Translator and editor: SaltyTank
After Hilde left the base, everyone was tense. Not that they were worried about her safety though, but instead what kind of information she might bring back after scouting out the place. It would greatly affect their tactics in the future.
Still, idling in the base wouldn’t help, so Andre picked up his sword and was about to head over to the workshop.
‘Not going to take a rest?’ Prommel asked him. ‘You should probably calm down a bit first.’
‘Letting out some sweat will do the job…’
‘Let me remind you of this. Your injuries are getting more severe every time, and one day, even my magic won’t save you.’
Andre stayed silent.
‘Hoho, it’s fine, I know it’s not something you want to hear.’
‘I’m sorry, thanks.’
Knowing that everyone had different standpoints, Andre understood where Prommel was coming from, thus he didn’t find him annoying.
Alone, Andre came to the round training ground and stopped in the centre. Lifting up the longsword with his right arm, he closed his eyes and went into a trance.
Three silhouettes gradually formed in his mind; it was the situation where he had been surrounded by the gods outside the village yesterday. He followed the movements in his memories and charged at the enemy while swinging his weapon. Everything was fine so far, but after trading a few blows, he paused the ongoing battle simulation in his mind.
It was where things had gone awry.
His slash was too straightforward and lacking, causing him to miss the chance to injure the enemy and also giving the other two gods a moment to readjust themselves. After another twenty or so exchanges, the enemies further increased their advantage and forced him to follow their rhythm, which ultimately ended up with him being stuck in the middle of three gods.
Rewinding his memory, Andre was now back at the turning point in the fight. This time, he struck with a more powerful and clean attack despite exposing himself to even greater danger; it was a high risk, high reward attack.
He added a bit of swerve in his attack and dodged the incoming claws. Then, he imagined about the damage this attack could deal to the god, what the other two gods would do, and finally how he would respond. It was a whole new fight from this point on.
The ongoing battle simulation was getting more and more intense. His body moved along with what he was doing in his mind. Although his footwork and sword strikes were slow and casual, they were really just natural movements to aid the simulation instead of actual combat manoeuvres. Even so, it was enough to drench him in sweat.
Andre’s mind was going faster than his body could follow. The minor movements of his muscles at quick speeds was almost comparable to a strenuous workout. His breath and stamina were decreasing along with the simulation, and his body was now steaming hot.
He had already defeated two of the gods. Without injuring his arm and having Jade rescue him, he had broken through the deadlock by himself.
One violent slash marked the end of the fight. Andre lowered his weapon as he gasped for air. It was then he noticed that Jade was there, unsure when she came to the training room.
‘Is there anything?’
‘You looked like you were training very seriously… Actually, I called you just now, but…’
‘Is that so? I’m sorry…’
Seeing what Jade was holding, Andre sheathed his sword and went to her. She offered him the tray in her hands.
‘Big sis Geraldine asked me to bring some food over, she said you haven’t eaten anything after coming back.’
‘Hm? Did you make this?’
The ingredients were similar, but the food didn’t look too similar to what he usually ate.
Jade silently nodded and pushed the tray a bit further forward. Andre picked up a piece and ate it, thinking that the taste wasn’t bad at all; at least it was better than the food Hilde made.
‘Thanks for the hard work. Geraldine shouldn’t work too hard because she’s pregnant, sorry for having you help her out more in the future.’
‘It’s okay, that’s not a problem at all!’
‘Just put the food over there for now, I’ll eat it later.’
Andre was about to pick up his sword and continue with his training, but he saw the troubled look on Jade’s face.
‘Is something wrong?’
‘Um, Geraldine said I shouldn’t leave until you finish the food.’
Andre furrowed her brows and sighed. He sat down on the ground and silently munched down every last bit of food on the tray, then gave it back to Jade.
Jade did not receive the tray from Andre.
With a dubious look, he looked right into Jade’s eyes.
‘I… must apologise.’ Jade said those words with some difficulty. ‘You’re telling me to hide every time, yet I never listened and ended up hindering you. I’m sorry.’
‘It really is rather troubling.’
His response couldn’t be more straightforward; Jade lowered her head upon hearing it. It was then Andre’s words took an unexpected turn.
‘But, I’ve said this before too, it’s not something you need to apologise for. You must have your reasons for doing it, and I’ve sort of over-reacted too, sorry about that.’
‘It’s… it’s fine, I know you mean no harm.’
‘I’m angry at myself, for being so weak. So weak that I can’t kill them all.’
‘But you’re already trying really hard…’
‘Not even close to trying hard enough.’
Andre’s expression took a turn for the worse. He looked rather gloomy with his head hung low. No matter how hard he reflected on his past battles, if he couldn’t make the right choice while fighting, it would all be in vain. He was better than this, he could achieve far more with his abilities.
Jade originally wanted to take the tray and leave before the atmosphere became even more awkward, but Andre spoke before she could leave.
‘We were looking for a new underground village for you, but the situation’s a bit more complicated now. You might have to stay here for a long while.’
‘Um, it’s not a problem at all… Everyone here’s so nice and are taking good care of me. Staying with everyone makes me feel safe too.’
‘Feel safe, is it?’ Andre made a dry chuckle. ‘We’re doing the most dangerous thing in this world though?’
‘You’re not wrong… but I trust everyone!’
Instead, she was met with a forced smile. Jade had been used to seeing the calm and determined Andre, and it felt somewhat odd to see him sulk and radiate negativity.
‘Andre!’ Jade used all the courage within her and leaned forward. ‘Please, please pull yourself together, I’m sure everything will be alright!’
At the spur of the moment, she held onto Andre’s hands.
‘Everyone’s looks were really heavy just now… Even Hilde’s smile seemed really forced. But if it’s Andre, everyone will feel more at ease when you cheer up!’
‘I don’t have such a trait.’
‘Yes, at least I think you do.’ Jade looked at Andre with sincere eyes. ‘For the past few days that I’ve spent beside you and looking at you from behind, I really think you’re incredible. The reason why I can move forward is all because of your courage.’
‘That, is probably your illusion.’ Andre looked away from her gaze. ‘You are the one who made the decision, you are also the one who took the step forward. I’m just a nobody who doesn’t matter in the end.’
‘Why’d you… say such a thing?’
Andre silently pushed her hands away; it turned out that Jade still couldn’t overcome that barrier of his. He was not as approachable as Hilde had said.
‘Think about it, the thoughts you have about me. Is it because I saved your life? Humans can easily misunderstand their own feelings under certain situations.’
Andre stood up and walked towards the centre of the training room, leaving a cold remark as he did, ‘If you’re misunderstanding things, I’d be really troubled.’
After a short silence, Andre could hear some noises; he knew Jade picked up the tray and left. Her footsteps slowly faded away, and he finally sighed and dropped his weapon to the ground along with his body.
The mood for training was completely gone by now.
The floor felt cold, but it was quite suitable for calming himself down.
Still, the words that Jade had said just now were so familiar, far too familiar that it was terrifying. It reminded him of the things that had happened years ago, a story that involved three people.
A story about how he and Marie survived the ordeal of the Tunin city, and how Hilde’s father saved them.
It was the darkest of times of his life, the twisted tale of ‘love’ that haunted him ever since.