31. On the Cusp of Despair
A drawn-out cry echoes into the sky. It’s the mixture of a roar brimming with fighting spirit and the shriek of a heartbroken woman trying to stay strong against despair. “Aaahhhhhhhhhh!”
Lefille’s rage filled slash flares with a crimson storm of glittering red wind as it strikes down against the mazoku general, Rajas. Her attack cuts through the ground, mountain, and sky. The swing splits everything before itself regardless of size.
Rajas, however, holds up his arm and stops the attack with his jet black aura.
Despite how scores of mamono and mazoku were slaughtered by the spirit’s power, Rajas’ flesh is unharmed. Neither the blade, nor even a single spark of her crimson wind touch his skin. Her power, when against the power from the evil god, can’t even scratch Rajas.
“Haa haaa!! What’s wrong, swordsman of Noshias? Is that all a bitch can do?!!”
Lefille unleashes a crimson strike, “Samidare,” as she says, “Shut uuuuuup!!” Following comes a violent tempest of techniques: “Nagi,” “Kasaya,” “Kiriage,” “Karatake,” “Gyaku Kasaya,” and “Kyaku Fuu.”
Rajas deflects each strike with an aura clad fist. Bundles of crimson strings thrust into ink black pools only to be repealed. Shock waves crumble the ground beneath their feet and clouds of dust are sent flying. The exchange of sword and fist burns the air and chars the remaining land black.
Lefille is at the disadvantage. In terms of ability, Rajas is leading. Each time she falters back a step, the mazoku general takes two. Every ten slashes of her sword are met with eleven blows from his fists.
Everything Lefille does is anticipated by Rajas. Regardless of what she attempts, he is always a step ahead. Furthermore, each failed endeavor comes with a heavy blow that shakes their surroundings.
Rajas, in the middle of that furious exchange, decides to finish the battle with one massive strike. Lefille notices his intentions, but her body refuses to respond. Normally, she’d be able to respond to the large opening he’s presenting her with five slashes of her sword. Now, even though an opportunity presents itself, her battered body doesn’t even allow her to deliver a single slash. The most she can manage is receive the punch with the flat side of her sword.
The heavy blow rattles Lefille’s body as it sends her flying back. The shock wave from the impact rings all throughout and mixes with the anguished moan that escapes her.
Lefille gasps with her knees on the ground. “Guuuh…”
Rajas grins as he looks down at her. “Kukuku, this is just like before.”
“That’s right, back when we ravaged your country. Nothing’s chan—”
Rajas’ words return Lefille to the day mazoku stormed Noshias. Never will she forget that time. Everything that happened has been engraved into her memories.
She was cutting through waves and scores of mazoku when Rajas appeared. He blew away enemy and ally alike as he forced his way through his horde of mazoku. His overwhelming power allowed him to destroy everything that stood in his way. It was a clear testament to the peculiar power possessed by all mazoku and that power, just like now, forced Lefille onto her knees.
All she could do was helplessly watch as her fellow countrymen were slaughtered before her eyes. That same scene repeated itself multiple times in multiple places and continued all the way until the fall of the royal capital.
Every battle she lost against Rajas ended with others sacrificing themselves so she could survive. Each time that mazoku’s power was about to reach her, someone else stood up to take the blow. Her fellow countrymen, her comrades, her friends, and her family: everyone dear to her died for the sake of becoming her shield.
Lefille falls prisoner to her memories. “Ugh, ugghh…”
A grin plays on Rajas’ face at her moans. It’s almost as if he knows exactly what she’s thinking. “That’s it? Your power will never defeat me.”
His claim that she’ll never defeat him claws deep into her heart. Although those malice filled words deny everything she represents, they have already been proven. That she will never defeat him is true.
A bolt of thunder echoes off in the distance. A raging storm approaches and Rajas’ voice is no different from its fiercest roars. The rumblings from both dig at her heart.
“Frustrated? Looks like I hit a sore spot. Bitch, you’re the one who ran away. You made all those boasts about how you’d protect the people, your comrades, only to turn your back on them. You never fought to the end.”
“Shut up…, shut uup…! Stop talking already!”
“You want me to shut up? You don’t want to hear what a pathetic bitch you’ve been so far? Not too proud of it, huh? Kuku— that’s right, everyone wants to hide their shame. You don’t want anyone to see the ugly truth. You don’t want anyone to it point out. Aren’t you the one who left everyone else to die? Didn’t you run to save your own precious life? You’re a disgrace and you know it. Tell me I’m wrong.”
Lefille wants to silence Rajas’ mouth along with his ‘know it all’ attitude. He doesn’t know a thing about me. She had to kill her own heart countless times in order to grant their hopes and wishes for her survival. The thoughts and emotions those wounds made her experience are something Rajas will never be able to imagine.
Rajas continues to run his mouth in order to get an answer from Lefille. “That reminds me. Do you know what happened to everyone after you ran away from Noshias?”
“What are you talking about…?”
“Your comrades, your friends, and your family: those humans who gave their lives so you could escape. Don’t you want to know what kind of fate they had?”
Lefille is overcome with anxiety at those words. Nausea wells up from her stomach, but she forces it down and speaks with burning impatience. With a hoarse voice, she says, “Yo- you bastard… What did you do?”
Rajas relishes the fear radiating off Lefille’s face. The futility of her emotion makes him laugh as he says, “You want to know? I ripped off their limbs so I could enjoy their agonizing deaths. Doesn’t it sound thrilling? They sacrificed themselves for someone they believe in, but died screaming in pain and fear. Those pathetic bastards were even cursing their cherished goddess by the end. That said, they were pretty quiet at first. It only got fun midway through.”
Lefille’s heart breaks at Rajas’ loud laughter. Her memories flicker at his words and she imagines the agony everyone must have suffered. “——!!”
As the one accepting responsibility for leaving them behind, she wonders about the pain they endured. How much did they suffer? For how long did they despair?
Rajas tortured her loved ones purely for pleasure, not for the sake of executing them. They stare at her with hollow eyes. They gave their lives for her, but have returned to voice their resentments. Those voices she shouldn’t be able to hear seep deep into her heart.
“This… chichi-ue… everyone…”
“Understand? Have you figured out what happened to your home yet? Everyone you loved met with a wretched death. Fuhahahahahahahaha!!”
“Bastard, how dare … how dare you!!”
“What, are you angry!? Can’t take it anymore!? Don’t forget, swordsman from Noshias, this is your sin!! You’re the one who ran away. This is your responsibility to carry.”
Lefille, unable to take his mocking any longer, rushes Rajas with her sword. She swings with all of her strength, but strikes without a single bit of technique. Her body is off balance and her eyes are tunneled onto her enemy. The rage and confusion clouding her judgement result in a stupidly direct attack that focuses on nothing more than power. “Uaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”
That passion once more ignites her sword. Anger, resentment, and hatred envelope her blade with the glittering, red power of the spirit. “Oooooooooooohh!!”
Rajas flicks aside her attack by striking his fist into her sword’s flat side. “Pathetic!!”
Lefille, her thoughts, and her sword all scream, “Chee!”
Despite that failure, she grits her teeth and shakes off the bitter pain gouging at her heart in order to follow up with a second attack.
A snicker leaks into Rajas’ sigh as the black aura surrounding his arm suddenly swells. “Fu—”
Lefille’s spirit breaks. Her strength evaporates as despair takes root within her heart. The power he’s gathering is one which exceeds that of a normal mazoku’s. It is what allowed him to claw his way into the position of a mazoku general. Various memory flashes are triggered. His technique once annihilate an entire fortress and single handedly brought the mazoku a victory. “Uh…. ah….”
The dark violet aura forms into a sphere of malice as it clumps together and grows large enough to engulf an adult. The calm that sets down right before it begins to rumble is like one before a tempest.
Lefille is helpless against that violet sphere. It has enough power to transform a fortress into a vacant plot of land. Furthermore, the vast range it covers makes it impossible to avoid. Her only hope for survival is by gathering as much power of the spirit onto herself as she can.
That’s when she’s swallowed by the surging, malice infused, sphere. “Gu, uwahhhhhhhhh!!”
Murky darkness surrounds Lefille. Everything feels like it’s being stolen away and destroyed. Within that darkness which seems to foretell the end, her five senses are stripped away.
Then, after what feels like an infinitesimal amount time, she opens her eyes. Save for herself, everything has vanished. The trees, rocks, underbrush, adventurer’s corpses, and even the remains of that girl are gone. Nothing remains.
She was able to endure the attack. She endured it, but the battle isn’t over and she lost a substantial amount of strength. Her entire body has been left ragged. “Keh, ha… Ugh…”
Nothing’s changed. It happened again.
Lefille’s power of the spirit is strong. It’s resistance against the mazoku’s power ensured her survival. Yet, as the only survivor, she’s burdened with the pain and guilt of surviving.
Her body quivers and various places twitch from the pain she’s experiencing. Rajas draws closer and lifts her by taking a fistful of her hair. “Fun—”
Lefille burns with the desire to break free, but her body is too numb to cooperate. “What? Release—”
Rajas punches her in the stomach. The heavy blow from his log like arm rips through the strained power of spirit that still protects her.
Pain runs through Lefille’s internal organs. “Guhh!!”
A joyful smile crosses Rajas’ face as he says, “I’m not finished,” and unleashes a barrage of strikes. He’s like a wound up mechanism only capable of repeating the same trick while his arm is the battering ram trying to force open a castle’s gates.
Each blow from the rain of punches from his boulder like fist draws an anguished groan from Lefille. Those ragged breaths are all she can manage before vomiting out everything within her stomach. “Ga—haa, goho, goho…”
Rajas then drops her body onto the ground.
Drool dribbles from her gaping mouth as she writhes in place. It’s as if she’s become a worm. No, something even less. “Ah, augh…”
Pain wracks her body. Everything hurts, but more than her body is the ache within her heart. Rajas gradually cut away at her heart as he ravaged her physically and mentally. Her strength has been sapped, she can no longer move, and her thoughts have stopped. Her sole wish now is to give up.
Rajas, despite having already broken her, continues his assault. “How disappointing.”
“Look at you. Stupid bitch, did you really think you’d be able to meet the expectations of everyone you promised to protect?”
That question flies at Lefille as she tries to stand back up by using her sword as support. She doesn’t need to think about those words. Considering them is already pointless.
“Could you save anyone?”
She already knows the answer.
“Would anything of this change if you went back to that time?”
I know. So just—
“Doesn’t look like you can protect a thing to me. Not even a single person.”
“Uh, ah, augh, aughhhhhhhhh!”
Everything is as Rajas says. Lefille not only failed the comrades she grew alongside with, she was neither able to protect the merchant caravan nor herself. The events of the past would only repeat themselves even if she did return to them. Her frustration leads to screams and tears beyond her ability to control.
I can’t defeat this mazoku. I’ll never win.
That truth hurts. The bitterness of being told there is nothing she can do stings harder than the pain wracking her body. As such, she wants those words to stop. “Ahh— —”
“Accept it, no, actually, you already have, didn’t you? That you’re a worthless, pathetic, bitch.”
I’m worthless. Nothing I did matters.
The sword Lefille supports herself with drops from her hands as her knees give way. Her shoulders sag as her arms dangle by her sides. She no longer has the strength or determination to wield her weapon. All of it has evaporated from her body.
Joy laces Rajas voice as he says, “—finally giving up?”
Lefille has been broken. Just as Rajas concluded, she no longer desires to fight him. She has lost everything. All that she holds dear and her pride have been taken away. Just do whatever you want.
“Fuun, there’s no value for me to even kill you anymore. Just like all your loved ones, it’s fitting that you die after being tormented.”
Rajas then signals his subordinates with his eyes. Several mazoku able to withstand his dark aura jump in response.
Lefille, through her misted eyes, sees mazoku scrambling to be the first to reach her. Time slows down for her as she takes in everything. The claws with which they’ll reap her life, their repulsive appearances, their vulgar grins, and their malice filled eyes are in clear view. “Augh…”
…Why? Why am I going to die like this? Everything I cherished was stolen, I was humiliated, I lost, so why do also have to give up. I tried to live a proper life. I shouldn’t be falling here. Where did I go wrong? Why am I facing such a wretched end?
Why is “hope” even a word? Who came up with that lie? There’s no such thing in this world. Clinging to it is pointless. A waste of time. It’s just a cruel trick meant to lure others deeper into hell. Believing in it so much up until now, I was so stupid.
As Lefille laments her misfortune, as she curses the world, as tears overflow from her eyes, she says, “Someone, help me…”
After everything that has happened to her, despite the impossibility of it, she still honestly wishes for someone to save her. Please, some—
Lefille tries shutting her eyes to her approaching death when lighting thunders down from the sky right before them. Blinding light floods her vision and buries everything in white. The advancing mazoku, the impending nightfall, the ground that’s being blow away, and even Rajas are swallowed by it.
Once the roar of thunder and the blinding light fade, the mazoku who were racing to kill her are revealed to have disappeared. As she tries looking around, she realizes that someone is wiping away the warm tears which clouded her vision.
Rajas says, “Bastard, who are you?”
Something black flutters before Lefille. She’s very familiar with the one standing before her, but at present, he wears black clothes and a composure she has never seen before.
–cute star, cute star, come back, we miss you–
Suimei keeps his eyes shut as the burning, blinding, light he called bathes the surroundings. Doing so allows him to avoid imprinting any after images onto his retina. He opens his eyes on the moment he predicts the light will fade and an atrocity appears before him. So, evil exists here too. I’m sick and tired of seeing this time and again! Mocking those living upright lives, trampling on their tears, and not even feeling the slightest guilt as their victims cry out and fall into despair.
Of those unforgivables who delight in harming those who followed a proper life and mercilessly usurp the pride of their lives. Who know nothing of the suffering belonging to those desperate for help.
They’re the incarnation of evil. Their only delights are in stealing away the happiness of others.
Suimei walks towards Lefille through the remaining light at a leisure pace. He stops before her and, once the light vanishes, sees an endless trail of tears flowing from her eyes. Not wanting to see her cry, he wipes them away with a finger. Her eyes are swollen and red. Her entire body was beat ragged. Simply looking at her is painful. He has no excuses.
A fragile voice leaks out from her heart before she can even think about what to say. It’s nothing more than a fleeting sigh. A faint sound that preludes the shattering of a tormented heart. “Ah—”
Lefille is a girl who was never able to forgive herself. She has always been suffering and cursing herself with relentless self-loathing. Why did such a gentle girl like her have to encounter a fate like this? Why is someone who is more accepting to a life of honorable poverty than anyone else, has a stronger sense of righteousness than anyone else, forsaken to an end like this? Why does the world need to always push people like her into the depths of despair?
—To those who make others cry, remember, there is no rain of sorrow that can’t be driven away in this world.
—To those who make others suffer, remember, there is no burning pain that can’t be extinguished in this world.
—To those who are revere immorality, don’t forget that there is no place in this world for you.
Rajas says, “Bastard, who are you?”
“A magician, Yakagi Suimei.”
He is ready to prove here and now that he is a modern magician and he will proudly do so of his own free will.
T/N: This chapter was so annoying to translate! A lot of progress was made, but at the same time nothing happened. Doesn’t help that this was already translated once. I’ll be honest, retranslating these is annoying. I also refuse to host the previous translations~ On the plus side, with this chapter done, there are only two left to complete until that 8 chapter gap between chapters 27- 34 are filled. Granted, that still leaves me chapters 1-27, but I’ll worry about those next year. >.>
To mow down, an article of monk’s clothing, conclusion, Chinese bamboo, reverse kasaya, and adverse wind.
Honorable father. Ue is a formal way of showing respect. Was used in samurai families before the Meiji period.