The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin (Novel) Chapter 97 - 98

C97 - 98

Chapter 97: Conditions of Power (7)

From the moment Lindsay first saw the boy during the match with Gunther, she could tell.

His smooth movements, almost as if cutting through space, the light yet powerful gestures.

Within them, there was even a mercilessness akin to ice.

Those who could display such prowess were rare on this continent.

‘Mist…’

The place she had belonged to, where she gained her power, and the place she had abandoned in her mind.

A place where they persisted in the meaningless waiting for a successor, despite possessing the unmatched ability of divine power.

That boy was undoubtedly of the Mist.

Why would they, who usually keep themselves hidden, be here in Lambert?

Lindsay could easily grasp the reason.

They had come to kill her.

As long as there existed someone other than themselves capable of wielding Aeru’s power, she was well aware that they would eventually come to eliminate her.

But just a single boy?

She pondered.

Silica, that woman seemed to be underestimating her too much.

It was laughable, really, that they would attempt to assassinate her with just one high-ranking member.

It was so pathetic it was almost unbelievable.

However, there was one intriguing aspect.

It was the sword the boy had used.

The crimson blade exuding a sinister aura and the black jewel embedded in the hilt.

On the surface, it bore a striking resemblance to the Aeru’s demonic sword known as Kaeram.

But she soon shook her head.

To think that such a demonic sword would be here, it just didn’t seem plausible, did it?

The presence of a demonic sword meant that its wielder was the successor, but Lindsay never thought for a moment that the boy could be the successor.

To her, the idea of a successor was akin to a nonexistent entity in this world.

In fact, she had even entertained the thought of taking on the role of the successor herself.

But now, standing before her, was someone she never expected to encounter— the wielder of Kaeram, the one who had been bestowed with Aeru’s mark, the successor.

* * *

The mist that had escaped from Kaeram enveloped my entire body.

-Swirl-

In a situation where two incompatible spaces coexisted, the mist within the Mist Space, which had imprisoned me, surged violently.

There’s a misconception among people that the power of the black mist is so grandiose that it can destroy everything in the world.

But in reality, it merely neutralizes whatever it encounters.

It’s like soothing a crying child, rendering things quiet and subdued rather than causing destruction on a massive scale.

That’s the essence of the mist’s power.

-Crack-

“What… What happened to my mist?”

With the sound of shattering glass, a rift appeared in the space.

Her mist, without any resistance, dissipated helplessly.

Technically speaking, it wasn’t disappearing but rather being absorbed into my mist.

I shouted at her as she finished getting ready.

“Shadow Arts 6th Form: Mist Space!”

It was the same technique she had cast.

However, the power behind it wasn’t quite the same.

Still, shouldn’t she make sure to confirm?

To see what kind of power the successor, whom she has hated so much, possesses.

“Do you really think I’ll submit to your mist?!”

She didn’t retreat, roaring loudly as she embraced the Mist Space head-on.

In reality, there was no escaping it.

This place was an alternate space created by the power of the mist.

There was nowhere to flee from the mist’s power.

“Urgh!”

She was desperate.

Her gaze showed a strong determination, as if she wouldn’t be consumed by my mist no matter what.

But can things in the world really be resolved through willpower alone?

Struggling within the increasingly oppressive mist, just when she thought it would end without any major changes,

-Rip-

The Mist Space vanished.

“Haah… Haah….”

She had finally broken through.

Momentarily surprised by the unexpected outcome, she soon narrowed her eyes and shouted at me.

“That gaze! Those disgusting eyes that seem like they’re going to crush me! You’re no different from her!”

I didn’t expect to hear such words.

Since when did my eyes resemble those of the leader?

“Why won’t you vermin just get out of my way? I am the true successor who should inherit the power of Aeru…!”

[Then prove it.]

Lindsay’s gaze turned to Kaeram beside her.

[Everything will be shown by the outcome. If you truly are the rightful successor who can inherit the power of that accursed god, then why not kill that successor right here and now? There’s no better proof than that, right?]

The demonic sword, Kaeram, taunts again.

Perhaps it’s teasing her to see more amusement, but staying silent in such a situation seems even more strange.

“….!”

When our eyes meet, there’s nothing more to say.

Simply raising my eyebrows as if to say ‘do as you please’, her eyes filled with anger once again.

“Mist, successor… You’re of no use to me.”

-Swish

At the same time, a dagger appeared in her hands.

“So, I’ll kill all of you and stand at the center myself! No one can stop me!”

-Slice

——————
——————

Do you know one of the things an assassin should never do?

It’s rushing in recklessly fueled by emotions.

Although it’s been a long time since leaving the organization, forgetting such basics of being an assassin and trying to take the center stage bewildered me.

Didn’t she say you need qualifications to possess power?

That’s correct.

You should use the given power generously without hoarding it.

That way, you won’t regret it later.

-Swipe

The sensation of limbs being severed was distinctly felt.

One movement was enough, and I slowly exhaled while bringing down the sword.

-Thud

Soon the mist cleared, and from above, crimson blood poured like rain.

[Wasn’t that a bit anticlimactic?]

Kaeram asked with a dissatisfied expression.

“I didn’t see the need to make it more complicated…”

I replied indifferently, as usual.

* * *

While watching the battle between Lindsay and the boy, Lisa could do nothing.

In fact, calling it a battle was ambiguous.

It was more like one-sided dominance.

Just like in the arena, the boy effortlessly overwhelmed his opponent.

She felt disheartened.

At least she thought Lindsay was among the strongest people she had ever seen, yet here she was, facing such a pitiful end.

Beyond disappointment, a sense of helplessness and misery weighed heavily on her.

“…!”

The boy looked at her.

Lisa still held the sword in her hand, but there was no trace of caution in the boy’s face.

She thought it was natural.

To him, she was like a bug he could crush at any moment.

-Clomp, clomp

He finally started approaching her.

All Lisa could do was meet his gaze.

Three seconds of eye contact with those sinister eyes.

Lisa silently closed her eyes.

“What are you doing?”

The boy asked, and she replied resignedly, “If possible, please let me go without suffering…”

In reality, it was a forced plea disguised as a request.

“I know. It’s shameless to make such a request after trying to kill you. If you don’t want to, I understand. I’ll just accept it calmly.”

The boy chuckled briefly, then squatted down in front of her and asked,

“Do you think I’m going to kill you?”

“It’s obvious. I tried to kill you, and I saw your secret that no one else should know. There’s no reason for you to spare me. Even if just to keep me quiet, it’s only right for me to die…”

“I’m not going to kill you.”

Her narrowed eyes widened in an instant.

* * *

This manager, she’s making quite a fuss.

Even though nothing is as precious as life, is it right to give up on it so easily?

“W-What did you just say…”

“I said I’m not going to kill you.”

“T-That’s… right! Y-You’ll torture me by cutting off my limbs one by one until the end…”

“I have no intention of doing that. I’m just going to let you go with all your limbs intact.”

“…?”

She looked at me with a strange mix of confusion and astonishment.

I, in turn, accepted her gaze calmly.

There’s another misconception people have: Mist’s goal is assassination, not slaughter.

Once the target is eliminated, the mission is over. There’s no point in further bloodshed.

It didn’t take long for her to speak up again.

“D-Don’t lie to me! You shouldn’t joke around like this! You’re an assassin! What assassin would spare someone they tried to kill! What kind of assassin does that!”

I replied calmly, “It wasn’t intentional anyway.”

“W-Well, that’s true, but…”

I could tell from the moment she clashed swords with me.

Alongside the determination to kill me, there was a subtle agony mixed in, acknowledging the impossibility of it.

She merely clashed with me out of necessity to fulfill her owner’s orders.

“B-But I know you’re an assassin working for Mist…”

“So? Are you trying to spread rumors?”

“N-No! I would never!”

Well then, isn’t that settled?

There’s no one around here who will remember my face even if I say something.

“A-Are you really not going to kill me?”

“Are you going to keep talking until your mouth hurts? How much more do I need to say?”

Judging by her expression, it seemed like I would have to repeat it a hundred times for her to believe it.

“It’s strange to see an assassin so lenient…”

I couldn’t deny it, so I chuckled.

“Just one question.”

She, who had been silent for a moment, blinked once again.

“I couldn’t wrap my head around it, so I had to ask.”

“W-What is it?”

“Why did you tell me to leave?”

Despite being in a position to obey Lindsay’s orders, she seemed to show unnecessary acknowledgment by telling me to leave if I wanted to live.

Was there really a need for that?

We were just a guest and a shopkeeper, after all.

Her gaze, pondering repeatedly, soon turned to the gruesome sight of Lindsay’s mutilated body.

This kind of situation occurred more often than one might think.

After dealing with the target, being around others who were still present.

It might seem puzzling, but Mist’s goal was strictly assassination, not massacre.

Once the initial target was dealt with, that was it; there was no need to eliminate unrelated bystanders.

“Ah…”

Whether it was a feeling of disappointment or relief, she sighed.

“I-I’m not sure if this will explain anything, but…”

I’d have to hear it before I could judge.

“It was around the time when I was just a guest. When Gunther and I came in here…”

——————

Chapter 98: Conditions of Power (8)

“We were originally street urchins wandering around Lambert. No home, no parents, just kids who had nothing. All we could do at that young age was steal.”

In reality, it’s very rare for normal families with normal children to be born in such abnormal cities.

Most of them either came from other areas, were abandoned in the entertainment district, or were children who escaped from the slave market, with parents being a rarity.

That’s no different for this manager.

“You know about the Gunther who was killed, right? He wasn’t always such a troublemaker. He only knew how to use his fists, so he didn’t hesitate to rob and raid, but because of that, many kids like me managed to survive somehow…”

“Were you siblings?”

“How could that be? We didn’t look anything alike! We were just friends! Friends! That was all in the past though…”

It was an unexpected outburst.

“In any case, we were the kind that it wouldn’t be surprising if we were caught anytime, or if we died anytime. At that time, I, like others, just foolishly hoped for tomorrow to be the same as today. But not the Gunther. He wanted to end this tedious street life, and to do that, he chose to rob the Lambert cage.”

“You joined him?”

“He couldn’t do it alone. Eventually, it formed a kind of thieves’ guild to rob the cage. What do you think happened?”

It was a question with a predetermined answer.

“You must have failed.”

“That’s right. We failed. We got caught right at the entrance before even trying anything. So what do you think happened next?”

Unlike the quick response before, this time I couldn’t come up with an easy answer.

It’s not that I don’t know.

The teenage children who came to rob the cage,

They were nothing more than unwanted thieves in the eyes of the cage, with no value as guests.

Thinking that they were sent off well is a big mistake.

It would be one of two things.

Either they were beaten to a pulp so they couldn’t even whimper again, or they were mercilessly killed right there.

“They’re all dead….”

The correct answer was the latter.

“Exactly. Everyone, except me and Gunther who were waiting outside, died. They said the thieves had to be punished. We lost all the friends who were like family in an instant.”

As I had already expected it, I wasn’t particularly surprised.

“Do you know? Actually, I felt quite relieved back then.”

“Relieved?”

“Yes. Because I felt like there was no need to cling to life anymore. Somehow, I felt relieved. Life had nothing good left to offer anyway, so I thought it was better to die quickly now.”

A bitter smile formed on her lips.

“It was Lindsay who saved me. She said living to avoid death is what people do, but I seemed like someone who couldn’t die and was just living. Then Lindsay reached out to me, asking if I would live for myself this time.”

It’s probably because she held that hand that she’s here in this position now.

“I wasn’t the only one who survived. Gunther, who cursed until the end, also managed to survive somehow. From then on, he just started working as a cage employee. Gunther, who had a bit of a knack for fighting, was quickly promoted to a guard, and I ended up doing odd jobs within the lodging facility.”

Her eyes, which had been fixed on the corpses, suddenly turned to the dagger clenched in her hand.

“But that was just a side job. The moment Lindsay took me in, I had to become a blade for her. From then on, I honed my skills with the blade every day.”

A blade, once grasped in hand, doesn’t naturally develop.

Perhaps Lindsay judged that she had talent for swordsmanship, and even assassination techniques.

Indeed, the movements she showed demonstrated a talent that couldn’t be achieved in a short time with mere effort.

“At first, it was all good. It felt like I was working hard to earn a living legitimately. But Gunther, it seems, wasn’t satisfied. After dominating the arena, he left the cage not long after. Lindsay didn’t really stop him either. She felt like she had used him enough and it was time to let him go…”

“Why did you stay?”

She couldn’t immediately respond.

“Actually, before he left, Gunther said something to me. He said I should leave too, that he would take care of me, and that we should get out of this miserable place quickly. But I couldn’t. The Gunther back then wasn’t the Gunther I knew anymore. He was just a cruel murderer who insisted that everything useless should be disposed of…”

I expected there to be some connection with that guy Gunther, but it seems like their relationship was closer than I thought.

The person themselves might not realize they’ve changed, but those around them who watch can often tell.

It couldn’t help but be sad.

Seeing your childhood friend gradually deteriorate into someone who revels in bloodshed.

Well, looking into her eyes now, it seems like she doesn’t have any of those emotions anymore.

“Don’t feel too sorry for me. It’s been twisted for so long already.”

“You don’t blame me…”

“What’s there to blame you for! You did the right thing by killing him! He wouldn’t have been any help to the world if he had lived!”

She seemed genuinely empathetic.

“The conversation went off track for a moment, didn’t it? You asked why I told the guest to leave? When I first saw the guest, I immediately thought of ourselves. Before reaching the cage, we still felt happy being together… When Lindsay first mentioned killing the guest, I immediately thought of my friends who had already left. So that’s why I told the guest to leave. I didn’t want to witness such deaths anymore.”

“Was that also why you tried to keep me from going to the arena?”

“Yes, that’s right. But it seems like it was a needless worry. I never imagined an assassin from the Mist would come…”

I smiled without saying a word.

Her gaze returned to Lindsay’s body.

“Even though the owner died, you don’t seem to show any signs of sadness.”

“Yeah, that’s right. I received a new life from her, but I don’t feel particularly sad, despite feeling empty.”

I guess her emotions have dulled to that extent.

Well, it’s not a bad thing.

For anyone who handles a blade, emotions are just unnecessary elements.

Once the job is done, there’s no reason to linger.

I turned away from her.

“Are you leaving?”

“The job is done.”

“Can I ask just one thing?”

I turned around and nodded my head.

“Is Zion your real name?”

I shook my head again in response.

“If you’re okay with it, could you tell me? The guest’s name…?”

I stared at her intently, wondering why she was curious about it now.

“There’s no particular reason! Most of the guests who come to the cage register under aliases, not their real names. If it’s difficult for you to say, you don’t have to! It’s just my personal desire to know the guest’s real name.”

Throughout my entire current existence, I’ve never left a purification job name behind.

It’s not like I deliberately didn’t say it.

It’s just that once the job is done, there’s no one left to listen.

In fact, there’s no need for me to say it, since it wouldn’t benefit me in any way, but…

“Cyan. Cyan Vert….”

It probably wouldn’t hurt.

For some reason, I have a feeling that my relationship with her won’t end here.

I left Lambert along that path.

* * *

“Your face has changed a lot, hasn’t it?”

Her eyebrows furrowed at the somewhat out-of-the-blue comment.

“Have you been injured?”

“Well, they say you can’t really say someone has changed unless there’s a physical change. When people gain enlightenment, their demeanor changes.”

Smooth transition, isn’t it?

Since we didn’t come to exchange comfortable reunion sentiments, I went straight to the point.

“You gave quite a heavy assignment for the break homework…”

“If it resulted in something for you, then it’s worth it, isn’t it?”

She smiled as if to say, “What’s the problem?”

I discreetly pulled out an item while pretending to blow my nose.

——————

——————

“Lindsay Nihalov… She seemed to really dislike the leader.”

The expression on the leader’s face was subtly changing as they examined the item.

“Surely, she had this?”

What I presented was a single dagger.

While it’s important who the owner of the dagger is, right now, it’s more important to focus on what kind of dagger this is.

A black blade enveloped by the night sky of darkness.

Such an eerie black sword not found in the market, nor made to order.

It’s an exclusive dagger only high-ranking members of the Mist can possess.

Perhaps the leader also has the same dagger.

“Lindsay was the descendant of some fallen aristocrat who fled from the slave market. The surname Nihalov is probably an alias. She joined the Mist to break free from all the chains that bound her.”

The leader’s chin rested on their hand as if an old memory had come to mind, a strange smile playing on their lips.

“She desired the future that the Mist pursued more than anyone else. It was almost as if she was born for it.”

“Did you ever consider quelling that desire?”

“Of course, I did. I told her to wait with hope that her time would come when she desired it. But it was futile. Her desire never seemed to wane, like a burning flame.”

The leader examined the dagger with interest.

“But in the end, she couldn’t wait and left the organization. I never imagined she still had the Mist’s dagger.”

The leader’s gaze turned back to me.

“Tell me straight. Was she the only one you killed?”

“…Surely, you don’t think it was just her?”

She flashed a satisfied smile.

“I’ve said it before, but you can display a flawless performance to the point where I have nothing to teach you. But the more perfect you are, the more you need to realize what you can and cannot do with your power. That’s the only way you can use your power without regrets.”

Using power without regrets…

Well, that’s true.

This lifetime is dedicated to living without regrets.

Naturally, I must use all the power I have without regret.

“Well, it wasn’t a particularly difficult task, was it? Even though she was an assassin from the Mist, she didn’t pose any threat to you.”

“…Do you really think so?”

“Whether you think so or not, it’s not like there were any other issues, right?”

As expected, she was unaware.

I changed my mind.

I had originally planned not to bring it out, but I felt it might be better to show it.

I dramatically pulled out another item from my pocket and placed it on the table.

“…The Ring of Absorption?”

It was an artifact she couldn’t possibly be unaware of, given her undercover employment as an academy instructor.

“What do you think is contained within this?”

From her expression, it seems she’s already realized what’s inside.

Her lips tremble like waves, her forehead creasing like a valley.

Seeing such a rare subtle reaction from the leader, akin to a poker face, is quite refreshing.

“This, too, is an item the target possessed. She mentioned that when she left the organization, she imbued the power of mist into this.”

Within the ring, a black mist imbued with the power of Aeru was slowly emanating like burning smoke.

“When… when did she…”

“Considering she was also a member of the Mist, couldn’t she freely traverse the Aeru’s void?”

In truth, the power of the gods isn’t as common as the air around us, but encapsulating it in such artifacts isn’t too difficult.

Even now, if one desires, the energy of this space we and the leader currently occupy could be captured within the ring.

Consider this: could there be someone who could be oblivious as a mosquito feeds on their arm?

Even if they could tolerate it for a while, there wouldn’t be anyone who wouldn’t notice, especially in a space where their power is abundant, if someone were to siphon it away.

That’s why the wretched god allowed it.

Ignorance would be a problem; awareness would be an even greater one.

“Aeru!!”

The mist figure, which had been approaching us just moments ago, suddenly retreated into the distance.

——————

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