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6 Julien D. Evenus [5]

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What does it feel like to be consumed by fear?

"Haaa... Haaa..."

Small, shallow, and repetitive breaths coming out of the mouth.

Ba... Thump! Ba... Thump!

A rising heartbeat that drummed in the mind.

A trembling body.

Sweaty palms.

Shit—

It felt like shit.

"H-hah."

Regardless of what I tried, the trembling wouldn't stop.

I tried to take deep breaths but struggled, occasionally inhaling too deeply and choking on my saliva.

"...Akh."

It was a pathetic sight.

I knew it.

But.

"...H-hah."

I couldn't stop it.

It was slowly consuming every part of me.

Creeping toward the deepest parts of my mind.

I was able to hold onto my composure up until this point. But now that I was alone... I was struggling.

I couldn't stop the shaking and the feeling that was taking every part of me.

'Let this stop... Let this stop...'

At this point.

Death didn't seem too bad.

But.

"Kh...!"

I grit my teeth.

"No."

Such pathetic death...

Not again.

And not when I still didn't know what was going on. I wanted to know at least that much. Who was I...? And why was I here?

Dying in such a moment was the last thing I wanted.

Therefore.

"Khhh...!"

lightsΝοvεl ƈοm

I continued to grit my teeth and endured the fear that was taking hostage of my mind.

Riiip——!

My hands were fiercely clenching at my shirt as my legs wiggled on the ground.

For some reason, my body would reflexively avoid the puke on the ground during my struggle.

The thought of touching the puke seemed more repulsive than the fear that was clouding my mind.

It was as if it was ingrained in my body.

"Just... let this pass..."

The situation seemed helpless but... I could slowly feel it. The sensation was dying away. Slowly, but surely I knew I could regain sight of myself.

I just had to...

"Kh... Endure."

I bit my shirt and pulled at my hair.

"Khak!"

That was when I noticed something.

"The pain..."

The pain appeared to take away from the fear I was experiencing.

"Ukh...!!"

I took advantage of that and bit on my forearm.

The sensation of my teeth digging into my skin eased many of my symptoms, and despite the intense pain, it helped me finally achieve a sense of calm.

Pain.

Pain I could deal with.

"Huuu..."

For the first time, I was able to take a deep breath.

My hands were still trembling but my mind was clear.

I glanced down at my arm, observing the intricate red patterns weaving across it, converging at the tip of my finger before eventually trailing down toward the ground.

Drip. Drip.

Red stained the ground.

Ignoring it, I continued to take deep and even breaths. Slowly, I was regaining control over my body.

Enough to be able to stand up.

I wasn't sure how long had passed when I was finally able to be myself again.

But it didn't matter.

Right now, all I wanted to do was figure out my situation.

"Where is this place...?"

Walking around the room, I traced my finger over a wooden desk.

It felt real to the touch.

Although I already knew, I did it to make sure.

None of this felt real to me.

"A medieval style setting, strange powers and visions, a grey-eyed man..."

The pieces started to put themselves in my head and a conclusion drew up in my mind. One that I struggled to come to terms with.

I was in the game, wasn't I?

'Rise of the Three Calamities.'

There wasn't much that I knew about since I'd never played it before, but from what I was told by my brother, it was a very popular game.

"Why?"

For what reason was I here?

And.

I turned to face the nearest window. It was dark outside so it was hard to see outside, but my focus was elsewhere.

Toward my reflection.

With deep hazel eyes, black hair, and a chiseled jawline, he appeared to epitomize perfection solely through his looks. I raised my hands to touch my face.

"This is me...?"

I found it hard to believe, but as I pinched my cheek, the reality seemed undeniable.

"Crazy... This is crazy."

Even though this seemed to be my reality, I still found it hard to believe.

Creaaaaak—

My head flicked.

"..."

"..."

A familiar figure stood by the door. He stood motionless, staring at me with his cold grey eyes.

"Not feeling so well?"

His tone seemed calm but all I felt was chills.

Step—

The wooden floor creaked under his step.

A strange tension lingered over the room as he stepped forward.

His eyes briefly paused on the puke on the ground then settling back to me.

Step—

He took another step.

Inching closer to where I was.

His every movement and action felt suffocating. As if he was dragging me deeper and deeper into the water.

I thought about running but realized it was futile.

There was no running from this man.

And...

I didn't feel like running.

Step—

He stood in front of me.

His eyes were intense. Closely reminding me of the ones he had in the vision. When his sword pierced me.

What did he...?

SHIIIING—!

My neck felt cold.

It all happened so fast that I had no time to react.

His mouth parted slightly,

"You, who are you?"

"..."

My neck stung as the blade sunk slightly into my skin.

A wet trail traced down my neck.

"You're not him. Who are you?"

He seemed sure of himself. As if he was certain that I wasn't the person whom this body belonged to.

And he was right.

I wasn't.

Strangely, staring at the sharp tip of the sword that was pointed at me, I didn't feel a thing.

Would you look at that?

After all that fear, when the time came for me to feel fear, I didn't feel it.

It seemed to pale in comparison with what I'd experienced back in the examination room.

I cocked my head slightly.

"What makes you think that?"lightsnovel

My voice came out much calmer than I thought it'd come out in such a situation.

His lips pulled upwards.

"He wouldn't have reacted the way that you did had he been in a similar position."

Is that so?

"How would he have reacted?"

"By cursing me."

I thought back to the vision.

He didn't strike me to be that type of guy.

I still tried.

"Get your fucking hands off of me."

"No, not quite. Still missing something."

"As in?"

"Try, 'get your fucking hands off of me dirty bastard'. That's how he'd reply."

"I see."

Quite informative.

I gripped the blade that was attached to my neck and tried to pull it away. Through my gritted teeth, I spat,

"Get your fucking hands off of me dirty bastard!"

"Better."

Unfortunately, the blade wouldn't budge.

Was the difference in our strength that vast?

"Don't bother. I'm a knight. Our strength difference is not something that you can bridge with that body of yours."

"I see."

I let go and stared at my hand.

It was bleeding.

Still, it helped me calm down even more.

My heart was no longer beating as fast as it was before, and my mind felt a lot clearer.

"..."

"..."

We stood face to face with each other, neither one of us speaking.

He was the first one to break the silence.

"I heard an interesting rumor."

I stood still and listened to his words.

There was nothing I could do at the moment.

The powers I displayed before, I knew nothing about them nor how to use them. I had been trying the entire time.

Right now.

I was just a normal human.

"An amazing examinee appeared. From the rumors, he stunned all the judges in his performance. So much that they had to pause the selection process."

He looked at me with a meaningful look.

"That was you, wasn't it?"

Ah.

It then finally dawned on me.

The reason why I was still alive up to this point and why he still hadn't killed me yet.

He was...

I glanced at his hand. The one holding the sword.

...Wary of me.

"I wonder."

I kept things short, slowly pulling my lips into a smirk.

"And what would you do with that information?"

The grip of his sword tightened, and the blade dug deeper into my neck.

I suppressed the pain and forced myself to not react.

"I hate to say this, but this..."

I lightly tapped the blade on my neck.

"...It isn't scaring me."

Fear was the least of my worries.

"..."

His eyes grew more intense.

'Ah, right there.'

He was faltering.

I raised my right hand.

It was stained red as blood dripped down onto my forearm. It was quite the sight. Also why I chose this hand.

"All I did was touch him."

"..."

"I didn't expect him to react the way that he did."

It's true.

I really didn't.

"I wonder."

I looked at the man in front of me and brought my hand to a close.

"...How would you react if I tried that on you?"

***

The man that stood before him was not the young master he knew. His demeanor, his actions, and most importantly...

His calmness.

Leon was sure of it.

...He was not Julien D. Evenus.

Having spent enough time with him, he was certain of it. He had first noticed the change before the examination.

He seemed strangely silent.

Something unfitting considering how he normally was.

'He's probably nervous...'

Leon brushed it off, thinking about how he had probably been nervous about his examination.

But.

"Why is the examination on hold?"

"I'm not quite sure, but I saw someone being brought out from the examination room on a stretcher. Apparently, it was done by one of the examinees."

"Ah? There's someone like that...?"

"Yeah, I caught a glimpse of him too. He was really handsome. Black hair, hazel eyes..."

The sudden rumors made it impossible for him to no longer think about it.

He didn't hesitate to look for him.

And...

"That was you, wasn't it?"

Feeling the edge of his blade press Julien's neck, he tightened his grasp of the sword.

'There's no way they're the same person.'

He was sure of it now.

He wasn't the young master he knew.

What made him especially wary was his lack of reaction. Faced with the prospect of his sword slicing down at his neck, he appeared unperturbed.

The hazel eyes he seemed so familiar with suddenly felt different.

As if he was looking at the cold shell of the young master he knew.

"I wonder."

His lips pulled into a smirk. Taunting him, almost.

Mocking him.

"And what would you do with that information?"

Leon further tightened his grasp of the sword and dug the sword deeper into Julien's neck.

It was a threat.

'No reaction...?'

One that didn't seem to be effective.

He was merely standing there.

And yet...

Yet...

He felt so intimidating.

Why was that?

"I hate to say this, but this..."

With light movements, he tapped the tip of his blade.

"...It isn't scaring me."

"..."

Leon remained silent, the muscles of his body tensing.

Then...

Drip. Drip.

Julien raised his blood-soaked hand.

"All I did was touch him."

He voiced out in a low tone.

His words seemed to describe the situation. Probably what had happened back at the examination room.

But.

"I didn't expect him to react the way that he did."

To Leon.

His words.

"I wonder."

Seemed more like a...

"...How would you react if I tried that on you?"

Warning.