“What… is that…”
Someone muttered shakily.
As if that was the signal, Damian’s previously halted legs started moving slowly.
His eyes were still fixed on the huge, towering monster.
One person noticed his movements and called out to him, but once he started, he did not stop.
He only got faster and faster.
In his mind, he knew that he shouldn’t do this.
He became the leader of that group of people for a reason.
Damian hated one particular kind of people for all of his life.
Those he believed to be imprudent, with no regard to their responsibilities at all.
So, it was a funny thing.
He was doing something that he detested with all his being.
He would have nothing to say even if he were to be ridiculed or stoned.
Nevertheless, his legs kept stomping through the ground and could not stop.
The moment he saw the monster that appeared with a roar…
Alicia and Rosetta’s faces flashed through his mind in an instant, and anxiety burned such an enormous fire within him at the uncertainty of their safety.
Blue monsters kept appearing as he ran down the mountain.
But he never stopped moving.
He heard that the heart was the monsters’ weakness, but he could not afford to deal with them one by one.
All he did was slash down their necks, or continued running while ignoring them.
Whether they come back to life or not.
Whether they went after him or not.
Whether he was leading the monsters to his destination or not.
None of that mattered now.
His entire body was soaked with blue blood.
Then the rain would wash everything out, until the cycle would continue anew.
Even so, he did not stop.
He ran and ran and ran, down the wet, slippery grass.
Every time the monster’s roars reverberated through the mountain, Alicia and Rosetta’s faces only became more vivid in his mind.
‘God damn it…’
His sword-wielding hand slashed forward.
* * *
“Wh…What is that…”
“Oh my word, oh my Lord…”
“Ahh… A nightmare, a living nightmare.”
Tired and pale-faced people looked up fearfully at the lizard, which raised its body and towered well over the trees that surrounded it.
Even the torrential rain could not drown out their screams.
The blue lizard looked around, creaking its stiff neck.
Eyes, larger than a human head, rolled around.
The newly awoken lizard seemed displeased by all the attention that it was receiving.
It growled low, and stomped down its front foot.
At the same time, it swung its tail, the wind sharply whistling along its movement.
All the trees that were in the tails way broke and were flung in one fell swoop.
“Please stop this!”
“Until when will these things wreak havoc!”
Just when they were still dealing with the monsters that refused to die, now, a giant lizard had appeared.
Waves of despair fell upon the injured and exhausted people, and they ran away with all their might while screaming.
Their faces were soaked with liquid, unknown whether it was rainwater or their tears.
This was simply… living hell.
However, there were still some people who kept their composure even as they were amidst hell itself.
Those who would be the heroes during these turbulent times.
Those who pulled out their swords without a second thought, ran through all the screaming people, and threw themselves at the very center of this tragedy.
Two sets of sharp eyes met in the air.
One pair was red, the other black.
The red-eyed man was the first to speak.
“I never imagined we’d meet here.
Valentine’s shy escort knight, you must be hiding something in your sleeves.”
His tone was casual, but his eyes glinted.
It was a gaze perhaps directed at an intruder trespassing into his domain.
As Cassion’s face was still covered by the tattered mask, he confronted the other man without ever avoiding those red eyes.
“I don’t have anything like that.
I’m just here to do my job.”
“Is hunting down this monster part of your job description As far as I know, your job is to stand by the ducal lady’s side as her escort knight.”
“It is also for the sake of her safety that I cut down anything that poses a danger to her.”
Leo smiled silently at the other man who did not back down at this play of words.
Soon, his smiling lips hardened icily.
Then, hints of discomfort were clearly revealed over those red eyes.
“What a wonderful sense of duty.
You’re quite the coveted talent.”
His voice was as cold as a glacier, but Cassion was not shaken by this at all.
“Thank you for the compliment.”
“By any chance, would you like to work for me”
“I apologize, but I shall remain by Milady’s side forever.”
That’s a bit regrettable, but if that’s your intention, it can’t be helped.”
Instead, I shall pray that you don’t die.
May you survive this ordeal safely and accomplish your great duty.
This snake-like whisper followed.
Even as he said, ‘I pray that you don’t die,’ it sounded exactly like he was wishing the opposite.
Cassion stared at him with a sinking gaze.
Then, he moved his hand and placed it over the sword on his waist.
Beneath the mask, the tightly closed lips gave a belated answer.
“Then, I shall also pray.”
I pray that you shall not be harmed at all.
His whisper scattered in the wind.
Silence commenced in the wind’s wake, and soon after, the two men turned away from each other without any more words exchanged between them.
The lizard then noticed the two approaching, uninvited guests that had jumped onto its massive body.
It began to twist violently.
As Leo rushed towards the monster’s head, his lips opened to recite a short incantation.
The moment his murmur ended, a flashing red light hit the lizard’s head squarely.
The lizard screeched at once.
It closed its eyes and shook its head.
Meanwhile, it was around the same time that Cassion slashed his extending sword towards the lizard’s tail.
The long, meandering blade of the whip sword wrapped around the tail of the flailing lizard.
A blue flame appeared along the blade.
The lizard roared and thrashed hard.
As it twisted its tail, the blue flames quickly dug into the lizard’s skin.
Soon, the huge tail was cut off cleanly, and it fell with a huge THUD!
“Huh Someone… Who— Who’s on the lizard!”
“No, there are two people!”
“The lizard’s tail got cut off!”
After the dust had settled around the fallen tail, the desperate people around the area began to talk noisily.
They had been busy running away in fear until now, and it was only then that they noticed the man who was standing atop the lizard’s tail, and the man who was standing tall atop the lizard’s head.
The severed tail.
And a flashing light.
They did not know what exactly was happening, but as they realized that the lizard seemed to be under attack, hope was starting to rise again upon their faces one by one.
“Young Duke Carter! Then that person…”
“Who is that He’s wearing a mask”
“Whoever he is, it doesn’t matter! Stay strong, Sir Knight!”
Unlike the excited commotion down below, the atmosphere surrounding the lizard sank even colder.
The two men, who did not stop their onslaught of attacks, met gazes once more.
One stood on the monster’s head, and the other on its tail, so they were farther away than they had been before.
Even so, despite being so far away from each other, their gazes matched ever so clearly.
One set of red eyes and yet another set of red eyes.
Again this time, it was Leo who opened his lips to speak first.
He raised his head with a much more emotionless expression than before.
You’re using magic”
His voice carried the smallest hint of incredulity, but nevertheless, it was there.
Cassion shrugged nonchalantly.
Urging his whip sword to return to its original form, he replied.
“Yes, somehow or another.
I’m using a little of it.”
And again this time, he did not back down.
* * *
“Alicia! Where are you!”
Diana and Rosetta’s voices ran throughout the empty forest.
When they saw that the people who were supposed to be there were not, and were instead replaced by only red bloodstains in that spot, they were pushed into urgency.
Diana stepped down from Rosetta’s back, then she looked around.
Even if she was an injured patient, it would be better if the two of them split up and searched the area separately.
Still, because they didn’t know when or where the monsters would launch another surprise attack, they had to still keep close.
To the point of straining her throat, Rosetta kept shouting Alicia’s name over and over again as she searched through the woods.
However, she suddenly stopped.
At this rate, there would be no end to this.
Was this not like finding a needle in a haystack
Squeezing her eyes shut, she crouched down.
The palm of her hand touched the ground.
Diana, who was limping as she was searching for Alicia, looked at Rosetta and stopped as well.
She didn’t know what was happening, but she had a hunch that she would get in the way if she were to make any noise or move at all.
And Diana’s hunch was right.
As Rosetta was wrapping her entire body with inner qi, she used her energy as an extension of her senses.
Skin touched by the wind, the rain.
What kind of things had they brought with them all the way here, reaching her.
Through the ground that the palm of her hand was touching, she could feel various movements.
She focused her inner qi on her eyes and her ears, searching relentlessly for distant sounds and invisible sights from afar.
Upon her golden eyes, red veins started to show,
How long did she stay that way.
It was only a short time, but Rosetta’s lips now overflowed with red blood.
Shocked, Diana ran and limped towards her.
Rosetta staggered to her feet, refusing the help she was offered.
She closed her heavy eyelids and breathed for a moment.
Because she overexerted herself from using her qi, even for a short period of time, she had to recover herself by using respite.
Soon, her closed eyes flashed open.
Her heaving chest regained stability.
Rosetta carried the restless Diana on her back once more, then hurried forward.
She ran so fast that the rain and the wind began to hit them horizontally.
Diana closed her eyes tightly.
And when she opened her eyes again, they were still in the midst of the thicket, but it was quite far from where Alicia was originally hiding.
There was movement from the bushes.
Also a frightened breath.
Rosetta crouched down, and with a conflicted smile, she swept the leaves aside.
As soon as the leaves were moved aside, a dagger popped out, accompanied by the short yelp.
It was an attack that wasn’t the slightest threat to the opponent.
Instead of dodging it, Rosetta gently grabbed the wrist of the dagger wielder.
The sloppily handled dagger fell down the damp floor.
It was the dagger that Diana gave to Alicia.
The person who had wielded the dagger blinked slowly.
Tears poured down her eyes.
At long last, the sisters have reunited.
¹ Respite (운기조식) – a term used in fictional martial arts which refers to the act of moving qi to regulate one’s breathing.
sidenote: our daily chapters end here~! just in time to see the sisters finally reunite
thank you for tuning in until now~ the update schedule will be returning to how it had been before (2 or 3 updates per week), so i’ll come back with another new chapter after a few days (i’m gonna have to rest a little, my wrists are aching and my brain is mush hahaha)