Chapter 28 – Floor Boss 3
With the passing of every second, my life force was being depleted at a vicious rate.
At least, that was what the desperate struggle felt like.
It was a battle where any little mistake could lead to your death.
In spite of it being a battle that moved faster than the eye could follow, it felt like it had been going on for nearly half an hour now.
However, Loki had not given the signal yet. So I had to tell myself that I was just wrong.
Eventually, in the midst of this atmosphere that could not feel more deadly…
“…You’re finally starting to look like your old self. Eh?”
Ornest’s voice rang cheerfully through the clashing of blades.
He was able to shout like that, even while being out of breath. I was more impressed than exasperated.
“Really. I see you after four years, and you just have this bored look on your face!”
He was complaining now.
Was this really the time to say such things!? It was a pointless observation to make at this moment.
I didn’t know what he meant by it, but I shouted back while swinging my sword in every direction.
“Shu-shut up!! You don’t know what I’ve been through…!”
Ornest wasn’t one to hold back, and he had probably chosen this moment, as I could not evade him.
“Hah! Well, sorry about that!?”
Strangely, he seemed satisfied by my answer. He blocked the oncoming great sword with his black spear, and then smiled, showing his teeth. It annoyed me how amused he looked.
“Still, this really is quite fun, eh?”
My cheek, hand, stomach.
The attacks grazed my skin, and then blood rose to the surface. Lines running red.
While dodging the barrage of attacks, Ornest’s cheerful voice sounded out of place.
“People like us, we shine brightest in such places!!”
That was the belligerent Ornest I knew.
“And so, I could not help but be puzzled at the time! Even if there was that matter with your father, I assumed that you would come with us!”
He started talking about events four years ago.
And he looked happy. As if he didn’t care if moving his mouth meant more lacerations.
If not at this moment, you wouldn’t answer me, would you? He seemed to say.
And though I wanted to focus my whole body and mind on the fight, I was not able to shut him out either.
‘It must be fate that brought the four of us together like this. So we might as well go as far as we can. We’ll have one goal. To become the strongest. Hah! This is going to be fun…!’
It was after my first year at the magic academy.
The four of us had gone to a tavern to celebrate making it to the next grade, and those were the words that Ornest had shouted. I could not forget them.
“And look at what happened!! I told you, didn’t I? That palace would be no good for you! After seeing the way you look, I wonder… What were you trying to accomplish? Why were you so desperate!! Tell me! Eh!?”
I dodged the coming blade by a hair’s breadth, and then moved in for a counter attack.
Ornest had been shouting in what now seemed like a one-sided attack. And so I answered, as if to unleash the pent up anger.
I had no intention of hiding my annoyance.
And so I muttered in a low voice.
But the words did not stop.
“No, I won’t!! I won’t be silent until you spit out what it is that you’re hiding!!”
There was a loud clang as he forcefully swept the Dullahan’s weapon to the side, and took a step forward.
Immediately after, Ornest closed the gap between them, and switched from fighting defensively to offensively.
He sounded like he was certain that there was more to it. A reason other than the one I had given to them when becoming a court magician.
…He could be strangely perceptive sometimes.
Ornest was not wrong. And this would be resolved if I just told him.
However, I didn’t want to talk about something so pitiful. And so I was going to tell him to shut up again.
“…I can’t help you if I don’t know. I can’t lend you a hand. We had each other’s backs for six years. Ate under the same roof. So why shouldn’t I want to help you!? Eh? But do you still want me to be silent!? Eh!?”
His words and the clashing of swords seemed to alternate. And so I heard them clearly.
Even though I pretended not to.
That wasn’t fair at all.
I wanted to say.
I gripped my sword tightly while swinging, and bit my lower lip.
“…I… Only wanted to repay a debt.”
I then went on the offensive as well, as if to erase any sounds while I forced the words out of my mouth.
“A very old debt that I owed. I just wanted to repay it…”
A black streak flashed in front of me.
I had been hit by it once already.
In order to avoid ever being hit by its martial arts again, I jumped back, not giving it a chance.
In the meantime, Ornest continued his chain of thrusting attacks.
But the Dullahan seemed to be able to read his movements now, and dodged the attacks easily.
“…Sometimes, his face suddenly appears in my mind. Sorrowful, tormented…tearful. Even though it was not like him…”
‘…A court magician is the one thing you should avoid becoming.’
He had said that to me one day, and then disappeared.
“And…so…!! I! wanted to repay him by changing the royal court! That’s why I went against everyone’s wishes!! And look what it’s done!”
Why would I want to say this?
Of course, I would hide it.
Are you satisfied now, Ornest?
My blade was charged with anger, and I turned my emotion into sound as I slammed it into the enemy.
And then after a short delay, the pangs of remorse.
…If it was going to be like this, I should have just faced the three and told them the truth when parting with them.
I should have made a direct appeal to the king. Even though he was not favorable towards me, he was the sole person who did not disregard me completely.
If I really wanted change so badly, then there had surely been more that I could say, and times I could have said them.
“…The only thing I was able to do was clutch desperately to the position I had gained.”
I hadn’t changed anything.
I accomplished nothing.
In fact, you could say that all I did was carry someone’s luggage in a dungeon.
I nearly smiled at the emptiness and self-scorn I felt. However…
“…Still, the wish for change. That was genuine, wasn’t it? Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been there for four years. To me, that is impressive enough. Though, perhaps you cannot see it that way.”
It was just after Ornest said those kind words.
With a powerful step forward, the swinging sword and black spear clashed together. Sparks flew, and both the spear and the arm that wielded it bounced away violently.
In spite of all the talking, Ornest had been able to deal with the enemy, who sometimes used techniques I had never seen before, and managed to come out with as few cuts as possible. But this was the first and last opening he showed.
It was just a second.
However, the Dullahan did not miss it.
Ornest scowled and clicked his tongue. I immediately made the decision to move to a supporting position in order to help him.
That’s when it happened.
The timing was perfect. There was a familiar metallic ring, and then a great magic circle appeared over the Dullahan, Ornest, and my head.
I didn’t have to think about where it had come from. As soon as the Dullahan noticed this, it halted its followup attack and jumped away, as its intelligence dictated. It moved away at a frightening speed, and then headed to…
“Wai…t. Hey, that’s…!”
When I looked over my shoulder, I saw five humans, including Yorha and Clashia.
And the Dullahan moved towards the person who had activated the magic circle.
It was intelligent enough to single them out. And so it rushed towards Loki and Clashia at full speed, and swung down with its great sword…
Or I thought it did.
“Heh. Hah. Ahahahahahaha!!!”
Once, twice, thrice. The laughter that mocked the fooled Dullahan echoed intermittently, from somewhere.
And then the air under the swinging greatsword distorted. And then…what must have been some kind of magic trigger… Several magic circles appeared under the Dullahan’s feet.
“It really was polite enough to step into the magic that I placed down! What a fool! What an idiot! Ahahahahaha!!”
Loki was laughing so much that it sounded painful.
“Still, were those two stronger than I expected? Or was the great magic that I created too much to handle? It doesn’t seem like it has much left in it. Well, an undead would know to target the magician first, but… You panicked a little, didn’t you?”
In general, these kinds of magic traps could not be hidden, and were easy to avoid.
You would generally just use them to tell others to avoid passing through.
And while they had the advantage of having a one hundred percent accuracy if stepped on, that rarely happened against an intelligent creature.
And yet, in spite of how unlikely it was, he had forced it to happen by using its momentary ‘panic.’
The magic circles that appeared under the Dullahan were a pale blue.
“…That being said, things are going almost too smoothly? Well, just a few more moves now. In any case, let’s start carving away this pesky mobility, shall we?”
A Court Magician A Court Magician Who Was Focused On Supportive Magic Because His Allies Were Too Weak Aims To Become The Strongest After Being Banished Aims To Become The Strongest After Being Banished Who Was Focused On Supportive Magic Because His Allies Were Too Weak