༺ Oben (2) ༻
The matters that needed to be dealt with in Oben were resolved surprisingly easily, though it didn’t mean that they would depart immediately.
That was to be expected.
After all, Hegrion, who would accompany them on their journey, was duty-bound. Even if that was set aside, the fact remained that they would still be stepping into one of the continent’s forbidden lands.
As with the Cradle of the Dead, the chances of it being anything more than a place of comfort were slim to none, so preparation was necessary.
From supplies and food provisions to various defensive measures in case of potential battles.
The group traveled around Oben’s Holy City collecting these necessities.
Of course, since she couldn’t be of help with such tasks, Renee was preparing with Kalderan.
In a place of prayer within the castle, Kalderan greeted her.
Renee bowed her head slightly towards the attendant who had guided her and then turned her head to greet Kalderan.
“Did you have a good night?”
“It was the same as usual for me. But isn’t that a question usually reserved for a host to ask a guest?”
“Hmm, is that so?”
A short chuckle rippled through the air.
Renee tapped her staff and walked over to Kalderan, taking a seat before continuing her words.
“You’ve been praying, I assume?”
“Not for long. I come and offer brief prayers when I have some time left in my day.”
“That is also wonderful.”
A wider smile formed on Renee’s lips.
“Consistently praying every day isn’t easy to do.”
“Even for the Saint?”
“Well, I don’t do it often either.”
“Oh, I see. The Lord must be upset.”
Was that the case?
Renee felt a small hint of doubt at Kalderan’s words.
Could it be? Did the Lord truly give her this stigma out of love for her, or was there some grand plan she couldn’t comprehend?
Renee was lost in thought for a while, and soon uttered her answer.
“Well, I can’t do anything if the Lord is upset. Who told the Lord to choose me without knowing me well enough?”
“Hohoho! You’re quite a bold young lady.”
Her words were somewhat blasphemous, but there was a smile on Kalderan’s face as he listened to Renee’s story.
“Anyway, the words of the Saint are indeed right. Every matter should be faced only after thorough investigation.”
“Aren’t you disappointed?”
“Are you asking that because you know I’m not?”
“I can’t deny that.”
She wasn’t just saying it.
Indeed, Renee had already anticipated that he was this kind of person.
She was someone who had learned faith from Vargo.
It was Vargo who taught her that the heart was more important than grand ceremonies and praises.
“What were you praying for?”
“The same ones I’ve always done. Peace for my family and my homeland.”
“That’s the most important prayer.”
“That’s a relief. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. What do you pray for, Saint?”
Renee’s gaze shifted forward.
There were things she could know without seeing.
On the front of this church was a mural of the Nine Gods who created the continent. The architecture of this inner temple gave that sense, and unless Kalderan was a heretic, that should be the case.
What were the prayers she had occasionally offered to the gods?
What had she prayed for recently?
She tried to recall those things.
Silence flowed around them, and after a while, Renee answered.
“I prayed for my love to come true… a prayer for that person to not get hurt or suffer, and a prayer that our love will bring happiness…”
Suddenly, while she was speaking, Renee realized something.
“…I’ve prayed mostly about love.”
At some point, she had transitioned from merely praying for her light to return to praying for other people.
She didn’t realize it herself, but she started praying for others.
Kalderan looked at Renee, who answered with a smile on her face, and asked.
“So, did your prayers come true?”
Renee pondered once again.
Did her prayers truly make a difference?
Did the Gods play a role in her love life?
The answer that emerged in her mind was somewhat like this.
“But still, I think it’s better to believe that it had an effect.”
“Are you not completely sure?”
“After all, I succeeded because I made an effort. I can’t say for sure whether it happened because of the grace of the Gods. But still, I can’t exactly say that I succeeded on my own without any help.”
With a light chuckle, Renee added.
“It’s a matter of perspective. That’s how I see it.”
Kalderan mulled over Renee’s words, his gaze fixed on the mural before him.
The depiction of the Nine Gods, surrounded by light, seemed to cast judgment upon him.
Lost in such contemplation, Kalderan then voiced his thoughts.
“You’re heading to the Dragon’s Nest, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I think we might depart sometime this week.”
“Aren’t you afraid? Or perhaps resentful?”
After a brief moment of contemplation, Renee realized what Kalderan wanted to say.
“Are you talking about the dragonians?”
It was one of the species that reached out to her, seeking her powers during the Week of the Midnight Sun.
Aren’t you resentful towards them?
Aren’t you afraid of them?
Kalderan’s question held such implications.
Amidst this, Renee was taken aback as she recalled the dragonians’ image.
I had forgotten about it.
I had forgotten about the fact that they had targeted me.
“In my case, I hate them. I can’t forgive them for resorting to violence just because we live here.”
Kalderan’s tone was calm, yet there was some sadness within it.
“I still vividly remember my countless comrades who had fallen prey to them. That’s why I can’t forgive them.”
He seemed to be reminiscing about a distant past.
“So, let me ask you this. Saint, do you hold any resentment against the dragonians who targeted you? Are you not afraid of them?”
Kalderan’s gaze turned towards Renee once again.
Renee continued to ponder his question.
Due to having almost entirely forgotten about the existence of the dragonians until just now, she was immersed in figuring out why that happened.
After a long period of contemplation, Renee was finally able to come up with an answer that seemed appropriate.
“It’s not that I don’t resent them. It’s just that…”
“I think I’ve been more focused on the things I need to care about rather than resenting those people. That’s why I had forgotten about them.”
Why did I forget that past that I was so afraid of?
That was the answer that she came up with after thinking about it.
“Well… I, you see, the current me… have things I want to protect and things that I love. So, I only think about them all day. Just that alone fills up my day…”
As Renee struggled to sort out her somewhat scattered words, she finally managed to come up with a sentence.
“…Ah, that’s right. I think I can put it that way.”
She thought that she had come up with a rather good sentence.
“I didn’t have enough time to resent because I was too busy in love.”
A satisfied smile emerged on Renee’s face as she spoke.
Kalderan raised his brows at Renee and soon smiled.
“An answer worthy of a Saint, indeed.”
“I’m just saying that this old man has learned something.”
A puzzled expression began to appear on Renee’s face.
Kalderan, noticing this, rose to his feet and spoke.
“Ah well, perhaps I’ve taken up enough of your time.”
“Wait, are you leaving now?”
“Ah, today is leg workout day, you see.”
Renee’s smile disappeared.
Kalderan seemed not to notice the change in Renee’s expression as he turned away, chuckling.
“Well then, take care.”
Renee didn’t want to take care of anything resembling a leg workout.
The sound of striking metal reverberated.
The air couldn’t withstand the impact and burst.
Vera shook off the shock that traveled through his fingertips and looked at Hegrion, who was before him.
“Let’s take a break.”
It was a request for a pause in their sparring.
Hegrion answered by plunging the claymore he held into the ground.
The pale blue aura emanating from Hegrion gradually dissipated.
As he exhaled, his breath became visible in the air.
Vera looked at the large bottle he pulled out from a corner, his eyes narrowing.
It was another one of those damned shakes.
“Hmm? Would you like some, as well?”
“No, thank you.”
Vera declined as Hegrion offered him another shake.
It was his fifth bottle.
How many of these shakes did he carry around anyway? The shakes seemed to keep coming endlessly, leaving Vera confused.
“Phew… Being an aura user has its downsides in situations like this. The nutrients needed for training are dozens of times more than an average person’s daily requirement, so it is only natural for our muscles to be less efficient when training.”
Hegrion continued to voice his dissatisfaction without even being asked.
Vera managed to hold back the urge to roll his eyes, and spoke.
“Did you consider what I told you?”
“Are you talking about desire? You said it’s necessary when establishing my Intention.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Well, I guess there’s really only one thing I desire.”
After grinding the empty bottle using his aura, Hegrion spoke.
“A perfect physique. The ultimate body that radiates both aesthetic and functional beauty.”
Vera felt his head spin.
“…Is that so?”
Vera agreed to help Hegrion awaken his Intention, but now he felt like he was facing one of the most difficult things he had ever experienced in his life.
Isn’t that the case? Usually, Intention is about one’s mindset.
However, in Hegrion’s case, that concept had taken on a physical form.
“…Is there a specific criterion for what you desire?”
In this case… He asked the question because Intention was affected by such incidents, and there was no other option but to create a body that he was satisfied with physically for him to be satisfied mentally.
Hegrion murmured to himself.
He continued to stroke his chin as he pondered, and finally voiced his answer.
“…For now, I aim to lift 2 tons of weight without using aura. However, I shouldn’t neglect the aesthetic beauty of my physique in the process.” ”
The weight lifting talk was coming up again.
Vera struggled to keep his fist from clenching as he glared at Hegrion.
In the midst of that, he suddenly had a thought.
‘How did that man manage to interact with the Second Prince?’
Considering that they were both hailed as heroes, there must have been moments when they journeyed together.
If that were the case, Hegrion would have seen Albrecht’s body.
Vera pictured Albrecht’s physique.
A reliable and slender body, even for a woman.
His muscles were delicate, focused solely on controlling the flow.
It was the complete opposite of Hegrion’s burly form.
Vera continued to think, then shook his head.
‘…No, the Second Prince probably just took a beating.’
Upon closer examination, the answer seemed to come quite easily.
Since the Second Prince had a weak-willed nature, he likely allowed himself to be beaten unilaterally during their journey.
Perhaps he just stiffened up like a fool like he did when he became Aisha’s toy.
For some reason, this vivid image made Vera sigh deeply, and he muttered to Hegrion.
“…Let’s just finish the sparring.”
“Ah, that’s great. My muscles were starting to feel restless.”
…Vera really couldn’t stand Hegrion.
T/N: BL MOMENT??? ALBRECHT X HEGRION???