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Translated by Momo. Edited by Mary.
All of a sudden, Cecilia couldn't move her legs.
Her whole body was paralyzed.
Thirty minutes had passed since she touched the treasure and it wouldn't activate automatically.
Cecilia only closed her eyes expecting to be crushed.
At that moment, someone pushed her body out of the way.
Her body staggered to the side. She widened her eyes after feeling her back hitting against the wall.
She could see Marleen being crushed by a thick pillar.
"Are you okay!?"
Panicking, Cecilia approached her. Although the pillar that fell on top of Marleen was heavy, it could still be moved by a single person.
Cecilia rolled it out of the way and tried to lift Marleen's upper body.
There was blood on the palm that supported her head. It looked like a wound opened when the pillar fell on her. Cecilia realized Marleen was unable to move despite being supported by her so she might have also suffered some bone fractures.
"... It would be bad if you got hurt."
"Was it because I'm a noble?"
Only because of something like that... The words that came out were filled with regret. Marleen lightly shook her head.
"Of course, there's that too. But before that, you're Dante's friend. If you got hurt, that kid would be mad at me."
"Wasn't it like that? When he came back some time ago, he was having such a good time talking about you. He said there was a funny girl who dressed as a guy while attending school..."
"Well, then right after that, he said he would leave the organization". Marleen said while grinning.
"Your name was Cecilia, right? Just leave me here. I can't escape anymore."
Marleen started to nod off vaguely, perhaps her consciousness was waning due to the massive blood loss. Cecilia raised her voice, trying her best to keep her awake.
"I can't do that!"
"What are you talking about? I'm the leader of the organization that kidnapped you."
"But still... you helped me!"
"Don't... say stupid things, hu-hurry..."
Marleen fainted while replying.
Cecilia hugged her body and looked around.
"What should I do……?"
The path they were just about to head towards earlier was already engulfed in flames.
(I have to do something!)
Cecilia lifted Marleen to carry the woman on her back...
It was only thanks to her that Cecilia was safe now. There was no way she would leave her behind.
The moment she tried to get up with all the extra weight, she felt a sharp pain on her right ankle.
As she observed closely, Cecilia realized her right ankle was red and swollen. She must have twisted it when she got pushed away earlier. However, compared to Marleen, it was only a minor injury.
Cecilia touched the treasure one more time.
The protective membrane enveloped all her surroundings, including Marleen.
"For the time being, let's move to the back of the room..."
She knew that it was probably hopeless to move in that direction. However, there was no other choice but to stay away from the flames as much as possible. Gilbert's treasure would protect them only from direct physical attacks, the smoke and the heat would still affect them.
Cecilia dragged her feet to the back of the armoury. She had a very faint hope that there could be a small window or opening towards that side.
"You must be kidding..."
There was a window there. The window was only meant to shed light into the room, so it was just a framed squared stained glass. But if she could break through the stained glass, the opening was the perfect size for them to go through.
"But...that way. It's impossible."
The window was placed extremely high. It was so high up that even if Cecilia doubled her height, she still wouldn't be able to reach it.
She couldn't reach it by herself. Cecilia's ankle was swollen and twisted, and she was still carrying Marleen. As expected, the situation seemed hopeless.
"What should I do…?"
The smoke began to engulf their surroundings
Blood was dripping onto the shoulder where Marleen's head rested.
Cecilia used the handkerchief she had taken back with her other belongings earlier to cover the bleeding spot. As the blood seeped through, it immediately stuck to the injured area.
When she heard that voice, the stained glass she was looking up to suddenly broke.
And someone effortlessly came down, almost like taking a free fall.
Dante stood there, carrying something that looked like a rope. The usual flirtatious smile was gone and he had a serious expression on his face. When he saw Cecilia, he ran up to them.
"Are you okay!? I heard that some guys did something stupid and I came running back to check on it!"
"Yes, yeah. I'm okay but..."
Dante's gaze moved from Cecilia to Marleen, who was being carried on her back.
He frowned and looked upset. For him, Marleen was like a mother, father, and sister. It was inevitable that he would react like that when he saw her bleeding and unconscious.
Dante stood still for a few seconds and then immediately turned to Cecilia.
"Cecil, let's escape from here."
"Then, put Marleen down for the time being."
"With my strength, I can only carry one person at a time."
His words came down like a cold shower. He looked completely serious and it didn’t look like he was joking.
"Cecil, you can't climb up this rope with your leg like that. I can carry one person, but two would be impossible."
"...Unlike you, Marleen is reaping what she sowed."
Even though he said it himself, there was still sadness and regret in his eyes.
He probably also wanted to rescue Marleen and escape together.
The old castle grounds were vast. If Cecil was to be brought out first, Marleen's body would be swallowed by flames before Dante could return.
That meant that Dante decided to let Marleen die.
"Marleen is an important person for Dante, right?"
"...It doesn't matter. People like us won't die decently."
"Quickly! The flames are getting closer to us."
Dante raised his voice as if blocking out her words and grabbed her arm..
Cecilia immediately shook off his hand.
(I can't let this go on like this!)
Cecilia bit her lower lip in reaction to his berating tone.
Life was precious.
That's why she, as Cecilia and herself , started to work hard the moment she became aware of her destiny. It's not like she didn't rest at all, but she believed she had done as much as possible for those twelve years.
It was all about preparing for her future.
But Cecilia did not intend to survive at the expense of anyone else's life. If this was Cecilia's fate, letting Marleen die was just turning her into another victim.
That was something that she could never accept.
(And there's also……)
She felt like she could understand Dante's love for Marleen. She was the only family he knew. If she let Dante abandon and leave her to die at his discretion, he would have to bear that wound as long as he lived.
"Dante, please take Marleen first!"
"I'm fine because I have this."
Cecilia showed him the treasure.
"When I'm wearing this, nothing can harm me. Of course, including the fire and smoke."
She mixed some white lies with the truth.
As expected from a former member of her school theatre club, she sounded convincing enough to where Dante didn't seem to notice any inconsistency.
"If you help me out first, Marleen won't have a chance, but if you take her out now, we can all escape."
She grabbed Dante's hand.
"I'm fine, so please leave with Marleen first! I'll be waiting for your return while protecting myself with the treasure."
"Do you want to hit me for a trial? It rebounds quite well, so don't complain if you get hurt."
Dante thought for a while but then nodded slowly.
"Okay, I'll take Marleen out and I'll be back to rescue you right away."
"Yeah. I'll be right here."
Dante took Marleen off from Cecilia's back and carried her. Then, following along the rope, he easily climbed up.
Looking at them until his back disappeared, Cecilia leaned against the wall.
"I showed off too much..."
She had no regrets. But she was still afraid.
Considering the situation, Dante wouldn't be able to return in time.
She couldn't expect any other help to come. Even if somebody came, it was unlikely they would figure out she was trapped in this place.
It wasn't like she was giving up, but she couldn’t do anything at the moment.
As she closed her eyes, a strange and complex sight appeared in her mind that she couldn't recognize at first.
Flames spreading through a movie theatre.
In front of her, some unknown woman and her best friend who was trying to save that stranger were both collapsed on the floor.
The sleeves of her clothes were burning--...
Cecilia patted her arms in reflex.
But, as expected, there was no fire.
After her eyes darted around in confusion for a while, she hugged herself, trying to calm down.
"I see…I must have died in a fire..."
She couldn't understand before but it seemed like the reason behind her body reacting so vividly towards fire was the influence of her past life's memories. Even without realizing it, the fear was always there. For that same reason, her legs couldn't move and her body quivered.
The flames finally spread thoroughly into the weapon arsenal.
Her body trembled. Her knees got so weak she could barely stand anymore.
It had already got to a point of no return, it might be fate taking its turn. She didn't want to die being consumed by flames.
(After I was finally able to get along well with Gil and Oscar...)
The smoke engulfed the room as the flames approached. Cecilia's thoughts began to drift away.
She fell to the floor, almost passing out.
"I wanted to live properly this time..."
The moment she muttered that her consciousness sank into darkness.
1. She meant, as Cecilia and Hiyono, both of her current and previous lives being the same person.
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