Author: lipzoldyck

 

Looking back on the situation, I just thought there was no answer. First of all, it was because I couldn’t even figure out why I was lost.

 

I was clearly following Kade, who had gone ahead without a word, as if he was sulking. At the point where we were walking through the silent forest without talking to each other, as if I caught a glimpse of a golden glimmer among the trees in the distance.

 

At first, I thought I had run into Lily’s group again, as we had split up at the entrance of the forest. But belatedly, I could see that the glitter was more like powder than hair.

 

Then what is that? Feeling puzzled, I stepped backwards to check between the trees, then came back to my spot.

 

And…

 

In that short period of time, not even ten steps, Kade had disappeared.

 

“…Did he really throw me away?”

 

I had doubts because the person I was going with was Kade, but I soon realized that it wasn’t.

 

I realized that no matter how much I move, in the end I’m just hanging around in the same spot.

 

They said that apparently, it was an ordinary forest unless there were monsters roaming around. It seemed that something strange had happened in the forest. Or maybe I was being too complacent.

 

Whether Kade left me, or I was really hallucinating and missing him, it didn’t change the fact that I was left alone in the woods in the end. I looked up at the sky, which was gradually turning gray befitting the bleak atmosphere of this place, and let out a long sigh.

 

I thought it would be better to wait here quietly for now because nothing good would come if I moved alone in a forest where monsters went around.

 

I perched on a large stump and stared blankly at the densely forested landscape. If I look like this, someone will come looking for me. If it’s not Kade, even Lily or Ivan…

 

However, no matter how much time passed, I couldn’t feel the presence of a person, and rather, it came a long time later.

 

<…>

 

“Ah, really.”

 

In terms of size, it was the size of a child, and if I had to explain its shape, it was a monster that looked like a pillar with only legs. The monster, which had no clear shape, was repeatedly fading and reappearing as if it were about to disappear.

 

‘That’ looked more like fog than a monster, and despite that, its organs that could be seen through its eyes and mouth were properly attached, making it even more bizarre. People whom I asked to come didn’t come, yet this kind of thing did.

 

Even though it was weak enough to be defeated by normal people, I didn’t want to attack first, thus I cautiously distanced myself from the Illinan.

 

And most of all, it reminded me of Lily’s explanation of Illinan.

 

[Illinan changes its appearance when it gets closer to a certain distance. That’s Illinan’s way of surviving. It transforms into a plausible appearance and confuses the opponent so that they can’t harm it. Mostly… In the form of the most important person to its opponent.]

 

The moment I heard that, only one person came to my mind. A person who is so precious to me I can’t harm him. It’s obvious. If that monster changed into that form, it would be a bit difficult.

 

Fortunately, although the monster was conscious of meㅡI assumed the spot it was looking at was the one I was inㅡit didn’t attack first.

 

Rather, as I gradually distanced myself from Illinan, it didn’t move from the spot and just watched.

 

It must have been about an hour of such a meaningless battle of nerves. It was around the time when I, who had been sitting on the stump at a distance while being wary of Illinan, gradually began to sit comfortably with the monster.

 

Something had changed in that silent and eerie landscape where only the fog was growing thicker without any sound.

 

The first thing I heard was the sound of something breaking, like a small piece of ice breaking. At first, I thought it was the sound of leaves hitting each other in the wind, so I didn’t put much meaning to the sound.

 

It was probably around this time that I started paying attention to that sound.

 

[…Miss Ei! Are you there?]

 

It was when Lily’s voice started to blend in with the rupture, frictional sound, which grew even louder.

 

Hearing that voice, I jumped up from my seat, and at the same time Illinan’s gaze, which was looking at me… rose slightly.

 

I wanted to know what that monster wanted, as it seemed to be oppressing me just by existing even though it didn’t do anything.

 

According to the brief explanation of Illinan before entering the forest, they could mimic the appearance, but not the voice. Because there is no sound-producing organ in its body structure itself.

 

So, that voice is probably really Lily’s.

 

[Miss Ei! Kade!]

 

I listened in the direction the sound came from, and realized it was coming from the direction where Illinan was blocking the path.

 

“No, what…”

 

Why have I been sitting here for such a long time? It was all because I didn’t want to get closer than a certain distance to that monster.

 

I tried moving around to find the direction the sound came from, yet when I came to my senses, I was just hovering in the same place as before.

 

Even if I answer with a raised voice in my presence,

 

“Lily! Can you hear me?”

 

There was no answer to that call. Rather, as if she hadn’t heard me, there was only the constant call to me.

 

Am I too far away for her to hear my voice? Otherwise, it could have been a situation where the sound of the other side was transmitted to me, yet mine wasn’t transmitted to the other side.

 

I guess I’ll have to try walking in that direction.

 

<…>

 

“Ugh.”

 

Illinan, still unwilling to step aside, made me hesitate. It doesn’t seem like it has any other purpose, so why does it keep doing this here?

 

Is it really a coincidence that it’s standing there blocking the road? What if this sound is just an auditory hallucination, just as the people of the delegation didn’t predict the change in this forest?

 

But I felt like I would be stuck here forever if I really did nothing. Ah, then there is only one answer after all.

 

I heard that there’s nothing special about its attack power, yet nobody liked it because they felt uncomfortable as it kept showing illusions.

 

The worry continued for a long time, but even that thought was a waste of time unless there were any other tips. What kind of trouble is this, really?

 

I looked at the knife that Ivan had given me for self-defense, then held back a sigh that was about to burst out and took my steps away.

 

More than anything else, the anticipation of what kind of welcome Illinan would present complicated my feelings. I don’t even have the confidence to walk away, casually ignoring the illusion.

 

As soon as I took five steps with such a bad feeling.

 

As if Illinan had waited, its appearance changed instantly.

 

“…!”

 

The shape that barely exceeded half of my body surged upward with tears, and the organs that were visible through its eyes and mouth disappeared as if they were melting.

 

I almost took a step backwards at the strange phenomenon happening in front of my eyes, yet when I saw the monster completely changed, I couldn’t move as if I was caught by my ankles.

 

I couldn’t help but be stunned at the sight for a moment, even though I was aware of all this situation.

 

<…>

 

The face of the only person that came to my mind when I heard the word ‘most important’ person.

 

A face I hadn’t seen in a while, existing only in my memory, was reassembled in front of me. With a figure so clear that it didn’t look like an illusion in the slightest.

 

The dark purple hair fluttered in the wind, and when ‘it’ lowered its head, the purple earrings swayed in a faint trail.

 

Such a flawless appearance. A face with sharp lines, neatly trimmed eyes, and purple eyes that repeatedly appear and disappear every time they blinked.

 

I really wanted to see…

 

“…Dan,”

 

I almost called his name for a moment, thus I hurriedly shut my mouth. The fact that the shock didn’t go away even though I expected it was even filthier than I thought.

 

Illinan only showed illusions, yet I stood still and couldn’t move. Still, I was at a loss for words, as if that figure was pushing toward me. In my stunned consciousness, only the strong beating of my heart was distinctly felt.

 

I wanted to see him, but at least not in this form.

 

Did it clearly sense my agitation, or was it certain that I wouldn’t attack it? Illinan, who looked at me quietly, changed its expression and smiled.

 

Yeah, it ‘smiled.’

 

The corners of ‘its’ lips, which changed its shape, went up in a graceful arc. Then, it folded its eyes and smiled as I had pictured in my memory, and looked at me with a radiant face that seemed to contain all the joys of the world.

 

Just like Dante always did every time he looked at me.

 

…I remember the days when I had no choice but to stare blankly at Dante whenever he smiled. Days when the whole world seemed to exist just for that smile.

 

However, at this moment.

 

Because of that smile Illinan showed me, I finally realized that it couldn’t be real.

 

“…”

 

My heartbeat, which had been beating fast, gradually calmed down, and I could clearly feel myself coming back to my senses.

 

I was almost bewitched even knowing it, but I was rather grateful that it woke me up. Why should it show you a smiling face?

 

I didn’t want to laugh at all, yet ironically, a small laugh came out of my mouth.

 

Honestly, it’s like that.

 

“Would Dante laugh if he met me in this situation?”

 

Again, to Dante, I’m dead. When I imagine the moment I reunite with Dante, in it, Dante is always frowning, or looking at me with contempt in disbelief, or very occasionally…

 

He doesn’t make any expressions.

 

In other words, I have never thought of Dante smiling as soon as he sees me, even in my imagination filled with optimism and anxiety.

 

There were times when that smile was natural. Now I dared not think that Dante would smile as soon as our eyes met.

 

After the bewilderment was completely gone, I started to get very annoyed by the situation.

 

I can’t stand it as I still miss him, so why do you have that face? Who are you to pretend to be my husband and even make fun of me while laughing at me?

 

I unknowingly put strength into my fist, yet the monster in front of me still didn’t move.

 

[If you attack Illinan even once, the illusion will disappear immediately. As long as you don’t get possessed by the illusion, it’s not a very dangerous monster.]

 

In any way, I recognized that it was fake, and if I didn’t want to see it looking like that, I just had to hit him, at least.

 

If I leave it alone, I never know when and how it will change, so wouldn’t it be better to make a good defense?

 

I heard a voice calling my name from afar once more, and took a deep breath.

 

“… If you had just moved out of the way, this wouldn’t have happened.”

 

With those words at the end, I kicked the shin of the monster in the form of Dante with all my might.

 

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Comments (2)

  1. When will they meet each other again??? It’s agonizing