The sound of metal clashing against metal loudly rang out inside this hall as I fended off the attack from my sworn enemy.
“I don’t really want to hear that from my own self!”
So, what am I doing here? That’s the question I have been asking the moment I saw the one in front of me.
I’m in this shit only because of that damned Samael, and Mary. He confidently stepped inside that crevice, but never came back. Following his instructions, we turned to Mary, but she just smiled and said.
“We will go in. It would be alright, probably.”
Ah, how I wish that I would have commented on that ‘probably’ of hers………
The moment I stepped inside I was sent to a weird world of my own fantasies. I was in love with Michael, Michael was in love with me, Sam was still by my side, and he was also in a relationship with Chloe.
Yet, in the end, the one who saved me from that nightmare was not Michael, but Sam. It was the inconsistency of him being in love with Chloe that made me doubt what I was seeing. After all, he’s not the kind of man who would simply fall for Chloe.
However, before my doubts about that situation could take any concrete shape, a second nightmare began- like, was that supposed to be a boss fight or what?!
That’s when that fake world bared its fangs at me. It showed me a very important event of my life, but after making some major changes to make it more perfect. If Michael had come to save me that day, then that would have shown me that he truly cared for me. Besides, who doesn’t want to be saved by the person they love?
And yet again, it was inconsistency with Sam that saved me from it; it wasn’t Michael who had saved me that day, but Sam. He had come to my rescue when my very future was in danger.
And when I left that world, the one greeting me was a clone of me.
“Now now, your attacks are letting up. Are you ready to give up?”
She shouted with a manic grin and released a magic spell at me, which I dodged by jumping to the side.
I’m just a Support Mage, so why the hell do I have to fight a head-on battle?!
“Would you let me pass if I give up?”
“Hmm…………” She poked her own cheek by her finger and tilted her head. “No!”
“Then what’s the use of asking…………?”
But it seemed that she caught my grumble.
“Because it’s my job, you know?” She grinned. “Say, why are you so eager to go inside?”
“To become a-”
“You are me, and I am you. There’s no use in lying.”
“………………Because I’m worried about Michael.”
‘Hero’ can go fuck itself for all I care.
“Is that all?” She tilted her head in the other direction. “Is Michael the only one you are worrying about?”
“Who else would I-”
“You still don’t understand, do you?” She narrowed her eyes. “I know everything that you know; I feel everything that you feel. You are also worried about that Samael guy, after all……………”
Her knowing grin made me want to punch her in the face, but it didn’t seem like I could do that right now.
“Hey, hey, tell me, who do you really love?”
Just what the hell is she asking now?
“You already know, don’t you?”
What’s the point of asking that if she ‘knows everything I know and feels everything I feel’?
“I want to hear that from your own mouth.”
I managed to answer in a mumble. Even if I was saying that to my clone, that didn’t make it any less embarrassing. On the other hand, her eyes widened.
“I know I should not be saying this myself, but……” Her lips trembled a bit, and then she squealed. “You looked so cute right now! My heart is going to explode!”
“I know I’ve asked this before……… But are you really me?”
I don’t think I would ever squeal like that.
“Eeeh, that again? Then let me ask you; do you really love Michael?”
“……What is the meaning of that question?”
At this point, I think it would be safe to say that she isn’t like me, and is here to just fuck with me.
“Let me reword my question; who is the most important person in your life?”
“Of course, it’s Michael.”
She’s so persistent!
“No one else.”
“Booo! Wrong answer! It’s,” She grinned again, but it was not the innocent one from before. “Samuel Hayden.”
“You’re wrong! He’s a-”
“A friend? Then why was he the one who saved you from your nightmare just before? No, should I say, why is he the one who saved you from your every nightmare?”
“Even if he did, what does that matter?”
“What does that matter?” She scoffed. “It matters hella lot!” Her tone got stronger. “Besides, this is not the first you’ve ever faced that doubt, is it?”
“What do you plan to achieve by doing all this?”
“As someone who understands you the best, I simply want you to understand your feelings.” She now started walking around me in a circle. “I think we should shift our perspective a bit.”
Her way with words…… it clearly reeks of Sam. Out of all the people I’ve met, he was the only one to twist words like that to persuade others.
“Let’s look at it from Sam’s side.” She continued. “Don’t you think that the things he did for you were a bit…… excessive?”
Excessive? I can see where she might be coming from.
“In what way?”
“Now look here.” He held her temple. “He brought two hitmen with him when he came to save you from Thor. Two, literal, hitmen! Doesn’t that seem odd to you?”
“Well, I had been kidnapped for fuck’s sake. What would you expect him to do; hand his head on a fucking plate to Thor just to save me?”
“Isn’t that what normal people would do? Avoid taking risks to not enrage the kidnapper?”
Is she serious?
“If you are indeed me, then you should know that I’ve long since outed him from the category called ‘Normal’.”
“That’s true.” She giggled. “But even then, he could have brought police with him; he had the photo as a proof. Yet, not only did he go out of his way to bring two hitmen, he also took extra measures and traumatized Thor to the point that he hasn’t made any advances towards you even after Sam’s disappearance.”
True……… After Sam did something to Thor, which he called ‘therapy’, Thor has yet to proclaim his so-called love or try to get in my pants. The obsession he had with me for so long was nowhere to be seen.
But what’s the point of asking all that right now? I’ve already pondered over it a lot, but never arrived at a suitable answer. The only thing I’m clear of is that Sam didn’t do it out of love for me.
“We’ve seen enough documentaries to know that a deal with the Underworld doesn’t come without a price.” She kept prattling. “Yet Sam did all that. It’s clear that he saw you as someone precious.”
“I…… wouldn’t be too sure about that.”
Sam was never the type of man to reveal his true intention just like that. It’s also possible that he had some other reasons for going that far.
“Well, neither am I.” She admitted readily. “But what about you? Do you really see him just as a friend? No.” She shook her head. “For you, Sam is a saviour. The world can keep spouting on and on about how he’s a cold, calculating, heartless monster, but he would always remain your saviour.”
I can’t understand. Why is she saying things that I already know, things that I have already acknowledged?
“Yes, he is very precious to you. More than your parents, more than….” She sneered. “Michael himself.”
What? What did she just say?!
“Isn’t that true, Sher-”
“No, it isn’t.” I curtly denied her. “For me, the most precious person would always be Michael.”
………How strange, I did not feel any embarrassment while saying that. Does that mean I have grown?
“Wrong again! I’ve been to the very depths of your heart, Sherry Miller, so I know that you cherish Samuel Hayden more than you do Michael.”
What utter bullshit.
“And deep inside, you know that too. That the one you should love is Sam, not Michael.”
“Say that shit again and I’ll rip off your mouth.”
“Oh, and you think you can hide the truth with that? It has always been clear from the very start!” She shouted. “What has Michael done for you except asking ‘Are you alright?’ on a day you were feeling depressed?! Abso-fucking-lutely nothing! Not only that, he has never even noticed you!” She spread her arms wide. “But Sam? He has done so much for you, saved you so many times that you might as well owe your life to him. He protected you, cherished you, saved you, acknowledged you, strengthened you; he completed you! Who is deserving of your love if not him?!” She jumped in the air and came at me with her sword. “Answer me, Sherry Miller!”
I dodged that with a backflip (Samael had been so adamant to teach me acrobatics, and now I see why), and jumped back to create some distance.
But when I finally got my footing, a fireball came at me from the front. I dodged it by diving aside, but it exploded behind me and burnt my back a bit.
I swiftly cast healing magic on myself, but by that time, she was already coming at me with her sword, except that this time, she was much faster.
“Why do you continue to love Michael-” I dodged her slash with a backflip again, but she followed with a sweep. “-when Sam is clearly more precious to you!?”
The sweep grazed me a bit, while she used the momentum of her swing to turn and attack me with a diagonal slash. I dodged by a hair’s breadth, so the sword smashed into the ground, the strong impact of it sending pieces of rocks flying everywhere.
I was hit by several of them, but before I could heal myself, she came at me again.
“Why do you continue to love Michael, when Sam has done so much for you?!”
She raised her sword above her head, and with a deep glower, kicked me in the stomach and sent me flying.
“Why do you continue to love Michael, when he doesn’t even notice you?!”
With a hysterical shout, she dashed towards me.
“Tell me, where is the sense in that, Sherry Miller!? It’s absolutely stupid!”
She is……… Right in a sense. I have no reason to love Michael, but I’ve got several to love Sam. And in a sense, Sam is the most treasured person in my heart.
But……… that’s all he is.
“You know, I love rain.”
The sword stopped just inches off my face, but she continued glaring at me with bloodshot eyes. Frankly speaking, they were a bit scary, but I didn’t turn away my gaze. I met her eyes with a glare of my own.
“Haaahhh….” Before long, she sighed heavily and turned around. After tossing her sword aside, she started walking away. “Damn him. Interfering with us even though he’s no longer here. Looks like you were set to clear this Trial right from the very beginning.”
Her reaction meant that she understood the significance of those words, and why I had chosen to utter them at this point of time.
And it also meant that she was done with me. After all, I had given the answer to all of her questions with just a single sentence.
“Interesting, isn’t it?” She faced me again and grinned innocently. “Even though he’s not here, Sam still ended up helping you. His existence has become too large for us.”
Now that she mentions it, it is indeed true. It has already been a year since Sam left my side, but he still continues to save and protect me. Hmph, it truly suits someone as sneaky as him.
“But that is assuming that he has indeed left us.” She shook her head with a small sigh, and then her body began to glow. “I know I don’t need to say this, but still, don’t stop pursuing the ‘lead’ you have right now.”
“Yes, I know that.”
If it is indeed what I think it is, then………
She looked at me with a wide grin, as her body began to disintegrate into light particles.
“Ah, my cute, cute, Sherry.”
She raised her arms towards me, as if inviting me for an embrace, but we were already too late for that. She disappeared in the next moments, leaving me the words-
“You’ve flawlessly passed the Trial, Hero.”