At the same time as the unfamiliar music played, Celine was knocked over into the air.
What she felt the moment she fell was pure fear. Just like… when she was trapped in the barrier by the warlock who kidnapped her.
Just like then, there were irresistible powers that were about to push her to death, but Celine soon came to her senses. She couldn’t just stand being afraid, just like back then, because she could use magic now.
Closing her eyes tightly, she wrapped magic all over her body. The wind spurred by her powerful magical powers hummed in her ears, slowing her descent.
She opened her eyes.
‘It’s the same from… what I saw in the game.’
They were obviously gigantic gears that could not exist in this world. In addition, they were rolling in perfect alignment, giving off green smoke. Celine glided slowly through the air, watching the scene, bewitched.
She didn’t even think of the danger or the need to stop. It was the only realistic-looking structure in this unreal world.
She scolded herself. Obviously, this was also a trick of the stage to deceive her into the dead ending.
Celine took a deep breath.
‘I have to stop that. That’s why I came all the way here.’
If she didn’t stop that, the reason for enduring that hellish rhythm game would disappear.
She looked closely at the cogs.
The player could stop the green smoke by throwing themselves between the cogs and getting crushed. Naturally, the first method she tried was magic.
She slowly approached the cogwheel that seemed to be the most central. Then, with the determination to die, she began to push the cogwheel in the reverse direction by squeezing the magic from her whole body.
At that moment, her head spun and her stomach churned.
Celine gasped for breath.
She felt as if she was walking on a thin line suspended in mid-air. It was only thanks to her magical power that she could float in the air now. She couldn’t even defy gravity, so slowing down was her limit. If she put too much magic into pushing this cog, she’d come crashing down at that moment.
A sudden, terrifying realization took her by surprise.
‘Even if there is magic, nothing will change.’
It was impossible to stop this structure with her magic. There was only one way to stop this cogwheel, and that was to sacrifice her life.
She let out a moan of her despair.
The fact that she was a powerful wizard, unlike the lead in the game, had no effect. So, it meant that she would never escape the terrifying options of this stage.
‘If I’d known it would be like this, I’d rather fall and die from the start.’
Dozens or hundreds of people may have died while she struggled with the rhythm game.
Celine took a deep breath. If this stage made her make this choice to that extent, the answer would be fixed.
‘I can’t waste any more time.’
She slowly approached the gap in the cogs.
Her body froze.
Clearly, someone’s voice came. Not Leonhard’s voice, but someone else’s.
“You’re Celine, right?”
Celine spat out a word in a tone of disbelief.
“Wait a minute, I’ll call the people!”
Rose’s voice came right in her ear.
Celine thought that it might be the delusion from the stage for a moment, but she immediately changed her mind.
‘I would be swayed more by Leonhard, why would they use Rose?’
It must be true when Rose said she was bringing people to help.
Celine doubted that things would be any different if Rose brought the wizards to help, but she didn’t throw her body right into the cogs to fix the problem. She didn’t even pointlessly pour magic into it to push the cog in reverse again. Rather, she was just trying to slow her fall as much as she could.
‘For now, I have no choice but to trust Rose.’
She really didn’t want to die. She hated it even more to throw her body into the cogs and have her whole body crushed to death. So, she waited even while she was sure that Rose wouldn’t be of much use to her.
After a while, she was now to the point where she couldn’t tell whether it was tears or sweat running down her face. It was the result of her desperate efforts to expend the minimum amount of magic, thinking that if Rose brought the wizards, she would have to join in as well as she could.
‘…I wonder if it was a delusion.’
If she has been tricked by the stage because of petty hopes…
It was Rose’s voice.
“Oh, don’t try to speak. We can’t hear your words. I’ll go up there at once.”
In her relief, her entire body went limp. After a while, dozens of people appeared through the green smoke on top of a giant metal structure. As soon as Celine climbed the structure, she stumbled and fell to her knees.
“Are you okay?”
Rose anxiously supported her.
“It seems so.”
“How did you get, here…”
“I felt Celine’s magic. It was because of this.”
Saying so, Rose pointed to the cog.
“There is green smoke coming out of them… to stop…”
“I understand even if you don’t tell me.”
Even though she tried to stand up on her wobbly legs, Rose immediately sat her on the floor.
“Stay still. We’ll take care of that now.”
“Aren’t you looking at us too incompetently?”
“Last time, Celine saved our lives. So this time, please give us a chance.”
Celine blinked her eyes, a little taken aback. It was true that she had saved the lives of wizards because she fought to the end with that unknown being and won. However, she did not dare to tell the wizards about it.
“Did you think we were fools?”
“We analyzed it so that it would never happen again. In the process… I could guess what Celine was up to. Thank you very much.”
“…I was just doing it to live.”
“Of course, it must have been.”
Rose smiled and removed her hand from Celine’s body.
“Get some rest. Just watch us do it.”
Celine blankly watched her movements. As Rose blended into the crowd with the other wizards and took her place, she began to scan the cogs.
Little by little, hope swelled in her heart. The magic she uses and the magic they use are not very different. Even though this was a stage, the rules had already been destroyed by Leonhard not functioning as her ‘enemy.’
‘With these people… they can stop that cog.’
The wizards moved in perfect order and attacked the cogs.
Staring at it and closing her eyes, Celine wanted to feel the flow of the intricately entangled magical power.
As soon as she analyzed the flow of the magical power, she was amazed at the skills of the magicians belonging to the Imperial Family. They each had strong personalities that could never be matched. The fact that they collaborated with each other was unbelievable.
Nonetheless, the wizards belonging to the Imperial Family moved for one goal: to destroy the cogs.
…Like the noise in the rhythm game.
As she thought that, Celine opened her eyes and got up. Concentrating only on the flow of magic, she could see the condition of the wizards that she could not observe.
‘…It’s not good.’
Her heart was pounding as all the wizards were trembling with white faces.
She felt it.
…If this continued, they would all die.
It seemed like she knew why.
‘Because what the stage wants is me.’
Celine, who had become complacent with Rose’s words, felt sorry. She even had an urge to jump off this steel structure. Didn’t she already realize that through the rhythm game that the stage had a will itself?
She gritted her teeth.
‘You know what to do. Move it!’
At first, her legs, which did not move properly as if resisting the future, quickly gained momentum and ran forward.
Rose called from behind, but she didn’t care.
Rose, no, nobody here knew about the stage. She was the only one who could solve this situation. More precisely, she was the one who could stop the cogs as she died…
For a moment, Celine stopped.
‘Does it have to be a human body?’
If, instead of a human body, other hard and appropriately sized foreign objects were to be inserted into the cogs…
At the thought, she groped her arms without hesitation.
There was Ringzor.
‘I’m sorry, Leonhard.’
She secretly apologized to Leonhard.
Ringzor was an item that he had received from the Emperor, and it was an heirloom of the Imperial Family passed down from generation to generation. If she broke it here, he would be angry at her. Still, she knew that he would rather her break Ringzor than risk her own life.
Celine carefully took Ringzor out of her arms.
Her blue-grey eyes widened.
Ringzor that was quietly embedded in the scabbard made of magic stones.
Possessed, she took the scabbard from Ringzor and examined it in every detail. The scabbard, made only of the best magic stones mined in the south, shone brilliantly.
This scabbard was also made by a wizard belonging to the Imperial Family with outstanding skills, so it would not have had a normal level of hardness. Putting Ringzor into her chest, she squeezed the scabbard in her hand before jumping from the structure towards the cogs.
Even though she could hear shouts from behind, it was a step too late. She inserted Ringzor’s scabbard between the largest cog and the next largest cog.
A creepy noise came, but Celine did not back down from there. Clinging with one hand to Ringzor’s scabbard, she channeled her power into the scabbard’s magic stones until the magic stones that couldn’t stand the magic applied as a waterfall exploded.
With an explosion, she was pushed back.
An unknown wizard quickly took her body and sat her on top of a steel structure.
“Why, why did you do that…”
As the thick green smoke pouring out from the cracks of the cogs began to clear, the half-destroyed cogs came into view through the thinning smoke.
Celine buried her face in her hands, unable to control her rising emotions.
…The winner this time was her.
Not the stage.
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