Arifureta - Volume 1 - Chapter 7
Chapter 7 : Wretched Malice
The death throes that the Behemoth echoed soon ceased. The stone bridge made a huge rattling noise as it crumbled. Hajime disappeared into the abyss along with the rubble. That sight, played for Kaori in slow motion and it filled her with despair.
In her head, last night's event repeatedly played in her mind. In the room illuminated by the moonlight, she sat here chatting with Hajime while they drank the fake black tea. That was the first time they had talked so in depth with each other. Being driven by her nightmares, she paid a sudden visit to Hajime. Even if he was surprised, he had talked to her truthfully. After a bit, she noticed that talking to him had erased her uneasiness.
She returned to her room in a jubilant mood. When she arrived back at her room, she noticed how boldly she was dress and she writhe in shame. Kaori felt depressed because Hajime had not even reacted, in her eyes, to her looks. She felt she had no appeal. When Kaori saw Shizuku caught her making funny facial expression, she wanted to pretend it never happened.
On that night, the most important occurrence was the promise she made to ’’protect Hajime’’. The promise that Hajime mentioned to relieve Kaori of her anxiety. Hajime disappeared into the abyss, as she stared at him. She kept recalling that memory over and over again.
Somewhere in the distance, a scream can be heard. When Kaori noticed that the voice belonged to her, she grimaced as she was quickly brought back to reality.
’’Let me go! If I don't go to Nagumo-kun! I promised! I will...I said I will protect him! Let me go!’’
Shizuku and Kouki had to restrain her, because Kaori looked like she would just jump after him. Kaori displayed such extraordinary power that they wondered where she got such power and how could she display such an amount with her slender body. Unlucky for them, she used that power to break free from them.
If she kept struggling like this, she might damage her body. Nevertheless, they could absolutely couldn't let her go. If they released her, she would jump off the cliff. She did not have her usual calmness, not even a shadow of it, now she had such a frantic expression. No, it might be heartbreaking to say.
’’Kaori! You can't! Kaori!’’
Because Shizuku could understand Kaori's feelings, she could not find the right words to say. All she could do was call out her name desperately.
’’Kaori! Are you also trying to die? It's too late for Nagumo! Calm Down! You'll hurt yourself!’’
Kouki tried to best to convey how worried he was of her. To the confused Kaori that was here and now, these were not the words to say to her.
’’What do you mean ’’too late’’? Nagumo-kun is not dead yet! If I don't go, he is surely asking for assistance!’’
Nagumo Hajime was not savable, at least this is what everyone else thought. He fell from the cliff into that dark abyss. The composure to accept that reality, the present Kaori did not have it. If anyone was to word it though, she would just deny it over and over again. Ryutaro and the other students did not what to do, so they stood there flustered.
At that moment, Meld approached them and struck Kaori in the back of her neck without saying anything. She jerked for a moment, then unconsciousness claimed her. Kouki held the now limp Kaori, and glared at Meld. When he was about to start complaining, Shizuku preemptively bowed her head and said.
’’I'm Sorry. Thank you.’’
’’Don't...Don't thank me. I can't let another person die. We will wholeheartedly leave this Dungeon. I'll leave her to you.’’
’’You don't even need to ask.’’
She watched him leave, she headed for Kouki and got him to hand Kaori to her. Kouki still had a disappointed expression on his face from being interrupted.
’’Since we couldn't stop her, Meld had to. You understand, right? We don't have any time. Before her cries can start to affect everyone's spirit, we had to stop her before she broke down. Hey, you have to lead the way. So we can all get out of this. This is what Nagumo-kun would have said.’’
At her words, Kouki nodded.
’’You are right, let's hurry.’’
They saw one of their classmate die in front of their eyes. This event had caused a lot of damage to be engraved into the students' spirit. Everyone was looked at where the bridge used to be in a stupefied expression . There was a girl that said ’’No more!’’ and sat down. Just like Hajime had exclaimed, the group needed a leader right now.
Kouki raised his voice towards his classmates
’’Everyone! Right now, just think about surviving. We have to withdraw!’’
The students moved sluggishly in response to his words. The magical circles that spawned the Traum Soldier was still active. Their numbers increased one by one. At their current mental status fighting would be reckless, also it was not necessary to fight. Kouki shouted at his classmates to urge them to escape. Meld and his knights also tried to encourage the students.
Eventually, everyone escaped by the stairs.
The stairs to the upper level was long. It climbed so high that they could see nothing else but the stairs in the darkness. They felt like they had ascended 30 or more levels at that point. Even if their bodies were enhanced by magic, they would start feeling the fatigue soon. Wounds from their earlier battle was still present. It didn't help that the stairs were long and dimly light, making the students even more gloomy. At this moment, Meld considered having a small rest, but refrained when he saw a huge wall that had a magical formation drawn on it.
Students' faces started to regain their vitality. Meld quickly approached the wall and started to investigate it. They did not forget to use the Fair Scope. From their investigation, the chance of it being a trap is very unlikely. The carved magical formula's purpose was to move the wall in front of them. Meld started to chant to pour magic into the magical formula. Just like a hidden door used by Ninjas, the door rotated to open the way and showed the room behind it.
The revealed room was a room they had visited in the 20th floor.
’’We made it back!’’
’’We did it...we got back...’’
One after another a sigh of relief escaped from the classmates. There were a few students that burst into tears and others who just fell on their ass. Even Kouki and his party that were leaning on the wall, wanted to sit down. They were still in a Dungeon though. Even if it was a low number level, they did not when a monster could appear. They had to escape the Dungeon before they could actually relax.
Meld had to suppress his longing to rest. He had to harden his heart as he shouted for the students to get up.
’’You guys! Don't sit! If you get exhausted here, you won't be able to return! To avoid combat with any monsters we have to escape as quickly as possible. Hey, just endure it for a little more!’’
For the students who wanted to rest more, they just stared in silent protest at him. The student reluctantly stood up while a bit dizzy. Kouki hide his fatigue and took point. On their way out, the knights concentrated on fighting as little amount of enemies as possible. They raced towards the entrance in one stretch.
Finally, they reached the 1st floor and saw the nostalgic entrance. They had not even stayed in the dungeon for a single day, many people felt it was such a long time since they had seen it.
This time the students really looked relieved after they exited the Dungeon. There were even students sprawled out in front of the gate square. All of them were pleased to have survived. Some of the students did not feel this way. Shizuku, who was still carrying the unconscious Karoi, Kouki, Ryutaro, Eri, Suzu, and the girl Hajime saved had a dark look.
Meld went to make a report at the reception area while minding the students with a side glance. There was a new dangerous trap on the 20th level. Since the bridge had collapsed, there was no way of knowing the purpose of the trap, but he still needed to report it. He couldn't help but report Hajime's death. Meld was having a hard time not showing his depression on his face. A sigh couldn't help but escape from him.
* * *
When the group returned to Horald, they returned to their rooms without much spirit. There were a few students that discussed with each other, but most of the students had already fallen asleep on their bed.
And then there was Hiyama Daisuke. Outside of the inn and located at a corner in the town he sat there. He choose an inconspicuous place to sit with his hands hugging his knees. Buried between his knees was his face that was very still. If his fellow class saw him, it would look like he was depressed that one of his classmates had passed. However...
’’Hi, Hihihi. I-It was his fault! For a small fry...h-he got carried away...i-it was divine punishment. I'm not wrong...it was for Shirasaki's sake...that small fry...is not longer a concern...I'm not wrong...hihihi’’
With his dark smile and dull eyes, he tried to justify himself.
The fireball that veered off course and hit Hajime was casted by Hiyama. The escape to the stairs and rescuing of Hajime, the sight of Hajime and Kaori's night rendezvous, Hiyama heard a devil whisper to him. If I killed him now, no one will notice? At that moment he sold his soul to the devil.
To not be discovered, Hiyama timed his shot very carefully and lead his fireball to Hajime. In that chaotic barrage it would be very difficult to work out who casted what. He chose the fireball because his aptitude was wind. There would be no evidence or any suspicion. Hiyama told all of this to himself as gave off a dark laugh.
Someone at that moment called out to him.
’’Heh, it really was you. The first murder from another world is a fellow classmate...you did quite well!’’
Hiyama backed away in a panic. The one who hailed him was a classmate he knew.
’’Y-You, what are you doing here?’’
’’Don't worry about such a thing. Rather than that...Murder-san? How do you feel right now? How does it feel to kill off a love rival in midst of the confusion? ’’
That person laughed a little. Like he had just seen a comedy. Hiyama said to himself, one classmate did die, yet this person did not care. All the other classmates were shocked and looked miserable, but this person had no such expression on his face, not even a speck.
’’Is this your true nature?’’
The stunned Hiyama muttered out. A condescending scoff could be heard from the person.
’’Nature? It's not anything complicated like that. Isn't it common to have a few secrets? More important that that...what would happen if I spread this to everyone? Especially...if she heard it.’’
’’S-Such a thing...No one would believe...and the evidence?’’
’’None, but they would believe my words. At that moment, do you think your words would be good enough?’’
Hiyama was cornered. The words was used to teased the already weakened mouse. No one would have imagined that this fellow could be like this. Daisuke still couldn't believe that this person had a split personality. The person looked down at Daisuke with a sadistic expression that sent chills throughout his body.
’’What do you want?’’
’’Regrettable. It would seem like I'm threatening you, isn't it? Fufu. It's not like I want something from you right now. For now, all you have to do is be my hands and feet. ’’
’’Such a thing...’’
It was something like a slave declaration. Naturally, Hiyama hesitated at that. He wanted to refuse, but if he did then this person would mercilessly spread the rumor about his deeds. The conflicted Hiyama thought, ’’Still working with this person is better than imprisonment.’’ This character foresaw Hiyama's conflict and decided to tempt him.
’’Don't you want Shirasaki Kaori?’’
’’W-What did you say?’’
Hiyama's gloomy thoughts were blown away in an instant and just stared at the person. This individual smirked at Hiyama's stunned visage, and continued with the temptation.
’’If you follow me...someday you will obtain her. I was going to approach Nagumo-kun with this offer, but you killed him. You may be more suited for what I have in store, so I guess it all worked out in the end. ’’
’’...What's your objective? What do you want to accomplish?’’
In this situation he was ignorant of, he unknowingly raised his voice.
’’Fufu, it has nothing to do with you. I'm searching for something, that's all I'll say...So, your answer?’’
Hiyama did not want to disturb him and just filed away the person attitude of treating him like an idiot into his memory. Daisuke was very afraid of this transformation of character, he did not have much choice so he just nodded his head.
’’Ahahaha, that's good. Having to prosecute my own classmate would be painful. Well, let's get along, Murder-san! Ahahaha’’
Hiyama just watched the person return in the direction of the inn while they laughed happily, a small ’’damn’’ escaped from his lips.
Even if he wants to forget, just being in denial will not erase it, this scene would stick to him. The expression Kaori had when Hajime fell into the abyss. What kind of words would articulate her feelings?
Right now, while all those dead tired students slept likes logs. Hajime's death at the abyss helped discern Kaori's feelings. Kaori never took care of Hajime just for good will. When looking at the exhausted Kaori, this would apply awareness to the cause. Hiyama jeopardized himself by performing such a careless act.
He must conduct himself well. In order to secure one's place. Hiyama had already crossed the line. It wasn't possible to stop now. According to that individual, There was a possibility of him disappearing and a possibility that he would get Kaori.
’’Fufu, It will be alright. Everything will go well. I'm not wrong...’’
Hiyama returned to his previous position and started to mumble again. This time not a single person bothered him.