༺ Crossroads (4) ༻
Once Vera realized his mishap, the first thing he did was look for a ‘solution’.
He was trying to figure out how to get out of this situation and reverse the oath that had been twisted without his knowledge.
It was an idea that only Vera, who had been born as a worthless beggar of the slums and risen to the position of a ruler solely through malice, could make.
Vera continued to think while looking at Renee with sunken eyes.
He did not sense any other presence with a divinity that could pose a threat to him.
In other words, the situation was not that dangerous.
‘…I can run away.’
After discarding his identity, he needed to devise a plan.
With that thought in mind, Vera plotted an escape in his head.
“Ah, don’t even think about running away.”
Renee said with a smile.
“In order to live for me, you have to stay by my side.”
“…What are you talking about?”
“You can’t run away. Also, you can’t cause trouble, move or even open your mouth without my permission. It would make me really sad if you did.”
Vera’s expression contorted.
He felt that she wasn’t that just for the sake of it.
He didn’t know what kind of magic it was, but he could feel the oath respond as the Saint talked.
‘…What an insolent bitch.’
It was impossible to run away immediately.
Vera composed himself. He tried calming the churning feeling inside and convinced himself that it was only ‘for now’.
Of course, he continued thinking of ways to break the oath.
With a weird unspeakable tension, the two made their way to an outdoor classroom where the ‘Relaxation Through Meditation’ class was held.
Renee suddenly felt a sigh threatening to escape as she sat in a sunny spot and listened to the class.
She already knew that Vera would not give up that easily.
Why was that? Did she not hear him tell her over and over again?
– He’s a lowly bastard. If the Saint shows even the slightest weakness, he will take advantage of that, so you must be careful.
– That much?
– He’s a human who has no qualms about playing with people’s hearts.
– You’re talking about yourself now, right?
– …Not anymore.
Exactly as Vera said, the past Vera was racking his brain like he was still thinking of running away at this moment.
‘Just because I’m blind doesn’t mean I can’t sense it.’
If he’s going to do it, he should at least do it stealthily.
It seemed elaborate, but somewhat sloppy, and came across as rather naive.
It could be deemed as adorable, but… at the very least, Renee wasn’t having those sentiments right now.
‘I hope he doesn’t cause any trouble.’
The past Vera was a bundle of unpredictability that could cause trouble at any moment.
Like a child playing at the edge of the sea.
Renee, who normally would not feel any sense of crisis, was at that level of worry.
[Okay, everyone breathe in deep~ then breathe out.]
The professor’s voice that was spread by voice amplification magic tickled Renee’s ears.
Renee followed the instructions, murmuring in a small voice to Vera.
“Follow along. I will cry if you don’t.”
It was a childish grumble. However, it was very effective.
Vera’s expression crumpled, and he started to take a deep breath.
‘What in the world…’
Is she doing?
Questions about Renee’s intentions were rising within him.
If she came here to capture me, then she has already achieved her purpose. But this woman is imitating a boring student and just dragging me along, so just what is her objective?
He could not figure her out.
Moreover, her words were meant to comfort a stubborn child, which only made the prideful Vera dislike it even more.
The professor’s voice that was resonating calmly sounded like it was taunting him, or maybe he was just imagining it.
Vera gritted his teeth and glared at the innocent professor.
After that, the rest of the day went pretty uneventfully.
They went to class, ate, then just sat idly and passed the time.
As Vera watched Renee go about her day, he unconsciously thought.
‘Is she an idiot?’
It was a credible assumption.
Honestly, there was nothing difficult about the class, and unless she was eating or moving around, she was just sitting under the sun with her eyes closed, so he could not help but think like that.
It was a situation where he couldn’t help but sigh.
Also, it was a situation that hurt his pride a lot.
He felt like a fool being caught by a woman like this and unable to do anything about it.
“What do you want to do?”
So, Vera asked.
Renee’s eyes lifted slightly at his words, and then she tilted her head.
“I’m basking under the sun. Can’t you see?”
“Are you a plant or something? Don’t be ridiculous…”
“Getting sunlight is important for your health.”
She answered with a smile.
As expected, her answer made Vera make a face.
Meanwhile, Renee giggled as Vera did not answer and closed his mouth shut, realizing that he tended to ‘shut up when he’s at a disadvantage’.
“You should close your eyes too and stay still.”
“Do I have to?”
“Don’t you think your personality’s so terrible because you hate the sunlight?”
‘Is she trying to start an argument?’
The thought came to his mind.
Renee added with a deeper smile on her face as she felt him flinch right next to her.
“You should learn how to relax.”
She wanted to share with him what she usually enjoyed the most. She said those words with that thought in mind.
However, Vera snorted and answered with a refusal.
“That’s simply an illusion of the privileged.”
“It’s only those living a life full of riches that can even afford to think about leisure. That’s why your mouth can spout such nonsense.”
Her attitude revolted him. Her smiling face annoyed him.
So, Vera continued to speak in a sarcastic tone.
“Don’t you know that there are people who starve to death if they aren’t constantly working? The Saint is quite naive and short-sighted, I see.”
There was a hint of anger.
Renee was silent for a moment, then immediately followed up with a response.
“So, are you going to starve to death if you don’t do anything right now? We just ate a while ago.”
She spoke like it was no big deal.
Vera flinched, and the smile on Renee’s face got bigger.
“If that is so, then you must be some kind of a glutton.”
“That’s dangerous thinking.”
Renee interrupted Vera’s attempt to refute her argument and added.
“Someone somewhere is on the verge of dying right now, so am I allowed to be in a place like this? Shouldn’t I have a guilty conscience? What difference does it make if I think like that? It’ll only make me feel even more depressed.”
Vera found himself speechless.
Is it okay for the Saint to speak like that?
That thought unconsciously occurred to him.
His following words were aggressive, driven by his desire to deny her and his owned twisted desire to see her face contort.
“…You’re more suited to being a prostitute than the Saint. You…”
“I’m not the Saint or a prostitute. I’m Renee.”
Renee said, then added in a playful tone.
“Ah, but you should still call me the Saint.”
As she spoke, Renee ruminated once again on what it meant to face the Vera from the past.
This was the past of someone she loves.
It was the act of facing the path he had once walked.
So Renee told Vera what she was thinking. Even though those words would be forgotten after today, it did not matter to Renee.
She just wanted her loved one’s past not to be filled with so much anger and resentment.
“I’m not someone who can create a paradise where everyone is happy.”
“But you are someone who is capable of fulfilling everyone’s ideals.”
“Even that ability has its limits.”
“So you’re just going to ignore it?”
Renee spoke and took a moment to catch her breath. Then, she added.
“I’m just doing what I can within my means to help others.”
“You seem to believe that involves sacrificing your life to making the world a better place.”
“Well, if that eliminates all conflict, then so be it, right?”
“I’m certain it won’t.”
“How can everyone be happy? One person’s happiness could be a misfortune for another. If we’re in a society where everyone gets a piece of bread, you would be complaining right now, right? Because you’re a person who could only be satisfied with ten pieces of bread.”
“You have to be flexible. I think it’s fine to relax and divide your time appropriately depending on the situation.”
Renee knew herself.
Just as Vera said, she was short-minded and naive. She didn’t know how to save everyone.
“That is why people need others. We need to help each other by filling each other’s gaps.”
That was why she needed Vera.
She needed someone who could do the things she couldn’t do and someone who could keep her from falling apart.
“Isn’t it the same for you? The only reason you came to the Academy is to find someone who would help you.”
“…That’s just empty words.”
“Well, those ‘empty words’ are what makes a society.”
“You avoided the first question I asked. You, who call yourself the Saint, are turning a blind eye to those who are suffering even at this moment.”
“I’m not ignoring them. I’m just telling you that it’s not my job to be sad all day about their circumstances.”
How can someone be so resentful?
Renee felt herself giggling uncontrollably at Vera’s constant retorts and replied.
“I’m someone who safeguards those that lack the strength to protect themselves, so shouldn’t I fend off the threats that could prevent me from doing so?”
“You sure are good at running your mouth.”
“Of course. Shouldn’t those serving the Gods have such eloquence?”
As she spoke, Renee suddenly thought of the twins who were guarding the castle gate in the Holy Kingdom and shuddered.
‘…No, those two are knights, so it’s fine.’
She stopped talking because she somehow felt guilty.
Renee quickly calmed her mind by erasing those thoughts.
“Ah—ahem! Anyway, stop talking back.”
“Huh, so you’re ending it just like that?”
“You’re the one who kept being ridiculous and nitpicking at every little thing.”
“Oh, so your inner tyrant came out.”
“Should we talk about you then? None of the stories I’ve heard about you were good either.”
“Well, if you’re displeased, then hit me.”
She answered provokingly, with only one corner of her mouth lifted up.
A tendon on Vera’s fist bulged.
‘Should I really hit her?’
The idea occurred to him.
However, Vera wanted to avoid the pain of his soul being torn apart, so he could not help but tremble at the feeling of being weak, which he had not felt for a long time.
The sun was setting, dying the world red.
Following Renee toward the dormitory, Vera narrowed his eyes at the small figure in front of him.
The beastkin was a yellow-haired cat dressed in a tattered and baggy priestly robe. The figure looked to be around 12 or 13 years old.
Vera spoke with a frown to the little beastkin who was looking at him with sparkling blue eyes.
“What do you want, little brat?”
Aisha, the yellow-haired beastkin, gasped when she realized that the words she had overheard from the apprentice priests this morning were true.
It was a remark she made with great excitement at the thought of teasing Vera afterwards.