"The Haves and the Have Nots"
Todd: “If you're alive, you'll get a chance to rinse your shame off. But if you die, that's the end. So, I'm going. I won't get into a fight I don't think I can win..”
There was no lie in those words. Throwing yourself into a fight that you had little chance of winning was a folly only an unbelievable fool would commit to. He didn’t think he was wise, not in the slightest, but for that reason he should make careful decisions. A wise person might reach a conclusion in an instant, that a fool would take an eternity to reach.
Todd knew that this was how those who were not talented fought.
He doesn't get into fights he can't win. However, paradoxically speaking...
???: "...There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting into a fight you have a chance of winning.”
He brought his clenched fist in front of his right eye, and looked longingly at the other side through the small gap he had created. A primitive means of seeing farther, achieved by narrowing one’s field of vision. If he squinted, Todd's eyes would be able to see quite far, but he would not be able to make out what was going on inside the chaotic City Hall, let alone past the burning flags. Even though the situation was much more spacious than before.
???: "Hey, the roof of City Hall is gone! What's going on?"
Right next to him, Todd’s ferocious companion was overwhelmed by his own growing sense of urgency and was making a lot of noise. Todd’s concentration was disturbed, so he flicked his hand towards the man to instruct him to shut up. As for what was going on, he was earnestly evaluating the situation.
Todd: "I'm pretty sure one of the Nine Divine Generals are there."
If not, there was no point in staying in the citadel which had fallen into enemy hands.
As mentioned before, Todd was planning to abandon the city and flee as soon as City Hall was taken by the enemy's plan. He had no intention of politely complying with any disarmament order and surrendering. In the first place, as long as the shots were being called by the poster child of war - a man who called himself Natsumi Schwartz, dangerous people like Todd and Jamal would be the first to be dealt with.
Even in Vollachia, the executions of surrendered prisoners of war was frowned upon, but that man would certainly make up a good reason to excuse such travesties. At least, that's what Todd would do. It was a natural consideration for survival.
That's why he chose to abandon the city without hesitation. In spite of this, his curiosity got the better of him, so he hid just close enough to confirm the existence of reinforcements heading for the city.
Jamal: "There's no doubt about it. That’s the woman I saw two years ago, when I served during the defeat of the barbarians. …Number Two General Arakiya."
Jamal got excited as he peered at the scantily clad woman who had leisurely entered the city by jumping over the closed main gate. He was like a man who walked around with his wild instincts on his sleeve, both in terms of biological strength and a male's ability to recognize females.In other words, one of the Empire's strongest Nine Divine Generals showed up to suppress the rebellion… This must be the chance that Todd previously judged to be missing. Even so…
Todd: "To act or not to act... It's more than worth the trouble."
Although Natsumi's tricky tactics were brilliant, he had no direct combat power, at least, not within a third of a soldiers’ own power. The People of Shudrak who followed him were known for their toughness, but that was only relative to ordinary people. Those who were strong as the Nine Divine Generals were not constrained to such criteria.
Even Jamal, whose only claim to fame was his tremendous swordsmanship and fighting prowess, was about as good as a dozen regular Imperial soldiers. That was the measure of how well you could judge an ordinary person. A member of the Nine Divine Generals are a prime example of an unorthodox person who would have a favorable matchup compared to Jamal.. …The city hall that had fallen into enemy hands was going to be reclaimed.
Todd: "Then it's wise to ride the winning horse."
There was no need to work with a member of the Nine Divine Generals.
Todd and Jamal just needed to be more useful to the General, than the soldiers who were captured and unable to do their job. If they could detain the enemy, interrogate them, and give them some proper payback, then the First Class General would remember them well. If they did that, they would be promoted, and they might be able to find their way back to the Imperial Capital sooner rather than later.
Todd: "All right, we're heading back, Jamal. We’re going to help her retake City Hall."
Jamal: "Oh? Oh, yeah! Haha, that's good. I'm glad to hear that! I've been itching all over for a while, since running away isn’t my style. I ain’t gonna let the First Class General hog the credit!"
Todd: "Don't be silly. We're going to get the favour of the General."
Todd sighed at Jamal, whose fists hardened in anticipation for a return to battle in response to the change in plans. Setting out for City Hall, they located a position with an optimal view in order to observe the situation, instead of directly entering the building. Following his own beliefs to the last, he was careful and cautious, and…
Todd: "... Kill him, Arakiya."
The top floor of City Hall was blown away by the gale-force wind, and the First Class General was on a rampage. From a distance, the second ranked silver-haired, brown-skinned woman wielded a tree branch that looked like an improvised weapon, and rampaged about as if she were the highest law of the world. Between all the bodies indiscriminately strewn around the hall, there wasn’t any distinction between Shudrak and Imperial soldiers. Under these circumstances, the one who stood in front of Arakiya with a blue-haired girl behind his back was none other than Natsumi Schwartz.
As soon as he saw him, the thought that came to Todd's mind wasn’t dismissive like, "How could he be stupid enough to stand in front of a General?" or "How is he still alive?" Rather, with utmost vigilance, Todd shouted out loud in his heart.
...Kill that man here, for sure, Arakiya!
Above all else, for better or worse, he didn't care what he got credit for. He didn't care if the time he spent thinking about his decision to stick around ended up being meaningless. He didn’t care about anything else, as long as he could make sure that Natsumi Schwartz, the poster child of war, was no longer breathing. It would be...
Todd: "… Oh come on, you've gotta be kidding me."
In the instant Arakiya was going to kill Natsumi, Todd's sincere hope was shattered just as something flashed at the edge of his tunneled vision, of which was concentrated on that crucial moment.
A flash of red light interrupted Natsumi and Arakiya. It majestically challenged Arakiya and sheltered Natsumi behind her back as it seemed the absolute strongest thing in the world. The moment he saw this, the balance in Todd's mind tipped significantly.
Jamal: "What was that thing that just fell from the sky!? A flying dragon! From where!?"
Jamal: "Are you listening to me, Todd! What about us? Shouldn't we be backing General Arakiya! Hey! Listen to me…"
Todd: "...Shut up, Jamal."
Jamal, whose voice roughened at the change in the situation, gasped on Todd's words. Without acknowledging Jamal any further, Todd didn’t look away from the scene in City Hall. The woman in the red dress who had suddenly appeared was facing Arakiya head-on. He knew at a glance, that woman also belonged to the side of the talented, far beyond from normal people.
Natsumi, having managed to survive what seemed to be a desperate situation, made Todd keenly aware of the fact that he also had something to offer. A form of "talent" that was different from combat power or luck.
Before the Red Woman intervened, Arakiya alone would have been enough to make up the difference. However, the situation had changed, and no resolution was in sight. Would the weight of Todd and Jamal be enough to tip the scales back in their direction?
Todd: "Don't move, Jamal... There’s nothing you can do right now."
The odds were against them, and the longer Todd watched, the worse it got. Todd knew Jamal's anger was getting the better of him, but it’d be a waste of time to act now. After all…
Todd: "Because right now, First ClassGeneral Arakia has just been beaten."
The Red Woman's blade had struck her in the back, as she fell helplessly to the ground. The balance was broken, and it would never tilt the other way again.
Arakiya collapsed, and the situation in City Hall came to an end. This time, the fortified city of Guaral had completely fallen into the hands of the enemy. There was no way to recover from this. The Second Ranked of the Nine Divine Generals had just been defeated, and there was no way that other reinforcements would come rushing in.
The Nine Divine Generals were mighty warriors, the pinnacle of the Vollachia Empire's military might.
Their strength of the Nine Divine Generals was the same as a large army, there was no chance of the Empire dispatching two or three large armies to deal with a single situation. This was the end. The balance had been tipped. The only thing left to do was to find a way to deal with the withdrawal that would come next.
Todd: "What to do, huh?"
In the shadows of the building where he had watched City Hall go down, Todd pondered quietly. In all honesty, he was seething with a mixture of anger and frustration, but letting it out wouldn't solve anything. Now that the reason for his return was gone, the smart thing to do would be to get the hell out of there. However…
Jamal: "Oi, Todd... you're not planning to run away, are you?"
He couldn't find any words to persuade Jamal, who had a blue vein popping from his forehead.
Initially, persuading Jamal had been painstaking, even right after the fall, when the flag of City Hall was burned.
And yet, at that moment, it was still easy to guide Jamal's emotions. He put away his drawn sword, reluctant as he was, Todd had still managed to make him obey. However, it was not going to happen this time, as Jamal was forced to pull out his blade again. Even if Todd told him to put away his blade and turn around quietly again, he would not listen.
In fact, depending on what was said next, he might turn the point of the blade he pulled out against Todd. If that happened, there would be no reason to not kill Jamal. Being his future brother-in-law, killing him would be the least favored path. Also, if he didn’t bring him back safely, he wouldn’t be able to keep the promise he had made.
Todd: "Let's go with that."
Todd: "… I understand how you feel. But you need to calm down. Now that the First Class General Arakiya has been defeated, there's no chance for us to win even if we go in. Do you want to make your sister sad by dying in vain?"
He tried to persuade him using the love of family as a shield. As soon as he stared at his opponent, hoping that this would work, an arm quietly stretched out and grabbed him by the chest. Then, with a grunt, the wild-eyed Jamal bared his fangs as he drew Todd toward his face.
Jamal: "Hey, if you think I'm going to back off anytime you mention Katya, you're definitely wrong."
Todd: "I see... Too bad."
Shaking his head loosely, Todd announced his disappointment rather sincerely. If it made Jamal feel any better to get a couple of hits in on him, Todd would allow it, but Jamal didn't seem to have any intention of doing that, as he clicked his tongue and pushed Todd away.
There was nothing Jamal could do at City Hall, but there was no way to stop him. As it was, Todd turned to face Jamal, and thought about climbing over the wall of the citadel.
Fortunately, he had already grasped the geography of the city when they were trying to find any secret paths. They didn't achieve their goal, but Arakiya did manage to create some confusion. In fact, it would be easier to escape than before Arakiya's arrival. Apparently, Jamal would be making one more rampage to get himself noticed.
Todd: "Jamal, I'm sorry, but I'm leaving. I’ll say it again, but you probably won’t listen: you’ll die like a dog. Even if you go in there, you won't be able to kill them all..."
Jamal: "You idiot! I'm not going to do something I can't do! I'm going to rescue First Class General Arakiya."
He expected a meaningless sentimentality, however, Jamal pulled out some unexpected words instead. Todd stopped in his tracks and stared at Jamal’s face, of whom slurred out a "What?"
Jamal: "Did you really think I was going to go in there with my head held high?"
Todd: "Yes, I did. I thought you wanted to die like a dog."
Jamal: "Cut the crap! I'm taking advantage of your clever thinking, but I've got a brain to think for myself too! I can tell the difference between what I can and can’t do."
Jamal seriously surprised Todd with his unexpected statement. There were some accomplishments to be seen in his wartime experience, but other than that, he was so direct and unsophisticated that Todd thought he was a man who didn’t know what thinking was supposed to be.
Jamal: "It can’t be helped if you're a coward, I guess Katya wasn’t a good judge of character. I'm going to rescue the First Class General. She's got a nice ass."
Todd: "...Wait, I'm coming with you."
Jamal: "Oh!? Don’t tell me, you’re not satisfied with Katya’s ass…?"
Todd: "I didn't mean to go along with your suicidal mission, but if it’s not that, it's a different story."
Not dealing with the disgraceful allegations, Todd sealed Jamal's mouth with his palm. Forcing him to shut up, Todd assembled a schedule of actions that followed the change of plans in his mind. Usually, it was not in Todd's nature to do things on the spur of the moment. Sadly, however, the more time he spent with Jamal, the more experience he gained in the field of improvisation.
If Jamal was going to break his balls on his own to retake City Hall, he would have left him alone. But if his goal was to retake Arakiya, that was a different story.
The situation in City Hall was slowly clearing up. The only thing to watch out for was Natsumi and the Red Woman. It would be suicide to take action in their presence. However, it didn't mean that their enemy had been able to resolve the situation unscathed either. If they forgot to maintain vigilance, there would be an opportunity to take advantage of.
Jamal: "I'm going to go in and make a scene. If we take advantage of that opportunity and rescue the First Class General…"
Todd: "I was impressed earlier, but that's all gone now. There are two people we need to be wary of. You must avoid doing anything around them. What? There’s no need to worry."
Todd's lips loosened as he looked at Jamal from a distance through his fingers, as he chided him for this barbaric distraction. He poked his white canine tooth with the tip of his tongue and smirked.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Arakiya being taken, even though she was dying. If she was not dead, there was a way to get her out.
...It was easy to sneak into City Hall.
After all, it was where they had originally been based, even for a short time. Todd usually had a habit of grasping the geography and layout of any place he stopped by, even on the first visit. He didn't feel safe unless he had an idea of where to run or hide. That was why, after the camp was burned in Buddheim Forest and he entered Guaral, he visited every part of the city, including City Hall, and constructed a mental map.
He knew where to kill to avoid being seen and where to hide to avoid detection. No matter where and what kind of threats they would encounter, he always had a way to kill and a way to escape.
As he snuck inside City Hall, he crushed a few watchmen here and there. It was not the Imperial Guard or the People of Shudrak standing guard, but guards of the local government hat had been conducting the security of the city. They were called in as guards to protect City Hall, and they were used by the rebels who had brought it down.
Jamal: "I'm not gonna show you any mercy at all."
Jamal spat in annoyance as he snapped someone's neck backward in a two-handed grip. Jamal was more proud of being an Imperial soldier than an Imperial aristocrat. His anger towards the guards who were cooperating with the rebels that were fighting against the Empire was immeasurable. They had been cooperating with the Imperial soldiers before the fall of the city, so it was understandable that he would be angry at how quickly things had changed.
Todd: "Well, it's not an idea I have."
He only killed them because he had to, and if he didn't have to, he would have not. They couldn't be blamed for switching sides so quickly if they were just following the stronger side to survive. Of course, they had to pay for their wrong decision with their life.
So, Jamal and him proceeded to their destination while eliminating the guards who were in their way.
There was a prison in the basement of City Hall, and it was customary for criminals who were awaiting trial by the city mayor to be placed there. It was highly likely that Arakiya, who was taken prisoner, was also held captive there.
Naturally, an iron cell is no better than a cage made of tin against someone from the Nine Divine Generals, but even so, you can't just be giving them all the hospitality of a guest room. Todd might’ve also done so, but…
Jamal: "There she is, the First Class General."
In the underground space downstairs, several cells were placed on either side of the hall. The lesser criminals were placed in order from the front, but the most dangerous ones were securely at the far end. Naturally, the cell at the far end, where Arakiya was kept, was heavily guarded. Unlike before, the person standing in front of it was not a guard, but a Shudrak woman. She was a large woman with yellow-dyed hair, and he could tell with just a glance that she was very skilled. In addition, due to the layout, it was impossible to reach Arakiya's cell without being detected by the woman. In other words...
Jamal: "I guess that's the end of our little sneaking around."
Todd: "… You, why do you look so happy?"
It was hard to understand Jamal's happy attitude when an inevitable battle was right in front of them. Todd didn't want to kill, and he didn't want to fight if he could help it. If both were inevitable, he would choose the easier and less dangerous way.
Yet Jamal looked as if he enjoyed jumping into danger. He was probably thinking that the more dangerous it was, the more blood he would shed, and the more loyalty he would show to the Empire.
Jamal: "It's obvious, isn't it? Fight like an Imperial soldier and win the war! Only then can I be proud to say that I am an Imperial soldier."
Jamal: "Oi, what are you surprised about?"
Todd: "No, it was almost exactly what I thought it would be."
It was rare to find a person whose words and deeds were so consistent. Jamal looked uncomfortable at Todd's answer, but quickly shook his head. Then he traced his fingers through his stubble and snorted.
Jamal: "Ah. Well then, you're the one who's having second thoughts, aren't you?"
Todd: "I can't go along with a suicide mission. If it’s not that, I'll think about it. I'm not having second thoughts."
Jamal: "You were trying to escape, but you didn't."
Todd: "I decided to bring back a souvenir while I was on the run. The plan hasn't changed."
Jamal: "You say this and you say that…"
Jamal gritted his teeth angrily, his eye bloodshot. With that look on his face, Todd detached his attention from him and focused on the target at hand.
The woman standing guard was thick, and her limbs were protected by a reasonable amount of flesh. Given a Shudrak's athletic ability, even Todd's axe might not be able to hit a fatal single blow. Inevitably, then, the sweet spot would be from the neck up. There were options of smashing her head, decapitating her, or splitting her face, but…
Jamal: "This is where I come in, isn't it?"
With that, Jamal foolishly stepped forward. Todd wondered for a moment if he should call it off, but in the end he didn't say anything. In fact, the best move would be to push Jamal into action, get her attention, and then proceed from there. It would save a lot of trouble, and if he was willing to do it, there was no need to discourage him.
Holly: "Mmmm, who are you, nooo?"
Jamal: "Do I have to answer that? You people have defiled the Sword Wolf of the Vollachia Empire. Don't you dare think you've won on a battlefield while I wasn't there!"
Holly: "A strange guy is here, nooo!"
Looking at Jamal, who had advanced into the hall, the Shudrak woman held a large spear at her side. On the other hand, Jamal, who was facing her, drew his twin swords and danced with a maniacal smile on his face. Jamal has had his fair share of problems, but his abilities were well known. At the very least, as long as his opponent was a single member of the Shudrak, he would not fall short.
Jamal: "Take this! And this! And this!"
Holly: "...Tch! You're a strong guy, nooo!"
The raging twin swords slashed toward the Shudrak woman countless times while Jamal barked in a loud voice. The woman dodged them with her spear-handling, but she was on the defensive. She must have been someone with a certain level of skill to keep an eye on Arakiya. But she hadn't expected anyone to show up to retake their prisoner as soon as she was placed there. Additionally, the lack of reliable troops was also a critical flaw for the rebels.
Todd: "Nevertheless, they are not useful assets at the moment."
Moistening his lips with his tongue, Todd leapt out from behind Jamal and jumped straight toward the cell, passing by the two of them as they fiercely clashed weapons with sparks flying.
Holly: "Ah! His comrade... Kya!"
Jamal: "Do you have time to look around? Ah!"
With the help of the unusually witty Jamal, Todd slammed his axe into the lock of the cell with all his might. There was no time to look for the key. He couldn't destroy the cell, but he could at least break the lock.
There was a dull sound and a hard response, and the tip of the axe cracked loudly. But instead, the lock of the cell broke with a flourish, and Todd jumped in past the creaking door.
Todd: "First Class General Arakiya!"
Inside the cell, a girl lay face down upon a simple bed. Even if they belonged to the same Imperial Army, a mere Soldier would not have many opportunities to meet a General. Even a Third Class General was a commander of an army. A Second Class General, let alone a First Class General, would be something from above the clouds. Therefore, this was the first time that Todd had seen one of the First Class Generals, one of the Nine Divine Generals up close.
The reason why the unconscious Arakiya was lying on her face was because of the slash she received on her back. The wound was cauterized at the same time it was received, becoming a horrible scar... If she hadn't been scratched by a hot blade, she wouldn't have gotten this kind of wound.
Todd: "That Red Woman, what did she…?"
That woman was no ordinary person, and the power of that ornate sword she held was also extraordinary. There were no further details, and Arakiya did not answer when called. So Todd had no choice but to pick up Arakiya's body and ran straight out of the cell.
Todd: "I got her! Jamal, let's go!"
Holly: "I'm not going to let you… Auch!"
Jamal: "That's why! Looking away again! Don't you dare Neeeee..tch!"
The Shudrak woman’s mind was momentarily distracted as Arakiya was taken away. In a moment, Jamal jumped at the woman like a flash with his twin swords. She immediately held her large spear vertically to prevent it, but the impact ripped the spear from the woman's arm, and Jamal's backward kick pierced her unguarded torso as she jumped.
The woman let out a small scream as her body slammed into the wall. The woman's head hit the ground hard and then she fell motionlessly limp. Looking over at her, Todd was about to order Jamal to finish her, but…
Todd: "Hey, there's a commotion upstairs. Did they find the body of the guard?"
Jamal: "Oi, we can't linger. The First Class General is..."
Todd: "She's unconscious, but she's not dead. That should be enough."
Answering Jamal's question in a straightforward manner, Todd ran out of the dungeon. Jamal, who was ahead of him, was in charge of clearing the way for Todd, who easily overtook him.
Guard: "Who in the world… gua!"
Jamal: "Get out of the way, you dimwitted bastards!"
The guard who looked into the basement was blown away by the slash, and Todd ran through City Hall behind Jamal as he became increasingly alert. Unfortunately, he didn't have time to care for Arakiya's body when he picked her up. If she was one of the Nine Divine Generals, her body would probably be strong enough though. He just had to trust his endurance and run.
Jamal: "We're outside! Where are we going?
Todd: "The main gate is closed. …Follow me."
Stitching his way through the dark and tumultuous night of the city, Todd jumped into the back alleys with Jamal. He made full use of the narrow streets and side roads to mislead the enemy who was chasing his whereabouts. The battle had just ended, the chaos was still raging, and there were at least three hundred identically dressed Imperial soldiers in the city. It was hard to tell them apart. All that was left was…
The moment he heard the sound of wind, a blade swung right behind Todd. Feeling the thick shaft of an arrow land under his foot, he turned around to see that Jamal had reacted instinctively to cut it off midair before it found Todd as its mark.
It was a precise shot aimed at the two who were running and hiding in the city. It was no doubt the same shooter who had shot Todd in the torso a few days ago.
… They were being watched.
If that was the case, they couldn’t move carelessly. If they left the alley, that would make them an easy target, and Todd, with Arakiya in tow, would have difficulty moving with agility. Even if he tried to kill the archer, the enemy's position was at City Hall… and there was no option but to return there for the third time.
So, should they abandon Arakiya and run away? That would be the most likely way to save themselves, but if that was the case, they would not know what they were risking their lives for to begin with. In light of the current situation, he searched for an optimal way to take action, and the one that would yield the most results was…
Todd: "... Jamal, you know we’re being targeted."
Jamal: "Yeah, they're a pain in the ass. They're too far away for me to kill them, but if we don't, they'll just shoot at us one way or another. What should we do?"
Todd: "Then, there's only one way..."
Jamal narrowed his eye at Todd's words. To Jamal's gaze that sought a solution, Todd exhaled deeply and closed one eye,
Todd: "As soon as we jump out, the enemy is going to shoot at us. I'll have you get ahead of me and cut off their arrows just like before. Not just one shot, but two or three will follow. I'll run as fast as I can so I don't shake the First Class General off."
Jamal: "Huh, that doesn't sound like you. That's really your move?"
Todd: "Ultimately, that's what happens when you run out of cards. But I'm still lucky, aren't I?"
Jamal: "Huh? What do you mean?
Todd: "You have a pretty strong hand left, you know."
The strategy he presented was almost entirely based on Jamal's swordsmanship. If Jamal couldn't cut off the flying arrows, they would both die... It was insane, given Todd's beliefs, to risk his life in such a reckless manner. However, he suggested it. If it was Jamal's swordsmanship, the odds weren’t zero.
Jamal: "… I knew Katya wasn't a good judge of character. I thought you were smarter than that."
Todd: "Don't talk bad about my fiancé, Onii-sama."
Todd replied to Jamal scratching his head, his cheeks twisted. Hearing this, Jamal let out a short "Ha" and then gripped the hilts of his twin swords. Then he turned his imposing back to Todd.
Jamal: "Okay, I'm in. Sometimes a stupid bet isn't so bad."
Todd: "If I wasn't here, you'd probably be making all those types of bets."
Jamal: "You shut up... Shut up and stay behind my back."
Jamal's spirits quietly rose as they exchanged hateful words. Watching his back, Todd resumed his hold on Arakiya's body.
Todd: "Jamal, when you get out of the alley, run straight. When you get to the end of the next alley, take the right road. That should give you enough room to catch your breath."
Hearing these instructions, Jamal ruminated on them in his head, slowly closed his eyes, then opened them once more and stepped forward.
As soon as he stepped out of the alley, one of the arrows clad in a gale pierced toward Jamal. Jamal responded to it with amazing reflexes, and cut it off with his twin swords together. The impact returned to Jamal's wrist, and his clenched teeth chattered as he laughed like a rabid dog.
The sensation of blood burning, heart leaping, and life boiling overtook Jamal.
His extreme concentration made the world slow down, and he felt as if he could feel every drop of sweat that ran down his skin, every grain of sand that flew around, and even the existence of air that should have been invisible.
One after another, a storm of arrows poured down like rain. As he stepped on the ground and danced, he swung his sword, slicing the arrows and striking them down. What ensued was a sword dance, the sword dance of Jamal Aurelie.
If things had gone well, they would have been able to enjoy the dance of the dancer who had been invited to City Hall.
Jamal laughed at the thought that he was the one dancing instead. But it was a dance with all his heart, a dance with all his body, a sword fight with all his energies.
Todd also marveled at Jamal's efforts as he furiously handled the attack. Todd followed without raising his voice as a storm of lethal arrows rained down on him. This was a sign that he knew that if Jamal was distracted, it would directly lead to his death. So Todd pushed Jamal away from his consciousness and focused all his energy on avoiding the impending death.
Straight ahead, evade, strike off, step in, jump, dispel, and cut open.
Jamal: "End of the corridor!"
Miraculously, they finished the straight path of death and hit the end of the indicated path. The passage of time was vague, and the sword dance must have been only several seconds, even if it felt like it lasted for hours. But they had only broken through the first barrier. Refusing to relax, Jamal did as he was told and turned right at the end of the road, where…
…At the end of the broken path, there was a group of Shudrak standing in the way, pointing their spears at them.
It would be difficult to handle that many Shudrak with that archer aiming at them. One could say it was impossible. He was prepared to fight hard until he ran out of steam, but even if he did, he won't be able to have any of it left. He had no idea that he would be so perfectly anticipated, and it seemed that luck had completely abandoned him.
Jamal: "Even if you fool around with this and that, in the end, luck will run out on you. .....Heh, it's in vain. But, it wasn't all that bad."
Checking the feel of the twin swords in his bloodied hands, Jamal spilled this out to Todd behind him. It wasn't bad at all, he said, and he meant it.
In many ways, Todd's thoughts and actions had been overwhelming and frustrating. In the end, however, he chose to exert himself like an Imperial soldier.
Jamal: "I'm sorry about Katya, but it can't be helped. She's a petty member of the Imperial nobility. I'm sure she was prepared for this to happen to you and me."
Thinking of the sister he had left behind in the Imperial City, Jamal felt a faint tingle in his chest. However, it was soon drowned out by the will to fight the enemy in front of him, and the smell of blood that coated everything. He was relieved when that happened. …He was, to the bone, a Sword Wolf of the Vollachia Empire.
Jamal: "Let's do this, Todd. Let's at least show them what we're made of, for one last time."
Leaning forward, Jamal licked the blood from his right eye, which was covered by an eye patch. Then, fiercely, he jumped headlong into the enemy to show his final prestige as an Imperial soldier.
Deadly attacks rained down on him like a storm, but he no longer had any regrets. The fact that he was able to be himself until the very end was the greatest prize for Jamal.
Todd: "… You were a fool until the very end, weren't you?"
Todd muttered as he dove through the wall, hearing Jamal's fierce roar in the distance. The hole he passed through was immediately smashed, and he carefully erased all traces of his presence, so that he could not be pursued. The city would probably be occupied with Jamal for a while, so there should be time to escape.
It was just like Jamal said. Todd would never trust his life to a desperate plan, even if he were dead... No, he would never do such a thing precisely to avoid dying.
Todd: "If I let them chase you out of the alley, they'll be distracted from me. Well, I feel sorry for Katya..."
The promise to bring back his brother-in-law would not be fulfilled, and his fiancé would be terribly heartbroken. In order to comfort her, he wanted to return to the Imperial Capital as soon as possible.
Fortunately, in return for losing Jamal, he was able to find another way to return to the capital.
And it was a demon card that could lead to a much bigger foothold than Jamal's current one, which was being on the verge of promotion to Third Class General.
Arakiya: "… Princess."
Todd: "Oh dear, you look so innocent. Even so, if you're one of the Nine Divine Generals, then the number of people you've killed would be more than a hundred or two."
In Todd's arms, Arakiya's tears flowed from her closed eyes. As he watched the tears roll down her cheeks, Todd vaguely thought that his current companion was wearing an eye patch, just like his previous one. After thinking about it, Todd suddenly tilted his head.
Todd: "On which side did Jamal have that eyepatch?"