Chapter 2 - What Do You Even Know About Us?

 

***

 

For some reason, Saionji Usagi was in her own room in the Saionji residence when she woke up.

"Good morning, Usagi-ojousama."

As she raised herself from the bed, the maid that stood beside the door had bowed respectfully and greeted her without any emotion.

It was the same morning as always.

The same, unfulfilling morning.

Her brother's death was blamed on her, her grandparents and sister died of illness and father passed away in an accident, and she was blamed for causing all of this to happen by just being alive. In this house, Usagi had no human rights. She only tired herself out when she tried to resist it, and ended up abiding her relatives.

That's right.

She was unable to choose her way of life. That is Saionji Usagi's existence.

It is now, it was in the past, and will be in the future.

"...Good morning."

Usagi returned the morning greeting to the maid, got off from the bed and sat down by the dressing table.

I looked at my doll-like face as I combed my hair.

Today, I turned eighteen.

It was the last day I stay in this house. From tomorrow on, I'll be in Tenmyouji household's care.

The wedding will take place in a week. After school I need to dress myself up and go greet Tenmyouji's relatives.

The person she was to marry, was either the second or third son of the Tenmyouji household Usagi knew since young age. Although she is marrying into Tenmyouji household, the contract states that the children she bears will take on the name of Saionji and will be welcomed back to Saionji household in order to become the household's heirs. Rather than a tool for political marriage, Usagi was treated as a tool for birthing the heir to Saionji household.

Her husband-to-be was a man who mentally cornered Usagi ever since they were young, as if it was his hobby. Whenever she went to Tenmyouji house, she was always treated cruelly.

"............"

She combed her long hair freely and not feeling especially sad, she indifferently spent the morning same as usual.

Honestly speaking, she was accustomed to this kind of treatment. Even after becoming a Tenmyouji, her situation didn't change much.

She had already tired herself out crying and screaming from sorrow in this house.

And she no longer cared about it.

After Usagi finished combing her hair she stood up and walked towards the closet in order to take out her clothes——that's when her hands stopped.

"......?"

Her hand grasped nothing.

It should have been there, her favorite uniform.

Strange. It should be there.

No matter how many times it was washed, it always smelled of mud, soot and gun powder, the uniform that put her through a lot——

"Ojou-sama, I have prepared your clothing."

The maid had brought her a uniform.

A navy blue uniform of the Central Girls' Academy.

"...Oh, that was it."

She must have made a mistake. There was no way her uniform could be in the closet.

Usagi took the uniform from the maid and stood in front of the mirror.

Trying it on herself, she stared intently at mirror.

"............"

And furrowed her eyebrows.

Was this the color of the uniform she always wore?

Was it so neatly-looking?

Usagi turned her head slightly, full of questions that wouldn't go away.

"Um...mm?"

As she looked at her own reflection, tear drops spilled from her eyes.

Although she wiped them off with her fingers, tears continued to flow without end.

She didn't know why was she crying. There was nothing wrong, yet a thought that something is amiss wouldn't disappear from her head.

Usagi closed her eyes, desperate to recall something.

 

Before she noticed, she was inside a church, wearing a wedding dress.

Wearing a dress that was somewhat familiar she stood in front of the main altar.

That's right... today, there is my wedding...

After immersing herself in vague memory, she was reminded that today was the date she marries the Tenmyouji household's scion.

When she turned around, she saw the Saionji and Tenmyouji households' relatives in the seats. Most likely no one would bless this marriage.

Everyone expressionlessly stared at Usagi and the groom.

Usagi slumped dejected, and unable to shake off discomfort she faced forward. The priest spoke words of the oath, she could hear what he was saying, but she couldn't grasp the meaning of his words.

She looked to the side, and saw the groom hidden in the shadow of the daylight coming in through the stained glass.

...Who... was it again?

The groom noticed Usagi's gaze, his mouth alone seemed to form a smile.

The priest continued to mutter some words. When she looked up, she saw a cross decorating the center of the stained glass.

A cross.

Strange. Were churches permitted to decorate themselves with crosses in this world?

She had no idea why she thought this, but she felt there was a law concerning that.

"Do you vow?"

The priest sought the words of an oath from them. Those were the only words I could hear clearly.

"I vow."

After the groom spoke, it was Usagi's turn.

Usagi opened her mouth, but she couldn't mouth the words.

No, she didn't. She didn't want to.

She didn't want to make the vow.

"I..."

When Usagi tried to honestly speak what she felt, the groom pulled her to himself.

Forced to turn forward, she saw the groom's face closing on for a kiss.

Unable to find strength in her body because of fear, Usagi ended up surrendering herself.

The groom's face closed on her, the blonde man made a twisted smile on his face.

"What is it? Usagi."

She remembered. She didn't have her memory, but her body and soul remembered.

This face. This voice. The smile that terrified her ever since she was young. She remembered them.

"——Hurry up and vow, Usagi."

On the verge of their lips touching, Usagi saw the groom's face clearly.

Yes, that was it.

She remembered.

This man, he was——

 

He's my——enemy.

 

——*whud*!

Ignoring the fact her skirt was rolled up, Usagi delivered a right hook with all her strength to the groom.

Starting with his head, the groom was blown away and ended up crashing into the wall.

"...hmph!"

Usagi lifted the hem of the dress with both hands and sent a look of despise to the fallen groom.

The people on the seats started to make bustle and Usagi's relatives showered her with jeers.

Not paying any regard to the noisy audience, Usagi tore off the wedding dress' hem that made it hard for her to move in.

"Usagi-san! What are you doing?!"

Ahh, another familiar voice.

The main culprit who blamed the death of Usagi's siblings on her. Another enemy.

After she finished breaking the dress, Usagi struck the altar with both her hands and all her strength.

The church turned silent once more.

Usagi vigorously turned back to the seats again and puffing her chest, she glared at everyone.

"What is this charade supposed to be?! I won't go back to being my old self with something like this! I will decide my life by myself! You have no right to get in my way!"

And shouted. Her memory was still ambigious and she couldn't recall what was she doing just a while ago, but in this situation she clearly understood this wasn't reality.

"Quit with the charade, how about you face me directly?! Are you lacking the courage to even do that?!"

She didn't know who was it, but Usagi yelled at the one who crafted this situation.

No matter the reason, no matter the goal, it was done too cleverly.

Usagi felt like she had many things she held dear, but for some reason she was missing the memories of them. Most likely the one who created this situation must have intentionally falsified her memory and perception.

But she didn't give in.

The attachment to something, and a bond with someone didn't allow Usagi to give in.

They reminded her, that she was no longer weak.

This kind of farce was no longer able to overcome Saionji Usagi.

——*giggle*, *giggle* *giggle* *giggle*...

Hearing a voice behind her, Usagi turned back vigorously.

There, was a black haired girl clad in dress made of red meat, sitting on the altar. She was embracing her knees as she stared at Usagi, seeming as if she had been there right from the start.

When their eyes met, the figure of the groom who crashed into the wall and her relatives in the seats have all disappeared. All of Usagi's memory also returned.

Recalling her comrades and the battle so far, Usagi glared at the girl in red dress – Kusanagi Kiseki.

"So it failed. Kiseki doesn't know much about weddings, so she couldn't do it too well..."

"............"

"But, it was a nice try wasn't it?"

"You're really... Kiseki-san aren't you?"

Kiseki put a hand on her mouth and giggled merrily.

"Yup, Kiseki is Kiseki. It's been a while, Saionji Usagi-san."

There was not a slightest resemblance to how she used to be. Kiseki wasn't a girl who would laugh so innocently. She used to be like a child lacking confidence, who laughs in a timid manner.

"Ehehe, so, how was the nightmare just now? You see, Kiseki was made sleep and shown nightmares all the time, so she thought of making Usagi-san suffer the same way and had these little ones grant that wish."

"...This is a dream, isn't it. Did you make it?"

"Yup, amazing right? I'm so great."

Kiseki grew tentacles from beneath her feet and rubbed her cheek against part of the stretched Hyakki Yakou as if it was a cat or a dog.

She tamed Hyakki Yakou like it was a pet.

The appearance of her rubbing her cheek against this variant was full of madness.

"...Isn't killing us your goal?"

"Yup. I will."

Kiseki answered with a smile.

"But before I kill Usagi-san and others, I need to kill other humanss in this world. It doesn't seem like Takeru-kun will kill Kiseki unless I do that."

"............"

"But Usagi-san's first. Among Takeru-kun's comrades you're the one who feels most distant, the weakest."

Flapping her legs as she sat on top of the altar, Kiseki swayed the tentacles.

Usagi faced downwards and clenched her fist.

"...I wonder, what is the meaning of this dream?"

Hearing Usagi's question, Kiseki shook her hair and smiled.

"It's to erase Takeru-kun from inside Usagi-san."

"............"

"I imagined the future in which Usagi-san didn't encounter Takeru-kun and made this dream with it. I allowed the little ones erode Usagi-san just a little bit. Kiseki received aaalll of Usagi-san's memories with Takeru-kun."

Usaig furrowed her eyebrows.

Kiseki opened her eyes narrowly and looked at Usagi with eyes so dark, jeebies ran over Usagi.

"——Your past is hardly painful, yet you have Takeru-kun act so kindly to you. Isn't that unfair?"

And before long, Kiseki smiled and started to flap her legs again.

"Kiseki thought of having her little ones erasing Usagi-san's memories directly from her brain, but it seems they can't move that well yet... and if it fails, you'll die."

"............"

"That's why I make you endlessly see nightmares in order to make you understand there was no Takeru-kun in the first place. Kiseki intends to take your life in front of Takeru-kun, but can't forgive Takeru-kun existing inside you."

She leaned forward and while saying "I'm sorry", Kiseki stretched.

Usagi raised her face just slightly and glared at Kiseki.

"Kiseki will do better next time. Make lots of situations, see? She thought of things. What kind of thing would be good? Painful? Bitter? ...Kiseki knows a loooo〜〜〜〜〜〜〜oot of things that are painful, so look forward to it."

"............"

"I will be so painful, so harsh you won't be able to think anything. I'll show you I'll definitely make Takeru-kun disappear from Usagi-san."

Kiseki giggled, the laughter from before returned.

Before Usagi realized, the walls and the floor of the church turned into red meat.

The laughter sounded from the wall and Usagi's body sank into the sea of meat.

Flapping her feet, Kiseki looked down on sinking Usagi.

And Usagi has——

"That is something impossible for you."

Still glaring straight at Kiseki, she raised her chin.

"Because, Kiseki-san knows nothing about me."

"That's not true. I mean, the little ones taught me all of Usagi-san's memory."

Seeing Kiseki act triumphant, Usagi looked at her with pity.

"You can't understand people with just their memories... their strong and weak parts are engraved into their hearts."

"Heart? Human body's heart organ doesn't have anything to do with their mind, y'know? You learn about people by examining what's inside their head."

Kiseki waved Usagi bye-bye.

Usagi didn't look away from Kiseki until right before her body sank in completely.

"There is no way that your wish will be accepted by Kusanagi, no matter what."

Leaving that behind with certainty, Usagi closed her eyes and was swallowed by Hyakki Yakou.

 

"............"

Kiseki left behind in the church watched the ripples marking where Usagi sank in, then erased her expression.

The "her" in this dream was merely part of Hyakki Yakou, but it was connected to Kiseki's main body.

Hyakki Yakou and Kiseki have already become one existence. Even if this was just part of Hyakki Yakou, it was no different from Kiseki herself.

It wasn't multiple personalities, it wasn't consciousness division, it was the real world's Kiseki that was here.

Kiseki turned over Usagi's words in her own head, closed her eyes, and headed over to the next dream.

 

***

 

——In the Border's Grey City, Nikaido Mari stared at the capital burning red.

The terrorist attack with an Einherjar and Ghouls had succeeded, and Valhalla's goal of opening up the forbidden area went well. The Inquisition's headquarters were devastated in no time from the inside and soon after, the capital was destroyed by the berserk Hyakki Yakou in just a blink of an eye.

So far, Hyakki Yakou had finished swallowing up Eastern Japan and was spreading to the West. The Inquisition side that had tried to fight back from the West was attacked by Pureblood Party using transfer magic, and got into a pincer attack.

The complete destruction of old Japan was merely a matter of time. The witches lurking inside the Sanctuary were aiming to cause this situation.

Since Mari was inside the Grey City in a place close to the Sanctuary, she managed to escape the invasion of Hyakki Yakou.

The only safe place in the East was a slum near the Sanctuary.

"............"

Mari was aware that this devastation was all her own fault.

Her promise with the Valhalla which said they won't involve civilians has been broken. It must have been planned. The Valhalla had executed this plan because they wanted to destroy the Old Japan right from the start.

Of course, Mari blamed them for the fact they broke the promise. I don't remember agreeing to help with this, she said.

However,

"Mari-san, I don't think you have the right to blame Valhalla, am I right? You put the children from the orphanage and the Inquisition on a scale, and chose the children."

"...That's...!"

"Moreover, the non-combatant members of the Inquisition were involved in your balancing. For example, people affiliated with Inquisition have parents, siblings, wives and children. Whether they are Inquisitors or not, the weight of life is the same."

"......ngh."

"Rest assured, you didn't kill anyone. But since you won't do it yourself, I have no choice but to kill innocent people. I respect your will to avoid killing but... I wonder who whose view would be more sinful from a general public's perspective?"

Valhalla's executive with whom Mari was cooperating said so with a serious expression.

Although he was a man who enjoyed slaughter with a frivolous smile, Mari was unable to refute him.

"I ended up bullying you a little... But Mari-san, whether you're sinful or not is not the problem. The war has already begun. What's left is to learn who'll win and who'll lose, it's a battle deciding who'll live and who'll die. You too are in the midst of a battle, focusing on what's most important to you is surely, absolutely, the right thing to do."

"............"

"Your anguish and anger are just. You are right. Please stay that way until the very end, until the very moment you die."

The man said so, made a complacent smile and disappeared from in front of Mari.

A month had passed since then, and old Japan continued to remain in chaos.

Just as the man said, Mari could no longer go back. Once she dirtied her hands with blood, they'll stay dirty no matter how much she washed them.

She continued to put things on a balance.

She'll sacrifice many innocent people until the children captured by Valhalla come back.

Mari closed her eyes tightly and threw away the rest of the belief inside her.

"...Found them."

She looked at the survivors walk in from the Border to the Grey City and sent a message through magic communication to Valhalla troops lying in wait for an ambush. There was a short answer and the sorcerers waiting for an ambush started moving, aiming for the evacuees.

The evacuees were all in tatters. They must have seen something unimaginable. They seemed like living dead. Although the remnants of Spriggan have protected the column of the evacuees and remained wary of the surroundings, they completely lost the will to fight.

"Understood. We shall begin the attack."

While listening to the magic communication, Mari looked down at the column of people from the roof of an abandoned building.

Mari was puzzled by the fact she's cooperating with Valhalla.

——How did it turn out like this?

Hiding her mouth behind the muffler, she faced downwards.

I get it that I can't turn back now... there might be no other way, but...

Something isn't right.

Something's strange.

It wasn't strange that the world turned like this.

She looked up while making a displeased expression and scratched her head over the hat.

"So strange... was I a woman who'd be satisfied with a situation like this?"

Something strangely irritated her.

It wasn't this situation, but her memory what irritated her.

The children from the orphanage were taken hostage, so she cooperated with Valhalla which resulted in large amount of victims during the Einherjar terrorist attack.

Things up until that point were fine. The events came together well.

But stuff ahead of that was weird.

"Me... this Nikaido Mari, continuously cooperating with that scum?"

Somehow, she thought it impossible.

She thought that doesn't work for Nikaido Mari.

Certainly, what that scum said was correct, but would she repeat the same mistake over and over again just because of that?

Mari folded her arms in front of her chest, unable to restrain her irritation she repeatedly tapped the ground with her foot.

The people walking in a column saw the ambushing sorcerers appear, she saw them gather in the center of the road.

Valhalla had no mercy for the civilians. At this rate they would be brutally killed.

She glared at the situation below, then lowered the hat right over her eyes.

"But well, since it's come to this it can't be helped. Ahhh, damn, I'm unexpectedly no-good, aren't I!"

After putting her foot on the roof's edge, she jumped directly to the ground.

The moment sorcerers tried to attack the evacuees, Mari created a magic circle and concentrated magic power in her both hands.

"If I was doing something unlike myself——I just need to get myself back!"

She released the magic converged in her both hands all at once.

Although the sorcerers on the ground noticed the surprise attack, they were blown away by the bullet exploding in front of them.

Mari then landed in front of the evacuees, swiped the muffler over her shoulder and confronted the sorcerers with look of confidence.

The sorcerers quickly rose from the ground and yelled at Mari saying "traitor" and "are you taking humans' side?".

Mari snorted soundly and aimed her finger at the sorcerers as if it was a pistol.

"I'm no one's ally. I'll just do whatever I want to do."

——You've been obedient all this time, what's with you after all this time.

The sorcerers showered Mari with jeers.

That's true, it's just as they say, Mari ridiculed herself.

It took her really long. Despite helping out with horrible things so far, changing her mind all of a sudden was the height of indecisiveness.

But unless she did this, she wouldn't be Nikaido Mari.

Nikaido Mari up until a moment ago must have been a lie, or a mistake.

"I'll save whom I want to save. I won't kill anyone. That's me."

You don't care what happens to the children? Asked the sorcerer.

"What are you talking 'bout, obviously I'll save them! I'll get them back from you folks by force!"

Mari made the magic circle huge and approached the sorcerers.

She moved forward without hesitation, her muffler flowing in the wind.

"I'm a little late——but from here on Mari-chan is going to turn seeeerrrrioooously scary, so prepare yourself!"

Mari broke into a run in accordance with her true self.

But that moment, the sorcerers have suddenly disappeared from in front of her.

Nearly falling over because of the remaining momentum, Mari blinked repeatedly. The evacuees behind her also have disappeared.

Instead, there was a lone girl wearing a red dress standing in the middle of the road.

Mari recalled everything. The events in this world were all wrong. She recalled who did she meet so far, with whom she deepened her bonds with and what was she fighting with.

"...Kiseki-chan? Eh? Why...?"

"So Mari-san was actually quite the simpleton."

"Shooock!"

She ended up saying.

Moreover, she was looked with a little of scorn. That surprise attack uncharacteristically hurt Mari.

Unable to grasp the entire situation, Mari put a finger between her eyebrows as she tried to organize her memory.

She remembered now. Right after the fight with Mother Goose, she was swallowed by Hyakki Yakou.

In other words, the girl in front intended to kill her.

But for some reason, Kiseki stopped herself from doing so on the verge of it. There probably was a reason for that, but the fact was that she stopped.

So there was one thing for Mari to do.

"...Kiseki-chan. I don't know what kind of situation is this, but can I say something first?"

"Whaat is it?"

"Try to understand how Takeru feels."

There was a lot she didn't get, but she said the thing she wanted to say the most to Kiseki.

Mari thought that telling her that was the only thing she could do.

But to Kiseki, these words were the greatest taboo of all.

"...Why does Kiseki have to understand...? It's Takeru-kun who broke the promise."

"That's true. But do understand. There is nothing wrong in what he's doing."

Hearing Mari say that indifferently, Kiseki finally flared up with anger.

Like a child she started to stomp her feet on the ground and furiously faced Mari.

"——Why?! Onii-chan doesn't know anything about Kiseki! Just how painful did she feel, how sad she was to be betrayed, he understands none of it! Then why is Kiseki supposed to understand Onii-chan?!"

Kiseki's shoulders shook with anger as she yelled.

In response to her anger, the world was enveloped in demons. Buildings, cars and rubble turned into Hyakki Yakou and directed eyes full of anger at Mari.

The demons roared, caught Mari with outstretched tentacles and raised her up.

But Mari was unfazed. She took on Kiseki's rage and continued without mercy.

"Why, you ask. It's because that way everyone will be happy. You will be happy as well, Kiseki-chan."

"............"

"If it turns out like you want it to, everyone will be unhappy. Everyone will die. There's no way that happening would be any good."

"...everyone, everyone you say, but that won't make Kiseki happy! You're speaking selfish!"

"Selfish? Right back at you."

Mari shrugged.

"Takeru doesn't want to kill you, Kiseki-chan, nor wants to die either. You hate the world so much you want to die together with Takeru. Both of you are super selfish."

"......nhh."

"But I'm on Takeru's side. Actually that was all I wanted to tell you, Kiseki-chan. Understand how Takeru feels. That is all."

She smiled bitterly at glaring Kiseki.

"I get it that no matter what I say, you won't listen. I just said my reason for sticking with Takeru. Honestly speaking, I don't know in the least how Takeru feels about you. I mean, this is Kiseki-chan's and Takeru's problem."

That's why, Mari added and smiled gently.

"Have a proper fight. Just clash your feelings against one another."

Kiseki looked downwards, her fist trembled.

Although these words sounded like she pushed Kiseki aside, Mari understood that these were the only words she had for her.

By talking with her like this, Mari was able to understand just a little about Kiseki.

This girl just... doesn't know anything.

It oozed from every and each of her words, that's what Mari concluded seeing the emotions that were suppressed so far.

Mari could clearly tell her anything she wanted.

Don't involve the world in your personal problems, she could say as if it didn't involve her.

But Mari wasn't as stoic as to tell something as harsh to a child who was only ever allowed to die.

Above all, surely the one who is to say that to Kiseki, was Takeru.

Hyakki Yakou's tentacles wrapped around Mari started eroding her.

And Kiseki only continued to glare up at Mari.

"No matter what you say... Kiseki won't change."

"I know. Takeru's the same. You two sure are siblings."

Siblings. Told so, Kiseki glared even more intensely.

Mari knew Kiseki got angry hearing that.

Because that was the thing she wanted the least.

"...Kiseki wants only Takeru-kun... she doesn't need Onii-chan...!"

After closing her eyes sadly, Mari was swallowed by Hyakki Yakou.

...It's up to you... Takeru...

There was no guarantee that she would continue to remain safe like this.

Mari had no way of doing anything about this situation.

That's why right now, she could only entrust everything to Takeru.

 

***

 

——When Suginami Ikaruga woke up, she was in the genetic engineering's control room inside the Alchemist's research facility.

On the other side of the control room's glass window, there were water tanks reminiscent of a giant test tube.

Inside all of them, there were successfully restored dark elves.

Number-wise, there was a silly number of a thousand of them.

Four years have passed ever since the first restoration. The alchemist has reached the phase of mass production and were able to make practical use of dark elves as weapons.

The first dark elf was handed over to Valhalla, and has devastated the Inquisition's headquarters in the capital.

Valhalla showed off the power of dark elves to people all over, making humans fear them. Humans could do nothing against that but to surrender.

The witches who were living inside the Sanctuary have invaded old Japan and requested the Western branch of Inquisition to surrender, but Inquisition had refused.

In response Valhalla used the dark elves as a forceful measure.

But Alchemist had also provided dark elves to the Western branch of Inquisition.

The reason for that was simple.

They wanted battle data of dark elves battling other dark elves.

It was just as Alchemist speculated it would be. The dark elves didn't function as a deterrent, old Japan's has literally ceased to exist with exception of Kantō, Tōhoku and Kyūshū regions.

The remaining land was filled with magic disasters caused by elves. After losing the purification systems they were no longer suitable environment for humans to live in.

It could be said that old Japan was completely destroyed.

"With this, we have all the data on dark elves... what do we do next? Ikaruga."

A woman wearing a red lab coat next to her, had looked towards Ikaruga.

She couldn't see her face well, but it was clear the woman was smiling merrily.

"What is it? You should rejoice more. With this we can move on to the next study subject you know?"

"............You're right. I'm glad."

"Fufu, I heard some nice information. America's Magic Academy apparently has gotten their hands on a Lost Matrix of a high elf, until now we've only found their fossils."

"............"

"It's high elves you know? An S-class designation only mentioned in legends. If we restore them we'll reach even greater heights."

Seeing the woman frolic like a child, Ikaruga awkwardly smiled.

It wasn't that she wasn't happy. For her, who lived only for the sake of research this progress was a great achievement.

To Suginamis research was everything. To them, the research process was trivial compared to the results, and the opportunity to start a new research was said to be a bliss

She would be achieving even greater heights together with the one she shares blood with. There was no reason no to be happy.

And yet...

For some reason Ikaruga didn't feel satisfied.

"Hey... is this really all right that we do this? Does it really match us?"

"? What do you mean by that?"

"...I don't know. But, something is... lacking."

When Ikaruga said this, the woman laughed in amazement.

"Well, of course. We won't be satisfied with just this much. Next time we'll tackle something more difficult. But let's rejoice over this first."

Although the woman was correct, Ikaruga was unconvinced.

She stared at the inside of the familiar laboratory.

It was an inorganic and cold place smelling of medicine.

...What am I missing...?

The countless number of dark elf fetuses which could be said to be the product of madness.

...No... it's not "missing"...

Ikaruga placed her hand on the glass window and traced towards the closest dark elf fetus.

She compared the elf sleeping inside a cramped water tank to herself.

"It's cramped."

"............What?"

"This place, it's cramped."

The woman didn't understand what was Ikaruga saying and looked puzzled.

Ikaruga didn't know why did she think so either.

She lived her life like this up until now and never questioned her way of living, but for some reason she felt this place was too cramped.

Ikaruga stared at the woman as she worriedly peeked into her face.

Although she was unable to see her face clearly, looking at her for some reason made her incredibly lonely. Despite the fact the woman was in front of her, it felt like she was far, far away.

Then, Ikaruga placed a hand on the woman's cheek.

Seeming worried, the woman placed a hand on top of Ikaruga's hand.

"...What's happening, Ikaruga?"

"Hey, let's leave this place together."

"? What are you saying? This is our only home. There's no other place for us."

"You can make any place your home. We'll just make the place we go to our home. Anywhere would be better than this."

"............Ikaruga?"

"Please, let's escape this place together."

Placing a hand on the woman's shoulder, Ikaruga tried to persuade her.

But she only stared at Ikaruga and did not say anything.

Ikaruga took her hand off the woman and took a step back.

...I feel like... I told this woman the same thing before...

She was unable to find anything in her memories of the past, but she couldn't help feeling it.

"Sorry... I'll go alone."

A single tear droplet spilled from Ikaruga's eye.

She turned around on her heel and without wiping the tear, she started walking in the opposite direction of the woman.

"Ikaruga... where are you going? Do you intend to leave this place?"

"............"

"Wait. Here is where you're supposed to be. Don't go anywhere."

".................."

"Don't leave me, Ikaruga."

Hearing the voice desperately try to stop her, she felt her chest tighten.

Despite that, Ikaruga did not stop walking. Leaving her other half behind, she shook off the voice stopping her and walked away.

This is no longer your home, her heart screamed.

She didn't know where was it, but she ought to have another home.

Someone should be there, waiting for her.

That's why she had to go.

After she opened the door to the control room, Ikaruga turned back to the woman and spoke.

"Bye bye... Isuka."

And carried her foot to the other side of the door.

The moment she left the control room——her vision went pitch black.

Surprised, Ikaruga stood in the darkness.

The memories inside her head started returning. She recalled various things, as if she had woken up from a dream.

Her thoughts rapidly cooled off. She recalled that the parting with her other half, her tears, were all a farce. She felt as if she was dirtied.

Ikaruga laughed, mocking the master of this world.

"...It's pointless no matter how many times you try, Kusanagi little sister."

Feeling a presence behind her, Ikaruga turned around.

Kiseki wearing a red dress looked in her direction with hatred in her eyes.

"You show me a dream to imprint false memories... it might seem a lot of time has passed, but in real world about two minutes passed, right?"

"............"

"Not even Hyakki Yakou can't erase other other people's memories. Well obviously, it would be a different case if they eroded them and made them part of itself, but I'm not part of you yet. Hah, what a farce. No matter how many times you do this the result will remain the same."

"...Why...?!"

While Kiseki groaned in chagrin, Ikaruga scooped up her bangs and approached her.

Then, after looking at her from above she brought her face really close to Kiseki's.

"As long as I'm me it won't work no matter how many times you try, you silly thing."

"............"

"Is this the thirtieth time? You ought to learn something already."

Kiseki clenched her teeth frustrated.

Ikaruga smiled faintly.

"Let me tell you this. I won't spoil you like Usagi or Nikaido."

"......!!"

"I mean, even before all this happened, I hated you right from the start."

When she snorted, Kiseki stretched out tentacles from beneath her feet and tightened them around Ikaruga's neck.

They tentacles weren't tightened too strongly. There was no intent to kill. Even inside a dream Ikaruga couldn't any murderous intent from Kiseki.

Just as she declared to, she probably intends to kill them in front of Takeru.

That was probably the case.

But Ikaruga had another idea as for why Kiseki wouldn't kill them despite being able to... the reason why she won't kill them.

She just coldly stared at Kiseki who bared her hatred.

"Angry? Then why not just kill me?"

"You don't have to tell me, I will. But I will kill you in front of Takeru-kun...!"

"Did you know that threatening your prey like that is pointless?"

Ikaruga ridiculed Kiseki and laughed.

"Hey, do you want me to tell you the real reason why you won't kill us?"

"......?"

"Think well. Y'know, even if you kill us now that will make no difference to Kusanagi, right? I'm sure you know that."

That this is just a farce. Ikaruga said with a smile.

And,

 

"The reason you won't kill us is——because you actually don't want to be hated by your dear, beloved Takeru-kun, do you?"

 

"————Nhgh...!"

Kiseki who kept strangling Ikaruga was at loss of words. Hyakki Yakou's movements stopped for a moment.

Ikaruga noticed that, and once again laughed at Kiseki.

"Your plan to have Kusanagi's hatred directed to you alone because you want to monopolize him is a lie. If you kill us, he really will only hate you. Rather than a little sister he loves, you will be an enemy to take revenge upon. You'd hate that from the bottom of your heart, right?"

Pupils in Kiseki's wide open eyes shook with anger.

"You don't want it to end and die while being hated, right? You actually want to die while still being loved by him. You want a double suicide while remaining the cutely cute Kiseki-chan."

"That's not true... Kiseki wants..."

"If you don't care about appearances, be more thorough with it. Throw away love and such. Now you only continue to flap your mouth like a half-hearted little bitch. Since you're not killing us because you don't want to be hated by Kusanagi, you probably thought of making us suffer with this farce. How silly, it's so obvious. Not only you're a stupid brat, but also a small fry."

"W-what do you even know about Kise——"

"Hahahaha, you think I don't?"

Ikaruga's gaze that seemed to see right through Kiseki made her anger reach the apex.

The tentacles strangling Ikaruga's neck were released and the moment she thought her freedom returned, Kiseki herself held Ikaruga's throat.

"You don't understand not a single thing about Kiseki...!"

"You getting angry... is the proof I'm right."

"Shut up! Stop acting as if you know anything about Kiseki!"

"Or what will you do... kill me...?"

While strangling Ikaruga, Kiseki had pierced her body with multiple tentacles. Although this should have been a dream, the pain of being pierced was real.

"I'll have you taste Kiseki's memories...! I'll let you experience the same thing Kiseki has experienced until now...!'

"............"

"And then, you'll stop acting so arrogant...! Surely, you'll feel the same Kiseki feels...!"

Tentacles started eroding her, and Ikaruga's body became part of Hyakki Yakou.

"But you won't be able to do anything! No one will ease you or help you! All alone you will just continue to die until the world ends...! I will teach you... just how painful, how sad that is...!"

"Haa... So, you want others to understand you?"

Even at this point, Ikaruga further provoked Kiseki.

"You want others to understand you, so you'll just force your memories on others... what a kid. Like that, you won't win the fight against Kusanagi."

"You insolent——!"

Suddenly, Ikaruga extended her hand towards Kiseki's cheek, distorted with anger.

Kiseki's body stiffened completely.

"Go on, force your memory on me. If after experiencing the same thing I admit defeat, I'll apologize to you while crying and even prostrate miserably in front of you. But if I remain the same after having the same experience, then——"

Ikaruga stroked Kiseki's cheek and smiled fearlessly.

"——I'll mock you again."

At the same time her hand slid down Kiseki's cheek, Kiseki swallowed her with Hyakki Yakou.

Until the very end, Ikaruga continued to look down at Kiseki from above.

 

***

 

"Kusanagi Double-Edged style——Heavenly Evil Spirit!"

Unsheathing the blade at once, he cut down the demon incarnations.

Physical attacks weren't damaging Hyakki Yakou too effectively. However, high-speed attacks while in Soumatou generated a shockwave which had the power to blow away the demon cells away from the cut surface.

After using the technique Takeru lowered his body, turned the blade around as it nearly touched the ground and bent his knees in chi-no-kamae before using his legs as springs at full power.

"——Pipe Fox!"

And at the same time he leaped, he swung the sword upwards.

The blade slashed the demon into the jaw from below, cut apart its brain and blew it apart.

Kusanagi Double-Edged style's Pipe Fox was a primitive form of True Light style's Wolf Blade. It served to fool the enemy and make them think the user has weakened, tricking them into attacking by jumping from above.

Similarly to Mantis Slope it was a technique for attacking from surprise, a technique to recover from a hopeless situation by aiming at enemy's vitals.

Of course, when it fails the user exposes himself to attacks, after its usage the user is defenseless in mid-air which made it a suicidal technique.

Currently, Takeru was surrounded by Hyakki Yakou. A huge wave of demon incarnations flocked towards him from all over.

Takeru sheathed the sword in the air and slid the sheath to the back of his waist.

"Lapis——Spin us!"

"FM Booster, full throttle."

Just as Takeru instructed, particles of magic blew from the gaps in the armor. They ejected from only Takeru's right side.

He rotated in the air like a top.

"Double-Edged style——Single Wheel!"

The omnidirectional sword draw technique was used in a state where it shouldn't have been possible. At the same time it was unleashed, the sword extended to length of meters and rotated like a propeller.

Takeru's body maintained high enough pace to hover in the air and blew away all the attacking demons.

As if he was a center of an explosion, all the Hyakki Yakou around Takeru was blown away opening an empty site.

But Hyakki Yakou had immediately rushed at him again.

Their numbers equaling infinite have gathered at where he landed.

"Zweihander!"

"Understood."

The moment Lapis stopped ejecting magic power inversely to rotate them, the blade has transformed into a several tens of meters-long zweihander. Takeru twisted his body forward and swung the sword while tilted towards the ground.

"Mantis Slope!"

——*thudd*!

Takeru's strike crushed the flooding Hyakki Yakou.

The ground had repeatedly rose and caved in as the shockwave ran over the school grounds.

"............"

On top of the raised ground, Kiseki coldly stared at Takeru's unparalleled display.

Even when the cloud of dust cleared up and Takeru emerged from inside, Kiseki remained expressionless.

Takeru slowly walked towards Kiseki while shouldering the sword.

"...Lapis, is magic power all right?"

"There's still plenty of headroom in normal Witch Hunter mode."

"Sorry, keep with me for a little longer."

"...The problem is Host's body."

He already noticed it even without Lapis saying this.

His body exceeded the limit long time ago, but on the contrary to that his speed and power increased significantly. As it could be seen when the demons attacked, even in Witch Hunter mode his attacks shouldn't have that much destructive power.

The reason he was able to exert such destructive power was because his body didn't feel pain. Normally when he used techniques he could predict how much recoil was his body subjected to, and naturally restrained power.

Right now, Takeru was unable to do that, nor intended to.

Currently, he was unable to even feel the load of Soumatou. Every time he used a technique surely his bones were crushed and muscles must have burst. The reason he was able to move despite that, was because Lapis made healing of his body the highest priority.

Takeru's brain had the part responsible for pain completely burned off.

It would probably never heal.

He felt really apologetic for making Lapis worry about his body.

"I'm sorry... really sorry."

"...Please, don't apologize. I know."

Any more words were needless.

Lapis knew how Takeru felt best of all.

She knew the best that despite having his body turn like this, Takeru couldn't afford to withdraw.

"Do as you please... I won't stop you. After all, you have continued to fight all this time, for this moment."

"Thank you."

After saying his thanks, Takeru approached within ten meters of Kiseki.

And confronted her without hesitation.

"Yo. Is this chambara play going to last long?"

"You're amazing, Takeru-kun."

"Is that sarcasm? It doesn't make me happy to be praised by someone who fights me without intent to kill."

Takeru told Kiseki with resignation.

Kiseki too, faced with Takeru with resigned expression.

"But Takeru-kun doesn't have the least intention of killing Kiseki either."

"Yeah, I should've told you at first. I won't kill you."

"If you don't die with me, the world will be destroyed and people precious to you will die, you know? As long as Takeru-kun dies together with Kiseki everyone will be happy, why not understand that?"

"In your 'everyone' there's no me, or my comrades."

Tapping his own shoulder with the back of the blade, Takeru glared at Kiseki.

"Same to you, why did you go and make ridiculous amount of trouble for other people, then didn't accept salvation? You could have become a normal human and lived a normal life. Everyone would be happy with that, there was no reason to refuse was there?"

When Takeru asked, Kiseki made an exhausted smile that caused wrinkles under her eyes.

"'Cause, there's no salvation for Kiseki in that."

"There is. You would become happy."

Her smile was tinted with bitterness.

"...You say the same thing Mari-san had said."

"......?"

"——Kiseki will decide what's her happiness. Don't decide for me, Takeru-kun."

The two's wishes differed.

Neither of them budged an inch.

Their wishes... no, it might not have been something that pure.

That wasn't the case right from the start.

The two just did whatever they wanted to do. That's about it.

They intended to carry through with it.

Fighting was completely meaningless. It was natural that neither of them intended to kill the other.

But it could be said that Takeru was overwhelmingly disadvantageous in this fight.

Kiseki put a finger on her lips and giggled.

"Takeru-kun, do you really understand what your selfishness means?"

"............"

"I will teach you what not dying together with Kiseki means."

She moved her finger away from her lips and slowly raised her slender arm to the sky.

——Then swung it downwards at once.

Takeru intuitively understood what that gesture meant.

He felt like he heard screams he shouldn't have been able to hear.

"Just now, three thousands of people have died."

She moved her hands behind her back and shaking her hair she said.

"Did you understand? Kiseki doesn't lie."

".................."

"And now, two thousands."

Kiseki combed her hair as she said that.

There was a sound of earth squirming far in the distance. Kiseki listened to that as if it was classical music.

Takeru furrowed his eyebrows.

"How pitiful. Part of Kiseki did it in an instant so that they don't suffer, but she could tell everyone's fear as they disappeared. It's natural, since they became part of Kiseki."

"............"

"It's Takeru-kun's fault for being stubborn. Once Kiseki makes this planet hers, she'll probably swallow all the people on the surface at once. It will be Takeru-kun's fault for that happening."

Hearing her words, Takeru faced downwards.

Seeing him clench the sword hilt, Kiseki closed her eyes a little satisfied.

However, Takeru has,

"Stop doing pointless things."

Declared Kiseki's actions pointless.

She tilted her head, puzzled.

"Pointless? Takeru-kun, when you heard Kiseki killed a lot of people you were upset, right? You felt guilt because a lot of people died because of you? You probably have. Then it wasn't pointless. If you want to stop Kiseki, you just have to fulfill the promise."

Kiseki spread her both arms wide, her eyes weren't laughing.

The city visible from the hill was completely filled with red demons and there was no remnant of it.

The giant demon tree continued to grow, as if sucking out the planet's life.

Although it wasn't long, he recalled the days he spent in this city. Although they were days full of battles, it wasn't all bad things. There were several good memories of it.

He didn't want it to be destroyed.

If possible, he would like to save it.

But——there was no change to Takeru's heart.

"No matter how many people you kill, I won't kill you."

He put his selfish ego in words, one a decent human wouldn't have.

The reason Takeru was upset wasn't because a bunch of humans lost their lives, but because Kiseki seemed to have taken lives of people unrelated to this.

The fact his little sister was murdering pained him more than the people dying.

That was what he meant by saying "pointless".

A decent human being would have killed Kiseki for the sake of the unrelated people in the world.

Moreover, they would kill Kiseki to stop her from killing any more people.

But Takeru was different.

No matter how many people die in this world, he won't kill his little sister.

No matter how much blood she'll stain her hands with, he won't kill her.

Knowing that he is the only one in this world who can kill her, he doesn't do that.

His little sister was more important to him than humanity, and she was also more important than her own sins.

He made a clear division in priorities.

Takeru was the most troublesome older brother in the world.

Even Kiseki seemed to feel aversion to Takeru's selfishness.

He wasn't lying nor bluffing, even Kiseki could tell that much.

Holding the entire humanity as a hostage against this man was pointless.

It wasn't the humanity that should be taken hostage but——

"This is how I am. For the first time I ran away from you, for the second I broke the promise out of my selfishness. Do you want to die together with me despite that? You want to die together with this kind of guy?"

Moreover, I'm saying that I won't kill you even at expanse of the entire world.

In response to Takeru's question Kiseki immediately nodded.

"Kiseki won't change. Takeru-kun is all there is for her."

She replied, in response to which Takeru laughed.

"Why laugh?"

"No, that's it. I'm the only one you know. You've been in a cage all this time so you don't know any people other than me. Possibly there's lots of other guys, much better than me y'know?"

"............"

"Don't you think it's a waste? Don't you think it's pointless? I have not the slightest intention of committing a double suicide with you, isn't it tiring to do pointless things?"

"How silly. I don't care about such things."

Her heart wasn't moved in the least by Takeru's words.

Takeru scratched his head and heaved a sigh seeing his little sister act stubborn.

Kiseki had no intention of understanding him.

From her point of view, humanity was just an insurance.

If she wanted to shake Takeru up for real, she had something else.

"You say you won't kill me even if entire humanity dies... but talking costs nothing."

"If possible, I'd like you to stop. 'Cause it's a waste."

Realizing neither side intends to yield, Kiseki sighed.

"Takeru-kun. I think talking any more than this is pointless."

"............"

"Kiseki got bored of talking. She needs to kill all people in the world, and kill others then. Usagi-san, Mari-san, Ikaruga-san... Ouka-san, Kiseki can kill them any time."

Seeing Takeru's expression sharpen, Kiseki grew Hyakki Yakou from beneath her feet.

It spread out like a pool of blood and continued to grow a wall behind her.

That wall swelled and Takeru could see something come out from inside.

"——!!"

He was astonished. White-skinned humans appeared from the red meat.

They were his comrades from the 35th platoon.

Everyone had their eyes closed and were unconscious.

Kiseki wrapped tentacles around Ouka and others' limbs, showing off their miserable appearance to Takeru.

"Dumb, right. Not even trying to run away from Kiseki... these people tried to go help Takeru-kun. I quickly saved them."

"............"

"Safekeeping them without eroding is quite hard. The little ones listen to Kiseki now, but since Kiseki wants to kill these people it might be difficult to hold them back."

Raising her eyebrows, Kiseki stroked her lips.

When she did, Hyakki Yakou carried Ouka right beside her.

Kiseki wrapped her both hands around Ouka's head, then slowly scratched her cheek with a white nail.

".........ngh.........!"

She smiled happily seeing Takeru gnash his teeth.

"With this Takeru-kun understands what kind of person Kiseki is, right? You hate me, don't you? You want to kill me, don't you? But it's not over yet. After I kill all the people in the world I will torment these people for a long time, so look forward to it."

"............"

"And then, Kiseki wants you... to pour all that hate into her..."

Her wide-open eyes were full of madness and wild joy.

All Takeru could do was suppress his anger. This was the worst situation possible. The world aside, everything that was dear to Takeru was taken hostage.

This was more than enough to shake his heart.

"......! Lapis, prepare so that Ragnarøkkr Enchantcan be used any time...!"

"Understood."

Pulling half of his body back, Takeru took a thrusting stance.

Being directed clear intent to kill at, Kiseki laughed happy from the bottom of her heart.

"Aha... you see, Kiseki always wanted Takeru-kun to do that. Stare at her with these eyes... stare at Kiseki alone. Kiseki noticed that to have her wish fulfilled, she needs Takeru-kun's hatred."

"...Let me tell you this beforehand."

"You understand, so it's fine right? I don't want to fight with Takeru-kun. No matter what Takeru-kun says, Kiseki loves Takeru-kun. Just be quiet and hate Kiseki... Kiseki is the only thing you have to look at."

It was a distorted and sad desire.

If the person she loves won't look at her alone, she'll make it so only she is in his sight.

If the person she loves won't kill her, she'll make it so that he'll feel like killing her.

——Hatred.

That was the only method that allowed Kiseki to have all of it.

Once again Takeru gnashed his teeth as he understood that.

"...I get it. I understand what you want, Kiseki.

So you intend to become that kind of person. I'm glad I confirmed that. Thank you for telling me that."

While Kiseki made an ecstatic expression, Takeru declared flat-out.

He thrust the result of balancing things inside himself at Kiseki.

Red demon eyes pierced through Kiseki from behind long bangs.

"If you kill even one of my comrades,

 

————————I'll kill you."

 

Takeru declared that he will execute what he continued to refuse until now.

He said the words he wouldn't say even if the entire humanity was on the line.

Kiseki's cheeks loosened comfortably.

She wanted to hear these words. She continued to wait for these words.

However.

Takeru continued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMA_v12_117

 

 

 

 

"But, no matter what happens I have no intention of dying together with you."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"......? Just now, what?"

"I said I'm not dying with you."

"............?"

Takeru resolved the thrust stance, swung the sword wildly and took a deep breath.

Then put everything he had into the roar he released towards Kiseki.

"——Of course I won't dammit! Why would I do a double suicide together with someone I friggin' hate!!"

He roared with voice loud enough to cause ringing in her ears, loud enough to seem like it resounded throughout the city.

His temple convulsed from anger, his eyebrows wrinkled and pupils contracted.

There was no sight of the gentle brother, only Kusanagi Takeru's figure.

Only Kusanagi Takeru, directing his hatred at Kiseki.

"I'll pass on dying happily together with someone who killed my comrades! Even if the world is destroyed, my comrades die and I'm left alone together with you——I'm definitely, DEEEEFINITELY not dyin'! I'm going to live even if I have to eat rocks and drink piss!"

"............"

"I don't deny revenge... if you kill my comrades it won't matter whether you're my little sister or not, I'll cut you down without hesitation!!"

At the end, Takeru exhaled as if spitting out, took another big breath and tensing up, he looked down on little Kiseki from above.

Kiseki opened her eyes wide and did not respond.

"You know, being hated by people is... this is how it means to be hated by me...! If you still don't understand, I'll make it easy to understand for you!"

"....................."

"What kind of idiot does what the person he hates the most wants him to do! There's a limit being conceited, dammit!"

It was a very sound argument.

It was nothing complex. A conclusion anyone can reach with ease.

That was what being hated meant.

Kiseki didn't know even something that simple.

It's because Takeru was very simple that he could refuse Kiseki's mistaken wish.

Love and hate are two sides of the same coin, it could be said they are separated by a thin line. That's what he would like to say but that would be showing off too much.

Fuck this.

Fuck this, Takeru spat out.

He didn't know well what is love, but it was impossible for it to be similar to hatred.

There was no way hatred would turn into salvation.

That much——he could guarantee.

"Choose. Be hated by me, be killed by me and die all alone... or live together with me...!"

You won't get what you want by using hatred, no matter what. Takeru declare to Kiseki.

There was no choice but to do this.

The two ways turned into one.

If Kiseki makes the wrong choice, Takeru won't hesitate. No matter how much he ends up hurt, he will take his little sister's life if she kills his comrades.

No matter what anyone says, he had no intention of overturning this decision of his.

Originally, she was his precious little sister he had to protect. That hasn't changed even now. She was his pitiful little sister carrying a cursed destiny.

It was fine if he was blamed for everything. He was prepared to carry this burden. If it's for his little sister, he would give anything with exception of his own life.

However, even Takeru had a limit of what he could tolerate. He abandoned the idea of dying together, broke the promise with Kiseki, and gained precious comrades for whom he would stick to his life.

Even if it's his beloved sister, if she deliberately takes the lives of his comrades——he'll be furious.

——And will snap.

——Then do anything he can to have revenge.

That was his ego, one he intended to carry through with.

"You're still human...! Don't let your heart become demon's, and be cut by me... Kiseki!"

Making his last wish, Takeru turned the blade towards Kiseki.

Stunned, Kiseki stared at Takeru and staggered.

"...Kiseki is... is..."

She held her head as if she tried to stop her own sense of self from collapsing and continued to grumble something.

Sweat appeared on Takeru's forehead as he held the sword.

Having a fight with Kiseki——to Takeru, this was practically a bet.

Although he had the power to kill her, he didn't have the power to stop her.

To stop her, he could only use words.

Takeru engraved in his heart the words told him by Mari.

"Kiseki-chan is the one who has to change."

He thought that she was right.

In order to change Kiseki he decided to have a fight with her.

Just like Takeru who changed from a demon to a human, Kiseki too should be able to as well.

Kiseki was still human. If she really didn't have any hesitation, she would have destroyed humanity without coming in contact with Takeru and killed his comrades without showing them off to him.

She still remained part human.

Part of her yearning for her brother, a lingering affection was still remaining.

Takeru believed so.

There was no other way to stop Kiseki but to bet on that.

"Why...? Kiseki decide this is fine... she decided to do her best... and yet this..."

The released Hyakki Yakou wailed, as if responding to Kiseki's hesitation.

"...strange... since when did Kiseki..."

Her appearance as she questioned herself, looked painful.

Kiseki swayed between madness and sanity.

No, surely there was no madness in her in the first place. In her own way, Kiseki just worked towards her own goal. It must have been inevitable, since Takeru broke his promise.

The giant tree towering over the city swayed in response to Kiseki's confusion.

It was unknown whether they activated, or ceased to operate because of Takeru's words.

However——there was no mistake that this was a big chance.

Takeru squeezed the handle, a flame appeared in his pupils.

"——Lapis! Ragnarøkkr Enchant!"

He shouted, instructing Lapis.

A magic circle emerged beneath his feet, both his field of view and the blade filled with twilight.

There were several things beyond expectations. Since his comrades were already captured by Kiseki, there was no choice but to use it here. Twilight Enchantwas unable to absorb Hyakki Yakou and destroy it. Rather than to kill Kiseki, he had to use this power to bring back his comrades.

He would wipe out all the unnecessary things from around Kiseki by using Ragnarøkkr Enchantand temporarily strip her naked.

In order to confront her while she's human in body and mind.

Face each other as humans in order to convey his real feelings to Kiseki.

Takeru's hand holding the sword trembled for the first time now. A vision of himself ending up killing Kiseki in an emergency appeared in his head, terrifying him.

——Don't hesitate, do it!

Before I turn berserk out of desperation I'll bring back my comrades——and turn Kiseki back human!

Magic gathered in the blade and the power to kill gods was on verge of activating.

He will put everything he has into this one strike.

This is the battle he bets everything on!

 

"Mmhallelujah hallelujah♪——you really are waay too selfish, makes me sick."

 

His focus directed on Kiseki was disturbed.

An attack was coming. An ambush. A surprise attack.

Takeru knew this way of speaking——it was him.

A gold and black shadow danced in the corner of Takeru's field of vision.

He swung the sword towards the attacker coming from the sky.

Blade clashed with a blade and Takeru's magic was interrupted.

"——AaaAAA!!"

"——HA!!"

In the middle of a swirling shockwave, Takeru exchanged gazes with the surprise attacker.

Of all possible times——this guy appears now.

As if he'd forget. This way of doings things, this swordplay, this disgusting flashy blonde hair.

Every time he's the worst. Every time he appears suddenly.

The guy who descended from nowhere in the sky and swung his sword in a straight line downwards was——

"It's been a while, Kusanagi Takeru!"

"Hauntedd...!!"

Takeru swung his sword in anger.

Haunted attacked from the front only at first, once Takeru slashed at him with all his anger he lightly avoided and stepped backwards.

Then, rotated his body twice and facing Takeru he spread his arms.

Exaggerated as usual, overblown as usual, bold as usual,

Haunted the Necromancer made a self-satisfied expression enjoying his own advent, completely unable to read the mood.

"I was close to being coooompleetely late for the end of the world but——I'm glad I made it! The side dish Kiseki-san, my enemy the main dish as well as my dolce Mari-san are luckily still alive!Wonderful!"

He swung the magic sword Dáinsleif, raised it up in front of his face and grinned.

Takeru wordlessly sheathed Mistilteinn.

Exhaled deeply and stopped himself from breathing in.

"Still, you. Yeah you, Kusanagi Takeru. Didn't you lose your direction? Who on earth prioritizes comrades over the entire humanity?! Moreover you refuse to kill your little sister that murdered countless people, isn't that outrageous?! As fellow morally bankrupt person I'm impressed!"

"Kusanagi Double-Edged style secret art——"

"However howeeeever! You were supposed to whisper sweet nothings to Kiseki-san to persuade her! What's up with you bringing her down to the depths of despair? You were supposed to have a tearful reunion with Kiseki-san in each other's arms, and then I was to make my appearance, but it's all ruined! Making others despair is my——"

 

"——Kusanagi Sword."

 

Meanwhile Takeru had——as if to respond to the surprise attack from earlier, triggered the Demon Heart and released the Double-Edged style's secret technique.

Without hesitation he slashed with supersonic speed. He didn't skimp out on power. Although normally activating the Demon Heart was quite a lot of work, there was no need to concentrate his thinking on cutting down this guy.

Against him, Takeru felt nothing but the instinct to "cut him".

Blown him away as fast as possible. Don't give him any more time to talk.

He had to save Kiseki and his comrades.

There was no time to allow some irregulars to suddenly step in——!

In the world stopped by Demon Heart, Takeru attacked Haunted.

Haunted was in the middle of making his speech with a complacent expression, but right after Takeru announced the secret art's name he grimaced slightly and started taking an evasive action.

It could be said that he did well reacting, but there was no way for him to catch up.

The surprise attack using speed Takeru inherited from his master he was able to cut anyone and anything.

At the same time he unsheathed the sword, he slashed Haunted's torso.

Then continuing he turned around the blade and cut at enemy's brains from above.

Being cut in the head and starting to split apart, Haunted looked at Takeru.

However, Takeru didn't match his gaze and continued to attack.

Third slash, fourth slash, fifth slash, sixth slash, seventh slash——in order not to allow him recover, in order not to allow him to get in Takeru's way, he continued to cut him up in small pieces so that even cells are blown away.

Fifteen slashes in total.

After Takeru chopped Haunted up, he turned his back to him.

Immediately after Demon Heart's effect expired, Haunted's body exploded backwards.

Takeru looked for Kiseki while having his back covered with tremendous amount of blood and pieces of meat.

"Kiseki...!"

However, she was nowhere to be seen.

In the place Kiseki stood, there was a flat, bloody pool of wriggling Hyakki Yakou.

Without doubt she must have sank in underground and hid herself.

"................................................This is the worst..."

It was the worst thing that could happen.

Like this, he only rejected Kiseki and pushed her down to bottom of despair.

He was unable to bring back his comrades, he disturbed Kiseki's mind and clearly became enemies with her.

Their quarrel wasn't over yet. Since he's unable to reach out to Kiseki, the world might end.

He needs to chase after her.

His little sister must be hurt now, he has to look for her...

"——Here I thought you would come at me fair and square, a surprise attack was unexpected. I ended up dying about five times, because of that."

*pat*, a hand was placed on Takeru's shoulder.

The culprit behind this situation stood behind Takeru, happily grinning.

He should have been blown into little pieces, but he stood behind Takeru as if nothing happened.

Most likely he predicted and planned that much.

That includes his timing for appearing and all.

He probably waited for the best moment while grinning.

Haunted moved his mouth beside Takeru's ears and laughed hoarsely.

"What a shaaame. It didn't go as you wanted it to."

"............"

"That's a nice expression. It's not an exaggeration to say that I chased after you to see it. It was worth awakening Kiseki-san's heart for this..."

...If I don't chase her, there'll be the worst outcome.

I have no time to spare for this guy.

As he thought so, Takeru's heart was disturbed.

"Tricking her was really easy. Because, Kiseki-san was driven into a corner by you in the first place. By changing her perspective on a few things, I easily flipped around love and hatred."

"...Shut up."

"Her blossoming was beautiful... it felt really good."

"Shut up...!"

I need to chase after her.

I need to chase after her. I need to chase after her.

Hurry, hurry up.

The feelings hurrying him, and the uncontrollable urge conflicted each other.

"Now then, now now, so?"

"............"

"What will you do? Go at it? ——Continue where we left off half a year ago?"

I need to chase after her!

I have to chase after her no matter what!

——But before that...!

"...DON'T GET IN MY WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAYYYYYYYYY!"

I'll crush this shitty bastard!

I'll continue to kill him until his existence is gone, so that he can never get in my way again!

Unable to withstand his anger, Takeru furiously turned around and slashed at Haunted.

But this time it didn't work.

Haunted clad himself in power of an Einherjar and received Takeru's anger with despair.

While exchanging sword strikes with Takeru and scattering sparks, Haunted laughed loudly.

"Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Thaaaaaaat's how it's supposed to beeeee! I've been waiting for this moment!"

Anger and despair clashed.

They resumed the battle from a half a year ago when they first met.

However, the worst ending was approaching by the moment.

Takeru had to quickly erase this man from existence.


The Glossary

Pipe Fox (管狐) – A type of a fox used by kitsune-tsukai (fox users), supposedly described as a rat-sized fox that could be kept inside a pipe.

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