“Divine Flame,” she commanded in a pretty voice edged with cruelty.
Shortly after, the function of the annihilation magic became apparent.
The blue flame began to pulsate with a Dukan sound. Blue light spread around the underground space and began to swell from inside. As the ripples spread like ripple of water triggered by a drop of water, there seemed to be an ominous quite that was devoid of mercy.
The cockroaches that were touched by the blue light did not offer even the slightest resistance, merely disappearing without even ash remaining.
At the sight of this divine flame, the boss cockroach ran like a scared rabbit, a scream was caught in the light of the spreading blue that ballooned away from Yue before the boss cockroach unceremoniously disappeared without another sound.
Without the boss cockroach, the small and medium cockroaches that were being fought by Shia and Kouki’s group became confused at the loss of leadership, and became trivial nuisances. The blue light continued to spread, it swallowed the cockroaches around Shia as well.
As the flame spread out, Kouki and the others watched it approach with anxious looks.
It wasn’t unreasonable for them to feel rushed. They were able to see the destruction in front of them.
The reason was clear. Kouki, Shia, and the others weren’t sure whether the flame that destroyed the cockroaches so completely would hurt them as well. However, it was not simply Shia and the rest that remained unharmed. The large tree trunk and branches remained intact as well.
They gave Hajime and Yue surprised looks when they realized that the flame that spread across the underground space and completely devastated the cockroaches only affected those cockroaches.
A flame type superlative magic which shot “blue flames” rapidly 10 times into the space around and compressed it with gravity magic. Yue further specified the magic with “selection” using spirit magic, so that it avoided those whom contained souls. (Translation Note: Cockroaches don’t go to heaven)
Anyone Yue permits survives while it seeks out those she sets as an enemy.
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That is, indeed, suitable to be called art. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that a god named Yue passed judgement from heaven.
“Unexpected magic… Indeed expected from Yue.”
“Nn… Praise me more, please?”
As the light of the flames started to go out, the voices of the two of them echoed in the underground space.
Indeed Yue showed some signs of exhaustion, so Hajime gave Yue a big hug in reward for her hard work. Yue wrapped her arms around Hajime’s neck and allowed her entire body to relax against him. And just like that, she kissed his neck, followed by the sound of sucking as she bit and lapped up his blood.
“When saying it like that, I wonder who won this match.”
While Yue stuck to the scruff of Hajime’s neck and drank his blood, he held her with one arm, while gently stroking her hair with the other. And so he was reminded of and questioned the outcome of the game the pair of them had started.
“… Nn, haa… Nn. My win. Hajime will not disagree.”
Yue separates from Hajime with an ecstatic expression, her eyes were as bewitching as always as she licked her lips.
“Yue, I must ask, does it really matter how won or lost, does it mean so much?”
“… Hehe. Well, then, I guess we can put that aside for now.”
As the pair of them spoke casually, discussing things ‘just in case’, there came another loud voice.
“Are you guys going to flirt forever, or can you rejoin the rest of us!”
“Yes! Yue is cheating! Hajime-kun and I are… anyway, please return!”
It was Shia and Kaori. They were beckoning us to return right alongside Kouki and the rest. Tio merely shrugged her shoulders. They were trying to take their feelings into account and had been waiting. Kouki and the others looked a bit uncomfortable, Suzu and Shizuku had their eyes lowered and blushes on their cheeks. It looked like they had been watching Yue and Hajime from a distance.
From their reactions, it looked like their feelings had returned to normal as well. Hajime didn’t know if they had returned under their own power or if it was the result of the boss cockroach dying.
The pair stared at each other and gave another light kiss before returned to a place beside Shia.
“You kissed so casually at the end…”
“I’m envious… but… but… It’s good to see you’re safe. Although I felt like… “not only you!” or “me too!” but I don’t want to sound selfish…”
“Indeed, as expected of Yue and Hajime. Battling in a world alone, tossing him around like a toy, it wasn’t as pitiful as expected.” (Translation Note: I think this is Tio claiming she wishes she was the boss cockroach getting kicked around by Hajime, lol).
There were three people which came away with three different responses, but it was Shia’s words that had the biggest impact. Hajime gives her a hug with one hand without releasing Yue. She doesn’t seem to mind at all. However, Kouki and company wore mixed expressions over his nerve.
“… Did you recover your feelings on your own?”
“You could say I return on the way, yes…”
“Would, um. May I ask that you had returned to normal without help?”
Kaori looks doubtful about Yue’s question to Shia. Tio adds the explanation while forcing a smile.
“You may say that I also returned without help. I assume that the trigger was jealousy over the war declaration between master and Yue? This mistress was envious of their fervent love. However, soon they did not even bother with the cockroaches, just each other… Was that the same for Shia and Kaori as well?”
“Yes, it was…”
So it was that sort of thing. Hajime glanced over to Kouki’s group to see how they were doing.
“Well, -how is it? The last cockroach to die was back to being unpleasant.”
Shizuku appeared to be the only one to recover on her own. It was expected of Shizuku given her mental strength. Kouki and the others must have received even more damage as they had to watch their lovable cockroaches die all the way to the very end.
A bit later, Shia was asking Yue about the magic from a short while ago. Suddenly, a portion of the large tree near the ceiling started shining. While helping Kouki’s party recover from their damages, Hajime observed a Mekimeki sound, followed by a giant branch which began to grow anew.
The branch created a new aisle as its length increase little by little. Hajime and the others remained in the four point aisle from the start of the cockroach attack until the fifth branch joined up to their intersection. The branch aisle had come from the ceiling, so it took the form of a stairway which led them up the branch to the heavens.
After a brief look at each other, Hajime and the rest hurried to follow the newly formed path.
However, Yue was holding Hajime tightly. Yue wouldn’t let go and Hajime didn’t try to separate. That was fine, afterall. However, Kaori also pulled from the left while a sullen Shia pulled from the right. Meanwhile, Tio clung from the back. It goes without saying that Kouki and company watched this with indescribable expressions.
When they finished climbing the fifth branch aisle, they entered another cave-like room. Hajime remained on his guard and before long a magic circle glowed and they found themselves teleported once again.
After the light settled, they could see that they were in a garden that spread out right in front of them.
The sky felt alarmingly close.
The air seemed clean. The ground spread out to roughly the size of high school gymnasium. There were trees which were relatively small and a small chalky building which had various waterways spreading out from it.
Twines surrounded the largest tree, which sat in a small island circled by canals, a central stone lithograph sitting at its base.
Tio walked into the garden, peeping over the edge.
“What do you think, master? It looks to be the top of the tree here.”
Others glance towards the bottom from the end of the garden after Tio’s word too. It’s a vast sea of clouds and an unmistakable thick fog spread out under their eyes.
“Hey, this is strange. When we flew over the sea of trees, we had crossed the dense woodland and saw no tree this big. No tree could crest the thick fog, this height must be up over 200 meters at least. It’s impossible to be seeing from a tree this high.” (Translation Note: To put that in perspective, the largest skyscrapers are around 450 meters, so they’re high, but not that high. On the other hand, the world’s tallest tree is only ~116 meters)
Hajime noticed the humor of his remark after saying it. After all, the upper part sticking out from the thick fog would only be natural, especially considering the size of the tree as seen from the ground expanding across the dense woodland.
Nevertheless, you would think that the large trees size would have been verifiable before now.
“… I see. It is concealing magic which is doing this?”
“… It is, like some kind of shadow system form of spirit magic… or is it just shifting space?”
Yue considered the magic based on Hajime’s inference. If it’s shadow magic, there should be some form of recognition obstruction, but the scaling is strange. If this were like spirit magic, they would be conscious of the alterations being made with the magic of the soul. However, they weren’t aware of any discomfort, which would be impossible considering Yue’s skill.
Hajime and his group wore impressed looks. Although they had experienced a number of trials and had managed to keep the nastiness to a minimum, there was still the liberator. Although ordinarily, the liberators did not seem ill-natured.
“Is this the goal here?” Hajime muttered.
This caused Kouki and the others to where startled expressions. “Here… Finally…”
Hajime ignored them and walked directly to the lithograph.
The group crossed a pretty arch and entered a yen-like small island circled by a channel. The lithograph began to glow as they approached, the bright green magic flowing into the channel. So it functioned like a magic circle? Phosphorescence like fireflies raised flickeringly.
The sense to probe a memory and then inscribe knowledge by force. Hajime and the others were familiar with this. A raised voice groaned as some one else behind him was “struck” with shock and a sense of discomfort.
As the knowledge flowed into Hajime, the tree began to entangle around the lithograph and swell.
Hajime and the others assume a posture of struggle. The shape of the tree began to change, tearing away branches as it formed. Phosphorescence rose away from Hajime, forming into the image of a person’s face in the middle of the trunk. It takes on a female appearance from the shoulders up.
The person’s form is complete; the woman’s eyes open. Then, the mouth opens gently.
“First of all, I’d like to say congratulations. You’ve defeated several of the great labyrinths. I am Luluo Haltina, and I prepared the Haltina (Sea of Trees) Great Labyrinth. I apologize for the very difficult trials I prepared with the maximum regard.”
She seemed to have used the tree as a medium for her recording. This was the form instead of Oscar’s “pictures”. Luluo felt dignified like she might be connected to some form of royalty. Although some of that feeling may come from the tree stem itself, which split around her like hair, and contained a certain kind of beauty.
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“However, it is also necessary. If you came through the dungeons of the other liberators, then you know about our relationship with the gods, the past tragedy, and what’s happening right now. Therefore, I wanted you the learn something about the unwavering bond that can’t be swayed, a heart that can’t be shaken. I think you who arrived here surely understand something about the strength of the heart as well as its weaknesses. I’m wishing sincerely that that is of assistance to you in the future.”
Shia listened to Luluo Haltina’s talk with a meek face. But Hajime was already impatient. He didn’t need pretentious excuses. For once, however, he quietly read the air.
“I do not know for what purpose you sought my magic, -“sublimation” magic, you are free to use it as you see fit. However, stick to your bonds, and do not drown in power.”
Hajime was already looking around restlessly. How is it? Even if he watched it, it wouldn’t change anything. He was already considering removing the lithograph to shut her off and move on already.
“My god level magic “sublimation” is the power to make everything evolve. That is the knowledge that is given. But, true value of this magic is found elsewhere.”
Hajime’s eyes widened for a moment. The hand that was hovering over Donner was returned to his side, and his eyes rested on Luluo. The real value of sublimation magic wasn’t given in the knowledge. Tell me that first! Hajime pointed a blaming look.
“Sublimation magic makes the “power” of everything be sublimated, literally. The other god-level magics are no exception for that… Gravity magic, spirit magic, alteration, space magic… these mighty forces are the foundation of the management. All of which lead to further evolution… even when combined with each other. This magic would be better called “Magic concepts”.
Someone made a gulping sound, resonating the desire for such a magic.
Hajime also had his eyes opened wide in surprise. At one time, in Miledi’s Raisen’s labyrinth, she suggested that if he obtained all the god’s level magic, he might be able to find something that would grant his desires. He needed to obtain god generation magic. It probably meant this.
“Concept magic - is the meaning which is just as it sounds. The magical manifestation of how magic acts in this world. Even if you obtain the god-level magic, it cannot be used so easily, because concept magic is invented by utmost will, not theory.”
So that was the reason it couldn’t be copied by magical circle.
After hearing the explanation, Hajime frowned. “Utmost will”… if it’s an explanation done so lightly.
“We seven liberators worked over the course of decades and only managed three magical concepts. However, that was enough for us… but which one will you need?”
Just as Luluo said so, the lithographic center slides and something like a pocket watch comes out from the inside. Hajime takes it into his hand. One needle of the same length was fixed on a plate in the center of the semitransparent lid. On the backside was a pattern painted in the form Luluo Haltina used. Apparently, it also serves as a proof of capture. Luluo resumed her explanation.
“For the name, it’s called the “compass of desire”. The concept that, when activated, shows the place I desired.” (Translation Note: Pirate’s of the Caribbean anyone? Drink up, my me hearties you ho!)
Hajime heard the explanation and his heart skipped a beat.
“The place I desired is shown.” That means…
“It will lead you to the location to want to go. Anything, anywhere, be it hidden or - even in another world.”
The “different world” Luluo is talking about will be the world by which the Mad Gods reside. The liberators must have used concept magic out of utmost will. To beat the gods, of course.
Therefore, this compass was produced to find the place where god was. Hajime was certain Oscar helped make this compass using the concept magic as well as his generation magic.
But - it should also be possible to use this compass to show them how to return to Japan.
A means to return home was found… delight welled in Hajime’s chest like he might burst. Yue clenched his hand and gave him a firm squeeze, looking up at him gently.
“To get all the god’s magic, if that is your goal, you’ll be able to travel anywhere. I wish you to move forward with free will and find happiness in your life. Good luck for your future.”
Luluo had come to the end of her words after giving her speech, all that was left was the tree with the entangled lithograph.
They remained immersed in the afterglow in silence as if chewing on the events that just happened to their satisfaction. Only the sound of the rustling of leaves as the wind blew gently affected their vicinity.
It was Hajime that broke the stillness, asking Yue with a monotonous tone of controlled emotion. “Yue, just to hear it, using the magic of sublimation, combined with spatial magic. Can we cross to another world?”
Startled movements spread across Kouki’s group behind him.
Yue understood the weight of those words and the exploration of that potential. And with the strongest magic user with the knowledge of the god’s inscribed in her mind, she searched for a solution.
As result, she obtained the answer…
“… I’m sorry.”
Just that. If the world can be exceeded simply by mixing spatial magic with sublimation, then certainly the liberators wouldn’t have had so much trouble, too.
Luluo has said that there were three concept magics that had been produced. The first concept was given to the “compass of desire”. It would stand to reason that the other concepts would be the concept to go to another world and the concept to overthrow the gods.
In other words, when not attaining to concept magic, the idea of leaving the world is difficult.
Yue was hanging her head dejectedly at being unable to meet Hajime’s expectations. Hajime gave her a kind smile and combed his fingers quietly through her beautiful gold hair. Yue seemed ticklish, looking upward at Hajime and shrugging her shoulders as he ran his fingers over her skin.
“It’s no problem. I was being greedy. It was just a thought. We just need more god-level magic. We just need to get the right one, and you’ll definitely be able to figure it out, so don’t have such a face.”
The heart that was impatient at the thought they might be able to return had already recovered its poise, and Hajime shrugs his shoulders with the expressions he had to spare. In answer to whether Yue was relieved at his recovery, like usual she snuggled close to him.
“Cough, Cough. Well… is Yue and Hajime back to normal? I think a shortcut formed for us to return to entrance. So less lovey dovey for now!”
Shia, while looking at Yue and Hajime, interrupted their pink space while saying “Yes, as always”, certainly in one corner of the garden the magic circle appeared. As Shia suggested that would be the shortcut to descend back to the ground level.
After checking the magic circle, Hajime strokes Shia’s bunny ears to correct some of her sulkiness. Then Kouki starts to speak up.
“Oh… hey, Nagumo. A short while ago when… you received the concept magic…”
“Yeah… we should be able to return now. At least, this compass will tell me where to head next.”
Kouki wore an expression as if hope was lost. Ryuutaro, Shizuku, and Suzu also wore feelings that looked ready to explode, like they might start crying at any second. They were hesitating over the lack of getting the god-level magic, but only because Hajime was there for the moment. It seemed like they would have to depend on Hajime.
“The, a, as for that, Nagumo. When returning…”
Suzu tries to ask Hajime about something.
Even if she didn’t say it, it was possible to guess. They remembered Hajime’s indifference to his classmates. That they might only be able to return if Hajime does it for them… Reserve goes out when perfect salvation depends on the benevolence of another being straight through.
Suzu, as the typical mood manufacturer, was either in a good place or a bad place as she tried to talk and stir around the subject of returning home. The thought was they could return naturally too, but… that was groundless, and… Well, Hajime didn’t hate this kind of thing.
“Be relieved. There won’t be any capacity restrictions or demerits. I’ll return everyone if I can.”
“It is, taken along or… eehehe. Thank you, Nagumo-san.”
“For the fact that you had so little confidence. You didn’t really do anything, did you?”
Kouki, Ryuutaro, and Suzu hang their heads to their chests.
With just sublimation magic, the ability of every magic can be raised a bit. Of course, when you already had god-level magic, the necessity to sublimate it would look more like a limit breakthrough without the side effects, so there would also be some restrictions. Like Rebirth without the side effects or something like that.
Still, they seemed unconfident. It should be said that they couldn’t get sublimation magic. But also that it could be expected. It was that the tests were flawed and exploitable that they made it to the end in the first place.
But as such, Kouki and the others hanged their heads. Still, one person tried to follow awkwardly with the circumstances.
“Yaegashi… you seem to be able to use the new magic?” Hajime asked.
“!… Oh, I think that, I can use it, yes.”
“Ho! Is that true?”
“That was really it? You’ve learned it?”
“Indeed, Shizu, Shizu! Suzu’s Bride!”
This also could be expected. Shizuku had been through the pleasure hell, a dream of the ideal world, and having her feelings reversed all without help. Even if her battle ability wasn’t enough, the god-level magic was worth getting just from the mental power she had to fight through.
It was heartwarming, but it seemed like Suzu was the only one who appreciated that fact purely. Ryuutaro wore a mortified expression while Kouki wore ominous shadows in his expressions while he praised with a smiling face.
Shizuku watched Kouki with an anxious look at that.
“Anyway, back to Fair Bergen again. Slowly. Hordes of cockroaches was light trauma. Serious mental damage. Yue needs to heal with spirit.”
“Kufufufu. I’ll fix you right up.”
“I, I too! I’ll put my head on your lap, too! Yue’s already done enough! I’m on top of this!”
“It’s because everything is done! Because everything is done! I say it twice because it’s important!”
“The tired master should step on mistress! It’ll be good. I make the mistress chair replacement so you can relax. Do you have a firm foothold separately? You may stamp as much as you like?”
As Hajime walked to the magic circle while cuddling with Yue, Shia and the rest crowd around him from left, right, and behind.
Hajime wrapped a hand around Shia’s arm while giving a little laugh. Shia gives a start, but seems happy and grasps back. Kaori and Tio think Shia is given priority somehow and turn to look at her with envious eyes.
Shizuku follows behind watching the view with a bright expression while considering the possibility of going home.
One boy wore a smile and chose to understand it that way at least, and thus the capture of one of the seven great labyrinths, the Sea of Trees, was complete.
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