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「Master! Please, please reconsider this!」
「I will not. This issue has already been settled.」
Aur sharply cut off Spina, who was desperately pleading with him.
「But, it was you yourself who declared that Lafenice was not to be touched under any circ.u.mstances…!」
「You are being tedious. I was talking about the present. We will challenge them eventually, once we have sufficient military power. Now, things will just have to move a little faster.」
Once his military force was ready, he would attack the religious state of Lafenice. As soon as Aur had made this declaration, Spina had instantly voiced her objection. And while they kept their mouths closed, Ellen and Lilu could not agree with Aur either. It was Aur himself who had claimed that Lafenice was an unbeatable foe, and even more, the reason for the attack was to 『get Yunis back』.
Death was something definite. If it was immediately after a person's death, there were ways, advanced as they were, to resurrect them. And those that held onto a strong hatred or had unfulfilled pa.s.sions could sometimes remain in the world as a spirit.
But even so, a person that was completely dead could not be brought back to life. There have been tales of people that have traveled to the land of the dead in order to bring back wives or children, but there are no accounts of anyone succeeding. All of them either ended in failure or even if they did retrieve loved ones, they would be frightened by their changed appearances and flee. Some were even devoured alive.
Aur's intention of invading Heaven just because a fallen Hero had ascended to sit at G.o.d's table, came off as outlandish and reckless.
「I will discuss the matter no further. You will go and wait in your room.」
Aur brushed her off and continued to walk through the labyrinth as she stretched a hand after him. Lilu came up beside him. As he walked quickly, she had to skip as she bashfully started to talk to him.
「Um, Aur…I may not be Spina, but I too, do not think that this will end well… Right now you, well…you are not yourself.」
Aur paused in his steps and glared at Lilu.
「…It's not like you, to be so irritable and emotional. Is it not your method to calmly plan your moves, to avoid any and all unnecessary actions?」
「Don't act like you truly know me.」
Aur grabbed her by the neck and pulled her close.
「I have not changed at all. My purpose has always been to have 『everything』… To gain the definite『power』to dominate all.」
His glaring eyes bore into Lilu's pupils. Those eyes, they were the eyes he had had when they first met; she now recalled.
Calm, collected, careful and dependable. Lilu was forced to remember that such things were only the surface, a single facet of this man. If they didn't find the Dragon Vein. If they could not find the place to dig. If they did not find as much magical energy as the had antic.i.p.ated. If they could not make the dungeon core.
This was a man who had continually put his whole life on the line, had committed to actions that would come to nothing if there was even the slightest failure.
…But even so. Lilu felt that Aur's current temperament was strange.
「Do you think, back…」
Even now, that scene was firmly imprinted in Lilu's memories. The kiss Yunis gave Aur, Zaitlead cutting off her head. That moment.
「Do you think that Yunis would have lived, had you held her back?」
「…I have no use for opinions based on hindsight.」
It was possible that Yunis would not have died if Aur had believed her, had happily accepted her back into his fold. He must be tormented by that inner struggle…
So were Lilu's thoughts on the matter, and they were partially true and partially false.
「My mind is settled on that matter. If that's what you think, well, it just means that we should have had the power to overwhelm Zaitlead at that point.」
Aur seemed to have calmed a little, having put his thoughts into spoken words, and he let go of Lilu's neck.
「It would seem that you all think me feeble-minded or worse. But let it be known, I am not particularly fixated on the death of Yunis alone, and I have no intention of fighting a battle with no possibility of us winning. I understand that we do not have the sufficient military power in the present. But it is not as if we are going to invade Lafenice right this moment.」
Aur turned on his heels and said to Lilu:
「Call Ellen to the conference room. Tell her that there is something I need to discuss, it involves the white elves.」
Lilu nodded, she stared at his back for a while. Even if he had lost his composure a little, he was still fundamentally the same Aur. But even so, the loss of that composure was something that had not happened before.
More than that, Yunis' body had been strictly warded with magic to prevent damage, even now, the body rested in her room. …Had Aur seen something of the tutor that he had loved in Yunis, when she became lost to him in front of his eyes?
Every time this thought entered her mind, Lilu could feel an uncomfortable pain take over, like needles piercing her heart.
「They seem to be grateful to you.」
Ellen c.o.c.ked her head at the first words that came from Aur's mouth.
「The white elf Ceres, the beautiful princess with hair like golden threads and skin like silk. Evan, of the brave people of the forest, his hair was brown like tree bark and his eyes as green as leaves. The two loved each other, but the wall between their races prevented their union. But then the dark elves, evil and savage, attacked. Humans and white elves banded together to defeat the common foe. They have set aside their differences since then, and it is said that they joined their peoples together to build a single village, where they now live together in harmony.」
Ellen smiled thinly. It was a cold-blooded, intense smile, like a knife made of ice. The effect was much more chilling than if she had gone mad with rage.
The four underlings were embittered by the treatment in the story, just as she was. But as she smiled, they could do nothing but shrink in fear.
「…It's an outrage! We must make them pay for this!」
It was Mio alone who raised her voice instead of being intimidated. From Aur's point of view, it was Ellen and her kind who had attacked first. A part of him felt that they had merely reaped what they sowed, but Mio, who had completely fallen in with Ellen, seemed to see it differently.
「Ah, Mio. My dear friend. Do you mean that you will help me get revenge?」
「Of course, I will. Your enemies are my enemies.」
Mio declared with finality. The two had become very close without Aur noticing. The small degree of diffidence she had shown towards Ellen not long ago had completely vanished, they would now talk with ease and on even footing.
「Even so, our enemy is most powerful. An opponent that not even the entire might of the black tribes could overcome. How will we go about fighting them?」
Aur nodded at the question posed by one of the underlings.
「I do not mind deploying human or demon soldiers, but things will be less complicated with Mio's cooperation. There is one painless way to win this fight, should you all agree to it.」
「And what is that?」
Aur grinned mischievously as Ellen asked; he said:
「We will burn it all.」