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Chapter 41: Forgiveness
The situation quickly turned around once Supple switched sides.
The king and Leila were handily restrained, while all the soldiers there were knocked out.
There were more soldiers and Knights above, but it would take some time before any of them would notice that something was amiss and come down.
Because for them, “it was already over” and “all the intruders have already been caught.”
In times of victory, people often showed openings. People would lose their vigilance once they think they’ve won.
Supple struck during such a moment.
As for Leila… considering her capabilities, it would not be impossible for her to forcefully break her restraints and fight, but there was no sign of her doing so.
Rather, she somehow felt glad that she was in a state where she would be unable to take action.
“Now, please surrender… Your Majesty.”
As Vernell straightforwardly said these words, Aiz’s face turned bitter.
To him, Vernell’s group must seem like mere children who knew nothing.
They were fools who didn’t understand a greater cause or look at the big picture… yet in that moment, he had no way to resist these fools.
He drew a deep breath to shout for his subordinates.
However, this was also anticipated and the earth golem covered his mouth.
As long as the king was in their hands, they had the advantage.
They could demand Elrise’s freedom by using him as a hostage.
…They would probably be charged for treason right after doing so, but that wasn’t what they should be thinking about in this situation.
But things didn’t go as expected. A soldier hurriedly ran underground.
Did they get noticed…? As they were thinking that, Mary and Aina prepared their magic.
But the soldier who came down looked strange.
It was clear that he was anxious and distraught. He didn’t seem to notice the situation down there, all while rushing down and loudly shouting,
“Your Majesty! A messenger arrived from the capital! A huge monster that is suspected to be a Greater Demon is approaching the capital with more demons in tow!”
“What did you say!?”
The soldier’s words caused Aiz to use his hand to pull off the earth golem’s hand and shout.
The only reason he was able to do that was because even Supple was so surprised by this news that his control on his golems was weakened in that moment.
The timing of this Greater Demon invasion heading for the capital… it was the worst scenario that could have possibly happened.
Because all the Guard Knights who were capable of repelling a Greater Demon were gathered at this castle.
…Or to be exact, each of the Guard Knights felt guilty for betraying Elrise and had thought, “At very least I could stay here and protect her” and they all stayed here.
Aiz also didn’t anticipate that there would be a situation that would require any immediate action from the Guard Knights, so he let them do what they liked but, it seemed that this decision was not a good one.
“What is the status of the Knights at the capital!?”
“They are prepared to intercept them, but… considering the large number of enemies, they are asking for reinforcements to be sent ASAP!”
“Why did no one notice it until just now!”
“We, we don’t know… we could only say that the Greater Demon suddenly appeared…”
Aiz’s anxiety was understandable.
Because he had made sure to confirm that there were no strong demons and Greater Demons in the area before he brought the Knights here.
Elrise’s detainment here was only allowed because he came to the decision that there were no longer any enemies which needed to be personally handled by her.
The sudden appearance of a Greater Demon… was such a thing possible?
Weren’t Greater Demons creations of the Witch?
According to Elrise, there was a high chance that the Witch was presently hiding within the academy.
Then why was a Greater Demon born in a place that was far away from the academy? Was Elrise’s conjecture incorrect…? Or perhaps their premise was wrong in the first place?
Aiz was so confused that he didn’t know what was right.
“Hah…Yo, Your Majesty… what’s happening?”
As he was calming down, the soldier finally noticed the strange situation in the room; Supple silently crept behind him and knocked him out with a neck chop.
“What should we do, Vernell…? The nation will get destroyed… in the Capital… papa and mama are there…”
The nation was about to be destroyed.
Mary’s fear made her look toward Vernell for help, but there’s no way he could give an answer to such a plea.
“My mom is also there…”
“My, my onee-sama also stays in the capital… what should we do about this…?”
John and Aina also people in the capital who were precious to them.
They trembled at the thought of this unexpected crisis for the kingdom’s survival, but they didn’t know what they could do.
It had taken the Styil one hour of travel to deliver this news all the way from the capital. Even if they left now, who knew when they would arrive?
It would take several hours to go by carriage, and even if they did make it, what could they do?
If all the Knights in this castle could be sent there instantaneously, they might be able to turn the tide, but there was no one here who could do such a miraculous thing.
Not even the Saints of the past could do such a thing.
“This is not time for us to fight each other! Your Majesty, please release Elrise-sama immediately! If it was her, it might be…!”
If there was a person who would be able to save the capital immediately in this moment, they could only be Saint Elrise, who was presently imprisoned in this castle.
But Aiz weakly shook his head.
“Even if I did free her… do you think she would listen to my request…?”
If it was Elrise, she was indeed capable of doing something about it.
She possessed the power to make such things possible.
But… how could he ask for her help after all this?
After betraying and imprisoning her, then once the situation turned worse, they would free her and ask for help… it was too good to be true.
Was there anyone who would passively nod in agreement in this situation?
There’s no way they would nod their head. There’s no way they would agree with it.
Because for Elrise, Billberry kingdom was the “enemy” and the Knights were all “traitors.”
Why would she need to save such people?
She has neither the obligation nor the duty to help them. Rather, it would be more convenient for her to let such people disappear.
“If it were me, I wouldn’t help… Obviously, because the people that she helped might turn their hands against her and imprison her again after they’re saved. It would be natural to think so… People who turned back on others even once won’t be trusted when they reach out… I’ve already raised my hand against her and betrayed her. Who would listen to such a man’s request?”
In despair, Aiz dropped to his knees as he spoke these words.
There was a miracle that could turn this situation around. The bearer of that miracle was in this castle.
But, he has already betrayed the Saint, and has lost the trust of such a savior.
In the end, whatever great reason he used as justification to enforce the Saint’s imprisonment , like saying it was for World peace as an excuse and justification, this reasoning they had was broken from its very foundation.
The Saint had said: As long the Witch existed, the things that had happened at Rutin Kingdom before will happen again.
Aiz responded to those words,saying “It can still be protected as long as you are here.”
It was not a weird thing to say.
While doing things that broke the trust of the sole person who was capable of protecting them, they used that said person’s power while acting with the premise that they will still be protected.
It was like saying “we’re in danger so please save our lives,” after they kidnapped and imprisoned her. It was totally too self-centered.
In the end, Aiz And Ay Billberry 13th was just a reckless old man .
He was dazzled by the light called “Elrise” and unwittingly ended up walking toward a path that was not properly thought out.
With the conveniently written excuse (weapon) of “protecting the world” in his hand, all the reasons that came out from his mouth were merely excuses.
This was akin to equipping himself with barely functioning armor called “the best course of action,” “logic,” and using “resolve” and other words that sounded noble. He was intoxicated by his reasoning and had cloaked himself in it, but the truth was that these words were actually filth.
Ah, even if I have to be the villain, I, who took action for this world’s sake, am such a great guy — In the end, this was the core of his own helplessly dirty and muddy self-satisfaction.
At this point in time, he finally understood it.
The previous Saint and current Witch, Alexia, and her Knight Diaz were victims of this old man’s injudiciousness.
They desperately fought for the world’s sake.
They bet their lives and lost many comrades along the way, until finally, they defeated the Witch.
There must’ve been a lot of drama and tragedies during that journey.
Then the Saint and Knight who had managed to overcome all those things ended up being betrayed by him, who tried to kill Alexia.
That was why Alexia had despaired of humanity.
Yet, Aiz was doing the same thing once again.
He didn’t learn a thing, nor reflect on anything.
In the end, he was just rotten to the core.
It didn’t matter how this rotten filth tried to decorate himself beautifully with beautiful words; since the core was still filth, nothing would change.
There was no way anyone would consider any request from such a man.
Eterna’s group also understood that and said nothing.
Even so, Vernell thought,
Even so, if it was her—
“At very least, I will listen to it, …King Aiz.”
A kind voice was directed to the frustrated and despondent Aiz.
Everyone raised their faces as if drawn to this voice, and there stood Elrise, who was smiling as if nothing was wrong.
“Elrise-sama…? Why are you here…?”
“…Even if you ask why, I merely heard your voices.”
She answered Vernell’s question simply, after thinking a bit.
For Elrise, it might be the obvious thing to involve herself without needing to be asked.
She crouched down to meet Aiz’s gaze, who was down on his knees.
In doing that, her dress would be dirtied, but there was no sign of her caring about such a thing.
Elrise met the frightened Aiz’s gaze and spoke to him as if to pacify him.
“I have heard it, …King Aiz. The voice you can’t let out, the voice in your heart that seeks help. As for the rest… leave it to me.”
“Yo, you… didn’t you hate me for this!? I betrayed you! I trampled upon your trust and imprisoned you! How could you forgive me?!”
Aiz sounded perplexed.
He betrayed her. He trampled upon her trust.
He was well aware that these actions were not something to be easily forgiven, and he didn’t intend to be forgiven for them.
Yet there was no inkling of resentment or anger in Elrise’s eyes.
Aiz didn’t understand it.
“I don’t hate you for it. That’s why you should stop blaming yourself. If you say you can’t forgive yourself, … then I will forgive you.”
“I, I… I might betray you again, you know!? How could you forgive people who ever betray you!?”
Even after being betrayed, after the Knights who were supposed to protect her rebelled.
She didn’t change.
If she heard anyone’s voice seeking help, she would come to help as usual.
Vernell was reminded of this, and squinted his eyes at this scene, as if he was looking something dazzling.
“If you need forgiveness, I will forgive you as much as you need. Even if you do this thing you call betrayal hundreds or thousands of times… even so, I definitely won’t abandon you for it.”
Elrise smiled as she said it, and reached out with her hand.
“That’s why you, too… should forgive yourself.”
Aiz could no longer hold down his tears.
No matter how many sins he piled up, how many people he betrayed, and how much villainy he perpetuated, he still walked forward in his pledge to save his people.
But that was merely an excuse; he knew he had just kept ignoring his own sins using justifications.
The Saint he had admired like an elder sister left and died, and the Saint he loved like a little sister also ended up dead.
Intending to make it the last chain of this sorrowful cycle, he became a piece of scum and betrayed Alexia. However, it ended as a mere betrayal.
On top of that, he also betrayed the current generation’s Saint, Elrise, and prepared to wallow as an outcast for the rest of his life.
How much that one word saved such a man as him was something only he himself would know.
While his eyes were brimming with tears and he was unable to look forward, he still managed to grab the hand that reached out to him.
No matter how far this man has fallen, he still wouldn’t be abandoned.
While clutching this warm feeling, the old king cried like a child.
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