I couldn’t believe it at first.
No, I probably didn’t want to believe it.
“Is something the matter?” (Mitsuki)
My comrades directed dubious gazes at me when I raised my voice suddenly, but I didn’t have the leeway to give attention to them.
Because a contact from Ina at a time like this…
It is as if she…
The Communication Ring is an item that allows you to talk to the registered person for 3 minutes only.
Ina contacting me in itself isn’t strange.
The timing can be explained as just a coincidence too.
Forcing myself to think like that, I try to fix my agitated feelings.
“Ina? Is that you, Ina?” (Souma)
Even with that, my voice was a bit shrill, but it can’t be helped.
At those words…
(Y-Yes! It is Ina. That voice is Souma-san. It is Souma-san, right? Uhm, it has been a while. I am…happy I could hear your voice again.) (Ina)
A voice filled with emotion came back at me.
That voice was overflowing with pure delight at the fact that she can talk to me, and it doesn’t sound at all as if she were in a dangerous place.
In the first place, there’s no way she would be able to contact me like this if she were in the Lizamisu Wasteland.
Ina’s train mode only happens in the areas around Lamurick, and it is impossible for her to level up any further than she already was unless she came to the capital.
The current Ina, even if she were to be on a fast pace, would only be around level 70. If she were to be thrown into the Lizamisu Wasteland where there’s a lot of nimble beasts, she would be dead without being able to last even a minute.
It must have been a misunderstanding.
Thinking this, I spoke in order to confirm this.
“Ina, you…” (Souma)
(Yes, what is it, Souma-san?!) (Ina)
That way too cheerful voice made me lose momentum in the following words.
“…Why didn’t you contact me sooner?” (Souma)
In the end, my mouth moved on its own, and spoke out safe words.
(Ah, that’s…) (Ina)
Ina seemed a bit troubled there.
(Because I promised, didn’t I?) (Ina)
(That I would treasure this ring for the rest of my life.) (Ina)
The moment I heard those words, I felt as if my head was smashed.
It is in part because she was treasuring my casual gift to such an extent.
But I noticed the one other meaning behind those words.
Once those 3 minutes pass, the Communication Ring that Ina promised to treasure for the rest of her life will break.
If she used that, it means…
The worst feeling was stuck in my throat.
But I wrung out my voice.
“Ina, please answer me honestly.” (Souma)
I needed courage to voice out those next words.
Even so, I can’t leave things hazy anymore.
I endure the pain attacking my heart and finally speak those decisive words.
“You are currently in Lizamisu, aren’t you?” (Souma)
Her reaction was extreme.
To the point that there’s no need for anymore words.
But now that I had let my mouth loose, my words were not stopping.
“I am currently in front of the capital’s Monolith. I heard from the merchants that escaped that you were riding in the crashed Magic Airship.” (Souma)
My words were filled with confidence.
(T-That’s not it! Lamurick! I am in Lamurick, but I got nostalgic and ended up…contacting Souma-san…) (Ina)
Ina desperately denied it.
But that agitation already proved I am right.
“That must be a lie.” (Souma)
Ina didn’t answer those added words.
What came out in exchange was…
(…I’m sorry.) (Ina)
I don’t understand.
(I am sorry for breaking your order. Even though you wrote to not come…I wanted to see you, but now…) (Ina)
“That doesn’t matter!!” (Souma)
I shouted by the time I noticed.
“Orders or promises, that doesn’t matter anymore! What’s most important right now is for you to survive!!” (Souma)
I raised my voice without caring about my surroundings, but after I listened to the scared voice of Ina which brought back my calm a little bit…
I visualize the information of the Lizamisu Wasteland in my head.
I think of a countermeasure for Ina to survive.
“Ina, listen well. It is true that the enemies in Lizamisu are really fast. Even if you try to escape from the monsters there, you will have no hope in level ground. But there’s a safe zone in that area.” (Souma)
That’s right, there’s one.
That’s why, it is alright.
I continued speaking in order to divert my uneasiness.
“Climb the trees. The monsters there are all beast types and can’t climb trees. That’s why, as long as you manage to climb a tree…” (Souma)
Ina said this, troubled, as if cutting off my words.
(I am currently on top of a tree. I wouldn’t be able to talk to you this much if I didn’t.) (Ina)
I feel a small giggle.
With this, we might be able to manage somehow.
I was a bit relieved too.
(But it is no good. Monsters are tackling the tree more and more, and every time they do, it is shaking. I probably…won’t be able to endure for more than a few minutes.) (Ina)
My hope was mercilessly destroyed.
This world is different from the game. Objects like trees and rocks are now possible to destroy.
The top of trees are not a safe zone anymore.
(But that’s okay! I am of course a bit scared of dying, but…but having heard Souma-san’s voice in my last moments…that alone is…) (Ina)
“Something like that…!!” (Souma)
I was about to shout in anger, but I finally noticed.
The reason why she acted cheerful and why she lied that she was in Lamurick was because she didn’t want to make me worry.
Because she didn’t want to make me feel responsible for her own death; so that I wouldn’t be pained for not being able to save her. She hid her own situation, and truly just called me in order to make this her ‘last conversation’.
Even though she is going to be dying soon, even though she can’t read the atmosphere, even though she clung to me to an annoying extent, just in her last moments alone, she…
“You are an idiot.” (Souma)
(Ahahaha. I also think that.) (Ina)
Now that I listen closely, I can tell that Ina’s voice is trembling slightly.
Of course she would be.
There’s no way she wouldn’t be scared of dying.
(Why are you so…!!) (Souma)
Just when I was about to scream, overwhelmed by my emotions…
My shoulder was pulled with force.
It was Mitsuki.
“The one you are talking to is Ina-san, right? The person that was together with you in Lamurick? If it is her, I can pursue her.” (Mitsuki)
“But Lizamisu is…” (Souma)
Mitsuki interrupted my words.
“No matter how much we hurry, it will take 2 hours. Please don’t expect me to make it in time.” (Mitsuki)
“Seeing that face of yours…I can’t just do nothing.” (Mitsuki)
I could feel my chest being squeezed.
But I endured it and lowered my head.
“…Please. I can’t move from here.” (Souma)
“Leave it to me.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki ran off without hesitation.
It would be nice if she makes it in time.
But the situation is despairing.
There’s already little time remaining.
Even so, I still asked in order to calm down my shaking heart.
“…Hey, Ina, why did you ride a Magic Airship? You hated that, right?” (Souma)
The reason I thought she might come by carriage was because Ina showed strong opposition to Magic Airships at the boarding station.
(Sorry, that was a lie.) (Ina)
Ina’s answer was straight.
(I didn’t want Souma-san to ride the Magic Airship and go somewhere. I wanted to keep you there no matter what. That’s why…) (Ina)
Now that I think back on it, what Ina said back then was strange.
Basically, she was desperately trying to make me stay there.
“But why go that far…? You have managed to make a companion, right? Then…” (Souma)
(Even Thiel-san becoming my companion was thanks to you, Souma-san.) (Ina)
“Me? But…” (Souma)
I didn’t really do anything.
Before I could say that, Ina spoke.
(When I was injured and taken to the medics, the one who treated me then was Thiel-san. At that time, she told me about it.
The story of the man that was carried to the medics just like me and left a staff.) (Ina)
It is true that that was me.
I had decided in my heart to give Thiel the Guernica Wand since the game days.
That’s why, before I left Lamurick, I gave Thiel that staff with the excuse that it was to pay her for the treatment.
(I got along with Thiel-san with that story as the trigger. That’s why this is thanks to Souma-san too.) (Ina)
“That’s…something like that…” (Souma)
That’s simply a coincidence and a distortion of facts.
Me giving the staff to Thiel was also simple self-satisfaction.
It is by no means something to be praised for.
And yet, Ina was talking about it so passionately as if I were some sort of hero.
(Because it was thanks to Souma-san that everything changed. Thanks to you, Souma-san, I met Thiel-san. Thanks to meeting Thiel-san, I learned about a way to heal the disease of my mother. Thanks to Souma-san leveling me, it made it a lot easier to gather the items for that sake, and level Thiel-san too.
And then, I really managed to cure my mother’s disease…) (Ina)
I could feel the last piece of the puzzle fitting in at that moment.
(Aah, I see…) (Souma)
I did think there would be no way for Ina to come to the capital without curing the disease of her mother.
But Ina obviously has a character event too.
Since I didn’t make Ina a companion of mine in the game, I never did that event.
But if Ina has a sick mother, it wouldn’t be strange for the way to heal her to be within that character event of hers.
Ina desperately adventuring together with Thiel was most likely her performing those events in order to cure her mother.
But one of the reasons why she hurried that much was most likely…
(Thiel-san told me…
When my mother’s disease is cured, let’s go meet Souma-san together at the capital… But Thiel-san…when my mother got better, she gave me money, and told me to meet you one step ahead of her by getting on the Magic Airship.) (Ina)
Thiel must have known that Ina wanted to meet me more than she did.
That’s why she must have secretly saved money for a Magic Airship trip to make Ina happy.
That’s a beautiful story, and should have been welcomed with happiness, but…
(Damn it! Why?! Why did it turn out like this?!) (Souma)
I curse the misfortune, but I am also partly at fault here.
I knew that Ina might chase after me.
But despite me knowing that possibility, I didn’t do anything.
(Why did I leave Ina be until it became like this?!) (Souma)
It is only at this point in time that I feel shame for my ignorance, but this is not the time to be mourning.
If left be, Ina will definitely die.
(Die? Ina will?) (Souma)
I could feel my breathing go unstable at the words that surfaced.
The girl that troubled me as a loner and got involved with me to an annoying extent…
She chased me around, messed up the whole time, but despite all that, she would still smile cheerfully. That girl is going to…die?
—There’s no way I can accept that.
But time is cruel and merciless.
The end will come in mere few seconds.
The effect of the ring will end, Ina will be killed, and I won’t be able to see that smile ever again.
(There should be a way!) (Souma)
That’s why I think just like usual.
A move that will turn things around.
I search for the way to not lose anything; the way to not sacrifice anyone.
(Isn’t there…isn’t there something?) (Souma)
Think, think, think, think.
The topography, exploits, monster traits, event conditions; I bring out all the information I have and search for the best method.
But, even with that…
Ina is…the place Ina is in is a field that’s far away from the capital.
Heading there in just a few minutes is impossible even with a Magic Airship.
— “There’s no human that can live without losing anything.”
The words of Raiden stab me at this timing.
That string of sounds were tormenting me with palpable mass.
— “You can’t extend your hand to all the people in this world.”
The words of Mitsuki that had clear warmth in them were standing before me as an unfeeling reality.
The limits of an individual.
No matter how outstanding a person is, it is not like you can stop the tragedies in the whole world.
The moment I learned about the situation, it was already in a checkmated state.
Since the moment I heard the name of Ina, the path of a Happy End had already been cut off.
(Impossible. Right, it is impossible.) (Souma)
I realized this.
That’s why I…gave up.
I had to.
(Souma-san? Why are you not saying anything?) (Ina)
About opposing this situation.
(Please…please say something! It is the last time, you know? I won’t be able to talk to you anymore after this…) (Ina)
When living, there’s times when you lose something.
Sacrifices cannot be avoided.
(P-Please, Souma-san! I…I don’t want an end like this. Dying alone even in my deathbed would be…) (Ina)
It is something hopeless, and it is impossible to avoid unless you have strength like mine.
(I beg of you, please don’t abandon me! If I were to be abandoned by Souma-san, I…would already have nothing…) (Ina)
The voice of Ina was reaching my ears even while I was falling in despair.
Her trembling voice, her clinging voice rang in my ears.
But even that slowly grew weaker.
(…I am…sorry.) (Ina)
And at the end, she arrived at those weak words.
(I must have been annoying even until the very end, right? But please let me say this one last thing at least.) (Ina)
As if shutting out that weak voice of hers, I…
(Souma-san, thank you very much…for everything…) (Ina)
I closed my eyes.
And then, I slowly opened my eyes.
—I have decided.
Stuff like priorities or delineations; I kick all that shit to the side.
No matter how hard I think about it, my decision won’t change.
There’s no way I would.
Even if this choice creates countless irreversible things, I don’t care.
No matter how many sacrifices it creates, I will submit to them.
There’s no time anymore.
I don’t know when the effect of the ring will run out, and I don’t know when the tree will fall.
There’s no time to hesitate any further.
That’s why I told her.
The words that will begin it all.
“Ina, there’s something important I have to tell you.” (Souma)
Those words push an invisible switch inside Ina.
A special switch that calls for destruction just like the train mode.
Ina answered me even with her raspy voice.
I can’t tell from her voice if it is ‘progressing’ well.
But I have to believe it is going well.
In front of this Monolith at the capital…
With the Communication Ring that is on the finger of Ina…
The conditions are set.
They should be.
I take a deep breath.
With withering strength and trembling voice, I squeeze out strength and string words.
“Please listen, Ina. I…” (Souma)
Even though I had resolved myself, I hesitated slightly before speaking them out.
Not because of the uneasiness of what will happen after this, but because of the hesitation that I might not have the qualifications for it.
(Who cares even if I don’t have the qualifications!) (Souma)
My hesitation was blown away by even stronger emotions than that.
I put those emotions into my words.
And finally said it.
“…I love you, Ina. Please marry me.” (Souma)
I could feel Ina gulping from a far away location.
I speak the ‘keywords’ ‘in front of a Monolith’ ‘towards the person I gave a ring to’.
The conditions for the marriage proposal event should have all been set.
That’s why all that’s left is Ina’s affection. In other words, the feelings of Ina.
The time I was together with Ina was way too short.
To the point that it wouldn’t even be an option if this world were purely a game.
But in this world that’s not ruled by numbers, maybe…
That’s why I simply wait.
My heart is drumming to a noisy extent.
My chest is being squeezed.
Even with that, I waited for her response as if praying.
A short yet long silence.
Eventually, the answer Ina gave me was…
(Yes, with pleasure!) (Ina)
That trembling voice mixed with tears and happiness pushed even me close to tears of relief.
But this isn’t the end.
“Can you please say the oath together with me?” (Souma)
(But Souma-san, I…!!) (Ina)
Ina was about to say something.
But I won’t let her finish it.
“This isn’t for your sake. I want you to say it.” (Souma)
Ina, who answered with a tearful yet happy voice, probably can’t even begin to imagine it.
…Just what will happen from this action.
There’s no doubt she doesn’t even imagine she is about to do something here that might destroy the world.
But that’s fine.
I decided to push it till the very end.
(And Ina Trail…)
That’s why we speak out the last words.
The irreversible oath.
““Swear eternal love under the name of the Only God, Redistas-sama.””
The words of the two end.
It was at that moment…
Light descends from the sky, directed at the Monolith.
The divine yet ominous demonic light.
(…Yeah, I know about it.) (Souma)
I know this sight.
<<Congratulations! Truly congratulations!>>
Within this guilty sense of accomplishment and floating feeling like that of being drunk, I heard that voice from above.
I know the identity of this voice.
I know what is going to happen from now on.
<<Let me bless you two for your wonderful love.>>
The thing that was called the worst in the game: the Blessing of the Demon Lord.
Blessing and curse; the reversal of virtue and evil.
The time freezing curse that changes your beloved one into a statue without allowing any inbetween.
<<The blessing of the Only God in this world, the familiar of the Evil God Dis Aster-sama, the Demon Lord that will bring the end of this world!>>
The declaration of the Demon Lord that came from the infinite sadism and joy in their heart towards the foolish victims…
For the present me, that choice is…
<<Then, let’s grant the blessing of immortality to the bride.>>
Truly a blessing.
That day, due to the lightning that rained all so suddenly, the head figures of the kingdom were cursed.
The Light Hero, Alex; top knight, Spark Hawk; fearful Jane; the immortal Raiden.
Those people who shone brighter than anyone, those people who should have passed their lives more densely than anyone, had been turned into statues. Not letting them live or die due to the curse of the Demon Lord.
Within the list of victims that numbered the dozens, there was the medic I know well that was dispatched to Lamurick, Thiel Rentia; the one affiliated to the Knight Order, Jessica Kretia; and…
…The adventurer that was found on top of a tree in the Lizamisu Wasteland, Ina Trail.