SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 9
Chapter 9 – Try and Make me Draw
— not good.
I tried to earnestly run away, but that scenery, stuck like a film over my eyes, did not allow me to.
I didn’t have to carry her.
I looked at Elena and almost complained out loud, but stopped myself in time.
Thanks to the previous exchange, I had a relatively good idea of the large man’s ability.
That reaction speed. He had blocked my kick, but should have hurt his back to a degree: nevertheless, he showed no signs of pain. I was forced to admit that he would not go down easily.
… however, I didn’t have the slightest intention to fight with my “Spada” in these ruins. Thus I explicitly said I wasn’t going to draw my sword.
Even if I did draw it, I could not fight to my fullest in this situation.
To fight while protecting someone was not my specialty.
My original style consisted of fighting while disregarding my own body, to let the enemy cut my flesh and sever their bones. If I fought while protecting someone else, my fighting prowess took a major hit.
“Your name is Shizuki, yes?”
I heard a voice.
It was a tone I was not very familiar with. The person it reminded me of was —
“Let us assist you.”
The man Elena called Raem had approached me.
One of Elena’s subordinates, whom I had only recently met.
He barely knew me and looked at me with suspicion until minutes ago, but apparently lowered his guard a bit now.
“Only an idiot would still act hostile while you’re protecting our princess like that.”
My doubts probably showed on my face: Raem answered my unspoken question, his face a bit tense.
He probably meant to say that he was no such idiot.
“…so, what d’you think I should do? I’m going to follow your instructions, until we get out of here.”
It was a mystery to me why he would say he wanted to follow my orders, but Raem then expressed his reasons.
“Seeing what you did just now was enough to know you’re stronger than me. Rather than risk getting in your way, it’d be better to follow your orders from the start, don’t you think?”
I was honestly thankful to his offer.
“Your name was Raem, yes? How many seconds could you keep that huge guy occupied?”
“…haha, me against *that* Grimnaught Izak?”
“You know him?”
“It’d be harder to find someone who doesn’t know a famous Hero like that.”
“I see. He’s supposed to be the strongest, after all.”
I recalled how Cohen described Ice Coffin. Through the kick I gave him, I could tell it was no empty title.
“I could maybe hold for 4 seconds, if that.”
I wouldn’t call him “strongest” myself, but he was a powerful opponent, without a doubt. His fame wasn’t undeserved.
As time passed, I felt the intimidation he emanated gradually grow.
To run from here all the way to the exit, shatter the ice barrier that sealed it and flee safely from Ice Coffin, all the while carrying Elena with me. Could such a thing be possible in four seconds…? Definitely not.
In that case…
“Then I’ll leave her with you.”
I had to buy the time necessary for Elena to escape.
I would have preferred her to run on her own two legs, but her mental damage wasn’t going to heal so easily. The only hope she clung to turned out to be an illusion…her recovery would surely take time.
I unceremoniously handed Elena over to Raem, then exhaled.
“…what are you planning to do?”
“No matter what plans I have, I can’t do anything with dead weight dragging me down…first of all, I’ll buy enough time so she can get out of here.”
So find a chance to get her out as soon as you can, I added.
Even if I had to fight Ice Coffin, I was going to take it outside the ruins. And I couldn’t tell if I could defeat him while carrying Elena.
…It’s not like I didn’t have any chances of winning, but, in any case, Elena wouldn’t survive. As I realized I mentally cursed myself for taking on such a troublesome task.
Ensuring her escape was part of my promise with Cohen.
If I didn’t keep it, I might not be able to learn about the mastermind behind the “Abominations”.
Besides, if she was taken by the enemy a new, dangerous “Abomination” would be born: an outcome I loathed even thinking about.
Protecting Elena was an absolute imperative at the moment; even so, I didn’t reach for my “Spada”. I knew the reason very well.
“…I’m as cold as ever, huh.”
I couldn’t help but grin and chuckle.
I imagined a set of scales.
The desire to keep the ruins intact on one side and the idea of protecting Elena at the ruins’ expense.
The option I chose was the former.
Even if it was difficult to fight inside the ruins, if I wielded my “Spada” the survival rate of the humans around me would doubtlessly increase. Because Ice Coffin would be forced to focus on me only.
“…ha, haha…I knew it. I haven’t changed at all.”
I cannot change anything.
Every time I faced situations like this one, I clearly saw what kind of person I was. How nothing in me had changed from the past.
Feli and others called me “kind”, but even now I was thinking how easier it would be if I could cut down the people connected to me…would a “kind” person think of something like that?
I once again realized I was the same person as before and felt relief.
“Listen here, Rudolf. Maybe we were insane too from the start, and we just didn’t realize it.”
You were born in the wrong world.
Even if others said those things to me, my thoughts were full of shit. And I never suspected there was anything wrong in them.
“What’s going on? Getting talkative all of a sudden, boy? Did you lose or mind or something?”
“Oh, sorry. My emotions are pretty much unstable all the time, you see.”
As soon as I spoke, I was putting myself down. That was proof. Except that habit I acquired who knows when, my words always reflected my regrets and guilt. So I saw and judged myself.
“If you’re willing to lend an ear, I could talk for a couple hours, though?”
“Haha, HAHAHAHA!!! There’s not a bone in me willing to waste time with chatter, boy! Did you really think otherwise?”
“If I said I did, would you listen?”
“Go ahead and try. Just don’t call me a coward after what I will do in response.”
Ice Coffin told me to keep talking if I wanted: he would not stop swinging his blade though. His declaration was so blunt it felt almost refreshing.
“…where is your weapon, boy?”
I had taken a stance with a lower center of gravity, ready to react at any moment. Ice Coffin looked at me and asked the question.
My “Spada” was still in its sheath, hanging from my waist.
“Don’t need it. I don’t feel like drawing it — yet.”
“Oh? Oooh!? It takes guts to say something like that before Grimnaught Izak!”
“I’ll draw it if things get dangerous, of course. I have reasons to not die yet, so…if you don’t like me not using my sword, go on and make me draw it, big guy.”
The light in Grimnaught’s eyes changed.
“I shall go on and make you, then.”
His chilling words reached my ears.
There was a fair distance between us, but his words reverberated in my ears as if they were spoken right next to me.
The next instant, something jolted my senses awake.
Ice Coffin’s massive body twisted in the darkness, as if he had shot a cannonball.
— that was damn fast.
An honest impression formed in my chest, but I didn’t have the time or luxury to express it in words.
I had reflexively dodged the tip of his spear, thrust forward with so much momentum it created a gust of wind.
From that position, I spun my body to deliver a roundhouse kick from below to my opponent.
“How did you…dodge that…!?”
The sound of heavy impact shook my eardrums.
Once again, my leg clashed with his weapon.
“Though, that was a foolish move.”
They came from my leg this time.
Ice Coffin mocked my decision to injure my legs, the source of my mobility, but —
“ —nope, can’t hear you.”
Ignoring the dull pain rising from my legs, I completed the sweep of my kick.
I heard the sound of something cracking, but in my case, it wasn’t necessary to care about that degree of damage.
Grinding and cracking.
Something born from the shadows at my feet enveloped my legs for a few seconds, sinking into them with such unpleasant sounds. It was my “Spada”’s unique method to force my wounds to heal. It was painful, but extremely effective.
“…ooh. I see. That’s some curious magic.”
Ice Coffin had been pushed back by my kick, but was still steady on his feet, arms crossed, as he studied me.
“Since you can heal, you don’t need to be too careful, is that it?”
Ice Coffin nodded with a convinced expression on his face.
“Hmm, what an exhilarating way of thinking.”
Ice Coffin reacted to my fighting style, which disregarded any pain I would feel, by narrowing his eyes and grinning with pleasure.
“I decided, boy.”
In terms of physical battle abilities, Grimnaught and me could be said to be equal.
It might seem like there was no great difference between us at the moment, but what would happen when I drew my sword?
That was probably the reason.
“I am going to make you draw that sword.”
The countless ice shards, which existed silently until then, started cracking.
“We have the rare opportunity to fight. Holding back would be a true shame. Don’t you agree with me, boy?”