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Chapter 11: On the Boundary Between Humans and Monsters (4)

‘How did things end up like this?’

In the rugged mountain paths, unable to sprint in a straight line like Lien, who was almost like flying, I wander in search of a path to the village, trying to organize my thoughts.

It’s strange. 

No matter how much I think about it, it doesn’t make sense.

Why on earth is the empire attacking now, and what exactly is Lien’s condition? And even...

‘Why is the sky like that?’

A red sky. That irrational scene made me even more perplexed.

In a way, it’s expected. I know the reason.

The identity of that red sky.

It’s a scene that appeared once in a previous work. When the Demon King was about to be born in this world.

It’s a premonition that someone with the right qualities is about to become the Demon King.

But why?

No matter how much I think about it, the only reason that comes to mind is... Lien.

She must have been chosen as the vessel after losing her mind at the sight of the village’s condition.

So, why exactly?

That’s why it’s even more incomprehensible. There was nothing about this in the spoilers. Not a single word about this story was mentioned.

But logically thinking, it’s bizarre that such an important event wasn’t mentioned in the spoilers.

It doesn’t make sense at all.

The contradiction felt like it could drive me crazy at any moment.

‘…Let’s calm down first.’

I take a deep breath and try to compose myself.

Let’s sort out the situation step by step.

If this event wasn’t described in the spoilers, it means it didn’t happen in the original story.

So, what’s the difference between the original and now?

First, it’s Lien’s traits.

The text in those skills, whether it was Enragement or Weakness Insight, made Lien’s condition worse.

As the game became reality, the descriptions written in the traits directly reflected in her personality, leading her to dangerous tendencies like losing her mind to bloodlust.

Probably, that increased Lien’s suitability as a vessel.

Second, it’s me.

The impact I’ve had on this world. I can’t help but think that my involvement with her somehow twisted the future.

If I hadn’t stopped Lien back then, if I hadn’t informed her that the village was under attack...

What could have possibly happened?

Lien would have arrived at the village much later than now.

Engrossed in hunting far away, she would have found only the burned village, left alone as the sole survivor.

What followed would have been predictable.

Even if the villagers had treated her as an ominous child, the affection built up over time meant Lien would have been saddened.

She would have embarked on a journey for revenge, accidentally met the protagonist, become friends, and through the protagonist, completely overcome her trauma to become a reliable companion.

But now, things are different.

Lien arrived at the village too early.

She must have gone berserk upon witnessing the villagers being slaughtered by the empire’s knights.

Moreover, she had the traits and talent to be used as a vessel.

‘…How can there be such an absurd twist of fate?’

A sigh naturally escapes me. The worst outcome created by coincidence upon coincidence.

There should be limits to the butterfly effect. Does it make sense for such minor changes to complicate matters this much?

It feels so unfair, I could die on the spot.

‘…There’s not much time left.’

I once again recall the quest I played in the previous game.

A quest where an orphaned boy, having lost his last family member, his younger sibling, goes mad and transforms into a Demon King.

The solution to that quest is...

To kill the orphan as soon as you meet him.

To cut the throat of the little boy trying to protect his sister with his small body against the protagonist.

If you don’t kill the sister, she will come for revenge later, so you just have to cut the throat of the 5-year-old girl crying over her brother’s body.

But.

‘This isn’t a game.’

Lien isn’t some NPC in a game.

I know what worries Lien, what makes her sad.

I know she’s a good person.

She’s an honest girl to the point of foolishness, unable to hide her feelings, and easy to tease.

“…….”

I can feel a curse penetrating my body. If I had chosen something other than the trait to protect my mind, I would have already gone mad.

As I venture deeper into the heart of the curse, an ominous aura surrounds me.

Yet, I find myself moving forward, continuing to walk.

It’s peculiar.

If killing is abhorrent, fleeing is the logical choice.

If it’s too much to bear to kill the child with my own hands before they’re completely transformed.

At the very least, escaping to preserve one’s life would be the correct action.

And yet, my feet won’t stop. I just keep walking aimlessly.

Voices reach my ears. A man, desperately resisting the curse, warns me that going there will lead to death.

Hearing this, I wonder. 

Why don’t my feet halt?

Why do I continue to press on?

I ponder the reason... and then it hits me.

It’s simple. Ridiculously simple.

“Because I promised.”

I promised that if she ever lost her senses again, I would turn her back into a human.

So, I must go to keep that promise.

*****

In the mountain of corpses.

There are no more living humans left there.

In the end, this was the conclusion she faced. Her father’s prediction had come true.

She should have died.

She should not have harbored hope.

She was not meant to live.

With these thoughts, she points a blade at her own throat, desperately ignoring the ominous whispers in her ear.

And then,

She notices it.

The presence nearby.

A man, bearing the entire curse, approaches her.

She couldn’t help but notice.

This strange man always appears at times like this.

“Don’t come. You shouldn’t come.”

Even as she says this, she knows. This man won’t back down at such words.

He won’t leave her alone.

So,

“Didn’t you hear me? I told you not to come!”

She points the blade at the man’s throat. Blood begins to flow.

With just a slight movement of her hand, the man would lose his life.

Yet, despite it all.

“When you say it with that expression, it’s too obvious you’re lying.”

The man approaches, undeterred by the wound on his neck.

Unconcerned by her blood-stained appearance.

Just like that time, he approaches her with an unfazed expression.

“Kill me…”

The words slip out. Her mind, intoxicated with blood, is too hazy.

The whispers in her ears are too enticing. If she lets go of her sanity, she feels she might succumb to those whispers at any moment.

She might transform into something that isn’t herself.

So, she pleads.

“Please… kill me.”

It must end here.

She must die here.

She should have died long ago.

But why, why on earth.

Why does he keep coming closer to her?

At this rate, she will end up killing him.

She can hardly restrain herself any longer.

‘You’re full of vulnerabilities.’

It would be so easy to kill him.

She doesn’t want that.

She can’t kill him, of all people.

She doesn’t want to kill him.

‘So, stop tormenting me further.’

However, no matter how much she begs, the man does not listen.

She’s terrified.

She sees no future for herself.

Someday, she might completely lose her mind.

Someday, she might transform into something entirely not herself.

In that case, rather than being treated as a monster by those she loves, by him,

It would be better to die now.

Despite clearly knowing her

Yet, despite it all,

The man simply looks at her.

He looks at her with eyes full of trust.

It’s too much. Even cruelty has its limits.

Because when he looks at her with those eyes,

She start to wish she could go back.

She start to wish she could spend more time with him.

Then, she would once again be on the boundary between humans and monsters, forced to suppress her instincts for a lifetime.

Living in constant fear of losing her mind, that would be her life.

And yet,

“Don’t worry. Everything will be alright.”

The boy says this with a smile, spreading his arms with a playful grin.

When he says that, when he makes that expression,

She has no choice but to return.

She has no choice but to embrace him.

While shedding endless tears,

Just feeling his warmth,

She has no choice but to return to being human again.

Knowing it will be a painful path, she has no choice but to choose it.

The world, once stained with blood, regains its original colors.

The night sky shines high above, just as before, more majestic and beautiful than anything else.

But for Lien, such things no longer matter.

It’s only natural.

Because something more beautiful, something more precious,

Was right before her eyes.

There was no way she could care about the night sky anymore.

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