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For the Downfall of My Beloved Chapter 12

Updated: Feb 6

It was cold.  

 

A damp and enveloping darkness seemed to pull her deeper into its grasp. 

 

Not particularly painful, though.  

 

Just slightly…  

 

"...sleepy."  

 

Rohwa blinked her eyes within the shadow she had created.  

 

Gradually becoming numb to the pain, Rohwa buried her face in the black aura enveloping her.  

 

"What was it like back then?"  

 

A hundred years ago, she also liked the shadows.  

 

-Rohwa, come sit here.  

 

Just recalling the shadows brought back memories of resting under the shade of a tree with Gion.  

 

"......"  

 

Rohwa closed her eyes.  

 

Fleeting.  

 

What's the point of dwelling on old memories alone?  

 

She just wanted to fall asleep quietly, without feeling the passage of time.  

 

Rohwa slowly closed her eyes.  

 

"...Huh?"  

 

A sliver of light punctured the veil of shadow. 

 

Rohwa sat up and dispersed the shadow.  

 

There, beside the pond where she had succumbed to sleep, Rohwa found herself seated. 

 

"... It's late at night; you could have come when it's bright tomorrow."  

 

Gion's figure appeared above the pond.  

 

"......"  

 

Gion silently knelt down.  

 

Clink.  

 

A metal badge, blackened, hung on a charred string.  

 

"I've captured the Seventh Chime."  

 

Gion presented the Seventh Chime's possession as proof of his capture. Still, Rohwa showed no change in expression, as indifferent as someone looking at an apple falling from a tree.  

 

When Rohwa saw the moon reflected in the pond, a crack appeared in her expression.  

 

"...Quite fast, aren't you?"  

 

Rohwa chuckled.  

 

Being in the shadows, she had no sense of time, but the unchanged shape of the moon told her.  

 

Gion had captured the Seventh Chime in just one night.  

 

In front of Rohwa, for the glory of the White Flower Kingdom, he took lives so easily, isolated the young princess, and burdened her with the White Flower Kingdom.  

 

Now, with the glory of White Flower Kingdom in Gion's hands, he returned, tenaciously clinging to life.  

 

"...Why go to such lengths?"  

 

Does he know his flesh is torn and his blood is flowing? It was clear he came straight to White Dragon Castle without seeking any treatment.  

 

Rohwa stood up and picked up the badge.  

 

The charred aura of fire belonged to Juya.  

 

"You..."  

 

Rohwa, fully awake now, opened her eyes wide.  

 

"Did you use Juya to capture the Seventh Chime?"  

 

Gion said nothing, but his silence was answer enough.  

 

The corners of Rohwa's mouth trembled slightly as they rose.  

 

"... You're quite something, aren't you?"  

 

"I've captured the Seventh Chime."  

 

With his head bowed, Gion just recited the commands he had carried out.  

 

But Rohwa only looked at the scorched marks on the badge.  

 

"How is Juya?"  

 

"......"  

 

What is love, anyway?  

 

Juya never said such things.  

 

She just embraced Gon, gradually turning to ash and disappearing, and breathed.  

 

Until the pus hardened and turned dark, and the warmth vanished from the tattered flesh.  

 

She just sat there quietly, continually stroking Gon's hair.  

 

By the time the sun set, Gon had completely dissipated.  

 

Juya sat there for a long time, quietly watching Gon's remnants scatter in the air.  

 

The night sky turned coldly dark.  

 

The crescent moon shone down on the devastated tribe.  

 

Until then, Juya remained seated, enveloped in the scent of death left by Gon, motionless.  

 

Despite being wet and cold, she didn't shiver. She just sat there vacantly.  

 

Beside Juya, Gion stood without any movement.  

 

"...Thank you."  

 

A single phrase broke the silence that had lasted more than half a day.  

 

At those words, Gion had no choice but to take a breath.  

 

"The expression of someone who has just killed a loved one."  

 

Juya stood up, staggering but not falling.  

 

Her eyes, swollen from tears, held a faint but definite light as she looked at Gion.  

 

Gion's pale face, blood has stopped flowing.  

 

Skin torn in places just as the blade of his sword.  

 

Lips turned purple, maintaining silence.  

 

The eerie figure covered in the dark traces of the bloody battle...  

 

Juya carefully observed and then spoke.  

 

"It's not that I don't hate you. I just think I should thank you for allowing me at least a final farewell."  

 

It's said that one who knows love knows resentment too.  

 

But seeing Juya standing steadfastly, it was evident that love could even overshadow that resentment.  

 

Juya responded as if understanding what Gion was thinking.  

 

"I told you I was valuable."  

 

"......"  

 

"This is what love should be."  

 

Juya, holding Gon's scent, handed something over.  

 

With a clinking sound, a badge fell into Gion's hand.  

 

"Go to the princess."  

 

Juya's fingertips, which briefly brushed past, trembled faintly, but her voice was firm.  

 

The badge, filled with memories of Gon and Jooya, was placed in Gion's lifeless hand.  

 

"... There's a place in Buksan where you can stay."  

 

What Gion had prepared through Hoyeong was a place for Juya to stay.  

 

Because it was impossible to live in the devastated tribal land turned to ashes.  

 

But Juya shook her head.  

 

"I will stay here."  

 

Juya looked at the desolate tribal land, even in the moonlight.  

 

"I burnt it, so it's only right that I restore it."  

 

There were no mentions of the Seventh Chime, Gon, Gion, or resentment in her words.  

 

There was only Juya.  

 

"......"  

 

He had thought Juya was completely broken.  

 

But no matter how shattered, a certain solidity remained.  

 

Like a blade doesn't lose its strength when broken.  

 

Juya was that kind of person.  

 

"Is everything over now?"  

 

"...Yes."  

 

Without shaking off whatever clung to her body, Juya moved on.  

 

"Let's not meet again."  

 

"......"  

 

"Take care."  

 

Carrying everything within, Juya walked deeper into the tribal land.  

 

Until her figure disappeared, Gion and Hoyeong maintained their silence.  

 

To Rohwa, Juya was the person who made her want to understand what love was.  

 

A poignant question that broadened her perspective of the world.  

 

Rohwa was someone who contributed to shattering Juya's love.  

 

"......"  

 

Gion's story about Juya had ended.  

 

But Rohwa, quietly staring at the rippling pond, said nothing.  

 

Chewing her lip, running her hands through her hair, and slowly opening and closing her eyes, she finally murmured emptily with a detached face.  

 

"We really have committed many sins..."  

 

Memories flashed by, prompting those words.  

 

No memory was dispensable.  

 

Drawn violently into the past, too vivid and almost cruel.  

 

"Nothing will happen."  

 

With Gion's words, Rohwa was pulled from the past back to the present.  

 

Though the words might have seemed like the warmest comfort, Gion's expression was chillingly cold.  

 

The dissonance between his words and expression brought Rohwa back to her senses.  

 

"......"  

 

Was it even appropriate to use 'we' in this situation?  

 

There's no more 'we'. Just Rohwa, Gion, Juya.  

 

Individuals, nothing more.  

 

Smirk  

 

Rohwa let out a sardonic laugh and rose to her feet.  

 

A look of indescribable rage swirled in Rohwa's eyes as he gazed down at Gion, still kneeling.  

 

"The night is late. Stay at White Dragon Castle tonight."  

 

Leaving Gion behind, Rohwa added,  

 

"I have something to show you in the morning."  

 

***  

 

"Did you say nothing will happen?"  

 

In the White Dragon Castle, basking in the morning sun.  

 

Rohwa questioned Gion on the desolate White Flower Path.  

 

"Look at it properly. Then speak."  

 

"......"  

 

"Can you still say nothing will happen?"  

 

Gion was left speechless.  

 

The scenery sparkled in the bright sunlight. As if nothing had happened, many were peacefully spending their time in White Dragon Castle. Sweeping the yard, maintaining the garden, enjoying the pond, drawing water from the well...  

 

"Did we have to go this far?"  

 

It was a beautiful sight, but Gion's expression was devastatingly hardened.  

 

They were all people Gion knew.  

 

The peaceful scene unfolded before him, but all he could feel was a sense of dissonance.  

 

A human's life barely lasts a hundred years.  

 

But now, over a hundred years later, those who were seen a century ago still stand at the White Dragon Castle as if it were just yesterday.  

 

Unaged and unchanged in appearance.  

 

They live against the natural order of the human lifespan.  

 

In other words,  

 

They are not human.  

 

Then, there's only one answer.  

 

"There must have been a reason for going to such lengths."  

 

"..."  

 

"Was there no other way than turning humans into demons?"  

 

Gion's expression was obscured by his jet-black hair and not properly visible.  

 

However, Rohwa, looking precisely at Gion's profile, said,  

 

"Speak up, Gion."  

 

"..."  

 

"You claimed nothing significant would happen. Do you even understand the implications of your reckless words?"  

 

Although Gion's expression was hidden in the backlight, Rohwa pinned down the darkness.  

 

"Such trivial consolation could only come from ignorance."  

 

Gion hung his head listlessly.  

 

Rohwa stepped forward towards him.  

 

Now, how will you react?  

 

Will you choke me with your blunt hand like when you first woke up?  

 

Even if you do, it wouldn't be too bad to see those black eyes consumed by rage.  

 

That's what Rohwa was thinking at the moment.  

 

Gion slowly lifted his head. The bright sunlight shone on Rohwa's red eyes, causing her to involuntarily frown. Gion's face, shadowed until now, started to become clearly visible.  

 

"...Ha."  

 

Rohwa couldn't help but let out a hollow laugh.  

 

Indeed.  

 

"You must have made a lot of effort."  

 

Gion, muttering in a low voice, had eyes not vague but distinctly clear.  

 

As if excluding all emotions and accepting the situation only objectively.  

 

"You... even deem it wasteful to be angry with me?"  

 

Despite Rohwa's words, Giyon simply looked at those living their peaceful everyday lives.  

 

"Does being angry change anything?"  

 

There wasn't a hint of anger in Gion's tone.  

 

Rohwa knew precisely what that meant.  

 

Harboring negative emotions towards the enemy doesn't benefit us. The enemy is merely an opponent to be confronted, nothing more.  

 

Gion's past words flashed through Rohwa's mind.  

 

"Do you think you should treat me solely as an enemy for their sake?"  

 

"..."  

 

"Is assessing the situation objectively without getting angry your way of honoring them?"  

 

Gion, while keeping his head turned towards them, glanced at Rohwa from the corner of his eyes.  

 

"It's just one more thing to do."  

 

"..."  

 

"When it's time to restore the White Flower Kingdom to its rightful place, it will also be time to put them back where they belong."  

 

A brief silence followed.  

 

Rohwa continued to frown in the sunlight but never closed her eyes.  

 

She just nonchalantly turned her back to the sunlight, seemingly losing interest.  

 

"Since you've seen all there is to see, get moving."  

 

Whoosh-  

 

The darkness spread with the wind, and amidst it, a light flickered.  

 

Swoosh.  

 

The fragment of light seeped into Gion's core.  

 

"..."  

 

The pit of his stomach felt hot. His insides seemed to twist, causing him to involuntarily bend over. Sweat formed on his brow, and breathing became difficult, giving him a headache. Yet, Gion stood his ground without a hint of wavering.  

 

"... There are six more left. Bring the next one."  

 

Rohwa immediately vanished into the shadows, leaving no trace or footstep, as if she was never there.  

 

And Gion stood there quietly, looking at the people breathing in the White Dragon Castle.  

 

Absorbing the fragment of light, enduring the whirlwind of pain in his core, was not what mattered most.  

 

He had to take it all in.  

 

They must never be forgotten.  

 

They say glory and downfall are opposites, but Gion's downfall is essential within the glory of the White Flower Kingdom.  

 

Such hollow, false glory is unnecessary.  

 

While working to restore the White Flower Kingdom, he must recall this scene whenever he feels exhausted.  

 

He must always remember.  

 

Thud.  

 

Gion took a step towards them. His shadow stretched long and wavered in the sunlight.  

 

Gion paused and then spoke.  

 

"It's been a while."  

 

The shadow swiftly vanished at Gion's words.  

 

"Since you were lost in thought, I waited on purpose... Did you know I was here?"  

 

"How could I forget your presence?"  

 

As Gion turned, the sunlight brightened his vision.  

 

"This too must be your doing, so I figured you'd be here."  

 

At Gion's words, a woman smiled.  

 

A woman with purple hair tied high.  

 

Doa, the chieftain of the Black Tribe, stood here in the same appearance as a hundred years ago.  




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