“Oh, why did I bother to rescue you? You’re so annoying,” Hart grumbled as he closed the bookshelf door and came downstairs to the first floor.
“I thought you said I was your only dog.”
“What’s the point of having a dog when they’ve already moved out of the house to live on their own?”
At first glance, he seemed like any other grandfather worried about his granddaughter. But his true identity was that of one of the few grand mages on the continent.
Hart Opheloa. The master of space magic and the benefactor who raised me, when I had been abandoned by my parents.
“Hmph, my leg hurts! Sit down quickly!”
Of course, he was just a tsundere grandfather who couldn’t express his emotions honestly at this point. But for some reason, his lips were slightly upturned, and he was very pleased that I had come looking for him.
“Sit down! My leg hurts.” As he said that, we moved to the dining table and sat down there.
Then milk and bread flew out of the kitchen and were automatically set up in front of us.
“So, why did you come, Louisa?”
“Oh, it’s nothing, but do you think it would be okay for one child to come and live here?” Hart’s eyes widened in surprise at my words.
Then, for some reason, he couldn’t hide his happy expression, and his lips curled up.
“…Hohoho. Well, you’re still a kid. Well, if you’re 19, you’re young!”
No, not me. I opened my mouth to correct the misunderstanding. But before I could say anything, he grabbed my hand.
“Why are you asking such things? This is your house. Just come in and live!”
It’s not me though?
“You have suffered, right? As expected, the outside world is dangerous, Louisa. Live safely with this grandpa of yours now. Stop playing with knives!”
Now, with tears in his eyes, he pleaded with me.
“Grandpa, just listen to me…”
“Let’s learn magic again. You have talent!”
…He used to complain that I was the first child who was so talentless after being picked up.
“I even made an introductory book that a 2-year-old child can learn. Don’t worry.”
…How can he be so disappointed when he said I’m less talented than a one-year-old?
“No, grandpa. I…”
“Oh, it’s so easy! You don’t have to do that kind of knife wielding!”
This was too nonsensical… I sighed deeply and forced my hand out of his grip.
Then, he grabbed it even tighter. The warmth coming from him was comforting. From that warmth, I could understand his heart.
Truly, when I see this, I suspect that we’re just not connected by blood.
I squinted my eyes.
“Grandpa’s name isn’t Hart, it’s ‘Seo Jin-hak’, right? Tell me honestly. Can I really trust you?”
Maybe my grandfather possessed him and followed me. When I look at Hart, I think of my real grandfather in Korea. His personality was so similar to Hart’s, and he always bought me everything if it made me happy. He said he would wait until I graduated from college, and if I really got my diploma, he would smile and close his eyes comfortably.
His words and actions, always thinking of me, reminded me of Hart. But Hart, perhaps unfamiliar with Korean names, frowned and scolded, saying, “Why do I have such an ugly name? Don’t leave, you fool!”
“That was my real grandpa’s name.”
“…W-what! Such an ugly name! Yes, yes! Whether it’s real or not!”
He tried to cover it up, but I already heard everything, Grandpa.
“Hoho! So, when are you planning on coming back to live with me, Louisa? I don’t mind even if you start living today, but there are some things to tidy up.”
It was clear that he was trying to change the subject, but I decided to let it go. Instead, I took the warm bread in front of me and proceeded to correct Grandpa’s misunderstanding.
“No. Not me, but someone else.”
His expression became blank, as if he had misheard.
“I picked up a little kid who was about 13.”
“…What did you say?”
“Please take care of him, Grandpa. You love kids.”
“You mean, you’ll go back to your house, and…it’s not you?”
I nodded lightly and drank a glass of milk. Grandpa lowered his head and clenched his fists.
His fists seemed to be trembling; was it just an illusion? At that moment, my body suddenly levitated and I was flung out of the door.
“Get out, you dog! Get out! I don’t want to see your face!”
When I raised my head, Grandpa, holding a cane from somewhere, was hitting me with it.
His voice was filled with anger, but his face was the opposite. No, I’m the one being kicked out; why does Grandpa have that kind of expression as if he were abandoned?
“I will never! I won’t take anyone else other than you; find someone else!”
The door closed with a strong force, and it seemed like it would never open again.
“Didn’t I say to close the door after I’m done talking?”
I pounded on the door as if the whole alley would shake. But the door remained tightly closed.
Not only that, but every time I knocked, an electric shock got stronger.
“You’re just a petty old man.”
“You’re even pettier!” He answered me back.
I crossed my arms and chuckled at his attitude.
“No matter what you say, I won’t change my mind! Go back!”
As if there were CCTV on the door, if I were to do something, I’d certainly get a sharp response.
“Okay, okay. I’ll come with the kid next time.”
“Don’t come back!”
Anyway, he wrote me a note to visit within a few days. But today, it didn’t seem like a good day, so I turned around and walked away. When I got out of the alley, there was a new corpse at the statue that wasn’t there when I came. Even on a dark night, it was a ghastly sight, but I passed by without much thought. The woman who would have been scared by that was already gone long ago.
If there was only one thing that comes to mind when looking at the corpse, it would be that it might have been that child in that fountain if I hadn’t rescued him.
‘I still have some conscience left.’
I thought I was becoming a monster. I killed people to stay alive. Even if I only killed those who were full of malice towards me, I have committed unimaginable murders hundreds, thousands of times.
Now, after 10 years, I thought that the sense of justice I had overflowing in Korea had completely disappeared. However, that pitiful child’s gaze somehow awakened the weak emotions buried inside me.
‘Did I do the right thing by saving him?’
If I didn’t even have a hint of guilt towards the child, I would be a ruthless person. And if, by chance, I returned to Korea after this possession, I would have been treated as a psychopath. As I imagined myself returning to Korea, I had a delusion.
‘Going back to Korea. I should have wished for it.’
While erasing the image of my grandfather and friends from my mind, I headed towards my next destination. Though Hart was my first option, I still had a second option after being rejected.
I walked towards Rivael’s house. Unlike other places, this alley was unusually clean, with no trash in sight. It was a perfect environment for a child to live in.
While scoring various aspects, I arrived at his house. My house was strangely shaped, unlike Rivael’s house. Planks made up for the support of my house. Meanwhile, Hart’s house had a door in the alleyway.
“He’s still the same.”
However, that house was a temple. I approached the two statues of goddesses standing in front of the door. Unlike the statues scattered around the streets with bloodstains all over them, the goddess statues were pure white, without a speck of dirt. Each of them held a weapon, one a sword and the other a staff.
As I looked at the weapons they were holding, the statues turned their direction towards me as if they could sense my gaze.
Clang! I easily dodged the fierce weapons flying towards me. Then, all at once, the gaze of the statues with no eyeballs turned towards me.
It was during this tense standoff that I heard a calm voice from behind me.
“Oh my, who disturbed our goddesses at this time of night?”
Even though he must have known who it was, his voice was unnaturally cheerful. When I turned my head, I saw a man with dirty blonde hair and dark gray eyes shining brightly.
“I would like to see the human who pours his divine power into the statue with my own eyes.”
“You had best stop this now if you don’t wish to see the necks of your goddesses’ smashed.”
“Haha, Miss Louisa. How can you talk so casually about what would anger the gods?”
“Don’t you think your actions are more likely to anger the gods? Where is the human who pours his divine power into the statue right in front of me?”
Even though I didn’t say anything, my true feelings must have shown on my face because he gave me a rare cough and returned the statues to their original positions.
“Are you using the divine power given to you to indulge in your hobbies, even the goddesses?”
“Well, I wonder. Perhaps they’re enjoying it too?”
“Let’s go inside. I can’t just stand here and watch while you say what you want to say.”
Before I could say anything, Rivael led me inside. We arrived at the sitting room. Even though there were probably not many people who visited the temple, the sitting room he had prepared was quite spacious and had a pleasant atmosphere.
He poured me a cup of warm chamomile tea and sat across from me.
“So what brings you here?” After leisurely taking a sip of his tea, he spoke first. It was a surprising statement, and his merciful face was slightly distorted.
“It’s not very quiet here, is it?”
“Hm, is that so?” It must have been an unexpected remark because he made a slightly awkward expression.
“If you would like, I can make a place for you.”
…Why does everyone try to make me sit at their house as soon as I open my mouth? Read ahead here.