Chapter 19: A Perilous Journey (4)

The rock used as a screen at the campsite was quite cozy.

Night had fallen, casting shadows over the forest.

Looking up, the sky, vacated by the sun, was adorned with the shimmering moon and stars.

Somewhere, insects were chirping, but it wasn’t overly noisy.

Close by, there was the sound of gentle breathing.

Sirien, who had been fussing about the sleeping arrangements, surprisingly fell asleep in an instant.

Despite the hard ground, there was nothing she could do against the overwhelming fatigue.

Since it was the first night, I planned to let her sleep as much as possible.

“Mmm, no. I want more...”

She seemed to be having a happy dream, and I felt sorry to disturb her.

After vowing revenge with tears last night, she deserved a sweet dream today.

A cold wind blew briefly.

The campfire’s flames flickered wildly in the wind.

The flickering light made the shadows in the forest retreat a step back. In the vacated space, no threatening enemy was visible.

It was just the traces of our campsite preparation that were briefly revealed.

Still, there was only one presence that could be felt.

‘Persistent little thing. It’s about time to give up and retreat.’

Although the movement was small, the presence was distinctly felt.

It was some distance away.

The thing that had been following us from the edge of the forest was still trailing us.

It wasn’t particularly threatening. Even as night fell, it showed no significant movement.

It was just watching us from a place where its appearance couldn’t be discerned with the naked eye.

I wanted to see what it looked like at least once, but since it wasn’t even trying to hide, it seemed like it would continue to act this way.

I wished my eyes were a bit sharper.

I wasn’t completely blind in the dark, but my night vision wasn’t particularly good.

‘In the original story, Razen could see well even in the dark. Was it an ability he acquired later?’

I was strong in the original story, but particularly powerful in the dark.

A human who could skillfully utilize darkness better than demons, there was no need for further explanation.

I wondered if becoming a Swordmaster would grant enhanced vision, but it didn’t seem to be the case.

Other Swordmasters didn’t try anything similar.

As expected from a trashy novel, there were no detailed explanations.

It seemed like a unique ability that only I possessed... and there was one likely source.

‘The Church of Rest. The Hibras Church.’

Hibras was the god guiding all life to rest.

The god of rest. Also known as the god of death.

In the novel, the god of rest chose Sirien as a saintess, and I joined the religion following her.

Razen didn’t seem particularly devout, yet wielded immense power.

Hibras wasn’t a god of night or darkness, but it wouldn’t be surprising if there were some unknown powers.

After all, the apostle of the sun god had many seemingly useless powers too.

Like the ability to make half-baked cookies delicious.

In the novel, male leads would often use their great powers to cater to the female protagonist’s tastes...

Anyway, Hibras was branded as an evil god in the later parts of the novel.

The cults gathered around the female protagonist declared a holy war after confirming the evidence.

Now, it’s dismissed as a long-extinct cult, but it must still have some remnants left somewhere for the novel’s content to be plausible.

‘But that’s the strange part.’

In the novel, the Hibras Church was depicted as an incredibly powerful force.

By the final chapter, it had seized control of nearly half the empire, starting from the Grand Duchy of Eilencia.

The speed at which it expanded was so fast that other Churchs grew wary of it.

However, the Hibras Church of the present was nowhere to be found.

The knowledge of it being an ‘Church that perished long ago’ was something I had read in passing from an old book in Rehaim Castle.

It was never mentioned by anyone else.

If not for that book, I wouldn’t have had the slightest clue about what Hibras was doing or where it was.

A god whose name was unfamiliar even to ordinary people. The novel’s content still wasn’t helping me.

How much time would it take for this knowledge to become useful?

I couldn’t be sure if I would still be alive by then.

‘Maybe we need to find them ourselves?’

Come to think of it, that might be the better option.

The Church, barely hanging on in some secluded place, would be struggling just to keep themselves afloat.

They wouldn’t come looking for us, claiming to serve the saintess.

We were the ones in immediate need of power.

Even the power of an evil god who openly demanded human sacrifices would suffice.


Had the deep night made me think too much?

There was a rustling sound from a short distance away.

I held my breath as I reached for my sword.

The direction of the sound was clear.

With half of our surroundings blocked by a large rock, I only needed to watch one area.

‘It wasn’t the wind. Too quiet to be a monster, likely a wild animal. Should I wake Sirien just in case?’

The first possibility I considered was a small wild animal.

Seeing her sleeping soundly, I didn’t want to wake her yet.

I lit a branch I had set aside earlier to make a torch.

I looked around, but saw nothing immediately.

Shadows cast by the weeds and trees. Rocks that appeared pitch black.

In the silence of the forest, the sound of a beast echoed.

- Grrrrr.

A growl filled with obvious hostility.

It wasn’t going to ambush us; it was coming straight at us.

Though it wasn’t close yet, I couldn’t be sure how fast the predators in this forest were.

No matter the distance, I couldn’t afford to be complacent.

I needed to prepare for combat immediately.

“Sirien, wake up!”

It was our first battle in this maze-like forest.

* * *

- Grrk, gck.

From top to bottom.

My sword pierced through the beast’s head.

Blood sprayed like a fountain, drenching me.

It was a close call.

Just before its sharp teeth could bite me, my sword struck its vital point by a hair’s breadth.

Two beasts resembling wolves had attacked us.

Though they appeared to be canine predators, I didn’t know their exact names.

We were lucky there were only two; if there had been even one more, I would have certainly lost an arm.

“Ugh. Blood got in my mouth. It’s too fishy.”

“Are you okay? It looked like you got scratched earlier. Are you hurt badly?”

“I’m not sure. It doesn’t hurt much, so I don’t think the wound is deep.”

The beasts were about a meter in size.

They weren’t formidable enough to be considered a major threat. I had faced such creatures several times during knights’ training.

The difference was that those were in a safe environment, while this was not.

And it seemed like these ones were slightly bigger.

Perhaps it was because I couldn’t handle the beasts without injury.

Not to make excuses, but my movements were a bit sluggish due to lingering injuries.

No matter how good my body’s recovery was, a wound from a sword couldn’t heal overnight.

I got wounds that I wouldn’t have sustained if I were in perfect condition.

Even though I couldn’t see it, I knew there would be three claw marks on my right side.

The stinging pain was becoming more pronounced.

“I can’t see it because it’s on your back.”

“Can you take a look?”

“Sure, come here.”

By the campfire, I turned my back and took off my top.

The warmth of the fire and the cool breeze mixed as they brushed over my body.

“Just as I thought. You’re bleeding. Let me clean it. What should I use?”

“There should be a clean white towel in my backpack.”

“Is this it? I’ll start cleaning, okay?”


I thought the claws were sharp, but they seemed rougher than I expected.

The pain was worse than I imagined, and I almost cried out.

When I flinched, Sirien quickly pulled the towel away.

“Did it hurt a lot? Sorry. This is my first time doing this.”

“It’s okay. Keep going. If you don’t clean it now, it might get infected.”

“Okay. Just bear with it a little. I’ll be gentle.”

Sirien took the word “gentle” very seriously.

If it had been an older knight, they would have scrubbed carelessly, but Sirien’s towel moved delicately, avoiding the wound.

I let her continue, having no desire to endure unnecessary pain.

A brief silence fell.

During that time, I looked at the corpse of the dead wolf.

It was too dark to handle it now.

I planned to disassemble it tomorrow without Sirien noticing.

I figured the kind-hearted noble lady might faint if she saw it.

Though I was inexperienced, it was something I had to do.

I needed to salvage some meat and fur if possible.

“By the way, where did you put the spare sword I gave you?”

“That? I left it next to the backpack.”

“Well done. I’ll take care of it later.”

I had given Sirien a sword just in case.

Though I hoped she’d never need to use it, it was better to have it than not in the worst situation.

“Speaking of that, teach me how to use a sword starting tomorrow.”

“A sword? That might be difficult.”

“Still, I want to learn. Even just the basics.”


Did Sirien ever use weapons in the novel?

I couldn’t recall. As the saintess of the Church and the grand duchess of Eilencia, Sirien never had to be on the battlefield.

She always had protection, so there were no scenes of her fighting directly.

She wasn’t depicted with a weapon in her hands at all.

Sirien’s role was mainly strategic or supportive.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to teach her some self-defense.

Tomorrow. I never imagined that Sirien would discover an unexpected talent.

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