༺ Eve (3) ༻
Renee was well aware.
Vera wasn’t speaking nonsensically. He must have considered many possibilities before arriving at that conclusion. There was a high chance that Vera was correct.
Hearing Vera’s words, Renee reflected on the past few weeks she had spent with Friede.
An elf that she personally found unpleasant. Even though they were delusions, she couldn’t see the elf in a favorable light because she was worried that they might aim to woo Vera’s heart.
However, if she were to judge them objectively, Friede was a pitiful elf.
A life devoid of emotions. Renee couldn’t bear the thought of living such a long and mundane life, a life that humans couldn’t even fathom—it must have been woeful.
“…I have a duty to protect the Saint. Please take that into consideration.”
Renee tightened her grip around Vera’s hand.
“Mr. Friede… Yes, they might be suspicious.”
If one were to think rationally, retreating and returning was the correct course of action.
“Is that a reason to turn your back on the elves who live here?”
Renee believed that there was something she had to protect, even if she had to put her own life in jeopardy, even if it eventually would come back to bite her.
The favor Vera did for her three years ago.
Words that now had become a significant part of her life.
You never know, so even if you say that, it’s still just a guess.
Then, if you aren’t certain, shouldn’t you believe in the possibility that you’re wrong?
“If your suspicions are incorrect, the elves won’t be able to fend off the Neuters, and they’ll meet their end.”
It was undeniably what Vera had taught her.
When Renee had fallen into despair, Vera urged her to hold on to the possibilities, since the future wasn’t set in stone.
He claimed that she could still stand up.
That’s why Renee felt bitter.
Renee was saddened to see Vera, who had become her light, ready to turn his back on others.
The sound of Vera gnashing his teeth resounded.
In response to the difference of opinions that couldn’t be easily narrowed down, Renee uttered.
“Vera, do you remember?”
“…What are you talking about?”
“The words you said. The fact that you’re chasing the light.”
A shudder resonated through Vera’s hand.
Renee, feeling the tremors, continued speaking with a subtle smile.
She continued to utter words that were close to being unreasonable, words that might really endanger everyone.
“…Turning a blind eye to the elves because of the potential dangers. Will this action help you chase that light?”
Vera’s hand stiffened. Renee presumed that this was an action Vera did unintentionally.
After all, wasn’t Vera’s hand tightening too much? Since Vera was a person who would never intentionally harm her, she thought Vera didn’t do it of his own volition.
“Can’t we just wait a while longer and observe?”
Can’t you believe in the elves and Friede, just like you placed your faith in me?
Can’t you become the light for those elves, just like you became mine?
Renee placed her other hand over the slowly aching hand and added the words.
“…Because Vera is strong, can’t we watch over them for a little longer?”
Renee didn’t mention faith. It wasn’t about his duty as an Apostle, nor anything she didn’t believe in.
Instead, Renee uttered what occurred to her naturally.
“We’re still fine.”
If one had the leisure, they should never ignore the misfortunes of the destitute masses.
If you possess strength, then it’s your duty to protect the weak.
That was the world Renee envisioned, and that was the principle that she lived by.
Renee, who was once unable to believe in anything, was able to understand that way of living once more because Vera was there for her.
It was because Vera found her, because Vera believed in her, even though she herself believed she couldn’t do anything
It was only natural that Renee could believe in this way of life.
Vera was the strongest and most righteous individual in Renee’s worldview. It was because Vera believed in her.
That was why she was able to live for the sake of others, why she felt she could show compassion again. He was the reason she could pursue that way of living, despite the perils.
Thus, Renee wished.
May this righteous light called Vera shine upon the elves.
Please help them stand up like you helped me, so they can live to see tomorrow, so they can live for days yet to come.
An eternity of silence ensued.
And his response was… utter silence.
The silence persisted until they returned to where Aidrin resided.
Vera entrusted Renee to Hela and departed in search of an enclosure of solitude. His mind raced ceaselessly as he gazed blankly at the falling leaves.
-Will this action help you chase that light?
Vera’s hand swept across his face. It was because Renee’s words still lingered in his mind.
It was because he was so pathetic. The moment he heard those words, he became incapable of responding. He lowered his head in shame as his heart pounded ceaselessly.
Vera felt ashamed to hear Renee’s words at that moment. It felt as if he was stripped of everything and was laid bare in front of her.
Suddenly, a faint sound of laughter escaped from between Vera’s lips.
‘Like a fool…’
Wasn’t he a shameless and narrow-minded person?
The entire time he claimed he would live for Renee, he could picture himself boasting.
At a certain point, he discerned that his fixation on the oath had resulted in him losing sight of what was most important to him.
Vera questioned himself.
What was the purpose of my oath?
The oath he made at the end of his previous life, the vow he made to live for her, for what purpose did it serve?
‘…To chase the light.’
Wouldn’t he, who was ever so tainted and evil, be able to approach that light? If he were by her side, wouldn’t he be capable of becoming a human being? Wouldn’t he be able to live a life worth living?
Isn’t that the oath I made with that wish?
Isn’t that the oath I made in order to finally live a life worthy of a human being?
Yet, what was this unsightly appearance? Who was this fool who couldn’t even respond when faced with her questions, and could only lower his head?
He thought he was aware of his ignorance.
Yet, he didn’t even realize that he was still the same narrow-minded and selfish Vera.
Vera was so busy boasting that he was in a position to protect Renee, yet he failed to realize he hadn’t changed at all.
Vera failed to realize that the only person that could change him, was himself. . He was waiting for Renee to change, for Renee to bloom as the Saint.
If that happened, he thought everything would be solved.
He thought that if Renee flourished, he would naturally change along with her.
Vera recalled Renee’s question again.
-Will this action help you chase that light?
The action that will help him pursue his own light and approach it.
The path he should take.
It wasn’t like this.
The most natural thing to do was to not turn a blind eye.
But he was stuck in a rut. He was content with simply staying by Renee’s side.
He was trapped under the illusion that it was enough.
This life… In this second life, I was determined to take on the role of a guardian.
I swore to myself that I wouldn’t offer any excuses. I vowed to live my life without any regrets.
Vera stood up with a distant gaze and closed his eyes. He then took a deep breath.
A scene unfolded within his head.
Illustrating his flaw, his ignorance, a scene manifested, showing a masked, murky, mud encrusted figure gradually ascending to the surface.
Vera peeled off the layer of muddy ignorance, and turned the figure around. It wasn’t just mere ignorance, rather, behind the veil depicted true foolishness.
Vera recovered a trivial chunk of ignorance from within the mud. The ignorance he finally discovered manifested in a truly pitiful and unsightly form.
Vera faked a chuckle and engraved his revelation very carefully over the layer of ignorance.
It was his responsibility, his obligation. In that place, he engraved the duty which would become the foundation of the path he would be traversing.
It was only now, seven years after Vera engraved the oath, was he finally able to make a new one.
Vera discovered Renee by Aidrin’s roots.
Renee was resting beneath the thickest roots of Aidrin.
He hesitated as his steps came to a halt.
After recalling the shameful sight he had previously displayed, Vera briefly clenched his teeth before loudly approaching Renee.
Renee abruptly jumped to her feet and asked.
“…Yes, it’s Vera.”
“Ah… I apologize for earlier! Vera must have been worried about me, but I was only considering my perspective.”
As Renee was continuing her words, she suddenly shut her eyes tight.
While Vera reflected on himself, Renee felt her head heating up and began regretting the words she had said to Vera.
The realization dawned upon her that perhaps Vera had grown tired of her after she was left alone.
She was overly anxious to the point of trembling, thinking that she had to apologize somehow.
When Renee thought about the tone of his voice, she was reduced to the verge of tears and froze in place, repeatedly spouting nonsense.
As Vera watched her, he felt his lips curl up into a subtle smile.
He smiled because he realized that Renee was worried that she might have hurt his feelings with her virtuous words.
Vera approached Renee, who was still stuttering, one step at a time, and grasped her hand.
Startle-. Renee’s body quivered as her tongue ceased.
Vera observed the restless Renee before resting his hands over hers and apologizing.
Quiver! Renee’s body trembled as she stiffened up.
Renee’s body quivered again.
Vera found her restless state amusing and chuckled before continuing to speak.
“I wanted to apologize for not living up to the Saint’s expectations by making such a selfish decision.”
“I’d also like to express my gratitude. What the Saint said was right. This ignorant man was blinded by what was directly in front of his eyes once again, and lost sight of what was truly important.”
Vera felt Renee’s hand wriggling in his palm, and strangely, seemed to heat up a bit.
When he suddenly realized that he was tightly gripping Renee’s hand with both of his hands, he tried to pull away.
Clasp-! Renee placed her other hand over his hands to prevent him from pulling away.
Renee hastily continued upon picturing Vera tilting his head.
“Ahem…! Yes! Don’t apologize.”
The following words were insistent as well.
Vera nodded slightly and responded.
Along with the sound of her laughter, Vera became aware of the warmth that permeated through Renee’s hand.
A rather thin and small hand.
It was an abrupt thought.
How could this be?
How could a girl, so young and immature, with such tiny, slender hands, give me such enlightenment?
Vera stared at Renee’s face while engrossed in those thoughts.
The eyes which had lost their light were partially concealed by Renee lowering her head.
The white hair flowing down, always brushed by Hela, swayed gently in the breeze.
Her face glowed crimson.
As Vera stared intently at her figure, the thought emerged in his mind that her clumsiness and girlish demeanor seemed adorable for some reason, as his body trembled in astonishment.
Renee tilted her head at Vera’s reaction and inquired.
“…Um, what’s wrong?”
The immediate response seemed to be an excuse.
Vera lowered his head slightly, erasing the blasphemous thoughts that materialized in his mind.
Fortunately, Vera was a person who could do such a thing.
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