The atmosphere became frozen. Ms. Bargot’s face was beautiful, her eyes innocent and pure, and her voice was calm like still water. However, her words were frightening as if she poured ice water down their backs.
“It’s fine. My mom told me to not eat random things from strangers.”
“Oh my, are you calling me a stranger? I’m disappointed. We were in such a passionate relationship. Were you just playing around with me?”
Ms. Bargot pretended to wipe her tears. Whatever a beauty did became picturesque. Moreover, when a person as beautiful as Ms. Bargot wiped her eyes so pitifully, most people would have felt their hearts stir. However, not a single person pitied Ms. Bargot. On the other hand, they looked at her as if she was a monster, and there were some people who were sweating in fear.
“A passionate relationship…yeah, it was really passionate. To get information out of me, we both pretended to be in a relationship.”
While people thought a romantic atmosphere was blossoming between Ms. Bargot and Zich, they were both merely gauging and spying on each other the whole time.
“Have I been found out?” Ms. Bargot stuck out her tongue as if she made a clumsy mistake. However, no one thought she was acting cute. “Because I put so much effort into spreading Igram around Ospurin, imagine my surprise when a random person just popped out of nowhere and found a cure for it. Of course, I would be curious about the person who found the cure.”
“Did I meet your expectations?”
“No, not at all. Don’t get me wrong—you are definitely a handsome and charming man. Even though your personality doesn’t seem all too great, I guess that can also be a part of your charisma. But your medical knowledge is barely above an amateur, and you are not the great person I expected. So I was a bit shocked—” Ms. Bargot talked softly as if she was talking to a lover, but then her voice turned sharp. “When you also found the cure for Galdurim.”
“I guess Galdurim is the name of the disease that infected the knights and soldiers.”
“I worked pretty hard on that disease. It’s easy to control, and when you are infected, it’s extremely fatal. Moreover, you experience intense pain, but your physical abilities exponentially increase for a short period of time.”
“You made that disease to control people like your underlings.”
“Wow! Your brain works fast! I shouldn’t have been relieved after finding out that your medical knowledge was subpar. What is actually dangerous about you is your keen sense and sharp judgment.”
To be honest, Zich’s memories from his past life helped him out a lot, but he didn’t feel the need to reveal this information when he was trying to uncover the truth. Moreover, it was true that Zich had keen senses and sharp judgment.
Ms. Bargot asked, “How did you know that the military force in Ospurin was ill?”
“On the day your group tried to kill me, you spread Galdurim to the villagers. Isn’t it suspicious that a rare disease suddenly appeared in a random village, and assassins with that drug appeared at the same time? It was most definitely planned. So I could deduce that the disease was probably manmade.”
Zich was great at making up stories. While completely leaving out information about his knowledge from his past life, Zich continued to spout believable lies with some truths mixed in.
“From then on, I began to grow suspicious of everyone around me. After Joachim went back to the castle, I maintained contact with his knights and subordinates. But at one point, they suddenly began to treat me strangely. This is just my advice, but you can’t expect good acting from Clovey or the knights in general. When they lie, it’s very easy for me to tell.”
“Thank you for your advice.”
Ms. Bargot glared at Shalom. It seemed as if he was in charge of leading and training the knights. His injured face, which had been twisted in pain, now looked guilty and apologetic.
“In order to completely control the villages, you were the one who gave the medicine to the villagers, right?” Zich smiled brightly.
“You are really impressive.” Ms. Bargot lifted both of her hands up as if she was surrendering. “It must have been very hard to analyze the medicine with the extent of your medical knowledge. Did you completely trick me? Or if not, did you receive help from that book again?”
Ms. Bargot’s tone indicated that she did not really believe he found the cure for Igram from a book. But Zich merely shrugged his shoulders.
“What a sneaky person.” Ms. Bargot stared at Zich with disdain. “Fine. Then the next thing I want to know is…”
When Ms. Bargot was about to ask another question, a loud shout cut her off. She frowned in annoyance.
“Sir Shalom, don’t you see that I’m trying to have a conversation?” With a displeased tone, Ms. Bargot reprimanded Shalom. However, Shalom shouted again.
“You have to run away right now! Their reinforcements are going to arrive here at any moment!”
True to his words, more soldiers and knights came outside the prayer room. After finishing up their work in other areas, more people were gathering around in this room. As expected, they felt ill will towards Shalom and Ms. Bargot who had spread infectious diseases around, and their eyes looked murderous. However, that was the reaction from people who did not know the full story. Joachim and a few of the soldiers who heard the full story from Shalom had more complicated looks on their faces.
“Sir, let’s first recall the soldiers.” Brod quietly approached Joachim and spoke to him. “More of the Count’s story might be revealed. It’s better for this to not get out.”
“Are you saying that we should hide this matter?” Joachim’s voice was full of disdain, but Brod shook his head. Since Joachim was intelligent, he probably knew why Brod wanted to limit the number of people who knew about the Count’s past. Out of his kindness and guilt, Joachim was just complaining a bit. But it was also Brod’s duty as Joachim’s advisor to correct his words and guide him to the right path.
“Sir, it will be better for you to have the choice to reveal or not reveal information about the Count. Moreover, we don’t know if Shalom’s words are true. Unnecessary misunderstandings might arise.”
Brod’s words were reasonable. Other than the people who had already heard about the Count’s heinous actions, Joachim ordered everyone else to get out of the prayer room. Then he firmly closed the door shut. Since the prayer room’s door had been thickly built to block out all additional sounds, there was very little concern that sound would seep out of this room. And while this was happening, Shalom was urging Ms. Bargot to escape.
‘Is that the escape door?’
Zich’s eyes headed towards a small hole in the wall across from him. That hole was probably the entrance of a secret passageway in the castle. Shalom probably used that secret passageway to go through the Count’s room and into the prayer room.
Brod made another suggestion. “Sir, why don’t you first capture those two? No matter what their reasons were, they harmed the Count and brought chaos and destruction throughout the whole estate. After we capture them, let’s discuss how to deal with them.”
“You bastards! Do you think that I would just watch!” Shalom stepped forward. Blood dripped out of his wounds, and because he didn’t even have time to get potions for himself, he bound his pierced chest with ripped pieces of cloth. Joachim, who suffered from hemophobia, took a step backward.
“Ms. Bargot! I will buy some time, so please run away!” Shalom gathered up his mana and a formidable energy poured out of his body. But whatever he did, it didn’t change the fact that he was just a bygone who had retired long ago from an injury.
Zich came out to fight him, and his sword battered Shalom’s sword.
Unlike Shalom, Zich’s legs were both able, and he could sustain the might of his own youthful power and strength. Just that would have been enough to push Shalom back, but the old knight’s body was also wounded all over. Shalom couldn’t have been more at a disadvantage than he currently was.
“Haaaaaaah!” Shalom shouted loud enough to shred his throat and struck a blow with all of his power. In his youth, it could have been a terrifying attack to crush his opponent. However, his current attack couldn’t even scratch Zich.
Zich’s kick landed on his stomach, and Shalom collapsed onto the floor. But Shalom didn’t let go of his sword.
Blood kept leaking out of the hole in his chest and strained his ability to breathe. Yet, Shalom continued to burn with a combative spirit.
“You can’t land a finger on her at all costs.” His low mutterings expressed his determination.
“Are the ones who took everything from her planning to humiliate her too?!” he shouted while coughing up blood. Shadows cast down his listeners’ faces, including Joachim’s. Although they couldn’t forgive what Shalom and Ms. Bargot did, they empathized with the feelings behind Shalom’s actions.
“No matter what happens, I will not hand her over to you!”
Shalom took out something from his cloak. Zich guessed what it was and clicked his tongue.
“You don’t carry around a potion with you, but you carry that around?”
Zich was sure that it was the item that Clovey used—the one that changed its drinkers’ body into a monster’s and increased their strength by multiple folds. Shalom drank it in one gulp.
“Please escape, Ms. Bargot!” Shalom carelessly threw his empty bottle and fixed the grip on his sword. Zich knew how bothersome it would be once Shalom turned into a monster.
“Before he transforms…!” Zich flung his body forward, and in the blink of an eye, Zich was right in front of Shalom.
“You bastard!” Shalom threw his sword. Because his body was in the middle of transforming, the sword flew unevenly and trailed off from its orbit without much power. However, his changing physique made up for losing his sword, and his fighting ability shot up as his strength greatly increased.
‘Still, it’s not like anything else increased other than his strength.’
Zich didn’t face the full force of Shalom’s attacks head-on and spread out the impacts. Shalom was already disheveled from transforming and lost his balance. His body expanded forward, and his chest shot out into clear view. Zich aimed and pierced his sword inside Shalom’s chest. Yet, Shalom didn’t block Zich’s attack. His chest was already coated in hardened skin, and Shalom planned to crush Zich flat as he fell.
‘It seems like he really has fallen behind the frontlines.’
Otherwise, Shalom wouldn’t have made a mistake like this. Zich’s sword penetrated the same wounded area that his Piercing Space attack just pierced. With Shalom’s body transformation, most of the wound was getting filled, but there were still gaps in between and Zich’s attack was fatal.
Zich’s sword crushed Shalom’s hard skin and penetrated his heart.
Shalom halted, and at that moment, Zich poured in a great amount of mana from his sword.
Waves of mana distorted Shalom’s internal organs, and blood spurted out of Shalom’s mouth.
Zich pulled out his sword.
Shalom’s body fell. His bodily transformations came to a stop and half of his body was still in human form. He looked so gruesome that it might have been better if he had completely transformed into a monster instead.
Joachim and his men, who had been watching the battle from behind, murmured in shock at Shalom’s grotesque appearance. Zich looked at Ms. Bargot again. She was watching the battle calmly.
“We can converse without distractions now.”
Surprisingly, Ms. Bargot smiled even after watching Shalom collapse to the ground although he tried his hardest to protect her. On the contrary, it seemed as if she felt refreshed, as if she had gotten rid of an aching tooth.
“You…! How could you say that about someone who acted for your sake!” Joachim shouted in anger. Even if Shalom had done unforgivable wrongs, he was working for everyone who died an unjust death. How could she, who shared his pains, speak so indifferently about him?
Shalom got up from the ground. He couldn’t move well since he was critically injured, and like a snail, he crawled on the floor with his arms.
He headed towards where Ms. Bargot was.
“Q-Quickly escape…” Shalom threw up blood. His voice cracked, but he didn’t stop talking and everyone’s eyes were focused on him. “I…will…block them somehow…so…”
He tried to grip his sword, but it slipped down his hand. He had no energy in any part of his body, but Shalom kept trying to grab his sword. Each of his movements seemed to show his desperate devotion to protecting Ms. Bargot. Yet, his feelings didn’t seem to reach Ms. Bargot.
“I don’t want to.”
Those words stepped and crushed all of Shalom’s efforts. Shalom looked up at Ms. Bargot and saw her indifferent eyes staring back at him.
“…Why?” Shalom asked anxiously.
“Why...I-I did it for you…”
“No.” Ms. Bargot shook her head firmly. “You didn’t act for me or the victims.”
“You did everything for your own sake.” Ms. Bargot smiled, and the upturned corners of her lips seemed to pierce into Shalom’s heart. “Isn’t that the case?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter