For Eliza Tarbell, love was a relatively new concept.
It was a very unreasonable emotion that could bring both joy and sorrow, it could change people for the better and for the worse and it could lead to many outcomes though sometimes it would only lead to nowhere.
It was harder for Eliza to understand this feeling than for others as before she was reincarnated, Eliza wasn’t able to feel the same emotions that humans did; it simply wasn’t possible from a biological point of view.
She, of course, was familiar with the usage of emotions when dealing with other people. It was common Eliza to use her opponents’ feelings against them.
But she could never truly sympathize with those she manipulated, just like a human cannot truly sympathize with an insect’s feelings. The means of perceiving the world are simply too different to find a common ground.
So, when in her new life she fell in love for the first time, she was really rather helpless. Even the vast experiences she had accumulated over hundreds of years were useless when it came to handling this new side of her.
Ultimately, not even Eliza herself understood how she felt about her love and the consequences it brought to her.
She was certain that even now she was in love with the person she chose.
She was certain that she also hated him.
The feelings she held about her love were too tangled and complicated. After Jeremy left her, she most certainly tried to find him and she certainly wanted to take him back… but at the same time, she wasn’t sure if catching him was the result that she truly desired.
It must be known that when it comes to obtaining information, Eliza was much further ahead of her fellow Grand Mages, as she was favored by the Dark Gods and could obtain the knowledge of many things through simply a prayer and after paying the appropriate price.
Something like obtaining the whereabouts of a mortal that wasn’t familiar with even the most basic arcane principles would be far too easy for Eliza if she truly desired to do so. It was hesitation that stopped her from employing those means.
No, not the hesitation of losing the things that needed to be paid in order to move her venerated deities. Neither was she afraid of using their power for such a vulgar and trivial purpose. Her Gods didn’t judge their believers the same way more “normal” Gods did.
But there was a part of her, a very small part, that always stopped her.
It was the question: “What would happen after?”
What would happen after Eliza found Jeremy? Would the things go back to the way they used to be? Would everything be truly fine? Did she want everything to be the same?
What would she do to Jeremy after she found him? Forgive and forget? Make him suffer as much as she did? Try to start all over again or simply leave after settling her doubts?
She didn’t know. She didn’t want to know until she found him.
Eliza had the reputation of a ruthless and psychotic monster obsessed with death among Earth’s mages. There were almost no limits to the means she employed to achieve her goals and her bottom line didn’t seem to even exist.
But the strange emotion that she had had affected her usual self too much. She couldn’t make calm judgments when it came to her love and she couldn’t come to conclusions that would satisfy her.
So she hesitated and hesitated. She took a few steps forward and then went back only to start walking forward again. She fooled herself again and again.
It wasn’t like her and she hated it. She hated herself for being so indecisive and she hated Jeremy for putting her in this situation in the first place.
It was the first time she felt so powerless and it was unbearable for Eliza.
But if you asked her if she regretted ever falling in love, she would answer “No” without hesitation.
Human beings are flawed and irrational creatures and it just so happened that she was reincarnated as a human.
It gave her many flaws and, to be honest, being a human wasn’t suitable for her. But she didn’t hate her flaws. Just as she didn’t regret her decisions.
After being transported to Ulte, she was told that the person she was searching for was there too.
It came as a surprise to Eliza. It also gave her the feeling that the problem that had been troubling her would be resolved this time. One way or another, they would meet. It was inevitable. That was how she felt.
Somehow, Eliza felt relieved and didn’t worry about this matter anymore. On the contrary, she was looking forward to seeing how she felt after they met again.
And once, there came a time when she saw a little girl. That little girl gave her a very strong sense of familiarity. She could swear she had never seen that girl before but she could see that familiarity in the small gestures and the expressions she made, in the small details that would normally be overlooked.
The girl was very familiar but at the same time she was very unfamiliar. While Eliza didn’t know the girl she had already began treating her as the person she reminded her of subconsciously. Some voice in Eliza’s mind screamed that the girl was important.
After making sure that she would always be able to find the girl, Eliza let her be. Who knew that they would be able to meet again so soon.
This time, the familiarity in the way the girl acted was too striking for Eliza to ignore or shrug off as a coincidence.
The way she acted, the way she spoke, the way she smiled. Even the tiniest details gave away the true identity of the girl.
Eliza was certain. This little girl was the person she was looking for all this time. In her excitement she used dozens of complicated magecrafts and methods of determining true identity in but a moment. From Necromancer’s means of spirit identification to the ancient spells of divination, every time the answer was the same.
Jeremy and Jennifer. They were the same person.
No, there was a big and disturbing for Eliza difference. The look in the eyes of the girl was more pure, innocent and less burdened than the look her loved one had.
Jeremy Hillstone was an individual burdened with many nightmares.
Before he had met Eliza he was already a psychologically ill and broken man. The look in his eyes was never as pure and as unburdened as the gaze in the eyes of the girl.
Somehow, this small little detail made Eliza’s heart feel as if it was squeezed with a powerful hand.
The pure and unburdened gaze, the gaze full of wonder and curiosity, it was a gaze that Jeremy Hillstone often faked but underneath that gaze there was always deep desperation, the feeling of somebody who was drowning and was willing to grasp even the smallest straws in order to barely stay afloat.
But the girl’s gaze was sincere.
The pure and unburdened gaze also made Eliza feel like there was an uncrossable distance between her and the girl.
The warm feeling of familiarity and the excitement of having met her loved one at last faded, replaced with a deep uncomfortable feeling.
The girl’s eyes crossed with Eliza’s. They didn’t linger, they just brushed by.
There was no change of emotion inside the girl’s eyes. No surprise, love, fear, nor familiarity, as if the eyes had just seen a stranger. No, it was even worse.
It was normal for strangers to take a second look at Eliza. It was normal for strangers to show curiosity when looking at Eliza.
The girl’s gaze didn’t even show that.
While searching for her beloved, there was a question that always made Eliza hesitate in her search.
“What would happen after you found him?”
Would Eliza be met with hatred, rejection, fear, disgust? Eliza imagined many possible scenarios but she never even considered that she would be met with indifference. And indifference hurt her much more than any other possible reaction.
It hurt her much more than she expected. The indifferent gaze was just like a knife that repeatedly sliced through her heart without hesitation, cutting it into tiny strips. Eliza’s expression crumbled into a distorted frown and her whole body began to shake. Something wet began to stream down her cheeks and her vision blurred.
“Am I crying? No, that’s impossible. How could I cry. I don’t believe that I’m crying. But why do I feel so fragile? It makes no sense. Nothing makes any sense”
Eliza couldn’t understand what was going on. Eliza didn’t understand what was happening. She didn’t understand what she was feeling. She only knew that it hurt. Nothing made sense. Why, how, what… a billion questions flooded her head and her mind wasn’t able to keep up with them, giving birth to strange inexplicable emotions.
At this moment, she was surrounded by an aura that made her difficult to approach. Anybody within her immediate surroundings would feel suffocated.
She lifted her head and decided to approach the girl but the girl was gone by that time. Eliza didn’t notice how in her shock and confusion several hours passed by.
She felt a sense of loss again. It all simply felt unfair. Nothing felt right.
“Why? Why? Why?! What happened? Why won’t you recognize me? Why do you run from me? Even though I love you so much, even though I love you more than anybody else has ever loved you before, why do you turn away from me? Do you hate me so much? Why? It’s unfair! Unfair! It’s all simply unfairunfairunfair!!!”
She looked around in search of the traces of the girl but those traces have all but disappeared.
Gnashing her teeth, Eliza looked around.
The street was empty. In fact, the aura Eliza gave off caused a panic among the citizens and they all fled despite not knowing why. Even the knights dispatched for investigation all fled when they came close. A magician tried to investigate the situation with a spell but then he began to bleed from all orifices and went into a coma.
Only by now had the city calmed down somewhat.
This didn’t matter to Eliza. Nothing mattered. She simply wanted to vent. And then find the girl. And then… She didn’t know what to do again. But she had thoughts. Many thoughts. Very dark thoughts. Eliza was not very good at handling her own emotions.
Eliza saw a restaurant far away. It shined brightly through the windows and there were sounds of cheer and laughter coming out of it. It irritated Eliza.
How dare these ants enjoy their pathetic and inconsequential lives while Eliza suffered?
One step and she traveled several hundred meters into the air. Another and she was at the restaurant’s door.
The annoying cheers and shouting was more prominent at the door. Eliza became even more irritated and pushed the door open. She stepped inside. And then the whole building was engulfed in silence.
Everybody: the guests, the waiters, the entertainers, the cooks, the servants simply died.
Eliza didn’t will for them to die. Her overwhelming anger simply caused the ordinary people to stop living.
Eliza didn’t care. She simply stepped inside the restaurant, found a table and sat down.
“Too silent. I don’t know what you’re celebrating but you shouldn’t be so quiet, right? Hey, musicians, play something!”
On command, the corpses of the band invited to the party all stood up with jerking movements, grabbed their instruments and began to play.
Maybe because their ears no longer functioned as normal and their fingers were too stiff but the melody they played came out very distorted.
“Not going to offer me anything, huh? Bring out your wine!”
On the second floor the bartender’s body also stood up, grabbed a bottle from the shelf and with stiff and uncoordinated movements went downstairs.
After it brought the bottle to Eliza it stood aside, awaiting for new orders.
Eliza poured the wine in a glass and took a sip.
The wine was too sour and it tasted simply horrible. But Eliza still drank the whole bottle glass by glass.
Despite being a Grand Mage and a Necromancer, her body’s metabolism should’ve been similar to a normal human unless she invoked magic. She didn’t have the time or resources to modify her body properly on Earth and she was forbidden from doing so anyway by the contract with the Overseer.
But no matter how much she drank, she was still sober. No, her head In fact cooled down while sitting and thinking about the day’s events.
The more she thought, the less horrible the situation seemed to be.
Her loved one has lost his, or now her, memories. But at the very core, weren’t Jeremy and Jennifer the same person? No, it was even better now as Jennifer wasn’t burdened with unnecessary worries and emotional baggage.
Her loved one has lost her memories, so what? As long as she didn’t die and her soul didn’t disappear in the River of Souls, there was still a chance. A chance for a happy ending, a better outcome. It was a chance to wipe out all the wrongs and make everything right.
She didn’t recognize Eliza now but it also meant that all the grudges that Jeremy might’ve had for Eliza and all the awkwardness between them wouldn’t matter to Jennifer.
Wasn’t that just perfect?
A smile crept on Eliza’s lips.