The day Hajime and Yue met, and survived their life or death struggle with the scorpion.
Kouki and the rest of the heroes once again arrived at the 【Orcus Great Dungeon】. However, those who came were only Kouki’s Hero group, a small group of rogues, and another group consisting of five boys and girls led by a bulky judo guy called Nagayama Jugo.
The reason was simple. Even if they didn’t bring up the topic, Hajime’s death had casted a deep, heavy shadow over their hearts. If they couldn’t face the reality of “death in battle”, they wouldn’t be able to fight properly. This was a type of psychological trauma.
Of course, the officials from the Saint’s Church wasn’t sympathetic. Thinking that as long as the students experience actual combat incessantly, they should be able to fight again after some time, they continued to urge them to return to the battlefield everyday. However, there was a vehement protester. It was Aiko-sensei.
Aiko did not participate in the expedition at that time. Due to the fact that her job was the special and extremely rare Agriculturalist, rather than combat training, the church hoped she would put her effort towards agricultural cultivation instead. As long as Aiko-sensei was around, there’s a high possibility that their provisions problem would be solved.
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When Aiko learnt of Hajime’s death, she was so shocked that she was left bedridden. Faced with the fact that one of her students died while she was just leisurely spending time within the safety zone, and the fact that it was no longer possible to bring everyone back to Japan. Aiko, who had a strong sense of responsibility, suffered a powerful impact.
That’s why, she absolutely wouldn’t permit for students who couldn’t fight anymore to be sent to the battlefield. Aiko’s Class ⌈1⌋ was an extremely rare one which had the possibility of bringing about a complete change to the world’s food issue. And that Aiko-sensei was protesting with unwavering determination against the students’ forced combat training. The church, which wanted to avoid worsening their relationship, accepted Aiko’s objection.
In the end, only the Heroes, the rogues, and Nagayama Jugo’s party willingly continued with the combat training. After training for some time, they decided to challenge the 【Orcus Great Dungeon】 once again. This time, they were also accompanied by Commander Meld and several knights.
Today was the sixth day of their dungeon exploration. They were currently on the sixtieth level. It was just five levels before reaching the highest confirmed level. However, Kouki’s party was currently stuck. No, rather than being unable to advance, it was an involuntary recollection of the nightmare from that time that brought them to a standstill.
Yes, despite being clearly different from that time, similar steep cliffs spreaded before their eyes. They must cross a suspension bridge in order to get to the next level. This isn’t much of a problem per se, but as expected, they couldn’t help but recall that event. Especially Kaori, as she stood there motionlessly, staring over the cliff into the darkness of the endless abyss.
As Shizuku anxiously called out, Kaori who was looking down with a strong gaze, slowly shook her head and smiled towards Shizuku.
“It’s alright, Shizuku-chan.”
“I see…… You are not forcing yourself right? You don’t have to hold back because of me.”
“Eheh-heh, thank you, Shizuku-chan.”
Shizuku also smiled at her close friend. Kaori’s eyes were giving off a strong radiance, without any despair or escapism within. With her excellent insight and sensitivity to people’s subtleties, Shizuku realized that Kaori saying “It’s alright”, was from her true feelings.
(As expected, Kaori is strong.)
Hajime’s death was almost a certainty. It’s hopeless to even half-heartedly say he survived. Nevertheless, Kaori chose to neither escape nor deny, but advance to reach her own understanding. Shizuku was proud of her close friend.
However, being unable to read the mood is one of the hero’s quality. In Kouki’s eyes, reflected the appearance of Kaori grieving at the thought of Hajime’s death while staring below. He concluded that the kind Kaori is currently suffering over a classmate’s death. Consequently, under the filter of his assumption, Kaori’s smiling figure appeared to be forced as well.
Then, without the slightest consideration that Kaori thought specially of Hajime and still believed in the possibility of his survival, Kouki repeatedly gave Kaori misplaced consolation.
“Kaori…… I like that kind side of yours. However, you can’t let yourself be trapped by our classmate’s death forever! You have to move on. Surely, that’s what Nagumo would have wanted.”
“Shizuku, be silent for a while! Even if it’s harsh, as her childhood friend, I have to say this…… Kaori, it’s alright. I will stay by your side. I wouldn’t die. I wouldn’t let anyone die anymore. I promise I would never make Kaori sad.”
“Haa~, reckless as always…… Kaori……”
“Haha, it’s okay, Shizuku-chan…… Well, I know what Kouki-kun was trying to say, so it’s okay.”
“Oh, you understood!”
Kaori could only smile bitterly at Kouki’s completely misdirected words. It seems that even if Kaori were to honestly talk about her feelings now, it probably wouldn’t be transmitted to Kouki. For Kouki, it is already a fact that Hajime is dead. Thus, it is unthinkable that the reason why Kaori is zealously training and exploring the dungeon is due to her belief in Hajime’s survival. It is in his nature to persist in his beliefs without any doubts, he could only seem to interpret Kaori’s feelings as a psychological illness stemming from escapism. From their long association, Kaori somewhat understood Kouki’s thought patterns, which was why she didn’t say anything.
By the way, the nuance which appeared to be nothing but completely wooing her was said by the person himself without any ulterior motives, it only showed Kouki’s extreme earnestness. Shizuku and Kaori, who were already used to Kouki’s words and actions let it slide as usual, but if the other girls heard that, they would probably all fall together into sugary expressions at the sweet atmosphere.
Generally, a handsome guy with good character, proficient in both sports and studies would cause any female childhood friend to fall in love. However, influenced by her strict father, Shizuku had been in contact with and was raised by the adults under her house’s dojo from young. Coupled with her natural insight, she was aware that his sense of justice could be said as Kouki’s flaw, and he had displayed it numerous times, making her unable to harbour any feelings more than a childhood friend towards him. Although, for the others, the more important thing hasn’t changed.
Kaori was naturally insensitive about love and hearing about various things from Shizuku, her heart was unable to throb over Kouki’s words or actions. He is considered a good-natured person and thought caringly of as a childhood friend, but would never lead to any romantic feelings.
“Kaori-chan, I am rooting for you, if there’s anything I can do to help, please say.”
“Yeah~, Suzu will always be at on Kaorin’s side!” ⌈2⌋
Joining the conversation were Nakamura Eri and Taniguchi Suzu who were listening to Kouki’s chat nearby. Both of them are Kaori’s close friends since entering high school and they have an excellent relationship. They are also capable people who were added into the Hero party led by Kouki.
Nakamura Eri is a bespectacled beauty with black Natural Bob hair. Personality-wise, she is mild and meek, and basically makes everybody want to keep an eye out for her. She loves books and gives off the feel of a stereotypical librarian. As a matter of fact, she was in the library committee.
Taniguchi Suzu, she is a chibi whose height was only around 142 centimeters. However, it was unimaginable where her inexhaustible liveliness could be hidden within that small body. She always jumps about happily with her drooping braids bouncing along. That heart-warming sight secured her role as the class mascot.
When the two of them saw Kaori’s discomposure the day Hajime fell into the abyss, they understood her feelings and approved of Kaori’s goal.
”Nn, Eri-chan, Suzu-chan, thank you.”
Kaori smiled happily at the two close friends made in high school.
“Oooh~ Kaorin got her spirit back~ That Nagumo-kun! How dare he make Suzu’s Kaori-chan so sad! If he died, Suzu will kill him!”
“S-Suzu? If he died, how are you going to k-kill him?”
“Don’t mind the details! Oh yeah, if he really died, Eririn can just use necromancy to make him serve Kaorin!”
“S-Suzu, watch what you’re saying! Kaori-chan sincerely believes that Nagumo-kun is still alive! Moreover, my necromancy is…”
Eri remonstrated the reckless Suzu. That is the default. Looking at the usual boisterous scene between the two, Kaori and Shizuku displayed pleasant expressions. By the way, Kouki and the rest who were a short distance away didn’t hear the conversation just now. Of course, it was Kouki’s natural skill to miss the most important part of the conversation like this.
“Eri-chan, I don’t mind, so it’s ok?”
“Suzu too, you should stop it. Eri seems troubled no?”
“Mu~” Suzu puffed her cheeks upon hearing Kaori and Shizuku’s words, which were mixed with bitter smiles. Eri, who had turned paled at the mention of “necromancy” just now, finally relaxed her expression after noticing that Kaori seriously did not mind Suzu’s words.
“Eririn, are you still having trouble with necromancy? Even though it is such a rare Class…”
“…Nn, sorry. It will be very useful, if only I can control it properly…”
“Eri, everyone have their strengths and weaknesses. Besides, your magic aptitude is high, so don’t worry about it alright?”
“That’s right, Eri-chan. though it is your Class, having talent in that field is different from liking or disliking it. Hasn’t Eri-chan’s accurate and precise magic helped everyone?”
“Nn, but even so, I still need to do my best to overcome this. Because… I want to be of more help to everyone!”
Eri clenched her small fists tightly to show her determination. Seeing Eri like this, Suzu said, “That’s the spirit, Eririn!” and glomped her, while Kaori and Shizuku’s cheeks loosened into smiles at their friend’s tenacity.
Eri’s Class was 【Necromancer】. Dark magic was a type of Systematic Magic that affected the spirit and consciousness. It was basically recognized as a magic that inflicts abnormal statuses to the target in actual combat. And necromancy was one of the super-high difficulty dark magic. It was a magic that could gather the residual thoughts of the dead. In the Saint’s Church, there were also a few necromancy users among the priests. They draw the residual thoughts of the deceased and pass on to their bereaved family members, using necromancy in a way befitting of clergymen.
However, the true essence of this magic lies elsewhere. The proper way to use this magic was to wrap the residual thoughts of the body with magic and granting realization ability ⌈3⌋, make it possess the corpse and become a puppet. In other words, the necromancers would be able to control the dead, although their skills and true strength would be inferior compared to when they were still alive. Furthermore, even living humans could be possessed and trace the dead soul’s techniques and abilities to a certain extent.
Although the dead could be controlled to a certain degree, they had pale skin and were devoid of life, like that of a ghost. And because Eri herself felt that it was ethically wrong to use the dead people like this, she was unable to use this magic ability efficiently.
Behind the four girls, someone was staring, more specifically, someone was gazing at Kaori with dull eyes That person was Hiyama Daisuke. That day, after some time had passed upon returning to the capital, and after everyone had regained their composure, sure enough, severe criticism was awaiting Hiyama for bringing about that predicament.
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Hiyama had already expected this to happen, so he earnestly plead for forgiveness while kowtowing on the ground. He knew that refuting at times like this would do nothing but only make things worse. The time and place for apology was also especially important.
Hiyama’s aim was to prostrate himself before Kouki’s eyes. He predicted that if it was Kouki, he would certainly be forgiven with his apology, and would even help to mediate among his classmates. His expectations came true as Kouki forgave Hiyama and settled the criticism against him. Kaori was kind to the core, and did not especially rebuke Hiyama who was apologizing in tears. It was as he calculated. However, Shizuku vaguely notice Hiyama’s scheme, and appeared to harbour disgust at the fact that her childhood friend was used.
And THAT ⌈4⌋ person’s orders made him go silent. It was an exceedingly terrible command. Or rather, it was a command which made him shudder in fear. He felt an intense sense of repulsion, but Hiyama could no longer stop, for he had long went past that line. However, that person who could integrate so naturally with the class while kneading such terrifying plans behind the scenes, made Hiyama fear while embracing joyful thoughts.
(That person is mad…… if I follow that person, Kaori will be mine……)
Upon hearing that as long as he obeys, he would be able to get his hands on Kaori, his suppressed joy involuntarily formed a smile on his face.
“Hey, Daisuke? What’s wrong?”
Kondo, Nakano, and Saito were all looking suspiciously at Hiyama’s odd expression. The three of them were still hanging out with Hiyama. From the start, the four could be said to be the same kind of people. Although there was a period of awkwardness, Hiyama’s laudable attitude recovered their friendship. However, it is extremely doubtful whether this could even be called friendship in the truest sense……
“Eh, no, it’s nothing. I am just happy thinking that we have cleared sixty levels.”
“Ah~, that’s true. We are just five levels away from the previously highest recorded level~”
“We have all become considerably strong. Good grief, the stay-behind team is too weak-willed.”
“Well, don’t put it like that. It looks like we are special.”
The three of them synced with Hiyama’s deception without any doubts. Becoming enthusiastic thinking of themselves who continued fighting as special, seems like small-time villains will always remain as small-time villains. They had a huge ⌈5⌋ attitude towards the stay-behind group back in the royal palace. Their haughty attitudes often lead to many complaints. However, breaking through to the sixtieth level also speaks of their definite abilities, proving that they are not all words.
Naturally, they are not at the Heroes’ party level, so they are docile around Kouki and the others. This seems to be the modus operandi of small fries.
The group did not particularly encounter any problems, and finally they arrived at the previously highest recorded sixty-fifth level.
“Concentrate! The map here is incomplete. I don’t know what will happen!”
The voice of the accompanying Commander Meld resounded. Kouki and the others tightened their expressions and stepped into the unknown territory.
After a short while, they entered a large hall. Somehow or other, everyone present felt an unpleasant premonition. That hunch was right on the mark. At the same time they entered the hall, a magic circle emerged in the center of the room. It was a dark red pulsating magic circle of about ten meters in diameter. That was, a very familiar magic circle.
“D-Don’t tell me…… it’s that!?”
Cold sweat formed on Kouki’s forehead as he shouted. The other members’ expression were distinctly nervous.
“Seriously, it’s dead, isn’t it!”
Ryutaro exclaimed, visibly shocked. Responding to that, with a grim expression but a calm voice, was Commander Meld.
“We have yet to elucidate the reason behind the formation of magic beasts in dungeons. It is normal to encounter magic beasts that have been defeated before many times again. Brace your spirits! Don’t forget to secure the retreat path!”
In case it was needed, to ensure that they could safely get away, Commander Meld gave instructions to prioritise securing the escape route. His subordinates obeyed immediately. However, it left a bad taste in Kouki’s mouth, as he retorted.
“Meld-san. We are no longer the us from back then. We are many times stronger now! There’s no way we will lose now! We will definitely win!”
“Heh, that’s right. We can’t keep thinking that we will lose forever. It’s time for our revenge match!”
Ryutaro also responded with a fearless smile. Commander Meld shrugged his shoulders while letting out a “Dear me”. As he was thinking that it will probably be alright with Kouki’s and the other’s current strength, he let out the same daring smile.
And finally with an explosion of brilliance, the former nightmare once again appeared before Kouki and the others.
A strange figure raised a roar and stomped the ground. Behemoth glared at Kouki and the others with a fierce intent to kill dwelling in its eyes. Just as everyone was about to run from their nervousness, a single girl was indifferent and with a resolute expression, returned the look.
It’s Kaori. Kaori declared not with an audible voice, but with strength dwelling in her indomitable will.
“No one would be taken away anymore. I will defeat you and go to him.”
Now, the battle to overcome the past has begun.
Additional: Amanogawa Kouki’s current status ⌈6⌋
|Amanogawa Kouki||17 Year old||Male|
|Magic Power:||560||Magic Resistance:||560|
|All Elemental Aptitude • All Elemental Resistance • Physical Resistance • Composite Magic • Swordplay • Herculean Strength • Ground Shrink • Foresight • High Speed Magic Recovery • Presence Perception • Magic Perception • Limit Break • Language Comprehension|
- CX: Talking about her job, not her students. ↩
CX: In case u didn’t notice, this is a nickname/pet name.
Silva: Yeah, thanks. I wouldn’t have noticed that xD ↩
- CX: Hmm.. making it become real, I have no idea how to word this better.. ↩
- CX: In case you forgot, there is a mastermind behind Hiyama, gender not specified. ↩
- TN: overbearing ↩
TN: If you guys want to compare with Hajime, I think the last chapter which showed Hajime’s status was this: