Chapter 4: Slumbering Ancients
Even though I couldn’t protect her when the Empire attacked, even though I failed to protect Andromeda back then, at the very least I should fulfill this very promise I made to her, and to do that, I cannot die here.
Strong determination to live rose up within my once lifeless body. Musturing whatever courage and strength that I wielded, I broke free from Asclepius’ overwhelming killing intent.
Even if I were to die, I will at least go down trying.
I drew the short sword that Harry, the blacksmith, had given me a few days before and gripped the hilt firmly in my hands.
For Zennair. For Valtan. For Andromeda.
With sword in hand, I charged headlong towards Asclepius. My heart raced as various emotions fuelled my body movements, propelling it forwards, while sweat trickled down my forehead and back as nervousness also began to take root.
What if I miss? What if I fail to kill him?
Despite the various doubts I had, I chose to believe in Valtan’s training and more than that, Andromeda. Whereas, Asclepius no longer took any chances and prepared his body, positioning it in a fighting stance.
As I entered the strike range of Asclepius, he suddenly extended his fist towards me. It was as fast as lightning, barely gave me any time to react. However, I had narrowly managed to dodge it by sliding under his arm instinctively, causing him to miss me by just a hair’s length. Nonetheless, it was this miss that costed him greatly as it opened up his vulnerable body to me, allowing me to slice freely into his torso.
“How unfortunate. Looks like it’s your loss.”
I was momentarily stunned by his words.
What do you mean it’s my loss?
But I came to realize soon enough when the elbow of his extended arm came sharply from behind.
I can’t defend against that.
I looked back at the elbow as I braced myself to get hit. It was just too fast.
“I. Will. Not. Let you. Touch him!!”
Valtan suddenly appeared before me, blocking Asclepius’ powerful strike with Marcy, shattering her in the process. Sharp bits of the axe head flew in all directions like shrapnel, impaling the body of Valtan and Asclepius.
“Sorry I’m late. Got kinda held up a little.”
Valtan said that merrily as he wielded what was left of Marcy.
Huh? What? How did Valtan survive all those attacks?
However, the answer to those questions laid in Valtan’s body. It was different from his usual fair white or even silver skin complexion. Instead, it gleamed bright yellow, resembling imperial gold that coated the entire surface of his face and body, while his eyes glowed a vermillion red, as if the very cinders of his willpower and determination were reflected in those eyes.
Holding the remaining hilt of Marcy tightly, he drove whatever’s left of the axe head straight into the back of asclepius. Intense air pressure shook the chamber as a shockwave radiated outwards from the impact of the axe head.
Absorbing the impact of the axe head on, his body froze in place fleetingly, before toppling over and unto the ground. Consequently, Valtan stepped onto his limp body, pinning him in place.
At the same time, It finally hit me that Marcy, who has never shown any mercy, was also broken from the fight earlier. As such, I tossed my shortsword towards Valtan, which he caught gracefully with his back hand and held it to Asclepius’ neck.
“Ahahahah! Looks like you’ve got me! But do you really want to kill me?”
Unfazed by the sudden change in events, Asclepius made a mischievous smile as he pitched that question to Valtan.
Valtan however, replied with just a smug grin and directed the blade into Asclepius’ neck.
“Looks like this is the end Asclepius -”
“What if I were to join your very ranks?”
Asclepius interjected with remarkable sangfroid, causing Valtan to forcibly stop his hand mid-motion. The tip of the blade barely grazed against the thick rubbery skin of Asclepius’ neck. Metallic silver blood oozed from the thin line drawn by the blade.
“Ahahahaha! Are you kidding? You just killed many of my good men in cold blood! Surely you jest!”
Valtan’s hand shook ever so slightly as he hesitated from driving the blade into Asclepius’ neck.
“Ah but don’t you think a cyclops would be much better as a soldier compared to those… weaklings? My kind are already hard to find as it is, and to find one such as the great me who speaks… ”
Asclepius’ words trailed on as Valtan’s grip on his weaponed loosened, deliberating over his unexpected proposal.
Are you seriously considering it? He just tried to kill us you know? Just end him already!
Worry and anger seeped into my heart as I watched on to this unfolding scene.
“Moreover, don’t you want to know more about your past? Your… elf heritage? Seeing that even you yourself aren’t aware of it, wouldn’t you want to know more about it?”
However, instead of enticing Valtan with those words, Valtan immediately snapped back into reality and firmly gripped his sword, putting it closer to Asclepius’ neck.
“How do I know I can trust you? How do I know that this isn’t just a ploy?”
To Valtan’s interrogation, Asclepius remained silent as he stared back into the passionate eyes of Valtan.
With a long sigh, Asclepius finally answered in a deep tone.
“Very well. You have proven your strength to me. Although we are mostly solitary creatures, Cyclops value strength and courage. Facing against me, you displayed exemplary courage and strength, never giving up. Furthermore, the passion that burns for what you care for, I acknowledge your abilities. My only request and sole purpose for existing was to fight strong opponents and that doesn’t change even now. So please accept me as your retainer and lead me into battles worthy of myself in which I may find eternal glory in battle.”
Valtan curved his eyebrows as his face displayed a conflicted emotion, before ultimately threatening Asclepius with a bleak tone.
“Then should you betray me, you shall die in many ways unimaginable.”
“Fair enough. I will look forward to working with you.”
Hearing the conclusion of his mind-boggling proposal, I was rendered absolutely speechless.
What? Why did Valtan accept Asclepius’ proposal so easily?
Meanwhile, Valtan had instead turned to face me as his skin returned back to its normal complexion. Lifting his gaze to look at me, he shrugged his shoulders and let out a long sigh, before speaking out with mixed feelings.
“It’s finally over. Time to go back home, Aegeus.”
Written by: Emelia-Tan
Edited by: Schwarz13 and Mega14343
Proofread by: Yakult