Volume 6 : CHAPTER 12 : THOSE WHO SIN
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CHAPTER 12

THOSE WHO SIN

 

A sword making a sharp snapping sound as it slices through the air. The swiftness and precision of the movement of the blade made it evident that they were not just for show or practice.

Though I was far from being defenseless myself, I wasn’t sure how long I could have held against such destructive attacks aiming straight for places where my opponent knew I would be open. With a fair bit of uncertainty, I lifted my sword to block the first few strikes and glided back.

And before I had the chance to ask the question of why I am being attacked by my own mother, she launched herself at me again this time with more fervour.

“I am the master here, not you. Now fight.” As if reading my mind my mother the True Hero of this world, Caroline Ascalon flashed a gentle smile at me.

‘This is going to be terrifying!’ I thought to myself. A contrary reaction to a charming smile. I had to be daring to take on the challenge.

My mother becomes a fearsome figure whenever I am facing off against her. I’d truly never felt this terrified even fighting against the labyrinth’s strongest monsters.

 The sweat I felt running down my body could be imaginary. However, if I intended to survive to see the next day with all my body parts there, I had to survive every attack or at least dodge them at best.

Learning from the world’s most skilled swordswoman Caroline, could have been an incredible opportunity as long as it does not mean I had to risk my life in every training bout. But even if I complained that I preferred magic for defeating monsters.

Mother always said that it’s something she owed to someone for teaching it to me and simply because she wanted me to because I am her daughter. Passing her skills down to me and my little sister.

But deep within I knew, my mother just wanted to clash swords. Maybe it was the sentiment, those who stand at the top of the skill possess; saying that they did not want to lose their edge.

A beam of light emits from mother’s sword slash, as I parried them and sent it flying into the forest.

Suddenly, a handful of trees slowly fall within the forest surrounding the training grounds. The leaves of other trees rustle, and some mystical birds of neighboring trees all fly into the sky. A slightly dull sound echoes through the area as the trees hit the ground.

‘That would have surely torn through half of my body.’ I rubbed the truth on myself, realizing it was a dire situation that called for serious action.

“Pay attention, I’m not going to let you up that easily.” My mother warned.

As she approached me, I felt a cold chill ripple up my spine. With my mystic eyes, it was easy to analyse her movements and predict her attacks so I sidestepped and easily dodged her opening strike.

Without missing a beat, mother glided forward and closed the distance between us, striking the inside of my leg and then aimed for my side.

I lifted my black sword and locked eyes with my sparring partner.

With my white sword holding on defense, I successfully blocked her strikes. I thrust my other hand forward, fully determined to take my victory today.

But both mother and I were dual wielders possessing two complimentary swords. So, things always got complicated, especially when I was forbidden to use attack magic during training for learning purposes.

Mother‘s left hand suddenly left the grip of the sword while she now only hold it with her right hand. Her left hand moves back and forth, fast enough to draw her second sword from the sheath.

Just unsheathing her sword, drifting it against the air, a pressure developed so high to raise a tempest of dust and obscure my view.

Wind slashes colliding, and when we saw where our blades stopped….

“Wha…?”

As I stood there, frozen in place, Mother’s eyes crinkled in a warm smile.

“I guess we now know who is today’s winner again.”

While my black sword was directly hovering a millimeter above my opponent’s shoulder. Mother’s tip of the sword was drawn up to my throat.

We drew back our swords and mother declared it to be the end of our today’s training.

I and mother sat back while she had already opened the lunchbox. I had prepared sandwiches for myself to eat while I was going to read some books on mage craft and alchemy in the afternoon.

“I really like the stuff you put inside. Every flavour adds up so perfectly in the mouth. It’s so delicious.” Mother couldn’t help herself but garner some compliments for her daughters which made it worth it for me.

“I will make sure to prepare more so that we can enjoy it together.” I was having ideas of a picnic in the dungeon itself. But it didn’t made less of a home for us.

After mother was done with the food, she suddenly looked at me in wonderment.

“Is something bothering you Alicia.”

“Nothing at all…?” I denied of all possibilities.

But with mother’s virtues she stared at me tilting her head down, meeting me at my eye-sight. She had already caught the wind of it and won’t leave me until I come clean.

“I was just wondering is it really necessary for me to train so hard if I can be self-sufficient by using magic in this new world. No monster stand chance against my spells and even you have acknowledged that.”

“Listen dear, monsters are not all about claws and teeth. They are about deeds done. Unforgivable ones. And even among our own kind, there are people out there whom you could identify as monsters. Some even worse than them.” Mother gently patted my head. She continued, “You and I are just girls in a wide world which is biased towards keeping all responsible jobs reserved for men from birth and look down on us. Then there are those greedy men who take advantage of women and they do not care for their age, strength or lives. Out there you will be alone and it makes me worry, that’s why I want you to take more care of yourself.”

For a  moment I couldn’t bring myself able to speak anything. Mother placed her hands on my palms, which were clutching my two black and white swords at the time.

“These swords can take you anywhere in this world, wherever you want and can get you whatever you desire. Knowing that you will be safe if I am able to do at least this much, I am relieved.”

I gazed at the huge forest in front of us and great many trees that we had felled but astoundingly grew back the next day. The rays of sunshine from the artifact false sun fall on my body and the coldness that I usually felt in the labyrinth while being lost was no more and long gone.

The things I had been always wanting in my previous life were all here, and yet I had to leave it all someday.

The air started to feel suddenly so dull. Not because what Mother told me was something serious or I was not aware of. Rather it did invoke a strange memory from my past.

“I am sorry Alicia, if you were not prepared to hear this or learn that this world is no different and people can still be malicious.”

“No. It’s not that all.” I nodded my head. “It’s just that it is not something I am hearing for the first time. In my previous world, in the shop in which I was a regular from where I bought snacks, the shopkeeper was an old lady. We were not that close, but on occasions she would talk to me and she would tell me the same thing. To take care of myself.” I said to mother. My eyes a bit flushed.

Remembering back, I was not that well acquainted with her. But maybe I visited her old-fashioned confectionery shop only because she would sometimes engage some talk with me. And in between she would prompt me to look after my safety. I don’t know whether she was able to guess about my situation from my desperation. But I too liked to have small chats with her.

“Then I don’t think I need to worry so much.” Then suddenly mother’s expression turned from relaxed to grim. “Alicia someday you would feel like burning the world. I know you would never mean to. But this world is not meant for just one person. We can’t turn away from the ugly part of this world, but if you try to cut off those ugly parts by yourself the dirtier your hands will be. The only thing you can do is keep your swords close and keep moving.”

“Does even father underestimates us?” I asked my cheeks puffed, considering how last time he didn’t let me try several of magic spells from the forbidden arcana in the library saying that it was dangerous if I was the one trying it. I felt for some payback.

“Oh, the last time he did underestimate me, he had to pay dearly for it. When I left him tied to a flying berserk dragon’s back for a week.” Mother said putting a finger to her lips thinking how long it might had been since she have done something adventurous.

“I want to hear more of that story and can I try those magic spells.” I thought I could get permission from mother if not from father. A simple tactic employed by every kid.

“I will tell you that story later, but why don’t you go freshen up first after the training.”

“⸺Umu.” I was happy thinking that my mother might have approved of me practicing spells as I walked out.

“Alicia as for trying out the new spells you can only do it as long as you promise you won’t bury us on this floor like the last time or leave the barrier with dimensional holes in it.” A blunt voice called for me from behind and I knew I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I didn’t control my powers this time around.

Mother wouldn’t think of tying me to a dragon as a punishment, now would she… Ahhh! maybe she would. I dare not turn my back and look at her now. I ran back to the mansion thinking of making something special for mother for dinner tonight.

But during this whole conversation, I understood what mother wanted to warn me about and I was no stranger to the atrocities and potential abuse. As a girl I had to look after myself from a very young age.

I knew I had no backing of my guardians and I don’t have my parents to protect me.

That’s why I always hid….

Careful… Cautious… of dangerous people capable of hurting other people.

But now things were different, I was stronger and this time I knew what I wanted to do. And I was never planning to let anyone get in my way.

***

 

ALICIA ASCALON ASHBORN

"You just can't have a reincarnated person in a fantasy world without them facing bandits in their journey. Even if it’s a bit tad late for me from when I reincarnated. But bandit hunting is always a fun part of any adventure game."

I thought to myself excited with a painted-on grin that only Regis could have identified hidden under my mask. Because when I looked around and noting the number of bandits and their appearance. It reminded me of the good-old adventure quest games I played back at home.

But still, my objective was to rescue Caige and Maia which was currently being carried out by Regis and because I wanted for her to decide for rescuing the lot of kids I had sensed being trapped in this bandit’s base.

All the men were equipped with leather armor and thick long-sleeved tunics, wielding various weapons. Some carried a sword with daggers at their waist, while others carried bows.

They sneered at me, realizing I had entered through the wrong door and demolished a wall. I acknowledged my mistake and was ready to take responsibility for the property loss.

Surrounded by more than fifty bandits, I sighed as I found more appearing from behind the cover of trees and bushes. Knowing the effectiveness of this strategy it was ludicrous that it would ever work. But because I promised Regis that I would go with the plan. I thought to give it a try even by a longshot.

“I bring an offer for you all. I would like to purchase the freedom of Caige and Maia and a promise that you all won’t interfere again with their lives. In return I offer you twice…even thrice the sum of the original amount. Or, I can even increase the amount if you are ready to talk and settle this thing peacefully.” I declared in a loud voice making sure their leader would have heard me.

“““Haaah….ggghahahah…ghaaaa….”””

Every standing man laughed as they started banging their weapons on the floor. This made them appear to be more like a signature move of a trained tribe preparing for a ritual.

“If you have really that much money, wouldn’t it be much easier for us to snatch it all from you.” A bandit brandished his sword in front of himself, shining the sharpness of the blade in his eyes.

“We know you are the rich girl. Thinking of helping some poor orphaned girls will brighten your heart? Such big hearts always crumbles here easily, until they start begging for their lives.” Another bandit leered at my intricately designed robe covering up my figure that drew the men’s gazes.

The bandits all had vulgar smiles on their faces, but they approached me without any carelessness, indicating some level of skill.

My absolutely perfect plan had unbelievably failed. Not that I was desperate, but looking at how everyone just saw me as a plaything with all my company and friends gone. They thought I would be fearful and scared.

Since Caige’s safety was not yet ascertained, I wanted to buy time for them in case they sent some of their men after Regis. So, I had to do this even if it meant employing such a cheap means of pretending to buy people’s freedom. But as long as it could make me avoid…

My thoughts were cut short on hearing an announcement of the Dalton Gang in response to my proposal.

“Attach a collar to her neck and you can put the girl into the cellar along with other children.” A man at the rear with the strongest built and exuding the maximum amount of magic. A broad freshly bloodied sword attached to his waist. No doubt he was their leader that he could order his men around. Also, confirming my suspicion of children being kidnapped and kept here.

One of the men approached me from behind with a metal black collar and a gag.

“Before that, why don’t we see what face is under that mask. Keeping your face hidden… surely there must be something special.”

“We are going to take good care of you. I’ve got plenty of handy items just for that purpose.”  A bandit snootily said, licking his lips with a pointed tongue.

“We can have our fun with her first and then with her companions when we have captured them too. All of them are a beauty even that elf would be the best treat for tonight.” Another bandit said laughing vulgarly.

“But  I guess this one would break on her first turn. Just her sight is so weak and her voice is so innocent. As long as we don’t destroy the goods, a few of them broken won’t bother the slave traders.”

Every bandit there was having their own opinions about me and what they wanted to do with us girls.

 Suddenly, a man with a giant physique comparable to that of an ogre walked in front. Long messy beard, a fat belly pot-shaped. He tried to rudely approach in my direction. When the man laughed, a wave of rancid air filled the place revealing his yellow teeth.

The man did not pause as his hands headed to inappropriately touch my body.

For a moment I felt dazed, my body first grew cold and my pupils shook as I envisioned what was about to follow.

And the next moment I knew, my entire body burned. I was fortunate enough in my life that I had never ever had to go through such a haunting experience in my previous life. But not everyone is that strong or lucky. Because now I remember why I always felt so sad whenever I thought of that old lady from the shop. Why she always looked after me? Why she asked me to be careful?

That’s because her own daughter was a victim of such harassment and when she couldn’t turn to anyone for help, she took her own life by jumping form the roof of the office building in which she worked.

Whenever I thought of her misfortunate situation it made me shiver and I would close myself inside my room. What if I were pushed in the same situation?

Whether she felt helpless? Whether she thought she wouldn’t find anyone for help? Or, whether she thought it was too late for things to change for her?

Unconsciously I had developed a mental attitude to stay away from men whenever I sensed even a little malice or danger from them. In actuality, I never tried facing them.

Whether I hated them, loathed or detested them I was not sure. But for once I wanted them all to burn with my eyes glowing red as I gazed at them from under the mask.

Looking around and finding a familiar cart broken and thrashed in the corner, covered in blood. A marred dead body lying over it… I had found my answer.

“Listen girl this place is not safe if you are alone.” The giant bandit growled at me. His loud raucous voice had even intimidated his own comrades. He giggled as he was about to put his repulsive hands on me.

I was fortunate enough to meet good people in this world, who looked after my well-being. And I who had been keeping my head lowered disgusted by their comments and intention, for the first time met an eye to eye with the people who wanted to hurt me.

“Then it’s like every other place for me. I offered you a chance and you neglected it…”

“Hmph…” The bandit’s voice faded without any mark…

And after that…

There was just one movement. No one saw it happening. No one heard it. But they felt it and everything along with it became silent.

Thump… a thing fell and rolled like a ball on the ground as it hit the leg of another bandit who brazenly looked at it scratching at his back. Rather interested in the unveiling he hoped to see in front of him.

Others stared… Until the bandit let out a scream, “Wahhaaaa….It’s a head…. A dead head…”

THUMP…. This time the voice decimated the ground beneath as it send chills to the bandits who saw everything happening from the front seat.

The noise of the headless bandit falling to the ground was an unbelievable sight.

Before the vile man could have touched me, snapping my right leg outward I turned around gaining momentum landing the pointed end of my boots on the man’s neck. My kick traced a perfect circle as it perfectly stopped back in the same place I stood.

It ripped apart the bandit’s head, the kick was so fast not a single drop of blood stained my attire, until the body succumbed to the ground and let a puddle of blood form on the ground.

Had it not been night they could have seen a much clearer cut which couldn’t have been possible even with the sharpest swords available.

The bandits haven’t realized it until they saw their husky man lying headless on the ground. And the surprisingly tranquil disposition of the girl… the glowing redness in the girl’s eyes. It warned them.

They couldn’t see Alicia’s face behind the mask, but the rage radiating from
her was so palpable that the bandits could feel it on their skin.

As if she was not the one being hunted, but they were the ones being preyed upon by her from the start.

Several men whose fingers had been itching for a fight ran in front with cries. The swords, machetes, knives pointed toward me.

“Kill her. Kill…KILLLLL…” That was the possibly only thing in their mind.

I snapped my fingers and activated my {DISMANTLE] skill.

What followed were the horrid cries of bloodied bodies that painted the forest ground red. Small bubbles of red seemed to have filled the air and dulled the view. The bodies of whichever person caught in my spell burst from within, their life the over in the next instant their brain matter and organs littered the ground.

Seeing blood splattered everywhere, the remaining few took a step back. But they were not the ones to back down. Seeing their comrades felled down in a single second, their numbers reduced to one by fourth. The remaining were the strong ones which was evident from them surviving against my skill.

“What sorcery was that? Can magic even do this?”

“Fear not comrades. Kill her. No child has this power. It must have been a hidden magic tool. But they should not be able to use it continuously.”

“Yeah, kill her before she can use any other kind.” Supported another of the bandit.

The two ran forward with their weapons resembling a scimitar at me. At least they were thinking but they still tried to underestimate me.

My hands moved forward while the charging men let out war cries thinking I was going to surrender. But they fastened their pace, they tightened the grip over their blades ready to slash me down.

But with the same calmness, I made a movement of twitching my two fingers in front striking a string as it vibrated in loops. A cacophonous sound reverberated and hit the place.

“““AAA-AHHHH-HHA-AAA”””

Another fading cry of all the bandits restored the silence to the nightly forest. My fingers had just grabbed onto my web-strings which had been successfully tapped wired in the whole place and tightening around the bandits to the extent until they would shear through its body and cut them in half.

At least I made sure their deaths were instant and none had to die in agony.

“I should have been able to deal with all of them.” I exhaled, as I saw my gluttonous skill consume all the dead bodies in black threads and vanishing.

The entire bandit group was wiped out by my hands in an instant.

[WARNING. REPORT : 1 ALIVE]

On listening to Al’s warning, I felt the rumbling movement on the ground. And a small pointed object projected at me.

I tilt my neck, and an axe flying just passed through my side and pierced through the trunk of the tree.

Straightening my head and looking in front, it was the same man giving orders that stood facing me.

The leader of the Dalton Band. He was still alive wearing a sour solemn expression on his face.

I was left wondering of how he survived against my {World-severing Webs}, which should have been impossible given his status, excelling in fire magic alone.

A final match bound to happen between the leader of the Dalton Band who possessed an evolved magic to have even escaped my webs and me.

***

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