Chapter 96. <Villain. (3)>
Translator: thursdays PR: LightBrin
It was the third day since we fell into the Apocalypse.
The Lady of the Silver Lily was absent from the academy.
“They say she’s in bed because her body’s unwell.”
“Is that so…”
“Yes. She gets sick often, so of course she would fall ill after interrogating her servants all night long!”
The Heretic Questioner took small sips of the black tea (which contained a large amount of sodium, good for his health).
“Physical fitness is the nation’s strength! It’s difficult to achieve your goals even if you have a great cause when your body is weak. Mm, what a shame. The Lady of the Silver Lily is a talented person who can overturn the empire….”
“I heard that the prince is absent as well.”
“Ahaha. Yes, yes. It’s all thanks to you, butler. Maybe he received too much of a shock. He might even apply for a leave of absence.”
We were in one part of the garden, having teatime by the magnolias. The other students passing through the garden were startled when they saw us.
“It’s the crazy master-servant pair!”
“The naughty lady!”
“You can’t go near them!”
Young ladies lifted up the hems of their dresses and the young men rolled up the ankles of their pants to run away.
Thanks to this, we had the spacious garden to ourselves. Sweet.
“Heretic Questioner, you just called me [butler], not [Death King]. Be careful.”
“Ah! I apologize. My mistake. It’s hard to control myself since my immersion is over 20 percent. Oh, also, this salted tea is surprisingly charming! Another cup please, butler.”
“You called me a butler again….”
I sighed and poured more tea into the lady’s teacup.
I began to hum. After taking on the butler’s role, I realized that tea ceremonies were quite deep. The way the tea poured from the pot drop by drop and gathered in the cup, the way the liquid rippled as it poured—it was beautiful. This culture truly suited the young lady…….
[The immersion toward the character has deepened.]
[Currently, your immersion rate is 10%.]
The Heretic Questioner jumped.
“Butler, why did you suddenly dump the tea on me?! It’s hot! It’ll definitely damage my delicate hair!”
“What do you mean, [Kyaah]! That’s not the way you normally scream! Has your body and heart become one with the Lady of the Golden Silk Plum? Tell me this. When spring comes?!”
“The magnolias drop, and the butler’s hair will fall off too.”
There was a moment when I experienced the horror that I might lose my hair.
We calmed down and stopped fighting. I acted like a proper servant and brushed the Heretic Questioner’s hair.
The Heretic Questioner’s hair had grown a bit over the past few days. Was it the effect of his sacred transformation technique? Or was it because he was becoming more and more like the Lady of the Golden Plum Silk?
“Your expressions show much more emotions than before, Heretic Questioner.”
I ran my fingers through his golden hair. I had never combed someone’s hair or had mine be combed by someone, but my hands moved on their own.
“You used to smile all the time. In another way, it was like you weren’t smiling at all. Rather than smiling because you were happy, it felt like smiling was a default expression.”
“Aha. Am I different now?”
“Yes. You’ve become more emotional. Or should I say vivid? Now, I feel like I understand why you smile when you smile. Whether you’re smiling because you’re pleased or if you’re faking it.”
“I see. I’m also aware of that. Death King, do you think that this is a good thing?”
I quietly looked down at the back of the Heretic Questioner’s head. It was a small head. Small body. Small shoulders. Small arms. I thought about how many people he must have killed despite his small body.
The Heretic Questioner.
From Europe, Bulgaria to be specific, and a first-generation Hunter.
Number of murders, unknown.
“……Yes. I think it’s a good trend.”
I opened my mouth.
“Honestly, I was wondering what to do with you.”
“Mm? What do you mean?”
“You’re a crazy, psychopathic killer.”
I slowly tied the back of the Heretic Questioner’s hair. It reminded me of taking care of my younger siblings at the orphanage.
“But I couldn’t kill you without a reason. The Black Dragon Guild and even the Sword Saint, who hates people like you the most, kept you alive. Which means there’s a reason not to kill you.”
The Heretic Questioner laughed. He didn’t seem surprised to hear I was wondering if I should kill him. Rather, he seemed to find it fun.
“An accurate discernment!”
“Why do you kill people?”
I finally asked the question I had wanted to ask very much.
“You may be a psychopath, but you’re a psychopath who can listen. You know how to understand others in your own way. Then, why murder them?”
The Heretic Questioner stroked his chin. He radiated an atmosphere of deep thought. In the distance, beyond the flower bushes in the garden, there was the quiet sound of students laughing.
The Heretic Questioner turned his head. Then, he began to whisper so only I would hear.
“First of all, I should tell you that I’m very talented.”
The Heretic Questioner made some hand signs.
“Sacred technique, Hidden Spirit!”
One of the Heretic Questioner’s gloves disappeared.
“It is one of the sacred techniques that I can use. I can make anything, no matter what it is, disappear from the world. Of course, I can also use this technique to get rid of evidence and bodies after a murder.”
His bare fingers waved in the air.
“If a powerful person doesn’t kill people, it isn’t because they’re a good person! Death King, they simply find it annoying to cover up the corpse and are afraid of being discovered later. But I don’t have to worry about annoyance or fear!”
“The Tower really was confusing in the first generation.”
The Heretic Questioner’s face turned bright.
“The revival of slavery. Racial discrimination and nationalism. Terrorism. Manipulation. Genocide. Incitement and fabrication. Ideological conflicts. It was a bit like compressing all of human history and melting it in your mouth. The feeling that [At this rate, we will all perish] spread to small and medium warlords, the current five guilds.”
The Black Dragon. Sangryun. Ten Thousand Temple. Chen Mu-mun. The Civil Militia.
“The five gathered.”
The Heretic Questioner spoke as if he were reciting some epic.
“The Black Dragon’s guildmaster spoke first!”
[I’ll leave out the useless words. Let’s make an everlasting non-aggression pact.]
“The Count added a condition.”
[Guarantee that Sangryun will have exclusive rights to supplies from the outside world.]
“And I added this!”
[I want every guild to have its own exclusive territory! That’s my condition for cooperating with this cover-up!]
“The Venomous Snake complained.”
[Well, the craziest guys are the most reliable ones. Tsk, tsk. It’s the end of the world, really…. But why is this coffee so bitter? Who gave me coffee that I didn’t even order? Oi. Look at this. Hey?!]
“The Sword Saint organized things!”
[I won’t say, ‘Do what you have to do.’ I’ll say, ‘Do what you want to do.’ Tonight, we will be killing people with our own conviction, our judgments, and our methods.]
“That night, 4,653 people died.”
The Heretic Questioner’s smile was still bright.
“The next night, 10,171 people died. Then the next night, 8,275 people. And the next night, 7,412 people, and the night after that, 23,781.”
They died. The Heretic Questioner continued to repeat that refrain.
After a while, he happily said, “And then,”
The Heretic Questioner said that the day came suddenly.
“That night, nobody died.”
It was the end of a long cleanup operation.
He said that the Black Dragon Witch cried that night.
And as for the Sword Saint—
[I will take responsibility and resign.]
The Sword Saint was the commander of the Civil Militia at the time.
[And I will never speak of this again. I allowed the massacre. I participated in it. I did it even though I knew I shouldn’t have. I will despise all of you forever. And I will hate myself a little more than that.]
After that day, the position of the Civil Militia’s commander remained perpetually empty.
“Since then, the Crusader has been in charge of the Civil Militia.”
The vice leader of the Civil Militia. The Crusader always introduced herself like that and had always been called that.
“The Crusader regretted it.”
I suddenly remembered the night when the Crusader blocked the Sword Saint along with the Alchemist. Was this the reason for the subtle tension between the Crusader and the Sword Saint?
“But I didn’t regret it! It was a necessary sacrifice!”
The Heretic Questioner grinned.
“But, maybe because I’m being immersed into the Lady of the Golden Silk Plum? I had a weird thought just now.”
“What is it?”
“Death King. I think things might have gone differently if you were there.”
“How interesting. I’ve never felt this mood before.”
The Heretic Questioner raised his head. He stopped whispering. In the sky, magnolias were blooming.
“Do you people always live in this sort of mood? If I had only done something back then. If this happened at that time. Do you drift, wander, and live among these thoughts?”
The Heretic Questioner lamented.
“Well,” the 5th-ranked Hunter said with a sigh. “This is why people are so beautiful and lovely.”
“If I were also like everyone else……”
The Heretic Questioner stopped talking for a moment.
“Mm.” He continued. “Mmm.”
“It’s troublesome, butler. I keep desiring more and more to stay in this world.”
The moment the Heretic Questioner smiled, I heard a voice.
[The immersion toward the character is deepened.]
[Currently, your immersion rate is 11%.]
I realized then.
I probably wouldn’t be able to kill this person.
I couldn’t kill someone who knew how to feel regret.
“When spring comes.”
The Heretic Questioner waved his hand. The missing glove suddenly returned and wrapped his bare hand. It was a white glove patterned with flower petals. The Heretic Questioner beamed.
“Spring is nice. Would you like to go for a walk, butler?”
Time seemed to stop.
I didn’t know what kind of expression I made. Then, the Heretic Questioner looked at my face and said, “Pfft!” while laughing. He was laughing so hard he had to hold onto his stomach.
“Ahahaha! Ha! Your complexion is fantastic, Death King! It turned blue in an instant! You looked like a corpse!”
“Really, you…… Even if it’s a joke, something like this……”
“I’m sorry. I guess having emotions made me a bit of a prankster! Ah, I understand. Now I know what I usually feel when I’m with you, Death King! I feel like I’m looking at a reliable big brother!”
“A big brother…. You’re from the first generation. Aren’t you actually older than me?”
But then, the Heretic Questioner continued, “It is clear that I am becoming quickly immersed into the role of the Lady of the Golden Plum Silk! Even during this conversation, my immersion rose by 1 percent. My immersion rate is now 32%. Tomorrow, it may increase to over 50 percent! That’s how much I’m addicted to feeling [emotions].”
The Heretic Questioner touched the back of his head, where I had tied his hair.
“I am the protagonist of this Apocalypse’s tale. But you will be the main character in the end. Death King, before I drown in emotions and become absorbed by the Lady of the Golden Plum Silk, please save the ending.”
The Heretic Questioner smiled.
“I believe in you, my butler.”
That night, the Heretic Questioner’s immersion rate went over 50 percent.
‘In the end, it is the Lady of the Silver Lily who will destroy this world.’
I headed to the Lady of the Silver Lily’s lodgings under the pretext of checking on her health.
‘She’s the key. I need to understand her. Her love, jealousy, tolerance, arrogance, and monopoly…. I have to understand it all if I want to complete this Apocalypse. And I will.’
Unlike yesterday, the lady’s residence was filled with servants.
“Excuse me,” I said politely. “Would it be possible for me to see the young lady of the duchy?”
“Who are you?”
“I was sent over by the Lady of the Golden Plum Silk.”
The servants’ faces turned hard. It was well-known that their master and the Lady of the Golden Plum Silk had a bad relationship. “Please wait a minute!” yelled one of the servants, running to the Lady of the Silver Lily’s quarters.
After a while, the servant returned with a bitter expression.
“…Follow me. The lady has permitted you to greet her.”
The servant guided me not to the Lady of the Silver Lily’s parlor or bedroom, but her office. Numerous servants came and went with reports.
“Here is a letter from the Lepanore region, milady.”
“Put it on the left side of my desk.”
“Milady, The Lady of the Green Pine sent this in place of the viscount family head. Since the season is what it is, it seems like a request for exchanging crops….”
“Send it to finances for review and bring it back.”
The Lady of the Silver Lily, who was looking at some documents at the desk in the center of the office, raised her head. Her red eyes glanced over my body. She said casually,
“A guest has arrived. Everyone, leave.”
The Lady of the Silver Lily flipped over a sand timer on her desk.
“I will give you a 15-minute break.”
The servants rushed out.
In the spacious office, only the Lady of the Silver Lily and I were left.
The Lady of the Silver Lily put down her quill.
“You say the Lady of the Golden Plum Silk sent you here? That’s commendable. She used to grind her teeth whenever she saw me just a few days ago. She’s become a different person from then.”
“……She heard that you collapsed because you were ill. You seem healthy. How surprising.”
“I’m still a student. I need a proper excuse to take care of things outside of class. Even so, it’s too much to say that I’m healthy.”
The Lady of the Silver Lily coughed.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on your performance. In a short period, you’ve managed to notice spies in my employ. It isn’t only your lady that has changed, but also you. It seems that someone with a good head was chosen for this time’s [actor]. How fortunate for the empire.”
“If you weren’t at least that smart, I wouldn’t have allowed you to visit.”
For a moment, I couldn’t understand.
The Lady of the Silver Lily narrowed her eyes.
“I thought you were smart, but you have a dumb side to you, too.”
“What… do you mean……?”
“I’m in the 14th session.”
Her composed voice continued,
“But even so, I’m just a regressor who repeats the last ten days of this life. This is the 13th time I’ve seen an [actor] like you.”
Then, I heard a voice.
That voice made me speechless.
[A silver-plated heart is looking at you.]
The Lady of the Silver Lily.
“What session are you on?”
She was a regressor in this world.