—The Eternal Stone Statue.
It is a famous way of getting rid of an NPC in Nekomimi Neko on the level of the Infinite Corridor Suppression.
I honestly didn’t think I would be able to shake Leila off completely simply by disposing of the Eye of the Heavens.
No, I did think it would be nice if that were the case, but I can’t deny that, aside from deciding on disposing of the Eye of the Heavens when heading to the Aken household, there was one other objective poking out from inside my head.
That one other objective being to obtain the ultimate anti-NPC weapon.
Nekomimi Neko places a whole lot of effort in troubling the player, so it of course has a whole plethora of status ailments.
Weaken which halves your stats; Shadow Bind which immobilizes you; Restriction which instead makes you only be able to move and nothing else.
As for others, there’s the familiar ones in RPG: poison, paralysis, sleep, confusion, and many others, but they all go away after a certain period of time.
Even the petrification which is said to be the most difficult to heal will naturally go away after 10 minutes or so.
Status ailments are by no means permanent.
However, there’s exceptions.
The Immortal Oath I got from the Aken household.
When you have this ring on, status ailments won’t heal.
Basically, if you manage to make the other party wear the Immortal Oath, you can turn status ailments permanent on them.
Of course, you can’t equip things to monsters and hostile NPCs, so you are limited on who you can use it on, but this combo of Immortal Oath + Status Ailment is truly powerful.
With the Immortal Ring on, even a character with high resistance to status ailments like Mitsuki would be affected.
Status ailments will hit with 100% chance, so just by throwing a paralysis and poison potion that you can easily get even in Lamurick, you can kill that character for certain.
However, when you kill someone like that, the Immortal Oath will be gone together with the death of that character, and there’s the chance that a lot of inconveniences will happen if an NPC dies.
What gathered popularity there was the Eternal Statue that simply takes away the freedom of the character with petrification.
If you don’t have petrification, you can substitute it with paralysis or sleep, but anyways, the basis of this method is to have the other party permanently unable to act by having them wear the Immortal Oath and leaving them somewhere.
That way your heart won’t hurt as much compared to killing them, and you can take off cursed items at the church, so the Immortal Oath won’t be gone after one use.
“If I am going to use one, it would be petrification.” (Souma)
It wouldn’t be funny if they were to die from starvation at some unknown point in time with paralysis or sleep.
There’s also the choice of restraining her and limiting her actions, but her being conscious makes it more painful instead, and I don’t know if that would block the ‘Death to the Infidel!!’.
I wouldn’t have to worry about petrification. I have increased my proficiency in the earth element with Master Torch, so I can do it at once if it is petrification magic.
I can, but…
I reflexively hid the ring at my back at the voice that came from behind me.
“Ina? What’s the matter?” (Souma)
I pocketed the ring behind me and asked Ina while faking a smile, and she shook her head with a despondent look.
“Ah, I am sorry for interrupting you while you were thinking. I didn’t really have any business with you or anything. I was simply a bit worried about you…” (Ina)
I was a bit relieved by this.
Looks like she simply came to check on me because she thought I was feeling down.
“I see. Sorry about that. I am okay… What’s everyone doing?” (Souma)
When I asked this, Ina shook her head again.
“…Nothing. Everyone doesn’t seem to know what to do.” (Ina)
Ina’s face while saying this was also shaded in a dark mood.
The situation might be more dire than I thought it was.
This isn’t the time to be worrying about whether I can dupe Death Bringers or not…or more like, I don’t even know if there would be a price tag for something like that, and I don’t really think its performance is that good.
There’s not much benefit in having more of them, but the words infinite duping makes my gamer blood stir.
“U-Uhm, Souma-san?” (Ina)
I must have fanned her unease by staying silent, Ina took a step towards me.
The teary eyes of Ina approached me.
“…It is going to be okay…right?” (Ina)
Inconcrete words that sounded as if she were trying to cling onto something.
I tried to smile at Ina with as much of a reliable smile as possible.
“Isn’t that obvious? I have overcome countless hardships like this one, and there’s several things I have thought of as well.” (Souma)
It is not on the level where I would use ‘several’.
However, I answered her lightly so I don’t worry her further.
“Yeah, the way of dealing with ‘Death to the Infidel!!’ changes depending on how it works on a systematic level, but I should be able to manage somehow. Even if I can’t think of a good method, I can use the Eternal Statue and—ah.” (Souma)
It was only after I said it that I noticed I slipped there, but it was a bit too late.
That wasn’t something I should have said to Ina who was turned into what was basically a statue because of the curse of the Demon Lord even if she didn’t have memories of that time.
Those words leaked from Ina’s mouth.
I would have been happy if she had just let it slip by, but it looks like she has clearly bitten onto them.
“N-Now then, it is about time we go back. Everyone must be bored.” (Souma)
I hurriedly pushed the back of Ina and tried to return to the room.
“P-Please wait. That just now—” (Ina)
“Come on, come on. Let’s go.” (Souma)
I pushed the back of Ina who was still worried about the words just now.
It is true that everything will be solved if I use the Eternal Stone Statue.
—But what would be the difference between that and the Blessing of the Demon Lord which stole the freedom of Ina?
I hid those hazy emotions of mine and returned to the room where Leila and the others are waiting.
The moment I entered the room while thinking about what to test next, my legs stopped at the weird atmosphere.
I furrowed my brows unconsciously at this, and Leila walked in front of me with a resolved face.
She tightened her lips once before speaking.
“Y-You know, Souma…I really should leave this place.” (Leila)
I was dumbfounded by what she said.
I didn’t expect this girl that was even called the Death Stalker to utter those words herself.
I hurriedly responded to her.
“W-Wait! You went through the trouble to meet me, right? And yet, easily deciding to—” (Souma)
“It wasn’t easy.” (Leila)
Leila showed a painful face warped as if enduring tears.
“I heard from Mitsuki-san. You might die if my knife hits you… You know…I love you. I love you more than anyone in the world. That’s why I don’t want to think about the possibility of you dying. I don’t want to stay away from you, but if that means you being in danger, I would dislike it more.” (Leila)
I couldn’t respond to her properly, so Leila continued speaking with a sad face.
“I have not once thought that I wanted to kill you. But…But when I see you getting along with someone else, my head turns completely blank. My body just moves on its own when that happens…and I can’t stop no matter what.
Even when I shouted in my heart to stop, I just…” (Leila)
That’s the compulsory power of the events.
Even when I think it is not the fault of Leila, I have no way to tell her this.
That’s when I finally understood.
She is already not the Death Stalker Leila from the game.
She is a different person with a different personality.
She continued to criticize herself with tears in her eyes.
“I…I didn’t know I was someone like this. I am sorry. I am really sorry, Souma. But I won’t meet you ever again… That’s why…That’s why…” (Leila)
“…That’s not enough.”
The one who cut off the desperate words of Leila was Mitsuki who possessed indifferent pressure.
Leila looked back with a scared face, and Mitsuki said coldly.
“Even if you are far away, it won’t solve anything if your feelings don’t change at all. Can you assure us that you definitely won’t remember us and be assailed by jealousy while you are far away?” (Mitsuki)
Leila would activate the ‘Death to the Infidel!!’ if she feels jealous.
The frequency may decrease if she is away from me, but if we can’t predict the timing and actions henceforth, it might even be more problematic.
“I-I…then what should I do…?” (Leila)
Muddy light shows up in the eyes of the faltering Leila.
Her wavering gaze fell onto the Death Bringer at her waist.
The hand of Leila unsteadily stretched towards the knife.
(Don’t tell me…suicide?!) (Souma)
I was going to hurry and stop her, but Mitsuki’s words hit Leila before that.
“Hoh, so you would choose your own death, huh. But have you not considered that you dying would cause trouble for him instead? The citizens will suspect your death is related to your relationship with him, and he will feel responsible for your death.
Don’t you think choosing death is just way too self-centered?” (Mitsuki)
Those words of Mitsuki, which she seemed to have found amusing, froze the movements of Leila in place accurately.
Those words were the finishing blow.
“No way… Then what should I…” (Leila)
Leila had lost all hope and fell on her knees.
I reflexively drew towards Mitsuki and she dropped her cat ears to the side in self-derision.
And then, she whispered in a way that only I could hear.
“I have laid the groundwork. With this, she should accept any unreasonable request you make.” (Mitsuki)
I opened my eyes wide at the unexpected words of Mitsuki.
Mitsuki then told me this with an expressionless face that looked kind yet cold.
“You have a plan, right? That’s the face you had when you entered the room.” (Mitsuki)
“Mitsuki, you…” (Souma)
Did she corner Leila on purpose for my sake?
But that doesn’t match Mitsuki’s image as a person of justice.
Mitsuki averted her gaze slightly at my questioning look.
“I always ask you for the reasoning the whole time as if taking the high ground, but…I don’t want to lose you no matter what. I wouldn’t lament dirtying my hands for the sake of that.” (Mitsuki)
I gulped my breath at the even more extreme words, and she quickly turned around.
“…I will be taking my leave here.” (Mitsuki)
She then looked at us, grabbed the nape of the Bear who was grinning, and left the room with unfaltering steps.
“…Let’s go.” (Ringo)
“Eh, u-uuh…” (Ina)
After that, she also brought the flustered Ina with her and Ringo left the room, too.
And so, the only ones left in the room were me and Leila who was sitting on the floor.
(…I have no choice but to do this.) (Souma)
It is now that I steeled my resolve.
I can’t keep the status-quo forever, and I have no brilliant ideas right now.
Then, I’ve no other choice but to tread on.
I crouch to match my gaze with Leila.
And then, I chose my words and spoke to her in as gentle of a tone as possible.
“Actually, I thought of a way that you can stay in this house, Leila. I think it will be a bit…stuffy for you, but if this goes well, you won’t be killing me anymore.” (Souma)
I said this while mixing a small lie.
But Leila, especially in her current state, wouldn’t be able to tell that.
Leila felt hope in my words and raised her head as if clinging onto me.
It really did make me hesitate a bit to nod at that raspy voice of hers.
However, I nodded on the outside, and Leila looked at me as if asking me what she should do.
“I-I will do it! Please let me! W-What should I do?” (Leila)
Leila bit onto it to a saddening extent.
I felt prickling pain at that reality while trying to act calm here.
“It is simple. You just have to wear a certain something.” (Souma)
That’s where I take out ‘something’ from the bag.
She must have felt a bit uneasy about its black and ominous design.
I think I saw Leila cower for a moment there.
However, she looked at me with strong resolve in her eyes before I could explain.
I was the one on the verge of faltering from those eyes that were far stronger than I imagined.
“…Give me your left hand.” (Souma)
I averted my gaze as if losing to those eyes of hers, and instead shortly requested this of her.
Leila obediently offered me her hand.
A far smaller and slender hand than I expected.
I held her faintly trembling hand and…
“…You are not doubting me?” (Souma)
I unconsciously leaked those words out.
Leila made a face as if she didn’t understand what I said just now, and I was pissed by it even when I was aware that’s unreasonable.
“I tried to deceive you before, you know? Don’t you think it is weird for me to tell you to put this on without giving you a single explanation?” (Souma)
Even when I continued speaking, Leila stayed dumbfounded, but eventually chuckled.
“That doesn’t matter. Your happiness is my happiness.” (Leila)
It has been a while since I have felt chills.
Meaning that, even if I were to deceive her, she would be fine if I am happy with it.
I felt scared for some reason and purposely said this in an exaggerated manner.
“…Even if I told you this is a cursed ring that will make you suffer for the rest of your life?” (Souma)
Even with that, Leila still nodded without hesitation.
Not only that, she even pushed her extended left hand forward as if to urge me on.
(I see…) (Souma)
The Death Stalker Leila is not here anymore.
However, Leila still holds the same degree of passion inside of herself.
And it is all because I performed such a plan due to the desire for my own safety…
“…Don’t make a face like that.” (Leila)
Leila’s hand stretched towards me and she wrapped her hands around mine.
“You saved me from eternal loneliness. That’s how happy I was.” (Leila)
I was about to deny it, but then I remembered that Leila didn’t even pay any attention towards the knights who tried to approach her under the orders of Maki.
It might be true that the only one who could get involved with her when she closed her heart was me with my game knowledge and player attributes.
…I saved her.
That’s just the result, but can you really call my actions that?
“B-But I approached you in order to obtain the magic book of the ruins—” (Souma)
“When I heard that, I was happy. I felt like I was needed for the first time in my life. My heart pounded when you saved me, and I was really happy being able to talk about ruins with someone other than my father.” (Leila)
That’s when Leila showed a beautiful…a truly mesmerizing smile.
“There’s nothing for you to worry about. That’s why…here.” (Leila)
She let go of my hand and offered her hand to me again.
What should I do to answer that resolve of hers?
I only know of one method right now.
“I am putting it in, okay?” (Souma)
I have reached a decision completely.
Even so, I declared this shortly and moved my hand forward while scolding my trembling fingers.
Leila let out that voice.
That’s when a black ring with a boorish design that doesn’t suit Leila had been slid into her left hand and…
The door opened with a ‘Bang!’ like that of an explosion at that moment, and then something flew our way like a bullet.
“Wa?! Sudde—” (Souma)
I didn’t have the chance to say anything.
That light brown bullet pushed down my whole body and I fell on the ground with force to spare.
“You must not, Souma-san! You definitely must not do that!”
“Wa, Ina?! What’s all this…” (Souma)
The light brown bullet, Ina, held my shoulders with incredible strength and shouted with tears in her eyes.
“I noticed after remembering what happened to the Bear-san! About what this Eternal Stone Statue that you spoke about is, Souma-san!” (Ina)
I averted my gaze from shame.
Regret assailed me, telling me I really shouldn’t have told Ina about this.
“You must not! You definitely definitely will regret it, Souma-san! It is too soon to decide this! Me and everyone else will do anything they can! That’s why, just a bit more…” (Ina)
That’s as far as Ina said.
I heard a low voice from above Ina, at the other side.
We both look up.
Leila was there, on the verge of taking her knife out at any moment.
(Crap! This position!!) (Souma)
This sight of both of us lying on the ground must be enough to fan the jealousy of Leila.
Also, in this position…
“Run, Ina!” (Souma)
Seeing that the knife was finally taken out, Ina and I moved at the same time.
I reflexively tried to move Ina away, and Ina instead tried to get on top of me to cover me, making both of our actions clash.
The clash only lasted for an instant. In the end, I was the one who won, being the strongest between us both.
However, because of the opposition of Ina, the retreat of Ina was slightly delayed.
The Death Bringer that was unleashed mercilessly cut through the sleeves of Ina and approached me.
I saw that in slow motion.
I think a dumbstruck voice came out from me at the last moment.
By the time I came back to my senses, the blade was already right in front of me, and I couldn’t avoid or block it anymore…
The scream of Ina pierced my ears.
However, even at that time, Leila’s knife struck against my bare hand mercilessly and…
“Haah…that seriously scared me!”
…After confirming that the Instant Death didn’t activate despite that, I sighed heavily in relief.
I seriously thought I was going to die here.
When I saw the Death Bringer cut the clothes of Ina on the way…I thought it could be possible, but this countermeasure was honestly 50/50 whether it would work or not.
I can only call this truly lucky.
“Eh? Souma-san? E-Eh?” (Ina)
Ina raised her voice in confusion.
She is happy that I am okay, but she doesn’t understand how it ended up like this -that’s the face she is making.
I sighed at what you could say is a usual sight of hers.
I explained to her slowly, as if chewing it for her.
“Weapons are made in a way so that you can’t equip two at once in the same hand.” (Souma)
“Hm? What are we talking about here?” (Ina)
I sigh once again at Ina who still doesn’t get it.
“Ina, calm down. Look at the left hand of Leila.” (Souma)
“Left hand…? Aaaah!!” (Ina)
She snapped back and looked at the left hand of Leila who was dumbstruck here.
What was there was the equipment that I had put on her just before. The Cursed Black Ring, the Black Knuckles.