Chapter 13 – Welfer
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"Who's that?" Kaiji pointed at the blonde guy before them and turned to Simonne.

"...He's We-"

"Welfer." The blonde young man- Welfer, cut him off mid-sentence as he smiled mockingly. "Welfer Caldwell. Nice to see you."

"What do you want?" Simonne tightly creased his brows as he could somehow guess that the person before him was definitely not off to something good. Well... thinking about it now, he never really did.

"Nothing, really." Welfer shrugged his shoulders and looked directly at Simonne. "I just simply want to greet someone- you, precisely. You've spent about three months at the Hierron Continent, I'm sure you're ought to be feeling exhausted by now, yes?"

"..." Simmone pursed his lips for a moment before he finally remembered something. "...Is this about Saki?"

Welfer's expression instantly darkened.

"So it is, huh?" Simonne chuckled.

"What's going on?" Kaiji whispered at his companion. "And who's Saki?"

"She's my friend." Simonne responded. "I don't really know what's going on between her and Welfer, but by the looks of it, the latter probably likes Saki." He paused for a moment. "...And I... might have ruined something Welfer have specially prepared for her before I've left here, I think."

"Enough!" Although the two of them were whispering on each others ear, Welfer still seemed to have heard them despite that and the long distance. "Get them!"

Welfer gestured at his more or less dozens of underlings towards the two of them to go forth and sneered. 'This is what you'll get from getting in my way to get to Saki.'

He had prepared it for a long time. He readied all the things, outfit, rehearsed the words he should say... everything, and even mustered a huge amount of courage, just to ask Saiki out. But... but of all the worst of things to happen, just why did it have to be also the same time Simonne had to leave?

The memory that time still lingered at his mind like a clear glass.

**

"S-saki?"

"Umm..."

Please say yes, please say yes...

"I-" But before the girl had even barely started to utter out a word, another feminine voice cut her off.

"Oii!"

"...What?"

"Simonne... Is your friend called Simonne?"

"Yes. Why?"

"He was tasked by the Institute's higher-ups to spy inside the Congregation's Empire, and was about to leave today now! You have to hurry if you still want to see him!"

"What?!" The girl widened his eyes in surprise. "A-alright, let's hurry!"

The two of them left in a blink of an eye.

"..." Welfer blankly stared at where they've gone at, not knowing what to do.

**

Welfer gritted his teeth while remembering what happened three months ago. 'I won't forgive you!'

"Don't show any mercy!" Welfer shouted, venting out all of his bottled-up emotions to the person who had caused all of that to happen. Oh, how he dearly wished to tear him into pieces.

When Simonne saw all those dozens of men heading towards their way, he reflexively took Kaiji behind his back and made his stance. With a shing, the blade from his waist unsheathed out and guarded his front, reflecting the sun's light. He held his sword out for everyone to see before saying, "Come if you dare."

The dozen or so men dashed towards him while screaming at the top of their lungs, raising their weapons (swords and daggers) overhead.

*Clang*

The swords interconnected and made a sharp noise before Simonne whirled his blade and made the opponent's sword flew out of the user's grasp. He then made a blow using the hilt of his sword and struck the chest of the opponent, making him gasp and fall off his feet.

*Clang*

Another one tried to make a slash to him but he quickly parried off the blow, resulting for the opponent to stagger back. With the enemy losing his guard, Simonne sent out a swift kick to the opponent's leg.

*Clang*

*Clang*

*Clang*

The remaining opponents entrapped Simonne by forming a circle to catch his guard down. They stood by his flanks and continuously landed blows upon blows using their blades. But it was as if Simonne had an eye behind his head, he effortlessly warded the strikes and made his lethal counters.

"...!" Kaiji, who was now watching from a distance, couldn't help but let out a gasp of admiration. It was as if he was watching a graceful dance instead of a sword battle, he couldn't take his eyes off them.

'Wait...' Kaiji just remembered something. Back then when they were fighting in the village, fighting even just three enemies made Simonne wear down that fast. But how could he hold on to multiple (dozens even) opponents such as this effortlessly? Was he just pretending to be weak that time? Kaiji made a mental note to himself that he should ask that to Simonne after this.

"What?!" On the other hand, the person who stood across them had a look of disbelief etched upon his face. Welfer gritted his teeth when he thought of the only way on how he could be this strong in swordplay. "Master Morth..."

"I've had enough!" Welfer loudly yelled out. "You useless punks, get out of the way!"

After shouting that, he kicked the ground with his feet and rushed at where Simonne stood. When Welfer's underlings heard that their boss said himself that he would fight the opponent, they, without a moment of hesitation, moved towards the side and began to eagerly watched the upcoming battle. They believed that, without a doubt, their boss would win the fight- not just because they were forced to believe so but because they've seen what their boss can do before. And only in one word, they could describe that- fierce.

Simonne narrowed his eyes at the person who was now heading towards his direction before he widened his eyes. Looking closely at Welfer, he could somehow make out some faint traces of yellow light. And even the faintest of traces of light in one's body only meant one thing- it meant that he was using the Sigil of Reformation.

*CLANG*

Welfer landed out a heavy blow using his blade at Simonne's sword and made him flew for over a dozen of meter.

*Cough*

Simonne quickly propped himself up and wiped the blood upon his lips. Fortunately, he somehow managed to react in the shortest amount of time and barely activated his own Sigil to protect himself. The overall damaged Welfer dealt to him weren't that bad, thanks to his fast reflexes. But, if he did not manage to activate his Sigil in time...

"Are you trying to kill me?" Simonne angrily glared at the blonde young man before him and loudly hollered.

"Heh." Welfer did not respond to his angry complaints but instead prepared for another attack. Kicking the ground with his feet again, he charged towards Simonne and raised his blade.

Simonne modified his Sigil to focus on physical strength and prepared himself for yet another clash.

"Guooo!"

*CLANG*

The violent strike of blades brought upon a slight tremble to the surrounding and made intense sharp metal cry. Simonne successfully blocked his opponent's attack.

"Is that all?" Simonne laugh in derision.

"Raaaghh!!"

*CLANG*

Simonne successfully blocked another attack and used an opening to counter back.

*CLANG*

"Grahhhh!!"

*CLANG*

*CLANG*

*CLANG*

...

*CLANG*

After a several dozens of strikes, Welfer kicked the ground and propelled himself backwards, making a gap in distance from Simonne.

It was evident that the both of them were the same in terms of swordplay and strength.

"Are you scared now?" Simonne chuckled. Although he was still laughing in the outside, he couldn't really say that he himself was in better condition than his opponent now. His hands were now trembling and the feeling of his sword's hilt was now gone and numb. But he firmly suppressed all of that and even said, "You're giving up now?"

Welfer's expression was contorted in a tenebrific manner as he tightly grasped his sword.

Even his underlings were now looking at him in a worried manner.

Welfer gritted his teeth. "This can't be..."

He was older than Simonne by three years, had an even more masculine, larger body than him, had many years of experiences in various brutal battles, and was always praised by people more often than him, how could he himself be weaker than such a person?

He can't take this.

But then a flash of thought emerged in his mind.

"...Right!" Welfer crazily laughed at himself for being such an idiot. "Why did I not think of that?"

"..." Simonne silently watched his opponent laughed at himself.

"Haha..." Welfer coldly smiled and, for the last time, kicked the ground with his feet and thrust himself forward in an immense speed, inconceivable for an ordinary person.

Seeing his enemy once more charge forth, Simonne lifted up his weapon and prepared for the upcoming blow.

"..."

But it never came.

The place where he had last seen Welfer was now an empty space, with only disordered soils and strewn out grasses laid down the ground.

"...!"

But with a quick shift of his head, he finally saw where he was actually.

"KAIJI!!"

Welfer widely grinned to himself while raising up his sword. And with a flick, brought it down in a breakneck speed, even faster than before.

"..."

"...!"

"What?!"

Simonne could not believe his own eyes.

Kaiji was holding off the edge of the blade itself, with only one hand.

A moment of silence ensued for a long while.

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