༺ Pursuit (2) ༻
Renee felt her head tingling at the sudden change.
She tried to grasp the situation as she scanned her surroundings in a slumberous state, but it wasn’t easy.
It was a natural reaction. How could she have known that she would find herself riding a horse when she opened her eyes?
All she heard was that her pursuers had caught up to them. What Renee could at least infer now was that this was an emergency situation.
The horse galloped at full speed, and its back shook up and down. The chilly night breeze tickled her cheeks. Vera’s voice rang in Renee’s ear. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back to listen.
“You must hold on tight, Saint.”
His tone was more serious than usual. It’s the first time Renee had heard such a voice. Renee felt a growing sense of restlessness and clasped Vera’s waist firmly while alleviating her mind.
“Err, is there something wrong?”
“There’s nothing to worry about. No matter what happens, I will protect the Saint, so please hold on to me a little longer so you won’t fall off the horse.”
Words that make her feel safe. Renee heard his instructions, nodded lightly, and breathed heavily.
‘I’ll be fine.’
Didn’t the Norn tell her that Vera is one of the strongest in the Holy Kingdom? No matter how many enemies come for them, Vera won’t lose.
Renee’s heart began to beat wildly.
She simply dismissed it as a reaction caused by anxiety and fear.
Vera thought rapidly while riding the horse.
‘All we have to do is cross the border.’
They would have deployed troops on the border. Before Vera left, he gave the word to Vargo in advance, and once more when he arrived at Remeo through Norn, so it should be fine unless the Holy Emperor had a severe case of dementia.
At this speed, they should be able to reach the border in an hour.
The problem is…
“…Followers of the Night.”
They are the ones who are chasing them.
The children of Nertania, the ‘Queen of the Black Season.’ The hermits dwelling in the shadows.
They were the ones pursuing them during this starless night.
‘Battle… seems unavoidable.’
No matter how fast someone is, you can’t outrun them at night.
It’s only a matter of time before they catch up. What I need to do now is to protect Renee to the best of my abilities while advancing to the border.
And so, for a while, such thoughts were overflowing in Vera’s mind.
At the sound of a slash, the horse suddenly lost its balance.
At that moment, Vera became tense as his eyes widened when his gaze lay upon a shadow that had risen from the ground and cut the horse’s knees.
They caught up to them.
The horse tumbled forward.
Vera swiftly laid down the horse’s reins, embraced Renee and jumped off the horse.
As Vera landed on the ground with Renee in his arm, he pulled out his sword with as tension surged over his body. Then he glanced around at his surroundings.
Swish swish swish-.
The howls of the wind. In those howls, something distinct overlapped with the breeze.
The Followers of the Night.
“Saint, put your arms around my neck. You have to hold on tight.”
Vera felt a pressure tightening around his neck. He looked ahead with his hand wrapped tightly around the hilt of his sword.
“Norn. Get ready.”
Norn, who had been silent until Vera’s order, pulled out his sword. An extraordinary event begins to unfold in front of their eyes.
The shadows rose amidst the bushes and began to take on the form of a human. Then, one by one, the rising shadows suddenly numbered dozens, and as a result, the tension intensified.
“May I have the Saint?”
A deep voice rang throughout the glade.
Rene’s body stiffened at that voice. Vera, upon feeling the reaction in his arm, gritted his teeth and looked at the direction where the voice came from.
At the end of his gaze was a middle-aged man with impressive red eyes in a large cloak that seemed comical at first glance.
A servant of Nertania.
‘He revealed himself?’
Vera gazed at the vampire hovering in the air, looking down at him. He then clicked his tongue and opened his mouth with a frown.
“That’s a ridiculous proposal.”
“We are negotiating. Isn’t it beneficial for you to hand over the Saint to ensure your own safety, while we, on the other hand, would be satisfied enough just to fulfil the long-cherished desire of our kind? Isn’t that a good deal?”
“Utter nonsense. Can’t the bat creep hear what he is spouting? Or is it because he still didn’t overcome the pain caused by his broken bones?”
Flinch. The vampire glared at Vera. His provocation has invoked a memory more humiliating than anything else he’s ever been through.
Fifty years ago, when he barely escaped from the encounter with Vargo, his wrath nearly cost him his life. The vampire continued, showing ever more ferocity than before.
“In any case, it seems those who serve the Gods have no manners whatsoever.”
“Oh, you have no idea.”
Vera replied, raising his sword.
‘I want to fight to my heart’s content, but…’
His movements were restricted while Renee was in his arms. On top of that, the fact that a vampire appeared here means that there were at least a few hundred troops waiting.
The best solution they can take now is to escape.
After thinking on the spot, Vera conveyed his intention to Norn with a wink and glared at the vampire, softly speaking in a voice only Renee could hear.
“Hold on tight.”
Shortly after those words, Vera quickly turned around and began running in the direction of the border.
And along with the sound of Vera sprinting.
Renee’s screams did not stop for a long time.
No matter how hard they tried to escape, they couldn’t possibly be faster than the Followers of the Night moving in the shadows.
While running, Vera began swinging his sword at the incoming enemies from all directions.
Blind spots on the back, ankles, and overhead are covered. However, his senses went into overdrive with the Followers of the Night targeting the Saint with shadowy projectiles.
Vera examined the situation while clenching his teeth.
‘We’re still a long way off from the border.’
It’s still worth piercing through, but their retreat to the border will be blocked if it goes any longer like this. So the most important thing is to go even faster.
Vera’s eyes glanced at Norn.
‘He is slowly reaching his limit.’
Norn was different from him. He had no stigma. Thus, he had no substitute for his physical abilities.
As he continued to ponder, a shadow flew right toward Vera’s right thigh.
Vera thrust out his blade toward the flying shadow, deflecting it, with its trajectory going in the opposite direction. He spoke out while running.
“Saint, are you all right?”
“Yes, yes! I’m fine, so don’t worry about me. Just keep running!”
“Then, pardon me.”
With reassurance, Renee clung more tightly around his neck as she felt Vera adjusting his hold on her body.
She quivered. Renee tried desperately to calm down, wondering if her trembling would make Vera more worried, but it was an impossible task.
It was a crisis of her condition, being unable to see.
All I could hear was the sound of something being cut down, screams, and howls of the wind dampening all of it.
All I can feel is the cold air surrounding me and the feeling of fluid splashing throughout my body from time to time.
Because it is imperceptible, she can’t see it. As a result, the unknowns crippled Renee in morbid fear, even more so than reality.
Renee clenched her fists. Renee gritted her teeth and clung to Vera. Then a sudden thought came to mind.
Before leaving the village, on that day, she smelled blood from Vera, a battle similar to the one today must have taken place. A battle he had fought on that day; she never knew it was so terrifying.
Little by little, Renee’s mind flounder to regret.
“If I hadn’t made a fool of myself….”
This would not have happened if I hadn’t acted so childish simply because I didn’t want to go, but while Renee felt on the brink of tears with her thoughts.
A loud, deafening sound resounded in the glade.
Rene’s body stiffened even more from the sudden vibrations that she felt.
It was Vera’s brief assuring.
Vera soothed Renee, who quivered like a leaf in his arms and then turned his attention at the loud noise.
What entered his field of vision was trees have been swept away, and the ground that had been cleaved with the soil exposed.
‘It’s not the vampire’s doing.’
The land that burst out that sound was definitely caused by an explosion.
It was an ominous speculation.
Vera continued to run while broadening his field of view and darting around.
He looked around the ground, between the trees in the distance, and at the sky for a moment. Immediately something caught his attention.
A group of Wyverns were approaching.
Vera scanned closer towards the sudden appearance of the Wyvern, squinting his eyes.
Thick skin with scales revealed over their bare bodies.
Dragonians have been pursuing them as well. They must have noticed the commotion that occurred.
‘… Not good.’
In some cases, they could bait them into fighting the Followers of the Night while they silently escaped, but it was an impossible task now that the border was near.
They’ll immediately know unless they’re idiots. All would be in vain if they fought among themselves here while the Saint crossed the border.
Vera clicked his tongue as he began to rack his brain around.
Should we fight? While Vera was thinking of that idea.
“What’s the matter?”
Renee’s worried voice interrupted.
“It’s all right. You don’t have to worry about it.”
“It’s dangerous. Would you like to get closer?”
Renee realized that the situation was not very good from the way Vera dismissed her words.
She knew this act was meant to assure her and Renee had enough of it.
Renee’s fist clenched once again.
‘This is… .’
She just had enough of her own helplessness.
A person was fighting for her right now, and she felt so pathetic being nervous.
The fault is mine alone. It was my fault that the situation became so dire.
Pessimistic thoughts filled her mind. Feeling frustrated all this time, Renee thought of what she could do.
Although she is blind and cannot walk on her own, there is something she can do.
Renee had a stigma. It was the power of the Gods.
Renee did not hesitate to raise her divinity at the sudden idea that came to mind.
Vera’s shout pierced her ears. Renee chewed on it, however, and gave a short reply.
Renee felt the short breathing sound penetrating her ears and again focused on gathering divinity.
She knew how to use her power.
‘A thing I wish for.’
She prayed and wished. She twisted his future. Thus, fate is now rewritten, infinitely close to an impossible phenomenon.
‘What I want most right now is….’
For Vera, herself and Norn to get out of here safely.
To arrive safely at the border.
Her divinity screeched out. The divinity residing in Renee’s body gushed out in all directions.
Screaming ensued in her ears.
Renee listened to it and concentrated her power.
She doesn’t know what would happen if this power manifests.
But all she could do now was hope, and Renee began praying again.
The divinity that bursts out of the body reaches its limit. The more Renee continued to muster her power, the more she felt as if her head would explode.
The more power manifests out, the more severe the pain becomes.
In the meantime, Renee’s mind wandered toward the Gods who had given her this power.
‘If you can’t fix my eyes…!’
Could you at least listen to my plea?
The divinity again gushed in all directions with a much more profound energy.
As Renee’s prayers continued, the scattered divinity enveloped the whole ground, the bushes, and the sky.
Renee did not know what the divinity she had created was doing, and she drew it by focusing only on what she wanted.
Thus, the divinity was extracted to the limit, and there was not a single drop left in Renee’s body.
Rene’s thoughts broke up with a sound.
The thoughts subsided in a daze. Her whole body went limp.
The burning pain in her head evaporated for a moment.
The last thing Renee felt before she lost consciousness was.
A quake that shook the entire world.
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