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ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI, THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO STARTING A LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WORLD FROM ZERO, THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
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—The legends of the War God Kurgan, were widely circulated in the Vollachia Empire.
In the powerful Vollachia Empire, as long as one had the ability, the circumstances of their birth would be disregarded.
In comparison to Lugunica, which has a conscious difference of treatment its demi-humans, and the Holy Kingdom of Gutesko, which barred foreigners, Vollachia adopts a similar system of lack of consideration for blood or appearance to Kararagi.
Therefore, among the four major countries, Vollachia was considered to be the best country of residence non-purebred humans.
But on the other hand, the kind of cruel survival of the fittest meant that there would be severe repression and oppression on those lacking power and wisdom. Of course, personal evaluations and racial evaluations would be different.
In particular, the Multi-Arm Clan had been wandering around for many years, as a nomadic race which never stayed in a single place. The appearance of the Multi-Arm Clan was just as its name, and their adaptability at using magic as a demi-humans were exceptionally low. In terms of a race, it could only be thought of as inferior.
The total number of individuals of the Multi-Arm Clan was not large. If ever a dispute arose, they would be more inclined to relocate than to fight for the protection of their land.
It was inevitable that such a race, driven away from countless places, would came to Vollachia, where it would have only been natural for them to have been swallowed up by the iron-blooded empire and faced with decline.
—In this world of power, shouting out a [Refusal] was a man named Kurgan.
Although the characteristics of the Multi-Arm Clan were that they have had more than the two arms that humans did, that number varied from person to person. Kurgan, who had eight arms where most had four or five, was a peculiar existence.
It had been the then youthful Kurgan, who had, when the local lord moved to recollect land, refused, and waved his eight arms to drive the messenger back. Then, spurring his trembling brethren on, the lord’s private army was driven back and broken through, time and time again, until finally the lord’s mansion was attacked.
Although the barbaric attack had frightened the lord, Kurgan did not offer a violent solution.
He spoke he and his people had proven themselves, and accepted a prized seat on the lord’s private army. After that, throughout various battles, the name of [Kurgan of Eight Arms] was passed down as a legend of the Vollachia Empire.
His whole body was submerged in cold water, and he could still see the wavering moon through the water that flowed overhead.
The bone that had supported his right eye had broken, and the eyeball enclosed inside the socket seemed on the verge of slipping off. Instantly, he used the left hand to support the treatment of magic and perform minimal healing.
His remaining left eye jumped around, surveying the red sediment flowing along with the water, his body arching back upward where it hit the bottom of the waterway.
Obviously, he lay submerged in the water, but he could feel no trace of its frigid coolness.
Emancipated from the heavy weight of gravity, strength slowly poured back into his hands and feet in this world that has lost its burden.
If only unloading the yoke of the heart could be as simple as removing the yoke on the body— his heart now, was submerged in darkness.
Or he could just keep sinking in this way, in no way was such a thought completely absent from his heart. However, drawing breath began to grow painful and in the darkness, his eyes hadn’t left him completely blinded.
The peach-haired girl, the orange-furred catgirl, and the black-haired boy emerged and ignited his waterlogged heart.
Maybe it was a flame that would disappear immediately. Earlier, that had been precisely the case, even if the bravado of pretending to be brave had been entirely shattered, which proved so. Even so, no matter what.
—That, was no excuse to be immersed in here forever.
Stretching to straighten his back, slamming hard into the water pushing himself up in one breath, as his head emerged from the water, Garfiel shook his head.
The vision in his right eye was still obstructed, and the lingering aftereffects of the beating had turned into a tinnitus ringing ceaselessly in his head. His entire bloodied, wounded body was flooded with nausea, and the lack of sensation in his mouth had a discordant effect on his teeth.
Garfiel: “Fuckin’ shit…”
Grabbing the edge of the waterway to yank himself up, like a wild beast, shaking his entire body to clear the water, Garfiel glanced around.
Earlier, Garfiel had been slammed into the waterway.
Nothing had changed, the war god had remained standing in place.
The position of his outstretched Demon Cleaver was the same, with delay in his slight aura of battle, and of Garfiel’s failed attack, there was no doubt, as he maintained his stance.
Looking at the silent war god, Garfiel began to think.
After all, the inevitability of the collision between Garfiel and Kurgan was small indeed. The task that Garfiel hoped to accomplish was to stop the surprise attack that [Lust] was likely to launch on the city. Even if he fought with Kurgan here, he wouldn’t be saving the city of solely non-combatants.
At a glance, all would tell Garfiel to avoid a fight with Kurgan here.
Garfiel: “But… no way, he’d let me escape.”
A body so large that heads would crane to see it fully, and an overwhelming amount of muscle. Even if he looked incapable of agility, even if he tried to flee, he couldn’t imagine that he could escape the reach of those swords.
From the very instant that this war god had appeared before him, Garfiel had been rendered incapable of escape.
Now, there were only two choices that Garfiel was allowed to make.
—Fight to death. Rebel against that death, these two choices only.
Garfiel: “Fuck… ‘s ain’t th’ time t’ think so right now!”
Defeatist thoughts flashing through his head, Garfiel gnashed his teeth to drive them away. The fangs that had been urgently regrown to make up for his losses tinged with pain, but that pain drove negative thoughts of loss to deep recesses.
Any notion of the feeling of impending loss, of the harbinger of defeat, would be flattened.
Self-satisfying words to justify his loss, were unnecessary!
—Win, win, win, win, win, win!
Seize victory, prove his own worth!
Roaring loudly, driving away any weakness, Garfiel once again rushed forward. In the previous skirmish, a single blow that’d he’d put his all into had been blocked.
However, if his weight weren’t enough, he could use speed to control him.
Using claws, using teeth, opening, tearing, biting, plundering.
The silent war god, greeted the rushing Garfiel.
A blow from a Demon Cleaver came from his shoulder.
Call it a sniping blow, but the penetrative force was too low, call it a crushing blow, but it moved too sharply. It belonged solely to Kurgan, this combination of swordplay and strength that would leave his opponents crushed.
The suddenly approaching blade of the Demon Cleaver passed over the back of Garfiel’s head, as he leaned forward. After that narrow miss, Garfiel’s thinking grew steadily more fervent.
If there were only one blow, Garfiel should be able to escape with ease. The speed of his small form, lithe as it was, was quite different from the speed of that enormous body with it’s equally enormous arm and weapon.
After avoiding his massive attack, sending slashing paw his chest a parting gift was easy. Or rather, should have been.
However, Garfiel, who buried deep in those arms, was forced to dodge on the spot. One of Kurgan’s giant side arms swept upward, threatening to send him flying from his chin.
This was also unexpected— no, his body’s sense of balance was simply different.
Kurgan, born of the Multi-Arm Clan, had swung his eight arms and trained relentlessly to find a style which suited his own body.
Honing frightening techniques of his flesh, which were entirely different from what manoeuvres Garfiel knew about exercising four limbs.
Once his attack ended, his body would be left open, and weaknesses would be revealed, such common sense applied here.
If one hand were to be used for only defense, then the remaining space could be used to target his opponent’s blind spot.
Even if he could block one hand’s fatal strike, he’d still have the other seven to contend with.
If he couldn’t manage all that, only a single dead end awaited.
Garfiel: “ngh, gaaaaah!”
In front of the shuddering Garfiel, the arm of the gods seemed to be enough to shake the world.
The roaring Demon Cleavers struck from all directions, crushing their opponent’s body with violent force.
Blocking one blow with his shield, bending over to dodge another, darting backward to reduce the impact of the next, spinning to avoid yet another, offsetting one with all the force from his body, allowing the next to shatter his shoulder to avoid a fatal injury. The beastized handcuffs forced a single blow and a single hit to make it fall on the stone steps.
Garfiel: “uwa, huu”
Just now, Garfiel had thrown his all against Kurgan, and had only barely survived the counteroffensive which followed.
Such an attack held the deadliness of a tempest, and yet, to Kurgan, he was merely swinging each of his arms.
If this was what it meant to be a war god, if the fight continued, Garfiel would be annihilated in moments. Right now, collapsed on the ground, the blooded Garfiel still drew breath only because the still standing war god had no intent to pursue.
Assuming the same stance he’d taken when Garfiel’s had clambered out of the waterway, he looked down the loser in their struggle.
To be underestimated, no such feelings of frustration surged forth.
The question now was, of even occupying the same dimension.
Competing with each other, warriors on a battlefield.
The name of this god of war, [Kurgan of Eight Arms], was a legend.
Garfiel: “huu… huu…”
He couldn’t win. To win was impossible.
A legend that had passed away, a man who had become a hero, this war god.
Thriving in the imposing Vollachia, even when his clan had been inferior and despised, was this man who had changed the destiny of his race on his own.
Garfiel was nothing more than a little kid who revered that legend.
Garfiel: “huu… huu… huu”
Clearly that was so, but why did his body right itself.
Even his inner self was so shaken, and yet his body stood upright.
Garfiel: “Haaaah… noisy, noisy, fuckin’ noisy!”
The rush of his heartbeat, was now unusually loud.
The ringing of drums accompanying his ears, Garfiel stomped on the ground. The stone steps beneath his feet began to split, and the cracks stretched straight below Kurgan’s feet.
The silent Kurgan and the bloodied Garfiel stood in confrontation.
Swaying, Garfiel gathered power in the toes, once again slamming on the ground. Then, Kurgan moved.
No, he had been moved.
Through the Garfiel’s soles, the [Divine Protection of Earth Spirits] worked its power. That power moved from the newly formed cracks to Kurgan’s feet, and the ground supporting the giant flew toward the heavens.
That enormous body floating in midair, honed though it was by hundreds battles, was still a slave to the laws of physics.
Losing the support of the lower body, he could no longer execute his powerful strikes.
This moment was the key.
Taking aim at where Kurgan hovered in midair, Garfiel swung his arm.
Part beast, an arm covered in the fur and muscle of a giant tiger struck Kurgan. Even the war god had no means of resisting if he couldn’t adjust his stance in midair.
With the sound of weapons colliding, and the intercepting Demon Cleaver flew away, pulling Kurgan in its wake.
And then Garfiel’s kick was waiting for him. Taking advantage of the first chink in his armor, his claws pierced those thick abdominal muscles.
Roaring, Garfiel ceaselessly pushed his opponent, pressing his attacks.
Chest, thighs, knees, and stomach, all took constant blows.
Suppressed by the force of the impact, Kurgan’s numerous arms were unable to catch up to defend, and he could only take each attack in his splayed position.
Garfiel: “Success’s here!”
Garfiel, convinced that victory was in sight, cried out.
The slashing, bestial claws tore into Kurgan’s, spraying Garfiel with dark blood.
Garfiel swiped the blood from his body, continuing to press forward.
Confident that his opponent had been rendered helpless, Garfiel’s eyes found Kurgan, carved in iron— and then cold washed over him as his hairs stood up.
The god of war’s eyes fixed themselves on Garfiel, his demeanor exactly what it had been at the start, unchanged, not shaken in the slightest.
It was then, that Garfiel realized.
The war god’s delayed counterattack.
The swing of a Demon Cleaver, slammed into the Garfiel’s pair of hurriedly raised shields, slamming his entire figure down, where he crashed hard into the ground.
Even a grunt, couldn’t be formed.
In an instant, orientation vanished from his field of vision, Garfiel’s limbs were entirely controlled by the impact that had sent them flying.
All he knew, was what had happened.
In midair, without any grounding point, Kurgan gave a fierce attack with only his upper body.
Simple and straightforward, was this method.
Grabbing the blade of the Demon Cleaver with both hands to increase the weight of the swing, the force would skyrocket.
—That was the principle of a flick to the forehead.
Using two hands as a base to turn the attack into fatal blow.
Sending him flying, to reduce the force of his attacks. This method of combat had been thoroughly resolved by his opponent.
Having his chain of counterattacks interrupted, Garfiel was struck by a foot from the huge body directly above him.
Couple the foot with his falling momentum, and Garfiel’s body and slammed upward from the ground as soon as it made contact.
His thoughts occupied by pain and loss, what drove him to use his healing magic was solely his survival instinct.
Attaching the broken bones on his upper arm, elbow, and shattered shoulders, to fixing his eviscerated internal organs. His ribs, waist bones, parts his left thigh had also broken, but those would prove too difficult to recover in an emergency.
His gate heating within the body, he drew upon all his magic, exhausting his mana supply.
Taking advantage of being able to draw strength from the ground, with his body pressed against it, he began to treat and repair himself from head to toe.
A few seconds, or tens of seconds, or possibly a few minutes.
Blocking out even the passage of time, Garfiel focused on the restoration of his flesh.
Finally, reaching a point where he could just barely manage to move, he spat the blood from his throat and got up.
Calmly, the war god regarded the bloodstained Garfiel.
Seeing this gesture, the corners of Garfiel’s eyes burned. The heat within had him bowing his head, teeth shaking.
Garfiel: “Th’ fuck, ‘s this…?”
Since the beginning, Kurgan’s stance had remained consistent.
He would meet Garfiel’s challenges, but he wouldn’t take the initiative to attack, nor would he rush at Garfiel with swords drawn.
Garfiel, had been mercilessly defeated three times.
The feeling of defeat and humiliation in his heart had smashed through him, his soldier’s conceit and arrogance.
He felt that he had to win against him.
In a similar way, he also thought that it’d be far cleaner to kill himself than to suffer this ridicule.
War god Kurgan, the hero of Vollachia.
Being regarded as the peak of all the soldiers, asking him to understand the frustration in Garfiel’s heart would be impossible.
Garfiel: “Might ‘s well jus’…”
Kill me, he could ask that of him.
Honestly admitting defeat, acknowledging the obvious disparity in power, asking to be allowed to die as a warrior.
Putting down his shields, spreading his arms, and forming an expression of bliss.
To plead with him like this, would he be willing?
To fall on battle against the god of war; to a warrior, this was perhaps the proudest way to die.
Garfiel: “In this place…”
Wouldn’t it be so easy, if it were all to end.
Garfiel: “Wouldn’t ‘t be so easy, ‘f ‘twere all ta end, huh.”
Equipped with his shields, tightening his arms to show hostility.
Looking forward, as if intending to struggle.
Garfiel: “‘S kinda thinkin’ keeps lingerin’.”
Someone had said to him once, to not think so much when fighting.
You’re pretty strong, when you’re not thinking about extraneous things, and just using your instincts to fight.
—Was that, really the case?
Garfiel: “Sound’s, lingerin’…”
How annoying was his heartbeat.
Every bones in him twisted and connected, and a sound began to form.
Annoying, annoying, annoying, annoying.
That extraneous sound, all of it, completely, in its entirety, was so annoying.
—The sound, can you not hear?
Garfiel: “Can I hear… always, ‘f fuckin’ course my amazin’ self can hear it.”
Even if he avoided thinking about it, it’d amount to nothing.
In Garfiel ear, or perhaps part of him separate from his tympanic membrane, that voice was still being accepted.
Someone’s voice, an intimate voice, a familiar voice, a heartwarming voice, a choked voice, a proud voice, a voice which couldn’t suppress its rage.
All these voices, refused to let Garfiel go.
Even if he relied on instinct to fight, these incoming waves of sound would not recede at all, and Garfiel would not be alone.
The more he thought about it, the weaker he was, and the him of right now was so weak.
It was different from when he’d been in [Sanctuary], playing at being the lone wolf. Now, he bore more humility, had seen more things.
The more people there were to someone, the weaker they’d become, and they’d spend their entire lives growing weaker.
Garfiel: “How’s… ‘s possible.”
Embracing those unfading voices, swallowing his sense of defeat, stirring up a desire for victory, and inserting his admiration and envy into all that.
—Garfiel, issued a challenge to the god of war.
Garfiel’s gaze had changed.
Kurgan, witnessing this, quietly moved.
Of his four Demon Cleavers, he sheathed two.
However, this meant in no way that Kurgan’s strength had weakened. Instead, it allowed him more focus on just those two Demon Cleavers. Almost as if to explain, the war god adjusted his stance.
The war god who had stood facing forward, balanced on his right foot, leaning in slightly as he faced Garfiel.
This was, a battle stance.
—Evidence, that Kurgan finally regarded Garfiel as an enemy.
Garfiel: “—So jus’ now, y’ really were jus’ treatin’ my amazin’ self ‘s a kid. [The osprey’s unsuited to child rearing], ’s this happen t’ be the case here?”
In silence, Garfiel flew at the war god.
Responding to this brutal offensive was the Demon Cleaver.
Suppressing the horrifying feeling of a wall of despair closing in on him, Garfiel rushed forward, seizing his opportunity with his all.
This was a misjudged tactic from his earlier attack.
It had been caused by the aura that Kurgan gave off, as well as Garfiel’s own imagined fearful admiration of the hero.
With a hook, he lashed out at Kurgan.
Although there was a heavy sound of iron on flesh, he’d not hit where he had aimed, but an arm that had been extended to block.
Garfiel: “What kind ‘f a joke, ‘s this!”
Seeing his fist blocked by that palm, Garfiel roared.
Drawing strength from the soles of his feet, he poured that power into his fist which met Kurgan’s palm, allowing it to explode forward.
Kurgan twisted his fingers to avoid the sudden punching force, and Garfiel took the opportunity to land on the war god’s waist, and run up his chest ran up, as if he were doing a flip.
Kurgan leaned back, lashing out with his Demon Cleaver at the same time.
Reading the flow of the wind and atmosphere to predict the direction, Garfiel accepted the attack with his pair of shields.
With a thundering sound, Garfiel’s body flew backward.
Slamming his limbs into the slate floor, he forced his body to stay in place. Looking up, the war god’s pursuit had already approached.
Kurgan,who had yet to launch his own attack, now rushed forward to stop Garfiel.
Only one instant to predict, only one moment to react, only one second for the result to bear fruit.
Garfiel strained the arms he had embedded into the slate, lifting the ground before him. The rushing Kurgan shattered that wall launched at shoulder, and lunged with the Demon Cleaver.
Garfiel, taking a direct hit, was propelled backward. The heel that had tried to stand firm slid across the ground, and shards of teeth flew forward.
Garfiel: “Don’t look down on me, fucker!”
He used his teeth to block the spurs of the ghost machete.
From his incisors, blood dripped to cover the Demon Cleaver, but Garfiel did not hesitate.
He strained the strength in his neck and jaw, and Kurgan’s body shook.
He grabbed hold of the bitten Demon Cleaver’s handle with another arm, and strained to extract it in one motion, but the tooth piercing it would not give.
Not only that, but the force of his biting teeth yet increased. Garfiel’s upper body swelled and began to beastify.
Garfiel: “GHROOOoooooooa, GRAAAAAAAAAA!!”
Transforming his head to animal form would lower his capacity for rational thought significantly.
His reasoning would regress to the level of a beast’s, and he’d been told countless times that this was a double-edged sword.
But in this moment, that was Garfiel’s choice.
This enviable power was indispensable.
Faced with the most powerful of the Multi-Arm race, how could he win, if he denied his own fundamental nature?
O tiger, o tiger, o tiger, in this moment, lend me your strength—!
The instant the golden tiger opened its eyes, the Demon Cleaver was torn.
The blade was shredded, and the force of the destruction moved from blade to hilt, shaking the giant’s form as he suddenly lost his hold and balance.
—This, was truly an opportunity.
Garfiel: “Huu, hah, hah! ”
The beast swung its paws, beating at Kurgan’s head. The giant couldn’t catch his footing under the beast’s repeated strikes.
A slice and a bat arrived at the same time, and Kurgan, dripping blood, was forced back.
He made to pursue further, but was met with a punch.
The enormous tiger’s face smashed with an elbow, and the bridge of its nose collapsed, and immediately following, from below, was a strike to his mandible.
The tiger caught his collapsing body, and a punch from the front slammed into his face.
Blood splashed into his dimming field of vision.
Orientation, control, vanished from his mind.
Not that it had anything to do with him. What was important, was all contained in his heart.
Even without thinking about it, it wouldn’t vanish, would drive his bloody, battered body on.
The Demon Cleaver approached.
The remaining one of the pair, which hadn’t been shattered.
Only one instant to predict, only one moment to react, only one second for the result to bear fruit.
Garfiel: “guu, uu…”
The blade cutting toward his body scraped against his shield and met his stomach.
Even had the impact been dispelled, this blow still had the power to slice through the thick abdominal muscles on his body.
However, faced with the hair stiff as golden needles, and the swelling body of the enormous tiger, bisection was still out of reach.
At Kurgan’s feet, a stomp from Garfiel. This was an effect of the blessing of the [Divine Protection of Earth Spirits].
The blade still lodged in his abdominal muscles, Garfiel fought on thusly.
In a grappling contest, Kurgan would come out ahead, but Garfiel couldn’t sit still.
The lack of teeth, the arm that had been broken several times over, and the instinct overpowering his sensibility, had him catch Kurgan firmly.
Yanking on his cumbersomely large body, Garfiel threw Kurgan— into the waterway behind.
The instant he was thrown forward, Kurgan’s arm reached out to grab Garfiel, dragging the two of them down together.
Accompanied by a loud splash, the two plummeted into the waterway.
Two huge bodies were scuffed by the current, and the blood straining the water was swept away.
In the water, the two figures were still continuously attacking and defending.
In the dark, vision-obscuring liquid, Garfiel and Kurgan continued to beat each other without regard to the resistance of the water.
Fists of a giant shattered his organs, excruciatingly expelling the air from his lungs. Pain unto pain, suffering unto suffering, so the underwater battle continued.
Between that, Garfiel understood his own disadvantage.
For whatever reason, the war god before him didn’t seem to breathe. He felt as if his opponent were a resurrected body.
Oxygen starvation brought lethargy, and Garfiel found his every action slow and stagnant.
The flow of the water gradually surged and swelled, and, again and again, the two figures fell from waterfall to waterfall.
As his consciousness faded, his fingertips were sapped of their fighting spirit.
—His breaths, weren’t enough.
This would become the true cause of his defeat, as Garfiel’s consciousness left him. And victory was is—.
A heavy sound, that the muted, stagnant carried to him.
Returning to his distant consciousness, Garfiel saw it within the murky water.
The Demon Cleaver sheared into the wall and ground level with the canal, and the war god’s strike created a divisive gap in the path of the water’s flow.
He had neither the chance nor the air to ask what he was doing.
The sound of blades from every which way shook the water’s flow, until finally the sound of a breaking metal and a shocking rush echoed in tandem.
In the next moment, a new stream appeared.
Separate from the waterway’s true flow, it was another stream of water entirely. Garfiel’s body, captured within this stream, was sucked and thrown clear from the waterway.
Garfiel: “—pua, kuu, kuu”
The feeling of water around it disappeared, and Garfiel spat the volumes of water he’d swallowed.
From his eyes, nose, ears, all the holes in his, water poured forth, and Garfiel shook his head.
Just as he was wondering what had happened, he heard it.
???: “—Gorgeous Tiger?”
In the sound of flowing water, someone called out quietly to him.