Sergey fled through the night.
It was only half an hour ago that his hotel had been attacked.
Because the building was completely rented out, there were no employees there to fight back, and his guards and attendants had all been killed. On top of that, the illumination magic that normally lit up the streets had completely vanished, so he had no way to get to the knight station.
Why did this have to happen to him? All Sergey could do was feel sorry for himself.
Wherever power was involved, assassination became commonplace. In a storm of people secretly plotting to take each other down, it was not uncommon for people to suddenly go “missing” for seemingly no reason. Even the Knight Army Trials had countless assassins prowling through the city, taking on requests from people who wished to get everything out of their way on their road to power.
Sergey may have been targeted by someone who wanted to get rid of him before the battle that would determine the rankings between the losers.
But to Sergey, the entire situation was nothing but a disaster.
「Who do they think I am… Dammit! Is anyone there!?」
Not a single voice answered.
Most people were already asleep at this time of night. Even those who were awake to hear his yelling would likely dismiss it as the nonsensical spouting of some wandering drunkard.
But now that he had been chased into a back alley, it was unlikely for anyone to hear him.
「Dammit… dammit… Eek!?」
Sergey came to an abrupt stop. Someone was standing in his way.
He had been trapped—For a moment, he panicked. However, he soon realized that it was not one of the attackers that stood before him.
Though it was hard to see through the darkness, there stood a beautiful woman with long, wavy hair. Her red, dress-like clothes wrapped elegantly around her perfectly symmetric body. Her vibrant gold eyes shone bright in the darkness, narrowing with interest at she gazed at Sergey.
「Wh-who the hell are you… Are you a prostitute?」
Sergey’s brain yelled at him, warning him that he didn’t have the time for this. But still, Sergey couldn’t take his eyes off of the woman.
She was beautiful.
Sergey’s eyes shifted from her face down to her voluptuous breasts.
His brain yelled at him.
That’s right, now is not the time—
「Oh, you poor child…」
Her sweet, sticky voice seemed to soak in through Sergey’s ears, overwhelming him.
「There are all kinds of things that you want, aren’t there?」
The woman walked up to him. She put her hand on his cheek.
Even though her touch delivered a stinging sense of cold, he could feel heat rush through his cheeks.
It was sweet… Her sweet, sweet voice seemed to melt Sergey’s brain.
「You didn’t do anything wrong. But even then, something horrible happened to you, didn’t it?」
That’s completely right, Sergey thought. I didn’t do anything wrong. The only bad people here are the ones that go against me.
But even then. Why did this have to happen to me, of all people?
「It’s cruel, isn’t it?」
Yes, it was very cruel.
「It’s horrible, isn’t it?」
Yes, it was very horrible.
「You’ll never forgive them, right?」
I’ll never forgive them.
No, that’s not it. I couldn’t forgive them.
「…Cruel people like them need to be destroyed.」
The woman let out a satisfied laugh.
「Yes, that’s right. Now, where exactly are these people that you need to destroy?」
Sergey stood, deep in thought. How exactly was he supposed to destroy this injustice?
「Who are these people that hurt you? Who allowed you to get hurt like this? Who stood by and silently watched you suffer, not even bothering to give you a hand?」
The woman’s words gushed into Sergey’s head, igniting within him a sense of madness.
The assassins that tried to kill me. The useless guards that couldn’t even fight back. The trial participant that must have plotted to get me killed. The knight army that let this all happen.
「…I need to kill them.」
「It should be easy. Right now, with my sword—」
「That’s right. You might be able to do it. However, will you really be satisfied with that? Will your sense of justice really be fulfilled with such simple revenge?」
Justice. This word soothed Sergey’s heart.
Yes, I am right. I am justice.
Gazing at the woman, Sergey smiled.
「…What do I need to do?」
The woman sneered. But even then, her expression radiated nothing but kindness.
「Should you really be talking to me right now? Isn’t there something more important that you need to do?」
Laying his eyes on that sweet smile that seemed to melt everything around him, Sergey was completely bewitched.
Because of this, he didn’t notice. He didn’t notice that the assassins were no longer chasing after him. The intense sense of satisfaction that filled his body had blown away all of his worries.
「That’s right. I will do what I need to do.」
「That’s right, you’re a good boy. If you succeed in your task, you will be recognized, honored, praised. That’s right, isn’t it?」
「That’s right. I… No, only I understand what Princess Narika truly wants.」
Sergey uttered this feverishly, as if he were in a trance.
The woman brought her mouth close to his ear and whispered into it.
「Only Narika? Are you really satisfied with that?」
「You’re a hero, right? You’re the embodiment of justice, right? It would be a waste to make Narika’s approval your goal. You should aim higher.」
Sergey imagined himself being applauded by the people, drowned in endless praise.
A hero. A symbol of justice. Something that everyone longs to become.
「…I see, I’m—」
「That’s right, you’re the only one who can do this.」
Sergey took a step backwards. The woman extended her hand and attached a sword to his waist.
「This is the Soul Sword Gargova. It is my farewell gift.」
Sergey didn’t respond. He didn’t even remember meeting her.
「Hehe… I wonder what will happen next. I’m looking forward to it.」
But no one heard the woman’s voice.
The next day, Sergey Karkinos vanished from the city.