From under the short brown hair, tired light green eyes looked at him.
Andert, who smiled playfully as always, patted Raphael on the shoulder and said hello.
[Are you sure you’re alive, Raphael? The effect of ‘Charity’ sure is great. I almost thought that a body was crawling in.]
Raphael didn’t have the energy to laugh at Andert’s joke. No, it was more like he couldn’t bring himself to laugh.
For he had found traces of agony in Andert’s darkened, sunken eyes.
[I’ll tell you this just in case.]
[Don’t think about dying in vain. I don’t allow your dogmatism. I’m your superior. You have to stand by me until this war is over.]
Andert looked at him with a slightly surprised expression. However, for some reason, the positive-affirmation he was waiting for did not arrive.
He hadn’t drank any alcohol, but his heart was beating fast.. Raphael grabbed Andert’s hand on his shoulder, with the force to break it.
[Answer me, Andert.]
[…What’s so hard about such a thing? I’ll keep it in mind, so don’t worry about unnecessary things and just focus on recovering.]
Andert, who stepped back to the side, smiled coolly.
[Because you’re the only one who can command this army.]
When he faced that unpretentious smile, Raphael felt like a rock that weighed on his heart disappeared.
Andert does not lie. Knowing that, a sense of relief came over him despite the obviousness of the statement.
Then, the space-time medium distorted again. Before he knew it, he was lying in bed again, gasping for air.
His low-hearing gradually recovered.
He’d be able to go to the battlefield in the next five days. It was when he was wandering through the sand in the heat, his feet grabbing onto solid ground like a leech.
From beyond the barracks, a voice ripped through Raphael’s heart.
[No, Sir Andert. The commander-in-chief will never allow you to move.]
[But no matter how much I think about it, I’m the only one who’s fit for the job. I am the only one who can deal with Gargoyle and climb the cliff, enter the castle of Mephisto and confuse their main ranks – take advantage of the confusion to aim for Mephisto’s neck. Does that not mean everything?]
[I don’t need permission. I’m going to take the initiative for this myself. Tell him it was my dogmatism acting up.]
A wasteland of sand. Soldiers waiting for their deaths.
Andert, who was silently staring at the world surrounding him, was finally going to move alone.
Towards the Great Wizard Mephisto, who would become his final destination and tomb.
That won’t do.
Raphael, who trembled convulsively, fell from his bed and crawled on the ground. The commanders rushed to seize him urgently.
[Won’t you get these hands off of me?! Wait! Stop right now, Andert! You can’t die! I won’t let you die like this!]
Andert did not look back at Raphael.
Alas, his spirit gradually faded away.
Andert’s feet kicked into the black flames. Once you entered that hell, you won’t be able to come back.
Knowing that more than anyone else, Raphael was in despair.
[Come back here right now, Andert Fager!]
At some point, the world became dark. He didn’t know how long it’d been. From beyond the darkness came Andert’s words of consolation. It was the nostalgic voice of his best friend.
[It’s not your fault, Raphael.]
That can’t be true.
It’s most definitely my fault, Andert. I killed you. I was sick, and a moron, and I drove you to your death.
And yet you are still my sword. Whether you live or die, you must do it by my side.
If you have to, you can’t be dead.
Hurry and come back. There’s no point in a peace attained by losing you – you believe so as well, do you not? You do, right?
Answer me, Andert.
Answer me, Andert Fager.
The moment a clear call was lodged into his ears, his eyes fluttered open.
His spirit that had been sunk in the dark deep sea rose at a very rapid pace. As his obstructed breathing space opened up, Raphael’s world also shifted and returned to reality.
It was all a dream.
“Your Highness, an urgent message has arrived.”
“…What time is it?”
“It’s four o’clock in the morning.”
Raphael, who covered his eyes with the back of his hand, exhaled deeply.
It was not easy to get his breathing together due to his fast heartbeat.
His nightmare felt so real that it felt as if he was really wandering the battlefield until the very last minute.
The voice of the dead still rang in his ears.
[It’s not your fault, Raphael.]
Does he want to be forgiven by him? Is this how the desire deep in his subconscious is being embodied through the medium of a dream?
There was a time when it was, but at least not now.
Andert Fager is dead.
He made a grand sacrifice in the showdown with the Great Wizard Mephisto, which left Raphael with a long, irrepressible wound.
It was even more painful because Andert’s body was never found.
He’s been frantically searching Queen Island for the last four years to find the body.
He told him to die by his side, so he felt bitter resentment for him, who disappeared without a trace.
When he closed his eyes, he saw Andert in a hallucination, and when he opened his eyes, he heard his voice.
Even if a lover of his had died instead, it would not have been this painful.
But now he knew.
That the days of feeling resentment for the sin Andert had committed, feeling betrayed were a story long gone, never to come back.
For his own sake, he must crush the image of Andert in his head and stand up properly. Raphael no longer wanted to be bound by Andert anymore.
So slowly, but surely, he was letting him out of his head. He would try to bury the existence of Andert Fager as a moment of the past.
“A total of three tickets have arrived, including an urgent report from the capital.”
Raphael replied, rubbing his stiff eyes with the back of his hand.
“I’m sorry, but please check them for me.”
The first correspondence was quickly scoured by Deshero.
“It is a letter pertaining that the emperor and five noble houses held a secret meeting in the capital, Regel. All the people present were members of the aristocracy, and the common characteristic among all of them was…”
“They must be supporters of the war for the northern conquest.”
In the northern part of the Penrotta Empire, the Northern Deus Mountains, which are famous for rugged roads throughout the continent, are located.
The North Deus Mountains are lined with magic stone mines, and the emperor was preparing for a war of conquest to get them in his hands. Of course, with none other than Grand Duke Raphael as vanguard.
“Why doesn’t his Majesty just push me to the front lines and get it over with?”
He asked himself, but the answer was clear.
The Imperialists wanted to drive him out of the capital. As far as possible, and for a long time. Believing that this would restore the lost power of the emperor.
Then what should he do? We’d now have to respond accordingly.
He had no choice but to attend the noble council even if it was a little too much for him; and showcase himself before the five aristocrats in question.
“May I read you the following letter?”
When he nodded, Desherro opened a second letter.
“A month and a half ago, a new survivor was found on Queen Island. Her name is Bertie Lucian. 34 years old, 170cm tall, thin, white skin, long brown hair reaching her back…”
Raphael’s brow creased gradually.
“A month and 15 days ago? This report is too late.”
“It seems to have overlapped with your highness’ overseas schedule. It seems that the messenger followed after you for a long time to get the news to you.”
Deshero soon opened a third correspondence. Unlike before, his expression became stiff while reading the contents.
“…Oh, no. that wasn’t it.. It is said that the messenger was attacked in the middle of delivering this. Two people went missing one after another during the process, and the third messenger is the only one who succeeded in handing over this letter.”
Raphael, who had his hand folded over his eyes, slowly opened them. There was a strange uniqueness in his dark red eyes.
It was not an unusual occurrence for Raphael, who had many enemies. But, twice in a row? Red, blood-stained-like eyes fell to the letter held by Deshero.
“Did they aim for that letter? How important is the content, then? Read on.”
“Yes. The new survivor is now said to have settled in Midwinterre. She’s working as a maid. Should I secretly put someone on her?”
Contrary to his expectations, it was not some special information.
“No, leave it alone. Slowly pull out of the work on Queen Island. There’s no point in holding onto it anymore.”
Deshero, who had hesitated unlike him, carefully took off his lips.
“But, your highness, this survivor of Queen Island. She has brown hair and light green eyes. This might just be my excitement or emotions talking, but in many ways…”
“She reminds you of Andert Fager’s sister?”
Brown hair. Light green eyes that remind you of the freshness of spring.
Yes, those were all colors that belonged to Andert Fager. They were also the colors most familiar to Raphael than anyone else.
Andert was his only sword, his family, and his friend.
“I remember. He told us that he had a sister on his side, didn’t he? But she closed her eyes for eternity during the Queen Island crisis. He told me he even buried the body himself.”
the Queen Island crisis.
The Queen Island incident refers to the terribly horrific terror that the Great Wizard Mephisto brought down on Queen Island and how he turned it into the fiery pits of hell.
The incident instantly killed the majority of the residents of Queen Island, and forced a small number of survivors to leave their homes and come up to land.
The devastating Queen Island crisis thereafter led to the outbreak of the Great War. that was how the Magic War started.
“His parents passed away long before that, and He said that his cousins, whom he’d heard about only through words, did not live on the island. His family is not alive.”
Queen Island is the southernmost island of the Empire.
Small islands generally form isolated societies, and have less interaction with land, so the blood that is mixed between them is close.
Therefore, it was not surprising that the new survivor had the same hair and eye color as Andert. Because many of the other Queen Island refugees looked like that, too.
“And didn’t you say she was already identified? Bertie Lucian… then she can’t be that person.”
“Yes, I think I thought too deeply about this.”
“I understand how you want to grab at straws.
But.. You don’t have to report this stuff to me from now on. Cut it off moderately in your way.”
After Deshero left the bedroom, Raphael lay down on the bed and closed his eyes again.
He hoped he wouldn’t have nightmares this time.
* * *
At the same time, in Midwinterre.
A lively scream escaped from the Weatherwoods mansion again today.
1 thought on “PLOM Chapter 20”
Thank you for the chapter!
Well that’s a close miss…