At the break of dawn, I was feeling the cold night air slowly turn into a warmer, early morning breeze..
While I was walking back to the city of Gemini, right after finishing my morning training, just like usual..
But, the thing that was different now, is that, I was not alone this time..
At my sides, are my two precious disciples, and my only companions..
Recently, they have started to come with me, when I train my body..
Even though I wake up earlier than them, they did their best to get out of bed, the same time as I did..
I naturally couldn't refuse such a strong desire to become stronger, and hone your body..
So, I let them come with me to the outskirts of the city..
At first, they were shocked, at what I normally did, training my body, since they haven't even heard of it before..
As a result, instead of getting refreshed, they were dead tired after imitating my way of training..
I can't help it, my body somehow develops under more harsh pressure, which is not my fault, of course..
It was because of my late Master's training, that even though I was not a masochist, my body only gets stronger, the further I pressure my muscles, my mind, and myself..
I suggested they started with the basics, but they readily refused me, saying that they want to reach where I am, and become even stronger, and taking the easy way out, isn't going to make it a reality..
Such precocious brats, saying that they will surpass me that quickly, I won't lose, you know?
But it warms my heart to see them try their hardest..
Even now, they are somehow, walking by themselves, with me, back to the city..
Last time, they asked to be carried back, since they couldn't even stand upright..
Such frightening kids, makes you wonder how they even got captured with their tenacity..
As we were walking back to town, talking about things like breakfast and such, I decide what were going to do today..
It has now been three days after I passed that ridiculous interview..
Gaziel-shi said that we were leaving in the afternoon, so I needed to say my greetings to the acquaintances I've made..
Even though they weren't a lot, I still wanted to let them know, I was leaving..
Since we already bought the necessary provisions for the trip, I went to say goodbye for now, to Jim and the rest..
We ate at their restaurant, although it was early morning, I could see people lining up outside..
Just goes to show how popular the new recipes are, combined with Jim and the staff's cooking ability, I'd say it was natural, but I was lead into the restaurant first, as usual, I felt bad for the other customers, but they told me that it was fine, since I was considered like a VIP, here in his restaurant..
I know they're over exaggerating, but still..
After we ate, I told Jim and the rest about our trip to "Capricorn City", and we'd leave for a while..
They had faces that were sad to see me go, but I assured them, that we would be back soon..
When we said our goodbyes, Jim stopped me for a second, and took out something from an old chest he brought out..
When I checked with [Aura Eyes], it said that it was a [Gemini Key], but Jim said that it was a mysterious key, that has been passed around his noble family for generations, but no one knew what it opened, or what it was..
While being surprised that Jim was actually a former noble, I thanked him for the key and went out of the restaurant..
Next, we went to my blacksmith friend, Rodrick..
Over these few weeks, I had asked Rodrick to make something out of my [Mithril Ore], a week after, he made a thin, long sword, and gave it to me, it was a beautiful slender, but sturdy sword, capable of taking 10% of my aggregate magic power at most, so I named it [Yin], he was happy about me being pleased of his work, which made me think that he was a good guy, so what I did was, gave him 5 [Mithril Ores] as a sign of our friendship..
He was really thrilled looking at it, and kept asking me, was it fine to take it, so in order to shut him up, I gave him one [Orichalcum Ore], and his eyes nearly popped out, it was really funny to see, but he got even more noisy, so let's omit it..
When we entered, Rodrick wasn't at the counter, but in his workshop, surprisingly had bags under his eyes, leading me to think, that he hasn't slept a wink since I gave him the ores..
I called out to him a couple of times, since he was so focused on his work, and finally got his attention..
After that, I made him breakfast for the first time, which he was reluctant to eat at first, but after taking one bite, he started to cry, me and the duo, laughed at him, seeing a grown man, crying..
He told me all about his creations, such as swords, maces, axes, armor, and shields over breakfast..
The elf duo wasn't interested in it much, but they still listened to Rodrick's rambling like polite children..
When we told him about our trip, he wished us luck and gone home with the leftovers, saying he was going to share them with his family..
Huh, he did have a wife and kids, after all..
Before going to the gate, there was one last person we needed to inform, even though she already knows about it..
Ella, the guild's receptionist, and our close friend..
When we entered the guild, the atmosphere wasn't as hostile and ignorant like the first time I entered here to register..
But now, it was a merry group of adventurers, without an ounce of tension...
I made a few acquaintances here and there, but not to the level that I would go out of my way to visit them..
As we passed by, some adventurers recognized us, and said hello while walking by, and waving their hands..
I guess they finally acknowledged me, even though they still called us, "The Weird White-Haired Kid and His Elf Party"..
But it's fine, they don't mean anything bad by it..
We went up to Ella, and greeted her with some small talk..
Then, I went to the main point about the trip, she reacted slightly strange, like she was worried about it..
She said something was strange about the request this time, saying that, the path to "Capricorn City" was actually, really safe, one of the safest among the country's roadways..
When I listened to her, I thought she had a point, but I didn't speculate that far, so I told her, that maybe I was just an extra precaution against a "what if" factor, while traveling..
She reluctantly agreed to my idea, saying that it was kind of weird to worry about it this much..
I comforted her saying, it's not that strange, and said our goodbyes..
She waved us goodbye shouting "Come back soon, okay!" while waving her hand, having a big smile on her face..
I replied "Ah, we'll be going then!" and walked out of the guild..
We went back to the inn, and said that we were leaving for a week, and we were going to vacate our room today..
But suddenly, when we informed them of that, the innkeeper said that since we were long-time guests, she said that she will try to reserve the room until we come back as long as she can, allowing the circumstances..
With a bright smile on my face, I thanked her for such consideration..
What great service this inn provides, I will definitely come back to this place..
I looked outside the windows when we were finished packing our stuff in my [Aura Pocket] and went downstairs..
It was already noon, so we ate our lunch at the first floor, and handed the room key to the innkeeper..
She said goodbye to me and the kids, and we left in the direction of the east gate..
A few minutes later, we arrived at the eastern gate of "Gemini City" and found a carriage with Raizel-san standing outside, and I saw Gaziel-shi, reading a book inside of it..
We walked up to it, and said our greetings to them, saying were sorry for being late..
"Ah, no, no, you aren't late, it's just that we came here early, to load up the carriage.."
Gaziel-shi says in an apologetic tone..
"More importantly, I wanted to know how you got that much strength, Orion!"
Geh, he's calling me like I was his long time buddy now, well, I'm just glad he's healthy enough to speak like that..
"Your guess is as good as mine(Saa~na)..."
I answer noncommittally to Raizel-san's question..
He was pretty depressed about it for a bit, but instantly recovered after he heard Gaziel-shi's voice saying..
"Well, now that the carriage is fully loaded, shall we depart?"
"Yes, a new adventure!" "Time to go see the outside"
Our various replies were as one, saying that we agreed to start our travel..
Though I couldn't handle the high-tension of both the kids, and Raizel-san..
Please, go easy on me..
Me and Raizel-san rode two horses for travel and moved to each side of the carriage, while Lute and Anna were made to ride inside, since they were kids, but they started talking about riding a horse and such, so I told them that I'd be teaching them how to ride one in the future..
Hmm? How did I even know how to ride a horse in the first place?
Well, that is an excellent question..
Back then, when I was in middle school, I remember in my second year, when I noticed people started to ignore me, and never talked to me, further increasing in harshness, until they started to run away at the sight of me..
So I had a lot of free time, having no friends, and with no one letting me join their clubs..
Anyway, during my free time, I'd usually go to different outdoor activities, such as sports centers, martial arts, going to anime and music stores, buying games, watching movies by myself, you know, things, lonely people do..
When I found a class teaching horse-riding, I automatically joined it, since I was free..
I learned how to ride like a professional really quickly, in the span of a week, so I kept coming back to ride horses during my free time, but then, for some reason, the class got cancelled, saying something like, there were dangerous people and unsavory individuals coming to this class, and it got banned from the recreational center..
I would've preferred if they didn't include the class for being bad, and just directly accused me, but I couldn't change anything then, so I begrudgingly accepted reality and move on to other things..
Anyway, as we were traveled, we didn't encounter any bandits or the template monster attack for the whole day..
When night fell, we set up camp by moving the carriage to the side of the road, and making a campfire, and then, we put up tents, while we were doing that, I instructed the two to ready my cooking set and the like..
When I started preparing for the meal, I noticed that both Gaziel-shi and Raizel-san were eating dried meat that was preserved using pepper and large amounts of salt..
As expected of the rich, to be using that much salt, but still, their faces were telling me, that it had no taste..
So naturally, like the guy that I am, I called out to them, saying that I can give them a share of the meal, since we aren't going to finish it all, anyway..
They were curious about it, so they agreed to partake in the meal I was cooking..
Tonight, I was cooking a seafood meal, fish fillets, improvised by me..
I used varying spices to get rid of the fishy smell, and brought out the enhanced texture and flavor of the natural fish..
And made some fish soup stock, simultaneously..
After, I seasoned them lightly with sauce, and I served them to the four drooling personas..
Their first impressions were that it wasn't like anything that they've ever seen before, so they naturally ate till their stomachs were full, and their bellies were shaped like balloons..
Even though it was a light dish, they still ate the entire stock..
Well, I was happy though, after that, we took turns being the night watch, and slept..
The next few days were uneventful, except for the few stops along the way, like feeding and re-hydrating the horses..
It was expected in this heat, no matter how much the horses' stamina was..
So we continued on, until we met it..
We heard loud sounds from the forest when we passed by, and it was getting louder..
So Gaziel-shi decided that it must have been a monster, and we had a better chance taking care of it now, than running away from it, which was an uncertain bet to take..
After a while, the trees shook, and what came out was..
A huge, human like creature with bulging muscles, a bald head, hairy arms and legs, and two large horns on his head..
It was wearing a giant piece of dirty cloth to cover his body, but not by much..
And it was carrying a gigantic piece of wood on its shoulders, formed like a club-shaped weapon..
Naturally, it was the first time seeing such a creature, but I was strangely perplexed on how it got here, from the knowledge I got from Ella, it seemed the monster was called a "Fomorian"..
A legendary creature that only appears in the south, where the demons lived..
They say they have a tribe there, living in secret..
But, how did one, even get here, all the way north, was the world round, just like it was back on Earth?
Oops, not the time to be thinking that right now, it seemed to have noticed us..
As me, Raizel-san, Anna, and Lute, got ready for battle, the giant just held the club over his head, aiming at us..
The two released their techniques, and it slightly did some damage, since the giant hesitated for a second in swinging..
While they were bombarding the giant, Raizel-san took the opportunity to leap onto the giant's arm, and started running upwards to his neck, which was pretty smart, until..
He got a hit in, using his gauntlets, but it didn't even scratch the behemoth..
So he hit it again, and again, until the "Fomorian" got tired of his hits, and flicked him with his hand, blowing back his body into the carriage, which broke, by the way, if it wasn't that obvious..
I feel sorry for Raizel-san, who's always getting flicked away, but since the giant was distracted, I thanked him in my thoughts, hoping he didn't get too injured, and decided that I couldn't let a chance like this go..
So, I did the same thing as Raizel-san, but this time, I jumped instead of running to his neck,,
I jumped from different parts of its body until I reached his head, and then, while he was trying to slap my nonexistent persona, since I was moving too quickly, I quickly unsheathed [Yin] from it's sheath and swung down, using about 50% of my strength at the moment..
After I did that, I was surprised that I cut through the giant's body right through the middle, like it was made out of butter, all the way from the top his head, unto the ground..
The result was, the two parts of the newly sliced body fell onto opposite sides, without even knowing how to react..
And a giant cloud of dust was formed..
After the dust settled, you could see the aftermath..
A broken carriage with debris and splinters scattered here and there, Gaziel-shi standing next to it, helping up the fallen Raizel-san, the elf-duo celebrating the win, and me, standing in a giant crater, right between the two pieces of the huge monster, and it's spilled organs and blood..
Naturally, I used [Cleanse Aura] to clean the stains and grime off of me..
It's a really convenient skill I learned back when I was hunting monsters in the forest..
After I was done, I absorbed the aura, and the corpse of the beast into my storage, and I then walked up to my traveling companions, deciding what to do next..
After the incident, we decided that since, the carriage was broken in the battle, we should go back to "Gemini City" to get a new one, since it was closer than "Capricorn City"..
I wished for a skill to automatically fix the broken carriage, or that I could have learned basic carpentry, but alas, I had no knowledge of it, and I sure as hell didn't know where to start fixing such a mess..
So we gave up on the trip for now, and headed back, using the four horses..
The two that me and Raizel-san, who was apparently fine, were already riding..
And the two horses that were from the carriage..
As the elf-duo didn't know how to ride it, along the way, I taught them, one by one, starting from the most eager, Lute..
While Anna was sitting at my back, hugging my backside, I taught Lute how to ride a horse on the way home..
It was just the basics, though..
When it was Anna's turn, I told her to let go of my back, which she reluctantly agreed to, but was sulky about it..
After they all learned the basics, I let them take turns riding the horse, but for some reason, mostly Lute was the one who was riding alone, since Anna said she preferred riding with me..
Which was cute..
The trip back lasted less days than when we started to leave, which I though was strange, but I didn't dare to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I was just thankful for the minor blessing..
After we arrived at the outskirts of town, Gaziel-shi suddenly stopped us, and said that the horses needed to rest, and I had somewhat trusted their decisions these past few days, so I listened to their suggestion that we should inform the guild of our predicament first before anything else..
Just when I was about to leave, Gaziel-shi stopped me, by saying that the kids would be faster, and that I should help feed the horses, I was perplexed about what he said, but since it was just feeding the horses, I didn't delve much into it..
How I regretted my naivety that time..
After I told them what Gaziel-shi said, they were sad for a bit, separating from me, but I assured them that it was only for a while, and we'll have some of their favorite dishes when they were done..
At those words, their faces brightened and wanted to quickly go..
But not before saying goodbye for now..
"See you then, Onii!"
"See you later, Shishou!"
They yelled as they waved goodbye while dashing into the distance..
I wait for a while, using my enhanced eyesight watching them enter the city safely..
I know it was overprotective of me, but hey, they were one of my precious people..
I couldn't let anything bad happen to them, so I had to watch over them, even now, and until the future..
While I was thinking that, I turned around to help the two with the horses..
"So, let's sta-"
I didn't notice it..
I couldn't notice it..
I was too busy thinking about the elf-duo..
I could only look down to find..
A big, gleaming red and black sword releasing a sinister presence being pierced into my body..
Entering through my front, and coming out from my backside, the blood flows to the ground when it was twisted..
And the one in front of me was..
I could only squeeze out those words in response to the man in front of me who seemed like a different person..
His playful red-eyes, and red-hair, were nowhere to be found..
Only to be replaced by the blood-red color of sleek, long hair, with two black horns growing at the center, and merciless eyes looking straight into mine..
"Sorry about this, Orion..."
He says with anger in his tone..
"But, you're going to be a hindrance to our Master's plans.."
Master? They are serving someone?
Never mind that, I have to get this sword out of my chest, but strangely, I can't muster any strength..
Just as I was gathering my strength into my hands, holding the sword, a deep voice resounded..
The sword suddenly broke and was replaced by seven different colored chains..
It tied up my body from the inside, binding my arms, legs, neck, and abdomen..
All connected to seven different magic circles floating in the air..
I couldn't move a muscle, much less break free..
I try to release my limiter but..
"It's useless, Orion-dono, that is the greatest seal our Master made for dangerous situations, the [Sin Seal], there is no possible way for you to muster any strength, and even an ounce of magic power when you're trapped in this seal.."
The owner of that deep and solemn voice was someone holding a big book, that was entitled [Grimoire] when I read it using my comprehension skill, the man with a cheerful but serious disposition, disappeared like it was a lie..
And who was there now, was a blue-green colored with a trace of silver hair at the bangs, a pure white face, with a dark tattoo running down from his left eye, two black horns growing out of his head, and eyes that seemed like they were looking at an insect, eyes that wouldn't hesitate to kill, but filled with intelligence..
"What, what are you talking about, Gaziel-shi, Raziel-san!"
I manage to muster out a yell in desperation, but Gaziel-shi seemed to have found it funny..
"Still so innocent, I see, can't you see that we're not who you think we are?"
Huh? Then who are they?
"I guess it's time for us to introduce ourselves, I am Mastema de Gaziel, Archdevil of Knowledge.."
He then gestures to Raizel-san at his side..
"My name is Mephistopheles von Raizel, the Archdevil of Combat.."
"Yes, and since you're about to die anyway, along with the people of this city, I might as well tell you, that we are two of the "Four Archdevils of Disaster" serving our Master, the Demon God, Polaris-sama, and we came here to purge human civilization to further entice the upcoming war.."
Archdevils? Demon God? Wait, there's something else important mixed there..
"What did you say? People of the city?"
"*Chuckle* You are an interesting human, the only thing you head was that, not even caring about your own well-being, but yes, we came here to destroy human cities, and the first one was supposed to be "Capricorn City", but you all changed that, by destroying the "Fomorian" we recovered from the "Demon Continent", didn't you?"
Were they the reason for the attack? No, never mind that, what was pressing was about the part about the city..
I got to do something before it's too late..
"Ah, you still have hope in your eyes, but sadly, it's too late for that, we've already finished preparations.."
What, how, when, where, I have to stop them...
But each time I try to release my limiter, my strength gets sucked out, like I was in a juicer..
Was it wrong to trust these guys fully? Was it even wrong to trust humans in general?
Not like, they ever cared for me..
No, there were, good people, Jim, Rodrick, Ella, and the other adventurers, I've got to save them..
As I try harder to bring out my power..
"Oh, not so fast.."
"That's payback for last time, really, I don't like to fight when my opponent is like this, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but just know, I'm not doing this because I hate you, Orion. It's just that if a dangerous element such as you would interfere with our plans, it would end badly, i hope you would understand.."
"Oh, it's time, turn him around Mephisto, let him take in this moment.."
As Mephistopheles heard that, he then kicked me towards the direction of the city, rolling me over to see..
A giant magic circle floating above the entirety of the city..
Oh no, I've got, to, break, free..
I struggle my hardest, thinking at rapid speeds, but the result was...
"I told you already, it's too late.."
He starts to gather magic power into his right arm while holding his [Grimiore}..
He finishes the chant, and a giant dark ray fills the sky..
And shoots its sinister light onto the city..
It lasted a few minutes while I was struggling for my life, with tears flowing out of my eyes..
I couldn't stop it..
No, I chose not to stop it..
It's because of me, that now, they're all gone..
Jim, Rodrick, Ella, all the people in the city..
And my two precious comrades, Lute, and Anna..
I didn't want to believe it..
I regretted the fact that I easily trusted people, people I didn't even know..
Thinking that every person would be at least decent, and even if they weren't, I could have stopped them with force..
But I was conceited, and naive..
I realize that now..
It's like I was living in a game..
Like everything was meant to happen..
Should I just lay down here and take this?
Should I just accept reality, even though this is my fate..
I drown in the despair of my own thoughts..
When in the darkness, I heard footsteps..
Footsteps coming towards my direction..
Who is it now?
Is it someone to put me in more despair?
I couldn't take any much more than this right now..
When the footsteps stopped, I got curious and looked up..
Who I saw was..
Not the silver-haired me, but my 12-year old self from Earth..
A black-haired boy with deep darkness in his eyes..
I couldn't remember much about myself or my past, but why was he here now?
"What, why are you here?"
I timidly asked the little boy staring at me..
"I guess this is where it ends, huh, Jun.."
"How, how do you know my name?"
"Isn't it obvious? I am you, I'm the original personality that personally experienced despair, your other side.."
"My, other side?"
"Yes, ever since that incident, I became like this, despairing the world, but I knew I couldn't live like that, so I created you."
I try to think about those words..
"No need to think too much about it, I just wanted to make someone who can live carefree, going with the flow, and without my memories of the past, including the incident, so I created another personality.."
I couldn't understand what he was trying to say and answered with silence..
"Well, it's a lot to take in, so take all the time that you need, for the meantime, I'll take over for a while.."
He says as he patted my shoulder..
"Tag out, Jun.."
I hazily remember someone saying that to me in my childhood days..
Then I was suddenly enveloped by light, and my consciousness disappeared..
"Guess it's time, huh, for me, I refuse to accept to give in to despair, this time.."
I say, as I was walking through the endless darkness..
"Let's go have some fun!"
"Huh? Why is he not moving?"
"Beats me, maybe he fainted?"
"Well, no matter, since he's sealed, he can't move anyway, Mephisto, kill him now.."
As Mephistopheles moved towards the white-haired boy..
He got blown away into a nearby tree..
As I was dumbfounded by the spectacle, I turn to see the boy, standing up nonchalantly, breaking the seals one by one..
"Ah, it's good to be back, it's been a long time.."
He says as he stretched his neck and arms like it was normal..
This boy, his presence changed..
And most of all, he broke the most powerful seal, our Master made like it was just some string..
I couldn't process anything right now, even though I was known as the number one genius in the [Demon Clan]..
I couldn't see through the true nature of the white-haired boy who had now a purple shade of hair at the center, with emotionless eyes, which looked straight at Mephistopheles, then straight at me..
I suddenly felt a chill down my spine when his gaze matched mine..
Who is this boy?
"Well, you're my enemy huh? You look weaker than expected, anyway.."
His next words were filled with both dread and excitement..
"Let's have some fun!"
Chapter 028 - Escort
At the break of dawn, I was feeling the cold night air slowly turn into a warmer, early morning breeze..