Chapter 99: The Guardian (1)
After pulling Narissa, who was clinging to his back, even closer, Eugene flipped up the hood of his cloak.
He also called on the spirits of the wind to guard his surroundings.
On top of that, he erected his mana shield and even mixed in a few defensive spells.
In response to his preparations, Kristina also cast her own holy spell.
These kinds of spells were actually superior in terms of defense to other magic of the same class.
After checking the range of the barrier that Kristina had cast over them, Eugene told her, “Make sure to stick right behind me.”
“Yes,” Kristina replied without any objections.
Wasn’t he being too reckless But such thoughts didn’t even cross her mind.
When it came to things like this, Kristina wouldn’t argue with Eugene.
As he walked forward, Eugnee placed both hands inside of his cloak, but he didn’t take out any weapons in advance.
Just when he had moved forward a little further with his guard still raised, his highly sharpened senses caught something.
But the moment that it was caught, it escaped.
No… it hadn’t escaped; instead, it was racing even closer.
Eugene was on alert anyway, so his response came immediately.
He pulled a sword out from his cloak and sliced through the air.
The sword broke the moment it collided with something.
Ignoring the shattered metal fragments that had been sent flying, Eugene pulled out his right hand, which was still in his cloak.
The mana that had burst out at the moment of the collision was then absorbed by the Devouring Sword Azphel.
“Kyaaah!” Narissa cried at the sudden explosion.
Eugene stopped carrying Narissa and threw her to the wind spirits, who moved her away from the fight.
Kristina also immediately lifted her wand and covered Narissa in a shield of light.
Now that his body was free of its burden, Eugene charged forwards without any delay.
The figure of the Guardian, who was wearing an old robe, was captured in his sight.
Azphel’s outstretched blade jumped and jerked as it diverted the oncoming attacks.
There was the sound of metal clashing against metal, but Azphel didn’t shatter like the first sword had.
But the Guardian also refused to back down.
Instead of continuing to attack, the Guardian readied his sword as he waited for Eugene’s attack.
Azphel dug a furrow in the ground as Eugene ran forward.
Then the sword struck upward with an explosive burst of mana.
The Guardian’s sword moved to meet the attack.
Before the explosion could engulf the Guardian, the sword he was swinging sliced through the now empty space as the attack was withdrawn.
The Guardian’s voice rang inside of his head.
Without swinging his sword any further, Eugene took a step back.
[That’s the Devouring Sword, Azphel.]
Eugene didn’t respond.
The Guardian looked at Eugene calmly before continuing to speak.
[Since when did the Lionheart clan start protecting the wandering elves]
“Why don’t you show your face first and then speak to me aloud” Eugene said challengingly.
His heart was pounding in anticipation.
Eugene smoothed his expression and placed Azphel back inside his cloak.
As he did so, his lips moved slightly.
“...Ho,” seeing the movements of his lips, the Guardian let out a small exhale.
After staring at Eugene for a few moments, he chuckled with a smile on his face.
[I thought that you resembled him, but it looks like it wasn’t a case of resemblance at all.]
Eugene just shrugged without saying anything in reply.
In response to this silence, the Guardian lowered his sword, then flipped back the hood that was covering his face.
Eugene had swung his sword while hoping that the other party would recognize him from it.
Because of sheer embarrassment, the name of the attack absolutely refused to come to his lips, but the sword blow that struck upwards from below was the fifth move of the Hamel Style — Dragon Burst.
[Are you wandering around as a ghost unable to find eternal rest]
“I feel like the same could be said of you” Eugene replied with a smirk.
Without letting out his voice, Eugene had only moved his slips slightly to mouth out a certain name.
An older elf who could recognize Azphel and possessed such skills.
A ruthless elf who hated Iris and the dark elves and was willing to act on the hatred that he held.
There weren’t many such elves in Eugene’s memory.
His hood lowered, the Guardian that was revealed had dull green hair, a face that was so beautiful it was unclear whether or not the owner was a man or a woman, and a scar across one cheek.
This elf’s name was Signard.
“What’s your purpose here” Signard asked, no longer speaking with his mental voice.
As he slid his sword back into his scabbard, he openly eyed Eugene and Narissa.
Then his gaze moved to Kristina.
He then stared at Kristina for a few moments.
Just like how Eugene had recognized Signard, Signard had recognized that Eugene was Hamel.
In other words, Signard was also familiar with Anise from three hundred years ago.
“...No, isn’t it ridiculous to even ask you that,” Signard muttered to himself as he turned around.
He didn’t tell them to follow him, but Eugene trailed behind Signard without even asking any questions.
“...Is he someone you know” Kristina walked over to his side and asked.
Having had yet to fully comprehend the situation, Narissa was still too terrified to speak.
“If it was someone I knew, would he have attacked me in the first place” Eugene pointed out.
“However, he stopped attacking, didn’t he” Kristina pointed out.
“After seeing our appearances, it looks like he realized that it was a misunderstanding,” Eugene said teasingly as he glanced at Kristina’s face.
“...It also helps that your looks resemble a certain someone.”
Kristina smiled faintly and nodded her head.
That was her only response to his words.
Without asking any further questions, Kristina threw an arm over Narissa’s trembling shoulders with a comforting expression on her face.
As they walked forward, the scenery around them appeared to twist.
They had just gone through a barrier spell so advanced that it was difficult to even detect it from the outside, let alone interfere with it.
Of course, this was nothing to be surprised about.
This was a village where wandering elves gathered together.
Was there a more mouthwatering hunting ground for the slavers and the tribespeople than a place like this Under such circumstances, the fact that its location was not well-known wasn’t just thanks to the existence of the guardian, but also thanks to the spell that protected the village by keeping it in a separate space.
‘It’s a good thing that we brought Narissa,’ Eugene thought to himself.
If they hadn’t had her leading them, they would have been forced to wander through this large forest for quite some time.
“...To think there would be a barrier like this,” Kristina murmured as she looked around in admiration.
Even when they were right in front of the barrier, and now, after they had gone through it, they still felt no sense of incongruity.
Eugene also felt the same way.
In terms of wizardry, Eugene’s level had surpassed the Fifth Circle.
As a general rule, wizards of the Fifth Circle or higher were classified as intermediate wizards.
However, with Eugene’s sensitive mana sense and the knowledge he had obtained from Witch Craft, he wasn’t just at the level of an intermediate wizard.
‘...This isn’t some ordinary barrier,’ Eugene realized.
Eugene tried to understand the barrier from a magical standpoint, but it wasn’t easy for him to do so.
Even when he was walking through the barrier itself, he hadn’t felt any sense of discomfort from it.
The Signard that Eugene could remember wasn’t such an exceptional elf in terms of wizardry.
“...How many elves are in this village” Eugene asked.
“About a hundred,” Signard answered..
At this response, Narissa let out a surprised exclamation.
They could see a few elves staring at them from the houses in the distance.
Their gazes held a mixture of hostility and fear.
“It seems that we need to have a conversation.
What would you like to do” Signard checked with Eugene.
“Kristina, do what you want to kill some time,” Eugene said without looking back at Kristina.
His words came suddenly, but Kristina wasn’t flustered by them.
She nodded slightly, then she turned to look back at the elves with eyes full of interest.
“Don’t do anything rude,” Eugene warned her.
“Please don’t worry about that,” Kristina replied with a bright smile.
Eugene left Kristina and Narissa behind and followed after Signard.
“Aren’t you being a bit too careless” Signard asked.
Eugene scoffed, “What, are you planning on taking the two of them hostage while I’m not with them”
“Would I have any reason to do that”
“Of course not.
So I don’t need to keep my guard up.”
“The elves who live here hate outsiders,” Signard warned him.
“I could tell that even without you saying it.
Their hostility is extremely… pointed.
However it seems that there are only a few elves actually capable of acting on their hostility,” Eugene said as he looked over to the elves.
Although he hadn’t expected there to be a hundred of them, he felt like the only elf that could actually threaten Kristina was Signard.
With a grin, Signard gave a shrug and changed the subject, “About that woman.”
Eugene knew what he was trying to say.
“There’s a resemblance, right”
“It goes a bit beyond just having a resemblance.”
“I was surprised when I first saw her as well.
However, it’s still just a resemblance.”
“She might be deceiving you.”
“Signard, just like how you recognized me, Anise would also have recognized me.
I might not have said anything openly, but I didn’t hide it either.
If she was going to recognize me, she would have recognized me far faster than you did.”
While he was traveling with Kristina, Eugene had drawn his sword a few times.
No, even before that; when he had fought with a sword against Genos in the Black Lion Castle, Eugene had shown no compunctions about using the Hamel Style.
This was not only to gain Genos’s approval, but also to check Kristina’s reaction.
Her eyes at that time had looked a bit strange.
It had bothered him quite a bit, but Kristina still hadn’t brought up Hamel.
If Kristina really was Anise, there was no reason for her to hide herself like this.
“...Well that may be,” Signard muttered in a low voice as he smiled.
He opened a door to an old hut and motioned for Eugene to come on in.
“I never expected to see you again.”
“That goes for me as well,” Eugene agreed with a returned smile as he passed through the door.
The moment that he had entered, Signard’s figure disappeared.
Eugene smirked and bent backwards at the waist.
A swinging elbow brushed past the fabric of his shirt.
Even though he was in an unstable position, Eugene was able to reach out and grab Signard by the collar.
Then he closed the distance between them by pulling Signard close.
“You really have grown up.
You’ve even learnt how to pick a fight,” Eugene praised.
“You’re the one who’s gotten far too young,” Signard said as he bared his teeth in a smile.
After they wrestled like this for a few moments, Signard was the one who first lowered his hands.
Then he took a few steps back and scanned Eugene from top to bottom.
“Your skills may not have rusted, but you’re weaker than you were in your past life,” Signard commented.
“It can’t be helped,” Eugene shrugged.
“This body of mine still hasn’t fully grown.”
“A human’s body….” Signard paused.
“How old are you”
“I’ll be twenty soon,” Eugene revealed.
“...Haha!” Signard burst into cheerful laughter at Eugene’s reply.
Even taking into consideration that you’re a human being, that’s still a young age.
Even so, for you to be as accomplished as you are now… it seems that you haven’t just been leisurely enjoying your reincarnation.”
“If the world wasn’t in the state that it is, I might have been able to enjoy myself leisurely while doing all the things I couldn’t do in my previous life,” Eugene admitted as he pulled out a chair and plopped down.
Signard belatedly noticed, “That body… could it be the body of a descendant of Vermouth”
“Don’t ask me too many questions,” Eugene said with a scowl.
“Even I don’t know enough about my reincarnation to satisfactorily answer all the questions surrounding it.”
“Is that so”
“I died in the castle of the Demon King of Incarceration.
For me… I went straight from my death to being reincarnated.
I didn’t go to heaven or hell… I just… I died, and when I opened my eyes once more… I was a baby.”
Signard sat across from Eugene as he listened to his story.
“I don’t know the full details,” Eugene confessed.
“I was born as one of Vermouth’s descendants, and somehow became the foster-child of the main family.
After growing up like this… well… I eventually found my way here.
You can guess my reason for doing so.”
“…Sienna,” Signard murmured.
Eugene changed the subject, “So what have you been doing with yourself Three hundred years, that isn’t a short length of time, even for an elf.”
“It wasn’t a very fun time either,” Signard said as his lips twisted into a wry smile.
Three hundred years ago, Signard was one of the elven rangers who fought against the Demon Kings.
He fought in Helmuth, which, at that time, was considered the front lines of the war.
Elven rangers, including Signard, roamed through the forests and mountains of Helmuth, combating the armies of demonfolk.
Hamel had met Signard just once in his previous life.
While they were both fighting against the demonfolk forces in Helmuth, Hamel had once conducted a joint operation with the elven rangers.
At that time, Signard was a young elf overflowing with energy who had known Sienna ever since she was a child.
Sienna actually used to call Signard her big brother.
Although Signard was an elf, he didn’t really act like one.
Especially since he could not accept that Sienna was forced to go to such a dangerous battlefield for the sake of the elves.
He had yelled at Sienna several times, trying to get her to return to the forest, and when Sienna refused to listen to him, he even tried to force her to return.
Just when he was about to forcefully overwhelm her objections, Hamel had stepped forward.
Signard was indeed strong, but he wasn’t as strong as Hamel.
—No matter what happens, take care of Sienna.
After he had been beaten up and left crumpled on the floor, Signard — who was covered in blood and dirt — had still spat out some pretty arrogant words even as he gasped for breath.
—Take care of her That chick should probably be stronger than me, though.
That was how they had separated from Signard.
Hamel, Sienna, and Vermouth… the ‘Hero’s party,’ continued onward.
The allied forces, including Signard and the elven rangers, remained behind to prevent the demonfolk armies from crossing the front line.
A few months after that, the dark elf corps led by Iris annihilated a large proportion of the elven rangers.
“After you died, the war ended with Vermouth’s Oath.” Signard continued speaking, “The other elves and I… we returned back to our territory.
We had no choice but to do so.
The peace that we had just barely wrought couldn’t be broken for the sake of our revenge.”
The Oath that was sworn three hundred years ago was at the mercy of the Demon Kings.
Neither the Demon King of Incarceration nor the Demon King of Destruction were in a position where they needed to make such a promise.
Tempest hadn’t said it.
But the final battle that had taken place in the castle of the Demon King of Incarceration was far from an equal battle.
That the battle hadn’t been decided immediately was because Vermouth was there, but if the Demon King of Destruction had joined in as well, even Vermouth wouldn’t have been able to survive and escape from such a situation.
Nevertheless, the Demon King of Incarceration had still sworn such an Oath.
Vermouth, Anise, Sienna, and Molon had all escaped death.
The only one who had died there was Hamel.
No one else had perished.
With that, the war ended.
Vermouth returned to the Kiehl Empire and became a Duke, Molon founded the Ruhr Kingdom in the north, Anise became a Saint in Yuras, and as for Sienna….
“...That girl… she returned to the elven territory and attended the memorial service,” Signard recalled.
“...The memorial service” Eugene repeated.
“The souls of the elves who die ‘outside’ all eventually return to the World Tree,” Signard began to explain.
This was the core tenet of the elven faith.
At the center of the elven domain stood a thousand year old fairy tree.
The elves called this gigantic fairy tree ‘the World Tree’, and they believed that the souls of all deceased elves, including their elven ancestors, resided in that tree.
“With the war over, the elven territory held a memorial service for the victims.
Although Sienna wasn’t born as an elf, she was part of the elven family.
Also… she managed to inflict more ‘revenge’ on the enemy for us than anyone else.”
When the news broke out that Iris and her dark elf corps had annihilated the elven rangers, Sienna had torn at her hair as she cried out in despair.
‘Aaaaah!’ Sienna had screamed until her throat had swollen shut and she wept tears of blood.
Her rage and hatred had caused her mana to run wild, shaking both the heavens and the earth.
Molon had approached Sienna in order to try and calm her down, only to get struck by her magic and get sent flying dozens of kilometers away; Anise had to maintain a barrier with sweat pouring down her face to keep the rampaging magic from swallowing the rest of the party.
Hamel had risked his life in order to calm the out-of-control Sienna.
If Vermouth hadn’t managed to suppress Sienna’s magical power, it wouldn’t have stopped at just risking his life; Hamel would truly have died, torn to pieces.
That was why Eugene hated the dark elves.
The current generations of dark elves might be seen as pitiful, but every time he saw their dark skin, red eyes, and long ears, he recalled the sight of Sienna weeping bitterly.
Holding her in his arms, as his clothes were soaked in her tears, running nose, and blood….
They always reminded him of Sienna crying with such an ugly look on her face.
—I-I-I’ll kill them.
I’ll… I’ll wipe them all out.
The dark elves, and I-I-Iris, and the Demon King of Fury too.
—Don’t try to kill them alone, let’s kill them together.
In the end, they had failed.
They had managed to kill the Demon King of Fury, but they couldn’t kill Iris.
No one there could really have imagined that the Demon King of Fury would sacrifice his own life to help Iris and Oberon escape, and that went for Sienna as well.
—I shouldn’t have let her go—
—I said, don’t apologize, you son of a bitch.
It’s not like you let her go because you wanted to let her go.
Hamel had gone to her with his head bowed and apologized, but Sienna had yelled at him and kicked him in the shin.
They hadn’t managed to kill Iris, but they had still successfully killed the Demon King of Fury.
Sienna just had to be satisfied with that.
After a pause, Eugene asked, “...What happened after that”
“Sienna left for Aroth and I stayed in the elven domain,” said Signard.
“But aren’t you here now” Eugene pointed out in confusion.
“That’s because three hundred years is a long time,” Signard said with a wry twist of his lips.
“I… I still wanted to get my revenge somehow.
So I left the forest and wandered the world.
I was hoping to kill that damned dark elf.”
“...It looks like you didn’t ask Sienna for help,” Eugene noted.
“That’s because that kid is an incomparably larger figure than I am,” Signard explained.
“I might just be one elf on a crusade, but if Sienna were to make a move… the peace obtained through the Oath may have been shattered.”
He hadn’t managed to kill Iris.
The dark elf was still alive, and leading the Fury Independence Army.
She was claiming to be the legitimate heir of the Demon King of Fury while campaigning to become the next Demon King.
Signard had failed in getting his revenge.
“...I’ve heard that Sienna returned to the elven territory and went into seclusion,” Eugene mentioned.
Signard denied it.
“That’s just a rumor.”
“Could it be that you don’t trust me” Eugene raised a brow.
“Hamel.” Signard snorted.
“Since when were we close enough for there to be unconditional trust between us”
Well, that was a good point.
Eugene smirked and nodded.
“I might have accepted that you’re Hamel, but I still can’t fully trust you.
You… you died in the castle of the Demon King of Incarceration three hundred years ago.
Even if you were miraculously reincarnated, that still doesn’t give me enough to believe that you’re free from any bad intentions.”
“I understand where you’re coming from.
I also had a lot of distressing thoughts at first.
Was I really Hamel Why was I reincarnated Since I’ve been reincarnated, just what in the world am I meant to do If my reincarnation was all part of someone’s plan, doesn’t that mean that whatever I do now that I have been reincarnated is all part of me dancing as someone’s marionette” Eugene chuckled as he reached a hand into his cloak.
“However, Signard, it’s pointless for me to worry about such things.
I am Hamel.
As long as I am certain of that, that is enough for me.
What did I want in my previous life as Hamel I wanted to kill all of the Demon Kings.
And the current me I still want the same thing.
I am going to kill all the Demon Kings.
The Demon King of Incarceration and the Demon King of Destruction will die at my hands.
I’ll also exterminate all the demonfolk who are kicking up a fuss in Helmuth.”
“...,” Signard was struck silent.
“The problem is this.
It’s clear what I want, but getting it done is too difficult.
Or at least it’s too difficult for me right now,” Eugene muttered.
“It’s not just difficult, it’s impossible,” Signard retorted.
“No, it isn’t impossible,” Eugene denied as he rose from the chair.
He glared at Signard without pulling his hand out of his cloak.
“It’s so difficult that it might be infinitely close to impossible, but it’s not impossible.
I can do it.
I will definitely do it.”
“...,” Signard was silent.
Eugene pressed him, “Signard.
I need to meet with Sienna.”
“...She’s dead,” Signard responded in a quiet voice, only for Eugene to burst into laughter.
“Don’t spout such bull**,” Eugene cursed as he pulled out the leaf of the world tree that had been stored within his cape.
Upon seeing it, Signard’s eyes shook wildly.
“If someone told me that Sienna died, I wouldn’t believe it until I personally set my eyes on her corpse.
So if you want to convince me that she is dead, bring me her body.
Or at least lead me to where her body is being kept,” Eugene demanded.
Eugene’s other hand had yet to emerge from inside of his cloak.
Signard couldn’t feel any killing intent coming from Eugene, but he knew that Eugene would still be able to swing a sword at him even without the intent to kill.
“Unlike in my previous life, I've learned quite a bit of magic,” Eugene revealed.
The barrier around this village was something that no ordinary wizard could even begin to imitate.
“If you want to convince me that she’s dead, then you’ll first need to explain to me about this village’s barrier.
This barrier, the one who made it was Sienna, wasn’t it” Eugene asked.
Signard leto ut a long sigh before getting up,
What would you do if I refuse to trust you right until the very end and refuse to tell you anything” Signard proposed.
“Then I’ll do what I did to you three hundred years ago,” Eugene answered him.
“I’ll beat the ** out of you until you’re on the verge of death, and make it so that you have no choice but to speak, even if you don’t want to.”
“The way you are now, that’s impossible.”
“It’s not impossible.”
The flames of the White Flame Formula engulfed Eugene’s body.
“When compared to the things that I want to accomplish, it’s not even on the same order of magnitude,” Eugene boasted.
Could he win if he fought with Signard If he used everything that he had, the Moonlight Sword, the Devouring Sword, the Dragon Spear, the Thunderbolt, the Storm Sword, and the Holy Sword, then yes.
Since he had enough weapons, if he uses Ignition from the very start, then he would definitely win.
“Is that so…” Signard accepted his claim with a chuckle and looked down at the leaf of the world tree.
Eventually, he said to Eugene, “...Follow me.”