IANEWtbaSML 3.12

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Chapter 3.12

Even though it was unintentional, he still personally killed that world’s male lead, causing everything he painstakingly worked towards to fall into ruin. Therefore, the moment he returns to the space between worlds and spots Zhao Xihe, his mind blanks.

Not heeding the faint ache in his body from experiencing death again, and not bothering to check the scores he got for this task, Sui Yuan springs towards the senior actor, wishing to vent his repressed anger and frustration.

The first time. This is the first time Sui Yuan discovers he can get so mad at a single person. This is also the first time he breaks his principle of ‘use words, don’t resort to violence’ as he thumps Zhao Xihe’s chest with a clenched fist.

A strained smile on his face, Zhao Xihe doesn’t attempt to dodge or block it, simply grunting in pain as Sui Yuan’s punch connects.

That one sound snaps Sui Yuan out of his anger. Recalling that the other man has also just experienced death – furthermore, at his own hands – and the chest area should still be sore, he finds himself hesitating to hit him again. However, he still feels the other is getting off too lightly after causing him so much trouble. Struggling with himself for half a day, he finally settles on glaring murderously before walking away to see his score, the air around him screaming “don’t care about you anymore.”

Zhao Xihe lowers his head and rubs his nose to conceal the upturned corners of his mouth. Seeing Sui Yuan’s pissed and sulky expression makes him want to draw the other into his arms and pamper him. It’s a shame that he has to restrain himself from going through with his desires.

Striding over to the globe of light, he stiffens as soon as he registers the score gotten from this task. Heaving a defeated sigh, he glances at Sui Yuan. Sure enough, the other’s marks was terrible. Sullen face, drooping shoulders and hanging head, he looks extremely pitiful. The system labelled 5237 seems to be comforting Sui Yuan as best it can, rubbing its head against its partner’s body as though it can physically elevate his misery. From time to time, it will turn to Zhao Xihe. Whether that system’s hostility is directed at 0007 or himself is debatable.

Standing there in silence, Zhao Xihe doesn’t walk away, simply waiting until Sui Yuan finishes moping. When the other eventually stirs and prepare to leave for the next world, Zhao Xihe shadows him wordlessly.

Although he refuses to look at Zhao Xihe, Sui Yuan is well aware of the other’s presence close behind, as well as the intense stare aimed at the back of his head. As he asks 5237 to prepare to send him into another world, Sui Yuan abruptly snaps his head towards Zhao Xihe. “Don’t follow me into the next world! I don’t want to see you anymore! You liar!”

Smiling faintly, Zhao Xihe replies, unperturbed, “Sorry, I can’t do that.”

Sui Yuan freezes, clearly not expecting him to be so shameless, with no trace of guilt in his words.

“Why not?!”

“Because…” Zhao Xihe shrugs and answers very honestly. “Because I like you.”

After experiencing three worlds together, Zhao Xihe has to admit that he indeed likes Sui Yuan.

He is fascinated by the other’s smile, his frowns and laughter. He likes the way Sui Yuan looks so serious when pondering ways to proceed through each assignment, the way he is obviously spitting in anger but forcibly restrains himself in order not to bring more pain to others. As long as Sui Yuan is here, everyone and everything else fades into the background. He can’t help exposing his real self in front of Sui Yuan and can’t bear to see the other suffering from pain, bullied by others, humiliated or cursed at. After obtaining the lowest score in his career, Zhao Xihe can no longer deny his feelings.

He knows that his every action in the previous world is all because he allowed Sui Yuan to lead him by the nose, resulting in him moving the story down a different path than what Sui Yuan desires.

This latest world that 5237 picked really made Zhao Xihe’s head ache. He entered it because of Sui Yuan, but couldn’t bear following the kind of scenes the original text had, requiring the male lead and supporting male lead to fight every time they meet with no chance of simply sitting down for a chat. Therefore, Zhao Xihe altered the storyline from the very beginning, while trying hard to conceal his true purpose from Sui Yuan.

Not giving the other any leeway to refuse, Zhao Xihe incessantly followed Sui Yuan, all the while thinking of ways to shorten the time of separation after Sui Yuan swallowed the source of darkness. If possible, he would kidnap Sui Yuan immediately after the deed and force him to undergo the purification ritual.

Either way, even if Zhao Xihe is well aware the other doesn’t have feelings for him, merely carrying this idea of ‘cannot let the male lead die’, he cannot help but feel joyous whenever Sui Yuan displays concern – whether it be an act or not. Sui Yuan can’t bear to harm him, stopping the blade before it claimed his life; he infiltrated the enemy headquarters in order to treat him; he doesn’t put his guard up around Zhao Xihe, allowing himself to be captured so easily; he doesn’t reject his hugs and kisses; he fell into despair and committed suicide after accidentally killing Zhao Xihe… Needless to say, Zhao Xihe does feel somewhat ashamed for deceiving his own self so blatantly. Still, these facts can only be buried deep inside his heart, never to be exposed.

Originally, he thought about tossing aside the storyline to live happily together with Sui Yuan after he was purified, but this dream was shattered when Sui Yuan made the firm resolve to die in the shrine.

Not wishing to kill Sui Yuan, and even more not wanting to let others kill him, Zhao Xihe eventually decided to leave that world first, at the same time placating his selfish nature by dying in Sui Yuan’s hands.

In the end, his actions inevitably led to Sui Yuan obtaining such low scores and earning him the other’s ire. Zhao Xihe doesn’t wish for the relationship between them to worsen, but it’s a pity that he understands his love for Sui Yuan will never be compatible with his (SY) determination to follow the script.

It is impossible for Zhao Xihe to simply be satisfied with interacting with Sui Yuan only in this space between worlds. He absolutely cannot bear the thought of each going to their own select worlds and spending years – decades, even – not being able to catch a single glimpse of the person he likes. Therefore, he will always follow Sui Yuan into whichever world he enters, play the role of the male lead and inevitably mess up the plot.

He likes Sui Yuan, so it is naturally impossible for him to act accordingly and become a couple with the female lead. In all the worlds, there is not a single individual willing to romance someone else in front of the person they love. Even an experienced actor like Zhao Xihe cannot do it.

Perhaps if he plays along with the plot, working diligently to keep the story mostly on track, he can be friends with Sui Yuan’s character, but that is merely friendship between colleagues. No one will fall in love with a person who is constantly getting together with someone else. And a naïve, low EQ person like Sui Yuan will certainly not like Zhao Xihe if he doesn’t pursue him single-mindedly. Being someone who has experienced countless relationships, Zhao Xihe was more aware about this point than anyone else.

Zhao Xihe wants Sui Yuan to like him. He wants love, not goddamned friendship.

Therefore, Zhao Xihe is destined to be the stumbling block in Sui Yuan’s path to promotion. In order to obtain this slice of paradise, in order to feel emotions again, he desperately wants to keep this person by his side. Before he discovers another better method, he can only keep following Sui Yuan and set himself against him, making the other man pay attention to and remember him forever, slowly imprinting his (ZXH) shadow in his (SY) heart.

Of course, just this isn’t going to be enough. He wants to make Sui Yuan understand that he is not trying to cause him trouble, or that Zhao Xihe finds him an eyesore. Rather, all this is because Zhao Xihe likes Sui Yuan. He knows this junior actor is soft-hearted and is willing to accept other’s goodwill, even if said kindness is a troublesome thing. By lowering his pride and sincerely declaring his feelings, he ensures that Sui Yuan will not hold him in contempt even if he might not be willing to accept his regards at this moment. And Zhao Xihe is not such an upright person that he wouldn’t stoop to exploiting those points.

“I like you,” Zhao Xihe repeats to the stunned Sui Yuan, a forced smile on his face. “Hence why I keep wanting to follow you and am incapable of sticking to the plot and getting into relationships with the female leads. I can’t help approaching you and let everyone misunderstand – no, one can’t exactly call it a misunderstanding, as it is my genuine intentions…”

The more Zhao Xihe talks, Sui Yuan can’t help retreating a few steps back, at a loss of what to say or do as a sliver of fright surfaces. While he has seen the caring, gentle look in Zhao Xihe’s eyes numerous times and has heard his tender declarations several times before, this is the first time he feels the senior actor is being genuine and honest, and he can’t help the rising sense of alarm.

Although he had mentally prepared himself for all sorts of reactions, Zhao Xihe is still unable to fully suppress the burst of disappointment and self-ridicule. “Which is why I am sorry. Even if I can’t get an answer from you, I still plan to follow along. And as before, I will absolutely not follow the plot and be intimate with the female lead.”

“I…you…” Sui Yuan doesn’t know what he should say. This situation is completely beyond him, and his three views are close to toppling…

“No need to say any more. I know what you are thinking.” Zhao Xihe shrugs, interrupting Sui Yuan’s stutter. “’I don’t like you’, ‘give up on me’, and so on, right? It’s a shame that I can’t do any of it.”

Unable to escape Zhao Xihe’s scorching stare, Sui Yuan eventually turns his head away, a hurried farewell tumbling from his lips before white rays of light envelops his body and whisks him away. Looking at the space Sui Yuan vacated in a rush, Zhao Xihe’s lips curl downwards, then shifts his gaze to his own system.

“Congratulations on your first rejection,” 0007 says in deadly earnest. Not waiting for its partner’s instruction, it opens the gateway leading to the exact same world Sui Yuan entered. “I look forward to your next attempt, master. I will definitely help you record the number of defeats you encounter.”

Zhao Xihe: “……No wonder 5237 dislikes you so much.”

0007: “……!!! Personal attacks are immoral! Taking your anger out on an innocent is not something a righteous person will do!”

Zhao Xihe: “I have never thought of myself as an honourable man. Besides, who is more lamentable? I, who dares to confess even if I know I will be rejected, or a certain rascal who don’t even dare open their mouth?”

0007: “……I will now transfer you to the next world. Please prepare yourself.”

Zhao Xihe: “This sudden change in topic is too obvious…”

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IANEWtbaSML 3.11

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Chapter 3.11

During the trial, Osmund continually insists that Sui Yuan’s only crime is awakening the source of darkness. With the Holy Son stubbornly sheltering the elf, the judge does not sentence him to death. The purification ritual is still compulsory, of course, but what comes next will have to wait until the process is over. If his ‘original personality’ is reinstated, then the judge will accept the Holy Son’s request, making him Sui Yuan’s guardian. If his evil nature still remains, then what awaits him is an execution.

Everyone present quietly accepts this verdict, including Sui Yuan who is simply waiting for an opportunity to escape and seek death.As according to the original story, the security detail within the shrine tasked with guarding Nardred is extremely strict, which is why his sole chance of escaping is during the ritual itself. Hence, Sui Yuan allows the day of preparation for the ritual to pass smoothly and doesn’t put up a struggle when he is finally led to the altar.

The Heavenly race’s priests stand in formation, surrounding the altar as Sui Yuan is chained to the middle of their circle. Osmund, Aurora and the other holy knights position themselves a distance away from the altar, a few paces away from the only entrance of the shrine. The tranquil silence is heavy with nervous tension as everyone’s gaze is fixed attentively on the ritual, waiting with bated breath.

The priests begin to chant in unison, and the four crystals encircling the altar gradually emits resplendent, golden rays of light.

As the light magic creates a barrier enshrouding the entire altar, the holy chains binding Sui Yuan slowly unravels. Enveloped in light magic, an excruciating pain as though his flesh is being ripped apart piece by piece burns through his body. This level of agony is exactly the same as what he experienced that day, when he swallowed the source of darkness.

Gritting his teeth and pushing through the pain, Sui Yuan’s eyes fall on the crystal facing the east. According to the story, that area is the weakest point of the array. When the original Nardred bet his life in his final attempt to flee, he unexpectedly manages to reduce that crystal to smithereens, thus causing the barrier to collapse and the ritual to fail. Now, he has to target it in order for the scene to play out appropriately.

With a low snarl, a black blade materialises in Sui Yuan’s right hand. Aurora’s sobbing plea that he endures for a while longer is ignored as he hacks away at the tendrils of light reaching for him.

Brandishing the razor-sharp sword, he futilely tries to keep the endless streams of magic from wrapping around his limbs. Little by little, he inches towards the eastern side of the altar. As soon as he is within reach, he switches targets instantly, slicing out at the crystal rather than the ropes of light around his left arm.

“Not good!” A priest yells, but his warning comes too late. The crystal shatters immediately and the barrier collapses. A dark shadow flashes across the shrine, heading straight for the entrance. “Quick, catch him!”

Sui Yuan feels his power returning in full force the moment he steps away from the altar. Although his physical body is weak from being confined for a period of time, his magic alone is enough for him to put up a bit of a fight.

Not even sparing a single glance for the other guards charging forward to stop him, he heads directly towards his predestined opponent. Black blade clashes against golden sceptre, producing a sharp, ringing noise that echoes throughout the building upon collision. Anticipation flares in Sui Yuan’s eyes, but is completely disregarded by the other man.

Every strike and stab of his weapon allows the elf to advance, while Osmund retreats with each block and parry. One forcefully attacking and the other giving way. Seeing that they are nearly at the entrance of the shrine, Sui Yuan begins to worry.

Uncaring that he might be violating the rules, Sui Yuan murmurs lowly to remind this pig teammate of his to stick to the script. “Kill me!”

Giving a strained, bitter smile, Osmund returns his stare with an intense and gentle look. “How can I bear to kill you?”

“Don’t talk nonsense!” Sui Yuan almost got down on his knees to beg him. The climax is here but he wants to continue dragging things out?! Why is seeking death so difficult!!

Osmund refuses to answer, expression remaining the same. Sui Yuan really can’t tell how this male lead plans to conclude things with the supporting male lead.

Once again failing to get his colleague to act the scene out properly, he decides not to waste any more time on him. He has to die here, so if Osmund doesn’t plan on killing him, he will find someone else to do it. The ending for this villain BOSS absolutely must not be altered. Although dying in the hands of another means he is not following the plot, it would be better to let it happen than allowing the male lead to show this villain mercy. If Sui Yuan manages to escape the shrine, then it will be extremely disastrous for his career!

Having made the firm resolve to die here, Sui Yuan switches target, breaking away from Osmund and lashing out at the closest holy knight. Although this person’s level is still far from the Holy Son’s, he will have to make do. Dodging Sui Yuan’s half-hearted strike, the knight unhesitantly brings his own blade up, aiming for the elf’s vitals. Sui Yuan nearly teared up in appreciation. That’s the way it should be!

Osmund frowns, quickly grasping Sui Yuan’s intentions when the latter disengage him and heads for a random holy knight. The minute he sees the elf not even attempting to block the fatal strike, he feels like spitting out blood. In a blink of an eye, he appears next to Sui Yuan, pulling him out of the way and parrying a few more attacks that would have claimed his (SY) life. Taking note of the aggravation in Sui Yuan’s glare, he can’t help sighing in his heart.

Apparently, he has decided to die here and will not accept anything less.

Thus, in the next second, the razor-sharp, black sword sinks into the Holy Son’s chest once again.

It penetrates through his body and out his back, staining the snow-white robes crimson on both ends of the wound. Fresh blood drips from the tip of the blade onto the pristine, marble tiles. A small, pained frown wrinkles the fair brow, but the soft smile doesn’t falter. Instead of retreating, he steps towards the stupefied elf, causing the sword to sink deeper.

“You – !” The elf’s eyes widen, scarlet eyes filled with disbelief. A splatter of Osmund’s blood stains his face as the Holy Son wraps an arm tightly around him. The other hand comes up to caress his bloodstained cheek as though placating a lost child, then Osmund leans forward and kisses his lips softly.

Shocked by this sudden change of events, everyone can only stare, dumbfounded. The interior of the shrine is absolutely silent; hence, Osmund’s soft murmur can be heard clearly by all.

“Since you wish to die, then I will accompany you. This time, I will leave first and wait in that world for you…”

Cradling Osmund close to his chest, the elf’s face is full of fright and panic as he tries to prevent the man from slipping away. In the end, he can only watch dazedly as those azure eyes gradually dim, a fond, affectionate smile still on his lips.

“No…Osmund?! How can you die! Why did you let me kill you?!” Sui Yuan collapses to his knees, Osmund’s lifeless corpse still resting in the crook of his arms. Anguish and despair coat his words, trembling fingers running lightly over the man’s face.

A second later, his face abruptly blanks, as though reaching a firm decision. Gripping the hilt of the sword that claimed Osmund’s life, he dislodges it from the other man’s body. One hand holding the cooling corpse to his bosom, he lifts the blade high in his other, sharp tip aimed at his own chest. As Aurora’s scream of “Don’t – !!” rips through the stillness, and the blade skewers cleanly through the elf’s heart.

A mouthful of blood spurts out between his lips. A couple of drops land on Osmund’s bloodless lips, painting it a captivating red.

“You bastard…” A choked whisper drifts through the air. His eyelids slowly slide shut, body toppling backwards into Aurora’s embrace, the swordswoman having sprinted over as soon as the elf turned the blade on himself.

“Nardred! Nardred!” Aurora attempts to staunch the heavy flow of blood gushing forth from the wound with a hand, but it all proves futile. With great difficultly, slightly unfocused scarlet eyes lock on hers, a strained laugh bubbling forth as he forces out two words. “I’m sorry…”

“Don’t say sorry – don’t say sorry! You didn’t wrong me, I am the one who erred – perhaps I was the cause of this…” Aurora sobs, praying with all her soul that the elf would live, that some miracle might occur. However, the only thing she can feel is Nardred’s heartbeat becoming weaker and weaker, until it finally stops altogether.

Kneeling on the floor with the elf in her arms and Osmund in his, the peaceful expressions on the faces of both corpses making one think they are only in deep sleep, Aurora is incapable of constraining her grief and sorrow. Burying her tear-stained face in Nardred’s long, black hair, she wails in misery and heartbreak, feeling as though she might drown under this crushing despair.

The holy knights around her stand in silence, at a loss of what should be done now. In the end, a priest turns around and walks slowly over to the closed double-door, unceremoniously pushing them open.

The air reeking of blood drifts out of the shrine, dispersing in the wind. In a distance, a massive, brass bell hanging in the spire above the clock tower chimes, once, twice… This mournful knell will guide the spirits of the deceased safely across the river to the shores of the Heavenly Kingdom, bringing along the hope that this tragic pair will obtain eternal bliss together in that world.

Fifty years later

“Master, you really want to bury Nardred’s ashes in the same tomb with Lord Osmund’s?” A young swordsman cradling a black urn in his arms asks worriedly. “The shrine priests will be hopping mad!”

“Ha! As if I care about what they think!” Although she is seventy years of age now, Aurora still retains the appearance and attitude of her thirty-year-old self – beautiful and energetic. With regards to her who has already become a God-level swordswoman, she still has a long future in front of her before it ends. Only, having been through a rough period in her early years, her eyes reflect her true age even if her outer appearance doesn’t. While she remains astute, she is no longer as headstrong as she was in her youth, and beneath her pride lies wisdom.

“I have been striving diligently for fifty years just to see this day! Do you know how difficult it is to achieve God-level? I pushed myself so far and hard just to attain the status needed to do as I please. So today, I will definitely fulfil my lifelong wish and promise!” Aurora waves a hand dismissively, hinting for her disciple to drop this argument. Heading straight for the shrine’s cemetery, she ignores the looks of anger on the priests’ faces, all but daring them to voice their displeasure.

In the middle of this cemetery stands a huge, white stele[1]. Directly beside stands a male swordsman. Although his appearance is rather shoddy, one look at his stance and sharp eyes betrays the level of his skill.

“Yo, Ghana. I’ll be troubling you!” Aurora calls out a friendly greeting as she carefully takes the black urn from her disciple. Dropping to one knee on the ground before the stele, she inserts it into a freshly dug hole next to a marked gravestone.

“This is the object you are so strongly attached to?” The man addressed as Ghana watches Aurora unsheathe her dagger and carve the name ‘Nardred’ on the gravestone. “Never thought that you were also personally involved in that incident. During my travels, I heard a wandering minstrel sing about a love story between the Holy Son and a Demon King. I believe it is a song everyone has heard at least once before. That’s right, did everything unfold exactly like how the story tells it?”

“I suppose it’s more or less similar.” Chuckling softly, Aurora smiles as nostalgia surfaces in her eyes. Then, an unsatisfied frown wrinkles her brow, as though resenting the fact that her carving is too ugly. Sheathing her dagger, she gets back to her feet.

“At that time, the priests refuse to allow you two to be buried together. But I believe the both of you wished it would be this way, right? Today, I have finally helped you accomplish it. Consider it as…my final responsibility as your friend. …I hope this would be able to lighten the weight of my mistakes in the past…” Aurora murmurs as she stares at the gravestone. A second later, Ghana wraps a comforting arm around her shoulders.

“Now that you have fulfilled your wish, isn’t it time to give me an answer?” Ghana quirks an eyebrow, teasing tone scattering the lingering grief in Aurora’s heart. “You rejected me the last time by using the need to reach God-level as an excuse. It was simply too cruel.”

“…Oi, I’ll have you know that my first love is here!” Gesturing with her chin towards the gravestone, she warns lightly.

“So what?” Ghana remains unmoved. “Lord Osmund is long dead. Moreover, he has a lover already! He is even willing to give up his life in order to be with his partner.”

Aurora’s eyes dim a little. That fateful day, Nardred refused to go through the purification process, therefore, the only thing awaiting him is death. Not wishing to see Nardred die before his own eyes, Osmund decided to end his life first on the blade wielded by his beloved. He was probably very certain that after his death, Nardred will be unable to bear the pain and will choose to follow… As a result, Nardred killed Osmund, and Osmund used his death to guarantee Nardred’s own. Heh…really unwilling to let outsiders interfere between them even in death…

Sighing, Aurora pulls herself away from the sorrowful memories of her past, burying her emotions under.

“…Idiot, I can be bothered to deal with you!” She scoffs even as a blush rises under Ghana’s intense stare. Whirling on her heels, she stalks off. “Wait until the day you can beat me before bringing this up again! Wanting me to accept your pursuit? Do you have the qualifications?”

Ai…it seems I need to put in more effort.” Ghana laughs as he meanders behind the master and disciple duo. “Wanting to woo a talented, God-level swordswoman is a very arduous task…”


 

The author has something to say: The end of another world with a tragic conclusion…

 A lot of readers say they didn’t like the female lead in the beginning…well, do you like her now?


 

Footnotes:

[1] Stele: a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected in the ancient world as a monument.

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IANEWtbaSML 3.10

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Chapter 3.10

Although he has been taken prisoner, with Osmund there, the treatment he receives can be considered not bad at all.

Besides being bound by holy chains for the duration of his confinement, nothing else bothers him as he is already long accustomed to the endless looks of contempt directed to him. He is allowed to rest on a soft, cosy bed, eat fine meals, and as long as it is not dangerous objects, whatever else he requests for will be promptly delivered. The only thing that annoys him is being hugged, kissed and held by Osmund every day! Fortunately, he is already used to this level of intimacy in the second world, or else he would have long lost his patience.

But of course, he is still grieving over the plot…

As proven by the main leads themselves, the thought of them becoming a couple existed only in his imagination. Sui Yuan’s elation is thus cruelly dragged down and tossed into the abyss. Once again having his plans destroyed by this male lead causes him to feel so sad that his throat clogs.

As of today, he only has one sole comfort. Even if he walked down the wrong fork of the road, having directly walked through several winding paths and bypassed a few small events in the plot, he has finally reached the exact same ending as the original text. Imprisonment…

In the story, because Nardred kidnapped the female lead and invades the nearest country, hence snatching away a large piece of land, he drew the resentment of the major races as well as the male lead’s ire. After failing to rescue Aurora by himself, the male lead uses Nardred as the common enemy as well as his charisma to rally a huge army. This formidable force slaughtered their way through the dark forces, arriving at the villain’s castle where a showdown between kings unfold.

Powerful as Nardred has become, he is no match for Osmund and is thereby defeated. After rescuing the female lead, he drags Nardred back in chains to be put on trial.

Nardred’s crimes are extremely grave, so naturally, the only thing awaiting him is death. Before execution, however, he must be purified in order to prevent his soul returning as a sinister lich.

Before the purification can conclude, Nardred staked his all in one last escape attempt, unwilling to give up this last chance of survival. However, he is cleanly beheaded by Osmund, who had his guard up the entire time, waiting for the villain to make his move. In the end, the villain BOSS meets a fitting end. This last scene for Nardred is Sui Yuan’s remaining ray of light in the darkness.

Even if Osmund doesn’t plan to kill him after the purification process, as the villain BOSS, Sui Yuan cannot possibly be willing to have everything he gained so far stripped from him, right? Therefore, he most definitely has to act out that final resistance, then force Osmund’s hand during that short amount of time. This way, the suspense in the climax of the plot will play out nicely!

Thinking thus, Sui Yuan’s erratic emotions settle. Although his Dark Kingdom hasn’t expanded all that much, and he failed to kidnap the female lead, the main plot of the story is still on track. So he needs to ensure his death scene doesn’t derail either. The lowest positive score possible…he can still achieve that at minimum, right?

Sui Yuan really feels that his requests in life have dropped significantly…

During the journey from Obsidian City to the kingdom’s capital, Sui Yuan’s subordinates attempt time and again to rescue their king. However, they are repeatedly beaten back by Osmund and the small group of Heavenly race members under his command. By the time the large group reaches the city, Sui Yuan is still being held prisoner. The next day following his entry into the capital is the day of his trial.

When Sui Yuan is just about to walk into his prisoner’s cart, Aurora suddenly dashes over and grips his arm tightly. Sui Yuan stiffens, glancing at her only to see tears in her eyes as she chokes with emotion. “I’m sorry, I’m very sorry, Nardred. Forcing you to endure so much suffering…but please bear with it a little longer. You will definitely be okay. Osmund and I will always be by your side. We believe in you, believe that you are still good and kind at heart. That’s why, you don’t need to care about what others think of you!”

Sui Yuan frowns, still unable to make heads or tails of Aurora’s words. Still, he cannot simply remain silent. “I have never cared about others.”

“That’s good, then.” Aurora offers a soft, comforting smile, not bothered by Sui Yuan’s cold words and indifference. Stepping closer, she hugs him tightly. “You will return. You will definitely return to the Nardred we travelled, fought alongside and laughed happily with. We will wait for you…”

Sui Yuan drops his gaze to his feet but otherwise remains motionless, outwardly unmoved even when faced with Aurora’s fierce resolve and emotional hug. This continues for who knows how long before the black-faced guards separate them impatiently, then shove Sui Yuan into the prisoner’s cart.

Once they enter the capital’s gates, Sui Yuan finally understands why Aurora looked so distressed.

As the villain BOSS, he has ordered the death of countless innocents, slaughtered numerous ‘soldiers of Justice’ and destroyed innumerable homes. Naturally, his actions incurred the wrath and fury of the citizens. Lining both sides of the road, they bombard him with curses. With holy chains binding him, Sui Yuan is incapable of resisting, only able to lift his chin haughtily and bear the verbal abuse. His scarlet eyes narrow in a poisonous glower, the scorn within razor-sharp. If looks can kill, every single citizen out here would have fallen dead. Muscles stretch taunt and a feral smirk playing on his lips, Sui Yuan truly resembles a savage panther. Having immersed himself in the role of a villain BOSS for quite a long period of time, Sui Yuan already has a firm grasp on the various expressions a villain needs to have.

Parading a hated prisoner through the streets on the eve of their sentence is something every ruler loves to do. On one hand, it serves as a public declaration of their victory and on the other, it gives the people an object to vent their emotions at in order to prevent the implication of an incompetent ruler.

Silently looking over the original text, he discovers that after this chaotic scene, everything will return to its usual calm. As long as he continues walking down the right path, there is no need to fear anything.

It’s just…next to his cart and riding a unicorn, Osmund’s face is extremely frosty, no trace of his usual gentle nature can be seen, making Sui Yuan constantly itch to remind him not to be out of character.

Probably guessing that simply cussing him out is no use, stones, rotten vegetables and such items begin smashing onto the prisoner cart. Subconsciously, Sui Yuan wants to evade the thrown items, but after realising this cart is too narrow to completely evade anything, he can’t be bothered anymore. Hence, he remains cold and indifferent. Even if he has been defeated, crushed underfoot and suffering abuse, he is still proud and unyielding – this is the proper, dignified bearing of a villain BOSS!

“Enough!” A voice full of agony and sorrow rings out, and Sui Yuan’s vision is abruptly filled with white. Immediately following that, he is drawn into an embrace, hidden beneath white robes.

The Holy Son of the Heavenly race holds the dark elf in his arms, using his body as a shield to obstruct this humiliating attack. The originally snow white garment is quickly stained with mud and junk, but he is not bothered in the slightest, remaining as firm as any wall, guarding the person in his embrace.

A startled expression appears on the frail-looking elf’s face for a moment, then reverts back to that cold, apathetic state. He raises his head, but a hand cupping the back of his head presses gently, pushing down so his forehead rests against Osmund’s chest.

Shocked by this spectacle, a stifled, bewildered silence settles over the crowd. Every arm lifted with the intention to throw more things towards the cart is slowly lowered.

The Holy Son is the Heavenly race’s treasure, respected and loved beyond words. He selflessly provides assistance to anyone who requires it, spreading his grace to every corner of the land. Gentle and warm, noble and honourable… In the hearts of the common people, he is a living god. And today, this very person used his body as a shield to protect an evil being, even lying down his dignity for the elf.

“What is going on? Why would Lord Osmund…?” Whispered conversations being to rise from amongst the gathered mass, full of doubt, worry and panic.

“I heard that this evil elf was Lord Osmund’s lover before he fell to the darkness…”

“Good Heavens! How is that possible?! Lord Osmund would never fall in love with such a vile existence!”

“But looking at this scene, who can still claim that rumour is a phoney?!”

“It is said that this elf also loves Lord Osmund. The reason why he was captured so easily is because of this lingering affection. Lord Osmund used himself as a bait to entice the elf, forcing him to submit to purification, this sacrificing his love…”

“Perhaps this elf is also a victim. The source of darkness erases its victim’s original personality. I don’t believe Lord Osmund will love a genuinely evil being…”

“Even if he is not naturally evil, even if he was simply controlled by the darkness, his subordinates have already claimed the lives of countless people. There are no other alternatives. A debt of blood must be repaid in blood!”

“Wuu…poor Lord Osmund…how can he endure this kind of thing…”

As an elf with naturally keen hearing, Sui Yuan’s pointed ears tremble faintly, the face buried in Osmund’s chest filled with black lines.

5237: “……Actually, I feel that you should already be accustomed to this kind of situation.”

Sui Yuan: “……Even if I am used to it, I still feel so worried…”

5237: “……Un, I understand……”

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IANEWtbaSML 3.9

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Chapter 3.9

After helping Osmund escape a crisis, Sui Yuan can finally walk down the right path of a villain.

Although the first time he led his army to attack various towns was merely an excuse for him to slip into the city and treat Osmund, hence resulting in a defeat due to lack of a commander present, the second time his troops march out, he manages to obtain a splendid victory.

The undead army is an existence feared by all living beings, for as the casualties of war grow, so too, does its numbers. Unable to be completely eliminated, impossible to extinguish. As a result, necromancy is classified as a taboo magical art across the continent. Anyone found practising it will face execution. Over a period of time, the art of necromancy inches closer to extinction.

Faced with the hatred of countless masses on a daily basis, Sui Yuan feels extremely pressured at being the object of abhorrence. Nonetheless, as an actor who spares no effort and is willing to bend backwards in order to adhere to his character, even if he is not satisfied with the role he is forced to play, Sui Yuan will continue working towards his goal with a single-minded dedication.

At the head of his army, Sui Yuan continuously crushes town after town. Corpses are resurrected and integrated into his forces, ordinary citizens are driven into the dark lands as labour slaves. Captured warriors and mages are transformed by his dark magic, joining the ranks as his elite subordinates.

Step by step, the foundations of the Dark Kingdom are gradually established. Their borderlines continuously extend outwards, edging towards the fringe of Obsidian City, foreshadowing the day a great battle will begin.

At the same time, he doesn’t stop having eyes and ears stationed across the continent to bring back any news or rumours about the male and female leads.

“What did you say?!” Sui Yuan abruptly jerks, his sudden movement overturning the cup of blood-red wine in his hand.

“This subordinate said…” The dark mage cautiously peeks through his eyelashes to gauge Sui Yuan’s expression. A trace of fear in his voice, he deferentially replies, “There is hearsay…that the swordswoman Aurora and the Holy Son of the Heavenly race are in love with each other.”

Sui Yuan’s eyes widen in shock, sharing the same disbelieving look with 5237 hovering at his side. This good news is too sudden! So sudden that they don’t dare believe their ears!

“Truly?!” Sui Yuan presses.

“……It is only a rumour.” Seeing their calm and apathetic Boss momentarily lose his cool, the mage abruptly recalls another rumour pertaining to Nardred and Osmund being lovers before all this happened. Hesitantly, he continues, “It is said that Aurora was constantly at Osmund’s side when the latter was suffering from a grave injury. Having gone through trying periods together, feelings started to develop. In addition, Aurora was already harbouring a crush on Osmund long before this, hence, the two of them…”

Pausing in uncertainty, the dark mage eventually gets the rest of his report out. “According to the information I received, Osmund rejected the arranged marriage set by the Heavenly race for Aurora – ”

“He truly is a bastard!” A dark swordsman standing off to the side interrupts the mage with a loud curse, tone extremely disdainful. “The Heavenly race are a bunch of sanctimonious bastards! What Holy Son! He is no more than a pile of dog excrement! Completely unworthy of Our Majesty!”

Sui Yuan lifts a hand, waiting until his subordinates quieten before using it to cover his lower face, leaving a pair of scarlet red eyes to glint sinisterly in the dim light. “Enough. All of you, get out.”

“Your Majesty – ” The dark mage and swordsman call out at the same time in worry, only for Sui Yuan to turn on them with a frosty glare. “Leave!”

No one dares to protest further, simply bowing obediently and retreating out the door. Until he is sure he is all alone, Sui Yuan jumps up from the throne, punching the air in glee, feeling incomparably excited.

He couldn’t break character in from of his subordinates, but trying to contain this elation is really exhausting ah!

“5237! Did you hear that?! The male and female lead really got together!” Sui Yuan cheers inwardly as he bounces around the throne room in exultation, so happy that he can weep in joy.

5237 stares dazedly at the far wall, then slowly turns its body to face Sui Yuan. “Really? Could it simply be a false rumour? I feel that this development is somehow not quite right ah…?”

“I would rather believe this news is real! Besides, if it is fake, they wouldn’t dare let me know about this rumour!” Sui Yuan refuses to let 5237 rain on his parade. “Say, since the male and female lead is a couple now, does that mean I should prepare for that important scene?”

“Which scene?” 5237 asks absently, still staring foolishly off in the distance.

“The one where I kidnap the female lead, make the male lead rescue her and all that.” Sui Yuan nods firmly once. “This is as important a task as attacking towns ah!”

“……All right, if you feel it is feasible,” 5237 agrees, happily accepting this plan. “In any case, if it is real, then it will be for the best. If it is false, we also wouldn’t suffer any losses, right?”

“Exactly!” Sui Yuan smiles, then proceeds to draw up plans for the siege of Obsidian City, where he will snatch the female lead away in the midst of battle.

– This is the first time the storyline of the world is firmly on track ah. The anticipation is killing him!

With an ice-cold look plastered firmly on his face to conceal his excitement, Sui Yuan goes over the war plans time and again, studying everything in utmost detail, pinpointing the slightest flaws and building on strengths. Seeing his diligent and meticulous attitude for the first time since he became ruler of the Dark Kingdom, his subordinates are extremely nervous. Amongst the ranks of his army, whispers of “battle for vengeance” spread quickly, spurring on the soldiers’ morale.

However, all talk of this siege on Obsidian City is due to the Holy Son abandoning his old flame for a new love and hurting their Boss’ heart, Sui Yuan knows nought of it…

At long last, the day of battle arrives.

The undead army that has already grown to more than ten thousand surrounds Obsidian City’s walls, encircling the place so thoroughly that not a single drop of water can trickle through. From his position up high, he overlooks the black-armoured troops that look like so many locusts surging forth, striking as hard as possible against the unyielding fort. Time and again, his attention will be drawn towards the exceptionally conspicuous Osmund and Aurora.

Raising his sceptre, dazzling, golden light magic shoots forth, scorching every undead it falls upon, causing them to shriek and dissipate into clouds of black mist. Wielding a broadsword almost as tall as herself, Aurora lands devastating strike after strike, beheading groups of walking corpses with every swing of that enormous blade.

Seeing his army fail to overcome the city’s frontlines even after all this while, Sui Yuan is unsurprised. Murmuring an incantation under his breath, the bone dragon he is riding lifts its skeleton head and roars, shocking the majority of defenders. Unfolding its wings, it kicks off the ground and soars into the air.

Higher and higher it rises, before the legendary bone dragon tucks its limbs close to its skeletal body and dives down, resembling a massive artillery shell. It rams into the tough, towering city wall with a giant boom, creating a hole for the undead army outside to pour through. In the split-second before his mount collides with the wall, Sui Yuan nimbly leaps off its back, landing lightly on the merlon of the undestroyed portion. A black blade appears in his hand, sinking into the stomach of the nearest soldier.

The man collapses, dead before he hits the ground. However, he doesn’t stay that way for long. Just as his companion rushes forward, intending on catching him, the dead man’s sword skewers the other through his chest. Thick, black mist congeals around the bleeding wound. The first victim rises unsteadily to his feet and shuffles forward, movement jerky like a puppet on strings, ignoring the frightened calls of the other defenders. In the end, it is comrade against comrade.

The terrible art of necromancy fused with dark magic is the nightmare of every living being.

Taking in the situation with an apathetic gaze, the corners of Sui Yuan’s mouth curve into an evil arc. Turning his head, he spots Aurora, meeting her eyes at the exact same moment she looks over.

Thinking about his plans to abduct Aurora, Sui Yuan doesn’t hesitate to dart towards the female lead. Instead of lifting her sword to meet his attack, however, she merely smiles, not attempting to dodge either.

The black blade halts less than a centimetre away from her throat and freezes, neither advancing nor withdrawing. Cold sweat breaks out all over Sui Yuan’s body as he realises he nearly killed the female lead this time. In his heart, he can’t help scolding the male and female leads. All so eager for death! Idiots! Is it so difficult to lift your weapons and fight back against the supporting male lead?!

Just as Sui Yuan is busy cursing inwardly, Aurora’s fingers wrap around his armed right hand, sighing as though a burden has been lifted from her shoulders. “You appeared at last, Nardred…”

Sui Yuan stiffens, somewhat mystified.

“Did you know? Osmund and I never gave up searching for you.” Aurora stares at him with soft eyes. “We’ve lost count of how many undead army we have faced, but each time, we never catch a single glimpse of you. We know you are hiding from us, which is why we came up with a small scheme.”

“…What scheme?” Sui Yuan suddenly has a bad premonition.

“We released false information, saying that Osmund and I are in love. If you still harbour affection for Osmund, you will definitely not ignore this rumour, and will come to find us in order to verify the truth.” Aurora’s smile carries a sliver of mischief and pride in her plan succeeding. “Sure enough, you came.”

His heart thumps in warning. Sui Yuan’s eyes widen a fraction and wills himself to dodge out of the way immediately. However, he is a second too late. Brilliant, gleaming chains wind tightly around his body, holding him immobile. No matter how much power he exerts, he is incapable of breaking the binds.

“What do you want to do?!” Sui Yuan growls lowly, his mind in turmoil. Where did the plot go?! This scene isn’t meant to happen!!

“I’m sorry…” Osmund appears beside him, spreading his arms and wrapping Sui Yuan in a tight embrace. Long, platinum-gold hair dances in the breeze, anguished azure eyes contrite but unwavering. “I am sorry, I deceived you.”

“You want to capture me, for purification?!” Sui Yuan yells hatefully.

“Yes,” Osmund answers. “I am unwilling to watch you continue down this path of corruption. No matter if it is due to my identity as the Holy Son of the Heavenly race, or because…” He leans in and kisses Sui Yuan’s cheek softly. “…Or because of my love for you…”

Sui Yuan: “……QAQ”

At this very moment, Sui Yuan desperately wants to scream out a single sentence: The plot has already become something even its own mother can’t recognise so spare me aaahhhhhh – !!!

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IANEWtbaSML 3.8

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Chapter 3.8

When Sui Yuan felt his dagger stab Osmund’s chest and saw that it was about to slice his neck, he almost gave himself a heart-attack!

Luckily, he manages to stop on time, only resulting in a small nick. In these few minutes of self-induced immobility, Sui Yuan gathers his scattered wits about him and retrieves his soul before it can ascend. As soon as he can trust himself to function normally again, he leaps backwards, placing as much distance between them as possible. Almost killing the male lead is too terrifying an experience! Sui Yuan feels that he might have nightmares for the entire week!

Only after calming his palpitating heart with great difficulty does he wonder what should be said next. As he is afraid the other party will find fault with him and pick another fight, Sui Yuan eventually decides to throw down a final, vicious line before fleeing the scene, filled with impatience to end this arc of the story as quickly as possible.

“Nadred! I know you still remember! I know you still harbour feelings for Osmund! Am I right?!” Aurora’s despondent voice calls from behind, causing the mentally unprepared Sui Yuan to stagger and nearly fall flat on his face. Tears of blood streaming down his face, he increases his pace, escaping swiftly.

What harbouring feelings for Osmund?! Not killing him equals to liking him?! What the hell kind of logic is that! Sui Yuan really wants to fall on his knees before the female lead ah.

“For better or for worse, at least you managed to throw off that pig teammate.” 5237 comforts him in a pleased tone. “As for liking whoever or whatever, wait until after you clash a few times with the male lead according to the storyline, then this rumour will definitely disappear.”

“I suppose,” Sui Yuan heaves a long, drawn-out sigh, praying for everything to go smoothly before pondering his next steps.

After swallowing the source of darkness – don’t say it again, the suffering he went through honestly feels worse than dying. No second time! – he is now a villain BOSS. Next up, he needs to establish his Dark Kingdom.

Like what the original character was meant to do, Sui Yuan travels through the dark lands to find a suitable place for setting up his headquarters. At the same time, he subdues more than a few beings lurking around, sending them out as his eyes and ears to monitor the main leads, ensuring they are capable of leaving the dark lands safely. If the male and female leads end up dying because he stabbed Osmund, the consequences would be unimaginable!

The first point on his to-do list progresses smoothly. With this formidable power at his disposal, Sui Yuan easily conquerors the entire dark lands. With that, his army is naturally formed, its ranks filled with violent plants, animals and other humanoid beings. Next, he also experiments in fusing his powers of darkness with self-taught necromancy.

Who knows how many skeletons and deceased beings – from small to big – have been buried beneath the moist earth of the dark lands. Hence, with so many corpses and skeletons left behind, it is the perfect place to practise necromancy. While necromancy raises the dead and permits them to move around freely, his newly-gained darkness magic imbues these resurrected beings with more power and strength than the average undead, making them a rather intimidating enemy to face. However, as Sui Yuan’s control over darkness magic is not all that great yet, he can only control around ten of this strong undead at any given time. Thus, in order to practise and train how to control his new minions, Sui Yuan comes to a decision – let these ten plus undead build houses for him.

When 5237 hears his declaration, it bangs its head against the nearest wall for a few minutes straight.

By controlling his group of undead to accomplish various tasks every day, Sui Yuan’s understanding and skill over darkness magic and necromancy inevitably increases in leaps and bounds. Presently, the total number of undead he is able to control is over a hundred. Gradually, he also begins to gather higher level creatures, making them into elite troops and commanders of his army. As for his castle, it is slowly being constructed under the joints efforts of the undead.

After all basic preparation is completed, Sui Yuan plans to sharpen his sword by attacking nearby towns and villages. As described in the original text, he will need to expand his territory first. This action will then force all races to unite against the common enemy – him – and as the war progresses, he will eventually face the main leads whom he harbours both love and hatred for – no wait, it should be only hatred.

As for whether or not he should kidnap the female lead Aurora, Sui Yuan decides to put that on hold for the time being. Firstly, his character hasn’t exactly developed any romantic feelings for her and secondly, he plans to give the main leads more time to interact. Who is to say they might have made headway in terms of romance?

All this aside, there is one more matter that is causing Sui Yuan untold amounts of trouble. Although Sui Yuan sent a few creatures out to protect them while they are in the dark lands, ensuring they return to Obsidian City to recuperate, the news that reaches his ears is rather terrible, resulting in his inability to sleep soundly for several nights straight.

This terrible news pertains to the one stab he managed to land on Osmund that day. Due to the dagger being created from pure darkness, a piece of dark magic entered the male lead’s body from when the blade was buried in his chest. While Osmund’s natural holy power is able to protect his body from succumbing to the erosive nature of dark magic, it cannot completely expel the darkness within. Now, the Holy Son is becoming weaker and weaker, already dithering on the brink of death.

During these sleepless nights, Sui Yuan experiences bouts of nightmares – the male lead dying due to the dark magic in his body, and after returning to the space between worlds, Sui Yuan is met with big, red letters showing him a negative score. Sui Yuan can even feel himself wasting away before that atrocious mark…

Wholeheartedly wanting to prevent this nightmare from becoming reality, Sui Yuan decides to secretly sneak into the city and take a look at Osmund, remove the dark magic in his body, and return a healthy male lead to this world.

Naturally, as powerful as he is right now, he cannot recklessly bring his army to the front doors of Obsidian City. That place is the largest city bordering the dark lands, and is in charge of ensuring the safety of the towns surrounding it. In order to draw the majority of troops away from Obsidian City, Sui Yuan directs his army to siege a few of the surrounding towns, forcing them to request aid from the city. Since they have a duty to uphold, troops are dispatched as reinforcements to drive the dark army back, allowing Sui Yuan to slip past the perimeter walls.

His plan works extremely smoothly. With lesser soldiers stationed in the city, Sui Yuan manages to enter undetected, heading straight for the mansion and the bedroom where Osmund is resting in.

The inhumanly beautiful Holy Son of the Heavenly race lays motionless in bed, sickly pale skin emphasising his current weak state. His breath seems to come out in feeble, intermittent exhalations. Although the wound on his chest has been wrapped under bandages with utmost care, it unceasingly bleeds black blood. Clearly, Osmund has been forced to endure intense pain over the last few days.

Mindful of the fact that his pig teammate resides in this body, Sui Yuan feels somewhat guilty. While he may dislike his colleague’s wilful impediment of his missions in each world, he doesn’t resent him to the point of hating the man. Sui Yuan cannot bear the thought of Zhao Xihe suffering due to his actions. Although he ended up fighting in order to flee from the main leads, this wound was personally inflicted by his hands, and it causes great remorse and self-blame to surface in his heart.

Walking slowly over to the bed, he perches on the edge and places a hand flat on Osmund’s chest. Closing his eyes, he reaches out with his conscience to seek the fragment of dark magic in the man’s body.

In the short period of separation, his control over the darkness residing within him has strengthened, thus allowing Sui Yuan to perform this small treatment smoothly. With a light nudge, the tiny tendrils of dark magic embedded in Osmund’s bones, blood and flesh withdraw, obediently condensing in a small sphere beneath the wound. Another mental touch has this sphere of darkness exiting Osmund’s body, coming to a stop above the hollow of his palm.

Performing another quick sweep to ensure his colleague’s body is clear of dark magic, Sui Yuan finally exhales heavily and opens his eyes. Dull red clashes with clear azure, and the elf freezes.

Snapping out of his shock, Sui Yuan withdraws his hand, only for his wrist to be caught by Osmund. Guiding his hand back to rest on that bandaged chest, he can feel the other man’s strong, constant heartbeat.

“I knew…that you would return…” Osmund says, a soft smile on his pale face. A flash of happiness flickers in his eyes as he gazes unblinkingly at Sui Yuan.

Being stared at so intensely causes Sui Yuan to feel uncomfortable. Dropping his eyes to Osmund’s chest, he tugs harshly on their joined hands, easily breaking the hold this heavily injured male lead has around his wrist.

“You know why I did it,” Sui Yuan murmurs, giving a vague answer. Since his task is complete and the male lead is no longer in danger of dying, he doesn’t intend to linger any longer. Standing up to leave, his wrist is once again caught.

Glancing over his shoulder, he firmly throws off the man’s hand. The light in Osmund’s eyes dim, happiness morphing into dejection and heartache, making Sui Yuan itch to grab him by the shoulder and shake him vigorously, then beg him not to be so immersed in his acting. Besides, if he wishes to act, it should be in front of the female lead ah! It’s impossible for a male lead and a supporting male lead to have a future together! Please spare this junior actor!

Ignoring Osmund’s crestfallen look, Sui Yuan hurries out of the room. The universe clearly enjoys mocking him, for he bumps into the female lead who has been standing outside the room for who knows how long.

Although Aurora’s face appears very calm, her eyes betray the weary gloominess she is feeling inside. Evidently, her experience this time forced her to mature quickly. She doesn’t move to defend herself, merely observing him silently. When Sui Yuan meets her gaze for a full second, then brushes past her without a word, Aurora eventually opens her mouth. “Although I don’t know why you insist on walking down that path…Osmund and I will always remain your companions.”

Sui Yuan pauses, wondering if he should converse with the female lead to increase her good opinion of him or not.

“I also know that you are not as unfeeling as you would like everyone to believe, am I wrong?” Aurora continues, tone uncharacteristically light but certain. “You think we don’t know, but we understand.”

Turning his head to stare at Aurora, Sui Yuan’s face carries a trace of question.

“Osmund and I were seriously injured with no way of defending ourselves had we been attacked. Being able to leave the dark lands safe and sound was all because you protected us in the dark, correct?” A very faint smile pulls at the corner of her lips, seemingly afraid to shatter this moment of stilted peace. “You were always worrying, monitoring us from afar. Which is also how you came to know of Osmund’s critical condition. You don’t wish to see him suffer, and absolutely cannot bear to see him die. You care about him so much to the point of risking capture to slip into Obsidian City – I understand everything.”

Sui Yuan opens his mouth to retort but closes it again as he finds himself at a loss – apparently…everything Aurora has said so far is true. But she interpreted it the wrong way ah! Please don’t deduce it any way you see fit!

“…Believe whatever you will. I only hope you understand that we are both living in very different worlds now.” Ultimately, Sui Yuan can only toss out these icy sentences before dissipating into a cloud of black mist.

Shifting her gaze from the empty space to the interior of the room, Aurora sighs as she spots Osmund’s dull eyes fixed on the exact spot Nardred was moments ago.

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IANEWtbaSML 3.7

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Chapter 3.7

Although Osmund had healed most of her larger wounds, due to the seriousness of her injuries, Aurora remains dazed and dizzy, coming in and out of consciousness. She couldn’t even work up the energy to stay awake for a while and eat dinner. Suddenly, just as she is lightly dozing, she detects something odd. After surviving in intensely dangerous situations and fighting countless battles, Aurora had developed a keen, beast-like intuition. And this sixth sense is currently blaring in alarm, causing her hairs to stand on end.

Eyes snapping open, the first thing she does is wrap her hands around the weapon strapped to her waist. Though she was still feeling weak, Aurora swiftly enters her combat mentality. Pushing herself upright with one knee on the ground, she stares at the entrance, preparing to intercept anyone who charges in.

But after waiting for a long time, her surroundings remain the same, devoid of the slightest sound of activity. Contrary to what she is seeing, the sense of impending doom heightens. Only then does Aurora have the mind to take in her surroundings and judge the present situation.

Outside the hollowed trunk, the gloomy purple sky has darkened further, and seems a little weirder than before. The black clouds converge together, creating a large, demonic face hanging high above, gazing down on the lands below. On the other side of the entrance, Osmund stands motionless, back facing Aurora. His entire body is stretched taut. His gentle and mild bearing is gone, replaced by a sharp edge. And Nardred…

Where did Nardred go?!

Alarmed, Aurora abruptly leaps to her feet. Indeed, the familiar slender, elven figure is nowhere to be seen. Hurrying over to Osmund, she inquires anxiously, “Where’s Nardred?!”

“……He went out,” Osmund replies serenely with a trace of secrecy, but Aurora doesn’t have the time nor patience to decipher the meaning behind his words.

“Went out?! And he hasn’t returned yet?!” Aurora yells, stamping her foot in frustration. “It’s so dangerous out there, how can you allow him to go out alone?! No, I have to search for him!”

Despite her physically weak state, Aurora draws her sword and dashes out of the tree trunk. Lips thinning, Osmund follows close behind wordlessly.

As soon as she dragged the answer of which direction Nardred was last seen heading towards, she rushes forward, calling out the elf’s name as she remains on high alert.

Of course, there is no reply. But what really makes one worry is that the previously aggressive plants and animals rampaging unbridled before are now withdrawing in on themselves, trembling with fear. With every living being here frightened into a motionless state, the two of them are naturally not met with trouble. Instead of soothing their anxiety, it makes them more uneasy. Evidently, whatever it is behind this sudden chill and darkness is extremely daunting. So intimidating that the brainless, violent beings in the dark lands can’t help but be afraid.

Aurora has a bad premonition that the further she walks in this direction, the closer it will bring her to the origin of this dangerous energy. If Nardred is really around here somewhere…there is bound to be a disaster awaiting them.

Nevertheless, Aurora and Osmund don’t pause in their steps due to cowardliness. In Aurora’s heart, they are all comrades. Therefore, even if they are threatened with the possibility of dying, they still cannot abandon a friend to their fate.

“……It’s the source of darkness,” Osmund utters from beside Aurora, a trace of disbelief in his voice.

“Source of darkness?” Aurora frowns, glancing at the other man for clarification.

“It is where all the negative emotions in the world are gathered. A single point where the most sinister, sordid and savage beings are born, as well as…the most powerful,” Osmund explains. “Someone woke the source of darkness.”

“You said someone – ” Aurora’s eyes widen. “You don’t mean Nardred, right?!”

“I don’t know.” Osmund shakes his head. “I pray it isn’t.”

“It certainly can’t be!” Gritting her teeth, Aurora states firmly. “Nardred will absolutely not awaken something so dangerous, unless he had no alternative!”

Glancing at Aurora, he takes in the young lady’s pale face full of worry, concern and hope. There is no trace of hesitation, doubt or fear. Clearly, she holds great trust in her two companions, and treats them with utmost sincerity.

Both fall silent, then speed as quickly as they can towards where the source of darkness lies.

As the oppressive force of darkness becomes more intense, pure and holy radiance wraps around Osmund’s body to resist corrosive mass exuding from the dark power. Because Aurora doesn’t possess such abilities, she can only rely on her wind magic to provide her with warmth and try to dispel the back mist surrounding her. However, the results yielded is extremely poor. Gradually, greenish-black stains appear on her face, but she relentlessly charges forth.

When they arrive at the place where this source of darkness is located, they eventually discover the figure they have been seeking with all their hearts and minds.

The black-haired elf is kneeling on the ground, hunched in on himself as agonised groans rumble low in his throat. Thick, black mist envelops him, slowly seeping into his body. Mysterious black runes begin to mar his pale skin, each character saturated with dark power that induces instinctive fear in people.

“Nardred!” Aurora yells, dashing towards the elf. Before she even reaches the mid-way mark, she is blocked and thrown away by the black mist.

Incapable of breaking through the barrier unarmed, she lifts her sword and brings it down in a heavy downward swing, trying in vain to tear through this obstacle. Repeatedly calling Nardred’s name over and over, she desperately prays for him to fight off the darkness, or at the very least, raise his head and respond in some way.

Contrary to Aurora’s near-frenzied response to seeing Nardred in this situation, Osmund remains a couple of paces away from the black barrier, calm and collected as he studies it carefully. Only until Aurora has exhausted her strength, supported by her sword as she pants heavily does he finally move.

The dazzling light shrouding Osmund’s body increases in intensity as the darkness becomes denser. Light meets dark, one resisting the other as both seek to dominate. His face gradually pales, but his steps never falter. Little by little he advances, closing the distance between him and Nardred.

Aurora stops in her pointless one-sided hacking, staring at Osmund with eyes full of anticipation and fragile hope. Praying that he will succeed in bringing Nardred back. Being the Holy Son of the Heavenly race, he is the most treasured child of the Gods. If there’s anyone who can pull the elf away from this taint, Osmund will be it.

However, things don’t unfold as smoothly as she would like. Just as Osmund’s hand is about to touch Nardred’s shoulder, the elf fiercely swats it away.

Recoiling, Osmund steps backwards in surprise, watching wordlessly as Nardred slowly straightens. The elf’s originally bright, golden irises have already transformed to a dark, bloodthirsty red, a frantic, ruthless look gleaming in his eyes. His painful shuddering stops, allowing him to stand ramrod straight, an imposing aura replacing his discreet demeanour. The faint smirk playing on his lips make him seem all the more foreign.

Loathed as Aurora is to admit, she knows deep down that her friend Nardred is gone, never to return.

Her friend who may appear cold, apathetic, and distant is actually a soft, shy and lonely individual. The elf who would learn swordsmanship from her so seriously, who was diligent, hardworking and attentive is now gone. Replaced by a demonic entity.

“Oh, both of you came? Osmund, Aurora.” Nardred eventually speaks. Although the voice itself hasn’t changed, the chilly tone causes goose bumps to break out on one’s skin.

“Nardred…exactly what is happening here…” Aurora’s voice shudders as her vision blurs. Blinking with the intention to clear it instead results in teardrops rolling down her cheeks.

“Hmm? Are you talking about this?” Nardred lifts a hand to eye-level, casting appreciative glances over the black runes decorating his skin. “I wanted to be strong, and I’ve finally achieved my heart’s desire. Shouldn’t you congratulate me?”

“Nardred! You know this is wrong!” Aurora shouts. “Why – why would you – ”

“Return with me.” Osmund interrupts the young lady’s words, tone smooth and steady as he stares at Nardred. “You have been tainted by darkness and require purification.”

“Don’t take me for a fool,” Nardred scoffs disdainfully. “Purification? Isn’t that setting me up to die? I haven’t yet lived my life fully!”

“You wouldn’t die!” Osmund insists, stepping forward to grab his arm. “Trust me, I will not let you die. I will always accompany you!”

“As if I will believe you!” Nardred recoils away from the other man, expression hardening. “Moreover, what will happen to me once I am purified? Even if I do not die, I will still be forced to live in hell! I’ve had enough of being weak, of being humiliated by everyone!”

“I will always be by your side. No one will be able to humiliate you anymore.” This promise is delivered in a firm, unwavering tone.

“Me too! I will definitely help you to the best of my abilities!” Aurora pitches in instantly.

“I don’t need anyone.” Nadred remains unmoved. “The only one I can trust is myself. The only thing I can believe in is my own strength.”

Seemingly unwilling to waste his breath, the elf turns to leave. Azure irises shrink, and Osmund moves forward with the intention to halt him. However, it only serves to infuriate Nardred.

Black mist congeals into a double-edged dagger that lashes out at Osmund, slicing a piece off the long, white sleeve. Glaring murderously, he snarls, “As I owe you a life-debt, I will let you off this once. However, if you attempt to stop me again, I will not be lenient!”

Gaze locked on Nardred, a deeply grieved expression crossed Osmund’s attractive face. After a moment of tensed silence, his sceptre rises. “I have to stop you. I cannot bear to watch you fall deeper to the darkness.”

“Heheh…” Soft, mocking laughter falls from Nardred’s mouth. “You are welcomed to try. I am no longer that feeble and powerless Nardred!”

Saying thus, he darts towards Osmund like a bolt of black lightning. Sharp blade clashes with the shaft of the sceptre twice. As Nardred pulls his arm back for a third strike, Osmund draws a sword from his sceptre and swings it in a horizontal slice. Deftly dropping into a half-crouch to duck under the blade, the elf’s free hand swipes out. Everything in their vicinity withers, save for the Holy Son wrapped in brilliant tendrils of light.

Standing a distance away from the ensuing clash, Aurora thought about intervening time and again. Nonetheless, she refrains from doing so as she is well aware that her currently skills are insufficient to stop either of them. Hence, she is left to fret, afraid that one of them will come out of it mortally wounded. However, in a duel to the death, there will always be a victor and a loser. Unless, of course, both sides suffer.

Dark magic lashes out aggressively, aiming to maim and injure. However, the light magic only rises to protect its wielder and seek to restrain its foe, as if unwilling to bring any harm to the other party. In the end, a black blade sinks into Osmund’s chest, rendering him unable to continue fighting.

“Osmund!” Aurora cries out, lifting her sword and rushing to his side, wanting to block the dark, bloodied blade striking downwards once more. A shame that she is too far away, only able to watch in horror as the dagger heads unerringly for the slender neck – and stopping a hair’s breadth away.

A thin line of red appears on Osmund’s fair skin, but the Holy Son doesn’t look away, staring at the elf with eyes full of affection and deep, surging emotions.

A curtain of long, black hair obscured Nardred’s face from view. The weapon in his hands doesn’t waver in the slightest, looking for all the world like a statue.

Aurora halts mid-charge, not daring to breathe as sorrow, distress and a sliver of hope wars within her heart.

Nardred did not kill Osmund. He still retains his feelings, no matter how small a piece it is.

Under Aurora’s apprehensive gaze, Nardred eventually moves. Swiftly retreating backwards, he eyes Osmund coldly. “I’ll spare your life this time, but not the next.”

Osmund opens his mouth to reply, but what comes out is a series of coughs, blood staining his white robes. With no desire to stick around and hear what the injured man has to say, Nardred whirls on his heels and stalks off.

Hurrying over, Aurora props up Osmund’s swaying body, hand on his arm to prevent him from continuing to chase after Nardred. Then she lifts her head and abruptly yells at the retreating figure, “Nardred! I know you still remember! I know you still harbour feelings for Osmund! Am I right?!”

Nardred steps freeze for a split-second, but he doesn’t turn back. His silhouette vanishes into the dense fog a moment later, leaving behind the friends he made throughout this journey to stare helplessly in the direction he disappeared into as if waiting for a miracle.

– But the miracle will never come.

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IANEWtbaSML 3.6

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Chapter 3.6

“Lovers?” Sui Yuan’s expression blanks as soon as he hears Aurora’s question in the middle of their spar, then shakes his head. “No, we are merely good friends. I am grateful to him for having saved my life, but that’s all…”

“If that’s the case…” Aurora restrains the joy in her heart, cautiously sounding him out again. “Actually…I…like Osmund a little…”

“…I know.” Nodding his head, he allows a flicker of melancholy to surface. Only, it’s a pity Aurora catches it immediately, but doesn’t quite comprehend this expression of his.

“…That’s…I mean…” Aurora scuffs the dirt with the tip of her boot, hands bashfully wrapped around the hilt of her sword. “If you two are not lovers…then, I…will I be allowed to pursue him?”

Sui Yuan freezes, somewhat torn.

While he really wants to wholeheartedly approve this female lead taking the initiative to pursue the male lead, even wishing to pop fireworks in celebration, according to the original story, the supporting male lead who harbours feelings for her should not feel so excited.

Although Nardred already harbours adoration for Aurora after she saved his life, due to his low confidence and thinking he is unworthy of her, he buries his feelings deep in his heart. He will not take the initiative to profess his love for her, but he will also not approve if the female lead asks his permission to pursue another.

Considering deeply for three seconds, Sui Yuan hardens his face and sheathes his weapon. Glum golden eyes lock on the nervous Aurora, and he states coldly, “I believe we shouldn’t waste time on such useless topics when sparring.”

Saying this, he whirls on his heels to walk away, intending to leave Aurora with his cool, elegant and grand back view. However, his plan is disrupted by as a hand wraps around his wrist, halting him dead in his tracks.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Don’t be angry, Nardred!” Aurora desperately cries out. “I understand. I will never bring up this matter of pursuing Osmund again. Please don’t be angry!”

Choking, Sui Yuan flounders inwardly at how he is meant to encourage the female lead to continue with her plan – female lead!! How can you give up so easily ah! If you wish to pursue, then brazenly go ahead and do so! Give your all in the name of true love!

Seeing Sui Yuan did not brush her hand off, Aurora heaves a sigh of relief. Pushing aside the slight disappointment curling in her stomach, she jests, “Really, you still say you don’t like Osmund. As soon as I say I wish to pursue him, you immediately want to break the friendship between us?”

Sui Yuan snaps his head around to face the female lead, wanting to sob in despair.

Met with Sui Yuan awkward expression, Aurora laughs brightly, patting him heavily on the shoulder. “All right, enough. I didn’t take you for a prideful person. Clearly liking Osmund but refusing to admit. After all, whenever you are within range, Osmund doesn’t care about anyone else. Since you are both mutually pinning, I will not intrude!”

“…You are overthinking.” At this moment, Sui Yuan can only get out this one miserable line.

Aurora nods, expression serious but carrying an obvious sign of “say whatever you want, I don’t believe you.”

“…Isn’t this a BG world?! Why would you assume this miserable expression is due to liking him instead of you?” Sui Yuan mentally collapses, complaining bitterly to 5237.

5237 feels more vexed than its partner. “Your mum! Exactly whose mistake is it! Whose mistake?! I want to cry even more than you do! I’ve long given into despair that this BG world will become a BL one!”

“What are you talking about?” Having just returned from consulting Obsidian City’s lord about the dark lands, Osmund immediately interrupts their harmonious and friendly air with a light frown.

A flash of gleefulness flashing through her eyes, Aurora turns to Osmund and grins. “Us? We were just talking about – ”

Sui Yuan’s hand slaps over her mouth, cutting off the latter half of her sentence.

“Only discussing different sword styles,” Sui Yuan continues from where she left off. He doesn’t know what will happen if Aurora managed to get out “talking about how Nardred likes you too”, but from what he knows about Zhao Xihe, the man’s response will undoubtedly be intolerable. He doesn’t even want to think of the possibilities!

Only when Aurora stops struggling and rolls her eyes exaggeratingly to signal she wouldn’t talk does Sui Yuan remove his hand.

Puffing out an annoyed breath, Aurora shrugs a shoulder, then link arms with Sui Yuan as though he is another one of her girlfriends, a crafty smirk on her face. “Right, right. We were only talking about different sword styles. We certainly didn’t discuss anything about feelings!”

Sui Yuan turns his head away from the two, really wanting to teach this female lead a lesson. Who taught her to be as disruptive as the male lead?!

“…Is that right?” Osmund’s frown eases, gaze dropping down to Sui Yuan and Aurora’s linked arms, then back to her face, a soft smile curving his lips. “We will be heading off to the dark lands very soon. One should indeed hone their skills as much as possible before then.”

Aurora unconsciously shivers and quickly removes her arm from the crook of Sui Yuan’s elbow. Sidling off to the side with a hollow laugh, her nervousness causes her to babble. “Osmund, your smile is a little scary…are you jealous?”

“What did you say?” The smile on his face widens.

“I didn’t say anything!” Aurora corrects herself instantly, forcing a laugh before declaring she wants to hone her skills some more. Turning around, she sprints off like a rabbit running from a predator.

Staring at Osmund as he moves closer, Sui Yuan’s lips pull downwards. “…You were out of character.”

“As long as you keep your distance from her, I will not go out of character,” is Osmund’s blunt reply.

5237: “Both of you, enough! QAQ”

All year round, the dark lands are shrouded in poisonous mist. Dense, thick clouds cover the skies above, making it impossible for sunlight to grace the earth below. Thus, this westernmost side of the continent is forever dim and moist, truly befitting being dubbed as the ‘dark lands’.

To survive in such harsh conditions, one has to rely on being the meanest creature out there. Plants, animals, dark elves. It doesn’t matter. If one isn’t vicious and violent enough, the end would come sooner rather than later. Any intruders who wish to pass through their domain will need to be skilful enough, or come prepared to sacrifice their skin and flesh.

Even though they entered this land with more than adequate preparations – carrying every kind of healing potion, detoxifying panacea, etc – the party of three are still making progress with difficulty. As he grits his teeth and pushes himself forward, Sui Yuan begins to question if the original Nardred made it through the dark lands and found the source of darkness all by himself due to a bug[1].

– Getting through this entire thing alone and surviving is truly illogical!

Although Sui Yuan had been initially displeased with Osmund for insisting on following him into the dark lands and thus changing the plot, right now, he is feeling rather grateful.

If he died before finding the source of darkness, the points he accumulated so far will definitely disappear!

Osmund possesses a remarkably large reserve of light energy, while Sui Yuan is a half-dark, half-light elf hybrid. Hence, between the three of them, the female lead is the most vulnerable to the poison permeating this place. As a pure human, her ability to resist darkness is pretty weak. Even if she has been training from childhood, she is still young and her experience is not bountiful at all. Charging into such a dangerous area with only a fearless attitude, she paid the price of being reckless and headstrong.

Osmund has no choice but to pay more attention to Aurora ever since entering the dark lands. After all, she is this world’s female lead. If he lets her perish here, both Sui Yuan and he will not be able to escape being heavily penalised by the ‘regulation’.

A yet again heavily-injured Aurora is supported by Sui Yuan, pausing for breath as Osmund takes it upon himself to search for a relatively safe place to rest for the time being. Using Sui Yuan as a makeshift crutch, a strained smile is plastered on Aurora’s face as she repeatedly apologises for dragging them down. Deathly pale from pain and blood-loss, she hasn’t uttered a single word of complaint.

No matter how much he wishes to open his mouth and comfort the female lead as they slowly make their way forward, he can only do so in the silence of his heart, for saying it aloud doesn’t fit his character.

The original text did not explicitly explain where the source of darkness lies as this is the supporting male lead’s experience and has nothing to do with the main leads. Therefore, the party of three can only rely on intuition to explore the land, wandering aimlessly like a blind housefly, wishing for what they seek to miraculously appear before them.

Sui Yuan just hopes that since he is playing the role of Nardred, he too will experience a strange feeling when he gets closer to the source of darkness. For now, however, what they need to focus on is not dying. Simply managing this will be all one can ask for.

“There’s a hollowed tree trunk up ahead. We can rest there.” Osmund’s sound drifts over through the dense mist. Sui Yuan and Aurora freeze, then increase their pace.

After they enter the safety of the tree, Sui Yuan lays Aurora down gently, shifting her a little so her back leans against the wall. Osmund busies himself with gathering a few dried branches and leaves, igniting the small pile with a simple fire spell. Once the blaze gets going and illuminates the interior of the tree, he moves over to carefully inspect Aurora’s injuries.

Standing off to the side, Sui Yuan exhales heavily when Aurora’s condition stabilises. With tension draining away, he finally notices the odd feeling tingling in his gut.

It is as though something is calling out to him.

Recalling the description in the text, Sui Yuan brightens, turning towards the mouth of their temporary hideout. The feeling grows stronger, and he doesn’t resist its beckoning. With slow steps, he is drawn to the entrance, staring out into the distance.

“Nardred?” Even when he is treating Aurora, his attention is constantly on Sui Yuan. When the elf’s expression changes, Osmund immediately raises his head.

“……I’m going out to take a look around,” Sui Yuan replies. Although it is a vague answer, Osmund understands his implication clearly.

Opening his mouth, Osmund is about to suggest coming along, but he remains silent after a moment’s consideration. As actors, they need to comply with rules and logic.

If the Holy Son goes with Nardred and stumbles across the source of darkness, he will immediately recognise it for what it is, and will prevent Nardred from swallowing it. Should this happen, it will impede a key event in the story from happening. Changing the storyline so the female lead is travelling with them as a companion is the limit to which he can alter things without major repercussions. He doesn’t wish to completely derail the plot.

Therefore, no matter how worried he is, he simply nods in consent and acts accordingly. “Got it. Be more careful and don’t wander too far.”

“All right.” Sui Yuan offers him a rare smile in thanks for keeping the plot on track. Then without the slightest hesitation, he walks out of the hollowed tree trunk and disappears into the dense fog.

The source of darkness is calling out to him. He has finally found it!


 

Footnotes:

[1] Bug as in system bug. Not 🐛

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IANEWtbaSML 3.5

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Chapter 3.5

Naturally, the banquet prepared by city lord Sansa held in the honour of Osmund is an extravagant affair.

Originally, Sui Yuan is not meant to be here together with the two main leads. With no idea how to overcome this phase of the story, he is happy to continue remaining invisible in the eyes of everyone present. Plastering a cold and unwelcoming expression on his face, he chooses a small balcony as far from the feast as possible to occupy. Hugging his knees to his chest, Sui Yuan perches comfortably on the banister, half-enjoying the melodious dance music and half-conversing with 5237.

From the looks of things, it seems Aurora is also finding this entire affair difficult to deal with. In addition, the city lord is intentionally aiming for her, attempting to unmask her flaws before Osmund, leading to the poor female lead’s dazzling smile dimming considerably and appearing rather vexed. With considerable effort, she manages to break away from the vicious pack of female nobles, making her way to the small table at a corner filled with dessert.

As a foodie, Aurora’s depression is cured by the sweet, delicious desserts, and her cheerful expression is reinstated after a while. Finally, after devouring a few more small cakes, she starts to search the area for her companions.

Unlike Sui Yuan and Aurora, however, Osmund takes to the banquet like a fish to water, long accustomed to such events. His every move is neither flamboyant nor restrained, but mild and aloof, befitting his status as someone high up and effortlessly commanding respect. Whether it be males or females, none dare to be too excessive in speech or action before him. Dazzled by his grace and charm, the relatively large crowd surrounding him listens attentively to his every word, eyes loathe to part from his fair face.

“Hmph, really knows how to put on an act,” 5237 sneers, for some obscure reason detesting that man more than his victim – Sui Yuan – does. Adding onto the fact that it harbours an intense hatred for 0007, 5237 really wishes to be rid of this master and servant pair as quickly as possible.

“There’s no need to say that ah. Aren’t I the same as him?” Sui Yuan shrugs lightly.

In actual fact, while Sui Yuan may be the sort of actor to read lines from the script word-for-word, he is also someone who completely immerses himself in the role. As long as he is in a world, he will meld the character’s persona with his own. That way, there will be no mistakes made when struggling to stay in character because he doesn’t think of himself as a separate individual.

It’s probably because their topic of conversation is Osmund that Sui Yuan’s gaze unconsciously sweeps over the crowd and lands on said man. Right this moment, Osmund glances up and catches Sui Yuan’s stare.

Warmth seeping into that bland smile, he apologises to the people around him clambering for attention and expertly extracts himself from their midst, then heads towards Sui Yuan. The elf eyes him warily, not too sure what the other is planning to do. Finally, he decides to wait and see.

“Not fond of these kinds of events?” Osmund inquires softly. “Why not have a dance?”

“I don’t know how to,” Sui Yuan admits honestly. This is his first soiree, and he didn’t think about learning to dance beforehand, more focused on other important subjects like language and arts. On top of that, with his role as Nardred, there is an even less chance for him to actively participate in dancing without him being out of character.

“It’s not proper for you to lack this knowledge. Which is why you cannot avoid participating in this affair.” As he says this, a hand darts out to grab Sui Yuan’s arm, dragging him off the banister.

Unprepared for the sudden physical contact, Sui Yuan stumbles, hands instinctively coming up to catch himself. Another tug on his forearm has him hitting Osmund’s chest, an arm wrapping around his waist and trapping him in an embrace.

“What are you doing?!” Sui Yuan explodes, struggling in vain to escape the hold. However, Osmund’s elegant appearance bellies great strength, rendering a pre-villain BOSS Sui Yuan helpless.

Although Osmund’s class is a priest, it is predestined that he still possesses the strength and physique of a warrior. This right here is an apt example of an author’s partiality towards the male lead.

“Teaching you to dance.” Osmund’s false gentle attitude doesn’t waver in the slightest, remaining unmoved even as Sui Yuan strains with all his might to shove him away.

Failing to resist, Sui Yuan has no choice but to make a compromise. Frowning, he allows the other party to move his limbs to the appropriate position, resentment growing by the minute. “You are bluffing me again. Don’t think I don’t know that you are teaching me to dance the woman’s part!”

The bastard has the gall to laugh. “That’s right, because this is the only part you need to know.”

Sui Yuan: “囧”

“Trust me.” Osmund lowers his head, lips brushing Sui Yuan’s sensitive, pointed ear and speaking lowly. “Because you will never get the opportunity to dance with a woman.”

Sui Yuan: “………”

– Such a savage curse!

No matter how Sui Yuan harbours the intention not to cooperate with Osmund’s actions, in the end, he still has no choice but to follow his movements, each step full of reluctance. With no way of resisting, the next best thing he can think of is to step on the other man’s feet as frequently and viciously as possible during the dance. But once again, his plan is thwarted, this time by his own elven nature. Elves, whether they be light or dark, are naturally sensitive to music. Even unbidden, their movements will match any beat, each step graceful and lithe. Hence, within the minute, his steps begin to match Osmund’s, moving like he has been doing this all his life.

Elves are natural-born artists. No other race comes close to their talent in music, song and dance, let alone hoping to match their artistic touch.

One clad in long, white, Heavenly robes and the other in midnight black, fur-skinned attire, the Holy Son and an unknown elf’s every move are in perfect sync. Black and white crisscross like bright moonlight against a starless night sky, contrasting yet co-existing, impossible to be separated.

Staring at this scene, the Obsidian City’s lord purses her lips tightly, suddenly feeling that the target she has always taken note of and guarded against is reduced to a mere joke now. Her eyes shift towards Aurora, who is still standing in a corner of the ballroom. Even from this distance, she can make out the unwavering gaze fixed on the two men, loneliness and envy in those naïve eyes.

Sighing to herself, Sansa walks sedately over to the young human woman.

Although Osmund and Sui Yuan are dancing together in a quiet and inconspicuous corner of the ballroom, the spectacle quickly draws everyone’s attention. It’s not because the sight of two men dancing is strange, but rather, because Osmund’s gentle look is all concentrated upon the elf, which in itself is hard to believe.

Anyone who has interacted with the Holy Son knows that even if he looks mild and gentle, beneath it all, he is a pitiless and coldblooded person. He can treat everyone kindly, but will never place more than a sliver of attentiveness on a single individual. A large but shallow heart. Distribute a little to each and one will be left with a meagre portion. Never before has anyone seen him so focused on somebody as though everything around him simply fades away, ceasing to exist.

If Osmund himself was standing amongst the crowd watching the actor in his body dancing with Nardred, he would have been able to tell he is acting very out of character in a single glance. In the later part of the plot, even after he and Aurora become lovers, he still doesn’t pay as much attention to her as one would expect. But Zhao Xihe cannot help it. For as soon as he pulls Sui Yuan into his arms, every other superfluous thought escapes his mind.

“That man…who is he?” Sitting down beside Aurora, she can see how tense the other woman is, as though she is all alone in enemy territory. Sansa’s manner unprecedentedly softens, a trace of empathy seeping into her eyes.

“Who?” Aurora jerks a little in surprise before replying, “Oh, are you asking about Nardred?”

“Nardred? That elf?” The Obsidian City’s lord ponders for a moment, not recalling an elf going by this name from her extensive memory. “How did he come to know Osmund?”

“I’m also not too clear about that.” Aurora shakes her head. “When I joined their party, they were already together. I only remember them saying something about Osmund saving Nardred when he was injured. This time, we are going on a journey to accompany Nardred into the dark lands. Osmund feels uneasy if he allows Nardred to go alone, and I’m just tagging along for the experience.”

“The dark lands…Lord Osmund is actually willing to take such a huge risk for him…” The city lord’s eyebrows draw together, a feeling of anxiety surfacing at the bottom of her heart.

In his lifetime, Osmund has saved the lives of countless people, therefore, one cannot use this event to explain the intimacy between these two. But looking at Aurora’s wide-eyed and naïve visage, Sansa knows that she most likely cannot get anything more from the mouth of this young lady.

Right this moment, the music comes to an end. The elf pushes Osmund away from him, dislike clear on his face, cheeks flushed in anger. However, Osmund doesn’t get offended. Instead, the usually bland smile on his face widens into a genuinely cheerful curve as he leans closer, as if begging forgiveness from the elf, whose expression becomes less gloomy.

The Obsidian City lord covers her eyes with one hand, face void of all expression. She can’t bear to watch this scene any further. Her image of an apathetic and dignified Osmund shatters to little pieces as her heart aches in acute agony.

Lord Osmund sucking up to someone…this must be a mistake!!

“So envious ah…” Aurora sighs in both admiration and regret. “Osmund and Nardred’s relationship has always been so good.”

“…Don’t you feel it’s a little strange?” The city lord asks, voice steady. “I mean, this interaction between the two of them.”

“What’s so strange about it?” The female human tilts her head in confusion. “Shouldn’t lovers interact this way?”

“Enough!” The lord abruptly gets to her feet, frowning heavily. “They are not lovers!”

“Eh?!”

“It is impossible for them to be lovers! At most, they are very close friends! I have known Osmund for so long, therefore, I know what kind of person he is!” Sansa grits out between clenched teeth, trying to justify their actions and consoling herself. “You are overthinking it!”

“…Is…that so?” Aurora’s eyes brighten, a sliver of hope sprouting in her heart as she watched the Obsidian City’s lord stalk off. “So…they are still not lovers yet?”

Striding swiftly away from the ballroom to her office, Sansa retrieves her crystal ball and contact her best friend, weeping grievously.

“My Adonis Lord Osmund has a lover! And the other party is a male elf! I’m so heartbroken…what should I do… QAQ”

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IANEWtbaSML 3.4

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Chapter 3.4

“You are always so stubborn, trying to shoulder everything on your own. We are companions ah…” Supporting the tottering Sui Yuan with an arm around his waist, Osmund’s free hand presses gently against the wound on his shoulder. Silver rays of light surround the ugly-looking gash, rapidly staunching the blood-flow and knitting the flesh back together, leaving no trace of an injury behind on that pale skin. Colour returns to the elf’s ashen face immediately after the wound heals.

The breath Sui Yuan has been holding until now rushes out in a big exhale. No matter how many times he experiences it, he simply cannot be accustomed to pain. Immediately following Osmund’s hand dropping away from his shoulder, he says, “I have yet to acknowledge you as a companion.”

Osmund merely chuckles indulgingly. “You are right, I was the only who insisted on coming along. Allowing me to treat your wounds is already rather gracious of you.”

Sui Yuan: “……”

Aurora: “Requesting! Healing! Over! Here! Please stop being so lovey-dovey over there and look at me! Look at me ah! I’m nearly dead!! QAQ”

Hearing the female lead’s miserable howls, a flash of impatience flashes through Osmund’s eyes. In the end, he pulls away from Sui Yuan and waves his sceptre in Aurora’s direction as the elf buries his face in his hands, feeling helplessness grow in his heart.

As the silver light wraps around her, the female lead, who is nearly sobbing from being relentlessly chased by a demonic beast, eventually recuperates. Strength surging through her limbs once more, she springs high into the air, executing a perfect backward somersault. The longsword in her hands slices down to skewer the beast’s head, putting an end to this short skirmish.

Panting heavily as she lands on the balls of her feet, Aurora wipes the sweat on her brow before delivering a vicious kick to the dead beast’s side. Pouting somewhat grudgingly, she complains, “Osmund, you are too biased! When Nardred sustains even a small cut, you dote over him so much, but when I am being chased half to death by a monster, you don’t even pay any attention! Don’t treat your companions so differently ah!”

“My apologies. At times, I am unable to split my attention two ways. As soon as I see Nardred injured, everything else fades away,” Osmund explains with a soft smile. Because his character is meant to be someone who treats everyone equally favourably, he tags on another insincere line. “Fortunately, you did not sustain any serious injuries. I will definitely pay more attention to you next time.”

Aurora waves his words away with a roll of her eyes. She simply said it for the sake of complaining. Anyone with an eye can see how tenderly Osmund treats Nardred. It would be difficult for the former to pay any attention to others as long as the elf is here. Although she does harbour a small crush on Osmund, she is still a tactful person and hence buries it deep in her heart, enviously looking on as Nardred receives his affections and care.

Nevertheless, butting heads with a teammate due to a one-sided love is something only fools will do. Comrades with high abilities are also hard to find, so Aurora treasures Osmund and Nardred very much, valuing their skills over her crush.

…Moreover, who asked her to be an intruder insisting on following them halfway through? Being isolated is unexpected, but Aurora believes that as long they interact with each other long enough, she will definitely be able to make the two of them accept her presence wholeheartedly.

Inwardly clenching her fists determinedly, Aurora walks towards Nardred, bright eyes watching him attentively as she cheerfully proposes, “Nardred, let me teach you swordsmanship!”

Sui Yuan blinks, tilting his head at Aurora and staring with his usual blank expression. However, his eyes unconsciously soften as they land on the female lead. Since he has already missed the first opportunity to establish a foundation with the female lead, then in order for the story to continue, he has to seize more opportunities to allow his character to develop feelings for Aurora. What makes him want to break down in tears, however, is that bastard Zhao Xihe is always impeding his progress!

“You didn’t learn swordsmanship through proper training, am I right?” It is more a statement than a question. “I can tell just by the way you fight. You rely more on your fast reflexes and elven physical abilities to carry you through a battle. If you learn these skills the proper way and add on your natural-born abilities, you will definitely be an amazing swordsman!”

A flash of something flits through Nardred’s eyes, as though he has been semi-persuaded.

“How about it?” Seeing the hesitation, Aurora presses him excitedly, making a supreme effort to deepen the friendship between herself and her companions. “I will definitely help you to become a remarkable swordsman! Not as great as me, of course.”

Sui Yuan can’t help the corners of his lips curling upwards, displaying a small smile. “All right, I will learn from you. But I want to be an assassin, not a swordsman.”

A faint, radiant smile softening the harsh lines of his face transforms the elf’s gloomy aura to a more childish one. Members of the elvish race are all nature-born beauties, favoured by the Gods like the Heavenly race is. Although Nardred has lived a hard life and appears somewhat malnourished, it doesn’t decrease his attractiveness one bit. Instead, it causes pity to rise in people’s hearts when they gaze upon his frail body.

Here, Aurora feels regret and grief. Compared with her healthy, strong, and sturdy build resulting from good food and training since young, Nardred is obviously weaker. Hence, the fact that Osmund gives more attention to him isn’t something incomprehensible. Just looking at the criss-crossing scars lining his visible skin when he changes is enough to make her heart ache. On a subconscious level, she is also developing protective feelings for this elf.

“Then, it’s a promise!” Aurora grins brightly, patting Nardred’s shoulder with one hand while tapping her chest with a fist. “If you want to be an assassin, then an assassin you shall be! Leave it to me!”

Standing a couple of paces away from the two interacting cheerfully, Osmund has a gentle smile on his face, appearing rather kind and mild. However, one can see a trace of darkness in his azure eyes upon closer inspection.

System 5237, who has been keeping a close eye on Zhao Xihe shivers violently. Silently, it lights a candle for the female lead Aurora, who is still obliviously chatting away with its partner.

 – I wish you safe journeys and protection from a certain man. Amen.

Aurora is extremely stern when she teaches Sui Yuan swordsmanship. Thanks to Sui Yuan’s inborn physical superiority as an elf and his inhuman ability to absorb new knowledge quickly, he progresses at lightning speed. Upon seeing this, the self-proclaimed teacher becomes extremely exhilarated, wishing to impart everything she learned in her entire life to Sui Yuan.

Along with Sui Yuan’s ability gradually becoming more formidable, he goes from coming out of skirmishes bruised and battered, to being able to deal with large demonic beasts easily. At long last, one can say he has the skills to stand in this world alone without worries.

Either way, Sui Yuan really wishes he can interview Aurora in the future – after he swallows the source of darkness and takes his place as the villain BOSS – how it feels to have personally cultivated her enemy…

Under the male and female lead’s protection, Sui Yuan’s originally hard and bitter journey becomes more of a sightseeing tour where occasionally, beasts try to devour you and bandits attempt to murder you in your sleep. According to the original plot, the villain Nardred should have been caught by a slaver and sold as a slave, spurned by noble races, trampled on, tortured by the light elf tribe, and so on. However, all that is substituted by random tasks that arise from the leads’ natural disposition in helping others in need, like: helping an ill grandmother collect herbs, dealing with a dangerous demonic beast and saving the village, assisting townsfolk to revolt against a tyrannical lord, etc.

He can only inwardly choke on the fact that someone who is meant to be blackened after being subjected to inhumane and unjust treatments is now experiencing a rapid rise in morality during this journey.

In this way, doing a good deed here and there the entire time, the party of three eventually arrives at Obsidian City, a fringe city bordering the forbidden dark lands. Upon stepping through the gates, they receive a warm welcome, with the city lord leading the reception.

The lord for Obsidian City is the beautiful and alluring Sansa, and can be counted as the captain of Osmund’s fan club. In the story, she is Aurora’s major love rival. Originally, she should appear in the later stages of the plot when Nardred succeeds in kidnapping Aurora, and Osmund chases the villain all the way to Obsidian City, where Sansa assists him greatly. Now that Osmund appears before the scheduled time, she naturally enters the scene at an earlier time too.

City lord Sansa’s heart thuds erratically as she lay eyes on Osmund, greeting him with enchanting grace. “We welcome you to Obsidian City, Lord Osmund.”

Smilingly telling her she doesn’t need to be so polite in his presence causes the city lord to raise her head, eyes overflowing with emotions, staring deeply at Osmund for three whole seconds. Receiving no reaction, she eventually moves over to his side reluctantly and bumps into Aurora, who is busy taking in her surroundings with wide eyes.

Maybe it is the mysterious force of the author’s writing, or perhaps it is a female’s natural intuition when faced with another love rival – moreover, Aurora is a beauty – the city lord conceals hostility beneath a stiff smile, already objecting her presence. “This young lady is…?”

“Aurora. A companion whom I am travelling together with,” Osmund introduces.

The city lord greets her politely. No matter how resentful she is in her heart, Sansa is not so foolish as to expose it before Osmund. Overwhelmed by a socially superior woman showing her grace, Aurora clumsily returns the greeting. Evidently, she is not familiar with etiquettes of nobles, causing contempt to surface in Sansa’s eyes.

“Miss Aurora is unexpectedly able to be His Holiness’ companion on a journey. Indeed, many will be endlessly envious of your good fortune.” The city lord elegantly sweeps an arm out to invite them to accompany her into her residence, then sighs in sadness. “If I wasn’t weighed down by my duties as lord of this city, I would definitely follow His Holiness wherever he goes.”

Falling into step with the city lord, Aurora blinks ignorantly. “His Holiness?”

“That’s right. Don’t tell me you were unaware of his identity?” Sansa is a little astonished. “Lord Osmund is the Holy Son of the Heavenly race!”

Aurora’s jaw drops, whipping her head around to stare at the still blandly smiling Osmund. It takes a good long while for her mouth to work again. She assumed the man was simply another outstanding member of the Heavenly race, but never would she imagine he is the Holy Son. Speaking of which, why would someone with such a noble status be so amiable and approachable?

The corners of Sansa’s lips curl in smugness as soon as she sees the dumbstruck expression on Aurora’s face. In her heart, she thinks this lowly woman should be intimidated and keep her distance from Osmund now that his true identity is known. Feeling satisfied from one-upping her love rival, the city lord turns to address Osmund, “Your Holiness, in order to welcome you properly, I specifically prepared a banquet. I hope you would do us the honour of participating.”

Osmund inclines his head slowly. “To refuse would be impolite.”

As for Sui Yuan…un, in this short period of time, he has become invisible.

5237: “Truly gratifying ah! As expected of the female lead’s halo. Easily dragging the love rival’s hatred at first glance! I’m so moved that I can cry!”

Sui Yuan: “…Your expectations are lower and lower…”

5237: “…Don’t say things like that so easily as though it has nothing to do with you! Whose fault is it?! Idiot!!”

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IANEWtbaSML 3.3

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Chapter 3.3

“He’s lying to you!” Although it really abhors being in the same place with 0007, 5237 remains diligent in its efforts to keep its ignorant partner from stepping down the wrong path in life. “This is a BG world! Even if Nardred was rescued by the male lead in the original story, he will never fall in love with him! At most, he will only be grateful to Osmund as a victim is towards their saviour!”

“…But even if Nardred is only extremely grateful, this plot cannot proceed down the original path anymore ah…” Sui Yuan glances at Osmund who is leading the way in front as he inquires 5237 in distress. “As the villain BOSS, Nardred is destined to clash with the male lead. But now said male lead is his saviour, how will Nardred be able to raise a hand against him?”

“…Therefore, you must take the ‘love becoming hate becoming a desire to kill’ route… One determined to destroy the land, while the other wishes to protect it. Two close friends eventually turning into sworn enemies…peh!” 5237 spits vehemently. “I just knew it! 0007 is not anything good, and the partner it chose also wouldn’t be all that different from it! You still want to believe him? I think he is simply playing a prank on you!”

Sui Yuan’s gaze drops to his feet, not wanting to approve 5237’s words. Nonetheless, he feels that Zhao Xihe doesn’t genuinely want to compensate him by assisting him with the storyline… But if he has no desire to compensate, then what is his true purpose? It couldn’t be pulling a prank, right? How can someone be so bored as to do something like this when they should be focused on work?

From the very beginning, the plot was already messed up, forcing Sui Yuan and 5237 to carefully come up with ways to rescue it. Still, what truly makes them feel so agitated is not how they should push the male and female lead together – since the male lead is Zhao Xihe, no one can force him to do what he doesn’t want – but how to handle the relationship between the male lead and supporting male lead.

“Don’t be too anxious. At worst, we will get another low score for this world, then I will help you throw him off in the next world!” 5237 tries its best to comfort.

“How will you do so?” Sui Yuan questions hesitantly. “I can’t possibly stay in the space between worlds forever. And if I go anywhere, he will simply follow behind…”

“Even if he does that, I can still make it impossible for him to find you.” 5237 grins confidently. “After all, not every world has only one supporting male lead!”

As soon as he hears this, Sui Yuan’s drooping figure straightens in happiness.

“Umm…excuse me. Does Emerald City lie in this direction?” A hesitant female voice interrupts the conversation between Sui Yuan and 5237. Looking over his shoulder, Sui Yuan see a female swordsman standing behind.

Long, wavy, golden hair left to hang freely around her frame, jade green eyes shine with a friendly lustre, the dimples on her face is enough to make one’s good opinion of her rise. The young lady’s attitude brims with energy and vitality. It is exactly this warm charm that succeeded in chasing away the darkness in Nardred, and remains deep in his heart even after being turned into a ruthless being by the source of darkness.

With just one glance, Sui Yuan is certain that this young lady is the female lead, Aurora.

The meeting between supporting male lead Nardred and Aurora had been destroyed due to a certain someone’s meddling, and it seems the encounter between the male and female lead has been moved ahead of schedule instead.

When Sui Yuan is seizing Aurora up, the swordswoman’s gaze is firmly stuck on Osmund, who stopped and turned around as soon as he heard her question.

Love at first sight. In the original text, female lead Aurora also fell in love at first sight with male lead Osmund, and takes the initiative to pursue him. She is a cordial and passionate woman with a frank disposition. If she likes someone, she is willing to endure arduous tasks and suffer hardship in the name of love. Having grown up in a small town, her greatest desire is to become a world-famous master swordswoman. Not long after her training journey commences, she rescues the villain BOSS Nardred, then proceeds to fall in love with the Holy Son of the Heavenly race, thus being drawn into the dispute happening across the land between the dark and light forces.

Being the Holy Son, Osmund is honest, kind and gentle. He accepts all living beings in this world, but doesn’t understand the fires of romance at all. As a person who treats everyone favourably no matter their nature or identity, he even pities Nardred after meeting him for the first time, certain that this ruthless BOSS was warped against his will. As Osmund is always gentle with Aurora when they first met, she falls deeper and deeper for him to the point of no return even after discovering that Osmund treats everyone the same way. Equally, drawn in by Aurora’s relentless pursuing and selfless sacrifices time and again, Osmund’s heart begins to soften, and willingly sinks into the ocean of love.

…Originally…this is how the story should unfold…

Sui Yuan turns his head away slightly, filled with sorrow and regret.

“You are correct. This is the road to Emerald City,” Osmund replies with no trace of annoyance in his warm voice.

Sui Yuan remains silent, standing off to the side and allowing both leads to interact. After all, he doesn’t know the female lead now, and according to Nardred’s personality, he will be mistrustful of strangers. Thus, he opts to remain cold and distant, refusing to interact with Aurora.

Osmund’s words snap Aurora out of her daze. Her fair cheeks flush pink, embarrassed at her discourtesy. Nonetheless, her large, glittering eyes cannot help lingering on Osmund’s smiling face. “You…I mean, are the both of you heading to Emerald City too?”

At this, Osmund pauses, then turn to address Sui Yuan, asking, “Do you want to go to Emerald City?”

Unexpectedly drawn into the conversation, Sui Yuan stiffens for a second before shaking his head. “No, I want to go to Obsidian City.”

After a period of quiet reflection, Sui Yuan makes a firm decision – who cares! Ensuring his character keeps to the original plot is most important. He needs to leave for the dark lands, swallow the source of darkness, then return to fight with the male lead! Presently, his first priority is to seek out the source of darkness.

A frown creased Osmund’s brow as he understands what Sui Yuan is planning to do. “Obsidian City is located in the westernmost part of the continent, and beyond lies the forbidden dark lands. You want to go there?”

“Yes.” Sui Yuan maintains his icy aloofness and nods, not planning on concealing his plans at all when the other already has a rough idea. “I have had enough of being humiliated my entire life! I want to be stronger!”

The delicate elf’s jaw sets resolutely, golden eyes emitting a razor-sharp light, exuding unbending will. Osmund sighs softly. “This…there’s no need to be this way…”

“Everyone has a path they need to walk,” Sui Yuan interrupts coldly, wishing he can quickly shake this pig teammate off. “Even though you saved my life, and for that I am grateful, I will not renounce my ambition because of your ideas.”

“All right, Nardred.” A hand drops on Sui Yuan’s shoulder, azure eyes soothing. “I understand your point, and I have no desire to impose my beliefs on you. I merely speak out of worry. The dark lands are forbidden to everyone except the dark elves and is an extremely hostile place. Once a person enters, there is little chance of returning alive…”

“But only a place like that will be able to make me stronger,” Sticking firmly to the script, Sui Yuan says as he makes a supreme effort not to glance at the abandoned female lead.

“I understand.” Osmund nods slowly, a gentle smile on his lips. “Then I will accompany you.”

Sui Yuan: “……!!!!”

5237: “!!!!”

“…You just said, the dark lands are a dangerous place,” Sui Yuan speaks up after a stunned silence, attempting to prevent Zhao Xihe from derailing another plot yet again.

Sure enough, he shouldn’t have believed him! (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

“Due to it being dangerous, I cannot watch you leave on your own.” Osmund’s gaze is as gentle as can be, but steel lurks beneath the surface. “I will not drag you down. Two people travelling together is always more secure than one.”

“For the same reasons, I will not agree with you coming along.” Sui Yuan shakes his head. “You saved me and I cannot continue encumbering you, consciously allowing you to face danger.”

“Umm…excuse me from interrupting!” The young woman’s voice cuts into their argument, drawing Sui Yuan and Osmund’s attention.

Aurora raises a hand in the air, blinking her eyes in confusion. “The dark lands you two are talking about…it can make one stronger, right? Therefore…will it be all right if I tag along?” A bright beam appears on her face. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Aurora, and I am currently on a self-training journey to accomplish my quest of becoming the best swordswoman in the land!”

Sui Yuan & Osmund: “………”

Seeing the two men’s non-reaction, Aurora lowers her hand, rubbing the back of her neck in embarrassment, but not a trace of awkwardness can be detected. “Sorry, I know it’s rather rude of me, but I really want to take a look at the dangerous dark lands ah! Surely my swordsmanship will improve there, right?”

“It’s too dangerous, you will die,” Sui Yuan refuses her coldly, even as he feels the overwhelming urge to kneel before the female lead and sob.

Although in the original story Aurora fell in love with the male lead and pesters him until he allows her into his team, that doesn’t mean a future villain BOSS like him should be partying up with them! In addition, this journey is to help the future villain BOSS obtain a power that will make him a villain!

…Ha…haha…is this story about helping to mould a villain? Righteous folks having a hand in creating the villain BOSS?

“Thank you for your reminder, but I have already made my resolve.” Aurora’s eyes burn with determination, a self-assured grin on her face. “If one fears death, one certainly cannot walk down the path of being a great swordsman!”

“Not fearing death and actively seeking it are two very different matters. You are currently doing the latter.” Sui Yuan glares at Aurora, hiding his raging emotions underneath a frosty façade – this is another way to decrease the female lead’s good opinion of him.

“I trust you two ah!” A hand is waved dismissively, blatantly ignoring the hybrid elf’s warnings. “Comrades should fight together, isn’t that so? With three of us together, providing mutual assistance, the probability of surviving will naturally increase ten-fold!”

“……I can’t be bothered with you. In any case, I will absolutely not agree.” Scoffing disdainfully, Sui Yuan turns his glare on Osmund. “You are forbidden from following!”

Even before the last word falls from his lips, his slender figure disappears. Using the elf race’s supernatural speed and agility, he leaps up into the dense leaves above, silhouette vanishing in the span of two or three seconds.

“Hey! You—!” Aurora shouts, but is a second too slow to prevent him from fleeing. Subconsciously turning to gauge Osmund’s reaction, her eyebrows raise at his light, helpless laugh. What happens next causes her eyes to widen.

Large, white wings emerge from his back. Nodding to Aurora in farewell, his wings unfold, lifting him into the air in a couple of beats. Now comfortably above the canopies, he flies after Sui Yuan.

“…Heavenly race…” Aurora gasps in admiration. A heartbeat later, a steely glint enters her eyes as her mouth curves into a crafty smile. “Do you both think you can break away from me so easily? Such remarkable companions…I definitely wouldn’t be able to chance upon people like them again!” One hand reaches up to wrap around the green beryl[1] pendant around her neck.

A whirlwind envelops her, lifting her up into the air. In a split-second, Aurora vanishes from her original place, leaving behind a handful of falling leaves.


 

Footnotes:

[1] Something like this:

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