Arifureta - Chapter 128
Hajime felt a dry,cold texture on the back of his head. This feeling rapidly brought Hajime's dozing consciousness back to reality.
He shook his head to clear it, then quickly stood up and checked his surroundings.
Without any sources of light it was pitch-black. However, since Hajime had his 'Night Vision' the darkness didn't hinder his sight.
As a result, a quick look around told him that he was in a cave similar to the large tree they had entered before he lost consciousness. However he quickly realised that it was much larger.
There was one distinct difference though It was a domed, circular space, filled with transparent tan coloured, oblong objects that gave off a clean feeling. They were regularly spaced throughout the domed area.
Judging from the size, each could fit a person inside.
Hajime thought they looked exactly like coffins.
The empty space Hajime had woken up in was lined up with these tan coffins.
Hajime looked around, but there was nothing in the center of the dome and there didn't seem to be any kind of exit in the surroundings.
He turned his gaze back onto one of the coffins lined up in a row and after hesitating slightly, stepped up beside.
[This is.....just like amber.]
Then Hajime breath caught when he realised Shia was inside the amber.
Hajime thought the sleeping Shia inside the transparent coffin looked just like an ancient insect trapped in amber.
He briefly used 'Sign Perception' to check Shia's status and was able to sense a steady pulse.
He was able to keep himself calm by recalling when he came to. Hajime was guessing that he had also been encased in amber shortly before he woke up.
There were a total of nine amber coffins enshrined in the room. He suspected that if he checked all of them he would find his other party members trapped inside. They had most likely been imprisoned in the amber after they had entered the hollow of the pseudo-treant.
They were all probably ensnared in appealing dreamlike worlds just as he had been. If they manage to escape from that dream world then it is likely that they will be freed from the amber right in front of Hajime's eyes.
As Hajime found and stared into the amber imprisoning Yue he concluded that there was at least one good thing about the current situation.
[Well, at any rate it's good that Yue and Tio are back in their bodies. Turning them back myself.....may have been a problem.]
Just as Hajime had said, inside two of the amber coffins were Yue and Tio, and not in their goblin forms but their usual, beautiful, bodies. They were probably returned to their original selves when the previous stage was cleared.
Personally Hajime was glad. He would have loved her either way, but the original Yue was the best.
Hajime lowered himself down beside Yue and stretch his hand out towards his beloved's face. Of course the amber got in the way, but he still moved his hand as if to caress her face.
[Come back soon, Yue. I want to hear your voice.....]
For a moment the dangerous thought of breaking the amber by force crossed his mind, but if he did break her free he was worried that it might cause the trial to end in failure, so he held back the urge.
[.....Yue in a blazer......was dangerous. Shia too....how was dream me able to retain his reason?....Alright, I'll have you wear it once we've returned to Japan.]
As Hajime was caught up in these stupid thoughts the amber began to emit a faint light.
Hajime withdrew his hand and took a step back while watching the change.
As the light grew stronger the amber began to melt from the outside inwards. As the amber melted it would trickle down the side and be absorbed into the ground.
Within 5 minutes the amber covering Yue had completely dissipated.
Hajime confirmed Yue was breathing from the rising and falling of her chest. With that his remaining tension dissolved and he gently gathered her up in his arms.
It wasn't clear whether he didn't want to leave her lying down on the ground, or perhaps more likely, he just wanted to hold her.
Yue's long eyelashes began to quiver as Hajime gently brushed some of her hair away from her face while he cradled her in his arms like a child.
Yue slowly opened her eyes.
[Yue....how are you feeling?]
[Aah, it's me.]
Yue still seemed to be a little dazed, but her gaze didn't wander away from Hajime for even a moment.
Once her consciousness had completely returned she stared at Hajime carefully.
[...Is it.....the real Hajime?]
[Haha, I understand why you would ask, but Yue must decide for herself. Is the me before Yue right now real, or a fake?]
There was most likely an imposter Hajime in the dream Yue saw,but Hajime was happy to let Yue judge for herself. He was sure that she would be able to tell the difference between the real him and the fantasy she had seen.
[By the way, right now I am sure that the Yue in my arms is the real one.]
Hajime's words left Yue staring at him with a blank expression for a moment, but she quickly grasped his meaning and smiled.
Hajime was telling her that there had also been an imitation of Yue in his dream, and that he was glad that she too had dreamed of him in her ideal world.
The corner of Yue's eyes lowered and her mouth arced to form a truly delightful smile.
[......How can you tell?]
Yue already knew the answer, but she still wanted to hear him say it. Even if their hearts understood each other, it was still a wonderful thing to hear your beloved say the words out loud.
Once again, Hajime knew exactly how Yue felt. So he shrugged his shoulders and answered casually.
[I don't feel any uneasiness.....deep inside of me. It's like my soul is whispering to me ’’the one in your arms is your 'special one'’’]
[Fufu.....Me too. Deep inside something is telling me that the person I am embracing now is Hajime. ... ...Forget I asked?]
[Maa, you were still half asleep.]
Yue eyes softened as Hajime once again shrugged his shoulders, then she suddenly wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him forcefully.
-Gohon! (TL: *cough*)
[......What was I like in your dream?]
[My school's blazer looked so good on you that I could die.]
Yue could now guess what kind of world Hajime had seen, but the unexpected answer was so amusing that Yue couldn't stop her small voice from ringing out with laughter when she heard it..
[...I'll wear it for you someday.]
[That's something to look forward to. How was it for you?]
Yue buries her face into Hajime's neck. As he was enjoying the repeated pecks of her lips against his neck Hajime asked her about her dream too.
[........The ceremonial clothes and throne suited you so well I could almost die.]
[Sorry.....Ceremonial clothes aside, a throne is impossible. Or rather, why a throne?]
[Kufufu....In my dream I was an Empress...and we had 12 children.]
[Just how far did you go in your dream!? A dozen is too many!]
Hajime unintentionally drew himself back from Yue and stared at her in shock. Yue stared at Hajime with a seductive look and licked her glossy lips still wet from the kiss.
This seductive look caused Hajime's breath catch and made his heart to start racing. The fierce spirit that could withstand the attacks of any monster was easily shaken.
[.......Fufu, I have high expectations.]
[......As expected, I won't be able to win against Yue in my whole life.]
-Gohotsuehhon! ( Editor: *choke* *sob*? TL: YES, NOT MY NOTE!!!! Btw. is more like *hardcore cough*)
Hajime gave a roguish smile while staring up towards the sky, the light of seriousness in Yue's eyes had forced him to give in.
Once again he was sure, 'this is my Yue'.
Returning to the excitement from before, Hajime cupped the side of Yue's cheek with one hand before sliding it down to her waist and embracing her. Yue, sensing that Hajime wanted the same thing as her, closed her eyes and lifted her lips towards his.
Her rose-coloured cheeks were irresistibly cute, and her vibrant tongue, visible through her opened and bewitching lips, was extremely captivating. There was no more need for words as the two drew closer, each wanting the others lips. They continued to draw closer. 10 centimetres.....5 centimetres....and when the distance reached 0...
[Ugottsukeetsuehengohotsugahatsutsutobuetsukushoitsu!!!!] (TL: Gibberish for me. Maybe somebody will get it right: ウゴッツクエッェヘンゴホッガハッツトブエックショイッ！！！！)
They were interrupted by a strange noise that was vaguely familiar. This time the unidentified sound had been close enough that they couldn't miss it anymore.
Yue and Hajime exchanged glances, then turned their heads towards the sound. There they saw...
[Uuu *gusu*, whatever....I can see I'm not wanted....even though I did my best to come back.....and then suddenly that atmosphere.....tried to get attention by clearing my throat, but.....uuuu *gusu*...reality is always so cruel....uuu~.]
(TL: Left it *gusu* rather than translating it. It just means crying, bawling or something like that.)
They were greeted with the pitiful sight of Shia, struggling to hold back her tears as her rabbit ears drooped. The drops of moisture trickling out from the corner of her eyes stirred up quite a bit of pity.
It would seem that Shia had woken up shortly after Yue, unfortunately they had been too caught up in their own reunion to notice.
Hajime and Yue quickly began to soothe the utterly miserable Shia. Hajime drew Shia close and tightly embraced her, and after a while the lonely rabbit's usual spirit began to return. Soon both her rabbit ears and cheeks were twitching with delight, while her rabbit tail flapped about happily.
[Un, as I thought, Shia must have rabbit ears. It's the rabbit ears that make her who she is, she just isn't Shia without them. Better put, it's that Shia existence is defined by her rabbit ears.]
[No, I can't understand that! Rabbit ears are not all that I am... but you really seem happy to see them Hajime-san. Did something happen in your dream?]
[Aah~, do I? The Shia in my dream didn't have any rabbit ears, she was just an ordinary girl.]
[......Is that even Shia?]
[Ano, Yue-san? It's true that my rabbit ears are part of my identity, but I would still be Shia without them you know?]
Shia was beginning to feel a vague sense of unease from their reactions.
Perhaps they are only nice to me because they like my rabbit ears?
Hajime and Yue quickly began to reassure Shia once they saw her worried expression and soon changed the topic to asking her what she had seen in her dream.
It seems that she dreamt of a world where the Haulia tribe weren't exiled and hunted, and she was able to live happily together with Yue and Hajime.
Yue explained hers again as well. It seems that in her dream she was never betrayed and her former country didn't fall to ruin. She had received Hajime as her groom and they had started a family together.
[As for me, my world was one where I was living a happy life with Yue, Shia &the others without ever having been summoned to this world. It basically rewrote the great suffering I experienced in the past but included the happiness of now.]
[I see... That certainly would be an ideal world in a certain sense]
[.....How did Shia escape?]
Shia answered the question on how she escaped from her dream world with a big smile and a laugh.
[It was obviously because I couldn't deny my current self even if I wanted to.]
Yue nodded with a convinced look while Hajime nodded with a gentle look in his eyes.
In her dream Shia must have remained as her weak self from the past, but she was unable to accept it.
[In the dream I met Hajime-san and the others before my family were attacked. We were all living together and I was fine with just being protected. But something felt wrong! It was if my heart was screaming at me 'there is no way you can stand beside them with a way of life that embraces weakness'. The Hajime-san who was telling me he would protect me and the Yue-san who was telling me not to worry... were certainly sweet and gentle, pleasant even, but the more they told me that the more my discomfort grew... By the time I noticed it, I had already decided to fight by the side of Hajime-san and the others.]
[So that's how you got back...]
[Hai! It is because instead of watching your backs, I want to stand beside you both now and in the future. Even if it ends up being a path filled with hardships and pain.]
While watching Shia grin happily Hajime became lost in thought. Shia had really become strong. The first time they had met.....he had tried to drive her away as hard as he could... Now it wasn't possible for him to reject her, all thanks to her love for Hajime and her strong desire to be an equal part of their group.
A feeling of affection for Shia, different from the one he felt for Yue, welled up inside Hajime. He pulled her head towards his chest and began patting her gently.
Standing at their side, Yue was able to guess Hajime feelings from the affectionate face he was making.
[Fue, umm, Hajime-san?]
[Maa, how should i say it?... welcome back, Shia. You did well.]
[Ah... Yes, I'm back...]
'The place where you belong is by my side' is what Shia felt Hajime meant when she heard him say 'welcome back'. For a short while it left her feeling a little giddy and embarrassed, but soon the happiest smile surfaced on her face and she clung onto Hajime tightly.
As usual, Hajime had Yue cuddled up under his right arm and Shia embraced under the left arm as they all discussed their dreams, and as they were chatting another one of the amber prisons began to give off a faint light. Once again, one of their companions was about to break out of their prison of sweet temptation.
[If I'm not mistaken, that amber is...]
Hajime, recalling who was in that prison, muttered softly. Yue increased the intensity of her magical light so they could better see the escapee. As the light grew brighter...
[Mugaa! Master's scorn is not such a half-hearted thing as that-! If you expect to satisfy me you better train harder before coming back again!]
The person waving her fist in the air and saying such things immediately after waking up was, of course, none other than Tio.
Able to guess the contents of Tio's dream just from her remark, they all reflexively directed silent gazes of scorn at her. Hajime, who was spoken of in such a way, eyes especially looked as if they were staring at trash.
Feeling his gaze, all of the muscles in Tio's body began to quiver. Then, turning around with an excited expression on her face, she was greeted with the cold gazes of Hajime's group and started to tremble even more. After a moment she started running towards Hajime like a lost dog towards its owner, an expression of ecstasy on her face.
[Master~ This one just got back now~! Shower mistress with your love~!](TL note: She was actually saying love me or favour me, but i decided to go along with this instead.)
Even after being turned into a Goblin she was still the same as always. Tio jumped towards Hajime with a divers pose.
Hajime silently drew Donner and shot Tio mid jump, causing her to perform a triple flip in the air before landing facedown on the ground. He then stepped onto her back and trampled her further into the ground with his feet, causing her to start making screams heavily mixed with panting noises.
[This worthless dragon! Just what the heck did she have me do in her dream?]
[This is it! This is what this one missed! Even though this one did her best to return from that fake world, this one is rewarded by being shot and trampled underfoot, with eyes that look at this one as if seeing trash! The mildness of that fake was nothing compared to this exquisite pain! This is how mistress' one and only master does things! More! Hurt this one more~!]
[...Just die, you pervert.]
Hajime, unable to listen to her outcries anymore, snapped and invoked 'Thunder Clad'. Tio, unable to withstand it, arched backwards before exhausting her strength and collapsing back onto the ground while giving off white smoke.
However, despite the ordeal, the expression of Tio's face was one of perverted ecstasy.
She looked truly happy, which left Hajime feeling even more repulsed.
Soon after that Tio revived herself without any appearance of having suffered any damage at all. Then, though no one asked and they all refused to listen, she zealously talked at length about how unbecoming a master the Hajime in her dream was.
The fake world should be designed to show the specific individual a sweet fantasy that would leave them trapped inside their dreams.
Assuming that is true, Tio being able to escape due to feeling unsatisfied is an extremely strange story. It's an unpleasant thought, but it seems that Tio was able to escape because the Great Dungeon was unable to gauge her pervertedness.It had been able to read that Hajime is Tio's loved one, and that Tio likes se*ual oppression, but it seems it wasn't able to understand how she interpreted 'punishment' and 'reward'.
Now, the Great Dungeon, who's trap had easily been escaped and was being spoken ill of after having done it's best to create Tio's ideal master, seemed kind of pitiable.
Haltina must never have expected this kind of pervert would come to challenger it.
In his mind Hajime paid his respects to Haltina while imagining them wearily crumbling into dust.
While they were all caught up in this another one of the amber prisons begun to shine. It would seem the next one to escape would be Kaori.
Hajime and the others approached the side of her amber shortly before she opened her eyes. At first she seemed to be panting faintly, but when she saw Hajime and the others gathered around her she took a deep breath in relief. However, the moment her eyes met with Hajime's her faced flushed a boiling red and she retreated until her back hit the wall.
Hajime, who had never been avoided by Kaori before, was more confused than surprised. He turned his gaze to Yue and the others as if to ask what happened. Kaori, noticing Hajime's confusion, quickly attempted to resolve the misunderstanding.
[Oh...! It's not like that Hajime-kun! Just now that is, a little, how should I say it... Anyway it's not like that. I wasn't avoiding you...]
[Ahh~ No, it's not a problem... I guess it must have something to do with your dream... Just what was it that you saw...?]
[Eh? Ah, what... you ask? That's... .... ....Awwaaah]
Kaori tried to answer the question asked by the wryly smiling Hajime, but wasn't able to give a coherent answer. Her cheeks started blushing more and more until she eventually covered her face with both hands and started to moan.
The girls were able to get the gist of her dream from her reaction and each displayed a different response. Tio was going [Hohou~] while grinning as if she found something extremely interesting. Shia was muttering [...Kaori-san tteba] while blushing and intermittently averting her eyes. And as for Yue... she attacked her with sharp words while looking at her with scornful eyes.
[...Kaori, you closet pervert]
Kaori trembled and tried to make excuses for her still beet-red face.
[I...I am not a closet pervert! D..don't say such weird things!]
[...then, tell us what kind of dream you had.]
[Th..that's...It..it was... just a repetitive everyday life]
[...to say you attacked Hajime on daily basis...]
[I...I didn't attack! I just pushed him down a little... after that Hajime-kun himself... waaah!]
[...Kaori is banned from getting close to Hajime. She's too dangerous.]
[I..I'm not dangerous! Hajime-kun she's wrong, you know? I wouldn't attack Hajime-kun, you know?]
[Haa... yes, yes... I understand.]
It would seem all sorts of things happened with Hajime while Kaori was in her dream. Although she was able to shake off the temptation and return... it seems she indulged in quite the bittersweet springtime of her youth before she returned.
Kaori kept blushing and stealing glances at Hajime. It seems that this innocent reaction stirred up the sadist in Yue, who started trying to further stimulating Kaori by whispering something into her ear.
Kaori covered her ears and started shaking her head, trying to escape from Yue's tormenting whispers. It was like watching a pitiful mouse being toyed with by a playful cat.
[Maa, anyway, with this all our members are back.]
Shia released the tension from her shoulders upon hearing Hajime's words, then turned her gaze towards Kouki and the others.
[That's true. Then, what should we do about them?]
[Let's see... ...If it comes down to it we can just destroy the amber, but for now let's wait for them to break out on their own. If we interfere it'd probably render their efforts to challenge the Great Dungeon thus far pointless.
[How long do we wait?]
[Hmm... perhaps long enough for us to eat and take a little break? In my case, I snapped and destroyed my dream with brute force. I probably cleared it just fine....but I only have about ten percent of my magic left so I would like to rest and recover for a bit.
[......Just what the heck were you thinking?]
Shia was directing an astonished gaze towards Hajime as she spoke. Their usual roles had been reversed and Hajime was wearing quite a bitter expression.
[Believe me, I am reflecting on my actions. I seem to have been unusually worked up since we entered this Dungeon.]
[Ahh~! That'd be because the Dungeon used Yue-san...]
[Maybe, but I can't use that as an excuse, you know, because in a sense it proves that it really is a weakness. It'll probably be difficult, but I am going to try and use this opportunity to overcome it.]
Shia directed an admiring gaze at the Hajime who was showing such an admirable attitude. Then, after throwing a sidelong glance at Yue, who was still busy teasing Kaori, and Tio, who was listening in and breathing roughly, Shia leaned in and whispered to Hajime.
[Umm, that is...If what happened to Yue-san were to happen to me...would you also get angry like that?]
Shia was averting her gaze, but her rabbit ears were honed in on Hajime's direction. She wanted to know if Hajime would get angry for her sake, even if wasn't to the same extent as he did for Yue.
At first Hajime was going to brush her off as usual, but when he saw Shia peeking at him with wavering eyes he scratched his cheek and decided to answer her honestly this time.
[The reason I destroyed the dream wasn't just because of Yue. You were there too, but I... just couldn't be happy without the Shia I know.]
[Ah...... ehehe, is that so?]
Shia was waving her rabbit ears and tail around happily while wearing a delighted smile on her face. Upon seeing her happy expression Hajime's hand reached out naturally to feel them.
Soon after, Kaori, unable to take Yue's teasing anymore, clung onto Hajime in tears. Shia, who was still in an excessively good mood, begun to soothe Kaori while Yue puffed out her chest with satisfaction. Tio....well let's leave her aside.
They decided to eat a meal while they waited for Kouki and the others, but even after 3 hours there was no sign of them escaping.
[It might be better to save them soon...]
[... ...n, right]
[It does seem like... we would be here for a long time if we keep waiting for them to get out on their own]( Note by TL: Shia)
Both Yue and Shia voiced their agreement, thinking that it couldn't be helped. However Kaori quickly stepped in.
[Wouldn't it be alright to wait a little longer? Just a bit more? If it's Shizuku-chan and the others then they can surely...]
Since Kaori herself understood Shizuku and the others desperation better than anyone, one way or another she wanted them to capture the dungeon and receive the Age of Gods magic. A person's survival rate increases by leaps and bounds with even one Age of Gods magic. Kaori wanted them to get stronger so that they too could safely return to Japan.
The reason Hajime had allowed them to accompany him into the dungeon was so that he could use them as foot soldiers in the cases where apostles like Nointo appeared again. To further this plan he was hoping they would be able to obtain the Age of Gods magic here and then head out and defeat the other Great Dungeons on their own.
That's why, when he saw Kaori's pleading eyes, he shrugged his shoulders and decided to wait a little while longer. Kaori smiled happily when she saw Hajime agree and began to casually try to get closer to him, however she was immediately blocked just as casually by Yue.
As this was happening one of the ambers started to shine.
[That amber is...Shizuku-chan's!]
[Huh, as expected the fastest one was Yaegashi.]
[Fumu. Shizuku is level-headed after all](Tio)
Upon seeing the melting amber Kaori rushed over at full speed. Soon after Shizuku abruptly opened her eyes and began groaning in a soft voice as she tried to get up. Kaori reached over and supported her as Shizuku weakly raised herself out of the remains of the amber.
[Where am I...? ...Kaori?]
[Un, it's me, Shizuku-chan. Welcome back!]
[I see, I'm back, huh. Fuu, for some reason I'm feeling quite tired...]
Shizuku gave a heavy sigh as if she really was feeling tired, before shaking her head as if to clear it of some lingering thought. She then smiled at Kaori and returned her greeting with a warm [I'm back].
After Kaori and Shizuku had finished their happy reunion Hajime and others approached as well.
[You overslept quite a bit, but it's good that you were able to overcome it]
[Hah? Ah, Na..Nagumo-kun... Y..you're right. It's good to be back.]
For some reason the moment Hajime called out to her Shizuku's gaze began to wander aimlessly and she started to stutter.
Upon seeing Shizuku behave strangely Yue and the others became puzzled. Shizuku cleared her throat as if to hide her unrest and turned her face away from them to conceal her slightly reddened cheeks.
[...seems Kouki and others are taking their time, huh?]
[Un, we came back several hours ago, but since then Shizuku-chan is the first one to escape.]
[Is that so? They came up with a troubling trial I guess. Well, it can't be helped. While saying so, it seems I made you wait quite a bit. I guess I should say I am sorry?]
[Don't worry about it, Shizuku-san. Congratulations on your escape. ...and... i'd like to ask you a tiny question, but...]
[Thank you Shia. It's alright, what might it be about?]
Shizuku replied to Shia with a smile that was using all of her reserves of composure. She had gotten a bad feeling about Shia's question right away.
However, it seems the one who would be asking the question wouldn't be Shia, but rather Yue, who had somehow gotten beside Shizuku without anyone noticing.
[Wh..what is it?]
[Umm, looking at me silently like that makes me feel uncomfortable... ...Yue?]
For some reason Yue was starting into Shizuku's eyes from beside her. Shizuku was desperately trying to suppress the feeling of unease that Yue's exquisite, doll-like, deadpan face was stirring inside her.
Finally, Yue asked a question with a tone that suggested she was confirming something she already knew.
[...Shizuku...what kind of dream was it?]
[Eh? What kind you say? It was an ordinary dream. There was nothing unusual. Yes, it was a really plain, ordinary dream]
[...ordinary? Who was in it?]
[Who you say? ...Everyone. Everyone was there]
[... ... I see]
Shizuku answered firmly while looking straight into Yue's eyes, as if to show that she wasn't disturbed one bit. Although this was her intention, she didn't realise that her extremely abstract answers had given away the state of affairs in her heart.
Yue, of course, had noticed it, as had the others. However Shizuku was giving off such a strong aura implying she didn't want to talk about it that they decided to leave it be for now.
When Yue and the others backed off Shizuku appeared openly relieved.
With the inquisition finished, they guided the tired Shizuku to the centre of the room and begun to prepare tea. As she was being lead to join the impromptu tea time, Shizuku couldn't help muttering to herself.
[... ...Me being a princess is impossible... ...and more importantly, why wasn't the prince Kouki or Ryutarou?... ... murmur...]
Though there wasn't anyone close enough to hear her.
Several hours later Shizuku finished resting and had completely recovered from her mental fatigue. Having decided they couldn't wait any longer, they were now preparing to force the breakout of Kouki, Ryutarou and Suzu.
Hajime or Yue could've easily been able to destroy the amber, but in their party was someone who had a skill that was much better suited for the job.
[Now then Kaori, it's all yours. Try not to 'decompose' their bodies.]
[Un, it's alright. Outside of real battle there's no need to worry about the control anymore.]
After giving her reply to Hajime, Kaori abruptly put her hand on the nearest amber and began to release her maryoku (magic) as if to permeate it. Pale, silvery, magic rays coloured the room in moonlit brilliance as Kaori's maryoku delicately coiled around and spread itself evenly throughout the remaining amber prisons.
There was no need to chant, but since it helped to focus the image in her mind she recited it on purpose. Immediately after, the amber surrounding Kouki and others started to crumble. it looked more like it was decaying than melting, the particles that became too small for the eyes to see looked as if they were vanishing into thin air.
Within 3 minutes all the amber had completely decomposed and vanished into thin air. Concerned over the aftereffects of being forcibly released from their trials, Shizuku and Kaori anxiously began to check the condition of Kouki and the others.
However it seemed it was an unnecessary fear.
[.....Huh? Wha, Kaori? Shizuku? This is? But I was... with you two...]
[N, ah? What is this place? I thought I was......]
[Eh? No way... Eri was... ...Eri...]
All three of them woke up suddenly, as if they had never been asleep.
Because they had suddenly awoken from their pleasant dreams to find themselves in a dimly lit cave it seems their senses had been thrown into confusion. Suzu was especially distraught, reaching her grasping hand out towards empty space. It was obvious from her words who she was reaching out for. Thinking about what kind of dream she must have been having, it is understandable why she wasn't able to wake herself up from it.
Both Kaori and Shizuku made sympathetic expressions when they saw Suzu's sad state. It wasn't surprising that the severe betrayal had left her wounded deeply. Though she is always laughing and smiling, even now that wound must be bleeding beneath the surface.
The trio slowly become silent as they sorrowfully started to realise that what they had been seeing was only a dream. However, they all handled the realisation differently. Ryutarou, even though he continues to give off a dejected feeling, abruptly scratches his head with an embarrassed expression while saying [Guess it can't be helped]. Kouki just chewed his lips with a vexed expression. While Suzu quickly forced a smile onto her face in an attempt to deceive them.
Since they couldn't bare to watch her like this, both Kaori and Shizuku immediately pulled Suzu into a tight hug.
Just as Hajime was about to call out to them, a magic circle appeared in the centre of the room.
It would appear that when everyone escapes from the amber they are forcibly sent on to the next stage. Ryutarou aside, Kouki and Suzu are still unstable. Hajime would've preferred to let them recover first, but... it appears that wasn't going to be possible.
[Amanogawa, Taniguchi, this is no time for you to be caught up in your thoughts, get ready. If you don't, all your dreams really will fall apart.]
[tte... ... Aah, I know.]
The next instant the magic circle's light burst forth and filled the view of Hajime and the others.