Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“It was all in his plan.”
“Do you mean that he was deliberately injured and led you to use a spell to get you out of the game?” Kyfayar asked.
“Yes. That’s it.” Augusta turned his head. He had thought that the vicious flame of hatred had long been extinguished, but he did not expect that the flame still remained in the seemingly cool and dead embers, which would be ignited again once the wind blew. He wanted to bury the past forever. Why didn’t he let go of his hands and drag him into the abyss again?
“How do you know? If he had done it on purpose, how could he have disclosed it to you casually?”
“Because the truth is not a weakness for him, but a weapon. He had already planned when to attack me with this weapon. No, maybe on the contrary, it’s my weakness. Cavaldien had already figured out my character and knew what I would react to before telling me the truth.”
“He told you that himself?”
“Well.” Augusta dropped his gaze. “A year after the game, one of the great mages at that time, of course, died, and Cavaldien and I were among the candidates to be elected. Candidates must pass the tests set by the Archmage before they can be elected. I thought it was just another fight between me and Cavaldien, but I didn’t expect that Cavaldien would come to me in private and say…”
The voice reappeared in his mind. He thought he was a valuable and close friend, but it was his closest friend who betrayed him.
“I was hurt on purpose,” said the voice, “and I knew you would use an illegal spell to save me, because you are the kind of person: arrogant, abusive person. And I’m just the opposite of you. If I have to use you to achieve my purpose, then I will use you without hesitation. Because I have to win in the competition, I want to prove to everyone that even though I come from an ordinary family, I don’t lose to any noble family. Of course, I could have chosen to fight with you, but I didn’t have the confidence to win. What’s more, I can’t bear the consequences of losing to you in the duel. In that case, everyone would say, ‘That Cavaldien is really capable, but what, he’s not at par with Augusta Hollich.’ No, I couldn’t take that risk! If you want to pursue 100% victory, you have to get rid of this obstacle. So I deliberately hurt you to get out of the game for me. I paid the price, but It’s all worth it!’
“How could I stay calm when I heard that? If it had not been in public, I might have killed him directly to vent my hatred! But Cavaldien had calculated everything, even my mind and my actions. I was so overwhelmed by his words that I was naturally out of order for the next day’s test and failed. So Cavaldien was the winner again.”
Kyfayar said excitedly, “Why don’t you tell the truth? Why not expose him?”
“You think I didn’t try?” Augusta yelled out of control. “I told this to several ‘friends’, but none of them believed it! I even went to the great mage and told him everything. I asked him to give me another chance to test my real strength. But he swept me out of the house and ridiculed me because he said I was unwilling to lose to Cavaldien. Said I made up rumors and slandered him!”
He still remembered the day clearly. He was driven out of the house by the great mage and walked in the cold rain, but his heart was colder than autumn rain. He looked at the withered leaves and the distant lake rippling in the rain. For a moment, he even doubted whether he had imagined everything. Because he was not willing to lose, had his brain automatically fabricated a false truth to comfort itself? What was the difference between him and a madman? No, he’s not crazy. He’s not the kind of person who lives on delusions. Cavaldien really betrayed him twice and took away what should have been his! At least it’s something he’s entitled to fight for.
He looked at the gray lake and remembered the day of the rowing race. He almost drowned. It was Cavaldien who saved him and took care of him. Was that fake, too? He was in the freezing rain. If he fell ill again, would Cavaldien come to take care of him? No, definitely not. Even if he was bedridden, Cavaldien would probably not come to give him even a helping glance. Maybe Cavaldien had been planning since then how to win his favor and use him.
He was not good at dealing with people, and his friends were very few, so everyone’s friendship was precious to him. Why should anyone who had been his best friend betray him? Why was there no one around to believe him? If even Cavaldien could renege, how many other ‘friends’ around him really treated him as such? How many of the ‘friendships’ he had were insincere? When he saw his other friends, there would be a devil’s voice whispering to him: he or she may be the same as Cavaldien, secretly thinking about how to use you, look at them — what a fake smile!
“At that time, I was deeply disappointed with everything around me, so I left the metropolis, ran back to my hometown without saying a word, locked myself in this old house, and never saw anyone again. I didn’t care about what happened to the outside world, and I didn’t want the outside world to care about me. For a few years, I didn’t step out of my house. It was only later that the situation improved slightly.”
Of course, even today, Augusta was not willing to go out, as if all the outsiders were Gorgons, and their gazes would kill him.
Kyfayar’s hands on his knees clenched involuntarily. “Aren’t you still friends with Lord Cavaldien?”
Augusta gave an ambiguous, “Heh. Then we made up.”
“Have you forgiven him?”
“Reconciliation does not mean forgiveness. It’s just… Some sort of settlement has been reached. I had been in this house for years, and one day Cavaldien came to me. I used my best space magic to weave a seal around the house. All uninvited guests will lose their way and finally return to the original spot they were standing in for no reason. But Cavaldien impolitely broke my magic, broke into my house and demanded a duel.”
“He apologized to me, saying that he deeply regretted what he had done and that he should not have trampled on our friendship — though he would have done so if he had been given another chance. He vowed that he would try his best to make up for it in the future, but first of all, he would fulfill his long cherished wish and compete with me. I agreed without hesitation. Now I think, at that time, I was so ridiculous to think that I had to defeat Cavaldien to prove my value. Didn’t I become the same person as Cavaldien — the one I hated the most?
“We took a group of people as witnesses and ran to the island where the challenge was held. As a result… ” Half-disappointed and half-resigned, he sighed, “I lost again. Over the years, Cavaldien had learned many rare spells from the great mage, while I had spent my time in a broken house. In the past, we were equal. Now the gap between him and me was an insurmountable gap. But the duel sobered me up: I couldn’t afford to waste it. I started studying and doing research again, and the seals around the house were removed, and my friends who wanted to visit could come at any time, although there were not many people.
“I made a settlement with Cavaldien. I still can’t let go of my resentment and forgive him, but we can sit down and talk like ordinary people, and we won’t throw fireballs at each other if we don’t agree. I even occasionally recall the old days — the days when I didn’t break up with him — and I can say it was a good life. Probably people are like this, no matter how deep the pain is, once the wound is healed, they will forget the pain.”
“You still… Do you still hate him?”
Augusta stared at Kyfayar with strange eyes, “Of course, I hate him. He is the one who made me look like a ghost! Of course I know it’s abnormal to stay at home all day! I want to change it too! But whenever I…”
Suddenly he was mute, turned in the opposite direction, raised his hand to block his eyes, as if he didn’t want to be seen. It took Kyfayar a long time to see the transparent tears under his fingers.
“Whenever I try to go out, I can’t help but be afraid. I can’t help thinking and hesitating: what if the so-called ‘reconciliation’ was also calculated by Cavaldien?” He choked, “In the end, I can’t see the true feelings of others. Can all people be hypocritical to me and put a mask of hypocrisy on the treacherous heart? How can I trust others? Who can I trust? Even the person who I regarded as the best friend of my life could betray me, let alone others? I constantly torture my heart, and the result is not to encourage me to go out, but to keep me in my protective shell forever, so that I will not be hurt again. Don’t I know it’s abnormal? Do I want to stay in an old house all my life and get moldy? But I am… No matter what, I can’t… I can’t convince myself…”
One hand grabbed Augusta’s wrist and forced it away to reveal his swollen eyes. In panic, he tried to cover his face with his other hand, but the other hand was also caught by Kyfayar.
“You still have me, Lord Augusta.” The young werewolf said, “I will not betray you! I’m stupid. I can’t plan this or that. I will never use you or trample on your good intentions! You and me! Believe me!”
Augusta tried to break free of his grip, but failed. He couldn’t say it was because he was still ill. Even when he was healthy, he was not a werewolf’s opponent.
“But one day you will leave me!”
“How could you think that? I will always be with you!”
Augusta struggled again and failed again. He simply gave up resistance and could barely cover his face with his elbow.
“You are still young, and one day you will find that the world is vast and promising. When you walk out of this house into a world of infinite possibilities, you’ll never want to come back! Then you will leave me without looking back! If I believe in you now, I have to risk losing that trust in the future, and the only thing I’ve learned from Cavaldien is to never take risks when you are not sure.”
Kyfayar shook his head. “No! Incorrect! That’s not the truth! I will not leave you! Please believe me! Don’t care about the outside world! I just want to have you!”
“There are many things in the world that are more wonderful and interesting than a boring magician. Can you guarantee that you won’t? You can’t predict the future. How can you know that you won’t be attracted to those things in the future? What if you meet someone else? What if you want to leave?”
“No! If I really encounter something very attractive, I will take you to see it! Since it’s such a wonderful and interesting thing, I’m willing to share it with you. I’m sure you’ll like it. I’ll take you to see the vast world! No, it’s to bring you that vast world, not to pursue those things alone!”