Arifureta - Volume 9 - Chapter 3
Immediate Trouble in the Great Desert
A brown world.
«Guryuu-en Great Desert»was a place those words expressed, perfectly. The sand was brown, formed by millions of miniscule grains. The wind that was blowing constantly threw up the sand and dyed the air brown, and in a 360 degree radius, there was only one color as far as one's eye could reach.
Moreover, there were numerous sand dunes, big and small, whose surfaces were always stirred by the wind. Moment by moment, the surface's pattern of the dune was constantly changing, as if expressing ’’I am alive.’’ The blazing sun and its unreserved heat made the temperature of the sand on the ground shoot up quickly. It easily exceeded 40 degrees celsius. Coupled with the fluttering sand, it was the worst environment to travel in.
However, it was only for ’’ordinary’’ travelers.
Currently, inside such a severe environment, a black, box-shaped vehicle, a magic-driven four-wheeler in fact, was advancing casually while raising a dust storm. Though there was neither road or pathway, it was solved by the compass installed inside the vehicle.
’’... The outside is amazing... I am really glad that this is not a normal carriage.’’
’’This one agrees. This one doth not know how it became such an environment... but indeed it isn't a place this one wants to be actively moving in.’’
Sitting on the rear seat while watching the sand battering the window and observing the brown-colored world, Shia and Tio muttered so, wholeheartedly. No matter how much of an M Tio was, this environment only depressed her.
’’It's completely different from when Myuu came here before! Here's very cool, and Myuu's eyes aren't hurting! Papa is amazing!’’
’’That's right~. Hajime-papa is amazing, right~. Myuu-chan, do you want to drink cold water?’’
’’Want to~. Kaori-oneechan, thank you~.’’
Sitting on the lap of Kaori, who was seated on the window side of the front seat, Myuu was excited because it was different from the time that she was here when she was kidnapped before. Myuu was looking at Hajime, who created such a comfortable space, with sparkling eyes.
That was natural. It would have been terribly severe for Myuu, who was a member of sea-dweller tribe, to cross the desert. For a young child around four years old like her, it would not be strange for her to have died due in her weakened state. Having endured such an environment made Myuu's surprise further increase at the gap between that time and now. After all, this four-wheeler was equipped with air conditioning.
Following that, the one who agreed with Myuu, took out cold water which normally didn't exist in the desert even if one hoped with all their might, was the one who made an impactful confession to Hajime and declaration of war to Yue in Hol-ad, and, before he knew it, she had become one of his companions. She was Kaori. Incidentally, the water was taken out of the refrigerator installed in the car.
’’You know, Shirasa-... Kaori. Please stop saying Hajime-papa. It is somehow made me felt terribly itchy over here.’’
’’? But, isn't Myuu said that as if it was the norm?’’
’’Well, I don't mind Myuu. However, for a classmate to call me papa is really...’’
Due to her personality which liked to look after others, Kaori somehow became the one who took care of Myuu and she mostly called Hajime as Hajime-papa when she was by Myuu's side. And for a classmate, and a girl at that, to call him papa, Hajime felt a different sense of resistance from when Myuu called him that, and he wore a truly subtle expression.
Incidentally, for Hajime to call her as ’’Kaori’’ was a result of her petition. Her reason was, Hajime-kun calls everyone by their own given name, so it is unfair for me to be called by my family name!, something like that.
’’Is that so? Then I won't... but, someday when I also have a child... at that time...’’
Kaori said so with her cheeks dyed crimson, while sneaking a peek at Hajime. Thus a strange atmosphere wrapped everyone inside the vehicle, except for Myuu. Then Yue answered Kaori in place of Hajime who pretended not to hear anything.
’’...Unfortunately, I have made that appointment already. Hajime promised it to me.’’
’’!? ... Hajime-kun, what does she mean?’’
’’... I don't think it is something that strange. After all, it is something still in the far future.’’
’’... fufu, Hajime already promised to introduce me to his parents.’’
’’...He's thoroughly made a bright family plan.’’
’’...Even the dates in Hajime's hometown.’’
Yue's vigorous attacks couldn't be stopped! Those words, one by one, became stakes, driven into Kaori's chest. However, Kaori wasn't a woman that would be done so easily. She believed in Hajime's survival even in such a despairing situation and she held the courage to challenge Yue, who obviously owned a special bond with Hajime. In the moment Yue's words were stopped, she began her counterattack!
’’I, I know a lot of things about Hajime-kun that Yue doesn't know! For example, Hajime's dream for the future, his hobbies, even his favorite genre! Does Yue know the anime and manga that Hajime-kun likes?’’
’’Hmph... that's... but, those aren't related to the current us. There are no such things here. Hajime can just teach me once we arrive in Japan...’’
’’How naive. Just look at the current Hajime-kun. Doesn't he looked like an anime character?’’
It should've been a fight between Kaori and Yue but somehow Hajime received the damage.
’’White-haired with an eyepatch, moreover his magic eyes... those are certainly the things Hajime-kun's favorite characters have... even his weapon, that Cross Bit is modeled from funnel... ah, but the one Hajime-kun likes is 00, so is it GN Bit? Whatever it is, the current Hajime-kun is still quite the otaku.’’
’’Mu, muu... for Hajime's weapon to be derived from that.’’
’’Yue, can you say it is your victory if you don't know the things the one you love likes?’’
’’... Kaori... that's some courage... then, let me teach you myself. About the things that Hajime likes on...the bed.’’
’’ !? ... W-, w-, w-, on bed, uu~, as I thought...’’
’’Fufufu... it is good that you now know the difference between us.’’
During their travel, Yue and Kaori had already made so many sparks against each other that the other party members already came to ignore them. In the beginning, Shia watched them anxiously, but in the end, it didn't become a serious problem, so she stopped getting herself involved with them.
In a way, it was Hajime who received most of the damage. Hajime was the source of the two's quarrel, so the content of their fights made him want to writhe. Even now, he received mental damage because the things he worried about the most were being pointed at.
Now Yue boldly told them about the ’’night’’ activities which made Kaori close her ears, not wanting to hear it. Hajime himself didn't want Myuu to be exposed to that, so he tried to stop Yue.
However, faster than Hajime, Myuu unexpectedly came to stop the two's quarrel.
’’... u~, Yue-oneechan and Kaori-oneechan always quarrelling! Myuu hates it if big sisters don't get along!’’
Saying so, Myuu moved from Kaori's laps towards Shia's lap in the back seat. Moreover, Yue and Kaori became flustered. It was because the four year-old girl said she would hate them.
’’Geez, you two are unbecoming in front of Myuu-chan. Rather, that was bad for her education. I also understand how much you two think of Hajime-san, but please be more prudent.’’
’’! ...What a failure. To be scolded by Shia...’’
’’I-I am sorry, Myuu-chan, Shia.’’
To be admonished by Shia made the two droop their shoulders.
For Yue, Shia was akin to a friend and younger sister, and although Shia also held affection towards Hajime, Shia also thought similarly towards Yue which made Yue didn't think of her as a love rival. As for Tio, she was just a pervert. That's why, Kaori, who made a full-frontal declaration of war towards Yue, was the first love rival she ever had.
Yue was convinced that there was an absolute bond between her and Hajime. She held an unwavering confidence that she was Hajime's ’’special person.’’ That's why she was confident that she would be able to easily defeat the challenger, Kaori, when the confession and declaration of war happened.
However, although her confidence didn't change, Kaori sometimes made the flowers bloom between her and Hajime when they were reminiscencing about Japan, which was unknown to Yue and the others. Towards Kaori, who knew the past Hajime that she didn't know of, Yue's sense of rivalry budded before long.
As a result, just like children boasting about their collections, their quarrel turned from a serious one into such a situation and today, Myuu and Shia finally got angry at them.
Normally, Hajime was the one who should be stopping Yue, but he was the one who received most of the damage from the two' quarrels. And now, he could only look far into the distance, as if it didn't have anything to do with him, to heal his wounded heart.
’’Nn? What is that? Master, there seems to be a commotion in the direction at three o'clock.’’
Yue and Kaori were desperately appealing that they were getting along to mend Myuu's mood and Shia was also calming Myuu with a wry smile. Hajime muttered, ’’I am not a chuuni’’ with hollow eyes. While those happened, unexpectedly, Tio who watched them in interest called out to Hajime. She seemed to have discovered something outside the window.
Hajime looked towards the place Tio mentioned, a big dune at his right. There, numerous worm-like demonic beasts, sandworms to be precise, had gathered. Their numerous heads could be seen at the top of the dune.
Those sandworms were 20 meters on average, large-scale demonic beasts while the largest ones were around 100 meters in length. They lived in this «Guryuu-en Great Desert»and would usually submerge themselves underground and attack prey in their vicinity by opening their big, fangs filled mouths from below. They specialized in surprise attacks due to being hard to detect and were feared by people who crossed the large desert as the gods of death.
Fortunately, the sandworms themselves weren't very perceptive, so as long as one wasn't so unfortunate as to come near them by accident, they would neither notice nor aim at anyone who was far away. As such, it could be said that there was someone who was not that fortunate at that dune, but...
’’? Why are they just squirming around?’’
That's right, Tio would have not made a doubtful face and asked Hajime if there were just sandworms appearing. With Hajime's perception skills, he would have noticed any of the sandworms' surprise attacks, and they'd be able to get out of the sandworm's range with four-wheeler's speed. What was abnormal was that if the sandworms were attacking someone, rather than attacking, the sandworms were squirming around in their surroundings.
’’It's as if, they art confused as to eat or not, right?’’
’’Well, from what I see, isn't that so?’’
’’This one hath no knowledge of this place. But those art all-eaters, they shouldn't be hesitating to eat anything...’’
Although Tio was a masochist pervert, she had lived far longer than Yue and unlike the imprisoned Yue, her knowledge was pretty vast. That was why she owned reliable information about demonic beasts. For her to be looking doubtful must mean that something extraordinary is happening.
However, they didn't have any reason to be involved with it. Hajime decided to get as far away as possible without confirming or getting involved in it.
And at that time,
’’Kh!? Everyone, brace yourselves!’’
Hajime shouted so and immediately accelerated the four-wheeler. Morrow, from behind the four-wheeler, starting with a small part of its body surfacing, a gigantic figure with the same color as the desert jumped out. With its mouth open, it was a sandworm. Apparently, Hajime's party were also unfortunate ones.
Hajime further steered to the left and right, advancing through the sand at high speed. Under the four-wheeler that drew an ’’S’’ letter, a second and third sandworm jumped out.
In order of screams, there was Kaori, Myuu, and Shia. Met with a strong centrifugal force, Kaori turned behind, worrying about Myuu in the back seat. But her balance crumbled and she fell into Hajime's lap with her hip on Yue's lap.
Blinking her eyes, Kaori's cheeks were flushed, and as she was, she clung tightly to Hajime's waist. Her position was actually pretty bad. It made Hajime's cheek cramp. Incidentally, the other half of Kaori's body was crushing on Yue.
’’Oi, Shira-... Kaori! What are you doing in such a situation!’’
’’It's a dangerous! A dangerous situation! So, I'm just clinging to Hajime-kun!’’
’’...Damn you, Kaori. To pin me under, is it... a surprise attack?’’
While receiving an ambush from the sandworms, Kaori used this chance to hug Hajime. Yue was slapping Kaori's butt even now, but the blushing Kaori was still clinging to Hajime's waist, not moving at all.
While they were like that, the three appearing sandworms, with their upper bodies out of the ground, were glaring at the four-wheeler that evaded all of their ambushes. This time, those gigantic figures came forward to attack from overhead.
If it was a normal carriage, everything would've ended with that attack. However, it was an artifact created with a portion of Hajime's otaku soul. It wasn't even daunted at being made out as prey.
’’Ah, this is the first time I am using THIS!’’
Saying so, Hajime turned around the four-wheeler with a drift, advancing backwards, he poured his magic and activated the installed function.
CLANK! KA-THUNK! KA-THUNK!
At the same time the mechanical sound effect rang out, a part of the four-wheeler's bonnet slided open and an arm with a set of four rockets came out. The arm moved as if looking for its' prey and when it turned towards the incoming sandworms, wooosh!, such an sfx rang out accompanied by the deadly warheads scattering their sparks.
Shining in an orange color, the rockets entered right into the sandworms' opened mouths and after a moment, they created great explosions as they destroyed the sandworms from the inside. The sandworms' crimson blood and flesh poured down like a shower and some stuck on the windshield of the currently back running four-wheeler.
’’Uhee... Shia, don't let Myuu see it.’’
’’I did that already~. Anh! Myuu-chan, was it painful? But please hold on for a while.’’
Hajime asked Shia to do so at the time the rockets were fired into the incoming sandworms because the stimulation might be too strong for Myuu. Like that, in synchronization with Hajime, Shia was already embracing Myuu closely to her chest so as she would not see it. However, maybe because she could not breath from her face being buried in Shia's breasts, Myuu tried to sip out and inadvertently touched a part of Shia's body. Inadvertently, Shia moaned. Hajime decided that he did not hear anything.
Currently, although Kaori was clinging onto Hajime's waist, Yue was finally able to fix her seatbelt. Indeed it was not a situation where he could be defeated by his own impulse, even though his ears were dyed in red with his face cramped.
’’E-Excuse me, Hajime-kun. I am sorry. That, that I impulsively... there's no perverted meaning to it. That is, for a bit, I just wanted to hug...’’
’’... then if things go well, are you going to satisfy Hajime like that?’’
’’Un, that is so... wait, no! Yue, don't put such strange things into my mouth. I am not as lewd as Yue.’’
’’...You said I am lewd... certainly, I can't refute that when I am alone with Hajime.’’
’’...Girls, please shut it already. Also, Yue, please don't talk about night activities because it's embarrassing.’’
With the three sandworms crushed by the rockets installed in the four-wheeler, Hajime sharpened his gaze because the sandworms on the dune before could be seen moving due to perceiving the explosive sound and impact.
However, on his side, Kaori and Yue were conversing just as usual which reduced his tension. Inadvertently, he admonished them due to him being embarrassed.
To begin with, in his mind, the ’’night’’ Yue was certainly a lewd one and, when he was alone with her, he thought of her as pretty erotic. Kaori who seemed to have seen through him was teary eyed. Yue, with a bewitching smile, was looking at Hajime while licking her lip. Kaori, who saw that, raised a cute groan. Unconsciously, her fighting spirit blazed further.
From the back seat, Shia said, ’’I understand your feelings, Kaori-san. We are comrades here,’’ while patting Kaori's shoulder with sympathetic eyes.
Hajime ignored them and the moved four-wheeler above another dune. He could see the group of sandworms on the lower side of the ground with their lower parts still underground. They didn't hide anything as they slightly raised the sand. They might have guessed that they had been noticed by Hajime's party, so they chose speed over another surprise attack.
Hajime put the rocket launcher away and activated another piece of weaponry in its stead. The center of the bonnet slid apart and a rectangular machine appeared from inside. Following that, the rectangular box extended its barrel with kashun! sound effect, and it became a rifle was similar to Schlagen.
Next, bright red sparks gushed out from the four-wheeler's Schlagen. With its arm adjusting the angle, DUuuoo!!, came a roaring, firing sound as a line flashing line tore through the brown world.
The bullet, which was fired at a high-velocity, advanced as it raised the sand on the ground upon impact and grandly raised a dust storm. On the sand column that was raised just like an eruption was, of course, a lot of sand colored meat and red blood.
The Schlagen installed on four-wheeler continued to fire bright red flashes, one after another. The sandworms that were hunting their prey exploded on the ground and became small bits of nourishment for the barren ground.
’’Hajime-kun! Look at that!’’
’’...A white person?’’
When four-wheeler's Schlagen, which was trailing white smoke, was stored back, Kaori let out a surprised voice and pointed her finger. In the place Kaori pointed at, just as Yue muttered, was a collapsed person who was wrapped in white clothing. It was probably the one the previous sandworms were looking at. However, from their distance, it was unknown as to why it wasn't eaten.
’’Please, Hajime-kun. Let's go there... I am a ’’healer’’ after all.’’
Kaori looked at Hajime, petitioning. Even Hajime was interested as to why that person was not attacked by the demonic beasts of the desert in such a situation, so he accepted Kaori's request. It was possible that the person carried a method or item capable of keeping demonic beasts away. And in actuality, there was a mineral called the Faeadren crystal that carried such an effect in the sea of trees. The crystal only made it difficult for demonic beasts to approach, but there's a possibility that even stronger items exist.
As such, the four-wheeler came near the collapsed person. The person wore clothing that was similar to galabeya (egyptian clothing), and it wore a hood that was large enough to hide its' face. Its' face couldn't be seen. Falling prone, the hood hid it.
Getting off the four-wheeler, Kaori ran with short steps towards the fallen person.
’’!... This is...’’
When the hood was taken off, a man's face could be seen, a young one that was still in the middle of his 20s. However, what surprised Kaori was not that but the young man's state. With a pained expression, he was drenched in sweat, his breathing was rough, and his pulse was fast. He generated an intense heat from all over his body that could be felt even through his clothing. Moreover, blood vessels could be seen as if they were being pressed from the inside of his body, and he was bleeding from his eyes and nose. It was obviously an abnormal situation. It was neither a sun stroke nor cold.
Hajime became cautious towards the virus-carrier like young man, but he decided to keep quiet and watch as the healing specialist was examining him. Kaori activated ’’Infiltrate and Examine.’’ Using magic power to infiltrate the other's body, she could examine one's state and the result could be seen on her status plate.
With one hand placed on the young man's chest, Kaori's other hand was holding her status plate where the result of the examination was displayed. The result was...
’’...Rampaging magic power? Does it mean the magic power inside his body is out of control because of poison?’’
’’Kaori? Do you understood anything now?’’
’’Y-Yeah, but this is...’’
Saying so, Kaori shown what was displayed on her status plate,
|Excessive release of magic power, unable to release it outside.|
|Fever, hazy consciousness, pain in whole body, rupturing of blood vessels and hemorrhage|
|Abnormality in bodily fluid.|
’’It is just my guess, but he must have drunk something which resulted in his magic power going out of control... moreover, because he can't release it outside, his magic power was pressuring from inside his body and his body couldn't endure it... if this keeps up, his internal organs and blood vessels will explode. It is also possible that he will be weakened to death due to a large amount of hemorrhaging... I am requesting a blessing unto this location, ’’Ten Thousand Heavens.’’
Concluding so, Kaori chanted her healing magic. ’’Ten Thousand Heavens’’ was what she activated. It was onne of the middle-ranked healing magics with the effect of curing abnormal conditions. It was the magic used to undo Suzu's petrification.
’’...There's almost no change... why? For it to be incapable of curing it... does it means too much time has passed?’’
Apparently, ’’Ten Thousand Heavens’’ could not cure the man, it could only delay the progression. Next, maybe because of the pressure from inside his body, the young man groaned in pain. His bleeding didn't stop. At the moment, because she didn't have any clear treatment method, Kaori ground her teeth and decided to use her emergency measure.
’’Here I declared the light of grace, here is my realm, my sanctuary, which crushes all evils just as I intended to, ’’Holy Ground.’’’’
High-ranked light attributed healing magic, ’’Holy Ground.’’ It was a magic that transfers peoples' magic power to the others within the area. Basically, by transferring one's magic power to one's companion, that person would temporarily escaped from magic power exhaustion. It was a magic that aimed to supplement another if s/he didn't have a sufficient amount of magic power to shoot a strong magic.
Moreover, it wasn't limited to the user's magic power, so it could forcefully transfer someone else's magic power to another within the area. It held the same principle as magic drain. However, it needed a lot more time to extract the magic power from another person and it was impossible to extract a lot of it at once. This was the reason it is only a ’’High-ranked magic.’’
To begin with, it only became practical because Kaori was capable of activating magic which originally needed ten notes with only three notes of chanting. It showed how capable Kaori was.
The reason she used this magic on the suffering young man was of course to release the rampaging magic power that was building pressure inside his body towards the outside. It was displayed on the status plate that the young man was in state where he ’’cannot release magic power to outside of the body,’’ so she decided to try ’’if’’ it could be solved by forcefully draining it using high-ranked magic.
The pure-white light expanded from the center of the young man's body, and firefly-like, fleeting lights sprang about. It was a mysterious sight. With her eyes shut, the appearance of Kaori, who placed her hand on the young man's chest as she concentrated and was wrapped by the fleeting light, was divine.
Kaori, who easily activated high-ranked magic, made the ones well versed in magic, Yue and Tio, inadvertently leak ’’Hou...,’’ voices of admiration. While being held by Shia, Myuu watched Kaori in an entranced expression and muttered, ’’Beautiful...’’
Without noticing that her new comrades in the surroundings were raising voices of admiration, Kaori put the magic power extracted from the young man into the bracelet made of God Crystal that she received from Hajime. Apparently, the forced drain from the high-ranked magic was effective.
Incidentally, the reason it was not a ring was because Hajime didn't want to repeat the past misunderstanding.
Gradually, the young man's breathing became steady. The redness of his body also disappeared as it seemed the bleeding was also stopped. After deactivating ’’Holy Ground,’’ Kaori activate beginner-ranked healing magic, ’’Blessing,’’ which healed the young man's blood vessels.
’’For the time being... I don't think it will have an immediate effect as I don't see any real solution for it. There's also the possibility of a slow death from over magic power extraction, so I only extracted it until the level where the pressure inside his body is decreased. If this keeps up, I think the possibility of a slow death from either pressure from inside his body or fatigue is... high. I also have no memory of such a symptom from the things I studied... Do Yue and Tio know anything about it?’’
With the young man out of the crisis, Kaori was somewhat relieved but anxious as she could not heal him completely. Thus she asked Yue and Tio whose knowledge was deep. The two's gazes wandered around as they searched about it inside their memory, but there was none. In the end, it became a situation where they could not even say that it was a disease of an unknown cause.
’’Kaori, just to be safe, try to examine us too. After all, there's also the possibility that it is an unknown disease that is spread by aerial infection too. Well, there's no need to worry about it if it is just a rampaging of magic power.’’
’’Un, you are right.’’
Nodding at Hajime's words, Kaori examined everyone and didn't find any abnormalities. Therefore, because it seemed not to infect anyone from respiration, Hajime's party patted their chests in relief.
When they did that, the young man raised a groan and his eyelids trembled. Thus, he woke up. Slowly opening his eyes and then looking at his surrounding, the young man saw the nearby Kaori was watching him in worry and he said, ’’Goddess? I see, so this that world...’’
Following that, the young man began to heat up for different reason and tried to reach out towards Kaori only to have his stomach trampled by Hajime, who didn't conceal his irritation from the already annoying heat and sand.
Leering at the groaning young man, whose body bent into <, and Kaori, who raised a surprised voice, Hajime began to question him.
Hajime knew that the garaveya-like clothing and overcoat worn by the young man was a specialty of the «Dukedom of Ancadi»that was located in the biggest oasis of «Guryuu-en Great Desert». He studied it as way of escaping reality at the time he was called ’’incompetent.’’ If the young man says that a kind of disease was spreading in Ancadi then they would change their next destination due to the current one being a danger zone. Thus he asked the young man.
Regaining his senses after being trampled by Hajime, the young man didn't even look at Hajime's party surrounding him and stared at the black object, blinking in confusion. After hearing the rough circumstances from Kaori,and understanding that Hajime's party were his life benefactors, he bowed his head, said his thanks, and began his story.
Hearing the young man's story, is it those Gods playing tricks on us?, Hajime was looking at the sky doubtfully because trouble always followed them wherever they went.