They weren’t even ten steps ahead of him.
Three bandits aimed at him with poisoned arrows nocked and drawn.
—This would be rather difficult.
At a glance, Kei immediately comprehended the situation.
That was what his combat experience told him; though it was from a game, he had a lot of it.
If it were just one person, then he would still be able to manage somehow, but three people shooting at once was different. He was much too close. There wasn’t enough time to turn Mikazuki and dodge; the arrows would be faster. In addition, a black hound wolf growled at him and bared its fangs. He didn’t have more than a few breaths left.
What to do?
If he tried to deal with the hound wolf then he’d be shot by the poisoned arrows.
On the other hand, if he tried to do something about the arrows, the hound wolf would tear his throat out.
What to do?
In the span of one extremely intense moment, Kei came up with the optimal solution.
The optimal solution.
In this situation, that was to get off his horse. It was quite logical, and moreover, a very game-like move.
The man who seemed to be the leader of the bandits, Morissette, drew a long sword from a scabbard as he shouted the signal. The bowmen shot simultaneously.
At almost the same time, Kei wrapped the reins around his left hand, took his right foot out of the stirrup, and flattened himself against Mikazuki’s back as much as he could.
Mikazuki seemed pained due to Kei suddenly yanking the reins as he turned to the side. Matching his movements, Kei slid to Mikazuki’s left side, which covered him completely.
Kei used his favorite horse, Mikazuki, as a shield.
Originally, cavalrymen and their horses were two parts of a whole. Horses were a valuable thing as well. The bandits raised their voices in surprise as Kei used his precious ‘partner’ as a meat shield without any hesitation.
An arrow flew right through where Kei was not even a moment ago.
However, the other two arrows flew off target and sank mercilessly into Mikazuki’s torso. Whinnying, he writhed in pain. Thrown off of Mikazuki, Kei tumbled to the ground. He used safe falling techniques to counter the impact of hitting the soft ground and immediately stood back up. His leather cloak made a snap as it flapped behind him.
“You assholes.” Kei’s quiet, low voice oozed with rage. Beneath the cloth, baring his teeth like a beast, his blood seethed as he glared at the bandits with bloodshot eyes.
Heavy winds blew against them.
Morissette and his group unconsciously gasped as they were overwhelmed by the thick bloodlust that was exploding forth from Kei. Even the hound wolf that was ready to pounce at any moment, cowered with its fur standing on end.
But it was over in an instant.
In the blink of an eye, Kei quelled his intense bloodlust. Suddenly it vanished without a trace.
He calmly stood still, giving off no feelings; not anger, nor ambition, nor bloodlust. Morissette could only feel the vastness of the plains and the ground beneath his feet, it was almost as if Kei were a doll—
No, that’s not it!
Morissette, who held his longsword one-handed while squaring off against Kei, was shaking in his boots. A chill ran down his spine.
It was the feeling of being in danger.
Deep in his chest, he felt his sixth sense going off like an alarm, precisely because he couldn’t feel anything. He was witnessing something that transcended him…
From under the cloak, held up by the wind, came an instrumental duet. Suddenly, without warning.
Two flashes of silver—
“Du—“ Morissette was about to warn the others to duck, but he turned just in time to see the two bowmen get knocked back as their leather armor was pierced.
One had his forehead smashed open, the other had his shoulder demolished.
He practically span like a top in mid-air before he hit the ground. The bowman screamed as the impact broke the arrow, jamming it further into his shoulder, “—Gyaaaaaaahh!” He held his shoulder and rolled around on the ground writhing in agony, still not sure what even happened. Like leaves tossed around in the wind, or small fish swallowed up by a muddy current, they were powerless in the face of that overwhelming might.
…I couldn’t feel a thing, nothing at all.
Morissette’s mouth dried up. Sweat trickled down his brow.
Regardless of the archer right in front of him; regardless of the wind from the arrow flying right by him, he felt nothing.
Maybe, this was all just a dream or an illusion.
His 『Stealth Sense』was formidable enough to even kill their sense of reality.
All he managed to grasp was that the boy readied his bow under his cloak, concealing both his action and his target, before taking two quick shots.
What a sneaky bastard…!
It was as if he was casually showing off his combat prowess as if it were acrobatics. Right now, Morissette didn’t have the time to spare to grieve or regret picking a fight with such an unbelievable man. Despite the cold, he felt sticky with sweat. He gripped his sword tightly.
I can’t let this guy use his bow.
His subordinates fell one by one with each twang he heard.
And then, the next one might be him.
“Uuuoooooh!” he yelled from his diaphragm as if shaking off his fear. At the same time he held his longsword up and dashed.
Such an unexpectedly large voice boomed from his small body that even his petrified subordinates came back to their senses. Hurriedly the bowman nocked another arrow, and the spear user pressed forward. Then, the hound wolf with its fur standing on end rushed in headlong.
Just try and see if you can use that bow! Shouted Morissette in his mind with new hope. In this situation, if Kei were to use his bow then someone in his group would certainly fall victim. However, someone managed to reach him. He could no longer use his bow. It was hand to hand combat.
Kei himself recognized it as well. Especially with the hound wolf right in front of his face, even Kei wouldn’t have been able to use his bow in this situation.
He made a split-second decision. Kei threw his bow to the ground with his left hand, and then with a shing, pulled a saber from the scabbard at his waist
It was a fine steel saber, like the one the ‘Ninja’ used. Kei held the saber and glared at the hound wolf, his blade dangerously reflecting the firelight.
I’m still at a disadvantage.
Kei grew stiff with nerves, his insides were squirming.
Enemies approached from the left, right, and center. In the back was the second archer that he shot. Right next to him was the fallen archer, shot by a poisoned arrow and unable to move. Behind Kei lay the endless plains, and therefore escape.
God damn it! Just because I’m running out of time! He felt an impulse to click his tongue.
On the other hand, Morissette picked up on Kei’s impatience and smiled. We can do this!!
We’re attacking. We’re driving him into a corner. Along with the feeling of really succeeding came a dark pleasure.
In reality, Morissette’s plan was very well done. Killing the cavalryman’s horse, restricting him from using his preferred weapon, and making the best of their number advantage by bringing it to close combat.
Taking advantage of Kei’s impatience and carelessness, and many of their own sacrifices, they finally broke through. Out of all their options, this could have been said to be the best possible outcome. Kei handled swords poorly.
—compared to his bow.
“Ohn, ohn!!” Barked the hound wolf as it bore its fangs and ran at Kei.
On the other hand, Kei, with only a tiny amount of bloodlust, raised his saber. His movements clearly showed that he was preparing for an attack. Naturally, the vigilant hound wolf’s attention was also drawn to the sword.
Just before its nose, without the wolf sensing so much as a shred of killing intent, his right leg shot upward like an uppercut.
The hound wolf cried out pitifully and lost consciousness, while Kei mercilessly brought the saber down upon it. For some reason, with Kei’s large stature his attack looked as if he were moving in slow motion. However, using his incredible strength, his attack was quick and unreasonably heavy.
His lighting fast saber struck the hound wolf in the head, smashing it with a thick crack. Its damaged brain went haywire and sent nerve impulses throughout its body, causing it to convulse as it was thrown down into the ground from the force of the blow.
Then, the archer loosed his second arrow at Kei, whose stance was broken. He was stumbling toward the bowman; it’d be extremely difficult to dodge an arrow in his situation. He didn’t let the chance slip by and hit his mark.
However, Kei immediately sensed the bloodlust from the incoming arrow, and spun around on the spot. The arrow struck the spread out cloak.
It created a curtain of leather. Although, just a single thin layer of the protective leather would still be pierced by the poison coated arrow. But Kei tore off the cloak and tried to deflect the arrow with his cloak’s rotational force. While the arrow still plunged through the cloak, it lost some of its speed.
But even as Kei was doing a quick half-turn, the impromptu shot proved successful. There was a dull thud. The arrow stuck out from Kei’s back, however the bulky part of his leather armor took the blow and stopped it without so much as leaving a scratch on Kei.
Kei quickly turned his head and gave the bowman a death stare. Before Kei’s eyes the bowman started to shake, now realizing that his attack failed.
—The arrow had virtually no effect.
—I suppose I should have shot again.
—Or should I throw down my bow and use my sword too?
—Just when the hound wolf was taken out, I should have jumped in with my sword.
—But crossing swords with this monster is frightening.
The bowman stiffened and hesitated for just a moment. Kei’s left arm lashed out like a whip, practically blurring from the elbow down.
In the darkness of the new moon, the bowman probably felt it coming. A lead pebble cutting through the night—
There was an unpleasant sound as the bowman’s forehead sank into his skull. He bent over backwards, as if struck by lightning as both eyes rolled back into his head, and he let out a strange, “Koh!”
Noticing that the hound wolf and even the archer were taken out, Morissette turned his attention forward again. The other man wielding the short spear, however, never removed his eyes from Kei. Not even realizing that two of his allies were taken out, the spear wielder charged straight in. “Diiiee!!” He screamed as he thrust his sharp spear.
Kei, glaring at the spear wielder, answered with a side sweep of his saber. It clashed against the shaft of the spear with a shrill metallic clank. His eyes opened wide when he saw the spear, which he struck with enough force to break, was left without so much as a scratch.
It was made of metal. The short spear wielder’s weapon was made entirely of a metallic alloy. Compared to a regular spear, it should have been much heavier. However, because the man handled it with ease and it was disguised with paint to look like wood, Kei never realized it.
Feeling Kei trembling, the spear wielder smirked and put more power behind his spear. He used overbearing force to push Kei’s saber back and realign his spear, and then thrust vigorously.
He believed in his brute strength method.
Except, at that very moment, he realized that was a poor move. Kei reinforced the flat of his saber with his other hand and forced him into a contest of strength with his extraordinary power.
Feeling Kei’s abnormal strength, the spear wielder mustered all his strength in an attempt to push back the saber. But it wouldn’t move. It wouldn’t even budge. In fact, his spear was being pushed aside. That wasn’t the end of it either; in an instant, their roles were reversed.
Sparks flew with a grinding noise as the saber slid up the shaft of the spear. The edge of the blade was getting closer. The spear wielder, caught up in uncertainty, could only stare as it happened.
Kei pushed aside his defenses with all his strength and swiftly stepped in toward him, leaving only a short distance. Sliding up the spear shaft, the saber finally reached the spear wielder’s hands and, naturally, his fingers were sent flying.
But the saber didn’t stop there. Before the fingers could even hit the ground, the saber forced its way between his legs, slicing the left femoral artery on his inner thigh, causing blood to spurt out.
Even after that, the merciless sword dance continued on. Finally recognizing Kei’s speed, the spear wielder, his leg slashed, opened his mouth to scream as he fell to the ground. But, faster than he could squeeze out his voice, the saber flicked upward and caressed his neck. It was a fatal strike, severing his carotid artery.
A wet sound came from the man’s throat as his blood sprayed. Kei turned around without so much as a glance at the spear wielder as he powerlessly collapsed to the ground.
He took a stance, holding his saber in front of him. His movements were smooth; clearly the result of training rather than self-practice. In an instant, Kei had prepared to fight Morissette.
“Don’t…fuck with me—!!” Morissette shouted as he brandished his longsword, stirring into action.
The man killed just a moment ago was the strongest in his group. With his strength and long lasting stamina he could effortlessly wield his metal alloy spear. Morissette was proud of having him in the group.
Morissette was caught up with his archers, and by the time he looked back again, the saber had already claimed its prey.
What was more, he was beaten decisively.
Not only his bowmanship, but even his swordsmanship is first rate?!
What power he has.
This is absurd.
How had such a young boy become so skilled—
“Fuuuck!!” Shouting angrily, Morissette brought his longsword down at Kei from overhead.
It was a straightforward attack of desperation. Not even needing to feel his bloodlust, Kei naturally reacted.
The saber moved to intercept the longsword that was approaching from above. The blow carried force with the intent of destroying the weapon rather than the defense.
A loud metallic clang resonated as sparks were sent flying in the darkness.
The sharp impact when the two swords met nearly ripped Morissette’s longsword from his hands. Rather than locking swords, his longsword was just hit over and over again.
Shit! This isn’t how you’d use a saber!!
Morissette’s face became stiff as he switched his longsword to his left hand due to the numbness in his right arm. Sabers were a ‘Slashing’ weapon, yet this boy was using it entirely as a ‘Bashing’ weapon—Morissette stumbled backwards in retreat, and like a bird of prey, Kei kept the pressure on, closing to attack.
“Ooooohh!!” Yelling undauntedly back at Kei, Morissette swung his sword. If he were to poorly take a strike from Kei, he would inevitably lose to the difference in strength. Therefore, rather than defend, he attacked.
The saber hummed through the air as it approached, before clashing with Morissette’s longsword. Sparks flew once again, but since he was using his non-dominant left hand, the force of the blow redirected the longsword.
He was now defenseless. Kei stepped in to close the gap and swing his saber as he should have. However, Morissette thrust out his arm more quickly.
Suddenly feeling a sharp, stabbing bloodlust from the front, Kei whipped his head to the side as if he’d been slapped, and heard something brush against his mask.
Something black cut through the air right in front of his face. It was so small that even with his eyes Kei couldn’t tell what it was before it flew away and disappeared in the dark, leaving behind only the sound of it cutting through the air.
“You really dodge that well, huh!” said Morissette with vexation as he gripped the sword in his right hand again. What flew by was a poisoned glass dart that came from the covering on the back of his right hand. It was a hidden, one-shot only weapon that used a strong spring to fire the dart, but it was effective in bringing certain death to human targets.
Kei, who excelled at Passive Sense, was able to avoid the unconventional attack—but even so, suddenly being shot at thoroughly broke his stance. Morissette kicked off the ground and boldly thrust his longsword forward.
“Haa!!” As he exhaled a short breath he aimed for Kei’s chest and thrust the sharp sword. Using his left hand’s bracer as a guide, he aimed for a small gap in Kei’s leather armor; his throat.
“Guah!?” Let out Kei in an anguished voice as he used all his might to twist his body in order to evade the longsword. As if doing a backflip, Kei faced backwards and jumped. The steel edge of the sword sliced right in front of him. His left cheek stung as he felt something cold, yet warm. He threw himself to the grassy ground, and rolled away to gain some distance.
Without a moment’s delay, Morissette moved to strike again, but Kei struck at his feet. While rolling away, he snapped up his wrist and attacked. It was random and meant to buy time, but for better or worse the saber lightly cut into Morissette’s unprotected ankles. A small scream escaped Morissette and he took a step back. In that time, Kei got up and took up a stance again.
Covering his wounded ankle, Morissette took the initiative and again raised his sword to strike. However, seeing Kei prepared he rethought it and struck high, middle, low, thrust, and mixed in feints to test his moves. Kei adjusted his stance for each one.
However, Kei reacted immediately to them all and Morissette was unable to find an opening in his defenses.
Dammit, there isn’t even a chance for me to slip through with my sword.
Morissette clicked his tongue as he tried to shuffle around and encircle Kei.
Predominately a bowman, even though Morissette had real combat experience, his swordsmanship was only at an average level. Nor did he have much physical strength, so he would lose easily if Kei were to come at him with brute force.
Kei’s swordplay seemed to be a counter based style, so the blessing was that he wouldn’t assertively attack, but the situation wouldn’t change either. Even with that said, his only option, chipping away at Kei, also wasn’t a good method for Morissette, since he had already used his trump card. Morissette had no other cards to play.
On the other hand, with his saber readied, Kei thought to himself, …He’s better than I expected. If he’s careful with his movements, he could handle me to some degree, amongst other things that would likely enrage Morissette if he heard them.
Kei’s strength in 『Demondal』 was above that of most, but still less than that of some. He was stronger than most of the beginner and middle level players, but he wasn’t even a match for the top level players.
His bow expertise earned him the name ‘The Reaper’; his statuses, and masteries all fundamentally specialized him in shooting from horseback, but at the cost of it being difficult to show strength in any other area. On top of that, the game stressed the importance of player skill, and Kei wasn’t blessed with amazing swordsmanship.
Now then, why was it that Kei could stand on equal, no, higher grounds than Morissette and his group?
There are two major reasons. The swordsmanship that Kei learned and the 『Vision Enhancement Crest』engraved on his eye.
First, the swordsmanship that Kei used was nothing particularly special in 『Demondal』. It was simply a general purpose style for specialized players who used a sword as a secondary weapon. Skills and abilities that automated the moves didn’t exist in 『Demondal』, so players often studied swordplay or spearplay. Using martial arts from all ages and countries, players shared information on video hosting websites and refined the style logically, mathematically, and ergonomically through real combat, evolving it into a ‘dirty’ fighting style.
The heart, liver, other vitals, any artery, and a man’s crotch were all targets. In some cases, dropping one’s weapon and fighting hand-to-hand was considered ‘swordplay’ as well.
Kei’s swordsmanship required that players with high strength stats use a sword as a secondary weapon. The basics of his life-reaping sword were that it focused on power rather than technique, while Kei sometimes aimed for vital and weak points on the defensive.
It was the basics of the basics of swordsmanship in the game, but Kei mastered it and gained tons of experience through countless battles with various top players, starting with Andrei the ‘Ninja’, who specialized in speed, agility, and abnormal maneuvers.
He practiced in every situation; one on one, skirmishes, one versus many, sword on sword, sword on spear, sword on axe, horseback, on foot, indoor, and outdoor. He had near limitless experience killing humanoids.
A swordsmanship devoted to rational calculations.
A swordsmanship of human engineering and knowledge that targeted all vitals.
A swordsmanship that, when practiced, could kill humanoids without hesitation.
In the game, Kei struggled with non-basic movements, as well as not holding any particular natural strength, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t strong. In fact, one could say that he had the highest physical ability if he were on horseback, and moreover, he had his outstanding Passive Sense. When compared to an average player, his combat ability was astounding.
On the other side, how about Morissette and his group?
Morissette’s swordsmanship was essentially self-taught. One could say it was because his main role wasn’t a swordsman to begin with, but this wasn’t limited to just Morissette; many of the swordsman in this world were self-taught to some degree.
There were those that studied under swordsmen who were better than themselves, but even those well-practiced swordsman rarely left the realm of self-teaching.
For argument’s sake, even if there were a school that taught swordsmanship, they typically wouldn’t want outsiders to learn their ways. It couldn’t be helped, but the difference was simply that Morissette’s group had to risk their lives in combat to develop their skills. Kei and Aileen did not.
In addition, the difference between Kei and Aileen’s game avatar bodies in comparison to normal human bodies simply stood in their way.
In this world, like in 『Demondal』, life was much like the middle ages. Of course, those that grew up in this era, without being pampered by convenience, physically surpassed modern people. Especially those who lived by fighting, such as Morissette and his group, further surpassed the strength and stamina of ordinary people even in this world.
However, Kei was a prominent fighter among even the best in a similar style VRMMO.
A one-word description of his physical strength would be, ‘monstrous’.
Calling him inhuman would be an understatement.
Even though the short-spear wielder had superhuman strength in this world, Kei had easily killed him with his saber.
In addition to Kei’s abilities were several enhancement 『Crests』 engraved on his body.
This time, the 『Vision Enhancement』crests engraved in each of his eyes especially, allowed him to perform this well against multiple enemies.
Even his horse, Mikazuki, had crests engraved in his eyes. Simply put, they enhanced all aspects of the bearer’s vision. Vision for both moving and unmoving objects, for both close up and far away, depth perception, etc… and of course night vision, the ability to see in the dark.
A new moon.
It was so dark that it was difficult to see even one inch ahead.
The only light came from the small camp fire.
While it wasn’t as bright as day for Kei’s eyes, he could see quite well. Well enough to be able to accurately count the wrinkles on the foreheads of the bandits in front of him.
Morissette and his group had to fight Kei in such darkness that they could barely make him out. The difference was obvious.
…This isn’t good. How should I go about this? Kei’s hands were wet with nervous sweat. While fixing his grip on his saber, he glared at the bandit—Morissette—in front of him.
The situation appeared to be entirely in Kei’s favor, but in reality, not everything was working out for him.
There was no time.
Kei’s goal wasn’t to kill all of the bandits, it was to cure Aileen. He had to tell the village shaman, who had the antidotes, that it was 『Enslavement Poison』right away. This wasn’t the time to fight with the likes of these bandits.
They were neither weak nor strong, but turning his back would still be far too dangerous. With that sort of opponent the only cost was time. Kei was utterly tired of it.
I really want to finish this up now…
He didn’t know what to do. While swaying his saber slowly from side to side, he checked his grip.
Kei may not have even been a threat since his swordsmanship wasn’t great. No matter how much time passed, Kei’s hesitation in attacking wasn’t just because his swordsmanship was based on countering.
He held the saber in his right hand.
His fatigue was beginning to show.
…This isn’t good, it’s starting to deteriorate. After going through battle until now, the edge of the blade was damaged and the grip was starting to come apart from the blade. Matching the spear wielder’s brute force was probably a bad idea. At this rate, he could only swing at full force three or four more times before the saber would either break, or separate from the grip and become useless.
Kei’s swordsmanship was less focused on ‘killing’ than it was ‘hacking’. He needed a heavier, more solid sword like a longsword or a scimitar.
But, the saber that Kei had was definitely a weapon for ‘killing’. It was very sharp, but it lost to the longsword in durability. Of course it wouldn’t last long in Kei’s hands.
So then, why was Kei carrying a saber?
The answer was very simple. It belonged to the ‘Ninja’.
Unlike Kei, Andrei specialized in agility and speed, and used the sharp blade to slash. However, no matter how good a saber user’s technique was, there were times when it would break during a fight.
He used a saber so he could pass it off to Andrei at those times.
Whether it be a saber or a longsword, inside the game where warriors gathered, if it came to hand to hand combat, Kei would lose instantly and the type of sword wouldn’t matter. If someone who mained a bow had to rely on a sword, it was most likely their loss. In that case, it made more sense to provide Andrei a safety margin rather than have Kei carry a sword for himself.
That method was popular in the game, but it was coming back to bite him now.
Only the sound of the cold wind blowing could be heard as the two men stood with readied swords.
“…You’re surprisingly young,” quietly muttered Morissette, breaking the silence. He looked at Kei, whose cloth face covering was now removed.
A cut on Kei’s left cheek bloodied his face. Filled with irritation, his strict face coupled with the harsh look in his eyes seemed to show an expression of fury. However, being of Asian descent, he had a boyish face and gave off the feeling of youthfulness.
“For a youngster like you to have come this far… I’m at a loss.” Morissette continued on, but Kei didn’t answer. In fact, he narrowed his eyes and glared at Morissette, further increasing his guard.
It was silent for another short while.
“…Hey, how about we call it off here?” Morissette carelessly said as he lowered his sword slightly and relaxed his muscles. Kei twitched and moved a little.
“I’m saying why don’t we stop fighting. We’re both running out of time, aren’t we?” He tilted his head a little.
In an instant, Kei felt the blood rush to his head. “…Don’t mess around. You’re one to talk after starting this.”
“This is hard on both of us. That’s the truth. Life is important even to me, I don’t want to waste time. Besides, aren’t we the same? Time is of the essence for our companions… am I wrong?” He smirked as he saw the impact of his words.
“…You should have just done this from the start.”
“I think so too. But—“
“I don’t plan on forgiving you,” Kei interrupted bluntly. “I told you in the beginning. Quickly tell me the name of the poison and you won’t die. Anything else and I’ll kill you.” He looked like he was going to say more, but dropped his gaze to the ground.
Laying out on the grassy plain, without even a twitch, was Mikazuki.
He’d taken two arrows loaded with poison.
Bowser horses had much larger bodies than humans did, but as Mikazuki didn’t have any poison resistance, it was more than a lethal dose.
“I’m going to kill you.” Kei was once again filled with rage from the bottom of his heart. The atmosphere around him grew heavy.
“Hey, w-wait a sec.” Far from resolving the situation, Morissette evoked Kei’s wrath, and backed away in a hurry out of a lack of nerve.
Kei slowly raised his sword again and released a sudden torrent of bloodlust. In the short span of the battle, Morissette became well aware that the lack of Kei’s bloodlust was his bloodlust. It was at this time that Morissette seriously panicked and moved about hurriedly and said, “I’m sorry!” He threw his sword to the ground and prostrated himself. “I’m sorry! It was my fault! Please, forgive me!” His continued as his forehead met the ground, “I just lost myself a little! Please forgive me! I swear that I’ll never do it again! I’ll quit this business, I’ll never hold a sword again nor kill! Please just let me live, I don’t want to die…” The second half of his desperate pleas came through a sobbing voice as he curled up on the ground. He then continued to mutter, almost incoherently, “Please.”
Kei looked at the pathetic figure and stopped. He felt as if his raging mind grew cold and lost its strength.
That feeling was bitter-sweet. Both reason and emotion screamed at him to kill the man in front of him. His anger was well justified. There were several reasons to rid himself of the man in his way; for his own protection, and in a sense, to save Aileen. And the fact that he had mercilessly killed the others. The fallen bandits in the area were dead. In his anger, he killed them.
On the other hand, the man in front of him right now…
If Morissette was still the bandit Kei was facing in a fight to the death earlier, Kei would have killed him without hesitation. If not, he himself would have been killed. He wouldn’t be able to save Aileen then. There wasn’t any time to hesitate.
However, Morissette pathetically groveled at his feet, begging for his life. He was weak, awkward, and defenseless. Logically, he thought that killing him now would be the ‘better’ option, to save himself from any future anxiety. At this distance he could end it all faster than one could blink.
But even so, his sword didn’t move.
—Maybe I don’t need to go as far as killing him. Such thoughts floated across his mind along with a very unpleasant aftertaste.
Kei’s bloodlust dulled.
“—like I said, so please!” Noticing Kei’s hesitation, Morissette spoke up, “Just my life! Just let me live, please! R-right, in case you need it,” he only moved his hand to feel around for something at his waist, “it’s the antidote! The antidote for the ‘Enslavement Poison’, take it! I’m begging you! Take this and please, please—“ As if presenting it, he held a small leather bag in the palm of his right hand.
Kei’s eyes were involuntarily drawn to the leather bag.
“—please, die for me.”
Morissette’s left arm moved quietly.
He quickly raised his head and threw grass and dirt in Kei’s face.
“Wha-!” Kei winced from the dirt getting into his eyes. He was blinded. It was a cowardly tactic that didn’t exist in the game, using sand or dirt, but it disturbed Kei. In that time, Morissette picked up his long sword. “You piece of shit!!” Kei bellowed, enraged from the pain particularly in his right eye, as he shed tears. Thinking about it, this was the second time he fell for Morissette’s tricks. Showing mercy was the wrong choice. He should have killed him right away. Furious at himself for being weak and being deceived again he raised his saber without suppressing his bloodlust. “I’m going to kill you!”
“You’re the one that’s going to die, asshole!”
Morissette gripped his longsword tightly and thrust at the enraged Kei.
—He didn’t know when to give up.
Giving into his anger he prepared to take it, however something felt out of place.
—Why is he coming at me with a stab?
It was too straightforward of an attack. Morissette most likely realized Kei couldn’t use sword techniques. He noticed that Kei’s sword was in poor condition.
Acting like he’d given up and throwing dirt in Kei’s eyes was more or less to buy time, but it didn’t change the fact that he was still at a disadvantage. No matter what, it didn’t feel right for Morissette, who repeatedly used underhanded tactics, to risk his life in a suicide attack.
Maybe he became serious. Maybe he truly fell into desperation. The tip of Kei’s sword swayed at the uncomfortable feeling. The bloodlust that Kei let out before dulled in his hesitation.
Perhaps that’s why.
“—!” His body moved before he could even think. He instantly dove to the left. At roughly the same time, something struck him with a hard impact. He felt a searing pain in his right shoulder. “Guohh!”
In pain from the impact, Kei muffled a scream as he rolled on the grassy ground. He dodged reflexively after feeling the bloodlust, but he still didn’t understand.
“A~ah. Looks like I failed this time.”
While trying to get up in the chaos Kei heard a voice.
He snapped his head up to see.
A short and stout figure clad in black clothes was there in the darkness.
A plump man that carried a short sword in both hands.
“I thought I had your neck, you know…”
He didn’t think it could have been dodged.
Morissette’s assassin, Rat, narrowed his eyes and readied his short sword.
Femoral Artery: A large artery in the thigh and the main arterial supply to the lower limb. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femoral_artery
Please: This is in English in the raw to serve as a reminder to readers that most of the conversation is actually in English.
Illustrations courtesy of Mr. NAKA. Find him at https://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=4377278 (opens in new tab).