SETP Vol. 2 Bonus Story

Bonus Story – A Past Long Gone

My reason to live was my duty.

My reason to live was that I was protected.

My reason to walk forward was admiration.

My reason to walk forward was wanting to protect.

I wanted to be strong. Strong enough to let nothing stand in the way of my goals.

I wanted to be strong. Strong enough to be able to kill anything. Strong enough to fulfill the wishes entrusted to me.

In a maelstrom of malice, death swarmed everywhere.

A world of solitude, crowded with nothing but enemies. I was alone, condemned to live as earnestly as I could, swinging my sword. That’s the only thing I could do.

What supported my heart, my sole pillar, was merciless slaughter. And each one of the words left to me by the dying.

Those were the forces that moved me.

There were no other reasons.

I had no other reasons to live.

There was no one to tell me the answer.

Everyone had left me. They had all died. Died while entrusting me with their emotions.

I was alone. No one was at my side. Those days of happiness slipped through my fingers so long ago…I was completely alone.

But the “answers” they taught me lived inside me. They had entrusted their emotions to me, so I had to keep their “answers” within. Live on and you’ll find the “answer”. I would blindly believe in their words and find it. The “answer” at the end of it all.

And…and…

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I had to live on.

I had to swing my sword.

I had to…I have to kill.

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And. And.

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I had to find the “answer”.

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And. And. And. 

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This flame, this life they allowed to burn, must never go out. It must continue to shine.

.

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And. And…!

Andandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandand

andandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandand

andandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandand

andandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandandand

andandandand…

.

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I had to live, no matter what.

That was my repentance, the duty placed upon me. The relay baton I was given.

.

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I had to carry it out, even if my body crumbled to dust. I had to at least kill the “Peddler” and the “Abomination”, who tormented them throughout their lives.

I had to kill this whole, wrong world.

◆◆◆

<<I’m sorry, boy. I didn’t want to leave this cross for you to bear.>>

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I heard a voice.

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<< — You don’t need me anymore, right? Don’t cry, Shizuki. You can walk on your own now.>>

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I heard…a voice.

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<< — Sorry?? Whuaatt? If you got time to waste saying that, go and kill one “Abomination” or two! I’m just going to sleep early, that’s all. So….don’t go bawling like that, you useless hunk!!>>

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I…I heard…a voice.

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<< — I like you so much, Shizuki.>>

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I heard…a v…v…vo…

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<< — We’ll meet again, I know it.>>

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I…voice. I heard a…

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My sight blurred.

It twisted, darkened, changed, like a window struck by a drizzle. But I had no time to lose by delving in that world.

I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand.

<<—–GAH>>

An unpleasant cry reached my ears.

My field of view was filled with “Abominations”…more than I cared to count. The final form of the “salvation” preached by the “Black Peddler”.

A hideous figure like that was proof of salvation? Where?

Even if it would actually lead to some sort of salvation, I would refuse to take part in any of it.

The “things” — they didn’t even deserve to be called living beings — which had willingly abandoned their reason and intellect, howled, raged.

They preached his “salvation”, in a hellish cry that couldn’t be described as speech.

<<GHAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!>>

A chorus of inhuman sounds.

<<…one slash, one kill.>>

I raised the black sword — the “Spada” in my hand and spoke in a cold, dry tone. I had lost any pity. I didn’t have the slightest compassion for them. I would never hesitate.

I would slaughter the “Abominations”. Nothing more, nothing less.

Their hideous cries echoed in my ears.

Disgusting voices, inspiring physical discomfort in those who heard them.

The “Abominations”’ target was me. They advanced, covering several meters with each step. One more leap and they’d be right next to me.

My course of action was already decided. It was too early to use the words of the person I admired more than anyone, but I stabbed my “Spada” on the ground.

The number of “Abominations” heading towards me were about 50.

That didn’t mean anything, however. They could not become an obstacle on my path.

I imagined a mountain of swords. A barren wasteland where only ashes danced. A hill of gravestones where no one could stand.

The sunlight peered through the clouds. There were plenty of shadows in the surroundings. The conditions were not bad.

<< Kill — >>

I said to the world, with silent anger in my words.

<< — Spada.>>

Shadows of killing intent ran on the ground.

Pure, unbridled hate. That clear avatar of my emotions spread everywhere at incredible speed, and suddenly the “Abominations” were stopped in their tracks.

Soon enough, abhorrent screams filled the surroundings as countless “Spada” rose and pierced through their bodies, creating blood-red flowers.

Rough, split flowers decorated the barren ground.

<<Don’t get in my way…>>

My face twisted in anger, I didn’t even spare a glance to the “Abominations” around me and stepped forward.

Soon after, there was the sound of footsteps on sand.

I was walking while looking down, and slowly raised my head when I heard it.

An “Abomination” slightly different than the others was staring at me, its eyeballs almost out of its sockets.

A unique kind of “Abomination”.

That kind of different species was called “Mutant” by me — by us.

It carried a sword.

A very large sword it had picked up from who knows where. The blade was probably longer than I was tall.

It mattered little, however. It wasn’t going to change anything.

<<…..with you.>>

My voice was rough, raspy.

<<Off with you.>>

I moved my stiff legs and pointed the tip of my “Spada” at the “Mutant”.

As soon as I did, shadow blades rose from the shadows. The eerily glowing swords, pointed towards the sky, pierced the “Mutant”’s shadow.

But no flowers bloomed.

Only pitch-black swords facing upwards, alone. The “Mutant” was nowhere to be seen.

It had instantly disappeared from my sight.

Even if I couldn’t chase it with my eyes, however, I still had my ears. My nose.

Thus I swung my “Spada” to my side, despite the fact that nothing seemed to be there.

As soon as I did, sparks the color of dusk scattered in the surroundings.

<<Ghaah….ah…>>

Our swords clashed and locked. How could he parry? How can he keep me at bay, despite our clear difference in mass? These and other doubts starkly appeared in the “Mutant”’s dreadful eyes.

<<A sword isn’t something you swing only on raw power…don’t you look down on it…!>>

A crack ran through the blade of the “Mutant”’s greatsword.

<<Besides, if you thought that piece of junk could match my “Spada”, you never even had a chance>>

The greatsword’s blade was chipped in the exchange and its cracks grew more and more apparent. 

The “Mutant” likely understood it wouldn’t hold any longer. It stopped pushing it against my “Spada” and tried putting distance between us, but — 

<<Too late.>>

I spat my words while looking at the beast with contempt in my expression, as if laughing at such a strategy.

The atmosphere changed.

Something oozed out of my “Spada”. A sort of black shadow extended from the blade, then a voice shook the atmosphere.

<<Spada – Slash>>

An attack created when our swords were still locked.

The black slash born from my “Spada” cleaved my field of sight in two. Only the remains of the greatsword fell on the ground, however. Accompanied by a spattering of blood.

<<Ghah— >>

The “Mutant”, which seemed to believe that superiority in mass meant superiority in strength, now had a completely different look on its face. They were filled with hate and resentment. What followed was on the complete opposite side of the spectrum from my cold gaze.

<<GGHHHHAAAAHHHHH!!!>>

A roar of anger, of unbridled fury, thundered through the atmosphere.

My blade had reached the beast’s trunk-like neck: a slash mark stretched diagonally close to the cervix, dripping blood.

Seeing its own blood pushed the “Mutant” into a rage.

“Mutants” and “Regulars”.

The difference between the two kinds of “Abominations” was simply their strength. They were on clearly different levels.

“Mutants” not only had stronger muscles, but also enhanced senses and physical prowess: their skin was harder, etc.

In other words, “Mutants” were the kings of the “Abomination” world since birth. Which made them hopelessly arrogant. They all had a meaningless pride.

They thought of themselves as strong, more than anyone else.

So they howled. They shouted, wailed, roared in anger— 

<<AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!>>

It thundered again.

The “Mutant” approached me and its massive body looked the largest I had seen that day. It was rushing towards me to strike me down with its lethal claws.

I was completely calm, though.

I would never lose my cool.

Because I had already—

<<If you think you’ve caught me by surprise, think again….!!!>>

—I had already swung my sword.

A solid sound of metal echoed soon afterwards.

The sound of a metallic clash, which would hardly be associated with the clash of claws and swords.

<<Ghah…>>

There was no deadlock this time.

Even skin harder than iron was easy prey for my “Spada”.

If the “Mutant” thought its skin could never be cut, its arrogance spilled in the realm of idiocy. I had to teach such an idiot a lesson. I had to cut it to shreds. I had to kill it.

More than anything, the “Abominations” had to be eradicated.

I had decided to inherit the will, the plans of my mentor, and the others.

And so…

<<Haah….hah…>>

Fierce continuous attacks that left no room for breath.

My shadow-colored blade ran across the enemy’s body, two, three times, slicing through it. Blood sprays endlessly from its wounds, bathing the dry ground in red.

The “Mutant” twisted its expression in pain, but I was never going to hold back.

I swung my sword down, slashed upwards, sliced, stabbed, pierced.

I jumped, ran, confused the beast’s sight, cut through its flesh.

I relinquished control to my anger and my mission and continued swinging my “Spada”, again, again and again.

I tore the “Mutant” to shreds, with bloodshot eyes. Eventually, I regained control.

<<……..>>

Before me, there was only a mass of flesh and blood.

Something that shook, apparently having convulsions, from time to time.

The flame of life was gone.

“Abominations” must be slaughtered, no matter what. Thus I walked forward.

The reason for me to swing my sword, the trigger that made me want to survive, what supported me…everything. I knew I had already lost them all, but my legs continued to walk.

If I continued to live, I would find the answer.

Those words were the only thing I could cling to anymore.

◆◆◆

<<Hey.>>

I heard a voice and the ashes danced.

A sky sealed by black clouds.

Over an endless sea of corpses, I called.

<<Hey…>>

No one answered.

This silence showed me just how utterly alone I was.

But I was already used to it.

<<It’s enough, right?>>

I spoke with a voice filled with grief, like a criminal begging for forgiveness. My heart was consumed, my tears dried up.

<<….it hurts.>>

A world with no one I could confide in, no place I could rest in. I had been protected. This reality left me with no room to escape. It didn’t even let me look back.

<<When I think about that time, it hurts. But if I can’t think about it, it hurts more.>>

So I was never going to forget.

It was engraved in my mind. I recalled those days filled with happiness, again and again.

Then I was brought back to reality. I faced a reality of absolute loneliness and wept. It repeated, exactly the same —  day after day after day.

<<I killed the “Abominations”. I even killed the mastermind.>>

I looked at my body, half of which barely even functioned. I laughed and cried.

<<But I didn’t find the answer. I couldn’t.>>

I didn’t have the slightest idea. But I was at my limit.

I wasn’t freed from the hell called “life”.

<<You know, actually…I didn’t really need to become strong.>>

That was my honest thought, which I kept hidden all that time.

<<I just wanted to keep living together with everyone.>>

They said that my heart was hopelessly weak.

That was true. Even after swinging my sword so much, I was a weak person.

<<That was enough happiness for me.>>

My sword was unsheathed.

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Hey…

<<I want to see you…just one more time. I want to go back.>>

Words spilling from the heart.

<<Just one more time, so— >>

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—I’m sorry.

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Those were my last words before my sword slipped and fell, followed by a hollow sound of metal.


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