Team: Starrynight, WilsonWilson, Stephanie
Nyx had persistently insisted that she had no connection with the Imperial Sorcerer.
She justified her knowledge of the location of his grave by the fact that she had lived longer than anyone, and so, she had prevailed upon to bear the knowledge. Evan couldn’t conceal his skepticism, but he couldn’t pressure her for more answers, so he let it go.
However, he had not halted his pointed excursion of digging into the Imperial Sorcerer’s past on that account. A day finally came when he chanced upon an aristocrat who knew of him—though not of his relation. His family claimed the peerage of the empire and eventually ascended to the count title. None of them had been born with an affinity to magic, but he knew details about the bloodline of the Imperial Sorcerer that, for some reason, were not inscribed anywhere.
“I heard that the Imperial sorcerer led a quiet life. That’s why it was difficult to see him even within the temple. Was that all? It was also said that he lived in a large mansion, large enough that it seemed limitless. It had only one angle-like butler who favored silence. And so there was no way for gossip to leak. I’ve heard that he used all the power he had to love and care for his family.”
“Oh, is that so? But how did you get such secret information ?”
“My grandfather told me. He said that he had seen the Imperial sorcerer in person, you want to know what he said? Oh yeah, my grandfather said that he had wronged the Imperial Sorcerer’s daughter before. Then, one day, the Sorcerer visited in the middle of the night in a fit of rage… He (my grandfather) was frightened of dying without even uttering a scream of pain.”
The count looked quite pleased as he told the story he heard from his grandfather. But Evan didn’t have much time and could not afford to listen to such irrelevant stories. So he hurriedly stopped him and asked.
“What we are curious about is the family of the Imperial sorcerer. If you know anything, please tell us.”
“Oh, of course. Hmm, I was told that I’d lose my life if I were to spread anything about this, but no one remains now to exact that punishment, so it should be okay, shouldn’t it?”
“Now, where did I leave it off at…? Ah right right, I was telling you about the Imperial Sorcerer’s daughter, wasn’t I? Grandfather did say that he could build up bridges with the Imperial Sorcerer thanks to that incident, but how could he not have been afraid? For the Imperial Sorcerer was a man whom neither noble nor sorcerer could dare treat carelessly. And if it weren’t enough-“
“Excuse me … I’m sorry to interrupt. What we want to hear is the family story of the Imperial sorcerer.”
“Dear me. Do forgive me, I keep getting carried away in my reminiscing. The Imperial Sorcerer had 2 daughters. Grandfather had never heard about his wife, but he was well-informed about his daughter.”
He had two daughters. Evan and Neriano’s eyes widened to the revelation. The count, who had briefly dampened his throat, continued his horse speech.
“One of them he adopted before marrying, and she was the one whom grandfather knew. This fact was not revealed to the world, but she had been secretly loved by the Goddess.”
“Th-the saintess? The saintess was the Imperial Sorcerer’s daughter? Heavens above! To think that the only 2 holy sorcerers in history were thus related. What a shock.”
“Yes, that’s right. It’s an astounding thing, isn’t it? I was greatly surprised by it as well. How could they have harbored such an incredible strength right under the Emperor’s nose? Grandfather had witnessed the magnitude of that strength first-hand.”
“I am more curious about his other daughter.”
Neriano seemed excited to find the connection between the saintess and the Imperial Sorcerer, but not Evan. Because all he was curious about was Nyx. The count shot Evan a resentful look because he kept interrupting him, but still complied with his request.
“ The Imperial Sorcerer got himself a wife and welcomed a second daughter. My grandfather had never seen her, but he said he’d heard about her repeatedly from the saintess. She looked like her father, the Imperial Sorcerer, but she was very lovely and beautiful with black hair and eyes to match.”
Evan broke in a cold sweat. Black hair and eyes…
“The Imperial Sorcerer was well-known for being a Holy magician, but he was actually a Dark sorcerer before that. To support this claim, grandfather attested that the Imperial Sorcerer had used a Shadow to grab at his neck when he visited him that time. His second daughter was rumored to have inherited that same power and could employ Darkness. He used to complain that she was always sad and isolated. As if her personality was related to her magic, she rarely ever made an appearance and kept to her room most of the time. The Imperial Sorcerer could use the two sources of power, so it seemed that hers was indeed Darkness.”
The count kept on talking excitedly, but it no longer reached Evan’s ears. He just stared at Neriano, absentmindedly, as well. His hand, holding the glass, trembled slightly.
The Imperial Sorcerer had two daughters, the second of whom had resembled and used the power of Darkness. And the woman who gave Evan a token belonging to the Imperial Sorcerer also resembles and uses Darkness. Is it really a coincidence?
Evan fiddled with the token he had in his pocket. If this is true, then Nyx was indeed the daughter of the Imperial Sorcerer, Yohan and Neriano would have no choice but to believe that she was only a victim.
However, that was not enough. It was impossible to figure out Nyx’s true purpose. Evan constantly recalled and combined clues he had found so far.
The witch was trying to make him a warrior, the only hope to recreate the glory days of the past, and gave him a token of the Imperial Sorcerer who made those days.
Does she want to be a monarch?
The thought crossed his mind. She was hoping for a new world. However, there were no chances of that happening under the reign of the present king, which is why there was a need for a new ruler to drive the change. Perhaps her ultimate goal was to use Evan into becoming that very ruler.
No, he thought it would have been better if it were like that. Then he could give her as many crowns as she wanted. No matter how much blood she gets on his hands, he can do anything she desires. If it were something of that sort, then it is an easy feat.
Besides, he thought, a world ruled by such a warm and wise woman would be much more beautiful and peaceful than the one they had now.
Unfortunately, however, what she wanted didn’t seem to be the crown.
Evan’s hollow eyes looked down at the man in front of him. The latter was pushed against the wall with his arms and legs tied up and covered in blood. And yet, he was in a strange state. His wounds were dangerous, and considering the amount of blood on the floor, he should have died a long time ago, but his face that should have been distorted with fear and anger was very calm and serene as if nothing was wrong.
Evan, standing in front of him without losing a drop of blood, was in danger of collapsing at any moment. His eyes could not sink any deeper, his face was dry. Emptiness and anxiety were taking over him.
“Evan, are you okay?”
He heard Neriano calling him, but his tight mouth did not open. He believed that if he spoke, all the emotions he had been withholding would leak out of him uncontrollably, thus he resulted in turning his body away, holding back his many thoughts and memories.
However, a voice from behind caught him.
As he stood tall without a word, the man continued in a mocking voice.
“I’ve failed, but the world will eventually fall into Darkness. The witch will kill you.”
Said the man, losing all semblance of reason. Was he talking about the witch with his filthy mouth? How dare he mention the witch? Evan turned back and took his sword out of his waistband. Then, he put it through the jabbering man’s mouth.
Neriano called Evan’s name, but it was too late. His sword penetrated the man front to back. With a bout of anger, Evan gave a twist to the sword in his hand, cutting the man’s annoying hysterics short. Yet, he was overcome with a shaking that only his fingertips betrayed. It wasn’t until Evan had calmed down that he turned back, not even bothering to retrieve his sword from the man’s body. As if he didn’t need it anymore.
He still could not believe it, long after he walked out of the dungeons. He was attacked. To those who claim to be followers of the witch. He had a target on his back, and his hunters were no other than those who claimed to be the witch’s followers.
He was on his way to meet Yohan after using the maid to gain some private time like any other day. They kept listening to the count’s story and getting information about the Imperial Sorcerer and his family. And eventually, they were resigned to believe that the witch who had given the Imperial Sorcerer’s token to Evan could only be his daughter.
Evan thought that it was a rather good thing. Either way, he knew the witch to be inherently different from how the stories and rumors depicted her, and that conviction has deepened now that he had met someone* who believed the same. So he had at least thought that she wouldn’t turn into his enemy or meddle with his plans. He thought that this new revelation would further deepen their relationship.
Then, he came back to the palace, and all prior hopes had collapsed. For he had been greeted by a most unsolicited visitor, one who had sneaked into his quarters late at night.
‘Nyx, This has to be a lie. This is all but a lie, isn’t it?’
Evan’s steps slowed down gradually and eventually came to a halt. He was out of breath, with both of his eyes trembling and droplets of cold sweat drenching his back.
His mind was disoriented while his unbalanced clumsy steps echoed in the deserted endless hallway. It felt like the world was spinning. A terrible feeling pressed down on him. It was similar to the day when he had lost everything, even his brother. Anger, sadness, and unknown despair were pulling him by the ankle. He felt like he could never escape it.
He moved his unsteady feet and walked to the wall. He barely managed to rest his palm on it and leaned back. As he raised his head, he could see the night sky through the window. The night sky, so beautiful and still, had made a mess of his present reality. He looked at the moon floating in the sky with eyes gleaming with tears, yet he did not cry. His dry gaze was as blurry as if it were a reflection in a barrel of water.
–‘The witch was the one who gave me the order! She sent me to kill you!’
The man’s voice echoed in his head. Humans were weak; so easily consumed by fear and pain. And healing, being one of Evan’s abilities, prevented him from ever getting the freedom of death. Constantly being interrogated in a most harrowing cycle of torture, with a tired body and soul, he ended up confessing softly, though his confessions sounded nothing but blasphemy to his interrogator:
-The witch came to me and asked whether I wanted revenge,
-It was the witch who trained me to bend Darkness to my will….
-She had a face covered in scars and black hair.
-She said the warrior had a bright light that gleamed like no other…
-She told me to find such a person and kill him
-She told me to kill the warrior.
She told him to kill me. The witch. It was not anyone else but Nyx!
‘Did she not need me anymore? Or was she peeved by me constantly clinging onto her? Did she not want to see me ever again? Have I been abandoned by her?’
‘No, it can’t be.’
That can’t be true. Nyx could kill him at any time. She was more than able to kill the young and powerless child who had visited the tower. But it was she who taught him how to defend himself.
There were plenty of chances to kill him without having to chase him to such ends. When he slept, when he washed up, when he ate. He was always full of unguarded moments and she could have effortlessly taken his life by any of her Shadows. She could do it all too easily, if only she had felt like it.
That is why she didn’t have to send someone else to kill him. It doesn’t make sense. Rather, it was Nyx who became dangerous. What is the point of making things go this far even when they are in danger of her? In addition, she made his search and training vague even though she knew exactly what to expect of this warrior.
Evan covered his face with his hands. He felt calm when he couldn’t see anything. Cold seeped inside his head.
That’s right. Nyx had no intention of killing him. Even if the witch really wanted revenge, gathered darkness, and tried to do something unknown to him, it was not to kill him. Perhaps she only used me as bait to have her followers do her bidding. She certainly told him not long ago to become a warrior, which can only mean that he still held some value to her–That he was useful still. So she couldn’t have ordered the man to kill him in this way. At least, she must not have meant to kill him.
There was no denying that his life had been endangered regardless. Whether she had meant him ill or not was of little importance. The fact that she put him in harm’s way in such a manner was proof of how insignificant his existence was to her.
He was the only one who had wanted, cared for, longed for, and cherished her so ardently. He knew his feelings were not equally returned, yet he was inclined by selfish desire to believe the opposite. He was at least of the understanding that she had put some importance on his well-being since she had coddled all his wounds.
Then why was she torturing him to this extent? Why were her actions so misleading, filling him with all sorts of expectations and greed?
He’d rather not accept her kindness from the beginning. He’d rather leave her alone.
If she is going to make him crave the sweetness he’s tasted for such a short while, then she shouldn’t have given it to him at all.
He slowly wiped the wetness off his face with both hands then looked up to see the now clear moon. Evan’s red eyes shone steadily under the moonshine. Coupled with such breathtaking scenery, his image looked picturesque from afar. And yet, up close, one would not help but notice the sharp prowess that was building within him, ready to cut through anything anytime like a double-edged blade.
The looming aura of gray misery had engulfed his presence in stark contrast to his oh so widely rumored brightness.
*T/N: The someone he means is the count because he didn’t describe the Imperial Sorcerer’s second daughter, whom he believed to be Nyx, as a vile witch.
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