TL: Apologies for the late update. Was distracted by something.
Chapter 52 – King of the Underground (3)
Brendel once again paused in a blank.
[What kind of ploy is this?]
But he finally realized what she meant and tested her with an additional question: “You mean to say you’ve lost your abilities as a Gold-ranked fighter?”
Scarlett’s eyes momentarily widened before she closed them with a defeated expression and nodded slowly.
“Oh, I see.” Brendel nodded like it was a natural thing.
This time Scarlett was confused. She had imagined Brendel’s reactions multiple times and was worried to hear his voice turn cold just like Makarov did in the past. But she did not expect his reaction to sound like he had solved a difficult puzzle!
“Ah, excuse me,” Brendel apologized sincerely.
He knew bad things were happening to Scarlett. There were signs of the Blood of Gods speeding up, and when she recovered her strength again, she might become a true God Acolyte. But there was no way he could tell it directly to her face.
“Can you stand up? Here, let me help you up.” He consoled her and extended a hand.
Scarlett looked at the hand in front of her in a daze before she nodded.
Brendel’s voice was soft, warm, and even a little sympathetic, but it was because of these words that she felt like her defenses to her heart were being cut away.
Tears spilled out from the corners of her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Brendel became flustered when he saw her tears.
The young girl continued to cry silently before she suddenly woke up from her daze. She sniffed through her nose to stop her emotions and wiped away her tears weakly. When she realized how she acted, her face immediately flushed red.
“Nothing, it’s b-because it’s too painful…… My lord.” Scarlett turned her head away and answered a little unwillingly.
Brendel cried inwardly at once.
[Your excuse is just awful…… Do you think you look like you’re crying because you’re in pain? You might as well say that you’re flustered because you’re trying to hide your pain!]
He was not a fool and was vaguely aware what the girl was thinking about. Even though he did not know what she thought of the people in her past, her silence was unable to mask the fact that she was trying to escape reality. She had not accepted her situation and was still stuck in her memories, and regarded the world with fear and distrust. In the end, she had no choice but to confront her circumstances, and was immediately swallowed up by isolation.
“Can you stand up?” He said again.
Scarlett nodded weakly and attempted several times to get up to her feet. But even with his assistance, the immense pain caused her to whimper and kneel down.
Brendel felt sorry for her. She was clenching her teeth and tearing up at the pain. It was not as if he had never seen a woman cry, but she was much tougher than the noble ladies in the game who teared up easily.
“Here, let me carry you. There’s no need to keep on trying.” He said. He was still a man after all.
They could not stay here for long. Even though he did not know what was Medissa and Kodan’s situation, but their mission would fail if the old man returned to the surface. He had to fight for every second.
“How can I do…… that?” Scarlett was completely stunned.
Which Lord or commander would do this? But she quickly corrected herself. Makarov would do it for Eke because the latter was the son of a duke.
[Perhaps Makarov saw me as someone who’s even less important than Redi because I was an Iron-ranker back then. Damn it! I feel disappointed—]
Once she thought of the detestable youth with white hair, she felt sick in her stomach. There were no tears shed when Brendel ordered his death.
[But why is this young lord willing to bother with me? I’m not popular with the remaining Grey Wolves Mercenaries like Sanford is, and I don’t think I’m pretty enough to catch his eyes….. His fiancee is much better looking than me. And I have never seen him even seeking the pleasures of the flesh from anyone. His actions stop at teasing his fiance…… Right now, I’m nothing but a burden right now.]
“…… There’s no need to waste your time with me, my lord. You need to get Kodan right now, and once you do, you can come and rescue me,” she shook her head vigorously, before she said with some hesitation, “I’m a mercenary, and I won’t feel too scared. If you would kindly leave me with a l-light crystal……”
Brendel sighed inwardly with exasperation. It was clear that Scarlett was feeling scared. It was still an unknown problem whether he was able to find his way out, and even if he did, he would have to take several hours. But the biggest problem was not leaving a defenseless girl behind; it was the danger that Scarlett might turn into a God Acolyte once he left her.
“You’re bleeding too much. It would be dangerous for you if you’re still here.” He did not reveal the truth to her and dodged the subject.
“That’s fine; perhaps this is Mother Marsha’s will. There’s no need for you to keep holding on to a burden—” She paused for a moment, smiled a little, and her voice became softer: “But I should thank you, my lord. The fact that you didn’t abandon me is enough….. I can’t be selfish, right?”
Brendel stared at Scarlett’s misty, seemingly hollow eyes.
[Makarov must have really hurt her by sending the Grey Wolves Mercenaries to their deaths and refusing to acknowledge her. She’s a pitiable person, but I don’t have a solution for her curse. ]
“…… Everlasting regret.” His words came out like a soft sigh of lament.
He closed his eyes and dove in his memories of the game for a full minute, while Scarlett looked restlessly in confusion at him before he opened them:
“Perhaps you think that if you live in Aouine’s time of peace, you wouldn’t need to go through with this melancholic fate— But is there a moment where Aouine is truly peaceful?
This continent is constantly at war and chapters are written in history books like epic poems. The flames from the wars burn cities to the ground, countless bones are piled up, and the bloodshed is like a river that flows endlessly. People band together to become stronger in order to survive, but at the same time they have to pursue pragmatism.
Eventually, bonds are weakened and the warm feelings between people disappear. Society is left with nothing but ice-like cruelty and machine-like efficiency.
Civilians rebel all the time because of the useless nobles governing the kingdom, but their resistance is unable to pull down their authority. Why? Because the thing that matters is power.
The strong rule and the weak ought to die.
Your story is not the only example on this continent. There are thousands of you and thousands of Sifrids, and many people on this continent are more unfortunate than you are.
I don’t have the power to change their fates, because I cannot change the natural rule where the mighty rule over everything. This world is much harsher than the fairy tale that I know of called Earth.
However, I think I might be able to lend a hand to the person who is in need in front of me.
So why are you not asking me for help?”
He wished to save the people that he was familiar with in the world. The princess, the Goddess of War, the many, many people who sacrificed their lives for this kingdom. He desired to rewrite history.
“…… I—” Scarlett was still hesitating, but the light was returning to her eyes, and Brendel noted it.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m a selfish person. My self-serving wish is to save this kingdom. I cannot tell if it’s going to hurt people, and I might even hurt even more innocents than the nobles you see right now. Perhaps the innocent citizens of this kingdom, or from Kirrlutz, or the nations to the far north.
However, I don’t want to see tragedy befall on the people I know in front of me because I don’t think I can ignore my heart…… If a hand is not enough, you can have my back. Let me carry you.”
Brendel added his last two sentences as Scarlett glanced at the injury on her thigh, but she was still hesitating even though she looked ready to accept his aid.
“No, wait, are you refusing because of…… Don’t worry; I’m not going to take advantage of you.” Brendel was already tearing up because he was cringing inwardly from the speech he made. Maybe she was refusing because she did not want to be carried in the first place.
“Ehhh?! No, it’s just that—” Scarlett felt the blood rushing to her cheeks and shook her head repeatedly.
“Then there’s nothing else to be said.” Brendel was growling with impatience and shame, and he scooped her up with both hands, ignoring her frightened squeaks.
She did not expect Brendel to be so forceful. She shrank in his arms as her blush extended to her ears, and became silent.
[H-he said he wouldn’t take advantage of me…… I-isn’t this the legendary ‘bridal carry’?]
She had dreamt of Eke carrying her to the cathedral someday more than once back with the mercenaries, but it quickly became a fantasy with the appearance of Yula. But she never expected someone to carry her, although it was a little odd because she was being carried around in a dark tunnel.
She brought her head to rest on Brendel’s chest. Even though her heart was beating fast, she felt a sense of safety.
[He’s different from Eke. He makes me feel like I’m safe and I can trust in him. I’m sure Miss Amandina and Romaine feel the same way…..]
She finally understood why the number of people around him continued to increase in the past few months. His connections and abilities were indeed outstanding, but it would not explain why the people around him would choose him over the other nobles.
[Maybe Mother Marsha hasn’t completely abandoned me. I’m lucky enough to meet a lord like him.]
She still felt a little sad about losing her powers. She was not a smart person and finding her powers again would not be an easy task. She shook off her thoughts and decided to take one day at a time. Brendel’s actions had calmed her down.
But his current thoughts were secretly pondering on her lifespan, which could be a matter of a few days or even just a few hours.