Crackling, it burns like a campfire, it is the house we lived in.
People begin gathering around the house.
As soon as possible, I have to take Maria and get away from here.
I have no lingering attachments to the burning house. I simply need to act fast.
That’s all it should be……, but the girls before me cause me to hesitate
Maria looks at us with vacant eyes. And, right beside her is Alty with half her body in flames. Neither of them are in a state of being easily approachable.
But, staying petrified like this won’t solve anything.
I take a step forward, and I call out to Maria who is standing before the blazing house.
「I returned, Maria……. Let’s go. For the time being, we have to get away from here…… 」
Right now it’s a battle against time. That’s why, I first urge her to move.
But after hearing that, with vacant eyes, a quiet mutter comes from Maria.
「With this it’s mine……. Mine forever……. What’s left is for Master……――」
That’s not a response that comprehended my words. While muttering, Maria glares at us. And so, as she tries to move her legs forward, the girl besides her, Alty, stops her.
Alty whispers something to Maria. And then, obediently, Maria lowers her head.
Judging that the problem is Alty, I direct my attention not to Maria but to Alty.
In response to my gaze, Alty answers with a smile.
「――Welcome, searcher Sieg. This is, this here is the tenth floor. The floor of Alty the one who stole the natural law of fire. As it’s a business trip, pardon me for the hasty construction, but it’s not a problem to think of the top of this hill as the labyrinths tenth floor. And so, although long overdue, I thought of having you undertake the 『Tenth Trial』」
While answering, Alty gives an exaggerated welcome.
Those gestures, remind me of a certain Guardian. The same smile and behavior as the unreasonably selfish Teeda.
「Alty. You……, you did it?」
「That’s right. I instigated Maria, dragged her in, and made a situation advantageous for me」
The moment that Alty affirms, I felt a falling sensation as if heaven and earth had inverted.
Somewhere inside of me, I must have depended on Alty. That’s why, being betrayed like this, gave me an unexpected shock.
I shout and pull out my beloved sword from 『Items』.
「That can’t be! Alty, why!? Alty’s a monster but, but even then, we talked! I thought we came to an understanding! In the end, are you also an enemy just like Teeda, Alty――!!」
While shouting, I draw closer to Alty.
「Aah, the same as Teeda. But, is it fine to carelessly approach?」
Alty points to my back.
To be lured by the enemy into looking behind, I’m not that foolish. With the enemy in front, looking away is unquestionable. However, through my magic’s specialty, I’m able to confirm something odd behind me.
And, I lose my breath at the disaster occurring behind.
「Apostle Sith. Your not needed――！」
With those words, Palinchlon cuts Dia’s body from bottom to top.
Fresh blood spills out, Radiant-san and Lastiara’s clothes are dyed red.
Most likely, Dia showed her will to fight and tried firing magic at Alty. Palinchlon who stood beside her saw that, and cut the defenseless Dia.
Among us it’s only Dia who isn’t informed on Palinchlon. Not knowing of that chaotic disposition, she had no guard whatsoever towards him. It’s because of that.
And so, with the returning katana, Palinchlon goes to cut off Dia’s neck. However, Hein-san who’s nearby stops that with his sword. And, having suddenly understood the situation, Radiant-san takes a large leap in order to move away with Dia and Lastiara on her back.
Having avoided the worst scenario relieved me.
But, because Hein-san cut in with an unreasonable posture, the shock his sword received transfers into his body. Seeing that opening Palinchlon mercilessly swings his sword horizontally, and tears into Hein-san’s side.
It’s then that I finally make it back, and I ready myself as I step in between Palichlon and Hein-san.
Palinchlon laughs at my desperation.
「Fufuu, Brother Sieg’s opponent isn’t me. Didn’t you hear? From now on, Brother is going to take that Guardian’s Trial. So for the time being, I’ll be playing with the lord and the rest」
「You belong here, Sieg. ――『Flame Arrow』」
Alty fires a flame arrow. I twist my body in order to dodge.
I shift my focus, and there is Alty and Maria looking only at me with eyes dyed in madness.
Right now I have to calm down and analyze the situation.
To put it plainly Alty and Palinchlon are the enemies. And, there’s a high possibility that the manipulated Maria is also an opponent.
In comparison we are five people. However, almost everyone is exhausted, or even seriously injured.
Lastiara is left with little MP due to the ceremony’s effects, her condition is the worst. She can barely even move.
Dia lost too much blood from that last attack, and her conscience might be gone. Lastiara who is next to her is chanting to muster up her restoration magic, but the magic’s light is weak, and its effectiveness is poor.
Hein-san also can’t fight anymore than this. Today, Hein-san is definitely the one who had the most battles. The wound he received from Palinchlon’s cut is shallow, but he had reached the limits of his abused body.
It’s only Radiant-san who hasn’t received any serious damage. The limbs that were cut by me had already finished restoring. If I lend her a sword from 『Items』 then she’d probably become a fighting force. However, if I do that then the two riding on her back would be defenseless.
With the end of my analysis, I raise my voice.
「―― Radiant-san, please take the two and run! Lastiara will continue looking after Dia! Hein-san go along with them as a guard! I’ll be fine here by myself!!」
If something happens to Dia and Lastiara here, then everything would be meaningless. For now I prioritize having the two get far away from here.
「Wh!? Sieg, I’ll also fight!! ――Kuu!」
Lastiara shouts while using restoration magic on Dia. However, after shouting, she immediately sways as she presses her head. No matter how I see it, I can’t believe she’d be able to fight. Honestly, just them being here would get in the way. If Palinchlon takes them hostage then the situation would become the worst.
Hein-san makes a face as if he swallowed a bitter bug, and while glaring at Palinchlon he runs in Radiant-san’s direction.
Radiant-san meets my eyes with a sharp gaze, and lowers her head. She must’ve analyzed the situation in the same way as me. Adding Hein-san on her back, she runs in order to get away.
「Sera! Wait, don’t leave Sieg behind! SeraAAAAA―――!!」
Ignoring Lastiara’s words, Radiant-san runs away from the hill.
And so, only I remained surrounded by enemies.
Palinchlon who saw that takes on a stance of admiration. And, he intimately talks to Alty.
「A swift decision. And as close to a correct answer as possible. ……Sister Alty, I’ll chase after those four, will you be fine over here. Without me the Valt soldiers won’t move」
「Aah, that’s fine」
「Then, I’ll be going」
Just as he said, Palinchlon runs off in the direction Radiant-san left.
Alty indifferently sees him off. I also see him off.
Like this, only three people remained. Alty, Maria, and me. Alty also confirms that―― and snaps her fingers.
At the same time the blazing flames grow stronger, the fire jumps all over, and the hill is engulfed in flames. That scene is just like the one in the labyrinth’s tenth floor. There are enough flames in the surroundings to agree with what Alty said about 「This being the tenth floor」.
「Then, let’s begin…… To fulfill my dearest wish…….」
With a mysterious look, Alty muttered.
I 『Observe』 the two, and prepare for the beginning.
【Tenth Guardian】The One Who Stole The Natural Law Of Fire
Name: Maria HP107/122 MP855/132+723 Class:Slave
Strength4.48 Vitality4.02 Dexterity2.96 Agility2.37 Intelligence3.97 Magic6.89+34.23 Potential1.52
Conditions : Mental Contamination1.98 Confusion3.42 Memory Defect0.78
Innate Skills : Insight1.50
Acquired Skills : Hunting0.68 Cooking1.08 Flame magic1.52+2.00
At the same time I gather information on the surroundings.
I confirm that there’s nowhere to run to in the flame covered hill.
If possible, I wanted to take Maria and run after Radiant-san. However, escaping would be difficult without defeating the Guardian before me. Above all, from what I saw on Maria’s 『Conditions』, it doesn’t look like she will obediently follow along.
Glaring at the enemy that is Alty, I make my last confirmation.
「Alty, is this your wish…… ?」
「Aah, 『Here』 is, 『This』 is my dearest wish 」
Alty spreads both hands with that.
This situation―― this disastrous scene is her dearest wish…… ?
「Killing me, that’s your dearest wish……. Was 『Fulfillment of Love』 a lie, have you been deceiving me all along…… !」
「No, 『Fulfillment of Love』 isn’t a lie. I didn’t plan on deceiving you. If Maria’s love was realized, then certainly, I would’ve lost my power and vanished. Therefore, however this turns out―― today, here, I will vanish」
Alty indifferently informs me that she will die.
I couldn’t hide my trembling at that declaration, and I’m hit with doubt.
「Then, why!? What are you trying to do, what are you trying to say, I don’t understand a thing! What do you want from me……!!」
Before the monster who does not loath death, I couldn’t help but be angry.
「I want a 『Fulfillment of love』―― to grant Maria’s 『Blighted Love』」
「『Blighted Love』…… ?」
Alty corrected love to 『Blighted Love』. However, I couldn’t tell the difference.
「Maria’s love is a 『Blighted Love』. A love whose sorrowful end has been decided. We understood that with our 『Eye』. I want to grant that 『Blighted Love』. If I don’t grant it, then even if I die I wouldn’t die」
Alty politely explains. But, even then I didn’t understand.
I couldn’t think of that as a reason to go this far.
「I don’t understand…… ! I don’t understand what you’re saying……!!」
「Because your love was torn will you resign? Because it’s a love without hope will you give up? Impossible. Love is not such thing. Love is something unhelpable, something that drives you mad. If it cannot be reached then there’s no meaning in living. Therefore a lovers suicide. To take it even if there’s a need to kill. Not being able to choose the method, not being sane. That is, that is what, a 『Blighted Love』, a true love is――!!」
An abnormal love, Alty asserts that as the truth.
Alty’s expression makes a sudden change while speaking. The indifference she had until now collapses, and her face warps as if spitting out the passion that is inside of her.
That vigor causes me to take a step back.
To the me who retreated, Alty continues her words.
「Maria has the qualifications to fulfill a blighted love. More than anyone…… 」
While stroking Maria’s head, Alty’s expression changes into a gentle one.
From the manner of those gentle strokes, I understood that she cares for Maria.
Without a doubt, Alty sympathizes with Maria above anyone else. That’s what I perceived.
「That’s why, Sieg. Today, here, you will become Maria’s. Even if, it’s becoming hers through death together, I will be glad and that will fulfill me. …… And, I will vanish. Even if, all three of us die here, I am fine with that!!」
And so, Alty clearly informs me.
She will make me Maria’s. This is a trial with such a goal. For that sake, this stage was arranged.
「For, for that…… ? You toyed with Maria, for something like that……!?」
I didn’t want to acknowledge it. Alty’s goal, the method, the stage, I didn’t want to acknowledge any of it. Above all, the current me can’t permit anyone’s heart begin toyed with no matter the reason. And the methods of that Alty, are exactly that.
「For that…… ? That’s right, for that! The me when I was alive couldn’t even do that! That is, very regretful! Even if I tear off my throat, or rip open my chest, this regret that’s driving me mad, it continues to torment me! At that time, I couldn’t do anything, I was left behind! My loved one, to some unknown place, with some unknown person, they surely became happy! That is, something I will regret until I die! A regret until I die, a regret after I die! That’s why, I will fulfill it! Through Maria, this time, I’ll also grant my blighted love!!」
Alty’s flames ferociously burn, they express the emotions inside of her.
「You dragged Maria in for such selfish reasons! Settle it yourself! That type of thing, is no reason to toy with another’s heart!!」
Whatever emotions lurk inside of Alty, they have no relation to Maria. And Alty who’s dealing with those emotions through Maria, is something I can’t approve.
I look at Maria. She looks at the ground with vacant eyes, and continues muttering words that don’t come out.
Like the skill 『???』, actions that fiddles with the heart is something I absolutely cannot allow――！
「I, only made Maria’s heart honest. This is the truth. I’ll teach you her true wish, the flames of her true love. This is its correct form!」
「And I’m saying that’s toying with it. It’s not normal for people to always be honest!」
The discussion has already ended. At this point, it’s simply a quarrel.
Alty and me, while denying each other, the emotions inside our bodies change into magic power as we begin constructing magic. We both understood that a battle is unavoidable.
And so, the one who finished their magic first was me.
While thrusting my sword, I fire magic.
Even with the part I was stingy with during during Lastiara’s rescue, I use all the power in my body.
A true magic winter.
I deploy freezing magic throughout the hill that is covered in flames, and deploy dimension magic in the radius of my sword. Constructing two magic circles, a magical snow. begins falling in the hill of raging flames.
In the world of flames, a world of winter is layered on――
「As expected, as expected! You and Teeda are the same. You’re an enemy, Alty! ―― Magic 《Dimension Gradient》, Magic 《Di Winter》!! 」
In response, a calm flame overflows from Alty’s hand and begins wrapping Maria up. It doesn’t resemble red, blue, or even yellow, a flame pillar that shines like in a fairy tale rises above the two’s head. The flame that rose up falls from the sky, and a flaming snow descends.
「Sieg! You remind me of the past, of a thousand years ago! That face, it reminds me of a time before! I will defeat you, and finally my blighted love will be fulfilled! ―― Magic 《Flame Gradient》, Magic 《In Cadence Blaze》(Scorching world)!!」
A red and white snow falls upon the world.
They resemble each other. Strangely, the mysteries of the magics seem to be of the same kind.
I don’t know the reason for that. I can’t think of it as a coincidence, but this isn’t a situation to consider it.
I don’t know the reason for that. I can’t think of it as a coincidence, but this isn’t a situation to worry about it.
I feel danger from the heat radiating from the enemy, strengthening my caution I use 《Di Winter》 in order to obstruct the flame magic. However, it had no meaning due to Alty’s vast magic power.
While clad in her blazing flames, Alty whispers to Maria.
「Now, get up. Maria-chan, just a little more and your love will be granted. You will become happy」
Maria slowly raises her hung head, and looks over here. They are vacant eyes. Worse than the time when she was a slave. Eyes that are despairing at everything.
And I glare at Alty the one who caused that.
Alty glares in return, and declares the start of the battle.
「Here we go, Sieg(Hero). Until death, you will regret not choosing Maria(the girl)――！」
「As if, monster. Regret alone, and vanish alone――！」
With that as the signal, I break into a run.
―― The 『Tenth Trial』 of the 『One who stole the Natural Law of Fire』 began.