owo sorry for almost no update last week. It’s kind of hard to motivate myself to do translations after coming back from work.
Even until the next day’s sunset, nothing stood in the way of the subjugation army.
“Shadow demons should have appeared by now…..”
“Are they drawing us in on purpose?”
Add also delved into his thoughts from what Penensio said while instructing the Velder Knights to prepare to camp out. Even though they were inside the enemy territory right now, they haven’t found any hint of demons.
“But for what reason?”
“Maybe they are trying to block our retreat path. We’ll have to be careful.”
Penensio carefully expressed his opinion. Add shook his head.
“They won’t need to act like this if that’s the case. Didn’t you say demons that destroyed Hamel also travelled using dimension gates? Demons that are disturbing Elrios right now are rather free from spatial restrictions. So don’t think of them within the bounds of reason.”
“I see, that’s right.”
Add stopped speaking when Penensio nodded and agreed with him. Add also knew that for demons to move around using dimension gates, they needed a dark El, and that dark El was a limited resource so demons couldn’t overuse it….. but Add didn’t reveal this.
In order to defeat Ran, they had to go to the temple regardless of if it’s a trap or not. Although he couldn’t deny that there were other reasons they had to go like he didn’t know what might happen to Ara if they delayed longer……
“…..It wouldn’t be bad to move with haste anyways.”
As Add rid himself of the distracting thoughts, he saw Eve in the corner of his sight.
Her silver hair shining from the twilight’s light. The light skinned mechanical doll amongst the soldiers felt disparate yet beautiful.
To the point where she had stolen Add’s sight before he realized it himself.
Eve was talking with the soldiers, then she must have felt Add’s gaze because she turned around to look at him.
Add felt guilty for some reason and he tried to look away but Eve approached him and suddenly started a conversation as if this was a good time to do so.
“I’m going to take a bath.”
Why would she tell him that? At Add’s confused gaze, Eve continued her explanation.
“I confirmed that there’s a river on the way here. I already checked the water depth so there shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Hamel is called the city of water after all…”
Even during their march, they could find many streams and rivers. He could also confirm with his own eyes the river Eve was talking about.
“Not just Rena and me, but Ara will bathe together with us as well.”
“…..So you want me to explain.”
They needed Chung’s permission in order to temporarily get Ara to move around freely. Add understood what Eve meant and nodded. But her words weren’t over yet.
“Then I’ll be counting on you for your part as well.”
“I have something for you to attempt on your side as well.”
The words Add had told Eve asking for her help yesterday was returned right back at him. Add somehow felt a bit uneasy….. But Eve looked like she had finished all her calculations.
“Then let’s start.”
Blue river shining from a beautiful moonlight.
Three people had their bodies sunk inside the flowing river and were bathing carefully.
Such light skin that it would make even the pearl jealous. A drop of water made its way down the neck and made a beautiful curve as it slid down all the way to the navel.
“Ah, it’s so refreshing!”
Add and Chung didn’t show any reaction to Elsword’s words. There was nothing to say when the three of them were bathing together stark naked.
“…….Thank you for inviting me, Mr.Add.”
“…..Just call me Add, it’s easier for me that way.”
Chung thanked reluctantly and Add felt reluctant as well. Even though they were same genders, bathing with someone else was uncomfortable.
Elsword seemed to have done this couple times before and didn’t look like he minded at all.
Add scratched his head as he stole a look at Chung. Even though he looked like a girl, he was clearly a guy.
‘While I’m bathing with Ara Haan, you bathe together with Chung as well.’
Eve gave that condition before leaving without any more explanation.
Add had called Elsword because it would be awkward to bathe 1 on 1 with Chung….. But Elsword was smiling enjoyably without caring about the two of them.
“Aren’t two of you going to wash?”
The water was quite deep further inside and reached all the way to the stomach. While being cautious of his steps, Add examined Chung’s mood.
While this situation was awkward….. He couldn’t stay silent till the end.
“I heard that it gets colder the more you approach Temple of Water and the Temple itself is covered by snow. Why is that?”
“I’m not sure as well. It seems there’s some kind of legend that’s passed down about it….”
Elsword who was washing his face joined in abruptly.
“You mean the legend about Priestess of Water right?”
“Do you know something about this?”
“I heard from the other knights. Apparently some demon kidnapped the Priestess of Water who knew about secret of the world. Then they fell in love with each other.”
“What a cliché legend. Let me guess, their love wasn’t accomplished and the temple was frozen because of that?”
“Well, putting aside the legend, it is true that the temple is frozen. It will pose difficulties during the battle.”
“Having many soldiers doesn’t matter at all. Only people who’ll be useful during the fight with Ran are us.”
Chung carefully nodded and agreed to Add’s cold evaluation. He was polite yet cool-headed.
“Yes, pardon my words but the others will only get caught up during the battle. Sir Penensio has to take care of the soldiers while we attack Ran.”
Chung must have admitted that the El Search Party was an important fighting force as well.
Add thought that the conversation was flowing favorably so he began to look for a good timing. Could he possibly ask him to free Ara if things went well?
But Elsword who was listening to the two of them suddenly changed the topic.
“I was having doubts, but Chung is a guy after all.”
“…..O, of course I am.”
“I thought for sure that you’re a girl when I first saw you.”
At the words Elsword spoke without much thought, Chung’s face got heated red.
“Please don’t make fun of me, Elsword.”
“Your hair is long and your skin is so light.”
“Even so, I’m a guy.”
Add didn’t know since when they’ve become so friendly with each other, but Chung and Elsword were having a friendly chat right now. Although it was a random conversation, Chung’s expression looked like it was lightening and Add used this chance to slip a word in.
“There’s not enough people for our fight with Ran.”
“…..So you’re trying to tell me to free Ara Haan.”
Chung’s eyes sharpened soon as he understood the meaning being Add’s words. Add purposely laughed as if to tell Chung to listen up.
“She’s been in charge of our front line during all our fights. You don’t specialize in close quarter combat either right?”
“I’m sorry to say this but there’s no guarantee that she won’t turn her spear against us. Or she could turn on us when we face Ran.”
“You have to bring her in front of Ran anyways if you’re going to use her as a hostage. And she can betray any time if she really wanted to. Do you honestly think that puny chain can tie her down?”
“That’s a sign of trust. A sign that I’ll also treat Ara Hann with respect long as she doesn’t break it.”
Their opinions clashed tightly. Actually, Add had been expecting this kind of result….. That’s why he hadn’t asked Chung to free Ara before. Also, what Chung was saying was obvious for Hamel’s Lord.
Add was planning to respect Chung’s methods but he couldn’t hold back anymore since Ara’s consciousness was in danger now.
“You should already know by now that she’s innocent.”
Chung didn’t answer and let out a heavy sigh. At first, Chung had reacted out of passion after hearing that she was Ran’s sister, but he had stopped acting out of emotions after he had actually spoken with Ara.
“Is our request really that unreasonable?”
“She’s trying to turn Ran back saying he was once a human. Are you saying I should accept the circumstances of my father’s killer?”
In the end, none of them could yield in this part. Ara who was trying to turn Ran back into Aren and Chung who was trying to get revenge. The two of their goals couldn’t be accomplished at the same time.
But Add already knew this.
“That’s something to think about later. I’m pointing out that we don’t have enough strength to take Ran on right now. The burden is too heavy for Elsword alone.”
“I’ll try my best. But I do find it more reassuring with Big Sister Ara by my side.”
Elsword who had been examining the ring on his finger read Add’s intention and also joined to help. Chung didn’t look like he had any words for rebuttal.
It was always better to have more helping hands. It was a reasonable request.
“……I’ll think about it a bit more.”
“I’d like you to hurry. There isn’t much time left.”
Actually, getting the conversation to progress this far was a great accomplishment already.
Chung was currently acting very mature and reasonably. Add also thought highly of Chung’s polite actions and didn’t want to urge him any more than this.
Eve probably pushed them to bathe together in order to get him to try talking with Chung separately. Well, it was about half successful.
“Then we are all going fight together right?”
Elsword spoke abruptly as he stretched his arm out and put it around Add’s neck. Add frowned instinctively at this sudden skinship but Elsword didn’t mind as he put his other arm around Chung’s neck.
Elsword smiled as he looked up towards the night sky.
“Let’s win this time.”
It was a voice attempting to shake off sorrow and regret, Add stopped trying to shake off Elsword’s arm and replied with a snort.
“We’ll obviously win without you saying it.”
“I’ll do my best as well.”
Chung’s tight expression was loosened and he was smiling slightly.
That’s right, we lost last time.
But let’s win this time.
Making this kind of resolution while bathing felt like a joke…. But Add couldn’t help but to laugh because he found it mysterious that their hearts were one.
Eve was looking up towards the moon then lowered her gaze. Ara and Rena were washing their bodies a little further away.
The three of them were finally together after a long time but only silence dwelled amongst them. Normally when the three of them were together, Rena would take the lead so that the conversation wouldn’t stop even for a moment. But that wasn’t the case this time.
“The river’s temperature is adequate.”
“Yea, I think so too. How about you Ara?”
Ara nodded slightly to Eve’s impression and Rena’s question. Feeling anxious, Rena who was watching over the two wanted to say something but she suppressed the urge.
Eve making a suggestion to bathe together was a very surprising change. Eve was a Nasod and she didn’t need bathe like humans. They had all bathed together before but that was just Eve tagging along because Rena had offered strongly.
Eve had prepared this occasion on her own right now to talk with Ara.
‘You can do it, Eve.’
Rena internally cheered Eve on. She was so proud of Eve who was trying to handle the emotions that she couldn’t understand. She wanted to help. But she couldn’t intervene.
Rena watched over Eve feeling like mother watching over a child who’s just started their first steps.
“Ara Haan, how was your days in prison?”
Such a frank conversation opener made Rena wanted to intervene but she restrained herself. She must restrain herself.
Thankfully, despite going through bad experiences recently, Ara temperament hadn’t changed so she took Eve’s words literally.
“It wasn’t bad because of Mr.Chung’s thoughtful measures. How were you Ms.Eve?”
“There wasn’t anything particular for me.”
Silence continued after the normal daily conversation ended. Eve continued to stare straightly at Ara and Ara lowered her head and avoided Eve’s gaze as if she was feeling guilty.
Just when Rena’s patience ran out and she was about to open her mouth thinking it couldn’t be helped, Eve suddenly moved her hand and splashed the river water on Ara.
“Kyah?! M, Ms.Eve?”
Eve continued to splash water on Ara without answering. Flustered, Ara covered her face with her arm then stared at Rena. Her gaze was as if she was asking if she did something wrong.
When Ara continued to only defend, Eve stopped splashing the water on her.
“Why aren’t you countering?”
“Umm, I was wondering if I made Ms.Eve angry somehow……”
“I’m not angry. We did this last time too.”
Seeing that Ara looked confused, Eve explained calmly.
“Don’t you remember? Back in Ruben.”
It was something that happened when Rena, Ara and Eve were bathing together after they had defeated the Nasod miners.
What Eve telling her to recall was the time when Rena had suggested they should bathe together to loosen their distant atmospheres. And while bathing ,they had a playful game of splashing water on each other.
“Then that’s when Mr.Add appeared all of a sudden.”
“You don’t have to remember that part.”
Eve cut her off abruptly; Ara cowered and looked nervously at Eve again. Then Eve splashed water on her again.
“You can fight back if you don’t like it.”
When Eve started ruthlessly splashing water on Ara, Rena who was watching over them gracefully struck the water’s surface. Then, a small wave splashed up to Eve’s head.
“Just watching is boring so I’ll join in.”
“I won’t go easy.”
“Yea, of course. Then here’s one for Ara as well to be fair~”
When even Rena who Ara had thought would help her started splashing water on her as well, Ara was now completely cornered. When Ara continued to block with her two arms, Rena and Eve stopped their attacks and waved towards Ara.
“How long are you going to just stand there?”
When Ara still hesitated despite their urge, Rena lightly struck the water’s surface again. Ara quickly raised one of her arm to block the incoming drops of water then scooped up water with her other hand to throw it towards Rena.
But Rena had already predicted this and dodged quickly so Eve who was behind her got hit instead.
Eve didn’t react and splashed water on Ara again. Still nervous, Ara carefully made counterattacks against Eve and Rena.
There were almost no words that went between them as they continued to splash water on each other. Amazingly, Ara could feel her complex and tangled mind start to clear slightly as she moved her body.
Her movements slowly got bolder and amount of water she splashed increased. Whenever Ara’s hand swiped across the river, a huge wave rushed towards Rena and Eve.
Just moving without thinking about anything lightened her mind.
When Ara struck the water’s surface with her palm again, a wave much bigger than before was created. Ara had done this in the spur of the moment so she got surprised by what she just did but Eve and Rena who just got soaked lightly shook their heads.
Drops of water shined brightly from the moonlight.
“Ahahaha, this is very refreshing.”
“Not too bad. Then here I come too.”
After that, Rena displayed a skill of cutting across the water current to splash it on them, and Eve displayed a method of using Moby and Reby to scoop up water and dropping it on their heads.
It was just a light game where they splashed water on each other, but the sound of laughter didn’t cease. Then Ara realized that the laughter wasn’t just Rena’s and that she was also laughing before she had realized it.
And this felt so surreal that Ara stroked her own face. How long has it been since she had laughed like this?
When Ara stood numbly, Eve asked.
“Do you require help, Ara Haan?”
“I’ll help you if you require it.”
Eve spoke hesitantly and slowly as if she was trying to organize something inside her.
“I’ve heard about the circumstances you are facing. I’m not too knowledgeable about human emotions but I know that you are facing a very difficult situation.”
Ara stood still and blinked at these unexpected words. For Ara, Eve had been a member who was pretty, yet was a bit hard to face. Eve was always cold and objective so Ara felt that she should not make any mistakes in front of her, but this in turn made her more nervous and lead to her making more mistakes in front of her.
Of course, this wasn’t Eve’s fault. It was just one of the reasons. Also, Eve wasn’t too sociable so the two of their relationship had been dry up till now.
“Ms.Eve…… for me?”
“I may not look it, but I’m Queen of the Nasods. I can help you.”
“One who said we should bathe together was Eve as well.”
At Rena’s words, Ara got surprised and stared at Eve again. Ara’s heart felt like it was warming up. Then she recalled that Eve was still waiting for an answer so she made a quick bow.
“No, I already troubled you enough with my problem. I cannot trouble you anymore.”
“Then are you saying you don’t need my help?”
Ara didn’t know how she should answer. She asked carefully.
“…..Why is Ms.Eve trying to help me?”
“I’m not sure either.”
Eve answered sharply then slowly closed her eyes.
“I don’t know why, but it felt like I had to. I’m sorry, I must have said something unnecessary when you didn’t require help.”
“No, that’s not true. I’m happy that Ms.Eve wants to help me.”
When Ara got flustered and shook her head, Eve went back to her original question.
“Then what should I help you with?”
Back to point one. Rena made a long sigh then stretched out her hand to playfully pinch Ara’s cheek.
“Ara, I know things are very difficult for you right now. So can’t we be of any strength to you? …..Is what Eve is asking.”
“That sounds a bit different, Rena.”
Ara rubbed the part that got pulled when Rena let go of her cheek, then she slowly lowered her head.
“Thank you for asking, but…..”
“It seems you are worried about something that we don’t know. Can’t you tell us?”
Ara closed her mouth. What she was worried about was a very complicated issue. At first, it was a problem of Ran and Chung…. But it became much more complicated after she had met Karis again.
She couldn’t confess that she was having strange nightmares about her friends dying every night. Especially when they were heading to a fight right now.
Revealing it to Add couldn’t be helped because of Eun. Add had promised to keep this a secret and it seems he was keeping it…. She couldn’t tell such an ominous story to others as well.
Ara swallowed her words and forced a smile.
“That’s not it. It’s just that what Elder brother did was so horrible….. I don’t know what to do.”
Rena sighed then grabbed Ara’s hand tightly.
“It’s very…..difficult for you right now, right?”
When Ara couldn’t answer, Rena whispered gently as if she was singing.
“Everything will work out when this fight is over. It will be for sure.”
Listening to Rena made her feel like it really will be. Ara face as she was nodding suddenly stiffened.
Ara quickly looked around then bowed.
“I, I’ll head back first now! The two of you can take your time.”
“You should dry up before leaving.”
Ara hurriedly spoke her parting words then left the two behind. The bloody visions she’s been seeing recently, those glimpses had flashed by in her mind again.
It’s only a dream. It won’t actually come true right?
Ara moved swiftly while trying to control her restless heart.
Ara left. Rena sighed at how Ara had left almost as if she was running away.
“Did I speak too irresponsibly…….?”
“I judge that it was an appropriate advice.”
Rena smiled at Eve’s rigid evaluation then asked.
“Come to think of it, Eve, you seem to be very caring towards Ara recently. Did something happen between you two?”
“There was no such event.”
When Rena continued to smile, Eve must have felt slightly embarrassed so she turned to avoid her gaze.
“…..I just thought that I shouldn’t leave her alone like that.”
“Yea, that’s right.”
Actually, Eve had the tendency of distancing herself from the El Search Party. The one who was visibly most distanced was Add, but that was because of his thought process and his actions…… although he seemed to be somewhat integrating recently.
On the other hand, while Eve cared extremely about Elsword, she treated the other members from a step further away. In human terms, she had a very picky and introverted personality. Of course, Eve was a Nasod so comparing her to humans didn’t quite fit.
“Everyone went through a lot during the fight in Velder.”
Rena’s voice also became lower. The El Search Party was almost annihilated in their fight with Elesis, and everything would have been over if Aisha hadn’t intervened.
That defeat still lingered within everyone as a wound.
“I sometimes regret that it could have been because my strength wasn’t enough. That my firepower wasn’t sufficient compared to your rear support.”
“No, Eve you tried you best.”
“I tried my best and still lost.”
Eve’s voice was quite seeped with emotion. She hadn’t let it show before, but Eve must have been quite dejected about that defeat as well.
“……I don’t want to lose next time.”
“I want to become stronger and be of help to Elsword and the others.”
Rena felt regretful as to why it only her who was listening to these words right now. How wonderful would it have been if the others could have listened to this as well?
Eve who hadn’t known how to associate with people now started to take the initiative and care about others.
It was a remarkable change.
“Rena, it’s stifling.”
Before she knew it, Rena had pulled Eve in her arms and was patting her. Eve had a slight expression as if she was feeling cramped but she didn’t push Rena away.
“It’s alright Eve. You don’t have to feel impatient. You can become stronger while being together with everyone.”
“Yea, me, Elsword, Ara and Add, we will always be together with you.”
At Rena’s whisper, Eve continued her words quietly.
“……So I’m not alone.”
At this gentle answer, Eve hesitated then tried to embrace Rena. But at that moment, sound of an explosion and scream tore across the sky.
“…..Looks like we got visitors.”
“Let’s hurry and check it out.”
Rena’s eyes sharpened and Eve also turned around without hesitation.