I was facing a single man a few meters away within a world dyeing red.
“I didn’t expect this moment to really come.”
The man that I am facing, the master of the Hisame Dojo and father of Mitsuki, Asahi, said this.
“I knew it would come from the very beginning though.” (Souma)
I respond like that while acting composed.
Mitsuki kept her promise with me. She repelled all trials together with Ringo, and protected me all the way to this moment.
It is now my turn to answer their trust.
“That’s the face of someone with plenty of determination. But are you ready?” (Asahi)
Asahi asked me this while still wearing a gentle mask.
“What about you? Are you ready?” (Souma)
I instead threw it back at him as if arrogant.
The mask of Asahi fell off for a moment there, and his ferocious real self peeked out there.
My legs were about to buckle from the killing intent flung at me.
But that’s how it should be.
I am going to be gambling with my life here.
I shouldn’t falter from just this much.
In the game, I couldn’t find an effective means to counter the Gouging Vajra of Asahi, and somehow managed to get through it by receiving that attack.
However, that’s only HP and defense from after clearing the Hidden Dungeon and customizing buff magic.
With my current stats, I won’t be able to endure a hit from the Gouging Vajra.
The defense is mostly invalidated by the Pierce attribute, but the only effective thing in this trial is HP and defense in essence, so defense will obviously be important in surviving.
Asahi aims between the eyebrows of the player at the Last Trial, but the head is always a Critical Point in this game.
If you equip high defense armor, you can get modifiers for your whole body, but this game is set in a way that between hitting a place with armor and hitting a place with no armor, the latter deals more damage.
And unfortunately, there’s no ‘armor that you can equip on your head’ in this game.
Sazan’s mask, Shermia’s tiara, the crown of the king are a few exceptions, but there’s by foundation no items to equip on the head.
Something similar to that would be the red hat of the Red Cap, but it is simply a junk item you sell like the Gold Coin of the Stray Slime.
I read discussions on the net about how rare it is for there to not have head equipment, but there wasn’t a single official comment about this.
In the net, there were comments like ‘they purposely didn’t make them to expose the face of the characters’, ‘they create tension in battles by leaving the weak point open’, ‘because there’s the chance it will block the vision of the player, it is difficult to introduce this in a technical level’, ‘it is stuff and uncomfortable’. A person calling himself a ‘game magazine writer’ appeared in the forum and revealed the ‘truth’.
According to him, he had an interview with one of the developers, but because of the details of it, writing an article about it was scrapped.
He apparently asked for the reason why.
“There’s no item you can equip on your head. Is there a reason for this?”
When he asked this, the developer apparently said this with a straight face.
“What a stupid question you are asking. You should be able to tell if you think about it just a little bit. If we made head equipment, the cat ears would be hidden!”
I don’t know if it is true or not, but it is a truly fitting story for Nekomimi Neko.
However, that was unfortunately written before the game came out.
‘That’s way too haphazard for a made-up story’, ‘not a single believable element’, ‘Cat ears, lmao’, ‘overreaching’, ‘you are underestimating game development’, ‘this is the biggest made-up story of the century’, ‘if you are going to lie, put more thought into it’.
That game magazine writer was called a liar by everyone there and didn’t show into the seas of the net ever again.
I don’t know how they would have reacted if this had been after the game was released, but the truth is sunk into the darkness now.
However, no matter what the truth is, the reality is that there’s no equipment you can put on your head, and it doesn’t change the reality that the Gouging Vajra will definitely aim for that Critical Point.
I thought about putting other armor or an indestructible object on my forehead to block it, but that wouldn’t be considered as being ‘hit’.
The Gouging Vajra won’t stop until it hits my head directly.
In other words, the conclusion is that I don’t have the power to block the Gouging Vajra.
That’s why the method I am taking is something very different.
If I can’t avoid or defend against it, I just have to reject its very foundation.
(Eliminate the flying spear itself!!) (Souma)
That’s my only means of survival here.
However, there was no such solution in the game.
If I actually tried it out and it doesn’t count, then there would be no point.
That’s why I purposely try to get his approval with a provoking tone.
“I am standing here putting my life on the line. But do you even have the resolve to lose something here?” (Souma)
“What are you trying to say?” (Asahi)
Asahi says in an irritated tone.
I endure the pressure flooding me, and raise my voice.
“I have no intention of choosing my means in this trial. What I mean is that I can’t give any assurances that you and that spear will come out safely here.” (Souma)
Hearing this, Asahi snorted in a sour mood.
“Hmph, so stupid. What a truly stupid question. Do you think I would make a fuzz from dying in the trial or from having the weapon broken? Just do as you please. No matter the result of the trial, I will accept it.” (Asahi)
‘Alright!’, I cheer in my heart and once again push it.
“Then, if that result is that you won’t ever be able to use the Gouging Vajra again, even if it won’t return to you, you will accept that, right?” (Souma)
“Annoying! A man doesn’t go back on his word!” (Asahi)
I have gotten his word here.
I laugh internally, telling him I got him, and…
“I don’t think that’s the case, but Souma-kun, could it be that you are not going to be enduring a hit from the spear but thinking about doing something to the spear itself?” (Asahi)
Asahi asked with a low voice to a creepy extent.
“…What if I said I am?” (Souma)
I don’t want to reveal my hand here, but I don’t want to lie here either, so I answer honestly here.
When I did…
“Wahahahaha! Ahahahahahahaha!!” (Asahi)
I don’t know what’s so funny here, but Asahi began to laugh loudly.
“…You won’t be able to.” (Asahi)
He said straight with a chilling voice.
“Y-You won’t know until you try—” (Souma)
I must not get intimidated here.
I desperately refuted this, but Asahi interrupted me.
“This spear is an heirloom that has been passed down for generations in our family for the Last Trial. There were people taking the trial with the spirit of ‘let’s break that thing’.I am one of those people.” (Asahi)
Speaking of which, Asahi said he has also taken the trial, but I didn’t really think much about the details of it.
However, if that spear really is the heirloom of the Hisame family, it wouldn’t be strange for it to have been used a long time ago.
There would naturally be other people who would think about destroying the spear.
“But the spear is still here unbroken… You understand what that means, right?” (Asahi)
There’s no way I wouldn’t.
“It means that no one until now…” (Souma)
“Has been able to break this spear. No, it means that there wasn’t a single person who could even scratch it.” (Asahi)
I gulped audibly.
I felt as if I could see the phantoms of history floating behind Asahi.
That’s fabricated lore.
It is simply game lore that was created to match it.
Even if I try to make myself believe that, the pressure coming from Asahi wasn’t going away.
“…Right. You were talking about resolve and all of that, but do you really have that resolve?” (Asahi)
“What are you trying to—” (Souma)
I was going to desperately object, but Asahi isn’t giving me the room to.
“Once I throw this spear, you will die. Your body can’t take this spear and it is impossible for you to break it. You might be thinking you will be able to manage somehow if you run away until sunset, but even if the trial ends once it hits sunset, this spear won’t stop. Your death is already set in stone.” (Asahi)
He speaks in a disinterested tone different from the one of before as he talks about the future.
“I actually think this is regrettable, you know? If you promise that you will join this dojo and you won’t approach Mitsuki, I don’t mind stopping this trial.” (Asahi)
“That’s just…” (Souma)
I couldn’t answer immediately that I wouldn’t ride on such cajolery.
The fear of death that had been almost numbed in me was revived by the words of Asahi.
I direct my gaze to the side.
Ringo was looking worried over here despite being expressionless, and Mitsuki is expressionless as well, but her cat ears are covered as if they were uneasy here. The bear is waving its hand as if having fun.
The choking air leaked out from me.
The cage of fear that accumulated in my heart had grown a bit lighter.
“I…can’t do that.” (Souma)
I shook my head clearly.
Honestly speaking, this is an enticing offer.
I don’t want to join their dojo, but I do treasure my life, and it is not like I want to get closer with Mitsuki.
But the smile of Mitsuki at that time, her trust…I still remember it.
I definitely don’t want to betray that.
“I see. That’s a shame. Any last words?” (Asahi)
I didn’t answer him.
I will survive.
That’s why there’s no need to say anything.
(…Damn it!) (Souma)
But no matter how much I try to act tough here, the fear isn’t going away.
My hands are trembling and my knees are shaking.
To be honest here, I want to scream for him to wait.
But time passes mercilessly.
The promised time is coming.
“…I see. I was thinking about listening to your last words at the very least, but the sun is sinking already. This is farewell.” (Asahi)
I listened to that merciless declaration while I was desperately trying to cheer myself up.
There’s people who believe in me.
Even though I want to answer those expectations, my body is freezing here.
(It is okay… It is okay…! It hasn’t been decided that there’s no chance of winning just yet!) (Souma)
The throwing skill ‘Gouging Vajra’ is a powerful technique.
The effect is that it amplifies the power of the thrown item, adds a Pierce attribute to it, and makes it certain-hit.
But it is not like there’s no weak points.
There’s a charging time before the throw, and if you attack them before they finish, you can interrupt the skill.
It is not a skill effect of the thrown spear itself, but an item with the added effect, so it is possible to intercept.
So, once they decide on the target and enter the motions for it, they can’t change the target on their own will and can’t cancel it in the middle.
I know when the motions happen, the timing of the throw, and even where it is going to be thrown.
This match should be completely in my favor.
(It should be, and yet…) (Souma)
My hands can’t stop trembling.
I was broken by the words of Asahi. The fear of death had come back, pressing on me and binding me.
Doubts of whether I can do this, doubts of whether I can really conquer the Gouging Vajra; they are all assailing me and obstructing my movements.
“…It is the end.” (Asahi)
Within my blank vision…
Asahi took the spear into his hands and I could see him lifting it.
It is beginning!
No, it has begun…!
My heart is growing noisy to a painful extent.
The blood flowing into my ears was pulsating.
(Coming… It is coming!!) (Souma)
Motions that I have seen countless times.
I have seen them countless times and have been killed countless times; those peculiar movements.
This isn’t the time to be shriveling here.
I have to move here and now or I will really die.
Don’t think about whether it will go well.
You just have to do it now.
“[Gouging Vajra].” (Asahi)
Asahi voiced out the name of that skill and his lifted arm swung heavily to the front.
The spear has been released.
In the face of all that, I…I…
I placed a box in front of my face.
The spear entered the box with blinding speed and disappeared.
No one spoke for a while as if time had frozen.
Asahi let out a dumbfounded voice while still frozen in his throwing posture.
On the other hand, I wiped the sweat from my forehead and…
“Fuuh, that was scary…” (Souma)
I let out a sigh of relief and closed the lid of the box just in case.
I do feel like I was unnecessarily nervous there, but it seems like it went well.
“…W-Wait! W-What was that just now? What about the s-spear? Where is my Gouging Vajra…?” (Asahi)
He probably still doesn’t understand what has happened.
Rather than calling it spaced-out, it is more like he is confused here.
I simply lowered my head deeply in gratitude.
“And so, I will be taking the Gouging Vajra as promised! You have taken great care of me!!” (Souma)
I had my head lowered for a good while, and then I slowly lifted my face.
The moment I raised my head, the sky rapidly lost its light as if it had been waiting for that.
“…Sunset, huh.” (Souma)
The long-awaited 3rd sunset.
This marked the end of the long long trial.
—And in this way, I safely finished the trial. Having safely obtained all 3 things you can get with the Hisame House Visit Event: Mitsuki, affection from influences, and the Gouging Vajra; I exited the dojo in a good mood.
※Introduction of Nekomimi Neko’s Item※
[Cooler Box]: A storage item that can store up to 10 items.
The things placed inside it have their time frozen and maintain the state of when they were placed inside it.
Because of the nature of this, it has good affinity with items that change with the passing of time. Piping hot food, cold drinks, fresh meat, fish, and vegetables, or maybe an energetic spear.