Chapter 92: Shame and the Hero’s Shadow
At that time, the voice of the Saint woman echoed throughout the battlefield. The shining light of Valianne’s sword quivered for a moment, and she delayed her fatal strike against me.
For the first time… For the very first time, I saw a gap between this woman called Valianne and me. This gap could only last one breath. Moreover, my sword was blown away, and I didn’t have any other weapons.
Still, I had enough. Yes, I had no weapon, but I had enough to strike her back. On the battlefield, even a tiny gap would be as valuable as gold to the soldier.
「…Ohh…Ohh, ohhhhh! 」
I let out a barbaric voice that tore off the nerves and ripped muscles.
I twisted my injured body and moved my shoulders upwards. I tried to shake my whole body to gain momentum, and I forcibly slammed my right arm into Valianne’s throat. I thought that I had no strength left. Yet, I still managed to use my hand to beat the enemy. For a moment, my ears caught a very unpleasant sound.
There was no way that somebody would lose his or her arms like this. I certainly wouldn’t. However, I was going to die if I didn’t do anything. Therefore, I ended up using my body as a weapon.
I gripped her throat with all the strength I had left. It felt as if the meat blended with the tip of my fingers. Moreover, the heat from her throat made my fingers react in a weird way. This reaction reached my brain through the right hand inside of Valianne’s throat.
At the end of my line of sight, I could see the silhouette of my fingers piercing through Valianne’s throat with my bones and nails. I felt a distorted sensation in my right hand as if a heart was pulsating inside.
I was the worst. This was not even a worthy technique nor attack. Was this method even honorable to begin with? Wasn’t this lowly way the action of a brown rat from the sewers at the back road?
In front of me stood a shocked-looking Valianne. Her face showed signs of distress. She raised her hands and held her throat. She spitted blood from her mouth, while touching her throat.
Her esophagus was probably damaged. She should be in great pain even with just breathing.
Why did she end up on this path? Would this path be an easier one?
When I realized that, I looked attentively at Valianne. This was the first time I came face-to-face with her. Last time, I was hiding beneath the bed sheet. On top of that, I never even had a proper conversation with her. In fact, I didn’t know anything about her.
Even so, I could understand something about her by looking at the still-undisturbed light of her eyes. This woman was here for something big. She came to the battlefield in order to grab something.
Then, I realized that I still had my rusty knife in my pocket. I took it out with my left hand. I saw Valianne clenching her teeth, shaking her body, and dripping blood from her lips.
She was still alive. Actually, it would be foolish to die here and now, but she would not even admit defeat. I, as her enemy, pierced her throat with my fingers, and yet, the light in her eyes did not disappear.
I didn’t know her personally. And I probably never will. I didn’t understand why she fought and betrayed us. However, it was a rude act to be worried about this now. I had so save myself, but also end her pain forever.
Therefore, I shall kill her here and now.
Her neck was already injured and bloodied. So, all I had to do was slash it with a knife. I must end Valianne’s life, whatever the reason she had. Yes, I must kill her as part of the courtesy of the battlefield.
With my left hand, I slowly lifted the knife. Strange and heavy. This was probably the first time that I felt a knife this heavy.
Then, as it was, I moved the knife towards the muscles of Valianne’s neck. I stabbed the rusty blade on her flesh and forcibly gouged the cervical spine.
I pulled my knife out, and saw that flesh, tendons, nerves and bones were gouged out along with the tip of my blade.
The blood flowing from her wound was in fact black. However, I no longer knew what I was doing. However, on this very moment, I felt pain as if something bit by my fingers stuck in Valianne’s throat.
…Valianne’s eyes seemed to be staring at something else, not me, until the very last moment before she lost her light.
When her body lost strength and became heavy, I had the feeling that somehow the felling of ecstasy stroked deep inside of her chest.
I didn’t understand her. I didn’t know anything about the elf standing in front of me. Whether she completed her quest or not. I didn’t know much about her way of life or her willpower.
But, I thought deeply then. I muttered deep inside of my chest. I behaved like none other than the old Filaret from the Journey of Salvation.
She would not have died if I was the hero named Helot Stanley.
If he was the hero standing here today, he surely would know how to save everybody, even a traitor. With his strength, he might have reached out to her in order to gain a great vassal. Rather, this woman may not even betray him. Unlike myself.
In the end, all this was just my assumption. After all, I was the one who was here, and not Helot Stanley. And even if he were here, there was no way to know what he’ll do. However, at the bottom of my guts, I felt as if my assumptions were indeed true.
After all, I was neither a hero nor brave.
「…Thanks Saint. I thought I was going to die alone at the end. Well, it looks like I escaped death again.」
I heard footsteps coming from behind my back. I saw the figure of Saint Matia, who screamed moments ago. Yeah, this was a battlefield. This was no time for me to show them my grievances and speak of an unsatisfactory result.
Therefore, I tried to show her a great moment, and managed to express it through words.
「…Eh, so you only appreciate the Saint’s help, huh. I didn’t know that you took her in such high regard. And did you say that you thought you were going to die alone? What’s wrong with death itself?」
On this moment, I heard Filaret’s voice in my ears, which contained a voluminous amount of unstable emotions. I couldn’t understand if her intentions were good or bad. But, she was apparently in a bad mood. Besides, I felt that she invoked some of her magical power when she professed those words to me. She was indeed angry.
Well, I see. I felt an unpleasant sweat crawling over my forehead.
I tried to be careful with my hidden feelings, but it seemed that I only did worse.
「You are a bottomless fool. If you want to see the bottom of hell, then do it yourself. Don’t you dare drag other people to your downfall.」
Caria spoke with sharp lips, and continued; 「I won’t do it next time. 」.
For the first time in a while, I felt that those piercing silvery eyes had penetrated my body as if they were needles. Yes, I felt as if the core of my body became cold.
However, even if I turned my eyes away from Caria’s gaze, I noticed that some black eyes were staring fiercely at me as well. I was surrounded by complete madness.
Whether it was Caria or Filaret, both of them were a force that I wouldn’t want to encounter in a battlefield. However, the way they were behaving this time around. Were they showing their real face now? Was this the beginning of what happened in my previous life? Were they finally starting to hate me to the point of killing me inside as they did once before? Was I paranoid or frightened at their sudden change in behavior? Or was it another kind of emotion that was emerging in their hearts?
「Ah, well. I was honest with you. I’m really thankful that you guys came here to save me. I didn’t come here to my downfall. I don’t want to die, you know. I was just trying to survive.」
「Is that so? I wonder about that. I feel like there is absolutely no truth in your words. But, if that’s true, then don’t vanish suddenly like that. And you shouldn’t engage in dangerous fights anymore. Got that?」
Why were they behaving like demons against me?
Filaret’s words were quite intense and made me forget the battlefield for a short moment. I didn’t know what to say anymore. Every time I tried to explain something, both of them would literally reply with icy words. I was like a pawn in the middle of these two women. No matter where I looked, I could feel their piercing gaze following me. It felt so strange.
Of course, we were still in the middle of a battlefield. We had this dumb conversation during a short gap.
The heraldic knights were strong enough to fight with their physical strength. Moreover, they were far more experienced in battles. Therefore, there was an obvious difference between our soldiers and the enemy’s soldiers, because it had been a long while since the elves engaged in a fight like this.
The soldiers from Valianne’s special unit lost their momentum with their general’s downfall. The heraldic knights and Eldith’s soldiers pulled forward without hesitation. Even so, our number was overwhelmingly inferior in comparison with the rest of Lagias’ soldiers.
Every single attack was crucial, and the end was probably near.
However, we didn’t know what the enemy could do as a last resort. Valianne’s remaining soldiers could be used as decoys in order to fully prepare Lagias’ main squad. Although the heraldic knights were strong, their numbers were far less than the enemy’s elven soldiers were. The final assault could determine the outcome of this battle.
In addition to that, the enemy side was willing to push the battle to its limits. Their momentum was too intense. I didn’t think we were here for a long-term battle.
I didn’t know what to expect anymore. I thought that time was on the enemy’s side, but since then, we managed to overcome some of the obstacles along the way. Besides, this was a battle and some hidden circumstances could be lurking around somewhere.
「So, what are we going to do? 」
Matia spoke after mine and the girls exchanged heated words. As usual, her voice resonated in my ears quite smoothly. However, every single one of us began to ponder about that question. And none gave her an answer. Matia opened her lips slightly then.
「We don’t have much time left. This is the turning point. Should we be prepared to step on thin ice, or should we wait? What should we do to benefit our odds in the battle? Now is the time to decide.」
Matia’s reasoning was spot on. The grace of choice was given to us now. Our judgment could decide everything. Our choices could end this battle. It could also end the existence of the species called Elves.
We had to make a decision now. Should we go or not? Even if we avoided a decision, the time will come for us to act by force. Therefore, now was the time.
「So, what is your judgement as our leader, Lady Saint?」
I shook my lips in order to profess those words. I noticed that Matia sharpened her gaze for a moment. Maybe I should not have asked that question, since she was the one who asked us a question first. My words could have been too heavy; but I wanted to know what was on her mind. Was it something light? Or was she harboring some resentment?
「…Lugis. What is your opinion? I want to hear it, so that we won’t do anything impulsively because of bad wisdom.」
Those words surprised me a little.
Matia hated me. I knew that very well since we came to Ghazalia. Well, why did she want to hear my opinion? I involuntarily moved my neck. Matia noticed my confusion, and continued to speak.
「I don’t have any deep meaning in asking for your opinion. But you have a lot of experience. I just want to hear your opinion on this matter so that I can make a proper judgment. That’s just it, yes…So, let me hear about it.」
The Saint woman spoke abruptly and gazed attentively at my eyes. I felt a strange force in her eyes as she kept staring fixedly at me. I wondered what was this all about.
However, trust or not; it was still an honor to get some recognition from her. Up until now, she never took me seriously, and my words didn’t have any special meaning to her. So, what changed now? Was it necessary to ask my opinion? Did she mean that? I didn’t know for sure, but it was an extraordinary honor. She could have ulterior motives, who knows. Or maybe she had a change of heart. It was indeed confusing. And I really didn’t know what to think. Would my words make sense to her?
I slowly touched my chin as I pondered deeply before opening my mouth.
「Of course, we have no choice but to go forward. That’s why we came here in the first place. At least, that’s what I feel. This is my opinion.」
Yes charge forward!!!!!!!!!
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