SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 21
Chapter 21 – No Fear to be Found
“Ha, haha…that was just one blow…a bit too early to feel so smug, boy.”
Pain from slashing wounds. Shock damage on the back. A pressure difficult to put into words.
Grimnaught had to be suffering from various kinds of damage, but still showed no signs of stopping, as if none of that mattered to him.
The sound of freezing was accompanied by a voice filled with glee.
“I cannot use my arms anymore, yes, but I still have my magic. My legs. My body.”
I knew that.
I knew more than anyone else what kind of words were going to follow. Because I had heard them more than anyone else.
“A small price to pay compared to death…right?”
“…you bring me joy to no end, my boy. Haha…hahaha…I can’t get enough of this. Haha…!! You are the best opponent I could hope for!!”
“We’re just cut from the same cloth. Nothing to be surprised about.”
“Indeed, that is true too. Or rather, I wouldn’t accept any other explanation.”
We both made no compromises towards death.
We weren’t going to give up on life easily. Even if we were to escape into the arms of death, we would only do so in a way that satisfied us. Grimnaught surely had such thoughts too, at least once.
So I could understand his feelings.
“That makes this all the more regrettable though.”
Grimnaught then looked at his arms.
They were completely frozen, probably to stop the blood loss.
Grimnaught looked at the blocks of ice, encasing his vivid red limbs, then continued, apologetically.
“…I would have preferred to wage my spear against your sword until the end, but as you can see, my arms are in this state.”
Grimnaught’s eyes clearly showed his disappointment in his arms, rendered powerless. His gaze shifted towards me.
“However, I am not so weak as to hand you over the victory like this. For someone like me, who favors fighting head on, magic is something I should despise. I could not die before showing the first worthy rival I found in a long time all I am capable of though. Thus I took the liberty to weigh the options.”
Whether to discard his values and, literally, pour every last ounce of his strength into this battle or not.
That was probably what Grimnaught meant.
The ice surface extending before my eyes was the answer.
“…in the end, the desire to relish in this battle, even at the cost of bending my beliefs, was the winner. Thus you will have to bear with me a little more.”
Grimnaught did not wait for my answer before announcing his next magic spell — “Ice Wolf – Haze”
A veil of mist started enveloping my field of sight: it seemed to be formed by countless ice shards.
Grimnaught’s silhouette disappeared, concealed by the mist.
Voices also began to echo all around me. I couldn’t tell if they were true or mere illusions, but my ears were constantly grazed by distant cries and howling.
Both my sense of sight and hearing had thus been rendered useless by the mist.
“…I just need to wipe it away.”
I strengthened the grip on my “Spada”, then performed a wide sweeping motion.
The veil of mist was sliced across and started dissipating.
One slash was enough to neutralize the mist, which turned out to be nothing but a trick. Grimnaught, who had approached me with the intention of using the mist as a camouflage to strike undetected, looked bewildered.
His expression was enough to scream how he couldn’t believe his eyes.
His lips were curved upwards as usual, however, signaling his extreme enjoyment of the situation.
“A single sword slash isn’t supposed to do anything to that magic…boy, aren’t you too extreme!? Aren’t you!?”
Grimnaught swung his arms.
His nearly severed arms, encased in ice, morphed into frozen blades. They swung at me, accompanied by a powerful gust of wind.
— I thought you said your arms were useless man.
I honestly wanted to taunt him out loud, but there was no time or leeway to do so.
The sound of clashing metal echoed again, followed by cracking and grinding of ice against sword. Eventually, both of them were repelled.
Grimnaught was probably waiting for the moment the distance between us widened: he jumped backward, then raised his right arm.
“ — Ice Coffin Deluge — !!”
His “Glacier World” had covered the surroundings with ice.
Crackling sounds accompanied the formation of blades of ice, as the world of ice surrounding me in all directions turned into a lethal weapon.
The icicle blades and Grimnaught himself closed in on me. I had no way of escape.
Not that it mattered however.
As I was once told by a certain man in my family…
There is nothing my “Spada” cannot cut. That was all there was to it.
That was reason enough for me.
“Traum said my ‘Spada’ can cut through anything, thus it will. That’s it. I believe in it, so it matters little what lies before me: as long as I hold my ‘Spada’ in my hands, there is nothing I cannot cut — and nothing else matters.”
I swung my “Spada”, together with words this time.
“Crush him — Spada – Slash!”
Black mist erupted from my “Spada” and enveloped the blade, launching a shadow crescent at the same time as the slash.
“Spada – Slash” and “Hail Coffin Deluge” were going to clash.
Shockwaves and howling winds pounded my eardrums.
Our fierce exchange of blows, however, was not over yet.
“Did you forget about this, boy? — Ice Wolf – Haze — !!!”
Despite my slash sweeping it away, the ice mist still faintly persisted.
The mist I had utterly removed from my focus had now assumed a wolf-like shape.
Quite a flashy move, I thought as I directed my attention to the dozens of ice wolves approaching me, attempting to stop their movement.
“Spada – Shadow…no, wait.”
My words stopped halfway. Or rather, I couldn’t complete them.
My “Spada – Shadow Bind” created swords from the target’s shadow to block all movement. However…
“They don’t cast shadows…?”
All things had shadows, no matter if they were living creatures or not. For some reason, however, I couldn’t see the ice wolves’ shadows.
Grimnaught did not let that opening go: he forcefully stepped on the ground and swiftly moved in front of me.
Soon enough, I reached a conclusion. The ice wolves probably had no physical form.
If I could use magic like Feli, I could have probably countered them a different way. The only method of attack presently available to me, however, was my “Spada”.
So — I completely ignored them.
I focused only on Grimnaught and calmly pointed the tip of my “Spada” at him.
“You realized that your sword cannot cut the wolves, and turned your back to them…!? Your resolve is truly impressive…!!”
Grimnaught’s excited voice resounded in the surroundings.
“It’s not a matter of cutting or not cutting, if they don’t even exist in the first place. No point in wasting time.”
“That is true, yet…how many people could actually put such words into practice!? Who could ever turn their back to a lethal blade— ”
Before Grimnaught finished talking, I focused my strength in my right leg — and jumped to the side.
As soon as I landed, I used my left leg as a pivot and spun my body. A roundhouse from my right leg swept through the ice wolves, like a hooked claw striking its prey.
The wolves disappeared into mist as soon as my kick hit, leaving behind only a faint poof-like sound.
No sensation was transmitted through my leg, as if they never existed in the first place. Only such a bizarre feeling remained.
“…it felt just like touching mist, yes?”
Grimnaught, who attempted a surprise attack while we were still talking, grinned unapologetically.
I thought nothing of it however. I had no complaints to make: to trick the opponent in order to win was a basis of battle.
“You’ll have no apologies from me.”
“I wouldn’t want to hear any. Anything is fair when your life’s on the line.”
The ice mist gradually regained its original shape.
“That’s true too.”
Grimnaught laughed with a hint of self-deprecation.
It might have been the first time for the man lauded as the strongest: the first time that, in a situation highly favorable for him — thanks to “Glacier World” and “Ice Wolf – Haze” — his opponent was foolish enough to say that he could try all the surprise attacks he wanted.
“I shall take those words to heart, boy!!”
Grimnaught’s smile was as wide and bright as ever.
Any hesitation he felt was probably gone: his offensive rush resumed immediately.
A chilling gust of wind.
New icicles formed on the ceiling.
An endless barrage of ice wolves.
I dodged them all with ease, watching them dissipate and disappear. Taking advantage of the single gap in my defense, Grimnaught himself attacked.
Someone called my name.
It was Elena, who had not taken her eyes off our battle.
That was all I heard: any other sound was overwhelmed by the rumble of the falling icicles.
She was probably worried: her voice sounded restless.
So I muttered.
“No need to worry.”
“If he thinks tricks like these mean anything against me, he’s just made a huge mistake.”
My sword was in my hand.
My “Spada” was with me.
Thus I was not troubled in the slightest.
Even if I was surrounded by tens or hundreds of swordsmen at the same time, I would say the same thing.
Because I would simply have to cut them all down.
I just needed to cut down any enemy that stood before me. That was all.
— Laugh, laugh, laugh. This world is so much easier to live in if you’re not right in the head. Someone who laughs even in a desperate situation is scary, right? That’s what I mean.
“You *don’t scare me a bit*, in the first place.”
I knew that my grin wasn’t *natural* at all.
“The strongest ‘Hero’ of the empire, right? Yeah, I can see that. You’re strong for sure. I can honestly say that now that we’ve fought. You don’t scare me though. You might be strong, but you aren’t scary one bit.”