SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 18
Chapter 18 – Vincenz
— Swords, broadswords. Twin swords…spears and knuckles. Fay switched weapon after weapon and continued to strike the giant, extremely pleased man. Two women watched their fight as they approached. They were walking at a normal speed, probably because they knew they would just get in the way if they tried to help.
One of the women, Feli, furrowed her brow. She could not understand how Fay could use so many different weapons.
“…after seeing them every day for such a long time, I guess he’d pick up how to use them…?”
On the other hand — Ratifah closed her comment with a sigh.
Feli’s gaze moved from the distant Fay to Ratifah, who was walking next to her.
“…so, would you kindly tell me what exactly is going on here? Ratifah.”
“Well, let’s see, where should I start…”
Ratifah smiled wryly.
Just before, after she had fought and overwhelmed the imperial hero “Backlash”, Feli had pressed her to explain what was going on, to which Ratifah proposed to talk while walking, feeling resigned.
…or rather, it was more correct to say she had decided to talk from the start.
Ratifah thought that if they were going to fight the “Abominations” from now on, it would be more convenient to tell Feli the truth, rather than continue to keep secrets.
“…in simple terms, both Shizuki and I are reincarnated. We have lived in this world already, in the past. That is our true identity.”
“You two are…reborn?”
No normal person would believe something like that. But if asked who she really was, Ratifah could not reply any other way. The reaction to her reveal was…
“I see, now I understand.”
As if Feli had already anticipated it.
“…reincarnation…I feel this explains many things.”
“Unlike me, Shizuki couldn’t hide it completely, after all.”
Even without the Afillis events, which acted as a trigger, Fay’s explicit dislike of the sword and his exaggerated self-loathing suggested he had something to hide. Anyone would have guessed it.
The deciding factor was that he had enough battle prowess to defeat one of the warriors lauded as “Heroes” in this world.
…you’re as easy to understand as always, Shizuki…
So Ratifah scolded him in her heart.
“We used to travel together, under the guidance of the same man…that was our relationship, so I decided I wanted to stay close to him and protect him. To stay as close as possible to my clumsy little brother and protect him.”
So I became his personal maid.
Ratifah added that she approached Fay’s older brother, Stenn, in order to do it.
“I wanted to continue doing just that…but the circumstances won’t allow it anymore.”
That was the reason why she was here, why she decided to act so openly.
“A knight who died recently…entrusted this thing to me.”
Ratifah took a small pouch out of her clothes.
It was given to her by the imperial knight who attacked Fay. Before dying, he gave her the pouch with the words “you’re the only one.” The contents were a “black pill”.
“A drug. A drug that turns people into monsters. The worst drug in the world…but thanks to that, the mystery of our rebirth in this world is finally solved.”
The fact that the mystery was solved by something they both loathed with all their hearts was cruel irony.
“The cause is our mentor — Vincenz. He’s definitely the one who sent us to this era…an era in which the “Abominations” are born again.”
“…is such a thing really possible?”
Feli couldn’t believe what she heard. To send people from the past to the future?
“…in that era, there was one exceptional ability user that could make such a thing possible…Vincenz and his ‘Time Flow Manipulation’ ability could probably do something like this. That would explain everything.”
In this world, “Heroes” were in the same category as natural disasters. Their mere presence was enough to decide the results of conflicts between whole countries.
Ratifah had just utterly destroyed one of these “Heroes”. And she was now talking of an “exceptional” ability user.
No matter how much her brain told her it was impossible, Feli couldn’t say it out loud. Her lips remained sealed.
“…they always were too kind for their own good. Even after dying, they continue fussing over us…”
Ratifah recalled the names of those companions, all much more powerful than her.
They were not here anymore.
Not one of them was in this world.
…that was probably their way of fussing over her and Fay.
『We adults have messed up and involved even the kids, Shizuki and Tiara, in our troubles.』
Those words were uttered by Vincenz, a certain day.
『We will make amends, one day. I swear I will, even if I die first.』
This rebirth was his way to make amends, as it turned out.
『After that, please resent me as much as you want. Curse me for forcing everything on you.』
It was probably also the reason why he asked her to resent him.
Was it intentional or an inevitable future? There was no way of knowing anymore.
“Too kind for their own good, you say…they were probably similar to His Highness then.”
“That’s right…Shizuki’s personality is very close to Vincenz’. That self-deprecating habit, everything else…Shizuki takes after even his worst traits…”
That’s how much Shizuki liked and admired him…it was very like him to do so.
“…so, Ratifah, what are you going to do now?”
“It doesn’t look like we should get involved, so I say we just watch.”
She answered immediately.
Despite expressing her concerns so many times, the words she voiced without hesitation completely overturned Feli’s expectations.
“I would maybe interfere if he was arrogant or drunk with power, but it doesn’t seem there’s any need to worry.”
“…that is the impression you have…?”
Feli saw a swordsman using a great variety of weapons, one after the other.
She had lived much longer than the average human being, but could not hide her amazement.
The swordsman in her, however, had a different opinion.
To show off one’s swordplay in such a manner was nothing but arrogance, wasn’t it?
“Even if he loathes the sword, he lived a swordsman’s life. He knows how to pay proper respect.”
Above all, Fay Hanse Diestburg was not the type of person to humiliate an opponent he had recognized as a swordsman.
He was foolishly honest, kind…someone who had learned the way of the swordsman from his mentor and companions.
“…if my prediction is correct, Shizuki plans to imitate his mentor. Because he thinks it’s the greatest way to show respect. Shizuki still thinks Vincenz is the apex of all swordsmen.”
It was impossible to switch gears from 0 to 100 in a single move.
If he took more gradual steps…from 0 to 10, 20, 30…eventually he would reach 100. Fay was currently accelerating in such a manner.
If Traum knew that his sword art was used as a step to accelerate, he’d be furious…thought Ratifah as she stifled her laughter.
“He probably also wishes to show them though. After all, this is…”
— a place surrounded by Traum’s illusions.
Ratifah had also immediately recognized Traum’s peculiar illusions.
Shizuki surely wanted to show us, Vincenz and everyone else, how far he had progressed. He wanted to be praised.
That purity – innocence – of his was the reason why they all looked out for him. Ratifah was aware of this, so she could not criticize him for showing off his skills like this. She thought she should stay there and watch over him instead.
Her lips curved into a wry smile.
A new silhouette entered their field of sight.
A man wearing sunglasses was standing in front of a group of bushes — Cohen Socaccio had both of his hands raised in the air, a vaguely creepy smile on his lips.
“Time to do one more job, I guess?”
Ratifah locked eyes with Cohen, then spoke up.
“Did you do this?”
Ten or so men in uniform were knocked out on the ground.
Some of them showed signs of movement: they had not been killed.
“…I guess I should ask…did you have a falling out?”
There was no one like Cohen among Ratifah’s acquaintances or the Diestburg people she knew. She thus concluded he had to be on the empire’s side, and Feli did not deny it.
The uniformed men Cohen claimed to have rendered unconscious certainly did not seem to be acting.
“No, that’s not it. This is just my way to make up for what I did. For proposing a deal to Fay Hanse Diestburg, but testing him at the same time.”
“You made a deal with Shizuki?”
“Right. So I have no hostile intentions towards you two, since you’re on his side. I don’t have any reason to fight for the empire against a monster capable of taking down ‘Backlash’ unscathed anyway.”
“And you think we’ll just believe you?”
“I do. You have no choice but to believe me. Am I right — Tiara?”
It felt like the very air cracked and shattered around them. Ratifah’s face lost all expression.
“It’s my old name.
Ratifah replied to Feli’s question without hesitation.
Fay was the only person in this world to know the name “Tiara”. The only possible explanation was that Fay told Cohen that name, but it had a fatal flaw.
Fay himself was not aware that Ratifah was Tiara’s reincarnation.
“…how did you learn that name?”
“Ha…hahaha. What pleasant killing intent. It’s been a while since I felt afraid of someone else. Thanks to my ability, I can see what’s going to happen, so it’s pretty fun, you see.”
Cohen’s ability to read people’s hearts and thoughts let him see everything. How could he be surprised or scared by what he knew already?
This time too, Cohen already knew. He knew he would be on the receiving end of Ratifah’s killing intent, but felt fear all the same. That’s how powerful it was. Thus his lips formed a twisted smile.
“You read my heart…? I see, you have an ability like Rezenoir.”
Ratifah did not show much surprise: she knew of a man who could read hearts, thoughts, memories, even see the future seconds ahead.
“You understand quickly, very good…it’s thanks to this ability that I could make a deal with Fay Hanse Diestburg.”
Information was a weapon.
Ratifah knew well the extent of Rezenoir’s existence in the past world. So she could hush her surge of killing intent.
Cohen’s words convinced her that he was not to be killed on the spot.
“The conditions of the deal are — to reveal to Fay Hanse Diestburg the name of the creator of the monsters he called ‘Abominations’.”
That’s just like him, thought Ratifah.
As his mentor and companions died, Fay was left only with the extermination of the “Abominations”.
That was the greatest reason why he was obsessed with them to this day.
Ratifah shared the same connection to the “Abominations”.
“Understood. We’ll decide what to do with you after Shizuki comes back.”
Feli wanted to ask if that was really the right choice.
Cohen was definitely a highly dangerous individual. He had rendered several soldiers powerless without sustaining any damage and had the ability to read into people’s hearts.
“It’s alright, head maid. I know by experience that people like him hold their life very dear…he would never turn hostile on us three in a situation like this.”
“I could kill him with a finger if I wanted anyway.”
“Ha, haha…how utterly terrifying…”
“You’re a lucky man, if this is enough to scare you.”
— that era was filled with monsters.
Cohen had called Ratifah a “monster”, but even she could only tremble before the true monsters that populated the past era.
Those monsters roamed the world, obsessed with nothing but their blades. They would not stop even if they lost a limb or had gaping holes in their stomachs, not until they drew their last breath.
Vincenz described that world as a place where “Only those who became beasts could survive”.
“It’s a good chance, you should watch too.”
Tiara and Shizuki considered Traum, Rudolf, and Rezenoir to be monsters; the latter three, however, agreed that the true monster beyond comparison was only one: Vincenz.
Ratifah turned towards Fay, who was preparing to imitate that very monster, and continued.
“You’re going to see something interesting.”