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TPK Vol. 1 Chapter 1 Part 1

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Chapter 1 Part 1


Chapter 1 – The Cursed Child

It all started thirteen years ago. In a small country at the center of the continent ―― the Kingdom of Jade, the curtain of that story was about to rise.

“Haa… Haa… Haa…”

A woman lay on the bed, exhaling weak breaths. She appeared to be in her early twenties, with sunken cheeks and her whole body drenched in sweat. It was evident that she was afflicted by some kind of illness. Moreover, the illness had progressed significantly, and it was clear to anyone that her remaining time was short.

“Sasha…”

A man crouched by the bedside, his back hunched over as he called out, his expression contorted in grief. However, there was no response. It was doubtful if the voice of the man calling out to the woman named Sasha reached her ears.

The two were husband and wife, but they were not just an ordinary couple. They were both heroes, saviors who had saved the people from a great calamity.

A year ago, a calamity known as the ‘Poison Queen’ appeared in the Kingdom of Jade. The northern part of the Kingdom was ravaged by a monster classified as ‘Demon King-Class’. Countless villages were destroyed, causing immeasurable damage.

The woman lying in bed and the man watching over her were the ones who defeated the calamitous monster. The woman ―― Sasha Halsberg, was a formidable mage bearing the title of ‘Sage’. The man ―― Kevin Halsberg, was a master of martial arts known as the ‘Holy Fist’.

With the husband and wife at the center of the extermination squad, they managed to defeat the ‘Queen’, and the Kingdom regained its peace. However… in exchange for that, Sasha fell under the curse that was the ultimate fate of the ‘Queen’ and was afflicted by an incurable disease.

Sasha was currently on the verge of death. Many doctors, pharmacists, priests, and court mages were gathered to save the life of the hero who saved the country, but no means of salvation had been found.

“Haa… Haa…”

“Sasha, why must this happen…? Why do you have to suffer like this…!? God, what have we done…!?”

Overwhelmed by his own powerlessness, Kevin could only watch his wife, suffering.

Kevin, the ‘Holy Fist’, capable of punching a dragon to death barehanded, was the strongest warrior in the Kingdom. Yet, he could not even save his beloved woman, who was afflicted by the curse.

If only they had ignored the ‘Poison Queen’, and just left her alone. Even the thought of unheroic considerations came to his mind, thoughts that he should have escaped without getting involved, even if it meant the destruction of the Kingdom.

“Sasha… Please, don’t die. Don’t leave me behind…”

“Excuse me, my lord.”

Kevin heard a knocking sound on the door amidst his grief. Without responding, he fell into silence. Then, a male servant who worked in the mansion entered as the door opened from the outside.

The elderly servant glanced sympathetically at the couple, his employers, and spoke to Kevin in a subdued tone.

“My lord, there is someone claiming to be a doctor waiting outside. May I let them in?”

“…………”

Kevin clenched his teeth so tightly that they made a grinding sound. Many doctors had examined his wife’s body before, only to find themselves helpless and give up. Surely, it would be the same this time.

“…Fine. Let them in.”

However, Kevin could not simply dismiss the person who had come to save Sasha. Perhaps it was a doctor sent by the grateful king for their extermination of the ‘Poison Queen’. There were even rumors that they would be appointed as nobles for their subjugation of the ‘Demon King-Class’ entity, so it was not an impossible notion.

Once Kevin granted permission, the servant disappeared down the hallway, and soon, a figure entered the bedroom.

“Hey, Kevin. It’s been a while. Do you remember me?”

“You…!!”

A tall woman entered the room with a casual gesture, wearing a black suit designed for men and a white coat draped like a mantle over it. She was in her early twenties in appearance.

Kevin knew her true identity. She used to be called a comrade, but they had since gone their separate ways.

“Why are you here!? Doctor Faust!”

“Haha! Quite an outburst as a greeting. Good to see you’re doing well.”

Being called by her name in a biting tone, the woman in the white coat ―― Faust, raised her scarlet lips in a crescent shape.

Doctor Faust. Evaluations of her varied greatly depending on the person or country.

Positive evaluations included… developing a miracle drug for an incurable disease, or nearly causing the destruction of a certain country but sealing away a demon in the process, and single-handedly stopping a stampede of monsters.

Those who held Faust in high regard praised her as ‘a noble and magnificent woman, almost like an angel’.

Negative evaluations included… conducting human experiments in the process of drug development, or causing the deaths of hundreds of people, wiping out an entire town as a sacrifice for magic, and creating biological weapons by modifying the bodies of beings called ‘demi-humans’.

Those who harbored animosity towards Faust disdained her as ‘a cruel and fearsome woman, almost like a demon’.

Kevin and Sasha had once considered Faust a comrade, but they could not tolerate her abnormal actions and had already severed ties with her.

And yet… why did Faust suddenly appear before them?

‘Why’ is such a cold thing to say. I wouldn’t be so heartless as to ignore the crisis of an old friend. I came running when I heard that Sasha had been cursed by the ‘Poison Queen’.”

“How audacious of you…! Have you forgotten what you did to the people of that town five years ago!?”

“Of course, I remember. It’s a researcher’s duty not to forget the humans who became sacrifices for experiments. But more importantly… may I examine your wife immediately?”

“You…!!”

Kevin glared at Faust but, at the same time, he felt a glimmer of hope.

The doctor standing before him is a madwoman, an unmistakable monster who has crossed the boundaries of humanity.

(However… without a doubt, this woman is the greatest doctor and mage. Perhaps Faust might be able to save Sasha…)

Rather, if Faust could not save her, perhaps there truly was no way to save his wife. That thought has crossed Kevin’s mind.

“Kuh…! If you do anything strange to my wife, I won’t show mercy!”

Kevin’s expression twisted in frustration, and reluctantly gave permission for Sasha to be examined.

“Fair enough. Just leave it to me.”

Faust lightly patted Kevin’s shoulder with a wry smile and proceeded to examine Sasha.

“Alright… I’ll undress her.”

“Uuhn…”

As Faust removed Sasha’s clothes, purple bruises were revealed all over her body. The bruises covered her skin like an invasion centered around her heart, and had already reached the bottom of her face.

“Well, well, interesting.”

“…………”

Faust examined Sasha’s entire body. It was so thorough that it would have been unforgivable if not for the medical context, or if Faust were not a woman herself.

“Mm, I’ve grasped the general picture. The curse of the ‘Poison Queen’. This seems to be an infectious curse disease. It’s quite a troublesome curse you’ve been burdened with, but… there is a way to cure it. Barely, that is.”

“You can cure it!?”

Kevin could not help but raise his voice. No matter how renowned the doctors he had consulted or how exceptional the mages he had sought, no one had been able to find a treatment for Sasha. Yet, with just a few minutes of examination, Faust had easily discovered a means to save her.

While calming the approaching Kevin with a soothing gesture, Faust spoke in a slow tone, as if coaxing him.

“I’m sorry for raising your expectations, but… it’s not possible to nullify the curse of the ‘Poison Queen’, a calamity on the level of the ‘Demon King-Class’, without any risks. To overcome it, a substitute sacrifice is necessary.”

“A substitute sacrifice…?”

“Do you know of the ‘Soul Transference Technique’? It’s a secret technique that sacrifices someone’s life to bring back the dead. However, by using said secret technique, we should be able to transfer the curse placed on Sasha to someone else and cure her.”

“…………!”

Kevin held his breath. To save Sasha, someone else would have to bear the curse. Sacrificing another person for the sake of his wife… was incredibly selfish and sacrilegious.

“…I understand. I’ll be the substitute.”

After a moment of silence, Kevin spoke those words. He had made up his mind to sacrifice himself for his wife’s sake, but Faust shook her head.

“Unfortunately, you’re not eligible. The ‘Soul Transference Technique’ can only be used on someone who has close information about the ‘soul’, meaning a blood relative. The curse can only be transferred to parents, siblings, or maybe children.”

“What…!? Then, from the beginning, there’s no way to save her!”

Upon hearing Faust’s explanation, Kevin pounded the wall with his fist in frustration.

“Sasha was an orphan with no one in the world. Her parents were already dead, and she had no siblings. There was no one who could bear the curse…!”

When hope seemed to have appeared, it quickly slipped away, out of reach. Kevin was once again filled with despair. But Faust pushed up her glasses with a wry smile.

“That’s not necessarily true, is it? There is someone who can bear the curse.”

“What…?”

“If it’s a close relative, the curse can be transferred. And that includes… an unborn fetus.”

“What!? N-No way…!?”

Kevin understood what Faust was implying and instinctively turned his gaze toward Sasha.

“Haa… Haa…”

His wife, undressed for the examination… Was there another life dwelling within her body?

“So you’re saying… Sasha is carrying my child…?”

“I can’t guarantee that you’re the father… Well, pardon my rudeness. But there’s no doubt that Sasha is pregnant. I assure you as a doctor.”

“…………!”

Kevin’s expression contorted. He had been prepared to make any sacrifice to save his beloved wife. However, the thought of using his unborn child as the price was something he had not even considered.

“What is this…? Isn’t there a god in this world?”

“I don’t mind either way. I’ll respect your decision. Just keep in mind that if you leave it as it is, both the mother and child will die… That’s all I’ll emphasize.”

“Damn it…”

Kevin closed his eyes, clenched his fists, and eventually made a heart-wrenching decision.

“…Please, save my wife. Transfer the curse to the child.”

“I see. I understand…”

“Please, wait…!”

“Sasha!?”

Kevin had made his decision, but Sasha, lying on the bed on the verge of death, stopped him.

When had she woken up? Without raising her body, she glared at Kevin.

“Don’t be foolish… Don’t sacrifice our own child… I don’t want to survive by sacrificing our child…!”

“But… Sasha! There’s no other way! If you die, the child inside you will die, too. In that case, I’d rather… even if it’s just you…”

“This is my child…! If it means letting this child die alone, I would rather choose to embrace this child and pass through the gates of the underworld…!”

Despite being on the verge of death, Sasha’s eyes held a strong determination.

Even when it seemed like she was about to lose her life, Sasha refused to let go of her child. Her unwavering will was truly a mother’s love.

“Hmm… Are you sure about that?”

However, Faust tilted her head and asked Sasha, who had made up her mind.

“Choosing death without transferring the curse to the child… Is that really the best and final decision?”

“Of course… A parent’s duty is to protect their child. Where can you find a parent who would sacrifice their child as a substitute…!?”

“But… if it comes to that, both you and the children will die, you know? If sacrificing just one person could save everyone else, it doesn’t seem necessary for everyone to die.”

“That’s why…!”

Sasha, frustrated and weakened, was about to shout while lashing out against her own body. But suddenly, she felt a sense of unease in Faust’s words.

“Wait. Did you just say… ‘children’?”

“Yes, that’s right… ‘children’. “

Faust nodded and confirmed Sasha’s question.

“You are carrying twins in your womb. There are two fetuses.”

“Wha…!?”

“What!? Twins!?”

Both husband and wife were stunned by Faust’s statement. If there were two children, the premise itself would change.

“If you transfer the curse to one of the two children, the mother and the other child will be saved. It’s a choice between the three of you dying together or sacrificing one person to save the other two… It’s a simple either-or situation.”

“No way…”

“Now, what will you do? My old friend. I will respect your decision. Whether you choose to accompany both children or sacrifice just one… choose whichever you prefer.”

“…………”

“Whichever you choose, it won’t be a wrong choice. There is no correct answer when it comes to choosing life, you see.”

Faust’s expression as she pressed for a decision was calm. It had a gentle and compassionate look. However… to the Halsberg couple, that calm countenance appeared as the face of the devil, urging them to make a contract.

On that day, the couple would make a crucial decision.

The decision they made, after much anguish, would come to shape the fate of numerous people years later… but none of them, including the couple, could have anticipated that outcome.


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