Gales were mid-level wind spirits. If Sylphs were able to raise a breeze, then Gales were able to raise strong winds. Although there wasn’t even a single breath of wind currently blowing in the desert, the moment that the Gale was summoned, a strong breeze stirred up the sandy ground.
No, it didn’t just stop at stirring up the sand. Eugene’s power amplified the Gale’s strength, creating a burst of wind that sounded like an explosion had gone off. All the surrounding sand erupted instantly, and Laman, who had been trying to push Eugene, was also sent flying head-over-heels.
“Whoah!” Laman cried out in panic, but Eugene just stared down at the ground while floating in mid-air.
Deep beneath the cracked surface of the sand, a man with a mask covering his whole head was writhing in pain. His mask was dyed a dark color, but the areas around his ears looked especially dark because of the blood that had burst from his ears due to the sudden explosion.
Eugene recognized him, ‘He’s from the Assassins.’
There was never just one of them. Eugene’s eyes quickly swept his surroundings. In the spaces where the wind wasn’t able to blow, he could sense the swept-up sand deviating slightly.
Eugene’s mind reached out to the Gale. The formless wind cried out a roar as it churned with even more ferocity.
Whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh!
Now that the whole area was obscured in a veil of billowing sand, Eugene decided to cast some spells.
‘It’s nice to have a lot of options on what to use,’ he mused to himself.
A dozen mounds of sands erupted once more with explosions. The sand that had been sent flying by these explosions blew at the Assassins who had been waiting in ambush. They quickly raised their mana shields and tried to throw themselves out of range, but it was impossible to avoid all the grains of sand that were spread across such a wide area.
Blood had splattered everywhere. The assassin who had been the first to attack Eugene was left in a truly terrible and torturous state. He had been too close to Eugene’s counterattack and had already been injured, so he wasn’t able to react in time. He was pierced by hundreds of sand bullets and had turned into a block of swiss cheese.
Even so, the man didn’t let out a single scream. The Assassins of Nahama were trained not to make a sound under any circumstances. However, even if they couldn’t scream, that didn’t mean they were immune to pain, and it also didn’t mean they couldn’t die. Unable to keep standing any longer, the Assassin fell to the ground.
The conditions of the other Assassins were a little better. Although they were bleeding from wounds piercing into their body in several places, they weren’t at any risk of collapsing. So they all took a step back and eyed Eugene.
Their eyes were their only features not covered by their masks. Although one of their comrades was dying right in front of them, not a shade of fear could be seen in their eyes. That said, there weren’t any traces of anger either. These Assassins had no need for such emotions.
“This was just self-defense,” for now, Eugene decided to try talking. “You’re the ones who attacked me first. If I hadn’t been able to avoid the attack, my crotch would have been split in two.”
“L-lower your weapons!” Laman cried out as he ran over from the distant spot he had fallen in. “I am… Laman Schulhov, a warrior serving under the Emir of Kajitan, Tairi Al-Madani. Know that the one you are showing such hostility to is my master’s guest!”
Although the fact that there really were Assassins laying an ambush here had shaken Laman, he didn’t forget the reason he had been dragged all the way here.
Laman continued, “That is why you should all lower your weapons immediately and stand back. If you refuse, I will be forced to regard that as a challenge to the authority of my master, the Emir of Kajitan.”
Even as he cried out these orders, Laman’s eyes glistened with a dark emotion.
But the Assassins did not withdraw, nor did they show any signs of backing down. Instead, they readied themselves in fighting stances as they began to emit a cold killing intent.
And these weren’t the only ones. In the distance, the sand stirred, and over a dozen Assassins rose from the ground. In the end, Eugene and Laman were surrounded by at least twenty Assassins.
Laman was shocked, “Why on earth…? Could it be that they didn’t hear me?”
Although Laman tried to repeat himself; once again, there was no reply. As the Assassins held up their weapons, their blades shining in the sunlight, they exchanged glances among themselves.
Laman stammered as he tried to convince them, “I-I’m telling you that this man is the guest of the Emir of Kajitan. Also, he happens to be the young lord of Kiehl Empire’s Lionheart clan.”
“It’s useless,” Eugene said with a shrug, his face showing that he had been expecting this. “Laman, those words will only give these puppies even more motivation to silence us and make their decision to kill us even easier.”
“What do you…?” Laman trailed off in confusion.
“Since they’ve already attacked us, there’s no way they’re just going to let us off. Ah, though they might decide not to kill me, they’re sure to kill you,” Eugene informed him.
“Why wouldn’t they intend to kill you, Lord Eugene?”
“Because my dying will cause them quite a headache. That said, they can’t just let me leave either. But those bastards should probably have a lot of unspeakable means to keep me from saying anything inconvenient.”
Like poison or drugs, they might even have spells for that. There might be a variety of methods at their disposal, but in the end, they just had a single purpose—to prevent any witnesses from divulging what they had experienced to anyone.
In fact, the simplest method was just to kill them. Corpses couldn’t speak and would always hold their silence. However, since the other person was a member of the Lionheart clan’s main family, it was impossible for them to simply kill Eugene thoughtlessly. As such, instead of killing him, they would just have to keep him from opening his mouth. But to do that, they would first have to subdue Eugene.
Laman paled, “They would go so far…? Just why…?”
“Who knows,” Eugene replied with a snort.
The Assassins weren’t the only ones whose motivation had increased and who now found it easier to have reached a decision. Since these guys had revealed their intent to kill, Eugene would just have to treat them similarly.
After all, Eugene wasn’t the one who had started this fight.
“Shall I make the first move?” Eugene asked as his hands reached into his cloak and pulled some things out.
The moment Eugene had asked this question, the Assassins all kicked off the ground as one. The first to move was the assassin who had collapsed from his severe injuries and was now dying. He shouldn’t even have been able to move properly, but the man still charged toward Eugene, crawling across the sand with his hands like a beast.
This wasn’t anything to be panicked out. Even though three hundred years had passed, the Assassins were still the same. They were terrifying bastards who prioritized their orders and missions over their own lives. Even if their limbs were all sliced off, they would still try to attack by wriggling their torsos like worms.
During Hamel’s time as a mercenary, he had clashed with them on several occasions. Thanks to that, Eugene was well aware of just how terrifying Assassins could be, and he was also very familiar with the only working method to stop these bastards, apart from being the one who gave them orders.
The sand in the ground formed into blades. The body of the first assassin to come running in unawares was split in half. He was dead for sure, but Eugene didn’t spare the body even a single glance.
The other Assassins were still attacking. They may have abandoned their stealth, but their movements were so swift and agile that stealth was no longer needed. They were using each other as cover, thus confusing their numbers, and they each began preparing different venues for attacks. If one went down, the next would attack, and if he went down, the next one would still be able to put their knives to Eugene’s neck.
With a snicker, Eugene lowered his body.
His cloak billowed, and six throwing knives were sent flying forward. Three from each hand. Although they were all thrown at once, each of the daggers shot off in different directions, with each knife aimed at one of the six Assassins.
They weren’t just simple throwing knives either.
Although all the Assassins took defensive action with a mana shield, they were still forced to stagger backward. That was just how heavy the daggers Eugene had thrown were. Blades of sand then erupted beneath the feet of the Assassins who had been staggered by his attack. They had already seen such an attack before, so they were able to react, but that wasn’t the only threat.
In an instant, the air around the Assassins turned heavy. This wasn’t a metaphor. The air truly did grow heavier, pressing down on their shoulders. This slowed down their actions slightly, causing the blades of sand that erupted from the ground to slice the Assassins’ ankles and hips.
Once again, there were no screams. All the same, there weren’t any cheers of joy either. Even in such a state, all the six Assassins raised their short swords at once and threw them simultaneously, as if they had already arranged to do so.
Eugene wasn’t just standing still during all this. As he leaped forward, he transmitted his intentions to the Gale. As his mana infused into the wind, it altered the trajectory of his daggers. There was no need for the wind to guide the daggers the whole way. Just a slight twist in their trajectories had been enough to create an opening. An opening that Eugene didn’t miss.
Eugene’s empty hands grabbed onto the heads of two Assassins, pushed them backward, and smashed them down to the ground. His cloak flapped open as he fell, and when he came back up, both of Eugene’s hands were holding onto a large ax.
The ax that Eugene swung with the rotational force of his entire body chopped right through the bodies of the nearby Assassins.
Blood sprayed out, and intestines spilled across the ground. Eugene didn’t remain attached to the ax after swinging it once. After he had chopped everyone nearby into two, he let go of the ax, and as the ax flew away, still spinning in circles, it embedded itself into the chest of another Assassin.
Apart from that ax, Eugene had many other weapons. Since he didn’t know what might happen once he got to Nahama, he had made sure to prepare thoroughly. He had enough food and water to last for several months, as well as adequate changes of underwear. After he was finished preparing things like that, he had stuck all sorts of weapons into the cloak.
Among all the weapons he had stored away like this, axes alone just counted for twenty of them.
—Hamel, why do you go around carrying all those weapons that you never even use?
—If I have them with me, I’m sure I’ll use them sometime.
—Leave him alone, Anise. I’m telling you that this bastard won’t listen to you no matter what you say to him. And also, well… there’s nothing wrong with being well-prepared.
—But Sienna, Hamel’s behavior shouldn’t be encouraged. All those useless weapons belong to Hamel, so why does Molon have to pull the cart carrying them?
—It’s because I won when we played rock, paper, scissors.
—But that’s not fair either. Why were you staking who has to pull your luggage on a game of rock-paper-scissors with Molon?
—Why do you keep making me out to be a bad guy? Do you really think that’s just my luggage over there? I can see an awful lot of jars of the ‘holy water’ that you like so much! There’s also the ax that belongs to that bastard, Molon! That ax is the heaviest thing on the cart!
—If I was really the only one who uses my holy water, I would definitely carry it all by myself. But that’s not the case now, is it? You and Sienna, you two brats are always the ones who end up coveting my holy water the most. Also, doesn’t that idiot Molon always make a fist whenever he plays rock-paper-scissors? Do you really think it’s fair to play rock-paper-scissors with such a fool?
—What about Sienna? Isn’t she the one who invited me to drink your holy water with her? And in the first place, we wouldn’t need to drag the cart with us if she could just store our luggage using her summoning magic!
—Why the hell are you blaming me when you’re the one who said that you would just travel while carrying your luggage because it was hard to take things out quickly right when you needed them?!
—Vermouth! You motherfucker, don’t just stay silent and say something. Why don’t you ever take turns pulling the cart?
—None of my weapons are on there.
—Must be nice for you. Subspace magic sure sounds fucking convenient….
—It does sound convenient, doesn’t it? Isn’t that why I’ve said you should let me teach you magic? Although I’ve never taught anyone before, I feel like I should probably be good at teaching. If you get down on your knees and beg…. W-well, I might just be willing to lose a little sleep so that I can kindly teach you a thing or two….
In his previous life, he had often been chastised by Anise for going around carrying so many weapons.
‘If I just had a cloak like this in my previous life, I definitely wouldn’t have been forced to listen to so many insults,’ as Eugene thought wistfully, he inserted his hands into the cloak, and when they came out, they were holding two long, bladed spears.
It was overwhelming.
Laman had taken a few steps forward to help Eugene, but stunned by the sight in front of him, he had frozen in place, unable to advance any further. There wasn’t any need for Laman’s help. The twenty-plus Assassins looked like a herd of sheep that had met a wolf—no, like ants who were being trampled beneath a person’s feet.
The Storm Sword Wynnyd, which was known to be one of the treasures of the Lionheart clan, didn’t even make an appearance, and Eugene didn’t actively cast any offensive spells either. Apart from the intermittent casting of Blink, his magic was just used as a support during any critical moments….
Unable to believe what his eyes were showing him, Laman violently shook his head.
Eugene was left standing in the center of the Assassins’ strewn corpses. Rubbing off the blood splashed onto his cheek, he scanned his surroundings. Not a single Assassin remained alive.
Laman struggled to find his voice, “...Was there really a need… to kill all of them?”
“I don’t have the talents needed to open the mouths of these Assassins,” replied Eugene, as the wind moved at his command.
The weapons he had used and then tossed away floated into the air and returned to Eugene. The wind cleanly blew away the blood and bits of flesh that had covered his weapons as they flew towards him.
“There also isn’t any need to interrogate them,” Eugene added.
Laman stayed silent, “....”
“Furthermore, there’s no need to search their bodies. Because the Assassins won’t carry anything that could be used to prove their identities.”
After he placed all his weapons back inside his cloak, Eugene turned to look at Laman.
“Do you plan to keep going?” he asked.
“...Huh?” Laman grunted in surprise.
“I mean, the reason I brought you here was to use your master’s name for assistance. But these jokers seem to look down on the Emir of Kajitan. So there’s no reason to drag you with me any further,” Eugene explained.
Laman stammered, “...Th-that might be the case, but I can’t just return like this.”
“Why not? It’s not like you need to worry about me. Is it because you want to personally confirm what’s going on in front of us?” Eugene asked.
“...,” Laman’s silence was enough of an answer.
Eugene hesitated, “It’s not like you’ll be of much help….”
Laman weakly persuaded him, “...I’ll try not to be a burden for you, my lord….”
“Fine, do as you like. But don’t expect me to be duty-bound to help you out….”
As Eugene’s reply trailed off, he started to walk past all the corpses.
It was at that moment.
The desert shook, and the mana in the atmosphere fluctuated. Eugene felt an enormous amount of mana being formed into a spell underfoot. He immediately escaped from that spot with a Blink and climbed high up into the sky with the wind supporting his body.
The sand beneath his feet had started bubbling like a pot. The Assassins’ corpses were covered in a red light, and Eugene saw them melt like ice. They were being used as an offering. Eugene’s eyes widened at this realization.
“My lord!” Laman cried out.
The desert had been transformed into a swamp. Even though the ground had been fine despite all the bursts of wind earlier, in an instant, the entire area had been converted into quicksand.
As Laman leaped around, trying to resist the force sucking at his feet, he yelled at Eugene, “Please run away!”
Eugene had been expecting Laman to scream for help, but instead, he had shouted something unexpected like this. Eugene was perplexed by his shout, but he wasn’t in a situation where he could pay any attention to Laman.
The air was roaring with noise. Different from the winds created by his summoned spirits, another kind of unnatural wind was whirling below Eugene. Soon, it had formed into a massive tornado. Kazani was known for its sudden sandstorms, but no matter how sudden they might be, a sand tornado that appeared from out of nowhere like this and swelled in size was clearly abnormal.
“It’s m-magic…!” Laman gasped, his face contorting.
It was just as Eugene had said earlier. Most of the things one wished were not true turned out to be the truth. Especially when these truths were allegations about someone you respected actually being a shithead. Laman had no choice but to admit this.
Kazani’s sandstorms were caused by the Sand Shamans. This meant that the sandstorm that had engulfed Laman’s village was also caused by the Sand Shamans.
“Gaaaaah!” Laman roared and pulled out his kukri.
He frantically started swinging his kukri at the tornado, which was slowly growing in size. But unfortunately, this was a meaningless endeavor. Laman’s skills made it impossible for him to slice apart that huge sandstorm.
The same went for Eugene as well. As such, he didn’t even bother trying. He didn’t want to waste any valuable strength by attempting the impossible. Eugene instead fixed himself in the air so as not to be dragged around by the sandstorm. The Gale’s winds weren’t enough to help him escape the sandstorm. All it could do was help him endure the pull. Then would a Blink be enough to get him out of here?
Just as he was about to try it, Eugene stopped. Something was rising from below the quicksand. Eugene slightly shifted his position while still in midair. He glanced down at Laman, who was still swinging his kukri in one slash after another as he was being sucked beneath the quicksand. Eugene clicked his tongue and sent some of his wind over to Laman.
“Ugh!” Laman, who was about to be sucked under, grunted as the wind pulled him free.
Laman turned to look up at Eugene as his legs continued to peddle in midair. Eugene had sent some of the wind holding him in place over to Laman, causing his body to gradually be drawn towards the tornado.
Laman cried out in concern, “M-my lord!”
“Get going, you idiot!” Eugene roared out this order and then turned his gaze away from Laman.
In any case, the wind’s help wouldn’t be needed for what Eugene had planned next. Eugene gathered the remaining wind supporting him into one spot, concentrating its strength so that he could endure the tornado’s pull for now. Meanwhile, he was slowly descending to the ground.
Eugene kept a count, ‘One, two, three, four… now!’
Something burst out from the middle of the quicksand. It was a sandworm with its jaws stretched wide-open. It wasn’t just a normal sandworm, but a giant sandworm whose length had to be several tens of meters long. It was a scavenger that devoured anything that walked into the desert.
“My lord!” Laman howled in worry.
“Open wide, you bastard,” Eugene growled as he looked down into the sandworm’s jaws.
He could see thousands of tiny teeth gnashing away. Behind these teeth, bare flesh continued down into the worm like a winding passageway.
“Phew,” Eugene took a deep breath and flipped up the hood attached to the Cloak of Darkness. Then he placed both hands inside the cloak and sighed, “Even though I never wanted to do something like this again.”
Eugene reluctantly recalled some terrible memories from his previous life that he had tried to repress. They were from his time in the desert of Helmuth. The sandworms there were even bigger and more ferocious than the sandworms in Nahama.
—Molon, you foolish bastard!
That bastard really was an absolute fool. When the cart he was pulling got swallowed whole by a sandworm, Molon immediately leaped into the sandworm's jaws while saying that he was going to retrieve their belongings.
While everyone else was frozen in shock and confusion, Hamel had also run into the sandworm’s jaws in order to save that fool.
He didn’t really want to think about what happened after that. Eugene took a couple of deep breaths as he shuddered in disgust.
‘This is still better than back then,’ he reassured himself. ‘At least I don’t need to save Molon, that idiot, this time around.’
The Gale’s wind disappeared.
Having been thrown outside the quicksand, Laman’s eyes widened at the sight of the sandworm rising from the depths of the earth and its gaping jaws.
He continued watching as Eugene was swallowed by—no, leaped into the sandworm’s jaws. Or at least that’s how it appeared to Laman’s eyes.
“My loooord!” Laman wailed.
‘It was all because he had to save me!’ Laman burst into tears at this thought.
These were the tears of a warrior who owed his life to another! Laman let out a roar of determination as he kicked off the sand.
Although Eugene had thrown him well out of the reach of the quicksand, Laman picked up his kukri and charged at the sandworm.
From now on, the source of the sandstorms was no longer Laman’s true enemy. He had decided to dedicate himself to the quest of slicing open the sandworm’s stomach and rescuing Eugene.
Eugene, of course, was unaware of Laman’s newfound determination.
“This fucking stinks.”
The smell was worse than Gargith’s body odor. Eugene stopped breathing through his nose and crouched down. His sturdy mana shield and the Cloak of Darkness had allowed Eugene to pass the sandworm’s teeth and enter its winding esophagus. Then Eugene had summoned the Gale once more to guide the direction of his falling body.
This long, gigantic sandworm had become a living passageway that guided Eugene down into the depths of the earth. Fortunately, the sandworms of Nahama had the same internal structures as the sandworms of Helmuth.
Sandworms swallowed most things they found walking on the surface of the desert. First, their teeth, which grew in a circle around the inside of their mouths, would chew their prey into fine pieces. Then this mulch would go down through their esophagus, break down even further inside the stomach, and enter the intestines, where it would meander deeper and deeper into the worm….
As the sandworm’s food continued following this disgusting path, it would simply continue to decompose without ever being excreted. This damned monster didn’t even have an anus, so it couldn’t shit. It was a highly fuel-efficient monster that completely decomposed everything it ate and converted all of its food into energy.
As such, this meant that once you entered, there was no way out.
His mana shield and the Cloak of Darkness allowed Eugene to resist the monster’s digestive issues. While still making sure to continue breathing through his mouth, Eugene assessed his current position. He could see that this disgusting passage he was crawling down was slowly coming to an end.
“Fuck, this stinks,” as Eugene spat out this curse, he pulled out Wynnyd.
By operating his White Flame Formula to its limits and then spinning it, Eugene transformed the formula into his own Ring Flame Formula. Inside the Circle drawn by his Stars, countless Stars were born and exploded. The mana that was amplified through this method caused Eugene’s flames to burn even stronger.
This pure white flame was the symbol of the White Flame Formula, but as the density of mana in the flame increased, the closer Eugene’s flame got to a color other than white. It was beginning to shine with a pale blue light. This appearance could no longer be called by the same name as the White Flame Formula.
With bloodshot eyes, Eugene held up Wynnyd. His mana flames engulfed Wynnyd, and then the wind emitted from Wynnyd mixed with his flames. Eugene stabbed downwards with Wynnyd, its blade covered in pale blue light.
The noise of the blade sinking in wasn’t loud.
However, the sandworm’s huge body quickly shook from the pain of it.
Eugene had carved out an anus for this poor monster who was born without one.