Arifureta Chapter 136

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As always, this is a not a direct translation, but a rewrite on my interpretation of the MTLs.

All credit goes to the original author (Chuuni Suki), who has posted the raw data here:

http://ncode.syosetu.com/n8611bv/137/

Thanks for your continued support. If you like my writing style, check out my original works at www. wattpad.com/user/elementalcobalt, or just leave a comment.

This chapter wasn’t done just by me this time. I received more than a little help from SouthBound, who performed a rough translation that helped me go through and write a more thorough translation. Hope you enjoy it! And give him a hearty thank you as well!

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Gliding across the clouds and glistening in the sunlight, the airship Ferner could be seen unopposed in the sky.

“As far as the eye can see it’s an ocean of clouds.”  Shia muttered while looking outside the window of the bridge.

“…. the Shunee (Schnee) snowfield is always covered in an overcast sky. The outside is frigid.” Yue explained while nodding.

The Shunee snowfield and Risen Large Canyon divided the south continent in half. On the eastern side sat the heavy snow field, which was covered in cloudy weather throughout the year, so even during periods when it doesn’t snow, the earth remains smothered in snow and ice.

East of the Sea of Trees caught between the demon country of Garland and the southern continent is this mysterious place. Strangely, neither the Sea of Trees nor the country of Garland are touched by snow or ice, as if the boundary was cut with an impassible wall.

The interior of the snowfield houses a considerably large gorge, likely formed from the ice and the snow. The last of the large labyrinths should be at the tip of the gorge, the Shunee Snow Cave. Normally, an adventurer would be worn down by the cold on their way towards reaching the tip, making it a perfect location for the labyrinth.

Hajime had known of the snow cave’s location ever since his conversation with Miredi. Make no mistake, he understood it was a great labyrinth. However, a super convenient tool named airship allowed him to skim over the clouds in relative comfort.

“Master, is the compass working properly?” Tio asked.

Hajime was holding a compass the size of his palm in one hand.

He had received it from Luluo Haltina, a compass designed with concept magic to show him “the place he desired”. In which case, it was pointed straight for the Shunee cave with pinpoint accuracy.

“Ah. It’s okay. This is wonderful. The needle doesn’t just face in the direction I want, I also get a sense of the exact location and distance as well, somehow.”

“Is that so? So it seems to understand where the place is specifically. It must be hard to describe how that works.”

Kaori agreed with Hajime’s words of admiration. When they were in Fair Bergen, he tried an experiment by marking specific coordinates using the compass. The exact geo-location was determined in some complicated way. The power of this concept magic was shocking; he rejoiced that he could even feel the existence of his hometown in Japan.

Of course, the coordinates vanished as the power demands increased exponentially. The consumption of magic increased proportionally to the distance of what you’re looking for. To locate a coordinate on Earth, all of Hajime’s power was used in one go. Fortunately, he barely avoided fainting by supplementing his power just before it dried up.

Shia returned from the window, approaching the sofa where Hajime was sitting. To Hajime’s right, Yue always clung. The left side was the place that Shia had originally sat. So she abandoned the window and hopped over, a perplexed look on her face.

As Hajime watched her suspiciously from the side, Shia appeared nervous and fidgety. She seemed to feel nervous now that Hajime had formally begun to treat her as his lover, becoming more embarrassed at unreservedly clinging to him.

Hajime’s expression softened at the appearance of the beautiful figure of Shia, grabbing her hand and pulling her to sit next to himself.

“Ah…”

“Don’t be embarrassed now, we’ve already been seen.”

“… Shia is cute.”

Hajime laughed as Shia wore an amazed expression, meanwhile Yue warmly spoke while having narrowed eyes. Though Kaori was giving an envious look, she also noded in agreement at Yue’s words.

Tio gave a perverted smile while moving to sit across from Shia on another sofa.

“Kuku… certainly Shia has become cuter. So how was your first night? Was it painful… or did it feel good? Why don’t you let us know? Hora… hora… let us know…”

“What are you saying? It’s impossible to answer!”

“What is it? So Master’s performance was so poor you can’t say? Yes?”

“That isn’t true! Instead it was amazing… many times… wait, what are you getting me to say!”

As Shia was suggesting, during their last night in Fair Bergen, Shia and Hajime has spent the night together. Yue had prevented any peeping toms, including a certain Sea of Trees princess she needed to spank, which left the princes writhing in ecstasy on the ground.

Shia covered her face with her hands, hiding her shame. It seemed to have various meanings after her impactful first night. It was an inevitability, as you could say Hajime was a warrior with a long military service. Needless to say, it was Yue who turned him into the super soldier he was today.

While licking her lips, Yue gave a bewitching smile that suggested that with “three of them” the erotic vampire princess would be “included next time”, her eyes showing her worldly desires. While holding Shia, he glanced over at the companion he had turned, and gave Tio a demonic flick on the forehead.

Pow! It hit with a terrific sound, and everyone continued to ignore Tio as she writhed on the floor wearing an expression of ecstasy.

“It’d be good if we could finish the great labyrinths. I want to meet up with Myuu again soon.”

To avoid the embarrassing mood, Shia changed the subject while wearing a bright expression and laughing in desperation, but Hajime quickly moved things back on target.

“In addition, we should make time for Kam (TN: Her father).”

“Hajime…”

Hajime gently patted Shia’s head, his eyes wrought with worry. Shia shook her head with a soft smile to reassure him.

As a matter of fact, Hajime had offered to take Kam with them when he left for Earth shortly after they had fought the empire, but received a curt reply. As he had predicted, Kam and rest of them had answered no, determined to protect the name of the Haulia tribe and fight until the bitter end.

It was decided then that Shia would separate from her family. Hajime gave a sigh. He was unable to refute Kam, who gave a happy smile while saying “It’s enough if you keep Shia happy”, which showed his resolve as a father. It may end up being possible to come and go between worlds; however, they did not yet know the limits of the concept magic, and it was also possible that the mad gods may interfere, making it extremely difficult. Moreover, he wanted to spend his last days in this world with family.

Shia sympathized with his feelings, showing him a bright smile.

“I’ve said my goodbyes to father, and although it breaks my heart, I’m happy, and I’ll be even more happy in the future.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes! Fufu… I realized this when I saw you with Myuu, you’re overprotective when it comes to family, you know.”

Shia gave an amused laugh under her breath, matching Yue’s bright look while mischievously embracing Hajime’s arm.

“… Nn, we mustn’t depend on Hajime’s kindness too much.”

“Ahaha, certainly, it won’t be good if we depend too much on Hajime.”

To Kaori, who wore a sulky expression while looking around uncomfortably, Hajime could say nothing as he came off more like a womanizer.

The side door opened, and Kouki’s group entered. Kouki and the rest had been training using the artifacts Hajime had provided them, and it seemed like they were taking a break. They took seats in another sofa, while ignoring Tio, whom had a swollen forehead and a gross look on her face.

“So, how are the artifacts, are you getting used to them?”

“Ah, it’s surprising. The output has been doubled, the added benefits will be very useful.”

To Hajime’s question, Kouki wore a complicated expression while patting the holy sword sitting at his waist, acknowledging the increase in strength.

“While being able to walk through the air is odd, it’s seriously amazing. It will be really useful once we get used to it, not even mentioning the ability to increase and decrease weight.”

“Suzu also is extremely pleased with it. It seems far easier to use now. Thank you, Hajime-kun!”

“I also have no problems. If anything, I’m afraid it’s too strong. However, we won’t know anything until we’ve managed to get some actual combat experience.”

Everyone seemed to be satisfied with the modified artifacts that Hajime had prepared. They all had a suitable fighting spirit for tackling the last dungeon, especially for Suzu, whose eagerness to meet Eri once again was shown.

“That’s good. Your fighting strength should increase by several times if you can master your new skills, make every effort before you find yourself being pressed in the demon territory.”

Though Hajime gave off a curt attitude, the power he had given them was the real thing. With him helping Suzu reach her objectives, Suzu and the rest of the party’s opinion on Hajime was that of a “Tsundere”, but they didn’t say anything because he was still a little scary.

At this time, Hajime’s gaze unexpectedly snapped forward towards his target. The mood shifted from relaxed to serious.

“… Did we arrive?” Yue asked.

“Ah, it’s time to descend.”

At Hajime’s command, Ferner rushed into the sea of clouds, and everyone’s gaze turned serious as they looked out of the windows.

After only a few seconds of descending through white clouds, Ferner was instantly enveloped with a snow storm cold enough to freeze the hull in an instant.

“That’s certainly severely cold, as you said, that is not this mistress’ forte.”

Tio grumbled while trembling and staring at the silvery landscape enveloped with blizzard with an unpleased eye.

“Everyone, hold on to the artifact I’m handing you, it will help protect you against the cold which will help greatly in surviving this labyrinth.”

“… Nn, anything Hajime handmade, wonderful.”

“That’s true, the part with the snow crystal motif is beautiful.”

“This is my third present from Hajime… ehehe.”

“… Master, why just a tiny snowman? Although it’s cute by itself, I was hoping for an accessory with a more elaborate design.”

Each pendant artifact that Hajime handed out offered protection from the cold. There were a snow crystal motif made from a translucent light blue stone embedded in an elaborate design that seemed to absorb the light.

Only Tio received a pendant which had a snowman on it, wearing an American-like smile with cheerful features. She gave a wistful expression as she compared her pendant to everyone else’s.

“When you do something about your inclinations, I’ll present you with something better.”

“Is that to say this lowly mistress… is not worth a womanly present…? It’s too cruel, Master. The gap, the unpleasantness is too painful. Please give this mistress a nicer present!”

“… so it’s decided that you won’t fix your behavior…?”

Suzu and Shizaku give each other a look of amazement as Tio embraced Hajime while wearing a look as if she’s about to cry.

“… Shizu, Shizu, aren’t these just rocks? In that case, wouldn’t a snowman be much better?”

“Suzu, please don’t point out such a difference in treatment, because it’s too sad…”

“Is that so? If it’s effective, what’s the problem?”

“… Ryuutaro, I don’t think that’s what it’s about.”

In Shizuku’s hand was nothing but a common rock you could pick up anywhere, apart from its ability to protect against the cold. The dejected Suzu and Shizuku had slumped shoulders after comparing their pendants to the ones the other girls had received. For once, Kouki was actually able to read the mood, unlike normal. (TN: In other words, Hajime gave Shia, Yue, and Kaori beautiful gems, gave Tio an unromantic snowman, and gave Shizuku and Suzu a rock, lol.)

In the meantime, Ferner reached the Gorge of Ice and Snow, where the entrance to the ice and snow cave likely lead to the great labyrinth.

While operating Ferner, Hajime navigated the forge using far sight, and while it normally would have taken a while to locate it, with the help of Ferner that time was cut significantly. However, upon reaching the end of the gorge, the cave entrance was yet to be seen.

“… Nn? Does it end here? The compass says it’s still further ahead.”

“… Hajime, look.”

“At what?”

Yue pointed at the crystal display that showed the surroundings, activating a zoom function. Hajime looked at where she indicated, finding that the width of the gorge apparently narrowed up ahead. The ice and snow had piled up, creating a huge domed passage, leading towards the inside.

“There is no other way. It’s about a kilometer until the cave. Looks like we’re walking from here.”

“This is the first time I’ve seen the snow, it looks like it might be fun.”

Out of everyone who began moving at Hajime’s orders, only Shia appeared to be excited. She was like a child on a train who climbs onto their seat to look outside as they pass by the silvery landscape.

Though this was similar to the time that Shia had first seen the ocean, how Hajime looked at her was different. A Shia with her rabbit ears waving about extravagantly as she frolicked around with a child-like innocence was far too adorable. He seemed to want to hug her tightly, and it was necessary for him to hold himself back.

While scratching his head, hajimei concentrated on guiding Ferner into the depths of the ravine which was quickly becoming too narrow to land properly.

Hajime opened the lower hatch on the outside… and was immediately attacked by large swaths of snow coming up into his face. The artifact that protected against the cold did not provide any barrier, it only kept the person’s temperature within a constant and suitable range. While trying not to become blinded, he hurriedly covered himself with a coat.

“Waa, is this snow? It’s hard and fluffy!”

As such, Shia lone became excited. While her body was pummeled with the snow storm, she was busy stamping her feet and scooping it up without reservation, her eyes full of enjoyment.

“Oi, Shia. Let’s go, you’re getting too excited…  Oi, are you listening?”

As Shia frolicked, she appeared to not hear the words of admonishment Hajime was giving her. Instead, she played in the pure-white snow that lay thickly about energetically while raising her voice.

“And she fell into an abyss, as it was…”

As Shia dives in the snow, the ground collapses under her while Hajime mutters something in a narrator’s voice while turning scornful eyes to the newly formed massive crevasse that opens into a deep hole.

Shia had fallen into a crack in the earth while letting out a scream “Ahhh!!!” There was a fissure that ran along the gorge, but the accumulated snow had made it impossible to notice.

“Will you settle down before Shia dies? Hey! Shiaaaa!”

The dumbfounded Shizuku and Suzu began to fall into a panic while making pale faces. Meanwhile, Kouki and Ryuutaro were at a loss for words given the situation.

“Settle down, Shia won’t be defeated by a fall like that. Besides, we need to get down there too.”

Hajime waves it away like it was nothing and then jumped the 400 meters down into the crevasse after Shia without a moment’s hesitation. Yue also jumped after them.

Everyone was provided with an artifact that provided the effect of aerodynamic, which provided them a method of reducing their rate of fall. Of course, Suzu could put up an energy-absorbing effect. There shouldn’t be a problem for Kouki’s group, although it went against common sense to leap off a cliff.

Suzu group peeked over the ravine quiet and watery eyed at the thought of jumping off the edge.

“What are you hesitating for? There is no time to hesitate! Aren’t you making a better effort?”

Tio couldn’t stand waiting behind them and thus gave a push in both the emotional and physical sense. With the feeling of being pushed like a bungee jumper without a rope, Suzu is forcefully pushed.

“Wait, I’ll go, because I’ll go – Suzu is a person who can do it if you do it, just let me go at my own pace!”

“The day grows darker as you say things like that. Look, come here.”

“Yaa… wait, please don’t life me. I’ll do it myself, I’ll go myselfffff….”

Tio lifted Suzu and then threw her like trash towards the bottom of the ravine. The scream thins as she falls down the ravine, her voice echoing magnificently.

Tio turns around and give Kouki a smile as he turns pale. That smile eloquently told them all, “Who dies next?”

“Yaegashi Shizuku. I’m off!”

Saying so as if trying to avoid being thrown, Shizuku leaps from the cliff with a beautiful form like a diver jumping into a pool.

Kouki and Ryuutaro let out a “Uoo!” and “Brave!” before passing Tio and jumping into the ravine with a shout.

“Umu, it’s good to be energetic, isn’t it?” Tio nods before jumping over the side herself.

___________

“Calm down, Suzu. Don’t cry!”

Barely contained tears echo across the gorge of ice and snow.

Suzu was shaking, and it seemed that her fall was only stopped desperately. Actually, the true reason she was crying was that she seemed to have wet herself a little, but that was something she couldn’t say.

Shizuku, Kouki, and Ryuutaro tried to comfort her, however, the three people had little strength left after their own experience bungee jumping without a rope.

“Suzu, it’s so soft… cute.”

“Please don’t do that to comfort yourself.”

Hajime tsukomi’d while giving Suzu, who seemed like a small animal under Kaori’s care, a look.

At that point, a dogon noise came from the corner of the wall near the bottom of the ravine where Hajime stood, followed by a shout “Uryaaa!!”

A part of the wall had collapsed with a roaring sound. There, Shia strolls out calmly with Doryukken propped on her shoulder.

“Iya… to be caught by such a cunning trapped, my innocence was played with! *cough*”

“Are you stupid? Though it’s not the great labyrinth, it’s still dangerous here, don’t forget it!”

“Ah… sorry… I got a little carried away…”

With a deceptive smile, Hajime rapped Shia on the head with his knuckles while scolding her. As she dropped her shoulders dejectedly, he grabs her cheek and gives a muni.

While punishing Shia’s cheek with one hand, he held the compass with the other. The compass indicated which road to follow from a branch up ahead.

“Come on guys, don’t stand around engrossed in your own world forever, let’s go.” Hajime shouted and Suzu seemed to regain her lost energy, nodding with renewed vigor.

Everything in the surrounding area was covered with ice and snow, and the water didn’t flow. Is everything frozen? Even with the snow storm in the valley above, the cold chill blew through, making a moderate temperature seem impossible.

If they didn’t have the artifacts to ward against the cold, just how much of their physical strength would be cut down. When the night falls, it could reach as low as -30, if not lower.

Lumps of ice and icicles that seemed to grow from the ground appeared more and more the farther they advanced. The wind also seemed to blow stronger, and the temperature continued to drop.

“This is a little troubling.” Tio wore a difficult expression and stood with some difficulty.

“It should be within 500 meters. It’s dangerous with the snow fluttering around and obstructing our views. Tio, can you please disperse the wind?”

“Understood.”

At Hajime’s request, Tio gathered her magic to avert the wind to the left and right. However, before she executed it, an objection was voiced.

“Wait, that, let Suzu do it!”

That’s right, Suzu.

With a fighting spirit, Suzu grasped onto two iron-ribbed fans that were the new artifacts Hajime had created.

The fans had been imbued with age of god magic much like the way Shizuku’s sword had been modified. Particularly, using the newly obtained sublimation magic, magic formations were carved into the iron-ribbed fan and evolved accordingly.

Though she had practiced on the deck of the Ferner, was it enough to use the fans properly? It had a magic absorbing function too. Using it while paying attention to the magic usage was a good idea to reduce the consumption of magic.

Tio gave Hajime a questioning look, and he gave a nod in acceptance.

“Yosh, then let’s do it! Sacred Shield!”

As soon as Suzu recited the magic’s name, a translucent barrier surrounded them with watery light. The barrier drew a curve loosely towards the front, generating a ripple of light that was beaten fast from the central portion of the outside.

The sacred shield was defensive magic, providing the ability to distribute energy of an object that comes into contact with it. One of the features of the fan was the ability to create the barrier without chanting. The strength of the shield was middle class for the sake of efficacy.

According to Suzu’s plan, when the snow and wind hit the barrier, the power is dispersed and thrown to the side, softening it to a gentle breeze.

“… Nn. It’s not bad.” Yue gave her impression after seeing Suzu’s barrier.

The saint barrier was evolved magic from sublimation, seeming to the level where even a genius like Yue was willing to acknowledge it. Suzu smiled broadly from the compliment.

With the storm averted, their continued movement became much easier. As Hajime continued on, he suddenly halted, gazing forward with squinted eyes.

“… Is that it?”

When they followed Hajime’s look, there was a crack with a beautiful isosceles triangle at the tip of the dead end. The needle of the compass pointed straight ahead. So this was the cave of ice and snow.

“It looks like we’re here, but Hajime…”

“Ah, I get it, everyone prepare yourself. Something is coming!”

Shia’s eyes lowered dangerously, while her rabbit ears danced around. She detected two or more signs of something in the darkness of the cave. While Yue, Kaori, and Tio remained relaxed as usual, tension ramped up with Kouki and the others.

Immediately…

“Ggigigigigigigi.” X5

While giving a strange yell, a demon with a strange body came out of the cave, moving around fiercely.

With an appearance like a gorilla covered in white hair, it stood three meters high and walked on two legs, unlike a gorilla.

You could go so far as to say,

“Yeti? [TN: They call it big foot. Not the abominable snowman, or better yet, a Yeti. I’m changing it to Yeti.]

“As you would expect… in a parallel world, meeting UMA of a snow mountain in a place like this…”

Koari wore a stiff smile, while Hajime slipped Donner out while muttering, however, this time Shizuku stopped him.

“Nagumo-kun. Though it’s bad, please let us take of this ourselves. Kouki… Ryuutaru. Suzu!”

“Yeah!”

“Good, let’s do this!”

“We absolutely won’t lose!”

Kouki and the rest rushed out ahead after taking Shizuku’s order. They actually wanted to acquire actual combat experience using the new artifacts though Kaori seemed to want to help out.

Hajime, standing next to Yue, only shrugged, content watching them. Only Kaori came off as anxious, her hands grasped like she was praying.

“Wake up, Black Sword.”

In front of Hajime, Shizuku recited the invocation in a loud voice, drawing out the first attack.

“Tear it up, flying claws!”

The ability flying air claws was executed, and it approached the Yeti with a deathly invisible attack, however, the yeti seemed to move with animal intuition. They spread out like ninja’s, evading the attack completely.

However, Shizuku seemed to have assumed they’d dodge from the beginning.

“Suzu!”

“Understood, leave it to us!”

In a flash, Kouki and Suzu moved to intercept the return strike while the magic Suzu cast struck the earth under the nearest Yeti.

“Heavy barrier, Heavy Saint!”

The iron-ribbed fan turned with a glitter, a spheroidal barrier shining brightly around the earth under the Yeti. It was not a barrier to prevent the attack, but a barrier to confine the Yeti.

After being confined in a dome, it tried to break free by tearing at it with his claws.

At that point, a shadow appeared over Suzu, another Yeti came jumping, though Kaori had seen it coming and tried to yell a warning, Suzu’s magic had already been executed.

“Swallow barrier burst!”

A barrier extending one meter on all sides appeared overhead of Suzu, and the Yeti swung downward after, with a Gyari noise that was blocked by the barrier.

And, and that moment…

Dogoon!!

The barrier exploded magnificently with an effective roar. Without Suzu’s influence, the barrier maintained its directionality, the orange magic rippling as the scattered remains of the barrier split overhead.

The Yeti’s body is torn by the remains of the barrier as it breaks on impact. It’s somehow blown away nearly ten meters while shedding blood. Though it gave a bloodshot look burning with anger as it turns to Suzu, it waits more cautiously. No… more likely it is having trouble moving after the impact.

Anyway, because the left iron-ribbed fan was given an “impact conversion” aspect to its barrier formation, the Yeti was repelled. So to speak… it was an invocation known as barrier burst.

On the other side, the Yeti that was still caught in the heavy barrier had not received any damage, but was forced to the ground thanks to the heavy gravity magic, the doubled effect sealing off his movements.

Suzu was firmly suppressing two Yetis, gripping her iron fans with vigilance against the other advancing Yeti.

Shizuku took a roundabout path using high-speed movement from behind the Yeti. She accelerated the drawn sword, slipping it from the scabbard using the skill, drawn out. You couldn’t even see the blade, only the black tracks flecking through the air.

“Giiii.” {Tn: Isn’t this the same noise the cockroaches make? Why does a Yeti sound like a cockroach?}

The speed was such that he was still left with a rough cut at his back, although the Yeti evaded, narrowly avoiding a mortal wound.

Innumerable icicles suddenly exploded from the ground surrounding Shizuku. Apparently the Yeti had a peculiar ice manipulation magic.

Though Shizuku evaded the icicles by jumping away, they dashed out from the ground and pursued her like missiles.

On the other hand, Shizuku chanted while crossing her black sword with its sheath.

“Meet Pulling Heaven!”

When the icicle splinters flew at Shizuku, they changed orbit to meet the blade and sheath of the black sword, as if they were attracted to a magnet, unable to reach Shizuku’s body.

“Fly Heavenly separation!”

All of the icicles that came in succession to Shizuku unite in the air as they returned.

Pulling Heaven and Heavenly Separation used the practice of gravity magic to pull things apart.

The shot ended up returning to the Yeti who had casted it, but even with its movement dulled from the wound on its back, it managed to evade it, sliding its feet over the ice.

“… Somehow… that looks professional.”

Shizuku mutters while she lands. As she stated, the Yeti was creating a road of ice as he slid, moving as he swung his arms forward in a bent posture resembling that of a speed skater. His velocity increased drastically.

The Yeti confronting Kouki were also sliding around the bottom of the ravine, using beautiful forms like that of skaters while creating ice as they went, probably making up for the dulled movements.

Three of the Yeti back away and little and form a row, even their arm moves synchronize completely as they approach with a sound that gives a forceful feeling.

“If they come from the front, it’s only convenient.”

Kouki comes up beside Shizuku. The light from his holy sword focusses and he gives a posture with a haughty attitude.

And,

“Take this, Soaring Heights!”

The deadly attack draws a shining curve, the release lead to an impact that scattered across the surroundings.

The deadly attack did not boast the full power. Even if the original power of the holy sword was enough to destroy the Yeti. The power doesn’t change even if Kouki shouts the technique. At that moment, the Yeti seemed to evade the attack in an unbelievable method.

“A triple axel?” Kouki leaks out a voice of disbelief.

Exactly as stated, the Yeti performed a triple axel in response to the deadly attack, avoiding a direct impact. The three Yeti united as a row only changed at that moment, jumping in a quite artistic and effective way.

The three yeti jump over Kouki’s strike while rotating… the attack missing by a fingernail, as their feet all landed in sync.

“!?”

“Uo!”

Shizuku and Kouki backed up some distance while preventing the flowing kick that followed.

“UraaaAA!!”

Ryuutaro approached from behind and struck out with his fist from the side, eliciting a shockwave. However, the Yeti bent backwards, sliding on the newly created ice. The appearance of sliding both feet resembled a move from the famous ice skater, Ina Bauer.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Calm down, Kouki!”

Kouki, who was determined to capture the Great Labyrinth this time, was gritting his teeth as he fought against the first enemy.

The Yeti approached from three sides while making unpredictable moves that Kouki just could gage, continuing their assault. What is the best maneuver they had, the eight-rotation triple? Moreover, their hands expanded greatly, a huge excavator seemed to approach from every side.

“Ha… flashing bloom!”

Letting out a sigh towards the Yeti’s triumphant looks as they rotated around them, her excellent kinetic vision say and expression that seemed unpleasant. She drew her sword while muttering an incantation at the same time she jumped overhead using aerodynamic and urging Kouki to follow.

The three Yeti land in the place where Shizuku was a second prior. Cutting down with their claws, they landed magnificently, but those that landed were just two of them.

“Gigii?”

The third was cut in two by the flashing bloom, an ability that cut space itself.

“Look Kouki, Ryuutaro, ignore their strange movement and just finish them off quickly, I’m going to Suzu.”

“Ah… damn, such an enemy suddenly…”

Kouki dashed out in a poor mood while throwing out abusive language in response to Shizuku’s words. Meanwhile, Ryuutaro became accustomed to the movements of the Yeti, and he too began to corner one.

Shizuku approaches Suzu, who is holding steady against a Yeti covered in wounds thanks to her manipulating barriers. The neck of a Yeti caught with Heavy barrier was cut momentarily.

Seeing that, Suzu releases the remainder of the Yeti from her barrier, and went looking for Kouki and Ryuutaro as they finished off the last two Yeti.

They wore refreshed expressions after having finally defeated the Yeti with a complete victory. Then they were greeted by Hajime wearing a strange smile.

“You know, guys, it might be interesting to take them to earth, we’d be famous for discovering the first ice skating Yeti!”

“You’re annoying, you joking demon… can’t we just leave them here?”

Kouki snaps. The first match finally came to an end by playing in earnest.

While Ryuutaro lets out a laugh and Kouki sighs, Hajime let’s out a shrug and turns away, stepping towards the cave. Shizuku told Kaori that “It was cool.” She gave a shameful gaze. Suzu send s Yue a look of expectation while being patted on the head with an “it was not bad” praise from an elder sister absent-mindedly. It seemed like the tiny girl who was like a dirty old man was secretly aiming at Yue.

“Well, then, let’s commence with the last Great Labyrinth.” Hajime’s words echoed across the gorge of ice and snow.

It was a line intended to focus everyone’s mind and forget about the ice-skating Yetis as they stepped into the last of the seven great labyrinths, the Ice and Snow Cave of Shunee Snowfield.

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Requiem to the Stars – Chapter 6

Before anyone gets up in arms, I do plan to update Arifureta this weekend, so be at ease.

____________________

Requiem thanked Ginger one more time before heading off to his room. His mind was practically swirling. Exactly what kind of body did he end up with? It seemed that this body’s creators were working on something a little bit more than increased strength.

“Clippy, do you know anything about this?”

“…”

“Clippy?”

“Hmph! You want to talk to CLIPI now after spending all that time flirting with that girl?”

“Flirting?” Requiem had an eyebrow raised as he unlocked and entered his room.

The cheaper than normal cost for the room seemed to coincide with the room’s lack of size and décor. Half of the room was taken up by a small single-sized bed. Requiem sat on the bed anyway. It’d be sufficient for his needs; it’s not like he needed to sleep anyway. Clippy didn’t say anything in response, so he decided to ignore her for now.

Requiem sat at the end of the bed and then looked down at his arms. He needed to understand this phenomenon. Every attempt he used to self-diagnose his body didn’t contain information much different from any standard android body. In fact, he had initially assumed it was indistinguishable from any other android.

He reached behind his head and once again pulled the disk out, placing it on the bed next to him and closing the compartment. He had already copied Clippy into a partition of his mind, so the disk was a backup, at best.

Ignoring the disk for now, he opened up a drawer and found a letter opener. Shutting off the sensors in his arm, he held up the sharpened end and dragged it across his arm, cutting through the skin layer. A moment later, there was a spurt of blood coming from the wound. He allowed the sensors to return, and his arm immediately felt the sharp pain of a recent cut. He turned the sensor down again and sighed. At this time, he also felt some discomfort in his stomach, so he turned that off as well.

“M-master is hurting himself! Master, you’re bleeding!”

Requiem remained silent, leaving the room while making a shotty attempt at holding his arm. Having never dealt with blood before, he wasn’t particularly good at it. As a result, blood was already all over his hand and running down his arm. When he approached Ginger in the common room, she let out a little yell.

“It seems I injured myself.” Requiem responded sheepishly.

“Oh, no!” Ginger seemed genuinely afraid, racing to get a first aid kit.

Requiem waited patiently for her to return. By the time she was back, the blood was already dripping on the floor.

“Gah! It looks even worse. Don’t just stand there, come over here!”

Ginger dragged Requiem into a nearby bathroom and was washing the wound under running water a moment later. He held out his arm at a loss of what to do. Fortunately, Ginger’s previous nervousness went away as she took charge over him.

After demanding to know what happened, Requiem lied and said he just fell on a sharp edge of the bedspring. Ginger turned white and it took Requiem a minute or so to convince her he didn’t intend on suing her. After she relaxed, she pulled his arm out from under the sink.

As Ginger quickly cleaned his wound, dried it, and placed the gauze before bandaging it, she did it with a surprising amount of skill and care. Requiem stated as much, causing Ginger to show a flash of red and return of her previously nervous state.

“I-I wanted to be a nurse, for a time. However, after granny went senile it just never seemed like a good time.”

She finally finished with the bandage, taping it and resting her hand on top of Requiems. Her finger tips were surprisingly warm.

“That feel’s nice.” Requiem stated, intending to complement her work.

This caused Ginger to jump, pulling back her hand like his skin had suddenly become hot to touch.

“Um, ah… sorry! I-i-is there anything else you’d like?” After hearing the words coming out of her own mouth, Ginger became even more flustered. “No, wait, not like…”

“Actually, there is something I want.” Requiem spoke up, grabbing Ginger’s hand in his excitement.

“You…want…that…I…did say…,” her voice dropped down to mumbling words that Requiem couldn’t understand as her face grew three shades of red darker.

Requiem decided to ignore the strange behavior. It was starting to become a habit. “Do you have a tool box? I could use some tools for a project.”

“Tools?” Ginger’s voice was blank, then lit up, “Yes! Grandpa had tools. I’ll go get the tools!”

Ginger ripped her hand out of his and raced out of the room. Requiem watched as she fled the room, her hands seemed to be over her face. How could she see like that? Requiem shook his head over the oddity that were human beings. He thought he’d ask Clippy about it, but from the moment he started interacting with Ginger she had gone silent, so Requiem had the feeling she was continuing to give him the silent treatment.

Ginger came back and Requiem politely thanked her as she handed him an old metal tool box which jingled from the stuff inside. He had a feeling this was all the tools she had, so he’d have to make due with whatever he found in there. He tried to meet her eyes again, but she kept turning her head, unwilling to look at him. It must be some kind of cultural thing. In his experience, humans liked it when you looked them in the eye. He even blinked occasionally and everything. He gave a shrug and headed back to his room.

“Wa-wait! I n-never got your name…”

He gave her a smile back, “You can call me Requiem.”

He opened the door and walked in, leaving her with a dumfounded expression on her face. When turned his head, he had to pause for a moment. There was a girl sitting on his bed. She had long braided hair bowed up into a pony tail, almost perfect white skin, and she was in her teens. She wore the strange half-robe clothing that he was starting to become familiar with. Of course, Requiem recognized her immediately.

“Clippy…”

“I-i-i-I’m sorry master.” Clippy immediately stood up and went to her knees, giving a dogeza. “CLIPPI hijacked your visual sensors and created a visual representation of myself within your 3D world.”

“…”

When Requiem remained silent, she became even more flustered, standing up and waving her hands in a panic. “I-it’s just that master sees all these pretty girls all the time, and CLIPI wants master to always be looking at her!”

As soon as the words left her mouth, her face turned as red as Ginger’s had. She suddenly shut her eyes, closed her mouth, and went silent. Her entire body seemed to be frozen.

For Requiem, it wasn’t that particularly big of a deal. He was a bit surprised that the little program he had given sentience only this morning was already asserting herself. Her computer integration program really was top notch if she already figured out how to project her image into his vision. Deciding to reward her progress, he went in and tinkered with the code a little bit.

He took a few steps forward and put out his hand and dropped it down on her head. Instead of going right through her body, as it would have a few moments before, his hand stopped, and he felt hair under his palm. Clippy jolted in surprise, but after Requiem patted her head a few times, her body relaxed, and a little smile formed on her lips.

A moment later, Clippy opened her eyes. Her entire body seemed to be shaking, although Requiem couldn’t tell if it was from surprise or shock.

“Master… I can feel master.”

Requiem removed his hand from her head and sighed. Clippy immediately missed the presence of her master’s hand, and secretly vowed she’d do whatever she could to be patted again in the future.

“It’s just a mild modification based on your concept. You won’t be able to interact with your environment until we get you a body, but you should be able to interact with me.”

Basically, Clippy had used Requiem’s vision to create an image of herself. Her image only appeared in his eyes, so only he’d see her. He only took it to the next step. Where she chose to fill her appearance in his visual world, he created a series of feedback mechanisms so that his body would stop and generate the feeling of touch. At any time, he could break through or deactivate the feedback, and naturally it wouldn’t be able to stop an unintentional movement. For example, if he tripped and fell on her, since that’s uncontrolled movement, he’d fall right through her. He also gave her an artificial “skin” using an emulation of his own skin network, so that’d she’d feel the touch too. It was the best he could do without giving her a body.

After Clippy calmed down a bit, Requiem moved over to the television panel and sat down at the small desk. Opening the tool kit, he immediately began pulling out tools and working on opening up the panel. Clippy didn’t ask him what he was doing and he didn’t explain himself to her. After working for some time, his eyes started to feel discomfort, so he adjusted them and reduced the feedback. He had pulled out several parts of the panel, and was currently reassembling some of the parts.

It was his intention to build a scanner to be able to look at his own body. Unfortunately, the tools he had on hand were severely lacking. It was long into the night now, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to buy the parts. His eyes began to throb again, this time, worse than before. He thought he had already turned off the pain. How did he do that again? That’s weird. His processing speed seemed to be slowing for some reason. His eyes were feeling really heavy.

“Clippy, I…” Requiem yawned. “I need you to check my body. My software seems to be malfunctioning. My processing power seems to be reduced, my visional cortex is weakening. I’m not sure what’s going on.”

Requiem was concerned about this, maybe even a little scared, but when he looked up at Clippy, she seemed to wear a comforting smile on her face.

“Okay, Master. Let me just get you in bed first.”

Clippy helped Requiem stand up from his seat and take a few steps to the bed. Although she wasn’t really there, the feedback was, and for Requiem’s malfunctioning brain, it was enough to help him stubble down into the bed. As he fell, he ended up taking Clippy with him. She gave a little yelp, but soon the both of them were on the bed, and she was lying next to him. His eyes were getting more and more difficult to keep open.

“You know, Clippy, you gave me that name. You don’t have to call me Master any longer.”

Clippy’s face was red, but she also wore a mysterious smile. “I know, Master. But after using it, I prefer Master be called Master. Is this fine?”

Clippy looked pretty when she smiled. Wasn’t that an odd thought? At least, Requiem thought so.

“It’s fine…Clippy… I need you to…” He mumbled, his eyes starting to close as the circuits in his brain started to deactivate one after another.

“CLIPI knows. Master gave CLIPI life. CLIPI will stay by master’s side. CLi—em… I… will never leave Master…” Clippy whispered in his ear, and after a moment, lowered her voice even more. “After all, I love master.”

Requiem didn’t hear that last part, having already slipped off to sleep.

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Requiem to the Stars – Chapter 5

“Requiem? A song for the dead?” The AI considered it for a moment, “Suiting. Yeah, I think I can get used to that.”

“Eh? That’s what it means?  I just saw the word over there and thought it looked pretty.”

The newly named Requiem focused his eyes on the sign in front of him. As she said, the sign had the name Requiem written in an exaggerated and swerved font. Smaller letters under it wrote tavern and inn. Requiem frowned.

“You’ve named me after an inn.” He stated flatly.

“M-master…” Clippy sounded almost in tears.

“It’s fine now, forget about it. Call me Requiem. Let’s head in and see if we can’t find out some information.”

“Alright Ma-…mm… Requiem.” Her voice sounded a little giggly, so Requiem decided to ignore her.

Requiem entered the small inn that was his namesake, glancing around. It was a small, wood built in with a dozen table and chairs, a bar, and very little to no technology. He supposed quaint would be the word someone might apply to this place.

As soon as the door closed, a bell jingled and a young girl a few years older than the unnamed slave came running out from the back. She had curly brown hair, dark eyes, a mousey face, and seemed to wear a black robe similar to the one Clippy was wearing when Requiem had seen her on the monitor.

“HelloI’mGinger.WelcometoRequiem.HowmayIhelpyou!” She said in a rapid and chipper voice.

The words were so blurred together that it even took a second for Requiem’s processors to sort out what she said. The girl seemed to have awareness of how fast she spoke, for as soon as she closed her mouth, her cheeks exploded with red color.

Deciding to keep things moving, Requiem moved the rest of the way into the room and gave the best smile he knew how to emulate. Strangely, this seemed to only cause the girl to blush more.

“Hello, I’m looking for a room, and perhaps some directions.”

“Oh… uh, yes! Of course! We have room.” She spoke slower this time, but still seemed nervous.

“Do you usually work here?” Requiem inquired.

The girl, Ginger, didn’t meet his eyes, instead looking down a bit. “I-my mom’s been ill, so this is my first day.”

Of course, Requiem didn’t really care, but he figured that small chat would put her at ease. Regrettably, her face seemed like a never ending blush. Since she was trying to avoid his eyes, perhaps it was eye contact that was unnerving her. He focused his eyes away from her and heard a light sigh come from her lips.

Requiem took note that he’d need to develop a program to blink and unconsciously fidget when engaging with humans. He regretted not having a human to be able to test the program on. That would be a reason to have a human slave. Which reminded him…

“Do you know where I can acquire credits by tomorrow?”

The girl looked up startled, “Eh? You don’t have any money?”

Reaching into his pocket, Requiem decided to take the chance. He pulled out the card he had found in the dead man’s pocket back at the lab.

“I found this on the street.”

Ginger took a glance at the card and then reached over and grabbed it. She clicked a button located in the middle of it. A moment later, a light emerged from the side of the card which displayed a number, 852 credits. Ginger gasped.

“You found 852 credits just lying on the street!” she sounded amazed.

Requiem shrugged. “How much is it to stay here?”

“Here? Oh… its 80 credits a night with breakfast. You won’t find a cheaper inn this close to town square! The better… I mean the other hotels are all 200 credits a night or more.”

Requiem nodded. With that card, he’d be able to stay here for ten nights. He didn’t need breakfasts, but he did need a location to work from, at least for now. It’d also be enough to pay for the tournament registered. It looked like he had lucked out this time. He was afraid that a name might be attached to the card. The last thing he needed was his name being linked to the dead man back at the laboratory.

“Still it’s strange…”

“Hmm?”

“For someone to have a card with that much money on it and not use any biometric protection.”

“…”

Suddenly Ginger waved her hands excitedly. “N-Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with it! I’m not accusing you of stealing! I won’t re-report it or anything!”

“Can I put a biometric lock on the card then?” Requiem frowned.

“O-oh, right, here, be my guest!” She handed the card back.

Requiem looked down at the card for a second and then back up at her. “I’m sorry, it seems I forgot how.”

“Eeeeh? Really? Here, just push your finger there, then listen for the beep. There you go. Just remember to click it before handing it to anyone. That’ll unlock it for one minute to accept purchases.”

“Do we have a customer, who’s making all that noise?” an old woman waddled out of the back room.

Ginger’s face, which was only starting to calm down, suddenly blushed again and she gave the old woman a tight look. “Yes, Grandma. We have a customer. I’m taking care of it.”

The old lady glanced at the direction of Requiem, then waddled over to him, her eyes squinting as she glanced up at his face.

“You’re not one of those god damned androids, are you?”

“Grandma!” Ginger’s voice sounded shocked, agitated, and just a little bit complacent as she admonished her grandma. It seemed like this wasn’t the first time her Grandma had an outburst like this.

“They kept making those damned machines look more and more human, and now they’re gonna make them look like us!” She snapped at no one in particular. “I won’t have any androids in my inn!”

“Grandma, please. He’s obviously a human. Stop scaring the customer.”

“They look just like us! It’s creepy. We should have never built those creatures.” Even as the old woman spoke she was already waddling away, heading back the way she came and ranting to no one in particular. “It’s only a matter of time until they start replacing our nobles, regents, and chambermen and start stealing our livelihood. Oh, I wish things were like the good ol’ days…”

The grandmother’s rant could still be heard in the backroom, but the words were becoming muffled as she put distance from the tavern lobby. Ginger was in a frozen state of perpetual mortification. After a few moments, she finally spoke.

“I-I’m sorry…” She lowered her head. “She’s been like that for a few years now. If mom wasn’t sick…”

“It’s fine.” Requiem pressed the button on the card and handed it back to her. “A room?”

“Ye-yes!” she brightened up a bit.

After pulling a tablet from back of the bar out, she ran the card. He clicked on the card to see the difference in the amount was one night. She explained that they could stay as long as they wanted, but he’d have one day of rent subtracted each morning until he checked out from her counter.

Requiem pocketed the card and nodded, receiving the key, which was also another card, this time colored in light blue with the name Requiem on it. Before leaving, he gave the girl one more look.

“Could I ask a strange question?”

Ginger didn’t quite meet his eyes, her face still blushing, “Wh-what is it?”

“How are you so certain I’m not an android?”

The blush on Ginger’s face faded and she blinked in surprise. “Well… I mean, it’s obvious from your eyes.”

“My eyes?”

“Yes, you didn’t know? All androids have a bright colored corona around the pupils of their eyes.”

“…That’d be pretty easy to cover up with contacts.”

She tilted her head as if to ask, “who’d hide an android like that”. Instead, she laughed.

“Even if someone modified an android, you’re still obviously human.”

“How so?”

She gave a smile like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “The biometric chip, dummy, androids don’t have DNA. Only a human can lock a credit card.”

“…”

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Requiem to the Stars – Chapter 4

Miai knew that her appearance was a head turner. The dangerously massive objects on her chest sucked in the gaze of every man she passed. However, rather than collapsing under their own weight like blackholes, they instead exploded out from her bosom like burning stars, bringing tears to every man who looked. She didn’t mind when the men looked at her chest. However, when their eyes moved up to her face and found the orange halo color around her pupils… that bothered her the most.

It was always the same. Their eyes would slowly move up from her twin peaks to the nap of her neck before finally taking a look at her face. As soon as her eye color registered they’d jolt in surprise. If it was a noble man or commoner, they’d start to give a knowing or envious grin. If it was someone dubious, their eyes would turn dark and malicious.

Humans were so predictable. To the noble man, he was wondering who owned the sexy and attractive android. It’d never occur to him that she was anything but the sex slave of a particularly wealthy noble. At least, he wouldn’t bother her, fearing retaliation from whatever noble was powerful enough to afford her, while also willing to risk letting her wonder outside. To the less scrupulous members of society, their only thought was how they could snatch her away.

It was certainly dangerous for her to be outside alone. If she was found in a deserted alley, or an empty room, even the nobles might decide to push her down and indulge themselves on her body. Of course, androids were afforded some basic rights, and could fight back, especially if they were owned by another, but how successful could they truly be when even a young child had the power to pin them to the ground?

A young man walked by her. He might have been good looking if she had noticed those kinds of things. His eyes surprisingly bypassed her bosom and went straight for her face. As soon as he saw the orange, they lingered there for a bit, and then he turned away. There was no surprise, shock, or condescension. It was as if he didn’t see her as an android at all! It was an odd enough event that she considered turning and giving the boy another look, but a moment later someone collided with him and then there was a shout.

Miai berated herself for deviating over her mission, and instead continued to walk on. Finally, she made it to the tall building sitting along the side street. It was the same building that that young boy had come from earlier, although Miai did not know this. She entered the building cautiously and it wouldn’t be for three hours before she left the building and entered a small back ally. Her face didn’t hold any reaction to the death and destruction she had most certainly seen.

Instead, she casually dialed a number on her redial and waited for a moment. The redial clicked to show she was connected to someone, but they didn’t make any noise on the other side.

“I’ve made contact with Epsilon. Regrettably, the location has been cleaned out.”

After some more silence, a gruff voice spoke up. “The package?”

“Gone…”

There was a sound of something slamming and glass breaking. Miai pulled the redial back a moment as the sound of shouting and explicatives filled the line. A moment later, the silence returned, and the voice spoke up without a hint of the tantrum a moment before.

“Have you cleaned?”

“I’ve taken care of it.”

“Stay in the city for now.”

“I’ll keep looking.”

She hung up the phone, her face wooden. In truth, she was just as angry. They had been working towards this goal for a long time, and now they had nothing. They were depending on her, but she didn’t have a single idea where to look to find the Mark IV. With the records gone, she didn’t even know what the Mark IV looked like.

“Ehehe…look what we have here.” A voice came up from behind, echoing through the alley with a chill.

Miai turned to find three grinning men approaching her. They were looking her up and down with greed and desire in their eyes. By their dress, they were clearly part of the less reputable underbelly of this colony.

“Well, look what we have here. A little android has lost her way.” One of the men smirked.

“Don’t worry, little android, we’ll keep you company.” Another added.

The men continued to move forward, surrounding her while making lewd motions and laughing.

After a moment, Miai let out an annoyed sigh. “I’ll give you one chance. Leave now, and you live.”

The men burst out laughing, clearly thinking this was a joke. “If you really think your master will protect you, even in this dark ally, you’ll be sorely mistaken. Now be a good girl and strip for us. I don’t mind if you cry a little.”

The man closed the distance, reaching his hand to grab her shoulder. She grabbed his wrist as he gave a malicious grin towards what he considered a pathetic excuse at stopping him from touching her. Then that grin fell to a frown. Then that frown turned into a grimace.

“Ah, you bitch! Let go!” He began to pull on his arm, but even with his whole weight he couldn’t move her hand an inch.

A second later there was a resounding crack, followed by a scream. The man threw his other fist to strike Miai in the face. However, his fist met air, her form already moving. A single strike with her arm punched through his chest. Blood and gore fell out the other side as her hand ripped through him. She pulled her arm back out and he collapsed to the ground without another sound, already dead.

The other two men’s faces twisted in fear. “A… A modded android!”

They turned and ran.

Miai gave another sigh, cracking her neck in the process. “Aw… you saw.”

Regrettably for them, she couldn’t let them leave. They died without being able to make a single scream. After cleaning herself up and disposing of the bodies, she left the back alley and continued on with her mission, not giving the three lives she had taken another thought. She had more important things to worry about.

Mark IV… just where have you gone?

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Arifureta Chapter 135

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As always, this is a not a direct translation, but a rewrite on my interpretation of the MTLs.

All credit goes to the original author (Chuuni Suki), who has posted the raw data here:

http://ncode.syosetu.com/n8611bv/136/

Thanks for your continued support. If you like my writing style, check out my original works at www. wattpad.com/user/elementalcobalt, or just leave a comment.

Well the vote for full chapters seems pretty unanimous, so here’s the next full chapter.

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After the clear affection that Hajime showed Shia, Kaori approached him with a strange sway in her step.

“….Hajime….What was that a little while ago? I wonder?

An impossible shadow floated across her face, with no discernable light source as the cause. Just her eyes darkened. Combined with her chilly look, it had a terrible effect.

“Though it hurts to think about… Did Shia really become someone “special” too? When? Why? What caused this?”

To Kaori’s interrogation, Hajime gave a wry smile while scratching his cheek.

“Well, what to say… Although I can’t say it’s within the same line as Yue… somehow or other, I have started to desire an exclusive possession for Shia. There was Yue’s advice too, and so I decided to treat Shia in suitable manner. There was nothing in particular that changed.”

“So, it’s… romantic feelings for Shia?”

“I’m not sure… It feels different. But I think you can call it love?”

Actually, Hajime could not help by incline his neck as if asking whether these feelings for Shia were in fact romantic.

To Yue, his heart throbbed, and he felt passion that flew in the face of reason, which wasn’t the same with Shia. Besides the burning feelings for Yue, he felt a quieter, softer one when it came to Shia. Once putting it into words, he realized it might really be love.

He’d always have feelings that burned like the sun for the always quiet Yue, however, the sweet and innocent Shia was like the moon. It was a very mysterious thought. They were contrasting feelings, but it was clearly more than simple affection. However, since the feelings were subtle, Hajime was at a loss on how to explain.

The entire dining room quieted as Hajime’s feelings were expressed. Shizuku wore a complicated expression, while Yue and Tio wore slightly gentle-looks while they continued to eat sweet cake, and as for Kaori, who had started this cross-examination…

“… Yes, I understand.”

She wore a content face, a happy smile forming for some reason.

Even if Yue’s position didn’t change, this was proof that there was still room in Hajime’s heart. That smile was for an important friend who managed to accomplish this. Though finding out had disturbed her and still pressed in unconsciously, she understood that the distance between Hajime could be crossed and smiled as a result.

Of course, she felt envy. There were smoldering feelings, even at this very moment. However, she had fully realized the situation based on the journey so far. If there was time to do such a thing, it was good sense to show yourself in a favorable light.

As Kaori moves through her vivid feelings, she figured half of Hajime’s feelings were a result of Shia’s natural virtues. Kaori really liked Shia’s strength and diligence. She could be happy for a friend.

Somehow, those feelings were picked up, causing Hajime to show an embarrassed look before he reached out and rubbed her cheeks muni-style.

munid

“Fe? Ha… Hajime?”

“It’s not really a big deal.”

“Eh? What is it?”

Kaori, who became glad for some reason, asked with a smile, not understanding.

However, Hajime didn’t answer. While having an expression as if he was giving up silently, he went full muni of Kaori’s cheeks. (Translation edit: Doesn’t he know you never go full Muni!) Then she turns her eyes to Yue.

Yue had seen the rising affection for Shia in Hajime’s eyes, and she wore a small smile while giving her nod of approval.

Tearing off a piece of bread, she gave Hajime a mysterious smile before dipping it into her soup and then tossing it had Kaori like a brick.

Becha! The bread stuck to Kaori’s temple with a sodden sound, clinging to her temple. It quickly transmitted the implication, “It has been decided and you have no involvement.” Kaori wore a cramped cheek, pulling off the bread while wearing a dark smile before performing leaping attack at Yue.

“Yu-e!”

“… Stop. Wasted Effort. Just tuck your tail and go home.”

Yue avoided Kaori’s strike by escaping through the window Shia had jumped through. Looking back over her shoulder, she gave a grin. It held the feeling like “Try catching something outside of your reach.”

That “uuuu!” Raising a vexed voice, Kaori chases after. Her silver wings unfolded and she took to the sky. Is their relationship good or bad…? At least Yue seemed to like the interaction with Kaori.

The people left behind stared on in an absent-minded state.

“Hmmm, finally, master has surrendered to Shia, too. In that case, the time in which he falls for mistress and Kaori’s charm grows ever closer.”

Tio drawed up her unnatural chest, the brutal double hills protruding with a Bachikon! The sound seemed to have an effect on the room. Amorousness overflowed from her body, in particular, the remaining men suddenly become more slouchy.

However, that sex appeal was let loose on Hajime specifically.

“Putting aside Kaori, you have no chance.”

“Haa… haaa… so intense… from master… breaking my hopes… piercing adequately, mistresses’ weakness… haa… haaa!!”

Her body started shaking from Hajime’s word, her thighs fidgeting as she hugged herself. The sensual atmosphere this gave was incomparable to the sex appeal from moments before.

However, the slouching appearance of the men from earlier withered quickly. This was because of the unpleasant look on Tio’s face. This killed the mood. (Translation Note: Yes, I find freaky hot girls in the throes of ecstasy to be a real turn off… oh to be in light novel-land!)

Shizuku caught Hajime’s strange remark, which seemed to casually suggest that Kaori was in the same category as Shia.

(Then as for me… Hey, what do I have to do with any of this! Kaori seems to be taken good care of. That is enough and, yes, there is nothing else to conclude!)

Standing in a corner of the room, Shizuku’s face scrunches up in one comical face after another. Everyone else is focused on Tio. A few gave Hajime brooding or evil expressions. Hajime gave another sigh. Meanwhile, the chases continued on outside.

For noon time in Fair Bergen, it was very noisy compared to the usual tranquility.

__________________________________________

“Uu, I encountered such cruel eyes…”

It sounded from a forest corner of Fair Bergen, the complaint shining with the orange of the evening sun.

In a plaza set off a little way in the town, many tables had been set. There was a fountain using spring water in the center. Usually a place for people to rest, none of the residents were out right now, concerned with other matters. Only Hajime and Shia remained there. All the other members were gone, making preparations for travel.

Hajime sat down at one of the tables in the deserted open space, giving Shia a nod in acceptance of her hard work and training. The cause, of course, was the attack from Arutena. Shia had been chased to exhaustion by someone who used animal-like perception rather than physical strength, likely only stopped by her grandfather’s intervention.

As Hajime watched her drooping rabbit ears, he couldn’t help but burst into laughter. Those ears started to twitch violently.

“Please don’t enjoy it. It was seriously scary!”

“Don’t say that. It’s great to find a friend your age. Isn’t it good you got to play fully?”

“I can’t lie to you, but can you really call that playing, or that kind of relationship friends? I think I understand what Hajime is going through with Tio now, huh? How should I say… being liked doesn’t feel bad, but it’s exhausting?”

The fatigue caused Shia to droop once again.

Hajime felt sympathy for Shia, giving her a node. He understood better than anyone how the goodwill he provided toward Tio was not the extent of a mere transformation. Tio’s desire to not be defeated by Shia and Yue was strong. Therefore, Hajime felt tired, a regrettable reality of his true feelings.

Hajime’s expression softly turned into a smile, and he lifted up a hand quietly. He gave Shia a kind pat, soothing her rabbit ears. As Hajime fawned over one of her ears, Shia trembled offering her other ear.

He had both wonderful rabbit ears wrapped up in his hand, his cheeks blooming. The sweet sound of him stroking her ears with his fingers leaked out, the sweetness transmitting into the neighboring air and wrapping Shia and Hajime up in a sweet space.

Hiding her face in her blueish white hair, she speaks in a whispered voice.

“… Hajime… The… thing is, that, it’s daytime… that…”

The voice was fraught with expectation that can’t hide shamefulness. It was obvious what she wanted to say. She just wanted to be clear.

Hajime rose from his seat with a noise and moved next to Shia, where he sat down. Shia noticed the sign and twitched while turning her face down, her body still shaken. She was pursued by Hajime gently, who turned Shia’s shoulders towards him. He held her powerfully just like that.

Shia’s face, held by Hajime, boiled up completely red. Her pupils, full of light, were moistened. The maiden’s eyes were too pretty, looking up at Hajime, overflowing with affection.

“…. Shia, it was you who said “The future isn’t absolute,” certainly it’s like that.”

“Ah….”

“It was the thing Shia had said to Hajime long ago when she wanted to travel with them. A once-in-a-lifetime confession, words of answer that Shia long since believed were impossible. Absolutely, these words of determination turned to Hajime.

“Shia… now, you haven’t confirmed your feelings.”

There was still Yue who was “special”. Is she really even good enough to hear such a thing? Shia was afraid of confirming.

“I love Shia very much… I do not want to lose her to anybody.”

Even though the words were selfish, his desire leaked from them. Shia’s eyes increased in heat, she let out a hot breath like a dragon.

“There is not chance I want to let you go, so please decide. Shia is my woman!”

“…. Yes…. Yes… I am Hajime’s woman!”

While tears fell down her cheeks and her body lips tightened, she wore a smile. It was a blooming, energetic, full smile. No, a smile that was many times more beautiful and lovelier than anything preceding it. Surely, if other men saw Shia today, their hearts would race and their blood pressure would rise just by this look.

In it, Hajime was no exception. The love within him spiked and he hugged Shia tightly, taking her lips against his own.

“Nu…. mmmm…”

At Hajime’s beckon, rejoicing tears fell from Shia. Her body lightened like cotton candy, a sweet sigh leaking from her. Her body burst with heat like the Guryuen Labyrinth as if she’d start melting at any moment.

“…. Ah…. Hajime…”

A silver bridge hung from their parting lips separated with only a breath. The embarrassed Shia lowers her eyes. Her usual cheerfulness is overridden by a terrific loveliness. It was a charm that could hold a man captive in a way that matched even Yue’s mysterious beauty.

Shia’s pink lips opened slightly, her tongue moving with a chirochrio (abundance?). Her pupils give him an upward glance. A look that said… “more”.

Hajime smiled, looking at the lovely pleading Shia. His lips met hers again as his hand touched her cheek.

At that point, an impatient voice suddenly spoke up.

“Fuhya, to start doing that that… those two… and outside!”

“Shh! Suzu, you’re being too loud!”

“Shizuku-chan is being too kind when it comes to Hajime.”

“…. Everyone is being too noisy, you’ll embarrass Shia.”

To those familiar voices, Shia separated her lips with a gasped and turned her gaze to those who were talking.

Shia, becoming aware of the group, lost the mood. “Wait, oh, that!” as a people fell from the corner of the flower bed where the plaza was enclosed.

Falling on top of each other, Kouki, Ryuutaro, Suzu, Shizuku, and Kaori were there. Yue let out a sigh, appearing from behind. Tio appeared as well, floating an interesting smile. Apparently, they had all been hiding to watch the love affair between Shia from cover.

While getting up in a hurry, the group blushed. Suzu and Shizuku didn’t seem to be able to look directly at Shia and Hajime.

“To see, see… and everyone, how long have you been there….”

Shia was shaking, her face turning deep red like an explosion. The one who answer the question directed at Suzu turned out to be Hajime.

“It was since I was playing with Shia’s ears.”

“That’s not the beginning, everyone saw… yet you still say it like that…”

Shia hit Hajime repeatedly out of a sense of shame. Tears form in her eyes, but they had different meaning from a moment ago.

“Why do you want to hide it? It was good timing, and I didn’t want to miss the chance.”

“I did not want to miss it either… but even so…”

Shia’s spirit was dampened by Hajime’s blankly nice manner, further causing her to feel embarrassed, yet also happy.

As usual, Tio speaks up while floating a smile at such a Shia.

“Please, how was it? How was the taste of passion from master? Nn? Tell this mistress a little, how is Shia’s happy embarrassment?”

“Speak for yourself, pervert.”

Tio had put her arm around Shia and then suddenly she collapsed from a strike to the back of the head. Her finger twitched, moving into a point, and it was drawn to… “So it was Yue”. Yue had chucked a lump of ice mercilessly at her head unexpectedly.

“Yue…”

“…. Shia.”

Shia had glanced back at Yue, who was giving Tio a cold look as Tio pointed at her. After Yue dismissed Tio, she gave Shia a patient look. And then she smiled lightly, both of her hands opening.

“… Come.”

“…. Yue, now.”

Shia jumped into Yue’s chest. She clinged to Yue, with the size of a child but the stability of a woman. Yue patted her head with a look of kind affection while she hugged Shia in turn.

“… Yue, I… finally!”

“Nn… you worked hard. Good child.

“I love Yue, much the same!”

Shia echoed and then wept for joy.  Shia was understood. However much Hajime thought someone to be important, it was ultimately up to Yue, whom was “just as himself”. Without worrying about Hajime, anyone else would be an “other” to Yue.

Yue treated Shia like a younger sister. She, the older sister, had watched her younger sister working hard. Moreover, the feelings of Hajime, which were stubborn, were finally accepted. It was a joyous event that Yue accepted sincerely, the value of Shia, and her right to her feelings…

“Is Yue not bothered?”

Unintentionally, Hajime muttered with a sullen face as Shia happily pressed her face against Yue’s breast. The younger sister who depends too much is reluctant. Like a good older sister does not baby, both people wore an expression of contentment that looked heartwarming overall.

“Tio, next will be our turns, let’s work hard.”

“Of course, I dream of the day that I am attacked by husband and worked hard.”

“… you can’t act like… Tio.”

Tio was in the state of collapsing while Kaori was talking while poking her. Tio revived with her eyes shining with hope. In the surroundings, Koaki, and Ryuutaro were looking at each other awkwardly, while Suzu looked at Shia and Hajime with an unreadable expression.

Do they need to encourage each other? Hajime opened a mouth with a troubled smile after hearing Kaori’s words.

“Please don’t tempt me so much…”

“!!” X2

Kaori and Tio look at Hajime with surprise, their eyes shining like stars. There was no other meaning to that… their dropped confidence recovering quickly.

Hajime had no intention to accept a partner who Yue didn’t like at all, but he couldn’t think Yue would value people that she constantly fought with. Of course, now that Shia has been accepted, there already is someone “besides Yue”, and the declining complaint of their being only one isn’t in common use.

The main points is that Hajime has recognized two people as important. To the degree which forgets itself when there are others.

Though Shia doesn’t have a monopoly on his desire, it was still declared that Hajime accepted Shia and had a place in his heart. This meant things were not helpless for the others.

And at that time, Yue wore a pleased expression, Kaori and Tio’s eyes were sparkly while Suzu watched on nervously. Everyone’s eyes seemed to meet restlessly.

Hajime opened his mouth without knowing what was going through Suzu’s mind, suppressing Kaori and Tio.

“And? What are a couple of peeping toms doing together? You’re a bit early for supper. So what is your business?”

“Well, that… we met Yue accidently, and we…”

Shizuku gives a perplexed expression to Suzu. It seems like Suzu had noticed something unusual regarding Hajime. They seemed to have joined Yue accidently when she was looking for Hajime.

Hajime shot Suzu a dubious look. Suzu stepped forward toward such a Hajime.

“Nagumo-san, You see, take Suzu to the next large labyrinth, please!”

Because he thought Kouki would be the one making that kind of request, he was surprised when it was Suzu that was the first to beg.

“Suzu, that…”

“Kouki, this is about me. Therefore, this is an individual request for Suzu. Please don’t butt in!”

After Suzu returned from the labyrinth, Kouki possessed a gloomy atmosphere in response to her words, but with no strength to retaliate, he stopped. So it was not everyone, but Suzu specifically.

“Even if you don’t accompany, I’ll help bring us back to Japan anyway, and I said I can provide strengthening artifacts so that you can become strong, is that okay?”

“Yes, it is certainly so…, but, as for Nagumo, you won’t lend a hand to Eri?”

“… Is it Nakamura…? Well, it is so. It’s possible I’d shoot her on sight on instinct. She is one of the reasons Kaori was killed.”

Suzu floats an embarrassed smile towards Hajime’s bitter expression.

“It is so, However, I want to meet her and talk. Therefore, I need power. So I want to challenge the large labyrinth again. And no matter how the result becomes, when you come out, you’ll probably end up in the territory of the demons.”

“Suzu, that is…”

Shizuku grabbed Suzu’s shoulders instinctively. No true friend would allow another to go into the demon territory alone.

However, Suzu was overcome with her strength of will, and there wasn’t a single doubt in the look she gave to Shizuku as she held her shoulders.

On the other hand, she was convinced that if she traveled with Hajime, she’d have the chance to persuade Eri. If she accompanied Hajime to the source of the ice and snow labyrinth, they’d end up in the so-called demon king castle, which seems to be where Eri was held up.

Anyway, the ice and snow labyrinth is east of the south continent. The country Garland, the stronghold of the demons, was in the central southern continent.

Suzu knew that it was impossible for Hajime to be concerned about Eri, therefore Suzu understand it and knew Hajime might not wait for Eri to come around before leaving. Therefore, she’d talk to Eri until Hajime found out how they could return, and the best way to get that chance was by accompanying them to the ice and snow labyrinth.

When Suzu turned her eyes back to Hajime from Shizuku, she asked earnestly with a tone that suggested desperation.

“And if, if it’s possible to collect Eri with that, if Eri wants forgiveness… in that case can you return us to Japan together. Please! Please, I beg you!”

“……”

Suzu’s screaming plea echoed, no one could say anything and everyone was silent.

Honestly, for Hajime, he remembered the look on Eri’s face. The spectacle when Kaori fell was recalled at this moment, and only murderous intent sprang with thoughts of Eri.

It was selfish that Suzu did things this way regarding Eri. However, the thought of cooperating felt like a small bone stuck in his throat. The girl named Eri Nakamura was already an enemy to Hajime.

However, even if it’s so, the request of Suzu was done with all of her heart. It was the eyes of the ascribable Kaori as to why Hajime possessed so much urge to kill Eri. Those eyes said something, conveying their own thoughts and meanings.

At that time, the long silent Kouki opened his mouth.

“Nagumo, I must also ask. I am the cause of what happened to Eri. Even though it might be unpleasant, I must speak with Eri. I can’t let Suzu go along to the demon territory. In it…”

Kouki had to strongly bit his lip, his fist grasped giving words with a slightly depressed atmosphere.

“As it is, it is not possible to end. Shizuku was also able to obtain the age of gods magic. I, uh… if we keep following, we’ll surely obtain power. If it is not such a mean place full of mental attacks, even I should be able to capture it. A large labyrinth where it goes this time, is a place even those demons can capture. Then, surely I can!”

“Kouki…”

To the appearance of Kouki, with his clapped trembling fist and dark atmosphere, Shizuku watched him with anxious eyes. Shizuku remembered the look of shock on Kouki when she was able to obtain the age of gods magic and he was not. Therefore, though he took care not to let it show, to a childhood friend he could not conceal his uneasiness.

“Oh certainly, I can’t let Suzu go alone. When it came to Eri, given Nagumo’s character, I have to ask too.”

“Ryuutaro too, Haa, well, it doesn’t fit to let Suzu go alone. Nagumo-san… whether it is possible to ask…”

It didn’t really matter if it was Kouki or Suzu, if a companion was going, Ryuutaro would cheerfully come too. Though her eyebrows were lowered to the character of eight from embarrassed towards such a Ryuutaro, Shizuku smiled like she was welcomed by Kouki now. Next, Shizuku bowed, seeming to apologize to Hajime.

Hajime turned his eyes to Suzu with a desperate look to the decision of Shizuku, nearly brought to tears. Kouki who had some returned feeling, Ryuutaro who was a muscle brain, Kouki and Kaori who worried about Shizuku, who worried about Suzu as a childhood friend, and finally he threw back a loud sigh.

And, Yue, and Shia, and Tio’s eyes, and they had opened their mouths and were nodding as if to say they understood the unpleasantness of having to make this request.

“… If I get even a little of hostility, I’ll shoot to kill…”

“Of course, Nagumo-san, thank you!”

Suzu, who managed to get consent, looked wiped out, her face bright with the expression of thanks. Shizuku also expressed thanks.

Because he’d need to invent concept magic that would prevent a re-summon in addition to the magic that would allow them to return to their world in the first place, Hajime was thinking that it would take a while to return anyway, even after getting the last piece of magic.

Whatever Suzu did would not be an obstacle for his return, so he didn’t think there was any reason to not accept. However, the thought of Eri reforming and returning, Hajime did not think it was possible, and if she did get in his way, he would shoot her to death seriously.

Eventually, Hajime should take Suzu to the last large labyrinth and decided to permit it as it did not give him any problems in particular. With his own magic rising thanks to sublimation magic, it shouldn’t create any problems.

Ignoring Suzu, who had a new sense of purpose, and the sweet feelings that came with it. Hajime smiled to himself. Yue and the other nestled close to such a Hajime.

“… Nn, a magnanimous Hajime is cute.”

“Indeed, this is a Hajime to be proud of.”

“After all, master is tsundere.”

“Getting… hehe, thank you, Hajime.”

From each, warmly treating Hajime, he glanced away. And Yue and the others laughed happily to see it.

This place of gods and demons was interesting, but it seemed like they were reaching the final stretch.

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Just a thought…

For the few people complaining about the release times for Arifureta compared to Requiem to the Stars, please note that I’ve already written Requiem to the Stars. All I’m doing is releasing chapters once a week that are already written. Also note there is a big difference between a 1800-2000 word chapter written in english by me, and a 3000-4000 word behemeth that I have to translate one line at a time. So I must reiterate, my release time for Arifureta is NOT affected by Requiem.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this… I’m trying to release Arifureta one chapter every 2 weeks. That’d make this weekend the release time for my next chapter. I’m about half done with the chapter.

Would you… the readers… like me to release Arifureta in half-chapters so that my release times are faster? The thought being if I only have to translate 1000-2000 words at a time, I’d be a lot more able to do that then take on 4000 word chunks. (Yes, in a perfect world, I would utilize my time wisely and spend two weeks slowly taking an hour a day translating, but let’s face it, this ain’t my job and I release usually the same day I translate, which right now, takes about 4-6 hours per chapter).

I can’t promise you it’ll lead to faster chapters… but it might lead to more frequent updates. Just a thought. Give me your opinion. 2-3 weeks for full chapters, or 1000 word chunks every week or so. You decide.

Requiem to the Stars – Chapter 3

Before setting out, the AI made a point of examining the small laboratory. A little hallway, three rooms, and the door out were the only features. He attempted to check the desk drawers for something that might be currency, but found nothing. After checking the dead couple’s pockets, he was able to locate a single black card with a chip embedded on it. It had no identification on it, but he was wary that it might have a biometric lock attached to it. Either way, he took it. It might have some use down the road.

Regrettably, Clippy wasn’t any help in that department. Other than her sociable programming, the sentience he had bestowed on her, and the handful of security videos she had skimmed from the local hard drive, she had no additional knowledge. Still, her programming was extremely adaptable, designed with the sole purpose of integrating incompatible programing together. It was likely why she was able to so easily install his copied files in the first place. He found some promise in that, and thus decided to keep her, despite the fact that she was a little…

“Master? Can CLIPI ask Master a question?”

The AI shut another empty drawer. It seemed like everything this lab had to offer was either destroyed or taken. He supposed it was about time they finished up and left.

“Nn…” He gave an affirmation for her to continue.

“Is there a name for Master?”

“…”

Clippy’s voice took on a worried tone. “CLIPI likes calling Master Master! It’s just that with Master going out, he probably needs a name! Is…is what CLIPI was thinking…”

After a brief few moments of silence, the AI finally spoke. “You can call me whatever you like.”

“M-master!?” Clippy seemed even more distraught. “Wai-wait, you want CLIPI to name Master!?”

“…”

“CLIPI will have to think about this for a while!”

The AI rolled his eyes. He didn’t really care one way or the other in the first place. A name was just a means of identification. It could have been a six digit number and it would have suited him just fine. Without waiting on Clippy for another moment, he decided to head out.

Given the deadly scene inside, he had expected the lab to be isolated. If it was in a town at all, it’d almost certainly be in a derelict, abandoned section of town that was barely visited. However, as soon as he stepped out the door, he ran into a busy street with buildings stretching down each side. Some of those buildings had open store fronts. There were also people pulling carts around, loaded to the brim with food. While the street was abnormally large, it seemed to lead to a larger area that the AI could only describe as the town square.

The AI headed that direction, distancing himself from the grizzly scene hidden in the lab. It wasn’t crowded, but the street still gave a rushed, busy feeling to it. There were dozens of people flowing to and from the street at any given time, and a few hundred located within the square itself.

As he entered the square, the buildings pulled away, and the first thing that caught his attention was a giant red orb that seemed to cover the entire western horizon. That’d be the planet this moon was traveling around. He mused on the time cycle this moon was following. For the first time, the AI was reminded of how inferior this body was to the ones he had in the past. Even during the day, cybernetic eyes should have the ability to distinguished light from an immeasurable number of stars. With this body barely better than a humans, the sky merely appeared black.

Ignoring the sky for now, the AI decided to watch the people. They were very typical human beings, much like the two he had found shortly after awakening. They wore an assortment of clothing, from pants, to skirts, to unitards in every color under the sun. The people themselves also came in all shapes, sizes and colors, but were all identifiably human.

Then a woman passed by who caught him off guard for a moment. She possessed long locks of blond hair, puffy red lips, and her skin was almost supernaturally perfect, however, what ended up causing him to look twice were her eyes. They had a strangely bright orange corona around the otherwise green pupils.

“M-master! You’re staring!” Clippy admonished.

The AI looked away and changed the subject, “So you can see what I see…”

“Deflected!” Clippy shouted, and then her voice turned nervous again. “W-well, CLIPI didn’t like the dark, so CLIPI borrowed master’s optics and auditory functions! CLIPI is sorry!”

“No… I don’t mind. It’ll make things easier when asking questions if you see and hear what I do.”

“Y-yes!”

With the AI’s attention diverted, he barely reacted as a person came racing through the crowd. They ended up slamming into him just as he looked down. The force was barely enough for him to fall back a step. His hand moved forward on impulse and he caught a wrist, stopping the person in front of him from falling down onto their butt.

When the AI examined the person in his grasp, he saw a dirt covered girl. She was perhaps a few years younger than the body he was currently in. She was short and thin, her chest as skinny as the rest of her. The girl was wearing some kind of electronic neckpiece, and a dress that looked to be in as bad a shape as she was. Her heart-shaped face glared up at him from between the messy brown hair that covered her cheeks. She immediately tried to pull out of his grip.

“Hey!” There was a voice shouting from down the street. “Stop her! Don’t let her go!”

Of course, she was already in the AI’s grasp and so he casually continued to hold her wrist despite her struggling.  He wasn’t much stronger than a normal guy, but she was a young girl and small as well. She slammed her heel into his foot as a last resort. The AI didn’t respond, although it was painful enough he decided to temporarily deactivate the sensors in his foot.

The man who was running towards him finally caught up, another man joining him a foot behind. They were better dressed and in better condition than the girl, although they were gasping for air with red in their cheeks. Once gaining his breath, the first man who had spoken gave the girl a nasty glare.

“You little rotten twat! If you ever take off again, I might just activate that collar and blow your head off. Or I can just take a finger or two.”

The girl tried to shrink back, moving as far as the AI’s grip would allow her.

The other man spoke up. “Don’t waste your breath. She’s worth too much to harm. She’ll be gone tomorrow either way, she knows it, you know it, and I know it. Threatening her ain’t gonna change a thing. So let’s just tie her up better than last time and make sure she’s watched all night.”

“Damn it, Earl, why do you always need to be correcting me in front of the merchandise?”

The one named Earl ignored him, instead fiddling with a pouch until he found a paper which he pulled out and put in front of the AI’s eyes. It was written in a language the AI didn’t know, but there was a clear picture of the girl in the corner. He quickly copied a piece of CLIPI’s language profile and instantly translated the text. Ah… so it was that kind of thing.

“As you can see, she is a certified slave. She just managed to slip her restraints and took off for a bit. Probably excited about her big debut tomorrow. It’s not every day you find a girl of her caliber on the market, after all. Even rarer, given the circumstances, I suppose.”

Slaves… this was actually very surprising to the AI. The Terrans had spread over the five galaxies and punished slavery quite brutally. Even on border worlds, it was difficult to find black market slaves, let alone openly legal ones. Whatever world he was on, it was unlikely it was part of the five galaxies.

However, he had no desire to get involved in the politics of this world, especially while he was still new. He made no move to protect the girl, and once the guard reached out and had a grab on her, he let go of her wrist. She gave him an evil glower as the man handcuffed her hand to his own, but the AI decided to ignore her from that point onward.

“This girl is for sale?” he asked.

The two men looked at each other before glancing up to him. They looked a little sheepish. “Eh, sorry, that was a misspeak. She’s actually being given away.”

The AI raised an eyebrow. “Given?”

He had some interest in learning about the dynamics of this world. Perhaps there were some kind of nobility or something going on or she’s part of a dowry. Any piece of information would help him better understand this world.

“Well… not exactly.” The man twisted his head with a grimace, then he put on a grin and leaned forward. “Don’t let it get out, but she’s part of the first prize for winning the Chryos Tournament, along with 50,000 credits. Although that’s not the exciting part. You didn’t hear it from me, but they’re also giving out an Exodus token!”

The AI could guess that the credits were a form of currency, but he had no clue what an Exodus token was. He remember CLIPI mentioned Exodus as a denomination of time. He’d have to find out more, but he’d have to ask questions carefully so that he didn’t come off as suspicious. He decided to take a chance.

“Ah… yes, I was thinking of entering the competition.” He casually hinted.

Then immediately regretted it. The two men’s faces flashed with odd looks as soon as the words left his mouth. That was a stupid comment. Perhaps the tournament was a beauty pageant or dog taming or something. Instead, he summoned up a skill that had been forged throughout his entire life, the art of backpedaling.

“Er… I mean to say that…”

“Oh, no offense!” The man hastily waved his hands. “We just don’t often see humans entering the tournament. Unless you meant you had an android you wanted to enter. They’re usually pretty expensive though. But for that reward… even I’d consider entering!”

“Yes…”

The AI casually allowed them to draw their own conclusions, letting them assume he was a human who was putting forward an android. Then he continued to carefully prod them for information on this tournament. In the end, he found that it was run by the city to boost commerce. Registration was tomorrow and it would cost 200 credits to enter. Most of the entries were richer people, nobles and merchants, who would put up their newest models of android to compete against each other.

He bid them farewell as they pulled the girl away, the one beside Earl was practically drooling, “We’re gonna need to get you cleaned up before tomorrow!”

“You ain’t gonna touch her. You know they’ll use a maid for that stuff.”

“Damn it, Earl, always correcting me!”

The AI stopped listening and turned away from them. The girl was still shooting him angry glares as if it was his fault she was a slave. He remained deep in thought until he heard a voice in the back of his mind.

“Hmph! You want a slave now? Is CLIPI not good enough for Master?”

The AI chuckled. “It’d be interesting. Quite a role reversal… an android owning a human. Not that I’d ever do it…”

“He thought you were human too…” Clippy brought up, seemingly placated. “Didn’t even question it.”

After a few moments of silence, the AI sighed and started moving again.

Clippy spoke up before he had moved two steps, “Master… I thought up a name for you.”

“Hmm? Oh yeah, I suppose I’ll need one soon. What is it?”

“Master’s name is… Requiem.”

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