I rushed through Fort Valga, ignoring the shouts of people asking if I was okay. I had no time to think about anything else. Merely that the fact of a broken bond between a Master and an Electi meant one of the two had died.
Hopping onto a levi-board as soon as there was open space, I whizzed off toward the battlefield.
That possibility had always been in my mind – the fact that one of us would have to be sacrificed for the sake of the other. The signs had been clear to me.
Lau’s sudden recovery after his Master, Jiro, was slain. Saki’s moment of hesitation after she had killed Oswald. The belief that Lady Kaguya needed to be freed from her corrupted Electi. The burden of darkness was suddenly reduced when they were no longer connected to the Master.
However, that was not what I wanted. Rather than allowing myself to be saved by Eryn’s death, I would have rather cut myself off to keep the darkness from infecting her further.
At this point, I felt so hollow, so alone, that I could hardly bear it. My connection with Eryn was probably deeper than all others, steeped in the love that we had for each other. That was what made it hurt so much. And why, I wanted to protect her at the very least.
But I had been too late. Cornelius’s sudden death was the trigger for my demonification. And if Saki and Katalina had not stopped me, then I would have done far more damage.
That was why I decided – to fight by Eryn’s side, to protect her, and see it through to the end. If by chance that our fate was doomed, then I wanted to be the one to take that hit. Even if she hated me for it, I would have stepped into that fatal blow before I could turn and hurt anyone else. Then, I would have played it off as an accident and told her to move on without me.
As she had suffered long enough.
I wanted her to live. To see the result of everyone’s sacrifice. The life that her parents gave birth to, the people that fought desperately for her role in the world, and above all, a chance for her to find happiness, no matter how little it could be.
I had squandered my life, one full of dull moments of peace up through adulthood. But for Eryn, she never got to live freely. Her duties and the constant danger that revolved around her never gave her a chance to breathe. To choose who she wanted to be, rather than do what was expected of her.
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I rode, the wind blowing them dry before they could reach halfway down.
If Eryn died, then what would I do with my life? What purpose was there to a Masterless Electi?
Surely, I could continue on, as normal, like Saki and Ludmila, leaping forward into battle and clinging onto others. Maybe I could even settle down and live to an old age like Lau.
But I knew that I would still regret it. The fact that I let Eryn die. That I wasn’t able to stop things before it got to that point. No matter how ‘out of my hands’ it seemingly was, that didn’t ease the pain I felt. Even if others didn’t blame me, I couldn’t forgive myself. I couldn’t reject the thought that there must have been some way to change things.
Ahead of me, I caught sight of Sistina’s army. A quick scan of the horizon told me that Eryn was not there. I would know it in an instant; her mana signature was unmistakable even at a distance with my enhanced vision.
However, it wasn’t just broken objects nearby lying all around me. Now, the entire world was filled with cracks. I looked around me, noting that miasma leaked all around. I had not fully recovered, but strangely, this miasma felt… more controlled. Like it didn’t threaten to engulf me for using it. The charm around my neck was still working, but that accessory didn’t stem the discomfort I felt. This sickness was completely different. I hated myself for thinking that it was fine, even for a moment.
I charged forward, past the defensive line and towards the city that had been all but destroyed.
People standing guard on top of the wall aimed their guns at me and fired, but I could easily see the bullet trails that were bright purple. Taking my knife out I swatted away what I couldn’t dodge, surprised at how much easier it was to deflect them.
Then I noticed. A thin veil of miasma coated my body, offering its protection from harm. It was just like the aura Saki emitted that one time, which made it difficult to damage her without hurting myself.
I welcomed it. That would keep anyone from hindering my search. However, they wouldn’t seem to let me simply pass, calling out for reinforcements while firing.
Finally, I gave up when the crowd chasing me got too thick. Even with all the gunfire being blocked by the miasma, it was still annoying. Holding my knife forward, I pounced on the nearest one, delivering a blow that tore through his body and left a huge gash. That wasn’t surprising given my current state. The last time I fought while cloaked in darkness, I was unable to control the effect of my critical attacks.
Regardless, I didn’t have the patience for it. My knife sliced and sliced, sending spurts of blood into the air. These Purnesian soldiers wouldn’t give up, no matter how much of a disadvantage they were at. By the end of it, my black outfit had become stained in blood. The knife that was meant for cooking looked nothing more than one wielded by a butcher of human flesh.
But I no longer cared.
My silly ideals had led up to this point, and I had paid for it.
What hope could I see in this broken world? Why had I tried so hard to be something that I wasn’t? My very power was meant for destruction. I had been bestowed with that ability from the very start, and only my selfish reasons had kept me from using that fully.
And by holding back, I had lost those that were dear to me. I couldn’t let that happen any longer.
I moved on, scouring the area for any sign of Eryn. I prayed for some sign of her, anything that would give me some form of conclusion. Ten minutes later, I found exactly what I needed.
A well-dressed officer holding up a gleaming sword, like it was a treasure that he had just obtained. A sword that sparkled so brightly that gems danced along its blade as it moved through the air.
Instantly, my feet dashed toward that direction, abandoning my board. Hearing me approach, the officer barked out to the others in surprise before gunfire rained upon me. A total of no less than fifty guns fired in my direction, but that didn’t even cause me to blink.
Rather, the rage I felt in seeing him hold that blade caused my miasma to spread out. I waved my arm forward, seeing a purple wind blow towards the bullets rapidly approaching. To my surprise, that fit of rage knocked away the metal balls, causing them to explode into confetti with a chorus of pops.
I was momentarily surprised by this but continued advancing. When I came to the first person, I slashed with my knife, only to find that it once again emitted a purple wind like a shockwave. And just like the first person who I had bisected with my knife, the others that were standing in the path of the wind fell over, cut into pieces.
I had no time to linger as the others aimed their guns at me. My arms swung out of reflex, sending more of that deadly, purple wind forward. Like a switch had been flipped within me, I let the attacks flow. And soon, crimson dyed the debris around the area, coming from bodies that had been split apart.
Eventually, the officer holding Eryn’s sword motioned for the remaining few to retreat, knowing that he was likely doomed. He held the gleaming blade in front of me, a futile effort at putting up a guard. He eyed me carefully.
“Back away, Demon! Others will come to slay you!”
I cocked my head, thinking that his statement was almost laughable. What right did they have to call me a demon? I had refrained from taking any lives all this time, yet nothing I did seemed to matter anymore.
I swooped forward and swung my knife low. I didn’t want to risk damaging my Master’s precious heirloom. With a grunt of pain, the man toppled to the ground, both legs having been severed at the knees.
I was tired of being merciful. I wanted answers now. “Where?! Where did you find that sword!?”
With a sneer, the man spat at me. “As if telling you will save me, Monster.”
Surely in his eyes, the unnatural powers of an Electi spewing miasma was like facing the indomitable might of a Demon Lord. But then again, bullies in my original world spat out such nonsense when they lost the high ground too, cowering when they realized I could fight back. This world was the same, only the situations that made that distinction different.
I sliced the wrists that held that sword, shaking the severed hands away. My only concern was being thankful that I had gotten some part of her back. The man yelped and crawled away in his pitiful state. No longer caring about him, my mind went to the strange attacks that I did.
It was clear to me that I possessed a skill that I didn’t have before, so I opened my status window to check. Maybe, something changed after almost demonizing, but the new power didn’t make me feel quite so sick, almost as if the miasma no longer fought within me. A new line of text was there, below my eye skills.
‘The River Styx –
Like a body of water, your miasma flows outward, seeking death upon all those it touches. It penetrates. It drowns. Its power brings all to an end.’
Slowly, my lips curled into a smirk. And then, I laughed. A laugh that hung in the air, giving anyone that happened to hear it the chills.
The world had revealed to me my role – a fate that was apparently inescapable.
No matter how much I tried to run from my other self, that was not meant to be. My power was to cut, to smash, and to destroy whatever I touched. Regardless of how I tried to coat it over with pacifism and proper ideals, that was the core of my power.
‘One who targets the weak points and brings everything crashing down.’
That was the nature of the ‘Electi of Critical’.
As a wave of cries echoed in the distance, I looked up and gazed forward. The derelict landscape soon flooded with the sight of people carrying guns. The ones who had escaped not long ago had called for their friends, apparently.
The normal person would stare upon this swarm of enemies in fear, but as for me, I simply clutched Eryn’s sword tightly, as if wishing to borrow her strength and bravery. And above all, the will to march forward.
Looking at my other hand, I dropped the chef knife, watching it go ‘plink’ upon the ground.
There was no need to hide behind some silly role, making excuses of what I shouldn’t do. That was the ‘cowardly me’. That was the ‘indecisive me.’ Someone who balked at fighting if he didn’t secure the advantages ahead of time.
I pointed Radiant Light forward, determined to stand my ground. The miasma around me flared up. Strangely, it seemed to respond in sync with me now. The only silver lining in this whole fiasco of a Master-Electi game.
Even against countless odds, I was ready to give it my all. Giving a hearty yell, I charged forward, the sword hanging up in the air for all to see.
As the bang of guns firing sent bullets soaring towards me, the Purnesian Army only saw the form of a demon coming for them. Dark purple shrouded that body, and a sword waved around that slowly dimmed until its shine came out no more.
The cries of death, and then for retreat, soon followed. The Grim Reaper had come back to finish the job, purging the City of Lodz of his enemies. Like a disaster of legend, this threat sought and destroyed all who was in the area, unleashing its fangs while searching for a corpse that couldn’t be found.
The Army of Sistina merely looked on, frozen by the eerie silence that came afterward. They would never forget the lone pair of eyes that pierced their gaze as he returned home triumphant, but bitter nonetheless.
Volume 7 End