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Published at 23rd of May 2023 06:48:10 AM


Chapter 694

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Chapter 694


 

How long had it been since she slept in a bed?

 

How long had it been since she fell asleep without worry of ambush, completely relaxed?

 

When Ellen woke up, she was startled by the sensation of the pillow touching her face and sat up.

 

Her instincts, honed by her lifestyle thus far, made her fear comfort.

 

-Chirp!

 

The sound of birds from the jungle beyond the window and the distant sound of waves told her that yesterday's events were not just a dream.

 

"Ah…"

 

Everything had felt surreal since yesterday.

 

From the reunion with the black cat to this very morning, every moment felt like a strange lie.

 

Perhaps it was a dream she had after falling asleep from exhaustion in front of the campfire.

 

Or maybe it was a vision right before death due to her body's limits.

 

But no matter how hard she tried to come to her senses, she could only accept it as reality.

 

Usually, she would have been busy packing her things and setting off as soon as she woke up.

 

Walking, sometimes running.

 

Killing monsters.

 

Chewing on tree roots.

 

Sleeping rough, hardly even lying down.

 

Waking up on a soft, fluffy bed after spending such monotonous days felt incredibly unfamiliar.

 

Unfamiliar, but...

 

"Uh..."

 

Ellen rolled around in her pajamas, hugging her blanket for quite a while.

 

She felt foolish, but she just couldn't bring herself to get up.

 

------

 

Ellen took a shower, feeling grateful for the availability of water wherever and whenever.

 

After changing into a prepared white cotton dress, she sat blankly for a moment.

 

-Gurgle

 

She was hungry.

 

She was always hungry.

 

To be honest, even what she had eaten yesterday hadn't satisfied her completely.

 

The hunger carved into her bones over the years seemed like it would never be filled, no matter how much she ate.

 

Ellen headed to the kitchen.

 

Not only were there plenty of ingredients in the food storeroom, but the kitchen was also fully equipped with all necessary systems and cooking tools.

 

It had been difficult to afford the luxury of cooking food in the field.

 

But she had learned a lot from watching Reinhardt during her time in the temple.

 

Once you know the basics, applying them isn't hard.

 

As long as she had the ingredients, she could cook anytime.

 

For the first time in a long while, Ellen picked up a kitchen knife instead of a combat knife and began to cook.

 

Not that she made anything particularly amazing.

 

She had intended to make the meat stew she used to love.

 

It wasn't anything extraordinary, but she planned to make a lot of it.

 

She wanted to relieve the pent-up frustration from the enforced fasting she had endured.

 

So, she made an enormous amount.

 

She made so much that she couldn't possibly finish it all, thinking she'd indulge herself.

 

With that thought, Ellen took out a huge pot from the kitchen and began to prepare the stew.

 

It didn't need to be well made.

 

With her dulled taste buds, anything she ate tasted exquisite. The aroma and flavor of the lobster she had eaten yesterday still seemed to linger on the tip of her tongue.

 

And so.

 

Ellen began to eat almost an entire pot's worth of meat stew.

 

No one was around to judge her for eating so much, as she might have yesterday.

 

How long had it been since she lost her self-control like this?

 

She ate for almost two hours.

 

Her mind was so focused on eating that she didn't notice anything else until suddenly.

 

-Thud

 

"!!!!"

 

The mansion's door abruptly opened, and Reinhardt entered.

 

Unfortunately, from the door, Reinhardt could see straight into the kitchen.

 

He saw Ellen, without properly setting the table, scooping up the stew straight from the pot beside the table.

 

It was then that Ellen noticed the splattered stew on her white dress, making it slightly dirty.

 

Reinhardt saw her as well.

 

"..."

 

"..."

 

A brief silence passed between them.

 

Ellen then realized that Reinhardt was not empty-handed.

 

It seemed like he had brought something similar to a tray.

 

Judging by its size, it was clear that he had prepared a significant amount, considering how much Ellen would eat.

 

Undoubtedly, Reinhardt had brought her something to eat.

 

However, she couldn't wait and had been scooping up stew from the pot.

 

If she had only been patient, he would have served her a proper meal, but she was hungrily eating away.

 

"Ah..."

 

Reinhardt sighed.

 

It was not a sigh of contempt, but rather one of sympathy.

 

How hungry must she have been?

 

It was undoubtedly a sigh of sorrow.

 

That sigh pierced her heart deeply.

 

"..."

 

She had thought that when they met, she would cry.

 

Because Reinhardt would be afraid.

 

Because he would feel sorry.

 

So, it seemed like she would cry.

 

However, she wondered why she kept feeling embarrassed, and why crying was the only reaction she could muster.

 

Ellen cried again.

 

------

 

Various foods of different dimensions were placed before her.

 

Reinhardt laid out a plethora of food in front of Ellen, who sat with the expression of someone who had been caught rummaging through the kitchen on the first night of their diet.

 

"...I guess I was a bit harsh yesterday."

 

"Huh? What?"

 

Out of nowhere, she didn't understand what he was talking about.

 

"I told you to wash, not to scrub your skin off."

 

"Ah, right......"

 

In fact, Ellen's fair skin was still reddened from scrubbing too hard the day before.

 

The visible parts looked like this, but the hidden parts were probably even worse.

 

Despite feeling like she could collapse from exhaustion, she had meticulously cleaned every part of her body, even her nails.

 

It wasn't as if she was preparing for something in particular.

 

But somehow, it felt like she was getting ready.

 

She found herself ridiculous and unbelievable, yet she had done so.

 

Ellen, unable to respond, lowered her head as her face turned red for a different reason.

 

Imagining the sobbing Ellen scrubbing herself after hearing that she looked like a stray dog from a slum, Reinhardt offered a subtle smile.

 

"How about it, do you want some noodles?"

 

"Uh... uh... uh..."

 

"Sorry, no, hey, I won't do it. Hey, I won't do it. I said I won't!"

 

"..."

 

Seeing Ellen on the verge of breaking down in sorrow again, Reinhardt vigorously shook his head.

 

What he really wanted to talk about was not that.

 

But he kept teasing her with completely irrelevant things.

 

His words were so light and trivial, only talking about insignificant matters.

 

He was clearly doing it on purpose.

 

Right now, she wasn't angry at his words.

 

She was so happy, yet so sorry and guilty.

 

It felt as if everything could go back to the way it was before.

 

It seemed as if she only needed to accept it.

 

But she just couldn't.

 

All she felt was sadness and guilt.

 

As if understanding her feelings just from her expression, Reinhardt eventually got up from his seat with a bitter smile.

 

"Eat up, I'll be going."

 

"..."

 

Reinhardt, once again showing consideration to not make Ellen miserable, left the mansion.

 

She couldn't not eat.

 

Ellen ate the prepared meal.

 

Every last bite.

 

Of course, regardless of her feelings, it was delicious.

 

------

 

Such days continued.

 

Reinhardt didn't come every day. He would skip a day, and he wasn't always there.

 

There were many times when he would just show his face and leave.

 

He never really spoke.

 

He didn't get closer than necessary.

 

He simply kept a little distance.

 

It was Ellen who became impatient.

 

She wished he would say something.

 

Would he keep her imprisoned like this forever? Would her acceptance of this life be enough?

 

But she couldn't bring herself to ask.

 

Guilt took precedence over her questions.

 

It was unbearable to keep her mouth shut and meet his gaze, let alone ask anything.

 

She managed to sleep and eat well only for a few days.

 

She stayed awake through the nights.

 

This couldn't be the way to live.

 

She shouldn't be like this.

 

Even a little bit.

 

To atone for her sins, to repay even a little of what she had done in the world.

 

She shouldn't be standing still here.

 

Such obsession began to surge.

 

Days were spent in self-reproach and agony.

 

She thought she would settle into it, but she didn't.

 

The self-reproach only grew stronger.

 

The more comfortable she was.

 

The more peaceful.

 

The more painful it became.

 

Her body felt better, but her mind seemed to wear away even more.

 

After about half a month.

 

Time passed as Ellen grew impatient and anxious.

 

Naturally, her mental problems were secondary, and it was enough time to wash away years of accumulated fatigue.

 

Her innate resilience and stamina were excellent.

 

Regardless of everything, she ate well and slept well.

 

During those days, on a still sunny day.

 

"Come out."

 

Reinhardt called Ellen outside.

 

------

 

Wearing a white dress, Ellen put on sandals and followed Reinhardt to the beach.

 

"By now, you should have returned to your original condition, right?"

 

"Huh? Ah... Yes. Uhm..."

 

"Then, let's really give it a try."

 

Swoosh

 

In Reinhardt's right hand, a sword appeared instead of a tree branch.

 

Ellen's eyes widened.

 

The sword of the war god.

 

Alsbringer.

 

It was in Reinhardt's hand.

 

"Do you think I've been feeding and resting you all this time just to raise a useless pig that won't gain weight no matter how much it eats?"

 

At those harsh words, Ellen nodded her head with a desolate expression.

 

"... I guess not."

 

Leaving her alone without saying much up until now was ultimately an extension of the first day.

 

He had left her alone until she recovered her original condition, both mentally and physically, after pushing her to her limits.

 

Half a month.

 

There were days spent with mixed emotions, but it was ultimately enough recovery time for Ellen to be in her best condition.

 

"Lament, do you have it?"

 

Do you have it?

 

Why would he ask that?

 

Had it disappeared?

 

At Reinhardt's strange question, Ellen quietly nodded her head.

 

"Then take it out."

 

As if he wouldn't permit something like a tree branch again, Reinhardt coldly spoke.

 

What would happen if she said no?

 

Hesitating, Ellen cautiously spoke while clutching the hem of her dress as if to protest.

 

"I... am wearing... a skirt..."

 

"So what?"

 

"..."

 

Ellen had no choice but to feel embarrassed in front of Reinhardt, who spoke as if her clothing choice was none of his concern.

 

"I already have five wives, do you think I care about your underwear?"

 

"..."

 

"Shut up and draw your Lament."

 

At his harsh, almost sad words, Ellen quietly held her breath.

 

That's right.

 

She had no right to argue.

 

Though she couldn't do everything, she had to do as much as she could.

 

On the first day, it was hard to bear emotionally, mentally, and physically.

 

And so, she was beaten until she fainted, quite literally.

 

Her sword wavered, and so did her heart.

 

But now, half a month had passed.

 

It was still difficult, but she had grown a little used to seeing Reinhardt's face after five years.

 

Her condition had improved.

 

She felt so refreshed, as if the dirt and grime from her body and mind had been stripped away after a long rest.

 

She couldn't remember the last time she had been in such a perfect state.

 

She had rested well.

 

She had rested long.

 

She had eaten well.

 

The lack of conversation was not because of his worry for Ellen or having nothing to say.

 

It was merely his intention not to speak until Ellen had fully recovered.

 

Ellen still didn't know what to do. Whether she deserved forgiveness or if she deserved this kind of life.

 

This didn't seem right, but there were still things she could do.

 

Reinhardt wanted to confirm something, and Ellen had now become as prepared as Reinhardt had wished.

 

Then, she just had to show him.

 

What Reinhardt wanted to confirm.

 

That was obvious, wasn't it?

 

Her confusion and hesitation finally began to subside a little.

 

As her fear, sorrow, and guilt from being trapped on a deserted island subsided, Ellen's expression finally calmed.

 

Ellen carefully removed her sandals.

 

She neatly placed her sandals next to her and stepped onto the white sandy beach with her bare feet.

 

Reinhardt silently watched Ellen.

 

After a moment of deep breathing, Ellen looked at Reinhardt.

 

A calm expression.

 

A serene gaze.

 

She returned to the same expression and gaze she had always shown when facing Reinhardt.

 

"Do you really want to defeat me?"

 

At Ellen's question, Reinhardt nodded.

 

"Isn't that obvious?"

 

On the first day, Ellen had been too weak to be worth fighting.

 

Reinhardt wanted to check.

 

How strong had she become?

 

Comparing him to Ellen, how would it be now?

 

He intended to prove it by fighting Ellen in her prime condition.

 

Did he surpass his teacher?

 

If so, she would oblige.

 

Ellen gave a faint smile.

 

There was anger, resentment, and rage.

 

But he had waited, without showing any emotion, until he was at her full strength because he planned to face her with all her might.

 

So, putting the next matter aside for now.

 

She just needed to give it her all.

 

-Swish

 

In Ellen's right hand, the Moon's Sword, Lament, appeared.

 

Ellen couldn't help but notice the change in her divine weapon.

 

At some point, the Void Sword Lament, which had always been pitch-black as if reflecting the night sky, had returned to a cold silver blade.

 

"Ah..."

 

The Void Sword was no longer a Void Sword.

 

Ellen knew that Lament reacted to sorrow.

 

Just by being in the same place as Reinhardt, Lament lost its form as a void sword.

 

Sorrow disappeared all too easily.

 

It disappeared just by being together.

 

Am I no longer sad now?

 

"How about that? Your divine weapon seems to be in poor shape," Reinhardt sneered as if he knew it too.

 

"And what about Lapelt?"

 

Reinhardt asked about her not summoning the Sun Cloak.

 

Ellen smiled brightly.

 

At her best.

 

"...Is it really necessary?"

 

And then she provoked him.

 

"How embarrassing would it be to summon it later?"

 

"That's something for later."

 

Reinhardt aimed Alsbringer and slowly measured the distance between him and Ellen.

 

There had always been days like this.

 

It had always been a series of such days.

 

She couldn't know if it was okay.

 

For now, she had decided to give it her all, so she wouldn't wait for him to come.

 

So, she went first.

 

Swish!

 

With the skirt of her dress flapping roughly, Ellen's eyes widened as she thrust Lament towards Reinhardt's chest.

 

Seeing the sharp gaze and the sword's trajectory, Reinhardt smiled.

 

It was a smile and gaze that seemed to say he wanted this.

 

Clang!

 

As Lament and Alsbringer collided, a storm of magical power erupted, and the sand of the white beach was scattered roughly.

 

From bottom to top.

 

"I don't know about other things..."

 

Ellen pushed up her sword and looked up at Reinhardt with a cold gaze.

 

"You've gotten quite arrogant, Reinhardt."

 

Ellen Artorius.

 

The hero, who was already known to the world as dead, pushed aside the demon king's sword and murmured coldly.

 

I wronged you.

 

I betrayed you.

 

I ran away from you.

 

But your victory over me is an entirely unrelated issue.

 

You wanted the best of me, so I'll show you the best of me.

 

No, it's still okay to give in a little.

 

Ellen Artorius said with just a glance.

 

As he pressed down on the sword with force from below, the demon king spoke.

 

"Isn't this much acceptable?"

 

Reinhardt pushed back Ellen's sword and grinned maliciously.

 

Rumble!

 

The storm of magical power exploded, and the two were thrown back as violently as they had clashed.

 

Both of them landed properly on the white beach without rolling around.

 

Clutching Lament, Ellen charged fiercely.

 

Reinhardt also charged in the same manner.

 

The skirt of the hero's white dress and the demon king's shirt fluttered violently in the wind.





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