To Be a Power in the Shadows! - Chapter 44

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 09:21:43]
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Chapter 44: Holy Sword Excalibur



I’m the type of person who doesn’t have a lot of likes nor dislikes. And most of those things I classify as ‘whatever things.’


Even though they’re just ‘whatever,’ I still do have my preferences. They’re not particularly important to me nor even necessary, but what I like is what I like, and what I dislike is what I dislike. No matter how hard I may try to make rational distinctions, it’s not possible to rationalize even feelings.


I call them my ‘whatever likes’ and my ‘whatever dislikes.’


Among my ‘whatever likes’ are hot springs.


In my previous life, there was a period of time when I did not bathe at all. At that time, I had thought bathing to be an absolute waste of time. But with that said, I did still have to keep up with my mob life, so I showered for exactly 3 minutes everyday. It’s the time for soaking in a bath that I dealt away with, opting instead to dedicate that time to further training.


It was around that time that I had felt myself hitting the limits of being human, so even mentally speaking I had no room for baths. I was seriously considering how to punch back a taepodong with a right straight.


After many things happened, I eventually realized that my head was in an unnatural state, so I did recover the habit of taking baths. What triggered it was hot springs. The act of soaking in hot water gives the heart composure. Composure is directly linked to the quality of training, and induces the flexibility necessary to sense magic and aura and all that.


And so, I am now in a hot spring.


Lindwurm is apparently famous as a hot springs town too, so I’m enjoying it in secret.


The time now is early morning, because I like entering hot springs in the early morning. Of course, it’s not that I don’t go in at all during nighttime, I just prefer early morning more. The reason is because almost no one else does this, so I get to feel like I’d reserved the whole place.


Today I had also come in hopes of the full reservation, but it seems that there is a prior customer here who had the exact same thought as me. As my bad luck would have it, it turns out to be Alexia.


With her silvery white hair tied up, she widens her red eyes for a second upon seeing me, but then immediately turns to look off at nowhere in particular.


After that, we both pretend to not see each other, maintaining a mutual non-intervention policy. This spring is a place only for super high class people to use, and in the early morning when there are very few users, the partition is removed and the entire place becomes a mixed bath. As I soak in both the spring and the rising sun, I think to myself how great it would feel if I really did have this place all to myself, what with this wide a spring, the sea of clouds under my eyes, and the beautiful sunrise.


Alexia and I are occupying opposites ends of the outdoors spring with the best view, watching the sun climb up amidst a rather uncomfortable silence.


In the corner of my eyes, I see Alexia’s white skin shake and cause waves on the water surface.


It’s a bit of a waste, but let’s get out a bit early. Or so I am thinking, when Alexia suddenly breaks the silence.


“Is your wound all healed?”


So she asks in a voice relatively soft for her.


“All healed.”


Wound? Which wound is she talking about? So I think to myself while answering.


“I got a bit emotional and reflexively cut you for real, but well, I’m glad that you’re alright.”


“Thanks, I guess?”


Oh, so she’s talking about that wound.


Having been together with her for as long as I have, I understand that this is her way of an apology. I had thought that she didn’t know what an apology is because no one had taught her, but apparently this is an Alexia-style apology.


“I guess I’ll also apologize then, for thinking that you’d turned into an indiscriminate slasher.”


After a small splash, several drops of water hit my face.


“Like hell I would.”


“That’s what they all say. So anyways, why are you in Lindwurm?”


“VIP for the Trial of the Goddess. You?”


“I got invited here by a friend who told me there’d be a fun event. I’m starting to think it’s probably the Trial, but do you know what they actually do there?”


Alexia sighs audibly.


“So you came here without knowing even that? The Trial of the Goddess is a fight that takes place once per year, on the day when the door to the Holy Ground opens. Memories of ancient warriors are summoned from the Holy Ground, and challengers fight against those memories. Any magic swordsman can participate by submitting an application beforehand, but the ancient warriors might not necessarily respond. Every year, several hundreds of magic swordsmen challenge it, but only about 10 people get to actually fight.”


Sounds interesting. Maybe Alpha is planning to join this?


“By what standards are they selected?”


“Apparently it’s based on whether or not there is a matching ancient warrior or not. In most cases, the ancient warrior that shows up is slightly stronger than the challenger, which is why the name became Trial of the Goddess. Around 10 years ago, there was a wandering swordsman called Venom who managed to summon the hero Olivie, which became a hot topic for a very long time.”


Heeh~ Did he win?”


“I heard that he lost. But it’s not like I was there in person, so I can’t confirm nor deny it. Same for whether or not it was actually the hero Olivie that he summoned.”


Fu~un.”


Would Alpha be able to call out the hero? Wouldn’t it be fun if she does?


“So you’re not participating? I heard that you got a lot stronger lately though.”


“As if I would. This year I’m busy with something. Actually, there’s a lot of dark rumors about the archbishop here. So I’m here to investigate.”


“Dark rumors?”


“I’m not going to tell you. If you really want to know, come join the Crimson Order.”


“Then I’m good, thanks.”


“Come join after you graduate.”


“I’m good, thanks.”


“I’ll fill out the application for you.”


“Don’t you dare.”


“You’re so stubborn.”


Then the conversation hits a lull.


We are again wrapped in silence. Now it doesn’t feel so bad.


“I had expected a stare like being licked all over, but it seems I’d guessed wrong.”


She did not specify a stare of what.


“That’s quite some confidence.”


“Being as perfectly beautiful as I am, the lust-filled gazes just never stop, so it’s a bit troubling.”


So troubled that you don’t bother covering up?


“When in a hot spring, I try not to look at other people. So that everyone can properly enjoy it.”


“That’s a good attitude.”


“Which is why you should stop sneaking peeks at my Excalibur.”


“Pft!”


Alexia laughs. She is laughing at me from the bottom of her heart.


“You call that Excalibur? You sure you didn’t mean Earthworm?”


“If you think that it’s an earthworm, then that is fine. I’m fine with both whatever you want to call it. But just, a warning for you.”


I stand up with a splash, causing waves to spread.


“Never judge a book by its cover. What you thought to be an earthworm might be actually only still sheathed.”


Then I turn to leave the spring without covering myself up at all.


“Wha-, what’s that supposed to mean……”


So mutters Alexia with crimson cheeks.


“The Holy Sword, once drawn from its sheath, with naked blade released, would surely become the guide to the Garden of Chaos……”


So I say profoundly, before slapping my butt, pechin, with my towel passed underneath my crotch.


I like doing this thing that ossans do when they get out of hot springs. There’s no meaning to it. But if I don’t do this when I get out, it doesn’t feel like I was in a hot spring. I do it two more times, pechin, pechin, before finally going to the dressing room.


Around when I finish getting clothed, I hear two pechin’s from the direction of the spring.


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