Beware of The Red Thread - Chapter 18
The next morning, I stood outside the village. I was filled with renewed vigor. It was incredibly strange that all of the monsters were seeing off a human and a reaper. Everyone waved at us, some with handkerchiefs in hand. Abel’s image had improved considerably over the last two days. They were even able to shed tears over him, which was honestly kind of creepy. Perhaps sensing my thoughts, Abel looked at me like he was going to slaughter me.
“Lian! Let’s meet again someday!”
Mr. Finn approached us. Abel glared at him, and lowered his voice.
“Don’t talk so seriously.”
“Aha! It was fun, you monsters!” Sleipnir laughed.
Noticing a shy sprout in the crowd, I guided Sleipnir over.
“Oh god.” Sleipnir mumbled, tossing his mane about.
I demounted Sleipnir and walked up to the sprout.
“Verseppo!” I shouted.
I welcomed him with open arms. Abel and I were planning to stop by his house on our way out, but he had already come to the mouth of the forest instead. It was quite unexpected.
“Sorry, did I surprise you?” Verseppo sheepishly apologized to Sleipnir.
Verseppo handed me a hand-made first aid kit.
“I’ve been meaning to give this to you.”
“Thank you. Let me see your hands, please. I’m sorry it took so long.”
Guilt washed over me as I thought about how I couldn’t visit Verseppo thanks to the hotheaded reaper. I went to take his hand, but Verseppo thrust it out before I could, a bright smile on his face.
To my surprise, his hand was completely fine. Surely he would’ve lost some of his vitality thanks to the dark energy? No matter how resilient you are, it’s unreasonable to be healed in a day after absorbing the energy of death. Seeing my bewildered expression, Verseppo offered up an explanation.
“Actually, Abel came by that evening and restored my vitality.”
Doubting the words spoken to me, I turned to Abel. He was resting against Sleipnir, holding his scythe in one hand.
“He came to me with a scary expression, and his voice was timid, but he also sincerely apologized. I don’t think he’s that bad of a guy.”
Is that why Abel left that night? To apologize?
Abel looked different to me. My heart started pounding.
Are you finally becoming more human?
In the original story, he was a violent man with the personality of a yandere. Was he perhaps becoming more considerate of others now?
“That’s great, Verseppo!” I clasped his hands.
“Ah, L-Lian!” he reacted in surprise.
Letting go, I returned to Sleipnir, a feeling of satisfaction coming over me.
“Lian, are you planning to return?”
It’s said that spirits have a good sixth sense. Verseppo pulled out a piece of green, bridge-like hair from his head, and handed it to me. Upon me accepting the gift, his hair turned into long, needle-like seeds.
“If you’re ever feeling bored, planting this seed might help alleviate it.”
I think this seed turns into a bean tree. I tried to lean down and hug Verseppo, but I stopped after feeling an intense gaze bore into my back. For a short moment, I had forgotten that Abel was still there. I instead opted to shake his hand, saying goodbye to the first spirit I made friends with.
“Goodbye, Lian! Take care of yourself! Farewell to the reaper as well!”
What’s the use of replying if only I could hear it?
Departing, I waved at Verseppo until he was no longer in sight.
“Apologizing to Verseppo was really kind of you. Great job, Abel!”
“What are you doing?!” Abel spoke up, startled by the feeling of me petting the back of his head.
Yes, good job. Very good job.
Abel was actually pretty simple, so I figured using the carrot and stick method would be the best way to train him. He truly liked to be praised. I continued to shower him with compliments. As I thought, despite his shyness he really does- this jerk! I furrowed my brows.
“Are you cursing me?”
Forget about the carrot and stick. I decided to just give up on it. Regardless, I thought it was nice to see Abel changing ever so slightly.
“Hello! How are you?”
Ten days had passed since we left Lemda Village. I would gather information at any villages we passed through, providing treatment whenever necessary. They would let us spend the night in turn.
While mingling with the other healing priests, I would inquire about Assand and the Saintess, but they never had any information for me. You’d think with such incredible abilities, rumours about them would spread through the country like wildfire. Like mine were. My ability was imperfect. If mine were that of Saintess Lucia’s, I could surely make all of Valhalla rumble. Just like she did in the book.
“Ah, I heard a rumour about a human priest in the Temple of Lemda, you left quite the impression. Ah, who’s the person next to you?”
“I am the God of Death.”
“A colleague! He’s my colleague! Alright, where are you hurt?” I butted in.
How many times have I told you to not refer to yourself as the God of Death? Maybe I should get you to leave.
Giggling to myself, I layed out my hands, acting like I was about to start healing. Abel furrowed his brow. Unhappy about me healing someone else, he took his leave from the temple.
What’s wrong with him now? He’s been acting like this ever since we left Lemda Village.
He wasn’t getting into any trouble, but emotionally speaking I was starting to get concerned.
Even if I wanted to seriously ask him, we were always on the move; going from village to village, gathering information, eating with the other priests, and resting. There hadn’t been a good opportunity to talk to him yet.
The Canary priest spoke up anxiously.
“He’s just been in a bad mood lately. Don’t mind him.”
I smiled awkwardly and turned my attention back to healing a dinosaur-like lizard monster. My arm started throbbing in response, so I bit my lip. Pain was familiar, but it started to feel like it was hurting more than normal lately.
Drinking the herbal tea that Verseppo gave me eased the pain, but I couldn’t consume too much of it, lest I built up a tolerance. Anxiety filled my mind as I left the temple.
The sun was particularly hot today. Nobody looked at me strangely as I rested against the temple wall. To monsters, humans didn’t even exist. Abel’s energy also masked my scent.
As we get closer to the field of light where Luce was, there would be more human looking monsters. Mammalian monsters often had more familiar features, or even attractive appearances. They were quite a rare sight in Lemda, but they always appeared in large groups. Every once in a while, I would also spot a fairy. Drops would fall from their wings like dandruff. They were often arrogant and sulky, not liking to converse with others very much.
They were like delinquents, always ignoring others and just passing by. Despite the often glamorous appearances, monsters outside Lemda village weren’t nearly as welcoming.
I never thought I’d miss the warmth of monsters. Maybe it stems from living in a rural village.
Feeling tired, I headed towards where Sleipnir was resting in the forest.
We arrived at the next village early in the morning, but we didn’t end up walking around until around midday. Because of that, night came quickly, forcing us to camp out as we wouldn’t make it to the next village.
“Don’t worry so much! There’ll be fewer evil monsters as we get closer to the Land of Light. You don’t have to be scared since I’ll be on guard!”
Sleipnir radiated positivity. He used his hoof to make a spot for a bonfire. We lit a small fire, mostly for my comfort and peace of mind. Monsters like Abel and Sleipnir didn’t need to keep warm. Every time we stopped at a village, I ordered sugar cubes for me and Sleipnir. I was starting to worry about whether I was going to get diabetes. Sleipnir whinnied excitedly as he entered the forest to look for firewood.
For the first time in ten days, Abel and I were alone. Typically, Abel would bring up the day’s events. Instead, he leaned against a tree and closed his eyes.
I looked at the bonfire, it softly crackled. I guess I should think things over.
The information I gathered today left me with a feeling of anguish. Everything had gone differently than expected. The female lead wasn’t supposed to appear so soon. Assand was also still sealed. Everything still seemed so far away.
I took out a piece of parchment paper and quill, and began drawing stars. It served no purpose other than to calm me down.
Oh Lady Lucia. I need you, my hero! My savior!
Currently, my plans looked like this:
- After the female lead falls here, I would approach her and try to appeal to her as an outsider.
- Be friendly to her, sharing any information.
- Explain my situation, asking her to make Abel truly immortal.
- Obtain my freedom!
I pulled out the box with Abels heart from the bag Arachne gave me. Looking at the sleek and shiny box reminded me of the events from a few days ago. I tried asking Abel to take his heart back.
“Holding onto your heart makes me nervous. Can’t you just keep it?”
“Why?” he inquired.
“I’m lazy. I might accidentally lose it. You’re also far stronger than I am, so you’d be able to protect it better. Aren’t you anxious about entrusting it to me?”
“What difference is there between this and those who do have hearts still?”
Is that how he sees things?
“Well, if your heart is on the outside, but you still hold onto it…” I couldn’t quite get my logic straight. I ended up putting the heart box back in my bag.
I couldn’t negotiate with Abel that day. Feeling upset, I opened the box. The heart was still beating, pounding loudly.
Should I touch it…?
I hesitantly closed the lid.
I didn’t want to experience any intense pain. I preferred when the pain was simple and bearable. I would also experience many aftereffects. I’d suffer bruises, muscle pain, and high fevers. They felt like the real deal and would often leave me in copious amounts of pain.
I’d try to struggle through it, but each time would result in me losing consciousness.
“I don’t need any help! There’s no need to do anything, so leave me alone!”
Abel’s rage would boil over every time, making it feel like we were walking on a Mobious strip. We truly needed Saintess Lucia’s help.
Oh my lord, my savior!
I clasped my hands together and called out to her.
Abel suddenly spoke up.
Abel kicked a branch into the fire. Despite not needing the warmth himself, he still took care of it for me.
“I’ve been thinking about it.”
“Huh?” I replied.
“About being immortal. Do you remember how I said I had to tear the thread of fate from my heart?”
“Yeah.” I replied, sarcastically. I put the box away and pulled out a book I borrowed from the temple. I wondered if I’d be able to return it. It was about both the legend of Solar and curses.
“I don’t think there’s any need to fix it.”
What is he trying to say?
Once more, I doubted my hearing.
You’ve been going through so much. I’m trying to help you attain immortality.
I replied to him seriously.
“What are you talking about? I need to fix it.”
“It doesn’t have to be me. I’ll find someone to fix it, don’t worry about it.”
Abel went silent. I returned back to the book. The silence was deafening.
“What makes you so sure?”
Looking back up at him, I could see fire raging in his eyes once more. I shivered. I didn’t want him to blow his top, so I quickly gave him an excuse.
“Intuition! Yes, intuition. It’s the intuition I’ve gained from being able to see the thread of fate. Something like that. Anyways, please trust me.”
“Damn it! You’re always like this! What the hell are you looking at?”
I flinched. I had been subconsciously looking at the red thread again. Even though he couldn’t see it himself, he was still sensitive about it, and seemed to know when I was looking at it.
“I’m trying to fix it.”
“It’s not just your gaze!”
Abel exploded at me. The trees screamed in fear at the energy the reaper was giving off. It felt like I was struck by a typhoon.
“You never look at me properly. Do you think I didn’t notice?”
Abel pushed me for answers. He was exuding pressure.
“You always seem to be looking at someone else whenever you look at me. Who is it that you’re really seeing?”
“Who the hell is it that you’re looking at?”
His deathly aura was causing the trees around us to shrivel up and die. Even though I knew it couldn’t harm me, I was still terrified. I was unable to even begin to fathom the depths of his rage. My mouth was dry, and I tried to swallow. My voice came out hoarse.
“Please wait a minute and calm down, Abel.”
“I’ve been enduring for as long as I could around all of those monsters. I stayed quiet in town, trying not to cause trouble for you. How much more must I withstand?”
What have you been going through?
I was starting to get a headache. Abel grabbed my cheeks and clenched his teeth.
“Human. You’re the only one who’s been able to test my patience this much.”
Abel brought up a word he had never said before. I was completely shocked. I thought Abel was starting to change. I thought he was starting to calm down some.
Noticing my expression, Abel raised the corner of his lips. The way his red lips rose up his pale cheeks was simultaneously eerie and beautiful. Abel stroked my chin with his hand. He pressed his mouth up against my ear. My ears felt wet. The overwhelming aura of the reaper made my body tense up. There was no escape.
“Stop testing me. You’re not looking at me, so how can I endure any more? Don’t you feel the same way I do?”
Is it finally time for me to admit it?
Something inside me sank. My eyes widened and I was speechless. Abel grabbed my chin with his hand. My heart started to race, but I couldn’t tell if it was due to fear or embarrassment. Abel turned his head in front of me. His face was full of arrogance.
I had recently photographed Abel. He was incredibly handsome, his face full of finely chiseled features. I started panting, though I again wasn’t sure if it was in fear or due to his beauty. I dared not touch him.
Yes. That’s right. He’s not even mine in the first place.
Only the female lead could break Abel’s curse. I couldn’t fix Abel with my skill, which was incomplete when compared to the skill of the Saintess.
Whether he liked it or not, Abel needed to meet and win the favor of the female lead.
What if I were to accept Abel now, though?
I thought about how the original plot would become twisted if I intervened. If things were to continue on, Abel would die at the hands of the male lead, Assand, just like in the original story. I was afraid of that happening. I was afraid of something irreversible happening. It felt like all of the efforts I made in the past were going to be in vain.
“You seem to be mistaken because of that kiss the other day.”
I took a step back. I couldn’t stand the idea of what would come.
“That was just to help treat you.”
“You still think that?” Abel replied.
Do what you will.
Abel’s eyes changed. He grabbed me roughly, and tried to kiss me.
“Hey. That’s enough of this lover’s quarrel.”
“What the hell?” Abel paused, cursing.
When I looked up, I saw a bizarre monster standing in the dark wood. Next to the monster was a man in a dapper suit.
“You would dare intervene? Do you want me to kill you?”
Abel wrinkled his brow in rage. I looked at the two in shock. Standing before us were none other than the two villains Asura and Caesar of the Apocalypse.
Caesar spoke up once more.
“My apologies, demigod. We have personal business with that person there.”