TLN: Hey guys, this is just a spoiler block for the first line~. Don’t mind me.
—Ringo is dead.
That reality rang heavily and deeply in my chest, and I couldn’t breathe.
That’s why even when several tentacles were crawling out from the hole of the wall again, I couldn’t feel anything.
The voice of Sazan.
It is not like I thought nothing of that shrill voice of his that sounded as if it were on the verge of tears.
However, when I looked over there by reflex, Mitsuki, who was carrying Sazan, had come to me.
“We are running.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki said this shortly and held me under her arm while carrying Sazan and moved away from that place in one go.
The scenery blurred in an instant.
We reached the opposite door in just a few seconds, went up the 3rd Floor just like that, and…
“Ah, the watch of Ringo…” (Souma)
The Chronos Watch of Ringo.
We left it there.
“We have to get it…!” (Souma)
I was about to get out of Mitsuki’s arm and go back, but my body was not moving.
—The penalty of Incarnation of Fury.
Those words flashed through my mind for a moment.
It would be troubling like this.
I tell Mitsuki desperately.
“We have to go back! Ringo’s—!” (Souma)
“You are more important than that watch for me.” (Mitsuki)
Her stiffened face seemed to be crying for some reason, and I fell silent.
I take a deep breath.
The weight of my chest softened a bit.
Mitsuki just answered with a short ‘don’t worry’ at my apology as she opened the door to the 3rd Floor.
“I have said before.
Saving the world is a treacherous endeavor, and it is not something that can be accomplished without sacrifices.
It is not something you have to feel guilty about.” (Mitsuki)
I bit my lips at those words.
I want to shout that’s not the case.
I don’t want to admit that Ringo died in order to save the world.
But…now that she has died, there’s no point in such logic.
“…But you are fine the way you are.
It is because you are like that that I have fallen in love with you.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki, who should have a penalty on Agility because she is carrying both of us, was still fast.
Her eyes were wary of the surroundings even while she was talking, and she had already gotten through the big room of the 3rd Floor, and was going through the stairs to the 4th Floor.
“Let’s move on for now. So that we don’t lose anymore.
I will protect you while you can’t move.
That’s why you—kuh!!” (Mitsuki)
There was no sign of it.
On the way to the 4th Floor, the wall of the tower was busted open, and several dozens of tentacles came out from it.
The path was completely closed.
That’s what I thought.
But as expected of Mitsuki, she jumped to the front without hesitation and somersaulted while carrying both of us.
She groaned and lost balance in midair, but she avoided the tentacles rushing, and rolled into the room of the 4th Floor.
After hearing the sound of the door behind closing, Mitsuki continued falling and she pitched forward at around a little after the middle of the room.
“Mitsuki?! Uwa!” (Souma)
Sazan and I were thrown ahead.
The penalty of Incarnation of Fury is still there.
I rolled on the ground without being able to mitigate the fall.
But what’s more severe was…
“I intended to avoid it, but it seems like it scraped me a bit.” (Mitsuki)
The leg of Mitsuki was dyed bright red.
Even in my eyes it looked like she avoided it perfectly.
It dealt that much damage even with that, so I can imagine what would happen if hit fully by it.
“There’s no issues. More importantly…” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki took out a potion from her bag and threw it onto her leg to treat it, and then glared at the door in front.
“We have been surrounded.” (Mitsuki)
I can’t feel anything strange from the door in front.
But that must be the case if Mitsuki says it.
Now that I think about it, it is strange that it hasn’t pursued us from the back at this point in time.
Looks like I underestimated the intelligence of the Evil God Fragment because of my preconception of the game.
But in that case, what should I do?
There’s only one path forward.
However, going ahead when the Evil God Fragment is waiting for us there, no matter how you think about it, that’s…
“…Can’t be helped.
Sazan-san, I leave the rest to you.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki moved before I could reach a decision.
She called me with a clear voice.
The handsome face of Mitsuki was in front of mine by the time I noticed.
“Leaving the rest? Just what in the—hn!” (Souma)
It was truly a brief instant.
The face of Mitsuki got even closer, and something warm touched my lips.
An instant that felt like an eternity.
After Mitsuki finished the short yet long kiss, she moved away from my body as if unwilling to part, and showed a gentle smile I have never seen before.
“Ringo-san might get mad at me for getting all the sweet parts.” (Mitsuki)
That smile, that way too sorrowless expression…stirred up my unease.
But Mitsuki was not stopping anymore.
“I will attract the Evil God Fragment.
That’s why, please advance after exactly 10 seconds of me going through the door.” (Mitsuki)
“Mitsuki! What are you sa—!” (Souma)
I must stop her.
Even though I thought that, my body couldn’t move freely.
And then…Sazan nodded by my side.
Mitsuki began walking as if relieved from the bottom of her heart.
“Wait! Something like that, I…” (Souma)
My shout didn’t reach Mitsuki.
“…I was really happy I met you.
That’s why…even if it is just you, please, survive.” (Mitsuki)
She disappeared to the other side of the door.
I tried to chase after that back of hers.
I whipped my dull body and tried to move forward…
“Let’s go.” (Sazan)
But the one who stopped my movements was Sazan.
He stopped me with his weak hand and pulled me to the opposite direction.
“Sazan, what are you saying?! Mitsuki has…Mitsuki will…” (Souma)
“There’s no point in chasing after her now… We are moving forward.” (Sazan)
“There’s no way I can just accept—!” (Souma)
My mouth stopped in the middle.
Because I noticed the stream of tears falling from on top of the mask.
“…Because…we have no choice but to move forward.” (Sazan)
I couldn’t say anything back at those words muttered in sadness.
…And then, 10 seconds pass.
The dullness in my body disappeared as if timed.
The door was opened.
There was no ambush from the Evil God.
I pulled the hand of Sazan and we went up the tower practically dragging him.
Sazan fell several times because he lacked speed, but he didn’t complain for a second.
After getting through the 5th Floor, we run to the 6th Floor, get through the 7th Floor, and we have now passed the 8th Floor.
“A bit more! Just a bit more! After 2 more floors, we will reach the magic circle—” (Souma)
The scream of Sazan.
The wall right beside us burst open.
Before I could see the dark red something, I picked up Sazan and jumped forward.
I can’t say I was as graceful as Mitsuki.
But I did it.
I jumped over the tentacles and rolled in front of the room to the 9th Floor.
I tried to enter the room before the tentacles began attacking and…
I noticed what the tentacles were holding.
“Souma? What are you doing?! At a moment like this…” (Sazan)
But I couldn’t hear him.
My vision concentrated on what was in front of me, and nothing else was entering my eyes.
And that fell on the ground…with a metallic sound.
Thin blade, splendid waves, a light katana that only two exist in this world.
The favored weapon of Mitsuki Hisame that she never let go of had been broken in two.
There’s no need to even ask what happened.
But my mouth strung words by itself.
“You…killed her?” (Souma)
The inside of my chest grew hot and my head grew proportionally cold with it.
The hot yet cold impulse was ravishing my whole body.
“Souma! You must not, Souma!” (Sazan)
I heard noise from my back.
But no heed.
I glared at the tentacles.
New tentacles crawled out from the wall.
Growing in number.
But that doesn’t matter.
“…I will kill you.” (Souma)
I have no weapon.
Shiranui was broken.
I doubt I will be able to harm this guy with any other weapon.
But that’s fine.
I just have to punch.
Fists don’t break.
With my current physical strength, I should be able to deal some damage.
That should be fine.
I can kill it with that.
Fists don’t break.
If the tentacles are in the way, the tentacles have to go first.
Then the arms, then the head…
And then, get to the core at the end…hit it hundreds or thousands, however many. Punch it, punch it, and continue until it dies.
I take a step towards the tentacles and—
I felt an impact from the side.
Having gotten hit unaware, I lost balance and rolled inside the room together with what jumped onto me.
We rolled on the floor and we stopped with me being the one below.
The door closed on its own and we couldn’t see the Evil God Fragment anymore.
“Why did you get in the way?” (Souma)
I just confirmed that and said that to the person on top of me, to Sazan.
Sazan didn’t say anything.
I raised my voice.
“That bastard killed my important people…it killed Mitsuki!
Ringo and Mitsuki…at a place like this…” (Souma)
Sazan didn’t say anything.
He simply silently raised his hand to his own face and…
Placed a hand on his own mask and took it off with force.
The face that showed up below was…
“You…that face…but…” (Souma)
I got flustered here and…
“Cooled down now?” (Sazan)
Sazan…the person who took off the mask said this.
“Remember what you should do.
Is going into a frenzy and getting revenge what you should be doing?
What is it you must do…what is it that you want to do the most?” (Sazan)
“That’s…to activate the magic circle and defeat the Evil God…” (Souma)
A face of Sazan I have never seen before.
A voice of Sazan I have never heard before.
“That’s not it. Remember the last words of Mitsuki.” (Sazan)
Sazan shook me as if clinging onto me…
“—You have a place you have to return to!!” (Sazan)
Those words pierced me.
“A place to return…” (Souma)
A warm place…the place I should be…
I still have a place to return, a place I want to return to.
I have what’s necessary already.
I also know the spells.
I should be able to return.
“There’s only a bit more left.
Just save the world already…
And return to the place where you should be.” (Sazan)
Sazan said this with a trembling voice and stood up.
And then, instead of the door we should be heading to, Sazan went to the door we entered from.
I couldn’t move.
“What are you doing? Go already.” (Sazan)
A bad feeling welled up in me at the serious tone.
“Go already. What are you going to do?” (Sazan)
“…I have things to do.” (Souma)
I realized with just that.
And I felt disgusted at myself for being able to.
“Don’t make such a face.” (Sazan)
“There’s no way I would go out of my way to just die, right? I have a real good plan.
An incredible plan that the Evil God Fragment will have to stop dry on its feet.” (Sazan)
Sazan said this and put up a brave front.
But I couldn’t stop Sazan.
Because I want to go back.
Even when looking at Sazan smiling with false bravado, I still want to go back.
That’s why, I said this with a raspy voice and walked off.
To the front.
To the opposite direction of Sazan who is facing the Evil God alone.
Just before I reached the door, the voice of Sazan stopped me.
I look back.
I wait for the words of Sazan.
But in the end, Sazan just shook his head weakly.
He bit his lips as if bottling up strong emotions and then…
“Souma, I hate you with all of my guts.” (Sazan)
With tears messing his face and pale lips, Sazan said this with a smile.
Managed to say it.
And then, that was the last.
Before I could burn that smile into my eyes, that coward yet brave guy turned around.
“…Souma, I have a single request.” (Sazan)
With his back still turned towards me, without showing me his face…
“…You definitely must not look back.” (Sazan)
We advanced through our respective paths.
Up up up.
A thunderous sound shook the tower.
The sound of big powers clashing.
But I won’t look back.
I just faced forward and continued climbing.
I don’t know what’s happening.
Even so, I told myself that Sazan is still alive as long as this sound continues and I moved forward.
I arrived at the 10th Floor.
At the same time as I opened the door, I ran to the magic circle.
“[Set]! [Set] [Set] [Set]!” (Souma)
I create a massive amount of mithril from the mithril chisel.
I don’t even have the time to put the chisel back.
I threw away the chisel after finishing with it and opened the Nekuranomikon at the center of the magic circle.
“The radical of magic, Souma, desires.
The guidance of the sublime mana, the realization of the never seen miracle…” (Souma)
In the game event, you needed to do a long incantation to activate the ritual.
Fortunately, the whole incantation was written in the Nekuranomikon.
There’s no worries of me making a mistake.
(Quick, quick, quick!!) (Souma)
But it is long.
Doing incantations was fun in the game, and yet, this was accelerating my impatience.
But the incantation was finally close to ending and…
“…And thus, here, with that power—?!” (Souma)
Air leaked out from deep within my throat.
The shaking and thunderous sounds of the tower are still continuing.
But a single one…
A single tentacle of the Evil God Fragment pierced the ground and came at me.
—I think of evading.
But that’s no good.
If I move here, all the preparations until now will be wasted.
There’s no time to redo the incantation again.
The tentacle approached.
I prepared myself for death as I chanted the last incantation…
At that moment, a yellow flash sped from inside my bag.
A plushie with no equal.
A reliable comrade that has been with us through thick and thin.
The Bear clashed against the tentacle with Wakizashi in hand.
A scream was about to come from my mouth.
The tentacle was intercepted by the Wakizashi that has the power of the Gouging Vajra, and the Bear was instead blown off to the corner of the room.
Its ear was torn off and the stuffing on the inside flew out.
The fallen body was not moving an inch.
Time was bought.
There’s nothing stopping the completion of the ritual anymore.
I was about to speak the last phrase of the incantation and…
Just for a moment.
I hesitated for just a brief instant.
What showed in my mind was the grotesque changed figure of Iaski.
Could it be that I will also…
(As if I care!!) (Souma)
I shake off my hesitation.
I shout the last phrase.
“Show that power here! Nekuranomikon!!” (Souma)
I completed the incantation.
The magic circle shone at the same time, turning into a light that covered this room…this whole city and…
I unsteadily move forward…
Putting my feet down, raising my body, and once that ended, my other leg.
If I move my legs together, see, I can still move my body properly.
“Bear…just a bit more.
Once it is over…I will heal you properly…” (Souma)
At the deep end of the magic circle’s room, I go up the stairs heading to the top floor while talking towards my own bag.
At the time when the light calmed down, what remained there was me and the Bear who was at the corner of the room.
I immediately ran there, but even when I called to the Bear who had lost one ear, it didn’t move at all.
This Bear really loves pranks.
I am sure it is trying to give me a good scare.
I put the Bear inside the bag and after leaving the magic circle’s room, I moved to the top floor.
The sound of wind blowing onto the tower.
The sound of my footsteps stepping onto the stairs.
And even the sound of my own heart.
I could hear all the sounds around me strangely clearly.
I wonder why? -is what I thought, and reached a conclusion.
“I see. That sound stopped.” (Souma)
The thunderous sounds that rang endlessly before finishing the ritual, the shaking of the tower, they were all gone now.
But that doesn’t matter anymore.
I reached the front of the door to the last floor, and pushed that door.
What was spreading before me was the exact scenery from the game.
A big bed and a big window that can oversee the whole city; the outside of the tower.
“I have to confirm…” (Souma)
I whipped my tired body and walked to the window.
Am I walking or am I fumbling my way? I can’t tell anymore.
However, I was being pushed by a sole sense of duty as I peeked outside the window.
Seeing that which entered my vision, that was the first thing that leaked out from my mouth.
What I could see from below the giant window was…an empty city and a curled up giant body.
The sight of the Evil God Fragment slowly turning into light particles and melting into the sky.
Maybe because I am seeing this from high up, or it might be because it has died; that Evil God Fragment that looked so big before seemed like one to two sizes smaller when seen from here.
“Haha…hahahaha! Won! We won!!” (Souma)
Cheers leaked out from my mouth.
Tears flowed out from my eyes from the happiness of victory.
I staggered away from the window and spun around.
I show my happiness with my whole body.
“We did it! We did!” (Souma)
In the end, even if it is called an Evil God, it is still just a monster with HP.
The Evil God Fragment has finally perished after having its power taken away by the forbidden ritual.
“This is the power of humans! This is our…” (Souma)
I raised both hands in order to show my overflowing happiness, and the next instant…
—My back exploded.
I rolled on the ground.
I couldn’t mitigate all the impact I received on my back, hitting my hands and legs countless times, and crashed onto the wall of the room at the end to finally halt to a stop.
Even though I was feeling good just now.
Even though I was on the verge…of forgetting about it.
The welling up anger made me not care about the point.
I supported myself with the bed at my side and tried to get up.
And then I saw it.
A giant crystal that shone ominously like blood.
A strong and giant arm broke and tore open the window.
A grotesque face and unfocused eyes.
And then, the countless tentacles stretching out.
“Evil God Fragment…?” (Souma)
I don’t get it.
Could it be that I am dreaming?
One of the nastiest nightmares out there.
“I have to wake up quickly…” (Souma)
I whip my weak body and raise my body.
I crawl onto the bed with strained effort.
A creaking sound reached my ears.
The Evil God Fragment is saying something.
But I couldn’t tell at all what it was saying.
No, this is a dream, so it can’t be helped that I can’t tell.
“Right. That’s right…” (Souma)
I bring out a pitch black ring from my bag with trembling hands.
The ring full of memories that I got from my friends in the Aken Manor.
I put it in my own finger.
I felt like I was closer to my friends like this somehow and it made me happy.
“What? Don’t get in my way.” (Souma)
And yet, that red and nasty guy was getting in the way.
It stretched its red dark tentacles and dropped something in front of me.
A bracelet with complex ornaments.
I have seen it somewhere before.
The annoying noise is not stopping.
I couldn’t arrange my thoughts because of it.
This is something important…a really important…
“…It hurts…I don’t…want this… Save me…”
The words of the Evil God were growing clearer.
The Evil God Fragment was asking to be saved.
I don’t get it.
This really is a dream.
“No. I actually…don’t wanna… Don’t leave me… I…I…please save…me…”
The moment I thought of this, I got the answer.
“…Save me, Souma!”
—This is the bracelet of Sazan.
“I see… Ahaha. Hahahaha!” (Souma)
I connected the dots.
There’s no way the Evil God would ask to be saved.
This is a message.
It is replicating the words of Sazan just before dying. A message that matches the nasty nature of the Evil God.
—“You must not look back.”
The last words of Sazan replayed in my mind for some reason.
My eyes burned hot.
I put the important bracelet of Sazan inside my bag.
I was overwhelmed with the desire to scream, but I didn’t know what to say, and ended up letting out a piercing laugh.
“Aha…ahaha! Ahahahahahaha!!” (Souma)
The laughing was overflowing from my mouth and wasn’t stopping.
It is making me go crazy.
So crazy, so crazy, I can’t even tell what’s crazy anymore.
The desire to laugh pushed on and on, and I couldn’t stop.
“Haha! Hahaha! Ahahahahahahaha!!” (Souma)
So crazy, so crazy, to the point that I can’t tell if it is the world or myself that is crazy.
But I can tell…
“…It is over already.” (Souma)
There’s nothing in this world anymore.
Everything has been broken and disappeared.
There’s not even a fragment of hope here.
Everything was changed into despair by this guy, this Evil God.
“It is over…” (Souma)
At that moment, I decided to truly abandon this world.
I have no lingering attachments anymore, so I don’t care if it doesn’t go well.
Rather than living in this done world, I would prefer failing and dying.
“I am going back.” (Souma)
I will go back.
To that peaceful place, the place where I should be…
“Have you…gone mad?”
The cracking sound stirred my ears.
But I didn’t answer.
However, I touched the black ring with a trembling hand, and looked at the monstrosity that was looking at me.
This will be the last thing I see in this world, so I burned that grotesque figure into both of my eyes…
The incantation to escape this world.
The incantation to part from this world.
The incantation to abandon this world.
The spell of sleep wrapped me up.
Heat escapes from my body, growing heavy.
I could see the dark red flesh whips rushing onto me in my thinning vision.
But that was a bit too late.
An instant before death got me, my body fell onto the bed.
My consciousness sank and the scenery blacked out.
The event trigger that should have been erased from the patch was flipped and everything reversed silently.
The world closed and flipped around.
The flow of time reversed and the needles of fate moved counter-clockwise.
The fallen water returned to its glass, and the rocks rolling down the mountain climbed up.
The world rewinded as a whole and…
“Dis Aster. I won’t forget you. I will definitely…”
—And it all changed into a midsummer dream.
The familiar voice hitting my ears brought my consciousness back.
What I recognized first when I opened my eyes reflexively was the figure of the stereotype mage in a fantasy world, Iaski.
A sight that should be, but at the same time feels unreal.
This is deep in the Mage Guild, and I am currently receiving the Baptism Ceremony -is what the calm side of my brain told me.
My instincts were recoiling at that fact before my calm judgment could take over.
I unconsciously faltered and moved away.
The one who helped me there was the voice of a girl.
When I looked back at that voice, what came into my eyes was a vibrant sky-blue color.
The figure of my irreplaceable comrade that I have spent the most time out of everyone in this world.
Even though that should be the case, I wonder why…that figure of hers that I longed for more than anything…blurred…fazed…and I couldn’t see it clearly.
The blue girl ran to me within my blurred vision, and looked at me in wonder.
That innocent gesture of hers was unbearably nostalgic. I found it endearing, and…
Unable to bear it, something hot flowed down my cheek.
It flowed without stopping, and blurred my vision even further.
I hugged the slender body in front of me instead.
“…Souma, you are crying?” (Ringo)
I don’t know how I answered the question.
But fragmented words leaked out from me together with sobbing.
“I…am back… I have come…back…!” (Souma)
The blue hair in my arms tilted forward and a thin hand stretched towards me.
Those white fingers brushed my cheek gently, and she smiled awkwardly, but with her best.
“…Welcome back, Souma.” (Ringo)