OmaeGotoki: Volume 2 011 - Break The Night

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Flum has lost all sense of the passage of time. She doesn’t know how long she’s sat there against the door, head in her arms, not even blinking. It feels like an eternity, but it can’t have been more than a few hours.

The night is still black as pitch, the hallway still bathed in darkness.

The inside of her mouth is bone dry and she can’t even sweat anymore, nor does she have the willpower left to go to the kitchen for a drink of water.

Clatter --- the door behind her starts shaking as someone on the other side tries to push it open.

“H-Huh? Why won’t it open? I don’t think it’s locked…”

It’s Ink’s voice. Flum twitches.

Should I move?

If I move I’ll have to face her. Of course I’ll have to.

She’s a monstrosity, the same as that thing at the research lab.

In that case… Then…!

“Wah, it opened! ...Eh? Is someone there?”

Flum moves away from the door, and crouched down with her knee to the floor she draws the Zweihander. She strengthens her grip on the hilt, light faintly reflecting off the black blade to give it an otherworldly sheen.

“...Hah... hahh… haahh… ”

“I can hear you breathing… Is that you, Flum? Stop being so quiet and say something!”

Her face is --- normal, just like always.

Does it only change under certain conditions? Can she change it at will?

No, that doesn’t matter. I can’t trust her at all now.

The only thing that’s certain is that her face twisted into a spiral, spewing eyes like a horror from her darkest nightmares --- that’s the truth.

Sara’s gone.

Ed and Johnny are most likely dead.

Otilier’s missing.

Eterna still hasn’t come back, Milkit vanished.

Who knows how many other victims there’ve been.

Ink did it all. It’s all because of her…!

Flum stands up, grabbing the Zweihander in both hands and raising it into the air.

All she has to do is bring it down.

If she does --- Ink will die.

No, that probably won’t be enough. Just like that ‘ogre’, her wounds will probably spiral and twist in on themselves and harden. Unless she crushes the Core she won’t die. Is it in her heart? Somewhere else?

She’ll have to start by hacking her apart into smaller pieces---

Hack her… apart…

Flum’s hands start to tremble.

Kill it now, reason desperately screams.

Don’t do it, emotion tries to stop her.

She has no idea what she should do now.

“You’re right there, aren’t you? Welcome home, Flum! Sorry, it looks like I fell asleep… When I woke up I was back in my room, so I must’ve been half asleep at the time. I’ve been having that kinda problem for a long time. ‘You’re far too restless when you sleep,’ everyone used to yell at me, haha…”

“... Fuu…”

“Are you trying to prank me? My hearing is really good so I can hear your breathing. Since it’s this quiet I can even hear your heartbeat.”

Ink talks to her as if nothing is wrong.

Should I kill her? Can I kill her, even?

What Flum saw earlier might be something completely different from her, taking her place whenever she’s asleep. Maybe it showed itself to her just to spook her.

That’d make sense.

It’d make sense, but what good does that do her?

“Ink…”

She lets her name slip.

Ink’s expression is filled with relief for an instant, but immediately afterwards she puffs out her cheeks with anger.

“You finally answered me! I was really worried that it wasn’t you for a while there!”

Her expression is perfectly normal for a human her age.

She’s… human.

If she’s not then what is she?

If only she’d just stayed a monster this would be a lot easier… why’d she change back like this?

Maybe to pressure her, maybe to make her let down her guard --- but if that was her goal she should’ve killed Flum in her sleep.

Why didn’t she do it?

Why, why, why?

She doesn’t know anything. Thinking about it won’t give her answers.

I can’t accept this.

“It doesn’t feel like you found Milkit, huh. That’s kinda sad, but maybe she’ll come home on her own tomor---”

“Don’t you remember?”

That’s why she asks.

That’s why she sticks her hand into Pandora’s box.

Ink cocks her head to the side.

“Remember what?”

Flum swallows hard, forcing the words out of her dry throat.

“Spewing those eyes… being a monster.”

“...What do you mean? That’s not funny, Flum!”

“It’s not a joke! Just now, just a few minutes ago, you turned into a monster right in front of me! I saw it!”

Her voice echoes through the house, empty except for those two, even reaching past the walls to the outside.

“There’s no way I’d…”

“No, there’s no mistake. I heard it, smelled it, I even felt it! You aren’t human. You’re the monstrosity that’s been controlling those eyes!”

Ink can tell from Flum’s tone that she’s telling the truth. She shakes her head back and forth, muttering to herself.

“I’m a human…!”

“No. You’re not.”

Their words contradict each other.

Neither of them is lying.

It’s because they’re both so sure that they’re at odds.

“I’m humaaan...”

“Just like the Second Generation children at that laboratory, you were twisted and lost your humanity.”

“That didn’t happen… I don’t remember…”

“I finally know what that medicine was for. It was to suppress that ‘power.’”

“Nooo...!”

“Once you didn’t have that limiter, your ‘power’… you chased Sara-chan away!”

“N-No, I’d never hurt her… Sara, you… I love everyone! I wouldn’t do that!”

“How many people do you think you’ve killed!?”

Venom drips from Flum’s words.

Ink, faced with such hatred, such resent, doesn’t know what she should do --- but she doesn’t think for an instant that it’s uncalled for.

Maybe… Maybe she’s right…

Someplace deep in her heart, she knows it’s possible.

Her eyes are sewn shut.

Her body isn’t normal.

Monstrous eyes chasing people throughout the Capital.

Everything points to her being the culprit.

“I don’t know anything about that, really!”

“Then Milkit disappeared and Eterna-san still hasn’t come home yet! Sara-chan, Ed-san, Johnny-san, even Otilier-san are all still missing!”

“No, that wasn’t me…! Why won’t you believe me!?”

“I saw it with my own eyes!! Do you really think I could just believe you after seeing that thing!?”

Flum’s not saying these things because she wants to.

Ink was hoping that she’d be able to live with Flum and Milkit, that she’d be able to call the spot by their sides home.

Everything’s already broken --- completely, utterly, everything.

“I’m… I’m not a monster! I’m not a monster!!”

Ink runs down the stairs.

She trips and falls partway down and tumbles to the first floor. Her entire body stings, and tears start to leak from her sewn-up eyes. She wipes them away with her nightgown --- Flum’s nightgown, the one she lent her, the one that still faintly smells like her.

Memories of the past few days come to mind, making her even sadder.

The sadness fuels her and she runs down the corridor, colliding into walls all the way, finally arriving at the front door --- and out into the street barefoot.

The chill night air reminds her that she’s alone again.

Flum couldn’t bring herself to stop her.

She lets the Zweihander clatter to the ground, falls to her knees, and with closed eyes turns to face the sky.

She’s crying, just like Ink. She doesn’t know who she’s crying for, but all her grievances seem to ball up and spill from her eyes all at once.

“Uu… aaa… aaah, aaaaaaahh, aaaaaaaaaaahhh!!”

Turning all her pent-up emotions into a howl, she cries as if mad.

She grabs her head in her hands, scraping her forehead against the ground, repeating it until blood runs down her face, as if punishing herself.

Even then, with a hoarse voice, she continues to cry.



Ink, hearing Flum’s scream from within the house, stops and looks back.

I’m not the only one who’s sad.

I’m not the only one who’s suffering.

It’s not fake, not some figment of her imagination, the feelings pent up in that cry are real.

It’s not a lie, not a dream.

She really did see that, then…

“Uu… ghu, uu… uuuu…”

Biting her lip, shoulders trembling, she starts to weep.

She wants to believe it’s not true, but she knows full well that she grew up someplace far from normal. She doesn’t know what was going on there, why she was raised there, absolutely nothing.

She was useless and kept from the truth because of it.

That’s why she still doesn’t regret running away from there.

She would’ve loved to kept on living there in ignorant bliss. She might’ve never experienced normal, human happiness, but she wouldn’t know pain and hardship like this, either.

“Flu--- ngh!?”

She starts walking back towards the house when suddenly someone pins her arms behind her back and clamps a hand over her mouth.

No matter how much Ink struggles, she probably won’t be able to break free --- but just for a moment, she’s able to let out a scream.



“Lemme go---!”

Still collapsed on the floor, Ink’s cry reaches Flum’s ears.

It was just for a moment, but it was unmistakable.

She’s probably being attacked by someone.

I’ve got to save her, Flum thinks on impulse, standing up.

She doesn’t move from there, though.

“Save her… and then what?”

She was the one who treated Ink like a monster and chased her out.

“...Ahh.”

Her false sense of justice doesn’t learn from its mistakes, causing her to raise her head.

“...Even so.”

There’s no point in playing the hero now that Milkit’s gone. She’s just Flum Apricot now, she can’t do the impossible anymore.

That means that she can’t suppress the feeling rising in her chest.

“Even so… If I don’t save her now, I know I’m going to regret it later!!”

She casts reason aside. She can’t think about the consequences now.

There’ll be time for that after she’s done what needs to be done.

For now she’ll just focus on saving Ink --- when the time comes she can decide to let her live or kill her with her own hands, by her own will.

Flum bolts through into Ink’s room, leaping out the window. As she falls motes of light envelop her legs, manifesting in her Epic-tier Leather Boots. Slipping slightly as she lands, she touches a hand to the ground before running in the direction of Ink’s cry.

Ink is---

“There!”

Flum finds her being restrained by a certain familiar face.

“Ink!!”

“Nn! Nghgh!”

“Oh, so you came out to play after all.”

“You... Dane! Why’re you here!?”

“Why, to look for a certain escaped little guinea pig, of course! I got the feeling she might be here, and it looks like I wasn’t disappointed. I’m on the ball as always, it would seem.”

He puts a little more strength into his grip, causing Ink to flail in pain.

“Let her go!!”

“Now why would I do that? I have my own problems, you know. Moreover, judging from the way she came running out of the house I’d say the two of you just had a little fight. I know, oh I know, you called her a horrifying monster, didn’t you? Don’t be ashamed, it’s the truth! Hyahahaha!”

“You bastaaaaard!”

“How scary! Looks like I hit the nail on the head.”

His expression is nonplussed as always.

“Did you know this little brat is utterly useless, according to the lab? Do you know why?”

“I don’t know or care!”

“I’ll tell you anyway. It’s because she doesn’t even realize herself that she’s a murderous little monstrosity! Even though she’s the most unsightly of all the Children!!”

“Nnnh…!”

Monstrosity. Murderer.

Ink clamps her eyes ‘shut’ and shakes her head violently. She probably doesn’t want to believe it.

Ignoring her --- or maybe even taking pleasure in her discomfort, he continues to spill the truth.

“It’s all because of how difficult it is for her to manifest Origin’s power. She can only use her powers when she’s not under the effect of the inhibitor and in a deep sleep --- although ‘use’ isn’t quite the right word for it, really, it’s more like Origin’s power dominates her body completely as soon as she loses consciousness. I’ll bet that even when she was in that house of yours she’d spew those putrid eyeballs from her putrid face while you were all ignorantly sleeping away! Isn’t this all so hilariously ironic, Flum, that you of all people are the one to drive her out!? Ahahahahahahahahahaha!!”

He truly seems to be enjoying himself --- but his laughter feels hollow somehow.

“Do you know what happened to Milkit!?”

“Ahahahaha! Ahh, yes, I know. I know aaaaaaaall about it! She’s probably being warped into one of those hideous balls of flesh right now, far out of your reach!”

“…! I’ll kill you! I swear I’ll murder youuuu!!”

Drawing her sword, she dashes towards him.

“Sorry, my job is just to reclaim an escaped little monster. I’ll leave you to these nice fellows!”

Perfectly in sync with Dane’s words, a group of men start to emerge from the shadows around her. They’re the same thugs who were at the sermon with Dane, and every last one of them is expressionless, their eyes dead. They were likely ‘modified’ a little by the Church.

“How pitiful… Even after you lost everything they kept on believing in you, and this is how you repay their trust!?”

“All they wanted was to be of use to me. I’m simply granting their wish.”

“They can’t have wanted this, to be used like mindless tools!”

“Why’re you so worked up about this? They tried to kill you, don’t you remember? Still trying to play the hero, are you!? Your pleasantries make me sick!!”

Dane’s anger feels directionless, as if he’s only lashing out at her.

There’s no way the man that pulled out all the stops against her for killing just two of his men would stoop so low as this.

“I… I didn’t… no, I didn’t want… It wasn’t supposed to be like…!!”

He grits his teeth hard enough to break them, as if lamenting what he himself has become.

“Ha, haha… no, that doesn’t matter now. Yes, as long as I’m alive that’s what matters. I’ve made my decision…”

“Why bother living when you’ve thrown away everything but your cowardice!?”

“Kh… Shut the hell uuuup!!”

Unable to restrain his anger, he points his crossbow at Flum.

“What do you know about me!? You… You don’t know what I’ve lost!!”

“Go on, shoot me.”

“Gh…”

Dane grits his teeth, conflicted.

If he doesn’t shoot, there will be nothing left of the prideful man he once was.

--- Taking a deep breath, the anger disappears from his expression.

“My owner told me not to kill you.”

He gives her a thin, powerless smile.

“I really wish I could kill you here and now, but if I did that I’d just get myself killed. I… I don’t want to die. Nobody would want to die like that. Hehe, fuhehehe… I’ll give you one last warning, though.”

“Warning?”

“Yes, just because I’m so kind. Don’t lay a finger on these men. Run and try to escape if you want, but don’t even think about following me. All of them have already gone completely into their fold, after all.”

“I hope you’re not just begging for your life.”

“Haha, why would I do a thing like that? I’m only thinking of you, I assure you. You’re stupid enough to not know when to quit, after all. Well then, do all you can to stay alive, now.”

“Nghhhh!”

Carrying Ink, he flees into the night. She extends a hand toward Flum, as if asking for help.

“Ink!!”

Flum cries her name and tries to follow after them, but Dane’s thugs step in to cut her off.

About ten men surround her, wielding all manner of weapons from shortswords to spears to clubs. A number of men also stand watching from a distance or up on nearby rooftops, armed with bows, crossbows, and slings.

It’s more than enough to take a single girl.

Flum casts Scan on one of the nearby men. His stat total is 2,482; his Strength and Constitution are about 600 while his other stats are around 400. He’s at the upper bracket of C-Rank, and clearly a quite competent adventurer with no obvious shortcomings. Assuming that Dane himself is at about B-Rank, this man must be the squad leader.

Just to be sure she also casts Scan on another thugs --- and doubts her own eyes.

“They’re the same?”

His stat total is also 2,482. The exact values and his Attribute being the same are one thing --- but even his name is exactly identical to the first man’s.

She casts Scan on another man, then another, then another.

Flum then comes to realize the truth---

“All these men… their names, Attributes, even their stats are all the exact same!”

They look different from each other, but in all other respects they’re exact copies. Flum isn’t too surprised at such an irregularity, though.

“This is definitely the Church’s work…”

More specifically, Origin’s influence at play.

When Dane joined the Church and lost his influence he’d even sold out his subordinates… and as a result they became test subjects against their will.

Flum grits her teeth.

They tried to kill her, certainly, but they idolized Dane. For him to sell them out like this just to save his own skin…

“I’ll never, ever forgive him…!”

Turning her anger into strength, she charges at the men directly in front of her.

This is her first time fighting so many people at once. Given that their stats aren’t that different, she wouldn’t stand a chance against them normally, but if she uses her regeneration and Reversal magic to full effect, she might be able to make it out alive.

In order to turn things around, she’ll have to focus on thinning their numbers first.

FWOOSH!

She draws the Zweihander and swings it in a large arc, but all of the men in front of her step back in perfect sync.

One of the men on a nearby rooftop takes advantage of her opening to fire an arrow at her. Spotting it out of the corner of her eye, she gauges its destination, then gathers mana into her leg. Right as it’s about to hit her thigh---

“Reversal!”

She casts the spell. The arrow’s trajectory ‘reverses’ and it sails back to the rooftops to embed itself into the archer’s neck. Clutching at the shaft, he collapses and rolls off the roof.

“That’s one!”

Flum uses her first kill to psych herself up a little. She was only able to use Reversal because she knew the arrow’s destination, though, and especially since they’ve seen her cast it once they likely won’t fall for the same trick again.

Next to attack her is the group of men on the ground. One of the men right in front of her stabs at her with a spear, aiming for her torso.

SHLUCK --- she takes the spearhead in her shoulder.

Her opponent’s reach is far longer than her own, meaning that if she just plays it safe who knows how long the fight will drag on. In that case it’s far faster to let them rend her flesh and snap her bones, letting her regeneration keep her alive. Setting aside the fact that she’ll be taking a lot of damage in the process, it’s the most efficient way to fight.

Blood sprays from her wound as the intense pain of that clump of metal entering her shoulder assaults her senses. Her expression only twists with pain for a moment, however, and she wrenches the spear out of the thug’s hands, letting it drop to the ground.

The weaponless man quickly backs away, but in his place come two men with shortswords from in front of her and another spearman from behind.

She’ll have to break straight through.

Flum dodges the rain of blades to duck past the swordsmen in front of her, closing in on the weaponless thug. Sensing her behind him, he whips around, fists at the ready.

“It’s useless!”

She swings the Zweihander down at him --- but he deflects the blade with his gauntlets as if dancing, making it miss him completely. He then slips into her guard and drives his fist into her gut.

“Gahh…!?”

His moves are that of a professional brawler, despite his obvious skill with a spear just a moment ago. A master of spear and fist… there’s no way such a man would settle for being one of Dane’s henchmen. It’s not impossible, but incredibly unlikely.

A possible explanation pops into Flum’s head.

Don’t tell me… they share not only their Status but their skills, too…?

In other words, every one of these men is a master of all weapons.

As Flum staggers back from the punch, the second spearman stabs her in the back.

“Ghii…!”

He quickly pulls his weapon out, trained for a second lunge. At the same time a man leaps in from the side, swinging to take off her head.

“Guh…!”

She takes the impact of the blade with her right hand, feeling her wrist break through her gauntlets. On top of that, an arrow comes flying from somewhere in front of her, embedding itself in her shoulder. One of the men on a rooftop to her left casts a Fireball at her, exploding and tearing into her left leg. Unable to withstand the force of the blast she collapses to the side.

“Ugh… guh… agh…!”

The pain assaulting her body from all directions leaves her unable to move.

The difference in their strengths is all too clear.

Given their numbers it’d be suicidal to keep fighting in an open space --- she quickly looks around to find the nearest alleyway, but it’s too far for her as she is now.

Deciding to prioritize mobility for the time being, she sheathes the Zweihander. Rolling to dodge the arrows that rain down on her, she springs to her feet and takes the back of a swordsman. He’d evidently let his guard down, thinking she’d make a break for the alleyway.

“You’re mine!!”

Drawing the Zweihander from its interdimensional sheath, she swings for his neck.

WHOOSH!

Her blade meets only air --- without even turning around, the man ducks out of her way with perfect timing.

What!?

He moved as if he had eyes in the back of his head.

Maybe, just maybe, he has the next best thing.

All the thugs share abilities, skills --- maybe they also share senses. Otherwise there’s no way to explain how he dodged her attack without seeing it himself.

In response to Flum’s shock, another volley of magic and projectiles falls down at her from above. She ducks into cover, but even then she isn’t safe as thugs with melee weapons quickly close in on her from all directions.

Dane’s words come back to her.

[Don’t lay a finger on these men. Run and try to escape if you want, but don’t even think about following me.]

Like I can accept that!

Flum can’t just accept that his warning was sound advice. Crouched over, she makes for the closest alleyway. She still hurts all over, but not badly enough to slow her down.

The thugs behind her don’t let up their pursuit, and stones starts to join the endless barrage of projectiles falling down on her.

If she can only make it a little further she should be able to outrun them without a problem, and on top of that the narrow passages should hopefully prevent them from attacking her more than one at a time.

Just a little further… Just a little more…!

Or so she thinks.

A ball of fire flies past her, hitting the side of a house and exploding. Bricks and debris collapse into the alleyway, blocking the path in front of her.

It’s possible for her to climb it, but there’s a fair chance they’d catch up to her before she can make it all the way over. Panicking slightly, she turns around, and just then two arrows embed themselves in her thighs.

“Gh…!”

A split-second later more arrows fly at her, and while she’s busy ‘reversing’ them back to their source a man with a metal club closes in on her. She desperately swings at him, but her haphazard attack is easily avoided and the man raises his weapon, poised to crush her skull. He’s likely relying on his shared senses to give him enough warning to dodge any counterattack she attempts. It looks like she has no choice but to take the attack head-on…

Flum sniggers at him. He’s practically screaming that he’s wide open.

Concentrating her magic through her feet, she pours energy into the half-meter square area of cobblestone beneath him.

“Reversal!”

The chunk of stone flips over, pinning his legs under it with and breaking them with a dull CRACK in the process. He loses his balance and starts to fall.

He can’t possible dodge her now.

“Soryaaaaaa!!”

Flum swings the Zweihander down at him, cutting him cleanly in two from his right shoulder to left hip.

“That makes two!!”

The difference in numbers is still painfully clear, but now that they’ve lost two of their men she has a little room to breathe now. The remaining men seem completely unfazed by their comrades’ deaths, however.

Those things, consciousnesses all sewn together into a single indistinguishable mass, aren’t even human now. They’re nothing but puppets dancing on Dane’s strings. They may be pitiful, but their only release will be in death. She doesn’t have a single reason to hesitate.

“There’s still a lot of them left…”

They don’t let up the assault, pressing forward at her as she jumps to avoid a Fireball going off at her feet.

There’s no guarantee that anything she tries will work a second time.

Just as she’s trying to think of how she’ll kill the third --- TUNK, something hits the ground a short distance away from her.

She turns to face the sound.

“...Eh?”

An eyeball looks back at her.

It’d be fine if there was only one eye --- but moments later eyes start pouring from the nearby rooftops like rain and even flooding at her from the sides, behind, even the direction of the thugs pursuing her.

[Don’t lay a finger on these men.]

She remembers Dane’s words once again.

This is what he was referring to!?”

Don’t harm them, run and try to escape --- she finally realizes the true meaning behind those words.

Ink didn’t know that she had killed anyone, nor did she realize she herself was a monster. In other words, the eyes aren’t under her control but rather are moved by some other will.

An automatic defense system.

The true identity of the eyes is that of an uncontrollable, limitless power that works to protect those connected to the lab and ensure its secrets are kept.

They likely only didn’t activate when she killed the first man because he was killed by his own arrow.

“Just the thugs put me at my limit, but now the eyes, too…!?”

Flum’s seen what happens to those who’ve touched those eyes herself.

She reflexively jumps back and away from them --- but not quite quickly enough. One of the eyes rolls up onto her foot and slips straight through the Leather Boots and into her foot. There’s no pain, only a very distinct feeling that it’s very, very wrong.

“Hyugh…!”

Her body stiffens as the eye slides into her ankle, reaching the bone, and with a horrible slithering sensation the front of the Boots bulges unnaturally outwards with a second foot.

“This is… kh, uggh… gross…!”

Perhaps due to the added weight on her leg she can’t put all her strength into it or get decent footing. A man with a shortsword manages to catch up to her, unleashing a stab aimed straight for her heart.

SHLUCK!

She accepts it with the palm of her hand instead.

“Agh, guh…!”

The blade punches clean through her hand and out the outer side. He tries to pull it out and stab again, but she grips the hilt and stops the shortsword in place. They each try to wrest control of it from the other, and just as Flum’s about to lose it because of the pain in her hand --- she trips the man and lets go, sending him tumbling into the sea of eyes beside him.

The eyes quickly attempt to avoid their ally, scurrying out of the way like a swarm of baby spiders, but they’re not fast enough. The man lands on a few of them, and a moment later he sprouts a bouquet of limbs, his gut bloating. He nonetheless attempts to stand, but unable to control all his new appendages he succeeds only in flailing and writhing like a massive maggot.

“That makes three…!”

There are still many enemies left, however.

Her third foot slows her down, not to the point where she can’t avoid magic and other projectiles if she sees them coming but enough that they’ve begun to graze her.

Isn’t there someplace where I can put myself at an advantage!?

Flum turns her back on them and starts running, but her third foot only continues to slow her down.

Given this many opponents, the fight’s bound to drag out. This extra foot won’t heal from the Zweihander’s regeneration since it isn’t a ‘wound’. In that case---

---All she has to do is amputate it.

She plants the Zweihander into the ground, then kicks at it as hard as she can.

“Gh, gaaaaaaaagh…!”

SHLICK!

With a pained cry, she cuts her leg clean off. Then, using the Zweihander as a crutch, she keeps on moving forward.

If she stops she’ll fall prey to the eyes.

There’s a bit of a lag between losing her leg and regenerating it, but it’ll be a lot better in the long run to not have the extra foot. She manages to finish regenerating before her pursuers catch up to her, and with her body back in top shape she has no issues putting some distance between them.

Just as she starts to relax a little, she notices a group of six paladins in platemail approaching her from the front. They must’ve noticed something was off and come to investigate, but she can’t just let them get caught up in her mess.

“Um, it’s really dangerous back there, so you should… probably…”

As she raises her voice to warn them, all six paladins ready their weapons simultaneously. Clicking her tongue, she quickly casts Scan on a few of them.

Their stats are different from those of Dane’s men but identical to each other.

“Seriously, a pincer attack!?”

They’re being almost too thorough. Whether they plan to kill her or capture her, at the very least they have no intention of letting her go.

She strengthens her grip on the Zweihander as she looks back and forth between the enemies on either side of her.

Adventurers, paladins, eyes --- there are just too many of them.

She can’t possibly break through them alone. Her hands tremble, the tip of her sword wavering.

All her allies were chased by those eyes and disappeared, nobody’s coming to help her --- that sense of loneliness only adds to her fear.

Those who supported her, those who depended on her, even those whom she’d sworn to protect are all gone, weakening her will as the end closes in before her very eyes.

“I don’t wanna die… I don’t, wanna die…!”

She squeezes out the last of her courage. Just because she doesn’t want to die here doesn’t mean she has the time to mope about it.

She’ll have to break through either the paladins in front of her or the adventurers behind her, simple as that.

Flum faces the paladins, sword raised high into the air. Concentrating, she turns the power coursing through her veins into prana, channeling that pure, unsullied energy into her sword.

Prana Shaker.

If she uses it, then --- no, even if she manages to hit she probably won’t be able to kill them instantly, nor is she skilled enough to use it multiple times in succession.

Her palms start to sweat, and as if responding to her uncertainty the prana begins to dissipate.

No, I can’t be so negative. If I’m going to give up it’ll be after I’ve done everything I possibly can.

She doesn’t have much time left. In moments the adventurers will reach her, and with them the wave of eyes. Given the appearance of the paladins, if that happens then she won’t be able to fight back at all.

She’ll just have to put everything she has into one last strike and bank on a miracle---

“Flum, smash that prana into the ground!!”

---And just then, the voice of a certain Chosen rings out through the despair-filled Capital.

“HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”

Without hesitating, she swings the Zweihander at the ground just as the voice told her to.

The prana explodes outwards, creating a storm of energy.

CRCK, WHHHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

The gale of force blasts at the paladins. They try to block it, but the energy slips in through the cracks in their armour and rends their flesh.

Cavalier Arts: Prana Storm.

Instead of enhancing a blade the prana emulates the weapon, exploding outwards to cut into everything in a wide area. It requires a lot more prana than Prana Shaker, but Flum has already reached the point where such a skill is possible.

The voice’s owner falls from the rooftops above, splitting the cobblestone beneath his black-plated feet. He wastes no time in drawing his massive blade and swinging it at the eyes and adventurers behind Flum.

“Hrngh!”

WHOOO… GOGOGOGOGOOGOGO!!

He uses the same Prana Storm as Flum just did, but the force of his blow is enough to split the ground, rip into the nearby buildings, and utterly crush all life within its field.

The pursuers are, of course, no exception. While the eyes quickly fill the street again moments later, the surviving adventurers hesitate just outside the attack’s range.

“Gadio-san!”

She calls his name, a slight trembling in her voice.

“Don’t drop your guard. It’s not over yet.”

His deep, forceful, yet kind voice breaks through Flum’s solitude and raises her spirits. Just as he says, though, the fight isn’t over. They’ll have time to celebrate later.

“Okay!!”

Wiping away her tears, she faces the paladins in front of her head-on. At her back, Gadio readies his own black blade---

“Haaaaaa!!”

“Oaaaaaagh!”

They charge forward at their enemies in perfect sync.

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