I couldn’t hide my frustration from the Knight Commander, making me purse my lips.
…Why wouldn’t he just give up? Why won’t he agree with me?
I hurriedly tried to think of a way to persuade the Knight Commander that my choice would lead to a better future.
What I saw reflected in my eyes was an expressionless face, halfway between human and monster.
I saw myself at the end of that future path… The horror of it turned my fingertips cold.
“…If I stayed around, you would become stronger… But you will also suffer.”
“…? That’s just my lack of training. Once we go home, I can further temper my spirit.”
The Knight Commander spoke clearly without hesitation.
No. That wasn’t what I meant.
It was frustrating not to get through to him… I turned my gaze again to his future.
…A country overrun by demons, blood, and smoke, filled with the voices of resentful people.
It was all too much to put into words… Letting that future come to life would fill me with such deep regret that I could cry just thinking about it.
“If I make even one mistake, it could start a war! Don’t you understand that we won’t always be able to live in peace like how we do now!?”
“…If that happens, I’ll do all I can to stop it… If that is what you wish.”
He spoke so confidently that no words could come out of my mouth.
I wanted to just crawl away and hide…
I tried to struggle…
I desperately searched for the answer that would me steer clear of any unfavorable future…
What, why am I…
A dry, devastated world with no humans… Where only giant monsters roamed around.
It was all the result of my choices… All of them inevitably connected.
…This was not something I can avoid.
I couldn’t stand to see this darkness in front of me.
“…Everything might be destroyed… The whole world… Solely because of my actions! Because of my wrong choices!”
“The world will be destroyed?”
For the first time, the Knight Commander casted his eyes down, as if in thought.
…At last, he seemed to understand.
Although I was getting what I wanted, I felt a pang of loneliness in my heart.
I looked at the Knight Commander deep in thought and realized this would be the last time I saw him.
He had come closer to me at some point, and I looked at his face.
I couldn’t tell what that familiar face was thinking about, but it seemed more intense than usual.
…I thought that his eyebrows, a silvery-white color like snow, were stunning.
When he noticed me staring at him, the Knight Commander raised his gaze, tilting his neck inquisitively.
That gesture shouldn’t look good coming from an adult man, but somehow it suited the Knight Commander… I smiled unintentionally.
He looked back at me with surprised eyes… A hot intensity that made me cringe.
“It cannot be guaranteed that you could save this country… Let alone the entire world.”
The Knight Commander said as he drew closer.
He was so close that I could touch him… He took up most of my field of view.
“I will do anything I can, request help from anyone I have to, and use all my strength…”
He spoke sincerely and earnestly.
He gently took my hand.
“…So please, come home with me.”
My feet swayed loosely.
I thought I made up my mind. I thought had settled my intentions.
But his grip was so warm that I felt my heart melt.
“…Why… Why won’t you just give up…?”
I couldn’t bear it, starting to spitball questions at him.
His voice was quiet and distorted to the point that it should have been hard to hear… But the Knight Commander spoke anyway.
He talked sloppily, struggling as he chose my words.
About his father, the environment that had made him who he was, and the time he met Vidika.
He gripped me more firmly as if to show he didn’t understand either.
He said that his life before he met Vidika wasn’t anything he could call good, constant suffering and being looked down on.
But there were good moments, too, he said.
‘Master Vidika‘ was someone he respected deeply.
‘The Chief Magician‘ was very reliable.
‘The subordinate knights‘ needed his guidance.
‘His Majesty, the King‘ held his pledge of loyalty.
“Everyone trusted and turned to me. It’s the important life that I’ve led.”
…But everyone had kept their distance since he had become an adult.
He didn’t shake nor show any disturbance in his voice, but rather spoke with a tinge of loneliness.
“…But somehow, you have always eased my heart.”
The Knight Commander said no one else had made him feel that way, making it so that he couldn’t take his eyes off me.
I couldn’t take my eyes off him either…
“Your words made me uneasy, and if you left, it would pain me exceedingly.”
“…I’m so used to your presence that I can’t let go anymore.”
As if to embody what he was saying, the Knight Commander squeezed my hand in a firm, but gentle grip.
I felt like I was being told not to let go either.
Despite my intentions, I felt my heart tighten.
…Ah, wait a minute… How unfair.
“So why don’t you choose me… Choose us… Over those other people?”
I felt a slight tremble pass through my body, originating from his warm fingertips.
Was he afraid of me not coming home?
His serious face faltered for a little bit, his blue eyes shifting in confusion.
I felt my feet tremble as if the world would crash in on me.
I’m losing resolve…
I’m starting to want to go home…
I just needed to close my eyes, erase my emotions, and shut my ears.
I should go down the path that most people would go with if they were in my position, the path that would benefit those they held close to their hearts the most.
That’s the right decision after all.
I let go of his hand.
I closed my eyes and shut my ears as I felt that voice come to me in whispers again.
I felt pain in my heart.
But it doesn’t matter… I just needed to tuck the pain away… Making it smaller… And smaller… So that I won’t fold.
I kept chanting that to calm myself down gradually.
This was the correct choice.
No one will get hurt this way.
I won’t get hurt, either.
My heart calmed. I slowly opened my eyes and stared directly at the Knight Commander.
I opened my mouth slowly… My voice came out in a whisper, “I’m making the right choice. I am.”
“Rururia,” the Knight Commander met my eyes, “I don’t care about what is or isn’t the right choice. You can choose whatever.”
The Knight Commander had a quiet, yet visible intensity through his whole body.
He interrupted me with a low, passionate voice, glaring sharply.
“My world is a world with you in it.”
Those groaning words made my heart sink.
The feeling got bigger and bigger… When I tried to suppress it… It just kept coming back, over and over again…
“And that’s why Rururia…”
I felt goosebumps on my neck.
I realized the Knight Commander was already pointing his sword at my throat.
It was a familiar posture. He seemed taken by the blood… But why?
“…I won’t allow Rururia to be erased.”
I felt his intense gaze and violent intentions overwhelming me with immense pressure.
The impact of it helped me snap out of my daze and think clearer.
On the contrary, the whispering voice in my head seemed far away, just a meaningless noise now.
…Ah, what was I thinking about? I felt like I was going backward… Ah, no, before that…
I glared at the guy in front of me who was pointing a sword at my throat, staring like he wanted to eat me.
I lifted my leg, which felt strangely heavy… It felt like it would tear off as I shook it.
“I said I wouldn’t let you fall to senseless bloodlust!”
I swung my leg as hard as I could, aiming at the Knight Commander.
Well… I wasn’t aiming anywhere in particular, but it seemed I hit him in the shin.
…But he seemed completely unfazed! My foot felt more pain than he did!?
Going with my heart… My face revealed my personal feelings of regret.
As if intimidated by me, the Knight Commander hurriedly sheathed his sword while uttering defensively.
“Senseless… What… No!? I was just trying to persuade you.”
“What kind of blood-thirsty idiot uses a sword to persuade people!?”
That was senseless!
He was clearly feeling bloodlust!
At my legitimate argument, it appeared as though the Knight Commander had nothing to say.
For now, at least, I tossed him my handkerchief to stop the bleeding on his head.
The Knight Commander was stunned like a child as he grasped my cute handkerchief.
He seemed surprised and confused as I silently pointed at his forehead.
…Huh? Had he not noticed it yet? But isn’t that such an extensive injury?
I’ll leave him for now since he’s still muttering excuses.
I turned around towards the Heavenly Cragon.
…He really was a tremendous presence to behold.
The area around the little boy was distorted, stars swirling around in his eyes.
In his unusual existence, he was waiting for me to make my choice… To decide who I would become.
I gently closed my eyes.
I didn’t want to become illogical and make a mistake.
This is the right path to choose for the world… Leading to praise and appreciation– But something was wrong.
It shouldn’t be wrong. It must be good to choose a path where most people have a high probability of living good lives– But it felt terrible for me.
I don’t want to choose for someone else’s world… For someone else’s path.
That wouldn’t be my world anymore– That would be wrong, and a life full of suffering...
There were people that I didn’t want to upset.
People hoping I would come home.
People that just wanted to see and be with me.
These personal matters that tugged my heartstrings were trivial compared to the whole world, but…
I’m not a hero, a saint, nor a masterpiece. I’m just Rururia.
I remembered the Knight Commander again and laughed softly.
Even if I made a mistake, I have people that would stand by me.
Even if I were to get lost, I’d have people that would struggle with me.
If I think that would be the best for the world, then that would be what I choose.
After all, I’m me…
…Only I can give my answer.
My course settled… I opened my eyes and steadied my shaking feet, opening my mouth that felt like it was shrinking.
“I want to live in a world guided by a path I have chosen. I want to walk together with everyone in such a world.”
“That’s why even if I make the wrong decision that would make things go badly, then I’ll just keep fighting until the end.”
“…I want to live in the world that I chose to live in.”
At this point, I stopped speaking and took a breath.
I tried to take a step towards my chosen path, but noticed that I couldn’t move my legs. I felt insufficient, but that didn’t matter.
It might be scary and wrong to make a bad decision, but even so…
While taking in everything, I forced myself to make a slippery half-step.
“I choose to go home! Back to my world.”
At hearing my choice, the Heavenly Dragon slowly closed his eyes wordlessly.
I heard something like a clicking sound, far away.
“It seems as though you have made your choice.“
I heard a voice I had not heard in a long time as something heavy landed on my head.
“Kongoryu-sama! Dragon! I’m just a weak maiden, so don’t jump on my head like that!”
I thought my complaints were reasonable, but both dragons seemed in disbelief.
Speaking of which, where were Kongoryu-sama and Dragon this whole time? I could have used their advice… And I was worried!
But first things first… He was heavy!
You’re a heavy dragon! My neck… My delicate neck… Will break!
I struggled to peel him off me. Suddenly, my head felt lighter…
I turned and saw that the Knight Commander had caught the Dragon.
…But his face was expressionless.
I was a bit… I mean… Very scared…
“You said you’d return?”
“Yes. I did. So?”
What did he mean by repeatedly confirming what I had just chosen to do?
He was just trying so hard to persuade me to change my mind… But he didn’t even hear me say all that? He was kidding, right?
I was about to complain, but at that moment, the Knight Commander had glared at me.
But then, he smiled.
He seemed incredibly happy… Happier, even… Than ever before… As he smiled.
I could hear my heartbeat pounding as I looked at him.
…No, no… Nooo! I looked at him… All that destructive power turned into happiness and roses before my eyes.
What happened to the severe, stone-cold, Knight Commander?
Bring him back!
I averted my eyes since I couldn’t stand it anymore… And out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kongoryu-sama approach the Heavenly Dragon.
“It’s been a while, Heavenly One.“
“It certainly has, Diamond One.“
The Heavenly Dragon responded in kind to the Diamond Dragon.
Speaking of which, what was all this stuff around us? Information on the world? I couldn’t read it… Couldn’t feel it anymore.
“This world has been confirmed.“
“Ahhh. Indeed, it has.“
The two Dragons exchanged simple, but multilayered, words and it felt like much more information was being conveyed.
It didn’t contain any emotion, and I was too timid to get in between them… The Heavenly Dragon turned as if he had read my mind.
“…As I had said, there was no right nor wrong choice.“
“…The Heavenly Dragon seemed lonely as he spoke.“
I, the Knight Commander, tried to persuade her as hard as I could, but in the end, I got angry at Rururia.
I was desperately trying to recover and say why I needed to use intimidation, but the more I spoke, the more I realized I was in the wrong… It seemed like she wasn’t listening and wouldn’t come home with me. I felt so insanely impatient.
However, in the end, Rururia said she’d come home!
I did it!