51 – Abyss
The blood that burst out, as if breaking through the skin all over Dust’s body, dyed his surroundings red.
It wasn’t just him. From the other four on the ground. They were bleeding as well.
The abnormal spray was even cutting through their clothes and leaving marks on the walls like a water cutter.
Was this a new attack? I wondered. But they had clearly died.
Dust had crumbled to the ground, blood flowing from the holes in his body.
“…Oh? Pardon me. Am I interrupting something?”
As I stood speechless—a man’s voice suddenly rang in the air.
He had a strange accent. It reminded me somehow of Kansai, even though it didn’t exist in this world…
“Who are you?”
“Hello. You can call me Deep. A pleasure.”
He wore a silk hat that was pulled far down.
What was strange, much more than his accent…was the fact that I could not sense his presence at all.
I had never seen someone that could conceal themselves so well.
“Are you from the organization…?”
Had he come to silence them? However, the man waved his hand dismissively with a ‘Nah, nah.’
“I ain’t related to these folks. Old Kutsuguro asked me to do it. Says they were an eyesore that needs to be crushed.”
Man sighed and shrugged.
“It’s so troublesome for me. Told him to do it himself, but… The old man reminded me I owed him one…”
The man raised his head a little.
The eyes gleamed under the silk hat.
They were deeper and darker than any eyes I had seen before.
“So there you have it. The unfortunate little moths were squashed…♪ Not one left. This is all of them. Uh, are they butterflies, not moths? Well, does it matter?”
He was far more dangerous than the others.
How had he activated that magic earlier?
Was it really possible to suddenly make people bleed like that?
“Well, since that’s over with…”
The man snapped his fingers.
“You better die too, mister.”
I felt the danger, and immediately moved out of the way.
What I saw for a brief moment was…a droplet of water?
“Huh? You actually dodged it.”
Was that how he did it?
It was so small that it was barely visible. That thing had killed those men?
Shit. There was too much about magic that I didn’t know.
Swiftly, I worked the ki inside of my body.
—Renki, Heat Haze.
The air shook.
The more I worked the ki, the stronger my body became, and what leaked out became a suit of armor.
And this armor could easily scatter the attacks of wind magic.
My instincts told me that I could not be touched by it.
If I wanted to avoid being hit, then I just had to make sure I could not be hit.
“…Hey, hey. Wait a minute now. I’m just here for a job… Why is this monster here?”
That’s what I wanted to say.
I should have studied magic a little more.
Bubbling up, giant spheres of water were born, surrounding the man as they floated.
“Still, this should be fun. Right?”
Water shot out from the spheres like laser beams.
I dodged them, but—they did not cut through the walls, but melted them. As smoke rose and the walls melted, I realized that it wasn’t water, but acid.
Was the droplet from earlier also poisonous?
“Let’s keep going!”
The spheres continued to float as numerous lasers shot out.
They moved faster than bullets.
Countless flashes of a blade cut through the air.
The arcs of the blades left afterimages…which stayed suspended there.
I unleashed the attacks in bulk, which utilized the magic sword techniques.
It was like making a sword barrier. A wall of slash attacks.
The acid smashed against the wall and erupted with a hiss.
I had stolen this technique from Elliot.
Back then, I thought that it would be useless, but you never knew what would happen in life.
“You have got to be kidding!”
The man chuckled with a grimace. And then I kicked off of the ground.
—Walking Technique, White Water.
I would have looked like I teleported right in front of him, and so his eyes widened.
And then my sword flashed at his neck.
However, it was blocked by a water shield that he summoned.
It was incredibly hard. How the hell could a water shield be the same durability as dragon scales?
“Wah!! You’re ridiculously fast!!”
I dodged the water spears that shot out from the ground, and then jumped into the air.
Then I twisted my body and unleashed a Breaking Thread attack. However, this too was blocked by a wall of water.
Damn it. It was not strong enough.
(…So it won’t work.)
It would be dangerous to let this drag out. Who knew what he would do next.
And so…I gave up.
—The option of finishing this without killing him.
“Well then, I think that I will go all out too…!”
I muttered from behind him.
Sparks flew in the air.
—Renki, Thunder Unleash.
It was one of the highest points of Renki.
Unlike Heat Haze, which was both offensive and defensive, the Renki was turned into lightning, and it raised your speed and physical abilities to absolute limit.
The speed was now outside of what the human senses could register.
The attacks did not even leave a shadow.
Each flash cut the water shield, and what was behind it, in two.
While keeping my guard up, I looked at the severed man. And wondered.
The sensation when cutting him had been strange.
Cutting through a person did not feel like that.
It was not a pleasant sensation, but—that was why I could tell.
“Ahhh. You really got me there. Alright, I surrender. Surrender!”
While still split in half, the man sighed and shook his head and raised his arms. My eyes widened.
“As if I could beat something like this. Ugh. Boy, am I going to be scolded after this…”
On closer inspection.
The man’s body was made of water.
Not flesh and blood. It was not a human body.
“Ah, this? The old man taught me. Pretty cool, eh?”
“What the hell are you…”
I didn’t even feel hostile towards him anymore.
The man laughed and picked up his severed silk hat. And then he bowed his head.
And like that, the two halves stuck together, and he returned to his original shape.
It was like he was some kind of doll made of water. Was he being controlled from some distant location?
“I am 7th of the Holy Grail of Dawn. Deep Aulegia of Hell. Nice to meet you, Mr. Yukito.”
“Holy Grail of Dawn…?”
“Yeah! Hey, why don’t you come and join us? We’re pretty relaxed, you know. The pay is good, and things aren’t taken so seriously. Besides, I’m sure you’ll be a leader in now time! What do you say?”
Say? What a question.
“Oh, is this a refusal? Well, I suppose it’s to be expected. You could hardly receive a more suspicious-sounding offer.”
“You really like to talk…”
“Well, it’s basically my only strong point!”
Only? I looked around, but it was no use. I sensed no other presence. How far away was he being controlled… Or was the person just that good at hiding?
Damn it. This is what I get for ignoring magic for so long.
I had been too confident. Thinking that I could get by with a sword alone.
But this was the reality. And there was nothing that I could do now.
“Well, I best be going then. Let’s meet again, Yukito. …Actually, I’m not sure I do want to meet you again. Seriously. Ah, but I’ll still root for you in the finals!”
Suddenly, a cane appeared in his hand, and he used it to tap the ground—and his body crumbled away and vanished.
Water splashed on the ground. Everything had turned into water, leaving only a puddle.
I watched for some time, but nothing happened after that.
Then I sighed and allowed myself to relax.
I looked down at the blood and corpse.
(Was the butterfly organization destroyed…?)
Had the others been killed in the same way?
Well, they had it coming, I suppose.
But it was just so sudden a way for things to end.
(What will Ms. Iria and the Count do now?)
In a way, they had lost their opportunity to get revenge.
…What if I had let Ms. Iria finish her goal back then.
I still stood by my decision. Had she continued, and killed him, it would have broken something inside of her.
But this… It was too…
I clenched my sword tightly.
Shit. My curses echoed while I stood in the stench of death.
(It is so hard to live without regret…)
You never knew what the right decision was.
I sighed deeply and left the scene behind me.