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Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Powers in the Shadows are Lonely

The aura around Olba is changing.

The frenzied magic that I’d been feeling from him is shrinking, being compressed, and contained within his body.

His blood vessels are bursting, his muscles are tearing apart, and his bones are snapping, but everything is being recovered instantaneously.

Surpassing the limits of being human, a vast amount of magic now dwells inside his body.

The Order calls this ‘Awakening.’

Now that he’s become like this, there is no way to revert back.

However…… in exchange, he gains tremendous power.

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!”

Together with a beast-like roar, Olba’s figure disappears.

Together with a dull sound, the young boy clad in black is blown away.

Right before he smashes in the wall, the boy kicks it, then fixes his stance and lands.

However, Olba’s sword continues to send the boy flying around like a rag doll.

“So slow! So light! So brittle! This is reality, you brat!”

Olba continues attacking.

Every time there is a sound, the boy is blown away.

Olba’s slashes are absolutely fast, absolutely heavy, and absolutely merciless.

An overwhelming amount of violence.

When a tiger kills a rabbit, it doesn’t need to use any tricks. It simply brandishes its strength, and that’s enough.

There is no way to resist.

The boy in black is one-sidedly being crushed.

Or so Olba expected.

“!?”

Blood suddenly spurts from Olba’s chest. When was this not so shallow cut made?

Olba stops moving for an instant, but then sends the young boy flying again the next moment.

“IT’S USELESS! IT’S COMPLETELY USELESS, YOU BRAT!!!”

Olba’s wound is supposed to be deep enough to reach bone. However, the wound bubbles, then regenerates in a split second.

“THIS IS POWER!! THIS IS STRENGTH!!”

Olba accelerates even more.

The scene of him spurting blood while zooming through the air is almost like a red flash.

Black versus red.

The two clash – the black is sent flying, while the red spurts blood.

The exchange of blows cannot be followed by the naked eye.

Only the red afterimages and the sight of the black being sent flying indicate that there is something going on.

But this does not last long.

The disparity between the two is obvious, and it requires no stretch of imagination to predict the black being destroyed eventually.

It is supposed to be a fight that where there’s no way for him to lose.

Repeatedly he swings his sword, and repeatedly he demonstrates his dominance over the black.

But, why.

Why…… how does the boy in black continue to stand back up again and again, looking none the worse?

“Why…… why can’t I reach you……?”

There is no visible change on the black. Having used almost no magic, having made almost no movement, simply allowing his body to follow the flow of Olba’s attacks. Exactly like a leaf caught in a rapid current.

But he was not only flowing along, but also using Olba’s momentum to deliver accurate and precise strikes.

There is nothing unnecessary, nothing extraneous. Just being natural, letting things be the way they are.

“How ugly.”

So says the black. Those eyes that seem like they can see through all things are focused on Olba.

“What do you know…… WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW?!?!?!”

So screams Olba.

With that, his sword, his body, his everything is poured into a mowing attack accompanied by a howl.

Even if it costs him his life, he will erase this black.

This strike is well and truly the greatest one that Olba has ever made in his entire life.

But.

“Playtime is over.”

It is easily bisected.

As if swinging through empty air, the black sword completes its trajectory without any resistance.

Olba’s sword, his immense amount of magic, his well-trained body, all of it was cut in half by a single swing.

The jet black sword has no magic, no strength, and no speed. It was perfected with only pure skill. Or so Olba originally thought.

But that wasn’t it.

“What…… was that……”

It was indeed a stroke that could cut through anything and everything.

As it sliced through his sword, his magic, his flesh, and his bones, Olba noticed it.

That stroke contained a highly condensed amount of magic, a tremendous amount of strength, and an overwhelming amount of speed. And to top it all…… there was skill.

This, this is true perfection.

Apparently the black had possessed everything from the very start.

It was only that he didn’t use it.

There is absolutely nothing that that stroke cannot cut.

“To think it was…… to this…… level……”

Blood spurts into the air.

The upper half of his body falls off, while the lower half crumples.

Even after being split clean in half, Olba’s body continues trying to regenerate, but it’s already gone past its limits. It begins to rot, dyeing the ground black.

Olba looks up as his opponent looks down.

Having crossed swords, Olba now understands the black.

The black’s sword is a honest sword, a commoner’s sword, a sword attained from effort filled with blood and sweat.

He had thought him a mere brat who did not know anything. But that is wrong. He already knows everything, but regardless had made a conscious choice to fight, knowing full well the odds.

Powerless.

Olba’s life was powerless from start to finish.

What he tried to achieve, what he could not achieve.

“Emi…… li…… a…..”

Olba reaches for a jewel-studded short sword, then closes his eyes.

The last thing that comes up in his fading consciousness is the smile of the beloved daughter that he had lost.

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So that’s basically how we wiped out that bandit group and saved Nee-san. When we found Nee-san, she was unconscious, so we freed her restraints and then just left her there. The very next day, she showed up back at the house, in high spirits. That person is excessively resilient, so her hand injury had already mainly healed up after just one night. After that was a whole week of recovery or investigation or whatnot before she finally left for the royal capital. And for some reason, during that one week she kept fussing over me, it was quite annoying.

Alpha and the others were apparently busy with investigating the bandit gang and cleaning up the leftovers. Ah right, sorry, they’re not bandits, but the Order. Well, bandits by any other name are still bandits in the end.

But damn, that red-eyed ossan sure had talent. It was partly his credit that I was able to use a cool-sounding line like “Then I will dive. It matters not how deep.” Too bad he died, otherwise I would have hired him as a supporting actor.

And my power in the shadows play and ad libbing was a must-see! It’s a pity that there was no audience, but I only have to bear with it for 2 more years. Two years later, I will also be going to the royal capital. It’s the royal capital, that capital! One of few great metropoli of this world, the only city in this country with a population higher than a million. I can bet that there would be both protagonist-like characters and last boss-like characters there. There would be an abundance of incidents, conspiracies, and intricacies that could never occur in a backwater place like here…… and thus opportunities for me to make an appearance as a power in the shadows. Aahh, in that light, then the current me who is making do by only taking out mere bandits is but a frog in a well. My story so far was only the prologue.

As I continued to build up my strength in preparation for 2 years later, Alpha and the 6 others requested to meet with me together. Apparently they want to ‘report’ on their ‘investigation into the Order’ and the results of their ‘research into the Curse.’ Lately they’ve all gotten quite busy, so it’s rare to see all 7 gathered together at the same time. There’s no actual point to ‘investigating’ and ‘researching,’ so you guys should keep it to a moderate level, alright? is what I’m thinking as I listen to their ‘reports.’

To sum it all up.

All of the heroes who fought Diabolos were female. That’s why the Curse of Diabolos only manifests in females.

What a novel idea! But unfortunately, the general consensus is that they were all male. Ohhh, because Shadow Garden only has girls (except for me), so they’re making that their pretext?

Next, the largest percentage of those who manifest the Curse are elves, then beast people, and finally humans. This is related to the lifespans of the races. For example, humans have the shortest lifespans, so the blood of the heroes flows the thinnest in them, which makes it hard for the Curse to manifest. Elves, in contrast, have the longest lifespans, so it is the opposite for them. Then the beast people are in the middle of the spectrum. Speaking of which, I am the only human in Shadow Garden, and I didn’t even have demon possession. As for the 7 of them, 2 are beast people, and the remaining 5 are elves. All of them previously had demon possession. Wow you guys, good job thinking up a setting for even something like this.

Alpha and the girls also ‘reported’ a few other things to me, but it basically just went in one ear and out the other.

And with that, they moved onto ‘reporting’ about the Order. Supposedly the Order is an enormous organization that has grown roots all over the entire world. Nice, I like that you girls think large scale.

The Order calls those suffering from demon possession (or the Curse, you can call it what you want) as ‘Matches,’ and prioritizes the capture and execution of such people. It became that in order to mount a resistance against the Order, members of Shadow Garden also have to scatter across the world, leaving only 1 person to stay with me on a rotation basis. The rest will focus on reaching out to and sheltering those suffering from demon possession and also continue digging into the Order or run interference where opportunities arise.

Hearing that, I got it. They have realized that the Order of Diabolos does not actually exist. Which is why they are trying to say that they can’t play along with this farce any longer, that they want to be set free. That’s what ‘scatter across the world’ means, right? But because I really did cure them of demon possession, so to repay that debt they’ll take turns to accompany me, and for me to be content with that much. That is the message between the lines that they are hoping for me to read.

I found myself feeling a little sad. Even in my previous life, everybody adored heroes when they were children. And I adored powers in shadows in the same way. But eventually, everybody grew up, and before I knew it, they’d all forgotten about their heroes and left me all alone. These girls have also grown up, that’s all there is to that.

Despite feeling a bit sentimental about it, I quickly agreed to let them go. In the first place, I didn’t even plan to gather so many of them. It would be enough with just me and one assistant. I saw off the girls who all teared up at the parting, then swore to myself that I’ll definitely become a power in the shadows, even if I become the only person left in the entire world.