SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 16
Chapter 16 – The Man Called Sword Emperor
All around me, sharp, black objects emerged from the shadows — swords.
A scene very familiar to me.
It was slightly different than usual however.
More precisely, the shapes of the shadow swords were not all the same.
“I’ll show you something special.”
My words were directed at my opponent, Grimnaught Izak — but also at the creator of the illusion barrier, Traum, and the man who built the ruins, Rudolf.
— can you see me?
I didn’t say who. The people I wanted to show this to were not only one or two.
There was no way for me to get over my past apparently. But I didn’t think I had to. Once again, I thought I just needed to carry it all within me and live on.
That was what shaped me.
People might say I was just running away, but there was no helping it: that’s who I was. Nothing I could do about it.
Because I loved my mentor and the others, who treated someone like me with so much kindness. Because I can’t forget them. There was no helping it.
My lips curved into a sincere smile.
“Prepare yourself, Grimnaught Izak.”
An utter fool who couldn’t throw away one speck of his past, who carried it all within.
Such foolishness, however — was very much like me.
“To repay your respects and more, I am going to cut you down with all my power.”
“ — haha, hahaha!!” “Hahaha!!” “Haha..hah…HAHAHA!!” “HAHAHAHAHA!!!!”
A crazed, intermittent laugh.
Its source was probably excited beyond measure: he smiled like never before, his voice thundering from the pit of his stomach.
Cohen Socaccio was spectating from the sidelines. He had *already read* the countless swords dotting the surroundings from my mind, and couldn’t help but smile.
“I see…aah, now I see…I finally understand it all. Fay Hanse Diestburg — no, I suppose now I should use the name ‘Sword Emperor’.”
He used that name on purpose.
“A title given to a lone swordsman? Don’t make me laugh. That answer couldn’t be farthest from the truth.”
The countless swords emerged all around Fay Hanse Diestburg.
Cohen “Heart Scan” Socaccio had seen each one of them already, so he could find the answer.
“Listen here, Fay Hanse Diestburg. You are carrying all the swordsmen that fell at your hands within you. I don’t know if you’re doing it consciously or not, but the fact that you engraved them — their way of life, their spirit — into your heart is what made the people call you “Sword Emperor”.”
Who could have ever imagined it? Each one of the swords that emerged from the shadows…those swords all different in size and shape each belonged to swordsmen defeated by him.
They were a symbol of his will, or rather, his memories.
Each one of the shadow blades was an unfading shard of his memories.
After reading it, Cohen couldn’t help but smile.
All those memories, the will residing within them…
Fay saw them as a product of his guilt. That’s why Cohen couldn’t help but laugh.
“The swordsman lauded as the ‘Sword Emperor’ had more doubts than anyone else towards the act of dying…despite this, he only engaged in duels to the death, battles that inevitably ended with death.”
That was the true identity of the man lauded as “Sword Emperor” in that hell on earth, a world rife with anguish and suffering.
He had doubts until the very end about the act of killing, yet killed thousands of swordsmen with his own hands…all he could do was to engrave their spirits, their wills within himself…engrave the sins he could never forget.
He carried them all inside his heart, his mind, his soul, none excluded.
At the same time, even if it was a product of his guilt, for other swordsmen he was a rare existence: someone who would remember them forever.
That was why he was regarded more highly than anyone else.
That was why he was lauded as the “Sword Emperor”.
The generosity he showed towards other swordsmen. The admiration and respect towards the master swordsman who would not forget any of the opponents he fought. He was seen in the same light as a king.
“Ah, aah, aah!! How beautiful!! What a beautifully cruel existence!!”
Cohen shouted, uncaring of his surroundings.
The historical researcher could not help but raise his voice, facing such a twisted way of life.
His body shook, ravished by deep emotions.
“Thus!! I must now announce it for all to hear!! That you, Fay Hanse Diestburg!! You are the ‘Sword Emperor’!!”
In order to gain strength, suffering and sacrifices are necessary. Those called “Heroes” all lived while carrying unique karma within them.
Fay’s guilt towards the sword led him to engrave his sins in his soul, to carry them on forever. Eventually, in the depths of his subconscious, he started thinking of the people he couldn’t save as he had killed them himself. Even if there was no reason for him to bear those sins.
There was no way to describe him, other than pitifully foolish.
“Yes — show it to me, that sword of yours. Let me burn it into my memory.”
Let me witness the sword arm that gave you the title of “Sword Emperor”. After uttering this to himself, Cohen focused on the man dubbed the strongest hero of the empire.
The “Sword Emperor” should be able to quench your thirst, said Cohen.
“…this, yes, this is why I can’t stop studying history…!”
— “Spada – Shadow Corpse Parade”
Those words, completely devoid of any emotion, were uttered right after Cohen’s whisper.
“Honestly, missy…aren’t you a bit too strong? Hmm?”
The man whined between heavy breaths.
Levi, the “Hero” called “Backlash”, peered at his opponent with a tense expression.
“…shit. No wonder I had a bad feeling about it…you’re strong enough to even give ‘Ice Coffin’ a run for his money, goddamnit…screw my luck…”
“Strong, sir? Oh my, is that a proper thing to say to a frail maiden like me?”
“I still haven’t seen one single frail thing in you though…?”
“I’m the frailest one next to Shizuki after all. The sixth out of seven people. Of course I would call myself frail…it is not that I am strong, you are simply too weak — sir ‘Hero’.”
“Gh, listen to this bitch…!”
The next instant, Levi disappeared, without even the sound of his feet kicking the ground.
The “Hero” that was called “Backlash”.
He had the ability to control the wind.
He could use it as a weapon or wrap himself in it to move. It was a very versatile ability indeed.
In the end, that’s all it was though.
“ — hah.”
After Levi shouted aggressively, the woman facing him — Ratifah sighed, annoyed.
“I went out of my way to kindly teach you that you don’t stand a chance against me, and what do you do…?”
Ratifah was still in the middle of her sentence, but suddenly turned around and swung her sword at a seemingly empty spot. For some reason, however, the shrill sound of clashing metal and an irritated voice could be heard.
“I can’t fucking believe it!!! How can you tell where I am!?!?!”
“Because you’re just fast. Even if I can’t see you, there’s no way I can’t tell where you are.”
“…tch…damn…this is why I hate fighting…”
Levi knew that no matter how much he struggled, he could never beat those who managed to do the impossible. Thus he voiced his frustration.
Levi, his expression still clouded, let his head hang down.
“I just have to hold on…until ‘Ice Coffin’ gets here— ”
He couldn’t finish his sentence.
The reason was the unnatural tremor that shook the earth. A heavy, dull tremor, accompanied by a distant sound of impact.
“ — what?”
Levi raised his head and looked in the direction of the sound.
He could see countless objects in the distance — a multitude of thin, black objects.
Were those — swords?
“Hey hey hey, I’ve never seen anything like that…whose ability is that…?”
Feli, who knew the answer to Levi’s question, voiced her concerns for the user of that ability.
“Your Highness…? You mean that is— ”
Levi was about to utter Fay Hanse Diestburg’s name, but was interrupted.
Interrupted by a thunderbolt, louder and more powerful than anything he witnessed before.
“No looking away, sir.”
Ratifah had a twisted smile on her lips.
“Well, I guess it’s fine though…I have new plans now.”
“Correct…I have to go see the face of a certain fool who included my sword in his ‘Spada’.”
The time for games was over, she added.
“So, just for a little bit…”
Levi focused as much as he could.
He was sure of it. He made an attempt to overcome Ratifah’s superiority, but—
“…let me fight seriously.”
It only took one second. Without even using her ability, she had moved right in front of him in one split second.
Levi had focused his whole self in anticipating her next move, but before he realized it her fists were already in the air.
“You rely too much on your abilities and only focus on them. That’s why you’re weak.”
Grinding, cracking sounds.
Ratifah’s fist sank deeper in Levi’s stomach, with no regards to his creaking bones.
He had no time to dodge or defend himself. It was a direct hit, plain and simple.
Levi was tossed away, bouncing like a ball on the ground, quickly disappearing into the distance together with the debris he bumped against.
Ratifah’s offensive, however, did not end there.
“Pierce — ‘Folgore – Thunderstrike’.”
Countless thunderbolts surged forward.
They spread throughout the surroundings, too fast for the human eye to follow.
“— Fluegel – Sky Wings of Aurai — !”
The thunderbolts, however, failed to reach Levi. A concentration of breeze and winds, which formed a barely visible set of wings, carried him away from danger.
“Hmm, I went pretty seriously with that punch though…”
“…I bet…you did…I lost consciousness for a second…”
Levi looked deathly pale. He tried calming down his ragged breath as he wiped the blood trailing from his mouth.
“Oh well. I doubt you could be a threat for Shizuki…but *you should kill when you can.* That’s something *we* got pounded into our heads, you see.”
The empire is Diestburg’s enemy. And you are an imperial hero — time to exit the stage.
So continued Ratifah.
“I told you I hated fighting, didn’t I…why did it have to turn out like this— !!”