|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2355 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1057 words|
We ignored our exhaustion so Selene would not leave us behind as she walked away. My body was aching all over, and my magic was almost fully used up, so I felt like I could sleep even if I had nothing but the ground to lie down on, but I could not afford to do that now.
We went through another passage together with Selene, finding ourselves in the same large room where we first met her. The Dragon King was no longer there, making the place seem far more spacious as the giant creature was not present. Not having to face him was a great relief for all of us, and after a deep breath we followed Selene through the room.
Each room of this temple seemed to be built similarly, so the next passage we entered felt identical to the last, almost as if we were walking in circles. But with every step we took, we felt an overwhelming presence ahead of us growing stronger, so we knew we were getting closer to our destination. At the same time, we felt more nervous approaching the end of the passage, silently walking forward. And then…we witnessed something we could hardly believe.
First we saw the Dragon King’s enormous tail, thicker than the trunks of the centuries old trees growing in my village, and I could imagine a swing from it could effortlessly crush down monsters and adventurers. Was Lapis really fighting against him? I looked around in dismay, but I could not see her anywhere near Tiamat, the Dragon King. Had she been left alone then? But I knew how responsible she felt about us, so she would never leave us in a place like this without saying anything, even if we had hurt her.
“Lapis?! Where’s Lapis?!”
Karin shouted loudly, and Tiamat turned around to look at us, as if he had only noticed our presence after hearing her.
“Oh, you’re Estrella’s friends. She’s sleeping over there.”
His eyes looked to the side saying that, we followed his gaze, but could not see anything there. Looking closer we noticed something on the ground, black, like a pile of burned garbage, but shaped like a person. I instantly had a really bad premonition and my legs moved on their own, but Luvias and Karin had reacted even faster and were already running towards that charred object.
As I hurried closer, I saw that it was Lapis, her entire body scorched and both her arms and legs severed. The only reason why I could tell it was her, was because her face was relatively untouched compared to the rest of her body. We struggled to believe what we were seeing, desperately trying to call her, but she did not react. Her clothes had been burnt off, and multiple parts of her body were nothing but ash now.
“No way…did Lapis…”
Everyone twitched after hearing Luvias complete the sentence. Dead..? Lapis had actually…died? She, who could face off against any monster or demon without issue? Who we always thought was completely invincible? We had never seen her get hurt before, so my brain refused to admit the person in front of us was her. I wished this was a dream, a bad nightmare that I had to wake up from. But my body was aching so much I knew this was reality. As much as I wanted to pretend this was not real, everything forced me to believe it was. Not knowing what to do, my knees gave out and I fell to the ground.
“Lapis! Wake up Lapis! Wake up!”
“This can’t be true…never…I refuse to believe this!”
Karin knelt down, clinging to Lapis madly as she called her repeatedly. Luvias’ eyes were clouded, looking stupefied even though she usually could remain calm and composed in any situation, and Ciel covered her eyes crying irrationally while refusing to believe what she had seen.
“How could…this have happened…”
What had happened? Such a short time has passed since we last saw her, but she is dead now? Lapis had said she had fought Tiamat countless times, so she had enough experience. But then she ended up looking like this…had that been our fault? She usually was calculating and careful while fighting, but had she been distracted thinking of us? Chills went through my body and I began to shake, even though the surroundings were not cold. We had really done something unforgivable, we had let our best friend die, and now we could not even apologize to her anymore.
Thinking that made me annoyed with myself, biting my lip until blood filled my mouth. I could only regret my actions now. If she was her usual self, she would have been happily fighting against Tiamat until now. But we had thrown her mind into such disarray that it ended like this, all because of our insensitive act. She had been fighting Tiamat, the Dragon King, a creature so powerful it was only inferior to a god. Any prolonged fight against him would require perfect concentration to never let one’s guard down, since a single blow from him would be fatal. So knowing that, we had been directly responsible for her death.
I could not hold back my tears anymore, which filled and distorted my view. I’m sorry…I’m so sorry! I fell on the ground, desperately apologizing in my mind time and time again, but I knew I would never be forgiven, and that knowledge only drove me crazier.
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“Why are you crying?”
We all were crying, and one person spoke to us, Selene. Even though Lapis had died, she looked as calm as always, looking at us with cold eyes. Did she really care so little about Lapis’ life? Or were humans so worthless to dragons, even if they were as strong as Lapis? Why was she acting like nothing had happened? I started getting angry at her, wanting to vent all my regret and anger.
“Why..?! Are you blind?! Lapis has..! Lapis is..!”
I could not bring myself to finish the sentences. Yet Selene still did not seem bothered at all, calmly speaking again.
“You’re acting like she has died, but she’s still alive.”