I Became The Academy’s Blind Swordsman - Chapter 168: Denial becomes confession
Chapter 168: Denial becomes confession
Bernice, who had summoned me to the garden because she had something to tell me, walked quietly through the garden, examining the flowers but saying nothing else.
I slowed my stride as I followed her.
The scent of the colorful flowers and the crisp night air cleared my head.
Bernice’s silver hair was beautiful against the stillness of the night as she led the way.
Her hair glistened with every ray of moonlight.
Soon, she stops and her tousled silver hair is stilled.
She turned her head to look at me, and her lips parted.
“…That was a funny story, wasn’t it?”
A funny story.
It sounded like she was talking about the formation of the hero party.
“…I think it was a fun story.”
My shaky voice echoed through the garden.
Bernice paused to see if she could think of anything, then burst out laughing.
Bernice laughed out loud.
Even the sound of her laughter had a hint of nobility to it. As she laughed happily amidst the scent of the flowers, she was very beautiful.
She looked so happy.
I tilted my head, wishing I could see more of her like that, but I couldn’t figure out what she was laughing about.
“It’s just that… it’s just that…”
Bernice’s smile faded, and she wiped at the corners of her eyes with a snow-white glove.
“It was my first time.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that the answer you gave me just now was the first lie you ever told me, and I thought it was kind of funny…”
I replied that it was funny.
I said it without thinking, so I didn’t care if it was true or false, and I didn’t think it was an answer I should care about.
Being a porter is a serious matter.
“Hmm… Is that why you didn’t want to go on the journey with me?”
Bernice leaned back and looked up at me.
“No, it’s not like that, but…”
“You might as well accept it, my dear warrior, you sounded completely sincere.”
“You mean it wasn’t a joke?”
“Yes. I didn’t even have to use your powers, I could feel it in your eyes.”
I sighed, rubbing my chin.
I need to learn some other tricks besides swords.
Actually, if there was another skill, I already had it, including Sheddie, but it wasn’t a power I was willing to show everyone.
“Maybe you’re just not greedy,” said Bernice, “whereas everyone else would be desperate to get into the party, be it as a porter or anything else, because it’s a chance to win all the riches and honors in the world.”
Bernice trailed off then muttered, “Maybe you have other reasons to be reluctant…Maybe you don’t want to do it.”
Maybe I just don’t like the idea of being a porter.
In retrospect, I don’t think she even heard me in the ballroom.
“Zetto, I want you to make me a promise.”
Bernice held out her little finger to me.
I suddenly wonder what she’s promising.
I hesitate, and she backs me up.
Eventually, I reached out and clasped mine with hers.
“We’ll go capture the Demon King together.”
I nod weakly, and Bernice’s eyes narrow as she stares at me.
She slowly opens her eyes and speaks.
“No matter what… We still have a few years to go before the Demon King’s resurrection, so we might as well take care of ourselves until then, right?”
“Haha, at least I’ll have my limbs intact to carry my luggage.”
Bernice struggled to smile at my joke.
I guess she didn’t find it funny.
She turns her back on me and walks out of the garden once more.
I quickly catch up with her and ask her a question.
“So you have something to say…”
“The unfinished business?”
“Because our conversation got cut off last time.”
“It certainly did.”
“It was a mess then, and I’m guessing it’s just as messy now, because I wanted to have the conversation in a quieter space.”
Clearly, I had a lot of explaining to do, and it was cluttered and messy. That was part of the point, but… It must have been awkward for Bernice, and she needed time to organize her thoughts.
“By the way, is this the first time we’ve ever had a conversation, just the two of us?”
“…I guess so.”
It was the first time I’d ever had a conversation without Sierra, who had been around my waist before.
Bernice smiles briefly then walks out of the garden into the night. The garden was quite large, and she could walk for miles and miles and never see the end.
“Didn’t you say the other day that it was nice to be able to hear my voice?”
“What about now?”
Bernice turned around and looked at me with a look of expectation on her face.
I blurted out the truth.
“…I am happy. As a knight of a saint, how could it not be good to hear her voice?”
I trailed off, feeling a little embarrassed while Bernice licked her lips.
“Hmm… Actually, many of my knights are reluctant to speak with me… and not just my knights… People who know of my powers usually feel that way.”
The power to recognize lies and truth.
We all tell lies, big and small, to avoid being found out.
In that sense, their reluctance to talk with Bernice’s is a surprisingly normal reaction.
Power is an indescribably useful thing, but it also has its downsides.
“…Of course, I’m not lonely, as I have many good people around me, including Zetto.”
“More than that, I’m honored to hear your voice… Isn’t that something you’d only say to a lover, no matter how much you think about it?”
Bernice said, frowning slightly.
Looking back on it now, it was a bit embarrassing.
At the very least, it didn’t seem like something that would be exchanged between a saint and a knight.
I scratched my head in frustration.
Bernice walked over to me, grabbed my lowered chin and lifted it, forcing my eyes to take in her face.
She had a sharp nose, long silver hair, and a single eye that was obscured by her long hair.
Then Bernice’s moist lips parted.
“The saint’s knight… I dare say you coveted the saint…?”
“Uh, nothing like that, just as a knight…”
A reflexive reply.
Only afterward did I notice Bernice’s blush.
Oh, so that answer sounded false.
This is how it must have felt to Bernice.
Zetto, the Saint’s knight…was coveting the saint.
It sounded so dangerous that my reflexive denial became an unexpected confession.
“The knight of a saint…How dare he covet a saint…?”
I was just trying to tease him and see the embarrassment on his face.
I wasn’t expecting anything.
“Well, not really, just as a knight…”
But Zetto’s reply to the joking question was a lie.
That is to say Zetto, the knight of the saint, was lusting after the saint…That’s all it sounded like to me.
“Zetto wants me…?
The thought flashed through my mind quickly, making me both happy and extremely embarrassed.
Flustered, I pulled my hand away from his face.
There was a breathless silence but I quickly turned my head away and managed to stammer out.
“No, I was joking. There’s no way Zetto would…”
No, he wouldn’t.
I should have said…but I couldn’t, because it was true.
I wanted to let it go, but my power would not allow it.
There was a strange atmosphere between Zetto and me. It was uncomfortable, as if neither of us were comfortable around the other.
I blinked away the fever that had risen in my face and slowly took in the sight of him.
White bandages, hair the color of the night sky, a sharp nose and a slender jaw line.
Zetto was a mysterious figure.
At first, it was curiosity.
After searching for him, I found him.
Little did I know, however, that a revelation would soon follow.
Every now and then, he would point me in the right direction so I couldn’t give up on him.
I couldn’t give him up so I took him and I made him my knight.
What have I gained?
I was able to capture a vicious demon.
I thought that in capturing the demon, I benefited both God and myself, who had a mission.
I thought it was a revelation in that sense.
I thought that the feelings I had for him during the process were just accidental but when I realized how he felt I couldn’t take it lightly.
I felt that I shouldn’t let my relationship with him grow any deeper than this, that if I did, it would make it harder for me to lose him… I would be breaking my God’s command to not touch the curse that lurked in his heart.
‘This… Is this a test from the gods?’
For the first time, I don’t understand the will of the gods so I asked the Lord.
‘My dear child… I only want you to be happy.’
The Lord spoke thus.
I couldn’t understand it anymore.
Where could happiness be?
I knew that if I accepted his heart now, I would only end up miserable.
There is no telling how long he will be able to keep the flame of life burning.
I thought of the platinum-haired girl who had come to visit me once, Aizel Ludwig and I had a vague suspicion that it was up to her to break Zetto’s curse because she looked desperate.
She must be in love with him.
So it wasn’t my turn to step in, I thought.
All I could do was lighten his load, make him happy for the time he had left.
That’s what I thought but as fate would have it Zetto had me in his heart. Not Aizel, but me.
Inwardly, I hoped so since I had always had him in my heart.
I hadn’t had much contact with him, but I had fallen in love with him.
Zetto made me feel things I hadn’t felt since I became a saint, things that might be small to others, but to me they were invaluable.
He treated me like a woman, not a saint to be admired.
So I can’t help but fall in love with him.
That’s why it felt like a trial.
I was happy, but my heart was heavy.
I felt like I knew how this story would end.
I wondered if only two desperate women would be left in the end.
As I watched, Zetto seemed worried that the pursing of his lips was giving away his feelings.
I had to choose.
Not as Bernice, the Saint of Innocence, but as Bernice, the woman.
I had to decide what to make of his heart.
The happiness in front of me…Should I chase it?
What would happen to Aizel?
Thoughts raced through my mind and I finally made a decision.
I walked over to Zetto and grabbed his hand but he shook his head and reacted with bewilderment.
I knew that Zetto had the ability to feel things, so I didn’t need to hold his hand as we walked down the street.
He’s been following along just fine so far.
That wasn’t what I meant.
“…I hold on because I want to hold on.”
I hung my head low.
‘I didn’t realize it was so embarrassing to be unable to tell a lie…’
I took Zetto’s hand, hid my blush, and walked forward in silence.
The silence of the garden somehow made it seem even more beautiful. How could the world seem so beautiful just by holding hands?
I had chosen.
Even if it ended in tragedy I chose to walk with him and carry what he carried just like I am holding his hand now.
I wanted to be a “light” in his dark world.
Nothing happened yet and he wouldn’t become a pale corpse overnight.
“…I must keep my promise.”
Nothing should happen to him until the Hero Party is formed.
I wanted him to survive.
“I will keep my word.”
There was no falsehood in Zetto’s reply, and that fact gave me a great deal of comfort.
He must be doing his best.
As Saint Bernice and Zetto were taking time to confirm each other’s hearts a demon was walking through the night.
He wore a robe that hid the black horns that should have been on his forehead, making him look quite human.
His blood-red eyes peeked through the robe and stared at the humans passing through the bustling streets.
He clicked his tongue.
“Tsk, tsk, we’ve wasted time on nothing.”
Murka, the Legion Commander’s right-hand man, finally stepped onto human soil.
“Aizel still hasn’t been dealt with…I wonder why these incompetents can’t get their act together…”
Murka doesn’t know yet that he is destined to fight a blind man he has never heard of.