Infinite Mage (Novel) Chapter 162

                         



C162

“I don't know anymore. What kind of person is noona? Why is everything a lie? What can you gain by deceiving people like this?”

“Why should I tell you? You’re just trying to use me! If it's really for me, leave like this! Then I will trust you! Huh? I'm telling you! So just go!"

“Just tell me what's real!”

Shirone's outcry made Marsha's shoulders flinch.

“Don't just say it hurts, tell me where and how it hurts! That’s how I'll decide whether to leave or not! Because you paint the world with all kinds of lies like this....”

Approaching Marsha closely, Shirone raised his fist and shouted..

"I can't see how sick noona are!"

At that moment, a strong shout was heard from behind.

“Marsha! Nooooo!”

Amy and Tess looked back. Freeman, with his eyes turned upside down, was charging toward Shirone at great speed.

"No way! I was definitely hit him in the face.”

Amy was startled as if she had seen a ghost. Surviving the impact of Flame Strike was one thing, but coming back to life with a burnt face was another.

“Who’s letting him pass......!”

The moment Tess stepped forward to block the way, Freeman jumped up. With his incredible jumping power, he leap over Tess' height, drew his gun, and flew at Shirone.

Rian turned and swung his straight sword at Freeman. Despite the pain as if his muscles were tearing apart, if he let Freeman go, all their efforts would be in vain.

“Euaaaaahh!”

Without exception, the Slow Magic caught Freeman. It was self-evident that Rian's sword would slice him in two.

But he did not back down. He had to protect Marsha. He had to keep Marsha away from Shirone at all costs.

At that moment, Rian and Freeman stopped moving with equally shocked expressions. Rian's sword could not cut down Freeman, and Freeman could not reach Shirone.

This is because Shirone, who was sensing the situation behind the scenes, suddenly released his Slow Magic.

The advantage of time magic was that the same effect could be expected in both on and off modes.

Meanwhile, Shirone's fist had been swirling in a giant trajectory.

Marsha could only watch. The fist of the cruel boy, coming to shatter everything she had, was approaching.

Shirone's fist thrashed Marsha's face. Her head jerked back as if struck by a massive impact, and she slumped down on the spot as if she had been in a huge shock.

“Ma- Marsha.”

Freeman's face turned pale. Marsha too seemed unable to accept reality. Staring blankly at the ground, she looked as if she were already dead.

Shirone realized his magic had returned. Meanwhile, Marsha's mind was devoid of any magic.

“Marsha...”

Freeman approached with a pained expression. The subordinates who had returned using the space movement magic circle appeared at the back of the building. But no one dared to approach..

Marsha has collapsed. They knew what it meant.

“Are you okay?”

Freeman's voice as he asked Marsha was subdued. His jaw twitched so much that one could see him clenching his teeth.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

Marsha forced a smile. Does one become detached in the face of an unchangeable truth?

Although smiling, her emotions seemed largely evaporated. It was as if the soul had escaped and only the shell remained.

Amy had no intention of sympathizing. This was the very person who had tried to shatter Shirone's life completely.

"She got what she deserved! Surely this isn’t the end. The ability to steal someone else's magic must come with a price, right?”

Marsha wasn't angry. That's how equivalent exchange works. If she hadn’t been prepared for this outcome, the magic wouldn’t have been activated in the first place.

“Yes, the condition for releasing Extortion is for you to touch my body. Then the stolen magic will return. And the price that comes with it is… saying this to the person.”

Marsha turned and sat down where Shirone was standing. She then opened her mouth with a very terrified expression.

“You can embrace me.”

Tess frowned in disbelief.

“W- What?”

Hanging such a thing as a price because there was nothing else to hang. What kind of woman can be so frivolous?

But Shirone understood. Extortion is an ability that could not be obtained without hanging a cost equivalent to death.

The magic that forced her to kill her adoptive father that night was a re-enactment of a memory she most wanted to forget.

Rian, who had finally figured out the situation, said as if he was displeased.

“What kind of price is this? Shirone would never do such a thing. What if Shirone refuses?"

Freeman said.

“Then Marsha dies. According to the rule she set, she loses her life the moment Shirone refuses."

As the word 'death' was mentioned, Tess waved her hands in a panic, as if the words were getting tangled up.

"But, but that's impossible, right? Where on earth is this law? Amy, please say something too. This doesn't make sense, right?"

"Don’t ask me. It’s up to Shirone to decide.”

Amy's mind was equally disturbed. Shirone is not the kind of person who would hurt a woman like this. But what sense of responsibility he felt in this situation, holding her life in his hands, was an unknown factor.

"I see. I think it would be better to live than to die. I'll pay the price myself."

Shirone made his decision and walked towards Marsha. This time, even Amy's heart couldn't help but race.

Freeman, who had been silent, suddenly interrupted Shirone. His body moved without realizing it. It was a helpless act of pure love.

But in the end, he had no choice but to step aside.

"I beg of you. Please save Marsha.”

Marsha closed her eyes and waited. She was nervous as if she was going on the operating table for the first time, but part of her thought that maybe this was the way it should be.

Terrible trauma. Even if she wanted to sear it away, she could not do anything about it because it was her own. It felt like it would be refreshing if someone used a soldering iron to burn the memory of an enemy that she could not do anything about.

"Freeman, I'm sorry."

For the first time, Marsha uttered an apology. Understanding what this implied, Freeman bowed his head and stepped back.

Shirone approached Marsha's side.

Trauma is dangerous because it anchors both the present and the future in past events. Perhaps, since that day, she had never truly lived in the future.

"Can we go somewhere alone? I beg you."

"There's no need for that. Right here is sufficient."

Marsha opened her eyes and examined Shirone's expression. But he remained calm.

What could he possibly be thinking? Maybe he planned to torment her with false hope before killing her.

‘After all... I did all those things to him.’

She had stolen his magic and taunted him countless time. Surely, Shirone must have reached the depths of despair by now. It made sense that he might want to vent his anger this way.

Shirone supported Marsha's back and pulled her upper body towards him. She did as she was told. Whatever was asked of her, not accepting would only cost her more.

Shirone whispered softly into her ear, holding her face close to his chest.

“I have embrace you.”

Marsha blinked, not understanding at first, then scowled upon realizing Shirone's intent.

What kind of child's play is this?

“What are you doing?”

“I hugged noona, as noona asked.”

“Don’t play around. Do you think it ends here? Are you mocking me?”

“I told you, I won’t give up on noona.”

“Let go! I don't want cheap sympathy! Do you think this makes you look amazing? Just embrace me! You're mad at me! Get revenge to your heart’s content!”

Bound by the rules of the cost, Marsha couldn’t harm Shirone. But even if she struggled, Shirone had no intention of letting her go.

“You bastard! Lump of pretense! You piece of trash!”

“My noona is a good person.”

Shirone said while stroking Marsha’s head.

“My noona is different from Arcane. I can tell just by looking at the number of people following noona. Even if it's a lie, that's enough. No one, not even noona, knows what’s in someone else’s mind. I don't know either. We just have to believe and live on. Even if no one believes in you, you can still believe in yourself. If noona truly loves someone, there must be someone in the world who loves noona back equally.”

"No! That can't be true! What do you know! What do you know to spout such things!”

Marsha vehemently denied Shirone’s words. But when she realized tears were streaming down her cheeks, her expression turned to shock and she fell silent.

Even now, she doesn't feel sad at all. So why were these tears flowing?

"Uh? What's wrong with me? Why am I crying all of a sudden…….”

How tightly sealed must her emotions have been, that tears flowed even before her feelings could surface?

But it was different now. As her memories, which she had left sealed away, rise into consciousness, Marsha finally confronts her own trauma for the first time.

It was a day when she was seventeen.

Marsha was lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling, when her stepfather approached, reeking of alcohol.

It was always the same scenario, always the same violence.

Marsha was acutely aware of the dagger hidden behind her back. Its cold touch seemed to freeze her skin.

"You can embrace me."

Her stepfather's eyes widened in shock.

Marsha vividly remembered that moment, the monstrous emotion rising in her stepfather's pupils.

Marsha clenched the dagger. He was coming closer. She felt she had no choice but to stab.

But in this moment, her imagination of her father differed from the one in her memories.

After raising Marsha's upper body, her father buried her face in his chest and gently stroked her back.

“I’m sorry until now, Marsha. You are my daughter.” (“지금까지 마안했다, 마르샤. 너는 내 딸이야.”)

The words she had longed to hear most in the world.

The moment she remembered that one word, the locked doors of Marsha's heart fully opened. Emotions she had suppressed for ten years burst forth, and she could not contain her tears.

"Sob! Hic!"

Marsha, hugged by Shirone, burst into sorrowful tears.

"Uwaaah! Dad! Daaad!"

Shirone remained silent, simply stroking her back.

"Dad! Why did you do that! I'm sorry! Sorry, Dad!"

In truth, she had hoped to be embraced like this. No matter how violent he had been, she had always wished that the man who had taken her in as an orphan would remain her father till the end.

"It's okay, noona. It's okay now."

Marsha's past was falling apart. It was being reconstructed into a slightly stronger memory, turning into hope for living in the future.

"Uwaaah! Dad! Daaad..."

Freeman checked the time.

The rule Marsha had set should have already taken effect. But Marsha was still alive.

"What's happening? What's the situation?”

Only the two of them would know what emotions were going back and forth between Marsha and Shirone. Therefore, others still could not let down their guard.

Freeman explained.

“Extortion has been undone. Shirone has nullified her magic."

"Nonsense. She said it was okay to embrace her, but did she really mean that it would end if he just hugged her? Where is the price for that?”

Freeman hesitated to answer. To Amy, who didn't understand the full story, it sounded preposterous.

But delving deeper, it wasn't just about the words.

Shirone opened Marsha's closed heart. He shattered the shell she had built around herself with her Rule Eater magic and offered her a new path.

“Shirone didn't just undo Extortion. By canceling the condition for Extortion to be activated, Marsha's authority was cut off. Marsha’s Deprivation no longer exists in this world.”

Freeman smiled bitterly. Maybe it didn't matter to Shirone what Marsha's real pain was. From the very beginning, he planned to embrace everything.

'I couldn't do that... We've been thoroughly defeated.'

"Uwaaah! Uwaaah!"

Marsha's tears showed no signs of stopping. She knew it too. If not today, the door may never open again.

The many memories of living in the past were sinking into the abyss after ten years.

Late Lunch (1)

Twenty minutes had passed since the battle ended.

The Parrot Mercenary Band sat down to rest, and Rian also treated the injured area following Tess' first aid measures.

Meanwhile, Marsha was still in Shirone's arms.

No more tears came out now. But she intermittently shivered, savoring the aftermath of her emotional release.



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