As soon as the ground collapsed, Rita’s mother pulled me into her arms.
And we were in each other’s embrace as we fell down the cliff.
My body was hurt.
It hurt so terribly much.
However, the pain was brief.
As we rolled down the cliffside for a long time, we eventually stopped at the base.
I looked at the woman lying next to me, but she was not moving.
With my mind thrown off into such confusion, my body’s pain was pushed to the back.
The red stain pooling beneath her foretold the tragedy.
Disbelief colored my eyes as I looked at her.
‘…Madam, please wake up.’
Her expressionless face was tranquil.
Once upon a time, she would look at me only with a tear-stricken face, but now, it was dry.
No, it was still wet.
The red liquid, which had pooled beneath her head, soon flowed down her forehead.
I wiped and wiped at the blood that persistently covered the woman’s face.
Even after wiping it off, the red stain was only smeared where my hand passed, and the red streaks would not go away.
Tears streamed down my own eyes.
My throat was so closed up that it felt like I was about to die.
‘Madam… Madam, Madam! M… Mo… Mother! Mom! Mom, you can’t.
you can’t, Mom.
Mom… Mom, aauugh!’
Cradling her in my embrace, I wailed.
Her body gradually turned cold.
She was the one who always wailed, but this time, it was me.
Was this vengeance against me
Vengeance for daring to take over Rita’s body
Then, it was successful.
Grief-filled cries echoed amidst the forest that night.
As the pitch-black sky slowly turned dark purple, someone’s feet stopped in front of me.
He appeared before me silently.
And, he smiled as his eyes were transfixed on me.
‘You must have had enough now.
Come, let’s go, Rita.’
If you want a proper burial for your poor mother…
‘Let’s stop this game now.’
There was still a smile on his lips, even as he whispered such cruel words.
A beautiful smile, as beautiful as a rose.
I told Cassion everything about the death of Rita’s mother.
As the story went on longer, Cassion gradually turned ashen.
Across his pallid face, anger and sadness surged.
Thinking that I would have had the same reaction as him, I laughed bitterly.
“And so she died.
I died as well.”
I said this with an awkward grin, but Cassion’s expression changed again as he heard this conclusion.
Blankly, as though he was staring off into space.
“As I was bent on screwing that man over, I gritted my teeth and deliberately died.
I thought that if I died on my own terms, this exhausting cycle of transmigration would stop.
But it didn’t.”
“But I was alright with it.
I figured that it’s worth living in this world.
That man’s not here, and that’s all I could ever ask for.”
Even still, I remained cautious against the things that could come.
I tried not to repeat the same mistakes that I had committed.
So as not to let another tragedy to happen, I did not vainly yearn for family.
Thus, in this iteration, I lived just for the sake of living.
“He followed me.
As history repeats itself, that infernal bastard will try to have me in his clutches yet again.”
A trembling sigh followed the hate-filled murmur, and after that, only a shallow echo remained in the cave.
The kind of silence that you would hear in the middle of the deep, unfathomable sea.
Blue that couldn’t remain blue, dark blue that would turn black instead—that kind of silence.
Amidst this quietude, I laughed coldly.
‘How am I supposed to end this connection with that disgusting bastard once and for all…’
With that thought in mind.
“…So, what are you going to do” Cassion asked.
In turn, I answered with a shrug.
“I’m not sure.
He’s the one who came after me, so maybe I should drag him back so he’s out of my sight.
Or… I could run away again.”
His voice was urgent this time.
“Yes, it would be simple to do.
I can just die again.
At the end of it all, I’ll wake up in another person’s body anyway.
He wouldn’t be interested in a world where I’m not there.
He might follow me again, but… If I just keep on running forever…”
“Would you be alright with that, truly”
The unexpected question rendered me speechless.
Smiling sardonically as I stared into the air, I turned to face him.
But he spoke up first with a firm expression.
“Do you truly wish to run away forever like that”
“Really, I’m asking you.
Being chased like that for the rest of your life, trembling with anxiety at all times.
Truly, is that what you want”
Do I sincerely want that
At my weak answer, Cassion nodded.
“Why would you run away The one who’s sinned is that son of a b*tch, so why do you have to die as though you’re the sinner You said this place is nice.
You said it’s worth living here.
Then live here. I don’t know what it was like while you were living as Rita, but at present, the you that I know is strong.
You’re stronger than anyone else.
You’re strong enough that you can stand tall without the need to run away.
He trailed off.
The firm resolve in his eyes as he looked straight at me disappeared, and what’s left were slowly blinking eyes.
And, he smiled with such sadness as he said,
“Don’t run away.
Don’t go… please.”
More than anything, it sounded like a plea.
“I’ll help you.
So that you can completely be rid of that son of a b*tch.”
Soon, moisture formed on the eyelashes of his black eyes.
“I know that I’m being selfish, but now, I… I can’t imagine a life without you.”
Turning crimson, the tears in his eyes soon trickled down his cheeks.
And those tears went on for a while after.
“…You and I… just like idiots…”
Uttering empty words, I cried with him.
Quiet sobs resounded in the cave.
There was a question that I wanted to ask him, but I didn’t.
‘Do you believe this absurd story This time again, are you just going to trust me’
Strangely, it felt like asking this would be useless.
This man believes me.
And he will continue to believe me.
Just his conviction in me filled up my empty heart.
After crying with Cassion for a long time, I couldn’t hold back the sudden burst of laughter bubbling at my throat.
I feel so relieved.
It’s the first time in my long life that I told anyone this secret.
‘You’re a fake.’
‘You’re not my family.’
It’s not that I got found out and now, shaking in fear.
I said this secret with my own mouth, of my own volition.
It felt as if I was the main character of a certain fable.
Once upon a time, a barber came across an unspeakable secret, but got so very frustrated by not being able to say it—thus, dug a pit on the ground to shout that very secret there.
The king has donkey ears! he shouted.
That’s exactly what I had done.
Dig and dig and dig.
After digging up an unfathomable hollow, it felt as if I had shouted the truth there.
‘If that’s the case, then Cassion is my hollow.’
This made me laugh again.
After that weak laugh, the corners of my lips trembled.
We looked at each other.
Here, in this damp cave.
With the crackling of the bonfire.
A wounded man and a wounded woman, awakening from a nightmare.
Why did this absurd situation feel so calm and peaceful
I slowly raised my hand and wrapped it around Cassion’s cheek.
It was still cold.
I brushed the tip of my thumb underneath one tearful eye.
The tears running down his cheeks moistened my hand.
Soon, he also staggeringly brought one hand up.
And he, too, brushed the tears under my eye with his slightly rough fingertip.
It was as if I was standing at the bottom of the hollow, and up above, all I could see was his dark gaze.
Something inside me felt strange.
It felt as if my heart had stopped, but then jumped once again.
The tips of my fingers and toes felt numb, but then it felt like my blood had come to circulate through them once more.
One thing was certain, however, and it was this—that this man in front of me looked ever so lovely.
At first glance, his ears hidden by his dark blue hair looked red.
Perhaps because of the bonfire.
“Perhaps because of me.”
Whispering softly as though it was a hum, I slowly narrowed the distance between us.
My eyelids sank slowly.
Our noses touched.
Our faint breaths mingled.
A deafening thunderclap vibrated throughout the entire cave.
The distance, which had been close enough that we could feel each other’s breaths, quickly widened once more.
As the thunder resounded, more flashes of lightning followed outside.
For a moment, I could see what lay outside, beyond the branches covering the cave’s entrance.
The rain was falling diagonally.
Only then did I realize that the drumming of rain had been accompanying the crackling of the bonfire.
As I had just woken up and as I was immersed in telling that story, I didn’t notice the rain.
‘I just thought of it as the sound of the bonfire…’
I thought that this moisture around my entire body was just sweat—that I had sweated in my sleep because of that nightmare, to the point that it’s as if I had gotten soaked by the rain.
It wouldn’t have been strange for me to wake up from that with cold sweat.
“Right now, is it really raining”
Still, I asked Cassion just in case, and he nodded with a slightly conflicted expression.
“…It’s been a while now… Since it started raining.”
Sweeping my hair up roughly, I directed my gaze towards the cave’s entrance again.
It’s been a while since it started, he said.
This is trouble.
The time that the monsters came out in the original…
It was about half an hour after the rain started.
Right about now, the barracks must have already been swept into chaos.
This went against my plan.
In many ways.
‘Alicia’s going to be fine.
Diana’s guarding her, so…’
But then, I suddenly remembered that the blue monsters would be searching for me.
What if it’s not only the lizard that arrived at the barracks, but also the blue monsters
It was very likely.
‘I should have accounted for this.’
Urien had arrived in this world.
Besides that, I don’t know how, but it seemed like he knew who I was.
That I’m Rita.
Then, I’m certain that he’ll go after my family yet again.
Alicia and Damian.
And, the duke.
Damian and the Duke could defend themselves well enough, but Alicia…
I jumped to my feet.
“We have to go.
Alicia’s in danger.