Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 60 – Whatever it takes…
“You’re definitely strong, kid… unfortunate as it is however, returning the girl is the one thing I cannot afford to do,” the old mercenary’s expression grew stern as he let out a depressed sigh. The muscles around his upper torso tensed and his footing stabilized further. Yet, behind that unmoving form, the man’s uncertainty and desperation for someone to stop him was painfully obvious. In his nature and principle, by no means was Roland ‘evil’; it could be argued that most people never started off harbouring such destructive impulses to their neighbour. “This is just how shitty life really is down at the bottom.”
Mordred clicked his tongue; a frown, “being a mercenary means to take all sorts of jobs, even if it goes against your own principles… that’s what you taught me.”
A smirk upon the corner etched its way up the aging mercenary’s mouth, “that’s right.” With the shivering scratch of a sword uncovered from its sheath, the old mercenary drew his large iron sword from his waist. Yet that was the only thing he did; he did not poise himself for a fight. This was merely a farce of a demonstration of ‘determination’. Mordred felt for a moment the man’s eyes grow dim as he continued his speech, “matters of what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, only the strong have the leisure to waste time contemplating about such nauseating crap. The best we weaklings can ever think about is how to survive for just a few more days. We expend our lives and strengths just continuing on… never knowing when we’d end up in a ditch with our skulls cracked open.”
A brief pause; Mordred remained silent. It wasn’t that he was out of rebukes, in fact he could sit there all day and lecture the man about morality. Yet whatever words he threw would only ring hollow. Mordred never spent a day gruelling through hardships. Back then there was always a roof over his head and warm food to eat. Even when he was thrust into this unreasonable fantasy world he was given everything and more. ‘What right did I have…?’
To face a man who had lived his entire life with his face to the ground and tell him that he was wrong… such was not something Mordred could do. That man continued, “when you don’t even know if you will have a roof over your head the next day, there’s simply no time to be thinking about whether your actions are ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘screws’ anyone over. If you’ve lived long enough in this world then these kinds of ‘evil’ is something you’re just going to have to learn to deal with.” Roland finally pointed his sword towards Mordred, “you can live with your morality, but don’t tell me what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ if you have no idea.”
The mercenary’s aging eyes were stern. The hawk-like expressions and features of his face became more pronounced as it gave off a strange morbid determination.
To his response, Mordred’s only card was ‘sympathy’. He pointed towards the wooden container that held an unconscious and innocent young girl, “you have a daughter; surely you of all people would understand what it’s like to have that disappear. Will you not reconsider even as an innocent child’s life is on the line?”
“Someone’s life is always on the line. A child, a woman, family or friends… I’ve seen it all, kid. Nothing is sacred.”
“I know it hurts every time you say something like that. You won’t fool a child, much less me.”
“It doesn’t matter what I ‘feel’. It only matters what I ‘do’. There are powers that be here you couldn’t even fathom that work tirelessly in the background to screw everyone over. The best I can ever do is make sure that at least Cecilia isn’t the one.”
“I wonder, is it truly that way? Isn’t your work as a mercenary stable enough? What about Cecilia? Your argument is that morality is the leisure of the strong, but isn’t your daughter practically a Demigod?”
“My occupation is only as stable as the church is willing to let it be. I don’t have to explain that, right?” Roland shook his head and continued, “as for Cecilia… she can’t control her emotions, much less her own power. Thus, as long as the church’s tight grip on us remain, I’ll be doing all manner of evil… forever.”
“Why the bloody hell are you just yammering on?! Roland, you insignificant dolt, remove these fools already!” shouted the clergyman beside him in frustration.
The old mercenary let out a small chuckle as he tried to delay those orders, “come on Gelmire, do you really think I can defeat a guy who just popped into this place from thin air? Even assuming I somehow found a miraculous way to do that, the Titan rampaging downstairs is almost done and I sure as hell don’t have the confidence to take on such a monster.”
“Enough! You are to do as your told! The Grand Cardinal doesn’t keep you alive to just stand around like an oaf!”
Roland sighed as he turned back and lifted his sword back against Mordred, “sorry kid, that’s what it’s like.”
“Is that it? You’re saying that the only thing which matters is who has the most power? Your only goal is to make sure you don’t tread on their toes and live like a tool?”
“Something like that. We bow our heads to the ones in charge; that’s the only way for people like me to live. ‘Good guys’ like you just keep on doing what you do best. That’s really the best for both of us. Don’t worry, this conflict was always going to be inevitable.”
Not ‘morality’, but with that one answer it seemed to Mordred that there might be a way out after all. With a sinister grin, he replied, “good guy?” a sickly black smog exuded from Mordred’s shadows. “I’ve never said anything about being the ‘good guy’.”
“Roland... I’m not sure what kind of fantasy world you’ve lived in, but have you seen the ‘strong’ ever doing the ‘right’ thing?”
“It’s exactly because we’re ‘strong’ that every action we take is free of consequence,” as Mordred took a step closer the room began to fill with a noxious sensation. The air grew frigid, the walls rapidly decayed and the floor panels rotted away; [Greater Aura of devastation]. “And it’s precisely because you’re ‘weak’ that you should do the ‘right’ thing. You need to garner all that sympathy from like-minds just to survive like the cockroaches you are.” His large red eyes stunned all in the room in cold, icy fear.
Mordred’s next step did not result in further encroachment but somehow ended up behind the mercenary father. At that moment, the clergyman who haughtily and furious barked orders fell to the floor as he suddenly had his lower torso liberated from the rest of his body. He didn’t even peep a sound for he never realized what struck and kill him. “What…?” Mordred’s sword flashed as a certain red liquid dropped down the edge. It pooled at the ground with a harrowing ‘plop’.
“How about a deal, Roland? From the truly ‘strong’ to the ‘weak’. This will be the only way you and your daughter will live. Forget the church, I’m the real devil here.”
“… Haha... are you... are you serious? This is... this is no longer a matter of being 'strong'...”
“Any minute now those bastards from the empire will come to collect Charlotte as their ‘prize’. So you just sit tight and let me demonstrate to you exactly how ‘strong’ I am.” The building trembled as if bowing to Mordred’s magnificently malicious aura. The roof suddenly tore asudner like a piece of paper. A gigantic gauntlet breeched through and revealed an unfathomably sized armoured colossus painted in glorious bright white and blue; [Puppeteer’s Ultimate Technique: Colossus Knight Marionette]. A piercing blue gaze stared down at them through its helmet like a god looking down ants. “Peel your eyes open real wide, because I’ll drill it into your head that no shitty ‘church’ can hold a candle to my ‘evil’. After that, if you still want to live, then you’ll do as ‘I’ say.”