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Chapter 136: Grado Schedar (Part 1)

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Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu Original Source: Syosetu Word Count: 3829 characters
Translator: Nomad English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1794 words
Editor(s): Fire

While the Fifty Bells’ forces and the village’s defenses were engaged in a fierce battle, some distance away, hidden behind rocks under the starry sky, a person wearing a cloak and carrying a large bag on his back carefully scurried away, constantly looking around.

「Zele, I knew you’d try running away.」

The Sky Denizen stood on a higher spot, staring down at the robed man, Zele.

「Huh! Grado… I suspected it was you when I saw those flames, but who did you join hands with, brother?」

Zele quickly stepped back, increasing the distance between the two, while a grin appeared on Grado, the Sky Denizen’s lips. The bright blue flames consuming the village were still visible in the corner of his eyes. The embers of the fire flew like specks of light, before burning out and vanishing like stars plunged into a dark sea.

「I just lit the fire, they came on their own accord.」

Turning away from the blue flames, Grado pointed his crossbow at Zele. His voice was icy cold, all emotion gone from his face except for hatred.

「You aren’t running?」
「I’m not the same as back then. You can’t beat me alone anymore.」

Grado’s voice remained unchanged, but Zele had a sly smile as he unsheathed a black sword.

「Your eyes, even your face has changed since back then. Is that how much you hate me, brother?」
「Of course. You were a fellow priest with me, but you kidnapped Altinea, our hometown’s guardian deity and left.」

Grado’s eyes burned with more scorn as he said that. He could only see murder now. But Zele seemed unfazed by such animosity, smirking gleefully.

「You’re misrepresenting what happened. Call it eloping if you wish, we loved each other. But the fanatic cultists of our home would never allow a priest and a deity to be together, so we agreed to leave.」

「You liar!」

Zele’s voice had a certain grandeur to them, waving his hands around as if giving a performance. But that did not anger Grado as much as the words themselves did.

「Liar? Me? We loved each other, I know that for a fact. How does saying that make me a liar?」

Zele wrapped his arms around himself, as if hugging something, while continuing to smirk at Grado. A spirit and a human having feelings for each other. Taboo in a religious village like theirs, but not such an uncommon occurrence in other places. But Grado replied with a sharp gaze, silently denying it. The conviction in his heart was too strong.

He could not say the truth, so he unsheathed his sword. As a reply, or to imply that their conversation was needless.

「So you insist on staying silent, huh. Then let me spell it out for you!」

Zele’s playful demeanor quickly vanished as he raised his voice. Grado shot a bolt from his crossbow at the same time, which Zele swept away with his hand before leaping towards Grado.

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「Altinea actually loved you, brother! And I know you loved her too! Say it!」

Zele’s black sword and Grado’s rapier collided with a loud metallic noise. They struck each other a few more times as Zele continued to shout.

「It didn’t matter how much I opened up to her, revered her, she never looked my way! Her smile, her tears, her voice, her love… it was all directed at you, only you! You were my brother, a priest like me, just what made you so much better than me?!」

He was literally shouting his heart out. All the emotions he harbored and suppressed for many years burst out in an explosive manner. Zele’s sword sped up, all the spirit arms covering his body aiding his movements and strength, slowly overpowering Grado.

Zele had never been inferior to Grado. They had lived the same way, become priests while cultivating a friendly relationship, and both fulfilled their duties with devotion. But then they fell in love with the same person, even though they knew it was forbidden, and that created a rift between them.

Eventually that difference grew too strong between, and plunged Zele’s heart into a dark and endless abyss.

「Say something already! Or are you trying to take pity on me? Don’t forget you took everything away from me!」

Zele’s sword had gotten close enough to graze Grado’s face, but even with those wounds, he remained silent. But there was nothing for him to say. He learned of the sense of inferiority that filled his younger brother’s heart for so long, but there was no change in his own feelings. All he felt for Zele now, was a desire to kill him.

They continued clashing swords, each strike producing echoes like screams from the surrounding rocks. Zele had many emotions mixed into his black sword, driving its movements, but Grado’s thin and razor-sharp blade was infused with pure murderous intent.

「Who took something away from who, again?」

During one of the strikes between blades, Grado finally looked into his opponent’s eyes and spoke. There was not a single bit of pity or mercy in Grado’s eyes, just a cold emptiness.

「Hahah… true, at least I managed to take Altinea!」

Grado had also lost something. Zele seemed to recognize that emotion, seeing something he had felt so long ago, that he cackled loudly in response. Right after that, a chilling presence inundated the area, and Grado’s sword began drawing an unnatural and irregular arc, closing in onto Zele.

「What’s… going on? Kuh..ghaa!」

The blade kept changing directions. Even if Zele predicted an attack, Grado’s arm would easily move away, as if inertia did not apply to his sword, making impossible movements look easy to pull off. But Zele managed to scatter holy water around him, creating a barrier that protected him the instant he was about to take a lethal blow.

「That’s Exorcist Exile Rule: Control Hallowing, isn’t it? So you hate me so much you even reach for taboo arts… heh, that’s quite the honor.」

Zele laughed as he sprinkled more holy water, fully sealing himself into a barrier. Control Hallowing, in simple terms, a spell that allowed one to make any movement at will. It might not sound like a big deal, but there were essentially no restrictions at all for any movement, really giving the spell a reason to exist. If one thought of flying through the air, their body would fly to wherever they wanted. It also allowed the caster to move against inertia without effort, as Grado had done earlier.

「But sadly for you, you just lost your opportunity to kill me. Even you can’t reach me now. Even that forbidden spell won’t be able to break through this strengthened barrier in less than a minute.」

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Inside his barrier, Zele reached into his bag for medicine, which he quickly gulped down. All the wounds ravaging his body healed quickly, returning the smirk to his lips.

Zele knew how the spell worked, its effect did not last very long. And the reason why it was considered taboo in the first place, it took a strong toll from the caster, every movement causing equivalent damage to their body. In other words, if handled improperly, once the spell’s duration was over, the caster could receive lethal wounds instantly.

So Zele chose to turtle, waiting with little worry until enough time passed. During his time as a priest, he was known as the most versed in barriers amongst his peers, so this was his best option when it came to buying time.

「I’ll kill you, no matter what.」

Grado’s voice was a tone lower, holding his blade horizontal and pointed at Zele. Grado had been a priest together with his younger brother, and knew of his barrier prowess. Zele’s barriers were strong enough to resist even spiritual power. Sheltered inside of it, Zele’s defense was truly impregnable.

But that also helped Grado notice the barrier’s vulnerability.

His next movements were instantaneous like a flash, no human eye able to follow them. In a very short span of time, Grado stabbed straight at the barrier multiple times at incredible speed, until there was the sound of something shattering and a powerful shockwave spread around them, shaking the ground and air.

「Heh, gotta give it to you, brother…」

Focused attacks on a single spot of the barrier, that was its weakness. Grado noticed it, and his thin sword made quick work of it, piercing through and lodging itself in Zele’s shoulder. But the wound was nowhere near fatal, a turn from his body was enough to get it out, and he drank more medicine right after.

Together with a loud noise, the tip of Grado’s sword that had made it inside the barrier moved at an immense speed, following Zele and grazing his face. There was contact again.

「Ow, close one, close one.」

With all the attacks coming through a single pivot point, they were much easier to dodge, even if the blade moved almost instantly. The barrier reconstructed itself at a fast pace too, pushing Grado’s sword out. Zele readied himself for the next attack, firmly holding his black sword with both hands.

Grado retook his earlier stance, the tip of his sword turning into a blurry streak, moving at nearly the speed of sound and reopening the barrier.

His attack had gotten more acute than earlier, and Zele tried recoiling to the side, but Grado still sliced his side. Blood splattered around and Zele cringed in pain, but he managed to swing his black sword down and caught the thin blade, together with a loud noise.

「How did you..?!」

The thin sword was snapped in half, losing its tip. Grado finally looked distressed, for the first time since the fight started.

「Oh, it bothers you that you lost your sword? Don’t tell me, was it a memento from someone? Aww, I’m sorry, brother.」

Zele smirked yet again, trampling on the broken tip of Grado’s sword. That thin blade had been made with thrusting attacks in mind, but with the sharp end gone, it could no longer be used to pierce through Zele’s barrier.

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A moment later the barrier shook violently. Then again, and the strikes repeated regularly, slowly attempting to tear it open.

「Get your feet off it!」

Grado held one of his crossbow’s arrows, using it to attack the barrier multiple times. His face was contorted with rage, determined to crack the barrier even if he had to ultimately use his fists for it.

「Oh wait, I just noticed, this is the Spirit Heirloom Sword. The treasure given to Altinea’s chosen village guardian.」


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