Chapter 4 A night for two
– Certainly, that girl needs special attention.
Aikawa-san groaned, folding her arms.
Umm, will you not seat on my sofa like it was natural? I mean, I’ve decided to enjoy the warmth of Aikawa-san’s butt who’s sitting on the sofa after she has returned to the slave room, alright? Oh, that’s not bad. Yup, you can sit there.
– Excuse me, can I also sit on the sofa like usual? The floor isn’t that bad, but I’d like to sit cross-legged and not do a seiza at least.
– Huh? What are you saying so proudly?
Err… it’s nothing of that kind though. This is my room after all. Or perhaps I should say, it’s my country.
– Because Doumeguri-kun messed up, now you’re being suspected by that lass, aren’t you!? Act more properly!
– Even if you tell me that, I didn’t know what equipment was being sold in what city, so there was nothing I could do!
However, Aikawa-san breathed a big, almost unnatural sigh of despair.
– Why do you say that? If you had done this, what would have happen? If you had acted like this, what would have happen? If you don’t imagine, think and act in advance this sort of things and what you need for the sake of your objectives, then no matter how much time passes, you won’t be able to fulfill your job.
To be honest, I feel offended… but, I do get what she’s trying to say. And how important it is what I’m trying to do right now. Even a slight mistake could decide the death of the entire class.
– Be really careful and act cautiously. If it were a normal job, I would just get angry and make you start over, but there are many situations like this one that cannot be undone. Don’t forget that our actions affect the lives of many people.
– … I understand.
I got up, standing on my knees.
– I almost forgot, Aikawa-san. Will you guide me through the castle before I return to Caldart?
– The castle? Why?
– Actually, I don’t know the geography of the castle at all yet… and you see, I’ll be troubled if I ask my subordinates to show me around and their loyalty drops again.
– I see, there’s that too.
Aikawa-san nodded and got up from the sofa.
– Understood. I’ve been used as a slave for half a year, so I know the general locations. I’ll guide you to the places that are set as important first.
Aikawa-san, who smiled proudly, somehow, looked like a reliable Onee-san.
+ + +
Like that, I decided to ask Aikawa-san to guide me inside the Demon King’s Castle Infermia. A Demon King’s Castle mystery tour for the time being. The beginning of an entertaining attraction.
– … Doumeguri-kun.
– Shh! don’t call me like that. You have to properly call me “Demon King-sama”.
Saying so, I gently pulled the chain in my hand.
– Guh, d-don’t pull it!
– At any rate, the eyes of the people, I mean, the eyes of the demons will see us. Please, be careful.
I got Aikawa-san to guide me inside the castle, and to not be distrusted, I walked, putting a chain on Aikawa-san’s choker.
However, Aikawa-san doesn’t seem to be pleased.
– So this is your revenge because you were scolded, huh…
– Really. For the sake of each other’s safety――be quiet!
I spotted a figure coming from the end of the hallway and my body stiffened due to the tension.
– Oh if it isn’t the King-sama. What’cha doing?
The legendary beast boss, the werewolf Grasha came along as he made the ears that grew above his head twitch.
– Grasha, huh. As you can see. I’m letting my pet slave walk.
P-pet!? The bloodshot eyes of Aikawa-san asked so.
– Hee, that sounds cool. But don’t let her piss the hallway too much, alright?
Saying so, Grasha laughed.
– I know. I plan to train her adequately, but I’ll be careful.
Aikawa-san accumulated tears in her eyes and grinded her teeth, making grinding sounds. Well, we have no choice, so please be patient for now. Ah, I’ll be scared later.
Grasha waved his hand with a bright smile and went past me.
Somehow, this… went like this.
He should be a monster, but he incredibly softened. Of course, there’s a feeling telling me that I’ll be killed if his〈LOYALTY〉decreases. Still, this feels better than talking to my classmates in Caldart at least.
As expected of game characters who don’t exist unlike people who actually exist, I guess?
I suddenly realize that Aikawa-san looks up at me with a subtle face.
– What is it? We let him go past us without problems, so let’s go.
– … You’re right.
I nodded and Aikawa-san started to walk as if guiding me.
I could see the outside through the windows as I walked down the high ceiling corridor.
The castle walls, the gardens and the buildings inside them and the towers on both sides were seen under my eyes.
– This is the Far East District of the continent of Balgaea. The kingdom of the demonic beings is called『Hellandia』. It is the Demon King Hellshaft who reigns Hellandia and his castle Infermia. You got that?
This is pretty much basic information. I read the specifications, of course. Well, to the extent I forgot about proper noun and geography a bit.
– Infermia, from a bird’s eye view, is virtually a pentagon. The outer part is surrounded with high and solid walls that doesn’t allow the invasion of enemies. A gate made in the shape of the demon’s face is to the front. Within the walls, there’s a big courtyard and various facilities. There are all sorts of sports facilities, large public baths… theatres and execution sites.
Despite being the enemy character, the employee benefits are substantial… eh? Execution sites?
– The areas inside the castle are divided into a common area and an area controlled by Hellander, the Demon King’s military forces. Hellander is divided into big 4 army corps, and the four armies are controlled by the Demon King’s close aides. By four leaders, the Hellzecter.
In short, those four are Grasha, Adra, Forneus and Satanachia.
– We’re now in the Demon King’s Tower in the center of Infermia. On the upper floors, there are places such as Hellshaft’s room and the conference room which is at the same time the office where the Hellzecter gather and where the government affairs are held. On the lower floors, there’s a hall to address the Hellander to the Demon King’s army. And various facilities such as a dining room and the kitchen.
By hall you mean that one? The one where I was about to be killed by Adra and the others? That place has become something like a small trauma for me. As I think so, I pass in front of it but didn’t peek into it. Then I further go downstairs, heading to the underground.
– There’s an underground warehouse. An armory and treasure house, and even further down. The most important thing is at the deepest part.
I descend endless stairs and went down to the -30 floor where a giant temple was.
– What is, this…?
A huge hollow was made underground. The ceiling was high, but its size wasn’t to that degree. Be that as it may, its sides were about 100 meters each, wide enough for an underground space. And somehow, it was a space that made one feel a holy atmosphere.
A corridor was made to go around the walls. When I look at what it is a five-stairs thing, it’s the same as a six-story stairwell.* The floor has been turned into a garden, greenery and flowers were planted there.
*TN: I can’t seem to understand what the author said in that second phrase. Here’s the raw: 五段あるところを見ると、六階建ての吹き抜けと同じということだ。
And a building resembling a Gothic church was in the back.
– This is the most important place of Demon King’s Castle Infermia. The temple of Hell’s Gate.
I made a sound with my throat.
– This… place?
Aikawa-san and I walked in the vast underground garden. And, we set foot into the temple supported by thick pillars. At the end of the straight path, there was a large gate on the wall in the back of the temple. I went to the front of that and looked up at its majestic appearance.
– This is… Hell’s Gate.
It was a terrifying and beautiful gate with engravings of demons and angels put on its whole surface. The thinly blue glowing was divine and the gate itself was like a deity.
This is the only way to return to reality… exactly like the door to another world.
– Only this gate has to be defended no matter what. An acceptee getting out is not allowed.
I was overwhelmed by the presence of this gate. I could understand without a reason that Infermia and I, Hellshaft, existed to protect this gate.
– Are you listening? Doumeguri-kun.
I felt that the figures of Asagiri and the rest of my classmates, who shouldn’t be there, were seen by my eyes. They are leaving me behind, and everyone goes through Hell’s Gate with happy-looking faces.
And beyond Hell’s Gate――everyone’s bodies become light, break into pieces and disappear.
I answer without averting my eyes from Hell’s Gate.
– … I’ll protect it. Because I’m Hellshaft.
Looking at me, Aikawa-san said with a small gentle voice.
– If so, then go back to Caldart immediately. And don’t mess up, alright?
– Well, I thought of relaxing a bit here in Infermia…
Aikawa-san’s eyes twitched upwards.
– Don’t be lazy! Go there right now and investigate their movements! Or you want to be suspected more than this!?
I ran away from there and came back to Caldart via teleportation.
+ + +
A calm and early afternoon. The 12 members of 2A Guild gathered in the grasslands where trees grew sparsely.
– Alright, is everyone ready? Make your own parties and go to the field. Basically, you’re free to do whatever you like, but the goal is getting 100 Sol per person. You can try challenging high-level monsters, but don’t go dying over and over again.
After all, it’s not okay to die even if you revive? That’s what I thought, but when I hear about it in detail, it seems like there’s a penalty.
While one’s level doesn’t drop, the experience is reset to 0. In short, you can’t grow unless you return to your original experience. Naturally, the level was kept as it was, so it was much easier than starting from level 1.
By the way, this penalty. When I asked Aikawa-san, she said it was a mere bug.
Today’s plan is to kill monsters in the field properly and get items. A job in which you sell items in town and make money for living expenses.
And at the same time, with the purpose of gaining experience. If experience points are accumulated, then each skill will rise and your level will rise. Repeated battles with monsters will increase one’s attack power, defense and agility.
However, isn’t it cruel to arbitrarily make groups with those they get along like this? That occurs frequently in school, but I was always left to the last. And ultimately, the teachers invoked their coercive powers. I, the one who was left out, was forcibly assigned to a small group.
I remember the annoyed faces of everyone in the groups I joined. Well, this doesn’t mean I want to join your group. I’m okay by myself and we’re of equal status in this regard, so I shall endure this. My utmost sympathy tells me to not get in their way while not being a bit apart from everyone as I recite so in my mind.
But that’s a conversation in the real world.
This is a game! In other words, a different world! I was born again, like another person!
Somehow, I feel like the groups are already completed.
Three people, four people, and four people naturally make a group of 11 people in total. Even that unsociable Shizukuishi was among them like it was natural.
Huh? Nobody has come to say something to me yet…?
However, everyone starts walking while talking, saying「Where do we go today?」.
Well, it’s fine… rather, it’s what I want. After all, even if I kill monsters, I won’t grow. Those who are humans get all excited without knowing when they’ll die. It’s a fact that moving on my own is one way or another more convenient.
It is way better to return to Caldart and grasp the geography of the city or return to Infermia for a moment and increase Hellzecter’s《LOYALTY》.
– Ah, wait, everyone! Doumeguri-kun was left behind!
Ichinomiya scratched his head as if he remembered my existence.
– Oh, you’re right. Weeell, can you join Ougiya’s group? His group has only three people.
However, Ougiya looked extremely reluctant.
– Huuuh? Wait a minute. We have planned to capture the jet-black forest today. I’m not saying he’s a burden though, alright?
Oh, you don’t say!
– Then, what about my group? Akira-kun.
Asagiri turned a bright face to Ichinomiya.
The gal Busujima complained to get in the way of Ichinomiya’s reply.
– Eeh, but today Akira said we’re going to exterminate a pack of Bearlizards. I mean, you’re not going to divide us of your own accord, right, Asagiri-san?
And the remaining group turned their eyes, looking awkward. Asagiri put her hands on her waist and showed a disappointed look on her face.
– Fine, I’ve had enough. I’ll look after Doumeguri-kun so everyone will go hunting.
– Eh? But… Asagiri.
– Don’t worry, Doumeguri-kun. That settles it, right? Busujima-san and Akira-kun?
Ichinomiya said「Sorry」 and Busujima rather gave a warm welcome to that, she was smiling. Hey! Not that being divided was a bad thing?
That being the case, the time for my private lesson with Asagiri unexpectedly came.
– Alright, we’re going too.
Attending to me, Asagiri showed a bright smile. I barely replied to that dazzling smile.
We started walking towards the field like the other groups that had disappeared already.
– Where do we go?
– Hmm. There’s a precise tutorial quest for you. That quest has no use for us anymore, but I think it’s quite right for Doumeguri-kun.
A river flew in the middle of the vast grassland. We saw a forest as we went along the flow of that river.
– This area is nice…
Asagiri opened the menu and ran a finger in the empty space. The menu screen was only visible to the person themselves, so she looked like she was writing some characters in the air.
– Alright. This is OK. I’ve accepted a quest for beginners.
– What are… its contents?
– Oh, right. I didn’t say the important things, did I?
Asagiri stuck out her tongue with a *Tee-hee* and smiled. Her constantly changing expressions are so cute.
– “Defeat five sheep-like monsters called Barrett Sheep in this area”. These monsters drop wool as an item, so if we sell them to the material shops in Caldart, the quest will be completed.
I see… I feel that it’s certainly a quest intended for “The Beginners”.
– Look, one turned up quite fast. Do your best!
A white furball ate grass in the grasslands. That was a Barrett Sheep. Its horns were big and sharp and its face was more fiendish than a sheep’s. Its angry-like, wrinkled eyes were bizarrely lifted up.
I approached slowly but steadily from behind so that I’m not noticed by the Barrett Sheep. I held the sword, crouched and peeked at its appearance.
– Good, good. This is the way ♪.
Although I’m cautious, Asagiri crossed her fingers on her back and accompanied me, though walking. But I feel a pressure just by being seen by her.
Resolutely, I swung my sword downward at the Barrett Sheep. My sword was repelled by the fluffy wool and the thick skin and flesh beneath. Still, the number “10” in red color emerged.
The Barrett Sheep cried and turned around. It recognized me as an enemy and sprung at me. As its name suggested, its ramming attack was like a bullet. My body was blown away to the back.
The number “40” emerged from my body as I rolled on the ground. Hey! If I eat two more of those, I’ll follow the death course, won’t I!? I’ll die even if it’s a poor attack or a critical one!? What should I do? This――,
The Barrett Sheep charged again without caring about my condition.
I reflexively shouted and made my body smaller.
Asagiri forced herself between us, before me.
She stopped the charge of the Barrett Sheep with the metal shield she equipped who knows when. And without a moment’s delay, she added a light blow with her sword. Then, the number “100” emerged from the Barrett Sheep’s body.
– Now, get up. Try again!
– … Alright!
I got up and slashed at the Barrett Sheep that faltered with all my strength. The number “20” was displayed from the white wool and the Barrett Sheep fell down, shaking violently.
– Congratulations, Doumeguri-kun! You have defeated the Barrett Sheep! This is your first subjugation.
She smiled happily as if she had gotten the victory for the first time.
– We-well… it was, almost all… thanks to, Asagiri, though.
I ended up running out of breath so I replied in pieces.
The body of the Barrett Sheep, which had fallen and had convulsions, became light and disappeared. At the same time, a notification icon appeared in the corner of my field of vision together with a weak electronic sound. I touch that icon and the item window opened. It shows me the newly obtained wool.
I sighed as if I had finished the task.
– Well then, let’s do the other four in the same way, alright?
Asagiri was surprisingly Spartan.
– Hmm? … What’s this?
Suddenly, a cold air came flowing from somewhere. At the same time, the ground at my feet became hazy.
– Is this, fog?
– That’s what it looks like. But it’s unexpected and unusual in this flatland…
The fog gets darker and darker as we speak. Something is wrong. The moment I thought so, a window was displayed in front of me.
An Outbreak Quest.
– Asagiri, what on earth is…
– It’s a sudden forced quest! We were dragged into it.
The complexion of Asagiri changed.
The target level of the quest was 17. This was very risky because everyone’s level was around 15. It’s no surprise that Asagiri’s complexion changed.
– Let’s run away!
I ran, following Asagiri who started running.
However, and after a moment, my body rapidly became heavier.
– W-what… is this?
My body didn’t move forward, as if I was kept back by an invisible hand.
Asagiri is confused and replies, shaking her head. I opened the menu again and confirmed the contents of the Outbreak Quest.
– Let’s see… find the level 17 Wizard Grim and subjugate him. There’s a barrier generated in the field with magic power, so we can’t leave until it’s defeated. The weather in the barrier changes easily and it’s likely to get worse… it seems.
Asagiri, crestfallen, put her hand on her forehead.
– I’m sorry, Doumeguri-kun. It became like this…
– No, it’s okay. It’s not Asagiri’s fault.
– It is. We were going to do the beginner tutorial, but to think that an Outbreak Quest would develop in a place like this. I’m really so――
A raindrop hit the tip of her nose. The scent of rain immediately enshrouded us.
– Uwaa, it got so worse that is raining!
The rain falling on the grass made a green-choking-like scent rise up.
– The explanation says that the weather changes easily, but… that’s certainly how it looks like.
During that period, the passing shower came, getting stronger.
– Come on, this…
– W-we can’t stay here. Let’s take shelter from rain! Follow me!
With that as her purpose, Asagiri began to run. I followed her, relying on the back of Asagiri in this downpour. It was really a terrible rain. The expression “it’s raining buckets outside” fits nicely. However, was it necessary to make weather changes of this level in the game!? It’s too intense! Well, maybe it hasn’t been adjusted yet. But if it keeps like this, a complaint will definitely come to them. The water accumulated in my boots feels unpleasant, even my pants will absolutely get soaked.
– Keep at it! Just a bit more!
– G-got it!
She shouts to not lose to the sound of the rain. After running for a moment, a big shadow appears in the middle of the rain and fog.
– We can take shelter from the rain over there!
It was a European-style house. A two-storied wooden building with a large chimney installed on the triangular roof. Was this a house where NPCs lived in? However, Asagiri jumped into the entrance without knocking.
– We’ll be safe here. The monsters won’t come into the house.
– Oh… I’m beaten.
My whole body is dripping wet. As if both of us had jumped into a pool.
– But, what’s with this house?
The house has no lights or furniture, it’s empty. The only decoration is a fireplace on the wall. The large chimney on the roof seemed to be due to this fireplace.
There was no furniture, but there was a long, hairy carpet spread out on the floor. With this, and even if we lie down on the floor, I think we’ll have a good rest.
Asagiri wrung out her dripping hair with both hands.
– I used to take a break here when I came before, but somehow, it looks like an unoccupied house. We can take a break, more or less, but when doing so, our money isn’t taken.
It seems that NPC characters were going to be deployed. Or only the data of the house was preliminarily placed adequately.
– Is that so…? A-at any rate, we escaped harm.
– Yeah, so… a, *achoo*!
Uwaa, what a cute sneeze!
However, Asagiri’s face turned red and covered her mouth.
– I-it seems I caught a cold… first, we’ll have to light a fire in the fireplace and change our clothes.
Fortunately, firewood was piled up to the side of the fireplace and Asagiri had a fire-starter item at the ready so she could light the fire in the fireplace immediately.
It was still raining heavily outside, it was dark as the night.
Since there was no lights in the house, the fire of the fireplace was the only light.
The fire of the fireplace was warm when holding my hands out towards it, with this, our bodies won’t froze.
– Next is changing clothes, huh…
– You’re not going to change clothes… Doumeguri-kun?
I didn’t bring a change of clothes, I’m troubled, wondering what to do.Aside from what I’m wearing right now, the other thing I have is the Demon King’s armor. But there’s no way I’m going to wear that, right?
– It’s not okay to remain wet like… ah *achoo*!
Oh no, she’s really cold.
– You can’t. You also fall ill in this world, you know? Nonnon… I mean, Shizukuishi stayed in bed for three days with a cold.
Huh? Really? If so, I wonder if that almost identical realism is really necessary.
– But I don’t have other equipment…
Is there some kind of clothes I can use once I take off my clothes…?
Suddenly, the curtain on the window caught my attention.
Should I borrow that?
I immediately went to remove the curtain. Oh, it feels surprisingly soft. Like a soft towel, ideal for wiping one’s body. I put on the curtain like a cloak and wrapped it around my body.
– I really feel bad for Asagiri for being like this… but since you seem to be catching a cold, won’t it be fine to remove your equipment?
Asagiri blushed and stared diagonally downward. She seemed to be troubled about something while groaning slightly.
– I-it’s nothing. It’s just…
– Is that so? No, I really feel bad. Oh, I know. Let’s try to stay close as much as possible. I’m sure that Asagiri is totally prepared and has plenty of equipment.
Suddenly, Asagiri perked up her shoulders.
– A curtain… for me, please.
Seeing my dumbfounded face, the seemingly burning Asagiri kept on talking.
– B-because! It can’t be helped! I have way too many items and I thought of sorting them no matter what…
Oh… now I see.
I removed the other curtain without saying anything and offered it to Asagiri.
– How to say it… what a bad timing, huh.
Asagiri, whose ears turned red, received the curtain.
Asagiri completely wrapped the curtain around her body and carefully confirmed that her body wouldn’t be seen from an opening. Then she sighed and let her right hand peek through an opening, I unconsciously was taken aback by the whiteness of her skin. Asagiri manipulated the menu like she had taken a momentous decision.
Beyond the curtain, the form of the equipment put on the body of Asagiri stood out.
Its shape disappeared all of a sudden.
The curtain coiled about her body and the contour of Asagiri’s body emerged.
Despite the zero exposure, I clearly grasped the shape of her slender and supple body.
I unconsciously ended up searching for the points of difference with the VR Asagiri I was making. The VR Asagiri, to put it bluntly, had huge breasts and an erotic body. Despite that, what was this unusual sexiness? Although the size of her chest and the inflection of her body tended to be suppressed, the seductiveness given out by the willow-like supple hips stimulated my instincts.
――Ah, I can’t. What am I doing, staring at her fixedly like this? I’m a gentleman. I have to behave like a gentleman. I’ll never become a pervert gentleman. I also took off my equipment. Well, somehow, it felt great when I swiftly took off my clothes, but this.
Certainly, I’m hiding myself, but what’s this? This feels like I’m naked in front of Asagiri. When I think so, my essential part seems to be unable to control itself. This is bad! It’ll be terrible if I don’t deceive it right away!
I took distance and sat down, giving Asagiri the spot in front of the fireplace. Asagiri sat down diagonally in front of the fireplace and glanced at me.
– Won’t you get cold being so distant? You can come a bit closer, you know?
W-why does this end up feeling somewhat arousing? My heart has become corrupted, maybe?
– T-then… I’ll avail myself of your kind offer.
I slowly crawl and try to approach the fireplace. When I casually look at Asagiri, her white feet extended from the bottom of the curtain she was wrapped up. She was sat on the floor, grasping her knees. A dark shade was created beneath. In that darkness, her loose and roundish thighs are barely visible. If I strain my yes, I may end up seeing what’s in there, I unconsciously caught my breath. We are about 1.5 meters away of each other. Getting closer any more than this is considered dangerous.
I turn my face away to the fireplace while sitting just like Asagiri.
However, what’s with this situation as I try to collect myself? I’m alone with Asagiri. Moreover, in such a closed-circle situation, where just a piece of cloth is wrapped around our bodies.
Somehow, I feel like this is like a chance, but I haven’t had a chance from the start, I tell to myself that this is just an illusion.
In fact, and for a short while, we sat in front of the fireplace, but there was no development that should be reported.
Asagiri brings up a silly subject, but I can’t reply well due to the tension and my inexperience. I practically answer question by question. Well, I’d like to say something clever, but only at times like these I’m at a loss for words. It’d be pretty bad if I were to say something stupid and she were to think of it as unpleasant and hate me for that.
Eventually, Asagiri fell quiet and the two of us held our knees, staring at the fire in the fireplace.
I hear the sound of Asagiri yawning. Well, she hunted and ran quite a lot in the rain, so it’s no wonder she’s tired. I feel this is a proof she feels bored being with me, and intentionally tries to shut her eyes. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that sleep is necessary even in Exodia Exodus. We don’t have our real bodies, we’re just made of our consciousness data, so to speak. Despite that, one gets sleepy. There’s not only physical fatigue but also emotional fatigue?
– Ah, you heard me… didn’t you?
Asagiri ducked her head, looking embarrassed.
– Yes… but, you’re tired and it’s pretty late.
A couple of hours have passed already since we took shelter from the rain.
The time displayed on the system window was past 10pm. I don’t think it’s that late, but Asagiri seems to be an early riser.
– I’m at my limit already.
She said and lay down.
– Sorry. I’m going to sleep a bit.
– Oh, right. The rain doesn’t stop and it’s dangerous to go outside at night. Either way, we’re stuck here until morning… I guess it’s better to sleep when you can sleep.
Oh, that was a nice follow-up, wasn’t it?
– You’re right. And Doumeguri-kun should also sleep. If the rain stops, we’ll move from dawn tomorrow.
Certainly, not sleeping from this moment until sunrise is a bad idea.
– Then, me too…
I nervously lay down. Ah, the carpet feels surprisingly good.
I look up at the ceiling, at the swaying of the fireplace’s flames reflected on it. I can hear the sound of Asagiri turning over and the rustling of clothes blended with the sound of the burning firewood. That sound was strangely loud and resounded in my ears seductively.
I even heard her indistinct breathing while sleeping. Yeah, somehow, my heart is racing. I mean, I can’t sleep, at all. An absolutely defenseless Asagiri sleeps next to me. To think I would sleep together with her, just the two of us in a place like this, I’m so nervous I don’t feel like I’ll be able to sleep. With the constant idea that I must sleep, the inability to sleep increases.
Rather, if I were to give up that thing, that I have to sleep, it will be better for my mental health. I mean, this is a rare chance, isn’t it? I can worship Asagiri’s sleeping face as much as I want, right?
――Alright, I’ll see it.
I moved and turned to Asagiri.
– Hey. Doumeguri-kun.
Asagiri looks away, she was looking this way. Uh oh, did she find out I was trying to sneak a look at her sleeping face?
Slipping out a chuckle, Asagiri talked to me.
– I’m glad I could meet Doumeguri-kun.
My chest jumped, being startled.
– Eh!? W-why?
– I was worried about what happened to the rest. Maybe… they died, I thought all kind of things. But I’m a bit relieved, knowing that coming late is also an alternative.
Oh, I see. That’s what she means.
– Two thirds of the class are missing though…
Certainly, where on earth did the others go? As for Aikawa-san, she doesn’t seem to have received a communication even if people have died, so I can only guess: where are they…?
– Yup. That’s why when Doumeguri-kun came, there are things we don’t know and many possibilities as well. I know it doesn’t have a direct relation, but I’m sure it’s possible to go back to the original world.
Saying so, the face seen from the side of Asagiri was a bit fleeting.
– Asagiri thinks that we can’t break free from this world?
Showing a feeble smile, Asagiri turned to me.
– A bit, I’d say. I’ve lived here for the last six months, believing I’ll definitely go home… but, honestly, I’m a bit tired. That’s why, I’m happy that Doumeguri-kun has come.
My heart throbbed so much that it hurt.
When I think about it, this is the first time I speak with a classmate like this. And moreover, that is Asagiri Ririko. At any rate, she’s a cute and beautiful woman I like but just to long for her, and also an absolutely inaccessible resident of another world who is in the same class as me. It’s miraculous just to be able to have a conversation with her, though she’s happy that I’ve come, isn’t she?
– You may have a level difference with everyone… but if you get used to fighting, then you’ll be able to form parties with everyone and it’ll be faster for you to level up that way.
– Well, there’s no person who would want to associate with someone like me. In the first place, the inviter was――
That’s not it. That’s not it, right? I have my own established cherished opinion. I’ll never be a helpless aloof. I choose to be aloof.
– … I think that communicating with others is a waste of time and opportunity. I don’t think this is the case in which you can get and even pay for mental, physical and financial losses. That’s why I act alone. So… there’s no need to fuss about that.
Asagiri nodded and said「Is that so?」with a gentle smile.
Her smile seemed to look right into my heart, I couldn’t gaze at Asagiri anymore. I look up at the ceiling and muttered without thinking.
– Well, I’m a boring person. To be honest, I’m neither an interesting person nor someone you’ll be happy with.
I talk, facing the ceiling with a feeling of self-deprecation.
– I don’t think that’s true. Doumeguri-kun is a good and earnest person.
A good person? I’ve heard that good person is the abbreviation for worthless person, right?*
*TN: hard to convey this in English, but the kanji used is “いい人”and “どうでもいい人”.
– You don’t come late or are absent, your behavior in classes is serious and your grades aren’t bad.
Well, that’s normal….
– Even though there are people who skip their turn for doing the cleaning because of club activities, I feel that Doumeguri-kun doing them all by himself is admirable.
Weeell, knowing that I’m the only one isn’t involved in club activities, those guys just pushed that on me, saying『Who cares, Doumeguri will do it anyway』.
– At the time of the school festival, the school gate was broken, wasn’t it? But the next day, it was fixed somehow. The one who fixed it was Doumeguri-kun, right?
H-how does she know?
That easily-elated Ougiya was in high spirits and had the nerve to destroy it. I had decided to try coming and going without the gate, but I made the gate, so I just thought of fixing it at any cost while being angry.
– After some time, I heard a talk in which they saw Doumeguri-kun repairing it that day late at night, that’s how I knew.
– I-is that so…?
– That’s not the only thing. On the day when the girl of the gardening club had her first date with her boyfriend, you replaced her for the weeding of the gardening club. I was very happy that you were the person she found to change places with.
Well, I was just tricked, you see… she said 『Senpai, why don’t we do the weeding together this Sunday?』. But when I went, the girl wasn’t there, I was her proxy.
Well, I knew the circumstances though.
It was an obvious lie, but my eyes sparkled with so much hope that I thought it didn’t matter if I was being tricked.
– It’d be great if I could show off more.
I heard the soft voice of Asagiri.
– I know that while nobody is aware of you, you’re a person who works hard for everyone in secrecy. So, it’s okay to have more confidence in yourself, you know?
I couldn’t move while still looking up at the ceiling.
I thought nobody was interested in me.
That no one saw me, that I’m given the cold shoulder, that I’m not noticed.
I can’t believe that Asagiri was looking after me.
She knew this much about me.
I comfort my heart by buying plastic models of things I admire or want and that I’ll absolutely never get like cars and airplanes. With that feeling, I made a VR model of Asagiri.
However, the real Asagiri wasn’t something that could be reproduced with a VR model.
Not at all.
She’s an angel.
But I don’t have the qualifications to be praised that way by Asagiri.
I really know.
What’s going on in this world and how dangerous the situations for you are.
I came to Caldart to have the opportunity to kill you all.
If I’m defeated, you’ll pass through Hell’s Gate and die.
So I have to defeat you.
But to be honest, that’s not the main thing.
The most important thing is that I’ll save you.
I don’t want to die, so I’ll defeat you.
As a result, I only have decided to keep you away from Hell’s Gate.
If it’s Asagiri.
If it’s Asagiri, then I can tell her the truth.
Asagiri understands me.
And above all, I want to help Asagiri.
Regardless of the other classmates.
I have to,
I have to save,
I have to save Asagiri.
This person is worth it.
It’s fine if she doesn’t like me.
It’s fine if she has decided to go out with Ichinomiya.
Nevertheless, I, to Asagiri――
– U-umm, actually――
– I absolutely want to go home. And for that.
I unconsciously took back my words as I opened my mouth with the strong tone of voice of Asagiri.
– I’ll definitely defeat the Demon King Hellshaft.
I opened my eyes wide and stiffened.
– There are people in our original world waiting for me. That’s why, no matter what method I use, I have to… defeat that Demon King.
I smiled with all my might. However, it was nothing but a stiffened smile. I turned my back on Asagiri to hide my face.
– Is, is that so? But… h-he’s strong, right? The Demon King.
– But there must be a way to absolutely defeat him. Besides, if the real identity of the Demon King is disclosed, the Game Clear quest will be generated only once.
I thought my heart had stopped.
– We didn’t know back then… but in case that quest were to be generated again, what does the “real identity of the Demon King” means? I keep thinking about it.
I was completely at a loss for words.
And, for a while, I stared at the light of the flickering flames on the dark wall.
Suddenly, I look towards the flames in the fireplace.
In those flames, I felt I found the cloak of Demon King Hellshaft.
The blames burning in the fireplace is reflected in my eyes.
– Asagiri… do you want to return to the original world so much?
I quietly fixed my eyes on Asagiri. Asagiri was looking up straight at a point on the ceiling.
– I want to go home. I definitely want to go home.
Her face seen from the side and voice were full of a force of strong will.
Unexpectedly, and as if waking up from a dream, Asagiri turned towards me who realized that suddenly.
– Sorry! I got so absorbed in my own story! What were you going to say just now?
I relax my lips and turned to the ceiling.
– Nothing… I’m just a bit sleepy.
– Ah, I’m sorry! Then, good night!
Saying so like she panicked, Asagiri looked away and turned over.
I kept thinking as I looked up at the ceiling.
While listening to the rustling of clothes and the breathing of Asagiri as she sleeps.
I couldn’t sleep even though it was bright outside of the window.
+ + +
– What a relief. It seems that it stopped completely.
Leaving the empty house, Asagiri and I look up at the sky. It was still cloudy, but the sky was entirely bright and the grass shone with the morning dew.
– The clothes also appear to be totally dry.
The equipment seemed to dry automatically after a certain period of time.
We, who wore the equipment for combat, left the unoccupied house and walked on the fields covered with morning mist.
– If we don’t defeat the magician who made the barrier, then we won’t get out of here, huh…
That was very true. A level 17 Wizard Grim. He was a pretty strong enemy.
– Hmm? Asagiri, isn’t that strange?
– Eh? Where?
Steep cliffs extended to the left and right. And a part of the cliffs appeared to be raised.
The graphics of the background were slightly off. Is it a bug? Or….
Asagiri follows the path of the valley. And, she came to a stop a bit before the suspicious spot.
– Certainly, there’s something…
Asagiri opened the menu and operated something. Then, a notice appeared in which an item was added to my field of vision.
– This… is morning mist, right?
– Yes. It’s energy. I only have two with me, so use them when it gets dangerous. *
*TN: Energy is the furigana reading for medicine.
– Understood. Then, I’ll get their attention.
However, Asagiri shook her head.
– Doumeguri-kun’s level is too low for that. I’m sure that the one hiding is a Wizard Grim. If wide range offensive spells are used, Doumeguri-kun will get mixed up in them… it’ll be dangerous, so, umm, use it always before it gets dangerous.
It was an enemy that even Asagiri would have trouble with, and yet, I’m given all the energy?
– … Got it. But, I’ll fight too. I’ll reduce its HP a little.
Asagiri seemed to be a little surprised, but she smiled sweetly.
– Alright. Let’s do our best! But don’t force yourself.
I slowly approach the texture of the standing out cliff. When I look closely at it, it emerges as a humanoid with minimal effects. It’s a sign that something is obviously lurking. Asagiri draws her sword and amasses a yell.
She releases a blow with all her might. A band of light flashed from Asagiri’s stance. When she cuts off a part of the cliff, the characters “70” in red color emerges. Furthermore, the shockwave of the lightning revealed what was hidden below the texture of the cliff.
What came out from there was a wizard wearing a black hood over his head and an uncanny mask. One side of the mask was a tear-stained face and the other one showed anger. And a thick grimoire in his hand. When he makes his dried looking fingers run on the grimoire, a magic circle shines at the feet of the Grim, expanding its diameter.
– Watch out!
Asagiri, who continued swinging her sword at the Grim, raised an impatient voice.
I jumped back at once. Then an explosion occurs in the magic circle and a burst of flames spreads out.
Strangely enough, the explosion has no effect at all outside the magic circle. There’s no fire, blast, shockwave, nothing at all. However, Asagiri stays in it, and continues attacking the Grim.
I decisively approach the Grim and swing my sword down. But the damage caused is 5, 8, it’s insignificant. But if this helps Asagiri, even a little.
The moment I raised the sword overhead, a second magic circle spread at his feet.
What was in front of me was enveloped by flames. A pain like my body burned ran together with the impact that shook my body. With just one blow, my HP was reduced to 20 left.
I used the energy I got from Asagiri in a hurry. Then, my stamina recovered to 80. At this rate, it’ll be dangerous if I eat that again.
When I thought so, a magic circle was spreading again.
I ran away from the magic circle, making sure to roll over, an identical explosion occurred behind me.
I dodged it this time. But Asagiri remained there, swinging her sword desperately.
Asagiri’s… HP is still all right?
I’m in a cold sweat as she reduces Grim’s HP with a prepared-to-die facial expression.
Is she… really okay?
At that moment, a third magic circle spread at his feet.
Asagiri responded to my call.
She releases a hand from the sword and extends her palm towards me.
With that, I completely sensed. I kick the ground and jump into the magic circle without hesitation. I open the item window and select the energy.
And the one who will use it――isn’t me, of course.
Asagiri’s body is enveloped by a green light. A proof that her HP was restored.
But the next moment, a shockwave and burst of flames roared in the magic circle.
Flames and shockwave run, tormenting my whole body without mercy.
But, I’m still alive.
Asagiri drew another sword. The pair of swords are held in the left and right hands respectively. She raised the two swords high in the sky. And, slashed at the Grim, putting the maximum strength so far into that slash.
– Dual Lightning!!
Asagiri’s killer technique decided it. The extremely fast swords clasped in both hands hewn the Grim in an instant. The Grim raised a scream as if a gear that ran out of oil creaked. The Grimm falls to the ground, a number of red lights are drawn on his body. It becomes particles of light and disappeared, being scattered by the wind.
Asagiri dropped the swords and sighed with all her strength as if she had spat out the whole air of her lungs.
– We did it… somehow.
– Yeah. Well done.
Asagiri made her face smile broadly.
– But you knew very well. What I wanted back then.
I smiled too.
– Yeah, I understood that. Somehow.
– Is that so? Then, I think we work considerably well together.
– You… you think so?
Huh? This is a nice atmosphere, isn’t it?
– Oh, the barrier seems to have been removed.
Just when I thought this was a good atmosphere, what a disappointment. I stared at the digital noise spreading in front of me with a half hateful feeling. But that’s okay. Since the barrier is gone, we can talk again.
The whole surroundings were covered with noises, and after a few seconds, the noises disappeared in one go.
A huge shadow was standing in the way.
Shining eyes looked down on us from far above. And a roar similar to stones rolling was heard from the mouth with fangs lined up.
A towering, giant monster.
Its height was more than 2 meters. A monster with a lizard-like face and bear-like large body.
– A Bearlizard…
Asagiri called its name, letting despair reveal itself.
Once again a level 17 monster. And this time, it isn’t just one. There are four Bearlizards surrounding us to the back and front, as if doing a pincer attack on us. There’s no way Asagiri and I can defeat them alone, it’s impossible. The path is completely blocked to try escaping.
Dammit! With my current HP, I’ll be out with one hit!
Asagiri can revive, but I――I’ll die.
The Bearlizards come to us while making the ground tremble.
If I equip the Demon King’s armor, these small fries――,
No, it’s useless!
My real identity will be found out by Asagiri!
But if I don’t use it, I’ll be totally d――,
– Sunshine Blaze!
Together with that shrieking shout, the body of a Bearlizard was cut right in half.
A person fell from the sky. The height of the cliffs on both sides is about 20 meters. If one were to jump from them, one wouldn’t result harmless.
But without being weary of such trivial damage, a man appeared.
Asagiri gave a shout of joy.
– Flame Storm!
A mass of flames came down from the sky and the three Bearlizards were engulfed in flames.
When I look up, the figure of Shizukuishi and her cloak fluttering on the cliff was there.
– Alriiiiiiiight! Let’s go, everyoooooooooone!
Starting with Ougiya, the members of the 2A Guild run down from the top of the cliff.
Asagiri opened her mouth, looking glad.
Everyone’s level is around 15, which is lower than the Bearlizards’. However, it’s much more effective to bring down an animal with multiple parties. They defeated enemies of much higher level than them one after another.
And, after a few minutes, the Bearlizards disappeared.
– Are you alright? Ririko.
When Ichinomiya talked to Asagiri, she ran up to him and nodded with an almost crying face. Ougiya made a great fuss by raising a loud voice from the side.
– Oh man, this really got dangerous. I mean, if we weren’t going back, what’d you have done?
When the other members surrounded Asagiri, all of them said to each other they were glad she was fine.
– Yeah. I’m sorry, everyone. I made you worry.
2A Guild is an established group. Everyone rushed, worried about Asagiri. Like I thought, it’s her personality, isn’t it? Maybe everyone liked her because of that.
I just watch from outside that kind of everyone’s circle.
As if there were invisible walls.
Asagiri is at the center of it, looking up at Ichinomiya. His eyes sparkled, they were very different from the eyes that saw me.
– Akira-kun. Thank you, for coming to save me.
Ichinomiya’s smile received the words of appreciation of Asagiri.
– I should be the one apologizing for being late. But I’ll protect you, Ririko.
Ichinomiya, you protect Asagiri.
The heroine needs a hero. Protect and support Asagiri.
Please, be a hero. Save Asagiri’s heart.
I’ll save Asagiri’s life.
I’ll do what only I can do.
I’m the Demon King Hellshaft. My role is to kill you all.
And, Asagiri, I’ll send you back,
――To our original world.