* * *
“This is strange.”
I don’t remember what time I went to sleep. It was already quite late in the evening.
It doesn’t matter what time I slept, this dream I had was inevitable, whether I slept in the early evening or in the early morning, I kept having the same dream.
But why? Why did I always dream of the past? Why does the child from yesterday bothered me so much?
“I need to accept that.”
Even as I grumbled discontentedly, the dream continued faithfully. The scene, seen from a third person’s perspective, was my first memory in life.
Looking at memories as if watching a play, it felt tiresome and boring. It wasn’t even a significant trauma.
It was just a sequence of my time in the orphanage. I don’t recall the exact emotions I felt from that time, but I seem to be quite happy. Everyone was kind to me, and it was enjoyable to be with the other children. Of course…
“Child, I’m your grandpa. Do you want to go home with your grandpa?”
I felt even happier when my grandfather appeared. I still remembered his hand, which firmly held mine. It was wrinkled, warm, and very big. It made the gray sky finally look blue.
When I tried to see my grandfather’s face that I no longer remember, the scenery suddenly changed.
This time, it was a battlefield.
“Please, someone save me! Please!”
…Ah, so it was because of this.
Now I understood why I had such a dream when I saw the child yesterday.
‘Even though ten years have passed, I have completely forgotten about it.’
I, too, had once begged desperately, clinging to someone’s feet.
On the day I possessed the body, the adults, who were supposed to be my parents, forcefully sent me to the battlefield.
They probably thought I had been possessed by a ghost when they noticed a sudden change in my personality. It would have been too difficult for them to handle me in the midst of a war.
Maybe they instinctively realized I wasn’t their child.
But still, I was lucky.
I had an enormous amount of mana that would make most swordmasters cry. In other words, I had a weapon to survive this battlefield.
“Child, will you hold my hand and survive this battlefield?”
The warm, wrinkled hand reached out to me once again.
The dream ended with me holding my grandpa’s hand.
When I opened my eyes, I saw the pitch-black ceiling. I touched my forehead and felt a cold sweat.
‘…It seems that I felt a slight sense of guilt.’
Surprisingly, a wry smile escaped my lips. I thought that such emotions had worn away and disappeared.
I quickly got up from the bed, fearing that if I stayed lying down, I would have another nightmare.
Though I briefly considered going to Merchen’s house, I immediately dismissed the thought. I didn’t want to blindly follow clichés just because I had a dream.
But once again, my arrogance got the best of me. It turned out that the flags don’t disappear so easily.
* * *
“Aaaaah!” I jumped out of bed and messed up my hair. My body felt heavy, and my neck was stiff. Even though I didn’t know for sure, I was certain that the dark circles under my eyes had grown at least two centimeters.
“How long do I have to keep having this damn dream?”
It had already been four days. I was sick of it.
For the past few days, I couldn’t get a proper night’s sleep because I would dream of the same nightmare whenever I closed my eyes. It felt like the nightmare would follow me for the rest of my life unless I saw that child’s face.
It was all because of the child’s actions and words that I saw the last time. Why did he beg me to save him, clinging to my clothes like that?
Rubbing my tired eyes, I got up, fearing that if I stayed lying down, I would have another nightmare. When I looked outside, I could see the sun gradually rising.
“Fine, I’ll just take a quick look and come back.” I thought I would check if Merchen was following my instructions properly. Once I confirmed that she was doing her job well, I could finally get some rest without worries.
I quickly got ready and set off. It was still chilly, probably because it was February. I should have worn a coat. I glanced at the door and infused mana into my feet.
Well, it didn’t matter since the coat would just be blown away by the wind anyway. I swiftly passed through the air, feeling the coldness.
Although Merchen’s house was quite a distance away, thanks to infusing mana into my movements, I arrived within a few minutes.
Knock, knock! I knocked on the door with a forceful tap. I might have knocked too hard because the surface of the door cracked with a sharp sound. I realized too late that I had misjudged the amount of force. I stopped my hand.
I didn’t expect it to break… It fell off more easily than I thought. Looking at the broken door, I glanced at Merchen’s house and quietly entered.
The living room was colder than I expected. It was even colder than outside. As if my body temperature was dropping, I rubbed my arms. Then, I noticed a crouched figure in a corner of the living room, covering his ears.
A small, thin body, tiny hands with chubby flesh. A head with disheveled, unnaturally colored hair sticking out from under a thin blanket.
It was the kid I knew.
Quickly, I approached and crouched down towards the child. The child’s body was trembling.
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