Chapter 22: Determination
“I’m sorry for summoning you like this. I really wanted to talk to you when Ralph wasn’t around.”
“No, it’s okay.”
Saint-sama said that and smiled awkwardly. It seems that what the man named Melvin said was true. But it’s natural to doubt when I was almost killed right after meeting him.
I was worried that if I left the house without saying anything, they would be concerned. But I was told that they made a suitable replacement for me, so it’s fine. He’s really the country’s top magician.
I was offered the same chair as last time and sat across from her. Melvin also sat down, a little further away from me.
“Let’s get straight to the point.”
“I think Lisette’s soul is similar to ours, The Saints.”
“. . .Huh?”
My soul is similar to the saints. . .At the sudden unbelievable statement, I spilled the tea that had just been served.
“Your soul is covered in black magic from the monsters. But faintly visible through the gaps, your soul has the same color as ours.”
“Doesn’t anything come to mind? Like having some kind of power.”
“. . .Ah!”
At that moment, I suddenly remembered that in my first and second lives, I was able to use what seemed like healing magic. And when I conveyed that, she seemed to understand.
It seems that there is not just one saint. Currently, the one with the most power known to the country is Beverly-sama, but there are humans like me who are not aware or recognized.
“I thought so. It’s probably because your power was weakened and became unusable due to the influence of the monsters. From here on, let’s proceed with the assumption that Lisette’s soul belongs to the saints.”
“. . .Yes.”
“After investigating the time period from 547 years ago, that Ralph mentioned, there were records of defeating the Demon King. Although the hero party was wiped out, it was written that it ended in a mutual kill.”
The hero party was completely wiped out. They must have met a formidable and troublesome opponent. Just imagining it makes me shudder.
“. . .What I actually think is that the handicapped Demon Lord, who survived, attacked the former Lisette.”
As Saint-sama clearly said so, at the corner of my vision, I could see Melvin’s bright red eyes widen.
I also held my breath and waited for the next words.
“Do you know the difference between monsters and Demon Lords?”
“It’s whether they possess special abilities. This Demon Lord had the ability to manipulate time, which is why the hero party struggled and ended up being wiped out.”
The ability to manipulate time. Thump, my heart made an unpleasant sound.
“Also, you know, our souls as Saints are more than anything a source of power for monsters. The ultimate feast, so to speak.”
“That’s. . .”
“Isn’t it possible that the wounded Demon King kept reincarnating you using his own powers as a source of sustenance until he could recover? The damage inflicted by the hero’s party was life-threatening, so it wouldn’t be strange if he needed to do something like that in order to heal.”
It’s just a hypothesis she came up with, Saintess-sama said, but to me, it seemed like the truth.
“I don’t know why he’s fixated on Lisette, but maybe your soul was that special. Besides, it should be easy to reincarnate a single human.”
As I was at a loss for words, she continued.
“Do you know why I’m being protected so strictly?”
Both last time and this time, there were many knights around her.
I thought it was because of her position as Saintess-sama, but apparently, it’s different. I shook my head left and right.
“You know, I’m turning twenty soon. Humans, you see, their souls shine the brightest at twenty. It’s like the perfect time for monsters to feast.”
“. . .!”
“I’m sure Lisette was targeted at that age every time. Perhaps he hid and slept until you turned twenty, repeating the cycle of devouring and waiting for complete recovery. This is the hypothesis I came up with. What do you think?”
Her story seems to be logically consistent. In fact, I can’t think of any other possibility.
“I have a feeling that. . .that’s how it is,” I could only mutter in a barely audible voice.
“That’s a messed up story. It’s like she’s livestock for consumption.”
“Melvin, stop it.”
Saintess-sama glared at Melvin as if admonishing him, but he was probably right.
To monsters, I must be no different from livestock. I would be fattened up until the time when I’m most delicious, and then I would naturally be eaten. I am just food to them.
Still, I didn’t want to believe that I had been reborn over and over again, suffering for such a reason. What was my life until now?
“It’s been 500 years, and I’ve eaten you three times. It’s about time for your revival. Once you revive, there will be no use for Lisette anymore, and you won’t have to be reincarnated again.” I couldn’t help but think about the chances of such a revelation.
――I must have been mistaken. Of course, I didn’t want to go through the painful experience of being eaten by monsters again, but somewhere in my heart, there was always a feeling that if it didn’t work this time, there would be a next time.
“. . .This might be my last chance.”
That’s why I felt like crying when I was eventually told those words.
“If the Demon Lord fully revives, Ralph and we might not be safe. There’s even a possibility that he’s stronger than before.”
“Yeah, manipulating time is no joke. It’s dangerous.”
“We have to stop it at all costs.”
Saintess-sama and Melvin also seemed to have a sense of crisis. She let out a deep sigh and raised her face.
“When will he appear?”
“On your birthday, at midnight.”
“I see. Since we know he’ll come in advance, if we gather all the saints and magicians in the country and have two months, we should be able to set up a sealing barrier.”
However, Saint-sama continued.
“I’ll have to ask Lisette to act as bait. That’s why, I won’t be able to guarantee your safety anymore.”
While listening to Saint-sama’s words, I had a feeling that was the case as well. That’s why she tried to talk without Ralph present.
Of course, I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die at all. But with just my life, there won’t be as many sacrifices. Besides, I understood the terrifying nature of that monster the most.
There’s no doubt that it’s something that should never be let loose into the world.
“But, will Ralph allow it?”
“Judging from his demeanor, there’s no way he would allow it.”
As the two of them said, Ralph would definitely not allow it.
Thinking about betraying him, who said he would think of me and protect me, made my heart ache. But still. . .
“I request that we proceed with that plan. Please make sure to keep it a secret from Ralph. In return, could you prepare a place for me to hide until my birthday?”
“Of course, that’s no problem.”
“Thank you. I will leave Ralph’s side and spend the time left until my birthday there. It’s painful for me to stay with him while keeping this secret.I’ll feel like I’m deceiving him.”
“. . .I understand. We will do everything we can to protect you. And if it turns out that it was just a higher-ranking monster and not the Demon King-class, we will immediately lift the barrier and subdue it.”
Eventually, Saintess-sama lowered her long eyelashes and said, “I’m sorry.” But it’s not her fault. If it really was a Demon King-class monster, then it’s a small price to pay if it can be resolved with just my life. I’m sure anyone would make the same choice.
Desperately holding back the urge to burst into tears right now, I bit my lip tightly. I’ll cry when I’m alone.
──And so, one week later, I made the decision to leave the Marquis household and Ralph.