Love Letter From The Future - Chapter 126: The Lord Is With Us (47)
༺ The Lord Is With Us (47) ༻
Mr. Gilford’s spirit as he held his sword was ferocious. His spirit of itself could be considered another weapon.
I had successfully rescued the Saintess with a surprise attack, but I couldn’t guarantee the outcome after that. As I glared at Mr. Gilford, a bead of sweat traveled down my forehead.
There were no openings. Just by looking at how quickly his posture and breathing returned to normal after the initial panic of my hatchet lodged into his wrist subsided, I could tell that he was just on a different level.
The Academy students I faced before looked like helpless children when compared to him.
This was the power of experience.
In terms of skill alone, the Academy students were at a higher level. But there was a reason why they were discriminated against from the rest of the swordsmen with the title of ‘student’.
It was because students were analogous to unripe fruit.
No matter how skilled a student may be, without actual battlefield experience, it was impossible to formulate a quick response to the various variables encountered in real combat.
That was the reason why 4th year students had to battle throughout the entire year in order to gain experience.
Of all the people I’ve battled so far, Senior Delphine and Senior Elsie were the only two people who had a good amount of battle experience. However, both Seniors were nowhere near the skill level of the old swordsman with decades of experience.
Mr. Gilford’s expression was gloomy.
He looked at me for a long while before exhaling a pleading sigh.
“Young Master Ian, can’t you just turn a blind eye once? If I leave this orphanage, all the children here won’t have anywhere to go. They will either end up on the street as vagrants or be exploited and killed by a vicious orphanage director.”
To be honest, the reality of an orphan was unknown to me. Maybe it was better to say that I hadn’t really had a chance to pay attention to the orphans.
Up until now, the only feeling I had towards the orphans was one of compassion. It was lazy for me to perceive them that way. Understanding the suffering of the weak wasn’t something to be done with a simple thought.
Perhaps what Mr. Gilford said was true.
Orphanages on the continent were already packed full. There wasn’t a place that could physically afford to shelter hundreds of orphans. Even if there was, there was a high chance that it wouldn’t be a normal place to live.
Most of the orphans would die or be exploited. In his own way, Mr Gilford was trying his best.
Even so, I couldn’t forgive him.
“…….Let’s finish the rest of the conversation with our swords.”
Hanging the hatchet on my waist, I drew my sword.
My sword was pointed towards Mr. Gilford. He nursed his blood-soaked wrist with a complicated expression, as if I gave him no other choice.
It was simple logic.
No matter how important the hundreds of orphans were, I couldn’t put tens and thousands of lives at risk for them.
The orphans might be first priority for Mr. Gilford, but that wasn’t the case for me.
Mr. Gilford’s choice would cause even more orphans for the future.
At least, in the future that I saw. I raised my sword to prevent that from happening.
The old swordsman’s eyes met with mine. The wound on Mr. Gilford’s wrist had already healed. It seemed like demonic humans had an abnormal regeneration.
As we aimed out weapons at each other while exuding a tragic beauty, I heard a whisper coming from behind my back.
“M- ‘My holy power pouch’… A-are you crazy?!”
It was the Saintess. I unintentionally frowned because her sudden comment broke my focus.
“Do holy power pouches talk nowadays?”
At my criticism, the Saintess’ light pink eyes instantly turned cold.
The way she wiggled her fingers seemed like she wanted to pinch me. However, we both knew that she wouldn’t be able to do so. In the current situation, a small moment of weakness could result in a life or death scenario.
After exchanging an angry look from the Saintess, I couldn’t help but let out a faint laugh. Then I whispered to her.
“Just quickly run away.”
“…….You think you can handle him by yourself?”
“Of course, after you use your holy power.”
She put on a sullen expression as if she knew I would say that. Still, there was no other choice.
I kept getting pushed back by Mr. Gilford even during training. Even if I used more of the skills I knew that I didn’t use back then, it would result in a loss for a long-term battle since I lacked the basics.
That meant I had no choice but to supplement my skills with other elements.
The Saintess recited a prayer and soon, a warm beam of light permeated my body.
It was the Shield of Faith––a strengthening magic that not only boosted strength and agility, but also could block one or two fatal attacks.
It was a high-level spell that was similar to a comprehensive version of holy magic, but for the Saintess to cast it with just a short prayer was incredible.
“…….Okay then, good luck.”
And with that sweet whisper, the Saintess left the room. Even then, Mr. Gilford stood still while calmly staring at me.
He asked softly.
“Are you ready?”
“I guess it’ll be a somewhat fair fight now.”
Just as Mr. Gilford was about to nod to agree with my statement.
My hands threw the hatchet at lightning speed. The high-speed coordinated action of pulling out and throwing my hatchet was so quick that calling it instant would be an understatement.
In a very short amount of time, the hatchet was within reach of Mr. Gilford. However, Mr. Gilford wasn’t one to be taken by another surprise attack like this.
A lightning strike and a beam of light intersected.
A bluish aura hit the hatchet. The hatchet was immediately deflected from its trajectory and spun in the air. In the meantime, I pushed myself off the ground to move.
There were all kinds of furniture and fixtures in the director’s office. It was better to leap over all the obstacles in my way instead of trying to dodge them individually.
But of course, that was probably what Mr. Gilford expected. He was about to raise his sword as if he was waiting for me to make that move, but there was one other issue he had to deal with before attacking me.
The hatchet that was spinning in the air suddenly changed course and came striking down again.
At the trajectory of the hatchet that mimicked a waterfall, Mr. Gilford had to swing his sword once more to avoid getting hit.
The hatchet slammed into the wall with a clear chime. But by then, I had already stepped onto the table.
The downward slash that I put all my strength into landed directly on the flat side of Mr. Gilford’s sword.
With a thud, a heavy impact shook the director’s office. My body was strengthened with my own mana and additionally reinforced with holy power.
Mr. Gilford seemed taken aback by the blow that caused all the dust in the room to rise into the air. His arm trembled under my sword.
I was stronger than Mr. Gilford at the moment. This, I was certain of. The strengthening magic that the Saintess had cast over me was extremely powerful.
“……Your ability to use your hatchet is exceptional.”
“How about my sword skills?”
Although the edges of our sword were screeching against each other, Mr. Gilford and I tried to joke around.
However, both our arms were trembling for a long while. It was proof that he was giving it his all. I had the advantage since I was standing on the table and was able to put some of my weight into my sword.
At my question, Mr. Gilford smiled slightly and replied.
“That, we’ll have to see.”
At the next moment, Mr. Gilford kicked the table I was standing on.
I heard the crack at the same time I saw the table shattering into pieces of wood.
I tried to minimize the shock of the attack by jumping right before he kicked, but I couldn’t move freely while floating in the air.
The only thing I could do was to use my weight and stab at a downwards angle. Mr. Gilford wasn’t someone who wouldn’t be able to predict my next move.
He slipped aside and struck the side of my body with his sword.
The sound of metal hitting metal echoed in the air as sparks flew around us. It wasn’t the sound of flesh and a blade colliding. The true value of the strengthening magic cast by the Saintess was finally displayed in front of me.
Shield of Faith––a shield that blocks one to two fatal blows.
Even so, the shield couldn’t fully shake off the shock inflicted by Mr. Gilford on my body.
The moment I took in a choked breath, my body hit the wall like a cannonball.
I momentarily thought that an earthquake hit the director’s office. Fragments of the ceiling fell to the floor.
My breathing was uneven.
My lungs were punctured.. The muscles that endured his attack contracted and protested in pain.. But there was no time to waste.
I knew that the seasoned swordsman wouldn’t miss this opportunity. I immediately raised my sword vertically and picked myself up, shooting up in the air.
A sharp crash echoed. My posture was incomplete, but I was able to deflect his attack since I currently had the upper hand in physical ability. Two to three more sword strikes followed.
Mr. Gilford was pushed back little by little. I moved from my previous position in the corner to a space right next to the window where the sunlight was pouring in.
I was standing in the centermost area around the corner of the director’s office.
At this point, I decided to make my next move the winning one.
My field of vision weaved through space. As soon as I recognized the solid lines of intertwined space in front of me, I twisted them.
Mr. Gilford’s blade passed me in a strange curve. His eyes widened in bewilderment. And it was in that short span of time.
In that gap, I struck him with all my might.
An explosion of power rang out with a bang. Mr. Gilford managed to defend the side of his body, but he couldn’t avoid staggering to the window.
Just as I saw Mr. Gilford being pushed against the wall, when I was contemplating whether I should push forward or not….
I calmly gave up the follow-up attack and threw my body to pick up my hatchet that had fallen in the corner. I did this because Mr. Gilford was watching me intently.
Something didn’t feel right. If I had tried to land a follow-up attack, I wasn’t sure what sort of tricks he had up his sleeve.
So I threw my hatchet.
The hatchet that I fired in a straight line was effortlessly deflected by Mr. Gilford’s sword and sent flying through the air. However, the hatchet that the old man hit away while stumbling promptly returned to my hand.
I threw the hatchet again.
Throw, deflect, throw.
As I repeatedly threw my hatchet, Mr. Gilford had no time to straighten out his staggering posture. My hatchet drew another trajectory as I closed the distance between us.
Instead of returning to my hand, this time my hatchet struck Mr. Gilford once more.
Mr. Gilford failed to predict the trajectory of my hatchet and groaned, as he barely managed to swing his sword. However, by doing so, his posture collapsed.
It was then that my sword struck his side several times, one after the other.
Bang, bang, bang! A shockwave resounded like an explosion as I pushed Mr. Gilford away. As if I was a lumberjack chopping down trees, I slashed Mr. Gilford’s sword repeatedly while gripping my sword with both hands.
In the past, when my mana was lacking, I had been beaten by Seria in the same way. So I knew the effects of this attack very well.
I knew how hard it was to endure a series of blows powered solely by one’s strength.
He staggered and collapsed, before crashing into the wall. In the end, the window shattered and Mr. Gilford’s body flew through the air.
It was the open field outside. I picked up the hatchet on the ground and threw it out the window, then immediately jumped over the window frame to chase after Mr. Gilford.
However, the moment I faced Mr. Gilford in the empty field outside the director’s office I had no choice but to close my mouth shut.
My hatchet was lodged into Mr. Gilford’s nape, who had somehow managed to stagger to the center of the field.
He should have died instantly but his strong body showed no signs of falling to the floor.
I raised my hand in silence.
The hatchet stuck in the nape of Mr. Gilford’s neck returned to my hand. I was already accustomed to the principles of Movement within Stillness.
The old swordsman looked up at the sky without saying a word. The sun shone directly into his eyes, but he didn’t even flinch.
He opened his mouth slowly.
“…….It was a long time ago. There was a time when I collapsed and closed my eyes after starving for several days in the Verdant Sanctuary.”
“I recall you telling me this before.”
Mr. Gilford let out a weak laugh as his eyes scanned the ground.
No, perhaps he was reminiscing about a more distant past.
“Young Master Ian, did you know? They come when humans are at their most weak and vulnerable state.”
Just as I was about to ask what he was talking about, it happened.
I heard shouting, then the clash of weapons in the distance. The children’s screams were deafening.
It meant that the battle had begun.
I looked behind me in surprise.
The enemies at hand were hundreds of demonic beasts. No matter how many pairs of hands we had, it wouldn’t be enough to fight them. I had to return quickly.
I instinctively gritted my teeth. Unlike before, I glared at Mr. Gilford with clear hostility.
“…….What have you done?”
“I only did what a demonic human would do.”
I hesitated for a moment.
As long as the frontlines had been formed right now, the possibility of reinforcements coming to help me was slim. I was also the one who told Leto to keep Mr. Gilford’s identity a secret from everyone else.
The Saintess might have gone to share the information with Yuren, but with the demonic beasts swarming us like they were doing now, the chances of him lending me a hand were low.
It was also questionable whether or not they would be able to hold out for a long time in my absence. They had Senior Delphine and Senior Elsie, but I was also a figure who couldn’t be replaced when it came to actual combat.
I had to go back. Right as I had such thoughts while my eyes met with Mr. Gilford’s…
In an instant, an optical illusion made the world go dark.
It was highly dense demonic energy. Such mana that rose like clouds were distorting reality and spreading quickly. A creepy sound of bones breaking rang through the air simultaneously.
Mr. Gilford’s eyes burned a bluish color.
“As I was collapsed on the ground at the Verdant Sanctuary, keuhh… That night I encountered a vampire.”
Crack, crunch, crumble.
Every time I heard the sound of bones and joints twisting, Mr. Gilford spat out groans, as his body twitched in all directions. With each disturbing sound, his body grew larger.
His old clothes tore apart. Muscles swelled and dark brown fur began to grow.
“And at that time… Huuu, I signed a contract. And this, keugh… Is the great power I gained in return.”
“……What did you sacrifice?”
I asked him the question, with faint fear in my voice, before he turned into a complete monster.
The contract to become a demonic human wasn’t simple. You can gain inhumane powers, but you have to offer something in return.
A chilling chuckle leaked from Mr. Gilford’s mouth.
I nervously looked behind me, but it seemed like it was too late to get away from Mr. Gilford’s reach.
In the end, I put the hatchet back on my waist and pointed my sword at Mr. Gilford.
“The vampire brought the corpses of my colleagues in front of me. Told me to satisfy my hunger with them… And I did just that. Oh, how refreshing it was.”
With a whoosh, Mr. Gilford’s arm suddenly stretched out. A long arm that reached below his knee.
His sword was already rolling on the ground. He had no use for it anymore.
Mr. Gilford was no more. There was only a huge demonic beast left, staring at me with its glowing blue eyes.
It was the leader demonic beast that clawed my abdomen.
“Don’t worry too much about your colleagues, Young Master. If you just defeat me, all the others will run away.”
“…….Can I relay that message to my colleagues?”
“I can’t let you do that.”
And with that, the demonic beast raised his arm. A long nail protruded from it.
The demonic beast smiled mischievously. It was a smile that I had seen countless times before while dealing with the monkey beasts.
“One-on-one, fair and square.”
The demonic human finally revealed its true form under the sun.
The wound on its nape was long gone. I felt an ominous suspicion about its regenerative abilities, but I adjusted my posture to fight.
I was pretty sure I was fucked.
A cold sweat ran down my back. I thought to myself, maybe I shouldn’t have bluffed so hard to Leto.