It was a good thing he had time to spare. Sieg thought that while walking. It had been difficult to even vaguely think of something while walking with a body that previously would become exhausted and feel pain just by taking steps.
Since the Bounded Field was functioning, the forest remained silent as usual. There were no signs of any living creatures. He’d already gained considerable distance from the fortress. Even if the Yggdmillennia knew vaguely where he was within the Boundary Field, they wouldn’t go to the extent of expressly chasing after him.
When he had nearly climbed halfway up the mountain, the light voices of birds started to leak out. That meant the Bounded Field that drove away living creatures didn’t function here. It was still gloomy due to the large trees clustered around each other, but it appeared that dawn would arrive soon. Through that, he calculated that he’d been walking for several hours, but his body still showed no signs of being tired. Even though his clothing was too thin and sparse for mountain climbing in the late fall, he didn’t even feel chilly.
Even if he had become healthier now, this was still a bit abnormal. Sieg conjectured that it was most likely due to the power of Saber of Black, Siegfried’s heart.
…He wanted more concerns to think about, so that he could surrender his mind to complicated and mysterious equations. If he did that, he could escape, even if only slightly, the unidentified haze that had been coiling through his mind since earlier which still hadn’t gone away.
His progress was still slow, but even so—as he kept going forward, a road appeared before he had noticed it.
Crossing over the mountain, Sieg sighted a village too small to be called a town far below. Unlike Trifas, the influence of the Yggdmillennia magi shouldn’t reach here.
It probably wouldn’t even take him a day to take control of the villagers’ minds through suggestion. In other words, he could obtain a peaceful and ordinary life in that village. Or he could also use it as a stepping stone to go to another town or even another country.
So if he took this single step forward, that life would begin the moment he did so. He would be able to live, obtain something, or find a wish for himself.
Being able to live such a life was called—[freedom].
It was wonderful. It was full of good things. No matter what may happen, there was nothing as bad as his previous life, and if he could change things for the better, he just needed to take this first step forward.
For the sake of this single step, a hero had given him his life. Another hero had healed him. And another hero still had walked alongside him.
It was all for the sake of this single step.
But why? Why did his feet refuse to take that step forward?
He sighed. He couldn’t seem to shake off the haze in his mind. Did living as a human being mean that this haziness would accompany him for his entire life?
Regardless, he somehow managed to raise his foot forward and—
He frantically looked over his shoulder in response to the voice that restrained him, which was followed by a noise. The noise just now was definitely not natural. It was the sound of something heavy falling down.
Was it a pursuer? But there was no sign of magecraft being used, and he didn’t sense the enormous prana of a Servant. Although he hesitated slightly, Sieg decided that it should be fine to at least see the owner of the voice, and so he turned back.
He broke off a bit from the mountain path and pushed through the forest. I think the sound came from around here, he thought as he looked around—and found it.
In that instant, his soul was snatched away.
He couldn’t even let out a sigh of wonder. He just looked at the girl who was leaning her body against a tall tree as she crouched in exhaustion.
Illuminated by the faint light of daybreak that leaked through the gaps between the trees, her slightly swaying hair shone like golden silk threads. Her amethyst-colored eyes were completely pure as they looked at him, rousing an unnecessary feeling of guilt in Sieg.
She didn’t have the precise and molded beauty of a homunculus, or the kind of cuteness that made one’s heart flutter just by being nearby like Rider. She possessed a wondrous beauty that scarcely felt real.
The girl’s body was clad in armor—she was unmistakably a Servant. Regardless of whether she was with the Black or Red camp, she ought to be someone that he shouldn’t become involved with.
If asked whether she was an enemy or an ally, he would definitely conclude that she was an enemy. And yet, the thought of getting away from her was far from his mind.
Was it like having one’s eyes enraptured by a work of art? Without realizing it, Sieg had stepped over to the girl’s side. The instant he tried to touch his hand to the girl’s cheek as she leaned over, the sword hanging on his waist made a clinking sound as if to warn him.
They both remained silent. Meeting her gaze, Sieg’s mind was in chaos. Now that he thought about it properly, what had he been about to do?
Extending his hand to touch a girl crouching down was an extremely vulgar act. Just as he was about to hurriedly pull back his hand, the girl suddenly grasped his hand with her own.
“Thank goodness… I managed to meet you!”
The instant the girl smiled and said that, Sieg thought to himself: Even if this girl was his enemy—or even if she cut off his head right here. Just being able to have seen that smiling face left him with no regrets.