Chapter 6 – Demon Witch
Orphen is waiting.
North of Totokanta lies Stairway Road, in the summer this road was like a slander jewel. Summer has just started. Travelers usually complement it’s dark green colors, though the fashion for this summer is light green. This season, the wind is blowing from the east, almost without interruption. The strong wind today was very unpleasant. Orphen was sitting in what looked like a river bank, he stared down the other side of the road——towards the city of Totokanta.
Orphen had been waiting for a while. However, his face did not reveal his anxious expression, you could just say that he wanted to wait for a bit longer. With his sword slung over his shoulder, he ran his fingers along the battered sheath.
At last, from the direction he was looking in rolled up a small carriage covered in dust. As it approached he could hear the sounds of two horses galloping and the wheels turning, the carriage wasn’t that big. The rooftop of the black carriage slowly came into view, Orphen slowly stood up, he then moved to the center of the road and stretched out his arms.
He shouted. The carriage was about ten metres away, he could see the driver cursing to himself while pulling at the reins.
The carriage stopped. He could see the words “Alliance of Sorcerers” written on the side, the words were thinly tinted with gold.
The man on the carriage was about 40 years old, he jumped off the carriage to face Orphen. However, Orphen revealed his dragon necklace to him and he immediately become very respectful.
“Where are you heading?”
Orphen asked impatiently.
“……Totokanta, how far away is it?”
“Oh, it’s about three kilometers away.”
“If that’s the case, I could easily be there in ten minutes.”
“Shut up and do what I tell you! Hurry up and get out of here now!.”
“Just do it already!”
Orphen shouted, then carriage then swiftly moved towards Totokanta. After it was out of his sight, Orphen started to move.
His voice was louder this time, but with a hint of sadness.
“Come out. You should have suspected that I’d be waiting here for you!”
Orphen had already done a great deal of thinking, but he doesn’t regret it. But in his heart there still remained doubt, and not knowing what the future would bring. Though, he really wanted to confirm if initial suspicions were correct.
The other side of the carriage door was opened, he saw a tall man walk down from the steps. It was at that very moment, that all those feelings and emotions came rushing back to him.
“What do you want, Krylancelo?”
Childman’s feet touched the ground, he was holding the Sword of Baltanders Orphen carefully looked at him, and he was holding the sword as if it was an extension of himself. Five years ago when Azalie turned, that sword was covered in blood. A few days ago that sword was removed from the Everlasting residence. And now——it was in Childman’s hands.
“You know why I’m here.”
“……Do I? Though know this, your actions the other day were treasonous. But, you did lure out the monster for us. I will let the other’s know this, while they determine your punishment.”
“Quite the speech, that’s not the Childman I know.”
Orphen said meaningfully. Childman’s usual cold face now wore a slight shocked expression.
Childman was silent for a moment. However, he eventually sighed, but when he finally spoke it was like Orphen was talking to a totally different person.
“……Since when did you notice?”
“When you gave the flying monster the fatal blow, he told me something as he was dying.”
Orphen stared at Childman, and continued.
“Hey, Azalie. I want to talk about……your rather poor response to my call.”
Childman wasn’t a handsome man, but his rather cold expressions always did have it’s charm. However, he has changed, and Orphen has noticed this.
Five years ago, his instincts and mannerism were just like Azalie’s.
“……What are you planning to do?”
Five years ago, she was asked this same question. On her face appeared a humble smile, the Sword of Baltanders in her hand trembled ever so slightly. But these fingers that clung to the sword were Childman’s.
The sword was now placed into an ancient scabbard. Between the hilt and the blade there was a moon, with a state of a beast.
Orphen’s attention moved from the sword to the person standing in front of him. He reached a decision.
“I’ve made a decision.”
“It’s good to see you again. You’ve become strong, Krylancelo.”
“After all, it’s been five years. Though, I’m still not that wise.”
“Maybe. However, I have an indescribable impression of you. Compared to Childman and Hartia, you’ve become a rather gentle sorcerer. If I were to choose a partner, it would be you.”
“As you said. I realized that you would be waiting here for me. You saw through me and saw who I truly was, unlike Hartia and the others. But you, you understand me. Only you.
“……Can you begin to explain. That guy in the carriage will probably be back soon.”
Azalie nodded, but then her smile reverted to that of the deadly Childman——
“Five years ago, I failed to cast the right magic with the sword. And as a result, I transformed into that monster, and I began to wander the land. That’s when Childman and the other black sorcerers began to chase me, to keep the reputation of the Tower from being stained, they tried to erase my existence. The should still be some evidence for me to get rid of, after all, I never did lose my sanity.”
Azalie’s dark eyes shined in the light. She snorted, then continued.
“Throughout the last five years I always retained my sanity, while evading Childman. And during this time, my lovely brother has grown up to be quite the man.”
When she was talking she was putting her feelings into words, while smiling. But her face soon turned serious.
“It was about a month ago, that I knew if it continued that one day I would go insane. Even if I didn’t, one day Childman would kill me. So, I looked for ways to free myself.”
“……That’s when you thought about the Sword of Baltanders, and how it could restore you to your original self.”
Orphen muttered, while Azalie nodded.
“However, five years ago Childman hid the sword.”
“Yeah, I heard about that.”
“Childman wanted to end the hunt. You know how I’m good with white magic, right? I wasn’t prepared to take advantage of Childman, so he replaced his spirit with me. You could call it an exchange. Honestly, I didn’t think it would work but it seems I won.”
“……So, Childman is gone?”
Orphen spoke with a depressed voice.
She shrugged, and continued talking.
“They hunted me for five years, many times it was kill or be killed.”
Orphen just looked at her without saying a word. Azalie saw this as him agreeing with her, so she continued.
“It sounds ironic, I know. Childman always did think he could restore me. I followed his trail to Totokanta, where he broke into the some mansion. I knew the sword had to be there, you know the rest. To retrieve the sword, I had to kill Childman.
“So, you felt the need to remove Childman from the world. You killed many people from the Tower of Fang, and Childman will have to face the consequences. After that, you should try and hide someone. You also might want to change into someone else.”
“……It’s not that easy.”
A wry smile emerged on Azalie’s face, then she continued talking.
“That’s why I failed five years ago. Using the sword I could have changed my appearance, but it is still a weapon. And when I stabbed myself with it, it broke my mental concentration and thus I became that monster.”
“You could still try again.”
“Yes, I plan to do so. But……what are you going to do now?”
Azalie said in a defiant tone, although this could be because she was in Childman’s taller body. But Orphen still looked at her, just like he did when they were at the Tower.
Orphen stared directly into Azalie’s eyes. Her appearance was that of Childman’s, but the way her eyes and voice seemed was just like Azalie’s. Orphen gripped his sheath, and pulled out his sword.
“Do you plan on using that?”
Azalie asked. Orphen shook his head and murmured softly.
“If you were my lover, I would accept what you’ve said. However, that is not the case. You killed Childman.”
“Didn’t you hear me? It was kill or be killed.”
“You’re a smart person, you should have tried to avoid killing people. But in order to save your life you……killed.”
Orphen’s could feel his voice becoming strained.
“Are you calling me a murderer?”
Orphen harshly answered Azalie’s response.
“I respect you. But this is betrayal.”
“You think too highly of me. Did you expect me to run forever.”
“But still, you didn’t have to kill him.”
“It was kill or be killed. He tried to kill me——”
Orphen shouted, as he waved his sword.
“Why do you think he personally hid the sword? Why do you think he came after you personally? If he was going to replace his spirit with yours, why was he looking for the sword? He’s not the type of guy who gives empty promises, he said it was impossible to restore you with the sword. But he lied——he knew the sword could restore you. He wanted to save you himself!
“……That’s nothing more than speculation.”
“At your funeral, he said to me, turning you back into human was impossible. He also said I couldn’t do it——that’s because he thought he could do it.”
Orphen finished. By looking at Azalie——or rather Childman, you could easily tell that her spirit was shaken. He had never seen Childman’s face like this, that’s because this expression was Azalie’s. Orphen continued talking.
“He always wanted to save you using his own means, instead of mine. This whole hunt was a farce, he was using their magic to find your whereabouts. And all this time I was wandering around the place, he was on your tail. But then again, he always was more clever than me.”
Orphen finished talking, he was out of breath and feeling a little tired. While he gasped for air, Azalie looked at him with an odd expression. And then sighed.
“Such a nasty topic. Five years go, do you know why I used the sword?”
Azalie said, as she pulled out the Sword of Baltanders.
“I was hoping that the old man would notice me. I am a woman, and I wanted to be worthy enough to be his woman.”
She stuck the sword directly into the ground, her hands firmly on the tilt. Orphen’s gaze turned from the sword back to Azalie, as she then threw the scabbard to the ground. The scabbard rattled as the hit the streets protruding stones.
Orphen also raised his sword.
“Then why did you kill him?”
“I don’t know……maybe it was because my purpose has been achieved.”
“Maybe didn’t recognize me.”
She joking said, the she made her move.
She held the sword to Orphen’s throat, then he slowly stepped back.
“I’m only kidding. However, I hope you can understand me. I had no other choice.”
Orphen gripped the hilt of his sword with mixed feelings. He knew he had to do this. Was he truly here to kill her, he couldn’t make sense of things.
Azalie raised his sword for him. From his point of view, the tip of the sword was pointing directly into the sky. Childman would never lift a sword like that, he could easily tell that Azalie was enjoying herself.
This is Azalie, Orphen told himself. Even though she wasn’t Childman anymore, he carefully thought about if maybe both of them created a new personality.
Azalie then moved Childman’s body forward in a very fast motion.
Orphen could tell that this was one of her moves, and if it is she won’t follow up her first attack. Orphen then attempted to lure her closer, as both of them were pitted against each other.
Azalie was so determined that she didn’t even breath. Step after step she came ever closer, and before he knew it the tip of the sword almost touched him——
It was so fast that he couldn’t hear the sword whipping upwards past him.
Orphen didn’t even move. She aimed to deal a violent blow to his shoulder.
However, at that very moment, he used all the strength in his body to block the sword and swiped it from her hand.
The sword tumbled through the air, and fell behind Orphen. For a moment, both of them stood motionless. Azalie was totally in dismay, and looked down at Childman’s empty hands.
“You weren’t aiming to kill, Azalie.”
Orphen moved to sword into his right hand.
“After all, I have no chance of winning against you. Do you remember that ring? The which can be used in self-defense, and only once.”
“……You had that ring on your finger?”
“Well, actually you don’t need to wear it on your finger. As long as it’s inside you, it can still be used.”
Orphen with his left hand, patted his belly. Azalie stared at him in disbelief, as Orphen stepped towards her. This time she didn’t retreat, but laugh.
“You can’t be serious! You moron, I can’t believe you actually——”
Azalie laughed uncontrollably, but Orphen continued to approach her.
“This is a showdown, Azalie.”
Azalie suddenly hid her smile, and like a cat she quickly squatted and rushed him——
Orphen moved his sword downwards, and he could hear the sword physically impacting the Demon-Witch Azalie. She screamed as she fell backwards.