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Chapter 33: The Empire’s Worst Psychopath (6)

Calm down. It was crucial to take a moment, steady my mind, and assess the situation.

Before me stood Lucy, the empire’s worst psychopath.

That was an undeniable truth. From her blue ponytail to the imperial crest engraved on her sword, everything matched the descriptions I had read in the spoilers.

‘I didn’t mean this when I said I want to meet a main character.’

How unlucky must I be to encounter a villain so unexpectedly here?

However, there was no need to panic.

‘I have the upper hand.’

Siel and Lien were nearby. The amulet was still securely around my neck.

Even if Lucy was a renowned villain, I had reliable allies by my side.

Besides, I had grown stronger myself. The holy sword, though split in two, was still a holy sword.

If she wielded powers associated with demons, I too had a fair chance of winning.

But still, complacency was forbidden.

Just because there was a possibility of victory, I couldn’t afford to let my guard down.

Unlike Asher, Lucy was an unknown entity beyond what the spoilers had revealed.

So, what I needed to do was simple.

Buy time. If I could just stall until the others arrived, victory was assured.

‘It’s important not to be overwhelmed by momentum.’

It was evident. She was a lunatic who gets pleasure from tormenting others.

If underestimated, I would quickly become her prey.

In this situation, there was only one attitude to adopt.

‘Think of myself as the leader of the Black Fangs.’

A commanding tone. A poise that never allowed the opposition to dominate.

I needed to maintain enough authority to not be overwhelmed by this girl.

After all, all the mischief had been attributed to the Black Fangs.

Like it or not, I had no choice but to play the role of the Black Fangs’ leader.

I was standing here, pretending to be the leader of the Black Fangs.

“Who are you?”

I asked the girl in a firm voice. Brazenly feigning terror, she trembled and replied,

“That’s my line! What on earth are you? Some kind of monstrous freak?”

For a moment, her words nearly shook my composure.

There’s a limit to nonsense.

A monster? Me?

I, who have only killed a dark mage who sacrificed thousands of innocent lives? Am I the monster?

There’s a limit to absurdity. I’ve only ever saved people, never once committed a misdeed.

And now, the empire’s worst psychopath is criticizing me.

“How offensive. You have no right to call me a monster.”

“…What are you even talking about?”

“Do you think I’m unaware of the atrocities you’ve committed?”

I said this, glaring at the girl.

Even setting aside her reputation as a psychopathic killer, she was, after all, a knight of the empire.

A knight of the empire who did not hesitate to engage in horrific massacres like the recent black market terrorism.

The malevolence of their actions was clearly evident from this terrorist act alone.

“I know the ugly truth behind you and your kind.”

This was no lie. Probably, I knew more about the empire than anyone else in this world.

I still can’t forget the ending of the Empire Revolution route.

The betrayal by a trusted ally,

The revolution that ended in failure.

No matter the atrocities committed, the imperial family tenaciously maintained their grip on power.

They would stop at nothing to secure their safety.

And a knight is merely the empire’s dog.

Dogs bound to obey the empire.

Serving as the hands and feet of the royal family, carrying out all their vile and dirty work—that’s what a knight is.

Just because they are leashed with a self-destructive engraving doesn’t justify their actions.

Only someone utterly naïve about the world wouldn’t know the true nature of the imperial knights.

They all chose that path knowing full well.

Choosing to obey an empire that doesn’t regard people as human, they consciously decided to submit to those who treat humans like garbage.

This girl was probably no different.

But…

“What… What are you talking about?”

The blue-haired girl asked.

Why, though?

Such words. Surely this must be an act. Yet strangely, her expression didn’t seem false.

A bizarre intuition.

Considering the state of my intuition these days… I definitely should ignore it.

I know I should ignore it, but…

Something nagged at me.

‘…What if this isn’t an act?’

That thought flashed through my mind. After all, I didn’t sense any murderous intent or ominous aura from this girl.

Even if I inadvertently showed a weakness, there was no sign that she noticed. For a murderer, she seemed too inept.

Moreover, that reaction. It sounded unmistakably like that of a truly innocent person.

So, what if... it’s a big if, but what if this isn’t an act?

‘It’s definitely possible.’

She still looked quite young. If she was a novice knight who had recently joined the order, she might not yet know about their reprehensible behavior.

It’s rare, but there have been cases of young nobles, orphaned and naive about the world, joining the imperial knights. One of the main characters from a previous series was exactly like that.

It had become almost a tradition in the series to introduce a similar character in this installment.

‘Moreover, if I consider that she’s supposed to be a villain, it makes even more sense.’

The most pure and kind-hearted colleague from the previous series, who was very popular.

Introducing a character clearly inspired by that person would naturally put the players at ease.

Ah, this one can be trusted, they would think.

But what if she experiences something that corrupts her and she turns completely villainous?

What if she even becomes an antagonist to the protagonist?

Deceiving the players like that would be just the kind of twist the developers of Blood and Bone would love.

Even in the previous work, the villains all had their stories.

Three out of ten were driven to darkness by unfortunate circumstances.

The possibility that this girl was a yet-to-be-corrupted villain was substantial.

‘...Of course, I can’t dismiss the opposite possibility either.’

This is, after all, just my optimistic speculation. A guess based purely on intuition.

Maybe, this girl is a psychopath with incredible acting skills.

Or perhaps she has a split personality, where one is innocent and kind, but the other is wicked.

Isn’t it common for psychopath characters to have a dual personality?

…In the end, no matter how much I think about it, this problem seems unresolved.

“Do you really not know?”

I asked the blue-haired girl.

But no answer came back. She just looked baffled, her expression puzzled.

I couldn’t figure out what to do.

Just the shock of facing a villain unexpectedly was overwhelming, let alone swiftly figuring out her circumstances or the right strategy.

Especially in this situation.

Whether Lucy was truly evil or if there was hope for redemption, I knew nothing about this girl.

“So that’s it then... In that case…”

Ultimately, there’s only one course of action to take in such a situation.

Postpone.

Issues like the girl’s potential for reform or strategies must be considered slowly, over time.

For now, the priority must be to withdraw.

I sent a quick message to Siel using a communication spell.

To envelop me in shadows and cast an invisibility spell.

Though we can’t use teleportation magic, mimicking it is simple enough.

After obscuring the view with shadows and while the invisibility spell is active, all I need to do is dash away on two legs.

Indeed, anyone would think I teleported if they saw someone swallowed by dark shadows and then vanish from sight.

I erased my presence and set up the spell, placing a tracking spell on her back.

Now I can contact her anytime.

To reform her, or to deal with her. Such a significant decision should be made after ample deliberation and investigation.

Once that’s decided, there’s only one thing left for me to do.

I resumed acting. It wasn’t difficult.

Just spout some impressive-sounding nonsense like the real leader of the Black Fangs, and it’s done.

*****

“There’s nothing more to discuss with you.”

In front of Lucy, a mysterious man wrapped in a black hood spoke thus.

Lucy was utterly baffled by the situation.

Why would such a monstrous figure be here, what was he intending to do, what was he thinking?

Suddenly, their eyes met through the mask.

Blue eyes. In them, Lucy sensed something untouchable.

She felt the presence of something far greater than this world.

Her body involuntarily shivered. She no longer had the energy to ask any questions.

Breathing itself became a struggle.

“Whether you truly know nothing, or you’re just pretending, that has nothing to do with us.”

With those words, two figures wrapped in black hoods appeared from somewhere.

Humans, if they could still be called that, emitting a terribly ominous and dreadful aura.

If the aura around the man felt both sacred and ominous,

These beings were walking disasters. Entities meant to spread calamity across the world.

That’s why Lucy couldn’t understand the situation at all. What kind of being could command such entities?

“We are simply fulfilling our mission.”

With that, pitch-dark darkness swallowed them.

As if they had never existed, they vanished in an instant.

Yet, even afterward, Lucy couldn’t stand up from that spot for a long time.

She sat on the ground, lost in thought.

What did that man’s words mean? What about her did he find so revolting?

No matter how much she pondered, she couldn’t figure it out.

‘Who are these people…’

Something was about to happen.

That much was clear.

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