༺ The Fading Sun ༻
Waking down a snow-covered street, a girl let out a deep breath, releasing a white a mist into the air..,
As she watched the mist spread with a sullen expression, the girl suddenly raised her head and gazed up at the night sky.
Just a few months ago, you could see the twinkling stars and the moon brightly shining in the night sky, but now only a deep darkness lingered.
“Where did it all go wrong?”
Muttering coldly to herself after observing the current state of the night sky, she kept on moving with heavy footsteps.
Despite her wishes, the icy winter wind had blocked the girl from taking another step forward.
Letting out a brief sigh after slowing down her steps, the girl entered the bar she had found nearby in an attempt to shield herself from the fierce winds.
“Come on in…”
In the past, the bartender would have immediately kicked the shabby-looking girl out the door, but now he just had a lost expression as he mumbled his greetings.
Thanks to that, after resting for a while, the girl took the newspaper fluttering next to her and began reading the articles written on it.
However, the moment the girl laid her eyes on the headlines written on the newspaper, she quietly closed her eyes and muttered to herself.
“Even somebody like me… I’m doing the best I can…”
Of course, not a soul remained within this empty bar that could answer the girl’s words, including the bartender.
“Hey, you there, little one.”
Just when the girl, already acutely aware of that fact, clenched her teeth and was about to leave, the bartender began to mumble in a hoarse voice.
“I don’t know why it’s on starless nights like this that people keep on coming in and leaving this city… but I think it’d be better to hurry up and leave this place sooner rather than later.”
“I know that.. that’s why I’m leaving the city right now.”
“No, not just this city… I’m talking about this Empire.”
When she heard the sincere words of the bartender, the girl gave him a helpless shrug and murmured in response.
“Well, the Imperial Family is still holding out right now. So maybe there’s still hope left…”
“Bullshit. If they really are holding up that well… Then why are there no customers hanging around in my bar?”
“Only a few years ago it was full of people, but now look at it!”
Faced with the harsh truth, the girl quietly lowered her head, as the man fell on top of the table once again and began mumbling underneath his breath.
“Oh, whatever… What’s the point in blaming a little kid like you? I’ll just have another drink.”
“…why don’t you just run away?”
At the words of the girl who was just about to leave, the bartender simply grinned and muttered in response.
“It doesn’t matter where I try to escape to, a rotten old drunkard like myself would end up just the same.”
Finished with the conversation, the bartender immediately shut his eyes and began to snore.
Grinding her teeth, the girl finally left the bar and went back to the icy winter winds outside.
The girl looked down at her frostbitten hands after weathering through the wintry breeze for a while.
“Ah, ah… AHHH…!”
Suddenly the girl began exerting force
“Come… Come out…!”
Then, a faint light appeared from her hand, but that was all.
The radiant light that once melted everything that stood in her way couldn’t even melt the snow falling from the sky. She could do nothing but shine light.
“Please… come back…”
The girl who saw her faint and weak light, began to sob and mutter.
It was a statement with many meanings, but none of those statements could occur in reality.
The person she wants is dead, and the light she longs for has long since faded.
The girl who had been crying didn’t get up until the warm tears that ran down her cheeks fell on her hands.
“I… don’t deserve to be sad.”
The girl, who murmured in a cold voice, forced her frozen body to take a step over and over again.
The girl continued to advance through the bitter cold that turned into pain, until eventually even that pain disappeared.
“I’m here guys.”
She arrived in a place quite familiar.
A place where she had been visiting every weekend for several years as an act of repentance, a place where the footsteps of others have long since faded.
“…I’m sorry for coming.”
Every time she came here, she apologized.
Because if she thoughtlessly showed up her here, she wondered if they would be angry while he resting in their graves. However, she never missed a single day of apology.
However, the added guilt each time she apologized often surpassed her sense of reality.
Just because she apologized to those who have died because of her actions doesn’t mean they will ever come back.
“Oh dear… I need to fix this…”
The girl who opened the gate leading to the courtyard of what once was a quaint mansion, mumbled as the door creaked and stopped.
“…That’s right. Today will be the last day, right?”
The girl sighed as she spoke and then went into the courtyard with her head bowed as if to symbolize her grave sin..
As soon as she arrived, she headed towards where the incident took place, bowed her head for a moment and began to mutter her prayers.
She did this because she wondered if this would relieve Frey’s soul, who was sleeping in the mansion’s cellar.
The girl who came out of the mansion where only traces of its glory remained approached the gray tombstone in the distance and nodded her head in greeting.
“I’m really sorry I haven’t been able to come lately. I’ve had some trouble…”
The girl, who was stroking Frey’s tombstone, said so and took off her robe. Thus, revealing her appearance..
She had a bob hair as she cut her long, lush golden hair. Numerous scars were engraved in her formerly unscathed body. She was Clana Solar Sunrise, who would probably be the last Empress of the Empire.
“…I’m sorry. It was quite humiliating.”
The Empress was weeping while kneeling in front of the tombstone, clothed in a shabby robe.
It would cause quite the uproar, but it’s not that surprising if it’s the Sunrise Empire.
After all, the fall of the Sunrise Empire was all but set in stones.
“At first, we won a few battles… I thought there was hope… Now that my solar mana has dried up, and the winter is still continuing… We can’t hold on for much longer.”
The exhausted Clana, who was unsure of how much time had passed between the incident and her cruel reality, began to mumble subconsciously.
“If you two were alive… this wouldn’t have happened.”
While speaking, Clana turned her gazed and looked at Serena’s grave.
Clana looked at the two graves with her mouth closed for a while, then began to speak in a trembling voice.
“The Demon King’s army has reached the Imperial Capital. Because of that, it seems that there is only that barkeeper left in the Capital, besides the Imperial Army, whom I met with earlier.”
Clana, who muttered while recalling the drunken barkeeper she had met earlier, spoke in a defeated tone.
“When the sun rises, I will lead the Imperial Army and face the Demon King. Of course, I can’t even use my solar mana… and the Imperial Army is wounded and tired… But I’m still trying to evacuate the citizens from the port to the western continent. I can buy enough time for the people and for Aria to escape.”
Clana continued to speak, with tears running down her face.
“So, today will be the last time I’ll be visiting you… Tomorrow I…”
As if in response to those words, the icy winter wind blew onto Clana.
Clana, who felt the pain as if she had been stabbed by a needle in every corner of her body, spoke with her eyes tied shut.
“…I’m sorry, I felt pain in front of you with only this much. The pain you felt… must have been a hundred times greater than this…”
While speaking, Clana, who was holding back the pain she felt in every corner of her body, clenched her teeth, and pulled something out.
“…It’s the stellar primrose. The one you gave me a long time ago.”
Clana, who struggled to move her frozen hand, placed the stellar primrose in front of Frey’s tombstone. She then wiped the tears from her eyes and pulled something else out.
“Serena. This is a lunar primrose. I just… I thought I should leave something behind for you as well.”
Eventually Clana got up, after putting the lunar primrose in front of Serena’s tombstone, and spoke with a bitter expression.
“Then, this is farewell, guys.”
But just then, an unusually bitter wind assaulted her body.
Clana, who crouched down, groaned at the freezing pain from the wind. However, soon she clenched her teeth and quickly rose.
She couldn’t show that disgusting sight to those who had died because of her.
Clana, who was trembling horribly while bowing to say goodbye, noticed something shining in front of Frey’s tombstone.
It was a ring that was exceptionally shiny.
“I don’t know who left this… but it must have been left behind by someone who Frey had once saved, right?”
Clana glanced at the shiny ring’s surface but after seeing the wear on the inside of the ring, she muttered with a guilty look.
Since Frey died, all the good deeds he had secretly done had come to light.
What broke Clana’s heart the most was that Frey was the founder of the once largest orphanage in the Empire.
How tragic it was.
When she visited the orphanage, she even became nauseous upon seeing the children greet her brightly.
“Ah… I’m acting like this again.”
Clana, while thinking for a moment, soon realized that her hands were trembling.
When she grabbed her right hand with her left, she felt a tingling pain. It seemed she was suffering the effects of frostbite.
– Scrunch, scrunch.
But soon, Clana walked out of the graveyard, ignoring the pain. In the Empire where eternal winter has come, frostbite is not a big deal.
A cold is no big deal. It is highly contagious, but the fatality rate is not that high.
The only thing that really scared her was the Demon King’s Army, which had a fatality rate of 100%.
– Spud Spud
Clana, who had covered her mouth with a trembling hand, coughed while walking. She then muttered bitterly as she left Frey’s mansion, which had now become a graveyard.
“I feel the same way as I did back then.”
The day Frey and Serena died, the moment she left the courtyard after receiving an important mission to deal with the Demon King, and ascending to the throne.
Clana still couldn’t forget her emotions at the time.
“…Before regrouping with the army, I need to warm myself up a bit.”
Clana, who had been standing there for a long time, began to mutter and move only when all her bodily sense had numbed from the wintry wind slicing through her.
“What, are you here again?”
“…I need a place to warm myself up.”
Of course, the only place to warm up was the bar she had been to earlier. The bartender was staring at Clana upon seeing her enter.
“Pff… you’re a weird kid.”
Then the bartender, who stared at her for a moment, immediately smiled and asked her a question.
“You… Do you have any money?”
“Then why are you in a bar?”
“I have enough money for a drink.”
Hearing this, he laughed and took out a bottle of wine behind him and handed it to Clana.
“…Are you allowed to give a kid a drink?”
“Seeing that a kid is still in a place like this, it looks like she’s going to die… What difference would it make if I give her some booze?”
The bartender, who answered Clana’s question with a grin, quickly gulped down the drink and said.
“…Then off to bed, whether you stay here or not, it’s up to you.”
“What if I steal money?”
“You think there’s money left? Well, there’s a lot of booze.”
Having said that, the bartender immediately went upstairs while humming.
But at that moment, a man in black robe opened the door of the bar.
“Hey…? There’s a guest…”
The shocked Clana yelled upstairs, but there was no response
Clana frowned for a moment, then quietly began to observe the person who walked in.
“…Are you, by any chance, a subordinate of the Demon King?”
“No, I’m just a passing traveler.”
Clana, who had asked a question in a tired voice, nodded soullessly when the man in front of her answered in a low voice.
As such, silence lingered for a while.
– Gulp gulp.
Clana stared blankly at the bottle in front of her, then suddenly picked it up and began chugging down her throat.
Clana usually didn’t enjoy drinking much. However, she made that choice in order to forget her fear of the final battle tomorrow, her guilt towards Frey and Serena, and her many other regrets…
“It’s all… It’s all my fault…”
However, that was another one of her many poor judgments.
The strong, bitter wine only helped to bring more of her emotions that she had been internally struggling with.
“If it wasn’t for me… everything would have worked out if it wasn’t for me…”
Having said that, Clana slammed her fist down the table.
“No, no… I don’t want to remember… I don’t want to…!”
It’s been quite some time since she had been unable to use the solar mana, but the feeling of tearing up Frey’s body that day was still vivid in her hands.
The moment the solar beam from her own fingers pierced Frey’s head, the moment the dagger she had summoned pierced his heart, the vibrations that she could feel even now.
Clana, who had been screaming incoherently and slamming her hand down onto the table, came to her senses and looked at her own hand only when the man sitting at the table next to her muttered softly to her.
Her hand was completely mangled.
“Frey… I’m sorry… I was wrong…”
However, when she couldn’t get rid of the feelings in her hand, the terrible touch that had tormented her for years, Clana fell on the table and wept.
“If I… hadn’t done that back then…”
While speaking, she took out a letter with its edges worn out because she had opened it so many times.
He never forgot the promise he made when he was young. Even though he was going through so much pain and suffering.
The tea party held at her debut still remained as an unforgettable memory for Clana. Of course, the meaning of that memory has changed since then.
The tea party was a trap the Empress had set up for.
She didn’t allow any Dukes or Duchesses to participate in the tea party of the Third Imperial Princess. Thus, effectively ruining Clana’s debut, and at the same time, announcing her political positions to the surrounding audience.
I did. I had been tired of seeing hypocritical people with friendly faces on the outside and disgusting thoughts on the inside throughout my Imperial life.
I assumed that Frey, who attended and introduced himself with a smile in the tea party back then, which no one could attend because of the Empress, was doing so after calculating the risk.
Clana, who had read the letter up to that point, began to vaguely recall the conversation between herself and Frey at that time.
“Would you like to be my friend?”
“If you’re going to act sympathetic, then piss off.”
“I hate fake people like you… so piss off.”
“Bu-But… I want to be friends with you…”
“If you want to be friends with me, bring me some stellar primroses.”
“…A stellar primrose?”
“Yes, it is a precious flower that grows on the mountain over there. If you give it to me…”
“I will be back!!”
Then Clana used a cruel trick to get rid of Frey.
She requested a stellar primrose, something that the First and Second Imperial Princesses had received as a gift from the Empress and had boasted to her about.
Of course, Clana assumed that Frey, who had approached her with an agenda, wouldn’t be able to find it.
Perhaps he would rummage through the woods for a while and give up, she thought so.
It was natural for the unfortunate Princess. who had always been used only by others except her mother since she was born, had the doors to her heart closed shut tight after losing the only person that cared for her.
But because of Frey, her debut ball was turned upside down to a different meaning from what the Empress wanted.
“Hey, I can’t bear to look at this anymore.”
Each time she remembered more of her trauma, she continued reading Frey’s letter, but the person next to her shook his head and spoke.
“Could you please stop slamming that hand down?”
It was then that Clana realized that while reading the letter she kept slamming her fist down onto the table.
“I’m sorry. I haven’t…”
Clana looked down at her own hand, which had become more wounded than before, and she immediately bowed her head and began to apologize to the man sitting next to her.
“If you act like this, there was no point in me writing a will.”
However, the man sitting next to her started saying bizarre things.
“Damn, I didn’t know it was going to be this serious… Was this the reason the system made it so I would see her last?”
Clana, who momentarily stared at him in a daze, got up with her eyes wide open upon hearing the man speak in his natural voice once he stopped altering it.
“Hello there, Princess.”
Then, as the man took off his black robe, revealing his silver hair and eyes, Clana exclaimed with a look of astonishment.
“…The same reaction again.”
“Frey! You were alive? You were alive!! Right?”
Then Clana quickly became elated and rushed to Frey..
“You!! This is not the time to be acting like this! The Demon King is near the Imperial Capital!! Hurry up and get out of this place with me….”
However, as she rushed to Frey with tears of joy, she smashed her face against the wall in front of her. A wall that surrounded Frey, who had a grim expression on his face.
“H-Huh? How did this happen? Surely Frey is here… Why…”
Clana, who was bewildered for a moment, began to shake while her hands trembled.
Clana, who had been unable to touch Frey’s bod, began to inquire with a desperate look on her face.
“So, what’s this? A mere fantasy? Or a ghost that came for revenge? Personally, I would prefer the latter. That way I can at least pay for my sins…”
“At first I wondered why this was an ordeal…”
And Frey, who looked bitterly at Clana, muttered in a low voice.
“…I don’t think there’s anything more suitable than this that could be labeled as a world ordeal.”
And as such, a system window with only the number 1 written on it was floating in front of him.
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