Arifureta Chapter 152

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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/153/

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.

Bakapervert translated this chapter. Elementalcobalt did the final edits.

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The Key That Opens the World Door

Along with Hajime and Yue’s words which sounded like a prayer, light explosively painted over the room as well as their consciousness. It was mainly Hajime and Yue’s strong wills supported in the alignment that were filled inside that light.

The large torrent of will made Shia and others unable to think of anything and they fell into unconsciousness, but that was only for a moment. Just before their limp bodies hit the floor, the pure white that overfilled their mind vanished like clearing mist.

Even while staggering for a bit, all present restored their postures and shook their heads. They then saw a beautiful radiance in their sight. Crimson and gold radiances that felt as if they were sucking up all the light covered every inch of the surface of that transparent key. It was a characteristic artifact that looked antique with its crystal form that had a complicated and delicate pattern and twelve exact sides―the ‘Crystal Key’.

“Wait, Hajime-san! Yue-san! Are you two okay-!”

Shia returned to her senses with a ‘hah’ and rushed toward them in a panic. Beside the Crystal Key, Hajime and Yue were lying down with their hands still holding each other while looking like they were passed out. Kaori and others were also rushing in a moment after Shia.

“Kaori-san, the two of them…”

“… Hm, they are fine. Looks like they just fainted. The cause is magic power exhaustion.”

After examining the two with a serious expression, Kaori answered with a smile towards the anxious Shia. The examination result made Tio and others breathe out in relief too.

Kaori extracted magic power from the magic crystal and gave it to both of them at the same time using the technique of magic power transfer. Then, as if to prove that her examination result was correct, Hajime and Yue leaked out groaning sounds while opening their eyes thinly.

“Aa? … What happened?”

“… Nnu. The artifact…”

Kaori explained the situation as Hajime and Yue rose up while shaking their heads, she also handed over the Crystal Key as she explained.

“Both of you passed out from magic power exhaustion. For the moment, I divided the magic power of one magic crystal equally between both fo you. As for the artifact, I don’t really understand it but…”

“I see. Thanks, Kaori. It has been a long time since I passed out from magic power exhaustion. I didn’t really know the right amount needed, so we did it at full strength at that moment but… the next time we will be able to regulate it I think.”

“… Nn. It’s fine. I grasped the trick somehow. Though the problem is whether we can manifest a will to the degree that can be sublimed into the concept.”

Yue answered Hajime’s words while making a pondering look. Hajime examined the Crystal Key in his hand with his magic eye stone. The artifact contained the magic power that couldn’t be compared with all the other artifacts he had created until now.

“… It’s a satisfying result. I feel a large power in it. The sensation feels like the compass of guidance.”

Hajime made a satisfied smile while designating a coordinate towards a certain spot using the ‘Compass of Guidance’ for a test. Then he poured magic power into the crystal key to activate it and thrust it out to the front. Even if ‘Open the door to the desired place’ was said, but if the distance of the destination and the image of the connected place couldn’t be imagined to a certain degree, then the space wouldn’t be connected.

The thrust-out crystal key was similar like the space transfer key-shaped artifact ‘Gate Key’, it plunged into space where there was nothing and ripples spread just like the creator Hajime imagined.

However, it carried a magic power that couldn’t be compared with a ‘Gate Key’. Furthermore, different from the ‘Gate Key’ that had the coordinates fixed beforehand, there was a need to fix the space coordinate with just this one crystal key, so it took a little more time. In addition, it was sucking his magic power steadily.

Hajime frowned at the magic power that was flowing out as though the plugging cork had come out, even so, he still twisted the crystal key next. And the result was the space in front of him shook, an ellipse hole began to open.

From the hole for some reason there was beating sounds *bishi-bashi-* and captivating sound “Aan!” of a woman that were audible.

Before long, inside the gate that had opened completely…

“This shameless female pigggg. I’ll make you ascend to heaven!” (TN: The ascend to heaven should mean die/passing away in Japan, but the kanjis forming the word can also be read as rising to heaven)

“Aa! Kam-samaaa! As expected, from Shia’s honored fatherrr! Amaziiiiing!!”

The drooping figure of Arutena being lashed with an ecstatic expression on her face while the figure of Kam who was doing the lashing were displayed.

The suddenly manifested scene that looked extremely gruesome in a different meaning from the scene some time ago made Hajime and Yue’s jaws drop, as well as every other member other than Tio.

At the same time, perhaps sensing the presence of Hajime and others from across the gate, Kam was turning back with “Oh?” expression, he caught the appearances of Hajime and the others ahead of his gaze and his eyes opened wide with a snap.

“Bo, bossss!? Wh, why are boss’s gate, in this kind of place!”

“Eh? Wait, Shia! Also, Hajime-sama and group too!”

Toward the shocked Kam and Arutena, Hajime and Yue spoke with cool words.

“… Yoo. Looks like we are intruding in the middle of your fun.”

“… Nn. Who can imagine that you two are in that kind of relationship? Shia, live strong.”

“Fufu, oh my comrade, Arutena. It seems that thou found a good master.”

Ignoring Tio who was strangely joyful, Kam was “Thi, thi thi thi thi, this is misunderstanding desuu!”, he was desperately making excuses towards Hajime and Yue’s manner of speaking with a tone that was exactly like his daughter but…

There was a rabbit that returned to her senses while trembling all over. The violent emotion rising up from inside her body became undulating magic power that burst out. Shia who was standing up wordlessly took out Doryukken with a sway. And then with eyes that lost their light, she glared over at Kam and Arutena across the gate. *jakin!* Such sound was raised and the muzzle of the cannon mode for Doryukken was aimed.

“Wa, wait, Shia! You are making a severe misunderstanding! Father is by no means-“

“Shia! Kam-dono is a magnificent person, isn’t he! As expected of Shia’s honored father! I who was only trying to look at Shia’s personal effect just for a little is treated this violently! Furthermore, his strength control is exquisite!”

Kam’s desperate justification was violently smashed by Arutena smilingly. “You bitchh, shut your mouth a bit!” Arutena’s body shuddered all over from the eye glint Kam directed at her. It appeared that it had been already too late for her.

And then it appeared that Arutena was being condemned for fishing through Shia’s left behind personal effects as she pleased. But even though there was such a circumstance which seemed plausible, Shia witnessed this abnormal scene where her flesh and blood father looked relatively high-spirited in swinging the whip against Arutena more or less? A girlfriend of the same age…

“Just die all of you-, these perverts-!”

The trigger was pulled with no questions asked. Burst slug bullets were fired. Hajime closed his eyes with a prayer so they could enter nirvana while closing the gate the moment the bullet passed. Just before the gate was completely closed, there was an explosion sound with audible “Gyaaaaa!” and “Aaaaaan!!” screams, yet there was nobody in this place who paid that attention.

“… Nn. Shia, be strong.”

“It’s fine Shia. That’s… right, that’s only a bit of momentary madness. Your father should have opened his eyes with the attack just now, surely.”

“… Hics, Yue-san, Kaori-san, thank you for your consideration desuu. But, my father surely won’t die with just that much, so before we depart to Hajime-san’s world I’ll stop his breathing first desuu … uu, I’ll make him into mince meat desuu.”

It appeared that in proportion to the amount of magic power the crystal key used it was possible to literally ‘open a door to the desired place’, the experimental use of the concept magic endowed artifact ‘Crystal Key’ which was done casually turned up a result that made a daughter resolve herself to kill her father.

“Aa, what to say, Shia? I’ll correct Kam’s fault, so anyway, stop crying.”

“Uu, Hajime-saan!”

Shia leaped into the chest of the wryly smiling Hajime.

At the side, “Nagumo-kun and Tio-san’s relationship is not that different, though…” those words that Suzu whispered were beautifully ignored.

After that, the members whose expressions were at a loss for words because the serious atmosphere was blown away pulled themselves together as they gathered in the living room once more.

“Now then, in the first testing, there are various bad performances that stood out but…”

Hajime confirmed that everyone had sat down and he lifted up the crystal key so that everyone could see it, and then with a wide grin, he resounded those words, the words of hope.

“The method to go home is in our hands.”

At that moment, it was Suzu who was the first jumping up and expressing her joy. Lured by that, Ryuutaro raised a happy roar while making a guts pose. Shizuku and Kaori hugged each other with a wide smile. Even Kouki whose expression had been dark all this time smiled faintly.

“Even though I say that, to make a concept that will obstruct future summoning, it will be a harder compared to making a concept for going home. Especially as an aspect of the will. It seems that trial and error are going to be necessary, so we still cannot go home for a while.”

“That cannot be helped. Even so just with hearing that we can go home… that’s real… amazing. Hics, Hajime-kun, thank you…”

Kaori was moved to tears while clutching Hajime’s hand from the side tightly.

That ‘thank you’ was filled with various meanings. It was surely also including her feeling after looking at those images. About how he had survived, about how he didn’t give up not any one thing, about how he rushed to her when she was in danger, about how he got angry several times for her because she was important to him, and then now, about how he obtained the method to go back home… various meanings were really filled with that thanks.

Hajime scratched at his cheek using his hand that wasn’t clutched while shrugging his shoulders helplessly, then he gently hugged Kaori back. For a moment, Kaori’s eyes opened wide with her shock plain to see, but she quickly became all smiles and embraced back *gyuuuut* tightly. She also nuzzled her face on Hajime’s chest.

Even Yue gave an expression as if to say “Well, I’ll forgive it this once”. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled to the fawning Kaori.

On the other hand, Shizuku was staring at Kaori with a little envy, but she instantly sent her gaze at Kouki and shook her head and her gaze became pleasant. If she had to speak her mind then she also wanted to be spoiled by Hajime, but thinking about the possibility of Kouki’s unstable mind, she restrained herself.

But, although she was reading the mood she also had resolved herself, to be honest just before this so she was scheming how to secretly get spoiled by Hajime later on. She didn’t understand whether she could overcome her shyness and properly asked to be spoiled but… at the very least she swore that she would hold his hand! She set that small objective.

Despite the fact she had already kissed his cheek, normally Shizuku was thoroughly innocent to the end.

Hajime somehow guessed Shizuku’s sentiment from her gaze where such cute ambition was residing, yet he looked the other way and gently caressed Kaori’s hair while talking about the matter from here on.

“Anyway, I’m thinking to go to meet Myuu and others while also striving to create the artifact for summoning obstruction. Opening a gate to their place is also fine but, the crystal key is something that uses magic power in proportion with the connecting of the space, so if we are going to open a gate until earth then magic power of three or four times my whole magic power is going to be necessary, that’s why I don’t want to use it as much as I can.”

By the way, the twelve surfaces crystal attached at the handle side of the crystal key had the function to store the amount of magic power that could be used to open a gate to earth once. Perhaps it should be said that it was expected from a concept magic that fuel consumption would be extremely bad.

Even the gate he experimentally opened to the sea of trees just now used up a considerable amount of the magic power Kaori restored to him. If it was transportation inside the same world,  using the ‘Gate Key’ was far more convenient although it was necessary to set ‘Gate Hole’ as the destination beforehand.

By the way, ‘Gate Key’ was something developed while they were staying in the capital, so there was none put in the above sea city of Myuu and her mother Lemia. To go meet them, they would use the airship ‘Fernir’.

“Then, during that time when Suzu and others go to the territory of the devil. … since they got their hands on the age of god magic after much pain, it is possible if Suzu wants to go there she can be accompanied by a powerful monster but…”

Thanks to their well rest their magic power and vitality had almost recovered perfectly. If it was now, they could attempt to invoke age of god magic.

But, unfortunately, the inside of the ice and snow cavern only had frost type monsters. Putting aside they were inside the labyrinth where flame magic was hard to be used, it would be easy to have their weak point aimed at in the outside world. Also, their main strong point, that their regeneration ability made use of the surrounding ice, also couldn’t be expected. Saying it clearly, they were monsters that didn’t suit to follow them to the outside world. The reason why there was no frost type among Freed’s monster was also for this reason.

Hearing that, Hajime made a little thinking face and suddenly took out a ‘Gate Key’ that he threw at Suzu. In panic, Suzu’s hands moved and somehow caught it before she tilted her head.

“I and Yue will rest a little more until our magic power recovers completely. That gate key is connected at the gate hole set in Fair Bergen, so how about you try making the monsters from the Sea of Tree follow you? There are a lot of monsters there skillful in manipulating their presence. If you make them submit and strengthen them, I think they are going to be fairly useful.”

“I see… yes, Suzu will try it. Thank you, Nagumo-kun!”

Hajime waved his hand listlessly at Suzu who was smiling in delight.

As the result, Suzu and the others would go to the Sea of Trees to hunt for monster while Hajime and others were resting. Kouki went with Suzu’s group under the pretext of helping but surely that was simply because he hated to be left behind with Hajime, such hypothesis didn’t seem to be wrong looking from Kouki’s awfully complicated expression.

Furthermore, Yue, Shia, and Tio were staying behind. They weren’t going to embark to the devil territory, so it was unnecessary for them to expand their battle strength. Only Kaori who would go with Suzu’s group because she was worried for Shizuku.

After that Hajime and his group for a while focused on recovering their magic power and replenishing magic power into the magic crystal while passing the time in relaxation. Even Hajime was somewhat drifting off the calm atmosphere that he had never shown until now. He even allowed the wanting Tio to an embrace and caress, looking at Hajime who was exposing a somewhat sweet atmosphere, it was Tio herself who was the most shocked.

The procurement of the method to go home surely had granted leeway at Hajime’s heart. Tio who made a pass in the hope to get abused was unexpectedly embraced with gentle gaze and hand gesture, Tio was acting shy and fidgeting bashfully so much that it would make anyone watching want to tsukkomi “Just where has the usual pervert gone!?” while fawning at Hajime with her all.

“Muu, master is kind… I thought that being hurt was the best, but this is also not bad in its own way, or perhaps I should say that this is a frightfully happy feeling. Though it’s also embarrassing to the same degree.”

“Tio-san, if only normally you are also like this, you will be a charming female without any fault at all, yet despite so…”

“… Nn. As I thought, perhaps, Hajime should take responsibility.”

Looking at Tio who was entrusting her body on Hajime’s chest with melting expression while her face was bright red, Shia and Yue were smiling wryly while whispering. Yue’s statement made Hajime couldn’t help but smile bitterly.

“Well, after this far, if I hear Tio calling another man as master as it will really not be a good feeling in that case…”

“Ho, hou? Ma, master. Wha, what kind of meaning it has… by some possibility, similar like Shia, I too…”

“You know, like if a worthless mongrel that I’ve already got attached emotionally at suddenly wagged its tail at another guy as easily as flipping over the hand, it will feel irritating, right?”

“Nnn-, in a moment like this, to be treated like a dog… furthermore it had ‘worthless’ attached. Haa haa, to be spoiled and made to have an expectation before got abused, what an advanced technique. Haa, haa, nnaa, it’s just unbearable!”

The worthless dragon that was in heat eternally pushed her face nuzzlingly on Hajime’s chest while her lower body was rubbing close at his waist. However, looking objectively at Hajime who was continuously making such Tio delighted all the time, he was also just like her. Yue and Shia’s exasperated gazes stabbed on Hajime.

While doing such stupid thing, by the time the replenishment of magic power at all the magic crystals was over, a gate opened once more and Suzu and co went back. Behind the girls, large tiger, and wolf, and then snake and so on, monsters that were high ranked even inside the sea of trees were there. It appeared that they successfully managed to make those monsters submitted.

after that, Suzu and co increased the strength of the submitting monsters using reinforcement under the simple guidance of Yue and Tio. In addition to the help of Yue and Tio, the monsters that were considerably strengthened were attached to the collar made by Hajime. The collar had a gate hole inserted in it if Suzu and co used the gate key then they would be able to call the monsters anytime. In ordinary times, they could just leave the monsters to do as they pleased in the sea of trees or anywhere.

Like that the magic power of Hajime and Yue were also recovered, finally they were going leave the Ice and Snow Great Labyrinth. Hajime and his group would travel around all the places with people who wanted to go home together with them and the people they wanted to say goodbye to while endeavoring to create an artifact to hinder summoning. Suzu, Shizuku, Kaori, Ryuutaro, and Kouki, the five of them would head to the devil territory where Eri was located.

“Hajime-san, here.”

When they exited the ice mansion, Shia handed over a pendant that was modeled after a dripping water drop. Inside the bluish transparent stone that was like ice, the crest of Vandur Shune was hollowed. It was the proof that they had conquered the Ice and Snow Great Labyrinth. After Hajime and Yue fainted, a part of the wall inside the room melted and this proof appeared to be collected.

Receiving that, Hajime walked above the magic circle drawn on the foothold right in front of the fountain. The moment Hajime’s foot stepped into the magic circle…

*biki biki-*

Such a sound was audible and the fountain before their eyes began to freeze, it was gradually swelling up. Like that it became a huge egg-shaped ice mass that was almost ten meters, before long the expansion and freezing stopped, right after that, *barin!* such a sound was raised and the ice scattered apart.

What appeared from inside the broken remains was a dragon made from ice. A magnificent lustrous dragon that looked transparent as though it was created from crystal.

The ice dragon lowered its head directly below Hajime’s feet where its long neck made a slope. It appeared riding this ice dragon was the shortcut for this great labyrinth.

“This is also a fantastical shortcut, huh.”

“… Nn. A present?”

“This consideration is far removed from the repulsiveness of the trial’s content, isn’t it?”

Each of them let out their impression while nodding at each other, then they crossed the neck where the scales were like a bridge and rode on its back.

Immediately after, the ice dragon flapped its wings grandly and ascended in one go. The ice ceiling was approaching in the blink of an eye, but just before they crashed the ceiling melted and a hole opened, a cylinder pillar was created there.

The ice dragon didn’t drop its speed at all and charged into that path.

The sound of cutting wind resounded in their ears and chilly wind caressed their skin, “The only dragon who master can ride is just me… does master want to change rides[ even now?” while enjoying such nonsense from a certain someone, they soared inside the ice tunnel for ten-odd seconds. The ice dragon Hajime and the rest rode finally flew into the visible light of the surface.

They were thinking whether they would be let down on the ground right after that, but the ice dragon didn’t show any sign of stopping at all and continued to climb into sky. And then without stopping it charged into the cloudy sky of the Shunee Snowfield. *Boba!* With such sound, the dragon flew out and it began to elegantly soar above the cloud sea while being brilliantly illuminated by the sun.

“From the position of the sun we are heading to the northwest. … It seems that it is kindly sending us until the border of the snow field.”

“… Nn. Miledi and Meiru should follow this example.”

“I get the feeling that the female camp of the liberator is just unscrupulous.”

The west of the snowfield was the territory of the devil, at the north was Raisen’s Grand Canyon, at the east was Haltina’s Sea of Trees. Advancing at the northwest like this meant that they would be let down at a place where it would be easy to go to the devil territory or to the north continent. Furthermore, they didn’t really feel the cold air of the sky, so it seemed a simple barrier was spread from the intermediary of the ice dragon.

Indeed, they wanted to be spared from getting tossed out into the snowfield of extreme cold after conquering the great labyrinth, but after thinking about the deed of a part of the liberators, “Such consideration!” this made Hajime and others a bit emotionally moved like that.

And then Shia’s guess was surely not mistaken. A woman who was an expert in irritating people, a woman who tossed them into the sea while saying it was a shortcut, a woman who forcefully made people love cockroaches… surely the male liberators in the past was considerably made to go through hardships of this and that which were caused by those women without doubt.

While thinking of such a thing, the ice dragon was gradually beginning to lower its altitude. It appeared they had approached near the landing place. Perhaps the ice dragon couldn’t go out of the snowfield, it seemed that it wouldn’t go through the sky and brought them outside the boundary, it once more plunged into the cloudy sky.

And then it softly landed on a spot that was just a stone throw from the boundary. Hajime and others reflexively said a polite thanks to it. The ice dragon shook its tail as though to say not to mind it and once more it soared and vanished inside the snowfield.

Even while thinking gloomily about the snowfield that covered their sight, the boundary of the snowfield was just right there so Hajime and others moved with quick steps.

But, at that time, Hajime’s senses and Shia’s rabbit ears caught something. The eyes of the two narrowed dangerously.

“Everyone, be on guard. Various things are happening outside the boundary.”

Hajime’s caution made nervousness run through them. Everyone held their weapon in hand while coming out at the other side of the blizzard that blocked their sight.

Over there was…

“As expected you all are coming out from here. It’s the same like my time… And, has every one of you conquered the labyrinth? Oh, white-haired young man.”

“Fufu, Kouki-kun. Long time no see. Are you healthy?”

A white dragon that was two-sizes bigger and Freed that was riding above it, a lot of monsters that were mainly grey dragons, Eri who spread wings of gray magic power, and then, there must be a few hundred of them, many women with the same face growing silver wings ‘the apostle of true god’―Nointo, they all were lying in wait.

Previous | Table of Contents | Next

Arifureta Chapter 151

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/152/

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.

Elementalcobalt translated this chapter. I used help from the Arifureta summaries, which included partial translations from myopius and borisdrakoni.

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Hajime’s Path

“Is it all okay?” In the living room of the ice home, Suzu muttered to herself with an anxious voice while sitting on the sofa.

Therefore, Kaori who also sat on the sofa asked gently. “Is what ‘okay’?”

“Mmm? All of it? Did Nagumo not fall unconscious? Can we return to Japan, truly? Will Kouki be alright? This trip to the demon territory… this…”

After taking this period to rest, it leaves the body with nothing else to do but think about these various things.

Since Hajime had started to make the artifact using concept magic, they had shut themselves up in their room for the last two hours.

When you include the time that Hajime and Yue had fainted, where they had nothing to do, they had plenty of time to recover. This left them time to think about unnecessary things.

“Suzu-chan… we’re safe. Hajime will get past any difficulty. And with Yue by his side, the impossible only becomes possible.”

“Kaori…”

“In addition, it’s up to Kouki to do something about Kouki. Of course, I’ll help as far as I can. As with Eri, I think… yes, we need to charge forward. There is nothing more to it. Thinking too much will only make you tired.”

To the rough encouragement, Suzu responded instinctively with surprising courageousness. “Kaori… has become handsome. You’ve already have become completely influenced by Nagumo-kun.”

“It is different, Suzu. For a long time, Kaori charges when she can decide. Kaori’s decisions, 90% of the time, are to charge forward.”

“Suzu-chan, It is… Shizuku-chan… so cruel… I am not like Ryuutaro-kun…”

“Hey, Kaori… why is being the same as me considered cruel? Am I noticing casual abuse?” Ryuutaro spat out with a bitter expression which concerned nobody.

Though Kaori wore her lips in a bit of sulk, but she took to heart immediately and fixed her eyes on Suzu.

“Anyway, I don’t know how things will turn out with Eri, but I will follow you and help. We need to get out of there in the confusion if things go bad.”

Kaori smoothly declared something frightful, but it was another word that Suzu was caught on. Blinking in surprise, she responded timidly in confirmation.

“Oh, oh, then Kaori will come with me?”

“Of course, I can’t neglect Shizu and Suzu.”

“But, Hajime…”

“It’s the same as Shizu-chan, it’ll be a while before we have the artifact that will allow us to return. We’ll also need to meet up to Lemia and Myuu. I can’t help with the artifact, so I think what I should do it protect Suzu then…”

“Ah… Kaori is… a good child, a really good child… and, thank you very much.”

“Suzu-chan, what’s with the Kansai accent?”

To Kaori’s words, Suzu made a joke while whipping away a tear. She was too embarrassed to return her sentiment seriously.

“If Kaori comes, you should be fine. Hmmm… before this mistress goes to Goshujin-sama’s world, I should return to my clan as well.”

“That’s right, Tio-san. You’re a daughter of the clan. What’s it like, I had forgotten about that.”

“Well, I mean… I guess you’d like to meet the dragonkin?”

“Well, we have space transfer magic set up so we could go there immediately. It’s definitely beyond the mountains in the north – across the continent on a solitary island.”

Tio gave a puzzled look so Shia recalled from her memory. When they left this world, Tio thought that she might not have the time to visit her family.

“Well…well, that is certainly the case. If I could receive jealous love punishment from Goshujin-sama before departing, that will be… let’s double the speed. Return home through the gate!”

“…If we return and her kin sees her ecstatic expression on her face… they will be shocked. It would be good if it doesn’t become a panic.”

While Tio imagined Hajime’s love and floating a smirk, Shia, and the others had a sick feeling while imagining the unpleasantness of that reunion.

After returning and seeing Tio, who has changed into a deviant, what kind of reaction would the dragonkin have? As Shia imagined it, Hajime would need to take responsibility. Shia let out a sigh as she imagined what should be done with Tio’s family.

At that point, the door of the living room made a noise as it slowly opened.

“Did we stay here…”

“Oh, Kouki. You woke up, how do you feel?”

It was Kouki who had entered. It seems he had awoken to find the other members.

Although it was Shizuku’s aim to look aloof, she had immediately hidden her vigilance in a smile while asking about his condition. Kouki smiled back, in the same way, However, it seemed that his expression was shadowed.

“I’m okay, I’m sorry I worried you.”

“Even now, it’s fine as long as you’re safe.”

“It seems that I have recovered.”

“That’s really good.”

Shizuku rejoiced at Kouki’s recovery. Kouki smiled once more and gazed around the room looking for someone. His expression stiffened as if he was getting nervous. Kaori who saw this answered with a bitter smile.

“If it is Hajime-kun, he’s in another room now, so he isn’t here.”

Well…so…so I probably need to apologize for being a nuisance… in various ways, but…”

Apparently, it seemed like he was no longer rampaging against Hajime like he was during the trial. His mental condition seemed to be relatively calm. Rather, it may be more accurate to say he seemed depressed over calm.

“I don’t think Hajime-kun minds, as long as you’re not rampaging anymore he wouldn’t demand an apology.”

“Shia-san… maybe so, after all…”

Kouki wore a sour look full of bitterness. Though Kouki’s recklessness has been troublesome, Hajime did not worry especially because it wasn’t that inconvenient. The way it was, it could be said to be like a child who had a temper tantrum and struck out.

Though it was certainly murderous intent he had faced, the behavior was stupid and Hajime gave priority to avoid hurting Kaori (and incidentally Shizuku). At least, he had not given a great deal of time and effort, his body and heart having become strong enough to shoulder that troublesome burden.

“Did the sleep snap you out of your delusions, or do you still think Nagumo-kun has brainwashed us?” Shizuku asked severely while narrowing her eyes.

Kouki being unhurt and Kouki being in control were different questions entirely. Hajime likely wouldn’t permit him raging out of control a second time, and it needed to be understood that Hajime didn’t kill him despite the killing intent because of them.

After receiving the still voice and glare from Shizuku, Kouki quickly turned his eyes. But Shizuku didn’t permit such spoiled behavior.

“Kouki, don’t look away.”

“Well… ah… I do not think that anymore. At that time, it really seemed like…”

Kouki’s face held a shadowed expression, but he answered firmly while looking up at Shizuku. For a while, Shizuku looked back at Kouki. Likely to try to understand his thoughts through his eyes. Shia acted similarly.

Eventually, although it was hard to say for certain, they were convinced and showed a tentative assent. Shizuku nodded.

“Well, if it is OK… Kouki. Is there anything you’d like to ask?”

Because the atmosphere was awkward, to change those drifting feelings, Shizuku turned to Kouki.

Were those feelings transmitted to Kouki? Kouki floated a small wry smile. He asked what happened after he had fainted.

And… all of the members except Kouki captured the labyrinth. Hajime and Yue looked into the abyss of concept magic. And at the present, they were shut off by themselves trying to create an artifact for their return.

Although Kouki’s expression didn’t particularly change as he remained silent and listened, it was obvious that he had wanted to overcome his native self. When he couldn’t capture the last trial, it was easy to imagine his inner heart wouldn’t be calm.

And has his childhood friend, Shizuku was hesitant on whether she should say was Kouki wanted to hear most. That is what caused Kouki to fall apart in the first place. Kouki made his own convenient interpretations in defiance of Shizuku’s attempt to persuade him.

Shizuku waited for Kouki to ask, but decided that the likelihood that he wouldn’t hear what she said was high given his situation.

“…Kouki, I came to like Nagumo-kun. I want him to see me as a woman.”

“…”

To Shizuku’s words, Kouki’s expression distorted momentarily. The words were told to him by his childhood friend right at his side. However, the reality of it would take a long time for Kouki to recognize. Shizuku appearing on Hajime’s shoulders with a sleeping face that seemed happy and relieved crossed his mind.

“With that, will you follow Nagumo in the future? Nagumo has a favorite, and there is Kaori, too? Shouldn’t you reconsider… Shizuku? It’s kind of a bad trap…”

While paying close attention as to not leak out black emotions that gushed from his heart, Shizuku shook her head to cover over Kouki’s words.

“Kouki, I’m not looking for your opinion. I am merely telling you. Because you are a childhood friend.”

“…”

Kouki kept silent with a sour expression not knowing how to speak. Somehow, it was Ryuutaro and Suzu who covered for her with their own glances. In a look, Kaori provided meaning that they would not struggle for the same man as best friends. It was a quiet expression of affirmation from all three of them. Of course, it was Shizuku’s words that were affirming how she felt.

Realizing there was no one to back him up, Kouki erased the expression on his face. It was impossible to dismiss the reality that was unfavorable to Kouki. All those feelings of irritation, frustration, envy, and hatred began to wander for a false point to cling to.

However, there was nothing to rampage with just feelings. This wasn’t about Hajime as an object and above all else, it was made clear. The feelings that stagnated darkly didn’t have any fangs to bite. This was a big opportunity…

Although Suzu empathized with the dark feelings that Kouki could separate himself from, but either way, he had to get over it himself, he needed to face the problems.

Even with such an attitude caught in the heart, Kouki emitted unwanted emotions and made a sarcastic comment.

“Haha, everyone is that guy’s ally. It’s a guy who easily kills people and easily abandons…”

“Kouki!”

Suzu spoke up unexpectedly. Shia and Tio wore narrowed eyes. Kaori’s smile deteriorated a little.

But Kouki, whose mind was like a child couldn’t stop the feelings that had no place to go. Thus, he said…

“If so, at that time, would I fall off a bridge, if it was okay?” (Tn: In other words… maybe I should just kill myself… I think)

To such insensitive and heartless words, Kaori stopped those words that hurt her heart. PASHIN! Kaori’s slap made a flashy noise and exploded on Kouki’s cheek.

Though her hand also throbbed, Kaori began to talk with an expression that looked regrettable to Kouki who had a hand on his cheek in dumb surprise.

“…Kouki. I think Kouki is an important childhood friend… so don’t make me dislike him.”

“…or maybe…”

Kouki was at a loss of words from the unexpected shock but still opened his mouth as if he had something to say.

Gou!

An impact resembling wind pressure ran through. Its identity were waves of enormous magical power. Although it should not be “shock transformation” or the like, an enormous amount of magical power spread through the wall of the mansion so that their bodies responded to it in shock.

“This is… Hajime-san! Yue!”

To this obviously abnormal situation, Shia flung herself out of the room at a dash. When Hajime makes an artifact, this kind of current is not usual.

The wave motion of magic continued to pulse intermittently. Magic in each of their bodies was severely stricken. However, Kaori who was startled back by Shia’s actions straightened herself and followed Shia immediately.

According to Shia, the wave motion of magical power seemed to be coming from Hajime and Yue. The waves of magical power seemed to increase in density the closer they approached the room the two people stayed in. It was as if a typhoon had hit them directly as they arrived before the room.

The door was already opened as Shia verified that the two were safe. After going in, it seemed to be the case. While protecting her face from the bewitchment that raged on, Kaori made up her mind and stepped inside.

What spread out from there was a scene where the magical power of red and gold became a torrent of spirals. The scene blew off from the center with the Hajime and Yue on their knees facing each other and holding hands. Before the two of them, there was a crystal of a giant and some minerals that emitted a pale light.

“What’s happening, Shia… this…”

“I do not know, but they seem to have done something.”

As she had already assessed the scene, Kaori asked Shia who’s rabbit ears were dancing in the storm of magic. Shia protected her face with her arm and a lower posture but was able to confirm Hajime and Yue’s appearances. When she could see they were both safe, she gave out a breath of relief.

If you trace their glance, it seemed a certainty that neither Hajime nor Yue was at risk. However, both of them were concentrating extremely hard. Shia’s entering was not even noticed. A large amount of sweat flowed from them. At this moment, it was clear they were focusing on making the artifact with concept magic.

“…If it is safe, it seems better to leave…”

“Well, if I fail as a mistress, I should be punished.”

“…You should seem so happy about it, Tio…”

Shia retreated towards the door softly as to not disturb Hajime.

Meanwhile, only Kouki was staring at Hajime. You couldn’t see the color of emotion in those eyes, but they seemed to hold down passion and looked dangerous.

“Kouki,” Shizuku called out.

Kouki did not answer. Rather, he took a step forward straight ahead, just one step forward.

“Kouki!”

“Tsu…”

Shizuku immediately grabs Kouki’s arms. While her trademark ponytail flapped in the magical storm, she looked straight at Kouki with a serious look. In the gaze, as if frightened, revealed shaking. Kouki made a step backward. One step backward.

At that moment…

“What’s this?”

“An image?”

“A dark…cave?”

Suddenly, images began to appear before their eyes.  Like a fog projecting a picture instead of a screen, magical light fragments became a medium.  To this strange situation, Shia and the others forgot to even leave the room.

At that time, Suzu muttered to herself.

“Somehow, it looks like Orcus.”

“Certainly, speaking of a large cave illuminated by green light, it would be the Orcus Great Labyrinth.”

Tio affirmed Suzu’s guess.  Speaking of a cave illuminated by faint green walls, it would be the Orcus Great Labyrinth that was created by digging into veins of Illumination Stone.

However, since the scenery was different from the structure of the upper labyrinth that Suzu knew, she could not say it for certain.  This looked like a natural cave that had not been crafted by a human hand. The magnitude of the height and width of the cave was different from the labyrinth Suzu knew.

The sudden situation and mysterious images deepened their bewilderment, but before long the image projected from the angle of the shadow next to a rock at a large crossroads, showed white hair, long hind legs, and deep red lines crawling across its body like blood vessels, and the true colors of the image was realized as the feelings of having been caught by the demon of the rabbit type were transmitted to them.

“This is anxiety?  There is also impatience.”

“I also feel fear.  This image is a memory.”

“It is probably Goshujin-sama’s.  The memory of the place of hell this one heard him speak about.”

Shia’s guess was correct.

Along with the image, feelings were transmitted from the magic that filled the room.  Anxiety, impatience, and fear were overflowing due to the clearly abnormal monster he had never seen before.  They couldn’t understand what had led such a situation to occur, but they at least understood that the images they saw and feelings they felt were Hajime’s.

Apart from the time after he had met Yue, Hajime did not speak much of the time in hell before that.  It was already over, and Hajime did not have a hobby of boasting about his misfortune.  It was simply troublesome to talk about it, too.

So, being given the chance where Shia and the others could learn from Hajime’s past that they don’t know about, after exchanging a glance with one another, they stared hard at the image as if to drill a hole in it without leaving the room.  To learn the beginnings of the person they loved, it was impossible for them to leave the room.  Similarly, Ryuutaro and Kouki began to concentrate on the image with interest too.

So, at that time, someone raised their voice with an “Ah.”  In the image, the demon releasing an abnormal atmosphere suddenly charged at him with an amazing power.

“Hajime-san!”

“Hajime-kun!”

Instinctively, Shia and Kaori cried out a warning with a raised voice.  Meanwhile, the image moves hectically while the feelings of fear and uneasiness transmitted by the bright red magic swelled up.

They ground their teeth seeing Hajime made sport of by the kick rabbit.   And then, when Hajime’s left arm was finally smashed, the feelings of anguish transmitted to them caused Suzu to avert her gaze.

“Hajime-san was…such a one-sided…”

“This is the Nagumo-kun that we knew.  His fighting strength was equivalent to having none at all…”

To Hajime being one-sidedly toyed with, Shia’s expression became teary eyed as she couldn’t believe it.  Shizuku spills her words to such a Shia while biting her lip.

Before long the image becomes momentarily interrupted because Hajime had closed his eyes when feeling the impending death from the kick rabbit approaching.  While Hajime’s feelings of terror are spread to them, the image appears again.  This time the frightened kick rabbit’s image was seen.

The view of the image was changed tracing the kick rabbit’s line of sight, and there stood a huge white bear.  A glance was all it took to understand the bear was not a normal demon.  To prove that, the kick rabbit that toyed with Hajime in the image was easily cut in two and preyed on, while scattering blood around Hajime.

The glint in the claw bear’s eyes crosses over through the image to shoot through Shia and the rest.  In the case of them today, the power of the claw bear’s gaze would be no big deal, however, because of the feeling it had in its eyes that it was looking only at food rather than an enemy and the fundamental fear that was driven into Hajime caused them to shake unconsciously.

What happened after that was too tragic for the girls who loved Hajime.

Being cornered, the left arm was taken, and it was eaten in front of him.  The eyes that see him as food and the arm that lost its shape while spewing blood, such a reality was unnecessarily given to him whether he wanted it or not.

The scream that could not be heard was transmitted to them by the magic.  Eyes that a human should never show are shown, having part of the body scattered and eaten, breaking down from terror and agony.  And without either shame or respectability, he crawled desperately to get even one millimeter further away from the incarnation of terror.

The reflected image is already dark.  The transmitted feelings reached a saturation point or were already unable to be defined.  Just…Hajime screams, however even that began to weaken as the light of life faded away.

“Haji…me-san….”

Shia is pouring out tears.  Nearby, Kaori and Shizuku… Suzu covers her mouth with her hand.  Tio’s gaze is severe.  Before their eyes the murderous intent to want to tear the claw bear limb from limb welled up.

While they watched, the blackout ended.  Hajime, doubting his own survival, advanced to the interior of the wall and found a strange crystal that dripped water.  The god crystal and holy water.

Hajime drunk that, holding his broken mind while he cowers in a dark cave.  While asking for help…

There where the memory is vague the image became interrupted.  However, to substitute for that, the feelings being transmitted increased in density.

Overwhelming loneliness is felt as no one responded no matter how much he asked for help.  The darkness in which even his own existence seemed to be swallowed.  Hunger to the degree where it seemed he’d go mad.  Unending phantom limb pain.

Day after day he bore the torture-like pain.  While lying down as if to die, eventually wishing that he could die, however, the taken holy water did not allow that, and so his feelings of hatred with nowhere left to go were directed at his classmates as he came to curse the unjustness of the world.

And yet, in addition to that, he gradually began to improve.  Hajime’s heart was dyed the blackest black.  The longing to live, and, the murderous intent for existences that are a hindrance.

Hajime began to move.  He started to collect holy water in a depression on the ground.  He will begin with eating the wolf.  His hunger and phantom pain have not changed, and only his energy had recovered, while his features reflected in the pool of water were already another person.

With the glitter of murderous intent shining in his eyes… Hajime slipped out of his cave.  His only weapon that could not be called a weapon (transmutation) is freely used to hunt the demons.

“…This is that appearance…”

“I heard about it, but he’s strong.”

Eating the demon’s flesh with his hands and clothes becoming bloodstained, the appearance of Hajime with his face made dirty with blood is exactly suitable for a monster.

And, a scream which isn’t given a voice is transmitted again.  The amount of his agony cannot be imagined.  Beating his head on the ground many times, with Hajime’s body writhing it is only possible to see the repeated breaking down and regenerating sometimes as it enters his field of vision.

Unable to bear watching the ghastly spectacle with the transmission from the hell of the storm of agony, Kouki and Ryuutaro both averted their gazes.  Suzu, looked like she could vomit at any moment, desperately trying to endure it.

Before long the transformation ended.  Looking at his appearance in the pool of holy water, the reflection shows the Hajime of today.  Still more than the Hajime of today, the deep tenacity and murderous intent overflowed from he who had gotten a strong body and a new power.

And, using the power of a transmutation that could not become a weapon because it is only a common job, he made full use of the raw materials and the other world’s gunpowder to produce a weapon after much trial and error that he could use to challenge the claw bear and by crushing it prove his ability to fight.

At the end of a fierce battle where the claw bear is overcome and its flesh is eaten, Hajime becomes self-conscious.  In the innermost depths of himself, his true longing has come out.

That is…

–I want to return.

Responding to the desire, the magic in the room pulsed.  Before they were aware of it, Hajime’s body was covered in the bright red magic power… With Hajime and Yue in the center, the magic power shot up.

However, it was not magic power indiscriminately scattered.  It was focused so that it was inhaled in a spiral torrent with the two people at its center.

–I want to return.

Once more Hajime’s pure, strong desire was transmitted through the magic power.  Deeply touched by such a wish, Shia, and the others tightly clasped their hands at their chests.

The brilliantly shining crimson magic mixed with the golden magic.  As the torrent of magic calmed down, glittering lights like the stars of the Milky Way galaxy began to spin around them.

–I want to return to my hometown.

It is quiet; however, everyone cannot help but shake understanding the strength of will being transmitted by that desire.  It should exactly be called the will of the utmost limits.

Hajime in the image, after looking up at the sky once, he quietly closed his eyes.  In himself, he must have been making certain of his resolution.  And, when he suddenly opened his eyes he unhesitatingly faced the interior of the abyss while proceeding down the passage to the depth of the labyrinth.

The magic light the image was projected on was then absorbed by the whirlpool surrounding Hajime and Yue.

Shia’s and the others’ reaction was generally the same.  They were dumbfounded by the extremely violent process Hajime went through to become the Hajime of today.

Shia, Kaori, Tio, and Shizuku shed tears from the emotions that even they did not understand how seriously far Hajime had gone, but at the same time also faintly floated smiles feeling proud that he could stand back up again after crawling up.

Suzu and Ryuutaro couldn’t speak as if they were simply overwhelmed, with somehow assenting looks on their faces as they thought “I can’t match this”.

They thought they’d survived some truly rough battles, but they’d always had the support of Meld and the other experienced knights in the order, and above all, had been surrounded by comrades with cheat abilities. When they tried to imagine whether they could truly, all by themselves, get through all that hardship and crawl out of the abyss, they shook their heads. Even the scene they were seeing now was just the beginning. They didn’t think that they would be able to handle it at all.

And Kouki… gazed into empty space vacantly, as if his power had left him. In his heart, it crossed his mind how he’d just said: “If I’d been the one to fall into the abyss…”

Up until now, Kouki had actually thought that Hajime’s strength was unfair. Even though Shizuku had said Hajime must’ve had a horrible experience, the idea was completely abstract to him. Kouki had seriously thought that Hajime was a guy who did whatever he pleased and easily obtained power just by falling into the abyss.

But now that he’d ended up knowing Hajime’s way of obtaining it, it was so incredible it blew away those thoughts.

(‘I want to return’… huh.)

He whispered it in his mind. A doubt welled up: do I actually desire to return home as much as him? At the same time, when he compared his thoughts when he’d declared that he would save this world as the hero everyone needs, with Hajime’s pure and intense wish, he had a feeling it seemed very cheap.

(N-No… I’m not wrong. Nagumo’s feelings… I understand them, but… But, even so… And, now, Shizuku’s also… He’s taken everything from me…)

He desperately shook off the self-criticizing emotions that floated through his mind.

As Kouki engaged in a mental dialogue with himself, a change occurred with Hajime and Yue. To be precise, with the crystal structure and mineral in between them.

It was wrapped in bright red magic. The shape gradually changed, or rather, it united as if to prove it was taking in magical power.

“Is that a key…?”

“Well, it looks like an antique key made out of crystal.”

Shizuku added to Kaori’s mutterings. It was shaped between Hajime and Yue, with a regular dodecahedral crystal body on the side of the hand. It was a key with a terribly sophisticated and complex magic line drawn in the planning part of the trip.

It was created with the fusion of the god crystal and other minerals, finishing as an antique key that captures the beautiful artworks that incorporated a lot of magical powers from Hajime and Yue, decorated in gold designs with a red crystal.

And just after the shape was perfectly formed, Hajime and Yue who did not make movements until now opened their eyes with their hands connected. It seemed that nothing was reflected in their thin eyes, which seemed to be looking at something only visible to the two of them.

In a strange way, the atmosphere felt mysterious, there was a sound that someone swallowed with a gulp of saliva. The next moment, the two lips trembled in time. Then the words spun from a small opening mouth…

“Open the door to the place you wanted.”

A moment later, a torrent of dazzling light like a fixed star blew up around the two. The flow of the galaxy that once calmed down dyed the room into pure white light as if it had caused a supernova explosion, and painted everyone’s consciousness with white as well.

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Arifureta Chapter 150

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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/151/

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.

For your convenience:

Orcus Great Labyrinth (The Abyss)–Oscar Orcus

Raisen Great Labyrinth (Great Canyon)–Miledi (alternate spelling: Miredi)  Raisen

Guryuuen Great Labyrinth (Great Volcano)–Naizu Guuryuen

Merujiine Great Labyrinth (Undersea Ruins)–Meiru Merujiine

Baan Great Labyrinth (God Mountain)–Rausu Baan

Haltina Great Labyrinth (Sea of Trees)–Luluo Haltina

Shunee Great Labyrinth (Snowfield Ice Cave) – Shunee

___________________________________________

Magic’s Depth

The first-rate sensation he felt on his lips gradually led Hajime’s consciousness to awaken.

“… What are you doing Yue?”

“… Nn? Wake up kiss.”

There was such a lovely way to wake up someone in this world. For a part of that riajuu. (TN: Riajuu, a person who is satisfied with his real life. Damn riajuu, just explode)

Hajime returned a light kiss at Yue who was lying down on top of him while kissing him, then he swept his gaze at the surroundings. What entered his sight was the familiar ice wall and a bed he was tucked in, and then several types of furniture.

It seemed that he was inside the mansion made from ice at the deepest part of the Ice and Snow Cavern. While pondering that, Hajime returned his gaze to Yue who was staring at him with moist eyes from a really close range.

“… So we were carried to a room somewhere because we passed out. Yue, what about the others?”

“… Nn, sorry. I woke up just now so I don’t know.”

Hajime thought that Yue had surely woke up first and grasped the situation before coming to wake him up, but his expectation was wrong. Hajime floated a troubled expression while once again asking Yue, who was still lying on top of him while making lovely gestures, her chin resting in her hands and her bare feet moving up and down in the air.

“… How long have you been awake?”

“Nn… about ten minutes ago?”

“Don’t tell me, since then you have been in this position all along?”

“… Nn. Because when my eyes opened Hajime was there.”

‘Because a mountain is there.’ While spouting out a line like a certain mountain climber somewhere, Yue pressed her lips *chuu* at Hajime.

Before Hajime had confirmed that at the edge of his field of vision there was another bed. He also had confirmed that its sheets were disarrayed. In other words, after Yue woke up in the neighboring bed, rather than understanding the surrounding situation or trying to ask an explanation from the other members, she instead slipped into Hajime’s bed. Regardless of his passed-out situation from an unexpected accident, she picked the choice of the lovely wakening up.

She was shaken so much in the last trial to the degree that Shia scolded her, after that she finally reunited with Hajime and spoke about her worry, and just when she was about to kiss him with overflowing emotion, it was blocked by the girl power cheat character… now the trial was over already, and her beloved person was sleeping beside her defenselessly… because of that, it seemed that she couldn’t hold back.

Really, really, what a… lovely lover she was, Hajime’s eyes turned into a wild beast. Yue smiled bewitchingly “Fufu- “to such a Hajime. Her tongue licking her lips very seductively.

“Yue. It seems that I need a little more time before I wake up.”

“… Nn. Then, until you are awake… I’ll do you.”

<EN: Two pages of erotic intercourse redacted. Figured you guys wouldn’t want to read that smut…translation continues at the end of that…>

Their lips piled up once more. Vivid sound colored with dampness resounded inside the room. At the same time, “Nna”, a sweet gasping voice caught in the nose resounded.

Just as it seemed that the two might do it until they got naked, at that time, a sound of the door opening was suddenly…

“Nn? You two woke up… waittt, juust whaaat are you two doinggg-!”

<EN: Just kidding…>

The one who entered was Shia. Looking at Hajime and Yue who were entangled on top of the bed with their fiercely disarrayed clothes, her rabbit ears bristled *bosaa!*

“Shia? What’s the… Hajime-kun? Yue? Just what are you two doing I wonder? I wonder?”

“――”

Behind Shia, Kaori who peeked her head in materialized a hannya mask behind her. Shizuku covered her red face with both her hands. However, following a cliché, she didn’t forget to peek between her fingers’ gap. Since she became aware of her love to Hajime, she was also excessively conscious to that kind of act, but she couldn’t help but hold interest.

On the other hand, about Hajime and Yue who were interrupted before they went further, they directed their sight to those three while embracing each other. Then they immediately looked at each other,  moved their gaze once more to the three, and said out words with splendid synchronization.

“Come back two hours later.” X2

In response, the reaction of Shia and others were naturally…

“Are you stupidddd――!!”

“It’s obviously not allowedddddd!!”

“…”

Angry roars reverberated in the ice mansion. Only one person was stealing glances at the exposed chest of Hajime with her face still red.

The bed was overturned with Hajime and Yue still on it and then they were dragged out, Shia and Kaori forcibly moved them to the living room at a corner of the mansion. It seemed that Shizuku was still unable to come out of her daze with her eyes still swimming around busily.

At the center, there was a table of ice that didn’t feel cold, its surroundings included a leather sofa. Ryuutaro and Suzu were already sitting on the sofa, their eyes were opened wide at Hajime and Yue who were dragged out by their scruff of their necks.

“Oi, oi, just what in the hell…”

“Aa, Suzu somehow understand what’s going on here.”

It seemed that Suzu could imagine what was going on. Her gaze was directed at the clothes of Hajime and Yue that were mostly still disarrayed. Chasing after Suzu’s gaze, it seemed that Ryuutaro also guessed the generality of the event. But right after that, something traversed the room with high speed, *zubishi!* and a loud sound was raised from Ryuutaro’s strongly flicked temple.

“Abeh!?”

Raising a strange scream, Ryuutaro rolled behind the sofa. He was pressing on his temple thinking “That’s unreasonable-!!” while writhing around.

“… Hmph. That’s the punishment for seeing Yue’s immodest figure.”

“… Nn, jealousy? Hajime, cute.”

Yes, what flicked Ryuutaro’s temple was Hajime’s bullet. A punishment for Ryuutaro who saw ‘Yue in disarrayed clothes’… Indeed, it was unreasonable.

“Geez-! Both of you, you are not reflecting! … Just how much do you think we are worrying hereee.”

Looking at such a Hajime and Yue who were acting carefree, Shia was trembling in rage. However, in the middle, she lost her momentum and sat down beside the two with teary eyes. Her appearance faithfully displayed just how much she was worried for the two who passed out for an unknown reason right after they cleared the great labyrinth.

“It’s just as Shia said. … We were really worried.”

“That’s right. We wanted you two to quickly show your energetic faces.”

It appeared that Kaori and Shizuku felt the same. Similar with Shia, they were directing slightly wet eyes at Hajime and Yue.

Looking at those three as expected even the two couldn’t help but feel guilt. The two looked at each other awkwardly and then lowered their heads at the same time.

“Aa, no, really that was my bad. When I woke up a super beautiful girl was kissing me so, my reasoning was blown away… yep, it’s the fault of Yue being too cute.”

“… Nn, sorry. I should notify you all immediately. … But when I noticed a defenseless Hajime beside me I couldn’t hold back. It’s the fault of Hajime being too cool.”

They were… lowering their head? It felt somehow like that.

“… Both of you, are not reflecting, are you?”

“Haa, it’s enough already. More than this is just going to make us tired mentally.”

“After looking with awareness of my own feeling, various things are coming to me…”

Seeing Hajime and Yue apologized while naturally whispering love fondly at each other, Shia directed a glare at them and Kaori made a tired expression. Shizuku made an expression that was a loss of words from realizing once more how strong an existence Yue was.

But, at that time, the door of the room made an opening sound. The one who entered was Tio.

“Oo, master and also Yue art safe then. I’m glad, I’m glad. It’s the best that what I was doing was just a wasted effort.”

“Ah, Tio-san. I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you about this.”

Shia’s expression turned apologetic looking at Tio whose expression burst into a smile seeing Hajime and Yue’s appearance.

Tio investigated the magic circle of the age of god magic and the mansion’s library in the worst case that Hajime and Yue wouldn’t wake up to determine the cause of their fainting. Shia whose attention was completely taken by her happiness of Hajime and Yue waking up and then by her anger at the two who were flirting without considering other people’s feeling had forgotten to contact Tio.

“It’s fine, it’s fine. In any case, right after master and Yue opened their eyes, they must be doing that kind of thing, weren’t they?”

“You really get it…”

“Hmm. That’s natural. If I am in Yue’s position, I will do the same thing! And then, master who scorns my disarrayed appearance will do that kind of thing and this kind of thing… nh, nh, haa haa.”

“And, just what happened to Hajime-kun and Yue?”

“Both of you raised a really pained voice and fainted, that was a really shocking matter.”

Kaori and Shizuku beautifully ignored Tio who was beginning to pant with an expression of ecstasy from her imagination and asked Hajime and Yue.

Naturally, Hajime and Yue acted like Tio was not there, they sat on the sofa while showing their intention to explain. Shia and the others also sat on the sofa. The fallen Ryuutaro also sat back on the sofa while rubbing his red forehead. There was no place for Tio to sit. She was kneeling seiza on the floor.

“Now then, the reason why I and Yue fainted… that’s right, to say it simply, our head or mind got overheated, something like that.”

“Overheated, is it?”

Hajime’s beginning explanation made Shia tilted her head.

“Yeah. At that time, the last age of god magic――’Metamorphosis Magic’ was engraved in our brain, after that, I and Yue were forcefully made to understand something further. The burden of that was too big, and it made us unable to maintain our consciousness.”

“Hmm… a burden so big that master and Yue couldn’t endure… was it about knowing the particulars regarding concept magic?”

“… Nn. As expected, Tio. Your comprehension is fast although you are a pervert. Although you are a pervert…”

It was said twice although it wasn’t important. Although she was a pervert but as always her guessing was outstanding. Tio had been thinking what was the difference between Hajime and Yue with the other members, and she noticed the point that it was only those two who had obtained all the age of god magic. She did that while sitting seiza on the floor and grinning from the numbness in her feet.

Luluo Haltina said that their hand would reach concept magic when they obtained all the age of god magic. And then among these members, it was only Hajime and Yue who had obtained all the age of god magic. Tio who fully remembered even that point conjectured that perhaps the burden of having the knowledge of magic that surpassed the age of god magic engraved in their mind was large.

She investigated inside the mansion thinking of the possibility outside of that for her peace of mind, she did that surely because even with her conjecture she couldn’t just stay still with the condition of the two like that. Her speech and conduct were disgusting, but it appeared that she was worrying from the bottom of her heart, similar to Shia and others.

And then, the guess of such a Tio was right on the mark. Hajime and Yue, after they obtained metamorphosis magic the same as the other, they had the knowledge regarding concept magic engraved further into their mind.

Knowing the reason why Hajime and Yue fainted, Shia and others nodded in understanding. For the time being, they leaked a sigh of relief after hearing that there was no after effect or anything to the two. Kaori pulled herself together and asked something she was the most concerned about.

“Concept magic… with that, we can go back home to Japan, right? By any chance, you two can use it already now?”

“No, not yet. Just like Luluo said, just because you have the knowledge doesn’t mean you can use it. Besides, the knowledge we obtained is also not something like the concrete way of learning or the way to use it, if I have to say what is it then it’s something like hypothesis knowledge.”

“Hypothesis knowledge?”

Shizuku asked by repeating the words. This talk was about the possibility of them returning home. Beginning from Shizuku, even Ryuutaro, Suzu, and Kaori too made a serious expression.

“Yeah. For example, the metamorphosis magic that you guys too are able to obtain this time, how do you guys understand that magic?”

“Eh? Err, let’s see. From the knowledge engraved in our mind, it’s a magic that remakes a normal organism into a monster, isn’t it? Using the magic power of the caster and the magic power of the target organism, it forms magic stone inside the body, with that as the core it’s possible to remake the flesh of the body.”

“Yes. I understand it like that too. Also, it looks like we can interfere with the already existing magic stone of a monster and mix our magic power into it to strengthen them and also make them submit.”

Shizuku and Kaori’s understanding was matching in general.

If it was explained further, metamorphosis magic had enhancement levels. In the case of transforming the normal living thing into a monster, the target would lose most of their reason and thought, and they would move following just their instinct. It was said that wild monsters came from the normal living things. In a particular place and through months and years absorbing the magic element in the surrounding and also with various other factors to naturally produce a magic stone, and the first level of metamorphosis, using metamorphosis magic was exceedingly close to this wild monster.

This wild monster would recover their reason and thought if they were strengthened even more using metamorphosis magic, furthermore, with the magic power of the caster mixing into the magic stone as the cause, it would be like imprinting and the monster would submit to the caster as though toward their parent. It needed not to be said what would happen if from the beginning the magic stone was created only from the magic power of the caster.

With skill, it was possible to pile up the performing of the metamorphosis many times and create a powerful monster to that extent――or rather than saying creating it was possible to grow a strong monster. However, the flesh of the target would break down if the metamorphosis was carried out with immature skill so caution was necessary.

“In other words, this is a magic to create obedient monsters, huh. As expected. Thinking about the steps, that white dragon seems like it has been considerably strengthened, though…”

“Uun, Suzu has only seen it once so she cannot say it clearly but… if Orcus’s monsters are divided in level by each floor, that white dragon is about level three hundred Suzu thinks? Suzu guesses that it’s about three to four times stronger than the monster in the eightieth floor.”

“Ain’t that more of it? It was weakened, but the great barrier of the capital was broken by just one dragon, that one yeah? Even Nagumo, you evaded its breath. Ain’t it about level 400?”

The talk was a little derailed. But Ryuutaro’s guess wasn’t mistaken. The white dragon strengthened by that Freed, if the monster at the floor 80 of the outer layer labyrinth of Orcus was about level 80, then the strength of that white dragon was about five times of that if it was now, then it was about six, seven times stronger.

Hajime’s face frowned for a moment as though he was recalling an irritating guy, but he pulled himself together and returned the talk back to its track.

“Well, in general, you are not wrong. Metamorphosis magic is certainly a magic that creates a monster to follow you. But, that’s a little inaccurate. What is called metamorphosis magic, to define it more accurately… that’s right, I guess it’s a ‘magic that interferes at organic material’?”

“Err…”

Shia’s eyes were swimming in perplexity. Putting aside Kaori and others, for Shia, those were words she was unfamiliar with. It seemed that Tio was also in the same state. Noticing that, Hajime cleared his throat and corrected himself.

“Let’s see… it’s a little lacking in accuracy, but to say it in easier to understand manner, you can also think of it as magic that interferes at material that originated from living thing. In other words, if you feel like it, not just an animal but something like a plant, and also things that are made from that――for example food or paper, this magic can also interfere with that kind of thing. Of course, it can also interfere at the human. The magic stone is nothing more than a byproduct.”

According to Hajime’s further summary, metamorphosis magic wasn’t ‘magic that created magic stone and produced monster’, magic stone was nothing more than energy body created as the result of interfering at the target using one’s own magic power and metamorphosis magic, in reality, it was magic that directly operated at flesh or the likes. And so if one felt like it, it seemed that it was theoretically possible to cause metamorphosis without producing magic stones.

“… Nn, this is only a guess, but the ‘dragification’ of Tio and others of the dragon clan, if the origin is traced, I think it has the root from this magic.”

“Hoho, so the metamorphosis magic is the origin of my race… hmm, I see.”

Sending a glance at Tio who was thinking deeply, Hajime continued his explanation.

“The hypothesis knowledge I said before, that is, in other words, that kind of thing. Age of god magic are magic that interferes at ‘principle’, but we didn’t really understand the exact foundation of that power. With obtaining concept magic as the absolute prerequisite, it was necessary to completely understand all the age of god magic.”

“… Nn. Besides, to understand this is too deep of an abyss, if someone is not in the level that can conquer all the trials, their body and heart won’t be able to endure the burden and they will break.”

That was the reason that in order to arrive at concept magic there was a need to earn all the age of god magic.

The current Hajime and Yue understood that even their understanding until now toward the age of god magic was still shallow.

For example, the creation magic that Hajime obtained the very first, and he used to keep his life until now. It wasn’t ‘magic to assign magic into mineral’ if it was expressed more accurately then it was a ‘magic that interferes at inorganic material’, a magic that was the opposite of metamorphosis magic. And so theoretically this magic should be able to interfere with things like water or salt too, not just mineral.

Furthermore, gravity magic was something that should be expressed as ‘magic that interfere with the energy of star’, not only gravity, theoretically, it could also interfere with things like earth vein or terrestrial heat, bedrock or magma, it wasn’t impossible to use this magic to purposefully generate earthquake or volcano eruption.

Space magic was a ‘magic that interferes at boundary’. Elimination of race-creature gap, formulating new boundary to create spirit world, it could be thought that those kinds of things were also possible.

Regeneration magic was ‘magic that interfere at time’. The use of regeneration magic was more of restoration rather than healing, it was just a portion of it. Originally it was possible to interfere with time itself using this magic, it could catch a glimpse of the past or take a peek at several branches of the procession of time. Shia’s characteristic magic of ‘Future Viewing’ was likely originated from this magic.

To define Soul magic the expression of ‘magic that interfere with negative material possessed by living thing’ showed its true nature the most. To say it specifically, this magic could also interfere with things like energy inside the body that was magic power, heat, electricity, then thought, consciousness, memory. Although this magic was designated as ‘soul’, what Yue and others could exercise with this magic was interference at thought body more accurately. And then if someone could handle this magic perfectly, the caster could personally create consciousness and the like, they could configure it too. To put another way, it was possible to create artificial intelligence using magic.

Expressing sublimation magic as ‘magic that interfere with the information of existing thing’ was more accurate definition. Its function that evolved an ability by a level was, for example, interfering a body information that said level 1 and raised it up to level 2. If the user reached the root, it was possible to browse and interfere with the information of all existing object.

The names of the age of god magic that Hajime and others recognized until now were only given by taking into consideration the interference that was possible to be done using the human body.

By the way, the ‘compass of guidance’ used soul magic to surmise what the user was wishing for, then using space magic it ignored the spatial gap and distance and searched the target, it seemed that the compass used sublimation magic to supplement the information of the target. All of those functions couldn’t be accomplished using the age of magic as they did until now.

After Hajime explained about those things too, in addition, Shizuku’s expression turned complicated.

“I see now. This is real, big, and yet these magics can interfere with fundamental matter. It seems that these surpassed the territory that humans can touch. … But, after hearing all those, I guess that you two still cannot create the concept magic for the sake of returning home then? Based on what I heard, it feels like it has considerable difficulty…”

“Well, certainly it will be difficult. Luluo explained it lightly as the purpose of the utmost limits or something, but in reality, it’s exactly as she said. We need to raise up our ‘wish’ using soul magic and sublimation magic until concept level, then we need to grant it magic power and forcefully materialize it… saying it simply it’s like that, but normally it won’t succeed even using sublimation magic.”

On the contrary, in concept magic the user needed the purpose of that time as the base, so just because it succeeded to be used once didn’t mean in the next times from then on it would be stable to use. Normally it became a magic that was just onetime use.

“… Nn. We have to use Hajime’s creation magic to endow the concept magic to something like the compass.”

“That’s right. Yue’s control ability for magic and my transmutation… we need to match our breath and create an artifact endowed with the concept to cross the worlds. But, we also need a concept for preventing summoning here again, like that… it will take some time for those.”

“It’s not impossible, right?”

“Isn’t that obvious? I’ll make it a success no matter what. I crawled until here for that sake. I can start right away for the returning home artifact, I’ll work out the concept for defending against interference from those guys too without fail.”

Hajime’s eyes looked like it was blazing up fiercely. He had survived through a severe environment and continued to wish earnestly to return home. It was unforgivable to stumble in this kind of place, such fierce will was gleaming inside his eyes.

Kaori and others who saw that had their chest constricted by homesickness thinking “Aa, we really can go home”, tears were gathering in their eyes.

Hajime and Yue looked at each other and nodded once, then they suddenly stood up.

“We are going to try it right away?”

“Yeah. I managed to sort the knowledge while we are talking. It’s like I’m a horse that got a carrot dangled in front of my eyes. I’ve got to try it now.”

Hajime punched on his palm with a snap. Looking at such Hajime, Yue’s hand softly touched him to calm him down. The sensation of the small willowy hand immediately calmed down Hajime’s heart. It felt like a sweet space was going to form once more, so Suzu opened her mouth with somewhat flustered feeling.

“Err, Nagumo-kun. About the magic for going home to Japan, how much time it’s going to take you think? If possible, Suzu also wants to look when it’s completed but… if it’s going to take long, Suzu and others also have to make various preparations.”

“I, see. I don’t think it will take that long if it’s just the magic for going home. After all, no one can say that my desire for going home is not at the extreme. But, for the defense against magical interference from others…. honestly, I don’t know. I also feel like I can make it quickly but…”

“Is that so? Suzu got it. Then, Suzu and others will concentrate on resting until the magic for going home is finished. It doesn’t seem like there is another thing we need to do until we understand whether we can really go home… there is also the metamorphosis magic that we finally obtained, so the journey to the devil territory will be after that. Err, what are Shizushizu and others going to do?”

Suzu decided about her plan from now on and then checked at Shizuku and others. For Suzu, Shizuku had also finally noticed her feeling, she was thinking whether Shizuku would be wishing to be at Hajime’s side from here on or not. While she was at it, she was also confirming whether Ryuutaro was really intending to embark right in the middle of enemy territory together with her.

“Of course, I will go together with Suzu.”

“Me too.”

In respond, Shizuku and Ryuutaro answered instantly.

“Putting aside Ryuutaro-kun, is it fine for you Shizushizu? You finally…”

“What are you saying? This and that are different matters. I cannot just leave Suzu in the care of the two idiots. Besides, we won’t be staying there for long anyway, right? We are going to escape right away after accomplishing our objective and link up with Nagumo-kun. I won’t feel lonely. Besides, I too won’t be able to settle down without saying something to Eri.”

Toward Shizuku who shrugged indifferently, Suzu understood that it was Shizuku’s real feelings, Suzu hugged her while praising “As expected from a woman that makes other woman fall in love, that’s so manly!”, but Shizuku showed a vein on her forehead from getting told she was manly and grounded her fist on Suzu’s head, making her scream.

Suzu changed the topic with teary eyes.

“N, next about Kouki-kun…”

Those words made Hajime went “Hm?” and he tilted his head. And then his gaze swept through the room.

“Now that you mentioned it, where is that guy?”

“So, you only noticed just now that he is not here. … If it’s Kouki, then he is still sleeping in a different room. He has deep damage, so it seems it will still take a bit more until he wakes up.”

It seemed that until now Hajime forgot about Kouki’s existence, to such a person Shizuku explained while making an expression showing a loss for words.

Kouki’s wound should have been completely healed by Kaori, so the deep damage she meant must be the mental damage. It should be possible to heal that too using soul magic that manifests its essential power, but even for Kaori who had grasped on how to use Nointo’s body, as expected it was next to impossible to exercise the deepest mysteries of an age of god magic. Combined with the factor that the more difficult it was to interfere, the deeper the mental damage was, it was appropriate for now to leave it to Kouki’s natural healing.

“Well, it doesn’t matter. After this, I and Yue will seclude ourselves inside the room where the magic circle of the age of god magic is located to create an artifact endowed with concept magic. In the worst case that Amanogawa wakes up during that time, don’t let him be a hindrance.”

“Hindrance you say… no way he gonna do that while you are making the tool for going home, right?”

Ryuutaro objected while making a bewildered expression.

“If that’s the case then that’s fine. But his mental burden was great, and I don’t think it’s going to happen but the possibility that he will get deranged when he wakes up is not zero. Well, this is just for in case. As expected, I don’t think I’ll have any leeway in the middle of working.”

“Leave it to me Hajime-san. I cannot help out, but in exchange, I won’t let anyone be a hindrance,” Shia declared full of confidence with her chest puffed out brazenly.

“Yeah. I’m counting on you, Shia.”

“… I’m relieved with Shia here.”

That strong and reliable appearance and words caused Hajime and Yue to also smile at her with unparalleled trust.

Like that the two went to the room with the magic circle of the age of god magic once more, they vanished behind the thick door while Shia and others were seeing them off.

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Arifureta Chapter 149

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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/150/

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 Last Age of the God Magic

“It seems that everyone survived safely… Then, let’s go.”

“Wa, wait, wait! If Kouki-kun is not healed…”

Hajime urged everyone to go ahead while unhesitatingly ignoring Kouki who had fainted and was spread-eagled with the white of his eyes exposed. Kaori stopped him while rushing towards Kouki in a panic. It seemed that she wanted a bit of time for healing.

When Kaori examined him, Kouki’s body was even more ragged than his appearance suggested. On top of using the derivative of ‘Limit Break’, the ‘Supreme Break’, for a long period, Kouki also took in the reddish black magic monster-like power into his body and then further raised his specs forcefully.

As the result, just like Hajime who once ate the flesh and blood of monster and experienced the breakdown of his body, atrocious damage was accumulating throughout Kouki’s body. Also because Kouki even took in the rejection of his negative emotion to increase his ability, his mind was also damaged from the mental burden to a degree that one couldn’t ignore.

With regeneration magic and her common healing magic, if it was Kaori, then she could immediately heal Kouki’s body. Even so, it was a delicate work that couldn’t fail, so Kaori wanted a bit of time. Above all, the damage to Kouki’s mind couldn’t be seen by eyes, it needed to be treated even more carefully. If the healing failed and Kouki opened his eyes only to became a person who would jovially laugh “HAHAHA-!!” or something else, that would also be troubling.

However, toward Kaori, Hajime made a complaint without even trying to hide his reluctant expression.

“… Spare me from you healing him completely. It’s fine as long as he is not dead, right? Just make him faint for a while.”

“Eh? Why… aa, yes, it’s better like that, I guess?”

For a moment, Kaori tilted her head in doubt, but she immediately guessed Hajime’s thinking and frowned with a troubled look.

“Oi Nagumo, I understand that you cannot stomach Kouki but… you see…”

“Nagumo-kun…”

In contrast, Ryuutaro and Suzu thought that Hajime said that because he didn’t think well of Kouki. However, after they looked at Kouki’s appearance just now, they couldn’t protest strongly. So, as expected, they made a weak and troubled expression.

Shizuku looked sad somehow. Her look was unrelated with Hajime’s unwillingness to aid Kouki’s recovery, but it was directed at Kouki himself. The current appearance of her childhood friend that had been like family since they were still children was just really really sad.

Hajime looked at Ryuutaro and Suzu who while being lost for words still sent him pleading looks for Kouki’s recovery. He then made an expression displaying just how troublesome it was without showing even a bit of hostility and pointed to Kouki while speaking his mind.

“You guys, just think of how troublesome it will be after that over there is healed completely.”

“Troublesome? … ah.”

“Looks like Taniguchi understands, huh? Listen well. Amanogawa couldn’t clear this trial. He averted his eyes from himself and the result was him exploding at me. Even if he woke up now, that still won’t change. And so…”

“It will be just like now again, won’t it…”

“That’s how it is. Well, just now it was also because of his false image’s influence and also his bad habit of convenient interpretation spurring him on, so even if he wakes up, perhaps he won’t rampage right away, but…”

Hajime dropped his eyes on the compass he took from his pocket while continuing.

“The deepest part is just close. Maybe this is the last trial already, but I cannot say for sure that there is anything else ahead. There is nothing more irritating than to be attacked from behind when something happens.”

“… Haa, be grateful that he still has his life, that’s it, huh.”

Even Ryuutaro sighed deeply while nodding “Can’t be helped” at Hajime’s words. And then similar like Shizuku, he sent an earnestly sad gaze at Kouki.

Beside Ryuutaro and Shizuku, Yue directed a gaze as though looking at a trash and whispered to herself.

“… Rather, it’s better to just leave him alone here.”

“No, no, Yue-san. Rather let’s deal the finishing blow.”

“The two of thou… it’s not like I don’t understand the feeling but restrain thyself. The hero is dealt with a nightmare having pinpoint killing intent like that on him, see.”

Shia whispered even more dangerous things in succession and began to tap Doryukken on her shoulder. Her gaze was exactly like a certain person with self-employed profession and arrow attached to the head (TN: Don’t know what reference this is). With an expression that couldn’t say anything, Tio looked at Kouki who was beginning to groan “uu” while trickling cold sweat. Perhaps he was attacked by a neck reaper rabbit and a vampire inside his dream.

It seemed that Yue and Shia were still irritated by being called without honorific and Kouki’s vilification of Hajime.

Hajime was exasperated even while his cheeks loosened happily towards Yue and Shia. And then he approached the side of the two and put his hands on their shoulders to soothe them. Yue and Shia turned to look over their shoulder and guessed that those hands were stopping them. Their expression became a little dissatisfied.

“Hold back just like Tio said. If not, then there is no meaning in me doing something as troublesome as letting him live.”

“Muu… if that’s what Hajime says.”

“You are keeping your life, for now, damn hero.”

As expected, Shia was a little black.

Both of them sent a glance at Kouki who was still having a nightmare and immediately averted their gaze before they hugged Hajime fawningly. Yue was nuzzling her cheek at Hajime’s stomach, and Shia was leaning her cheek on Hajime’s chest silently with her eyes closed pleasantly. Her rabbit ears were flopping *wassa wassa*, and her rabbit tail was happily shaking *furi furi*.

Various things happened with both of them, so their break didn’t work now that they were reunited with Hajime as they completely behaved like a spoiled child. Inside their heads sounded something like “Aa, I’m healed (desuu)”. (TN: The desu refer to Shia. She usually talks politely and has desu attached on her sentence.)

Yue and Shia clung at Hajime rubbingly and pressingly as though they were trying to absorb Hajime factor into their whole body. Looking at them, Hajime guessed “They are acting really spoiled huh, did something happen?” And then with a smile that was dyed with happiness somewhere in it, he patted the back of the two soothingly. The two embraced Hajime happily even further. It was the invocation of super pink space. It was fifty percent more than usual.

Being hit by that pink color, Tio approached unsteadily. She put her finger on her lips longingly and looked at Hajime fixedly. It was a lovely gesture that really tickled a man’s heart.

Tio was also an important comrade for Hajime that didn’t change. In this labyrinth that was burdening the mind strongly, surely Tio was also exhausted, Hajime sent Tio a kind gaze…

“Annoying. Don’t look over here.”

“-!? Haa haa, an attack that completely destroys the place’s mood… nn… what a discerning master… ahn… but, I feel like crying a little.”

A pervert that felt it even when she understood that it was no good. She embraced her own body while her thighs were rubbing at each other fidgetingly. However, it was also her true feeling of wanting to be added to the circle similar to Yue and Shia, so her eyes were a little teary.

Looking at such a Tio, Hajime shrugged his shoulders feeling that it couldn’t be helped, his hand beckoned ‘here here’. Immediately, Tio went “waai” like a young child and rushed at Hajime’s back with a wide smile.

Dropping down and then raising up… Hajime who was able to naturally use the carrot and stick properly was in enough possession of the factor to be a pervert’s master. Though the person would surely deny that vehemently.

The pink space that thickened, even more, making Ryuutaro and Suzu avert their gaze as though they were going to puke sugar. But ahead of their gaze was another factor that might increase the sugar content even more while sending glances at Hajime and co. with an impatient look.

“Uu, I got a late start… The healing is… it’s fine already with this yep! Hajime-kun!”

“Eh? Wait Kaori! That last thing, it felt like something really irresponsible…”

Kaori who treated Kouki until there was no danger to his life, in the end, went “Ei!” and threw a healing light at Kouki, and then leapt at the pink space of Hajime and co. Kouki who received a healing that was brimming with irresponsibleness twitched. He looked a little pitiful.

Kaori was rushing with a pitter-patter and tried to hug Hajime without stopping, but she received nonchalant obstruction from Yue. A pebble of wind was shot with god speed and aimed at Kaori’s forehead. However, Kaori dodged that just with a light shake of her head and embraced the arm of Hajime beside Yue.

Naturally, the sensation of the arm that was hugging Yue disappeared. Yue’s smiling face that only looked like it was smiling while not smiling was directed at Kaori. Kaori too returned a smile that seemed to ask “Is there something wrong?”. Just like usual, phantom lightning from a dragon and a hannya mask glared at each other from close range.

A low-temperature space was formed together with the pink space, Ryuutaro and Suzu averted their eyes with different meaning this time. Inside such an atmosphere, it was only Shizuku who for the moment confirmed that Kouki’s complexion and breathing had returned to normal. His pulse was also beating normally. When she was convinced that there was no danger to his life she sighed in relieve.

“Ryuutaro. Can you carry Kouki?”

“No prob… So, it’s only Kouki who is no good. He is going to be down, huh.”

“That’s… but, it’s also still unclear whether Suzu and you two passed… Besides! As long as we are alive we can take the challenge no matter how many times!”

“That’s true… He did a really stupid thing but, if he is alive I can also wallop him later. Well, if this guy got to go ‘one more time’, then I’ll accompany him till the end. Just like usual.”

“Yep yep!”

The expression of Ryuutaro who carried Kouki clouded while thinking of Kouki. Suzu was also almost caught by that mood, but then she displayed her mood making act and livened up their feelings. Ryuutaro immediately burst into a grin of sympathy too.

Shizuku stared at those two with a smile. Her look was exactly like a mother…

Although, she wasn’t that Shizuku who only kept wracking her brain for her surrounding and concealed her emotion anymore. She had decided to stop that way of living by only acceptance without even realizing it herself.

Therefore, she directed a gaze that was filled with extraordinary heat without hiding it toward Hajime who was crowded and fawned by four beautiful girls and woman. The one who sharply noticed that gaze was Tio. “Oho?” She tilted her head like that while looking at Shizuku observingly. Yue and Kaori were constraining each other while Shia was busy intermediating the two so they still weren’t in the state to notice.

Shizuku put her hand on her chest to affirm the feeling she realized from the trial and her new determination. And then, she clenched her fist tightly as though to grasp something important. From that gesture, Tio guessed what was inside Shizuku’s heart.

“I say… fufu. Do your best, I guess I have to say that here.”

“Aa? What did you say?”

“Oh, master heard that? Fufu, what, that’s only a meager support for a maiden with worrying habit there.”

Hearing the whisper of Tio who was embracing him from behind, Hajime asked back with a doubtful look, and then such answer was returned to him.

For a moment, Hajime frowned wondering what that meant, but Tio was looking at the beyond when he looked over his shoulder, and then he understood when ahead of Tio’s gaze he saw Shizuku who was encouraging herself. After all, Hajime heard that extremely nonchalant confession of Shizuku to him. There was no way he didn’t understand.

“… Oi oi, don’t tell me.”

The cheeks of Shizuku whose eyes met Hajime’s were quickly dyed crimson, the next moment she approached with a determined expression. Suzu and Ryuutaro who shouldered Kouki who had no way to guess what was inside Shizuku’s heart followed her.

And then at the side where Shia was hugging――the spot that faced at Kaori, Shizuku stopped her feet. Her position was excessively close with Hajime. That position almost glued at Hajime’s left hand that was holding Shia’s waist.

With Shizuku, that close, the members other than Tio also noticed Shizuku’s state. “Mu?” They directed her fishy look.

For a moment, Shizuku’s eyes met Kaori’s. At that moment, Kaori discerned Shizuku’s heart because she was her best friend and her eyes opened wide. Although it wasn’t because of the feeling that Shizuku harbored, but it was because she was surprised at Shizuku’s state that didn’t even try to hide it.

During that time, Shizuku’s gaze returned to Hajime, and she spun words from her slightly trembling lips.

“Nagumo-kun, thank you for saving Kouki.”

“I just punched him out, though?”

“You didn’t kill him, right? It’s for Kaori and a bit for me. About twenty-percent, isn’t it?”

“… Well, something like that.”

‘Fufu’ Shizuku smiled. Looking at the dialogue of the two that connected with each other somehow, Yue mumbled “mumu-“, Shia leaked a murmur of “Aa, is it, finally?” in realization. And then Kaori, she didn’t really say anything, she was merely sending Shizuku a gentle gaze.

“Really, when you say that you will protect, you will protect even the heart, don’t you?”

“There is a line even in my heart. It doesn’t mean that I’ll do it for everything.”

“I know that. But, I, we don’t lose our childhood friend in the end. He is really a troubling guy in various things, a big idiot that displayed that kind of disgraceful behavior but… but, even so, he is still like a family.”

Toward Shizuku who was showing eyes where sadness and gratitude were entangled, Hajime shrugged his shoulders with an expression that couldn’t say anything. If he had to speak honestly, he wanted to just kill Kouki with a snap also for the sake of severing the potential trouble in the future (it was doubtful whether it would happen or not though), but looking at Shizuku right now, also at Kaori’s expression, he could think that letting Kouki live was the right thing.

At the very least, compared to having the seed of nightmare of the childhood friend they were raised with killed by the man they were in love with right in front their eyes in this world far away from their homeland, shouldering the trouble that Kouki might bring wasn’t anything big, Hajime thought. At the same time, the strength of Shizuku’s feeling who could still feel sad even after looking at that figure of Kouki, “As expected from a worldly-wise woman” Hajime couldn’t help but holding such a feeling of half admiration and half exasperation.

No, even Ryuutaro and Suzu, it would be a lie if they said that they weren’t disillusioned at all, but even so, their feeling of sadness was the biggest feeling. This showed just how much things had piled up between them until now.

If it was the people who didn’t have a strong relationship with Kouki―for example, the classmates that even now were in the Heilig Kingdom or the ladies that favored Kouki, there was no doubt they would be easily disillusioned and turned away. In the relationship of these childhood friends, there was a deep bond that was more than a simple word. That was exactly something in the degree that could be said as ‘the same like family’.

(If Yaegashi is the mother, then Amanogawa is just like a difficult child huh…)

Without even guessing that Hajime was holding a little impolite impression like that, Shizuku faced Kaori with strong eyes while listening to the sound of her heartbeat that was rapidly heightening from nervousness. There, Kaori returned a really gentle and soft smile as though she had understood everything.

It was as though she was pushing from behind at Shizuku’s determination. No, it was undoubtedly a warm cheering yell from a best friend. Shizuku felt her chest tighten strongly while feeling a deep emotion where she wanted to cry out very much, she nodded a little. And then, once more she directed to Hajime a heated gaze that might scald the person that was looked, and she spun her words.

“… It was the first time I relied on someone like that, but it felt really pleasant. Thank you for that too.”

“… Even though you threatened me easily.”

The redness that dyed Shizuku’s cheeks deepened. What she said about relying on wasn’t about having Hajime carrying her, she meant about him making her relieved that she could entrust her heart to him. That she could be fast asleep even with thunderous sounds raging was a good proof. And to go as far as calling that ‘pleasant’, certainly it couldn’t be helped that she became red.

The gap with her normally dignified atmosphere was really terrific. Without anyone noticing, even her hand was touching Hajime’s left arm gently. The hand wasn’t even clutching, it was really just touching, but on the contrary, it was expressing her feeling of wanting to touch Hajime even just for a little.

By the way, Hajime’s tsukkomi was ignored like air. A person that couldn’t read the atmosphere would become the atmosphere (air).

Shizuku thought that her heart was going to explode from all the gazes that gathered on her, even so, the determination was residing in her eyes, and then, she earnestly conveyed her feeling with those trembling lips.

“Tha, that’s why this is my thanks. A, also this is the proof that what I said at that time isn’t, a, a joke.”

Shizuku faced Hajime who couldn’t take any action because he was being embraced by Yue and co, at the same time she stood on her tiptoes. Her heels rose to the limit, the hand that touched at Hajime’s arm grasped tightly. And then, Shizuku whose body leaned forward by activating even ‘No Beat’, those lovely lips that nobody was permitted to touch touched… Hajime’s cheek.

The outrageously soft sensation was transmitted on Hajime’s cheek. A little vapor and burning heated breath tickled not just Hajime’s cheek but even his heart. The contact was just an instant. However, that kiss certainly conveyed Shizuku’s boiling heart.

*whomp* Behind Shizuku a sound of something heavy dropped resounded. Actually, Ryuutaro who was shocked by Shizuku’s action unintentionally dropped Kouki’s body that made such sound, but there was no way Shizuku had the spare energy to notice that. Rather, no one noticed it.

Shizuku was looking down with all her skin dyed with so much red that it reflexively made one doubt if she was actually going to explode. Hajime had a distant look thinking what was the deal with the sensation remaining on his cheek. Even so thinking that there was no way he could ignore this, so he tried to open his mouth, but before that Shizuku raised her face with strength filling her eyes.

“Yue, Shia, Tio… Kaori. In this trial, I realized many things. About my bad habit, and the emotion that I am feeling right now too. He already, has Yue and others, above all he is the person my best friend loved… I think that I am the lowest. But…”

Shizuku lost her words. There Kaori gave words with expression and tone filled with affection.

“Shizuku-chan… it’s fine. You are not the worst or anything. Because it’s a matter of heart you know? It’s something that cannot be helped at all. Rather than that, Shizuku-chan who will prioritize other people than yourself is now, trying to have your own way, this Shizuku-chan makes me happy.”

“Kaori…”

Perhaps she would make Kaori have unpleasant thoughts, by some chance she would make her sad, even though Shizuku knew well that Kaori wasn’t someone of that nature but she couldn’t help but feel fear, yet hearing Kaori’s words which were filled with overflowing kindness without a speck of shadow made Shizuku able to relax his stiffened shoulders.

Looking carefully, although Yue looked displeased, but it didn’t appear that she intend to cut in, she then stared at Shizuku while shrugging her shoulders. And then, she slightly showed a daring smile. The same like when with Kaori, she was saying that she would accept the challenge. Shia too was helplessly shrugging her shoulders with one of her eyes closed. Tio looked like she was having fun.

Such Yue and co and Kaori made Shizuku showed a natural smile without any stiffness, with calmness but overflowing determination, she put her feeling into her words and declared.

“I, like Nagumo-kun… That’s why I’ll do my best for my own sake.”

The refreshed smile of Shizuku who said that was something so lovely and pretty that charmed everyone there. Exactly like her name, like a drop of morning dew that was illuminated by the light of rising sun, or possibly, like a drop that overflowed from the berry, that smile was sparkling radiantly with a sweet fragrance. (TN: Shizuku means drop/drip/trickle in Japan)

“Fufu, Shizuku-chan, you are really cute there… Yosh, from now on in order to win against the Yue-Shia pair, let’s oppose them with the childhood friends pair! We are going to fight from now on!”

“Ee? Kaori, geez-. But, fufu, indeed perhaps that is better. It’s like I and Kaori monopolizing the left and right of Nagumo-kun.”

“… Shizuku, I had the premonition that it would be like this one day. I will consign you, together with Kaori to oblivion.”

“Yue-san, oblivion is no good. But, if you are talking about monopolizing, then there is no way we will draw back! We accept the challenge, Shizuku-san!”

Yue and co made a noisy ruckus. Hajime who still hugged and couldn’t move still looked far away. It was because there was no sign that they would ask him about his opinion. “Normally, isn’t it the person confessed that replied?” Even while thinking of such question, he couldn’t put a tsukkomi. Because this was something usual. Because he understood it was pointless.

For the girls surrounding Hajime, in the first place other than Yue the assumption was they were rejected, but even so they were determined to get close to Hajime. Speaking clearly, at first Hajime was unable to understand the feeling of such girls including Shia, but when he thought about how he had been made to surrender by Shia like this, he couldn’t say any complaint after this far.

“… Nou, master. How should I react when I am nonchalantly left out like this? They art roused up with the pair confrontation but…”

“Your character is the most eccentric, right.”

The weight on his back increased. Tio was leaning in while whispering sadly. In response Hajime’s reply was careless. Rather than that, Hajime wanted the two sides sandwiching him in between to stop arguing about how much they loved Hajime, that was what he thought from the bottom of his heart. He was busy thinking of how to stop the heated Yue and co.

“… So Shizuku too? Just how this happen that Nagumo. No, really I don’t get it.”

“Hawawa, even Shizushizu has fallen… Nagumo-kun you womanizer! What to do, if even Suzu fall without realizing it then…. together with Onee-sama, do, doing thing like this and that-! … … … …… fumu, that’s not bad.”

“Oi, get back to your sense Suzu. I don’t want to become alone in this strange space.”

Ryuutaro sighed in exasperation at Suzu who was pondering with her hand supporting her chin. And then, he noticed that there was no weight on his back and he picked up Kouki back in panic.

“Haa… Kouki. It’s not like I don’t understand your feeling you know. Certainly, I cannot complain anything even if you got carried away by your fake.”

With complicated expression, Ryuutaro murmured with a small voice even while knowing that it wouldn’t reach the ear of his best friend. When Kouki woke up, what kind of action he would take… imagining that, he hardened his resolve for the worst case to stop Kouki without fail as his best friend so that he wouldn’t make the mistake for the second time.

“… I see. Yue’s memory…”

“… Nn.”

While walking through the new passage that appeared in Kouki’s room, Yue talked about the discrepancy in her memory at Hajime. And then she talked without hiding anything about how perhaps herself was a unique existence more than she thought, and maybe in the future something that her uncle feared would occur.

Yue took Hajime’s hand and hugged tightly while looking up at Hajime questioningly. However, she didn’t find the serious expression that she expected there. Rather, Hajime was returning an exasperated at Yue, causing her to blink her eyes.

“What to say, that talk is already far too late at this point of time isn’t it?”

“… Nn? … By any chance, Hajime noticed?”

“That’s, yeah. If Yue’s immortality is absolute, then I can be more at peace of mind but… if that’s not the case then that’s the most important matter that concerns the life and death of my lover, how your automatic regeneration won’t activate if you are in an exhausted state. Then, even though there are many ways to cause magic power to be exhausted, why were those bunches could only seal Yue and nothing else? That’s just obvious question, right? After all, if I understand the reason then perhaps I can make Yue to absolutely not die.”

“… Hajime.”

“Even if I say that, based on what we talked when we were at the abyss, it felt like Yue didn’t remember about that anyway right? You were in a daze from the sudden betrayal and when you noticed you were already sealed you said.”

“… Nn.”

“That’s why. Rather than dredging up that doubtful point forcefully from your memory to investigate, I thought it’s just better if I simply do something about it. Perhaps by any chance, you don’t remember it because it’s a painful memory. In the end, no matter what kind of existence Yue is, my conclusion won’t change… I won’t hand over Yue to anyone if it’s for that sake then I’ll do anything. If someone tries to steal Yue from me, then no matter what kind of existence, no matter what kind of situation, I’ll kill them all.”

Perhaps imagining a vision of being separated from Yue, Hajime looked straight ahead while his eyes were glaring fiercely toward an unseen enemy. In the end, it was the usual conclusion of “Don’t mind about the small thing! If there is any hindrance, then just slaughter them all!” The truth was it was really simple and clear.

Toward such Hajime whose affection and desire to monopolize Yue was exposed out and plain to see, Yue’s eyes turned so moist that even now they looked like they would burst. With a gaze filled with so much heat that it seemed to burn, Yue stared at Hajime wholeheartedly, and then… *gabacho!* Yue jumped while hugging at Hajime’s neck, her lips were going to devour――but,

“… Shizuku, what is the meaning of this?”

A black sheath was thrust before her eyes. It was pushed out between Hajime and Yue, obstructing Yue’s kiss. Yue traced the source of the pushed out black katana and stared reproachfully and asked at the source Shizuku.

Shizuku’s gaze was wandering around restlessly, it seemed that rather than obstructing intentionally she did that reflexively.

“E, err… you see, we still haven’t even confirmed that the trial of the great labyrinth is over yet, right? That’s why, I wonder if doing something like that is better to be put on hold for later, something like that?”

“… And the truth?”

“It’s envi… not that. I as well… not that. Let’s pay attention to TPO, that’s what I mean. Yep.” (TN: TPO=Time, Place, Order (?))

Shizuku whose gaze was swimming around lied with a really unconvincing lie. Kaori beside her was “To stop Yue’s attack… as expected from my Shizuku-chan!” she was giving Shizuku extremely high praise.

“Even though you say that, but it feels like someone kissed me normally just before, though?”

Hajime looked back over his shoulder while talking to Shizuku teasingly. Immediately, Shizuku’s cheeks blushed with vivid red autumn. “Uu. That’s, because, something that only I haven’t done is… lonely.” She leaked out such whisper that sounded like an excuse. There Tio continued the talk with further teasing.

“Although, it was only a ‘chuu’ at the cheek. If thou art swordsman, then how about gallantly cutting in? The lips of master won’t be stolen without some forcefulness thou know?”

“Ste, stealing or anything… that’s improper. Something like that, I think it has to be in a proper situation, it should be done with the mutual consent of both parties. That, if possible, if Nagumo-kun is the one that does it by his initiative… I’ll feel happy.”

Reddened cheek, somewhat bowed head and the bashfully talking Shizuku. On her bosom was the black katana that she had already drawn back―the present from Hajime, she hugged it tightly as though it was the expression of Shizuku’s emotion of wanting to do something like that to the person himself.

And then Shizuku’s walking position was three step diagonally behind Hajime as though it had been already measured. Her gracefully following figure was just like a Yamato Nadeshiko (TN: Graceful in Japan could be spelled as shizushizu). With a momentary flash, the second part of Hajime’s present to her that was the hair ornament was shining at the base of her trademark ponytail.

“…”

With continuing silence, Hajime was directing a staring gaze at Shizuku as though he was looking at a rare animal.

Basically, the female camp that was surrounding Hajime was a carnivore with an assertive aspect. They are girls that wanted with all their might for Hajime to accept them. Therefore, hearing the word ‘improper’ just from one kiss made Hajime show his surprise with his eyes widened reflexively. “Eh? A girl like this, really exists?” He was thinking like that inside his heart, it could be said that he was already considerable dyed by the color of Yue and co.

Looking at that state of Hajime, Yue murmured. Even though it seemed to be a whisper, but her voice was transmitted enough to Shia and Kaori and the others too.

“… What girl power. Yaegashi, is she a monster?”

It seemed that Shizuku’s girl power that Yue witnessed was really a cheat. For some reason, Kaori was looking at Yue with the tremendous triumphant look. And then, Shizuku who was showing a tremendous gap of atmosphere with her unease of getting showered by attention from surrounding compared to her usual dignified air was suddenly pushed out forcefully by Kaori as though to show her off.

Yue groaned “muh”, and then she pushed out Shia beside her. “He? Wha, what is it?” Yue flapped the rabbit ears of the troubled Shia using wind to further appeal at the appeal point even more while directing a fearless grin at Kaori.

It appeared that they were doing partner showdown. “My best friend is absolutely cute!” Such wordless confrontation was being unfolded right now.

Such usual Yue and Kaori made Shia remonstrates them while showing a troubled smile. She tried to remonstrate them, but a vein appeared on her forehead seeing the two continuing to exchange sparking stare, she cut in between two while tapping Doryukken on her shoulder. A wordless pressure was spreading.

Yue and Kaori drew back with a stiff smile. Shizuku was directing a respecting gaze at Shia. Truly, since they came into this great labyrinth, Shia’s growth was striking.

Hajime was looking at the state of Shia and co, he then changed the talk while making an admiring expression.

“… Nevertheless, you reached a draw with Yue who fought seriously. You also rebuked Yue strongly, I’ve got to prepare a present for Shia like this.”

“Fue? I, is it fine?”

Hajime smiled believing that Shia was the MVP for this time with how she scolded Yue’s nonsense and made Yue revoked it with her strength. Shia who was praised suddenly looked happy even while getting flustered.

“… Shia’s slap. It was the first time for me who had never been hit even by my parents. I cannot forget the pain running through my cheek. Wish to your heart’s content.”

“… Yue-san, you are lightly holding a grudge, aren’t you? Well, it’s not like I have some special wish or anything. Everything has already been granted already. It’s fine if Hajime-san gives me a handmade present. The matter with Yue-san was something that I did because I wanted to do it.”

If it was in the past, Shia would yell things like “Date!” or “Take my first time!”, but now she didn’t really get high-spirited overly, rather she was smiling happily while leaving the choice to Hajime.

“… What composure… so Shia has already turned into a formidable enemy that rivaled Yue. It was careless of me of all people.”

“E, err, Kaori? For some reason, your face looks like a character of a dramatic story you know?”

“Shizuku-chan, so that we can obtain that composure, I think it’s no good if we are contenting ourselves with our position as a challenger.”

“Err…”

The composed attitude of Shia made Kaori feel impatience. Her appearance with her arms crossed and one hand supporting her chin pondering was like a certain scholar searching for the truth somewhere. Naturally, Shizuku was bewildered by her best friend’s eccentricity.

Looking at such a Shizuku, Kaori opened her eyes wide *kah!* and declared.

“Yes, we are not the challenger but we should be the attacker!”

“… Kaori. You are getting tired you know? Let’s calm down a little.”

“Shizuku-chan, when the conquer of the great labyrinth is over, let’s attack Hajime-kun when he is asleep with the two of us.”

“Really, just what are you saying!?”

“It’s fine. With the trial this time, I have grasped almost all the function of this body, so I think if it’s with the two of us we will manage it somehow.”

“The thing that has to be done at all cost is about the way Kaori’s head work. I beg you to please come back to your senses…”

“I, it will be the first time for both of us but… let’s have it plundered together okay, Shizuku-chan!”

“… I wonder if I should hit you flying just like what Shia did.”

Toward Kaori who was making clenched fists with both her hands while speaking her resolve with rough breathing “Funsu!” and red cheeks, Shizuku began to seriously considered whether she should slap her with a tired expression. It appeared that her worrying habit still didn’t change even with the various things she had become unbounded from.

“… Stop with the love comedy, we are proceeding forward.”

“Feeling this tired after we linked up, just what’s with that.”

Suzu and Ryuutaro’s voice that sounded even more tired than Shizuku resounded in the passage, but it seemed that it didn’t enter anyone’s ear. This was after they had finished a serious trial of facing themselves, so perhaps it caused them to lose the restraint of their heart in various things.

With that kind of feeling, they advanced forward with light atmosphere even while putting their guard up for ten minutes.

The party finally arrived at the end of the road. On the ice wall of the end of the road, there was a magic circle carved there in the shape of heptagon where its tops were arranged with the crest of each great labyrinths. When Hajime and others approached, it began to shine faintly. And then the whole wall was covered with something like a membrane of light. It was a phenomenon that really resembled the entrance of the great labyrinth.

When Hajime touched it lightly with his fingertips, a ripple spread as though a stone was thrown into water surface. As expected, it seemed that it was a teleport gate.

Hajime turned behind and ran his gaze at all members, then he nodded. Yue and others nodded in response.

And then Hajime and others lept into the light membrane all at once.

“… It seems this time we aren’t separated, huh.”

“… Nn. Also that.”

“Hmm, it appears that we hath finally arrived.”

“What a pretty sanctuary.”

When the light that dyed their sight cleared up, there was a wide space there.

That beautiful quadrangle space that was supported by several thick ice pillars was made from ice just as expected. It wasn’t ice with high reflection rate that could be mistaken as mirror like all the ice walls until now, but ice wall that was made from pure ice that was really transparent.

And then what attracted their attention the most was the ground. It was overflowing with water that they had never seen at all since they came here. It appeared the temperature of this space wasn’t that low. It seemed that a lot of spring water was flowing in, small fountains were put here and there on the spacious lake surface. Most likely there was also the hole where the water was flowing out.

And then on such a lake surface there was the floating floor in the shape of stepping stone that was made from ice. At the other side, ahead of that floor, there was a huge ice sanctuary. It was just right opposite the side where Hajime and others came out from. The foothold of floating ice was continuing until there on the quadrangle lake surface.

Because the water didn’t freeze, Hajime experimented by taking off his cold protection artifact. The result was as expected, it was a cold space but it only felt cool and not freezing. Just as Tio said, there was no doubt that this place was the deepest part of the [Ice and Snow Cavern]. Even for a ‘liberator’, surely, they would beg off to have a residence with extreme cold.

“… We… conquered it… hic- “

“Suzu-chan… you did it.”

Suzu was overcome by emotion and became teary eyed while looking at the sanctuary. In various meaning, she reached this achievement just barely. She failed, broke, but even so, she gritted her teeth and endured, and finally she reached the goal. It was natural for her to be moved. Kaori was gently putting her hand on Suzu’s shoulder while also crying in sympathy.

That deep emotion was also similarly felt by Ryuutaro. “Heh,” He chuckled while something shining was gathering a little in his eyes.

“… We did it.”

“Yeah. I don’t know how many times I almost died though.”

“That’s because every time you didn’t think of the consequences and just charged.”

“Nooo, haha, well, the result is alright so ain’t that fine.”

When Shizuku slapped lightly at Ryuutaro’s arm, contrary to his words Ryuutaro averted his eyes awkwardly.

With Hajime at the head, they used the ice foothold and advanced to the sanctuary. They managed to cross to the opposite shore without anything especially happened. A magic circle was drawn at a deep pool of the opposite shore. Nothing happened when they stepped on it, so thinking about it based on the position, perhaps it was a magic circle for a shortcut.

The entrance of the sanctuary was a large double door, there a crest that resembled snow crystal was drawn. It was the crest of the liberator ‘Vandol Shune’. There was no sign of something like a seal or anything, when Hajime put his strength and pushed, it opened without resistance.

“Even though the appearance is a sanctuary, the inside is like a house, huh.”

“… Nn. It’s like Oscar’s hideout.”

Ahead of the opened door, there was nothing at all like stained glass or altar like in church. In exchange, there was an entrance of the mansion with a chandelier made from ice hanging above. There was a corridor that continued inside and a stair that went to the second floor from two sides.

Hajime used the compass and searched for the magic circle’s location. According to the compass, it seemed that it was at the inner part of the straight passage on the first floor. Everyone advanced to the inside following Hajime’s lead. On the way, there were several rooms, so they tried to open the door, inside there was just normal furniture put there. The ice wall too when they tried to touch it only felt cool and not cold. Just like Hajime’s cold protection artifact, surely there was some kind of cold protection measure applied to it.

Like that, they advanced while admiring the inside of the mansion, and finally, they found a thick door.

“It’s here.”

Hajime whispered that and opened the door without hesitation. Inside there was indeed the magic circle that was their aim.

Everyone quickly entered into that magic circle. Just like usual, the inside of their brain was scrutinized and in the head of the people whose labyrinth capture was recognized, the age of the god’s magic was engraved immediately.

The last of that――by acquiring the [Metamorphosis Magic], Shia and others looked at each other’s face with their happiness plain to see, at that time,

“Guu!? GaAAh!!”

“… -, UuUUUUH!!”

Screams filled with anguish resounded. Shia and others were startled and moved their gaze in that direction. Over there were the figures of Hajime and Yue on their knee while holding their head as though they were enduring fierce headache.

“Hajime-san!? Yue-san!?”

“What’s the matter, both of you!!”

Shia and Shizuku raised shocked voices.

“Calm down! Kaori! Don’t be befuddled!”

“Eh? Ah, yes, I’ll examine them immediately!”

Tio’s thunderous roar fell on the members that were all shook up from the sudden happening. The healing expert Kaori was also scolded before she returned to her senses.

And then when she was about to examine in hurry, right after that,

“-a…”

“… nh.”

Hajime and Yue that were sweating a lot seemed to be released from the unknown pain, strength left their body and they slumped down, they fainted just like that. Shia and Shizuku immediately supported them. Looking for their state, it appeared that the two of them fainted together.

A burden to the degree that caused the two who had surpassed cheat character and reached bug level to faint… just what in the world happened. Silence returned to the room and a dumbfounded atmosphere was flowing.

“For the time being, we have to rest the two of them…”

The words of Tio (pervert), who became reliable with admirable calmness in this kind of time, made the confused members look at each other’s faces.

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Arifureta Chapter 148

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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/149/

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. Magnagate67 (www.wattpad.com/user/Magnagate67) and Elementalcobalt did the final edits.

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Child’s Retribution

Pure white radiance became a large waterfall that poured down from overhead.

That was the scene that Hajime witnessed upon passing the ice wall while carrying the pleasantly sleeping Shizuku on his back.

Hajime understood the true meaning of what happened. Because if this was just a misunderstanding made because he was confused for a monster or something using a ‘Yaegashi Barrier’, then the attack would surely be stopped desperately.

But no matter how he looked at it, there was no sanity in the eyes of the opponent, so he reluctantly performed an evasion from the spot using ‘Ground Shrink’.

Immediately after, the spot where Hajime was just at was struc by a brutal slash, a deep crack being created on the ice ground and wall followed by a thunderous roar.

Although the crack was repaired instantly, looking at the destruction mark, it was easy to see that the attack was not a joke – but was created with the intent to kill. And above all, the killing intent just before and the amount of magic power put into the attack showed the true seriousness of it.

Hajime sent a glance at the false image that was grinning widely in a slightly distanced spot, then he fixed the position of Shizuku on his back while narrowing his eyes at the culprit of the act of violence.

Shizuku didn’t succumb even to the thunderous roar of the attack and only twitched for a moment before continuing her sleep. Was she really that tired? Or perhaps she was so in peace that she wouldn’t react to a danger of this level? There was also the possibility that she was just merely being shameless, though…

“… So? What are you doing, Amanogawa?”

Yes, exactly as Hajime said, the culprit of the attack was Kouki. It wasn’t the false image, but the real one without any doubt.

That Kouki tightly gripped his holy sword that was still half-buried into the half-crushed ground while grumbling something. His bangs hung low, hiding his eyes so his expression couldn’t be seen clearly, but he was obviously not in a normal state.

“… ga…da. … de, u… ra” (TN: I don’t know if Kouki here is totally broken already or it’s me that cannot catch what the author means.)

“Haa? I cannot hear that. Anyway, your opponent is not us, it’s over…”

“… Us?”

Hajime frowned because he couldn’t really catch Kouki’s murmur while directing his gaze at the false image. He did that while implicitly telling Kouki to attack the enemy without mistake next time.

However, Kouki showed an excessive reaction to a part of Hajime’s words. Piercing eyes peeked out from between his bangs, then his stabbed holy sword was forcefully pulled out.

“The way you say that is like you and Shizuku are one set, isn’t it? Eh? What, the way you are talking is like she belongs to you? Are you screwing around?”

“… Just what are you saying? Don’t say such a stupid thing, finish this quickly.”

Kouki directed the attack at Hajime’s bloodshot look while dragging the holy sword. The unclear meaning of Kouki’s words made Hajime feel an unpleasant premonition while he urged Kouki to clear the trial.

However, as expected, Hajime’s words couldn’t get through to the current Kouki.

“… Ah, I’ll end it now. Even without you telling me every little thing, I’ll end everything!”

The moment he yelled that Kouki faced Hajime with a gaze that emitted madness from his opened pupils while charging forward. His figure hazed using ‘Implosion Ground’ while he pressed hard in one go and then unleashed a slash of light filled with enormous magic power.

“Tch, so you fell. You stupid bastard.”

“Shut up! Everything will return to before if you die-! DIE RIGHT NOWWWW!”

Hajime guessed the cause of Kouki’s eccentricity. Surely this was the result of his false image cornering him so much. Then, Hajime looked over his shoulder at Shizuku who was entrusting her body on his back, “So I’m the finishing blow…” he murmured in a small voice while frowning about his bad timing.

Kouki completely ignored that murmur of Hajime and he only recklessly held his holy sword at full power with a seething killing intent and hatred. He was obviously trying to kill Hajime. Regardless of Shizuku who was on Hajime’s back, Kouki attacked without holding back and Hajime concluded that he wasn’t sane.

“Nn, nmuu, what? Let me sleep a little mo…”

“You idiot! How can you sleep talk in this situation! If you don’t wake up right now, then I’ll make you into a human cannonball, just so you know!”

Looking at the half-asleep face of Shizuku who was peevish like a spoiled child, Hajime made a violently irritated look and yelled angrily. If she didn’t wake up in one second, then he was seriously planning on punching Kouki.

Hajime’s angry yell, the thunderous roar, and a flash of the cannon of light that was released right after that finally made Shizuku open and widen her eyes in shock. Hajime deployed the barrier using cross bits so the attack didn’t reach them, but the scenery in front of her eyes finally made her notice that they were in the middle of battle, and she dejectedly got down from Hajime’s back.

“You slept too much, like a log just now. What a shameless fellow.”

“I’m not shameless or anything. It’s just that Nagumo-kun’s back felt so…”

“Well, it doesn’t matter about you, Yaegashi. Putting that aside, do something about it.”

“Doesn’t matter what you say… or rather this situation, what happened… eh?”

Shizuku got teary eyed from quite the shock that she received by Hajime’s exasperated expression and words. However, after the flash settled down she saw the figure of the opponent that seemed to be the one who unleashed that attack. This caused her to leak out a dumbfounded voice while her body turned rigid.

That surely couldn’t be helped, because the opponent who unleashed the attack with an obviously high chance of casualties was a childhood friend she was familiar with.

“It seems that he fell, see? It feels like he’s thinking that I am exactly the root of all evil.”

“That’s…”

Ahead of her gaze was the false image of Kouki. He was sending them an amused look.

Shizuku who guessed the general situation filled her gaze with strength and then raised her voice at Kouki who was looking at them with clouded eyes.

“Kouki! Don’t do this! You mustn’t lose to your other self! Come back to your senses, overcome yourself!”

The gaze of Shizuku who was looking at Kouki was colored only with worry. Even though there were various troubles with him, he was still a good childhood friend of hers who was overflowing with good intention. He was an acquaintance of hers, including his family, from when they were children to now. He was like her important family. And now his expression was warped with killing intent and hatred that she had never seen before.

She really couldn’t look at him like this. Both her hands clasped as though she was praying, trying desperately to rouse up Kouki’s heart.

However, toward such a Shizuku, Kouki smiled and said something outrageous.

“… It’s fine. I swear that I will save Shizuku without fail.”

“Kouki? What are you saying…?”

“You are brainwashed by Nagumo, right? It’s okay. You will be freed if Nagumo is defeated…. Nagumo, even though you are my former classmate, don’t think that you can get off scot free after hurting my important childhood friend. I’ll defeat you, and release all your brainwashing of Kaori and the other girls too! And then, I’ll save the world together with them!”

Shizuku was dumbstruck at Kouki’s outrageous declaration.

The current Kouki, so to speak, could be considered like the Kouki had Shizuku not spoken with him the night when Kaori departed with Hajime’s group previously. At that night, the weight filled inside Shizuku’s words stopped Kouki from running wild.

He couldn’t immediately change the way he thought since there was also a lot of aspects in Hajime he was bothered with. That was why he bumped against Hajime over and over again, but even so, because he had the words of Shizuku, he wouldn’t say anything about Kaori too, as long as there was no complete separation between her and Hajime.

However, to put it in other words, it could also be said that Kouki could do that only because Shizuku was at his side.

Kouki’s sense of value and thought were perhaps included with ‘childishness’. He kept carrying the ‘ideal righteousness’ that was planted in his infancy without any wall of reality standing in his way, and he kept it like that until his current age, so perhaps this was only the logical development.

For such a childish Kouki, if the last female childhood friend where he directed his desire to monopolize was taken, then it would also seem natural that his ‘temper’ would explode.

Although, the temper of Kouki who was holding the power of a hero wasn’t a laughing matter at all…

Furthermore, Kouki who held a ‘childishness’ that wasn’t eager to recognize one’s own fault was thoroughly cornered by the reality that was shoved on his face by his false image. The emotion that wasn’t fitting for a hero like him was overflowing from inside his heart, carving into him like a slashing blade.

He desperately denied it. He averted his eyes. And when he just barely held his ground, his last fortress that was Shizuku was entrusting her body with a happy expression that obviously wouldn’t be shown to a man that was nothing to her. Even the thickheaded Kouki could guess just what the meaning of that was. And then exactly because he could guess that. his fortress crumbled. Kouki’s bad habit coupled with his cornered heart manifested in the worst way.

That was to say, Nagumo Hajime was the root of all evil who brainwashed his childhood friends and multiple other girls, who then became a hindrance for him who was trying to save the world. That was the impression his heart was set on. A really convenient interpretation without holding back.

“Kouki! Get a hold of yourself! I don’t know what was told to you, but don’t go astray!”

“Shizuku…”

“Listen, Kouki. Facing your own disgusting part is really painful. I understand that well because I also almost died from that. But if you don’t accept and overcome it, then you won’t be able to move forward. If you want to become strong and save a lot of people, then you must not cling to convenient thinking here. Your enemy is yourself. It’s the other smirking Kouki there! Open your eyes!”

Shizuku’s desperate persuasion echoed inside the space. It seemed that the false image intended to observe the current situation silently in amusement.

And then Kouki who was being told by Shizuku using words from her heart smiled widely at Shizuku. That was a smile that was done a lot when they were in Japan, a smile that charmed a lot of girls. However, right now it felt distorted somewhere in it.

“Thank you, Shizuku. Shizuku, you always become serious like that for my sake, don’t you?”

“Kouki…”

Shizuku’s expression was dyed in joy thinking that he had opened his eyes.

But…

“I’m really happy. Even though you are brainwashed, even so, you still think of me.”

“… Kouki?”

“It’s fine. I’ll defeat that man and that monster with the same face like me, and I’ll save you from Nagumo too. You don’t need to snuggle close to a man that you don’t even like anymore. I swear I’ll let Shizuku return back to the place where you should be at.”

“…”

Shizuku’s expression fell hearing out Kouki’s words. Shizuku silently asked back…

“… The place I should be at? Can you tell me where this place is that you mean?”

“I see. … So now you cannot even understand that. How pitiful. What Nagumo is doing is really unforgivable.”

“Kouki. Answer me.”

“Aah, that is of course, at my side. Just like all this time until now, and from here on out too.”

Shizuku breathed out a long sigh.

“… Kouki. I wonder if you remember about that night? That day Kaori departed when we talked on the bridge.”

“Yeah, of course, I remember. That thing about doubting my righteousness, right? It’s fine. I thought that Nagumo was dangerous guy since the beginning, but because of Shizuku’s words, I was looking thoroughly at Nagumo until now. But, as expected, he is nothing more than the worst betrayer.”

“Kouki, stop…”

“There is no use arguing. You don’t understand because you are brainwashed Shizuku, but this is something ‘righteous’.”

Kouki cut down the words of Shizuku that was going to keep arguing vehemently without hesitation. He was putting everything under the convenient interpretation of ‘being brainwashed’, in order to obtain the most desirable future for himself.

At the same time, Kouki directed those eyes which were cloudy like slime and dropped his stance. The radiance of ‘Limit Break’ that he intentionally weakened while he was talking with Shizuku recovered its brilliant radiance as though regaining a second breath.

“Kouki. Stop it!”

Shizuku raised her voice to stop him with impatience coloring her tone but… naturally Kouki didn’t stop.

He charged with a fierce momentum while leaving a track of light behind. His eyes already didn’t reflect Shizuku at all, he was only seeing the figure of his hateful enemy Hajime.

Having a fierce killing intent directed at him, Hajime who was until now looking aside as though what happened wasn’t a concern of his now returned his gaze at Kouki. His eyes were quickly narrowing. The face of Shizuku’s face went pale because she believed that it wouldn’t end well for the opponent when they directed a serious killing intent at Hajime. At this rate, her childhood friend would be killed!

“-, if I don’t stop him-“

In front of the charging momentum of Kouki who was in the ‘Limit Break’ state, the likes of Shizuku was just like a leaf. But even so, there was no way she could just leave this alone, and Shizuku immediately cut in between Kouki and Hajime to try to stop him.

However…

“Yaegashi, to your right.”

“Eh? -!?”

Almost at the same time as Hajime’s warning, she suddenly heard the false image of Kouki clad in reddish-black magic power attacking Shizuku. It was literally like the phrase of thrusting a spear from the side, and the false image commenced a tackle right from the side with terrific momentum. (TN: The phrase had the meaning of interruption in Japan.)

Shizuku immediately held up her black katana and braced herself for impact. At the same time the fast-approaching Kouki that could be mistaken as a reddish-black cannon was noticeably grinning disgustingly.

But just before the fake Kouki touched Shizuku, a shadow suddenly erupted between the two…

That was, a cross clad in wrong magic power similar to the false Kouki. It was a crossbit that contained a really vivid red radiance. It activated ‘Vajra’ and became an improvised shield.

Immediately after, Shizuku and the false image with the crossbit shield between them vanished from between Hajime and Kouki. It was as though the false image had kidnapped Shizuku.

The dregs of the reddish black magic power drifted like a lingering cloud between the two people glaring.

{I’ll be Shizuku’s opponent. You, you can fight your hateful enemy to your heart’s content.}

“Guh, you-. Let go of me! This is not the time for something like…”

{Now now, this is not related to me and Shizuku, is it? Let’s enjoy a sideshow while those two are dancing. Rather than self-destruction, getting possessed with his own desire is more fitting for that guy’s trial.}

“Doing as you please-“

It appeared that the false image made the trial for Kouki similar to Ryuutaro’s, where it incorporated the factor where he needed to win against his own desire. Whether Kouki could accept reality and return to his sense while fighting Hajime or not… that was the trial. It was a real nuisance for Hajime to be treated like an examiner as the labyrinth pleased.

“Is it fine? Your important childhood friend is being attacked there.”

“… That thing is also me. He won’t kill her. Some wound will surely be a lesson for her to get so easily brainwashed by a man like you.”

“… Just now, didn’t you say that thing was a monster?”

“It is a mimicking monster that copies my emotion, right? Then, even though it’s a monster then it won’t kill Shizuku.”

“That’s just absurd.”

That was too much of a convenient interpretation. While he concluded that it was a monster unrelated to himself, he said that it wouldn’t put Shizuku into danger because it was something that copied himself. It was really absurd.

Most likely inside his heart, Kouki understood that the false image was made up from his negative emotion already. That was why he subconsciously understood that Shizuku was safe because the negative emotions wouldn’t aim at her.

But, if he recognized that then it would mean that he recognized what the false image said as the truth. That was why, in order to throw away everything else other than Shizuku as bullshit, he concluded that it wasn’t his false image but a monster. It was a crooked logic that was too forceful, but it seemed that it had become a truth inside Kouki.

Kouki gave a glance at the false image as it unfolded a fierce swordplay with Shizuku while his killing intent was bloating up.

“Prepare yourself. I won’t let you do as you please any more than this. Shizuku and Kaori, then Yue and the others too, I’ll release everyone from you!”

At the same time as that proclamation, Kouki released the energy he gathered and explosively charged forward. He let out a wood chopping strike from the front without any hesitation.

*GOU!* Along with a terrific sound of cut wind, the holy sword that looked as though it was made from light itself attacked Hajime violently. However, in front of such a lethal attack, Hajime didn’t take even a step back and he only raised his arm.

That hand was holding Donner, *GOKIN-!* the sound of metals clashing and sparks scattered, Kouki’s full strength attack was easily blocked. Even more, it was blocked by the gun point of Donner.

“Wha-!?”

Kouki was shocked and leaked out a voice reflexively, Hajime directed a cold gaze at Kouki and opened his mouth.

“There is nothing more meaningless than insulting a true idiot as an idiot… But, I’ll just say this much… Asshole, who permitted a bastard like you to name my woman so casually? Huh?” (EN: Kouki used their first names, which is being a little too familiar in Japan)

“-!?”

Immediately after, a torrent of killing intent was overflowing. The pressure was like the pressing of a great waterfall. It was too vast to be called human, a presence of overwhelming ‘strength’ that was too terrifying. Kouki’s body that was struck with the serious monster’s coercion from close range was unintentionally stiffening.

*DOPAN!*

The trigger of Donner was pulled and an electromagnetically accelerated bullet flicked off the holy sword, plugging the muzzle as though it was insulted that it was in the way.

Unable to endure the fierce impact, the holy sword slipped from his hand and danced in the air in circles.

And then, toward Kouki that was making a banzai posture with only one hand, a black shadow from lower region―Hajime’s sure-kill yakuza kick lunged.

“Gahah!?”

The yakuza kick that struck Kouki’s stomach with a dreadful sound of impact made Kouki’s body double into a sideways ‘V’ shape while floating him in the air like that.

Without a moment’s delay, Hajime rotated on the spot and added a back-spinning kick filled with a lot of centrifugal force.

A sound of impact resonated once more. Kouki’s body was blown far away as though a large truck was running over him. Kouki that flew horizontally like a cannon had his back struck by an ice wall like that. One could only wonder just how great of an impact that was. The ice wall on his back was largely pulverized into a radial shape.

Kouki fell on the ground after that, he was on all four while coughing. Blood splattered out from his vomiting mouth.

With just a kick without a weapon or ‘Limit Break’, the internal organs of Kouki who was wearing an armor artifact of national treasure class was damaged. That fact made Kouki grit his teeth while groaning painfully.

But, there was no way Hajime would give him time to be frustrated or anything.

*DOPAN-! DOPAN-! DOPAN-!*

Consecutive sounds of gun discharge roared, and red flashes assaulted the crouching Kouki. Perhaps he noticed Hajime’s killing intent. Kouki leaped aside almost at the same time Hajime pulled the trigger, but it was as though even his dodging direction was read, that the moment Kouki jumped, the third bullet shot through his shoulder.

Furthermore, one of the bullets that Kouki evaded earlier seemed to be a normal bullet that was only clad in red magic power without being accelerated electromagnetically, when it impacted the broken ice wall behind Kouki it ricocheted, and red light attacked

Kouki was shot behind through the knee which passed through his armor’s gap.

“Gua… co, come, holy sword-“

While rolling all over the ground with blood flowing from his shoulder and leg, the collapsed Kouki reached out his hand at the falling holy sword at a slightly distant spot. The holy sword responded to Kouki’s calling voice and flew at him.

However, it didn’t settle into Kouki’s hand. Just before it reached, Hajime stepped on the sword. The holy sword struggled to return to its master, but such resistance was meaningless as the stepping foot didn’t even twitch.

“How unsightly. If you can skillfully use this new ability then surely you will be able to fight better.”

Hajime murmured with a cold tone. He was just speaking to himself without intention for Kouki to hear it, but it seemed Kouki heard it completely. He glared at Hajime with an expression warped in hatred as though he was trying to kill him with his gaze.

Donner was pointed at the temple of Kouki. Hajime’s killing intent wasn’t settled yet. He was maintaining the gruesome thickness of his intent that might stop the heart of a normal person. No matter who saw it, it appeared that Hajime intended to deal the finishing blow.

But, a desperate voice resonated at that timing.

“Nagumo-kun! Please, stop! I’ll persuade Kouki, so-“

It was Shizuku. While locked in a sword fight with the false Kouki, she begged for him to spare Kouki’s life with a look colored by fretfulness. But it became a fatal opening, and the development that Shizuku wished wasn’t something that the false image wished for.

Therefore…

{How about Shizuku leave the stage for a little bit?}

“Agh?!”

The shockwave from the false image launched and assaulted Shizuku. Shizuku was struck like that on her whole body, and she was blown away altogether with her consciousness until she hit the wall and collapsed powerlessly while sliding onto the ground.

Because a crossbit interfered between the two just before the attack hit and became a shield, it seemed that Shizuku was rescued from a direct hit, but for Shizuku who had a low defensive power even in the best of times, furthermore the might of a hero’s pure output, added by Kouki’s thorough rejection of his own negative emotion that strengthened the false image into something far stronger than the real one, just a glancing blow turned into a sufficient enough telling blow. Different from a pure slashing attack, it was a shockwave that induced cerebral concussion, so without taking a recovery measure she wouldn’t open her eyes for a while.

The false image of Kouki floated a satisfied smile from his success of skillfully making Shizuku faint, he then turned on his heel and faced Hajime. And then, with a really natural motion, he thrust out his black holy sword and launched a strong bombing of light.

The approaching flash that was drawing in a spiral was on a course that would swallow Kouki with certainty too. Was the false image trying to bury the both of them altogether?… Anyway, Hajime withdrew from that spot. He left Kouki behind.

“UWAAAAH!”

Kouki reflexively screamed and took a defensive stance, but just before the light bombing hit, it curved and began to chase after Hajime.

Hajime discovered the cover of the bombing with his magic eye stone and easily succeeded in pinpoint sniping that dispersed the attack. However, the false image successfully managed to distance Hajime from Kouki just as planned.

The false image walked toward Kouki’s side and he whispered something into the ear of the laid-down Kouki. While his mouth split apart into a grin that looked like a crescent moon, his figure that was likely whispering sweet words looked like a demon. There was no way that Kouki could admit that figure was his other self anymore like that.

Before long, Kouki’s bloodshot gaze was looking alternately at Hajime and the false image, and he then nodded reluctantly.

Right after that, the figure of the false image thinned down like mist and in exchange reddish-black particles of light began to whirl.

{Now you. It’s hero time. Let’s rescue the heroines from the scoundrel!}

“Shut up-. I’m not doing your instruction. I’m only using you for now! After defeating Nagumo, it will be your turn, don’t forget that-“

At the same time as those words, reddish black particles were entering into Kouki’s body and Kouki’s body began to pulse. *dokun dokun* A pulsating sound began to echo inside the room and pure white light that Kouki was clad in began to be mixed with a reddish-black color that looked like a blood vessel.

Kouki slowly stood up. Looking carefully, the wounds in his shoulder and leg were also healing. It appeared that the derivative ability Kouki had, ‘Healing Strength Improvement’ was explosively increased.

*DOPAN-! DOPAN-!*

There, a shooting without questions asked. Something like a kindness for reading the mood by a villain facing a hero, waiting for the transformation scene, was something that Hajime didn’t have. And while he was at it, he also threw several grenades.

Red flashes gouged Kouki’s shoulder and leg, making him unsteady on his feet.

Furthermore, the rolling grenades exploded in flame and he was swallowed in it.

“That’s pointless.”

But what came out from the flame wasn’t what turned Kouki into tatters, but those words.

That voice sounded like it was including joy in it somewhere as if it was trembling in happiness. It seemed that not much damage was inflicted, the magic power that had changed colors from pure white into reddish-black burst up and blew away the flame.

There, the figure of Kouki who became odd-eyed with one of his eyes dyed reddish-black appeared. Even the scar from the shot just now had been mostly healed. The change in his appearance wasn’t just his eye, his originally brown hair was mixed with white mesh, his holy armor was attached with several blood vessel thingies. Furthermore, at his hands, black and white, two holy swords were grasped.

“You combined?”

“It’s not my intention, but yeah. If it’s for defeating you, then I’ll resign myself to accept it. Although later, I’ll defeat this guy too.”

“What are you acting like a good kid for? You are just losing to the temptation.”

“You can insult me however you like. No matter what you say, you cannot win against me anymore. If there is this welling up strength then I can take back everything!”

“Why you are unable to notice that you got hit by loss because of that, I wonder.”

“No more talk. Prepare yourself Nagumo-! ‘Supreme Break’!”

Magic power burst up from Kouki in an even further scale of several times more. The last derivative of ‘Limit Break’ that raised up all his status by five times, ‘Supreme Break’―the strength of Kouki who had taken in his false image had already reached the total of ten thousand. It was literally a rate of increase in monster level.

Kouki made a stance with his twin holy swords. In an instant his figure hazed.

“Haah!”

A yell of spirit could be heard behind Hajime. Kouki had circled at Hajime’s back instantly. Two holy swords trailed behind white and reddish black magic power behind while carving a cross at Hajime’s back.

Hajime didn’t even look back.

(Got him!)

The moment Kouki was convinced of that, a familiar bursting sound resonated. At the same time, the two holy swords were snapped up together with a fierce impact, a red

flash pierced his torso that became defenseless. The defensive power of the armor that had been drastically increased and the ‘Physical Resistance’ skill as well as its derivative ‘Impact Mitigation’ made the attack not fatal, but an impact like a normal person receiving the serious body blow of a heavyweight boxer attacked Kouki and blew him away grandly backward.

‘How? He should not be able to react.’, even while his breath was blocked up, Kouki rearranged his stance in the air and landed. Ahead of his gaze, there was the appearance of Donner’s muzzle facing behind with only Hajime’s wrist turning back.

Looking at that, Kouki realized that it wasn’t because Hajime couldn’t react, it was that he didn’t even need to turn back. Kouki’s expression distorted in humiliation. He put strength on his feet, then he swung down his twin holy swords while screaming, ignoring the pain in his stomach.

“‘Heaven Soaring Sword – Storm’!”

Like that, what he launched was hundreds of slashes scattered in a wide range. Just the visible blades of light had been already in a hundred, and nearly three hundred blades of wind were following, lurking at the shadow. The attack was already at a level of obliteration magic.

But such a storm of hundreds of slashes was evaded by Hajime with a swaying motion like a leaf fluttering in the wind, what couldn’t be evaded was swept aside or averted.

Furthermore, while avoiding Hajime suddenly aimed Donner at Kouki with a natural motion and launched a counterattack that weaved through the gap of the storm.

The bullet that went through the gap like a joke stabbed under Kouki’s feet and scattered grand shockwave, overturning Kouki from under his feet.

And then Hajime himself also slipped through the storm of blades and approached Kouki with speed equal, no, it was faster than Kouki, and he kicked Kouki as though he was a soccer ball.

“Guah!?”

Kouki who raised a groan while thrown to the air was aimed at with Donner & Schlag.

Kouki immediately kicked the air using ‘Sky Force’ to try to escape from the line of fire, but the two revolvers’ muzzles didn’t shift from Kouki even for a bit and aimed at his future spot. Kouki’s expression unintentionally cramped.

The scene became slow as though Kouki and Hajime’s senses were stretched out. Inside the world of dull color, just before Hajime pulled the trigger, he caught the figure of Shizuku at the corner of his sight. Her figure that desperately tried to persuade Kouki and her entreaty to spare his life flashed at the back of Hajime’s mind. At the same time, he also recalled the figure of Kaori who was also this guy’s childhood friend.

Hajime clicked his tongue ‘tch’ a bit, averted his gun muzzles a bit, and he pulled the triggers consecutively with blurring speed.

*DOPAAAAN!*

The sound of a single gunshot that was slightly stretched was the proof of the simultaneous shots. Like a reversely-restored meteors, red flashes cut through the air, showering Kouki in the air with blows. Like a marionette that was unsightly manipulated by children, *gakun gakun* Kouki’s body shook while drawing a parabolic arc.

Kouki was scattering blood spray while he fell on the slightly distanced spot with a raw sound *dosha!* that resonated. Looking from the side perhaps it looked like a corpse that had been gouged by many bullets. But, that guess was denied immediately by the movement that came from Kouki. He wasted no time to stand up using the twin holy swords as support.

Blood was spurting out from his shoulders, both arms, and both legs, but those were healed in a moment. His bloodshot eyes were colored with madness, turning his look even more gruesomely. There was not even a trace of the hero who was stuffed with the dream and hope of the people anymore.

“You are holding back? Are you making fun of me?”

All of the places he was shot at weren’t vital spots. It was an attack that was transparently tried to make the opponent powerless. Therefore, Kouki felt like he wasn’t even seen as an opponent even though here he was fighting to kill. Inside his chest, a muddy black part was further welling up.

Hajime tapped Donner on his shoulder *ton ton* while answering easily as though it was nothing.

“Well, you who fall that far is just troublesome and it’s better to kill you but… if I do that Yaegashi and Kaori will cry. I’ll beat you up appropriately and I’ll leave the rest to your childhood friends.”

“-, don’t screw with me-! I’ll make you lose that composure right now!”

Once more Kouki brandished his twin holy swords while approaching closer. Hatred and jealousy were attached on his face.

It seemed that Hajime was thinking about the two girls more than himself, it made severe displeasure fill his chest.

Fierce swordplay assaulted Hajime, but everything was handled by him with a cold expression without any hurry, seeing that the black emotion was more and more seething in Kouki and he shouted, unable to bear it.

“You-, someone like you-, don’t speak as though you understand! The one who really understand Shizuku and Kaori is me-. The one who treasured the two of them more than anyone is me-. I am the one that should be together with the two of them-. It’s not the likes of you! It’s absolutely not a guy like you!”

“… You are like a brat throwing tantrum.”

Slipping through the twin holy swords Kouki brandished, Hajime’s Donner & Schlag pierced his body from range zero. However, the current Kouki was unstoppable by something like that. Even though holes were opened in his body, it was healed with power that literally surpassed any limit. Kouki ignored the damage and recklessly charged.

That figure was exactly like Hajime said, a figure of a kid that was throwing a tantrum because the situation wasn’t going as he wished it.

As though hailing Kouki’s negative emotion, the spec of his flesh that had passed its limit a long time ago was forcefully raising even more. Most likely the possessing false image was strengthened and Kouki himself was also strengthened following that.

Looking at the spec, Kouki was already at the level that neared Hajime without ‘Limit Break’ activated. The storm of swordplay that was unleashed possessed speed and might that resembled the apostle of god ‘Nointo’, even so, his power was still increasing as though to say that it still wasn’t enough.

“OOOOOOOOO-“

“…”

The shrieking of fighting spirit surged from Kouki’s mouth. On the other hand, Hajime was… silent. Even with Kouki’s spec raising to a level that wasn’t inferior to Nointo even though it wasn’t superior too, but Hajime didn’t let loose the roar of fighting spirit like what he exchanged with Nointo once. And then as expected, he also didn’t take a plunge into ‘Limit Break’.

It didn’t reach Kouki’s attack. No matter how fast it became, no matter how strong it got, it didn’t even graze Hajime.

The reason was simple. The user’s mental area was inexperienced, on top of that it was dull. The attack was frenzied and lacked calmness, the attack was merely wanting to crush the opponent and soaked in joy. Something like that, against anyone, in any kind of place, would surely not reach.

And, at that time, a part of the ice wall behind Kouki melted and an entrance of a passage opened. Hajime sent his gaze there while warding off Kouki’s war cry and vilification, there Yue and others, all the members came out.

Seeing Hajime and Kouki’s fight, their eyes opened wide and they stood still with a dumbfounded look. However, Kouki didn’t even notice them at all, he was merely scattering his hatred and killing intent earnestly in order to kill Hajime.

“If only, if only you weren’t here, everything will go well! Kaori and also Shizuku would belong to me forever! I would have saved this world as a hero! You, you are the one that messed up everything!”

“…”

“Even though you are a killer-. Even though you easily abandoned others-. There is no way someone who is the worst can be liked by people!”

“… And so, I brainwashed them?”

“That’s right! There is no other explanation except that! Kaori and Shizuku, and Yue and Shia and Tio too, everyone was brainwashed and played around by you. Sooner or later you are going to brainwash Ryuutaro and Suzu too, aren’t you!? I won’t let you. I am a hero. I’ll save everyone from your hand, I’ll take back everything, everything! You are not needed anymore-!”

That scream was also audible to Yue and others too. The eyes of Yue and Shia narrowed dangerously, and Tio frowned in displeasure. In contrast, Kaori covered his mouth with both hands from the shock she received. She didn’t even have any word toward the absurd grievance of his childhood friend that was too egoist. Ryuutaro and Suzu were also the same, they were staring in a daze at Kouki while being completely stiff.

Hajime made a long sigh inside his heart thinking that this was really one troublesome guy while transmitting ‘Telepathy’ to Yue and others.

{Looks like you all are safe too.}

{… Nn. All good. Rather than that, what’s with that idiot?}

{That’s right. He is saying a really reprehensible thing.}

Yue and Shia returned back to a tone that felt angry. Their beloved person was cursed unfavorably and in the end was declared as unneeded. In addition, they inadvertently also couldn’t stomach Kouki calling them without an honorific.

Hajime leaked out a small smile at the two.

{To explain it simply, he lost to his false image and now he is in the middle of venting his anger with his convenient interpretation in full throttle. He took in his false image and his strength was raised. Looks like he can clear the trial if he regains himself, but… that looks impossible. Even Yaegashi, she tried to persuade him but in the end, she ended up like that.}

Hajime threw a kick at Kouki’s knee to make him flinch while sending his gaze at Shizuku’s direction. Yue and others whose attention were lured by Hajime also sent their gazes there and discovered the fainted Shizuku.

{Shizuku-chan!}

{She wasn’t hit directly. She shouldn’t be seriously wounded, but for the moment, look at her Kaori.}

{Oh, of course! Leave it to me!}

Kaori who was petrified recovered her senses when she saw Shizuku’s figure and she rushed at her in panic.

That motion finally made Kouki notice the existence of Yue and the others too. He took distance from Hajime while turning his gaze at them with wide eyes, next he smiled widely at them.

“Everyone, you all came. Wait a little for me. I swear that I’ll beat this guy and release everyone right now.”

Kouki’s words made Yue, Shia, and Tio go past displeasure and now they directed a pitying gaze at him. In exchange, Ryuutaro and Suzu came back to their senses and they yelled desperately.

“Just what are you saying, Kouki? What the hell! Come back to your senses!”

“Kouki-kun, pull yourself together! The one that you must defeat isn’t Nagumo-kun, it’s yourself!”

Hearing those heartfelt yells of the two, instead of being happy, Kouki’s expression turned into rage. As expected, the target of that rage was Hajime.

“… Nagumo. Don’t tell me, you have even brainwashed Ryuutaro and Shizuku? Just how rotten are you? How much you are going to steal from me until you are satisfied?!

Ah, I see. I understand right now. Even Eri… that was your work, huh? I thought that it was strange that she changed like that. But, if that was because of your brainwashing, then everything makes sense.”

“It doesn’t make sense you know, idiot.”

“Making excuses this late is just unsightly. I’ll make you atone for your sin for sure.”

“I think that idiocy to your level is already a big enough sin, though…”

Kouki screamed and raised his twin holy swords. A torrent of magic power fiercely whirled. The surrounding ground was blown away just from the waves and the ceiling was obliterated. It seemed that he planned to unleash ‘Heaven Might’ using the tremendous magic power.

“There is no way I’m going to wait for you, you know.”

With an exasperated expression, Hajime took out a Bola from ‘Treasure Warehouse’ and threw it to Kouki. Because he was in the middle of charging, Kouki was late in dodging and he got splendidly entangled, he was fixed in place with both his hands bounded immobile in the air.

“Ugh, you coward. But, just this much-“

It seemed that a villain that couldn’t read the mood was a coward. Kouki insulted Hajime while raising his magic power even more in an attempt to escape from Bola. But as long as it wasn’t Nointo then it shouldn’t be possible to escape from it in several seconds, in that time Hajime had finished charging.

Yes, in Hajime’s hand a rifle with a shape that resembled Schlagen was grasped before anyone was aware. What was different from Schlagen was its caliber. Its firing mouth that could be filled with a basket ball smoothly was wide open.

A lump of red magic power shining brilliantly was converged in that large firing mouth.

Magic power cannon ‘Grenzen’――a pure magic power bombardment artifact. From his experience in Merujiine Undersea Ruins, there was also some situation where a pure magic power attack would be useful, so Hajime learned and created this. Although until now, there was no chance to use it, so it was something that was shelved.

The derivative of ‘Magic Power Manipulation’ that was ‘Magic Power Emission’,‘Magic Power Compression’, ‘Remote Control’, also ‘High-Speed Magic Power Recovery’ and its derivative ‘Magic Source Absorption’, all those skills were used as a base and included into the magic power cannon. It focused not just Hajime’s magic power but also the magic power of the outside world, combined with gravity magic so it could compress that magic power. The more the compressed magic power was then the more the amount of magic power of the target would be blown away.

And then right now the amount of the focused magic power was in the amount that would easily surpass ten thousand if it was converted into a status number. No matter how much Kouki had been strengthened outside of the proper track, Kouki was continuously consuming magic power thoroughly with all his might. The result was something that could be easily understood.

“Even if you deny your own words, at the very least you should accept Yaegashi’s words.”

Hajime said that and aimed the focused magic power at Kouki who was opening his eyes wide in panic, and then the trigger was pulled.

“You-, if only you were not here-. I――”

The scream that was filled with Kouki’s hatred resonated. The next moment, a red flash that resembled Schlagen traced a spiral, turning into a bombardment that rushed at Kouki, and his figure was completely swallowed without any spot spared.

Shizuku who was healed by Kaori had opened her eyes, and then Ryuutaro and Suzu gulped audibly. The silent bombardment that didn’t make any roar or destruction dyed the spacious room with a vivid red, and the ice wall was sparkling like a garnet. In a certain meaning, it was a spectacle that could be called fantastical.

Before long the thick flash thinned down, it melted into the air and dispersed. After that, it was as expected there was no trace of destruction at all, and Kouki appeared without any wound. The binding due to the Bola had been released.

*karan-! karan-!*

The stiff sound resonated. It was the sound of Kouki dropping his two holy swords. At the same time, the black holy sword flickered while disappearing. Looking at it, Kouki’s eye that was reddish-black also returned to normal, his hair also recovered its original color. Reddish-black veins also disappeared from the holy armor. It appeared that he had completely returned to normal.

“My, my strength is vanishing… uu, again, still again… I will take back, everything…”

Hajime’s magic power cannon had blown away the factor of the false image nesting inside Kouki. Matching with his return to his original appearance, the magic power had also stopped welling up from inside. Right now, Kouki could only feel the slight magic power just before it dried up.

Kouki was desperately tying down his consciousness that even now was going to sink into darkness while repeating talk in delirium. And then he was trying to pick up his holy sword even while staggering.

There Hajime who had stored back Grenzen into ‘Treasure Warehouse’ approached, he grasped Kouki’s collar and lifted him up. “Release me!” Kouki yelled angrily, but the clamping hand was too strong that he could only groan.

Seeing Hajime’s dangerous look, Ryuutaro thought that Kouki was going to get killed and he was about to jump, but he was stopped by Tio. Tio smiled as though to say that it would be okay.

Hajime lifted up Kouki while he sent his gaze at Kaori and Shizuku who were cuddling close to each other. Kaori and also Shizuku were directing Hajime painful and pleading gazes. Hajime sighed deeply looking at those two and he shrugged his shoulders with an air of ‘really it can’t be helped’. The expression of the two softened gently.

Hajime who turned at Kouki again threw words with calm but clearly resounding tone while everyone was watching.

“Start over your life from the beginning once more, you stupid, foolish idiot.”

Right after, Hajime’s right hand, his bare fist, captured Kouki’s face. It was merely a clenched straight fist.

*GOGA-!* Such sound resonated, and like that Kouki was struck into the ground and his consciousness was easily cut off, but the whites of his eyes were barely open.

Kaori and Shizuku rushed close, and the other members too.

Hajime looked at the fainted Kouki while wondering if his “Let’s Increase the Meat Shield in Preparation of the Worst Case That There is a lot of Nointo Strategy” was actually cursed. He scratched at his cheek while sighing deeply at how troublesome this was.

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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

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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/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.

________________________________________________

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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