Add was silently walking along the beach then he realized that the footprints were staggered all over the place. You could distinguish them if you looked carefully.
Thin footprints were Rena’s, since she walks with light steps.
The flawlessly precise ones should be Eve’s and the ones with dizzy and disorderly strides must be without a doubt Ara’s.
But the footprints were separated. Crossroads, Add hesitated for a moment in the place where the footprints separated into a beach and a forest.
Where Eve headed to was the forest…. But what can he do by meeting with her right now?
He even heard from her let’s never see each other’s face again after the business with Elesis was over. Of course, Add wasn’t intending on accepting those words quietly…… But nothing would get solved by meeting with Eve without any plans.
Although Add didn’t like it, he walked along the beach. The scenery of the beach where white foams broke after hitting the rocks and blue water sweeping in and out of the golden sands was truly beautiful.
Almost to the point where the fact that they were risking their lives to fight Elesis a while ago felt like a dream.
Add unknowingly stroke his neck and gulped. If things went wrong just a little bit……his head would have gotten chopped up by Elesis. And there were actually instances where it almost happened. This wasn’t just for him. It was the same for the other members as well.
Add stopped to look across the horizon and muttered on his own.
“What should we…..do now?”
Aisha pushed the El Search Party away asking them to take some moment to rest…..
But Add couldn’t follow this. His head became so complicated that no thoughts came to him. No, there was one thought that came up clearly, but he didn’t want to admit it.
The El Search Party lost against Elesis.
Add who could time travel, Elsword who threw himself into the fight despite her sister being the enemy, Ara who fought braver than anyone else, Rena and Eve who assisted in every critical moment.
Even though they threw the entirety of the El Search Party’s abilities against her…..they still lost to Elesis. Bringing out her true abilities was their limit.
It was an indisputable defeat.
Add let out a dejected laugh. Even though he had the power to rewind time, there was absolutely no possibility that he could fight Elesis and defeat her.
Right now, he should be thankful that he even survived through the ordeal. Add hated himself for thinking like this, for being glad that he was just able to survive….. It was way too pathetic.
Add who was bursting out into laughter immediately stopped when someone else laughed along with him. Was this the feeling of where someone was letting out their feelings alone but realized that someone else was listening in on them? When Add got surprised and turn around, he discovered a girl cheerfully running along the beach.
Black hair, white clothes. She was far away but it was obvious who she was.
Ara who had been cheerfully laughing and running by herself saw Add and waved her hand towards him. She didn’t slow her speed down at all as she ran towards Add.
“So Mr.Add is here too?”
Add was at a loss for words when he saw Ara smile without any folds on her face. How can she change her mood so quickly? She was very cheerful right now as if she had completely forgotten about the fact that she was fighting with her life on the line just a while before.
Ara didn’t mind Add’s dumfounded gaze as she looked around the ocean again. The ocean wind made her long black hair wave.
“Ah, look. Mr.Crab is walking over there!”
Ara discovered a crab that was scurrying busily along the beach and called Add over with a hand gesture. Ara crouched down and enjoyably watched the crab moving then waved her hand towards Add to urge him to come over.
She totally had an attitude of enjoying a vacation.
“Just how are you so…..”
Regardless of how Add sighed or not, Ara was now picking up a conch shell and putting it near her ear to listen to the sound coming from inside. She was totally having fun.
Add had realized this late but Ara had her shoes off and was barefoot. She carefully approached to the point where the waves reached and dipped her ankles in the sea water.
Anything he says would be useless at this point. Add was dumbstruck but he still couldn’t say anything to Ara.
Wasn’t Ara the one who had to go through the most life threatening moments? Eun didn’t come out to fight and Ara had to stay in the front line facing Elesis’ swords strikes with only her spear skills….. She had a right to relax and rest like this.
“Mr.Add should come here too! It feels cool!”
Ara did her duties. She fulfilled all her obligations as the member of the El Search Party. No one could blame her or tell her to bear this heavy weight of defeat.
“But it feels really cool.”
“I said I’m fine. Where’s Rena?”
Add refused Ara’s request and asked for Rena’s whereabouts. The El Search Party’s leader was Rena so he should discuss their future plans with her.
The El Search Party as they were right now couldn’t defeat Elesis. They had to admit this fact then start thinking about their next course of actions.
“She’s under the tree over there.”
When he looked towards the far off direction the tip of Ara’s hand was pointing, he could see a person sitting modestly under the palm tree.
“We’re going to have a serious talk now so don’t get in the way. Stay here and play.”
“Will you play together with me after you’re done?”
Add felt a bit annoyed when Ara asked while smiling merrily. No matter how naïve Ara was, this was after such things had happened. Wasn’t she too carefree?
When Add shot a gaze at her, Ara slightly turned her head around to avoid his gaze.
“Because there’s no point in being restless.”
Add instinctively realized what she meant and swallowed the words he was about to say.
It wasn’t that Ara didn’t really have any thoughts. The fact that she lacked the skills to face Elesis, she should know this better than anyone else without having someone else telling her.
“I was actually going to start training right away but Lord Eun stopped me. So I decided to relax for today.”
“Yes….. Go ahead and relax.”
“Then would you play together with me after you’re done talking?”
Ara spoke with a smile but Add ignored and headed towards Rena.
Well, he could play along with her for a bit if he felt like it after he finished talking with Rena.
Rena was sitting quietly under the palm tree’s shade and looking towards the horizon with her legs put together prettily. When Add approached close, she turned her head towards him and made a beautiful smile.
“How’s your body?”
“There’s no problem. I can fight again if I had to.”
Add replied bluntly then stared down at Rena while standing still. Rena was smiling as usual but they couldn’t converse normally.
“Like I said before, but my calculations were off. I made a mistake.”
“That wasn’t Add’s fault.”
Rena shook her head but Add couldn’t accept it.
“That’s my fault. I should have known…..”
He even had the power to go back in time but still hadn’t realized Elesis’ true abilities. Of course there would have been a limit because Add wasn’t a warrior…. But he still couldn’t shake off the guilt.
His calculations were wrong. He didn’t want to admit this but he had to.
“You can do well next time.”
“I’m not crying to have you comfort me. What are we going to do now?”
“I don’t know. What should we do?”
Rena replied with a voice that was soft as the spring wind and looked up at Add to seek for an answer. Add was about to urge her to answer but realized that there was a gloom under the tip of her smile and stopped.
Rena spoke first after a moment.
“I’m sorry. My thoughts were wrong. I’ve got nothing to say to Raven.”
“It’s not something you should apologize for. It’s my plan that was wrong.”
Add repeated his words with a strict tone as if he was scolding her.
The El Search Party had moved perfectly according to Add’s instructions. Didn’t Elsword even surpass Add’s calculations and displayed transcending abilities to defeat Elesis at least once?
“I’m not doing this so we can lick each other’s wounds. Let’s just end this by saying it was a mistake in my calculations. I’m asking about what we should do now.”
“That magician called Aisha says she doesn’t intend to help anymore.”
Their lives had been barely saved from the clutches of death by an abrupt helping hand. Nothing would change even if they went back to Velder.
Elesis will be waiting for them and the El Search Party cannot defeat her.
“I’m not too sure myself.”
When Rena honestly admitted, Add closed his eyes then let out a sigh.
No, shouldn’t this be obvious? Even Add himself was stifled and restless right now. That was why he ended up forcefully questioning Rena right now. No matter how extremely skilled Rena was, she wouldn’t know more and look ahead more than Add who could rewind time.
Even Eun could have been more helpful in this situation. But judging by how Ara was playing by herself far away, Eun didn’t look like she wanted to come out and help.
“You must have been troubled as well. Sorry, I said something dumb. Let’s talk about this later so rest up for now.”
“Yes, Add too.”
Add held out the hand he had behind his back. It was a conch shell that he picked up on the way.
“Listen to this if you get bored.”
“You’re giving it to me?”
Rena asked with a surprised expression. Add replied bluntly then turned his body around.
“They’re everywhere anyways.”
Stop thanking me for something so useless. Add spoke this in his mind then moved his steps. Ara was waving her hand telling him to come over quickly but he ignored and got on the Dynamos.
Only after Add had forcefully questioned Rena, he realized that he was uneasy, that he was lost.
He needed some time alone to think about what he should do next.
Evening, Aisha’s villa.
The El Search Party sat around the table and quietly ate the dinner that Angkor had supposedly made. They were simple foods consisting meat, soup and vegetables but the qualities of the ingredients were nice so it tasted good.
But even Elsword and Ara who would have normally been talking busily were just eating quietly. Only the owner of the villa, Aisha talked lively amidst this deathly silent dinner table.
“How is it? This is Angkor’s cooking. Isn’t it good? It was a big problem before when Angkor couldn’t even chop up a slice of meat.”
“It doesn’t taste bad.”
Add had to answer her accordingly because no one else answered. Aisha stretched out her chest and nodded proudly.
“You won’t find any other magicians like me that can make a Demon God prepare meals! You guys should also make sure to get a good taste of this.”
“I’ll do that.”
Seriously, someone say something. Add answered accordingly while muttering in his mind. He had to talk because he didn’t like the current atmosphere of this table.
Everyone was mechanically chewing the food in front of them. Eve, Elsword, Rena and Ara all had a depressed expression and didn’t say a word.
Add boiled up from inside when he saw them all nibble with a gloomy faces. Add pushed down and suppressed this unknown displeasure rising up from within him as he swallowed some vegetables without chewing properly.
“Alright, if everyone had enough to eat, then let’s go take a bath with just all the girls. We even have warm water here. It’s better to go together.”
At Aisha’s suggestion, Rena got up from her seat as if she didn’t have much appetite in the first place. The first words Rena spoke after sitting down in the dinner table was this, she wasn’t the usual Rena. Eve and Ara also quietly followed Aisha.
“Angkor, wash the dishes after.”
After Aisha’s words, a silence descended upon the dinner table. It was obvious because only Elsword and Add was left.
Well…no one had said anything even when everyone was sitting together.
Add dropped his spoon in displeasure. He really didn’t like this. Elsword had already put down his fork long ago and was breathing thinly.
Add looked at Elsword who looked like he had become a statue then frowned.
Why was everyone acting so unsightly? It was an atmosphere as if someone amongst them had died. Well, many of them did die in the other timelines but weren’t they all alive right now? Of course, Add was also stifled, dejected and couldn’t think of anything about the future after he had faced Elesis.
But was there any need for others to be like this as well? Weren’t the El Search Party composed of bunch of softies in the first place? Why were they acting like the world had ended from mere something like this?
He realized a moment later that Elsword had called him. When Add didn’t answer, Elsword called quietly again.
“Big Brother Add.”
He didn’t’ feel like answering but it was even more difficult ignore. Elsword had opened his mouth for the first time after they had fought Elesis. Well he could have talked about many things with Eve before….. But chance of that was small considering how Eve wasn’t saying anything as well.
He didn’t have to ask what they had lost to. Elsword’s body shook from the shame and feeling of defeat towards himself. He trailed his words almost like a groan.
“…..I hate myself for thinking that I’m just glad to be alive.”
This was an annoying thing to hear for Add, but he didn’t feel like threatening Elsword to stop. He could sense Elsword’s pain, his self-depreciating rage.
“I finally met Big Sister. I was able to fight……..because you told me. But we lost.”
Elsword’s back shook thinly.
Elsword had realized how far the sun that he thought he could finally grasp in his hand, how far Elesis’ back that looked like he could reach if he just stretched out his hand a bit more actually was and was despairing.
Add felt furiously annoyed but he still couldn’t hit Elsword. Add didn’t know where to direct the fist that he had held up. He was actually going to strike Elsword’s head once but that would only hurt his hand.
“I’m sorry for putting everyone in danger. If only I didn’t hesitate in the end……”
“Stop talking. It’s annoying to listen to.”
A sharp voice, Add’s emotions were contained in his voice. He could tell what Elsword with his head drooped down was regretting about, the reason why his knees were shaking.
If Elsword had struck down Elesis immediately, then maybe Elesis wouldn’t have gotten any chance to reveal her true skills. Then there shouldn’t have been any danger of the El Search Party getting annihilated. Aisha’s intervention was truly unexpected; it was basically a rescue that came from the heavens.
Elsword was blaming himself for putting everyone else in danger because of his hesitation.
Unlike the forceful words Add spoke, his voice was soft to the point where it surprised Add himself. His fist had loosened before he knew it. His hand was petting Elsword’s head.
Add pretended that he didn’t know anything, pretended that he couldn’t hear anything as he looked forwards.
How could he blame someone who was apologizing for not being able to strike down someone most precious to him with his own hands? Add put aside all the bad emotions, all the bad memories of Elsword from the past and bitterly moved his hands.
He couldn’t blame this guy who was crying in regret and self-depreciation.
As a man himself, he had to pretend that he couldn’t see this regret filled with tears.
Deep into the night, Add confirmed that Elsword was sleeping then carefully raised himself and left the room. He couldn’t sleep at all because he couldn’t settle his feelings.
Add stopped in front of the room’s door that he had kept in his mind beforehand and exhaled deeply. He had no choice but to try.
Add made his decision then opened the door and entered the room. But unlike his expectations, the room’s owner, Aisha was sitting pompously on her chair with her chin resting on top of her hands. She hadn’t changed her clothes despite how it was deep into the night and was staring quietly at Add as he stood on the doorsill.
It was as if she had known Add would come to meet her.
“Coming into a lady’s room without a knock this late at night? There’s no worse discourtesy. I’ll turn into a frog if you do this one more time.”
“I’m not changing my decision. This is the last time I’ll help you guys. Shouldn’t you be glad just from the fact that I’ve kept the Velder Liberation army safe?”
She was a powerful magician that even made Elesis back off. Add would be no match for her if he ended up fighting her.
But he couldn’t avoid the things he had to say just because of their differences in strength.
“I’m not asking you to use your magic to do something. I don’t even expect you to. Of course…..I’d be thankful if you would.”
Add quickly thought and added to his words. It would be a lame thing to do, but if Aisha decided to help them, he could to raise both of his arms and welcome her with cheers.
“Then what do you want me to help with?”
“You must have seen already during the dinner today, everyone is a mess right now. We’ll lose even the fights we can win.”
They already lost to Elesis. Then what should they do next? Just because Rena, Ara, Elsword and Eve were depressed, Add couldn’t afford to be the same.
Let those softies do whatever they want. Coming up with the El Search Party’s strategies and plans was Add’s task.
He didn’t even need to be shy about it.
“You want me to help you with cheering them up? Why should I do that?”
“Didn’t you bring us here for that purpose?”
Add snorted. When Aisha made an expression as if she was saying ‘Oh would you look at this guy?’, Add didn’t hesitate as he explained.
“If we the El Search Party were meaningless existence to you, then there wouldn’t be any reason for you to come personally to stop Elesis. Since that goes against the restriction you talked about. On the contrary, you were interested in us enough to the point where you risked your own restriction to come and keep us alive.”
“You already knew Elsword and Rena’s names.”
She must have had a way to know since she was a magician. Add laid out the facts he could think of then gave his conclusion.
“Aren’t you trying to have us defeat the Demons? Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any reason for you to go out of your way to save us and even provide us with a meal.”
It was a reason that everyone hadn’t thought of because they were so caught up by their defeat from Elesis. But Add was able to think of this obvious question because he was slightly more calm minded than the rest.
What was the reason for such a big shot magician like Aisha, who was probably the most powerful magician in history, to personally save the El Search Party then even provide them with lodging and meal? She wouldn’t suddenly show good will towards them when they had never met each other before. She probably had something she wanted from them.
“Am I wrong?”
“It’s not a correct answer…..But should I say it’s not wrong either?”
Aisha made a slightly impressed smile then got up from her chair. Aisha faced Add and declared with a confident pose by putting her hands on her shoulder.
“Well, fine. Then I might as well cooperate up to a certain extent. Of course, we’ll do this my way. I won’t take any objections.”
“You do as I say. You don’t have any objections right?”
I’m trying to do something. There’s no way someone that will object to my methods can exist right? Can I get rid of that person if they exist? ……It was a smile only a person with this kind of mindset could make.
It felt like he got caught on a leash when he had originally come to negotiate. But he didn’t want to look weak after coming this far.
Also, Add generally agreed with the plan that Aisha presented to him. Aisha spoke fluently as if she had already planned this beforehand.
Aisha finished the conversation which was actually a notification rather than having a discussion.
“Also, make sure to knock next time. Aren’t you lacking delicacy when dealing with girls? No wonder why, the only guy around you is….”
Aisha narrowed her eyes then clicked her tongue. It looked like she had recalled something unpleasant.
“Alright, I’m going to sleep now so go back. Ask Angkor if you want some late night snacks.”
Aisha spoke then grabbed Angkor that was flying around her then threw it towards Add. Angkor came flying with a low scream then flapped its wings as it flew around Add. Judging by its miserable expression….. It must get overworked by Aisha with various tasks.
Well should I go back now then? Add left the room without any parting words then closed the door. Sigh came out of his mouth as the tension eased.
“I don’t like this.”
Negotiations while in a disadvantageous position never goes well. But the only person who could take care of this kind of task in their group was him. Well Rena possibly could, but she was way too trusting towards people and goodhearted……and she was feeling dejected right now.
“Just why is everyone feeling so dejected…..?”
“It’s a sad story.”
Add was so shocked to the point where he almost fainted at the voice that abruptly came from beside him. When he looked carefully across the corridor, a shadow was leaning its back against the corridor’s wall. A dim silhouette shown by the moonlight, you could tell who it was from the blinding white hair.
“You now don’t even sleep at night and pop out?”
“Ara is completely asleep. And I slept during the day.”
It was night’s Eun who had exchanged positions with day’s Ara. When Eun’s face was revealed as she approached, Angkor who had been floating around Add got surprised and dove into Add’s chest.
“Did your talk with Aisha go well?”
“You already look like you know everything. Do I have to explain?”
Eun opened her eyes narrowly when Add replied sarcastically.
“My, boy seems quite upset. What is boy upset about? I was actually in the middle of being quite impressed by boy’s bold actions.”
Add knew why he was upset, why they all had a bitter taste in their mouths.
Sense of defeat from Elesis? Sense of despair? Add had already experienced that disgustingly a lot during his fight in Elder. Of course, it was begrudging that Elesis was an extremely mighty existence, an existence that they couldn’t surpass as they were now……But wasn’t this anything new?
How mighty did Shadow Master seem when he encountered it for the first time in Elder? Add was defeated in that fight and wasn’t able to save Eve. On the other hand, everyone had survived through this fight with Elesis.
He didn’t like how they were all lost in a sense of dejection. He couldn’t leave this be.
“Just telling them to be glad that they were able to survive is such a cruel thing to tell them. Of course, it might actually be true considering Elly’s skills…. But it’s difficult to come to terms with that on one’s own.”
Add gave up thinking when Eun spoke as if she had seen through all his inner thoughts. Eun was smiling voluptuously as she looked outside beyond the window to look up at the moon that was hanging in the night sky.
“Shouldn’t you have come to me first for discussions like this? Why are you asking for help from a magician you’ve never met before? Boy has quite a harsh side to him sometimes.”
“It’s was not a discussion. I’m getting her to cooperate.”
Add drew the line as if he was telling Eun to stop saying something strange. This wasn’t the first day Eun was acting like this, but she felt displeasing to him to the core right now.
“No, it’s because I really cannot understand. Wouldn’t this moment where everyone is discouraged the moment where boy could secretly achieve his desires? Wouldn’t it be quite possible to make Eve look around if you soothe her carefully right now?”
It’s not like he hadn’t thought about this. No matter how Eve had declared one-sidedly that they were strangers after this mission, that was before they had fought Elesis.
It wouldn’t be hard to get some points if he carefully soothed Eve who should be dwelling in helplessness and sense of defeat.
“That’s not my way.”
“Then what is the boy’s way?”
“Kukukuk, you’ll find out later.”
Add let out an exaggerated laugh in order to block Eun’s question.
Well, it was true that he didn’t like this situation. People that had been always boisterously talking with each other all now had a gloomy face and was silent as if they had become mutes…..Being amongst them strangely made his insides boil up.
Maybe it was a feeling like, how someone who had been always been annoyed by the happy flower filled family atmosphere…..then couldn’t stand around and watch when it suddenly became a funeral atmosphere? It wasn’t just this. In Add’s point of view, you couldn’t technically say that this fight with Elesis was a defeat.
Add’s initial objective was to protect Eve from getting destroyed by the demons. Then additional objectives that were added during his fight with Elesis were to make sure that Rena and Elsword didn’t die either.
All of these had been accomplished. Except for the fact that they had thought that they could almost defeat Elesis but it wasn’t true at all.
Although Add was quite surprised that Elesis hadn’t shown her true skills up till that moment, and annoyed at his own miscalculations…..this wasn’t a defeat. He had at least accomplished his goals.
“Well fine, I’m also quite anticipating this so I’ll play along.”
Eun was focusing on pulling Angkor’s ears as she made a beaming smile. It was a very attractive smile but Add didn’t even give an eye and walked past her.
“Just don’t get in the way and ruin it.”
“How can I think of such things when boy is worrying so much for the sake of others?”
Add replied bluntly to her teasing tone.
“I just don’t like this. That’s all.”
As Add went back to his room leaving Eun behind, he organized his mind.
Alright, let’s say there’s a somewhat dislikable sculpture. At first, he thought that it looked ridiculous. But as he carried it with him because of some circumstances, and as he saw and saw it again, he discovered that at some point, there were some good parts about it. It’s unexpectedly not too bad; he had even come to think this way. It was to the point where he thought, well, I could compromise to bear and carry it around with me for longer.
But what happens if that sculpture was damaged not because of him but by someone else’s hands? Who was it that had carried around that sculpture all this time? It was obvious to get annoyed when the sculpture got crumpled by some random person that popped out of nowhere.
“It’s really displeasing.”
It was a sculpture that was destined to be shattered. The other members would become his enemies the moment when Add steals the Core that’s basically Eve’s life. All the smiles and overly soft kindness that he had seen before would disappear and they’d shake in anger as they point their weapons at him.
Then wouldn’t it be better to have the other members continue to dwell in despair like this? That was the correct way to think when you considered in terms of gains and losses…..but Add was already beyond the point of considering such things.
His obsession for the sculpture was transcending his calculations. Although he knew that it wasn’t a very profitable thing to do, he was so annoyed right now that he couldn’t stand it.
“In the best possible moment….with my own hands.”
Add stopped his steps and clenched his fists.
That’s right, the moment when Eve turns around to look at him, during the moment when the El Search Party are caring for each other with overly soft hearts like they always do….. That’s when Add will achieve his goal.
He had to teach those overly soft hearted fools the bitter taste of the world. Shouldn’t they then live with proper senses after Add goes back to the past? You don’t trust other people so blindly. You don’t open your heart to someone so blindly. They’ll realize this obvious truth all too late.
This was the future Add had to achieve. His current actions were just him hiding his claws and fangs in order to achieve this final goal.
Add engraved on his own heart again.
Do not forget.
He needs Eve’s Core in order to go back to the past where he’s from. The El Search Party will be demolished the moment Add achieves his goal.
“…..Even if it breaks, I’ll break it myself.”
He couldn’t let somebody else leave a scratch on it.