Her blood landed everywhere.
Her dazed gaze slowly drifted downward to the spear impaling her left chest.
Her pupils shook as she felt the coldness of the steel penetrating her heart. Her entire body lost strength and fell to the ground. She could hear the desperate, anguished cry of someone as the owner of the voice rushed towards the spearman. His speed was as fast as the ray of light.
The spearman flinched in surprise, and let go of the spear. That wasn’t all, though. He spun around, and threw a punch to the enemy approaching from behind.
The victim toppled over from the impact. The spearman didn’t stop and his bloodied fist landed on the victim again.
The side of his victim’s head burst open in an instant.
However, even then, the spearman didn’t stop.
Once, twice, thrice, again, and again….
He savagely roared out, and pounded on the head of his dead enemy, until the skull was crushed and the brain matter scattered everywhere.
Only then, he finally halted his fists. With a pair of bloodshot eyes, he took a quick survey of his surroundings. Then, he picked up his spear.
He stepped on the wet ground, soaked with mixture of brain matter and torn flesh.
The man resembling a demon dashed into the thick swirling fog without hesitation – into the swirling fog of ashes….
The fallen woman heaved out a dry cough as she woke up. Her facial expression crumpled from the pain oozing from every pore of her body.
But, even her frown didn’t last long.
She lifted her head and surveyed her surroundings.
“Is…. anybody there…?”
A quiet, sorrowful wind blew by.
“Is…. everyone… dead?”
She waited but no reply made its way back.
She let off a sudden chuckle and began muttering as if she was singing a lullaby.
“Everyone’s dead, everyone’s dead….”
She thought that the burnt corpse near her was in a better shape than some others. For instance, there was a lump of meat that once used to be a human being slowly floating on the pool of blood not too far from her.
She looked around her vicinity one more time as disappointment dyed her expression.
Her throat began to itch.
She somehow managed to drag her upper body into a sitting position and spat out her saliva. Her complexion brightened ever so slightly. She slowly lifted her blurring sight towards the empty sky above.
‘How did we…’
….How did she end up in such a miserable state?
One day, an alien race from another world intruded upon hers.
It was discovered a bit later on that this race had been chased away from their original home world.
After experiencing a bitter defeat, this race aimlessly wandered in the emptiness of the outer space for a very long time. Then, they invaded her planet in order to create a new home for themselves.
….In order to become the new lords of this world.
“Those despicable sons of whores.”
This woman’s identity was the princess of a certain kingdom that used to be under the Empire’s protection.
The news of the alien’s invasion reached her when she was six years old. And then, she heard the news of the mighty Empire falling at age ten. The Empire, boasting overwhelming scientific and magical prowess…. The Empire, often referred to as the ‘Never-Setting Sun’, had fallen in four brief years.
Soon, the alien race took over the world, even going so far to destroy the deity worshipped by the Empire’s denizens, promptly turning this whole planet into an owner-less Wild West of sorts.
Maybe, it started from around then.
Soon, many other races descended on this land bereft of its deity’s protection. They had been waiting for a long time for an opportunity to devour this world.
The first invading alien race initiated their bloody invasion throughout the planet; meanwhile, their leader fashioned himself as the new god, too.
It was around then, when ‘groups’ from other worlds began appearing one by one as well.
There was a group uniting in the name of ‘survival’, another one marching forward under the banner of ‘conquest’….
Recalling the various events of the past, the princess began chuckling softly.
The land once ruled by mankind was now a bloody warzone where many other alien races fought for supremacy.
As for the fate of the original inhabitants…. they were pushed around this way and that, swept away helplessly by the whims of fate. Just like a flickering candle facing the wind.
Also making their appearance then, was the seven gods. The seven beings, born together during the birth of the planet, but for some reason or the other, failed to be recognised and worshipped by the inhabitants until now.
These seven gods promised the survival of the remaining original inhabitants, and the populace promised to worship them in return. And so, the deal was struck – yet, the aid from these gods were…. quite funny, to say the least.
Their method of fighting back was to summon another race that most closely resembled the original inhabitants; then, form an army with them.
There was no other choice but to do this, however.
Even the mighty Empire had fallen in four years. So, what chance did her kingdom and its military have, a kingdom that needed the Empire’s protection to begin with?
Besides, there weren’t enough survivors as a result of the constant and bloody warfare, too.
“…Those rotten sons of whores.”
She aimlessly stared into the sky and spat out curse words.
‘We shouldn’t have trusted them from the beginning.’
Actually, it wasn’t so bad in the beginning.
The first one or two Earthlings summoned by the gods displayed astonishing growth rate after receiving the grace of the seven gods.
However, their sphere of influence grew just as vast as well, and soon, the situation gradually shifted as they began isolating and persecuting the original inhabitants.
The reasons for this were many: they were separated by nationality, skin colour, dogma, and even, political backing.
But at the end of it all, the true culprit was ‘benefits’.
When the division within the ranks of the summoned Earthlings deepened, it also caused a deep chasm to form within the once-united structures of the kingdom.
The alliance formed under the desire for survival was soon fractured into pieces, and the power structure rebuilt with so much sacrifice began to weaken once more from the internal conflict. Some even went as far as to denounce the new gods as well.
They were all truly unbelievable events, indeed.
But, was that all?
The majority of the Earthlings refused to participate in this final battle. They coldly ignored the desperate pleas to participate, and returned to their own home world, instead.
The princess’s never-ending anger towards them was all because of this history.
She was about to swear out one more time, but then, she shut her mouth real quickly.
A soft sound echoed out within the rapidly-cooling graveyard of countless corpses. The sound approached closer and closer, until it eventually stopped by the spot right next to her.
A burnt-out corpse was there.
[I am surprised.]
And in front of this corpse stood a large darkness that defied all description.
[How amazing this is! I did not place much hope, yet you have survived this desperate battlefield….]
‘He’s an Earthling?’ (princess)
As if to answer her question, the collapsed body of man slowly raised his head, albeit with much difficulty.
A powerful emotion welled up inside her, but soon, she had to swallow it back down.
….Because, the state of the man was horrific enough to make her nearly avert her gaze away.
The numbers may have been very, very small, but it wasn’t as if no Earthlings had participated in the battle. For him to end up looking like that, he had honoured the agreement in his own way, it seemed.
When she thought like this, she began developing a sense of sympathy towards him, but at the same time, she thought it was such a loss, as well.
If all the other Earthlings were like this man….
[Although I’d like to praise your worthy actions for a while longer, regrettably, you do not have much left in your life span.]
The low-pitched voice seemed to shake her eardrums.
[You have honoured your side of the deal, so I shall honour mine. What is it that you wish?]
His weakened, blurred eyes gazed into the approaching darkness.
When his lips slightly parted open, the blood containing bits of his inner organs poured out. As if he couldn’t even find his voice, only the noises of winds whistling by came out of his mouth.
[It is fine if you don’t try to speak. I shall simply read your mind, instead…. And so, do you wish to be revived?]
The princess suddenly felt an urge to laugh out loud here.
Did the darkness really ask the man if he wanted to be revived? Under the current circumstances?
What could he possibly do if he was revived, then?
Everything had been lost and destroyed already, so what was the point?
[That’s not what you want? How foolish, when your life is hanging in the balance. In that case, what else do you wish for? Perchance, are you seeking wealth even in a situation like this? Perhaps, do you seek honour and glory?]
[What did you say?]
The tone of the darkness’s voice increased a great deal.
[You, wish to start all over again?]
Suddenly, a dense, suffocating sensation of ill omen grew heavily in the princess’s heart.
[That is impossible!]
An enraged voice caused the air to ripple.
[No matter how great your achievement is, it is still unreasonable to ask for the reversal of time itself! And besides, you’ve only achieved such a small and insignificant feat, yet you wish to turn everything back to the beginning?]
[How impudent! Maybe, if you had achieved feats similar to today’s events dozens of times, it might have been possible. But, with what you have accomplished so far, it is not. Never mind your soul, not even an ounce of your flesh shall return to the past!]
[How persistent! I shall be lenient, in lieu of the accomplishments you have achieved so far, and the fact that that your life is about to end soon. Speak of another wish.]
Then…. heavy silence descended.
[….Why do you wish for such a thing?]
Maybe the sight of the man’s head faltering was pitiful, the voice reverberating in the princess’s ears seemed to have softened considerably.
[My child…. Wish for your revival in haste. If that’s your ardent wish, then wouldn’t it be better for you to accomplish more feats in the future and then make the wish again? ….Although, it isn’t guaranteed if the wish will be granted or not.]
The shoulders of the man shook ever so slightly. She thought that he might be chuckling to himself. It was enough of a miracle to survive this hellish battlefield. Maybe, you could even call it ‘heaven-defying’ luck.
But then, he had to go and achieve feats similar to this dozens of times?
The man, the princess, even the owner of that voice, they all knew such a thing was impossible.
Then, the man slowly raised his head with a lot of difficulty. His lips moved softly.
[….And you want your true feelings to….?]
[If it’s impossible for your soul and your body, then you’d like the feelings you felt here to be sent back?]
As if this wish was quite unexpected, another bout of silence descended.
[….To send back only the feelings associated with the memories…. Certainly, feelings you’ve felt today are simply a part of the emotions you feel almost everyday.]
T/N: I had a real trouble with this line. Although the raw sounded very philosophical and profound, at its core, it’s just pure BS and I couldn’t TL it into English without myself sounding like an a*s. So, this is what you’ll get.
After a long bout of silence, the voice spoke to them once more.
[However, even that too is difficult.]
It was only for a moment, but the dying man’s lips twitched.
[I am truly sorry.]
And that was the end. His slowly, lazily trembling shoulders finally stopped moving.
His head slumped, never to rise again.
Out from the darkness, a hand-like thing reached out.
As if it had found this loss quite regretful, it slowly stroked the fallen man’s head.
“I understand him.” (princess)
The princess suddenly spoke up after watching this scene unfold from the beginning.
The hand of the darkness ceased stroking the man’s head.
[And you…. carry the royal bloodline.]
“That is correct, god Gula.” (princess)
As if she found the whole notion of being a royalty quite funny, she loudly sniggered.
“The kingdom has fallen. I’m sure that the gates have been taken over by now, too. So, maybe, wouldn’t it be better to die after experiencing such a horrendous event? I mean, it’s been all neatly arranged, isn’t it? Since his memories would be wiped clean because of the oath. Besides, he must’ve had a place to return to.” (princess)
[No. This child didn’t wish to return.]
Her eyes became round with surprise after hearing the weighty voice.
[He said that there’s no place to call home even if he went back.]
“No place to call home….”
Those words managed to resonate with her heart. Just a tad.
Was this the case of ‘misery loves company’?
With the destruction of her kingdom, she too had no place to call home anymore. A few stragglers probably managed to survive, but soon, their fate would become worse than that of livestock.
Because…. humans were the losers of this war.
“In that case, why didn’t you grant his wish?” (princess)
At her softly-muttered complaints, the darkness gently laughed.
[Utterly nonsensical. All results have causes. The result this child wanted was to interfere with the past regardless of the method.]
The princess chuckled bitterly. She couldn’t really understand, nor did she want to understand it. No, it just sounded like an excuse to her.
[It is simply that, his achievements weren’t enough to become the cause.]
“Regardless of that, you seem to be in regret about something, are you not?” (princess)
[Of course, it is regretful. This child, he was…. He was originally born with the fate of the one who leads.]
“The one…. who leads?” (princess)
The princess became quite shocked.
The agents of the seven gods, also referred to as the apostles – the seven seekers of truth, chosen to fight against the monsters capable to destroying the entire world….
Of course, the problem was that only one of these so-called truth seekers participated in this battle.
[Indeed, he was one of the brightest shining stars. But, he managed to ruin all that with his own hands…. Why do you humans only learn the bitterness of regret, when it’s already far too late?]
Another bout of heavy silence visited the darkness.
The princess also closed her mouth. The reason why she forced herself to speak, was because she didn’t feel like dying here feeling lonely.
It was just that she somehow had regained her consciousness. She knew all too well that she also didn’t have a lot of time left, the moment she opened her eyes.
Her gaze slowly drifted towards the dead man by her side.
His pitiful end seemed incredibly tragic to her.
She couldn’t tell this was true or not, but if he had wished for reversal of the time itself, then he must’ve had braved many truly dangerous life-or-death crises. But even his dedication was not enough to grant his wish.
He had fought like a dog, and died like one, without receiving the compensation he was promised.
“….Oh, dear god, Gula.” (princess)
The princess hesitated ever so slightly, before reaching into her pockets.
“The wish of this Earthling, please…. Grant it.” (princess)
“The promise of the King – you have not forgotten it, yes?” (princess)
The darkness was briefly mired in confusion, but right away, it stopped.
Her wide-open palm played host to a single necklace that featured intricate craftsmanship. Although it was stained with spots of blood here and there, none of those could diminish the bright light emanating from it.
“If you take the promise my father made and add it to the accomplishments this Earthling had achieved, wouldn’t it be enough to grant his final wish? Even if reversing time is difficult.” (princess)
[Is there a reason for you to go this far?]
“Of course.” (princess)
When the Earthlings crossed over, the royal family also promised to handsomely reward them.
There was no need for her to even consider those betraying b*stards who ran away while worrying only about their own necks. But, this Earthling in front of her eyes continued to tug at her conscience.
It was only correct and proper that the royal house would honour that promise, since this man had clearly honoured his. Also, this was the final act of kingly pride for the dying princess as well.
[What if your wish could be granted, instead?]
“And what can you do for me, then?” (princess)
The princess laughed out loudly.
One of the things she had realised during this lengthy war was that the so-called omnipotent gods were definitely no such beings. So, what could she wish for, in this already doomed world?
[I shall reiterate this, but this child can not physically go back in time.] [Only the intense emotions of yearning and regret… Even those, would only be transmitted to him as a fleeting dream. Not even as a transference of memories….] [He might end up treating it as nothing to fret over. Or, maybe, even as a dream he dreamt during the night and then, come morning, forget all about it.] [But, it is true that both you and him will die in this place. Even then – are you saying you will still choose this path?]
As if to tick each checkbox of the confirmation process, the voice entered her ears several times.
It’d be a lie if she didn’t develop a feeling of doubt in her heart. However…. she was too exhausted. This war had gone on for so, so long. And during all this time, she had to endure as one of the last surviving leaders.
But now, she wanted to rest. She thought that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to return to nothingness and sleep forever.
‘Only if all Earthlings were like you….’
….Then, she might not have any regrets.
[Is that how much you desire for his wish to be granted? Even at the expense of relinquishing your royalty?]
For the first time during this conversation, a genuine smile formed on her lips.
Her wish had been finalised.
[In that case, fine.]
It somewhat felt like a pair of wings spreading out within the darkness.
[Come closer, my child…]
Suddenly, her whole body felt empty. By the time she realised this change, her sights became blurry.
The whole world seemed to spin endlessly; and then, unknown matter rapidly approached her. The very last thing she got to see was….
[I’ll be waiting in anticipation….]
….A small blue fragment rising up just above the dead man, and….
[….For the day I meet both of you again.]
….And, the darkness that was laughing out loudly in joy.