SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 10
Chapter 10 – Battle Fanatic
Icicles rose where Ice Coffin walked.
The “Hero” Grimnaught Izak, who enjoyed fighting while letting his massive magic power overwhelm his opponents, managed such a feat quite literally.
His immense magic power could not be contained within his body. He had been blessed by magic power to such an incredible degree.
A great number of sharp icicle blades had already been created the moment Ice Coffin uttered the words “Hail Coffin Deluge”, but their numbers continued to increase.
Despite my inability to use magic power, I could tell that he had to have an extremely high quantity of magic power.
The ice blades increased without stopping.
All of them pointed in my direction.
“As expected…from someone called ‘Ice Coffin’…”
Raem probably thought he might not be able to escape safely. He was running away with his back to me, carrying Elena, but I could hear his restless, irritated comment.
Even so. Yes, even so.
“ —Hahaha…looks like I’m pretty lucky.”
I laughed fearlessly.
Despite the chilling breeze that made my eyes narrow, I was standing calmly, with an expression unnaturally unfazed, considering the situation.
Grimnaught let his immense magic power do talking, intending to crush anyone and anything in his way. No matter where I looked, there were ice blades everywhere: it was a sight out of this world. Nevertheless, I remembered seeing something very similar.
The reason was…
— it was just like my “Spada”.
A battle style based on materializing countless blades to fight with was exactly what I used.
How many hundreds, thousands of battles had I won with it? It was so deeply ingrained within me, one could say we were one and the same.
Thus I said I was “lucky”.
Thus I laughed.
“Hahaha…hahaha, HAHAHAHA!!! You can laugh, boy!? Can you still laugh!? Haha, what an interesting fellow!! Yet, how long will you manage to act that way…!?”
Every time Grimnaught laughed, the wave of intimidation he released grew more intense.
“In a situation like this, against one revered as a ‘Hero’ such as I, not only do you not draw your sword or show any semblance of using magic, but you manage to be so crazy as to laugh even…no sane man could ever do that. Yet the fighting spirit in your eyes is nothing but dead! What are you, boy!? I cannot grasp you at all!!!”
An average soldier would be infuriated by such behavior, but Grimnaught questioned it while guffawing loudly.
“Because of that!! I shall commend you, boy!! I praise your reckless courage!!”
The spear wailed under Grimnaught’s forceful swing.
“I know why you stand before me. You want that girl to leave this place safely, yes? I will not call that foolish or insane, this time. Because your actions have truly caught my interest.”
His tone of voice was perfectly calm, very different from how he laughed loudly just moments ago.
“In respect to your reckless courage, I will not give chase to that girl until I have killed you. Haha, I was told that I would just have to catch a little girl…the ways of heaven are indeed inscrutable, as they say! Who knew I would encounter something so interesting, yet inexplicable?”
My actions were not meant to inspire any laughter, but to find an opportunity to attack while barehanded and to preserve my pride.
I did not care about how others perceived what I did in the slightest. In these few exchanges, however, I thought I caught a glimpse of the true nature of the man called Grimnaught.
Cohen had designated him as a “helpless fool” who did not understand the value of history, and I could see why.
Once I faced him, it was difficult not to notice. Grimnaught was, without a doubt, the kind of man that saw value only in doing battle. He found worth only in treading on the line between life and death, in fighting with his life at stake. So my instincts told me. He was like Velnar, the vampire I fought on the remote island.
“I care only whether something interests me or not. Nothing else. That is the sole reason why I sided with the empire.”
“I suppose you can’t understand, boy. The feelings of someone who has never met a worthy foe, from the moment he picked up a weapon until the present and grew tired and weary of it…”
If you’re really so weary and tired of it all, shut yourself in your room and sleep. Like me.
That is what I thought, but what I had to focus on now was to buy time.
I chose to wait, as Grimnaught seemed to have more to say.
“I simply wish to fight against strong opponents, until one of us falls. Yet this wish has never been granted to me, not even once.”
“You’re a nuisance for everyone else around you, basically.”
“Hahaha!! A nuisance!! Why not, say what you will! I am prepared to do anything to quench this thirst of mine. Yes, even letting that girl change into a monster.”
“…really. You’re right, I can’t understand your feelings at all. And I never will.”
Picking up a sword by your own will was completely beyond my comprehension. To seek an opponent to fight to the death, to satisfy your own desire? …I could never understand such foolishness. Not a chance.
There was not an inch of acceptance in me for such an insane thirst.
“I see. Now I have an idea what kind of man you are deep down…though I don’t think the ‘Abominations’ could ever quench that thirst of yours. Do you want to fight against strong ‘Abominations’, anyway?”
“Indeed, in order to fight a strong opponent. I have no interest in fighting mindless beasts however. Did you know, boy? There is supposed to be a ‘Hero’ here in Diestburg.”
I replied immediately, so quickly it was almost a reflex.
“You don’t even know such a recent rumor, boy? Anyhow…it seems there is a fairly skilled ‘Hero’ in Diestburg, called Fay Hanse Diestburg. Though, as far as I heard, he doesn’t appear in public often.”
I kept quiet, waiting for Grimnaught to continue.
His knowledge was vague, but nothing about it was wrong. I barely ever left the palace, unless I was forced to by others.
If a battle fanatic like the Grimnaught ever came looking for me…I might even run away from home. That’s the kind of person I was.
“This is just a lure meant to draw him out. The empire people told me to create confusion in Diestburg, but for me, this is nothing but a lure.”
“…really. So you created a situation in which that ‘Hero’ would be forced to come out?”
Exactly, that’s right.
Grimnaught replied to my words with a smile.
…so this was also my fault.
I was not involved directly, but at least the reason why Grimnaught came to the “Forest of Downfall” was to meet me…aah — what a pain.
Although, I knew this might happen the moment I took my sword in my hands again. I knew that the sword was something that scattered death, regardless of my will.
It was too late to have regrets.
I reached this conclusion and waved away the negative feelings hanging over my head.
At that moment, Cohen — who had stayed quiet until now, despite knowing about all our circumstances — stepped inside my field of view. His expression was unreadable, his lips shut: he had no intention to say anything to me or Grimnaught, apparently.
“…Let me correct myself. I’m not lucky at all.”
As always, I had the worst luck, after all.
I retracted my statement from minutes before, an annoyed look on my face.
“Besides, I can’t help feeling a bit responsible…”
Elena’s fate of being targeted by the empire was completely unrelated to me: Grimnaught would have eventually come for her all the same.
In reality, he had come here in order to meet me. That was everything.
“What’s wrong? Have you finally realized your foolishness? This might be your last chance to run, with your tail between your legs, you know?”
“Nonsense. Why should I run away from someone of your level? I took the task to buy time here, but definitely not because I can’t win.”
There is only one person I would turn tail and run from, even by counting my past and current life together. It was too arrogant for even Grimnaught to think he might elicit such a response in me.
“As cocky as ever, boy.”
“Hah, I’m a selfish one, I’ll have you know. Why shouldn’t I say what I think? Why shouldn’t I say whatever I please? There’s no reason for me to keep quiet, is there?”
Enthralled, my eyes narrowed to a slit as my body shook in laughter. For me to keep being me. As long as I could be me.
“…yeah, ‘Ice Coffin’, you’re strong for sure. I’ve seen enough to tell. Just standing here before you, I can feel it.”
Never lost. Never met a worthy opponent. No one could ever satisfy the thirst.
Grimnaught’s wish was like a desperate scream.
A scream that came from the heart.
“But to that, I say…so what?”
…stay there and humor my words like an idiot, come on. I turned my back to Grimnaught as I finished my sentence. Boring people like Grimnaught cannot help by voicing their boring opinions.
“Reckless, cocky, insane…call me what you will. But it really gets on my nerves to hear words like that from someone who can’t kill me. As if you had any right to.”
I could understand what Grimnaught meant, so I couldn’t really deny his words completely…but apparently, I was a pretty aggressive sort of person.
Or maybe I should say that I was too clumsy to be able to lie about myself.
His words…were far too arrogant, despite the fact that he hadn’t accomplished anything against me yet. I just couldn’t accept them.
“You want to know why I say this? Because whatever you say doesn’t mean anything to me until you kill me. Got that? ‘Hero’?”
Before I could even pronounce the last words of my taunt, a crackling sound could be heard, as something came flying towards me.
They were thin and sharp — icicle blades.
I didn’t need to look at the approaching ice darts, I simply twisted my body just the right amount to dodge them.
“Did you know this, old man? In battle, just having the most weapons won’t make you win. It’s not that simple.”
My ability, “Spada”, created blades out of shadows.
As long as there were shadows and I had enough spirit, I could create blades without limit and manipulate them to my will. I could create blades in the thousands, tens of thousands if I wanted.
Despite this, however, there were people not even I could defeat.
I knew several people I could never win against. I also encountered many situations where my greatest strength, the number of blades I could create, meant nothing.
“The reason why? It’s simple. Because be it blades or ice, the one controlling them is always yourself.”
I was aware that I was giving hints to my enemy. But if that could help Elena and the others get even just a little farther away from here, that was fine for me.
“Don’t look at me like you don’t understand what the hell I’m saying. You’ll see soon enough.”
There’s no way to understand something like that before you actually come face to face with the issue.
The same way I did, a long time ago.
— Here I go.
I didn’t say the words out loud but moved my lips to express my intentions, then gradually approached my opponent.
Despite the barrage of ice bullets flying towards me, I moved towards my enemy silently and precisely, quick enough to surpass the speed my opponent could perceive. It was a technique to close the distance with the enemy I had acquired through the grueling battles I experienced in my past life.
Some people called it ground shrink, but there was not enough time for my opponent to realize it.
… I wasn’t going to let them have that luxury.
Grimnaught was wide-eyed in surprise, as more icicles bared their fangs at me.
“It’s the same thing both for my “Spada” and your ice. As long as the one manipulating them is just human, they’re only good for sweeping through small fry or just attract attention.”
“Hah, listen to this brat…!”
“Yeah, you better listen. Because I’m telling the truth.”
I was but a few steps away from Grimnaught. Surrounded in all directions by lethal ice blades, all pointed at me.
I had to do something about it, I thought, and tried a small physical boost.
The next second, from the shadow born from a beacon, the sole source of light in the surroundings, a black flame rose up. It proceeded to wrap tightly around my body, and —
I heard grinding sounds from somewhere in my body.
A fatal sound echoed in my head.
“ —Now, break to pieces.”
I thrust a palm forward.
It was a simple strike, without any unnecessary motions.
I aimed at my opponent’s abdomen but struck with the goal of crushing his organs. The blow, however, was deftly dodged by Grimnaught.
He had used his spear as a shield to emerge unscathed.
That thrust, however, was just the first blow of my counterattack.
“Ha, hahaha!! Your blows are heavy indeed!! It could have been deadly, if only it hit!!”
Ignoring Grimnaught’s boasting, before even one second passed I had already circled behind his back.
“You talk too much.”
The next blow was a kick.
The shadow wrapped around my leg drew a black arc in the air — then struck. The sensation I found, however, was too solid.
“Ice on your legs…? I see.”
My kick was meant to shatter his legs but was again blocked. Grimnaught had quickly countered it by wrapping his leg in ice, to use it as protection.
…it was more and more similar to my own ability.
Grimnaught’s lips were tightly pressed together, but something like a groan managed to escape them.
His whole body probably felt it through his leg. Just how heavy my blows could really be.
I concentrated even more power in my leg, aiming to overpower his ice barrier and crush the flesh underneath. However —
“Hah, haha!! Heavy, yes! But not enough!! NNNGWUAAAAAAHHH!!!!”
Grimnaught roared to psyche himself up. He was supposed to be overwhelmed but started pushing back against my kick.
The icicle darts aimed at me then flew by.
They could only barely graze my cheeks however.
I had not moved one step, but they failed to strike their target nonetheless.
“How did you…!? No, this is not the time to think about that, is it….!!!!”
Grimnaught’s shock only lasted one moment: he regained his composure immediately. As we were too close for him to use his main weapon, he gave up on the spear and thrusted his left fist at me.
The swing was so powerful, it cut through the air with a roar —
To no avail.
The lightning-quick fist was stopped mid-flight, caught by my right hand. I then poured more and more strength in my hand, as if to shatter flesh and bones in my opponent’s hand.
Just then, I heard the clanging sound of something hitting the floor.
Right next to me. It was Grimnaught’s spear, which he let go from his other hand.
“ —I have one more arm I can use. Here, this is on the house…!!”
The other fist flew at me with great momentum.
As long as I kept holding his left fist, I couldn’t dodge the right. There was no time to wonder about what I should do either.
Thus I drew my own best solution.
“Unfortunately, I like to be the one to offer first…!!!”
My answer was…
“Go first, boy!!”
I swung my left fist and our punches crossed.
A painful sound echoed. We had both planted our feet firm, not to be blown away, thus creating countless cracks on the stone floor.
However, it only lasted a few seconds.
Unable to resist the other’s power until the end, we were both flung backward.
I was thrown violently against a wall and my face winced in pain.
A cloud of dust and smoke disrupted my field of view, limited also by the pain coursing through my body, which caused my eyes to narrow to slits.
I could see one silhouette.
Grimnaught, his arms crossed, was laughing to the point his body trembled.
… I went in with the intent to kill…just how tough is this man…?
“Haha!! Hahaha!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! You’re a surprise after another, boy!!”
The damage I caused him was surely piling up, but Grimnaught did not seem to be affected in the slightest.
He simply roared with laughter again and again. That messed-up way of thinking was just incomprehensible for me…that’s why I couldn’t stand battle fanatics.
I kept those words in my thoughts.
My goal was to draw his attention, but as it turned out, I had perhaps been too successful.
The large man stood before me with a creepy glare in his eyes, sparkling like those of a child. I could only hope Elena and the others escaped as fast as possible.