SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 22
Chapter 22 – This is my Way of Life
“Is that so…!”
Grimnaught swung his arms once again.
The words he uttered brimmed with all of his emotions. He smiled dauntlessly as he roared his displeasure at my attitude.
He didn’t actually put it into words, though: maybe because he didn’t have the luxury, or maybe because he felt he didn’t have the right.
Our weapons clashed against each other, metal grinding against metal.
The next instant…
The muscles in Grimnaught’s arms swelled visibly.
The pressure and weight both increased.
“I’m not scary, you say. Hmm…and? What about it?”
Grimnaught smiled dauntlessly.
He continued focusing more and more power in his trembling arms, as he spewed words at me.
“I’m not scary. I see, so that’s your way of thinking…on the battlefield, those who feel fear are the first to die. To be able to instill fear and terror in your enemies is vital. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of thinking…but!! That kind of thinking is *for the sake of victory*! For the sake of staying alive!!”
The empire’s strongest warrior bellowed from his soul.
“I don’t know what kind of battlefields you came from!! I see that your mentor was probably a gifted instructor, as he taught you how to instill fear in the heart of your enemy! However…you have something wrong here. I do not want to win, nor do I want to lose. *I simply, purely want to fight*.”
A broken, fake smile.
The fighting style of a battle-crazy berserker.
Words exuding overblown confidence.
A dull, unclear gaze that added to the unsettling atmosphere.
I did not possess any of these traits at birth: I learned them all.
My mentor taught me everything.
That was my honest opinion of Grimnaught’s words.
“I just want to fight as long as my life sustains me. Can you understand me? Fay Hanse Diestburg?”
If I can fight until my thirst is quenched, it doesn’t matter if I am dead or alive at the end of the battle. I will have no regrets.
Grimnaught’s wide, innocent smile expressed such feelings clearly.
He’s really like them, I thought.
Like those people who sought, who longed for a satisfying death. The path they walked on to reach such a conclusion was different, but in essence the meaning was the same.
“Ever heard the words ‘while there’s life, there’s hope’?”
It definitely wasn’t something a person like me could say: someone who fought with no regards to his wounds, who wished desperately to die since his past life. Hence I laughed at my own words.
“No, never! Honestly, I don’t understand the point of living while suppressing your desires, see?”
— you liar, you know those words then…
I mentally sighed at Grimnaught’s bare-faced lie.
Soon enough, our weapons were thrown out of their deadlock. We swung them again — and clashed.
Sparks flew all around us, again and again.
I swung my “Spada” wildly, violently.
A relentless offensive that moved faster than sound. The shockwaves it produced started cracking the ice at our feet.
“There is one thing I don’t understand…and I want to ask you about it, boy.”
Grimnaught paused for a moment, then continued.
Our blades moved at a speed beyond visibility. Even in such a state, he had a question to ask.
I suspected it might be a trick to distract me, but that turned out not to be the case.
“What drives you to swing your sword? It isn’t a reason like mine…is it?”
The question was probably born from his pure passion for battle.
His assumption was also completely correct.
If I had to express my honest feelings, I would say that, while I do not enjoy fighting, I do not hate it either. That was probably it.
“…does one need a reason to swing a sword?”
“I just wanted to know…what could lead a person to swing such a burdened sword. That’s all, boy.”
“What’s the point in knowing that?”
“Nothing, I guess? But I’d feel more satisfied.”
Grimnaught cackled and smiled broadly.
It really was a meaningless question, only asked out of curiosity.
So I thought that there was no point in answering. However…
“…there are too many things that I don’t want to lose. But all I have to protect them is my sword. And so I swing it…satisfied now?”
I didn’t know why I answered Grimnaught’s question. I told myself it was part of returning his respects.
I swung my sword to protect.
To protect those important, irreplaceable to me, my “normal” life, whatever remained of my pride, my egoism, my humanity.
“A reason befitting your age…unlike your skills with the sword.”
Grimnaught’s smile was honest, with no trace of derision or mocking.
As if he found my reasons wholesome.
You can smile like that because you don’t know true loneliness, I spat back in my heart.
“…I would have loved to live like you, if only I could.”
So I replied, with a tone oozing with sarcasm.
Once again, our blades repelled each other.
I took advantage of the distance created between us and raised my left hand — only to swing it down immediately.
It happened in an instant.
Part of the “Spada – Shadow Corpse Parade” weapons floating in midair shot towards Grimnaught.
The reason why I picked up the sword was because others protected me with their life.
One of my comrades in the past world — Rezenoir, the man who lost all emotion — once said that it was better to go off the deep end, to go insane. That it made everything easier.
It was really true. If I could become a battle maniac like Grimnaught, living would be so much easier.
“Just live like me, then! Who could stop you!?”
Grimnaught was busy dealing with the “Shadow Corpse Parade” blades’ deluge, but still managed to shout his objection at me.
…I hadn’t picked up the sword for a reason like that, though. I was never going to walk that path.
To protect. That was the simple concept that motivated and animated my sword arm.
“…I said that I would not be shamed, didn’t I? But make no mistakes, I didn’t say it to you.”
But to my mentor and the rest of my past family.
“They called me stupid, foolish, and worse. But I could never change this part of me.”
Sepia memories appeared in my mind.
They called me a stupid fool, because I didn’t have enough strength to back up my words. But in the end, even if they sighed at my helplessness, my mentor and the others smiled wryly, saying it was just like me to talk like that.
I had no intention to change my way of thinking, but if they learned I was easy to sway, what would they think?
…that was why I couldn’t act shamefully.
“I’ve been told stuff like that since long ago. I’m not going to change at this point.”
Foolishly dragging my past with me.
Stupidly pounding promises into my soul.
Admiring, longing for — a death without compromise.
“I’m just an idiot, after all. No matter what I do. But — that’s fine by me, to be honest. Not that you’d ever understand, Grimnaught Izak.”
The answer I reached after living by accusing and blaming myself day after day.
“There are people somewhere — up in the sky or wherever — that I want to make proud. I want them to think that my life was worth saving. I don’t want to become someone they’d regret losing their life for.”
Because I believed that was the duty of someone whose life was saved by others.
They left their way to fight, their way to live with me.
“So if I swing my sword, I cannot lose.”
If I lost, all that was entrusted to me would become a lie.
“…we’ve talked enough…fighting with you made me feel kind of nostalgic.”
I really felt like I was fighting against a swordsman from that world.
“It’s kind of pathetic, but I can’t put up a front for much longer either.”
I could hear painful cracks from my whole body. My head pounded as well. Bloody tears started trickling out of my eyes.
“Spada – Shadow Corpse Parade” was far beyond my current abilities, after all. I forced my body to use it because I wanted to put up a strong front, to return Grimnaught’s respects.
I was aware of how foolish that was.
“Time to end this, then.”
“Don’t you say that now, Fay Hanse Diestburg!!! Our battle’s climax has just begun!!”
“I haven’t asked for your opinion, old man. I said it’s time to end this fight. It doesn’t matter what you or anyone does — *this ends now*.”
I pointed the “Spada” in my right hand to the sky. As if I was telegraphing my next attack.
I had no intention to miss, however.
“Rise!! O Ice Dragon Brionac!!”
Following Grimnaught’s shout, a statue of ice formed behind him — taking the shape of a dragon.
My declaration that the battle was going to end probably pushed him to use his final trump card.
The ice dragon probably measured over 100 metres — it was large enough to fully occupy my line of sight.
The dragon’s eyes blinked, then fixed on me. It seemed to have an independent will.
“That’s not going to help you.”
There is absolutely nothing my “Spada” cannot cut.
Grimnaught surely planned to defeat me with his next attack, but I simply smiled.
“Kill — ”
“Kill — ”
Curiously enough, we uttered the same command.
“ — Spada.”
“ — Glacies!!”
Our voices resounded at the same time.