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[Zoreya’s point of view]
After I left the inn, I searched Illsyore around the city for the next couple of hours, but I wasn’t able to find even a trace him. It was already getting very late and people were heading off to bed, putting off the small candles that flickered at their windows.
I stopped near a small well at the now empty market. I had not intention to have a sip of water from it, but I was feeling rather hungry, so I took out some of my supplies. I had a quick snack: a sandwich, a fruit, and three glasses of pure water.
Usually, if there were any beggars or poor commoners around, I would share with them some of my food, but that night, there were none to be seen at the market. As a small favor to the people in this city, I cast [Water Purification] on the well and then continued to search for Illsyore.
By now, I had the vague feeling that he wasn’t in the city anymore, so I decided to try the nearby oasis, if it was still there.
Leaving the city during the night invited all sort of trouble, but I pitied the poor fool who thought I was an easy target, or the Dungeon Lord for that matter.
This reminds me of my early years… I thought as I walked through the desert, slowly approaching the oasis.
The winds were calm, and the temperature dropped quite a bit, but thanks to my armor I did not feel the harshness of the climate. By now, the night predators were out on the hunt, and they included both monsters and animals alike. Only a Sand Iguana tried to attack me, but as soon as I chopped off its head, the other monsters ignored me and focused on the fresh body I provided them with.
When I reached the oasis, which barely struggled to sustain a few sparks of life around it, I was welcomed by an old, stone sign.
“This land is the property of Melkuth’s Apostle, Zoreya. By her decree, none may settle here, but in times of extreme drought, they may take water but not empty the lake.” I read it in a low volume voice.
A small smile appeared on my lips. This little sign was the result of my first ever wish towards my god. I merely wished for a simple way to protect… my home.
I walked past the sign and approached the small lake. The crystal clear water reflected the sky above, and to my right, next to a lonely tree, I saw a lone, hooded fellow. He was staring down at his own reflection.
I recognized him immediately.
“I heard you ran away.” I called out to him.
“Please… leave me alone.” Illsyore replied.
I ignored him and approached him quietly. When I was just a few steps away from him, I stopped.
“The night’s beautiful here, isn’t it?” I asked him.
He didn’t reply.
Without saying anything else, I placed my shield in front of me and gazed up at the stars.
How should I start this? I wondered.
There was a calm and peaceful atmosphere all around us. The leafs rustled a bit, and from time to time, you could hear a critter or two as they traveled about, stopping only if we sparked their curiosity. They never approached us.
“Why are you here?” Illsyore asked after half an hour had passed.
“This oasis… It belongs to Alttoros.” I told him.
“What?” he was surprised to hear this.
Anyone would be. This was an old tale from over eight decades ago. Few remembered it, even less knew its meaning.
“Do you want to join me for a walk?” I asked him and showed him a kind smile.
He didn’t reply.
“It’ll do you good.” I told him.
After he looked down, he nodded.
I picked up my shield, and we both started to walk on the shore of the lake.
“When I was young, me and my siblings often came here to play with sticks. As children, we prending to be knights or warriors of the gods. Hehe! It’s funny because now I am an Apostle of Melkuth… A child’s silly dream came true in the end.” I looked back at him.
“You said Alttoros wasn’t your name, right?” he asked me.
“It is, but at the same time, it’s the name of the Orphanage I grew up in. No family came to adopt me, so I took up the name for myself… It was also to honor their memory.” my tone of voice turned sad at then end.
“Dankyun was also named Alttoros.” he remarked.
“He took it up for another reason…” I let out a sigh.
“You never had a family, you say?” he asked me.
“No, I’m an orphan… I did say I grew up in an Orphanage, but not as the child of one of the caretakers there, but as an actual orphan. My real parents abandoned me near the den of a pack of wolves. A passing by follower of Melkuth saw me and rescued me. Or maybe my god foresaw my future and told him to go and save me. Either way, I was brought here and raised as an orphan. My family, sort to speak, were all the orphans and caretakers there.” I smiled as I remembered their faces.
Even now, after more than eight decades since I last saw them, I could still remember their laughter and smiles as if it was yesterday. They were all my brothers, my sisters, my parents.
“I don’t know how that’s like… My parents were… weird. They bugged me to study all the time when I was little. If I got a 5 at math, they were ready to eat my head off! Hahaha!” he laughed, but I found his story weird.
I thought Tuberculus was his only parent in this world, so why is he speaking of someone else? I asked myself for a moment.
“They worried about me a lot as well… They were loving parents, but now… I can’t even remember their faces or names.” he let out a long sigh and looked down at his feet.
Is this maybe a memory belonging to The Darkness? I thought.
As we walked, I began to tell him of my childhood, and how Dankyun was back then. That draconian had always been a little off, but he cared for his siblings and saw me as a younger sister. He was also the oldest among us, and the only one of his species in the region. Because of that, the guards and other people gave him a hard time, but he put up with it.
“At that time, I had a little crush on him.” I confessed and scratched my left cheek.
“Crush? Didn’t you see him as a brother?” he asked me.
“Yes, but it wasn’t like we were related through blood or were of the same species, but it was most likely just a young girl’s foolish delusion upon entering her teenage years.” I giggled.
“What about now?” he asked me.
“Any feelings I had for him died along everyone else in my orphanage. He burned them all without remorse…” as I said this, I pointed ahead towards a small hill.
“Is that…” he asked me furrowing his brow.
“Yes, that’s where Alttoros orphanage used to be… now it’s only a ruin covered in graves…” told him.
A quarter of an hour later, we arrived at what used to be the entrance to the building. It was marked only by a cracked stone slab covered in moss.
“I’m home.” I said with a soft smile and from inside my storage crystal, I took out a bouquet of flowers. “May your souls rest in peace, my brothers, my sisters, my parents…” I offered them a prayer and bowed my head once before I placed the flowers on the slab.
Illsyore let me mourn in silence. When I was ready, we went around the entrance, following a fallen stone wall to their final resting place.
“A grave?” he asked surprised.
“There are no bones here, but I made them a funeral stone since no one else could.” I showed him a soft smile. “The first two years I worked as a waitress in the city, I used all of my extra coins to buy this for them.” I nodded happily.
It was made out of white marble, and their names were all carved skillfully into it.
“How old were you when Melkuth gave you his shield?” he asked me.
“Young…” he said.
“Yes.” I nodded. “But they were younger…” I looked at the graves.
“What happened? Why did Dankyun… Why did he do this?” he asked me.
I let out a sigh and looked up at the sky as I began to remember.
“I said Dankyun was the only draconian in this area, right?”
“Well, during the summer of the tragedy, an adventurer group was passing by and took rest at a inn before going to challenge a dungeon located not far from here. It’s not there anymore, it was destroyed during the war.”
“I see… Did those adventurers changed him?” he asked.
“Rather than they… it was just one, another draconian. He was their mage and a loudmouth too. That fellow always bragged about how his species was great and all. The true might of Teslov was all he could yap about! Everyone ignored him, but he did have one listener, a very foolish, young, and naive listener.” I sighed.
“Yes.” I looked at him. “Somehow, he got to know him, and he spent a lot of time with him learning about his… ‘heritage’ as he called it.”
“He was being led astray by him…”
“Yes. It didn’t take long before he also started talking about how great the draconians are, how they are on the top, how they are the strongest… He spoke… like a madman.” I sighed and shook my head “If only I knew back then, maybe I would have been able to do something about it, but… I was too late.”
“How did it end up like this?” he asked me.
“The day before the tragedy, I followed Dankyun secretly to the inn where those adventurers stayed at. After they drank a few too many tankards of ale, the human in their group spoke about their plans. They were thinking of heading to the dungeon to test out their might on the first few floors, then they wanted to gather more followers and try hunting down some ancient Supreme Spell Scroll. That was their final goal in a couple of years from then, but while they were chatting about this, the humans asked Dankyun if he wanted to join them.” I could even remember the way they all laughed and cheered.
They were a bunch of loud drinkers.
“I’m guessing he said ‘Yes’, but that party sounds awfully familiar to the one in which Nanya was at first. They didn’t have a young demoness with them, did they?” he asked me.
“No, I’m afraid there were only three in total: a draconian mage, a human warrior, and a human scout.”
“They must have met afterwards then. Please continue.” he told me.
“Well, at this point, the draconian mage slammed his fist on the table and declared that the young Dankyun could only join them if he proved to be a draconian man. They all agreed foolishly.” I sighed.
“What does that mean?” he asked me furrowing his brow.
“For humans, that’s the moment when a man is responsible for himself, has grown hair on his chest, or has taken a woman to his bed. For draconians… or how THAT draconian explained it, the moment of adulthood was when a draconian had taken the life of another for the first time and through it proved to be a loyal subject of the Teslov Kingdom. The thing is, that draconian mage had always insisted that Dankyun’s ‘family’ was something a REAL draconian should feel ashamed of. After all, no draconian could have family members of any other species.” I closed my eyes for a moment.
“He… He saw to it to get rid of his family, didn’t he?” Illsyore asked me.
“I left the inn soon afterwards and returned to the orphanage. I thought he was going to leave us or cut ties with us completely, I never thought… I never thought that he was going to do something like that.” I shook my head.
“What did he do?”
“In order to become a true draconian as that mage saw it, Dankyun bought a sword with the little money he had gathered by helping out other people and returned to the orphanage while everyone was asleep. Before he arrived, I went over to the headmistress’ room, the woman in charge of the orphanage, and spoke to her about my worries. She spoke kind words about him, but meanwhile, he sneaked up in the rooms of the adults and killed them in their sleep. Nobody there was trained for combat. They died before they realized it…” I closed my eyes and clenched my fist.
“He killed them without remorse…” Illsyore said while looking at the gravestone.
“One of the children who had trouble sleeping saw him and screamed. Dankyun killed him quickly, but it was too late. The headmistress heard him and realized something was wrong. Worried for my safety, she hid me in her dresser. Dankyun entered the room and stabbed her in the chest before she could even say a word. After he was gone, I stepped out and walked over to her, crying, trembling and unable to comprehend what just happened.” I let out a sigh.
The memory was a painful one.
“Did he leave then?”
“No…” I shook my head. “To hide everything, he set the building on fire. Of course, at that time, he wasn’t aware that there were spells capable of finding out the truth, but who would cast something so expensive for a poor orphanage like ours?”
“But you escaped…” he told me.
“Yes… I poured a bucket of water on myself and then jumped out through an opened window. I hid in a bush and watched as my home and family was turned to cinder… All the while Dankyun was laughing like a maniac and declaring himself to be a true draconian man from that day forward.” I sighed.
“But why keep the name?” he asked me.
“My name is Alttoros to remember me of the family that was robbed by Dankyun, to keep them alive for as long as I shall live. As for him, the name is meant to remember him of what he offered as sacrifice towards the Teslov Kingdom. A sign of his loyalty and resolution to be a true draconian…” I closed my eyes.
A moment of silence fell upon us, and only the wind could be heard as it rustled the grass and leafs of the trees.
Illsyore eventually took a seat in front of the graves and looked up at the sky. I couldn’t tell what went on through his mind, but at the very least, he was calm. There were no signs of The Darkness as far as I could tell.
“Everyone has a story, a background… Shanteya’s with the Phantom Rage Assassins Guild. Nanya’s with how she came to this continent seeking to grow stronger, met Dankyun and then Tuberculus. Ayuseya’s with her family and country who are controlled by those curses… Yours is with this Orphanage, while mine… mine sounds like a joke when compared to everyone’s hardships.” he let out a laughed filled with pain.
“Why do you say so? You aren’t that old to begin with…” I said.
“How old do you think I am?” he asked me and then looked into my eyes.
“I don’t know… Almost a year now?” I asked.
“In this world yes, but in my previous world… I wasn’t so young.” he smiled softly.
“Previous world?” I asked furrowing my brow.
He sighed and looked up at the sky “I’m a reincarnated soul… I come from a world that has no magic, no draconians, and no one can talk to the gods like you do… What we have there is technology beyond your wildest dreams, stuff that magic can’t even compare to… but also weapons capable of erasing all life on the planet.” he took a deep breath.
Hearing all of this surprised me and shocked me at the same time. I had heard of the possibility of being reborn into another life, but I never thought it was possible or that one could remember anything from that time. As for the technology he spoke off, how could it be possible to wield power greater than any Supreme, but without magic?
“I was a simple man… I had a simple job. I led a simple life. I had a girlfriend, and I loved to play computer games, that was it. One day, I was killed from behind. Just like it happened to those people killed by Dankyun. I was dead without even knowing it… After that, I found myself in this… well, my previous body.” he smiled and looked down at his hands.
I remained quiet and looked at him. Such words to have told me, if they were true, then it made me rethink everything that I was about to do. If he was previously a human, then I wasn’t killing a Dungeon, but a human… an innocent who was cursed with bad luck in his previous life and now once more in this one.
“So yes, I’m a reincarnated human in a world of myth and fantasy… Funny, right?” he laughed.
“W-Why are you telling me this?” I asked, but my voice was a bit shaky.
“I don’t know… but what I do know is that I don’t have much time left…” he began to she tears. “The Darkness… it’s relentless… I can’t do anything to stop it, Zoreya.” his face cringed.
“You… why do you say this?” I asked him.
“Because I know I can’t win against it and sooner or later… I will end up losing control. I will kill without remorse. I will harm the ones I love… Nanya, Shanteya, Ayuseya, Tamara, even you…” he showed me weak smile.
“Me?” I opened my eyes in surprise.
“You are a friend… and also an Apostle of a god. I can think of only one reason why he sent you here. He knows how dangerous The Darkness is… That’s why, Zoreya… please kill me before this thing makes me do something I’ll regret. This, I ask you as a fellow human.” Illsyore told me some rather shocking words.
Without his previous confession of his past life, I would have ignored these words, but now, I found them hard not to listen to.
“But don’t you have a dream? A hope? Can’t you fight for it? Can’t you fight for your lovers?” I asked him.
Why am I saying this? If he asked to be killed, I should just do it! I screamed in my mind.
“A dream? Yes… I had one… To build a Magic Academy that would accept all species of any social status… To teach my students how to make a world where they could coexist and understand why they shouldn’t keep the slavery system. I lived once in such a world, so I know it’s not a dream. But not like this… not with The Darkness taking over… A Magic Academy would only become a Torture Academy… a nightmare. And if this thing inside of me manages to recreate the technologies I had witnessed in my previous life, then this world stands no chance against it…” he shook his head and clenched his fists, endless tears flowed down on his cheeks.
“That… it can’t be true…” I shook my head.
“It is… And the funny thing is that I don’t really need to know how it works EXACTLY. The very fact that I witnessed it in action and proved that the principles and theories behind it work is enough to get The Darkness started…” he said.
“Can’t you fight against it… or something?” I asked him.
“No… I tried, but I keep losing… It’s a battle I simply can’t win… I can’t find the strength to win against it.” he shook his head, and I could tell just how frightened he was of this Darkness.
While we were laughing and thinking there was nothing wrong with Illsyore, maybe deep inside, he was constantly struggling to keep this monster at bay and away from us.
A quick death was the only way to save him…
“How long?” I asked him as I looked down at the ground.
“A few days… a week maybe?” he sighed.
“I’ll give you until tomorrow to say your goodbyes to them… then we can get this over with.” I told him.
“Thank you, Zoreya…” Illsyore said and then did something unexpected.
The Dungeon leaned over and hugged me.
Afterwards, we returned to the inn.
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