SETP Vol. 2 Chapter 11
Chapter 11 – Phaeresia
The mound of soil at Rowle’s feet suddenly scattered in all directions and his silhouette blurred. One, two seconds later, everyone realized that he had approached the enemy at incredible speed.
Rowle did not fight like a typical warrior. The man *knew it too*, thus his reaction was a second slower. A mere second, which could be enough to create a lethal opening. In a battle of “Hero” class, it was an unavoidable truth.
Rowle targeted the man’s face with his cat-like right hand, trying to carve out his eyes.
The man managed to dodge the full brunt of the blow, but a red scratch appeared on his cheek.
Blood dripped from the red line, but the man trembled, as if in ecstasy.
Rowle’s left hand targeted the man’s solar plexus without hesitation, but his blow was firmly blocked before it could reach its target.
The man’s right hand and Rowle’s left hand quivered from their clash but the man’s expression was as amused before. He chuckled, ecstatic.
“I can feel it, man!?! Your resolve, or whatever!! How much did you have to sacrifice for this strength? Huh!?!”
Rowle’s right hand changed targets and shot for the man’s collarbone, aiming to grab his neck—
That attack was also stopped by the man’s left hand.
The sound of crushed flesh and bones could be heard in both of Rowle’s wrists. His jaw clenched because of the pain jolting through his body.
“And now for the crushing— ”
Rowle, both of his hands blocked, lifted his knee next. The man then let go of Rowle’s hands and lifted his knee himself.
Both knees clashed, producing a painful sound of creaking bones. Because of the impact between them, both men retreated a few steps.
“Haha, that ability of yours is a joy to see, every damn time.”
The man looked at Rowle’s wrists.
The supposedly broken wrists had already started healing, as the painful sounds they produced continued, and returned to normal after only a few seconds.
“You completely disregard all pain, damage, even death…I like that, you know? That kind of thinking!”
Rowle confirmed that he was healed and approached the man again. He unleashed a flurry of punches, but, despite their incredible speed, the man dodged them all. He avoided them all with ease, always with a smile on his face.
“In battle, fearing death never helps. It’s the most useless thing for you!”
The man could clearly see every single one of Rowle’s punches and dodged them one by one with light steps.
“The only thing you need is ‘resolve’!! The resolve to kill your opponent, even at the cost of your life!! And you know that too!! That the moment fear ever enters your battle, you’ve as good as lost!!”
For a split second, the man glanced at Grerial.
His words seemed to imply the difference in Rowle and Grerial’s stance.
An endless flurry of blows coming from all directions.
Rowle seemed to never lose momentum. Eventually, the man switched to the offensive. He predicted Rowle’s next punches and struck both of Rowle’s fists with his palms, sending them upwards.
Rowle’s torso was now unprotected. He seemed full of openings, but he didn’t immediately take a defensive stance simply because he was using his own body as bait, waiting for a chance to attack.
While the man prepared to unleash a powerful blow on Rowle’s torso, Rowle’s high kick swiftly approached his head. The man saw it, but simply smiled and ignored it, as his fists slammed into the chemist’s stomach.
The man’s fists dug deep into Rowle’s stomach. As retaliation, the latter’s kick struck the man’s neck. They were both hit and sent flying…
A pained voice could be heard after their clash.
Then, the sound of swallowing breath.
A sound that might have come from all the witnesses of Rowle’s fight against the mysterious man.
One of them was bleeding from his knees, his joints were dislocated, perhaps broken. They were twisted in unnatural directions, but he stood up as if nothing happened.
The other one had his neck bent in an impossible direction, but did not stop his insane laugh for a second. With a crunch, he put his neck back in place, then continued chuckling.
“I have to go help him…!”
Feli, while continuing to heal Grerial, had seen the whole battle.
But another voice stopped her.
“Don’t, do that.”
Grerial was not looking at her but in another direction. He then smiled and stopped her with a small gesture.
“But Your Highness….!”
“No need to worry…he’s going.”
Grerial then pointed at the man he was talking about, someone he trusted completely.
“Look at him.”
Grerial pointed at the man with blazing red hair.
He had already rolled up his sleeves, showing his arms decorated with ritual engravings similar to tribal tattoos.
His clear, fiery eyes were burning with fighting spirit.
“If he’s going to act, then we don’t need to do anything.”
Grerial sat back on the ground and chuckled to himself.
At a learning institution located in a certain country, the two had studied alongside each other.
Grerial recalled the nickname, or rather, the mocking title his friend had been called. A stark contrast to his “Gravity”.
“For a while, he thought I was his greatest enemy…so I know more than anyone else how strong he is.”
The red-haired man, born without the slightest talent for magic, had chased Grerial, someone who was very close to entering the realm of “Heroes,” throughout his life.
Despite his lack of magic talent, in the institute his grades in practicals were always the second-best among all students, only exceeded by Grerial’s.
His fighting power was low, but his technique was superior to anyone else— and so the sarcastic nickname he was given was “All Effort”.
That bizarrely unbalanced student was, of course, Welles May Rinchelle. Every time they held practical exams, Grerial repeated that, if Welles could have used magic, he would have probably never managed to win against him.
He didn’t mean it as a compliment or a way to console Welles. That was nothing but honest truth.
That’s why Grerial now motioned for Feli to stop.
“Our turn is over this time.”
At the same time, another voice rose.
“I am the second prince of the kingdom of Rinchelle. Welles May Rinchelle.”
Welles spoke loud and clear, in order to attract attention, to show his presence, to rouse himself.
“To dare order the next in line to the throne to stand back…you are quite the arrogant one, Rowle Zwelg.”
After several seconds, Welles breathed in and continued.
“Don’t try doing everything by yourself!! You insolent fool!”
The angry shout resounded in the surroundings.
Welles, however, recalled how his behavior, criticized a few days before by the little brother of his dear friend Grerial, and Rowle’s current actions were rather similar and chuckled at himself.
“This fight is not yours alone.”
Even if Rowle had joined the mission for his own personal reasons, Welles couldn’t stand by while his allies, the people he knew, were being hurt.
“This fight belongs to all of us. Should I leave you to fight alone? Should I do nothing and run away? Do you think I would ever be satisfied like that?”
Welles, the man never blessed by magic, derided with a nickname like “All Effort”, knew very well how it felt to have frustration build within oneself. As if invoked by his words, the patterns engraved on his arms — “Phaeresia” — started glowing faintly.
“What’s with that face?”
Welles smiled at Rowle’s speechless expression.
“I’m joining the battle, Rowle. No objections.”
Welles’ words probably made Rowle realize that any attempts of dissuading him would have been fruitless.
The chemist looked up at the sky, while his legs were still recovering, and sighed in surrender.
“It can’t be helped, can it.”
Rowle thought about the stubborn prince, who would never change his course once it had been set, and realized that one of the undesirable scenarios he had predicted might happen just became reality.
Rowle held his forehead with his hand, his eyes closed. Despite this, his expression was rather peaceful, even a little happy.
“If you have to resent someone, you should resent yourself for accepting to engrave ‘Phaeresia’ on me.”
“Phaeresia”, Rinchelle’s traditional engraving technique.
Appearance-wise, it looked like a tribal tattoo, but the symbols engraved through this technique— basically, allowed the engraved to use magic.
It was said that talent for magic was decided at birth, and it would not be possible to learn new magic afterwards.
“Phaeresia” was a tool to twist such an established truth.
This technique required the skin and flesh above the nerves to be cut with a special scalpel and engraved with “Phaeresia’s” symbols.
Needless to say, it was excruciatingly painful.
The symbols were engraved while the whole body went through pain equal to being polished by a grinder.
Welles stubbornly refused to let out the tiniest scream during the operation, but, for several days afterwards everything from the shoulder downwards felt unnatural, so he had not tried using “Phaeresia” until now.
“I hope you won’t get in my way, Your Highness.”
“Shut your trap.”
Rowle statement implied the question of whether or not Welles’ arms were all right, but the latter simply replied brusquely.
“Besides, it’s too late to try to run, isn’t it?”
The opponent was looking at them, his body trembling in excitement. They couldn’t see his expression, but he was surely itching for a fight.
The man then slowly opened his mouth—
“Are you done yet?”
A conceited grin on his face, the man unsheathed his glass-like transparent blade. Welles and Rowle then stopped talking and prepared to battle.
“Haha! Keeping your guard up, huh? Very impressive.”
The man swung his sword towards the ground two, three times as if to test its range.
“We can win together? Is that what you’re thinking? Quit dreaming while you’re ahead.”
The man chuckled to himself, then continued.
“Humans are frail creatures. You fear death from the bottom of your heart, and if someone you know dies before you, you can’t even control your emotions anymore.”
The man’s words were probably provoked by Rowle and Welles’ exchange. Allies that trusted each other were surely reliable, but at the same time, they could also become a weakness. Thus the man completely looked down on them.
“Love? Friendship…? Haha….you make me sick.”
The man raised his sword at eye level, ready to strike.
“So now— ”
“Shut up already.”
The man’s mocking speech was about to continue, but he wasn’t allowed to finish his sentence.
“You’re making my ears hurt. Enough with the noise.”
Welles pointed his palms downwards.
Welles felt like something was coming out of his arms, coming out of his body.
It was a sensation that he had never experienced before.
The peculiar sensation of loss made him lose his balance for an instant, but he quickly recovered and grinned.
Exceeding the pain from the unfamiliar sensation, the euphoria only got higher. The excitement to be able to stand on the same stage as the others took over his thoughts for a short while.
The way to use his ability naturally appeared in his mind.
The engravings themselves knew it all.
“No need for mercy.”
Gracefully spoken words of violence.
At the same time, a massive golden magic circle appeared.