Unwanted Return – Part 02

Translator: Kell

“And you took on that role,” the demon said.

The Murky Darkness Witch opened her eyes, waking herself up from a dream of the distant past.

The scattered debris of the guardian statue lay around her, and countless demons were rushing in from outside.

Against this comforting backdrop stood Zero’s mercenary—or perhaps the Nameless Demon King. His appearance was very similar to the white beast warrior that the Prophet had used in the past. When she saw him standing next to Zero, the Murky Darkness Witch came to a realization. Her friend entrusted her child to the beast warrior. The beast warrior fulfilled her wish, and her friend’s lineage still lived on to this day.

She was overcome with joy. At the same time, the fact that the warrior was not by her side filled her with a maddening sense of frustration.

She wanted to make it hers. If she couldn’t, then she would kill it. Perhaps that was a mistake.

Time seemed to have stopped. In that moment before death, the demon and the Murky Darkness Witch confronted each other.

But whose death?

The witch smiled. “Yes, I took on that role. I made it so that witches, the Church—everyone—feared and loathed me. So they would unite together. And they did.”

Now that Thirteenth was dead and Zero was safely in her possession, all that remained was to continue her reign as a symbol of fear until the whole world united as one.

But she miscalculated.

“I did not expect you, my accomplice, to ruin my plans.”

The Nameless Demon King was holding the Murky Darkness Witch’s heart in its hand. The moment the warding disappeared, the demon closest to the witch was the demon king itself.

If it killed the Murky Darkness Witch before the other demons, it could protect Zero and Mercenary from them.

And that’s exactly what the Nameless Demon King did.

It chose Zero and Mercenary over its mate.

“Why did you choose them?” the witch asked. “Did I not satisfy you?”

“I am tired of stagnation,” the demon replied. “The world in turmoil, the weak growing in number. There will be much strife. These two will work hard to maintain balance in a turbulent world. That is what I want. There is no higher form of entertainment.”

“You fiend,” the witch said with a smile on her face.

When did the demon plot this? From the time it proposed the contract? Or even before that? Perhaps it was behind the humans’ betrayal of her best friend. She had no way of knowing now.

The Murky Darkness Witch let out a soft breath. “Stargazer Argentum, you wished to see the future of this world. Mooncaller Solena, you wished to know what kind of world your descendant would create. Thirteenth, you wished to support your sibling, the only one who shared your blood.”

Just like how she wanted to see the world that her friend dreamed of. The witch sacrificed countless lives to save the world, to bring true peace. She trampled the weak.

But she had no regrets. From the day her daughter wrote the Grimoire of Zero, the world had been advancing toward this end. Even the witch, who thought she was the mastermind, was nothing but a pebble being swept away in the murky stream of change.

The witch slowly closed her eyes, then opened them.

Time moved again, and death came swiftly.

Would people laugh? She wondered.

Would they laugh if they learned that the witch who led the world to ruin had a sincere desire for world peace? Peace for witches. The prosperity of the Church. She was willing to give up her own life for her wish.

How ironic, she thought. People were rebuilding the world that the evil witch had destroyed. Those who shunned her would create a world that she had dreamed of.

She played the role of an evil witch. Dying this way was inevitable. Thus what filled her heart was not the grief of defeat, but the satisfaction of having fulfilled her role.

But if she could have one more wish… Just one.

“Do not waste the life you have been given, Zero, and her mercenary.”

She hoped that the future would bring them happiness—happiness that far exceeded the hardships that the demon would enjoy.

“Why?” Mercenary had asked Zero repeatedly.

Why did she choose him? Why did she want to be with him? He wanted to know why Zero had taken a liking to him.

Zero loved explaining things. Every time Mercenary asked why, she gave the appropriate explanation, but she herself was not satisfied with her answers.

Every answer she gave made sense, and she wasn’t lying. She liked his cooking, his soft fur, his high body temperature, and the comfort of sleeping with him. She did not like how he got mad easily, but she also did not mind getting mad at.

She liked how he faced her like an equal, despite her being much more powerful than him. She liked how he understood his own weaknesses, but was strong enough to not surrender to anyone.

She liked how he stood his ground in the face of danger despite being a coward. She liked how his heart was like an intricate colored glass—he was rude, yet sensitive. Pessimistic, but not despairing.

Every day, she found more reason to like him. Eventually the number of reasons had grown so large that she did not mind giving up a quiet life in the cellar.

When she first met Mercenary in the forest, she did, in fact, fancy him. But what she felt was far from affection; more like the result of a practical calculation involving different factors.

And these factors were exactly the kind of reasons that Mercenary sought from Zero. A beast warrior was the perfect escort. She was curious about a beast she had never seen before. His good nature made him easy to deal with; despite being chased, he still picked Zero up. His cooking was delicious. She had room for negotiation since he wanted to become human. Those were the reasons why she chose him.

But now she felt different. Even when he was now a normal human, even if his cooking turned awful, even if he hated Zero, even if she never saw him again, Zero would still continue to like him.

She realized that what she felt was love. An emotion that did not ask for anything in return. Being satisfied simply by giving, not receiving.

As Zero held his bloody body, she realized now how she truly felt about Mercenary.

“Mercenary! Just wait. I will close your wounds!”

As soon as the warding disappeared, the Murky Darkness Witch was killed. The clouds dispersed, the demons vanished, and peace returned to the world.

But all that could not erase the wounds that Mercenary received. When Zero opened her tightly-shut eyes, she saw Mercenary on the very edge of death, while she was completely unscathed.

Despair threatened to devour her. She couldn’t care less about world peace. Why were they alive? Why did the Murky Darkness Witch die? There was a more pressing question in her mind, however.

“Why did you bring Mercenary here, Nameless Demon King?! His death will be unfavorable to you. That is why I allowed you to remain in his body!”

A year ago, Zero summoned a demon into the Mercenary’s body and set up a warding that forbade the use of Magic in the kingdom of Wenias. The demon wished to stay and observe the world, and Zero allowed it. She thought that the demon could protect Mercenary.

And it did. It made Mercenary’s wounds heal faster and saved him from certain death.

Zero thought that if she stayed by his side, the demon would not be able to take over Mercenary’s consciousness. She believed that even if she was gone, the demon would not work a powerless human’s body too hard.

But the Nameless Demon King took over Mercenary and came to the Altar in a human body. It was utterly reckless and dangerous.

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