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The evening after I went to the Magic Tower.
I pretended to read the 『Evangelism of the Empire』, that Lucian had given me, while secretly pondering how to survive in the future. Completely immersed in my thoughts, Annette’s voice was heard through the door.
“Lady Irene, I brought tea for you.”
“It’s the lovely scent of Bergamot today — huh!”
Perplexed by Annette’s sound of surprise, I walked through the canopy of the bed and looked out the door, my reaction mirroring hers.
Dame Joan was wielding a wooden sword in a spacious room.
Huff, Huff. The sound of her exhaled breath was unusual every time her sword was swung.
“Dame Joan? What are you doing?”
“The Commander, huff, I’m being punished for what I’ve done.”
“Pun-Punishment? How many swings do you have to do?”
“Five thousand times.”
“Five thousand times!”
I felt like I was going to faint.
Five thousand times. That was abuse! Abuse was taking place near my room because of me. I was startled and started walking.
“This is too much! I’ll go talk to the Commander.”
“What do you mean, Lady Irene? Lady Irene, huff, thank you for your care, but I received a very finite punishment.”
Joan maintained a calm expression while talking to me, continuing to wield her sword.
“Five thousand times is easy!”
“I am serious, the Commander gave me a lenient punishment unlike usual. It’s all due to Lady Irene who supported me. Thank you.”
Dame Joan bowed politely towards me, putting down her sword for a moment. She quickly started back up with her punishment.
‘She seems to really think so…’
Perhaps, it’s like a morning walk for the warriors of this village to swing a wooden sword five thousand times.
Accepting her determination, I picked up the book and sat up straight in a chair. The rest of her training seemed so arduous and it was a bit awkward for me to be lying down alone.
Annette poured the tea next to me and stared admiringly at Dame Joan.
“Uh, can I bring you a drink?”
Annette’s offer was simply rejected. We watched Dame Joan in awe for a moment. Every time she swung her sword, Dame Joan’s arm muscles flexed.
‘It’s amazing… a woman with a body like that.’
Thinking back, what did the bullies mean by ‘crazy dog’?
‘I’ll have to ask Lady Annette later.’
I closed the book 『Evangelism of the Empire』 with that in mind. I couldn’t think of any survival inspiration while staring at the book in the room. This was not the time to be idle. It was time to go actively seeking information.
‘Information is my weapon. My armor, of course, is also information!’
“Well, I’m thinking of going to the library.”
“I’ll escort you.”
Dame Joan immediately put down her wooden sword and led me to the library.
‘Hmm. I need to trace some suspicious books.’
That was something that I did not want Dame Joan to notice. Thankfully, Dame Joan decided to wait at the library entrance after much deliberation, as I kept saying I needed some alone time. I was relieved and went inside the library.
When the librarian saw me, he gave me a big smile and greeted me. Although I had not been confirmed as a Saintess, I was already treated as one thanks to the Commander of the Holy Knight division’s guarantee.
‘Ian’s status is amazing.’
I looked around the library, appreciating Ian’s influence all over again. Fortunately, there were few people in the library.
As I searched through a bookshelf, I picked up the book titled ‘The History of the Saintesses’ and opened it. Hoping to find out if there were any Saintesses with the power of foresight.
The following facts I came across were beneficial in their own way. I learned that there were several Saintesses with foresight abilities in the past. There was a Saintess among them who made me flinch, with a track record of 100% accurate prophecies, she was unusual.
「Saintess Agnes Blois. Owner of the power of foresight.」
My eyes stopped on a page. Agnes claimed that she had only used her abilities once in her life. She was only ever called a Saintess once. And since then, she has never been able to show her power.
However, Agnes was still revered as the Saintess of Salvation. Her single prophecy led to victory in the Great War.
‘To be forever admired for just one prophecy holds great weight.’
I wish I could do that too. As a small citizen, a life of constant deception was too much for me to bear. With some blasphemous thoughts, I continued to read the book.
A strange phrase soon caught my attention. Saintess Agnes left a will shortly before her death.
「At that time, I should not have made that prophecy.」
That’s how the will began. I opened my eyes wide. It was a prophecy that saved the world, why did she say it shouldn’t have been done?
「A Great War broke out because of my foresight. The balance between humans and monsters that had been well maintained was shattered. In the end, we came to drive the monster out of the North. How much blood was shed in the process? How many lives have been lost?」
Even though each letter had to have been written hundreds of years ago, it appeared as if the emotions contained within it could be touched by hand. I panicked and finished reading the will.
「Perhaps the power of foresight was a curse rather than a blessing.」
That was how the will ended. I was captured by the strange feeling, scratching my cheek. How could such a great Saintess die with so many regrets? In the end, she felt a bitter taste she wasn’t expecting.
Then the noon bell rang.
‘It’s already this late?’
I was surprised and looked towards the librarian. The librarian was absorbed into looking through books and other documents. I sneaked over the corner after seeing that he wasn’t monitoring me. The corner bookshelf that holds records containing the history of the afterlife.
‘Let’s see… Here it is.『List of Dark Guilds.』’
I took out an extremely thick book. This book was how the heroine, who suffered from Nine in the novel, was able to obtain various information. After searching through the table of contents, I soon found the portion pertaining to ‘Nine’.
‘From the establishment of illegal gambling houses to human trafficking and murder contracts, the worst group in history.’
The list of Nine’s evil deeds continued on after turning the page. That was how it was – even in the dark – something even worse had to have been going on.
‘They also managed to corrupt the Sword Master, Ian.’
In the original, Ian Esteban was an unfortunate character. He was a vengeful man who had been sharpening his sword for ten years after his biological father was murdered by his older brother.
He eventually succeeded in usurping the throne, but by then he was already under the spell of Nine. Ian’s hatred and vengeance grew into substance, and the magic that already had a hold on him grew stronger.
‘It was as soon as Ian became Emperor.’
The purpose of magic was to brainwash. Ian would have become the puppet of Nine and used as a shell of an Emperor.
Unexpectedly, Ian was no ordinary human. His soul was not directly subdued by the magic. Rather, he killed all of the Nine guild members who approached him. Nine failed to properly tame Ian.
Brainwashing Ian was a trump card that Nine risked the survival of the guild for, so their failure must have been a huge disappointment. However, it was even more regrettable for the Rehart Empire.
‘He wasn’t brainwashed, but instead, the magic amplified Ian’s hatred like crazy.’
His vengeance towards his older brother, that gnawed at him for the past ten years. The hatred that had accumulated over years towards the brother who killed his father, kneeling under him. They amplified the magic several dozen times, and finally Ian went crazy.
‘Tyrant, Emperor of Blood.’
Ian would be called with those titles.
The most respected Commander of the Holy Knights in the Empire had fallen so horribly. The male lead and the heroine appeared in the original novel in order to stop him. They finally defeated Ian after many twists and turns… and the Empire was at peace again.
Well, that was what it was in the original novel.
‘Although the original heroine had to kill her first love herself and was left with trauma…’
Her overall situation was better than the man who died after being driven to insanity.
When I remembered what happened to the original Ian, I felt bitter.
‘If Ian didn’t fall under the spell.’
If it can be stopped, Ian might be able to avoid that tragic fate.
‘What if I pretend to have foreseen his tragic end and bring up the original story?’
I put my hand over my pounding heart. There were a few things that quickly stopped that idea from developing further.
First, all I know is that Ian is under a spell. I did not know how or when Nine casted it.
Second, if I get caught telling Ian, Nine will 100% kill me.
And lastly, third, ‘Perhaps the power of foresight was more of a curse than a blessing.’
The final line from Saintess Agnes’ will was repeated in my mind.
Even though Ian was sacrificed, the Empire in the original story will eventually be at peace under the rule of the original male lead and heroine. It was undoubtedly a happy ending.
‘If I change the flow…’
The theory of the butterfly effect came to mind. A story about how a single flap of a butterfly’s wings can create a tornado on the other side of the world. Furthermore, it completely interferes with the flow of the original novel. I had no idea what the outcome would be.
‘…First. Let’s focus on not dying.’
I shook my head. My life was in danger right now, like a candle in front of a typhoon.
Even after digging deeper into the book, there was no plausible information about Nine.
‘I didn’t expect much.’
I closed the book with a little disappointment. There was a saying; if you know your enemy and you know yourself, you can win every battle. But I know very little about Nine right now.
Being chased by Nine felt like being chased by a veiled dark guild, an intangible mist.
“Should I go around to places like the back alley and ask for information about the guild or something, like the heroine did in the novel?”
No, I shook my head.
In novels, there are many heroines who are saved even if they are in danger, but I wasn’t one of them. If anyone were so much as to growl when I went to such a dangerous place… I’d be sad all over again.
‘Maybe sooner or later, they’ll come to me again.’
Nine may still believe that I am carrying out the mission diligently and in accordance with their wishes. I’ve got Ian’s fiancée status and they might be proud of me.
They will definitely contact me. Not long from now, maybe before the wedding.
So immersed in thought, I was biting my lips without realizing it. I became aware from the sudden taste of blood in my mouth.
“Your lips are bleeding, my Lady.”
It was a man’s voice. I spun back. A handsome man with dark blonde hair was standing there. Looking at his attire, he seemed to be an Eluneist.