༺ Anomaly (2) ༻
He really hoped that it wasn’t the case, but the answer that came back was positive.
Maleus felt miserable and let out such words.
[Even so, are you still not satisfied…?]
How many more sins will she commit before she is satisfied, and when will she give up?
When will this pitiful and ugly phantom of the past try to face her sins?
While his thoughts continued, Alaysia opened her mouth again.
“Huh? Listen to me. This time, we can really go back like before. When Aru returns, we’ll all go back to the old days.”
The pure white hand covered her widely torn mouth. Because of that, what was visible was the beautiful woman she had been just moments ago.
Like a young girl dreaming, the woman continued her words.
“It will be so much fun to sit on Aeah’s roots and talk together. Gor won’t like it… But if Aru asks, he’ll begrudgingly listen, right? Nar and Locrion will argue about being the right one again. Hm, maybe Terdan will untangle Aeah’s tangled branches. Will Orgus still be alone then? I’m not sure about this either.”
She continued as if she could see the scene vividly before her eyes.
“I’m going to lie down on Aru’s lap and close my eyes. You know, Aru’s hands are so warm that I used to fall asleep so easily. Maleus will plant seeds, right? Ah, but don’t forget to ask Aeah’s permission, okay? Aeah hates it when someone plants seeds on her body without asking.”
Maleus couldn’t come up with any response to the rest of her story.
That would be the case, for the scene Alaysia described was a memory of a moment he knew all too well.
She was talking about memories of the time now called the Dawn of Creation, when the nine souls were all that existed in this land.
The ghostly light in Maleus’ eyes shook.
It was hesitation.
“Okay? All we need is Aru. We will all go back as before.”
Her whisper followed.
The moment his clenched fist unknowingly relaxed, Maleus’ body suddenly stopped as he realized this fact.
Then, he began to scatter energy so strongly that it was incomparable to what it had been before.
[What a useless trick…!]
“Ah, it isn’t working.”
[Not even a bit! You really haven’t changed even a little bit, you filthy whore!]
Maleus raised his left hand to the sky, bathing everything in darkness.
It could have been said that the shadows were moving, but it was a fundamentally different energy.
It was the passage through which all souls returned to Heaven. It was a place where the border of the afterlife overlapped with the Palace.
Grudges howled in the dark. Taking the form of a massive storm, it wrapped around Alaysia.
When Maleus waved his hand, the vengeful spirits that formed the storm were all shot at Alaysia.
Alaysia laughed at the sight.
“Ah, it’s been a while.”
She lowered the hand that had covered her mouth.
What was revealed was a torn mouth. When Alaysia opened it wide and inhaled, the grudges were sucked into her mouth.
As if expecting that, Maleus cursed and continued with his next move.
Maleus raised his right hand.
He reached out his open hand and grabbed the air, as if aiming at Alaysia’s neck from a distance.
Alaysia’s neck snapped.
The vengeful spirits that had been sucked in finally regained their freedom and scattered back into the air.
Maleus felt his anger surge.
He had to weave the vengeful spirits again, but those frightened by Alaysia just tried to run away.
“Hm. You seem to have collected quite a lot of them in the meantime, huh?”
With her snapped neck dangling, Alaysia stroked her belly with both hands and spoke.
“But it’s worse than last time. There’s not much to taste. There were plenty of tasty ones when the war was in full swing. Won’t it be good to start another war, after all?”
“No. I’m being honest. Aru said lying is bad, so I’m not lying.”
Alaysia’s head slowly began to snap back into place.
“The Crown. Are you really not going to give it to me?”
[It’s not an item meant for you, bitch!]
“Then for whom? Ah, our parent’s daughter? What can that child do?”
[She can do more than you.]
“Hehe… That child couldn’t do anything last time, though? Not just last time, but the time before that and the time before that. Every time, she just lost to me.”
Alaysia’s head returned to its original position perfectly.
After turning her head from side to side, Alaysia raised her index finger and said with a bright smile.
“And you know what? That child couldn’t regress this time. For the current her, this is the first lapse.”
A black vortex rose from the tip of her index finger.
“I know everything, while that child knows nothing. So I’m going to win this time, too.”
The vortex began to condense. It came together as one, then disintegrated, soon becoming a small orb the size of a fingernail.
The identity of the orb was the crystallization of the vengeful spirits that Alaysia had previously swallowed.
Maleus vented his deep anger at the sight of Alaysia playing with the vengeful spirits as if they were no big deal.
[…Okay. I guess I should stop taking this easily.]
Maleus put his hands together. As he separated his hands, a darkness much darker than the one that bathed the surrounding space appeared between his palms.
Darkness engulfed Maleus’ body.
As Maleus stood, the entire space began to vibrate.
“Why are you doing useless things?”
[That useless thing is what you did, bitch.]
With his size growing to the limit, Maleus looked down at Alaysia.
Then, he thought.
‘…So she doesn’t know.’
Alaysia is unaware that Orgus had intervened in the ongoing journey of the Daughter of Parent and Son of Promise.
She thought that she was the only one unaffected by Orgus’ influence.
Maleus’ shadows covered the Palace.
As Alaysia looked around, she realized what Maleus was trying to do.
“Are you trying to lock me up?”
There was a very deep smile on her lips.
“Why? Are you trying to give that child time to run away? Well… It doesn’t matter. I just need to take the Crown.”
At her still-relaxed words, Maleus replied with a smirking tone.
[Too bad. I no longer have the Crown you need.]
[Do you think I did this without thinking?]
The Crown had already been given away.
At the words laden with such meaning, the expression on Alaysia’s face vanished.
The mouth that had been torn until now returned to its normal shape.
“You’re so annoying.”
She aimed the orb of vengeful spirits on the tip of her index finger at Maleus and shot it away.
It was a bullet fired at an unrecognizable speed, but both Alaysia and Maleus knew that it wouldn’t do any damage.
Maleus reached out and grabbed the fired orb. He absorbed it and spoke.
[Indeed, let’s play around. The last time we fought like this was in the Age of Gods, was it not?]
A frown was drawn on Alaysia’s face, and a sigh escaped from her mouth.
“…Good thing I was prepared.”
[It’s obvious what you do, bitch. Aren’t you going to play with that toy again?]
“It’s not a toy. It’s a gift from Aru.”
[It will not turn out the way you want. Since the Crown has already found its owner, there is no way to take it back.]
“…It’s okay even without it. It’ll be a bit of a hassle, but that much suffering is enough to make it happen. Up to this point, I have done well even without the Crown.”
For the first time since entering the Palace, Alaysia took a step forward.
She clenched her hands into fists.
Crystals of pure energy devoid of impurities arose from her hand.
“I’m going to beat you up.”
Alaysia rushed at Maleus.
The gates of the Palace were closed.
All the undead in the Cradle, whether they lived inside or outside the castle, went to the gate of the Palace. They lined up there, all of them fully armed.
Unaware of the reason for the ensuing situation, the group went to the front of the Palace and asked Hodrick.
“What is going on?”
[…There is an intruder. It seems that His Majesty is dealing with them directly.]
Hodrick’s words were spoken in a firm tone.
At his words, the group’s expressions hardened accordingly.
“Do you mean that Maleus himself is fighting?”
Hodrick nodded at Vera’s question.
[That is correct. Since His Majesty has sealed the Palace, we will be guarding the front of the gate for quite a long time to come.]
Hodrick turned his head with a clanking sound, looked at the closed gate of the Palace, and continued.
[…We also do not know how long this situation will last. I want to apologize for this sudden turn of events.]
Renee shook her head.
“No! There’s no need to apologize…”
After saying that, Renee spoke in a worried tone while gripping her cane tightly.
“That… will Maleus be alright? If it’s an opponent he has to deal with himself, then…”
Isn’t it the same Ancient Species?
It was a question asked with that thought in mind.
While the group turned grave at the thought that the future Orgus had shown them might unfold differently than how they knew it to be, Hodrick said.
[…I know very well what you’re concerned about, but you don’t need to worry. Even if your thoughts are correct, there will be no defeat for His Majesty.]
[This is the Cradle of the Dead. And the Cradle is His Majesty’s land. Even if the intruders have prepared a trick, nothing bad will happen to His Majesty.]
Having said that, Hodrick added a few words while fiddling with the sword strapped to his waist.
[…It is not the first time, so do not worry too much. Ah, rather than that. Can you visit the young lady? She will be very surprised that this suddenly happened.]
A request to take care of Jenny.
Only then did Renee realize that Jenny was not present, and nodded.
Leaving Hodrick’s words of gratitude behind, Renee led the group toward Jenny.
In the middle of a girl’s room, colorful unlike any other room in the old castle, Annalise greeted them.
Vera frowned as he looked back and forth between Annalise and Jenny, who was squatting across from her.
After a brief pause, Vera fixed his gaze on Annalise and asked a question just in case.
“…Do you know what the situation is?”
He asked the question because Annalise’s expression was unlike anything they had seen before.
The answer was a rather shocking confirmation of Vera’s guess.
[Which bitch do you think will make a fuss here? It’s that bitch, Alaysia.]
Renee’s body shivered at the words that implied why they were asking the obvious. A look of shock crept across her face.
[…Come here and sit down.]
[I’ve been thinking about it for a while.]
Annalise turned her doll head towards the group and continued speaking.
[Although I don’t like any of you, I don’t ever want to see things turn out the way that bitch wants them to, even if I die.]
Even as she continued to speak, it could be felt that Annalise was still unsure and continued to contemplate.
Will these stupid-looking things be able to do their job properly?
Those were the worries that weighed on her mind.
The fact that Orgus chose them, and that the key to salvation was not her. Even after she understood all of that, the remaining self-righteousness in her heart created doubt.
Annalise sighed deeply.
“…I’ll sit, then. It looks like she has finally decided to say something.”
Renee took a step forward with her cane and sat down next to Jenny.
Vera stood behind them, and the rest of the group sat around Annalise.
“Now, can you tell us?”
At Renee’s appearance, Annalise thought, ‘whatever happens, happens’ and poured out her words.
[Where should I start to help you understand…?]
She kept thinking and pondering how to convey the information, but it was difficult to do so without knowing exactly how much the other person knew.
Therefore, Annalise asked.
[Then, let’s start with this. Have you ever thought about why Apostles exist?]
It was a question asked with an arrogant tone typical of her.