It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (84/110), enjoy~
Chapter 2 – Holding Hope And Sunk In Sorrow
A bloody world.
A hell where everything in sight is dyed red, and only the sound of screams of grief reverberates.
A brutal landscape where people are slaughtered in the relentless rain.
Whether or not to feel sympathy for them is questionable. Because it was a battlefield overrun by evil spirits of rivers and mountains.
Kill or be killed.
If you pity them, you will become a wreck, and the only thing that can prevent disaster is your own strength.
She understands that this is not a world where a weak heart can survive.
Yes ― Liz understood.
“What… where is… Ugh?”
A sudden, intense pain struck her as if she had been hit in the head with a hammer.
It was at this point that Liz realized something was wrong. It was raining, but strangely enough, there was no mud splashing around and not a single sound.
In a strange thought, she saw that the “Flame Emperor” at her waist was glowing with a blue flame.
“Again… are you the one who brought me here?”
This is where her brain tried to make sense of it all.
But no matter how many questions Liz asked, the Flame Emperor would not answer any of them. The only thing it wanted to do was to burn this cruel world in her eyes, and it let out a violent burst of blue flame.
When she turned her gaze upward in surprise…
A familiar young man was standing in front of Liz.
He turned his face up to the dark sky and accepted the torrential rain like a penitent. Liz’s chest tightened with grief as she watched him try to cover up the tears flowing down his face.
The young man lowered his face to look at her, perhaps because she had called his name.
The moment she saw those black eyes, Liz felt a chill of fear run down her spine.
There was nothing in the reflection. There was nothing there. There was no scene, no atmosphere, no emotion, nothing but emptiness in those black eyes.
Hiro comes closer to Liz.
As Liz watched in amazement, the young man drew a black sword from his waist.
“You’re still alive…”
The surprise was short-lived as the deadly blade swung down on Liz. She closed her eyes as quickly as she could, but the pain didn’t get to her.
There was no time to be sure what had happened, and before she could comprehend it, a groan went up behind Liz.
When she opened her eyes and looked back, she saw a purple-skinned person lying on the ground, with the blade of the Black Sword mercilessly piercing his neck.
“Your Majesty Schwartz! Your Majesty Schwartz!”
As if to cancel out the sound of raindrops hitting the ground, a man rushed up to Hiro. As soon as he saw that Hiro was turning around, he dropped to one knee and bowed his head.
“A white flag has… appeared from the enemy’s main camp, indicating a total surrender.”
An icy voice sounded as if a block of ice had been forced down his throat.
“I-I don’t think there’s any point in further engagement… and I think the enemy would like that… so I think we should send a messenger.”
His voice was trembling with fright.
The soldier kept his face down as if he had foreseen what he would say and refused to hear it. However, contrary to expectations, Hiro’s decision was not unexpected.
“Well… let us accept their surrender.”
The brightness returned to the soldier’s face like a clear sky. But then, for a change, his face stiffened and turned pale.
The young man with the thunderstorm on his back looked down at the soldier with a blank expression.
“But that’s a disappointment.”
Hiro turned and began to walk, leaving the dumbfounded soldier to his own devices.
“You can’t see very far when it’s raining like this.”
“…..S-so, what should we do?”
At this point, Hiro stopped.
A few captives are lined up in front of him with both knees on the ground, dressed in chains wrapped around them.
Although she could not see their faces because of the rain, she could guess from their well-endowed physique and skin color that they were demons.
“I didn’t see any white flags, and by the time I realized it, it was too late.”
Liz gasped at the cruel words. Maybe she even forgot to breathe. She couldn’t believe what he had done next.
“You think so too, don’t you?”
Hiro muttered to his captive, and with a flash of lightning, one of the heads fell easily to the ground.
The head, covered in mud, rolled in front of Liz.
Liz’s throat tightened.
She was used to seeing dead bodies. It’s not surprising since she’s been through many battlefields. But the situation that was created before her eyes was beyond her common sense.
This is because the head that was distorted in agony was missing both eyes, and there were traces of gouging on the forehead where the “magic stone” would have been. There were countless scars on the headless torso, so there was no doubt that he had been tortured. She wondered how much anger it took to inflict such cruelty and held her mouth to keep from throwing up.
“If you don’t want to die, tell me where he is.”
Ruthlessly, with an emotionless expression on his face, he cut off the head with a brutal maneuver.
“Please… please, tell me where he is.”
How many times has he shed tears? How many times has his heart been broken? How many times does he have to repeat his mistakes before crying and laughing like an ordinary boy?
Even if she desperately tried to reach him, she could not reach him. Even though she grasped the illusion, she couldn’t hold the young man’s thoughts in her hands.
The only thing that came out of Liz’s throat was an inarticulate voice.
“At first, it was painful… I couldn’t accept the reality that I had killed someone, and I couldn’t sleep for days.”
The young man wipes the blood from his cheeks and laughs.
“But there comes a time when you realize that no matter how many beautiful things you say, there is no right or wrong on the battlefield.”
There was no sense of killing. There was no sign of any intent to kill. But he swung his merciless sword down on the captives.
“When you lose someone you care about, you understand. You don’t hesitate to kill people.”
Liz doesn’t want to see this. She didn’t want to see the young man like this.
But that doesn’t mean the cruel scene will disappear if she closes her eyes. Even if she covered her ears, the persistent sound would not cease.
There is nothing that she can do to stop him. This is a past event, a fact that is over.
“So, I abandoned justice.”
A heart-rending passion poured into the scene. A chest-bursting explosion was raging inside her body.
She was about to be crushed by the grief that would burst her brain and the hatred that she could not bear.
At that moment――
“There are beautiful parts and ugly parts to war.”
――The scenery changes drastically.
The sky cracked as if the glass shattered, emitting a snow-like glitter. Ripples flowed across the ground, swelling rapidly and shattering the ground as if it were about to burst.
Humans, plants, animals, and all living things were mercilessly torn to pieces.
The world disappears.
And all that was left was white.
――It was a dazzling light that filled the empty space.
Liz was looking ahead with her red eyes.
“What do you think you’re going to do when you see the ugly part, little girl?”
There was no need to look for the owner of the voice. The overwhelming presence was right in front of her.
A chair decorated with gold and silver work ― a one-of-a-kind throne decorated with jewels gathered from all over the world. However, she did not know who was sitting on it.
For despite the white world, the face was mysteriously shrouded in shadow.
“Answer me, little girl.”
The voice sounded strange, with the deep charm of an old man and the latent courage of a man of mature years. The intimidation emanating from the thin body was full of the heroism of a young man and the youthfulness of a boy. She instantly understood that this was no ordinary person.
“Disillusioned? Desperate? Rage?”
Liz had a blinding shadow on her face at the incomprehensible situation. Her brain couldn’t keep up. Yet, for some reason, the words naturally poured out of her mouth.
“I was sad.”
Liz touched her lips with her fingertips and was surprised at the words that flowed out naturally. But before she had time to calm down, the person appeared in front of her and asked her a question.
“Why is that?”
“I don’t know… I don’t know, but… But I wanted to help him.”
“Fuh, fufufu, I see… you want to help… That’s a strange answer.”
“It looked really painful… but there was nothing I could do.”
Liz’s lips tightened in frustration.
“Hiro… looked so painful… but I…”
Hiro’s face was coated with terrible grief. He was trying hard to keep the tears out of his eyes, And Liz couldn’t say a kind word or offer any comfort.
She didn’t know how he felt when he made that decision.
But she knew that it was not the answer that Hiro wanted from the bottom of his heart.
“It was an irresistible instinct of a living being. We act out of fear of loss. The fear of regret causes us to act abnormally. Fear easily overrides reason’s appeal for restraint.”
The man spun his words without hesitation, but then he sighed as if in sorrow.
“Humans are greedy creatures. We pursue big ideals, and when we don’t get them, we break our hearts — the bigger the difference, the more pronounced the swing. Therefore, we live by supporting each other. However, those who do not get support quickly fall apart.”
If that’s the result, how much loneliness has he suffered?
“There was nothing I could do. Neither to save nor to heal, only to hunt him down.”
He held up his index finger.
“But there was one thing left to hope for.”
“It’s no accident that you ended up here, little girl.”
He then pointed his index finger upwards.
Liz looked up and saw a large gate floating above her.
It’s not as flashy as it sounds, and aside from the intricately carved patterns, it’s far from gorgeous. In a word, it was plain ― a circular wooden gate with no ornamentation whatsoever.
However, the unique atmosphere of the gate overwhelmed the viewers like a beautiful landscape.
“Be prepared for the coming ‘turning point’.”
“A turning point?”
Liz felt the weight of the words and felt her tongue dry up from nervousness.
Then, an intense, piercing gaze shot out, and her body stiffened.
“If you seek justice, if you hold up an ideal, keep a strong heart.”
Liz couldn’t understand the meaning of the words with her current knowledge. Or maybe she didn’t even need to understand.
The man in front of her didn’t seem to have any expectations.
“I leave everything to you.”
A moment later, the sky screamed.
Liz looked up and was astonished.
The door opened wide and fell down. There was a roaring sound as it came towards the ground, raising an unidentifiable dust cloud.
Liz quickly closed her eyes and crossed her arms above her head. A gust of wind blew wildly through her hair, blowing past her toward the ground.
But that’s all ― the impact didn’t come for any length of time.
Liz, who had untied her arms in doubt, opened her eyes fearfully.
“Liz-dono, are you okay?”
It was not a door that suddenly appeared but a human face.
A familiar woman ― the memory linked her form and name together on its own.
“Ah, yes, but… did I startle you?”
Skaaha pulled away from Liz apologetically, and the bunk creaked noisily in response.
Liz shook her head as if to deny her words, then raised her upper body.
“Aura was here too…”
Aura’s figure could be seen over Skaaha’s shoulder. Her petite body rested on a chair against the wall, her posture open, perhaps because she was reading a book.
Liz sighed ― not from relief, but with a lot of regrets.
She had a lot of questions she wanted to ask the man who had appeared in her dream.
Seeing Liz’s disappointment, Skaaha calls out to her in confusion.
“I thought you were having a nightmare, but suddenly what happened? Did you have a bad dream?”
“No, it was a sad dream.”
She could have sworn it was.
Liz hugged herself, feeling a pain that would tear her body apart if she remembered the contents of the dream.
At that moment ― the door of the room made a noise.
The three people in the room turned their sharp gazes toward the entrance, their faces tense with alarm.
A few moments later, the door separating the corridor from the bedroom opened, and a chilly breeze came in from the corridor.
It was Liz’s sister who appeared.
“Yeah….. I’m back now.”
Rosa, who was usually full of confidence, was dejected to the point that it was obvious she was discouraged. In addition, her hair and skin tone looked a little dull, as if she had lost all her energy. The people in the room were surprised to see Rosa in such a state of disarray.
“…Rosa-Aneesama? What’s wrong?”
“Liz, I’m sorry!”
As soon as she said that, Rosa kneeled on the floor and lowered her head.
“W-wait a minute, Rosa-Aneesama… I don’t understand what you mean.”
Liz hurriedly tried to rush to her sister, but perhaps because she suddenly got up, her body lost its balance, and she almost fell.
However, Skaaha quickly lent a hand and helped her out.
“Don’t try to move suddenly. It hasn’t been long since you woke up, you know.”
Liz approaches her sister after thanking the dumbfounded Skaaha. However, Rosa kept her head down and wouldn’t look up at all.
“I wouldn’t know what to do if you kept your head down, Aneesama. Can you explain it to me?”
Rosa, who had straightened up on the spot, opened her mouth regretfully.
She reported that she was at the mercy of the head of the Muzuk family in the war council, that she had been manipulated in the war council according to the wishes of the other party because she had been slow to switch tactics, and that she would not be able to accompany them in this war.
“He is a much more clever person than I thought. No, it is the result of my carelessness… Damn, it is a blunder that I regret no matter how much I repent. It’s too cruel to be beaten at will under such circumstances.”
As Rosa slammed her fist on the floor, a silver cup was thrust out from the side.
“Drink some water and calm down a bit.”
“A-ah… I’m sorry.”
After receiving the water from Aura, Rosa drank it all down and licked her damp lips.
“Liz… I’ve been beaten up pretty badly, so I’d say, be careful with him.”
“You are not going to keep quiet about this, are you, Rosa-dono?”
When Skaaha asked that, Rosa nodded with an exhausted face.
“Of course. I’ve managed to find a few ways out of this. While he’s on the battlefield, I’ll be saving my strength. I’ll make sure he regrets using me.”
“Yes. That’s my sister. But maybe you should get some rest.”
Rosa is also mentally exhausted from the loss of Hiro.
It can be seen at a glance on the face that reflects the dark fatigue and the swollen eyelids that are hidden by makeup.
Liz understood this painfully and reached out to her sister to help her.
“Aneesama, let’s get some rest first. I was asleep until a while ago, so I don’t know what to say.”
Rosa looked at Liz, who made a joke with a wry smile on her face and made a dumbfounded face. Then, after a short pause, she let out a breath of relief and took her sister’s hand.
“It seems to be a relief for the moment…”
Rosa muttered and stood up as Liz pulled her along.
“Liz, it has been decided that the departure will be in two days.”
After patting her sister’s head, who nodded curiously, Rosa told her in a grave tone.
“Depending on Her Majesty Queen Claudia’s letter, there could be a change in plan. The letter should arrive tomorrow, so Liz should get some rest while you can.”
With that, Rosa jumped into the bed where Liz had been sleeping.
As Rosa immediately began to sleep, Liz looked at Skaaha and smiled bitterly.
“…..I have to work hard too.”
Turning her gentle gaze to her sister once again, Liz took a series of deep breaths in an attempt to renew her mind.
It’s not just herself and Rosa who are suffering.
Aura and Skaaha also have the same pain in their hearts. And yet, they were doing their best to keep their heads calm and do their best. At a time like this, if she were to become depressed, their efforts would be for naught.
It wasn’t as if they had confirmed Hiro’s body.
(It’s not a definite thing yet. Maybe… he is still alive and safe.)
Liz decided to believe that Hiro was still alive. Even so, the mere thought of him brought tears to her eyes. But crying and screaming are not going to make things better.
(I can’t let what Hiro left me to go to waste.)
She clutched her hands tightly and decided to look forward for now.
Skaaha tapped her on the shoulder and told her so.
“It will be fine… It will be fine.”
She would not believe it until she saw it with her own eyes. She nodded again and again, rubbing the corners of her eyes.