Human Translated By:
- Garcar (Section 1.4)
Machine Translated By:
- Cirdan Lunae
Japanese to English Checking By:
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――The name Eugard Vollachia, Emperor of the Briar, was known not just within the Vollachian Empire, but also far and wide across the rest of the world.
The reason for that lay in the tale of tragic love engraved into the history of the Empire, “Iris and the King of Thorns”.
The tale that depicted the meeting and parting of the kind-hearted girl named Iris, and the Vollachian Emperor feared as the King of Thorns, along with the tragic nature of its ending, struck a chord within the hearts of many readers.
The fated meeting between the two and their first parting. Thereafter, betrayed by his vassals, the King of Thorns was ousted from the throne and reunited with Iris, and hand-in-hand the two of them began their rebellion―― since then, a long, long time had passed, and though the way of reciting the tale may have deviated from historical fact, the most important, core aspect, that of two people who were deeply in love with each other, remained completely unaltered as the story continued to be told.
Such was the extent to which the story of immutable love known as “Iris and the King of Thorns” continued to be beloved.
However, as a result, the story, being told as a tragic love tale which lit a fire within the hearts of people, ignored and concealed a part of the original historical truth.
Iris and the King of Thorns, the two of them peacefully spending their time cultivating their love, had not been the case.
During those tumultuous times, in an Empire where treachery and lamentation intertwined, they spent their days together risking their lives, fighting day and night for the sake of their desired future as they engaged in a burning love.
And indeed, Iris and the King of Thorns turned the entirety of the Vollachian Empire upside down, and finally succeeded in taking back the Empire. ――Of course, the tragedy which followed need not be said.
But, before that tragedy occurred, the two had certainly achieved their goal.
With her compassionate heart and her devoted way of being, Iris had won many allies over to their cause. With that Iris by his side, the King of Thorns achieved results in warfare befitting an Emperor of Vollachia.
Results in warfare befitting an Emperor of Vollachia―― remaining unchanged from times of yore, that was the embodiment of the Vollachian Empire’s law of iron and blood. In other words, that was proof of power.
――The Emperor of the Briar, Eugard Vollachia, was the strongest Emperor in the history of the Empire.
???: [Go FUCK yourseeelf!!]
As a bursting roar thunderously boomed out of his throat, Groovy Gumlet leapt high into the air, and discarded the kusarigama which had had its handle cut in half.
A moment later, the kusarigama which had left his hand burst into deep red flames midair.
Had he hesitated for even a moment, those flames would have likely consumed him; his fur instinctually stood on end as he realized he had nearly been burned to death. But, he did not have time to feel relief.
Eugard: [Thou doth dance well, pup. However, when it cometh to dancing, Mine Star is far more of an impressive sight to behold.]
While speaking fondly of his lover in a detached, emotionless tone, his onslaught of red streaks was relentless, as if blooming in profusion.
The weapon he wielded, which had received a blow from the kusarigama and had made it instantly burst into flame without even permitting an exchange of blows, was truly the worst―― as one would expect from the treasured sword which bore the name of the Empire, it was not just its sharpness, but even its special characteristic that was exceedingly troublesome. If it were possible, he would have very much liked to produce an article rivaling its excellent quality with his own hands.
Groovy: [If only His Fucking Excellency had let me a get a nice close look at it!]
Given that no one apart from the rightful owner could possess the treasured sword, opportunities to see the genuine article were extremely few and far between.
While expressing dissatisfaction at how he had been treated as a General First-Class, Groovy made full use of his small stature, which had been made fun of by his opponent, and evading the crimson strikes with his nimble body, he dodged, dodged, and dodged once more.
He evaded because getting hit was not an option; though it was primitive, it was the optimal solution to use against such an enemy. If it had been Goz or Moguro here, they would have received the blow without evading, meeting their ends in a fiery blaze.
As the aftermath of the slashes incinerated the cityscape, Groovy’s nose took in the burning smell as he successfully managed to dodge the gale of the crimson sword. However, he was still unable to catch his breath.
Even if he dodged the Yang Sword, which scorched the world as it cut through, the subsequent flash of blackness would bisect the world.
Not even his habitual cursing was able to escape his mouth.
As the barrage of powerful swings came from the Yang Sword, Eugard twisted his body and unleashed a brandish of the Fiend Sword, causing Groovy’s fur to stand on end as he ducked while the blade scythed just a centimeter above his head.
The result of this slash did not end with just his relief at his head not flying off.
Along the trajectory which the blade had traced, a few dozen meters in front of where the stroke had cut, the cityscape of the Imperial Capital slanted diagonally, a series of severed buildings crumbling in its wake.
Its cutting edge was so plainly absurd that even making a dedicated sheath for the blade had been rife with difficulties, such was the might of the blade known as the Fiend Sword Murasame.
This Fiend Sword, which manifested such impossible power, naturally required a suitable compensation in order to be wielded. If the wielder were an ordinary person, it would be an untread area which could cost them their very life――.
Groovy: [Going whoosh whoosh whoosh with it, you have some nerve swinging it around so fucking casually…!]
Eugard: [Dost thou hold concern for I whilst we face off against each other? If such is the case, thy fears art unwarranted. Diminutive beings such as thee need only worry over thyselves. In regards to worrying over mineself, Mine Star alone is sufficient.]
Groovy: [You don’t make any fucking sense!]
In his right hand, the Yang Sword Vollachia, and in his left hand, the Fiend Sword Murasame.
Though the foe who dual-wielded the worst possible combination of two swords that Groovy could possibly imagine had not given his name, so long as he held the Yang Sword without bursting into flames, it showed that he possessed the due qualifications to wield it.
Additionally, green hair with a crown of thorns, this situation in which the dead were revived as the undead―― the identity of the person dual-wielding the two worst blades, a terrible possibility rose to the surface in Groovy’s mind as he spat out an endless string of curses.
Groovy: [Eugard Vollachia…]
Eugard: [Even if thou dost not call out to mineself, I am aware of mine own personage. However, for recognizing mineself even though we art separated by time, I bestow mine praise unto thy discernment.]
Bearing blades of instant death in both hands, he stated this in a crushing voice to his foe who had opened up some distance between them.
And then from the front, the undead, standing atop the burning wreckage of the buildings, drew back his chin solemnly at Groovy’s call.
Hearing the undead’s―― Eugard’s reply, Groovy snorted his nose with a bad attitude, and,
Groovy: [Even so, I’m still somebody who actually reads books among the fucking Generals of the First-Class. And I may as well just fucking say this while I’m at it, I’m one of the Nine Divine Generals.]
Eugard: [Nine Divine Generals… Ah, so it yet remaineth in existence, that position.]
Groovy: [Though it seems like it completely fucking vanished in your era.]
In front of Eugard, whose inflectionless speech did not indicate whether he was interested or not, Groovy put his arms behind his waist, drawing two hatchets from it and holding them at the ready.
He still had plenty of Curse Tools. The problem was not Groovy’s remaining number of Curse Tools, but rather his remaining amount of lifeforce.
While interlocking gazes with Eugard, he glanced down at his own chest at the edge of his vision. Like before, his chest, in which his heart was stored, was being stabbed by sharp, transparent thorns as they writhed.
It was good that he had hastily prepared to deal with the Curse of Thorns that gnawed at his heart by running poison through himself, but this daredevil strategy was not designed for the long haul.
The Curse of Thorns was, by how it had looked, a powerful curse that indiscriminately engulfed a wide area centered on the caster. Therefore, he had anticipated that the user would be the type to hide while focusing on operating and maintaining the curse.
That had been naive. Very naive. His guess was completely off the mark, and far from being in hiding, the enemy was imposingly wielding powerful weapons―― no, the weapons were indeed powerful, but the weapons alone were not the reason for this tough fight.
It was because the wielder of the weapons was a person of extraordinary power.
In the current Vollachian Empire, the status of General First-Class indicated the position of the Nine Divine Generals.
That system had been restored by the current Emperor, Vincent Vollachia, and though it had been repeatedly revived and erased several times throughout history, it was during the reign of none other than Eugard Vollachia that the system of the Nine Divine Generals was first lost.
For what reason had the system of the Nine Divine Generals been eradicated during Eugard’s reign?
Eugard: [――Naught else could hath been done. For those weaker than mineself hadst made an attempt on the life of Mine Star.]
――That was the reason why the Emperor of the Briar himself had executed all the Nine Divine Generals of his time with his own hands, not sparing even a single one.
Of course, Groovy had not been a part of the Nine Divine Generals at that time, nor were there transcendent figures such as Cecilus or Arakiya. But even so, he did not think that the powerful individuals who bore the title Nine Divine Generals were so weak that they could not hold a candle to Groovy and the rest of the current Divine Generals.
Groovy: [――Gonna be a fucking short-term decisive battle!]
Eugard: [Cease from piling on more impure utterances. ‘Tis irreverent.]
Kicking off the streets where slash marks had been etched, Groovy’s body flew toward Eugard.
Groovy was readied with two hatchets, and while pointing out his manner of speech rather than those weapons, Eugard was calmly poised to intercept with the Yang Sword. To his opponent who stood ready to intercept him, Groovy furiously bared his fangs, and he struck with his hatchets in a vertical attack.
Naturally, the strike was blocked by the Yang Sword, which had been raised overhead, but that was just what he wanted.
At the moment the Yang Sword collided with the hatchets, cracks formed in Eugard’s face. Literally.
The crack on the cheek of his pale, prim face was proof that Groovy’s blow had permeated through his opponent.
Groovy: [It worked, but fuck off!]
At the puzzled Eugard, Groovy laughed with a sidelong glance as the hatchets were blown away in a blaze of flame.
To avoid the spread of fire, he had let go of the hatchets the moment they hit the Yang Sword, but the effect of those Curse Tools―― not cutting them, but forcing an impact through them, was activated.
Originally, it was a Curse Tool that had been made to kill opponents who wore thick armor and steel helmets even when they were still clad in that equipment. The blade of the hatchet vibrated immensely at such a minute scale that it could not be seen; even the slightest contact would cause the vibrations to be sent throughout the opponent’s body, pulverizing their bones and viscera.
Though would be lethal damage for a living person, he was not sure how effective it would be against an undead――,
Eugard: [Enthralling. But if thou art incapable of continuing onward――]
Groovy: [Who ever said anything like that? I’ve got a fuckton of Curse Tools left!]
As if one or two axes were not enough, Groovy pulled out two more hatchets and readied them in both hands. Upon hearing Groovy’s answer, Eugard slightly raised the eyebrows of his cracked face.
A hatchet was thrown, Eugard gyrated his body to avoid being hit, and then fired off a slash. Groovy also avoided the slash by jumping, and continued to throw hatchets one after the other.
Groovy: [Ora ora ora ora ora ora oraahhh!]
Between the barking Groovy and the silent Eugard, a momentary combat between the two turned into a fierce struggle.
As Groovy threw his Curse Tools as he pleased, Eugard continued to fire blows from his combination of the Yang Sword and the Fiend Sword in return.
At a glance, the battle appeared to be evenly matched with only one move from either side needed to tilt the odds in their favor, but in reality, Groovy was at a major disadvantage.
His remaining strength, his number of remaining Curse Tools, and the lethality of each of their weapons, were all unfavorable to him.
The deadly poison that coursed through his veins was draining his life, and the Curse Tools that he kept using would eventually run out. While these Curse Tools might have caused great damage when they connected, the opponent’s swords would spell certain death if they were to hit.
Even to an untrained eye, it was obvious which side had the advantage, and even more so for the two parties involved in the fight.
That was why Groovy capitalized on being at a disadvantage.
Groovy: [I’ll fucking show you something.]
Groovy did not consider himself to be particularly strong among the Nine Divine Generals.
He once prided himself on being the strongest in Vollachia. However, after being recruited by Vincent and seeing others who had been given the same rank of General, those illusions vanished.
He desired to be strong, but he did not want to step out of line, and he was not qualified to do so.
He was no match for Cecilus with his strength, Arakiya with her explosive power, Olbart with his versatility, Chisha with his intellect, Goz with his caliber as a General, Moguro with their survivability, Yorna with her unorthodoxy, Madelyn with her anti-army capabilities, and Balleroy with his anti-unit efficiency.
That was Groovy’s self-assessment and the point he’d arrived at as a general.
However, aside from that, Groovy had strengths that the other Generals did not possess.
――Groovy excelled in his relentless dedication and method of killing his opponents.
During his throw, a large amount of blood poured out of Groovy’s mouth with a bloodshot look in his eyes.
This was the result of the poison circulating throughout his body, causing blood vessels to break, which then overflowed as they broke all over his body. At the sight of Groovy vomiting blood, Eugard’s expression did not waver.
He, too, was a master martial artist, and he must have known that Groovy was approaching him with some means of resisting the Curse of Thorns. But also, that this was placing a burden on Groovy’s body that he would not be able to endure for long.
The blood he vomited only confirmed this belief.
Even if Eugard’s blades did not reach him, Groovy would die of exhaustion on his own. Indeed, Eugard must have discerned this with his insight.
Because of this, he would not be able to fully avoid Groovy’s mist of blood, as he spewed all of the accumulated blood from his mouth.
Eugard frowned slightly, evaporating the mist of blood with the flames of the Yang Sword.
The blood contained the poison that Groovy had taken in, but even if one were exposed to it, the damage would be negligible. The goal, however, was not to poison his opponent.
It was to apply Groovy’s blood. ――It was successfully applied to his sleeve, which he could not shake off.
Groovy: [Like fish in a fucking barrel.]
Immediately after, Groovy smiled, his bloody fangs showing. Around Eugard―― the countless hatchets he had dodged so far drew close to him, as if pulled by a string.
Using Groovy’s blood as a medium to acquire its target, it was a guided tomahawk application of Curse Tool known as “blood hatchets”.
Eugard: [This is…]
Eugard dodged the incoming blood hatchet, but then his eyes widened as he saw it circle around and come back again.
Eugard, with his incredible physical prowess, dodged, dodged, dodged, and continued to dodge the storm of blood hatchets coming at him from all directions, but unless he knocked them down, they would eventually catch up to him as they came flying at him endlessly.
However, Groovy was not so well-behaved as to wait for that eventuality.
Groovy: [You’re probably wondering when it’s gonna fucking end, aren’t you? I’ll give you the answer!]
As he said this, Groovy was not holding an additional blood hatchet, but rather the severed weighted chain from the kusarigama that had been burned by the Yang Sword in the initial attack.
A specially engineered chain weight, it was briefly spun, and then was thrown with arrow-like speed at Eugard’s feet as he struggled to evade the blood hatchets.
Eugard turned his wrist to catch the chain weight with the middle of the Yang Sword.
Immediately seeing the difference between it and the blood hatchets, it was a brilliant move on his part deciding that it would be safe to defend against it. However, in the arsenal of the Master of Curse Tools, Groovy Gumlet, there was nothing one could safely touch.
At the moment of impact, the chain weight glowed red, and a tremendous explosion enveloped Eugard.
Tossed by the blast and flames, Eugard finally let out a distressed cry and was blown away. Nevertheless, Eugard straightened up his limp body, and he immediately tried to prepare for a follow-up attack.
Aiming toward Eugard, the blood hatchets swarmed the motionless target.
One blood hatchet could shatter bones, two could crush internal organs, and three or more could end a life.
With ten or twenty of them pouring down, not even Eugard could withstand it.
Therefore, Groovy felt sure that he had killed him――,
Eugard: [――Stand tall. Thou art stronger than all the Nine Divine Generals of mine era.]
A moment later, Eugard’s fearless face appeared before Groovy’s eyes.
A slash from the Fiend Sword sliced off Groovy’s right ear as he leaned forward, and a kick from his leaping opponent hit him in the midsection, sending his small body flying backward.
But, as he was being sent flying, Groovy undid his waistband, swung his snakewhip sword, which was made from a series of snakepeople fangs, and began to cleave at the head of the pursuing Eugard.
Eugard: [If thou hadst been among the insurrectionists, the life of Mine Star may hath even been in danger.]
As it unwinded, the snakewhip sword unleashed a long, undulating blow akin to the body of a serpent.
Unsparingly dismantling it with the Fiend Sword as it approached him, Eugard appraised Groovy’s fighting strength by comparing it to his own experiences.
And as proof of his honor at that evaluation from the strongest Emperor in all history, Groovy aligned his feet, and fired two grappling hooks from the cuffs of his trousers in an attempt to shatter both shoulders of his opponent.
Eugard: [Even under such circumstances, thou art as sumptuous as ever.]
As the heels of his feet were whittled down by those grappling hooks, Eugard delivered a kick to Groovy; coughing up blood as a result of that kick, Groovy ripped off the cloth wrapped around his neck, and unfurled it into the air.
For a moment, the line of sight between Groovy and Eugard was obstructed.
Groovy: [Go, fuck, yourSELLLLL――!!]
From the one side of that unfurled cloth, Groovy flicked the magic crystal embedded in his throat, and hit Eugard with a surging roar that rumbled the very atmosphere.
From an unseeable position, with an onslaught equivalent to sound itself, it was a surprise attack that was impossible to dodge.
But, against that sound, Eugard displayed the true ability of the Fiend Sword.
――“To get to the point”, there existed such a saying.
It meant to get down to the heart of a matter, but in all things there was an appropriate “point”. No matter the object or phenomenon, or even concept, there existed a “point” that signified its essence.
The Fiend Sword Murasame, was an Enchanted Sword that bisected that perceived “point”.
Murasame hated Groovy, who had melted it down, and reforged it in the past, so in order to prevent his outstanding sense of smell from sniffing it out, it cut the point of its “scent”.
Since then, it has become impossible for anybody to pursue the Fiend Sword Murasame by scent.
And here, Murasame had cut the surging roar that Groovy had unleashed.
Groovy’s eardrums heard the sound of the magic crystal embedded in his throat shattering, and the moment he realized that, the slash of the sword was about to cleave Groovy in twain――,
A sudden gust of wind had saved the life that should have been severed.
???: [Deary me, that was a real close call. I was just takin’ a stroll and happened ta save yer life, fella.]
With the Curse Tools he had sent forth for an emergency evacuation having all been made powerless, Groovy’s life had been on the verge of eradication; carrying him, the tall figure who had unexpectedly appeared spoke in a laid-back tone.
Groovy was surprised by that sudden interloper, but Eugard could not conceal his shock either.
Not only had he interrupted this fierce battle, but his presence drawing closer had not even been felt until this moment.
???: [Ah, pushin’ yerself ain’t no good. It was the technique that got cut, but the effect is goin’ all the way ta yer voice. If ya try force yerself ta speak, you’ll never speak again.]
Responding to Groovy’s voice, which sounded like it was clotted with blood, the person who had perfectly ascertained what had happened―― the wolfman with black fur, let Groovy down.
Then, with his eyes that were as thin as threads, he looked over towards Eugard, who was glaring at him,
Wolfman: [I see. A Curse Tool that can chase ya down ta the ends of the world sure is useful, and yet it was made powerless with a single arm. However…]
Pausing his words there, the wolfman watched as Eugard’s missing right arm grew back.
As the wolfman had said, the moment the storm of blood hatchets exploded, Eugard had pruned off the entirety of the right arm which had blood on its sleeve, and had managed to avoid it.
It was not as though that method of evasion had been outside of Groovy’s consideration, but if one lost an arm, their actions would dull accordingly. Even when keeping the fact that they were an undead in mind, that should not have changed.
Despite all that, Eugard displayed immutable movements before and after losing his arm.
That had been beyond Groovy’s expectations, and if not for the wolfman’s interference, he would have connected with a fatal opening that caused him to lose his life. ――But, the significance of that was.
Groovy: [Oi, fuhgger.]
Wolfman: […Just now, did ya call me a fucker?]
Groovy: [Moar impohrtuntlee…Hk.]
Wolfman: [I know, I know. I’d be fully aware even if ya didn’t tell me.]
Nodding at the appeal, the wolfman put his golden kiseru in his mouth, and set the tip alight.
Then, while puffing out smoke, he slightly lowered the pitch of his voice and continued.
Wolfman: [Golly, guess there really are some casters who got nasty personalities. ――There ain’t an ounce of love in this.]
Seeing the same thing as the wolfman as he spoke those words, Groovy harbored a similar impression.
Eugard ascertained the feeling of his regrown right arm; holding the Fiend Sword in his left hand, the powerful Emperor of yore threw off the garment that had been singed by the explosion.
――Just like Groovy, the Curse of Thorns had also been planted upon Eugard’s chest.