Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu Vol 7 Chapter 5
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Belto Village, a small village in East Estabul, was where the Alpha Stigma bearer was said to have appeared .
Claugh Klom lead an army to just outside the village .
He had fiery red hair and sharp eyes, and his trained body wore Roland’s military uniform .
He had all sorts of t.i.tle .
Marshal of the Roland Empire, Crimson-Fingered Claugh Klom . One hundred thousand soldiers moved when he gave the signal . His army had a bit of an odd composition . Two different uniforms were among their ranks - elite soldiers from Roland, and elite soldiers from Estabul under Bayuz’s command .
Claugh looked around and shrugged . “Up until now, this kinda commotion would’ve meant another war between Roland and Estabul,” he mumbled to himself .
There was still open hostility between the two factions, to the point where it looked like someone would come out with broken bones .
And on top of that…
Claugh looked to the man who’d gathered these Estabulian soldiers up, Bayuz White . He looked to be Claugh’s age - twenty-five - and wore his brown hair in cornrows . He had wrinkles between his eyebrows and his mouth was curved in cynicism as he stared at Claugh with open distaste .
“Is this what you wanted?” Bayuz asked . “We can fight you any time . It’s no problem for us to crush you brainless Rolanders . ”
Shuss s.h.i.+raz, one of Claugh’s subordinates, looked upset . He had blond hair and vaguely green eyes, and he wasn’t tall by any means . He was around eighteen years old . But despite his age, he’d followed Claugh to many battlefields with unmatched loyalty, calmly collecting and a.n.a.lyzing information about the battlefield for him . Though he did tend to get a bit too serious when problems came up…
Shuss glared straight at Bayuz . “I’ve played nice on Marshal Klom’s orders, but if you say another derogatory word—”
“What’ll you do about it?” Bayuz asked with a smirk .
“Whoa, hey, Shuss,” Claugh said . “Don’t worry about him . He’s just tired . ”
Bayuz ignored him . “Hmm? What’ll you do if I keep at it, huh? Punch me? Not now that he’s said that, eh? I guess subordinates will always be subordinates . There’s no thing as equals who’d risk their lives for each other… no matter how dumb of a saying it is, it does hold true . ”
Bayuz’s smirk didn’t fade . “C’mon, punch me . Even if you do, it won’t matter . You Rolanders don’t have the same mental capacity, and you’re so quick to violence when you can’t find your words . ”
“I don’t want to hear any more—”
“Your powerless failure of a marshal came all the way over here to Estabul to get in our way and—”
“You f.u.c.ker! Estabul’s below u—”
Claugh struck Shuss’ face . He fell to his knees with a thud .
What Shuss had started to say was the absolute worst case scenario . Those words were absolutely forbidden here and now .
But it was something that everyone thought over in Roland .
But here in Estabul, they thought the opposite .
They couldn’t say that they were better than them . Because the long history of countless wars between them wouldn’t vanish like it’d never happened .
Their countries had taken everything from each other - families, friends, lovers . They’d all been killed in the Roland-Estabul wars .
They couldn’t become best friends overnight, even if Roland had annexed Estabul . It really wouldn’t be strange at all for hostilities to start back up . So if Shuss had finished his sentence… this army would turn into a battlefield . That was the worst case scenario . So Claugh hit Shuss to stop him before he could say it .
Even so, both Roland and Estabul’s armies had surrounded them .
“…Geez,” Claugh muttered . He looked over at Bayuz, who was staring dumbfounded, like he’d finally realized what almost happened . Then he looked down to Shuss on the ground .
Blood was dripping from his lip, but he was smiling .
“Shuss!” Claugh yelled . “One more derogatory word about Estabul and you’re fired!”
“No ‘but’s!” Claugh yelled back, biting back a smile of his own, and gave Shuss a kick for good measure . He didn’t put all that much power into it, but Shuss went flying anyway… then fell back against the ground .
“Augh, ghh… s, sorry, Your Excellency Marshal Claugh Klom…”
Everyone went quiet for a moment before getting lively .
Everything that just happened was a scenario that Shuss wrote up .
Bayuz could make fun of Roland all he wanted, but with just one bad word about Estabul, Shuss was. .h.i.t again and again .
That’s what everyone there saw .
In reality, Bayuz was intentionally provoking them to see if they could trust Roland… but maybe Shuss was going a bit too hard on trying to prove it…
But what mattered was how the soldiers saw it . They’d see Claugh legitimately respecting Estabul and treating their soldiers just like Roland’s .
Things soon got quiet again . It wasn’t perfect, but he’d managed to get some control over the army here .
Bayuz sneered . “Hmph . Your subordinate’s just as unlikable as you are,” he said quietly .
Claugh laughed . “Is that praise?”
Bayuz went out of his way to make as hateful of an expression as possible . “I’d rather die than like anything about you,” he said, his voice itself seeming to writhe in agony .
Apparently it was praise!
“Anyway, it’s thanks to you noticing that it was all an act halfway through that it went so well,” Claugh said .
“Of course,” Bayuz said . “I deserve all of the credit . ”
“You definitely don’t!”
“…Hmph . I have to admit, that Shuss guy’s not bad . Not bad at all for a Rolander . ”
“Ooh, does that mean you’re gonna cooperate with—”
“However, Claugh Klom . I have nothing good to say about you! To be frank, you’re just a nuisance! A real nuisance of a man!”
“A nuisance of a man? Don’t tell me you’re gonna lecture me for whacking Shuss…”
“You hit your subordinates and are seducing our G.o.ddess Noa! You’re cancer to the relations.h.i.+p between Roland and Estabul . Hurry up and die . ”
Claugh held his head in his hand . In the end, Bayuz had absolutely no intention of being friendly with a guy that Noa was on good terms with . Claugh began to wonder if maybe it was a mistake to send him to Estabul after all . . .
Like, wouldn’t it have gone a lot better if Calne tried talking to Bayuz and joining their armies instead?
“Yeah right,” he muttered . His expression stiffened, and turned towards the village, then to the sky just above it . “This isn’t the time to be sayin’ that stuff . ”
There was a sickening amount of birds flying over the village . It was a sight that he’d seen time and time again .
Carrion birds always flocked above battlefields . They were after the bodies .
“They said that the village was wiped out,” Bayuz said .
“Was this really because of an Alpha Stigma bearer?”
“According to those who have encountered him and survived, he has black hair, black clothes, and a scarlet symbol in the center of his black eyes . ”
A scarlet symbol in their eyes . It was proof that they were a cursed people . Proof that they were Alpha Stigma bearers, feared and loathed by all . And this particular Alpha Stigma bearer… was a cannibal . He ate all of the people of Belto village alive…
“So is the monster still there in the village?” Claugh asked .
“Who knows . But he eats people . If he’s still there, it’s probably just to wait for his next prey . ”
His next prey . By that he meant the army coming to subdue him . A normal Alpha Stigma bearer could be killed with a whole troop . But this one wasn’t scared of it in the slightest .
Claugh stared at the village, rubbing his left arm . It was covered in red tattoos of magic circles . Without them, it wouldn’t be able to move anymore thanks to his old injury - that Alpha Stigma bearer had ripped it clean off . All Claugh could do back then was scream and cry while he s.h.i.+vered in fear and tried to escape .
“So what’ll we do?” Claugh asked Bayuz . “He’s awoken… so maybe I ought to show him the power of Roland’s great marshal?” He turned to the village with a smile on his face .
But he felt his smile stiffen as he continued . “We’ll burn the village down, Shuss . And get everyone into position . We’ll take the monster down as fast as we can . ”
He felt that monster’s words echo in his head as he spoke .
Ah… I wonder if your arm tastes as good as it looks?
Then came the sound of his bones snapping, of his flesh tearing .
“…I’ll kill you,” Claugh mumbled .
He’d kill that monster, he thought as he glared in the direction of the village .
Fire ran through the village . It scared the carrion birds away .
The village was in a horrible state, half-eaten bodies strewn everywhere . The culprit had indiscriminately killed everyone - women and children were among the victims .
They’d send a scout out before setting the village aflame to verify the presence of any survivors, but… just looking at it had been enough . There was no one that anyone could have survived what had gone on there . It just wasn’t a big enough village .
It was easy enough for a monster of that caliber to kill absolutely everyone, anyway . He had no reason to go out of the way to leave someone alive . So their strategy was simple: burn the village . Claugh had brought ten groups of eight soldiers each to circle the village, lying in wait for the Alpha Stigma bearer . Seven people had started large-scale magic, awaiting his arrival, and the last in his troop moved to convey this to the others .
This wouldn’t be a hot pursuit . They’d fire their large-scale magic and retreat, and then he’d have one hundred soldiers surround the monster .
It was simple as far as tactics went . But it should work .
No matter how strong that monster may be, he couldn’t fight an army of one hundred soldiers, especially not such well-trained ones as what Claugh was sending .
They were only fighting one opponent .
They’d win .
That’s what he thought .
Claugh fully intended on getting out of this without sacrificing anyone .
It’d be different from last time .
The village was aflame, and the fire was only growing stronger by the minute .
Claugh was ready to move . He was currently with twenty other soldiers, and he’d never sit in a place like this .
Their target would likely try to kill a few people and then escape . Then they’d stop him and kill him .
No, wait . That monster was super confident in his ability . Maybe he would go to an area with a higher concentration of soldiers?Advertis.e.m.e.nt
Anyway, it was about time . If he was here, then…
“…He’s not coming,” Bayuz said from his side . “He must have already left the are—”
Bayuz stopped .
A black shadow had appeared among the flames .
A lone man stepped out of the flaming village calmly .
He had black hair, and black clothes that very much resembled the clothes of the faithful in the Runa Empire - it was like a clergyman’s uniform, dyed pitch black . But his skin was an unhealthy pale .
He was the exact same as Claugh remembered him .
He appeared to be in his mid-twenties, just like how he had been then . He hadn’t aged in the slightest . He was in every way the exact same as how he’d been that day .
He was smiling like he was happy about something as he looked straight at Claugh . Blood dripped from his lips, and his hand… held the remains of a half-eaten human being…
Claugh’s subordinates screamed at the sight .
Even Shuss and Bayuz groaned .
But Claugh just smiled .
“Stay calm! Don’t get out of position! Start the large-scale magic!”
Claugh could finally kill him .
Two ma.s.sive lights appeared behind Claugh . They were normally spells saved for war - they took time to cast, and their murderous potential was striking . They could destroy one single human would destroy them without a trace .
The man looked at the lights . His carefree smile didn’t waver in the slightest .
“I’ll wipe that smile off your face,” Claugh said .
The magic was complete .
The spells fired straight for him .
The spells soon disappeared .
Claugh didn’t understand it .
The man was still smiling . He tossed the half-eaten remains of a person away… and leapt towards him, jumping amazingly fast . He flew right above Claugh, landing among the soldiers below him…
A strange sound echoed through the village .
Claugh turned around as quickly as he could . When he did, he saw the man holding two soldiers’ heads, one in each hand . The sound had been their necks snapping .
“Heheh… Humans are so fragile . ”
It was that voice . That same voice, with blood spurting up into the air just as it had then .
Claugh and the other soldiers stood frozen for a moment .
“One more time! We need to deal with him!” Claugh yelled .
But they couldn’t make it in time . Another head soared through the air . The man raised his arm up again… but the soldiers finally moved . Those gathered here were too well-trained to lose their minds over the deaths of a couple of their allies during a battle .
They’d gathered a magnificent force to fight this one man . No matter how eerie he may be, he was still just one person . The army had surrounded him and were repeating the incantation for their spells .
So Claugh rushed towards him .
“I’ll watch your back,” Bayuz said from behind . “Go end him . ”
With that, Bayuz began to draw letters in the open air . It was Estabul’s magic . He cast it faster than Roland’s soldiers and faster than Estabul’s soldiers .
“Tch . You’re actually pretty trustworthy, aren’t ya?” Claugh asked, smiling bitterly .
The man noticed Claugh approaching and watched him . “You’re fast . Heh, heheheh . I like a lively hunk of meat—”
He paused, then made a face like he just realized something .
“—You,” he said, staring right at Claugh’s face . Then he smiled . “Ah . You’ve grown to look so delicious . ”
This was the best .
That’s what Claugh thought .
“So you’ve got the nerve to remember me! I’ll make you regret not killing me back then!”
Claugh waved his right arm, the very arm that man had eaten off back then . When he did, the magic circles tattooed onto him began to glow .
He could do this . He could kill him . There was absolutely no way for him to dodge this .
And on top of Claugh’s attack, there was that power waiting behind him .
“You can’t escape!” Shuss yelled and threw a knife .
“Whoa there,” the man said, dodging the knife easily . But then he paused . The distance between him and Claugh was shrinking into nothing .
Claugh reached out to grip him with one hand while raising the other arm high to attack with his hand, hard and sharp like a blade . That hand was always soaked with his enemies’ blood, giving him the nickname Crimson-Fingered Claugh Klom .
The man was surprised, and jumped back with speed past what a human could reasonably do . He seemed to dance as he dodged Claugh, moving ever farther back…
“You can’t escape this way . I dedicate the words of our contract - fire the beast of light dancing within the heavens!”
A great beast of light formed above Bayuz’s head . Then it shot in the direction that the man was trying to escape to .
He didn’t have anywhere to run now . Claugh was attacking him from the front, Bayuz’s magic from the back . So the man stopped in his tracks .
“…This is for what you did to my allies,” Claugh said . “Die . ”
But the moment he swung his arm, the man laughed . “You’re the one who’s done for . ”
The man opened his black eyes wide in the face of defeat . When he did, a scarlet cross appeared in their depths . It shone brightly . And when it did… Bayuz’s magic was sucked into them .
“I devour power…”
The man sped up to the point that Claugh couldn’t see him move .
“…and use it as my own . ”
Claugh felt a sensation like his arm moving . But it was so fast that he couldn’t see what had happened, much less react .
Then the man drew away . He held Claugh’s tattooed arm in his hand . He rose it up high…
That was all Claugh could say . His whole arm had been ripped from his shoulder . What just…?
Blood was pouring out…
“S-Sir Claugh!?” Shuss screamed .
“Tch . This is bad,” Bayuz said . But his concern was soon drowned out by the rest of the army .
“C-Crimson-Fingered Claugh is…”
“What the h.e.l.l is wrong with this guy…?”
A commotion was rising up within the army . This was bad . The army would lose their coherency without their commanding officer . And that wasn’t all . Seeing Crimson-Fingered Claugh Klom get hurt like this was absolutely wrecked their morale, painting it over with despair .
“You thought you could win?” The man asked . “You foolish livestock . You really thought you could kill your predator?”
He sunk his teeth into Claugh’s arm like it was a delicious treat…
That was it .
“Th, this is impossible… we can’t win against a monster like this!”
“Quiet!” Bayuz yelled . “Stay calm and take him out!”
But his command fell on deaf ears . The soldiers were already scattering in the directions they felt best to flee to .
The man… no, the human-eating monster, groaned as he ate Claugh’s arm . “Ahh, aahh… I’m so, so glad that I saved this for later . It’s amazing . There’s so much power flowing through it . I could just… I could just…” He faltered his in his mumbling . It all came like he was intoxicated off of Claugh’s arm . “I could just kill everyone here…”
The monster moved . But Claugh didn’t . Because the damage to his shoulder was too severe . He wouldn’t be able to stand at all if Shuss weren’t supporting him now, trying to pull him away from that monster .
“Gh… s.h.i.+t, Sh-Shuss…”
Shuss didn’t spare him a glance . He just focused on getting them out . “Y-you need medical care now . I’ll definitely save you . I definitely won’t let you die . ”
But he was going to die . Claugh already understood that . Shuss would die, too . Because he couldn’t escape while helping Claugh like this . The two of them would die here . But if Claugh stayed here… if he stayed here and let that monster eat him, then the rest of the soldiers might be able to escape . He couldn’t run away knowing that . “Let go… Shuss—”
“I’m not listening to your orders now!”
Claugh grimaced .
This was the kind of person Shuss was - he was too serious, too honest, and from time to time made a decision that ran contrary to Claugh’s .
Claugh really liked him . He was a great subordinate . No, a great friend .
Sion would be fine even if Claugh died here . Even if he didn’t have Claugh, he’d have Shuss, Miller, Luke, Calne… Even Bayuz was a pretty good guy .
There were plenty of other guys who could do his job in his place . And all the soldiers here - soldiers of Roland and soldiers of Estabul - were people that Roland needed for its future . He needed as many of them to get away as possible . That monster would attack as many people as he could, and there was no way Claugh could let him do that .
Claugh used all the power he could muster to move his remaining arm to shove Shuss off and onto the ground .
“Wh… Sir! What are you…”
Claugh ignored him, turning to face the monster instead . “H-Hey, monster! I bet my flesh was real tasty! Don’t go fooling around with others! Come finish eating me!” Claugh tried to yell . But it came off more like a strangled groan . He didn’t have the energy to try again if the monster didn’t hear him . So he just hoped it worked .
The monster turned to him, a delighted expression on his face . He stuck his tongue out to lick his lips…
“Hah… so he did hear me . Good,” Claugh mumbled and sighed in relief .
He felt Shuss grab onto him again .
So Claugh shook his head . “Hurry up and get out of here . I can’t get away like this . You know that . I taught you to be more adaptable than this . So get out of here . That’s an order . ”
“I-I told you, I’m not listening to your orders now—”
“It’s an order . I don’t need you anymore if you won’t listen . ”
Shuss’ face curled up . Just that one sentence brought him so easily to the brink of tears . “f.u.c.k… f.u.c.k!”
Shuss glared at the monster .
Claugh couldn’t help but smile at the sight of such a funny expression . “Tell Sion and Noa I said hi, ok—”
Something grabbed Claugh by his hair, pulling him across the ground .
And then he heard the absolute last person he wanted to hear on his deathbed talk . “Are you some kind of idiot? A dirty man like you has no right sending a message to Lady Noa . ”
It was Bayuz .
“Wh, what’re you—”
“But,” Bayuz continued with that hateful tone of his, “even the death of a guy like you would make our kind Lady Noa sad . So I’ll save you . ”
“You dumba.s.s… Go save someone else th—”
“Idiot,” Bayuz interrupted again . “Look . Roland’s soldiers have started to fight the monster again so they can help save you . ”
“Wh…” Claugh mumbled . He was at a loss for words . “But that’s so stupid…”
“Roland’s full of people just as dumb as you are . It seriously p.i.s.ses me off, because it makes it look like you’re more popular than I am . G.o.d, it p.i.s.ses me off . I hate it . It’s so stupid . ”
Bayuz paused . “I’m saving you because you p.i.s.s me off,” Bayuz said . Then he raised and arm and yelled . “Soldiers of Estabul, look here! I’m saving this idiot Rolander from the brink of death! Let’s put them in our debt!”
“Yeaaahh!!” The soldiers cheered back .
Apparently demeaning Roland had a great effect on their morale .
“All soldiers, use magic! That means you too, idiot Rolanders! One spell per person! Withdraw once you’ve fired it - get out of here as fast as you can! Staying here is a death sentence!”
The air was filled with light, some in the form of letters, others magic circles . The two types of magic were completely different, but right now they were being used for the very same goal .
“You idiot,” Claugh said . “Everyone will just hit each other doin’ this . ”
Bayuz clicked his tongue . “That won’t happen . That monster seems to have the power to absorb magic . So he’ll absorb it all . ”
It was true that the monster absorbed Bayuz’s spell when that scarlet brand rose in his eyes, but…
“But what if he doesn’t?”
“Just pray that he does, idiot . It’s too late to do anything about it now . ”
“A, are you kidding!?”
Bayuz ignored him and looked to Shuss . “Hey, Shuss or whatever your name is . Give this idiot a hand . He’ll die no matter what happens here if he doesn’t get treatment stat . ”
“Y, yes, understood . ”
“Whoa, whoa, Shuss! Why’re you listenin’ to him!?”
Shuss just smiled . “Well, I was just thinking that Bayuz is a better person than I originally thought . I think we’ll really be able to get along with Estabul’s soldiers!”
Claugh wanted to yell back, ‘What part of him’s supposed to be good!?’ but… he just didn’t have the strength for it . He was being attacked by a horrible drowsiness thanks to his blood loss…
That was all he could say .
“Hm . Looks like Marshal Good-for-nothing’s finally kneeling before me and acknowledging that I deserve to be more popular . One just can’t help the facts . Lady Noa will surely praise me for uniting the armies like this… hm? Oh, my calculations were correct . The monster’s absorbing all of the magic . Now we can all get away . ”
“We did it, didn’t we!” Shuss said .
“Mm . I’m glad . By the way, Shuss . What do you think of quitting your job and becoming my subordinate instead?”
“Huh? Um, well, er, we have to get Claugh medical—”
“C’mon, just leave him . It’s fine . You’re outstanding, unlike this dumba.s.s . I love people like you . Just leave this blood-stained fool and come with me…”
Claugh’s consciousness clouded over . He couldn’t make out their words anymore . But he was sure that Bayuz was still talking s.h.i.+t about him, even if he couldn’t hear it .
Claugh smiled bitterly . If he got medical treatment in time and made it, then hopefully he’d remember this so he knew to kill Bayuz when he got the chance .
His heavy eyelids were trying to close on their own . But he forced them open . When he did, he saw a vortex sucking the light of everyone’s magic in . He could see a scarlet cross s.h.i.+ning in the center of it all, and he could hear the laughter of someone making light of him, of all humanity .
“…You son of a b.i.t.c.h,” Claugh spat in the moment before falling unconscious .
They are monsters . Monsters with crimson-branded eyes that kill and eat a great number of human beings…
She read that in the far north of the continent . It was information that she’d been looking for for a long time now . Despite how much trouble she’d been having looking for it before, this place was full of the information she needed .
“This is so annoying… I’ve been travelling around the continent for the past two years looking for this . Of course it’s in the last place I look,” Kiefer Knolles said, dejected . She had honest red eyes and red hair that matched . Her slender body was well trained, but she’d fleshed out just a bit over the past two years . She still couldn’t win against her older sister’s figure, though . That was her latest worry . She was already older than her sister had been when she died, too…
What if she was finally reunited with Ryner and he said that she wasn’t womanly enough and hated it? She was really worried about that…
“I can’t believe I’m this worked up about appealing to a guy… if my sister were alive, I’m sure she’d have a few killer tips that’d put Ryner in a daze every time he sees me…”
She thought of her beautiful sister as she mumbled to herself . Thought of her sweet smile…
It had been years since both of her sisters died, but she could still remember them both vividly . At least she could pride herself on that . She pictured them in her mind - her two sisters who she’d never meet again…
Kiefer smiled sadly, then forced herself to focus back on the task at hand .
“Now, then… I better get back to researching . ”
She was inside of a small library, one that was situated in the farthest north country in all of Menoris - it was Gransled, a town in the Gastark Empire .
It was just a village even though it was in the Empire… and Kiefer couldn’t help but react with shock when she heard that it was the king’s birthplace . He’d been raised here, too . And it was just a village!
But that was whatever .
The important thing was the library . She’d come here for Ryner’s sake . Her goal was to release him from the curse of his Alpha Stigma . She hadn’t been able to find any leads before reaching Gastark . But now that she was here, knowledge about it was commonplace .
They were monsters who ate people . Monsters who destroyed everything . And so the hero’s descendants…
They were stories straight from the kind of fairy tale world that one would tell children about before bed .
It was fitting, given the country . It was a place of extraordinary natural beauty… though one could also say that it was underdeveloped . Life was rather inconvenient in Gastark . Due to its location, snow was piled on the ground for a good portion of the year .
There were few checkpoints to officially enter the country through, and on maps it’d always been a tiny little country, too small to bother with writing a name on… maybe it was better to say that it had been like an autonomous city? Despite its size, it was a rather old, historical place . Its land was just so undesirable that other countries never bothered to conquer it… still, was there any reason for its independence at all at that point…?
And then there was the present .
Gastark abruptly started invading other countries . It conquered a bunch of other small countries, until finally becoming a great power… even Imperial Stohl, a country even larger than Roland, was just brought to its knees by Gastark .
“…That should have been impossible,” Kiefer mumbled . But Gastark had defied the odds . It just sounded like something out of a fairy tale . Then again, everything was like that here .
“Eyes… eyes… eyes… I don’t need to know about anything else . ”
She looked through her keywords again - the scarlet symbol, going berserk, loathed monsters… and Alpha Stigma . She searched the library for every little bit of info on those topics, then read through through everything thoroughly .
The library only had four wooden tables for guests to use . Kiefer’s table was covered in piles of books . She closed the book she’d just finished reading and added it to the pile of things she’d already looked through, then heaved a sigh .
“Geez, what’s up with this? Just when it’s getting to something I’m interested in, I can’t get any further . ”
And that was being literal . The pages she was interested in were all stained or torn out… like it was being intentionally hidden .
She could find all of the basic info about Alpha Stigma bearers here . But she already knew all of that .
She began to examine her next doc.u.ment . It had an itemized list of information rather than paragraphs .
They are indistinguishable from human children at birth .
They react to environmental triggers at some point, causing a red pentagram to appear in their eyes, proving them to be Alpha Stigma bearers .
It is said that their eyes have a clear and truthful view of the world down to its fibers . This allows them to copy spells the instant they are activated .
They react to environmental triggers and go berserk at some point, their ability to see the truth collapsing in on them . They then seek to destroy the world down to its fibers .
An Alpha Stigma bearer who has gone berserk cannot return to the way it once was .
“…But Ryner came back,” Kiefer whispered .
There were countries like Roland where this much information was difficult to find due to the sheer fear and hatred surrounding Alpha Stigma bearers leading to taboo surrounding them even in literature, but this kind of basic information wasn’t too difficult to come by in most places .
They all said that Alpha Stigma bearers couldn’t go back to the way they were if they went berserk once . But Kiefer knew that Ryner could .
So what did that mean? She had a few theories .
Ryner wasn’t a normal Alpha Stigma bearer .
Ryner could control his power due to a strong force of will .
She didn’t think that either of those were correct . Because she’d seen him go berserk firsthand . And it was different from how the information about an Alpha Stigma bearer’s berserk state was described, no matter the country… They were on a completely different scale .
A normal Alpha Stigma bearer could kill many soldiers when berserk, but not an entire army . But Ryner…
Kiefer skimmed the next few pages . The one she settled on had both text and ill.u.s.trations . Her eyes narrowed .
She thought of her final and most recent theory .
Despite having a scarlet pentagram in his eyes, Ryner was not an Alpha Stigma bearer .
Then what was he?
She stared at the ill.u.s.trations . It was something she hadn’t seen in any of the other countries she’d visited . There were various brands . And the t.i.tle of the page… was ‘Regarding Cursed Eyes . ’
That was new . And yet, the pages just after this one were all torn out…
The other books and doc.u.ments were the same .
“Uugh… Stop leaving me hanging…”
Just when she finally found something promising, too . She felt like she’d just been sent to h.e.l.l .
She was so disappointed that she was getting dizzy . Kiefer cradled her head in her hands . “M, maybe I should take a little break…”
“Oh, you’re finally on break? Want to have some tea then?” Someone asked from behind her . It was a voice she knew, though she’d only met him once . Because his voice was powerful and memorable . It was… but wait, why? He shouldn’t…
Kiefer turned around . It was indeed who she thought it was . He had long brown… no, pink hair with a gentle wave to it . He had a well-trained but lanky figure . But what caught her attention was his left eye . It was closed like he was winking . But… it wasn’t . It wasn’t there anymore . His remaining eye stared at her with unwavering confidence . It gave him a special sort of charisma . She could see a secret resolve in his eyes… and innocence like a child’s .
Riphal Edea was his name, but it was unlikely that people addressed him as such often . Because he was king of this country… no, king of the whole Northern Continent . The Dictator of the North .
She recalled the sight of him slas.h.i.+ng his sword . When he did, a great light appeared . It was an unforgettable moment . He had a long, dark sword three times the size of his own body… a sword that could only be used if he offered himself up as sacrifice first . And when he did, the single slash of his sword was enough to decimate one hundred thousand of Stohl’s soldiers . Then it devoured Riphal’s eye as compensation . Because its power used his flesh as food to work .
And so he traded his left eye for the death of one hundred thousand people…
The king had an unwavering resolve despite his loss .
He’d been on the verge of tears after . “I definitely won’t let these lives be in vain . I definitely won’t forget this moment . My sins definitely won’t disappear . I am a ma.s.s murderer . A ma.s.s murdering king . If that’s something that can be cursed, then curse me . But even so . Even so, I must keep moving forward… Now…”
All it took was one look to know that he was an outstanding person . He was charming, popular, and courageous . He had all the necessary components to be a king, and yet somehow he was still very different from Sion . He was the reason that Gastark was so strong . It wasn’t because of his sword . It was because of him . He’d even trade his own body to make his dreams come true…
Kiefer was scared .
Why was he out here in the countryside? Well… she did call it the countryside, but on paper this was Gastark’s capital city .
Kiefer had heard that Riphal was in Stohl right now . He should be busy establis.h.i.+ng an occupation force . Not out here hanging out in a library… But here he was .
She couldn’t detect even the faintest hint of deceit in his smile . And it was a very charming smile . To the point that it made her want to sing his praises . Gastark’s women probably all melted when they saw it . But Kiefer tensed her body .
“…Let’s see . I’m not someone with strong likes and dislikes for the most part, but I don’t think I’m too fond of stalkers . ”
His eyebrows shot up in surprise . He seemed a little dejected . “Oh . You noticed?”
That was way too honest of a reaction .
Kiefer groaned at her own stupidity . This man wasn’t an idiot . Of course he would have realized that she wasn’t actually from Stohl back on the battlefield… and then he must have decided to investigate where she was really from . If she was from a country that he would someday go to war with, he’d capture her and tortured her to get her to reveal the secrets of her country’s magic . But he let her go back then . No, that wasn’t it . He let her go so he could learn why she came to Stohl in the first place .
Of course, Kiefer wasn’t exactly telling everyone about travelling the continent . She made sure to be careful in order to avoid being followed . But… she didn’t realize that she was being followed this time . She didn’t notice at all . And she was usually very good about noticing . She was confident in her ability to notice tails if she just focused for a moment . But maybe it was her confidence that’d been her downfall?
She thought about Riphal’s sword . About its overwhelming power that so resembled Ryner’s Alpha Stigma . Maybe she could find a lead in it?
Either way . She’d been careless . Because she didn’t notice that she was being followed . She couldn’t run at this point . The whole library was probably surrounded by Gastark’s soldiers .
So what should she do? She whined to herself in the corner of her heart . What should she do? Should she off herself now? If she did, she could avoid being a burden to Roland by keeping their magic secret… At least she could probably avoid them questioning her about her native country . Though the Kingdom of Estabul was no more, she still had a responsibility to keep its magic secret .
…No . She crossed all those thoughts back out . She was being naive .
If they wanted her to talk, they’d get her to talk . Whether it took torutre, drugs, or brainwas.h.i.+ng magic . There were countless ways to get someone to spill .
She tensed her body and prepared herself .
She had two choices here . She could either manage to get away somehow, or she could die .
Riphal just smiled . “Ah, you don’t need to be so tense . Nothing’s gonna happen . ”
Kiefer instinctively scowled . She hated feeling like he could see right through her .
“There aren’t any soldiers outside either, by the way . If you want to escape then do so . Run to your heart’s content . So there’s no need for you to be so hasty . ”
“…Hm . So you’ve already looked into me so much that you’re confident that you could find me again?”
Riphal shook his head . “No . My subordinates were investigating you before, but they’ve since stopped . ”
Riphal smiled confidently . “Because it’s more fun to make a pa.s.s at a girl you don’t already know everything about, after all . It’s no fun if there’s a one-hundred percent success rate,” he said cheerfully .
Kiefer suddenly felt very tired . “What… exactly do you mean by making a pa.s.s?”
“I’m going to hug you,” he said with the same overly enthusiastic tone from before .
He was serious . Seriously an idiot .
The tense feeling faded from her as soon as she realized that .
“…Aren’t you being, like… way too straightforward?” Kiefer asked, suddenly exhausted . “I was expecting you to interrogate me… Wait, is that what the tea was for? You’re hitting on me with tea? That’s so corny . ”
Riphal’s eyes widened in surprise .
Kiefer pressed a finger to her forehead, internally groaning at how dumb this all was . “You’re way too easy to understand . ”
Riphal laughed, pleased .
He smiled and laughed often . To the point where she began to feel a little less down, despite herself .
“Let’s have that tea then,” Riphal said . He turned to an old man who’d been reading behind them for some time now . “I’m gonna borrow the kitchen for a minute, okay?”
“Don’t get it too dirty now, you Edea whippersnapper . ”
It was a conversation between the king and the library’s owner, and yet…
On top of that, he’d seriously left his back unguarded and facing her .
“Ugh, what’s with that?” Riphal complained .
“Haven’t you even considered that I might be an a.s.sa.s.sin from abroad?” Kiefer asked .
He turned back to face her with a grin . “I’ve got one eye, and it’s to read women with . ”
“…Your pickup lines are hideous,” Kiefer said, her distaste evident .
But Riphal just looked mischievous . “That’s fine . I’ll give you some info on Cursed Eyes to make up for you dealing with them, so look forward to it while you wait . ”
Riphal disappeared into a door behind the counter before she could react . Kiefer stared dumbfounded for a moment before scowling .
“What kind of a pickup line is that… ugh, I guess he really did look into me . ”
The library felt very quiet with him gone . The library’s owner just continued to read quietly instead of saying anything to her .
“…This country is really weird,” Kiefer mumbled .
The tea that Riphal made was surprisingly tasty . It had a kind of weak taste, but it was exceptionally fragrant, which made her think it was an herbal tea of some sort . She wondered idly if it was the standard here in the north . It was a new flavor to Kiefer, who had grown up in the southernmost country in the continent .
“Do you like it?” Riphal asked .
Yes, though she hated to admit it . Riphal’s eyes shone when she nodded .
“Right? It’s super delicious . It’s a rare tea, you know . You can’t find it outside of this town . But I was born and raised here, so it’s all I ever drank growing up . ”
So that’s how it was .
He was smiling because she praised the tea . Her praising the tea meant that she was praising the town that he grew in, which meant that she was praising him . That was his reaction .
What a child!
“There’s enough for more, by the way,” Riphal said . He smiled at her, happy as could be… and it made her want to smile too . So she averted her eyes .
“I’ll have some more then, but only because there are leftovers . ”
“Really? I can also make more whenever . ”
“Uh, right . More importantly, let’s get to talking . You were going to give me some information?”
Riphal glanced to the stack of books Kiefer had acc.u.mulated on the other side of the table . “None of the things you wanted to know were in those, right?”
Kiefer tensed . That was true . Everything had been torn out, or blotted out… “Were those pages removed on your orders?”
Riphal shook his head . “Not on my orders . I did it all myself . ”
So he came here as soon as he knew that Kiefer would enter this library just so he could destroy the information before she got to it . She s.h.i.+vered .
But then he continued, interrupting her thoughts .
“But see, I did all that back when I was a kid . ”
“H, huh? Seriously?”
“Miss,” the old man behind the counter said, “Don’t be like him . Tearing up books is disrespectful to the authors—”
“Ughhh I know thaaat . How many times have you given me that lecture now?” Riphal asked . “And I’m already an adult, you know—”
“You? An adult? You’re fifteen at most—”
“I’m twenty-three!! Geez, when did your internal clock stop ticking?” Riphal asked . But he seemed happy even now, like he was enjoying being treated like a child… Riphal looked to Kiefer . “Y’know, he’s usually not this silly . It’s just times like this—”
“I’m not being ‘silly!’” The old man yelled . He threw a book at Riphal, which hit him square on the head…
“Ow!! That hurt! Also, isn’t that disrespectful to the book!?”
“Don’t be stupid . That wasn’t me . It was divine punishment from the G.o.d of literature . ”
Kiefer’s tension lessened again listening to their argument . What part of any of this made her get serious again, anyway? No matter how she looked at it, they were just the village troublemaker and the old man tasked with disciplining him…
“The G.o.d of literature, huh?” Riphal repeated as he rubbed his aching head . Then he turned back to Kiefer . “Do you believe in G.o.ds or anything?”
“…Is that a quality you’re looking for?” Kiefer countered . His question came off like he was trying to figure out if she was from a religious country or not .
Riphal shrugged . “It’s just one of those things I’d like to know about the woman I’ve fallen in love with,” he said . “Second Private Kiefer Knolles . ”
Kiefer was quiet for a moment . He was seriously hard to deal with . She never introduced herself, and yet he knew her name . “How much do you—”
“Just your name . ”
“Liar . ”
“You don’t believe me?”
“Of course not . There’s no reason to stop at my name, now, is there?”
“I just wanted to know the name of the world-cla.s.s beauty I met on the battlefield,” Riphal answered easily .
“I’m not going to tell you anything even if you flatter me . ”
“I’m not just flattering, I—”
“Don’t try to banter with me!” Kiefer yelled . She felt like she was being toyed with . Everything was just a game to him . He’d probably researched everything about her just to come here and toy with her . Men were the same no matter the country…
Kiefer’s thoughts trailed off as she noticed Riphal giving her a kicked-puppy face . “Mm? Are you s.h.i.+vering…? This is bad . Did I really scare you? Aww, s.h.i.+t . My bad . I really only looked up a few facts…”
He was trying to make her doubt herself . It was, no doubt, another game of his .
“I really only looked your name up,” Riphal said . “Because you were so beautiful, and I just wanted to know . ”
Kiefer glared, her eyes sharp . “You knew that I was researching the Alpha Stigma, too . I know d.a.m.n well that you dug up more than my name—”
Riphal looked troubled . He pointed to the books on the table, where she’d left that book about Cursed Eyes out…
“Ah,” Kiefer said .
T-that was true . He could easily figure out what she was researching by the books on the table . But still .
“But still, you were trying to figure out if I believe in a G.o.d or not—”
“That’s because I’d understand your interest in Cursed Eyes better if you were religious, since they’re the same general concept,” Riphal said . “Sorry, I could have explained that better . But you’re a foreign beauty away from home alone . You have to be as cautious as you are . I understand that . I’m in the wrong here . Let me try again, okay?”
His eyes sharpened, and the cheery air about him changed into something more solemn . “I… don’t hesitate when I need to kill someone . I don’t hesitate when I torture people, either . Kiefer, if I meant to kill you, I’d have done so back on the battlefield . ”
Now he seemed like the king he was .
This was his true self, one that could inspire awe in the viewer .
“Wh, what the h.e.l.l,” Kiefer said . “Don’t say my name so suddenly . ”
She regretted those words the second they were out of her mouth . It was a stupid thing to say . She knew she’d lost already .
The king smiled . It was a carefree smile, like a child’s . “So you can just relax . It’s okay, Kiefer . Do you feel better now?”
She cursed herself for relaxing, even if only a little . How frustrating . Everything was going at his pace . She’d just told him not to say her name, and then he went and did it again right after…
“You really… just do whatever you want, don’t you?” Kiefer asked .
“Well, I am a king . ”
“…Ugh . I guess I can’t refuse you either, since you’re a king?”
“Do you hate that?”
“I do,” she said instantly .
Sure enough, his dejected expression was way too easy to read…
Kiefer sighed . “Augh, geez . It’s not as bad as the irritating n.o.ble schtick, I guess . ”
She recalled the n.o.bles who had killed her sisters, tricked her, and used her…
It was hard for her to deal with someone this straightforward . Because she was a traitor . She betrayed everyone in her home country… and this straightforward honesty was downright charming . To the point where she hated it . She’d probably manage to betray this guy at some point, too…
“C’mon, look,” Riphal said . He took three folded pieces of paper out of his pocket and placed them on the table in front of Kiefer .
It was the pages following the ill.u.s.tration in the doc.u.ment she’d been reading before all of this . They had several symbols on them, like pentagrams and crosses…
Regarding the Cursed Eyes .
It was the information Kiefer was looking for…
But that meant…
“They’re pretty old books, and that information’s in more than one place, you know . I’ll explain it even if you can’t read it yourself . As far as I know, there are five types of these monsters we call Cursed Eyes…”
In the end, he really had researched her, hadn’t he? He already knew that she was researching the Alpha Stigma . If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have brought these papers with…
This was bad . She had to run…
Riphal continued calmly . “These monsters are real tough to catch, you know? If we go in order of how easy they are to nab, then it goes like… the Future Eyes, Torch Curse; the Copying Eyes, Alpha Stigma; and the Dream Moving Eyes, Ebra Crypt . Those guys are no big deal . But the other two… The Resentment Eyes, Will Heim, and the Annihilation Eyes, Iino Doue . Those guys are a real pain in the a.s.s . ”
Kiefer froze .
This was the kind of information she’d been looking for . He’d frozen her in place from the allure of this information . This was exactly what she was looking for . She’d been single mindedly thinking of how to get out until now, but… now all she could think of was what he just said .
So there were five types of Cursed Eyes… and apparently Alpha Stigma wasn’t even that strong compared to some of the others . According to Kiefer’s theory, Ryner’s Alpha Stigma wasn’t really Alpha Stigma at all… He could be one of the other types .
“It says that much on the papers I just gave you, but… sorry . The rest is a secret for Gastark’s people’s eyes . Do you still want to know the rest?”
Of course she did .
He was really in control of the situation now . It was like an all-you-can-eat, but for bullying her .
“By the way, you probably can’t find the details we have about Cursed Eyes anywhere else . See, this region’s got some special circ.u.mstances, so there are more Cursed Eyes around here than in other places… The circ.u.mstances are secret too, of course . I’ve ordered my subordinates to go around destroying this kind of info throughout the world, just like how it is in this library - all the important pages have been destroyed . The keywords I have them after are ‘holy sword,’ ‘Cursed Eyes,’ ‘contract,’ and… ‘G.o.d . ’ They’re all fairytale-like stories, so no one realizes . And if they do…”
Riphal’s face wrinkled with sadness .
She recalled what he’d told her before . That people who don’t regret killing others are trash .
So they killed them . They destroyed information in other countries and killed those who realized what they were doing .
She understood why, too . It was because of that sword . It had immense destructive power, and all it took was a swing… The world would surely end if everyone had a sword like that .
Riphal continued, pained . “But the world is starting to realize . This place is a normal, but poor town . The only foreign visitors we get are those who are seeking information like you are, Kiefer . Because they want to save someone, or because they want power . But the same thing will happen no matter their reasons - things will get worse . I need to act as quick as possible to minimize the sacrifices…”
“…And become king of the world . Right?”
“Yeah,” Riphal said and nodded . But his expression wasn’t one of greed . It reflected pain, sadness, and regret . That and the strength to move forward .
“…So you’ll kill me, too…?”
“No . I told you earlier . I don’t hesitate when I’m going to kill someone . You haven’t reached the status of someone I need to kill yet,” he said and gazed right at her .
He looked serious . She didn’t think he was lying . So she had to make the right choice here .
She had two options .
One: Leave this place without the answers she was looking for .
Two: Listen to Riphal’s information… and cooperate with Gastark .
Riphal held out his hand . “Will you come with me?” He asked kindly . His voice was full of charm . And she… didn’t hate him . Right . She could still be happy if she took his hand now . Many people had probably come here seeking information and decided to take his hand at this point, deciding to cooperate with him and work towards saving the world . That was probably part of how Gastark was getting so big so quickly .
So was it wrong for her to take his hand? She didn’t think anyone would complain if she did .
So she put her hand in his .
“Tell me your information . ”
As usual, Riphal was ridiculously easy to read . His lips curled in a smile that could melt hearts .
Kiefer smiled back . But that was just an act . She was used to smiling while lying by now .
She’d chosen her third option: get the information she wanted, then betray him . She might be killed, but…
She felt a presence through the window and looked over . Several people in black cloaks who had concealed their presence until now had appeared . They were calmly leaving…
She couldn’t sense any killing intent from them…
She looked back to Riphal . Gazed at him, the dictator of the north, as she smiled .
She definitely wouldn’t lose .
Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu Vol 7 Chapter 5
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Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu Vol 7 Chapter 5 summary
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