“This time, I won’t let anyone die!”
I pushed the podao back, above my head. The black minotaurus was taken aback by the strength it received from its weapon. I made a quick turn and kicked its body, sending it flying backwards into the air. It was an unbelievable strength.
Alyss-san widened her eyes in surprise.
A faint light formed on my arm.
This light... I see.
Alyss-san blinked when I called her name. Light gathered on my hand and extended into a thin layer like a cloth. As soon as I finished creating the spell, I threw the garment towards Alyss-san.
The light covered her whole body faintly. It was like a transparent garment that tightly engulfed Alyss-san.
Alyss-san widened her eyes in shock.
“That light will serve as your protection. Alyss-san, please wait here while I deal with this monster.”
I won’t make the same mistake this time.
“Hiro... What kind of magic is this?” Alyss-san uttered, confused.
I took a glance at the others. Lisa-san still on the ground, immobile. I saw her eyes weakly open as she struggled to move her body. Good, she’s still conscious. I then checked on Rion-san and Raiz. While Raiz was lying on the ground as well, unable to move, Rion-san was still standing in battle position.
I looked back at Alyss-san who was still in awe. I simply gave her a faint smile.
“I know you have a lot of questions, Alyss-san. I promise I’ll explain later after I finish this.” I said.
There was still a hint of doubt on her face as she watched wordlessly. Soon after, seemingly making her decision, she nodded in response.
“Then, I’ll be off now.”
I took a step forward and walked towards the black minotaurus calmly. I called out to Rion-san.
“Rion-san. Please take Lisa-san and Raiz, and get to where Alyss-san is.”
I noticed Rion-san furrowed his brow as he saw me walking towards the black minotaurus. It couldn’t be helped. It took all of them to fight that monster but in the end, all they could do was struggle to defend themselves while the monster was still standing on its own two feet, unconcerned. And now, someone was telling him to back down and watch.
Refusing to move, Rion-san remained in his position while staring at me. That’s because of my weapon. I heard the sound of something cracking. When I looked down, I saw my sword shattered in half.
It seemed my choice of weapon, which I bought based on its cheapness instead of quality, had finally come back to bite me. The sword couldn’t handle the minotaurus’ strength which caused it to break. While I managed to push back the minotaurus with my strength, the sword wasn’t durable enough to keep up.
Guess, I’ll have to use that.
I briefly glanced at the others before throwing my broken sword to the ground. They must’ve thought I’m crazy for throwing my only weapon but it’s not like I’m going to fight that black minotaurus without a weapon.
Essence engulfed my right hand. Suddenly, the space around it distorted. A black object appeared out of nowhere. Everyone watching widened their eyes in shock.
I heard Rion-san and Alyss-san muttering something.
“...What is that?”
“Hiro-san... What are you doing?”
I just hope they keep this secret. I guess I’ll need to convince them somehow later on.
The black object on my hand grew and expanded like it was trying to take form. Within a second, the black object turned into a refined looking black sword. It was a single-edged weapon identical to a japanese sword. Black aura-like material floated up from it, imitating the look of a burning flame.
I looked down at the sword. Its blade was pitch-black so it wasn’t capable of giving a clear reflection. It’s been a while since I wielded you. The sword doesn’t have any sort of consciousness, of course. Despite that, I stared at it for a while with nostalgic eyes. I’ll need your help again for a while.
The discomfort I felt earlier is gone.
Now that I have my weapon back, I look towards Rion-san and call out to him again.
“I’ll handle this. While I do, please take the others and wait.”
“You…” It seemed that he still had something to say but held back. He nodded hesitantly and went to Lisa-san and Raiz.
“Now then.” I muttered while I stared down the black minotaurus.
The black minotaurus watched Rion-san who ignored it and headed towards Lisa-san. It seems that it wouldn’t let that pass. The black monster moved itself towards Rion-san’s direction.
Suddenly, fire engulfed the black minotaurus without it realizing how it happened. The fire exploded and created a shockwave which blew the air around.
“It's me you're facing right now.”
The fire calmed down after a few moments then the black monster came to view. The explosion had caused burns and wounds to its body. Despite that, it was still standing, annoyed.
The black monster let out a deafening roar from the attack it received.
I remained motionless, unconcerned about its intimidation.
Looks like it can’t use magic. Based on how it fought so far, it didn't use any kind of special attack other than swinging its giant podao around. Even when attacked by magic, all it could do was groan from the pain it assailed.
“I’m sorry. You might not be the same one but I’m going to unleash my all on you. I hope you’re ready.”
I didn’t receive any sort of reply other than its annoying loud sounds and its piercing glare. In the first place, monsters aren’t capable of talking.
The black minotaurus and I stared at each other.
A brief silence.
Alyss-san behind me, quietly watched as the two of us waited.
As soon the black minotaurus took its step forward, both of us charged at each other with intensity.
I wrapped myself in wind magic. I dashed forward and slashed my sword from my waist. The black minotaurus used its podao to block and managed to push back my sword along with myself, sending me flying through the air using its powerful strength.
As I remained in the air for a moment, helpless, my face remained calm. I turned around, faced towards the black minotaurus waiting on the ground. Based on its position, it seemed to be planning on hitting me with its podao as soon as I reached its attacking range.
I tightened my grip to the sword and took a breath.
My body was already engulfed in essence, enhanced in magic. With that in mind, I moved rapidly into the air like an arrow as I allowed myself to descend. Without losing momentum, I focused all my essence and magic through the the black sword then—
“【Sword Arts: Flame Dance】”
The black sword turned crimson. Or rather, it was completely covered in blazing fire. I twirled my sword along with my body and cut off the black minotaurus arm. The blade continued and cut through the flesh until its arm—still holding the podao—fell on the ground with a thud.
The black minotaurus roared loudly due to the pain.
“I thought Hiro-san’s affinity is wind magic... “
“...Just who is this boy?”
Now that it lost its arm, the black minotaurus was left unarmed and vulnerable. However, rather than flee, the light in its crimson eyes only grew more intense. It bent its body forward, four—three legs on the ground. Despite missing one of its footing, the black minotaurus kept its balance. It was like a bull ready to charge.
I wouldn’t be satisfied if you just run after all.
I tightened my battle position.
Right after, the three-legged black minotaurus lunged itself towards me. I remained in my position and waited until it was near enough. Just before I was about to get hit by those horns, I kicked off the ground and made a high jump towards the air.
My sword glowed azure. As I slashed my sword forward, hitting nothing but air, a number of water shaped like spheres appeared out of nowhere. It was similar to Alyss-san’s ice shards. As soon as it appeared, the water spheres took the forms of bullets and shot themselves out rapidly towards the black minotaurus’ back.
It was meant to get its attention.
The black minotaurus looks over its shoulders, annoyed. As my foot touched the ground, I felt the black minotaurus’ murderous presence.
I simply stared at it, unconcerned. Immediately after, I dashed myself forward again while wrapped in wind magic. This time my movements were ten times faster. In a single second, I was within the black minotaurus’ range.
Caught by surprise, the black minotaurus took a step forward and raised its remaining limb to its front in an attempt to protect itself.
“Your defense means nothing to me.” I growled.
I bent my body. Let’s see if you still manage to stay alive this time.
I took a breath.
“【Sword Arts: Sweeping Calm】”
A single slash. It was like the sword disappeared for a moment mixed with a single sweeping sound of the sword.
There was a brief utter silence.
I cut through it all—its arms, its head, its heart. Its body fell along with its parts to the ground before dissipating into the air.
I stared at the sky, blankly. All that remained was a feeling of emptiness and helplessness. It wasn’t revenge nor a grudge. It was simply a remnant of the past. Thus, I felt nothing after killing that monster.
The black sword on my hand disappeared completely, successfully serving its purpose. For some reason, I felt something in my eyes. It ran down to my cheeks and to the ground with a single drop. Behind me, I could feel Alyss-san and the others staring at me silently. I remained motionless, my face refused to meet their gaze.
After a while, I took a deep breath to steady my heaving mind and chest. I wiped down my face with my arm and returned to where Alyss-san and the others were waiting.
Alyss-san had her hands gripped against her chest. Her eyes are still in awe. When I walked up to her, I noticed that it was like she wanted to say something but chose to hold herself back.
I tilted my head to the side in wonder.
They must have a lot of questions but first we need to get out of the forest and head back.
I feel bad not finishing the quest, but the safety of the group comes first. After I told everyone that, Rion-san nodded and supported Lisa-san who was still having a hard time moving.
I just healed her earlier but it seems that she’ll need to be treated again. Fortunately, this time, it wasn’t grave enough that it could threaten her life. Raiz and Alyss-san slowly stood up as well after resting for a while.
Alyss-san wore a somewhat forlorn expression to herself. It was then that I remembered why she wanted to do the quest.
I gripped my hands before calling out to her, having made my decision.
Even if I failed once, I still wanted to help. I want to make up for all the regrets I have with this power…
“Alyss-san.” I called from her back.
Alyss-san turned and stared at me before talking.
“Hm? What is it, Hiro-san?”
“About what you said earlier.”
“Earlier?” She tilted her head curiously before realizing what I meant. Her eyes widened.
“I’ll accept your request in one condition.” I said, loud enough that the others could hear. “I want you to keep what I did today and what I am about to do a secret. As for the reason... I’ll explain after everything has calmed down but for now, I hope you understand.”
While the others nodded with an understanding expression, Alyss-san held her hands against her mouth, shocked.
Suddenly, I felt Alyss-san’s body against mine, her arms against my back.
“...Alyss-san?” I stared at her dumbfoundedly.
“Thank you.” Alyss-san said softly while looking down, her face against my clothes.
It was like Alyss-san had found hope. A light. Watching her, I couldn’t help but smile faintly. At least in this world, I want to keep on helping others without letting anyone die again.
Memories flooded through my mind. Oga, Shion, Aron, and Rui... In my mind, I saw them smiling as if they were relieved. With the mix of set memories and persons within me, I wasn’t who I was before.
This is my second chance. A chance to live my life without having to lose someone again.