※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Translated by :
Proofread by :
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
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
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
TL Note: My heartfelt gratitude to Nanashi for her tremendous assistance and support through the course of this chapter, it would not have been possible to bring this chapter without her help. The credit is equally her’s as much as it is mine.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
ーーHow surprised would you be if you got to know, that it was actually love at first sight?
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Thearesia van Astrea was twelve years old when she received the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』.
It was a sudden and unforeseen change that begat immense distress in her life.
In the midst of her ordinary, everyday life, it abruptly swooped down upon her.
“ーー? Could it be, that I got chosen?”
This was an honest emotion, the emotion she greeted the Divine Protection with.
And Thearesia continued to keep this truth a secret for some time.
ーーThe renowned Astrea family’s forte was the sword, and had given rise to『Sword Saints』for generations and continued.
Thanks to the achievements accomplished hundreds of years ago by the first generation『Sword Saint』Reid Astrea, the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica recognised the sword of the Astrea family as an indispensable existence and asset.
This tradition had been passed down for centuries, including in Thearesia’s times.
Henceforth, it was halfway cemented that all those born into the Astrea family, regardless of possessing the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』or not, were to live a life of committment toward the sword.
This of course, appertained to her father, her two elder brothers and her lone younger brother, the youngest sibling, as well. Regardless of becoming a swordsman or attaining the Divine Protection or not, they were supposed to acquaint themselves with the sword the moment they achieved awareness of mind per convention.
When it came to how Thearesia, who was born into the Astrea family where this route of upbringing was natural, was maturingーー she was spending her days utterly parallel from the sword.
Of course, those born into the Astrea family, regardless of gender, were supposed to take the sword in their hands.
There were days when Thearesia and her brothers were all made to swing the sword under strict tutelage. There were such days indeed, but Thearesia had absolutely no notable aptitude for the sword.
Rather, it would be moreso precise to say she had not even the slightest orientation for facing the sword.
Like many girls, Thearesia held no interest in the sword.
It was not a matter of competency. Unmotivated swordsmanship, shiftless training accompanied with a defiant attitude. It was unsurprising that her parents would eventually come to notice it was futile to make her keep swinging the sword if she continued to act like this.
ーーThe『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』was bestowed only upon those who had proven themselves worthy of receiving the love of the Sword God.
Generations were witness, only the members of the Astrea family were capable of inheriting the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』. At the very least, that was what the common belief was, since no actual details regarding the inheritance of the Divine Protection were known.
It was only when the swordsman faced the sword with absolute earnestness, that the Divine Protection recognised him and bestowed itself upon him.
A girl child, possessing no interest in the sword, the firstborn daughter who continued to avert her eyes away.
It was all an inevitable course of events that as the possibility of Thearesia being the『Sword Saint』quickly diminished to abandonment, her greed of freedom was permitted.
Thearesia forcibly snatched her freedom from the sword training, but she too, had her own respective say with regards to it.
Of course, both her absolute disinterest in the『Sword Saint』, and failure to devote herself to the sword were causes for the shiftlessness of her training, but her greatest cause was unrelated to these.
ーーThearesia was aware that she had been born with the『Divine Protection of Death God』.
The wounds she would inflict onto others would ceaselessly bleed, incapable of healing.
Upon realising her forte lay in taking the lives of others, what took birth within a young Thearesia, was the dread of what could result from her very palms.
Something like sword training was perfect for augmenting her horror.
Let it be simply practice or training, Thearesia’s Divine Protection, over which she had no control, would pay no regard to the situation. Even if the wound she may inflict were to be as meagre as a scratch, the fact that it shan’t heal made it no trivial affair.
Especially considering that a wound which might accidentally get inflicted during sword practice could prove to be deadly.
Henceforth, liberated from the sword training, the secretive Thearesia felt alleviated.
To live without hurting others, was something astoundingly difficult should one remain conscious of it.
Even if one were not to intentionally, actively seek to hurt others, accidental mishaps or unwitting deeds could be committed by anyone. How could she ever determine whether the Divine Protection would activate or not, in case of getting a cut on the finger due to a piece of shattered dish.
The young girl named Thearesia, inadvertently eluded from having relationships with people.
If she never made contact, if she never came close, she would not have to worry about hurting people. She naturally evaded gazes, and started spending more and more time with flowers.
Having attained the freedom to discard the sword, she made a flower bed in the garden of her mansion for solitarily herself, growing seasonal blossoms there, she became a girl who loved admiring them.
Her brothers who used to swing the sword in utter distress, were repeatedly subject to strenuous and agonizing training.
It wasn’t as if she did not feel left out or sorry for them, seeing their figures. Merely unable to communicate about her Divine Protection, the only ones she could confide in were solely the flowers her own self had nurtured.
“I wonder, if someday, even I would be able to live by someone’s side……”
Her distress, her doubts, the only ones she could confide such feelings of hers in were solely the flowers as well, as their petals danced to the rhythm of the gentle breeze.
Like many people, Thearesia too was an ordinary young girl who desired to love, and to be loved.
However, days of soliloquy as she questioned whether her self, who had flouted the intents of her brothers or her parents, and had the awareness of a Divine Protection that may hurt and rob someone, had the right to stand by someone’s side, met no end.
ーーIn the midst of such days, the love of the Sword God was showered upon Thearesia.
“ーー? Could it be, that I got chosen?”
Without warning, that cognisance dawned upon Thearesia.
It enshrouded her far more akin to a sense of incongruity rather than consciousness like that of her『Divine Protection of Death God』.
It was natural.
To her, awareness of the Divine Protection she had been born with was a matter of course, like eyes providing vision, and ears providing hearing.
Something like suddenly gaining a new Divine Protection would feel something like the emergence of wings on her back. What could she possibly greet novel faculties that originally did not exist with, except for incongruity.
ーーI must not, take the sword in my hands.
So thought Thearesia, harbouring abhorrence and nausea towards her new Divine Protection.
She thought back to the times when she had been coerced to swing the sword. She realised how pointless, meaningless, senseless and aimless her actions had been back then.
She was now instinctively able to apprehend how to swing the sword the best, the optimum, the ideal, the finest way.
Her self, whose forte lay very much in killing people, now fully gained the proficiency in killing people.
This was terror. This was despair. This was the day the world ended.
Kneeling down, she came to realise that she was a death god who had taken the form of a girl, and that her days of impersonating a young girl had come to an end.
Thearesia did not tell anyone about the Divine Protection she had obtained.
She intended to conceal her possession of the『Divine Protection of Death God』and the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』for all eternity, and hide it within her heart that she was a monster whose only purpose was to kill others.
Imploring that she was unwell, she shut herself in her room in the mansion.
Forgetting to look after even her flower bed, Thearesia hid within her shell. Doing naught but sleeping, painting a childish reverie that if only one day upon awakening out of breathlessness, that it would all turn out as a dream, she continued to enclose herself in her shell.
But that was ultimately, just the immaturity of a child, refusing to face what she did not wish to face.
ーーIt immediately became clear, that Thearesia had inherited the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』.
“Nii-san…… The next『Sword Saint』, is your daughter. This child.”
The head house of the Astrea familyーー Thearesia’s birthplace, and the base of the family line of『Sword Saints』.
Stepping foot into mansion, revealing that Thearesia, curled up in her bed, would be the next『Sword Saint』was her uncle, the preceding『Sword Saint』.
The『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』was an exceptional Divine Protection, capable of only being inherited by members of the Astrea family, with this trend continuing for generations.
That Divine Protection was inherited by the next『Sword Saint』from the preceding『Sword Saint』on a certain day without any prior notice. And once the inheritance was completed, the previous『Sword Saint』was freed from his responsibility, and lost the Divine Protection.
Once the current『Sword Saint』lost the Divine Protection, it was natural that the identity of the of the next『Sword Saint』would be searched for thoroughly by the kingdom.
And the previous『Sword Saint』could identify who the next『Sword Saint』was at a single glance.
Thearesia’s days of enclosure met their end.
“Take the sword in your hands, Thearesia.”
Having become dreadfully skinny, her hair in shambles, Thearesia was dragged out into the garden.
Barefooted, in sleepwear, with her consciousness drifting between dreams and reality, yet there she was, dragged outside by her uncle by force, and coerced into holding the wooden sword.
With her now skinny fingers, she gestured her resistance along with shaking her head several times.
However, the protests of her opposed self went unheard. Her uncle made her regrip the wooden sword again and again, pushing Thearesia’s back once she clutched the handle in surrender.
Before Thearesia, stood the eldest brother of the four siblings.
Her eldest brother, his features tender and amiable, stood there with an addled expression. His puzzlement could be understood at a glance, unable to accept the events transpiring before his eyes.
ーーFar too many unknowns.
Pondering so, Thearesia was startled by her own self ruminating so.
That confoundment directly smiting her heart, Thearesia simply kept her eyes open, speechless.
Ignoring Thearesia and her condition, her uncle called to her eldest brother in a deep voice.
To hold the wooden sword, and clash with Thearesia head-on, he ordered. To prove his abilities of swordsmanship by striking down and defeating his younger sister, he ordered.
There is no way he could do that, her eldest brother clamoured.
Her brother was very kind. He had trained strenuously with the sword, and held no dubiety in the way of the Astrea family, but her brother could be nothing but kind towards his younger sister, Thearesia.
She was afraid of hurting him, so she was never the one to initiate physical contact, but she loved being hugged and held up in her brother’s arms and that large body of his. He was a kind, kind brother.
Then echoed the damning voice of her uncle, calling her brother a coward.
Upon the deride of the preceding『Sword Saint』, her brother made an expression terribly hurt by his words, who admired his form. Thearesia knew who it was that her eldest brother, her elder brother, and her younger brother admired and had thus continued to swing the sword.
Reviled by that person, her eldest brother was immensely wounded. Her two other brothers, standing at the edge of the garden having also come outside by hearing all the commotion, also made similarly hurt faces.
Ultimately, her eldest brother, preserving a wounded visage, wielded dreadful readiness in his eyes.
Straightening the wooden sword he held in his hands, ceding all his energy into it, he set his eyes upon his target.
Through the shivers in the tip of his sword, and a certain sharpness in her eldest brother’s eyes, Thearesia discerned.
Her brother, sought to knock down Thearesia’s sword using the wooden sword clutched in his own hands such that she would remain unscathed. His stance, his line of sight, and the essence of swordsmanship enveloping his body all conveyed so.
At her brother’s level of skill, it would certainly not be a difficult task against an inferior opponent.
Ample to prove his ability as a swordsman and taking the sword away from Thearesia.
Her uncle vociferated, marking the beginning of a spar neither side wished to partake in.
Her eldest brother bellowed vigorously, as the honed essence of swordsmanship slashed into Thearesia.
Swordsmanship with solely the strength to dwindle the opponent and controlling their movements. If she were not to even upraise her sword, it would be a facile affair to knock the wooden sword down.
From the onset, the very foundation of this fight was erroneous.
Neither did Thearesia possess any reason to fight, nor did her brother possess any reason to hurt Thearesia. With the interests of both the sides aligned, there shan’t be any discord.
There shan’t be, yetーー,
A wooden sword, that had been sent flying, landed on the garden some distance away, echoing a report.
Return to the awestruck voice of her uncle, and what was visible was the figure of Thearesia, the wooden sword in her hand lunged forward, and its edge touching the throat of her staggered brother, who let out a hoarse exhale.
ーーShe recalled intercepting her brother’s sword strike descending upon her, and taking his wooden sword away.
She then appended the edge of her sword to his neck, conveying she could kill him at any instant, proving the disparity between their proficiency.
Expressions stunned, everyone was watching over the results in disbelief.
“The next『Sword Saint』is Thearesia. Indeed, unquestionably.”
An aver, only the solitary voice of her uncle echoed, exceedingly unavailingly so.
“Ah…… ah, a~h……”
Thearesia dropped the wooden sword she held, glanced at her hand, and then proceeded to pull her red hair with the same. Pulling them off so violently that she would bleed, giving rise to a wail akin to that of a beast, she screamed.
Screaming, losing sanity, despairing to the extent of vomiting blood, regretting.
Thearesia, became the『Sword Saint』.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
The time her brothers had devoted to the sword, Thearesia’s virtuosity with the sword had callously trampled upon all of it.
Things like time and effort dedicated held no purport whatsoever in face of overwhelming sword prowess.
In Thearesia’s eyes, having become the『Sword Saint』, the flaws in her brothers’ swords were pellucid. She was now rather surprised, for failing to notice these flaws at an earlier note despite spending so much time with them.
Nonetheless, in spite of the manifest disparity between their strength and Thearesia’s, her brothers continued to pitiably train with the sword.
Neither her eldest brother, nor her second elder brother, nor her younger brother possessed passion for anything other than the sword.
Because of having been born into the Astrea family, having grown up in a distinguished household esteemed for their swords, and having dedicated much of their life to the sword, thus even if their younger sister, his elder sister robbed them of their zenith, they had no choice but to continue resuming forth.
Despite knowing, that they could never possibly reach that territory.
“ーーHow, truly stupid.”
She couldn’t help but conceive that thought.
They could just do what they loved, and yet. Even though the sword did not even matter anymore, and yet.
Since they could no longer forgive Thearesia, they could just live in worlds of their own liking, and yet.
“Thearesia-sama, preparations for leaving are complete. It’s about time, we ought to head out now.”
As Thearesia gazed out the window, observing her brothers swinging their swords in the garden below, a voice called to her.
Turn around and ahead stood a young girl of identical age as her, her beautiful blonde hair cut short.
She was Carol Remendisーー a member of the Remendis family, acclaimed for its superlative knights, and acknowledged for her exceptional swordsmanship, she had been appointed as Thearesia’s attendant as one of close age.
Verily, her abilities as a swordsman were indeed exceptional.
Though a comparison she would rather not pronounce, her sword might could rival that of her elder brothers.
A solemn personality, and a devout of swordsmanship, she could not help but feel uneasy as a fellow female.
“Yes, let’s go. For today we have the tutoring of the people of the castle, isn’t it.”
“Yes. Everyone in the castle also has their hopes up for being educated by Thearesia-sama. Though of course, I also hold the same sentiment.”
“……I think you are sufficiently strong, Carol.”
“Not at all. Someone as myself, is incapable of even reaching the feet of Thearesia-sama.”
So elucidated Carol her own ability, as though denigrating herself.
An exceedingly idiosyncratic appraisal by Thearesia’s perspective. After all, Thearesia had never even once, upheld the sword before Carol until now. No, that was far from everything.
Thearesia’s hands had last held a sword on the day she sparred with her eldest brother using wooden swords.
For more than two years since, Thearesia lay not even a finger upon the sword.
Nonetheless, the responsibilities as the『Sword Saint』came to pass.
Her own self being the『Sword Saint』alone was a truth beyond veil. She couldn’t go as far as to inconvenience the entirety of the Astrea family, so she was willing to perform solely her duties diligently.
“It shall be understood upon seeing what ought to be seen. Even if I have not gotten the opportunity of seeing that form, should Thearesia-sama take the sword in her hands, she shall surely haul out strength unrivalled by anyone.”
She gave a wry smile in response to Carol’s conviction.
In her company, Thearesia went to tutor on-duty soldiers. Even in the name of tutoring, she had not achieved anything remarkable.
She would simply go around and have them wield their weapons and train, and point out flaws in their battling as always, nothing unusual.
A fearsome aspect of the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』was perhaps how it honed all instincts in battle. This did not pertain solely to swords. Let it be spears or axes, were they connected to battle techniques and manoeuvres, Thearesia was aware of the entirety of their strengths and weaknesses alike.
If the soldiers’ mistakes were pointed out to them one by one, their movements would alter to an indiscernible degree.
However, from Thearesia’s perspective, though unmistakably conduct abound in defects, even that smidgen of an alteration marked an immense difference for those untalented. Thearesia bore guilt when she was thanked, respected, esteemed.
“I want to run away, right this instant.
I want to go away, from this place, a place where this power unwished for is requisite.”
Just as when she had undertaken the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』, Thearesia despaired for the present.
She lapsed into shutting herself in her room, enclosing herself in her shell, seeking to hope for the tides of fate to change direction.
ーーIt may have been punishment cast upon her, for weighing her own desires onto others, for escaping her liabilities.
In the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica, occurred a clash with the Great Demi-Human Alliance.
Deeply tied to the custom of discrimination against demi-humans that remained pronounced within the kingdom, in but a heartbeat, it intertwined with multitudinous years’ worth of discontentment of the demi-humans in the kingdom and flared up.
The greatest and worst civil war in the history of the kingdom, the『Demi-Human War』broke out.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Originating from the east of the kingdom, this civil war worsened by the passing day.
A small force of demi-humans at first, one which seemed easily suppressible, but the kingdom made light of the depth of relationships between demi-humans behind closed doors.
Furthermore, there seemed to exist those acting as intermediaries between respective races lacking relations, and the blaze of the civil war distended its radius in an instant.
The flaring vortex of warfare ceaselessly permeated the kingdom, and after an entire year of fruitless attempts of extinguishing these flames, the kingdom acknowledged this was a situation unprecedented at last.
“Inform Thearesia van Astrea, the current『Sword Saint』. Along with the knights and soldiers currently scuffling to subdue the civil war, great feats are expected by the lord as well.”
The higher aristocrats, who put together a force unlike anything before, having accepted it as a predicament of the entire kingdom, could not possibly save the strongest being videlicet the『Sword Saint』for last.
As a matter of course, Thearesia was also informed of the orders for partaking in the civil war.
ーーThearesia attained unprecedented despair at the arrival of the conforming inevitable.
This was unlike her days of selfishly refusing to take the sword.
What was expected of her now was not to wield the knowledge as the『Sword Saint』, but to wield true swordsmanship and might as the『Sword Saint』.
She had no choice, but to grasp the sword.
This was also the first time she had been accorded the Dragon Sword Reid, which solely the『Sword Saint』was allowed to wield across generations.
“However, that sword can be drawn only when it is fit to be drawn. I believe you will have to carry another sword aside from that one too. You can choose one as per your suitability.”
Her uncle, the former『Sword Saint』, gave her advice from seeming experience.
Her uncle, whose waist was once saddled with the Dragon Sword, was acquainted with the whimsical nature of the sword. Abiding by her uncle’s advice, Thearesia chose a single-swing longswordーー one also favoured and of habitual use by Carol, her attendant, after seeing through at once as having good compatibility with herself.
ーーIn her first battle, Thearesia’s first unit consisted of Carol, along with her brothers and her uncle as well.
Thearesia’s first battle from her perspective, though she wouldn’t go as far as to call it an opportunity for honour and altruism.
Even so, it was indisputably an event she mustn’t avert her eyes from. An ideal opportunity to make the sword of the current generation Astrea family known across the kingdom.
No matter Thearesia’s state of mind and heart, her surroundings progressed capriciously.
Anyone and everyone nursed an arbitrary expectation, that defeat was impossible should the『Sword Saint』be there.
The unrestrained, insensitive faith by those surrounding her which fusilladed upon her, terrorised Thearesia.
As always, divulging it to no one, repressing it within her heart, Thearesia simply, earnestly trembled prior to her first battle.
And, in the midst of her plightーー,
“Are you scared, Thearesia?”
Yes, the one to reach out to her with this bening voice was nobody else but her eldest brother.
As she awaited her first unit and battle in a tent, her tender brother’s words rendered Thearesia astound.
Thearesia had purposively been avoiding contact with her eldest brother.
No, her eldest brother had not been the only one she had been avoiding. Her second elder brother, her younger brother, as well as her parents and her uncle, she had desisted from coming into contact with all of them.
After a span of nigh two years, she exchanged words with her kind, truly beloved brother.
Lost for words, Thearesia could do naught but resume looking downwards.
However, her brother sat down next to Thearesia, a forlorn expression bedizening her face, proceeding to hug her and gently caress her head.
Her brother’s palm, yet the same as before, confounded Thearesia.
“I am well aware, that you harbour a feeling of indebtedness towards me or the rest of our brothers. It’s not like I didn’t think anything after losing to you that way either. But……”
Severing his words, her brother showed her a faint smile.
That was her brother’s very smile, one which Thearesia had continually looked up to, time and again.
“You are my precious little sister. So if you think you don’t want to, if you are scared…… then I must protect you. Because I, am your big brother.”
Tears overflowed. She mustn’t leak any cavils.
More than anyone else, nobody else but him, solely the brother whom she had defeated with her own hands, mustn’t hear it. So she believed, yet she made that brother repudiate it.
“After losing to you, it was vexing, there were times I even considered quitting. But, even still, I loved the sword after all. I am grateful that I was born into this family, I had our little brothers, and I had you, my little sister. I am grateful, to the sword.”
“That’s why I, am glad that I swung the sword.”
How, truly foolish her thoughts had been, Thearesia was enlightened to her own idiocy.
Watching her brothers pursue training with the sword even after their defeat against her, she thought that they had no alternative path, because they were ignorant regarding all else, they were swinging the sword and continued to cling to the sword since they had no choice, surmising so, she looked down upon them.
That he should just do whatever he loved, Thearesia arbitrarily put her brother on her own scale and conjectured about him.
The brother she ought to have looked up to, ought to have esteemed and respected, whom she dearly loved, she mocked him on sole terms of swordsmanship.
Who was stupid here. She was far more stupid here. And, the Sword God himself was utmost stupid here.
Why, did he not shower his love upon a human, who loved him this much.
Why, did he bless a human like herself, who continued to avert from the sword.
Her brother, or other people like her brother were the ones upon whom that blessing rightfully should have hailed upon, yet.
“There is no need, for you to fight. ーーAfter all, you are a kind girl, who wouldn’t dare kill even an insect.”
Dreading the might of the『Divine Protection of Death God』, she had lived her life making certain she hurt no one or no thing.
Her brother’s understanding was slightly unalike, but her brother had been kind enough to understand this state and way of his little sister.
This granted her such joyfulness, for her heart trembled the most in these past many years.
In the end, she presumed upon him. She cried to him, clung to him, in the end, she entrusted all up to her brother.
ーーIn this Thearesia’s first battle, her brother perished protecting their troop headquarters.
Not even once, did Thearesia swing the sword. She could not.
And once again, for years to come, never did Thearesia ever even so slightly touch the sword.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
ーーIt had been five years since the Demi-Human War started, and Thearesia had turned nineteen.
The『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』remained unvarying, resuming to silently breathe within her.
Yet the pivotal Thearesia drifted away from opportunities of brandishing that force, abstaining from involvement with the civil war en route deterioration, spending her days sedate and lackadaisical.
Thearesia’s first battle, where she had been unable to battle.
The war front anticipating the『Sword Saint’s』strenuous efforts utterly crumbled, and amidst martyred her eldest brother. Disconcerted by the impact of her brother’s death, Thearesia was thereon rendered incapable of touching the sword.
The actuality of the current generation『Sword Saint』having such a dishonourable first battle was entirely concealed from the public. The existence of the『Sword Saint』also stood as a spiritual pillar for the kingdom. They could not possibly reveal she had wept and cried on her first battle, and had enclosed herself away upon letting her brother die.
Henceforth, without letting the public be aware of it, Thearesia’s dishonour was erased from all records.
Furthermore, as Thearesia enclosed herself without fulfilling her duties as the『Sword Saint』, her second elder brother and younger brother hurled themselves into the battlefield, seeking to battle in a way that shan’t dishonour the name of the Astrea family, and perished.
Her eldest brother, kind to a fault, who would listen to any wish of her’s with a troubled expression, as well.
Her second elder brother, who was slightly mean, but was always the first one to apologize when they made up, as well.
Her younger brother, adorable and endearing, a scaredy-cat and a crybaby who would always walk behind her, following her path, as well.
All of them lost their lives, fighting in Thearesia’s stead, who failed to do so.
“ーーI made you go through a lot of things you didn’t want to, didn’t I. Sorry, Thearesia.”
Her uncle, the former『Sword Saint』who was the source of motivation for their troops, also martyred.
Fighting battles after battles, pushing through his injuries, and finally acting as the rear unit guard of retreating friendly troops, martyring heroically was what it had been.
It was not as though she didn’t hold anything against her uncle.
Had it not been for her uncle’s revelation, perhaps nobody could have ever realised that Thearesia had inherited the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』. Had that never been brought to light, her brothers may not have had to resolve themselves for their own deaths in this civil war, and may not have died.
In that course of thought, she surely did harbour a grudge against him. She did, but she also felt like she didn’t.
Her uncle must have himself known better than anyone else, the weight of the title of『Sword Saint』. Since he was the previous『Sword Saint』, naturally, the same things must have been sought from her uncle as they were from Thearesia.
In his personal way, he must have acted for the optimum operation of the name of the『Sword Saint』for both the kingdom, as well as Thearesia.
Should that not work, then there were the words he said whilst parting ways when she met him for the final time.
Hearing those words, Thearesia was no longer able to resent her uncle.
Thus, if she were to look for someone to resent, the only option left was solely herself.
Her weak self, doing naught but weep and cry, despite inheriting the title of something like the『Sword Saint』.
“Thearesia-sama is someone who will surely stand one day. That time has simply not arrived yet.”
Carol, her associate, never did once try to abandon Thearesia, who was engulfed in the repeated deaths of her loved ones, her brothers and her uncle.
Baring her first unit and battle to unsightly defeat, proceeding to drift away from following opportunities due to childish selfishness, the now solitarily enclosed Thearesia, within her shell, was someone Carol yet strived to have faith in.
Nowadays, there were even such instances that she undertook even the orders given to Thearesia from the royal castle in her stead, exposing her own self to hazard.
Yet, despite knowing how perilous a bridge Carol was treading, Thearesia failed to respond to her feelings.
Yet was her self, blessed with the talent of killing people.
Her self had never, ever even envisioned there shall come a day wherein she shall agonize over her inability to kill people. Nowhere could she find, a reason to fight. She couldn’t possibly, fight.
Once away from Carol’s monitoring, Thearesia aimlessly left the mansion and started walking in the capital.
It had been five years and the civil war yet resumed without cease, and the capital’s vibrancy too had been desaturated, as a somewhat dreary atmosphere proliferated across. With no bright topics about, neither shall any gleam glisten the expressions of people. Naturally, avoiding crowded locations, Thearesia sought solitude.
The place which Thearesia had recently taken a liking for and frequented her trips to, was an unfinished block of land in close vicinity from the capital.
A block of land whose construction had been thrown aside midway through the process with the onset of the civil war. Through aisles and paths befitting of the descriptor narrow, and through gaps of buildings suitable for being labelled ruins, she headed towards the area deep behind.
Faintly opening up, the space unworthy of even being categorised as an open plaza, was Thearesia’s favourite.
Her heart wouldn’t become particularly ebullient. However, this bare space idly existing amidst all this desolation, felt alike and conforming with the state of her own heart and simply calmed her.
In the morning breeze, cool and fresh to an ironic extent, Thearesia headed for the back of the area.
Sitting on a flight to stone steps connecting to no place, what could be seen on the other side was a spanning flower garden with abounding yellow blooms.
The rays of the sun shining in, and soil unnecessarily adequate for the growth of flowers.
In this clandestine setting beyond the calls of anyone, Thearesia had deftly sown the seeds of these flowers. She was scarce of willpower to tend to the flower beds back in the mansion which had entirely withered.
But, she did solely bear at least the sentiment of watching over the results of the flower seeds she had whimsically sown.
“I haven’t even watered you…… yet you have grown this much.”
Flowers, are strong.
Whilst Thearesia reflected on her own weaknesses, the flowers, gazing only towards the sky, their petals unfurled, bloomed in arrant magnificence.
She formerly admired their splendour, but now harboured longing for their strength.
There were things in her heart that welled up, and she verged onto crying.
Her hand on the canthi of her eyes unwittingly warming, she frantically suppressed her tears.
ーーSuch was the moment, when a honed presence drew close.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
A swordsman, had barged into Thearesia’s morning sanctuary.
Verging on showing her tears, Thearesia articulated so, deliberately in an attempt to act strong. And then, she glanced at the one standing in the plaza.
She saw, and was completely wonderstruck.
Trimmed brown hair, elegant yet fierce eyes, a flexible, slim and fit body, and his brimming clear skin dazzling so bright to a frightening extent.
It was a fact that his attitude, affable by no means, possessed astonishing traits.
However, what had astonished Thearesia at that moment was not anything so trifling.
ーーTo Thearesia, the youth was visible as though a single unsheathed sword.
She felt as if firm, sharp steel moulded with heat itself had his eyes upon her.
In face of that phantasm, Thearesia’s heartbeats faintly tangled. Placing a hand on her chest, Thearesia contemplated what had happened to her.
However, she simply thought she did not wish for the youth to discern this entanglement of her heartbeats.
Henceforth, in order to veil that, Thearesia pronounced.
“So, there are people who would come here this early in the morning. All the way hereーー”
Quite the greeting, that was.
Thearesia spoke to him sociably, but the youth narrowed his eyes, as though sharp, honed essence of swordsmanship piercing her. An essence of swordsmanship so stable and prime, that it did not seem like a threat.
Perhaps he perceived Thearesia as unpleasant, an indication of his desire to repel her.
Abruptly, it became unentertaining.
If that was the card he was going to play, then neither would Thearesia hold anything back. She shall forge it into him that the essence of swordsmanship he was so proud of, was kaput.
“……Did something happen? You’re making such a scary face.”
At Thearesia’s words, the youth made an expression as if he had tasted an under-shoulder swing down.
He seemed to have judged Thearesia as a laywoman at swordsmanship, and not just that, at fighting entirely and nothing more. The truth was, he was not wrong.
Thearesia lacked any experience of actual fighting, nor did she possess any records of swinging the sword.
For she was a young girl inevitably a laywoman, supposed to be stronger than anyone else shall she fight.
“What’s a woman doing here so early in the morning.”
The youth responded, his words crass and insolent.
The voice of the youth, having heard it for the first time, was sullen yet simple and easy to listen to.
ーーAnd once again, she felt the rhythm of her heartbeats go a shade off-note.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Ever since, Thearesia and the youth started seeing each other often.
It apparently seemed the youth used to come to the plaza on fixed holidays.
It did seem like he was bothered by Thearesia’s presence, but never forced her to vacate nonetheless. Perhaps he regarded approaching her as being a greater bother.
Thearesia used to walk up to the plaza, in order to view that yellow flower garden.
There were times the youth was the first one to arrive, whereas on other instances, Thearesia came first. Whilst Thearesia seated herself on the stone steps and beheld the flower garden, the youth devoted himself to training with the sword, his sword of prime quality, and these activities became the promise between the two, who used to spend time in that location.
A secretive glimpse at the swords dance of the youth.
Inadvertently, she verged on leaking a sigh. For Thearesia to observe the swordsmanship of others, and feel this way, was something exceptionally rareーー no, this may have been the first time.
She had initially bore revulsion toward the form of the youth gripping the sword.
Rather than the youth being at fault, it was an issue of Thearesia’s own disposition of heart. She shall get chased away even from the refuge of comfort she had finally gained. Such pathetic anxieties, were overwritten the day she first witnessed the swords dance of the youth.
The sword which the youth swung, couldn’t be appraised as refined even for the sake of flattery.
In the eyes of Thearesia, who possessed the『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』, there present were easily discernible imperfections in it as well. Being revolted by the far too many a blemish in the swords of others was also a bad habit of Thearesia’s, but in the youth’s case, despite the presence of said flaws, his passion alone more than amply made up for them.
Thearesia’s brothers too, must have devoted their entirety to the sword as well.
Even when it pertained to the swords of her brothers, elder or younger, Thearesia failed to remain without revulsion.
Yet, why did she not feel simply the same in the youth’s sword.
The answer to that, was simple to a staggering extent.
ーーThere were absolutely no impurities in the sword of the youth.
Dedicating, devoting everything, to the sword.
Easily put and expressed in words, and until now Thearesia believed her brothers had done the same, truly outrageous.
Right here existed the fervour of the youth who, truly, possessed nothing but the sword.
He had naught but the sword. He loved naught but the sword. He shall love naught but the sword, a single swing of steel.
Observing the youth’s swordsmanship beside, Thearesia felt warmth enter her cheeks.
Thearesia was the『Sword Saint』. Immersed in the love of the Sword God, a being made to stand atop the pinnacle of the sword.
Ahead of his unrelenting goal, stood her.
Although it was unquestionably her own delusion, she felt as though he sought for her.
The『Sword Saint』Thearesia, could comprehend everything about the sword with but a glance.
She could perceive its essence and quintessence, no matter what kind of treasured sword, magic sword, dulled sword, or even a Dragon Sword it was. She could freely manoeuvre them all. There existed no steel unbare within Thearesia’s hands.
He was the only one.
He was the only steel, who shan’t bend per Thearesia’s free will.
He was a sword, yet his limits could not be determined by her self, who was the『Sword Saint』.
That was indubitably why, her self had grown to care so much about him.
“It’s Wilhelm Trias.”
Three months after meeting him, she had exchanged names with the youthーー Wilhelm.
Even though they had happened upon each other on a multitude of occasions, never did they once inquire about each other’s names.
The truth was, Thearesia had awaited the opportunity several times, but Wilhelm wholly failed to notice that wish. They had finally managed to exchange names solely because Thearesia got impatient and initiated it, Wilhelm merely gave the appropriate response.
“I had called you the “flower woman” in my mind till now.”
Just how impolite could he be, this man.
His words had not a fragment of solicitude, nor his mind preoccupied with his own self possessing no regard for her, conversed for a bit and upon satisfaction arbitrarily returned back, so Thearesia’s heart was nothing but toyed around with.
“Do you like flowers?”
“No, I hate them.”
This was his reply, despite seeing the magnificence of Thearesia’s special flower garden so many times.
Undoubtedly, he was incapable of merely playing along with the other party or uplifting their spirits.
Despite feeling angst toward that, she could not help but ponder “But, this is precisely what makes him such a sword-esque person too……”.
During these times, the realisation of the existence of her self who was saved, by the presence of a sword that shan’t alter the way she wished it to, to whom something like the『Sword Saint』was nothing noteworthy, eluded Thearesia.
“ーーWhy, do you swing the sword?”
Ever since they exchanged names, the words they exchanged commenced varying as well.
They used to talk about flowers, followed by other miscellaneous topics, then parted ways. What conceived malaise in their usual exchanges, was surely due to the dolefulness on that day.
The attempts to subdue the Demi-Human War had failed, and Thearesia had heard about the skirmishes on the battlefield.
Scattered across the kingdom, the demi-humans who were at the core behind all of the destruction precipitating were outstandingly strong, and among them was a『Witch』commanding immense supernatural strength, whose existence had also been confirmed, is what she had heard.
She abruptly became uneasy.
Long before, she had heard from Wilhelm that he was a soldier for the kingdom. He was, regardless, an extraordinary swordsman. In addition, his eyes seemed terribly starved for blood.
A kingdom jostled by civil war, he was truly suitable to be its soldierーー regardless, he was not undefeatable whatsoever. He may cease coming to this morning plaza someday.
This disquietude, made Thearesia enquire.
Putting a finish to his swords dance, the sweaty Wilhelm straightforwardly focused into Thearesia’s eyes. He then paused and contemplated for a brief moment, and shrugged his shoulders, gesturing how foolish he deemed her enquiry as,
“Because this, is all I have.”
So he responded, befitting of a single swing of steel.
That was truly, the answer Thearesia had precisely hoped for, and yet.
Thearesia became cognizant, of the sensation of her chest being whittled by trepidation and isolation.
“Have you come to like flowers?”
“No, I hate them.”
“Why do you swing the sword?”
“Because this, is all I have.”
As time went by, it had become a solemn promise between the two, to assuredly reiterate this exchange alone.
Thearesia herself, did not know what answer she sought to the unremitting, recurrent questions. She was unaware whether it was fine to be soothed by the answers remaining unchanged, or whether she ought to anticipate alteration in his self who resumed being like unvarying steel, she knew naught.
Imprudently leaving things she did not know the way they were, was the very essence of Thearesia.
Just as how she, whilst entrusted with the title of the『Sword Saint』, had sent her brothers to their deaths, had saddled Carol with responsibilities, and now continued to live a time of indolence.
That is why, change always payed a call, all whilst ostracizing Thearesia from itself.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
The one to reach that area first, normally used to be Thearesia.
Wilhelm’s visits, which had been irregular previously, were also consistent now, and the words they had to exchange with each other were also fully prepared.
Thearesia had lately also come to realise, how immaturely she had treated the existence of the sword.
By exchanging worlds with Wilhelm, by having her eyes upon he who had dedicated his everything to the sword, Thearesia was briefly able to forget the weight on her shoulders as the 『Sword Saint』.
She had been enchanted by him because she was the 『Sword Saint』, she had been saved by him calling being the 『Sword Saint』 was nonsense.
Whether she wanted to be the 『Sword Saint』, or did not, both of them would be dishonesty on her part.
As she continued to dive into the lukewarm water lacking an answer, soaking guilt embraced her.
Despite both of her desires, she wanted to be able to forget his existence.
As usual, Thearesia looked back, sensing the easy-to-sense presence.
Standing on the entrance of the square, was the youth of the sword.
Without thinking, her lips moved, and Thearesia smiled at him.
That was the moment, when her emotions broke down.
With his eyes turned away, as his lips shivered, Wilhelm put his trembling fingers on his face. Thearesia herself was astonished to see his dramatic response, and tasted an impact.
Thearesia rushed over to him, who was covering his face, wondering what she should apologize for. However, she did not know what she should say.
Till now, Thearesia had refused to come in contact with people if it meant she would not hurt them.
That is why, when she would hurt someone’s heart, she did not know how to treat it either.
She despaired. At her own self, who did not know how to, and neither ever tried to know how to.
At her own self, who was unable to voice any words, in front of the hurt Wilhelm.
Without knowing what she should perhaps say, Thearesia’s fingers reached for Wilhelm. Just how long had it been, since she had initiated physical contact with anyone.
Afraid of wounding others, she had refused to touch anyone.
Even still, at this moment, she was much more afraid of not touching him.
Thearesia embraced Wilhelm’s fingers, which were covering his face. While he trembled terribly helplessly, they tasted unbelievable heat, and she noticed.
Swords, steel, when exposed to such incredible heat, turn into further strengthened steel.
Wilhelm was a sword that always struck first, but he was, in no way, one that was complete.
And now, Wilhelm was receiving this heat, and was changing like steel.
For that, it was now expected of Thearesia to take the role of striking the steel.
ーーIf she was dealing with a sword, then she, the 『Sword Saint』, was supposed to know that.
In the case of this person, in the case of this sword, she must have had wanted to know that.
“Have you, come to like flowers?”
Naturally, she voiced her usual question.
If there was someone else here aside from these two, they may have deemed her words as stupid, as they would have expected her to say something consoling. Amidst these two, however, this was for the better.
“…….I don’t, hate them.”
And, a different response came for her unchanged question.
That is what the Thearesia of back then thought about this.
Someday, when Wilhelm’s response will change, won’t the feeling that Thearesia would be left to taste be that of despair, despondency, and dread?
That was not the case. She only loved his changed self.
That is what the Thearesia of back then, thought about this.
“Why, do you swing the sword?”
That is why, surely, the answer to this question would also be different.
And possibly, that answer could be the one that would save Thearesiaーー,
“Because this is all…… I could think of for a way to protect.”
The sword was the only one, is what Wilhelm answered.
Yes, for this person, the sword was the only one.
It is alright, because he is that kind of a person. It is alright for this person.
ーーThat’s all it was, there lay no necessity for regular interaction between the two of them.
However, that did not mean that they had lost opportunities to exchange a word or two at the square.
Rather, if we were to speak of exchanging words, instances of that happening had increased more than before.
Wilhelm, who came to the square for practicing with the sword, came to prioritize speaking to Thearesia above swinging his sword.
Sitting on an upraised surface, her ears intently listened to the words of Wilhelm, who would always bring up meagre topics. Hopelessly bad topics, which she couldn’t even put an end to, however, she felt pleasant by simply hearing his voice.
“There was talk of conferral, and I become a knight.”
With a look filled with heat, he mentioned the topic for the day.
Thearesia had always kept distance from people, so she wasn’t the best at socialising, but she was not so stupid that she would not understand the meaning of the words of the youth, who had voiced them after mustering up such courage.
A mere commoner, working hard and becoming a knight thanks to his efforts and going out to the battlefield, was unquestionably impressive.
Just how many feats the Sword Demon, Wilhelm Trias had accomplished, was something she was painfully well-aware of, as the cowardly 『Sword Saint』.
She wondered what could the reason be, for him to gain the honour of a knight on top of even that.
“Is that so, congratulations. Then you’ve gotten one step closer to your dream.”
Knowing his real intentions for that, Thearesia responded with a deliberately positive attitude.
It was unavoidable for her to blush in that tone. Using all her strength in order to not let that happen, Thearesia smiled at Wilhelm, who had a questioning expression.
“You wield the sword to protect, don’t you? A knight is someone who protects others.”
At Thearesia’s words, Wilhelm nodded with an expression suggesting he understood what she had said.
Though he’s normally rebellious, sometimes he showed this childishly meek side of his.
ーーShe simply wanted to be one of those existences, whom and which he wanted to protect.
Though she was not so confident about it, she hated herself, for assuring herself about it.
Even though she well understood and realised her own feelings, she found herself, who was unable to act upon them, incredibly, incredibly stupid, repulsive, irredeemable, and henceforth once again, Thearesia made a mistake.
At this point, when she thought about it, she would conclude that never had she once, done anything correctly ever.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Wilhelm stepped onto the battlefield, as his hometown burned to ash.
When Carol, out of breath, reported the steadfast fight being put up by the Sword Demon, Thearesia began to lose her body heat, and almost collapsed to her knees at that very spot.
The pale faced Thearesia could sense Carol’s fright. She could sense it, but her body was unable to increase its energy. She
knew just that, and how hopeless this situation was.
Someone’s out of place voice entered Thearesia’s ears, who had her eyes fixed onto the ground.
It wasn’t Carol’s. Neither was it of anyone in the house. She was acquainted with the voice, as it was someone’s who had always been close to Thearesia, henceforth, she noticed.
It was the sound of the Sword God’s laughter, ridiculing her for her dejected love.
“ーーI have to go.”
Listening to the Sword God’s laughter, Thearesia slowly stood up.
Even now, the sound of the ridicule continued to echo within Thearesia’s ears. However, she was unable to accept losing her everything while being laughed at by the Sword God like this.
She left everything on her eldest brother, and let him die.
She enforced her own responsibility upon her second elder brother, younger brother, and her uncle, and let them die.
But, only himーー only Wilhelm I shall not hand over.
Because that sword, that steel, that person, belongs to me and only me.
“Thearesia-sama……? However, the condition of your body is……”
Carol, who was worried about Thearesia’s body, straightened her back upon the second order. Moving quickly, she immediately made all preparations required for Thearesia.
The battle suit which had not been worn ever since her first battle, and the longsword unacquainted with blood.
“This time, I won’t make a mistake.”
Clenching and swearing to the longsword, Thearesia dashed with Carol and jumped onto the cart.
The number of carts that had come for rescuing Wilhelm, was much more than what Thearesia had expected. These were people who were in the same unit as him, or those who had been formerly saved by them.
Just the figure of that youth, firmly holding his sword, was nowhere to be seen.
By now, that youth had become a treasured sword, attracting a many with his brilliance and sharpness.
ーーThe front lines of Wilhelm’s hometown, had already crumbled down.
Screams of fury echo, as the battlefield was covered by the scent of blood and burn.
Thearesia’s chest nauseated, seeing the terrible scene. She had imagined herself standing on the battlefield several times over, but the reality was much more miserable than anything she could ever expect.
In the battlefield, where wounds are inflicted, lives are taken, blood is shed, it was worthless to prepare beforehand.
“At any rate, search for Wilhelm!”
The one who raised voice, was the one leading the group of fighters, Bordeaux Zellgef. At his rage-filled instruction, his group, wearing rocky armours, moved ahead at once, in unity.
“Thearesia-sama! What should we……”
Echoed the voice of Carol, asking for instructions, but Thearesia was unable to hear it.
Bordeaux’s group clashed with the opposing soldiers, who had destroyed his hometown. Within the intense exchanges of blows, she faintly sensed him.
The moment she noticed, her legs moved.
Thearesia dashed across, leaving no dust behind, in the battlefield, where the fighters were clashing. Without even looking, she knew where to go.
She trode onto the soil, traversed through the heaps of corpses, and headed for the point where screams of rage and death wails overlapped.
And reaching that dark spot, on the other side, Thearesia saw.
In front of the collapsed Wilhelm, stood a green demi-human, with a humongous sword upraised.
With a face dyed red with blood, Wilhelm looked up to the sword. His lips moved. With a frail, weak voice, he muttered.
“I don’t want to, die……”
It’s alright, I said.
She could not hear anything, not anymore.
Thearesia only pondered upon what she had last heard, Wilhelm’s whisper.
She swung the longsword in her hands. It was light.
It made no sound, neither did it make any shockwaves, and it easily sliced away the demi-human’s neck.
She kicked away the huge body holding the sword, so that it didn’t fall on Wilhelm. At the same time, shots, filled with the lust for blood, energetically advanced towards the slender Thearesia.
All of those trajectories, she could sense them. She could read them. On her skin, she could feel them.
Dodging them, Thearesia followed a mysterious ray she could see with her sword.
Suddenly appearing, mysterious white rays were floating in the sky. What was even more mysterious, was the fact that she knew that she should follow the rays with her sword.
Following, following, her sword glided on the white rays.
Her sword glissaded like wind, and subsequently slashed down the bodies of the demi-humans.
Slicing off their limbs, crushing their throats, slashing away their abdomens, reaping their lives.
The 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』, the 『Divine Protection of Death God』, exploded at the finally arrived chance.
If she were to cut open the wrist, that wound would not heal.
If she were to slash open their intestines, the bleeding would not cease.
Even the shallowest of wounds, shall erode them away eventually.
From the corner of eyes, she saw Wilhelm being held.
The ones standing by his side were Carol and a youth with a shield. They tried to leave this theatre, immediately after retrieving Wilhelm.
Yes, that is correct.
Hurry up, and take Wilhelm away from here.
Carol clenched the pendant that hung down her neck, seeing Thearesia swinging the sword. Her gesture of seemingly prayer, Thearesia found it a bit funny.
I guess so. It’s just as Carol said, isn’t it.
Indeed, I am stronger than anyone else, and better at killing than anyone else.
ーーIf only, I had noticed this a bit sooner.
The youths hurriedly grabbed Wilhelm, in an attempt to get out of here.
Wilhelm, who was pushing away the soil and resisting, used all his strength despite his deep wounds, to do the same.
His presence faded away. She was relieved to sense that.
While feeling relieved, she took away one, two, three lives. Easily, lightly.
Slashing, slashing, gashing, she dove into the screams of rage and death wails.
She washed away the endlessly loud voice of the Sword God.
Just let me hear his voice, he, who was desperately clinging onto life.
Kindly etch my reason, for fighting like this.
Please, let me believe, that my sword can save Wilhelmーー.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
The confrontation had ended.
Thearesia’s goal behind entering the battlefield had been achieved, Wilhelm had been retrieved.
However, Wilhelm’s goal of fighting, saving his hometown, had not been successful.
His hometown burnt to ash, he lost his place to live, and he was all alone now.
Wilhelm, who swung his sword with utter rage, had a kill count of over three hundred.
For a single swordsman on a single battlefield, it was an unquestionably unimaginable and extraordinary number.
ーーHenceforth, Thearesia’s swordsmanship, of having sliced more than a thousand necks, was anomalous.
The existence of the 『Sword Saint』, here wasーー.
With her disgraceful first battle being covered up, this case was recorded into history as 『Sword Saint』 Thearesia’s first battle.
The battle itself may have had ended in unquestionable defeat, but she had managed to prove her overwhelming sword skill.
The name of Thearesia van Astrea echoed across the kingdom, and boosted the morale of the fighting soldiers.
Of course, it must have had also been heard by the ears of the Sword Demon.
There was no promise between them to meet again.
Yet, they felt if they were to go the square, they would meet each other.
It was true, it came true.
Wilhelm, who came to the square, locked his eyes with Thearesia’s and swung the sword.
She put her hand in its path, and accepted it with her fingers.
Thearesia knew everything, regarding the optimal angle of striking, and the optimal force of striking.
With his sword’s swipe stopped, Wilhelm harshly distorted his lips, and said words painted with passion, unfitting of the reunion.
“ーーIs that so.”
“Were you, laughing at me?”
“Answer me, Thearesia…… no, Sword Saint!!”
She had no intention of doing so.
Neither did she have any reason behind that excuse.
It is true that Thearesia used to observe Wilhelm’s swords dance. It is true that she did see his flaws, and did not inform those to him.
And neither did it hold any meaning, for them to talk about such flaws.
The perturbed Wilhelm stepped ahead, and got violent. With an angered expression, he attacked her, but Thearesia avoided his move, and counterattacked.
Before long, the fight became one-sided, and the treasured sword, which Wilhelm wielded, went in Thearesia’s hands. Quite literally, she saw the blood flow into his arm and energetically slashーー and dodging that attack, she followed the white ray and struck his abdomen.
The sword’s pommel stabbed his abdomen, and made Wilhelm fall and breathe hoarsely.
“I won’t be coming here anymore.”
With hatred, with pity, and with earnestly negative thoughts, he could not bear to see what was in front of his eyes.
Thearesia turned away her neck, and chose the option she had chosen countless times till now, to escape.
“With, such a face…… you shouldn’t be, holding a sword.”
With his mouth filled with regret, and his face on the soil, Wilhelm frantically wrung out.
Having faith and belief in the beauty and sublimity of the sword, was he. Having the ability to kick and trample upon his everything, was her.
“I am, the Sword Saint. I never understood the reason for that, but I finally understand now.”
She possessed the recherché 『Divine Protection of Death God』.
She had been bestowed with the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』, even though she had not even asked for it.
It seemed that she would finally be able to compromise with what she had been blessed with.
“Swinging the sword to protect someone. I think that isn’t too bad either.”
Swinging the sword, to protect someone.
She wished she could have had noticed something so simple earlier.
Though even if she may have had realised it, she may not have had found someone to protect.
Now, she does.
As long as she could protect with this power, this abominable power of slaughtering, she shall protect Wilhelm.
Protect him, protect her family, protect Carol, protect much more, and ultimately protect something as humongous as the kingdom, and she shall become a fitting 『Sword Saint』.
Because I, am the strongest. Because the 『Sword Saint』, is the strongest.
I may trample upon his feelings, I may betray what he believed in, but I cannot abandon the fact that I am the 『Sword Saint』.
“Just you, wait, Thearesia……”
No longer existed words that had to be exchanged.
His voice reached Thearesia, who had turned her back, thinking this would be the end.
She was about to stop her feet. She suppressed that emotion desperately.
Wilhelm’s voice, regardless, reached Thearesia, who was desperately suppressing her emotions.
“I’ll take away the sword from you. I don’t care, about the Divine Protection and the duty bestowed upon you……. swinging the sword…… don’t you dare look down upon, the blade’s beauty, Sword Saint!”
She was told, that it would be taken away from her.
And once again, echoed the laughing voice of the Sword God within her head.
As if to sneer, at the youthfully innocent declaration.
As if to sneer, at the cradling of a spoilt child with the spirit of fleeting hope.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
ーーIt took two more years to bring an end to the civil war.
Ever since her parting with Wilhelm, Thearesia stepped onto every single battlefield.
And determinedly working furiously hard over and over again, along with that, she contributed to weakening the demi-human alliance.
The alliance also lost its upper management, which was its framework, and its foundation loosened.
Let’s just say that they had no choice, but to respond accordingly to the peace treaty offered by the kingdom.
Henceforth, the greatest civil war the kingdom ever faced, the 『Demi-human War』, deviated away from its gruesomeness midway through, and ended as quickly as how it had started.
She was fully prepared to go to the next battle, the following battle, to an endless number of battles.
That is why, Thearesia was caught completely off guard, once she heard the sudden report.
“Yes, it is over. The civil war has come to an end. ーーIt is, Thearesia-sama’s achievement.”
Hugging Thearesia’s soft body, said Carol innocently.
In recent years, Carol had grown to show such soft emotions several times, and had supported the emotional Thearesia and gently stroked her back several times.
“Achievement you say……”
She did not really agree with her statement.
Thearesia followed the traces of that thought. She believed that, in the end, it came down to protecting someone.
She believed that, if she had been able to protect that youth, that one man army, who was nowhere to be seen.
What Thearesia failed realise, it was exactly how Carol had said, that her actions were recognised as the greatest contribution to the kingdom.
A ceremony was held for her, and wearing a formal dress and taking a sword of courtesy in her hands, never did Thearesia once, from the beginning to the end, feel like she was in some dream.
No, if this was a dream, then Thearesia had always been in a dream.
Ever since she had been acquainted with the existence of the Sword God, ever since she had received the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』, she had been in a dream.
Which is why, this too, was a dream. A dream shown by the love of the Sword God, where no sun ever shone.
That’s why, if a time was to come when this dream was to end, thenーー.
An uproar stemmed from the hot and energetic crowd.
Through all the shouts demanding his halt, the existence continued to enter the hall.
In his hands, was a rusty, old sword.
He wore a brown, soiled tunic, dyed with filthy stains. But before his repulsive appearance, was something which everyone’s instinct noticed.
ーーThe overwhelming dread, being released from him.
ーーNo, from this Sword Demon.
Thearesia greeted the silently approaching existence with the sword of courtesy in her hands.
The guards around the king and rest surround them and form a protective layer around them. She was grateful for that. With this, no obstruction would come in the way.
Nobody would now get in the way, of her tryst with the 『Sword Demon』 here.
ーーNo warning was given.
However, as if a matter of course, the blades of the two collided, and made a high-pitched clank.
The dull blade clashed with the unmistakable holy sword, though it’s purpose was for courtesy only, from the front directly. Sparkles danced exuberantly, slashes swiped through the wind, and the two shadows intertwined and untwined on the stage, as if dancing.
Whilst swinging the sword, Thearesia was filled with admiration. Her heartbeats accelerated, her heart was throbbing faster and faster.
In Thearesia’s eyes, as always, were the floating white rays of battle. If she were to merely follow the rays and trace them with her sword, she would unquestionably kill her opponent, that was the Sword God’s assistance in her eyes.
And that guaranteed path to victory in the sword fight, built by the Sword God, was being broken through by mere devotion and maddening passion of the Sword Demon.
The floating white rays always seemed to get slashed away at their ends by the rusty sword.
Intercepting every single one of the countless white rays, the Sword Demon roared, and stepped towards a victory which he should never have been able to achieve.
Her heart was throbbing faster and faster. Each and every time, they came in contact.
Each and every time their swords collided, each and every time the white rays were cut off.
She was falling in love, with the Sword Demon in front of her eyes.
Again, and again, and again, the 『Sword Saint』 fell in love with the 『Sword Demon』.
She loved him. She loved him. She loved him so much, that it was unbearable.
ーーShe was in love with this person to the point that it was unbearable.
The ceremony became a vortex of absurdities, and within the sight of so many people, when Thearesia thought of what she was doing, she found it unbearably laughable.
Her cheeks were hot. Her heart was throbbing fast. Each passing moment, her love was intensifying.
The truth is, I want to throw away my sword right away, and tightly grip to my chest.
There is nothing to take away from me now. A long time ago, when I first met you, ever since your figure was first etched into my memory, I haveーー.
The option for her to escape away, for her to refuse facing him, had been completely thwarted.
Not by the reprimanding voice of the Sword God, but the glint in the demon’s eyes, who was in front of her, repudiated it with all of its spirit.
You don’t have to be indebted to anyone else’s hands or even your own hands, I, with my own hands, will take away the sword from your hands, with my own strength.
With my own strength, with my own perseverance, with everything I devoted to the sword, I will take this woman away from the Sword God.
Just how much, for how long.
Just how many times, hundreds of times, tens of thousands of times, hundreds of millions of times, must have he thought of this to himself.
The sword slashes came in contact, they pressed against each other, their tips shimmered, and embraced each other again, and again.
And, the Sword God’s wrathful voice accompanied the complete slashーー,
The rusted blade fractured, and its tip was separated into the air, and it landed on the platform.
The one to put it through such an ordeal, was the undoubting and passionate attack by the 『Sword Saint』.
Above all, rather than anything else, it was an attack of the strength devoted into it by the 『Sword Saint』.
The treasured sword, was taken away from her hands.
Her palm went numb due to the shock of the attack, and the treasured sword went flying, and fell behind them, ringing a sound. And, the rusted sword, fractured to its half, with its tip broken, was positioned right next to Thearesia’s white and slender neck.
The beautifully bedecked 『Sword Saint』, lost, to the coarsely trained 『Sword Demon』.
That was the moment when the rusty, old sword won against the treasured sword, and the phantasmagoria known as the 『Sword Saint』 had been defeated.
“You’re weaker than me, so you no longer have any reason to wield the sword.”
A voice echoed.
Now that I think of it, it’s been quite a while since I’ve heard his rough voice.
And to think his first words, would be this.
“If I don’t wield the sword…… who will.”
“I’ll take up your reason for swinging the sword. You just become my reason for swinging the sword.”
His reason for swinging the sword, was to protect something.
You become that reason, saying that, he took his dress’ hood off.
Seeing herself get glared at by the sullied and sour look, Thearesia shook her head.
Though he had said some pretty cool things like taking it away from her, or protecting her, he still could never understand a woman’s heart. He is a sword, so it could not be helped, though.
“You’re so rude. To render all of someone’s decisions and perseverance useless like this.”
“I’ll take up all that too. You just forget that you ever held the sword and…… that’s right. You just live in peace behind my back, and raise flowers or something.”
Ah, that’s, that’sーー.
“While I, am being protected by your sword?”
“Will you protect me?”
If she were to count herself in the things which he wanted to protect, and he were to answer her love.
Thearesia smiled at the words of the Sword Demon, of Wilhelm.
After that, touching the sword at her neck, she took a single step forward.
By touching his sword, she could feel Wilhelm’s two years.
And thinking that possibly, if in that time, he had been thinking about her, she felt her chest get warmer.
With the rise of emotions she could not bear, Thearesia’s eyes filled with tears. Eventually, they flow over and dropped down the smiling Thearesia’s cheeks.
“Do you, like flowers?”
“I don’t hate them now.”
“Why do you, swing the sword?”
“To protect you.”
This was the limit of her patience.
Ever since she lost the sword from her hands, she could no longer hear the Sword God’s voice.
She saw nothing but Wilhelm.
She felt nothing but Wilhelm.
She had nothing but Wilhelm.
Softly putting her hands on his chest, she turned her head slightly upwards.
Thearesia’s lips, who had her eyes closed, imbricated with the lips of Wilhelm. She felt his love, soft and warm, and Thearesia’s world revolutionized.
With her cheeks dyed, she looked at her beloved, in front of her.
Wilhelm said nothing, silently waiting for her words.
That attitude was strange. She was the one waiting. As he seemed to not understand that, so once again, like several times before, she initiated,
“Are you, in love with me?”
“ーーYou already know that.”
Giving a brusque reply, he turned his face away.
As soon as he turned away his eyes after responding to her question, sounds entered the world of the two. The spectators resumed their agitation, and the guards headed for them.
And there was visible, the figure of Wilhelm aware of their charge, and the guards coming towards him.
“Oh well oh well.”
Looking at Wilhelm’s relaxed expression, the people puffed up their cheeks.
Even though she was right in front of him, why was he looking at someplace else?
He hasn’t even said the words she wanted to hear yet.
“There is something I want you to say, you know.”
Wilhelm turned away his head, scratching his cheek, as if trying to deceive her. However, before long, he looked at Thearesia’s face, and subsequently turned his face downwards and sighed, embracing her slender waist.
And gently positioning his face next to the surprised Thearesia’s ear,
“Someday, when I feel like it.”
ーーIt felt as if it would take a long time to reach that day.
She felt frustrated at that, but at the same time, she looked forward to that day.
With her weakness for being charmed by him, Thearesia forgave the words of the one she loved.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
ーーAfter that, looking back at it now, a lot of things happened.
Welcoming her husband, Wilhelm, who had cut into the ceremony with unprecedented violence was one.
Wilhelm becoming a knight of the Royal Guard instead of Thearesia, who had quit being the 『Sword Saint』, at the suggestion of Bordeaux and the others was one.
Ascertaining her lifetime service to Thearesia, Carol fell in love with one of Wilhelm’s colleagues, but not marrying was one.
Having several feats of his ability in battle, Bordeaux was given a seat in the Parliamentary Committee, with the task of handling important affairs of the kingdom was one.
With so much, really, so much happening, they were really fun days.
“I’m in love with you, Wilhelm. What about you?”
In the end, he never said the words that are supposed to follow. He did act instead of words, though.
The one who could be deceived by that was either a kind woman, or a woman who was head over heels in love with the man in questionーー since Thearesia was both, she kept on getting deceived.
The time they spent as a couple was calm and peaceful, such that it felt too peaceful.
Wilhelm had promised to Thearesia, and ever since that, never did once she wield the sword. Neither did Thearesia have any clinging attachment for the sword. The Sword God’s voice too, had long been muted ever since.
Even still, occasionally, she continued to come across her 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』.
For example, at the time of cooking, whenever she grasped any kitchen knives, she simultaneously got aware of things like the optimal angle for striking. Even when she somehow managed that, when she got to learn other procedures that followed, she realised that being a housewife was much tougher than being a swordsman.
That, and there was the time when she learnt how to control her 『Divine Protection of Death God』. She accidentally cut her finger by the shell of an ingredient while cooking.
Voluntary wounds were to be subjected to the Divine Protection no matter what. When the wound she had inflicted herself grew pallid, and when she hurriedly tried to stop the bleeding, the bleeding ceased immediately.
ーーWas it really so easy, was, in fact, her first reaction.
She accepted the existence of the Divine Protections, and controlled their power.
The little girl who had been given the great title of 『Sword Saint』 on her shoulders, but who, in reality, did not even have understanding of the things she possessed.
If only, this happened earlierーー thoughts like those, filled her heart up with the images of her brothers.
At that moment, she saw the figure of Wilhelm come back home.
And he handed over his withered clothes to Thearesia, who hid her thoughts within her heart.
And in that position, she would be saved.
“Are you, in love with me?”
Just that question however, she stubbornly refused to answer.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
After that, again, a lot happened.
Truly, a lot happened.
The couple’s son was born, Heinkel.
Heinkel then met the woman who later became his bride, and Thearesia’s grandson, Reinhardt, was born.
ーーNobody at all, was at any fault.
Heinkel, earnest and diligent, working hard with the sword with utmost sincerity.
The bride, who was affected with the illness known as 『Sleeping Beauty』, robbed away Heinkel’s opportunity for vindication, and left the young Reinhardt all alone.
Reinhardt, who was blessed with talents which could be sensed at a single glance, and was crammed up with fate unnecessary for his young age.
No one was at fault.
That’s why, as always, the one at fault was herself.
Heinkel distorted, the bride was caged in dreams, and Reinhardt worked hard, trying to be loved by such parents.
She found herself, who was the first one to notice this, the utmost foolish, and good-for-nothing.
“There’s a battle known as the Great Subjugation…… the conquest to bring down the White Whale. Over there, I’ll……”
A knight of the Royal Guard just in its name, and a weighty mission just in its name.
As the voice of her son trembled while presenting his proposition, Thearesia quietly, at once, cemented a decision.
Ever since she had last used her longsword, it had been taken care of by Carol, who had preserved its condition to this very day.
“I am against it. What are you thinking!”
Thearesia still had her doubts regarding her decision, but Wilhelm was absolutely against it.
She felt a strong glare upon herself.
He had some white hair, and his voice had lost its former youthfulness, but still, Wilhelm’s foundation had remained unchanged.
His dignity, his zeal, his clumsiness, everything continued to be the way as when Thearesia had loved them, and she still did.
“That damn idiot…… he is such an embarrassment…… ~hk.”
“Neither you, nor I have the right to say that.”
Wilhelm, too, had lament for their son. With his face somehow suppressing his furious expression, Wilhelm bit his lips.
Though his zeal remained unchanged, he had matured regarding heating and cooling down.
“I too, will take charge……”
“You have your own duties to fulfill. You must be aware of it, Wilhelm. ーーIt cannot be that you have forgotten, Ford-sama’s weeping.”
The younger brother of the king, Ford, his daughter had been kidnapped by someone who intruded into the castle. As the commander of the Royal Guard, Wilhelm had the duty of recovering her position immediately.
It was impossible for the Sword Demon to be brought to the Great Subjugation.
Instead, Thearesia, who was the inheritor of the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』, was requested to step into the battlefield.
She could not refuse. Her days of peace by abandoning the sword had been built upon her own selfishness.
She could not let that continue anymore.
“Thearesia, something like this is……”
With a persuasive voice, Thearesia called him. In front of his exhaling face, she smiled.
And asked, a question after a long time.
“Are you, in love with me?”
Unrestーー the same emotion as before.
While smiling, Thearesia had her sword glide over Wilhelm’s shoulder. It slashed through the wind, and gashed through his skin.
Standing unprotected in front of his wife, Wilhelm failed to defend in his lack of consciousness, and the newly inflicted wound on his shoulder started to bleed.
“Thearesia…… What are you doing?”
The wound on his shoulder, was subjected to the power of the 『Divine Protection of Death God』. It wasn’t deep, but the bleeding continued. This would stay the same way, as long as Thearesia, the one responsible, remained close to him.
She gently came close to his chest.
While feeling the rigidity of the shoulders she had grasped, Thearesia put her lips on the wound on Wilhelm’s shoulder.
Blood dyed her lips, as she got to taste her husband’s blood for the first time.
“With this, you can no longer come after me. As if you’re close to me, that wound will not close.”
“Doing something so stupid for something like that…… let me make it clear, even if the bleeding does not stop, I will still”
Giving a slight smile, Thearesia released his body.
And, while pointing towards Wilhelm’s wound on his shoulder,
“I shall leave that wound the way it is. So that you do not follow me. I will close it once both of our jobs are done.”
“It’s alright, besides, who do you even think I am? I am the strongest swordsman in this world, after you.”
“But comparing your level now, in mid-forties, to that in your young days……”
“Don’t say something so redundant.”
Harshly, she made him shut his mouth so that he doesn’t continue his rude words.
Geez, even after twenty years of staying together, all this still continued.
The steel still remained unchanged. However,
“I love you, Wilhelm.”
“Yes, that’s correct. Answer that later.”
Facing Wilhelm, who furrowed his eyebrows, Thearesia nodded.
And, while swearing on her husband’s wound to meet againーー.
“When I return, that day, please let me hear the words I could not hear.”
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Her memories, were disappearing.
Visibility was disturbed within the sandstorm, and the scattered sounds and voices were becoming increasingly difficult to hear.
Someone’s wrathful roars, shrieks, screams, could be heard.
Towards one plane of her vision, all what was visible was greenーー no, this was the ground. It had the colour of a grassland. When she glanced around at her surroundings, the dense fog roughly, doubtfully around ten meters ahead her, completely locked the rest of the world.
The punitive force had been decimated to its half, and the forces were in a catastrophic state.
There was a desperate stampede, and they could not determine which direction they should take for escaping within the thick fog.
However, they just vaguely felt a titanic sense of oppression from the other side of the fog. Henceforth, it could be understood that the echoing voices were fleeing in the opposite direction from that.
Suddenly, she was unable to remember what had happened.
Within the violent and fiercely hard-fought battle, where they had worked hard to achieve dominance in the battle, she felt that it would be much more helpful if she utilised her power for retreating from the front lines, and just when she started to feel that wayーー.
Thinking that far, she noticed a faint sense of discomfort.
She glanced down at her palm. Something, uncomforting.
There was no problem in her limbs, in her eyes, or in her feet.
But she felt something like, as if, she had lost her wingsーー.
“The Divine Protection……”
She noticed it.
She could no longer sense the feeling of possessing the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』. The same went for the Sword God, who was always by her side no matter how far she went with the sword.
Even his ridicule, was nowhere now.
At the same time, Thearesia felt she knew who now possessed what her body had lost.
Was this the same feeling her uncle got when he sensed Thearesia being the inheritor of the Divine Protection? Otherwise, it may just be that Thearesia was simply aware of Reinhardt’s limitless natural talent.
Whichever it may be, Thearesia did not hold any doubts that the next generation 『Sword Saint』 would be Reinhardt.
That feeling was perhaps, traitorous to her actual son, Heinkelーー but neither did exist anyone to put the blame on for that, nor did she have the time to find someone to blame for that
“ーーOh, for a lone lady to be present in such a place, quite gallant indeed.”
The graceful voice of a young girl, unfitting for the time and place, resonated.
Turning back, Thearesia saw a small shadow within the dense fog.
White clothes, platinum hair.
Intimate and affectionate, an amiable gaze filled with sympathy boundlessly extolling togethernessーー misdirected love, to the point that it was unsettling.
“It seems I have not quite been taken a liking to.”
Gripping the longsword, Thearesia stepped ahead.
If the girl were in a normal situation, she might have had worried for her. However, this was the world of death ruled by the dense fog of the White Whale.
The young girl, making her appearance here, was unquestionably beyond mysterious.
Even if she had lost the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』, Thearesia’s body still possessed the swordsmanship of a former Sword Saint. Fully demonstrating her ability, her swordsmanship, which was the pinnacle of swordsmanship, she slashed right through the petite body of the young girlーー,
“ーーI want to, understand you.”
The young girl’s voice tickled her eardrums, and her consciousness interspersed.
Her voice had something special.
Within the darkness, her consciousness fell.
With her hands and legs tied, Thearesia’s body submerged in the bottomless lukewarm water.
The future of her grandson, the heart of her son, the bride who tied the two, such worries ran through her mind.
And, in the end,
She called the name of her beloved, and her consciousness fragmented completely.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Thearesia: “Such a pathetic, face……”
Slowly opening her eyelids, she could see a messed up face.
His head was completely white, and his face had been etched with the fine lines of aging, but she could not help but think that this was cool in its own way.
There is no way she could have had mistaken.
It was the face of her husband. It seems quite some time had passed ever since that parting.
She inhaled deeply.
Close by, Heinkel and Reinhardt were also there. She could feel their presence.
All three men of the Astrea family had assembled here, possibly just to see her off.
Because everyone, is so kind.
Wilhelm: “Thearesia, I am……”
With his wrinkled face, Wilhelm was breathless.
She couldn’t say that she disapproved of it in front of her son and grandson.
Where did he leave his majesty and dignity? Actually, looking back at it now, such weaknesses of his always stood out, surprisingly.
Thearesia: “Hey, Wilhelm……”
Her voice was husky, yet unusually youthful.
As if it wasn’t hersーー no, it definitely was hers, but she was supposed to be a grandmother.
It seemed like her voice when she had first fallen in love, how embarrassing.
When she had first fallen in love, feeling like that, she felt more and more awkward.
There wasn’t much time left, but they still wasted quite a lot of it by choosing to simply look at each other.
But, even still, it’s alright.
The words Thearesia should have had said, she had conveyed them a sufficient number of times. Wilhelm, too, should know that.
That is why, the one needing the time, the chance, and the words was him.
Thearesia should simply, quietly wait for those words.
Though she will have to wait, her expectations will surely be fulfilled. That’s just how the man Wilhelm Trias was.
That’s just how the man Wilhelm van Astrea was.
Wilhelm: “There is something I must…… tell you.”
Wilhelm; “I-I am a poor speaker…… so I can’t convey my thoughts well, I’m having a hard time even with you……. that’s why even in these twenty years, never even once did I……”
Wilhelm: “These twenty years, may have made me uneasy. But, I am……”
Thearesia: “ーーA stupid person.”
Seeing him struggle so much at speaking, and presenting himself so stupidly, she could not bear to hold it in.
She ended up saying it. Truly, what was this man saying?
Thearesia: “Did you really, never notice?”
She heartbreakingly reached out to the face which was in tears.
Her body was terribly heavy. There wasn’t really any strength left in her, but she put all her remaining strength in her fingers, and wiped away the tears dropping down his face.
Thearesia: “You had always, been saying it.”
Did he intend to hide it?
Did he believe, that he would be able to hide it if he never said it?
Thearesia: “Your voice, your eyes, your attitude, your actions, had always.”
Everything which Wilhelm, had directed towards Thearesia.
This person, had always, above all, been clearly conveying his heartーー.
Wilhelm: “I am, with you”
Thearesia: “You are, with me”
That is why, it was sufficient.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
From the beginning to the end, my life was surely one full of blessings.
I had my brothers whom I had a good relationship with, I had a female friend who was always warm towards me and took tender care of me, I was helped by many people, I met Wilhelm.
I’m sure, lots of problems must still be there.
But I have faith, that you all will be alright.
But, the truth is, just one thing.
There was just one last thing, left in my heart which I wanted to ask.
ーーHow surprised would you be if you got to know, that it was actually love at first sight?
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
This was the last time, they exchanged words of love with each other.
The figure of Thearesia van Astrea, who was smiling with satisfaction, with her cheeks dyed with the tint of love, and eyes glistened with tears, lost its shape and crumbled in the blink of an eye.
In the arms of Wilhelm, who had knelt down, no longer visible was the form of a bleeding, suffering woman, but what was left was only a lump of ashesーー and that alone, was the proof of her former presence.
Having her life burn out and turning into a mere lump of ash, was Thearesia. Wilhelm widened his eyes, and simply, quietly, kept staring at Thearesia’s remains.
???: “……Are you, satisfied now?”
And, instead of the silent and stationary Wilhelm, a man raised his voice.
The red-haired middle-aged manーー Heinkel, raised his voice at Reinhardt, who was standing next to him, with a look filled with hatred.
Reinhardt slowly met that look with his own eyes, and exhaled.
Reinhardt: “What do you mean, satisfied?”
Heinkel: “Don’t play dumb, it’s just as how you saw it! Are you satisfied? You must be satisfied now! Both in name and in reality, the position of 『Sword Saint』 is all yours now, congratulations! The rumours of you robbing it away by killing the previous generation would be unquestionably true now too. Huh, are you satisfied? Hey!”
Reinhardt: “I do not understand what you are trying to say.”
Heinkel: “Don’t make a face as if you’re putting on airs! You shitty brat!”
Exhaling a hoarse breath, Heinkel tried to grab Reinhardt.
However, Reinhardt avoided his fingers, and controlled his father’s body, stepping onto his palms like a foot-bellow.
The current 『Sword Saint』 had not even the slightest of affect on himself for slashing the previous 『Sword Saint』 to her death. The truth is, his opponent didn’t either.
As if trying to shove that truth onto him, Heinkel’s throat faintly shuddered.
Heinkel: “Don’t make a scene out of this, Reinhardt…… ~hk.”
Becoming further desperate, trying to deceive away the wavering of his own heart, Heinkel pointed his finger at Reinhardt, and spat out.
Heinkel: “No matter how nice and fine you may try to make things, what I saw won’t change. It’s a fact that you killed mother…… Thearesia van Astrea. I’ll proclaim it. I’ll spread this rumour everywhere, so that nobody recognises you as the 『Sword Saint』 anymore!”
Heinkel: “No matter how calm of a face you may make, there’s no way you’ll let go of your prestige as 『Sword Saint』. You may have had continued having it till now, but not anymore. The one slashing his own blood relatives to their deaths is the 『Sword Saint』? The sword of the kingdom? Hah, don’t make me laugh! You murderer!”
Reinhardt: “Deputy Commander, no matter how many times you say it, I do not understand what you intend to mean. ーーIt is Deputy Commander’s misunderstanding that I slashed the previous generation to death.”
Reinhardt quietly gave his answer to Heinkel, whose face was reddening. Heinkel rounded his eyes at his response, but Reinhardt did not seem to have any intention of tricking him or beating around the bush.
Reinhardt was not giving his opinion, but as if merely stating facts.
Reinhardt: “The enemy just now was merely a corpse being made to move through the use of some secret arts. It could not have had been the previous generation 『Sword Saint』…… grandmother. Is there still perhaps some misunderstanding?”
Heinkel made a stupefied expression at Reinhardt’s words.
After that, he put his hands in his red hair, and rubbed them violently. With faint laughter, Heinkel, and an abnormal smile,
Heinkel: “Then, what was that in the end? When she was, talking to father!? When she was glaring so hatefully at you and me…… what was it, if it wasn’t mother!”
Wilhelm: “ーーEnough, now stop, Heinkel.”
Gnashing his own teeth, with burning hot hatred was Heinkel. The one to extinguish Heinkel’s heat was Wilhelm, who had been silent till now.
The aged swordsman, while maintaining his crouched posture, tore apart the sleeve of his jacket, and treated the wound on his right shoulderーー which had been inflicted by a certain longsword.
The ability of the 『Divine Protection of Death God』, due to which the wound was not supposed to close, lost its effect the moment Thearesia ceased to exist. ーーNo, before even that, ever since Thearesia had returned to sanity in the end, it had been lost.
Instead of that, what remained was the pain on his left shoulder due to the wound carved onto it at the time of their final farewell.
The sane Thearesia lasted on his left shoulder, and the demised Thearesia on his right leg.
The wounds carved with the ability of the 『Divine Protection of Death God』 had been nullified with the loss of both.
Heinkel: “Stop, you say…… father! Are you really fine with this! He is……!”
Wilhelm: “Stop, Heinkel…..Stop.”
Wilhelm objected Heinkel, and stopped him from saying anything further.
He took off his sleeveless jacket and used the cloth for wrapping and containing Thearesia’s ashes. Leaving her in the cold wind like this, would leave her far too lonely.
He believed that he must bury her ashes in the appropriate grave, at the very least.
Seeing the state of his father, Heinkel gnashed his teeth and swallowed his words. And, retrieving the ashes, Wilhelm shakily stood up.
Even if his bleeding had ceased, his body had lost quite a lot of blood. The wound on his right foot was deep, so walking without any support stemmed into uneasiness. Retroactively, Reinhardt tried to support his trembling shoulders.
Wilhelm: “ーーStay away!!”
His fingers, which were reaching for him, were subjected to Wilhelm’s rage.
Reinhardt halted his raised arm, and no longer tried to support his shoulders and face him. But, the Sword Demon, without facing him, quietly inhaled.
Unlike Wilhelm’s quivering voice, Reinhardt’s voice was stable and dignified.
Hearing his voice, their eyes met, and Wilhelm said the words in his mouth.
ーーIt was, a question.
Wilhelm: “Do you regret, that you slashed your grandmother…… Thearesia to her death?”
A slight gap occurred between the question and its response.
Or perhaps, he may have had dismissed the question as meaningless, similar to Heinkel’s earlier questions.
However, before long, Reinhardt responded.
Reinhardt: “No. ーーI did the correct thing. I hold no regrets.”
Wilhelm: “……Is that, so. That’s right.”
Wilhelm: “You are right. I am mistaken. ーーThat is why, there is nothing left to talk to you about anymore.”
Pronouncing with a quiet voice, Wilhelm turned his back towards Reinhardt.
The grandfather and grandson put a full stop to the decisive question-answer, without even facing each other.
And, Wilhelm raised his finger and pointed towards the center of the city.
Wilhelm: “I am worried about the City Hall, to which Garfiel-dono is headed. If it would be possible, then I would request you to head there for providing support. 『Sword Saint』 Reinhardt-dono.”
Terribly formal and unduly distant, receiving those polite words, Reinhardt looked in the direction towards which the finger pointed. He nodded, and then finally glanced at Heinkel.
Heinkel, who was still directing his resentment for the airs being put up, widened his blue eyes with a rough inhale, but Reinhardt ignored his upcoming spiteful words,
Reinhardt: “Outdoor is dangerous. If it would be possible, Deputy Commander, head to a shelter. ーーAlong with Wilhelm-dono.”
Heinkel: “Y-You just shut the hell up! Hurry up and disappear!”
Being hit with the words of the spirit of a loser, Reinhardt turned his face away. At the same pace, he dashed towards the waterway, as if to kick its surface, he jumped above the building, and disappeared in the direction of the center of the city.
Seeing his outlandish movements, Heinkel spat. He then rushed to Wilhelm, who was walking slowly due to his injured right foot. However,
Heinkel: “Father-dono, going alone is……”
Wilhelm: “Leave me alone for now. Right now, I don’t want anyone to see my face.”
Wilhelm: “There is no need for you to worry about me. You should just worry about yourself. Hide in a suitable building or a shelter…… you’ll be fine by just that.”
Giving his thoughts, Wilhelm then left Heinkel, who was now alone.
With his wife’s ashes in the coat he held, he straightened his back, and dragged his feet.
He was left behind, alone, unable to stop him,or be by his side.
With Wilhelm eventually disappearing from visibility, Heinkel, who was left aloneーー.
Heinkel: “What, is your problem…… what is your problem, what is your problem, what is your problem, what is your problem, damn it, what the hell is your problem!”
Left all alone in the plaza, standing on the cobblestone, glaring on the flat pavement, Heinkel cursed out his fury. Violently scratching his head, roaring his rage which could not be conveyed in words, he then threw the sword attached to his waist to the ground.
The beautiful knight sword rang a high-pitched echo, as it rolled down the ground.
Heinkel: “Shitshitshitshit, god damn everyone……! Everyone just go die……! Just go die~e~e~e~e~e~ ~hk!!”
Heinkel’s bloody and hateful shriek resonated in the deserted plaza in solitude.
The scream, a mixture of boundless, endless resentment and grief, echoed far and wideーー.
The battlefield of the grandfather, father, and grandchild, with this, came to an end.
A lady, a grandmother, a mother, a wife.
The end of Thearesia van Astrea engraved wounds upon the hearts of the three.
ーーWith this, all of the battlefields in the fight for the Watergate City of Priestella had been settled.