Arifureta Chapter 147

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

http://ncode.syosetu.com/n8611bv/148/

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 was translated by Bakapervert. Elementalcobalt did the final edits.

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The Foundation of A Hero

“Haha, my apologies. The backlash of being serious for too long made my pathos leak out for just a little much.”

“… A little?” X2

The light of regeneration magic that Tio exercised enveloped Suzu and Ryuutaro, illuminating the passage. The words that Tio said while smiling during that time were tsukkomi-ed by them with scornful eyes.

The nobility of Tio that was usually unseen, her elegance that was mistaken as royalty, her refinement, the recoil from all those that caused Suzu and also Ryuutaro’s hearts to be palpitating thoroughly made the gazes that were directed at Tio colder than usual. Especially Ryuutaro, it felt like his pure heart was toyed with, even though he understood that it was just an outburst of anger, his mental state couldn’t help but lower the temperature of his gaze.

Drifting inside such a strange atmosphere, after the light of healing that had enveloped the two had vanished, their bodies were in perfect health without even a single injury. It was just a few seconds since Tio exercised her regeneration magic.

“Even though it was amazing… it was amazing but… but Suzu cannot honestly praise it now. But, thank you Tio-san.”

“Me too, I wonder just why this kind of pervert is like this but… thanks anyway.”

“Thou art welcome. Also Ryuutaro. Even if thou insulted me, I won’t feel happy you know? I won’t wag my tail to anybody except master. I’m truly sorry.”

A vein appeared on Ryuutaro’s temple. Inside his heart he cursed “It’s like I’m trying to attract her but getting dumped instead, isn’t it”. He didn’t say anything out loud because there would be no end to it.

Once again, unspeakable rage that shuddered welled up from inside him against Tio who was calmly using two exact opposite aspects, the dignified beauty just now and the perversion that conveniently converted any kind of attack into pleasure. At the same time…

“… Just as I thought, Nagumo is amazing, huh?”

“Suzu doesn’t think that Nagumo-kun needs that kind of praise though.”

Thinking about Hajime went along with Tio’s everything, Ryuutaro saw the depth of Hajime’s magnanimity as a man, no, as a human and raised his praise to him. Surely it was just as Suzu said, if Hajime heard that he would surely have a vein appearing in his forehead saying that it was not the case.

Like that, Suzu and Ryuutaro were fed up by Tio’s perversion that she naturally emitted. During that time, the end of the passage became visible ahead. It was the next room.

“Hmm, there art multiple presences on the other side. It seems there are members who have already linked up there.”

“Nagumooo, please be there. I won’t be able to hold back if you don’t take her off our hands soon.”

“Please god, make it so the owner is there.”

Suzu and Ryuutaro murmured in prayer after hearing Tio’s words. And then Suzu also nonchalantly said something cruel. It seemed that since she passed her trial, she had learned to punch straight with her words.

Like that, the ice wall the three approached melted and vanished and what was at the other side of the wall was…

“MuuIIIii, Yue you bhird braiiiinn!!”

“… Shut hup. Closeht phervertt”

“Aah geez. You two, stop it alreadyyy…”

There straddling above the lying down Yue, Kaori was pulling Yue’s cheeks *gyuuuuuuu*, and toward Kaori who was doing that, Yue similarly pinched up Kaori’s cheeks *muniiiiii*, and then, Shia was mediating those two in a dither.

“What’s this…”

“Cat fight?”

“This is their usual quarrel. They really have a good relationship.”

Suzu and Ryuutaro were dumbfounded. Tio’s expression was smiling peacefully. Looking at the figures of the two that were pulling the other’s cheeks with teary eyes while striking each other like pawing cats, surely it couldn’t be helped that their expression turned like that. The two girls were merely running out of magic power due to the huge fight just now and so this quarrel was the most that they could do.

“Eh? Tio-san? Also both of you. So all of you safely overcame the trial then. I’m glad. Come now Yue-san, Kaori-san, Tio-san and others have arrived hereee! Stop fighting alreadyyy! Come on, release your hands from the cheeks, don’t keep hitting at each other! Ah, over there, don’t kick! Please calmly… I said stop it alreadyyy!”

Shia snapped toward Yue and Kaori who wouldn’t stop quarreling childishly. Two reinforced fists were striking down on the heads of the two, a *GOKIN!* sound that shouldn’t have rung out reverberated. Yue and Kaori crouched down while holding their heads. “My headd-, my headd~” They groaned like so.

“Hmm, it seems that the position of Shia and Yue strangely got reversed since we came to this labyrinth… I wonder if Yue also slightly received the influence of the great labyrinth? Well, it’s interesting to look at anyway.”

Tio tilted her head while murmuring her guess that was half correct. Yue was also exhausted because she recalled various memories of the far past. She even let out a weak-hearted remark against her better judgment. Rather, with how large her past trauma it was strange that it ended with just this much.

And then, the unconscious reliance that was created from the weakness of Yue’s heart… that was naturally directed at her lover Hajime, but even Shia who had remarkable growth since she was acknowledged as lover by Hajime was also not just a handful little sister anymore and turned into a reliable partner that Yue was apt to rely on. In other words, in addition of Shia’s growth, her distance with Yue was also shrinking further.

“Fuu, my apologies, we made you wait. The new passage is over there, so let’s advance forward.”

“… Thou art really reliable right now.”

Shia urged them ahead while carrying Yue and Kaori at both sides under her arms. Tio nodded at that while looking fondly.

The party advance through the passage once more. The people who they hadn’t found were three people, Hajime, Shizuku, and Kouki. They were walking forward while praying so that they could link up at the next room.

Like that now, they suddenly stood still in front of the ice wall that was at the end of the passage they had reached. Shia’s rabbit ears were twitching around while she was making a complicated face. Right after that, her eyes widened in shock.

“Eh… tho, those two too?”

The sudden words and attitude of Shia who had sharp senses caused the other members to look at her wondering what was going on. Yue, Kaori, Tio, the three of them immediately concentrated and reached out their senses at the other side of the ice wall. And the result, they understood what made Shia surprised and they looked at each other.

“Nothing will begin even if we just stand here. We can only confirm the situation directly.”

“… Nn. If he is Hajime’s enemy, I will beat him up.”

“Err, Yue? That’s a little… ”

“Anyway, let’s go.”

While her cheek was twitching at Yue who was narrowing her eyes dangerously, Kaori could only pray that she wished it was just a quarrel like her and Yue.

But, that prayer didn’t reach.

Ahead of the ice wall they passed, at the next room, storm of killing intent and hatred was blowing violently.

Yes, Hajime and Kouki were currently in mortal combat.

Amanogawa Kouki.

He who was born as the only son of an ordinary household had someone who he respected and idolized from the heart even now. That someone was Kouki’s grandfather.

The name of that grandfather was Amanogawa Kanji, he was a skilled attorney famous in business world. It was established custom for the family to go play at their grandfather’s house when it was a long holiday, but Kanji’s wife―because Kouki’s grandmother had passed away early, the grandfather that was living alone was very affectionate toward Kouki.

For his age, Kanji’s back was straight and his muscular body was overflowing with ambition, nevertheless, he wasn’t scary, but a gentle person. Kouki idolized dearly such a grandfather as his, that was to say he was a grandfather’s boy.

What Kouki liked the most from Kanji was Kanji’s story of his experiences. The experiences that Kanji obtained from his work as an attorney were told to Kouki as though he was reading from a picture book so that the small Kouki could easily understand them. Realistically speaking, the stories were also considerably arranged to not breach the duty of confidentiality, but even so, the eloquent stories of his grandfather were full of human drama that caused Kouki’s heart to dance many times.

Helping the weak, crushing the strong, reaching his hand to a troubled person without hesitation, accomplishing the correct thing, always being fair… in the end, Kanji’s stories were a thing that included that kind of teaching. A hero’s tale that personified ideal and justice. A common story for young children.

Because of that, for Kouki, his grandfather Kanji was exactly a hero. Just like how other children of his age idolized a certain masked rider or the space alien that defeated space monsters even faster than instant ramen could cook, Kouki idolized Kanji like that. It could be said that because his target to idolize was nearby that Kouki’s idolizing was even stronger than other children. He wished “someday I will be like grandfather”.

But, naturally, the real world couldn’t be like Kanji’s story where truth and justice defeated the evil and unreasonable, and the righteousness of ideals could be realized without end. In the occupation of attorney, even if they held justice and fairness, their foremost mission wasn’t to pursue the truth or impeach the guilty but to protect the interest of their client.

To be called as ‘competent’ attorney, it wasn’t enough with just having excellent skill as an attorney, it was also because Kanji was a human who could realistically think with good and evil at the same time. He thoroughly knew about the dirty part of society and also how it was insufficient to just carry ideal and justice in hand.

But, before he could teach that to Kouki he passed on to the next world. It was before Kouki entered elementary school. The cause was an acute heart attack.

Kanji’s death left behind a large influence on Kouki.

The thinking that it was okay for a young child to only think of beautiful things was something really normal, Kanji couldn’t be blamed because of that. Someday, when Kouki grew up, he was planning to also talk to Kouki about bitter experience that included reality when things wouldn’t go as you expected.

The death of the hero he idolized was a shock for Kouki. He thought of his beloved grandfather, the more he soaked in his memory of Kanji the more he beautified his image of Kanji as a hero, putting a deep root of ‘the ideal righteousness’ into the deepest part of young Kouki’s heart.

That righteousness was following the teaching of his grandfather that sounded pleasant to the ears of children, at the same time it was righteousness that didn’t recognize the ‘impure’ part inside the minority or good and evil at all. To further say it, Kouki came to think that what the majority of people thought as right was the absolute right.

Although it wasn’t like that was something peculiar. Children everywhere always watched the hero from television or comics that held the ideal righteousness inside their heart.

And then, those children would pile up days of living, repeating many failures from crashing into the wall of reality. Sometimes, they would experience setback, learn how to give up and compromise. They would naturally study the way to sail the storm of reality skillfully.

They would keep their aspiration as just aspiration, ideal as just ideal, storing all those inside a treasure box that they put at the corner of their heart while looking at reality. That was the natural course of events. Kouki too should be like that. If that happened, then there would be no problem at all.

However, Kouki was too prodigious to ride the natural course of events. His high specs allowed him to overcome the wall of reality while following his ideal. Without any failure or setback, he pushed through every situation with his own strength. His ideal of children completely passed through.

As a result, without realizing it, Kouki came to not doubt his own righteousness. He was cautioned many times about the danger of that by several people close to him, especially by his parents and Shizuku, but Kouki only heard that advice with a smile. He didn’t listen seriously or reform himself. In the first place, he had charisma and his principle was solely based on good intention, so not including those several people that cautioned him, everyone else supported Kouki and that was also one factor that caused Kouki to not change.

Of course, there was no way everything went well without anything wrong at all. Several problems cropped up in places that Kouki wasn’t aware of. The envy at Shizuku was also one of those.

But, Kouki who didn’t doubt his own righteousness maintained it by his convenient interpretation. That was also helped along by the people who adored Kouki blindly pushing his back. So as expected, Kouki didn’t notice his convenient interpretations. Even though he received warnings, he also didn’t try to notice.

Such ‘ideal righteousness’ of Kouki had distorted even though it was overflowing with good intention. It began to crumble in this another world. Different from the peaceful Japan, in another world that ran rampant with killing intent and hatred, supernatural and absurdity, his spec and convenient interpretation didn’t work. The prime example was the devil woman he faced in the lower floors of Orcus, and Hajime who went under a change of heart.

For the first time, Kouki saw the wall of reality before his eyes. He experienced painful failure that exposed the ‘child’ inside his heart.

And then…

{She was taken away. Right?}

“No! She is not taken…”

The false image of Kouki with ashen hair clad in black armor was staring with those reddish black eyes while ridiculing Kouki, who was breathing roughly while sweating like a river, immediately objected.

“It’s just as Shizuku said, from the beginning Kaori liked Nagumo… that’s why I…”

{You don’t need to lie to yourself. I am you. I know you better than anyone else. You pretended to accept what Shizuku said, but deep in your heart, you are thinking that she is taken from you. You are still thinking that Kaori should be together with you. You two had been together all this time since elementary school. I don’t know about the meeting at middle school or anything, but even though she has been with me longer, even though I believed that from now on we will always be together too, even though Kaori is the heroin of me the hero…}

“Shut up. I’m not thinking anything like that! Don’t say whatever you want- you labyrinth monster! You won’t lead me astray!”

Kouki glared at the false image with bloodshot eyes and let loose a blade of light with all his strength. Several streaks of slashing light rushed toward the false image.

However, the false image let fly light blades with exactly the same trajectories, neutralizing them all. No, far from that, several of the lights didn’t stop and attacked straight towards Kouki. It was the proof that he lost completely in strength.

{You say that but in contrast you are shaken really bad, huh. Even the holy sword that Nagumo especially upgraded, like this it’s just throwing a pearl before the swine. Or else exactly because it is created by that hateful Nagumo you envied, that you don’t want to use it properly, perhaps?}

“That’s irrelevant! I, don’t hate Nagumo or any…”

{Come on, it’s because you immediately averted your eyes from reality like this… that I’m strengthened again here.}

An extra large ‘Soaring Heaven Sword – Quake’ was unleashed by the false image. Its might was obviously different compared from before. His own signature move that was gouging the ground while approaching him made Kouki shudder and he immediately dodged to the side. His instinct told him that he couldn’t block that.

{Not just Kaori, you also cannot stomach Yue and others adoring Nagumo, right? Girls that are that cute, strong, and charming, aren’t they worthier to be together with a hero like me? You cannot accept they adore someone like Nagumo who can easily cut down a human. right?}

“Cut it out! Those girls seriously love Nagumo… that’s something those girls decided themselves… that’s why-“

{Nagumo’s strength is also irritating. That strength originally should be mine, isn’t it? Rather, Nagumo’s everything is just vexing yeah.}

“Wrong-. Certainly, Nagumo likes to act as he pleases, but he saved us many times… that kind of guy…”

{You said you don’t hate him? You mustn’t lie. Even when you were saved, you felt jealousy instead of gratitude, didn’t you? Even though gallantly rushing to save someone is my role, you envied him like that, didn’t you?}

“There is no way that’s true! Such a thing…”

{Oi, oi, just how much you are going to strengthen me until you are satisfied?}

That wish of his to be a hero, the envy to Hajime that was nearly a hatred, and then his desire to monopolize Kaori along with his desire for other people’s good will… having those shoved to his face, Kouki objected with the large part of himself believing his own words. Like that, because he was unconsciously avoiding recognizing it, the false image was strengthened endlessly.

The false image of Kouki lifted his black holy sword to the sky. Right after that, a dazzling surge of light burst out from there and the light split open near the ceiling, it became several streaks of meteors that began to bomb Kouki.

Kouki avoided those with ‘Shrink Ground’ while looking for the chance to counterattack, but the color pasted on his face was obviously one of fluster. Cold sweat couldn’t stop flowing from the strength of the false image.

The meteors that were attacking from the air were equipped with homing functions to some degree and Hajime’s impact conversion so there was nothing more troublesome than this. Even if he waited until they almost hit before evading instantly, if he was late in the timing even for just a little the storm of shockwaves would swallow him. Having said that, only neutralizing the attack like this without being able to counterattack would only turn this into a war of attrition.

‘Because Hajime put those functions’… for a moment such thinking was whirling inside his chest. Kouki wiped that thought away in a fluster. That was because such thinking wasn’t ‘right’ toward the person who lent his hand to him. That was why right after that he sealed the memory that he even had such a thought in the bottom of his mind.

“Fly and turn, ‘Soaring Heaven Sword – Storm’!!”

Kouki somehow slipped through the explosion and started counterattacking. Kouki’s slash was added with wind blade, the slash of wind that was hard to see even in the best of times slipped into the light and magic power and became even harder to perceive. The visible slashes were ten, but actually slashes in thrice that number were launched in a spread to block any escape.

{That’s pointless. Assemble, ‘Heaven Claw Flowing Rain – Quake’.}

In response, the false image was wearing a cool face. The light bullets that became meteors  flew wildly and instantly converged on the black holy sword, converted into a streak of bombardment. There was no need to escape or anything, he just needed to smash Kouki’s attack from the front.

That plan came to fruition. And it was extremely easily on top of it. The countless blades Kouki launched were scattered with just a single flash. The bombing of light charged at Kouki without stopping.

“block, ‘Light Armor’!!”

The holy armor that Kouki was wearing shined, countless rings of light extended in front of him and produced a barrier. Immediately after, the light bombing hit and scattered with a severe flash and impact. ‘Heaven Claw Flowing Rain’ originally was a technique that didn’t have that much power, but Hajime’s demonic remodeling and the strengthened power of the false image were combined and sublimed the technique into one with might that wouldn’t be an exaggeration to be called a sure kill technique.

Therefore…

“Guwaa!?”

Kouki’s barrier was smashed and he was grandly blown away. He rolled all over the ground and finally stopped moving when he crashed into the ice wall. Blood was trickling down from his temple.

{You want to overwhelm him, right? That Nagumo. You want to make that guy kneel and beg for forgiveness. After that, you will take back Kaori, Yue and the others will direct their favor to you, save the world, bring everyone back home, showered in admiration…}

“SHUT UPPPPPP!”

While feeling the black emotion that was fished out from the depth of his heart, Kouki drove his flaming hot body forward following his violent fury. Vast amounts of magic power from that body became a bursting out a torrent, it was ‘Limit Break’.

Kouki himself understood that it wasn’t the right time to use it, but he couldn’t listen to the words of the false image more than this. He didn’t want to notice the emotion that shouldn’t be harbored by himself who should be righteous. That was his whole heartedness.

Kouki stepped in with terrific speed that should even be called god speed. He swung down the holy sword that was shining pure white with brute force. That was easily blocked with a scoff by the false image of Kouki whose body was clad in reddish black magic power before he realized. The false image was also using ‘Limit Break’.

The pure white holy sword and the ominous jet-black holy sword clad in reddish black aura clashed, in that instant violent impact rushed out and a crater was created under the false image.

The moment Kouki understood he was blocked, he twisted his wrist and changed into a sweep of the sword. The wood chopping attack transformed like a lie into a neck mowing attack. However, even that attack which was like a sudden flash was easily blocked by the false image.

{Isn’t murder of humans evil?}

“You are not human!”

The teasing words of the false image made Kouki gritted his teeth while accelerating his sword even more. The sword left behind a trail of light while *zurararara-* creating countless after images. The sword that should be just one piece looked like several swords at the same time with its abnormal speed.

The storm of sharp swordplay that continuously swung in circle motions never stopped, as expected from the person that was supposed to be praised as a hero. That strength could be quickly ranked from above even in this world.

But, the enemy before his eyes perfectly responded with similar swordplay that left behind after images with his composed expression still unbroken. On the contrary, the false image saw an opening and let out a counterattack that created a shallow wound on Kouki who couldn’t dodge.

“UOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!!”

{What’s the matter? You are smeared in that much killing intent… huh, hero?}

Kouki yelled while exhausting the martial arts that he possessed, but his heart that was totally disarrayed even if he didn’t recognize it made him unable to display his strength except as a paltry shadow of his original strength. Naturally, with that, there was no path to win against the likes of his false image that was gradually turning stronger, his uneasiness was also growing violent when he thought about the time limit of ‘Limit Break’.

There, the false image further talked with words that shook Kouki’s mind. That wasn’t Kouki’s negative part that was brought up from the past, but words that incited his anxiety about the future.

{If you are like this, you might have more things taken away again.}

“What are… ”

{Let’s stop with your pretense of not noticing. After all, something that I noticed is also something that you notice.}

“That’s why-! What are you talking about-“

The false image sent Kouki an exasperated gaze as though he was looking at an idiot. And then, he easily said the thing that Kouki feared the most.

{Just who is Shizuku looking at… that’s what I mean.}

“―!!”

Kouki felt like the blood all over his body was boiling. He screamed soundlessly, and when his mouth couldn’t go further he launched a shockwave from close range that might swallow himself too.

The false image easily withdrew from that using ‘Shrink Ground’ and he continued with mocking words toward Kouki’s desperation.

{So you don’t even want to think about it? After Kaori was taken away, on top of it, even Shizuku will… }

“DIEEEEEEE!!”

{Oi, oi, that’s not a line of a hero, you know? Besides, no matter how much you shout, it’s the truth that Shizuku’s heart is leaning toward Nagumo. It might even be understandable, yeah? She was saved by him several times already, and Shizuku is unexpectedly girly.}

“ZEYAAAAH!!”

Kouki shrieked. The swung holy sword increased in brightness, but the black holy sword was increasing even more than that in the thickness of its ominous magic power. Inside Kouki’s heart, he was trying to deny Shizuku’s feeling and throw away the reality with all his might, which in turn raised the strength of the false image endlessly.

Therefore, the unsightly attack that although was done with all his strength but no different than throwing a tantrum, was easily repelled from the front.

“Gaah!?”

Kouki screamed and he was blown away towards the wall once more. Although the magic power convergence ability of his holy armor lengthened the lasting time of ‘Limit Break’,if he recklessly exhausted himself then even that benefit would be pointless. The time Kouki had left was only a little.

{I see. You even deny Shizuku’s matter.}

The false image was walking to Kouki with clacking footsteps, he was shaking his head while sending a cold gaze at Kouki.

Kouki somehow stood up using his holy sword as a stick while his breathing was blocked from the impact, he returned a bloodshot gaze to the false image.

“Wr, wrong. Toward Nagumo, Shizuku… such a thing… no way it could possibly…”

{Venting her anger, sulking, showing a smile from her heart… you noticed all those, right?}

“Something like that… she did that to every…”

{Even though when she saw Yue and Shia close with Nagumo, she was making a sullen face?}

“… That’s just… because they didn’t know the place… that was displeasing for…”

{And the awkward face she made when looking at Kaori approaching that guy?}

“… Shizuku… she is also not recognizing… Nagumo from her heart.”

{Ku-ku-ku, that’s just extreme even if I say so myself huh. You don’t want to believe it that much?}

In front of Kouki who was on his knee while supporting his body with the holy sword, the false image was chuckling while pointing his holy sword. The false image sneered even further at Kouki who was glaring murderously.

And then for a moment, “Oho?” the false image faced at ice wall where there was nothing with a surprised expression. He sensed the familiar presence approaching from the other side of the ice wall with ‘Presence Detection’. Although it seemed Kouki didn’t even have the composure to notice that.

{This is… what good timing.}

“Don’t act composed!”

Kouki leaped up and slashed up his holy sword at what he saw as an opening. Without even looking at that the false image blocked the sword into sword locking contest while grinning widely, and then he passed down words that sounded like a death sentence.

{Now, the reality is coming here, you know?}

“What are you saying-“

Right after that a part of ice wall of the room where the two of them were at melted, a new passage appeared. Kouki twitched in surprise and while being cautious of the grinning false image in front of his eyes, he slightly moved his gaze at the direction of the passage.

And then, his eyes widened looking at the scene ahead of his gaze.

“Still in the middle of trial huh…”

There was Hajime carrying Shizuku on his back there. Kouki’s gaze was drawn into Shizuku. More accurately, at the sleeping face of Shizuku who looked happy while sweetly entrusting her cheek on Hajime’s shoulder in relief while breathing peacefully.

Something snapped inside Kouki.

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Arifureta Chapter 146

Previous | Table of Contents | Next

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

http://ncode.syosetu.com/n8611bv/147/

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 was translated by Bakapervert. Elementalcobalt did the final edits. Sorry, the editing isn’t great, I just didn’t have it in me tonight, I’ll remove this message once I’ve gone back and done a better edit.

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Thank God, She is a Pervert As Expected

 

―Even though you actually noticed.

Those words had been whispered into Suzu’s ear since she first entered the great labyrinth. And right now, those words were thrown at her from her reddish-black eyed self whose entire body color was white.

Each time she heard those words, Suzu’s heart creaked grindingly as though it was compressed by a pressing machine. That was just natural. Because recognizing these facts for Suzu was the same as recognizing her sin.

The false image of Suzu which was created from her negative emotion thrust the truth at her.

The voice referred to how Suzu had faintly noticed Eri’s true nature.

If others were asked about their impression toward Nakamura Eri, ten of ten would surely answer like this:

She is meek and reserved, a girl that is able to take a step back and observe the whole objectively. Usually, she refrains from meddling, but she is someone prudent that can say out her opinion with skillful consideration when it counts and that can nonchalantly give help. Her figure following behind with a smile is like a Yamato Nadeshiko.

There was also various other opinions, but in general, people harbored an impression that she had a gentle and good-willed personality. Kouki and company were also similar. Even Shizuku with her sharp observations had almost the exact same impression. For that reason, that day, when Eri exposed her true nature, Shizuku was also greatly shocked.

Among those people, only Suzu harbored a slightly different impression.

Suzu thought that Eri might be a slightly calculating girl. She understood her best friend’s conceit the best, because she was always looking at her from the side, and also because the girl named Taniguchi Suzu was special. She was sensitive toward the subtleties of human’s emotion.

Suzu noticed that inside Eri’s smiling eyes, sometimes, there was coldness and sharpness that resided there. And then she noticed how Eri was usually a step behind. Rather than calling that something natural from her personality, it was something that came from the logic. It was more convenient to collect information assertively in that position, Suzu somehow understood that kind of thing too.

But she had never pointed that out to Eri herself. Suzu didn’t think that such a behavior was unpleasant. If she was asked why, it was because when Eri gathered information like that while changing her gestures or words, generally, she was doing it for the sake of someone else.

And then, even at this time that couldn’t be considered ordinary, Suzu guessed that the way Eri did a thing, her speech and her conduct were for the sake of protecting her own mind and body.

Suzu didn’t reject the idea of acting a part for the sake of protecting one’s own heart and body. If asked why, it was because it would be like rejecting herself.

What was the meaning of that? To understand that, there is a need to know about Suzu’s early life.

Both of Suzu’s parents were workaholics right to their core. From morning until evening, it was only work, work, work… Since her childhood, it was as though Suzu was raised by the employed caretaker. Both her parents didn’t even attend the custom events like visitation day or child and parent day.

Her family was quite prosperous, but after her caretaker went home, Suzu was always left alone inside the spacious house. If a young child was left alone for a long time, it was inevitable for them to become gloomy. When Suzu was in kindergarten and the early elementary school grades, she was a moody child without any friends.

It wasn’t like she wasn’t loved by her parents or anything. They carefully considered anything that they gifted Suzu. Suzu also knew that when they went home late at night, they secretly came to look at Suzu’s condition and stroke her head.

But, for the young Suzu, all that was not enough at all… that was why, with the sulking feeling she was cold toward her parents when she occasionally met them, she took an attitude that wasn’t cute at all; she pretended to sleep when she was actually awake…

For such a Suzu to turn out like the current cheerfully simple girl was solely thanks to the influence of her caretaker. A few years passed since she was employed, the caretaker couldn’t bear to look at the moping Suzu, so the large-bodied caretaker auntie gave advice to Suzu.

That advice was, ‘Anyway, just laugh’, truly advice that was overflowing with vagueness. ‘With that your surrounding will change’, she said. Those were the words of the caretaker that even now was still working in Suzu’s house, who for Suzu was like another mother already. For Suzu of that time, she didn’t understand what the caretaker meant, but if by doing that she wouldn’t be lonely then she thought there was no harm in doing it.

First, she tried to show upfront happiness towards her parents. She smiled widely, she jumped at them, she got her head stroked, and when she received present, she expressed happiness with her all. Actually, there was still lurking feelings in her heart, but she tried to come into contact with her parents while repressing it. Thereupon the faces of Suzu’s parents turned ‘dere’, it was a face so slovenly that Suzu had never seen it at all until that time.

They are still constantly busy with their work without any change, but even so, each time her parents looked at her she could see them smiling happily. Those smiling faces also become something that made Suzu happy.

Next, she also smiled cheerfully in the school. In truth, there was nothing that was really fun or anything there, even so, she constantly floated a wide smile.

Thereupon, before she realized it there was always someone in Suzu’s surroundings. Someone would always talk joyfully with a smile at Suzu. When she saw that, her school life until now became like a lie and it changed into something fun.

With that, Suzu understood. Even if she was sad or pained, if she made a smile, it would attract other smiles. With that, she wouldn’t be alone anymore.

Because of that, so that she wouldn’t be alone again, Suzu would smile without end no matter what kind of time it was. Yes, no matter what kind of time it was.

Suzu’s smiling face wasn’t something that always came from her heart. Rather, about half of her smiles were faked. She was doing it for so long that her true smile and the fake smile became the same and couldn’t be differentiated from each other.

That was why while Suzu noticed the calculating personality of Eri that put on the mask of Yamato Nadeshiko to protect her body and heart just like Suzu, she didn’t think of that as unpleasant. Rather she felt sympathy to Eri. After she noticed, she associated with her even deeper.

She thought that what Eri did was the same as her. She also thought that Eri felt sympathy for Suzu who was living by acting. She thought that even though it was true that Eri was calculating for the sake of herself, that they were really friends, even best friends. And then, she also thought that toward someone who didn’t have the intention to harm her, Eri would properly hold a good will towards them.

No, perhaps it should be said that she wanted to believe it to be so.

She left alone the unease that was bloating in her since they arrived in this world. She didn’t try to notice the thing that should be noticed. She gave up putting the effort because she feared to step into the calculating heart of Eri, who had taken off her smiling mask. She feared that the pleasant relationship they had until now would end and that Eri’s malice that Suzu perhaps had faintly realized would be shoved into her face.

That was why she believed. She believed blindly. She stuffed the unease she held, the anxiety she felt, into the bottom of her chest. She convinced herself that there was no malice or anything in Eri, that even her calculating aspect was always for the sake of her best friend Suzu and for Kouki and the others who were her comrades.

And the result…

{The tragedy of that day occurred. Two of Suzu’s classmates were lost. A lot of knights including Meld-san died. if Nagumo-kun and others weren’t there, then Kaori would have also died. Even though it was only Suzu who since coming in this world had faintly noticed Eri’s character and could stop the tragedy of that day, Suzu averted her eyes from reality because Suzu treasured herself. Suzu sealed everything so deep in the bottom of her heart that she didn’t even realize it herself. Pasting a smile on the face, just like usual…}

“…”

The darkness in Suzu’s heart. That was a fierce guilt. Even though it was only her who could stop Eri’s crime, she neglected that by denying the reality that Eri would do anything bad. As a result, a lot of people died, and her classmates were also almost annihilated.

If she just nonchalantly consulted with Shizuku, perhaps something would have changed. The regret of not doing that had been whirling fiercely in Suzu’s heart since that day.

{While declaring that Suzu is her best friend, Suzu didn’t notice the distortion of her heart. If it was Suzu, if it was Suzu who had been together with Eri longer than anyone. She should have been able to notice it, yet… by stepping into her heart, perhaps it would also exposed the fakeness of Suzu’s own smile… Suzu feared that so she didn’t do anything… Hearing the words ‘best friend’ from you feels really astonishing.}

“…”

{Do you think that everything would be fine if you just put on a smile? Even though it was just a widely thin relation where your hearts didn’t connect with each other, did you think that you are actually not alone? Just like Eri said, what open stupidity, isn’t it?}

Suzu wordlessly swept her iron fan. Dozens of barriers that she deployed cut through the wind and rushed the false image, surrounding it. Instantly, magic power exploded inside the containment, the explosion that was like an improvised frag grenade striking the white Suzu.

The surrounding ground was blown away, ice fragments were dancing in the air sparklingly, and perhaps it was only expected, the false image appeared unharmed wrapped in shining barrier while she was unfolding her white iron fan, hiding half her face.

Since the battle started, this development had been repeated all along. Suzu’s attack couldn’t break through the white Suzu’s protection no matter what. And then, the false image that hardened her defense mercilessly tore apart Suzu with blades of words one-sidedly.

{What are you going to do after meeting Eri one more time? Even though you actually don’t know what you want to say when you meet her, even though you are thinking that you will only get hostility and scorn directed at you without question anyway.}

Not only the past, the white Suzu also turned the matter of the future into a blade to swing at Suzu.

Not doing what she should do… averting her eyes from reality, tricking herself, the guilt of letting many people die, the regret of not trying to step into that distortion even while calling herself the best friend, although her feeling of wanting to meet was true, actually, she still didn’t know what she wanted to do when she actually meets her. She felt anxiety and fretfulness as though she was wandering inside a thick mist.

The heart of Suzu was creaking, it was torn apart, bleeding from the thorough torment, reaching its limit… was how it should be…

{Even after saying this much, Suzu is not really getting stronger, huh. Even though at first you turned weak from what Suzu was saying. Even though you just denied it, if you only averted your eyes, Suzu can get stronger…}

“As Suzu thought, there is really that kind of rule. If that’s the case, then no matter what you are saying, you won’t be able to get stronger.”

{It looks like it. In the middle, your heart began to gain determination little by little. Suzu’s words, on the contrary, became your strength to look back at yourself.}

While facing the white Suzu that was shaking her head as though to say ‘good grief’, Suzu was breathing hard, her hands that were grasping her iron fans were trembling, even so, she opened her mouth to speak with a dignified tone.

“… Yes. Even though it’s about Suzu herself, but the more it was showed to Suzu, it felt really painful, agonizing. But, what you are saying is all true? That’s why it’s fine already. It’s enough already standing still for the sake of Suzu herself. In the first place, since Suzu saw the dream at Haltina’s Great Labyrinth, Suzu had come to understand just how much Suzu averted her eyes from what is important.”

{… What a convenient dream that is.}

The white Suzu laughed. But, Suzu also laughed. That wasn’t a fake laugh, it was a laugh filled with bitterness and pain that came from her heart.

“Suzu should be able to get it. That world of dreams. Only if Suzu properly accepted reality.”

Suzu talked to herself with calm eyes.

“At that time, what Taeko-san said to ‘just laugh’, she didn’t mean that it’s fine if Suzu just smiles. That’s not all, what Taeko-san meant is to open your own heart first if you want to connect with other people’s hearts. Right now, Suzu understands.”

If you wanted to make others happy, first you yourself had to be happy. Surely, there were a lot of people who had heard those words. This was the same as that.

“It’s just as you said, honestly, Suzu also doesn’t understand what she wants to do by meeting Eri. Does Suzu want to curse at her, blame her, apologize for averting Suzu’s eyes, or to persuade her back… Suzu doesn’t know.”

Suzu’s heart since that day, that day when it received that painful betrayal was disordered in pieces. Various emotions were overflowing like a river after a heavy rain. It was merely enduring so that it didn’t flood over. Surely, the dam of Suzu’s heart would break the first time she confronted Eri and would scream.

That was why…

“Suzu doesn’t understand, but Suzu knows that Suzu has to meet her so…”

She wouldn’t expose any unsightliness just like at Haltina’s Great Labyrinth. That was conveyed implicitly to her other self.

{… Suzu’s strength is lowering a little again. Looks like your resolve is the real thing.}

“That’s right. This is not just words anymore. This is not seeing just a sweet dream. Suzu will surpass you and go ahead on this path! ‘Gather and return―Divine Severance–Turn’!”

Suzu proclaimed with resolve in her words. And then, she swung her pair of iron fans widely.

Right after, white Suzu’s surrounding shone brilliantly, the barrier was created as though in reverse regeneration.

‘Divine Severance–Turn’―By using regeneration magic, this magic made use of the magic power of a barrier that had been smashed and dispersed once to create a barrier once more.

The Suzu’s barriers that had been smashed until now had reached several hundred. The barriers of the white Suzu had also been smashed in great numbers. All those were regenerated and manifested for the sake of barrier burst. The total number of barriers were a hundred and fifty layers. Those barriers surrounded white Suzu like a castle wall.

{Is that is so… if it’s insufficient with just your own, you even regenerate the barrier that Suzu smashed.}

“Yep. You are Suzu herself so it is not hard to regenerate it. In exchange, all of Suzu’s magic power is dried away but… you are defeated!”

{Then try it. Use that power that is changed into the resolve to surpass everything!}

The barrier of the white Suzu shined. It was a challenge to just try it if she thought she could break it.

Suzu swept her iron fans powerfully. All the barrier was made to have directionality, and the spell commanded them to burst and scatter.

Right after that, the spacious room shook fiercely along with a thunderous roar. Ice fragments were raining down in sprinkles from the ceiling.

Even the caster Suzu was blown away by the great explosion and slid until the wall. And then her consciousness skipped when her back fiercely struck the ice wall. The cause was because she poured everything into the explosive power, even the little bit of her magic power that should be for defense.

She couldn’t hear anything except ringing in her ears. Perhaps her eardrums were torn. She somehow managed to hold back her hazy consciousness. She directed her gaze at ground zero while fixing her shaking eyesight, somehow. The dense remains of magic power and smoke of ice fragments were clearing, at the large crater created there… there was nothing.

At the same time, the ice wall at Suzu’s right side suddenly melted in one part and a new passage appeared.

Looking at that, Suzu discerned that she finally overcame the trial. Immediately her consciousness was succumbing to the damage from the shockwave and her magic power consumption.

(… It’s okay to rest, isn’t it… just for a little.)

Suzu whispered so inside her heart, then her consciousness was dragged into darkness.

It felt like drifting in the bottom of the gloomy water, inside such a sensation, Suzu’s consciousness slightly awakened.

It felt like her body was shaking in a certain rhythm, in her hazy mind Suzu thought it was like she was in a cradle. However, heavy sounds and the warmth conveyed on her cheek making her comprehended that it was the footsteps of a large person and their body warmth. The instant she comprehended that Suzu’s consciousness rapidly rose to the surface.

“E, eh? What? How…?”

“Yoo, Suzu. You woke up?”

“Hee? Ryuutaro-kun?”

“Yeah, it’s me.”

For a moment, “Uwaa, kidnapping!?” Suzu thought fluttered and her body stiffened, but she somehow understood that she was carried on Ryuutaro’s back and her body relaxed.

“Err, why is Ryuutaro-kun carrying Suzu on your back?”

“You see. After sending the irritating bastard flying away and passing through the path that appeared, I saw Suzu sleeping like a log at the corner of a similar room, so for the time being, let’s just carry you. You didn’t wake up even when I shook you, yeah as expected, there was also no way I could wake you up with wrestling moves, too.”

“Yes, if you tried to wake up Suzu like that then it will be waking up to Barrier Burst for you.”

For a moment, Suzu made an unpleasant expression thinking that if it was Ryuutaro, then he might really do that. Although in the end, he was able to be considerate towards the female, so perhaps this was also a growth… Suzu thought that with a relieved sigh. Previously he was a guy that would hit the back or shoulder of another hard while laughing heartily without caring of the other party’s sex.

“But, so that’s how it is. So that trial room is connected with everyone else then.”

“Looks like it. I think ahead of this path will be the room of someone else.”

“It will be great if it’s Kaori or Tio-san. Suzu is still not healed here… wait, Ryuutaro-kun is somehow worn out too, right? Thank you for carrying Suzu.”

Suzu expressed her gratitude brightly while settling on Ryuutaro’s large back. Now that she looked, Ryuutaro’s clothes were also looking quite ragged after winning a really hard fight. There was no stutter on his footsteps that moved forward ruggedly, but he looked like he received quite the damage.

“Aah, just this much ain’t a big deal. It’s only about five of my ribs, and also my shoulder that got dislocated and my arm was broken, that’s all.”

“That’s not something at the level that you can just write off as ‘that’s all’!”

“No, no, I fixed my shoulder already. I also reinforced my arm with ‘Vajra’, so its fin-gebohaa!?”

“Hiiiii!! Ryuutaro-kun is vomiting out an impossible amount of blood!?”

In front of the panicked Suzu who heard Ryuutaro’s unsubstantiated assertion, Ryuutaro who was about to say that he was fine became a bright red merlion. It looked like his internal organs were also considerably damaged.

Suzu hurriedly got down from Ryuutaro’s back while screaming, she put a shoddy healing magic on him. She didn’t have an aptitude for healing magic, so it was only a basic magic she learned for a critical time but it was better than nothing.

Faint light wrapped Ryuutaro who was mildly wiping the blood on his mouth nonchalantly as though he hadn’t just vomited a large amount of blood. The effect wasn’t that high because Suzu used a simplified magic circle that could be carried around, but it was possible to stop bleeding and pain and heal the little wound with that.

“Ah? It feels a little more comfortable somehow? Thanks, Suzu.”

“… Listen here, Ryuutaro-kun. Why are you that calm after vomiting blood in buckets like that? Actually, you are not a human, are you? You are an idiot, aren’t you?”

“That’s cruel, eh. What, if it’s just this much then you can make it somehow with your spirit.”

“… Spirit… what a convenient word.”

Suzu finished the treatment with a tired look. While she was at it, she also treated the remaining damage on her body core due to the explosive impact. Although this was only something for the peace of mind, she wanted to find Kaori or Tio quickly.

“Well, I also only just cleared the trial favorably, so I also got a little high tensioned here.”

“Aa, certainly there is that. It’s not like the time at Sea of Trees, we are properly fighting here… indeed, it feels joyful.”

“Right?”

“Now that you mentioned it, how did Ryuutaro-kun do? You don’t look like you have any worry or anything but… ah, it’s fine if it’s something hard to say, you know?”

Suzu nonchalantly said something cruel like “You are muscle brain, so there is no point even if you are abused verbally, right?”. In a certain meaning, it seemed that she had put down a mask of hers.

On the other hand, Ryuutaro that was naturally disparaged didn’t look like he particularly minded it, rather he didn’t even notice it and answered indifferently.

“No, it’s not anything big, so I don’t mind. I was just given insults that I’m a loser bastard.”

Suzu was dumbfounded hearing those words. Ryuutaro was a man that would just charge ahead even when there was danger in front of him. She had never seen him faltering back. What was the meaning of calling him a loser? Suzu tilted her head unable to imagine it.

Looking at Suzu who was like that, Ryuutaro scratched his cheek a little embarrassed while averting his eyes, before he dropped a bomb.

“Oh man, you see, since quite some time ago, I don’t know what to do to approach the woman I fell in love with yeah. I didn’t even confess, on top of that she was taken completely by another man to begin with… something like that.”

“… That’s… what to say…”

In a sense, it could be said to be a light worry. It was just as Suzu expected, perhaps even the great labyrinth was feeling something like “This guy’s negative emotion is too little, though? What can you do to torment him, I don’t get it?”

“And then, I got told something like steal the woman with brute force without reservation, various kind of unpleasant emotions were welling up in me but…”

In Ryuutaro’s case, the method of shoving the darkness in his heart to his face so he would self-destruct was pointless. It seemed that the great labyrinth tried to attack Ryuutaro by strengthening its conscious enticement to make him lose reasoning, possibly to drown his heart in desire and erase his positive emotion as his virtue.

In that way, this could be a troublesome trial with the danger of going mad. But, Ryuutaro didn’t lose his sense, and he avoided turning into an incarnation of his desire. The prime reason for that, rather than because of Ryuutaro’s mental strength it was because of…

“Realistically stealing her is impossible, anyway. There ain’t just no way. Rather it’s suicide. I’ll get killed by Nagumo, also by Yue-san, too.”

“Heh? … … … … … … … … … … …. eEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH!!?”

Suzu knew what was inside Ryuutaro’s heart from the flow of the story, because of how unexpected it was, Suzu raised a magnificently loud voice of shock after a few beats.

And then Suzu whose mouth was closing and opening while her eyes widened largely began to confirm it timidly. Ryuutaro looked away with a sullen expression, but his ears turned red so it was obvious that he was hiding his embarrassment.

“Ryu, Ryuutaro-kun, eh? Lies? Really? You liked Onee-sama?”

“Aa, what’s with you, is it really that strange for me to be in love with that person huh- “

“N, no, that’s not true at all. But, you didn’t show anything that pointed at that at all so…”

“… You, in front of those two, do you think I can show any kind of attitude like that?”

“… Ryuutaro-kun… what a pitiful…”

“Don’t pity me! You, your personality changed somewhere somehow!”

Ryuutaro howled at Suzu who was sending him a gaze as though she was looking at a pitiful thing. Her speech and conduct strangely turned straight so what he pointed out was correct. She was not just a girl who was only smiling anymore.

But right now, what was important wasn’t Suzu’s change, but the wound of Ryuutaro’s heart (lol) who kept being shown the spectacle of the woman he fell in love with flirting with another man regardless of who was watching. Indeed, in front of Hajime and Yue, there was no way he could take action as someone who fell in love with Yue. He was also made to hesitate by the atmosphere those two wafted off. His pride as a man and the obstinacy in his heart was damaged.

If he was asked what he could do, then it was to recognize it as unrequited love and make a clean break with it. In reality, that was what Ryuutaro actually did. And the great labyrinth forcefully dragged that out but…

The side he needed to steal from was just too bad. Whether it was the male side or the female side. In front of desire and whatever, there was only a definite future of helplessness. No matter how much his black emotion was stimulated telling him to steal her, what was impossible was impossible. Rather, it even made him want to explode and scold “Don’t say something absurd! Look at reality you idiot!” at the other self that was instigating him.

“Hm, but that’s really unexpected. Who would have ever thought that Ryuutaro-kun was in love with Onee-sama….?”

“It’s not really that strange, right? Even you called her ‘Onee-sama’ since that day, ain’t you?”

“Aah, so it’s like that. Yep, perhaps that is indeed not that strange.”

Suzu clapped her hands *pon* as though she was convinced of Ryuutaro’s words.

‘That day’ which Ryuutaro mentioned was the time when they were in the absolute great pinch at Orcus Great Labyrinth. Yue’s beauty and overwhelming strength trampled the enemy accompanied with a blue dragon made any watcher even feel divinity. Her imperturbable manner, her bewitching atmosphere that was in contrast with her young appearance, and the slight kindness she showed to Suzu… all of those were just too charming for a high school student, whether male or female.

Similar to how Suzu came to yearn for Yue as Onee-sama, several male students (and a part of the female students) had their heart stolen by Yue that day. Ryuutaro was just one person among that group.

“Don’t say this to the others, okay?”

“That’s, well, Suzu won’t talk. Saying that will only damage Ryuutaro-kun. Rather, isn’t it better if you didn’t tell Suzu?”

“… Certainly, that’s true but…”

“Aaa, is it something like… you want to tell someone else, just for once?”

“Ain’t you sharp? Well, something like that. It’s something like complaining, my bad.”

Looking at the wryly smiling Ryuutaro, Suzu also returned a wry smile.

“But, challenging the opponent from the front with angry feeling and turned ragged like that is unacceptable, isn’t it?”

“… That bastard’s mug was irritating. When I recalled it, it made me want to punch him flying again.”

“I think you can just use a mirror for that.”

Suzu made a complicated look at Ryuutaro who confirmed he had gone through a really strange trial, but before long the end of the road became visible ahead. It seemed that while they were talking they had reached their last stop.

“O? It’s the next room.”

“Please, Kaori or Tio-san be there…”

Suzu who wanted to ask for healing clasped her hands in prayer while approaching the ice wall. The ice wall reacted to them and melted, opening the entrance toward the room inside.

In the end… it seemed Suzu’s prayer reached.

“Kyah!?”

“Uoh!?”

The moment Suzu and Ryuutaro entered the room, the assaulting shockwave and the torrent of magic power made them reflexively scream while covering their face with their hands. And then Suzu somehow deployed a barrier, ahead of her gaze was the figure of two Tios, both of them raising one of their hands while firing black and pure white flashes at each other.

The opposing two colored flashes were clashing right from the front in the middle of Tio and the false image of Tio wearing white kimonos and hair that was white like snow. The two flashes were swallowing each other. The shockwave that trampled the room of ice was created from the collision of the two breaths.

{Fufufu, I feel it. Thy hatred and rage. The fear and resignation. No matter how many hundreds of years has passed, that tragedy that cannot be forgotten, the betrayal of the people thy protected as easy as flipping over one’s hand, the gazes of scorn and fright, the murder of thy comrades, friends, parents, the humiliation carved on their corpse.}

“…”

In the middle of the space that was dyed with white and black flashes, the false image of Tio was floating a repugnant smile while talking with a voice that was resounding with excessive clarity. That was the memory of the great persecution that erased the dragon clan from history five hundred years go. They were the strongest race of the strongest country, however, they by no means displayed arrogance. They were the greatest country that was far unrelated with the violent rule, and it was their last.

Because the dragon clan was few, the country they managed didn’t differentiate any human or demi-human, they had prosperous coexistence between various races. They protected the powerless, supported the weak, opposed when evil appeared regardless of country, hoisting morals and virtue right from the front. Such way of life was a joke, but they were undoubtedly persisting in that ideal. Besides the people of their own country, the surrounding countries even extolled the dragon clan as exactly the ‘true royalty’.

Everyone was saved and protected by the dragon clan sometime, somewhere, by some kind of reason. Everyone held respect and idolized them.

But, such days suddenly met their end.

―Dragon clan was a monster.

Such foolish thinking was spreading among the people so rapidly like a nightmare. Throughout the continent, no matter which clan you looked at, there was no race that could completely transform into another race. That overwhelming strength and the beastly appearance of complete dragonification were certainly something that blurred the boundary between human and monster.

Even so their achievement until now and their noble way of living couldn’t possibly be denied. Regardless the moment such thinking was spreading, the eyes of the people changed from reverence to fear, from trust to doubt, and then from aspiration to disdain.

{O thee. At that time, it was quite an exhilarating feeling, wasn’t it? Remember, that time when thou smashed the church into dust. Even that time of great persecution, the fellows who cornered us and united all the countries together against us were the church. Trampling the hateful enemy, it was an indescribable pleasure wasn’t it?}

The false image talked. In the front, Tio said that she was helping up Hajime, but actually what truly made her delighted was accomplishing her own revenge. At the end of the day, for Tio Claus, rather than Nagumo Hajime’s life and death, the most important thing for her was obtaining the just cause for the sake of her revenge, the false image said.

Hearing those words, Suzu and Ryuutaro that usually only knew the figure of Tio who was always frankly showing her affection to Hajime opened their eyes wide in shock and stared at Tio.

However, Tio didn’t even try to protest, she was only staying quiet and kept firing her breath. It was as though she was affirming the words of her false image.

Perhaps getting into a good mood because of that, the tongue of the false image of Tio was getting increasingly smoother.

{At first, even when thou thought of going together with Nagumo Hajime, actually what thou actually thought was to ‘use’ him correct? The power of that man is abnormal. And then, there is no way that power won’t stand out. And, in that case, the mastermind of that great persecution that unnaturally started suddenly―the god too would surely direct his attention at him. And then, just like what he did at the dragon clan who once possessed power, the god would also bare his fang at him again. When that happen, the fang of Nagumo Hajime would be directed at the god too, it might be of assistance for the killing of god, that was what thou thought.}

That was really a calculating thinking. It was a way of thinking that was even more and more distanced from the usual Tio. Suzu and Ryuutaro that listened from the side thought it was unbelievable.

However, the words that the false image of oneself talked were by no means a lie. Even if it was only something slight, even if the person themselves didn’t aware of it, it was certainly an emotion that the person possessed even if by a fragment in their heart. For that reason, looking at the unknown side of Tio who was a pervert with suffering fetish but who sometimes shown gentle and intellectual aspect of her, made Suzu and Ryuutaro unable to hide their shock.

Perhaps noticing the condition of those two, Tio sent a glance at them. At her face, there was no emotion visible at all. Not even cheerfulness, or her joking smile, or her kindness, or the light of intellect, none of those were reflected there. The expression of Tio that they saw for the first time made them swallowed their breath.

{Human, demi-human, the devil, and then god. At that time, thou hate everything who stole those important for thou. But, that hatred, rage, those are something natural for thou to have. ―Yes, revenge, is thy legitimate right!}

The white flash was slightly beginning to swallow the black flash. The rivalry of power began to crumble. Perhaps that was because the words of the false image were shaking the heart of Tio.

Tio remembered. Both her parents were always talking proudly and nobly. In fact, both of them fought in order to let their clan escaped, until the very end they persisted in the dignity of the dragon clan. Therefore, these feeling inside Tio that justified hatred and rage toward other people, the feeling that affirmed revenge, they were betrayal toward her parents.

The mouth of the false image of Tio distorted in a grin looking at the weakened strength of Tio while, slowly, she presented her hand that wasn’t releasing the breath.

{Take my hand. If thou do that, I will enable thou to accomplish that revenge. It’s fine already to not forcefully repress the hell fire smoldering inside thy heart. Thy fang of revenge won’t dull because of the torment of thy conscience. I will skillfully lead Nagumo Hajime. No worry, that man too is not thinking unfavorably of me. He is a sweet man toward anyone who has entered his heart. There are so many ways to do this.}

That was a temptation. A fuel to change the flame of revenge sealed deep inside Tio’s heart into a hell fire. It wasn’t something to hurt Tio’s heart and broke it so it could kill Tio, it was similar like with Ryuutaro’s trial, it was an attack that aimed at a change of mind using temptation. It was also a trap to spur Hajime and co to kill a god by using Tio.

The momentum of the white breath was increasingly getting stronger, the black breath was getting weaker as though expressing Tio’s heart. Perhaps they felt a sense of danger from that situation, Suzu and Ryuutaro were yelling “Tio-san, don’t listen to that!” “Get a hold of yourself, Tio-san!” with expression colored by uneasiness.

The white flash was just about to hit. Was Tio going to be erased just like that, or perhaps she would take the hand of the false image and became a changed Tio that would make use of her comrades. In that case, it was unthinkable if Suzu and Ryuutaro that witnessed this would stay safe.

But, right now, more than the danger to themselves, the feeling of Suzu and Ryuutaro that didn’t want to see the figure of Tio whose existence was a pervert but also a reliable big sister for them, falling to darkness was far stronger. Their feeling was so strong to the degree that they were thinking even if Tio wouldn’t look back at them, then they would just undo the barrier and directly fought the false image.

But, at that time when it seemed that Tio would fall, suddenly a voice resounded. That was the voice of Tio who until now hadn’t said even a single word.

“We, don’t know the meaning of our own existence.”

It was a calm voice. Rather than calling that talking, it was more like ascertaining something inside oneself.

“Is this body a beast, or man? If everything in this world has meaning then where is that answer could be.”

{Those words… }

The false image noticed something and leaked out a murmur. At the same time, she noticed how the progress of the breath she fired stopped still.

“Many months and years without an answer. In that case, whether man or beast, we will hold our soul with determination.”

{-, my strength…, impossible, just what in the world, starts this―}

The black flash was moving forward. With hard effort the white was dyed by black, the stolen distance was stolen back. The false image felt how the strength inside her was weakening along with her pushed back breath. Tio should have been listening all her words all this time while staying quiet. She wasn’t unable to refute for even a single thing, a gap was made in that heart, and she was about to submit to her negative self, that was how it should be.

Despite so, without even any previous sign Tio suddenly made a comeback. While the false image was confused, sonorous words resounded clearly that it gradually even painted out the thunderous roar the breaths played out.

“The eyes of dragon see through the straight truth, destroying deceit and suspicion.”

Although it was the eyes of the beast, it wasn’t something just for the sake of making someone to fall into terror. By possessing intellect as well, it would see the truth and became something for the sake of saving someone.

“The claw of dragon tears apart the rampart of steel, crushing the nesting malice.”

If there were people to protect there, then it would crush any kind of enemy no matter what. The claw of dragon was wielded only for the sake of overthrowing evil.

“The fang of the dragon crunches one’s own weakness, washing away hatred and rage.”

It was a gigantic figure, far separated from man, exactly because of that, they had to strictly discipline themselves. If it was for that sake, then thrust that fang even to oneself. To let one’s body burned in hatred and rage, and lost one’s reasoning, was something unforgivable by oneself.

“Benevolence, at the time that is lost, we are merely a beast.”

If oneself was reduced to wielding power by merely following the emotion, injuring the innocents, let’s recognize it. Themselves were merely a beast.

But,

“Be that as it may, as long as we continue to wield the sword of reasoning―we are the dragonkin!” (TN: All this time the dragon I wrote here in the raw is written as dragon man. But I just write it as dragon because dragon man doesn’t have a nice ring for me.)

Tio opened her eyes wide together with her proclamation. Her pupil split vertically and showed her bestiality, shining brilliantly in golden color. At the same time, the invisible pressure was overflowing from Tio. It was equal to the water pressure of a grand waterfall but different with Hajime’s brutal storm, this pressure was like when someone looked up at a sacred mountain that was far high, causing one to want to lower one’s head to nature. Such coercion―if it was said strongly, then this was what one called supreme will. (TN: Or Haki, like in One Piece)

{… Don’t tell me, thou. Thou were holding back?}

The false image’s expression turned into the unbelieving look. That couldn’t be helped. There was nothing that should trigger this, how even though Tio’s mind should weaken and granted power to the false image, yet she suddenly made a comeback as if it was nothing. There was only one explanation.

Tio was controlling the weakening and strengthening of her own mind.

It wasn’t something ordinary to control one’s mind that it could even trick the trial of a great labyrinth. If every one of Hajime’s group were all fighting cheat, then Tio could be a mental strength cheat.

“O will of great labyrinth. I thank thou. A chance to listen objectively to one’s own true heart objectively cannot be found that easily. Because of the heart, is something like a vast sea, perhaps there is a gap created while I myself don’t notice it and so I made use of thou but… unexpectedly, I collect quite a harvest here.”

Those words caused the false image to comprehend that her assumption was correct and her expression was turning increasingly unbelieving.

{… But, there is no falsehood in what I said! There is no way thy false emotion is gone! Why I’m this easily-}

The words of the false image made Tio calmly narrowed her eyes. And then she strengthened her mind to the degree that it take away the strength of the false image right to the core.

The sleeves of her black kimono and her long smooth black hair that reached until her waist was flapping due to the torrent of magic power, while Tio was standing majestically, her figure where her hand was stretching straight ahead, was so beautiful that surely if Hajime was there, his gaze would reflexively get stolen even if Yue was right beside him.

Not even a fragment of her perversion was showing through, with her standing figure that could be mistaken as a king, Tio put her soul into her words and resounded it.

“Don’t look down on me. Know just who I am.”

As long as one was human, it was impossible to not have a negative emotion. What the false image said about her calculating side, her revengeful heart were certainly existing inside Tio’s heart. But, if the doubt of the false image was to be answered, the answer could be seen from the proclamation of dragon clan’s soul just before this. The oath that was handed down among the dragon clan was exactly the pillar that was toughly supporting Tio’s mind. As long as Tio was a dragon clan, it would be her absolute core that would never break.

If she still didn’t understand from that, then, Tio proclaimed with the pride and nobility of the dragon clan.

“The proud dragon―the descendant of Claus clan, Tio Claus is here!”

That was the answer. Because she was the dragon Tio Claus that she didn’t break. That was all there was to it.

The false image of Tio had no words. In her expression, it looked like there was some kind of understanding, as though to say that she was beaten, she was floating a vague smile that looked like that.

Toward such false image of hers, Tio majestically gifted her last words.

“Thing like fang of revenge… is no compare to the might of the true fang of a dragon. Thou can taste it by that body of thee.”

Right after that, Tio’s breath pulsed, it turned thicker as though it was doubled, not tolerating even the littlest of resistance and swallowed all the white. And then, without stopping it opened a large hole in the wall of the room and dispersed.

Later there was nothing left. After giving a glance at the ice space that was immediately repaired, and the newly appeared ice passage, Tio turned on her heel without looking especially happy or moved.

Looking for the result she was unwounded. She waved the sleeve of her black kimono gracefully and elegantly brushed off the hair hanging in front of her with one hand. That tranquil atmosphere and beautiful gesture, completed with the overwhelming strength of just now, caused words of peerless beauty to naturally float in one’s mind.

“This is bad… it’s like, Suzu is going to find her second Onee-sama.”

“I’m not thinking anything at all. Yeah, I’m not thinking anything and I’m sticking to that. God dammit.”

Perhaps the conversation between Suzu and Ryuutaro reached her ear, Tio turned her gaze at the two and smiled gently. Even that smile made the two of them completely flurried with every bit of it.

“Both of thou are safe. For thou both to arrive here means you have passed through thy trial then?”

“Ye, yes. So, somehow…”

“O, ou, desu. We passed, desu.” (TN: Ryuutaro here suddenly used a polite language.)

Tio tilted her head toward Suzu and Ryuutaro who was behaving strangely. Even such gesture wasn’t something good for the heart of the two currently. Even though normally she was just an excessive pervert, this gap was just foul! The two of them wanted to make that tsukkomi with a loud voice. Especially Ryuutaro.

Even while feeling confused about the state of the two, Tio looked at the passage Tio and Ryuutaro passed behind them.

“There are only the two of thou that linked up?”

“Ye, yes. We didn’t see, anybody else.”

Nodding “Is that so” at Suzu’s words, Tio made a little disappointed face. And then with her pained expression that caused the body temperature of Suzu and Ryuutaro to increase, even more, she leaked out in a small voice.

“If the master is here, and he heard about my thought when I first met master that my false image exposed―I will be punished right now without delay. Furthermore, it will be an extraordinary punishment without a doubt. How unfortunate.”

“What is unfortunate is you.”

“Unconsciously, Suzu and Ryuutaro made tsukkomis harmoniously. It was truly, truly unfortunate… in various meaning.

However, just for a little, it was relieving to see that Tio was really a pervert just as expected, but it felt like losing somehow to feel that so they absolutely wouldn’t say it out loud.

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Arifureta Chapter 145

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

http://ncode.syosetu.com/n8611bv/146/

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 was translated by Tingle. Elementalcobalt did the final edits.

Surprise! Double Release!

 _________________________________________________

First Big Fight

Kaori had left the passage and stepped through the shining doors leading out of the maze. Just like for the others, she was now fighting with her false image which had appeared from the huge cylindrical ice pillar in the middle of the vast space.

Ever since the whispers started back inside the great labyrinth, Kaori had been feeling as though she was being dragged little by little into a bottomless swamp.

She had to fight while being relentlessly shown the filthy and ugly parts residing deep within her heart. Originally, since she was jealous of Yue and had an inferiority complex to the point even she was aware of how bad it was, she had ample negative emotions. Therefore, the words spoken by her false image struck her and hollowed out her weak parts with more efficiency than a sharp knife and more accuracy than Hajime’s bullets.

It had been thirty minutes since the start of the battle. Kaori’s heart was already badly hurt even though she wasn’t hurt that much physically. If her heart could appear as a physical object, it would definitely be in a tattered state, bleeding large amounts of blood, and squeaking in pain.

However, even so, Kaori never flinched. Her inferiority complex, fretfulness, and jealousy were already tested back in the Merujiine Underwater Ruin and she managed to pull through. Of course, she wasn’t able to completely come to terms with her weaknesses since it was a problem stemming from her heart, and Yue was part of that problem.

Rather, when Shia’s love was accepted by Hajime, she felt intense envy and rage in her innermost thoughts, and would also feel it unintentionally every time Shia would approach Hajime while putting on a lovely face.

However, it was also true that she felt blessed. She wasn’t only caught in fretfulness, jealousy, or her inferiority complex. She wasn’t only belittling herself and overworking herself in an effort to make up for it. On the contrary, she was also rejoicing at this proof which meant it was possible for women other than Yue to be acknowledged by Hajime.

She had grown. Instead of envying someone else in silence, she would now take a step forward towards granting her own wish. Which is why she couldn’t afford to lose to the image of herself standing before her eyes.

“YaAAAAAAAAA!”

“The speed increased yet again, huh?”

Each time she was wounded by the words fired at her like arrows, her own power would go up little by little. It was proof she was slowly learning how to use Nointo’s abilities as if she was untying scrolls one by one.

At the same time, she felt as though her false image which had taken the form of a gray Nointo was starting to weaken.

While being assailed, wounded, and made to suffer by her own filthy self, she was able to take it all in, swallow the pain and turn it into power she could use. She was showing a righteous, reliable, and splendid growth. Thanks to sublimation magic, her mastery of the twin silver longswords had almost reached the level of the original Nointo who fought with Hajime.

Then again, the organ which made it possible to receive an infinite amount of magical power was missing, but by using sublimation magic, she succeeded in artificially increasing her body specs to the point she broke through all limits.

Now, Kaori and her false image both took out their high-speed swords fluently while creating afterimages. It seemed this trial had made Kaori grow up after putting her through suffering and pain.

“I won’t lose! I’ll become a good woman who will lose to neither Yue nor Shia and I’ll get Hajime-kun to look at me! I’ll protect the people I want to protect, and return with everyone to Japan!”

“… It doesn’t look like I can break you with words anymore… fine. Come at me with all your strength! Cut me, your weakness!”

The battle was getting to its most interesting part. Locking sword to sword and pushing, they were staring each other down with contrastive pupils as the twin large swords illuminated them with silver light. Kaori’s pupils blazed with determination while the pupils of her opponent were as calm as the surface of the water in a peaceful lake.

Incidentally, the fact that Tio was not included in her declaration was merely due to inattention.

Then, intuitively they understood that things would be settled in the next move after they broke the sword lock. They both simultaneously tried to repel the opponent’s twin swords. At that time…

“ZuDooOOOOOOO!”

The terrific sound of an explosion echoed through the chamber.

“Fue!?”

“Wh-What!?”

Still engaged in a sword lock, they were dumbfounded at the sudden disturbance. Their eyes were wide open in astonishment at the shapes which emerged before them from the flames caused by the explosion in the wall. Standing before them were Shia, whose usamimis were fluttering, and Yue.

Furthermore…

“Saa, Yue-san! If you don’t want to end up completely beaten up, hurry up and apologize!”

Kaori stood open-mouthed with a silly expression while looking at Shia who made a declaration of war and thrust Doryukken at Yue.

Things had been going very slowly so far, and now that it was finally the long awaited time for the climax, they were suddenly interrupted by the affairs of other people.

Kaori and her false image were exchanging glances while engaged in the deadlock. Then, seemingly having understood each other’s thoughts, they nodded to each other. Kaori strengthened her resolve and raised her voice towards Yue and Shia who were confronting each other.

“Ah, Ano, Yue? Shia? What in the world are-”

“… Shia. Think about the worst-case scenario.”

“Shut up! My beloved Yue wouldn’t say such a cowardly thing! The ‘special one’ Hajime-san fell in love with wouldn’t give up! What about a worst-case scenario? What would you do if I wasn’t here to knock some sense into you? You coward! You old shorty! You have neither small nor big breasts, you only have a fragment of breasts!”

“… You’re saying things you shouldn’t. Shia, you’re getting far over yourself.”

Kaori was completely ignored. Neither Yue nor Shia had shifted their gaze one bit away from the other. The edge of Kaori’s eyes were gleaming. False Kaori patted her shoulders in sympathy.

At one point, Shia had heated up to the extent she couldn’t restrain herself and started using abusive language against Yue. Then Yue’s words were spoken in a way that implied she might no longer have a future, which gave Shia a stomachache.

As expected, being criticized this much by Shia left even Yue questioning herself a little.

However, maybe she was mistaken about the memories she recalled so far. Maybe the man she trusted the most before being sealed was actually reluctant to seal her. The reason why was a complete mystery. She couldn’t dismiss the feeling he might have wanted to leave words behind before parting.

Why did Shia not understand? It was Shia after all, in whom she had great trust.  So why did she deny her feelings after hearing them? Yue was getting frustrated.

Although Yue’s feelings made her fairly tolerant towards Shia, that tolerance was blown away in one go with the words Shia used.

A vein appeared on Yue’s forehead.

On top of that, Shia mentioned Yue’s breasts, putting emphasis on her own pair of melons. She was shaking Yue like a jelly with the intent to provoke her.

The remarks which were made on her were a bit too difficult to turn a blind eye to. The dark clouds beginning to form over Yue’s head attested to it. That was the residence of Yue’s specialty, ‘Thunder Dragon’. ‘GoRoGoRo’, the well-known roar of thunder resounded.

“… Now is your chance to back down, you deplorable rabbit.”

“That’s my line, you thousand-year-old shorty.”

Distinctive marks of anger rose to the surface of their respective foreheads.

Then…

“Ah, Ano, You two? Let’s calm down a little? I don’t know what happ-”

“… I’ll turn you into a roasted rabbit and teach you the difference in our strengths.”

“Ha, a cowardly shorty with small breasts is no match for me! Today will be remembered as day of the underdog for sure!” 1

From the dark clouds above Yue, the thunder dragon sprang at Shia with a roar. Shia brandished Doryukken and leaped forward with a war cry.

“*Sob* As I thought, I’m useless… …”

“A, Are!? My strength is increasing somehow!? N-, Not good! Pull yourself together!”

“… As I thought, I’m no good…”

“Ah, no, that’s not correct. You’re not useless! It’s just that those two have overheated and can’t see the surroundings.”

For some reason, false Kaori which should have been made from her negative emotions was comforting Kaori who had been totally ignored and was now on the verge of tears, scratching her contorted face. As expected, it seems even false Kaori couldn’t contain her sympathy when she saw her real form being ignored by Yue and Shia.

With a backward glance, they could see the first big argument between Yue and Shia was getting even worse.

“Reflect a little on what you’re saying! You horny granny!”

“Ts,… You’re the one who’s horny with your useless tits. You perverted rabbit!”

“Ho, Could it be you’re jealous, Flat-chested-san?”

“… You damn peeing rabbit. You can’t control yourself once more.”

“Ugh, just when did this story you’re bringing up happen! That’s cheap! You ‘Rounding measurements, isn’t it completely flat? In fact, isn’t it better like this, as a chopping board?’ woman!”

“… Long! Rather, don’t go around deciding my breasts mea… I’m not flat-chested! My breasts are decent! You saggy-chested rabbit!”

“M- my breasts aren’t saggy!  They’re just bouncing a little! And Hajime-san likes them a lot!”

Let’s make a revision. Rather than worsening, it seems the argument was getting increasingly childish.

“… Hajime has no interest in worthless meat. He prefers buttocks! Especially the contour from the bottom to the thighs! And he said mine was the best!”

“Th- then I will simply be the oppai master! With my breasts Yue-san can never hope to match, I already did “Pi-”, “Pi-” and “Pi-”! And he was having a great time with them! Even for the contests at night, the underdog is drawing near!”

And thus, Hajime’s sexual inclinations were nonchalantly being spoken of.

If Hajime had been here just now, he would have been the one getting hurt.

“… I’m the one who taught Hajime night skills. I’m also the one who taught Shia combat skills. I know everything!  I’ll show you that no disciple can hope to defeat the master!”

“Bring it on! The disciple will surpass the master! Be it at night or during the day! Today, right here!”

Shia poured magic into Doryukken and used it to hit the ‘Thunder Dragon’. For a moment, the shape of ‘Thunder Dragon’ was completely smashed, however, it immediately reformed itself and opened its jaws wide in an attempt to swallow Shia.

But Shia, with breathtaking speed, had already slipped past the ‘Thunder Dragon’ and was closing in on Yue.

Yue intercepted her by summoning a space barrier using space magic. Moreover, she tried to use the resulting shockwave to blow Yue away.

However, using sublimation magic to increase her physical strength twofold, Shia withstood the shock wave with unbelievable physical resistance.

Sublimation magic was a magic that enhanced the level of everything.

Naturally, since it depended on the quantity of magical power used, the enhancement only lasted while sublimation magic was active, and being an age of gods magic, its consumption of magical power was overwhelming.

Still, it was obvious that the effect granted by this magic was tremendous, and now the physical strength of Shia who was using it had surpassed Hajime’s non-strengthened physical strength. A half-hearted attack wouldn’t even leave a single trace on that body.

“How soft! It’s going to take much more than that to stop me!”

“… You cheat character! Hurry up and go down!”

There was the booming sound of an explosion, the ice walls, and the ground’s surface was breaking, and ice shards were flying around. Flames were scattering in the air as the thunder scorched everything in its path. Then a shock wave ran through the entire place and the sound of another explosion followed as magic was being unleashed over and over again all over the place.

Yue and Shia’s high level of commitment could be seen through the high-level battle which was getting increasingly violent, in contrast to their earlier argument which had steadily become childish.

“Yue-san no… etto, eto, baaka, baaka!”

“… Shia no… Shia no… Ahou~!”

It seemed they had used up all the insults they knew.

In the corner of the room, Kaori and her false image, who should originally have been the protagonists here, were sitting on the floor grasping their knees. Their faces blank, they were watching the huge fight between the childish Yue and Shia who didn’t seem to comprehend that battles were lethal.

To think that Kaori and her opponent had reached the point of climax, and as Kaori was about to clear the trial, she was suddenly interrupted by this battle… Only to hear words such as ‘baka’ or ‘ahou’. The scene before her was really idiotic. You couldn’t reproach her for her vacant stare.

“… I’m going.”

“… Don’t tell me, are you intending to go and try to stop them!? You can’t, you’ll die!”

False Kaori suddenly stood up from her sitting position. And then she said she was heading to the battlefield. Her face was so transparent it was hard to think she had been formed from negative emotions. As if she had just learned the time of her death.

“This room is meant for our trial. It should not be devastated by outsiders. That’s why I’m going. For both my sake and yours, your sake and mine.”

“… You…”

The newfound absurd friendship which had developed between them… maybe the crazy development had set a screw loose in their heads.

“… Make sure to come back. Without fail, safely. I’ll be waiting!”

“Fufu, if you tell me that, I have to make sure to come back.”

They took each other’s hands. It really looked like a scene from a film where a woman was seeing off her lover headed to the battlefield after making an oath to see each other again. Their  emotional limit may have been reached in various ways.

False Kaori reluctantly parted her hands from Kaori, turned around, and glared at the two cheat characters with a resolute expression.

Then…

“Shirasaki Kaori, a false image of the trial, I’m off!”

“Please, please, be safe!”

She stepped into the storm of destruction brought about by high-level magic that defied common sense and cheat physical stats.

Immediately after…

“You’re in the way!” X2

“KyaAAAAAAAAAAA!?”

With a swift attack, she was dancing in the air. The trajectory was a beautiful parabola.

“I- you, I mean, me!”

“Ku, I- I’m fine! I can still do it! I’ll definitely show you I can stop them!”

Receiving lightning and a shock wave, the now stained false Kaori flapped her silver wings to rearrange her stance and showed her fighting spirit like a hero. What in the world is making her willing to go to such lengths… In all likelihood, the unfolding situation must have driven her crazy. Because the origin was Kaori.

False Kaori glared at Yue and Shia and shouted with all her strength.

“You two, Cut it out! This is our place! Don’t disturb our trial!”

However…

ZuDoOON!

BaKi! GoGaaAN!

That brave voice was entirely engulfed by the noise of the battle. Neither Yue nor Shia gave her a single glance. They were only seeing each other and had taken absolutely no notice of her whatsoever.

A vein appeared on the forehead of false Kaori. Barging into other people’s room of their own accord, and doing as they pleased as if they were in their own room. Seeing such a scene made her irritated to no end.

“Wh- Why you, then you leave me no choice but to use force! I won’t be taking complaints afterward!”

Flapping her silver wings mightily and leaving three afterimages of herself, she rushed towards Yue and Shia at high speed. She was aiming to attack with her twin swords. Of course, she  did not intend to use the sharp edge of her swords but the flat side to try to knock them out.

First, she would target Shia who had been thrown into the ground by Yue’s ‘Cursed Sky’2. She would quickly move behind her and hit the back of her head.

“You’re mine! Flash of punishment!”

“Aa? Annoying!”

However, voicing her irritation with a voice just like Hajime’s, Shia turned around and easily stopped the sneak attack false Kaori thought to have succeeded. Barehanded, and with one hand at that. What was even more strange was that even though the flat side of the sword was directed at Shia, she had somehow caught the sharp side of the sword with her fingertips. In other words, she had not stopped the high-speed blow from the large sword from the front but pinched it from the side.

“Eeeh!? Th- That can’t be!?”

Shia clicked her tongue at the trembling false Kaori and suddenly pulled the large sword. As false Kaori was pulled forward, Shia seized her neck while taking a throwing stance.

“HauUUUU!”

She was flung away in one go.

Even though it was a beautiful throw describing a parabola, it was not meant to move her out of the danger or the battlefield, instead, she had been thrown with terrific strength like a bullet. Towards Yue.

That is to say, she had just been used against Yue as a human bullet.

As false Kaori’s scream echoed all over the place, Yue who faced her uttered the following words.

“Thunder Dragon, eat up!”

She was attacked from the front by the thunder dragon. The jaws of the sparkling thunder dragon opened wide in wait for her flying form.

“Hiii!?”

Screaming, false Kaori wrapped herself up in her silver wings. Then, she used her silver magical power to summon her decomposition ability at its maximum power.

BOHA! The thunder dragon’s shape dispersed.

Shia who was hiding behind gave pursuit. It seemed she was expecting this outcome before she threw false Kaori. An improvised shield, one could say. It was an extremely savage deed.

Yue’s defense, thunder dragon, had been successfully penetrated. However, she used a gravity ball of ‘Cursed Sky’ to create a high-gravity field on the front.

As a result…

“HeuUUUUU!?”

False Kaori who was still flying was suddenly and forcefully pulled to the ground and slid face down.

What a miserable sight. If Shizuku was here, there’s no mistake she would be furious, even if she knew it was a false image.

Collapsed, face down on the ground, false Kaori moaned a weak ‘Uu, Uu’ as she struggled to get up in some way or another. Then, the moment she raised her struggling face…

“Mugyuu!?”

Her face was trampled down by Shia who had come in pursuit. She was made to kiss the ground once more. Too pitiful a sight.

Shia’s Doryukken weight was increased many fold and dropped onto the ground. Debris was sent flying, incidentally taking false Kaori along. One could easily guess what was shining along with the ice shards fluttering about in the air and which had for origin the area near false Kaori’s eyes…

Without a single care about her, Yue and Shia entered the climax of their battle. Both of them were in a tattered state and showing an unladylike display.

Yue was healed with her ‘Automatic Regeneration’. Shia changed into superwoman mode and was fine thanks to her physical ability and regeneration magic. However, they were breathing roughly due to their consumption of magic. The fact that they weren’t using their demon crystal stones to replenish their magical power was just due to their stubbornness.

“Yue-san no…”

“Shia no…”

Yue summoned an extra-large ‘Thunder Dragon’. It took the shape of a huge arm in the sky and shot forward. Shia created a huge kendama, loaded it with magical power and shot it using Doryukken. They both released an unusual pressure.

And, therein, false Kaori was flapping her wings and flying unsteadily… her eyes lost focus.

Maybe she had not yet recovered from the previous shock.

“Get away—! You, I, get away quickly -!”

“Fue?”

Kaori used both hands as a megaphone to amplify her voice and issue a warning. But, as expected, false Kaori who was barely conscious only gave a dull response.

After which…

“Blockhead!” X2

The thunderous lightning and the red kendama collided in the center, bringing about fierce destruction.

“―!?”

The poor recovering victim who had been silent screamed. Jostled in the air from the white smoke, the victim was sent flying towards Kaori.

Bouncing off the ground several times, she continued rolling on the ground until she ended her course before Kaori. What a cruel fate. There was a certain charm to how she was coughing up white smoke, though.

“Su- Such cruelty…”

“Sorry, my other self. I couldn’t win against the cheat and bugged characters.”

Embracing her worn-out other self who was lying on the ground, tears formed in Kaori’s eyes. False Kaori gave her a faint smile.

“Uun. You tried hard. That alone is enough.”

“… My other self…”

There was a nice feel between the two, but they were the same person, after all, putting aside the fact that the aim of the great labyrinth was to play with the core of one’s feelings.

A threat suddenly appeared above the two who were cuddling close together, ready to deliver the final blow. ‘Bikiriii-’. An unpleasant sound reached their ears as a huge lump of ice began collapsing. Yes, that was the aftermath of the battle. The huge central pillar that supported the ceiling had been smashed and was crumbling, causing, in turn, the surrounding ceiling to collapse as well. And both Kaoris were right below.

“Run away! I’ll be fine!”

“Sonna! I can’t do that! At this rate!”

As expected, the development had become drama-like for both of them. False Kaori who had no way of dealing with the incoming danger was pushing aside Kaori in an attempt to let her escape the danger.

Kaori, with an extremely saddened face, refused to go. It would have been simply fine for Kaori to carry false Kaori in her arms away from the danger, but she was too thoughtless at the moment to notice.

The impact was imminent. The ceiling, as well as countless icicles,  were close, and the next moment they would…

“Quickly!”

“Uu, Un. Understood. Sorry.”

As false Kaori was urging her on, a large sword was thrust at false Kaori’s chest. Along with Kaori’s sweet voice.

“… Eh? Why?”

Naturally, it was Kaori who did the stabbing, making a seemingly displeased expression as she averted her eyes. She answered false Kaori’s unintentional question with a pained face.

“Be, because if your death is caused by something else, maybe I will fail the trial… So before you die, I have to be the one to kill you.”

It was actually a fair argument. Actually what was up with the cheap drama-like conversation so far?

Thinking back, saying things like ‘Come back safely!’, yelling ‘Run away!’, objecting ‘I can’t leave you like this!’. Considering she was up against the voice inside her heart, maybe it could be said she had really been soft from the beginning. Before the disappearing false Kaori, Kaori’s expression was better left undescribed.

“Fufu, you became tough, me. I’m happy about your growth… However, I think this way of ending things was a little excessive.”

The icicles and the ceiling which had been seconds away from crashing started quickly going back to their former place and reforming due to the maze’s restoration function. It was obvious this would happen, just like it always had before.

Moved to tears, false Kaori, whose every effort had been fruitless up until Kaori’s last decision at the end, finally collapsed and disappeared without leaving any trace.

“… This victory feels empty.”

If someone was here, they would probably retort ‘Look who’s talking’. It seemed even Kaori had been fairly influenced by Hajime’s group.

On the other side, Yue and Shia who had mutually met each other’s strongest attacks were panting.

“Haa, Haa…, keho.”

“Fuhe, Fuhe…”

They were breathing roughly while standing on the ground of ice with similar postures. Their magical reserves were running completely dry.

“Don’t say such sad things.”

“…”

“If something’s bothering you, let’s smash it together.”

“…”

“No matter what we’re up against, no matter the situation, we won’t lose. Together, we can do anything. That’s what I believe.”

Shia was reiterating her last speech with a rough breath. Yue, similarly breathing roughly, was listening silently.

“The ones who taught me that are Yue-san and Hajime-san, right? Right now, you aren’t being the same person who taught me that. I absolutely won’t acknowledge a Yue-san who is afraid of some future and silently gives up.”

Shia’s acknowledged beloved ‘special one’ was a person who would not give up under any circumstances and would rely on her and her power to peep into the future. Which is why there was no way she could approve of the current Yue. Not only could she not approve of Yue’s statement, but also of the way things were.

She didn’t know what exactly inside Yue made her pronounce the words ‘in the worst case scenario’, but if there is a chance such a thing will happen, they should not be making an excuse for it but preparing for it instead. Even if her comrades, her family, her friends, and the lover she ought to love were to get involved in the process, they should still be trying to seize the future in which they are all together. The idea of people close to Hajime intending self-sacrifice was unthinkable. Even if it sealed their fate, staying, eating and drinking together until the end, and then perishing together would still be ten thousand times better.

Of course, for her, their probability of perishing was so low she wouldn’t even give it a thought. If Hajime were here and had time to worry about such a thing, he would probably be searching for a way to kill the absurdity instead. Not even one millisecond before his death would he release his boiling killing intent.

And, Yue should be the first one to know that.

“Such a foolish request, you think I’ll listen to it?”

“Shia…”

By now Shia was shedding tears. Irritated by Yue who was mentioning the possibility of no longer being with them, she couldn’t help but imagine this future which saddened her …

She thought that if she beat Yue in this fight that had started as easily as a child losing his temper, she would be able to prove that she had become strong enough to protect Yue and thus blow away Yue’s lack of resolve. But as expected, Yue was strong, and victory was not possible. This fact was disappointing and annoying for Shia…

Shia’s various mixed feelings piled up and saturated. Unable to contain herself anymore, her emotions turned into tears that started overflowing.

Lying on the ground, Yue, who had only managed to turn her sight to Shia in order to watch her, summoned magical power from her demon crystal stone and used restoration magic, before getting up slowly. Then she started crawling towards Shia on all fours.

“… Shia, sorry.”

“Yue-san?”

Looking from above at Shia’s face, out of which tears and a dripping nose particularly stood out, Yue gently stroked her head. With both her gaze and hands, and in an extremely gentle way. Shia managed to stare back despite her field of vision being reduced by her tears.

“…  It’s as Shia says. No matter the past, no matter who I am, it doesn’t matter. From now on, I want to remain all the time by Hajime and Shia’s side. So I will send flying anyone who stands in the way of that, no matter who it is. That is all there is to it.”

“Highu, Th- That’s right.”

“… Nn. Even if something happens to me, Hajime and Shia will definitely do something about it. There was nothing to worry about.”

“Isn’t that obvious, uh.”

“… Nn. Sorry. I made an awful request. Will you forgive me?”

“I’ll forgive you! So, don’t you dare make such a sad request again! Promise me!”

“… Nn. I promise.”

Sweetly wiping the sweat from Shia’s face, Yue lifted her in her arms. Shia tightly clung to Yue. Yue also hugged Shia back tightly.

Time was flowing silently. Things had become peaceful as they were stroking each other’s skin gently.

Yue and Shia had had their first big fight. It was a scene like that of friends having a fist fight by a river beach and watching the sunset after making up as their mutual bond grew even stronger.

A quivering voice reached them.

“… Thank goodness. I really don’t understand what’s going on anymore, but thank goodness.”

“?” X2

Puzzled, Yue and Shia turned their sight to the source of the voice. They saw Kaori’s smile as her cheeks were twitching. Although, due to her promise, her eyes weren’t smiling at all.

“Ufufu, I’m speechless. There was no consideration whatsoever for me. Going completely crazy and throwing my trial into a complete mess, to the point it was almost ruined, and not even having a care in the world. Rather, giving me this ‘Huh, you were here?’ look, ufufu.”

In response to Kaori’s suspicious laughter, Yue and Shia who were still embracing each other exchanged glances. And, at that moment, they remembered. When they were in the middle of their fight, there was something they kept blowing away, trampling down and detonating …

Then, realizing that this was the large room for Kaori, their expression made an ‘Oops’ face.

“A~ E~tto, Kaori-san? For now, let’s calm down?”

“Ahaha, you’re saying something funny, Shia-ttara. Don’t I look perfectly calm?”

… Kaori, the … how about the trial?”

“Nn~? I more or less passed it. By myself.”

Yue and Shia breathed a sigh of relief.

As one would expect, involving her into their fight and leaving her unable to clear the trial, taking into account all the hardships faced so far, would have been beyond forgivable.

However, they froze in place when they heard Kaori’s next words.

“Yes, I defeated her with my own hands. …  After she got beaten up by you two very badly and was in a hopeless situation.”

“… ” X2

“That counts as a win, right? I won’t be told it’s invalid because she was already done in by you two first, right? What do you think about this? Huh?”

Yue and Shia were dripping cold sweat. Kaori came close to the two who were sitting down and   embracing each other. She crouched with a friendly smile. Placing her chin on her knee, her gesture had a certain charm to it, but because her eyes were devoid of color, she appeared rather scary.

Then, Yue suddenly looked the other way and added oil to the fire.

“… Then, it would have been better to use restoration magic on her before finishing her off.”

“… Yue?”

“… It’s not my fault. Rather, it’s Kaori’s, who did her in too quickly.”

“Hawawawa, hawawawa. Yu- Yue-san, that’s a bit … Hum, Kaori-san, really, sorr―”

“Fufuu, Yue-ttara, you’re funny. After completely beating her up and sending her flying, to say such a thing … hey, raise your friendship level with me too.”

Kaori, who had kept sinking ever deeper from the start, kept her smiling face as a vein popped on her forehead and she extracted her twin large swords.

Seeing this, Yue quietly stood up and showed a fearless smile as she answered with all her strength.

“… I don’t mind. A friendship where I am above Kaori and Kaori is under me, I will raise the level of such a friendship.”

“Ufufufufufuu, get blown away!”

“… I refuse!”

Then, flashes ran through the large room that had barely finished recovering from the last intense fight, and thunderous roars were once again heard.

“Fueeeen, Yue-san! Kaori-san! If I may ask, please stop!”

This time, Shia was attempting to calm both sides. The new passage that made its appearance felt somehow like the reward of futile efforts.

______________________________________________________

1:  They use the word Gekokujō. From the Translator: Japanese term roughly translated as the lower rules the higher or the low overcomes the high, source: jisho.org. In our case, juniors (Shia) dominating seniors (Yue).

2: TL: As a reminder, it’s her gravity magic.

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Arifureta Chapter 144

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

http://ncode.syosetu.com/n8611bv/145/

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 was translated by Bakapervert. Elementalcobalt did the final edits.

I did not post a chapter last week as I had a very important presentation on top of a crashed computer. I’m still working on the fallout of my broken computer. On the other hand, I have some good news. Bakapervert has been a translating powerhouse, to the point that I have the majority of the series translated and in my possession. It still needs editing, but as I’m sitting, there should be no complications in finishing this series. Editing is still a 2-3 hour endeavor, and the last 4 some chapters with 7000+ words have been killer, but I see no reason we shouldn’t be capable of completing the story. I won’t speed up releases beyond once a week, but there is no reason the series will be canceled before completion either. Except if I die. Death would probably do it.

_________________________________________________

Completely Forgotten Memory

“FLY AWAYYYYYYY!!”

{GUUUUUH!!}

In a huge space where an ice pillar was located, Shia’s resounding battle yell was followed by a thunderous roar produced from Doryuken. Mixed among those sounds, a Shia with black rabbit ears, a black tail, and black hair crashed into the center ice pillar with a grand impact.

The impact pulverized a part of the ice pillar scattering ice fragments magnificently everywhere. Inside the glittering ice fragments reflecting light, the black Shia, Shia’s false image, was holding her left shoulder, crouching on the floor while lifting her face. There was a bitter smile that seemed to say “You got me” floating on her face.

{Ahaha, you aren’t moved at all, eh? Indeed, it should be a darkness that you are harboring but……}

“That is that. How my family got driven out, how a lot of them lost their lives, no matter how much it was glossed over, no matter how tormented with guilt I am, no matter how much I try to obtain forgiveness, it doesn’t change that I am the cause of all those, those are things that I have to shoulder for my whole life. That worry, that resolve, I have since a long time ago.”

{… What is called the darkness of the heart, is something that will sink people into the bottom of the swamp even with all that you know.}

The part of darkness nesting inside your heart wasn’t something that someone could be liberated from so easily. Therefore, the false image Shia could only laugh seeing how Shia went completely unshaken no matter how many negative words she had whispered since the start of the battle.

“You are me, but as expected you are not everything of me. I understand that the will of the great labyrinth is included in you. If that’s not the case, then from the start you should have understood already that the current me won’t be shaken by words of that level.”

Shia tapped her Doryukken on her shoulder while sending a powerful gaze at her false image who was trying to stand with trembling legs. In those eyes, just as the person herself said, there was not a single waver. For the current Shia, the average mental attack wouldn’t even give her an itch.

Certainly, it was because of her that her family was driven out from the Sea of Trees, and due to that, she lost a number of her family members. For Shia, that was a nightmare that couldn’t possibly be forgotten, an eternal wound of the heart. But she wouldn’t stop moving because of that torment anymore.

The reason was simple. Because Haulia clan was already strong, they chose the path that they walked by themselves. And because at her side, there was her beloved lover and friend.

Her families, including her father Kam who was strong and gentle through thick and thin had sent her off. Hajime, who was entrusted with Shia by Haulia, had accepted Shia from the bottom of his heart. Yue, who sometimes was like her big sister, sometimes as her best friend, always allowed Shia to nestle close to her.

For herself who was that blessed to ‘fall’ at her own convenience, was something unforgivable especially to Shia herself above all. She had been completely helped. All this time she had been protected. It was impossible for her to bend her knee just from hearing her own feeling. For the current Shia, she felt like she wouldn’t lose no matter what kind of enemy she faced.

{Indeed, no matter what I say, it’s only me who gets weaker. I see, this trial to ‘overcome oneself’, you have cleared it already from a long time ago.}

“That’s how it is. My important people are waiting so… I’ll force my way through!”

{Fufuh, fine. The last attack, do it to your heart’s content!}

The white and black Shia stepped with a force that pulverized the ground, at the same time they charged while their partner the war hammer burst. Echoing bursting sound and the impact sound that was like the air screaming. Attacks that were respectively unleashed from a large swing while rotating once surpassed the sound barrier and broke through the white membrane.

Two war hammers clashed right from the front, producing a thunderous roar and impact that pulverized the surroundings. A crater with Shia and the false image at the center was created as though an explosion happened.

And then, the one that was blown away was… the black Shia.

The black Doryuken that left her hand was spinning in the air. Black Shia was blown away in a parabolic arc before she flickered and vanished without waiting to hit the floor. She was melting in the air from her legs. At last, when her head was vanishing her lips slightly loosened.

At the ground zero, Shia who was still in her posture of swinging Doryuken went “Fuu~”, she slowly breathed out and relaxed her body. Nearby, *karan, koron* the sound of cartridge falling on the ground resounded.

“Everyone that went ahead, will they think proudly of the current me, I wonder…”

While leaking a wry smile at her own words that naturally slipped out while looking at the ceiling, Shia shouldered back her Doryuken. Ahead of Shia’s gaze, a new passage appeared.

“Surely for Hajime-san and the others, this trial won’t be a problem but… it’s worrying about Shizuku-san and her friends.”

While stepping into the new passage in a rush, Shia thought about Shizuku and her friends whose conditions were considerably beaten up due to the labyrinth, which put a worried expression on her face.

Actually, she never would have imagined that Shizuku would overcome the trial and raise her maiden power.

Shia’s rabbit ears were twitching while she was trotting through the passage when she finally reached a dead end ahead. For a moment, Shia considered whether she mistook the path, but her excellent sensing ability caught a familiar presence at the other side of the dead end causing her to reflexively made a joyful face.

Keeping her trot, she raised Doryuken in order to destroy the ice wall. A passage was created for her. There was no way the passage ahead was a dead end. An entrance would be automatically created there, which was something she could easily imagine, but… her mental tendency was to think “Let’s destroy the obstacle anyway!” Just who influenced her to think like this would be anyone’s guess.

“RYAAAAAhuaa-to-to!”

Doryuken was swung in order to smash the ice wall and as expected, lost its target because the ice wall vanished automatically when Shia was near. This caused her to hit empty air. Shia stumbled from the centrifugal force and flew into the new space just like that.

“A, ahaha, I guess this is how it works if you think about it. So, it opened up. … I wasn’t seen by Yue-san, was I?”

Shia’s cheeks reddened from embarrassment while her gaze was timidly wandering around in wonder whether her failure was seen by Yue or not. Yes, the presence that Shia sensed was Yue’s. Her tension rose up from happiness that she could be reunited with Yue quickly.

In the end, indeed there was a Yue ahead of her gaze. The same as with Shia, at the center of the huge space there was a gigantic cylinder ice pillar, Yue was standing quietly beside it. Her back was facing Shia, so Shia didn’t know what expression Yue was making.

There was no presence other than Yue at the surrounding, Shia could see two other passages other than the one she came out from, so she guessed that Yue had already defeated her other self.

Shia smiled proudly of Yue’s achievement and she was going to call out to her. But, there, Shia suddenly noticed how strangely ragged Yue’s state was.

Of course, Yue had ‘Automatic Regeneration’, so she couldn’t receive an external physical wound. But her clothes were not included as the target of that ability so there was a need to use regeneration magic but… her clothes, here and there they were torn, burned, or frozen.

That was to say that Yue received the attack of her false image time and time again…

Shia widened her eyes slightly. Even if it was Yue whose way of fighting was pressuring the opponent with even more vast pressure while getting attacked herself, based on the nature of this trial Shia thought Yue would be able to clear it unharmed.

Furthermore, although she had defeated her false image, Yue didn’t advance ahead. Far from that, she didn’t even repair her clothes and stood while thinking deeply of something. From how Yue was slightly looking up without the slightest twitch, it was possible that she hadn’t even notice Shia’s entrance.

Toward Yue who was drifting off in an atmosphere that felt hard to approach, Shia slightly hesitated. She took a deep breath and raised a determined voice.

“Yue-san!”

“… Shia?”

Toward that bright voice that reverberated in the room, for an instant, Yue twitched in surprise before looking back over her shoulder. And then, looking at the figure of the smiling Shia there her eyes looked down.

“Shia… the rooms are connected?”

“Yes. That’s how it looks like. I cleared the trial, passed the newly created passage and arrived here. Yue-san, you have cleared yours too, haven’t you?”

“… Nn. No… problem.”

Shia only confirmed her result without mentioning the terrible state of Yue’s clothes. Perhaps finally noticing her own state due to that, Yue used regeneration magic while glancing a little embarrassedly at the unharmed Shia. In an instant, her clothes were repaired.

Shia felt lost inside her heart. Should she ask her whether something happened or not?

Yue was obviously shaken from the words of her false image. To the degree that she excessively got hit, to the degree that she even forgot to fix her state, to the degree that she didn’t notice Shia’s approach.

Just what in the world was said to her? Yue’s appearance was unthinkable to come from how she normally was. That was how severe the words were that the false image had told Yue. For that reason, what kind of words should Shia say to the shaken Yue, or should she snuggle close to Yue until Yue had put herself in order. Shia was hesitating between the two choices.

(Just what in the world… Yue-san didn’t seem particularly affected in the labyrinth. I didn’t think Yue-san could be shaken by being confronted regarding the relationship between Hajime-san and us. I guess, the darkness of Yue-san’s heart, it might be the betrayal three hundred years before… hmm, even that feels like it’s already too old for the present…)

Exactly because Yue was important to her, the inside of Shia’s heart kept muttering like that.

“… Shia, I’m fine. Rather than that, let’s advance forward.”

“Yue-san… you are right. Let’s quickly reunite with Hajime-san and others!”

“… Nn. I want to quickly meet Hajime.”

“Fufu, that’s right!”

Yue guessed what Shia was thinking and made a wry smile while urging her toward the new passage.

Yue was obviously not ‘okay’. Despite this, Shia couldn’t skillfully say any words for Yue’s sake. It made her down to the point that her rabbit ears flopped down and looked withered. But she put herself together thinking ‘when we meet with Hajime-san surely we will manage somehow!’, and with a deliberately bright tone she agreed with Yue.

Like that, the two of them walked through the new passage side by side.

“Everyone, I wonder if they are able to safely overcome the trial? I think the difficulty level is lower than the forest of tree labyrinth but… the condemning here is unique, isn’t it?”

“… Nn, indeed. Perhaps it’s impossible for someone like the hero (lol).”

“Isn’t that right? Because this trial is something like his natural enemy…”

Along the way, the two of them became animated with trifling talk. Yue was nonchalantly handing down a sharp evaluation of Kouki, but in general what she was saying wasn’t mistaken, so Shia couldn’t say anything. Certainly, for Kouki who loved to have a convenient interpretation, this trial that was pushing various things at them was considerably unfit for him.

Although even though they were raising Kouki in the topic, inside their hearts worry for the hero was nonexistent. It was merely the flow of their dialogue, and in any case, it was also Shia’s encouragement toward Yue who tended to submerge herself inside her own heart. Anyway, compared to one of them staying quiet, talking like this was Shia’s consideration for distracting the mood.

Perhaps Yue also noticed Shia’s intention, since she responded to the talk with the an air of humor. However, as expected, after a moment it looked like her mind was going far away somewhere. Her eyes strangely lost focus, wandering as though they were looking at a far distance.

In the back of Yue’s mind, the words of the false image she fought just now were flowing once more.

―Who was the real betrayer?

―You still, don’t remember?

―About your parents?

―What are you, did you forget?

―You are just trying not to think of it?

―You are running away?

―You are really thinking that you can be at his side forever?

“…”

The sneering false image of herself. That fake kept using words that hinted at the tragedy three hundred years ago.

Three hundred years ago… Yue was the inheritor of the throne of the vampire clan’s country. It was a small country, but it was a country so powerful that it was extolled as the country of a small fierce god.

The reason for that was the characteristic of the race of the vampire clan. Through the intermediary of blood, they strengthened their body, magnified their magic power, and lengthened their life. There was no other race with such a power. The act of sucking blood itself also made others harbor thoughts of awe.

The one born of the direct royal lineage of such a country was Yue. She stood out with beauty and overflowing magic power causing her to be given expectations since she was a baby. She had the natural talent to absorb all the magic and knowledge taught to her. Unfortunately, she didn’t have talent in martial arts alone, but Yue’s existence was so clearly above the rest that such a thing could be decided to be unnecessary.

And then what guaranteed her status was the cheating ability she manifested at the age of twelve. The direct manipulation of magic power and the ability to configure the magic circle by imagination, and then the characteristic magic ‘Automatic Regeneration’――those were terrific abilities just like those from the characters who were recorded at the age of the gods.

At that time, there was so many countries in number that couldn’t be compared with the present, the war only kept intensifying, but Yue who was dispatched on the battlefield as ready fire power for her country amply exhibited her strength, trampling down the enemy literally like a fierce god.

As the result, Yue’s fame and awe increased, and at seventeen she ascended to the throne.

At twelve, she was smeared with the killing intent and hatred of the battlefield, and just five years later she became the pillar that supported the country. If it was a normal girl, surely she would be crushed by the pressure and her mind fall sick. But Yue was too strong and wise to be crushed from that.

There was also the help of her trusted vassals and her uncle who was the prime minister. After that too, Yue bet everything and offered her all for the country’s sake. he protected her country throughout the war. She believed that she would keep protecting them just like that.

Until that day when her most trusted uncle along with his subordinates came to kill her.

After two years passed since Yue succeeded the throne, she noticed that a strange distance was created between her and her uncle. No, honestly speaking her uncle began to avoid Yue. And his subordinates were also the same.

Yue at that time was very perplexed at the sudden distance with her uncle, who in a certain meaning she had contact with even longer than both her parents. While worrying whether she had made a mistake that displeased her uncle, several times she tried to create a chance for the two of them to talk.

However, ultimately the chance for the two of them to speak frankly with each other didn’t come to pass when she noticed a gap had been created in their relationship and a few more years passed.

Furthermore, unnoticed by her, the awe of the people toward Yue changed into simple terror toward a monster. Bad rumors regarding Yue were flowing without pause. Her great service in the battlefield for the sake of protecting her country was ironically spurring those rumors.

The people who she trusted the most had already left Yue’s side with no one remaining. In exchange, her uncle’s political power was increasing and people gathered around him. Such a thing happened to an unnatural degree.

And then, that final day arrived. The day of destiny.

At the time while she was welcoming an envoy from another country in the throne room, her uncle along with his subordinates in full equipment rushed in. And then they slaughtered without question her. These close aides that were from the faction of the previous king and queen, their killing blade, killing intent, were also directed at Yue.

While Yue was dumbfounded, her body was hit with lethal attacks many times. Her ‘Automatic Regeneration’ instantly recovered her wounds, but even so Yue was at the height of confusion, no, Yue was denying the reality and didn’t even try to counter attack. Then she noticed she had been sealed with her body unable to move, and in the middle of transport to be imprisoned in that abyss.

Looking at it objectively, what happened could only be seen as her uncle aiming at the throne of the king due to his ambition causing a coup d’état. Actually, Yue herself submitted to reality and came to think that her uncle betrayed her during her three hundred year imprisonment.

But, but…

(… Why didn’t un… that man, kill me?)

That was right. That strangeness Yue only realized now while being sneered by her own false image.

That day of destiny. Yue didn’t resist the betrayal of her uncle. All this time, Yue was convinced that her uncle helplessly sealed her because he couldn’t kill her due to the ‘Automatic Regeneration’. The absolute darkness of three hundred years, and then the overwhelming isolation had stolen all thought of  any other possibility.

But, ‘Automatic Regeneration’ wasn’t absolute. It was dependent on magic power. If her magic power dried up, then she wouldn’t regenerate. It was possible to kill her if she was continuously attacked until her magic power ran out. In actuality, Yue didn’t resist because of the extreme shock and in the end, her magic power was considerably decreased because she regenerated too much.

Her uncle should have killed Yue.

(… He was strong. He was at a level above the rest both as a politician and also as a fighter. For such a man to fail to kill me at that place… was impossible.)

In the back of Yue’s mind, the memory of three hundred years ago was resurrected vaguely. The truth that was pushed at the deepest recess of her mind inside the darkness was coming back little by little in a clearer image.

(… That man didn’t kill me, but he had to seal me. … Why is that?)

Yue immersed herself in her thought and traveled down memory lane. A nostalgic voice resounded in the back of her mind. A tone of voice that was gentle, yet painted with sadness and frustration, and also guilt to the utmost.

(―, I’m sorr―. Other than this, there is no other wa― Someday, surely, ―a person you can lean on will appear. If it’s that person, surely they will protect you from―without fail. ―, I, do something like thi―. But, don’t for―. ―e, I love―)

Blond hair exactly the same as hers. Red eyes. Face with standing out wrinkles carved from hardships. For Yue who was hazy due to the effect of the seal and the mental burden and the heavy consumption of her magic power, she couldn’t listen to everything. But, one thing that she remembered― was the sensation of the hand lovingly brushing the cheek of Yue that was sticking out from the cube that sealed her.

Yue quietly brought her hand to her cheek. Somehow she felt like she could feel the warmth of that time. That was a warmth different from Hajime. If she had to say, it was like what a parent would direct toward their daughter…

(… I, was thinking of that man as a father? But, that’s, my real Otou-sama and Okaa-sama were…)

To someone who should be a betrayer, who should be a hated enemy, a fragment of her memory was contrary to her expectation. She searched for her true parents deep in her hazy memory.

However, no matter how hard she fished at the shelves of her memory, no proper recollection came out. But rather than forgetting, it was more like there was no impressive event with them that she could remember even after three hundred years passed… that was how she felt.

On the contrary, she had the feeling in her fragmentary recollection of her parents, that they somehow resembled closely the atmosphere of the people of the country that she saw at the trial of the Merujiine Undersea Ruins.

It felt like an ice block slid down Yue’s back. Chilling shakes assaulted her whole body.

(… Don’t tell me, Otou-sama and others were…)

After she started doubting, unnatural memories kept coming out the more she pulled out.

Based on Yue’s memory, the war at that time was also heavily influenced by religion with no exception. But she thought that her country was unnaturally thinly related with such thing.

Even after Yue was enthroned, when she came into contact with the religious envoy her uncle would also attend with her without fail. In the first place, as long as the situation wasn’t something that was really important then it would be her uncle that would deal with all that.

Her uncle was deeply knowledgeable and wiser than anyone. If it was about domestic affairs, if it was on the battlefield, he was a powerful familiar user that made use of several monsters. But, now that she thought about it, it felt like he was off the proper track as a vampire.

Both of Yue’s parents treasured her and raised her up like a princess, they would give her anything she wanted and allowed anything that she wanted to do, but now when she looked back, rather than seeing it as love of parents toward their child, it felt like more of a respect and affection for her.

Rather, it was her uncle that gave her love as a parent.

Yue suddenly recalled.

(… That man when he began to put distance with me… he looked really painful.)

Her uncle, after one year past her enthronement, was constantly frowning in distress, it was like he was rapidly aging. That change was surely unnoticed except only by the people who were extremely close to him. Yue at that time was also feeling very worried at the same time when she was feeling anxiety and sadness from their distance.

Her uncle betrayed her for the sake of his ambition and imprisoned her for a very long time inside the prison of darkness. Yue believed that, but she was shaken by the words of her false image, a fragment of her resurrected memory was slowly showing Yue another possibility.

Surely, looking at it objectively, being imprisoned in endless darkness had fixed itself in Yue’s memory completely. If she didn’t hate someone, didn’t throw away her hope and soaked in despair while passing her time apathetically, her heart wouldn’t last. That was why she firmly took the reasoning that looked the most correct as truth.

But…

(… I mistook my memory?)

By any chance, there might be something different to the truth. Yue who began to think so and once more asked a question.

That was… why did her uncle have to seal her?

At the same time, the words of her false image flashed.

――You really think that you can be at his side forever?

“…”

Terror ran through Yue’s body. Reflexively, she embraced herself tightly to repress her body that was going to tremble.

Hajime was the light for Yue. He appeared by tearing apart the darkness, illuminating, warming her, a light that gave her peace and happiness. To lose that, was the same as death for Yue.

But, if, if it turned out that she couldn’t stay by his side…

“Yue-san!”

“!? Ah, Shia?”

When she noticed, Shia had caught Yue’s shoulders and stared at Yue from the front with a serious gaze. Just how much had she immersed herself in her thoughts? When she noticed, the end of the path was visible behind Shia who was looking at her, It seemed they had walked until the end of the path.

Shia released her hand from the absent-minded Yue’s shoulders. This time, she grasped Yue’s two hands tightly. She clasped those hands to her chest in order to transmit her existence and warmth to Yue even for a bit.

“Please talk, Yue-san. What was said to you?”

“That’s…”

Shia threw away her hesitation looking at Yue’s abnormal condition and asked straight. She thought that she must not wait anymore to deal with Yue because there was no more time for careful consideration.

Shia was staring from really close as though to peer into Yue who was speaking ambiguously. Looking at Shia’s determined face, Yue felt that she couldn’t avert this talk and sighed deeply.

“… I’m sorry Shia. I myself still haven’t sorted this out.”

“You cannot talk about it?”

“… Nn. I was told of various things about the past… my feelings toward Hajime and Shia is not shaken at all so there was no problem with the trial but… from that, there might be a mistake in what my memory remembers. I want to sort it out, so wait for a little.”

“Is that so…”

Shia didn’t seem like she could accept it. Her hands were grasping Yue’s hands tightly and didn’t loosen at all.

Thinking back, Shia had really come far and become strong, Yue secretly smiled of that. And then she considered while looking at her grasped hands.

Even though she was just a regretful rabbit that could only run away and cling to other people, she desperately worked hard, followed them with her all, and before they realized it, she had become like this, someone that could protect them. She even made the obstinate Hajime surrender. Perhaps she couldn’t even call her as someone like her little sister anymore. Now she was a splendid woman.

Perhaps because of that… the words which welled up from her bad premonitions leaked out from Yue’s mouth.

“… Shia.”

“Yes. What is it, Yue-san?”

“… If, if, something happens to me then please take care of Hajime.”

“…”

Those words were entrusted to a beloved person, with a serious gaze. For Yue, those words were the greatest and highest words of trust.

But, Shia who was entrusted with those words…

*PAN-!!*

“!?”

Returned a slap.

It wasn’t done with body reinforcement, but even so, it was a serious slap without any mercy or holding back. The eyes of Yue whose head was turned away from the snap widened. She returned her gaze at Shia, there, she met eyes burning in rage that she had never witnessed until now.

“… Are you joking?”

Her voice too contained rage that she had never heard until now. Shia’s body was trembling, surely from the overflowing emotion that she was currently repressing. Even her atmosphere, it was like the scorching magma that she experienced at the Guuryuen Great Volcano.

It was Shia’s serious fury. That great pressure and rage made Yue stiffened for a moment.

She immediately opened her mouth to make an excuse.

“You, you’re wrong… I, if it’s Shia…”

“So it’s not a joke?”

Shia confirmed with scorching tone while taking a step back from Yue. She then abruptly shouldered Doryuken. She looked down at the dumbfounded Yue with dangerously narrowed eyes. And then, Shia opened her mouth with even more scorching low voice.

“I don’t know what you were told about, but you really turned into a pathetic coward, didn’t you? That pathetic face, I’ll put it into shape together with your guts.”

“… Shim Shia? Wa―”

Toward Shia who was releasing tremendous rage, Yue tried to tell her to calm down. At that moment, an attack of Doryuken without a single drop of mercy was swung at her.

Yue barely back stepped to dodge the horizontal sweep. Doryuken passed by and impacted the ice wall at the side without stopping, pulverizing it with a thunderous roar. Although the ice wall began to regenerate immediately, the radial hole that was instantly created showed Shia’s seriousness.

“… Shia. This joke has gone too far.”

“Joke? Are you still saying cowardly thing like that after it has reached this point? If you don’t understand, then I’ll say it clearly, I’m serious here. If you don’t withdraw your previous joking statement… yes, I, will seriously wreck up Yue-san.”

“… Shia, I’m seriously-”

“FLY AWAY! SHAORAAAAAA!!”

“!?”

Shia’s Doryuken was swung fiercely once more. The speed of the swing surpassed the sound barrier and generated a wall of air like a white membrane, right after that, *PAN-* a bursting sound exploded. And then, the ice wall of the passage that was hit was pulverized into very small fragments with just one attack.

Yue desperately evaded that attack in the narrow passage with few places to dodge. But in the first place, close range combat wasn’t her specialty. She was already surpassed by Shia who specialized in that range. It was clear that she would be immediately cornered.

Yue thought that she had to restrain and calm Shia down first. She resolved herself and stood her ground in the storm. In a moment, the war hammer was swung down with a terrific momentum from above. That grazed Yue’s right shoulder and pulverized her shoulder bone just from that.

Even while staggering from the pain and impact, Yue left that kind of wound to her ‘Automatic Regeneration’, invoked her ‘Calamity Sky’ and sewed the swung down Doryuken to the ground. At the same time, she invoked ‘Ice Coffin’ and jumped over the leaning forward Shia.

While turning around, ice was visibly rising rapidly from below Shia’s foot. Just like usual, Yue’s ‘Ice Coffin’ was trying to lock her inside the ice.

But, for the current Shia, there was no way a magic of that level could stop her.

“That’s naïve, Yue-san!”

Doryuken should be hard to move with the weight of ‘Calamity Sky’, even if it could be moved the ice was clinging too close to the body that she wouldn’t be able to break it with Doryuken…  Yue thought that but Shia suddenly raised one of her hands and struck down on the ground.

Instantly, *DON-!!* such shockwave sound was generated while the surrounding ice was blown away with Shia as the center. She blew away the ice clinging to her body by generating an impact with her fist.

Furthermore, without stopping she lifted up Doryuken with all her strength, changing it into firing mode and pulling the trigger without a moment’s delay.

A bullet flew out along with a bursting sound. A slug bullet in a narrow and straight passage ― naturally it was hopeless trying to dodge it and Yue employed a protective wall. Aiming at that, this time Shia fired the slug bullets rapidly. Inside the passage, magic power rippled as faint blue color were spreading in many layers and the grand impact was raging on.

“… Shia! Stop playing around.”

“That’s my line, Yue-san. Have you come to reflect on yourself a little to withdraw your statement?”

“… Why?”

“Why? Do you really not understand?”

“…”

The protective wall was cracked due to the impact of the bursting slug bullets. Naturally, Yue immediately repaired it, but she couldn’t move due to the extreme rapid fire.

Yue looked at Shia across the protective wall. She was looking while frowning sadly, wondering why Shia was that angry toward the proof of trust she gave her.

But, ahead of her gaze ― the expression of Shia who was pulling the trigger of firing mode Doryuken was even sadder than Yue’s, even now she looked like she was going to cry. There was still fury overflowing there, but she was obviously hurt by Yue’s words.

“You said you entrusted, that means the future ahead from there will be without Yue-san there isn’t it…”

“… Shia.”

“Something like that, such a future… do you think I will accept it? Do you think I will be happily permitting it!? Do you think I will honestly say [yes] hearing that!”

The reason Shia was angry was, in other words, something like that. It sounded nice if it was called trust, certainly it was the greatest trust Yue could show, but for the receiving side it was something intolerable.

That was natural. Shia loved Yue. A trust with the assumption that Yue who she loved wasn’t there wasn’t something she could accept with a smile while saying “Yes, that’s fine.”

After Shia fired the last bullet of Doryuken, she stepped forward with a force that pulverized the ground. Yue whose eyes widened in realization from Shia’s words, for a moment, shaved her consciousness from controlling her magic.

That was a fatal opening in front of the current Shia. Doryuken weight was increased up to two tons in one mercilessly strike.

“Guh!”

The protective wall was pulverized, a shockwave along with strong wind attacked Yue. She has blown away magnificently.

In that interval, Shia instantly reloaded Doryuken’s bullet. And then Yue has blown away until the wall of the dead end. The moment the entrance of the passage behind her opened, she was further struck by the bursting slug bullet.

“‘Divine Severance’!”

Once more Yue deployed a protective wall while she was protected by that spherical wall she has blown away into the room from the entrance due to the impact.

From inside the flame explosion that wrapped the entrance of the passage, Shia leaped into the room with her rabbit ears flapping.

Ahead of them was…

“Fue!?”

{Wha, what is!?}

The appearance of Kaori and a gray false image in Nointo’s appearance stiffened in their posture where their twin swords locked with each other.

“Now, Yue-san! If you don’t want to be wrecked up, please say sorry right now!!”

Shia pointed with a snap at Yue with her Doryuken.

… It seemed that she planned to ignore Kaori there completely.

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