Lighteater wasn't stained in blood as it didn't cut Kurdak. At the very last second, he looked down at Kurdak beneath his feet and something finally changed his mind.
It was the scars on him, specifically, the ones on Kurdak's right rib. They were three slash wounds, each about as thick as an infant's palm, and the fourth was as deep as a thumb. They were so garish they could make a timid girl cry on sight, and Kurdak had incurred them some three to four years ago. He had tried to save Leguna and was almost killed by the crimsonblood bear.
Those scars reminded Leguna about the earliest memories he had of Kurdak. The open and bright man who often patted his shoulder hard, the one who wasn't a few years older than him but cared for him like a parent.
Even though he wanted to kill him now, without him, Leguna would've died a few times over. He was his boss, his savior, so Leguna couldn't do it.
Kurdak didn't give him any reason for wanting to kill him, so Leguna didn't need one to spare him either.
Leguna sheathed Lighteater and took a step back. After a moment in silence, he said, "Go!"
Kurdak thought that his fate was no doubt sealed, but death didn't come. It was only when Leguna spoke out that he opened his eyes in puzzlement.
"Go!" Leguna repeated.
For some reason, he was still quite hesitant before he made up his mind. But now, he seemed certain and relaxed, as if he had laid down a heavy burden.
"What? You're still that laughably sympathetic?" Kurdak stood up with his sword as leverage. He turned to look at Leguna and asked, "You wanna bet I'll think of another way to kill you if you let me go?"
Leguna fell silent.
"That isn't necessarily true!"
He wore a snide smirk on his face as if he already had another plan.
"I don't want to argue with you about this!" Leguna said with a raised voice. "Boss…"
"Even now, you still call me 'Boss?'" Kurdak mocked.
"Habit," Leguna replied plainly, "You've saved me countless times. If you really want to rise up the ranks, I can give you what you want. Will you return to our side?"
"No!" Kurdak said with a firm nod, "You've been with me for years, so surely you know what kind of person I am. I kill and raid and get what I want by my own power! I'll even rob if I have to! But have you ever seen me beg others for the things I want?"
Leguna looked down with disappointment. Kurdak was indeed how he said he was. Even though his beliefs were quite similar to the barbarians', he was still his familiar boss. After some consideration, Leguna mumbled, "It's not charity…"
"It is to me!" Kurdak said stubbornly.
"So you're dead set on killing me no matter what?"
"If I have the chance, I wouldn't hesitate to pierce this sword into your heart," Kurdak said while waving Lava Blade around arrogantly.
Leguna looked up and closed his eyes as he took a deep sigh. After some times, blood flowed out of his mouth. He had tried to endure it at first, but he couldn't bear it and spat out a puddle of blood. His heart hurt so much that he suffered an actual injury to his heart, just like the time when Innilis admitted to poisoning Annelotte.
"Leguna!" Annelotte cried.
"I'm fine…" He waved his hand and wiped the blood off his mouth. "Since you've put it like that, Boss, I have nothing else to say."
"It should've been like that in the first place! You're way too sentimental!" Kurdak snapped.
"You've helped me and saved me. Without you, I wouldn't have survived this long," Leguna said, "Even though I saved you during the incident with the Eye, that isn't enough to repay what I owe, so I'm sparing you this time."
"I won't thank you for that." Kurdak didn't look happy that he was spared.
"But from this moment on…" Leguna said as he clutched the ends of his shirt with his left hand and formed a shadow dagger in his right hand and cut them off as if he was cutting away his own flesh. He tossed the cloth to Kurdak and declared, "From this moment on, it's over between us! We…"
He paused, before mustering all he could and said the last words, "…are… nothing… to… each… other!"
Kurdak's face didn't show a shred of emotion. He picked up the cloth and nodded.
"That's fine as well. Now that we're strangers, I can strike the next time without hesitation."
"You'd best not show yourself to me again. I will not stay my blade next time."
Leguna walked to Annelotte without looking back.
Annelotte felt rather perplexed at seeing two brother-like men fight to that point. She didn't know what else to say about this, as her memories weren't complete. She couldn't make a decision for Leguna as she didn't completely know him at the moment. Not to mention, Kurdak held the key to fixing their relationship. She had no sway over that.
Leguna got to her side and said in a low voice, "I'm sorry…"
"Why apologize?" she asked.
"I spared him on my own accord. He might come back and be a threat to you," he said.
"He can't hurt me, and what you did was right."
"Also…" Leguna paused for a moment, before saying, "I've sworn that I would never doubt you of all people, but now…"
Annelotte sighed. His intentions were clear. He harbored doubts about her yet again. It wasn't hard to understand, however. One of his most trusted people had betrayed him. The reason Annelotte approached Leguna in the first place was far more complicated than that. Could he still really trust her?
In terms of how he felt, he would no doubt choose to remain by her side without hesitation. However, his reason fought against those feelings. Though the suspicion was weak, it wasn't something he could ignore. He hesitated greatly. He was a coward who was afraid of being hurt. So, he couldn't bring himself to trust his feelings for now. That was what he was apologizing about.
"I understand," Annelotte said. There was no point in consoling him. He already doubted her and didn't feel familiar enough with him to be his emotional support for now.
She turned to leave after saying that. Leguna watched her for a moment before silently following along.
Kurdak looked at the people around them and knew he no longer had a chance. So, he turned around and prepared to leave.
"Boss," Leguna said.
"What? Changed your mind?" Kurdak said without turning back.
After some hesitation, he said, "Take care of Sis Vera and Lamir."
"I don't need your concern!" he said with his blade raised as he walked away.
"Sir, is there anything you need us to do?" Xeno asked vaguely. He couldn't tell what Leguna wanted at the moment and he was afraid asking something along the lines of 'do you want us to send someone to secretly take him out' would anger him.
Leguna didn't get angry. He knew Xeno was thinking of his best interests. What he did was right and expected for him. He shook his head.
"No, need. Let him go. However, make sure this matter is kept secret for as long as possible. If I find anyone that has leaked this, I wouldn't hesitate to go for the kill! Also, I might need to take a few days off. I'll be leaving the bureau to you for now."
"I understand. I'll have everything in order." Xeno turned to give the other agents their orders.
Leguna continued to follow silently behind Annelotte. The snow was still falling. He recalled how happy he was when he thought he would finally reunite with someone he cared about, but now, his heart was a frozen wasteland, cold and devoid of anything.
Leguna really didn't show up at the bureau the next day. Xeno wasn't surprised about it; he knew how emotional Leguna was. For him to suffer a shock like that, it would take him quite a while to recover.
So he announced Leguna was on a secret mission, leaving him in charge as acting head of the bureau. Naturally, he didn't fail to send someone to request permission from Leguna about it. However, the agent said that Leguna didn't come out to see him and merely returned the request with his fingerprint on it.
Xeno kept the bureau running as its acting head from that moment on.Previous Chapter Next Chapter