Chapter 54: Three Choices
「Thought-inducing magic? I can’t use that type of magic. I never seen it in any book nor did I heard it from someone else’s mouth.」
Filaret spoke the harsh truth while she crossed her arms.
I knew that my face turned pale blue when I heard her words.
I couldn’t “swallow” the words she had spoken. My throat was dry and it hurt. My reasoning became slightly dull.
If her words were true, then the plan to empathize with the inhabitants of the Poor People’s cave would certainly collapse from the very beginning.
「…Ah, well. Maybe that magic’s name is different. Anyways, that magic is a special type of magic that manipulates a person’s consciousness with the scent of a very distinctive flower.」
I recalled a peculiar but very interesting thing that happened during my days on the Journey of Salvation.
A strong dweller of magic could invoke this special magic by creating scented petals from its thin fingertips. Then, with the power of a magical wind, the scented petals spread a fragrance that could calm people down amidst a turbulent chaos. I remember that in the past existed a track of records that the Gharast Kingdom used this magic to stop the riots of the population that broke out in the country.
With that type of witchcraft, I assumed that it could be easy to convince the inhabitants of the Poor People’s cave to agree with the uprising of the Heraldic order and participate with them on this impeding revolution.
Actually, I took a risk. Indeed, it was unpredictable to guess if Filaret was even aware of that special magic, or if she could even use it in the first place.
「I can’t use it. Actually, I don’t even know how. That magic sounds like a spell that can affect people’s thoughts. So, that means that it’s a rare spell that’s not easy to reach. Besides…」
Her black eyes moved away from my line of sight. It was as if her gaze ran away.
Her thin fingers quivered for a little moment. Her lips opened and closed repeatedly as if she was trying to find the right words to speak. Apparently, she had some difficulty to say the words that were engraved on her mind. To be precise, she felt a little hesitant.
After some uneasiness, the words finally came out of her throat.
「You see…I can’t use witchcraft right now…At least, I can’t use it against Garoua Maria…」
Those words didn’t go well with the atmosphere of the room. Rather, it was somewhat awkward and a mistake at the same time. I saw a glimpse of Filaret’s eyes looking at my gaze. Yet, soon, she moved her eyes away from mine once again.
For a second, everyone in the room didn’t move or speak as if they were frozen. Nobody blinked his or her eyes. Actually, it looked as if their eyeballs were glued.
I heard Largud Ann’s voice when she took a deep sigh. Somehow, her voice warmed up the awkwardness that filled the room, and I managed to open my mouth and say the following words.
「Ah…I see. Actually, it’s no surprise. But, it’s a bit strange, you know. I’m sure that God wasn’t the one that saved me back then. I know it was you. But, why? If you’re not willing to help me now, why did you save me from that perilous situation?」
In other words, she probably made a bet with Helot Stanley in order to save my life back then.
When I spoke those words, Filaret touched her chin nervously. Every time our gaze met with one another, Filaret moved her eyes away immediately. She was definitely avoiding my gaze.
It couldn’t be helped though. I was probably asking her to do too much this time. It was already good enough to rescue me from death. She was courageous, since she had the guts to save me on her own. There should be some sort of compensation for her actions. Rather, I was sure that some sort of collateral was considered back then. Yes, an exchange or transaction for my life since I wasn’t killed nor arrested on the spot.
Although I could draw Helot’s intention to a certain extent, I was a little curious to see how his justice influenced his judgment during that time. Considering the Lizard’s rampage, perhaps his ideal of justice created some room for an exception.
If so, then there was no reason for me to make hasty decisions.
「I’m not blaming you or anything. I was just curious, that’s all. Besides, if you don’t feel comfortable about helping me with that sort of method, then we should try to find a different solution.」
That’s right. I shouldn’t blame Filaret for refusing to help me with this task. So, I tried to speak without thorns in my words as much as possible.
Filaret’s dark eyes were a little bit teary. But, as soon as I said that sentence, her complexion changed. It would be cruel to blame her for doing her best to save me.
However, contrary to the softness of my words, my heart was panicking. I felt unmistakable frustration that overflowed from my chest. This frustration was constant and kept coming through my veins without stopping.
Bad. This was the worst. Even though my words said otherwise, I perfect knew that, in regards to the persuasion of the inhabitants of the Poor People’s cave, I needed Filaret’s magic.
Without that special magic of the floral scent, it won’t be possible for me alone to convince these poor people’s hearts with uncertain hopes for the future. I would only persuade them with the power of that magic.
After I stared at Filaret’s gaze, I looked closely at Ann.
Her slightly muddled expression told me a different story. Actually, she was waiting for other solutions to fix up this problem.
「…There are two choices. 」
I raised my two fingers in response to Ann’s muddled expression.
I wouldn’t say it were good ideas. Rather, they were more suspicious than great proposals to fix this situation.
It wasn’t lack of self-confidence that I remembered these options. This was a survival plan, a plan that I thought behind the darkness. I covered my mouth with my hands before I spoke in order to appease the bursting feelings. Ann and Filaret closed their lips and stared fixedly at me. They were eager to know what I was going to say.
「First. I think we should give up on this place. In short, the Poor People’s cave should not even function in the first place. That’s what I think at the moment.」
I took the chewing tobacco out of my pocket and put it on my mouth. Both of their eyes were widely open as if they were stabbed by piercing knives. I guess they expected a different answer.
Ann was probably aware of why I suggested this option. She must’ve already considered the worst possible scenario. I’d dare say that, in the long term, it will be our loss if we don’t make a choice.
I went to the other side and leaned against a high chair. Then, I explained the following.
「In other words, we should be targeting the Poor People’s cave first. This area is a place that lacks self-defense. They don’t even have a prevention system in place against disasters. It will “burn well”. And everyone will die for sure. The whole Poor People’s cave will turn into a crematorium.」
Ann couldn’t hide her astonishment as she narrowed her eyes. Filaret was speechless as if she were upset with my reasoning.
Naturally. It wasn’t a good choice. However, it wasn’t possible to arrange a nice option given the current circumstances. We didn’t have the luxury to think of a perfect choice. Right now, our souls were dirty in trying to find a solution for this mess.
Actually, when I was trying to use the battlefield perspective for my own reasoning. I knew that my decision was rash and horrifying. But, even if my soul was dirty, my mind was clear and clean. Someone had to do something about this.
Still, if there really were a spiritual world after death, then the angels would definitely not welcome me into their sacred realm. However, I’d rather live the way I want while God is miserably trampled on. I was sorry about these thoughts of mine. But, I’d rather step into a dangerous zone than die dejectedly without doing anything. Yes, I would gladly spit in God’s hand if I had to.
「That’s not the choice I want to hear, hero. Even if the capture of Garoua Maria is guaranteed by the downfall of the Poor People’s cave, the city won’t survive for long. The problem will remain. The city will become dysfunctional even on the hands of the Heraldic Order, and it’s legacy will be lost forever.」
Ann disagreed with this last resort. On the other hand, Filaret sharpened her lips while blinking her eyelashes.
When I saw the wrinkles between her eyebrows, I realized that she was probably against this idea as well.
「Why don’t you try to change their mind with words? A good general transforms any weak soldier into a strong soldier with a single word. In fact, you’re a great talkative person.」
Filaret’s voice quivered a little bit as she tried to find a better solution. She was probably upset with me because of my unreasonable choice. But, I didn’t want to rely on her suggestion alone. I was sure that words weren’t the solution for this problem.
「Well…That was the second choice. But, it’s a hopeless choice. I fully understand their feelings. I was like them in the past. They don’t have any more power on their hearts to grab something as a vague hope. That’s just a dream for them, and nothing more.」
I appreciated to hear Filaret’s opinion. Still, it wasn’t a feasible solution.
Well, she was a foreign and beautiful girl. If she spoke gentle words, there may be people who’d listen to her. Or maybe even Ann too. Ann had amazing interpersonal abilities because of her merchant relationships and economical insight. Most probably, she’d have a few things to say that could resonate with the poor people.
But, I wasn’t like them.
「Filaret. You are mistaken about one thing. Words don’t have the power to move people’s hearts.」
I took a small breath before I spoke to Filaret. I inhaled the smoke of the chewing tobacco. A fragrant flavor spread throughout my lungs.
「Listen, there’s no power in words. The important thing is not “what” one said, but “who” said it.」
“A good general transforms any weak soldier into a strong soldier with a single word.” However, it wasn’t his word that transformed that said soldier. It was because of who he was, so when he spoke that single word, his status weighted heavily in his word.
What if an ordinary person said the same word? Even if the word were the same in language and tone, the way the soldier would perceive it would be completely different.
Yes, there was no power in words. Words cannot change people nor alter circumstances. I knew it very well given my own experience in life.
There were many times that my words made sense and that my logic was correct. Yet, everything I said was thrown into the mud. How many times had I been stigmatized? How many times had I been completely ignored?
No one listened to my correct words. No one tried to listen to me even though I was right. Yes, even though I was a person with feelings and opinions.
Everyone listened to the person they wanted to listen to. Ah, yes. That was the natural way a human would react. Even though I had the right argument, my words didn’t have enough power because I was nobody.
I narrowed my eyes and my face stiffened when I reminded myself of my old days. The pain that crawled from my bones was strangely familiar.
「Listen, you’re not alone. 」
At that time, the air in the room felt heavy, and Filaret’s voiced echoed in the room.
I slowly raised my face. I saw that Filaret didn’t joke nor did she say a lie. She wasn’t plotting anything. She just spoke from her heart.
Her little lips opened up again.
「You know, Lugis. I’m here to hear your words. Anything you say, be it incredibly smart or be it unreasonably senseless. Really. So, don’t hesitate. I will be extremely grateful from my heart if you confide your feelings with me.」
After she spoke, I noticed that her cheeks were slightly red.
What was this joke? What did she just say about me? Was she praising me? Don’t tell me that Filaret La Volgograd praised me? I clearly remember that her past self didn’t even try to acknowledge the existence of my words.
She approached me by taking a small step. My line of sight was raised unintentionally, and my eyes were swallowed by the deepness of her black eyes.
「I don’t want you to say that you can’t do it because you don’t have the power to do it. Yes, you shouldn’t give up on yourself. I won’t allow you to end up as a lead person. I vowed to myself that you’d be recognized as a golden person, even if I had to twist the laws of this world.」
Filaret brought her eyes closer. The distance between her and me was dramatically reduced. I could see my reflection on her dark eyes. It was as if our sights were about to cross each other. It was such a small distance between us.
Then, Filaret whispered to me in a voice that even Ann couldn’t hear.
“…Yes, even if you want to run away from here, its fine. If you decide on this choice, I’ll make the necessary arrangements for your escape path.”
What she said to me was likely the third choice for this problem.
Her sweet voice felt like she tangled my pulsating heart directly with her fingers. Such a sound squeezed the strings of my spirit as if it moved my entire existence.
Her small hand touched my wounded heart. This wasn’t any kind of magic. But, it felt like it. Yes, it felt as if my mind was fully manipulated by a special magic.
I wondered why I didn’t feel pain running through my bones and spine. Not anymore. I could only feel a warm feeling from the inside.
What to do, when all the girls you hate… start to love you.
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