Translator and Editor: SaltyTank
A massive orb of light fell from the sky and blew up a hill in the distance.
‘Damn, too late.’
The fist clad in metal gauntlets hammered into a nearby tree heavily. Weak branches shook violently, and many of the brown, withered leaves fluttered to the ground.
He flung back the hood on his cloak, revealing his dark, black hair and pupils. His stern expression gave off a calm yet violent aura as he looked at the floating silhouettes from afar like an eagle.
Those were his sworn enemies.
‘Andre! Over there!’
The clear voice of a woman came from behind him. A slightly short girl who was similarly cloaked came up to Andre’s side. On her cloak’s hood, a pair of beast-like sharp horns were present.
Andre snapped out of his trance and looked at where his companion was pointing at. Not far away, there were four silhouettes, two of them bearing wings.
His gaze changed once again as he slowly reached for the plain and simple longsword hung on his waist. The sword’s blade was covered in blood stains to the extent that it was almost impossible to see the metallic glitter swords usually had. His maintenance must have been poor, if he actually did so in the first place.
At the same time, changes started going on within him as azure particles seeped out from his body. Apart from the difference in colour, the particles looked almost the same as the surrounding smog. Soon after, the blue particles gathered to form a clear membrane over his body.
‘Hilde, leave this to me, head to the village. There’s just one, shouldn’t be a problem right?’
‘Of course.’ Hilde nodded.
Her body was also gradually being covered in light blue particles until she disappeared all of a sudden, as though she had blended into the air like a ghost. The sound of light footsteps soon left his side. Andre then turned and ran at full speed towards the two humans who were being targeted by the gods, Roger and Jade.
Despite wearing armour inside his cloak and holding a circular shield, Andre’s movements were very agile. With his frightening speed, he closed half the distance in the blink of an eye.
But he was still too late.
The god attacked from up close. The two humans were blown away like dolls and rolled across the ground.
Andre placed more strength into his legs and sped up. The blue membrane around his hip and legs became denser and grew brighter. With each of his steps covering more and more ground, the gods were within range in no time.
The sound of his strides attracted the gods’ attention. The two gods turned around and lifted their arms, firing orbs of light at Andre.
‘Heh! Ha!’ Andre swung his left arm around to block the incoming magic with his shield.
The orbs of light that could blow up hills failed to show any effects as they struck Andre’s shield which was covered in cloth.
For a split second, the gods hesitated. There was a fine line between victory and defeat, and the moment of hesitation had already shaped the outcome of their encounter. Andre was now next to one of his enemies with his blood-stained sword raised, and with a horizontal strike, he embedded his sword deep into the god’s neck.
The feedback of the strike felt disgusting. It was like cutting into a thick, sticky block of mud. Andre couldn’t sever the head in one strike, nor could he drive his sword further through. He hurriedly pulled his sword back out and struck from the other direction, this time successfully beheading the enemy.
At that moment, sharp claws were attacking Andre from behind.
Suddenly feeling a chilly sensation from behind, Andre forcefully bent his waist down and almost threw himself to the ground. A dark afterimage passed by his head, cutting off his hood and nothing more.
Andre immediately re-positioned himself and bashed the god with his shield, then took a big step back.
It was, however, just a feint. He seemingly intended to regain distance from his enemy, but instead he launched himself forward with his rear leg the moment his foot landed. He stabbed his sword through the god’s neck, then delivered two more strikes, one to the left and the other to the right. The god’s head then tumbled to the ground.
The disgusting face with metallic horns, six eyes, and a massive mouth rolled across the ground. The expression of the sinister god was filled with shock, as if something unimaginable had just happened.
Andre killed the gods. Not just one, but two on his own. The gods’ corpses gradually lost their luster and turned pale white before shrinking and withering.
‘Hah…’ Andre let out a long sigh.
The light blue membrane covering his body disappeared with a ‘Click’, and a large portion of his strength left his body. He could only stab his sword into the ground and put his weight onto it as he gasped for air.
If his attack had failed just now, the battle would have dragged on and he would have been in danger.
He didn’t have the leisure to spare a glance at the two humans during the fight, but now that it was over, he turned to look at them. The boy who was lying on top had lost half of his body and was clearly dead.
Andre couldn’t help but shake his head as he walked closer. After carefully moving Roger’s corpse aside, he found out that Jade’s body was rather intact, perhaps thanks to Roger’s protection. A fist-sized chunk of meat was missing on her waist, and blood was pouring out through the wound like a broken dam.
Holding a glimmer of hope, Andre took off his gauntlet and placed his fingers onto Jade’s neck. Her pulse was very weak, but she was still alive nonetheless.
His expression brightened up a bit upon realising she was still alive. Even so, it was impossible to save Jade under normal circumstances.
However, Andre instead knelt down and spoke directly into her ears, ‘Even if it’s such a world, do you wish to live?’
His voice seemed to have been heard by the girl as her lips started trembling.
‘—’ Her voice was almost inaudible even with his ear placed right next to her mouth. It took him a great deal of effort to make out the word ‘yes’ from her powerless, trembling mouth.
‘Is that so?’
Upon hearing her response, Andre hurriedly took out three fingertip-sized triangular prisms that were light blue and transparent and was about to stuff them into Jade’s mouth. However, after giving it a bit of thought, he instead tossed them into his own and munched the crystals into fine grains.
Please excuse me.
He apologised in his heart, then locked his lips with Jade’s. He fed the munched crystals into her mouth through his, and it took a fair deal of effort to make her swallow all of it.
The crystal grains glided into her stomach with the help of her saliva, and her body started absorbing the crystals’ powers. Similar to what had happened to Andre before fighting the gods, a thin film of blue mist gradually enshrouded her skin.
At that moment, something unimaginable occurred. New tissues started growing from the wound on her waist, and it did not take long before it completely recovered, leaving behind only a boundary scar between the old and new skin.
Andre measured Jade’s pulse again. It was beating at a steady rhythm, albeit slightly weak. Feeling relieved, he collapsed onto the ground and also ate a piece of crystal himself.
Suddenly, a voice came out of nowhere.
‘Is she still alive?’
‘Yes, she said she still wants to live, so I fed her three brain cores.’
Things seemed to have been in the wrong order; only after their dialogue could Andre hear the incoming footsteps. A petite silhouette emerged from the smog and came next to him. It was the person whom he had split up with a while back, Hilde.
Different from Andre who was simply somewhat exhausted, Hilde’s cloak was so tattered that it could no longer be considered as one. The light armour covering her thin and frail body could be seen, and there were some newly acquired claw strikes on her breastplate. It was a rather terrifying sight, but thankfully she didn’t seem to have suffered any actual injuries.
Hilde’s weapons of choice also differed greatly from that of Andre’s. Not only did she carry two sabers of different lengths on her back, a dagger was also tied to each of her thighs. Her right gauntlet also seemed to house hidden weapons within it, while her left hand was fitted with claws. Almost her entire body was covered with weapons. On the other hand, she wore armour sparingly, only wearing enough to protect her vitals and nothing more.
‘Three? I’m surprised she’s still alive.’ Hilde widened her eyes as she spoke, seemingly having heard something unimaginable.
‘What about the village?’
‘It was too late, none of them survived.’
Hilde shrugged and silently knelt down beside one of the beheaded gods’ skulls.
She unsheathed one of the daggers on her thigh and stabbed it into its head. She skillfully cut apart the tough tissues within the god’s head, then poked around with the dagger’s tip before finally prying out a hard object.
The solid object rolled across the floor, glimmering beneath the sparse rays of sunlight. It was exactly what Andre had fed to Jade—a transparent, light blue triangular prism.
‘We ate five but only collected three, it’s a loss this time.’
The harvested brains no longer held any value and were tossed aside casually by Hilde.
‘It can’t be helped.’
‘Then do you still have enough? Do you need a few of mine?’ Hilde patted her pouch, but Andre shook his head.
‘I saved up a bit the last few times, there’s enough.’
Hilde nodded, then headed for the headless corpses. This time, however, she wasn’t trying to pry something from within their bodies. Instead, she was carefully removing the gods’ clothes.
Unlike humans who minded their clothing, the gods only wore a single piece of cloth, and right beneath the layer of cloth was their bare skin. Their bodies actually looked similar to that of humans, albeit having slight differences in sizes and shapes.
‘Wow, it’s a girl this time. We don’t see them very often.’
‘…So it’s a female.’
Hilde was used to seeing the god’s corpses, so she didn’t hold too many feelings about them. She was only salvaging what was useful from the dead anyways, like the powerful brain cores and the special cloth that humans couldn’t make.
She then proceeded to do the same to the other god’s corpse. By the time she finished, Andre had recovered a bit of strength and slowly got back onto his feet. Noticing that, Hilde quickly tucked away the spoils of war and jogged to give Andre a hand.
‘Don’t try to act tough.’
‘I can always eat another core when I really need to. We’ve got a long walk ahead of us after all.’
‘Alright,’ Hilde acknowledged his wish and nodded. ‘You’ve gotta tell me if you’re tired, alright? I don’t mind spending a few more days out in the wild with you.’
‘No worries, we’ll head back soon. Before that, let’s bury the kid.’
With a look of regret, Hilde arrived at Roger’s body ahead of Andre and knelt down. She lightly patted his head and mumbled something to the deceased child. Although Andre couldn’t hear what she was saying, from the rhythm and length of it, it was probably some sort of blessing.
Together, they moved Roger’s body to a small crater nearby that was made by the gods’ magic, then filled it with soil, returning him to Mother Earth’s embrace. For the past few years, people often died together in their underground villages. It had been a while since they had to bury someone themselves.
Feeling a bit thirsty after all the labour work, Hilde took a sip from her waterskin and shoved it to Andre, forcing him to drink. He ended up choking.
‘Cough…! Hey, why is it wine, not water?’
‘I found it when I was searching for survivors! How fortunate, to be able to find wine in this day and age.’ Hilde laughed merrily as she helped him wipe the corners of his mouth with his cloak.
‘Cheh, what if you meet one of those monsters when you’re drunk?’
‘Gotta enjoy it while you still can!’
A bit annoyed, Andre sighed and said, ‘You should change her clothes first, it’s unbearable.’
‘Hoh hoh, got it.’
Torn apart by the gods’ magic, Jade’s clothes were almost non-existent. Hilde took out a spare set of clothes from her kitbag and fitted it onto Jade.
With Hilde’s help, Andre lifted up the unconscious Jade and carried her on his back as they prepared to leave. Because she wasn’t too heavy, it only felt like wearing an extra set of heavy armour to him. It wasn’t too much of a load for him.
Before they even left the forest, Jade, who was still on Andre’s back, showed signs of movement.
‘Mhm… Ah… Ah…’
As Jade was gradually regaining consciousness, her brain was struck with a sharp, tearing pain while her body started burning up. Unable to withstand the pain, she writhed in agony, almost falling to the ground from Andre’s back. Thankfully, Hilde reacted just in time to catch her.
‘Phew, that was close!’
Andre hadn’t expected her body to undergo rejection so quickly. In hindsight, feeding her three brain cores was probably overdoing it. He quickly lowered Jade to the ground.
‘Relax! Don’t be so nervous! Don’t let your mind run wild!’ Andre shook Jade’s shoulders in an attempt to wake her up from the pain. ‘Take in deep breaths! What you’re experiencing now isn’t real! Calm down!’
However, his shouts seemed to have no effects. Jade writhed around more vigorously, and all of a sudden, she squeezed Andre’s neck tightly with both her hands.
Overcome with shock, Andre toppled backwards and was pinned to the ground as Jade mounted on top of him. With strength seemingly coming from out of nowhere, Jade continued to strangle Andre, who couldn’t escape despite using his full strength.
‘Hey! Hey! Hey! Miss! Don’t be so stirred up! Andre, you too, stop submitting yourself to the girl!’
‘I… I… I’m not!’
Hilde bear-hugged Jade from behind but couldn’t pull her away from Andre either. Perhaps a bit too anxious, she slowly reached for her the swords on her back with her left hand.
‘Should I strike her down?’
‘But… Fine.’ Hilde let go of her sword and cooperated with Andre. She pulled Jade back while he pushed from beneath.
With the grip on his neck loosened slightly, Andre took in a few breaths and used all his force in an attempt to free his neck. He eventually overpowered Jade, undoing the strangle on his neck, then followed up with a headbutt.
One headbutt wasn’t enough, so he headbutted her again.
‘Wake up already! Who told me that she wanted to live!’
Jade’s fierce expression stiffened abruptly, then the strength in her hands weakened greatly. Andre seized the opportunity to roll her over and pin her to the ground, immobilising her wrists and body.
‘If you really want to live, do me a favour and wake up right now!’
She gradually ceased struggling, seemingly having heard Andre’s shout. Her mind was no longer dominated by the torrent of chaotic and violent energy, and her eyes slowly turned gentle.
‘Ah…’ Tears glided down her cheeks as Jade regained consciousness.
She looked so helpless, so defenceless. Andre locked eyes with Jade, but soon noticed that the blue eyes staring back at him was radiating nothing but fear. He quickly let go of her and stood up.
Hilde then knelt and hugged Jade tightly. ‘It’s alright now, it’s alright now.’
She patted Jade on the back, soothing the girl who had almost been devoured by her body’s rejection reactions. It was impossible to tell from this heartwarming scene that Hilde had just considered killing the girl minutes ago.
Calmed by Hilde’s body warmth, the suspicions residing in Jade’s mind cleared away. She slowly extended her arms to embrace Hilde.
She could no longer hold back her emotions. Jade wailed and howled in grief for a good amount of time before her emotions finally settled down.
She slowly lifted her head from Hilde’s bosom. After looking at her clothes, she looked around in confusion. Although she was overwhelmed with negative emotions, she could barely remember anything.
Hilde was about to offer Jade her waterskin, but Andre snatched it away because it was filled with wine. Instead, he tossed her his own waterskin which was almost empty.
‘What’s your name? Do you remember what happened?’
After letting Jade rest for a while, Andre finally broke the silence between the three.
‘…Jade,’ She answered slowly. ‘Jade Breive.’
‘Eh? You’re an urbanite?’
Only the prestigious people who lived in the cities had last names, but those large cities had long since disappeared. Andre hadn’t met someone with a last name in a long while.
‘Yes, I was lucky to be outside the city when…’ Jade’s expression suddenly stiffened as she held her forehead in pain. ‘Wait… the gods!’
As though a switch had been flipped, her memories flooded back into her mind. She finally remembered everything that had just happened. Unable to hold herself back, she stood up abruptly and looked around.
‘Where’s the gods? Roger, where is he? How is the village…’
Andre caught her hand to stop her from running around the place and said, ‘The monsters are dead.’
‘Dead? How… how is that possible…’
Jade couldn’t believe it, but Andre’s serious expression suggested that he wasn’t joking either.
‘There’s no need to be suspicious. We killed those things, which is how we managed to save you.’
‘What about the others? The one who was with me… where’s the boy?’
Jade suddenly found a glimmer of hope after realising someone had killed the gods. She held onto Andre’s cloak emotionally, hoping to hear good news from him.
However, it was nothing but wishful thinking.
‘I’m sorry,’ Andre replied unhesitatingly. ‘You’re the only one.’
‘What… what do you mean…’ Jade froze.
‘Everyone, they’re all dead.’