Rockwall Lou – V8 Chapter 9

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟗

(9)

“Sha-la-la-la.”

Although there isn’t even a breeze, every now and then transparent leaves shake, emitting a hard sound.

By the quiet spring.

Beneath the silver-colored tree.

There, Tweney was waiting for someone dear.

Over and over in her mind, Tweney pondered how to speak.

To not worry Luo.

To not hurt him.

Never to show a sad face.

As she thought about these things, she noticed the surroundings changing. The sky was dyed in twilight, and the water’s surface of the spring undulated between purple and peach colors.

The shadow of the big tree was slightly dim.

“Huh?”

Luo’s voice could be heard from nearby, and Tweney became tense. She clasped her hands as if praying, closed her eyes, and tried desperately to calm her heart.

“Ah, found you.”

Tweney was on the opposite side of the large tree, near the entrance to the “miniature garden”. Luo peeked his face from behind the trunk, with a broad smile.

“Y, Yes.”

Tweney’s mind went blank, and she just replied.

“Sister Ophelia said. Peppoko has something to tell.”

With light footsteps, step by step, he approached.

Seeing him,

Suddenly, Tweney realized.

The psychological descriptions in many stories. He never really felt them, couldn’t sympathize, and just understood them intellectually.

Anxious, restless, suffocating.

This feeling, probably.

“What’s wrong?”

“Sha-la-la-la.”

As if pushing Tweney’s heart, the silver tree rustled its leaves.

“Luo. I have something to tell you.”

“Hmm?”

A final moment for just the two of them to talk.

Putting on a smile, Tweney began to speak calmly.

About going alone to meet the malevolent god. About being consumed and dying. By doing so, the malevolent god will sleep, and many people will be saved. Of course, including the “Star Guardian” people.

She should be explaining it well.

Luo should understand.

She would die once, but with the guidance of the Goddess, she can be reborn in about a hundred years. Just like the six Star Princesses in the “miniature garden”.

So, there’s nothing to worry about.

“But, for Luo, I. . . . . .”

Tweney felt a chill running down her spine.

Her smile stiffened, and she couldn’t breathe.

Words wouldn’t come out.

Amidst an awkward silence, Luo asked,

“Are you going to be eaten by the malevolent god?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Barely, Tweney managed to reply.

With a forced smile, she added an explanation.

“But, it won’t hurt or be scary. I got medicine from Ophelia-sama for that. Look, this.”

She showed the “Tears of Lament” she had in her pocket.

“It’s in a colored glass bottle, very beautiful. Before being eaten, I’ll drink this. I don’t know if it’s sweet or bitter, but I’ll find out soon.”

What am I doing?

What am I saying?

It felt like my heart and body were being torn apart.

“Is that Peppoko’s decision?”

“Yes.”

“Then, let’s go together.”

 ㅤ

That one phrase pierced deep into Tweney’s heart.

Her heart trembles.

Unable to maintain a smile.

Even though it’s already decided. Even though I should be prepared being here. Why so fragile, so easily?

Tweney realized.

Not even allowed to wish, to my own desires.

“No.”

Like a guilty child, Tweney turned away.

“Luo can’t be reincarnated. Once dead, that’s the end. Coming with me is pointless.”

“There is.”

Luo asserted.

“There is a reason.”

How can you be so sure?

“That’s what Mom and Dad said.”

She heard it once before. Just before departing from the city of Arche. In response to her request, Theresa, the representative of Star Guardian, agreed to exclude Luo from the “journey of trials”.

You can’t leave a crying girl alone. Even if she says no, you must stay by her side.

Tweney must have glared at Luo.

“I’m not crying.”

How do you know?

“I’m not crying at all!”

Why?

Why is my heart so pained?

Maybe surprised by the sudden strong resistance, Luo became flustered.

But then, the mood changed.

Naturally, Luo touched Tweney’s cheek.

“Don’t worry. I will definitely protect you.”

Tweney didn’t react.

This isn’t Luo.

“. . . . . .stop it.”

I was planning to express my gratitude. Thank you so much for helping me. It was great to meet you. Please stay well, always. I was planning to convey words of gratitude to Luo with all my heart.

“It’s impossible.”

Yet the words that unintentionally came out were only the cold facts she heard from the former Star Princess.

They said, a mere human can’t stand against the malevolent god. Even the hero Maltheus gave up. The place where the wicked god resides is filled with an incomparably denser miasma. Even with Luo there━━

“It’s meaningless!”

Before you knew it, the surroundings were eerily silent. You couldn’t hear the sound of leaves. Even the twilight glow seemed lost.

Luo’s face in front of her was contorted, like a child left behind.

“Ah. . . . . .”

I was disliked.

The moment she thought that, all the strength drained from her body.

She understood.

The one who’s meaningless is me.

Even if I’m reincarnated a hundred years later, if there’s no Luo.

If Luo isn’t there, there’s no meaning.

“I’m sorry.”

In reality, until the very last moment.

“But there’s no other way.”

Always together.

“So, this is goodbye━━”

 ㅤ

Luo was determined to support Peppoko with all his might, as she traveled to help everyone.

Once, when he was on the verge of breaking, he was helped by many people until he found a new goal, and even after finding it. Yet, he didn’t realize this until just before leaving the village, so he couldn’t repay them.

Therefore, Luo decided,

If there was someone other than himself who had set a goal and was working hard, he would help with all his might.

The “journey of trials” was fun. He was always with Peppoko, and he liked the order from the Star Guardian seniors to not participate in battles against demon beasts but instead protect Peppoko.

However, things changed a bit after reaching their destination, the “Altar of Endings.”

It seemed that Peppoko wouldn’t be safe after achieving her goal.

And Peppoko knew it.

It doesn’t matter, thought Luo.

Just as he had once been, there are indeed things that one must achieve, even at the risk of one’s life.

Therefore, what he had to do remained unchanged.

However, during the journey walking at the bottom of the “great abyss,” doubts began to plague Luo.

He wondered if it was truly okay to continue this way.

Much of it was due to Maasa’s teachings.

[Luo-san, you shouldn’t blindly follow what others say. If something seems off, take a moment to reflect. What Luo-san wants to do is also important.]

Every time he thinks about it, he feels like something is wrong.

He was certain of that when he  arrived at a place called “miniature garden”.

Despite being overcome by an evil aura and losing consciousness, Peppoko carried him on her back. Even though she should have been exhausted, she never left his side and cried the entire time.

Peppoko is not just a child to be protected.

Naturally, he found what he wanted to do.

I wish we could be together, just like the memories of my Dad and Mom.

Luo thought.

Can I not fulfill both what Peppoko has decided and what I want to do?

It seems the root of all the problems lies with the evil god. Shouldn’t we just defeat that evil god?

When he asked the women in the miniature garden’s living room, Sorcier told him it was impossible. Unless the unshining star, a massive rock that floats in the sky, falls, the can’t defeat the malevolent god.

If that’s the case, the only option is to go meet the malevolent god with Peppoko.

Everyone dies at some point. So, until that time comes, it’s best to be together in harmony.

Yet. . . . . .

Under the silver-colored great tree, Peppoko said she would go to meet the malevolent god alone. It felt like the same moment to Luo. Peppoko was crying, but without shedding tears.

There’s so much I want to say but can’t.

But, don’t worry.

Borrowing a line from his father, he tried to tell the crying girl that he had to be by her side, but Peppoko unexpectedly resisted.

Luo panicked.

There’s only one thing to do now.

Imitate his father from his memories.

When alive, whenever his father upset his mother, he would act strangely and speak in a peculiar way to cheer her up. Even when his mother would ask him to stop because he was watching, he would insist on continuing until she forgave him.

However, even that didn’t work.

Why? It used to work before.

” “But there’s no other way,” Peppoko said.

But that’s not how Luo felt.

After his father died at the Grand Canyon, his weakened mother also passed away. He nearly broke down. His family was torn apart.

We have to be together; being separated is not acceptable.

And yet words seemed stuck in his throat, nothing came out.

However, he realized one thing.

If I keep silent, my hopes will fade away.

“I’m sorry, but there’s no other way.”

Even if it’s scary, I have to take a leap.

Just like when I defeated the Rock King Eagle.

“So, this is goodbye━━”

“Peppoko!”

He placed his hands on the shoulders of the trembling and hurt girl.

Jumping out, he realized she was unarmed.

I have to say something.

Something. . . . . .

“Ah━━ugh.”

It felt like my head was about to explode.

“Luo?”

His father’s words won’t work.

It has to be in my own words.

How can I make her understand?

How can we be together?

“Ugh.”

“Luo, are you okay?”

At the brink of his thoughts, suddenly. . . . . .

One answer dawned on him.

It was something very simple.

We should become a family.

Because a family should never be separated.

“Peppoko.”

He took a deep breath.

Then, with a face like he had discovered a precious treasure, Luo said. . . . . .

“Will you marry me?”

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