Arifureta - Chapter 164
A world that was richly colored.
That was the scenery that lept into the eyes of Hajime and the others who stepped in into the Holy Precincts.
There was no end that could be confirmed. Various colors mixed in this space. It was as though they were lost inside a world within a bubble.
In that mysteriously colorful space, there was a chalk white path stretching straight forward. No, rather than calling it a path, it was like the top of a dam wall, it was more correct to express their location as 'above a huge straight wall'.
Hajime and the others were taken aback for a moment. Despite so, they stored the skyboard that became ragged from the apostles' attack into 'Treasure Warehouse II' and stood on the chalk white path. They couldn't see any apostles even after looking around. It appeared the space that Hajime connected to using the degraded crystal key was a different place from the place that contained the apostles and monsters. They had resolved to clash with a great amount of apostles and monsters as far as their eye could see right after infiltrating, so this could be said as fortunate.
’’What a mysterious space. I cannot grasp the sense of distance.’’
Shia gave her impression while peeking down from the edge of the path. Just as those words sounded, even as she peeked below, the ground or the bottom of the wall were unclearly being swallowed by the extremely colorful space. Even the path straight ahead, after a certain distance, became swallowed by the colorful space that made it hard to confirm the distance.
’’I guess it won't end well if you fall down huh. Everyone, be careful okay.’’
Everyone nodded briskly at Hajime's warning. Like that they all began to run following after Hajime while staying vigilant of the surrounding.
They were traveling at high speed following the chalk white path in the atmosphere that was filled with uneasy silence. The 'Compass of Guidance' showed that Yue's whereabouts was ahead of the chalk white path. Therefore they dashed believing on that, although there was not a single thing they could use to confirm the distance so they became doubtful whether they were really advancing forward.
If not for the compass that was teaching Hajime that the distance to Yue was closing even for just a little, perhaps even he would also feel doubt.
They advanced the path for several dozen minutes where no end could be seen with few words.
Finally, a change happened.
’’It's coming-. Bombardment!’’
Shia's rabbit ears stood up straight all of a sudden, at the same time she gave a warning. Regardless of their vigilance, everyone other than Shia was completely taken by surprise. It was the proof that Shia's 'Future Sight' was activated, at the same time it also meant that the attack was a risky one that could possibly wipe them out.
Right after that, without any advance warning, silver radiant flashes attacked Hajime and the others from all directions. It was a meteor shower of death without a single gap, conveying clearly how no place of escape was left behind.
Hajime's angry roar flew. Everyone reflexively approached Hajime's side. At the same time, Hajime took out a huge shield from 'Treasure Warehouse II'. And then that shield which was manifested in empty air pierced the ground while magic power was poured into it.
As the result, *Gashun! Gashun!* such sound was raised, metal plates were sliding from the inside of the large shield in great speed. In the blink of eye the plates formed a dome that covered Hajime and the others. Metal plates that looked like scales stretched, it was variable large shield 'Aidion'.
The moment the last metal plate slid into place and Hajime and co were completely covered, the flashes from all directions finally arrived. There was almost no impact. The attack was like a laser, the surface of Aidion was turning into dust. Obviously, the cause was the disintegration ability of the apostles.
But such thing was obvious the moment there was silver light. For that reason, Hajime chose the option of omni-direction defense with this Aidion.
’’Hah, just try it if you think you can penetrate this.’’
Hajime whispered while smiling fearlessly inside Aidion where there was the illumination of green light stone installed. That was the expression of his confidence. An absolute confidence that the likes of the apostle wouldn't be able to penetrate his improved defense.
In front of the brutal characteristic ability of the apostles which was like a foul play, those words were something too insolent.
Yes, even while Hajime was spouting out those insolent words, Aidion was completely blocking the disintegration bombardment. No, more accurately the shield's part that was disintegrated was regenerating. It went without saying that the cause was regeneration magic. 'Restoration Stone' that was enchanted with regeneration magic was continuously regenerating the part of Aidion that was turned to dust as though time was rolled back.
Of course, the disintegration ability of the apostles was at the level where a building would become dust in an instant, so no matter how much regeneration magic was enchanted the outcome would be that the item got blown away before it could show any effect.
However, this Aidion was similar with 'Sky Severance' where it was a composite shield made of several layers of adamantium inserted with restoration stone, furthermore, Hajime's 'Vajra' was also reinforcing it. In other words, even with one layer disintegrated, if the second, third, and fourth layer could buy time even for a second then the restoration stone could display its effect. Therefore, even with that disintegration ability, the apostles couldn't hope to penetrate it.
’’You guys, save your strength for the time being. If it's just this many apostles then I'll deal with them.’’
’’Eh? Deal with them...’’
Shizuku was putting strength into the hand holding the black katana in the preparation of battle against apostle swarm once more, but Hajime's words resounded as though to dampen her spirit. Shizuku reflexively asked back, but inside the large shield that was illuminated faintly by green light stone, looking at Hajime's expression that supported the large shield――that look which looked like a wild beast made her words got caught up in her throat.
Right after that, the pressure that pushed on Aidion suddenly vanished. The all-out bombardment of the apostles was over.
Hajime transferred Aidion into 'Treasure Warehouse II', right after that the apostles showed their figure as though they were oozing out from the colorful space while making ripples. All of the apostles were clad in silver magic power, showing their seriousness right from the beginning. They sent narrowed gaze at Hajime who endured their all-out bombardment, in an instant...
――A curb stomp began.
*DOPAAAAAAN-*, at the same time when the familiar bursting sound roared, six apostles' head easily exploded like a joke.
It was a swift defeat unbecoming for god's apostle.
The apostles who lost six of their sister right at the moment when they made their entrance gulped audibly. The crimson flash that gouged the apostles' head certainly attacked faster than the gun sound, but it should be possible to evade if it was the apostle in full power state clad in silver light.
The cause that negated the apostles' evasion ability could be understood from the fact that all the six victims were all the people who blinked in that instant.
Hajime was taking the opening of the apostles' mind. The number of the apostles who appeared from the space was nearly fifty people. Hajime confirmed all of them instantly and aimed simultaneously only at the blinking apostles with pinpoint precision...
Hajime had survived many battles against the apostles, that was the reason this special move with difficulty level that was like threading the eye of a needle was working. There was no way the apostles could understand what happened.
Because of that, they were unable to understand the reason why their sisters were shot without being unable to do anything, this too caused their head to be soaked in confusion for an instant.
With that four more people died. Their head exploded and fell on the ground like an insect with their wings clipped.
’’Kuh, three people are to chant-. The rest continue on!’’
One of the apostles gave out instruction while grinding her teeth with the usual expressionless face crumbling. It appeared that she was the manager who handed down the command even among the apostles. The remaining apostles obeyed the instruction and moved all at once.
The apostle that gave instruction――Zekst swung her twin large swords once and then took flight instantly with her silver wings flapped. She charged at Hajime while leaving behind afterimages.
But, to such apostle, the small murmur of Hajime reached her clearly.
’’...Hee, so you are the captain.’’
Amidst a large number of apostles flying around with countless afterimages filling the space to the limit, Hajime's eye glint accurately caught Zekst's figure.
And then, Hajime and Zekst's gaze entangled inside the world where the rich colors looked fading and dull, right after that, slowly, and even slower inside Zekst's mind, Hajime's mouth...split.
At that moment, Zekst realized. This world where the flow of time became slow right now, wasn't something produced because of her great speed, but it was the phenomenon of revolving lantern that someone watched at their dying moments. The reason of her realization was because, even while she was getting aware of the slowly approaching bullet clad in crimson toward her in the real world, the images of the many secret maneuverings 'the apostle of god' had carried out until now in all countries toward the people were also passing through her mind.
All apostles shared their memory with each other. Even if it wasn't something that Zekst personally did, but something that 'apostle' did was something that Zekst did. ...Zekst thought. Were the apostles who were destroyed before she also saw the same scene like this? The scene, of the people who they had been toying with until now, were now looking down at them mockingly.
Zekst's body was accurately moving even while watching the revolving lantern. Her neck moved by itself trying to evade the flying bullet by twisting aside. But, mysteriously even with that Zekst was convinced that the approaching bullet would still pierce her.
And then, that conviction was proved right within an instant. The moment Zekst twisted her neck, of all thing, the bullet before her eyes shifted its trajectory slightly. Its path was accurately heading to Zekst's temple.
'Aa, really, what an irregular...'
After murmuring such thing inside her heart, in the end Zekst felt an impact, along with that her consciousness fell into darkness.
At the same time when Zekst fell, further seven apostles also fell on the ground with their head similarly blown away.
Hajime glanced at that scene while rotating Donner &Schlag in gun spin, then he scattered more bullets of death to all directions.
Although because Hajime's arms rotation and the reloading speed were too fast, an outsider looking would only be able to see acrobatic gun spins repeating all the time. The realization of Hajime's killing intent was displayed only by the fact that the scattered crimson flashes were shooting through the foreheads of the apostles without the slightest deviation.
Unable to endure, one of the apostles who wasn't shot down yet spoke with rough voice and words that could be taken as a question or escaping reality.
It was natural for her to be like that. They were the 'apostle of god'. The sword of god that the likes of mankind had no hope to oppose. They were an existence that could trample the world equally like a natural disaster with just a single one of them! And yet, why, how they could be easily exterminated like this, dropping out just like flies.... Impossible. There was no way this kind of unrealistic sight could exist!
Right after that, a flash flew toward that apostle.
With an unknown emotion welling up inside her, that apostle drew a slash at the air trying to bisect that light with her shining large sword. The information that Hajime's bullet which generated impact could crack their large sword with one attack in the previous battle was naturally also shared with this apostle, therefore she decided not to 'make her large sword into shield' but to 'cut down the bullet'.
Like that, the beautiful silver trajectory split the crimson flash...was how it should be.
Instead, the result that came out was the explosion of the apostle's head. Just before the apostle's mind sunk into darkness, she whispered inside her stretched out perception.
'The light...slip through?......'
It wasn't unreasonable for her to have that misapprehension.
――Combined Metamorphosis-Creation Transmutation Special Bullet Living Bullet
That was the true form of the attack that slipped through the apostles' evasion and large swords.
This 'Living Bullet' was a special bullet enchanted with metamorphosis magic, the simple explanation was that the bullet could listen to the command of the user――it was literally a living bullet.
Hajime developed this bullet after understanding that the sealing stone and the pseudo scorpion in the abyss were created by blending organic matter and inorganic matter, so simply put the bullet was a living golem in bullet shape that executed a simple order.
This time the command that Hajime gave was just one. 'Hit the aimed place', that was all. It was a small bullet, so even though they listened to order but they had no ego. So to speak it was like a program. Evade if there was an obstacle in front of the target, chase if the target moved. That was all they could do. The bullet couldn't make U-turn if they passed the target and chased endlessly, it was also unable to circle around if a wall was made with silver wings to shot the apostle at the back of their head.
But, even so, the electromagnetically accelerated flash that reached the target within an instant corrected its trajectory just a few meters before it reached the target. No matter how unfair the perception ability and reaction speed the apostle had, there was no way they could evade or anything.
If the apostle tried to cut the bullet using their large sword but the bullet changed trajectory smoothly, it wasn't unreasonable for the apostle to mistake that the bullet 'slipped through'.
’’Before, you guys said this right. That 'the analysis about you is finished'. Just what time are you talking about I wonder. By the time you failed to kill me for the second time, the scythe of death god has already lined up on the neck of you guys.’’
The gun spin moved at too high of rotation speed that it looked like a round shield. Hajime's figure that moved with sliding feet turning over and over while firing flashes in radial direction looked like he was dancing.
And then as long as that dance of death was continuing, one by one the apostles had their forehead pierced, their head exploded, and fell like a puppet with their string cut.
If they tried using their large sword as a shield, then an attack with three impacts compressed into it would assault and with just a single shot, a fatal damage would be inflicted on the large sword, in a hairbreadth the second shot would pierce the forehead altogether with the sword. Even when they tried long range attack or magic, their breathing at the instant they were going to attack was perfectly read, so they were only exposing their opening instead, but if they attempted close range combat then they would be intercepted by a bullet with bending trajectory.
When they attempted to overlap their twin large swords and silver wings as a shield to charge through, six shots would burst with pin point accuracy at the same time, the tremendous shockwave was generated while smashing the iron wall, or possibly the apostle would run out of strength and got blown away. And then, that impact would spontaneously make them relaxed the guard of their large sword and wing, the curving bullet would attack weaving through that opening.
’’While I was thinking of the ways to kill you guys, what were you guys doing? Did you analyze my fighting style? Hah, that won't cut it at all. You got to train yourself, change your weapon, polish your tactic, heighten your proficiency, put double and triple layer of traps, and mass produce trump cards.’’
The apostles' worn-out remain vanished from the sky toward the ground like a cookie's crumbling that spilled from a mouth.
Right after that, along with an angry voice that sounded like it was desperately repressing something that welled up inside the speaker, a silver sun materialized. The sun that brilliantly shined was something made from focused magic power of apostle enchanted with disintegration ability. Looking closer, under the silver sun there were three apostles raising their large sword piled into one. Most likely this was a large bombardment executed by multiple apostles.
Looking at that, Hajime was...snorting in exasperation.
’’Is that your trump card! Fine, bring it on.’’
’’-...Vanish without any trace behind! Irregular!’’
The three apostles swung down their sword in unison. The silver sun that was a compression of energy until the critical state radiated its light of ruin just like prominence. A super thick laser with diameter reaching ten meters approached Hajime in order to make everything of him into dust.
From 'Treasure Warehouse II', Hajime too out two pieces of disk――he took out two chakrams and threw them forward. One of the chakrams rotated in the air, when its flat part faced the approaching thick bombardment, at the next moment it divided into three parts.
The chakram was divided into three parts with equal distance between them, however, they didn't scatter into pieces, the parts were connected by thin wire, the parts spread widely in an instant and created large circle before Hajime's eyes.
At that moment, the silver huge laser reached Hajime...not, it was completely swallowed into the circle made by the divided chakram and the wire. And then, that swallowed silver light jumped out from the other chakram that also parted and created a similar large circle at a slightly separated place.
――Variable Chakram Orestes
The chakram up to now could only create a gate at the small inside of the chakram, but this new type chakram 'Orestes' that had improvement applied in it could separate and with the built-in wire inside, a gate that could be freely changed in size would be made. Depending on the situation, it could also be used as a guillotine by making something passed halfway into the gate and then decreasing the size.
The apostles never even dreamed that the focused bombardment by three apostles which could be said as a trump card would be returned back to them as it was, perhaps they were unable to move while performing the firing, their reaction was dull and they got swallowed into the light that they fired themselves, they were annihilated literally without leaving even dust behind.
’’You guys don't evolve. You cannot struggle to the death for the sake of living, for the sake of your wish, for the sake of what's 'important'. That's why, I told you right from the beginning didn't I? You all just wooden doll.’’
’’Irregular! No, you are truly, a true monste――’’
A gunshot echoed. The bullet that curved in trajectory approached easily like a joke and pierced the forehead of the last apostle.
While silver feathers and apostle remains were falling like an illusion, Hajime spun the smoking Donner &Schlag and finished reloading, then he silently stored them in their holsters.
Looking at the result, he was uninjured from a fight against the fifty apostles of god. Completely. It was truly overwhelming.
That fact made Shia, Tio, and Shizuku's expression to turn a bit into ecstasy. Suzu and Ryutaro leaked out a dry laugh.
'Meteor Impact' that destroyed the God Mountain, sunlight convergence laser 'Burst Hyperion', gatling pile bunker and living bullet...when Hajime was given time, that many absurd weapons were produced one after another.
What did it mean by a non-combat job. What did it mean by mundane occupation. Indeed Hajime's body itself boasted monstrous spec due to an irregular event, but Hajime's true weapon was no other than that power of development. And then, in every age what became a threat to humanity was always 'something' that was newly created. In a sense, perhaps it could be said that Hajime was in possession of the most terrifying talent.
While it had been too late at this point of time, whether they wanted it or not Shizuku and the others were made to understand that.
’’It's going to be troublesome if they come in succession. Let's go ahead right away.’’
Hearing Hajime who started running while giving out the order as though nothing happened, Shizuku and the others came back to their senses and chased behind him.
’’Aaa. I wanted to show Hajime-san just now to Yue-san desuuu’’
’’Fufu, I thought that there might be this kind of thing. So I bring the image recording artifact. When everything is over, let art we hold a video appreciation meeting!’’
’’Tio-san, nice desu! As expected from the extraordinary pervert that might even leave her name in the history!’’
’’Fuhahaha, don't praise me, don't praise me! I would become shy thou know?’’
Shia and Tio laughed with each other in composure while being inside the enemy base that was the Holy Precincts. Their feeling was loosening up with that while they dashed forward for a while.
Hajime and the others finally ran into a richly colored wall. When his hand touched the rippling wall, the hand easily sunk into the other side. They nodded at each other and the whole group leaped into the other side of the ripple.
If Nakamura Eri was asked what was her first memory that was the most intense, surely she would answer like this.
――The scene of Otou-san's death.
It was when Eri was five years old. She went with her father to a public park with just the two of them, there the high-spirited Eri jumped on the roadway carelessly and with a devilish timing a car came charging forward, then her father died protecting Eri. In a sense, it was the result of a mundane traffic accident.
But, there was one result that wasn't mundane. That was the state of her mother after that. Eri's mother was a daughter from a slightly high-class family, but it seemed that she went against her family and married with Eri's father, she was clinging all over the father to the degree that even Eri's childish heart got embarrassed.
That wasn't only because the mother merely loved the father, if someone took a step back and looked at it closer, perhaps it was on the level that could be said as dependence. For that reason, Eri's mother that from the start wasn't mentally strong was unable to endure the death of the beloved husband that supported her heart.
Because she was unable to endure, she bared her fang to the cause of death. Yes, her target was her own young daughter――Eri. Normally, a mother would swallow her tears while supporting her daughter who should be hurt because she witnessed with her own eyes the death of her father, that would be the correct way of living as a mother. But, as expected, although Eri's mother held back in front of other people, when they returned home and there were only the two of them, she would direct her hatred at Eri without sugarcoating it at all.
For Eri's mother, if her daughter and her husband were weighed on the scales, the scale would tilt to the latter, she loved her daughter was also only because Eri was her husband's daughter.
At the time, the five years old Eri earnestly endured the violence that was carried out almost every day and the abusive language spewed out to her. That was because Eri who was smart for five years old was completely accepting the words of her mother that said ’’because of your fault’’ to her. Her carelessness killed her father――the one who believed that more than anyone else was no other than Eri herself.
It was only natural for her mother to be angry at her who stole the father that her mother loved. It was only natural that she who made her father died was given punishment to both her heart and body. Eri believed that from the bottom of her heart.
At the same time, Eri also believed that when this punishment was over, than her mother who looked like a demon would return to the gentle mother in the past who always smiled kindly.
Her mother's abuse was ingenious, she had never done anything that might leave any mark on Eri's body. Eri too had also never revealed anything for the sake of her mother, and also for the sake of the punishment to her. Because of that, such situation continued for a few years, but there was no one that could notice what happened.
However, for a child there was no way she would be able to always be smiling in such environment. As a child clad in gloomy atmosphere Eri practically didn't have any friend at school. Her lone quiet self that looked like someone bracing herself waiting for the storm to pass was surely eerie for the children of the same age.
Isolation and self-condemnation and the pain of her heart, her feeling that was thinking of her mother, and loneliness...Eri's heart was nearing its limit from all those. Like that she endured such situation for several years, but in a sense it also could be said as astounding how she endured that long.
A change happened at such gloomy days.
Nine years old――when she was in third-year elementary school. Her mother brought home an unknown male into their home. He was an adult male with an arrogant attitude and bad character. Her mother was making sickly-sweet coaxing voice at that man while clinging coquettishly all over him.
Eri couldn't believe it. Didn't her mother throw that much anger and hatred to herself exactly because she loved the father from the bottom of her heart, Eri thought.
That thinking wasn't mistaken. But, the heart of Eri's mother was far weaker than even Eri thought. To the degree that if she wasn't supported by someone, then she wouldn't be able to live properly.
From that day, Eri's house was lived by that man.
The way the man acted in the house was exactly like a typical trash that often came out in a cheap novel. And then in addition, as though to follow the clichéd story of such novel, the gaze of that man toward Eri wasn't something that was usually directed to a little girl.
The disgusting feeling that felt like it was crawling all over her body caused Eri to pass her time inside the house holding her breath even more than before. Even so, the act and speech of the man were gradually escalating, before long Eri called herself with 'boku' (TN: This way of calling oneself was usually used by a boy, a girl usually used 'watashi') and she kept her hair in rough short-cut style. That was the meager measure of the small Eri to defend herself from the thinking that 'if he is not seeing me as a girl then'.
At school, Eri who even at normal time was already seen as gloomy and somewhat eerie, one day she suddenly changed the way she called herself and came with short hair like a boy, that caused the few children who even though they weren't her friend but they still conversed daily with Eri, even those children distanced themselves from Eri. Eri became isolated further and further.
Even so, even if she felt that her mother betrayed her father, Eri still believed. That her mother would surely return to the gentle mother in the past. She pretended to not notice that such thinking was only a type of escape that averted her eyes from reality.
That hope of Eri that was like grasping at straw, was destroyed by an event that made her realize that the hope was really just a fragile straw. Finally the man bared his fang of desire at Eri. It was while Eri's mother was going out for her night work.
Fortunately, though it was unclear if it could really be called fortunate, the neighbors who heard Eri's scream notified the police, thanks to that Eri's chastity wasn't scattered. Eri herself was thinking that perhaps this kind of day would come, so she had prepared every day by opening the window so her scream could easily reach, that was also the reason she was saved.
And so being attacked wasn't something shocking for Eri. Rather, she even thought that it was a chance. With this her mother should finally open her eyes. Her mother would cut the connection with a man that attacked her own daughter and she would remember Eri's father. In any case, the man was caught by police, so their connection was severed. With this the livelihood of Eri and her mother would be improved slightly, she thought.
Yes, she thought like that.
Only until her mother directed a hatred that was even more than until now to her.
After finishing with the questioning from the police and she returned together with Eri back to their home, what came flying the very first to Eri was the mother's slap. And then, the mother said this to Eri. ’’How dare you seduce that person.’’
It seemed, for her mother, the incident where Eri was attacked by the man wasn't an impetus for her to realize the trashiness of the man, but it was perceived by the mother as Eri stealing her mother's man once more. Rather than about her daughter receiving assault, the matter of how the man was separated from her and how the man's desire was directed at Eri were the matters that the mother couldn't stomach.
A mother that betrayed her father, a mother that hurt her, a mother that was sad because the man was gone rather than about her daughter got assaulted...at this time, Eri finally realized. No, perhaps it should be said that she finally looked straight at something that she had actually understood but she averted her eyes from.
That was, that her mother didn't love her. That her mother of the past wouldn't return anymore. That the real nature of her mother wasn't the gentle figure in the past, but the figure overflowing with ugliness in front of her eyes right now.
She realized those.
That was why――Eri broke.
Everything that she believed was an illusion. Her enduring was meaningless. And then, there was no hope for the future ahead. Those factors were far than enough to break the very young Eri.
When she woke up the next day not from her sleep but rather from her fainting, it was early morning when the sun still hadn't even risen, there Eri slipped out from the home. This wasn't an act of testing affection that children tended to do, to see if her mother would worry and came to search for her. It was for the sake of ending herself――in other words, for suicide.
She got out of the home was because she didn't want to die near her mother for some reason.
Like that, Eri wandered unsteadily without any particular destination, and what she discovered was a river. A large river at a place slightly distanced from home. The well-maintained river plain became a good place for children to play. With this Eri who stared vacantly at the river flowing below from the iron bridge spanning above got a thought, let's do it here.
It was a river with quite the amount of water, but the flow wasn't particularly fast, and it wasn't like the water level rose due to rain. For suicide by drowning, this place could honestly be said as unsuited. Rather than drowning, there was more danger from jumping down from the bridge and landed wrongly. Although even that risk would be lessened by the river water and wouldn't cause death in many cases.
Eri's body somehow climbed up with her thin arms, her upper body jutted out a lot outside the handrail. Like that as though being sucked in, Eri's body was almost falling toward under the bridge...exactly at that time, suddenly a voice called at her.
――What are you doing? The voice said.
What entered into Eri's vacant eyes that looked back was a young boy around the same age of her, he was wearing a jersey and was obviously jogging. Eri also knew well about this boy, he was someone at the same school with her who gathered all the popularity into himself, a shining bright boy――yes, it was Amanogawa Kouki.
Seeing the dark expression of the looking back Eri, Kouki guessed that she wasn't in a normal state of mind, he pulled back Eri forcefully from the handrail and displayed his sense of justice in full.
To Kouki who persistently asked her situation, Eri explained with a lot of things omitted. She did that because if she didn't then it didn't seem like Kouki would let her go. Kouki who listened to the really shortened explanation of Eri then comprehended it like this.
Eri who was isolated in school was disciplined strictly by her father because of that. When she asked for help from her mother, even her mother than scolded her together with her father. Eri didn't have any ally and feeling sad, she tried to suicide.
That conclusion couldn't be said as mistaken from hearing only that fragmentary information. For Kouki who was still immature and fiercely under the impression that human nature was fundamentally good as his thinking foundation, thing like the principle behind the act of Eri's mother was beyond his understanding, he was unable to even imagine that an adult male would make a girl the same age as him into the man's outlet for desire, furthermore, the mother would instead blame her daughter for that. And so, the conclusion became like that within Kouki's sphere of understanding.
Understanding it like that, with a smile and strength that made the girls in school into his captive even in that age, Kouki put his hands on Eri's cheeks while declared from point-blank range.
――You are not alone anymore. I will protect Eri.
He said that. The word 'protect' was told to her, into the heart of a broken girl, right after she comprehended that she was worthless for everyone. It was said so surely without a doubt. From the most famous boy in the school that was like a prince, in a situation that could be said as dramatic in a sense, that kind of thing was said to Eri.
In the bottom of her heart, for the little girl who had been continuously searching for affection from someone all this time, that word was extremely intense.
Furthermore, at that day, Eri who somehow given up suicide was driven out by her mother to go to school, there at the school she was surprised because the girls in the class came to talk to her brightly one after another, furthermore when she knew that this situation was because of a word from Kaori...to say it frankly, her heart fell to him right there.
After that, the staffs of child consultation center suspected mistreatment from the behavior of Eri's mother and they visited to investigate several times. However, even though she was young, she knew that if she was separated from her mother here then at the same time she had to move to another place, in other words, she would be separated from Kouki, Eri who sensed that then acted a 'girl who loved her mother' with all her might.
She felt like she was going to vomit, but in front of the staffs she embraced her mother with a full smile and acted the scene of a close mother and daughter. Even now Eri still remembered the expression of her mother at that time. Her expression that changed from shock into a cramped face, and then it vividly changed into definite fear.
Looking at her mother like that, what Eri thought was, ’’Aah, so it's like that.’’ Just by changing the method, something like position or emotion could be overturned easily. Just by her smiling cheerfully as though her gloominess until now was just a lie, her mother immediately averted her eyes and shut up. When later she whispered ’’Next, what do you want me to steal?’’ jokingly, her mother went pale and she screamed while rushing out from the home.
Eri was convinced, that all of these were thanks to Kouki――the prince who suddenly appeared and swore to protect her. That in that day her prince saved and changed her. That she was reborn due to Kouki. That was why, her life from now on would be together with him who was like a radiant light and she would live similarly within the light.
She indirectly threatened her mother, and then she induced so her mother only delivered the living cost to the home, she arranged the environment so she could be at Kouki's side...she was convinced that she was someone special that was chosen by the prince...
But, Eri was in a misunderstanding. For Kouki, Eri was nothing more than one person who should be saved by the hero of justice. After calling out to his classmates and asked them to be friendly to the isolated Eri, Kouki's rescue was over with that. Similar with how in anime the people that were saved by the hero didn't come out anymore at all in the next episode, for Kouki the matter of Eri was 'a story that was already over'.
That was why Eri thought strangely of Kouki who only came in contact with her as though she was the same like 'that other crowd', why the other girls were unable to understand that she was Kouki's 'special one' for some reason. 'Because, that spot is the spot where I belong right?' she wondered.
Due to that, Eri who was unable to approach Kouki in mind and body and could do nothing else except continuing to stare at Kouki began to notice various things.
The girls in the class who talked to her intimately did that only 'because that was Kouki's request'.
That at Kouki's side, there was already 'special one' who accompanied him from even far earlier than the time when they exchanged words at the bridge in the early morning, that there was no place for her to belong or anything there.
That For Kouki, she was a someone whose story with him was already over.
The moment she realized that, it was as though she was going mad, no, she was literally going mad while thinking about the same thing continuously every day.
――You said that I'm not alone anymore right?
――You said that you will protect me right?
――I am special for you right?
――Heey, why, are you saying the same words to another person I wonder?
――Heey, why, are you not looking at just me I wonder?
――Heey, why, right now, you are not rescuing me even though I'm in this much pain I wonder?
――Heey, why, are you showing that kind of face to another woman I wonder?
――Heey, why, are the eyes you are looking me with is the same like with 'that other crowd' I wonder?
――Heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, heey, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why......
Like that Eri understood.
About the human named Kouki.
And then Eri remembered.
What she learned from her mother, how the emotion and act of someone could be changed so easily just by one act.
That was why,
’’Like this I was able to obtain Kouki-kun into my hand isn't it. Well, there were too many irregular things like another world summoning and so on though...’’
’’Hm? Eri, did you say something?’’
In a certain place at the Holy Precincts, Eri who stared at a wasteland while whispering to herself caused Kouki to turn to her and he asked while tilting his head. To such Kouki, Eri smiled cheerfully while approaching him, and then she snuggled at his back. She was clinging coquettishly just like how once her mother did to that man. She did that unconsciously.
’’Nope, it is nothing at all you knooow. I was just thinking that it will be great if we quickly defeat that demon, and then take back your childhood friends won't iiit, that's all you knooow’’
’’I see.... You're right. I also feel the same. We have to quickly release Shizuku, Kaori, and Ryutaro, also our classmates from the brainwashing. Nagumo too, he is unmistakably a classmate but...that guy has done too much evil. Even if I have to turn my heart into a demon, I have to defeat that guy. Even if I have to bear the stigma as a classmate killer, but I have to save everyone, isn't that right?’’
’’It's going to be okay you knooow, Kouki-kun. Because I'm right at your side seee? I will help you every time. It is me, only me, that will be Kouki's ally no matter what happened you knooow?’’
’’Eri...thank you. I can become strong like this, how I can fight that guy too, everything is thanks to Eri. Eri is my...’’
’’My? My what I wondeeer?’’
Eri whispered into Kouki's ear and deliberately pressing him to speak out the obvious answer. Against that, Kouki's cheeks reddened slightly yet his words were firm.
’’You are my...'special one'. No matter what happened, 'I won't let you be alone' from here on. 'I will protect Eri'.’’
’’Fuh, fufu, kuh, fuufufu...’’
Eri who leaked out a chuckle from being unable to endure it caused Kouki to look across his shoulder with a worried gaze at her. While showing an expression of ecstasy, Eri piled up her lips on Kouki's lips. And then, their lips separated with a silver string stretched between them. While staring back at Kouki's eyes that looked empty somehow, Eri murmured smilingly.
’’Yes, it's fine like this. Kouki-kun, we are going to be together forever aren't weee’’
Dry wind blew.
――in the world where there is nooo one other than the two of us
The last words whispered inside Eri's heart didn't enter Kouki's heart. In exchange of that, from a slightly distance place there was a sound echoing. Kouki's expression warped into an ugly look. His eyes contained flame of hatred.
It was the footsteps of the hated enemy, and his childhood friends.