|Author: Kobayashi Homare
|Original Source: Syosetu
|Word Count: 4525 characters
|English Source: Re:Library
|Word Count: 994 words
“Meria? Where did you hear that name?”
The two got closer to me from opposite sides, sword in hand. I kept watching them through the corner of my eyes, placing my hand on my sword’s hilt so I could unsheathe it if the need arose.
“She’s my sister. It’d be strange if I didn’t know her, right?”
The moment I said that, the two seemed to assume there was no point in asking questions and rushed at me without hesitation, ready to kill me. It was clear they saw me as an enemy now, running at me faster than a trained knight. A regular person would be killed before they noticed what happened, and a seasoned warrior would not come out unscathed. But after my training, they were nothing compared to me.
Their blades missed by just a few inches. They tried to attack again, but I kept dodging, showing it was no fluke and that I was stronger than them. The two started getting frustrated.
“There’s an enemy! Everyone come out!”
Hearing that shout, more men ran out of the house, five in total. Together with the first two, they were seven, enough to count as a small platoon of knights. It was hard to think they were all the members of their group, and if all of them were this strong and spread all over the country, it could lead to a rather disastrous situation.
They no longer had any intention to talk about things now that I was seen as their enemy, everyone mercilessly swinging their swords at me. Ideally, I had wanted to capture them alive to interrogate them about Meria, but I could hardly even consider that now.
“I guess I have no choice then.”
My robe fluttered as I unsheath my sword, blocking their blades and pushing them away.
“This can’t be happening!”
They had considerable trust in their own skills, so they were shocked to see me repel them so easily. That gave me the perfect chance to strike.
I hit them with the flat side of my blade, but there was no one who could endure such an impact unfazed. One hugged his stomach and fell on his knees, the other took the hit on his knees and could not stand up anymore, and a third one dropped his sword, almost as if his arm bones were broken.
“Don’t let your guard down! This girl is strong!”
I was heavily outnumbered, but they could do nothing against me. The usual crooks of the slums would have run away by now, and even a group of knights would have ordered a retreat. But they were still determined to take my life.
“…Just give it up, you can’t win against me.”
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If they were part of Meria’s group, they were plotting some large scale invasion of the country, but so far they had done nothing. Maybe I could convince them to give up or arrest them before they committed grave crimes.
(If they’ve endured similar situations to Meria, then it wasn’t their fault, but ours. I might still be able to turn things around, just please stop resisting…)
But they had no interest in my emotions, not even taking notice of my wish. They glared at me as they got back on their feet, holding onto the spots where I hit them, before tearing their clothes away.
All of their bodies had a gemstone the size of a fist encrusted onto their chests. Those gemstones kept beating like hearts, something which made me feel like I was dealing with something dangerous.
“I guess that’s why you’re called a hero. We can’t really take you down the way we are… but maybe… this will help?”
The crystals seemed to light up, before spewing a large amount of miasma.
“Miasma… are those..?!”
Only two things in the world produced miasm: monsters and demons. In other words, there was only one place their power could have come from! One of the men smirked, tasting victory from my shocked response.
“So you’ve noticed? Yes, this power was given to us by demons. Thanks to them we can finally enact vengeance!”
His voice was filled with joy as he proudly displayed his chest with the gemstone, which kept pulsating ominously. But in contrast to that, the man was filled with an almost childlike innocent joy. I was baffled by that stark contrast, but I still tried to argue with them one last time.
“Why would you do something so foolish? No demon would ever give you power without demanding something in return! They’re trying to destroy humanity, no matter how much power they give you, they’ll just get rid of you the moment you’ve served your purpose!”
“I’m fully aware of that!”
His smile became more sinister watching me recoil in shock from that unexpected answer.
“We’re not stupid, we know what type of deal this is, we know we’re just being used. The world turned its back on us, everyone abandoned us, but they just happened to extend their hands to us. We were driven to the brink of death, but they helped us, so we’ll also repay the favor when they demand it.”
“You would never understand the feeling of the oppressed like us, Hero Freya.”
“We don’t really care what happens to our lives. All we want is to make this world regret abandoning us, let everyone know that we exist even if they tried to snuff us out!”
This was the worst possible outcome… They had been prepared to die from the start. No matter what I said, they would never listen to me. Meria’s motivations were likely the same as theirs, so she would willingly cast her life aside to accomplish their goals. My knees felt weak at the thought of that bleak future, losing my sister just when I had finally found her again.