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Densetsu No Yuusha No Densetsu - Volume 8 - Chapter 4

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Chapter 4: A heart not overwhelmed by despair[edit]

They were on a trackless path.

Passing over the border of the Roland Empire, they'd entered Imperial Nelpha, and after travelling north for a while, they changed their route to the west partway through.

And moving off the street, through a trackless path where tall weeds grew thickly, Ryner and co. moved forward.

’’... Hmmm,’’

Ryner said, arms crossed and deep in thought.

While frantically pushing through the weeds in front of Ryner, Tiir

’’... Ryner, just what have you been troubled by these past several days?’’

’’... Mu n.’’

’’... Are you ignoring me? No, rather, though I understand that ever since we met, you've been troubled over learning that you're not human and various other devastating truths... in the end, I don't think they're things you need to be troubled over?’’

However, Ryner continued to look up at the sky.

’’... Mumumumumu.’’

Tiir let out a sigh at that. And in a somewhat reserved manner,

’’... That's... Then, at the very least, you could push away the weeds in front of you and walk a bit faster... Well, we're almost at our destination regardless...’’

At those words.

Ryner looked at Tiir's face.

Tiir made a relieved expression, and,

’’Ah, you finally feel like listening to me...’’

He began, but Ryner didn't hear the end of his words.

Instead, Tiir's eyes.

After staring at the vermillion cross...

’’... Elemio.’’

At that, Tiir's expression curved.

’’That again? As I asked, what exactly is this 'Elemio'? Ever since then, you've continuously muttered that again and again, Ryner... Ah, could it have something to do with a lover?’’

He said such a thing.

’’Lover?’’

Ryner replied.

Again, Tiir made an expression like he'd been saved.

’’Ah, finally, a response! So was I correct? Ryner's lover...’’

However, Ryner again ignored Tiir by that point. Looking up at the sky, he muttered,

’’Elemio... lover... Yeah, it definitely sounds like a female name...’’

’’So it's not the name of your lover? Then just what exactly... Never mind, you're looking at the sky again...’’

He began, but Ryner interrupted him.

’’Tiir.’’

’’Finally!? You finally feel like listening to me...’’

’’I'm busy thinking about something right now, so you could just be quiet for a while?’’

’’Ehhhh!?’’

He raised his voice, before speaking in a sulking tone,

’’... No, it's fine, I suppose? ... Though it's fine... we'll be reaching our friends almost immediately...’’

He said that.

It seemed they'd be reaching where his friends were soon.

The same as Ryner, Alpha Stigma... No, the settlement where Cursed Eye bearers were gathered.

But that was why he had to think about this now.

Right now, that was the truth that Ryner had continued to overlook.

The truth that he'd never thought about, in spite of it being in the palm of his hands.

What exactly were these eyes?

That kind of thing.

’’......’’

With his finger, Ryner folded over his own eyelid.

What are these eyes?

Right now, Ryner had a bit of a guess.

It was the words that had descended when Ryner's Alpha Stigma went berserk.

’’You would kill me? With your power? You claim the likes of Elemio's power would kill me? A worm crawling in its hole would claim to kill me? Ha, hahaha, hahahahahaha. Begone. Begone. Begone. Everything is nothing. Return to nothingness.’’

’’... Elemio.’’

’’Again, that... if it's not a woman, is it a man? Is that your preference, Ryner?’’

Though Tiir said that in a shocked voice...

It wasn't a person's name.

No, he didn't think it was a person's name.

If he recalled correctly, it was the name of the tool that the spy from Gastark, Sui, used.

The Elemio Comb.

Sui had called it that.

As when Ryner went berserk, his Alpha Stigma easily disintegrated that Elemio Comb and Sui's arm, there was some kind of unknown, hidden ability...

It was likely a type of Heroes'Relic.

Regarding that Heroes'Relic, his Alpha Stigma had said...

’’You claim the likes of Elemio's power would kill me?’’

What was that?

The source of that voice that descended.

The name of the Heroes'Relic, Elemio... No, it spoke as if it entirely understood even its existence.

In other words,

These eyes.

They were a type of Heroes'Relic?

’’......’’

But then, Ryner's expression trembled as he folded his arms in a troubled manner.

’’... But if that's the case, the mysteries increase, huh...?’’

’’... No, I think Ryner's the mystery here instead...’’

Tiir said such a thing in a tired voice, but unsurprisingly, he was ignored.

From there, there were more important matters.

That voice that descended.

Regarding the comb that Sui used,

’’The likes of Elemio's power ...’’

It'd said.

But what did that mean?

The likes of Elemio.

Maybe it mean the likes of the Elemio's comb, or...

The power within the comb... maybe it was someone within the comb who was called Elemio...?

Within the comb, there was someone named Elemio?

’’... Geez, there's a mini-god inside the comb? This is becoming more and more like a fairytale...’’

Ryner smiled wryly at his own words.

But depending on whether the comb possessed a unique power or there was someone dwelling within the comb, the truth differed completely.

Did the comb possess a unique power?

Was there a mini-god dwelling inside the comb?

To put it in another way, it was like this.

Am I personally a monster...

Or is there someone sleeping inside my eyes, making me kill people...?

The voice that descended.

’’God. Devil. Dark god. Hero. Monster. What will you call me? What will you call me? Hahahahahahahahahaha ’’

The voice that descended.

’’α[First] comes destruction. I bring forth nothing. I bless nothing. I save nothing. I just erase. Completely.’’

Even though he didn't want to hear it, that voice echoed within his head.

But he felt that it was a voice that came from him. As a mad monster, it was his own voice.

However, Tiir had heard that voice as well. It wasn't a voice that belonged only to Ryner.

Within his mother's womb.

It echoed in Tiir's mind.

’’Have your first feeding. Devour this inferior human.’’

It suddenly gave that order.

Kill others.

Kill others.

Your important people as well.

Your loved ones as well.

Destroy everything around you.

However, you who's giving those orders...

’’... Who the hell are you?’’

Then.

Tiir, who was pushing through the weeds with all his might, looked over his shoulder with a surprised expression, and,

’’... Eh? Er, Tiir Rumibul I introduced myself quite a long time ago...’’

At that, Ryner hurriedly said,

’’No, no, no, I didn't mean you.’’

’’Not me? Then...’’

He said, restlessly looking around at their surroundings. Confirming that there was nobody else, he suddenly made an expression like he'd realized something, and,

’’D-Don't tell me, Ryner, that you're on strange medicine?’’

’’I'm not, I'm not.’’

’’But you were seeing hallucinations earlier...’’

’’I wasn't hallucinating.’’

’’That's no good, Ryner. Only those inferior humans use drugs...’’

’’I told you, I don't take drugs!’’

Ryner shouted, at which Tiir looked concerned.

’’If so, then that's a relief. If you were on drugs, then you wouldn't be able to meet with our friends until they wore off.’’

After saying that, he again pushed through the weeds before him, and then spoke.

’’Now then, almost there. Soon, we'll arrive at where our friends are.’’

In response, Ryner looked through the weeds that grew over their heads.

It was a destination about two days away from the road.

Suddenly past the weeds that grew as they pleased, there was a small, isolated building there.

Looking at that house, Ryner spoke.

’’Huh? ... The Cursed Eyes... no, not that. That's the settlement where the God's Eyes bearers live... All things considered, it looks to be a pretty tight fit in that one building...’’

For some reason, Tiir happily smiled in what seemed to be excitement.

’’Finally... Finally, you've started asking me normal questions, Ryner.’’

’’No, just hurry up and answer, would you?’’

’’Of course. To make this a proper conversation, I'd have to respond with something. Then, what is it?’’

’’Liiike I said, for a settlement where all of the God's Eyes bearers in the world live, it looks kind of shabby to me.’’

’’Ah, that. Well, that's because this is a temporary residence.’’

’’Temporary residence...? Hoh. Then, your base is elsewhere?’’

’’Yes. In the central continent...’’

He said.

Ryner looked at Tiir and spoke.

’’Then, is this tiny thing the God's Eyes bearers'southern branch of operation?’’

However, Tiir denied that.

’’No, we have no interest in the southern continent. We intend to leave this place in a few days.’’

’’Heh? Is that right? Why?’’

’’Because our task has been complete. We've finished gathering most of the God's Eyes bearers in the southern continent... Afterwards, we'll be bringing them with us and returning to the base.’’

’’... Hmm. I see,’’

Ryner said, nodding in understanding, at which Tiir again smiled cheerfully.

It seemed that he was sincerely happy over the idea of Ryner finally meeting his companions.

’’......’’

However, Ryner had complicated feelings over that gentle expression.

’’Inferior humans.’’

When he'd spit those words out, he'd acted in a completely different manner than the one he displayed towards Ryner.

But just what made him hold such strong prejudice?

Of course, if one considered humans'attitude towards Cursed Eye bearers, he understood his reason for hating humans, but...

’’......’’

Ryner looked at the cabin before him.

It was a wooden cabin, out in the middle of nowhere, built as if to reject human civilization.

Unsurprisingly, it seemed that the Cursed Eye bearers gathered here thought in the same way as Tiir?

That they were superior and that humans were an inferior existence.

It'd be fine if all humans were to die they'd think such things, wouldn't they?

Or else their leader... the one who commanded the group made up of the Cursed Eye bearers gathered from around the world coerced the other Cursed Eye bearers into thinking that way?

Though either way, it's gonna be tough hanging with them, huh? Ryner thought, frowning.

Like that, he looked at Tiir and asked,

’’... Hey. You're going around, gathering all of the God's Eyes bearers in the world, right?’’

He nodded.

’’Yes, that's correct. In spite of being inferior beings, because of the humans who persecute us, we have to protect our friends. That's why I've become leader and am gathering those with God's Eyes from around the world.’’

Ryner narrowed his eyes at those words.

The topic of the leader.

But regarding what was said,

’’... Then, Tiir, you're the leader of the group of God's Eyes bearers?’’

’’Correct?’’

He nodded easily.

But in response, Ryner stared at Tiir with half-closed eyes, and,

’’So?’’

He said.

Apparently not understanding, Tiir tilted his head to one side.

’’Hmm? 'So?'And? What?’’

’’Don't 'what'me. You lied just now, didn't you? You're not the leader.’’

At that, Tiir's eyes widened in surprise.

’’Uwa, you realized? You're amazing, Ryner. How in the world did you know?’’

’’No, how much I've realized is...’’

After speaking in a surprised tone, Ryner mimicked Tiir's tone earlier, reciting,

’’... 'Because our task has been complete.'’’

In that moment, understanding dawned on Tiir's face.

’’Ah, that's right. This was my mistake. Task... task... correct. Certainly, I'm moving under orders. I'm not the leader.’’

In response, Ryner spoke with half-closed eyes.

’’Hey, hey... what's this don't you think this conversation's taken a weird turn...? What was with that whole 'I refuse to lie to a friend'thing? Suddenly you're lying, huh?’’

But Tiir laughed. Without any signs of shame whatsoever,

’’No, it's not quite a lie. After all, for the time being, you could say I've become the leader in terms of appearance.’’

In terms of appearance.

In other words, someone else was leader in actuality... but for the sake of concealing that, Tiir was acting as leader.

That mean,

’’... Is there a threat?’’

Otherwise, there would be no reason to expressly hide it.

Of course, one could say that humans were a threat, but with the incredible power Tiir possessed, it didn't seem like the other party would be those humans.

In that case, an answer emerged.

A group that Tiir had to hide his and the other's leader from.

An enemy that they feared.

’’... Gastark?’’

In that instant.

Tiir's expression changed.

Bulls-eye, it seemed.

Tiir looked surprised, and then made a happy face.

’’... This is... amazing... though I've been vaguely sensing your competence as we travelled together, Ryner, I wasn't expecting this much. To know that our allies with sharp minds like you are increasing, the leader will surely be happy...’’

But Ryner wanted to clutch his head at that.

The group that Tiir and co. had created were opposing Gastark.

No, if he'd thought for a bit, he would've known that already.

After all, Gastark was hunting down Cursed Eyes and going around pursuing Cursed Eye bearers. Considering that, there was no way they wouldn't go after a group made up for Cursed Eye bearers.

And.

If the Cursed Eye bearers fought with Gastark, they'd likely be easily defeated.

As strong as he claimed Tiir to be... that was when up against ordinary humans.

Ryner recalled the tools that the assassins from Gastark... Sui and Kuu possessed.

Heroes'Relics... though they'd called them Rhule Fragmei...

Granting its wielder tremendous physical capabilities, and furthermore freezing its opponent, there was the Ailecrono Scythe, and a dagger that could turn one's arm into a dragon by stabbing it, and release fire from its mouth...

’’......’’

No, as they couldn't understand how to use the latter, it was something Ryner and co. had discarded...

But anyhow, those guys used powerful, hidden tools of currently unknown magic implementation.

And against that, the Cursed Eyes...

For example, Ryner's eyes the Alpha Stigma had the ability to immediately understand the structure of all magic, copy it, and cancel it out.

Though Tiir's Iino Doue had a different form, it seemed to be the same ability in the end. Devouring the other party's magic, it converted that power into raising one's physical capabilities.

But Heroes'Relics... they demonstrated a completely different notion from magic.

Even if he looked at the Heroes'Relics with his Alpha Stigma, going by it's structure, he couldn't tell at all whether it was going to release fire, ice, etc.

In other words, the compatibility between Heroes'Relics and magic was the worst.

Even if Tiir possessed monstrous power, there was nothing he could do against an opponent that didn't use magic.

Rather, without depending on Cursed Eyes, by fighting with ordinary magic, there still seemed to be a chance at victory.

In reality, Ryner, with Ferris, had been able to repel Sui and Kuu...

But Tiir shouldn't be able to do that.

His eyes continuously devoured the seirei that normally existed within the atmosphere... It seemed he wasn't able to shift the location of the seirei in order to cast magic.

That was to say, he couldn't use magic.

With that, how would a fight with Gastark go?

Ryner asked.

’’... By the way, have you fought with Gastark?’’

’’......’’

Tiir was silent.

But with that alone, Ryner knew the result.

And not for the first time, he thought it was a relief that he didn't take Arua with him. There was no way he could bring him along to a dangerous group that would be Gastark's main target.

On the contrary, this group...

’’... In other words, you're an anti-Gastark faction?’’

It was when he asked that.

There was the sound of something banging.

’’What was that?’’

Ryner said, turning towards the source of the noise.

As the door of the cabin at the front of the weeds opened, a sole boy came out.

Black hair that reached his shoulders, black eyes.

He was still young.

Around four or five years old?

The child dazedly stared this way towards the clump of bushes...

Then, gazing at Ryner and Tiir, a delighted smile broke out across his face, and,

’’Ah, ah, ah, ah! T-Tiir-niichan!?’’

Exclaiming that, he began running this way.

In the moment that he raised his voice, four more children rushed out of the cabin, and as soon as they looked in this direction, they ran with such force that it wouldn't be strange if they fell...

’’Gyaa!?’’

’’Owww!’’

Two people fell...

No, well, leaving that aside.

The fallen children immediately got up and dashed towards them.

And one by one, they jumped at Tiir.

In response, with a kind smile and while stroking the children's heads,

’’Were you waiting?’’

Tiir said, to which one girl cried out with a face like she was about to cry,

’’Y-You're late, Tiir!’’

Furthermore, a boy

’’We've been waiting for so, so long!?’’

At that, as Tiir stroked their heads,

’’I see, I see. Have you all been good while watching the house?’’

At the question, all of the children nodded at the same time.

’’I-I've been good...’’

’’I've been extra good!?’’

’’D-Didn't you eat my cake without asking!?’’

And other such things.

More than at the children's noisiness, he was surprised at Tiir's manner.

His gaze and voice gave off a sense of kindness that Ryner had never seen.

Tiir looked towards Ryner, who was watching in wonder.

And,

’’... Earlier, Ryner, you asked if I've fought with Gastark, didn't you?’’

’’Yeah.’’

Ryner nodded.

While gently stroking the children's heads, Tiir said,

’’... Of course I have. And I ran. My friends were killed before my eyes one by one. That time, there were children just like these who were there by chance... but there was nothing I could do. Thirty-eight people... and every single one of them was killed. Killed, with their eyes gouged out... but I couldn't do anything.’’

A pained expression.

Staring at Tiir, Ryner

’’... Is that why you hate humans?’’

But Tiir shook his head at that.

’’No, I've hated humans since I was born. As they're able to receive orders directly from God's voice, Iino Doue and Will Heim bearers know the truth of the world from the beginning.

We can never live in harmony with humans.

But the other bearers of God's Eyes are different. Like your Alpha Stigma, and the Torch Curse and Ebra Crypt... each and every of the God's Eyes bearers who don't hear God's voice live while being scorned and persecuted...

They like humans.

You as well, correct? Ryner. You still like humans. Am I wrong?’’

At that,

’’Yeah,’’

He nodded frankly.

Tiir smiled.

’’... Thank you for giving me an honest answer.’’

’’Hmm? Not gonna correct me?’’

’’There's no need to.’’

’’Why not?’’

’’Because you'll change that naive way of thinking soon enough.’’

’’You think so?’’

Ryner said, at which a smile arose in Tiir's face, and,

’’... Children were killed before me with their eyes gouged out. Back then, the humans cheered... They called out, saying they'd exterminated the monsters. Saying that they'd successfully collected seventy-six Cursed Eyes... they laughed.’’

Like that, he looked away from Ryner and began stroking the children's heads once more.

And,

’’... I don't want these children to have to hear that ugly laughter anymore. They've suffered enough up until now.

Monster, demon, abomination...

After constantly called these things again and again, there were children who wouldn't even raise their faces or speak when I found them.

And everyone said the same thing.

I'm a monster, but I don't want to hurt those important to me.

I'm a monster, but I don't want to hurt those important to me.

But...’’

Then Tiir lifted his head and looked at Ryner.

His face was strained with sorrow.

He spoke with a bitter voice.

’’... Just who are the monsters here?’’

Ryner didn't answer.

There was no reason to.

Because all of it hit close to home.

’’......’’

Called a monster.

Called an abomination.

Scorned as taboo, despised...

But he hated that.

I don't want to be called a monster anymore.

I don't want to kill anyone anymore.

I don't want to be hurt anymore.

I don't want to hurt anyone anymore.

So I can't

So I can't be with anyone...

’’......’’

And he averted his eyes away from the world.

He wore an expression like he didn't care about anything at all.

He became apathetic towards everything.

He put a wall around himself.

Because he didn't want to be hurt, he didn't make contact with others.

Because he didn't want to be hurt, he brushed away hands that reached out to him.

And he ran.

He ran.

He ran.

If he continued to run, he truly would come to feel nothing.

He'd become closed off to everyone.

No matter what happened in the world, he wouldn't care.

Instead, he only slept each day.

Instead, he only spent his time idly, meaninglessly.

’’......’’

Ryner watched Tiir, who was playing with the children.

Without looking at Ryner, he spoke.

’’... I want to protect these children. I want to create a world where these children can smile... so I'm truly glad to have a capable friend like you.’’

And as Tiir smiled,

’’Welcome, Ryner Lu...’’

He began, but his worlds only made it that far.

A boy

’’Capable? Friend? Ah, this guy's a friend!?’’

Another boy said,

’’What, what? Which eyes? The same as our Alpha Sti...’’

Furthermore, a girl said,

’’That doesn't matter! More importantly, what's your strong point? Your specialty?’’

They rapidly fired questions.

While being overpowered by their energy, Ryner

’’Ha? Eh? Specialty? Um... what are you talking about?’’

The girl made a can't you guess? frown, and,

’’Geez, tag, hide-and-seek, and things like that!’’

’’Ah, right, that kind of specialty...’’

’’By the way, you know, Tiir-niichan's specialty is playing house!’’

’’A-Are you serious!?’’

Ryner said, and with a sincerely shocked expression, he looked at Tiir, who merely smiled.

However, the children didn't stop.

’’So, what's yours? Please hurry up and answer.’’

At those words.

After pondering this for a while, Ryner spoke.

’’... A-Afternoon naps?’’

Regarding that, the children all glanced at each other.

’’This guy's useleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeess!’’

’’No, even if you all say that together...’’

But then, from behind the children,

’’... Afternoon naps are nice, Ryner-san. I like them too.’’

Suddenly, a voice spoke.

Ryner looked that way.

Over there, there was, unsurprisingly, with black hair and black eyes, a boy... no, an adolescent? A bit younger than Ryner, he seemed to be around fifteen or sixteen.

At that, Tiir said,

’’Lafra? Just as you said, Ryner was in an Estabul inn.’’

Regarding that.

’’Estabul inn?’’

Ryner frowned.

An Estabul inn.

That was where Ryner first met Tiir.

Tiir killed the inn's landlady... and then Ryner had gone with him, betraying Sion and Ferris.

But,

’’ 'Just as you said'... what does that mean? How did you know that I'd be in Estabul? Is that the ability of your eyes?’’

In response to the question, Lafra smiled, before closing his eyes. And upon opening them again, within his black eyes, two vermillion dots appeared.

Vermillion-coloured dots lined up.

Just like the Alpha Stigma and Iino Doue, it was a vermillion pattern.

Ryner looked at that, and,

’’... That's definitely not the Alpha Stigma.’’

’’Yes. It's different. My eyes are the Ebra Crypt. They replace a person's dream.’’

’’Replace a person's dream...? So, what does that mean? You can see other people's dreams?’’

’’Yes.’’

Lafra nodded.

But Ryner tilted his head further at that.

’’... When you say dreams, you mean those dreams? Those you see when you're asleep...’’

’’Those dreams.’’

’’Only those?’’

’’Only those.’’

’’Hmm... but that... what can that do?’’

Lafra looked up at the sky, appearing to be recalling something.

And

’’ 'What manner of unfulfillable dreams... has such a hideous monster seen?'’’

’’... Wha ’’

Immediately, Ryner's expression changed.

Those words.

Those were the words Lucile told Ryner...

’’Y-You... why do you know about that!?’’

Lafra, with an apologetic expression,

’’... I'm sorry. Ryner-san, your dreams... just a little...’’

’’You peered into them!?’’

At Ryner, who instinctively shouted, Lafra made a flustered face.

’’... Y-Yes... to put it accurately, my dreams were replaced with your own, Ryner-san... b-but please don't worry. Because of the distance, I couldn't understand most of those dreams'content. So I only saw fragments of your dreams, Ryner-san.’’

Though he said that...

’’......’’

Just by looking at his expression, Ryner was already fed up.

His expression.

A seemingly-weak face that was easily hurt.

It was just like looking at his own face from once ago.

Only by looking at that, he knew how he'd been treated up until now.

The power to peer into people's dreams.

The power to peer into the wishes inside a person's heart.

The power to peer into what people didn't want others to see.

There was no way he'd be accepted with that.

Creepy.

Don't come near.

Don't come near, monster.

He was

No, they continued to say that...

’’... I'm beat,’’

Ryner muttered without thinking.

Lowering his gaze, he looked at the children.

It seemed that the children who, during the time when Ryner and Lafra were talking, were completely absorbed in playing around Tiir and calling out, possessed the Alpha Stigma like Ryner...

Everyone here was a Cursed Eye bearer.

And their expressions were at ease.

Lafra's expression was at ease.

And perhaps his own expression was at ease.

’’......’’

Honestly, everyone here was friends.

Even if they had different eye types, everyone felt like they were the same.

Because they liked humans, they got close, but because they liked humans, they moved away.

Then, Lafra

’’... Just as I thought, you're a kind person, Ryner-san.’’

’’Huh? Why do you say that?’’

Ryner grimaced.

But Lafra smiled, and,

’’I peered into your dreams, and despite your ill thoughts, immediately after being angry, you made a sympathetic expression. As I thought, you're kind...’’

’’I'm not kind, geez.’’

’’That's not true.’’

’’So why are you saying...’’

He began, but Lafra interrupted.

’’... Perhaps you haven't realized yet... but we Ebra Crypt bearers are searching for the God's Eyes bearers scattered around the world,’’

He suddenly began talking about that.

Though Ryner had no idea what made him so kind...

The topic changed slightly.

People shouldn't be able to tell others they're kind face-to-face like that.

It's embarrassing!

At that.

’’......’’

If he truly were kind, then before he could hurt another person, he'd have killed himself.

He was a monster who killed those important to him but wasn't able to die.

With that, what...

Ryner cut his thoughts off halfway.

Looking at Lafra,

’’In other words, you've been searching for us Cursed Eye bearers by peering into our dreams? But shouldn't it be simple to locate us, then?’’

Lafra smiled wryly.

’’No, it isn't. That's why dozens of Ebra Crypt bearers, day after day, have been steadily peering into others'dreams. And if information regarding the God's Eyes bearers arose, together we all look into the dreams of the surrounding areas... and then repeat that. On top of that, if the distance really is great, the information we get from peering into dreams comes in fragments, so it's difficult.’’

’’I see.’’

Ryner nodded.

That was to say, during the dreams Ryner had when he was asleep, Lafra had gotten a hold of information somewhere along the lines of Ryner is at an Estabul inn...

No, that wasn't it.

Before Ryner went to Estabul, by peering into his dreams, he'd likely learned something like First he'll leave Roland, and then go to that Estabul inn.

With that, Tiir had headed over to where Ryner was.

But if that was the case...

’’......’’

Then a question arose in Ryner's mind.

According to Lafra, he and the others were peering into others'dreams, and from those dreams, if information about God's Eyes bearers showed itself, they would then look into the surrounding people's dreams.

However, if that were the case...

Why hadn't they noticed Arua?

If they discovered Ryner, wasn't it strange that they hadn't discovered Arua at the same time?

Or was the truth that they couldn't get much out of the dreams, as they were in fragments, and were only able to discover Ryner by chance, and that Arua hadn't come up in the dreams of the people surrounding Ryner... something like that?

Well, he didn't think that that was impossible.

First of all, even if it were a dream, though many of a person's wishes and illusions would appear... he didn't think they'd gain too much accurate information, but...

’’You... just how much of my dreams did you see?’’

Lafra smiled, and,

’’You're a kind person, after all, Ryner-san.’’

’’Still going on about that? You're not making any sense.’’

’’No, I intend to explain in order. You really are kind...’’

’’Like I said, stop calling me kind! It's embarrassing to hear!’’

Lafra laughed at that.

Furthermore, Tiir, who heard that, laughed as well.

’’Lafra, you shouldn't tease Ryner so much.’’

’’But I'm moved by Ryner-san's kindness. I really wanted to express that... Ah, then I'll speak in a quiet voice so that no one can hear, and then Ryner-san doesn't have to be embarra...’’

’’It's embarrassing! What's with you? You're really irritating.’’

Ryner began, but as Lafra smiled innocently, he approached him.

It seemed he earnestly intended to express his thoughts on Ryner's kindness.

Tiir laughed.

’’I'm glad to see that you're getting along so quickly. Then, we'll be heading inside. I can't neglect making dinner, can I? Ryner can stay here for a while and deepen his friendship with Lafra...’’

’’No way in hell!’’

With a cheerful expression,

’’Now, now, Ryner-san. Don't say that,’’

Lafra said, having gotten a hold of Ryner's sleeve at some point...

’’Y-You, don't get so friendly...’’

He began, but unsurprisingly, Lafra spoke with a cheerful face.

’’... Then, let's go to a place where no one else is so that, regarding Ryner's kindness, I can...’’

’’I told you to stop that!’’

As Ryner shouted, Lafra laughed.

Then looking behind them, he confirmed that Tiir had gone into the cabin...

’’So, shall I begin?’’

’’I just said, don't...’’

However, before Ryner could finish, Lafra spoke.

’’... The reason I didn't call Arua here...’’

At that,

’’Y-You...’’

Ryner stared at the adolescent before him.

He knew about Arua.

From Ryner's dreams, he knew about Arua's existence.

But he hadn't gotten Arua to come here.

’’......’’

No...

Then, Ryner looked towards the cabin.

Behind the cabin's closed doors, he couldn't hear much of even the noisy children's voices.

And Lafra's words from earlier.

’’No, I intend to explain in order.’’

Explain in order.

What was the meaning of that?

Ryner again looked at Lafra.

’’... So, what is it? That you wanted to talk about without Tiir knowing?’’

Again, Lafra made a smiling face.

’’Then from here, shall I talk about how much of a fan I am of your kindness, Ryner-san?’’

At those words, Ryner pressed a hand against his forehead, as if feeling a headache coming on.

’’... Ah, damn it. I don't want to do this, but you're gonna explain properly, right?’’

’’Fufu, I will, yes.’’

Lafra laughed cheerfully.

Ryner let out a sigh at that.

’’Then, just summarize the praise about me.’’

’’Ehh!? That's the main part, you know?’’

’’Then omit it and make the side story the main part.’’

’’Su~re,’’

Lafra said, crossing his arms and looking troubled. After being quiet, deep in thought, for a while,

’’... The truth is, I found you quite a while ago... but despite that, I didn't tell our friends that.’’

’’... Hoh? And why is that?’’

’’Because you were special. It was the first time I'd seen someone like you. Though I don't want to brag, compared to the Ebra Crypt bearers, my abilities are superior... I've found many God's Eyes bearers. Of course, they were all Alpha Stigmabearers as you are... but you were completely different from the other God's Eyes bearers. I was fascinated.’’

’’... Different? How so?’’

Lafra grinned.

’’You're incredibly kind.’’

Ryner immediately grimaced at those words.

’’No, that's enough with that.’’

But with a serious expression, Lafra

’’No, it needs to be said. You're kind... though you may hate being told that, Ryner-san... I've been watching your dreams this entire time. Of course, since you were far away, I couldn't understand most of them. Only fragments of information came through. However... nevertheless, your feelings made it through. Negative emotions so strong that they made me, an onlooker, want to cry and sob.

Anger, sorrow, hatred, despair...

Treated like dirt, feared, growing more and more, ever so lonely.

Being afraid of hurting others.

Being afraid of getting hurt.

Wishing you were dead, wishing you could go mad, being tormented by such feelings.’’

’’... So what about that makes me kind?’’

But Lafra smiled. Looking at Ryner, he smiled. A simple, cheerful smile.

’’And yet, what ultimately dominated your heart was... the cry that you loved people.’’

’’......’’

’’You always ultimately desire to protect those dear to you. You're sick of being alone. You love people. You love everyone. You may be a monster, but still... you want more, more and more, to mingle with people...’’

’’... I wouldn't say that I'm that soft-hearted,’’

Ryner said bitingly.

But Lafra again just smiled at that.

’’No. You're soft-hearted. You're so kind that it's sad.’’

’’... That's enough, you know...’’

’’So weak, so lonely, as you continue to cry. I hate being alone. I hate being alone. I'm lonely. Someone save me. Someone save...’’

’’I told you that that's enough, didn't I!?’’

Then finally, Lafra stopped.

However, his pleasant, cheerful expression remained.

Looking at Lafra's smiling face,

’’......’’

Ryner again couldn't say anything.

He was utterly like a reflection of Ryner, always smiling and smiling.

However, Ryner wanted to turn his eyes away from that smiling face. Because, as to be expected, Ryner understood it.

The truth was that he was miserable. The truth was that he wanted to cry. But he smiled. Nothing mattered anymore, and so he merely smiled instead...

Regarding that,

’’... You... hey. Don't say that stuff with a face like you're gonna cry...’’

Ryner said in an exasperated voice, to which Lafra again laughed,

’’Ahaha,’’

His voice was sad.

Even though his face was smiling, he now spoke in a sad voice as if he were about to cry.

Despite that, he looked at Ryner, and,

’’... You really are a lonely person.’’

He said such a thing.

Ryner frowned. Staring at Lafra's sad smile,

’’Who is? The ones that hates being lonely? That wants to protect those dear to him? That loves people? Isn't everything you just said really about you?’’

Lafra easily nodded.

’’You... and I are like that. That's why I called you here. Because I wanted salvation.’’

’’For whom?’’

Ryner asked, to which Lafra again looked towards the cabin, and,

’’For Tiir,’’

He said.

In response, Ryner also looked towards the cabin.

Then, as the door opened, a girl who hadn't come out before and looked to be one or two years younger than Lafra,

’’Lafra-niichan, Tiir's made dinner!’’

Told him in a loud voice.

At that, while waving a hand with a smiling face,

’’... And I want salvation for her. For the children here. For our friends gathered in the central continent. And for you as well, Ryner-san...’’

And within his eyes, his curse appeared.

A vermillion curse.

Scorned by all as taboo, despised, and feared. Eyes in which a vermillion pattern arose.

Lafra gazed at Ryner with those cursed eyes, and,

’’For the sad bearers of God's Eyes, who have lost faith in humans... I want you to save them all,’’

He said with a sad smile that never faltered.

It was incredibly quiet there.

Perhaps because they were so far away from human civilization.

All that could be heard was the sound of the wind.

The sound of the wind brushing through the weeds.

And the children's sleeping breathing.

’’......’’

It was the dead of night, with everyone having fallen asleep.

Tiir, Lafra, and the children were all sleeping. So that he wouldn't wake them up, Ryner quietly, quietly got up.

And he exited the cabin.

In the area outside the cabin, without any man-made source of light whatsoever, there was darkness.

But that wasn't to say that it was pure darkness.

There weren't many clouds in the sky.

The moon also shone through.

Rather, it was bright out.

Looking up at the sky where the moon and stars shone, Ryner spoke.

’’... Is the reason I can't fall asleep because of the bed quality...?’’

But that shouldn't be it.

If it were the same as usual, then as soon as he got into bed and closed his eyes, he should fly into the land of dreams.

Despite that, today...

Even if he closed his eyes, he couldn't fall asleep at all.

Immediately after he closed his eyes, Lafra's words would again and again...

’’For the sad bearers of God's Eyes, who have lost faith in humans... I want you to save them all.’’

Again and again, he remembered them.

Ryner frowned.

Then he turned around.

The snug wooden building.

Inside were four Alpha Stigma bearers.

Boys, girls people who shared the same loneliness as Ryner.

Like a large family of eleven people, they'd gathered around the dining table and eaten the dinner that Tiir prepared.

His cooking was rather delicious... while eating it, everyone smiled.

Everyone welcomed Ryner with smiling faces.

Laughing while joking around, the children smiled playfully.

There... it looked as if there were no troubles.

There were no problems.

If it was a place where he belonged, then it was fine, wasn't it?

He thought that.

In spite of that...

’’For the sad bearers of God's Eyes, who have lost faith in humans... I want you to save them all.’’

Again, he recalled Lafra's words.

Ryner wanted to clutch his head at that.

’’... Me, save the Cursed Eye bearers?’’

He'd never thought about such a thing.

No, as a monster who could only hurt others and whatnot, he'd never even thought about being saved.

He hated hurting people.

Despite thinking that, because of that, there was no worth in being saved when he held these cursed eyes...

’’......’’

Ryner recalled the children, who continued to be noisy throughout dinner.

Lafra made a joke, and the girl who'd informed them of dinner only looked at him...

A boy spoke.

’’Ah, Pueka-neechan's only looking at Lafra-niichan again...’’

’’Wha d-don't look at me!’’

’’Gyaa ! Pueka-neechan hit Lafra-niichaaan!’’

That kind of ordinary scene.

A happy sort of scene.

But all of those children possessed cursed eyes...

’’... I can't say that as a cursed monster, there's no worth in being saved and things like that, huh...’’

If he said that, then that would mean the children wouldn't be saved.

’’......’’

But he wanted to save them.

Those noisy, troublesome brats...

Ryner felt that he wanted to save them.

And upon realizing the feelings he had,

’’Uwa, give me a break... with this, I really am the soft-hearted idiot that Lafra was talking about...’’

He looked towards the cabin.

Towards the cabin where the children were sleeping.

And,

’’... Seriously, things have become pretty troublesome...’’

Ryner let out a weary sigh.

Even though things had been so simple in the beginning.

He was nothing but an Alpha Stigma monster.

Why do I have to think of myself as only that? He'd thought.

Without these eyes.

Without these cursed eyes, I

Why do I have to think of myself as only that?

That's...

’’......’’

Then.

Ryner stopped thinking.

The sound of the wind.

The sound of the grass.

He felt that something else was mixed in with that sound...

Looking over at the bushes,

’’... Who is it?’’

From within the bushes,

’’Ah, even though I erased the signs of my presence, I was discovered so easily... as expected from one who was once called a genius of Roland, hmm?’’

That voice.

It was one Ryner had heard before.

’’You're Milk's subordinate...’’

From within the weeds, a single man appeared.

Unsurprisingly, he had a calm face that Ryner recognized. A tall, narrow body that was taller than Ryner's.

Though he looked to be around twenty-four or twenty-five years old, he had pure white hair as if all the pigmentation had fallen out.

And he wore Roland's army uniform.

The man smiled.

’’Luke. Luke Stokkart. A member of the Taboo Breaker Pursuit Squad. Though I am Captain Milk's subordinate...’’

A smile arose in Ryner's face at that, as he interrupted.

’’You're under the direct control of Sion, from whom you received the orders to kill the Alpha Stigma monster, Ryner Lute?’’

Luke spoke with a remorseful expression.

’’... Ah, so you know that much...?’’

Without thinking, Ryner's expression changed, as he tried to deal with it.

Because he understood what Luke's response just now meant.

As he thought, it was true.

The letter that had been delivered to Ryner's inn.

This was what had been written there...

First.

Search and collect any Heroes'Relics that the Alpha Stigma bearer, Ryner Lute, overlooks.

Two.

Observe the Alpha Stigma bearer, Ryner Lute.

Three.

Should the Alpha Stigma bearer, Ryner Lute, go berserk outside of Roland or show any traitorous behaviour

Erase him...

It was true that Sion had given Luke those orders.

Rather than being some kind of scheming trick from someone within Sion's circle, it was the truth.

Luke spoke.

’’... Does it hurt?’’

But Ryner shrugged, and,

’’Not really. It's only natural. Sion isn't in the wrong here, you know?’’

Luke smiled sadly.

’’... Yes. That he isn't in the wrong... if you understand that, then please die.’’

’’And if I say that I don't want to?’’

’’That would be troubling... I'd be a bit chagrinned by that.’’

And he turned his eyes past Ryner and towards the cabin.

’’... God's Eyes... was it? There are quite a few of them here. That so many are gathered in one place, the circumstances here...’’

He began, but then stopped.

’’... Ah, well, that's how things are now.’’

In response, Ryner glared at Luke.

What Luke said just now.

God's Eyes.

If it were God's Eyes...?

Just what...

’’... Bastard, since when have you been spying on things here?’’

Luke easily said,

’’... From quite a while ago. I believe it was already about thirty hours after you crossed Roland's national border and entered Nelpha that I caught up and began following you...’’

’’......’’

Regarding that, Ryner's entire body tensed.

Right now, it'd been five days and nights since he crossed the border with Tiir.

If that was the case, then that meant Luke had been observing Ryner and co. for over three days.

However, Ryner hadn't sensed his presence at all.

Even though Luke had been observing and shadowing them for over three days, he hadn't been noticed whatsoever.

The significance of that...

Ryner stared at Luke intently.

’’... You bastard, you've been hiding your real power all this time, haven't you?’’

But Luke only shrugged at that.

’’... Ah, geez, this suuucks.’’

Ryner said, clicking his tongue, before he began to lower his stance.

Gathering all of his power, he prepared to fight...

However, Luke, unsurprisingly, didn't seem particularly on guard, and,

’’Regardless of what you do, you can't win against me.’’

’’... Heh. Unlike usual, you seem pretty confident, huh? Are you saying you're stronger than me in some way?’’

But at that,

’’Far from it. I'm weaker in every way. Should you know as well, Ryner-san? Against the famed genius mage of Roland... I'm no match. In neither magic nor physical combat am I an opponent at all,’’

Luke easily said such things.

Ryner laughed scornfully at that.

’’... Ha. Isn't that also one way of fighting? To make me lower my guard...’’

’’That won't be necessary. Even if I didn't do such a thing, this will be my victory.’’

’’... That's not possible for you.’’

Luke smiled at him as if he were a complete idiot, and,

’’... Ah, the young. Though the outcome of this match has already been decided... well, that's enough. Then, shall we do this?’’

At that.

Ryner saw, in the clumps of bushes in front of Luke.

There, skillfully camoflauged, magic circles had been set up from some point ago.

Magic traps.

Furthermore, of a considerably high level.

If it were a normal fight, Ryner would've been able to notice...

But Luke had said too much.

’’The outcome of this match has already been decided...’’

In other words, he'd already set everything up for his fight with Ryner.

And just as expected, it was magic traps.

A smile broke out across Ryner's face, and,

’’You'll regret your overconfidence there,’’

He began running.

And in one leap, he jumped over the magic traps before Luke...

Immediately.

’’Eh, uwa, you've already seen through it... damn it.’’

Luke frowned. He retreated back a step as if to escape.

However, Ryner didn't stop. As Luke fell back at twice the speed...

Then.

’’... So it's like this. Hey, kill him...’’

Saying that, Luke smiled.

In that moment, someone caught Ryner's leg.

’’Wha!? Don't tell me you've got allies...!?’’

He instinctively exclaimed, before looking in that direction.

But with that, it was over.

On the ground, there was nothing but a rather classic trap. One step ahead of the traps that Ryner had seen through.

There, what had caught a hold of Ryner's leg, tied from weed to weed, was a simply crafted trap...

Ryner had been tripped up at that.

And because of Luke's words, he'd misunderstood and thought there was a new enemy.

The result was

’’Checkmate.’’

Luke swung the knife he held towards Ryner's neck...

’’... Ku ’’

His voice wouldn't come out.

He was too skilled.

Overconfidence? You'll regret your overconfidence there?

The idiot here is me.

All of his movements and all of his words, to the very end, had been in preparation for slicing at Ryner's neck.

To the very end, Luke's overconfident talkativeness and even Ryner seeing through his magic traps had been leading to this trap.

My chances of winning...

But then, as if seeing entirely through Ryner's thoughts, Luke spoke.

’’ 'My chances of winning are none... is that what you're thinking? After being caught in such a simple trap tied between the weeds, the difference in true power is too great... is that what you think? However, that's a mistake. Truth be told, you're strong. Even if it seems that I may be overwhelmingly strong... I'm only playing a part. So come now, if you truly are someone of power, then you should easily be able to steal the knife away from me and kill me, should you not?’’

He said such things.

’’......’’

With those manner of words, he couldn't bring himself to move.

Perhaps it was true, and he might be able to easily steal the knife.

No, judging from Luke's movements up until now, just by looking at his behaviour, his ability didn't look to be very high. If he wanted to steal the knife, then maybe he could.

But that was something Luke had easily admitted to...

He couldn't move.

Just what was the truth and what were lies...

But even that was a trap.

’’... Then, let's end this.’’

Luke firmly swung the knife down.

But he couldn't move at all. Misled by Luke's words, his judgment was too slow. His body's tension had loosened.

As if aiming at that gap in his tension, the knife swung.

’’... Gah ’’

Ryner twisted his body.

To avoid the knife, Ryner frantically twisted his body.

But there wasn't any time.

Death.

Death drew near.

Already, there was nothing that could be done...

’’......’’

And just before death, Ryner saw it.

As if cutting through the darkness, the angel that appeared.

Long, shining golden hair.

Almond-shaped blue eyes.

Abnormal beauty.

Pretty, he thought.

Up until now, Ryner didn't even think he'd see such beauty in his life.

No, anyone who saw it would think that.

But the angel didn't smile.

With a completely blank face, it swung its sword, and at that sword

’’Ha? Hey... Why is that coming my way gyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!?’’

He felt that when it hit, it was a missed sensation, and without knowing what was what, he was crushed onto the ground.

In too much pain to immediately stand up,

’’... A-Are you trying to kill me, Ferris!?’’

He shouted.

Ferris pressed a foot onto that Ryner, and,

’’Hmm? Ah, you're here?’’

’’... U-Uwah. Somehow, I missed you saying stuff like that... I remember being trampled by you... Gua!?’’

At that point, Ferris stepped on Ryner's head.

And,

’’Hmm? Ah, you're here?’’

’’I'll seriously kill you... gukya!?’’

’’Hmm? Ah, you're here?’’

’’W-What the hell are you... guoaguwa!?’’

’’Hmm? Ah, you're here?’’

’’N-No, just hold on... bowaguhaaguhaa!?’’

’’Hmm? Ah, you're here?’’

At that, Ryner was already speaking with a half-crying face.

’’S-Sorry. Y-You're angry, huh? You're definitely angry? Um, I'll apologize for everything, so please hold on for a bit. I-I'll treat you to dango. Hey? Okay? D-Don't kill me... gukyaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’’

He was going to die now.

That was what Ryner thought.

Ferris finally seemed slightly satisfied, and,

’’... So, just what exactly is going on? Why is that man trying to kill you?’’

In response, Luke stared at Ferris.

’’... You've finally caught up, Ferris-san. Have you been following behind me this entire time?’’

’’... Wha... bastard, my tail...’’

Then.

’’Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!?’’

Now, a scream arose, but from a different place.

At that, Ryner and Ferris

’’Hmm?’’

’’Hmm?’’

Simultaneously, they turned towards the source.

It was the cabin.

If he recalled correctly, it was the voice of the girl who liked Lafra, Pueka.

While standing up, Ryner said,

’’Sleep-talking... Isn't that a little too loud?’’

Ferris stared at him with an incredulous expression, appearing to shake in fear.

’’D-Don't tell me you had the girl leave the cabin and go to a distance place so that you could attack...’’

Continuing, Luke said,

’’Ah, that's new. It can't be that a new spell was developed...’’

’’Are you two morons !? Doing that...’’

He said, but as he was saying that, the cabin door opened. And the children fled in this direction.

Everyone was crying.

The boy who was being noisy earlier and three girls they were all crying.

And futhermore, behind them, Pueka and Lafra exited.

Regarding that, Ryner said,

’’H-Hey, Lafra, what the hell...’’

’’R-Ryner-san... please run away! Y-You'll be killed!?’’

’’Killed? B-By just who...’’

However, Ryner's words stopped there.

Upon seeing the monster who was chasing Lafra and the others rush out of the cabin, he lost his voice.

He saw shapes made completely of light... no, lightning.

The shapes of lightning took the form of beasts who attacked Pueka from behind...

’’Damn it!’’

Ryner groaned, as he began to run.

But there wasn't enough time.

Fast.

It happened too fast.

The beasts of lightning opened their mouths...

’’Move iiiiiiiiiiiiit!’’

However, at that.

From the side, Lafra pushed Pueka out of the way.

The beasts of lightning then changed their paths to Lafra.

There was time!

Just after.

’’Lafra, run this way!’’

But Lafra looked at him...

For some reason, he smiled.

That sad smile.

As if he'd given up on everything, as if he'd reached the point of despair. It really was the same smile Ryner once had.

And he spoke.

’’... Your promise, Ry...’’

’’Forget about that, just hurry up and take my hand...’’

But he didn't move. Instead, he gazed at Ryner, and,

’’... I'm glad to have met you. You'll definitely keep your promise...’’

His words only made it that far.

The beasts of lightning that had changed their route reached Lafra several times faster than Ryner did.

Their fangs devoured his upper body. And as if Lafra's body were some kind of toy, they tossed it to the ground.

Ryner's outstretched hand... the hand that held onto nothing cut through empty air.

He looked at the ground.

Lafra was

Lafra was... looking in Ryner's direction. Again, that sad, smiling face.

His face was smiling sadly, but he was no longer moving.

’’... Ah...’’

In that instant, Ryner didn't understand what was happening.

Everything before him became pitch black.

Instead, only a scream resounded.

The children's screams.

Screams, screams, screams, screams, screams, screams, screams!

And seared into his face, Lafra's smile.

’’For the sad bearers of God's Eyes, who have lost faith in humans... I want you to save them all.’’

His utterly cursed smile that was seared into his face went around in Ryner's mind.

’’You're a kind person, after all.’’

’’... Tha... that can't...’’

I don't understand.

I don't understand!

Why did things turn out this way!?

What the hell is happening...

Then.

Before Ryner's eyes.

Pueka, who'd fallen to the ground after being pushed by Lafra, turned this way.

And she looked at Lafra.

At the beasts'feet.

She looked at the bloodstained, utterly motionless Lafra.

’’... N-No...’’

Her eyes opened wide.

’’No... n-no, no, no, no, no, n... o... o ’’

Black eyes.

In their centers, a curse began to glow.

That cursed pattern.

’’Ahh, ahhhhhh...’’

A cursed vermillion five-star pentacle arose.

Powerful.

Powerful.

Powerful.

The Alpha Stigma went out of control.

’’S-Stop! Wait! I beg of you. Wait!’’

But she didn't stop.

’’Ahhh, ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!?’’

She began to laugh madly.

’’... Damn it!’’

Ryner started to run.

There was still time.

If she was still at this age, if her consciousness hadn't yet been severed, there was still time.

She could still be saved.

In that moment.

For some reason, a voice echoed.

It was Lucile's voice.

’’What manner of unfulfillable dreams... has such a hideous monster seen?’’

Shut up.

’’You should know this already. The blood-stained hands of a monster like you can't grasp anything...’’

Shut up!

Ryner held his hand out towards Pueka.

There was still time.

There should still be time.

I'll save her.

Even if it's my hand, if...

Even if it was the hand of a bloodstained monster, if a life could be saved with it...

Ryner frantically held out his hand.

But that hand was

’’Whoops, I've gone through a lot of trouble for this crystallization, so could you not be a hindrance?’’

Before him, a single man appeared.

A sharp, trained body. And a smile brimming with self-confidence. And more characteristically than that, unusual peach-coloured hair.

He brushed away Ryner's hand with his right hand.

And in his left hand, he held a strange, inorganic green sphere towards Pueka.

’’Gouge out the crystals, Spunquel.’’

In that instant.

The green sphere appeared to burst open.

The berserk Pueka's voice suddenly stopped.

Like that, she collapsed onto the ground.

’’......’’

Ryner looked at her.

However, she was no longer moving.

’’... That can't be.’’

Instead, she merely laid on the ground.

Like Lafra.

On the ground...

She was dead...

’’......’’

The world shook.

Rattling, the world shook.

But he immediately noticed that it was him who was shaking.

In anger, in sorrow, in hatred, in pain, his body shook.

Why?

Why is it always like this?

’’......’’

Why can't I ever save anyone?

He looked at his outstretched hand.

Unsurprisingly, that hand was shaking.

’’You should know this already. The blood-stained hands of a monster like you can't grasp anything...’’

They won't reach anything.

Who can I save like this?

What can the hands of a monster save?

These hands can only do one thing.

With people...

’’... Kill them.’’

They can only hurt people.

’’... I'll kill every single one of you.’’

The man before him laughed, and,

’’Haha, what's that? As if the likes of a Cursed Eye monster could kill me...’’

But Ryner interrupted him with,

’’Gastaaaaaaaaark !’’

His hand danced in the sky.

At a speed that eyes couldn't follow, he prepared a magic circle of light.

The man was surprised at that.

’’Whoops, you're pretty fast. But...’’

He shook his finger. On his finger was a golden ring.

But Ryner had seen something like that before.

It seemed to be the same type of Heroes'Relic that that Froaude guy used.

While Froaude manipulated beasts of shadow, this guy used beasts of lightning. The ring was manipulating the beasts of lightning that killed Lafra in the beginning.

If the ring had the same ability as the beasts that Froaude used, then he couldn't win.

The beasts'movements were too fast and sharp for Ryner to follow.

If he took him on alone, he couldn't win at all.

But that wasn't the case here.

The man spoke.

’’Come out, beasts...’’

But Ryner completed his magic circle, and,

’’WHAT I SEEK IS...’’

’’Too slow. If I don't cancel out the magic or dodge, I'll die?

Appear!’’

Immediately.

Before Ryner, light formed.

Beasts of lightning appeared.

But Ryner didn't dodge.

Nothing mattered.

Nothing mattered anymore.

As a cursed monster who couldn't save anyone or anything, whether he lived or died didn't matter.

But this guy...

’’... THUNDER >>>...’’

I'll kill him !

’’IZU...’’

However, all of a sudden, as if protecting Ryner from the beasts of lightning, Ferris interrupted and moved in front of him.

’’H-Haa!? Why would you... shit... I can't stop the spell...’’

But then Luke hurriedly grabbed Ryner's head from behind and pulled him to the ground.

’’... Uo!?’’

With that, the magic was stopped.

The beasts of lightning attacked Ferris;however, Ferris swung her sword.

At her, Ryner

’’... A-Are you an idiot!? Running right into the middle of magic...’’

’’You're the idiot !’’

Ferris shouted.

Like that, she turned around.

There, her face was expressionless as usual.

However, that expressionless face

Faintly, truly faintly,

’’... If... If you want to die alone that badly, then go ahead and die.’’

It distorted in sadness, as if she were about to cry.

Ryner was speechless at that.

Turning that face away from Ryner, she continued.

’’... If you're going to be a monster and not my friend... then just go off and disappear. If you won't consider yourself my partner, my manservant, or my tea-drinking companion, then just go off... and do what you want.’’

She then pointed her sword at the Gastark man.

And,

’’... But Ryner, I won't think of you that way. No matter how much you see yourself as a monster... I won't think of you that way. On your own... when you're by yourself... No matter how much you deny how lonely you are when you're by yourself...

I won't think of you that way.’’

She said that.

Before her, the Gastark man laughed.

’’Wooow, that was pretty grand... If this were a fairy tale, the monster would become human at the very end, and they would all live happily ever after... but as much as I hate to disappoint you, the fact that he's a monster won't change...’’

And the man looked at Ryner, speaking.

’’He's a monster who harms the world just by being alive.’’

A monster who harms the world...

’’......’’

Those were words he was familiar with.

Those things were always being said.

You're a monster.

A monster who can only hurt others.

A monster who can only kill others.

You can't reach anywhere with those bloodstained hands.

You can't save anyone...

Don't try to deny it. If you're a monster who hurts others just by being alive, then go ahead and die already.

Always.

He'd always thought that.

Despite that.

Despite the fact that Ryner had already confirmed that.

Ferris glared at the man ahead, and,

’’... So what? So what if he's a monster? I don't care whether he's a monster or not.’’

The man laughed.

’’Oh, you say some pretty amusing things... No, even if you don't care... he's a dangerous monster who...’’

However, Ferris interrupted.

’’You think I care?’’

She easily said.

She said it so easily.

At that, Ryner truly felt like punching himself.

Word after word, she said.

So what if he's a monster?

I don't care whether or not he's a monster.

And at the end, saying ’’You think I care?’’...

She threw that out so easily.

Without even thinking at all.

Such a fool

As such a huge fool, Ryner

’’... I-Is...’’

For some reason, tears spilled...

’’... Is it... okay... for me to live?’’

His voice trembled.

At that, he thought excuse me.

Showing tears in front of Ferris, after saying that...

But the troubling things didn't stop.

As his unseemly tears continued, he felt like dying.

Ah, this is no good.

I'll die from embarrassment.

If she turns around right now...

But then, at that moment, she turned around.

She was that sort of person.

She was a malicious, violent demon.

Above that...

’’......’’

She looked his way.

She stared at the crying Ryner...

However, she smiled as if she were about to cry as well, and,

’’... Fool. If you died... you know I'd be lonely...’’

She said.

At that, Ryner again lost his words.

A scream.

Inside his heart, a scream echoed.

He didn't want to be alone anymore.

He didn't want to be lonely anymore.

Even if he was scorned, even if he was feared, he didn't want to be alone anymore.

Because I like people.

Because no matter how hurt I am, I...

’’I...’’

But.

Regarding that, the Gastark man

’’Then, I guess you're going to be lonely pretty soon. After all, he's going to die right here.’’

Saying that, he thrusted his hand into the green sphere and took out a crystal-like object.

At that, Ryner remembered.

In a previous fight, Sui and Kuu used the same thing.

It was something that caused crystallization so that they could gouge out Cursed Eye bearers'eyes. Furthermore, it was likely Pueka's Alpha Stigma.

Looking at that,

’’S-Shit,’’

Ryner exclaimed.

If that crystal were to be used, the surrounding Alpha Stigma bearers would forcibly go berserk.

Ryner looked around.

The children.

He looked at the children who possessed the Alpha Stigma and, unable to do anything, were crying.

The man spoke.

’’I'll be taking all of your Cursed Eyes.’’

Ryner called out.

’’Y-You guys, run!’’

But unsurprisingly, the children didn't move. Instead, they only cried.

Ryner wouldn't be nearly fast enough to take them and get them out of this place.

That was why he turned to Ferris.

If it were her...

Ferris was already running.

But at that.

’’Come out, beasts!’’

The man swung his ring.

One beast appeared before the children, and furthermore, two more attacked Ferris.

One of them successfully stopped the sword with its fangs, while another, with a growl, seized Ferris's body with its tail.

’’... Gah!?’’

She was sent flying. Collapsing onto the ground, she lost consciousness.

Looking at that, the man laughed.

’’Well? Didn't I say so? That a Cursed Eye monster isn't enough to kill me.’’

And he held out the crystal.

Ryner couldn't do anything about what was happening before him.

Again...

Again, I can't, not for anyone...

’’That's wrong !’’

Ryner shouted.

At himself who was giving up.

At his heart that was causing him to immediately give up.

After all, that wasn't how things should be.

That wasn't how things should be.

This kind of despair.

The world shouldn't be overwhelmed by this kind of despair.

Otherwise, Lafra had died for no reason. If no one could be saved here, then hadn't Lafra died for nothing?

But that was wrong.

That wasn't how things should be.

’’What, what can these hands...’’

Think.

You've got to think.

I can do something.

I can save someone.

I can't give up yet.

If I keep holding onto hope.

The path will show itself before me.

Who cares about God or the Cursed Eyes!?

I

At the end of this despair, a world where no one has to lose anything anymore.

Where that child and Kiefer won't cry, Tyle, Toni, and Fahl don't die, Sion can laugh, and Ferris, and Lafra, and everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone!

Then.

All of a sudden, Lafra's face arose in his mind.

Why, he didn't know.

But in this world of despair and on the brink of death, he smiled.

Inside his mind, Lafra spoke.

’’That's why I called you here. Because I wanted salvation.’’

In response, if Ryner recalled correctly, he asked,

’’For whom?’’

Then Lafra smiled sadly...

’’For Tiir.’’

Immediately.

’’......’’

Ryner looked towards the cabin.

Just at the entrance, though he shouldn't have been there earlier, Tiir had collapsed.

He was covered in blood.

His right arm and his left foot were torn apart... but it seemed that he'd managed to crawl outside.

But he only made it that far.

He wasn't moving. He didn't even twitch. He'd lost a fatal amount of blood. Without a doubt, he was going to die like that.

’’......’’

But upon seeing that, a smile broke out across Ryner's face.

Like that, his hand began to dance through the air.

Faster than others, more accurately than others, he engraved light into the air.

In that instant, he completed a complex magic circle...

At that,

’’It's pointless to struggle. But I'll end it here,’’

He held out the crystal.

The crystal that was able to forcibly cause Alpha Stigma bearers to go berserk.

And,

’’Resonate.’’

In that moment.

Ryner's hand that had been moving so quickly halted.

His vision was clouded with white. Even in his thoughts, there was nothing but white.

His eyes opening wide, pain began to burn in their centers.

’’... U, e... enough...’’

His consciousness was fading.

His consciousness was fading.

And then all the meaningless matters began.

Life.

Death.

Joy.

Sorrow.

All of those meaningless matters began...

Shut up, you.

Don't resist it. You wish for it. No matter how the world fills with despair, none of it matters to you...

I said to shut up...

None of it is important to you.

You're wrong.

You care about nothing.

You're wrong!

He heard distant voices.

The voices of the children.

’’Ah, aaah, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah !?’’

I have to save them...

You feel nothing.

Shut up.

You feel nothing.

Shut up!

No matter who dies, you feel nothing.

Damn... it...

Ha, hahaha.

Now, let it disappear.

Everything.

And you feel nothing.

S-Sto...

Let your consciousness turn to white.

Ah...

Be at ease.

Nothing matters.

The world became bright white.

White, white, with nothing in the world.

In the center, however, there was only the sensation of coldness.

Rapidly, rapidly his consciousness grew cold.

And then, the structure of everything in the world spread across his vision.

Numbers, graphs, patterns.

It was if he held his hand out and grasped everything in the world.

And he heard a voice.

Come, let us bring it to an end.

Everything. Yours to toy with. Release it. Open up. Kill. Everything.

All of what he saw through his eyes disappeared...

’’Ah... ahhhh...’’

Ryner's entire body trembled.

’’Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, this damn bastard, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh !?’’

He shouted.

There was a great pain in his head.

His body convulsed.

Nevertheless...

The world was no longer white.

He returned.

Before his eyes, the magic circle he was drawing...

Furthermore, the man had a surprised expression.

’’N-No way... you stopped the crystallization? Impossible. What the hell are you?’’

A smile arose in Ryner's face at that as he answered.

’’... A monster!’’

And again, he began drawing a magic circle.

At that,

’’No, you don't!’’

The man tried to raise his hand.

However, he couldn't lift that arm. Wrapped around his arm from some point ago were several strings of light...

The man scowled.

’’... The Latsel Thread?’’

From behind Ryner, Luke spoke.

’’Hoh. Is that its name? This is... Well, it's like that. Then, if you know its name, you should know what it can do.’’

’’It's normally meant for sewing.’’

’’Ah, that's what I thought. But still, you'll be killed by this tool meant for sewing. I'll deliver your head to Gastark.’’

Luke smiled darkly.

’’... All of you from Gastark will learn just what it means to pick a fight with Roland.’’

To that.

The Gastark assassin also smiled. Again, he held out the green sphere.

’’Idiot. Like you could kill me with such an inferior Rhule Fragmei. Spunquel, tear apart the threads.’’

At the order, the green sphere glowed. And the surrounding threads were torn apart...

But at that, Ryner smiled.

He looked entirely around some time ago.

Puzzled by Luke's words, he'd forgotten the most important thing.

The Gastark assassin had made a mistake.

Rather than focus on Luke, he should've taken down Ryner from the very beginning.

If he'd done so, it would all be over.

But that wasn't the case.

Completing the magic circle...

’’WHAT I SEEK IS THUNDER >>>IZUCHI!’’

Ryner called.

From the center of the magic circle, a light gathered and a flash of lightning was born. And immediately, he fired it at Tiir.

A voice could be heard.

A weak, hoarse voice.

’’I consume power...’’

At the same time.

The magic Ryner released vanished.

Tiir's eyes absorbed it.

In that his instant, his body pulsed.

And his arm and foot started to heal.

He sprang up.

Leaping up and landing on the roof of the house, Tiir glared at the man.

’’How dare you... h-human. I'll kill you...’’

’’Now's not the time, Tiir!’’

Ryner shouted. Tiir looked his way, and,

’’Eh? R-Ryner... what...?’’

’’The children! Stop the children! Their Alpha Stigma has gone berserk!’’

At that, as Tiir turned towards them, he made a shocked expression.

’’So, do you understand the situation!?’’

As Ryner instinctively retorted that, Tiir was already moving towards the three children who were laughing madly...

With speed that couldn't be followed, he struck them with his hand.

The children lost consciousness, collapsing onto the ground.

But they couldn't relax yet.

’’The other children in the house...’’

But at that, the man spoke.

’’I've already killed them.’’

’’Wha ’’

Ryner looked at the man.

’’... You.’’

The man had a troubled expression.

’’However, this time, I give up. This is too much trouble... Tiir was a nuisance in the beginning, and though the crystallization was supposed to kill everyone... this time, it was stopped... In the end, my entire harvest is one crystal, huh?’’

Saying that, the crystal from before...

He looked from Pueka's eyes to this way.

His harvest was one crystal...

That was what he said.

To kill a girl who was screaming and crying out... his harvest of one crystal.

’’......’’

What did one say to that?

That it was a person he killed?

Despite that, regarding something like that, why did that guy smile?

Ryner's mind was filled with anger.

He saw blots of black.

But Ryner shut out his anger.

In this situation, it was no good.

In this situation, it couldn't save anyone...

’’......’’

Ryner stared at the man.

’’In the end, my entire harvest is one crystal’’, he said.

In other words... he couldn't retrieve the Alpha Stigma without killing them?

Ryner thought about it calmly.

In this situation, what would be the best plan?

Taking in a breath, he surveyed his surroundings.

And, a way to save as many people as he could by himself...

’’......’’

Ryner looked at Tiir.

He had a painful look on his face.

With that, Ryner understood.

Perhaps Tiir had fought with the man.

And he knew.

If he fought him, he wouldn't win. Otherwise, he surely would've rushed in and attacked the man.

It was obvious logic. If this man was the only human here, then it could be simple.

Then, what to do?

What would work out?

Ryner thought about it for a few moments.

’’... Tiir. Take the children and escape.’’

He said.

The man laughed.

’’You're planning on running away...’’

’’Yeah, they'll be escaping. I'll be facing off with you.’’

’’... You? That's an unnecessary sentiment. Though I'll be taking your Alpha Stigma...’’

Ryner smiled scornfully.

’’That's a lie. You've noticed that my eyes aren't your normal Alpha Stigma, right? And you people from Gastark seem to thirst for that kind of information.’’

As he said that.

The man looked at Ryner's eyes.

What rested in Ryner's eyes, the pentagrams he looked at the symbols, before looking over in Tiir's direction. Then behind Ryner. Then in Luke's direction.

The meaning of that wasn't immediately clear.

But then immediately,

’’You're not enough. More than that, I can still kill one Alpha Stigma.’’

Saying that, he again held out the green sphere...

Ryner knew what the man wanted to convey.

Ryner forcibly grabbed the man's arm.

’’Tiir! Take the children and hurry up and escape!’’

’’However, you...’’

’’Hurry! Don't you realize that at this rate, everyone's going to die!?’’

’’Da...’’

At that, Tiir moved. He held the children and then ran away from that place...

In the thicket, his figure disappeared.

To that,

’’I won't let you escape. Spunquel... damn it. They got away... Ah, well, it's fine. In this case, I'll just kill your companions.’’

The man said, before once again holding the green sphere towards them...

He looked at Luke.

However, Luke was smiling.

The man stared at that smiling face, as if Luke wasn't concerned about the situation at all.

’’... So, you're saying that you've exposed our shoddy performance?’’

The man asked.

After laughing gently, Luke

’’No, no, it truly was a believable performance. After all, Tiir, as he was called, was fooled and so took his leave.’’

That is, when the man directed his attention only to Ryner, it was a sign.

There's something I have to deal with regarding you... Their conversation couldn't afford to be heard by Luke or Tiir. That was why they were kept at a distance.

But the situation had been completely revealed by Luke.

The man spoke to Luke.

’’So what are you going to do?’’

’’... Leave, I suppose? Unless I'm able to participate in this secret conversation of yours...’’

’’Nope.’’

’’Then I'll leave. After all, I can't say that our fight just now was my victory. Well, that can't be read from only one or two blows...’’

Saying that, Luke smiled. With his eternally disconnected smile, he turned on his heel.

’’But we'll see next time.’’

Towards Luke's defenceless back, the man held out his hand with the golden ring on his finger.

However, he frowned.

Luke's back.

There, without anyone noticing, threads were stretched about.

’’... Next time on the battlefield, huh? Well, until then, give my regards to Roland's king.’’

Luke didn't turn around at that, instead waving a hand.

’’And mine to Gastark's king.’’

With that, he disappeared into the grass.

Confirming that, the man looked at Ryner again.

’’... Geez, what was that? Roland's nothing but a bunch of monsters. Like that guy with the king who could disappear and reappear as if he were some kind of ghost...’’

’’Wha... So you and Lucile have...’’

Ryner's words stopped there.

And then he sighed wearily.

Suddenly, for some reason, he remembered an old name he was once called by...

The Greatest Magician in Roland.

’’... Who's the greatest?’’

He groaned in a self-deprecating manner.

At that, the man

’’What was that?’’

’’No, it's something else.’’

’’Huh? ... Well, if it's not important... So, to continue the conversation from before...’’

He said, before stopping.

’’No, before that, I should probably introduce myself? I'm Lir Orla. You can just call me Lir, Ryner.’’

’’Don't call me by my name like that,’’

Ryner said, to which Lir scowled.

’’Ah? Are you saying that you're above me? I've got a hostage right here, and yet you'd look down on me?’’

He said, waving his finger.

Just a short distance from where the fallen Ferris lay, beasts of lightning with large fangs appeared...

’’Ah, hey, wait, seriously? Wait. That was my bad.’’

’’Exactly? Don't you think you should understand your position a little better? All right, then say it. Lir-sama.’’

’’Haa!? Didn't you just say that I could call you...’’

Before Ryner could finish, Lir began to wave his finger...

’’No way, no way, no way! Lir-sama, Lir-sama! Damn it !’’

’’Well, putting that joke aside... Start talking. Alpha Stigma monster...’’

But then, he seemed like he was contemplating something, before

’’... No, maybe it's better to call you the Solver of All Equations instead?’’

Lir called Ryner that.

Solver of All Equations.

He said something Ryner had never heard of.

Ryner narrowed his eyes, looking at Lir.

’’... Is that the name of my eyes?’’

But at that, Lir looked surprised.

’’Huh? Don't tell me that you don't even know about yourself?’’

At those words, Ryner thought for a moment before replying.

About himself.

He didn't know about himself?

If that was the case, he didn't know how to respond.

On the contrary, what the hell was he? He'd gone with Tiir in order to learn that.

But Lir called Ryner the Solver of All Equations.

Not an Alpha Stigma bearer, but the Solver of All Equations.

What in the world...

’’I... What the hell am I?’’

He asked such a idiotic-sounding question.

However, Lir laughed at that.

’’Isn't this rich? In all seriousness... you really don't know about yourself?’’

’’If I knew, I wouldn't be asking.’’

In response, Lir's smile became increasingly cheerful.

’’Then, the gate too?’’

’’Gate?’’

’’The key?’’

’’......’’

Ryner stopped talking.

But it was too late.

A smile arose in Lir's face.

’’... Ah, ahahaha... So that's how it is. In the end, Roland's only reached that degree so far?’’

He quickly turned on his heel.

At that, Ryner

’’Eh, ah, hey... Weren't you going to take me back to Gastark?’’

Lir simply shook his head.

’’Nope. That won't be necessary. No, rather, if you stay here, then for us, that'll really be...’’

His words stopped there.

He looked over his shoulder.

He smiled at Ryner as if Ryner were a complete idiot.

’’... Well, since you haven't been betrayed yet, work as hard as you can, crazed monster.’’

Saying that, he disappeared into the grass.

’’Asshole, get back here. What the hell were you talking about...’’

Ryner began to follow him...

However.

He stopped.

Then, he turned around.

There, only Ryner stood.

The sky began to faintly turn bright, as morning approached.

Over there, darkness stretched.

It was terribly, terribly quiet.

The only thing that could be heard was the sound of the wind.

The sound of the wind gently blowing through the grass.

’’......’’

However, the children's sleeping breaths couldn't be heard anymore.

Ryner looked at the fallen boy and girl on the ground.

Lafra and Pueka's bodies.

And he remembered.

Lafra's sad smile, and Pueka's cheerful face as she looked at Lafra.

And then the four people who should've been inside that small building.

Even though they were all smiling before.

Even though they'd been smiling happily.

There was no longer anything.

’’... At least, a grave...’’

Ryner murmured.

What the Solver of All Equations meant didn't matter anymore.

Ryner approached the fallen Ferris.

He looked at her.

Her eyes were closed.

She was still unconscious.

Crouching down, he confirmed her current state.

Her breathing was stable, and she didn't seem to have sustained any serious damage.

It didn't look like any bones were broken.

Ryner let out a sigh of relief at that.

And then,

’’......’’

Looking at her narrow body and arms he was amazed that such a slight body took a hit from the beasts of lightning for him.

Even now, he couldn't help but be afraid to think of what he'd do if she'd died...

He'd noticed it for the first time.

Ferris's feelings at that time.

The words she'd spoken with a face like she was about to cry.

’’... Fool. If you died... you know I'd be lonely...’’

To that, Ryner

’’... Yeah. Same here. If you died, I'd be lonely as well...’’

And then, as he moved to fix her messy hair,

’’... Don't touch me, se* fiend,’’

Ferris said in a voice that suggested she was trying to endure the pain.

’’Wait, so you were awake?’’

As her expression warped into one of pain, she replied,

’’... No, I woke up just now. What's the situation?’’

She scanned the surroundings.

To that, Ryner shrugged.

’’... Ah, well, I'm not really sure. But we drove away Lir... that guy from Gastark...’’

Ferris looked behind Ryner.

She looked at Lafra and Pueka's bodies. Then, she confirmed that Luke and Tiir weren't there.

For some reason, when she spoke, her voice was different from her perpetually emotionless state there was a hint of unease in it.

’’... So, what are you going to do from here?’’

She asked that sort of thing.

Reflexively, Ryner smiled wryly.

She was uneasy about something?

Something could make her, of all people, uneasy?

’’... I really am an idiot,’’

Ryner said, groaning.

As usual, Ferris

’’... Mm-hmm. Though you didn't start being an idiot just now.’’

But her voice was still anxious...

He felt like crying.

I really am a complete idiot.

Even though he'd had so much for so long.

He was the one who rejected it.

Because he was afraid of hurting others.

Because he was afraid of being hurt.

That was why he ran so he could be alone.

But no matter how much he ran, he couldn't get used to it.

No matter how much he despaired.

No matter how much he despaired, alone in this world.

As miserable as his heart was... it wasn't overwhelmed by despair.

As long as Sion and Ferris were smiling...

Like that, he felt happy.

As he smiled, tears threatened to spill.

I'm... not alone anymore.

He thought.

In that case.

’’... I'll do it, Lafra. I'll fulfill my promise to you.’’

And he remembered Lafra's words. His sad expression.

Even so, he'd entrusted something to the hopeless Ryner.

’’For the sad bearers of God's Eyes, who have lost faith in humans... I want you to save them all.’’

Ryner looked at Ferris.

She stared back with a nervous face.

Looking at her

’’... Let's go back to Roland. There's something I need to do. Before that, though, there's something I want you to promise me.’’

’’... Promise?’’

’’Yeah. A promise. So that I'll have the courage to fight against my cowardice... I want you to do something for me.’’

At those words, Ferris tilted her head with a clueless look.

’’... What in the world are you talking about...?’’

Ryner interrupted her.

’’... I've... been running away all this time. All this time, I've fled from the truth of being a monster. Of how I might hurt the people important to me. Of how I might kill the people important to me... like Sion and you... So I ran away from Roland. Because I thought that I couldn't be by your side.’’

’’... But do you think differently now?’’

However, at that, Ryner frowned and shrugged.

’’... No... it's not so easy to change the way you think. I'm still afraid. That by being by your side, I could kill you... I'm scared of that. That's why... That's why I want you to give me courage.’’

’’... Courage?’’

Ryner nodded.

Right courage.

But it would be the worst sort of promise.

One that Ferris would hate the worst promise.

Nevertheless, he'd decided not to run away anymore.

And so.

Ryner stared at Ferris, and

’’... I want you to kill me. If I go berserk again... I want you to be the one to kill me. Without hesitating like before...’’

At that.

Ferris's expression changed.

As expected, it was a faint change. If it were anyone else, they wouldn't be able to tell what she was thinking.

But Ryner understood.

Her feelings.

What she was thinking about right now.

And then Ferris spoke.

As he thought, her tone was indifferent, devoid of any emotions.

’’... And with that, you'll return to Roland,’’

She said.

And so the promise was made.

At that,

’’... Let's go back to Roland... together.’’

Averting his eyes, Ryner said.



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