Chapter 5: Solretta
Section 6: Truth Behind the Betrayal
“Well, there wasn’t any kind of line that was crossed or any particular principle I stood by. But my power, compared to him…….I was just no match against the evil dragon Osnell.”
Hadion’s voice cut off in a flat tone as if the enthusiasm she had shown earlier was a lie.
“Back then, I received a secret order from the Goddess and spearheaded an elite unit to subjugate Osnell. We managed to pull off a successful surprise attack and dealt a grievous blow to Osnell’s neck, but his power, it was far greater than I had ever dared to imagine.”
“I’ve never heard that Hadion fought Osnell before though?”
“I would imagine that to be the case. We resorted to a surprise attack and still had the tables turned on us. If word of that were to get out, morale amongst our allies would plummet. So my, our fight, was never revealed to the public.”
“Eh……then, they intentionally made Hadion out to be the bad guy? That’s the reason why everyone says you suddenly threw away your honor and ran? Isn’t that heartless?”
Carol’s cute eyebrows scrunched together as obvious anger started to boil over. Toslin was sitting next to her making a similar face, but she hadn’t said anything yet. Maybe she’s feeling something different from Carol because she and Hadion are both knights?
“It would be a mistake to jeopardize your position in a war over the future of the world to safeguard a single person’s honor.”
“But look, didn’t Hadion fight because the Goddess told her to? And yet the Goddess still treated Hadion like she was the villain……”
“She had to.”
Toslin cut Carol off. Normally a fist would be coming down right around now, but instead she was calmly using her words.
“Eh, why? Is Toslin on the Goddess’s side too? I don’t think I’m making a mistake here.”
“It’s not like that. The world isn’t so simple that you can divide everything into what’s right and what’s wrong.”
“……..I don’t get what Toslin’s saying.”
Carol turned her head away from Toslin.
“Ugh, enough…….my bad Hadion. Sorry to interrupt. It’s fine to ignore this girl, so go ahead and continue.”
“I’m not wrong!!”
“Haa, of course. You’re right, completely right.”
Toslin wrapped her arm around Carol’s head and started tenderly petting her. Carol looked like she still wanted to say something, but as the head petting continued, her expression gradually eased.
“For getting angry on our behalf, thank you. Werewolf maiden. However whatever befell my men and me was due to our own weakness. I myself hold no resentment towards the Goddess.”
Hadion once again started to speak, her quiet words affirming what Toslin had said.
“I was the only survivor. And exposed to Osnell’s wicked influence, I was corrupted by madness. In the end I became little more than a puppet, moving only if he willed it.”
“……..and that’s, the real reason behind the betrayal…….”
“It is as you say. But once again I must say, this is the result born from my own weakness. The blame for what happened does not lie solely on Osnell’s head.”
In that single instant, I was able to read the emotion in Hadion’s eyes. It was regret. That feeling of disgust towards herself over her own weakness has continued to torment her even after a thousand years have passed.
Perhaps, it might have been a flicker of emotion that only I could see. Maybe because I’m sitting the closest to her, maybe because there’s a special link connecting us together, but I might be the only one who noticed that change in the depths of her eyes. When I thought so, my chest started to hurt. It hurt, and so without thinking, I grabbed her hand.
“……when the Goddess Illya sealed Osnell in the Grief Sphere, I was locked away in that prison of darkness as well. But in hindsight, I now realize this was probably the Goddess showing me mercy.”
Staring at my hand covering hers, Hadion put her other hand on top of mine. Wrapped up in her grasp, I could feel the warmth of her body……..and how she was trembling ever so slightly.
“After spending a thousand years in the darkness, Osnell’s wicked influence gradually disappeared from my body. However, it was a gamble. I managed to regain my lost sanity, but it was only a matter of time before my mind would rot away in the darkness……”
Saying that much, Hadion began stroking my hair with her right hand while still holding my hand in her left.
“That gamble was…….almost a loss. At that time, I was about to crumble away. But then suddenly, somebody held out their hand to me.”
“Yes, that’s right. O wise maiden. Lovely damsel. Eloquent princess. You. Iris Calvafon…….your name, your voice, your very existence; it is my light, the stairway I have long hoped for.”
The hand gently brushing my hair smoothly slid down and wrapped itself around my shoulder. She moved close enough that I could feel her hot breath on my cheek as her eyes blinked several times as if she were trying to capture my image so that she may see me even with her eyes closed.
“Iris Calvafon. I will commit your name, your voice, your very being to my memory for all eternity. And once more hear my vow. I shall live only for you.”
My face was buried into the nape of her neck as she hugged me, strongly and firmly close to her. She had just gotten out of the bath, so the scent of the soap still clung to her heavily.
The usual Iris-san might get flustered and cause a commotion, but I didn’t feel that way right now.
I let her hug me just how she wanted, and just as she asked……..I clasped my hand around hers.