Guess I’m still quite in shape for an old, retired mercenary like me. Within a split second, I managed to unsheathe my short-sword and lunge at Gideon.
Even if that strike makes contact, I doubt that it would even have done anything more than a skin-deep wound. Then, I would be able to warn him about the dangers of letting his guard down.
What I didn’t expect is that, not only did he manage to block my surprise attack with the Greataxe that I just passed to him, but he also positioned the block as a skillful set-up for a smooth counter-attack!
If I had been just half a second too slow in reacting, then I’ll be bisected into half by now.
What’s going on here? This isn’t just a boy who just received a weapon; every fiber of my being screams of that being a master of his own weapon! Is this what people call natural talent?
I can’t believe my eyes, and my own senses. Just by wielding a Greataxe, Gideon almost feels like an entirely different entity. The way he posture himself, his stance, and despite the length of the weapon he’s holding onto, it didn’t feel awkward at all. In fact, it looks…masterful.
To be honest, standing in his presence is causing me to feel suffocated. Think about it; a greenhorn, who had only learned the basic arts of combat and is holding onto a weapon for the first time, is making an experienced mercenary like me who had crawled through blood and iron, feel fear?
That’s beyond natural talent now, isn’t it? It is as though he’s being favored by the gods themselves!
With that single exchange, I knew that I have already lost the fight. No matter what tricks I pull, my experience tells me that he’ll be able to block and counter any of them with little difficulty.
To think that I have played a part in training such a genius; within less than a few short months, he has turned from a snot-nosed brat without any skills other than brute strength, to a brilliant fighter of considerable skill.
If I have any other regrets, it would be that I wasn’t strong enough to be his match; to temper him and help him reach greater heights. For me to train him is akin to using sand-paper to forge a knife out of precious metals.
“Oops, I didn’t mean…it was by reflex, are you alright Bratt?” (Gideon)
“…Huh? Oh yeah, I’m fine. That was an excellent counter-attack; I was nearly caught in it.”
“Well, I still need plenty of practice though, I feel like I can do much better than this.” (Gideon)
“Well, let’s resume the spar then, but let’s go slow shall we? I…don’t feel like dying in the prime of my life.”
“What do you mean by the prime of your life? You look more like a washed-out old dude, with that scruffy beard on!” (Gideon)
“Alright that’s it; no one talks about my beard like that, I’m gonna make you take that back!”
With a bittersweet feeling in my heart, we resumed combat, until eventually I was the one who fell on my back this time.
The spar lasted for over an hour. Within that period of time, every swing of the Greataxe made my next swing sharper and faster; every single exchange made my reaction speed improve, slowly but gradually.
As expected, fighting with a weapon of choice and barehanded is completely different! With this, I feel as if I’ve regained a good portion of my previous combat prowess.
Also, my small stature combined with overwhelming strength means that I can swing the Greataxe at a fast enough speed to overwhelm even experienced combatants like Bratt, unlike my past Ogre self where every swing have to travel a large distance before reaching the targeted area due to my large bulk and height.
Though, if I was at my prime, I would have dispatched Bratt with a single sweep; he wouldn’t even have the time to dodge my attack. This is how far behind I am currently from my past self.
Finally, after an hour of sparring, I finally managed to disarm Bratt, knocking him down onto the floor with the pole-end of the Greataxe. The instant the axe-head was swung down to just barely the skin of Bratt’s neck, the sparring session ended.
“To think that you’ve become so strong with just a weapon, I’m impressed beyond words. This is truly, my loss.” (Bratt)
“If it isn’t for you Bratt, I might have been still doing normal training and have yet to improve much at all. Thanks for your help.” (Gideon)
“Wahaha, you underestimate your own capabilities! With this, you are now to me, officially an adult. Stand proud of yourself, Gideon; with that strength of yours, as long as you don’t get careless, not many people would stand a chance against you.” (Bratt)
“Speaking of which…how strong are you compared to the others?”
“Me, well…I’m not sure how to rank myself, but I’m only at best slightly above average, I guess?”
Slightly above average, huh? Looks like it’s going to be awhile before I can match up to any true powerhouses then. Without at least the strength to defeat them, I will never be able to exact my vengeance.
“Don’t worry about it too much! You’re still young; with your natural talent, after a few battles you’ll be able to grow at an absurd rate, won’t you?” (Bratt)
“I sure hope so.” (Gideon)
“So, you have finally surpassed me after all. I knew this day would come eventually, but I thought you’ll take at least a whole year and more. Guess I’m really getting old…” (Bratt)
“Still young enough to put up a good, decent fight though.”
“Oh, Gideon, you sure have a way with words! It looks like the world has gained another strong fighter against the demon forces!” (Bratt)
With that very sentence, I froze on the very spot I stood on, my mind running in full speed.
That’s right, there’s something I didn’t really consider. As of now, I’m to be considered neither a human nor a demon. After all, who can say what I really am?
There’s no doubt that my loyalty right now is towards the demon continent. After all, I was raised there and had spent most of my life living there. But on the other hand, after living as a human for a period of time, I’ve found that humans aren’t as bad of a race as I initially thought of them to be.
Should I have completed my revenge and announce my true identity to the entire world, then…what next? What kind of situation would I be in? What can I possibly do after then?
Serve as the [Hero] of humans and betray the land that I was born in?
Or should I lead the forces of the Six Pillars and subjugate the human lands?
Should I be considering all this right now? Or should I just let the waves take me whenever I go?
Bratt was a good starting point as well as a good teacher. But now, our situation is reversed; I can now easily defeat him during spars even without him laying a scratch on me anymore.
With my improved toughness from my constant trainings, even if I purposely pushed myself forward to meet his attack, it’ll at best leave me with a small flesh wound; whereas if I boosted my attack speed with [Burst Stream], I’ll definitely be able to slice through him diagonally without him even having the time to dodge the attack.
Hence, I spend most of my time training with my Greataxe, since I’m still feeling a little rusty. Also, I would secretly go down into the forest at times to test my strength on a battle against wild monsters.
My first kill was, ironically, a Hind Bear. I allowed it to take the first strike and as expected, not even a single scratch was dealt on my body. A swift uppercut with my Greataxe easily decapitated the Hind Bear with a clean strike.
With this, it should be considered a form of revenge for the Gideon of the past, who was fatally injured by another Hind Bear.
Then, yet another two months have nearly passed. After today, I’ll finally be fourteen years old, where I’ll be considered a proper adult in the village. Then, I can leave the village and set out on my journey.
To be honest, I had stray thoughts of putting everything down and settling down in the village at times, especially when I notice the sad smile that Lilithia would occasionally have on her face.
However, I would shake those thoughts away immediately. If I did, who would take revenge for the Ogres? If I did, what would become of me, my meaning of existence, to slay that foul, traitorous being who took my life?
I have to go. I must. I have to get stronger, to improve myself even further, so that I can defeat any obstacle in my path.
Gideon feels different. Ever since he was attacked by the Hind Bear, it was as though that he’s a completely different person.
I mean, he’s the same Gideon that I know and love, but now he has been training himself non-stop for months, and even finding Bratt to practice with him. As his guardian, I’m happy that he’s acting more mature and independent now; yet at the same time, his independence makes me feels like he doesn’t need me anymore.
In fact, the only times I ever see him for a longer period of time are mealtimes, where he’ll show me that cheeky smile of his. It brightens up my day to see his smile, but my mood fades away slowly as I remember, it wouldn’t be long before I couldn’t see that smile anymore…
The boy who was so timid before is now such a brave, strong and independent individual. In a sense, that incident would be considered a form of blessing in disguise.
Gideon was always so attached to me, especially when he was just a toddler; following me wherever I went. He was so adorable then…
Every time I see him, I have the urge to hold him down, and plead him not to go; instead, just stay in this village happily where he’ll be safe and sound, instead of risking his life in the unknown lands. Yet, I don’t have the heart to do so.
After all, I have already passed him the item that his parents entrusted me to. The die has already been cast; nothing can stop the fact that he’ll leave this village soon.
All I know is that as long as he’s safe and sound, this place will always be a place for him to rest if he’s ever overwhelmed; and where I’ll always be waiting for him.
“Lilithia, I’m back.” (Gideon)
“Ah, welcome back! Dinner is almost ready, wash up first before you eat!”
“Alright I know I know; you don’t have to keep reminding me, I’m going to be an adult already!” (Gideon)
Yes…tomorrow he’ll be of age already. I can’t tie him down to this village forever.
Perhaps, this is for the best.
As usual, the meal is delicious.
It’s too bad that today will be the last time I’ll be able to eat Lilithia’s home-cooked food for a long time.
I have already finished packing everything I needed to over the past month without Lilithia knowing. Yes, I am going to leave silently, without anyone realizing. Just imagining Lilithia’s expression should she send me off, makes me hesitate about leaving this village.
Good grief, the emotional ties of a human being is very strong instead. Yet, I can’t allow myself to be tied down by something like this; I have to, above all things, take my revenge by killing everyone that’s involved in the Ogre’s destruction.
After I have made sure that Lilithia is sound asleep, I grabbed my bag and silently left the house. After looking back once, I turned my head and walked out of the village, down the hill and into the forest.
Having been in the forest so many times already, I know the shortest and easiest way out of it. After all, right after the forest was a large, wide open field with bright green grass growing everywhere, and a main road that leads straight to the next town. Or so I’ve heard.
Not long after getting out of the forest, I was hit with a dizzy spell. Was it due to the lack of sleep?
I kneeled down on the floor and tried to shake it off, but then, out of the blue, waves of fatigue and sleepiness struck me. I could hardly resist closing my eyes at that point.
Was it an enemy attack? A magic spell, targeted at me?
I looked around to the best of my abilities, but I can’t spot anyone, and I can’t sense anyone else’s presence as well.
Reaching my very limits, I couldn’t help but shutting my eyes…
Then, I woke up in a start. I couldn’t tell if I closed my eyes for a second, or a few hours have already passed.
I stood up slowly and focused hard, trying to feel around my surroundings for any movement. Even if there’s low visibility, I should be able to detect any hostile presence if they’re not too far away.
There’s nothing, no sound, no killing intent, no movement.
Yet, the uneasiness in my heart isn’t going away.
“If there’s anyone around, show yourself!” (Gideon)
I keep on looking around, trying to keep myself calm and collected while continuing to sense for any humans, monsters or demons.
Wait…no movement, no sound? That’s impossible! This place may be a stretch of grassland, but there’s no way it would be void of any living being!
As I readied my weapon, the ground beneath me began to shake. I started to panic; and tried to look around for the cause of the earth-shake.
1…Happy birthday, Gideon!
The earth-shaking intensifies out of a sudden. Almost losing my balance, I dropped down on all fours, hoping that this was just a simple tremor. Then I realized something. This is bad, really bad.
“T…the village! Dammit, will they be okay?!”
If the quake was so strong over here, this would mean that the village must be affected as well! No wonder there wasn’t any noise at all; all the creatures in the vicinity must have ran away, knowing that an earth-shake is imminent! Darn it, I should’ve realized it sooner…!
I tried to move towards the village, but the earth-shaking was intensifying so much, that I can barely even move, inch by inch. Then, what I saw next threw me into the edge of despair.
A column of fire and burning ash erupted from the top of the hill…the hill which my village was located at.
Dumbfounded, I stared stupidly at the rising columns of ash and lava, flowing down the hill and burning up the surrounding forest along with it.
I tried to stand at and run straight toward the village, but I fall flat, straight onto the floor instead.
“N…n, no. No, n, no no no NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” (Gideon)
I repeatedly slam my fist on the ground, attempting to get up but it just wasn’t humanly possible to keep my balance within that earth-shake.
“NOOOOOOOOOOO….! Lilithia, Lilithia…” (Gideon)
The last thing I remembered was to repeatedly shouting Lilithia’s name before eventually falling unconscious; my brain switched off from the absurdity of the situation.
The next thing I knew, I’m in an area of white again.
Was it all just a dream? How much of it was a dream, the entire time when I was human, or just…that disaster?
(I’m afraid…neither of those were a dream.)
A guy in a white suit appeared in front of me, yet again, with that exact same tear-shaped tattoo on his eye.
It was Kpsid, the Ancient God.
“It’s…you, but…why? What happened? Why did the hill…my village, Lilithia…Bratt….WHYY?”
(It’s your curse. This is your price for your rebirth.)
My mind is in whirl right now, I can hardly retort, nor question anything Kpsid is saying. It’s taking me anything I have to simply listening to him talking.
(It’s called, the “Beloved’s Gift of Misfortune”. Curses only activate when you reach the age of adulthood, and this one causes anyone that you think of as a loved one, to suffer from extremely horrible luck. Let’s just say for this instance, your village was coincidentally located under an ancient volcano which coincidentally didn’t erupt until you left the village. Furthermore, the villagers were all coincidentally in a deep sleep today, so none of them woke up in time to escape the disaster. Coincidentally, of course.)
The absurdity of his words caused me to stare at him blankly.
“T-this is just too much! Remove this curse on me now! And return me my village…! Please…”
(I won’t do it. This curse is the price you paid to regain your life; do you think that revival doesn’t come with a cost? Remember what you told me before, you said you’ll pay any price, didn’t you, OGRE LORD BUVUL! Show me that resolve that you’ve shown me in the past!)
He’s right. I hate to admit it, but Kpsid is right.
I have become soft. I am nothing but trash of my former self. How many times have I already witness death? And yet, just because a village got destroyed, I became such an unsightly thing?
Isn’t this simply just the influence of the human body, the memories and thoughts of the one known as Gideon? Human love and care…I am the Ogre Lord Buvul, one who stomped over many other villages without batting an eyelid, this kind of things mean should nothing to me!
I understand that. I know that.
Why…can’t I stop my tears from falling?
(…come to terms with it soon. Do what you must to, but never forget what you have to do.)
“W, wait! Don’t go, I’m not done yet…t…t…”
Author : Kiribou