Chapter 1 Part 1
“Even if you hate me, I can’t help it.”
Kwanach said with red bloodshot eyes. His voice was strong, as if he would never bend his will.
My heart pounded in my chest. I said, trembling.
“Kwanach, that’s not true….”
“I will do anything if I can keep you safe.”
It was as if there was a solid wall between us. It seemed useless in saying anything to Kwanach now. He seemed to have already made up his mind to walk alone.
I understood how Kwanach felt. He must be worried because I almost died. It was a rather understandable feeling, and I was even more at a loss for words.
Still, I couldn’t accept him locking me in here.
“Even if I say no? Even if I don’t want to?”
I tried to speak in a tearful voice, but I couldn’t get through to the already twisted Kwanach.
“I’ve already prepared myself to be hated by you.”
Kwanach stood up. A pitch black shadow covered me as his huge body stood before me.
His jaws tightened and he collected his emotions. The water in his eyes dried up.
Eventually, he said in a dry, firm voice.
“It’s very dangerous out there. Please stay in the Imperial Palace until the problem is resolved.”
It was a flattering apology. Kwanach left the room.
The door closed, and I was left alone in the room.
I was out of breath. I wrapped my knees with the palms of my hands. Kwanach’s hot body heat was still clinging to my skin.
My mind was a mess. If I lived trapped here like this, my life would be no different from my previous life.
But ……what should I do?
Will I be able to convince Kwanach?
Kwanach was in a rage. It seemed last year that he regained his cool-headed reason. I thought of Kwanach’s eyes, which were watery with anxiety and madness.
Unlike my previous life, I knew that Kwanach cared about me and tried to lock me up because he was worried for my safety, but…
From outward appearances, this was a glamorous and comfortable prison. Kwanach was a friendly shackle.
* * *
Days passed more after I spent some time locked up only in my room. A lot has changed since I came back from the poisoning crisis.
Kwanach had changed completely. The people around me treated me with more care.
Other changes have come at night time, unconsciously.
I heard that voice constantly in my dreams. It was the voice I heard when I was wandering around the border of death after being poisoned.
The surrounding area was all blackness with no sense of direction. In the infinite emptiness a low voice called out to me and so on.
I didn’t know who it was. And so the same dream repeated itself for several days.
On the third day, I decided to follow the voice and move my feet aimlessly. Gradually, the darkness ahead of me cleared and I saw a dim shape.
“A birch tree….”
There was no way I couldn’t recognize it. It was the tree I was tied to for several years after my death in my previous life.
It was the only tree I could talk to.
“What does this mean?”
While I was flustered, the scenery changed in a flash. The darkness cleared and a familiar scene unfolded in front of me.
It was really there.
That was where I was assassinated.
Along the road where I had to be helplessly held captive as a ghost.
Suddenly, a chill blew through my body. I rushed to touch my body. I was wearing the same shabby wedding dress I had worn when I died in my previous life.
All of this was so vivid that the previous life I had ended felt as far away as a dream.
‘No, I’m definitely asleep. This is a dream. It’s a dream….’
But maybe there was a sudden time reversal, as if I had suddenly returned to my childhood days from my previous life. If it happened once, could it happen twice?
A horrible headache shook my head.
I called out to the birch tree in a panic.
“What is the meaning of this? I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know why I’m here. Kwa, Kwanach is ……?”
I instinctively thought of Kwanach. Immediately a familiar voice of the tree rang out.
<Kwanach is on the battlefield. You know that. They say he is rampaging like a madman. >
By the side of the road next to the tree, there was a parade of Northern Allied forces. Everyone seemed exhausted from the old war. The soldiers smelled of depression and pain.
At that moment, a knight suddenly rushed from behind and shouted,
“Tell the 2nd Battalion, Prince Jenner….!”
Jenner, my brother. It was announcing Jenner’s death.
Jenner was fifteen years old when he entered the war and died. Everything that I had witnessed in my previous life was happening in front of my eyes once again.
“No, it’s not… …… This can’t be.”
<Usphere, what’s wrong? >
“I shouldn’t be here. I’ve certainly got another chance. So I met Kwanach again, and even married him to prevent war……”
“What are you talking about? You must have had a dream. A very long dream. >
The tree had a point. I might have had a long dream, wishing intensely to leave this place.
The kind words I exchanged with Kwanach, his warmth, his love….
As soon as I realized that it was all just my imagination, I started to cry. I was in a situation where I had fought with Kwanach just before.
<If we wait here, won’t we be able to dream the same dream again?>
I was still tied to the tree as I did in my previous life, contemplating the words of the tree in a daze. In fear that everything might have been my delusion.
Time seemed to be moving very fast. Before I knew it, I couldn’t see the soldiers on the street. It changed from day to night. I wondered how many days had passed since then.
One day, I was terrified that all of this in the second life was just my imagination. Suddenly, a little girl appeared from the side of the road. How could a child be walking alone in the middle of a war? I looked at the child in surprise.
Her clothes seemed to be tattered, and her long hair was scattered about. Her bare feet were covered in blood.
I wanted to save the child immediately, but I was a ghost tied to a tree. The child would never be able to see me or touch me.
It was a time when the helplessness I had experienced countless times in my previous life took hold of me. The girl looked at exactly where I was.
“Please help me …….”
The child spoke up, albeit faintly.
“Can you see me?”
The child nodded briefly and then fell down, as if she had run out of strength. I quickly tried to run to the child, but the tree voice stopped me.
<Usphere. You know. You can’t get out of here.>
“Hey, I might be able to get out to the side of the road.”
<It would be better if you didn’t. >
“But the kid saw me. I’ve never seen anything like this before. I want to do something to help her.”
I came down from the tree. The wedding dress I wore when I died was dragged on the floor.
I walked towards the child step by step. The further I got from the birch, the heavier my legs became and the tighter my chest became.
I had tried countless times to get out of the tree in my previous life. Each time I failed. Some unknown intangible force held me down.
I groaned and looked towards where the child had fallen.
It was strange to feel pain while being an insubstantial ghost, after all, all this pain was meant to be my illusion. That’s why I can get through it. I stepped forward, vowing to myself.
“I can get out of this. I won’t be tied down. It’s okay. I can do it.”
The further I got from the tree and the closer I got from the child, the more intense the pain became. So much so that my fingertips began to fade.
The branches of the tree swayed behind me. It was as if it was trying to warn me and hold me back.
My body became more and more transparent. But I didn’t stop. Eventually, I reached the child.
Suddenly, the area was inadvertently enveloped in darkness. The birch tree and the child had completely disappeared.
In the darkness, a voice I had heard before called out to me.
<Usphere, I believe in your goodness and strength. >
Strangely, I instinctively recognized the owner of the voice.
It was the Master of this world, Goddess Fahar.
<I have lost my blessing. I had no energy left to give the power of fate to those who were born with it. >
The Goddess’s voice stirred in my head.
<I am the one who exists as believing. It is not something that dwells in a place where trust has faded. But my sister has shared her power with you, and you have reclaimed your destiny for yourself. >
Speaking of the Goddess’s sister, she was referring to the Silver Forest. Her sister, who was half human, was sleeping there.
<I will send you the last remaining strength I have. Protect me.>
With that, the voice of the Goddess was faintly heard. Then I woke up.
I finally lifted my heavy eyelids. I woke up from my sleep, still dazed as ever.
Maybe it was because I had been in the dream for a few days too long. At first I felt terrified, as if I had been thrown into a strange place. Eventually, I came to my senses and quickly realized it.
“It was all a dream…….”
I was back again. This was the reality with Kwanach and my second life.
My whole body tingled, but it wasn’t exhaustion. It was more like being pushed by an intangible force.
An instinctive feeling of awe, intimidation, fear….
Was it really the Goddess? But I was not a priest, so how could I hear the voice of the Goddess?
Or perhaps it was just an empty dream created by my anxiety. But the voice in the dream was still fresh in my ears, as if it had whispered beside me. It was as if I was face to face with the Goddess.
It was ridiculous. To think that the Goddess had called me was in itself a kind of disrespect.
But at a time when the waters of the river were polluted and the blessings of the Goddess were fading more and more on the human continent, there was an arrogant but worrying speculation that the Goddess might indeed have come to my aid.
What does it mean to regain my destiny? Was this dream like a test planned by the Goddess?
Now there was a lot I didn’t understand. It was only natural that I, a mere mortal, could not guess what the will of God.
“There are so many things I don’t know about the Goddess.”
First, I asked Marianne to bring me as many books on Goddess Fahar from the library as she could.
No one should be unfamiliar with the mythology of the Goddess, who was said to be the creator of this world. Even a young child knew the myth. However, I had never studied theology properly, so I did not know the technical details.
I prayed that the books would bring me some useful knowledge as always.
* * *
While I was trapped for a few days, I spent my time reading myths and tales about Goddess Fahar, the Goddess of Creation.
But nowhere did the goddess repeatedly come to me in my dreams. And there was nothing about the child in a dream.
Only in the memoirs of many of the heroes of the turbulent times, there were passages claiming that they were chosen by the Goddess.
‘That’s the way it is. That’s the story that all heroes and royalty tell to the people.’
It was difficult to discern the truth. The Pernen family, the previous dynasty of the land, was also famous for having its founder blessed by the Goddess.
After reading a few books, I lost interest and soon felt helpless. No matter how much knowledge I accumulated, there was nothing I could do right away.
If the Goddess’ call was true and not my imagination, what was I supposed to do?
The Goddess asked me to protect her. However, being locked in a room, I could not protect anyone. I didn’t know much about what was going on outside.
It was difficult to keep asking Marianne. Because she had to disobey the Emperor’s orders, which was a burden on her.
Obviously there seemed to be a war outside, but inside the palace, it was peaceful.
Kwanach took time out of his busy schedule to come and see me every day. He only inquired briefly about my well-being and then disappeared.
I wasn’t angry with him, nor was I nice to him as if nothing had happened. I just nodded silently.
With such a dry response, Kwanach looked like he was going to collapse any second.
It was the same today.