Chapter 36 “My Lovely Phantom”
Claude quickly regained consciousness.
It was only for a moment, but even he, who had been called a great hero, had been knocked unconscious by the power of that girl’s divine sword.
But the view around him was dim.
The soldiers stood on the spot, staring into the void, and the girl who called herself Toto was struggling to stand up.
I had to deal with her right away. However, He had the strange feeling that the view he was seeing was not really real.
He felt as if he had wandered into an unworldly space.
And he knew right away that it wasn’t just his imagination.
When he heard the voice and saw the face of “her,” Claude, who had been keeping a tight expression on his face, opened his eyes and let out an inarticulate moan.
He opened and closed his mouth a few times, but he still had the will to call out the person’s name.
“What’s wrong with you? With that kind of face.”
The woman with long hair tilted her head.
Her bluish hair was shiny and she had a calm atmosphere.
She wore a dress that looked rather plain for a duchess, but it did not detract from her beauty.
Her blue eyes seemed to have the same gentle light in them as when she was alive.
But the smile that had been on her face soon faded.
“You? Are you in pain somewhere?”
The woman walks up with staggering steps and, looking up at Claude, gently caresses his cheek. Without thinking, he grasps her hand tightly with one hand.
“Are you okay? What happened ……?”
“Natasha, I’m …….”
Claude had a pained look on his face.
He wants to hug the woman in front of him right away. He wants to hug her tightly and confirm her presence.
The day before the wedding. When he hugged Nastasha, she told him that it hurt because he was holding her too tightly. When he released her in a hurry, Natasha came to him and hugged him back.
Her pretty figure muttering and hugging him and her beautiful voice like that of a chirping bird still lingers in his mind. He couldn’t help but immerse himself in that feeling and want to spend eternity again as it is.
“Honey? You’re not going to hug me?
“Well then, it’s from me … today..”
A gentle embrace.
A warm, soft sensation took over Claude’s brain.
Claude murmured as he gently stroked the back of his lovely wife.
“What? Why are you sorry ……?”
“I couldn’t protect you. ……”
He thinks he said the same thing at her graveside once. Natasha replied gently to the words that were spat out as if she was moaning.
“You still care about that? I’m fine. I’m fine.”
“Oh, God. You’re saying that for my sake, aren’t you? I’m fine. If I say I’m fine, I’m fine. So don’t look so glum. See?”
They were the kind of words that sweetly melted his stubborn heart.
Just listening to them, he felt an inexplicable euphoria envelop him.
Claude said, struggling to reason.
“You’re an illusion.”
“You’re still in my heart, you’re still kind and warm and …… pretty, bu you’re just an illusion.”
Natasha didn’t say anything.
She was just waiting for the next word. He felt like that.
“Still, I owe you an apology. I couldn’t protect not only you, but Char as well.”
“That’s not true. You’ll always be there for her.”
“I was beside her. But that’s all. I couldn’t give her the emotional support she needed. ……”
“There you go again, blaming yourself. It’s a bad habit of yours.”
Natasha looked up at Claude, lifted her heels slightly and patted him on the head.
It was a gesture as if she was nursing a child.
She had done this to me a few times before. At the time, he was embarrassed by it, so he acted curtly.
For now, he just surrender himself to her kindness.
“If it weren’t for you, Charlotte’s heart must have been completely broken. I’m gone, but with you by her side, Charlotte is still able to keep her wits. She’s counting on you. And Elsa, too, you know.”
“Even though Char’s heart has been broken beyond help, ……?”
“Charlotte’s getting stronger, isn’t she? If only with her sword skills, really. But it was brought on by hatred, that’s for sure. Now she’s trapped in a strong desire for revenge, but she hasn’t lost her kindness.”
Natasha continued calmly, looking into Claude’s eyes.
“It’s something that you, the person who is by her side, must understand. Really, you are facing her properly. Are you conscious of this? Are you being self-conscious but reluctant to interact with her? What does she need right now?
There is only one thing. Your generous love. Don’t forget that.”
He can’t save her anymore. He’s not qualified to give her love. However, it was an undeniable fact that he had avoided facing her. He had been too busy with his military duties to get deeply involved with that girl.
“Please, wrap her up gently. Take my place.”
Claude had no answer.
While patting her back with one hand – the divine sword held in the other hand is trembling.
Even her kind words were all an illusion created by his own mind.
“I’m sorry, Natasha. I’m sorry. ……”
It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other and all you do is apologise. If it’s so painful and difficult for you, would you stay here with me forever ……? Do you leave Charlotte, Elsa and all the people in Grandin to stay here? Do you stay here and not think about the people who need you? If that is what you want, I will not stop you. I’m just an illusion created by your mind afterall.”
It would be so much easier if h could do that.
But he has people he needs to protect.
It is not just Charlotte and Elsa. He has duty to protect the soldiers, the people of this city, and by extension, all of Granden’s territory.
Claude bit his lip hard and made up his mind, even though he was shaken by the words of the gentle apparition.
Then he gently pulled himself away from Natasha, gently supporting her left shoulder as he gazed into her blue eyes.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
“It’s very, very hard.”
“You can hate me. You deserve it.”
“I have nothing against you.”
Claude’s expression remained unchanged.
He kept his face expressionless as usual, but he didn’t notice that a single drop was flowing from one of his eyes.
“I’ll kill you.”
When he told her that, Natasha smiled softly.
“I knew you’d say that.”
“I’m sorry. ……”
“You apologize again. It’s okay, if that’s what you choose to do and that’s what you need to do, then just kill me.”
Her tone was as if she were speaking lightly.
Natasha is still smiling. It’s the same gentle smile that she showed him back in the day.
“Alright, I’ll kill you ”
Even though he knew it was just an illusion, he felt a tightening in his chest.
If he cuts her down, he will be free of this strange feeling. This fictional world that seems to be gently invading his brain will also collapse.
Claude quickly held up his divine sword, and that’s when it happened.
Natasha smile shades and she clouds her brow in slight annoyance.
“But I would have liked to have seen the end.”
He could no longer remember when the last time he saw her smile.
His breathing naturally became ragged and he broke out in a cold sweat, but Claude–
“I’m sorry … Natasha…”
Natasha fell down with a splash of blood and was gone in a flash.
Then his vision suddenly became clearer.
A girl with purple hair was looming in front of him.
She reveals her astonishment.
“What? Hey, you can’t easily beat up your beloved woman, Great Hero!!”
Claude’s divine sword was wielded.
Toto reacted instantly and retreated, but still suffered a deep cut on her chest. Seeing her like that, Claude said while holding up his divine sword.
“The woman I loved is gone.”
Claude Duras, the great hero, holds up his divine sword.
However, although he didn’t show it on his face, you could see the cold sweat running down his cheeks and his breathing becoming ragged.
It’s probably because he slayed his beloved wife, even though she was an illusion – and because his brain was strongly eroded by the divine sword Mare Viper.
That ability melts the human brain.
A normal human being would be delighted to be reunited with family, loved ones, and best friends that he or she once lost. They’re immersed in a dreamy mood without realizing that it is an illusion. It is a peace so strong that it overrides any pain or suffering.
If left alone, those whose brains have been invaded by the devil’s embrace will spend their days in the company of gentle illusions – and eventually starve to death.
The humans in the temples that had been attacked so far fell prey to Hain’s evil sword, Ledo Mescure, when they were in a dreamy state.
The victims would have their souls trapped by his evil sword without any pain or suffering.
Many of the ghosts that attacked the temple this time were the remains of those who died before they could experience such pain.
Essentially, the more pain and resentment a dead person has in life, the more powerful he becomes. Naturally, killing them while making them feel fear and pain would have given them a slight advantage in terms of strength.
If so, why did she do it?
If it was in the nature of Toto, she would have happily cut up the fleeing humans and laughed loudly.
Still, she chose to kill them without feeling any pain due to the illusion – because of the words of a certain being.
“Hey, Toto. There’s something I don’t understand.”
The words of her beloved one.
When Toto was puzzled by these unexpected words from the supposedly omniscient woman, she puts a finger to her chin and muttered in thought.
“All human beings eventually die. Whether it is a peaceful death or an agonising death, it is still death. However, depending on the state of mind at the time of death, a person may become a vengeful ghost with tremendous power. But there are other times when the same death is the result, and the person is content to go to heaven. –What is the difference between the two? It is very strange. I know why it happens, but I don’t understand it.”
She doesn’t understand that because she is a being that transcends death.
She’s so far removed from the concept of death that no matter how much she thinks about it, she cannot understand it.
Just as humans cannot understand the mind of an ant crawling along the roadside, she can’t understand it.
There is no need to go to the trouble of explaining something as unimportant as how a stupid being dies.
She enthusiastically tell her what she really think from the bottom of her heart.
The beloved goddess tilted her head and listened to the story for a long time, and then said.
“Is that how it is? Then what kind of death do you wish for, Toto?”
She answered immediately.
“I don’t care how I die, as long as I die for you.”
The beloved goddess said.
“Is that so? You would rather die in agony and pain for me than sleep in your bed?”
Toto nodded her head.
At that moment, the goddess approached Toto and embraced her slender body. She was warm and soft and filled with an inexplicable feeling of happiness.
Toto is a good girl. I don’t want to see you suffer and die. –I have seen many people called to the end of their suffering. I’ve seen many die in pain, but I’ve rarely seen a happy or peaceful death. In this case, too, a great many people will die in pain.”
The goddess stroked Toto’s purple hair.
Then, with gentle hands, she slowly ties her hair. Whenever she has time, she always makes love to her in this way.
The hand of the supreme being, the Goddess, was in her hair, receiving every kind word.
Just by touching the tip, a tremendous feeling of happiness that she gas never felt before sweetly fills her brain.
“So let’s give them the least we can give them – a painless death Toto already has the power to make that happen, doesn’t she?”
The divine sword Mea Viper.
The divine sword given to him by her beloved Goddess had such power.
In the dreamscape, they would be able to catch a glimpse of the people they had once lost, the ones they cared about.
Toto agreed, and then wielded her power.
The Mare Viper’s powers were so great that even those who had been hit by Hain’s deadly blade looked peaceful in death. It was proof that they had died without feeling any pain at all.
There was one time, however, when a nun who had previously left the temple returned immediately after Toto had finished her raid.
Hein was about to put his hands on her as well, but Toto stopped him.
She wanted to see what would happen to someone who spent their life in happiness due to the power of the Mare Viper.
That’s why she kept the nun alive after she used its ability. The result was that she died of starvation, as she later found out.
Death by starvation is one of the most painful and prolonged forms of death. Nevertheless, the nun seemed to be dreaming the whole time she was dying.
Which is more cruel: to have one’s life taken away with a moment’s pain, or to have nothing to eat and to dream for a short time until death by starvation?
Which is more cruel?
Many of those who were eaten by Hain were forced to become ghosts to be used by him, but the nun did not become a dead, and her soul departed to the underworld or somewhere else.
Whether this was due to a strong sense of well-being that prevented her from even feeling the pain of starvation, or whether she simply had no regret to become a ghost, she doesn’t not know.
But both those who died in the temple and the nuns who died of starvation were able to pass away in a happy vision. There can be no complaint about that. They should be deeply grateful to the Goddess for her merciful words. Without it, you would have died panting in pain. Toto muttered this in her mind.
Then, after Toto confirmed that the wound had regenerated, she instantly got up.
The great hero could barely stand.
Even though he overcame the ability of the Mare Viper, the burden he would have to bear immediately afterwards would be considerable.
But even in that state, she immediately decided that she couldn’t win, and abandoned the hero and ran to the inside of the temple
However, he immediately decided that he could not win even in that state, and abandoned the hero and ran to the inside of the temple. If it’s just quickness, there’s a minute here. If it were only about speed, she would have the advantage.
The priests and priestess who had been waiting at the back of the temple greeted her all at once, but Mare Viper’s water spear attack was unleashed in all directions and pierced them all.
She ran through the temple, which was full of blood and guts, and reached the far end.
There was a huge crystal and an old woman standing in front of it.
“…… Are you telling me that a kid like you is responsible for the attack on the temple?”
“You shouldn’t judge people by their looks too much. Ne, Chief Priest [little girl].”
Chief Priest Dorothee, who was close to seventy years old, seemed unsure of what she talking about, but she was about to activate the sacred art.
Toto stored her divine energy in the Mare Viper and unleashed it at the same time as her opponent activated her sacred art form.
The powerful flashes of divinity are so aggressive that they seem to approach the forbidden arts.
It easily nullified the sacred art and tore through the old body of the Chief Priests, penetrating the huge crystal that she was protecting. The crystal shattered into pieces.
When the Chief Priests falls down and the crystal shatters, Toto’s legs are about to lose strength.
She was hard to even stand up.
The power of Mare Viper is powerful.
This burden weighed heavily on Toto’s body.
In normal conditions, she can manage to endure it somehow. But Toto, who was fatally wounded by the slashing of the great hero, it’s too much for her to bear. She almost collapsed on the spot, and hurriedly thrust the Mare Viper to the floor, leaving her weight on it and letting out a rough breath.
That’s when she felt a tremendous killing intent coming from behind her.
As soon as she noticed, a shock wave sent Toto’s slender body flying and slammed him into the temple wall.
There stood the great hero.
Despite the fact that she looked like she had wounds all over her body, his powerful blow did not change anything.
But Toto smiles wryly.
“Kukuku…. My mission…. is complete…”
“…… What is your purpose?”
“Who knows? You can’t expect me to tell you, can you?…… Damn, that hurts. …… No, no, no. I’m not going to get into a serious fight with you anymore, I’m not going to be able to save myself ……!”
Toto’s expression was one of anguish, but he suddenly pointed the tip of the Mare Viver in her hand at her own chest. And then–
The divine sword plunges deeply into her chest.
Instantly, fresh blood spurted out from her chest, and a pale light radiated from her entire body.
“The real hell is about to …… begin. Toto has to go for now. …… I’ll be watching from afar to see what kind of death you would be… .”
Toto’s words were cut off mid-sentence, and her figure was instantly scratched from the scene.
Claude was astonished when he saw it.
“…. Transfer technique?’
A large amount of cold sweat dripped from his forehead.
She had only ever attacked with her divine sword and had never used magic.
He hadn’t expected she be able to handle transfer, which is considered to be one of the most advanced forms of magic.
Moreover, the condition for activating it is probably to kill herself. It’s hard to believe, but the girl is still alive after being pierced through the heart.
Claude turned on his heel to look for the girl’s destination, feeling as if his head was being crushed by a terrible headache and dizzy to the point of blurring his vision.
His feet wobbled and he stumbled. Still, when he was about to move forward.
He felt something uncomfortable, like something was creaking.
He wondered if he was hallucinating again, but the creaking sensation gradually became a distinct sound that echoed throughout the area.
A feeling of intense frustration washed over him.
A tremendous chill ran through his body, more than he had ever felt before.
There is an unprecedented crisis looming over the land of Granden.
With this thought in mind, Claude walked to leave the temple.