While running, I carry out a simulation of the battle.
My aim is one. To slay the monster that goes by the name of Alty.
Without killing Alty, there is no escape. Alty is resolved to die. So she won’t stop until she dies.
Different from the battle with Hein-san, I won’t hesitate to kill her. I have no intention to help someone who wants to die. And that applies even more so for someone who is trying to force a double suicide.
My conscience hurts, I regret that choice―― but even then, I will kill her.
Alty jumps backwards in response. And swallowed by the surroundings flames, the flames compress
What that actions showed is the difference between Alty 『The One Who Stole The Natural Law Of Fire』 and Teeda『The One Who Stole The Natural Law Of Darkness』, that she doesn’t excel at close quarter combat. Seeing those movements makes me feel that there’s a high chance of victory.
If the chance of victory wasn’t high, then I wouldn’t have remained alone. I have confidence. And with the confidence from having rescued Lastiara, I gained some mental leeway.
And with that conceit, I will show that I can help Maria.
Slaying Alty, and returning Maria’s sanity. Fortunately, there’s the previous case of Maria’s confusion being suppressed by the cold.
I run full speed to close the distance with Alty――
However, Maria attacks with a flame sword in hand, and my legs are stop.
The compact flame sword and my own sword lock. As the heat burns my hand, the flame sword begins changing its shape in order to hit.
I complain as I take distance from Maria.
「Maria, don’t get in the way! Don’t be led astray, those emotions are a lie! It was all manipulated by that monster」
「This is a lie!? That can’t be! Master is the one that’s lying!!」
Maria’s flames change together with her raging emotions. Flames sprout from below my feet and then change into two flame serpents. It is the 《Midgard Blaze》 once displayed in the labyrinth search. In spite of being exhausted with a single one, now she can immediately form two without a chant.
While violently undulating the flame serpents open their mouths.
「Leaving me behind, keeping secrets from me, always lying!」
As Maria shouts, she swings the flame sword like a conductor’s baton, and the flame serpents attack.
「There are definitely things I didn’t say! But, I didn’t lie!」
I return as shout as I take distance from the attacking flame serpents.
「You’re lying! It’s because Master hates me, that you’re lying and are going to leave me behind!!」
As the two flame serpents rage about, Maria continuous to condemn me.
The heat of the flame serpents causes sweat to spill. That’s no longer the weak Maria from before. She’s using magic that can give me fatal wounds.
In truth, I want to ignore Maria and fight Alty. But without stopping Maria’s movements, I won’t be able to close the distance with Alty who behind. They function as the roles of an advance and rear guard.
「I won’t leave Maria behind! Absolutely! I’m not lying!」
I wanted it to end with an explanation if possible. Anything as long as I can avoid pointing my sword at Maria.
Such naive thoughts crossed my mind, and my mouth moved on its own.
「Lies! In the first place, that name is a lie! Whenever you name yourself as Siegfried, whenever your called Sieg, Master treats it like someone else’s problem! Always deceiving me with a fake name, you don’t say a single thing about yourself!」
The moment the flame serpents cross, Maria jumps forward and swings the flame sword. I somehow manage to guard against that strike.
That attack clearly anticipated my movements. There is no doubt that Maria is fighting using the skills 『Insight』 and 『Hunting』
「That’s not it at all! It’s true that my name is an alias, but thinking of things as someone else’s problem is――」
「I, I knew it――！I knew it, so it was an alias――!!」
The moment I confirmed it as an alias, the strength of the fire in Maria’s flame sword increases. The color of Maria’s flame sword changes from red to blue, and the rising temperature begins melting my sword.
I immediately repel the flame sword and take more distance.
And now, I regret having chosen the wrong tactic. From that response, I’m convinced that Maria is unable to hold a rational conversation. It isn’t that she knew my name was an alias, she only felt the possibility.
It’s because I confirmed that suspicion, that Maria’s temperament increased.
I cool my head with 《Freeze》. Trying to persuade in the midst of battle had backfired. Maria can say whatever she wants, but I have to carefully choose my words if I want Maria to calm down. But with magics that can cause an instant death flying around, choosing the best words in this situation is close to a herculean task.
「If your names a lie, then your birth place is also a lie. Living in a region more remote than Fania, is a lie. After all, there is no region further then the place I lived in. And yet, you didn’t even know about Christmas! Something like that is impossible!」
I finish organizing the situation as I continue parrying Maria, and I come to a decision.
Give up on persuading Maria, and aim to make her faint. There’s no avoiding getting a little rough.
「Maria, endure this for a bit!」
I dash forward in order to snatch Maria’s conscience through taijutsu. However――
「――That’s no good, Sieg. Just keep listening to Maria」
Alty coldly denies it.
Alty holds condensed flames overhead, and chants a magic.
「――『Burn Flickering Flames』『At The Mercy Of the World Serpent』。――《Agni Blaze》！」
A shiver runs down my spine. I stop my advance towards Maria and jump back. At the same time, something passes in the space between Maria and me.
And that something was a flame.
A thin white flame leaves a line as it cut through the air.
It came from the flame Alty held overhead and pierced into the ground. The surroundings of the ground pierced by the white flame dissolve into lava as bubbles begin rising.
The temperature of that white flames cannot be guessed. However, I instinctively knew that getting hit by that would be an instant death.
The white flame shakes.
I sense that a part of the ground behind me had turned into lava by using 《Dimension》. And from the lava, the tip of that white flame jumps out.
I twist my body to its limit to dodge.
I understood. This white flame, is a flame that took the form of a thread.
And, by moving underground, it came attacking from behind.
With my posture broken after having twisted my body, Maria attacks. I wasn’t given the time to take a breath.
「Master is full of lies! You said you don’t like Lastiara-san! You said it, but you still went to help! You went and left me behind! Leaving me who you don’t like, to go to the place of Lastiara-san who you do like――!!」
The flame sword clashes with my own, and the recoil causes me to move back.
However, the ground that my feet landed on collapses. And from the ground, the tip of the white flame comes out.
Taking a defensive posture I barely manage to avoid it, but my face cramps at the endless attacks.
I can’t hold out against the attacks from Maria and that white flame forever.
Therefore, I extend my hand to the passing white flame.
Concentrating all my magic power into my hand, I use freezing magic.
「――Magic 《Di Over Winter》!!」
Its range is only at the palm of my hand.
I try to interfere with the white flame by developing the midwinter space on the palm of my hand.
I can’t interfere with Alty’s magic by using 《Di Winter》. However, there’s a possibility if it’s the highly dense 《Di Over Winter》. Furthermore, by concentrating it to a narrower scope than usual, the effect will be even greater.
But, the moment I tried to analyze the white flame, it felt as if my brain was being burned.
Not understanding the finer details of the origins of flame magic caused dizziness. However, what is more frightening than anything else, is the malice held inside of the magic. Resentment, jealousy, hatred, that which was constructed by various negative emotions had punctured my mind.
However, failing here would mean that my hand would melt. I can’t let that happening.
Raising a yell, I rob the white flame of its heat, and shift the magic’s framework.
And so, pouring many times the usual amount of magic, I succeed in forcefully dispersing the white flame.
Believing that my prospects of victory shot up, I direct a bright face towards Maria.
Now all I need is to disperse Maria’s flame――My legs stop.
「Fuu, interfering with my magic was a surprise. It was a surprise, Sieg. However, how much magic power did you lose, by erasing only a single magic?」
Alty laughs. In a hurry I check my status.
I’m astonished. The amount was far too much.
Just erasing the white flame caused my MP to drop by about 200. Approximately one third.
However, I don’t have the time to act surprised. With my legs stopped, Maria’s flame serpents attack.
I reach out in order to disperse it, but give up on the idea. If I erase this flame, then my MP will decrease even more. If my MP reaches 0, then I’ll lose my way to oppose Alty.
Whether Alty has any physical attacks or not, is still unknown. As she has the same intangible body as Teeda, there’s a possibility that freezing magic would simply pass through. If I don’t set aside the minimal MP, then the battle itself would long be over.
Having lost my path to victory, I shout in order to persuade Maria. Even though I know it’s useless I still complain. The high temperature and panic had stolen my judgement.
「Maria, that’s enough so calm down! At this rate, I will die! If that flame lands a direct hit, there’s no way I’ll get out of it fine!」
「That’s fine! Even if Master’s limbs are burned, I’ll take care of you. Even if Master’s arms and legs are lost, it’ll all be fine as long as I’m there. I, became strong. Thanks to Master. If I have this power, then I’ll be able to earn money by working in the labyrinth. There’s no problem! In that house, the two of us will be able to live together ――!!」
Maria says that, and points at the house that is on the verge of being burnt down with a smile covering her face.
While battling in a burning hot field, a shiver runs down my spine.
There’s no hope in persuasion. I understood that from Maria’s smile.
Having lost my words, I move in order to restrain Maria with only my body’s ability.
However, naturally, Alty wouldn’t permit that.
「『Seed Of Budding Flame』『Torch The Primordial Sin』！ ――《Janua Blaze》!!」
A flower of flames blooms by Maria’s feet.
Yuri like petal spread from that flame flower, and they come attacking. Naturally, I’m forced to take distance from Maria. The flame flower then beings squirming, and a red something falls from the center. That something is akin to pollen fluttering in the air, it falls on the surrounding ground, and new flowers bloom.
Convinced that it’s a wide ranged Magic, I consider taking even more distance, but the flame wall behind me obstructs that.
Because of the layered flame magics, before I knew it, I lost a place to escape to.
In front of the mousetrap like flame flowers, I quickly try thinking of a way to break free. Confirming all that I have at my disposal, I grope for an effective method. However, no matter how many simulations I do, there was nothing that could break the current deadlock.
Inside of my mind, I feel a premonition of death.
Together with that, I am assaulted by the feeling of something crawling on my back.
The skill 『？？？』 is close by.
―― I won’t accept it. Only that, I will absolutely not accept.
With such a will I search for a way to break free.
And, I realize one method I left untouched.
「――All skill points, to freezing magic!!」
Together with my words, an indication is shown on 『Display』.
【All Skill Points Allotted To Freezing Magic】
The 11 skill points I had on hand were added to freezing magic.
Furthermore, I cancel the -200 MP correction for 《Connection》, and pour all the magic power in my body into freezing magic.
Using up everything I held, the chill of the deployed 《Di Winter》 is strengthened. My understanding of freezing magic deepens, and my ability to grasp the vibrations of molecules increase.
What I should do, to stop the world’s vibrations. No, what I should do, to freeze the world.
I manage to reach a fragment of that method.
A cold unlike never before is refined.
And just like a robe, the cold wraps around the flames.
Then I take out a cloth and water from 『Items』, and now a soaked cloth I wrap it around like an overcoat.
I run through the flower bed, in response the petals of the flame flowers stretch out in order to catch me.
Several come in contact with my body and a groan comes out.
The flame petals burn my back. The cloth is burned away and my skin is burned. I no longer felt heat. No pain. Only a danger signal echoed in my brain.
I ignore it all, and continue running.
En route, Maria freely walks through the flames and stands in my way.
However, I don’t pay it any mind. As Maria’s flame sword tears through my shoulder, I run past her, and head for Alty at max speed.
「So you came, Sieg――!!」
Having watched me risk my life to run through, Alty smiles.
That is, the same smile once seen on Teeda.
A yell. With my mouth burned, throat burned, and my insides burned, I yell.
「『The Almighty Flame That Shakes The World』――！ 『Of Red Will With The World’s Passion』――！」
Alty also yells. In the same way, with her everything burning she chants.
Alty’s magic will probably be finished before I make it.
「『Burning Flames Blowing Blood From The Body』――!! 『My Form Is Of A Crimson Flower In The Wind』――!! 『And Now, The World, Burns』――!!!!」
However, I’ve no choice but to continue forward. With the scarce life I have left, this is my only chance.
I run in order to jump into the middle of the completed flame magic.
「――Magic 《Tiana Blaze》!!」
The completed flames took the form of a sphere like a small sun.
And the moment it shined, everything was set ablaze.
All sensory organs lost their function, but I knew my whole body was burning.
But even then, I continue forward.
I know that in order to protect my body I have to continue forward. I force my arms and legs to move, and with my left hand guarding my head, I slash at Alty’s torso with the sword in my right hand.
And so, using the force of the cut, I make it behind Alty, and continue running forward.
The result, my back receives heat of the small sun. I focus the cold to my back.
And in response to the heat on my back, without any proper form, I roll on the ground like a ball.
Although the overcoat around my body is burned, it looks like I managed to avoid any fatal wounds through the strengthened freezing magic. And now, only the sensations in my hands remain.
It certainly felt like I cut through Alty.
Slowly standing, I go to check on Alty’s condition.
Alty stood with a diagonal cut from her shoulder to waist.
While suppressing the overflowing blood with a hand, she looks over with a laugh.
That blood is burning.
Although it’s a wound that would kill a human, Alty laughs. A smile that was certain that the battle was not over.
In exchange for my empty MP, I chant a magic that shaves away my life.
「――Magic 《Dimension Gladiate》……」
It’s still not over.
I recall the time I had Teeda as an opponent, and I quietly see off the shaved away life.
「……As expected, Sieg. You at least had the ability to kill Teeda」
While Alty sheds her burning blood, she speaks to me with room to spare.
「Shut up, hurry and fuck off already……! 」
I take out another moist overcoat from 『Items』, put it on my body, and fix my stance.
My remaining HP is 238. Looking only at the numbers, it’s possible to continue. It’s still too early to give up. I’ll rescue Maria just like I did Lastiara.
「However, not yet. It’s still not enough. Isn’t that right, Maria…… ?」
「Yes, that isn’t enough…… !」
Alty totters towards Maria, and embraces her from behind. And so, the two repeat the same words. 「Not enough」 and 「Starts from here」, repeated and layer on.
A bad premonition, I mustered my remaining strength and run.
I can’t stop. So my instincts told me.
I forcefully thrust out my sword, it pierces through the face of Alty on Maria’s back.
The sword’s tip passes through Alty’s head as if it was being sucked in. However, there was no resistance. The outline of Alty’s face flickers, it loses form, and turning into flames she looks over and laughs.
Changing her whole body into flames, Alty becomes one with Maria’s flames.
「Now then, it starts from here, Sieg. With this we’ve completely assimilated. It’s not enough, it starts here――」
My body stiffens.
Having lost the opponent to cut down, my hands come to a stop.
I understood, Alty became a flame and mixed into Maria’s flames. In other words, it will be useless unless all the fire here is extinguished. Otherwise, as she’s inside of Maria’s body, it won’t work out unless Maria is killed. Isn’t there a better option.
While I’m unable to move at a loss, Maria slashes.
「Master, please give up! If you give up, then we can start over! We can start over from those times once more! This time no one will enter! We’ll start over just the two of us!」
I could do nothing but continue repelling the flame sword. That’s because I have no method to attack Alty.
With no other choice, as the only way to oppose her right now, I try persuading Maria again.
「Maria, get yourself together! Everything is going according to that monster’s wishes! There’s no point in fighting me, there’s no need to restart our lives!」
「Even then, Alty-san was my ally until the end! Because I was all alone, she tried her very best for my sake! Different from Master, I wasn’t excluded, I wasn’t left alone, I wasn’t left behind!」
To my words of persuasion, words of criticism were returned.
It felt as if the more we talked, the stronger the flames got.
There’s no mistake, there’s a connection between Maria’s emotions and the heat. I yell as I strengthen 《Di Winter》.
「You’ll never be left alone again, I won’t leave you behind! I promise! That’s why, restrain those flames!」
「Still lying…… ! Then, why did you go rescue Lastiara-san? If that person is here, I won’t be taken along. I’ll be left behind. I’ll be all alone. You knew that, and yet why did you rescue Lastiara-san!?」
「There’d be no difference with Lastiara. It’s fine, we’ll all be together. That’s why――」
「It became strange ever since that person, since Lastiara-san came! That person is a coward. It’s unfair that she was a dazzling existence since birth. I saw Master being attracted to that person’s light, just how many worries did it cause! As long as that person is here, I’ll be deserted again, and Master will lie again! I can’t feel any peace」
As long as the conversation continues, Maria’s true feelings will be exposed.
And then, my misunderstandings became clear. Little by little I became able to see the origin of Maria’s thoughts. I thought it was the result of love and envy mixing together, but it’s a bit different.
It’s the many many――『Differences』 that Maria is angry at.
Right now, Maria and I are yelling at each other with our lives being shaved away.
That’s why, it finally felt like we began to understand each other.
「….. That’s why, let’s start over. Let’s return to the time Master was like a weak lost child. Because at that time, Master relied on me, I was able to feel at peace. If it’s this person by my side, I’ll finally be able to become happy, I believed that! That’s why, let’s return to that time without any others!!」
Maria burns everything, together with the weak me she says. If not then she won’t be able to feel at peace she says. If it isn’t the weak me, she won’t be able to help but worry about when I’d disappear….
Aah, I finally understood. In other words―― Maria is anxious.
After all, I never told Maria anything.
My real name, my birthplace, my objective, I said nothing…….
It’s because she knows nothing about me, that she can’t help but worry…….
No matter how often I said it was fine, no matter how gentle I was, no matter how much favored her, there is no meaning to it if not a single truth was conveyed. Instead, it must have had the opposite effect.
Maria desires a guarantee. A guarantee that I wouldn’t disappear――
「I couldn’t do anything but see the person I like go far away! Even if I chased, I couldn’t reach! And to lose everything again, I hate it!!」
This may be the moment that I have to face the emotions I continued running from.
――Maria likes me.
That’s why, she can’t permit Lastriara who knows my true name, my birth place, and my objective. Lastiara who was always beside me was frightening.
With no guarantee from me, she must have felt like she could’ve been cast away at any moment.
Most likely, Maria was always anxious.
An unending anxiousness that would drive her mad.
Unraveling Maria’s feelings, I gradually begin to understand.
No, I was taught. By this 『Tenth Trial』.
「Master is mine! I found him first! That’s why, he belongs to me!」
Maria’s flame burn everything. Her whole body burns, and it’s vigor exceeds my cold.
Even the exchange of swords surpassed mine, and my sword was repelled far back. And so, having my defenceless torso thrust at, a space is opened. Making use of that instant, Maria chants.
「『Embers of judging flames』――」
That is a verse with the determination to obtain no matter what the compensation. And for some reason, I understood that chant. The wish put into Maria’s chant, reached me.
Maria also understood just how much the 『Compensation』 of the magic would be.
Body and mind, memories and emotions, past and future, everything―― Maria was throwing it all away for me.
「『Conveyed Freezing Judgement』――」
Then, I will also throw it away.
I chant as if pursuing.
That chant, as if I’ve thought about it before, spills from my mouth.
At the same time, I sense that an important memory is missing. I feel my emotions being played with. However, the same applies to Maria. There’s no way I can run away on my own.
「『Mercy through staggering visions』――」
「『Mercy through staggering visions』――」
The constructed magic is likely the flame serpents.
The current me should be able to do it.
I’ve practiced, understood, strengthened, wagered my life, and added a chant to this freezing magic, and now that I know the source of Maria’s flames I can――, the same magic――!
「――『Swallow The Stars』！ Flame Magic 《Midgard Blaze》!!」
「――『Swallow The Stars』！ Freezing Magic 《Midgard Freeze》!!」
Two large serpents born from the body of Maria and me clash.
Both are serpents without form. Heat and cold, a flame and ice serpent. Large magics of the opposite attribute collide, and they bite each other in order to erase the other.
The match lasted an instant. Naturally, it was the flame serpent that won.
My magic had no way to win.
But, as a result of their clash, the flame serpent lost a large amount of energy.
I jump to the side in order to avoid, and the flame serpent hits the ground and disperses.
I immediately repair my posture, and with a scream I force my self to move towards Maria.
I won’t let Maria use flame magic any longer. The 『Compensation』 must not be paid.
So I swore, and I prepare for close quarter combat with Maria.
「――『Shining Flame Sword』――《Flame Flamberge》」
However, to match that, the flames form a mouth and chant magic. It was Alty’s voice.
Simultaneously the heat in Maria’s flame sword increases. From sight it was obvious that the density had increased and the color of the flame sword had now changed to blue, and the tip had become a dazzling white.
My treasure sword and Maria’s flame sword meet.
There was a strange resistance. For meeting head on, the response was too lukewarm.
The reason for that is simple. The edge of my treasure sword that touched the flame sword, had melted into goo.
「――Kuu！ Magic 《Ice Flamberge 》！」
―― 208 remaining. Not yet. I can still keep going.
I put a coat of ice on my treasure sword to limit the damage. But, because of using an unfamiliar magic, I could visibly see my life begin shaved away.
The life that grew together with my level, is now melting like ice as it’s converted into magic power.
The flame and ice swords collide, sparks of magic fall.
I immediately pull back my sword and swing again. However, Maria repelled everything that I put into that swing. Those movements are clearly different from the Maria of before. As a result of assimilating with Alty all of her abilities rose. Power, strength, ability, the accuracy of the skill 『Insight』, it’s a remarkable difference.
No matter how much I swung my sword all that came out of it were sparks of magic. And together with those fluttering sparks, Maria shouts.
「At the time I lost my birthplace, and the time I became a slave, it was never this painful! If it was going to be this painful, this enviable, this sorrowful, then you should’ve abandoned me from the start!!」
My body grows duller every time I hear the contents of Maria’s insides.
I don’t believe I can say anything more.
All of my actions torment Maria.
Anything I do would be a mistake.
I understood that.
「It would’ve been fine if I never had hope! Even if I died as a slave, it wouldn’t be as painful as it is now! Even though I want to be close I’m left behind, even though I want to know I’m ignored, this pain is driving me mad!!」
In the end, the monster called Alty instigated Maria, toyed with her.
I rescued Lastaira uninjured, and when I finally thought everything was going well, was knocked down.
What was that 「Everything is going perfectly」. What was that 「――Really thank goodness」.
In my mind, I knew that the skill 『？？？』 was crawling closer.
In my current state of mind, I can probably activate it by simply extending my hand. But that will surely sacrifice something other than the labyrinth, and in exchange, everything would be resolved. If I cut down my confusion and hesitation, then I’d arrive at a simple answer.
This pain, sorrow, anger, and worry, everything would be erased.
A sweet temptation. But, if activated, I will surely kill Maria. I will kill her.
―― Only that I will absolutely not chose.
What I should be doing right now is not take it easy.
Not run away, but to atone for the sins I’ve committed.
To save the girl suffering before me――、Only that―― !
In my hazy head, I gather all the information I have, and decide on which actions to take.
「――That’s, the only option left」
My throat shakes, and I speak with determination.
――Without activating the skill 『？？？』, I choose my answer.
And so, without a chant, I construct magic with only the magic stored in my body.
My aim, to wrap Maria in the same cold as this morning. I mustering up all my strength in order to fight.
「――Magic 《Di Over Winter》rR!!」
I secure my furthering conscious, and shave my life away to construct my greatest magic. Spreading an area to wrap Maria in, I steal away the heat and swing my sword.
At the same time that the cold obstructs Maria’s movements, the whole battlefield also becomes cold.
The enemies heat exceeded one thousand. Understanding that, I distribute my magic power in the optimal spots as my mind beings burning. Sensing the danger my brain secretes chemicals to cut through the pain.
I arrive at the other side of the pain, and come to understand everything with an inhuman like thought process.
《Di Over Winter》 moves along Maria’s flames and seals it all away. The result, Maria and Alty’s flames are sealed, I succeeded in dodging the flame sword with a paper thin difference, and my ice sword is now at Maria’s neck.
However, that is all I can manage. This battle is over with this.
I knew from the start. I can’t kill Maria.
Maria who lost her sanity moves while disregarding the fact of cutting her neck, and once again the flame sword is swung. With my free hand, I seize her wrist. The hand I used to grasp her is burned. However, I will not let go.
Like this, Maria and I have our noses facing each other.
In this state, I can take my time talking. This is most likely my final chance.
If I mischoose my words, then all three of us will die today.
But―― I will no longer make any mistakes.
「…… Maria, even then I won’t give up. No matter how much you say you hate it, aiming for the deepest part is the only thing I won’t give up on …… I will continue in the labyrinth with Lastiara」
「I! I don’t want you to go! I don’t want you to go anywhere! I hate being left alone…… !」
「Aah, I know. After all, I also hate being alone……. That’s why, I decided to go to the deepest part…… !」
I hold down the hand that Maria tries to free, and express my true feelings. And so, I release the sword that is at her neck, and it falls to the ground.
Having seen me throw my weapon away, Maria’s power weakens.
As I soak in the cold, I call to mind the true intention I’ve always kept hidden. I’m sure that if I put it into words, then I will lose control of my mind. Just thinking of it causes me to go mad. If it comes to mind, then I won’t be able to hold back my tears. I wouldn’t be able to remain still, I would lose my calm. I understood that.
But, it’s necessary for Maria, my true feelings. That’s all there is to it.
It’s been worth suppressing the skill 『？？？』 these past few days. If it’s now, then I can probably express the memories of my family without falsehood. The last time the skill 『？？？』 was used, was when I faced my feelings towards Lastiara..
I recall my 『Family』―― my 『Sister』.
For an instant, I feel dizzy. Just coming into contact with it causes worry, the nausea won’t stop. However, I won’t activate the skill 『？？？』.
「Aah, if Maria is alone then I’m also alone…… ! After all, I’m the only one in this world. The only foreigner…… !」
「Wh, what are you saying―― ?」
「I’m not a human of this world. Called from a different world far far away, just a simple student. That’s why I want to return. I want to go back…… . I’d hate to die in a place I know nothing about…… . After all, I don’t have any family here! In the truest sense, I’m alone in this world! I was scared! I couldn’t help but be so so scared about dying by myself in a place like this! That’s why, I have no choice but to go through the labyrinth……!!」
「A human, not from this world…… ?」
With the feelings from when I was first lost in this world―― I recall the fear I had without the skill 『？？？』, I convey it to Maria with our eyes facing each other.
But, what’s important isn’t the fear. In regards to that, it’d be fine to say that most of it was conquered in these past few days with Dia. The nightmare that torment me now, is a different fear.
The true intentions I’ve lied about and kept hidden. The reason I keep running from Maria’s feelings.
In order to not think about it, to not think about it, the most important part of me that I kept protected.
「I want to go home and see my important family, my 『Sister』! It’s also because it’s lonely, but above all, I can’t help but always worry about her! Because we’re a family of only the two of us……, if I’m not there then she’s all alone! If I’m not there for her then she won’t be able to live, I’ve already been stuck in this world for more than a week! Being alone for me is painful. But, my sister over in that other world must be suffering much much more! That’s why, I have to return! For that sake, I have no choice but to obtain a miracle! The miracle at the depths of the labyrinth is necessary!!」
「Master’s……, sister…… ?」
「Aah, a girl just like Maria. That’s why I helped Maria, because you resembled my sister, why I favored you, it was to comfort myself! In place of my sister, by leaving you at home, I was able to support myself! It was just to distract myself that I helped Maria!!」
「a, aah, that’s why….., that’s why….. !」
From Maria’s black hair, her appearance, her age, her behavior, her circumstances, they all reminded me of my 『Sister』.
I didn’t want to acknowledge it.
I tried to avoid thinking about it.
Just remembering it, just talking about it, warps my heart. It feels like my chest is being twisted with pliers.
My important person, is in an unreachable place. Just that alone is so painful. The anxiety is unbearable.
But…… this pain, Maria has always felt it. Always, always.
And, the one who gave her that pain was me.
As my hands, feet, neck, and body burn, I apologize to Maria.
It doesn’t matter how much they’re burned. But, in exchange for that I will save Maria. A girl is suffering because of me, and unless I free her from those flames of suffering, I won’t be able to go back.
My life is being shaved away. One by one my cells are being destroyed, I can taste the flavor of death from within my mouth.
But even then, I will not stop. Not until my HP reaches 0, I can’t stop.
Soaking in the cold, I use even more strength.
However, it’s there that Alty tries to interrupt.
「Wa, wait, Maria, whether or not that’s true is」
「Please be quiet for a bit Alty-san!!」
But, Maria puts a stop to that. Now that I began speaking the truth, she wouldn’t accept any interruptions. To Maria, it is a thread of truth that she had finally discovered.
「Sorry, Maria. I’ve done something horrible to Maria. Even though I noticed Maria’s love, I kept treating you like a sister. Because that was the most comforting to me, I continued running form it」
Maria listens to my apology with an earnest expression.
Without any lies, I convey my decision.
「That’s why, Maria――」
If there’s that won’t go well and needs to be done, then a price must be paid.
I have no choice but to pay that price.
「It’s fine even if Maria burns all of my limbs here. I wouldn’t care if I die in the end. As long as you accept a single condition, then severing my arms and legs would be fine」
――This is the answer I chose.
That answer and the rescue of my 『Sister』 shouldn’t be compatible.
But, that isn’t the case.
「Maria has to promise me to go to the deepest part. In my place, swear that you will save my sister. If it’s the current Maria, then you can cooperate with Lastiara. You definitely can……」
It’s not like there’s a need for me to do it.
It’s fine to entrust it to a companion I can trust.
If it’s now, there’s Lastiara who I took back myself. Her talent is extraordinary. She also has the qualities of a leader. I can trust her, above all she’s a searcher that doesn’t desire a wish.
There’s also Radiant-san, Hein-san, and Dia. if the four of them combine their power, then they can surely reach the deepest part of the labyrinth. If Maria inherits my will, then it would be fine for my battle in this different world to end like this.
Maria can also fulfill my 『Contract』 with Lastiara.
At the end of the day, the feelings of the searcher Siegfried Visitor are unimportant. My health is of no importance as well. It’s also not necessary for me to return.
What’s important is only my 『Sister’s Happiness』. That is Aikawa Kanami’s true wish.
「My true name is Aikawa Kanami. And, my sister is Hitaki. If you arrive at my world then please search for Hitaki. If you help my sister Hitaki, then there’s no longer a need for me……」
There’s no doubt that these are the thoughts of an idiot.
If the skill 『？？？』 activated, then it certainly wouldn’t have permitted this choice.
But, this is what humans with no leeway are. On the verge of death, with the many emotions and hesitation, this choice can be taken.
Even though it’s an irrational thread of hope, I am willing to bet my life on it.
Maria repeats my name.
「Kanami……, Master’s real name is Aikawa Kanami……」
Without the skill 『？？？』, there is no longer the lie of Siegfried Visitor. 『Just with the answer of Aikawa Kanami』, Maria continues to repeat it as if chewing on it.
Along with that, Maria’s flames weaken. The flame sword comes apart and it loses its shape as a sword.
I feel the sparks inside of Maria disappear. As expected, what she needed right now was the truth.
《Di Over Winter》 also steals more heat from Maria, and the chaos that dwells inside of her weakens.
「Aah, I won’t let Maria be in pain any longer. I won’t let Maria’s love be a 『Blighted Love』. I will become Maria’s. Everything will end with that.」
I declare as I continue cooling Maria’s body.
Mara who hears that disperses the flame sword in hand, and gently entrusts her body to me. With her face buried into my chest, she happily calls my name.
「Kanami……, Kanami! Kanami-san, Kanami-san’s true name is Kanami――！」
With the hand that let go of the sword, I pat the head of Maria who is repeating my name.
And patting Maria, she raises her head, gazes at me with moist eyes―― and shouts.
She confesses in a loud voice.
「Kanami-san, I like you! I love you! I like your gentle part, I like how sweet you are, I like your hopeless side, I like you cowardice, I like your childishness, I like it, I like everything――！ I finally remember everything!!」
Aah, they resemble each other. They really do resemble each other…….
I always thought that. And now I can say it out loud.
Maria resembles my sister Hitaki. That’s why I wanted to help her no matter the cost.
「Like a family, like a brother, I like you! Of course, I also like you as the opposite sex! That’s why always! ――Please let me always stay together with you!」
Matching her shouts, I feel the surrounding temperature rise.
The emotions that were spat out became flames that fluttered in the surroundings. I was a bit cautious as to if the confusion had increased once again. However, I understood from experience, that it was nothing but an absurd fear.
That was not a black flame of despair, but a red flame of delight.
「Aah, I’m Maria’s belonging. I promise to not leave you alone again. So please forgive me」
Embracing Maria, with all my feelings packed in, I cool her with all my might.
Maria accepts that.
And with an expression I’ve never seen before, I strengthen my embrace.
「Kanami-san is cold, it feels nice……」
In the end, all of Maria’s flames vanish. I sense the heat inside her body disappear. And while being held, Maria mutters in a voice free of worries.
「Finally, you are finally looking at me……. I can finally feel that we are close……」
Those words were everything.
Just looking at Maria properly and being by her side was enough.
Love and jealousy, flames and chaos―― those difficult things were unimportant.
We each spoke the truth about what was in our minds. Just that was enough…….
Conditions : Mental Contamination0.12 Confusion0.38 Memory Defect0.48
From what I can see, Maria’s 『Conditions』 have recovered.
I hug Maria in delight that I was able to recover her uninjured.
However, of course, there’s someone who won’t accept that.
A heat is born between Maria and me, a small swirling flame bursts forth. In response, we both move back.
The flame speaks in midair.
「……Wait. Wait a moment, Maria. Do you truly believe that? I don’t believe it! Sieg is a man who always lies. It’s definitely just another lie. It’s because he’s locked in here that he’s trying to deceive you. He’s taking advantage of your kindness!」
There’s no mistaking that Alty is inside of Maria. Therefore, the flames can’t interfere with us.
I try to get closer in order to erase Alty’s flames. During that time, Alty continues shouting.
「You can understand with that 『Eye』 don’t you! If it’s exposing Sieg’s true feelings, then you can use that 『Eye』! Look, that man is definitely not going to grant you happiness! He can’t! After all, heroes, each and everyone of them are selfish, and they can’t do anything but spread unhappiness wherever they go――!!」
Maria shakes her head to stop my advance. From her eyes, I can feel the resolve to end things herself. With some hesitation, I stop and entrust it to Maria.
「Yes, I saw with my 『Eye』……. But I believe in Kanami-san. I want to believe……」
「You can’t believe! I understand, I know! Heroes never protect their promises!!」
Alty’s flames burn as if trying to warm Maria’s cooled body.
She barks out while burning. In contrast, Maria calmly answers..
「Alty-san……. We’ve assimilated, so it’s only a little but I understand your life. You who’s lost everything because of your 『Eye』, were much more tragic than me―― always unhappy. I also know that in order to not walk on the same path as Alty-san, you did your best for me」
Compared to Alty, Maria’s words held no resentment whatsoever.
And I also understood the gentleness that filled those words.
「But, I want to believe. ―― I won’t believe in 『Master』. But, I will believe in Kanami-san. That’s why, please go back to the previous Alty……」
「You can’t you can’t you can’t! Believing, will just make it even worse! The thoughts that can’t reach will build up, you will suffer more and more, and in the end you will be betrayed!」
「No, I’m not sure of that. It’s still unknown. After all, Alty-san and I are different humans. That’s why, we are not limited to the same end」
「Limited, of course it will be the same! It will end the same exact way! After all, Maria is the same as me――」
「No, I have Alty-san. But, in Alty-san’s life, was there anyone like Alty-san. That is a big difference」
For an instant, Alty hesitated. However, she immediately regains her vigor and shouts..
「It isn’t a big difference! I know, my body knows that it will be the same! My time was also like that! This 『Eye』 taught me! That I will never be happy, that’s why――!!」
「Alty-san, thank you. But even then, I will go down a different path. I know the way to go down a different path. It’s thoughtlessly seeing with my 『Eye』 that isn’t good……」
Along with those words, Maria brings both her hands to her head.
「With this, no one will know what’s ahead――」
And with her fingers, she gouges out her eyes.
「A, AaA, aAAaAAh――！ MARIAaAA――!!」
A bitter scream came from Alty. Without anyone manipulating Maria, out of her own will she ends her eyes. And that that fact was the hardest thing for Alty to accept, is what I understood from her voice.
I believe in Maria’s resolve, and continue watching over.
「Kuu, Uu, AAaAAAhh!!」
Maria bears the pain while burning both eyes as she takes them out. And so, she burns the two eyes with flames and they turn to waste.
「aAAAh! MARIAa, how could you, how could you!」
Alty yells as if crying. In comparison, Maria returns a joyous voice.
「With this Alty and I are not the same. I will no longer be misled by these things. For my own sake, I will believe in Kanami. That’s why, Alty-san, please……. let me believe that it won’t end in a 『Blighted Love』…… 」
「aA, AaAAaa…… 」
Alty sobs, and her flames tremble.
A flame with a unique color leaks from within Maria. Flowing out like mud, it moves into the air and takes the shape of a human.
That lamenting flame takes the form of a young girl. The flame in the form of a girl―― Alty, mutters with both hands on the ground.
「A, aAh……, My last affinity was runined……. We will never be together again, I, I will, be alone again……」
At this point, there was no strength felt in Alty’s flames.
Looking carefully, the surrounding flames also weakened. With Alty’s heart breaking, the flames weakened in response.
Alty’s flames are also closely connected to her emotions. And there’s no doubt that this conversation was the last blow. As Alty flickers like the flame on a candle right before it disappears, she feebly stands up.
The haughty atmosphere from before is no longer there. She look over with eyes appropriate for a child.
「Alty, you want to keep going…… ?」
At this point, believing that the result was already determined, I confirm it with Alty.
「Aah, let’s go……」
However, Alty holds back her weakness, and returns a response with the haughtiness she once had.
She was like a paper mache. Just from her appearance it doesn’t look like she has power left. Alty is, already――
「Certainly, Maria’s 『Blighted Love』―― no, her 『Love』 may be fulfilled. But, my blighted love still won’t be fulfilled. There’s still meaning in continuing. ―― there still is!」
Alty maintains her bluff.
Constructing a flame sword in her hand, she makes a faint smile and continues her words as she begins walking.
It reminds me of an arrogant criminal walking towards the guillotine.
「『When humans and monsters meet they will kill each other. That is the unwritten law of this world』。 Hahaa,it was Teeda’s own rule, but every now and then it’s the truth……」
The flames on her body and the flames of that flame sword seem like they’d disappear at any moment.
「But, you…… 」
I have no intention to forgive Alty. Picking up the fallen sword, I prepare myself to intercept at any moment.
However, hearing the bitter shouts of Alty, and with Maria returning, it’s a fact that the anger inside of me had already subsided.
After the confessions in the bloody battle ended, and having regained my calm, the possibility of reconciling with Alty is there.
「Shut up! Above all, I hate people like Sieg! Die, heroes, they can all go and dieeee――!!」
But that possibility disappears with Alty’s hate filled shout.
Alty kicks off the ground to get closer, and swing the flame sword horizontally.
I receive it with the flat side of the blade.
It’s strength, the flames, the thoughts, everything is light.
There’s―― already no power remaining in Alty
Even with Maria’s rejection, this powerlessness was strange. What I arrive at is one thing.
A method to kill Guardians without fighting.
When a Guardian has no more regrets left and they lose all their strength, in the end they will disappear.
In other words, Alty has lost her regrets. That’s all I could think of.
Is it because of her state as a parasite inside of Maria that she felt the success of the goal of that Maria had?
She felt a piece of a 『Fulfillment of blighted love』?
No, it’s different.
No that’s probably one of the causes, but I still believe it’s something different.
The current Alty, had a different regret disappear.
Most likely, it’s something that no one but Alty herself knows, a regret that the person herself did not want to acknowledge. Therefore she continues shouting.
「Not yet, I still have regrets! I can still keep going!」
With my face conveying what I thought, Alty desperately repeats 「I still have regrets」. With flames spilling out, the sword is swung. They resembled the radiance of a flame right before they disappear.
Gradually, I could no longer handle the sword that was prepared for death.
Although Alty’s strength had weakened, I’m also on the verge of death.
In the end, I’m unable to go easy, and I slice Alty’s body.
However, even then Alty doesn’t stop. Alty’s sword then went to seize my neck. With no other option, I immediately cut off her arm.
The thin arm flutters in the air, and the red blood colors the ground.
The arm flying in the air turns into flames and disappears, and the red blood on the ground turns into flowers and blooms.
It was an unbearably beautiful, and unbearably unpleasant scene.
In contrast Alty laughs in a pleasant manner, and the battle continues.
「Ah, aah, 『The blood is, the meat is burning』……. 『With blood as oil, burn the body』…… However, it doesn’t matter. Because 『Humans don’t live from the flesh, but live from the flame that lights the heart』……. As long as 『the purgatory burning in my soul』 isn’t erased, I won’t stop……」
Chanting while spitting out blood, she attacks.
No, what is being spit out isn’t blood. It’s flames―― Alty fights while shaving herself away.
Pressed on by that vigor, the movements of the treasure sword in my hand become dull, and her flame sword reaches my body.
However, just a moment before it struck―― it doesn’t reach.
Maria stopped Alty’s last attack with her own flame sword.
Two flame swords meet, they meld together, and vanish.
Alty returns her name. And with wide eyes, her expression changes.
As if in sorrow, as if in joy, as if dissatisfied, as if satisfied, after showing many emotions on her face, she takes a step back. Taking distance, she hangs her head and quietly mutters.
Alty acknowledged it.
「It’s my loss……. Congratulations, Sieg―― No, Aikawa Kanami. With this the 『Tenth Trial』 is over……」
She conveys the end.
With Alty’s body cut up, with an arm missing, and with minuscule amounts of flames and magic power remaining. Anyone who sees it can clearly tell who the victors are. Alty herself, acknowledged it.
But, recognizing her defeat lasted only an instant, with a faint smile she immediately glared at me. Just like the time when we once walked inside the labyrinth, friendly but arrogant, in an exaggerated manner.
「However, I didn’t lose to Sieg. I lost to Maria. Please don’t misunderstand that 」
While saying so, Alty smiles at Maria. And so, looking over Maria and me, she puts her fingers into both her eyes.
「Oi, Alty, what are――」
「In reality, the victor is supposed to be given a magic stone. But, this time is no good. Sorry, Kanami. I won’t yield this」
She avoids it with a different reply, and Alty extracts both eyes.
In the same was as Maria, those eyes turn to flames and disappear. Alty became the 『Same』 as Maria. Maria who saw that, with whatever she felt, steps forward with an earnest expression.
I was going to stop if because of the danger I felt, but instead I restrained myself.
Maria approaches Alty with a solemn expression unlike ever before.
Alty approaches Maria with the same expression.
And so, with their hands joined together, with their foreheads together, they say their final goodbye――
「With this we’re the same. ――Take me along, Maria」
「Of course. ―― After all Alty-san is my 『Best Friend』」
I have no idea how much time the two of them spent together.
To me, Alty is nothing but a monster that had driven Maria mad. However, Maria called her 『Best Friend』. Why that is, somewhere in my heart―― I felt a small pain.
Aah, in reality, that role, was surely――……
Alty also gives me some last words.
「Kanami, don’t bully Maria. I’ll be watching」
I say nothing in return. Once again, I don’t know a thing about Alty.
No, I didn’t try to learn. That’s all to it.
Seeing my silence, Alty lets out a sigh.
However, she seemed to be satisfied. Nothing else was said.
In satisfaction Alty looks up at the sky.
Because of the large amounts of flames and smoke, the sky became cloudy. However, Alty looked dazzlingly at that grey sky.
And little by little, the flames turned into light.
「Aah, it’s the worst feeling……. But, this time I said what I wanted……. Just, that alone, is, fine…… 」
Speaking to no one in particular. Alty becomes light, and those words begin to crack.
「I, did……, my―― best, ……――」
In the end with those broken words, Alty vanishes from the world.
And so, a single magic stone, lands in Maria’s hands. However, it soon loses its shape, and becomes a small flame that is absorbed into Maria’s body.
【Title 『Fire’s Ash Cover』 Obtained】
Correction of +0.50 added to flame magic.
The 『Display』 is reflected in my retina, and it conveys that the monster named Alty had certainly died.
Losing the master that is Alty, the flames in the surroundings weaken.
At the same time, it begins raining.
As if to make the flames disappear, drops of water begin falling from the cloudy sky.
When the flames on the hill are extinguished, the Valt soldiers will probably come. In order to get away before that, I move to Maria in a hurry.
「Are you fine, Maria……. Your eyes are…….」
「No, I can see as long as there are flames. What’s more important is Kanami-san……」
With the palm of both her hands Maria creates a space, and from within a flame is born.
I don’t know when she learned it, but it must be the same ability as Alty’s. With this she can gather gossip from the surroundings.
「I’m fine. More importantly, we have to hurry and get away. People will gather once the flames disappear」
In truth, I can faint at any moment if I let my guard down. However, I can’t allow myself to faint here.
I can’t lose my conscience until we leave Valt and secure safety. If possible, I want to converge with Lastiara’s group before the day ends.
If we converge, then there will be nothing to fear.
Like that, everyone will be just like before.
A lot happened, but I recovered Maria. With this, everything should be back to normal.
Sticking the body’s that look like they will collapse together, Maria and me begin walking――
――I hear the sound of clapping.
It felt as if a chill from those cold hands was transmitted to my back.
The applause comes from a weakened corner of the flames.
And there, a single man walks here from the other side of the flames.
「Congratulations, Brother Sieg―― no, is it Aikawa Kanami now?」
Who appears with that happy applause, it’s none other than the knight Palinchlon Legacy.
「…… Pa, Palinchlon? Why, are you here!?」
I though he went after Lastiara and the others. However, Palinchlon appeared here as if he was waiting for this moment.
「I quickly finished it. A lot happened and I got cold, so I ended up coming here」
That means that Lastiara’s group was defeated by Palinchlon.
That isn’t possible in terms of ability. Even with injuries, each of them are existences stronger than Palinchlon.
Above all, Palinchlon has a dissatisfied face. Something unexpected happened, it looks like he returned because things didn’t go as planned.
Palinchlon directs his eyes towards a bloodied sword, and appears to have remembered something. Something unpleasant…….
However, I have no connection to his dissatisfaction. I try thinking of a route to escape to in my head.
Honestly, I don’t feel like I’d lose in a one on one fight. If it’s shaving away at my maximum HP just a bit more, then I should be able to win uninjured.
――However, I don’t want to fight.
My instincts tell me to not fight this man.
If we were to run, we have to go opposite of Palinchlon. But Whoseyards lies in that direction. Above all, because Maria is slower than Palinchlon, if we run away then he will simply catch up.
While desperately thinking, I 『Observe』 every single one of Palinchlon’s actions.
In contrast, Palinchlon declares with room to spare.
「Congratulations, Kanami. How wonderfully you got over the 『Tenth Trial』―― the labyrinth’s tenth floor. However, that’s not enough. The 『Trial』 still hasn’t ended. You are still within the 『Labyrinth』. Let’s see, I’ll try imitating the introduction」
The 『Trial』 hasn’t ended? Introduction?
A shiver runs down my back.
The rain falling from the sky appears to be black――
「It starts from here. From here, this is the twentieth floor. The floor of Teeda the one who stole the natural law of darkness. As it’s a business trip, pardon me for the hasty construction, but please think of here as the labyrinth’s twentieth floor. Now then, let’s have the true trial begin」
As if natural, Palinchlon readies his blood soaked sword, and displays his intent to fight.
Christmas, has yet to end――