Episode 93

This Is Hell
1 week ago
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“I have just found a suitable place for training, so come to the northern exit in a few days.”

“Are we going outside the empire for training?”

“Don’t worry about danger right now. Since it’s near a major excavation site in the empire, we can get help from the garrison if necessary.”

A week had passed since the chaos with Pheloi settled down.

I saw the proposal that had been directed at me immediately afterward as a crucial opportunity that I must seize.

More than pondering why I ended up in this world, I often wondered why I hadn’t obtained the strength befitting a hero…

No matter how much I wrestled with these thoughts, reality stubbornly refused to conform to my desires, making me feel even more powerless.

“But, are you two also going to accompany me on my training journey?”

“Haha, I was originally a wanderer without much to do… So, I thought it might be good to help Hyo-sung with his training this time.”

But when the day of the promise came, the two who had explained the situation came belatedly, following me to the northern checkpoint.

Among them, Merilyn, with her characteristic bright smile, was actively expressing her desire to join me on the journey.

“Thank you for your concern, but you don’t need to worry too much. This is my personal matter, so Merilyn, you could just rest at home until I return…”

“It’s okay. Helping Hyo-sung is also for my sake.”

Yes, her return to the empire was indeed because of me.

She had abandoned even the mission she had clung to with her life, but ignoring her kindness under the pretense of consideration would be a disservice, wouldn’t it?

“No, still…”

But even after encountering her, it was already clear what my heart felt.

Since there was someone else who should naturally come first, I had to be careful about my relationship with Merilyn.

“…Uh, are you okay with this, Airi?”

“Yes, the Haven Clan I belong to were originally wanderers. I have some expertise in traveling, so you don’t have to worry about me holding you back.”

“No, I mean…”

She might be behaving courteously now, but wasn’t she the one who had frequent friction with Merilyn until just recently?

Although they had less friction while living together, focusing on their personal matters, I still couldn’t help feeling uneasy, remembering their hostility back then.

Worried that they might fight again because of me, and that such a fight might annoy the person overseeing my training.

Chuckle. Young man, you’re holding flowers in both hands early in the morning.”

Just as I was worrying, a familiar voice gradually approached.

Turning my gaze there, I saw an old man with a familiar face, tapping the ground with his staff, approaching.

Jang, who acted as the alley boss on the workshop street.

He was the person who had agreed to guide me on this training journey.

“Ah, well, I can understand personal reasons, but I can’t exactly approve of you mingling with women right from the first day of your training, can I?”

“Well, about that, you see…”

“Jang Cleo from Britannia, is that correct?”

As I was wondering how to explain, Airi left my side and approached Jang.

What she uttered was a full name, unknown even to me, who had formed a connection with Jang before her.

“…I haven’t made a name for myself that would be known to others, though.”

“Rest assured. As a fortune teller, I merely have the talent to discern the past of those I encounter. I haven’t specifically investigated your identity or anything.”

“A fortune teller, eh? That’s a profession that, contrary to appearances, is quite good at arousing suspicion.”

Jang showed deep suspicion in response to the explanation meant to be convincing.

No matter how close to absolute Airi’s prophecies might be, the profession of a fortune teller itself was not easily trusted, so his current wariness was understandable.

“…For now, please read this note.”

But Airi, as if expecting such a reaction, nonchalantly brushed it off and handed over a note.

Jang, skeptical yet ultimately examining the note, soon stiffened his breath and turned back to look at Airi.

“Is what’s written in this note true?”

“I can’t say it’s absolute… but if no variables occur, it’s highly likely that the future will unfold as written.”

“It feels unsatisfactory to write such things and then create a loophole to escape.”

“On the contrary, it would be less believable if she boasted of being able to predict the future of someone of her stature. That’s something you, who have watched over her for more than half a lifetime, would know better, right?”

Airi maintained a serious demeanor despite the suspicion directed at her.

Jang, facing her sharp eyes under the hood, soon relaxed his expression and tucked the note she gave him into his pocket.

“…I see, so she has made up her mind as well.”

It was as if he had accepted something I was unaware of, convincing him of the circumstances.

“Good. I’ll accept help from these girls. I’ll drive the carriage to the training site, so you two get in the luggage compartment.”

With Jang’s decision to accept the joining of the two, he soon pointed to the carriage he had prepared nearby and began to move forward.

His acceptance was so cheerful that it made his initial wariness seem irrelevant.

As someone who couldn’t be considered an outsider, I couldn’t help but be concerned about his sudden change in attitude.

“Boss, are you sure this is okay?”

“Of course, it’s fine. If what’s written in the note is true, bringing the two ladies along might even accelerate your growth.”

Jang answered nonchalantly to my worried question.

Afterwards, looking back at me, his face showed a sense of relief that made his previous wariness seem irrelevant.

“You really are a blessed friend.”

His following words echoed the same sentiment.

“Huh?”

“I said a blessed friend. Isn’t it rare to see two beauties like them accompanying you on your training journey?”

Chortling heartily, Jang prepared to seat his aged body in the driver’s seat.

Although I sensed him covering up his reaction to the note, I decided not to pry further, considering he had his reasons.

Instead, just as he said, having both of them together might be helpful for my training.

“…Excuse me, Boss.”

But even that was something to consider after starting the training.

Before heading to the training site, I had to face the issue with the transportation he had arranged, looking at him with unease.

“What is it this time, young man?”

“Isn’t the carriage too cramped?”

“Ah well, I had to quickly find a mode of transport, and it’s already loaded with quite a lot of cargo from a request I accepted from a trading company. But there’s still enough space for one person…”

Ah, yes. It would be spacious enough if it were just me.

But haven’t two people just joined to help with the training?


Regardless, the carriage set off under Jang’s driving.

As it clattered into the unpaved road, my arms, squeezed into the cramped luggage space, began to be tugged back and forth by two people.

“Hyo-sung, come closer to me.”

“No, come closer to me~”

“Hey, you two. Just calm down first…”

It was a situation reminiscent of the conflicts we had faced while living together.

But perhaps because it was taking place in an even more cramped space than at home?

As they jockeyed for position over me, there was a fiery intensity in both their eyes, as if sparks were flying.

“Merilyn, you don’t have to push yourself too hard.”

“Haha, I appreciate your consideration, but you don’t have to worry too much. At least, there should be more room than where Airi is.”

“More room? What do you mean? It looks like there’s more luggage on your side at first glance…”

“Hahaha~ This is spacious for me. Of course, in Airi’s case, she might find it a bit cramped since she’s broader than me.”

Crack.

The sound of flesh being pinched echoed.

It came from Airi’s side.

“…Broader? What do you mean by that?”

“No, wait, I misspoke. I mean… not broader, but maybe… is it more flesh? Or fat?”

“Haha, you’re worried about my weight? I never thought Merilyn would worry about such things, especially since you eat three times as much as Hyo-sung or me during meals!”

“Well, that’s because the food Hyo-sung makes is so delicious~ Maybe Airi eats less because she doesn’t find it as tasty?”

“Eating a lot isn’t necessarily a good thing. Do you even realize how much of a burden you’re putting on Hyo-sung by having him make extra food for you?”

“Hey, both of you, please calm down…”

“Never mind that. Hyo-sung, come over here!”

“No, come to my side!!”

Soon, the two of them were raising their voices and repeatedly tugging at me.

I wanted to side with one of them, but understanding both their feelings made it hard to easily accept either side.

Airi, due to our positions, could not actively advance our relationship, but she already felt that our hearts were in agreement.

And I knew that Merilyn, having given up everything for me, did not feel lightly about me.

“Please tell us clearly, Hyo-sung.”

“Is it me or Airi?”

And such disputes continued beyond the carriage ride, even to the first campsite before reaching our destination.

Unfortunately, as the training was planned for two, there were only two tents available, leading to a situation where four of us had to share them.

We faced difficulties with the carriage and couldn’t reach the safe zone as planned, necessitating one person to stand guard during the night.

I wanted to take the night watch myself, but even that option was completely blocked by Jang, who had brought us this far.

“Don’t worry too much about the night watch. At my age, I don’t sleep much, so I won’t be resting long in the tent anyway.”

“What? No, if it’s the night watch, I should…”

“Haha, you’ll have a hard time once the training starts, so there’s no need to exert yourself now. And we can’t make young ladies endure hardship, so rest easy tonight.”

No, Boss. That’s not the issue here!

But regardless of my internal outcry, he had already left the campsite to look around.

I wanted to go after him, but my clothes were already grasped by Airi and Merilyn.

“Hyo-sung, you don’t have to think too much about it.”

In such a situation, Airi closed the distance between us and said,

“We’ve already spent several nights together, haven’t we? So, sleeping in the same tent now isn’t strange, right?”

Even though we sometimes spent a day together after forming our relationship, it was always done with serious consideration.

So, sharing an unplanned bed like this required a lot of courage in many ways.

Indeed, Airi, insisting on sleeping in the same tent, realized what she was saying, and her face turned red, didn’t it?

“Hyo-sung.”

In contrast, Merilyn was smiling brightly, in stark contrast to Airi.

Her subsequent words showed no shame at all about the prospect of sharing a bed with the opposite sex.

“We’ll just hold hands and sleep, okay?”

“…No, but.”

“Ah, come on~ Why make it so complicated? If something happens, we just go with what our hearts desire~”

…Right, Merilyn had always been this kind of person.

Being so free-spirited in such matters, it was possible that boundaries could be crossed.

Like the things I did with Airi, or perhaps other things.

“Hyo-sung, what are you thinking about right now?”

Airi sharply shot back, as if seeing through my inner thoughts.

Feeling hit right on the mark, I stiffened, and Airi looked at me with uncertain eyes, her lips quivering.

“Could it be… you’re choosing Merilyn here?”

“No, well…”

“Were all the words we shared together all lies?”

Her eyes were growing moist, and her hands were trembling.

Amidst the tension that felt like it could burst with the slightest provocation, I felt a soft touch enveloping me from behind.

“Yes, that’s right, Hyo-sung and Airi have that kind of relationship.”

Merilyn Sutherland.

The woman whose feelings I once rejected, yet she couldn’t shake off her feelings for me.

“Still, Hyo-sung. You do know that I gave up a lot for you, right?”

“Yes, I know, but…”

“Then, just for one night, just for tonight, we can lie down in the same place.”

The more I heard her soft yet bitter voice, the drier my throat became.

Struggling with frustration, I forcibly swallowed and blurted out the best option that came to mind in front of the two of them.

“So, how about the two of you sleeping together….?”

Well, in this situation, this must be the best option.

I thought it would be fine since they were of the same gender. There was no need to worry about chastity.

“…Hyo-sung, are you serious about that?”

“No matter what, Hyo-sung, I can’t look kindly upon that.”

Damn, the atmosphere became even more tense than before.

Just how much did these two dislike each other?

“Um, that..”

But with this option sealed, my only remaining choice was to sleep with one of them.

Doing so would leave one person out, and that could lead to trouble in our relationship later.

I hated that idea. Both were people who cared for me, and yet I must betray one of them.

“Hyo-sung, please tell me clearly.”

“Is it me? Or is it Merilyn?”

The two of them kept pushing without considering my situation.

Feeling so frustrated that I lost my rationality, I reached out to the two of them as my mind went blank.

“Kyah?!”

“Hyo-Hyosung? What the…?”

Damn, let whatever happens, happen.

I pushed the two of them into the tent and answered.

“The three of us will sleep together.”

Well, it was just sleeping. What could be the problem?

Just sleep, wake up refreshed in the morning, and pretend nothing happened.

Wasn’t it a really simple solution?


Yes, that’s right.

I used to think the same way.

“Mm-hmm. Hmm…”

“Haaah… Mm.”

Late at night.

In the silence, even the chirping of birds and the cries of insects had ceased, I lay awake, forgetting my fatigue, eyes wide open, focusing all my attention on my ears.

The soft breathing sounds from both sides felt unusually clear to me today.

“Haa… Hyo-sung…”

At that sound, I unconsciously turned my gaze and began to see the figure of Airi in a precarious outfit.

Dressed in just a thin nightgown, prepared for comfortable sleep, unlike her usual tightly wrapped attire, she appeared defenseless.

“Hyo-sung… that place, it’s embarrassing…♡”

An impulse surged in me the moment my name was associated with such unconscious eros.

I held my breath and endured it, hastily turning my head to the other side, but there, another trial was facing me.

A little devil in defenseless attire, cloaked only in black fabric that enhanced her allure.

“Aaahh… Hyo-sung.”

“Don’t touch there. Uh, mmm…♥”

Were those whispers from her mouth expressing the dream she was having?

What kind of dream was she having that included my name and made her breathe and smile so suggestively?

“…Just send me to hell.”

Yes, this is hell.

Having to choose between two such lovely people.

If this isn’t hell, then what is?

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