Translator and editor: SaltyTank
Jade, hiding beneath her cloak, kept her eyes shut. However, the vivid scenes of gods attacking her original village kept appearing in her head.
Unable to calm down, she stood up. Since when did being alone become such a frightening thing?
She was not sure why, nor did she know where she mustered the courage from. Andre had ordered her to stay where she was, but somehow she felt hiding all alone was even more dangerous, as though the gods would suddenly slash her to bits from behind any time. The looming fear choked her and grasped her heart, making it difficult to breathe.
Jade took her first step onto the path in the forest leading to where the two were and soon broke into a run. She only wanted to stay besides Andre and Hilde, nothing more. They could kill even the gods; she had faith that the two could take care of themselves.
With great effort, Jade finally reached a place where she could see Andre fighting. It was shocking to find him fighting against three gods all at once.
He was completely surrounded and could only move around in a circle of roughly five steps in diameter. Alone in the encirclement, he engaged the gods while moving in a circular arc. With his shield, sword, and cloak, the lone warrior warded off sharp claws and orbs of magic from all directions.
After a few attempts, he finally found an opening.
The sword enshrouded in a blue aura drew an arc of light through the air like a brush painting a smog-filled canvas. He leapt and did a half rotation in the air, slashing his sword at one of the god’s neck and severing it.
It was a forced attack to say the least. Utilising his weight and falling momentum added with rotational force in the attack, the backlash numbed his arm and had likely injured his bones and muscles as well. The god’s head was not something that could be cut off in one slash after all.
The next moment, the other two gods attacked from both sides.
Andre blocked one of the attacks with his shield but was struggling to stop the other with his longsword. To muster all the strength he could at that instant, blue particles of magic bursted from his body and almost completely concealed his silhouette.
With his enhanced strength, he shrugged the gods aside and took a few steps back, munching a brain core as he retreated. He had to replenish the massive amount of energy he used in the previous burst of magic power.
Even watching from afar was frightening enough for Jade. The gods did not bleed, yet Andre was currently dyed crimson from his own blood. Every time he swung his sword, it was not sweat, but blood that dripped from his body. Just that alone was enough to make her tremble.
The gods closed in again. However, Andre’s footwork was still wobbly and even with magic, it only took the gods two or three strikes to send him flying and tumbling on the ground.
Light orbs quickly chased in pursuit, and he was forced to dodge and block them with his cloak and shield. Once their attacks eased a bit, Andre took the chance to get back up and charge in, dodging incoming orbs of magic with his extreme reflexes and magically enhanced body as he did.
Even Jade could tell Andre was just acting tough. His current fighting method was basically throwing his life away.
Jade looked around but Hilde was nowhere in sight, nor was there any signs of her defeat. She could not understand why Hilde was not by Andre’s side when he needed her the most.
Andre’s stamina was clearly reaching its limits. His disordered attacks are slowly but surely getting overpowered by the gods using brute force. Although he was constantly landing hits on them, it was apparent he had no way of turning the tide into his favour.
At last, his shield was knocked away and drew an arc in the air, tumbling all the way to where Jade was.
Jade knelt to pick up his shield but it was too heavy for her.
Losing his shield, Andre lost his major means of defence and was left with only his sword. Despite blocking a few attacks with his sword, it was not enough to prevent him from being thrown around by the gods.
Jade knew things could not go on like this—Andre needed his shield.
Looking at the shield in her hands, Jade’s mind shorted out and went blank, yet her body started moving on its own and ran towards Andre.
‘Andre!’ Jade’s shout successfully caught his attention.
This time, he really was taken aback; she was not supposed to be here.
Feeling not even the slightest tint of gratefulness, roaring flames of rage swelled within him. He glared at Jade and yelled, ‘Dumbass! Didn’t I tell you to hide?!’
‘Uh.’ Jade stopped in her tracks upon getting scolded.
‘Get lost! Don’t get in my way!’
Andre angrily looked away and raised his sword to engage the gods.
The intense battle soon resumed. This time, Andre changed his combat style from large, powerful strikes into quick, short jabs at the opponents’ joints. Instead of parrying and blocking with his sword, he used body movements to avoid incoming attacks. The lone swordsman was performing a dangerous sword dance, as though he was treading a thin line across a valley while blindfolded. Even a single mistake would cost him his life.
Though the sudden change in pattern was very effective at first, Andre soon made a wrong move. He was dealing with the god on his left when the other one reached out with its claws. Unable to shift his body and centre of gravity in time, the claws brutally drew lines of red on his arm.
Andre’s arm would have been torn apart if he had not fallen back to lessen the impact. He rolled backwards and knelt on the ground, his left arm dangling powerlessly. The gaping wounds went all the way from his shoulder to wrist.
She could not stand looking on helplessly when Andre was about to be murdered by the gods. Even though Jade was not familiar with combat at all, she believed there was something she could do.
This life of hers, it did not belong to her from the moment she was saved anyways.
She used every ounce of strength and ran as fast as she could, arriving in front of Andre at just the vital moment. She clumsily held up the shield and blocked an incoming magic orb.
Immense force travelled from the shield to her body and almost shattered her arms. Her sleek arms were unable to withstand the impact and gave out, causing the shield to slam right into her chest. She was sent flying backwards and landed next to the kneeling Andre.
Two screams resounded through the area at the same time. However, Jade had already passed out from the shockwave and even spat out blood.
Andre launched himself forward and stabbed his longsword deep into the god’s waist to knock it off balance. This left him vulnerable to the other enemy’s attacks, but Hilde had finally arrived to support him. She pushed both her swords against the other god and shoved it far away to isolate it.
Having pulled some distance, the odds were finally in their favour.
Hilde who was in good shape easily took care of the god that was covered in cuts just from fighting Andre. She then went to assist the one-handed Andre and swiftly beheaded the final enemy.
Andre threw his sword down and dragged his tattered body over to where Jade was. Without caring she was a girl, he reached out his right hand and touched her chest.
His actions seemed to have nudged her wounds for Jade let out a groan and regained consciousness.
Andre pressed her shoulder to prevent her from getting up.
‘Some of your ribs fractured. Lie down and don’t move, or you’ll die.’
‘Gods… what happened?’
‘All dead, don’t worry.’
Jade still had something to say, but the sharp pain in her chest made it difficult for her to speak.
Andre hurriedly took out a piece of fruit that had analgesic effects and crushed it with his palm before stuffing the bits into her mouth.
‘Don’t talk and eat it. Just lie there.’
Jade swallowed the fruit with some effort and nodded in pain.
Hilde took care of the corpses, then joined the two and knelt besides Jade to pat her head.
‘Oh? You’re not feeding her mouth-to-mouth this time?’
‘It’s different, she’s awake this time.’
Jade slowly opened her eyes. She first looked at Hilde, then turned her eyes towards Andre. It was clear she was bothered by the term “mouth-to-mouth”.
Andre let out a sigh of surrender.
‘She wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t mentioned it. Speaking of which, why didn’t you show up earlier? Having you feed her would’ve solved all problems.’ He glared at Hilde before apologising to Jade. ‘I’m sorry. Last time, I might’ve acted… offensively when feeding you brain cores.’
‘I must say, it’s mouth-to-mouth we’re talking about. I was jealous just from looking.’
‘Maybe I should smack you so hard that you can’t move right now.’
Hilde simply ignored his threat and shrugged while looking at his left arm.
‘With that arm of yours?’
The two quickly broke into a heated argument. Jade, who was the main party involved, could only look aside to hide her turbulent emotions.
The scene of Andre feeding her brain cores with their lips connected kept playing over and over in her head. Her heart thumped quickly, which intensified the pain in her chest.
Still, it felt very comforting for her to be around the two once again.