Rein and Emria made their way back to the remains. There was nothing left. The whole village had been wiped off the face of the earth. All that was left was ruins of houses and a pair of swords in a large crater. The swords that Leona used.
"I guess she left these behind." He said quietly, taking the swords into his hands.
"Damn these are heavy." Before he had realized it, tears had started streaming down his face. He was trying his best to keep cool in front of Emria, but it was no use. They wouldn't stop. Emria started crying too and hugged Rein trying to comfort him. She remembered Leona's final words to her. "Take care of Rein for me will you?". Emria was close to Leona as well. Whenever she was in the village, Emria would always come over to spend time with Leona. Rein always felt jealous of them whenever they'd be having so-called "girl time".
"Why was my sister the one who had to die… Why couldn't we have just escaped together." He began spouting regrets, but deep down, he knew this was the only way everyone would be saved.
"Ouch, that attack sure was something." A chill rushed through Reins' spine. He dashed backward, holding Emria and pointing the sword towards the voice. Behind the rubble of a house emerged the tattooed boy. The Chess Master.
"H-how… are you still alive? My sister's attack should have killed you…" His tears stopped flowing. His pupils grew smaller, overcome with unending fear and despair. His sister sacrificed her life to kill this monster, and he lived unscathed. He tried composing himself, but it was futile. He had to do all he could to protect Emria.
"Emria, I'm gonna need you to stand back for a bit."
"No! I told big sis I was gonna protect you. I can still use my Spring!" She yelled.
"Sorry, I can't put you at risk like that." He had her stand back. Rein didn't bother to assume a fighting stance. He rushed in head first with both swords in hand. He swung at the boy's neck with the force to topple a tree. The boy didn't try to dodge. Rein sent his head flying into the air. He stood at the body, which was still twitching with nerves. Rein had just ended a life. Disgusted with himself, he threw up vigorously. Tears began streaming down his face again. Even though this was the person who drove his sister to her death, he still felt remorse. He hoped that Emria hadn't seen him cut the head off, but when he looked back, she was also crying with her hands over her eyes. He was about to go comfort her, but suddenly the body disintegrated. Confused, Rein got up and ran to where the head landed. He looked at it with immeasurable confusion— the body that was disintegrating was now growing back through the severed head. Rage washed over him yet again. He began continuously slashing at the regenerating body, tears flowing down, blood splashing onto his face.
"Die! Die! Die! You drove my sister to her death, you piece of shit!" An arm outstretched from the body and stopped Rein's arm from slashing.
"Calm down Alister. I can't do shit to you now, and you can't do shit to me neither." The boy spoke, raising his body up from the ground. His clothes, a blue suit with a yellow tie also regenerated with it. It's like Reins attacks did absolutely nothing.
"How the hell are you still alive?!" Rein screamed, with fear and rage etched into his voice.
"Didn't I tell you to calm down? The names Core. As you know, I'm the leader of Checkmate."
"Answer my question!"
"Slow down, I'm getting there. Your sister didn't let me finish explaining why I wouldn't fight her. It's not because I'm too scared. It's because my Spring doesn't allow me to take a life. In return for this curse, my life is not allowed to be taken from me. Therefore, I am granted immortality and eternal youth. A pretty fucked up Spring is it not?"
"Not as fucked up as you. You killed my sister! You massacred my village! I'm gon-"
"You think I do this shit because I want to? Because I enjoy it? I have my reasons for being in this line of work. This is more than just a job to me. I'm not here by choice, nor am I the one you should be directing your anger towards. If Checkmate didn't take the job, some other group would have, it was only a matter of time…"
"You think I give a shit about your motive? About your reasons? Just this morning, my sis was alive. 30 minutes ago, we were eating together. It could've stayed that way if it weren't for you," he hissed angrily, Core looking down at the ground with contempt, but not regret.
"Yeah, I know..." He uttered, making Rein's eyes well up with rage as he suddenly remembered the villagers who had escaped.
"What about the villagers who escaped, did your men kill them too?" After Rein said this, Emria twitched. She knew that her mother was among the escapees.
"Nah, we saw 'em but we let them go. Our mission was to kill everyone inside the village. Anyone who was already outside was none of our business." Rein sighed an enormous sigh of relief, and Emria followed.
"Thank goodness... Big sis Leo saved everyone..." Emria smiled brightly, Core noticing her expression as his softened, Rein noticing that his lifeless eyes seemed to light up for a moment.
"Well then, I'll be goi-..." Core stopped mid-sentence. Rein and Emria didn't know why, but he suddenly ran towards them and ducked them behind a pile of rubble.
"The hell do you think you're doing?" Rein yelled, to which Core hushed.
"Shh, I hear footsteps. Be quiet, these might be Orthlys soldiers. If they find any survivors, they'll kill them." Rein's heart sank to his stomach.
"They'll kill survivors? And where are the footsteps coming from?"
"The south gate. I'm sure they were in that direction."
"..." Rein couldn't say anything. His entire body began trembling. Emria, judging by Rein's reaction, also grew fearful.
As the soldier's footsteps got closer, a conversation started to be made out.
"Man, what the hell happened here? Where are all the Checkmate people? How are we gonna frame Econica for this shit if there are no fake soldiers?" One of the soldiers said.
"Chill dude, we don't need proof. All we need is to fool that idiot prince into making a statement, and the people will believe it instantly."
Rein couldn't bear hearing all of this. Overcome with enthralling pure rage, he grabbed his swords with the intent to attack the soldiers. Before he could make a move, someone grabbed his arm from behind.
"Alister, calm down. You're just gonna get yourself killed." Said Core, holding Rein's arm.
"Isn't that a good thing for you? Your mission was to kill us after all." He hissed at Core, livid and full of anger.
"You're right, that was Checkmate's mission. We failed. We already lost via stalemate. If the soldiers kill you now, it's not like my mission would be complete. I'm not heartless you know. I'm not gonna let you run to your death." Core said this with genuine concern, Emria suddenly holding Rein's hand.
"Rein… I don't want you to die too." Rein took a deep breath, calming himself as he shook his arm free from Core and sat back down. He didn't say anything. They just continued listening to the soldier's conversation.
"Oh? And how do you suggest we're gonna do that? The prince isn't stupid. He wouldn't believe something without proof."
"I have an idea. Remember that group of villagers we slaughtered on our way here? We'll just have one of our men dress up in Econican armor. We can kill 'em and throw his corpse in with them. That'll make it seem like an Econican soldier died while killing villagers."
[Inverse System Activated]
"..." The ground started rumbling, shaking the rubble that remained on the ground.
"The hell's going on? An earthquake?" One of the Orthlys soldiers questioned.
They saw a white-haired boy emerge from behind the rubble. Rein Alister. Overflowing with rage, he had shaken free of Core's grip and revealed himself to the enemy.
"Aw shit, it's a survivor. Not to mention it's a kid. Hey, go kill 'em. We can't have any witnesses." As the soldier approached, Rein drew his swords.
"You killed them. They didn't do anything. They were just trying to escape the mayhem… And you killed them… You selfish sons of bitches weren't even acting on orders. You could have let them live, that wouldn't have changed anything. You go out of your way to hurt others for your own benefit." Rein looked up at the soldier approaching him, revealing that his yellow eyes had turned red. Rein took up a stance, with Core and Emria still behind the rubble looking at him. Core blinked, and when he opened his eyes Rein was gone. He felt a huge gust of wind burst towards him.
"The hell? Did he manifest his dad's Spring too? No… that wouldn't make any sense. I felt the wind. He definitely moved normally. What the?!" He hadn't even noticed that two of the soldiers were dead on the ground, their throats slit, Rein standing behind them. Other soldiers came rushing in.
"Hey! This kid just killed two of our soldiers! Someone get the prince!" Before the soldier had come to realize it, the kid was right on top of him. He held up his wooden shield, but it was useless. Rein cut through the shield and killed the soldier, almost like he was cutting through butter. From there, he rampaged all of the soldiers who remained. Yet, before he could finish all of them off, two people riding a horse appeared. One of them wearing a royal broach...