~ Chapter 76: A moment of hesitation (Part 2) ~
Taking a deep breath and holding tight to my shield, I approached him.
“Illsyore. Are you ready?” I asked him.
“Hm? Yes.” he turned around and showed me a smile.
A shiver went down my spine when he looked at me. His left eye was jade-green, while the other was dark-red. Even his hair was showing signs of turning as black strands appeared predominantly on his right side of his head.
“A-are you feeling alright?” I asked him prudently.
“Hm?” he looked down at his hands and then shook his head “I don't know... but...” he looked up into my eyes “it's not like I can do anything about it...” he showed me a sad smile.
My heart ached.
Illsyore was a good man. The Darkness was the evil that needed to be obliterated, yet to kill one, I had to take the life of the other. It was such an unjust trade, but someone had to do it. No, it had to be done. Such was what my god had commanded.
“An apple?” he asked.
I blinked surprised and looked at his hand. He was trembling, but he wasn't noticing it.
“Yes...” I couldn't refuse him.
We proceeded to walk down the main road, but as we did, several people looked towards us with a deep worry and fear in their eyes. It wasn't because of me, I was certain of this. Normally, people would want to get close to me and ask for my blessing, so it could only be Illsyore. Either because of the way he looked or the aura he emanated around himself.
Like a monster about to be spawned, each step this Dungeon Lord took increased the pressure of his frightening presence.
He's loosing the battle... I thought while I looked at him.
As we turned left, we headed towards the south gate. It was a repeat of the previous dates. By now, the guards recognized him, but their eyes weren't friendly. I feared that one of them would try to act foolishly.
I was right...
“You there!” a brawny man called out.
He was clad in a thick leather armor and had... a mono-brow?
“Pardon?” I replied taken aback by his weird appearance.
“Miss, this man has been seen taken several beautiful women outside of the city gates. They all returned as if their hearts had been turned to dust.” he pointed at Illsyore.
With a smile, the Dungeon Lord grabbed the man's finger and bent it in an unnatural way.
“AGYAAA!” he screamed.
“I would advise you don't meddle in my affairs.” he told him with a smile.
I froze when I saw this scene.
“Ugh... my finger...” the mono-brow groaned.
“Don't worry, it'll heal.” Illsyore said and then twisted it back.
I heard a crack.
“ARGH! You son of a...” he tried to speak, but a fast knee to the face sent him flying back towards his comrades.
“You...” one of the men unsheathed his sword, but before things could turn deadly, I stepped between them.
“This fellow is not one you can handle. Please refrain from any violent acts... And Illsyore, please calm down.” I said as I looked back at him.
The Dungeon Lord looked at me as if confused.
It was only then when he saw the mono-brow fellow.
“Ah... Did I...?” he questioned himself and looked at his own hands.
Only one of his eyes showed a reaction, the green one. The other... it was smiling.
“Don't worry about it...” I told him with a soft smile as I placed my hand on his shoulder.
He nodded, and we left the scene.
The guards went to get the man some help, but if Illsyore were to return, they weren't going to treat him kindly. Well, IF he returned, but I highly doubted it...
For more than an hour we traveled through the wastes outside the city, climbing the sand dunes and gazing up at the sky. To be fair, this looked like anything but a date... The ending was going to tragic one as well, so I couldn't find either joy or excitement from this. Illsyore as a man was cute, but I was too old to think of such things.
I was an old lady long past the prime of her life... What use was there for me to wish for something like a lover or husband? I was also close to my end... Melkuth was going to call me to his side, and I was going to leave this world, but before that, I had to finish my business with Illsyore.
We stopped between two dunes. He looked to his left and then to his right.
“This looks like a good place...” he nodded and smiled.
“A good place?” I asked.
“Yes...” he looked into my eyes “A good place to die...”
My heart clenched, and I gulped.
“Are you certain about this?” I asked.
“There is no way for me to change my situation... I lack the will and strength to do so. The Darkness has nearly taken over me completely. I can't even block his whispers anymore...” he showed me a sad smile.
“Your wives... they were certain you would win.” I looked down and unsheathed my sword.
“They were wrong.” he knelt before me.
My fingers tightened around the leather grip, and I felt the situation reaching a point of no return. To spare his life would mean the end of countless others. To save him would mean to give up my own, but... how was I supposed to do that?
“Illsyore... are you really certain you can't... you don't wish to fight against The Darkness? Those women believe in you with their entire being. Giving up like this would mean to step on their faith in you...” I told him.
“It's better than The Darkness having to kill them.” he showed me smile.
“Even so... if you fight, maybe...” I tried to convince him.
Why am I telling him these words? I can't... I just have to kill him, that's it. Why am I hesitating? I thought.
“ENOUGH!” he shouted and made me flinch.
“Illsy?” I asked.
“I said it time and time again, I can't win against The Darkness! He's too strong, too powerful! I'm just a human in a Dungeon Lord's body... nothing more and nothing less. Even if I wanted to, I don't know how! Look at me! I'm... slowly turning into a monster. If you don't do this, I will commit countless atrocities! I will kill... I will destroy, and I don't want that! I DON'T!” he shouted at me at top of his lungs.
Magic Energy began to be released from his body, stirring up the sands around us. I cringed and took a step back. All of my instincts told me that he was dangerous. That he was a menace... Only my heart wavered... out of pity... out of compassion... like a failure of an Apostle.
Why do I still believe that he... that he's not giving it his all... that he can still be saved? Why? I thought, but I couldn't let such question cloud my mind any further.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
“I understand...” I told him and clenched the hilt of my sword as I poured my Magic Energy in it.
“Thank you... With this, I won't become a danger to anyone... Although, it's funny, but I think that if things worked out differently, maybe... we could have been friends? Or rather... no, I already see you as someone close to me... That's why... thank you, Zoreya. I'm happy that you were the one to take my life...” he said his final words.
My heart was in pain, and tears formed at the corners of my eyes. I was about to slay a friend... because I was unable to save him...
“Goodbye... Illsy.” I said and then opened my eyes.
My sword moved swiftly to end his life.
The sound of metal hitting metal echoed around me.
“Yes, thank you, Zoreya~. Because of you, this human finally relinquished his last drop of will to fight against me! Now this body is MINE!” the one sneering at me was The Darkness.
Illsyore's hair turned black. The skin on his hands was black and covered in a strange metal. That was what my blade hit and couldn't cut. The last drop of Illsyore's existence was his jade-green left eye. That was it...
I messed up... I thought horrified.
“Kukuku! Funny... To think I was just about to be killed by the likes of you. How... idiotic.” he smirked and then moved towards me.
In the blink of an eye, his hands outstretched in a punch, and I barely had any time to react. His fist struck Melkuth's shield, and I was sent flying back a couple of meters. I landed on the sand, rolling a few times before I was able to stop myself.
“You...” I said as I got up.
“Yes... I, The Darkness! I'm finally FREE! Muhahaha!” he laughed as he looked towards the sky.
“I won't let you...” I squinted my eyes and dashed towards him, concentrating all of my Magic Power into my feet.
He jumped back, avoiding the slash of my sword.
“I'm sorry, but I have no wish to play with you for now.” he smirked and before him appeared countless spears with a tip made out of ice and a body out of liquid fire. “[Infernal Glacier]!” he shouted.
The attack wasn't launched at me but at the ground in front of me. He was trying to create an opening to escape, but I couldn't just rush forward. That was an Emperor Rank spell, but by the looks of it, it was far stronger than the usual one. I jumped back, taking the safe approach.
In the spots where the spears struck the sand, a blazing inferno formed that spread around dangerously fast. I had to run away or risk getting caught up in it. To be fair, if I knew I could survive a hit from that, I would have, but Illsyore was far stronger than he looked. This [Infernal Glacier] spell was probably one of his weakest attacks.
Using this chance, The Darkness fled the scene... leaving me staring at the devastation he caused with a single attack.
How many lives would have been lost if he unleashed this attack in the middle of the city? I wondered as I looked at the place where two big sand dunes had been replaced with a lake of molten sand covered in fire.
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