Vint Culias had always yearned for Milifica Yusala Astozellen.
During the civil war six hundred years ago, one of the Culias had saved the life of the Duke Yusala and had reportedly been knighted on the battlefield. Since then, the Marquis household Culias was a faithful vassal of Yusala Duke household and their relationship had continued even now.
Vint had met Milifica before he had become aware of that.
He grew up being taught that she is the lord he has to serve by risking his life. Vint himself had thought that becoming a sword and shield of her Royal Highness was his inborn mission.
Ever since Milifica was able to practice swordsmanship, something women weren't suited for, she had become especially passionate. There was an anecdote about the Culias household's founder from six hundred years ago—— apparently the Yusala household's family head at the time of civil war was a beautiful, armour-clad female knight.
Vint's father had half-jokingly said that it might be "the repeat of the history", thus Vint had overlapped his dream of the far past with himself and Milifica.
If they were both boys, or their genders were to be in reverse, it probably wouldn't turn out so. In fact, Vint's father and Milifica's father had a relationship that was more like friends rather than a lord and the vassal.
In any case, Vint Culias had loved Her Highness Princess Milifica to the point of worship. He was extremely delighted to be her personal attendant and was proud they could be together, her appearance in his memories was his joy. He grew up like that and thought it was natural.
Milifica was a beautiful girl, ever since she was young up until now.
She was a child that smiled very often——just how many times had he seen her smiling face up until now. Her figure as she chased after the mansion's guards——he chased after it on daily basis. There were times where she stumbled and started crying——at that time he passed her a handkerchief so that she could wipe the tears from her blue eyes. Every day where she absorbed herself in sweating during practice with wooden swords——he also practised swordsmanship beside her. Her defiant expression when she received a sermon from her father "It's isn't befitting royal family"——and then she ran away from home, rushing to the Culias household's mansion. Even so, she had a strong will and didn't stop her sword practice——Vint also went with her to convince her father. With age she started to change and calm down——he was pleased with that change, but at the same time lonely. Before long her appearance had changed into one that had both grace and dignity——he was moved and glad that she was the lord he served. Her face when she first heard the elves have invaded——it wasn't an angry nor sad one, but an unmistakable light of determination had dwelled in her eyes. She enrolled in the drill school——in the uniform, and in it, she looked ever more dignified.
She did the daily chores as a representative of the drill school, was at a loss during the life in dormitory she wasn't familiar with, learned the difficulties of a person who stands at the top, she came in contact regardless of whether they are commoners or not, enjoyed her freedom living as a student rather than as a princess——all of her feelings, all her expressions, Vint looked at them in detail every day and took pride in it. Then one day, he noticed.
He ended up noticing.
That he, still hasn't seen her face, wailing in despair.
It was strange. Even though he should have engraved all of Milifica in his eyes, why were there still emotions, faces, expressions he still hasn't seen.
It wasn't just her face as she despairs. He had no idea what expression will she make when she's hit. He had no idea what kind of emotions will she outbrust with when her clothes are stripped off and she's raped. How would she looked when she's being strangled. What kind of death throes would she raise when he pierces her and gouges her womb with a sword.
He can't forgive it that there's a part of Milifica he doesn't know.
Unless he knows it all, he won't feel at ease——
You're insane, Milifica said. Since when have you turned like this, she said. But Vint wasn't aware of his own insanity. If he really was insane, then he must have been so right from the beginning. That's right——right from the beginning. Ever since he met her.
After all, Vint was born holding responsibility of seeing entirety of Milifica with his own eyes.
And Milifica's duty as his lord, was to show Vint everything.
Hearing Vint Culias talk passionately, Milifica stared at him stunned, pale.
From the very core of her heart she felt a sense of loss and fear.
He was a gentle and well-behaved boy. They were always together since young age, he was passionate about his loyalty to Milifica therefore she trusted him from the bottom of her heart. Even though he was her servant she was dissatisfied about the distance between them. Just like with their fathers, she wished that they would become close friends one day. If they treat each other with respect as drill students in this school, she expected them to shrink the distance between them by the graduation.
Since when have you turned like this, the answer to that question was simple.
"Right from the start."
In other words, ever since Vint was aware of his surroundings, he was like this.
His manners and justice, gentleness, as well as allegiance to Milifica, it was probably all result of the madness that has distorted him. Her own trust and affection towards him was all fruitless effort right from the start——just like in a fairy tale about a blind girl who misunderstood a man-eating monster for her friend.
The classroom was shrouded in silence.
Milifica stood in front of the platform. The point of Vint's rapier was right at her throat and she was unable to move. Reflected in her field of view were several corpses. Instructor Ella's head and about a dozen of classmates.
About a half of her classmates had escaped outside. In the end, those who took that action have all turned away and escaped deserting, abandoning Milifica who was part of the royal family and the representative, but she didn't feel like blaming them. Rather, she felt sorry towards the dozen that were brave enough to try to protect her.
The ones who killed her classmates were Vint, and,
Laughing in a neurotic manner in the corner of the classroom, a tall man. He had a light blue-tinted hair that extended up to the nape of his neck, slender limbs and body, white skin and good features, as well as pointed ears——in other words, an elf. In addition to that, there was a single Ogre listening to this elf's orders.
It was a terrifying giant demon even worse than what she has seen in the textbooks and illustrations, with huge body, it was stronger and more ferocious than she imagined from the texts. Now it was quiet and stood behind the elf, but it could mercilessly attack Milifica with one hand.
She was forced to discard the sword long ago. There was no way for her to resist.
Even so, Milifica remained firm, she glared at Vint and asked.
"By why, you mean? If it's my objective it's as I have told you earlier, I want you to..."
"Wrong. Why have you joined the enemy, is what I'm asking."
Her line of sight was turned towards the elf, she glanced at him sharply.
"If you wished to see my face as I suffer you could have used drugs to paralyse me and sneak into my room, and only had to pin me down right. And yet, it seems like you have made your objective even greater. For the elves you betrayed us, the country... the human race. What is the reason for that?"
The elf——certainly, he was called Kuzan——made a cool expression despite having that pointed out. While ignoring Milifica's hostility, smiled with contemplation.
"An intelligent woman, your nerves are also of steel. I see, leaving her as a human is a waste."
"Answer my question!"
He shrugged meaningfully.
"The war between the elves and humans. Did you think that's all you need to describe this war?"
Milifica squinted at these enigmatic, suggestive words.
"It all boils down to politics, Princess."
The one who answered instead, was Vint.
He stifled his vulgar laughter, still, he stretched his spine like a noble.
"You probably aren't aware, about this country. No, you believe it... that the empire is monolithic, and the human beings together are trying to prevent the invasion of united elves."
"What... do you mean?"
The response, was a smile that seemed like it would trample over Milifica's feelings.
"There is a considerable amount of humans who are communicating with the elves in the empire. Try thinking about it... where are the elves attacking? They aren't really interested nor attached to human society and the empire itself. As a proof, the invaded villages and towns were all destroyed. They don't wish for domination, they only steal. Then, what do they steal?"
Steal. In other words——
"The national land...?"
Seeing Milifica's expression as she understood, Vint nodded.
"That's right. They take the land, all they do is spreading their territory. And the land doesn't belong just to the empire. All nobles greater than a noble have their own territories. Then, how about this? It wouldn't be strange if there were people who provide the enemy with information in order to maintain their territory's integrity, people who cooperate with the enemy in exchange for taking territories of the others, right?"
"You must jest..."
Her lips were trembling. Her vision turned red and her head boiled instantly.
As a princess of the Midgalz Empire, a royal family that had ruled the country, there was nothing more unforgivable than this.
"What a underhanded act, do they really think they'll be able to protect their land! The empire's nobility doing such unworthy things... what a foolish and shameful act!"
Then what kind of boon had the elf given Vint.
Did his father, Marquis Culias know about this? Maybe not only he knows about it, but actually Vint might be moving as a pawn of his father.
But Vint couldn't care less about Milifica's question. The only thing he saw——the only thing he was looking at, rather than his own pride and profit, was just one thing.
"Ahhh, great. Wonderful expression! It's the first time for me to see such anger on your face. I can't bear it. How beautiful... enough to make my soul tremble."
With his ecstatic expression in front of him, her entire body trembled.
Retaining the point of his sword where it was, he extended his left hand towards Milifica's jaw.
His fingertips moved from her chin and traced her lips. The movements were as if he was handling fragile, dead grass. They were full of respect and affection. And therefore, it felt incredibly unpleasant.
"But, Princess. There's something I hate."
While stroking the area by Milifica's eyes, Vint clicked his tongue.
"Actually, the attack on school was scheduled at a later date. At least a month later, when you return to the Imperial City's palace for your highness' birthday ceremony I planned to take a decisive action. Once you've come back you would see all of the campus and schoolmates you love sank deep in the Fairy Country... that was the plan, I wanted to see what kind of expression you'll make then. How-ev-er!"
He grasped her throat.
Then moved his face close enough that their noses almost touched.
Ignoring the fact his spit splashed over her face, his voice roughened as he spoke.
"However, however, how-ev-er! Those travellers! The ones who came to this town yesterday, that filthy man and woman... no, that man! The expression you showed that man was one I didn't know! With eyes you haven't shown me you spoke with that man, with an expression you haven't shown me you thought of that man! That can't be, it can't, it should be!"
"With... just that...?"
"Just that? What is 'just that'?! To me, that is all!"
She thought it was hideous. The face she was familiar with since young, the voice that had preached her every time she was acting mischievous, the hands she often held until they were around ten.
They could have possibly married at one point and for life, the sigh of a certain person who thought that it might be not so bad if it's him——it was all incredibly, hideous.
"I'm hesitating which one it should be."
And, abruptly, his gentle tone of voice returned.
With a soft coaxing voice as if wanting her mood to improve, and yet he still had a flippant attitude where he couldn't withhold his excitement.
Vint said something terrifying.
"The face as your virginity is taken by me, whom you trusted since young, or the face as your virginity is taken by an ugly and ferocious monster... which pain and despair should I look at, you see."
Milifica, finally collapsed.
She was acting firm earlier, calm, full of dignity. She had been taught discipline since young after all, although she felt she had strong self-control——that broke.
"No. No... stop."
"Ahh, wonderful! Like a little girl!"
"Please, stop. That's..."
"As I thought, the Ogre! It would be boring with me!"
She was shoved forward with brute force. The usual Milifica would be able to find an opportunity then. However, her body wouldn't listen. She couldn't move because of fear and despair.
"Lord Kuzan, could you?"
The elf watching the situation leaning against the wall nodded with a smile.
"Good grief, some great hobbies you have, don't you... well, I don't mind. I promised to listen to what you say. No matter how barbarous, the nobles of fairy folk keeps their promises."
Wordlessly he shook one hand.
"Also, I don't mind these kind of tasteless events either."
The giant that was looking upwards from the corner growled lowly and with unreserved gait he walked over the classroom's floor, towards her.
"Please be at ease, Princess. That's still a former noble... a same marquis as I am. As for lineage, well, it's not as great as to make a pledge with the royal family."
She could no longer afford to think what did he mean by saying "a former noble" or "marquis". Shaking her head desperately she tried to crawl backwards, with her legs giving way. But, she couldn't find strength in her legs. She pressed her hands against the floor and slipped away.
The Ogre moved right in front of her.
Instinctively nausea had welled up from the back of her chest, she turned with her back to it and tried to get away on all fours.
"Ohhh, Princess wishes to take it from behind?"
She ignored Vint's scummy remark and tried to crawl towards her beloved sword that was lying ahead of her. She struggled to reach it. Three more metres and she could reach it. If she has it then, there's still——.
Before she could reach it, a force she couldn't resist had grasped Milifica's arm.
Forcibly pulled, her body was lifted. Her feet separated from the ground.
The pain caused by the fierce grip on her arm, the pain caused by her hanging on one arm, the Ogre's face moved in front of Milifica as she screamed. A smell of decaying flesh assaulted her. A tongue like a huge slug had come out from the mouth that was like a tear from one ear to the other had licked her cheek slowly. It was hideously moist and rasp.
Fingers as thick as a sword's hilt have entered in her chest and pulled down at once.
Sharp nails tore down her uniform and underwear in a straight line down to her waist. Her skin white like a pearl peeked out. The clevage and the gentle curve of her lower abdomen were exposed from the gap in the torn fabric.
Striking her, stronger than shame, was overwhelming fear and despair.
——It's already over.
In order to perform her last resort, Milifica desperately suppressed her chattering teeth.
Let's bite my tongue and die.There's no other hope for me.
She put her tongue between her front teeth. How much strength should I put in it. No, there's no need to think about that. I just need to bite through with all my strength——.
She decided, and the moment she was about to change that into the action.
After a dull shock, Milifica's body lightly swayed.
What was that. She opened her closed eyes dazedly——then wide open.
A sword that had a colour of blood had shallowly pierced the Ogre's back.
With addition of Sashtal and others, five of them, they headed towards the classroom they thought Milifica would be in.
Along the way they defeated three magical beasts and two demons and allow four students who were hiding to escape, still, that took them about ten minutes. When they were about ten metres away from the classroom they were aiming for, they accelerated and at the same time, a scream could be heard from the doors that were left open.
Everyone paled and rushed at full speed, none of them dared to wait for others.
The first one to reach was Imina.
And with that sight in front of him——Imina lost himself.
The demon's back.
It was big enough to cause him to look up at, enlarged muscles, rugged black skin, mane like a putrid wire on its back.
It was an Ogre.
And it held a single woman, hanging.
Holding her crudely by arm, it lifted her in front of its face.
From behind the torn clothes in the front, white, soft and fair skin had peeked out pitifully.
A long creepy tongue had ran down her cheek.
That face, licked over——that girl.
She looked incredibly similar to his sister.
All of it overlapped with four years ago. An Ogre trying to rape a woman. A woman on verge of being raped. The face of his family dyed with despair. Imina's heart once again, turned back to four years ago.
Whether he really did cry out, he didn't know himself. Something had burst in the back of his head, the sound had disappeared.
His throat turned dry instantly, his body tried to arbitrarily puke, but anger and hatred boiling in his chest made that hardly a problem. His limbs moved painfully forward. The sword he held felt like it responded with heat, he kicked off the floor in a hurry so strongly his backbone vibrated.
Leaping, he pierced the Ogre's shoulder.
"Imina, don't! It still isn't..."
Ellis tried to restrain him from behind.
In the silence, her voice as the only one I could hear clearly. That's right——Ellis worries about me at all times . That's why, she's the only one whose voice I cannot miss.
I know what she wants to say. There isn't enough power accumulated in the blade, right? Actually, the cut was shallow. Even if it can cut the Ogre's skin, it cannot cut apart the bone and muscles. I know. I know it all. But, I can't stop.
The Ogre's careless swing had struck Imina's body.
That too, was the same as four years ago. He was blown away by a tremendous impact he couldn't resist. Four years ago he destroyed the wall and rolled outside. Because of the damage to his internal organs he vomited blood and couldn't stand up. The result was, that he lost his family forever. Then, will it end with the same result this time as well?
Screw you. It won't go the same.
The difference——starts here.
Before his body clashed into the wall and fell to the floor, Imina grasped the state of his body.
Bones——two ribs broken. Internal organs——non-fatal. Sword——still in his hand. Blade——glowing. In that instant, he received the blade's cleave with the blade. He did it almost unconsciously. However, it was unquestionably the result of training and brushing against death for four years, the outcome of his obsession.
It was fortunate that the blade didn't pierce in too deeply. He wouldn't be able to pull it out otherwise.
Turning around Ogre looked at Imina's face and for some reason, it groaned tilting his head.
Immediately after that,
Letting out a crazy cry, he threw away Milifica and headed towards Imina.
"Tch... he still has some memory from when he was a human!"
The one who spat that in annoyance was Vint Culias who stood next to the Ogre. With those words, Imina realized what was he doing here and understood who the Ogre originally was. After considering that, he understood.
Imina checked the light in the blade. The accumulated amount was slightly too low to cut an Ogre in two. To receive another blow, or maybe store force while attacking. Considering his own injuries he chose the latter and held the sword in one hand.
And then, he sensed someone's presence standing beside him.
After just glancing there, he frowned.
The big-bodied man held his magical spear.
His hand was trembling. Even so, he stood firm and glared at the Ogre, put strength into his feet,
"Come on! RAAhhh!"
While clenching the trigger installed on the handle, he rushed in.
The concentrated spirit energy was poured into the engine part from the spirit energy tube. The evocation engraved grasped the spirit energy's attribute and manifested a force corresponding to it.
A blue flame had blown from the blade——a flame-type evocation.
Coincidentally, four years ago Lakshus' scimitar was clad in a similar one. Back then it had an insufficient amount of destructive force to even cut through the Ogre's skin. The flame only burned the surface.
But this time it was different. Fream's body also held quite a lot of strength and above all, he knew how to handle both a spear and the evocation, he had been firmly taught about it.
His aim was the Ogre's face. To be precise, his eye.
The spear's range was wide, a thrust could be used to attack the enemy over the shortest distance. There was no need to use force to wound the enemy. Just using the flame the spear was clad in,
And even if only temporarily, steal the enemy's vision.
The flame extended itself to the Ogre's face. Rather than to cut down the enemy with the flame, the user left the flame behind in the place they wanted——that was the original method of using flame-type evocation.
"R-R-Rr-Representative! Are you all right?!"
While the Ogre was surprised, Laimi used the chance to run over. She almost tumbled because of the momentum and threw herself towards Milifica. Covering her chest with her own jacket, Laimi raised and embraced Milifica.
"Your wounds... ahh, get a hold of yourself!"
"Lai...mi... was it? You, why."
"Ahh, your hand... what shall we do...!"
Seeing as the arm grasped by the ogre was broken, Laimi was upset.
A figure had appeared behind those two.
"You, how about you don't get in my way?"
It was Vint. He held a rapier with expression full of rage, he was full of murderous intent.
"Princess' expressions of confusion and relief are mine! They aren't something for a lowly woman like you to see, I won't forgive it!"
The point of his rapier had approached to gouge Laimi's neck. She made a blank look, unable to react.
But the rapier didn't reach her, it danced in the air.
The one who did it was Sashtal. He entered from the side and flipped up the rapier with his dagger.
Vint's movements stopped at this unexpected attack. For Sashtal who did it, that was the opportunity he waited for.
"Geez... what a shame, colleague."
Acting frivolously until the end, with sadness mixed in his pupils, Sashtal turned his dagger around and bashed Vint's head with the hilt that had no blade.
And Vint fell unconscious unable to respond.
While looking at the body slowly collapsing to the floor, Sashtal muttered.
"You see, I quite liked you."
And, beside him——Imina leaped.
The light residing in the one-handed sword wasn't enough to cut the Ogre's body in two. But there should be no problem as long as it's cutting off his head. And now, as the opponent fell on its knees deprived of sight, his head drooped as if waiting for death sentence.
While holding the sword, Imina looked at the drill students just for an instant.
He admired them inside his heart. Earlier, he thought they were merely spectators.
In fact, when they were coming here meeting demons and magical beasts, Imina defeated them all alone. Sashtal and others only admired it.
But, they weren't just watching. They were observing and preparing themselves——so that during the emergency rescue of Milifica they know how to move themselves.
Although he thought of them as of people blinded by peace, he had to amend his thinking. Speaking of which, Milifica's swordsmanship skill was very high. It wasn't just because of her talent. In the first place, all the students trained a lot. However, they never actually fought against monsters, suddenly thrown into combat they were confused and couldn't demonstrate what they learned.
Once they find their courage and move, this degree of cooperation was easy for them.
He muttered a silent thanks, towards Sashtal, towards his sword——towards Ellis, and towards himself.
Four years ago it was the same nightmare. But, everything was unlike four years ago after all.
Milifica wasn't killed, Imina had power to slay the enemy and there other people helping him who held the same purpose——."
The sword swung down had cut off the Ogre's head.
Laimi, who embraced Milifica.
Fream, whose legs gave out in front of the Ogre's corpse.
Sashtal, overlooking unconscious Vint.
Imina saluted them in his heart, and then towards the classroom's corner——he turned his sight towards the man who stood on the sidelines, leaning against the wall.
He realized his presence in the middle of combat with the Ogre. He could only spare time to glance at him and left him out for the time being. Now, he finally turned towards that person to see his face.
Tall and slim, he had silvery-blue hair extending to his neckline, white skin suitable for lurking in the forest, strangely-ordered face as well a pair of ears pointed like needles. Of course, he was an elf. He knew that he was an elf right from the beginning. There was no way the mastermind manipulating demons and magical beasts wouldn't be one.
But, his face.
Same as four years ago, facial features that made it seem like he's nervous and a smile that looked sadistically.
And, his attitude.
Same as four years ago, the horrible act of trampling and playing around with human head——.
At that time it was a head of his neighbour, Roffen. Now, it was head of a female student Imina didn't know.
Imina knew——he knew this man.
The elf raised his eyebrows feeling Imina's line of sight.
"Have I met you somewhere before?"
At the question, Imina unconsciously leaked a murderous smile.
"...I see. So you forgot, my face."
For an instant, something pitch black boiled inside his heart. The pain had coursed through his entire body's vessels and nerves, like hatred. But his head was cold. It must have been thanks to focusing his passion on the Ogre earlier. Although ironic, it might have been a good fortune. If he surrendered to this impulse, he might just assault the elf at any time.
"I won't forget. As I'd forget."
They only met once four years ago, Imina had grown quite a bit too, but still.
Even now, Imina remembered all of their faces and names.
There were signs of someone moving beside Imina from behind.
It was Ellis. She too, must have noticed after seeing his face.
The elven man made a puzzled expression. Ahead of his line of sight stood Ellis.
She stood right next to Imina and took off the hood she was wearing. She also took off the cloak and threw it away, and then——she untied her hair, revealing her hidden ears.
Sashtal and others gasped behind them.
Ellis Endveil——the elf girl had fixed her gaze at the man and spoke.
"It's been a while, Kuzan-san."
"This is... oh my."
The man's expression changed into one of astonishment.
He forced himself to calm, blinked exaggeratedly and spoke in a tone that suggested he couldn't believe it.
"Lady Ellis, you... Princess was here too?"
"Prin...cess, he said?"
A murmur had come from behind. It was Sashtal's.
"Then, that girl."
Stunned, Laimi continued.
"She's... elven royalty?"
Ellis quietly took a breath and then spoke.
While the elven man——Kuzan and humans——Sashtal and others have collected themselves in middle of confusion, she had closed her eyes, shook her head and moved her lips.
Opening her eyes wide, she clung to Imina gripping his hand tightly and,
"I am no longer the Endveil Khan household's daughter. I'm Imina's family, who is right here. Just a single woman who fights by his side. ...the enemy of elves, one who'll take revenge upon them."
Harbouring strong will in her voice, she declared so.
"I see... so that's how it was."
The one who made an understanding smile after a while, was Kuzan.
The smile was soon tinged with colour of ridicule,
"The Princess that had gone missing during the invasion on the border four years ago... when someone asked Lord Khan about it, he only answered with "think of her as of dead" and he also said that you won't come back, but to think it was such a thing! Of all things, to think you fell for a human and eloped with him!"
And his mouth spoke words depreciating Ellis.
"In that case, you must be from that time! Right, I remember now, the child who pathetically faced against an Ogre... hahaha, this is interesting! Do other members of "Six Petals" and Lord Khan know of this?"
Confronting him, Ellis glared at Kuzan.
"Who cares about that... yes, I don't care about such a thing."
Passion entered her tone of voice. Her strength as she held Imina's hand had gotten stronger up to the point it hurt.
With tone that could either be anger or determination, she said.
"I am already your enemy, after all."
"...hmm, is that so. It's inevitable then."
Malice dwelled in Kuzan's smile.
With his mind full of neurotic sadism, he made a distinctive expression.
"Let's decide what to do with you after I slaughter all the humans."
A chill. Thirst for blood had spread from his body.
It felt like a bottomless pit of might, a completely alien atmosphere from that of a human being.
Imina let go of Ellis hand, while she fell behind, he moved in front.
Fire filled his chest. The light from when he saw this guy's face, the surge when Ellis untied her hair, when Kuzan recalled Imina the flame had gained momentum.
"It seems like you recalled who I am."
Imina was grateful in the back of his heart. He didn't think he would find an opportunity so quickly. He didn't expect one to come.
"Endveil clan's member... Kuzan Demiendveil."
One of the people who burned his home village was in front of him.
The revenge for the villagers, Lakshus, family, his mother and sister was in front of him.
His——Shirjis' subordinate was right in front of him——.
The name of the flame that filled his chest was, hatred.
The name of the boiling heat was, resentment.
What burned his body, was in short, ecstasy.
Facing Imina's spirit, Kuzan responded proudly as if it was nothing.
"My name is Kuzan Demiendveil. Endveil clan's Demi branch family's eldest son. A single petal of the proud "Six Petals" that decorate the clan."
"Yeah, I know. I'm happy to meet you again."
These four years, Imina always yearned for it.
The reason he continued to train muffled up in the mountains after being saved by Ellis, was all for this.
In order to kill these guys, he devoted everything he had.
Holding a sword, he lowered his body on his knees.
"Meeting you again is really great fortune. There's a much greater worth killing you than normal elves. While reminding you of that day, four years ago... making you regret, I'll kill you."
He shouted, his voice twisted by thirst for blood.
"First, I'll stop you from playing with the corpses using your feet!!"
There was a smile on his face.
If there was anyone seeing it, they would call it cruel and oppressive, as well as tragic.
Milifica Yusala Astozellen bit her lips as she was embraced by Laimi.
Her right arm, crushed by the Ogre was aching badly. The meat was squashed, bones broken, possibly it might not return to how it was before. However, rather than the pain caused by the injury, it was the battle unfolding in front of her what made her focus and to stare in wonder. The sight was irresistibly touching, causing pain in her chest to a helpless extent.
Ever since yesterday she wondered all this time, what was it that Imina was looking at.
The boy who was outside of the narrow world Milifica was living in. His eyes looking towards somewhere far away, in a different place from hers.
Her life as a member of royal family was stifling, not satisfied with just wielding the sword, Milifica craved for something of unknown identity. She had a feeling that the thing he was looking at was what she desired.
Arbitrarily, she thought that must be something brilliant and wonderful.
Selfishly——she convinced herself.
Imina swung his sword to slash Kuzan.
Kuzan let a short laughter, avoided by a hair's breadth and counter-attacked with his fist.
He mercilessly pierced Imina's side, blowing him away with powerful momentum. The elf has already subjected himself to biological necromancy increasing both his muscle strength and speed, deviating significantly from human's common sense.
What he clashed into, were the seats in circle. The desks and chairs broke with a loud sound. Standing up after the dust cleared up, Imina rushed again. This time he cleaved from low posture.
The enemy responded with a kick. He aimed sharply at the Imina's head.
Imina tried to immediately defend with the swords side but,
As if coming up with something, Kuzan stopped his leg in mid-air and jumped backwards, outside of range.
"If I'm not wrong, that sword is clad in strange evocation... it appears that the impact that hits the blade is converted into destructive power, is that right?"
"You think I'd tell you?!"
A pursuit after a quick shout and,
"Well, in any case, let's avoid carelessly touching it."
He held someone's corpse lying under his feet and threw it.
In the shade of flying corpse, he once again entered from a blind spot.
As Imina tried to brush away the corpse, at the very same moment his body was hit and blown away.
This time, he slammed into the blackboard next to the teacher's desks.
Imina rolled by the corpses on the floor. Droplets of blood spilled as he coughed. And yet——as blood overflowed from his mouth, his lips distorted. They distorted into a smile.
The sword he held in his hand let out a pale glow.
"Hmm, so it accumulates even with that level of impact."
Instead of answering Imina rushed once again. In response, Kuzan entered a martial arts' stance.
"You don't get tired of it, do you."
Kuzan's dynamic vision acuity must have been enhanced by organic necromancy as well. He easily avoided the sword cutting straight at him and swung his fist accurately.
*clack*. A dull sound of a bone fracturing resounded in the classroom.
But——unlike the earlier punches, Imina wasn't blown away.
He lowered his body the moment the impact came and the only thing he had held out was his arm. For compensation, his left arm was punched and dislocated diagonally.
As his upper body pulled after the blown away arm——Imina's eyes were coloured with tenacity. Using the momentum of that, he cleaved in a manner similar to a roundhouse kick.
The colour of Kuzan's face finally changed. Since swung his fist diagonally, he couldn't fix his posture. The shining magical sword had flashed towards his open flank.
But the reaction rate enhanced by organic necromancy had surpassed Imina's full-body attack.
On the brink of entering in contact with the blade Kuzan jumped backwards. Despite his body posture collapsing completely, overusing his enhanced leg muscles and reaction time outside of common sense he managed to successfully escape.
On the other hand, Imina stepped in with surplus momentum and fell to his knees.
Kuzan leaked out a sigh of relief,
But Imina laughed with ridicule.
"Hm, what's up? Did you finally understand you can't win and go crazy?"
"No that... it's the opposite."
Kuzan's clothes were cut apart, a red line flowed in the gap——there was a cut on his muscles.
"So you grazed me. But, what about it?"
"My sword can reach you. I have proven that."
"...what are you saying?"
The elf made a puzzled expression.
Seeing this fight, Milifica's heart shrunk.
Of course, it wasn't because of Kuzan, but because of Imina.
"If it reaches you once, the second one will reach deeper. And then the third and fourth time. I'll repeat it... and before long, I'll cut down your head, right?"
Joyfully——yeah, how to describe this.
He said so, happy from the bottom of his heart.
Imina felt fresh blood in his mouth. Of course, some of his internal organs and multiple bones were broken. His left arm was dangling loosely. He was no longer in a state to hold a sword. Surely, his arm must have been in state worse than Milifica's. With just one arm like this she showed this appearance. And yet, he was smiling broadly.
Rather than care about his own injuries, he was in ecstasy that his sword reached the enemy——.
Milifica had become keenly aware just how shallow and a spoiled child she was.
Even though she sought something so strongly she couldn't care less about her position as a princess.
Even though what was ahead his sight was that something she was sought.
Even though she had arbitrarily thought this something is brilliant and wonderful.
It was no joke——this, isn't such a sweet and naive thing.
The darkness instead of brilliance. The impulse to destroy that satisfies his heart. What he gazed at, was death.
The place he was in was tragic beyond imagination, so gruesome she was unable to imagine it.
She's not supposed to embrace admiration for that. It would be rude towards his determination.
Yeah, and yet.
And yet, still.
The path he trod so far was stained with blood, cursed, tragic, dark, this gruesome journey——she thought of it as of something incredibly noble and sacred.
She moved her line of sight towards Ellis who was watching over Imina from behind.
She was not a human, but an elf. Moreover, apparently an elven princess. And it seemed like she had abandoned her position in order to accompany Imina.
Milifica felt no anger towards her for faking her identity. Judging from the situation, she didn't think Ellis was an enemy. That's why, what Milifica felt towards her was pure envy.
A princess——coincidentally Ellis' circumstances were the same as Milifica's own, and yet Ellis threw it all to the winds choosing to walk by Imina's side. She had seen something better in Imina, it went to the extent that she couldn't care less about her own position as a princess. Turning this around to look at herself, was Milifica able to make the same choice? The country, her identity, her responsibilities, would she be able to throw them away to walk the path she believed in? Even more so, that she understood the path was covered with thorns.
Milifica had no idea who will fall during this match. Whether Imina will fall on the due course, or will he make a comeback victory. But regardless of the outcome, probably today had marked the end of Milifica as a young girl. Imina's rapture was a rite of passage to her.
Just as his surname indicated, Kuzan Demiendveil was born into the Endveil clan.
Endveil was one of the sixteen fairy clans. It's previous khan, Eiisu was the previous king of the country, in other words, held a position as the king of elves.
He and the Fairy Country together had a policy of coexisting with humans. The forest of the elves was in the north-eastern end of the continent——they were living quietly in the Fairy Country. Humans didn't intrude in their country, elves also didn't go to the human villages without a good reason. There was practically no exchange between them. So until then, things have generally gone well and the world was in peace.
——However, there was someone who fell bored with it.
No, there were many who have gotten bored with it, or so he thought.
After all, Radiaata, the Khan of the Lilithgrave clan, was crowned the king of Fairy Country along with Eiisu's death and she had announced the invasion of Midgalz——there were incredibly few who opposed it.
Of course, Radiaata must have been working behind the scenes politically. She suppressed the dissidents and silenced everyone. Kuzan's opinion on them was simple, "They are in favour of it from the bottom of their hearts". After all, in the end, everyone participated in the war.
Kuzan was surprised that Shirjis, who had become the new Khan had announced their participation in the invasion as the first ones. He thought Shirjis will want only to coexist with humans like his father. But, the result was completely opposite——using them, the "Six Petals" who were the vanguard he had invaded the neighbouring village, Salaido.
"Six Petals" were a set of six people, the Endveil clan's elite. They were a set of villains but their were the best, there were very few who could compare to them even in the other clans. And Kuzan too, was one of the "Six Petals".
In any case, he admired Shirjis' rapid judgement. Although it was exaggerated to call taking over a small village like Salaido as invasion, the Endveil clan obtained the honour for the first strike and acquired a strong position under the Lilithgrave's ruler. Their military glory gained momentum and they were entrusted with the capture of the Great Astozellen Fortress on the front-line.
If they continue piling up feats of valour, when Radiaata dies the future where Shirjis becomes the king of the Fairy Country might not be just a dream. That's how Kuzan discerned it.
Although, there were shadows even on their brilliant military glory.
One of them——was the boy that was right at this moment resisting Kuzan and the elf girl watching over him.
Especially, Ellis Endveil.
As opposed to her older brother, Shirjis, who with an impressive decision had led the clan's vanguard for the invasion, the little sister apparently chose to coexist with humans. As if shouldering her father's dying wish alone, she discarded her own birthplace and brethren.
Kuzan had no intention to blame her for that decision. The reason she decided so must have been because she opposed the invasion from the bottom of her heart. There were people who continued to shout and cry that they oppose it, but in the end they have reluctantly participated, compared to those guys who have gotten passionate over getting accomplishments despite that, she was much more courageous.
No——let's face it honestly.
Blaming her would be absurd. Rather, he was overjoyed that she rebelled.
To be precise, that missing Ellis Endveil had reappeared.
In addition, her elder brother and Endveil clan's khan had declared "think of her as of dead".
Furthermore, Kuzan being here was a cover operations close to being called an unauthorized action. With Great Astozellen Fortress' capture warfare in a stalemate, he thought of attacking the enclave from behind and took Vint Culias' invitation. In other words, he was the only elf here. The only one who knew she was alive and well, was only he, himself.
Therefore, even if he cornered Ellis here, no one will blame him.
And by cornering her, he might witness and ascertain what Ellis' evocation was——.
"By the way, Princess, are you not going to help him?"
He artificially asked looking behind the human boy——towards the Princess who stood behind Imina.
"The battle situation is unfavourable for you. No, not just unfavourable... the only possibility is my victory. In other words, unless you fight, he, and everyone else here will die. And thus, this town will be swallowed by the forest turning into an enclave of Fairy Country."
It was a provocation, an invitation.
"However, if you help them, your chances will increase. No matter how far you are from the Fairy Country, you are the daughter of the Endveil clan's khan household. There's no way you don't hold a powerful 'Unique Vocation'!"
Elven biological necromancy was poorly organised, unlike human inorganic necromancy.
That's because elves are capable of intuitively interfere with the spirit energy flowing through the earth with their own bodies. One of the systems they knew were the various physical enhancements and the method of generating the "Seeds" for creating Corpse Seeds of Origin. In general, humans believe that body enhancement is all there is to biological necromancy but——to the elves, that's basics of basics, it equals to walking on two legs.
The essence of the living necromancy starts there. The individual evocation characteristic 'Unique Vocation'.
That's an evocation characteristic, a talent one is born with and that determines the forte in dealing with spirit energy. And the 'Unique Vocation' is a special evocation using one's unique characteristics.
For example, being good at manipulating bodies, for example high efficiency in spirit energy consumption, for example, being good at manipulating Corpse Seeds, for example——by applying their characteristics in a complex manner, one achieves feats that cannot be imitated by others.
However, in the elven society, revealing what is one's evocation's characteristic is considered something one doesn't reveal lightly. It was the nature one was born with, revealing it meant exposing the one's soul's profile to public attention.
Of course, it wasn't like everyone necessarily wants to keep it secret. Among Unique Vocations there are powerful ones, as well as rare and valuable characteristics. Those with such Unique Vocation are granted Unique Name from the elders, it was a great honour for the elves.
And——most likely Ellis Endveil was a holder of an Unique Name.
This is one of the reasons for which the clans have main house and the branches. Almost without exception all born into the Khan household are born with a talent worthy of being given an "Unique Name".
There were very few who knew what are their Unique Vocations. Talking about was shameless and prying was rude.
However, it was wartime. They cannot win the war while trapped in the old customs. Even more so that she had sided with humans.
"I... no, majority doesn't know what kind of Unique Vocation you have. But, it definitely isn't something weak, right? It's not like you can't use it, right? So just use it. Then just show me your unique evocation!"
I want to see. I want to see Ellis' evocation.
He wanted to see the true nature of this girl, who since young had a personality with which she couldn't build relations with anyone.
There was curiosity inside him, intellectual craving, and above all - a common lust.
When elves show their own Unique Vocation, or see the Unique Vocations of others they feel certain embarrassment. The pleasure from showing it off and peeking at others who show it are two sides of the same coin. Kuzan——even more so than others had believed in this.
The Princess' Unique Vocation might be first-class wine that appears only once every three hundred years——.
"If you don't use it, you will lose. You don't have a grace of not using it! You shouldn't be able to afford to act shy about using it!"
Hiding the desire behind his enigmatic, mocking attitude he repeated provocation after provocation.
However——Ellis still wouldn't move.
Silent she peered at Imina's back, not sparing Kuzan even a glance.
Kuzan received her attitude as arrogant. He felt that she was looking down upon him.
He got irritated, felt his pride was hurt. One reason for that was because he himself, was one of those whose Unique Vocation was granted an "Unique Name".
My Unique Vocation isn't being even feared as a threat. Even though it's so amazing. Even though it was excellent enough to be granted an Unique Name. Even though I'm really desperate to show it off.
Maybe her "Unique Vocation" is nothing great? Maybe she doesn't have an Unique Name that's a common characteristic for those born in the Khan household. Rather than not wanting to use it, she feels there's no meaning to using it——in that case, it's a disappointment.
"Fine. I'll make you regret taking on that attitude."
Declaring he's had enough, Kuzan made a cruel smile.
He pulled out strength from his entire body, focused his senses on the depths of his soul. Spirit energy flowing in the earth, the spirit energy shaking in the atmosphere, spirit energy flowing into himself - he perceived it all in great detail and connected them all into one. The flow of spirit energy turned enormous——and with a similar effect to that of human's engraved evocation, he added directivity to the spirit power he was born with. The spirit power flowed and spread in his body, and then.
"My Unique Evocation——'Differ and Howl'. Look carefully, fight your fear, and die."
He weaved the evocation only he could use.
Confronting him, Imina gasped.
"Wha...!!" "Heyy." "No... way." "Can't be..."
The humans watching the battle from behind had amazed and terrified expressions.
Kuzan couldn't get enough of it. The reason for that, was because his evocation——his Unique Vocation "Differ and Howl"——his own body was being stared at.
In other words, a physical change.
He had a characteristic that allowed him to flexibly manipulate his own body's spirit energy. Because a body was a vessel for spirit energy, if likened to an actual vessel, a human body would be brittle ceramics and an elves' would be an unbreakable wooden bowl.
On the other hand, Kuzan's body was like a leather bag.
Therefore, he was capable of freely manipulating his skeleton, appearance and age. Others at most are limited to manipulating places like arms and legs, at most they can assume a particular facial profile. Those who were poor at changing their bodies couldn't change anything at all.
It was convenient to use as a disguise. Ever since yesterday until today he was disguised as a human being called Shishirii, he was capable of changing into the same form as his target.
However, this was just one application. The essence of this power was different.
Together with his spine's engorgement, a voice leaked from his throat. His chest expanded threefold, greatly enhancing his lung capacity, his torso's muscles have also thickened.
Next, his both legs changed. His thighs expanded and stiffened, lower legs warped becoming suitable for running and jumping, taking a shape similar to that a horse's legs had.
Both his arms used a snake as a reference. They were reconstructed into a twelve joints. The supple muscles could stretch like a whip, five of his fingers had fingertips sharp like a sword's blade.
His face turned into that of a bird. With a sharp bearded beak he had his eyes placed on the sides of his head, thus obtaining a wide field of view in a band shape. Additional optical nerves were added to his eyes. He grew photoreceptor cells to enhance his vision, making the vision reflected by his eyes perfectly clear. He didn't miss a single scattered grain of dust.
After changing the respective sections, he fine-tuned the entire body.
He changed the length of his limbs to move easier, increased the density of his hip bone to fix his centre of gravity and increase stability, bent his back forward to make it easier to attack.
This appearance——Kuzan had arrived at it after a countless repeat of trial and error, perfect shape for combat. While the prototype for it was a magical beast, a griffon, he was tougher, more agile, more ominous, more beautiful. Of course, although griffon was a prototype, they're essentially different. Magical beasts and demons are a result of oversupply of spirit energy to the bodies of animals and humans, their bodies are destroyed and a mere shadow of their former selves. On the other hand, for Kuzan, it's just his vessel's form changing appearance and he is in no way impaired. Spirit energy is running throughout his body in a healthy manner. His mentality isn't influenced and he doesn't lose his reason.
"You must be... joking..."
The one who muttered that in daze, was one of the humans in the back.
"Ku-keke. It certainly is is no joke."
In other words, their fear was his own, proud pleasure. The more they looked at him frightened, the more joyful and ecstatic Kuzan was inside.
Now——from here on, let's paint this joy and ecstasy with blood and screams.
He put strength into his legs and sank low in a fraction of a second.
Kicking off the floor, Kuzan bounced at Imina.
Imina was able to react thanks to good fortune. Maybe because of his cultivated reflexes, he tried to prevent the attack using his one-handed sword as a shield. Speaking of which, this sword absorbed shock and converted it into light of destruction, hasn't it. Until just earlier I tried not to touch it, but——well, I don't care now. No matter how much power can that sword store, the user is ultimately just a fragile human. Once he breaks the human, there will be no problems.
After decreasing the distance at once Kuzan let out a strike using his right arm like a whip.
"You blocked direct hit with a sword? ...so what about it."
He probably didn't hear Kuzan's mockery.
Imina's body shot through the air like a cannonball, crashed into the classroom's wall——and breaking through it he was blown into another classroom.
As Imina penetrated through the wall and fell on the other side, deformed Kuzan Demiendveil started walking slowly.
There was no signs of Imina moving. Possibly because of injuries, or maybe he lost consciousness, was waiting while pretending to be too wounded to move, or lost his life in that blow.
Withstanding the loud and fast beating of her heart, Ellis watched over the entire flow.
Kuzan said that she should use her evocation.
Her Unique Evocation——that she should show her own Unique Vocation.
The reason she didn't take his invitation wasn't because she didn't want to show it. It wasn't due to sense of shame. It was because she hasn't received permission yet.
Gripping her hands in front of her chest, she muttered as if praying.
It's not like she was praying to a god. Ellis no longer believed in the sixteen pillars of sacred teachings of the Fairy Folk. She discarded all, her religion, her homeland, her family. On top of that she had dedicated all of herself to him. That's why, the one she prayed was, to him——to Imina——to her dear and beloved. What she hoped for, was that he stands up and achieves victory. And, that standing in front of her again, he'll pat her head with a smile.
——About four years ago.
Ellis committed two sins, as a result, Imina was wounded deeply.
One of them, was the sin of not knowing anything.
That the new ruler, Radiaata tried to start an invasion on the human country, that her brother decided to also participate in the invasion, that he served as a vanguard and destroyed Salaido, she didn't know anything. She wasn't informed of it. It all happened while Ellis was mourning her father, they decided to leave Ellis behind and execute it.
At some point she realized that her brother and "Six Petals" were gone and was puzzled seeing the Fairy Country's state, thinking it can't be, she rushed towards Salaido. But before she arrived, it was all over. She passed by her brother who returned to the Fairy Country, the village was swallowed and incorporated into the forest, houses were burned down and collapsed, she was too late to do anything. In her ignorance, she was helpless.
The voice calling his name has gotten louder in accordance with the urgency in her heart.
Kuzan dove into the hole in the wall.
On the other side, Imina's body was buried under the fragments of the destroyed wall.
The snake-like long arms waded through the wreckage to dig him out. Then casually grasped him by the head to lift him up. Imina's arms powerlessly dangled. It was a miracle he barely held onto the sword, or possibly, tenacity.
"Oh, he's breathing."
With a mocking smile, Kuzan threw him again.
Since it wasn't too violent throw, after a single turn in the air he fell on the ground without taking much shock. As Imina passively rolled on the floor, he let out a small groan.
"Oh my, he's even conscious."
As Kuzan exclaimed,
"D-amn it, ..."
Imina raised his head. Sluggishly. His face smeared in blood.
His fractured left arm was badly swollen, it was no longer in state to be used. In that case, possibly all the bones in his body were broken. Some of his internal organs must have been damaged.
Still, his right arm still hasn't stopped clenching the sword's hilt forcefully. His legs trembled strongly wanting to kick off the floor. Despite the fact he was near death, he stood up.
Kuzan stopped his pursuit and looked down at Imina. He didn't try to finish him off. Acting leisurely he invited——invited Ellis to use her evocation.
A voice had come from behind him.
"You monster!! We will take you on next!"
Looking back, Milifica with the same face as Uruha had glared at Kuzan.
She was a holding a sword. Disregarding the fact her right arm was broken, she held a sword in one hand while Sashtal lent her a shoulder, behind her on the sides were Fream and Laimi.
Of course, none of them were capable to hide their terror.
The spear Fream held wouldn't stop trembling, Sashtal made an expression suggesting he was preparing for death, Laimi was crying. Milifica also chewed her lips, probably she desperately endured trying not to let her legs give out.
However, a light of strong will dwelled in their eyes.
"We're Midgalz's proud soldiers. Even if we're drill students, if this is the battlefield, we shall fulfil our responsibility. Since we'll be killed anyway, our choice is to die fighting!"
"Hoho, you're brave."
Deformed looked backwards and formed a grin with his beak.
"Ku-kaka! That too, is amusing... however, you all, you understand don't you? It's admirable to die fighting, but dying with awareness that you fought bravely is another thing. If I feel like it, I can open up a hole in your bellies in just one second."
His words were a fact.
For Kuzan as he is now, it was very easy to kill a human. No matter how much courage they summon, that fact doesn't change.
Kuzan who was about to turned around towards Milifica and the others was stopped by Imina's voice.
"I said stop, you dirty elf. Don't touch them."
The restraint wasn't directed just at Kuzan, but also at Milifica and the others.
"You guys too... don't touch my prey!"
He raised his sword with uncertain motion, the blood flowing from his forehead wet his cheeks and dripped down,
"This is my fight. Mine, and Ellis' fight. That's why... until the end, I'll do it!"
With ferocious eyes he glared at Kuzan.
As Ellis throat shook with emotions, Imina turned his line of sight towards her.
Gritting his teeth——a bit feebly, he said.
"Sorry. ...at this rate, it'll be impossible."
"Damn it... it's frustrating, really frustrating."
In other words, his chagrin was,
"This isn't enough. I'm not strong enough. In front of my enemy... I end up like this."
That of someone lamenting his lack of power.
"That's not true."
That's why he shook his head, he endured the tears that gathered in the corners of his eyes.
"You don't have to be concerned about me. So..."
"I'm sorry, Ellis."
"No, it's fine."
She was happy, so happy she couldn't bear it.
That he said "Mine, and Ellis' fight".
That he said "I'm sorry" worrying about her.
And——that he relied on her.
That's why with various thoughts in her head turning into love, Ellis laughed.
"All of myself is yours. So, use me whenever you like, however you like."
That exchange was a confirmation and a request.
Confirmation, Is it all right to use it? and "Please use it", the request.
——Yeah, that's right.
If Imina cannot win with just his power, he just has to use Ellis' power.
Ellis' power just has to be used as Imina's power.
With wounds all over his body, he started to walk slowly.
He held out his left arm as he walked.
Kuzan spoke with expectation in his voice.
"Possibly, finally... you'll show it?"
Ellis nodded. Not sparing the enemy behind her a glimpse, she just looked into Imina's eyes.
"If that's what you want."
——About four years ago.
Ellis committed two sins, as a result, Imina was wounded deeply.
One of them, was the sin of not knowing anything.
And, the second sin.
On that day, as Fairy Country's trees grew between burning houses, she frantically ran around what was merely the shadow of the village and finally found fallen Imina.
However, it was in fact already too late. His right arm and left leg were cut off, he was cut through the shoulder to belly, his heart was penetrated. He was already dead. There was no heartbeat, he lost large quantities of blood, even his soul was about to be let loose into the spirit pulse.
That's why, Ellis revived it——the body and her beloved person.
With her own evocation.
When Imina woke up, Ellis continued to repeat apologies. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Again and again. She couldn't find any other words.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry for not knowing anything.
I'm sorry, for not stopping Nii-sama.
I'm sorry, for making your body like this——.
Ever since that day, Ellis' atonement began.
Ever since that day, all of Ellis existed for him. From the tip of her hair until the toes of her feet, her smile, her tears, hear anger, her joy, her pain, her wounds, her pleasure, the fluctuation of her spirit energy, the shine of her soul, every single drop of blood flowing through her body, anything and everything of hers was devoted to him.
She gently touched Imina's arm.
The right arm extending from the gap in his jacket was tatted in battle. There was a scar in the middle of his forearm. It looked as if it was once cut and then forcibly joined——no, it was in fact joined back.
Of course, that wasn't all. Hidden under clothing, on the left leg there was a same cut mark as on his right arm. A sword wound from his shoulder to belly. On his left breast there was a puncture wound as if someone mashed a fruit on top of his heart.
Each of the scars was red. On top of the slightly gouged skin, like painted with vivid blood——deep crimson.
"...what is that wound?"
"It's not from the fight with me. And it looks too fresh to be an old wound."
"My Unique Vocation... unique evocation. It's Unique Name is 'Crimson-Stained Water Lily'."
In the Fairy Country, a water lily was a metaphor which meant the elven race itself. Dirt and water——born in the dark forest, flower——self-respect for beautifully blooming.
That water lily, was dyed crimson.
The Unique Name given to her by the elders, rather than honourable, was sinister and ominous.
It was natural. Everyone who knew Ellis' characteristics without exception was horrified, frightened, and detested. If the holder that power indiscriminately, a calamity would befall Fairy Country. It was vocation that devours us, your brethren. Therefore, you shall not use it without reason. As a warning we grant you this Unique Name, they said——.
"I'll tell you while at it."
Imina, standing next to Ellis continued.
Raising the crimson blade——the falchion he held in his right hand,
"This sword too, was made with Ellis evocation. It's name is... 'Exellis' meaning 'Blood of Ellis."
"Exellis... you say it's made from Ellis?"
The sword Imina used was similar yet different from the "magical swords" humans use.
It's not a vessel for usage of the inorganic necromancy in the first place. The material wasn't metal either.
It was blood.
Ellis Endveil's elven blood was compressed and solidified in a form of a blade.
"My spiritual characteristic lies in blood."
Blood was a system that had spread the life force while circulating throughout the body. Life force, oxygen, nutrients, and above all, spirit energy. Thus speaking from the spirit energy anatomy's point of view, blood was in charge of taking in the spirit energy and storing the spirit energy. To add it all, blood was in charge of three roles concerning spirit energy.
Ellis' blood had talent for those no other person could match——in other words, her spirit absorption and storage capacity was several tens of times higher than that of a typical member of fairy folk.
The evocation using that was "Crimson-Stained Water Lily".
First of all, she healed Imina. Ellis healed his wounds by supplying spirit energy using her own blood as a medium, allowing his heart to resume beating, returning him to life. Normally, humans wouldn't be able to withstand large amounts of spirit energy. However, adding the fact that Imina was already dead and that Ellis' blood which supplied spirit energy also worked directly adjusting spirit energy, the result was——that while he kept the shape and soul of a human, she was able to heal him using evocation.
And, the sword.
Even though it had a shape of a sword, it was actually a lump of blood. Every day Ellis poured blood from her body and using evocation she compressed it in ultra-density, stabilizing it in a solid form. If it was turned back into liquid temporarily, possibly it could fill three or four bathtubs. Therefore it had much tougher and harder properties than a metal. The essence of it, is that it could accumulate large amounts of spirit energy.
The accumulated spirit energy turned into a deep crimson light through the evocation engraved on the surface of the sword, in other words, it was converted into destructive force itself. The theory behind it was the one incorporated into the magical swords. The blade itself served as a spirit energy tube and the surface served as an engine converting spirit energy.
However, both the blood in Imina's body and the blood fixed into shape of a sword couldn't display its original performance in this state. The reason was simple, it's because it was outside of Ellis' body. In other words, although it was all created with Ellis' evocation, since she wasn't connected to it with her spirit, it was all working autonomously and she was unable to control it.
Then, to control it——what do they need to do so that it's once again connected spiritually with Ellis.
The blood passed through the organ that is heart and spreads spiritual energy throughout the body. The heart is the source producing spirit energy in the body, and the organic necromancy manipulating spirit energy flow starts with the heart.
"Imina, it's okay."
She stood in front of him, spread her arms and closed her eyes.
"Return... to me."
Imina nodded, stroked Ellis' head with the broken left arm and drew closer to her,
He overlaid his lips over her lips and,
And used the crimson sword, "Exellis" to pierce through Ellis' abdomen.
Kuzan, Milifica and the others, everyone gasped.
"What... are you doing?"
Imina didn't respond. His mouth had covered Ellis' mouth and was covered by it.
Their tongues entered in the other's mouth after their lips and teeth moved out of the way.
The taste similar to sweet rust spread in their mouths. Ellis cut her own tongue with her teeth. Imina too, wounded his tongue. The two pressed the wounds on their tongues against each other.
It was the same for the sword piercing through her belly.
The blood inside her body had touched the blade. Wetting the surface, flowing into the pattern engraved on it——in other words, Ellis' spirit energy through blood had formed a path connecting her with the sword.
Their lips separated, the sword was pulled out.
"I'm... all right."
As she wiped the blood at the edge of her mouth, Ellis complexion was pale blue but she still laughed, stout-hearted.
Of course, she immediately sealed the wounds using healing evocation. Even the abdomen pierced through the sword didn't have a single scar left behind. However, the task of connecting the spiritual path between her and Imina as well as maintaining it, had rapidly depleted her physical strength. To say it differently, she continued to pour her life force into Imina and his sword.
"I'll end it quickly. Wait a little bit longer."
He spoke. Only his attitude was calm, only deep in his heart he was worried.
"Yes, thank you. I'll wait."
As she nodded, a joyous smile spilled on her cheeks.
Even though it was difficult, even though it was painful.
It wasn't that she pretended to endure. Probably, she was delighted from the bottom of her heart. Just seeing that he worried about her body was enough to make her happy.
Had this devotion come from pure affection, or maybe it had come from the sense of guilt. Imina didn't know. However, it was tragic and sad, as well as warm.
"What... is that? What is that, what is that, what is that!"
At the same time as Imina turned around to confront him, Kuzan cried a question in delight.
"I never saw anything like that. I never saw an evocation like that! Blood... she said blood? What kind of characteristics does she have in her blood? You two, just now, what on earth did you do? I can feel it by just standing in front of you, even if you stay silent I can feel it... what on earth is this overwhelming spiritual power?!"
"You think I'm kind enough to tell you?"
He wasn't compelled to, nor had any time for that.
While he's standing here the life in Ellis' body is being steadily exhausted.
He needs to finish this before she runs out of breath——.
Declaring that, he submerged his body and leaped.
The bird's face was distorted with astonishment and agitation. Of course it was. Imina's speed was on another level as compared to before——to a level of an elf that had transformed his body using evocation.
A scooping upwards slash leaving a trace of light in a shape of a sickle had aimed for Kuzan's long, snake-like left arm. That guy had hardened his skin in addition to biological necromancy, using the evocation he had changed the structure itself into that of scales. That's why, he received it without dodging.
Fool, Imina's lips distorted.
Even though the light from the blow he received earlier was still remaining inside.
The sword's light turned into a force of destruction, the parts touched by blade were cut through as if they were made from butter.
In other words, the sword had mercilessly cut off Kuzan's left arm.
For the first time after coming here, Kuzan's face displayed rage.
He kicked with his horse legs. Imina raised his left arm.
Until just earlier it was in a horrible condition with bones broken and crushed meat, but it was already healed——when Ellis connected a path with his body, it was completely healed.
No, far from being just healed, it was also strengthened.
His left arm had openly received Kuzan's kick from the front.
The impact was tremendous. His entire body sunk low and the lecture room's floor groaned. Still, Imina wasn't blown away. He only retracted a dozen centimetres.
The bird's beak distorted in astonishment. It can't be, is what his face said.
That's right——right now, Imina's reflexes, vision, muscle strength, dynamic vision acuity, regeneration, have all leaped beyond that of humans. Of course, it didn't go as far as Kuzan's who remade his entire body, but including his experience with sword Imina was capable of competing with Kuzan.
All of it, through Ellis' blood.
Four years ago, when she repaired his various body parts, she used her own blood to join them. Since it was separated from Ellis body the blood remained dormant, normally not affecting Imina in any way.
However, with her re-connecting the spiritual path with it and opening the spirit pulse, the blood resumed its activity and "Crimson-Stained Water Lily's" characteristic was exhibited. Ellis blood melded with Imina's blood vessels, spirit energy was absorbed from the atmosphere and spread to the limbs, thus performing pseudo-organic necromancy on Imina.
And the evocation led to one visual change——.
The moment he received the attack.
With a sound as if something burst, sparks were scattered from Imina's body.
The dark thing similar to lightning was ionized spirit energy mingled with blood. Ellis excessive spirit energy crawled out of the body leaking on his body surface. The scars from four years ago——the heart, the torso, the right arm and leg. It ejected from those places like geysers, wrapping around and sticking to Imina's body.
"What... is that?!"
The sparks were an aftermath after a body movement, so it wasn't something like an attacking evocation that splashed in order to attack. But Kuzan was still wary.
Imina smiled fearlessly.
When the enemy is wary, opening appear. Since the attack that was supposed to be deadly was received, the opponent stiffened. Imina didn't miss that.
Since he slashed with the sword earlier, there was no light on the blade. That's why he moved to accumulate it. The "Exellis" that was stopped in the posture of swinging now was swung down in a turning swallow cut.
Even if he had a figure of a monster defying human common sense, it was impossible for Kuzan to avoid. He defended himself with his right arm, blade did not pass through it. However, along with the impact, *bam*. The sword once again began to emit red light.
After receiving it, Kuzan finally leaped away. He opened a large distance between them.
The beak-face distorted with astonishment and pain.
Despite the brief exchange his breathing turned rough.
"Wound's healing, as well as movements that transcend human's, that mysterious spirit light too... it looks just like organic necromancy... our, elves' technique, doesn't it!"
Imina nodded while measuring the distance.
"This is Ellis' unique evocation... in your language it's Unique Vocation, wasn't it?"
As expected of an elf, to discern that the sparks emitted from Imina's body are spirit light. However, it doesn't seem like his understanding extended that far. Of course, Imina had no intention of explaining.
"Do your best, watching with those monster's eyes. Struggle with that monster's arm. Bounce around with those monster's legs. Breathe with that monster's throat. I can keep up with all of it now. And..."
He submerged his waist low again,
"Before long, I'll overtake you!"
Leaping upwards this time, he cut straight down holding the sword in both hands.
Impatient, Kuzan let out a cry similar to that of a bird.
An attack from above, will you run? Will you receive it? What will you do.
Kuzan's behaviour had exceeded Imina's expectations.
To the front——he hunched his body low and kicking off the floor, he rushed.
After the distance changed the sword didn't hit, instead, Imina had received a hit in abdomen.
Together with the impact dark red sparks were scattered. The leaked spirit energy burst into the atmosphere.
Imina responded. As if I'd let myself be blown away into the wall time after time. The moment Kuzan poised himself to rush, he instantly turned the blade and held the sword in reverse grip. On the verge of collision with all his strength he thrust the sword's tip into the enemy's shoulder. The blade's light drawn into the body and blood bust, scattering all over.
As a result——Kuzan's right arm was torn apart and dangled powerlessly on its shoulder. On the other hand Imina was unable to stop the momentum of his rush and received damage to internal organs, falling to the floor and spitting blood. Not backwards as Kuzan expected, but forward, after sliding by Kuzan's side.
Of course, the two didn't open distance to rest.
The moment Imina landed, Kuzan turned around and launched an onslaught of kicks. Imina received them by exposing the sword's side. Along with the impact, the sword was filled with power. Therefore, Imina flew forward adjusting the distance between them and cleaved sideways. The cutting edge cut through the gorilla-like enlarged torso muscles.
Seeing that, Kuzan let out a shrill bird's cry——the emotions he felt were already uncertain. Whether he was angry after receiving multiple wounds, he had finally grown to hate Imina, he was panicking pushed this far by a mere human, or maybe he was rejoicing as he witnessed Ellis' evocation.
His attacks have become even sharper.
Whipping with the arm that was cut off from the middle, he trust with the beak whenever it was avoided, using brute force he tackled with his body, he parried, avoided and kicked backwards. Now giving Imina any time to counter-attack, this time he used a chance he found to attack.
As he attacked Kuzan's injuries were sealed one after another. From the tip of his partially cut off left arm a bone had grew and in the middle of growing it had turned shorter, turning into a sharp point of a sword. Also the right shoulder that was cut deeply and disconnected, leaving the arm hanging on just the skin had bulged, forming new meat. There was no trace of the wound on his chest either.
Imina was both disgusted and impressed.
This guy's body is definitely abnormal.
Discarding an elf's appearance, he arranged his own body to obtain physical performance and attack power. As a result of pouring spirit energy into his deformed body he exerted high-speed regeneration capability. No matter how one looks at it, he could only be described as monster. Of course, all of it was granted to him by his evocation, the "Unique Name".
Imina avoided the kicks in the nick of time and slashed Kuzan's shoulder accumulating power in the blade. The left arm that chased after him——the sharp bone was looming in order to pierce Imina. In exchange for a graze on his cheek Imina had cut off the tip of the arm again. At the same time he bent his body low and dove below Kuzan's crotch moving behind him. Since surely, he was attacked with a kick, he received it with the sword, filling it with light.
The longer Kuzan chased after him, the more the battle had gone in Imina's favour. After repeating offence and defence in turns, Imina delivered plenty of serious wounds and the damage he received was low.
Has Kuzan discerned the reason behind that?
"I told you earlier, right? Kuzan Demiendveil."
Restraining him with a sideways cleave Imina laughed.
"My sword will reach you, I said."
"Shut up, you lowly human!"
Unable to act relaxed any longer, Kuzan started to spit abuse in frustration.
'I'll end this! Die, humannn!"
He swung his left arm far from above.
Looking by his spirit and expression it was a blow he put everything in into. Then——there was no reason to avoid.
Raising sword sideways, Imina received it directly from the front.
There was an incredibly heavy impact. Imina's body sunk down. His arms numbed. His entire body creaked. His knees broke down. Spirit energy's sparks were ejected from his body in reaction, crackling loudly.
Still, Imina withstood it.
He didn't lose his consciousness nor was injured, he laughed and looked up at Kuzan from under the sword.
The bird's eyeballs were opened widely.
Why is this guy still standing, why won't his bones break, that's what Kuzan's face said.
The floor under this guy's feet——why isn't there even a single crack on the wooden floor, it said.
It was no miracle nor a coincidence. There was a reason.
Imina crudely shook off opponent's arm.
Kuzan staggered. With just that, he staggered.
"I should have told you——did you underestimate me and didn't pay attention?"
The reason for Imina withstanding it wasn't just because his body was strengthened.
While raising his sunken knees he set up the crimson sword, "Exellis".
A shine so strong dwelled in its blade that he involuntarily narrowed his eyes.
"If it reaches you once, the second one will reach deeper. And then the third and fourth time. I'll repeat it... and before long, I'll cut down your head, is what I said."
The words Imina said earlier were a suggestion.
"Also... that I'll keep up with all of you, and before long I'll overtake you."
As Imina put on a thin smile, Kuzan stared.
As to follow Imina's stare, he looked towards his own left arm.
"Wh... this, is..."
Confused, he spoke with trembling voice.
But, that was natural. His left arm that should have deformed had changed back——back to an elf's arm with white skin.
And it wasn't just his left arm.
Kuzan fell to his knees. His balance broke and he fell over.
That too, was natural, his right leg no longer was modelled after a horse's and only held a human's characteristics. He couldn't stand in the same way as he did in a different form.
Although he reflexively tried to support his body with a tentacle-like right arm, but it did not work.
To move the stretched snake-like arm with several joints he needed a corresponding muscle strength. With the transformation released he was nowhere close to it.
"Remember. How many times have you received my sword, where have you received it?"
"It can't... be."
All the locations that have returned back to original were the ones Imina had slammed in order to accumulate power.
"One strike after you turned into this form and the strike just now. Even though I hit the same tentacle of yours, why do you think the result is so different? With Ellis' evocation running in my body... you think that's enough the reason to change the result so much?"
"Then, this is..."
Finally——displayed in a visible form, he finally noticed.
The fact that his change was released meant the evocation was no longer active.
The evocation stopped running when there was no source to power it.
In other words,
"My spirit power... was used up...?"
"By my 'Crimson-Stained Water Lily"."
Ellis said that from behind.
"I have been warned by the elders not to use it without a good reason. They have detested my evocation. They feared that if it's used indiscriminately it'll lead to a calamity that will engulf the fairy folk, and that's because..."
Her breath was rough, her complexion white. She looked as if she was about to fall any time because of fatigue. But she acted firm. Because she knew that Kuzan will falter once she demonstrates it. The more she stands arrogantly, the more Kuzan will collapse.
Ellis' lips formed a curve appropriate for a daughter of Khan household,
"...my blood has the characteristic of being capable of accumulating large quantities of spirit power. Which means, that it's capable of absorbing large amounts. And can rob others of large amount of it. Can you understand now? In other words, my evocation... it displays its true worth when killing elves."
"T-then, that sword."
Imina nodded to appalled and trembling Kuzan.
"Yeah, that's right."
This guy has misunderstood the characteristic of this sword the entire time. Of course, Imina had directed him to that conclusion but, the misunderstanding had become a reason for his fatal defeat.
" 'Exellis'... it doesn't convert the received impact into destructive power. It's a sword that steals enemy spirit power and accumulates it as destructive power."
Of course it didn't mean that the impact on the sword was meaningless. By giving a shock to the blade, under that condition the "Crimson-Stained Water Lily" in Ellis' blood temporarily activated, so to say it was a trigger for the magical swords they have agreed on. The triggered evocation deprives enemy of spirit power on contact and stores it in the blade. The blade that accumulated power is clad in red light, the red light is converted into destructive power through the evocation engraved on top of it.
Then, by connecting Ellis and the sword, what power does it exert.
The answer is simple. Even without impact to trigger it deprives enemy of spirit energy just by touching, the amount of spirit energy stolen on the impact increases several times.
No matter how fast Kuzan sucks out the spirit energy from earth, he was absolutely unable to catch up with the speed of Ellis' blood sucking his spirit energy out. This was a genius Unique Vocation for defeating an enemy one can't match. Kuzan lost spirit energy stored in his own body. As he lost spirit energy the accuracy of his evocation also decreased. The absorption was done in extreme in the locations touched and the route spreading spirit energy died, turning the evocation itself ineffective.
Of course, it didn't end with just cancelling the change. If his body was reinforced by an evocation, he'll weaken as he loses spirit energy. His bone density will fall, his muscle fibres will turn thinner, his reaction rate will fall——his entire body will turn into nothing but an empty shell.
"Prepared yourself? Kuzan Demiendveil."
"W... wait. Wait a moment."
The dazed bird's eyes. The powerlessly dangling tentacle-like arms.
One leg and one arm had cancelled their change halfway turning ugly.
"Exellis" had robbed a huge amount of spirit energy from his body.
While he wasn't aware of it, it was still fine. He could deceive himself with fighting spirit. Even more so if he was motivated by strong emotions. Was he frantic, he might have been able to fight for a little longer.
But, once he realized it——his strength was drained, weariness spread and he could no longer move his body. Spirit energy was the depth of the life force, a field of force that dwelled at the core of all creation. By being deprived of it, his physical strength, life force, vigour, even his will were taken away.
Not just his arm, leg and shoulder, other parts of his body also started to slowly change contours.
His transformation was being cancelled as he lost his spirit power. His horse legs changed shape. His tentacle arms began to shorten. The head a bird changed into an elves' graceful appearance.
"I-it's true that I destroyed your village. But the ones who actually put their hand to it were demons and magical beasts! And actually, I was just moving on given orders. The responsibility all lies on the ones giving orders, the soldiers are innocent, right? About this time too... right, I surrender! Surrendering is a practice of the battlefield! I admit my defeat. Like this, you won't have to take my life, right?"
As he begged for mercy, his unsightly appearance had no longer shown any pride of fairy folk.
That's why Imina smiled.
From the depths of his heart——mockingly, with grief, in delight, in rage, and then laughed leaving everything to murderous intent.
"You come in front of me... and do you really think that after having my home village destroyed and family killed, begging for you life will have any effect?"
"You're the first one. Today's, my true beginning. With you as the beginning, I'll pluck you petals one by one. Then after I'm done with all six, I'll pierce through that guy's heart with this sword. Just as he pierced my sister's, just as he pierced mine."
Whether it was some deep emotion or a curse, he didn't know despite saying it himself.
His vision gradually blurred. His mother's face, his sister's face, the face of everyone in the village floated in his mind one after another.
And in the end——Shirjis' face.
"It's fine now, right? Don't make my revenge wait any longer."
Imina gripped the sword with both of his hands and raised up high up. With "Exellis" shining strongly enough to blind him, the crimson flash converged on the blade displaying power of destruction.
Unconsciously screaming, Imina let out his thirst for blood.
The moment swung up blade touched the deformed head a red light turned into torrent of destruction. With a sound powerful enough to make the earth rumble, a flash had exploded making everyone who looked to cover their eyes unconsciously.
Before long the light had dispersed and silence had come——.
Kuzan Demiendveil's body decomposed to nearly dust, was crushed into powder. What remained, were only burnt marks spreading radially on the floor.
For a while after, there was silence.
After releasing light Imina was incapable of directing, the elf disappeared. The burnt blood and shockwave of heat burned the floor, releasing a tremendous power.
The faint sound that could be heard in the silence, was breathing of the boy who overlooked it.
Eventually, while everyone was stunned——Imina slowly fell on his knees, drooping down in place.
And, a silver-haired girl took a single step with her trembling legs.
She ran up to him with a wobbly gait.
Her face was pale and her breathing rough. While she was capable of recovering physical strength by using spirit energy , there was no way to compensate for stamina with evocation.
Still, the elf girl's——Ellis' lips formed a smile.
It wasn't just a smile. Her eyebrows were lowered, shoulders trembling, breathing rough, there were tears in the corners of her eyes. Bleeding joy from her entire body, she reached the boy,
While calling his name, she hugged his head to her chest.
"We did it."
The muffled voice in Ellis' chest was trembling.
The crimson blade——the sword made of the girl's blood, he finally let go of it, putting it down on the floor. While remaining low in her embrace, he moved his arms around Ellis' waist to embrace her.
"But... not yet."
Imina muttered. Probably not to Ellis, to someone who wasn't here.
"It's not enough, it's not enough with just this guy. I need to move further forward or I won't reach where everyone is. ...Mom, Nee-san, everyone in the village. Not yet."
"It's all right. It will be all right."
Ellis held Imina's body even stronger as he sobbed convulsively.
"One day we'll reach it... surely, we'll reach."
Staring at the two, Milifica stood there without moving.
She didn't know what was the identity of this emotion running through her body.
——Was it fear.
Frankly speaking, they were twisted.
A human boy who only single-mindedly wished for power, turning the blood of his beloved into blade, he even pierced her belly with the blade. And——despite hating elves, leaving an elven woman by his side, the contradiction of killing that woman's fellow kin while laughing with ridicule.
On the other hand, the elven girl supported him making an expression of a saint. She devoted her blood, was willing to have her belly pierced, sacrificing herself to help with his revenge. And——while being an elf, the contradiction of being hostile towards elves, moreover, killing her own blood relatives.
Calling them "twisted" was lukewarm.
What was it that stirred and moved the two, why did those two turn like this. Trembling while trying to imagine it, must be caused by fear.
In Milifica's chest, that wasn't all.
She was aware they were distorted. Possibly, they might be insane. Burning up their bodies for revenge alone, scorching their hearts, what was it that lied ahead of them as they scrape away their souls. The opponent was mighty, journey - endless, from the sidelines it clearly looked like it will be dyed in just pain, suffering and despair.
Also, what will remain once they fulfil entirety of their revenge. Imina's family won't return, the fact that the family of the one Ellis loves was massacred will remain. This relationship, this act, it was nothing but barren. It was better that they forget everything and live together in peace in the corner of the country.
That's how vain and dreadful the thing they were attempting to do was.
The other ones present——Sashtal, Laimi, Fream, they all made same expression as she did. While in fear and dread, they trembled with something even greater.
At the sight of the bloodstained embrace of the two, Milifica and the others felt that in their chests.
Why was it.
Why are they so beautiful——.
Noticing the lines of sight Ellis raised her face and looked at Milifica and the others shyly.
Just like a face of a girl seen on a tryst.
That's why, Milifica responded to her with a smile.
And, moving her line of sight to the boy nestled in Ellis' chest——she thought of him with admiration and yearning.