Chapter 101: The Story of the Rat
「A surprise attack by using the shadow of your allies as shields. Moreover, a surprise attack led by a decoy of my niece. No, in fact, it is surprising that a human managed to come this far. I admire you.」
It was not sarcasm. I noticed from his mouth’s movement that he was sincerely impressed. Lagias’ voice felt a little too relaxed for my taste, as we all stood in a very desperate situation.
That attitude irritated me from the depths of my chest.
「I thank you for that. I couldn’t think of any other way to win this war. But, you seem to be quite confident, aren’t you. I envy that aspect of yours.」
I shrugged my shoulders when I spoke. I was the one who came up with this idea and not Eldith. But, I didn’t care nor did I want credit for coming up with this strategy. She actually came here with some of her soldiers in order to help me.
Of course, I was grateful. Without her support, I would have been dead by now as Lagias’ elite soldiers were too resilient. This underground passage could have become my grave.
「If you want to play for the sake of your sore feet, then let’s play. But, if you’re willing to step over the line, then you must be prepared to accept the final moments of your life.」
Unlike me, who couldn’t speak that freely, Lagias sure had a freedom of speech. He spoke whatever he had on his head. I did not know if his confidence was just a resignation to accept his fate, or if he had a hidden trump card somewhere.
「…Uncle. I want you to tell me just one thing.」
「It’s been a few years since I met you face-to-face like this, my niece. Okay then, since I am no longer avoiding you. I shall answer your question.」
Eldith, who had decided on something, spoke suddenly, and Lagias, who stood there, exchanged some words. Her voice was low, and I could hardly hear her. Either way, I thought that I wasn’t meant to interfere with her anyways.
The conversation between the uncle and niece was probably the first time in a long time. When I asked Eldith if she was okay, she shook her head and replied.
「…Nothing. It’s nothing. It’s really nothing, Lugis.」
The voice of the Eldith’s illusion echoed next to me.
I blinked my eyes as I listened to her words. Her response was rather strong. Yes, Eldith’s voice sounded tense and unwavering.
There was no doubt that something intricate shadowed her own heart. She must have a strong grudge against Lagias. After all, Lagias was the uncle who murdered her father and seized the position of Fin. Besides, Eldith’s uncle trapped her in the Tower for many years.
I see. Her expression was somewhat calm, but her inner heart felt completely different. I bet her viscera boiled as fire. I had no doubt that she probably wanted to grab Lagias’ neck and exterminate him immediately.
I knew that Eldith didn’t want to talk to Lagias anymore. But if she decided to speak, then it was her choice. I would not stop her. However, I could see her blue eyes narrowing as her front teeth bit her lips.
Therefore, I took a step forward and stood in front of the old elf instead.
「Fin Lagias. Or do you have a different name, old man… 」
「…I don’t have a different name. I…yes, I am Lagias. I am myself and no one else.」
I could see the movement of the old elf’s wrinkles. He even moved his cheeks slightly. His eyes were old but their reflection did not lose their brilliance.
「I see. So you are the human called Lugis who pushed Eldith my niece into action.」
「Yeah, but I didn’t do that much. I am just a random rat. Too bad old man. If you faced against a hero, he would have spared you. But I’m not here to spare your life as I’m not a hero.」
I thought so, sincerely. Was not the rule of a hero to negotiate first and, if necessary, ally with the former mighty enemy for a good cause?
I was a lowly being, so I couldn’t do that. My body did not have that kind of forgiveness nor compassion.
There’s no way that I would spell some hero’s words, or do a hero’s actions. That’s why I was no hero, but a mere rat. I raised the treasure sword above my head and held it firmly with my left hand. In front of my blade stood my target, the old elf. I had a clear and murderous intention.
I shall kill this heroic masterpiece. Right now.
Lagias muttered upon seeing my stance. I noticed that his expression changed from a calm-looking one to a mysterious one.
「…Don’t make a fool of me, kid. 」
I quivered my eyes involuntarily. The tone had changed considerably from a playful tone to a more serious tone.
I felt as if the color of his words gained the original weight. Perhaps, this hard-sounding voice was his real voice, not the playful one.
「I’m not making a fool of you, in fact, I have a lot of respect for you.」
I did not feel like arguing with him anymore. All I had to do was focus. Everything came down to my blade and myself. The civil war in Ghazalia, Eldith’s fate and the life of the old elf were in my hands right now.
「It is a shame that you lack awareness, human Lugis.」
Lagias’ plain words echoed in the underground passage. The tone was serious, but at the same time, relaxed. It was as if he had no interest nor fear in the sword pointed at him.
「Lugis, you have cornered me here, and now you are even trying to take my life with that blade. You loathe yourself as a mere rat…Let me say this again. Don’t make a fool of me, kid.」
His voice showed an unmistakable quiet indignation. Lagias’ eyebrows raised, and his eyes intensified with clear anger.
Those words made me open my eyes wide. To be honest, I was prepared for any kind of abusive and miscellaneous words. I was getting used to my curse as a rat.
However, those were unexpected words. I just couldn’t understand what Lagias was saying to me. The tip of my sword supported by my left hand began to tremble.
「I have to say this, I have never thought of myself as an ordinary elf. Just look at me, I’m the usurper of Ghazalia, the big villain who trampled on the tradition of the Elves. It is me. And now, look at you. At this precise moment, you are trying to destroy me. That intention is clear. And your path is known. You have to trample on my own corpse and use it as a stepping-stone in order to move forward.」
Lagias’ dead branch-like fingertips pointed to Eldith’s soldiers, the ones who died and fell on the stone pavement.
Ah, I didn’t want to hear his words anymore. He was joking with me. I truly didn’t want those words to reach my ears. Nonetheless.
「The same is true for the soldiers who shielded you. The same is true for the opponents you’ve won against. You are here with everything you’ve got as you put your life on the line. That’s the trigger of your success so far. Listen, Lugis. My enemy. You are no longer in the muddy path. It means that you are no longer a rat.」
Brilliant eyes were shinning under his wrinkled eyelids. Those eyes were glittering as if his will had never disappeared, even on the verge of death.
My heart swayed. A slight pain ran on my skin as if a thorn pierced me. I felt that some tension and excitement circled throughout the whole body along with the blood flow.
「That’s quite a statement. Based on your words, what do you want me to do, old man?」
I spoke with a teeth grinding. Lagias laughed upon hearing my words. Odd. He looked at me with a real, full smile. Yes, full of a strange charm. This elf named Lagias was an enigma.
「You must kill the rat in you. Just strangle it. And then, face me, hero. That is the duty of a winner. Just come, don’t hesitate, as the destination of your path cannot be undone now.」
Hero. Did Lagias just call me that?
He was said to be a truly heroic masterpiece, and yet, he was describing me as a hero, when I was just a mediocre little rat.
Somehow, my cheeks were greatly distorted. The emotions that surged in my heart were different from joy. However, nor they were fear nor astonishment. In fact, all of these emotions melted into each other, and consumed my heart.
However, even if my emotions were out of control, Lagias’ words remained exact in my ears like a permanent curse.
「…I’ll keep that in mind. Well then. Fin Lagias, the King of Elves. See you on the other side.」
This must have been the first time that both Lagias and I exchanged words with one another, not only in this era, but also in the past.
However, I felt a strange and mysterious lightness. I did not know the meaning or the reason why I felt this way. However, it was certain that there was a strange empathy between Lagias and me.
「…Yeah, see you again, Lugis. My enemy, the great human hero.」
At the end of those words, I shook my left arm against the old elf without any hesitation. I did it as the last courtesy against this almighty elf.
Again, a reddish black blood soared in the underground passage.
The death of Fin Lagias, the usurper of Ghazalia.
Not many saw his last moments, his last breath, and his death. However, his death was not a vain death. Rather, his death marked a starting point, as the pace of history began to speed up.
The civil war in Ghazalia had ended. Nevertheless, one could say that this moment was only a short break until the next war.
There was no peace yet. This event was only a stepping-stone to the next beginning.
Many rumors surrounded Lagias’ death, but there was only one true thing that remained intact. The truth about the one who brought Lagias to his death at the end.
…The only true one. The story of the rat ends here. That is all.
Vol.5 COMPLETE! Thank you for reading!!!
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