“… I asked you something unnecessary.”
When I saw Walter bowing his head in apology, I felt was fully brought back to reality. I couldn’t return the blood-stained handkerchief, so I shoved it into my pocket. I nodded, beckoning for him to go outside, and he walked slowly as if he had entered the castle for the first time.
“How would you feel if you couldn’t die?” I asked him as we walked along.
“I’d be happy. I could marry Shelly,” he smiled.
“That’s a shame. If you got married now, I’d give you a lot of congratulatory money.”
“Oh! I was surprised by the news of Acrab’s prosperity. It’s a shameless request, but I’d appreciate it if you could look after Shelly in the future. Umm, you might hate these words, but I’m asking a favour from you as a comrade of time magic.”
“What a terrible comrade.”
Walter laughed loudly at my disgusted expression. It was the first sincere smile and laugh I’d seen and heard.
A feeling of regret pressed against my chest. ‘If only I had noticed the changes in Hoiore a little earlier… No, even if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to save Walter.’
In order to save him, he had to know at least four months before he was set to die. During those times, I was learning manners and etiquette from Heulin to Acrab so that I wouldn’t make any mistakes. It was a relaxing and peaceful time.
Why did I have to suffer from guilt and thoughts like ‘I could’ve saved him?’ I had too much of a saviour complex. I couldn’t alter reality that was already set. And yet…
I came back alive from time magic. It left a good precedent and gave them research results. And now Hoiore was affected by it and Walter had to die like this.
“I’m so sorry, Walter.”
“There’s no reason for the Count to feel sorry for me. In fact, you helped me say goodbye, so I should be thanking you.”
“… No, if I had been here a little earlier… maybe I could’ve come to help you.”
“If the Count had been friends with Shelly, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Please be her friend from now on.
Walter spoke those words softly. He was only worried about the woman he loved until the very end.
The garden of Yeongju Castle was covered with snow that glittered in the sunlight. It was just as beautiful and dazzling as Walter’s platinum blonde hair, and it made my eyes sting.
“Don’t worry about Sheliak. As your comrade in time magic, I’ll keep my promise to you,” I solemnly said.
“Then I rely on you.”
He shut his eyes tightly. Although I didn’t explain anything, he just stood in the garden, looking at me as if he knew what I was going to do. I reached out towards Walter, who had his eyes closed. He was only five steps away.
There were many ways to destroy magic. A spell from a magic circle would mean a magic circle would have to be destroyed; a spell triggered by chanting could be destroyed by a corresponding magic or deflected by a stronger spell.
However, there was only one way to destroy this type of forbidden magic: it was to wrap it with mana from the outside, or to break it from the inside. Kaichen broke the time magic in Acrab from the outside. So, there was no damage to me as a medium, but destroying magic from the inside was a different story.
“I’m not a wizard, but I’ve thought and guessed about a few things while I was stuck in here. I’ve also heard about Acrab,” Walter said with a strained smile. I remained silent.
“When I saw you coming inside without destroying the magic from the outside, I was somewhat convinced that this was the only way.”
“I’m sorry Walter… In the end, I forced you to make a sacrifice.”
“I should’ve died anyway. You just made things stray back to their original course.”
My chin trembled. ‘You weren’t meant to die…’ I couldn’t say those words to him.
I reached out and clenched my fists and immediately black petals fluttered around the area, contrasting against the beautiful white castle. In the midst of its splendour, a man stood – its lonely prince.
I couldn’t help but lament, ‘Master, please help me. It’s difficult, I’m having a very hard time.’
I slowly closed my eyes. Black magic poured out from the petals of the black roses and reached out towards him. They found the small crystal deep inside of him, which surrounded Walter with mana. Everything was easy; it was a road I had walked on before.
‘No… for me it was out of a selfish choice.’ Walter stopped time for Sheliak. I must treat this instance thoughtfully.
To come up with such an insidious and meticulous plan, I knew what Exchetra was hoping for at the very last moment. I wouldn’t give it to her.
My mana shattered the crystal in Walter’s body. There was no sound, and yet a huge energy twisted and turned, as if released. It was what I’d felt once before. I could feel a huge force from the outside, but I was confused as to why my mana was being absorbed by the twisted power of time magic.
Finally, a cold wind blew against my skin. Time that was frozen began to move once again. There was the sound of familiar noises, of civilization. When I opened my eyes, I saw Walter lying on the ground.
Time had returned for everyone, but I couldn’t move, as if my own time had stopped.