Chapter 18 – Devotion
Translator: Skye Editor: thursdays PR: sj_myself
Yuriel glanced sideways at Helio after reading the last line.
She thought she knew now why he had decided to show her the Book of Prophecies so suddenly.
“…Do you already know?”
“Raphlet… On his chest, er…”
Yuriel hesitated as she wasn’t completely sure. But now, Helio was certain what was troubling her.
“It seems you did see it. Yes, Commander Raphlet received a monster core implant.”
“Implant?! I didn’t see it on him when we were younger, so I thought it just suddenly appeared. What do you mean, implant?!” Yuriel exclaimed. “Is it safe to implant a monster core in a human? Did it cause any problems for Raphlet?”
“It’s sticking a core of a monster into a human being, so of course there’d be complications,” Helio calmly replied.
There was no way anyone would be fine after getting the core of an evil monster embedded into their skin. Those who did receive an implant either died, had the specific body part with the core amputated, or lived with their body permanently changed due to the monster’s poison.
Most ordinary civilians died, unable to handle the core, but it was a different story for well-trained knights. Though they could not embrace a core entirely without negative side effects like Raphlet, they were able to survive.
“However, Commander Raphlet is the exception. It didn’t cause any detrimental side effects for him. Rather, it made him stronger. After receiving the monster core implant, Commander Raphlet became more powerful,” Helio said conclusively, rubbing his shoulder.
“I told you before, didn’t I? That Raphlet didn’t become the First Division Commander because of sheer skill alone.”
Slight weariness reflected on his face. Helio turned his head so that Yuriel wouldn’t see his cold gaze as he continued to explain. “They say he’s someone who must be worshipped. Even if he dies in battle one day, I’m sure he’ll still be praised as a hero.”
Yuriel, whose thoughts were full of concern for Raphlet, caught Helio’s strange tone.
His eyes were focused elsewhere, not wanting to reveal his inner feelings to her. Yuriel glimpsed at his side profile and thought he resembled a block of ice at that moment.
Scrutinizing his frigid expression and the way he subconsciously rubbed his right shoulder, Yuriel confidently said, “I see you also received an implant, Sir Helio.”
“…How did you know?”
Helio turned to look at her when he heard the voice full of certainty. She gestured to his shoulder.
“You’ve been touching your shoulder since you first brought up the implants. Your posture is the best out of all the people I’ve seen. You don’t carry out any unnecessary movements, which is why I thought you may have a core implant on that shoulder.”
“I didn’t know you thought of me in that way, thank–”
“Ah, of course, by ‘everyone’ I mean everyone excluding Raphlet.”
Yuriel knew Helio wasn’t one to execute any wasteful movements, yet he had been uncharacteristically rubbing his shoulder since earlier.
He hadn’t received any wounds during the last subjugation, so it was strange for him to touch his shoulder as if he was caressing an injury.
She was going to pretend that she hadn’t noticed, but she couldn’t let it slide when he started to show his distaste when talking about Raphlet.
Helio looked back at Yuriel with heavy eyes for a moment before tilting his head down. He drew back his uniform slightly, revealing his darkened shoulder.
In contrast to Raphlet’s unblemished skin, Helio’s skin had turned black like a monster’s. And what was embedded on the skin looked to be a shard of a monster core.
It was a sharp fragment, different from the whole and intact shape of the one in Raphlet’s chest. Helio’s skin had turned into its current state after having just a small piece of a core implanted.
“After Raphlet’s body experienced a physical upgrade after receiving an implant, I was also forced to undergo an implant experiment. The result… Well, it is as you can see. Though my physical strength did indeed increase, it’s not exactly something I can be happy about.”
“Is that why you hate Raphlet?” Yuriel asked.
“Of course not. It’s not like he’s the one who implanted it in me.”
“Then why do you dislike him so much?”
Helio rubbed the foreign fragment on his shoulder before adjusting his uniform.
“How can I like someone who sacrifices the knights who follow him? You need more than two hands to count the number of knights he has used as bait thus far.”
“That… I’m sure it’s because he was cornered and had no choice but to make a sacrifice–”
“It’s not something you can speak about, Miss Yuriel,” Helio coldly interjected as he finished adjusting his collar.
Though she wanted to defend Raphlet, Yuriel couldn’t help but nod in agreement.
Helio was right. It had only been six months since she entered Albraca, and she didn’t have a deep relationship with the knights, either. Helio did, as he had spent a long time with them; hence, he had more of a right to speak for them.
If Yuriel had to choose between a strategy that would result in Raphlet receiving a serious injury versus a plan that would result in several knights losing their life, she would pick the second option without hesitation.
As someone who thought that way, it wasn’t right for her to defend Raphlet in front of Helio right now.
Even when she heard Helio share how Raphlet was sacrificing their knights, the only thing Yuriel felt was relief at the fact Raphlet hadn’t gotten injured.
She didn’t have much of a reason to think deeply about matters that didn’t involve Raphlet.
As soon as she closed her mouth, Helio closed the glass plate that encased the Book of Prophecies. He took off his gloves, and the two began to walk out of the library.
As the two made their way out, Yuriel reflected on herself.
She didn’t have any memories from before she was eight years old, but she didn’t think much of it since it was a time from before she met Raphlet.
Yuriel had met Raphlet at the age of eight. She had been ambushed by a monster in a forest within the duchy and was ultimately rescued by Raphlet. He hadn’t hesitated to throw himself in between the monster and a girl he had never met before.
The time she spent with Raphlet following that incident were some of the happiest times of her life. But after she had turned fourteen, time seemed to pass awfully slow.
She still shuddered from time to time whenever she recalled the period when she spent her days just waiting for him to return.
Since she was bound to have attacks following her dreams regardless of where she was, it was much better to be with Raphlet than anywhere else.
Moreover, unlike in the past, she now found a way to prevent her breakdowns: All she needed was Raphlet by her side. Then, she was able to feel safe even if she was getting ripped apart by monsters in her dreams.
But there were times when she felt troubled, because she didn’t just feel a sense of security. She also felt a sensation similar to what one would feel during an intimate relationship between a man and a woman. As she calmed down in the safety of Raphlet’s strong arms, her body would flinch, and her chest would itch.
He was the only one in her eyes since long before. She wasn’t able to stop herself from reacting to Raphlet’s body, which had changed into that of a grown man’s. She poured each and every emotion she had into him, so there was no way that feelings of passion or lust wouldn’t be included.
But of course, Yuriel had no thoughts of telling him that. Her desire for him would pass eventually, so she didn’t want to make it difficult for him.
Raphlet had always been, and would always be, someone who was virtuous and perfect.
The only thing Yuriel needed to do was stay by his side and make sure he didn’t sacrifice himself as a hero.
Walking beside her and seeing her absorbed in thought, Helio called out to her. “Miss Yuriel.”
He wore a slightly weary expression.
“Did you know that Raphlet entrusted me to oversee your training for the next week? Thanks to that, my vacation schedule has become a mess.”
“A week?” Yuriel asked with widened eyes. She thought Helio was only teaching her for the day, but it was actually a whole week?!
The price for trying to aid Raphlet in his bath without his permission was awfully cruel.
Helio twisted his lips when he saw her sulking.
“It seems you’re disappointed as well. Since we’re on the same page, what do you say about trying our best to lessen our disappointments during this next week we have together?”
“Huh? How? If you want to lessen my disappointment, Sir Helio, the only way to do that would be to let me see Raphlet,” Yuriel remarked, tilting her head.
Helio gave her an exasperated look, shaking his head.
“All right, I’ll let you see Commander Raphlet.”
“But you need to give me something as well, Miss Yuriel.”
“Hmm, is there anything I could give you? The only thing I could offer is being your maid… Do you perhaps need one? I can serve you wholeheartedly for a week, Commander Helio.”
Yuriel’s demeanor changed immediately after Helio mentioned he would let her see Raphlet.
“Ha-ha, that’s unnecessary.”
Helio let out a light chuckle at the sight of the woman who was grabbing onto his arm with an innocent expression.
Though he didn’t like Raphlet, he found that he didn’t mind Yuriel, liking her more than he thought despite how she practically worshipped Raphlet.
It was just that she followed one person unconditionally.
Even earlier, when Helio told her that Raphlet was sacrificing their knights, she still only thought of Raphlet. Helio had no doubt that if Raphlet told her he harmed someone, she would probably ask him if he was injured anywhere first.
To think she’d have so much affection for someone who wasn’t even her family. To be quite honest, Helio was a bit jealous of Raphlet.
“I’m really good at my job. From the moment you open your eyes to the moment you close them, I’ll assist you flawlessly, Sir Helio!”
“I have many maids. Instead, how about you think of something that only you can do for me, Miss Yuriel?”
“Something only I can do?” Yuriel lowered her head, eyelashes fluttering as she mulled over his words.
Seeing her so seriously absorbed in thought, Helio decided to help.
“Tell me about the times you and Raphlet spent together when you were both younger. Even better if you can tell me about some of his weaknesses.”
As soon as she heard the word ‘weakness,’ Yuriel shook her head in distaste.
“Nevermind, I can wait a week. Compared to the seven years I had to wait before, a week is nothing.”
T/N: So there was a line from chapter 2: After carrying out successive battles against the monster forces, Raphlet’s body was far beyond the common person’s
The raws actually said successive battles and experiments, but I took out experiments because I thought the author was just emphasizing his victories and not actual experiments… But no, they literally meant experiments, oof. This author leaves a lot of vague/ambiguous hints, with the answers coming wayyy later, so I suggest you guys pay attention to even the littlest details lol. I’m going to try my best to leave things ambiguous where they’re supposed to be ambiguous, and if it’s needed, I’ll make these little clarification edits.
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