Still, he wasn’t making any progress, so he decided to just keep the Boots on and move toward the one called Manuel. If he was going to land a decisive surprise attack, his odds would be better at close range.

He kept bumping the final pressure point of the Sword, hoping for the invisibility to reactivate, but as of yet, he was having no such luck.  

“I hope the others are okay,” the one called Manuel was saying. “I can only imagine what the Water Dragon must be thinking, after we all disappeared like that. Lorios can’t even sense him, anymore.”

As Royo drew nearer, the one called Manuel turned to face him, as did his ghost.  


Trusting, but not too trusting, eh?  

Royo could appreciate that.

Truthfully, he liked the one called Manuel. Quite a lot.

The fact of the matter was that this man had done nothing to deserve Royo’s ire--and indeed, the exact opposite was the case. Immediately following the fight with the greatworm by the train, when the ground had collapsed beneath everyone’s feet, it was the one called Manuel who had saved Royo from falling to his death.

And that was no trivial deed.

While Royo did not believe that it made the one called Manuel trustworthy in all regards, Royo would not be forgetting it any time soon, either. He fully intended to repay this man tenfold, one day--perhaps one day soon, if he really did manage to become a god.

It was rather unfortunate that the one called Manuel was Royo’s first opponent in this tournament, but such were the idiosyncrasies of life, he supposed.

Nothing in all of creation would prevent Royo Raju’s ambition.

So when he again bumped the final pressure point of the Sword of Hamenszoon, and it actually responded this time by cloaking the world in ethereal fire once more, Royo did not hesitate.  

He didn’t know how long the invisibility would last this time, so he went for the ghost first, needing to test the most crucial thing to his mind.

Could he touch the ghost?

He knew of their ability to phase through physical objects. He had seen it with his own eyes, thanks to these goggles, but he had also seen them avoiding the worms earlier, too, which suggested to him that ardor was the key factor. And he had a glove with ardor in it.

He grasped the ghost and held on. Yes. It worked exactly as expected.

The one called Manuel was clearly startled by his disappearance, and now even more so, as the ghost was probably yelling.

Royo slipped the Sword of Hamenszoon back into its sheath on his waist. The invisibility dispersed the second the hilt left his grasp, but Royo was already drawing his pistol instead.  

He didn’t know much of the superhumans’ powers, but he knew of their immortality, and he knew that even this would not be enough to truly kill them.  

Royo locked eyes with the one called Manuel just before pulling the trigger and said, “Forgive me.”

The man’s head exploded as the flaming bullet tore through it.