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ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI, THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO STARTING A LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WORLD FROM ZERO, THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
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ーーHow surprised would you be if you got to know, that it was actually love at first sight?
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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 caused immense distress in her life.
During her normal 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 as a secret for some time.
ーーThe Astrea family’s forte was the sword, and had given rise to the 『Sword Saints』 for generations and continued.
Thanks to the achievements made 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 years, including in the times of Thearesia.
Henceforth, every person born into the Astrea family, regardless of having the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』 or not, was to dedicate themselves to the sword for their entire life.
This of course, applied 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, they were supposed to acquaint themselves with the sword the moment they achieved awareness of mind.
If you were to ask how Thearesia, who was born into the Astrea family where this way of growing up was natural, was maturing, the answer would beーー she was spending her days completely parallel from the sword.
Of course, if you were born into the Astrea family, then, regardless of gender, you were supposed to take the sword in your hands.
There were days when Thearesia and her brothers went through tough training. There were such days indeed, but Thearesia had absolutely no commendable aptitude for the sword.
Rather than that, it would be further appropriate to say that she never had the orientation for facing the sword.
Like many girls, Thearesia held no interest in the sword.
It was not that she was bad at it. Unmotivated efforts, accompanied with a defiant attitude. It was only natural that her parents would eventually come to notice that 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 protection recognised him and bestowed itself upon him.
Seeing the possibility of her being the 『Sword Saint』 reduce down to negligible, Thearesia’s greed was ultimately fulfilled and she was granted the freedom she very much desired.
Thearesia detached herself from the sword practice, but she as well, had her own, sensible reasons behind it.
Of course, both her disinterest in becoming the 『Sword Saint』, and her lack of motivation in using the sword were factors in it, but her biggest reason behind it was completely 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.
When she realised that her forte lay in taking away the lives of others, what was born into the young Thearesia, was the fear of what could result from her very palms.
Something like sword training was perfect for intensifying her fear.
Even if it were just practice or training, Thearesia’s Divine Protection, over which she had no control over, would not regard the situation. Even if the wound she may inflict were to be as meagre as a scratch, the fact that it wouldn’t heal made it no laughing matter.
Especially considering that a wound that may accidentally get inflicted during sword practice could prove to be deadly.
Henceforth, freed from the sword training, the secretive Thearesia felt alleviated.
Living without hurting those around you, was actually something difficult to do if you were conscious regarding it.
If you were conscious about it, you would notice that unintentionally and accidentally hurting others could happen very easily. How could you determine whether the Divine Protection would activate or not, in case you end up getting a cut on the finger because of a piece of shattered dish.
The young girl named Thearesia, unconsciously 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. Gaining a natural tendency to avoid all eye contact, she started spending more and more time with flowers.
Gaining the freedom to discard the sword, she made a flower bed in the garden of her mansion for just herself, and growing seasonal flowers there, she began to love admiring them.
Her brothers who used to swing the sword in utter distress, and were repeatedly subject to difficult and painful training.
It is not as if she did not feel left out or sorry for them seeing their figures. It was simply just that due to her inability to tell them about her Divine Protection, flowers were the only ones she could be with and confide in with complete confidence.
“I wonder, if someday, even I would be able to live by someone’s side……”
Her suffering, her doubts, the only ones she could confide such feelings of hers were just to her flowers, as their petals danced to the rhythm of the gentle breeze.
This again, like that of many people, was the desire of the young girl named Thearesia, to love and to be loved.
Well aware of her possibility of hurting others, wondering whether she was deserving of being together with someone, all whilst not complying with the schemes of her brothers or her parents, Thearesia’s days of self-doubt continued.
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 came upon Thearesia.
It dawned upon her more like a feeling 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 her 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 wings had grown upon her back. She greeted it with a sense of incongruity, which did not exist previously, and the widening of her horizons in terms of her capabilities.
ーーI will not, take the sword in my hands.
So thought Thearesia, feeling abhorrence and nausea for her new Divine Protection.
She thought back to the times when she had been coerced to swing the sword. She had realised how pointless, meaningless, senseless and aimless her actions were back then.
She was now instinctively able to understand 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 pretending to be a young girl had come to an end.
Thearesia did not tell anyone about the Divine Protection she had received.
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.
Pointing out 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 nothing but sleeping, and hoping that one day she would wake up to find out that it was all just a youthful dream of hers, she enclosed herself in her shell.
But that was ultimately, just the immaturity of a child, refusing to face what she did not want to face.
ーーIt became immediately 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 line of 『Sword Saints』.
Stepping foot into mansion, revealing that the bedridden Thearesia 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 being inherited only by members of the Astrea family, with this trend continuing for generations.
That Divine Protection is inherited by the next 『Sword Saint』 from the preceding 『Sword Saint』 without any prior notice. And once the inheritance is completed, the previous 『Sword Saint』 is freed from his responsibility, and loses the Divine Protection.
Once the current 『Sword Saint』 loses the Divine Protection, it is natural that the identity of the of the next 『Sword Saint』 will be searched for thoroughly by the kingdom.
And the previous 『Sword Saint』 can identify who the next 『Sword Saint』 is at a single glance.
Thearesia’s days of enclosure met their end.
“Take the sword in your hands, Thearesia.”
With her hair a complete mess, Thearesia was dragged out into the garden.
Barefooted, in sleepwear, with her consciousness drifting between dreams and reality, she was still forcibly dragged outside by her uncle, and forced to hold the wooden sword.
With her fingers, that had gotten skinnier, she gestured her resistance along with shaking her head several times.
However, the complaints of her opposed self went unheard. Her uncle forcefully handed her the wooden sword and made her face forward, once she had held it by its handle.
In front of Thearesia, stood the eldest brother out of the four siblings.
Her considerate and tender brother, who was polite and friendly with everyone, stood there with a confused expression. Unable to perceive what was happening in front of his eyes, his puzzlement could be understood at a glance.
ーーThere were many gaps.
Thinking that to herself, Thearesia was startled.
With that confoundment striking her heart directly, Thearesia, speechless, simply kept her eyes open.
Ignoring Thearesia and her condition, her uncle called out to her eldest brother in a deep voice.
Hold the wooden sword, and attack Thearesia from above, he said. Prove your abilities of swordsmanship by striking down and defeating your younger sister, he said.
There is no way I can do that, called out her eldest brother.
Her brother was very kind. He had trained strenuously with the sword, and held no doubts in the way of the Astrea family, but he could be nothing but kind towards his younger sister, Thearesia.
She was afraid of hurting him, so she was never the one who initiated physical contact, but she loved hugging her brother and that huge body of his. He was a kind, kind elder brother.
Then echoed the voice of her uncle, calling her brother a coward.
At the mocking of the preceding 『Sword Saint』, her brother made an expression suggesting he had been hurt by his words. Thearesia knew that her eldest brother, her elder brother, and her younger brother had continued to swing the sword because they admired him.
Receiving such harsh words from him, her eldest brother was immensely wounded. Her two other brothers standing at the edge of the garden, who had also come outside by hearing all the commotion, also made similarly hurt faces.
Ultimately, her eldest brother, while maintaining his wounded expression, wielded dreadful readiness in his eyes.
Straightening the wooden sword he held in his hands, and transferring all his energy into it, he set his eyes upon his target.
Seeing the shivering in his sword, and a certain sharpness in her eldest brother’s eyes, Thearesia came to realise.
Her elder brother, in order not hurt Thearesia, will have the wooden sword he had clenched in his own hands knock hers down. It was obvious from his stance, his look, his body language, and the way he was holding his sword.
At her brother’s level of skill, it would certainly not be a difficult task to complete.
It would be sufficient to prove his ability as a swordsman by just taking the sword away from Thearesia.
At the stiffening of her uncle’s cheeks, began the fight which neither side wanted to partake in.
Her eldest brother shouted energetically, and slashed the sharp wooden sword he held into Thearesia.
Limiting the movements of the opponent and having control over their actions was another skill in swordsmanship. If the wooden sword wasn’t even uplifted, it would undoubtedly be easy to simply knock it down.
The very foundation of this fight was erroneous.
Neither did Thearesia have any reason to fight, nor did her brother have any reason to hurt Thearesia. With the interests of both the sides aligned, there should not be any rise of faults.
There should not be, butーー,
A wooden sword, that had been sent flying, landed on the ground at some distance, and its sound echoed.
Along with hearing the startled voice of her uncle, what was visible was the figure of Thearesia, with her wooden sword pointing outwards, and its edge touching the throat of her staggering brother, who let out a hoarse sigh.
ーーShe remembered that she deflected away the attack of the wooden sword that came upon her upwards, and had taken away the wooden sword from her opponent.
She then had the edge of her sword touch the neck of her opponent, proving that she could kill him at any instant by making the difference between their proficiency clear.
With stunned expressions, everyone looked on at the unbelievable sight.
“The next 『Sword Saint』 is Thearesia. Indeed, unquestionably.”
Echoed the unrestrained voice of her uncle, saying that.
“Ah…… ah, a~h……”
Thearesia dropped the wooden sword she held, glanced at her hand, and then proceeded to pull off her red hair with the same hand. Pulling them off so violently that she would bleed, and raising a voice like that of a beast, she screamed.
Screaming, losing sanity, despairing, nearly bleeding, regretting.
Thearesia, became the 『Sword Saint』.
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The time that her brothers had devoted to the sword, Thearesia’s swordsmanship had mockingly trampled upon all of it.
Against overwhelming prowess of the sword, things like time and effort dedicated held no meaning whatsoever.
In the eyes of Thearesia, who had become the 『Sword Saint』, the flaws in her brothers’ sword handling were clear as crystal. She was now, in fact, surprised, that despite spending so much time with them, she had not noticed those flaws earlier.
But still, despite the clear difference in their strength and Thearesia’s, her brothers pitiably continued to train with sword.
Neither her eldest brother, nor her elder brother, nor her younger brother possessed passion for anything other than the sword.
Because they had been born into the Astrea family, grown up in the house whose name was respected because of their swords, and had dedicated their life and fate to the sword, so even if their younger sister had robbed away their objective from her brothers, they still had no choice but to continue continuing.
Even if they know, that they can never, ever, achieve it.
ーーIs quite stupid.
That’s the thought that comes up ultimately.
They should just do whatever they wish to. They should just not care about the sword anymore.
If they can never condone Thearesia, they should just live in their own worlds as per their own choice.
“Thearesia-sama, the preparations are complete. It’s about time, we ought to head out now.”
While she was looking outside the window of her room, at the garden where her brothers continued to train with the sword, a voice entered Thearesia’s ears.
When she turned around, what she saw was an elegant looking girl of the same age as hers, with a short haircut of her beautiful blonde hair.
She was Carol Remendisーー a member of the Remendis family, known for its superlative knights, and due to her recognised exceptional swordsmanship despite being of similar age as hers, she had been appointed as Thearesia’s attendant.
Undeniably, her abilities as a swordsman were indeed exceptional.
Though she did not want to mention this to anyone, but her proficiency with the sword was comparable to that of her brothers.
With a completely solemn personality, with profuse swordsmanship, she could not help but feel uneasy, as another female of her age.
“Yes, let’s go. For today we have the schooling of the people of the castle, isn’t it.”
“Yes. Everyone in the castle as well, is looking forward to being educated by Thearesia-sama. Of course, I also wield the same feelings as them.”
“……I think you are already sufficiently strong, Carol.”
“Not at all. Someone like me, cannot even reach the feet of Thearesia-sama.”
As if downplaying herself, Carol gave her impression of her own abilities.
Thearesia somewhat staggered at her evaluation. After all, Thearesia had never upheld the sword in front of Carol. No, not just that.
The last time Thearesia’s hands had held a sword was when she had fought her eldest brother with a wooden sword.
For two years after that, Thearesia did not make even the slightest physical contact with the sword.
However, she was still fulfilling her responsibilities as the 『Sword Saint』.
The reality of her being the 『Sword Saint』 alone was a truth which could not be hidden. She couldn’t go as far as to cause inconvenience to the entire Astrea family, so she was willing to perform just her duties diligently.
“It can be understood easily what is worth seeing and what is not at a single glance. Even if I have not gotten the opportunity of seeing it, if Thearesia-sama takes the sword in her hands, she would surely become a force which cannot be oppressed by anyone.”
She gave a wry smile at Carol’s beliefs.
Along with her, Thearesia went to teach on-duty soldiers. Even in the name of teaching, she had not really accomplished any commendable feats in that.
She would just go around and have them wield their weapons and train, and point out flaws in their fighting as always, nothing unusual.
The utmost terrifying aspect of the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』 was perhaps how it heightened the battle instincts of the person to perfection. It was not limited to just swords. Whether it were spears or axes, if they were connected to battling, Thearesia knew all of their leads and imperfections alike.
If the soldiers’ mistakes were pointed out to them one by one, they would eventually correct themselves.
However, from Thearesia’s perspective, although the way of correcting those faults may be correct, it was never enough, and even if that slight change were to happen, the talented and the untalented would perceive it extremely differently.
Thearesia tasted a feeling of guilt when she was thanked, when she was given respect.
Just as when she had despaired over inheriting the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』, she now despaired over the situation she had been placed in.
Shutting herself in her room, enclosing herself in her shell, she always ended up hoping for the tides of her fate to change direction.
ーーThis may have had been her punishment, for her selfish and arbitrary desires, for running away from the responsibilities she should have had shouldered.
In the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica, wide-reaching conflicts arose with the demi-human community.
In a heartbeat, the pent up complaints and discontentment of the demi-humans, which were scattered around parts of the kingdom, blew up and consumed the kingdom within its flames.
The utmost intense and brutal civil war in the history of the kingdom, the 『Demi-human War』 had broken out.
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With its origin from the east of the kingdom, this civil war worsened per passing day.
It initially seemed like a small uprising of the demi-human community which could be resolved easily without it spreading to the point of damage, but the kingdom despised the deepening of demi-human relationships behind closed doors.
On top of that, there seemed to exist people bridging the gap with demi-humans through individual relationships, and as the conflict spread person by person, the fire of the civil war widened its radius in an instant.
As the fiery warfare progressively intensified and ceaselessly spread through the kingdom, and after an entire year of fruitless efforts of attempts for extinguishing the fire, the kingdom finally recognised publicly that this was a situation worse than anything the kingdom had faced before.
“Inform the current 『Sword Saint』 Thearesia van Astrea. To expect appearing onto the battlefield, along with the knights and soldiers, who are currently scuffling to subdue the civil war.”
Recognising the unprecedented situation as a threat throughout the kingdom, the senior aristocrats did not intend to keep the asset of the 『Sword Saint』 for last.
Of course, Thearesia also received the message regarding request of participation in the war.
ーーThearesia despaired at the arrival of the inevitable future.
This was unlike her days of selfishly refusing to take the sword.
What was expected of her now was not her knowledge as the 『Sword Saint』, but true swordsmanship and strength as the 『Sword Saint』.
She had no choice, but to take the sword.
This was also the first time she had also been handed over the Dragon Sword Reid, which only the 『Sword Saint』 may wield.
“However, that sword can be drawn only when it needs to be drawn. I believe you will have to carry another sword aside from that one too. You can choose one as per your liking.”
Her uncle, the former 『Sword Saint』, gave her advice out of experience.
Her uncle, who had previously wielded the Dragon Sword on his waist, understood how whimsical the sword was. In accordance with her uncle’s advice, the longsword which provided the best swinging– one which was also liked by Carol, a fellow sword user, was the one Thearesia chose.
ーーIn her first battle, Thearesia was accompanied by Carol, along with her brothers and her uncle.
For Thearesia, she would not say this batch of hers was set up for a clear weathered stage.
Even so, she could not turn her eyes away for even an instant. This was also an opportunity to show the power of the legendary Astrea sword to people of the kingdom.
Regardless of Thearesia’s thoughts and feelings, her surroundings progressed arbitrarily.
Anyone and everyone burdened her with arbitrary expectations, like how there is no way the 『Sword Saint』 could lose.
The unrestrained, insensitive faith by those surrounding her, intimidated Thearesia.
As if it had become normal now, concealing it from everyone, hiding it in her heart, Thearesia trembled only in front of the batch accompanying her to her first battle.
And, seeing her in such a shapeーー,
“Are you scared, Thearesia?”
Yes, the one to raise his gentle voice for her was her, one and only, eldest brother.
Thearesia, while awaiting her first battle in a tent, was astonished to see her elder brother speak to her, that too, with such kindness.
Thearesia had consciously been avoiding contact with her elder brother.
No, her eldest brother was not the only one she avoided. Her elder brother, her younger brother, as well as her parents and her uncle, she had avoided coming into contact with all of them.
After two long years, this was the first time she had exchanged such words of kindness with her beloved brother.
Thearesia could not help but continue looking downwards, at a loss for words.
However, her brother sat down next to Thearesia, who had a dejected expression, and gently patted her head.
Thearesia was caught off-guard, seeing how the palm of her brother had still not changed at all.
“I know, that you hold a feeling of indebtedness towards me or the rest of our brothers. It’s not as if I didn’t think anything by losing to you like that either. But……”
Cutting his words midway, her brother showed her a slight smile.
That was her brother’s very smile, the one which Thearesia had looked at again and again, repeatedly.
“You are my treasured younger sister. If you don’t want to, if you are scared…… I will have to protect you. Because I, am your elder brother.”
Tears poured down her cheeks. She must not voice out her weakness.
Her above all, one and only, brother, whom she had defeated, must not hear it. So she thought, but her brother repudiated her thoughts.
“After losing to you, it was painful, I thought that I should quit. But, even still, I loved the sword. I am grateful that I was born into this family, I had my younger brothers, and I had you as my younger sister. I am grateful, to the sword.”
“That is why, I am glad that I swung the sword.”
Thearesia realised her own idiocy, for deeming his thoughts as stupid.
Even after seeing them get defeated, seeing her brothers aim for training with the sword, she thought that they had no other path but that, ignorant regarding everything else, she thought they were swinging the sword because they had no choice, that they were merely clinging onto it, being under this impression, she looked down upon them.
Thinking that they should just do whatever they wish to, Thearesia arbitrarily put her brother on her own scale and deemed his value.
She mocked her brother by reducing his person to a mere swordsman, whom she should have had admired, whom she should have had respected.
Who was stupid here. She was stupid here. And, the Sword God was utmost stupid here.
Why, did he not direct his love to the human who loved him so much.
Why, did he bless a human like herself, who always turned away from the sword.
Her brother, or other people like her brother were the ones who deserved to be blessed, yet.
“There is no need, for you to fight. ーーAfter all, you are a kind girl, who wouldn’t even dare kill an insect.”
Afraid of the power of the 『Divine Protection of Death God』, she always made sure she never hurt anyone or anything.
She had misjudged her brother, but her brother well understood his younger sister.
This gave her such contentment, that in these two years, this had moved her heart the most.
She ended up acting like a spoiled child, she ended up depending on him. She clung onto him, cried into him, she left it all up to him.
ーーIn Thearesia’s first battle, her brother died protecting their troops’ headquarter.
Not once, did Thearesia swing the sword. She could not.
And once again, Thearesia refused to touch the sword for years to come.
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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 unchanged, continuing to silently breathe within her.
However, Thearesia, who was extremely crucial to the war worsening per passing day, detachedly and unconcerned, was spending her days leisurely.
Thearesia’s first battle, where she had been unable to battle.
The battle, where the 『Sword Saint』 was expected to unleash her fierce strength, broke down completely, and her eldest brother got killed amidst the warfare. Thearesia’s heart, taking fatal damage due to that reality, was then unable to accept touching the sword again.
The truth that the current generation 『Sword Saint』 had such a dishonouring first battle was completely concealed from the public. The existence of the 『Sword Saint』 also held spiritual relevance to the kingdom. They could not dare reveal that she had cried into her brother before the fight and that she had enclosed herself away once her brother had died.
Henceforth, without letting the public be aware of it, Thearesia’s dishonour was erased from all records.
And her elder brother and younger brother, who also participated in the battle in order to protect the name of the Astrea family instead of the enclosed Thearesia, who refused to fulfill her duty as 『Sword Saint』, also died.
Her eldest brother, full of kindness, who would hear any of her wishes with true concern.
Her elder brother, who was slightly mean, but was always the first one to apologize when they made up.
Her cute younger brother, a scaredy-cat and a crybaby, who would always walk behind her, following her path.
All of them lost their lives while fighting in Thearesia’s place, who refused to fight.
“ーーI forced you into all this, didn’t I. My bad, Thearesia.”
Her uncle, the former 『Sword Saint』, who was the source of motivation for their troops, also died fighting.
Fighting ceaselessly, ignoring his injuries, and finally working for amendment of relations and a ceasefire, and ordering retreat of his troops, he died making outstanding accomplishments in the battle.
It is not as if she didn’t hold anything against her uncle.
If it weren’t for her uncle’s revelation, perhaps nobody could have had ever gotten to know about Thearesia inheriting the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』. If that would have had never been found out, her brothers may not have had prepared for being martyred in this civil war, and may not have had died at all.
If she thought about all that, then she surely did hold a grudge against him. She did, but she also felt like she didn’t.
Her uncle must have had himself known the weight of the title of 『Sword Saint』 better than anyone else. As the previous 『Sword Saint』, he also, naturally, must have had gone through the same things as Thearesia.
His actions must have had been the optimum for both the kingdom, and Thearesia, alike.
Even if that doesn’t work, his last words in his final moments.
After hearing those words, Thearesia could no longer hold a grudge against him.
Then if she were to look for someone to hold a grudge against, the only option left for her was herself.
Her self, who was always weak and crying, despite inheriting the title of 『Sword Saint』.
“Thearesia-sama is someone who will surely stand up. That time has simply not arrived yet.”
Carol, her associate, never did once try abandoning Thearesia, who had been devastated by the repeated deaths of her loved ones.
Making her first battle a sight truly unpleasant, missing opportunities due to her own selfishness, and the now enclosed, alone Thearesia, was someone Carol still wanted to have faith in.
Even the recent orders from the Royal Castle have had her replaced from areas of utmost and direct exposure.
However, even after Carol showed such strong hopefulness in her, Thearesia was unable to respond to her feelings.
Once away from Carol’s monitoring, Thearesia reflexively started walking around in the capital.
The whole place was covered by a somewhat unpleasant atmosphere, as the civil war, that had been fought for five years, had killed all of the city’s vibrancy. With that vibrancy dead, all of the people’s expressions had also died out. Away from all crowded places, away from all eyes, stood Thearesia alone.
The place which recently had become the spot where Thearesia frequented her trips to, was an area at the border of the capital.
It was an area whose development had been thrown aside due to the start of the civil war. Through the ruins and gaps in the pillars of the building, she aimed for the area behind.
What slightly opened up past that was the place Thearesia had taken liking to, an area which couldn’t even be called a plaza.
It was not so special that it would make the heart skip a beat or anything.
That empty area which existed within the ruins, would just calm the heart by emptying it of all thoughts.
In the somewhat ironically cool breeze of the morning, Thearesia headed for the back of the area.
Sitting on the detached fragments of stone, looking onto the other side, what she saw was a flower garden stretching across, with the petals of the yellow flowers dancing sweetly in the wind.
The sunlight shining in, and the soil unnecessarily adequate for the growth of the flowers.
In this clandestine setting, Thearesia had sown the seeds of these flowers. Her flowers in the mansion, back then, she had been too inept to take proper care of them, and they had all eventually died out.
However, she held similar feelings, seeing the results of the seeds she had sown whimsically.
“I haven’t even watered you…… yet you have grown this much.”
Flowers, are strong.
Even while Thearesia reflects on her own weaknesses, the flowers, looking only towards the sky, unfurl their petals, and bloom in utter magnificence.
She had earlier admired their splendour, but now she embraced her wish for their strength.
She experienced her feelings swell up, and she felt as if she were about to cry.
She achingly tried to hold back her tears, and had her fingers touch the canthus of her eyes, which had an unexpected warmth.
ーーThat was the moment, when a stinging presence got close to her.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
It was that treacherous presence itself, who had barged into Thearesia’s morning sanctuary.
Just as when she was about to show her tears, Thearesia, deliberately, said such words, in an attempt to show her strength. And then, she glanced at the one who had appeared onto the square.
She saw, and she was completely awestruck.
Trimmed brown hair, elegant yet fierce eyes, a flexible, slim and fit body, and his brimming clear skin dazzling so brightly, it was frightening.
However, what had astonished Thearesia at that moment was not something so shallow.
ーーTo Thearesia, the youth looked exactly like an unsheathed sword.
She felt as if the hot, firm, sharp steel itself had his eyes upon her.
In front of that mirage, Thearesia’s heartbeats tangled. Putting her hand on her chest, Thearesia contemplated what had happened to her.
However, the only thing that came to her mind, was that the youth would not understand the tangling of her heartbeats.
Henceforth, to hide that, Thearesia said.
“So, there are people who would come here so early in morning. All the way hereーー”
Quite the greeting, that was.
Thearesia spoke to him sociably, but the youth narrowed his eyes, and it felt as if the tip of a sword had been directly pointed towards her. A sword so stable and intense, that it did not seem like a threat.
Perhaps he intended to reject Thearesia’s unsympathetic thoughts.
Suddenly, it got unentertaining.
If he was going to use that card, neither will Thearesia hold anything back. She will make him understand that he had misunderstood that sword of his.
“……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 had judged Thearesia to be a laywoman at swordsmanship, and not just that, at fighting entirely. The truth is, he was not wrong.
Thearesia lacked any experience of actual fighting, nor did she have any records of her swinging the sword.
She was a laywoman who would be stronger than anyone else, if she were to actually fight.
“What’s a woman doing here so early in the morning.”
The youth responded, with rough and harsh words.
The voice of the youth, which she had heard for the first time, was sullen, but his voice was simple and easy to listen to.
ーーAnd once again, she felt the rhythm of her heartbeats go off-note.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Since that, Thearesia and the youth starting seeing each other again and again frequently.
Apparently, it seemed like the youth used to come to the square on fixed holidays.
It did seem like he was bothered by Thearesia’s presence, but he never forced her to go someplace else. Perhaps he thought, that the person he would have to approach was a nuisance.
For seeing that yellow flower garden, Thearesia used to walk up to the square.
There were times the youth was the first one to arrive, whereas, other times, Thearesia was the first one to do so. While Thearesia sat on the piece of concrete and admired the flower garden, while the youth devoted himself to training with the sword, swinging it with swiftness and excellent technique, and these activities became the promise of the two, who used to spend time in that place.
Glancing secretively, she looked at the swords dance of the youth.
Without thinking, she was about to voice out a sigh. Looking at the swordsmanship of others, and feeling this way, was something extremely rare for Thearesiaーー no, this may have had been the first time.
First, she remembered the disgust she had felt by the form of the youth, clutching the sword.
The youth was not at fault here, this was because of Thearesia’s own beliefs. After she ran away from her role as the 『Sword Saint』, even in the place she ran to, she had come across someone holding a sword.
She had also been chased away from the single restful place she had finally found. Such deplorable uneasiness of hers, was wiped away the moment she saw the youth’s swordsmanship.
The swinging of the sword by the youth, there was nothing particularly obsequious about it.
In the eyes of Thearesia, who possessed the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』, there were imperfections easy to find as well. Seeing the faults in the sword handling of others and feeling revulsion by it, was a bad habit of Thearesia’s, but in the youth’s case, his sheer passion was used to cover up for his flaws.
Thearesia’s brothers also, must have had dedicated their everything to the sword as well.
Even for her brothers, elder or younger, who had such devotion for the sword, it was not as if Thearesia had been unable to harbour any negative feelings.
But still, why did she not feel the same for this youth and his sword.
The answer to that, is surely surprisingly simple.
ーーThere were absolutely no impurities in the sword of the youth.
He had offered up his everything to the sword, he had dedicated his everything to the sword.
It’s easy to put it in simple words, and Thearesia thought that her brothers had done to same till now, it was unthinkable.
Truly, the youth here was full of passion, he, who only had the sword.
He had nothing but the sword. He loved nothing but the sword. He would love nothing but the sword, that was established like a swing of steel.
Observing the youth’s swordsmanship from the side, Thearesia felt warmth enter her cheeks.
Thearesia was the 『Sword Saint』. Blessed with the love of the Sword God, an existence that stood above all swordsmen.
Her existence also stood in his path, for achieving his vexatious goal.
Although it was unquestionably her own delusion, she felt as if he was asking her.
The 『Sword Saint』 Thearesia, could understand everything about the sword by just looking at it.
She could see its true nature, no matter what kind of a treasured sword, devilish sword, durable sword, or in the worst case, Dragon Sword it was. She was able to use it freely. There existed no steel which could hide its secrets in Thearesia’s hands.
He was the only one.
He was the only one, who would not bend to Thearesia’s free will.
He was a sword, yet his limits could not be determined by her self, who was the 『Sword Saint』.
Unmistakably, that is why, her self had grown to care so much about him.
“It’s Wilhelm Trias.”
Three months after meeting him for the first time, she had exchanged names with the youthーー Wilhelm.
Even though they had come across each other several times, never did they once inquire about each other’s names.
The truth is, Thearesia had been waiting for a chance to do so, but Wilhelm cluelessly ignored her wish. They had finally managed to exchange names, only 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 sympathy, nor did she particularly mind, with her thoughts preoccupied by her own self, and she used to get satisfied by talking just a bit and return back, so now, Thearesia’s heart was fluttering.
“Do you like flowers?”
“No, I hate them.”
This was his reply, even after seeing the magnificence of Thearesia’s flower garden so many times.
Undoubtedly, he was unable to respond merely to play along with the other party or uplift their spirits.
Even after having a feeling of angst because of that, she could not help but think “But, this is precisely why, he is such a sword-like person……”.
For the sword who would not bend to her will, the 『Sword Saint』 was nothing too big, and Thearesia, at that time, failed to realise how she had been saved by that.
“ーーWhy, do you swing the sword?”
Ever since they exchanged names, the words they exchanged started to vary as well.
They used to talk about flowers and just some other miscellaneous topics, and then go back. What had caused the change in that on that day, was perhaps because of the low spirits of that day.
The attempts to subdue the demi-human war had failed, and Thearesia had heard about the struggles on the battlefield.
Scattered across the kingdom, the demi-humans who were at the core behind all the destruction being caused 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 became uneasy, abruptly.
She had heard from his own mouth, that Wilhelm was not a soldier of the kingdom. Yet he was an extraordinary swordsman. On top of that, he had eyes which had seen an awful lot of blood.
In such troubled times for the kingdom, he was surely qualified to be a soldierーー rather than that, it was not he was undefeatable. Someday, even he may also no longer be able to come to this square on mornings.
Due to the anxiety caused by that, Thearesia had asked this question.
Putting a finish to his swords dance, the sweaty Wilhelm looked straight into Thearesia’s eyes, with utter seriousness. Pausing for a moment, he thought of a response, shrugging his shoulders, gesturing that he seemingly found the question stupid.
“Because this, is all I have.”
Yes, that was his steel-like response.
And for Thearesia, this was supposed to be precisely what she had hoped for.
Thearesia was well aware, of the feeling of uneasiness and isolation within her chest.
“Have you come to like flowers?”
“No, I hate them.”
“Why do you swing the sword?”
“Because this, is all I have.”
Someday, it had become a promise between them, to reiterate just this exchange of words.
Thearesia herself, had no what idea what she should expect as an answer to her restated questions. She did not know, whether it was fine for his answers to remain unchanged, or whether she should expect some variation in his unchanging responses.
Imprudently leaving things she did not know the way they were, was the very essence of Thearesia.
Like how she, despite having the title of 『Sword Saint』, had sent her brothers to their deaths, and had forced Carol into a corner, who was now desperately fulfilling her own duties.
That is why, change always arrived and passed by, 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 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.