Ekdoik and Wolfe also safely reached the answer, and we finally began to act for the solution -is what I want to say, but we need to lay the groundwork first.
Ekdoik is jumping around places for the sake of this.
I was a bit free at that time, so I brought Ilias and Wolfe with me to sightsee the cityscape of Kuama.
Because of all that happened, I didn’t get a proper look at the city of Kuama, so this is a good opportunity.
There’s a lot of adventurer-looking people compared to Taizu, moreover, the ratio of demi-humans is on a whole other realm.
It is only after seeing these differences that I can understand the reason why Marito said Taizu is an uptight country.
Guilds have no influence in Taizu, so there’s no workplace that easily accepts demi-humans.
Because of that, the demi-humans that are affiliated with Shunait, which is the only one that has spread its roots in Taizu, just pretend to respect Taizu but keep their distance.
There’s other reasons as to why they would want to avoid Taizu. It is because of the adjoined Nether.
I have heard demi-humans are daring towards humans, but cowardly towards Demon Lords.
The Mejis Nether and Taizu Nether’s danger levels are high even within those, so they may be places that the demi-humans instinctively try to avoid.
“There’s a lot of demi-humans in Kuama. It would be nice if Taizu were to become closer to demi-humans soon.” (Ilias)
“Marito and the black wolfkins should become a good trigger in those fronts.”
“Right. I am sure His Majesty will be able to accomplish it.” (Ilias)
And so, we arrive at the top centerpiece located in the plaza: the Hero Index.
There’s a big stone monument in the middle of the undecorated plaza. This must be it, I guess.
The letters carved on the stone monument talk in a really long-winded manner about how Yugura appeared in this land in the past, attacked the Nether with breakneck speed, and defeated Blue.
“I can see the memories of Yugura if I touch this?”
I try touching it all over, but there’s no notable change.
“You most likely have to touch it while sending your mana to it.” (Ilias)
“I don’t have mana though.”
“Right. Then, please keep your hand there.” (Ilias)
Ilias puts her hand on top of my hand that’s on the stone monument.
And then, the moment I felt a faint hot sensation flowing into me, my vision changed from the plaza to a wasteland.
What was around us were countless undead. There’s even some armed ones.
I thought I raised my voice there lightly, but no voice came out.
No, I should be able to talk, but there’s no sound coming out.
Wolfe, who should have been beside me, is not there, but Ilias is.
Maybe it is because it reacted to the same mana…? This place is similar to the simulated worlds of Gold. No, it is a slightly inferior version.
It is apparently possible to move, but there’s the possibility of crashing onto Wolfe who I can’t see.
“Now then, ready?”
When I looked back, there was a single man there.
Slightly long black hair, black eyes, and a peaceful and decent face that has Japanese features.
Seems to be in the middle of his twenties, and his attire is a comfortable robe that’s mainly white.
This guy is Yugura Nariya; an otherworlder from Earth just like me.
He looks more like a mage despite being called a hero… Well, his weapon is a sword though.
Yugura has already become the White Demon Lord. That must be why he is in white attire.
“Yugura, preparations are ready.”
I hear a familiar voice. It is the Colorless bastard.
But he was nowhere in sight even when I looked around. He does give the vibe that he hid from the very beginning.
I returned my gaze to Yugura and he showed up in all my face.
And then, his body phased through my body just like that.
I hurriedly looked back and the whole horde of undead were smashed to pieces and flying in the air.
The undead corpses turned to dust before reaching the ground.
I was watching this and, by the time I noticed, there wasn’t a single undead left from the countless there were.
It is most likely similar to the wide range sweeping strike of Ilias, but I didn’t see any charging motions.
I didn’t put on my Superhuman Glasses, but the result most likely wouldn’t have changed even if I did.
There’s no doubt Yugura has equal or superior strength than the powerhouses of this world.
Yugura mumbled something at the end.
I wondered what he said for a moment there, but it was a language I am used to hearing; that’s right, it was Japanese.
The moment I tried to understand the meaning, the scenery returned to that of the plaza.
“…Did you manage to see it?”
“…Yeah, that was shocking strength.” (Ilias)
The face of Ilias was telling me clearly that what she witnessed was beyond her imagination.
It seems like the strength of Yugura is within a realm worthy of awe even for the current Ilias.
“So it is to the point that even you think that, huh.”
“We may be on the same level in terms of physical strength, but the amount of mana he has and the way he uses it is way too different. Mana strengthening, the wide area shockwave, the addition of purification magic; he did all of those in one breath.” (Ilias)
“I can tell that sounds impressive, but it doesn’t click with me.”
“Would it make more sense if I said he has the physical strength and mana amount of Wolfe, the magic casting speed of Rakura, and the ability to cast multiple spells at once like Ekdoik?” (Ilias)
“I see. That’s a monster.”
“I saw quite the surplus in him. What we saw just now wasn’t his full power.” (Ilias)
Even though we are both Earthlings. That’s not fair.
If he can fight that much, just how would things have been in my place?
“Shishou~! Yugura is strong, isn’t he?!” (Wolfe)
Wolfe must have tried the Hero Index too and saw that scene, she is very excited here.
Most people would have their hearts broken from the difference in strength, but Wolfe here is burning with motivation.
“It is true that he is strong, but…that feels like it is of a different kind.”
“Yeah, it is different from strength trained with steady effort.”
“You can tell that?” (Ilias)
“We are from the same planet, you know? I am aware of the limit of our specs.”
Athletes, martial artists, soldiers; as someone who has observed people in those professions, the way Yugura carried himself wasn’t like that of people who have trained their bodies.
If he is a human from around 100 years in the past, he might have military experience from the 1st World War, but he doesn’t give me the impression that he is a true and tried soldier.
If a human like that were to move just as he did just now, his name would have remained in history as a legendary sniper.
Can you reach that realm if you become a demon or Demon Lord? Well, I don’t want to though.
If I were to just get power like that all of a sudden, it would go beyond halving the fun of life.
I am the type that doesn’t overlevel in games and enjoys the appropriate difficulty.
I have also done self-imposed restrictions often. My current situation is pretty restrictive too…
“If he came to this world in your same state and obtained that much power, that certainly might be the case. By the way, it seemed like he mumbled something at the end. Could it be that that was in your planet’s language?” (Ilias)
“Yeah, it was Japanese. It seems like Yugura left a message, not only to the adventurers, but also to compatriots that come to this world.”
“What did he say?” (Ilias)
“‘From here onwards, you have to throw away even your humanity. If you want to live in this world, be satisfied with just this’ -is what he said.”
“What does he mean by that?” (Ilias)
“The fate of the people that obtain unrivaled power is loneliness. Yugura gave a warning to keep it moderate.”
Yugura is trying to put a hand on what lies further beyond even what he has shown.
Judging from what the Colorless Demon Lord said about him having been killed by a God, there’s no doubt about it.
I certainly wouldn’t want to get involved with a being like that. I don’t plan on becoming a mythological being or something.
“So that’s what it was. It must be difficult to even imagine a scenery like that.” (Ilias)
“Well, we have been shown a rare mistake, so it was worth coming here. Let’s take our time and meet up with Rakura and Mix.”
Should we have lunch first, or should we do so after regrouping?
Ilias and Wolfe don’t know much about the stores of Kuama, so it would be better to rely on Mix.
“I will ask just in case, but do you two know a good deal about the eateries here?”
The two of them shake their heads to the sides. In that case, it really would be better to rely on Mix.
Her voice gets louder when I rely too much on her, so I would like to keep it moderate, but I just can’t give up the allure of the Mix quality which is comfort and reliability.
“Excuse me, can you lend me a bit of your time?”
A girl spoke to us when we were about to leave the plaza.
It is the girl that was sitting alone the moment we arrived in the plaza. Her attire is that of a priestess of the Yugura Church just like Rakura.
She is around the same age as Rakura. Judging from her face, she is the type of person that overflows with energy.
“Is something the matter?”
“If you are searching for a place to eat, I have a place I would recommend. Shall I guide you?”
“That’s a great invitation. What should we do?” (Ilias)
Hmm, don’t really know what to expect from this but…
“That would be a great help. Please do.”
“Alright. Ah, forgive the belated introduction. My name is Masetta Noitch.”
I lost completely to Rakura.
Rakura made me grovel on the ground, but she yawned as if bored and didn’t look at me.
Are you telling me that’s how much of a difference there was? There must have been.
Even Archbishops can’t readily use the technique of slicing with barriers.
Moreover, she pulled that off in an instant. With how nonchalantly I was shown the overwhelming difference in skills, I couldn’t even feel the reality of it.
With that much talent, I can understand the reason why Ukka-sama recommended her.
But it is as if she is completely useless in everything aside from battle.
I doubt her continuous failures were an act. There’s no way she would cause damage to the Grand Church just for an act.
I bite my lips and the taste of blood spreads in my mouth faintly.
I lost completely. But I don’t want to admit I am inferior to Rakura.
The pride that there’s more things I win against her continues to bring me shame.
The treatment I get in Morgana has not changed one bit. There’s no doubt Litial-sama expected me to lose from the very beginning.
I was a prisoner to my own personal emotions and lost without being able to see the difference in skills. He could have lowered my rank there.
Even so, he still maintained it like that, so that means Rakura has been acknowledged as someone above that.
Rakura is standing beyond the place I have arrived at.
That’s so mortifying, so so mortifying, it is unbearable.
But I have no means to clear those grievances on Rakura.
There might some if I don’t care for the means, but there’s Mix Taizu by her side.
There’s no one who doesn’t know her skills if you are a Rank 2. She is not someone you can make an enemy of even by mistake.
I must think of an attack point.
I have to learn more about Rakura in order to achieve this.
How do I get information about her? I must avoid them getting wary of me.
I stood up and was about to leave the plaza, but a group of a man and 2 women entered my vision.
The fact that they are by the side of the Hero Index must mean that they are either tourists that came to Kuama or adventurers… The man looks extremely weak, but I can tell the other two are pretty strong.
The knight barely has any openings, and the mana I can feel is polished to a level where I would unconsciously get on guard.
As for the demi-human…what’s with that mana? The only one whom I haven’t been able to see the bottom of their mana pool is the Yugura-sama shown in the Hero Index…
She is a face I don’t see often in Kuama, but there’s no doubt they are powerhouses from a foreign country.
“So that’s what it was. It must be difficult to even imagine a scenery like that.”
“Well, we have been shown a rare mistake, so it was worth coming here. Let’s take our time and meet up with Rakura and Mix.”
What did they say just now? Rakura and Mix?
Are these 3 acquaintances of those 2?
This might be a godsend. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain information about Rakura.
I spoke to them and introduced them to the place I frequent.
There were two tables open for pairs and the man that seemed to be their leader ended up sitting with me.
The knight at the seat behind him is wary of her surroundings at all times even in this situation.
Even if I were to try to do something to this man, her sword would enter in between us before my hand could reach.
Of course, it is not like I would try to harm a complete stranger. This is just an hypothetical.
The man is eating with good etiquette.
His way of speaking is also gentle and polite. It even makes me wonder whether he is actually an acquaintance of Rakura.
“Whew, that was tasty. Thank you very much, Masetta-san.”
“This is an establishment I frequent, so I am happy you have taken a liking to it.” (Masetta)
“I see. It feels good to have the thing you like be acknowledged after all. It would be great if I could thank you in some way though…”
“I have been in Kuama for long, you see. I am satisfied with being able to talk with someone from the outside like this.” (Masetta)
It doesn’t seem like we have started on the wrong foot here, but how should I open up the topic?
If I were to ask in a way too forward manner, they would suspect and shun me.
Rakura is a cleric like me. In that case, I just have to lead the conversation to the fact that he has a cleric by his side too.
Not bad. Let’s go with that method.
I decided on my plan and just when I was about to talk to him, I suddenly felt something off from his eyes.
There’s something different. Even though I don’t feel any change at all in his mana, it is as if my instincts were warning me here.
“It is about Rakura, isn’t it?”
“You are wearing the same priestess clothes, so you would be able to get that by just thinking about it for a bit.”
…Right. That’s exactly right.
Me and Rakura are wearing the same priestess clothes of the Yugura Church.
It wouldn’t be strange for him to be able to tell that I am connected to Rakura in some way.
Let’s stay calm here. He threw the topic to me, so this works just fine for me.
“Y-Yeah, I was a classmate of Rakura, so when you mentioned her name just before, I got nostalgic and ended up speaking—” (Masetta)
“And so you want to learn the weakness of Rakura?”
“?! What are you saying—” (Masetta)
“Masetta-san’s eyes and way of stiffening your shoulders when I mentioned the name of Rakura told me a general idea of the relationship between you two. You must have been the type that didn’t put any stops in your efforts. In the eyes of someone like you, Rakura must have been an eyesore a lot of times. If you are a classmate of Rakura, you must be burning with jealousy and antagonism because she became a priestess before you.”
What’s with this person?
Does he know about me?
No, there’s no lies at all in the words of this person.
“The fact that you went out of your way to obtain information at this point in time must mean that you had the opportunity to make contact with her recently, right? In that case, you must be a guild member of Morgana, Masetta-san. Are you Rank 2? Rakura has once again stepped into the new sanctuary you built up, so your past grudges must have welled up again…or something like that?”
“…Did you hear that from Rakura?” (Masetta)
“No. I did hear that Rakura had become a Rank 2 of Morgana, but nothing aside from that. I didn’t hear a single word about Masetta-san from her.”
He didn’t lie there. This man understood me in just this instant.
It is not only that. It is exactly because she knows Rakura well that he can compare her to me and theorize.
“There was an entrance exam in Morgana, right? Rakura prefers actual combat, so you were her opponent? …It seems that’s the case.”
“Just who in the world are you…?” (Masetta)
“No need to worry about the small details, and no need to put up your guard. Even if I have understood your intention, it is not like I will do something. That’s if you don’t do anything, that is.”
“…I see.” (Masetta)
I mistook who to take on. He is not someone I can match.
This is not about combat technique or anything like that. He has simply seen through me in the pure sense of the word.
Would you be able to see through this much with someone you met for the first time with just the few hints available?
No, even if you had the intelligence to pull that off, it wouldn’t be possible to see through my feelings as well.
I should withdraw here obediently. There’s nothing I can get from facing this person.
But he continued speaking to me, most likely because he saw through the fact that I wanted to withdraw.
“Since the opportunity has been presented, let’s talk for a bit. Your gripes are simply you seeing Rakura as your enemy by yourself. You arbitrarily saw Rakura as below you, and tasted humiliation for the gap created. Those feelings must have been exacerbated because of the defeat in the recent duel.”
“Arbitrarily, huh.” (Masetta)
“Rakura is fatally bad when it comes to general duties after all. If you just look at that, you can end up feeling a sense of superiority and bask in it. But that’s the mistake you yourself perpetrated. You lost to that sense of superiority, and didn’t try to talk or look at Rakura. If you had talked to her, you would have been able to learn that Rakura is also clumsy even in her heart; if you had looked at her, you would have been able to understand the strength of Rakura.”
Past memories resurfaced in my mind.
There’s barely any memories of me talking to Rakura or looking at her.
What did I do after meeting her for the first time and after I saw her continuous failures?
I treated her as if she didn’t exist.
“Defects can become strong points as well. You managed to put effort in a lot of things, but Rakura is clumsy and could only put her efforts in one thing. In the shadows of your unrelenting hard work, there was Rakura working hard on one thing alone. But if you switch your way of seeing this, it also means that Rakura poured her everything in one point. That’s a domain you can’t reach. It was a foregone conclusion that you would lose to Rakura in battle. You holding a grudge for this is your own arbitrary conclusion, isn’t it?”
Self-deprecation slowly crept up from deep in my heart.
I thought I had lived upright as a priestess and as a person.
But I certainly did look down on Rakura just as he said.
And then, when Rakura got ahead of me and I lost completely to her, I fumed all on my own.
I can’t argue with anything he said.
“But you are great person, Masetta-san.”
“If we were to see your actions towards Rakura in a vacuum, then yeah, I can’t say you are good. But what about the other things? Are you the type of person that is ashamed of every action you have taken?”
“When you look at Rakura without understanding her, she would only look slovenly. If you were to lose to that vision of Rakura you have, it would mean denying the point and worth of all your hard work until now. The antagonism you feel is anger towards the unjust treatment of your hard work and worth…no, this includes even your peers. You are a pure and straightforward person. There’s no need to feel shame in that.”
“It is just that your past self was a bit narrow minded. Because of this, you have been enslaved in your own narrow vision even as of present. Try taking a deep breath and calm down. Do you think you really are below Rakura as a priestess and as an adventurer?”
Rakura became a priestess before me.
She became a Rank 2 adventurer more easily than me.
But that’s just a special case because her battle prowess is beyond outstanding.
I am sure I would be able to perform my job as a priestess better than her.
I also have far more experience as an adventurer than her.
“You win against Rakura in almost everything else, so there’s no need to go out of your way and concentrate on just the few points that you lose on. The story would be different if Masetta-san is a battle junkie that has poured her whole life into combat though.”
“I-I am not a dangerous person like that…” (Masetta)
“That’s right. You simply jump to conclusions too soon, but I think you are an incredibly appealing individual.”
He enveloped my hand with both of his.
The strange fear I felt before is not there anymore; they are the eyes of a gentle young man.
“Masetta-san, you held a lot of strong points and learned of your own faults. You can put effort and reflect, too. You should walk forward rather than staying in place. I am sure what you want to accomplish is awaiting you in your future, and I am sure you will be able to accomplish it.”
He saw through my antagonism towards his comrade, and not only did he not chide me, he acknowledged me.
I don’t remember much about what happened afterwards. By the time I noticed, we had parted ways and I was on my way back.
What I can say is that my jealousy and hatred towards Rakura inside my heart had dried and turned seedy.
I already have no insistent rage towards Rakura, but I do feel like I want to try understanding Rakura in a different way.
I want to believe in his words. That’s right, that person…
“…Wait, I didn’t get that person’s name?” (Masetta)