The point I gave my attention to was that he made his chains explode without hesitation when I tried to land a surprise attack on him.
I can understand that he did this because he was wary of my trump card that defeated Rakura in one hit. But even if so, he pulled the trigger way too easily.
That’s when I noticed… Ekdoik is the type of guy that sacrifices his own body without hesitation when he falls into a fatal situation.
I didn’t feel like I would be able to hit my attacks no matter what I did. That’s why I needed to catch his attacks.
I repeated large swings that pointlessly exhausted me and received a direct hit in full. And then, I showed a moment where my consciousness was on the verge of flying away and invited carelessness.
I understood that Ekdoik isn’t the type of guy to pull a big move despite that. But I did know that his heart was shaking with a sense of inferiority towards Rakura.
In the end, Ekdoik attacked in the timing when Instinct-sama reacted. Thanks to that, I managed to catch the fist with my mouth just when Instinct-sama woke me up.
And then, he launched his knee with the intent of throwing away his arm just as I hoped for.
If I get two attacks I knew would be coming, it would of course be easy.
I don’t have super pretty close combat skills, but in terms of wrestling, I am leaps and bounds above him.
I managed to make Ekdoik fall and was going to smash my trump card onto his defenseless chest.
He must have tried to fight back despite that, Instinct-sama told me to be careful.
But that warning was not to the degree of threatening my life. I was going to accept some wounds on me, so I didn’t stop my hands and hit.
And yet, why am I the one in pain?!
My body was squealing in pain and I rolled on the ground. An unbelievable pain was assailing my right arm.
I opened my teary eyes in order to get a grasp of the situation and look at my arm. But I couldn’t see my own right arm.
My right arm was cleanly blown up from the shoulder down.
No wonder it hurts. Also, this situation is bad. Even if I try to gather my mana onto my shoulder with mana strengthening to stop the bleeding, I can’t gather it.
The mana channels around my shoulder have been completely blasted. My mana is not stabilizing at all.
Even an idiot like me can tell the reason as to why this happened. This is…
“What you should be cursing is the fact that you used that technique too much in front of my eyes. Your hidden trump card is to compress mana densely in a single point and have it explode. People who specialize in physical combat would normally do dense mana strengthening on their whole body. They would also always clad their weapon and the area around the arm just in case when attacking.” (Ekdoik)
Ekdoik stood up at some point in time and looked down at me.
Ekdoik should have been hit directly by my hidden trump card, and yet, his chest was simply a bit gouged.
Also, his appearance has changed slightly. His skin was wheat color as if it had been exposed to the sun for a long time, and his long hair was shining blue.
“You…bastard… Gaaah! Aaah!” (Haaku)
Even though I wanted to throw him words, screams of pain came out more than words.
It is pain that can take away my consciousness, and yet, that pain itself was forcing me awake.
“But that attack of yours concentrates the power only on the tip of it, creating a way too unstable state on purpose. If someone were to pull an attack like that, it would normally end up with both sides falling, but you created a minuscule barrier behind the compressed mana. Shaped like a bucket that the mana compressed into a ball can enter just right. You made it so the shockwave at the time of the mana exploding would concentrate on the front.” (Ekdoik)
He is explaining my hidden trump card as if rubbing it on my face that he has seen through it. He is not wrong.
Even if I were to use mana strengthening on my body, I didn’t have the body to endure the strengthening or the sufficient amount to perform it.
What I thought of was a method to concentrate all of it in one attack. The method of: it is fine as long as I smash my enemy with stupidly compressed mana.
But if I did that, there’s no doubt I would self-destruct. That’s why I decided to concentrate on two spots instead of just one.
The mana that I will make explode and the small barrier to protect myself.
I won’t aim to protect my body or my fists. Instead, just at the time when it explodes, I will make a barrier in a way so that it doesn’t face me.
“In theory, you can achieve high power with low mana. But the risk…goes without saying. The moment the barrier protecting yourself stops working in a satisfactory manner, that destructive power will bounce back at you. And what you want to know right now is ‘Why did I mess up even though I did the appropriate steps?’.” (Ekdoik)
That’s right! I didn’t mess up! I properly adjusted the barrier until the very moment the attack hit!
“The answer is this: the Eyes of Blindness. The technique of a devil that creates illusions.” (Ekdoik)
The pupils of Ekdoik that he showed by brushing away his bangs were not round but square shaped.
What’s with those eyes?! Are you a goat?!
“Haakudoku, you have been placing the mana compression at a set location. You must be able to do so even with your eyes closed. But the barrier you created to protect your body, you adjusted the coordinates of it by using your eyes, right? At the time when you were doing the surprise attack on the earth, I didn’t miss the fact that your gaze wasn’t directed at me but at the end of your right arm.” (Ekdoik)
“Your instincts might have been working even when you lost consciousness, but your detection magic was undone at that moment. I tinkered with your vision before you used your trump card. It was a really small change. One that made it look like the area around your fist feels slightly further away. You must have thought you placed a barrier behind the mana you were igniting, but the reality is that you put it in front. Also, I concentrated the defense on my chest…but it makes sense I wouldn’t come out unscathed.” (Ekdoik)
So that’s why my trump card went the completely opposite direction?!
Of course my right arm would be blown up cleanly if such power were to be smashed onto it!
But I can’t accept it even with that. I am the one that brought the situation there.
I shook the heart of Ekdoik and led it to that conclusion! Are you telling me he had the leeway to pull off such a move even when cornered?!
“It is hard for people to move immediately when their mind has been taken advantage of. But I have already had an experience like this before. I was shaken in a far slier manner than yours. That’s why I have been prepared to get caught in a snare of yours the moment you were talking about Rakura. It is good that your shaking was easy to tell. That said, it is your win just by the fact that I got caught in it though.” (Ekdoik)
I could tell immediately who Ekdoik was talking about.
It is that man. That black haired guy…! As if I would be able to take there being more than one of that abomination of a guy!
“You really were strong. Haakudoku, I pay my utmost respects to your strength.” (Ekdoik)
“…Don’t…joke around…! Acting…as if you have already…won!” (Haaku)
My molars broke. Even so, I don’t stop gritting my teeth. I forcefully pour mana onto my right arm screaming in intense pain. I can still stand up.
It is true that my trump card has been bested. My right arm has been blown clean off. But that’s all it is.
I still have my left arm. I still have both legs. Hell, I even have my teeth!
I have not lost yet. It is not over yet!
I jump towards Ekdoik and swing my left arm.
Ekdoik easily avoided my attack and grabbed my left shoulder.
And then, a cracking sound rang.
It hurt, but it is nothing compared to the pain of losing my right arm.
In that case, there’s no issue at all. Even if a bone or two are broken…it won’t move?!
My left arm is just hanging and not reacting one bit.
“I dislocated your joint. I know that you won’t stop with just pain alone after all. Did your instincts warn you? Even if it were, you already can’t do movements that can follow it.” (Ekdoik)
“Who cares if my arm can’t move!” (Haaku)
I opened my jaw and rushed towards the neck of Ekdoik.
But Ekdoik kicked both of my legs with the slightest of movements and made me fall.
I tried to get up, but I have no right arm and my left arm can’t move.
Even if I put strength on my head to get up, I was slipping from my own blood and couldn’t get up.
I kicked the floor a whole lot, leaned against the wall, and forcefully got up.
“Stop it already. There’s no point in further battle.” (Ekdoik)
“Don’t just end it as you please! I can still fight… It is not over yet!” (Haaku)
“No, your battle has ended, Haakudoku.”
Chills. Instinct-sama reacted.
The voice I heard from behind… There’s no way I would hear it wrong.
That man was standing there when I looked back. The female knight was by his side.
Instinct-sama was going haywire and was on the verge of taking away my consciousness, but the pain of my right arm was barely blocking me from fainting.
“Oh, not fainting this time around? Looks like you are fine when adrenaline is pumping. Rather, I am impressed that you can move with those wounds.”
The man looked at my appearance and made a pained expression… I feel like his atmosphere is strangely different from before.
Not only that. Instinct-sama is strangely meek…? No, it is still kicking me as usual though.
It is simply a difference between constant high kicks to constant low kicks. Both hurt!
“Sorry…Comrade. I—” (Ekdoik)
“Ekdoik, let’s talk about that later. Mix has already secured Rakura. It seems like a number of ribs were broken, but there’s no risk to her life. Ain’t that great?”
“…I see.” (Ekdoik)
“And so, Haakudoku, give up already. There’s no point in you fighting here anymore.”
“As I said…don’t just decide—!” (Haaku)
“We have already secured Gestaf Heriodora.”
Bro?! As if that’s possible! Bro ran ahead of me and should already be…
“Your face says you don’t believe me. Wolfe has…oh, there they are.”
Someone ran here from ahead of the tunnel. The white hair demi-human girl that made me think of Yugura. And by her side there’s…!
“Shishou, I have brought him with me!” (Wolfe)
Bro had both arms and legs restrained. His mouth is wrapped with a cloth, but his eyes are open. He doesn’t seem to be injured either.
“You can believe me with this, right?”
“Oi, let go of Bro! Just how…!” (Haaku)
“Haakudoku, my biggest worry was you. It is not that your battle prowess was scary, I’ll have you know. Your type ends up making a mess in these scenarios the most. I felt that cornering Gestaf the normal way had the chance of being flipped over because of you. There really are those types of people sometimes: the type whose instincts worked strangely well in situations like this. That’s why I decided to have you do a whole lot of work at a different location.”
The man was making a face as if finding this a true hassle. Did he have a bitter experience with a guy like me before? Not like that’s any of my business though?!
“Are you telling me you pulled me and Bro apart on purpose? Ekdoik and Rakura didn’t show signs of tha—” (Haaku)
“I set it up so that’s what would happen. I kept reminding them to be wary of you, and made it so they prioritized dealing with you. I knew that you would eventually decide to stay behind to protect the rear.”
“Wa?! So you didn’t instruct your comrades?!” (Haaku)
“People do a better job when led naturally to that decision instead of just outright giving the order. You guys are misunderstanding the premise to begin with. You took the underground route because the residence was surrounded. You thought you would be able to escape with that. I wasn’t certain whether you had an underground passage, but it is natural to assume you have one or two methods to escape the house, right?”
“I spread out around 100 soldiers in the perimeter of the house, but I actually dispatched soldiers on the whole Kuama capital. The moment Rakura found the underground passage, she sent a signal to us. That’s why I immediately knew that you were running east, so I gathered the soldiers east and secured the area around the exit. By the time Gestaf came out from the exit, he was completely surrounded by Kuama soldiers.”
These guys were cutting off the escape route of Bro Gestaf while I was fighting Rakura?!
“Also, this would become a reading between me and Gestaf if you are not present. If it is an opponent that’s just a few notches sharper than Robito and Chenias, there’s no issue.”
There’s no shred of a bluff in the words of the man.
He is seriously confident that he can win in a reading battle against Bro Gestaf.
“I assumed all the houses that Gestaf owned in the eastern side had exits, so I went through the arrangements of the soldiers, and crushed the routes that he could go to one by one. He was alone, so it was easy to seize him. I came here ahead of them, and had Wolfe carry Gestaf here in a relatively gentle way. That’s basically how it went. If there’s any questions, I am all ears.”
“Every route, one by one…in such a short period of time…?” (Haaku)
“You…do you have any idea how long you have been fighting Ekdoik?”
I realized after being told this. How many times have I been punched by him once we switched to fisticuffs? My sense of time is still dulled because of the pain in my body.
“You didn’t think Rakura and Ekdoik would lose?!” (Haaku)
“I read that there was a high chance Rakura would lose. That’s why I had Ekdoik come at once, but I knew that Ekdoik would take the fighting style that buys time regardless of if he won or lost. It is our win if we secure Gestaf. I simply utilized our time effectively. It wouldn’t take much time against Gestaf who doesn’t have his right hand after all.”
This battle was a battle to see whether Bro could escape or not. That’s why this man was thorough…and sealed the wildcard that was Instinct-sama.
He took away the miraculous warning of Instinct-sama, and cornered him with no hesitation.
I was made to believe I was helping out by defeating Rakura and fighting Ekdoik.
He moved with the confidence that he would be able to win as long as he did something about me!
“Wolfe, let Gestaf speak.”
“Yes! Excuse me!” (Wolfe)
The demi-human girl takes off the cloth around the mouth of Bro. Bro coughed for a bit and fixed his breathing.
“…Haakudoku, we lost. It is okay now.” (Gestaf)
I don’t want to hear such pathetic words from the mouth of Bro!
Bro would always smile boldly, and would achieve things that I wouldn’t even dream of being able to!
It is because I…I couldn’t be of help to Bro! It is because I am like this that…!
It is all this guy’s fault… Him…!
I glare at the man. The female knight was about to grab her sword, but the man stopped her.
Bring it on. You think I can’t raise a hand at you?!
“Haakudoku, stop it! Are you planning on throwing away your life?!” (Gestaf)
“I am…the right hand of Bro…of Gestaf Heriodora! Bro is not the type of person to end here! My duty is to protect Bro! As long as this guy is gone, Bro can still—!” (Haaku)
“Stop it! I simply picked you up because I thought your instincts could be useful…because I thought you could become a convenient tool! I would have used you like a sacrificial pawn if necessary! Doing that much for a man like that is just—” (Gestaf)
“Even if so, you still needed me!” (Haaku)
“I detected danger faster than anyone, was more of a scaredy cat than anyone, would bawl my lungs out, and was unhandy! I was thrown away by my parents because of this power rooted in me! I had no allies, was alienated because I was creepy, would draw animosity, and within that hellish life, the one who acknowledged me and said I was useful…that I had worth was Bro! I don’t mind being an object. You gave me a reason to live; worth, meaning! If I go through with that, I wouldn’t have anything left!” (Haaku)
I knew that Bro was using me for Instinct-sama in order to protect himself.
I knew a long time ago that he raised me all the way to his right hand and kept me by his side because of this.
But on the day my parents threw me away, at the day when I was cut off as unnecessary and had lost myself, the one who found me…who picked me up was Bro!
“Even an idiot like me knows how troublesome it is to take over a country! Even so, you still said it, Bro! That you wanted to make a country where people like me can find a place to be! Even if that was just a pipe dream, it was an utopia that I wanted to obtain even if it meant crushing Kuama!” (Haaku)
“Bro…please don’t lower yourself… It may be true that you picked me up because you wanted to use me… But I know that you treasured me a great deal in places I can’t think of. You are a truly warm person… I am sure you will be able to create the best ideal country!” (Haaku)
I was satisfied with being used at first. But Bro thought of me as a true son.
That was really…really comfortable. That’s why if it is for the sake of Bro…
This man alone… I have to do something about this man at the very least.
This man alone who is threatening the future of Bro!
I am surrounded by monsters. Any careless move will be immediately crushed.
But it is not like I have no cards. In this position…
“Haah… Are you an idiot? There’s no way a country without you could become the ideal country of Gestaf.”
“He went as far as trying to push you away in order to stop you, you know? Even an idiot should be able to tell that he treasures you, right?”
“Even if so…if I can kill you with my sacrifice, Bro will certainly be able to get closer to his ideals! I am certain that you are someone that I must get rid of, just like you were sure I was dangerous!” (Haaku)
“…If you kill me, there’s no doubt someone from here will kill you and Gestaf too…but threatening you like that would lack class, so I will break your heart with words. Even if Gestaf were to overthrow Kuama and create a country from the dredges, what would happen to the people who didn’t agree to this?”
“It may not go as far as slaughtering everyone, but they will most likely be exiled from the country. Those people will have trouble feeding themselves, and once the rations run low, there will be times when the children will be culled to reduce the mouths to feed. It will be even more tragic than your situation. They will have no choice but to throw away people they value, not because they want, but because they have to. You understand that taking over a country troubles people, so you must have thought about the skeletons that follow along, right? Well, we are talking about you here, so you might separate them as necessary sacrifices. You might have given up on it and called it the fate of the people that go against the ideals of Gestaf. Do you want to see Gestaf ruling over a fake utopia that was created from compromise? Were you looking for a path where Gestaf was led into a stupid machination without aiming for the place he truly wanted and getting eaten in the process?”
“Shut up! All of that is necessary in order to obtain the country!” (Haaku)
He has valid points. He is showing me all those things I was averting my gaze from and shoving them in my face.
“I see. So you would do anything for the sake of Gestaf obtaining a country.”
“That’s right! For the sake of that, you—” (Haaku)
“Then, I shall give you a country.”
What did this guy say just now? Give…a country?
The people around were also dumbstruck by this.
“What are you dumbfounded for? You don’t care whatever the result is as long as Gestaf can obtain a country, right? Then, you don’t care if it is through my strings?”
“N-No no! There’s no way you can do that!” (Haaku)
“What. You can trust in Raheight and his fishy group, and yet, you don’t believe in my words?”
I don’t feel a single sign of lies from this guy. But if he is seriously saying that, my brain will seriously blow up.
“You think we can trust you?!” (Haaku)
“Well, it would be impossible for you to understand with your brain.”
“What an utterly rude guy!” (Haaku)
“Gestaf, you have heard about how many Demon Lords have joined hands with me, right?”
“…Yellow Demon Lord, Purple Demon Lord, and Blue Demon Lord, right?” (Gestaf)
“That’s right. But call the Yellow Demon Lord as the Gold Demon Lord. The Demon Lords can control the monsters that exist in the Nether that they created. The devils in the Mejis Nether of the Purple Demon Lord have already been calmed, and the Nether is being purified at a speed unheard of. You know that much, right?”
“…Yeah. I have heard that through the Yugura Church.” (Gestaf)
“The Mejis Nether is difficult since it is entangled in a complicated manner inside Mejis, but I can give you the other Nether. You should be able to found a nation if you have land, right?”
“D-Don’t joke around! As if you can found a nation inside a Nether!” (Haaku)
“A Nether becomes land that people can live in after you finish purifying it. It is not possible to purify the Nethers adjoined with Kuama and Gahne. Even if it is purified, monsters would be around, so you wouldn’t be able to manage this land properly. But I can provide my support.”
“The Gahne Nether was created by the Scarlet Demon Lord after all. I can’t eliminate the danger of monsters completely, but we could use the monsters of the Purple Demon Lord that have to retreat from the Mejis Nether as bodyguards to help reclaim the land. That would be after driving away the Scarlet Demon Lord though. As for the Kuama Nether, the Blue Demon Lord herself is present. You should be able to use the monsters as good manpower.”
“You are talking about…using monsters…?” (Haaku)
My head is currently in chaos. What is this guy saying? Speaking madness that even an idiot like me can’t keep up with. But can he do it? Seriously?
“B-But if the Gahne Nether and Kuama Nether are purified, Gahne and Kuama would say it is their territory!” (Haaku)
“I don’t know about Kuama. It would depend on how well the negotiation with King Zenotta goes, you know?”
“W-What about Gahne?!” (Haaku)
“There’s no issues with Gahne. I will shut them up.”
“What kind of power relationship do you have?!” (Haaku)
“…Are you serious?” (Gestaf)
“Bro, he is saying it from the heart, but this is not something you can believe in!” (Haaku)
“We are calling ourselves the 3rd Faction, but the only thing resembling territory is the villa in Taizu.”
“That’s still our wonderful territory though!”
The female knight butted in without delay. Aah, this woman is a knight of Taizu, huh. Makes sense.
I do hear often that the knights there are nuts.
“And so, the 3 Demon Lords are currently freeloaders in the territory of a nation. There’s the need for a place to leave the monsters of the Mejis Nether and Kuama Nether that will be purified eventually. I would like to manage the Nether there after securing it. We will decide the general policies, but I would like to leave the management of the internal affairs in the country to you, Gestaf.”
“…Why me?” (Gestaf)
“If it is about a suitable person for the role, there’s other people. I do think Robito and Chenias aren’t bad options either. But that faithful dog of yours is pushing you so hard, so I just thought it would be fine to raise you to first place candidate… Ain’t it great that Rakura came out fine?”
“Founding a new nation…in a land where monsters obey… I don’t think it will shape up in a satisfying form in the time I am alive.” (Gestaf)
“We probably won’t be able to gather people properly at first either. But it is the founding of a nation that you can get involved in from step one.”
Bro closed his eyes and delved in his thoughts. There’s no doubt he is imagining the scenery of the nation with an unknown future.
And then, he slowly opened his eyes. There’s not a single shred of hesitation in his eyes.
They are straightforward eyes fitting of Bro.
“…Got it. I shall get on this sketchy ride.” (Gestaf)
“Alright. And so, Haakudoku, Gestaf has joined our side. What will you do?”
“T-There’s nothing to do! I am the right hand of Bro! Of course I will follow Bro!” (Haaku)
“The right hand has no right hand though.”
“Leave me be! …Ah, my body…” (Haaku)
The kicks of Instinct-sama began to ring in my brain along with the pain when I relaxed.
Ah, no good. I am gonna lose consciousness. Plop.