In church, I had said this to my aunt.
I know that Our Lord won’t throw us away. However, if that’s the case, then why were we made into such weak beings? Why were we made so that we could be lured by temptation, dyed by evil, and capable of committing crimes? If Our Lord is truly good-natured, omnipotent, and filled with love, then shouldn’t he have made us good-natured from the start?
Throughout the past millennium, there were hundreds of millions of people who had thought this question and there were thousands of millions of answers that had been prepared for this. My aunt’s answer was polished from one of those answers.
There is a large difference between someone who has no other choice but to be good-natured and someone who is capable of being good-natured.
And then my aunt had said the following:
Our Lord does not wish for us to be dolls. Our Lord is as feeble as the amount he loves and cherishes us. In order to not force us to become good-natured, and therefore, be capable of being good-natured whenever we desired to be so. In order for our good-naturedness to not be forced but sincere. Our Lord had made it so that we are ‘capable of being good-natured’.
Once I had heard those words, I was lost again. Doesn’t that mean Our Lord doesn’t force us to do anything? That means Our Father in Heaven respects us.
Why do you not treat me like him?
Minhee transferring to my school was something that occurred a short while after this question had appeared in my mind.
The inside of the carriage was dim. The windows were small, and the small amount of moonlight that flowed through those windows ended up being engulfed by the black, matte fabrics that decorated the interior of the carriage.
If the Silver Lion Earl, who was nodding off while leaning against Zia’s shoulder, wasn’t here, then the interior of this carriage would have literally been swallowed by darkness.
She was like a lily of the valley.
The sound of shaking resonated whenever the wheels got caught on something. The sound of wings flapping as the horses that looked like chickens made their way through the darkness. The pleasant sound of breathing that made its way through all of those noises and resounded.
I immediately nodded my head while I was sitting on the opposite side of the Earl and watching her.
“Mr. Yujin, Mr. Yujin, Mr. Yujin, hiccup, mm, Mr. Yuujin.”
“Mr. Yujin······ ahah. Our Mr. Yujin······.”
“Do you resent her······?”
Zia, who was lending her shoulder to the Earl, squirmed.
I, didn’t say anything in return.
The Earl opened her eyes. She raised her head lazily and gazed at me with hazy, drunken eyes as she spoke.
“Don’t resent her, hiccup, too muuuch. Don’t mind it eeeither. I told you, didn’t I? It’s because she’s a grandma. Because she’s so old, really······ because she’s extremely stubborn······ that idiot······ really stupid······.”
As expected, I didn’t say anything in return.
“Ah, why aren’t you responding······ I told you to not resent heeer. You said you’re my possession, riiight? You said you were mine, hiccup, uu, didn’t you? In that case, in thaat caaase.”
The Earl’s words eventually became mumbling.
It was then that I spoke up.
“Whaaat, should I have not?”
There’s no way that would be the case.
“I don’t resent her.”
“You aren’t lying, right?”
“Yeah. There must be some sort of misunderstanding.”
“Misunderstanding my ass······ Ah hah hah hah, seriously······ Bite off all Twelve Fingers, that grandma······.”
The Silver Lion Earl placed her hand against her head. Zia took a deep breath.
“Your Excellency, if you heard······ then some measures should be,”
“Measures? What fucking nonsense. Ziaa, Ziaa, with what holes did you listen to Mr. Yujin’s words with? I feel like you didn’t listen with your ears, ah, damn it. I⎯⎯⎯I can’t, uu, I said I caaan’t. I can’t, do aaanything.”
“But, what? What, fuck? Should I call your teacher and scold him? Ask, aaask him why he killed someone in my city and didn’t say a single thing about it to me? Should I execute the grandma? Should I imprison her? Put her on probation? Should I tell her to stop coming up? I’m, I’m going to look weeird. I got that mad, I, I scolded people that much, and I even changed the vice-captain of the guard, for the truth to be this, I’ll look fucking bad. Huh? F-Fuck.”
Zia shouted powerfully. The Azure Rose Knight cleared her throat and organized her words in this world’s language.
“As one of your Royal Guard, I am aware of that. The authority of the ruler is more important than anything else. However, that authority does not come from wearing elegant clothes and wielding staffs with gems embedded in them. Those who lay down their clothes and make it so that their servants’ feet are not dirtied, and those who burn their staffs in order to prevent the hands of their maids from freezing are true rulers. The power to rule is something which comes from the acknowledgment and admiration of one’s subjects. As a knight, I am aware of this.”
“Ah hah ha, what is this? That, that line, mm, where did you take that line from?”
“I just got some motifs from here and there.”
“That seems like the case. Are you sure that it’s ‘a true ruler’ and not a ‘one true psycho’? Hey kids, mu, mud, murd? Mud, yup, be careful to not step in it, why are you giving a s-strip show when you could just say that one line? It’s incomprehensible and I have no idea why you’d burn a staff with a gem embedded in it. Ah hah hah ha, mhm, can’t you just sell the gem and buy them a mountain of firewood?”
“The setting is that all of your subordinates are deaf so they can’t listen to orders. You’re also unable to sell the gem.”
“All right. The setting is quite, ah ha, strict. I still don’t understand why you would burn the staff.”
“In truth, the gem is a diamond and, as you may know, diamonds are highly condensed coal.”
“Thank you for the chemistry lesson. But still, huu, let’s select a direction where you preserve the diamond. Aha, uh······ fire magic? Let’s cast one of those.”
“Your spell goes rampant the instant you incite the fire incantation, causing an Ancient God that was slumbering in the depths of the ocean to awaken. You then come to the realization that the diamond embedded on the staff was enchanted with a spell that could seal the Ancient God. The only way to activate the spell is to burn the entire staff along with the gem. O brave adventurer, what will you do?”
“I raise a white flag to the authority of the DM and burn the staff with the gem embedded in it.”
“Like that, with your own free will, you decide to set the diamond staff ablaze. Peace has returned to the world. The loyalty of your subordinates has increased.”
The Earl giggled while pressing her hand against her forehead. Zia, who had been saying all of this, didn’t laugh.
The Earl didn’t laugh for long.
“You’re wrong about one thing.”
“You and Sophna. Even if the two of you are on a scale, of course, I wouldn’t denounce Sophna, but despite that, I wouldn’t cut you off either. I won’t sacrifice you. Because, it’s passed. Yup, that stage has, already passed······.”
In a certain way, those words could be heard as lamenting.
“So don’t worry. I won’t treat my possessions carelessly, ah hah, like that. I won’t treat you carelessly······ this damn city as well, even now, I can’t throw it away······”
I counted to five inside of my head. I then counted down from five.
“I want to believe you.”
While grasping at my branded chest and gazing at her eyes that looked as if I wasn’t able to overcome the alcohol, I spoke.
“Silver Lion Earl, I’m distressed as well. It hurts. ······It’s hard. I want to believe you······. The fact that you cherish me, Earl, the fact that you won’t throw me aside, I want to believe that more than anyone else. I really want to believe you now.”
“Make me trust you.”
The Earl looked at me.
I looked at the Earl.
“I want to talk with Sophna. ······Allow me to do so. I don’t care if it’s something that has already happened. Give her a clear order, so that Sophna cannot kill me······” I paused for a moment before continuing. “······Request this of her.”
The Silver Lion Earl raised her head and stared at the roof of the carriage. The carriage didn’t shake anymore. We had, at some point, arrived at the castle.
The Earl spread out both of her hands after uttering those words. She stared at the last summon that was available to her this month before clenching her fists.
“All right, let’s go.”
The Silver Lion Earl spoke.
When the Earl, Zia, and I entered the room, Sophna was reading a book. Once she raised her head, her expression changed like a withering leaf.
“Mii, you’ve become drunk again······ As I thought, I should have followed along. Wait a moment, I will quickly create a remedy to get rid of your drunken stupor. Sit there and⎯⎯⎯.”
“Ah ha, hello Sophna~ Uu, haah! Our Miss Head Vassaaal~! Ehehehe, huu······.”
The Silver Lion Earl spun around with a broad smile on her face before rushing into Sophna’s arms. Sophna instinctively hugged her. Sophna had a half-surprised and half-troubled expression on her face as she patted the Silver Lion Earl who was rubbing against her.
“You really are drunk. Zia, were you only watching while by her side? Did you not consider the idea that you should be helpful in times like this?”
Zia didn’t answer. The Earl rubbed against Sophna right when she was about to raise her brows.
“Araa? Don’t be maaad. I, hiccup, mhm, I! Wanted to drink, so I did, hu, our Miss Head Vassal······ grandma, mm ······ the smell of grass······ ah hah hah ha, mm······.”
“There there. That is right, it’s your grandma. Grandma is here. How many years has it been since I last hugged you like this? Honestly, wait. Truly······ if you fall asleep like this then your insides will hurt, so wait a second while I,”
“But why did you do it?”
A short moment of silence.
“What are you talking about?”
“Why, did you try to kill Mr. Yujin?”
Sophna opened her mouth. It was for only a moment. She then promptly turned to look at me and smiled.
“Oh dear. Did you tattle on me? While in the presence of alcohol at that? It seems that you do not have even the smallest amount of pride.”
The Silver Lion Earl’s shoulders trembled finely. Zia also bit her bottom lips.
The Silver Lion Earl spoke.
“So it was the truth.”
“That is right, I scolded him a bit. Mii, no matter how I looked at it, this fellow was too suspicious. That is why⎯⎯⎯”
“”That’s why,” the Silver Lion Earl’s voice became disordered. “That’s why, you tried to kill Mr. Yujin.”
“I did that for your sake. For starters, calm yourself down. Sober up and, ah!”
Sophna let out a startled sound. The Silver Lion Earl was hugging her tightly, very tightly.
“Ri⎯⎯⎯ight now, right now, sober up, ah hah, haa······ are you telling me to, sober, sober up? Ah hah ha, mm, Sophna, Sophnaa······ Why? Why would you do something like that······.”
“Wait, Mii, what is the matter? I told you, this fellow was suspicious. That is why, I,”
“He’s, miiine. Mr. Yujin is, ah ha, my possession, that I summoned, but why do you, Sophna, all the time, all the time, grandma, damn it, the people of this city, my words, why don’t you all listen⎯⎯⎯damn it, damn it. Ah······.”
The panicking Sophna spoke louder.
“Mii! Calm down!”
The Silver Lion Earl also spoke louder.
“Do you think I can calm down!? Castle······ in my castle! How dare you say those words when you had brought those pieces of trash into my castle!”
Sophna froze up.
“Pieces of trash?”
“Ah ha, ah⎯⎯⎯I see. The pieces of trash, aren’t pieces of trash, are they? By sending people that were wearing the masks of those pieces of trash······. ”
Sophna began to genuinely panic.
“I have no idea what you are talking about, Mii.”
“Ah hah ha ha ha, you don’t know? How could you not knooow, when you admitted to it just now!? Just a second ago, a second ago⎯⎯⎯you admitted it, but you’re trying to feign ignorance? Right now? In this situation? Ah hah ha ha ha ha ha! What, huh? What is this? Even though, just now, you admitted to the fact that you tried to kill Mr. Yujin.”
Sophna breathed in sharply. She glared at me. Although I couldn’t see it, I felt as if several millions of thoughts were colliding with one another like lightning beyond her green eyes.
I took a step back and lowered my head. Zia stepped in front of me as if she intended to protect me. Sophna clenched her jaw.
“Calm down! I, this lady truly does not know what you are talking about. Your Excellency the Earl, it seems like there is a misunderstanding.”
Not only was her voice desperate, but it was that impactful as well. However, that impact couldn’t reach the Earl right now. With a completely cracked voice due to the alcohol in her system, the Earl spoke.
“Head Vassal······ Head Vassal, mm, I-I’m trying to not get mad, you know? But, buuut, right now. Are you trying to lie?”
“It is not a lie! Wait, do not tell me.” It seems she had finally grasped the situation as Sophna let out a gasp. “Do not tell me⎯⎯⎯are you, suspecting this lady as the culprit behind the Gongshik incident?”
Zia took a step forward as if she couldn’t stand to watch this any longer.
“Did you not admit it!?”
“It is a misunderstanding! I······ I was referring to!”
“That you tried to kill Yujin⎯⎯⎯”
“That is right, with my hands! But with the Gongshik!? The assault incident? I did that? Are you saying that I was the one who had caused that? Why, for what reason would I do such a thing!? For what reason do you believe that I had done such a thing!? Did that boy say so!?”
Blood started to rush to Sophna’s head now. With a face that was burning like the color of fallen leaves, she turned towards me abruptly, producing a rustling that sounded as if strong winds were blowing against several branches.
“How, how dare you try to frame me! Hah! You otherworlder who only God knows where you came from. Your Excellency! Zia! This thirteenth finger-like fellow is trying to frame this lady and······.”
“Yujin did not say even a single thing!”
Sophna hesitated. Zia clenched her teeth.
“Yujin has never said a single bad thing about you, Miss Sophna! If anything, he tried to protect you, Miss Sophna!”
“Protect, what, no, then why exactly are you doubting this lady······?”
“Borg Edentras was the one who had given us these clues!”
Sophna’s expression fell into a panic. As she kept looking back and forth between me, Zia, me again, and Zia again, she eventually fell into a state of disarray.
“Borg did? That, Lunar Scorpion? ······Why? I, no, wait, still!” Sophna quickly composed herself and spoke in Korean once more. “You⎯⎯⎯the two of you are coming after me because you believe the words of a thief? Me? You are trying to lash out at me?”
It was truly fast. She was faster than Borg in terms of poising herself.
She was supposed to go on the offense against me a bit more. She was supposed to latch onto the fact that ‘the situation is suspicious’ and fall with that. She had lost her target because of this. She ended up sloppily pointing the arrow towards Borg, attacking the two here for believing him, building hostility which she didn’t have to build, and throwing fuel into an already heated situation······ I did not give her this advice.
I said something else instead.
“I also agree with Sophna. If you think about it again, isn’t it weird?”
Sophna became stunned in response to my support. She most likely couldn’t understand the situation at all now.
“What are you saying, Yujin?”
Zia looked at me with pained eyes and asked that. I shook my head.
“You said that it was Sophna who had sent Ariya to me, right? I was able to live through that incident because Ariya had come. If the culprit behind the assault was Sophna, then it wouldn’t be consistent. That’s why,”
“Yes, Your Excellency the Earl.”
Ariya, who was on standby outside the room, entered. The Earl turned to look at her with a piercing gaze.
“What did Sophna say when she sent you, you to Mr. Yujin?”
Ariya bowed her head by 45 degrees.
“I was told to observe him.”
“I was not told the reason.”
“Then why did you help Mr. Yujin when you should have just kept observing? Throw aside something like the ‘duty of a maid’ and give me an accurate explanation.”
“Coincidentally, it is because Miss Zia had told me something on that day. The fact that I was able to keep my life after having committed that crime on that day was because Sir Yujin had appealed for it to Your Excellency the Earl.”
The Silver Lion Earl looked at me. Her voice gradually became faster.
“Do you not understand, Mr. Yujin? Ariya rescuing you was just a coincidence. Howeeever, our Head Vassal most likely didn’t like that. Of all people, haa, of all people, are you not curious as to why Alshi was the one who got stabbed? Alshi, Ariya’s lover.”
Although a lot of responses came to my head, they were all things which I mustn’t say.
I held my beads tightly and spoke.
“That’s an excessive jump of logic. Earl, from what I can see······.”
“Mr. Yujin. I know that you’re trying to prevent this, aha, from getting any bigger. That’s admirable, but, but, you knooow? You need to mind the time and place or you’ll get nailed.”
I closed my mouth. The Silver Lion Earl turned back to face Sophna.
Sophna was now utterly confused.
“What······ What, nonsense is this?”
The Earl didn’t give Sophna the opportunity to wriggle her way out.
“Aha, yeah. It’s nonsensical. But you know, Sophna, how?”
“How did you come up at such perfect timing?”
“That’s······ That is because I had given Ariya a Truth Evoker, after seeing that the Truth Evoker had changed, that’s why······.”
“Ah ha, ah hah hah ha ha, waa, wow, Sophna, Sophnaaa······ For, for you to even⎯⎯⎯last testament, the Mage Tower’s crest, even though you know······. Even though you know that, Sophna, you.”
The Earl didn’t cry. She didn’t weep either. The corners of her eyes didn’t even become red. Similar to the time when she was trying to execute me, she only gnashed her teeth and muttered with a venomous tone in her voice. Sophna looked at the Earl like a sunflower covered in chemicals. It was at that moment.
It was most likely not due to logic.
Sophna’s head turned slightly. Towards me. She looked at me.
Sophna Radgrinkle spoke once she looked into my eyes.
“It was you······ You.” The muttering Sophna swung her staff. “Gray, Distortion, Vines!”
The empty space before Sophna shattered like glass.
A pitch black darkness revealed itself. A boiling darkness surged out like tentacles.
“Great Rending Slash······!”
Zia, who was standing in front of me, cut the darkness with the light of her sword. Boof······! The spell vanished just like that. Sophna shouted.
“What are you doing!?”
“I should be the one to ask you that, Miss Sophna! For you to do something like that while in the presence of Her Excellency the Earl······!”
“Right now, that boy is trying to frame this lady. All of this is······! Seed, Expand, Burst!”
Once more, Zia cut down the spell which Sophna had cast. Bang······! The seed-like object, which had been knocked aside, collided against the wall and exploded. The room trembled and the book which Sophna had been reading fell to the floor and spread open. A highlighted line was displayed.
Angry people are not always wise.
(TL note: This line is in English)
Zia rushed forward in order to suppress Sophna. Sophna clenched her jaw and struggled. While this was happening, the desk shook and ended up flipping over.
And then, as if it were fate, something rolled out from the desk.
The Silver Lion Earl glanced down at it. Both Zia and Sophna’s eyes locked onto that spot as well.
The Silver Lion Earl spoke.
Sophna didn’t answer. Step, step, the sound of footsteps resonated and the Silver Lion Earl soon stopped to pick the items up.
“What is this?”
It was⎯⎯⎯a bizarre dagger and a mask.
They looked exactly as they did back when they were discovered when Alshi had been stabbed.
The dagger and mask of the Gongshik.
The Silver Lion Earl glanced at them for a moment before turning to Sophna.
Sophna gasped. A single teardrop flowed down from her eye. ‘I,’ she uttered, ‘I didn’t place them,’ before she could say anything more than this, the Silver Lion Earl spoke first.
“Why are these here?”
“This lady did not put them there!”
The Silver Lion Earl tilted her head. A boiling sound came from Sophna’s mouth. Guuh, guuh, she swallowed her anger and resentment down several times, let a single tear fall, and held her staff tightly.
“It is a trap!”
The tip of her staff pointed towards me.
“That boy! That boy did it!”
A white light flew towards me the same instant she let out that bloodcurdling shout.
“Even, even the slightest lie will not be forgiven! Are, are you not the one who had put these here!?”
“I didn’t put them there.”
The white light wrapped around me didn’t change from their white hue.
“Is,” Sophna gnashed her teeth and continued, ‘is this being here related to you at all!?”
The glow was still white.
“If that is the case, then.” Sophna was stumbling with her words. Her expression, tongue, gaze, and mouth were tangled like vines. “If that is the case, then⎯⎯⎯.”
There was a slap sound.
Sophna fell over. Blood flowed from the corner of her mouth. There was a red mark on her freckled cheek.
The Silver Lion Earl had struck her.
The Earl gritted her teeth.
“Damn it! Why are you behaving so shamefully!?”
“This lady······ Your Excellency, this lady truly does not······!”
“Wan! Did you call, wan, Your Excellency the Earl?”
It was in the middle of the night. The scale of the disturbance that had occurred was more than enough to have attracted people’s attention. Of course, despite that, the reason why Roroa was able to immediately arrive with the guards was due to the fact that I had told her to prepare beforehand, but starting from the Silver Lion Earl, the other people here didn’t seem to care about this fact.
“Take her away!”
The Silver Lion Earl shouted while pointing at the fallen Sophna. The guards looked at each other with surprised looks on their faces, but Roroa hastily entered her unsheathed form and held Sophna down. Zia put her sword away and helped out with a wretched look on her face.
Sophna was only able to collect herself after she had been completely bound. Sophna looked around vacantly before turning towards me. She cried out.
“Your Excellency······! You must kill that boy!”
There was no dignity or composure. Sophna twisted her body like a beast that was chained up.
“Release me! Roroa! Roroa, this lady knows that you have also been sticking close to that boy······! That boy,” in Korean, “Mii, I! I am always working for your sake!”
The drop of blood touched the floor.
The Silver Lion Earl raised her head while clenching her jaw······ She looked at Sophna.
“Just this once, listen to what I say······.”
A death-like silence fell over us.
“Once you have become sober······ in the morning, at that time, let us talk at that time.”
The Earl didn’t answer. Sophna followed Roroa while lowering her head. The Silver Lion Earl watched her go······ and grabbed at her chest.
She tilted her head.
Zia supported the Earl. The Earl tried to push Zia away but ended up being hugged instead.
“Zia······ Zia. Ah haa, Zia······.”
“Yes, Your Excellency. Zia Batsand, is here.”
“I’m going to sleep······ I want to sleep. Bedroom······ Zia······.”
Zia nodded her head and lifted the Earl onto her back. She then turned to look at me and Ariya. The room was a mess and the residents of the castle were muttering at the door.
“I’ll take care of it.”
Zia nodded in response to my words.
Zia left, leaving only me and Ariya in the room.
Ariya called out to me. I nodded.
There were still a lot of ears outside of the room. I brought my mouth to Ariya’s ear.
“Call everyone together. We’re nearing the end.”
TL note: Thanks for reading the chapter. I actually finished the chapter around 1-2 days ago, but it took some time to edit. I’m not dead. I’m just getting really distracted. Translating is my main thing so I won’t quit, but I’ve sort of been trying to enjoy myself by chatting with friends and having a good time with them.
I’ll be setting up a schedule for myself so I can balance my leisure and work, so expect it to be in order soon.