Translator and editor: SaltyTank
Andre scurried to his feet and ran towards Jade.
Jade was so scared that her legs went weak, but she still subconsciously summoned a gale to protect herself from the clones. The wall of wind also blocked Andre out, so he cut an opening in the magic that guided the winds with his lightstone sword and went to Jade’s side. With kicks and slashes, he sliced up the clones into shards which then scattered over the ground.
Andre quickly pulled Jade up. Unable to balance herself for a moment, she almost fell again. He ended up holding Jade’s shoulder to support her as she was still in shock.
Seide’s sights were away from Hilde and Marie, and they were naturally not going to let opportunity slide.
Marie bashed herself into Seide with all her might, causing her to stagger for a moment. Just when Seide was about to counterattack, Hilde popped up from behind like a ghost. The god’s upper arm was unprotected right now because she had transformed that part of her armour into clones.
Hilde drew a shallow wound across the vulnerable spot. Seide barely reacted at the last moment, dodging enough to avoid Hilde from severing her arm. In no time, she started retaliating.
Seide swung her two-handed sword sideways. Hilde was going to dodge it by blending into the smog, but the god grinned the moment she tried to.
Marie had a bad premonition, and her legs that had been retreating were now running towards Hilde. She lunged to embrace Hilde—just when Seide cancelled their magic once more. It was evident that Hilde had failed to avoid the gigantic sword going her way.
Marie caught Hilde in her arms at the last moment, shielding the basically unarmoured Hilde with her own body.
The two-handed weapon landed squarely on Marie’s lower back. Her armour had successfully stopped the slash from penetrating, but the powerful shockwave still sent the two girls flying. They tumbled across the ground and stopped a few metres in front of Andre.
‘Wilt thou surrender?’ Seide asked casually. ‘Thou cannot even defeat this tattered body of mine, yet thou dream of confronting this one?’
She lowered her sword slowly and lifted her arms. The shards lying beside Andre’s feet started wiggling, then they flew back to Seide one by one in a blue aura after she activated magic again.
However, this allowed Andre to notice something fascinating. He lowered his sword and struck it into the soil.
‘How can we surrender now… heh.’
Andre tore off a corner of his shirt and roughly bandaged the wounds on his arm before turning to mutter something to Jade. Albeit a bit surprised, Jade still nodded nonetheless.
Hilde also managed to get back up arduously. Her entire body was in pain and burning up, but perhaps because there were too many wounds to count, it did not feel particularly painful anywhere. Things were worse off for Marie; although she had been prepared for the impact, it was still difficult for her to stand after suffering a blow to her waist.
They gradually returned to Andre’s side, all while still holding their weapons.
‘Continue it is, then? Even when thou hath no chance of victory.’
‘Is it really so? The way you keep emphasising it, it actually makes me more confident.’
‘This one is only stating the fact.’
Seide shook her head in dismay, clearly annoyed by the stubborn humans.
‘Hey! Monster!’ Andre yelled to gain Seide’s attention. ‘Do you know why we, who were supposed to be annoying existences that you don’t care at all, are now someone you’re trying so hard to win over?’
‘Exceptions among the living, ‘tis the randomness that all creators cannot avoid. Thou art merely exceptions born out of randomness.’
‘Is it? I don’t quite think so.’
Seide lifted her chin and looked at Andre with disapproving eyes. Yet, Andre was not intimidated in the slightest. He went on with what he had to say.
‘I’m nothing but a normal human who barely escaped your so-called “management” years ago. The way I’ve survived for the past twenty years, how can you possibly imagine?’
‘This one is not interested in how humans live.’
‘I’ve never had a night of good sleep, always living on the edge, barely surviving. There were times I had wanted to give up, wanted to let myself loose until my life came to an end. But I’m not an exception, I’m just one of the countless humans in the world. Many people, humans just like me, have lost their lives already.’
Andre’s speech had a deep impact on Hilde and Marie. After all, they had experienced the darkest times together.
Seide did not utter a word.
‘Back then, I had nothing left. The only thing I could think of was to get my revenge on you monsters.’
‘Ha, biting off more than thou can chew.’
‘That’s right.’ Andre did not deny her statement. ‘But you’ve underestimated us humans and how we can gain strength from such intense emotions. You don’t have the slightest idea how this strength can transform us…’
Andre reached for something on the ground. From beneath his shoes, he picked up two shards that belonged to the clones and swallowed them.
A torrent of blue mist gathered around him and gave off an intense aura that made everyone squint. Lifting his sword that was stabbed into the ground, power started to flow into the weapon, which also started to radiate a blinding glow. Without holding back at all, Andre mustered every bit of strength and magic within him.
Hilde, and even Seide, had not paid attention to what Andre just did and simply thought that he hid two brain cores under his feet. In truth, Andre secretly severed the smog that was connecting Seide’s armour shards and intercepted two of the shards that were returning to her—all without her noticing.
The sword was glowing brighter and brighter, the aura extending and expanding. It looked like the glow had torn apart the dim skies slightly and resonated with the air, creating tiny sparks of lightning. Andre’s power was still surging.
‘Devouring your powers and killing you monsters as we learn more about your kind… Despite bleeding countless times and even losing a companion… We won’t stop here, because even if it’s such a world, I still wish to live my own life! I have faith in my own strength and also my companions. What you’ve underestimated, is the courage of mankind.’
Andre walked forward with firm steps. Overwhelming power was clashing throughout the muscles within him, and his skin was bulging as though the surge of power was going to break out. His body reddened and turned swollen like he was going to blow up any moment.
Hilde and Marie felt uneasy at the sight, but upon seeing his determined look, they grabbed their weapons and joined him. They knew Andre had found the key to winning, though they had no idea how he was going to do it. The only thing they could do was to trust him and assist him the best they could.
‘Sigh…’ Seide shook her head. ‘This one only sees the foolishness of mankind.’
‘Foolishness or bravery, you won’t know until the outcome is decided.’
They ran towards Seide; even Marie kept up with the other two while bearing the intense pain on her waist. In no hurry to fight, Seide walked over to face the three fighters. She split off two clones from her armour and sent them in as vanguards.
Andre, with his shining blade and strengthened body, cut down the clones in no time. The shards then turned into four levitating blades and flew towards the others.
Afraid that she would repeat her previous mistake, Hilde no longer relied on magic but instead physically dodged the attacks before shattering the flying blades with her dual sabers.
By then, they were finally close enough to engage in melee combat. Andre directly confronted Seide, and even she had trouble dealing with the magically-enhanced swordsman. She focused solely on the fight with Andre, only sending clones to skirmish with the other two.
The lightstone sword shrouded in a blinding white aura kept chipping chunks off Seide’s blade. The god was slowly getting worn out, having to repeatedly recombine her weapon—Andre was gaining the upper hand.
Out of the blue, Andre further pushed the limits of his body and slashed at Seide’s weapon at lightning speed, shattering her blade into several pieces. It was not without a cost; forcing his body made him throw up a mouthful of blood that landed on his blade and body.
He endured the pain and shouted, ‘Jade! Now!’
Upon his signal, a raging storm veered its way to the four combatants. The sudden winds scattered shards from the shattered sword throughout the air. While Seide was busy expelling tons of blue mist to grasp her shards, Hilde and Marie seized the opportunity to defeat her clones.
Andre’s sword was inches away from the half-naked god. Seide swiftly retreated at the last moment to somewhere unaffected by the storm and started returning her weapon and armour to their original state as quickly as she could.
Andre then sprinted towards her as quickly as he could—it was a battle of speed between Andre and the armour’s rate of regeneration. The three girls watched eagerly from afar, waiting to see how it would unfold.
Her armour had regenerated already. For the sake of efficiency, she made herself a rapier instead of her usual two-handed sword. Although her rapier had even less chance of withstanding strikes from Andre’s lightstone sword, there was a trump card she could use now that her amour was protecting her again—magic cancellation.
Seide would be unable to use magic as well, but she had an overwhelming advantage. Right when they clashed, both their blue auras disappeared into thin air.
Seide’s rapier had pierced right through Andre’s abdomen.
‘Ah ha ha ha!’
Seidi laughed haughtily. As if she was simply playing around with a beast, she thought about how to taunt the pathetic human in front of her eyes.
That was until she noticed something—Andre was laughing as well.
Seide could not understand at all. She had perfectly dealt with his well-planned final attack, so why was he laughing?
Andre shook his body, and Seide finally felt it. A sword had penetrated her stomach, pierced upwards, and came out from her back to clash against the interior of her armour. Unbearable pain swelled within her, which gradually spread to all parts of her body.
‘Thou… What have thou done? This one’s armour… How come?’
She could not have felt such pain just from getting stabbed by a sword. Seide fell powerlessly to the ground and could no longer hold her rapier. After plucking out the rapier dangling from his waist, Andre stabbed Seide with her own weapon, piercing it through her body again.
‘Heh heh heh… How does fresh human blood taste? When you were busy laughing at my foolishness, I severed the link between you and your armour without you even noticing. Look at this gap here, those should’ve been the chunks that I ate.’
In the final bout, Andre was searching for the gap in her armour the entire time. Luckily enough, it was just large enough for his sword to slide through. Lightstone and human blood; Andre sent the two banes of god into Seide together. If he had not coughed up blood from pushing his body too far back then, he would have cut himself just to smear his blade in blood.
Despite his victory, Andre was in no better condition. The loss of blood from the wound on his stomach forced him to kneel onto the ground.
‘Thou—uh… had such, such a trick… up thy sleeve.’
‘You thought I’d forget that you can cancel magic? Hoh hoh… I’ve said it before, you’ve underestimated the courage of mankind… You only get to know who the foolish one is at the very end.’
Seide’s body was being rapidly eroded. Unable to even twitch, she could only wait for her demise as blood and lightstone dissolved her torso.
‘The courage of mankind…’ Seide could not believe it. ‘Uh… ‘Tis this one’s loss… Do not savour in thy victory… for this is not over yet…’
‘Of course—until we eliminate every last dust of smog, the real you will still be out there somewhere… But don’t think our battle will end here.’
‘Thou… wait… for it, when this one regains power—’
‘We’ll gladly oblige.’
Seide turned silent and exhaled her last breath. At long last, her body crumbled into dust and was blown away by a breeze, leaving behind an empty armour with two swords in it.
‘Finally… It’s over for now.’
Andre toppled over and stared at the sky with dazed eyes.
Shouts of his companions reached his ears, but he no longer had the strength to turn around and look. In his blurry vision, he could see that smog was slowly dispersing, and the sky was gradually showing a beautiful azure blue.
Sunlight sprinkled over the lands, making it a bit uncomfortable for Andre’s eyes. Right before his eyes shut involuntarily, he could see it—the floating islands in the sky were disintegrating, raining rubble from above.
The god’s dwelling, it had finally fallen.
This, was mankind’s first ever victory.
With that thought in mind, he could finally fall into slumber at ease.