Clana, who was looking at her in bewilderment, found a letter that had fallen in front of her, and cried out.
“W-What this… all about…”
Before long, Clana, who was muttering in panic, began to slowly reach out to the envelope.
However, her eyes were soon painted with the shade of horror, the moment she noticed a wave of dark mana rushing towards her.
“You… you killed Young Master…”
“You… because of you…”
In front of her stood Kania, who began to run rampant with a despairing look on her face as she read the letter that had been sent to her.
“…No, it’s my fault. No. It’s my fault.”
“Ugh… gag.. gag…”
“If I had stayed back at the mansion today… If I had received treatment a little later… I, I…”
Clana tried to activate her solar mana, faced with Kania’s onslaught of black magic. However, the dark mana, filled with utter despair, was too dense and strong.
It was the moment when Kania’s black magic, which had the potential to devour the entire continent, fully awakened.
Clana, who was being choked to death by Kania’s black magic, was able to escape thanks to Isolet and Ferloche, rushing to assist her.
Clana stared blankly at Kania, who kept howling at her while being suppressed by Isolet and Ferloche. The next moment, she noticed a letter had suddenly popped out of the envelope in front of her.
The letter was the will Frey had left for her.
Clana picked up the letter with trembling hands as she constantly coughed because of the residual dark mana that and carefully tore the envelope.
Tears welled up in Clana’s eyes as she carefully read the first verse of the letter.
- 1Covering the sky with the palm of your hand: A proverb sarcastic about the shallow knowledge of people along with ‘a frog in a well’ in claiming that ‘the sky is this small’ by saying ‘covering the sky with one’s palm.’ Also, it is mainly used to mean ‘ even if you try to hide the truth, you can’t hide it ‘ in the sense that covering the sky with your palm does not completely cover the sky.