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‘...Why am I holding it in my hand?’ was Eugene’s first thought upon waking up.

After taking it out of the treasure vault, he had swung it a few times to learn how it felt in his hand, but he had yet to use the Holy Sword in a battle.

The reason for this was simple. The Holy Sword was too eye-catching. The needlessly ostentatious ceremonial sword stood out even when he was just holding it in his hand, but when he infused his mana into it, it actually started emitting a brilliant light.

The tribespeople of Samar were savage and greedy. It wasn’t just them, either; there were a lot of other dangerous people roaming Samar. As long as it wasn’t in Helmuth, Eugene had the confidence to be able to protect himself no matter where he went, but he didn’t want to attract too much attention before he was done with his goals here.

That was why he had used a fake identity card and had also used magic to dye his gray hair black. As for Altair, it might be the one and only Holy Sword in the world, but Eugene had no intention of drawing Altair while in Samar.

This meant that Eugene had kept it inside his cloak all this time and had never once taken it out. So… why was he now holding Altair in his hand? Could it really be that Altair had fallen out of his cloak while he was tossing and turning in his sleep? Or else was it possible that he had some kind of sleepwalking disorder or an obsessive compulsive disorder that he had never even noticed, causing him to unconsciously pull out a weapon while sleeping in such a dangerous place?

There was no way that could be the case.

Feeling distressed, Eugene rubbed the corners of his eyes with his fingertips. Fortunately, he hadn’t shed any tears. That must have been because he already shed a lot of tears during his first visit to the grave.

However, even if he hadn’t shed any tears, his emotions had yet to subside. He might have already woken up from his dream, but the memories of his dream and the scene that he had seen there weren’t fading away. It was as if he had really been with his old companions in that moment so long ago.

‘...Though, if you really think about it, I was with them.’

His deceased corpse had also been present at the scene.

‘Well, my corpse was lying inside the coffin. But the scene that I saw in my dream… could it really be just a delusion?’

It had seemed far too realistic for that. Sienna, Molon, Anisse, and Vermouth, their appearances were just as Eugene remembered them; and their behavior wasn’t much different from what Eugene had imagined when he had first seen the statue and the memorial stone in his grave.

‘...But instead, that makes it even more likely that… the whole dream might be just a figment of my imagination.’

If the dream wasn’t just a product of his imagination, if something like that really had happened three hundred years ago….

Then why had it appeared to him in a dream now?

“Was it you?” Eugene said as he glared down at Altair.

The dream he had just experienced was something different from a Night Demon’s assault. Night Demons didn’t create dreams like this when attacking their prey. If it had really been an attack from a Night Demon, he would have realized it in his sleep.

Alright, fine then.

Eugene had already confirmed the truth. The dream wasn’t an attack meant to break his will. It had only shown Eugene — no, Hamel a scene that had taken place after he died.

And when he had woken, Eugene was holding Altair in his hands.

“...Was this a revelation?” Eugene asked as he lifted Altair up for a better look.

The Holy Sword didn’t respond to his questions.

“I don’t even believe in gods, so would that guy really send a revelation to someone like me?”

It had also been different from what he had imagined the usual revelation was like. Shouldn't a revelation from god be a bit more awestriking, while warning about something that might happen in the future? But the dream that he had been shown wasn’t of the future, but of the past, and from the distant past three hundred years ago at that.

Eugene muttered to himself, “I don’t know what the meaning of this is. What are you trying to tell me…?”

—Sienna. That necklace.

—I’ll take it with me.

—That goes against the agreement.

—Haven’t we all already agreed on this….

—After creating the world that Hamel wanted to see….

—Allow us all to meet once again in the same place.

—Someday, we will be able to meet each other again in the world that you have been longing to see.

—We will surely be able to reunite in Paradise.

—If that isn’t possible then….

—Then that just means God does not exist.

Eugene tightened his grip on the necklace. This necklace had been taken away by Sienna, causing Anise to say that doing so was against the agreement. Sienna had replied that everyone had already agreed on something.

However, that necklace had somehow left Sienna’s hands and found its way into the Lionheart clan’s treasure vault.

—Found you.[1]

Just what in the world was going on? If they were going to show him something, they should at least make it clear.

‘You could have at least shown me something that I haven’t already figured out myself,’ Eugene said to himself resentfully.

But what was going on between Sienna and Vermouth? Just what kind of promise had Vermouth made with the Demon Kings? And where had everyone ended up now? Were Vermouth, Sienna, Anise, and Molon all still alive? While feeling a deep sense of frustration simmering within him, Eugene placed Altair back inside the cloak and then left his tent.

Something else was simmering on the outside as well. It was a clear soup packed full of vegetables and mushrooms, and the one doing the cooking was Narissa. While the person who was on the last watch, Kristina, was in principle responsible for taking care of breakfast, she had left it up to Narissa to boil some soup while she sat in the warm sunlight and offered up her morning prayers.

“Was it you?” Eugene accused.

Taken aback, Kristina said, “...What are you saying all of a sudden?”

“I’m asking if you’re the one who entered my tent while I was asleep?” Eugene clarified.

“How shameless…. Sir Eugene, just what kind of person do you think I am? Why would you accuse me of going into your tent?” Kristina’s eyes narrowed as she turned to face Eugene.

Indeed, there was no reason for her to do so. If Kristina really had entered Eugene’s tent and stuck her hand into his cloak, there was no way that Eugene wouldn’t have noticed that.

Changing the subject, Eugene pointed out, “...You’re the one who’s supposed to be doing the morning duties.”

Kristina defended herself, “I was going to do it, but Narissa offered to help.”

“That isn’t on the level of just helping someone. Isn’t she doing it all on her own?”

“The ingredients and the cooking tools were all provided by me.”

Eugene was struck by her shamelessness. “I’m also the one who prepared all of those things…. I even picked the mushrooms too.”

“Sir Eugene, let’s not get tripped up by such trivial matters. But what in the world are you doing so early in the morning? Out of nowhere, you suddenly started suspecting me, and even accused me of doing something so shameless… could it be that you saw my figure in your dreams?” Kristina asked him with a small smile on her own face.

This look of hers caused Eugene to recall the appearance of Anise that he had seen in his dream. Their excessive resemblance to each other was becoming quite a problem.

Even so, his reply came without any hesitation.

“No.” Eugene flatly denied.

Anise and Kristina were two different people. Still, it bothered him. They might be two different people, but perhaps Kristina was actually descended from Anise.

It might be because of the sight of Anise with tears dripping down her face that he had seen in his dream, but Eugene felt like he should treat Kristina with a little more kindness. However, before that, he decided to ask her a few questions about the Holy Sword.

After using magic to block the sound from spreading so that Narissa couldn’t hear them, Eugene spoke, “...Hey, about the Holy Sword, does it sometimes move on its own volition?”

As far as Eugene knew, the Holy Sword had never shown any sign of moving on its own during his previous life.

“What are you saying all of a sudden—Ah!” Kristina replied with a bewildered expression, but all of a sudden, she let out a gasp as her eyes lit up.

She placed her hands together in front of her chest and looked up at Eugene with reverent eyes.

“Sir Eugene, could it be that you have received a revelation?” Kristina asked.

Eugene hesitated. “No… I guess I was just daydreaming….”

“So the Holy Sword had communicated the voice of our God to you, Sir Eugene,” Kristina stated confidently.

Eugene denied it. “It wasn’t the voice of your god, but—”

“Sir Eugene,” Kristina interrupted him. “Please don’t ignore the clear sincerity that lies within your own soul. Although you might say that you don’t believe in God, the truth is that you really do have faith in him. Please stop deceiving yourself, there’s no need to feel ashamed.”

“When have I ever felt asham—”

“It’s only natural for humans to be afraid and shy away from the dark. Sir Eugene might be a bit coarse and unscrupulous at times, but since you’re still at quite the immature age, it’s not unusual for you to be afraid of the dark…. So our benevolent God looked into your heart, and came to you, so that you would not need to fear the darkness.”

“...,” Eugene stayed silent as Kristina continued to get carried away.

“Because that is what Sir Eugene subconsciously desired. ‘I am not afraid of the dark, I can overcome the dark.’ Such desires caused Eugene to grab onto the Holy Sword, a miraculous artifact bestowed by our merciful God. With its help, Sir Eugene was able to fall asleep in the warm light of the Holy Sword, and in his dream he received a revelation from God,” Kristina said devoutly.

“That’s right,” Eugene agreed. “I did receive a revelation. God did appear in my dream, and do you know what he said?”

At these words, Kristina clasped her hands together with a shining expression on her face.

She cheered, “Aah! Indeed, so that really was the case! Sir Eugene, what message has God passed on to you?”

“He said to look at you and tell you to shut up,” Eugene claimed..

“....” Kristina was struck dumb.

“And about the god that appeared in my dream, he was really ugly. No, he far surpassed the level of normal ugliness, he looked just horrible. It looked like he was covered in a mixture of cockroaches, centipedes, and maggots; he had the head of an orc that seemed to have been scarred in a fire, and he made ‘kweeek kweeek’ sounds whenever he spoke,” Eugen calmly described.

“Sir Eugene.”

“Whenever Kristina gets too chatty — kweeek — and seems to be lacking in logic despite the torrent of words…. Tell her to stop using faith as a substitute for eloquence — kweeek — and don’t use the name of God to back up her own claims — kweeeeek —….”

“Please just shut up,” Kristina hissed.

Eugene had thought that he should treat Kristina a bit more kindly from now on, because she resembled Anise, but it looked like that was impossible.

“The soup is done,” Narissa called out.

“Alright,” Kristina responded, calming down.

“Isn’t there any meat?” Eugene asked.

Narissa’s soup proved to be quite tasty.

* * *

“It should be about time for our pursuers to catch up with us,” Eugene mused.

It had been three days since Narissa had joined them.

“That should be the case,” Kristina agreed.

The place where Eugene had fought with the warriors of the Garung tribe was a little outside of their tribe’s territory. However, after ten warriors who had gone out on a hunt had failed to return, and when their prey had been a highly valuable elf at that, there was no way that the tribe could simply overlook this issue.

“What did you do with the corpses?” Kristina asked.

“I burned them,” Eugene answered.

Of course he had done so. Pointlessly leaving their corpses intact would only make it easier for their chasers to catch up. Eugene had burned all the dead warriors and Vakhan wolves with magic, so that not even a bone was left.

“But seeing as they haven’t caught up even after three days, it seems that they’re having a hard time keeping up with us,” Eugene observed.

The forest was very large and every inch of it was dangerous. The tribes who lived here despite this were bound together by a complex web of interests. The Garung were undoubtedly a savage tribe, but that didn’t mean that they could so easily intrude into someone else’s territory. This was part of the laws upheld between the tribes.

If they wanted to remain as a ‘Tribe of Samar’, it was best for the Garung to follow these laws obediently.

However, the chief warrior of the Garung, Ujicha, had no intention of doing that. This horrific-looking bald man had ambitions that did not lose in magnitude to his massive muscles.

Those born in the forest could only be raised in the forest and eventually die in the forest.

But just like most tribes, the Garung tribe nevertheless had some ongoing ties with a few upper-level figures in the outside world.

Their contact to the outside world was Count Kobal of the Sea Kingdom Shimuin.

The Garung Tribe operated a small mine, which had started to produce mythril a few years ago.

This led Count Kobal to eye the high-quality mithril produced from this mine owned by the Garung Tribe. But he didn’t just want to get his hands on the mithril — he wanted to purchase the mine itself. Since the mine had started to produce mithril, there could also be other precious ores resting within.

In order to get to them, the mine first needed to be properly developed, but it was impossible to develop a mine by just blindly picking up a pickaxe. The natives who were born in the forest and were only familiar with hunting didn’t have the knowledge needed to develop the mine. They barely had the capability to mine the iron ore that was used to make their weapons and tools.

In order to develop the mine, Count Kobal was even willing to mobilize some dwarven craftsmen. However no matter how enthusiastic their side was, the Garung tribe had no intention of selling the mine that had been in their possession since the time of their ancestors, or of allowing outsiders to develop the mine. This was the stubborn decision of the Garung tribe’s last chieftain.

But the chieftain was old. Ujicha saw his opportunity to drag the chieftain off of his throne and become the chieftain himself. After that, he could sell the mine for a large sum of money. To Ujicha, it didn’t matter if these outsiders came in and developed the mine.

He had no intention of being stuck in this forest as the chieftain and growing old like that. Strength might weaken with age, but the power of money would never grow weaker with the years. Ujicha wanted to use his connection to Count Kobal to leave the forest. He wanted to cross the vast sea and live a luxurious life in a shining city.

In order to ensure such a future for himself, Ujicha was forced to cater to the poor tastes of this chubby little boy beside him. Although Ujicha was rather unable to respect or understand this noble’s twisted desires, he still couldn’t afford to refuse or ignore the latter’s orders.

When Ujicha usurped the chieftain and announced his willingness to sell the mine, Count Kobal had sent his sworn knights and his own son to Samar.

Dajarang Kobal, the count’s son, looked like a pig walking on its hind legs. However, to Ujicha, this piglet had a pair of wings — by satisfying Dajarang’s voracious desires, those wings would allow him to fly to his splendid future.

Dajarang deeply wanted to possess the one-legged elf. He was enraged by the fact that their hunt had failed. He mocked the warriors, calling them fools for failing to capture a single elf. Then, while saying that he couldn’t trust them any further, he had insisted on following them on their hunt.

The fact that they hadn’t been able to catch up to the elf, even after three days had passed, was partly because of the piggish noble’s complaints. After walking just a few steps, he would whine that he was hot. If they gave him a ride on a wolf’s back, he would start throwing a fit about how it was smelly. And when they tried to run just a bit faster, he would start screaming that his stomach was churning.

If Dajarang hadn’t been the Count’s son, he would already have been killed, but every time Ujicha felt a surge of killing intent, Bron — the sworn knight accompanying Dajarang — comforted him.

“Just hold on for a little bit more. I’ll be sure to tell the Count how much you suffered to keep his brat happy,” Bron promised him.

“Are you sure it’s worth it?” Ujicha asked in a skeptical tone.

“Mhm, no question about it. The Count is very appreciative of talented people. With your skills as the chief warrior, and all the thoughtful gifts that you have prepared for the young master…. Haha! The Count is sure to value you,” Bron said with a wicked smile on his face.

“Fine then, if you’re still unsure, why don’t we do this. Before you sell the mine, make sure to come to Shimuin at least once. Let me introduce you to some of the ladies I am intimate with. All of the ladies are from aristocratic families. If it’s a man like you that I’m introducing to them, the ladies are sure to be interested in you, and if you're successful in developing a relationship with one of them… then you might be able to become a noble right away.”

These soothing words managed to calm Ujicha’s rage. Right, he just needed to hold on for a little bit longer. Their pursuit was indeed a little slower than they had planned, but they had still managed to find traces leading to the thieves that had dared to steal the tribe’s prey.

“Lord Ujicha,” called out a warrior who had just returned from scouting ahead. “Some unknown youth is waiting for us up ahead.”

“Is it a member of the Yabang tribe?” Ujicha asked.

They were currently in the territory of the Yabang tribe. As dozens of warriors from another tribe had invaded their territory, it was only natural for the warriors of the Yabang tribe to come out and confront them. The Yabang tribe wasn’t a tribe that would need to bow its head when facing the Garung tribe, but if the two tribes were to clash with each other, they were both sure to suffer significant losses.

As such, once they explained the situation, the Yabang tribe should allow them to continue on their path. After all, warriors from the Garung tribe had been killed and their prey stolen. Although the Yabang tribe might be outraged by the Garung tribe’s temerity in not sending an emissary in advance to seek permission to pass through their lands, that didn’t matter to Ujicha. For Ujicha, whose plans for the future lay outside the forest, the problems of following the laws of the forest and balancing the relationships between the tribes didn’t matter in the slightest.

“It’s not a warrior of the Yabang tribe,” the scout reported.

“Could it be one of the thieves’ companions?” Ujicha suspected.

Having noticed that they were being pursued, the thieves may have left one of their comrades behind to block his way. With a bloodthirsty smile on his face, Ujicha mounted his wolf.

Ujicha growled. “It seems that they’re being arrogant just because they managed to kill a few of our warriors.”

Even if the boy wasn’t one of the thieves, it didn’t matter. As long as he wasn’t a warrior of the Yabang tribe, that meant that there was no need to show him mercy. Should anything block their way, they just needed to clear the path and keep on going.

“When are you going to catch the elf?” the fat pig, Dajarang, whined.

His lips twitching, Ujicha turned to look at Dajarang and said, “It seems that a comrade of the thieves who stole the elf is waiting for us up ahead. We should go see him, young master.”

“Why should I? I don’t want to. I want to stay in the shade….”

“We’re all heading there together, young master. If we’re able to capture him, that means we’ll be able to find the elf even faster. If you wish to stay here and rest, the capture of the elf might be delayed even further,”

“Ah really…,” eventually Dajarang got up from his chair with a sigh.

Ujicha was planning to brutally kill the guy blocking their path ahead; by doing this in front of Dajarang, he hoped to terrify the brat into obedience. If he could manage that, then Dajarang’s attitude, which had already driven Ujicha to the point of murderous rage a few times, would probably improve slightly.

“Kiyaaah!” Ujicha called out.

Dozens of wolves raced through the forest.

1. This is what the phantom of Sienna that Eugene met in Aroth mouthed at him before disappearing. ☜