Thank you for the ko-fi, Sephiryn
༼ つ ◕‿◕ ༽つ
As she descended further, the distinct smell of dust pricked her nose. The knights who had descended already supported Vivian as she climbed down the ladder. After a short wait, those waiting above also descended quickly. Roger attempted to embrace her again, as he did in the village, but Vivian refused.
“I, I can walk now.”
He responded with a disgruntled expression, saying that he would only support her. Vivian, who was worried about unnecessarily displaying arrogance in her weakened state, felt relieved by his response.
The hideout was unexpectedly spacious inside. Perhaps because it was constructed by digging into the ground, it resembled a cave with multiple branches. Thanks to the lanterns hanging everywhere, the hideout was brighter than the rainy outside.
As they passed through room-like areas one by one, many members of the resistance cast glances at them. From the injured to the crying, their appearances were diverse, but they all shared a sense of sadness and despair.
“Eek, why is young Lady here?”
As Tainy emerged from behind a tent, he looked surprised upon seeing Vivian. Roger ignored his question and shifted his gaze.
“Where is the mage?”
“She’s inside. Young Lady, are you hurt?”
Her condition, which looked serious even in the dim light, was even more apparent in the bright area. Vivian, with no energy left to respond, awkwardly smiled and leaned on Roger as she moved further into the hideout.
They soon reached the place where Camilla and Master Gray, who had followed the knights yesterday, were staying. Gray was shocked when he saw Vivian’s battered appearance.
“What happened to you? Why do you look like that?”
Meeting her second most missed person after Roger, Vivian’s eyes welled up again unexpectedly. Gray, who was usually composed, hastily pulled over a chair.
Roger removed Vivian’s robe and took off the empty scabbard at her waist, then seated her in the chair. Realizing that her body was trembling from the cold, he instructed one of the knights outside to bring in another lantern. Then, he turned his head and spoke to Camilla.
“Please perform healing magic.”
Camilla nodded, as if it were obvious, and examined Vivian’s injuries. Her once beautiful silver hair, which used to glisten in the sunlight, was now tangled with dust, and her face, stained with different colors of blood, looked pitiful. Moreover, her dress was nearly torn to shreds.
A white light emanated from Camilla’s palm, slowly seeping into Vivian’s body.
“Why did you leave the mansion when you were supposed to stay there?”
Roger, who had been silent until now, gradually began to examine her injuries, speaking with sharp reproach. Gray and Camilla, thinking about Vivian’s fragile state, considered intervening, but their curiosity got the better of them, so they couldn’t bring themselves to do it.
Vivian felt the pain that had been consuming her body gradually weakening, and she opened her mouth with great effort.
She revealed everything she had heard with her own ears and suspected in her mind: the arrival of the Royal Knights, their purpose in coming, and the masterminds behind the chaos in the west.
“…The Marquis said tonight is their chance to execute their plan.”
After she finished recounting the story in detail, an eerie silence fell around them, as if fear had settled in after the revelations. There was a long period of silence as everyone seemed lost in thought.
It didn’t take long for the treatment to end. Vivian’s appearance was still a mess, but she was overjoyed that there was not a single painful spot left.
“Do you happen to know what Daenerys’ plan was in the past?”
Vivian stared at Camilla, who had just removed her hand.
She knew that the Marquis Dinus’s ‘plan’ was the same as the one Daenerys had conceived hundreds of years ago. However, she had no idea what that plan specifically entailed.
Among the people present, Camilla was the most likely to know, not for any particular reason, but simply because she was a mage.
Darkness clouded Camilla’s face in response. It was an expression of fear, as if she feared what she might not be able to confront. Roger and Gray also turned their gazes towards Camilla.
“I had a suspicion, but when I came here and saw the rifts, I became certain. They intend to carry out the plan that was thwarted by various countries in the past.”
Camilla hesitated for a long time before finally opening her mouth. It seemed like she found it torturous to bring up this topic.
She opened her mouth with a sigh, handing Vivian a cloth soaked in water. Vivian wiped her face with it and listened attentively to Camilla’s story.
“Their plan is profound yet simple. Their ultimate goal is to open the Gateway to the Abyss.”
“It refers to the world of demons. The Gateway to the Abyss serves as a passage connecting that world to ours.”
“…Why do they want to open it?”
“Well, the power Daenerys worships, dark magic, originates from the Abyss.”
Camilla took a deep breath before continuing.
“If magic is considered a divine gift from the Creator, then dark magic can be seen as a malevolent force born from the wickedness of demons. That’s why the power they worship is persecuted and suppressed in this world but welcomed in the Abyss.”
“So… Why did they make such a mess in the west to open the Gateway?”
“To increase the chances of opening the Gateway to the Abyss. Even though both magic and dark magic are composed of the same essence, their characteristics are quite different. Positive magic doesn’t naturally come together and accumulate; it merely exists, like the air in the atmosphere. However, dark magic strangely possesses a property that causes it to stick together. Perhaps they are using this property to attempt to open the Gateway. As the presence of dark magic increases in this land due to the Mage Barrier, the probability of the Gateway opening also rises.”
“Ah, so that’s why the rift…”
“Yes. In a way, the rift is like the entrance to a prepared space where dark magic is stored.”
Vivian was left speechless by the depth and simplicity of the plan Camilla described.
“What would happen if this Gateway were to open?”
On behalf of Vivian, Roger, with arms folded, asked. Even the mere thought of it made Camilla’s gentle eyes turn stern.
“All the demons from the Abyss will come to our world. Not only that, but everything made of dark magic, from the spells they cast to the creatures they summon, will manifest easily.”
Camilla took the cloth from Vivian’s hand, wet it again, and handed it back, sighing heavily.
“Ordinary people cannot endure dark magic. If they are continuously exposed to it, they will either become corrupted by its power or perish. In the end, this world will become no different from the Abyss, filled with the dominance of malevolent forces and chaos.”
As she listened to her explanation, Vivian recalled the beasts she had encountered on her way here. If this world, where she lived peacefully with her loved ones, were to be filled with such beasts and the power that controlled them…
“It’s a power that can bring about the destruction of everything that exists.”
She remembered a conversation she had with Daniel a while ago. Even Daniel, a mage like Camilla, had said that dark magic should never be allowed to spread in this world, let alone be used.
“Commander! Another rift has appeared in the forest!”
The urgent cry of a knight broke the silence. At that moment, Vivian thought of Marquis Dinus, who had arrogantly claimed that the Eckhart Knights would surely tire.
“Perhaps they are responsible for creating this rift as well.”
“Marquis Dinus, and…”
Daenerys hiding in the Capital.
Roger seemed to understand the omitted part of her sentence, as he swept his hair back with his hand.
Gray had rested enough by now, so he said he would go out first. Vivian, who had been absentmindedly staring at the spot where her mentor had disappeared, snapped out of her daze when someone tapped her shoulder.
“Thanks to the method my Lady provided, we’ve been able to eliminate many rifts so far.”
The owner of the hand was Camilla, who smiled kindly at her.
“The method I provided?”
“Who would have thought that the weakness of dark magic is elemental magic? Gray has closed more than ten rifts until now. Of course, new rifts continue to appear, but…”
Even in this grave situation, Camilla had a relaxed expression, picking up her robe.
“Leave it to Gray and take a rest. You must have suffered a lot to get here.”
Camilla realized the severity of her condition as she treated her. Not only her arms, but also her back, ankles, and even minor injuries. She was covered in wounds. While Camilla had used magic to heal her wounds, the strain on her body remained unchanged.
“I heard that you can’t use your power temporarily.”
Camilla probably said it without any malicious intent, but at this moment, it felt like she was touching Vivian’s Achilles’ heel with her words. Vivian’s pride hit rock bottom, exposing her flaw that she had kept hidden deep inside.
It wasn’t just any flaw; it was a flaw that had caused her frustration, disappointment, and anger multiple times on her journey here. She tried to maintain her composure.
Camilla went outside to assist Gray. In the confined space, only Vivian and Roger remained.
For some reason, Vivian couldn’t bring herself to look at Roger. His attitude was cold, which had been bothering her since earlier. It was a kind of wound that not even magic could not heal.
Was he angry? If so, she had a rough idea of why. He had explicitly told her not to come out, yet she had stubbornly come out of the mansion. And she had been injured, adding to his worries.
However, Vivian couldn’t help it. If she hadn’t come out of the mansion, she would have been caught by the knights Marquis Dinus had brought with him. She had no regrets about her actions, but she couldn’t bear to look at him because she was afraid of his reaction.
Suddenly, she heard footsteps. Vivian noticed that Roger was approaching her, and she awkwardly adjusted her posture. She thought she heard a sigh near her ear. She felt his presence distinctly when he grabbed the armrest of her chair and knelt down in front of her.
“Are you okay now?”
The voice that finally spoke after a long silence was quite different from before. Encouraged by this change, Vivian cautiously met his gaze. His cold eyes had softened. It seemed like he had understood her situation after listening to her story.
“It’s my fault. I should have left some people in the mansion from the beginning.”
He wiped her cheek with the cloth, now clean, and his touch was comforting. The coldness in his eyes had completely melted away, replaced by a warm understanding. Vivian realized through him how a person’s heart could change with a single gesture or a few words.
“It’s okay. In any case, we’re together now.”
She smiled faintly, touching the back of his hand. Her fear and anxiety had melted away, leaving only relief in her heart. Nothing had been definitively resolved yet, but just meeting him made her feel like she had gained a priceless treasure.
TL’s note : Let’s suffer in singleness ;-;
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