“Puhahahaha! Is this it? Devil!”
Minamoto’s combat prowess went beyond the rumors. He was not only holding his own against a High Devil known to be as powerful as a Transcendent but even pushing him back.
“Ow! It hurts! Stop it!”
Elijah was being pushed back one-sidedly despite wielding the power of a High Devil. There were largely two reasons for this.
First was the difference in skill. As a seasoned fighter, Minamoto had seen through Elijah’s powerful yet simple attack pattern and negated every move he was making by keeping one step ahead; the follow-up counter-attack that came after was just a bonus. Another reason was simply that Minamoto was powerful. He had used just one arm to block the heavy swing of Elijah’s clawed attack.
Elijah flailed about desperately with all his effort, but Minamoto did not retreat a single step. Instead, he was scolding the Devil by shaking a single finger side to side.
“I am unbreakable. This sort of attack does not work on me.”
It was an unbelievable sight, for a mere admiral of the Human Empire’s Fleet who did not even manage to enter the lowest seat of the 13 Champions of the Continent to display such strength. Minamoto was performing a feat that was believed to be impossible with the exception of the Emperor of the Human Empire, Aquiroa the Executor, and Shamal Rajput, the head of the Assassin’s Guild. The soldiers who were watching the spectacle broke out into a cheer.
“My god… to stand toe to toe with a High Devil in terms of strength, Admiral Minamoto; he’s amazing.”
“Is this the strength of the man who was promoted by the Emperor because of his combat prowess?”
“It looks like the rumors that even the Enemy of the World was wary and envious of his skill wasn’t just hot air.”
Minamoto did not outwardly appear to be reacting to the sound of praise coming from behind him, but he was burning with passion on the inside.
‘Kekeke… more. Praise me more. Sing of my praises a bit louder!’
To the Summoned, the mass summoning was a tragedy on its own, but to some, it was a gift. This was especially true for people like Taeksu Kim or Minamoto Daisuke who had no outlook in life. Minamoto was subjected to izime before the word izime was adopted to Korean, and he had been a shut-in recluse long before the word hikikomori was coined. The Other World was like heaven that overflowed with milk and honey. Anyone could obtain overwhelming power through a bit of luck, regardless of the actual effort involved.
A smile formed on Minamoto’s lips. He was assured of victory.
‘This Devil. He’s weaker than me. I might not have been able to beat him before, but the Forbidden Technique sure is great!’
He allowed the sinister energy he had obtained via betrayal to run rampant inside of his body. The destructive power that he himself had no means to restrain filled every cell of his being.
“I am a High Devil! How dare a mere human stand against a High Devil! This doesn’t make any sense! Why do you think I have become a High Devil!”
Elijah began to reek of vile Demon Aura as he rushed forth. It was a charge that held enough power and speed to make even the most grizzled knights, who often boasted about having being trained in the battlefield, reel back in fear.
However, Minamoto evaded Elijah’s charge with light movements like that of a bullfighter. He recalled one of the scenes from pro wrestling that he saw at a young age as he dodged. The most popular figure on that show broadcasted by the American military: the muscled man in the yellow underwear. As an apostle of justice, the patterns of his matches were all the same. His repertoire was to be beaten up by the evil heel until he was awoken by the cheer of the crowd to some monstrous strength that allowed him to overwhelm his villain in a single move. It was simple but always evoked a thunderous applause.
A cruel smile formed on Minamoto’s lips.
‘I’ll strike back hard after playing with you for a little bit.’
He was planning on using this opportunity to show his true worth to not only the members of his fleet but also to the soldiers of the front lines of the Demon world, and correct his recently declining evaluation.
‘13 Champions of the Continent? Don’t make me laugh. The fact that I’m not on that list means that the list is worthless!’
He delayed the fight as he continued to block or barely evade Elijah’s relentless assault. Until the moment when people began to chant his name.
As Elijah began to gather his breath and prepare for his next attack, the cheer of the crowd fell into Minamoto’s ears.
“Human! You must get up!”
“You must defeat that demon!”
The words of cheer that he had been waiting for had arrived. Minamoto smiled as he recalled the man in yellow underwear that stood on the post of the ring in the crowd’s adoration.
“Now! You must get up!”
However, the voices were strange. Minamoto quickly looked around him.
‘Huh? It’s just Homunculi all over?!’
There was a crowd of homunculi. Each one of them had a hideous appearance as their limbs were torn off, clothes ripped away, or their hair singed off. They looked to be the group of homunculi that were used by the Mages who had met their ends in the hands of Elijah Breggas when he ran rampant here.
The cheer of the homunculi grew more intense as Minamoto turned to look at them.
“You must get up! Stand up and get rid of the evil Devil!”
It was then that Elijah headed toward him with the sound of metallic chains clanking. Minamoto did not hold it any longer. He put his strength behind the hand that held Yodo Kamaitachi and sliced through the High Devil rushing toward him with a single swing. It appeared as though a fog of blood had sprayed around Kamaitachi like a sprinkler before Elijah was felled like a giant tree.
“I-it can’t be true… I-I am a High Devil…”
Elijah wasn’t quite dead yet. He had just received a mortal blow that kept him on the floor; gasping for breath. The metal chain wrapped around his back had also been cut, freeing the corpse of the female which slid to the floor. A cheer broke out.
This time it was not just the homunculi, but also the soldiers in the rear, but Minamoto could only hear the loud and annoying sound of the Homunculi cheering. He walked toward the Homunculi with heavy steps.
“We’re really grateful!”
“Admiral Minamoto is our hero!”
The Homunculi put on a grotesque smile as they praised him. Minamoto suddenly lifted one up before throwing it back toward the floor.
The Homunculus was smashed onto the floor turning into a bloody mess.
“To receive praise from these half-made trashes. I can’t bear it! I won’t let anyone who was watching live!”
Yodo Kamaitachi danced once again. The homunculi’s heads and limbs flew dizzyingly in the air as bright red blood splattered in every direction. No one could stop him who was dyed in madness. His blade that had soaked his immediate surroundings in blood swung violently in the air seeking its next opponent. Elijah Breggas became its next target as the closest being around.
“I received this humiliation because of this trash-like Devil.”
However, Elijah’s movements were strange. The High Devil who had been gasping for breath after the mortal blow was now stretching his hand in an attempt to reach something.
Minamoto’s eyes moved and soon discovered what he sought. There was a corpse of a young woman tied in metal chains in the direction of the High Devil’s outstretched hand.
Minamoto’s face grew ugly.
“Is the so-called High Devil playing with a human corpse like a doll? Not only are you weak and repulsive, you are also perverted.”
Yodo Kamaitachi’s tip was pointed toward Sophia’s corpse.
“I will slice up this rotten corpse and feed it to the dogs!”
The blade exploded into a fog of blood and split the air. Just when the sword dyed in an evil aura was about to touch the corpse,
something stopped the blade. Minamoto’s eyes grew wide.
‘W-what is this?!’
The number of people that could stop him weren’t many. The only ones he expected to be able to block his attack with such ease were the higher ranked Devil Lords, and those with the title of ‘Transcendent’ within the human alliance. But the face that stood before him was someone he could have never expected.
He had not been told that Sungchul was here. His panic-stricken face turned toward the distant Martin Breggas. Martin, who was now kneeling over his son’s torn corpse with a distant expression on his face, was lost in many ways.
The man who had stopped the sword smirked while Minamoto still stood in shock.
“Yo, Taeksu Kim.”
“E-enemy of the World!”
The atmosphere of the entire battlefield shifted with the presence of a single person. The fleet of the Human Empire who had been carpet bombing, the Civil Militia of Trowyn who had been sweeping up the remnants of the enemy army, the main forces on the ground, and even the Order of the Iron Blood Knights who had been surrounded and waiting for death were wholly focused on the appearance of this one man.
Silence that couldn’t have been imagined moments ago fell onto the battlefield. Minamoto pulled away his Yodo Kamaitachi from Fal Garaz that stood in its path and retreated.
“It’s been a while.”
Sungchul spoke with a bright smile. His smile picked away at a scar deep inside Minamoto… no, Taeksu’s mind. 15 years ago on the plains of La Grange, the humiliation of the time when he had been helplessly tied up without being able to do anything despite being much stronger than Sungchul appeared in his mind.
‘It’s different now. My strength has grown since then, and I have techniques and experience that I didn’t possess back then.’
Despite the fact that Sungchul’s infamy had swept across the world, Minamoto, with his sinister secret, believed that Sungchul’s reputation was nothing but hogwash.
‘I’ll kill you and place my name as the First Champion of the 13 Champions of the Continent. No, wouldn’t First Champion be too much? Since the one who gave me power is also on the list.’
Minamoto smirked. He had become panicked momentarily, but courage stemming from self-confidence quickly sprang forth.
“Yodo Kamaitachi, Blood Fiend Technique! You’re a dead man!”
Minamoto stood boldly before Sungchul and swung his katana. A fog of blood quickly began to spread from the blade’s body. It was the same blade that had cleaved through Elijah in a single slice.
However, Sungchul only looked at Minamoto with apathetic eyes.
Minamoto slowly began to move. It was at this moment that a voice of a young girl rang out from above Sungchul’s head.
A single book was gliding straight toward Sungchul’s head from the sharp mountain slope. Sungchul collected the falling book.
“I told you to wait.”
“It was scary waiting by myself!”
He smiled bitterly as to say “It can’t be helped” and pulled out the single drawing held between the pages of the book. It contained the image of a beautiful woman.
Minamoto’s face grew red.
‘Why… that’s my ideal woman!’
Sungchul pulled out the drawing, indifferent whether Minamoto looked or not, and placed it onto another portrait. The final drawing turned into fragments of light and disappeared leaving behind a single message in Sunghcul’s eyes.
[How was it? It couldn’t be that you’ve fallen for me now, right? It doesn’t matter if you did. We can never be.]
1. Intuition +1
2. Portrait of Vestiare drawn on Jewel Papyrus
Sungchul immediately threw the portrait of Vestiare drawn on Jewel Papyrus onto the ground without hesitation. Minamoto ran over to the ground to pick up the portrait as quick as lightning.
Sungchul checked his changed stats while Minamoto was preoccupied with the portrait.
Intuition – 500
A smile rose on Sunghcul’s lips, then…
A fearsome strike that couldn’t be seen struck Minamoto’s abdomen.
Minamoto let out an eerie scream and collapsed onto the floor. Sungchul took a sweep at the gazes of the soldiers filled with awe and fear before heading off. Martin had become a shell of a man, and Minamoto was dead. There was no one left to stop his path.
While he was thinking so, Minamoto’s body which lay on the ground began to squirm.
“Go… no further! Sungchul!”
Sungchul could now see it. The evil energy that surrounded Minamoto’s entire body. This thing that could be described as a black fog, or maybe mucus, was now popping Minamoto onto his feet.
He watched Minamoto who was now heading in his direction with a katana in hand with callous indifference.
Izime- Japanese word describing a group picking on one person. A ‘group vs individual’ bullying.
Hikikomori – Reclusive adolescents or adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement.
heel- In professional wrestling, a heel is a wrestler who is villainous or a “bad guy”, who is booked (scripted) to be in the position of being an antagonist.
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