Night at the Ash Covered Village.
After defeating the demons and also defeating(?) Karis, El Search Party prepared to camp outside. After they ate dinner, girls went to bathe and guys prepared to camp outside.
Add sat beside Elsword who was organizing his sleeping bag and abruptly asked.
“……Was Elesis always like that?”
Add had only encountered Elesis as an enemy. Of course the fact that she was still amazingly skilled and wasn’t someone you wanted to fight if possible was the same, but Add hadn’t known she was this much of a playful and broad minded person.
Was broad minded the right way to describe her? Should he say that she possesses both wit and fortitude?
“Big Sis was always amazing.”
“No what I meant was…..”
Add was trailing his words when the girls that went to bathe earlier came back.
“Guys can go bathe now.”
Add stole a glance at the moisture on Eve’s hair then got up.
Elsword, Raven, Chung, Add and Ciel headed to the river that they located beforehand. Everyone was walking silently when…..Raven brought up an abrupt topic.
With an extremely troubled tone…
“…….Is my chest big?”
How am I supposed to answer that? Add pretended he didn’t hear. Elsword measured with his eyes then nodded.
“It is probably. Right Chung?”
“…..Why are you asking me Elsword?”
Chung got startled and trailed his words. Ciel joined in on the conversation.
“It’s on big side, Raven.”
Ciel added when Raven acknowledged with a low voice.
“But girls like guys with big chest.”
Add asked hastily without realizing he did then shook his hands when everyone’s gazes gathered on him.
“It’s not like I care. I just need it for research data.”
That’s right, according to Eun’s words, he needed to raise affection points of one of the girls in order to go back to his own universe. Although he had no clue what he needed to do to raise them.
Ciel replied slowly.
“It makes you look dependable. Bigger looks more manly.”
Add hadn’t cared about manliness but ended up unconsciously staring at his own chest. He was never conscious of it before.
It’s not like he wanted to show off to girls. It was just the feeling of not wanting to have any flaws? It was difficult to describe why but he felt strangely bothered.
Elsword and Chung must have felt the same as Add because they were looking down at their own chests. Then the three of their gazes gathered on Raven’s chest again.
“……It is big after all.”
Raven was making an expression as if he didn’t know what to say at Chung’s exclamation. When the atmosphere turned strange, Ciel offered some words of consolation.
“You don’t have to be hasty. It’ll get bigger as you grow up.”
“I didn’t care in particular.”
Ciel just passed over Add’s agitated answer with a smile as if he knew how Add felt all too well.
It was second time but Add didn’t like bathing with someone else after all. Add washed quickly then headed to the campsite quickly.
“……Although I don’t know if it’s really second time.”
Weren’t there countless times that he couldn’t remember? Add stopped his steps and took out Eun from his jacket. But Eun was sound asleep and didn’t look like she was going to wake up.
“Why is she always asleep?”
He thought about waking her to get additional information but he already heard most of what he needed to hear. Look for a way to defeat D here and raise the affection point of someone who’ll give him a kiss at the same time.
“…..It sounds easy with just words.”
People here don’t have any idea who D was and the kiss part was even more hopeless. Anyways, he’ll have to think about both of these tasks while he follows this El Search Party around.
Fix the dynamos first then find a way to defeat D while helping this group with their battles. For the affection point issue, he’ll experiment a bit then lean towards the path that has the most chance of success.
Add decided his course of action and was about to move forward but stopped. Elesis was approaching him.
“You washed really fast, Add.”
She was speaking with a smile but Add couldn’t help but to be cautious. Add had suffered so much because of Elesis that he couldn’t easily recognise her as an ally.
He was worried that she’ll turn on him all of a sudden and try to strike his neck.
Of course how she made fun of Karis was delightful and judging by the other Search Party members’ reactions such thing shouldn’t happen.
In the first place, this Elesis was a different individual than Elesis that Add knew.
He knew that in his head but couldn’t help but to get nervous.
“Why aren’t you answering? Did something bad happen? Is Elsword making fun of your chest? Should I scold him for you?”
“….What do you want?”
Add replied with a low voice. Elesis was acting quite friendly but he couldn’t help but to feel like an herbivore being forced to talk to a carnivore with a full stomach.
“Shall we take a walk for a bit?”
Elesis’ tone was soft but Add couldn’t refuse her for some reason. Add reluctantly walked beside her.
Elesis stretched as she bent her neck left and right.
“Good work during the fight earlier.”
“You and that demon should have taken care of almost all of them.”
Elesis and Lu had a huge hand in defeating over 100 demons within such a short time. Of course, other members were strong but those two weren’t just defeating the enemies, you had to say they were sweeping through them.
“But you worked so hard to the point where you became shorter.”
Elesis wouldn’t have invited him to walk with her for no reason.
“So what do you want from me?”
“I think something happened to my comrade so I’m just trying to find out what. Is there a problem?”
That’s right, Add right now wasn’t Add that Elesis knew. Add had basically deflected the original Add that was here and taken his place.
And Elesis was suspecting him right now.
“You, are you really Add?”
No, it wasn’t going to end with just suspicion, her hand was already grabbing her sword hilt. Elesis had withdrawn her smile and was staring at Add sharply.
“There will be trouble if you don’t explain properly.”
She meant that she was going to resort to force if necessary.
Of course…..she couldn’t possibly guess that Add came from an parallel universe. Things like there being a world with someone similar to you was something that’d only pop up in young people’s imaginations.
It’s not like Elesis had any concrete evidence either. Only thing she had to go on was that Add looks younger than before, became shorter and…… various possible minor guesses.
It’s just your imagination. What are you saying? Did your head become strange after the battle? I already explained to other members that I became like this due to a side effect of an experiment. Don’t overreact.
Add could play innocent all he wanted. Elesis certainly didn’t have any clear evidences to expose Add. She wouldn’t have him to talk one on one otherwise.
“I’m at a loss for words…….”
But Add was marveled. Elesis was terrifying as an enemy but she was also too much as an ally.
“How did you know? We didn’t even talk that much.”
“Add usually tries really hard to avoid me. He would have quickly run away if I asked to talk with him like this.”
Add also shared those feelings. Add sent Add B a bitter sympathy then shook his head.
“I’ll take long to explain. I’ll talk when everyone is gathered.”
“I won’t cause any harm to you guys so decide after you listen to what I say.”
Add ended the topic like this then asked because he was really curious.
“So you suspected me just because I didn’t refuse to take a walk with you?”
“That’s something I just asked for no particular reason.”
Elesis answered as if it was no big deal.
“There’s no harm in asking right?”
“……You were randomly scoping me out?”
“Not really. Add wouldn’t have normally wanted to be in this kind of village for too long. He would have strongly suggested that we leave soon as possible because it was too dusty.”
Well that was true. Add didn’t like this village with ash flying everywhere either. Elesis shrugged then stretched out her hand.
Elesis murmured as she stroked the area around Add’s eyes.
“Also, you look extremely tired. Like an exhausted traveler in a long journey. It looks as if you will be fine with anywhere long as you have a place to rest.”
Add was startled by her unexpectedly kind voice and gentle touch but froze soon after. Elesis was flipping over Add’s eyelids as if it was a natural thing to do.
“……What are you doing?”
“I’m checking if there’s anything else wrong with you other than fatigue. I learned palpation during knight classes. Hmm, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your ears.”
Add annoyingly hit Elesis’ hand away. He felt stupid for becoming momentarily embarrassed. But Elesis tilted her head then murmured as if she was confused.
“But you acting like this is just like Add. You’re like Add but not like Add at the same time. I don’t think you’re a demon…..”
“Don’t pry, I said I’ll explain everything.”
“Right now was because I was really worried. Try having Big Sister Rena take a look at you later.”
Elesis said this as she took her hand off her sword then turned around.
“Others should be back by now so come after settling your mind. I’ll be waiting there.”
“……What are you going to do if I run away?”
“Go ahead if you want. But you won’t right?”
Elesis looked back at Add and grinned.
“How you add an ill-tempered remark at the end is the same as well.”
Elesis walked away. Add was looking at her back and sighing when Eun poked her head out from his jacket pocket.
“You’re going to reveal everything? That’s not a boy like method.”
“It should be better to tell them up to certain extent. Also, get your facts correctly. Hiding information and using that as a bait to control people is your method.”
Eun laughed from hearing Add blaming her.
“Boy must have quite a grudge against me. Can’t you forgive me already?”
“Don’t say that when you’re not even really sorry.”
Eun didn’t say anything when Add scolded her with an angry voice. Add looked up at the night sky and clenched his fists.
“I can agree with your goals but I won’t agree with your methods. Elesis becoming aware was beyond my calculations but this is also fine. Just telling them everything…… and exchanging information with them should be more helpful in trying to find a way to defeat D.”
“Hmm, boy must have developed an overly soft thought process as well. Boy from before would never have talked about confessing everything.”
“I didn’t make this choice thoughtlessly. Just you watch.”
“I have a good guess at what boy is aiming for but isn’t it too risky? You might get kicked out from the El Search Party, is there really a reason to risk such a danger?”
Add shook his head.
“There’s a limit to fooling them. Also, continuing to play innocent will restrict the amount of actions I can take. I’d rather just open up the room for discussion and obtain whatever information I can. Maybe I could get some useful information if I asked their opinion about D.”
“Still, getting expelled from the El Search Party is a huge risk. Are you confident?”
“……That probably won’t happen.”
Even if they were to become cautious of him, it’ll just end with tying him up or just keeping him on surveillance. But Eun must have thought differently because she hummed.
“Boy must have concluded that the El Search Party will accept him openly.”
El Search Party that Add had witnessed so war was overly soft minded…. this place wasn’t too much different either so what Eun was saying was correct.
“Boy has changed a lot. He wouldn’t have come up with this kind of plan before.”
“……Yes, I might have changed as well.”
It was to the point where Eve complimented him. Eun asked allusively when Add answered with a bitter voice.
“If everything goes well, if we go back to our own universe and successfully defeat D, what will you do next?”
“That’s of course…..”
Going back to the past? Steal Eve’s core? Add from before would have immediately answered he was going to but the answer didn’t come so easily right now.
El Search Party risked their lives to face D even while knowing the extent of his power.
They believed that Add will change the future.
But Add will steal Eve’s core and destroy the El Search Party even if he’s successful in defeating D. There was no way that the El Search Party could be maintained when he steals Eve’s core and steals her life.
Add bit his lips then turned around.
That was something to think about later. There were things that had to be done right now.
After finishing dinner and washing, the group sat around the campfire. Everyone was talking to each other about today’s events.
“Elsword, dry your hair properly.”
“…..Why do you have to nag like that?”
“You can’t have your bedding get wet. We have to use them again. So hurry up and dry your hair.”
Elsword reluctantly took the towel Aisha handed to him. He looked like he didn’t want to but was doing so because things will get noisy if he refused.
“Can I see the map Raven?”
“It’s faster to go through the hot springs to reach the Grand Cavern….. But we’ll have to join up with the fire priestess before that.”
“There might be enemies at the hot springs.”
Rena and Raven were looking at the map and discussing future plans.
“Good work today, Ms.Eve.”
“You must be tired. Go and rest early Chung.”
“Ah, Ara’s lap is perfect for a pillow after all.”
“Ah, Ara’s lap is perfect for a pillow after all.”
“It tickles, Ms.Elesis.”
Elesis was lying down with her legs stretched and rubbing her cheek against Ara’s lap. She reminded Add of a cat that found a warm den, no, other bigger animal in the cat family.
“I’m getting tired, Ciel.”
“Alright, let’s sleep.”
Lu and Ciel were about to lie down. Add who was watching the group’s actions from a bit further away made up his mind and stood up.
“I have something to tell all of you.”
He was prepared….. But trying to actually say it out loud made him nervous. Gazes of the group that were resting, eyes of 10 people all gathered on Add.
Elesis who questioned Add before only had one eye open and had a sleepy expression. But she did look like she was going to listen properly.
Add who was looking up at the night sky made up his mind and opened his mouth.
“It will be difficult to understand, but what I’m about to say isn’t a lie or a joke. It’s a truth that you should all know.”
“Don’t waste time with useless words and get to the point, now useless Add.”
Add nodded at Eve’s sharp remark.
“I’m not the Add that you all know.”
“…..Did he eat something strange?”
Aisha who was neatly folding the towel she got back from Elsword stopped moving her hands and made a puzzled expression. Add didn’t mind her reaction and continued speaking.
“I’m Add that came from a universe different than this one. I’m Add from a parallel universe.”
“What’s a parallel universe?”
“……I know what it is.”
Aisha spoke with a sullen voice as she twirled her hair with her finger.
“That’s a strange and random thing to say. But let’s say what you’re saying is correct. Then where’s Add who’s our comrade?”
“……He got deflected to somewhere else because I jumped to here.”
Elesis got up from Ara’s lap and asked with a sleepy face.
“You didn’t come to our universe to get rid of our comrade Add right?”
“……Do you actually believe him Big Sister Elesis?” Aisha protested.
“I don’t think Big Brother is lying.”
Elsword answered instead. Aisha made a dumfounded expression then drew a large circle with her finger.
“You probably don’t know because you’re stupid…… But parallel universe might exist in theory but it’s existence have never been confirmed. Also, even if it exists, moving between them is impossible. Do you even know what gravitational force is? How about attractive and repulsive forces?”
Aisha snapped as if she was saying don’t talk about something so stupid. She was acting like a scholar who just got her theory and beliefs challenged.
“Force that binds objects to each other, this also applies to universes. It’s impossible for people from our universe to jump to a different universe! Opposite is true as well!”
“But I actually did that……”
“Do you have a proof? Give me a proof that you broke through restraint of the universe!”
Aisha stood up as if she couldn’t bare to listen to this anymore. Add shook his head bitterly.
“Giving such a proof is impossible. I’ll have to scientifically prove that I’m different from Add that was here before. But it’s already difficult enough to prove self-continuity where if me from 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after are same individuals. So proving this will be even more difficult.”
“I can’t trust you if you can’t give me any objective proof. Are you planning something strange again? Could it be that……”
“Let’s hear him out for now. Continue what you were saying before.”
Aisha bit her lips and sat down when Raven mediated. Although she still looked dissatisfied as if she couldn’t believe Add’s words.
“Yes. I didn’t come here because I wanted to. Our universe…..is in danger of being destroyed. I came here to look for a way to escape from that destruction.”
“……There’s a demon leader called D. It seems he’s not here in this universe, but he can’t be defeated because he’s too powerful. That’s why I want to find a way to beat him here.”
He skipped the detailed explanation about D. Story would only get complicated if he said that his future self was trying to control the universe and him right now was trying to stop his future self.
‘I probably don’t need to mention about time travel as well…..’
His immediate objective was to explain the situation and be accepted by this group.
“I never heard of that name.”
Elesis and Rena tilted their heads.
“Clue to defeating that guy is in our universe? Do you have any leads?”
“…..I don’t know the details myself. So I’d like look for it while traveling together with all of you.”
Add said all that needed to be said. When Add closed his mouth, El Search Party members all exchanged glances.
The atmosphere seemed to be leaning towards accepting Add for now. Not only was El Search Party a group that wouldn’t turn down someone asking for help…..Add looking like Add from this universe would help with his chances as well.
‘Up to here is according to my calculations……’
By revealing his identity and purpose, he could openly look for information about defeating D…..
“I’m same as Add that you all know but isn’t at the same time. I won’t ask you to believe what I say right away…..but I’ll prove it through my actions from now on.”
By appealing that he’s different from Add B that was here before, he can completely reset the affection points that Eun spoke about. It was a method to change the negative affection points back to 0.
Add pretended to look around at the El Search Party while stealing a glance at Eve. Eve who had been sassy ever since he met her looked quite shaken right now.
Add was internally singing with joy when Aisha spoke sharply.
“…….Let’s say you came from a parallel universe. But why do we have to help you? We’re already busy with things going on in our universe.”
She was theoretically correct. Point Add made just now was a request relying on how the El Search Party was a soft-minded group. Aisha had seen through this and was pressuring Add.
“I can’t agree if it’s not a reason I can accept.”
Add hadn’t expected this to go completely smoothly. He did expect some opposition.
Add clenched his fists tightly at Aisha’s cold deduction.
He had to answer properly here but he didn’t know which words would be effective. Regardless, his mouth was moving on its own.
“That’s because…. why I’m asking you guys is because……”
Desperation in his heart formed his words.
“……You guys are the ones that sent me here.”
When everyone couldn’t understand, Aisha reluctantly explained.
“Basis for parallel universe theory is that…. there can be same people in other universes. For example, there could be a great and awesome magician called Aisha in that universe as well.”
“Then will I be there as well?”
Aisha nodded to answer Ara’s question.
“From what I’m hearing, all of us exist in that universe as well……”
Add tightened his fists. He didn’t remember begging ever since he decided to jump over time. He solved his needs by stealing and destroying. That’s how he lived so far.
But he had no choice but to beg.
“……Lend me your strengths so I can save you guys.”
El Search Party became quiet when Add begged while bowing his head. At the heavy silence, Add bit down hard on his lips and suppressed his emotions.
They won’t be able to easily believe the story about parallel universes after all. It was normal for them to suspect if a demon in disguise was plotting something.
“Give me a chance….. to fix my mistakes.”
These guys gave everything they had to send him to this universe.
They threw away their lives trusting that Add could certainly find a way.
He had to answer to their trust. He could bow his head many times as it was needed for this sake.
“It’s better to have more comrades to fight against the demons.”
“I also agree, Big Sis.”
Add slowly raised his head at Elesis and Elsword’s words. Elesis grinned brightly.
“That was an interesting story. We’ll help any way we can.”
“Hmph, I still can’t believe that he came from a parallel universe…… But I’ll help him out since he’s asking for help.”
“Long as he doesn’t get in our way.”
“I don’t think he’s lying.”
When even Aisha, Rena and Raven agreed, Add bit his lips from being immersed in an indescribable feeling. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what face he was making right now.
“Wait a moment.”
Eve asked with a cold voice.
“Then what happened to original Add who supposedly got deflected out?”
“……He’ll come back when I return to my universe.”
This was actually what Eun said and Add didn’t know if this was true. But he had no choice but to say it. Eve looked very dissatisfied with the answer but Elesis shrugged.
“Eve, I know you’re worried but we can’t just tell him to go back right? Let’s listen to him more in detail and also think of a way to bring original Add back.”
“I wasn’t particularly worried. I just wanted to be sure.”
Eve answered like this but seemed like she was going to defer the issue for now. Although she was still staring at Add coldly.
“Then let’s get along well from now on, new Mr….Add. You are Mr.Add right?”
“Yes, Big Sister Ara. He did say he’s a same person from a different universe.”
“Parallel universe huh……”
Lu seemed like she recalled something.
“Do you know anything about this, Lu?”
“Not really, I think I remember reading some record related to it. But I cannot remember clearly. Then let’s hear your story. Tell me how I was in your universe.”
Lu urged with an anticipant expression.
“I never saw you and Ciel on our side.”
“That’s different from what you said before. Didn’t you say El Search Party from your universe sent you here?”
“It’s not like parallel universes are exactly the same. There could be various details that could be different. For example, me who’s more grown up?”
No, you didn’t grow at all.
Add wanted to deny Aisha’s example out loud but quietly withheld. It felt like it’d break the mood.
Elesis smiled when the atmosphere changed towards everyone accepting Add.
“Other universes is an interesting topic…. But shall we listen to Lu and Ciel’s stories as well? Who was that demon called Karis?”
Lu put her hands on her waist then opened her mouth after looking around once at the El Search Party.
“I’m lord of the demon realm, Luciela. Although I lost my powers due to some circumstances and turned into this form. But let’s get along well from now on. Also, this man is my soul companion, Ciel.”
“Nice to meet you.”
Ciel raised his hand to greet everyone even though he had already introduced himself and even bathed together with the guys. It felt like he was playing along for Lu.
“You can call me Lu, I’ll allow it.”
“Why is a demon trying to join our side?”
Rena asked with a very wary voice. Eve also still looked reluctant of Lu.
“There must have been a quarrel amongst the demons.”
“Karis was originally my subordinate. But she became like that because she was too greedy. I fell into their trap and escaped to Elrios with only a portion of my power. Now I’m trying to regain my old powers and stop the demons.”
“Portion of your power? That wasn’t your full strength?”
Add spoke out in surprise. Her skills from before was amazing in itself.
In Add’s eyes, Lu was at least equal to Elesis who appeared as their enemy in universe A or even above.
Then should he help Lu get her power back…..then ask her to defeat D? Lu saw Add running his brain busily and joyfully raised both of her arms.
“This isn’t even close to my original power. You’ll be very amazed once you see.”
Ciel silently put a blanket around Lu who was boasting. Ciel was just caring for Lu so she wouldn’t get cold from night wind…… but seeing Lu boast while wearing a blanket around her like a cape didn’t make her sound all too convincing.
“I’m trying to help Lu with defeating the demons. I also have a debt to pay back to Karis.”
“So Karis was plotting something evil after all. I should have stopped her at that time.”
Ara spoke with a gloomy voice. Lu replied slowly as if she understood what Ara meant.
“I already know that demons caused innumerable tragedies and destruction in Elrios. You obviously wouldn’t be able to trust me easily. But I’m strongly opposed to demons trying to destroy Elrios. It’s already hard enough to join our strengths just to survive, but they are trying to do something outrageous only out of their greed for attacking the celestial realm. Warmongering faction’s policy will eventually lead demon realm to ruin as well.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Dragon, that isn’t something you should join hands with. Its flames will fall upon the Demon realm after Elrios.”
Lu sighed then looked around at the group.
“I heard rumors about you all even in the demon realm. El Search Party, you all were called the only hope for Elrios that’s on the path to destruction. I witnessed with my own eyes today and you all were truly beautiful lifeforms shining like stars standing against the darkness of the night sky. If my will is the same as yours, then I’d like you all to lend me your strengths.”
“That’s not true.”
Elsword who was listening answered. It was such a short answer that what he meant couldn’t be interpreted quickly.
When everyone’s gazes gathered on him, Elsword slowly denied.
“We’re not lending strengths. We’re fighting together.”
“That’s my brother.”
Elesis smiled satisfyingly and nodded.
“Many lives disappeared after demons invaded Elrios. People of Elrios are now filled with loathing whenever they hear about demons. Kingdom that Elsword and I tried to protect…..also disappeared into flames. I’ll never be able to erase the despair and rage I felt at the time.”
Does that mean the Velder Kingdom was destroyed? Add who was listening opened his eyes widely from surprise.
Elesis gave a slight glance at Add then stared forwards again.
Lu was biting her lips in agony.
“Although our purposes are different, they are my race. I know asking all of you to differentiate me with them is an overburdening request…..”
“But wills of everyone gathered here is the same.”
Elesis shook her head then spoke clearly.
“Defeat Scar and stop the demon god from reviving. Defeat Karis during the process and eradicate all the lesser demons following them as well. Stop the destruction of Elrios and also stop the destruction of the Demon Realm. This is our current duty and our will.”
“And anyone who agrees with this is our comrade. It doesn’t matter if you came from a different universe or are a demon. Long as you agree to the purpose of ending the war.”
Elesis stood up and held out her hand. Lu hesitated with a dazed expression then smiled brightly as she shook Elesis’ hand.
“Thank you for trusting me. Let’s do our best from now on!”
“Yes, let’s. Add too.”
Add confusedly nodded when Elesis spoke as she turned her head towards him. Other members didn’t say anything more.
Elesis changed the topic after finishing the business with Add, Lu and Ciel.
“Alright, then let’s come up with a plan for tomorrow.”