The depths of the forest of Fair Bergen felt particularly peaceful and calming that morning.
The twitter of a nearby bird stirred in the air like a ripple across the water’s surface. It seemed to be a gentle music, floating along with the tone of rustling leaves.
However, in a particularly unremarkable part of Fair Bergen out of public eye, there sounded a different kind of noise.
Hugh! Hugh! Hugh!
“Up! Hah! Oh! “
It was sharp sound of air splitting combined with short breaths. With each sound, a black line cut through the air, splitting the morning fog. The black sword moved naturally through the air like flowing water.
The sword wielder’s movements were extremely refined, and when combined with her flowing black hair, resembled a dance dedicated to the gods.
The black sword and black hair moved near the path of a falling leaf, arcing in a circular pattern. The leaf fell within the sword’s path and was immediately dispersed, beads of sweat scattering into the mist.
For how many hours did she dance with the earth? The ground was carved with her footprints, and there were an immeasurable number of destroyed leaves at her feet.
However, her blurred form moved tirelessly, fighting against her own exhaustion. Her form was innocent, yet beautiful to behold, each strike with the sword performed in earnest.
Shizuku’s eternal blade dance suddenly met disorder. Her sword missed the leaf by a quarter of an inch. The centrifugal force of her spin caused her to lose her balance.
Shizuku barely managed to avoid tumbling. With a bitter face, she put the black sword to her side.
“Hah, hah, well…”
Shizuku shook her head in irritation. Her trademark raven-black ponytail whipped left to right, echoing her sentiment.
“Clear your mind, clear as water.”
Taking a deep breath, she remembered to put her mind at peace and to calm her heart. It was an exercise she had learned in Japan while she practiced fencing. Shizuku’s troubled heart regained its tranquility quickly.
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However, the figure of a boy emerged from that calmness…
While gallantly shouting in an unlady-like manner, she swung her black sword as if to beat away at the image in her mind.
“Different, different! That is why! It’s different!”
The waters of her mind were turbulent, not a single sense of calm anywhere. Like a typhoon ravaging the sea, Shizuku’s mind rampaged.
“This is all different, and I don’t know the meaning. I’m calm, I’m cool.”
By all odds, she was far from calm. Her heart seemed to scream at her incoherently.
In fact, she had spent the entire day trying to calm herself, but her sword wouldn’t listen, the state of her mind shown in its choppy movements and her negligent footwork.
She was trying to shake off the disturbance in her heart with discipline and training.
Why, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Shizuku spent all night focusing on that.
Yesterday, Hajime and the rest had returned from the Haltina Great Labyrinth and chose to rest immediately. Shizuku got a meal and a bath before immediately going to bed, of course. However, she couldn’t sleep for some reason, her mind turbid. Though it was midnight, she left her bed, the black sword in hand.
And it was that boy who kept rising to the surface of her mind, causing her to suffer the mental anguish when idle.
“Sie! Sie! See!!!”
Her shout got rougher after each strike.
It was the unpleasant events of the large labyrinth that she couldn’t avoid thinking about.
It had started after they were brought into that world of dreams. When Shizuku remembered the sweet world, it caused her to blush, but it was also painful… Her ideal world… was something she could never tell anyone.
She tried to reject the inner maiden within her heart.
This caused her to think about the final trial of the great labyrinth. The unexpected content of her reversed feelings. It wasn’t the fact that she had felt love for the black creatures. No, it was her extreme dislike for a certain boy… she didn’t have the urge to kill him, but her thoughts were certainly hateful.
“It’s different. Friendship. It’s friendship Bonzai!”
She lost her composure with the sword. It seemed to stem from the collapse of her character. The black sword swung in vain, the wind switching around crudely. Shizuku grimaced in displeasure as the shadow of that boy floated in her vision like a phantom, a hateful smile on his face. If one of her classmates saw this, they’d be shocked.
Shizuku continued to swing the sword recklessly, trying to bring back the peace and remove her confusion. To shake off and deny it. She wanted to convince herself that it was all a misunderstanding.
With fatigue setting in, Shizuku’s feelings started to regain their original stillness. As to the cause of her turmoil, that was of course the nature of the Great Labyrinth, an eccentric environment that created a temporary loss of propriety. Her heart finally settled down, even if she thought about him. Back to normal.
She slowly expels a breath. She closed her eyes and remained in the darkness, sweat dripping down her pail skin, an eloquent sight to the morning. With her body wet, hair sticking to her cheeks, hot breath coming from her lips, it can only be described as slightly sexy.
As Shizuku indulged in the lingering calmness, a voice spoke up.
“As I’d expect from Shizuku.”
Shizuku’s heart jumped through her throat at the sound of a familiar voice. The tone disturbed her peace. The thought “How is this expected?” came without anyone to tsukkomi. Shizuku glanced back at the voice with these turbulent thoughts in her mind.
The expected person, Hajime, stood there. She had not felt any sign of his approach through her training.
“Naguma-kun. Don’t scare me like that, it is poor tastes to stand behind me.”
Shizuku gave a smile while her heart pounded and throbbed uncomfortably.
Confronting Hajime while he took her chastising…
“… Have… Pufu!”
Her chastising was repeated but only received laughter. He could only react to her colorful criticism with humor. However, because her cheeks were dyed slightly, her statement had very little weight.
That awareness is like a splinter hurled at her consciousness.
“And you… you…”
Hajime, still slightly laughing at her remark, gives an apology and tosses her a towel from his treasure warehouse. Realizing that she was covered in sweat, she began to wipe herself with a surge of panic and a strange sense of embarrassment.
“I wasn’t looking to disturb you. I just woke up early. I was looking for a suitable place to train and came across Yaegashi. I wanted to see how you’re doing. Are you doing well?”
“I am… I just couldn’t get any sleep.”
“Well, you did conquer your first large labyrinth. I suppose you’re still excited?”
It was certainly exciting in a different way, and there was an increase in strength. However, Shizuku couldn’t say it and averted her eyes.
The suspicious act caused Hajime to narrow his eyes and tilt his head with a puzzled look.
Shizuku ended up losing more of her composure.
She looked restless, uncomfortable, fidgety…
“… Yaegashi, have you been feeling any strangeness, any aftereffects?”
“Oh? You could say I’m fine. Yes, completely healthy! Rather, in the best condition.”
“If you say so… but you like very tired, and you’re acting suspicious.”
“Suspicious behavior? Coming from you? I am ordinary! You’re the one who is standing behind people thoughtlessly!”
“You’re usually cool as ice (Note: he refers to her as a hitman)… always calm…”
Though Shizuku was obviously not normal, she insisted she was, so Hajime decided to stop worrying about it. He put on that kind of look before approaching Shizuku.
Shizuku suddenly panicked at Hajime’s sudden approach. She pushed both hands out in front to put up a barrier between the two of them.
“What? Why are you coming towards me? Please wait a moment. Sweaty! Territory Violation! Calm down! You want the towel? But it’s all… Not good. I’ll return it once it’s washed! So please stop!”
“… Something is definitely wrong… I only want to see your black sword.”
As Hajime approached her, the attitude Shizuku presented while stepping backwards was that as if she was being approached by a pervert.
“Oh? My Black sword? Something like that…”
“I can reinforce it. It’s something I figured out thanks to the sublimation magic. If you’d rather I didn’t, that’s fine…”
“You can… If you do, I’m thankful.”
Shizuku timidly showed him the edge of her black sword. It seemed he didn’t intend to get any closer.
Shizuku was acting more and more suspicious to Hajime, but he supposed she didn’t want to get close to someone after sweating so much, so he gave a shrug.
Hajime grabbed the black sword and stamped his foot. Instantly, the ground rose into the form of a chair and table. He sat down in the chair and pulled various ores out of the treasure warehouse while displaying the black sword in front of him. (Translation Note: The summary says he pulled them from his storage, but the MTL made it seem like he transmogrified it from the ground, that was his thing for quite a while, after all.)
While watching this, Shizuku took the chair opposite of Hajime’s while wearing a gloomy and restless expression.
There was no conversation. As Hajime fiddled with the ore, only the sounds of small birds chirping and the whispers of leaves could be heard, and the morning peace and calm returned.
However, Shizuku did not feel particularly uncomfortable. Although there was some tension between her and Hajime initially, the silence did well to help her regain her peace of mind.
Hajime doesn’t spare Shizuku a single glance, deep in concentration. Hajime’s pupils take on a serious expression, brightened by red magic. As Hajime’s hands moved, crimson magical light altered the composition of the minerals themselves.
Shizuku’s thoughts were like “as expected, it’s beautiful” as she watched Hajime’s face while he worked. She started to doze off, her head falling to her shoulder and elbows. After staying up all night, drowsiness was the consequence.
In the middle of the work, Hajime took her hand and extracted a drop of blood. The act startled Shizuku and almost caused her to fall from her chair.
As the moments passed on, Shizuku began to fall into a sense of strange comfort, her eyes once again growing heavy. Then Hajime’s voice spoke up.
“Look, it’s done, Yaegashi.”
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Her arm functioned as a pillow for her head. Hajime squinted at her face, observing that her eyes were closed. He looked in amazement at the defenseless expression she wore as she slept.
Normally, one would wake them up gently, or perhaps put a jacket over them. Hajime instead shoved magic power into the sword and presses it against Shizuku, activating one of its functions.
“Baribaribaribaribaribari.” (electric shock)
“Ababababababa.” (sound of someone being electrocuted)
Sparks gushed out the blade. Shizuku made a scream, stiffening up and springing to her feet in an instant. Hajime had activated the fireman’s standard thunder, which was certainly one way to wake you up.
As soon as the black sword was pushed away, her head thumped face first into the table, white smoke rising from her body as she rubbed her jaw with one hand.
The black sword seemed to have worked satisfactory.
“Why’d you do that so suddenly?”
Naturally, the recovering Shizuku roared in anger. She hit the table with her hand and gave Hajime a scowl.
“I figured I could wake you up and test the weapon’s efficiency at the same time.”
“You say that without a single reservation, this guy…”
As Shizuku tried to throw our words of protest, she realized that she had tossed the sword away while being shocked. She raced over to recover it.
“Before obtaining the sublimation magic, the best I could do was add one or two abilities to ore. However, by tying the magic with the generation magic, I was able to create two or more effects.”
“And you’re ignoring my anger to explain… Alright… It’s fine now.”
Since Hajime began explaining the reinforcement of the black sword as if nothing happened, Shizuku decided to let it go with a grand sigh. She watched him with scornful eyes, trying to convince herself to do so.
“Therefore, I added some new magic to the black sword. One is gravity magic. The weight of the sword can be changed. You can pull and repel against the blade and even cut gravity itself for an instant.”
“That… is amazing.”
The scorn in Shizuku’s eyes dissipated during Hajime’s explanation, instead opening wide as she glanced over the black sword. However, it might have been too early to be surprised. As Hajime’s explanation continues, her face starts to tighten over the full abilities of the sword.
First, it is possible to rupture space itself using spatial magic.
The black sword can repair itself automatically with reproduction magic. Moreover, it may aid in the recovery of the user to boot.
It can also damage the spirit by penetrating the body with spirit magic.
As well, fireman’s standard thunder and wind nail’s performances were improved, plus the new ability shock conversion.
Furthermore, the authentication method and status of the plate was reworked so that a long intonation is no longer necessary for a high effect. The sword itself has a “movement state” allowing the spells to be used chantlessly. Because Yaegashi is a speed fighter, she wouldn’t able to spend long periods intoning a skill.
Hajime finished his explanation. Shizuku watches the black sword in her hand, cold sweat running down her face. The original cheat sword she possessed has now become flat out bugged, no matter how you look at it. If its performance was known, wars would be fought to acquire this weapon. It is currently the strongest sword in this world.
“Is it alright… having such a thing…”
“Oh, it’s just in case.”
“Just in case?”
Shizuku tilted her neck to the side with a puzzled look as Hajime looked up at the sky and gave a small nod.
Hajime had a sharp look, like from the eyes of a keen wolf. Shizuku’s heart started to beat rapidly. However, she waited for Hajime’s explanation while ignoring the heat rising in her cheeks.
“It’s pretty understandable. Once we capture the last labyrinth that means we should be able to return to Japan. However, there will be obstacles. The idea that it’ll go that smoothly is just optimism.”
“Obstacles? You mean like the mad gods?”
“Yes. It doesn’t seem like the god’s will let an irregularity like me go. I’ll need some meat for the time when the God’s Apostles like Nointo start to appear in large quantities… though you’ve also considered the age of gods magic as a war potential.”
“Didn’t you say something early about needing a meatwall? Hey? You said that didn’t you?”
Hajime carelessly leaked a bit of his real intention, and Shizuku tried to address it with a floating vein throbbing. However, Hajime kept on talking, disregarding it.
“My artifact making ability as transcended into a new evolution thanks to the sublimation magic. Even if it doesn’t improve any of the other age of god’s magic, a considerable improvement in combat potential is possible. I can improve all of your equipment. Not only Yaegashi, but the rest of the party too. While we go to the ice and snow labyrinth, it’s possible another apostle of god may attack. It must be repulsed by any means. Of course, you’ll also be able to challenge the other labyrinths with those strengthened arms.”
“I understand what you mean…”
Having said what he wanted to say, Hajime stood up. Shizuku wore a troubled expression and hesitated.
“… After all, Nagumo-kun’s group will go without us?”
“Hmm? Do you want to come with?”
Shizuku didn’t answer. Originally, this was a big favor they asked and Hajime kept to his side of the bargain. He was to help them capture one large labyrinth.
The struggle through the large labyrinth, it seemed to permeate through their flesh and bones. She couldn’t deny the ability shortage that she possessed. In a word, even if she followed, she’d be a burden for Hajime and the others.
Furthermore, once capturing the ice and snow labyrinth, returning might become available. So Hajime had no reason to bring the other classmates along.
That’s why Shizuku didn’t answer, instead shaking her head. Hajime opened his mouth at Shizuku’s response, then shrugged.
“Well… if it’s only Yaegashi, I wouldn’t mind bringing you…”
Shizuki’s eyes widen in surprise at the unexpected words that leaked from Hajime.
A beat later, Shizuku turned her head, her cheeks blushed red like a furnace as she hurried to conceal it. While desperately trying to calm down her wild heart, she attempted to ask Hajime’s real intention.
“As for that, what…”
“Well, its strategy. Your spiritual strength won’t be a problem at all. The gaps in skill can be filled with an artifact.”
“Oh, yes. Is that true?”
Her expectations were easily betrayed. Shizuku still thought “I did not expect it!”
Shizuku looked back, pulling the heat from her cheeks and quieting her mind while giving Hajime a reproachful look.
However, the words immediately after caused the blush to return once again.
“Yes, that’s true. Apart from the other members of my party, Yaegashi is the person I trust in most.”
It seemed like Shizuku’s reproachful look was a result of her thinking Hajime was trying to flatter her, but Hajime misunderstood. It was a recantation because of that. But the correction tugged at Shizuku, and she began to blush again.
Hajime wore a wry smile, ignoring Shizuku’s reaction while concentrating on his original purpose.
“Although, well, even if only Yaegashi follows, that could be trouble.”
“Eh… why is that?”
“Well, what will others in the class say? Amanogawa will definitely be out of control without you. He’d run around recklessly or just go missing going “Yaegashi is in trouble!” Embarrassing people are troublesome.”
“But there is no body and no cover.” (Translation note: No clue what this means, I think I mistranslated the previous line)
Shizuku was getting tired of being thrown around by Hajime’s behavior. Hajime reached into the treasure storage and pulled out a several chakram.
“Do this chakram metastasize internally? What are you doing, taking them out?”
“It’s training. Just like you were doing before I came. If you’re tired, you should head back. You should be able to get some sleep now.”
As Hajime said it, Shizuku remembered how tired she really was now.
However, it didn’t seem easy to leave this place either. Looking at the surroundings… and Hajime, who had created a column of thirty or more Chakram around his body. Noticing it caused Shizuku’s mouth to drop.
“… May I watch… a little?”
“I don’t mind, but are you sure you don’t need sleep?”
“It’s alright, I’ll return when I get tired enough.”
Hajime shrugged his shoulder, acknowledging Shizuku’s words. Shutting his eyes, he pulled out Donner. Shizuku rested her elbows on the table, her cheeks in her hands, watching Hajime while supporting her head.
The next moment:
Hajime pulled the trigger on Donner, aiming at the chakram flying around at high speeds fast enough to be difficult to see. The bullets were non-fatal rubber-coated metal, causing the gun to produce a sound different than the usually explosive sound effects.
The fired bullets enter straight, right, and left in their respective chakrum circles, dashing from another chakram before returning to Hakime. The bullet exchanged so as not to put out from the column made from the chakrams metastasizing into more chakrams. His finger continued to pull the triggers as he peeled off and dashed around the circle of charkram aiming at yet another chakram.
It was repeated, minimum movement and eagle eyed shots emerging across the dancing leaves in every direction.
The movements might have lacked the elegance of Shizuku a little while before, but there was no military art in the last few hundred years that succeeded by being beautiful. However, it was reasonable. Movement was refined for minimum requirements combined with rational decisions. It was a different sort of elegance compared to Shizuku.
It was creating a storm in which Hajime flew within its center, causing Shizuku to stare instinctively.
A bright red ripple expanded in the air from where Hajime worked, in addition, more chakram were taken from the warehouse, creating a spheroid surrounding from every direction.
Dopan. Dopan. Dopan. Dopan. Dopan. Dopan.
The sphere flashed with bright red as the chakram moved in.
The fatal bullets accelerated by electromagnets, delimiting from the laser like red line in the glow. Ten meters in diameter, the chakram circle gradually narrowed the range. When it reaches 3 meters, red flashing light discharged continuously from point blank range.
Hajime shot down each light one at a time. Donner in his right and left hand embodied the moving about offense and defense like a separate living entity. The innumerable chakram basked in bright red light, filling the inside of the sphere. The shots and shining increase, like a bright red moon that floated in the sky.
With an entranced expression, Shizuku muttered the words every time she saw the bright red around Hajime. It seemed like her unconscious real feelings were overflowing.
The shots echoed across the forest, spoiling the peace and calm of the morning. However, Shizuku’s eyelids continued to become heavy while watching the red star in the sky, and consciousness quietly slipped away from her.
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