Hard Carry Support
[Translator – Daniel Shin]
[Proofreader – ilafy]
Chapter 103 - The Darkness Planted in a Pure White (1)
"This is me...?"
Users participating in the fight felt as if their bodies had gotten lighter.
Asrian's system, which used the brain waves of users, had boosted their moods.
Sometimes, a pleasant twitch happened.
They felt like they were going to be able to defeat any opponent.
That's right, the fight for Iluna's destiny had just begun.
* * *
"Where are we…?"
Louise looked around after waking up.
Once she stopped praying, the dark energy surrounding her scattered into the air.
The red magic circle also disappeared.
It was good that the unknown magic was canceled, but it was too soon to relax.
Hyun started looking around with a serious expression while trying to understand the situation.
The world that had a red sky and black sun…
'This is the Symmetrical World...'
He remembered what the female Priest had taught him.
<Heaven>-<Real World>-<Symmetrical World>-<Abyss>
The world was divided into those four dimensions.
People lived in the real world.
But if you prayed to a demon, you could access the Symmetrical World.
That happened if, while praying, your soul changed toward the Abyss. When that happened, you reached the Symmetrical World.
'But the level of «Pray» isn't high enough.'
From what he’d heard, your level of «Pray» had to be in the double digits to open the gate of the Symmetrical World.
Not only that, but it wasn't like he had been praying to a Demon.
The Angel summoning ceremony was about calling an Angel from the Heavens to the surface.
Hyun thought of a possibility.
'Is it possible that Louise...?'
Louise's prayer was probably stronger than his.
After all, the Priestess's prayer could directly reach the Transcendents' ears.
Even if he couldn't, maybe Louise had the ability to open the doors of the Symmetrical World.
"Who did you pray to…?" Hyun asked.
However, with a tearful expression on her face, Louise just shook her head.
"Ugh, I just… Did as they asked me to. I didn't think of anyone in particular…"
"Did you pray to a Demon?"
"There's no way I would Pray to something like that!" Louise said while raising her voice.
From her reaction, she didn't seem to be lying.
But then, how had they entered the Symmetrical World?
Hyun felt frustrated at the situation. He suddenly remembered the female Priest who had taught him about the Symmetrical World.
She was the only one he knew who had knowledge related to the place.
Because things he couldn't understand kept happening, he wished she'd appear to explain things to him.
It was at that moment…
"Long time no see!"
Hyun was surprised at the voice that appeared out of nowhere and subconsciously turned his head around.
Louise jumped up, and Ain got ready to fight.
A familiar-looking woman had suddenly appeared in front of the group.
He couldn't forget that tight Priest uniform with huge cleavage.
Hyun couldn't hide his surprise.
They do say that a tiger appears when you talk about it—she was that weird Priest he'd met in the Twilight Temple.
Her seductive way of speaking, despite her being a Priest, hadn't changed.
She looked at Ain and Louise alternately.
"So you're here!"
She fixed her gaze on Ain.
Hyun felt chills when their eyes met.
She wasn't talking to Ain, but him.
'She can see through «Assimilation»?'
Hyun changed the target of «Assimilation» to Louise just in case.
He almost got goosebumps.
The moment he changed the target of «Assimilation», her eyes moved from Ain to Louise.
"Oh, Louise. Long time no see!"
The female Priest greeted Louise.
Her sudden appearance and weird actions made Hyun alert.
When he thought about it, Louise had been locked in the Twilight Temple.
Maybe she was part of the same team as the masked Assassins who had been chasing them.
Hyun quickly questioned Louise through the soul.
「Louise… Do you know her?」
「No, she isn't someone I know…」
「Really? But she seems to know you.」
Sadly, he couldn't get any information about her from Louise.
"I'm not going to devour you, so you don't need to be so defensive."
Did she notice he was on alert?
She spoke first.
"You learned «Pray» from me as if it was nothing...! Why are you so wary of me now?"
The female Priest spoke jokingly, but Hyun couldn't get himself to fully trust her.
Was it because his senses had gotten sharper due to his high state of alert? Hyun's tone of voice changed.
"You… What are you?"
"My name? I'm Rutia! Didn't I tell you the last time…? Please don't forget from now on."
Hyun began thinking.
He'd never heard the name Rutia while playing Asra.
Just like Louise, she was an unknown variable.
Could he trust her?
Was she someone trustworthy?
She was the NPC who had taught him about «Pray» and the Symmetrical World.
But she'd never told him her real identity.
'Although she doesn't seem to be an enemy…?'
Maybe she was frustrated because Hyun kept doubting her, the female Priest, Rutia, stretched out her chest and spoke again.
"I’ve helped you before!"
* * *
Translator - Daniel Shin
Proofreader - ilafy
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* * *
"I helped you while you were lost in the middle of the forest… But it seems like you didn't know that was me."
"That was you…?"
According to her words, while he was escaping with Louise from the Twilight Temple and had gotten locked in the forest labyrinth, it was her who had helped them.
After listening to a reasonable explanation, Hyun could lower his defensive stance slightly.
There's no way she would've known what happened at that moment if she weren't there.
"Why did you help us?"
After slightly licking her lips, she continued talking.
"I'm that kid's guardian."
"Yes. I can't tell you the exact details… But I promise you that I'm not lying."
Hyun looked at Louise and Rutia alternately.
From Louise's expression, that seemed to be the first time she'd heard about it…
But Louise had lost her memories. Maybe, before she’d lost them, Rutia had really acted as her guardian.
'I don't think it's all a lie.'
But there was something he was sure about.
—Rutia didn't think of Louise as her enemy.
If she wanted to harm her, she probably could've already done it.
Hyun concluded that was enough for him not to think of her as their enemy.
'Let's hear her explanation first.'
After quickly ordering his thoughts, Hyun asked her the thing he wanted to know the most.
If Louise wasn't the culprit, she was the second most suspicious person.
"Then was it you who opened the doors to the Symmetrical World?"
"Of course not!"
Rutia shook her hands.
It was an unexpected answer.
From what he knew, Rutia had the ability to move between both worlds freely, so Hyun was sure she was the culprit.
It was then that an unexpected name came out of her mouth.
"Do you know Keidrial?"
"How did you…?"
Hyun was really surprised.
That was the first time he had heard that name from the mouth of an NPC.
All the people from Heavens, even the Heavenly Beings, called her Great Demon of Deception. He had never heard someone calling her by her name.
But what she said next surprised him even more.
"The reason why the Symmetrical World was opened, the reason why this kid can't be touched by the sun… It's all because of Keidrial."
"Hmm…? But what Louise has is the Stigma of Light…"
"No, it isn't a magic like that!"
Louise's shoulder shrugged at Rutia, who vehemently denied it.
Hyun nervously waited for the next words.
He felt that something important was about to come from her mouth.
As the surroundings became quiet, she coughed once and continued.
"It isn't a magic. The seed of Darkness has been planted in her."
"Yes. Keidrial planted 'Darkness' in this kid's subconsciousness. It's usually hidden but activates once the requirements are met."
Rutia's explanation was something like this:
Praying makes you go close to your subconscious.
But if that subconscious is contaminated while praying, the direction of your 'Empathy' can change directions.
That's how, without knowing, you could get close to the Abyss while praying instead of the Heavens.
"The reason you entered the Symmetrical World is that the direction of her prayer changed."
In a sense, it was similar to hacking.
The seed planted in her subconscious was a viru, and the key to activating that virus was prayer.
"Planting the seed is a strategy that 'Deception' often uses."
According to her, Louise had been engulfed in darkness for a while.
She couldn't pray to an Angel from the beginning.
Because of the Evil's Seed, all her prayers would end up reaching a Demon.
According to Rutia, that was why the Symmetrical World had opened.
"Is something like that really possible…?"
"It isn't impossible!"
He couldn't easily believe in her.
If it had been the first time he had seen her, he wouldn't have trusted her words.
'Wait, maybe it's that?'
Suddenly, a memory came back to Hyun.
In the video of the Evil's Seed event, Keidrial had placed her hands on Louise's head.
—And Louise screamed in pain.
Louise's scream that had spread through the Heavens gave Hyun chills.
After she was done screaming, demonic energy had surrounded Louise.
Was that evidence that she had an Evil Seed planted in her?
If that was what happened, Louise not remembering her childhood was probably because of Keidrial.
You probably couldn't have your memories intact while your consciousness was being contaminated.
"But there's one more condition that can activate the Seed."
Rutia's explanation kept going on for a little bit.
"That's the sun!"
What Rutia said overturned Hyun's hypothesis.
He thought Louise had received a curse called Stigma of Light.
Several clues became intertwined again.
"The sunlight activates the Evil's Seed. It would be good if the light only influenced the seed…"
Without realizing it, Hyun was clenching his fists.
He didn't know why, but he didn't want to hear what she was about to say next.
"The consciousness that has been contaminated with Darkness burns together with the seed and cannot go back to its original state."
"Does that mean… That she'll die?"
Rutia just nodded at Hyun's question.
The knot had finally untied, but he didn't feel good about it.
‘Was she speaking the truth’?
He could doubt her words, but he thought the chances of them being true were really high.
There were too many things that matched to dismiss it as nonsense.
'So it wasn't a Stigma of Light...'
But he still hoped Rutia's words were a lie.
He wished she was wrong.
If her words were true… That meant that Louise's situation was worse than he’d initially thought.
The destiny of the little girl who'd lived her entire life alone was harsher than he’d imagined.
Hyun's heart began beating faster.
「H-Hyun… Are you okay…?!」Louise asked, flustered.
Because of «Assimilation», she had felt her heart rate increasing.
'If the sun touches her, she'll die...?'
The truth was that Hyun had felt relieved when he’d met Louise on Iluna.
The Stigma of Light was a magic that tracked the target's location via the sun.
He thought it would take a lot of time for the unknown people targeting her to reach Iluna and that he could use that time to hide her once more.
Even if Iluna became the territory of the Abyss, he'd already thought of a way to escape.
But Rutia's words made Hyun's plans useless.
Things wouldn't become dangerous after the sun touched her.
If that happened, everything would be over.
Hyun tried to calm down.
He took a glimpse at Louise—she was looking at him anxiously.
Was it that she didn't understand the situation she was in?
Hyun already knew what was going to happen thanks to his experience in the previous game.
In Asra Online, the battle on Iluna had ended with the Abyss's Forces winning.
Of course, there was no guarantee that history would repeat, but the strategies of both factions was probably similar to the ones each had in the previous game.
Because the Angel summoning ceremony had failed, the chances of the Heavens Forces winning was low.
If everything went according to history, the sun would soon shine over Iluna.
But Louise couldn't stand under the sun, and she couldn't survive amid monsters.
Death was approaching Louise.
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