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Facing Annan’s calm rhetorical question, the gray demon said nothing.
He just sighed deeply.
The face on the other side which was always changing finally turned sad. It was sad just like His other side of the face that had been crying.
The next moment, the demon full of cracks finally crumbled into pieces.
Like gray petals, or perhaps like a moth.
The fragments that dissociated from it floated in the still air, forming a massive tornado… flying toward the distant horizon.
Under it, a white-haired youth was standing there with cracks all over his body.
He looked skinny.
Upon closer observation, he took on the appearance before he became the “Eternal Duke”.
This was a nightmare world built from everyone’s wishes.
This probably meant that Midas’s deepest wish now was to have never become the “Eternal Duke” back then.
“Can you let me speak to Elle?”
The white-haired youth opened his mouth and closed it again. He was silent for a long time before whispering.
Annan did not respond immediately but asked in his heart.
“What do you think, Elle?”
[…Let me see him off.]
Elle said softly.
Hearing this, Annan didn’t say another word and immediately closed his eyes.
If it were up to Annan, he wouldn’t have left the body just yet.
But now, Annan dispelled his ritual and handed the control of the body back to Elle.
His consciousness was instantly kicked back to the outside world — and then without saying a word, Annan returned to the nightmare through the perspective of the idle players watching the show.
But this time, what he was paying attention to was the world from another perspective.
Annan noticed that, from the perspective of the Longjing tea, he couldn’t see the rainbow glow spilling from the many wounds on young Midas at all. Midas’s injuries were like a void, swallowing the surrounding light, pure darkness like a starless night sky.
In other words, he couldn’t see the rainbow light representing Elle’s side at all. However, the gray light belonging to the Venerated Skeleton could be seen clearly.
What makes it happen that way?
“Atonement…” Young Midas repeated the name, with the corners of his mouth raised slightly.
He wanted to sneer, but in the end he couldn’t.
“Have you ever committed a crime?” Finally, he asked, “Angelo… no, even for Elle — what are you guilty of?
“You have never committed a crime from the beginning, so where is the atonement? You’re merely an infant, born less than half a year ago, who inherited the memories of a girl… Can someone like you even wield the [Atonement]?”
After Annan left, Elle’s temperament had obviously changed.
But faced with the pressing questions of young Midas, she showed not the slightest bit of fear.
“Yes, I want to atone.”
These were the first words Elle Angelo said after she regained her body.
Her voice was much softer than when Annan was controlling her.
But the willpower in those words made her words seem so convincing.
“Just now, I have made up my mind that the rest of my life will be a life of atonement.”
“What sin are you atoning for? What have you done wrong?”
“It’s your sin that I want to atone for.” Elle said softly, “My… father.”
That word, ‘father,’ left the white-haired young man frozen in shock.
But Elle—or rather Angelo instead became emboldened.
The more she spoke, the braver she got, and her eyes brightened with each word.“No matter what, you are still my father… Angelo’s father. Even if you refuse to acknowledge me, even if you only desire my body… you are still my father. You gave me life.”
“My mother is Elle, and my life and memories are inherited from ‘Elle’. I am another flower blooming on the branch named Elle. Of course, I remember Elle’s hatred for you… I also know that my birth is but the beginning of a tragedy, nothing more than a complete mistake.”
“But I believe, since my birth was already a mistake… I cannot afford to make more mistakes in my life.”
“I’ve also thought before, what’s the harm in offering my body to you? But Annan said… I’m not here to carry on someone else’s dream, nor am I an agent of another’s will. The child known as Elle is already dead… I’m not that child, I must bear the consequences of my own choices.”
“It was then that I realized… after you became the Betrayal Deity, you would only continue to make one mistake after another. I may be the beginning of the tragedy, but I’m not its conclusion. You will relive all the curses, pain, hatred, and nightmares you’ve experienced, inflicting them on others…”
“If I give up resistance. That will be my retribution — the price I pay for my wrong choices.”
Elle’s voice became powerful for the first time.
That was a completely different voice from Annan’s. Her right hand was clenched in front of her chest, and her pupils were shining.
The young Midas’s expression became complicated.
He opened his mouth, but no sound came out.
In the end, he closed his mouth in silence, waiting for Elle to continue speaking.
“[The sins of the father shall be paid by the child.]—yes, no one has forced me, nor has anyone commanded me. This is the debt I’ve chosen to shoulder voluntarily. I simply want… the tragedy that happened to me not to be [reenacted] on anyone else.”
“I will inherit the [Betrayal] truth and atone for all the crimes you have committed, father. I will watch over this world and hope that the tragedy that happened to you and me will never happen again.”
Elle looked directly at Midas and said firmly, “I will cut off the chain of all tragedies.”
Annan, who watched this scene through Longjing Tea’s eyes, also sighed deeply.
Some people, after suffering themselves, wanted to see others endure the same… That was somewhat understandable.
But there were also people who, having suffered themselves, hoped that others wouldn’t have to endure the same pain.
That was perhaps the biggest difference between Midas and Elle Angelo.
Under Midas’s gaze, and in front of everyone else, Elle Angelo recited her new oath, word for word.
“I will show mercy to all beings, care for the weak;”
“I will be fair and selfless, strictly adhering to the law;”
“I will always hold justice and love in my heart;”
“I will be the one to eradicate the most suffering, and also the one to create the greatest happiness.”
Midas, who until then had merely had a complex expression, only at this moment—his pupils sharply constricted.
The expression on his face turned to one of astonishment, shock, and sadness.
—That was the oath that he had given up in the past.
But now… Elle Angelo had regained this curse in her bloodline and turned it into a covenant.
—I’ll fulfill what you didn’t achieve back then.
In her pupils, this sentence was conveyed with utmost clarity.
Even Midas was shaken by her will and determination.
She would obtain a divine form, like an eternal flame, no longer burning out. This might perhaps be her greatest distinction from the Eternal Duke of the past.
Elle chanted, conveying this harsh covenant to everyone present.
Only then did Midas sigh deeply.
He closed his eyes slowly, as if in repose.
—In fact, he still had one last betrayal up his sleeve.
The curse that compelled him to kill all his offspring by his own hand had long been entwined deep within his soul… If he gave up on reincarnation, he could also invoke this curse, using the spiritual kinship between them, to forcibly execute Elle right there.
At that time, he and Elle would be reborn together somewhere in the world. The twin embodiments of good and evil would once again compete for the right to the [Atonement].
However, he eventually gave up this option.
Perhaps he recalled the weight of his father’s sword from years ago.
Maybe he felt that the warmth of the setting sun that day shouldn’t be so chillingly cold.
Or perhaps it was just a nearly five-hundred-year belated… further legacy of the once “Eternal Duke”.
“…To ensure that certain things are remembered, it’s worthwhile to give it my life.”
He thought to himself and closed his eyes.
The moment he gave up his qualifications for the truth, the world shattered.
The last word of Angelo’s covenant echoed in the air.
“I will spare no effort—”
—I’ll give it my all.
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