That Day Long Long Ago
The long, long battle finally came to an end. The sun had already sunk and risen three times. On the battlefield, where a towering mountain once stood, ocean water flowed into the newly created colossal gulf. The hellfires devouring the trees, showing no signs of extinguishing, left a trail of death and blackened ash in their wake.
Countless metal pieces lay scattered around the area. Upon closer inspection, one with the proper knowledge would recognize them as the remains of various Talismans. The most common fragments were those of the ‘arrow reflection’ Talisman, specially made in the central workshops of the Holy Empire. The copper fragments floating on the waves belonged to the ‘disease resistance’ Talisman originating in West Garmond. The drops of liquid iron glowing hot red on the trees came from the ‘destiny guard’ Talisman, which had been a closely guarded secret of the Selenslode mage faction until just a few days ago. A compilation of the most powerful magic available to humans, drawn from literally all over the world, rolled about on the ground, already used up long past its limits.
“Geez, that took longer than expected.” Not even the strength to lift a single finger remained in the young man’s body. Throwing down his broken sword, he sat down on a nearby boulder. “No one told me I would have to go this far to win.”
“I’m the one who should be saying that, youngster.” The unpleasant voice of an old man shook the air around him slightly, as if resounding up from the bottom of some deep abyss. “But… squeezing every last drop out of that puny life of yours to come this far… I’ll recognize you for that point alone.”
“Doesn’t make me feel any better. Not like being recognized by you is going to extend my time remaining… more importantly, how the hell are you even talking? You’re dead by now, aren’t you?”
“Indeed. After having my body so thoroughly destroyed, even I must now be immersed in the silence of death. Exchanging thoughts with you right now is merely my echo.”
“Ah, I see. Well I feel better now.”
Seven highly forbidden spells, eleven Percival swords enhanced to the point of self destruction, and even secret sword techniques that he was unqualified to use. If he still couldn’t finish the job after using all those, he would be out of options.
“… it’s kind of late to be saying this, but that was marvelous. Wielding that much power all by yourself, despite being a weak human… truly terrifying. If you used that strength against the humans, you could probably raze two or three countries within one night. But… I guess in the end, that power came with a price, huh?”
A thin, stringy substance resembling fog whirled around the young man. The wisps gradually increased in number and clinged to his body, as if trying to tie him up.
“Using forbidden spells on such a large scale… the backlash will surely curse and torment the user. Simply chanting one can cause one’s body to break and soul to disappear. Multiplying that by seven… I cannot even imagine such horrifying pain.”
“If I was going to die anyway, it didn’t matter if I used one or seven… on top of that, there’s no way I can fight anymore, so pain and suffering don’t matter.”
“… doesn’t seem like a reasonable justification.”
“I’ve been told that since long ago, but being told by an actual monster feels somewhat different.”
A cackling laugh.
“I guess if you weren’t prepared for that, you wouldn’t challenge a god, huh? Well, it’s about time for us to part. I now enter a hundred year’s sleep.”
“Hurry up and get lost. At least be quiet as you go to meet your death.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll honor your request as a reward for your victory…”
The voice faded away, melting into the wind along with the sense of intimidation that had filled the surrounding air.
“… hey, you dead yet?” the young man asked, but no answer came.
A dry crackling sound came from his feet. Mustering all his remaining strength just to bend his neck and look down, the young man saw his ankles transforming into a lump of stone. The sound intensified as the dull, gray color climbed up his body. Knees. Thighs. Back. Up and up it went. Seven fatal curses all piled up on top of each other, mixing and interfering in a complex way to produce the phenomenon occurring in front of his eyes.
His entire body up to his chest now almost completely transformed into stone, the young man laughed.
“Well, I was planning on returning home… but I guess things aren’t going to work out so nicely.”
He gazed up at the sky and uttered his final words, in the vain hopes that they would reach those important people, who were surely somewhere far away, looking up at the same blue sky.
“Sorry, Leila. You’re gonna have to return home with just master. Sorry, Suwon. You’re gonna have to deal with Leila’s selfishness in my stead. Emi… I don’t think I had any promises with you. I’m sure you’ll be fine on your own, but live a good life for me.”
And also… also…
As he spoke, his body continued to transform into stone at a frightening speed. There were too many names he wanted to call in the too short time he had remaining. The young man sifted through all the faces floating around in his head and narrowed them down to just one.
“Almaria… I’m really sorry.” The last name he chose was that of the ‘Daughter’, who waited in an orphanage in a faraway land. “It looks like I won’t be able to eat that butter cake after all.”
A soft clink signaled the end. All that remained was a mass of stone in the shape of a young man.