Chapter 45 That Sword
Aah, this is a dream.
While faced with the despairing tragedy in front of me, someone muttered that.
Haa haah, while breathing heavily, I ran through the stone corridor with all strength. I wanted to plug my ears to avoid the roars and screams coming at me from all directions but my right hand was supporting Souichi-kun, who I was carrying on my shoulders, and my left hand was pulling Hiyuu-chan as I ran, so both my hands were not free. Souichi-kun had lost consciousness and so felt very heavy. But this wasn’t the time to be complaining. From behind, a monster, who felt like [death] itself, was chasing us. I ran past many soldiers who were rushing towards where we came from, towards the monster. Seeing as they didn’t even have the time to notice us fully showed just how abnormal this situation was. Their iron armor that hit me as they passed in a rush really hurt.
O’brien-san and others said that they’d hold it back but I doubt they’d win against that monster. Even Souichi-kun, the strongest among us summoned 13, lost consciousness in few seconds. If O’brien-san and the others had not let us run, only the worst case scenario was waiting for us. And even though O’brien-san is still at the training field fighting and holding back those monsters……..here I was pathetically running away along while pulling Hiyuu-chan with me. Even though we had been summoned exactly to help in such a situation.
No, so what if we have received some super strength, without experience it doesn’t change one damn thing. No matter how incredible the power we get, we’re still only amateurs. Our bodies froze just looking at some heavily injured people, and would faint if we saw a corpse.
“O, onii-chan!”(T/N: onii-chan is used by younger children to refer to older boys even when not actually family btw.)
Hiyuu-chan called me. But without even answering her, I ran desperately while pulling her small hand. Even though the sky visible from the windows was clear enough that it could blind you, why the hell did something like this had to happen? I wanted to just escape it all in front of this sudden calamity but I shook my head and tried to calm myself. No need to waste energy on thinking, just run! Run, as far as possible. If this goes on, we’ll all be annihilated. I gripped Hiyuu-chan’s hand tighter. At the very least, I have to save at least this small girl.
“It’ll be fine. O’brien-san and the others will take care of something like that in no time, don’t worry.”(renji)
I said that but Hiyuu-chan’s expression remained poor. It’s only to be expected. If this goes on…..no, the castle is already doomed. Even a child can figure that out. That’s how much the difference in abilities is.
The ones attacking the castle right now weren’t those low class monsters like goblins or orcs that I had read in books. They were demons wearing incredible armor along with giant monsters. Among those, there were even giant chimaeras and golems that alone require tens of knights to defeat. But their numbers weren’t just one or two either.
The surprise attack happened out of nowhere. I was just heading to the training field as usual to practice when the space distorted and monsters appeared out of nothingness. It’d be weird if we could deal with something like that. Souichi-kun who just happened to be with me tried to deal with them but only to end up carried away on my shoulders. No matter how strong of a divine protection of the goddess he had received, Souichi-kun was a middle school student till only a few days ago. There’s no way he’d be able to deal with something like being suddenly surrounded by a vortex of death. As a result, I had no choice but to carry him and pull Hiyuu-chan and run away.
I wonder if Utano-san and the others are safe. I had no way of checking but I can atleast hope they are.
I wonder how far had I run away. Finding the giant door I had become familiar with, I quickly entered inside.
The cathedral. Normally the place was tranquil and peaceful but right now it was filled with people. Injured soldiers and knights. Priests trying to heal as many as they could.
It was truly like the scene from a battlefield you only saw in movies. In front of such a scene, I could only stand in a daze. My body lacked strength. My mind didn’t work. The smell of blood and cries of pain felt disgusting. This was reality, I just couldn’t accept that.
But, there was a small hand that pulled mine.
It was Hiyuu-chan. The one who brought me back to senses was this small girl with eyes filled with anxiety and unease.
Aah, that’s right. I can’t lose my calm right now. I am the one who’s holding this girl’s hand. How could I be the one being anxious instead?
“Hiyuu-chan, let’s take some rest.”
Closing the great door, I spoke that to her. Handing over Souichi-kun to one of the Priests that came worried towards us as we entered, I headed deep inside with Hiyuu-chan. As I searched for a place to sit in the floor filled with towels, blankets, and medical tools and items, I my chest tighten.
Even though I was summoned to fight, I ran away like this. That fact struck me like a thorn. At the deepest part of the cathedral was the silver statue of the goddess and some of the priests were praying to her. But she won’t answer those prayers. She wasn’t even in this world and simply watched over this world from a different place……..probably.
Near that statue, seeing an empty couch, I sat down. Hiyuu-chan sat down beside me as well. Since the longsword on back was an obstruction, I threw it on the ground making a clanking sound. Looking beside me, towards Hiyuu-chan, her white hair, typical to albinos, were sticking to her face from sweat and she was panting fast for breath. We ran so much that even I, an adult, was tired, I can only imagine how much stamina she must have consumed. Realizing that I didn’t even think about her well being while running, I only felt more miserable.
“Yeah, you, Hiyuu-chan?”
“…….I’m alright…as well.”
Just from those small words, I felt my heart lighten a bit. But still, my head hurts thinking about what to do next.
So many monsters had invaded. It’s clear that all of them must be subjugated. But, we lack the power to do so. People, strength, we’re lacking in all of it. Even leaving me aside, the most essential in battle, i.e. Souichi-kun is currently unconscious. And we don’t even know where everybody else is among this chaos and confusion. For people summoned to save this world, we are not being of use at all. In fact, we are the ones getting protected by the people of this world instead.
And as we waste time, injured would increase in number, and so would the dead—–
If this what everyday was like in this world, I’ll break. Who even thought of this? We knew it was impossible for just some humans to save the world. Let alone fighting experience I hadn’t even held a sword before coming to this world.
“Onii-chan………what do we do?”
That’s right, I don’t have the time to be making excuses inside my mind. Both me and Hiyuu-chan have super abilities granted to us by the Goddess. Thinking of that, I brought out the medal kept inside my pocket. It’s just a gold medal. It’s designed differently from the gold coins used in this world but that’s it. It can’t be used to buy something neither does it hold any special value as an antique. I got it from the Goddess but it lacks any authenticity. What can I do with just a medal.
Was I supposed to ask how to use it as well or is the Goddess actually messing with me? Shit! I cursed and gripped the medal tightly but still nothing happened. In the first place, I have tried this many times already. I called to it to lend me strength many times but it was useless. Probably, I don’t know how to use it. I can tell that. Even though I really needed its help right now, it was useless.
That’s why, once more—-
Just at that moment, the great door to the cathedral opened with a great noise. No, it’d be better to say that it exploded. The double doors blew away and its fragments hit the injured and stopped only when it hit the wall.
Due to this sudden occurrence, the cathedral returned to silence. But that only lasted for a second.
First, screams rose. Screams and shrieks of despair reached my ears. The Priests ran here and there looking for a way to escape as the soldiers and knights who could move picked their weapons. And only then, finally, I was able to look at the place where the gate was as well. What had appeared was a black demon. No something similar to a demon. I had yet to see an actual demon but I had read about them in books so I was somewhat aware of what they looked like. But the demon that had appeared had many differences from what I had read.
2 legs, 2 arms and a head. Appearance similar to a human was the main characteristic of a demon but its whole body was currently covered in crustacean like armour, and the 4 compound eyes on its head were releasing a red light. And above all, it’s mouth wasn’t small at all like a human. It opened sideways like a true insect. It was completely different than a human or a demon.
It’s whole body was protected by magical energy. It didn’t even wear armour like humans or normal demons did. It was completely different from anything I had read about in the books.
I remembered that demon. It’s the one that was standing at the very front of the ones that attacked us at the training grounds. And also the one that made Souichi faint with one attack.
Even though O’brien-san and others tried to hold it back, it’s no standing here. Realizing what that meant, I quickly shook my head. Think, about the situation at hand first!
But while looking at the Priests running away, and the injured lying around, my body refused to move. Was this fear, or something even deeper? Unable to even move my gaze, I looked at the demon. And for some reason, it felt like that that demon’s compound eyes were———looking at me.
Next instant, the knight rushed towards the demon with their weapons. Three of them. Due to the injured lying around and the couches in the cathedral, it was impossible for too many to fight at once.
But before the knights could even attack it, the demon pointed its right arm towards the knights. And with just the swing of the its arm, blood sprayed in the air. As if the shadow held its own will, it matched the movement of the demon’s arm and cut the knights apart.
It was not just blood that flew. Flesh—–limbs, torso, cut apart armour, all flew in the air.
In a panic, I blocked Hiyuu-chan’s eyes with my hand, but I was too slow. As if she had lost all strength, her body limped towards me. She had fainted.
Flustered, I called her name but got no reaction. The next moment, the arm of the demon swung again. Once again, screams rose and blood spilled. While hearing the wails and death cries of the knights, I picked up my sword lying on the ground. And by the time, I drew my sword, only us and the priests who had run till the end of the cathedral were alive. Every knight and soldier that challenged the demon were now lying in a pool of blood. Nobody was moving. The smell of blood and the scene in front of me made me feel like vomiting what I ate in the morning but somehow I resisted to and walked top the centre of the cathedral with my sword in hand. It’s not like I had come up with some plan. In my head, I knew that it was suicide to challenge this monster even Souichi couldn’t beat.
But still, I stood there. The demon took a step forward. It stepped on the pool of blood, *splash* I felt like I heard such a sound.
My tip of the sword was shivering from fear, but I couldn’t help it. The existence in front of me was simply too scary. I didn’t even think of something like ‘I must fight it’, ‘I must stop it’. My body simply moved by instinct. Most probably, it was the same for the other soldiers and knights as well.
While raising a shout that hurt my throat, I slashed towards the demon. Was it thanks to O’brien-san’s training or was it just a miracle that I was able to react in time? The moment that demon swung his arm, I bent over and dodged the shadow’s attack. Slipping over the pool of blood I swung my sword as it hit its head and made sparks fly. Rather than calling it just hard, it felt like I just hit something giant gigantic and tough something. The demon showed absolutely no reaction to being hit by the sword either. Let alone back away, it didn’t even move a single bit.
Instead, I ended up taking a step back. Maybe it lost interest in me, it simply ignored me and walked past me. Even though it wasn’t any taller than me in size, the pressure it gave off was in a whole different level. *splash* *splash* as it walked it spoiled the beautiful carpet and couches around. It’s destination was——the unconscious Hiyuu-chan and Souichi-kun who was still receiving treatment.
The moment I realized that, I ran so fast that I surprised myself. I slashed it once more from behind. *clank* with a shrill sound, my hand numbed from the impact. But still, the demon didn’t stop moving. Once more! But it still didn’t stop. Twice, thrice, I continued but——-it just didn’t stop. At last, maybe because I continued hitting hit, I became unable to hold the sword and it dropped out of my hand.
Then, finally, the demon stopped moving and looked at me with its compound eyes. The next instant, I got blown away. For a second, I felt gravity disappear, and suddenly I hit one of the couches and the fell down to the ground with incredible force. I don’t even know what happened to me. From the centre of the cathedral, I had been blown away almost to the gate.. It actually took me time to realize how far I had been blown. Maybe because I had rolled over the pool of blood and entrails, the pungent smell of it all struck my nose. I felt like vomiting again but somehow, I held it back.
“I couldn’t breathe properly. Did I break some of my bones was I just hurt badly. Feeling pain I had never felt before, I even forgot how to breathe. My chest hurt. Was I punched? Or was I kicked? Or did it use magic on me? While in confusion, I rolled up trying to bear with the pain.
Giving a single glance at me, the demon’s gaze turned back—–towards Hiyuu-chan.
A lifeless voice came out of me.
The priests had gathered at the very end of the cathedral, shivering in fear and the knights had all been killed. There was no one to save her. No. one. At. All.
I stretched my hand. There was no meaning. Above all, I was still lying near the gate in the pool of blood and the demon was in the centre of the cathedral. Even the distance was despairingly big.
In panic, I tried to stand up only to slip in the blood and fall back. My hand touched the hand of someone lying in front of me. It was only a wrist lying there. There were others, parts of the body, entrails, heads with eyes wide in despair, heads with still there helmet on………..I was surrounded by parts of flesh.
I threw up. Vomiting everything I had eaten today but still unable to stop, I vomited my gastric juices. The acid burnt my throat and tears came out from the pain.
——But, I stood up. Did my sense of pain get paralyzed from vomiting too much, or maybe my mind has gone crazy by being surrounded by entrails and body parts? The sharp pain in my chest turned dull. I wiped my mouth only to taste and smell blood. I was lying in a pool of blood. Even my arms hands have been stained completely. No, my whole body has been stained in blood.
“Let’s do this.”
I said that to myself. Saying that, I hardened my resolve. My surroundings was overflowing with death, my senses have gone mad. Even though I can never match this monster, it’s crazy that I still stood up.
Holding back the dully paining chest with my left arm, I picked up a sword from the hand of a soldier who was missing the rest of his body. I had lost my earlier sword after all. My hand, and legs were stiffer than I thought. But still——if I didn’t move now, it’ll be Hiyuu-chan and Souichi-kun who’d become a part of this pool of blood next.
Hearing me, the black demon stopped. And slowly, with ease, he turned to look at me over its shoulders. It’s red eyes looked at me and that alone made my body shrink with fear as if my heart had been gripped directly. But still, I pointed the sword at that demon. I must have looked amusing as I stood like that shivering with my sword.
And, as if sneering at me, it turned completely towards me.
Is its aim not Hiyuu-chan and Souichi? I became suspicious but I’m glad that it stopped moving at least. Now all that’s left is—–all that’s left is……
What should I do next? Should I fight this monster? It defeated Souichi, broke through O’brien-san and others. Should I fight this monster, the one that created this tragic situation?
It’s useless. You can’t win.
Someone whispered that.
The next corpse will only change from the kids to yours, that’s all.
Someone whispered again.
It’s voice became louder.
My shivering sword slightly lowered.
But still, I tightly gripped the sword.
“Your opponent is right here, motherfucker!!”
(Part 2 )
While shouting in voice so loud that I surprised myself, I ran towards it.
I slashed at it with all my strength but was unable to even hit it, let alone scratch its armour. It simply dodged me by taking just a step back. Hitting the floor instead, my hand went numb but I used all my strength to continue the attack with a rising reverse slash. But once again, my attack was dodged just by taking a step back.
*gichi* It’s bug-like mouth made a sound.
It was laughing.
The moment I understood that, I rammed myself at it to break its stance. If my sword won’t hit, I just need to create a situation where I won’t miss. But I was unable to do that, in fact, it only ended with my left shoulder hurting. The demon didn’t even budge an inch. It felt as if I had just rammed into a huge rock.
The next moment, it grabbed me by my chest with one hand and lifted me up. Floating in the air, I tried struggling against its one arm grabbing me but it didn’t flinch at all. I was lifted up till I was looking down at it right now. And then, it threw me away like it was nothing.
Thrown directly at the foot of the silver statue of the goddess, my back hit the hard stone and I lost my breath. And at the same time, screams rose again. It must be the priests inside the cathedral. My vision swayed from the pain as I used my both hands to lift my face up.
Calmly, the black demon walked slowly towards me. I tried to pick up my sword but it wasn’t beside me anymore. I must have let go of it when I was thrown away.
Even my words lacked strength now. My body seemed to have lost its energy as well.
Why did it end up like this? We were summoned to save this world by the goddess. Is the conclusion to the reality of that fairy tale like situation supposed to be this painful? As I lay my body on the soft carpet, my eyelids seemed to get heavier. If I just closed my eyes right now, I’ll be at peace. The fear would disappear. Without feeling any sort of pain or fear, dying while in sleep is——-
“—Not okay in any goddamn way!!”
I raised my head with vigour. The black demon was……….still standing in the same place as before. I didn’t hear the voices of the Priests crying for help or the voices of agony of the injured anymore either.
It was looking directly behind me——
Tracing its gaze, I turned to look back as well. My whole body pained just from turning my body but I felt like I could forget about that pain as well. There, the beautiful, silver statue of the goddess…….was for some reason, shining. It’s radiance felt divine, and warm. My heart that had been shivering with fear felt like it was being warmed up by that light. Just looking at it made the despair inside me go away.
I know this light. I recall seeing it. I recall feeling it.———The Goddess, Astraera.
It’s the light that filled the space where I first met her, it’s the aura she gave off. The warm light coming from the silver statue—–the magical energy, was the same as the one released by the goddess.
“wha…..What’s going on?”
Pain disappeared from my body. No, not just pain, the blood that stained my whole body was cleaned away and disappeared becoming pale light.
I wonder if that took a moment, or a few seconds or even longer. As I kept on dazedly looking at the statue, before I realized, a woman with golden hair was standing beside me. Enveloped in the light of magical energy, as if she had been blessed by the Goddess, or as if she served the Goddess herself, she stood beside me.
That scene looked so fantastical, and beautiful. She was like those holy women or princesses that appear in fairy tales. It made me completely forget even the smell of blood permeating the whole cathedral……..that woman was pure, holy, and simply beautiful.
Her gaze turned……and looked at me. She had almost cold-like jade green eyes, golden hair that looked like they were made of silk and a pure white dress that seemed to almost reflect and dance with the sunlight coming from the window. Her hair seemed to have been tied up properly yet seemed long and it fluttered in the torrent of magical energy coming from the statue. She took one step forward. With a *shururi* sound her long dress slid on the carpet. The sound of it clearly reached my ears.
“Are you alright, Renji-sama?”
She spoke to me. That voice felt, like a boy yet like that of a woman’s, almost androgynous and felt good to listen to. The owner of that voice kneeled beside me as if she didn’t even give a care about the demon.
“Now, please stand up.”
She gave me her hand. Somehow, without hesitation—-I took her hand. If I stand up I’ll have to fight that black demon once again. A monster that seemed like the embodiment of despair itself. There was no chance of victory. Even though I knew all that, I stood up without hesitation.
Her hand was small. Soft, pretty, a woman’s hand. Yet, it held strength.
——And that strength, was my [power].
Her cold eyes narrowed while looking at me. For a second, her expression changed to that of a gentle smile. But, only for a second. It soon became rigid again. And then, she looked at the black demon.
For some reason, the demon had still not moved even a single step after the statue began shining. It was as if——it was waiting for me to stand up.
“Let’s go, Renji-sama.”
Finally, *gichigichi* a sound came.
That grating sound came from the mouth of that demon. It was laughing. I got goosebumps looking at the demon laughing like that.
We faced each other. Inside this cathedral, that was supposed to be peaceful, while being looked over by the statue of the goddess.
The whole cathedral shook greatly. Someone out there must have used a very strong magic.
At that moment, the golden haired woman disappeared and turned to jade coloured particles of light. I became surprised but it soon changed to exaltation. Power rose inside me. I wonder if this power is what magical energy feels like. A power that others had yet I didn’t. this must be it.
The woman, who had appeared suddenly, had no disappeared and that light concentrated in my hand……..and became one sword. It’s blade was jade green, the handle and decorations were in gold. As I swung that feather-like light sword towards an empty couch, it tore into two without any resistance. My face cramped at the sharpness of the sword. It was completely different from the swords I had used in the training ground whether in terms of weight, sharpness, in basically everything.
*gichii* the black demon laughed again. It’s legs finally moved——towards, me.
I looked at the sword in my hand. It’s gem-like beautiful blade might look like it was weak but I felt that it was strong. I put strength in the hand holding the sword.
I recalled that that woman’s eyes were also similarly jade green in colour. The gold of the handle as well, was the same colour as her hair. When I realized that, it felt like the sword in my hand was that girl herself.
As I opened my eyes, a familiar face came into my view looking closely at me.
“…….what are you doing Anastasia.”(renji)
“I am not!?!”
Considering what to do about this doll-sized fairy sitting on me for a second, I gave up and rose up and she rolled down and fell off the bed. She seemed to be complaining something but, it was your own fault you know?
As I thought, I was just dreaming and I was back in the room I had been given in the castle. The furniture set in my room and the clear sky outside was still the same but there was no smoke rising and neither could I hear screams anymore.
It was the same peaceful world without the Demon God.
Will that be considered a good dream or a bad one? I couldn’t decide. Should I feel nostalgic and happy about dreaming about Eru or should I be sad to have witnessed that many lives lost?
Suddenly, that voice resounded in my head.
Hearing the sudden spurt of laughter from the very familiar voice, I turned to look towards my pillow in confusion. There, the golden medal the exact same as from my dream was kept.
“Good Morning, Ermenhilde.”
[Yeah. Looks like you had a good sleep, eh?]
“Well yeah, I had a good dream.”
[Didn’t seem like that to me though?]
But her enjoying voice suddenly went silent.
[You were making a lot of noise while sleeping, you know?]
“Because I had a good dream.”
“Well, that was probably because Anastasia was too heavy.”
Saying that, I stood up from my bed.
Suddenly becoming curious about anastasia, I looked underneath the bed but she wasn’t there anymore. While I was confused, I heard the sound of my window opening. It seems in the instant I looked below, she ran out of the room. To use the window, how very fairy-like.
I wonder what happened? Well her eccentricity isn’t really a new thing but it’s not like I’d get angry at her for sitting on my chest either. I became a bit curious seeing her run away like that.
“What’s up with her?”(renji)
[Take a look at the mirror.]
While not understanding what Eremnhilde meant, I looked for a mirror. On looking, I understood what she meant.
“That son of a bitch.”
[She’s a girl though?]
“Who cares about that?!”
While replying to Ermenhilde’s tsukkomi, I rubbed the scribbling on my face with my fingers. Since she had used ink, it spread on my face on rubbing.
Goddamn that prank loving fairy idiot. How could she…….
[It’s Renji’s fault for not waking up even though she kept on doing that.]
“Even if you say that…….you could have said something, at least.”
[I tried waking you up but you didn’t. haven’t you grown a bit too relaxed?]
“……..Maybe I have.”
I had no excuse so I could only agree with a shrug. But still, what do I do about this face? My face was currently filed with scribbling and drawings. She must have been on my chest because she was doing this to me. Even though she’s actually older than me, she’s still so childish.
“In my dream, did I say something?”
Unable to understand what I myself wanted to say, I scratched my head. I’m still half-asleep I guess. I thought of asking a maid to get some water to wash my face, but then again, I don’t want to go out with this face either. What do I do?
While I was thinking about how to deal with the scribbling on my face, Ermenhilde spoke up with a meek voice.
Her voice was familiar……..the same as when she’s worried about something.
Should I pursue the topic right now?
I thought about it for a second but decided not to at the very end. If something was the matter, she’d ask me herself. While thinking of that, I changed my thoughts back to the problem at hand. Was I just running, or was this my trust in her?
It’s probably the former, I think.
I had a dream. Not about Ermenhilde, but of Eru. That has happened many times before and not anything new. Eru died. And now I live with Ermenhilde.
It’s just……..their voices are same. It’s like talking to the same person but is actually completely different. I wanted forget about it. I end up treating and overlapping Ermenhilde with another person. That was, to me……and to Ermenhilde as well, something very cruel. That’s why, I was unable to ask Ermenhilde of her worries.
“What should I do with this face?”(renji)
[Just ask a maid to get you some water to wash it.]
“Yeah, I guess, but..”
It’s going o be really embarrassing but I guess I can’t help it. For the time being, I decided to make Anastasia’s punishment 3 times harsher and looked for the bell to call a maid.
Since I barely use it, I had no idea where it was and it took a few minutes to find it. The bell was kept right at the centre of the table in the middle of the room. How the hell did I even miss that?
I called for the maid to fetch me some water but her face was more surprised rather than amused. Well, I guess seeing a man just woken up with scribbling on his face would surprise most rather than make them laugh?
Closing the window, I sat down on the bed. Picking up Ermenhilde from my pillow side, I caressed its edge.
“No, just thinking how peaceful it is right now.”
[That’s great and all but it’s so uncool to say that with that face, you know?]
“Wha, well, I guess, you’re right.”
As I gave a laugh, Ermenhilde made a tired sigh.
This is fine. This mood is just fine.
“Don’t say that. It’s very like me, right?”
As if replying to me, a small laugh resounded in my head.
[Maybe it really is, I guess.]
And, she said that.