Chapter 96 - Desire To Change
Sevi’s eyes were set with stubbornness, his shoulders wide open as he shouted that he would not survive alone. Had he grown in the past few months? The height of his shoulders was slightly higher than when we first met. But he wasn’t all grown up yet. It wasn’t exactly pleasant to see Sevi, still a boy, choose pride over his future. Noticing my disapproval, he added persuasively, “I was saved once thanks to you, Vice-captain, and it was also thanks to you that I became a mage. That’s why… I have to repay the favor. I can’t let myself get any more indebted.”
Gone was his always lively and cheerful air. Sevi clutched at my arm and I could feel a sense of urgency from him. “Always repay a favor. It’s our family motto. And as the heir of House Ventus, I have to uphold it.”
“But your family wouldn’t wish for you to die for a motto.”
“Maybe. But… I don’t want to live on just because I’m young anymore.” Bitterness flickered in Sevi’s eyes as he paused to find the words to continue. In a somber tone, he began, “For generations, my family has been gamekeeper of the southern part of Veron Forest.”
“When you say Veron Forest…”
“Yes. The area affected by the fellspawn that escaped a gate several years ago.”
15 years had passed since dungeon gates began to appear. These days, you wouldn’t find any fellspawn coming out of gates thanks to expedition corps being readily available to handle them. The incident in Veron Forest was a regretful result brought about by the late discovery of the gate due to its remote location. As one of few such cases, I too knew about it, albeit roughly. Sevi had avoided talking about his family until now. No one asked either, since his induction as a corps member at such a young age foretold a story by itself. I could easily predict what had happened to them, but even so, hearing it from him didn’t make it any less bitter.
With his composure intact, Sevi continued, “My whole family died then. My parents, grandpa, elder brother and sister… Everyone tried to save me, even as they were dying to the fellspawn. Only because I was the youngest…” I remembered then of how he had cried out back on the castle spire, tears bathing his face, shouting that he would become a mage and grow stronger. Was that desire born out of vengeance? I gazed at Sevi with mixed feelings as he quietly spoke with watery eyes. “I do not… want to be left alone like that, not anymore.”
“I won’t leave you alone,” I said firmly. He was in an agitated state. I comforted him with the most rational words I could muster. “I didn’t form the special unit to die with you all. There’ll be no death if you listen to me well. Do you trust me?”
I held Sevi by the shoulder and met his eyes, and he nodded heavily. “I trust you, Vice-captain. But if ever something dangerous happens… I’ll do whatever I can to save you. That’s all I wanted to say.”
Sevi’s resolve was firm, and his unwavering gaze showed that. I could sense there was still a scar from his vague words, characteristic of a child, but that was precisely why I was sure I could trust in him. Such pure trust. That being the case… I decided to secretly tell him about a future that might pass, something I had never told anyone before. “Sevi. I have something to tell you. I’m telling this only to you… because I trust you.”
“What is it?”
Sevi’s lit up at the word trust. After confirming no one was around, I faced him and said in a clear voice, “If I ever look like I’m about to suicide when we’re in a dungeon… Then let me be.”
Sevi turned pale. “What?”
It was natural he was bewildered. After all that talk about saving lives and whatnot, I suddenly pulled out suicide. Even so, I calmed the boy in a collected fashion. “I have it all thought out. I don’t actually intend on dying.”
“You have to trust me when the time comes. Not even the captain knows about this. I’m asking no one but you.”
“Well, of course…! The captain would never allow it if he knew,” Sevi exclaimed. His reaction was intense, maybe because he knew how soft Mayer Knox was on me.
I added appeasingly, “I know. Which is why I’m asking you.”
From what I had observed of Mayer, he was more delicate than people would think. He was not a heartless, cold-blooded Dark Knight. In truth, he was an ordinary person who could be as wounded as anyone, barring the fact that he was the strongest person in the world. But because he didn’t show his wounds to anyone, no one realized how he was inside. Which was why I felt like something unexpected would happen in the final moment. I couldn’t say what since I wasn’t sure, but it certainly wasn’t a situation I welcomed. Butler Vince’s request to bring Mayer Knox back alive no matter what kept bothering me, too. It was necessary to prepare for that unexpected moment.