~ Chapter 73: Tears for a coward (Part 1) ~
[Illsyore's point of view]
Do you think I will let her kill us?! The Darkness shouted at me.
I was currently inside my Inner Mind, facing this monstrous thing. It was huge and literally enveloped everything around me like tar would a helpless prehistoric creature. I couldn't even access the material deposits without it allowing me...
Every day that passed by, I had less and less access to my abilities inside this place, and seeing the rate at which my Inner Mind was consumed by The Darkness, I knew there wasn't much time left before I was consumed by it. After all, what could a weak human like me do against it? This was their initial turf. I was the outsider, the intruder.
It's not up to you anymore! I won't let you become a threat for them or anyone else! I shouted back at him.
Fool! It was always up to me! I... WE are the masters here! WE are the ones who will rule over everything! he scoffed.
No! I retorted.
Live in your petty little delusions as much as you want! But there is nothing you can do to stop us! There is no way for you to win! We are in control here and soon... out there as well! the Darkness let out a creepy laughter.
Never! I shouted, but it felt like I was arguing with myself.
This Darkness had no presence... it was just a part of me, a drop in the dust...
When we get out of this place... the world you knew... will be gone. Those petty organics shall vanish! We shall rule supreme! We shall be the one to hold this world in our grasp! Not you! Not the gods! Not even those idiots on the Dungeon Continent! Not even our creators! Muhahaha! The Darkness laughed like a maniac, spitting out all sort of nonsense I didn't understand.
Every time it spoke to me, it referenced itself either in the first or the third person, but it could never make up its mind about it, just like a crazy psychopath with multiple personality disorder. As for me, I couldn't see it as anything more than something... not living, therefore... 'it'.
Still, I could feel it creeping into my soul, slowly destroying me in a way I didn't understand. I had no idea how it managed to do it, but one thing was certain... The Darkness was far stronger than me.
When I looked down, I noticed that my hands were covered in dark veins. In here and out there, I constantly felt weak... Lately, every step I took brought me closer to my demise, and I was fully aware of it. I knew it was going to happen, and it had no intention of hiding itself anymore...
I left the Darkness laughing in my Inner Mind, while I opened my eyes. I was sleeping in bed with Nanya and Ayuseya, or at lest pretended to. Shanteya was watching me from the window. Tamara wasn't here. She slept with Zoreya.
“Illsyore?” Shanteya asked me as if she wasn't sure.
“Yes, it's me... How long was I asleep?” I asked her.
“Three hours.” she told me.
I couldn't sleep... I spent all that time awake and trying without much success to stop The Darkness from spreading further. Actually, my sleeping hours were minimum at best. At the very least, it took longer for extreme fatigue and insomnia effects to appear in this body than they did in a normal human one.
“Have you been watching me all this time?” I asked as I carefully got out of bed, without waking up the other two.
“Yes... a precaution.” she told me.
“Sorry...” I lowered my eyes and let out a sigh.
“You are my husband. You need not be sorry for when you are in need of my help.” she told me with a gentle smile as she approached me and then embraced me.
“Even so...” I was saddened by the fact that I had become such a burden to them.
“Hey! Don't worry about it.” Shanteya gave me a soft kiss on the lips.
She managed to calm me down, but I couldn't get back to sleep. I stayed up with her and chatted casually.
As for what we spoke about, it was mostly about how I should design my Magic Academy. Even she believed that Fellyore was far too small to accomplish its fundamental role. I was thinking initially about a remote part of the continent, somewhere between all three of them, but at the same time with a connection to the unknown ones. I also wanted monsters and stuff for the students to train against, but there were so many details I had to worry about that sometimes it felt like I would need an army of Dungeons to complete it.
After everyone woke up, we went downstairs and sat at a table while the innkeeper made us some breakfast. With one glance, one could tell that the atmosphere around us was really tense. Tamara was sitting next to Zoreya, while my wives all had a worried look on their faces. The Darkness messed things up really bad, and I had no idea how to fix it.
“What should we do today?” I asked them in the end.
“Whatever you wish, Illsy.” Shanteya replied.
“I don't really feel like doing anything...” Nanya answered.
“I still have some books I wish to read...” Ayuseya said.
“I have no plans.” said Zoreya.
Tamara remained quiet.
“I see...” I let out a sigh and leaned back on my chair.
It was hard to focus and think about what to do. Regarding the fact of saying my farewells to them, it was even harder.
To be honest, I didn't want to die, but I was smart enough to understand that if The Darkness ended up consuming me and taking over my body, then this world would be in mortal danger. The chances of it harming my wives and slave were also very high. It proved quite clearly that it had not even one drop of remorse when it attacked Tamara the other day.
Worst of all, there was nothing I could do to stop it from rampaging and hurting them. Inside, I felt useless, weak... unworthy of them.
I thought about things time and time again, but I couldn't come up with any solution. There was an overwhelming difference in power between me and The Darkness. Every time I tried to stop it, it felt like I was trying to push up against a steel wall as a weak human. I felt helpless.
As for how I was going to break the news to them, I still had no idea...
Maybe I should take them out on a date? I wondered at one point.
[Zoreya's point of view]
After that night, I felt at a loss with my own inner turmoils... My god's orders were clear. I was to kill Illsyore before The Darkness overcame him. At the same time, the Dungeon Lord also asked me to end his life in order to keep his loved ones safe. More than that, I found out that he was actually a reincarnated soul.
By all means, I shouldn't have felt even the slightest bit of remorse and regret about this. On the contrary, I was supposed to feel joy.
Even so, deep inside, my soul was twisting and turning. In short, I didn't want to kill Illsyore. He was an innocent in all of this. The wrong one was The Darkness. IT had to disappear, not Illsyore. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to separate the two, and the latter didn't hold the power to fight against it.
Our fates were puzzles we couldn't see, and the pieces were guided by the hands of powerful gods, while we, mortals, could only watch and suffer in silence with each step we took.
At the very least, we could choose what god to guide us on our trip trough life, but the outcome wasn't going to be the same.
That was why we prayed and prayed for a better future, for a better life. We wanted to avoid their wrath and always stay within their grace. Therefore, an Apostle could only be seen as blessed individuals whose fates had been determined to be blessed ones.
Only a fool would give up such a fate, yet here I was debating over whether it was the right thing to do or not. In my mind, such a choice was ridiculous, but inside my soul, the matter was different.
I knew not the reason, but it had been shown quite clearly that I was drawn to Illsyore and his wives. Like a lost Dayuk always looking to return to his pack, so did I yearned to be by their side. It was a selfish request, which up till now I had kept hidden and locked away inside of me. It was a weird thought I never cared or wished to give any attention to.
What brought it out was this confusion of mine... this turmoil over a debate which should have been settled the moment Melkuth ordered me to do so.
Now, I was even questioning the fact whether or not I still had the right to be his chosen Apostle.
“Nanya, how about the two of us go on a date today?” asked Illsyore all of a sudden.
His words pulled me out of my trance, and I stared at the Dungeon Lord.
“Excuse me?” the woman asked raising an eyebrow.
“No good?” he pouted.
“NO! I didn't mean that!” she hit the table with both hands and stood up, catching everyone's attention. “Ah! Sorry~!” she slowly returned to her seat, blushing all the way to the tips of her ears.
At this moment, she was using the illusion ring that made her look like a beautiful human. Lately, she'd been using it only when she felt like her real form was catching too much attention. At the moment, only the gazes of lecherous men were glued to her, but just as one ignores a small bug, so did everyone else at this table. It was a reaction I often saw displayed by them. Only when some poor fellow made a move did Illsyore and his wives react.
“Great! Then let's go after our meal! And tomorrow, I'll take Ayuseya, then Shanteya, and lastly Zoreya!” he spoke nonchalantly, to which I spat out my drink.
“Pardon?” I asked raising an eyebrow.
“Ugh... you made a mess.” Shanteya pulled back.
“I apologize.” I lowered my head in shame.
Such a disgraceful act, but maybe I misheard him? I wondered.
“Anyway, it's settled!” Illsyore declared.
“Sigh... very well.” Nanya shook her head in defeat.
After we ate our meal, he and the demoness went to prepare for their date, while we were free to do as we pleased. Before Shanteya left my sight, I approached her.
“Pardon me, miss Shanteya?” I asked her.
“What is it, Zoreya?” she replied with a charming smile.
“Erm... I think I misheard, but who did Illsyore said he will date after miss Nanya?” I asked her with a wry smile.
“Oho~? I wonder who fufu~!” she giggled and then turned around.
“Miss Shanteya?” I asked her desperately.
“Wait and see, 'miss' Zoreya” Hihi~!” she giggled.
I misheard, right? I asked myself again, but the el'doraw wasn't helping me clear the misunderstanding in my heart.
“Anyway, now that I think about it, I believe the two of us should make sure their date goes smoothly.” she suddenly said with a smile.
I furrowed my brow.
“It's going to be alright. Your influence as an Apostle should prove quite handy!” she then showed me a cunning smirk.
May Melkuth forgive me... I thought to myself as I followed the scheming el'doraw.
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