Arifureta - Volume 8 - Chapter 7
Accompanied By A Red Thunder
’’It's a lie... right? How can Kouki... lose?’’
Coming out from the hidden room, Kouki's comrades were bewildered in seeing him being hung, and they uttered incoherent words. Even Shizuku, Kaori, and Suzu were speechless. Towards the classmates who had lost their fighting spirit, the Demon Race woman spoke with a cold attitude.
’’Hmm, it looks like I'll be able to catch you guys easily. I... have underestimated you brats, but it looks like it'll work out just fine.’’
With a pale expression, Shizuku asked the Demon Race woman with courageous tone.
’’... What did you do?’’
’’Nn? It's this, you know this.’’
After replying to the question, the Demon Race woman turned her gaze towards Commander Meld who was gripped by a Brutal-look-alike even now. Following her gaze, Shizuku came to understand the moment she saw the dying Commander Meld. Commander Meld was used to divert Kouki's attention. If his acquaintance was caught and was dying, Kouki would surely react to it. Furthermore, he would've considerably lost his composure.
The Demon Race woman had most likely to understood Kouki's straight forward character from their previous fight. Thus, using Chimera's peculiar ability, she hid a strong demonic beast who aimed at the moment Kouki jumped in anger.
’’... So? What do you want from us? You must want something since you're purposely letting us live and started to converse with us, right?’’
’’Ah, as expected, you're the one who can understand situation the best. What, it's not such a special conversation. When I saw you guys earlier, I thought to once again invite you guys. Look, before, it was this Hero-kun who selfishly decided everything, right? And, there are also excellent people among you, so I want ask you again. So? What do you think?’’
Some people reacted to the Demon Race woman's words. Because of that, Shizuku narrowed her eyes and questioned the woman again.
’’... What about Kouki?’’
’’Fufu, what a fast learner... Sorry, but I can't let Hero-kun alive. He didn't want to come to our side, so it's impossible to persuade him, right? After all, he is the self-contained type. That's why I don't have any reason to keep such a dangerous creature alive.’’
’’... Isn't that the same with us?’’
’’Of course;why did you think I let you live even though I know it'll only make me anxious of my back?’’
’’Haven't you thought that we might joined now and betray you later?’’
’’Naturally, I have thought that. That's why I'll make you wear collars. Ah, there's no need to worry, it's only make you unable to rebel against us. No one will be deprived of their freedoms.’’
’’That's just like slaves with high degree of freedom. What you mean is we will keep our free will, but we won't be able to harm you.’’
’’That's right. It helps me that you're quick to understand. Also, it's good that this conversation is going somewhere until the one with Hero-kun.’’
Although the classmates were silently listening to the conversation between Shizuku and the Demon Race, they were also looking at each other with fear-stricken eyes and full of worries. If they did not accept the invitation from Demon Race, then nine out of ten they would be killed by the demonic beasts that were even difficult for Kouki to defeat, but they would not be able to fight against Demon Race again if they sided with Demon Race and wore the collar.
In other words, they would no longer be ’’God's Apostles.’’ If it turned to that, would Church of the Saints whom they had been summoned to protect became useless... and, would it be possible for them to return to their original world...
No matter what option they chose, they could not see a bright future. However...
’’I-I think we should accept that person's invitation!’’
Among the silent crowd, Eri unexpectedly desperately spoke while trembling. Thus, the classmates opened their eyes wide in surprise, and carefully paid attention to her. To such an Eri, Ryuutarou shouted back with face red in anger.
’’Eri, you! So, you are going to abandon Kouki!’’
’’Ryuutarou, please calm down! Eri, why do you think so?’’
Ryuutarou's attitude made Eri frightened, and she stepped back as a result. However, Shizuku admonished Ryuutarou and was somehow able to stop him. Thus, Eri took a deep breath and spoke her mind with tightly clenched fists.
’’I-I just... don't want everyone to die... Even I don't know... what to do with Kouki-kun... ugh, gulp...’’
Eri spun her words with all of her might with tearing streaming down her eyes. Seeing her, the other party members' hearts were shaken. Thus, one person who agreed with Eri appeared.
’’I also agree with Nakamura. Our lost has already been decided;between annihilation and survival, there's no need to hesitate, right?’’
’’Hiyama... you mean, you don't care what happen to Kouki, huh? Huh?’’
’’Then, Sakagami, are you trying to do double suicide with Kouki who could not fight anymore? And with all of us involved?’’
’’That's not it! As if I'd do that!’’
’’Then please shut your mouth if you don't have any alternative. Right now, it should take precedence on how to survive by ourselves.’’
With Hiyama's remark, the atmosphere turned into one where it looked like it was necessary for them to accept the invitation. And just like what Hiyama said, they only had one choice if they wanted to survive.
However, they could not just choose that since they felt guilty, thinking, 'Is it really okay for us to survive while Kouki gets killed? It was as though they were boldly sacrificing Kouki for their survival.
To their dilemma, the Demon Race woman made another proposal with such perfect timing.
’’Hmmm, if you guys are that worried about Hero-kun... shall I keep him alive? Naturally, a collar with stronger effect than yours will be put on him. But, I want all of you to side with Demon Race first.’’
Shizuku secretly clicked her tongue when she heard the proposal. It was because she had guessed since the beginning that the Demon Race woman would propose it. It was strange for Kouki to be kept alive if she had already decided to kill him. The woman only had to kill him if there was no need for discussion after all.
That's why by not killing him and keeping him alive were all for this moment. The Demon Race woman had likely acknowledged that Kouki and the others were useful after the last fight. However, she was convinced she could not make Kouki waver even through talking. But the others didn't know of that. So, she planned to draw in the others aside from Kouki.
First, she did not kill Kouki to not raise the animosity of the others. Second, she told them to make a choice while she cornered them between choice of death or survival. Third, she guided them to think ’’if we do that,’’ and she chose that time to erase the problem from their thought.
Actually, by making the best use of Kouki, the atmosphere changed to one where they thought it'd be okay to side with Demon Race if they survive. Though in reality, they didn't have any guarantee Kouki would be kept alive. Even if they regretted if he was killed after this, they could no longer act against the Demon Race.
Shizuku noticed that, but she kept silent as she told herself they currently could do nothing but to side with Demon Race if they want to survive. There should be a way to save Kouki as long as they were alive.
There were huge merits for the Demon Race woman if she got her hand on Shizuku and the others. First, needless to say, it'll give an impact to the human's side. After all, the ’’God's Apostles’’ who were humanity's hope are siding with Demon Race. That impact... no, it was much more like despair will be a huge advantage to the Demon Race.
Second, she would get new battle force. Having come to «Orcus Great Dungeon», the Demon Race woman's real purpose was to conquer the dungeon and bring back the power inside. Though up until now, it was at the level where she could easily sweep the floor with the demonic beasts she had on hand, but it couldn't be said that she'd be able to keep it up. It would be a good thing to obtain Shizuku and the others as fighting force to replenish the demonic beasts killed by Kouki's party.
If this keeps up, she would obtain Shizuku and the others. The Demon Race woman floated a faint smile as she realized the mood.
However, her smile was immediately erased by the pained voice that suddenly rang out.
’’E-Everyone... this is bad... please run away...’’
The voice's source was the hanged Kouki. All of his comrades' gazes turned to him.
’’... Don't believe her... she killed... Alan-san and the other knights... don't... be fooled... you'll be used as slaves... to fight humans... so run away... I am... okay... just... escape by yourself...’’
With feeble breathing, Kouki told the danger of the deal and insisted for them to leave him and bet on running away, which once again shook the hearts of the classmates.
’’...In this situation, just how many do you think will survive? Just look at the reality already! We already lost! Even the knights... were killed! So there's no other choice! We can do nothing but accepting the invitation if we want to survive!’’
Hiyama's angry voice rang out. He angrily looked at Kouki who still didn't come to terms with the situation. Hiyama certainly wanted to survive. At worst, he would make sure Kaori and himself survive even if the others didn't. However, the possibility of doing that if he bet on escaping would be too low.
If he went to the Demon Race side, there's enough possibility of being promoted o an important position if he displayed his usefulness, and he'd be able to obtain Kaori. Naturally, he'd limit her freedom using the collar. Hiyama did not care whether she had free will or not. He'd be satisfied as long as he made Kaori his.
Because of Hiyama's angry voice, the others were charmed by the more certain and nearer future.
At that moment, a pained but powerful voice rang inside the room. Even though it was a small voice, it resounded well to others. It was a voice that had encouraged them many times in the battlefields. The person calmly judged any kind of situations, said words without any hesitation, and a model for them who also had a reliable back. For everyone, he was like a big brother and even a father they were fond of. Meld's voice rang out.
’’Guh... you guys... you only need to think on how to survive! ... Advance on the path you believed in! ... I am sorry involving you... to our war... Even though the time I spent with you isn't that long... I've regretted involving you... That's why, live and return to your world... no need to worry about human race... In the first place... this war should be fought by the human in this world!’’
Meld's words weren't words of a Herrlicht Kingdom's Commanding Knight. They were words of a man, Meld Loginz, his true feelings as he cast aside his position. He exposed his feelings because he realized here would be the end for him.
Kouki and the others had their eyes wide opened while muttering Meld's name and Meld shook off the Brutal-look-alike while a light shone from his whole body. Then, he immediately grappled the Demon Race woman.
’’You demon... let's die together!’’
’’... That is... hee~, self-destruction? How brave. I can say I don't hate it.’’
The light wrapping Meld was similar to Kouki's ’’Limit Break’’ in a glance while magic power gushed out of his body. However, it was actually not from his body but the crystal hanging on his neck.
Seeing that, the Demon Race woman instantly saw through his personality and satisfyingly praised him.
The crystal's name was ’’Last Loyalty,’’ an evil tool to self-destruct just like the Demon Race woman said. Someone with high position in the Kingdom and Church of the Saints naturally carried important information with him. And because there's magic capable of reading one's memory in dark attributed magic, that person would be forced to carry the crystal when he went to the frontline. It would be used in time of emergence so the memory could not be read, along with the intention of involving the enemy with the self-destruction.
Meld's last attack that risked his life made Kouki's party screamed out his name. However, unlike them, the Demon Race woman was still calm even though she'd be swallowed by the explosion and die.
Thus the ’’Last Loyalty’’ Meld carried increased its shine further, and one sentence was muttered right before it activated.
’’Devour it, Absod.’’
Immediately, after the Demon Race woman's voice rang out, the ’’Last Loyalty’’ on its limit let out tremendous lights, and lost its shine.
’’Wh-!? What's happen!’’
If one looked carefully, the overflowing lights were flowing into a certain direction. Meld frantically moved only his gaze towards that direction while still pinning the Demon Race woman, and there was the six-legged turtle shaped demonic beast whose opened mouth was inhaling the lights wrapping Meld.
The six-legged turtle demonic beast was called Absod. Its peculiar magic was ’’Magic Storage.’’ It was a skill to freely take and stock magic inside its body. On the other hand, it could not use the stored magic if more than one magic if it took different elements. It only had the ability of letting out the magic again by compressing it from its mouth. However, the storage could even store high-ranked magic. It was a natural enemy for people who fight using magic.
The light wrapping Meld from ’’Last Loyalty’’ rapidly lost, and it exhausted all its powers and became a normal crystal. Suddenly, an impact from an attack hit Meld who was flabbergasted because his last struggle had been obstructed in an unexpected way, but the impact wasn't that strong. What is it?, Meld looked down towards his abdomen where the impact came from.
A reddish brown blade could be seen. Accurately, a blade of sand had pierced through Meld's abdomen from his back. The blade piercing him from behind had blood dripping at the tip.
Kouki shouted Meld's name without minding his vomited blood. Meld reacted to his call and the gaze on his abdomen shifted to Kouki. He then frowned he moved his mouth to say, ’’Sorry,’’ while revealing a mortified smile.
Immediately, the sand blade swung horizontally and Meld was blown away. Just like a powerless doll,thud!, he was thrown to the ground. The pool of blood spread little by little. Anyone see it would think of it as a mortal wound. It was already a miracle he was capable of moving while covered in wounds, but everyone knew that this time it was the true end.
Even though she understood she would not make it in time, Kaori immediately used ranged recovery magic on Meld. Although the amount of bleeding had slightly decreased, Kaori could not block Meld's wound since she herself hardly have any magic power.
’’Uu, please! Be healed!’’
Even as she fell to her knee due to the severe exhaustion from magic power depletion, Kaori desperately continued using healing magic.
’’I never thought he'd be able to stand up and pinned me with such wounds. As expected of the Kingdom's Knight Leader. He's worthy of praise. However, this is the end... this'll be your last. So, what do you think?’’
The Demon Race woman glared at Kouki and the others as she swung the sand blade dyed in red. Seeing someone close to them dying once again, everyone, except some, were trembling. Even if they didn't want to admit it, they'd be the next to die if they did not accept the Demon Race woman's proposal.
Representing the others, Hiyama was about to say they accept the proposal. However, at that time,
Kouki, who powerlessly tried to escape from being hung by the horsehead, muttered something with a small voice. Even though he shouldn't be able to create any miracle since he covered in wounds, Hiyama swallowed his words. He somehow could not ignore the pressure coming from Kouki.
’’Ha? What did you say? So, you want to die.’’
The Demon Race woman heard Kouki's mutter, she snorted, and asked him thinking it was just another rave. Kouki raised his cast down gaze, and his straight glare pierced the Demon Race woman.
The Demon Race woman instinctively held her breath when she saw Kouki's glare. After all, the color of his irises had changed to silvery white as it shone. Instinctively backing away due to an unknown pressure, she ordered the horsehead according to the warning her instinct was telling her. She instinctively realized it was not the time to think about the advantage and disadvantage of gaining Shizuku and the others.
’’Ahatd! Kill him!’’
The horsehead nameded Ahatd faithfully executed the Demon Race woman's order. It tried to crush the suspended Kouki's sides using two fists equipped with ’’Magic Shock Wave.’’
However, at that moment,
Tremendous light overflowed from Kouki. It became a torrent and rose into the ceiling just like a tornado. Next, Kouki swung his right fist towards Ahatd's arm that was grabbing onto him,SNaaaAAAAP!, and the arm was easily crushed.
With a roar different from a while ago, Ahatd inadvertently dropped Kouki, and Kouki moved to make a roundhouse kick as though he could not feel his injury.
Cannon-like impact sound rang when the kick hit, Ahatd's huge body was bent into <and was blown towards the wall behind with an extraordinary momentum. Ahatd, who was crushed into the wall accompanied with a thunderous roar, could not move well its body thanks to the impact, desperately trying to slip out of the wall but resulted in nothing.
With a swaying body, Kouki picked up the dropped Holy Sword and glared at the Demon Race woman with a piercing gaze that could almost kill. At the same time, similar torrent that of a tonado rose and began to envelope Kouki's body.
A skill derived from ’’Limit Break,’’ ’’Supreme Break.’’ If the normal ’’Limit Break’’ increased the basic states by three times within the time limit, ’’Supreme Break’’ was higher skill, and basic stats were multiplied by five. However, he had to use limit break to now forcibly dragged out his power. That's why the current Kouki only had 30 seconds until the limit. The effective time had been cut greatly because of the side effect.
However, without minding that, Kouki rushed towards the Demon Race woman in anger. The only thing in his mind was to beat Meld's enemy. Only revenge.
The Demon Race woman raised a panicked expression and ordered the surrounding demonic beasts to attack Kouki. Chimeras were sneaked attacking, the black cats were firing their tentacles, and the Brutal-look-alike swung their maces. However, Kouki ignored those demonic beasts. Without swinging Holy Sword, he kept advancing, and raised angry cry towards where the Demon Race woman was.
’’Bitch-! How dare you do that to Meld-san-!!’’
Kouki unhesitatingly swung down the Holy Sword that was held in upper stance. The Demon Race woman clicked her tongue and she immediately densified the sand into a shield... but cladded in torrent of light, the Holy Sword easily cut through the shield and slashed the Demon Race woman behind it.
Although she was not cut in two;she backed away and created the sand shield, the Demon Race woman had a deeply cut diagonally on her body, and blown backward, spraying blood.
Her back crashed into the wall behind, the Demon Race woman skidded down from the crushed wall, and Kouki approached her as he shook of the blood off the Holy Sword.
’’What luck... to have the situation reversed just like this... It's as if I am looking at a cheap drama.’’
Having the table reversed thanks to him awakening his hidden power due to him being in a pinch, made the Demon Race woman say sarcastic words while her wandering gaze was looking at the approaching Kouki in resignation.
Even though the white crow on her side activated its peculiar magic, her wound was too deep that it could not be healed immediately, and Kouki won't give her such a time either. It was a true checkmate, and the Demon Race woman endured the severe pain, moved her right hand, and took out a locket pendant from her breast pocket.
Seeing that, Kouki sharpened his expression, thinking it was the same self-destruction tool similar to the one Meld used, and he suddenly dashed out. Regardless of the Demon Race woman's death, he could not let the explosion swallow his comrades. That's why, I will defeat her before it activates! He attacked to stop her.
’’I am sorry... I am going to die before you... I love you, Mikhail...’’
Looking at the locket pendant in her hand dearly, the Demon Race woman muttered, which made Kouki inadvertently stopped the Holy Sword. Due to the attack not being delivered, the Demon Race woman dubiously raised her face and she noticed the Holy Sword had stopped just a few millimeters overhead.
Kouki expression was aghast as he looked down at the Demon Race woman with wide-open eyes. His eyes expressed, but when he noticed something, it generated fear and hesitation. Seeing his eyes, the Demon Race woman realized the thing that made him stopped his sword and watched him with a condemning gaze. Her gaze made Kouki shaken further.
’’... I am amazed... Did you notice it only now? That you are going to kill a 'person.'?’’
That's right, for Kouki, the Demon Race was a cruel and cowardly higher ranked demonic beasts. It also meant they were recognized as existences evolved from demonic beasts, that was what the Ishtar had taught him about the Demon Race. Actually, they were recognized as such because they were accompanied by the demonic beasts, their slaves. However, just like a normal human, they love and loved, desperately tried to survive for the sake of something. But Kouki never thought he was going to fight ’’people.’’ In a way, it could be said he unconsciously did not want to think so...
The recognition was overturned when the Demon Race woman dearly called the name of her loved person. Whether he liked it or not, the one he was fighting was not a demonic beast. He noticed she was in truth a ’’person’’ just like him. He recognized what he was trying to do was ’’murder.’’
’’Surely, you did not admit us as ’’people’’... What arrogance.’’
’’N-No... I, I didn't know...’’
’’Hah, isn't it you ’’did not try to know’’?’’
’’See? So, what's wrong? After all, what you're doing is not fighting but ’’hunting,’’ right? There's one animal before you here, you know? Even though you have thought like that until now...’’
’’... L-let's just talk... surely if we talk...’’
Kouki said as he lowered Holy Sword. Demon Race woman looked at him with pure scorn, and she shouted an order instead of answering him.
’’Ahatd! Aim at the swordswoman! The others, attack!’’
Having recovered from the impact, Ahatd approached Shizuku with tremendous momentum, exactly what the Demon Race woman had ordered. Within Kouki's party, although her charisma to lead people could not be compared to him, to excel in making calm judgement of the situation made her the most troublesome enemy, so Shizuku was the first to be targeted.
The others demonic beasts also began attacking the other party members. Rather than the merits gained by making them betray their allies with attached collars, she judged, because of his last attack, it was necessary to kill Kouki. The Demon Race woman felt Kouki's latest attack was a threat.
’’You're a boy without any self-awareness... we are at ’’war!’’ You who possessed huge power with immature mind is too dangerous! You are going to die here no matter what! Look, your comrades will be annihilated if you don't help them!’’
Kouki shouted at the Demon Race woman who ignored his suggestion, but the woman didn't care at all.
Next, Kouki turned around because of the woman's words, and at the same time, Shizuku was blown away and she crashed into the ground. Ahatd was already a monster that had already far surpassed the strong demonic beasts. It overpowered Kouki who was using ’’Limit Break’’ even if it was just a surprise attack. So, Shizuku should not be able to fight it by herself.
Kouki turned pale and used the power from ’’Supreme Break’’ to instantly move between Ahatd and Shizuku, and caught the ’’Magic Shock Wave’’ attack. Next, he counter-attacked by swinging Holy Sword which cut off its arms.
However, by the time he was before its bosom to finish it off with a stab, just like before, he fell to his knees, lost his strength, and fell forward.
’’Supreme Limit’’ had reached its time limit. It was the worst case scenario. Not only was weakened because of the after effect he had accumulated one impossible plight after another, he also could not move his body as though he was paralyzed.
’’A-At Such a time!’’
Covering Kouki, Shizuku slashed towards the wound Ahatd had on its arm that was cut off. Unable to calm down after its wound was slashed, Ahatd screamed and retreated. At that moment, Shizuku grabbed and threw Kouki to where their comrades were.
With Kouki incapable of moving, his comrades could only defend against the encircling demonic beasts. Then... I must do something! Shizuku aimed at the Demon Race woman. Her gaze unmistakably carried killing intent.
’’...Heh~. You seem be conscious about the murder. Rather, aren't you the one most suitable to be called as Hero?’’
’’... I don't care. It is our fault Kouki did not realize it. That's why I will pay for that debt!’’
Completely healed by the white crow's peculiar magic, the Demon Race woman stood up steadily and commented on Shizuku actions.
Shizuku should have known Kouki's straightforward character, and how deeply he sets his heart on something. She gritted her teeth because she felt responsible that it was only until now that Kouki realized they were killing people, and how he didn't realize their true enemies during this war.
Shizuku had no experience of murder, and she felt she did not want to experience it either. However, she was prepared such a day would come if she was going into a war. By learning swordsmanship, the ’’heaviness’’ of hurting people was driven into her.
However, now that the time has come, her resolution was easily shaken because of fear neither from the shame nor honour, but because she wanted to cry due to the thing she was going to do. Even so, she bit her lip and gritted her teeth to desperately suppress her fear.
Thus, she took a stance as she activated ’’No Beat’’ to kill the Demon Race woman using the Godspeed from the sword drawing technique. However in that moment, a chill ran along her spine because her instinct warned her to imminent danger. Immediately, from the side of the location where she jumped back from, a black cat's tentacles was fired.
’’I never told the other demonic beasts to not aim at you. Do you think you can kill me with Ahatd and other demonic beasts as your enemies.’’
Saying, ’’Of course I am also going to kill you,’’ the Demon Race woman began to chant. Shizuku somehow managed to break through the waves of attacks from the demonic beasts using acceleration and deceleration without preliminary action of ’’No Beat,’’ but her expression was gradually dyed in despair when she tried to move before the Demon Race woman through an opening.
The most difficult was that Ahatd had speed similar to Shizuku. The sturdy and gigantic figure was certainly seen by Shizuku, so even if she used the chance to jump towards the Demon Race woman, its swung fist give an explosion-like impact that would immediately reach Shizuku.
Shizuku was a swordsman who specialized in speed, so her defense was extremely brittle. Evasion and parry were the basic of her defense. Besides, damages would accumulated little by little from ’’Magic Shock Wave’’'s after effect. Also, she could neither completely evade nor parry.
Following that, Shizuku's movement had slightly become duller because of the accumulated damages. And that was fatal in a fight to death such as this.
Although she immediately used the sword and sheath as shields, Ahatd's fist crushed Shizuku's partner and hit her shoulder. Having blown parallel to the ground, forcefully crashing, and continued skidding on the ground, Shizuku laid down helplessly. The arm on her right shoulder was bent into an impossible angle. It was completely crushed. And because the impact was passed into her body, she sometimes coughed up blood.
Kaori called Shizuku with tone overflowed with uneasiness, but Shizuku could not move at all even as she gripped the handle of her broken sword while crouching.
At that time, the things about her comrades, formation, and her exhausted magic power, there was be no meaning for her to come to Shizuku's side, but other logical reasons had completely disappeared from her mind. Kaori's only thought was she ’’must go to her important best friend's side.’’
Kaori dashed out due to impulse. Her body was swaying and her feet weren't steady because she hardly had any magic power. Although there were voices behind that tried to stop her, they did not reach Kaori's ears. She was only trying her best to recklessly rush towards Shizuku. Naturally, the demonic beasts did not overlook the defenseless Kaori, and merciless attacks poured towards her.
However, all of those attacks were received by shining shields. Moreover, the numerous shields were standing just like a passage between Kaori and Shizuku.
’’Ehehe. As expected, being alone is unpleasant.’’
Suzu said with a pale expression. She held out her right hand straight towards Shizuku, and used all of her shields to make a beeline between Kaori and Shizuku. A faint smile floated on her face.
Suzu had realized it herself. Realized they could not survive at all. That's why, she thought of using her magic to allow her to be together with the best friends she loved even in the last moment. Naturally, the defense on the other comrades had become thinner as the effect... so Suzu, ’’I am sorry,’’ apologized in her mind, and continued to put up her shields for Kaori and Shizuku.
With Suzu's shields, Kaori reached Shizuku with only few wounds. Then, she embraced Shizuku's body tightly.
’’K-Kaori... what are you doing... Get back, hurry. It's dangerous here.’’
’’Uun. It is the same anywhere. That's why, it's okay for me to be by Shizuku-chan's side.’’
’’... I am sorry. I can't win.’’
’’Me, too, I am sorry I can't really do anything. I have hardly any magic power.’’
Supporting Shizuku, Kaori was frowning while smiling while using her magic to lessen Shizuku's pain. Shizuku on the other hand, used her solid right arm to grasp the hand Kaori was using to support her, and sported a troubled smile.
A shadow appeared before the two. It was Ahatd. With bloodshot eyes, it approached and looked down at Kaori and Shizuku. ’’RoOoOaR!!,’’ it raised its characteristic roar and swung its thick arm.
Unbeknownst to them, Suzu's shields had been put between Ahatd, and Kaori and Shizuku to interrupt it from coming any closer. However, it just ignore such barriers. It was probably because it was convinced that its swung fist would easily destroy the shields just like papers and use the shockwave to crush Kaori and Shizuku.
Currently, with the iron hammer of death swinging before them, various scenes passed through Kaori's mind. ’’Ah, I wonder is this the revolving lantern?,’’ and she strangely calmed down, but Kaori who was flooded with memories had her heart shaken by the latest scene that appeared.
It was the tea party under the moonlight. The memories of the two conversing. The night when she said a vow. The disappeared him who made a troubled smile. How she began to realize her ’’love’’ once he disappeared. How she chased after him, believing in his survival.
However, those would also end here. ’’In the end, I was once again unable to hold up my promise,’’ thinking so, tears flowed on Kaori's cheeks before she was aware of it.
First, I want to call out to him if we ever meet again, Kaori thought so. With such a wish, at the very least, I will call his name at the end... and she naturally said.
At that moment.
The ceiling above Ahatd fell with a roaring sound, and at the same time, a huge, jet-black stake flew out with an extreme power cladded in red thunder.
Raising sparks, the jet-black stake pierced through Ahatd as though it was a tofu, and it then pierced and was stuck on the ground.
With length around 120 centimeters, the huge stake buried itself into the ground while releasing red sparks. Flesh and blood scattered from the center where Ahatd's remains were with its original form nowhere to be seen. The spectacle made Kaori, Shizuku, and of course Kouki's party, the demonic beasts attacking them, and the Demon Race woman stiffened.
A silent unbecoming of a battlefield ruled the room. No one, not even a thing understood what had happened as they stood in bewilderment. Suddenly, a shadow jumped down from the opened ceiling. The person landed and lightly trampled down on the Ahatd's remains with his back before Kaori and Shizuku, and when he got off it, the person glared at the surroundings.
When he looked over his shoulder, he saw Kaori and Shizuku who were embracing each other.
The moment the person turned around, their eyes met, and a lightning ran through Kaori's body. Her heart had been cold accompanied by sorrow, no, probably it was freezing since the day her important person disappeared, but a sudden fire lighted it and heated it up Thu-thump, thu-thump.Her heart began to throb intensely.
’’...Your relationship is good as usual, you two.’’
The person said with a wry smile, and Kaori's mind was filled with delight even before she could think about it.
The hair color was different, the aura was different, the tone was different, and the appearance was different. However, she knew. It is him. It is he whose survival she believed in while she looked for him.