North x Northwest - Chapter 182
Volume 6 Chapter 182
Translators – Pru and Formidable
As Linhardt started to giggle, Levy pushed his back. When the two of them walked out of the room, their voices gradually faded away.
Ed stayed on his knees beside the bed for a while and at some point let go of Lil’s feet. Happy. He was obviously happy, but his joy was short-lived.
After carefully covering her with a blanket again, Ed sat in his usual chair and looked at Lil. His heartbeat which had been jumpy suddenly became muddy as if it had fallen into a swamp.
‘It’s funny how I’m feeling so despondent, constantly fluctuating between hopes and fears. And for what, Liloa will hate me anyway… I can’t forget the expression she made. Clearly gritting her teeth while she called me Admiral… She seems to think of me as an Admiral who infiltrated the League. If that’s true, it goes without saying that she’ll never look back on the good I did as Ed, the doctor of the Bell Rock. Instead, Ed’s existence to her will be nothing more than that of a traitor… Then this peaceful and silent face will turn unbearably hateful… Before that, I have to…’
“Wake up. I haven’t forgiven you yet…”
‘No, the word forgiveness is still too shabby. Is forgiving you all that I want?’
Ed wished to do more for Lil than that. He wanted to plead for her forgiveness too, confess, apologise, and clear up their misunderstanding, all the while pouring out his affection and begging her to look at him. He would endure whatever sacrifices he had to make in the process. It made no difference what Lil asked for or what he would lose… Or whether Lil wanted him in the same way…
“Just get up, please.”
‘In fact, it doesn’t matter where you just went or what you just did as long as you woke up safely. If you thrust a knife into me, I’ll be grateful for your arms’ ability to move again. And if you shoot me with contempt, I’ll be grateful for the vividness of your eyesight. Even your curse words are something I’ll gladly listen to.’
Ed buried his face in the palms of his healthy and healed hands. It has been a long time since his left hand could function normally again. While Lil was dying, Ed was the one to recover from all his injuries. It was excruciating. He hadn’t given Lil a chance yet, and Lil hadn’t given him one either, but instead of hers, his wounds were already healing. Ed began to worry that in the end he would be fine while Lil would die. In such a case, he didn’t think he would be able to start all over again.
His palms were filled with memories from his past; the immeasurable despair that has brought him to this point, the fear of never being able to face Lil again, the regret for not being a little more honest with her. Those torturous hours trampled over him one after the other. Only Lil could help him get back up. Nonetheless, he was anxious that it might end in vain.
‘If Liloa doesn’t wake up, all those times will be meaningless…’
Ed’s body gradually collapsed. He was too tired to keep thinking about it. Still, he laughed. The end of his recollection seemed to have ended here today, and a hollow laugh flowed through his fingers.
‘No, Liloa will wake up. As early as the morning. And tomorrow morning, too. The world will greet her after a long time, and she will be welcomed by dazzling sunlight.’
In the end, Ed knew that he had received a miracle. He no longer had to be afraid that they wouldn’t get the chance to meet each other.
The tension that had been squeezing him for the past two months began to release. Meanwhile, the relief that crept in made his entire body drowsy. Ed didn’t fight the sensation of being at ease. As his upper body fell forward, the warm and cosy bed accepted his body…
Lil woke up due to the numbness in her legs. Her dull limbs didn’t feel better even when she tossed and turned in her dreams. After opening her eyes, Lil lowered her gaze to the sleeping man sprawled beside her right leg.
‘Of course, I wouldn’t be able to move them like this…’
Sleeping like a log, it didn’t seem like a hindrance for him to have fallen face down from his chair, arms dangling over her legs. And though he appeared to be uncomfortable, he showed no signs of waking up.
Lil wanted to shake Ed off quickly, but she gave up on that because she didn’t want to confront him yet. She was hungry and, more importantly, felt helpless. The muscles of her right arm were aching and sore as if swinging that sword earlier had already been too much for her.
‘I don’t have the confidence that I can hold a sword with my left arm… To be honest, in this state, I don’t even know if I’m able to hold a gun properly. If something happens here, I will be terribly helpless…’
Lil couldn’t help but stare at Ed blankly. Dawn crept steeply across his cheek and the bridge of his nose. His hair, which had grown significantly since the last time she saw him, was dishevelled and scattered all over his forehead, ears, and eyes. Ed held a calm expression on his face, which had lost its distinctiveness. Now, without his uniform and just wearing a shirt, he looked more familiar to her.
Lil tried to shake off the emerging memories she has of him.
‘This man is the Admiral. However, I don’t seem to get the memories of that night I fell asleep in his cabin out of my head. Although I was deceived from the start, I can never forget how he drew my face without knowing he’d be abandoned the very next day. The suspicions I had about him since Amiaeng were right, but the wounds on his body remain the most vivid in my mind.’
Lil’s breath was becoming more and more heavy.
‘I just can’t accept it. The image of the admiral I had in mind was never like this. He was a maniac who cuts off people’s fingers and toes and collects scalps. I’ve never thought he’d be someone so familiar.’
There were numerous reasons why she didn’t expect Ed to be the admiral. In fact, Lil always thought that the admiral would look like someone from the Northern Continent. Northerners were genetically taller than the average central continental person, so Lil speculated that Admiral Retiro might be the same and even shared the universal features of bluish-pale skin, long black hair, and wide horizontal eyes.
Lil paid closer attention to Ed. His shoulders and back, which were constantly rising and falling, appeared relaxed. He looked the same as he did back in his cabin, so it was hard to associate him with the image of the admiral in her mind.
‘This is a scam. He can’t be that man.’
There wasn’t an ounce of disappointment in herself for not noticing it before.
‘Admiral? How could I possibly have made such an assumption? An Admiral, which are only two of in this Empire, was flirting and playing a musical instrument on a pirate ship. Who could’ve imagined such a thing?
…Cesar, on the other hand, pretended to not know Ed from the start. Why was that? They trained at Lebrun and shared a squadron as junior officers. Cesar told me all of this without hesitation before. How come Cesar didn’t recognize him after just a few measly years? Maybe, just maybe it could’ve been possible that one party didn’t recognise the other, but both… that’s highly unlikely right? Was there any sort of agreement or blackmail between the two?’
Lil tried to shake her stiff neck.
‘I thought I knew Ed, but he has now become a stranger to me again… I really don’t know anymore. Back in Amiaeng, Ed, the Admiral himself, said he would answer all my questions about the Mondovi fleet in exchange for spending a night with him. He swore that he hated the admiral, pretended to hand over information, and even talked nonsense about signing a long-term contract* with me! All the while knowing how anxious I was about the Mondovi fleet going south… He knew everything about the League and still brought his fleet to the Bell Rock. Now…
It just means that all these messed up situations were no accident…
Throughout his time being onboard the Bell Rock, Ed worked hard to please me. I’m now ashamed at the thought of how I must’ve looked like an idiot for almost falling for his lies. Why the hell did he do such a vicious thing? Because he wanted us to be together? Is he really going to say something like that? Then, will I be forced to forgive him for everything? He has been deceiving me for too long…’
The melancholy Lil suddenly felt the urge to kill him…
– – – – –
Long-term contract: This reference goes way back to chapter 59. Just after the western pirate arc, Lil helps Ed down the stairs from the rooftop in Panichi. During this walk, Lil said that his contract was over, Ed then talked about signing a ‘long-term deal’.