"Uhahaha! Yes! That’s it! That’s the face I wanted to see!"
The Unicorn that was on the verge of death, guffawed jubilantly. Like a donkey in a lion’s skin, it borrowed the true Commander’s power to hold its head high.
However, the Unicorn’s laughter didn’t last long.
For a simple reason.
"Good! Twisted Kindness! Teach these treacherous, impertinent inse—"
It was sent flying in the middle of his diatribe and made to tumble on the ground in an unsightly fashion, not by anyone from the expedition team, but by his fellow Army Commander, Twisted Kindness.
‘She attacked him?’
Seol Jihu doubted his eyes.
Raging Temperance snapped out of its daze and also stared dumbfoundedly.
"What is the meaning of this!?"
A cold voice cut him off. When Twisted Kindness looked down with a chilling gaze, the Unicorn quickly shrunk back.
"A weakling like you dares to order me around?"
"…Damn it! I’m not ordering you! I was talking as a fellow ally, who also serves the Queen!"
Twisted Kindness raised her eye. She looked as though she just heard the funniest joke of the century.
Gazing at Raging Temperance, she broke out into laughter.
"It doesn’t look like you have the slightest clue why the Queen threw you in here."
"How ridiculous! You actually have the galls to say that in your sorry state? Your actions are riddled with self-righteousness and egotism, so how can you shamelessly call yourself an ally?"
"You damned lizard…! I came here to conquer this realm under the Queen’s order!"
"Fufu, I don’t care if you hurt your mouth, but talk properly. I’m the one who invaded and conquered the Spirit Realm, not you. Do you realize how laughable those words are when all you’ve done is clean up remnants of the enemy?"
The Unicorn shut its mouth. Its face turned purple with rage, but it couldn’t find the words to retort with.
"That’s not all. If you’d acknowledged your limits and formed a proper army as the Queen suggested, I would have acknowledged you as an ally. But—"
Twisted Kindness paused for a moment, looked back and forth between the expedition team and the Unicorn, then snorted.
"You tried to imitate me and ended up ripping your crotch. That is why you are in such a pathetic state, o insignificant creature of the Spiritual Dimension."
"With such an obvious weakness, don’t you feel ashamed calling yourself an Army Commander?"
Twisted Kindness clicked her tongue and shook her head.
"The Queen is keeping you by her side only because she thinks highly of your experimental mind. Otherwise, she would have replaced you long ago. Have some shame."
The Unicorn lowered its head at the continued barrage of criticisms. Rather than agreeing and self-reflecting on them, it was very obviously wrought in a sense of inferiority.
Twisted Kindness shook her head as if she didn’t have any expectations in the first place.
"Anyway, the Spirit Realm is now within my jurisdiction. Don’t butt in without my permission. No, maybe it wouldn’t be bad if you did. That way, I’d finally have a reason to execute you."
After threatening the panting Unicorn, Twisted Kindness threw her gaze to the side.
The expedition team was quietly watching the two Army Commanders.
Running away was obviously impossible.
They didn’t say a single word, tired from the recent short but fierce battle. Now that Twisted Kindness had made her appearance, they knew fighting would be the same as hitting a rock with an egg.
But they had no intention of giving up so easily.
To recover the strength to fight, each breath was of utmost importance.
When their eyes met the formidable enemy in front of them, the tension they were feeling multiplied by at least a dozen times.
However, to their surprise, Twisted Kindness did not immediately make a move. She stared at the expedition team while tilting her head…
"…You all don’t look so good."
Then, she suddenly descended and sat down on the ground.
What was she doing sitting rather than fighting?
Everyone held their breaths at the enemy’s unexpected action.
A bombshell dropped in the next moment. No, her tone was too calm to call it a bombshell, but it certainly shook the expedition team with shock.
"W-What did you say?"
Even the Unicorn that was keeping its mouth shut after Twisted Kindness' intimidation, spoke up in shock.
"R-Rest? Did you finally go cra— Aaaaack!"
A scream burst out before it could even finish speaking. Twisted Kindness had waved her hand as though she was too lazy to deal with it, and the Unicorn’s stomach exploded and spilled out internal organs.
The Unicorn screamed in indignation, but quickly fell silent upon seeing Twisted Kindness' hand moving slightly.
"…What a shame. If only you uttered another word, I could have killed you once and for all."
It seemed she wasn’t kidding when she said she would execute him.
The Unicorn slammed its head on the ground and gritted its teeth viciously. While this would normally be a comedic scene that would make its audience burst out in a peal of laughter, no one found it funny with Twisted Kindness being the host of the show.
They could feel a sense of absolute authority from her words, the kind that would let her get away with saying or doing whatever she wished.
Was this the majesty of an absolute being?
"Now that I think about it…"
Twisted Kindness ignored the groaning Unicorn thoroughly and said as she stared at the expedition team.
"You humans were a cumbersome species that required various sustenance in order to live."
"It is fine. Rest. During this time, you can eat or even sleep."
Saying so, Twisted Kindness raised her left knee and placed her hand on it.
"Do not worry. As long as you do not try to leave my view, I will not touch a hair on your body until you fully recover. I vow on my name and the Dragon God’s honor."
Seol Jihu and the remaining members of the expedition team all furrowed their brows.
Perhaps feeling their collective gaze, Twisted Kindness tilted her head back in laughter.
"I’m telling you to eat, sleep, and recover and fight me when you’re fully prepared."
With that, she raised her hands outward in a shrug.
"Since I came all the way here, why can’t I enjoy myself a bit? With some of you looking like you’re on your last leg, I won’t be able to brag even if I annihilate you all."
In a way, this boldness of hers showed her faith in her own abilities. Perhaps it was the graciousness of an expert who could not find her match for a long time.
Thinking about it this way, her action wasn’t entirely nonsensical. It was just that—
"What will you do? I don’t mind fighting you now if that is what you want."
Seol Jihu almost ended up nodding.
Twisted Kindness' offer was without a doubt beneficial to the expedition team. But the reason he hesitated to accept it was because of an indescribable restlessness he was feeling inside.
Seol Jihu, who was paying close attention to the current situation, felt a sense of incongruity from her words. Though he could certainly say the enemy was showing kindness… it somehow felt warped and distorted.
Rather than doing them a favor, it looked like she was aiming for something else.
‘…I don’t get it.’
Racking his brain and hesitating, Seol Jihu’s eyes suddenly narrowed.
‘What is it?’
He couldn’t figure out Twisted Kindness' true intention, if there even was one. But seeing the furtive expectation in her joyous pupils, he made up his mind.
He wasn’t sure whether this was the right choice. It could very well be that Twisted Kindness was truly giving them a chance.
But he had a strong feeling that something would be too late once he accepted Twisted Kindness' offer. This ominous feeling told him— even if they achieved their goal and returned to Tigol Fortress, everything would be over.
So once he made up his mind, Seol Jihu tightened his grip on the Spear of Purity that was loosely being held in his hand.
Twisted Kindness' eyes lit up.
Knowing that they stood little chance…
“Prepare for battle.”
Seol Jihu squeezed out his voice and gave the command.
The expedition members didn’t say anything. Only the sounds of their weapons being raised were heard.
Twisted Kindness' eyes curled. She looked surprised, but did not say much and shrugged with a grin.
Standing up, she dusted her butt.
Revealing her teeth in a grin, she beckoned them.
The moment she took a step forward—
A fierce gale abruptly blew forward.
Appearing behind Twisted Kindness like a ghost, Oh Rahee struck down her blood-colored longsword. Concentrating all her energy in this movement, she had acted with a truly monstrous speed.
But what was even more surprising was that Twisted Kindness dodged it simply by slightly tilting her head to the side. Not to mention, she was still looking at the rest of the expedition team.
The longsword that missed its mark returned at an incredible speed, but this time, it was blocked by her arm.
Oh Rahee’s eyebrows twitched. She was using sword qi, but not even a scratch appeared on Twisted Kindness' arm.
However, Oh Rahee did not stop. Judging that a sneak attack was the only answer, she frantically swung her longsword.
Her quick sword flashed at a terrifying speed.
However, Twisted Kindness was unshakeable. Calmly walking forward, she only moved her arm to parry or block Oh Rahee’s flurry of attacks.
Oh Rahee continued to chase Twisted Kindness while attacking her, but her expression slowly loosened in a daze. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
Twisted Kindness shooed her away as if to chase away a fly.
What Oh Rahee saw next was a long, thick tail that struck her ribs.
Puk! Along with the sound of her skin bursting, Oh Rahee’s body was sent flying to the left like a bullet. Her body, arced like a bow, cut through the air like a ray of light before slamming into the ground.
Her longsword also spun in the air before helplessly plunging to the ground.
In the next moment—
The members of the expedition team rushed forward simultaneously. On the other hand, Twisted Kindness walked slowly. The contrast clearly showed the difference between the two sides’ power.
At that moment, Twisted Kindness abruptly bent her knees and lowered her center of gravity. Then, the moment she kicked off the ground, Chohong, who was running in the lead, widened her eyes.
A powerful gale suddenly blew against her. The moment she went “Ah”, Twisted Kindness rushed in front of her.
She didn’t punch or crash into Chohong. The wind pressure from Twisted Kindness' charge was all it took to send Chohong flying while screaming.
In that instant, Twisted Kindness' eyes moved in all directions. Before a single second could go by, she spread her arms out like two lightning bolts. Hoshino Urara and Hugo, who were about to strike down with their weapons, couldn’t utter a single cry as they were knocked back.
Threads imbued with holy power flew in swiftly and stealthily using this opening, but Twisted Kindness dodged the attack by raising her leg backward in a huge motion.
At the same time, she hastily moved her tail and snatched an arrow that was about to pierce her temple from the air. Then, she threw it back using the power of only her tail.
Flying back quicker than it initially flew over, the arrow easily pierced through Seo Yuhui’s urgently-crafted barrier and pierced Agnes’ stomach.
A sharp pain erupted. Feeling like her stomach was being ripped out, Agnes squealed while being pushed back.
It was then. While Twisted Kindness’ attention was taken, Baek Haeju and Phi Sora rushed in from opposite sides.
However, their sharply thrust spear and robustly swung longsword were stopped before they could reach their target.
Twisted Kindness had turned instantaneously and grabbed their weapons with her hands. Her leg was still raised behind her from the previous motion as well.
No matter how much they twisted or pulled on their weapons, they didn’t budge as though they were stuck inside a boulder.
Twisted Kindness clicked her tongue.
"You really must be tired, Sacred Empress."
She then raised her hands in an instant. Baek Haeju and Phi Sora were pulled up alongside their weapons, headbutting each other above Twisted Kindness’ head.
The two then lost their grasp over their weapons and fell to the ground while dripping down blood.
It was only then that Twisted Kindness let a breath loose and threw down the weapons in her hands.
As she slowly lowered her outstretched arms with her leg still raised back like a figure skater, she looked beautiful and gracious like a goddess of war.
Seol Jihu froze up following his instincts and dumbfoundedly gazed at Twisted Kindness lowering her leg.
He didn’t have any other choice. Having achieved some level of success in techniques and combat experience, he knew how amazing and mindblowing her movements were.
He couldn’t see a single superfluous movement. She had fought off several people using only the movements she needed. To Seol Jihu, it was like seeing water of 100 percent clarity, devoid of any impurity and filth.
"How about it?"
Twisted Kindness gave an alluring smile.
"Was that enough to demonstrate the clear difference in our abilities?"
"But I will admit that you have just gone through a fierce battle."
Twisted Kindness nodded her head and spoke in a soft voice that didn’t suit her.
"If you want to rest, you can. I will wait patiently. For the record, your comrades are all alive."
She was saying she didn’t kill them on purpose.
Seol Jihu’s face contorted.
His reason was telling him to accept this offer, but his instincts were fiercely rejecting it. Moreover, her pupils had been getting on his nerves since a while ago. Her gaze was filled with a furtive expectation, despite being able to kill him at a moment’s notice.
It was as if there was something she wanted to see.
Then, an inexplicable repulsion rose up from the bottom of his heart, and Seol Jihu clenched his teeth hard.
As he lit up his fighting spirit, the gentle smile on Twisted Kindness’ face became thicker.
"Ahahaha. I see. I thought it was the perfect situation to make it work, but it seems that changing the course isn’t so easy."
After muttering words that were hard to understand…
She lowered her stance again.
"If that is the path your constellation insists on taking—"
The curtains were raised…
"Prove to me that you have what it takes!"
…To the third of the four most brutal and desperate battles of Seol Jihu’s life in Paradise.Previous Chapter Next Chapter