* * *
Over 5 hours of searching. No result.
“It was late at night. Let’s go back.”
Modeleine said in a dejected voice. Van turned his horse’s head to follow him and fiddled with the ring on his ring finger.
‘The wilderness where Commander was located was overflowing with traces. I didn’t expect the search to be this slow.’
As soon as they left the wilderness, they couldn’t find a drop of mucus, let alone a trace. The same was true of Lydon, who disappeared with the demon. It didn’t really matter to Van whether Lydon disappeared or died like this.
‘Commander will be sad if that guy dies.’
Cadel was fond of Lydon, to the point of being angry at them at times. If he woke up and didn’t hear from Lydon, he would be heartbroken. Van did not want to see Cadel’s sad face. He bit his lip impatiently as his gaze drifted to the red thread that had been lying dormant.
There was no tremor of thread. If so, it meant that the current commander was recovering after receiving treatment safely.
He felt a mixture of relief and anger that he couldn’t be there for him this time.
‘If I were stronger, Commander would have taken me with him. Because my skills are ambiguous…… we couldn’t be together.’
When he was traveling alone with the commander, nothing like this had happened. No matter what the commander did, he did it with Van, and the only person the commander could trust on the battlefield was Van Herdos himself.
But not anymore. Those who were as strong as Van was, maybe even stronger than him, were gathering around the commander. He knew it was inevitable. The commander was the person who would put the world under his sword, and it was only natural that the best and brightest would gather around him.
‘……I have to be able to stand by Commander with confidence.’
So Van had to be strong. Desperately forgetting the past where he only lived because he couldn’t die, he had to be strong for the commander.
Resolutely determined, Van straightened his back. The search was over, so he had to go find the commander.
But before he even returned to Baskin Village.
A familiar voice came from up ahead.
* * *
Cadel clutched the two rings that rested in the palm of his hand. Cradling the precious artifacts in his arms, he looked up to see Van and Lumen still exuding a menacing aura.
“Don’t attach meaning to a meaningless ring and then bluff your own fantasy. It’s ugly.”
“Aren’t you the one who took it away from him because you attached meaning to a meaningless ring? If you didn’t like that Commander and I wore the same ring, you should have just told the truth. Then I would have pulled it out myself before letting the red thread connect with you.”
“Why would I do that? As I’ve said over and over again, it was just a means of finding the way comfortably. Don’t be a pain in the ass and put away your annoying face.”
“Does anyone know what it’s like to face your crooked side? I’m telling you to be aware of what you’re doing because it’s so nasty.”
Cadel wondered if they hated having to share the same ring. The presence of a ring in a female-oriented game was indeed significant.
Cadel remembered the look on Van’s face as he’d growled murderously when he’d found the ring on Lumen’s finger. The way he’d gone from being as concerned about his condition as a meek puppy to being so fierce in an instant.
When he glanced around, everyone seemed to be going back except for them who was busy bickering. It was already deep in the night, so it seemed that the search would be resumed the next day.
Giving up on trying to wring information out of an agitated Van, Cadel quickly scanned the crowd.
‘That person must be the boss.’
In the absence of Garuel, few people could lead the Knight Order. Cadel kept an eye on a man who glanced over here with the Knight Order aligned behind him. He was sure that man would be the vice commander.
Cadel, who made a quick decision, approached the man without hesitation.
“It’s a great pleasure to meet you. My name is Cadel, the commander of the Scarlet Scales Mercenary Corps.”
When Cadel suddenly appeared and held out his hand, Modeleine paused for a moment before holding it with a light smile.
“I am Modeleine Niasta, vice commander of the Twilight Knight Order. It looks like you were safely treated by our Commander.”
“I won’t forget your kindness.”
“No, I just did what I had to do.”
Modeleine had an outstanding personality that couldn’t be compared to his superior. After a polite greeting and introduction, Cadel got straight to the point.
“Is there any progress in tracking the demon? It is a fairly strong demon. I don’t know what will happen if left unattended.”
“We’ve spent a lot of time looking, but we haven’t found any trace of the demon. Now that I think about it, Sir Cadel was the last one to deal with the demon. Do you have any information on his characteristics or anything that might give us a clue?”
While he expected this to be the case to some extent, he couldn’t help but feel a bit disheartened to hear it firsthand. No progress in the search.
‘Are you saying you couldn’t find a trace? Well. If it wasn’t for Lydon, I would have wasted my time wandering around strange places.’
That was, in the absence of Lydon. It meant that the chances of them wandering off and wasting their time in the wrong places increased dramatically.
He couldn’t give up though. Cadel explained the specific characteristics of the demon and the skills he used to Modeleine. He had to expand the scope of the search by sharing as much information as possible.
“……This is a more difficult opponent than I had anticipated. I think I’ll have to call in our Commander. Sir Cadel, I suggest you retire for the night, and we move together first thing tomorrow morning.”
Of course, he intended to move with the Twilight Knight Order. When he found the demon, it would be much faster to subdue him altogether.
But Cadel shook his head.
“We’ll do a little more searching. We’ll be back in the village by morning, see you then.”
He had to look for Lydon as far as he could, and there was no way he was going to end the day calmly, not knowing if Lydon’s limbs were still attached.
「Time remaining 14 : 10 : 20」
Time was running out.