Eminence in Shadow Volume 6 Chapter 4

Dear, readers. I’m really sorry for the recent downtime when the site had a traffic overload. The problem is fixed now by upgrading the server to handle things more smoothly. So It’d be nice if you guys can help me to cover the upgraded server cost, plus you’d get more LN/WN translated as a bonus. Your contribution helps keep everything running smoothly. Thanks a ton!


Chapter Four: And the Monster Becomes a Legend!
 
“Jack the Ripper…isn’t coming, is he?”
 
One of the Night Blades said in a tired voice as he started on his late dinner.
 
It was close to midnight and the date was about to change.
 
“Looks like he got scared and ran away after all.”
 
“I heard he had defeated the martial artists of Wakoku. Disappointing.”
 
“Isn’t it good? If we Night Blades join forces, no one can stand against us.”
 
“It seems we gathered too much force. It was too much for Jack the Ripper.”
 
The Night Blades laughed mockingly.
 
“Let’s spread the rumor after the sun comes up. Jack the Ripper fled in fear, while the Night Blades are still stand strong. So no one would dare underestimate us again…”
 
Just as Count White started to say that, the colosseum softly lit up.
 
The light gradually grew stronger, as if reacting to something.
 
“What’s this…”
 
“Looks like he came after all. The artifacts are reacting to the intruder’s magic power.”
 
The entire colosseum shone brightly and the magic barrier formed a dome.
 
At the center, the blood-soaked Clown had appeared so suddenly.
 
“Is that Jack the Ripper?”
 
“The blood-soaked clown. Just like the reports said.”
 
“Hmm…doesn’t look very strong.”
 
“You can’t judge just by appearance. But he’s at least foolish enough to walk right into our trap.”
 
“No doubt about it. Well, he’ll make for an amusing distraction.”
 
The Night Blades leaned forward to observe Jack the Ripper in the colosseum.
 
“Jack the Ripper. Good of you to come without running away. But you kept us waiting. Took a while to work up your courage?”
 
Count White spoke in an exaggerated manner.
 
But Jack the Ripper didn’t move an inch.
 
“Say something. You must have business with us Night Blades to come here. If you have any grudges, we’ll hear them out. Did we kill your parents? Or sell off your children? Robbed you of your fortune? Sorry, there’s too many for me to remember.”
 
Only the Night Blades’ laughter echoed in the colosseum.
 
“Shaking in fear and can’t speak? Well, I’ve prepared a special game just for you. The rules are simple. Defeat all the assassins we’ve prepared. Then the barrier surrounding the colosseum will be lifted. Maybe then you can try killing us as you threatened?”
 
Count White looked down at Jack the Ripper arrogantly.
 
“Just to be clear, this barrier is made with a powerful artifact. It cost more than you could earn in a hundred lifetimes. Don’t bother trying to break it with force. Your only path is to defeat every single assassin! “
 
Count White spread his arms wide and shouted loudly.
 
“Now, let’s begin! Entering first, the first assassin!”
 
The colosseum gates opened and a swordsman entered.
 
A huge man carrying an enormous sword, wearing thick, heavy armor. He easily swung the massive sword around before turning to bow to the Night Blade spectators.
 
“This man is a magical swordsman from the city-state of Sparta!! Undefeated in 200 matches at Sparta’s Colosseum, said to be the most brutal in the world! With his sturdy sword he has bisected all who stood against him, earning him the title [Butcher]! “
 
Butcher swaggered over and looked down at Jack the Ripper.
 
“Yo, I heard some nasty dudes were gathered in the waiting room so I wondered who I’d be up against, and it’s just some clown?”
 
Butcher grinned and hefted the greatsword onto his shoulder.
 
“Well then, let the first match begin!”
 
The moment the match started, Butcher swung his sword down.
 
A tremendous noise and impact shook the colosseum.
 
“Wha, what a sturdy sword…”
 
“So this is a Spartan swordsman. More than I expected…”
 
“But he didn’t hit him.”
 
That’s right, Butcher’s strike did not connect.
 
Not because Jack the Ripper dodged, the trajectory simply missed from the start.
 
“That miss was on purpose. Ending it in one blow would be no fun for the audience. A master swordsman isn’t just about winning, but entertaining the crowd.”
 
Butcher confidently lifted the greatsword onto his shoulder again.
 
“C’mon, clown guy. I’ve got your measure. You couldn’t react to that strike at all. No matter how you struggle, you can’t beat me. But don’t worry, making a decent match against weaklings is a swordsman’s job too!”
 
Butcher was kicked straight up into the air.
 
Spitting blood from his smashed face, he collided with the barrier ceiling and stuck there like a crushed bug.
 
Blood dripped down, staining the Clown.
 
Slowly, he lowered his outstretched leg.
 
“T-the winner…Jack the Ripper.”
 
Count White barely managed to say.
 
The Night Blades buzzed noisily.
 
“Wha-what happened!?”
 
“A kick. An impossibly fast kick…”
 
“Count Butler, did you see that?”
 
“Barely. I may boast of my martial skill, but he…”
 
“Come to think of it, Count Butler is quite the swordsman himself.”
 
“Don’t be stupid. Beaten in one kick?”
 
“But the first round was meant to be an easy win for him. This is within expectations, right?”
 
“We should change the next opponent. You agree, Count Butler?”
 
“Ah…”
 
No one objected.
 
Count White drank some wine and called for the next opponent.
 
“Now entering, the second opponent!”
 
The three who appeared were swordsmen.
 
“They are the captains of the legendary mercenary troop [White Wolf], renowned in the Vegalta civil war!! However, their employer Doem Ketsuhat was killed in the Oriana Kingdom’s war, leaving them in financial ruin! These hardened veterans who should never be here, each more skilled than Butcher! Witness their coordination honed on the battlefield, and steely spirit forged by their business woes!!”
 
The three were composed swordsmen in their 30s and 40s.
 
They were armed with a sword, axe, and spear.
 
Their sharp gazes were fixed on Jack the Ripper.
 
“What do you think?”
 
The swordsman mercenary said.
 
“Can’t tell. His ability is completely unreadable. But that itself is abnormal.”
 
The axe mercenary said.
 
“I thought this would be easy work. Don’t take offense at being outnumbered.”
 
The spear mercenary said, and the three readied their weapons.
 
“Then, let the second match begin!”
 
The moment it started, the three fanned out to surround Jack the Ripper.
 
They carefully spaced themselves and watched for any openings.
 
Jack the Ripper stood stock still.
 
The [White Wolf] captains slowly circled around him.
 
One circle, two circles, three…
 
Nothing changed as the boring time passed.
 
“They’re just going around in circles.”
 
One of the Night Blades said.
 
Dissatisfied voices rose in agreement.
 
Surely the [White Wolf] could hear it too, yet they did not alter their movements, continuously circling around Jack the Ripper.
 
Outwardly, nothing changed in the battle.
 
But a subtle shift was happening to the [White Wolf].
 
Abnormal amounts of sweat streamed down the faces of all three.
 
And gradually, their breathing grew ragged, eyes bloodshot from extreme focus.
 
An eerie tension spread through the colosseum, and the dissatisfied voices faded away.
 
Dead silence descended on the surroundings.
 
In that moment, Jack the Ripper moved.
 
He took just one step forward.
 
It was a casual, harmless step, carelessly taken.
 
But the [White Wolf’s] reaction was abnormal.
 
In an instant, they had jumped back to the edges of the colosseum.
 
Ragged breathing, strained expressions. And weapons shaking in their hands told of their emotions.
 
A fear beyond any they had felt before had seized them.
 
Before their eyes was only a bizarre clown.
 
Yet the mercenaries’ eyes saw it as the end of the world.
 
One of the mercenaries lowered his sword.
 
The spear and axe soon followed, weapons lowered.
 
“Stop…this isn’t worth it…”
 
The swordsman said in a trembling voice.
 
“S-stop…? Don’t tell me you plan to forfeit!? That’s breach of contract!”
 
“We’re mercenaries. Prepared to die on the battlefield, but no thanks to dying in some dank basement.”
 
The spearman said.
 
“You jest! Have you forgotten the penalty fee!? If the White Wolf captains are rumored to have fled, your reputation will be ruined!”
 
“We’ll pay any amount, be it 100 or 200 million. Spread whatever rumors you want.”
 
The axeman said with a wry smile.
 
“You…! What’s so funny!?”
 
“How silly you look, thinking you’ll live to see tomorrow.”
 
The three mercenaries turned their backs and left the colosseum.
 
Jack the Ripper did not pursue them. He only laughed softly behind his mask.
 
“Those…those uncivilized mercenaries!”
 
Count White’s face flushed red in anger.
 
“Quite the letdown.”
 
“We should punish those foolish mercenaries. Send out a pursuit team.”
 
“[White Wolf] is finished too. To think those idiots were captains.”
 
Count Butler’s complexion was very pale.
 
“Count, are you feeling unwell?”
 
“Maybe it’s better to crush them with our full force.”
 
“What are you talking about, Count Butler?”
 
“…I couldn’t understand anything about the recent battle.”
 
“Well, they were just going in circles, so it’s not something we can understand either.”
 
“But I know the strength of [White Wolf]’s captain. They are undoubtedly the most elite mercenary group on this continent.”
 
“That they’re the best on the continent is quite something.”
 
The Night Blades laughed as if they were making fun of them.
 
“They ran away without fighting. It’s a dishonorable escape in front of the enemy. There must be a reason.”
 
“What’s the reason?”
 
“For them, Jack the Ripper might have been a monster beyond their imagination.”
 
“…That’s absurd. Count Butler seems to enjoy scaring us.”
 
“Well, here, let’s follow the Count’s advice and prepare a decent opponent for the next round. How about the sword master from Vegalta?”
 
“Alright, that sounds good. Hey, change the opponent.”
 
When the butler conveyed the change, he looked displeased.
 
“Well, that… the sword master from Vegalta has retreated.”
 
“What? Retreated!? He left!?”
 
“Yes. He said, ‘I have a bad feeling’ and left.”
 
“You let him go just like that!?”
 
“Yes, he returned the full reward and disappeared like the wind. No one could catch him…”
 
“What the… These people are just toying with us! Enough! Summon the demons of the city-states and the legends of lawless cities!”
 
The angry Count White shouted.
 
“Yes, right away!”
 
The butler hurriedly left.
 
“Really, it’s so annoying.”
 
“Well, calm down, Count. That rabbit person didn’t look strong from the beginning.”
 
“She’s a unique and exotic female swordsman. Maybe rumors have spread. Popular but powerless swordsmen are everywhere.”
 
“Bringing in random fish would only bring shame. Having the demons of the city-states and the legends of lawless cities should be enough.”
 
“Even though there are still many swordsmen, to use the top fighters in the beginning, and two at a time…”
 
“Well, it’s fine. Prolonging it won’t make it more enjoyable. Is that okay with you, Count Butler?”
 
“Ah…”
 
The baron nodded, his expression grim.
 
Then the monsters from the city-states and legends from the lawless cities appeared in the colosseum.
 


Jack the Ripper faced the two opponents simultaneously, driving them back effortlessly without breaking a sweat.
 
“That’s…Jack the Ripper…”
 
Alexia watched his fight and gasped.
 
The battle was completely one-sided.
 
Against two masters, Jack the Ripper merely toyed with them.
 
The monsters from the city-states and legends from the lawless cities turned tail and fled, sliced to ribbons, the blood-soaked colosseum left behind.
 
“It’s like he isn’t even trying…”
 
What shocked Alexia most was how Jack the Ripper didn’t seem to be fighting seriously at all.
 
Even in Alexia’s eyes, the monsters and legends were fairly skilled swordsmen. They were no mere rumored fighters, but possessed real ability.
 
To one-sidedly torment such opponents was beyond ordinary skill. As far as Alexia knew, only one man was capable of this.
 
“Shadow…”
 
Jack the Ripper’s strength might rival Shadow’s.
 
Unbelievable as it seemed, she could think of no other explanation.
 
What bothered Alexia most was how Jack the Ripper’s aura faintly resembled Shadow’s.
 
“But that can’t be…”
 
Their movement and magic quality are different are different from Shadow’s.
 
Alexia recalled the god of war telling her that masters’ movements fundamentally resembled each other.
 
“Princess Alexia, what will you do?”
 
Christina whispered.
 
“Let’s wait.”
 
“But with everyone focused on Jack the Ripper, isn’t now an opportune time?”
 
“No, later will be easier to move.”
 
“Later?”
 
“Yes, after everything ends.”
 
Alexia focused her gaze on Jack the Ripper in the colosseum, not missing a single move. She even forgot to blink.
 
The next opponents had already lined up in the colosseum.
 
Their number, over a hundred.
 
“Ridiculous. Holding back forces to whittle away…the hallmark of a doomed nation.”
 
“Can Jack the Ripper defeat this many swordsmen?”
 
The swordsmen surrounding Jack the Ripper were all top class.
 
Alexia judged this to be their serious fighting force. Higher quality than the royal knights, painstakingly gathered by the Night Blades.
 
“I’ve started to understand a little. What strength is. The gap between them and me.”
 
“How does Jack the Ripper appear in Princess Alexia’s eyes?”
 
“Let’s see…”
 
Alexia paused, carefully considering her words.
 
“He’s on a different level.”
 
She murmured.
 
“Different…that much?”
 
“Gokuri…”
 
kanade swallowed and…
 
“My servant Jack the Ripper…kill them. Slaughter the foolish Night Blades.”
 
She softly said…
 
In the next moment, over a hundred swordsmen attacked Jack the Ripper.
 


 
“What is this…”
 
Count White muttered in a daze.
 
The Night Blade spectators fell silent, as if struck speechless.
 
Their mood had changed after the monsters and legends were defeated.
 
The City-State monsters left a scratch on Jack the Ripper’s mask.
 
While the legends of the lawless city tore his costume.
 
But that was all they accomplished.
 
Their movements were seen through immediately and helplessly toyed with.
 
Then, someone said.
 
[Were there any here stronger than them?]
 
No one answered. For the Night Blades had sent out their strongest, the monsters and legends.
 
Fear instantly spread.
 
The arrogance vanished from the Night Blades’ faces.
 
And so they sent out every swordsman without hesitation.
 
The battle was still raging, but the outcome was already clear.
 
All the magic swordsmen sent by night blades had been killed.
 
In the center of the bloodstained arena, Jack the Ripper silently watched the audience.
 
“Sorry, but I must take my leave! Count White, you take responsibility for wrapping this up!”
 
As one of the Night Blades stood to leave, the others began to stir as well, as if a dam had burst.
 
“Wait, wait for me! I’m not ready yet…!”
 
The Count White clung desperately to the departing Night Blades.
 
At that moment, a low but dignified voice rang out.
 
“Now, now, why the hurry to leave?”
 
Appearing then in the audience was a man of dignified middle age.
 
“Ah, Duke Dacuaican! You came!”
 
“I came because you lot were so incompetent.”
 
At Duke Dacuaican’s condescending words, some of the Night Blades grimaced but did not speak.
 
“But at this point, what more can be done…?”
 
“Hmph. I’ve brought a secret weapon from the Cult to help you fools.”
 
As he spoke, Duke Dacuaican pointed to the arena.
 
There stood a figure cloaked in a hood. No, could that thing even be called human?
 
“A weapon from the Cult…? But what on earth is that?”
 
The silhouette hidden beneath the long robes was distorted, more akin to some non-human creature.
 
“Kukuku! That is a human weapon the Cult created through countless human experiments. Now, reveal your form!”
 
At Duke Dacuaican’s command, the human weapon shed its robe.
 
Its misshapen figure was exposed.
 
“Th-this is…!”
 
There lay a distorted lump of twisted flesh.
 
Even determining its gender was difficult. Man…no, woman?
 
It seemed vaguely feminine, but did gender even hold meaning for this lump of flesh?
 
A monster barely retaining human shape.
 
“Its designated name is Experiment 227 Millia. That’s what they called her.”
 
“Her…it’s female?”
 
“She was an experimental subject of the Fenrir Faction. Defeated by Shadow Garden, she was disposed of, but researchers from the Loki Faction recovered and revived her.”
 
“Defeated by Shadow Garden…”
 
Disappointed sighs escaped the Night Blades.
 
“But don’t worry. Researchers from the Loki Faction improved on an experimental subject of the Fenrir Faction. The result of combining the technologies of factions that should never intersect is the ultimate human weapon. Her power is over ten times what it once was…or so I was told.”
 
Duke Dacuaican stepped forward and roused them encouragingly.
 
“Experiment 227 Millia! By my command, slay Jack the Ripper!”
 
And so, the battle began.
 
The misshapen experiment Millia charged like a beast.
 
In a blur of speed, she circled behind Jack the Ripper.
 
Then her massive right arm swung down.
 
“Ohh!?”
 
A tremendous torrent of magical power roared through the arena.
 
The supposedly unbreakable barrier screeched and groaned under the strain.
 
“What magical power…!?”
 
The arena was gouged deeply by the aftershocks, altering the very terrain.
 
“Where is he…? Where did he go?”
 
In the arena remained only Millia, right arm still extended from her blow.
 
No trace of Jack the Ripper could be found. He had been obliterated without a trace.
 
“In the end, how anticlimactic…”
 
In the now silent audience, the Count White murmured.
 
The Night Blades too had something akin to relief on their faces.
 
“As expected of the ultimate human weapon created by the Cult. I thought for a moment the barrier would shatter.”
 
“Hahaha, this barrier cannot be broken by anyone. Yet for an instant, I doubted. Such is the Cult’s might.”
 
“We should strengthen ties with the Cult even more.”
 
The murmuring Night Blades.
 
“Indeed. Though these incidents cost the Night Blades many lives, we’ve built a connection to the Loki Faction because of our efforts.”
 
As Duke Dacuaican spoke, applause suddenly rang out from somewhere.
 
“Yes, all for the Night Blades’ sake.”
 
Duke Dacuaican looked around.
 
But no one was applauding.
 
Amidst the confused glances, only the dry applause echoed through the audience.
 
Among them, one man sat pale-faced and trembling.
 
It was Count Butler.
 
With shaking fingers, he pointed to an empty seat.
 
“What’s wrong, Count Butler?”
 
Duke Dacuaican questioned, perplexed.
 
“Th-there…!”
 
He pointed to the empty seat.
 
Or at least, it should have been empty.
 
Yet somehow, a blood-drenched clown now sat there.
 
“Jack the Ripper!? Why are you there!?”
 
Like spiders scattering, the Night Blades fled from Jack the Ripper.
 
“The barrier!? What about the barrier!?”
 
With the barrier intact, Jack the Ripper should not have been able to appear in the audience.
 
“How did you…!?”
 
Jack the Ripper stopped clapping and slowly stood up,
 
The Seven of Spades card in his hand.
 
Calmly, he tossed the card.
 
As if time itself had stopped, no one could halt Jack the Ripper’s languid movements.
 
Thunk.
 
///
 


 
scene translation
 


 


 
///
 
With a small sound, the card embedded deeply in one Night Blade’s head.
 
“Ah, ahh…”
 
He toppled forward, convulsing violently.
 
No one could move.
 
In the silence, they simply watched the expanding pool of blood.
 
Their lives were in his hands. They all felt it.
 
To move was death, to scream was death, even inaction meant death.
 
Under that extreme tension, Jack the Ripper continued his unhurried motions, drawing out one card after another.
 
The Eight of Spades.
 
The Nine of Spades.
 
The Ten of Spades.
 
The Jack of Spades.
 
The Queen of Spades.
 
The King of Spades.
 
Exactly six cards.
 
Jack the Ripper fanned out the same number of cards as Night Blades here, then plucked out the Eight of Spades.
 
Slowly he took aim.
 
The targeted Night Blade shook his head wildly.
 
“N-no… Help me…!”
 
As if in answer, magical power swelled in the arena.
 
It was Experiment 227 Millia.
 
In an instant she closed the distance and swung her swollen right arm at Jack the Ripper.
 
A tremendous impact resounded.
 
Again and again, deafening blows rang out.
 
Yet Jack the Ripper did not so much as twitch.
 
Experiment 227 Millia continued pounding at the shining barrier that stood between her and Jack.
 
“The barrier…!”
 
Someone cried out in a strangled voice.
 
The barrier was still intact.
 
It obstructed Millia.
 
Yet how was Jack the Ripper here?
 
None could comprehend it.
 
Amidst the booming impacts shaking the atmosphere, Jack the Ripper threw the Eight of Spades.
 
One died.
 
He threw the Nine of Spades.
 
Another died.
 
He prepared to throw the Ten of Spades.
 
One more died.
 
Boom, boom, Millia struck at the barrier.
 
“That’s why…why I said…destroy him completely… He’s a monster…!”
 
The Eight of Spades pierced through Count Butler’s heart before he could finish speaking.
 
Clutching his chest in despair, Count Butler collapsed.
 
“Th-that’s it! The barrier…drop the barrier! Someone, dispel the barrier!”
 
The Count White yelled desperately.
 
But no one responded to his plea.
 
“Anyone! Anyone! Anyone! Anyone! Anyone! Anyone! Anyone! Anyone! Anyone!”
 
The Count White screamed as if insane.
 
No, his eyes had completely lost sanity.
 
“Anyone! Anyone! Anyo–“
 
The Queen of Spades lodged deep in his throat.
 
Coughing wetly, the Count White died with an expression of despair.
 
Only Duke Dacuaican remained.
 
He sat limply on the ground.
 
Jack the Ripper held the King of Spades, casually spinning it round and round
 
as if toying with the man’s life.
 
“What are you… What kind of monster would come to a place like this…!”
 
His voice was thin and unworthy of the leader of the thirteen Night Blades.
 
“Save me, I’ll do anything, pay any price…!”
 
Jack the Ripper deftly twirled the King of Spades.
 
“I’ll lower my head and apologize as much as needed, so please, just my life…!”
 
Duke Dacuaican prostrated himself and scraped his forehead on the ground in apology.
 
“Just my life…just my life…!”
 
Then the King of Spades embedded in the back of Duke Dacuaican’s bowed head.
 
The thirteen Night Blades were annihilated in that moment.
 
Duke Dacuaican’s death throes were like an apology to the entire world.
 
Millia’s futile blows against the barrier echoed hollowly.
 
Jack the Ripper surveyed the dead bodies in the audience once more before turning to face Millia.
 
Millia simply continued pounding at the barrier.
 
Slowly, Jack the Ripper walked forward.
 
Toward the barrier—
 
And Jack the Ripper’s arm touched the barrier.
 
Blue-purple magical power spread from that point like smoke, and then his body passed into the barrier.
 
Millia immediately lunged to attack.
 
“Gwoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh!”
 
With a joyous roar, her swinging right arm blew the unguarded Jack the Ripper away.
 
He was smashed into the wall with tremendous force.
 
Yet as if nothing had happened, he calmly stood up and fixed his eyes on Millia once more.
 
“Gwaaaaaaa!”
 
Millia charged like a beast.
 
That massive body, physical ability, and magical power blended into utter perfection – the Order’s greatest masterpiece.
 
It became overwhelming violence that destroyed the arena and shook even the sturdy barrier.
 
Like a pinball, Jack the Ripper’s body bounced around.
 
Over and over, he tumbled across the arena.
 
Yet he did not fall.
 
Though the attacks connected, he skillfully dispersed the impacts and evaded fatal blows.
 
His eyes simply stared steadily at Millia.
 
“Gyaaaaaaa!”
 
Millia roared.
 
Spilling crimson-black bodily fluids, her flesh warped and transformed.
 
From her back, her chest, and even her face, countless thin tentacles sprouted.
 
Covering the arena in an ominous hue and shape, they spread until countless.
 
Easily surpassing a thousand, the tentacles surrounded Jack the Ripper.
 
Then as one, they stabbed into him.
 
In an instant, the tentacles permeated Jack the Ripper’s entire body.
 
Only the squirming tentacles remained.
 

 



////
 

 
It resembled a mass of earthworms, Christina thought.
 
Jack the Ripper impaled by the tentacles was no longer visible. Seeing only the slimy, sinisterly squirming tentacles, she was reminded of earthworms.
 
“Did he die…?”
 
Alexa beside her spoke, seeming half skeptical.
 
“I don’t know. I don’t understand why he was finished off so anticlimactically.”
 
“He didn’t fight back at all.”
 
“Yes…”
 
Jack the Ripper didn’t show any intention to counterattack.
 
As he wished, all thirteen Night Blades had died.
 
The ending for those who ruled the criminal underworld of Midgar Kingdom for so long.
 
It was a shameful end for those who had been so vigorous.
 
Christina had to stifle an urge to smile.
 
At any rate, the thirteen Night Blades were no more, and Jack the Ripper’s objective had been achieved.
 
His battle with Millia was irrelevant to that goal.
 
“Maybe he was satisfied with his objective fulfilled…”
 
She said it, but somehow it didn’t sit right.
 
“Surviving within so many tentacles would be difficult.”
 
Alexa spoke grimly.
 
Each tentacle was sturdy and imbued with powerful magic. And they were still increasing.
 
It was natural for her to think that way.
 
—Just then.
 
Blue-purple light leaked through gaps in the tentacles.
 
At first only a faint glow from scattered points, the light soon spilled out everywhere, dyeing the arena blue-purple.
 
“Th-this magical power—!?”
 
And astonishingly powerful at that.
 
The swelling magical power blew away all the tentacles.
 
“Gwaaaaaa!”
 
Millia’s scream.
 
Clawing at the severed tentacles, she cried out in pain.
 
The blue-purple light gradually settled.
 
Standing there was a man wrapped in a jet-black long coat.
 
“No way…!”
 
His boots echoed as he walked.
 
“My name is Shadow. …… One who lurks in the shadows and hunts in the shadows”
 
In a voice resonating from the abyss, he spoke.
 
“Shadow… Why is he…?”
 
Alexa was dumbfounded.
 
Christina was also confused. But she felt his appearance here held some meaning.
 
He had a reason.
 
He said there was something he had to accomplish, even if it meant walking a bloodstained path.
 
Christina wanted to witness that path until the end.
 
“G…gggghhhh!”
 
The confusion wasn’t limited to Christina and her companions.
 
Millia, too, had stopped moving in front of the suddenly appeared Shadow.
 
“Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!”
 
From chaos to hatred.
 
“Jaaaaaaaaaaaadoooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”
 
It was her first human-like voice.
 
It sounded like she was screaming “Shadow.”
 
“Shaaaadooooooooooooooooowwwww!”
 
Creaking sounds as new tentacles pierced through her skin.
 
Millia attacked the Shadow with those tentacles and her strong right arm.
 
A storm of continuous strikes.
 
Numerous tentacles closed in, but her right arm swept them away with tremendous force.
 
In the midst of the relentless onslaught, the Shadow danced.
 
Slicing through the tentacles, narrowly avoiding the right arm, like the fluttering petals of a flower in the wind.
 
Gallantly dancing, she would strike with small thorns in between.
 
Blue-purple traces were engraved on Millia’s body as her flesh was cut.
 
Millia’s blood scattered, and the blue-purple magical marks clung to her wounds.
 
As time passed, more blue-purple scars appeared on Millia’s body.
 
“Why… don’t you defeat it?”
 
Alexia said.
 
“That monster is undoubtedly strong. But Shadow still has room. This is like he’s testing it.”
 
Christina agreed with that view.
 
Why not kill it in one fell swoop? She knew the Shadow had that much power.
 
“There must be a reason.”
 
“A reason?”
 
“He has a mission. Let’s see it through… this blood-soaked path.”
 
“Huh?”
 
Alexia tilted her head, and at that moment.
 
“Shaaaadoooowwww!”
 
Millia’s scream echoed.
 
It was clear. Without a doubt, she was screaming “Shadow.”
 
“Her voice… is it returning?”
 
Millia’s voice was becoming closer to that of a human girl.
 
Millia’s relentless barrage.
 
A trail of shining indigo amongst the gaps.
 
The indigo magic clung to Millia’s body, eventually covering her entirely.
 
“Th-this is…!”
 
///
 


 
scene transition
 


 


 
///
 
Millia’s body had shrunk down a size.
 
The swollen flesh of the monster was shaved away, revealing the mottled white skin of a girl underneath.
 
She was reverting from monster back to human.
 
“The indigo magic is healing her…”
 
Christina realized that she was recovering in places where the indigo magic was concentrated.
 
Soft white skin, grotesque monster flesh, thread-like tendrils.
 
Those mixed together let out a sorrowful wail.
 
“Sha-dow!”
 
She noticed the voice was crying.
 
Half of her face had reverted to a girl’s, with tears of blood flowing from her eyes.
 
“Sha-dow!”
 
The girl was crying.
 
Crying, with the form of a mix between human and monster, she manipulated the tendrils and her right arm.
 
Her movements gradually shifted from the vigor of a monster to the agility of a human.
 
And then, tendrils enough to fill the entire arena burst out from the girl’s white skin.
 
“Sha…dow!”
 
She let out a painful moan.
 
Blood was flowing from where the tendrils were sprouting.
 
She manipulated the countless tendrils and finally restrained Shadow’s limbs.
 
She swung down her right arm.
 
But Shadow severed the tendrils and sliced off Millia’s right arm.
 
The severed monster arm danced through the air.
 
That right arm would not revert back to a human form.
 
However, her left arm remained human.
 
In that left hand was gripped a dagger.
 
Where had she been hiding it?
 
Until now, she had only swung her right arm. That left arm was always clutching something.
 
Gripping the dagger preciously.
 
“Shadoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! “
 
A dagger thrust to pierce the Shadow’s heart.
 
“…Impressive,”
 
Shadow said.
 
At the same time, a torrent of blue-purple magic enveloped Millia.
 
Her dagger came to a halt just before the Shadow’s heart.
 
“Ahh…”
 
Intelligence returned to Millia’s eyes.
 
The tentacles disappeared.
 
With a clatter, the dagger fell to the floor.
 
It was a dagger with a red gem.
 
Engraved on the hilt were the words “[To my dearest daughter Millia].”
 
“Pa…pa…”
 
She murmured that and collapsed.
 
Had it been Shadow who stopped the dagger, or had it been her?
 
Shadow picked up the unconscious Millia and waved his arm.
 
Then, women wrapped in jet-black bodysuits appeared around Shadow.
 
Where had they been hiding without being noticed?
 
They were kneeling, awaiting their master’s command.
 
“Clean up.”
 
Saying that, Shadow handed Millia over to a woman who seemed to be the group’s leader, then disappeared just like that.
 
After confirming Shadow’s departure, the women dispersed and began working.
 
The leader recovered Millia, her right arm, and the dagger, then looked in the direction where Christina and the others were hiding.
 
Then she jerked her chin towards the exit.
 
I’ll let you go, so get out. Her face said that.
 
“We’ve been found out…”
 
Alexia said with a cold sweat.
 
“Eek!”
 
kanade was super freaked out.
 
“What should we do?”
 
Christina asked.
 
“Let’s pretend to leave for now. Don’t worry, we’ll slip away soon.”
 
Alexia sighed and exited the hidden passage.
 
kanade hurriedly followed after her. Christina glanced back just once.
 
“Is this the path you have chosen…?”
 
The one who spoke of walking a blood-soaked path had saved that monster.
 
Just as he had saved Christina from crisis before, he would save many along his destined path.
 
To Christina, that blood-soaked path seemed to shine.
 


 
Jack the Ripper, who shook the royal capital, disappeared after slaying the Thirteen Night Blades.
 
Many speculations about his true identity arose, calling him an assassin from Vegalta, the vengeful spirit of a legendary swordsman, and other baseless rumors.
 
Voices proclaiming Jack the Ripper to be Shadow were denied by the Knights Order.
 
In the end, Jack the Ripper’s identity remained unknown.
 
With many knights and swordsmen reinforcing security, the night where he slayed seven of the Thirteen Night Blades became legendary, and due to the overwhelming strength beyond common sense, the prevailing theory leaned towards him being a vengeful spirit or demon.
 
In about a hundred years there will probably be a movie titled [Jack the Ripper’s Shocking True Identity!?] broadcast worldwide.
 
In any case, it was perfect.
 
My objective has been achieved.
 
Jack the Ripper became a legend, carved into history.
 
“Did something good happen?”
 
The man sitting across from me said that – the head of the Knights Order’s Investigation Division, Gray, I believe.
 
I’m currently being questioned as a witness in relation to the incident.
 
“With such an excellent person as yourself in the Knights Order, Jack the Ripper would have been arrested immediately. That’s what I thought.”
 
I said something I didn’t really believe.
 
“Of course that’s right. You’re quite perspective for your age.”
 
Gray nodded repeatedly in satisfaction.
 
“So, just to confirm one last time, you didn’t enter the White Estate, correct?”
 
“Yes, of course. That would be trespassing, I was too scared to follow…”
 
“Princess Alexia is quite troublesome. To recklessly trespass on the White Estate, her testimony is questionable now.”
 
“Ah, um, the rumor that Jack the Ripper is Shadow…”
 
“That’s clearly just a rumor. Since Shadow is freely rampaging in the capital, they want to slander that the Knights Order has been outwitted by him.”
 
“But, Princess Alexia saw…”
 
“It was dark, she must have mistaken what she saw. No other witnesses, and Princess Alexia is at that attention-seeking age…”
 
“Is that so…”
 
“That’s right. Now then, it’s about time. Thanks for all your cooperation. I think this will be the last time we question you.”
 
“Ah, thank you very much.”
 
“Take care now.”
 
I bowed to Gray and exited the windowless interrogation room.
 
That person, his deductive ability is terrible but his swordsmanship isn’t bad. He should be swinging a sword in the field rather than investigating, I thought.
 
Now then, I wonder if kanade will be questioned next. She had been called in with me.
 
I head down the hallway towards the waiting room.
 
Along the way, I passed a man who caught my attention.
 
“Hm?”
 
I stopped and looked back at the man I had passed.
 
“Something wrong?”
 
The man also stopped and looked at me.
 
A tall man with thread-like eyes. He had a soft demeanor and a faint smile.
 
“No, it’s nothing.”
 
“I see, you are… no, it’s nothing.”
 
He started to say something but cut himself off mid-sentence.
 
Then walked off still wearing that faint smile.
 
I started walking again too. Sensing his presence behind me.
 
And he entered Gray’s interrogation room.
 
“He seemed pretty strong.”
 
I muttered softly.
 


 
Entering the interrogation room, he took a seat in front of Gray.
 
“Y-you came!”
 
Gray hastily bowed in greeting.
 
“You’re late.”
 
He sighed and said.
 
“Late?”
 
“Slow to notice me.”
 
“S-sorry, when you erase your presence, I can’t notice you until you’re right before me…”
 
“The boy earlier did notice.”
 
“The boy… You mean Cid Kagenou?”
 
“I don’t know his name. The black-haired boy I passed in the hallway.”
 
“He’s a swordsman of rather poor grades… Just coincidence?”
 
“Perhaps so. Coincidence can happen anywhere, anytime.”
 
Saying that, he smiled.
 
To him this was merely trivial chatter, and he would likely forget about the boy by tomorrow. It was that insignificant.
 
“The downfall of the Thirteen Night Blades is regrettable.”
 
“Y-yes, apologies. We were moving on our end as well, but the forces we can mobilize freely in the Midgar Kingdom are lacking…”
 
“It can’t be helped. Because of Fenrir’s foolishness, our influence over the Midgar Kingdom has declined. The Shadow Garden didn’t miss that opening.”
 
“Does this impact the plan?”
 
“No issues. [Jaw that Slays the Shadow] will definitely succeed.”
 
“Shadow’s ability exceeds expectations. According to reports, experimental subject #227 Millia was thoroughly defeated…”
 
“Within anticipated parameters. Everything is.”
 
Saying that, he laughed derisively.
 
“With the Thirteen Night Blades destroyed, the pawns we can move in the Midgar Kingdom have decreased. I may need to make use of you, so be ready.”
 
“Yes, Lord Loki.”
 
“I’m counting on you.”
 
He disappeared.
 
The windowless interrogation room was left with only Gray inside.


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