|This chapter is translated by Cobalt
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After the clear affection that Hajime showed Shia, Kaori approached him with a strange sway in her step.
“….Hajime….What was that a little while ago? I wonder?
An impossible shadow floated across her face, with no discernable light source as the cause. Just her eyes darkened. Combined with her chilly look, it had a terrible effect.
“Though it hurts to think about… Did Shia really become someone “special” too? When? Why? What caused this?”
To Kaori’s interrogation, Hajime gave a wry smile while scratching his cheek.
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“Well, what to say… Although I can’t say it’s within the same line as Yue… somehow or other, I have started to desire an exclusive possession for Shia. There was Yue’s advice too, and so I decided to treat Shia in suitable manner. There was nothing in particular that changed.”
“So, it’s… romantic feelings for Shia?”
“I’m not sure… It feels different. But I think you can call it love?”
Actually, Hajime could not help by incline his neck as if asking whether these feelings for Shia were in fact romantic.
To Yue, his heart throbbed, and he felt passion that flew in the face of reason, which wasn’t the same with Shia. Besides the burning feelings for Yue, he felt a quieter, softer one when it came to Shia. Once putting it into words, he realized it might really be love.
He’d always have feelings that burned like the sun for the always quiet Yue, however, the sweet and innocent Shia was like the moon. It was a very mysterious thought. They were contrasting feelings, but it was clearly more than simple affection. However, since the feelings were subtle, Hajime was at a loss on how to explain.
The entire dining room quieted as Hajime’s feelings were expressed. Shizuku wore a complicated expression, while Yue and Tio wore slightly gentle-looks while they continued to eat sweet cake, and as for Kaori, who had started this cross-examination…
“… Yes, I understand.”
She wore a content face, a happy smile forming for some reason.
Even if Yue’s position didn’t change, this was proof that there was still room in Hajime’s heart. That smile was for an important friend who managed to accomplish this. Though finding out had disturbed her and still pressed in unconsciously, she understood that the distance between Hajime could be crossed and smiled as a result.
Of course, she felt envy. There were smoldering feelings, even at this very moment. However, she had fully realized the situation based on the journey so far. If there was time to do such a thing, it was good sense to show yourself in a favorable light.
As Kaori moves through her vivid feelings, she figured half of Hajime’s feelings were a result of Shia’s natural virtues. Kaori really liked Shia’s strength and diligence. She could be happy for a friend.
Somehow, those feelings were picked up, causing Hajime to show an embarrassed look before he reached out and rubbed her cheeks muni-style.
“Fe? Ha… Hajime?”
“It’s not really a big deal.”
“Eh? What is it?”
Kaori, who became glad for some reason, asked with a smile, not understanding.
However, Hajime didn’t answer. While having an expression as if he was giving up silently, he went full muni of Kaori’s cheeks. (Translation edit: Doesn’t he know you never go full Muni!) Then she turns her eyes to Yue.
Yue had seen the rising affection for Shia in Hajime’s eyes, and she wore a small smile while giving her nod of approval.
Tearing off a piece of bread, she gave Hajime a mysterious smile before dipping it into her soup and then tossing it had Kaori like a brick.
Becha! The bread stuck to Kaori’s temple with a sodden sound, clinging to her temple. It quickly transmitted the implication, “It has been decided and you have no involvement.” Kaori wore a cramped cheek, pulling off the bread while wearing a dark smile before performing leaping attack at Yue.
“… Stop. Wasted Effort. Just tuck your tail and go home.”
Yue avoided Kaori’s strike by escaping through the window Shia had jumped through. Looking back over her shoulder, she gave a grin. It held the feeling like “Try catching something outside of your reach.”
That “uuuu!” Raising a vexed voice, Kaori chases after. Her silver wings unfolded and she took to the sky. Is their relationship good or bad…? At least Yue seemed to like the interaction with Kaori.
The people left behind stared on in an absent-minded state.
“Hmmm, finally, master has surrendered to Shia, too. In that case, the time in which he falls for mistress and Kaori’s charm grows ever closer.”
Tio drawed up her unnatural chest, the brutal double hills protruding with a Bachikon! The sound seemed to have an effect on the room. Amorousness overflowed from her body, in particular, the remaining men suddenly become more slouchy.
However, that sex appeal was let loose on Hajime specifically.
“Putting aside Kaori, you have no chance.”
“Haa… haaa… so intense… from master… breaking my hopes… piercing adequately, mistresses’ weakness… haa… haaa!!”
Her body started shaking from Hajime’s word, her thighs fidgeting as she hugged herself. The sensual atmosphere this gave was incomparable to the sex appeal from moments before.
However, the slouching appearance of the men from earlier withered quickly. This was because of the unpleasant look on Tio’s face. This killed the mood. (Translation Note: Yes, I find freaky hot girls in the throes of ecstasy to be a real turn off… oh to be in light novel-land!)
Shizuku caught Hajime’s strange remark, which seemed to casually suggest that Kaori was in the same category as Shia.
(Then as for me… Hey, what do I have to do with any of this! Kaori seems to be taken good care of. That is enough and, yes, there is nothing else to conclude!)
Standing in a corner of the room, Shizuku’s face scrunches up in one comical face after another. Everyone else is focused on Tio. A few gave Hajime brooding or evil expressions. Hajime gave another sigh. Meanwhile, the chases continued on outside.
For noon time in Fair Bergen, it was very noisy compared to the usual tranquility.
“Uu, I encountered such cruel eyes…”
It sounded from a forest corner of Fair Bergen, the complaint shining with the orange of the evening sun.
In a plaza set off a little way in the town, many tables had been set. There was a fountain using spring water in the center. Usually a place for people to rest, none of the residents were out right now, concerned with other matters. Only Hajime and Shia remained there. All the other members were gone, making preparations for travel.
Hajime sat down at one of the tables in the deserted open space, giving Shia a nod in acceptance of her hard work and training. The cause, of course, was the attack from Arutena. Shia had been chased to exhaustion by someone who used animal-like perception rather than physical strength, likely only stopped by her grandfather’s intervention.
As Hajime watched her drooping rabbit ears, he couldn’t help but burst into laughter. Those ears started to twitch violently.
“Please don’t enjoy it. It was seriously scary!”
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“Don’t say that. It’s great to find a friend your age. Isn’t it good you got to play fully?”
“I can’t lie to you, but can you really call that playing, or that kind of relationship friends? I think I understand what Hajime is going through with Tio now, huh? How should I say… being liked doesn’t feel bad, but it’s exhausting?”
The fatigue caused Shia to droop once again.
Hajime felt sympathy for Shia, giving her a node. He understood better than anyone how the goodwill he provided toward Tio was not the extent of a mere transformation. Tio’s desire to not be defeated by Shia and Yue was strong. Therefore, Hajime felt tired, a regrettable reality of his true feelings.
Hajime’s expression softly turned into a smile, and he lifted up a hand quietly. He gave Shia a kind pat, soothing her rabbit ears. As Hajime fawned over one of her ears, Shia trembled offering her other ear.
He had both wonderful rabbit ears wrapped up in his hand, his cheeks blooming. The sweet sound of him stroking her ears with his fingers leaked out, the sweetness transmitting into the neighboring air and wrapping Shia and Hajime up in a sweet space.
Hiding her face in her blueish white hair, she speaks in a whispered voice.
“… Hajime… The… thing is, that, it’s daytime… that…”
The voice was fraught with expectation that can’t hide shamefulness. It was obvious what she wanted to say. She just wanted to be clear.
Hajime rose from his seat with a noise and moved next to Shia, where he sat down. Shia noticed the sign and twitched while turning her face down, her body still shaken. She was pursued by Hajime gently, who turned Shia’s shoulders towards him. He held her powerfully just like that.
Shia’s face, held by Hajime, boiled up completely red. Her pupils, full of light, were moistened. The maiden’s eyes were too pretty, looking up at Hajime, overflowing with affection.
“…. Shia, it was you who said “The future isn’t absolute,” certainly it’s like that.”
“It was the thing Shia had said to Hajime long ago when she wanted to travel with them. A once-in-a-lifetime confession, words of answer that Shia long since believed were impossible. Absolutely, these words of determination turned to Hajime.
“Shia… now, you haven’t confirmed your feelings.”
There was still Yue who was “special”. Is she really even good enough to hear such a thing? Shia was afraid of confirming.
“I love Shia very much… I do not want to lose her to anybody.”
Even though the words were selfish, his desire leaked from them. Shia’s eyes increased in heat, she let out a hot breath like a dragon.
“There is not chance I want to let you go, so please decide. Shia is my woman!”
“…. Yes…. Yes… I am Hajime’s woman!”
While tears fell down her cheeks and her body lips tightened, she wore a smile. It was a blooming, energetic, full smile. No, a smile that was many times more beautiful and lovelier than anything preceding it. Surely, if other men saw Shia today, their hearts would race and their blood pressure would rise just by this look.
In it, Hajime was no exception. The love within him spiked and he hugged Shia tightly, taking her lips against his own.
At Hajime’s beckon, rejoicing tears fell from Shia. Her body lightened like cotton candy, a sweet sigh leaking from her. Her body burst with heat like the Guryuen Labyrinth as if she’d start melting at any moment.
“…. Ah…. Hajime…”
A silver bridge hung from their parting lips separated with only a breath. The embarrassed Shia lowers her eyes. Her usual cheerfulness is overridden by a terrific loveliness. It was a charm that could hold a man captive in a way that matched even Yue’s mysterious beauty.
Shia’s pink lips opened slightly, her tongue moving with a chirochrio (abundance?). Her pupils give him an upward glance. A look that said… “more”.
Hajime smiled, looking at the lovely pleading Shia. His lips met hers again as his hand touched her cheek.
At that point, an impatient voice suddenly spoke up.
“Fuhya, to start doing that that… those two… and outside!”
“Shh! Suzu, you’re being too loud!”
“Shizuku-chan is being too kind when it comes to Hajime.”
“…. Everyone is being too noisy, you’ll embarrass Shia.”
To those familiar voices, Shia separated her lips with a gasped and turned her gaze to those who were talking.
Shia, becoming aware of the group, lost the mood. “Wait, oh, that!” as a people fell from the corner of the flower bed where the plaza was enclosed.
Falling on top of each other, Kouki, Ryuutaro, Suzu, Shizuku, and Kaori were there. Yue let out a sigh, appearing from behind. Tio appeared as well, floating an interesting smile. Apparently, they had all been hiding to watch the love affair between Shia from cover.
While getting up in a hurry, the group blushed. Suzu and Shizuku didn’t seem to be able to look directly at Shia and Hajime.
“To see, see… and everyone, how long have you been there….”
Shia was shaking, her face turning deep red like an explosion. The one who answer the question directed at Suzu turned out to be Hajime.
“It was since I was playing with Shia’s ears.”
“That’s not the beginning, everyone saw… yet you still say it like that…”
Shia hit Hajime repeatedly out of a sense of shame. Tears form in her eyes, but they had different meaning from a moment ago.
“Why do you want to hide it? It was good timing, and I didn’t want to miss the chance.”
“I did not want to miss it either… but even so…”
Shia’s spirit was dampened by Hajime’s blankly nice manner, further causing her to feel embarrassed, yet also happy.
As usual, Tio speaks up while floating a smile at such a Shia.
“Please, how was it? How was the taste of passion from master? Nn? Tell this mistress a little, how is Shia’s happy embarrassment?”
“Speak for yourself, pervert.”
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Tio had put her arm around Shia and then suddenly she collapsed from a strike to the back of the head. Her finger twitched, moving into a point, and it was drawn to… “So it was Yue”. Yue had chucked a lump of ice mercilessly at her head unexpectedly.
Shia had glanced back at Yue, who was giving Tio a cold look as Tio pointed at her. After Yue dismissed Tio, she gave Shia a patient look. And then she smiled lightly, both of her hands opening.
“…. Yue, now.”
Shia jumped into Yue’s chest. She clinged to Yue, with the size of a child but the stability of a woman. Yue patted her head with a look of kind affection while she hugged Shia in turn.
“… Yue, I… finally!”
“Nn… you worked hard. Good child.
“I love Yue, much the same!”
Shia echoed and then wept for joy. Shia was understood. However much Hajime thought someone to be important, it was ultimately up to Yue, whom was “just as himself”. Without worrying about Hajime, anyone else would be an “other” to Yue.
Yue treated Shia like a younger sister. She, the older sister, had watched her younger sister working hard. Moreover, the feelings of Hajime, which were stubborn, were finally accepted. It was a joyous event that Yue accepted sincerely, the value of Shia, and her right to her feelings…
“Is Yue not bothered?”
Unintentionally, Hajime muttered with a sullen face as Shia happily pressed her face against Yue’s breast. The younger sister who depends too much is reluctant. Like a good older sister does not baby, both people wore an expression of contentment that looked heartwarming overall.
“Tio, next will be our turns, let’s work hard.”
“Of course, I dream of the day that I am attacked by husband and worked hard.”
“… you can’t act like… Tio.”
Tio was in the state of collapsing while Kaori was talking while poking her. Tio revived with her eyes shining with hope. In the surroundings, Koaki, and Ryuutaro were looking at each other awkwardly, while Suzu looked at Shia and Hajime with an unreadable expression.
Do they need to encourage each other? Hajime opened a mouth with a troubled smile after hearing Kaori’s words.
“Please don’t tempt me so much…”
Kaori and Tio look at Hajime with surprise, their eyes shining like stars. There was no other meaning to that… their dropped confidence recovering quickly.
Hajime had no intention to accept a partner who Yue didn’t like at all, but he couldn’t think Yue would value people that she constantly fought with. Of course, now that Shia has been accepted, there already is someone “besides Yue”, and the declining complaint of their being only one isn’t in common use.
The main points is that Hajime has recognized two people as important. To the degree which forgets itself when there are others.
Though Shia doesn’t have a monopoly on his desire, it was still declared that Hajime accepted Shia and had a place in his heart. This meant things were not helpless for the others.
And at that time, Yue wore a pleased expression, Kaori and Tio’s eyes were sparkly while Suzu watched on nervously. Everyone’s eyes seemed to meet restlessly.
Hajime opened his mouth without knowing what was going through Suzu’s mind, suppressing Kaori and Tio.
“And? What are a couple of peeping toms doing together? You’re a bit early for supper. So what is your business?”
“Well, that… we met Yue accidently, and we…”
Shizuku gives a perplexed expression to Suzu. It seems like Suzu had noticed something unusual regarding Hajime. They seemed to have joined Yue accidently when she was looking for Hajime.
Hajime shot Suzu a dubious look. Suzu stepped forward toward such a Hajime.
“Nagumo-san, You see, take Suzu to the next large labyrinth, please!”
Because he thought Kouki would be the one making that kind of request, he was surprised when it was Suzu that was the first to beg.
“Kouki, this is about me. Therefore, this is an individual request for Suzu. Please don’t butt in!”
After Suzu returned from the labyrinth, Kouki possessed a gloomy atmosphere in response to her words, but with no strength to retaliate, he stopped. So it was not everyone, but Suzu specifically.
“Even if you don’t accompany, I’ll help bring us back to Japan anyway, and I said I can provide strengthening artifacts so that you can become strong, is that okay?”
“Yes, it is certainly so…, but, as for Nagumo, you won’t lend a hand to Eri?”
“… Is it Nakamura…? Well, it is so. It’s possible I’d shoot her on sight on instinct. She is one of the reasons Kaori was killed.”
Suzu floats an embarrassed smile towards Hajime’s bitter expression.
“It is so, However, I want to meet her and talk. Therefore, I need power. So I want to challenge the large labyrinth again. And no matter how the result becomes, when you come out, you’ll probably end up in the territory of the demons.”
“Suzu, that is…”
Shizuku grabbed Suzu’s shoulders instinctively. No true friend would allow another to go into the demon territory alone.
However, Suzu was overcome with her strength of will, and there wasn’t a single doubt in the look she gave to Shizuku as she held her shoulders.
On the other hand, she was convinced that if she traveled with Hajime, she’d have the chance to persuade Eri. If she accompanied Hajime to the source of the ice and snow labyrinth, they’d end up in the so-called demon king castle, which seems to be where Eri was held up.
Anyway, the ice and snow labyrinth is east of the south continent. The country Garland, the stronghold of the demons, was in the central southern continent.
Suzu knew that it was impossible for Hajime to be concerned about Eri, therefore Suzu understand it and knew Hajime might not wait for Eri to come around before leaving. Therefore, she’d talk to Eri until Hajime found out how they could return, and the best way to get that chance was by accompanying them to the ice and snow labyrinth.
When Suzu turned her eyes back to Hajime from Shizuku, she asked earnestly with a tone that suggested desperation.
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“And if, if it’s possible to collect Eri with that, if Eri wants forgiveness… in that case can you return us to Japan together. Please! Please, I beg you!”
Suzu’s screaming plea echoed, no one could say anything and everyone was silent.
Honestly, for Hajime, he remembered the look on Eri’s face. The spectacle when Kaori fell was recalled at this moment, and only murderous intent sprang with thoughts of Eri.
It was selfish that Suzu did things this way regarding Eri. However, the thought of cooperating felt like a small bone stuck in his throat. The girl named Eri Nakamura was already an enemy to Hajime.
However, even if it’s so, the request of Suzu was done with all of her heart. It was the eyes of the ascribable Kaori as to why Hajime possessed so much urge to kill Eri. Those eyes said something, conveying their own thoughts and meanings.
At that time, the long silent Kouki opened his mouth.
“Nagumo, I must also ask. I am the cause of what happened to Eri. Even though it might be unpleasant, I must speak with Eri. I can’t let Suzu go along to the demon territory. In it…”
Kouki had to strongly bit his lip, his fist grasped giving words with a slightly depressed atmosphere.
“As it is, it is not possible to end. Shizuku was also able to obtain the age of gods magic. I, uh… if we keep following, we’ll surely obtain power. If it is not such a mean place full of mental attacks, even I should be able to capture it. A large labyrinth where it goes this time, is a place even those demons can capture. Then, surely I can!”
To the appearance of Kouki, with his clapped trembling fist and dark atmosphere, Shizuku watched him with anxious eyes. Shizuku remembered the look of shock on Kouki when she was able to obtain the age of gods magic and he was not. Therefore, though he took care not to let it show, to a childhood friend he could not conceal his uneasiness.
“Oh certainly, I can’t let Suzu go alone. When it came to Eri, given Nagumo’s character, I have to ask too.”
“Ryuutaro too, Haa, well, it doesn’t fit to let Suzu go alone. Nagumo-san… whether it is possible to ask…”
It didn’t really matter if it was Kouki or Suzu, if a companion was going, Ryuutaro would cheerfully come too. Though her eyebrows were lowered to the character of eight from embarrassed towards such a Ryuutaro, Shizuku smiled like she was welcomed by Kouki now. Next, Shizuku bowed, seeming to apologize to Hajime.
Hajime turned his eyes to Suzu with a desperate look to the decision of Shizuku, nearly brought to tears. Kouki who had some returned feeling, Ryuutaro who was a muscle brain, Kouki and Kaori who worried about Shizuku, who worried about Suzu as a childhood friend, and finally he threw back a loud sigh.
And, Yue, and Shia, and Tio’s eyes, and they had opened their mouths and were nodding as if to say they understood the unpleasantness of having to make this request.
“… If I get even a little of hostility, I’ll shoot to kill…”
“Of course, Nagumo-san, thank you!”
Suzu, who managed to get consent, looked wiped out, her face bright with the expression of thanks. Shizuku also expressed thanks.
Because he’d need to invent concept magic that would prevent a re-summon in addition to the magic that would allow them to return to their world in the first place, Hajime was thinking that it would take a while to return anyway, even after getting the last piece of magic.
Whatever Suzu did would not be an obstacle for his return, so he didn’t think there was any reason to not accept. However, the thought of Eri reforming and returning, Hajime did not think it was possible, and if she did get in his way, he would shoot her to death seriously.
Eventually, Hajime should take Suzu to the last large labyrinth and decided to permit it as it did not give him any problems in particular. With his own magic rising thanks to sublimation magic, it shouldn’t create any problems.
Ignoring Suzu, who had a new sense of purpose, and the sweet feelings that came with it. Hajime smiled to himself. Yue and the other nestled close to such a Hajime.
“… Nn, a magnanimous Hajime is cute.”
“Indeed, this is a Hajime to be proud of.”
“After all, master is tsundere.”
“Getting… hehe, thank you, Hajime.”
From each, warmly treating Hajime, he glanced away. And Yue and the others laughed happily to see it.
This place of gods and demons was interesting, but it seemed like they were reaching the final stretch.