SETP Vol. 2 Chapter 16
Chapter 16 – Howl
I heard a subdued laugh.
The man was surprised by the scene of carnage I caused, but the joy of being able to fight an opponent capable of doing such a thing probably still won. Soon enough, he started laughing again.
“You’ll protect them *no matter what*, huh…”
The man then looked to the sky and exhaled.
He had called my sword a dead man’s weapon.
He probably understood what I carried within, what spurred me onwards.
And because of that…
“A sword pushed forward by remorse.”
The man turned his gaze towards me and spat out the words, as if pitying me.
“You’re a sorry fella all right.”
Those were the words he said next.
I couldn’t say anything.
I had never met anyone who could understand me to this point and address my nature and personality that way, so I couldn’t reply readily.
“To fight for someone else’s sake. That’s a beautiful reason for sure. The sword that fights for that is a thing of beauty too, right?”
The man was a warrior, someone who lived to battle.
Because of that, I definitely irritated him.
Especially because I had enough ability to stand at his level. As a warrior, he was definitely sickened by my way of thinking.
“I know someone like that too, actually, so I’m not going to say you’re totally wrong…but you’re not exactly like *that*, are you?”
“Don’t *what* me now! I have to spell it out for you, right? You’re fighting for the sake of your ghosts, man. Not for someone else, but for a bunch of corpses. The past you’ve been dragging around with you this whole time. That’s how an empty, worthless sword like that is born.”
I only wielded my sword as an extension of my past. The current me existed only because of the past me.
Without the past me, the current me would have never wielded a sword here.
Since I was only dragging my past with me, the man I was facing called me empty. My sword, which I stated was for the sake of protecting others, was empty and worthless in his eyes.
“Take a good look at reality!! Your sword is the filthy weapon of a murderer!! And one more thing since I’m at it!! Forget your shitty past already!!! Don’t bring that lame crap in a duel to the death!! Was there someone you couldn’t kill? Yeah? So what?? What a tragedy that must have been!!”
The man couldn’t seem to stop talking.
“What good does it do to get tied down like that!? I…I can’t stand people like you…!! You shitty idiots who keep moping over a past no one even asked you to remember…!!”
To seek a worthy rival and die a satisfying death.
The man probably wished for such an opponent more than anything else, so he did not hide his irritation at all.
As he lived for battle, facing me had to be infuriating.
“I have no idea what the hell happened in your past, but don’t you dare look down on true warriors!! If you’re so stuck on your past, I’ll send you packing to the underworld right now!! Give me your head and I’ll cut it off together with your regrets!! If you don’t want to, then forget that shitty boring past already! Fighting against a sword with a deathwish makes me want to throw up!!”
“What’s so wrong about thinking of the past? What’s so wrong about dragging it with me? What do you even know of me.”
“What the hell do you live for then!? For the sake of the people who died!? To make amends or something?? If I was the one who entrusted you with something before dying, I’d want to fucking kill you on the spot!! Stop screwing around!!”
I felt blood rush to my head.
The man continued to mock and insult me, fueling my irritation more and more.
The man kept shouting at me as if he knew everything, despite actually knowing nothing about me. My patience was at its limits.
His words, however, were never off the mark. The fact that he was generally right irritated me even more.
The voice rose from the depths of my stomach.
A low, intimidating voice.
I could live until now thanks to the existence of my mentor and the others. I would never forget the love they gave me and the time I spent with them.
They were my family.
I could never forget about them.
No matter how much time passed, I would never forget about them.
Those days, that time, those places…everything I lived there expressed me correctly.
My mentor and the others were kind.
They were extremely kind people.
They would probably tell me not to worry about them and to live as I pleased.
They would definitely say that it wasn’t my fault they died.
It was true that among all those who died protecting me, no one ever blamed me for anything. They all laughed or apologized while laughing as they passed. Things like forgive me for going first, leaving a clumsy family like you behind, or forgive me for making you carry a cross you didn’t need. Things like that.
If my mentor or the others saw me now, I bet they’d smack me.
Get a hold of yourself already, they’d say.
Stop dragging the past with you and look for your own happiness, they’d probably say. That’s the kind of people they were.
I couldn’t though.
I could say that with confidence. It was impossible for me.
No matter what happened, that one thing was not possible.
“…you’ve talked enough.”
For me, for Fay Hanse Diestburg, my mentor and the others were still my pillars of support.
Even if I was insulted or called a dead man, I would continue being bound by the past. I was a weak person, stuck in the past.
The rage I couldn’t hide anymore took over everything else.
“Haha!! HAHAHAHA!!! Nice!! So you can show a face like that too!! That’s the spirit, I like it!! Much better than fighting some hollow guy!!”
The man was brimming with euphoria. He listened to my answer with a broad, satisfied smile.
“If you won’t accept my words, then show me!! With your sword!! That’s what a battlefield is!! The winner gets the right to do anything they want!! The winner is justice!!”
The man started preaching about the laws of the battlefield.
He continued shouting, letting his momentum take control.
“Show me what kind of ‘resolve’ you’re carrying!!”
“You want to protect them, right!? You’ll keep carrying your past, right!? But I spit on all of that!! Want me to kill them before your eyes!? Want me to trample all over your precious past!? If you don’t, then show me your anger!! Put your heart in the open!! Emotions against emotions, that’s what a true duel to the death is!! That’s what a true battle really is!!”
I would have said that difference in thinking would lead to the fighting to the death, but that was just a facade.
The man before me simply made up a reason to fight against me to the death. He just made up a reason for this fight to happen. For him, however, this was a necessary step.
I picked up the sword to protect others.
I decided to swing my sword. I pledged to protect them no matter what.
So I had to swing my sword now.
I had no other choice.
For my feelings, for my reasons to be validated at least for myself.
“Since we’re at it…name yourself, human. I am Velnar. Remember it in the short time until you die.”
“….Fay Hanse Diestburg.”
“Not bad for a human.”
He then smiled broadly.
He added that it was a bit too long, but repeated it to himself, maybe to engrave it in his memory.
Velner opened his arms wide and let his voice resound loudly throughout the surroundings. Bloodshot eyes that clearly expressed how they wouldn’t look away from me for a second.
“Let us dance to the death, on this stage right here!! Give me the greatest duel to the death ever!! Fay!! Hanse!! Diestburg!!!”
“It’s really unusual for His Highness to be so angry.”
Feli voiced her concern, with a hint of surprise in her expression.
The person that spent his days in bored slothfulness showed anger. She had known Fay for a long time, but had never seen such an expression.
“I don’t think I have ever seen Fay become seriously angry.”
Grerial had been trying to run off to Fay’s side until moments ago, but, maybe thanks to Feli’s words, he had calmed down.
Grerial Hanse Diestburg was on good terms with Fay now, but that was not always the case.
On the contrary, Grerial thought of Fay as creepy before.
He didn’t act his age at all and never showed any anger. He never laughed either.
Even just seeing a sword brought a look of disgust on his face.
Even their father, Philippe Hanse Diestburg, kept his distance from him.
No one in the castle knew how to approach that child.
I should become the trigger, thought Grerial.
That idea was what started it all.
<<Do you like the stars?>>
A younger Grerial had asked.
Fay was shut in his room the whole day, giving no one a chance to talk to him, so the only time possible was when he came out.
Grerial chose the garden, the place Fay would often visit after dinner. He spoke to Fay, who was sitting alone in the darkness, looking up at the starry sky.
<<The stars never change, no matter the era…I feel calmer by looking at them.>>
Fay replied, his eyes still looking at the stars.
There were no other topics of conversation, so silence quickly returned.
It was a terribly awkward atmosphere, so Grerial went quiet, to look away from reality.
The silence continued for a few minutes, and Grerial was about to go back, dejected.
“Lord brother Grerial, would you like to join me?”
A childish voice reached Grerial’s ears.
<<I can’t stay here for long, but looking at the stars makes you forget about all bad things.>>
Grerial secretly slipped out of his room to go to the garden. The same as Fay.
They would be in trouble if they were found.
Fay laughed wryly, as their time was limited, but that was fine too.
<<I will, I shall join you, Fay!>>
<<Lord brother, you’re talking weird…>>
<<Never mind the details! I said that I’ll join you and so I will!!>>
<<Please, be quiet…>>
<<Ooohhh!! Look at how pretty the stars are!! And you were keeping them all for yourself!! You should have called me earlier!!>>
<<Lord brother, ssshh….!!>>
Fay tried to physically close the over-excited Grerial’s mouth with his hands, but it was too late.
<<T-there he is!! I found Prince Grerial!!! Ah! There’s Prince Fay too!!>>
The soldiers approached them noisily.
They were used to Fay sneaking out of his room, but Grerial was a different case.
Fay held his head with his hands. His brother’s sneaking techniques were definitely lacking.
<<L-let’s run! Lord brother!>>
<<Wait!! I almost finished counting the stars!! Eh, they’re…>>
<<Move it!! As long as we don’t get caught, we can make up any excuse we want later!>>
<<Aaaahhhh!! Don’t pull me like that!! I can’t count them like—>>
In the end that day they were both caught, because Grerial got in the way, but it was also the day that marked the beginning of their relationship, which gradually deepened afterwards.
For Grerial, Fay was someone to protect. No more, no less.
“Cheeky little brother…”
Grerial looked at the battle with a mixture of annoyance and pride.
“Let me act like a reliable older brother for once. I’m going to lose face like this…”
Grerial expressed his conflicted mood and Feli tried to soothe him.
“Prince Fay is a free spirit after all.”
That’s true, Grerial chuckled, then sighed.
“Once we’re back, I’m going to scold him for a couple hours.”
“I shall gladly join you, Your Highness.”
That’s what you get for keeping secrets from me. You deserve it.
While considering such childish thoughts, Grerial looked at his little brother’s fight, concern shadowing his expression.