Chapter 84 of death flags, some action this time, I heard some of you were missing it 😀 This chapter was supposed to come out earlier but…. yeah, fast foods are not always a good idea. ><
By the way, this chapter was edited by Fordoom, who did an excellent job, as always!
For the patreons, chapter 85 and its preview are available over here!
Anyway, here is the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
As he watched the violent fight unfold, Harold was drilling his feet to the ground as they seemed like they were somehow going to rush out. “Still not here, huh?” Thought Harold impatiently, as he prayed for Liner’s safety while wishing he would be able to hold on a little longer.
It had been five years since Harold had last seen Liner fight, but in his present condition, Liner was still one step behind Lilium and Ventus. Rather, it was better to say that Liner was already doing well for being able to take on the two of them so far.
Even so, he could not win. The difference in ability between Liner and his opponents was gradually becoming clearer.
The reason Liner was somehow able to hold on was because both of his opponents had a short reach, due to Lilium’s fighting style, and to Ventus’ spear being broken.
Perhaps having seen that he could not win in close combat, he was focusing mostly on long-range attacks. This was a fancy way of fighting that could not have been expected from the reckless Liner of the game’s story. Harold knew that Liner was currently giving his everything.
However, Liner could not do anything more than that. It was possible for him to fight a good fight, but victory was out of his reach. He might have been the protagonist of the original story, but if he was too lacking, if he was too weak, then defeat was still the inevitable conclusion for him.
However, conversely, if his lack of ability could be dealt with, if he were strong enough, then he would be able to win; and Harold knew exactly what Liner needed for that.
That was why he had led her here. The piece that would help usher Liner to victory.
(Right on time!)
As if cutting through the heavy fog, she ―― Colette appeared and went to confront Lilium with perfect timing. Having confirmed that, Harold, who was still in hiding, tightly clenched his right hand.
When Liner thought he was done for, a voice that should not have been here reached his ears.
He heard a yell, a whoosh, and the sound of a metallic clank. It took Liner some time to understand what had happened.
Then, when he got a grasp on the situation, what followed was a feeling of astonishment.
【”Colette?! Why are you….”】
【”Liner, I came to help!”】
With a pair of tonfas on both of her arms, Colette had taken a stance in front of the duo of criminals without any sign of hesitation. From behind Colette, Liner could feel an overflowing determination that he had never seen before.
Apparently, using her tonfas, Colette had repelled the twin swords that were coming for Liner. While the opponents had taken barely any damage, they seemed to be vigilant due to Colette’s sudden appearance.
Using that chance, Liner started talking.
【”You came to help? But I thought you were afraid.”】
【”Yes, I was. And I still am.”】
【”But even more than that, I don’t want to lose you, Liner. So, even though I’m scared, I’ve decided to fight.”】
Though Colette’s voice was trembling a little, Liner could not feel any hesitation in her words.
【”Liner, you said you’d protect me, right?”】
What Colette was referring to was the promise Liner had made to her when the two of them had just met. When Liner had just met her, Colette was afraid of strangers, was very bad at making friends, and was always frightened by something or the other. Liner could not stand seeing her like that, and had therefore made that promise to cheer her up.
Yet, currently, Liner was the one who was being protected. That situation made him feel embarrassed and ashamed, hence why he had a hard time enunciating his short answer.
【”I’ve been depending too much on that promise. I knew you’d take care of protecting me if you were there, and I didn’t think of doing it myself… I’m sorry, Liner.”】(Colette)
Colette’s voice was still trembling, maybe out of fear of the enemies in front of her, or maybe it was out of regret from her past behavior.
Even so, in a loud voice, she made an oath.
【”Therefore, I’ll also protect you, Liner. Say goodbye to the old me who only depended on others!”】
Seeing her like that, Liner was bewildered, he wondered if this was really Colette.
Though she often showed a firm side to her when she warned Liner regarding his rash behavior, the real cause behind that was actually fear, a fear that came from wanting to avoid any reckless actions being taken. Colette had a personality that did not think well of change and danger.
Liner did not know the reason for that, but he figured it might have been related to the bygone days when she was young and had moved to the village after her life was put in danger.
She hoped to keep the peaceful status quo and she would always completely keep away from any sign of turbulence or danger. That was the girl called Colette that Liner knew.
Yet, she was now standing before the enemies, with weapons in her hands. Just like she had said, she was trying to protect Liner.
However, looking closely, her body was faintly shaking.
It’s only natural, thought Liner. Colette had also been taught how to fight alongside Liner by Liner’s parents for the sake of self-defense. She was praised as being quite talented, and indeed, she was certainly not lacking in talent and power. After Liner, she was likely the strongest person in the village.
However, her being able to show those capabilities in a real battle was another story. While Colette would show considerable strength in training and in friendly bouts, when it came to fighting monsters, her strength would decline and she would find herself unable to attack properly. Liner’s mother, Leona, had said that Colette’s fear of fighting, getting wounds or dying was acting as a limiter on her movements.
She was that fainthearted, and she could not possibly be unafraid of facing an enemy stronger than herself. Nevertheless, she had pushed her fear away and had come this far just to save Liner.
Power circulated everywhere through Liner’s body. He motivated himself by telling himself that he would not be a man if he did not stand up in this situation.
【”…… Then, I’ll leave my back to you.”】
【”And I’ll be protecting your back too!”】
Liner was still at a disadvantage in the battle.
However, strangely, just because Colette was next to him, he did not feel like losing at all. An uplifting sensation he hadn’t felt in a long time was welling up within him. The last time this happened was in his fight against Harold in the tournament.
With fleeting sidelong glances, Liner and Colette confirmed each other’s presence and nodded silently. Using that as a signal, Liner was the first one to dash ahead.
【”Dragon fire, Hiryu!”】
He once again fired a dragon-shaped flame. However, his attack was different from the one earlier for it was not aimed at the enemies.
He had aimed at the space between the two opponents. His fire dragon attacked right in the middle of said space. The criminals both evaded the attack, the dual sword wielder to the left, and the spear wielder to the right. Liner’s aim was to push them away from each other like so.
Not missing that chance, Colette and Liner went right after the dual-sword wielder, in a straight line.
The spear wielder’s weapon was broken and he was burdened with the task of carrying the stolen sword. As for the dual-wielder, he could still fight perfectly fine. Normally, one would likely aim for the former rather than the latter. But what Liner was thinking was that, if he and Colette could defeat the dual sword wielder, then it would be their win.
Looking only at the numbers, both sides were an equal match, with two people against two. However, both of the enemies were stronger than Colette and Liner, so attacking them directly would most likely only lead to defeat.
But by turning the situation into a two against one, they would be able to defeat the dual sword wielder first. Then, only the spear wielder would remain, he did have some power but his weapon was broken and his speed was inferior to Liner’s. So, in that turn of events, Liner would have a higher chance to take back his sword.
Liner’s sword flashed ahead in an attempt to hit the enemy right from the front. The opponent took a step back to dodge, but immediately after, Colette passed by Liner, approached closer while rotating on herself to raise her own speed, and swung her tonfas at that dual-sword wielder.
A shrill noise resounded. As they met with the enemy’s two swords, Colette’s tonfas were blocked.
However, in doing so, the dual sword wielder’s body was sent flying away. This was because, in addition to the attack’s power, the dual sword wielder had leaped behind to kill the attack’s momentum, having assessed that his weapons would be destroyed if he were to take that blow up-front.
While he was still in the air, the enemy could not possibly make use of his superior speed. To be done with the enemy’s evading tactics once and for all, Liner made use of his strongest attack, which he took pride in.
【”Heaven’s roar, Ten Shou Hoko!”】
The sword was swung at such a speed that it left an afterimage. Though the dual-sword wielders’ weapons were smashed up as a result, the real value of this attack came after.
The sword’s high-speed swing generated a shock wave akin to an actual roar that attacked the opponent. Unable to resist, the enemy was pushed back by the pressure, to then be blown away. At the end of his short flight, he hit his back on a rock and collapsed on the spot.
It seemed like he had passed out and it was unlikely that he would be getting back into the fight any time soon.
However, Liner had no time to take a breath of relief as Colette warned him with a sharp voice. A broken spear’s violent thrust was coming at him from behind.
With that speed, Liner instinctively realized that he could not avoid the attack. Moreover, he had a hard time figuring out the right timing to. That was when Colette came in.
Using her tonfas, she repelled the spike from the side and slightly deflected its trajectory. Together with a thunderous sound, the spike grazed Liner’s ear. However, without flinching from that attack, Liner took a step ahead to shorten the distance and took on the rear of the spear wielder.
【”I’ll be taking this back!”】
Due to the speed of his thrust which was evaded, the spear wielder’s balance was destroyed. Then, Liner took the box of his treasured sword which was hanging on the man’s back.
He felt its heavy weight in his hands. This was the proof that his parents, who were very strict when it came to swordsmanship, had acknowledged his growth. For Liner, that symbolic meaning was more important than the sword itself, and he could not surrender it.
That’s the reason why he absolutely wanted to get the sword back. Thus, the moment he recovered the sword, he was fatally careless.
The weight in his hands suddenly disappeared. It was too abrupt, so much so that Liner could not immediately understand what had just happened. He thought he had dropped it, but that was not it. He had not felt it fall, nor had he heard the sound of it dropping down.
Moreover, from behind him, he felt the pressure from someone who had not been here up to now as far as he knew.
Liner instantly turned his head around. There, was someone who was concealing his face and was dressed in a black robe similar to the robes of the spear wielder and dual sword user from before. No matter how one looked at him, that person seemed like the enemies’ comrade, and in his hands was the sword that Liner had taken back just some time ago.
【”Who, who are you? Give that back!”】
Although Liner took a stance and threatened him with his sword, the other party did not show any reaction. Rather, the man passed the sword to the spear wielder as if he had not heard anything. Thereupon, the spear wielder threw away his weapon, he carried the sword’s box and the dual-sword wielder who could still not move, and he escaped, vanishing within the valley’s thick fog.
Though Liner tried to chase after him, the third opponent was still standing in his and Colette’s way.
That same opponent slowly drew a sword that was sheathed by his waist, as if to show it off. It was a plain long sword that could likely be bought from any weapon shop.
However, to the two people facing him, the sword appeared like an extremely wicked and dangerous weapon. Liner realized that this was not due to the long sword but to the one holding it.
Without having to fight the duo, he had made them understand that he was on a whole other level. Not to mention Colette and Liner, even the two criminals they had been fighting earlier could not compare to the pressure released by the long-sword wielder.
(Can we win against him…?)
Liner could still feel that uplifting sensation from earlier in his body. However, even with that, he could not picture himself winning against the long-sword wielder at all.
Liner had sweat flowing out from his whole body, and at the moment he and Colette were pressured to the point of losing their nerves… The long sword wielder was already standing behind the two of them.
While they did not understand why he had done that, the duo promptly took some distance away from him.
However, even though their defense was full of gaps, the long sword wielder did not go after them to attack them, nor had he made any moves against their exposed backs before. It seemed like he was telling them that he could easily kill them whenever he wanted.
Such a difference in ability was not something that could easily be overcome. Liner could somehow bear with this using his fighting spirit which had almost ran out, but even so, feeling that his life was in a real crisis for the first time, he could not get his body to move as he wanted.
If he chose to survive, Liner would likely have no choice other than to escape. However, that would mean giving up on the sword, moreover, there was no guarantee that he would be able to run away either. Therefore, he made a bitter decision.
【”Colette, you have to run away.”】
【”What?! What about you?!”】
【”I’ll keep him busy.】
Liner had judged that the very best scenario would be if he managed to allow Colette to escape by herself. The problem was, how long would he be able to hold onto that opponent’s attention and delay him?
【”I can’t just leave you!”】
【”It’s fine, just run away already!”】
While the two friends quarreled, the long sword wielder who had been carefully watching the situation finally made a move.
His body soared into the air like it was being pulled by strings as he jumped backwards. Then, he got down on top of a rock, and he disappeared once again.
Thinking he was behind them again, the duo simultaneously looked over their shoulders, but there were no signs of the enemy there. As the two were getting perplexed over the enemy’s position, they started hearing several, consecutive noises of falling stones in their surroundings. The sounds showed no signs of settling down; rather, as they kept repeating over and over again, the intervals between them were getting shorter.
The visibility was certainly bad due to the thick fog, however, even if not for that, the enemy’s speed would still be too fast for Liner and Colette to follow with their eyes.
Indeed, this was just like the time Liner had fought against Harold.
For a moment, a thought crossed Liner’s mind. However, he immediately denied it.
There were no logical grounds for this denial. His judgement was simply based on emotions as he told himself that Harold would never do such a thing.
While that inner conflict occurred within Liner’s mind, he had completely lost sight of the man wielding the long sword. Then, the sound he had been continuously hearing stopped.
What replaced that sound was silence, a silence where even Liner’s own heartbeat felt like an obstruction. Liner and Colette concentrated all their senses in searching for any presence in their surroundings.
For dozens of seconds, it was overwhelmingly quiet.
But that calm was broken by the low sound of an impact that came from behind Liner. Out of a conditioned reflex, Liner and Colette looked behind toward that. Or rather, they had made the mistake of looking behind.
The origin of that sound was a pebble. It had likely collided with a rock as it feebly rolled towards Liner’s feet.
The moment Liner figured out he had just been caught, something else approached his back. But this time, it was a sign of death. While feeling regret, Liner prepared himself to die.
Then, when it seemed like the sword was going to attack Liner and cut his life short, a sharp sound assaulted his ear as he heard a low groan, and――
【”Know your place, small fish.”】
Liner heard a certain voice. The voice had a lower tone than in his memory, but it still felt nostalgic.
He did not understand what had happened as he could only look at the back of the man who was standing before him and Colette to protect them.
The man was taller than Liner, at a height of about 180 centimeters (5’11”). He had black hair that was clearly visible within the white fog and he was holding two swords in both of his hands.
【”How dare the likes of you get in my damn way!”】
But the most distinguishing feature above all was those sharp words that looked down on others from far too high.
It had been a long time since that day, and Liner had been continuously chasing after him for just as long. This was the back of Liner’s friend, rival, and objective.
Translator’s note: The “uplifting sensation” is actually a skill or like, a rage mode, that Harold has mentioned before. Same happened to Francis before actually.
Also, next chapter, we’ll be back to Harold’s POV at last!
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