༺ Gillie (1) ༻
With Renee’s assistance, Vera set out to locate Friede. It was due to Renee’s comment that they should ask them directly about their relationship with Neuters.
Unlike Renee, Vera firmly believed that they would never state the truth. Renee responded with a faint smile and replied, ‘If Friede really was secretly communicating with the Neuters, they would admit it with their own mouth.’
A confusing remark.
Yet, Vera chose to believe in Renee, the person who had enlightened him. If Renee firmly stood by her stance, then there must’ve been a good reason for it.
With those thoughts in mind, Vera arrived before Friede and questioned him directly.
“Do you know where the Neuters are hiding?”
Vera immediately inquired.
Friede narrowed their eyes in response and nodded.
Schwing, Vera drew his sword but was restrained by Renee. Friede only observed the scene unfold before them in silence.
Renee took a step forward, her cane producing a ‘tap’ sound that resonated through their vicinity. She questioned Friede with a smile plastered on her face.
“Are you secretly communicating with the Neuter?”
Friede replied once more impassively, causing Vera’s expression to crumple.
‘What are they planning?’ Such a question materialized in his mind.
Tension rose within Vera. His hostility rose upon due to facing someone whose intent he couldn’t comprehend.
Yet, the only reason he hadn’t acted more aggressively was due to Renee’s presence.
It was because Renee donned a calm expression that seemed to comprehend something that he himself didn’t understand.
Renee questioned Friede again upon coming to the conclusion that her prediction was correct.
“Even if Aedrin’s essence is stolen, even if all the elves were wiped out, you don’t actually mind this sequence of events, do you, Friede?”
That was likely the case based on Friede’s behavior that she had perceived. Her observations clued her in on Friede’s lack of emotions. For them, this event was a natural occurrence, and they were indifferent to the potential outcomes of this conflict.
Friede’s reply confirmed Renee’s conjecture.
“Hmm, the Saint has a very keen eye, doesn’t she?”
An empty laugh followed suit after those words.
Renee felt the familiar sadness well up within her once again. It was the sorrow she experienced every time she spoke to Friede.
She didn’t ask if they felt anything. For Friede, it was a rhetorical question.
Renee continued to inquire.
“What do you think is the correct choice, Friede ?”
“What do you mean?”
“Aedrin’s death or the Neuters’ death. Which of the two do you think is the better option?”
She uttered those words to get a better perspective on Friede’s way of reasoning. She had a vague understanding of how Friede would reply, but she still wanted to hear their answer definitively.
“Neither of them holds any value to me.”
Friede responded by spouting the same answer Renee had expected.
Renee knew it too.
That there was no right side in this dispute. There were only different viewpoints.
That was the basis for the Elves and Neuters acting on their own desires for what they believe is of greater value.
Amongst them, Friede was isolated due to his lack of emotions.
“Then, does Friede really intend to do nothing?”
“No. My mission is to defend my mother from the invaders of the Great Woodlands. I will continue this mission until the end of my life.”
Friede smiled as they uttered those words.
“Well, if Gillie eliminates me, the mission will end in failure.”
His words were uttered in a calm demeanor, as if narrating the natural sequence of events given a cause.
Friede watched Renee and Vera’s complexions as he spoke. They were capable of grasping the emotion evoked and the reasons for it.
What came to mind in Vera’s expression were ‘annoyance’ and ‘anger’. Perhaps he felt aggravated due to Friede’s indifference and neutrality in this dispute.
Following their analysis of Vera’s emotional state, they shifted their face towards Renee.
‘Sadness’ and ‘sympathy’ appeared in Renee’s expression.
They couldn’t understand it.
They quickly began to contemplate. Friede recalled every event that had occurred since Renee had arrived as a means of figuring out the cause of her emotions. Yet, they were unable to determine the root cause of Renee’s feelings.
Their mind continued to race ceaselessly. Friede continued to lack comprehension of why Renee harbored such emotions for him. They therefore substituted the subject matter with elves in place of themselves to rationalize the root cause of such emotions.
At last, an answer emerged.
“Ah, do you sympathize with the elves?”
They thought they had finally reached the correct answer.
Friede tilted their head in response. They watched as the blind Saint Renee turned her hollow gaze towards them. Friede’s figure reflected in her hollow eyes as she spoke.
“I sympathize with you.”
For the first time, Friede’s calm expression crumbled.
Emotions were never a limiting factor for Friede to attain his goals.
It was only natural. Friede couldn’t comprehend emotions, they therefore could not respond emotionally when Renee stated she sympathized with them.
The reason why Friede’s emotions vanished… If it were to be described in a metaphorical manner, it would be like just how a machine couldn’t find an input value.
Friede couldn’t feel emotions, but they were capable of learning about them.
Friede understood what emotions arose from certain actions and words, and how they should be dealt with.
It was experience that had been accumulated over thousands of years that made it possible.
Therefore, Friede never once had any doubts about the feelings that someone was expressing.
All emotions have clear and concise reasoning and logic as a foundation.
This was the very first time Friede witnessed emotions that they couldn’t comprehend.
Friede remained silenced and awaited Renee’s response.
A smile materialized on Renee’s lips. It was a faint smile that seemed to fade away quickly.
“I want to help the elves.”
“It would seem so.”
“But I also want to help Friede.”
Friede was left speechless.
Friede stared at Renee’s face and expanded their point of view farther, like a scholar longing for an answer to a problem that could never be solved.
Their desire for answers compelled them to question Renee again.
“Do I need a reason to sympathize?”
“How could there be no reason? Pardon my stupidity, but I need a much clearer answer.”
“Um, I don’t really understand the reason for it.”
Friede grimaced as his fingertips trembled.
“I just wanted to sympathize.”
To Friede, the word ‘just’ was far too irresponsible.
They stated something they had never thought of saying, something they had never said before in their lifetimes.
“That can’t be the reason.”
It was a rebuttal.
Friede never provided a rebuttal, it was something they never felt the need to say.
They were oblivious to the reality that they were emitting illogical responses.
“Didn’t you say that you wanted to help the elves? But then, why don’t you want to help the Neuters? They deserve all the help they can get. They are struggling to live as well. Why is the Saint indifferent to them?”
After contemplating for some time about the words that she wanted to respond with, Renee spat out an answer.
“I don’t believe in righteousness obtained through someone’s sacrifice.”
She stated her honest beliefs.
“A sacrifice offered against one’s will is not a righteous sacrifice.”
They said what was most obvious to them.
“Because that’s not right. I do not want to side with the unrighteous.”
In response to Renee’s reply, Friede questioned her once more.
“Then am I righteous?”
“Then, why do you want to assist me?”
“Because you’re not evil either.”
Friede’s expression wrinkled slightly.
In the meantime, Renee continued to speak.
“Because you have not done anything wrong yet, I think Friede can be any alignment.”
These feelings and words, they were incomprehensible to Friede.
The world Renee perceived was inscrutable to Friede.
Suddenly, something unknown to Friede began to sprout within him.
One day, Renee’s heartfelt wish, the tiny seed of a miracle had taken root within Friede.
It took root in a land of mysticism.
It was blossoming by taking advantage of the rising chaos for nourishment.
The light shower of rain that fell in the parched desert did little to quench the heat, and only served to encourage growth.
This foolish individual experienced a drought all their life, yet didn’t even realize that what they were experiencing was a drought. However, they felt a shortage of the short rainfall that couldn’t even quench that dryness.
This discomfort was a sensation that should be called an emotion.
The question that couldn’t be solved, the answer they wanted to understand but lacked the capability to, was the cause of that discomfort, the first emotion Friede felt in their life.
It was thirst.
“Is that the only reason?”
Friede was not satisfied.
Such a response could not quench Friede’s thirst.
“Do you need more reasons?”
“It is necessary. Even if we stop the Neuter, in the end what awaits us is extinction. We cannot repay the Saint for her services.”
“I think it’s better to struggle than to die like this.”
Renee commented further with the corner of her lips upturned in a wide smile.
“No one could possibly know if a miracle may occur and your entire race would survive, correct?”
Friede was incapable of comprehending that statement. Their first instinct was to belittle Renee’s comments that they deemed ignorant with the knowledge they encapsulate. It was their usual response in regards to the unknown.
These are delusions. Those who consider themselves righteous push their beliefs onto others with the delusion that their way encapsulates that of normality.
Despite their best efforts to remain calm, it wasn’t enough.
Friede lost control of their expression due to confusion, which they had never experienced before in their life. They continued to speak as they recalled an idea they had that could be used to see through this deception.
They pointed their hand towards the entrance of the Great Woodlands.
Friede didn’t have the patience to be concerned with the reality that Renee was blind.
“Prove it. Gillie is just now entering the great woodlands.”
“The leader of the Neuters.”
Rattle. A tremor reverberated through Vera and Renee’s bodies.
Friede had long since noticed the tremors, but chose not to comment due to the mental disarray induced by Renee’s words.
Friede continued speaking with confusion plastered on their face. It was the face of an examiner seeking proof.
“Now, if the Saint truly wants to save the Elves, let’s put a halt to their invasion together.”
That Renee would be consumed by fear and flee.
Change her attitude and escape.
“… Hurry up.”
Friede’s wish never came true.
Gillie released a deep sigh in response to the sound of rustling with every step they took, and at the dry landscape of the Great Woodlands.
The fertile land and the greenery that seemed to last forever, are all gone.
Only this dying vegetation remained.
Gillie felt a burning sensation in their stomach.
Why did it have to disappear like this?
Their choices weren’t wrong, so why does it have to end this way?
Why should the conclusion of the tale of the siblings be so miserable?
The burning sensation resulted in sighs, the sighs induced with rage.
Gillie felt tears cascading down their cheeks as the current of emotion gnawed away their entire body.
Gillie then continued to march.
They were now strolling through what was once the land that they played with their siblings long ago. This land had been one in which they harvested fruits, hunted, and even tended to new vegetation.
They marched on the land where they and their siblings’ souls would rest.
In the wake of Gillie’s march, fallen leaves crisped into ashes and scattered with the wind.
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