Chapter 102: Because of Fear (3)
That wasn’t all. The rope also changed shape.
Whirrrl! The rope swirled in the air and widened into something like a cape. Flap. The cape landed on the woman’s body and wrapped around her. Chi-Woo stared at the woman blankly. Instead of the skeleton with only bones, a charming, mysterious woman was now standing in front of him.
She arched her back and craned her face forward, propping her jaw up with the back of her hand. With the moon as her background, the witch stared at Chi-Woo and asked, “How is it?” Her lips, which were as red as her pupils, parted and said, “Is this better?” Instead of a resounding, eerie sound, her voice seemed to be coming directly from her vocal cords now.
“If it’s fine by you, would you put your weapon away?” she asked.
Chi-Woo didn’t respond. His eyes were simply fixated on the woman.
[Please get a hold of yourself.]
Mimi’s voice then rang and awakened Chi-Woo from his dazed state.
“…Ah.” Chi-Woo responded half a beat late. He was bewitched by the woman’s beauty; she was so stunning that it made his mind hazy. That was no exaggeration. His head had felt completely empty.
[It seems she can charm others with her existence alone.]
‘Her existence alone?’
[Think of it like the charisma or the halo ability you have.]
Charisma was an ability that a king of a country or a general of a high standing possessed. Similarly, halo effect was an ability that a miracle-performing saint who was respected in the religious sphere possessed.
[Besides those, there are also abilities in the ‘charm’ group that can enchant or capture people’s hearts.]
It was the power of ‘attraction’. Chi-Woo understood after falling under its influence. And although it was embarra.s.sing to admit it, he still felt the effects of it. The woman in front of him awakened Chi-Woo to the fact that he was also a regular male, not much different from a beast, and she stirred up in him all the instinctual behaviors of one.
[This is more like a curse than anything, not only for you, but all parties involved. Even if she doesn’t show any ill-intention, you should be careful, very careful.]
Hearing Mimi’s words, Chi-Woo extracted his exorcism mana. The lady tilted her head after a long stretch of silence.
“What is it?” she asked.
Chi-Woo felt better after tapping into his mana, and he began to see his surroundings clearly again.
“Nothing,” Chi-Woo sighed and answered. “You’re just so beautiful.”
“Ah.” The lady opened her delicate lips and nodded. “Of course.”
“Yes, you’re right. I’m a bit—no, very beautiful.”
Chi-Woo became at a loss for words, not because he thought the lady was being ridiculous but because she had spoken the truth. If he could, he wanted to grasp her thin face with his hands and press his lips against hers. No, to be more explicit, he wanted to win her over. Although he resisted, he couldn’t stop the imaginations born out of his primal desires from overflowing. Chi-Woo gritted his teeth. While his purified body and exorcism mana allowed him some self-control, it was all he could do to repress his instincts. He wouldn’t say she was simply beautiful. Like Mimi said, the lady’s ability was an extremely harmful curse rather than anything beneficial.
“Men… Whether in the past or present, they are all the same.” The lady twirled her silky, s.h.i.+ning hair with her index finger and asked, “If it’s hard for you, should I turn back to what I was like before?”
“…No. The appearance you had when you were alive is much better.”
“Yes. I don’t think it would be a bad idea for you to stay in this form forever, seeing how nice you look.”
“I get that you are complimenting me, but no.” The lady firmly refused. “I know too. That my natural appearance is superior to the average person.”
“It’s more than ‘superior’.”
“Yeah, you may be right. And thanks to it, I had to go through all kinds of trouble and die in the end.”
Chi-Woo closed his mouth. He recalled the words the lich had said before he disappeared while shuddering in fear.
“Great Wh.o.r.e.” The lady finished Chi-Woo’s phrase, and her eyebrows drew a low arch.
“They found out that I was a witch simply because of my beauty. And I died under all kinds of false accusations.”
“Ah…What? Did you say ‘found out’?’
“Yes. It was true that I was a witch.” The lady—the witch agreed easily. “Anyways, even a guy like you has to resist. How would other people react if I maintained this appearance?”
“There would be a huge commotion wherever you go.”
There were legendary beauties in history that shook up nations’ fates; for example, there was Greece’s greatest beauty, Helena, who single-handedly triggered the Trojan war. Chi-Woo scratched the top of his head. He didn’t know what to say, but since he didn’t feel antagonism from her, he lowered his club for now.
“Thank you.” The witch smiled faintly. “Am I right to interpret that as your willingness to communicate with me?”
“Yes, will the conversation go on for a long time?”
“Depending on your answer, it could be long or short. I suspect that it will be a long conversation, but personally, I hope to keep it short.”
“Then I will sit down first.”
“As you wish.” The witch offered the seat next to her. Chi-Woo took it. From afar, they looked like a couple looking at the night sky together.
“Okay, let’s talk,” Chi-Woo said.
“…Yeah.” The witch seemed a bit taken aback by his closeness and moved away slightly before clearing her throat.
“Where have you been until now?” she asked first.
“Is that what you called me over for?”
“No, that’s for my own curiosity,” the witch replied. But if that was the case, Chi-Woo thought he had no reason to tell her everything.
“I met somebody and came back.”
The witch’s eyes slightly narrowed. As if she was judging him, she glanced up and down at him slowly a couple of times. Then she muttered, surprising Chi-Woo, “La Bella. The daughter of the Star Maiden and G.o.ddess of Balance…”
After a pause, she added, “The troublesome fellow has come back even more troublesome than before.”
It was a compliment. She was saying that although Chi-Woo had been a concern, he was now an existence too troublesome that he couldn’t be ignored now.
“Do you know G.o.ddess La Bella?”
“No, she is from mythical times. Not even I know her well.”
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Even though the witch had died a long time ago, La Bella lived in an era long before hers. La Bella was from an era so long ago that even ancient people called it mythical times. To give an a.n.a.logy in Earth terms, it would be like someone from 3,000 years ago exclaiming in wonder at a pyramid built 4,000 years before their time, wondering how such an architecture was made.
“You don’t even know them? They’re the alien species that invaded Liber.”
Chi-Woo gasped in surprise.
“They’re an organization renowned in s.p.a.ce for their conquest. It’s to the extent that we can no longer consider them as merely a s.p.a.ce pirate gang.”
Chi-Woo learned something new—the Sernitas group. Chi-Woo decided to commit it to his memory. “They must be very strong.”
“They are,” the witch said flatly. “Even in my life and after death…I’ve never seen a species that attacked so strongly and elegantly.”
“According to my information network, the Sernitas have succeeded in capturing one of Liber’s G.o.ds and transforming them to their liking, and they’ll soon send them to our side. Can you now get a feeling of what our situation is like?”
Chi-Woo clicked his tongue. They captured Liber’s G.o.d and transformed them to their liking? He didn’t even know that was possible. ‘That’s why…’ He found out why his brother had such a difficult time finding a G.o.d.
Anyway, Chi-Woo roughly understood the situation. The faction to which the witch belonged was called ‘Abyss’ which was known to have crawled up from the very bottom of the world. And currently, the Abyss was feeling overwhelmed by the Sernitas amid a three-sided war.
After organizing his thoughts, Chi-Woo decided to make a bold bluff. “What if I refuse?”
“I hope you decide not to.” Surprisingly, the witch spoke softly as if she was trying to persuade him.
“Even if you’re telling the truth, you’ll be able to destroy all the monsters in one sweep by doing one sweeping pa.s.s through Liber.”
“It’s not like they’re gathered in one area. They’re scattered all over Liber. Even going around the border would take me a long time.”
“Yes, but at most about ten days for you.”
“And what do you think will happen if someone like me leaves the frontlines for ten days?”
“But you have enough time to leisurely talk to me like this?” Chi-Woo looked at the witch with nervousness as he asked this question.
After a short silence, the witch replied, “…I don’t invest in worthless matters. I can’t afford to even leave the frontlines for a few moments, but I’ve done so and come all the way to meet you here… That means I found the visit worthwhile.”
“If I gain something much more valuable than the time I invested, then, yeah, I’ll do the same thing again.”
“…Is that so.”
“I hope you think of my offer in a favorable light. This isn’t a bad deal for you and your people.”
“Why is that?”
“The area that the Sernitas will soon be expanding towards is not far from this fortress. If we’re given the leeway to concentrate fully on their forces, it’ll be easier for us to fight them off.” That sounded somewhat like a threat.
Chi-Woo folded his arms and closed his eyes in contemplation. First of all, he was surprised by the witch’s att.i.tude. She was different from what Ru Amuh had described, and she didn’t force or push him to accept her offer. Instead, the witch was treating him like her equal, and—he might be mistaken—he would even describe her att.i.tude as favorable. Even though he had thrown in some provoking words a few times, she didn’t react to it. It was shocking considering the differences in their strengths and the power her group held.
‘Is their situation that dire…?’ It was not a bad decision to accept her request. They needed to settle here anyway. To that end, they must clean up the monsters that were thriving everywhere across Liber sooner or later. However, he was reluctant to just say ‘yes’. He would be a fool to believe that was enough for him to establish a friendly relations.h.i.+p with the witch, let alone the Abyss Faction. Thus, he needed to use this opportunity to get everything he could get—even if that meant ripping them off.
Chi-Woo didn’t ponder for too long. “First…”
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