Zich hadn’t planned on asking some amazing questions with those three chances.
‘Three questions are not enough to get much information about her.’
Furthermore, although he was curious about her identity, Zich had already made up his mind that it didn’t matter if anyone, including Glen Zenard, had regressed like him. At first, he felt surprised to think that another person could have regressed, but he no longer felt this way. Zich’s main reason for wanting to learn about Lyla’s identity was simple curiosity. And if the Key That Distorts Destiny hadn’t suddenly popped out of his hand and put him on edge, he wouldn’t have even pressured Lyla to talk. And now, Zich was already recovering his sense of calm.
‘Since she seems to have problems with her memories, I don’t think I will get much out of her either.’
Lyla even said that she didn’t know anything about the ‘Key,’ which he was most curious about. Thus, the first question Zich asked was about her name. If he couldn’t gain much from trying to dig for information, he thought he should use this chance to ask her personal questions and build a closer bond with her.
‘Rather than forcing it out of her, it’s better to encourage her to confess everything of her own will after she regains her memories.’
But it seemed as if the first question had already hit a sore spot.
‘She refuses to say it. Or did she not have a name in the first place? That seems to be the case…’
Whatever the case was, it seemed like Lyla didn’t grow up in a good environment.
‘Since I already asked a sensitive question, maybe I should push it a bit more.’
Zich decided to alter his plans slightly.
“It seems like you know all kinds of information. How do you know all that?” Zich was almost certain that she had regressed like him, but he wanted to confirm this fact. But just in case, he asked her in a roundabout way; and he realized that this was the right decision.
“…I have dreams.”
Zich turned his head, and he stared at her. Her response was completely different from what he had expected. “What are the dreams about?”
“They are about two people’s futures. One person is the Sun Hero who wields a holy sword and protects the world. The other person is the Demon Lord of Strength who wields a demon sword and corrupts the world.”
Zich silently listened to her although he was surprised.
“I experienced what those two felt and saw it through my dreams.”
“…And how did those dreams end?”
“There were many endings.”
Zich’s eyebrows rose.
“Sometimes, the Demon Lord won, and sometimes, the Hero won. There were even times when both died, or a completely different event unfolded and left the two in shock. But most of the futures ended with the confrontation between the Sun Hero and the Demon Lord.”
“…And I am guessing that I won’t be able to use my last question to get all the details of these futures?”
“Not only will that be too much, but I also don’t know these futures in detail. My memory is incomplete.”
“Why is your memory incomplete?”
“I can think of that as your third question, right? I think I did my service.”
“—No, wait.” Zich stopped his questioning for a moment and thought deeply. But Lyla seemed to have thought that Zich’s reaction was strange.
“…What is it? I thought you were in a similar situation as me. Didn’t you gain information from seeing your future? And isn’t that why you are working hard to not become Zich Moore?”
‘That’s what she thought?’ Zich realized that he and Lyla had misunderstood each other’s thoughts and positions. Zich thought Lyla regressed like him while Lyla thought Zich had seen the future through his dreams like her.
‘So, she was drawing her own conclusions just from the information she got from her dreams.’
It was funny to think about it.
‘To think she sees different futures in her dreams…’
Truthfully, it was hard to believe her. But hadn’t Zich regressed? If regressions happened, it was ridiculous to outrightly reject her claim as false.
‘What if I also dreamed like Lyla?’ What if his dreams were so clear that he thought he had regressed? However, Zich quickly rejected this idea.
‘No matter how clear a dream is, it doesn’t make you lose the memories you had right before sleeping.’
When he first woke up, it took him a long time to recall his memories at Steelwall. If memories from the regression had been a dream, he wouldn’t have had to go through the previous day’s memories like he was searching for an old item, deep inside a worn-out ceiling filled with spiderwebs and tainted goods. And above all, the Key That Distorts Destiny was the most powerful evidence that he had actually regressed.
Zich thought about what Lyla had said again: ‘She said there were many different futures.’
When she talked about her dreams, it sounded like she was talking about him and Glen Zenard.
‘If she really saw the future, then there must be many possibilities in the future, and my past regression self must have been in the one where I lost.”
Zich scowled. ‘Why did I have to be in one where I lost out of all the possible futures?’
He felt bitter. Lyla looked at him strangely, so Zich fixed his expression. “Then, do I still have one question left?”
Zich mused over his choices: was he going to use this opportunity to build a better relationship with her like he had originally planned, or was he going to get more information out of her like he just did?
“I have decided.”
“What is it?” Zich looked at Lyla with a solemn expression. Lyla tensed up, thinking he might ask her a very serious question.
“What’s your favorite color?”
“Your favorite color.” In the end, Zich chose to build a closer relationship with Lyla and gain more information out of her in the long run.
“…Is that really your question?”
“You’re not going to regret it? I won’t give you another chance even if you beg me.”
“…It’s white.” After answering Zich’s question, Lyla wondered if this was really all right. Even as she replied, it was clear that she was wondering if their question time could just end like this.
“That’s why you named yourself Lyla.”
Lyla petals were completely white.
“Yeah. With that, my questions are over.”
“…Is this okay? Weren’t you desperate to get more information out of me?”
“According to the situation, my response also changes.”
She looked at him with suspicion, but Zich put on a perfect poker face.
“No matter how good-looking I am, even I feel pressured if you stare at me like that.”
“Yeah right.” Lyla laughed and returned to her normal attitude.
“Ah, I actually have another question.”
“…Even if you don’t have a conscience, isn’t this too fast for you to change your words?”
“It’s not that type of question, dummy. Well, you are right about how I don’t have a conscience.” As if he was proud of his lack of conscience, Zich held his head high up, and Lyla looked at him like he was absurd. “You said you see a lot of different futures, right?”
“Yeah. But I don’t remember the exact details.”
“It doesn’t matter to me, because I’m not asking for that kind of information.” Zich stared into Lyla’s eyes and asked, “Do you think I will become Demon Lord Zich Moore even now?”
Lyla became silent. She looked at Zich once more and fell into deep thought. After a lot of struggle, she finally said, “…No. But you never know. Even though I don’t remember exactly, I saw a lot of different futures. Right now, I can’t judge if you are walking the same paths as the ones from my dream or walking a completely new path you have never walked before. But I’m pretty sure there was never a future where you held Estellade.”
“In other words, just by holding Estellade, I’m moving towards a future I have never walked before?”
“Yep. So as I was telling you, as soon as we get out of here, find Estellade and take it. You shouldn’t even think about getting near Tornium.”
“But I still like Tornium.”
“…Did your parents scold you a lot for not listening to them at all?”
Zich shrugged his shoulders, and Lyla hit her chest. She acted as if she was a mother sighing about her disobedient child.
“Regardless of whether I keep Estellade or Tornium or an old nail I find rolling on the street, let’s get out of here first and then talk.” Zich fixed his grip on the sword he was holding. “From here on out, there seems to be something different.”
The new path that appeared in front of them no longer had man-made stones on the floors, walls, or ceilings. Only natural rock beds appeared in view. Instead of a man-made tunnel, they were now clearly walking towards a natural cave. The Key That Distorts Destiny was quietly pointing them towards the cave.
* * *
Tourist sites were not the only attractions of Violuwin. Outside the Violuwin walls, tall mountains spread across the city’s surroundings. The rough rocky mountains adorned themselves with clouds on top and presented a very mysterious and awe-inducing sight to the people of Violuwin.
However, the mountains that normally enriched the hearts of Violuwins were now hiding a deadly poison inside. Contrary to the mountain peak that featured bare rock walls, the deep valley was covered with dense trees and bushes.
Someone moved among the bush and appeared into view. If Zich had seen this person, Zich’s eyes would have sparkled at the figure’s long robes. The robed figure rustled through the bush. Several more people came into view behind him. They all deftly made their way through the natural forest, untouched by humans. Even the tree branches that reached towards the sky, the vine stems that grabbed onto people’s feet, and even the branches of shrubs that hit their faces could not deter their footsteps in the slightest.
“…Have we arrived?”
A voice was heard; it was an extremely ordinary voice. It was the type of voice that if you grabbed the most ordinary-looking person on the street, that would be how they sounded. All the people who followed behind became completely stiff at the man’s voice.
“Yes, sir!” The robed man who replied on behalf of the rest of his teammates clearly had fear in his voice.
“Seeing that only you guys came up, it surely isn’t good news.”
“We lost contact with the tracking team!”
The person with the ordinary voice let out a sigh. The robed man who was reporting became even more frozen. Even though he knew that the person in front of him didn’t kill his underlings whenever he was in a bad mood, he still felt fearful.
“Did they get defeated?”
“Sir, that is a very high possibility!”
“Were they defeated by the Core? If that’s not it, did a third party intervene?”
“We were not able to verify that.”
“Well, I guess so.”
The man who was reporting wanted to get out of this thorny situation as soon as possible. He was unable to hide the sweat coming down inside his hood and stood as still as a stone statue. The person with the ordinary voice fell into thought for a moment.
But he did not ponder for too long. “Consider Stage 1 a failure, and let’s continue with Stage 2. Make sure to prepare.”
The man who was reporting quickly drew back. He was so happy that he could finally disappear in front of the person with the ordinary voice. The robed man took his men and began preparing for Stage 2. The person with the ordinary voice thought of Violuwin; in that city, people were always having fun and enjoying a happy day.
‘It’s really such a pity.’
While thinking of the city’s near future, the person with the normal voice clicked his tongue.Previous Chapter Next Chapter