Chapter 138

The mountain was relatively low, and it was a bit detached from the capital. Since there weren’t any monsters or beasts in this area, some nearby residents came to this area to gather wood, scavenge, or hunt. However, since this mountain was still a significant distance away from the cityit was mostly desertedHalfway up the hill, there was a shack where hikers sometimes rested.

It was quite late in the day, and the moon and stars shone over the shack with scattered fragments of faint light. The sound of trees brushing against each other sounded like ghosts with some strong grudges and made the already shabby shack appear even more foreboding.

Thud!

A mysterious figure appeared in front of the shack. The person wore a dark robe, and he looked very suspicious. As if the trees were whispering to each other about the mysterious intruder, his surroundings became noisier.

‘Is this the place?’

The mysterious figure stared at the shack. It was Albus. He walked with firm resolution toward the shack, and his tightly clenched fist indicated his resolve.

Creak!

Albus opened the shack’s door. He scowled at the foul smell that poured out and slowly walked inside. Since the shack was small, he didn’t have to spend much time there and opened the only door inside the room. small and dirty space appeared in front of him, but his eyes landed on one spot. On top of the dirty bed, the person he was looking for was sitting there.

“…Evelyn,” he muttered. 

Evelyn sat on the bed and opened her eyes widely as if she was scared. There was no way that she didn’t recognize his voice. “Albus? Albus, is that you?”

Albus took off his headscarf, but unlike Albus, Evelyn couldn’t see him clearly in the darkness.

“Yes, it’s me.” Albus took a step forward. The obscure moon and starlight illuminated him.

“It really is you…!” Tears welled up in her eyes. She got up from her bed and jumped into his arms. Albus hugged her tightly like he didn’t want to ever let her go.

“What happened, Evelyn? Why are you here?”

“I don’t know,” Evelyn stuttered while tears dripped down from her eyes.

“When I woke up, I was on a mountain. My whole body ached, and my head felt like it would crack. And…and I…to you…!”

“You were in the mountains when you woke up?”

“Yes.”

“Is that really true?”

“Yes, yes…” Evelyn looked a bit scared from the threatening way Albus spoke to her, but Albus didn’t pay any attention to her feelings. He raised his hand, extended one of his fingers, and placed it in front of Evelyn. The ring on his finger shone oddly.

“Um…Albus…?” Evelyn hesitantly called out his name.

There was fear mixed into her voice, but Albus didn’t even blink. His eyes that looked at her so dotingly just a couple of days ago were cold, and his lips, which had whispered sweet nothings to her ears, were shut tightly.

“Tch! As expected, the mind control wore off.”

“…What do you mean?”

That's what I said, Evelyn.” Albus released his grasp. Then, he clutched her shoulders tightly so that it hurt her and made her groan in pain.

“I planned for all of this to happen.”

Evelyn’s eyes opened wider, but Albus was cold—he only recalled the words that the robed figure told him.

“Tell her everything you did and make her feel despair.”

And Albus thought, ‘I don't know what value she has that they are so obsessed with her, but I can survive with this.’

Of course, Albus didn’t care how his actions pained Evelyn’s heart at all.

“You…planned this?”

“Yeah.” A smile formed on his lips, but it wasn’t his usual lovely smile. It was the smile of a monster driven by greed.

“Ive been manipulating you with mind control and other tools for quite a long time. It wasn’t that hard since you were so deeply in love with me. Well, it was a bit tiring to find out what you liked and how to win your affection, but in the end, even that wasn’t very difficult.

“A-Albus…what are you saying…”

“Shut up and listen. The mind control I put on you is simple. If I give you a signal, you will attack the person in front of you, and if I come in between…” Albus placed his face close to Evelyn. Evelyn’s body shuddered in terror

Albus placed his jaw on her shoulder and whispered into her ear. “…you’ll pierce me.”

“Urgh!” Evelyn pushed Albus’s chest away, and Albus backed away without resistance.

“Of course, I made it so that I wouldn’t receive a serious injury. I also made it so that you would run away immediately. It was damn difficult to make your weak physique push beyond its limits, but you fulfilled your purpose well. Yeah.”

Albus glared at Evelyn. “If only you just went to that darn lake, everything would have been perfect.”

“D-Did you not love me?”

“Love? Hey Evelyn, wake up. We are aristocrats—and high-level aristocrats at that. Aristocrats have to be ambitious and must always aspire to consolidate power. That’s the decisive criterion that separates us from the lower class—at least, this is what I think.” Albus talked as if he was drunk on his own ideals. “It’s the same for the engagement between us. You weren’t bad as a fiancée in terms of your family’s status or rank. But if I have the chance to get a better fiancée, wouldn’t I be stupid to miss it?”

“S-So you didn’t even properly look at me!”

Why would a daughter of a family who would soon be lower in status than me be of any importance? Your father, your brother, and my father were all people without even an ounce of ambition. Talking about how our marriage would bring peace between the two families? Don’t make me laugh! An aristocrat should step on their foes to get ahead! Your family and my father were losers who chose to downgrade with those lower than them on their own will! So, I sought to get everything and live the life of a noble, as it is meant to be lived!” Albus belted out those last words with every fiber of his being.

His words revealed his true arrogant nature, and Evelyn fell into despair. The person she loved didn’t exist in this room; there was only a monster that she saw from time to time among the aristocratic society. One of those who sold their soul for power was in front of her.

Thud!

She took a step back and collapsed on the bed. Albus thought she lost hope.

‘Well, it’s easier for me if she loses hope.’

This way, he could fulfill his mission, and it would be easier to deal with her. Albus took a few steps closer to her, but he was stopped by a voice.

“That’s a very confident speech.”

Albus hastily turned towards the voice behind him. Sweat began to run down his back. “Who is it!”

“I listened to your thoughts perfectly well, but isn’t this place too shabby to shout your grandiose philosophy out loud? I might have mistaken you for a rat.”

“I said, who is it?!” Albus now had his sword out.

“I’m the person who hampered your plan. Would you understand if I told you I was the one who took Evelyn away in the middle of your plans?”

“What?” Albus briefly showed a dazed response at the unexpected turn of events, but it lasted only for a brief amount of time.

“You bastaaaaard!” Albus' eyes flashed after finding out that the person in front of him was the culprit that brought him to this shabby shack. He swung his sword frantically.

Clash!

However, the suspect in front of him easily blocked his sword.

“You dim-witted fool.”

Clashhh!

An enormous force pushed Albus back. One of the walls of the shack collapsed and Albus rolled outside.

“Ugh!” Shattered wooden pieces fell on top of him.

Thud! Thud!

Zich walked out of the new hole in the wall. “Considering your lofty plans, aren’t you way too weak?”

“Ahhhhhh!” Albus ran towards Zich again and swung his sword. 

Likewise, Zich swung Windur. Their swords clashed a few times, but it was easy to see who was stronger. Compared to Albus who swung his sword with a completely red face, Zich swung his sword with ease. He even looked bored.

Kick!

“Ugh!”

The edge of Zich’s foot landed on Albus’ abdomen. Albus rolled on the ground backwards.

“Hey, get up. A great noble like you shouldn’t fall down from just that.”

Kick!

Zich kicked him again, and Albus rolled on the ground like a bug. He also lost his grip on his sword. Then Zich placed his sword right in front of Albus’ neck, and Albus flinched. Then, Zich stepped on Albus’ chest in the same spot.

“Ugh!” Pain and humiliation filled Albus’ whole body, but he couldn’t move because a sharp sword was hanging right in front of him. Zich overpowered Albus with great ease, and he turned his head towards the shack.

“Is this enough proof, Evelyn? This guy is not interested in you. The only thing he is interested in is his own desires.”

Evelyn slowly moved out of the shack. Lyla had also appeared and was now supporting Evelyn. Albus looked between Zich, Lyla, and Evelyn. There was a strange man and woman pair close to Evelyn. This sounded familiar.

“Are you perhaps the lowly commoners who frequently visited Ev—!”

Thud!

Zich kicked Albus.

“Who are you calling ‘lowly commoners?’ Your mouth is dirtier than a rag.”

It was not something for Zich to say, but no one contradicted his words.

Lyla asked Zich, “What are you going to do with him?” Her tone was deathly cold. 

“Yeah, what should I do? Should I kill him?”

Albus froze at Zich’s words. Death. A word that he thought he successfully escaped from came back to haunt him again.

“W-wait…!” He raised his hand. “I-if you kill me, you won’t be safe either—!”

“Ah, shut up!”

Kick!

“Agh!”

Zich stepped on his face. Albus frantically squirmed, but when he felt Windur’s cold blade on his neck, he stopped moving. There was none of his former self when he was preaching to Evelyn about a noble’s standards and crap like that. Zich and Lyla snorted.

Evelyn said, “I..I want to talk to him for a bit.”

“As much as you want.” With Evelyn’s words, Zich withdrew his foot from Albus’ face. He also moved his sword away and took a couple of steps back. 

“Get up.”

While being wary of Zich, Albus slowly got up. Evelyn walked towards him. From behind, Lyla muttered a short spell.

Swish!

“Ugh! This is…!”

A magic rope of light appeared on Lyla’s hand and tied up Albus. It was so tough that even when he tried to use mana, the rope didn’t budge at all.

“Don’t waste your time and stop resisting.”

Even his attempts to get out were blocked by Zich’s threat. When he saw that Albus stopped moving, Zich moved back and walked to Lyla’s side. 

Evelyn slowly approached Albus. “…Was power that important to you?”

“…”

“Answer. Honestly.” Zich forced Albus to reply.

“…Yes.” Albus agreed to Evelyn’s words. “Was power that important to me? Just asking me that question proves how naïve you are. Power is the only virtue that a noble should pursue. With power, any absurdity or injustice becomes acceptable.”

Albus looked Evelyn straight in the eye. “I won’t say anything bad to you. Just leave me here and run away. Your future in this kingdom is over anyways.”

“Are you saying that I should just accept my situation?”

“Then what are you going to do about it? Are you going to drag me out and say you were unjustly framed? It’s too late. The person you attacked is the son of this country’s most powerful man.”

“I wasn’t the one who attacked him.”

“And how are you going to prove that? The only people who will listen to you are the two people next to you. Moreover, your father or brother won’t be able to save you even if they come here.”

“You’re the one who controlled me!”

“And I said it before—how are you going to prove that?” Albus was cold in his replies. “Just admit it. Your future in this country is over.”

Evelyn gritted her teeth for a moment. She clutched her fist and swung it hard. She used her legs, waist, and shoulders to spin and cleanly hit against Albus’ chin.

“Aghh!” Albus couldn’t move because he was tied up; and with a sharp scream, he fainted. 

Watching from behind, Zich clapped his hands. “Yes! Great job! All that practice really paid off!”

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