“I was really… able to make it, huh…”
Glancing at the bare sword resting in my hand, I couldn’t hide my astonishment at what I had done.
However, nothing much had changed in my predicament.
Just having a sword in my hand wouldn’t mean that I could overcome this situation.
After all, it only made a difference in the last few seconds of my life span.
Although the ogre itself may have been intrigued, it didn’t seem to be surprised enough to stop moving.
I found myself being pushed back as he began to close in again.
My whole body was enveloped in an indescribable, dull pain.
I could hardly stand up… Even swinging my sword to deflect his attacks caused me pain.
But what of it?
The pain was so severe that it blurred my vision.
But… what did it matter?
That was what I kept telling myself, knowing that this wasn’t enough for me to give up persevering.
Was my survival something that had to be prioritized even if it meant abandoning my dream of becoming a “Star Slayer?”
Was my dream such a meager thing for me?
Even though I commanded my twitching limbs to do so, they did not respond very well.
The ogre was right in front of me.
I was sure that he chose to deliver a straight strike from his sword because I was unarmed earlier, and I was sure that it would not happen again this time.
My thoughts were constantly occupied and filled with pain.
I tried biting my lip hard and gritting my teeth, but it didn’t make my situation any better.
The same for trying to gasp for air and straining my stomach, which not surprisingly, didn’t do anything as well.
But still… I couldn’t give up.
I had to grab hold of “life” no matter how badly I struggled.
All of it for the sake of… becoming a “Star Slayer.”
“I want to prove to the world that I’m the strongest.”
Those were his words.
The words of a swordsman who longed to become a “Star Slayer.”
“I want to prove that my sword is the strongest.”
That was a piece of memory of him that I had.
A piece of memory that I once experienced and remembered.
The foundation of that swordsman, which I had made my guiding principle.
Why did I want to prove it, or so a certain man at a certain place asked me a question.
“It’s because there was someone who wished to tell me that my sword was the strongest… Because there was someone who believed that… my sword was the strongest…”
I replied without a hint of hesitation.
The words were a bit… just a little bit… desolate.
To the extent where I wasn’t sure even people I’d known for a long time would have noticed it.
“Hey… do you know? That there’s a myth that people turn into stars after they die?”
They say that when we die, we become stars.
The man replied, and of course, he had also heard of it.
He believed in it, saying that there are an infinite amount of stars in the sky.
“I think so too.”
I looked up at the sky.
It was just at the time when the sun was setting and the stars were becoming dimly visible.
“…What is the thing that they recognize when looking for the strongest? What is the strongest that even those who have died recognize? What must one do to become the strongest that everyone recognizes?”
[Translator – Niel ]
[Proofreader – DVN-L ]
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And so the words went on.
The swordsman, who never let go of his focus on the stars in the sky, spoke with a bit of self-deprecation.
“When I thought about it, I came up with an answer.”
That’s what you call “Star Slaying?”
The man replied with words of dismay.
In order to prove that my sword is the strongest, it was more favorable for me to proclaim that I want to be a “Star Slayer.”
So you wanted to tell your sword that you want to become a star, huh? …But I don’t get it.
Why were you so obsessed with the strongest? You didn’t have to be strong to do so—
The statements that followed were not the words I was searching for.
The swordsman forcibly interrupted with his voice.
“I must become the strongest that everyone recognizes.
If I could slay the stars, everyone would agree that I am the strongest.
Even the heroes of the past who died and may have become stars would agree that I am indeed the strongest…! To those who have become a star, I want to prove to them that what I believed in was right… And slaying the stars is the only way to prove it.”
Slaying the stars, huh?
The stars wouldn’t be happy to be cut down just for the sake of it.
And so the man lowered his shoulders in dismay and made a light remark.
“No matter what anyone says, I will never change my mind.
I will slay the stars and prove that I’m the strongest of them all.
That is the only way I could give back to them.”
What a stubborn guy…
That’s why they gave you such a funny nickname.
“I don’t mind.
I like that nickname.”
Well, I guess it’s perfect for you.
I’d give it a break if I were you, but… I think you can do it.
Even I recognize and approve of your swordsmanship after all, so I’m sure you can do it.
…If you want to be called the “Star Slayer,” that is.
My consciousness is pulled back to reality.
I have to be a “Star Slayer” whatever it takes.
I must do it, even if it means getting my limbs ripped off.
The reason I admired him was that he was cool.
The way of life of the swordsman touched my heartstrings.
I wanted to live like him.
At the same time, I wanted to prove to him that his swordsmanship, which he had continued to study, could reach the stars.
If he, that swordsman, were in his best condition… he would have been able to reach them.
That’s why… I’d prove it in his stead.
Being the man I admired so much, I would do it for him.
I would return the favor for giving me this admiration.
I was sure that if I were to tell anyone about my desire to become a “Star Slayer,” they would not understand it.
Even if I went to such lengths to tell them the reason why, they would probably be appalled that I hadn’t gotten over my fanciful dreams.
They would laugh at me for dreaming too much.
They thought that my life would be over without being able to do anything.
It was true that such a person deserved to be laughed at, so I laughed at myself.
“I really can’t give up after all! There’s no way I’d end up in a place like this… It can’t end like this!!!”
I would not cry until I’d lost everything.
I decided to do so and focused on the sensation in my left hand, which was now holding the sword.
Already messing up with my thoughts, I pushed the pain to the back of my mind.
I looked at the ogre and only focused on slicing through him.
The bone in my leg creaked, but I brushed it away and forced myself to stand up.
“I’ll… fight you…! I’ll fight you until the moment my limbs are torn to shreds! I won’t let it end like this… I’m definitely going to be a ‘Star Slayer!!!’”
In my memory, there existed a way of fighting that was tailor-made for my current situation, a way to deal with an opponent who was clearly beyond physically outmatched, that is.
“AAAAHHHH!!! I will put my heart and soul into defeating you, so—!!!”
Moments after that, a deafening, high-pitched metallic sound reverberated through the area.
It was indeed the sound of metal striking against metal; the sound itself wasn’t linear, but it sounded as if it was being swept away.
“That is why… we won’t stop until one of us is on the ground, OGREEE!!!”
Feeling the sensation of my left hand being eaten away, I screamed loudly to get it out of my throat.
The sword strikes that were coming at me were from his huge physique.
I swung my sword at it, parrying all his blows.
“…I’ll make you… my food, my nutrition… and be a Star Slayer…!!!”
A shallow, flesh-slicing strike.
It was a blow that could never be fatal, yet it was unmistakably a strike that served as a catalyst for a counterattack.
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