༺ Bizarre (2) ༻
Vera left the camp.
A decision was made almost instantly as he weighed the advantages and disadvantages of an immediate battle.
Galatea was the commander of the Demon King’s army, and Vera was aware of the commander’s brutality, having witnessed it firsthand.
He couldn’t guarantee to win the battle immediately against such an opponent. Enemies were present everywhere, moreover, he was in a situation where the only weapon he could use was a short dagger.
In a situation where it was only right to consider the future, Vera felt no shame in fleeing.
He believed that running away was the correct choice, as the people behind him were more important than his own pride.
Vera stopped in his tracks after he entered the road leading to Dovan’s forge, which was far from the camp.
His heart sank at what he had just witnessed, and his thoughts were scrambling all over the place.
The Fortress Destroyer, Galatea.
The Demon King’s first flag bearer.
Vera could now recognize his true identity.
‘The King of the Third Kingdom…’
It was Galatea.
A forced laugh with a ‘heh’ sound escaped from Vera’s mouth.
‘…Nothing is impossible.’
If he were to assume that Todd was Galatea, several things would fit into place.
‘Galatea first appeared on the Federation’s land.’
The first event that occurred after the advent of the Demon King, the destruction of the Federation of Kingdom’s west, was Galatea’s doing.
Although his origins were never fully revealed in Vera’s previous life, the answer could be found by connecting the dots along with the information he had gathered.
Since the ministers of the Third Kingdom who knew his identity were all dead, the fact that Galatea was one of the Federation’s kings remained unknown.
But what Vera still couldn’t understand was…
‘…The Federation in my previous life wasn’t unified even until the end.’
Galatea was Todd, and Todd wanted to unite the Federation.
He wanted to get rid of Dovan and the other four kings.
His intentions were clear, but why did Todd remain quiet? And why is he acting so blatantly this time?
As he was engrossed in such thoughts, the realization that ‘he’ was the reason behind this situation dawned upon Vera.
‘…Because I intervened.’
Could it be that Todd’s mind became impatient because of the involvement of the Holy Kingdom?
Such a guess occurred to him.
Vera recalled Todd’s condition that he had seen in the tent before.
‘He was unstable.’
Todd couldn’t even properly maintain his own body. He was constantly breaking and regenerating.
It was not known exactly, but the spell that Todd was casting must have been a spell to accept the Demon King’s aura into his body.
The spell that, once accepted, turned him into Galatea.
Vera kept that assumption in his head.
‘If it was completed after the advent of the Demon King…’
If Todd had been silent until then.
‘…If the reason disappears the moment the magic is completed.’
If that was why Todd, who had completed the ritual, brought the Federation to ruin.
It could explain Todd’s silence.
Combined with the assumption that the same was true for Dovan, it was a sufficiently convincing theory.
‘In order to keep the Federation divided during his silence, he would have had to kill Dovan.’
Without Dovan, the Federation would remain divided until the spell was completed, so from Todd’s point of view, Dovan had to be killed.
Vera continued on his trail of thoughts and put the pieces together.
Putting together the fragmented clues into an event.
Vera, who was in the middle of thinking, suddenly felt that the incident was cut off after a certain point.
Vera’s expression crumpled.
‘…I can’t explain the Demon Sword.’
How Todd became Galatea, and the reason why Dovan had to die. He was able to infer all the reasons why Aisha had taken up the Demon Sword, except for one.
‘If Dovan was killed by Todd, the Demon Sword can’t be completed.’
This reason also aligned as to how he believed that there would be a change in Aisha’s mind.
Ultimately, Dovan was the person who had to complete the Demon Sword, so if Dovan died, the Demon Sword would never be completed.
The concocted incident would only end once Dovan had finished the Demon Sword.
However, if a conclusion was drawn from the conjectures he made, that part would still remain blank.
‘There is definitely something missing.’
What did I miss?
It must’ve been something that he hadn’t even thought of.
An incident that created Dovan’s hatred, the grudge that will be engraved on the Demon Sword.
Vera retraced his thoughts. The events he had slowly pieced together returned to their original fragments.
Several attempts were made to fit the fragments together and unravel them again, but the result of reaching the completion of the Demon Sword did not come.
Vera clenched his fist.
A sense of urgency crept within him.
He had to return quickly to prepare.
The reason that rage towards himself swelled within Vera was because he couldn’t think of a solution in this situation where he didn’t know when Todd, who would complete that spell, would appear again.
His thoughts, clouded by impatience, started to pursue other options.
‘…I will confront Todd.’
His gaze returned towards the direction of the camp.
If he didn’t know what was going to transpire, he just needed to kill Todd and prevent that future.
Make it so that nothing ever happened in the first place.
As Vera continued to think and weighed his chances of victory, he suddenly felt a feeling of ‘anxiety’ welling up within him.
He wasn’t in his best condition right now, and the only weapon he had was a single dagger.
What would happen if he couldn’t defeat Todd while in this state?
What would happen to Dovan, Aisha, Renee, Norn and Hela, who would be right behind him?
Vera felt himself taking a step back involuntarily.
Renee would die.
The thought struck him with fear.
Suddenly, her final moments floated in Vera’s mind.
His heart pounded, and his breathing became ragged.
‘I’d rather run…’
What if he woke everyone in the forge right now and made plans for the future?
…The moment he thought about it.
Vera felt his heart tighten.
Suddenly, Vera’s body trembled. His body staggered from the sudden pain. He then collapsed to the ground, kneeling on his knees.
Vera moved his hand over his left chest.
The cause of the pain was immediately apparent. It was the oath that was engraved on his soul.
[I will live for the Saint.]
That oath was responding to his thoughts.
Vera was taken aback by the sudden pain and cursed while biting his lips.
‘… I must not run away.’
It was an act against the oath.
Running away wasn’t for Renee.
Turning away and fleeing from those who would perish was against Renee’s beliefs and premise of doing what was right and just.
Why did this oath, which had been quiet this whole time, suddenly react at this moment?
There was no need to ask such a question.
Vera already knew the answer.
The reason why the oath responded now was that Vera had clearly realized that his actions were wrong. The oath had been engraved deep in his heart through the series of events since leaving the Holy Kingdom.
Vera grinded his teeth. His trembling eyes were riddled with anxiety
Vera, who had lived his entire life without knowing fear, realized the dread of loss.
It was a crushing feeling.
As Vera stared blankly at the ground, he realized he was at a point where he couldn’t move forwards or backwards.
The moment when his continuous thoughts came to an abrupt halt, and all sense of direction was lost…
The sound of a ticking clock was heard.
Vera lifted his head.
The ticking sound was heard again.
Vera jumped up abruptly and gripped the dagger in reverse.
‘Did I get caught?’
Did the army of the Third Kingdom discover that he infiltrated?
With those thoughts, another sound of the clock ticking was heard once again.
Hearing that sound, Vera suddenly remembered that this sound was familiar.
It was a feeling that could only be expressed as bizarrely familiar.
The sound was coming from the forest, where darkness had fallen.
There was no sign of life. There were no footsteps. There was just a ticking sound.
Suddenly, Vera’s steps headed forward.
It was a behavior based on instinct rather than intention. It was something that he did without even realizing it.
For some reason, the sound that had been ringing in his head made him feel like he needed to follow it. So he walked towards the darkness.
Vera’s feet landed on the dry midwinter soil.
The sound grew louder as the distance narrowed.
Vera’s body blended into the darkness of the forest.
Immediately after that, the world turned upside down.
Vera took a deep breath. The thoughts that had been lingering in his mind came to a halt, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
However, warning bells began to ring in Vera’s head at the bizarre phenomenon unfolding before his eyes.
The world ‘elapsed’.
The sun and the moon crossed paths. The world flickered.
The withering trees suddenly sprouted leaves, bloomed, bore fruit, and then withered away again.
A total of 3 repetitions.
And judging by the frequency, it would be twelve times. In the midst of the rapidly flowing seasons, Vera took a deep breath, and waited for what would happen next.
He heard the sounds of irritated footsteps
As Vera turned his head towards the source of the sound, what reflected in his field of vision was.
It was Aisha Dragnov.
Her body was now more mature than before. Her golden bobbed hair, which had been draped over her shoulders, reached down to her waist. Holding a sword in her arms, Aisha’s appearance as she ran was nothing short of fierce.
Her entire body was drenched in red, as if it was bathed in blood.
Dirt and dust piled on top of her.
It was impossible to tell whether it was blood or tears that were running down her cheeks.
Aisha, who was running with such a ferocious look, suddenly stumbled and passed through Vera.
A dull sound and a stifled moan.
Vera was startled by the sound of Aisha, who fell as she passed by him. After a moment, he snapped out of his thoughts.
What he was seeing right now was a hallucination.
Again, his gaze turned to Aisha.
Aisha, who grew up, let out a moan that could be either because she was crying or screaming. Her now taller, trembling body was pitifully trembling.
Vera took a step closer to Aisha and reached out his hand.
His outstretched hand… failed to reach Aisha and passed through her body.
Vera’s eyes narrowed.
What is this phenomenon?
While he was thinking that, Aisha, who was gnashing her teeth to the point of making a sound, muttered.
“…I will kill you.”
Startled, Vera’s fingertips trembled.
“I will kill you…”
Aisha stood up. Her eyes seemed to be bloodshot.
An ominous cry.
Vera’s gaze belatedly turned to the sword Aisha was holding in her arms.
‘The Demon Sword…!’
Vera’s breath was caught in his throat.
The Demon Sword was crying.
“All of you…”
Aisha’s murmur continued.
“…I will kill all of you.”
The Demon Sword began to glow with a dark red light.
Aisha staggered away.
As she faded into the dark forest.
The moment Vera stared blankly at her back…
The space crumbled.
The sky twisted, the ground crooked, and the sprawling forest began to tear into many branches.
What followed was a world that was breaking apart in all directions.
After that, the forest where Vera had originally been, came into his sight.
Vera’s breath stopped as his consciousness crumbled, and as he closed his eyes briefly to shake off the sensation, when he opened them again, he saw…
It was a mysterious man in a robe.
Vera immediately lowered his body and held his dagger, his body radiating divinity.
It was a stance born out of instinct at the sudden confrontation.
Vera’s gaze penetrated the assailant.
He wore a worn-out robe that should be called rags. Deep darkness shrouded the hood and hid their identity. And…
A large pocket watch was hanging from the hooded figure’s neck.
As the second hand of the clock moved, it made a sound.
It was the sound of the second hand that he had heard before.
While Vera made a surprised face, the assailant raised his right hand.
The wrinkled, bony hand that was half-transparent through the back was held out to Vera with all five fingers spread out.
At that moment, when Vera strengthened his divinity…
The assailant uttered that and folded his thumb.
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