TLN: Happy New Year, everyone!
Another year goes by, time really does pass fast!
Thanks to everyone who has been sticking with me, you guys are literally my driving force! No amount of thanks would be enough to share that happiness.
Here’s to hoping for another great year!
I sheathed my dragon longsword and looked once more at the graves of the children.
The offerings at the graves, are they the number of prayers from Arianrhod? If that’s the case, I don’t think I can hate that Zeruaga too much.
I won’t hesitate in cutting her. The Strauss are just that way.
“Now then, let’s go.” (Solje)
“Okay. Byakuya, we are changing directions.” (Riel)
“Byakuya, don’t step on me, okay?! Ah ah! W-Watch out!” (Jean)
Excluding the fact that Jean was about to be stomped, there were no problems occurring at all. It was a good diversion. We got to learn what kind of people are the enemy and it is refreshing.
We go back through the narrow pathway. When we returned to the main path, Riel and I rode on Byakuya. Jean went ‘over here!’ and after waving his tail once, he begins to walk with strength.
Looks like he has resolved himself in some way.
“Now, let’s confirm our strategy.” (Solje)
“Again? Oh well, fine.” (Riel)
“We have to be careful when care is needed, Riel-neesan.” (Jean)
“Uuh, even Byakuya? I-I don’t really mind, it is Captain’s orders anyways.” (Riel)
“I am glad that you are an obedient mercenary.” (Solje)
In time, I will make you obedient in bed too.
“Hm? I feel perverted thoughts.” (Riel)
“Must be your imagination.” (Solje)
As expected of the upright elf. Oh well, leaving aside the joking.
“Riel, what kind of spell is this Aqua Aura?” (Solje)
“It is an Anti-Arianrhod sealing spell. With this, we can plant into this world vague existences like Zeruagas that are hard to detect or interfere with.” (Riel)
“Sounds complicated…” (Jean)
Jean hasn’t gotten any magic education, so of course it would be.
“It means that we can drag Arianrhod from the Spirit World into Our World.” (Riel)
“Uhm, is it like reeling a fish? In other words, pulling it out from the water?” (Jean)
“…Yeah, something like that?” (Riel)
I understand what she is trying to say, but her words lack convincing power. Is that okay with you, Riel Harveld? Oh great mage?
“Something like that. Meaning that we can drag her into a territory our hands can reach, and confront her.” (Solje)
I already had this explained by Loroka-sensei and Riel-chan at the inn this morning. With the spell Aqua Aura, we can have Arianrhod’s ‘body’ be ‘possessed’ into this world. By doing that, she will apparently be a member of this world temporarily.
It was so complicated that I couldn’t understand it well.
“Anyways, once Riel-chan chants the spell, we will be able to see Arianrhod with our naked eyes, and we will be able to slaughter her.” (Solje)
A haphazard explanation. Hope my lack of intelligence doesn’t get exposed by this.
I am a kind of mage, but what I use are all traditional spells. It is not like I am using any specialist spells. It is the kind of simple magic that was polished through guts and effort.
“A simple explanation with no lingo in it. But that’s roughly how it is. If I use the spell, we can kill her. That’s the important part.” (Riel)
“…Understood. Then, I…will be the one to defeat her.” (Jean)
“Hm? Just you alone won’t be enough though. You are really weak.” (Riel)
“T-That may be true, but…” (Jean)
“…Properly settle that, Riel, Jean. You guys will most likely team up with Byakuya to fight Arianrhod.” (Solje)
“…Okay. You will be fighting that, right? You really have a tight fate with him.” (Riel)
“Wind of Hades, Mistral…!” (Jean)
Yeah, that man must be at the side of Arianrhod.
I thought he would rebel against Arianrhod, but I don’t think we can expect much from that. Then why did he steal the Possession Crystal?
Is it not only an item that drags a Zeruaga into this world and plants its existence in it?
Damn it, we should have brought at least one person with a high IQ.
Riel still doesn’t have the experience to read ahead. She may have skill as a mage, but she isn’t seasoned enough to put that wide knowledge of hers to use. And the others are animals.
Oh well, that’s fine.
I won’t think about stuff that I can’t do anything about. That’s the trick to dealing with complicated stuff.
There’s only one thing I understand.
“Mistral is strong. Only a master in close combat can fight with him. Riel can’t do it on her own, and Jean alone can’t either. This is a problem not only of ability, but affinity.” (Solje)
“…Umu, this is vexing, but with only a bow and knife, it would be tough when dealing against him.” (Riel)
“Y-Yeah, leaving aside power and speed, in terms of swordsmanship, there’s no chance for me to win.” (Jean)
“…That’s why I will be fighting him. And you guys have no choice but to fight the Zeruaga.” (Solje)
“Loroka-oneesama managed to defeat her sister god, Zeruaga Aggraias.” (Riel)
“That’s right, against an enemy that she had the worst affinity against.” (Solje)
“Then we must not lose since we are two, Riel-neesan.” (Jean)
“Fufu, right. Oi, Solje Strauss.” (Riel)
“I am going to finish it. Watch the strength of your legal wife.” (Riel)
“I-I will also do my best…” (Jean)
“Be careful, Jean. This strategy is simply an ideal blueprint.” (Riel)
“Yeah. Loroka-oneesama and I have our doubts. It is certainly perfect in theory, but there’s no knowing if that theory is effective against the essence of Arianrhod. We won’t know until we try.” (Riel)
“S-So that’s how it is…!” (Jean)
“If we end up being wrong, and Aqua Aura doesn’t show the desired results…the only one who can fight against a Zeruaga, is someone who has been poured the Zeruaga’s Authority.” (Riel)
That’s right. That’s why we were able to fight against Zeruaga Aggraias since we heard the ‘sound’ of her. The effect on Jean and I seemed to be low though.
“The problem is that Arianrhod’s Authority only works on the dead. Riel and I are both alive, and don’t have enough connection to her that can allow us to fight her. If it falls onto that, we will have no choice but to rely on you who has been affected by her Authority.” (Solje)
“Y-Yes!! I will certainly defeat her!!” (Jean)
“…It is the woman that tried to save you. This time around, use your power…to save her.” (Solje)
“Yes! …That is my justice as a mercenary, and it is also the justice of Mother at that time who felt compassion towards us!” (Jean)
“That’s right. I will also lift the ban for the last resort.” (Solje)
“!! Yes, I will offer the head of Arianrhod to Captain!!” (Jean)
“Yeah, this time around, I want to decorate our home with the head of a Zeruaga.” (Solje)
“Yes sir!” (Jean)
Jean is concentrating.
Umu, he is finally maturing well. If Garf saw this, he would be happy. He was also worried about you, you know? You were weak-willed and were really dependent after all.
But it looks like that was needless worry.
You can now feel killing intent towards someone that was your life savior. Yeah, there’s no need for hate or anger. The most precious aesthetic for the reason to kill a person is the justice that comes from your own convictions and philosophy.
It is cruel, right? That’s how mercenaries tick.
As the dead drunk Garf Cortez once said: “We are beautiful and cruel beasts.”
Jean Redwood, the day has come to surpass the beastkin and become a true beast (mercenary).
“…I am sorry for breaking the line of conversation, but…” (Riel)
“What’s the matter, Riel?” (Solje)
“What’s this ‘last resort’?” (Riel)
“…Activate the beastkin blood and make it go berserk.” (Solje)
“Berserk? Hooh, what will happen when you do that, wolf?” (Riel)
“…I will transform into one stage further.” (Jean)
“I see. And so, can you retain some remnants of sanity? If you try to attack me, I will kill you.” (Riel)
“…It is okay.” (Jean)
‘It is okay’ are words of men that sometimes you can’t trust.
But it looks like we can trust it today.
The face of a serious man is different.
“…I won’t kill my family…ever again.” (Jean)
“…Got it. I will trust you. When the time comes, feel free to use it as much as you want.” (Riel)
“Yes, Riel-neesan!!” (Jean)
Fufu, looks like we will be able to see some good teamwork—hm?
“…The walls…are these scribbles?” (Solje)
“Ah, you are right… This height…it must have been the children.” (Jean)
The drawing of children. Yeah, the line that shapes the contours is a complete mess, the head is way too big, doesn’t have a body, and the head has the arms and legs growing out from it.
It really is some terrible drawing, but they were all really colorful. The colors were abundant. How to say it, it is like they used the colors exactly as their heart dictated when they were drawing things like the flower field there.
If Sharon Doche were here, I wonder if he would have praised the words found in the lines of these drawings. I don’t know much about art, but I can at least tell that this piece reflects the heart of the artists.
——With many hands, the children were hugged by a smiling ‘monster’ that is colored in colors like pink and yellow. I know about it. As a dragon eye user, I can tell the meaning of those colors.
The fact that the children here loved that monster with many arms…Arianrhod.
We walk through this path that is colored by familial love.
And then…we entered an open space.
This is most likely a training hall.
The Bandit King and his subordinates must have hammered their swords and spears, and sweated to better their pillaging…and on those walls, there were more children drawings.
Did they allow drawings in this sacred training ground? If that’s the case…I really can’t bring myself to hate you…Mistral.
“…I was tired of waiting, Solje Strauss.”
Deep in the training hall, there was one undead knight leaning on the wall waiting for us.That’s why I get off from Byakuya.
“Sorry for the wait. I didn’t know what path you chose till the very end, you see.” (Solje)
“Did you get to know my heart?” (Mistral)
“No…but we are here and you are unsheathing your sword in a place like this. I can understand the meaning of that.” (Solje)
I also unsheathe my dragon longsword.
“Jean! Where’s Arianrhod?” (Solje)
“…She is there. She is standing by the side of Mistral…!” (Jean)
Really? …Shit, so it really is like that.
So it is impossible for me to even see or feel her? This is pretty humiliating as a magic eye user. I can’t feel anything at all at the side of Mistral!!
Is it like with Dorothy, where if they don’t try to get involved with us themselves, I wouldn’t have been able to see her? …This really is a troublesome enemy.
“…Captain Solje, what should we do?” (Riel)
Fumu, if Arianrhod won’t get involved with us, it might not be the time to use Aqua Aura yet.
If we can deal with them one by one, that would help us. It is not as if I have no reason to cut off the head of Arianrhod myself.
If she is on the same level as Aggraias…she must be a whole lot weaker than Mistral. Even so, she is a Zeruaga. We don’t know what she can do.
“What do we do? Should we use that?” (Riel)
“…No, it would be best for us if we defeat Mistral first before fighting Arianrhod with the three of us. Jean, keep an eye out. If there’s any movement, tell Riel.” (Solje)
“…Now then, this is the preliminary battle. Let’s settle the score with that guy first I suppose.” (Solje)
- Chapter 103
Putting the unsheathed sword on my shoulder, I walk towards him.
Mistral, who has his bones merge with his armor, is also approaching me.
When two knights with swords out are glaring at each other, there’s only one thing to do.
But it is not like there are no doubts. Why didn’t you destroy the Possession Crystal? Should I at least ask?
“…You, just what is it you want to achieve?” (Solje)
“…My duty as mercenary. For my pride as a knight.” (Mistral)
“I would be grateful if you were to be a bit more specific.” (Solje)
“There’s no point in talking details to someone that’s about to die.” (Mistral)
“Are you going to create a second you with my corpse?” (Solje)
“…That’s the wish of Arianrhod-sama.” (Mistral)
“That’s your reason for cutting me down?” (Solje)
“Part of it, but…I have lost three times. I can’t allow myself to lose anymore than that.” (Mistral)
“That sword is nice…” (Solje)
“You noticed, huh. It received the blessing of Arianrhod-sama. My sword won’t be broken in a clash anymore.” (Mistral)
“…Perfectly ready, huh. Two of your defeats have been because of the difference in weapons after all.” (Solje)
“Yeah, I am sorry for only using low quality until now. It won’t be like that this time around.” (Mistral)
“I see. Then…” (Solje)
“…Let’s begin.” (Mistral)
The moment the distance shortened, we both kicked off at exactly the same time -with enough strength to crack the ground. Changing that speed and bloodlust into power, we close on to each other!
The Ares dragon longsword and the demonic sword clad in Arianrhod’s spell cut the sacred silence of this training hall and a gale runs through it!!
The first attack that had our all had become a destructive sound as they clash!!
A clash of blades! There’s no song that’s more familiar than this in the battlefield!!
Our will and training, as well as the best of blades; this song that has all of those factors melt into one!!
While bathing in this supreme sound, the beasts living in the battlefield had their mouths warp into a smile!!
“You are doing well!!” (Solje)
“Umu, you too!! I was planning on breaking it apart with this one attack though.” (Mistral)
“That’s my line!!” (Solje)
Our blades separate from each other while sparks and words fly about. Right after, we clash once again. That’s right, there’s already no difference between the skeleton bastard and I.
In the first place, the difference in skill was slight, but…now that the difference between the quality of our swords -which was the ultimate defining factor- has disappeared, the difference between Mistral and I is as good as gone!
*Clank! Kin! Claaaank!!*
The burning sparks fly around this dance! The swords were bleeding. The horn of Ares and the prayer of Arianrhod were surging from the bodies of the swords and praising each other’s strength!!
“Kukuku!! Nice sword!!” (Solje)
“Of course! This sword has my 300 years and the heart of Arianrhod-sama in it!!” (Mistral)
Mistral takes a step forward. His legs are heavier than the time when we fought in the snowy field. Right, the reason is clear. The location of this dance is his home.
You polished your techniques here. You know each and every worn of this floor, proof of your zeal in the path you took.
In the past, I felt that your sword was lonely. That it is because of that loneliness that there was lightness to it.
But that’s different now! I can tell!! Seeing you swing your sword, the children who became undead must have admired you…!
Within this time where even an undead rotted, you alone continued walking on.
Crazy? Blasphemous? Heretic? Kukuku! That doesn’t matter! With strength of your degree, there’s no doubt it grabbed the heart of the children!!
Men admire knights, that’s just how they aretl!!
The knight that Yuri admired raised a shout, pushed me, and broke my stance!!
This is the first time since the time when I fought against Zephyr at that metallic reeking valley, that I had my stance broken by pure strength!!
“I won’t lose!! I can’t lose in this plaaaaaace!!” (Mistral)
The soul of Mistral bursts out and a downpour of strong sword attacks rain on me!
To think that he would push me to a point that it is one-sided!! Right, you are a Guardian after all! There’s no way a sword swung to protect your family would be light!
…Yeah, this guy, this Skeleton Bastard has been protecting this fortress for 300 years. In this place where the pitiful undead children were allowed to play by Arianrhod, you protected them with that sword and persistent soul of yours even when you ended up as bones…
What’s with you man…you are damn cool, Mistral!!
“Is this the time to be laughing, Solje Strauss?!” (Mistral)
“I always laugh whenever I want!!” (Solje)
“Then laugh and praise me when your head has been cut off!!” (Mistral)
*Gin! Clank!! Shwiiing!!*
The fiend dances. A combo of three attacks that were crazy heavy! I can tell from the blood (sparks) that are flying out from my dragon longsword and from your sword as well. This must have been a technique you had sealed.
Because your sword couldn’t endure the power of that technique, you weren’t able to use it until now!
My balance was broken, it was hard to get footing.
A big opening was created, and right after a swipe came from the side, but I managed to avoid it…half because of luck.
The slash that hit the tip of my chin caused me to bleed. It was thanks to the blade being too sharp. If it had been a dull sword, it would have shaken my brain before cutting the meat.
My legs stagger.
I see, then I have no other choice…
“N-No way, C-Captain is being pushed back?!” (Jean)
No need to worry… Even if his sword is shouldering the undead children…I am shouldering the strongest in the continent, the Banjar Mercenaries!!
“Just FAAAAAAALLLL!!” (Mistral)
I manage to shape a footwork with my staggering legs, and have my body dance.
1, 2, 3, 4…5!!
“Solje, you did it!!” (Riel)
“That’s Captain!! Managing to stop it even in that posture!!” (Jean)
“Hm?! This is…!!” (Mistral)
That’s right, you still lack experience, Jean. I didn’t just stop it. I am deflecting it. Those drunken movements were 90% me wobbling, but 10% of it came from my technique.
It is a step that my old man created. At the times when he lost a clash against a strong opponent. Losing a clash is something to be ashamed about, but offering your life because of it would be an insult to the Strauss.
If you are going to wobble, then wobble.
And then, fix your stance in an instant. Even when defeated, even when brought to your knees, as long as you immediately stand up, a devilish swordsman doesn’t die!!
Step, with a strength barbaric enough to explode the floor!!
“No doubt about it!! This is Devilish Swordsman Zado’s—!!” (Mistral)
“That’s right, the creation of grandfather, the Strauss’s Step!!” (Solje)
Plover. <It is called Chidori in Japanese.>
If you are shaky, then shake on purpose, and mix a counterattack within it. It is the brink of death resurrection sword style that my grandfather that hates to lose created!!
And from there…!!
“Dance of Five Swords!!” (Solje)
Five resounding strikes reverberate in the training hall!!
The dragon longsword bleeds out, but we still continue forward!
We are talking about a dragon and their swordsman, you know?!
Covered in blood? Right up our alley!
“This is unbelievable force. But I have seen this before in the past!!” (Mistral)
Mistral who managed to stop all five strikes tried to counterattack. Well, it was a light sword dance that came from a stance where I was losing. There’s no way it would have the strength to defeat a strong foe like him.
Mistral places his greatsword high above him as he rushes towards me.
“I trained my sword for 50 years after that!! Grandson of Zado!!” (Mistral)
“Of course you did… But…!!” (Solje)
An unexpected attack.
The 6th attack of my sword dance, Mistral defends against it reflexively. The attack posture he had crumbled, and he barely managed to stop it by using the blade of the greatsword!!
Nice movement!! As expected from the hero of the children playing in this forest!
“…This isn’t the same sword dance as the one that day…” (Mistral)
“You are not the only one who has continued walking.” (Solje)
We Garuna devilish swordsmen passed it on and continued evolving it.
Mistral, we can’t live 300 years like you. Not only that, many die young in the battlefield.
The red haired of our family were all reckless idiots.
But…each time we cut down enemies, our sword and hair dyes redder.
And each time we were cut down by enemies, our songs would dye redder.
…My second brother was beaten up to a pulp by my first brother. They were 2 years apart after all. He was truly destined to be beaten up. But it is because of that…that my second brother was able to evolve the sword song of the Strauss.
The tenacity that was succeeded from the song of grandfather; the Plover. He deepened it even further. The Dance of Five Swords that comes after the brink of death resurrection step…
My second brother added one more attack to it and turned it into a Dance of Six Swords.
“You, did you surpass Zado?!” (Mistral)
The swords cry as they scrape each other. Maybe he remembered my grandfather, the blue flaming eyes of his shake.
Could it be that he lost to this technique? If that’s the case, it would be destiny. Well, not that it matters. Don’t look at my grandfather anymore. Look at the new Strauss in front of you.
“…How’s that? Doing well, right?” (Solje)
“Y-Yeah!! You are great, Solje Strauss!!” (Mistral)
“No no, it wasn’t me.” (Solje)
“My brother’s technique…the blood of the Strauss, the song of the Strauss has been succeeded, and that tenacity was passed down to this attack.” (Solje)
Didn’t I tell you?
“…You are not the only one who has walked on for 50 years with the sword. The Strauss family…has passed on their blood, techniques, and songs!!” (Solje)
“W-What?! Y-You can bring out strength from this posture?!” (Mistral)
It is my turn from now on.
My three brothers that had a shitty personality and ogre-like strength, and the old dragon that doesn’t know how to hold back; a nice amount of bruises were made on the pitiful me.
I shouted that I didn’t want to continue losing all the time…so I trained like crazy, polished my natural strength, and this is the power I get!!
I will surpass the five strikes of grandfather!! The six strikes of my brother!!
By brute force!!
Sing! Like a manly dragon!!
Make my blood explode, bring the power to my dragon longsword, and fill it up!!
The swords released hot blood, and the metals turned red.
My stupid strength was pushing back the greatsword of Mistral. His legs stagger. But those steps of his didn’t have the technique, and it was simply crumbling completely.
Thus, I will surpass even my brother!!
I break the floor with my metallic sole, and dance in the air like a dragon.
That’s right, this is my song!!
“7th Sword!!” (Solje)
The dragon longsword that was swung down from the air pushed away the sword of the unbalanced Mistral and cut his body deep!!