SETP Vol. 2 Chapter 10
Chapter 10 – Assault
“There’s no end in sight…!”
The continuous fighting had created a devastated clearing in the forest.
Welles, holding his sword in one had, growled while slashing through a monster’s flesh.
No matter how many they killed, there were always more. The group started considering the unreal possibility that the monsters might be spawning endlessly, thus making their exhaustion feel even heavier.
Some of the knights that accompanied the group had already died: as time passed, the situation was turning more disadvantageous for the party. A realization that weighed mercilessly on their mental fortitude. They continued to swing their weapons, to slash, to fight, feeling that time was stretching forever.
(…this is bad.)
Only one of the party members, Rowle, the man called “Immortal”, showed no signs of exhaustion. Despite this, he had a concerned expression on his face.
(The monsters are becoming more powerful at a much higher rate than expected…)
The surroundings were filled with an atmosphere of impending death, growing more intense by the minute. Their instincts screamed louder and louder.
The controlled monsters, just like human troops, were sometimes given tasks to observe and scout the enemy.
The dragon that Grerial defeated was a classic example.
The monsters currently fighting against the group had clearly not been given such duties. The meaning of such a change was clear: the master of the monsters attacking the group was approaching.
Rowle reached this conclusion and was about to urge the group to be alert— when it happened.
The waves of attacking monsters relented for an instant, bringing utter calm and silence to the forest. The monsters, wildly rampaging until seconds before, had become completely quiet.
The voice’s tone showed relief: the monsters had been assaulting the party with the momentum of water breaking through a dam, but they had finally stopped.
Most members of the party wished it meant that they could finally rest.
However, the next instant—
The sound of feet kicking the ground could be heard.
From deep in the forest path, an unusually clear echo of approaching footsteps.
Both the people who had breathed a sigh of relief and even Grerial, who had never for an instant stopped paying close attention to his surroundings, could only hear it after the source of the footsteps was clearly visible. It was like their footsteps made no sound.
Rowle was the first to notice the person who could perform such a movement as easily as breathing.
“Here they are…”
If possible, he didn’t want to meet one *yet*.
The party heard the spiteful tone in Rowle’s voice and their perception of the creature spread through them like a ripple.
The whole reason why Rowle had discussed the vampires was in preparation for that moment.
When vampires summoned their monster cohorts, through a certain world, they formed a sort of limited-time link with the monsters, which they could perceive. If a summoned monster was killed its master would feel it, and, if the master was killed, the monsters would lose the link to the world they currently existed in, thus becoming unable to maintain their existence in it.
Thus the more monsters that were defeated, the vampire controlling them would perceive it, judge the opponent to be too much for the monsters to handle and was more likely to appear in person. So this situation was something that *Rowle* had predicted.
—Since when was it here…?
Grerial, who had quickly caught Rowle’s words and confirmed the presence of the vampire, cursed under his breath.
Deep in the forest path.
The group had ventured a bit deep into the forest, purposely choosing a location with disadvantageous geography to continue fighting, in order not to attract attention to the ship.
Since the monsters came from all directions, Grerial paid attention to his surroundings as much as possible. He had never neglected scanning the area in front for threats either, but, despite all this, it was there in his line of sight. As if it had been present for a long time already.
It happened in an instant.
With a light step, as if it was taking a casual stroll through its backyard, it leisurely approached.
Appearance-wise, it looked just like a human being.
A single transparent sword hung at its waist.
A well-fitting coat-like garment was on its shoulders.
There was a sort of noble aura about it.
Its eyes were colored red.
The barely visible complexion was strikingly similar to porcelain, a sickly looking white.
That man is dangerous. Grerial felt a jolt of pain in his head.
His instincts spoke clearly.
This guy is a lot stronger than me.
Grerial bit down on his lower lip.
He quickly concluded that the approaching threat had to be eliminated as soon as possible, holding his sword with more strength. The man before them was too powerful, he couldn’t afford to take his eyes off him even for a second. Grerial’s hostility was clear.
Rowle noticed Grerial’s abnormal aura and tried calling him, but before he could, the prince had run forward, a twisted expression on his face.
A frenzied rush towards the enemy, his bloody magic sword in hand.
The pressure on himself had changed. With no regards to preserving his energy, Grerial poured everything he had left in this bout.
To suppress and hide the restlessness in his heart, Grerial shouted loudly.
He howled to discard all the conflicting feelings in his heart.
Grerial kicked the ground, visibly and loudly, and continued to advance towards the unfathomable enemy.
All living creatures fear death.
They fear death and cling to life.
The reason could be those they hold dear, the fear of dying, and many others. Everyone had theirs.
Thus people pathetically, pitifully clinged to life.
Grerial’s actions too were motivated by such a reason.
If he didn’t take advantage of this chance to perform a surprise attack, he might not have any more chances to defeat him. He might die. This was what sprung him into action.
“No hard feelings…!”
Grerial held his sword high.
Grerial Hanse Diestburg, the prince well-known for his warm, amiable nature, was now exuding unusual killing intent, his blade ready to unleash an aggressive strike. He let the lust for battle sealed in his heart take over for the next blow.
The next attack will decide everything.
So thought Grerial as he poured every fiber of his being into his magic sword.
He concentrated as much power as he could, in order to finish off the enemy without fail.
A crack and a shiver—
Grerial’s arm began hurting.
His own bones started cracking under the pressure he exerted.
Grerial, however, continued to pour in more power, without taking the pain into account. He let his raging emotions take control, even more.
Finally, at the peak of his powers, he released the blow.
Grerial swung down his sword, targeting the enemy’s head, in a slash without the slightest hesitation—
The man’s comical reaction was accompanied by a firm resistance, which struck Grerial directly.
Reality had lied.
These words appeared automatically in his mind.
The dull sound of clashing metal.
The timing was perfect.
He had not underestimated the situation at all.
And yet, in less than an instant, the man’s transparent blade had matched Grerial’s sword.
The man laughed.
As if his state of mind had been shaken and twisted, the man’s expression turned from cold and blank to an ecstatic, uncontrollable kind of laughter.
He continued laughing loudly, just like an actor exhibiting his best attempt of exhilaration on stage.
“You wanted to kill me with that, didn’t you!? Yes, yes you did!! I like that, kid!! But you….aah?”
His words stopped.
The man had noticed that the ground he was stepping on was starting to crack and tear. He frowned, trying to figure out what the cause might be.
The ability to manipulate the pressure of anything it touched.
That was the ability only Grerial Hanse Diestburg possessed— “Gravity”.
The man apparently understood the source of the continuous pressure and started analyzing it.
“I see, so you’re doing this.”
After a little while, the man who had so casually blocked Grerial’s full-powered blow looked at him.
“It’s not a bad attack, not bad at all, but— ”
The man formed a fist with his left hand, as if to show it to Grerial.
“Isn’t it a bit too light? Huh!?”
Then, at a speed too fast for human eyes, he swung it.
A sound of crushed matter, something you would never want to hear coming from your body, was followed by a moan of pain from Grerial’s mouth.
His eyes went open wide, a rivet of saliva leaking out the side of his mouth.
The man’s fist had landed squarely in Grerial’s solar plexus. He found it hard to breathe and was about to lose consciousness.
When Grerial recognized Feli’s voice, he had already been tossed against a nearby tree and was crouching on the ground, a cloud of dust rising around him.
“Kahaha, I felt my cohorts get offed one after the other and look what I find here…ooh, but I see an old face too!”
As if called out by the man’s words, a silhouette stepped forward.
“How many years passed already? Humans sure get old and wrinkly fast. Normally I wouldn’t be able to tell you apart after so many years, but you don’t age, do you? You’re the same as back then, aren’t you?”
The man grinned.
The way he talked made it seem like he had met an acquaintance for the first time in a long while.
Rowle called the name of the man standing next to him.
“Please take the knights and leave.”
Welles didn’t understand.
Why was Rowle telling him to leave?
Didn’t Rowle say that it was better to fight all together in the same spot?
That is what Welles wanted to say, but the overwhelming pressure exerted by the man did not even allow him to speak.
“You brought some friends to get revenge from last time, right!? Sure thing, give me all you got! I’m all yours!!”
Rowle glanced at Grerial and saw that Feli was healing him, an anxious expression on her face.
He was apparently still conscious and was smiling apologetically while drawing heavy breaths.
“I thought that beating you to a bloody pulp so many times got all the fighting spirit out of your body, but I guess you still hate me enough!! Is that right!? Just look at your damn face!! You’re like an animal, with nothing but hate on your mind!!”
Rowle slipped a hand inside his lab coat.
“I even let you go last time, and you still resent me? Give me a damn break!!”
The man twisted his lips into a euphoric, broken smile.
A smile so wide it looked like the man’s jaw was dislocated, in a figurative explosion of ecstacy.
“If you stand here before me, brimming with desire for revenge and all…you know? Haha…hahaha… gwahahaha…!!”
While the man continued shouting, Rowle pulled out one, two, three more syringes from his lab coat, injecting his abdomen with each one.
“Indeed, that’s right.”
Rowle grimaced at the sensation of the substances entering his body, then nodded to the man’s words.
“I’m a human too, after all. I hate and resent. But at some point, I stopped caring.”
Rowle faced the sky, his eyes closed, all the while continuing to inject himself.
“Just then came Prince Welles’ invitation. It was like divine providence.”
Rowle Zwelg was a chemist through and through. For that reason he had come to the island: to find the Rainbow Flower.
In the end, however, he could not obtain anything.
On the contrary, he ended up harboring resentment towards a certain person.
Rowle then received a request.
I want to cure my family’s sickness. I want to go to the remote island. Lend me your strength, they told him.
The day Welles came to discuss the matter, Rowle had already made his decision. So he made all the preparations he could. He did not leave any stone unturned.
“Haha, yes, yes, I like that!?! You didn’t have that kind of insanity before!!”
“That’s obvious. After the torture you put me through, anyone would become irreparably twisted.”
Rowle then took out the last syringe.
“It might be nothing but a name in my case, but I am still called a ‘Hero’.”
Slower than before, Rowle pointed the last syringe at his neck and stabbed it with the needle.
“To dispel the regrets of the other ‘Heroes’ who lost their lives here wouldn’t be bad either. Don’t you think so?”
“Haha..hahahaha!!! Yes, yes, come on!! You might be able to do that through a fight to the death!!”
Rowle laughed a dry laugh.
It was a laugh that suggested he had lost all hope in the situation, but the reality was very different.
“I might? Really.”
Rowle’s lips gradually turned upwards.
“I sure hope, that’s true.”
Rowle then injected the contents of the last syringe into his neck.
Rage and indignation built into his tone of voice and his face changed.
A deep, ominous tone rose in the chemist’s voice. Rowle’s eyes turned bloodshot and his mouth closed, as if no other words needed to be said.