Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou (WN) Chapter 143 — Shizuku’s True Feelings

Chapter 143: Shizuku’s True Feelings

The fierce sound of clashing blades resounded through the large space where a huge round ice pillar was standing at the center.


{Oh, your swordsmanship is disarrayed again, you know?}

Along with spirit-filled war cry, she unleashed a quick god-like sword draw. Several streaks of black lines drew through the air in an instant, but not a single one of those sharp sword flashes reached the opponent.

Instead, the opponent who mocked her swordsmanship nearly struck her in the forehead with a weaving thrust. She somehow avoided it by twisting her head, but a shallow cut was left on her temple.

“-, ‘Scorching Wave’!”

The thrust that almost hit her before was one of Yaegashi’s own techniques. Therefore, Shizuku understood better than anyone that the thrust consisted of three stages. Her temple was cut, and it was difficult to evade with her slightly disarrayed posture.

Before the approaching flash of the second thrust could gouge her, Shizuku pushed her sheath on the ground and scattered the shockwave. The ice shards of the smashed ground changed into improvised buckshot and she somehow escaped from range.

{It’s great that you have the present from him, isn’t it? If you didn’t have that, you would have been dead against me since some time ago, wouldn’t you?}

“Haa haa…”

Against the white Shizuku who was sheathing her white katana while teasing her, the black ponytailed Shizuku kept silent while her shoulders heaved.

Currently, Shizuku was fighting her false image much like Hajime had.

The false image she faced was different with Hajime’s in that it was really white. White hair in a ponytail and skin that was like white porcelain. Her blade and clothes were also all white. Her piercing reddish black eyes were awfully eye-catching.

That white Shizuku opened her mouth while showing a sarcastic expression and wearing a wide grin that was unimaginable coming from the usual Shizuku. It had been like this since a while ago. The content of her speech was naturally the exposition of Shizuku’s negative emotions.

{It hurts? Painful? Scary? Do you want to cry? You don’t need to hide it, you know? I am you, so I understand everything. Yes, everything.}

It had been fifteen minutes since the battle began. During that time, Shizuku’s blade didn’t strike once. The white Shizuku still looked clean.

In contrast, although she barely evaded a fatal wound just now, Shizuku had shallow cuts all over her body. She was soaked wet with sweat and blood. Even now, the blood flowing from her temple and cheek was trickling down drop by drop from her slender chin.

{Actually, I didn’t want to do something like learning the sword. Rather than wearing Japanese clothes or a dojo uniform, I wanted to wear cute and frilly western clothes. Rather than carrying a bamboo sword, dolls and glittery accessories are far better.}

“… Shut up.”

The first time Shizuku was guided by her grandfather to swing a bamboo sword was when she was four years old. Her grandfather was the head of the Yaegashi family and inheritor of ancient sword style, Yeagashi-style. Surely, he made Shizuku swing the bamboo sword only for fun. But, of all the things to happen, the four-year-old Shizuku displayed a glimpse of her talent.

The grandfather who realized that her cute granddaughter inherited a talent for the style broke out from his usual sour look. Even now, Shizuku clearly remembered how happy her grandfather’s smile was.

Since that day, sword art and kendo practice became a part of Shizuku’s life. Her grandfather, her father, and everyone in the dojo too, all of them praised how amazing she was…

But, actually…

{That time when Kouki entered the dojo, I thought that a prince had finally arrived. ‘I will protect Shizuku-chan too’, I think? I dreamed of a cool boy that would say that to me like in a picture book story. If it’s him, then he can make me a girl. He will protect me. He will spoil me. I was thinking that. But, you see?}

“Shut up.”

While clenching her teeth hard, Shizuku’s figure turned hazy using ‘No Beat’, stepping in with god speed and drawing her sword. A flash of space ruptured - ’Flash Blossom’ drew its track through space itself to bisect the white Shizuku, but a white track that drew exactly the same trajectory perfectly neutralized it.

Not giving up, Shizuku further unleashed her slashes, but everything was evaded, blocked, and her opponent didn’t miss an opening to increase Shizuku’s wounds.

{What Kouki brought about was only jealousy toward you. Isn’t that right? Kouki was overflowing with a sense of justice and kindness since elementary school. He did everything skillfully and became the target of all of the girls’ attention. You who swung bamboo sword even though you are female, your short hair, your plain clothes, you who couldn’t talk about girly topics, by being at the side of such a Kouki made the girls unable to tolerate it. Yes, yes, even now I remember those words. The words said to me by one of the girls who liked Kouki. ‘You are a girl?’ she said. That was shocking, right?}

“Just shut your mouth!”

The bitter memory from elementary school revived in the back of Shizuku’s brain. At that period, her hair was cut short to practice the sword. A lot of her clothes were also plain. Her beauty over cuteness was certainly weakened related to girlishness.

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With such a Shizuku, there was no way the girls would stay quiet if she was together with Kouki, who was popular since he was elementary school student. Shizuku received the jealousy of other children who didn’t know mercy and moderation due to their young age. Even among those, those words were something she couldn’t forget even now. Putting aside her external appearance and her sword skill, Shizuku’s inside was exactly a girl. For such a Shizuku, those words were a large bitter shock.

Once, she had asked for help from Kouki. But, at that kind of time it was settled what Kouki was going to say. He would say, “Surely, they didn’t mean any ill will”, “Everyone is a good kid, you know?”, “They will understand if you talk to them”, etc, etc. Exactly like those words, Kouki spoke with the girls about their attitude towards Shizuku. It went without saying that the harsh treatment towards Shizuku got stronger. Furthermore, the concealment so that Kouki wouldn’t realize such things happened increased all the more.

Even when Shizuku consulted Kouki, what Kouki returned to her was only a troubled smile. Before she knew it, Shizuku stopped relying on Kouki.

Such a living continued throughout her period of elementary school. If she didn’t meet Kaori, who stayed by her side when she entered middle school, perhaps her heart would have broken and she would have abandoned everything.

{Even though I actually hated it, it was scary to betray my family’s expectation and I couldn’t stop learning the sword. Even though Kouki was the cause, I couldn’t distance myself to push my childhood friend who didn’t have a single speck of ill will because of my guilt… truly, you are an indecisive and half-baked girl.}

“-such a thing-!?”

The sword of the white Shizuku severed gravity using ‘Multi Flash’ and brought Shizuku a moment of weightlessness and suspension. At that moment, the sheath the white Shizuku was holding was swung horizontally. Along with that, ‘Scorching Wave’ was also invoked. White ripples of magic power spread. An impact with pain enough to almost blow away Shizuku’s consciousness attacked her exposed defenseless side. Her body was blown away grandly.

Shizuku bounced several times on the ground before she somehow came to a stop while sliding on the floor.

“Gohoh, gehoh.”

Blood was spat out in a splatter from her coughing mouth. She felt intense pain from her ribs. Two or three of her bones had obviously been broken. It seemed that the impact injured her internal organs. In some way or another, she fastened her consciousness that was departing to the beyond.

Brisk footsteps resounded toward Shizuku, who couldn’t immediately stand up. It was just like a countdown that notified her of approaching death. Impatience floated across Shizuku’s expression while she struggled to stand up desperately.

The white Shizuku sweetly whispered to that agonized Shizuku with a kind tone, her mouth splitting open like a crescent moon. She was like a demon.

{It’s fine even if you don’t stand up anymore, you know? Someone else will clear this labyrinth even without you suffering like this. If you do that, you can go home. It’s fine. Even if you give up here, I won’t take your life. If you sleep just like this, by the time you wake up, everything will be over.}

“What, are you…”

{Just giving a choice… Of course, if you don’t give up, I’ll kill you. I’ll slice you apart without mercy.}

The white Shizuku’s wide grin could make somebody tremble in fear. The naked white blade in her hand was sticky with the proof of how it had shredded Shizuku. The blood trickling through it looked as though it was flowing through white snow. From the tip that was pointed at Shizuku for show, drop by drop of her own blood dripped down. Looking at that scene, the crouching Shizuku’s expression turned pale.

But, the next moment *KI-!* Shizuku glared back at her false image without paying attention to the blood spurting from her wounds. She began to fill her limbs with strength.

“Guh, uaAAAAH!!”

{… I see. That’s right, isn’t it? If it’s you, then you will stand up, isn’t it?}

The white Shizuku nodded once, her eyes narrowed quietly, and she swung down the thin white blade. It was blocked by Shizuku’s black blade while she was on her knees raising a war cry.


“Fly, ‘Far Sky’!!”

By using a skill for the sake of pulling things apart, Shizuku somehow blew away the white Shizuku and bought some distance. The white Shizuku twirled in the air and landed gracefully on the ground with a somersault like a cat. Shizuku stood up while giving it a glance.

“You are annoying, yapping like that. You just keep saying incomprehensible things. I won’t accompany you in such a psychological battle.”

{Psychological battle, huh? So you won’t acknowledge your own feelings until the end. Until this year, you kept being stubborn like that. You made your surrounding stay quiet by your strength, constantly paying attention to someone… so that you aren’t even aware that you are actually wishing to lean on someone…}

“Do you not hear I’m saying that you are noisy!?”

Shizuku charged without even a little of her usual calmness. There was no tactic or anything. She was merely swinging her sword unsightly through the air with reckless swordsmanship. Her feeling of wanting to shut up the opponent was clear to see.

The false image was created by reading the negative emotion of the target and using that as the base. And then if the exposed emotion wasn’t accepted by the target, the false image’s strength would rise without end. In reverse, if the target accepted her own fault then the false image would be weakened… but the current Shizuku was in the former state.

Therefore, with her heart disarrayed, Shizuku’s sword attack was already like child’s play against the white Shizuku, whose strength increased.

The white Shizuku lightly handled the full might of Shizuku’s technique and beat her down in reverse with a polished sword technique. The injury on Shizuku’s flank, the damage to her internal organs, and the blood loss made Shizuku’s movement dull, causing her injuries to increase further. That turned into impatience which made her grow violent and made her movement even duller. It was a vicious cycle.

To add insult to injury against such a Shizuku, the white Shizuku opened her mouth with a laugh.

{That time when you arrived in this world you were also like that, right? In truth, you were full of anxiety. You were scared from the bottom of your heart when you were Ishtar told you about the subjugation of the devil race. The night when you first killed a monster, you cried in a place where no one could know it. The feeling of cutting flesh wouldn’t disappear. The blood clinging to your skin felt like it wouldn’t go away. You were hiding many times trying to wash it off, weren’t you?}


Shizuku tried to drown the words of the false image with her spirited yell. But, that act itself expressed Shizuku’s denial, because she couldn’t accept it, the difference in strength between them opened even farther.

{That time when Nagumo-kun fell into the abyss, if you didn’t pour all your strength into consoling the deranged Kaori, surely, the one who would be crushed by terror would be you. Since that day, when you felt a real death, all the time, toward the terror of death, toward the terror of killing… you continued to be afraid.}


The white Shizuku’s ‘Lightning Blossom’ burst, paralyzed Shizuku’s body. Taking that opening, a white flash caressed Shizuku’s neck. *pushu-!* With that sound, fresh blood scattered out.

Thanks to Shizuku enfolding herself in ‘Scorching Wave’ and blowing away their bodies to open a distance, she managed to barely dodge a fatal wound. But blood was flowing like a river from between Shizuku’s fingers pressed against her neck. Her carotid artery wasn’t cut, but even so, it was a wound on her neck. The bleeding was quite a lot.

A clear vision of death floated in her brain. An overwhelming terror and despair began to assault Shizuku’s heart. The emotion that she desperately suppressed leaked out and her hand that was holding the black katana was clattering.

The white Shizuku’s lips that looked excessively red split open widely. Sticky words flowed out like a muddy stream.

{Hey, you. You were happy at that time, weren’t you?}


That sudden question made Shizuku leak out a dumbfounded voice while still pressing on her neck.

{I’m talking about that time Nagumo-kun came to save your class. You understand, right? There is no way you can forget that most dramatic moment in your life.}

“What are you saying…”

{A life threatening and despairing pinch… no? At that time, you had given up for certain. You were going to accept the unreasonable death and gave up everything. You didn’t believe that anyone would come saving you gallantly in this world… Because of that, that red radiance, that large back, that overwhelming power without any match, it stole your heart.}

“Yo, you’re wro-…”

If felt like something that she didn’t want to recognize by any means, that she mustn’t recognize no matter what was going to be said. Shizuku immediately tried to yell words of rejection. But, as though to tell her that such resistance was pointless, the white Shizuku mercilessly declared.

{That time when Kaori was killed was also like that. If you aren’t aware yourself, then I’ll say it. At that time, for the first time since you came to this world, you ‘clung’. You clung to Nagumo-kun. To such a you, he said ‘believe me and wait’. And then he really answered your expectation. Just like you believed, he saved your best friend along with your heart. Since that day, you kept desperately averting your eyes, but… now, you won’t be able to lie to yourself anymore.}

“Stop it, you are wrong. I’m…”

Toward Shizuku, who was shaking her head like a kid refusing something, the false image thrust the truth that she couldn’t possibly escape from.

{You――――love Nagumo-kun.}


Shizuku’s throat was clogged. Her head was still shaking left and right in denial. She didn’t even have the composure to be bothered by the blood flowing from her cut neck.

The reason was because that was an emotion that she absolutely mustn’t recognize. Because that was an unforgivable feeling, a proof of the worst betrayal.

Toward Shizuku, whose mind had been cornered so much that she didn’t even have the leeway to say a word of denial, the false image gently sent her the finishing blow. It was as though she was sending her a flower for the departed.

{Geez you, to fall in love with the beloved person of your best friend ――This traitor.}


Shizuku’s knees lost strength. She only just supported herself enough with the black katana that she didn’t fall on her knees, but the light of determination was disappearing from her eyes.

The words thrust into her heart… were just that severe.

It was really hard to control this thing called a heart. It was not an exaggeration to call a person who could perfectly control their own heart as abnormal. It was the same with the feeling of liking another person, something that couldn’t be explained with logic. That was why, even if Shizuku fell in love with Hajime just like Kaori, it was an exaggeration to call her a betrayer just from having that feeling.

But, the white Shizuku――Shizuku’s negative emotion, the depth of her heart, her own feeling stated that she was a ‘betrayer’.

Perhaps, that originated from the honesty that Shizuku had by nature, and her undying gratitude and good will toward her most important best friend who she snuggled up to at her most bitter period.

Her feelings for her treasured Kaori were too strong that she couldn’t forgive herself just by liking Hajime. Not to mention the various faces she showed to Hajime from her uncontrollable emotion. The smiling face from her heart, her clingy and miserable face, her charming face watching in a daze, her sulky face, and even her relieved sleeping face… all those happening in a place where Kaori didn’t know. Such a thing was also a reason that spurred her guilty feeling.

{Furthermore, you attacked Shia, didn’t you? Why was that, I wonder? Why it wasn’t Yue or Kaori but Shia, why do you think?}

“I, am…”

{The answer is simple. You envy Shia, don’t you? You understood from the start that you cannot win against Yue, so you don’t even feel jealous of her. There is no way you can attack Kaori no matter how jealous you are at her. That’s why, you selected that girl as the target of your attack. The one who was recognized by him as a lover and the easiest one to envy… You really are a coward aren’t you?}


Already, she couldn’t hope to avert her eyes. The enemy before her eyes wouldn’t allow that. Each timed word pierced her like an arrow. It also shot through her words of rebuttal and broke it apart. Strength was leaking out from under her feet. In contrast, the white Shizuku was overflowing with bountiful strength.

As the proof of that, the white Shizuku stepped in with ‘No Beat’ and unleashed a kick that scooped up Shizuku from below, not permitting her to react at all.


Against Shizuku, whose breath was forced out and her body floating in the air, countless slashes assaulted her like a pouring rain. At an unconscious level, Shizuku lifted her black katana as a replacement for a shield, but there was no way such a thing could block everything…


Her whole body was chopped up to the heart’s content of white Shizuku. The white Shizuku struck the sheath at the shrieking Shizuku as though making doubly sure. Shizuku was blown away fiercely as though she was run over by a dump truck and her back struck the ice wall. The ice wall at her back was pulverized in a radiating shape.

All the air in her lungs was forcefully spat out due to the impact that made her whole body act like a ragged cloth. The pain came from so many slash wounds that she didn’t understand anymore where the pain come from. Shizuku’s body informed her that it was at the limit. Just like that, Shizuku’s body slid down the ice wall and now she was in a sitting down posture with her back reclining on the ice while her four limbs splayed open.

Blood stickily stuck on the ice wall, even the ground started to have a puddle of blood gathering there. With hazy eyes, Shizuku was staring at her other self calmly approaching her. Her body couldn’t move, the piling up burden on her mind was sapped of any will to move.

{Even your absurd life that kept pulling out the short stick will have the curtain closed here. The reason for this comes as a result of your own hand, you’re truly foolish.}

Shizuku didn’t respond. She was quiet as she looked up at the white Shizuku. From an appearance with wounds all over her body without even twitching, she even looked like she had expired already.

{Is there something you want to say in your last moment, I wonder? I’ll carve it in the ice wall for you. Each of the spaces are connected to each other in this place, so if your luck is good someone who breaks through their trial might arrive here and find you last will you know?}


Shizuku didn’t respond. In exchange, at her cheek, tear drops were flowing down. Grains of light were silently tracing her cheeks, creating a stain on her lap drop by drop.

Shizuku herself wasn’t clear just why tears were overflowing like this. Was she in terror because she sensed her own death? Was she in despair that she would lose her future? Was it from the mortification of all the things said to her? Was it from the sadness of being unable to meet her important people anymore… or possibly, from all the above?

While staring down wordlessly, white Shizuku drew back her naked blade tightly behind. She took a crouching posture, her hand that was holding the sheath stuck out in aim. Its target was Shizuku’s head.

The sharpness of the white katana was the same as the black katana. It was possible to have her life ended without feeling any pain by piercing through her forehead.

The sudden swelling killing intent and the finishing blow was right in front of her eyes.

In front of the tip that was aiming at her, something inside Shizuku was welling up. Her mouth flapped and closed, trying to express that emotion without caring of her own reputation or appearance.

“… I, still… don’t want… to die.”


There was no way anyone would listen to those words here. It was merely earnest words that wished to live. That she still didn’t want to die. She wanted to meet… Her best friend, her comrades, and then, the person she fell in love with at this land of another world. One more time.

But, she wasn’t able to stand up by herself anymore. Because both her body and her heart were completely tired.

That was why…

“He… lp, me… some, one… he, lp, me… please…”

She wished for help while crying like a child. Shizuku was always someone at the side being relied on, clung on, and then she always gave help to those people. She had never done something like complaining, asking for help to anyone while crying, saying that she couldn’t do it anymore, that she couldn’t stand it anymore.

In reality, she dreamed of being ‘a girl that was protected like a princess’, but while she kept looking for that, she was compelled by necessity to polish herself, and then her role became like the knight instead. Before she knew it, she even tolerated this version of herself without any dissatisfaction, however… as expected…

{How unfortunate. To use those words is too late already.}

Her true feeling that leaked out at the very end was drowned by her merciless other self.

And then, the sublime killing intent was emitted from the white Shizuku. Shizuku reflexively closed her eyes tightly. The brutal white blade thrust straight toward that forehead, to pierce her life.


{… This is impossible.}

No matter how much time passed her death didn’t arrive. The moment she closed her eyes, she felt like her back got light all of a sudden, but rather than something like that, right now her attention got attracted to the dumbfounded voice of the white Shizuku.

Shizuku timidly opened her eyes.

Over there was…

“Eh, eh?”

“Geez, what’s with this timing? Don’t tell me this is the aim of the great labyrinth itself.”

There was the white tip that stopped just before it touched her skin and the metallic arm that kept it there. With creaking sounds, a metallic artificial arm she had seen before was reaching out from behind her that firmly grasped the white blade, stopping the killing blade a hair breadth from Shizuku.

The complaint that she could hear at the same time made Shizuku opened her eyes wide, and she looked back over her shoulder. Over there was a passage where the ice wall had disappeared before anyone realized, Hajime who seemed like he came out from there appeared, crouching to support the sitting Shizuku with an embrace.

“Na, Nagumo, kun?”

“… Chih, you are too beaten up.”

Hajime looked down at Shizuku in a bad mood, next he glared at the white Shizuku with a beastly sharp glint. And then red spark ran from the artificial hand grasping the white katana. Immediately after that, the artificial hand began to vibrate with super high speed that it blurred.



A peculiar running sound could be heard. At the same time, the white blade creaked and cracked. The dumbfounded white Shizuku returned to her senses with ‘hah’ and pulled back trying to recover her katana but… in the next moment, the white katana was pulverized from halfway as though it was crushed.

Without stopping Hajime aimed his artificial hand straight at the white Shizuku and from its palm explosive slug bullet was fired. Fierce impact attacked the white Shizuku along with a red ripple, blowing her far away.

Furthermore, Hajime took out crossbits and let them fly to the white Shizuku to assault her. He didn’t have any intention of killing her because this wasn’t Hajime’s battle. Until the end, it was only buying time.

To separate the two parties, seven crossbits fired buckshot while taking skilled cooperation. While feeling like the thunderous roar was far away, Shizuku stared fixedly at the face of Hajime who was supporting her back from behind.

It was as though she was seeing a dream, that actually she had been killed and the Hajime in front of her eyes was just a phantom her brain showed her before she died or something. She feared that in the next moment, he would vanish.

Hajime took out a tube container from his ’Treasure Warehouse’ while Shizuku was like that. He opened the lid and without reservation, he thrust it into the mouth of Shizuku that was opened absentmindedly.


“Don’t spit it out. Drink up like your life depended on it.”

Shizuku’s eyes darted and she almost reflexively spat out the foreign object that suddenly entered her mouth. So that wouldn’t happen, Hajime embraced Shizuku even tighter to make her unable to resist while forcefully making her drink the god water.

Shizuku panicked for a moment, but being hugged tightly by Hajime where his warmth was transmitted to her made her stiffen with a snap this time. While holding the tube in her mouth, she stared hard at the face of Hajime which was at a really close distance. Finally, she was able to comprehend that it was a reality, and she had been saved by a hair’s breadth. She became unable to avert her gaze as though she was imprisoned by Hajime’s eyes.

Before long the body of Shizuku who had gulped down all the god water was healed completely from all the wounds covering her body as though everything was just a lie. However the blood she lost couldn’t be recovered without using regenerative magic, so it didn’t change how weak her body was.

“You are really… Nagumo-kun?”

“Do I look like anything else?”

“Bu, but, why, why are you, here, I…”

“Calm down. I finished my own trial and when I went through the passage that appeared, I came out here. Most likely each space is connected to each other. Well, I thought it’s just too good to be true that I came out behind Yaegashi though.”

“The, then, Nagumo-kun really is, I…”

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Perhaps because the pain of her body had vanished, and she felt for real that she had escaped death, this time tears of relief overflowed from her eyes. And then, with her body still embraced, as though to ascertain his existence, it was as though she could see nothing else but Hajime. Shizuku’s hand slowly reached out at Hajime’s cheek. However, just before her hand touched, her expression warped painfully and her hand drew back.

Furthermore, as though to say that being hugged by Hajime mustn’t happen, she weakly pushed on Hajime’s chest and tried to take distance. She rubbed away her overflowing tears with her sleeve and averted her face completely from him.

Looking at Shizuku’s state that was obviously strange, Hajime guessed that she was considerably humiliated by her false image, he gave a glance at white Shizuku who crossed sword with the crossbits using her white katana that should have been broken but now had been recovered and opened his mouth.

“Come on, all your wounds have been recovered completely. Now is the time for a revenge match. Beat her quickly.”

“a. Bu, but, I… I cannot win against that, so…”

Shizuku looked at Hajime with clinging gaze while making an excuse. That appearance from Shizuku that he had never seen before made Hajime looked at the sky thinking “This is not just getting humiliated, even her heart is broken!” He thought that among the four of Kouki’s group that she was the strongest mentally, so honestly, this was unexpected.

The white Shizuku took advantage of the crossbits’ opening and gradually closed the distance. There was no meaning if Hajime defeated it, so the crossbits were moving in a half following pattern, it seemed the white Shizuku was predicting that.

Shizuku showed a frightened look from seeing her approaching white self.

It wasn’t like herself. That appearance was really not like her at all. Possibly, this was her true… Hajime frowned at the scared Shizuku that couldn’t stand up and matched his gaze with her stooped gaze. And then he began to stare at her with an extremely serious face.

“Na, Nagumo-kun? Err, that fellow is…”

“Yaegashi. Don’t worry.”


Shizuku was flustered toward the approaching enemy, but to be told that while being stared straight with a serious face made blood unconsciously gathered in her face.

In front of such a Shizuku, Hajime abruptly took out a certain thing from his ‘Treasure Warehouse’.

That was…

“Now, take this. This is the ‘Masked Pink—Mark II’ I made for you.”

“… Nagumo-kun?”

While giving a scornful look and feeling angry towards why that thing came out right here, she unintentionally forgot her weak mind. The elaborately designed pink full face mask was forcefully pushed on her. Seeing that showy mask suddenly come out and now being pushed at her real body, even the white Shizuku reflexively stopped in vigilance.

Giving white Shizuku a glance, Hajime kept presenting the Masked Pink-Mark II persistently at Shizuku.

“Nagumo-kun! This is not the time for screwing around! That fellow is coming here!”

“Excuse me. I’m not screwing around at all here. Listen well, if you wear this powered up Masked Pink then your perception ability will be increased by three times. With this, you can win even against that.”

“Wh, what a pointless high-spec like usual…”

“Now you want it right? If you are saying that you cannot win without this, then take it without reservation.”

“I don’t need it! I can win even without wearing that kind of thing! Rather, if I wear that kind of thing I’ll be fighting like mad! Who can bear being treated like a degenerate for the second time because of that thing!”

With a cramped expression, Shizuku fiercely objected at Hajime who was emphasizing his prized item with a serious face. Shizuku rubbed at her temple as though she was enduring a headache.

That gesture and her tone were just like her usual self. Hajime grinned widely at Shizuku who was glaring at him even now and easily stored the Masked Pink-Mark II back into his ‘Treasure Warehouse’. And then, he said to the dumbfounded Shizuku.

“That’s right. You can win, even without this kind of thing.”

“-, I, I am…”

Even while making a face as though she was chewing a bitter bug from how easily she got provoked by Hajime’s incitement, Shizuku couldn’t say anything. Ignoring that, Hajime added more to his words.

“Yaegashi. Don’t forget. That thing is certainly another of your faces, but it’s not everything there is to you. It’s nothing more than a part made up from your negative emotion. The important feeling should be possessed by the Yaegashi Shizuku in front of my eyes right now. Isn’t that right?”

“The thing… possessed by me…”

Memories overflowed in Shizuku’s brain. That was her family’s smile from the bottom of their heart each time she grew. The time when she helped someone together with Kouki and the group. The time when the person they helped thanked them from their heart, how she was able to meet Kaori exactly because of that painful time. And all the other many things that were hard to throw away that she couldn’t forget, filled with warmth and gentleness.

Just why she couldn’t remember even a little of those until now… the answer was obvious. That was due to the whispering voice she was hearing since they stepped foot into this great labyrinth little by little guiding her consciousness.

Light of determination returned into Shizuku’s eyes. Suddenly lit up light was flowing into Shizuku’s four limbs.

“You giving in to the words of that kind of fellow, is also the proof that you are properly facing it. After all, a real good for nothing will only become defiant hearing that. What’s left, is what do you want to do? That’s all. You are just too serious. Just accept it more irresponsibly, irresponsibly. After all, for the time being if you just survive then later on you can deal with it no matter how many times, anyway you like it.”


‘By the way, I’m in a good-for-nothing side’ Hajime said while shrugging his shoulders, at the same time he began to collect his crossbits back. Him buying time was enough already.

While feeling the gaze of Shizuku staring at him, Hajime leaned on the ice wall and crossed his arms. And then he sent her his words while staring back straight at her. Hajime himself didn’t do it intentionally, but surely those words were the ones that Shizuku wanted the most.

“I’ll be watching here.”


“You can just keep challenging it until you win. As long as I’m here you won’t die. I won’t let you die. It’s fine.”

“… that’s… the clincher.” (Note: The most accurate meaning is, phrase that brings someone around, esp. in personal relationships)

Those last words were words that were only inside her mouth that didn’t reach even the ear of the person herself. Naturally, it shouldn’t reach Hajime but, sure enough, what kind of expression would he make if he heard that? Shizuku imagined it, and then she leaked out a chuckle thinking that surely he would make a troublesome expression.

And then, she thought that surely Aiko-sensei and Liliana were also like her without a doubt, to fall in love with this kind of nasty man, it made her feeling strangely amused about just what was wrong with her.

It felt like the her until just now was all lie. She stood up with a light leap as though her body was like a feather. And then, she hugged the black katana that was a present from Hajime tightly in her breast before facing her standing still false image with a determined expression.

With her back toward Hajime, Shizuku asked silently, but with sweetness somewhere in her tone.

“… You will be looking, right? At me.”


“You will protect me when I need it right?”


“I see. Then… I’m going.”

“Ou. Go get her.”

Her lost blood wasn’t recovered back. In truth, even now she felt like fainting from blood loss. But, her steps were far more certain even compared to when she first entered this space.

She faced her false image. The white Shizuku was silently waiting with a sheathed blade.

{Really, flirting in front of the enemy? That’s a really good face you have there.}

“Is that so? This is thanks to Nagumo-kun. We aren’t flirting. Though I think it will be great if we can do that.”

{My, my, as I thought you are betraying your best friend. And then, to your rival in love you…}

“Let’s stop this unproductive talk. There is no meaning in this soliloquizing. I’ll survive, then meet Kaori and others one more time. Everything else will start from there.”


That unshakable Shizuku shut up the white Shizuku. And then she noticed how her strength was weakening little by little. In other words, Shizuku was aware of her own emotion and she began to accept that…

“Perhaps I will have a dispute with her, that I will make her feel a horrible shock. She might even scorn me. But, I won’t give up. I’ll show you that I can haul in the best result for me. I’ll challenge it no matter how many times. I absolutely won’t give up.”

{In the end, you are going to be a fighting woman then?}

“I guess. But, seventeen years, I have been living that long like that until now so it’s too late already. Certainly, I have lived until now by stifling down various things, but what I obtained as the result of that, is also an important thing that I cannot abandon already. And then, I believe that surely from now on too I will obtain the lovelier things… Because it seems, that even a fighting woman can be protected by someone that is far stronger than me.”

{Until the end, it’s still an indirect reason like, ‘because he is an important person for Kaori’ you know? No doubt about that.}

“Even so, right now, I don’t mind.”

Shizuku softly lowered her waist, she lightly drew back one of her feet with the other foot bending forward, taking the stance of quick sword draw.

“I don’t have any extra strength left. One attack. I’ll put everything in this one attack. Endure this if you can.”

{Fufu, I see. What magnificent spirit. Really what a timing he appeared at. Someone who is there at the essential time, in the essential place… I thought something like that existed only inside stories.}

Presence emitted from Shizuku sharpened to the utmost. With her body that had reached the height of fatigue due to the mental burden and bleeding, certainly, she could only put her everything in one attack. It was exactly an attack where she staked her all.

For an instant, the white Shizuku directed a wry smile at the man leaning on the wall who revived Shizuku like a phoenix at the eleventh hour. Surely that whisper was also something that Shizuku undoubtedly felt.

The white Shizuku also similarly dropped her waist and took the stance of a fast draw.

The pressure rapidly swelled up. The determination to beat the opponent emitted like it would cut apart the other by itself came from both sides respectively. Different from the chilly air, the sharp cold filled the surrounding space.

Shizuku’s heart was calm like a spring inside a deep forest. Because on her back, she felt a large presence. Because she understood that he was looking straight at her. Because she believed that when the unlikely event happened, he would protect her.



They stepped in simultaneously.

Their ponytails fluttered like falling stars, Shizuku and white Shizuku crossed each other.

And then they stayed unmoving a few meters from each other with their backs facing the other.

And, at that time, a rustled sound could be heard, Shizuku’s ponytail was undone. The string that fastened her hair was cut. Was that because of the sword slash, or perhaps it was deteriorating due to several battles…

In the midst of the tension that turned into silence filling the air, the one sheathing her katana… was Shizuku.

*chin* The moment the pleasant small sound of the sheath resounded, the white Shizuku slipped off smoothly. Her body was bisected into two. Like that, the figure swayed and blurred before melting and vanishing in the air. Its face looked from the side seemed to smile broadly in satisfaction.

Right after that, Shizuku’s body stumbled to the side, and she crumbled down. She became unable to stand up after her feeling slackened down due to being freed from extreme fatigue and nervousness.

But, Shizuku didn’t strike the hard ground.

“Splendid. As always, that’s admirable swordsmanship.” (Note: The kanji used in the admirable word can also be used for falling in love.)

“Nagumo-kun… fufu, you can also proceed to fall in love from there you know?”

“What are you saying?”

“My, that’s unfortunate.”

Hajime gently lowered Shizuku on the ground.

After Shizuku cracked that joke, a third path different from the passage Shizuku passed and the path Hajime came out from melted out from the wall.

“Yaegashi, you have difficulty in walking?”

“It seems so. I need a little rest. Although, nothing can be done about the blood loss so I need regeneration magic used on me. In any case, I cannot move properly right now… and so Nagumo-kun, take care of me okay?”


“Carry me in your arms okay?”

“… Yaegashi, did you change a little? Like you have no reservation anymore, or you became shameless…”

Toward Shizuku who spread open her arms demanding to be carried in his arm, Hajime only returned a slightly bewildered gaze at her. Shizuku leaked out a chuckle while enjoyably swaying her downed straight black hair.

“I’m just thinking that I’ll be slightly more honest. Rather than that, let’s quickly link up with everyone else. That’s right. Nagumo-kun, can you create an artifact enchanted with regeneration magic I wonder? You had included that function in the black katana too but the effect is insignificant.”

Hajime tilted his head toward Shizuku’s change while thinking that indeed it wasn’t guaranteed that anything would happen until they linked up with Yue and others, so he responded to her request because it would be better if she recovers quickly. Shizuku made a further request while he took out material from the ‘Treasure Warehouse’.

“While you are at it, can you make it a hair ornament? See, my hair string was cut. It’s better if it’s cute. Sort of like that snow crystal you gifted for Yue and the others.”

“… What a demanding fellow. It looks like you are really cutting loose on various things, huh?”

Even while complaining, Hajime thought “Well, let’s make it for the success celebration too”. He used a pearl-like crystal with a faint radiance which had high affinity with magic power, making a hairclip from that. It was like countless fruits in a row, or perhaps like drops of morning dew lining on a leaf, a row of beautiful jewels.

“It’s pretty…”

“Here, it’s fine like this right? Let’s go quickly after you wear it.”

For a while, Shizuku stared ecstatically at the regenerative hairclip created in less than a minute, but she then tied her hair in a ponytail in panic after Hajime called out at her.

“… How do I look?”

With her cheeks reddened, Shizuku looked up at him and asked that question. Seeing that Hajime’s perplexity deepened thinking that as he thought something was strange.

“… It’s falling far short of the real regeneration magic, but there was no problem when I attached regeneration magic in it to work on the flesh you see.”

“… That’s not what I’m asking, though.”

Of course, Hajime understood what Shizuku was actually asking him. However, for some reason, this exchange gave Hajime a déjà vu. It was just like, yes, it was exactly the same like the atmosphere Aiko showed him at the god mountain… yes.

Even while sighing deeply at Hajime who was playing dumb, “Well, guess it cannot be helped” Shizuku shrugged her shoulders before slowly holding out both her arms. It was wordless, and the second request for a carry.

Anyway, it was definite that Shizuku couldn’t move properly, so reluctantly Hajime was going to take out gravity stone from ‘Treasure Warehouse’, but Shizuku beat him to the punch.

“If you are planning to crucify me like before then I’m in firm opposition to that. When we are coming out from this great labyrinth, I’ll circulate Nagumo-kun’s rumor as a seriously ill patient.”


Of course, it was patently obvious what kind of sickness Shizuku meant based on where her gaze was looking at. His hair, eye patch, artificial arm, Shizuku’s gaze was moving alternately on those things.

Hajime wordlessly returned the gravity stone. In this case, Hajime guessed that she obviously would also refuse being carried like in a stretcher. It seemed that she persistently wanted to be carried by arms.

This unusual selfishness of Shizuku was increasingly spurring the bad premonition in his chest. However, they also couldn’t stay here for much longer. He also wanted to be spared from a lethal wound by Shizuku, so reluctantly Hajime crouched while showing his back in front of Shizuku’s eyes.

“Muu, it’s better if it’s princess carry, but… it can’t be helped.”

‘What is it that couldn’t be helped’, sealing such a retort at the bottom of his heart, Hajime got up while ignoring to the utmost the weight and soft sensation transmitted on his back. Wasting no time, Shizuku tightly entangled her arms around Hajime. Her body was also pressing on him as tightly as possible.

Hajime stood up, he wordlessly entered the newly appeared passage and began walking silently. He guessed that surely this passage was also connected to the space of another person.

There, a whispering voice reached him. It wasn’t the whispering voice of the labyrinth. It was Shizuku’s voice that contained more sweetness. She was talking into his ear in a posture where she put her head on Hajime’s shoulder.

“Hey, Nagumo-kun.”

“Hm? What?”

“Did you listen to the conversation between me and the other me?”

“No, I was too far, the voices of you two were also small.”

Hajime shook his head toward Shizuku’s question. Shizuku murmured “I see…”, then she showed a gesture of thinking a little about something. And then, she showed her palm in front of Hajime’s eyes while opening her mouth once again.

“This hand, it has hardened from holding a sword right? As I thought, this is not a hand of a woman.”

Hajime didn’t understand the intention of the question and his expression turned dubious, but for the time being, he sent his gaze toward the palm of Shizuku in front of his eyes. Certainly, the skin of her palm looked thick and hard. That was the proof of the many years she spent polishing her skill.

“If you said, that a soft hand without a single scratch is a ‘woman’s hand’, certainly this hand doesn’t look like that.”


“But, I think it’s a good hand.”

“… Really?”

“Yeah. Compared to the hand of someone that has never carried anything heavier than a chopstick, this hand is far prettier.”


Hearing those words, Shizuku’s exposed palm suddenly clenched tightly into a fist, hiding her palm as though it suddenly got shy. At the same time, the strength of her arm embracing him grew stronger.

“Nagumo-kun, thank you for coming to save me.”

“It’s not like I was coming to save you. That was just a coincidence.”

“Fufu, that other me said it. It was like a story in a book. Even that time in Orcus and the time in the palace was also like that. Were you actually choosing the timing?”

“Don’t talk stupid. Each time, I was just barely… no, that time with Kaori I was late in a meaning. Anyway, there was nothing worse for the heart compared to those times. I want more surplus time for that here.”

Shizuku leaked out a chuckle at the fed up Hajime.

“You see. On the inside, I am really girlish you know? Actually rather than sword art, I wanted to play house, I yearned for something like a princess that is protected by the cool boy. Even at Haltina Great Labyrinth when I was pulled into the dream world, I was a princess that experienced a love story with a knight. Though as expected, that was really a painful story that I cannot tell to anyone.”

“Certainly, that must be painful.”

Shizuku smiled wryly saying “There is a better way for saying that” while poking at the head of Hajime who expressed his honest impression without mercy.

“Well, you are wondering what I want to say, right? Because I am someone like that, I’m really thankful to Nagumo-kun that always came running when I was in danger, that’s what I mean. When you told me that you are watching, also when you told me you won’t let me die, I felt really really grateful.”

“… You are exaggerating. If Yaegashi died…”

“Kaori will be sad, right? I know that. Those times weren’t for me, you did those for Kaori’s sake.”

Shizuku cut over Hajime’s words. There was no sign of self-depreciation in what she was saying. She was really just saying the truth, her air was quite indifferent.

Certainly, it was like that, but the way Shizuku said that it was like he was being seen through that “If it is for Kaori’s sake you will do anything right?”, that made him dissatisfied that he added some correction.

“… 80 percent is because of that.”

Shizuku was puzzled. If he said that around 80 percent was for Kaori’s sake then…

“And the remaining 20 percent?”

“Well, that’s because Yaegashi is a good fellow, see? I’m not going to actively try to forsake you.”


Unexpectedly, if Shizuku was in a pinch, then Hajime was going to proactively reach out his hand to her. Understanding that such feelings existed inside Hajime, Shizuku’s cheeks were slightly tinged with heat.

And then she buried her face into Hajime’s neck while sleekly dropping a bomb just like her best friend was prone to do.

“Nagumo-kun, I want to quickly meet up with Kaori. Not just Kaori, but I want to meet Yue, Shia, and Tio too. And then, I’m going to say to them that I have fallen in love with Nagumo-kun. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I want to try being a little more honest and clash ahead.”

“Is that so? If that’s the case then, let’s qui… oi, Yaegashi, just now, you.”

“Nagumo-kun, I’m a little… tired. Protect me… properly… kay”

In Hajime’s ear, soft breathing sound of a sleeper could be heard gradually. It seemed that she had fallen asleep, entrusting her body to Hajime. Her skill to leave alone a bomb right after dropping it was a deed that was exactly the same as her best friend.

Hajime frowned before fixing his hold on Shizuku while continuing to walk silently. Inside his heart, he was holding his head wondering “How does it become like this?”

Not noticing how the cheeks of Shizuku became bright red like an apple…

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