She Remembers Me (3)
‘I should have tried the second playthrough.’
I resented my past self who abandoned the game due to a sense of betrayal towards the game company.
But what could I do now?
I had already fallen into this world, and there seemed to be no way back.
Still, I remembered most of the strategies from the first playthrough.
Even the basic strategies wouldn’t be much different.
‘The problem is the changes in the second playthrough.’
There were differences in the second playthrough compared to the first.
Who could have known that the game company’s unnecessary twists would catch me off guard?
I decided to anticipate what the changes might be.
The most obvious fact was that the enemies became stronger.
From the low-level mobs to the bosses, their abilities must have increased.
Immediately, the names of key figures came to mind.
‘The Four Heavenly Kings.’
Originally, they were the Four Great Blades of the Demon King. At least, that was their formal title.
But who would remember such a name?
So, everyone just called them the Four Heavenly Kings.
The names might be a bit off, but each of them was a formidable opponent.
And the final boss, the Demon King.
The Lord of the Demon Realm who started a war to dominate the world.
In the end, the reason for wanting to rule the world wasn’t revealed until the ending.
Perhaps the scenario writer got lazy and forgot.
But their strength couldn’t be ignored.
From the Demon King’s army to the subordinates, they were all challenging opponents even in the first playthrough.
Now, in the second, they probably became even stronger.
‘Can Erina alone defeat the Demon King and reach the ending?’
It couldn’t be easily guaranteed. Of course, she was strong.
But now, she had no allies by her side, and the enemies had become stronger.
Suddenly, the quest list came to mind.
[Quest: Defeat the Demon King.]
‘What if we defeat the Demon King? What will happen?’
Could I return to the original world?
“What are you suddenly doing?”
Erina’s face suddenly approached.
Surprised, I took a step back, but she followed my footsteps.
“You had a serious expression. Do you have something on your mind?”
“No, I just have something to think about for a moment.”
Even if I told Erina, she probably wouldn’t understand.
Before she could ask more questions, I quickly left the place.
The sun was setting rapidly, and darkness enveloped the forest.
A chilly wind blew at the same time.
Despite moving diligently all day, there was no sign of reaching the capital of the kingdom.
In the end, we decided to spend the night in a nearby cave.
“I’ll take care of everything, so just rest!”
Erina skillfully set up camp.
She gathered firewood and lit a fire in the cave.
She piled up branches and straw around, covered them with a blanket, and made an improvised bed.
Wondering if there was anything else to do, I moved to find firewood nearby.
But before I could pick up a few, Erina stopped me.
“This should be enough. I’ll take care of it.”
“No, I’ll light the fire.”
Before I could step forward, Erina quietly chanted a spell.
A small spark ignited from the gathered branches.
The small flame quickly grew into a large campfire.
“I can handle basic magic like this.”
In the end, I didn’t do anything.
The one who found the cave for camping, the one who procured food, the one who gathered branches for firewood, and the one who lit the fire – it was all Erina.
Of course, I wasn’t just sitting still; I was running around trying to help.
However, even when I attempted to assist, she swiftly approached and finished the task herself.
“It’s okay if you don’t do anything. Just rest comfortably.”
No matter how I thought about it, it was too much consideration.
It was the same when I was under her protection not long ago.
As soon as I sensed the presence of monsters, she swiftly dealt with them before I could even see them.
Upon spotting a small squirrel, she immediately swung her sword and cleared the area.
If there was any slightly annoying branch, she cut it down along with the entire tree.
“Isn’t it a bit too much to be on guard like this…?”
“No! We don’t know where monsters might pop out!”
She even gathered straw to make a makeshift bed for me to sleep comfortably.
But then she insisted on sleeping on the bare ground herself.
It felt like she saw me as some superior, and she started to get the wrong idea.
When I suggested that I would sleep on the ground instead, she panicked and vehemently opposed, waving her hands together in fright.
Even now, she was talking about creating a good sleeping place for me.
“It’s okay; you don’t have to take care of me so much.”
At my words, she immediately raised her head.
There was no sign of fatigue or discomfort. Instead, she was smiling so brightly that it was almost intimidating.
“I naturally do these things. Don’t feel burdened.”
“Still, it feels a bit much for me to sleep here comfortably while you sleep on the bare ground.”
Upon hearing my words, Erina hesitated for a moment before her face stiffened.
Seemingly lost in thought, she bit her lower lip and released the gathered straw she had been holding.
“Oh, right. I might have been too hasty.”
Then, she plopped down onto the pile of straw she had gathered.
She suddenly whispered in a despondent voice.
“Did I behave too presumptuously…?”
I hadn’t expected her to deflate so quickly with just one comment.
Feeling awkward, I immediately raised my head.
“Thanks. I appreciate it, but I think what I said might have been a bit too much.”
I just said this to calm Erina down a little.
Contrary to my words, she appeared visibly crestfallen.
‘This isn’t right…’
Seeing her with her head down with a gloomy expression made me feel uneasy.
Carefully, I approached the straw pile where Erina was sitting.
As I drew near, she seemed surprised but didn’t move away.
As the distance slowly narrowed, her ears turned red.
She tensed up, and her shoulders became stiff.
Despite her tense posture, she tried to maintain a nonchalant expression.
‘Yeah, that’s right. The protagonist was originally this kind of character.’
Always valuing and cherishing her comrades.
Her actions of self-sacrifice and dedication were ingrained in her.
While it could be considered a natural setting for a protagonist, Erina was not just a simple character in a story.
She was a living, breathing person in front of me.
“Thanks for making a sleeping place for me.”
“It’s something I should do.”
As if she were forcing herself to perform a good deed, her fixation on caring for me was evident to the point of being obsessive.
“I also want to help you.”
“So, it’s okay not to take care of me too much.”
Although the melancholic atmosphere still lingered, at least she didn’t refuse my suggestion.
“Alright. Let’s call it a night now.”
I divided my straw and gave them back to Erina.
And she took a seat next to me.
“Still, is this okay…?”
I nodded quietly, and a gentle smile returned to her face.
Yes, this was fine.
“Alright then, let’s rest now.”
“Yes. Good night.”
And so, we fell asleep.
Tomorrow would be another busy day as we continued our journey towards the capital. It was time to rest deeply for now.
As I listened to the crackling sound of the burning campfire, I drifted into sleep.
Someone was calling my name.
It was a voice I had never heard before, yet strangely, it felt familiar.
When I opened my eyes, the darkness lifted, revealing a dazzling sight.
A huge temple that looked like something out of ancient mythology.
However, it lay in ruins, with not a single sacred place intact.
‘Where is this?’
It was the temple that appeared in the prologue, along with the image of the goddess.
‘ I recognize it.’
But the temple now, in complete disarray, was something I had no memory of.
A voice echoed from somewhere.
In response, I thought of her name.
No reply came, but I was certain.
The person whose voice called me was the goddess.
In the game, the protagonist received a revelation from the goddess through dreams.
It seemed she had forcefully brought me here while I was asleep.
“What exactly is your intention?”
‘Please. Please come inside.’
Not only had she imprinted on me, but she had also brought me directly into her temple.
I couldn’t understand her intentions.
Why was the temple in ruins?
What event had taken place that I wasn’t aware of?
Following her words, I walked into the temple.
‘Please, to the center…’
There were a lot of things I hoped for.
Following her instructions, I walked slowly toward the interior of the temple.
But the moment I entered the temple, something felt wrong.
Pillars had collapsed, and the roof had caved in.
There were countless blood stains that had turned dark over time.
Not just one person; dozens of corpses lay scattered, abandoned.
Luckily, there was no stench, but the sight alone made me uncomfortable.
Having finally reached the center, I found myself at a loss for words.
Amidst the multitude of corpses, in the center,
‘I apologize. I couldn’t even come out to greet you in this state…’
Her arms were broken, her legs mangled.
One eye quivered, unable to fully open.
Bound by chains, her limbs showed no unscathed parts.
‘What in the world happened…?’
Hanging on the edge of the throne, she breathed as if she could die any moment.
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