༺ Fear (3) ༻
Panic flashed over Vera’s face.
Why did he do that?
Vera paused for a moment, unable to find the right words to respond to the sudden reprimand. He then realized that Renee must not have known what had happened yet and continued to explain carefully.
The King of the Third Kingdom was aiming for Dovan with a dangerous spell, and not just Dovan, the kings of the other four kingdoms as well. Vera couldn’t back down after learning about that. Had he retreated, the people in the villages of the lower part of the mountain would have been the first to be sacrificed.
He said it word for word to convince Renee.
“…So, I went alone because I thought it was for the good of everyone else—”
His words were interrupted by Renee’s scream.
Vera’s eyes widened. Renee’s words, facial expressions, and the grip of her hands holding on to his clothes. The emotions conveyed in them were so blatant that they took the form of anger.
Renee added again, breathing heavily with a tearful face.
“What’s so important about that?”
A heat arose in her head.
The excuses Vera made were so ridiculous that she got angry.
“Vera got hurt. It was dangerous. You could have died…”
Renee chewed on her lips. She was overcome by rising sadness as she spoke.
“…You could’ve died.”
She might’ve been left alone.
While watching Renee express her emotions, Vera was at a loss for what to do and added.
“…I apologize, but here I am, standing perfectly fine. You don’t need to worry, Saint…”
“Then next time?”
“If you do this again next time, is there any guarantee that you’ll be fine?”
Vera’s body trembled.
Will I be able to return unscathed when an enemy like Galatea comes out again?
Vera’s mind flashed back to his battle with Galatea. It was an unbeatable opponent. Wasn’t he the commander of the Demon King’s army? With his current strength, it was an enemy that could not be beaten in a normal way, and he had to use his soul as collateral to draw power.
Fortunately, he came back safely and woke up, but he couldn’t guarantee that he would even be safe next time.
Renee’s words continued as Vera hesitated.
“No, you won’t be fine. You came back half dead. Without Sir Norn, if he hadn’t found you immediately, if you had been brought a little later, you would have died. And then you want to say you’re back in good shape? How can those words come out of your mouth?”
Renee still remembered clearly what kind of condition Vera was in when he returned three days ago on Norn’s back, and how disastrous his condition was at that moment.
The memory ignited a surge of emotions, and like adding more wood to a roaring fire, they began to run wild.
“Do you know how worried I was? You couldn’t get up for three days. No matter how much divinity I used, no matter how many wounds I healed, no matter how many internal wounds I dealt with, nothing happened. I thought something really happened to Vera. I thought you would never open your eyes again…”
Renee’s lips trembled.
Her face was filled with tears in an emotion so intense that she could no longer speak.
Only then did Vera realize how serious his condition really was.
Moreover, he realized that the reason he was awake was because of Renee, who had been nursing him for three days.
Renee heard Vera, who was apologizing, and wiped from her mind the words she’d wanted to hear before he had woken up.
“Don’t do this again. Don’t move alone. Don’t go anywhere dangerous. If you have to go, you must go with me.”
Renee never wanted to have this scary experience again. She didn’t want to tremble at the anxiety of losing Vera again.
Her head was feverish, and she didn’t know what she was saying and kept talking.
“No, don’t go anywhere. Just stay by my side. Stay with me forever, today, tomorrow, and the next day. Answer me when I call, hold my hand when I reach out…!”
Her whispered words turned into a scream in the midst of her rising emotions.
Renee, who was breathing heavily at him, took a few short breaths before finishing her sentence.
“…Just stay with me. Please…”
Renee laid her head on Vera’s chest. Her whole body was trembling.
Vera felt his chest get wet, and the tremors that passed through it left him speechless and dazed.
He needed to make her stop crying, and he needed to calm her down, but he didn’t know how.
He had killed crying people before, but he had never soothed any of them, so he stood there for a long time, his fingers twitching.
At the end, the only thing he managed to do was put his hand on Renee’s cheek to sweep away her cheeks, which were wet by tears.
It was a clumsy move.
It was a crude and careless move.
The words that came out were along the same lines.
“I wasn’t thinking straight.”
Soothing words were very difficult for Vera to say.
Wiping someone’s tears was something he had never done before in his life.
So, with a grimace, Vera weaved his words with a frown on his face, swallowed them repeatedly, and then apologized intermittently.
“I will do as the Saint says.”
Vera rebuked himself.
In his thoughts, he berated himself for failing to care about the feelings of the people he was supposed to be protecting.
Although Vera considered that Renee would be in a dangerous position, he remembered that he did not think that Renee would be so heartbroken because of his injuries.
He felt suffocated inside.
The weight of being worried about someone else’s well-being was so heavy, it felt so clear that someone might be in pain from his misfortune, and it felt hard to breathe.
It was the weight of living for others.
It was the weight of caring for the people behind him.
Moreover, it was a weight Vera had never felt before.
At that moment, Vera realized that protecting was not just about keeping their bodies intact and safe, but taking full care of their hearts.
Renee, who had been feverish for a few days without sleeping properly, cried for a long time and fell asleep.
It wasn’t until the next morning when she woke up again.
The first thing Renee did when she woke up was to kick the blanket.
After taking a proper rest, Renee tried to recall the day before with a cool head.
Renee felt her whole body shudder at the words she’d spoken.
– Don’t go anywhere.
– Just stay by my side.
It’s a lie!
– Stay with me forever.
It has to be a lie!
Each word was unbearable to remember.
It was a confession.
She was embarrassed. She was ashamed. She wanted to die.
Renee flopped down on her bed and buried her head in her pillow, letting out a shrill scream.
Why did she do that?
While she was thinking that.
Renee decided to steer her mind in a positive direction.
Maybe this was an opportunity. Yes, wasn’t this what she wanted? Of course, she didn’t want to see Vera again that way, who went out alone and came back half-dead! She didn’t want to go through that again! Since it ended safely, shouldn’t it be seen as an opportunity?
Maybe, just maybe, Vera might become conscious of her!
They would become close through a dramatic event, and at the end, their hearts would connect with each other!
Renee, who had been entertaining such thoughts, suddenly flinched when she remembered what she had done the day before.
She collapsed onto Vera’s chest, rolled around on the floor, ran to him as soon as she heard his voice, hugged him around the waist and buried her head in his arms, and then…
He stroked her cheek.
Renee’s face turned red.
Her hand naturally went to her cheek and was sweeping down the area where Vera had stroked.
Her heart began to beat fast.
And then, with the corner of her mouth raised in a pout, Renee said to herself.
– Just stay with me. Please…
As she recalled her words, she slammed her head into the pillow again.
The scream that escaped her mouth was muffled by the pillow.
Right next to the bed, Aisha, who came to wake Renee, watched the scene with her mouth clamped shut.
She thought it was a relief that Renee had recovered her energy.
At Dovan’s forge.
Dovan sat in front of the anvil and looked at Vera.
He couldn’t help but smile at the sight of him, fully recovered and lively. He felt like his stomach that had been suffering for the past few days was relieved in an instant.
But even in the midst of it, Dovan realized that he had to tell Vera these words.
He couldn’t help but think that he might have encouraged him.
“Without knowing anything, my words may have provoked Sir Vera. I want to apologize.”
Vera studied Dovan’s expression for a moment, then shook his head.
“There is nothing to apologize for, not in the slightest. On the contrary, I would like to thank you.”
Vera bowed his head.
“Thank you. You’ve helped me realize something.”
It wasn’t perfect. At that moment, the foolish and inadequate Vera had chosen to face Galatea alone. As a result, there were people who were worried about him.
However, something had changed.
Vera was now a person who could figure out what he could do.
He had come to understand what it meant to protect.
He had gained confidence that he could be a better person.
He would no longer repeat the same mistakes. And even if it happened again, he wouldn’t be alone then.
Vera, who was reflecting on his resolution with his head lowered, uttered an apology.
“…And I apologize.”
“What do you mean?”
It was an apology for shattering the Demon Sword that he borrowed to confront Galatea.
Dovan chuckled at Vera’s best efforts to come over and apologize, then shook his head.
“I don’t see what the big deal is with that piece of iron. I’m relieved enough that Sir Vera has come to a realization.”
Dovan, who had been speaking, added the following to Vera’s still lowered head.
“Raise your head. I’d like to thank you, too.”
Dovan’s lips curled, and a smile crept up his face. It was a smile that could only be described as relief.
When Vera, who had raised his head, tilted his head at that expression, Dovan continued talking with a wide smile.
“It was an unfinished sword, and I know it best myself. I had no ‘intent’ to put in that sword, and probably wouldn’t be able to complete it in my lifetime.”
It was ultimately regret that had made him hold on to that sword.
It was a realization that only dawned upon him after he heard that the sword was broken.
“Thank you. For helping me get rid of my regret.”
Dovan had his regret removed before his eyes. Moreover, he felt grateful to Vera for showing him the ‘intent’ he truly wanted to embody, instead of just regret.
“Sir Vera, can you wait a few days?”
“…What do you mean?”
Dovan’s eyes turned to the Froden, which had been placed on the anvil.
“I think I can complete it.”
He realized the ‘intent’ he truly wanted to put into the sword. He felt like he could finally accomplish his lifelong dream.
Dovan gave a small smile as he saw the Froden’s cold blade.
“I will present you with my greatest sword.”
The words were spoken with a firm conviction, and no hint of hesitation.
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