SETP Vol. 3 Chapter 12
Chapter 12 – Shadows Approaching
In the room, I saw princess Mephia sitting in an armchair along with three men. Judging by their clothes and equipment, they were probably knights.
It was my *first time* seeing them.
“It has been a long time, *Prince*.”
A sweet scent tickled my nostrils.
The room was filled with a faint aroma.
I soon felt my head grow heavy, dazed. I couldn’t think clearly.
I felt the curious urge to relinquish control of my body to something I couldn’t see…
Then I heard the voice again.
This time, however, it bade me farewell.
“And goodbye— ”
I instinctively jumped away.
At the same time, a broadsword grazed my nose.
Followed by a low, heavy sound.
My words stuck in my throat.
The sight before me was too unbelievable for words.
Because I was looking at—
Mephia’s silhouette twist and change shape, turning into an opponent I had faced before.
Someone whose neck I had cut off myself.
“You’re the— ”
“You’re not going to say that you forgot, are you now?”
A woman with violet hair and sharp, slanted eyes. A sort of ferocity in her gaze. The imbalance of a slender body and the broadsword she wielded.
“—the illusion user.”
“Aha, so you do remember, that’s very nice.”
Idies Farizard, also called “Game of Illusions”. The “Hero” I was supposed to have killed.
The smile on Idies’ face was so broad it almost gave me the creeps. I couldn’t help but ask.
I was sure I had cut off her head.
I felt it clearly. It was a sensation no mirage could give.
“There’s nothing scarier than deluding yourself. Don’t you agree?”
Based on her remark, I started thinking.
If the feeling of cutting her neck…if that very sensation had been an illusion…
In other words,
“I was just a fool that convinced himself he killed you.”
“What did you come here for anyway?”
What would Idies want by turning into Mephia and coming to meet me?
She surely resented me, so I was sure it couldn’t be something peaceful.
“Quite a mystery, right?”
Idies laughed with contempt in her voice, then pulled out three black objects that looked like pills.
I expected her to take out a weapon.
I was thus taken aback and stared at the three pills.
Their black color was so deep, it looked like it could absorb the light around it.
Suddenly, however, my perception changed completely.
I felt an indescribable jolt through my body.
I had seen those pills before. Or rather, I knew them very well.
It was a shock so powerful that I didn’t care about Mephia or Idies’ mirages anymore.
I could never mistake them.
There was absolutely no way.
The “Black Peddler”.
The “Dead Cities”.
Familiar words appeared in my head as my emotions surged.
Would I see those sickening “Abominations” again, even in another world?
“…where did you get those?”
If you didn’t know about them, they’d just look like black pills.
I, however, could feel the mystical power swirling in those dark spheres even from a distance.
They were something that should not exist.
In the world I once lived in…
In that world, aptly described as “hell on earth” my mentor and the others had a sworn enemy, the “Black Peddlers”.
They sold goods to people, whether the buyer wanted them or not.
One of their main products was black pills.
Those merchants wore black from head to toe, so we called them “Black Peddlers”.
In a world where people lived every day in fear of violence, the black pills were a sort of drug that put their hearts at ease.
The black pills contained small doses of monster genes, characterized by the feral instinct to attack people unconditionally. Once ingested, they would gradually infect and corrupt the user’s body.
A secondary effect was a temporary pleasure, the so-called “trip”.
Naturally, there were negative effects too.
The more you ingested monster genes, the more you became a monster.
Eventually, the monster genes would form a monster-like, abominable creature — an “Abomination”.
Creatures incapable of reasoning.
Hideous mutations dominated by the instinct to destroy. The results of their rampages were called “Dead Cities”.
The “Black Peddlers” called this dreadful phenomenon “salvation”.
— A world where violence was justice. Those who use violence upon others thrive and prosper, never facing punishment. How can this be right? It is much more just to become an “Abomination” and exact your revenge —
They preached their “Salvation” without ever revealing what it truly entailed, as more and more desperate people fell into an abyss of pleasure, ultimately becoming inhuman monsters seeking violence. This is what the “Black Peddlers” were.
However, that was all in the past.
So I shouted.
I howled, letting my emotions take over. I grabbed my “Spada” and wielded it high. At the same time, Idies threw the black pills at the men in knight attire.
So it’s already come to this, I thought as I created “Spada” from their shadows, but—
Three sounds from three jaws scorned my efforts.
In the silent corridor, a single person’s footsteps could be heard.
The footsteps of a maid with a sort of melancholic air about her.
Ratifah sighed as she walked, silently unraveling her thoughts.
The day before, something very unusual happened.
Someone came to visit her.
She thought the visitor wanted her to contact Prince Fay in their stead, but they wanted to talk to her.
She didn’t know their true intentions, nor knew if what they said was the truth. Because the person who visited her was already dead.
The visitor was indeed the knight killed just a few hours before.
“<<Your trust in His Highness is different from that of the others. Honestly speaking…it’s abnormal>> …is that so, now?”
The knight asked one question to Ratifah.
If I was a spy from another country—
A short question that started with such words.
The knight refused to say why he asked such a question, but his bitter laugh made it very clear.
—wouldn’t you want to kill me? Wouldn’t you want to help him?
Ratifah didn’t react with anger at the question. She didn’t even show a clear reaction.
The reason being—
“Well, I know him better than anyone after all.”
I had been with him the longest, more than anyone else in this world.
We exchanged words, crossed swords, were scolded by the same people.
If a person stepped on an ant, who would ever be concerned with the person’s heart? Who would think about the danger?
That was how deep Ratifah’s trust in Fay was.
That was her implied answer:
Even if you were a spy, you would be little threat to His Highness.
Depending on the opponent, however, killing them might wound His Highness’ conscience. But he can overcome something like that. Or rather, he already has. So there is no reason for me to be worried or concerned.
—You’re the only one, I knew it.
The knight smiled proudly — for whatever reason — handed a cloth bundle to Ratifah.
Something round was felt inside.
—That pill was developed by one of the empire’s top minds. It can make you immediately stronger…in other words, turn you into a “monster”.
The moment Ratifah saw the contents, she was shocked to the point her hands froze.
The knight probably thought that Ratifah doubted a small pill like that could do so much, but the cause of her shock was another.
— when it’s over, tell the Prince to be careful of these. I’m sure your words will have the most effect on him. Do this for me, will you? O maid of our noble Prince.
Ratifah recalled the conversation they had a few hours prior, while feeling the bundle’s contents in her pocket. She sighed again.
“I guess I have to prepare myself…”