Hot Springs prison.
It was a place where Add and Elesis was being held.
“They didn’t even leave any guards. What are they thinking?”
“It seems strange after all right?”
Despite being imprisoned, Elesis was lying down with her legs stretched. Her ropes were already snapped off and she was looking up at the ceiling with her hands behind her head.
Add saw this and also used the Dynamos to burn off the ropes tying his wrist. It seemed he got caught up by Elesis’ abrupt actions so he needed to organize his goals s for a bit.
Steal the core of this place’s Eve in order to defeat D. But that was something that should be done at the very end. He needed to get an El Search Party’s kiss in order to go back to his own universe.
He didn’t know how to raise that thing called affection points, but he had no choice but to try various things.
‘Eve should be fine at least…….’
If this universe’s Eve were to be destroyed, then he had to turn back time. Time travel was his trump card, Add confirmed Eun sleeping inside his jacket pocket then turned his gaze towards Elesis.
“So why did we get captured on purpose? You could clean up this entire hot springs by yourself.”
Elesis slightly shook her head from side to side.
“Seirena, ruler of these geysers was very friendly towards humans before. She let people of Lanox use the hot springs freely and facilitated trades. But she suddenly became hostile towards humans when the demon invasion started.”
“And you’re going to figure out why? What if she just joined the demons because they seemed stronger?”
“Then we should show her who’s stronger.”
Elesis spoke confidently even though she was imprisoned inside the enemy base. But she wasn’t bluffing.
Elesis never said empty words. If she says she’ll do something, then she will.
“But that doesn’t seem to be the case….. Something feels off.”
“Well, fine. Then shall we escape and find out?”
Add had the Dynamos so he could escape this prison any time he wanted. Add was standing up when Elesis opened her eyes widely.
“We can’t. We have to quietly wait here until Big Sister Rena, Eve and Lu comes to save us.”
“Could it be that…..we got captured on purpose for that reason?”
“I also wanted to talk directly with Seirena too.”
Her tone was as if that wasn’t everything. It meant that she wanted Rena and Lu to cooperate and come to save Add and Elesis.
“They weren’t even talking to each other so will they really cooperate to save us? Maybe if they act separately….”
“What are you talking about? Big Sister Rena and Lu will be seriously fighting each other by now.”
Is this girl a pancake? She keeps flipping over her own words. Add was at a loss for words but Elesis spoke clearly.
“The reason why Big Sister Rena hadn’t revealed her feelings regarding Lu and Ciel so far was out of respect for me. But I’m gone now and Add who could have stopped them is also gone…. and Lu is very prideful so she’d probably incite the fight instead. So they should be having a huge fight right now.”
“Why did you do something like this?”
Although Lu and Elesis had fight fiercely before, that fight didn’t have any emotions attached to it. Although the Velder Kingdom was destroyed thanks to the demons, Elesis didn’t treat Lu out of spite because of that event.
She was shockingly clean and firm.
It would be obvious for any normal person to have lingering feelings and grudges but Elesis had concluded that this and that were separate matters. Even though the demon invasion had taken countless lives, she accepted Lu as her comrade.
It was a reasonable and rational decision but not everyone could act like Elesis.
“……rather, Rena’s reaction is more normal. Why did you get captured on purpose when you knew that this would happen?”
And the reason she brought Add along was because he would obviously stop them if he stayed behind? She was completely intending to make those two fight.
Add continued to question Elesis when she didn’t answer.
“Lu and Ciel are very good addition to our forces. They are very powerful and should also have information about demons. I admit that they have to be accepted. But why did you leave Lu with Rena and Eve when those two can’t look at demons so kindly? You didn’t just put them together. You even went out of your way to create a stage for them to clash.”
“Is that what you think?”
“If you didn’t want such things to happen then you should have at least given some words to Rena before you left. Even if it was not a direct suggestion, you had to at least given her some caution.”
Add shook his head from side to side.
“What you said before, that people have to live on even if this war ends, that they have to learn how to co-exist with demons. Those words themselves are beautiful, they are the right words. But not everyone can be like that. They can’t just settle their feelings so firm and cleanly like you.”
“Just what did you expect? That after Lu and Rena fight each other, they’ll throw away all their negative feelings and grow their companionship? If that’s what you really thought then you have a horrible taste, it’s an excessive expectation.”
Elesis who was listening to Add’s heated criticism smiled.
“You’re saying lots of cool things today Add. I’m happy to see that you have become so passionate when it’s not even in front of Eve.”
“Don’t mock me. Also, comparing me to other Add can’t be helped, but don’t try to change the topic.”
“No, it’s because I’m really happy. To worry so much about others and become so fired up about it. It’s really amazing.”
Add closed his mouth when Elesis lay on her stomach and quietly smiled while resting her chin on her hands. …..It was true that he got unusually fired up. This wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t get caught up by Elesis and got dragged here.
Elesis, she was troublesome to deal with both in this and another universe.
Add was clicking his tongue when Elesis stood up and abruptly pushed her face close to Add’s. Add pulled his upper body backwards in surprise from the sudden closing of distance.
“Taming Lu while cooking yesterday also… you’re unexpectedly sentimental. Since when did you become like this?”
“…..You also ate them too.”
Who was it that ate all the ingredients? Elesis scratched her head with an expression as if saying ‘oh that happened too~’, then changed the topic.
“How are things going in your universe? I’m bit curious.”
“I told you not to change the topic.”
“I’ll tell you if you tell me. Come on, go ahead.”
Add frowned when Elesis sat down and spoke while holding out her hand.
“9 of us didn’t even all gather there.”
“But judging from what you said, you seemed to know everyone except Lu and Ciel. What happened?”
“…..You and Raven turned to the demons’ side. You two are enemies of the El Search Party.”
Unexpectedly, Elesis didn’t show particular signs of being surprised.
“Really? So that’s why you’re so reluctant of me. Figures….”
“You must not believe me or it must not feel all that real for you.”
“Of course it doesn’t feel real. We’re different people in the end. Although I guess you can’t completely deny that we’re different……”
Elesis let the topic slide then asked again with an expression as if she forgot something really important.
“So? What happened to Elsword?”
“He grew up exponentially. He’s El Search Party’s current…..”
Add pondered on what he should say for a moment then spoke out without realizing.
It was by Elsword’s decision that everyone faced D so that Add could escape despite knowing the consequences. No other word was more fitting considering his determination and ability to act at that moment.
“Yes, that’s my brother for you. Magnificent.”
Elesis was overjoyed and smacked her knee. Add had never seen Elesis react so gladly that he asked.
“Does it make you that happy?”
“Of course. What can be happier than hearing that your brother grew up? I’d like to have a party if we have the time. Should I give him a hug when I see him next time?”
Add sighed from seeing Elesis make such a fuss about it.
“Elsword I’m talking about isn’t the Elsword you know.”
“Why does that matter?”
Elesis spoke as if it was no big deal.
“Aisha said that parallel universes are different possibilities. I don’t know why but I think that it could be somehow possible for me to join the demons and become enemy of the El Search Party. Although it will be difficult for me to apologize to you properly even if you reprimand me about it.”
“What’s your point?”
“That Elsword still has more room for growth. Although we’ll have to keep this a secret from Elsword since it’s not subtle.”
Just like she said, it wasn’t subtle indeed. Elesis spoke clearly.
“The reason you wanted to be with us was because we were your comrades also in the place you were right? You did this even though you knew that we were different from people that you knew.”
“Even though universes are different, our wills are connected.”
It was a random thing to say but Add gave up trying to refute. It looked like Elesis had already made up her mind so it didn’t feel like she’d listen no matter how much he talked.
And there was also a part that he couldn’t completely deny.
“Anyways, lets return to what we were talking about before. Why did you put Lu and Rena….”
Add was trying to return to the original topic but frowned. Steps coming up to their prison cell was heard. Elesis noticed too and got up.
“Sorry but let’s talk about that again later.”
Elesis and Add exited the prison and headed to the palace while being surrounded by mermaids. Mermaids were startled when they saw Add and Elesis had untied their ropes but it looked like they had accepted trying to bind them was useless.
“Where are we going?”
“They’re obviously guiding us to Seirena, ruler of these hot springs right?”
When Elesis asked the mermaids forwardly, they frowned and didn’t say anything.
“It must be true since they aren’t answering.”
“Silence, human! Stop talking or else!”
“I’m sorry but I’ll have to talk a bit more. Why did your people suddenly become hostile towards humans? I heard that your people were in friendly terms with people of Lanox not too long ago.”
When her warning got ignored, mermaid swung her spear angrily at Elesis’ head. But Elesis easily grabbed the spear’s shaft.
She had grabbed the spear that mermaid swung at full strength as if she was grabbing a chopstick.
“I asked you a question, you should answer.”
Mermaid tried to pull back her spear with a surprised expression but it was useless. The spear Elesis was grabbing lightly with just one hand didn’t even budge no matter how much mermaid struggled to pull it out.
Other mermaids realized the situation and they all pointed their spears towards Elesis. But Elesis remained calm.
“We’re talking right now. I’m not trying to pick a fight so answer me.”
“I’ll let go if you answer.”
Elesis spoke soft but sternly while looking at the mermaid. Mermaid who was struggling to pull her spear back looked around at her comrades as if she didn’t know what to do.
Mermaid was at a loss for options so she spat out an answer while scowling.
“Everything is decided by our Queen.”
“I see, so Seirena decided……”
Elesis trailed her words then let go of the spear. Mermaid didn’t expect the spear to be let go all of a sudden so she fell backwards then Elesis confidently started to walk forwards. Mermaids that were on guard got surprised and quickly followed after her but Elesis’ steps were too fast.
Add asked after catching up to Elesis with Dynamo’s flight.
“Where are you going?”
“To meet Seirena.”
“Do you know where she is?”
“I already memorized the terrain while we were being led here.”
Just like she said, Elesis didn’t hesitate in any crossroads. Mermaids that should have been escorting Add and Elesis followed them hastily but they couldn’t catch up to the two because they were too fast.
If Elesis and Add tried to escape, then they could send a signal to bring in more troops. But the place where two of them were heading was Seirena’s palace. So they couldn’t decide on their actions and were just hastily trying to catch up to the two of them.
“……This is absurd.”
She moved about inside the enemy base as if it was her own house and enemies couldn’t even lay a finger on her. Add who also had high a mobility could do the same thing as her if he wanted to.
But Elesis’ attitude was different.
Elesis walking up the stairs boldly, and mermaids were hastily following her. It almost looked like Elesis was the queen and mermaids were her vassals.
Elesis slightly turned her head to look at Add then grinned.
“You must have liked it.”
Elesis laughed from hearing Add’s snort then continued moving. Stairs ended then a wide open area appeared.
Many mermaids were standing in lines left and right and a particularly beautiful mermaid was sitting on a throne. No introductions were needed to tell that this was the ruler of the hot springs Seirena.
We might have to fight. Add was preparing as they approached Seirena but Elesis spoke as if she just remembered.
“Come to think of it…..It seems Seirena likes handsome males.”
“Wouldn’t Add be just fine?”
Hey, what are you talking about? Add was about to question her from having an ominous feeling but Elesis was already approaching Seirena.
Elesis stopped at a distance where they could talk to each other. It was just the right amount of distance where she would be stopped by mermaids around Seirena if she took even one more step further. It was a perfect judgement of distance.
Elesis met Seirena’s eyes then payed her respects.
“Hello, Seirena. I’m El Search Party’s Elesis.”
“……Captain of the now gone Velder Kingdom’s Red Knights. I did hear about you.”
Seirena nodded with a reluctant expression then accepted Elesis’ greeting.
“Then shall we start talking?”
Add stood beside Elesis. Then mermaids that should have been escorting Elesis and Add finally came up the stairs and tried to surround the two of them. Seirena frowned and waved her hand.
Mermaids that were out of breath and close to fainting bowed then scattered to the sides.
“It seems my servants aren’t enough to stop you.”
“Thanks for the compliment, we didn’t come here to fight for no reason. We came to talk.”
“Then speak, I’ll listen for now.”
Seirena looked apathetic. Elesis didn’t mind Seirena’s expression and demanded one-sidedly.
“I’d like you to stand on the side of humans and help us defeat the demons. If Scar revives the demon god, Elrios that’s already in so much turmoil will be completely destroyed. He must be stopped.”
“I refused that request already long ago. I also don’t plan on letting you through this place.”
“Really? Then what are you planning to do if demon god revives? Elrios will be destroyed, do you think this hot springs will be safe?”
Seirena pressed her hand on her forehead then frowned. Elesis shook her head exaggeratedly then spoke with a regrettable tone.
“Alright, fine. But I came with a fresh new offer this time. Decide after you listen to it.”
So we’ll have to fight if this offer doesn’t work out? But something ridiculous came into Add’s ears while he was preparing the pace coordinates.
“If you help us, Add will remain here and be your servant.”
Add got surprised from such endless and bottomless words that he turned around to look at Elesis. Elesis nonchalantly continued talking.
“How about it? Isn’t it a great condition?”
“Hey, what are you……”
Add was at a loss for words. Seirena made a long sigh.
“Hmm, he’s quite…..”
Add didn’t know how to react when Seirena stared at him intensely. It was his first time getting such an intense gaze that he just wanted to avoid it soon as possible.
“He’s fine. …..Alright.”
“Really? Then you’ll help us right?”
Was she going to buy their trust by selling him out? Soon as Add realized Elesis’ intentions, his head boiled up immediately. No, she could just stomp down on them with force and make them listen. What was she doing?
Not only did he dislike her method…..what Elesis said made him angry, frustrated, dumbfounded,
Add was clenching his fists tightly when Seirena shook her head.
“But I can’t betray general Scar…..”
“Does he not suit your tastes?”
Elesis leisurely continued the conversation. Add stretched out his hand to grab Elesis’ shoulder. It was difficult to resist punching her face.
“What the heck are you doing?”
“Weren’t you listening?”
Add fumed up when Elesis spoke leisurely.
“I already researched Seirena’s preferences. Actually, Ciel was the most appropriate but it didn’t seem like it would work because of Lu, so the next up in line was you.”
“Are you telling me to cooperate in something this stupid? You’re going to hand me over to them?”
“Do you have any problems with that?”
Add’s patience snapped when Elesis still remained leisurely.
Add’s fist flew into Elesis’ face without him realizing but Elesis easily grabbed Add’s fist as if she was handling a child’s temper tantrum.
“You’ll get hurt if you punch like this. I’ll teach you a better form next time.”
“Don’t mess with me!”
Dynamo answered to Add’s rage and gave off electric currents.
They were in middle of the enemy’s base and in front of enemy’s leader. He should obviously restrain himself even if he had things he wanted to say and do. He had wait for a next chance. Elesis might be doing this because she had some other intentions. Fighting here would be just fighting amongst allies. It won’t be of any help.
He knew all of those. He knew…. But he couldn’t suppress his rage.
Elesis made a strange bitter smile when she saw how enraged Add was.
Leisurely smile, but no matter how strong Elesis was, she was barehanded right now. Will she be able to handle Add who was filled to the brim with rage?
Add was about to act without thinking about the consequences when….. Seirena groaned.
“I can’t betray general Scar…..”
Elesis ignored Add who was about to attack her then turned her gaze towards Seirena. Elesis’ face looked serious unlike before.
“Get ready, Add.”
Add answered in reflex even while still furious, and at the moment when he was regretting doing so….. geyser burst up from the ground.
Hail of Rena’s arrows chased after Lu. Lu jumped to hide behind a rock then jumped again by stepping on magic circles to dodge the incoming arrows.
“It’s my turn now!!”
Lu kicked the ground as she lowered her stance then charged in while swinging her gauntlets. It looked like she was just pushing in with a brute force but not only was Lu’s body quite small…. her strength was incomparably large!
Rena admitted she had no chance if she faced Lu’s attack head on so she backed out and responded by slanting her sword perfectly to let Lu’s fists graze by.
“Ooh! You’re quite skilled!!”
“Don’t take me lightly!!”
Rena swung her sword upwards to deflect Lu’s fist then immediately threw a kick. A miraculous kick mixed in amongst sword strikes, Lu exclaimed then blocked with her gauntlet but a sword strike flew towards her right after. Lu backed out while blocking each kicks and swords strikes of Rena’s combination attack.
It was a quite frantic exchange of offense and defense but Lu’s face didn’t show any tension and only held a grin. On the other hand, on Rena’s face was rage. Unlike her usual cold self, she became even more enraged as she fought.
Not losing one’s cool during a fight was basic of basics. But Rena was ignoring this and letting rage burn up her entire body.
“Alright, fine. Try some more, beautiful Elf!”
Lu was blocking all of Rena’s attacks and evaluating each one of them as if she was inciting Rena to continue. Lu was speaking out because she was honestly impressed…..but it would only sound like mockery in the attacker’s perspective.
Detestable demon that drove her race to the brink of extermination was blocking all her attacks and even praising her.
You wouldn’t be a person if you didn’t get angry. Rena’s sword strikes became even faster.
Eve who was looking from afar noticed Rena’s state and called to her but her voice didn’t reach Rena’s ears. It wasn’t like Rena who was always cold to let this fight happen in the first place.
“…..Also there’s some error in saying that she was always cold.”
Eve also knew Rena before her personality had changed. How kind, friendly and thoughtful she was towards everyone.
But demons hunted down the Elves. How they not only fought the Elves but massacred even the civilians, such acts couldn’t be described as anything else but hunting. Rena became a completely different person after witnessing deaths of her people and her village in turn into ashes.
And the emotions she had kept suppressed all this time was coming up to the surface as she fought Lu right now.
“…..Although I don’t know about emotions.”
But she knew about fights. If this goes on one of Lu or Rena will get critically injured or even die. But timing to stop them didn’t show itself too easily.
“Just why did Elesis…..”
Eve continued to stare while feeling restless but the fight was becoming even more fierce. Rena spun around to deflect all of Lu’s soul strikes with her sword then twirled her sword around in place as she fixed her stance.
Rena was determined to finish this in a close quarter combat. Lu clashed her two gauntlets loudly while smiling.
“Alright, come at me!”
Rena slid in as she swung her sword. It was an attack putting into account Lu had a small stature. But Lu read this beforehand and jumped up high to dodge then summoned a magic circle midair and stepped on it to charge in head on.
“Try taking this on!!”
Usual Rena would have obviously dodged then counterattacked, but she didn’t have such intentions right now. Lu who even had the force of the magic circle behind her attack, throwing her entire body like a bullet and Rena who was trying to hit the attack back directly. It was a moment where the fight was going to be decided.
Just when their full powered attacks were about to clash…..
A strange sound rang out. It was a strange sound to be considered person’s flesh tearing and blood spurting out. Rena and Lu looked at the result then paused.
Oberon’s body was crumpled after taking their attacks from both sides. Even though he had definitely made a defensive stance, his head was crushed and half of his waist had been torn off.
“…..So you can at least stop them this way.”
Eve slowly withdrew her hand then evaluated coldly. Oberon who took Rena and Lu’s attack staggered then collapsed.
Eve looked at him and evaluated composedly.
“Good work, Oberon. I’ll fix you up later so go back for now.”
Oberon wasn’t moving even after being given an order. Eve recognised that he was literally shattered and couldn’t move so she called Ophelia to send Oberon back.
After having their heated fight intervened by Eve, Rena and Lu had stopped and were catching their breaths.
But judging by their still riled up expressions, it looked like throwing even a single pebble towards their direction would get them back into trying to kill each other.
“You’re going too far, Rena.”
Rena who was breathing heavily turned to glance slightly at Eve. Eve spoke composedly while staring at Rena who still looked furious.
“I won’t say that I know how you feel. I don’t know about emotions anyways. But what will you say to Elesis if you kill Lu like this?”
“There’s no way I’d die from something like this so that’s a needless worry.”
Lu also was breathing heavily while smacking her lips. She looked like an excited child stomping her feet after being trapped in a room.
Eve was bit hesitant but spoke out. Rena couldn’t say it so she had to instead.
“Lu, what do you think you’re doing by provoking Rena? There shouldn’t be anything good for you even if you win or lose.”
“It’s my policy to not avoid fights!”
“…..There will be a need to adjust that policy. At least inside the El Search Party.”
Eve replied coldly then closed her eyes. She had never imagined she’d be taking the mediating role like this, but there was no other choice.
“Try talking with each other for just 5 minutes. I won’t stop you two if you still want to fight after that.”
Oberon had literally thrown away his entire body to cool this fight down and Rena and Lu had stopped out of respect for Eve’s decision. If the two of them decided to fight again, there was no way Eve could stop them.
Rena and Lu wordlessly accepted Eve’s request then looked at each other. After some time had passed, Rena didn’t say anything as if she was regretting letting her anger get to her head.
One who opened their mouth first was Lu.
“Like I said before, you can blame me, you can hate me. It’s obvious for you to demand to me why didn’t you stop your race from running rampant? What have you been doing all this time and trying to stop the demons now? It’s not just you, there will be many more who will demand the same things from me.”
“Tell me beautiful Elf, is my head that desirable? Will obtaining my head allow you to let go of your grudge against the demons and forgive them? Will you have completed your vengeance then?”
Rena bit down hard on her lips.
“Stop saying such nonsense. I won’t ever forgive…..”
“Yes, it’s fine if you don’t forgive. Don’t forgive. I don’t have any intention to ask for forgiveness!”
Lu spoke boldly. Rena unknowingly grabbed her sword again at this overly brazen response.
“No matter how much I ask for forgiveness, will that even reach you and your people’s hearts? Such thing isn’t possible. Lost families, destroyed homes won’t come back as how they were. Time is cruel to everyone. No amount of hatred can turn it back.”
“You can hate me, you can loathe me. I’m already prepared for it. But….even so, I won’t let myself be beaten so easily! I won’t ask for forgiveness, bow by head, apologize with tears or lay down my life to appease the souls of the dead!”
She already made her decision. Lu looked straightly at Rena.
“I know that such empty apology and regrets without any sincerity won’t bring about anything. Even still, I cannot let myself be killed so easily. It might have been different before, but now I have a soul companion who’s more precious to me than anything else. So even if the voices of hatred towards me fills the earth, I won’t let myself be beaten so easily.”
“Then what are you going to do?”
Lu’s voice didn’t waver despite Rena’s rage filled voice.
“If there are any wrongs my race has committed, then I’ll carry them all upon myself to solve everything completely once and for all. This is my decision as lord of the Demon Realm.”
“So yes, your rage is just, it’s correct. Detest me.”
Rena bit her lips and didn’t say anything for a while. As Eve stared quietly, cold wind blew by and Rena slowly turned around.
“……I’ll go save Elesis for now.”
“Yes, I got it. Let’s go together.”
Rena didn’t answer but it seemed she acknowledged Lu accompanying her. Eve finally relaxed and slowly followed the two of them.
Eve had somehow managed to stitch things up right now you never knew what might happen next time. She had to consult others about this…..
But let’s first handle the situation at hand.
“Elesis wouldn’t get hurt but that useless person is…..”
Eve spoke to herself worriedly then hastened her steps.