Thank you for the Ko-fi Winzie
Unlike the rapidly changing relationship with Roger, the west remained tranquil and calm for a while. It was a subtle atmosphere that felt like peace but had a nuanced tension.
Since the appearance of two cracks at once, there had been no new ones, and the exploration of the locked library was still at a standstill. Everyone seemed to be getting tired of the lack of progress, more than they had expected.
Time continued to pass, but progress was inconsistent. The biggest obstacle was the lack of a target. Pursuing something or someone without knowing who or what it was like chasing an elusive phantom, and it was more frustrating than anticipated.
The only target was a single postscript by Ozent, and even that situation was uncertain, with no evidence to either confirm or reduce his suspicion. So lately, the expedition was caught in an ambiguous situation, feeling both tedious and unable to relax.
Vivian was also preoccupied with thoughts of the cracks and dark magic.
But what worried her more than those things was…
She looked up at the sound calling her. Roger was staring at her with a puzzled expression.
Roger raised an eyebrow at her response, but soon turned the conversation without paying much attention to it.
“Did you find anything in the library?”
Vivian nodded quickly with a downcast face. Roger scratched his temple as if frustrated but managed to control his expression, not wanting to bother her.
“Do you plan to be in the library again today?”
This time, she gestured with a horizontal nod, indicating that she would be going up the ramparts after a long time.
After Roger replied that he would go after finishing his own tasks, he left the room with a hesitant step, still feeling irritated by his inability to spend time with her, despite wanting to do so above all else.
As she had promised, Vivian climbed up to the ramparts after a long time. The soldiers, who had seen her more than their own families since her arrival in the west, welcomed her with lively faces.
She found a suitable spot and sat down, silently gazing at the barren land below. Her pale blue eyes seemed as deep as the water, lost in thought.
Vivian began to dream a new dream.
Six days ago, she had her first dream, a vast landscape that spread out endlessly. Since that day, she had consistently dreamt the same dream. The forest-like scenery remained the same in every dream, but one small detail changed. Precisely, it changed due to Vivian’s actions.
Initially, the leaves of the tree she touched with her hand wilted. Then, the branches withered like the onset of a harsh winter. The tree trunk, which had sprouted with vitality from the leaves and branches, also began to lose its lush green color.
Despite the unexplainable changes, the tall tree stood tall and healthy. It continued to assert its presence in the midst of the harmonious natural scenery.
However, would the tree remain unscathed as this dream continued?
Such concerns arose in Vivian every morning due to the changes she felt.
On the first day, the fluctuations in the aura of elemental magic that she had perceived seemed to intensify day by day. The time she felt it most intensely was when she woke up from the dream and opened her eyes.
But eventually, this morning, she couldn’t sense the aura of elemental magic in her body for a while. It was a dreadful sensation, almost despairing. She sat with a vacant expression for about ten minutes, and then, little by little, the familiar sensation returned and enveloped her body like air.
Beyond the ramparts, while gazing at the yellowish-brown earth, Vivian cautiously moved her finger. Changes occurred in the invisible ground beneath her fingertip. Gradually, tiny grass sprouted in a small corner where her gaze passed.
So far, there was nothing unusual.
However, the unease that it could disappear at any moment followed endlessly.
Hoping that her intuition would be wrong this time, Vivian gathered her strength. As she did so, the grass that had just started to grow in the dream quickly withered and finally disappeared into the ground.
The sunlight was warm, and the wind was gentle, but her inner turmoil persisted.
It’s a landscape that remains consistently monotonous.
Vivian raised her weary eyes and looked around. The feeling of clarity and purity she had when she first dreamt was much diminished. Vivian couldn’t pinpoint exactly what had changed. She just had a feeling.
Despite the unfolding scene in front of her, it felt unreal, as if she were observing from a great distance. It was a peaceful and soothing space, but at the same time, it felt fragile, as if it could collapse at any moment.
Vivian lowered her gaze. Guided by the gentle breeze tickling her feet, she walked towards the grass.
She extended her foot towards the tree. The tree, with its branches and leaves already withered, still stood tall with a straight trunk. Out of habit, she placed her hand on the tree.
Now it was like a rite of passage. To wake up from this dream. To get out of this place gives you both peace and anxiety.
It was then. The ground that supported her body began to shake as if it were about to collapse. Vivian’s eyes shook urgently.
After a while, from where Vivian stood, the grass began to fade like a mist. Just like it didn’t exist in the first place.
Starting with grass, vines, flowers, butterflies, leaves. Everything went away one by one. Vivian looked hastily at the tree.
Unlike the surrounding greenery, the tree remained the same. However, maybe it is because the scenery that makes the eyes brighter just by looking at it has disappeared, so the magnificent tree looked so lonely and lonely.
While looking up at the tree with bewildered eyes, Vivian woke up from a terrible deep dream.
Even while I was dreaming, the sun shone long by the bed, perhaps because time had passed fast. It was morning.
Vivian was unable to get up in the glaring sunshine. Her heart beat harder than usual. There was a cold sweat behind her back in the state of her body she felt. The emptiness of what was always full gave her whole body goosebumps.
Vivian lay still for a while. with the hope of coming back like last time.
But hope was in vain.
The maximum was ten minutes. Ten minutes later, I felt the spirit of spirituality. But now, I didn’t think about returning until almost an hour later.
Recognizing the seriousness, Vivian jumped out of bed and headed for the window in a hurry. Her face dimly reflected on the transparent window showed signs of nervousness.
I grabbed the hook with a weak touch and opened the window. The cold wind swept through her whole body coldly, as if to remind her of reality.
Vivian took a deep breath and stared down. The whole garden caught her eye. The scene in the dream overlapped on top of it. Vivian pressed her grip on the window frame.
But there was no change. Although it may not wither like a dream, that didn’t mean any other changes.
If it is, there must be a change. Flowers bloomed, roots grew, or nature had to submit to her power in some way.
I was guessing, but it was still different to see it as reality. Vivian’s heart sank and sat down at the sight she saw with her own eyes.
At that moment, someone called her.
Vivian raised her hazy gaze with effort. Roger, dressed more simply than usual, was standing at the entrance of the mansion, looking up at her. Bathed in the morning sunlight, he seemed to sparkle.
If Vivian had been in her right mind, she might have been more observant of who might be around him. Or upon noticing him, her heart might have pounded as she saw him smile warmly.
However, today was different. She couldn’t even muster a response; her lips were frozen.
As if he hadn’t sensed anything strange yet, Roger greeted her with a cheerful smile. He truly seemed to fit well with the leisurely atmosphere of the morning.
Seeing his radiant presence, Vivian felt even more desolate.
It was solely because of this elemental magic that she had come to the west with him. But… if her power didn’t return, if it disappeared, what would happen? If she couldn’t help him, she would not only be useless to him but to everyone. She would be a burden.
Holding onto the window frame, she lowered her head instead of returning the greeting. Her face was covered in shadows, as if she might burst into tears at any moment. Her lower lip curled downwards.
Seeing her lack of response, unlike her usual self, Roger’s voice became puzzled.
Vivian tried to raise her head and smile. However, she couldn’t muster the courage to smile boldly when she feared that the power that had brought her here might be forever gone.
As Vivian kept her head down and remained silent, Roger’s expression became sharp, as if he were trying to see through her with his piercing gaze.
Roger quickly turned and headed towards the training grounds. With agile movements, he disappeared from the garden in an instant.
Not long after, the sound of urgent footsteps from outside the door could be heard, and the tightly closed door was soon opened. Even though she wasn’t looking, a presence with immense intensity approached from behind.
Vivian’s body turned by his touch. Rogerr, who didn’t know the situation, was startled when he saw her, as if she might burst into tears at any moment. It was the first time he had seen such an expression on her since they had met.
Vivian’s pupils shook deeply for a moment. For a moment, it felt as if her whole body was trembling, not just her pupils.
“Rogerr… the power…”
Despite her throat feeling dry, Vivian struggled to speak.
“The elemental magic… it’s gone.”
* * *
Vivian bit her lip as she felt the emptiness that had replaced the once-filled space within her.
It might return. Just like it didn’t seem to be felt for a short while at the beginning. And as time went on, the periods without feeling it seemed to get longer. So even today, if she waited a little longer, it might return.
But somehow, it didn’t seem like it would. The emptiness she felt today was so realistic that it plunged her whole body into despair.
“You suddenly woke up like this in the morning?”
He placed a teacup in front of her as he asked. He had probably prepared it for her mental comfort, but unfortunately, Vivian wasn’t in the mood to drink tea right now.
There were signs that her ability had disappeared. The strange symptoms she had consistently experienced in her dreams where he didn’t appear. Perhaps it had revealed the power that had gradually been drying up.
But she didn’t have the energy to list them one by one. As she rolled her eyes deep into her thoughts, he sighed faintly in response.
“Do you know the reason?”
She wasn’t sure, but she had a conjecture. Perhaps it was related to the dreams she had with him, which were no longer happening. However, she didn’t know for sure, as she still didn’t know why Roger had appeared in her dreams.
“I’m not sure, but… it seems to be related to the dreams we had.”
As she wiped her face with her hand, trying to dispel the frustration that filled her, Vivian bit her lower lip.
“If only our master were here to ask…” she murmured.
While Vivian was lost in her frustration, the sound of knocking could be heard, and Hamel opened the door slightly, showing only her face.
“You both should come downstairs. A guest has arrived.”