༺ End of the Dream (1) ༻
It wasn’t that far from the shack.
Technically speaking, they entered through two additional alleys before arriving at this one.
Vera, who hid behind the wall to watch the other Renee, had his eyes nearly pop out of his head when he spotted Miller in front of her.
When he saw Miller with pig porridge in his hands, what crossed his mind first was this.
‘Was everything staged?’
Was everything that happened to me up until the last moments of my past life merely a staged event?
Vera crossed out his assumption. His assumption instantly lost any credibility the more he thought about it.
‘If it’s indeed staged, there’s no way she would go through all this trouble to reveal this now.’
What he was seeing right now was the scene that Renee from the first round intended to ‘show’ him.
Unless she took him for an idiot and deliberately wanted to say, ‘I’m fooling you’, she wouldn’t go through all the trouble to reveal it now.
Vera rearranged his thoughts and observed the scene in silence.
‘This isn’t what she wants to convey.’
Vera’s eyes dimmed.
I have to draw a conclusion with a cool head.
As he had this thought, Miller continued to speak.
“…Saint, I’m not sure about this.”
“I can understand that.”
“Is this important?”
“Yes, I am sure of that.”
An incomprehensible conversation ensued. Between them, Miller had a troubled expression.
Vera took a closer look at Miller.
Wearing a ragged and dirt-covered robe, he looked so shabby that nobody would ever guess he was a senior professor at the Academy.
Why do you look like that?
It was a period in time when the Demon King had finally been subjugated.
When they had obtained the title of the continent’s heroes.
One suspicion came to mind.
When Vera narrowed his eyes, Miller began to talk.
“We believe in the Saint. Whether during the days we roamed the continent or the day of our final battle, we still believed in the Saint. You have always given us the answers and showed us the way.”
A smile tugged at Miller’s lips. It was a very faint smile that seemed to crumble at any moment.
“So I want to ask.”
Miller gave Renee from the first round a stinging gaze that was imbued with a bit of anxiety and sadness.
“…Why didn’t you tell us you were alive?”
“We… no, not just us, but the entire world thought that the Saint died in the battle that day. Given how much of an impact you brought that day, and how you disappeared without a trace, it would be natural to think that you died…”
Miller’s voice began to tremble.
The words that had been cut off by the uncontrollable tremor only continued a few moments later.
“…We all thought that the Saint died in the battle against the Demon King.”
Vera’s brows furrowed.
‘They also didn’t know?’
They didn’t know Renee was alive.
That was what he could infer from the conversation.
“…Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you only appear in front of me now?”
Additionally, he inferred that Miller was the only person who knew she was alive.
Vera racked his brain further.
‘I need more clues.’
He still didn’t have enough clues to figure out the exact reason.
Vera calmed down his breathing and palpitating heart before listening closely once again.
“…I can’t help it. I am sorry.”
“That isn’t what I am asking, is it? Can’t you just…tell me? We are in grave danger right now. Everyone is in shambles without the Saint as the leading figure.”
“…How is everyone doing?”
Miller scowled. He then sighed deeply and answered.
“…The Second Prince is stuck in the Empire. The clones are running rampant, so he can’t move anywhere.”
“…I see that there are still a few of them left.”
“It’s not that a few of them are left. Rather than that, their numbers are growing. That bitch has no intention of stopping.”
“How is Friede?”
“Friede is sealing Gorgan with Aedrin. The Great Woodlands is completely closed off.”
“How about the Archduke?”
“He’s evacuating the people to the Cradle. Nartania and Locrion will soon launch a full-scale war.”
“How is Aisha?”
“…That brat went on a rampage to find that bitch and shred her to pieces. Well, she might have already caught that bitch by now.”
The conversation went on.
As they were listening, Renee, who crouched next to Vera, whispered with a frown on her face.
This conversation revealed a glaring fact.
What she wanted to convey began to reveal its silhouette.
“…The Demon King wasn’t the issue here.”
The Demon King was clearly subjugated.
Nevertheless, the continent was still in turmoil.
‘Did the ancient species start to move?’
It turned out that she wanted to tell him about the real problem that happened in his past life.
There was no doubt that this short conversation was about the six ancient species.
Aedrin and Gorgan that she sealed. This allowed him to foresee what Gorgan, who was laying low in the present time, would do next.
Then the topic shifted to Nartania and Locrion, the two ancient species who were infamously at odds with each other, waging war.
The Cradle where the Archduke evacuated the northern people must be the ‘Cradle of the Dead’ at the eastern end, the place where the so-called ‘King of the Rotten Flesh Maleus’ resided.
And lastly, there was something that Vera and Renee could surmise about the clones.
‘…The corpses we saw in the Empire.’
They must be talking about the ancient specie that served as its origin.
Miller must have been referring to the ancient species that Aisha had been pursuing based on the way he called her ‘bitch.’
Vera quickly deduced the true identity of the Demon King and the clone’s origin.
First, the clone’s origin.
With the exception of the already mentioned ancient species, also removing Orgus, who took a different direction, and the Demon King, who was most likely to be an ancient species but extinct by this point, there was only one remaining.
The Smallest World, Alaysia.
And even after erasing the Demon King and Alaysia, only one ancient species remained.
The Eternal Sacrifice, Ardain.
The entity that he ‘thought’ didn’t appear in his past life was revealed in the scene the past Renee showed him.
Renee muttered in disbelief.
Vera remained silent.
However, there was something that he came to realize.
‘…She erased all this information from my memories.’
He wasn’t sure why, but she must have decided that he should be kept in the dark about this.
As the two automatically scrunched up their faces due to the mixed emotions, a topic that the two could never ignore began to come out.
“It’s really horrible.”
“…What will the Holy Kingdom do?”
Vera and Renee flinched upon listening to the story.
They had been questioning the Holy Kingdom’s role in this the whole time.
They were close to getting an answer for that.
“…I’m sure it will be fine.”
Renee from the first round cut him off.
“Everything will be fine. It’s not over yet…”
“…That bastard doesn’t know about this. Will you still do it?”
“Of course, he doesn’t know, right?”
She changed the subject with a voice full of mischief.
Vera contorted his face horribly. Renee, who squatted next to him, complained with a pout.
“Gosh, look at that sly fox.”
Vera flinched. He took a glance at Renee.
Her sullen expression and trembling body gave him the impression that she was about to jump out of her seat in frustration.
The tension that rose inside him gradually subsided.
He felt his overheated brain cool down as he saw Renee’s typical behavior and took a deep breath.
At that time.
“Saint, I won’t ask you anymore since you seem to have no intention of telling me…”
Vera poked his head out from behind the alley. Renee also craned her neck and pricked up her ears to listen to the conversation.
“…I hope you don’t forget what kind of item the ‘Crown’ is.”
A new keyword.
Their bodies started to tense up again.
However, the next words made them freeze in place like stone statues.
“What the hell are you going to do with that bastard?”
It was obvious that conversation would shift to what Renee from the first round was planning when he mentioned ‘that bastard.’
As he listened to their conversation, he realized that “that bastard” was referring to himself.
Now they were talking about him in the previous round.
His pulse and breathing stopped. He also ceased every movement.
“…But what will change even if you hold onto him with the ‘crown’? It’s merely an item that postpones, not something that can work miracles.”
It sent a chill down his spine.
“…You know that the ‘crown’ cannot bring the dead back to life, don’t you?”
It felt like the world had come to a halt.
Vera’s eyes grew bigger than ever. Renee clenched Vera’s collar even tighter.
His jaw began to tremble.
He let out a stream of ragged breaths.
His mind was disrupted by dizziness.
During that time, Vera ruminated on the meaning of that word.
He was already dead at that time.
He was briefly brought to life through the item called the ‘crown’.
Miller definitely implied that.
The fragmented clues started leading to answers.
The puzzle pieces fell into place and revealed a picture.
‘I was dead.’
And the crown brought me back to life.
‘The Saint from the previous round did that.’
Her motive was perhaps to prevent the clash between the ancient species that awakened in the previous round.
‘She distorted my memories for that reason.’
…No, I was already dead in the previous round, so I feel a sense of disparity because the things that happened after my death were imposed on me.
In other words, rather than distorting his memories, she simply filled the space that was blank in the first place.
He drew a bigger picture. He imagined the rest of the parts through the pieces he fit together.
But nothing was clear.
I don’t know.
‘How much does she know?’
Again, I don’t know.
‘How did she make me regress? Why does this round’s Orgus keep showing scenes from the past? Why did she hide her own existence following the confrontation with the Demon King?’
I don’t know, either.
‘What the hell…’
…are you planning?
Renee wrapped his hand shakily as he was deep in thought.
“…I-It’s alright,” she said.
Vera gazed at Renee.
Looking at her pale face, it was obvious that she was terrified.
There was one thing that prompted Renee’s fear.
The fact that the things that would happen in the future might harm Vera.
That was what made Renee tremble so badly.
Vera clenched his teeth and hands when he watched her like that.
“…Yes, I am fine.”
It was in the past.
I shouldn’t let myself be carried away by these emotions.
It’s only right to face what she showed me, the truth about my previous life properly.
When he struggled to stop his racing thoughts, the other Renee abruptly uttered this.
She said it loudly.
At that, Vera and Renee paused.
Miller tilted his head to the side.
“Do you know how to get out of a hallucination?”
It was a question that came out abruptly, spoken in a louder voice than before.
So, the two realized.
It was her message to them.
Miller responded to the query by first giving her a dubious look and then answering as if it were a trifling matter.
“Why are you suddenly asking something like that? Naturally, it would be to eliminate the subject of the hallucination.”
“Hm, that’s impressive.”
“What are you saying…?”
Miller let out a wry smile.
Vera, who was observing their interaction from behind the alley, shut his mouth hard and expressed confusion as he peered at the back of the head of the past Renee.
There was only one thing she intended to say from the conversation just now.
‘You’re telling me…’
To stab you to death.
That was her intention.
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