I missed you
Looking alternately between his son and Atalante, Orlando growled out a curse.
“This, this villain…!”
Atalante didn’t blink at his words and just gazed steadily at him.
“I don’t think that’s what the commander, who mobilised an entire group of fully armed Garrison officers just to catch a feeble girl, should say.”
“Keuk! Isn’t it a given for us to prepare according to your notoriety?”
“Thank you very much for your high praise.”
Giving a bloodthirsty smile, Atalante nodded her head, like she was asking him to make his choice quickly.
She had a composed expression, but she was definitely at a disadvantage.
‘After confirming that all of the knights with guns have gathered, I’ll just take Archiralph and escape. It’s fine if I abandon him before entering the Black Land.’
Although she felt apologetic towards Archiralph, in exchange for teaching him swordsmanship…she had no choice but to say that.
As Orlando swore in a low voice, he threw the sword onto the floor.
The knights looked at him with puzzled expressions.
Although there were oddly reproachful gazes, there was nothing that he could do when his son was taken hostage.
Just as Atalante was about to order for the officers with guns to gather with a slight smile.
Breaking the silence was the sharp sound of a gunshot.
The shooter was Orlando. Like proof that he has never handled a gun before, his shooting was a mess.
The bullet that grazed her arm didn’t seriously injure Atalante.
However, her grip on Archiralph loosened as she recoiled.
“Archiralph! Come here!”
Even before his father’s words finished, he fled through the gaps between the knights in a roll.
Breathing heavily, Archiralph looked at Atalante with a forlorn gaze, like he couldn’t believe this was happening.
From the way the other officers didn’t take out their guns, it seems that the only person here with a gun was the commander, Orlando.
Did you think that you’re the only ones in possession of guns?
Skillfully pulling out a pistol hidden beside her thigh, Atalante aimed at Orlando’s head with a perfect stance.
“Throw away your weapons, everyone. If you don’t want your commander to die.”
“I–I also have a gun…!”
“The feather on your hat.”
Uttering a sentence out of nowhere, Atalante casually pulled the trigger.
The bullet shot by her accurately caught the thin feather on Orlando’s hat and embedded it in a tree.
Only then did the knights understand Atalante’s words, and looked at the small villain with ghastly pale faces.
“Next will be Commander Orlando’s head.”
Aiming accurately at his head, Atalante looked at the knights with a fierce gaze.
Although they both had guns, there was too much difference between their skills.
Even if Orlando was lucky enough to shoot and kill Atalante, it was clear that their commander would definitely lose his life too.
“Throw away your weapons and call all the knights with guns to gather here. Right now.”
Atalante fiddled with the trigger threateningly.
The knights that were turning blue stared at the commander, at a loss of what to do.
Archiralph, who looked particularly bad amongst the knights, looked at her with eyes that were on the verge of tears.
‘How long has it been since we had met, for you to continue calling me teacher, fool.’
Not paying attention to him deliberately, Atalante squinted her eyes at Orlando.
As his lips kept opening and closing, Orlando seems to have made a decision, and his brown eyes gleamed resolutely.
“…It doesn’t matter.”
“Hooh, so you don’t care if you die?”
“If I could kill you, the villain, right here like His Majesty had ordered…!”
“During the next knight evaluation, your son would be recognised for his contribution.”
Atalante and Orlando stayed in place for a while, guns aimed at each other.
Soon after, the end of Orlando’s gun started trembling.
‘It’s a perfect flaw.’
With a hot sigh, Atalante created the face of a perfect villain.
“If dying is your wish, then there’s no choice.”
She felt apologetic to Archiralph, but they were aristocrats… Atalante had to keep her promise to meet her family again.
‘Shoot his hand and destroy the gun, and then the vital point.’
Just as Atalante decided where she was going to aim exactly and was about to pull on the trigger with a low deep breath.
“D–Don’t do it!”
As a man shouted urgently, he squeezed between Orlando and Atalante.
“What are you doing, Archiralph! Go back, right now!”
Despite Orlando’s shouts, Archiralph gritted his teeth and turned towards the villain.
His arms were spread wide open like he was protecting his father.
“Please! P–Please don’t shoot my father.”
“…How absurd. Why should I?”
“I… I can persuade my father! I’ll p–persuade him to just let you go!”
You’re just the same.
Atalante shook her head while taking a shooting stance with a tired look.
“You’re going to let me go now? Didn’t you hide in this forest in order to catch me?”
“Although we haven’t interacted for a long while… You’re completely different from the villain that I thought Atalante was. I’m sure that you aren’t a b–bad person……!”
“Don’t speak nonsense, Archiralph.”
Archiralph couldn’t help but tremble at her cold response.
How does he live in this harsh world only he breaks at a soft blow?
Archiralph seems to have already grown attached to her even though he had spent less than a day with her.
“W–What’s this? Archiralph… You’re acquainted with Atalante?”
“…It’s weird when I think about it. Isn’t it suspicious that he managed to discover Atalante by accident, who would disappear from the scene completely?”
Upon hearing Archiralph’s remarks, the Garrison officers started to cause a stir.
If this continues, he might be accused of being someone related to Atalante.
‘D*mn it. Why should I care about that punk?”
As Atalante spat words of annoyance inside, moved the gun she had aimed at Orlando towards Archiralph.
“Did you think that I can’t shoot you?”
“You’re nothing to me. In addition, you’re an aristocrat, so there’s plenty of reason for me to kill you. If you want to become an unfilial son that passes before your father… keep staying there.”
She hoped that Archiralph would quickly tremble and leave, but he seemed to still have something that he wanted to say, so his mouth kept opening and closing.
‘Shoot the floor, take down Archiralph, and then attack Orlando.’
Before Atalante, who had determined the order she would shoot in, could move, the loud sound of a gunshot rang out, one that wasn’t hers.
A bullet flew from behind. At the same time, the knights that were hiding in the forest appeared one by one. It was all because she dawdled.
Thanks to her reflexive moments, she avoided the bullet and only grazed past her thigh, but her balance collapsed inevitably.
Archiralph ran towards her as she fell to the floor.
Barely gaining her balance, Atalante sat on the floor limply, and raised her head to look at Archiralph running towards her.
‘What ‘No’? That punk is such a fool.….’
And Orlando with a bloodthirsty smile could be seen behind him. Of course, his gun was pointed at her.
Without a moment for her to curse, the sharp sound of a gunshot pierced through the sky where the darkness began to descend.
Is everything going to end futilely like this? She couldn’t believe it.
It was all because of Archiralph. No, it was her fault for having useless sentiments.
It seems that Atalante was too incapable of being a perfect villain.
‘Even so, if it’s to this extent… Even if I wasn’t a good child, would Mister consider me to be a bad child?’
She felt a little more at ease at the thought of her adoptive father’s face.
She turned nineteen this year. She had thought that she would at least have the Coming-of-Age Ceremony before she died. That made her a little disappointed.
“Party! Let’s throw a birthday party, Atalante!”
“Even if we can’t drink precious alcohol like the aristocratic lords do, I’ll procure the best alcohol that I’m aware of in commemoration of becoming an adult.”
All of a sudden, the red faces of Yuffie and Jenna, who were planning her coming of age ceremony crossed her mind.
Subsequently, the faces of Devon and Mia, who couldn’t dissuade them, as well as the faces of the organisation members appeared.
‘Right, I can’t die here yet!’
Perhaps it was beginner’s luck, but Orlando’s aim at her heart was surprisingly accurate.
Atalante could be inflicted with an enormous injury.
However, if she squeezes out the last of her energy and moves her body, you might be able to escape from here somehow.
‘No, even if it’s impossible… I have to do my best. So that I wouldn’t have regrets.’
Swallowing dryly, Atalante opened her tightly shut eyes.
She didn’t know if her body was like this originally, but everything before her was dark.
‘Hang on. Something’s weird,’
Orlando’s bullet would definitely have torn through her heart, but she couldn’t feel any pain at all.
The amusing thought that she had already arrived in hell crossed her mind, but that only lasted for a moment, as she belatedly felt the warmth of someone holding her body tightly.
At the same time, a voice close to a shriek penetrated her ears.
The Grand Duke?
Atalante slowly looked upwards at the sound of the familiar way of address.
Like everything before her being black was a lie, white replaced black in her field of vision.
At the direction her head was raised up towards, a pure-white man looked downwards at her with a worried gaze.
The man underneath the moonlight was so beautiful that he was momentarily thought of as an angel in an instant…It was even somewhat holy.
It was the first time she spoke aloud a name that she had only heard of on her way back.
The Grand Duke that was supposed to be in the Grand Duchy of Blanc… Why was he here?
Before Atalante could figure out the answer to her question, his crumpled face brightened instantly.
He let out a light exclamation as his face was coloured with delight.
As Atalante faced an innocent smile that didn’t match a tyrant, she held her breath without realising it.
“You remembered my name.”
But with the words that soon followed, Atalante finally exhaled the breath that she was holding.
“I missed you, Atalante.”
As the Grand Duke whispered sweetly, he held Atalante in his arms like he was dealing with something precious.
Without realising that she had been hugged twice by an unfamiliar man, her face paled.
A blissful smile appeared on Lionel’s face as he held Atalante in his arms, perhaps not noticing that she was in deep contemplation.
Atalante, who had stayed still after the accident, didn’t move even when the Grand Duke lifted her up.
“As I had put in a lot more magical ore than the standard amount… As long as the heart is still beating, the person that drank the drug will love Atalante for the rest of his life.”
Only the words of Esma echoed beside her ear like tinnitus.
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