"Are you an idiot!? Why did you do this!? You could get yourself killed!"
"My conscience won't take it if you get the death sentence, gege!"
They continued to run into the dark, starless night. The only source of light was the ones from above flashing from a helicopter that followed after them.
"Fuck, I can't go any faster! They shot my leg!" Min Cheng exclaimed.
He winced, tears falling from the pain.
He looked back, and Ronin did too. The police were catching up on them despite their successful escape from the prison building.
"T-they'll kill me, gege... They'll see me as a traitor." Min Cheng clutched on his sleeves. "I don't want to die!"
They were stuck in an alleyway leading to the main street. If they just keep moving forward, they can reach the street and get a taxi soon.
So Nelson Ou reassured him. "We just need to keep running! Come on—"
Min Cheng shook his head, and took out something from his pocket.
It was a well-concealed knife. A normal kitchen one, the blade about 9 inches.
"What is that?" Nelson Ou stopped running. "Why do you have that?"
"I…. This is just for emergency cases. But it won't do much against a gun….. Gege….." Min Cheng gritted his teeth from the immense pain.
Then, he faced Nelson Ou. "I'm sorry, gege. They'll kill us both. I'm a coward, and I can't die. I know it's better if I let you run on your own now, but please help me….."
"Please take the bullet out. I can't take it anymore."
Nelson Ou hurriedly went by his side and placed him by the wall. "Just sit down. I'm not an expert with this, but I worked with taking out impurity samples from rocks before so…."
He took the knife, and found the bullet wound in the dark. But it was so difficult. It's taking too long, and if this goes on, they would really get caught and killed….
Eventually, Min Cheng shook his head. "No... I-It's ok now, gege. I'm sorry for everything. You should go now, leave me here."
"I can do it!" Nelson Ou insisted. "Just stay still!"
"Gege…. If you stay here any longer, we'll both die. You know how they are. After that riot and trouble we've caused, they won't even think twice about shooting and calling it self-defense."
"You think I don't know that!? Don't act like the smartypants now, dammit!" Nelson Ou tried to push back tears. "Why am I so useless!? It's just finding a goddamn bullet—"
"You're not useless, gege. Look at me." Min Cheng patted his shoulder. "It's alright, it's alright. This is all my fault. I'm the useless one who should have known you were set up sooner."
"I don't want my efforts to go to waste. You deserve to keep living your life, gege. More than me. You are smart, you have a naturally kind heart, and you—"
"Stop talking! I won't accept it! I won't let you selfishly die for me!" Nelson Ou said. "I'd rather…."
He'd rather be the one to do the sacrifice, not his Ah-Cheng.
After all, what's the point of living if he will keep on being hated anyway? So what if he has much to achieve, when no one will let him achieve anything in the first place?
"You are the one that needs to live. You should….. Get married to that girl and inherit your parents company…. Then, you should run off with the money you get and be a botanist in the States….."
Min Cheng chuckled bitterly. "I can't do that, gege. I'm a coward—"
"Then I'm asking you to not be a coward now. Live your life for me." Nelson Ou said.
He handed the knife to him as tears fell like tiny diamonds in a dark sky from his face. "Hold this for me. And Ah-Cheng, no matter what, continue to live."
Min Cheng held the knife in confusion. "Why are you giving me this—"
Nelson Ou quickly moved his body to embrace Min Cheng, and…
Let the knife pierce his stomach!
"Gege... W-What…. What….."
He hugged him tighter, not allowing him to let go and pull the knife out. He smiled.
"Please, Ah-Cheng…. I could forgive you for everything…. if you lived your life well for me...…. Kah….. Don't waste this gift I'm giving you….. Urk…."
"Gege, I can't live without—"
"Don't waste it, Ah-Cheng….. Start anew….. And live a brave and noble life for me from now on."
After those final words…..
When Lord Dreadborne woke up from his dream, he woke up with a start and his tears were already flowing from his face. So not only was his ascension to Great Lord leading to dissatisfaction…
It also resulted in guilt.
He had it all wrong. So many years, so much hatred and so much anger wasted in Min Cheng…..
And there was no reason for it in the first place.
It was him who took his own life for the sake of his friend. And perhaps the reason why Min Cheng chose to join the Hero Transmigrating Machine…..
Was to fulfill his dying wish that he lived a brave and noble life. Where he wasn't a coward anymore.
But as they said, guilt and shame can only arrive late. It was always an irredeemable error that we can't change.
He shouted in his bed, but there was no one to hear anyway.
That was 4 years ago before he met the boy named Chryson.
And 4 years ago…..
A flower had finally borne fruit. A golden fruit.
"He will kill us next and eat our hearts like the others." Volken scoffed. "It's useless after all. I should have just died from that snake eyed girl. I prefer that than die from his hands."
They were in line too to make the pledge to Ronin Dreadborne. Behind him was Lovushka, who was followed by Rabuka.
Lovushka seemed to be deep in thought as he continued to play around his amber goop, filling his hands with the orange sap.
He was staring at a bunch of flowers on the ground shaped like a man.
"How peculiar." He smiled, tilting his head to the side.
Rabuka turned. "Are you really not scared at all, Sir? Maybe we can escape through your—"
"Can you Daemons shut up? Everyone's in a bad enough mood here."
The scruffy voice of Vesuvius with a broken nose came. Behind him were the line of gods who were now mortal. At least those who have not yet died from their injuries.
Pavone also spoke, looking worse to wear. "How pathetic it is that only 4 Daemons remained by his side right now. Everyone was either killed, even his blood brother, and the rest were traitors."
Lovushka chuckled and gestured at his amulet. "You forgot the little one we captured."
The aged voice of Freja spoke too. "Is there anything more pathetic than gloating? We're all suffering under the same fate, we have all been defeated."
Calla Lily clenched her fist. "There must be another way. But he had thoroughly weakened us, especially the Hero Mages relying on the power of gods."
Marigold sighed beside her. "I couldn't flap my wings anymore when we tried to escape…. I'm sorry, I failed you all….."
Edelweiss patted her back. "No, you haven't. You did your best."
Donna agreed. "It's just as Lady Freja said. This is inevitable. There is no hope."
Meanwhile, the eccentric Lovushka knelt into the flowers, and smelled them. He rolled around like a lunatic, giggling to himself.
His twin sister's eye twitched. "What in the Abyss is wrong with you, Musae?"
"I don't know this Musae you speak of, Goddess Calliope?" He asked, picking a flower. "And pardon me for laughing, I just came to notice something interesting."
She rolled her eyes. "You had always been a whore for the theatrics…. Spit it out, then."
He revealed something.
"Look at this seed? Isn't it particularly shiny?"
The gods' eyes widened when they saw this golden seed, glowing bright. They quickly moved around to hide it.
"Do you think it's….?" Vesuvius asked.
Pallas nodded. "It has to be."
Donna frowned. "What is it, Lady Freja?"
"This seed….. has the aura of protection that Aurion gives. It shines from sunlight. Therefore, it even has the power to protect us from any influence of the Abyss."
Edelweiss, adjusted her broken spectacles. "Any influence? Does that include the universal knowledge that Espinella has?"
Lovushka chuckled. "Even the weapon of the Lord of Darkness may not even break this seed or its protective aura. I noticed how most people stand in line in this area…."
"Never get approached by the guards for loitering or not behaving properly."
And he was right. The Daemonic guards that were transformed treated them like they were invisible.
Calla Lily frowned. "But what is that seed? What is it for? A new weapon or magical artifact?"
Lovushka shook his head. "Everyone come closer and listen carefully. Do you hear that?"
There were too many of them huddling close, but they did hear it.
The sound of a heartbeat.
Slow, but very much alive. And it was coming from the golden seed.
And soon, they can actually see that there was something inside it, looking like an unborn child!
Marigold's eyes glistened. "Is that….. Cermin?"
After all, this was where he died.
"Or Aurion." The Goddess Seelie hoped.
"Whoever it was, he is our greatest weapon against the Darkness now. So I have a proposition to make." Lovushka said.
His orange goo became bigger and bigger at his side, as he asked.
"They say it takes a village to raise a child. So how about you all help me raise this little golden boy in a little village of our own?"
"T-The Lord of Darkness….. My uncle told me about you….."
The boy Chryson looked down and bit his lip. Ronin found it endearing that he does, and patted his head.
"What did he say about me?"
Chryson seemed to remember something, then shook his head. "N-Nothing…. It's all the same. He says you are very smart….. and powerful….. and nice. Like everyone else says."
Even when he can't hear his thoughts, Ronin could already tell that he only meant the first two traits. The 'nice' part was a lie.
He smiled. "And what do you think of me?"
"You're….. alright." He answered while looking away.
Ronin rubbed his chin. "You know, I have a garden in my palace that has more varieties of flowers than everlasting. We could go there if you'd like. You seem to like flowers."
Chryson's eyes seemed to brighten at this. "R-Really? But your palace…."
"It's not that far. As I told you, I can get anything I wish too. Except for a friend." He sighed. "It's been so lonely there, not having friends."
Chryson gulped. He can relate too, because no one wants to befriend him because of his skin.
"I don't have friends either…." He said.
"Why don't we become friends from now on?" His Majesty offered.
Chryson shook his head. "No. You're too old to be my friend."
"Then I'll be like your big brother, then. Is that a deal?"
The boy Chryson thought about it, In his thoughts that the Lord of Darkness could not read:
(My uncles and aunties warned me about him…. But they did tell me that as soon as I met him, I should take my chance to find a way to kill him. That's their special mission for me.)
(But I'm just a kid. How do I even start to kill him? And he can do anything….)
(So maybe…. Maybe I should go to his palace and learn more about him…. Then, when the time is right….)
He smiled. "Alright, big brother!"
Ronin also smiled back knowingly. "Good. Do as you please. Take anything you want from me."
'Even my life. Take your revenge and redeem my sins, Ah-Cheng.'
~End of Book 1~
Next book: Stone Mage: Demon King's Redemption
Coming at Fall 2023
Thank you for completing this book. I will post a final and formal message of thanks tomorrow as an extra chapter, as well as a Question and Answer chapter. Ask anything you'd like here to be addressed in that chapter. But I can't answer spoilers for Book 2, obviously.
Once again, thank you for completing this journey with Ronin and Cermin whether you liked it or not. I appreciated all the support and your time spent reading this book.𝓲n𝑛𝓻ℯ𝗮d.＆nbsp;𝚌o𝒎
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