[Volume 4.] Episode 24 (Part 3)
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Seth put away his books, done with studying for the day. He worked hard to get into Sato Academy and he’d be damned if anything or anyone would get him behind in his studies. He started toward his PC but stopped. Now wasn’t the time to play Loli Saga Online.

He wondered if he should train more. His skills had reached incredible heights, but the team had no reason to give a hoot that he existed. Did Seth care? Not a damned bit. He still questioned why he even bothers to remain on it. No one would notice his absence anyway.

Hell, he didn’t have much of a relationship with any of the others, except for Toru. Clyde was a great leader, though the dude didn’t want to admit it—and could easily find someone to replace him. Why put is neck on the line for them? Despite the crap they’ve been through, the battles fought, the only people that seemed to be gaining anything were Clyde and the women. The man didn’t even want the glory and still got it. Now he was supposedly some deity.
Seth actually agreed. The things that he did when his eyes took on that frightening glow made the young man question life.

Still, he felt it was time to leave the team. He didn’t consider any of them friends really, maybe associates, but nothing more. Comrades when it mattered, but distant outside of battle. Besides, he had his own friends.

He owed nothing—not to Clyde nor the demoness. Not a damned thing. He shook his head. Clyde was the reason why Maki lost her goddamn mind. Before he arrived, she was nice to everyone, smiled a lot, didn’t let being the most popular girl in school swell up her head. She valued purity. Then Mr. deity came along with whatever magic and corrupted the girl. Now her life was ruined. How many others would he corrupt?

Seth sighed.

“It’s not his fault. It’s not like he asked for this shit. Still…sometimes the man believes he’s invincible. Arrogant to the bone. Maybe that’s how a team leader should be.” He shook his head. “I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive him or his corruption.”
Deciding to train anyway, he trailed through the living room, nodded at his parents but before he could get far, his mother spoke.

“Keep up the good work, son. I’m so proud of you.”

He stepped outside without another word, annoyed. His mother had no idea of the pressures of that ridiculous academy. The testing days began on Wednesday. Because of the flaunting to Clyde’s stupid calls at every moment, he missed out on valuable study time. The dude must think of Seth as some silly servant to fling at his every whim. Well, he could just fuck himself.

Seth thrust his hands forward, allowing magic to spill from them in various patterns. He practiced martial arts while handling the power, rather than using his flame bat. He couldn’t imagine how that would look if his neighbors or parents saw him swinging it like some psychopath.

This was another thing that seemed to bring glee to his mother. Seeing her son working out, practicing complex motions. He lost count on how many times she suggested he go find a wife. The thought of a wife brought Maya to his mind. His friends in high places managed to keep all of his information hidden from the toad woman. He…didn’t want to hurt her, she just wanted to be loved, but Seth wasn’t ready for marriage. Monster girls forced it. They “took husband” in some weird way from their realm. Endless sex and lust, he was surprised Maya had time to actually run her companies. Seth spat to the side, intensifying his training. He had the chance to just go for a normal life but foolishly involved himself with the Stone. Now, look at him, awesome on the outside, miserable in the inside.

His phone beeped with a notification. Clyde wanted everyone to meet at the festival that night. Prepare to fight vampires he said—Seth sneered. He wouldn’t be taking any more orders from this guy. He wasn’t going to be treated like some lackey. Seth worked hard for everything, but when he left his guard open too long, someone tried to take advantage of him. Maybe that was why every relationship failed. Well, it didn’t matter. If he wanted to at least get into the top Sato Academy fifty, the young man would have to work harder. No time for normal things such as relationships. Besides, if all monster girls were real, what about fairies and elves? Now that, he’d stand by. Seth practiced for another hour before concluding.

That’s when he heard someone…

“You could be great, but you let yourself fall as a shadow to others. A minion, a lackey. Comic relief.”

Seth turned around—he knew that voice.

“What are you doing here? We told you, you’re not welcomed to this house anymore.”

A man of deep blonde hair, eyes with a green that matched emeralds, walked toward Seth dressed in a light coat and pants, all black. Grey aura surrounded him—this Seth never noticed back then since he didn’t have the training in magic.

“I’m still your brother,” the man said. “Like me or not, I came to help you.” He stopped just a yard from Seth.

“You are not welcomed here, Julius. Get out of here before Dad sees you. I’m not in the mood for your arguing.”

“You’re gifted, working for someone like a lapdog, but… the city’s safe now. The moment I heard the news—I just had to come see it for myself. One of the witches showed me the magical residues of those responsible and I immediately picked out yours.” He chuckled. “And here I set off to be an adventurer, got so much stronger, only to find out the demon lord was beaten by…a ragtag group of gifted. Or so we think you’re ragtag.” He inspected the backyard. “This place is still the same, aye, little bro.”

Seth started to walk away, but Julius teleported in front of him. The man actually teleported.

“I mean no harm to you nor our parents,” he said then gave Seth that irritating con man grin that he always hated. “Take this. With it, you’ll be able to show your friends some real power.”

He pulled out a familiar glowing orange orb from his pockets. “It is called an Omen’s sphere. Concentrate and pull magic from it and you’ll be untouchable. I will warn you though, draw too much and you’ll lose your damn mind. What’s that old saying, too much power, responsibility, something. Take it.”

Seth stared at it with widened eyes for a nearly a minute. Despite his talk about not being a lackey, he knew Clyde had some kind of mission to kill a Viper or something. The asshole told the women about it in detail. He somehow managed to get bits and pieces from Toru. He wasn’t important enough to learn all of the details. Just a background member of the great Clyde’s team, there to just die and be forgotten.

He snatched the Omen’s sphere from his brother while snarling. It actually took him a moment to realize his facial expression and straighten back to neutral. Not even the autumn breeze was enough to cool him down.

“This doesn’t change anything,” Seth said. “I heard rumors of you being apart of some cult. I don’t know what it is, but I want no part of it, you hear.”

“So you’ll just follow that guy around like his puppy?” Julius said. “Is this what my little brother has become. Someone else’s cannon fodder? And you call yourself a Kolin? I don’t see Seth Kolin—I see Seth henchman.”

“I am not a fucking henchman,” Seth snapped.

“Yeah you are,” Julius said, voice still nonchalant. “You bend your neck for that guy and smile in his face. And he hasn’t shown that he gives even a half a shit about your opinion, your existence. You’re cannon fodder, let’s be honest.”

Seth sneered at his brother.

“Get the fuck out of here.”

“Fine,” Julius said. “But remember my words. That guy will get you killed and not care. But if you work with me, your own flesh and blood, you’ll gain fame while saving this world.” He shrugged. “Your choice, bro, you’re nineteen. Don’t let our parents decide your life and definitely not that guy. Cannon fodder.”

Seth was about to smash his fist into Julius face, but the man disappeared, just like that, like a magician. His words hurt because they were true. They…were fucking true. What value did he add to the team anyway? To Clyde’s team… Getting yelled at by some magical girl? Getting his ass kicked by supernatural beings and monsters stronger than him? Despite his abilities, he mostly taught himself.

He took a deep breath, eyes hardening. He didn’t hate Clyde. He couldn’t, but he wouldn’t be someone’s lapdog. His brother’s words…they stung too deep.

Maybe he… He’ll be going to the festival, alright, but not just to fight some vampires.

Seth inhaled some of the Omen’s sphere’s power. Then fell to a knee, feeling an ecstasy that he never experienced in his life—he…felt alive, incredible, maybe even god-like. He inhaled just a bit more, but heeded his brother’s warning. An orange aura flickered around him.

“I need to kick his ass,” Seth said to the Omen’s sphere. “For what he did to Maki and for just being full of himself. Grant me the power to do so.”

He pocketed the baseball-sized orb and started toward his house. He’d get changed, get ready for this “festival.” First, he’d deal with the vampires, so they wouldn’t get in the way. Seth wasn’t going to let Clyde take all of the spotlight. Afterward, challenge him.

He…wasn’t a lackey, no matter what his brother said. He…wasn’t. Anger jolted through Seth. He could feel the Omen’s sphere heat up as if responding to him. “I will beat him. Then quit the team. No one’s going to treat me like cannon fodder.”