His family of the Four Great Noble Houses take pride in their treasured necromancy and the clan symbol, the Demon Eyes known as the『Amethyst Gaze』; he had no talent in either of them.
For as long as Saeed could remember, he was branded as a failure, and even his parents took no notice of him.
He had no sword skills, no magic skills and a small physique – in fact, his body was weak and in poor health. On top of that, you could not even consider him as intelligent.
Saeed, who turned away from both fighting and studies, turned to art.
「Art is wonderful because I don’t need physical strength, mana or intelligence; I just need my own sense of self!」
Fortunately for Saeed, who had a single-minded passion for art, his clan accepted it.
It was a far better alternative to letting him dishonor the clan, and because he was a noble, he had a deep understanding of art.
However, his greatest passion, the one he devoted himself to, was the traditional sculpting of crystal statues.
The people of his clan pitied Saeed, who fervently carved masses of amethyst, shined and polished them.
As a noble born with no talent, surely Saeed longed for the clan’s highest honor, the 『Amethyst Gaze』.
Everyone thought that.
No matter how Saeed himself tried to deny it to himself, the amethysts’ shine left a deep impression on his mind.
If you were a member of the Hydra clan, just by looking – merely by looking! – you could create these beautiful crystals.
And so, Saeed created them. Sculptures of amethyst that only he could create.
He did have talent.
However, that only a tiny amount, just barely above mediocrity, as if given to him by the Black Gods of the Pandora continent out of pity.
You could count the sculptures he had sold on two hands, and the sculptures he had managed to have set up on display on one hand. His limited success slowly ate away at Saeed’s thoughts, causing him to doubt himself.
「Do I not have talent...? Do I not have anything...?」
Saeed questioned himself the same questions so many times that he no longer knew how many times he had repeated them, staring blankly at his crystal sculpture set up on display in a corner of the museum.
He wanted to give up on art, but at the same time, he could not bring himself to give up.
No matter how much he was faced with the reality of his lack of talent, art had taken such a hold of him that he could not bring himself to throw it all away.
If I were to stop art, what would be left for me? What can I do? What could I take pride in?
There is『nothing.』This was what Saeed feared more than anything.
It’s not enough, you can’t do this, it’s impossible, it’s useless, you’re incompetent – Saeed, who had continuously been told these things ever since he was born, needed something he could be proud of.
One thing would have been enough, if he had just one thing he could be proud of, he could hold his head high and live on with pride, but...
「I should just d–」
「Hello. You’re always hanging around here, aren’t you?」
Just when he was about to utter his final decision, someone called out to him unexpectedly.
It was the voice of a young woman – no, a girl.
「This crystal sculpture, do you like it? 」
「Eh, uh... Yeah...」
She was a lovely girl. To Saeed, having lived as a noble, her face and figure was not as attractive as the noblewomen he had met until now.
But she had a simple charm to her, as if she was a flower growing in a field.
When was the last time I had spoken to such a beautiful girl – no, such a person?
Saeed struggled with his words as he told her that he had created the sculpture.
「Really! I also love this sculpture, it’s the best thing here!」
Her smile was so dazzling, Saeed averted his gaze.
As if he had looked directly into the sun; as if he had glared at by Demon Eyes; without thinking, instinctively.
But it wasn’t a bad thing.
「Eh... Re-really...? 」
「Ehh! Why are you lying? Surely you’re here looking at it like this because you really like it? 」
He wondered, what was this excitement overflowing from his chest?
No, that excitement was actually overflowing from his whole body. From his eyes that were the proof that he was useless, the eyes that he truly hated. The eyes whose only redeeming feature was the beautiful purple colour of their pupils.
Saeed was crying.
It was the first time in his life that his talent had been recognized.
Everyone had viewed him and his creations with pity.
The only reason he had sold any sculptures, and had a sculpture displayed here was that he bore the Hydra name.
But on this day, she appeared. A person who acknowledged his sculptures and said that she liked them.
He couldn’t contain his feelings.
While desperately hiding his tear-stained face, with a trembling voice, he managed to find words to speak.
「Th... this sculpture... I... Made it. 」
「Ehh! Really! That’s amazing! 」
And so Saeed met this girl, the only person in the world who understood him.
「Saeed-sensei, good afternoon!」
「G-good afternoon... But calling me sensei is a bit embarrass–」
「Why not? Sensei is sensei!」
The two of them quickly became friends.
First Saeed taught her about his own artwork, then about crystal sculptures, and, soon enough, about art as a whole.
Though she was a commoner, she had an expectedly deep knowledge about art. Sometimes, she surprised even Saeed, who had been immersed in the world of art for a long time.
The two of them never ran out of things to talk about. From ancient artifacts to brilliant crystal sculptors who left their names in history, the art world had a very long and deep history to discuss.
And then she would be sidetracked from the topic of art and tell her own stories.
What she had for dinner yesterday night, where she went shopping, how she tripped on her way over here today; stories about her everyday life.
But before Saeed knew it, he came to enjoy such conversations.
He wanted to know her, he wanted to know even more about her.
At that moment – no, since the day he met her, he had fallen in love with her.
「I want to make a statue with you as the model.」
That was his indirect way of confessing.
「Ehh, me?! Th-that’s... But I’m not really that pretty –」
「No, it can’t be anyone but you!」
Encouraged by his enthusiasm, she nodded. Her white cheeks became as red as apples.
From that day, Saeed forgot about food and sleep and began his work with the amethyst.
It was as if he had just awakened to the beauty of art – no, he worked with fervor, hope and passion beyond that, as if he had ignited his soul.
And, with perfect timing, there was a competition coming up.
If this ultimate creation takes a top place – no, first place – I will tell her my true feelings, he swore to himself.
「I love you, please marry me.」
「I feel the same way, please take good care of me.」
The competition, the confession, the proposal – Everything went smoothly.
It was like destiny.
It was as if all of his good fortune had accumulated during all of the darkest days of his past for the purpose of granting his wish, on this day, in this moment.
However, if that was true, he would have no good fortune left from the next day.
At the time it wasn’t clear how much misfortune this would bring him, but misfortune it did bring.
「You can’t accept my marriage?! Wh-what the hell are you saying!」
Whether this situation would turn out to be good or bad fortune would prove itself to be a complicated question.
A marriage between the son of a noble family and a commoner girl born in some unknown place was not something that would easily be allowed. This was common knowledge to both nobles and commoners.
However, Saeed had not thought about this until this day.
Until now his head had been filled with nothing but thoughts of the beloved girl, and completing his sculpture.
「Ahh, is that so? Fine, that’s fine, I don’t need the Hydra family name anymore!」
Saeed had no hesitation in overcoming this unexpected obstacle.
In his heart, he now had something much more important than his status as a noble – the one thing that gave him his reason to live, the one thing that gave him something to be proud of.
He made his decision quickly, and immediately declared it.
Saeed Maya Hydra, on that day, cut off his ties with his clan and became just Saeed.
Now nothing would come between the two.
Now they were to begin a new life as lovers – no, as husband and wife.
And in fact, nobody opposed the two.
If any problems were to arise now, they would now be problems between him and her, the man to become her husband and the woman to become his wife.
「You were... exiled from the Hydra house?」
She asked him in surprise.
Saeed replied proudly, as if to declare that this was the proof of his love.
「Ahh, now you and I are both commoners, so we can get married without worrying about any–」
「Are you fucking retarded?!」
The words that came out of her mouth were not those of joy, but of anger. It would be no exaggeration to say that she was absolutely furious.
「I can’t believe this, ahh, you idiot, IDIOT! You scum, trash, incompetent bastard! Damn it all, shit, shit, SHIT! Who the fuck told you that you could leave your clan! You’re worthless except for that, your Hydra family name!」
Saeed could not understand what she was saying.
Who is this? Who is this furiously angry person in front of his eyes?
This person who is trying to lifting me into the air by the chest, baring her teeth and spitting saliva everywhere, going on a rampage... Who could this person possibly be?
「Don’t fuck with me, how long do you think I’ve had to endure being with a shitty, disgusting nerd like you? If you’re not a noble, then what the hell have I been going through this for?! AHH!」
He doesn’t know her, this woman, this crazy woman, he doesn’t know her.
This is some dream or illusion; her real self should appear anytime now.
「W... Why are you saying such things? I... I love you so much.」
「You think I need your love?! What I want is money, status, honor, everything the higher nobles have. Someone like you doesn’t even have any appeal as a man, don’t think so highly of yourself, you trash!」
Her eyes, her smile that was as bright as the sun – no, everything was a lie. Now that her true personality was exposed, it was showing contempt far more ruthless than anyone, even the Hydra clan members who had looked upon him with pity.
This can’t be true, this can’t be true. Saeed denies it.
This isn’t the real her, it’s a fake, a forgery.
「That’s... a l-lie, right?」
「This is the first time I’m telling you the truth. You know, I hate people like you the most in the world.」
「Y-you’re lying, you’re lying, you’re lying, you’re lying! That has to be a lie, I really love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, so –」
His second attempt at a confession of love was cut short.
「Shut the hell up.」
「I love – eh?」
A burning sensation ran through his abdomen – then the pain that assaulted his senses after caused Saeed to collapse to his knees, unable to speak.
The pain of being stabbed in the stomach with a knife, was so much that he could not even let out a cry.
「I fucking hate you, but I knew what made you happy. Do you know how I knew?」
As she asks, she pulls the knife out and fresh blood flows freely from the wound.
「My father... He was an artist.」
As she said that, she turned her back on him and he couldn’t see her expression.
「He was just a commoner, but he was obsessed with art, which didn’t earn us a single damn Klan... A good for nothing father who just did as pleased and left nothing behind but debt when he died. 」
As she turned back towards him, her eyes were clouded with the same look of contempt.
It was uncertain whether that contempt was directed at the now blood-covered Saeed, or her dead father.
And then, she picked up in her hand an axe for chopping wood.
「He died worrying only about his stupid self-satisfaction!」
Expecting the blade of the axe, he instead felt the hard sole of her boot as she kicked him.
「It must be nice being a noble, having such a carefree lifestyle where you can just play around, worrying about useless shit instead of money! There’s no way you could possibly imagine the lifestyle of a whore who had to open her legs to scum for spare change to get by!」
Saeed rolled onto his back, coughing up blood.
「Don’t look at me like that, why are you looking at me like you’re the most unfortunate person in the world!」
Then, another kick from her dirt-covered boot hit him like a mace blow.
「Do you get it? Do you fucking get it now? The most unfortunate person in the world is me, the trash of society!」
She kicked and stomped the fatally-wounded Saeed mercilessly, and it wasn’t long before he became unable to move at all.
「So before you die, at least be of some use to me! Since you love me so much, right? GYAHAHAHAHAHA!」
As he looks up with hollow eyes, Saeed sees the imposter that looks like the woman he loved, her face twisted in a smile as she raises the axe.
「Where... Where is... The woman I love...?」
He wondered where she had gone.
Why had she suddenly disappeared?
This was the only thing he could think of to explain this reality.
In this moment, for him, his thoughts were the truth and reality was an illusion.
The real woman that he loved was like the crystal sculptures he had created. She was always cheerful and bright; she was an innocent girl.
The axe swung down and hit Saeed’s neck perfectly.
The rusty blade sank straight into his Adam’s apple, but with her thin arms, the single blow was not enough to cut through completely.
Taking no notice of the blood splatters, she continued swinging the axe wildly.
Twice, three times, four times – with each impact of the axe blade, the thick neck bones were cracked, broken and crushed, until finally the blade cut all the way through.
「Making me waste so much effort, this piece of shit...」
She picks up Saeed’s severed head by its messy purple hair.
Looking into the wide-open purple eyes, she laughs.
「Even though they’re failures, they’re real Demon Eyes... If I’m lucky, they might sell for a million Klan each, haha, AHAHAHAHAHA!」
A voice filled the air.
「Give... her... BACK!」
It came from the decapitated head she was holding.
Before she could fully realise what was happening, she died.
The last thing she saw was a blinding purple flash of light.
「AAHH! Give her back, give her back! GIVE HER BAAAAAAACK! I LOVE HER SO MUUUUUUCH!」
In front of Saeed’s eyes was a crystal statue, matching the shape of her body perfectly.
However, this statue of her in her most despicable form could be called nothing but an ugly creation.
Crying tears of blood, Saeed let out a scream of despair. As if in response to his scream, cracks began to form in the clear, purple crystal statue of the girl.
And in the next instant, it shattered and crumbled.
「GIVE HER BAAAAAAAAAACK! UAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!」
Saeed, now just a decapitated head, continued to scream, longing for his lost lover, a woman who was nothing but a fantasy.
Ahh, I see now. From the start, his true form was just a decapitated head.
Regardless of the fact that he had been decapitated – an unmistakably fatal injury – Saeed’s Demon Eyes shine. As I look into their light, I understand what has happened.
This huge, muscular body had probably been forcibly attached to the head and manipulated by Necromancy or something.
Now that I look closely, there are clear stitch-marks left around his neck.
However, I realised this just a single crucial moment too late.
Severe pain – no, some foreign sensation – runs up my right arm.
Even though it’s a part of my body, it feels like it no longer is – and looking down, it isn’t. From my elbow to my wrist, my arm had been turned into shining purple crystal.
Using the Evil Eater in my unharmed left hand, I block the gaze of the Demon Eyes as they try to crystallize more of my body.
And then I strike the purple, glowing head with the blade.
His face was carved in two, and the cursed light stopped shining from the Demon Eyes as they sank into a pool of blood and brain matter.
「Hah... Hah... What happened the hell happened to my right arm...?」
The pain has stopped, but I’ve completely lost sensation from the elbow down.
My right arm, including the black sleeve of『Diablo’s Embrace』covering it, has been turned into amethyst. If it weren’t for this, the crystallization would have spread past my shoulder onto my torso.
Surprisingly, 「Black Hair Curse『Coffin』」had endured the attack with no damage. Or maybe I should expect as much from cursed armor. Even though I have no feeling in my right hand, the colour of my right glove remains pitch-black.
I hear the Maid’s sad whispering of 「Goshujin-sama...」in my head, and right now I’m a little happy to hear it.
For now, I can’t use my right hand since I’ve lost sensation in it, so I use my left hand to touch the glove and create a black tentacle.
The crystal would shatter at the slightest touch, so I wrap the tentacle around it completely to form a makeshift bandage and cast.
Of course, my right hand had long since lost its grip on the heavy 『Absolute Malice Hatchet「Neck Cutter」』, so I stored it back in the shadows as well as the weapon that had served me very well in this fight, the『Hungering Wolf Sword「Evil Eater」』.
「Damn it, he got me...」
I did win the fight. But I paid too high a price for this victory.
I had lost my right arm, and it was gone forever.
No wait, if I remember correctly, I could regenerate any damaged body parts if I paid enough money.
Well, I’ve experienced having my limbs regenerated during my time at the facility, so it shouldn’t be impossible to achieve in Spada.
Now that I think about it, there is hope; I’m getting 10 million Klans as prize money. I just hope it’s enough to cover the treatment fees...
「The champion of this mortal combat is the Nightmare Berserker, KURONOOO!」
As I come to my senses, the voice of the announcer and the cheers of tens of thousands of spectators fill my ears.
If I were a professional Gladiator, at this point I would be putting on some kind of performance for them, but since I’m nothing more than an adventurer, I don’t feel the need to do so.
Or rather, since my right arm is now useless there’s no way I’d be able to do something like that right now.
For now, I want to go back and rest – no, before that, I need to gather the cursed weapons. It’s a bothersome task, but they are my reward, after all.
Eight Nameless weapons, the naginata with the ability to raise the Undead and – though I’m not sure if I’ll be able to use them – the Demon Eyes of the Hydra house. They’re all valuable items, and it would be a waste to just leave them here.
The crowd’s cheering has become deafening as I start moving to collect the weapons scattered round the arena.
Then, I heard –
I look up to see the figure of an angel, pure white wings outstretched, as she calls my name and descends towards me.
It’s a sight so fantasy-like that I might have thought that I got hit by the Demon Eyes and died. Except, that angel is a face I’m seeing quite often these days.
Nell Julius Elrod, the First Princess of Avalon. And the second friend I’ve made here in Spada.
Oh good, so she made it here without getting lost, I thought as I watched her descend into the arena.