* * *
The threat worked!
Cadel hurried his steps, dragging the near-fainting Van. Aiden was more obedient than expected and promised to let him go. He kept his guard up the entire time, watching intently until Aiden was out of sight.
They were no longer hovering in the same place. The landscape was changing.
‘I have to hurry. Van is Van, but Lumen is…….’
Lumen was strong. A person with a clear purpose wouldn’t give up his life so easily, and with his temper and skill, he would likely hold on somehow. Still, Cadel couldn’t help but worry, so he bit down hard on his parched lips and summoned all the strength he could muster.
‘How long has it been since we got out of the course? I should be able to see the outside now.’
Since the forest was dark, the bright scenery outside would be more visible. It was when Cadel was busy turning his head thinking like that.
“Is this human being that precious?”
A creepy whisper came from right behind Cadel.
A breath tickled his ear. He didn’t feel the slightest stir.
Cadel froze in place, rolled his eyes, and looked behind him, feeling a strange chill run through the space behind him.
“……You had better not touch him.”
“Why? You said you’d show us something funny. I don’t have many ideas like Aiden, so I like to see what I like. It’s fun.”
He was aware of Cadel’s conversation with Aiden. Was it the other fairy that was with him? But the voice was different from the laughter he heard at that time.
Another knight watching? So all three of them that the system informed were gathered in one place? Even now?
‘No. I made sure Aiden wasn’t following me.’
Cadel’s eyes hardened at the renewed tension. He tightened his grip on Van and took a deep breath.
‘Which one is it? What’s his grade? If it’s low, we’ll have a chance if I attack him right away.’
Creating a barrier to protect Van, if they went for it. As long as the exit from the forest was close and it was a one-on-one fight, the odds were in their favor.
It was tempting to want to get out of here as safely as possible, but this bastard had the nerve to follow and provoke a human released by a colleague. Cadel didn’t expect this to end well.
“What do you want?”
“I want to see something fun.”
“Do you mean you want to fight?”
“Well, that’s not bad either. But I…….”
The new fairy trailed off and paused. In the meantime, Cadel had been pulling Van’s body ever so slightly closer to his. Aiming for the right timing, he thought of creating a barrier between Van and that guy.
“I think it would be more enjoyable to see your suffering face.”
Suddenly, along with a chill passing by Cadel.
A strange sound of flesh being pierced was heard.
“Com, man, der…….”
That was when he realized something was wrong. Van’s body, still barely moving, slowly began to lean forward. Cadel’s dazed gaze took in Van’s form a beat too late.
The cloudy golden eyes, completely out of focus, the slightly parted lips, the blood pooling between them. And…….
A thick spear of ice pierced his chest.
Cadel’s trembling eyes reflected the realization.
“What the hell are you doing?”
* * *
It seemed like at least half an hour had passed already.
Lumen strode through the forest with a disgruntled look on his face. No matter how far he walked, he kept seeing the same paths and the same trees, and it made him feel sick.
Because of that uncomfortable feeling, his five senses became twice as sharp as usual. The small noise of grass blades sweeping, the direction the wind blew, the fishy smell of damp moisture. His sharpened senses sensed everything.
However, he couldn’t feel the presence of Cadel, who he was looking for all along.
‘……He’s alive, right?’
After the promised 10 minutes, Cadel did not set off any fireworks. He stayed for a few more minutes, wondering if his sense of time had gone erratic, and continued his search, but it was fruitless waiting.
No matter how long he waited, Cadel didn’t fire the signal. He had his watch with him, so he couldn’t have lost track of time.
So, there was only one conclusion he could draw. Cadel was in such dire straits that he couldn’t sent the signal.
He didn’t have to think too long. In the first place, this place was the ‘Forbidden Forest’. Cadel’s plan to hit and run for 10 minutes seemed pretty plausible on the surface, but it wouldn’t be enough to escape all the dangers of the forest.
With that conclusion, Lumen immediately set out to find Cadel. He had the option of exiting the forest on his own, but he was not a glutton for punishment and would not leave his temporary leader in harm’s way.
‘The situation wouldn’t be serious if Van Herdos was with him, but even with him, there’s no way I wouldn’t hear from him for more than half an hour.’
Apart from being a nasty fellow, he was a man who could use his skills. Cade was also a talented magician, so with the power of the two, they wouldn’t have been beaten to death anywhere.
So it was more likely that Cadel would be alone. Van might also be looking for Cadel since he hadn’t sent any signals.
With these theories running through his mind, he began to walk diligently in the direction of the north that Cadel had taken.
A strange sound came from not far away was heard. Lumen moved as stealthily as he could toward the direction of the sound.
‘What’s that sound? It’s like something huge falling……. A waterfall? No, it’s not the sound of water. It’s a little sharper. A piece of glass……. It sounds more likely. But there’s no way that pieces of glass will fall constantly in this forest. What…….’
The closer Lumen got to the sound, the worse he felt. It was a kind of foreboding.
And the moment he finally found the source of the sound.
“I will kill you!”
With a tearing cry that bordered on screaming, a familiar form burst into his field of vision.