No matter how much he tried to shield the limp woman in his arms from the rain, he couldn’t completely stop the torrent from reaching her.
Rosetta, now, was completely soaked.
Cassion was worried about that.
Rosetta had stumbled and collapsed, and it would be huge trouble if she also got sick because of the rain.
In many ways, this rain was unpleasant.
Ah, even so, there’s one good thing about the rain.
Obviously, it was because the rain could hide their tracks at least.
The unidentifiable blue things, which had suddenly surrounded them, seemed to have very sensitive senses of hearing and smell.
And with the way they rolled their eyes around like that, it didn’t seem like they had a blind spot…
But on the contrary, it looked like they didn’t have excellent eyesight.
They always reacted to sound first, then they would roll their eyes after.
So, shortly after the drizzle had turned into a torrent, those blue things briefly fell into chaos.
Because both sound and smell were drowned out by the rain.
That’s the one good thing about the rain.
It’s what allowed him to lose those persistent things off their tail.
Of course, there were still a few ones that were especially good at being relentless.
The moment he thought about it, sharp nails rushed in from the side.
The protruding fingernails started reaching for his chest.
Cassion urgently halted in the middle of his run, then turned around with one foot as his axis.
Since he was cradling Rosetta against his chest, this was his best defense.
The nails instead scratched his back.
Soon, he felt a hot, burning sensation across his back.
However, there was no time to feel any pain.
Cassion shifted and carried Rosetta with just one arm this time, then he managed to pull out his sword from his waist.
It wasn’t an easy feat to pull it out because he wasn’t free to move.
Besides that, his hand was injured and tattered.
He sustained a gash on his arm earlier while he had faced the white-yellow deer, and it further got worse because he had to fight against the blue monsters without rest in that state.
Blood still continued to flow from his open wound.
Despite the terrible pain shooting up at his arm, he gritted his molars and wielded his sword.
He summoned mana into the sword.
And soon, the sword stretched outwards like a snake, instantly penetrating the chest of a monster that was about to rush at him.
Exactly where its heart was supposed to be.
As the blue monster let out a piercing shriek, it stumbled several steps back.
It struggled through the pain it was feeling and tried to take a few steps forward in, seemingly, a last-ditch attempt.
It’s not enough to say that it was persistent.
Staring at this monster as if he was already tired of it, Cassion unhesitatingly pulled his hand back.
Then a small spark rushed down the blade of the whip sword as it was pulled out of the monster’s chest swiftly.
Cassion’s electricity became more powerful in the soaking rain, and so when it reached the blue monster, a burning smell inevitably came up.
Their surroundings shone as if lightning had struck that spot, then the fog soon settled once more.
Crackle! A sharp sound accompanied the flash at that moment.
It was so bright.
At the same time as the clear sound of the sword echoed, the monster’s body began to crumble.
It collapsed, and as soon as it met the hard ground, the monster’s body crumbled into dust.
And as the dust mixed together with the rain, it dyed the ground blue.
Cassion stared at this scene for a while, but in no time, he urged his legs to move once more.
Again, a suffocating breath left through his throat.
Beneath the rainwater, his eyes were black.
* * *
His breathless running finally came to an end as he found a cave in a remote part of the mountain.
He found this place only after he ran and ran through the foliage for such a long time.
Fortunately, the cave was high enough up the ground that the rain hadn’t flooded it.
Cassion first made sure that the interior was safe before he laid Rosetta down on the cave floor.
And without any rest, he moved his exhausted body busily.
It was a precious hiding place that he barely managed to find, so he had to take the necessary measures before the monsters would catch their scent and find them again.
The first thing that Cassion did was gather some fallen branches and cover the entrance of the cave.
He brought in dry leaves along with the dead branches, and went back into the cave where he lit a fire.
There wasn’t much material to work with, but fortunately, it’s enough to make a small bonfire.
He allowed a small opening to remain at the cave entrance so that there’s a place where the smoke could escape. Then, finally, he leaned his heavy body back against the wall.
A small sigh rang out.
The crackling of the bonfire continued to echo inside the dark, still cave.
Apart from that, the drumming of the rain could also be heard against the ground.
It’s as if they were trapped behind a huge glass wall.
Like they’re stuck in here, just listening to someone from outside tapping on the wall.
Cassion closed his eyes for a moment, then he opened them once more.
As his body rested, his mind became more complicated.
Until this point, his mind had been on autopilot, just thinking about survival and only survival. Gradually, however, his thoughts became entangled.
Among the rising questions within him, the biggest question was this:
‘What in the world were those things?’
The blue things that suddenly swarmed and attacked both him and Rosetta.
They were neither humans nor animals.
Obviously, their physical appearances were reminiscent of such, but that was all.
It’s not enough to call them human or animal.
Right. They seemed more like demonic beasts than anything.
However, even that was suspicious.
He had only encountered one demonic beast thus far in his life, and it was the ‘white-yellow deer’ from earlier. And yet, it was clearly different from the blue things that he had faced just now.
He was nervous, but somehow felt excited and competitive as he was fighting the white-yellow deer, but…
When he first saw those blue things, all he felt was a chill.
An eerie, creepy feeling.
As if he was facing things that he never should.
It was a feeling. A gut instinct.
More particularly, it was about the way those things kept rising back up no matter how much he slashed and hacked away at them. It was to the point that he wanted to yell out, ‘What the hell am I supposed to do?!’
Thanks to those things, he got hurt a lot as well.
It was pure luck that he found their weakness.
When his sword had pierced through a blue human’s heart before, something fortunately caught at the tip of his blade.
When he broke that thing, the monster collapsed with an anguished cry as it perished.
Then, it turned into dust, which scattered.
If he hadn’t figured out their weakness…
‘I’m sure of it. I’d be dead by now.’
Along with her.
When he imagined the close possibility of that happening, it’s as if a sharp knife was lodged in Cassion’s throat.
An eerie chill traveled down his back and covered his entire body.
The feeling was as wet and chilling as the rain.
The black eyes slowly lowered their gaze.
And the final destination of that gaze was Rosetta’s sleeping face.
As she had her eyes closed, Rosetta’s face was exceedingly pale.
Just like when she had hyperventilated earlier, then eventually fell unconscious.
Her brows were knitted, as if she was uncomfortable.
Hesitantly, Cassion reached out and patted Rosetta on the shoulder.
Her pale, chapped lips cracked open, and a groan slipped through as she talked in her sleep.
Even now, she was still telling him to run away.
It was also the same when she had collapsed.
In any case, it seemed like Rosetta was having a nightmare right now, one in which she still couldn’t get out of the situation earlier.
Cassion had latched on to the words that she had murmured quietly.
Her tone had been so filled with desperation, as if the incoming danger would be far too much.
Cassion glanced down at Rosetta with a slightly morose gaze.
What the hell was plaguing her?
What the hell was she so afraid of that she had lost consciousness like that?
What the hell was he supposed to be running away from?
Only answerless questions filled his mind.
‘Ah, come to think of it.’
There was one incident that surfaced through his memories.
Just one instance.
Right. Just one.
He had seen Rosetta like this before.
Utterly frightened. Utterly pale.
It was during his funeral, when they were on their way back home.
When she had zoned out like that.
The Rosetta of today was so similar to the Rosetta of that time.
Back then, she remained ill for a long time after the funeral.
And, a few days after that incident,
She came to visit him and told him one thing. There was a determined look in her eyes.
‘…I thought I saw a monster. One that’s been chasing after me for a long time, that monster.’
A monster. She said she might have seen a monster…
Perhaps these monsters were the same as the monster that she was talking about that day.
Even if he were to voice this out, it was a pretty plausible guess.
But besides that, then it looked like Rosetta was being chased by these monsters for a long time.
To the point that she feared them, that she abhorred them…
Cassion gnashed his molars.
Unknowingly, he had bit down on the inside of his cheek, and a metallic taste soon spread inside his mouth.
At the same time, Cassion had unconsciously tightened his fist, and he couldn’t help but let out a small groan because there was a cut on his hand.
He belatedly felt the pain brought on by his injured palm.
And at that, pain began to flare up here and there.
It was as if the sensation had been waiting for his rigid body to loosen. His body started to scream all at once.
He curled up into himself. He endured the pain.
Nevertheless, the groans continued to leak through his lips.
His back, clawed open by a monster’s sharp fingernails.
His waist, slashed by a beast’s huge fangs.
His palm, burning because of a fine cut.
The rough sound that left through his dry throat echoed throughout the cave.
His waist was what hurt the most, and he clutched it with his hands.
It was almost an act to try and block it.
However, the place that he touched was muddled.
As expected, red liquid flowed down continuously as if to let it be known just how deep the gash he had sustained was.
And to make things worse, the gash was on top of an old wound—one from the carriage incident.
Over the barely closed scar, a new slash went on diagonally.
Letting out a laugh that sounded like a sigh, Cassion blinked his heavy eyelids.
The pain gradually made his mind sluggish.
Everything was cloudy.
But he couldn’t sleep here.
His physical condition was terrible, but regardless.
‘When Rosetta wakes up, she might feel out of sorts…’
He did not want Rosetta to be so confused again.
He did not want her to ever be in such a panic once more.
Cassion started to reach out towards Rosetta, but his arm stopped mid-air.
He shouldn’t touch Rosetta with his blood-soaked hand.
Using the back of his hand instead, the side that didn’t have blood, he touched Rosetta’s forehead.
Then, slowly, he wiped the moisture off her face.
And when he brushed the raindrops from beneath her eyes, it felt as if he was wiping away her tears.
Rosetta shook her head and winced.
“Shh. Everything’s okay. So…”
Please, don’t have any nightmares.
He spoke in a low murmur.
Rosetta seemed to calm down a little after that, as if his soothing had worked.
Cassion suddenly felt a sense of déjà vu.
Some time ago.
During a time that he couldn’t remember.
It felt like there was someone who had comforted him while had also collapsed.
Barely holding onto his diminishing consciousness, Cassion stared at Rosetta with a cloudy gaze.
He wished that she would wake up from her terrible nightmare soon.
That’s the first—the only—thing that he wanted.