Chapter 72: Furtherafter
“It’s morning huh. You guys really persisted” (Io)
“When cornered, anyone would show power surpassing their limits” (Hibiki)
The surplus-filled words of Io were answered by Hibiki with a reckless shout while dodging attacks.
“That is wrong. Being able to show power surpassing your limits only happens when you have properly grown and trained. You guys are truly skilled warriors. It seems I was misunderstanding the hero a great deal” (Io)
The compliments that came out indifferently from his mouth.
3 meters, from a normal person’s point of view this could be called quite the height. Using this body so agilely, he showed feats that would make first rate martial artists grief.
“Power-type trunk” was quite the misconception. Hibiki felt hatred from the bottom of her heart at the idiot that made such an analysis. These were movements of someone that has polished his body.
A giant that one would normally think would use an axe or stick on his various arms and mindlessly swing them around. The real thing was completely different.
“The attacks don’t hit properly! This guy has a worst disposition than the spider!” (Naval)
Naval’s scream. This is true. The flashes that she has been releasing have not passed properly as attacks after all. Since the beginning, the attacks of her have gotten his arms from different angles a number of times, but not even his skin was scratched. Moreover, he won’t let attacks on the same spot reach. He deftly shifts and with some kind of method, he makes the edge slide off his hardened skin.
“Don’t self-depreciate yourself that way, white woman. Even though it is powerless, it is truly a splendid sword technique” (Io)
“Are you pretending to be a martial arts instructor?! Gu wu wu!!” (Bredda)
Bredda goes to where Naval is and jumps to divert the trajectory of one of his arms’ attack.
“An instructor huh! That sounds nice. People like you that can take my attacks for so long are rare. How about it? Want to come to the demons side? Tto” (Io)
Io uses a step that makes it look like he shifted his body’s direction in an instant to change his position. In the space he was previously in, a something made out of magic power passes by.
“Why are you able to dodge invisible wind?! Can you read the aria?!”
“That’s wrong, wind user. If one knows how much magic power is put in it, one is able to read most of the attacks that come. The place it is aimed at and the place it will activate, your eyes tell me that information” (Io)
This could be called an action brought by his enormous amount of experience. No matter if he says it, there wouldn’t be many who would be able to actually do it.
“I will have you let us move forward once and for all!” (Hibiki)
“!! Nicely done!” (Io)
Because of Hibiki’s sharp charge, Io is somewhat pushed back. But it wasn’t like Hibiki had reached the level of a demon general, it is just that his pre-established settings of her true abilities were beginning to be surpassed, that’s all.
To surpass the estimation of a general with vast amounts of experience is not something a normal person could do, but this was only a slight surprise for him.
A definite feedback is felt from Hibiki’s hands. The feeling of her sword reaching to her bones. Hibiki’s sword was able to slice one of Io’s hands till the middle.
“Oh, admirable. But how do you plan on surpassing the next barrier, hero?” (Io)
“… I can’t take it out?!” (Hibiki)
“If I tighten my muscles, you won’t be able to take out your sword. And so, your movements will stop as well!” (Io)
Hibiki understood what would happen after this.
She instantly separates from her sword. This is an action stemming from Hibiki’s trust of her instincts.
A dull sound. This was the first attack she had received in this battle. Moreover, this is the first attack she received since she came to this world that didn’t have a single divine protection from the Goddess.
Hibiki flies like a pebble being kicked off. Chiya runs after her at once.
“Ga-ha!! U… go ho… wu…” (Hibiki)
(It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts!) (Hibiki)
Hibiki’s thoughts get dyed in one color. Is this the effect of losing the Goddess’ divine protection? For a moment, Hibiki thought this way.
(Hurts hurts hurts! But! Not having the Goddess’ divine protection doesn’t matter that much! Because I was able to move with not much change. The problem is him, Io. He is just way too strong!) (Hibiki)
Being almost controlled by the sense of pain, she tries to manage, even if for a bit, her reasoning. Think. For now just think. And so, Hibiki, for the sake of returning to her senses, continues to think while squirming.
(Even my bones are broken. What was punched was my stomach huh. To hit the stomach of a woman, how ungentlemanly. It seems there is a need to punish him. Ah, my mouth is filled with the taste of blood. It feels like it is coming from my throat. So lucky there is magic in this world. In normal circumstances I wouldn’t be able to eat food tonight, but with healing magic I can even go for meat. I am lucky) (Hibiki)
With her still disarranged thoughts, she tries to avert her attention from her wounds. It seems that the self-recovery magic that was activated in the moment was steadily showing effects, her pain was slowly softening. Having Chiya’s healing magic on top of it, both spells synergize and accelerate the healing speed.
While still being unsteady, Hibiki stands up after a short while.
“At that instant you let go of your sword and, even if imperfect, you were even able to put out a barrier huh. I shot that one with the expectations of making you mincemeat though. Truly well done. You have genius-level sense” (Io)
“How will you compensate if I end up unable to bear a child? And also, mincemeat you say, how gore. Don’t joke around!” (Hibiki)
“What a lively girl. Have your sword back. It may be a pointless thing for you to do but, how about trying to look for a better sword?” (Io)
Hibiki receives the sword that was thrown out. Of course, the sword wound in his arm was nowhere to be found anymore.
“… When tomorrow comes, I will listen to your advice” (Hibiki)
As usual, the words that showed no sense of tension were somehow returned with impudent talk.
“If you guys live to see tomorrow, you will have a place to return. Those two premises are impossible” (Io)
The demon general’s nonchalant words. However, pointing out their place to return, Hibiki and the others uniformly open their eyes wide.
“Oh, so you get surprised as expected. Right now a detached force is advancing to Limia” (Io)
“Don’t mess around! There is no way the capital will fall with a single unit!” (Bredda)
Bredda is the first one to object. For the demon race to defy with one unit, there is no way Limia Kingdom would fall so easily. Knowing that the fires of war were approaching his birth place, his appearance clearly changed.
“You are right. The scale is around two thousand. In normal circumstances, this is not a force that can be used to attack a major power’s capital” (Io)
In Io’s words one could feel pity. He sighs. While affirming Bredda’s words, the latter half stirred up anxiety.
“What did you do?” (Wudi)
For Wudi, whose family is in the capital, these words felt like someone pouring cold water on him while sleeping. For him who wants his family as far as possible from this war, something that should not happen at any cost is about to happen.
“Magician huh. Well, it’s just that I have reliable reinforcements that’s all. A power that can even overwhelm me is accompanying me” (Io)
“Is the demon army a jack-in-the-box? If there are people like you crawling all around, the hyumans would have been annihilated a long time ago” (Hibiki)
Hibiki’s sarcasm. But her words didn’t show any composure.
“Hero. That’s just how desperate we are. Now, let’s close the curtains of this act. I will not forget you guys’ bravery. Driving away the spider with only 5 and being hyumans to top. The fact that all of you came out alive tells that your strength is the real thing. There was a time when my best friend and I tried to make it retreat, but I ended up letting him die. A blunder of the young me, I truly regret it” (Io)
He doesn’t answer Hibiki’s words, he just declares the finale of this fight. Also, the driving away of the calamity spider that worked as an emotional support for Hibiki and the others, Io points out that this wasn’t an experience they alone had achieved.
It seems there was quite the effect. A clear unrest spreads in the hero’s party. Words that hinted Limia’s ambush and that he had repelled the spider. There is no way Limia’s hero and her party would not get shaken from this.
(… I am thoroughly naïve. If I do an effort of 10, I will certainly get a 10. Thinking that, I came. I am putting my life on the line here. I should have tried my best by 100, 1,000, 10,000 times! I should have done that!) (Hibiki)
What can she do in this despairing situation?
Defeating Io and saving the capital. As expected, she could clearly declare this; that it is totally impossible.
Not enough. The power needed is absolutely not enough. For Hibiki, this was the frustration she was originally looking for. This was the step after desperate effort that Hibiki longed for. Therefore, obtaining this, her answer was obvious. No good.
Having sweat on her cheeks and hair over her face was simply irritating for her. The girl that tried her best and still lost. That was exactly the wish Hibiki had, but the girl began to understand what comes after in that path.
That’s right. The reality of what will happen after a hero loses. The girl, Otonashi Hibiki, began to understand the reality of her existence being a center of hope. Her defeat is not limited to only herself anymore.
At times, there are fights in the battlefield that one simply cannot lose. Being raised in a peaceful land, Hibiki, who had thought this was just a fight in a different world, began to see the reality in it. That she couldn’t continue thinking as she has until now.
A feeling of defeat that was not on the level of when she was defeated by the black spider was now enveloping Hibiki. For the time being, the whole party was still in a condition that can still fight. But the fact that they don’t feel they can win, slowly breaks their heart.
At a distant place.
In the direction where the Limia capital is in.
A golden light of giant magic power proportions splits apart the clouds and pierces the ground.
Of course, this was a happening that occurred in a faraway place. This was a phenomenon that one could see with their eyes, but to estimate the amount of magic power that light had was something Hibiki and the others couldn’t do from their location.
The only thing they could tell was that an intense pillar of light appeared, and it was golden in color.
But what happened? It was a situation that only rolled into the bad side. Hibiki tries to forcefully put her mind together.
“What is that?!” (Io)
It seems Io also didn’t expect this to happen. This made them feel a bit better and they could still hope for the better. The words of dismay that the demon general showed for the first time, sounded like music to Hibiki’s ears.
“That may be a plan to reverse things. Everyone! Just for a bit more, let’s struggle!” (Hibiki)
“I will accompany you!”
“My magic power is not dried out yet anyways!”
“I’ll do my best!”
Of course, there is no way they have such a convenient reversal plan. Everyone understood this.
But even so, the companions that answered the encouragement won’t surrender till the bitter end. This is the strongest weapon that Limia’s hero and her companions possessed.
(Wudi-dono, I am sorry. Can you give me a bit of your time?)
(Naval-dono, what is up?) (Wudi)
Receiving a thought transmission from the girl that was standing with her blade beside Hibiki, Wudi responds without breaking his concentration. A contact from Naval, something that one could count in one’s hands, surprised Wudi.
(This situation… there might be a way to escape from it) (Naval)
(What?! So you need my cooperation for it right?) (Wudi)
(Yeah. I… can’t ask this of Chiya) (Naval)
(… Let’s hear it) (Wudi)
(I am a vanguard that against sturdy opponents can only do the job of getting its attention. I have low attack power. Even though I tried to look for a strong weapon, it is as you see) (Naval)
Naval continues her movements just like before, dodging Io’s attacks while attacking. Seeing her attacking the parts where his defense looks weaker continuously, one couldn’t feel the weakness of her words.
(I think putting a demon general as the basis is a bit of a rash self-evaluation though) (Wudi)
(No. I myself understand this. But for the weapon searching I have troubled myself so much with to be useful here) (Naval)
(What are you trying to say?) (Wudi)
A conversation held out while Wudi is providing support as well as attack magic. The two of them, without breaking their concentration in battle, were continuing their thought transmission. A show of how much ability they possess, proficient people.
(Yeah, I got my hands on a secret plan that will explosively increase one’s strength. And a method to obtain immense attack power as well. It is sad that both of them can only be used once) (Naval)
(… Naval-dono that is…) (Wudi)
(A magician like Wudi-dono may already know of it. The fragment of a rose, Rose Sign, and a death god’s note, *Deadly Word*; is what they are called. Quite the amount of magic power is needed to prepare its activation and it is something I can’t use, but it is something you should be able to easily accomplish) (Naval)
(I refuse. Such a method, Hibiki-dono would not approve of it either) (Wudi)
(There is no need to tell me, I know Hibiki would be against the idea. But, you understand right? That the escape of the hero is something that has to happen. In a sense, the decision of Tomoki-dono is more adult than Hibiki’s) (Naval)
(Guh! That is, certainly true…) (Wudi)
The hero, Otonashi Hibiki, is an existence that must not be lost. Even if one takes away the battle power as a hero, that charisma and way of thinking, and in times their casual words that one can obtain ideas from, all of those are things that the Kingdom needs.
(That’s why, I ask of you. I want you to please let me save Hibiki. You also want to live and reunite with your family right?) (Naval)
(?! Those words… that is underhanded Naval-dono. … Which one are you planning on using?) (Wudi)
(Thanks! Since it is like this, I want to use both. Fighting with the Rose to the bare limit and then finish it with the Death God) (Naval)
(The… two. You have resolved yourself up to that point? … Okay, I will use my all to help you. When given the signal, I will take everyone immediately and show you how I shake off the soldiers at a speed so fast that won’t even let them react to it) (Wudi)
(So you were already aware of my last request huh. I am grateful. Truly… grateful) (Naval)
Taking the chance when she avoids the giant’s attack, Naval moves to the back of where Bredda is positioned in.
“Sorry, Hibiki, Bredda. I have thought of a trifling plan so, is it okay to leave it to me?” (Naval)
“Naval! If you are saying this and leaving us two to fight against this monster, it must mean you have quite the confidence right?!” (Hibiki)
“Merciless, this lady is merciless!” (Bredda)
Of course, the two of them spit out complains one after the other. Their faces were filled with expectation, so they were not truly against the idea. Naval smiles at the behavior of both. For the girl that almost never smiles, this was an unusual happening.
“Just for a bit, I am counting on you guys!” (Naval)
Naval falls back to the rear where Wudi and Chiya are. Wudi had a strained and resolved expression. Chiya had a pure face filled with motivation. Naval, seeing both of their faces, smiled gently.
“Wudi-dono, please” (Naval)
She takes out an earth-colored object the size of a coin from the bag hanging at her waist. It was a form that seemed as if the so called “Rose of the Desert” had become smaller.
Next, a single note. It had thickness, and in the material that could make one think it is cloth, a pattern is engraved.
Seeing the two items taken out, Wudi lowered his brows and sighed deeply. Because the two items were the real deal.
“U-Uhm! What should I do?” (Chiya)
Chiya wasn’t able to understand the situation and asked the two people that had faces as if they knew everything.
Even though she is still young, she is still able to pay attention to the two comrades that have been left to deal with the giant while she talks. Chiya herself still didn’t know but, this is quite the growth.
Hibiki, knowing her hair was going to get in the way, cut it short. She learned about the sword from Naval and magic from Wudi. Seeing that sister-like existence, Chiya tried her best in her own way for the sake of walking beside that person forever. Continuously experiencing the battlefield, Chiya had grown well.
“Chiya… is okay. Just concentrate on those two” (Naval)
“No. Chiya, do your best in providing support to Naval-dono. Cast a strong spell that you won’t need to reapply for a long while” (Wudi)
“… W-Wudi-dono” (Naval)
“Now then, next is the Rose Sign huh. How are you going to sneak the note on him?” (Wudi)
“I will coil it around the handle” (Naval)
“Then let’s fix it as well. You remember the activation key right?” (Wudi)
“As expected, that would be no joke. There’s no problem” (Naval)
Maybe he was trying to soften the mood a bit, the party’s magician smiled and made a light question which was returned with a wry smile.
“… I wasn’t saying that with the intention of a joke though. If you are heading to a once in a lifetime stage, you must worry about those small things just in case” (Wudi)
Magic power flows from Wudi’s hand and the earth-colored item that was in Naval’s hand dissolved into a liquid state and gets absorbed inside of her.
The support magic that was filled with Chiya’s fighting spirit had also finished casting.
Naval, sensing power flooding her body, her shoulders tremble. In the beginning she thought it was because of the efficacy of Chiya’s support magic, but this power that knows no bounds, ignoring the comfortableness of the user, this violent-like power is not something that this small girl’s magic possesses.
“I have confirmed the activation. Start” (Wudi)
The business-like and firm voice of Wudi reaches the ears of Naval. There was no need to tell her, her eyes were already facing the battlefield, at Io.
Her white hair flows in the wind and the back of her neck is revealed. At both sides of her neck, something was there. The pattern of a crimson-colored rose.
“… Rose Sign. Something that I didn’t want to see on a friend if possible” (Wudi)
“… Wudi-dono, this is my wish. Don’t make such a face. Then… I’m going!” (Naval)
From the whole body of the running Naval, a dim radiance is being released. In that figure that would normally be seen as beautiful, Wudi looks at it in pain, as if wanting to cry.
“Uhm… What was the plan?” (Chiya)
“It’s something like the preparations for a sure-kill technique” (Wudi)
“Incredible! Naval-san could use such a technique?!” (Chiya)
Seeing the innocent happiness of Chiya, Wudi stops kneading his magic for a bit and looks at the sky.
“… Yeah. A one-time use” (Wudi)
That voice dissolving into the darkness.