Chapter 176: The One who Chooses and the One who Bestows
Ahh, what was this emotion? How should I name it?
Wanting to see her figure with my eyes was equal to bliss. Her voice felt like a slice of heaven. But, that’s why. That’s why this chest of mine was now exhaling with resentment as if something hurt my lungs.
「…Hey, hey. Give me a break. The woman I fell in love with is not as cheap as you are. It was a good dream, but it’s time for me to wake up.」
Heat kept melting my bone marrow, and my exhaled breath was so feverish that could no longer be considered as a mere sigh. Just moments ago, only cold air came out of my mouth. But now, it seemed the heat had entered my body from an unknown place and swallowed every remnant of cold air.
My field of vision, which should have been hazy, looked surprisingly clear. Was it due to extreme anger and resentment? Ah. Were those words truly the words that expressed the emotions burning in my heart?
I did not know the reason why, much less the truth. I did not know why this was happening now. The only thing I knew was that the one who was speaking to me now was definitely not Ariene. It was someone else. Even if the figure strongly resembled Ariene herself.
That’s why I felt feverish. That’s why I wanted to tear off that throat.
That’s right. Ariene was a person who would never describe my thoughts as useless. She was a woman who never ridiculed me. She always saw through my soul and encouraged me. That trait of hers never changed during my time with her at the orphanage or in the former journey.
I turned around and caught her figure with my own eyes. I couldn’t help but think that her appearance really resembled Ariene herself. But, something felt clearly different. Should I say the spirit or the soul? The invisible traits, but surely shaped as Ariene, were missing from the presence standing in front of me.
I opened my lips while staring at the unknown woman.
「What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue? You were having fun in ridiculing me just moments ago, so why did you stop? Was that the only thing that you can do?」
Yeah, that’s right. Only those who did not know other people’s efforts could ridicule others. Only cowards who could not shed their own blood could blame someone for bleeding.
And the person named Ariene was by no means such a person. Yes, I knew that she was someone kind and positive. Not only in the past, but also in the present, and even in the future.
「…You can laugh at me, coward. I don’t know who you are, but keep laughing until the end of your life. I don’t care, because the one who is a coward is you. Why, you ask? Because you can’t speak directly to me without borrowing another person’s appearance, eh?」
Words gushed out of my lips like a muddy stream.
My words had a completely different tone from the feminine heavenly tone that reached my ears. Every single word that I professed contained all sorts of dark emotions. I couldn’t stop my lips from moving.
But that’s just right. It wouldn’t be fun to bound my emotions with chains. Even if they were conveyed as mere words.
My breath was like fiery flames after gushing every single word out of my throat.
No wonder I was so angry and resentful. Someone used Ariene’s appearance to speak nonsense. How could this person disrespect the appearance of my dearest one? I could clearly feel the change in the words. A tone that did not belong to Ariene but had a similar voice.
…The way you are talking to me. Very hateful and full of conviction. I can see that you’ve held hands with Offal.
I couldn’t respond to those sudden words. Those words were out of context, yet they were strangely haunting my ears.
Who was Offal again? Ah, yes. I think the god of the Heraldic religion had such a name. But why did this person brought it here and now? I just didn’t understand it. The voice of someone whom I did not know echoed again.
「What’s up with your stoic face? Ah, this body. The Saint woman is close to me. There won’t be any problem if I borrowed a little of it.」
Body…Saint…Borrowed. When those words reached my mind, they transformed into a disarray. What was this person talking about? I did not understand. I did not clearly understand this person’s intentions nor words.
My feverish head tried to refuse to process that information. Suddenly, some possibilities came to my mind, but I wondered if some of them could be true. Some of them did not even make sense. There could be no such thing.
Contrary to my useless head, my body was eloquent. I moved my body sideways and grabbed the handle of my treasure sword hanged at my waist. My eyes were pulsing and quivering at the same time.
「Oh, such a scary gesture. There’s no need to linger your fingers on that sword. Am I not a coward per your words? There’s no need to be so hostile towards me.」
The words spoken by something that had the shape of the human being, Ariene, were quite light and thin. It seemed as if it had no hard feelings whatsoever. I was not sure if this sort of conversation had a meaningful purpose.
I tried to understating this person’s hidden intentions, but the voice that spilled from the lips seemed to be indifferent yet cunning. Why was the sound so fragile? Was it trying to make me lose my guard by using light words?
But my eyes did not stop quivering. My heart did not stop the strong palpitations, and my legs almost lost their strength. My body felt threatened.
「Ah, right. But you can’t do anything against me, anyway…After all, this body is, yes, the person you have been longing for, am I right?」
This person spoke nifty words right in front of my face. Worst. It spoke with a laughing face, Ariene’s face, despite not being her. Truly, really truly unpleasant.
My eyes were dazzling. My bone marrow burned and the pain that covered my whole body disappeared entirely. My fingertips remained strong and gripped.
「…Oh yeah, do you know? My hobby is to write scripts. You can try your best if you want, but I’m here because I want to write a good script as well. If I do so, everyone will be saved and happy. If everyone is happy, then it will be a pleasant and fun story. There are heroes, there are brave people, and there are saints. At the end of the day, everyone will be smiling.」
The person who looked like Ariene smiled cheerfully as she changed topics. I felt as if I were a pawn on this person’s game.
My clenched teeth made a shattering sound. I sensed my chin squeaking. Otherwise, I would’ve not been able of holding back the distorted feelings that engulfed my heart.
「I’ve decided on your role in that kind of story. It’s a very good role. Only you can do it. It’s a very, very important role. Everyone will feel happiness if…」
While muttering, the presence in front of me opened Ariene’s big eyes. The golden glow was looking straight into my face. Those words leaked from the distance where her lips seemed to overlap.
…You die alone in despair.
It was like a blessing. It was like a curse. The woman’s hands pushed my body away from hers. I felt that my body had lost all its weight. At the very end, she muttered those malicious words, while looking at me with wide opened eyes as I fell from the second floor.
For a brief moment, I thought her eyes said, “Please survive”.
This chapter was very interesting and crucial to the story. Not only Offal communicates with Lugis, but now we know that Altius has a direct relationship with Ariene, which means that both Lugis and Ariene are now enemies.
EDIT: Offal is the God of the Heraldic Order and Altius is the God of the Great Holy Church. Chapter 66 of Volume 4 gives a detailed description of these figures and what they represent in the story.
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!