༺ Week of the Midnight Sun (2) ༻
『The week of the midnight sun appeared without warning.』
『There wasn’t even a flash of radiance or any of the Gods’ voices resonating in the air.』
『But the anticipated dusk never arrived.』
『And In the aftermath, the entire continent quaked.』
At the center of the Great Hall, Vera bowed to Vargo. All the apostles gathered there except for the apostles of Abundance and Love, who had been dispatched outside for several years.
“Have you finally arrived?”
The deep gaze of Vargo penetrated in a subdued and subtle way as if trying to read something from Vera.
Vera did not avoid his gaze, but instead decided to look straight at him and said.
“…Will you be able to do it?”
“I know it’s unexpected…”
Their eyes met. The ambience grew sharper than ever.
The reason why their conversation was brief was because Vera had previously spoken to Vargo three days ago about this matter.
A request for someone to be accompanied by a paladin. Someone who that paladin must protect. A woman.
As the week of the midnight sun approached, it was easier to know the identity of the woman Vera said he wished to protect.
There wasn’t any question such as, ‘How did you know?’ that was handed to Vera out of curiosity.
As Vera thought, Vargo kept silent about this situation and gazed at him.
In the corner, Rohan, aware of the strange atmosphere, asked the twins a question.
“Twins, why are they like that? Have you heard anything?”
“I’m sleepy. But the sun doesn’t set. So I can’t sleep.”
“I’m a good sleeper.”
“…Yes, that’s great.”
Rohan heaved a deep sigh in response to the twins’ reply. Trevor, who watched the situation unfold from a distance, opened his mouth.
“Sir Vera, will you be fine all alone?”
“It’s not like I’m going out all alone. I’m taking Sir Norn with me.”
“Look after the cottage while I’m away.”
Vera dismissed Trevor’s words and looked at Vargo once again.
“I’ll be heading off to the east then.”
“… All right.”
“Please arrange the paladins in advance towards the border of Horden. We are likely to be pursued when crossing the border.”
“… I’ll hold my slumber back until then.”
“Then I’ll be right back.”
Vera said so, and after a short nod, he turned and walked out of the Great Hall.
Vera headed straight to the temple’s northern exit, arrived at the cottage where he lived, and began preparing for the journey ahead.
His armor was incredibly conspicuous, so he took it off. His blade of choice was plain, being as modest as possible, and he hid the Rosario under his clothes.
After completing a brief armament check, Vera let out a sigh and calmed his thumping heart.
Shortly after that, he recalled the route in his head again in case of a mishap.
‘About four days.’
In that amount of time, he was able to reach his destination.
There were no issues about whether anyone else would find the saint first.
No group can find her faster than the Holy Kingdom.
Rohan’s power of guidance.
This is why the Holy Kingdom can know the Saint’s location directly from the Gods through him.
This was why the Holy Emperor was the first to find the Saint in his previous life, and also why Vera patiently waited for this day.
“The Remeo Province.”
A small county located southeast of Horden.
Saint Renee was there.
He strengthened his grip around the hilt of the sword. His eyes were laid down, and he heaved a deep sigh.
I’m coming to see you.
After one life and spending another four years, I will finally meet you.
Vera’s heart brimmed with emotions, but he soon opened his eyes and brushed those feelings off.
‘There will be enough time to wallow in sentimentality later.’
I’ll do it after I meet her in person.
After calming his thumping heart, Vera did not delay any longer and immediately opened the cottage door to leave.
Waiting for Vera through the opened door was Norn, who had already returned after he was done with his preparations.
Vera sneaked a quick glance at Norn, who answered briefly and then marched on. Once more, his gaze was darting forward.
Strangely, his steps were light.
Four days to travel to the Remeo Province.
Vera moved with a restless mind.
His head was only filled with thoughts about Renee from that moment on. He couldn’t think of anything else.
It was right to say that his emotions, that had been repressed for a long time, burst out all at once.
It was too early to be sentimental; it was time to get ready to meet her, but when the moment approached closer, even that became impossible.
No matter how hard he tried to calm down, the wild thought continued to excite him alone.
What kind of person would you be at the age of 14?
Are you resenting the Gods now for taking away your light, just like you said? Are you living in despair?
Will you be a beauty whom people fall in love with after a single glance, just as you claimed? Or will you be an ordinary country girl?
I’m sure you’ll be an indescribably beautiful person on the inside even now, but do you still have that annoying personality of yours? If not, will you seem a bit more cheerful?
You, who walked bravely all alone even in the slums… Can you still tread resolutely by yourself, just like before?
As the numerous thoughts flashed through Vera’s mind, his gaze became vacant.
This happened countless times over the course of the four days.
His expression, which seemed foolish at first glance, was never seen at all in the four years in the Holy Kingdom, to the extent that Norn, who glanced at him, was startled. In addition, Vera looked as if he had only kept thinking about Renee.
No matter how strong his mind is, no matter how hard he tries to bury his excitement deep down. Whenever he remembered Renee’s radiant light halo, he would feel infinitely weak.
Norn called out to him as the destination gradually appeared in their field of vision.
However, Vera did not hear him as he walked absent-mindedly.
Norn called out his name again. Still, Vera did not hear him.
Another foreboding thought dwelled in his head.
It was about himself.
I’ve worked hard for so long, but it’s still not enough.
He acknowledged his inadequacy and will linger on while carrying that burden. Although he had made such a promise, he was worried that Renee might feel uncomfortable by his demeanor. Those thoughts continued tormenting his mind further.
Perhaps this shortcoming may come off as unattractive. Perhaps it’s because she’s still young and can’t accept him, who is still a villain.
While Vera’s body trembled at the thought that occurred to him, Norn, who was observing him noticed that his expression became even more strange.
“Who are you?”
A middle-aged man herding cows at the village entrance asked at the sight of the travelers.
Only then after hearing his voice, did Vera return to his senses. He raised his head and inspected the man who asked the question.
Grayish-white hair. He had a face with a prominently good impression, and robust forearms under his rolled up sleeves as the weather was getting hotter.
At first glance, Vera looked at the figure of the middle-aged man who could be said to be a resident of this rural village. He straightened his expression and posed a question.
“Is there a girl named Renee living in this village?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. Cobb’s daughter. She lives in that house with a red roof.”
Vera’s gaze followed the middle-aged man’s fingertips.
Just as he said, a house with a red roof stood out in the distance.
When Vera saw the house, he felt his emotions overflowing, but he clenched his fists and shook them off, then uttered a reply.
“…Thank you for letting us know.”
“Take care of yourself.”
The middle-aged man, who replied as such, then went off again.
Vera took his eyes off the fading back of the middle-aged man then pursed his lips as his gaze settled on the red-roofed house in the distance.
“May I go alone?”
“Yes, I’ll wait here.”
Vera bowed his head lightly to express his gratitude for Norn’s consideration and then took a step.
Vera’s pace, which had been light throughout his departure, suddenly became heavier the moment he began walking.
In front of the red-roofed house that Vera had arrived at, he felt frozen to the spot as if could not take a step more.
This is because he remembered the realization that had dawned upon him just before he arrived here. The realization that he might be denied by Renee, that the light that had shone brightly, may no longer illuminate him.
I have to knock on this door. I have to go greet her now.
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t move his feet, so he stood still for a long time.
A sound interrupted his flow of thoughts. It was a dull sound, as if something was hitting the ground.
Vera raised his head towards the source of the sound.
…And the next moment, he felt his entire world freeze.
A girl was walking while tapping the ground with a cane. A young girl who had not lost her innocent childish appearance yet was just beginning to look a bit more feminine amidst puberty.
Her steps were sloppy as if she would collapse at any moment, Vera flinched at each step she took.
Nevertheless, the outward appearance of the girl shoved a certain notion into his head.
What if we slap that word into the manifestation of a human being?
He wasn’t thinking about the beauty of looking at the opposite gender. More essential than that is the notion of perfection in the beauty that constitutes her being alone.
White hair waved like the first snow of the day in winter. The blue pupils revealed under the eyelids staring into the air were still. That stillness reminded him that this moment was paradoxically suffocating, yet dazzling.
Yes, that’s the way it should be. Her eyes, exposed under the bright sun, were absolutely enchanting.
It was Renee. He knew the moment he saw her. He couldn’t help it. The feeling is beyond indescribable.
Although they looked slightly different, their height differed, and the fact that he had not even heard her voice yet.
Isn’t the oath he engraved in his soul that is burning stronger than ever, urging him even more?
As Renee drew closer, Vera took a step backwards without realizing it. As a result, there was a ‘rustling’ sound which resounded when trampled on a patch of grass.
“Who are you?”
It was followed by the coherent sound of words articulated clearly.
Vera’s body stiffened at the sound of that voice.
“… Anyone there?”
His mouth was tightly sealed.
His gaze endlessly scanned Renee’s figure.
Her words proved to be the truth. The beauty she boasted about herself was truly admirable.
However, as he continued his chain of thought, he remembered that Renee must have been wrong about one of the things she had said.
Perhaps what the people who saw her felt was not love rather, it seemed to be awe.
Renee’s beauty was such a sight that he had never seen before, even for Vera, who had traveled across the continent countless times and met all kinds of races.
So, while his thoughts persisted with a stupored look.
Renee’s brows furrowed slightly.
She tilts her head to her side with a confused gesture. At that moment, Vera uttered his words in a tone that was calm, yet had a tinge of daze blended in it.
“… There is.”
Renee’s body shook at the reply. A sound resembling a scream escaped her mouth.
A face filled with bewilderment.
Then, Renee, who turned her head toward the direction slightly off from Vera, asked a question.
“Who are you?”
A question about his identity.
Vera then opened his mouth to answer her, but suddenly realized something and stopped.
Looking back at it, his former self had never told her his identity.
Now was the moment he would first reveal his name to her.
It was only after her one life and four years that he was finally able to tell her his own name.
Vera, thinking about it, suddenly felt his insides tighten harder than ever before.
He wasn’t in a bad mood. Of course, he wouldn’t know whether this expression was correct, but even while his throat was clogged, it wasn’t unpleasant at all, and it was a feeling that came to mind naturally.
He cleared his throat as if preparing to speak.
There were words that he barely spat out as he felt his breath choke on uncontrollable emotions.
However, he did not continue to the end, and his words were cut off as he could only utter a mumble.
He had to talk, but was so overwhelmed that it wasn’t easy.
After taking a deep breath, Vera pursed his lips and tried again.
It was a brief introduction, but it wasn’t enough.
With that simple greeting, his frustration continued to torment him.
Numerous sentences began to swirl in his mind.
These were words that he had accumulated over the past four years.
There was something he really wanted to say when he met her again.
I came back after a long time to see you.
I’m here to fulfill my lifelong oath.
So now you don’t have to fear anything.
…These were a few words he prepared and there were plenty more where that came from, but they all felt strange.
Vera, who pursed his lips for a long time, felt flustered. He did not know what to say or how to say it.
He formulated a sentence he had never even thought of before and barely spoke.
“… I have come to take you away.”
Instead, he spat out a menacing remark.
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