Thank you so much for the Ko-Fi support Shipadee (◍•ᴗ•◍)❤
Thanks to Vivian’s stems holding the beasts in place, the knights were able to stab them with little effort. Their purple skin was constantly being ripped apart. The beasts shackled by the stems struggled with deafening screams. Blue blood flowed from their bodies in waves.
Chen, who had shot a lit arrow at a beast, turned pale as if his stomach was churning. For him, who had little experience in combat, the beasts being torn apart was pretty brutal.
It was the same for Vivian, who had a hard time watching the situation without expelling her dinner. Vivian tried to avoid looking at the beast as much as possible and turned to the crack. Beasts were still pouring out of it.
‘I think it would be best to stop that.’
Vivian was worried. There were too many magical beasts surrounding the Knights of Eckhart to focus on the crack now. Although they had great momentum, the knights were increasingly surrounded by more and more beasts, and the beasts were not easy foes. The number of knights were limited and the number of demons were seemingly infinite.
A crack with an uncertain cycle appeared and it was a great opportunity to investigate it. No one knew when this crack would open again. However, if she only focused on the crack, the Knights of Eckhart would be in danger.
Vivian bit her lip.
After making a decision, Vivian called out to Chen. Looking in the direction the arrow was shot, Chen responded quickly. Vivian jumped onto the chorus (* the low wall above the castle) and glanced behind her. Chen looked at each other for a moment.
“Do you remember what Sir Orpheus and I did last time?”
Vivian began to count the beasts on the field. Counting a number incomparable to the previous day, Vivian swallowed her saliva hard. Tuning out the background of chaos under her feet, Vivian focused on the ground.
She couldn’t determine how many roots she needed to catch so many demons.
Above all else, she needed to proceed with caution. The western land had been unmanaged for several decades. It was not unreasonable for the ground to be shattered if these large shocks continued to strike. If the land gave way, the situation would be worse than it was now.
“The black magic that makes up the beasts are weak against fire. The beasts are not killed by cutting and bleeding them out like that.”
“So Sir Orpheus…….”
Chen realized why Roger had used the fire the last time and why he had fired a lit arrow today. Vivian stopped concentrating and looked back at Chen.
“From now on, I will collect as many demons as I can. You have to shoot the fire arrow there. As many times as possible!”
As soon as Vivian finished speaking, the ground rumbled. All the knights who had been fighting started stumbling around.
From the feet of the stumbling knights, something began to emerge from the ground. Hard and strong roots grew like vines and began to bind the beasts. The beasts were dragged away, making kiek noises.
Roger raised his head. He looked at Vivian for a moment, frowned, and turned away. His gaze lingered on the open crack for a moment.
As Vivian drew the demons together one by one, his archers, including Chen, loaded their lit arrows. And they fired all at once.
The arrows that fell like rain carried the embers into the mass of demonic beasts. As if they were dancing, the beasts twisted their bodies violently and screamed.
This process was repeated about four times. There were so many beasts that came out. The Knights of Eckhart under the wall were busy dealing with the beasts that Vivian could not catch with her roots. Perhaps because of the reinforcement with magic, their swords inflicted fatal damage to the beasts.
When the situation calmed down, the crack had long since disappeared. All that was left were blue bloodstains on the floor and clouds of dust on the ground.
It didn’t make sense. Her face was drenched in sweat from the constant use of her powers, and her hair was full of sand that blew up from the ground. Vivian just wanted to sleep, but she could not help but wash her body at four in the morning.
After she changed her clothes, she heard a knock. Vivian dragged her exhausted body to the door.
The late night visitor was Roger. Vivian opened her door wide, wrapping her wet hair in a towel. Roger glanced at her.
“Can I come in?”
At his words, Vivian stopped. Seeing him come all the way here, it seemed like he had something serious to say. Then why did it feel like he had such strange intentions? Vivian erased the useless thoughts from her mind and let him in. Roger nodded his head and went inside.
Vivian invited him to sit, but Roger just shook his head.
“I won’t be long.”
She couldn’t offer him anything else, so she just stood beside him.
“What’s going on?”
“….Shouldn’t you dry your hair? You could catch a cold again.”
Straw-colored eyes focused on her wet hair. Vivian’s face paled at the way he treated her. Like she was fragile and weak.
“Well, I only caught a cold because I was tired at the time. I am healthy.”
He seemed taken aback, but he couldn’t say more because Vivian was so assertive. Her response created an awkward atmosphere, so they just looked at each other and waited for the other to speak.
Roger crossed his arms and leaned against the door behind him.
“You worked hard today. Thanks to that, we were able to deal with the beasts as quickly as possible with little damage.”
Vivian rolled her eyes. She was surprised because he didn’t seem to have come to say thank you.
“But next time, don’t help.”
As it turned out, she was right. Roger’s tone became stiff.
“Don’t do what ?”
“For Lady, the first priority should have been the investigation of the crack. As we have seen so far, cracks do not occur often. The reason why they open and when still unknown. It means that these occasions are a rare opportunity.”
Vivian stared at him. He continued.
“So, when a crack appears, I want you to focus on investigating the rift without thinking of saving the knights.”
Vivian realized what he was trying to say. Roger felt that her choice was not the right one.
“Well, how are you? If I hadn’t helped today, the Knights might have suffered terrible losses from the beasts.”
“I know. But that’s an issue we need to address. We came to help Lady, not for Lady to help us.”
“… So, should I care about the cracks, not whether the Knights of Eckhart die?”
Despite her sarcastic tone, Roger did not falter.
“Yes. Based on how you performed today, it seems that if you use your strength on one side, you cannot use it on the other. Is that correct?”
Vivian’s shoulders twitched as he hit the nail on head. But Vivian did not back down.
“Yes. But I have no regrets for helping the knights today. In the future, I will only help the Knights in times of crisis.”
At her stubborn reply, Roger frowned.
“Are you going to neglect the crack investigation every time?”
Vivian, whose anger was mounting as his biased argument continued, burst out.
“I don’t know why I have to argue over this issue, Sir. We are colleagues. We came here together to defeat the beasts! Why does it have to be like this?”
“As I said earlier, Lady’s first job is to investigate the cracks. It is the Emperor’s command. I am only saying that Lady must do her duty.”
“What if my ignorance of the Knights of Eckhart gets them seriously injured?”
“A mission like this is inherently costly. If the result is mission success, then the damage is insignificant.”
It was an answer that felt cold and cruel. It was as if he was politely telling Vivian not to care whether or not they died, and to investigate the crack. He spoke politely, but his meaning was like a warning. From now on, never act like you did today.
Eckhart’s notoriety returned to Vivian in an instant. A group that carries out its orders by any means and methods necessary. Vivian seemed to understand why they were given that harsh title. For Roger, the only thing that mattered was fulfilling his mission.
Vivian didn’t understand, and her head was pounding. He had often expressed his affection for his knights. Why was he trying to push the people he cared for and believed in so much to their deaths? Why did he keep telling her that she didn’t have to save them?
After a while, something shocking hit Vivian. She realized why he kept warning her of the unknown.
“Sir Knight… You don’t see me as a colleague.”
For Roger, the line between the Knights of Eckhart and Vivian was clearly drawn.
The Knights of Eckhart belonged to him. Colleagues who belonged to him and think of solving problems together when a crisis comes. On the other hand, Vivian was with him for a brief mission, and it was ambitious to even call her a colleague.
At Vivian’s trembling voice, Roger furrowed his eyebrows. He didn’t immediately say ‘yes or no’. But, to Vivian, who was well aware that silence was often affirmation, felt a choking sensation in her throat. Roger looked at Vivian’s bitter expression and licked his lips.
“… Anyway, I’m only here to tell you this, so I’ll just leave.”
It wasn’t the answer she wanted.
Vivian stared at him without a word. But, instead of assuring her, Roger left her room with a consistent disregard.
In the place where two stubborn personalities collided, all that was left was a cold silence.