༺ Nightmare (4) ༻
The boundary between objects blurred together as colors intertwined.
As Renee was walking out of the dark hole, her vision gradually blurred, filling her with a sense of regret.
It was inevitable following the end of the dream, but she still felt that it was such a pity.
Renee pressed her lips together to calm her raging emotions and continued to walk to the end of the dark hole.
It will be alright as long as Vera is there.
If she met Vera, all these trivial matters would become insignificant, and she would be fine.
A faint glimmer of light flooded her vision as she exited the hole with such feelings. The glimmer of light was a result of blurred lines between objects.
Renee came to a halt.
She couldn’t see it, but she knew. She could discern that this place was the Empire’s slums she had visited before by relying on her senses.
Together with that realization, one more thing became clear.
‘It’s a trauma.’
This dream was Vera’s trauma.
He was shown scenes of the most regrettable moment in his life, unlike her, who saw scenes from the future she envisioned.
Maybe Vera’s regret is…
The moment that Orgus showed her. That undefined moment when Vera shed tears.
Renee’s hand clenched tightly.
‘You’re playing with another woman, huh.’
A furious smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.
‘He’s dead. Really.’
You and I are both going to die today.
With that in mind, Renee imbued her cane with divinity before tapping it against the ground.
The waves dispersed. Her brain was able to perceive everything. And that was how Renee found Vera.
He was in the building located three steps to the right.
Renee opened the door. The moldy door gave off a damp and slippery feeling.
Renee, who creased her forehead briefly, looked ahead and found a human silhouette among the blurry glimmer of light.
She called out.
The shadow squirmed.
The lights that outlined Vera’s shadow flickered.
“…You’re doing all sorts of useless things.”
A cry that sounded like a beast’s howl could be heard.
Renee’s body trembled in alarm. Something was off. Vera’s voice oozed with extreme instability.
It was such a vile sound that it seemed to swallow everything in front of him.
“Haven’t you had enough? You’re crossing the line, bitch.”
The glimmer of light that seemed to belong to Vera had grown in size. Perhaps he was getting up.
That moment when Renee attempted to act amid her growing anxiety.
Vera approached and grabbed her neck before she knew it.
“Did I not tell you? Distinguish between what you can imitate and what you cannot.”
“This is great. Yeah, now that there are two of you, there’ll be only one left after I kill you. It will set a good example. I will throw your dead body in front of her when she returns to find out about the next phase.”
Renee had never seen Vera speak or laugh in that manner before.
Renee was suddenly overwhelmed by fear.
She realized at that moment.
Maybe it was part of Vera’s ‘innate evil thoughts’ that he kept mentioning before. Maybe this was the reason he had to restrain himself.
It was something that she could sympathize with, and yet…
Renee wasn’t soft-hearted enough to give in to something like this.
Renee swung her right foot upward. Her target was Vera’s crotch.
‘This is just a dream!’
If it breaks here, it’ll be fine outside!
With that in mind, Renee kicked him hard, while Vera let her go out of shock and staggered backward.
A stream of curses flowed out.
But Renee brushed past it, took a deep breath, and then yelled at Vera, who was struggling to get his act together.
“It’s me! Renee! I’m not a hallucination, I’m real…”
“Quit your bullshit! The Saint won’t use such a dirty trick like you did, bitch!”
He started spewing insults the moment Renee tried to protest.
Renee was at a loss of words.
She averted her gaze nervously.
“N-No, because…it’s a dream…”
Her head dropped a little.
“I-It’s because Vera attacked first… so in self-defense…”
She broke out in a cold sweat.
Upon reflection, he was right.
‘Did I go too far?’
I did seem to go too far.
That’s what she thought.
Yeah, anyone can tell you’re not sane, but how would I know?
Renee, who had been mulling over it and came to her own conclusion, pursed her lips before uttering an apology.
She dropped her shoulders sulkily.
I apologized, but!
Renee, who felt the need to defend herself, exclaimed with her chest puffed out.
“A-Accusing me of using dirty tricks is going too far!”
‘He’s going too far, right?’ she thought as she spoke with a slight tremor in her voice.
Vera watched the whole thing unfold in front of him and was stunned as he observed Renee’s response absentmindedly.
The long silence was broken by this word.
He said that to confirm it since she was the only person he knew with such a bright attitude, and she felt too real to be a hallucination.
Renee coughed, moving her head sideways as her cheeks turned red.
After completing the confirmation process through several questions, Vera, who heard about everything Renee had gone through, dropped his head with a horrible expression.
“…I’m deeply ashamed. I should have been the one to go to the Saint first.”
“N-No! Uhm, that’s understandable! I was able to wake up right away because a faceless Vera showed up…”
Of course, Renee’s face turned red in embarrassment.
She was so embarrassed to talk about her dream and the future that she envisioned.
As a result, she merely gave the brief explanation that ‘I was spending time alone with Vera’, but her face was already flushed red.
Renee squeezed her eyes shut, hoping that this conversation would be over soon, and blurted out in a voice sounded almost like a scream.
It was a scream that was close to a tantrum.
“Can I hear an explanation of this dream?”
Let’s just cut to the chase.
Vera looked troubled when he realized the meaning of her words.
Everything had been so hectic that he forgot about the truth; in order to get out of here, he had to talk about his dream, about her in his first life, and about his regression.
He was hesitant. He struggled to come up with an explanation that she would understand.
While Vera was struggling with these thoughts for a long time…
The shack door opened.
Vera and Renee both looked toward the entrance.
The first life’s Renee returned carrying pig porridge.
“Oh my, we have a visitor?”
She spoke in a resonant voice.
A grim look crossed Renee’s face. It didn’t even cross her mind that she was hearing her own voice. It was only natural because people heard their own voice differently from others.
Renee murmured in a low voice.
Vera’s body flinched and trembled.
“You’re flirting with a woman? Leaving me alone?”
Vera’s eyes trembled wildly. His heart was pounding rapidly.
I have to tell her now.
If he didn’t say it now, something unimaginable would happen. That animalistic instinct told him that.
Just as Vera was about to quickly speak up, the first life’s Renee continued speaking.
“A cute lady has arrived?”
A vein popped out on Renee’s forehead.
“Who are you to call me cute?”
The answer returned in an utterly hostile manner.
Renee narrowed her eyes. She was trying to picture the shape of the woman who appeared in Vera’s dream, but she couldn’t capture her appearance properly due to her worsening eyesight after escaping her dream.
When Renee clicked her tongue in irritation, the first life’s Renee covered her mouth and laughed before speaking.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I must have been impolite because I can’t see in front of me.”
A soft voice in a hostile atmosphere.
Because of that…
Renee’s body trembled.
The moment the woman said that she couldn’t see, Renee was struck by a thought. The thought that Vera might be seeing someone else through her. It began to engulf her.
Renee’s expression became even more grim.
It was anger.
Since experiencing feelings such as sorrow and humiliation was no different from accepting defeat, Renee chose to vent her anger instead.
“If you can’t see, then you should think twice when it comes to what you can’t see. Does an apology make everything okay? Are you fishing for sympathy now?”
Even though that may have sounded inconsiderate, only Renee could get away with saying it.
‘Because I’m blind, too!’
I’m allowed to say that.
With that in thought, Renee snapped, to which the first phase Renee replied.
“You are correct. This is my mistake. Hm, I learned something new thanks to sister. Thank you…”
“I don’t have a sister like you, though?”
“Under the grace the Lord has bestowed upon us, we are all siblings walking on the same land. How can we be strangers?”
“Are you close to the Lord? You certainly talk about them a lot.”
“…I consider our relationship not too distant.”
“Neither close nor far apart from one another? That’s practically a stranger. This person is really funny, isn’t she?”
“We are all brothers and sisters under the grace of the Lord…”
“Ah, well, I’ve never had a sister like you, though? And you’re not supposed to talk to the Lord like that. I wasn’t going to say this, but I’m really close to the Lord, you know? I heard the Lord dislikes you.”
A heated argument began, creating an oppressive atmosphere.
With a snort, Renee turned to Vera and uttered loudly.
“Vera, look at her talk. Isn’t she a total fraud? She’s exactly that. A con artist who preys on people by saying things as ‘we are brothers and sisters’ or ‘we’re of the same mind’!”
Even if it was considered a baseless slander, Renee didn’t stop whining.
She whined due to her growing irritation ever since that woman entered the room.
She meant to say, ‘Look at me instead of that woman,’ or ‘I am a much better woman than her’.
…Of course, Vera, aware of the entire situation, found himself in a difficult situation.
‘Saint, it’s you…’
He wanted to talk, but he was at a loss for words on how to explain it.
The image of Renee from the first life, standing at the entrance with the pig porridge, and Renee, who was sitting next to him and fuming, were causing chaos in Vera’s mind.
“Say something, Vera.”
He might be mistaken, but it did sound like ‘Hurry up, take my side when I swear at people’.
Thus, while Vera was rendered speechless by the confusion, the first life’s Renee was the first to speak up.
“…Have I done anything that makes you feel uncomfortable?”
‘What’s going on? Why is it so realistic?’
This thought-form was way too realistic. The Dream Demon’s thought-form was supposed to imitate Vera’s inner consciousness, but for some reason it felt like she was facing a real person.
Isn’t it weird?
It was more realistic than her own dream.
Renee was suddenly taken aback, gritting her teeth to pull herself out of this predicament. That was when the first life’s Renee opened her mouth.
“I am truly sorry. If there is anything I have done to make you feel uneasy, could you please tell me? I will definitely try to fix it.”
Her tone was full of sadness.
It was a desperate cry that wrenched the listener’s heart.
Eeek! Renee yelled in a fit of rage.
Vera closed his eyes tightly and thought to himself.
Secret or not, I have to tell her right now.
He couldn’t tell what Renee might do later if he put it off any longer.
If he did, Renee might rebuke him angrily and ask, ‘Why didn’t you tell me beforehand?’