Chapter 196: Shaking Balance
「I think showing your back and going down the road is one option too.」
Filaret muttered while moving her hands consecutively. What was she talking about? Did she want me to reconsider my decision? I was against unnecessary bargaining.
「Bro, what is Sis talking about? 」
I unknowingly shook my head towards Wood.
Wood, a former slum dweller in the outskirts of Garoua Maria who called me brother, now lived inside the walls along with his sister. Looking at the room with a creaking floor, it seemed that he didn’t get a good house yet, but it was still good enough compared to the slums.
Even after I got my own room in the fort, I occasionally came to visit Wood’s residence.
The humans living in the fort were neither evil nor murderous, but they always emanated a heavy aura. It was not bad in a way. Rather, it felt great that some people protected the fort with all their might. Because of their strong wills, they lived every single day of their lives with a sense of tension. However, that alone was too suffocating.
Compared to that cramped fort, it felt especially soothing for me to interact with people from a similar background as mine, such as Wood and his sister Sereal. It felt as if I was relaxing my bones.
That’s why I often came here to have a chat with them and bring some souvenirs. However, there was one intruder today. Filaret La Volgograd, the woman sitting in front of me across the table.
「I don’t think you’ve decided yet, Lugis. Yes, on your future. As I said, showing your back is one of your options, sure, because otherwise, you won’t have many other options.」
Filaret opened her hands on the round table, while saying those words. I instinctively frowned and tilted my head lightly. Then, I spoke to her.
「I know which role I have to play. I decided it for myself. So why are you talking about showing my back? Why are you saying I won’t have many other options?」
I sharpened my lips to imitate Caria, who was not here, and threw the cheese I brought as a souvenir in front of Filaret.
I came here to give it as souvenir to both Wood and Sereal. But if it would appease Filaret’s mood, then I wouldn’t mind giving it to her instead. Besides, I could visit them whenever I wanted.
「I doubt you’ve decided on which role to play. I can see that you think everything was done right. You think you’ve made things simple in the end, am I not correct?」
With that said, Filaret lifted her lips a little. I felt confused. Was this questioning a perpetrator’s case? I would like to think that I was the victim here.
The black eyes that were looking straight at me had a strange brilliance. The brilliance, combined with her black hair, shined extremely well, and my gaze was involuntarily taken aback by such strange phenomenon. Since the days of my past travels, Filaret had occasionally shown facial expressions and brilliance from her eyes that humans in the west did not portray.
Perhaps, this mysterious charm was possessed by humans from the east.
The sweet smell of wine stroked my nostrils.
「For me it’s quite obvious, you know. Whether it’s the Heraldic Order or Ghazalia, they have no intention of letting you go anymore. It’s all good for now, because both the Heraldic Order and Ghazalia are joining hands. But eventually, the day will come when people will ask you which side you are on.」
Filaret made it seem as if those two forces were seeking my head. Her eyes even squinted. The emotions floating in her black eyes seemed to be somewhat easygoing, yet they seemed to contain some frustration as well. Filaret could not express her emotions well.
「What the hell. Then, it all depends on Lugis bro in the end.」
Wood opened his thick lips and crushed the roasted beans with a loud noise.
Wood seemed to like the beans as well as the chicken that Filaret brought as souvenirs. No, actually, the fatty chicken was for his sister, while the beans were for him along with the bread she brought as well.
Filaret bounced her black hair slightly and narrowed her eyes a little further so that she could see my soul somewhere far away. I put the roasted beans that were spread on the table in my mouth. The beans would have been extremely salty, but they didn’t taste salty at all. I wondered if my tongue was slightly numb.
「So, Lugis. I wonder what you’ll do. I’m sure that everyone will ask you to make a decision. You will have to be determined when you make that decision. That’s your duty. 」
I couldn’t open my lips to respond to Filaret’s words. I just got my lips a little wet with the wine poured from the pottery. This wine had a very light taste.
Next to me, Wood was listening to Filaret’s words with his eyes wide open.
「It may be a useless worry, but it feels like you’re writing a script without knowing when you’ll write your name in it.」
Filaret’s black eyes, which seemed to have a mysterious atmosphere, looked right straight at me. I saw my figure reflected in her black eyes. I just couldn’t stand the pressure that her eyes emanated. I unknowingly opened my lips and said, “I wonder about that”.
Apart from the ongoing pressure of her eyes, I still understood that Filaret was not attempting to hunt me down. She wasn’t trying to push me away. But, somehow, every time Filaret’s words hit my earlobes, it felt like the depths of my chest were getting stiffer.
「But, well. I’m not going to let you run away anymore. But if you try to run away… 」
In the end, just like the days of the past journey, I tried to obtain a mighty future with my own hands but to no avail. I did accomplish many great things in this current timeline, but that future was still far away from my grasp. That’s why I had to keep moving forward. If I waited for it to happen, then the end that kept burning my chest could occur again, and only the scorching marks for having “given up” would remain.
Ah, that’s why it felt bittersweet. The biggest emotion that was driving me now was the ending that I wanted to avoid. In other words, the past, which could be called as acid itself, was forcing my legs to move.
Filaret spoke those words while moving her shoulders, and then, she finished her phrase by putting her face closer to mine.
「…Then do it. But, be careful not to act foolishly. Because running away with no purpose is the same as acting foolishly, Lugis.」
Filaret’s clear face was right next to mine. I couldn’t help but divert my eyes from her gaze. I felt as if my heart was numb somewhere. I wanted to get out of her sight, but couldn’t. I was sure that my face looked distorted now.
On the other hand, Filaret’s expression, which was up close, seemed to include some margin. How strange. I thought that the Filaret from this era was more conscious of my words than before.
The sound of swallowing spit rang in my throat. Filaret’s voice echoed in my brain.
「I know that I am not as strong as Caria, Matia, and Eldith. I know very well how difficult it is to be someone feeble and how much that reality can tear you apart.」
She spoke with a plain voice. Yet, it was not a voice without emotion. It was a voice that told the facts as they were.
「People can’t be strong that easily. How hard it is to be mediocre. And I know very well that if we try to show our weak self strongly, we will end up with scarred souls. 」
Her black eyes, which gave off a strong light, showed a slight dullness. I couldn’t really read her intentions behind those words, but I could understand their meaning.
Should I feel sorry for her, or should I be grateful for letting her utter these words? Should I let this conversation go on?
How useless. My lips were not going to open anytime soon. If I tried to snort even a little now, the torrent of emotions would come out as waves.
「I apologize for speaking this way to you. Anyway… 」
Filaret continued to speak, moving her lips in a distorted manner as if she felt a little embarrassed.
「…I will be on your side no matter what judgment you make. I just want you to rest assured, that’s all. If you want to be strong and a hero… I will make you golden for certain. 」
How beautiful. Her black eyes were undeniably beautiful. I even felt as if her eyes were entangling mine.
I was sure that I should return the words now. It did not matter if I was grateful or if I felt apologetic. I should return the words. But my chest was so tight that my throat didn’t emit any sound.
Therefore, I didn’t say anything at all and listened to the next words that Filaret whispered in my ear.
…And if you want to escape, rest assured. I’ll always create a path for you to escape.
The sound that leaked from Filaret’s lips was so sweet that melted the back of my ear.
Wow, such crazy devotion, or should I say obsession. Is it me or the girls developed toxic and dangerous feelings for Lugis? I also wonder if these girls had the same feelings for Helot Stanley in the previous timeline…I wished the author explored the past a bit more.
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!