Drops of red flood dripped from the Knight Commander’s fingertips.
He was wearing a thin, white shirt, not his usual thick knight’s uniform… He was also bleeding everywhere.
He was injured.
Even when facing the Fallen Hero in that vision, he hadn’t been that bloody.
He did not attempt to wipe the blood off his forehead… He just walked up to me calmly before stopping abruptly.
He glanced at me and then drew his sword, pointing it at the Heavenly Dragon.
His stance was threatening.
“What did you do to her?”
The Heavenly Dragon seemed unfazed and answered with a comfortable smile.
“I’m just getting her used to being here, that’s all.“
The Knight Commander didn’t seem to like that brief answer, his body tensing up in response.
The Heavenly Dragon remained unconcerned as he smiled.
“There’s no escaping it. I’m half of you– Why don’t you join us, too?“
The Knight Commander didn’t even flinch at this revelation on the secret of his birth, but immediately refused.
I felt a fiery pressure blow through the room.
If I were anyone else, not being wrapped up in all the information of the world, I would have passed out from the weight of this magical pressure.
The Knight Commander saw my expression, hardening his stance as if itching to slash out at anything thrown at him.
“If I go with you, can Lady Rururia go home?”
“If you choose to stay here, it means you choose her.“
“…What does that mean?”
He spat out as if he didn’t understand what was being said.
He lowered his sword as he walked towards me, but did not sheathe it.
He came within a few steps of me, looking me straight in the eyes…
When I returned his gaze, he bit his tongue, grimacing.
“…Is this puppet-like figure… Lady Rururia?
He groaned through clenched teeth.
I neither confirmed nor denied anything, making his grimace expression more intensely.
“She is who she is. It’s just not an expression you could ever recognize. She is the one who chooses. We just accept it.“
The Knight Commander continued to stare at me silently, not really listening to what the Heavenly Dragon was saying.
Suddenly, he grabbed me by the chin.
In the back of my head, I tried to think of something to say in response.
But I thought that would be meaningless, so I stopped. The difference in physical strength between him and me was apparent.
Even if I resisted, it would be no obstacle to him.
I just looked at him as he held me, making him bite his tongue in anger.
In contrast with the force he had used to grab me, he was gentle as he let go.
His face seemed twisted with emotion.
…What does that mean? What part of this place, where the future of the world was chosen, offended you?
I cocked my head in confusion and started to glare at him for some reason.
“…Surely, Lady Rururia, you don’t intend to choose this guy?”
I see… He doesn’t understand.
So now I have to choose between the Heavenly Dragon and the Knight Commander.
…But I’m not sure why he was the other option.
The blood continued to drip.
Looking at him, the bandana that was usually wrapped around his head was gone, revealing his torn, bloody skin.
Although it looked painful, he neither wiped nor compressed it.
It was very reckless of him to come here.
I have to explain to him how impulsive that was.
But then again, he came here all on his own, so maybe no explanation was needed.
Besides, trying to explain things to him won’t change anything. I still needed to make choices for the fate of the world.
I slowly opened my mouth as the Knight Commander painstakingly waited for my response.
“It’s not about choosing or not choosing the Heavenly Dragon. I need to make good decisions for the world.”
“…? What do you mean?”
He showed a surprised expression that meant he did not understand what I said.
It’s all too difficult to explain to someone not in touch with the world’s information. For some reason, I didn’t want to give it all up.
So I tried to explain it as simply as possible to him.
About the past, that wasn’t chosen…
About the impact that would have on the future…
And then… About the future my upcoming choices would build.
“…That’s why… For the good of the world… I need to stay here.”
“For the good of the world…”
The Knight Commander repeated what I had said…
“It may be hard to understand, but for a better world, for everyone–”
“Who do you mean by everyone?”
His question stopped my thoughts.
Then my mind started racing… I’m not wrong, I…
“…Well, of course, all the people living in the world.”
“You’re doing this for random people you don’t know?”
“No, not just them. The people around me are included as well.”
“Is that so? Because your friend Lady Sara begged me to bring you home.”
The Knight Commander’s eyes were hollow.
A glimpse of Sara-chan’s face popped into my head, but I squashed it down– Don’t waver.
“…No, even if she doesn’t know, I’m doing this for Sara-chan, too.”
“The entire time I was waiting for preparations to be made, Solan was at my side crafting his plan for your safe return.”
The Knight Commander had a bitter smile. It seemed he understood less than half of what was happening.
I was starting to re-evaluate the situation, and as I made the decision to reject him… The words I had meant to say was caught in my throat.
“Lady Irene was there, too, using complex words to explain as much as she could to me.”
The Knight Commander seemed about to cry as he spoke… A far-off look in his eyes.
So, Irene-sama was using terms from her previous life again… And he’s crying about it all.
That does sound like them.
I almost murmured something, but I stopped myself.
This is all pointless.
I must not make a mistake.
I didn’t want to hear anymore, but the Knight Commander kept talking…
…About the Crown Prince, who had coordinated information collection and developed a large magic circle… About His Highness…
…About Leonard-san and the Chief Magician, debating the differences in their plan… Or about Michelle rushing in to mediate between them…
…All the materials on dragons the Royal ambassador had sent over to help…
I just wanted a space to think quietly… To answer him theoretically… But the Knight Commander’s words were scattering my resolve more and more.
“And your parents and brother got on their knees, heads on the ground as they begged me to bring you home safely–”
I had no choice but to scream.
My heart was overflowing with muddled emotions.
“If I returned, everyone will suffer!”
I could no longer remain calm.
My eyes were filled with visions of Sara-chan’s emotionless face, Solan-kun’s desperate face, Irene-sama’s resigned face in the past I didn’t choose– As well as the crazy, beastly face of the Knight Commander.
I was relieved not to have chosen that path, but terrified that it could have existed.
“If I’m there… Things will happen.”
I squeezed out the words.
I can’t go back to the me that didn’t know these things.
As the decision-maker, if I chose to go home… The world I returned to would be at a crossroads, and those closest to me would be impacted the most.
What if I went back and make a mistake that would bring them a worse future?
“That’s why… That’s why I can’t go back! The reason why I don’t want to go back! I don’t want to make that choice!”
My words were harsh like blows as I spat them out.
I don’t want to make a mistake.
That’s the issue.
If it’s good for the world, then it’s not a mistake– A voice whispered to me.
If not for that voice, I’d be fine, but now I’m hesitating.
The Knight Commander was dragging me down, making me feel so terribly weak and selfish.
I glared at the Knight Commander angrily as he stared back with his incredible, blue eyes.
“So that’s how it is…” he muttered.
He didn’t accept nor deny my reasoning. I stopped talking and just exhaled.
As I paused, he spoke again…
“I haven’t suffered.”
My heart sank again.