My attack stat… – V9 Chap 277 – The Forsaken World (4)

‘When did the feeling of loneliness become an excuse for love?’ Eryn thought as she stared at the unfamiliar ceiling.

After Claude killed the King of Sistina in the heat of the moment, the two of them escaped from the castle and left the capital. With his unstoppable strikes that could sever flesh and magic, there were few that could even oppose them as they fled.

They spent the night in some small town, far from the capital. Away from the pursuit that would eventually come for the two of them. After all, they were fugitives at large now. A bounty was likely on their heads already, and soon, the entire kingdom would know.

One night of respite was likely all they had before the entire populace would hear the news. Given this short break, there was something that Eryn felt like she had to do.

Eryn turned her head to the side, seeing Claude in bed with her. Her hand brushed across her bare skin underneath the sheets, and then, to the naked body that was lightly snoring next to her. The warmth made her loneliness ever so less, and once she tasted it, the warmth became almost intoxicating.

This was all she could offer – a reward for Claude giving up everything to stay with her. Her body and her heart were all his. That was the price she felt deserving to keep the one connection she had left in this world.

And he took it hesitantly, his arms holding her tightly like protecting something precious. His advances were slow and gentle, cautious but filled with desire. They could both tell that it was something new for them, but regardless, they hungered for a bond that couldn’t be any deeper. Some tangible action reinforced the vows that they made to protect each other.

But that was all done in haste. Eryn didn’t believe in love at first sight. The tragedies of reality struck loads of sense into her, rather than the romantics that other girls of nobility drowned themselves in.

After all, they hardly knew a thing about each other. But a life-or-death situation forced them to act. To fight and survive. To go against everyone and make them their enemies. How else could Eryn justify such a turn of events?

If this wasn’t love, then why else would they go so far for each other? There was no doubt that Claude was currently her dearest person, but how deep were her feelings? Her heart was like a muddy pond in which the dirt had been freshly stirred; she couldn’t see the bottom of it.

Eryn shook her head. That was only a minor worry compared to everything else. She eyed the sun creeping over the edge of the horizon through the window. It was almost time to hit the road again, running until no one could chase them anymore.


Over the next few weeks, the pair traveled in disguise. While being discovered posed a risk, there was little choice but to stay in the towns along the way. Gathering what resources they could in the wild, they could trade for other supplies.

Fortunately, Eryn had the ability to cast Mirage, a spell that distorted light to make themselves invisible. However, that only worked on people that weren’t perceptive to magic. They still had to avoid trained soldiers and knights.

Claude’s mana detection eyes were invaluable for that, as the residuals of mana lingered where they passed by. Because of that, they were able to slip through towns, get what they needed, and continue on their way.

There was no destination in mind, their thoughts only upon keeping on the move to lose anyone on their trail. Of course, there were bounty hunters and agents of the kingdom that would get the jump on them occasionally. Fighting them was inevitable as the bounty on their heads was enough for a person to live like a nobleman for years. Not unexpected for someone that committed regicide.

But those people quickly found that the outrageous reward suited the task at hand. Claude’s strength completely ignored the levels of others. And as Claude’s own level grew from kills, Eryn’s Attack and Magic stats also grew tremendously.

Every person that came after them with bloodlust ended up the same. Diced into bits and pieces by Claude’s strikes. Smashed in one sword swing or overwhelmed by a single magic spell by Eryn. Their individual combat ability made them almost demonic. They couldn’t afford to go easy on those after them.

“Hey Eryn, hasn’t it slowed down as of late?” Claude asked her one day.

Eryn briefly checked her stats before responding. “I can’t imagine there being too many people above level 50 in this kingdom. Even less that would risk their necks against attacks that hold the touch of death. That goes to show how much stronger we’ve gotten since then. And how word has spread about us.”

“I guess they lost the opportunity to take care of us before we became far too great of a threat,” Claude joked. The mood as of late had grown less tense. Despite the bitterness he felt with every person slain, Claude tried his best to keep the situation lighthearted. At the very least, he felt like he had to, for both their sakes.

They were good at not causing any disruptions within the towns. Even if they were tailed by some people after them, they could divert their approach and head to a quiet place to confront them. It wouldn’t do to involve the townsfolk, who only saw them as a traveling couple covered by cloaks. People generally didn’t care unless one’s actions hinted at funny business, but Eryn was a natural at avoiding those kinds of perceptions.

And as attacks slowed down in frequency, there was some breathing room in between. Enough to grasp some sense of normalcy. And some time to reinforce Claude’s closeness to Eryn. She wouldn’t have made it this far without him, and she would continue to depend on him going forward. She would learn to love him no matter what.

The guilt of offering herself to him prematurely soon faded with time and frequency. The thrill of the affection that she had always wanted was a drug to her senses and a sedative to her constant worries. Unlike her, Claude hadn’t grasped the full weight of their actions – the crime of slaying two of the most prominent people in the kingdom.

In his mind, he did what he had to do – protect the woman that he loved. He held no loyalty to anything else.

‘Love… is that really the case? Is he not just clinging onto me because they are two sides of the same coin?’

Eryn couldn’t help but worry about their flimsy bond. But, there was no time to dwell on such things. She would love him. Fully, completely, like how he was loving her back. That was the only way to find happiness in this world. A world that had forsaken them.


Another unfamiliar ceiling.

That was what Claude stared at as he lay in bed next to his slumbering partner. It was his turn to keep watch, but that had only started after another round of night-time activity.

He looked over at Eryn. Her platinum hair spread over the sheets as her gentle breathing slowly moved it against the moonlight. He had grown used to this view after several weeks. But still, he couldn’t help but reach out and stroke the fine locks of silk.

He loved her. At least, as much as he believed that he could. Enough to fight for her. Enough to die for her. How quickly that affection grew, it surprised even him. Perhaps, it was due to a long-sought desire for a real relationship. All his life, he felt inadequate and unfulfilled.

But looking at the unfortunate girl next to him, he believed that he finally could make a difference. That there was someone just for him. That needed him. That he simply couldn’t abandon no matter what. And now, she had given her all to him in return, again and again.

‘If two people sharing this kind of bond isn’t love, then what would be?’

Lingering doubts came to mind occasionally. The fact that he had grown close to her so fast. That she would give herself to him fully just days after meeting. Even in this world, it was strange. It made him worry about whether it would have been different under normal circumstances. But each time, he would fight back with excuses. Convenient excuses.

That she had no one else to turn to, that a little kindness made all the difference, and that they were fated together as Master and Electi.

Claude shook his head to clear his thoughts before sitting up from bed. The night was still young. The bar was likely still open. He slowly crept away and donned his outfit and cloak. And with a soft click of the door, he walked out of the room to get a drink.

Making his way down the stairs, he quickly dipped outside for a moment to scan the surroundings. Eyes flaring purple under his hood, Claude traced the buildings and roads in between, but no matter where he looked, there were no traces of any strong mana.

He was fortunate to have this skill. It was like radar that told him if any hidden dangers lurked about. Anyone strong enough to give them trouble couldn’t hide the mana emitted from their bodies. Even the residuals could be detected, as long as they crossed his sight within the hour.

Heaving a sigh of relief, Claude walked back into the inn and headed for the counter. A bored barkeeper perked up as he approached, not caring that his customer preferred to keep anonymous. This town rarely experienced any activity from travelers, being so far from the capital. It was situated close to some mines, but aside from that, he heard rumors of past Electi traveling this way for some guidance. Claude had forgotten the name of it already, but that didn’t matter as the man at the counter called out to him.

“What will it be?” The barkeeper said, with a glint in his eye. It contained a hope that the traveler would spend a bit more than the typical cheapskate miner that showed up in the evening rush hour. During that time, Claude and Eryn were… doing other things…

“Just hit me up with something local and refreshing, I suppose. Don’t have the palette for anything refined.”

“Then, how about the specialty reserve ale? You won’t find the likes of it elsewhere. Brewed just a few houses down. Generations of knowhow. Has a nice bite-”

Claude raised a silver coin in his hand, which instantly shut the man up. Immediately, he bowed and went to work filling an entire pitcher with the suggested ale.

Placing the coin on the counter, Claude sighed. He wasn’t in the mood to listen to the man’s sales pitch. A silver coin was pricey, but he had slain a ton of monsters and sold off their pelts earlier that day. Being able to cut things down in a flash made it easy to find materials to sell.

The barkeeper placed the filled pitcher and a mug on the counter, quickly swiping the silver coin into his hand before Claude could change his mind. With that in tow, he found an empty table to partake in it.

An hour passed by as Claude became lost in his thoughts, occasionally focusing on the surroundings around him to detect if anything had changed. It was a strange feeling, being able to sense mana. But it was unavoidable after constantly getting into fights while being on the run. If others with a wish to go after them got close, his body perked up at the hidden powers that leaked along with bloodlust.

But in the absence of conflict, Claude’s thoughts would always come back to Eryn, and how unfortunate she was in this world. He was living out an interesting fantasy, not unlike that of anime and video games. The only caveat was how much it sucked to experience the tragedy firsthand.

But he tried to push that bitterness away. It happened all the time… in fantasy.

‘That’ was what made it so hard. Reality wasn’t at all like fantasy. Normal people didn’t like to be thrown into constant conflict. They didn’t want a future of endless struggles. But that was exactly the situation he was placed in. Everything he had done so far in this world was miles harder than his previous life… even if he was bestowed the abilities to get by.

“Well, you look down in the dumps. Care for some company?” the gentle voice of a girl said suddenly.

Claude quickly looked up, surprised that someone unfamiliar had snuck up on him. Hiding his face deeper into the hood, he glared at the person, also dressed in a cloak way too big for her. But then, he relaxed. The mana signature around her was far less than any trained fighter or magician. She was probably a traveler passing by, bored and wanting to chit chat.

In her hands, a mug of ale was gingerly in between them. The subtle fidgeting of her body made it seem like she was a humble girl, perhaps a bit shy. He couldn’t say no to that.

Claude made a casual gesture for her to go ahead, in which she nodded and pulled up a chair to sit down. It took several minutes and a few sips of ale before the two of them said anything.

“So… why did you think I was depressed? Or was that just a pick-up line? Pretty strange since we can’t see much of each other.” Claude decided to start off by teasing her.

“Your body movements. They just seemed melancholic. Like how I look when I brush against failure.” The crisp voice of a similarly depressed girl hit Claude’s ears.

“Faliure, huh? I’m not sure if I’m failing quite yet. But maybe, there’s an impending feeling of it creeping up on me.”

“You anticipate failure? What a negative thing to ponder. Would this perhaps pertain to your occupation? Or an ongoing relationship?” A hint of sweetness in her voice seemed to loosen Claude’s lips. It certainly wasn’t the alcohol.

“Kind of… something like that I guess.”

“Well, I have the time. Do you?” The voice grew ever more alluring.

With that, Claude talked about his travel companion and how unfortunate she was, all the while keeping the specifics vague. He had found himself suddenly thrust into a head-spinning adventure, all the while pondering what it was that motivated him to go so far for someone he didn’t even know weeks ago. And all during this time, the girl simply nodded and listened with eager curiosity.

For once, it felt nice to get his worries off his chest. To someone that he didn’t know. That he didn’t care about. So that he wouldn’t have to break that mask of bravado that he had put up to ensure that Eryn would feel safe around him.

“I see. You must have fallen head over heels in love with her,” the girl replied. “Enough to literally do anything for her. Perhaps, that is what love drives us to do. To ignore the common understandings around us and wholeheartedly pursue what we feel is necessary to obtain it.”

“So… you’re calling me a love-struck idiot, I take it?” Claude took a sip of his drink to hide the grimace that clung to his face.

“That is one way to interpret it…”

Claude rolled his eyes. A ‘you said it, not me’ situation thrown right in his face.

“But…,” the girl began, “if you truly love someone, do you not believe that forcing yourself down a single path, no matter the intentions, will only bring suffering later on? Must your future tread only upon that dreary path?”

“That’s easy for you to say. We have no one to help us. We are alone, the two of us. We have no choice,” Claude said in a low voice, dismissive of the previous statement.

But then, the girl stuck out her hand. A hand that looked smooth at first, but blemishes peeked out like she had failed to completely hide them with cosmetics. Claude recognized those marks. Faint scars and calluses from constant work with one’s hands. He could feel a sense of devotion to her craft, whatever it was from them.

This left an impression on Claude. He started reaching out for that hand, until the glint of a sword invaded that space between them. The glimmer of that sword was all his eyes needed to know who was holding it.

“A secret meeting, huh? How unusual,” Eryn said with a hint of jealousy.

Claude immediately pulled his hand back, rising in his chair. “I just met her, and we’re just talking! Was that really necessary?” Putting aside that Eryn had awoken to find him chatting with another girl, he was alarmed that she would suddenly draw her sword because of that.

“Just talking. I wouldn’t mind if it was some normal girl… but her-”

With a flick of her wrist, Eryn caught the lip of the hood and pulled it back with the sword. Long, curly tresses of light blue hair spilled out, and a large pair of spectacles produced a glare from the light that struck the girl’s face.

“Princess Katalina Bastia de la Sistina. What are you doing here?”

My attack stat… – V9 Chap 276 - The Forsaken World (3)
My attack stat… – V9 Chap 278 - The Forsaken World (5)