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24 The one the world rejects [2]

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It was the fact that I knew that my time was limited that prevented me from enjoying the party.

Seeing everyone converse and interact with one another, I felt a sense of estrangement.

Alienation.

As if I didn't belong here.

Nobody dared to approach me, and when I tried to interact with someone, they'd tactfully distance themselves away from me.

Was I that intimidating...?

No...

'I don't belong here.'

That much was starting to become clear to me.

This very world...

It was rejecting my existence.

...Or was it me that was rejecting it? I wasn't quite sure.

"Uhh..."

In the time that I spent here fruitlessly trying to make connections, I could've spent training and learning my second ability.

With such thoughts, I took a sip of water and headed for the exit.

There was no longer a point in staying here.

"Right..."

Because I didn't fit here.

***

"What do you think about joining our household? I'm sure we can offer you better incentives than the ones offered by the Evenus household."

"Firstly, we'd be willing to pay you more than they pay you. Not only that, but we'd also relieve you of your knightly duties and support you wholeheartedly."

"If you wish to remain a knight, we may even promote you to commander. With a word, I can make that happen."

Leon casually took a sip of his drink, something called 'Amorena' and pursed his lips.

'.....Tastes like shit.'

Far too bitter for his tastes.

"Do consider our offer. We can offer you a lot more than what the Evenus Household has offered you. You don't have to worry about the consequences. We'll be able to tal—"

"If you would excuse me."

"Uh... hey!"

Placing the drink down, Leon turned around and left.

He was starting to grow tired of hearing the offer over and over again.

It wasn't just that. The place... Everything about it.

It felt extremely stuffy.

"....How many does that make?"

A familiar voice reached him from behind. As he turned around, his eyes fell on the familiar figure and he flatly replied.

"Counting that... About nine."

lightsΝοvel

".....A lot more than I thought."

Evelyn scratched the side of her face. Wearing a formal white dress, decorated with purple jewelry and accessories, her appearance attracted the gazes of many of the people attending.

It was hard to stand out given that most of the cadets present looked good themselves, but only a few truly stood out amongst the masses.

Evelyn was one of those few.

"Probably not as many as the times you've got asked out."

"Rubbing salt to my wounds?"

Leon lightly shrugged.

"You started it."

"Right..."

Evelyn nodded before her brows knit together. She then tactfully said,

"Have you never considered their offer...? From what I know, they're quite good. A lot better than what you're currently receiving."

"Perhaps..."

"But?"

"....I can't leave."

The Evenus Household.

Leon's thoughts regarding them were rather complicated. They hadn't exactly been the nicest to him.

Only once he had started to display his talent did their attitude towards him change. Before then... He was a servant.

Someone that they were willing to discard with a thought.

The wounds of his past were still vividly etched in his mind and not a day passed where he forgot. Even now... He was constantly reminded of those days.

And it was with such thoughts that he ambiguously added,

"....Not yet."

"I see."

As if she had expected such an answer, Evelyn nodded her head and no longer pursued the matter.

She could tell it was a sensitive matter.

"Hm?"

Evelyn's expression changed and her eyes stared off in the distance. Leon followed her line of sight and made a similar expression.

Julien, the first son of the household in question, appeared at the end of the hall.

He was also one of the few that stood out in appearance. His every movement and action attracted the eyes of those present.

It was hard to not take note of him when he stood out that much.

"He's changed quite a bit..."

Evelyn started to speak as her eyes traced his figure.

"Though he carries himself in the same manner as in the past, there's something different about him. Am I the only one that's noticing these changes?"

"...It's been five years since you've last seen him."

Leon replied flatly.

"It's normal for him to be different."

"I guess you're right, but..."

Evelyn narrowed her eyes as her gaze continued to trace Julien's figure.

"....Wasn't he usually the type of guy that enjoys attention? Why does it seem like he's leaving?"

"Leaving?"

Leon's face finally showed changes, and to his surprise, it was indeed as Evelyn pointed out.

Julien, who had reached the entrance of the hall, was reaching out for his felt jacket.

His actions aroused the attention of many of those attending.

"What's he doing?"

"Did he forget something in his jacket...?"

It couldn't be helped.

The event had only just begun, and he was already leaving.

The expressions of many of the people present varied. But the consensus was that his decision made no sense.

This was especially so for Leon who put his drink down.

"...."

"You're leaving?"

"....Yeah."

He had no choice but to.

It was his duty to keep Julien safe. Though he wasn't sure why Julien was acting like this, he had no choice but to follow.

Before leaving, he paused to stare at Evelyn.

"I hope you enjoy the gathering."

And with those last words, he went ahead to follow Julien.

As he left, Evelyn's eyes traced his back.

Putting her drink down, she mumbled,

".....Something's off."

***

"Huuu..."

The breeze hit my face as I left the venue.

I felt a sense of liberation coming out of the building.

The weight of the stares...

The suffocating environment...

It was all gone.

I could finally breathe properly again.lightsnovel

"Better."

".....Why did you leave so early?"

An expected voice reached me from behind. I didn't need to look to know who it was.

"I felt like it was a waste of time."

"Were you trying hard enough? I doubt you're intimidating to the point where everyone avoids you."

Was that the case...?

I thought about it for a while before nodding.

That was probably the case.

"Maybe so."

But...

"This sort of thing... I'm not fit for it."

My body and mind rejected it.

"It felt too stuffy. I don't think I could've stayed much longer."

"Haaa..."

For the first time since meeting him, I heard a long sigh coming from Leon. Stunned, I turned around to see him massaging his forehead.

Eventually, as if resigned, he also loosened his clothes.

"To be honest, I was feeling the same."

Taken aback by his response, my brow raised.

He was?

"What?"

"No, nothing..."

I shook my head and turned to look away.

"I'm just glad we're on the same page."

I smiled and massaged my shoulders. Then, without looking back, I took the path back to Haven.

The distance back wasn't very far.

Rather, it should've been a very short walk. The path was also nice. With no buildings in sight, it provided a great view.

The entire time the two of us remained quiet as we observed the surroundings.

There wasn't much to say between us and all we could do was enjoy the surroundings.

Everything was going smoothly, when...

"..."

My feet came to a stop.

"Something's wrong..."

The path, which should've been a short one suddenly felt extremely long. What should've been a ten to five-minute walk extended longer than that.

I had just turned around to address Leon when my body froze.

"Hey, did yo—Uh?"

My heart dropped and my heartbeat quickened.

"....."

I was alone.

Leon was gone.

When did this…?

I could've sworn I had felt his presence just moments prior. So when did he…

"Hooo..."

I took a deep breath to calm my nerves which were steadily rising.

Panic was starting to set in, but I was quick to push it down.

"Good thing I trained myself for these situations..."

Though I was still in the beginning stages, I didn't let fear cloud my mind. Take control of my body.

And just as I managed to calm myself down…

Blink—

"...!"

The world changed with a single blink.

The familiar path disappeared, and replacing it was a dense forest.

Trees surrounded me from all sides while the moon hung in the sky.

It was a familiar environment and my heartbeat, which I had barely managed to calm, started beating crazily.

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

It drummed powerfully in my mind, overtaking my thoughts.

"This place..."

A familiar environment.

One that I distinctly remembered even now that a week had passed.

"Vision."

Only one word escaped from my mouth, but it was all I needed to say to understand my situation.

This place, the trees, the moon that hung in the sky... It was all from the vision I had seen last week.

"It can't be..."

A part of me wanted to refuse the situation. Deny that this was really happening, but...

Staring at the familiar environment, I knew this was the reality.

My reality.

"Shit."

A curse inexplicable escaped from my mouth as my heart drummed with even more force.

It beat with such force that it made it hard to think.

And the fear that I so tried to suppress once again started to take over my mind.

My palms felt sweaty...

My breath grew heavy...

And my mind started to cloud.

"....I have to go."

But even in all of this, I was able to retain some rationality.

I hadn't suffered so much for nothing.

'Let's think.'

My memories of the event were still clear in my mind.

All the details from then were still vividly etched in my mind.

'In the vision, I recall heading a certain direction...'

It started with me running in a certain direction before meeting a hooded figure who then proceeded to kill me.

I looked around and searched for all the details.

Eventually, a direction became clear to me.

"The hooded figure is that way."

That much was clear.

But what now...?

Run?

That seemed to be the only logical conclusion. I was still weak, and whoever was responsible for this was stronger than I was.

Let alone the fact that I was still unable to use my other magic... the only magic I could actually use in combat.

At this moment...

I was useless.

A walking target.

"If only..."

I clenched my jaw and stared at my hands. A deep sense of frustration welled up within me as I stared at them.

But just as fast as it came, I pushed it down.

Now was not the time.

Processing all the information, I looked back in the direction of my memories and turned away.

Rustle—

For now...

This was my only option.

***

Bonus chapter for hitting 800 PS! Thank you so much for the support!