༺ Regression ༻
A violent shout.
Then, a foot that filled his field of vision, and a dull pain in his jaw.
Vera groaned, with his wide open eyes filled with tears, exhaling a sticky breath.
“This jerk is making a big fuss for nothing. You should have filled your quota then if you didn’t want this to happen!”
The sound of screams filled his ears, causing a nauseating sensation.
Vera, who felt that, awoke from his dazed mind and lifted his head to look at the source of the voice.
Doran, the leader of the slums’ beggars.
And the man that Vera killed with his own hands by twisting his neck in the past.
Vera let out a rough breath, looked at Doran with a disheveled complexion, and laughed bitterly.
I’m in hell.
My soul, torn to shreds, fell to hell and is being punished.
As Vera chuckled at those thoughts, Doran, who was looking at him, had a twisted expression and kicked him once again.
“Still, this bastard!”
Ugh! This time, after being hit in the chin, Vera fell backwards in shock.
Vera looked up at the sky while lying down in the muddy water with a smirk on his face.
The gloomy and stifling air.
It was the slums.
Even after struggling to get out, in the end, he returned to the slums.
Ironically, his hell took the form of the slums.
Realizing that, a louder laugh erupted from Vera’s mouth.
“Are you laughing?! Laughing!!!”
Seeing Vera burst into laughter, Doran became angry and started kicking him.
Vera, while thinking blankly, was being beaten all over his body by an angry kick.
What would be the point of saying it? That woman must have been in the arms of the Gods.
In the first place, she was a person whom he had no reason to be worried about. She was a woman who made even an evil being such as himself feel regret in the end, so she must be there.
Vera giggled and recalled the last moments of his life.
What was he thinking? He laughed so hard at himself for being so shameless, daring to make a promise for his next life.
God isn’t a moron, and there was no way they would show such mercy to an evil being who used their stigma as he wished throughout his life.
I was ashamed of myself for relying on that fleeting moment of warmth at the end, which had weakened my resolve.
It was a truly fitting end for an evil being like myself.
It’s the natural outcome because he used God’s blessing as a tool and sat on a throne built upon the despair of ordinary people, enjoying a lifetime of pleasure.
His whole body was being beaten by kicks. Still, he was bursting with laughter.
Vera, who felt two opposing sensations in his body, once again thought of the Saint, and felt his stomach being torn apart.
‘…It would have been better if we hadn’t met.’
If we hadn’t, I would’ve been thrilled about this situation. I would’ve humbly accepted it, and I wouldn’t have regretted my past life.
While contemplating this thought, Vera had a sudden realization, ‘Could it be that this was all arranged by the Lord?’
Maybe God placed her at the end of my life so that I would regret the sins I had committed, so that the sinner who dared to defile the stigma of God would suffer even more.
Wouldn’t that be very reasonable?
If that was true, the Lord was truly omniscient.
He would bear the rest of his sins with deep regret and despair. If the Lord, who prepared all this for him in advance, was not omniscient, then who could be called omniscient?
Again, laughter erupted.
There was no reason to laugh, it was a situation where he should be shedding tears, but for some reason, only laughter came out.
After laughing for so long, Doran, who had stopped kicking him before he realized, was looking at him with a tired face.
“Why? Keep going, kick some more.”
“Hey, you crazy bastard…!”
Hesitatingly. Doran took a step back.
With a somewhat frightened expression on his face, Doran took a step back and ran away.
Vera looked at his distant back and said, ‘That guy has no guts even in Hell.’ Thinking about something similar, he felt a belated sense of disharmony.
‘…Wait for a bit.’
Does this make sense?
Isn’t this hell? Isn’t this a place to punish evil spirits? But, if that’s where I am. Why is the jailer who punishes me running away?
Vera raised his throbbing body and took a deep breath.
Something is strange. In the midst of that thought, while sweeping his body to check for injuries, Vera discovered shouldn’t exist between his torn sleeves.
Vera hastily rolled up his sleeves.
The shape of a circle with 8 curves was exposed under the sleeves.
It was the Stigma of Oath.
Why is this embedded here? Why does it remain?
After thinking of such a thought, Vera then closed his eyes and examined his soul.
It was the power given to those who received the Stigma of Oath.
Above Vera’s closed eyelids, a dark soul appeared.
The dark, somber soul flickered akin to an ember.
It’s not shattered.
It had been completely restored.
All the parts that were once torn apart after breaking the oath were restored.
While Vera was making a blank face at this strange phenomenon, he suddenly remembered the oath he had engraved before he died, and looked into his soul again.
A dark soul. There were golden letters engraved on top.
The last oath of his life.
The oath of ‘I will live for the Saint’.
It was engraved.
Vera opened his eyes and looked around.
The back alley of the slums, which was gloomy and stifling due to being obscured by the shadow of the tower.
His soul had not been torn even a little.
It was a bizarre situation, as if being said that everything up to the moment of his death was a dream, but the oath engraved showed it wasn’t a dream.
Vera looked at his skinny wrists.
‘The body of a beggar.’
The only time in Vera’s life that he was so skinny was when he was a beggar.
It had to be so. After he solved the issue of hunger, he always maintained a strong body.
Vera finally realized what all of this meant now.
Time was turned back.
He returned as a wretched little boy in the slums who had not done anything yet.
A zoned out thought. The pain slowly receded.
Vera stared blankly at the sky at this incomprehensible phenomenon.
It was right to come up with the question ‘why?’, but funnily enough, one thought began to fill his head before all the other thoughts.
‘The Saint is alive.’
That fact alone filled his head.
A feeling of relief that he couldn’t explain the reason for.
She’s alive. She’s not just alive.
The burn hadn’t scarred her skin yet.
She hadn’t starved while eating honey porridge, which was worse than livestock feed.
…She wasn’t hiding in the slums.
Vera, who clenched his fists as he thought of her, enjoyed the relief that rose for a long time, then came up with another thought.
For what reason did I return for?
I tried to make a plausible guess, but no answer came to my mind.
However, an existence capable of doing such a thing came to mind.
‘… the Lord.’
The one who sits on the most supreme throne.
The one who shapes the world and weaves fate.
There was no one else who could do this.
Vera walked through the slums blankly, becoming covered in muddy water.
It was because his mind was disorganized.
If the Lord did this to me, what did she want from me?
In the midst of a series of questions, Vera finally remembered the oath he had made.
‘…I will live for the Saint.’
If there is anything the Lord wants to achieve through me, it will be the fulfillment of that oath.
Isn’t it? Why else would you pay so much attention to someone who is not good?
I’m an Apostle who abused the power of God.
An evil being who threw the world into chaos.
This second life that the Lord gave me could not have been for myself.
Suddenly, in Vera’s head, the conversation he had with the Saint came to mind.
-If the Lord was such a loving person, she would have taken pity on the Saint and would not have left her in a place like this.
Those are the words that were said to the Saint, who was living a miserable life in the slums.
The answer that came back was that she had chosen it herself.
Recalling her, Vera burst into laughter.
Again, Vera’s gaze turned to the sky.
‘Even the Lord couldn’t break that woman’s stubbornness.’
So, are you trying to save her by using someone else’s hand?
The thoughts went on for a long time.
If that’s what the Lord wants.
‘I’ll be happy to go along with you.’
He let out a long sigh.
As he sighed, the murky air that had filled his lungs came out.
Vera’s head turned towards the corner of the slums.
One of the deepest alleys in the slums, Scavenger’s Lair. He headed there.
Vera recalled Renee’s body lying in the muddy water.
Vera’s fists were clenched at the memory of the moment when an indescribably strange despair came to mind.
‘…Trash should be cleaned up.’
Even though those events hadn’t happened in this life, to Vera, they were sinners who had to be torn apart.
A shabby tavern with a musty smell.
In the middle of the tavern, where all of the equipment inside had been broken, Vera looked down at the corpses covered in blood with a vacant gaze.
They were the scavengers who had their necks broken by him.
It was funny that after he got a second chance, the first thing he did was murder, but he had no regrets.
On the contrary, if he hadn’t done this, he would have regretted it.
Logically speaking, that was the case.
The deep darkness of the slums. If left alone, mold would grow without end.
If he didn’t clean up like this, they would crawl out of the slums, so it was the right thing to do.
…Yes, I could have said that.
‘…It’s an excuse.’
Vera didn’t bother to cover up his actions that much.
Finding them and killing them was out of pure rage.
The end of her life was still engraved in his mind, and killed out of anger when he recalled that memory.
The scent of blood filled the inside of the tavern. It entered one’s nostrils and caused an unpleasant sensation.
Vera let out a deep sigh and brushed off the disgusting atmosphere.
He won with the power of the stigma, but his body felt exhausted.
It was natural.
It was because his body was too weak right now.
Vera’s gaze turned to the mirror fragment on the floor.
Above the fragment of the mirror, a gloomy impression of a boy with a scrawny face and black hair covering his eyes was reflected.
Yes, a boy.
His body now was that of a young boy who was only fourteen years old.
In addition, he was unable to eat properly, so his skinny body was trampled on and injured.
He faced the scavengers in that state, so he was very tired.
‘Once the cleaning is finished…’
Vera found a chair that was in decent shape, then took a seat, and continued thinking.
He had to plan for the future.
An oath engraved on the soul.
What should I do to protect her? He thought of that.
Life can’t be the same as before.
…No, I didn’t want to live like that, since I already regretted that life.
I vowed to live for the Saint, for that eccentric woman, so I had to become a human being who could protect her.
…Fortunately, he knew a suitable position to achieve that.
Vera’s gaze turned to the stigma engraved on his right forearm.
Paladin of the Holy Kingdom.
An option he hadn’t even looked at in his previous life.
However, if he wanted to, it was the easiest option for him to do.
In addition, it was the perfect place to keep the Saint by his side.
In Vera’s head, the events that would take place on the continent in the future were lined up.
‘It will be four years before the stigma appears on the Saint.’
The year she turns 14, the year he turns 18.
He clearly remembered because it was the time when he was collecting rumors about the imperial nobles in order to make a deal with them.
‘It’s been 4 years…’
The past life, that time had gone now.
Vera felt like the past was just over two weeks.
He remembered that she had found himself lying at the entrance of the slums.
‘In the last life, you found me…’
‘In this life, I’ll go find you.’
A smile appeared on Vera’s face.