Chapter 152: Into the Darkness
The first day of training.
Seiya and Natosus faced each other in the dimly lit space of the basement below the Shrine of the Six-Realms of Existence. I was watching the situation while rubbing my sleep-deprived eyes. Even though I stayed in bed, I couldn’t sleep and kept tossing and turning around during all night. Celseus looked at my face.
「Don’t be so depressed, Lista. Everyone farts, you know. I do it twenty times a day.」
I wondered if Celseus cared about me, since he tried to cheer me up. But, I wanted to forget about “that” as soon as possible…No, wait a moment! Did he say twenty times a day? How could he fart so much during the day, this awful god! What a gross pastry chef!
「But I’m glad that Seiya is learning the technique of darkness himself. It’s too heavy for us.」
A bit far from us, creepy dark hands were growing and wriggling from the stone floor. Natosus, the keeper of the Infinity Corridor, opened his mouth.
「This skill is called Dark Hand.」
「Hmm. It could be effective in blocking the enemy’s movements, I see.」
「If you’re fighting against a god or an angel, then you can do some damage just by touching your opponent.」
I remembered Empress Ceremonic of Exfolia after looking at those wriggling hands. I think that that monster used a similar technique too. Hmm, this skill didn’t seem like something a hero would use.
Rosalie, on the other hand, looked at Seiya with shining eyes.
「How wonderful! If he masters this skill, he’d be able to destroy the defense of the Dragon King and Dragon Mother!」
…In the end, Natosus only gave his aura to Rosalie and Seiya. Anyway, Celseus and I were just insurance to Seiya in case he didn’t learn the technique of darkness. Seiya told us, 「You don’t need it anyways since I don’t need you anymore. 」C’mon, he could’ve said it with different words! The way he said it was too insulting!
After casting a spell to erase the Dark Hand, Natosus sat in an eerie chair made of bones.
「There are even more terrifying moves. Do you want to know them?」
「I really want to know them. However, will it be harmful for my body if I use several skills of darkness at the same time?」
「I already explained that to you. My dark aura will protect you.」
I felt a little uneasy and interrupted the conversation between Seiya and Natosus.
「Li…Listen, Seiya. Wouldn’t it be safer if you don’t use any of the skills from darkness? Because, you know, you are a hero, so…」
When I tried to get closer to Seiya while talking, an eerie black hand appeared in the floor between Seiya and me in an instant!
「Whoa!? Hey, Natosus!! Don’t startle me!!」
「I didn’t do it. 」
No way. When I looked at Seiya, I noticed that he had raised his right index finger. And every time he moved his finger quickly, the hands under my feet were moving as if they were interlocking with each other. Natosus clapped with his bony hands.
「That’s amazing! Did you remember it just by looking at it?」
「I won’t say that I remembered it instantly. I’m just doing my hardest in order to create hundreds of thousands of these black hands so that they resemble vegetation.」
「But…But, why did you create hundreds of thousands of black hands in the first place…!」
「It’s because you have been noisy for a while now.」
Seiya stared at Celseus and me with icy eyes.
「I only have to train with Rosalie. You two. Go back to Uno’s house.」
「Yes! I’ll gladly leave now!」
「Hey, wait a second, Celseus!? How can you agree to that so promptly!!」
「Well, Seiya told us to leave, so that’s the obvious thing to do, don’t you agree?」
「I’m sure that you want to go back so badly because you want to make some sweets!」
While I was talking to Celseus, I noticed that two more hands grew from the floor around us!
「I’ll use you as an experiment if you don’t go back now. I want to see how much damage it will do if these hands touch a god.」
「Let…Let’s go, Lista! We mustn’t disturb his training!」
Celseus climbed up the stairs to escape from Seiya. I saw that Seiya grew five more hands, and those began to wave at me, saying, 「You too go home now. 」 How…How infuriatingggggg!
「Tell me your progress later!! 」
After shouting like a sore loser, I had no choice but to return to Uno’s house.
The second day of training.
Rosalie was sitting on the couch when I arrived in the living room. I noticed that Rosalie had her head hanging down. She wasn’t in great spirits.
「Ah, Rosalie? What about your training? 」
「…Starting today, I’m not going to train there anymore.」
「Eh, is that so? 」
「Yesterday, Natosus trained me so that I could create the Dark Hand as well. While I was training, I noticed that the hero was practicing with a different skill at the distance… After that, he came up to me and said, “You can go home now”.」
Rosalie finished speaking with a big sigh of melancholy.
「I’m not sure if I’ll be able to remember how to invoke that skill. You see, I couldn’t even create a single dark hand.」
「Hmm. Look, that hero only does things on a whim. So, you shouldn’t worry too much.」
Rosalie was extremely depressed. I tried to cheer her up a little. Then, Celseus brought us some coffee. I spend some time comforting Rosalie in the living room. However, even after a few hours, Seiya did not return to Uno’s house.
…Previously, I said, 「Tell me your progress later. 」 Rosalie came home, but he didn’t. Seiya, what on earth are you up to.
After making a sandwich, I went to the Shrine of the Six-Realms of Existence by myself in order to see the situation. I bowed to the gatekeeper and headed to the underground stairs, which led to the Infinity Corridor…
I screamed involuntarily. A myriad of black hands filled up the stairs! More than a hundred hands were waving at me in unison! What the hell! Unbelievable!
Nonetheless, in a sense, the hands that grew like vegetation proved that Seiya’s training was going well. It looked a bit irritating in a way, but this could be Seiya’s own style to let me know about his progress.
「He…Hey. I brought a sandwich… 」
When I handed over the wrapped package with the sandwich to one hand, I saw that it moved from hand to hand, and it went down the stairs. It looked like a water bucket relay!
After seeing that surreal scene, I left the place straightaway.
The third day of training.
Seiya never returned since then. I always tried to let Seiya concentrate as much as I could during his training. However, this time, Seiya tried to learn how to wield the Power of Darkness. The technique of darkness was rather unfamiliar to me as goddess. I couldn’t help but worry.
Today, I went to the underground stairs again. I brought with me some onigiri*. I thought that I’d have to leave the food on the Dark Hand like yesterday. Nevertheless, I didn’t spot a single hand on the stairs today.
…In some aspects, I knew Seiya very well. He could’ve created more traps along the way, right?
I went down the stairs quietly so that my footsteps wouldn’t be noisy. It seemed that I was overthinking too much, since nothing happened around me. However, I could hear the conversation between Seiya and Natosus from a distance.
「…It’s perfect now. After that, you only have to develop it and apply it.」
「I guess so. 」
「But, I still wonder if it’s okay for me to teach you this? Are you sure that you’ll need the taboo from the technique of darkness?」
…The taboo from the technique of darkness!? What was that!?
I tried to listen to their conversation behind the shadows…
「Wait, Natosus. Someone is here…Is that you Lista?」
Ohh!? He found me!! But, how!? I was so far away from him!!
I felt that my heart was going to jump out of my chest. But, if I thought carefully about it, I came here to deliver the onigiri to Seiya. I tried to hide that I eavesdropped their conversation, and I approached Seiya naturally. I offered him the lunch pack.
「Hi, Seiya! So, how is your training?」
「I’ve mastered the dark skills I wanted to learn. The training here is over for the time being.」
…However, Seiya didn’t say the usual dialogue. Apparently, Seiya still had something he wanted to do. He started climbing the stairs without looking back on Natosus.
「Wa…Wait for me, Seiya! …Thank you, Natosus! 」
「Yeah. See you later. 」
I waved lightly to Natosus and I followed Seiya in a hurry.
After returning to Uno’s house and getting ready with a change of clothes, Seiya gathered us in the living room. When I sat on the couch across the table, Seiya stared attentively at me.
「Lista. I want to know more about Mash before we depart to Twisted Geabrande.」
「Ehh!? Again!? 」
…I stood in front of the wall and he hit my head as usual. However, no useful information was obtained no matter how many times I tried. I saw a bathing scene of Mash’s childhood. Next, Mash’s good night sleep. And finally, the bandana’s creation process again.
「Why are you showing us these videos…!」
Celseus spoke with a perplexing expression on his face. Then, I screamed at Seiya while holding my head with my hands.
「I can’t do it anymore!! My head is going to explode!!」
「We’ll end with the next one.」
However, the last footage showed us an adult Mash destroying a human’s town. Mash held a bloodstained Egzation, and a woman holding her baby stood in his way. She begged in tears.
「I beg you! I don’t care what happens to me! But please, spare my child!」
「Hmm. I wonder about that…」
Moments later, Mash stabbed Egzation into the woman’s chest. The baby, whose mother collapsed on the ground, began to cry. Mash frowned at the sight of the crying baby and waved his sword down without hesitation. After that, he laughed as if he regretted something.
「Ahh, it would’ve been nice if I killed that baby first. The woman would’ve suffered way more that way. Mistake, I did a mistake. Wrong order.」
After that, Mash laughed at the humans and chopped them as if they were nothing. These scenes reminded me of Nakashi Village. Those who begged for their lives were ruthlessly torn apart.
「Lista. Don’t stop halfway through. 」
That terrible footage made me want to cover my eyes. But, I kept going further because of Seiya’s instructions. I kept watching that hellish scenario until Mash disappeared from that town.
My heart sank violently when I saw those cruel scenes. Celseus was also stunned by what he saw during the footage.
「That person is not Mash. That thing is a monster. I thought that I’d bake him a cake, but I’m not in the mood anymore.」
「That’s right Celseus. The Dragon King is an illusion of the twisted world that is not worth living. He isn’t someone we know. I’m going to eliminate him without hesitation.」
「Let’s defeat him!! The source of all evil, the God Dragon King Mash Dragonite!!」
The three of them showed their feelings in unison when they saw Mash’s violent behavior. Meanwhile, I told Seiya something that I remembered right now.
「You…You know. I forgot to tell you, but I had a dream about Mash and Elle the other day.」
「I don’t want to hear about your dreams. 」
「Don’t say that! Just listen to what I have to say! I…I think that Mash from this world is probably suffering deeply!」
Celseus opened his mouth and Rosalie wrinkled between her eyebrows.
「Ah? You just saw it. He didn’t look like he was suffering at all. Rather, did you enjoy seeing his slaughter?」
「The goddess is kind. I understand that. But, the God Dragon King doesn’t deserve kindness.」
「They are both right. That kind of carelessness is fatal.」
「I’m not being careless! In my dream, Mash told me, “Help me”! Even Elle said, “Seiya won’t save the world if it continues like this”!」
「…I won’t save the world, you say?」
After twitching his eyebrows, Seiya stared fixedly at me.
「Is that what you really think of me? 」
「No…No, of course not…! 」
I didn’t know if it was really a dream or a delusion. I didn’t really know what it was. I couldn’t say anything anymore. Seiya stared at me, and snorted “hmm”.
「You…You don’t have to look at me like that…」
「That’s enough. It seems that you were useless again. But, I already know Mash’s weakness after you showed me that video last time, and I managed to master the technique of darkness in time. If I take the day off today and recover my magical power, I won’t have any problem fighting against the Dragon Mother with proper measures.」
「I see! Then, that means you are finally ready, right! 」
I took a quick look at Seiya and waited for the usual catch phrase. However, Seiya turned away from me and murmured.
He abbreviated it!? He was really in a bad mood!!
After arriving in Igle town through the portal, we followed Seiya and walked to the town’s borders.
「By the way, I’ve never seen Igle’s magical barriers yet.」
Seiya spoke, but he didn’t turn around. He was definitely angry. It felt as if he threw a tantrum.
We headed towards the outskirts of Igle with an awkward atmosphere. I’ve only been to the center of this town up until now. But, as I approached the outskirts, the full picture of the magical barriers became quite clear to me. A wall of frosted glass surrounded the entire town. I glanced at Rosalie walking next to me.
「So, this is Igle’s barrier. But, it’s blurry. We can’t see what’s happening on the other side.」
「That was made on purpose. With this way, the town gets invisible. Igle’s barrier only allows the entry of sunlight and natural resourced objects necessary to live. But, it blocks the invasion of all living organisms.」
「Eh. You’ve made it with careful thoughts.」
Celseus spoke as if he was impressed. Rosalie nodded while placing her hand on the barrier.
「I can go outside if I want. My presence won’t disrupt the powers of this barrier. Some of us invoked a magic spell on our bodies so that we can go through the wall.」
…Then, that means that the barrier has never been lifted before. Well, it had a strict system. But, this was the way that prevented the invasion of the dragon men for many years.
Rosalie held up her hand on us and cast the spell. I didn’t feel any change. But it seemed that I could pass through the barrier now. Seiya finally opened his mouth.
「Rosalie. Is there anyone besides you who can manipulate this barrier?」
「Yes. Graham, the former Mayor of Edna Town, can do it as well.」
「I see. 」
I felt anxious about it, and asked Seiya.
「Hey, Seiya. Why do you want to know that? 」
「It has nothing to do with you. 」
Seiya answered me without looking at my face. I knew it. Seiya was in a bad mood since yesterday. No matter how many times I said it, Seiya still thought of me as someone foolish who only cared about the illusions of the twisted world. But, the voice I heard in my dreams was constantly in my head. It was certainly Elle’s voice. I didn’t know what to do. Instead of saving Mash, we must kill him in order to restore the original world. That was hard to accept…
While I felt worried about it, Seiya gave instructions to everybody.
「Invoke your Transparency skill, except you Rosalie. Then, Rosalie will take the lead and we will follow her.」
「Ehh! Is Rosalie going to be okay? 」
I was worried about Rosalie. The enemies could see her if we ventured outside. However, she smiled at me.
「Everything will fall apart if there’s no leader to guide you.」
「That…That may be true, but… 」
I couldn’t say anything more when I felt Seiya’s gaze piercing through my back.
Celseus and I became transparent after Seiya invoked his ability. We then followed Rosalie’s lead. I heard a dull sound when we passed through the barrier. Immediately after I stepped outside, a horrific sight unfolded in front of me.
The miserable-looking corpses of demons and dragons were scattered everywhere…Fiery smoke…The smell of blood. Hell spread in front of the wall that guarded the peaceful Igle town.
…Whoa…! Who knew that the outside of the barrier was this devastated!
I was speechless. Celseus was equally stunned. However, after a short moment, Seiya’s calm voice echoed next to us.
「Rosalie. The demons and dragons are fighting each other about 300 meters (0.18 miles) northeast from here. Let’s proceed slowly.」
While we were shocked to see the endless corpses, Seiya probably used the Automatic Phoenix or the fire lizards to do some surveillance work. Rosalie proceeded slowly and cautiously, just as Seiya told her to do.
…I noticed that the corpses of the demons were overwhelmingly higher in numbers than the corpses of dragons. As Mash said, the demons were probably close to extinction.
The large amount of corpses in the area showed that a fierce battle took place here. No one was alive as far as I could see. Only lifeless corpses scattered around on the ground. I walked carefully in order to avoid stepping on the corpses.
Suddenly, I heard Celseus’ idiotic high voice, and I shuddered with my entire body. Seiya spoke before I got angry with him.
「Hey, Celseus. Don’t shout. There’s no point in being transparent if the enemy finds us.」
「I…I’m so sorry! But, Seiya! Look at this! 」
We couldn’t see where Celseus pointed at when he said 「Look at this. 」 He was transparent after all. However, after looking around, Rosalie seemed to have noticed what Celseus was saying.
「This corpse is…! 」
I stared at the demon’s corpse, whom Rosalie and Celseus talked about. I was familiar with this body. This corpse belonged to the six-arm demon executive, Eliza Kaiser. His upper body was the only remaining part decaying in the ground.
「They even defeated the demon Eliza…Perhaps he was killed by the Dragon Mother.」
「I’ll do an autopsy on the corpse. Wait until I say I’m good.」
Seiya began to carry out the autopsy on Eliza while remaining transparent. Seiya was probably touching the corpse. It was kind of weird to see Eliza’s arms moving freely and floating in the air. After a while, Celseus asked the following question.
「Seiya. Did you find anything? 」
「Hmm. Just like what happened with the fight against the Warlord Emperor, this guy became dead meat again.」
“I didn’t find anything during autopsy, that’s all”. I wanted him to say it like that, instead of those cold-hearted words. But, I couldn’t because Seiya was in a bad mood. Seiya continued to speak after every single one of us remained silent.
「Of course, that’s not the only thing that I found out. His wounds are reddish and festering. They’re different from the burnt wounds made by fire magic. It seems that he was exposed to a technique of light. From now on, we will walk with more caution. Don’t lose your vigilance just because you are transparent.」
Rosalie began to walk again under Seiya’s instructions. Eventually, the sound of battle reached my ears, and a magical light glimmered in front of me. I saw a group of armed dragon men.
「Stop here. Rosalie, make yourself transparent too.」
「But, how can I lead you that way…? 」
「I have found my target. I don’t need guidance anymore.」
I looked attentively at the group of dragons. I saw a frustrated Chaos Makina surrounded by several dragons, and among them stood the Dragon Mother dressed as a high priest.
*A Japanese dish consisting of small balls or triangles of rice stuffed with a pickled or salted filling, and typically wrapped in dried seaweed.
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