SETP Vol. 2 Chapter 13
Chapter 13 – Here I Pledge
“…was that really okay, master?”
The boy, around 14 or 15 years old, asked the older woman. While he was wearing rather shabby clothes and equipment, his firm and alert stance suggested he had to be an expert guard.
“Okay? Nothing was okay, but I had no choice but to go along with it.”
Sitting next to the boy was a woman in her thirties, the powerful merchant Dvorg Tsarrich, who answered his question with clear annoyance in her voice.
“Yes, well…how can I put it? I gambled. I made a bet with that nasty chemist.”
Dvorg was apparently familiar with the words “nasty chemist.” In Rinchelle, the word “chemist” would make anyone think of a certain person, before anyone else.
“If you ever see a boy with golden hair and red eyes, a noble dressed gorgeously, if they come visiting you, listen to what he says, he told me.”
Based on the words “a noble dressed gorgeously”, Dvorg assumed this visitor would be a noble from another country, a traveler or the heir of a rich merchant, so she decided to move her headquarters to a back alley that no normal person would ever think of visiting. And yet—
“The bet was for one week. If no one came, that nasty chemist would have done *anything* I asked!”
The boy wanted to say that it was something impressive to stake on a bet, but since Dvorg had lost, he realized it would be disrespectful to say it and swallowed his words.
“And I was planning to make that nasty chemist become my workhorse…!”
After this sort of introduction, Dvorg continued.
“Who would ever think he would really come to a back alley? And by himself too! He got ruffians sicced on him, but he whipped their butts and then just stayed there!? What sane person does that!? That ‘Trash Prince’ is just….!”
“Sicced on him…? Master….”
The boy looked at the woman with reproach.
“Yes!! Yes that’s right! I sent half of them!! Because I wanted to put that nasty chemist under my thumb! Is that so bad!?”
“What was that anyway!? He sends all the ruffians scurrying, he stops people from moving with magic, he properly bows his head when making a request! Where’s the ‘trash’ part of the prince?? He’s just a good boy deep down, isn’t he!? Shit!!”
“…you’re not even insulting him now, master…”
Dvorg was so agitated she was almost out of breath, while the boy looked at her and sighed.
“…well, it’s all in the past now. I got the ship ready and gave it to him, so I’m done.”
“Putting the nasty chemist aside, Warrick’s involvement was a surprise.”
“Yes. He rarely shows interest in people…”
A man with an aloof personality, very difficult to grasp.
That was what Dvorg knew about Warrick. Even if time had passed, personalities did not change so easily.
“I suppose there is something special in that prince.”
“You didn’t check the introduction letter though, did you master? We don’t have proof that Mr. Warrick really introduced—”
“No, that’s out of the question.”
Dvorg continued, while recalling past memories.
She replied in a self-deprecating tone.
“He only introduces himself as “Warrick” to people he can trust. He didn’t use a fake name like me, so it must be the real Warrick. So I have no doubts about the introduction.”
“Should I take this as an unfortunate event, or as unexpectedly obtaining a valuable connection…? What do you think this is?”
The boy recalled the series of events.
The ability to instantly render dozens of men powerless.
A mind and body quick enough to react to unexpected situations.
A firm resolve and a personality with nothing to hide.
The “Trash Prince” nickname was well known: the boy had heard it too. He was a prince that neglected his royal duties and enjoyed a decadent lifestyle, or so people said.
However, the person he saw was straightforward and principled and did not reflect such rumors at all.
On such a basis, the boy spoke.
“A valuable connection, I’d say.”
Dvorg thought quietly for a few moments, then spoke again.
“The proverbial ‘hero of the times’ might have appeared before me…”
Several faces and personages crossed her mind.
Princess Mephia Zwai Afillis, who personally stood on the frontlines and made her name known far and wide in the recent war.
Grerial Hanse Diestburg, the prince that could have become a Hero.
Welles May Rinchelle, who overcame his lack of natural aptitudes with genius-like fighting prowess.
The empire’s “War Demon” and “Death Line”.
There were too many outstanding talents to count in the present world.
“Well, I think you might be one of them too, though.”
Dvorg then glanced towards the boy.
“….don’t joke around, master.”
The boy simply let her words pass, a sort of fatigue in his voice.
“I don’t want to be put together with monsters like that.”
“Oh my. But didn’t you just say that a connection with one of those monsters is a valuable one?”
“That’s just semantics…it feels like he carries a heavy darkness within him.”
The boy continued as if recalling a distant, nostalgic memory.
“That kind of person is the one I fear the most.”
“Oh? Why is that?”
“Why, you ask…”
The boy didn’t answer.
For the boy, the “Trash Prince” was someone incomprehensible, unfathomable. He killed without hesitation and showed no mercy.
If he decided something, he would carry it out until the end, and he had enough ability to ensure this would happen. He also carried several burdens.
The boy, putting together such words in his mind, knew he would have never wanted to make the “Trash Prince” into his enemy, then chuckled to himself. Those who carried such burden were the most fearsome enemies, he thought.
“For a dirty little mercenary like me, people that don’t fear death like him are just the worst.”
The boy thought again about the prince who, at that point in time, had already left Rinchelle on the ship, then spoke again, slowly.
“I hope I never have to face him as an enemy, honestly—”
If you wish to survive, you must kill.
If you do not want to lose those important to you, even more so.
The alarm sounded again and again in my mind, louder and louder.
It had started since the “Spada” I gave Feli had activated, and didn’t let up since.
My heart beat so fast I started worrying it might burst. My veins pulsed so loudly I couldn’t hear anything else.
I bit my lower lip, fiercely. I felt blood spread in my mouth and stinging pain. Thanks to that, I could regain my cool a little.
In order to respect my brother’s will, or because this was better for Welles May Rinchelle, there was no need for me to enter the scene.
Thinking like that, I ended up forcing Feli to get involved.
In the end, I probably only wanted to not treat them in the same way as my mentor and the others.
Even if I said they were important to me, even if I thought of them as such, I still didn’t view them the same way as I did with my mentor and the others. If Grerial was my mentor…if he was Tiera…
In that case, I would have probably gone with him, even if I had to crawl and beg. I could say it with confidence.
I would have never allowed them to die again, no matter what I had to sacrifice.
But in reality, I put some distance between me and them.
My instincts, my soul, kept them separate.
I would have gone to fight with my mentor and the others, I would have fought to the death.
But what about Grerial and the others?
I answered this question by taking a step backwards.
And this was the result.
I thought of them as important to me but did not show an extreme attachment to them. Thus I was now tortured by such regrets.
It was the same now: I was restless, unable to think clearly. The “Spada” I gave Feli was my sole support, but I had lost that too.
It was going to happen again. I was going to lose those important to me again. This fear made me finally realize it.
Feli and Grerial were as important to me as my mentor and the others were. I felt my heartbeat grow even wilder.
I and my “Spada” were one and the same.
Just like a person and their shadow were indivisible, I and my “Spada” were never apart either.
If a person lost a limb, their shadow would reflect it. In the same way, if anything happened to my “Spada” I could tell. Thus I thought.
“Don’t make me lose anyone anymore…”
I continued repeating such words in my heart.
I gripped my “Spada” with more strength.
There was no time to think.
Even if I just rushed mindlessly, however, I wouldn’t make it in time. Maybe when I lived by swinging the sword, but now that I was called “Trash Prince”, now that I was haplessly out of shape, it would be impossible.
My “Spada” could be used in two ways.
One was to create swords from shadows. It was its original style, the basic one.
The second one was to force my own shadow to transform as I wanted.
A person and their shadow were one and the same: if a person changed shape, the shadow followed. The opposite was also true.
Using this technique, even healing wounds became possible.
Though possible, such a forced transformation carried its share of physical pain as price.
I remembered that it was the same for both people and shadows.
So it was possible to use such a power to return things to a certain state.
And so I thought:
In Afillis, I didn’t think of that and ended up borrowing princess Mephia’s magic tool, but I couldn’t keep using the magic tool.
Thus I prayed that my “Spada” was exactly the same as it was in the past and tried putting my idea into practice.
In the fight with Feli I tested it and could verify that my supposition was correct.
“This time I will…!!”
No matter how many times I said I hated it…
What I trusted from the bottom of my heart and could always rely on was only my sword.
My past days.
My past experiences.
My past memories were the lynchpin that supported me. Having to wield the sword again changed everything: I started seeking, longing for the past me, the swordsman who fought and survived in that hellish world, ultimately with his blade as his only companion.
Because of this, I could come up with a unique kind of answer.
In that case, I just needed to become the past me again.
I just needed to be like the past me. That’s the answer I ended up with. And this wish wasn’t something impossible to realize. I had already verified that if I used my shadow’s morphing abilities, I could turn back to a form very close to my past one.
The shadow trembled slightly.
At the same time, my body’s structure started changing. Something like a black mist enveloped my whole body. It was forcing the current me to turn into the past me. Thus the pain associated with the transformation was something I expected and already braced for it.
I could hear painful sounds of cracks throughout my body, but ignored them and kicked the ground harder. I rushed faster towards the location my “Spada” signaled me.
A conflicted expression, half crying, half laughing. I recalled what I was taught and tried following it to the letter, in order to hide the anxiety in my heart. I was going to smile, to laugh.
My “Spada” responded to my emotions and multiple black swords appeared in the surroundings, without the need to pronounce their name.
Faster, faster, faster—
I ran at full speed and eventually spotted a silhouette.
A human-like one. But its sword was pointed towards Feli and Grerial.
That was enough. More than enough for me to view it as an enemy.
The joy of not being too late and the rage towards the entity threatening those important to me mixed together in a jumbled mess, turning into killing intent.
The weakling that couldn’t protect a single person in his past life, and was protected and allowed to live by everyone else instead, was trying to protect someone now.
I even thought that I was glad I picked up my sword.
How many times did I whine about peace, about that it’s a sad thing, about not wanting to kill others? Now I felt nothing but gratitude at having a tool to protect others.
I despised and avoided it so much, but now I held it in my hands as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
—I was not going to say “I can’t do it” anymore.
I was not going to let anyone die anymore. I wouldn’t let them be killed before my eyes.
I would never allow the despair and powerlessness I felt that time to happen ever again.
So my heart screams, “Please die”.
The “sin” of killing so many people would never go away.
Even if it was necessary in order to survive, no matter how much other people tried to console me, this “sin” was never going to disappear.
So I was going to accept that “sin” and carry it with me. The reality that I could not protect anyone too was a “sin” I was going to accept as my own.
By doing so, I could swing the sword again.
—this time I was definitely going to protect them.
It was just my ego.
Nothing but self-satisfaction. But I swore, I made a pledge to myself, so I couldn’t go back anymore. I would push myself to the edge.
—no matter what.
Here I pledge.
May the world be my witness.