Arifureta - Chapter 279
Arifureta After II The Meaning of Hero
Such weird shriek was echoing through the vast sky.
The voice's owner was Koone. Her blonde twintail was turned unruly from the wind.
Kouki was going to call at her, thinking that she was being scared.
However, before he could do that, it was proved to him that it was impossible for this princess with outrageously light footwork and had energetic spirit like it was a cloth she was wearing to walk around with to feel scared from this precious first experience in her life.
「Ko, Ko-Ko, Kouki-samaaa! We are flying in the skyyyy! Koone, has become a bird! Koone, feels like she is becoming a bird!!」
「So, so you are only getting high spirited huh......」
According to the explanation of Lilin who was hugging him from behind and brought her lips closer to his ear, it seemed that Koone going 'pyaa pyaa' was her habit when she was getting the most excited.
「Kouki-sama! Kouki-sama! Just what in the world this animal is!?」
Naturally there was no way Koone knew about a legendary mythical beast of earth. She asked Kouki while touching the soft feathers of the gallant griffon repeatedly. Koone wasn't turning her head around, she was looking at up at him from his chest. Kouki showed a small smile at such Koone while starting to explain.
「......Kouki-sama, does your injury hurt?」
It seemed he put too much strength into his side when his body stirred a bit. Kouki's breathing was disordered just for an instant from pain. Seeing that, not just Koone, but Lilin behind him was also peering at Kouki with a worried expression.
Kouki was about to bluff by saying 「I'm fine」 .
But then, the griffon's moved its head and looked back as though it was seeing through Kouki's thinking.
「!? ......Since when it can let out a cry like a real griffon like that?」
From the griffon's appearance, it couldn't be seen at all that it was a golem made from metal. Even so, the last time he saw this thing it shouldn't be able to produce an animal cry if he remembered correctly. Kouki's cheeks were twitching looking at the death god that was evolving continuously day by day.
Right after that, *kashun!* there was such sound from how a part of its back that was located between Koone's legs was splitting into two. More *kashun-* sound came from there and three test tubes that were supported by an arm flew out.
Koone stiffened still. Until now she was thinking that it was a living thing, but now she stiffened with her eyes opened wide seeing the fact that it wasn't so thrust before her eyes.
「This is......I see. So even the grim reaper is always stocked with healing magic medicine just in case. As expected from Nagumo, he leaves nothing to chance.」
Kouki smiled wryly and took the test tubes, guessing that the ’’farewell gift’’ Hajime said also included this meaning. Koone was still staring fixedly at the strangeness coming out from between her legs.
With *kashun-* sound, the back returned to normal. Koone jumped on the spot with a twitch. The back's appearance was already back to the fluffy feathers. Koone's finger timidly reached out and poked.
*kashun-*. It opened for some reason!
Koone screamed and backed away. Her face finally turned into a scared expression that said 「This isn't a living thing!」 from facing the reality.
While that was happening, the special recovery medicine ’’Dr Fix It V2’’ that had the effect of high level recovery magic due to Hajime's work that turned it into the highest class of magic medicine healed Kouki's body in the blink of eye.
「Tsu, this is intense. With this I can recover enough in less than an hour before we arrive.」
'Aa, so this is why he provided transportation using grim reaper instead of gate', Kouki made a wry smile once more at Hajime's detailed consideration.
「Ko, Ko-ko-ko, Kouki-samaaa!? This animal, it's not a living thing! Koone believes, that it's not a living thinggg!!」
「Kouki-san. Just what are we riding right now? As expected, it's a bit scary that my bottom feels itchy.」
Both Koone and Lilin asked Kouki with twitching face.
Spike and others who were also riding the same thing also felt the same nervousness. They were in a flying state where it was completely entrusted to the ride, if they were dropped off then at that point they would lose their life. And above all else, the griffons were flying with great speed so the best they could do were clinging tightly.
Thinking that it couldn't be helped for them to act like that, Kouki felt a bit of sympathy for Koone and co while answering.
「Actually, these things have body of metal that is applied with disguise to look like a living thing──they are weapons of slaughter.」
Koone and Lilin tilted their head until their head flopped on Kouki's chest and shoulder respectively. The dangerous words caused their speech to become somewhat halting.
When Kouki was going to explain more, a shadow came into view at the sky ahead. It appeared that flying type <Dark Beings>were heading their way. Perhaps they were the patrol around the capital's outskirt, or perhaps a squad that chased late after Koone and co.
Their number was roughly thirty.
At the other hand this side had ten griffons. The enemy's force was three times more but......
「Kouki-dono! Ahead there is──」
Spike who was riding the griffon that was flying parallel with Kouki let out a warning voice, at that instant,
The griffon's beak opened wide. Inside was a large caliber rifle barrel installed......
Instantly, a crimson flash cut through the sky. *zudon zudon-* A sound that sounded like bombardment shook the sky. That attack which destroyed the target of several kilometer ahead electromagnetically accelerated anti object sniper cannon.
Surely even the enemy would never even dream that it would be hit by an attack from such distance that reached them in less than a second. It didn't even have time to perform emergency evasion. Various things scattered from its body and it was falling to the desert below.
While the speechless Koone and co were seeing that, there was a sound of something opening *kashun* from below the excessively thick and splendid wing. They turned their gaze at there. An arm holding six rods came out. Those rods──missiles made *bashuh* sound and flew away with orange fire trail left behind.
A total of sixty missiles became a wall of death that approached the enemies. The <Dark Beings>started evading in panic, but the missiles were following them by detecting heat source. Seeing the countless something following them by changing trajectory sharply......there was feeling of despair that could be felt somehow even from this far.
──Crimson flowers were blooming profusely in the sky
As expected from Koone and Lilin. They were completely in harmony. Their speech was still halting, and their body was trembling all over.
Kouki spoke while making a thousand-yard stare.
「They are, the mechanical servants of the demon king. An army that can even compete against the god's apostles. They are called grim reaper.」
Kouki added more explanation toward Koone who was wordlessly asking him 'And what is grim reaper?' with an upward teary gaze.
「It means, the death god you know?」
「Koone, won't go against that person. Koone swear, that Koone won't go against him.」
「Lilin also swear. Lilin declare, that Lilin won't go against that person.」
Putting aside Lilin who copied Koone's way of speaking because of feeling shaken, Kouki made a wry smile while responding 「That's the safe way」.
Before long, by the time Kouki was feeling that his body was getting mostly recovered from the bad condition, their eyes finally could see the capital and the battlefield.
The one who leaked out that voice that even resembled a moan was Koone. Kouki could also feel from his back that Lilin had stiffened.
That was only natural. The capital of water in the middle of desert that once couldn't be described enough even with the word magnificent had fallen into an atrocious state that was clear from a glance.
The river barrier that surrounded the capital had ended up muddy from getting mixed with miasma that invaded from most of the surrounding. There were even spots where the citizens of the capital were already fighting in an urban warfare.
The deepest place of the palace was half destroyed by some kind of attack.
Currently, the casters were going all out in manipulating the water current of the oasis around the palace that had barrier effect remaining. The oasis was barely working as ’’moving defensive wall’’ due to that.
The soldier force deployed at the four directions of the capital was constructing encampment, but it could be seen that it was only a matter of time until they were pushed back. The reinforcement from the moving water defensive wall was barely preventing the collapse of the battle line.
The corpses of the soldiers were scattered all over the place.
And the most tragic thing must be how the whole capital was being covered by darkness colored miasma, just like【Haltina Sea of Trees】. It wasn't so thick that it should be called as dense fog, but the miasma that gnawed at human life was covering the whole battlefield.
In the end, it was a matter of how many miasma stone the defender possessed. It could be thought that among the collapsed people, especially the people collapsed in the city at the rear there should be some who were done in by the miasma.
The capital was almost swallowed by a thick cloud of despair.
The situation was such that could only be seen like that.
「Where is Moana-」
Koone returned to her senses from Kouki's words. Seeing the battle hadn't ended meant that Moana hadn't surrendered yet. In that case, there was enough possibility that she was alive.
They gradually approached the battlefield while they looked over the battlefield with eyes opened wide.
When the number of people who were looking up to the sky and noticed the appearance of Kouki and co increased, Lilin yelled.
「Kouki-sama! Over there!」
Kouki looked at the direction where Lilin was pointing at.
There. Moana was there.
Her neck was being grasped by a large <Dark Being>whose body was covered with full armor. She was wounded all over with her body being totally limp. Perhaps she didn't even have any more strength to resist because she didn't even look struggling.
Koone was going to yell. But, her voice that was about to call at her big sister stopped midway. There was a reason for that.
It was because she was pressured by Kouki.
The strength of the hand that was circled around her stomach. It was only through that hand that she noticed the slight change. It was a strange change.
──She didn't, feel anything.
Yes, Kouki was only being quiet. He wasn't showing anger or even agitation. The large presence she was feeling on her back was gradually turning tranquil. So tranquil to a scary degree.
Koone couldn't bear it and looked behind. Then she saw it.
Koone thought that they looked like the spring inside the forest.
「Koone. Lilin. Don't let go of the griffon. I'm going to save Moana.」
His voice was also calm. No emotion could be read from that, no, it was so tranquil that it was even doubtful whether there was emotion in it.
The sound of gulping saliva could be heard. It was unknown who was the one that made the sound.
Kouki jumped down from the griffon lightly, as though he was only going for a walk.
After looking on dumbfounded, Koone immediately returned to her senses and gave instruction to the other guards while timidly asking the griffon to land down.
The pain throughout the whole body, the pressure on her neck.
She was enduring those, however, Moana's heart was feeling pain that broke her heart at the scene ahead of her gaze that was hard to endure.
「Your-, majesty-. We are, coming-」
「Kuh, only this much-」
Spenser whose whole body was smeared with blood was swinging sword with a demonic look.
Linden who lost one arm while looking like he could fall anytime was using blessing art with a pale face.
Donar was already lying down without even a twitch with a hole opened in his stomach.
The royal guards, the elites of the soldier force and blessing art company, ahead of Moana's gaze they were currently being tormented as though their body was shaved from the edge.
However, Moana couldn't do anything.
Moana wondered why it turned out like this while gritting her teeth.
Was it because the soldiers, the people of the capital loved her more than she imagined?
Or else, was it because she was unable to predict the depth of the <Dark King>'s grudge toward the royal family?
Defeat was inevitable. When Moana understood that, Moana picked the choice of surrender. She would end the war by offering her life.
This option was something she had considered since a long time ago. It was something she had conveyed to Spenser, Donar, Linden, and all the other top brass.
Naturally, such option was fiercely opposed at the time, but by her continuous persuasion that as a queen she had to think about the realistic option, it was an option that they also accepted.
There were also people who wished to accompany her, but that would depend on the <Dark King>. At the very least, she wouldn't allow anyone to wish for death, that was the only thing that was out of question.
The reason for that?
That was obvious. Because there was her beloved little sister──Koone that was their hope.
By launching a diversion that was paid with a lot of sacrifice, Koone was brought to escape through a hidden path that was constructed underground with the bought time. It seemed there was also pursuer chasing after them, but the one in question here was the clever Koone, Moana believed that she surely would hide herself skillfully.
Like that they then negotiated with the coming <Dark King>.
But, the result was this.
The depth of the grudge of the <Dark King>against the royal family of Synclea, the resentment from the five years ago surpassed the prediction of Moana and others.
That was to say, all the people in the capital regardless whether they were soldier or citizen would be slaughtered.
The queen Moana would watch that scene while going through agony.
Spenser and others were enraged. The option of surrender or retreat was casted away from inside their mind. Even the people of the capital who knew about the situation decided that this place would be their grave. They couldn't possibly turn their back toward their beloved queen no matter the cost.
Like that, the momentum of the invasion increased, and right now even Spenser and others were in the verge of death.
If it was her big brother who became king, or perhaps if it was someone else who wasn't her, would the situation turn out to be better? Would it ended without the situation turning out like this?
Vexation finally emerged as tears while──Moana wrung out her strength and opened her hands. The last heaven's blessing art that would cause her to die if it was used──<divine Protection>
The blessing art <Wind Sword>came to her hand. Putting the last of her strength into it, she would at least strike back with an attack. It might be just a pointless struggle. No, nine out of ten, this would only end up futilely.
But, she would never despair here. She wouldn't stay meek while grieving no matter what!
She was the warrior's, Synclea's queen! If her head had no worth for the enemy, then she would fight to the end and died!
Perhaps noticing Moana's pressure, the <Dark King>'s gaze turned toward Moana. The red ominous eyes were peering from behind the slit of the helmet. Those eyes narrowed as though in enjoyment of Moana's struggle.
「Your majesty-, don't-」
Spenser and Linden, and then the soldiers guessed that this would be Moana's last struggle and they raised up sorrowful voice.
Perhaps for the <Dark King>even those voices were side attraction that he delighted from. A joyful stifled laughing voice echoed.
Inside her heart Moana spat out 'I don't give a damn'.
Something like regret......there was no way she didn't have it. No, rather she had a lot of it. Death was scary, she didn't know how many people would be spared, and thinking of how harsh the path that her people would surely continuously walk for long after this made her felt like her heart would burst.
Above all else, she had a thought that even she felt was improper as a queen. She understood that in actuality she should think of her soldiers and people until the end, even so, if Moana was asked what was her greatest regret currently, and if she answered it following her heart without any falsehood, then the answer would be──how she was unable to protect the promise.
Yes, the promise with him. When she heard his story, and when she talked about herself, she made that promise.
However, that promise wouldn't be fulfilled anymore.
Moana thought. Would he get angry? Or else would he feel proud for the choice she made?
It was a mysterious feeling. For some reason he was in her mind since she first saw him, since they exchanged words. The frail him who despite having a phenomenal strength yet looked like he would crumble down anytime now.
She felt it, that the more she talked with him, his existence became bigger inside her.
He was kind but cowardly, strong but weak.
Aa, since when she was getting this taken to him she wondered.
She noticed her feeling was when she saw him continuing to fight even while losing consciousness.
It was a feeling as though the inside of her chest was constricted.
He would surely continue to fight from here on too. And she wished to become a person who would support him when he was tired and let go of his tension.
The last <divine Protection>was invoked. She felt it, the sensation of the last important thing that was like something beaten up slipping out from inside her body.
Moana smiled. She smiled fearlessly.
The <Dark King>stirred slightly. His laughing voice changed into a displeased groan.
Even the sorrowful voice of the soldiers, she responded 'sorry' to them inside her heart.
Spenser and others discarded their defense and tried to rush toward Moana. The <Dark Beings>stood on their way, blocking their path as though telling them to watch quietly. During that time, Moana wrung out her life and put the last attack──
A light, a very light footstep echoed excessively clearly.
The place, right, it was right in the middle of the <Dark Beings>who were blocking the path of Spenser and co, taking formation right in the middle between them and the <Dark King>.
It was a single human who suddenly fell down as though he too was also a member of the formation.
The <Dark Beings>stiffened.
*rin-* sound rang. Instantly, a circle of light that penetrated the <Dark Beings>was drawn.
The human who suddenly fell from the sky──Kouki passed through the <Dark Beings>around him calmly, as though it was only something natural to do, and without pause he confronted the <Dark King>.
The <Dark Beings>who were supposed to be the elites still stiffened.
And then, the katana was sheathed back.
At the same time the upper body and the lower body of the <Dark Beings>were severed from each other and all the body parts fallen down simultaneously. The number easily surpassed a hundred.
With just one attack, the most elite enemies numbered in three digits were cut down.
Starting from Spenser, the soldiers stopped walking and opened their eyes wide in astonishment seeing that fact. The surrounding <Dark Beings>were also getting noisy.
「I'll have you release her.」
A calm voice was declaring so.
The <Dark King>comprehended it a bit late that the voice was directed toward him. He spat out 『The servant of Foltina that was in the report huh』 with a displeased voice and the next moment, he created several hundred lined up spears.
The spears surrounded Kouki from 360 degree direction without any gap.
「-, Kou, ki!!」
Moana's pained voice resounded.
Half-dome of death of spears. This was one of the <Dark King>'s ability. Place that was covered with miasma was all his territory. He could create weapon and beast anywhere and as many as he liked.
『A nuisance. Disappear.』
He shortly said only that, and then those words of the <Dark King>were said without any doubt that it would come to pass.
With an emotion as much as crushing a bug, the barrier of spears flew out to crush the person inside.
A confused voice. It came from the <Dark King>.
Because his technique was endured──wasn't the reason.
It was because his right arm became light.
「I have certainly received her back.」
Something moved at the corner of his view. It was his arm dancing in the air, and the figure of Kouki that was right in front of him without him noticing. The queen......was already within the arm of the opponent. The lines of spears......several were cut down. Only the spears that were in the way and could hit Kouki were cut to forcefully create a path──
The <Dark King>could only follow until that far.
Right after that, a severe impact that was produced at his stomach area thoroughly blew away the <Dark King>who had been continuously acted calm without pause since this war began.
The <Dark Beings>behind the <Dark King>were blown away like bowling pins. The <Dark King>who was flying horizontally above the ground landed a few hundred meters ahead while raising up dust cloud.
「Healing far and wide to the children──<Revolving Heaven>!」
Kouki chanted multiple target recovery magic without being mindful toward the flying <Dark King>.
Starting from Spenser, the soldiers were healed from their wound with shocking speed, including Moana. Linden too, although his arm wasn't regenerated but his bleeding stopped completely, the pain was also receding so his complexion became better.
「Yes. It's me, Moana.」
Moana slowly reached out her arm and touched Kouki's cheek to ascertain the presence of the person who she recalled only just now.
It was a ’’why’’ that was filled with various meaning.
How did he come to this battlefield? Who Kouki should protect wasn't her, shouldn't it be the people at the rear instead? It was a question that was asked exactly because she understood Kouki's way of living.
Or, why did he come to this battlefield? The strength of the <Dark King>was abnormal. Even five years ago the kingdom met catastrophic hardship. And now the <Dark King>had become even stronger. She didn't wish for Kouki who was supposed to still be unhealthy to fight such <Dark King>.
Was his body okay? What happened with Koone? What happened with Arquette, with the rear territories? Every kind of worry surfaced within her......
Her anxiety quietly vanished. The dam inside her heart that she desperately built so she wouldn't cry burst. Even without any proof, she was convinced that it was all right already. Tears overflowed.
「Leave the rest to me.」
She paid no mind to her appearance, her shame, or her pride. She only said words that entrusted everything to him. It was something that she had never done by any means since she was enthroned as queen.
As expected, the <Dark Beings>at the surrounding who returned to their senses began to move to steal back the queen. But, at that instant, the raining down pencil missiles blew them away.
The princess descended from the sky riding a huge mythical beast. And then Lilin and Spike and the others, the guard squad members too.
Seeing the unexpected entrance of his son, Spenser raised a shocked voice 「Spike!? What are you doing!?」. Spike made a thousand-yard stare despite being in a battlefield and his answer 「Chichi-ue, even I don't understand it myself」 entered Spenser's ears.
Lilin held her breath for a moment after seeing her father's condition, and then for some reason she made a thumb up saying 「Otou-san! Nice guts!」. With a twitching face Linden retorted 「What in the world you are straddling there!?」.
While the griffons were holding the surrounding in check, or rather while a part of the griffons were shooting missiles like they were candy at the area where the <Dark King>was flying at to hold back (?) and dealt additional blow (?), Kouki was entrusting Moana to Koone. Even with the healing of her wound, she was still a step away from death most likely from using the heaven's blessing art, Moana was unable to even stand.
「Koone. Take care of Moana okay? I'm──going to end this.」
「......Yes, Kouki-sama. Koone will pray for your victory.」
Receiving Moana, Koone hugged her tightttttly while giving her words to Kouki with her expression filled with gentleness and kindness that Kouki had never seen before until now.
And then Moana was,
Yes, she called Kouki's name and pulled at Kouki's collar. Kouki felt a soft sensation on his lips. It was a happening that happened only for a moment.
Kouki was taken aback. Moana narrowed her gaze lovingly at such Kouki and,
「I'll wait, right here.」
Kouki smiled softly, then he made a small nod before standing up.
At the same time, the griffons stopped attacking. And then, they skillfully moved their wing and sharply pointed with 『Kue!』 cry. It was as though they were giving him a thumb up while saying 『We have bought you time yeah. Do whatever you want now!』.
Inside his heart Kouki was thinking 「These guys are really just golem right? There is no strange soul entering inside them right?」 while shaking his head unable to say anything anymore.
「Can I ask you guys to guard them and back up the other places?」
He tried asking them that.
The griffons made a somewhat irritating gesture with skillful movement of their wings as though to say 『Good grief this kid』 before they flew away with only three staying behind to guard Moana and others. Kouki thought that these guys were exactly just like their owner.
*DON-* Dust cloud spurted up, at the same time a spiral of dark miasma pierced to the sky. The thickness of the miasma covering the capital increased. The <Dark King>seemed to be trying to strengthen his territory further.
The <Dark King>scattered so much miasma with what seemed to be an inexhaustible supply. He made his right arm to be clad in miasma. And then, his arm that should have been cleaved away regenerated instantly.
In addition, a huge sword took shape at the end of that hand. It was an ominous large sword that looked as though it was the anger of the <Dark King>taking shape.
The thickness of the miasma was increasing second by second, turning into thickness that ought to be called as thick fog. If it was inside this territory, if the <Dark King>could make weapon anywhere he liked here just like before, that it seemed that the whole capital had been taken hostage.
To prove that, the <Dark King>was going to create countless spear behind Kouki──at the place where Moana and others were at──
「I'm not going to hold back. I won't let you touch them. Here I go──<Limit Break - Supreme Destruction>」
*GOU-* Pure white light pierced the sky. The pillar of light drew spiral trajectory that instantly blew away the surrounding miasma.
An agitated voice leaked out for the first time from the <Dark King>. The pure white torrent that pierced the sky instantly exterminated the miasma at the back, overwriting the territory of the <Dark King>into the territory of human.
『You bastard-. The like of Faltina's servant is powerful to this degree-』
Even more miasma spurted out from the <Dark King>.
Gigantic darkness approached to swallow everything.
The pure white light that increased further in radiance prevented that.
That scene was like the clash between two giant sandstorms of black and white. If it was seen from afar, it might even looked like the sky had been split.
It was the contest between darkness and light. Everyone forgot that this place was a battlefield from gazing at that sight that seemed to come from legend.
The fact that he was unable to take back the territory no matter how much miasma he scattered caused the <Dark King>to ask with an angry voice as though to reject the reality.
『You bastard-, just what the hell are you!?』
From the reports that he heard until now, he thought that the one who hindered him was a warrior that was bestowed with Faltina's divine protection. If that was the case, then even if that warrior was more or less strong, but in the end he would be nothing but a warrior that obtained the cooperation of the incarnation of the blessing power, such being wouldn't be his match who was able to erode blessing power.
And yet, the situation was like this.
What was this light?
It was a power he had never felt before, different from blessing power. A pure white light that was tremendous, vast, and was even somewhat divine. There was a pressure as though his existence was going to get crushed and overwritten just from looking at it.
Kouki who was being looked at as though he was someone that shouldn't be existing ruminated the question of the <Dark King>inside his mind.
What was he?
The answer, was recorded on his status plate since a long time ago.
He thought of the question for the first time when he arrived in this world. What was the meaning of ’’that’’, he wondered.
If it meant to be someone who possessed courage, then everyone in this world was like that. Even the people of Tortus, even his classmate comrades, everyone was like that.
He didn't understand the truth.
But surely, yes surely......
’’That’’ must be referring to someone that couldn't choose the few.
It must be referring to a person who left behind their important person for the sake of the many.
Someone with a difficult personality, who kept taking detour, unable to discard the ideal, and yet when the time came he would make the choice, and then grieved and writhed as they pleased......
It must be referring to such stupid idiot.
(This time where I'm saved by the demon king and can choose the few, is surely something like a miracle.)
Inside his heart Kouki was exasperated at himself thinking 「I got no face to introduce myself like that」, however, Kouki looked straight at the <Dark King>.
Toward the <Dark King>who looked slightly faltering,
「You are asking me what I am──」
'Fine then', he thought.
Although, he actually didn't understand what kind of person ’’that’’ referred to.
If by introducing himself as ’’that’’, he would be able to support someone, he would be able to save someone's heart.
'Aa, that's fine.
I'll introduce myself like that.
After all if it's resolve, I've already made it.
「Amanogawa Kouki────a hero.」