Half of chapter 4.
Next update should hopefully finish Volume 4 because Chapter 5 is relatively short.
I should get Volume 5 in my hands sometimes within 2 weeks.
Everything burned away.
Garden boy always played in now didn’t even have a single blade of grass left, and not even a single pillar was left of the research lab boy studied science in to grow his dreams.
“This can’t be……”
But most of all…..his most precious person disappeared into the flames.
Boy was pushing down on the ground with both of his hands and with his head facing downward. He let out a painful groan.
“No, no, no, no….”
This can’t be happening. Why? Why did this happen to me? He’s been so happy until yesterday……today, where he had lost everything didn’t feel real at all.
He couldn’t even say no properly. Boy let out meaningless sounds for a while. Then a stifling sensation in his chest made him clench his fists so tightly that his hands almost broke.
Tears didn’t come out anymore. He cried enough to the point where he was tired of tears.
“This cannot happen…..”
He just had to grow the garden again if it burned down. He just had to build the house again if it broke down. But….repairing these won’t bring his most precious person back.
“You could have lived if you wanted……”
That person disappeared into the flames alone in order to save the boy. He should have died instead. That would have been better. Guilt and self loathing boiled up from within…….but boy stomped down on these useless reflections.
“Don’t make me laugh…..”
Time was fair to everyone. Spilt water couldn’t be put back and something that was broken couldn’t be made exactly like how it was again.
It felt so agonizing and painful. But boy didn’t even dream of committing suicide or bringing any harm onto himself. This was a life that person saved for him.
How will he live from now on? Decision has already been made.
“I’ll rule over time…..”
That person saved me, so I’ll live in order to save that person. I’ll go back to the time where that person exists and turn everything back to how it should have been.
Boy(Time Tracer) who resolved to rule over time and space stood up.
He no longer had any time to cry or delay.
Add opened his eyes abruptly then got up. But pain instantly flowed in and forced him to stop his body.
“You can’t move yet.”
Voice came from beside him. Responding to Eve’s words, Add only moved his eyes to look towards her direction. Eve was seated neatly as she conveyed the situation to him.
“They said your shoulder blade and ribs broke. We used a potion but medic recommended that you shouldn’t move around too much.”
Just as Eve said, Add’s body was covered in bandages. Pain flowed in whenever he moved, causing him to sweat heavily. It looked like he had to rest and recuperate.
Add spoke stiffly. Eve realized what he meant and brought the belt that Add always wore. Add took out an ampoule from its pocket then injected it into his bloodstream without any hesitation.
Eve looked surprised by this but Add didn’t care as he finished the procedure quickly. Add crumpled up the empty ampoule then started counting with his fingers. Soon as he counted to 20, he instantly got up from the bed.
“What happened? How long have I been out?”
“We didn’t progress any further and it’s been one night. But…..are you sure you can move right now?”
Add who had just been sweating heavily from trying to move was now getting up calmly and looking around his personal tent. Rather than a tent, it was more like a temporary house.
“I gave myself an anesthetic. I’ll be okay for a while.”
“……Lie down for now.”
When Add ignored and tried to wear his jacket hanging on the cloth hanger, Eve got up then grabbed his arm. Add looked back at Eve with a haggard face then spoke sharply.
“There’s no time to waste. We’ll respond right away.”
“Alright, so lie down for now. You’re a patient.”
Add didn’t have any confidence that he could win in a physical tussle against Eve. Add complied with Eve trying to stop her and sat down on the bed. But he didn’t lie down to prevent his mind from becoming hazy.
“From what I know, it takes a long time for humans to recover when they are injured. So….”
“We’ve lost too much time because I was out. How are other situations?”
Eve looked extremely troubled when she realized Add didn’t have any intention to lie down and rest. Eve seemed troubled about what she should say for a while then finally let out a low sigh….. Seeing this, Add forgot the current situation and ended up looking at her with an extremely surprised expression.
Eve was a Nasod, she didn’t need to breathe. Her letting out a sigh in itself was an exceptional reaction.
But Eve looked like she didn’t know why Add was looking at her like that as she explained the situation for him.
“Ara Haan left, Karis disappeared. We’re staying put for now tending the wounded. Rena and Penensio are discussing further matters right now.”
“What about Chung?”
“He’s safe. He wasn’t injured much as you thanks to his armor. Actually, you are the one who’s been injured the most.”
That was because Eve’s Atomic Shield had much superior defense than Add’s dimension distortion field. This whole mess had occurred because they hadn’t known that Karis could ceaselessly rain down such a powerful wide area attack.
“Alright. Then bring everyone here. Let’s discuss what to do next.”
“There’s no need to be too hasty. Even though Ara Haan was captured, she’s still Ran’s sibling so wouldn’t she be treated importantly?”
“Don’t make me laugh. We cannot rely on enemy’s generosity…..”
Add was responding emotionally but closed his mouth quickly. Even he became self aware that he was acting too hot headed right now.
“Sorry, I lost my cool for a bit there.”
“I know how you feel but I’m saying this because you might hurt yourself.”
Why was Eve treating him so kindly today?
Add was very surprised and didn’t have any clue how he should respond. But Eve’s expression was changeless….. He couldn’t read what she was thinking.
So Add ended up saying something out of the blue.
“I’m telling you this right now. I’m not being this hasty because Ara’s been captured. It’s because I’m frustrated about getting beaten.”
“It’s the same for me as well.”
Add didn’t know what else he should say when Eve revealed that she wasn’t misunderstanding. He didn’t recall it when he just woke up because he was trying to figure out what had happened…. But wasn’t he having trouble looking straightly at Eve recently?
He wanted to be alone with her before. But his heart somehow felt guilty now that they were alone together. Why was that? He hadn’t done anything wrong.
Add was muttering internally when Eve took out a potion and bandages from a medical box then approached him.
“I’ll change your bandages before everyone gathers to discuss.”
“I’ve already done this before.”
Eve climbed up on the bed then knelt behind Add’s back. She lightly stripped off the bandages tied around Add’s top then sprayed the potion on his wounds.
He would have felt significant pain from this procedure but he’s been anesthetized already. Add went in a state of confusion and wasn’t able to react. He got startled when Eve’s hand made contact with his shoulder.
“Does it feel painful?”
Add quickly shook his head. Then Eve started to spread the potion that was sprayed on Add’s skin with her palm. Add’s head started feeling lofty from her hands treating his wounds. It felt surreal.
“Tell me if it hurts”
Only thing Add could do in response was to answer bluntly. Add face became red up to his ears as he stayed still. Eve finished rubbing the potion then even tied fresh bandages for him.
After snapping end of the bandage with her mouth, Eve got up from the bed.
“……Looks like you’re experienced in this.”
His head was too dizzy right now to make proper judgements. It would be better to change the subject. Eve nodded lightly.
“I’ve been doing this since you were knocked out. Medic told me that it’s more effective to rub the potion on the wound every 3 hours.”
So while Add was unconscious, she had been continuously beside him, nursing him. She kept spraying potion on his wounds, and changing his bandages? This was something Eve he had known up till now would never do.
Maybe if it was Rena….but for Eve to treat him like this? Just what kind of change of mind did she go through?
“Why, to me…..”
“Is there any problems?”
What should he ask? Why are you treating me so nicely? He should just ask blatantly….but his mouth didn’t move.
“…..Bring the others. We’ll have a meeting to discuss how we should respond.”
“Understood. Rest up meanwhile.”
Add ruffled his hair when Eve left the tent.
Actions Eve showed just now. He’d be able to understand them if it was any normal person trying to nurse him……. But this was Eve! Eve always had sense of distance with all of the El Search Party members except Elsword and she especially had the largest distance with Add.
Of course Add had said things to Eve that warranted that kind of distance…… But he didn’t know how to face her now that she was suddenly showing such a tender attitude towards him. He already had his head filled with dealing with her strangely mature atmosphere. But now she was treating him this nicely.
Just what happened……as she awakened to Memory of Time and Space?
Add unconsciously stroked the bandages that Eve tied for him then shook his head. He won’t get any proper conclusions by getting worked up over something he didn’t have enough data for. He had to observe this matter over longer period of time.
Shape of his mouth curving wasn’t because he was in pain.
“Huh? Big Brother Add? Why are you snickering to yourself?”
“……I wasn’t you idiot.”
Add glared fiercely as he could at the question Elsword threw at him as he entered.
Starting with Elsword, Rena, Eve, Penensio and Chung also gathered in Add’s personal tent. Add sat on the bed and asked for confirmation about the most urgent issue while looking around others that were standing.
“How many were wounded from the Velder Knights?”
“23 were injured to the point where they cannot participate in battle.”
Even though Rena and Eve had assisted them, it was too much for the Velder Knights to handle 4 Shadow Masters at once. Add nodded heavily at Penensio’s answer.
“We’re pulling back.”
“Big Brother Add, are you serious?”
Add let out a sigh when Elsword asked for confirmation.
“These guys were toying with us. There’s no point in us playing along. There’s also no guarantee that they won’t change their mind and attack Hamel. It’s better to return to Hamel for now and make further preparations.”
“What about Ara Haan?”
At Eve’s question, Add looked around at the others
“I’ll go get her. Rest of you return to Hamel. Karis might attack again so be careful.”
Rena took a step forward then lightly pressed down on Add’s head. …..She was certainly pressing down lightly but there was an enormous force. The pressure was as if his head was going to get buried into his body.
Rena looked down at Add with a face void of any smile.
“As I thought, you’re still in a lot of pain right? Let’s talk after you get a long rest.”
“……Rena, don’t be angry.”
Eve hesitantly pulled on Rena’s clothing. While everyone else was nervously silent, it was a brave act trying to stop Rena who was letting out such a scary pressure.
“Phew, I’m sorry. You’re still hurt and yet, I, without realizing….”
Rena apologized then stopped pressing down on Add’s head. Add who was finally freed from the terrifying pressure made some fake coughs as he protested.
“I’m saying this after thinking rationally. I have the best mobility out of everyone here. I can even perform space warp for short distances. So is there any problem with me infiltrating into enemy territory and getting Ara out?”
“Big Brother Add, that’s reckless. It’s not just Ran. That woman called Keris was also at a general’s level. You can’t handle them by yourself.”
Going alone to where two demon generals were was basically suicide. But Add refused to comply.
“It’s not Keris, it’s Karis. And yes, she is indeed a demon general. But who said I was going to fight them? I’ll go and just get Ara out in secret. You guys will just get in my way.”
Everyone closed their mouths at Add’s coldly calculated words. Add’s plan of him infiltrating alone and rescuing Ara was somewhat reasonable. Rena, Elsword, Eve and Chung all had various abilities but weren’t skilled in infiltration.
Not only that, while Add didn’t explain it to them, he was putting time travel into account as well. Long as he could make contact with Ara, he could bring Eun out then time travel. No, maybe Eun was already out and running amok.
‘At least she won’t get done in…..’
Eun should be guaranteeing Ara’s safety. Even if Add was found out in the middle, he just had to meet Ara then go back to the time when they fought Karis.
“I’ll refuse, Add.”
Add’s eyes widened when not any other person but Eve protested. This was totally unexpected.
“You won’t return with the Velder Knights? Why?”
“I’ll go with you and rescue Ara Haan.”
“You must not have understood the plan. You’ll only get in the way if you followed.”
Even while responding, Add tried making a hypothesis.
Should he change it into a feint operation? Someone causes a disturbance in the Temple of Water while Add uses that chance to contact Ara…… No, it was way too dangerous and he couldn’t leave it to Eve.
But Eve’s suggestion went way beyond Add’s expectations.
“We’ll discard that plan.”
“……Then what do you want to do?”
At Add’s question, Rena smiled then raised her hand.
“Yea, I agree with Eve.”
“I can’t let Big Brother Add go alone. I also agree with Eve.”
“I also think Mr.Add’s plan is reckless.”
When even Chung joined in, Add was so dumbfounded that he let out an empty laugh.
“Kukukuk, what? Everyone seems to be in sync. Then tell me the alternative plan. Just what do you want to do?”
“We’ll come with you and rescue Ara Haan.”
“Don’t make me repeat myself. Give me the exact detail. Even if I get found out, Ara and I can get out easily. But you guys…..”
“If we lost this time then we just have to win next time.”
Add shut his mouth. It wasn’t because he was surprised that Eve didn’t speak in a civil tone that she always did.
It was because what she said sounded familiar.
“This is what you told us when we were all dejected after the fight in Velder. That if we lost this time then we just have to win next time. We’ll follow those words now.”
“You’re not making any sense. Maybe it would work out if Ran was by himself. But Karis is also there. There’s two generals.”
“I’m not going to lose this time.”
Elsword calmly displayed his stern resolution.
“I resolved not to lose against anyone until I met Big Sister again….. So this time, I’ll rescue Big Sister Ara and win.”
“Everyone’s already decided Add. Are you still going to be stubborn? I’ll scold you if you do.”
Add shook his head left and right when Rena concluded.
“…..You’re all driving me crazy. You all saw Karis’ skills already. Why are you trying to do something so reckless?”
“Because I want everyone to be together.”
Eve spoke resolutely. Add replied while feeling despondent.
“We’re facing two generals. Even if we somehow win, it won’t be strange if some of us died in the process.”
“I won’t let anyone die.”
Eve promised to herself then held her hand out towards Add.
“I promise. So come together with us, Add.”
Eve held out her hand. Elsword and Rena looked at him while smiling beside her.
Eve stayed still with her hand held out as if she’ll continue to wait. Eve as she held her hand out towards him……looked way too beautiful,
So Add ended up grabbing her hand.
“Then it’s decided. Let’s all go rescue Ara Haan together.”
Their plan was decided.
Velder Knights started preparing to go back. They’ll finish all preparations during the night then leave in the morning.
Add was watching the knights pack up from the distance then moved his gaze upwards. Nothing could be seen because they were underground.
“You can’t see the stars right?”
Sociable words, Add would have normally replied but he instead abruptly turned his head around to glare at the voice’s owner. Moving this abruptly caused a dull pain on his shoulder and ribs. The effect of anesthetics must be ending.
“Just what are you thinking? Isn’t it your role to stop the kids if they say something stupid?”
Rena stared at Add with a complicated expression. It was a gaze of an older sister looking at her crooked teenage younger brother.
“I’m going to scold you if you say something like that one more time.”
“Don’t joke with me. Just what did you talk about while I was unconscious? Why is Eve saying something so outrageous and everyone is agreeing with her?”
Rena was crossing her arms staring at Add silently then she shook her head.
“I’m thankful that you’re worried about us but don’t try to dote on us too much.”
“Dote? Nonsense! You’re all trying to get in the way of my perfect plan!”
“Add, calm down.”
Rena told her calmly. Add who was breathing heavily barely managed to contain his emotions and kept his cool. For Add, the fact that he unknowingly grabbed the hand Eve held out towards him was quite shocking.
“Geez, you should have stopped them when they were spouting nonsense. There’s a limit to how soft you can be.”
“I’ll seriously get angry if you call Eve’s opinion nonsense one more time.”
Rena got serious and told him severely but Add didn’t back out either.
“It’s not like Nasods always make reasonable and logical decisions all the time. They can malfunction from time to time. There must have been some kind of error after she awakened to Memory of Time and Space. Why isn’t anyone considering that possibility? Are you saying machine’s opinion is always right? That would be so only if they aren’t broken!”
“Eve didn’t refuse your plan as a Nasod.”
“Then what? What did she refuse it as?”
Rena calmly shook her head when Add questioned angrily.
“You’ll have to listen to the answer directly from Eve. It’s not something for me to tell you.”
“Also, I also realize fully well that this will be dangerous. But I’ll give it my best as well so don’t worry too much.”
Add bit his lips in frustration when Rena tried to soothe and coax him. He had indeed been feeling that Rena hadn’t revealed the full extent of her skills.
Getting done in by Elesis was because she got struck while trying to cover for Add. Her role always had been rear support after all. Also, it would have been difficult for her to support with all of her skills in their fight with Elesis because Ara and Elsword were fighting so close up with Elesis at the front.
“I admit that your skills are extraordinary. But there are two generals. We have to risk our lives. Actually, we don’t even have any guarantee of victory against Ran alone.”
“Yes, I know.”
“…….There shouldn’t be this much value to Ara. Frankly, isn’t this a sibling reunion? Also, considering her position, it would be better for her to seek protection from the demons than stay with the humans.”
“You’re saying all of that Add. But then why are you trying to get Ara back?”
Rena spoke to him while smiling. Add became at a loss for an answer. For Add, he needed Eun near him for the sake of time traveling.
Of course, he’ll admit that wasn’t the only reason…… But the major reason he had to jump deep into enemy territory by himself was indeed because he required Eun’s assistance.
When he couldn’t answer, Rena stretched out her hand and stroked Add’s head.
“Add, I know you’re more earnest than you seem and really care for us. So…..can you believe in us a bit more?”
“Don’t say something that makes no sense. Anyways, I’m against this.”
Add made a grave expression then pushed Rena’s arm away. Rena made a face of an older sister looking at her troublemaker younger sibling then nodded while smiling.
“Alright, then let’s just say that we’re following you stubbornly. Will that be fine?”
She’s not getting it. Add got tired of this and shook his head.
“Add, you prioritized Chung’s life even when your own life was in danger right?”
“That was because I could run and he was knocked out.”
“Yes, and we can go and Ara is captured. That’s why we’re all going together.”
Rena returned Add’s words right back at him. It was an answer that made no sense…. But Rena already looked determined.
“I’m disappointed. I thought you’d be smarter than this.”
Eve and Elsword would change their minds of he could convince Rena. But he’ll have to give up on this method.
“Yea, I’m sorry. But I still can’t let you go alone.”
Those words strangely rang in his heart that his steps almost stopped. But Add forced himself to move.
Add returned to his tent in order to organize his complicated thoughts. He should pack up and think about what to do next……
When he entered the tent, he saw that Eve was sitting inside. Add paused to look around at the furniture to confirm that this was indeed his personal tent.
“Get out if you don’t have any further business.”
Alone with Eve, he would have normally tried to carry out the conversation long as possible but the situation was different this time. He might have to run away during the night if necessary.
“I’m only sitting here. I won’t get in your way.”
Ignoring the nonsensical words, Add passed by Eve and rummaged through his bag to confirm that he had spare anesthetics. He then stole look back behind him. Eve was sitting without moving even a finger ever since he had entered.
It was as if a beautiful doll had taken up position in his room. It was something he desired very much but inside of his head was so complicated right now that his concentration was being divided.
“You sitting there is distracting. Go back to your tent.”
At Eve’s cold answer, Add doubted if he heard her right. On the other hand, Eve slightly turned her head to look towards him.
Her head gesture was so graceful…..that Add’s head became numb.
“I’ll refuse, Add.”
“……Wait, why? It wouldn’t be that you want to stay here because you like this tent.”
“Yes, I’m trying to watch over you. I’ll follow you if you go anywhere else.”
Surveillance. Add realized what she meant then groaned…..but he was impressed at the same time.
No way, for a machine to have such a flexible thought process?
“So what you mean is that, I might just agree with your plan on the surface then run off by myself during the night. So you’re going to stay beside me and keep me on surveillance? Did I understand this right?”
“It’s not surveillance. I’m just watching over you. Your condition might worsen.”
Even Add had forgotten it himself, but he was a patient. Even with the potion’s effect, he should have normally needed to rest around half a month. He was only suppressing his pain with anesthetics.
“It’s not a wound that would worsen all of a sudden. Most of all, you should also prepare to leave…..”
“I asked Elsword and Rena.”
“But you should have personal things to……”
“There’s no problem for me even if I don’t eat or sleep. I also do not know much about return preparations. Rena and Elsword are helping the Velder Knights and someone has to guard the patient. I’m most adequate for the job.”
That’s true, seamless reasoning as expected from perfect queen of Nasods.
Add was impressed but dumbstruck at the same time. Nasods could carry out missions without eating or sleeping so they would seem perfect for surveillance duties. But their thought processes were one dimensional so they could be easily fooled.
But Eve was an exceptional existence, a Nasod ever so alike to humans. She wasn’t knowledgeable about worldly affairs so maybe she could be fooled in that department…….. But it seemed it would be impossible for Add to fool Eve and escape by himself in this situation.
Eve must have interpreted Add’s silence differently because she added.
“I’m telling you now but I’ve been guarding beside you ever since you were unconscious. I insure you objective reliability.
Although he didn’t know what kind of reliability that was.
Add suppressed his aching head then delved into his thoughts. The relationship between Add and Eve until how had been Add mocking and provoking, then Eve being offended and responding.
Structure where if Add pushed, Eve defended.
But after she awakened to Memory of Time and Space, Eve had been strangely pushing assertively. Add was at a loss for how he should react at this sudden role reversal.
“So…… you’re going to guard beside me all night?”
“I also did last night as well.”
How was he going to refuse? Wait, was there any reason to refuse? Add thought deeply.
He was still angry about them deciding to go all together….. But he couldn’t turn back the decision anymore. Also, it wasn’t a bad plan if you thought about it carefully.
If Elsword, Eve and Rena cause a disturbance and buy him time….. There won’t be a huge problem unless Ran and Karis came at them at a same time. All Add had to do was locate Ara fast as possible, contact her then turn back time.
“Alright, but in turn….”
“What is it?”
What should he get out of this in return? Add didn’t know yet but continued the conversation as he laughed.
“I’ll put up with my discomfort and accept your request. So you comply with whatever I request of you next time.”
“If it’s not about this plan.”
When Eve accepted conditionally, Add felt a bit relieved and also curious at the same time.
“But why are you so obsessed about this plan? You should know very well that it’s dangerous. And perhaps it would be different if Elsword was captured, but you and Ara don’t have much to do with each other right?”
Of course, they were both girls at the similar age(?). It was strange to give age to Eve who was a Nasod….. But if you looked at how they conversed with each other, there was a strong impression that Eve treated Rena as a respectable senior. So there shouldn’t be any problems with treating Ara and Eve as peers?
Well, considering this, it wouldn’t be strange if they were friendly with each other….. But Ara had been having a hard time facing Eve, and Eve wasn’t too interested in Ara. But now, Eve was being strangely insistent.
“Then would you ignore it if I was captured?”
“Ah, of course not.”
Add answered without a thought then winced. Wasn’t this basically confessing that he was after Eve’s Core?
“Even if it’s not me and others were captured instead, you would have tried to rescue them. It’s the same for me.”
You’re giving me a strange evaluation. Add was about to say this but his words didn’t come out. He couldn’t deny Eve’s words.
It was blatantly obvious to rewind time in order to save Eve. Since he couldn’t achieve his goals if she was destroyed.
But rewinding time in order to save Rena and Elsword…..was actually unnecessary. Add knew this but preformed it anyways.
The goal Add desired was to steal Eve’s Core in a way he could accept. Since he went through the dangerous struggles of rewinding time…..he wanted the fruit of his efforts to be sweet. He wanted it to be a satisfactory achievement.
Even if Elsword or Rena got captured by Ran, Add would have resolved himself to rescue them. Eve? He didn’t even need to say.
“It would be better for you to sleep early since you’re a patient.”
“……I’ll do that.”
Add who was deep in thought nodded. He hadn’t completely understood what Eve was thinking, but he confirmed that he couldn’t get her to change her mind. Also, although their reasons were different, he could slightly sympathize with her wishes.
Add lay down on his bed. He tried to turn the light off then stopped. Like this, Eve with her chair near his bedside will sit there all night.
“……I know it will sound like I’m saying this late, but it’s really bothersome if you just sit there while I’m sleeping.”
“Even if I’m not moving?”
“Understood. Then I’ll go to sleep as well.”
Eve said this then closed her eyes and didn’t speak anymore. She was already asleep. She didn’t need to sleep if she wanted but she also could sleep whenever she wanted.
Add murmured in a low voice while in admiration.
“……She indeed changed a lot.”
She became more assertive with personal relationships and started to express her opinions more strongly.
Of course, what Eve was saying was still based off cold and reasonable decisions….. But her coming first to Add’s tent to stay wasn’t something that was imaginable from previous Eve.
“Nasod that evolves and changes…… Truly amazing.”
Even though there was an influence from the Memory of Time and Space, this was truly wondrous. Wasn’t she probably the first Nasod like this in history?
Add repeatedly admired as he started at sleeping Eve. Gaze of Add who was examining academically then headed towards Eve’s Core.
I want it.
It’s extremely desirable.
Before, he had only wanted it because it was an important key to time travel….. But now he desired the Core because it should have records of the process of how Eve’s action patterns and thought processes were changing. Even if it wasn’t related to time travel, it was a treasure he wanted to steal no matter what.
Add who was mesmerized staring at the Core unknowingly stretched out his hand towards it. Of course he couldn’t reach it while he was lying down.
But if he got up, no, if he attacked now using the Dynamos, he could at once…..
“It’s not the time yet…….”
He had to observe a bit more. He had to let it ripen more.
He couldn’t see these kinds of changes anymore if he took Eve’s Core now. What will happen? How would she change? Infinite possibilities were hidden inside if he left the Core alone.
“Yes, it’s not the time yet……”
Add suppressed his greed as he stared at Eve sleeping.
Of course, he wasn’t planning to observe her forever. He couldn’t endlessly delay his own goals so he should take Eve’s Core in the end. But he wanted to collect as much data he could until that time came.
“That’s right. Kukukuk……”
Add who got excited as a researcher after a long time nodded delightfully. He finally understood why he had been having a hard time facing this newly changed Eve.
He had been avoiding facing her because he couldn’t understand the fact that Nasods changed. But shouldn’t researchers be obviously excited about results that defied common sense?
Add laughed quietly from the pleasure he hasn’t felt in a while.
It felt like he couldn’t sleep tonight because he was too excited. This wasn’t because someone was beside him. This was certainly an excitement that a researcher felt when he encountered a new test subject.
He got too excited.
Add was finally able to fall asleep late at night and he now got up while stretching. Although this place was underground, he could tell it was morning from lights coming in from various cracks on the ceiling.
He could barely get any sleep last night because he was staring at Eve while imagining and analyzing her action and speech patterns. Add was about to get up as he recalled the enjoyable time he had last night. But he then realized that the tent was empty.
Chair that Eve had been sitting in was empty. Add unknowingly stroked the empty chair then clicked his tongue. There was no way any heat would be remaining when she wasn’t even a human.
“Where did she go?”
Add had only slept for 1 or 2 hours. That meant it hadn’t been long since Eve got up and moved.
Add got out of the bed then wore his jacket as he moved out of his tent. It was still early morning so most of the Velder Knights were asleep except lookouts.
Where did she go when she was the one who volunteered to keep him on surveillance? Add had now decided to give up on the idea of going to the Temple of Water alone. But shouldn’t Add’s decision and Eve’s surveillance be separate matters?
It was difficult to ask around because it was so early in the morning. Add thought he might find some clues in Eve’s tent so he headed there. When he approached and looked, he could see a faint silhouette moving inside from the light.
“What, why are you here……”
Add muttered as he entered Eve’s tent then froze up. Eve saw Add enter and also froze.
Eve was in middle of changing her clothes. Her hair was slightly wet from the water. Judging from the bowl beside her, she must have tried to lightly wash herself.
Suddenly established silence. Add desperately tried to keep cool while organizing his thoughts.
Didn’t Nasods not require bath? Of course it’s not like they didn’t have any concept of cleanliness. But they didn’t require it often. If you also took the event from before into account, you could only conclude that Eve becoming interested in bathing was because of Rena and Ara’s influence.
Ah, a Nasod that can be influenced by her surrounding environments and alter her manner of living, how graceful!
Add instantly wrote down a page of his research log in his mind then realized nothing was going to change about this situation from him doing this.
Eve looked surprised and was blankly staring at Add.
“Wait, wait a second.”
Add took a deep breath and looked down at his toes. Why was he so startled and was searching for what to say?
Eve was changing? So what? This wasn’t even the first time.
Add made a resolve then took his gaze off his toes to look straightly at Eve. As if his gaze was some kind of signal, Eve slowly adjusted the clothing she was about to wear.
Alright, let’s play this cool.
“N-n-n-n-ext time you go somewhere…..”
Playing cool or whatever, it all went down the drain now. Add wanted pull his own tongue out. His face turned red at the same time.
Along with Eve’s freezing sentence, Moby and Reby jumped at Add.
After getting hit by Nasod gears’ attacks and exiting Eve’s tent, Add sat crouching down and sighed.
“……What? What was that?”
She must have taken into account that Add was a patient so Nasod gears’ attacks were bearable. Of course, they were still circling above Add’s head and hitting him periodically, but let’s ignore that. Ignore.
His head felt like it was going to explode.
“……Am I crazy?”
He could only explain it this way. No, why did it matter if whether Eve was naked or not? Or if she was disassembling herself?
Eve was a Nasod. Not a human.
Clay doll was changing its clothes…..Where would you find someone who saw this and became embarrassed? Seriously, what kind of crazy person was that?
Of course there might be a human who had that much delicacy and ability to sympathize. Since Eve was a Nasod that boasted perfectness that had never been seen before in history, she was ever so close to a human, so there might be idiots that made such mistakes.
But that wasn’t Add.
Eve was a beautiful research subject. She was a treasure house that Add wanted to find out everything about. To make a comparison, Add was a ruins explorer and Eve was an ancient ruin that had ancient treasures buried within. While an explorer could look at the ruins in admiration and compliment its beauty…..he should never be embarrassed from it.
Add was actually like this too. This wasn’t the first time he saw Eve’s bare body. Didn’t he just pass it over indifferently that time?
But this second time…..
“……Am I crazy?”
Repeated words. Add shook his head rapidly. He couldn’t understand his own reaction. This was now a situation where he had to dissect himself before he dissected Eve.
There were couple similar instances due to Eun’s foolery. Add had been startled and embarrassed every time in those instances….. But that was only because the other person was a life form.
He had never shown that kind of reaction towards Eve.
“I did react during the time with swimsuit…….”
Honest confession he could say because no one else was listening. According to Add’s self examination at the time, that was because the swimsuit suited Eve well, it was because she had stirred up from within Add a fashion sense that he hadn’t realized before. That’s also how he had analyzed himself getting stirred up from looking at Eve’s changed appearance from Memory of Time and Space.
But it wasn’t even because of that this time. He reacted even though she wasn’t wearing any clothes.
“No way. No way……”
He wasn’t reacting to Eve’s attires. He was reacting to Eve. Add’s clever brain had already made this cold evaluation but his mouth was denying it.
“There must be something I’ve missed……”
For him to confuse his sense of distance with his test subject? He had to get rid of his title as a researcher like this.
Add kicked the ground and got up after shooing away Moby and Reby that were still hitting his head periodically.
“What did you miss?”
Add froze from the cold voice. After looking back a tempo late, Eve standing pompously came into his eyes.
Of course, she was wearing clothes.
They exchanged gazes, but Add unknowingly avoided her gaze. Then Eve spoke stiffly.
“There should be something you should say to me.”
“……Wake Rena and Elsword up. Let’s get moving fast as possible.”
Eve’s gaze became even colder but Add forcedly turned around and showed his back. If this was human to human……Of course there was something he should say in this situation. He had already said it couple times already. The method to apologize had been almost brainwashed into him by Ara.
But even if everything was to break down, he couldn’t apologize here. He shouldn’t apologize here.
Add had to always treat Eve in an engineer’s perspective.
He had to maintain this sense of distance. He couldn’t achieve his goal if this broke down.
He knew that apologizing now and promising it won’t happen again……would be beneficial to making her turn around. Even though it wasn’t intentional, it was a common sense that a person who admits their mistake and apologizes first looks much better.
But he couldn’t do that even though he knew. He’ll break down if he did.
After some time, Eve’s footsteps were heard. Moby who’s been regrettably rotating above Add’s head also followed Eve when Add pushed it away.
“……Although it wasn’t intentional, I apologize for intruding rudely. I’ll be careful next time.”
Words that have been clumped up inside him came out finally after no one was around to hear it. The words came out because he just couldn’t hold them in anymore. Those void words broke up solemnly in midair.
Still buried in his sense of regret, Add clenched his fists then shook his head.
“This is not good……”
Add was wavering and was not responding properly from Eve’s change. Everything will be ruined if he couldn’t control his sense of distance with Eve.
Add’s ultimate goal was to steal Eve’s Core and go back in time.
He couldn’t give any attachments during this process. Pretending to give attachments was fine…. But he couldn’t let his true feelings waver as well. It will ruin everything.
“Looks like I’m going insane too…..”
For him to be so wavering from a change in his test subject, it was to the point where he began to doubt himself.
Jumping through space.
Ara arrived through the dimension gate then blinked. This space was colored in all blue and white. There was a golden throne at the end of the hall.
Seductive voice came from above her head.
“I brought her just like you asked.”
Karis who also jumped through the dimension gate was talking. Ara looked towards where Karis’ words were directed then instinctively grabbed her spear tightly.
There was a man sitting on the throne. There were no emotions in his narrowly opened red eyes.
“……Elder Brother Aren!”
At Ran’s word, Ara grabbed her spear and collected her breath. Her goal was to turn Ran back into Aren, they finally met each other.
But Ran didn’t give any eye to Ara and spoke towards Karis.
“You got what you wanted so you don’t have any business with me anymore? That’s harsh.”
“Go back to Velder.”
“Alright, you want me to let you two talk by yourselves right?”
Karis opened a dimension gate again then disappeared through it while cackling. There was only Ran and Ara left in the Hall of Water now.
Ara took a deep breath then slowly approached Ran. Ran was looking up towards the empty air.
He didn’t even stare at her as he replied. Ara internally called Eun but she didn’t answer. It seemed she was asleep. Eun had been fine just until their last conversation but something must have gotten tangled up when they jumped through the dimension gate.
“You are…..Elder Brother Aren right?”
“There was a time when I was called that.”
Ran finally lowered his gaze towards Ara. His eyes were so cold that Ara felt chills. Even while terrified, Ara bravely fixed her spear.
She finally arrived at the goal of her journey.
“I’ll turn Elder Brother back to how you were. So…..”
“Fine, try it.”
Ran answered softly. It was an extremely soft tone for Ran who slaughtered town’s people together with Karis.
Ara collected her energy and charged in front right away. Her legs looked like they just kicked the ground then she was already cutting across the air. Ara stepped on the air to instantly close the distance between her and Ran then made a sharp stab. Ran wasn’t even able get up from the throne at Ara’s quick attack.
Spear tip perfectly aimed at Ran’s neck flew in.
Ara stopped her stab right in front of Ran’s neck. Skin of Ran’s neck got cut from being slightly touched by the spear tip and a drop of blood came out.
Ran will die if she stabbed like this. Ara who had been pressing on Ran’s neck with her spear quickly withdrew the spear and backed up.
She wanted to turn Ran back into Aren, not kill him.
“Why are you just sitting there and not fighting back?”
“To turn me back into Aren, you have to defeat me while I’m fighting with my full capability. Is this what Eun told you?”
Ara didn’t know how Ran knew about this, but she nodded. To separate Aren before he completely became Ran, she had to make Ran fight with his full capability then shatter Ran to return his soul back to normal. This was the method Eun told her.
“Those words are not wrong.”
Thus, stabbing Ran who wasn’t fighting back meant he’ll just die as Ran. During her journey, Ara had only worried about her skills not being enough to defeat Ran…. she had never imagined Ran not resisting.
Wasn’t it obvious? Demon or not, why would anyone sit still and let someone kill you?
“Because end of time is approaching.”
“I’ll explain it in a way you can understand. It doesn’t matter if you try to stab me. But if you try to again and fail, I’ll go to Hamel. Think about it carefully.”
“What do you mean……..”
“You cannot stop me.”
Would Ara’s strength be enough to stop Ran if he made up his mind and tried to destroy Hamel? It would be too much even in Celestial Fox state.
“But I won’t do anything long as you stay here. That’s the condition.”
Tip of Ara’s spear shook. She couldn’t kill Ran. But Ran was warning that he’ll kill everyone in Hamel…….if she tried to threaten him despite this.
Just like how he turned the village that Ara grew up in into a sea of blood.
“Elder Brother…… you already harmed countless amount of people. But you’re still saying such things?”
“So what are you going to do about it?”
Ran got up from the throne. Cold footsteps rang across the Hall of Water.
“Will you stab me with that spear? Are you going to kill me to appease the souls of those that I killed?”
She had never even thought once about killing Aren. Ara got scared and back stepped when Ran approached her.
But Ran’s steps were faster.
“You cannot stop me or kill me. You also cannot revive those that I killed. You cannot do anything.”
He was right. Visions ran by her head in that moment……Ara had seen how powerful Ran was every night in her dreams.
Difference between Ara and Ran’s strength was way too big…….and even if Ran didn’t resist like he did before, Ara couldn’t take his life.
When Ara stood still shaking, Ran stretched out his hand to grab Ara’s chin. Ara couldn’t even turn away to avoid his gaze anymore.
“So stay here with me.”
Ara couldn’t decide on what she should do. While Ara was in turmoil unable to decide, Ran whispered heartlessly.
“Let’s watch the end of time together with me from here.”
Darkness that gathered on the tip of Ran’s hand consumed Ara.
Before she had any time to decide.
Before she had any moment to be scared.
Into deep darkness.
Ice cave leading to the Temple of Water. The El Search Party sent the Velder Knights back to Hamel and they were now passing through the cave in order to head towards the Temple of Water.
“This reminds me of the time when we went to capture Banthus.”
“It sure does.”
Elsword and Rena were walking in front talking. It was a relaxing conversation considering they were heading into enemy territory but Add didn’t mind the two talking.
His mind was occupied with looking at Eve’s back as she walked in front.
It was probably obvious, but Eve hadn’t said a word to Add since that time. Eve had been unusually treating him kindly recently but now things were back to point zero.
Actually Add was feeling very regretful about it. Did he lose something important because of his pointless stubbornness? Did he miss a very rare important opportunity? Did he mess the whole thing up because he was too confused from finding out that he was shaken up from looking at Eve and not her attires?
The questions continued endlessly. His body was walking but his mind was wandering up in the air. When Add let out a groan unconsciously, Eve took a look back slightly.
In that instant, Add turned to glare at the cave wall as if it was his sworn enemy. Seeing that Add was displaying intense hostility towards the wall, Eve who was looking at him for a bit turned her head forwards again.
Just what was this? Was this like how a little kid was stubbornly refusing to apologize after causing trouble? It was stupid, but Add realized that the comparison wasn’t too different after examining his own thought patterns.
Add clicked his tongue as he forcefully broke away his gaze from Eve. Then he made eye contact with a boy who was following behind him. It was Chung.
“Come to think of it, why are you following us?”
Add pressed his hand down on his forehead when Chung apologized politely.
Add thought he’ll go back with the Velder Knights but it had already been decided beforehand that Chung would act together with the El Search Party. Rena must have allowed it.
“I know you want to get revenge….. But we’ll prioritize Ara first.”
“I’m also intending on helping with that.”
Chung spoke softly while looking at Add.
“My life was saved thanks to you Mr.Add. So would you allow me to help you this time?”
“Do whatever you want.”
Chung must be feeling thankful about how Add evacuated Chung when he was knocked out from Karis’ attack.
This felt like a great opportunity so Add added a condition.
“But promise instead that you won’t act rashly when Ran is in front of you. I won’t let things be if the plan is ruined from you acting rashly. I’m going to return with everyone alive. I’ll get rid of you first if you are going to get in the way of this.”
Chung nodded without any hesitation from Add’s warning. He must have finished making up his mind while Add was unconscious.
“I was able to survive thanks to Mr.Add and also Ms.Ara. It will be difficult to withhold my emotions against Ran……. But I’ll help you two much as I can for now.”
“…….I’ll look forward to it.”
He was all open arms if Chung was serious about this. His strength to wield a giant destroyer, and his skills of supporting together with Rena from the back line was top notch.
The El Search Party was composed of Ara and Elsword who were in charge of close quarter combat, Add and Eve carrying out multiple tasks in the middle and Rena who was in charge of long range support…… Now their long range firepower had been increased significantly from Chung joining.
“We’ll be able to see the Temple of Water if we pass through this cave.”
“There’s almost no attacks from the demons.”
“Yes, this path is not too well known after all. But…..”
Chung spoke this then took a deep breath as he aimed his Destroyer 45 degrees forwards. Elsword and Rena who were in front noticed this and quickly moved aside. Chung nodded as a sign of apology then fired a cannonball up at the ceiling.
Icicles that were hanging on the ceiling shattered. Add looked up wondering what was going on and then his face quickly turned pale. Countless amounts of spiders dropped down from the hole that was created after the ceiling was shattered.
“There’s so many.”
Elsword and Rena also looked up and were startled.
“They lie in ambush inside their eggs amongst the icicles then drop down if a traveler passes by below. You cannot see them well normally.”
Chung spoke this then shot one more time to get rid of the spiders. Add frowned and groaned.
“It’s a sight I never want to see again.”
“I’m sorry, but we’ll have get past these couple more times.”
Eve who had been watching silently said something out of the blue.
“Ara Haan might have fainted if she saw this.”
“Yea, she hated spiders.”
Didn’t she get frightened and cling to Add inside Banthus’ Cave? Add who had been unknowingly reminiscing the past event suddenly realized he just conversed with Eve. Eve must have realized the same and she stared at Add’s face for a bit then turned her gaze forwards.
“Let’s hurry up and get out of here.”
Just like Chung said, spiders were laying in ambush in couple more locations but they were all cleaned up neatly with cannonballs. Actually, the spiders weren’t that threatening but the fact that they felt unpleasant to directly use weapons on and that there were so many of them was bothersome. But Chung’s Destroyer could handle both of these issues.
Thanks to him, the El Search Party could pass through the ice cave without having to fight the spiders directly.
“That ahead must be Temple of Water. Let’s all wear our coats.”
At Rena’s words, everyone except Eve wore the coats that they prepared beforehand. Just as they heard, there was a snow storm blowing near the Temple of Water.
“It will be difficult to move if we’re wearing things like this.”
“It’s been said that it’s not cold inside the Temple itself. So we can take them off inside.”
“Big Sister Ara must be suffering. Let’s hurry!”
“Add, do you have a plan?”
Add shook his head sideways at Eve’s business like question. Temple of Water was their final goal. But it was a building that had been built so long ago that they had almost no information about its interiors.
“Then allow me to suggest. Let’s go in first and have a look around the surroundings together. Then depending on the situation, you’ll find Ara and escape. Then we’ll retreat as well.
“Let’s do that after examining the situation inside.”
Rena mediated in between them when Add made a face as if he wasn’t too keen on Eve’s plan. Add didn’t know what was going on inside the Temple of Water either so he had to admit Eve’s suggestion was reasonable.
Ran or Karis wouldn’t jump out at them suddenly right? There shouldn’t be any problems if he located Ara soon as possible.
“Then let me lead the way.”
The El Search Party followed Chung’s guidance and headed towards the Temple of Water.
Warmth amidst the darkness.
Ara who had been holding on to her blurry consciousness opened her eyes. Large and warm hand was stroking her head. She wanted to hand herself over to this generous hand and go back to sleep absentmindedly….. But an unpleasant feeling coming from her heart was telling her that something was wrong and didn’t let her fall asleep.
Also, she still had her spear in her hand. Her mind started to wake from the familiar sensation of her spear.
Ara immediately came to her senses at Ran’s words. Hand that was on top of her head right now was Ran’s. Ran was sitting on the chair and Ara had been asleep leaning on the chair’s armrest.
Ran had his eyes closed and was deep in thought. Ara saw his face then added strength to the grip on her spear. But she couldn’t continue to the next step. If Ara made up her mind…..it wouldn’t be difficult for her to take Ran’s life right now.
But that wasn’t what Ara wanted. Also, Hamel will turn into ashes if she failed for some reason.
“…..Why are you doing this?”
Complicated thoughts. Ran answered calmly when Ara who still couldn’t decide on what to do asked with much difficulty.
“To achieve what I desire.”
“Just what is that? Why do you have to do all this?”
“You wouldn’t understand even if I told you in this time.”
Ara stared at Ran with a hurt expression when Ran cut off the conversation. Even though there had been Karis’ meddling, Ran didn’t look particularly troubled or pained from becoming a demon.
“Do you…….not regret becoming a demon?”
“I’ll do anything in order to achieve my goal.”
Although she didn’t know what that goal was, she knew that it contained a will that Ran wouldn’t hesitate no matter how much blood was spilt during the process. Also, didn’t Ran actually hurt many people already?
Ara backed out to distance herself from Ran while still shaking. She then stabbed the ground with her spear.
Wouldn’t leaving Ran like this bring about a disaster to the world? Could it be that Elder Brother Aren doesn’t exist anymore? If that’s the case…..wouldn’t destroying Ran for the sake of the world be a righteous thing to do?
“If you’re going to do it, don’t fail.”
Ran answered dully as if he read Ara’s mind.
“If you have a killing intent, hide it. Key to our Haan family’s style is swiftness. It’s based on being faster than anything while not making any unnecessary movements. Spear arts, windwalking, spirit arts, shadow and exorcism all have their key point in speed.”
“Dispatch your enemies before they even notice your attack, faster than anyone, without haste. Taking life like the falling flower petal, this is the truth of Haan family’s martial arts.”
It was the same tone as long ago when Aren was teaching young Ara. Strength left Ara. She couldn’t hold on to her spear anymore.
She couldn’t do it after all. She had no courage to point her spear towards this person. No, she could point her spear but she didn’t have the resolve to take his life.
Ran finally opened his eyes when Ara dropped her spear with shaking hands.
“Look at your appearance right now.”
At Ran’s words, Ara finally looked at her own appearance then became horrified. Tight attire with the same color as Ran’s. More of all, there were horns on her head.
Ara’s face turned pale as she touched the horns. She didn’t want to say it no matter what….. But her appearance couldn’t be described as anything else but a demon.
But Ran denied.
“You did not become a demon. You’re just wearing the shadow in your heart. It’s a cheap act that this broken time is creating.”
But what else could her appearance be but a demon? Anyone who saw her right now would say at a single glance that she was a demon. Seeing Ara continue to shake in horror, Ran laughed coldly.
“Demon isn’t something that’s so easy to become. Relax.”
“……Just what did you do to me?”
“I already told you. It’s only the shadow in your heart coming out to the surface.”
“No one ever looks closely into their own shadow. But you’ve become able to look at it closely.”
Her changed appearance was confusing but Ran’s words must be true. There was no reason for him to lie.
This appearance that’s ever so similar to Ran……this was what she truly wanted? Wanting to be beside Ran even if she had to change herself like this was her true desire? After struggling so much to figure out if defeating Ran would be the just thing to do. Her choice in the end was this?
It would…..rather have been better if Ran had forcefully turned her into a demon and made her like this.
Ara unconsciously thought this as she dropped down to kneel on the ground. Her heart felt so painful as if it was getting torn apart…..But there were no tears.
Her journey was over. Staying in this spot, with this appearance that’s so similar to Ran was her end.
This was the ending she truly wanted.
Ara winced and didn’t move when Ran called her with a hand gesture. But Ran’s voice that continued was ever so kind.
As if it was from a dream.
“Come here, Ara.”
As if mesmerized, Ara slowly walked on her knees then sat on the chair’s armrest with her back towards Ran. Then Ran put his hand on Ara’s head and sighed.
Warm hand, it hasn’t changed despite how he became a demon.
“You don’t have to think or worry anymore. Let’s watch the time end from here together……”
“I’ll stop killing humans if you don’t want me to. Just stay beside me. This is my reward to you…..for coming all the way here to find me.”
Ara nodded vaguely at Ran’s words when he withdrew his hand. Her heart had been worried and lost. But she now knew what form her heart actually had so she couldn’t refuse Ran’s words.
She wanted to be together with Ran even if she had to become like him. Even if this wasn’t the righteous choice……
Even if this wasn’t the righteous choice……
Also, Ran promised that he won’t harm humans anymore if Ara stayed beside her.
There shouldn’t be any problems now if she stayed like this forever……..
Ara slowly closed her eyes. She wanted to forget everything and continue to sleep. Forever.
“We have visitors.”
At Ran’s sudden words, Ara who was about to fall asleep abruptly came to her senses. She got an ominous feeling. Ran wasn’t looking at Ara.
“They’re people you were travelling with.”
Ara’s eyes opened widely after hearing that the El Search Party was here. How come? They came despite knowing full well how dangerous it was?
But Ran didn’t give them any time.
“Then, shall I go clean up the rats that are disturbing the household?”
“W, wait! Elder Brother!!”
Ara quickly got up from her seat and begged.
“I’ll, I’ll send them back! So please don’t stay back!!”
The El Search Party will die if Ran went to face them. It was a scene that Ara had seen numerous times in her dreams. Ara going to face them instead will guarantee the El Search Party’s safety.
“Yes, I beg you Elder Brother. Do not harm them. Please……”
When Ara begged desperately, Ran nodded after a moment.
“Do as you’d like. But finish it quickly.”
“……Yes, thank you.”
After getting the permission, Ara started walking with the spear in her hand. She was hesitant at first. But her mind was settled as she continued to walk.
That’s right. She had to send the El Search Party back safely.
Although having to show them this changed appearance was embarrassing……. It was still better than those people getting hurt.