SETP Vol. 1 Chapter 11
Chapter 11 – Illusion
“….who is that?”
A man in a navy blue military uniform frowned and spoke in a troubled tone. The man, a commander sent from Beredhia, one of the countries engaging in war against Afillis, spoke while looking at the scene of carnage before him.
“He’s not from Afillis…different clothing.”
The Afillis kingdom was quite literally pushed until its back against the wall. Despite that, would they save this kind of fighting power?
In that case, it had to be reinforcements.
“A kingdom with ties to Afillis…”
A kingdom that would send reinforcements despite knowing about Afillis’ disadvantage…
The man then recalled a fluttering red flag spotted the day before. There’s only one country with red on their flag.
The kingdom of Diestburg and the kingdom of Afillis had formed a pact, in fact. The man surely hailed from there, but still something didn’t click.
“That country isn’t supposed to have any “Heroes”, though…”
Only a “Hero” would be able to perform a massacre of such extent on their own. In this era, the services of “Heroes” were obtained through exceptional rewards and treatment, seeking their assistance in times of war: more and more countries formed such power relationships with them.
The Diestburg kingdom, however, was a prime example of a country refusing to seek the services of “Heroes”. There is no need for such seeds of conflict in our kingdom, they had said. What would follow was just a violent scramble for land and resources. Because of this, they did not look down on “Heroes”, but would not actively try to gain their assistance either.
“May I have a word, Count?”
“Oh my, Sir Rabal. What is the matter?”
The second son of a marquis household in Beredhia, Rabal Calentia. While he was not in line to inherit the title of marquis, his position required the man called count to address him with respect.
“The fallen soldiers are…about one thousand. That is not an issue per se, as the gap between our forces is still vast. Even if we have lost one thousand troops, our victory is still certain.”
“What do you want to say, then?”
“The issue is, the identity of the man that caused this massacre…”
“Sir Rabal, you know that man?”
“Count, can you not see it…!? His uniform might be stained with blood, but that is undoubtedly…the mark of the Diestburg royal family!!”
“….what did you say?”
The count’s eyes opened wide in surprise. He had thought that that man’s attire looked too well-groomed for a soldier’s. The enemies’ blood staining his uniform enhanced the man’s noble-looking figure even more. That’s the reason why the count did not notice.
“If so, what? The man standing there is a member of the royal family?”
Indeed, if in the Diestburg royal family there was someone with abilities on par with a “Hero”, there was no need to seek the services of one.
In that case there would be no need to undertake pointless risks either. “Heroes” are always very volatile elements. When will they betray? How long will they stay? It all depended on them.
“There is no other possible explanation.”
Rabal presented a choice for the commander to make.
If a member of the Diestburg royal family had indeed obtained superhuman abilities on par with a “Hero”, he had to be dealt with immediately, or he would turn into a much greater problem.
Many “Heroes” were selfish and whimsical. Most of them thought they were special, that they couldn’t possibly lose to anyone, they had far too much pride. There were exceptions, of course, but they were few and far in between.
The Diestburg kingdom, however, could move a “Hero” freely. From another country’s standpoint, it was fundamental to erase such a potentially dangerous element right then and there.
“…I suppose there’s only one choice.”
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. A “Hero” for a “Hero”.
Among the soldiers’ screams of agony, a very different laughing voice could clearly be heard.
There was only one way to stop the swordsman’s rampage, as the carnage before them clearly stated.
“Your Highness, you…”
Feli’s tone was sad. But I continued to laugh, to swing my blade. Cries of agony echoed in the battlefield. My “Spada” continued to deliver fatal strikes, without sparing the frightened soldiers running away from the battlefield.
Warriors that run away from you might become a threat again in the future. Thus, one swing, one kill. If they confronted you with a weapon, they must be killed without hesitation. Do not let anyone flee. If you don’t want to die, become a demon. If you want to live, throw everything away and turn into a true beast.
That is how I was raised.
Blood danced in the air. Every time I swung my sword, new fresh blood decorated the void.
“…it’s not a pretty sight, is it? If you’re hurting, get back within the castle walls. It’s all right. No one will pass through here.”
When the troops cut down by my “Spada” exceeded about one thousand…
There were no soldiers around me anymore. The remaining soldiers retreated, keeping their distance, and built a new formation in order to take me down. Thus I thought it was my last chance to speak on this battlefield.
Even out of politeness, it would be hard to say that I was a person that laughed often. Yet now I laughed, loudly, continuously. It was a bizarre sight.
Feli knew how many times I said I didn’t want to wield a sword, and her question came from that, I think.
I keep my defiant attitude, though. In the past, I would have replied that it was painful, maybe. But that was the past me. Even if I said something like that then, it would be just a bunch of lies.
Feli wouldn’t be satisfied with something like that.
I had decided never to hold a sword again. An action I was doing just that at the moment, though. I had my “Spada” in my hands, for the sake of protecting someone else.
I was protected all that time, but at that moment, I finally wielded my sword to protect someone else. Thinking about it, I felt like laughing. When did I start thinking that I was a strong person capable of protecting others?
I did not dislike the reason itself, however. On the contrary, I had to say I liked it quite a bit. I mean…
“I have taken a sword *once again* in order to protect others. Such an act is the opposite of solitude.”
Solitude…is painful. When I was suffering in solitude, how many times had I thought about how desperately I wished to see my mentor and the others? How I wanted to talk to them, how I wanted to go back in time.
In reality, everyone was gone. Even so, I did my best to live on. I tried to live, to survive, and broke down.
If I could be free of that pain, I would gladly kill. So don’t look at me with those sad eyes. Okay?
“You have nothing to be sad about now. I took the sword out of my own free will, I kill out of my own free will too.”
So she had nothing to be concerned about, and yet. The more time passed, the more Feli seemed about to cry.
<<You’re as easy to read as ever.>>
I could hear my mentor’s words. Oh right…I wasn’t laughing any longer.
My mentor always told me that I looked sad whenever I swung my sword. Feli might have noticed.
“I knew it.”
Feli caught the words that slipped out of my mouth and continued, as if she confirmed what she had a hunch of all this time.
“That’s a fake laugh. You’re so bad at it, Your Highness.”
I realized that no matter what I said, I would be digging my own grave, so I kept quiet.
“Well, you see…”
I ruffled my hair, struggling to find the words to continue.
“I’m not as— ”
As weak as you think. I was about to say it, when a breeze brushed against my cheeks. A very strange breeze.
In response to this unnatural phenomenon, I grip my “Spada” with more strength. Then…
The dull sound of clashing metal echoed in front of Feli.
“….weren’t you taught not to bother other people when they were talking? Woman.”
“Wow, you parried that?”
A woman who was about 20 years old appearance-wise responded.
Her armor was light, but her weapon was a broadsword.
No, maybe her armor was light because of the weight of the broadsword. The woman put some distance between us, looking at us carefully.
“Head maid. Did you see that?”
“….my apologies. I couldn’t.”
My question meant to confirm if she could have parried the attack or not. Even I managed to block it only thanks to my instincts. I wasn’t fully focused, that’s true, but the enemy was clearly dangerous.
“Go back inside the castle then.”
I implied that she would only be in the way. When I mastered the use of my “Spada”, there was no one else with me anymore. So I would find it difficult to fight with someone close to me.
“And you think I’ll let you?”
Feli quickly turned towards the castle, but the woman interjected with a menacing tone.
“Do *you* think I will let you do anything, woman?”
I send the woman’s words right back at her.
“I don’t remember asking for permission.”
“Then you can die now.”
There was a large distance between me and the woman. Much too large for a sword to reach her. But even so…
There is nothing my “Spada” cannot do.
“Spada – Slash”
I swung my sword. A simple act, but as my swing ended, a crescent blade appeared and rushed towards the woman, carving the ground in its wake.
“Something like that…”
Can’t stop me!
With a rather haughty attitude, the woman dodged the slash with ease. That same moment…
“Are you stupid?”
I appeared on the very spot she dodged to, as if I had seen the future, my sword held high.
I ignored the woman’s surprise and swung down. Her broadsword couldn’t make it in time, and the moment I thought I would see fresh blood spurting forth…
My sword hit the woman’s body, which dissolved into mist. Then, the voice of the woman I was supposed to have cut down was heard from somewhere else.
No, that’s not it. The truth is…
“…it didn’t feel like I cut anything.”
“Of course you didn’t. What you cut was just an illusion I made. No way it “feels” like anything.”
“So you’re the “Hero”.”
“Yup, your chances to win are zero. Be a good boy and die, okay? Little Prince.”
What a nostalgic word. I do remember meeting a user of illusions before.
<<I mean, illusions…isn’t that like cheating?>>
<<Whuaaaatttt!?! Listen to this guy, casually dissing my bloodline technique like that!! Cheating!? No damn way!! I mean, against people like that mentor of yours they don’t mean anything, you know? That bastard always manages to hit the real me no matter how many illusions I use…he ain’t human, I tell ya. Anyway, if you think it’s cheating, it’s just a sign that you’re still weak, ***.>>
<<Don’t put me on the same level as my mentor. I’m normal, you know.>>
<<Yeah, I guess so. Sorry about that. Don’t you think it’s unreal, though?>>
The man with dreadlocks continued, after a sigh of surrender.
<<To find the position of something using senses other than sight. And to respond at that speed. I just can’t believe it, man.>>
He looked like he was raising a white flag, as there was no way for him to compete against that. In my eyes, my mentor was surely incredible, but the man with dreadlocks had swordsmanship far beyond the boundaries of common sense too.
Yet, even paired with his illusion attacks, it was easy work for my mentor to neutralize him. I felt like I would never match my mentor, no matter how long I lived.
<<If you ever face an illusion user, though, why not give it a try? I think it’s a pretty good counter, honestly.>>
I smiled after reminiscing and closed my eyes. The woman probably took it as a sign that I had given up on the fight: she still took the precaution of hiding her true body with illusions, but then swung her sword, aiming for my neck.
A strike followed by a rumbling gust of wind. Yet even so…
What was scattered was not fresh blood, but only sparks. A dull sound of clashing metal echoed.
Clashing blades with the woman revealed the position of her real body, hidden by the illusions…
“There you are.”
Without hesitation, I bring down my sword. The woman hurriedly stepped back, so this time too I did not feel like I cut anything.
Because of her illusions and her style of killing while playing with the opponent’s life, the woman had the second name of “Game of Illusions”. Her actual name was Idies Farizard.
She was the reason why Afillis was brought to its knees, a swordsman who earned the title of “Hero” thanks to her illusion techniques.
Her affinity with me, however, was as bad as it gets. The reason was simple: I had once met a user of illusions stronger than her. Overwhelmingly so. If I had to face that dreadlocks man, things would probably be different, but compared to him she was clearly inferior.
Once again I put on a laugh, to wield my sword. Then, as if taunting her, I spoke. My eyes still closed.
“Come at me, illusion user. I will break your confidence down to pieces.”