Author: Tam Editor: Genie

“Oh, right. Did you say Bourbon? What’s your mother’s last name?” 

 

“My mother is a Bourbon, though? Why?”

 

“It’s the first time I’ve heard of the surname Bourbon. I know all the witch families—. It’s strange, isn’t it? So what’s your mother’s maiden name?”

 

“Oh—”

 

Amelie was perplexed. No matter how hard she tried to think of it, she couldn’t think of her mother’s full name.

 

“What is it—?”

 

She had never heard her mother’s name. When she thought about it, her mother’s presence was strangely blurred. It has never even appeared in the original story. Even though it may appear in Renee’s memories at least once.

 

“Are you sure you know that?”

 

Amelie didn’t readily answer. 

 

“Well, perhaps you don’t know. Many of the children born after the witch hunt are like you.”

 

Lira comforted Amelie.

 

“Come with me. I’m working on finding and helping kids like you.”

 

“Kids like me?”

 

“Yeah. Children who lost their mothers after a witch hunt and didn’t learn about themselves properly. I find those children and take them to the Grand Witch to help them settle down.” 

 

“Is there really a Grand Witch?”

 

“Yeah. The gatherings are not held like before, but a high priest is always needed to lead the clan and serve demons.”

 

“Wow. It’s a real witch. Do you really worship a demon?” 

 

“Yeah. Technically that’s what it is.”

 

Amelie has been looking for someone to tell her about herself. Expectations were high that if she followed her, she would know about the witch properly.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

Lira held out her hand. Amelie tried to hold her hand, but stopped.

 

“I told His Majesty I’d be back by evening.”

 

Amelie looked up at the sky. She saw an orange sky between the branches.

 

“It’s already evening. I have to go.”

 

“Why do you care about such a person?”

 

“I can’t. At midnight, there could be a disaster. I have to stop it.”

 

“You keep saying disaster, what the hell is that?”

 

Lira asked. 

 

‘Does it make sense that the people of the Empire don’t know about disasters? It’s like a founding myth, isn’t it?’

 

Amelie was suspicious, but she explained.

 

“Didn’t you learn history? The existence that drove the continent to destruction. The story of the first Emperor defeating and establishing an Empire.”

 

“I think I heard it when I was young— I don’t know. Why should I care about the history of the Empire?”

 

Lira said. 

 

“Anyway, I’m having a hard time right now. And I think it’s going to be difficult to follow you as well. I have to stay by His Majesty’s side.” 

 

“You’re being fooled, aren’t you?”

 

Lira was annoyed. She couldn’t understand why she believed in the Emperor and was doing this. 

 

“I’m not being fooled, you know?”

 

“How can I believe that!”

 

“I know His Majesty better than that!”

 

Amelie was also very angry.

 

“What the hell? Why are you on the Emperor’s side? You, you’re not really on the same side with the Emperor, right?”

 

Doubt lit up in Lira’s eyes. She backed away from her, biting her lips to cast her spell. The broken vine wriggled again to catch Amelie. 

 

‘I’m going crazy.’

 

Amelie was upset. They couldn’t communicate, so she had no way to convince her.

 

“Why are you doing this today?”

 

If it was a different day, she would have followed her! 

 

Resentful of heaven, Amelie was ready to respond to the spell.

 

“Do you think you can beat me?”

 

“But I can’t just let go and be dragged away.”

 

The disaster couldn’t be prevented if she was dragged away like this.

 

Amelie looked around. There was no one. She was relieved that no one was involved in their fight. 

 

‘It’s just a head-to-head match.’

 

There was tension between the two. And after a while, without anyone noticing, they started to attack.

 

******

 

Serwin stared at Amelie’s back as she moved away. His feet trembled at the sight of her getting smaller and smaller, but he couldn’t keep up and followed only with his gaze. After she had completely disappeared, he lowered his head.

 

What should he do now? In the midst of all this, she had vanished from his sight, and his anxiety swelled.

 

‘Ah, broom.’

 

Amelie’s broom fell to the ground. Serwin picked up her broom, simply holding it.

 

‘I told her I’ll wait.’

 

She said she would be back by evening. She never broke her promise, so she would come back. At that time, he had to be here waiting patiently in order not to disappoint her.

 

Serwin stood there for a long time, waiting for Amelie. He looked at the direction where she left. He wanted to put an end to this bitter waiting, even a few seconds was too much. As soon as she left he was hoping for the moment when she would return.

 

‘Why isn’t she coming? Is she lost? Is she looking for me? Should I look for her?’

 

Serwin hesitated, closed his eyes, and focused on the sound. It would be all right to look for her at any rate.

 

‘There’s no Amelie.’

 

He couldn’t feel any sign of her. Even the nobles were headed to Area 3 for a banquet, and there were only signs of wild animals around.

 

‘Why nothing? Where did she go?’

 

There was also a limit to the area that Serwin could detect. If so, it meant that Amelie had gone beyond that  limit. He grabbed Amelie’s broomstick with both hands.

 

‘No way. She hasn’t left, has she?’

 

He waited, turning a blind eye to his rapidly increasing anxiety. He tried to maintain his reason and not despair. But by the time the sunset had engulfed the forest in red tones like a fire, black smoke rose from under his feet. The smoke enveloped Serwin’s body, covering his eyes and ears. 

 

Kiiik, kiik. 

 

The laughter of disaster raked across his eardrums like nails. Serwin blinked his eyes slowly. He could see the sky blackening and the forest being engulfed in darkness.

 

‘Is it midnight already?’

 

[So it’s the night of hunting day.] 

 

Disaster said. 

 

Amelie didn’t return, and the hunting day’s night came again this year.

 

‘So this is how it ends up.’

 

Serwin lost his mind, feeling like he was falling endlessly.

 

[Shall we start the hunting?]

 

The disaster opened his black eyes.

 

******

 

At the same time, Amelie was in the middle of a fight with Lira. Under the influence of magic, all the grass and trees were pulled out of the place where the two stood, and it became a round vacant lot.

 

‘What is this? You’re surprisingly good at holding out, aren’t you? I’ll have to go with something strong instead of looking at the situation. All you have to do is stay alive.’

 

Lira threw out the magic. She could recite two spells at once, and Amelie was helplessly pushed back. Amelie was able to endure this much thanks to her constant strategizing and maneuvering. By reading Lira’s lips, she pre-analyzed which spell was about to be cast, and struggled to figure out how to evade or counter attack.

 

“Ugh!”

 

Amelie managed to avoid a pillar of ice falling vertically. The ice brushed against her arm and made it bleed, but it was Amelie’s trick. 

 

‘Give her my arm, and attack when it is—’

 

Amelie tried to counterattack. But then, a chill ran through her body, giving her goosebumps. Oppressively negative energy carried from the wind from the far northwest. She forgot what she was attacking and looked in that direction. The atmosphere of the forest changed in an instant to chaos and anxiety. 

 

Lira felt the same, and also looked to the northwest. She had no idea what it was, but had a gut feeling that something terrible was out there. She instinctively stepped back. The sky at sunset was so red that it felt like the forest was on fire.

 

At that moment, a black mist filled their feet. The black mist spread over the entire hunting ground in the blink of an eye, and even covered the sky. When the mist touched the branches, they drooped down helplessly, and the fruits dried up and fell to the ground.

 

“Disaster has come.”

 

said Amelie intuitively. It exactly matched the situation in Fidelia’s forest. But it’s not midnight yet, isn’t it? She remembered that she had left Serwin alone for much longer than expected as she fought Lira.

 

“I must go to His Majesty. Now that disaster has come, it’s dangerous!”

 

“Is there really such a thing as a disaster?”

 

“It’s up to you. I can’t afford to make you understand now.”

 

She started running towards the northeast.

 

“Amelie! Don’t go there! I don’t think you should—”

 

Lira hesitated. It doesn’t feel so good to follow, but what if she sends Amelie alone and she dies? She was a precious fledgling witch that might even be related to their family. Isn’t it possible to do anything if she’s alive, whether she’s punished or indicted as a traitor? Moreover, it was Lira’s role to protect immature witches until they settled down.

 

“Oh, seriously! If it wasn’t for the help I got from the witch of Fidelia, I’d stop doing this right now!”

 

Lira became irritated and started running after Amelie.

 

******

 

It was not difficult to find disaster. Because she can run in the direction where her instinct tells her not to go. The place she followed was not Area 1 where Serwin was. 

 

[Grand Malt Hunting Area 3]

 

Area 3 was also surrounded by thick fog.

 

Whoosh. 

 

A strong gust of wind knocked down a wooden peg. When Amelie arrived in Area 3, it was so quiet that only the sound of the wind was loud.

 

‘There’s no way it’s so quiet.’

 

After the sun sets, the winner of the hunting competition will be announced, and the banquet will begin. She heard that the venue for this banquet is Area 3.

 

‘There’s no sign of any living presence.’

 

She couldn’t hear people laughing or screaming. The temperature seemed to have cooled down to a gloomy atmosphere. She shivered.

 

“What’s there?”

 

asked Lira, who had been chasing a step behind.

 

“Disaster.”

 

“….”

 

Amelie looked back at Lira.

 

“If you’re not going to help me, go back now.”

 

“…I followed you to help. I would like to see if the disaster is real.”

 

“Then you must not be careless. For disaster, it would be most helpful to use purification magic.”

 

“At this place? But it’s used to make medicine?”

 

“It still works. I’ll guarantee it. Lira you should hide for now. Since he doesn’t know about Lira’s existence yet, I think a surprise attack would be good.”

 

“…Okay.”

 

The dignity of a witch was not something that could be achieved by deceiving others but Lira still couldn’t believe the disaster was still there, but she glanced at Amelie, who was staring straight ahead with her sharp eyes and nodded her head.

 

“Then I’ll go this way.”

 

Lira became a cat and hid among the trees.

 

If she goes inside Area 3, she will find a large open space. Amelie decided to walk inside and have a look. She walked alone. She could barely see a few feet in front of her so her footsteps became more cautious. When she finally reached the vacant lot, Amelie was startled.

 

People were seated side by side at a table prepared for a banquet. All the food on the white table rotted and flies were buzzing around. No one acknowledged the flies. They just sat still, like wax dolls. A thick, black smoke that could not be compared with fog in the forest covered their heads. 

 

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