497-Lord who never returns

 Black ashes were pouring down from the sky.

 Little by little, as if the darkness was being peeled away, the ashes fluttered and fell silently on the body of the two pretenders who fell on their backs.

 His magic power is disappearing with time.
 The achromatic eyes turn towards me and a snatched voice resounds.

"....Why did you save...?

Why didn't you avoid it? <I'm sure he didn't have enough magic left to use the Griping Magic Hand (Rayon) to its fullest extent.

 The Two-Way Pretender said.

'If I had avoided it, this world would not have been just.

You'll die instead.

 He didn't reply.

 He just looked at the void in a daze.
 A single tear spilled from those achromatic eyes.

 What kind of feelings are in his heart?
 I had no way of knowing what was on his mind as I had just met him for the first time a few days ago.

It's not a very efficient body. I can't last a few days with that.


 Even without doing anything, the magic power was being sucked out of the root of the Two Rite Pretender.
 That's probably the reason why he couldn't endure a prolonged battle.

''Reincarnation. If you don't have any strength left, do you want me to help you?

 If you reincarnate into a better body, you may even survive.

Is reincarnation common in your world?

Don't tell me you wouldn't do it.

 The Two Rite Pretender makes an expression that is neither a denial nor an affirmation.

''........I don't reincarnate......''

 Clearly, the Two-Way Pretender said so.


'So I have decided. I will wait here until my Lord returns.

 He had a look of determination on his face.
 It's as if he had accepted his demise long ago.

 Or perhaps his body was already at its limits before he fought me.

''Even if you come back tomorrow, it will be too late.


Where are you?

 The Two Rite Pretender did not reply.
 I remembered that lonely yet noble expression.

 Two thousand years ago, I'd seen that face enough to get tired of it.

''I see.''

 I suppose he won't be coming back, the Lord.

"...the Lord...

 The Two Rite Pretender quietly opens his mouth.

''........Why did you, Sir, join Pablo Hetara's Alliance of Academies.......?''

 Is that what you care about in the face of destruction?
 I guess it's not really small talk.

No, you're mistaken. There's a man who wants to kill my mother. Like Barzalondo, she wore a crest of bubbles and waves. That's why I tried to listen. I don't even know what a Pablo Hetara is.

 He doesn't say a word. He's looking at me.

'You have no proof. Just ignore it.

'You can't fool a dying man,'

 The Two-Way Pretender said.
 He was silent for a while, but eventually he opened his mouth again.

''........O strong man. Will you join me in this moment of regret...?

 I nodded.
 'If you're going to travel, it's best to take some of the burden off.

'Speak your mind. I will take your honor to my grave.

 Slightly, the Two Rite Pretender loosened his expression.
 He began to speak in a snatched voice.

''The Silver Water Academy Pablo Hetara is a symbol of an old, huge, and evil hierarchical system. They continue to unilaterally exploit the bubble world.

 Exploitation is not a gentle word, but I don't know if you can call it a bubble world.

''The Bubbly World is an unevolved world. In the Lord's homeland, there will be a Lord God of the World. In the evolved world, the Lord God will perceive the outside of the world by the Lord God and have the ability to cross the Silver Water Holy Sea.

 Seeing my reaction, the Two Rite Pretender adds that explanation.

'But in the bubble world, no conformists are born, the world does not evolve, and the World Lord God is not born. Hence, the inhabitants of the Bubbles have no way of realizing that there is an outside world.

 I see.
 Things are a bit different in the world of Militia.

''The mechanics may be complicated for a Sir who has just left the Silver Water Holy Sea, but Pablo Hetara is taking important magic away from the bubble world.

 That's not hard to imagine.
 Until recently, there was something that had been taken away from the world of Militia as well.

'Fire and dew?'

''You're indeed a good guess. In this Silver Water Holy Sea, the shallow layer dwellers would be robbed of everything by the deeper layer dwellers. Even lives can be taken away so easily. The dwellers of the Bubbling World could not even notice it. Because to them, there is no such thing as the outside of the world, and it appears as if it is order.

 Eques said the fire dew was consumed to keep the world going.

 Maybe he didn't know that he, too, had been robbed.
 He believed he was taking, and that he was in fact deprived.

"My Lord is the destroyer of the evil hierarchy. Undefeated and proud. He was the free wind that blows in this sea of order. But even as he crossed any death line with a smile, the inevitable wall of death stood in his way.

 A snatched voice sounded heavy.

'Strong, strong, and above all, the wall of death. I could have retreated. But the Lord jumped into death without hesitation for the sake of his benefactor. He was such a man--

 Cutting off the words, he says.

'My Lord, the Two Pretenders are...'

 His tone of voice changed to a calmer and more polite one than it had been before.

''No wonder it's so disproportionate and inefficient in terms of magical power.

 The demonic eye glows and looks into the depths of the man in front of him.

''That body isn't yours by nature, is it?

The body that the Lord entrusted to you on your journey to your death.

 The root cause and the body are inseparably linked.

 Even if the body disappears, it can be restored by using Ingal because the root source remembers the outline of the body.

 Even if you put another root source into a body that doesn't have a natural root source, it would not be able to move properly.

 To be able to manipulate it so freely, this man also has extraordinary power, but that is why he has consumed a large amount of magic power and is nearing the end of his life.

Once the Two Rulers are gone, this entire sea area will fall into the hands of Pablo Hetala. Don't wait, says the Lord. Guard it.

 Even as he speaks this, the man's magical power is fading.
 The strength of the man who was not afraid of the fireball of annihilation is nowhere to be seen.

''I have been waiting in this land. I have been waiting in this land, roaring the name of the Two Rite Pretenders and protecting this sea from them. Believing that one day the Lord would return. Long, long, faintly long years of waiting.

 The Two Rulers' men clench their fists.
 Even that is as weak as they want it to be.

But the Pretender did not return. I realized for the first time that I had made a mistake. The Pretender may have asked me to defend myself. I can't go back, so there's no need to wait... and so...

 Words of regret spill out of his mouth.

'....I waited for the Lord who never returned...'

 His snatched voice was like his own, covered in scars.

'I should have stopped it. I should have stopped the pretender from going to his death, even if it meant taking a life of his own. Otherwise, I should have gone with him. I had to do it as a steward of the Lord, even if it meant giving up my life. He missed the opportunity and lived on with his eyes wide open, not even understanding what he was supposed to be protecting, but just dazedly.

 He stumbles over the words.


 His voice, as if he was squeezing it out, echoed mournfully.

''........I have only been waiting.......''

 He wanted to pass on with the Lord.
 He was not allowed to do that.

''At least, I wanted to protect his name. As long as the name of the Two Rite Pretender roars in this Silver Water Holy Sea, the Lord still lives. Believing so, I deceived myself into believing so, and I have survived until today. As long as this body of the Pretender is here, the winds of freedom will blow. The Lord is indeed protecting the sanctuary of this Silver Water Sacred Sea, and...

 Inheriting the body and name of the Two Rite Pretender, he has lived to this day.

 In order to fulfill the wishes of his late lord.

''.........and that's the end of it.......I was unable to do anything in the end. In the end, I was unable to do anything.

 I'm sure he would have seen it coming from the beginning.
 He would have known that it would not be possible.

 Nevertheless, as a steward, he was a martyr to the Lord's will.

 Looking up to the heavens, the man said.

'It must be an empty sentiment. Maybe he thought that if only he had waited, if only he had kept his name, maybe one day a miracle would happen. I've kept it well, he said. Maybe he thought that the Pretender would praise him for waiting well.

 Tears spill from her achromatic eyes.

"The Lord told me not to wait, but He didn't mean to praise me for waiting.

 He said as he turned his eyes to the black ash-filled heavens.

''If it could have come true, I would have waited for this to happen, forever...''

 It was probably the only wish left to a man who had lost his Lord.
 A fleeting hope, like a man clutching at straws.

"The Lord who will not return, forever?

"...at the risk of sounding like a fool, sir, but...

Go get them.

 The reply breaks off.
 The steward of the Two Pretenders stared at me in silence.

'It's not too late to give up when you have searched for the Lord and confirmed that he has indeed perished. He may have died, reincarnated, and simply forgotten his memories.

 I say to the dying man.

'Isn't that a different person already...?'

It may look that way. He may look like that, he may not remember. But deep down inside him, nothing will ever change.

 A slight glint in his achromatic eyes.

'At least in my world it was. It's possible.

 But the man didn't agree and looked at the heavens again.

''If only I had met you a little sooner my life span would be too long to search for the Pretender...''

Do you want to preserve His vessel and His name until your last moment?

 The man silently shows his affirmation.
 If the root source disappears, the body of the Two Rite Pretender will become nothing more than a wreck.

 If he were to abandon his vessel and live long enough, he would have been reincarnated long ago.

 This body is the only proof of loyalty to his lord left in this man.

 Foolish, foolish, and how noble.

 He knew that his Lord would not return long ago, yet he kept his name and body.
 He is trying to keep faith in the hope that the Two Rite Pretender might work a miracle until his last moment.

I will protect the name and vessel of the Two Pretenders for you. "I'll protect the name and vessel of the Two Pretenders for you. There's no reason why I shouldn't keep the vessel.

If you don't trust me, I'll let you borrow my body for a while. That's a lot of other people's bodies you can use. That's a lot of magic to use. If you don't use your magical powers to keep your vessel intact, it should heal a bit.

 The Two-Rule Pretender's steward kept his mouth shut and made a pretense of thinking.

''........What is in it for you, Sir?''

"I've just left my world. It's the Silver Water Holy Sea, and I have no idea what's out there.

You want information, sir?

One more thing.

 I grinned and said.

'We had a ball game together, didn't we?

 He rolled his eyes in surprise.

'....When was the last time you received mercy from another person...'

 Slightly, the man relaxed his cheeks.

''But still, it is too late for you. I have lost the power to maintain my original physical form in order to reincarnate into my Lord's body. Even if I go out of this body, I will not be able to gain a new body. The only thing you can do is to reincarnate in the form of fusing with another person, called "Fusion Reincarnation (Radopilica)". Unlike normal reincarnation magic, you won't lose your memories, but you can't coexist for long. Once it enters the Lord's body, it will fuse its roots and begin to take over regardless of my intentions.

 Unlike normal reincarnation magic, you don't lose your memories?
 <I'm sure he can retain his memories even in reincarnation (silica), but is it the price of forgetting his own physical form? 

 I've never tried it.
 Anyway, I suppose I can't be reincarnated without merging with others.

"Even so, it would only extend my lifespan slightly. The only person who can help me is the Two Rulers who remember my original body shape.

I'm fine.

 I walked up to him and held out my hand.

"...why are you doing this to me when I just met you...

"You can't exert your strength in someone else's body. You knew from the beginning that if you went into battle, your life would be limited. And yet you have kept your Lord's body and name intact. I've had many men under my command who were just as eager to die as you are.

 He stares at the proffered hand.

'Those underlings...?

I left him out. I'm not coming back.

 The man says, with a look of melancholy on his face.

'Well, that must be very boring for you, sir.

What? I've been working him all my life. If you don't play with them, I'll never get out of the way.

 Forlornly, the man smiled.
 Then he slowly reached out his weak hand and grabbed mine.

 A steward who waited for the Lord who had not returned.
 I felt as if the empty sentimentality that he had spoken had reached deep into this chest.

 Maybe my words reached this man as well, as I sent my men out on their own time.

I'm not sure what to do to repay you........what do you want me to do to repay you.......?

Now, if you'll be reunited with your master, introduce him to me. Maybe the three of us can play ball together.

 Maybe it was a promise that could not be fulfilled, or maybe it was a promise that could not be fulfilled.
 Nevertheless, the man huffed out and said.

'I'm sure the Lord will be in tune with the Pretender.

 As if his mind is made up, he concentrates his magic power in his palm.

'The pain of the fusion of roots is unimaginable. You may need to deflect the fusion. Do you have any countermeasures?

Now, is it something that needs to be addressed? You, take heart. My body, though urgent, is not exactly livable.

 And then he draws a magic circle.

"The Demon King's Army (Guys).

 It connects the body of the Two Rite Pretender to the magic line.

 The magical power of annihilation, which is usually cancelled out inside the root source, is directly poured into its body.

 An ordinary body wouldn't be able to withstand it and would perish, but the Two Rite Pretender is exceptionally strong.
 Even with the magic power that dripped out of it, it would be able to maintain the vessel for a while.

''Fusion Reincarnation (Radpirica).

 He closes his eyes and draws a magic circle on his clasped hands.
 With a thump, the power from the body of the two pretenders is released, and a different kind of magic power begins to appear inside my body.

 The fusion reincarnation has begun--