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For the Downfall of My Beloved Chapter 10

Updated: Feb 2

"How could I not love?" 

 

Every time Juya drank, she murmured these words as if casting a spell. 

 

Even though she was a drinker by nature, whenever she felt the warmth of alcohol, she would firmly tie up her red hair and look around her. 

 

The small creatures of the White Flower Kingdom, the scurrying animals, even the insects clinging to the ground. 

 

No matter how small or insignificant the life, Juya's eyes would sparkle when she looked at them. 

 

"Princess, look at these. Aren't they just adorable? What should I do? I'm afraid I might crush them if I hold them." 

 

Not just people, but every passing ant, every wildflower on the road. 

 

To Juya, everything was an embodiment of loveliness. 

 

Her sharp eyes would curve into crescents, beaming brightly with pure joy. 

 

But Rohwa poured cold water on Juya's warmth. 

 

"But Juya, they don't reciprocate your affection. How can you love them? Don't you feel resentment?" 

 

Rohwa spoke as she lay on Gion's lap, watching Juya handing a squirrel some fruit. 

 

Juya looked at the back of the squirrel that ran away as soon as it grabbed the fruit and made a sullen face. 

 

Then, she made an angry voice, like a four-year-old child throwing a tantrum. 

 

"Ah! I don't care! I like them. What can I do about it!" 

 

"There she goes again. Again." 

 

Watching Juya flop down on the grass, Rohwa shook her head in disapproval. 

 

Juya was the chieftain of the Phoenix tribe. With her power over the fire element, she only used her abilities for good. 

 

She would discipline bandits who hunted indiscriminately, warm the floors of every villager's home for children suffering from colds, 

 light fires in caves to keep animals warm during cold days, and even use her fire to help the village women dry their laundry faster by the riverside. 

 

It would be difficult to find a living creature in the White Flower Kingdom that hadn't received Juya's help. 

 

However, those who received Juya's help didn't think much of her. 

 

At first, many admired Juya, but this quickly deteriorated. 

 

Most of the people took Juya's help for granted, seeking her only when in need. 

 

When Juya was suffering from a fever due to overusing her abilities, no one noticed, and people only complained about her absence. 

 

Animals were no different. They feared her fire element but still took the food and fruits she offered. 

 

Yet Juya never stopped helping others. 

 

To Rohwa, such behavior seemed foolish. 

 

"Juya, why don't you pour your affection on those who will love you back? Everyone takes continuous kindness for granted. That's just human nature." 

 

"Rohwa." 

 

Gion gave Rohwa a look, but she just pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. 

 

"... Even if you give, they may not recognize it. They might even attack you... In the end, you're the one who gets hurt." 

 

Rohwa idly fiddled with her sleeve. 

 

Gion knew. Rohwa just didn't want Juya to get hurt. 

 

This was Rohwa's way of loving. 

 

Juya abruptly stood up and strode towards Rohwa. 

 

"Why does our rabbit-like princess talk like she's seen the whole world?" 

 

Juya playfully pinched Rohwa's lively cheeks and said, 

 

"It's not about receiving in return." 

 

"Huh?" 

 

"I don't give kindness; I give love." 

 

"......" 

 

"Their smiles are my reward, and that reward motivates me to help someone else... It's just that simple. I don't need anything in return. Just because I give love doesn't mean they're obligated to love me back." 

 

"... I don't understand." 

 

"Hmm. Is that so?" 

 

Saying that, Juya glanced at Gion, and a smile flickered on her lips. 

 

"Gion would understand what I mean." 

 

Gion didn't respond, but he knew exactly what Juya meant. 

 

Gion looked at the people and Rohwa and had such thoughts. 

 

He had diligently trained every moment, vowing to protect them in any way possible. 

 

It was impossible for him not to know. 

 

"Really, Gion, do you understand?" 

 

Rohwa was clueless in this regard. Or was she pretending to be? Gion awkwardly avoided her gaze, fearing his feelings might be exposed. 

 

Juya seemed to think it was time to stop teasing. She released Rohwa's hands, which were clutching her sleeves, and said, 

"Someday, our princess will also understand how priceless unconditional love is." 

 

Juya's smile shone brighter than anyone else's. Even intoxicated, she radiated happiness as if she was the happiest person in the world. 

 

"There might be something better than love that you'll discover someday. But whatever it is... it's valuable enough that I'd prefer to live without knowing it." 

 

After that day, Rohwa began to observe her surroundings more. She even tried mimicking Juya's actions. 

 

On rainy days, when she used to sulk, Rohwa started admiring the droplets on leaves. She used to dislike birds for their erratic fluttering, but after the rain, she found herself watching them fly in the sky for a long time. 

 

Gion, finding her actions endearing, silently stayed by Rohwa's side. 

 

*** 

 

"Why do you do that?" 

 

Gion looked down at Juya, sprawled carelessly, and asked. 

 

Without even glancing at Gion, Juya muttered, 

 

"What?" 

 

"Why did you love something you shouldn't have?" 

 

"......" 

 

Juya staggered to her feet. 

 

Her form wobbled and swayed, barely keeping upright, then finally steadied itself. 

 

"... There's nothing you shouldn't love." 

 

Juya gazed at the mountain, now a barren wasteland. 

 

There were no wildflowers, animals, or villagers that Juya used to love here. 

 

"Love comes from within, not from the object. That's why you can love everything in the world." 

 

"......" 

 

"Animals love humans, humans love plants, life loves nature... No matter what the object is, if it's bound by love, they are simply called 'us.' I've always told you that." 

 

Where was she looking while speaking? 

 

The depth in Juya's eyes was unfathomable. 

 

Just keeping her eyes open because she had to, breathing because she had to, responding because she had to... 

 

She didn't seem alive. 

 

Even seeing a comrade she had fought side by side with a hundred years ago, there was no sign of emotion. 

 

The one who used to say that love was the most valuable thing in life now seemed incapable of feeling any emotion. 

 

"......" 

 

There were no words to say. 

 

Comfort comes gently to those who are ready to receive it. 

 

Pouring water on Juya, who was burning herself like a flame, would only make her burn brighter. 

 

And Gion was not about to be hypocritical. 

 

The words Gion had to say to Juya were meant to shatter her love. 

 

"Where is the Seventh Chime?" 

 

The White Flower Kingdom had become a stronghold for demons. Those demons oppressed the people, preventing them from living a human life. 

 

Innocent beings were easily torn apart, and the ones commanding these beings, sitting at the top, were the 'Chimes.' 

 

In the midst of this, one of the five guardian tribe chiefs, a human, fell in love with a demon. 

 

Abandoning one's duty is problematic, but more so, it's a betrayal of humanity. 

 

The Seventh Chime and Juya could never be together, no matter how much they might wish to. 

 

And surely Juya knew that, too. 

 

That's probably why the one who used to give love so abundantly was now so broken. 

 

The saying that love can make a person strong implies that love can also make a person weak. 

 

"Why are you curious about the Seventh Chime's whereabouts?" 

 

Juya seemed to snap out of her daze and showed emotion for the first time in response to Gion's question. 

 

It was a slight frown, barely noticeable, but since she usually wore no expression, the furrow stood out starkly. 

 

"I'll hide you." 

 

"What...?" 

 

"I'll tell you of a place where you two, not as a human and a demon, but as 'us,' can live." 

 

For a moment, time seemed to halt for Juya, but it surely flowed. 

 

In her eyes, which had seemed so hollow, a flicker of hope passed, albeit briefly. 

 

It was like the sensation of rusted gears engaging and turning. 

 

"......" 

 

But soon, it faltered and came to a stop. 

 

Crack! 

 

Juya harshly grabbed Gion's wrist. 

 

"You're using me to kill the Seventh Chime?" 

 

*** 

 

"Your wound has healed." 

 

A large burn scar adorned a man's arm. 

 

Juya observed the scar quietly and said, 

 

"It seems that once you become a Chime, the recovery speed is faster." 

 

The man, one of the Chimes, casually folded his arms and replied to Juya. 

 

"How long do you plan to keep drinking?" 

 

"......" 

 

"The lifespan of humans is short. Life ends in the blink of an eye; you should try to live a bit longer." 

 

Juya's gaunt figure made the Seventh Chime frown. 

 

It had been a while since they last saw each other, but asking why he came seemed pointless. 

 

It was the kind of relationship where it wasn't strange for him to just show up. 

 

That's how they were. 

 

"Did it really have to be that way?" 

 

It was a question thrown abruptly without any context, but the Seventh Chime knew precisely what Juya was asking. 

 

"The demons in the White Flower Kingdom were mobilizing to exterminate the five guardian spirits. Only a Chime and the Demon King can control them." 

 

"......" 

 

"... If I hadn't become a Chime, the demons would have killed even you. I had to do it to keep you alive." 

 

"I didn't die, but everything I loved burned to ashes. In my fire…" 

 

Juya listlessly gazed at the puddles gathered around the Seventh Chime, then fell silent. 

 

The last time they faced each other unfolded vividly. 

 

The day when a man, who was just one of the demons, suddenly became a Chime and invaded the Phoenix tribe's mountain. 

 

The moment when numerous demons were devouring the tribe members, and the villagers Juya was protecting from the mountain were drowning, swept away by the water energy. 

 

As Juya unleashed a massive blaze to evaporate the water, the Seventh Chime immediately retracted his energy. 

 

Leaving Juya in the burning mountain, he left with the other demons, his last silhouette disappearing. 

 

"You know why I did it." 

 

The Seventh Chime answered with a tone that implied no regret. 

 

"... Yeah. It couldn't have been any other way for us." 

 

Juya stared at the Seventh Chime, her eyes unfocused, yet seemingly trying not to miss even a fleeting moment without bowing her head. 

 

Silence flowed between them. 

 

Thud. 

 

Footsteps breaking the stillness approached the Seventh Chime. 

 

The Seventh Chime's eyes violently shook as he saw the source of the sound approaching from a distance. 

 

"Juya, you…" 

 

Juya didn't respond to the Seventh Chime's words. 

 

Gion, with the White Qi flickering around his form, slowly advanced. 

One step, then another. 

 

"How could it be you of all people... why did it have to be you…" 

 

"......" 

 

Gion approached slowly, but the Seventh Chime's gaze was fixed solely on Juya. 

 

There was something more pressing than the menacing advance of death. 

 

"... Why did you abandon me?" 

 

Could he really show such an expression? 

 

The Seventh Chime, who seemed as if not a single drop of blood would spill even if cut by a sword, asked desperately. 

 

Tears gathered in his vacant eyes, like puddles forming, yet they seemed dry. 

 

"……" 

 

Juya trembled her lips slightly and said, 

 

"I love you."




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