Cactus was recruited by Welwitschia because of his tremendous strength. Very soon, he became the top henchman of Welwitschia. Joining hands with Aster, an intelligent elf and the childhood best friend of Welwitschia, they assisted Welwitschia in ascending to the throne.
Welwitschia the young king took action decisively as he had determined to eradicate the corruption among the nobles; but he never realised that his action had sown the seed of vengeance…
This day, Welwitschia went to check on the fence at the border with Cactus and Aster. During the trip, a female elf ran towards them anxiously.
“H-help! A beast intruded over there!”
Welwitschia’s heart sank for the news. “Let’s go that way!”
“No!” Cactus stood in Welwitschia’s way and whispered, “leave this to me. Don’t risk yourself.”
“But…” When Welwitschia was hesitating, Aster padded his shoulder and said, “your highness, you’ll only distract Cactus if you tag along. Let’s go inform the guards.”
Then Cactus headed to the said location with the female elf. After walking for quite a while, Cactus started to question, “how much longer do we need to walk?”
Right after Cactus’s question, the female elf turned around, trying to thrust a blade into him. Cactus managed to avoid the assassination by shooting a dozen of spikes at the elf, who got severely injured and fell down.
“If we’re going down...humph...you come with us...Ah!”
“She...she’s the daughter of a banished noble!”
Cactus figured everything out when he was gazing at the elf who died with deep-rooted hatred.
“This is a setup...King Welwitschia!”
Going back as fast as he could, there was nobody at the scene by the time Cactus arrived where they had separated. Keeping on searching, Cactus found a trail of blood as if it was left on purpose.
The blood trail led Cactus to a wide lake, which was one of the major water sources for Plantdom. It was supposed to be heavily guarded by soldiers, but those soldiers had already been killed brutally, lying dead on the ground.
“I ain’t letting the murderer get away with this!”
Enraged, Cactus hurried to the lakeside, where Aster crouched down to protect an unconscious little boy.
Cactus rushed to offer Aster help, but Aster pointed at a tree and said, “Hurry...Save the king!”
Meanwhile, Welwitschia got his hair pulled by a male elf, being dragged to the tree. Although Cactus had reacted immediately, the thug was still one step faster than him, holding Welwitschia hostage with a dagger.
“One more step and your precious king will get his throat slitted,” said the thug.
“AHH!” The moan of Welwitschia stopped Cactus from making any striking attempt.
“If you hurt him, you’re not gonna leave here alive!”
“Humph. Did I say that it was what I hoped for?...Look at me,” said the thug, lifting his face. The moment he revealed his face, Cactus was stunned by his face, ragged as if a smashed fruit.
“Don’t fake your mercy to us when you were prosecuting our parents! You have no idea what we have been through!”
“I…” Welwitschia felt guilty when he heard the confession of the thug. “I’m sorry——”
The elf shouted furiously, scowling at Welwitschia. Next second, he started laughing maniacally and took out a plant root wrapped in a white cloth. The plant was dark in colour with some red dots. Cactus could feel its animosity from a distance.
“My father got this precious from the outside world. It’s called Savager. It feeds on anything that makes contact with it, and turns the host into maniac. If it’s planted near the water source, toxin will contaminate the water and kill any elf who drinks the water.”
“You——Stop!” Cactus’s yell didn’t work on the thug who had already prepared to die. Meanwhile, the thug put the Savager into a hole he had dug beforehand. When it made contact with the soil, it grew rapidly in a split second; Welwitschia, witnessing the scene, was frightened to pop his eyes.
“The most painful thing for such moral elf like you isn’t death, but becoming the villain you hate. Make your choice. Are you gonna save yourself or those innocent elves?”
Despite letting go of Welwitschia, the elf still pointed his dagger at his waist.
“Don’t be fooled by him!” Cactus shouted to warn Welwitschia.
“I don’t think he’s lying...If I ain’t me anymore, can you do me a favour by ending my life?”
Welwitschia turned around to smile at Cactus, which was a smile of sacrificing.
“No, it was more than just sacrificing his life. He’s willing to do it for his kind,” Cactus thought.
The moment when Welwitschia grabbed the Savager, its roots drilled into his body.
Consuming by the Savager, Welwitschia let out a scream in torment without letting go. He pulled the plant with his full strength. Very soon, he successfully pulled the whole thing out of his body. Next second, the roots coiled on him, making him roll on the ground in pain.
The thrilled laughter of the elf soon stopped, for the berserk Welwitschia stabbed the dagger into his neck. The dead elf then dropped to the ground.
When the enemy was eliminated, Cactus rushed over to restrain the berserk Welwitschia, who could only make nonsense sound right now.
“...Is killing him the only solution?”
When Cactus was struggling inside, someone swiftly came over and stabbed Welwitschia at his shoulder——it was the injured Aster.
“Aster! What are you doing!”
“Saving him,” said Aster while cutting his wrist. “The toxin can be suppressed by transfusing untainted blood to him.”
“But… how much blood does it take?” Cactus asked, but Aster ignored him. Before he raised another question, Welwitschia struggled again and almost escaped from the restrain.
“Cactus, hold him still.”
Cactus had no option but to hold Welwitschia still, for Aster’s gaze had already told him that they didn’t have any alternative. He couldn’t recall the process anymore; all he knew was the tremendous pain he felt.
Welwitschia was saved, but Aster was gone.
The rescue had exhausted him. Cactus didn’t even know when he had fainted. When he regained his consciousness, he saw the old Welwitschia, who always smiled kindly.
Struggling to get up, Cactus found his legs immobilized. Welwitschia comforted him and said, “stay still. I’ve already called the guards.”
“This kid was caught up in the mess earlier, and he got that just like me...I’ll call a medic for him later on,”Welwitschia explained when Cactus noticed the little boy in his embrace.
“...Are you alright?” Cactus was worried by Welwitschia’s unusual calmness.
“His best friend just died saving him. There’s no way that a kind elf like him not to blame himself.”
“Are you worrying that I might commit suicide?” Welwitschia then shook his head and confessed, “death might be easier for me, but the corrupted nobles just got eradicated. I can’t die when our country is not stable yet. If I choose death, I’ll be failing Aster’s hope on me.”
Welwitschia handed the little boy to Cactus and went to the corpse of the thug; the dagger on his neck represented Welwitschia’s sin.
“Cactus, if one day my heart is consumed by the Savager, kill me before I lose myself.”
Meanwhile, dawn broke; sunlight shone on the lean shoulders of Welwitschia.
Despite the drastic difference in body size, Cactus felt like Welwitschia was a giant to him, as if he could embrace the whole Plantdom. The great love inside Welwitschia had completely stunned Cactus to speechless.
“I promise.” This was the only thing Cactus could do for Welwitschia.