Azar drew his sword at the careless man who was blatantly making noise. Intimidated by the sword pointed at his neck, the unfamiliar man abruptly knelt down and began begging for his life. Azar withdrew his sword at that reaction. However, when the man noticed the accessory held in Azar’s hand and began trembling strangely, Azar had no choice but to grab the man and interrogate him. Because, as it happened, the clothes the man was wearing had the exact same pattern embroidered on them as the one engraved on the accessory.

    The man, terrified, confessed readily. He said he was an executive of a certain merchant group and had been present at the scene when the group leader killed someone the night before last, and on the group leader’s orders, he had personally handled the corpse. He confessed smoothly that he had lost the token he was carrying and only noticed it this morning, so he had come to search in case he had dropped it here, but was caught by Azar. After giving the man, who looked weak and timid at a glance, a pitiful look, Azar told him to lead the way. If what he said was true, that group leader had to be duly punished. Because in the Shekira Kingdom, even if a noble harmed a commoner, they would receive punishment.

    Thus, they informed Remberton, who had returned after delivering the news to the child, of this fact and went to meet the group leader. At this time, Remberton, flaunting his family name as the second son of the Barcella Marquis family, stormed into the merchant group with knights. Of course, the group leader denied it as a false accusation, but there was already one person who had confessed, and there were several witnesses, so the group leader’s words lost credibility.

    Because it was an incident that occurred in the territory owned by the Barcella Marquis family, and Remberton, the second son of Barcella, was present at the scene, this incident was quickly concluded, and through subsequent investigations, the group leader’s misdeeds that he had committed were revealed to the world.

    The trust that the merchant group had valued the most until then fell to the ground, and the charges against the group leader piled up and became even heavier. The child left alone was taken in as a servant at the Barcella Marquis family’s villa, and thus, Azar’s party returned to the academy as the break ended. Afterward, the incident came to a close as the group leader, who had been locked up in prison awaiting judgment, committed suicide.

    …It would have been good if it had ended like that. If they hadn’t known the hidden inside story of this incident, it would have remained as an ideal story of a protagonist who delivered justice to the evil.

    However, the truth was different. After Azar’s party left for the academy, there was a man who took over the collapsed merchant group. He was none other than the man who had reported the group leader’s crime to Azar. And he was also the mastermind who had orchestrated this whole affair. The man, who was the real culprit behind the various misdeeds the group leader had been framed for, had been serving as the right-hand man of the group leader as an executive of that merchant group. He had been waiting for an opportunity to seize the merchant group. When the number of people in the group he had steadily won over for a long time exceeded half, the culprit executed his plan.

    As things were proceeding according to plan that day, fortunately, Azar’s party got involved. With unexpected help, everything unfolded according to the culprit’s plan. If the group leader had survived till the end, it would have been clarified somehow, even if it took a long time, but there was no way the culprit would let the group leader live. So it was inevitable that the group leader’s daughter, who had accidentally learned the truth of the incident, harbored resentment towards the protagonist’s party. Afterward, the group leader’s daughter, in order to take revenge, deliberately approached the protagonist’s party while hiding her identity and became their companion. That’s right. She was none other than the mage Azar’s party would recruit in the future.

    Although the truth was revealed much later after gaining their trust like that, by then, it was already too late for everything. Azar’s party had graduated from the academy and was on a journey after receiving a prophecy from the temple, and the group leader’s daughter’s life had already been distorted beyond repair long ago. The daughter, who had dealt with those who had betrayed her own merchant group and her father before coming to find Azar, had already reached a point of no return.

    Azar was greatly shocked when he learned the truth. So he accepted the resentment poured on him without avoiding it. Due to that, a severe injury that could not be healed even with divine power was left on his body, and moreover, as the group leader’s daughter committed suicide in front of Azar’s eyes, an indelible sense of guilt was deeply engraved in Azar’s mind and heart.

    He had believed that everything he did was always righteous and upright.

    However, the fact that a person’s life was completely ruined due to a misjudgment he had made in his youth came as too great a shock to him. Therefore, Azar lost his mind starting from this incident. His sanity, which had already been wearing thin due to the arduous adventure he had embarked on to seal the dungeon, reached its limit at that moment.

    Azar collapsed.

    For a while, he lived in seclusion and sometimes engaged in self-harm, harshly driving himself.

    …This was the story of Azar in the original work that Nathan remembered. Nathan’s heart always ached whenever he read that part. Of course, this was also part of the trials for the protagonist’s growth, so Azar would rise again. But did he really have to go through such a thing? While ruining someone else’s life just for his growth?

    Nathan’s question began from there.

    Every protagonist in a story goes through all sorts of trials for growth, but it was inevitable that innocent victims would be created as a result. In this case, it was the child’s brother, the group leader, and the group leader’s daughter. Did they really have to die? Nathan’s opinion differed. Azar could sufficiently grow in other ways.

    ‘So I hope Azar doesn’t experience such a thing.’

    Nathan was the only one who knew this ominous future that lay ahead. So Nathan was also the only one who could change the future. To do that, first…

    “…I need to go to the village.”

    Nathan stopped stirring the cold soup with a hardened surface and put the spoon down. He hadn’t even eaten half of the food Basent had brought, but he pushed it away, not wanting to put it in his mouth anymore. The chair made a creaking sound as it was pulled back. As Nathan leaned his body against the backrest, his head automatically drooped. Blankly looking at the slightly yellowish high ceiling, Nathan became lost in thought.

    He couldn’t remember most of the minor details of the original work. He only remembered the major contents sparsely. So while he vaguely remembered that the incident would occur here, he couldn’t accurately recall exactly when and where it happened, or when and where they met that child, or what the name of that merchant group was. So it seemed best to go to the village and check as soon as possible.

    However, he wasn’t sure if he could even go out today in this body. What if he rested today and went out tomorrow? What if the accident happened today? Then wouldn’t it be too late? He had to go without being late, so the child’s brother wouldn’t die and the incident wouldn’t occur.

    “…It can’t be that the incident has already happened, right?”

    Suddenly, an ominous assumption flashed through his mind. Didn’t Remberton shout at Azar as soon as he saw him yesterday that he was later than planned? Could it be…? Nathan became anxious that the incident might have been twisted before it even began because of him. When did the village festival start? No, he had to find out about the weather first. Had it rained?

    Nathan abruptly stood up from his seat. Due to suddenly standing up, dizziness hit him and his vision momentarily blurred, but Nathan staggered towards the door. I need to ask Basent. Once he had an ominous assumption, he couldn’t sit still and organize his thoughts. Nathan flung the door open.

    “Huh?”

    “…!”

    Large, light sky-blue eyes resembling the surface of a tranquil lake looked up at Nathan in surprise. His clenched fist was frozen in mid-air as if he was just about to knock on the door. So Nathan had no choice but to stop at the doorway.

    “Wow! I was just about to knock on the door! How did you know?”

    A boy with soft, cotton candy-like cherry blossom-colored hair burst into laughter and asked. The boy had a very cute and adorable appearance, with a height a head and a half shorter than Nathan. Through the soft-looking hair, pointed ears peeked out slightly.

    “Hello! You’re the kid Azar brought, right? Nice to meet you!”

    The boy chattered continuously, but it didn’t properly register in Nathan’s ears. Because Nathan’s thoughts had completely stopped due to the boy’s sudden appearance. Why is he here?

    “Um, are you listening?”

    Only when fair white fingers waved in front of Nathan’s eyes did he startle with a jolt and slowly nod his head.

    “Why are you here…?”

    “Huh? Why did I come? To greet you in advance! You see, when I asked Laya and Remberton, they said you two were already acquainted! I’m the only one meeting you for the first time, you know?! What’s with that? Then wouldn’t I be the only one feeling awkward at lunchtime later! So I came to introduce myself beforehand! I asked Basent about your room! He said you were having breakfast, so I thought you’d be done eating by now! Did you finish eating?”

    The boy tilted his head, smiling sweetly. He chattered incessantly, asking questions, so Nathan had no presence of mind. Even so, Nathan nodded his head, conveying affirmation.

    “But where were you going?”

    “…To ask Basent something.”

    “About what? If it’s something I can tell you, feel free to ask me! I’ve been at this villa since the break started!”

    As the boy stepped closer, Nathan stepped back just as much. The boy was more burdensome than he had thought. But he couldn’t keep him standing at the door either, so Nathan had no choice but to let the boy into the room.

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