OmaeGotoki: Volume 2 013 - Feelings, A Single Dropful
Flum swings the Zweihander as hard as she can.
FWOOSH --- CRACK!!
Dane dodges the strike meant for his neck with a nimble step backwards. Her sword crashes into the wooden floor, sending splinters flying.
She missed this time, but his back is to the wall now. There’s nowhere left for him to run. Even if he tried to attack back, he doesn’t have the room to aim his crossbow. He’d have to throw away the crossbow and rely on the dagger at his waist, and she won’t give him the time for that.
This is the end! --- without even considering he might have some trick up his sleeve, she takes a large step forward.
Dane raises his buckler to the sky, pulling one of the various wires on the inside. A hook shoots out of the boss, and as its inner mechanism spins into action he’s carried swiftly through the air as if flying.
Clinging to the wall far above her, Dane pulls the trigger and fires a single bolt down at her.
“You think just one will be enough to---”
Flum raises her sword, ready to swat it out of the air.
There’s no way Dane would just fire an ordinary bolt, however.
“You’re too naive! Spread!!”
His magic activates --- the bolt explodes into flames in midair, bursting into countless balls of flame that rain down on her.
I can’t block this --- Flum jumps to the side, rolling as she hits the ground.
Dane continues to fire down at her.
“Spread, Spread, Spread! Hahahaha, I don’t care what sort of equipment you have, I’m stronger than you’ll ever be! There’s no way a dropout-Chosen-turned-slave could ever kill me!!”
Flum desperately runs throughout the hall as fireballs continue to rain down on her. A few graze her shoulders, singing her clothes and burning away her flesh. Her wounds heal themselves moments later, but the pain causes her face to twist in pain.
At that Dane’s attacks slow down slightly --- and she doesn’t miss her opening.
Without even bothering to cement her stance, she swings her sword and unleashes Cavalier Arts: Prana Shaker.
The crescent-shaped blade of energy sails straight at him. Pulling another wire, the hook disconnects itself from the wall and he drops toward the ground.
“I’m not about to stop at one shot, either!”
Eyes on his landing point, she uses Prana Shaker again.
“Kuhaha, you’re a conceited fool if you think you can beat me with raw strength!”
He fires a bolt at the wave of prana.
Dane’s crossbow bolt explodes as they collide, each nullifying the other. White smoke billows out from the impact point.
Flum dashes straight through the smoke, swinging at Dane but only managing to graze him.
“Whoops, I’d rather not fight close-quarters!”
He fires the grappling hook from his buckler once more, soaring up and away. As he moves he turns to fire a spray of arrows back at her.
“Ahahahahahahahahahaha!! Eat this! Eat it, be blown apart, suffer and die!!”
“You never quit, do you!?”
As balls of fire continue to pound the ground around Flum the smoke and debris grow thicker in the air, making it harder and harder to see. Barely visible beyond the smokescreen, Dane fires a Burst bolt at her.
She’s been waiting for that. Reading its speed and trajectory, she raises her sword to block it.
Dane laughs --- Burst is far too strong to block with a sword.
“Yes, accept your fate like a good little slave!!”
The bolt explodes as soon as it hits Flum’s sword --- or at least, it would normally.
It instead bounces off, flying straight back towards Dane.
He certainly wasn’t expecting her to be able to reflect a Burst bolt. Frantically, he disengages the hook, grappling again to a different wall before hitting the ground.
The place where he was just a split second before explodes violently with enough force to punch a large hole clean through the wall to the outside.
“Oho, you’re not half bad. I see now. This is what a Rare Attribute --- what Reversal can do, is it?”
Flum ignores him as he stops to talk, instead casting Scan on him and his equipment.
Dane Finneas Attribute : Fire Strength : 802 Magic : 1,262 Stamina : 710 Agility : 1,454 Intuition : 741
His base stat total is 2,669, putting him at the lower end of B-Rank. Factoring in his equipment, however, his stat total is raised to 4,972, the upper end of B-Rank --- his Magic alone is increased by 1,000, explaining how his magic is so powerful.
Aside from his automatic-reload crossbow, all of his equipment is Legendary, the tier immediately below Epic. Some of Flum’s equipment is Epic, but it’s only because they’re cursed that she was able to get her hands on them. The Arrogant Leather Armour, The Buckler of Intelligence, The Ambitious Iron Dagger --- all of them have powerful enchantments on them. A normal A-Rank adventurer would be hard-pressed to gather equipment like this.
“You’re using Scan, aren’t you? I hope you realize that won’t change anything.”
“That equipment… is it really yours?”
“Of course! My comrades were kind enough to give them to me; they’re indisputably mine. You could say they’re proof of our bond.”
“Says the asshole who sold those bonds and even his soul to the Church.”
Dane snorts at her indignantly.
“You seem absolutely determined to make me out as some sort of irredeemable villain, but let me ask you this: Would you really value petty bonds over your own life? Are you really that naive? Could you look reality in the face and honestly say you would!? Not even you could take your fake heroism that far!!”
“If there are dozens of lives at stake then yeah, I’d choose my friends.”
Thinking of Milkit’s smiling face, there’s no hesitation in her voice. If by living she’d put her at risk, then Flum wouldn’t hesitate to end her own life.
“Like hell you would!! You’re lying, LYING!!!”
It’s because he can tell she’s telling the truth that he’s so irritated.
“In the end you’re just a stupid little brat who knows NOTHING about the real world! Haha, why do I have to put up with this…!?”
To Flum’s ears, Dane’s words are attacking nobody but himself. He joined the Church not because he wanted to but because he was powerless to resist. Even now he’s deriding himself, lashing out at himself.
“Just imagine it! Spending countless long years building yourself up, only to have it all taken away from you in an instant by an eight-year-old brat --- it’s laughable, isn’t it? You’d laugh, wouldn’t you!?”
He can’t stop talking about himself.
Maybe he wants someone to sympathize with him so badly he can’t stop himself.
Now that most of his subordinates have betrayed him and the rest of them are gone, he doesn’t even have anyone he can talk to now.
“I saw it all! Absolute power!! A power so strong that influence and money become useless and the very laws of nature are bent like twigs!!”
All of his former glory, everything he once had flashes before his eyes.
Now, however, he answers to an eight-year-old, told he’d be swallowed up eventually, and made the Church’s servant.
A mere pawn.
There’s nothing left of his pride now.
Flum responds with cold words to Dane as he grows drunk on his own tragedy.
“I hope you don’t think I care.”
All emotion disappears from Dane’s face in an instant.
“Ha… haha… hahahaha…!”
He simply laughs with his voice alone, shoulders trembling.
Emotion finally seems to return to his features. The blood vessel on his temples practically burst and his face turns bright red.
“Ha… hahaha… like I’d ever…. Like I’d ever accept pity from YOOOOOUU!!”
He howls, his grief echoing throughout the hall.
Flum understands now.
Dane started talking about himself regardless of the fact that she’s an enemy precisely because she’s a woman. In the face of all the unfairness he’s faced he wants someone, anyone, not to show him sympathy but empathy.
He wants someone to understand what he’s been through and comfort him.
He thought that Flum, having gone through something similar herself, might understand.
What an idiot.
There’s no way she’d participate in such a farce now, of all times.
“I don’t care about the Spiral Children, Origin, or the Church!! I didn’t want any of this!! Damn, damn, damn it alllllll!!!”
Dane prattles on as if mad.
There’s nothing left.
There’s no going back.
Unable to stand the loss, he keeps on screaming.
“I’m the king of the West Quarter!! The day I was thrown into the slums I swore I’d have my revenge on the world!! I climbed out of that hellhole with my own hands and own intellect, my own charisma!! You understand what that’s like, don’t you!? But now I don’t even have the strength left to kill you properly!!”
Eyes start to appear in the hole left by his Burst bolt. The sight of them all tumbling and slipping over each other, desperate to enter the building first causes a chill to run down her spine.
“What’re you trying to say?”
After quickly looking at the wall, she refocuses on Dane. The eyes have also started to slither through the walls of the building itself. Some of them have made it halfway through already, staring at her as though the building itself grew eyes.
It’s a harrowing sight, to say the least.
It’s only a matter of time now until the hall is filled with eyes.
What if that’s the real reason Dane’s telling me all this?
She dismisses the thought almost immediately.
There’s no way he’s faking that miserable expression.
If it’s an act, he must be one of the best actors in the world. He’d be able to not only live on that performance but would be famous across the kingdom, even if he wouldn’t be ‘king of the West Quarter.’
“What? I wish I knew…. Haha, hahaha, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
His hoarse voice reverberates throughout the hall.
“Haha… ha, ahh… ah.”
His laughter quickly dies out, and slumping his shoulders his arms hang loosely by his sides.
“...Not even I know now. Ahh, I don’t know anything. What do I want? I lost to a brat, pleaded for my life, got betrayed, threw away everyone who didn’t betray me, and now I’ve got food, clothing, and a place to live from the Church to live proper, normal life… Haha, what’ve I become? This is boring! The last thing I ever wanted, the only ending I can’t accept! Ahh, so boring, my life from here on out’s going to be so, sooo, soooooo boooooring!!”
He’s only whining now. He doesn’t even know who he’s talking to now.
“Ahahahaha! Haha, aaaaaaaahh… aa…… Flum… Those guys I’ve always fooled around with… they’re dead, aren’t they?”
He’s probably asking about the adventurers that attacked Flum just a short while earlier.
She responds monotonously.
“I think you mean the guys you’ve been committing crimes with. Yeah, they’re all dead --- but they were like that before I even laid a hand on any of them.”
“I see… aha, I get it…”
Dane mutters weakly to himself, the light disappearing from his eyes and his expression dying.
“...No, wait a moment. You make it sound like they were already dead… Are you trying to say I killed them? You did that on purpose, didn’t you? Haha, do you really want to die that badly!?”
Mouth hardening into a firm line, he points his crossbow at Flum with a dead expression.
This is his worst ending.
Even if he’s alive, he’s practically dead.
He followed the path he was on to its conclusion --- maybe, just maybe if Gadio didn’t show up when he did Flum would’ve fallen to the same place, only a hair’s width apart.
Maybe she does have grounds to sympathize with him.
She can’t bring herself to understand him all the same. There’s still an insurmountable obstacle keeping the two apart.
“I think I said something similar before, Dane, but…”
He can’t pull the trigger of his crossbow as he is now. His expression is rich with dependance, maybe even expectation.
She laughs at him.
“Stop trying to rely on me. You make me sick.”
He freezes up.
Not only an eight-year-old brat but now even a sixteen-year-old girl has managed to see right through him. She shattered his pride and had the nerve to stomp on the remains.
Everything that makes up Dane Finneas is now meaningless.
“Me… depend on you…? Ah… aah… n-no, no…”
He wants to deny it.
“Ahh… you’re right? T-That, that’s… aaaaaaah…. Aaaaahh, uwaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!”
His identity fractures and breaks in that moment.
As if rejecting reality itself, he cries out, hair flying wildly, and pulls the trigger without hesitation.
The bolt doesn’t even have any magic infused in it. Without even needing to dodge it misses Flum by a large margin.
“I’ll kill you!”
He pulls the trigger. She doesn’t move. He doesn’t hit.
“I’ll kill you!!”
He still can’t hit.
“I’ll fucking kill you!!”
His hands are shaking so badly that he can’t fix his sights on her, his attacks still can’t reach her. Steadying his aim with his free hand, he fires a bolt aimed right for her forehead.
“Just die… Because of you, I… I…!!”
He lashes out with meaningless anger. Casually deflecting his attack, she starts to close in on him.
The threat to his life snapping him out of his trance somewhat, he hurriedly infuses his next bolt.
As she runs Flum holds her blade low to the ground, and after saturating her blade with prana she slashes upwards, releasing Prana Storm.
The mass of prana engulfs and neutralizes the Spread bolt and rips up floorboards as it closes in on him.
He raises his arm to shield his face from the prana and Flum speeds up. She brings the Zweihander crashing down on him.
Dane raises his crossbow to block the blow, but unable to take the blow completely it flies back and out of his hands. Giving up on it, he attempts to grapple away to safety.
Flum quickly draws out more prana.
Her breathing grows ragged. Using so many Cavalier Arts has really started to take its toll on her stamina, but she’s not so tired that she can’t squeeze out another attack or two.
“You’re not getting away this time!!”
She stabs her sword straight forward despite how heavy it feels in her hands. Her Prana Sting hits the cable supporting him, breaking it as it pulls him away.
Suddenly cut loose, he starts to fall back down to the ground. If he uses the Fire Attribute magic Exfloat he’ll be able to create a burst of hot air strong enough to break his fall --- no, if he does that he’ll slow down enough that he’ll be easy prey for the Zweihander. Instead he extends his hand towards Flum.
He casts some low-level magic to buy him some time first. Flum, however, has become so used to the speed of the crossbow bolts that the sphere of fire seems to be moving in slow motion.
She ducks down to avoid it, but while she’s distracted Dane lands without difficulty and turns his back on her to run for the church’s front doors.
He’s not trying to run, though --- the front of the church is already covered in eyes. They part to avoid him, focused only on her.
She’ll have to rely on Cavalier Arts again to get through them. She reaffirms her grip on the Zweihander, not slowing down. When she’s almost right on top of the eyes, she swings in a wide horizontal swipe, tearing a rift in the air itself.
Her sword creates a small breeze as she swings it, but a moment later ---
A storm of prana copies her movements with violent force. The eyes all around her burst like tiny water balloons and countless fine blades hack at Dane as he tries to cover himself with his hands.
He successfully blocks his vitals with his buckler, but he can’t protect everywhere. His face twists with pain.
Even after her attack Flum doesn’t stop --- if anything she speeds up, closing in on Dane enough that he’s within striking distance.
“Dammit, not yet! I can’t die here!!”
He takes the blow with his buckler and attempts to deflect it, but unable to stifle the heavy blow completely he’s knocked awkwardly to the side.
Then, Flum’s ‘freezing’ enchantment activates.
His buckler quickly freezes over, sealing off all the wires and gimmicks within it.
The buckler had not only a grappling hook but a hidden catch for shooting a poison needle. Since he only has one shot he was saving it for an emergency, but now that the mechanism has frozen over he can’t use it at all.
Seeing that Dane is all but cornered, she keeps up the offensive.
“This is it!”
Her next strike shatters the ice and the rest of the buckler with it. Unable to guard any further, Dane tumbles out of the way of her follow-up attacks.
“I won’t let you get away! Right here and now! I’ll end you!!”
Her vigourous chain of attacks hits him in the shoulder, leg, and cheek.
He desperately fires magic at her in response. She leans out of the way, but it keeps going until it hits the ceiling and explodes.
A low, deep roar shakes the room.
She reflexively looks up to see countless chunks of rubble start to rain down from the ceiling. A large splinter of wood nearly misses her as she steps back.
“Heheheh, like it? I thought I should put the environment to slightly better use!”
“Learn when to give up, will you!?”
“This is how I’ve stayed alive as long as I have! No matter how pitiful I am, in the end I WILL survive!”
Saying so, he casts another Fireball at her feet. It hits, bursts --- and triggers a Fire Attribute magic trap hidden beneath the floor, causing a large explosion.
She tries to jump to the side, but her trailing leg is caught in the blast and she’s sent flying. When she lands, she looks up to find that her arm happened to fall onto an eye.
She tries to pull back and jump away, but she’s too late. With a horrible, invasive feeling it slips into her left arm. A new arm sprouts out of her old one, and she suddenly finds herself unable to control it effectively.
Dane, spotting an opening, casts another Fireball at her.
She can’t dodge it in time --- so instead she ‘catches’ it with her bare left arm. Her flesh explodes away and scatters, an intense burning pain assaulting her senses. This way, at least, she’ll be back to normal when she’s done regenerating.
“Tch, you impudent little…!”
“You’re the last person I want to hear that from!!”
She runs at him again, arm still tingling with pain as it regenerates.
Despite being covered in injuries himself he starts running --- towards where his crossbow fell to the ground some time earlier. Changing her trajectory, she runs for the same spot as him.
They leap for it at the same time --- the first one to touch it is Flum. She grabs it and throws it further away, out of his reach. Dane desperately springs at her instead.
“Hyaha, save such girly cries for off the battlefield!!”
He pins her down from above, grabbing both her wrists to prevent her from moving.
“Haa… Haa… Hehe, I’d never try to get YOU of all people to pity me…!”
“All I did was say it as it is.”
“Now that I think about it, it’s all you… Everything went sideways as soon as you showed up in the guild…! Everything is all YOUR fault…!!”
It’s at the very least not her fault that he picked a fight with the Church, but he couldn’t care less about logic now.
He’ll reject everything she is just like she has to him, and he’ll rather enjoy what happens next.
“Hehehe, look, all those cute little eyes are all around us now. Even if I don’t kill you now, they will…!”
Flum tries to break free, but Dane’s Strength is far higher than her own.
She lets out a long, controlled breath.
Mistaking it for a sigh of surrender, Dane’s face contorts into a mad grin, but---
Flum’s words change his expression in a heartbeat.
With a dull snap, Dane’s wrist ‘reverses’ its direction, twisting upwards at an unnatural angle.
He springs up and off of her, screaming and clutching his hand. Free from his grip, Flum jumps to her feet, kicks him in the gut to knock him away and brings the Zweihander down on his head. He rolls away in an attempt to dodge her, but the blade bites into his shoulder as he flees.
“Gh… ghaaaaaaaagh!! You damn biiiiiiitch!!”
His anger dulls his movements and numbs his senses.
He presses his wrist against the wall, forcefully relocating it. His grip has weakened significantly now, but it’s not enough to stop him from drawing the dagger at his waist.
“Hagh… Flum… Fluuuum…!”
Dane lowers his stance and lunges at her like a wild animal. She prepares herself to accept his attack, but noticing the movements of the eyes near her feet she jumps backwards instead.
“The eyes are getting faster!?”
Dane slips through her guard while she’s distracted. She hurriedly tries to guard with the Zweihander, but he’s faster, the adrenaline pumping through his veins accelerating his every move.
He drives the blade into her abdomen, then twisting his hand he ruptures her internal organs.
Now that he’s lost everything else, there’s no point in keeping his humanity --- he throws it away, determined to kill her no matter what.
Letting go of the Zweihander she grabs him, shoving him away and exposing his bloodstained silver blade to the open air.
It’s still not enough to stop him, however.
Unleashing a strangely bestial cry, he leaps at her again. She responds with a quick reverse-roundhouse kick to the gut.
He clutches his gut in pain. Without letting up, she closes in on him, grabs a handful of his hair and forces his face down into her knee-kick. He tumbles to the ground, and as he attempts to stand again with trembling hands she kicks him again in the head.
His brain rattles in his skull, his consciousness thinning. As he fumbles to reclaim his bearings Flum draws the Zweihander once more.
He leaps at her from all fours, however, swinging at her and tearing open her shirt. He stabs again, but this time she catches the blade in her left forearm. With a raw scraping sensation the blade is embedded deep into her ulna.
At their feet, the eyes continue to draw closer.
I can’t let this go on much longer… I’ve got to end this somehow!!
Knife still embedded in her left arm, she slugs him in the face with her right.
It’s a critical hit; any normal human would be knocked backwards by the blow.
Dane’s already surpassed his physical and mental limits, however; he doesn’t even flinch, as though he didn’t even feel it. He glares at her, pulls the dagger out of her arm and stabs again, this time right at her heart.
“YOU’RE DEAD, FLUUUUUUUUUMM!!”
His cry of victory resounds.
They’re too close for Flum to swing the Zweihander. On top of that they’re surrounded by eyes and there’s no telling if he has more traps set somewhere. She’s at an overwhelming disadvantage.
That’s why, that precisely is why neither Dane nor Flum could possibly predict what happens then.
--- The white spheres roll forwards.
Two of them climb up to the shoulders, slip into the flesh and become two new arms.
Dane stops and stares down at his new arms in shock.
Why me!? They’re supposed to be on MY side!! Why aren’t they attacking HER!?
He’s struck speechless.
“Ahhh… so that’s it…”
Flum, on the other hand, understands why.
The eyes are born from Origin’s power when it takes control of Ink’s body --- but in the end they’re still born from her.
When she’d encountered Dane and his men that day on her way back from the Central Quarter church, a single eye had been watching her. If Flum had attacked him then and there, she never would’ve lived to receive Gadio’s aid, let alone Eterna’s or Otilier’s.
It’s thanks to that Flum is alive now.
That warning back then saved her life --- and it goes without saying that Ink was the one who warned her.
This is her will.
A will strong enough to overpower even the gods, a desperate subconscious resistance to protect Flum --- no, the place Ink calls home.
Dane’s arms multiply.
He can only look on in confusion.
Unable to properly control his arms now, the hand holding the dagger refuses to thrust at Flum’s chest.
The next instant, Flum shoves him away, sending him stumbling backwards.
She raises the Zweihander, but her body’s at its limit --- she can barely put any strength into her arms now, and her hands are trembling uncontrollably.
That’s why she pours power into her blade --- just like she did with the Origin Core, she bundles all the strength she can muster into one, and ---
The blade hits him square in the middle of his chest, but isn’t enough to cut him in half or even cut to the bone.
She doesn’t have even that much strength left in her.
All she can muster is a simple flesh wound.
But magic --- she still has plenty of magic left.
“S-Stop… agh, gah, gh, aaaaaaaaaaagh!”
Starting from the wound his flesh starts to peel back. Just when his bones are visible even they start peeling back and away, exposing all his vital organs to the open air.
“Kill me, please, don’t leave me… augh, giiiiiigh…!!”
If she had to name the technique --- Cavalier Arts Expansion: Prana Shaker Reversal, a literal instant-kill move that turns the target’s body inside-out. That being said, it likely only worked so well because she weakened him first.
“Gyagh, agh… agyaaaaagh…!!”
As his neck starts to peel back and reverse, he loses the ability to even scream. His vocal cords, exposed, continue to vibrate desperately to no avail.
“...Do all you can to suffer, now, Dane.”
Spitting out those cold words a short distance away, she turns her back on the dying Dane and avoids the eyes as she heads further into the church where Milkit and Ink supposedly are being kept.
Dane, left alone in the hall, finally finishes his hideous transformation. His brain and organs are now exposed, but they’re still completely undamaged.
His heart continues to beat, his organs continuing to keep him alive for a while yet.
In the depths of suffering beyond human comprehension, Dane is denied even the freedom to die of his own will.
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