OmaeGotoki: Volume 2 012 - Counterattack
In front of Flum stand six paladins. Just in terms of numbers she’s at an overwhelming disadvantage, but on top of that their stats are slightly higher than those of Dane’s men. At her current strength they’re difficult opponents indeed.
Yet for some reason, she doesn’t feel as though she could possibly lose.
Her prana-infused blade crashes into the nearest paladin’s side, causing his armor to dent inwards and into his internal organs. Spewing blood from his mouth, he’s sent flying and crashes to the ground some distance away.
Immediately after she attacks, a spear is thrust at her head from the side. She quickly leans out of the way, the spearhead grazing her nose as it passes. Before she can regain her balance a second spear thrust comes from the opposite direction.
Got her --- all five paladins think the same thing as one, but she jumps into the air cartwheeling, nimbly dodging the attack. Such a movement would’ve been impossible without the use of prana.
Using the centrifugal force of her rotation, Flum smashes the ‘paladin’ who just attacked her with the Zweihander. The black blade makes full contact with his helmet, crushing it and his skull together. His brain is crushed, his death instant.
Evading the arrows that fly down at her from above, she lets out a long breath, recharging her prana.
Gadio, in the opposite direction, stabs his gigantic sword straight forwards at the mass of eyes and adventurers as they resume their attack.
The mass of prana in his sword bursts forth, exterminating everything in front of him.
“A straightforward stab. Focus on a single point and pierce right through it!”
What he just did was likely an example. Flum, listening to his instruction, focuses her prana on the tip of her sword before thrusting it forwards.
--- Cavalier Arts: Prana Sting.
The needlepoint strike punches straight through the paladin’s platemail, punching a several-centimeter wide hole straight through him. Clutching at his wound, he slumps to the ground with a clatter.
Only three remain.
All as one the remaining ‘paladins’ hesitate, temporarily stopping outside her reach. Flum uses the opening to calm her breathing.
“Fuu… By the way, Gadio-san, why’re you here?”
“Because of them.”
He jerks his chin in the direction of the mass of eyes that only seems to grow larger by the minute.
“Y-You were being chased by those things, too?”
“That about sums it up.”
He snorts, a bit of self-derision in his tone.
Flum remembers hearing from Otilier about other people looking into the Church’s dark side; Gadio must be one of them.
His exhaustion is clear on his face. He’s probably been on the run for a few days now. The fact that he can keep on fighting despite that, though, just goes to show how strong he must be.
Deciding to hear the full story from him later, Flum refocuses her attention on the paladins.
From there, it would be more adept to call it ‘training’ rather than fighting.
Gadio smashes his sword into the ground to create a powerful wave of prana along the ground, and copying his movements Flum slays another ‘paladin.’ Following his motions she draws a cross in the air with her blade to create a wall of prana, blocking the magic of the remaining two ‘paladins.’ Hearing a trick to help draw out even more prana, she pours her renewed energies into the Zweihander and is able to cut one of the ‘paladins’ clean in half when before it was all she could do to send them flying.
“You’re the last!!”
Now that it’s down to one-on-one there’s no way she can lose.
Flum swings her pitch-black blade straight down at the last paladin, cutting him cleanly in half armor and all. The enchantment on her Leather Boots causes the blood and viscera that start to seep out freeze solid a moment later.
Swinging her blade clean of blood, she turns back to look at Gadio.
His sheer force of will is enough to crush the eyes that get too close to him, and as the last of the adventurers recoil---
---he reduces them to dust with a single, unbelievably powerful swing.
Flum had always knew Gadio was strong, but seeing him fight mere humans like this makes it even clearer. Despite that, though, he not only didn’t neglect her while they were in the Hero’s Party together but he even went out of his way to look after her ---- she can’t help but admire him.
“It looks like you’re done there.”
“Yeah, somehow. I really can’t thank you enough for saving me. If you hadn’t come when you did I don’t know what I would’ve done.”
“Hmph. It wasn’t just my strength, though.”
He smiles kindly.
“You’ve gotten strong, Flum.”
One of the Chosen --- Gadio --- has finally accepted her strength.
She’s so happy she almost feels like dancing, but she quickly brings herself back under control.
I’m still weak. I haven’t saved anyone yet.
“So much has happened since I last saw you… I’d love to catch up, but first---”
“We have work to do.”
Even now the eyes only continue to swarm them.
Flum and Gadio avoid them as they chase after Dane.
The giant man in black armour and the much smaller girl make an interesting pair as they run through the night.
They still haven’t found any sign of Dane. They exchange what information they have as they continue their search.
“So this Ink girl is creating those eyes?”
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“One of the Spiral Children, huh…”
“Are those spy-whatevers what the Church has been working on?”
“If you know that much, then you must be looking into the Church after all. Yes, they’re the result of insane experiments where newborns’ hearts are replaced with Origin Cores.”
“An Origin Core for a heart…”
If Flum destroys Ink’s Core she’ll die --- but as long as that Core is still in her chest she’ll keep spewing those eyes.
“What sort of relationship do you have with this Ink?”
“I happened to rescue her a few days ago and we’ve been living together ever since.”
“You’d like to save her, then.”
Facing the ground, Flum nods.
If there’s any way to remove the Core, she wants to save her… though she realizes that itself is the problem.
“Sorry, but I can’t think of anything. We can’t leave her in Dane’s hands, though.”
As fellow adventurers, Gadio has likely at least heard of Dane before.
“He’s already sold his soul to the Church.”
“Hopeless… The fool even had the nerve to throw away the one thing he should’ve held dear.”
Gadio spits out his words with disgust.
Just then, a roaring wave of eyeballs falls from the rooftops on either side of them.
Two great rifts are torn in the night sky itself, and without even touching the ground the powdered remains of the eyes are caught by the breeze and carried off.
“Come to think of it, were you the one who threw that dagger at my window last night?”
“I’d managed to figure out that you were living there, but I couldn’t just stop to talk to you face-to-face. Was it too hard to understand?”
“Of course it was! You didn’t even write your name, and it was so messy…”
“I didn’t have a lot of time, after all.”
He must’ve written the note as he was being chased by the eyes --- just figuring out where she lives must’ve been difficult.
“At first I was convinced that it was a prank from one of Dane’s men.”
“At any rate, it doesn’t look like you paid it any mind.”
“It was too late to just sit back and do nothing anyway. I’m their target.”
“It seems like Origin wants me for something. If you think about it there wouldn’t be any other reason why someone weak like me would be on the Journey --- hup!”
Flum jumps to avoid a cluster of eyes that bubble out of the ground beneath her feet.
Without slowing down the two make a sharp left turn around the corner in front of them.
“I don’t know why yet, but there’s a chance it’s after my Attribute.”
“Yeah. Those Origin Core things you mentioned are pretty much indestructible, right?”
Flum thinks back to how Neigass reacted back outside the lab near Enchide.
“Exactly. It’s possible to wear them down, yes, but not destroy them.”
Gadio’s likely come up with that much information through his own research.
“But I was able to break one.”
“So you’ve fought with them already.”
“Back then I was so desperate I poured magic, prana, everything I had at the Core.”
“You believe that your magic was the key, then?”
“If Origin really does get its power through those ‘spirals’, then I think that by ‘reversing’ it I was able to screw up the flow somehow.”
“I don’t follow how, but if you destroyed a Core then it must be true. If prana was the key then somebody would’ve figured it out long before now.”
“I’m the only one who can do it, so that’s why Ink---”
Flum looks down at her palm. Even if she can’t save her, she can at least prevent further tragedies.
Can I really bring myself to do that, though…?
Gadio suddenly shouts out.
“To the side, Flum! Now!!”
Unsure of what’s happening, Flum jumps to the side.
Immediately afterwards, two young boys who hadn’t been there before extend their hands and chant short incantations.
The air around them starts to warp and twist.
On one side, the air starts whipping around almost like a tornado. Blowing right past Flum, the raw energy drills a circular shape in the wall behind her.
On the other side, the air starts bending and billowing. When it hits the wall it starts twisting and deforming it without destroying it, leaving a deep spiral mark in the wall.
Both ‘powers’ look almost identical to what Flum witnessed at that research facility.
“What, you know who we are? Dammit, ain’t that a major Church secret?”
“Mother’ll probably scold us when we get back…”
They sound just like young children --- but instead of proper faces they have hideously twitching spirals of flesh.
“The scary troublemaker Rook and the momma’s boy Fwiss…”
“Ink told ya about us? Damn, she’s worthless!”
“I-It’s fine… She’s only a First Generation, so she can’t have told them anything important…”
“Sorry, but we’re in a hurry! I’ve got somewhere I need to be!”
“That’s why we’re stopping you, dammit! Rotation!”
Rook throws his fist forward, launching more of that ‘rotation’ energy at Flum. She dodges to the side, slashing away the eyes that draw close to her.
“I guess we don’t have a choice…!”
Flum casts Scan on the two of them.
Fwiss Toole Attribute : Air Strength : 2,341 Magic : 3,923 Stamina : 2,371 Agility : 5,712 Intuition : 4,112
Rook Fulloop Attribute : Earth Strength : 3,298 Magic : 3,792 Stamina : 3,512 Agility : 3,148 Intuition : 4,215
Her jaw drops. Ink, a First Generation Spiral Child, had perfectly normal stats for her age --- this just proves that the Second Generation are different beings entirely.
“I’ll take them on here, Flum!”
“Gadio-san!? Not even you could take them both on alone!”
“Don’t worry about me, they’re only children. No matter how strong they are, I can make up for it with technique.”
His words are firm and without hesitation, as confident as if he’s already won.
“There’s no point in just looking at our Status! Papa’s power can’t be measured with those damn numbers!”
“Papa’s really amazing! We’re so strong with just a little bit of his blood! We won’t lose to you even if you are one of the Chosen!”
Rook and Fwiss seem confident they can’t lose.
Should I leave Gadio to fight them alone?
Maybe I should fight with him --- we’ll get there later but we’ll get there together.
Just as Flum is trying to figure out what she should do --- two voices ring out from the rooftops above, as if provoking the Children.
“Cocky little brats.”
“I daresay you shouldn’t be so confident until you’ve started living on your own at the very least!”
Flum looks up and spots the silhouettes of two women against the night sky.
“Eterna-san and Otilier-san!?”
As they leap down to the street below they attack Rook and Fwiss. An arrow of ice and a blade of blood hit the ground as the Children nimbly jump back to avoid them.
“You’re causing such a ruckus it was easy to find you. Oh, Gadio’s here, too.”
“I found Flum the same way.”
“The two of us can handle these Children just fine on our own. Please, leave this to us.”
Eterna and Otilier together shouldn’t have any problems, even against the Children.
“You damn hags are still alive!?”
“Who exactly do you suppose I am? Until the day Oneesama finally returns my affections not even the gods could possibly kill me!”
“It looks like Ink’s power alone really isn’t enough after all… We’ve gotta tell Mother about this...!”
“Not so fast. I’m all sweaty from that running and your ‘faces’ are creepy. I’ll have to relieve some stress with you first.”
There’s no time to celebrate reuniting --- the waves of eyes around them only continue to rise and roll.
“Let’s go, Flum.”
“Okay! Eterna-san, Otilier-san, don’t you dare lose to the likes of them!”
Leaving the Children to them, Flum and Gadio press onwards.
Flum and Gadio still don’t see Dane, but judging from the direction he was headed they have a pretty good idea of his destination.
Eterna and Otilier are dealing with the Children, so Flum and Gadio alone should be enough to defeat Dane, save Ink and get Milkit to safety---
Milkit… I hope you’re okay.
All she can do is hope.
“Flum, I need to confirm something.”
“What is it?”
“You seem to have heard the names of the Children from Ink. Did you hear any names aside from those two?”
“Umm… I think there was also Nekt and Mute. Why do you ask?”
“It’s nothing... this presence must be one of those two is all.”
The cocky laugh of a young boy comes from the darkness behind them. He closes his fist, activating his ‘power.’
Sensing something off, Gadio stops there.
“Don’t stop, Flum!”
Unsure of what’s going on, she sprints ahead.
With a tremendous roar, the walls on either side of them clamp together as if to crush them.
Gadio holds the two walls apart with raw strength alone. His arms tremble, veins popping out on his forehead… he can’t keep it up for long on physical strength alone.
Worse, the eyes are starting to close in on him.
He’d wanted to go with her and help her fight Dane, but --- as Flum makes it out of the alleyway, he lets go of the walls and slips out the opposite end towards the Spiral Child.
The two are completely cut off from each other.
“Why’d these walls suddenly…!?”
“The ability to bring two things together regardless of what they are or the space between them --- that’s my ‘power.’”
Flum can only hear the voice of a young boy, but Gadio can see him, clearly not even ten years old. He’s dressed in fine white clothes not unlike a hospital gown.
“I see. Those two Children from before --- you’re the one who teleported them to us.”
Gadio had only sensed their presence the moment before they attacked. It wasn’t because Rook and Fwiss concealed their presences but rather because they weren’t there until that moment.
“Teleportation…? Are you the one who took Milkit!?”
“Haha, as expected of the Chosen, you guys are sharp. Yeah, I did it all.”
“Is Milkit okay!?”
“Who knows? Dane’d probably know better than me. I only did as I was asked. I couldn’t care less about her now.”
Knowing Dane, he’d probably wait until Flum could see before killing Milkit. If that Child didn’t kill her, there’s a fair chance she’s still alive.
“You probably heard about me from Ink, but my name is Nekt Linkedge. You could say I’m the leader of the Children.”
“You even told us your name. How polite.”
“Wouldn’t it suck to be killed by someone you haven’t properly met?”
“Hmph. Just like a kid, trying to act all grown-up.”
Gadio snorts at him, and Nekt’s eyes narrow in indignation. Already their wills have begun to clash --- it’ll only be a few moments before they start fighting in earnest.
Gadio still has something he needs to tell Flum, though. He raises his voice loudly enough to pass over the wall.
“Flum, one last thing! Sara Anvilen is alive!”
Flum is shocked at first, but a moment later her vision starts to blur with tears. She wishes she could ask how he knows that but as the eyes have already started to close in on her again. She can’t afford to dawdle.
She’s reunited with Gadio, Otilier, and Eterna, and now she knows that Sara’s okay.
The light of hope in her heart that she was certain had been smothered by darkness starts to shine again.
“She’s alive… Haha, she’s okay…!”
She didn’t think Sara was dead, but she wasn’t able to wipe clear all her doubt until now.
“Thank you so much, Gadio-san!”
Raising her voice loud enough to reply, she starts running again. Weaving between the eyes, she runs faster now than she has all day.
Gadio, turning his back on the wall, smiles a little at the sound of Flum’s thank-you.
“Do you really have the time to be laughing now, Ojisan?”
“Yeah, I do.”
Gadio’s rapid response puts Nekt into a foul mood. Pulling his hair back behind his ear, he glares at Gadio with cold eyes.
“You’re underestimating me, aren’t you? I can kill a geezer like you in a heartbeat, y’know.”
“Confidence can become strength, but get too cocky and you’ll hurt yourself.”
“There you go treating me like a kid again --- I hate adults like you.”
Nekt laughs coldly, stretching his hand out palm-up. A moment later his face starts warping into a red spiral of raw flesh.
Gadio readies his sword, prepared to attack at any time but not forgetting the eyes closing in from all around him.
He lets out a long breath, generating a massive amount of prana. Any eyes that draw close to him are crushed by the sheer pressure of the energy coursing through him.
“Let’s get started, then.”
As soon as Nekt’s face has finished warping into something inhuman, he clenches his fist.
Just as his voice comes from somewhere in his face, he vanishes, moving too quickly for even a Chosen’s eyes to track.
No --- such a thing can’t possibly exist. He didn’t move, he teleported.
Sensing a presence right behind him, Gadio whips around and swings.
“Whoops, looks like you’re pretty quick.”
The blade passes a hair’s width from Nekt’s face.
“You’re not good enough, though --- Connection!”
He vanishes again, appearing back where he started. Then, he clenches his fist again.
“And again, Connection!”
Words thick with power, the spiral on his face twitches and pulses as an incredible force comes to be. The walls on either side of Gadio ‘connect,’ moving as if to crush him.
“Do you really think that same trick will---”
“That’s where you’re wrong! Eat this! Connection!!”
The air above Gadio ‘connects’ with the cobblestone street somewhere, moving the mass of cobblestone right over top of him. It falls as if to crush him --- an attack from four directions, a powerful crushing technique that no human body could withstand.
“Ahaha, even a Chosen’s way too weak for me!”
Nekt is already certain of his victory --- but then.
“Cavalier Arts Expansion---”
Even in the face of certain death Gadio’s breathing is calm and collected as he prepares his own attack. He’s using more than just prana, however.
His Attribute is Earth.
Channeling magic through his arms and into his blade, rubble starts to gather around his blade. What was once only as long as he is tall doubles, triples, and continues to grow even larger. The sword is already far too large for him to lift without using prana, let alone swing.
Filling that towering blade with even more prana, he swings it down in front of him.
The technique is one he developed himself, a Cavalier Art for his exclusive use --- hence Cavalier Arts Expansion.
He swings the blade downwards, and for a split-second all sound dies as though time has stopped.
The next instant---
With a deafening blast, the walls closing in on him, the street above him, everything is crushed to dust.
Nekt’s finishing move was completely thwarted with a single swing. As the rubble rains from the sky around him, however, the ‘boy’ laughs.
“...Heh. I take it back, Ojisan, you aren’t half bad.”
“I don’t have to worry about Flum getting caught up in my attacks now. I’ll be going full-out on you now.”
“Yes, yes, that’s what I want to hear! That’s the only way I can really prove that we’re better than you mere humans!”
From far away, Flum can faintly hear the sounds of immense powers clashing.
Gadio-san will be fine --- repressing the urge to go back and check on him, she keeps on moving forward.
Her destination is the West Quarter church.
The only place that would welcome Dane with open arms would be there --- and at this time of night everyone should be sleeping away peacefully, meaning it’s likely abandoned. Whether he’s trying to hide or meet up with someone, that’s the most likely place for him to be.
“Leave me alone already!”
Crushing the eyes in her path, she keeps moving forwards.
If she thinks about it she’s already quite tired. Looking for Milkit, the fight with Dane’s ‘men’, using so many Cavalier Arts and now all her running have begun to take their toll on her to the point where she’s surprised she’s able to keep on running.
If she hadn’t reunited with Gadio, Eterna, and Otilier --- if she hadn’t heard that Sara had survived the eyes and that Milkit was unharmed, she probably wouldn’t be able to do this.
She might’ve given up long ago.
But because she did meet them again, because she knows they’ll be okay, she’s full of energy and ready for her final fight with Dane.
Flum pushes open the huge wooden doors of the main hall without hesitation. The inside of the hall is dim, and the massive statue in the depths of the room said to represent Origin seems to glare at her.
Countless pews line the hall but only one is occupied --- the frontmost pew has a man sitting on it, his legs crossed arrogantly.
She closes the heavy doors behind her, hoping to buy even a little time from the eyes, then draws her weapon and approaches him.
Silencing her footsteps doesn’t even cross her mind.
Dane already knows she’s there.
When she’s made her way halfway up the carpet covering the central aisle, he starts talking without turning to face her.
“I knew you’d come here. I figured you’d be just persistent enough to make it all the way here --- call it learning from experience, if you will. I’ve been in the adventuring game long enough to know how to listen to my instincts.”
The tone in his voice is the same as it’s always been --- a voice that seems to rub her the wrong way with every word, a voice as deep and unpleasant as the depths of his soul.
Flum doesn’t feel like listening to him right now. As soon as she’s close enough she’ll remove his head right from his shoulders.
The eyes haven’t made it inside yet, but it’s surely only a matter of time. Before then she hopes to finish it all --- even if she knows it won’t be so easy.
Her opponent, after all, is “The (No Longer) Daring Dastard,” Dane Finneas.
“I must admit, though, I never expected you to arrive before my owner. That’s quite the failure on my part. Ahh, I could die from the embarrassment --- or maybe I was hoping it would turn out like this all along? I can’t tell anymore, ahaha, I really don’t know.”
Flum continues to approach wordlessly.
“Ah, yes. That Ink brat and the bandaged girl are further inside. Ink made some sort of arrangement with that damnable little vermin Nekt, so she’s unharmed, no worries there. There’s no telling when Ink will fall asleep and turn into that monster again, though --- isn’t that right, Flum-chan?”
In response, Flum swings the Zweihander at Dane’s neck.
He avoids her obvious attack with a forwards somersault, finally turning to face her.
Flum’s eyes burn with bloodlust. Dane’s lips are twisted into a vulgar grin.
They’re worlds apart, the opposites of two extremes --- they’ll never be able to reconcile.
“There’s something different about you now. Did something good happen to you?”
“Sorry to say, but that’s exactly it. It turns out everyone’s alive. Since you just told me that even Ink and Milkit are fine, I’m full of energy and raring to go.”
“Hahh… That’s all good and well, but it hardly matters now.”
He pulls the crossbow off his back, pointing it at her.
“I’m afraid this is where you die, Flum.”
Flum isn’t the least bit intimidated by the razor-sharp tip of the crossbow bolt aimed at her.
“That’s my line, Dane!!”
Spitting caustic words at him, she lunges forwards at him.
Grin widening, Dane pulls the trigger.
The loosed bolt heads straight for her heart. She makes no move to guard, letting it close in before --- “Reversal!” --- sending it right back at him. He tilts his head to the side, avoiding it with ease. A thin red line appears on his cheek as it passes. Feeling the corporeality of his very life through the pain, Dane twists his lips into a disturbed grin.
Flum keeps moving forwards without slowing down, she swings at him powerfully from the right. He nimbly backsteps out of range.
“You’ve got to want it, Flum! Really try to kill me, now!!”
In response to his provocation she bares her teeth, glaring at him with unsuppressed hatred.
Right and wrong --- their gazes, two completely different temperatures, clash in the air between them.
Their fight has only just begun.
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- ‘Ojisan’ literally means ‘uncle’, but can be used to refer to any (typically middle-aged) man. Gadio is maybe a little young (32) for the name, however, so it's also a light insult in this case.