Nidome No Yuusha - Volume 2 - Chapter 24
Chapter 24: The Hero and Shuria, Raise the Curtain
We looked through every nook and cranny of the mansion, all to no avail as to Sori's whereabouts. She wasn't even in her specially granted personal room.
Servants normally had shared rooms, but using her status as a minor noble, I'd gotten her her own room that made it easier to engage in some of our private rendezvous.
No one in the mansion had a clue as to when exactly Sori had disappeared.
(No, calm yourself, Yumis. Think back, we slept together in the same bed just last night. I distinctly remember Sori succumbing to exhaustion first and falling asleep before myself...)
’’... ... My only clue is that damnable letter’’
I still had that sealed envelop in hand.
The red dyeing the paper put off an awfully sinister impression.
But it might be my only lead in finding dear Sori.
Expecting the worst, I opened the letter.
Inside, there was my home's specialty light blue paper.
It was an audio letter.
’’Hello, my dear Yumis nee-sama. The show starts tonight, the stage is set right after sundown. If you desire Sori's return, I highly suggest you come prepared. I shall have an escort waiting by the road out the eastern gate. Yours truly’’
That jovial tone was undoubtedly that of Shuria's.
That natural intonation was dissimilar to the fraudulent mother and sister I'd made, it was of a living, breathing person.
This instantly proved that Shuria was alive, and that those dreams weren't merely dreams.
’’! WHY, why, is she alive...!’’
I had a feeling about this. But my logical mind had denied it every time.
Impossible. How in the world could that frail little girl survive after losing all her magic?
Perhaps that demon, it aided her in this and... ... No.
There are many conditions needed before one could form a demonic contract. Even if the demon found itself wanting to, Shuria couldn't have forged a contract as she was.
And a demon is unable to do anything for anyone unless stipulated through such a contract. Conclusion: the demon wasn't helping her.
Which implied that the demon wouldn't have not taken her soul.
But the reality was that Shuria was alive, and had even had the gall to challenge me.
(No, that doesn't matter right now. I need to find Sori first and... !!)
’’... Call in Ronbert’’
After a short while, a large man with a rather vulgar feel to him appeared before me.
’’You called, Miss?’’
Among our land's military, I had 50 people under my direct control. A Special Forces unit, if you will, that took care of the dirty work.
These men were chosen from amongst retired mercenaries and adventurers who had previous experience in warfare, and were all adept to a certain degree and all convenient tools for narrow situations.
I used them to eliminate people who'd prove bothersome for my research, and also those who snooped into my affairs. I had also used them to take Shuria's old village off the map.
They worked well enough, granted I provide the gold, and were especially useful for emergencies like today.
’’Ronbert, I have a job for you’’
’’Aye aye, and about the pay...’’
’’You needn't worry, I have 1 gold for every man you have. Now quickly, go get all of them’’
Ronbert's eyes shot open in surprise.
Most dirty work didn't require gathering everyone, assassination jobs needed 5, 6 of them at most. All other times, they were employed as my intelligence network.
But despite me knowing that my actions could be described as overkill, I wasn't in a state to consider bothering.
’’Indeed, all of them. This job won't be your usual assassination. Sori's been kidnapped, we need to get her back’’
’’Why us then? Can't you get the guard corps to help with that?’’
’’If I did, I couldn't kill those miscreants right then and there, now could I? I would f*king tear them limb from limb right now if I could’’
I replied in a narrow eyed glare, dense mana exuding from me as if spurred by my fury.
’’Just ready the strongest team possible. By tonight’’
’’Roger that, Miss’’
Ronbert, who now showed prime example of the phrase, 'silence is golden,' exited the room.
Now alone, I thought on my objectives.
’’... ... ...’’
I didn't know too much.
Why was Shuria alive. What were those dreams.
No doubt the two were related, but Sori had acted perfectly normal even yesterday. I even made sure there weren't any signs of the supposed torture.
Outside, it was yet noon.
Various feelings gnawing at me, I carefully prepared to slaughter Sori's captor, who I'm led to believe is Shuria, and anyone affiliated with her.
Fully geared and ready for action, I, along with my special forces were gathered on the road outside the eastern gate.
The cover story would be that we were conducting a military exercise in the forest further east. As there had been reports of Redcaps appearing in the area, in addition to a number of mutilated monster corpses, there were already talks that a powerful irregular might've spawned.
Since we would be facing such a level of unknown danger, no one should find fault in me having every member of the subjugation corps equipped with the strongest full plate armor available.
Some time after, a certain thing approached our location.
It was the very same stuffed animal that'd disappeared from my home as suddenly as it left that ominous letter. It arrived at a walking pace from the road due north-east that led to the aforementioned forest.
It stopped a ways away, and mockingly beckoned us over with a finger, before dashing off.
We so ran after the accursed doll.
I felt the air prickling like needles on the skin of my face. But this was less the weather and more my utter lack of calm that must've been clearly reflected on my face and expression.
We hadn't a clue on the enemy's strength, and further had an important hostage held against us. On top of that, there suddenly appeared a self-moving doll that may or may not be some new breed of monster.
My dealings with the underworld had taught me that death was closely linked to the the amount of information one had, and thus I'd cautioned the troops to be on guard for a surprise attack from anywhere.
We'd reached the forest, and walked further deep for another 1 hour. There, we saw them.
’’Good evening, Yumis nee-sama. And also the rest of you gentlemen, one and all, welcome to this wonderous show’’
A voice, clear as a bell.
Like how the horizon separated land and sky, the forest suddenly gave way to a large circular plane, it's surface bearing neither grass nor weed, as if proclaiming its designation as the field of battle.
At the center of this arena, there was a withered tree devoid of any leaves and upon a thick branch of that tree sat 3 individuals.
One of those 3 was a little girl. Her silver hair swayed in the night wind and she had on something like a black one-piece dress. It was that sinisterly smiling girl that'd spoken.
’’Shuria... Are you Shuria?’’
’’That I am, Yumis nee-sama. It appears I hadn't quite died, and have been reborn wonderfully as you can see’’
'kusukusu,' laughed the little girl exceedingly unlike the one I'd known.
Her cherubic expression and the distinct air around her made her seem a complete stranger.
Her facial features and voice had seemed familiar before, but as I now saw her in person, I could tell that those too had changed ever so slightly.
The way she looked under this moonlit night, with a finger on her lips to emphasize her words, she appeared to exude a charm like that of a succubus.
She had not a speck of her previous bright innocence in those eyes.
’’Such a clear blue moon we have tonight. But let us end the intermission here, we can enjoy the moon on another occasion. But I must admit, the red of blood will go splendidly with tonight's cobalt sky’’
I felt a severe chill as if a tongue of ice licked up the back of my neck.
Shuria jumped down, and the other two followed.
And right as they did, the already withered tree crumbled back into the earth as if its time had been accelerated many fold.
’’Thank you so much for guiding them, Teddy’’
It's duty complete, the teddy bear who seemed to recognize Shuria as master trotted off to her. My supposed half-sister then proceeded to gently stroke the doll's head.
’’The other two, I thought you looked familiar, you're the same people I met outside town, the ones in battle with that Blackorc, are you not?’’
’’Oh? So you remember us. Here I thought you wouldn't bother’’
’’I thought her intelligence was that of a bagworm, but her memory is a tad bit better it seems’’
’’... ... F*king trash, it appears conversing is pointless. Return Sori to me, now’’
The black haired boy and the beastkin girl were laughing.
They must've been the fools who had come to Shuria's aid. Previously, they had the look of warriors and were taking on a Blackorc just the two of them. The changed Shuria aside, I mustn't make light of them. I now possessed magic so superior, I superior, I couldn't see a way I could lose.
’’Oh, of course. I'll have her brought here immediately. Kitty, you can come now’’
Upon two sharp claps of her hand, what appeared out of the forest on the other side was the cat plushy I'd once bought for Shuria. The knife and fork were no longer in its hands but affixed to its side, and its small hand now pulled on a chain.
My dear Sori crawled on all fours behind the feline doll. Her clothes were torn all over and her limbs bound in thick metal shackles.
She had a leather collar, like those used on untrained animals, on her neck which linked back to the chain held by the cat plush.
’’Kitty, you can let her go’’
After letting go of her collar chain, the cat then used its knife to cut away the chains on Sori's limb-binding shackles.
’’Go on to your master now, bait’’
As if compelled by Shuria's command, the hesitating Sori slowly walked to me.
And after a moment, as if she couldn't bear her emotions, Sori now came running, tears around her eyes.
I received my worn out, ragged, Sori in my arms as gently as I could.
’’Ah, ahh, Sori, you've grown so thin――’’
No, this wasn't my Sori!!
’’Miss! get away from 'er!!’’
In that instant, I could see Ronbert who'd been beside me draw his sword.
As the word Trap surfaced to my mind, I immediately made to push away this thing that pretended to be Sori, but I was a moment too late.
That fake Sori had taken out a small multicolored dagger with the symbol 8 carved on it, and had furthermore stabbed it into me, as it sneered at me, twisting Sori's beautiful face into a crude grin.
That laugh sounded oddly similar to the one from that teddy bear creature.
Once I'd jumped backwards, away from the fake which showed no more reaction, Ronbert chopped off its arm.
’’Roar O spirit of wind, Lightning!!’’
I finished the doppelganger with my green lightning that resulted in the creature bursting into mist, leaving not even a corpse.
’’Ah, so you did see through the guise, only the appearance was the same after all’’
Shuria said non-chalantly as she put on another warped smile.
’’Kusukusu, okey, are we all ready for the main event? I'm not the only one who'll be performing tonight’’
I subdued the pure rage boiling inside me from the fact that they'd used Sori's appearance as a means to deceive me, and pulled out the dagger stabbing into me.
That small sword too disappeared into mist.
’’What did y――― ―’’
What had they done to me, I couldn't finish asking.
’’Ugh, Aa AAHH!! My, head... ’’
A tremendous volume of foreign memories were seared into my brain. It felt as if something was directly flowing inside my head. No, it wasn't my head that was being tampered with, it was my very soul. Things were becoming an unorganized mess inside me, as I felt what seemed to be a part of my soul being overwritten.
Let's see. Did it work?
I was trying something completely new and untested, and honestly didn't even know if it was possible. I just happened to have an to have an idea and went with it, and if it didn't work, that'd be fine too.
If I got this idea a bit earlier, I could've used it on Barkus and his goons, missed a fine opportunity there.
’’Hey Miss! F*king bastards, what'd you do to 'er!!’’
The big guy who seemed to be the boss of Yumis' personal army yelled.
’’Meh, just got her to remember some stuff’’
I'd had Yumis stabbed with an 【Eight Eyed Bookblade of Transparency】 that I pre-filled with as much mana as I could shove inside.
The 【Eight Eyed Bookblade of Transparency】had the ability to read the target's status and log it.
So what was this 'status'?
Where's this sword pulling all this info out from?
It's definitely not the body, if the status came from the body, it wouldn't have the target's name on there. You could make an argument for the brain being the source, but then even newborns had their own status including a name.
That meant that it got this information from the soul.
The thing called a soul definitely did exist in this world. For example, wraiths, a type of undead that were soul only, were real creatures.
Now, if the soul stored all this data, then what the 【Eight Eyed Bookblade of Transparency】was doing was copying that data inside. Then, couldn't it be possible to copy the data on Yumis I had from my 1st run directly into the current her?
No look, I realized that this interpretation of its power is way too liberal. But if it worked, she'd remember what she did to me in the 1st run. If it didn't, whatever.
The mission objective wouldn't change no matter the outcome. It was a matter of feeling. If she remembered, then she'd scream her pain knowing what she did.
And by the looks of it, the trick worked.
’’Haah, haah, what, did you, do to me, my, memories...’’
’’Why don't you answer that yourself? you should know’’
’’... ... Ukei Kaito, the hero from another world, you're supposed to've been executed, wait, past tense? But aren't these my’’
Her mutters told it all, she recognized me as me.
’’... ... ... Haha’’
I suddenly felt joy, so much, extraordinary joy.
’’AHAHA, AHAHAHAHA!! Aa, ... Aa, ahh, AHH!! I'm so happy, sooo damn HAPPY to see you, you know that, Yumis? Last time it was when I was killed, and now we can finally do that second waltz. Raise the curtains, raise them high, HIGH!! The foolish Hero once again enters the stage!! And the Mage joins in, whether she likes it or NOT!!’’
Were the memories all overwritten, or were they saved under a different name?
Who cares, I sure didn't. It was all the same to me.
She was back. That was all that mattered.
’’... I'd like you to refrain from speaking complete gibberish, but as I see it, your objective is counter to my dream, is it not?’’
’’IT IS!! And I'll make due on my vow, right now!! I'll kill you! I'll kill you all!! Starting with YOU, Yumiss!! I'll send you to the pits of despair, desolation and derangement, I'll make sure you DIE, painfully!!’’