Villain Hides His True Colors
[Translator – Yasi ]
[Proofreader – Karane ]
Where the hell am I?
Shirahui was looking at her surroundings after having slowly woken up.
A floor covered with foam mats. A bulletin board with poorly drawn pictures. And in such a classroom, even children sitting huddled together.
It was a common everyday sight seen in a kindergarten. A scenery where she could feel an unknown nostalgia.
But why am I in a place like this...?
She recalled her last memory.
Screams could be heard from all directions. It was a hellish landscape filled with dismembered bodies and blood.
In the middle of such a place she had lost consciousness.
When she had come to her senses, she suddenly saw her father putting restraints on Noah.
After that, she definitely...
...I was yelling at my father, and then I collapsed again.
So why did she open her eyes in a place like this?
Was the incident resolved? Regardless of the outcome, she couldn't understand the current situation.
She approached the teacher who was conducting class.
Excuse me. Do you know what the hell is going on here? What happened to the villain attack?
"Now, shall we have the next person present?"
However, the teacher didn't answer her and just continued teaching.
Maybe the teacher didn't hear her? She came closer, and just as she was about to call out, a little girl jumped up and began her presentation with a confident expression.
"Yes! My dream is to become a great hero like my father someday!"
The moment Shirahui heard the voice, she felt an indescribable, strange feeling.
She inadvertently turned her head. Her gaze stopped on the chest of the little girl presenting.
And there, attached to her chest was a name tag with the name 'Shin Shirahui.'
(T/N: Her name is Shin Rahui, but the author made a typo when she was first introduced and I've kept it as Shirahui ever since.)
"Rahui, is it your dream to be a hero? Good. I'm sure Rahui will be a great hero like Cheonho-nim."
"It must be nice to have a great dad like Rahui's! I'm so jealous!"
"Right, right! I wish my dad was a hero."
The little girl lifted her head proudly after having finished her presentation. Meanwhile, the teacher and children looked at her with envy and praised her father.
Shirahui felt a sense of déjá vu. She began to faintly recall her childhood memories.
Wh-what the hell is this...?
The little girl twitching her lips and trying to hold back her smile was none other than herself in the past.
Was she dreaming? Or did she get caught in some kind of scheme and was seeing an illusion?
She could only watch the current situation in a chaotic mood.
Meanwhile, children began to flock around little Shirahui as they chattered.
"Rahui! Please tell us about hero-nim like last time!"
"Right! Right! I want to hear the story about Cheonho-nim defeating the villains!"
Little Shirahui smiled proudly at the sight of such children.
"I've already told you about it last time. But you still want to hear about my dad?"
"Hmhm! It's fun to hear stories about Cheonho-nim no matter how many times I hear it!"
"W-well, if you want to hear it that badly, tsk, I have no choice but to tell you again."
"Ahem. So, you see. Last time, my father..."
Little Shirahui, who had pretended to be unwilling, began to talk about her father with an excited look on her face.
After an unknown time, the doors of the kindergarten suddenly opened and parents who came to pick up their children came in.
"Aye, my princess. Are you done with your class? Why don't you go on a date with daddy?"
Children who were listening to little Shirahui's story rushed out of their seats and ran to their parents.
"W-wait...Don't you want to hear the most important part...?"
"I'm sorry, Rahui! I have to go to the zoo with my dad today! See you next time!"
Before long, the children disappeared. Soon, the teacher approached little Shirahui and asked.
"Little Rahui. I just got a call from your mother and she said she'll be a little late today. Should I stay with you until then?"
"No...I can wait by myself."
"Really? Then, teacher will be over there doing some work, so call me if you need anything."
As a result, little Shirahui was left alone. All of her feelings were vividly conveyed to Shirahui.
She knew what she was experiencing now could never be a dream or illusion.
It was undeniably her memory. The emotions she had felt at that time could never be reproduced by a dream or illusion.
Regarding this phenomenon where she was vividly seeing her past, she could already guess.
It's different from what I had imagined...but this is probably...
She realized that she was reliving her memories just before death.
* * * * * * * * * *
The scene changed.
A neatly decorated interior. An interior where a housewife's touch could be felt.
Every sight that caught Shirahui's eyes permeated her memory with familiarity.
This was her childhood home where her family had lived before moving to Seoul.
A place filled with memories made by three.
However, after her mother's death, her father had decided to sell the house and move to Seoul as if he was running away.
So she wanted to visit here again someday if she had a chance...
I never thought I'd see it again like this...
From somewhere came the savory smell of soybean paste stew and the sound of restless chopsticks.
She stepped toward the sound as if she was possessed. Soon, she came to a big marble table filled with heartfelt food.
However, sitting at the big table was only little Shirahui. With puffed cheeks, she was fiddling with her chopsticks.
Why did I complain so much back then...If I could eat any food my mom made, even side dishes would be good...
A woman walked out of the kitchen and to the table with a plate of sliced fruits.
As if Shirahui was looking into a mirror, it was a woman with a soft smile and eyes.
The woman smiled affectionately at little Shirahui.
"My Rahui, why do you look so sad?"
Shirahui ran to her. However, her body passed in vain and she couldn't reach her mother.
She collapsed along with a feeling of helplessness. It was her past self with a sour face that answered instead.
"Hmph! It's nothing!"
"Huh? I don't think it's nothing? Don't be like that and tell me~ Hmm? Did you have a fight with your friend today?"
"Hmph! I won't tell you!"
Little Shirahui didn't make eye contact with her mother as she restlessly poked the fish on the table.
Her mother smiled and held out an apple cut in the shape of a rabbit.
"I'll give Rahui the rabbit apple that she likes, so can't you just tell mom? Come on, the rabbit is hopping~ Ah~"
"Hmph! It's no use. I'm really not going to tell you...heup!"
Little Shirahui opened her mouth and skillfully pushed the apple into her mouth. With the apple in her mouth, she looked at her mother reluctantly.
"It's tasty, right? Your dad got it from the Daegu family last time. The house of your friend Gangjun-oppa."
After chewing the apple silently for a while and hesitating, little Shirahui soon spoke.
"Mom...why isn't dad home? I...want to go to the zoo with mom and dad..."
Her mother, surprised by the question, widened her eyes. Soon, she approached little Shirahui's side and asked her at eye level.
"What animal does Rahui want to see the most at the zoo?"
"Wolf? Why a wolf? There are a lot of cute animals."
"I...want to ride a wolf."
"Hmm? Oh! You mean what you saw in a cartoon recently."
Looking at little Shirahui, her mother smiled. She patted her head and continued.
"You know, your dad. He's scolding the mean people who might disturb Rahui, so that someday you can play with the wolves."
"Can't someone else do it besides dad?"
Instead of answering, her mother hugged little Shirahui tightly. She spoke in an apologetic tone.
"...That's because it's something only your dad can do."
"Of course it's because your dad is the best in the world. Didn't you know that, Rahui?"
"I know, but..."
"Like what your dad always said. The strong must protect the weak. So can you hang in there a little longer, Rahui?"
"But since he said he'd certainly come to Parents' Day, shall we all go to the zoo then?"
Little Shirahui's eyes sparkled like the stars.
"Of course! When has mom ever lied? So let's finish eating with mom and make a carnation for your dad."
Little Shirahui picked up her chopsticks in a hurry as her mother smiled warmly.
Shirahui slowly closed her eyes after watching the two.
* * * * * * * * * *
When Shirahui opened her eyes, the scene had changed again.
Heavy rain was pouring down from the sky, and amidst the gloomy background, a kindergarten's talent show could be heard.
She immediately recognized what the scene she was watching meant.
N-no! You don't have to show me this! Please!!
She shouted for her voice to be heard. However, the scene before her eyes continued to flow regardless of her will.
At a time when everyone was having a good time, little Shirahui was sitting alone on the kindergarten's stairs.
Tightly held in her hands was a crudely made carnation.
To the little Shirahui who had her head lowered, her mother approached and spoke affectionately.
"Rahui, don't stay here, shall we go in and sing together? Rahui practiced a lot."
"No...I don't want to."
Her mother sighed quietly at the sight of her daughter. She said in the most soothing tone possible.
"Your dad must be a little late because it's raining. He'll be here soon if you go in. Okay?"
Little Shirahui shook off her mother's hand and ran into the rain.
She hated everyone. Her mother, her father.
Such thoughts flowed into her head.
She just wanted to be with her family like her other friends. She didn't want her father to be a great hero...
If only she had strength. She wished she could have scolded the bad villains instead of her father.
Just as she thought as such, someone's voice came into her ears.
“Do you want to be strong?”
The mysterious voice said enticingly as its words reverberated in her head.
"Wh-who are you?"
“If you do as I say, you can be stronger than anyone else.“
N-no! You can't listen to that!!!
Shirahui desperately tried to block the voice. She wanted to somehow prevent the wrong decision she had made in the past.
However, her words simply faded vainly in the rain, impossible to reach her past self.
"I...I want to be strong!"
“I understand. I'll help you find your true self.”
The scars of the past began to repeat.
* * * * * * * * * *
Was this a punishment for her past mistake?
Despite trying to stop it, the scene changed again.
Shirahui no longer spoke. She simply watched the punishment given to her with sunken eyes.
The figure of her mother running around and screaming hoarsely. Her blouse, dressed for the first time in a long time, was completely drenched from the rain.
"Where the hell did she go when it's raining like this..."
Her mother's face was full of worries.
After running for a long time, a wet carnation that had fallen on the ground caught her eyes.
She ran straight along the path. Soon, little Shirahui floating in the air and emitting an electric field could be seen.
Little Shirahui showed a very pained expression on her face. Seeing her like that, her mother quickly ran to her.
"H-hold on! I'll save you in a second...Kyak!"
The lightning arcs extending from little Shirahui's body had knocked back her mother.
A voice of something with a huge presence resonated from the sky.
“Mortal. Don't interfere with my plan.”
Her mother looked up at the pouring rain and screamed at her invisible opponent.
"Are you the one who made Rahui like this? If you don't want to die, release Rahui right now!!!"
“I didn't do anything. I'm just helping her return to her true self. If she can't overcome that power and dies, then that is her fate too. So leave now, mortal.”
It was just a voice, but a terrible pressure weighed on the surroundings. A pressure that an average person could never handle.
However, although her mother trembled, she didn't back down.
"S-son of a bitch! Rahui is my daughter! Who are you to decide that?!"
“This is a legitimate contract. And under that contract, after death, her soul will belong to me.”
"A load of crap!! Who gave you the right?!!"
Ignoring the voice, her mother ran to little Shirahui.
Colliding, bouncing off, and rolling in the mud. Still, she continued to move forward.
Did her desperation come through?
“Without any mana in your body, how...?”
Finally, her mother miraculously was able to reach where little Shirahui was. Hugging her body tightly, she asked.
"Keuk...Rahui. A-are you okay?"
"M-mom...It hurts. It hurts so much. My stomach is hot."
"Don't worry...Mom will take care of everything! Rahui trusts mom, right?"
Her mother looked at little Shirahui and smiled.
After holding her tightly, she accepted all the mana and lightning little Shirahui was emitting into her own body.
“How dare you, mortal! Are you trying to interfere with my plan?! Get away from there right now!!”
An ever-increasing electrical storm. Her mother's flesh burned and scorched.
* * *
[ Translator - Yasi ]
[ Proofreader - Karane ]
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* * *
However, she didn't scream. Rather, in spite of the unbearable pain beyond what humans were capable of, she smiled.
"Rahui, I'm so proud of you. Can you hang in there a little longer?"
She endured all the uncontrollable mana. As a result, her body began to turn to ashes and slowly crumble.
"Today...We were supposed to go to the zoo...I'm sorry I couldn't go with you..."
A crack appeared on her mother's body that had reached its limit after embracing the mana. Meanwhile, a scream came from her father who had found them.
Her mother pushed little Shirahui toward her father. And as always, she spoke with a warm smile.
"The zoo...Your dad will go with you instead of mom. Even without mom...You have to have fun, okay? Honey, please take care of Rahui."
Her mother looked up at the pouring rain and shouted.
"God or whatever. No one can touch my daughter!!"
“H-how dare a mortal interfere with my plan!!!”
At that moment, the mana that was raging inside little Shirahui exploded, bursting her mother's body and spreading in all directions.
In such a terrible storm, little Shirahui lost consciousness in her father's arms.
That was Shirahui's last memory of her mother.
* * * * * * * * * *
It's finally over...
Shirahui collapsed and wiped away her tears.
Her childhood was like a nightmare. The resurfaced memories, which had been consciously shut off her entire life, had finally ended.
What was in front of her now was just nothingness. Nothing but utter darkness.
Will death welcome me now?
Ever since her mother's death she had always wondered what happened after death. And now her curiosity will be answered.
What kind of place was the afterlife? If there really was a place like that, would her mother be doing well there?
No, maybe she herself was already dead.
The scenes she had experienced a while ago were nothing short of hell's punishment.
Soon, she heard someone's voice.
“Mortal, do you remember the contract you made with me?”
In the past, he had tempted her by saying he would give her strength, which had led to her mother's death.
I made the stupid descision to contract him again...
However, she was able to save everyone. As such, she had no regrets about her decision.
She only felt sorry for her mother who had risked her life to protect her.
As to not be intimidated, she shouted confidently.
Of course I remember. I'll do as you wish. What do you want?
“Astrape. You’ll return to your true self and be my instrument.”
“Yes. However, your soul cannot be my instrument yet because it still has lingering attachments. Even though I showed you what happened in the past. What a tenacious soul.”
Y-you mean what happened just now was because of you...?
She trembled with anger. She didn't know his reason for doing it, but he had intentionally dug up her scars.
Despite her reaction, Zeus continued.
“It can't be helped. I'd better show you what happened after this. Only then will you understand where you belong.”
Her vision changed again.
The location was the vacant lot where the incident had taken place. However, the landscape had changed beyond recognizable.
The surrounding area was in ruins. Not only the vacant lot, but also the kindergarten she had attended, nearby hospitals, schools, family homes, etc...
Every place in sight was in a shade of black and crumbling.
In the middle of such destruction, her father was carefully holding little Shirahui. Blood flowing down the corner of his mouth, his body was also not unscathed.
Standing there was a completely unexpected figure.
A black man covered in silver armor. It was the man named Pamir who was sent to the school festival to catch Noah.
Why was he here?
Pamir smiled slyly.
"Hoho, oh my. It exploded splendidly, Mr. Shin."
"Everyone within a kilometer evaporated. That's amazing."
Her father remained silent. He simply gave strength to his arms that embraced little Shirahui.
Pamir, who had been smiling, spoke hoarsely with a grimace.
"Say something. This is all because of your daughter."
"Thousands of people have died. Including innocent children! How will you take responsibility for this crime? Well, first of all, we'll have to punish your daughter for causing this incident."
At the end of Pamir's words, her father, who had been silent all this time, stood up.
After walking slowly to Pamir, he knelt down on the ground with a thud.
"Please...Please...Please don't hold my daughter accountable. In fact, the parents are to blame for failing to control the situation. So I'll take full responsibility."
"Huu, I can't believe Mr. Shin is on his knees. Is this what they call paternal love? This is a really precious sight."
Pamir squatted in front of her father and looked at little Shirahui with an expression of interest. Soon, he smiled.
"You'll take full responsibility...Then, can I interpret it as accepting my offer?"
For a while her father was silent. He simply looked down at little Shirahui's face.
A little later,
"...I understand. I'll do as you say."
Her father accepted Pamir's offer.
Offer? What kind of offer was it for him to make such a face?
A feeble look on her father's face she had never seen before. Seeing that, the unpleasant memories of her family passed through her mind.
"Hahaha! That's great. You can leave the rest to me. I'll take care of everything."
"Let's see~ Since it's raining today, hmm, I guess it's enough to say there was a lightning accident here. Hahaha! Isn't this all fate? I'll see you next time."
Pamir stood up. As soon as he turned his back, he spoke to her father as if he had remembered something.
"Ah, just so you know. If you had accepted the offer a little sooner, we would have also informed you of your wife's death that was predicted today. Well, it would have been a happy Parents' Day for everyone."
"...So let's not make the same mistake twice. Mr. Shin?"
Shirahui's mind went blank as soon as she saw the scene.
Only then did all the pieces fit together. Why her father had decided to sell the family home and move.
And why her father, who pursued justice more than anyone else, had acted like a coward this time.
Th-the reason why my father wanted to arrest Choi Noah...It was all because of me.
Since then, countless scenes were shown in succession.
The image of her father killing civilians, torturing people, assassinating politicians, and doing all sorts of dirty work as commanded.
N-no more...I can't do this.
Her father became a dog of the World Government and became increasingly haggard.
And yet, he taught her to be a righteous person with a forced smile whenever he came home.
The figure of her father she had never seen before. At last, overlapping such a father was her yelling sharply at him.
[Someone like you...a hero...you're not my father!]
Her father looked at her vacantly as if he had lost everything.
The expression he had shown at that time was still imprinted in her mind.
A-ah...No...I didn't know...No, dad...
She regretted so much of what she had said. If she could turn back time, she wanted to sincerely apologize to her father.
However, that was just an unattainable wish. Soon, she heard Zeus' voice.
“I'm sure you saw clearly. All your family's misfortunes were caused by you alone. Not just that. Countless innocent souls who died. And those who died at the hands of your father to protect you.”
“It's all because you chose the wrong place to be. You were supposed to be in my hands as Astrape, not as a mortal. Give up now and return to your true self.”
My true self...
If she hadn't been born...
Her mother would still be alive. Her father would have kept his beliefs and protected justice.
And the lives of the people who died because of me...
“Stop trying to go against your fate.”
Right...I only bring misfortune to everyone...
No one in the world would wish to be that kind of person. Her existence itself brought disaster, so was there a need for her to exist?
Yeah. I'd rather...
The moment Shirahui was about to let go of her lingering attachments,
Someone's voice woke her up.
* * * * * * * * * *
A very familiar voice. A voice that Shirahui really wanted to hear before death.
She wondered why she was hearing it now.
At that moment, the scene of nothingness changed.
As a result, the imaginary world faded and she saw the real world.
The summit of Mount Olympus. At the nearest place to the sky.
There was a temple altar built of stones, and above a table lay her unconscious body.
She looked down at her body in her soul state.
In the sky, a giant existence made of light and clouds was overseeing everything.
Gasping for breath, Noah approached Zeus.
No...why the hell is he here?!
She yelled. However, it was impossible for her voice to reach him.
Someone close to her will be hurt again because of her.
“You...Mortal, how did you get here? Don't tell me you're also trying to sabotage my plan?!”
A tremendous pressure that cannot be measured descended. However, Noah didn't succumb to it and continued to approach one step at a time.
After an unknown time, just like her mother had done.
The last cry her mother had left in the past erupted from Noah's mouth.
"God or whatever. No one can touch what's mine!!"
Wh-why is he going this far for me...
Noah, who had finally reached the altar, grabbed Shirahui's body.
"I need this person! I'll be troubled without her!!"
H-he needs me?
What did he mean? Her mind became chaotic.
Can I...continue to live?
She was someone who regularly ignored people around her and someone who only brought misfortunes.
However, since he had said he needed her...
I...want to live again.
Her soul that was floating in the air returned to its original place. The fierce thunderstorms fluctuating in her body quelled like a tamed beast.
Noah was smiling so brightly to the point it was blinding. She felt so thankful and warm when she saw it.
“You!!! A mere mortal wants to ruin my, Zeus’, plan?!!!”
The price was that Noah was put in danger because of her again.
Zeus' anger pierced the sky. Thunder rumbled and lightning fell in all directions, destroying the mountain peaks.
"I'm glad you're here to save me, but...Why did you come? Is there a way?"
"Don't worry and just trust me."
Shirahui had been worried that someone precious to her would be hurt because of her again, but when she faced Noah's smiling face, such feelings disappeared magically. Like the time she was in her father's arms when she was a child.
Yes...with Choi Noah, anything can be solved.
At that moment, Noah suddenly pulled Shirahui into his arms.
Shirahui's eyes grew large.
H-how can he be so bold...?
They haven't even held hands yet, and before that, they weren't even dating...
Noah pulled out a sword and shouted.
"You'll never take this girl."
“Impudent! How dare you take what is mine, mortal!”
Did he think of me that much...?
She blushed, forgetting her current situation. Her heart was beating like it was going to explode.
"If I can't have her, neither can you."
Suddenly a cold blade touched her neck. What did it mean?
Noah's confident voice came to her ears.
"Obediently give up if you don't want me to kill this girl!"
As such, the first hostage crisis against a God in human history began.
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