Chapter 38 – The Collapse
―――― About 13 years ago.
Karen was a notorious delinquent in her hometown, and she spent her days in solitude, separated from the people around her because of her bad behavior.
Because of her strong sense of justice, she often took more action than was necessary, and she was repeatedly confined to her house due to her propensity for violence.
Before long, she overcame her parents’ objections and enrolled in a military training school because of her ability to defend the public and rampage on the battlefield.
Although the environment changed, the reputation did not change, but her performance was greatly improved by the training, and the eyes of the people around her changed to awe, and she led a proudly independent yet solitary life.
Then one day.
Karen, who was on her way to the firing range for firearms training, was tapped lightly on the back.
Looking back, a girl with gray hair and grey eyes was holding Karen’s student notebook.
“You dropped this.”
Returning just one word, Karen took it and turned around.
She was usually feared by other students, so the conversation would normally end here.
But today was different.
She was grabbed on the shoulder.
“Just a minute.”
Karen, who was taken aback by the girl’s action, looked back and stared at her.
The girl did not falter at the ogre-like swordsman, and she stared straight back at Karen.
”You, where are you going for practice now?”
“Yes, me too. Nice to meet you.”
Saying that, the girl held out her hand with a smile on her face.
Karen couldn’t read her intentions and just tilted her head.
“…… What do you mean by that?
“Oh, maybe you haven’t heard. They’re going to pair us up for the next shooting exercise. I’m curious about you, and I was wondering if you could team up with me.”
“You don’t have anyone to partner up with anyway, do you? Then please pair with me, Ms. Karen.”
“I don’t have a veto. And how did you know my name?”
“It was written on the student notebook.”
Even so, Karen, who answered with a smile, scratched her head and grunted yes in annoyance.
She gave her a look of resignation and squeezed her hand back.
“Oh, I get it. If you’re that interested in me, I’ll partner with you. You don’t seem too bad.”
“It’s my name. Iris Harvard, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Karen.”
Saying that, she shook hands with Karen with a smile.
It was the first time for Karen, who had only been feared, to be in friendly contact, and she had an involuntarily amused expression.
Then Karen also opened her mouth.
“…… Karen. Karen Dashwood.”
“Yes, nice to meet you.”
“Hey, you. You’re sure you want to be with me? You’ll look bad.”
“Is that so?”
Iris easily brushed aside Karen’s consideration.
Indeed, as Karen said, the students around her stared suspiciously at Iris as she approached her.
However, Iris did not care.
“It’s all right, that’s about it. People who leave me for getting close to you and are not friends, they are people of that degree.”
This time, Karen cringed at Iris’ words.
After being stupefied for a while, she burst into laughter.
“Fufu, you have a bad mouth.”
“Hey!? What’s that all of a sudden?”
“And you don’t even know it. All right, I like you.
When Karen said that, with a nasty smile on her face, she put her arm around Iris’ shoulder.
Brought her lips close to her ear and said a remark.
“From today on, you’re my aide.”
Iris was bewildered at Karen’s words.
Karen, on the other hand, laughed openly.
“I’ll be stronger than anyone else. And someday I’ll be the Commander.”
“What ambition… What do you want to do as the Commander?”
“I don’t know. I’m just going to do what I want.”
“Haha… What kind of childish logic is that? I’m shocked to hear it. Your unclouded eyes tell me you’re a true idiot.”
“Such a bad mouth!”
“That’s not true!!”
Karen and Iris were jabbering away.
The impression of their first encounter with each other was “the worst”, but on this day they began to talk and often sat next to each other in classes.
After that, they safely graduated from the training school and joined the Elmerado National Army. Miraculously, they were assigned to the same unit and went out on the battlefield.
―――― Karen lost her left eye as she shielded Iris.
“Karen! Karen!! Hold on!!”
Iris frantically called out to Karen, who had a hole in one eye, constantly shedding from there, causing her to lose consciousness.
At Iris’ call, Karen turned her face to Iris and breathlessly responded.
“Not, your fault… Iris. I messed up ………”
“Idiot!! Why did you cover for me!”
“Because without you, gah… I’m no good without you …”
In Karen’s words, Iris made a sour face and shed tears.
“I’m an aide… you’re a Commander, aren’t you?”
“Then I’ll have you rise to Commander!! That’s why, you’re not dying here!!”
“Sorry… so sor…”
“And don’t apologize! I’ll get the wound closed quickly and stand you up!!”
Saying that, Iris put her hand around Karen’s shoulder and started walking.
Then, while carrying Karen, Iris muttered in a soft, quiet voice.
“…… Seriously, you’re the one who has to be there.”
“It’s been a long time, woman.”
Hildle, a blond haired girl wearing a gas mask that covers her face.
Without being able to read her expression, she quietly looked at Karen and whispered.
“…… Even so, the atmosphere seems to be quite different. I can’t feel the fighting spirit like I used to.”
Olivia shouted at Karen while she was unable to move due to the intense pain of her broken arm.
However, she still seemed to be out of her mind.
Hildle, who saw it, tilted her head slightly.
“…… Why? Where’s all the grit you showed before?”
At last, Karen looked up at Hildle and whispered.
With a broken smile, she said.
“That’s enough. Kill me.”
“Ms. Karen, what are you saying――――?!?”
“I can’t do this without Iris.”
With her eyes down, Karen said in a sad voice.
Karen couldn’t respond to Iris’s romantic feelings. she could allow herself to be physically involved with her, but couldn’t allow her heart to build a deeper relationship.
But Iris certainly had feelings for her. She was a precious companion. They both overcame predicaments together and fought to reach the same world.
So even if you reach that summit, it’s meaningless if she wasn’t there. Karen was beginning to think so.
Even if she wasn’t in love with her, she was certainly a big part of her heart.
“That’s enough. Kill me.”
“Idiot, Karen, please don’t ――――”
“I have no need of a warrior who is unwilling to fight. You should disappear from this place immediately, woman.”
After Hildle opened her mouth with a half-resigned voice.
She struck Karen’s head with a roar.
Karen Dashwood’s head was crushed and her consciousness was reaped in an instant.
Strangely, it was the same as Iris’ death, just before her head shattered.
Karen, who died the same as Iris, had a smile on her face.
『I hope that calmed you down a bit.』
As far as the eyes can see,Tumberose.
Surrounded by its intense fragrance, Karen stood on the flower field.
And in front of her, Elena opened her red eyes and smiled.
「…… I’m dead, aren’t I?」
Ignoring Elena’s words, Karen stared at her and asked.
But unfazed by her menacing look, Elena was spinning around Karen.
She responded while spinning.
『You are immortal. With that degree of injury, you’ll revive normally.』
「Damn. Let me go to Iris now.」
『Fufu, I see.』
Twirl, twirl, twirl.
『I took a look into your past. She’s a lovely person.』
『You were all over each other so many times. Even if only your hearts did not understand each other, you filled each other’s heart. What a lovely person.』
Round and round. Round and round.
She said with a smile as she spun around.
『Why did she die? Shall I tell you?』
Karen raised her head at Elena’s words.
Looking desperate as if she is clinging to a straw.
Elena gently hugged Karen from behind.
『Mother’s plan. I don’t know the whole picture, but the presence of the Undying was essential for her to carry out her plan. You know this much, right?』
「…… Oh. So what’s the deal with that?」
In Karen’s words, Elena smiled and sensually stroked Karen’s lips while combing her hair.
『The condition of becoming Undying, it is to dwell in madness. And the easiest way to break a human being is to give them deep despair.』
「………… What do you mean?」
Karen was driven by a strange sense of impatience while returning Elena’s words with a question.
She felt like she shouldn’t be listening to Elena’s words. Her brain was sounding alarm bells that it was dangerous to go any further.
But even though she understood it in the back of her mind, Karen couldn’t stop listening.
Elena crossed to the front and gently put her hand around Karen’s neck.
She stared and pleasantly told her.
『I’ve always been interested in you, Karen. I’ve been wondering how to make you despair. And then, that girl showed up.』
「Oh, no, that’s…」
When Karen’s blood began to draw, the corner of Elena’s mouth lifted.
With a lascivious smile, she gently kissed Karen’s ear, whispering the sweet and cruel truth with a hot sigh.
『Iris, was killed because she met you. From the beginning, she was kept alive only to be killed as a sacrifice to “complete” you.』
Karen heard those words.
She was so dazzled by the darkness before her that she could not breathe.
Her expression collapsed.
No, it broke.