45 – Flickering Flame In Between
Why do I swing my sword?
Why do I want to become stronger?
The question that had been repeated over and over. From others, and from me.
To be able to protect others as a knight.
To prevent the tears of innocents.
However, I knew it as well.
—That it was all just an excuse.
Reasons. There could be a countless number of them.
However, none of them really felt like the truth.
When I swung my sword, I felt as if I could forget everything.
That alone saved me…
I open my eyes.
(…I’ve never camped outside before.)
I sighed and glared at the house that the man had entered.
It was an old house, near the forest park.
The sky was already starting to brighten. How much time had passed?
(…The butterfly tattoo.)
Now that I think about it.
There is no guarantee that this person had anything to do with the people who killed my brother.
The butterfly imagery was not rare.
Perhaps not many people would use it for a tattoo, but it was still possible that this person was completely unrelated.
After all, I had never seen them before.
(Still…it doesn’t stop. The voice…)
The refrain. Over and over and over.
Even though I am awake, it is as if I’m in a dream.
The words of that officer, as I eavesdropped on them speaking to my father.
All reason told me to turn away.
What about my promise to Ms. Aize?
Am I going to betray President Sherry?
And the words…of Teacher Yukito.
However, my instincts were calling.
This is your enemy.
This will be your first and your last chance.
I held down my shaking hand.
Then reached down to my belt…was reminded that I was unarmed, and clicked my tongue in annoyance.
Why had I not brought my sword?
Thinking of it calmly, of course, I wouldn’t have. We had been in a city cafe. I was not going to bring a weapon with me. I had not anticipated that this would happen.
“Hey, young lady.”
The voice suddenly rang from behind me, and I nearly jumped up in shock.
…Damn it. I had not been concentrating on my surroundings.
I turned around cautiously to see a man who had the typical appearance of a ruffian.
“What do you say? Want to go out for a drink?”
(…He’s hitting on me here?)
With a sigh, I waved my hand and said, ‘Sorry.’
‘Alright,’ he answered, and withdrew.
But my relief was brief—as pain suddenly shot through my stomach.
“Hey, hey. You should keep your guard up more.”
I felt like my insides were being torn apart. I jumped back from the pain.
I was stabbed.
Thankfully, my clothes were stab-proof, and could be used for combat. The blade had not gone very deep. It wasn’t a lethal wound.
After moving back, I froze my clothes against my stomach in order to stop the bleeding.
When I looked at the man, he was twirling a sword with one hand and grinning. His eyes gleamed sadistically.
“What? I thought you were a cop or Hunter. But you’re just some amateur.”
“…And who are you?”
He smiled and stuck out his tongue.
There was…a butterfly tattoo.
In an instant, I was overcome with rage.
“Answer the question. Or else…”
“…I’ll kill you.”
She raised her fists in a defensive stance and glared at him menacingly.
The man chuckled and went into a fighting stance as well.
His sword was pulled back, and he had one hand in front of him.
“Hehehe. Is that glare all you got? Your legs are shaking.”
“…Answer me. Five years ago, was it you people who attacked the imperial soldiers in Ithrika?”
For a second, the man tilted his head with a puzzled expression… But then he laughed with an ‘Ahhh.’
“That job. Aye, I remember it! Rather fun one. We were told to kill some nobleman’s brat.”
“Ah, that was one for the books!! That blonde-haired… Uh, what was his name? I forgot. But the way he shouted pathetically…”
My mind was white hot.
Without thinking of the past or future, I just walked forward.
Like an arrow, my fists were unleashed. Over and over, the martial arts technique my teacher taught me. There was no sign of it now.
Relax. Keep your proper distance at all times. Observe your opponent coolly—Imposible. Right now, I want nothing more than to kill this man who is in front of me.
However, my fist just cut through air, and—
As the man laughed.
The impact. I could not even see what it was. And like that, I lost consciousness.