<Chapter 52. War's Scenario - 5>
The human and elvish heroes, Lloyd and Erian, were heading towards the location of Silene Viesa's distress signal (a level 4 danger zone and a city nearby Bayran) as fast as they could. Whilst doing so, Lloyd's face remained tense and displeased.
"I can't believe it. I thought he valued his comrades more than anyone else."
"Mm, but you can't really blame him, Lloyd."
Erian, who was running beside him, just smiled bitterly. She, like Lloyd, had attempted to persuade Lee Shin Woo within the chatting channel, but she was doubtful that their rescue attempt would even work.
"Lee Shin Woo has the right to prioritize his life over another's. Moreover... Do you remember, Lloyd? When he was still a rookie, Shino asked for our aid, yet we abandoned him. We also did the same with Jin Jin as well..."
'Jin Jin', she muttered and felt a dull pain in her heart. Though she doubted his plan, she still ran beside him nonetheless; perhaps it was her atonement for not mustering up the courage to save Ye Jin Jin before.
"He learned how to be a hero from us, so... It's the correct choice to make as a hero."
"Ugh. Still, back then... There was nothing we could do."
"I know. I couldn't do anything either. ...And Lee Shin Woo is likely in the same position right now. He told us, didn't he? That he can't move right now. I don't think he's lying. I know because I'm an Elf."
"...Are you saying he's right?"
"It's not a matter of right or wrong. You already know, right?"
Lloyd's unfriendly expression remained. Erian sighed softly so that he wouldn't hear her.
Following their extermination of two of the 12 Generals, Lloyd had been affected by Lee Shin Woo in a variety of ways, two of which being his desire to improve and an unerasable shame.
Lloyd was always hot-blooded and somewhat exhausting to deal with, but... he became even worse following that event.
'In any case, after the events of that day, Lloyd has continued to train without taking care of himself. Because of that, I was somehow able to reach level 7 too. ...Lloyd must think that he's stronger than Lee Shin Woo at this point.'
In her honest opinion, he had absolutely no chance. 'Even if 2 Lloyds were to attack him simultaneously, Lee Shin Woo would still win with ease', she thought, but she was afraid that saying that would hurt Lloyd, so she couldn't be honest with him.
'But then, Silene Viesa's distress signal came at such an auspicious time. That probably made Lloyd... remember how Lee Shin Woo had saved Jin Jin. It's unfortunate, but Retadane died too. ...Lloyd must be thinking that Lee Shin Woo failed to save his comrade this time, so if he were to succeed with Silene, then he'd be a greater hero than Lee Shin Woo.'
She couldn't help but sigh. This pointless competition, which wouldn't allow him to be outdone by Lee Shin Woo, had caused him to make such a foolish decision.
Erian thought she may actually die this time. She hadn't taken Lee Shin Woo's warning lightly.
But what could she do? She loved the idiot. So, she'd decided to go with him, regardless of the danger... or so she thought, but then she felt her temper flare. Following him to their deaths without voicing her opposition would be nothing more than a dog's death. And so, she stopped running.
"I don't think Lee Shin Woo was wrong either. But please understand, Erian. With how powerful we've become, I don't think we can turn a blind eye to our comrades who are in danger..."
He kept piling on the excuses, yet Erian's calm voice stifled him. Her unyielding voice had caused him to shut up.
"I'm not going to talk about that anymore, Lloyd. I was against it because I thought it was too dangerous, but I came along since you were willing to stake your life on it. Since it would be better for us to die together than to let you die alone."
"Do you still not get it, Lloyd?"
She really didn't know what to do with him. Erian smiled bitterly and said.
"I love you enough to risk my life for you."
"Huh? Huh...? Erian, you love me? Wait a sec. Huh...? You mean like, as a friend?"
"You really think I can't differentiate between the two? I'm not you. The love that all our parents shared; I'm talking about that love. You understand, right? Right?"
"Hey, I know I'm dull and all, but that kind of hurts..."
Lloyd's face reddened instantly. He hesitated and was unable to reply; truly a trait befitting a hero. But Erian sighed in relief, as she had avoided the worst situation; after all, Lloyd hadn't said something like, 'I don't think this is the time for jokes' and rejected her.
"I'm afraid of dying without telling you my feelings, so I'm telling them to you now. You don't need to answer me right away, so let's get going. Let's go. We have to go save Silene."
"...I-I got it. Yeah, we have to rescue him. No matter what."
And so, Lloyd began running once more, albeit awkwardly. Erian stuck closer to him and just smiled.
It was so easy, so why hadn't she done it all this time? She almost felt as stupid as Lloyd. 'Then again, that's why we get along so well', she thought and smiled softly once more.
Unfortunately, her smile didn't last long. They went through the city and entered the facility where Silene was trapped, but suddenly, their body and minds tensed up.
[Tch. So only you two showed up, huh?]
"Y-You're... the Lich!"
They had anticipated some traps, but they didn't know what types of traps there would be, as well as who would be waiting for them. And the person waiting for them far exceeded their expectations.
[Lv8 Archmage Feotane Von Seldin]
To think... the level 8 Lich was awaiting them.
"What... What the hell is this?"
"S-Senior. Why are you here...?"
They hadn't expected him to be waiting for them, with dozens of high rank undead at that... no, undead heroes.
"Senior... Even our great seniors who we've only heard stories about. Why? Why are you all here...?"
There was no way they could've expected this. The Lich had known about the heroes long ago and collected the heroes that had died within the Empire...!
[Now that I think about it, one of you was quite sharp... But he must not have known that I was tracking you as well. With my new power that connects space through darkness, Dark Space!]
"D-Dark Space...? What are you talking about!?"
[As I thought, you don't know. It just means that that lucky fellow will soon become like you.]
The Lich was delighted, as he'd finally obtained an innate element, something he'd never achieved in the past. However, Lloyd and Erian couldn't understand him, as they didn't even know what an innate element was. The Lich just clicked his tongue at their reaction and extended both hands.
[Now, come over here. Don't worry, I'll try and keep you intact. Since you'll soon be a part of our Imperial Army!]
[Kihik, undead... Undead...!]
Silene Viesa, who'd baited them here, had become an undead as well. The undead curse had affected him in the worst way possible; although he had become an undead, he still hated the undead, so he was trying to strangle himself.
However, an undead wouldn't go down from just strangling them. So he, who had lost his life to the Archmage and was imprisoned here, just rolled on the floor, continuously trying to end his life despite being unable to.
It wasn't enough to call the sight 'horrid'. It was much, much worse.
"Why... Why did you kill Silene...!? What did he do wrong...!?"
[That's just junk. To think he couldn't even accept his new life and tried to end it. How could he be so foolish? He was quite skilled, so I recruited him into the Imperial Army, but if he keeps making such a fuss, then I have no choice but to leave him behind. Now then, I have high hopes for the two of you.]
The Lich, unable to conceal his excitement, continued.
[To think your first reaction upon seeing this many undead was 'senior'. I'm astounded. You consider them heroes, not undead, I see. It's proof that you've 'overcome' the curse like us. I don't doubt that you'll be able to accept reality, even after becoming undead like us!]
Hearing that, Lloyd understood. Even if they were previously his seniors, the first emotion that should've come to mind was 'hatred'. This was the effect of the undead curse, something that even the heroes couldn't avoid. Then why...?
'Perhaps... Perhaps it's because I met Shino that one time...'
What did he think back then? When he saw Shino Rendu rush into the fray to save his comrades, despite becoming an undead, was the first thing he thought of killing him?
No, it wasn't. He'd said that he was happy to see him, that it was unfortunate that this had happened to him, and that despite everything, he was thankful... That's what he'd thought back then. Yeah, now that he thought about it, that's when everything changed.
But did he reject those feelings...? Nope, not at all! On the contrary, those feelings were natural! It was only natural for a human to feel that way. It didn't matter whether they were an undead or not!
"It doesn't matter to me if they're undead or not."
The hero, Lloyd H.K., gritted his teeth and gripped his sword. The approaching senior... the level 6 undead hero that he'd met just once several years ago, was cut down and he then declared.
"They were all heroes with such noble souls. I'm not cutting them down because they're undead; I'm putting them to peace so that their wills aren't defiled any longer. And you, Lich. I'm not..."
[Not going to what?]
The Lich, seemingly interested, brandished his staff and intensified the darkness surrounding the undead heroes. Though he faced a power akin to a Necromancer's, Lloyd didn't back down. Seeing that, Erian followed suit, gritting her teeth and raising her bow.
"Going to forgive you. I swear I'll kill you. In place of all the heroes you've killed!"
[Hahahaha. Truly a response befitting one of God's heroes! I think I've heard that same line... about ten times now.]
The Lich laughed in excitement and Lloyd merely gritted his teeth. Though he'd said all that, he was getting pushed back bit by bit by the wave of undead heroes. It was unavoidable; the more confident you sounded, the weaker you appeared!
"Seniors...! I'm sorry. I promise I'll avenge you...!"
[Can't you say something original? Every word you say is so cliche that I can't take it. Are all heroes as frustrating as you? Is that it?]
"Entry number 2, Lee Shin Woo. I'll try coming up with something original."
Then... the Lich, who was floating in the air, heard a voice coming from behind him.
"Hi, the name's Lee Shin Woo. I'm right behind you."
None of the undead had sensed him. Even Erian, with her astute senses, couldn't sense him, nor could Lloyd. And even the Archmage...
"I don't have a heart, so... let's trying breaking yours."
This man, who'd managed to fool the 'super mode' Lich, was obviously Lee Shin Woo, who'd come after finishing his preparations.
"How about it? Original enough for you?"
In one hand, he gripped a crystal shrouded in deep darkness, and in the other, he gripped the Death God's Shining Bone Sword and winked... And the Archmage screamed.
[Aieeeeeeh! My heart! How do you have that!?]
He's the one who wanted them to come up with something, so he couldn't help but be disappointed by the Archmage's reaction.
Lee Shin Woo snorted and raised the dark red crystal. It was quite the appetizing crystal, which contained the Archmage, Feotane Von Seldin's soul.Previous Chapter Next Chapter