Huge thanks to Ginsan for the kofis! (3/8)
One Blood, One Wish, One Magic (3)
As Rosen turned around, clearing away the traces that she had scoured his cabin, she brushed aside the guilt that was entrenched in her. She struggled to comfort herself.
‘I’m not gonna hurt him.’
‘I’m not the only one for Ian Kerner. He didn’t just save me. He saved so many important and innocent people. They’ll stay by Ian’s side. When his interest fades with time, he will be freed from the shackles of being a hero and will find people who truly love him.’
‘Then he will be fine. Everything will get better. The cruel war is over. He will be assigned a stable position and move forward, marrying a suitable woman and having a baby… He will be able to lead a normal and happy life.’
‘That will heal him. He will remember the witch of Al Capez, not Rosen Walker.’
We each have to do what we have to do, as we have always done. She still didn’t know who would win in the end, but she had no intention of losing to him. She had to win.
-I love you, Ian Kerner.
Of course, that confession was not a lie. Really, she liked him. She loved him even though she knew it was useless. But to put it the other way around, that was all she really meant.
In other words, that was her sincerity.
She didn’t have to choose him because she liked him.
Just like Ian Kerner didn’t need to release her just because he pitied her.
The sleeping powder Ian Kerner had was now safely stored inside her dress.
Rosen walked out of the cabin and stared out over the dark blue sea. She would likely die in that sea. But that did not matter. She would leave this ship tomorrow night. She would either succeed or fail.
Because her engine hadn’t stopped chugging yet.
‘I won’t lose.’
Rosen Walker ran, and the hem of her blue dress fluttered.
Rosen’s statement that she wasn’t drunk may have been true. She ran without faltering as soon as she was told to go. Ian Kerner stared at the receding figure as it ran away from him.
Soon after, his cabin door opened and closed again.
Only then did he realize what he had done. He had just done something he shouldn’t have explicitly. He sent an escaped prisoner alone into his cabin. It wasn’t common sense. It was an act that could not be excused if someone found out.
Of course, Rosen couldn’t escape even if she found the lifeboat key. The Black Sea was infested with demons, and some of the sailors had guns. And the ship was full of passengers. He wasn’t the only one who could monitor Rosen.
Even if she succeeded in stealing the lifeboat, she would not be able to go far and would be caught. Either by the beasts or before then.
But in that moment, Ian wanted to do something meaningless. He had watched Rosen’s running figure and was relieved. So, as soon as he received the order to transport Rosen Walker, he lost his temper and rushed into the minister’s office.
-It’s something you have to do personally.
-Leoarton only blames Ian Kerner. Whether it was unavoidable or not, we must take responsibility for their hearts.
He then raised his head for the first time and asked the minister who was giving him orders.
-Do you mean putting the blame on innocent people for what I did?
-Is Rosen Walker innocent?
-…She has nothing to do with this.
-It’s what the public wants. They need you to be flawless, and they want revenge on the witch. Their wounds should be properly healed. If you show the world that you’re transporting prisoners to Monte Island, both will happen at the same time.
-It was your job throughout the war to sacrifice a few for the many. That’s the nature of the war. You’ve never made a bad choice because you’ve been overwhelmed by emotion. I don’t understand why you’re dissatisfied now.
Ian did not respond. He followed inhumane orders from the Empire throughout the war. As he carried out reckless operations, he threw a squadron of young students into the sea and shot down numerous enemy aircraft. Even though he knew more deeply than anyone else that humans with blood and tears were in the enemy planes.
He did it because he needed to. He chose it because he believed it was right. It was better for four hundred to die than four thousand.
The minister’s argument was plausible. The state was an organization that was good at calculating profit and loss. If the death of Rosen would benefit all of Leoarton, the government would sacrifice Rosen, even by creating false charges.
He was an accessory to such a state throughout the war, and he was already accustomed to their ways. Then why was he hesitating? After all, the Empire was a country that was protected by sacrificing innocent people. Why was he pretending to be an innocent hero who ended the war without a single sacrifice?
Ian Kerner shook his head. Fireworks were still exploding in the sky, but he no longer trembled. Rosen’s voice rang in his ears, obscuring the sound of firecrackers. Reaching out in the air in search of the warmth that had already disappeared, he thought of the prisoner who gently embraced him.
She was a prisoner whom everyone called a liar. But the Rosen Walker he met in person was overly candid.
-Ian Kerner, you know? Just because you couldn’t keep it… Not all of your promises were lies. You were always sincere.
‘What kind of prisoner comforts a prison guard? Why don’t you hide your inner feelings? Without fear…’
In fact, he knew why Rosen was clinging to him. She thought it was meaningless, so she was going to show off to her heart’s content. Because Rosen firmly believed her words wouldn’t affect him in any way.
It would have been better if they were comfortable with each other.
He thought of Rosen, who had collapsed and vomited blood. Rosen’s eyes were sparkling with joy even as she struggled in pain. Even though Rosen said she wouldn’t die, there was only one conclusion he reached. Su*cide on board was Rosen’s last plan.
In a way, it might be a wise choice. No one in the world could touch a dead man.
-So just let me help you. Just once. You don’t want to admit it, but I’m one of the people you saved.
Ian clenched his teeth.
She did something rash. If she wanted to kill herself and rebel against the Empire for the last time, she shouldn’t have helped him. She should have yelled and slapped him when he hugged her. She kept touching him and trying to hug him, but… It would have been more helpful to her plan if she didn’t. Contrary to what she thought.
‘The more I do that, the harder it becomes to let you die. No, I haven’t been able to look at you coldly for a long time now.’
‘If I could turn back time, I would have refused the order to transport you at any cost.’
‘I’ve made too many choices in the meantime. I thought it would be nice if you could stay and comfort me. Really, I didn’t want to drag you into this.’
Ian got up and stared out over the Black Sea.
‘If you get on a lifeboat safely, what are your chances of crossing this sea? Can you get to land safely?’
It was impossible.
He was astonished at himself trying to estimate the odds in his head as if he had escaped from prison. But it was already too late. It was no use pretending to repent now.
To determine where things went wrong, he had to go back to the distant past.
If he traced back his memory, he could easily find the moment when he first met Rosen Walker. The day he came to see the ruins of Leoarton in person after shaking off the people who tried to stop him.
When he looked up after banging his head on the viewing platform’s railing, the first thing that caught his eye was Rosen Walker’s face. Someone had pasted a newspaper on a ruin wall.
[The escaped prisoner who crawled out of the ruins, the witch who escaped from Perrinne!]
The Imperial newspaper had Rosen’s face plastered on the front page in order to draw in readers. It must have been meant for spitting and throwing stones.
But Ian Kerner failed to do so. He reached out like he was possessed and gently stroked Rosen Walker’s face, who was nothing more than a printed figure. There was only one thought that came to mind at the moment.
Everyone said that Rosen was a witch. A murderer, a prisoner, and a woman who angered the entire Empire. He knew it too.
However, even though he thought it was nonsense, he lived with a picture of Rosen in his arms ever since. He secretly took it out every time he suffered, until the edges of the newspaper were ragged. He even put it in a pendant because he was afraid it would wear out.
Like Rosen Walker was his family or his lover.
[T/N: My heart-]
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