Lakis was having a dream.
It was a dream based of his memories way back in the past, when he was much younger than he was now.
When he lowered his head slightly, an injured and delicate hand came into his sight. The hand definitely felt small and immature. At this age, he was much younger and smaller, so it was only natural.
Lakis naturally realized that this was a dream. Wasn’t this what they called lucid dreaming?
Right then, an unfeeling voice pushed the young Lakis’ back.
‘There should be people waiting for you when you get inside.’
At those words, Lakis looked over at the devastation in front of him. It was a collapsed building with a strange air that seemed to drift around it.
The place where the man asked him to enter was a pitch-black entrance without the slightest hint of light. It was a space so familiar to Lakis that he was sick of it.
But just because he was aware it was a dream didn’t mean he could control his actions as he wished. His mouth moved on its own, recreating the memories of that time.
‘What is this place?’
When Lakis asked, a voice that made the hairs on his neck stand pierced his ears. After that, the man added:
‘All who went in came out dead, you see.’
As Lakis found out later, this was a labyrinth remodeled for experimentation. Lakis was dragged there by his father that day and set foot inside. And the researchers who were waiting there ahead of time stuck ruin fragments in his neck then they led him into the depths.
‘They say you’re a perfect fit for the experiment. You should be glad to at least have some use, don’t you think?’
Hearing what the man added indifferently, a voice as cold as the man’s sprang from Lakis’ lips.
‘Why do I have to go in there?’
‘Because you can live one day longer. If refuse, I will kill you on the spot.’
There was already no such thing as father-son affection between them but even then, those words were excessively cruel. Right now, the man wasn’t giving Lakis a choice. After all, he wasn’t one to say empty words.
This was an order and disobedience meant death.
Lakis clenched his scarred and injured fists. The emotions he felt back then came back vividly.
Dying meant losing his chance to fight forever. He was born the only child to the king who ruled over the west, so he was destined to reign as ruler in the future. However, Lakis’ body was inherently weak so it was not able to support his strong will.
Lakis grit his teeth then he walked towards the dark entrance of his own accord. And instead of leaving a last farewell, he made a promise to the person behind him.
‘When I come out, I will definitely kill you.’
Hearing that, the man behind him gave a sneering laugh. As if he was ridiculing Lakis.
‘I’ll look forward to it.’
The first dream came to an end like that. And then the scene changed. This time, it was the memories of his time in the labyrinth. In that place, Lakis truly learnt what the law of the jungle meant.
Every time, new children came in to absorb the ruin fragments. The labyrinth was structured in such a way that you could never get out on your own once you entered.
At first, he had to fight to scramble for the food that came in at fixed intervals. The researchers didn’t only throw food inside, they also threw ruin fragments. If you wanted to get stronger, all you had to do was plunge it into your body.
They said the children in here right now were a perfect fit for the experiments. Who knows whether that was true or not, but they weren’t dead yet even though they had put several fragments in their body.
Over time, the food that came into the labyrinth decreased. However, the influx of experiment subjects continued to increase. Unsurprisingly, the battle to live grew more intense and it became natural for test subjects to kill each other.
—Who are you?
Then one day, someone spoke to Lakis. It was the instant when Lakis was about to fall asleep, so his eyes sprang open with a start.
‘What? Who are you? Why are you talking in my head?’
—I’m…I don’t know. I’m just me? Who are you?
When they first talked, Lakis thought he had never met someone so stupid. After talking to it a few times, Lakis soon realized it was a complete waste of time, so he decided to just ignore the voice.
He was annoyed by the voice that kept yapping endlessly in his head and when he replied to it, it got excited and babbled even more. But if he got annoyed and ignored it, it started asking if he couldn’t hear him, so he was greatly irritated by this bug-like bastard.
However, when he thought about it later, it was not an exaggeration to say that the unknown being with a mysterious identity played a role in helping Lakis’ mind stay intact during his long stay in the labyrinth.
And then, one way or the other, he found out that the bastard was useful.
—Aak, I want to leave your body! Why do you keep shoving weird things into your body? You’re lucky I’m going through hell to digest it. If I didn’t, you’d probably be unconscious for three days, okay? Maybe you’ll get your act together when someone beats you half-dead!
The mere fact that it helped him smoothly absorb the ruin’s fragment meant it had paid the price of attaching its parasitic existence without Lakis’ permission.
Like that, Lakis grew a little stronger while the other test subjects either died from the side effects of the absorption, starved to death, or died from the in-fighting. Even after they were all gone, he stubbornly survived alone.
Around that time, the food delivery got cut off and the researchers who sometimes came to check on the condition of the experiments stopped bothering so Lakis had live alone in a labyrinth full of corpses for almost half a year.
After some more time passed, Lakis was finally powerful enough and succeeded in escaping the labyrinth on his own. Then he went to look for the King of Carnot to fulfill his promise.
After that, it was the turn of the research institute. All the remaining ruin fragments he found were immediately destroyed.
As he sat on the throne, his life was hectic and busy for a while. And as time passed, Lakis finally reach a strange sense of peace. Then he met Milliam.
‘Hello, Lakis-nim. It is an honor to serve you.’
He was someone who knew Lakis before Lakis entered the ‘grave’. His mother was someone whom Lakis’ late father regarded as his everything. However, they weren’t half-brothers.
Anyway, because of that, Lakis had seen the guy’s face several times in passing as a child. He looked meek and fair which was a contrast to the numerous cruel bastards that filled up Carnot. Lakis remembered briefly thinking that ‘this guy will find it hard to make a living here’.
However, the fact the Milliam was still alive even after Lakis’ time in the labyrinth was unexpected so at first, Lakis found it intriguing and paid attention to Milliam.
You could say it was because of intrigue at first but simply speaking, he was reminded of the days when he was weak and treated Milliam well in a way unlike himself.
As a result, Milliam stayed by his side much longer than he expected. Although, he had no idea the bastard would stab him in the back so courageously.
Once again, the scene from that time spread before his eyes like the sea. When he turned around and looked back, he found another Lakis standing there.
The same face, the same appearance, just like looking into a mirror. Milliam even tried to kill Lakis using Lakis’ own abilities.
Even in his dream, Lakis was filled with an intense desire to kill. He had to kill the bastard immediately. But there was a contradictory side of himself that held hesitation unlike himself.
The reason why Lakis was going through the trouble of increasing his strength by absorbing other ruin fragments was because he wanted to completely trample over the bastard that copied his abilities. He couldn’t let the bastard live especially if he wanted to set an example. Even if he didn’t want to set an example, he had no intention of letting go of the man who betrayed him.
However, there was a little, a very little part of him that wanted to push it off till later, but he had no idea that this was a trace of the weak Lakis Avalon that appeared in his dreams.
Right then, a quiet voice seeped into Lakis’ ears. At the same time, someone’s fingers touched his shoulders. Lakis took in a shallow breath and opened his eyes.
And his eyes immediately met with a pair of placid red eyes.
“What’s wrong? Are you alright?”
The calm voice made his fast beating heart grow quiet again.
Lakis was lying down on the sofa like always. The sunlight streaming through the curtains was bright.
It seemed Yuri came out this morning and noticed his condition was a bit odd, so she came up to him.
Although he went out last night, he didn’t absorb any ruin’s fragment, but he probably had a nightmare because he’d been pushing the bug to overdo it lately.
Lakis slowly breathed out then he looked at the face in front of him. It was placid gaze, similar to his father’s eyes when he was small, but Yuri’s gaze was not cold.
When he thought about it, she was the same even back then.
‘Lie down and go back to sleep.’
It was when he first came to this house and abruptly gained consciousness. Back then, he had a nightmare just like now and when he opened his eyes, Yuri was there.
At least there’s no one here to threaten you right now.
Her voice whispered to him, as quiet as it was now, and it was still vivid in his ears.
Lakis looked into her eyes and slowly opened his mouth.
And instead of going into an earnest explanation about his dream or his feelings, he gave a brief greeting.
Hearing that, Yuri looked at Lakis and tilted her head slightly. But she soon calmly returned the greeting.
“Yeah, good morning.”
Somehow, the sunlight coming through the window felt blinding so Lakis lifted his hand to block his view. Suddenly, more than ever before, he felt an intense desire to have this morning to himself forever. He squeezed his hand as if he was trapping the light within.
The morning sunlight was just as radiant as ever.
*I guess Yuri made a really good first impression. It’s in Chapter 9 if you’re wondering.
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