Thank you for the kofi, Caca! <3
“Hey, it’s f*cking real. This really works, doesn’t it?”
“A good harvest for the first time in a while. Let’s see… wow, isn’t that a Griffin?”
“We’ll get more Griffins later. But what’s that thing with it?”
The noise definitely belonged to humans.
Rough, loud voices that were harsh to the ear. I didn’t feel good. The calm sensation in my heart faded away, and it began to beat fast.
“What… Wait, isn’t that a woman in the corner? A human woman?”
“A banshee, she must have transformed. Oh, but banshees bring bad luck… “
“That’s because someone dies when that b*tch cries, you idiot. You’re just pretending to be smart at the end of the day.”
Without any hesitation, the people who came into the cave chatted with excitement.
Two men and one woman. They were all very suspicious, armed with odd-shaped equipment, and as excited as hunters who discovered wonderful game, rather than being frightened by the sight of Popo and Griffin.
I had a feeling I knew what they were– Poachers.
I had heard of poachers, who illegally hunt and collect monster cores by purchasing relics in the black market. They seemed to have been led into the forest after detecting magic with the relic they had.
“Hey, that’s a shame. Banshees are supposed to be dirty old witches, but this one is a beauty…”
“Let’s get this over with. I saw earlier that there were paladins all over the place, and if we get caught, we’re really screwed.”
I didn’t move a muscle. I hardly breathed. Popo and Griffin were strangely still.
The man holding a light blue shining sword approached Popo as if he was amazed. Popo’s mouth was tightly closed, hiding its teeth.
“I don’t think they’re coming here. The legend said that a giant lizard cub was asleep here… but what the f*ck is this? Rabbit or raccoon? What was the name of this thing? It looks so stupid.”
“Hey, let’s get this one first. The monster is pretending to be a human being.” The flaming red-haired woman gestured toward me.
At that moment, a man who was scratching his stomach turned toward me, smacking his lips.
“Ku, ku, ku, ku…”
Griffin let out a sound of laughter. To be exact, it was more of a low, bizarre cry, but to my ears, it sounded like a laugh. And… Popo opened its mouth. Popo’s wide-open mouth enlarged throughout its huge body, revealing a space full of eerily beautiful sharp teeth and skeletons.
I didn’t make any noise until the end.
The sky seemed to be getting darker and darker, and the heavy rain began to pour. The sky-high trees didn’t help much either.
Someone put out a cigarette of leaves. Izek shook his head as a gesture of rejection and looked at Durahan’s corpse at his feet. It was the monster he’d caught a while ago. Only the remaining monster core and the severed head rolled around at his feet.
Why did they only leave behind their heads?
His silver hair quickly got wet. He looked around, sweeping back his wet hair that kept blocking his view. Everyone seemed tired of the three-day search, but it was strange that none of them were talking.
“I think it’s a no-go here, too.” Ivan, who almost kicked the Durahan’s head, muttered in a low voice.
Izek did not reply. He had been hearing it for three days.
“You know what, Iz.”
Ivan rarely used Izek’s nickname. Except when he was desperate or something was missing. Izek turned his back because he knew what he was going to say. Ivan shrugged at his friend’s broad, stubborn back.
It’d already been three days. They had been searching the forest area for three days.
It didn’t make sense to search this place, where only monsters lurked, but Elendale’s efforts, including the City Guards, the Knights of Longinus and the Round Table Knights, were concentrated here after the missing lady’s shoes were found.
It was fortunate that the people who were usually crazy about fighting were working together without making noise for a long time, but so far, no progress has been made.
At this point, they should seriously consider the hypothesis that the madman who kidnapped Rudbeckia, intentionally threw a shoe over there to lead them off track.
In a way, it was a more promising option.
If Rudbeckia had indeed been dragged into this area, by now… no one had the courage to say it.
Instead of looking back, Izek stared at the Durahan’s head.
He didn’t know why he kept looking at it. Something as ominous as a severed head…
“It’s already been three days, Iz.”
“It’s been four days.”
There was silence.
In the pouring rain, Ivan dropped his head. Because he suddenly felt miserable. It was the same for Izek, who said this. It was around dawn three days ago when he found the shoe, but it was around four days ago that Rudbeckia disappeared.
It wasn’t until much later that he found out.
Half a day after Ellenia had sent a message to Izek.
That is, no one knew until then that something had happened to Rudbeckia.
It didn’t make sense.
It was impossible that no one knew about her disappearance for nearly a day, who required servants for even a single move.
Nevertheless, that had happened.
Who should he blame? Who should he kick?
The temple that invited her in the first place? She had been hanging around all day. The coachman and the escort who returned without a word?
The guards who stayed still when they found out she hadn’t returned home? The Duke who was in the manor all day long?
Ellenia who returned home in the evening after visiting Freya, and received no report until she went to bed?
Izek rubbed his face wet with rainwater roughly with the back of his hand.
In the end, he was the only one to blame.
Ellenia burst into tears, saying that it was all her fault, but it was never her fault. His foolishness, him not knowing how Rudbeckia was being treated in his house when he was absent, came backstabbing like a sword. The majority of Omerta’s servants were old and loyal.
In particular, the chief maid who was close to a mother for Ellenia.
He hadn’t quite figured out how harsh they could be on the ‘intruder’.
When the inside story of what happened on the day of his birthday party was revealed, because the maid was forty years old, Ellenia covered for her. He thought that was the root of it all anyway, so he just let it go.
He shouldn’t have done that.
From the beginning, if Rudbeckia had made it clear since the first day she was here, he should have checked the matter again.
Both of them foolishly thought it would just get better.
It felt like the severed Durahan’s head was laughing at him.
Even if he was laughed at by a dead man, he had nothing to say. He had nothing to say even if it laughed at him for being just like his father.
It was just a ridiculous self-deception when he tried so hard to deny marriage because he thought it would turn out like this.
Dark eyes glistened again.
To be exact, her wife’s last appearance.
Her dull eyes and her pale face.
Rudbeckia, who had never had such eyes.
When she was abandoned in the banquet hall, when she didn’t collapse right away even with a high fever, when she talked about something confusing in the stables, crying and begging not to let her go, when she quit urging him on their night together…
The severed Durahan head’s mouth moved, showing a gruesome smile. Of course, it was just an illusion.
Was he hallucinating now? It was possible because he didn’t sleep for nearly seven days. He knew what Ivan was trying to say, and what his companions were not able to say out loud.
It was unlikely that Rudbeckia would be alive somewhere in this forest.
Nevertheless, Izek couldn’t just ask them to stop searching.
Although it wasn’t a sure possibility, he had no choice but to hang on desperately. The monster that broke into the bedroom on the first night. The water monster that appeared in the Pond of Angvan Palace. When she went while riding a horse at the horse riding party. When she came back in such a safe way.
Sergei’s testimony- Even if she was the Pope’s daughter, her divinity was lesser than ordinary people.
Things that he had not been able to look into properly because he was thrown aback with other emotions were coming together, causing this bad feeling, you could call it a sense. He didn’t know what it was, but he couldn’t leave without finding out.
He remembered his mother.
His mother had left this world too early. It was funny that he had no choice but to pray to his mother, whose face now glowed faintly in his mind.
If he could never see her again like this, if he could never find her again, if her tears, smile, and sparkling hair would disappear forever, he would…… his head grew dizzy. Countless afterimages were clouding his view.
Her skinny body that had always been hidden in a dress. the scar on her back, her bright eyes, as blue as the clear sky, always looking around…she always smiled even when it seemed that she was about to break down into tears.
A woman who trembled like a rabbit, yet kept grinning.
All the things he couldn’t ask. The things he couldn’t say.
Would something have changed if he had told her earlier what her actions meant for him? All of those things that he didn’t wish to hurt her, caused her pain.
And when he realized it was too late, he turned away because he wanted to care too much…
A dark red-haired Paladin came his way.
T/N: I guess I’m happy he regrets it… :”)