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Volume 2 Chapter 28 The Uncle and the Return (Part 2)
In the darkness, I didn’t know what was happening.
First of all, something seemed to be in a riot in the distance.
A few seconds later, it had faded away.
After that, there was the clunk of a rusty prison cell door opening.
It sounded like a sack being thrown into the corner.
And all of this was far too distant from me.
So incredibly distant.
Right now I had nothing. It was like I was in the middle of a deserted plain.
Or perhaps I had returned to that hill, built from corpses and blades.
Where I was no longer mattered.
Here I could hear Ailee’s voice.
Of course, it was only an echo in my own head of the past.
“Leon, I wanna eat that!”
“Mmph, this is so cold.”
“You should drink more water, Leon.”
“You’re a bit tanner, Leon. You’ve been working out so hard recently.”
“I always liked you, Leon!”
In this vast darkness, I felt comforted. This was my only place of belonging.
Right here, the concept of time no longer existed.
Perhaps several days passed. Perhaps it wasn’t a few minutes.
I lived in my memories, because this is where Ailee existed.
Until one day, I heard some other kind of stray noises.
Someone being whipped, kicked, tortured.
Even though they were trying their hardest not to cry out, occasionally a moan of pain would escape.
This voice wouldn’t stop.
I don’t know where it came from. Ever since it appeared, the whole world I built in my head began to crumble.
Ailee’s voice began to fade, and was replaced by demonic howls.
Rotten bodies crawled from their places, pulling at my legs, trying to take me to hell with them.
Walker was one of them. Moose was another. Bond was there too.
Everyone from the Disaster of the Three Hundred was there.
All of the demonkin were also working with them.
I curled up, trying to escape the grasp of those bony hands.
And then I was pushed over, toward the center of the corpses.
Looking back, I saw Ailee there with a distorted expression.
Reaching out to her in despair, I sank into hell.
Accompanying the sound of someone being tormented, the pain I suffered only increased.
I became dizzier and dizzier.
I was never going to be able to escape here.
My utopia filled with the sound of Ailee’s voice had turned into a Sisyphian hell.
This world had grown tiring.
And in that moment, the blindfold on my eyes was taken away.
Even just the dim light of the torches seemed quite irritating to me.
I blinked, my tears moistening my dry eyeballs.
A girl was collapsed on the floor, covered in wounds.
She wore nothing but her undergarments, and her flesh was red and swollen with the welting marks of whips.
Her short white hair had no lustre at all. For a moment I couldn’t recognize who she was.
“You’re awake, Leon.”
Scampelier said, her voice close to my ear.
“Everything is going well today as well.”
My eyes went wide.
As my memories began to surge back, I remembered this girl.
Her name was Ka Luona, and she was a friend of Zhai He.
Zhai He who was always calling “Master” “Master”, and the strong-willed girl who trailed behind him.
Pinching her by her face, Scampelier pulled her whole body up.
Bruises and swollen flesh littered her body. It was unclear how long she had been abused.
My heart ached faintly.
“Pretty, huh, Leon.”
Scampelier’s horse whip hit Ka Luona’s pretty features. A red mark appeared as the spot began to fill with blood.
“Still working so hard to protect others even in this situation. What an admirable person.”
Heavily wounded, Ka Luona’s breathing became heavy, her body curled up because of the pain.
Her green pupils shuddered, tears running down her cheeks.
I looked away, seeing the person standing on the side.
The girl who was crying, her eyes puffy and red, was Elan.
There was also Jinwen, the small beast boy baring his teeth on top of Elan’s head.
Little Hairball, the silver donkey, was pawing the ground.
And the silent Mademoiselle Phantom.
“Scampelier…what the hell is…going on…”
I said, my voice breaking up.
“I found them, Leon. The people you’ve interacted with, the people you’ve spent time with. Leon, aren’t these the culprits who changed you?”
Scampelier used the side of the whip to tap Ka Luona’s cheek lightly.
And then she lifted her hand and whipped her again.
Ka Luona spat out blood, her lips turning bluish.
But she still glared at Scampelier with eyes full of rage.
“It’s odd, isn’t it, Leon? For insignificant insects like these to try and protect each other. Saying things like ‘I’ll take the brunt of it, let the rest of them go’. Don’t you think it’s funny?”
Scampelier kicked Ka Luona in the side. Her body rolled away, leaving imprints of blood in her wake.
“Stop…it has nothing to…do with them…”
I could feel how weak I was with each word I spoke.
I had said the same thing when Ailee was killed.
Scampelier wouldn’t listen to my opinions.
After all, she was the devil.
“If you’ve traveled with Leon, that means you’ve breathed his air, right? Spent time with him? Your body has touched his?”
Scampelier kicked Ka Luona on the ground again and again.
Occasionally her high heels were caught up in Ka Luona’s flesh.
Even watching, I could feel how immensely painful it must be.
My whole body began to shudder.
But Ka Luona just ground her teeth together, suffering through it.
Scampelier whipped both sides of Ka Luona’s cheeks with the whip, blow after blow.
“She really is quite pretty, especially her eyes. Perhaps we should gouge them out?”
I immediately tried to stand up, but couldn’t get out of my restraints.
Because of the imbalance, I fell to the ground along with the chair I was tied up in.
My face dashed against the ground, my nose bleeding.
Desperately I tried to free myself from my chains, but I could only crawl on the ground like a worm.
I had confronted a similar situation before, and felt just as powerless.
Huddling in front of such an absolute power, trembling.
“Which of these people is your favorite one, Leon?”
I raised my head with difficulty.
The emotion in Scampelier’s eyes vanished.
“I see. So it’s still not enough.”
Grinding my teeth together, I mustered up all my strength, focusing it on my wrists.
But I still couldn’t get away.
In this fortress, nothing would happen outside of Scampelier’s plans.
Because she was a completely invincible presence.
“Stop! You devil, you said you wouldn’t attack anyone else–”
Ka Luona spoke in a muffled voice. With a single kick Scampelier sent her flying.
A dash of fresh blood dyed her high heels
“Did I say that? I’ve changed my mind.”
She created a huge scythe.
“Leon, it’s your choice. Who do you want to die first? Well, it doesn’t really matter, it’s just a matter of order. If you don’t pick, then I’ll just kill everyone.”
Ka Luona tried to get up, but collapsed.
Not surprising at all. This was a strength far beyond my own abilities. For a girl like her without any actual combat experience, what could she really do?
Probably from the splitting pain of her wounds, tears streamed from Ka Luona’s eyes.
And I could do nothing about it.
“Leon also wants all the useless ones to die, I see. Well then, let’s start from you~”
Scampelier licked her fingertips.
Leaning over, she stroked Elan’s cheeks.
It was like she was preparing to pluck a wildflower by the side of the road.
And then she raised the scythe in her hands.
I made my final effort, but I couldn’t get out of the restraints. Even if I forcibly tore my own body asunder I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t defeat Scampelier, it was that simple.
Outside of the fortress I couldn’t hope to win. In her fortress, I was about as effective as a cicada trying to topple a tree.
Elan’s feeble voice rang out next to my ear.
“B-big brother He…”
Ka Luona’s tormented body was still twisting on the ground as she cried out, disregarding the pain from her wounds.
It was like the chains of destiny had been strung together.
Everyone was calling out names.
My heart pounded rapidly. It felt like my whole body was about to split into halves.
This time I didn’t try to maintain my own consciousness.
There was nothing left for me to miss.
Disappearing didn’t feel good. It felt like a loss.
And after I had summoned the courage to keep living too…
But there was one thing I was certain of.
In my current state, I couldn’t cause a miracle.
After seeing the true distance in raw power, my tiny miracle didn’t work any more.
I couldn’t even summon up my own magic, let alone beat the devil in front of me.
My “spark” had gone out.
But, but if it were you—
I know you wouldn’t give up!!
Tears streaming from my eyes, I shouted with all my strength.
“Come back!! Zhai He!!”
Save the things you want to save, protect the people you want to protect.
The giant scythe coursed through the air. The next moment, Elan would be split in halves.
In complete despair, I closed my eyes.
It was too late. Even if you came back, what good would it do, Zhai He.
This body was still mine. No magic, nothing that could hope to measure up against Scampelier.
There was nothing left to do, no way left to stop her–
A dark blade rammed against the side of the scythe.
The side with the blade and the side with the scythe were both using their full strength, both weapons shuddering incessantly.
And then, a sudden emission of power spread out.
The whole strong fortress had a corner forcibly shaved off.
The shattered top of the tower was swept into the sky, turning to dust.
The broken chains, still tangled around wrists, were blown off by the wind and fell away.
A blood moon hung high in the sky, the eerie light filling the room.
Everyone looked shocked, including Scampelier.
I raised my head slowly, looking at Elan, who was still crying.
Looking into the eyes of the devil girl in front of me, I spoke slowly.
“Don’t attack any of my partners.”