“I wonder where that guy is at now.”
Kail was together with Havella at the back-alley the three of them would usually hang out together.
Havella was acting as if she was somewhere else. Kail could only show a bitter smile about that.
“You are really silent when that guy isn’t here.”
“…Is that so?”
And just like that their conversation would end. The three of them would usually be never lacking in things to talk about to each other, but now the conversation became in that state just because one of them wasn’t there. Rather, it could actually be that it was because Al in particular was there together with them that their conversations would turn out like that at those times the three of them were together.
“Havella, at the time when he comes back…. Please, don’t stop me.”
Havella tilted her head in confusion. Kail frowned.
“I already know how he returned those five years of good will with cruelty.”
Havella averted her eyes. Without caring about that, Kail continued to talk.
“By using your connections and having you send a request to the assassin’s guild… he had the owner of the bookstore and his wife killed. In order to destroy any evidences, they burned the shop. They even prepared a corpse to take Al’s place, didn´t they?”
Havella, the accomplice of the murder of the owner of the bookstore and his wife, still wouldn’t look at Kail in his eyes. Kail carryied on with his words.
Even so, the fact she was not receiving any part of the blame was what felt the worst to her.
“It’s no wonder I was suspecting this was too good to be true that he was acting too lenient for how he usually is. Wanting to have a day-off my ass. He had everything burn up just so he would be forgot from the memories of people and records of documents, all this for that and you ask me everything will be just fine like that!? Are you fucking with me?”
Kail was mad. Havella was feeling guilty because of that.
“Thank god for us that you aren’t in the military or patrol guard seeing how zealous you are for these kind of things, Kail.”
A voice of someone that should have definitely not been present there at the time reached the ears of the two. Shocked, the two turned their heads to the direction of the voice. The one standing there was…
“Yo, how is it you two? You are even making such dumb faces.”
It was Al, the one who was supposed to be outside the country doing something by this time. For whatever was he planning to do, the two of them didn’t think he would have been able to come back so early.
“Why? Al, didn’t you leave the country?”
Despite Havella usually being very composed, her voice was trembling. Surprise and happiness and many other emotions were surging inside her. Seeing that, Al gave out smiled just.
“Who said I was going to be outside for long? I said it was only temporary, didn’t I?”
After jumping down to where the two of them were standing, Al approached them. (TL note: It doesn´t specify where he jumped from.)
“Well, I had enough of that sea of shit. I won’t go through that place ever again…”
Al shrugged his shoulders.
Kail dived his fist into Al. Al was sent flying and fell into the ditch. His face became twisted by the pain and the surprise.
“What are you doing!?”
“Those two… They said you were like part of their family. They even said they would let you succeed the bookstore one day. They said that because they didn’t have a son, they would let you, let you…”
Kail was trembling. What Al had done was something that couldn’t be forgiven. Whether it was for justice, or whether it was in the ethical sense, and of course whether it was so by in accord to the laws, such thing couldn’t be forgiven. Five years ago, the owner of the bookshop hired Al despite him not being able to even read. To Al, he was a benefactor that granted him knowledge. All the things Al owed to him were amounted to the size of a mountain.
“Ah, they were very nice people..”
While wiping the blood that was at the corner of his mouth, Al muttered in a disappointed tone.
“Really nice people.”
If Al still had regrets about that, it would still be possible to start it over. It would still be possible for him to redeem himself f he had even a fragment of regret.
“They were… very convenient people for me.”
If there is no regret, one cannot be aware of their wrongdoings. It would be simply impossible.
“They gave me wisdom. They gave me knowledge. They gave me a place to study. They were very nice people. They have my appreciation. I hope they can live happily in the next world.”
Kail couldn’t recognize who the person in front of his eyes was. Al was someone that aimed for the top no matter what he had to go through. He was someone that wanted to have revenge for his sister. Kail already knew that. He understood this was important to Al. But then, what was the monster in front of his eyes? Wasn’t that simply making everything worse than before instead?
“The only family I have is Arlette-neesan. The only friends I have are the two of you. Except for that, everyone else has nothing to do with me. Why care about other people? Whether they will be useful to me or whether they will become a step for me to step on; that’s all that matters.”
During those five years, Al became distorted and filled with a certain something. What that certain something is was something that was outside of Kail’s expectations.
“It had been that way ever since and so it shall be from now onwards.”
Al took out an old parchment. That was a document that consisted of only one piece of paper. It was his ticket to the future.
“This… It’s a third-class citizenship ID. How… did you get it?
A third-class citizen. In this kingdom of Arcadia, people that had the IDs from the first class to the third class all had the privileges of being a citizen of the kingdom. It was a miraculous document that was impossible for a slave to get his hands on even if he was to spend all his life on trying to.
“That’s right, you guys can’t read. This ID… I stole it, you see? From the little William-kun from Rushitania.”
Kail and Havella couldn’t read. Even if they were able to recognize that the design of the paper represented that it was a third class ID, there would be no way for them to read the name that was written there. That’s why they didn’t realize right away. They didn’t understand that the name written in wasn’t Al’s name.
“Stolen, you say? Then, what about that William guy?”
“Who knows? Maybe he is deep inside a dark hole somewhere?”
Al didn’t show any signs of hesitation in saying that at all. On the contrary, he had an expression that made it feel as if he was boasting about it. Forgetting all his anger, Kail became completely astonished. He didn’t know what he was supposed to say now.
“IDs have the information of the little traits of one’s body; there should be ways to confirm the fingerprint of the owner of the ID. It will be difficult for you to make use of it.”
Havella became surprised for other reason. There were many times that people tried to use false documents. However, most of the times, they would get exposed. It was difficult to get your hands on a proper ID even at the most shady of places. From time to time, the ID of other people would appear for sale at the black market. However, having the ID of somebody else didn’t have any meaning. In fact, there wasn’t even any demand on the black market for it.
“Yes, you are correct, Havella!”
Al acted as if he was waiting for this question. Al turned his eyes to Havella.
“The identification documents of the kingdom are very complex and detailed, and are impossible to forge. If you use the ID of someone else, there won’t be any meaning to it. After all, there is also the problems with the digitals. Even if they are in decline, the seven kingdoms are still holding on for their name. However, this isn’t the same for the other kingdoms.”
Kail looked at Al with confused eyes..
“I’ve seen many documents in the time I’ve been working at the bookstore.”
Al was happily explaining the reasoning behind his plan.
“All the countries uses identification documents for people, but they aren’t the same. Even if there are documents that are full of details…. there are others that are simpler. And besides, even among the simpler ones, the ones used in Rushitania are among the simplest. The only things stated there is the name, residence, the gender, age and the social status in the home country and the official stamp of the country, nothing else. With all these factors being in place… there is no way I’ll be hindered from impersonating that William guy.”
It was a method the people of this kingdom had never thought of. Except in business trades, the identification documents of other countries weren’t really seen by people. Al knew about the IDs of the other countries. That’s why he was able to think of this plan.
“Rushitania is a country located deep into the mountains. It is a gathering of various communities. They social positions don’t have much disparity, and to begin with, most of them live their whole life in villages anyway. They use identification documents for the sake of external affairs, but it isn’t considered very important. That’s why it sucks. It is filled with loopholes.”
Al licked his lips. Among the many ID documents Al had been listing until now, the ID used in Rushitania was one among the candidates. During those same years he had been doing his listing, Al had been camouflaging himself as a defenseless youth. It was surprising, but the logic behind it was very simple.
“But I was very tense at the time I went through the gates. If I had done any misstep at that time… Well, I would be dead. But after I was able to get my credentials as a foreigner, all my worries and anxiousness were over. With that, I can finally stand at my starting line to the top!”
Havella gave an applause with an expressionless face.
Al indeed had done great. He was able to obtain something that would definitely be impossible for a slave to get his hand in.
“Al, you are wrong.”
However, all his miraculous exploits were gained by stepping over corpses.
“Kail, what’s been up with you? Don’t worry about other people. No matter how many of them die, they have nothing to do with us, you see.”
Havella nodded, agreeing to Al. Frankly speaking, she had the same opinion as to Al. To her, the line that separated the ones she cared about from others was very clear; she didn’t care about other people.
Kail gave a sharp glare at her. Havella felt despondent.
“Hey, I didn’t really want to say that to you, but you know, because you are a gladiator, you too should already have killed at least one or two people, right? Havella also had been stealing things. You’ve already done these kind of things yourself. But even so, why is it that only me am to blame? Don’t you think what you’re saying is a bit inconsistent?”
Kail hanged his head. Seeing that, Al snorted.
“…Yes, that’s right. This is definitely something that can’t be forgiven just because of the reasoning it couldn’t be helped because it was your job. Someday, I will receive my retribution, and probably so will Havella. That’s what karma is.”
Al started to feel goosebumps. The air around Kail had completely changed.
“But I only wished that you wouldn’t need to get in this world. You became free after all. I wished you could succeed the bookstore and keep living your life in a honest way!”
Kail moved his hand to the sword at his waist. The instant the blade became visible outsiide of its scabbard, it became filled with killing intent.
“It’s still not too late. You should live honestly while redeeming for your sins. I was too late to stop you, but there is still time left. This ID… You should use it to live a new and honest life.”
Kail still wished that Al would give up on his ideas. It wasn’t possible to receive punishment by the laws anymore. No matter what arguments one was to present, he would definitely still receive death penalty. That’s why Kail wasn’t going to irresponsibly open his mouth about it. However, he at least wanted Al to repent for his crimes in his heart.
“Jokes, I’ve just gotten started. I will use anything I can! I won’t take any round-about ways; I will crawl up to the top while trampling everything in my path!
The moment Kail heard that, he drew his sword. In order to put down silly ideas, sometimes it was necessary to use force. It was because Al was his friend that he was going to do it.
Al was trembling. The aura Kail was exerting was completely different from the one at the times he would practice with him. Al had never seen a death god before, but even so, he started to associate it to how Kail was right now.
“Then so be it, but that is until I put a stop to it. I will use my sword. You won’t die… but it will hurt.”
“Stop it, Kail. There is no reason for us to fight.”
Havella tried to stop Kail.
“It’s alright, Havella. I am a bit angry too anyway. You’ve always been scolding me while riding the high horse… For how long are you intending on acting as if you were some sort of elder brother to me!?”
Declining Havella’s attempts, Al also drew his sword. It was a sword from Rushitania that was forged by William’s father. It was a masterpiece that was rarely seen.
“It’s a nice sword. Did you steal it too?”
“Yes, it is a little parting gift William-kun left for me. You won’t want to face this sword, Kail!”
Al tried to threaten Kail.
The crushing feeling of being looked down at from a high place assaulted Al. There wasn’t anyone that was suited to doing things forcefully than Kail. Besides, in terms of experience, Al also couldn’t compare with him. This was the strength of the man called Kail.
“Don’t blame me if you end up dying!”
Raising his sword overhead, Al charged at Kail. This was a very sharp move for someone that used to be buried in books. Those movements had rationality backing them up; there were minute details in each move. It was a swordplay that matched with Al’s personality very well. However…
“Don’t worry…. You won’t be able to kill me.”
With the speed that surpassed Al’s reflexes by far…
…Kail hit Al’s stomach with the side of the sword where it was flat. It had been only one hit However, the amount of raw strength in Kail’s attack was something of a different level. Being made to yield to the superior swordplay, Al was sent flying to a wall. Even Kail’s techniques were in a higher level.
“Give up. You still can start it over.”
Standing up, Al once again faced Kail. He himself was exceptional. He was the one to stand on the top.
“It’s of no use.”
Such blind confidence collapsed.
Kail hit Al without any mercy as Al was charging towards him. As if making the difference between their strength become clear, Kail continued to hit Al with the side of his sword. This was a great handicap for Kail, both in terms of the strength of his blows and technique. But even so, Al still couldn’t touch Kail despite that. Even if Havella tried to stop them, neither Kail nor Al were able to stop.
Havella was crying. Her expression didn’t change. But even so, tears were falling from her eyes.
“How about we stop it already? Havella is crying. We two wish you to be happy. We wish you can live your life in a proper way. Please, understand this, my friend.”
Kail seemed like he was about to break in tears. Looking at Al, who was lying on the ground, he felt his eyes swaying in pity.
“Stop, kidding, me.”
But even so, Al stood up and pointed his sword to Kail.
“Be happy? Live honestly? Stop kidding me, stop kidding me, stop kidding me!”
Al was roaring. Those screams were coming from the depths of his heart.
Raising his sword, he thrust his sword at Kail. At that instant, Kail could only block the attack.
Both had their sword locked onto each other.
“Who was the one to steal from us first!? Who were the people that stole everything from us!? Why do we have to leave them be and just sit through!? We need to kill them all. The guy that killed nee-san, the ones that sold her to him, and the society, who allowed this to happen; we need to kill all of them! Where is happiness supposed to be in this world!? Will you resurrect nee-san then? Kail!?”
Al spoke his heart out as if he was throwing a tantrum. Those feelings that had been confined since that day now exploded.
There is nothing Kail could do but to listen to Al’s despair. There wasn’t anything else Kail could for him. Parrying Al’s sword, Kail once again hit him with the side of his sword. It would be possible for Kail to kill Al with his skill, but there was just no way he would do that to Al, his best friend.
“If you can’t, then don’t try to stop me. Don’t deny my life. I only have you two left. You know what happened with nee-san… Please, don’t reject me…”
Al broke in tears. It was as if that day five years ago had come back to him. It was a child the one now standing there.
Kail saw Al’s inner feelings for the first time. His heart was solely set on revenge. It was filled with grudge, and for the sake of it, he could anything. That was what Al’ss life had become. Perhaps, there wasn’t anything else remaining inside him other than his resentments .
“If you are going to reject me, then kill me. Kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me!!!”
Those feelings were very straightforward, and thus, were impossible to work around. To Al, his sister was everything. There was only a little space for the two of them. All Al pretty much had in his life was his sister, so it couldn’t be helped that he wanted to have revenge.
“I won’t forgive you if you kill Al.”
Havella took out a dagger from somewhere in her body and pointed it to Kail.
“We are friends… aren’t we?”
There was nothing Kail could do but to lower down his sword after hearing Havella. Nothing would change no matter what he said. Kail couldn’t stop Al even with him on the face of death. At the end of the day, there was no way Kail could kill his friend.
“Al, I won’t accept this. However, I am not capable of stopping you from doing this.”
Kail sheathed his sword. He went back to the usual Kail. With an expression of resignation on his face, Kail began thinking about something in his mind.
Seeing that, Al made a relieved face.
“I will do my best so that Kail can accept me. We are friends after all.”
Al’s words didn’t correspond to his true intents at all. Even though both knew about each other’s false intentions in their words, neither of them could do something about it. Al wouldn’t change his mind even in his death. Kail also couldn’t kill his best friend just for the sake of stopping him. At the end of the day, two of them were friends, so it couldn’t be helped it became settled in that manner.
“So, what will you be doing from now on?”
Al’s face became bright once Kail said those words. He once again looked at Kail after also sheathing his sword himself.
“Right. Hmmm, yes, like I was saying before… I will have to start by fighting in wars if I really want to make fame for myself. That was the reason why I got this third class citizen ID. I am going to volunteer to the army and go to the frontlines. There, I will get achievements and build up a foothold for my rise.”
Al looked at the two with a sad face. He won’t be able to meet them for some time by going to the frontlines. Depending on the situation of the war, he might not be able to come back for years.
“I see…. Don’t die. All I can tell you right now is for you keep living.”
“Good luck, Al. We will be waiting for you.”
“Thank you, you two. I will do my best.”
The three were good friends. However, even so, it wasn’t possible for them to understand each other. Even in the cases they were able to do so, there were still things that couldn´t be touched.
“By the way, Al. That swordplay from before wasn’t bad.”
Al made a sulky face.
“You say that even though you easily beat me.”
Kail put his hands on Al’s head and started to mess up his hair.
“It’s because I am strong. Still, your skill is quite a bit up there for the battlefield standards, skinny-kun.”
“Stop it, let me go!”
“Gahaha, like I would.”
They went back to how the three of they would usually act. They knew that this was only in the surface. But even so, it was exactly because it was like that that the three of them valued it. It was because they knew that this wouldn’t last forever…
“Either way, don’t die, Al.”
“I know that, Kail.”
Al was going on a journey. A journey to rise to the top.
Today was the turning point. Today was the last day Kail would have been to stop Al. Kail was going to regret his decisions in the future. He would regret it to the point of wishing he had stopped Al even if he had to cut his arms and legs. Perhaps Kail should have stopped Al much earlier instead, when the karma still didn’t weigh down onto him.
Unfortunately, there are no “ifs” for the past that already happened.
Al went forward. Even if his path was to become soaked in blood, he wouldn’t stop at any cost.