As I felt the suffocating feeling of being held down by the whole world, a murky sensation, the water around me was filled with the magic of enemies who were hostile to me—malice, murderous intent, and deep water.
I was dizzy from the lack of breath.
The water seemed to grab my limbs and pulled me to the bottom. The moment my remaining breath escaped as the constricting force tightened, I opened my eyes weakly and saw Diello. It seemed like he had bitten his lips, as blood was spreading at that place.
At that moment, my mind remembered something.
The Fire of Argenta couldn’t last long in this water. Especially in the water filled with hostility, it seemed to engulf his flames.
‘…No, I couldn’t be like this.’
My head cleared up in an instant.
This was underwater.
No matter how hostile the source or how much blood was mixed in, it would have to bow down to overwhelming power. I accepted the water that touched my whole body instead of rejecting it before I released my power.
The seawater, which felt a power even more overwhelming than the power of the source, submitted to me. I could feel the murky power leaving my body, but I had to endure it now.
The moment I exhaled without realizing it because of the water pressing down on my whole body…
I felt something crack slightly in my head. To be exact, it felt like there was a crack in the wall that protected me inside my body, like a dam or levee that couldn’t withstand the water and was starting to collapse, a rough movement of power.
The moment I stopped in surprise at the unfamiliar feeling, Diello, who must have realized that the flow of water attacking him had changed, wrapped his arms tightly around my waist. It seemed like I had sunk deeper underwater than I thought because of the sudden shock.
The sunset I had been looking at appeared behind his back.
Diello’s hair fluttered wildly in the current. His lake-like eyes were looking at me with a slightly frowning face as if he was in pain. Nevertheless, he held me tightly.
As if to reassure me, he held me tightly and swam up.
* * *
I let out a breath without realizing it as I rose above the surface of the sea.
It seemed like I could hear anxious voices.
The Argenta who survived the chaos were moving hurriedly on the ship. It looked like they were going to lower a ladder.
As I clenched my fists underwater, the seawater beneath us gathered and instantly turned into a solid slab the next moment.
Diello, who was now standing on the water floor, opened his eyes wide. As I raised the slab I made of water higher than the deck of the ship, he jumped off the slab while holding me in his arms.
Diello landed lightly on the deck before he put me down on the prepared blanket.
“Are you okay, Krua?”
He checked my body.
Despite the fact that I thought I might fall into the water, I never imagined that the assassins of Alors would use all their blood to draw out the power of the source. Who would inflict such pain on themselves to draw out power when they were going to die anyway?
The eyes of the Alors assassins I locked eyes with at the last moment were gleaming with malice and murderous intent.
I let out a short breath.
“What about Alors?”
“They’re all dead.”
If those who drew out the power of the source had been alive, I might have been in a more dangerous situation. Fortunately, they lost consciousness and collapsed at the last moment.
At the same time, I remembered the light I saw in their necks at that moment. The dagger reflecting the same light was now hidden in Rick’s hand.
“…I responded too late. I’m sorry.”
Rick must have had a hard time finding Alors, who was tightly wrapped in the power of the source in all that chaos.
I nodded my head.
Diello confirmed that I was only soaked, not injured, and then lifted me up with the blanket.
“Krua. You used too much power.”
Diello was right.
I had been trying to suppress my labored breathing since earlier. Even though I thought it was because I swallowed water when I fell into the water, it didn’t seem like that was the case. My whole body ached more than the day I saved Redias.
At that time, only the water on the beach moved, but now I used my power in the middle of the ocean, so it was natural.
“You need to rest, Krua.”
He led the way.
“First, we need to clean up the battlefield…”
The battlefield was already in chaos, even without the unexpected counterattack and the lord and the madam falling into the water.
We had to clean it up.
When I grabbed his shoulder with my hand, “…Ah.”, it felt hot. He must have fallen into the water with me, but instead of getting cold, he was hot. Was it because he was Argenta or due to something else? I thought his arm was trembling more than usual.
Was he surprised or nervous? Nevertheless, one thing was for sure: both he and I needed a break right now.
“Let’s clean up the battlefield.”
Diello glanced around at the people as if to tell them not to worry. Although I didn’t know what was in his gaze, the atmosphere on the deck froze over.
Anyway, I didn’t have time to care about that.
My breath was ragged from using too much strength, and I couldn’t think straight.
“Just hang on a little longer, Krua.”
Diello hurried his steps. Only after my surroundings grew dark did I realize that he had entered the cabin.
On our way, I lost consciousness at some point, and I didn’t know what happened after that. Every time I opened my eyes, I felt like I was in a different place, with different people.
I thought I heard Diello’s voice for a moment and then Vielle’s. I didn’t know when the fever started, but my burning head couldn’t process the situation. When I regained consciousness for a moment, I was lying on soft bedding.
Diello’s voice was thick with relief. He must have been very worried. I could feel it, even in my delirious state.
My voice cracked as I called his name, and I let out a dry cough.
His gaze turned to the other people, and only then did I realize how deathly silent it was around me.
Of course, the Argenta were unusually quiet in front of him, but now they were even quieter. It was as if Diello had beheaded his servants in a fit of rage. The servants who met his gaze all bowed their heads and left the room.
“Who would have thought that the lord would fall into the water?”
“You’re completely soaked. You must be uncomfortable. And on top of that, the power of Alors―”
“Shh, be quiet.”
I remembered the words I had heard in my hazy state.
…Diello hated getting wet?
Especially the part about Alors’ power must have been referring to the power in the water. After all, it was the water that Alors’ assassins, who used the power of the source, had touched, and I had touched it as well…
As I thought about it, I suddenly realized something strange.
What about the pool? He must have been soaked to the bone there, too, and he was immersed in water filled with my power.
As I called his name again, he met my gaze with his usual gentle expression.
His voice seemed to echo around me. I had to ask about it. My voice came out a little muffled, perhaps because my body was aching.
“Do you hate getting wet?”
He paused for a moment before answering.
“…I don’t like it.”
Diello spoke softly as if he knew what I was trying to ask.
“I don’t like being surrounded by anything, whether it’s water or fire.”
Water, I could understand, but why fire? Why would the Argenta of fire hate fire?
At the thought, I closed my eyes for a long time, feeling dizzy. When I opened them again, Diello had come closer and kissed the back of my hand.
“Unless there’s something better beside me. Something that makes it bearable.”
He whispered, fire or water, he didn’t like being surrounded by it. His voice, which sounded somewhat plaintive, was trembling slightly.
Diello’s hand, which was holding mine, seemed to freeze for a moment.
“If it’s hard to talk about, you don’t have to―”
I added belatedly, but he shook his head.
“There’s nothing I can’t tell Krua.”
He moved closer to me and sat down.
“When I was young, I was often trapped in fire when I didn’t have my powers.”
The previous Duke… I couldn’t bring myself to finish the sentence. I remembered what he had mentioned briefly at the last meeting.
“The next Duke must quickly awaken the power of fire firsthand.”
He narrowed his eyes as he went on.
“Hence, they threw me into a pit of fire without warning.”
It was a cruel thing to do.
Ah, I gasped.
‘…I want to comfort him.’
Unfortunately, my hazy consciousness was fading away.