Unpleasant sensation ran by soon as they entered the inner castle. Shiver passed from his head all the way down to his feet. Add was surprised after looking around his surroundings. They had all entered together but only one left was Eve who he was grabbing on to.
“What happened to Ara and Chung?”
“Wait a moment…..”
Add looked around the surroundings then looked up towards the ceiling. View up top was twisting and distorting, it waved as if it was shimmering from heat. But in contrast to the ceiling, building’s interior built out of stone felt way too cold.
Not only that, he could confirm with his eyes the small and large stones slowly levitating up towards the top. There was an anti gravity field formed on the skies.
Add adjusted his jacket then fired Dynamo’s electric current towards the empty air.
Electric current that went flying forwards suddenly rose up as if it was being dragged by something up top. Almost like opposite poles of a magnet attracting to each other.
Result was the same even when he tested two more times.
“…….This isn’t a natural space. Space distortion is active on the entire building. Not just that, it’s set up so you can never figure out this is going on from outside the building.”
“So you’re saying this is a maze. Will Chung and Ara be alright?”
“Probably. They must have gotten dropped off somewhere else because we entered a little bit faster than them. This structure is set up so multiple people could enter from a same place but each end up somewhere different.”
“Then let’s go find them soon as possible.”
Eve spoke but Add shook his head.
“Space-time theory is my speciality. I can time…..”
Add swallowed his words when Eve stared straightly at him. He almost unconsciously said he had been time traveling.
“Anyways, I know about this well… This is not a normal space-time. It will be faster to find and destroy the culprit creating this space than to find those two.”
Eve must have accepted because she nodded then looked around the area. They had certainly entered through a door but a wall was blocking their way back now.
“The entrance we just came through has disappeared as well. We won’t even be able to get out like this.”
“Teleport won’t work as well. I can’t get the space-time coordinates. So I don’t know where we’ll end up if we tried.”
“Then your battle capabilities will drop significantly.”
Add tried firing a Void Impact as a test but it exploded higher up than he calculated. This mean that a wide area space distortion large enough to engulf this entire building was occurring….. But he had no idea how such a thing was possible.
Of course, in normal circumstances, he just had to input the information about how the space distortion was occurring into his calculations beforehand. That’s how he could use his skills normally after they entered Velder despite Aisha’s spatial barrier covering over the entire area.
But that didn’t work inside this pitch-dark inner castle.
“Space distortion rate is changing ceaselessly……”
Add murmured in astonishment. Process of changing the royal castle’s El into a Dark El was occurring, but can it also make this possible? They entered the inner castle without any information about what’s inside….and now Add’s offensive capabilities were significantly reduced.
“I understand. Then let’s move together.”
Add made a startled expression when Eve pulled on his hand. Of course, he lacked strength so he got dragged helplessly.
But seeing how Add wasn’t cooperating, Eve sent him a gaze as if she couldn’t understand.
“This place is dangerous.”
“N, no. I know that……”
This was a scary place where they could get separated even by entering a second late. Eve’s suggestion of them moving closely as possible was correct.
“Also, your speculation about how we were separated because of time differences is imperfect. It doesn’t explain how Chung and Ara were separated but we’re still together. I certainly stepped on that doorstep later than you.”
It was true that Eve’s steps were late due to her looking back at Elsword. According to Add’s theory, Add, Eve, Ara and Chung should have all been separated. But in reality, Eve and Add had entered together.
“I judge that we didn’t have a problem because we were connected to each other. We don’t know what kind of danger lies ahead so let’s move together.”
The word connected felt strangely awkward. But Eve murmured while not noticing Add’s reaction.
“It would have been better for us to all enter connected if we knew this would happen.”
Why was she describing holding each other’s hands with such a dictionary like word?
Add didn’t have any idea how he should describe his thoughts to Eve. But Eve started walking with a cool expression with Reby and Moby in front of her.
It didn’t seem she would let go no matter what kind of danger lay ahead of them.
“…..Let’s head up.”
“Are you certain?”
“You saw the electric currents rising up earlier right? There should be a clue that will explain this phenomenon.”
Eve nodded then walked in front. Add got dragged for couple more steps. He then shook his head and tried to quickly stand beside Eve but paused.
That will have to wait until his strangely reddened face cooled down.
“Do you think Elsword will be alright?”
It cooled down. Add bit his lower lips from the constricting feeling inside his chest then hastened his steps to stand beside Eve.
His head became cooler.
“I already warned Rena to be cautious since there was a high chance that Dark Elves might set up a trap. Also, if Elsword and Rena are together, they should be able to deal with Elesis somehow.”
“Yes, Rena had never fought seriously so far.”
Did Eve know as well? At Add’s gaze, Eve answered while only looking forwards.
“I’m still worried. Let’s quickly finish things up in the inner castle then head outside.”
“……You must be worried about Elsword.”
Add asked this even while knowing he was digging his own grave. Eve answered short and precisely.
A rough taste lingered in his mouth. It felt like he had a scoop of sand in his mouth. Feelings of wanting to let go of Eve’s hand and wanting to pretend he hadn’t heard anything was coexisting.
“Aren’t you worried about Elsword?”
Why would I be worried about that kid? This word was momentarily about to come out but Add bit his lips in the end. He would have liked to blurt that out on the spur of the moment…… But that wasn’t his true feeling.
There was no way he wasn’t worried about Elsword who chose to face Elesis all by himself for everyone’s sake, in order to let the other members go ahead. Add also wanted to finish the issue in the inner castle soon as possible.
But this feeling and another feeling were creaking against each other making an ugly sound. Even while knowing he will regret it if he revealed this, that it was foolish of him to ask this, it was difficult for Add to hide the urge to speak up.
“How would you have felt……if the positions were changed?”
“What do you mean?”
Eve asked confusedly and Add wanted to hit his own mouth. Thankfully, he was only holding Eve with one hand so he could hit it with his free hand.
……. It was so stupid to feel thankful about this.
Add shut his mouth as if he never said anything then maintained silence. Eve and Add’s footsteps rang out through the empty building.
“It’s a stairway leading up.”
A spiral stairway appeared after they moved past about two more rooms. Eve was looking up to see how far up the stairway reached. Add was just calculating the space distortion rates to suppress his complicated feelings.
“You shouldn’t trust everything you see in this strange space but this does look like we can reach the building’s highest level.”
“……Then let’s go.”
Add spoke then stepped forward after finally managing to settle his feelings. But Eve didn’t move.
She pondered for a bit then opened her mouth.
“It would have been the same even if the positions were changed.”
A late reply came from the question he wanted her to ignore. Seeing Add stare blankly from nervousness, Eve spoke calmly.
“My worries towards Rena, Ara, Chung and Elsword right now are not different. I would have been worried about you just the same if you fell into a different space than me.”
Would she really? No, of could she would be….. But can she say that she isn’t worried about Elsword more than anyone else?
Add knew this wasn’t a question he would get an answer to. He also knew it was strange of him to ask this question. That’s why he hadn’t asked directly.
He didn’t know why he wanted to ask this. But he could feel that understanding this will help him come to a conclusion of something in his mind.
It was reluctant to ask directly. But there were words that lead her to answer. Add conveyed to Eve seriously.
“Would have been worried about you more than the others.”
Eve stared at Add straightly at his sudden words. But Add didn’t avoid her gaze.
Because what he said was true.
It really was. Add’s goal for joining the El Search Party was to steal Eve’s core. Things came this far because bunch of events happened in the middle. But his true goal hasn’t changed even once.
For Add, Eve’s core, Eve was more precious than anything. To the point where he would jump through time.
Is that all he got as response? Add couldn’t hide his disappointment and was laughing bitterly….when Eve added.
“I also think of you as a precious friend. I couldn’t understand you at the start. But I know now that you worry and care about others very much.”
Who took care of who? I just used them for my goals. Add almost instinctively answered like this but shut his mouth. This wasn’t a timing to answer like this.
“I know that you are a very kind and warm person……”
“No, who is……”
He couldn’t bear to withstand these words anymore….. He didn’t understand how his image got distorted like this.
Everyone else had such positive personalities and was overflowing with naive tendencies. He hadn’t wanted to get caught up in that so that was why he said couple of words to them….then started participating in overall negotiations and strategy meetings. That’s probably how things ended up like this…….
Come to think of it, he did so much work. He had gotten used to it at some point but thinking about this objectively, Add had become the El Search Party’s brain and representative.
No, it was a necessary task if he wanted to use the information he got from time travels effectively. Not only that, while Rena had outstanding social skills, she was way too kind to straight up deny someone. And looking at her act like this made him angry.
The explanation got long…… But it was true that Add had been doing all sorts of work for sake of the El Search Party. Eve shouldn’t know but didn’t he also turn back time multiple times to fight for the result he wanted?
Add suddenly realized why he ended up challenging over 20 million times. He didn’t know why memories about them had disappeared, but he now clearly knew why he had never given up and challenged again.
Have the El Search Party defeat the demons safely, make Eve look at him then steal her core. Add had continued through the fights he couldn’t remember in order to obtain this goal.
Him from the past must have also challenged countless times in order to achieve this goal.
Add bit down hard on his lower lips after realizing this. He didn’t know what to do with this feeling lingering in his chest right now. Eve who was staring straightly at Add suddenly let go of her hand then tiptoed up.
Eve placed her hand on top of Add’s head then spoke calmly.
“Good job. Splendid.”
Add’s face turned red. He got flustered and didn’t know how to react for a second then hit Eve’s arm away.
“D, don’t treat me like a kid!”
Eve was silent for a moment at Add’s fierce reaction then spoke quietly.
“I tried following what Rena did. So it wasn’t something I should do. Now that I think about it, it does seem no different from Elsword’s rude actions …… I’m sorry.”
Add was suddenly at a loss for words and flailed his arms. After finally being able to speak again, Add spoke sparsely.
“No, umm… How should I say it? I, it’s not like I hated it.”
“I’ll be careful from now on. Let’s start moving.”
“W, wait. Wait a moment.”
Add called anxiously when Eve tried to close the topic. It was way too embarrassing and he didn’t know what to say because he was so flustered. But he couldn’t end it like this.
“I, I just got too flustered.”
“Yes, I’ll be careful.”
“Not that, what I mean is……”
Eve’s straight gaze was bothersome. Add barely managed to organize his words while looking down only at his feet.
“……Sorry, continue doing that.”
Eve nodded then tiptoed again to pet Add’s hair. Add didn’t have any confidence to keep his head up so he only looked down at his feet. But he could still see that Eve was in front of him.
And also feel the touch of her hand on her head.
It was a small and cold hand, but it felt warmer than anything else in the world for Add.
It felt like he was being rewarded for the countless fights up till now and everything he suffered through even by jumping over time.
This is good. I’m satisfied with this.
I got what I wanted.
Add barely managed to nod at Eve’s words then clenched his fists. His heart warmed up and he felt assured that he obtained what he wanted.
Now let’s finish up the demons then steal Eve’s core.
Even if that meant destroying everything he built up until now. Even if doing so will imprison him in eternal regret.
There was no other path for Add. Going back to the past was everything for him.
“Let’s stay like this a bit more.”
Eve answered shortly then continued to pet Add’s head. Add suppressed his feelings again and again.
Everyone was fighting by risking their lives right now. He knew he had to hurry….. But he didn’t want to move.
Because this time will never come again.
Eve didn’t urge him to be hasty and continued to do as he asked. Add wanted to stay like this forever. But he shook his head and took a step backwards.
Eve didn’t say anything in response to Add’s quiet words and just held out her hand. Add stared at Eve’s face for a long while then slowly grabbed her hand.
Today will be the last time that he can see this face.
Let’s finish everything today.
Ara and Chung ran into the inner castle then felt their feet get lifted up. They realized Add and Eve were gone.
“Where’s Ms.Eve and Mr.Add?”
“I’m not sure, they were certainly in front of us……”
Chung trailed his words after looking back doubtfully at the entrance they came through. They had certainly come through a door but there was only a wall behind them now.
While pondering if he should destroy the wall as a test, Chung turned forwards after hearing Ara’s surprised voice. He doubted his eyes.
The place two of them ended up in after entering the inner castle was a cavern. They could tell this place was located very deep underground judging by how the only light source was sunlight coming in through the small cracks between rocks and bricks on the ceiling.
But the issue wasn’t their location but people in front of them. People sitting in front of Ara and Chung were Ran and Helputt.
Ara raised her voice as she grasped her spear tightly. But Ran and Helputt who were seated took a glance at the two of them then nodded.
“Ara, come here.”
“I was waiting, son.”
There were two empty chairs at the table in front of Ran and Helputt. It was as if they were waiting for two of them to arrive. But Ara and Chung didn’t move despite being called.
“Could this be an illusion?”
“Lord Eun is saying it’s not……”
Ara slightly shook her head to clear Chung’s suspicions.
Even without Eun’s words, the atmosphere in this place was telling them they weren’t hallucinating. Also, even though Ara looked ahead slightly with foresight, she couldn’t see Ran and Helputt trying to harm two of them yet.
“Father, just why…..are you here together with Ran? Didn’t you pass away?”
“…..Could it be that Sir Helputt also became a demon like Elder Brother and is being controlled?”
Ara carefully brought up a hypothesis.
This was an obvious possibility after seeing Helputt intervene and evacuate Ran. But Ara and Chung had avoided mentioning about this so far.
Presenting a rash supposition might have hurt Chung. But it couldn’t be postponed any longer.
“But I certainly saw father pass away, I saw him get cut down by Ran’s blade then fall off the cliff. But how come……”
Chung looked at Helputt again with a face full of question. Helputt’s entire body was covered in heavy armor so his face couldn’t be seen. Helputt shook his head.
“I’m sorry for not telling you beforehand.”
It didn’t look like he was being controlled judging by the way he spoke. Then why was he standing in the side of the demons together with Ran?
Chung brought up a possibility that he hadn’t tried to think about if possible.
“Then father…..could you possibly have betrayed Hamel? Did you join hands with the demons?”
Ara looked sadly at Chung when he shouted in confusion.
Ran at least had an excuse that he became a demon because of Karis. Helputt was completely fine but had joined the demons. It was way too obvious for Chung who had believed Helputt was killed by Ran and was burning with desire for revenge to become caught up in confusion right now.
“It will be a long story. Have a seat first.”
Chung didn’t move despite Helputt’s call and shook his head.
“Tell me why. Just why? Why did you betray Hamel?!”
“He didn’t betray. We’ve been played.”
Ran who was drinking a beverage answered instead. Ran shrugged when Chung glared at him with burning eyes.
“It’s a long story. Are you going to listen while standing, son of Helputt?”
“Been played? By whom? Could it be that Karis plotted all of this?”
Helputt answered Ara’s question.
Ara and Chung stared at each other confusedly from the unfamiliar word. They had never heard someone with a name like that amongst the demon generals. Ara was making a troubled face then she suddenly got surprised.
“I heard that name in Feita.”
“Even if that D person plotted all of this, it doesn’t explain why father joined hands with the demons.”
Chung spoke heavily then grabbed his Destroyer. He looked settled on what he should do. Ara noticed this and also aimed her spear at Ran.
“Elder Brother, quickly tell us how to get out of this place! We have to go help the others!”
“What an impatient son you have, Helputt.”
“You’re one to talk.”
Ran and Helputt looked at each other when Ara and Chung showed hostility towards them. Two men sent a bitter gaze towards each other then finally opened their mouth.
“D is Destiny. Destiny we absolutely cannot defy, we’re all imprisoned inside it.”
“To defy that Darkness, I had no choice but to do this. I won’t ask you to understand why.”
“Now the end of time approaches.”
“The moment when everything Despairs!”
Ran and Helputt got up from their seats then grabbed their weapons. Things had already come too far to resolve this just with words.
Ara and Chung looked at each other’s faces then nodded.
“I don’t know too much about difficult words, Elder Brother. But no matter whom my opponent is, even if Elder Brother Aren is my enemy, my heart of wanting to fight for my friends won’t change. Prepare yourself!!”
“Father, I believe that you have your reasons for making this kind of choice. But I bare the hearts of people of Hamel on my back. No matter what your reason is, I cannot avoid fighting you who has turned your back on Hamel!”
“Good, the time painting this kind of ending isn’t bad either.”
“Come, son. Show me how much stronger you’ve become!”
Four of their shouts got mixed up and they all simultaneously threw themselves at each other. Circumstances that lead to this fight weren’t important right now.
They just fought for what they believed in.
The end of time was approaching.