SETP Vol. 3 Chapter 5

Chapter 5 – Dream

After being yelled at by my father, I was commanded to stay put in my room.

Before I realized it, I was dreaming.

It was the beginning of a long, long dream.

I dreamed of the time that nurtured the emotions at the core of my being. Distant and beautiful, yet so fierce, sad, cruel dream world.

My whole body sank into that enticing lucid dream.

◆◆◆

<<Hey, ***!>>

Someone called my name.

Every time, some kind of static noise would cover my name, but only my name was obfuscated. Even so, I could tell that they were talking to me.

Because I had experienced this exchange hundreds of times already.

<<What’s up?>>

When I talked to my family, the traveling party assembled to take down the “Abominations” created by the “Black Peddler”, my tone was always pretty casual.

I looked over my shoulder and saw a familiar face.

One member of my treasured family — the black-haired man returned my gaze with a grin.

<<I found it in a town not far from here. But it looks like things are a bit complicated. Want to go on recon with me?>>

<<What’s complicated?>>

<<Yep. I’ve only looked at it from far away, but it looks like that town is dead.>>

Dead towns.

That’s how we called the towns affected by a certain phenomenon.

<<…is the ‘Black Peddler’ there?>>

<<No, not anymore. Looks like it’s been ransacked. They’ve probably already gone somewhere else.>>

“Black Peddler”, as the name says, was a type of merchant clad in black robes. The “dead towns” were the places attacked by them.

The way they attacked towns was particularly nasty: it was a gradual corruption from within, similar to how termites eat through wood.

There were still many unknowns about their ways, but they generally sold medicine and spread it through the town.

Such towns gradually became “dead”.

Those affected by the medicine first relished the pleasure they received from it, gradually losing their conscience, and ultimately turned into the monsters called “Abominations”. My mentor once said that killing all “Black Peddlers” was his reason to live.

<<There’s no point in going there, no?>>

<<What are you saying? It’s still a dead town, right? We might find a clue or two about the ‘Black Peddlers’. There is a point in going.>>

<<Hmm…>>

That time, I knew I was weaker than anyone else. I couldn’t win against anyone, let alone my mentor.

Sometimes I was invited to join their missions like that, but I knew that I would hold them back, so, unless my mentor invited me, I always refused.

So this time too I didn’t reply in a positive way.

<<Don’t worry, I didn’t say it’d be only us two.>>

<<Someone else is coming too?>>

<<Exactly!! And it’s none other than— >>

Someone was coming towards us from the direction the black-haired man pointed at.

A man smoking a pipe.

His major characteristic was his dreadlocks.

He was the strongest illusion user I knew.

<<It smelled like you around here, after all.>>

I didn’t know of any other men with dreadlocks who smoked a pipe.

There was a specific reason why he did so too. When he told me that he found me via my smell, I couldn’t help but retort.

<<Hey, don’t rely on your nose like that.>>

My accusation caused the man with dreadlocks to look very dissatisfied. Then, from behind me, I heard the *man with dreadlocks* say something like “Rrah!”.

And the back of my knees felt a jolt.

The man with dreadlocks was still in front of me, but for some reason he struck me from behind.

…he used his damn illusions…

I cursed under my breath and stumbled backward.

<<Don’t trust your eyes. Don’t trust your nose. Don’t even trust your ears. Only use the instincts you honed in battle. If you can’t, then focus on all directions at once. I told you that already, right? Stupid ***.>>

Normally, having the unique smell of the pipe on himself would make it easier to tell the illusions apart. However, this man used it to his own advantage and smoked the pipe on purpose. He acted while taking advantage of the enemy lowering their guards when they tried to make use of such a perceived weakness.

So the man with dreadlocks spoke honestly.

Don’t rely on your five senses too much.

<<T-this was just a coincidence!>>

I managed to put my hands on the ground to catch my fall and glared at him like he had killed my parents, but he easily brushed it away.

He even sighed at me.

<<Coincidences kill people, you know? You’re going to live for the sake of people that allowed you to survive, right? You want to become strong, right? No more excuses, then.>>

<<Ggh…>>

<<If you feel powerless, go train to hell and back again tomorrow.>>

I thought he would just push me away like that, but instead, he came closer and crouched next to me.

<<I guess I can beat you every time because I’m just that strong? Wahahaha!!>>

Coming closer to me just to laugh like that showed how nasty his personality was. He definitely wouldn’t die a pretty death. So I found myself thinking, again.

<<…..t-there you go, always overconfident!! But you can’t even touch my mentor!!>>

<<S-shut up!! He’s an exception, a total exception!! Besides, it’s better to be confident!!>>

I felt it was a lame excuse and looked towards the black-haired man, wondering if it was really true or not.

<<Well, it’s better than not having any. As long as you don’t confuse confidence with arrogance, you should have some too, ***.>>

<<…Seriously?>>

<<Haha, see? I was right! Ha! Ha!>>

The man with dreadlocks teased me rather childishly, but— 

<<But that guy is too confident. Don’t copy him.>>

<<So he said.>>

<<D-don’t turn on me now, you bastard!! I’m gonna knock you out!!>>

It was my turn to have a triumphant look on my face.

<<But you have too little confidence, ***.>>

<<Ugh….>>

<<Haha! You deserved that! I was kind of right! Dumbass!>>

<<Yes, kind of right is the best way to put it, I guess.>>

<<Hey man, you picking a fight with me or something!? I’m going to make mincemeat out of *** and you both with my illusions!!>>

A scenery I had seen many times already.

An atmosphere playful and easygoing.

Sometimes I thought they were unbearably annoying, but exchanges like this were fun for me. The time spent with my mentor and the others was invaluable.

I found myself smiling a bit.

<<But even if you say I should be confident, I don’t know what confidence I should have.>>

<<Confidence in your bloodline ability, like everyone. What else?>>

The man with dreadlocks replied as if I asked an obvious question.

<<But my bloodline ability can’t even scratch my mentor or you guys…>>

<<Hah, that doesn’t mean anything. If you have confidence, you win, that’s all. It’s true that most people need a trigger to start feeling confident, but that’s not an absolute condition. And sometimes confidence becomes power.>>

So he emphasized that I had to have confidence in myself.

Since he was more confident in himself than most others, his words sounded very convincing.

<<I guess so…>>

Even so, I wasn’t completely sure.

The man then looked at my waist.

He looked at my “Spada”.

<<Your bloodline technique is your sword, right?>>

<<Yeah.>>

<<What about having the confidence to cut through anything, then?>>

<<The confidence…to cut through anything…>>

I repeated the words and looked at my “Spada” too.

The bloodline technique to create swords out of shadow.

The sword skills taught by my mentor and the others.

Various thoughts flashed through my mind.

<<Yeah, the confidence you can cut through anything. The confidence to be able to cut through anything that comes your way. There’s nothing my bloodline technique can’t cut. If you can say that, then you’re perfect.>>

<<Whoa, that’s so embarrassing…>>

<<Because any attacks you do are always blocked, yes. If you go shouting “my sword can cut through anything!!!” but you get blocked…that does sound embarrassing.>>

<<You say it like I’d get blocked no matter what!! That’s not what I meant!!!>>

I hurriedly explained myself.

I probably sounded desperate, however; the man with dreadlocks rolled over laughing.

<<I know, I know. Don’t get all worked up like that. But confidence is necessary, believe me. As a policy too. You fear too much, ***.>>

<<……>>

I feared too much.

I knew what those words meant more than anyone else.

This life of mine only continued because I was protected.

So I feared losing more than anyone. Fear was engraved in my soul.

I lost important people before my eyes and was picked up by my mentor and the others. I dragged that loss with me wherever I went. The seeds of surrender were always sown in my sword.

Someone might die before my eyes again.

Since I was protected and allowed to live, I couldn’t die.

I only lived because of my sense of duty.

There’s no way a sword like that could cut through everything.

The man with dreadlocks probably saw through me and wanted to make me say it on purpose. Thinking that it was the most effective method.

<<Okay, I decided.>>

The man with dreadlocks apparently came up with something and grinned.

<<***! Till the day you can win against me! You will keep repeating “There’s nothing my sword cannot cut!”!!! If you don‘t want to feel embarrassed, then hurry up and get stronger!!>>

<<W-whaat!? Wait a second!! That’s too unfair!!>>

<<Then I’ll say something until the day you defeat me too! So we’re even!>>

<<But you wouldn’t feel embarrassed!!>>

<<Can’t hear you!! Anyway, stop wasting time and let’s go do recon! Start running! Last one gets punished!>>

Go!

We started running together, with me cursing under my breath.

That time, I still thought that those priceless days would naturally continue forever.

As a result, I completely lost.

My “punishment” was for the whole confidence conversation to be repeated to my mentor and the others, but strangely, I woke up before that scene.

◆◆◆

I was surrounded by darkness.

My room was completely silent.

I didn’t remember falling asleep, but for some reason, a “Spada” was in my hands.

“Be alert…is that what you want to tell me?”

It was probably a message from that man with the unique hairdo. Always be ready for any situation.

Or so I thought.

“I have to protect them.”

Because I didn’t want to feel pain like that ever again.

In my mind, I saw my mentor and the others walk through the hellfire.

Their backs looked so faint, as if they would disappear at any moment.

“I won’t let anyone be killed. Anyone that stands in the way will die by my blade.”

In the past, I hesitated to kill. I repeated my pledge to myself, to destroy any such lingering hesitation.

No matter who stood in my way…

No matter how strong they might be…

“There’s nothing my ‘Spada’ cannot cut.”

I swung my “Spada” upward and downward, in succession.

After that, I placed it carefully beside me.

The night was illuminated by a ghastly, pale moonlight.


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