Chapter 94: The Meaning of the Word “Companion”
「Now you understand…I’m the worst…I knew that I mustn’t forget that girl, I knew that I mustn’t forget the memories I made with her…but what I did was an evil act, because it was an act that erased that child’s very existence! I insulted all the memories of that child by pretending to be that child! It was me who should have died! Now you know! Hurry up and say something about me! Hate me, kick me out, do whatever you want! 」
Saying that, Lily expressed her emotions for the first time in her life.
It was her story, and I didn’t know it all.
All I knew was what I heard from her brother.
All that was left was my own conjecture.
However, the foundation was not wrong.
What was inside Lily’s heart was anger at herself for taking the place of her friend.
Then, her regret and repentance for forming a bond with us while pretending to be Lily.
Because if the real Lily was alive, she would have been that Lily next to us now.
She stole Lily’s place.
It was her redemption, but.
「Lily. You…how many times do I have to say this to you? 」
What I was saying was fundamentally wrong.
「Stop lamenting! Even if you regret doing that, you have to think about the real Lily’s feelings! You are hurting her memory, you know! Do you think that by resenting yourself you’re going to save your face!? Do you think that your screams will take you back in time!? What you’re doing is an insult to your deceased friend!! 」
Yes, if Lily’s true personality was just as she said, then there was no way she would hold a grudge against her by taking her place in the world.
「What I can’t forgive above all else is the misunderstanding towards us. Towards me! Are you going to look down on me just because you took Lily’s place by pretending to her? Don’t be silly! What’s wrong with you!! 」
With as much fury and truth as possible.
Hearing my scream, Lily’s face looked stunned, but she looked at me clearly.
「It doesn’t matter. No matter who you are, no matter what you’re doing now, you’re the only Lily I know. The reason I formed a bond with you, the reason I thought of you as a companion, was because we were raising monsters together. The one who helped me start cultivating monsters was you, Lily. Does it matter who you are? Above all, if you’re an SS-rank monster, what happened? Have you forgotten who I am? 」
Yes, no one else.
Precisely because I had lots of things to do in this world, and because I was not afraid of the existence of monsters at all, it was all thanks to her.
「I’m Kyou, a monster cultivator who has been raising monsters. The people around me are almost all monsters. Do you think I would be scared to learn that you’re an SS-rank monster now? Really? 」
Saying that, I lightly moved my index finger to a dazed Lily’s nose.
Surprised by that, Lily took a step back while touching her nose.
Her eyes were filled with tears, which she seemed to hold back earlier.
「…You’re …You’re unbelievable. Normally, one would be surprised or scared, or get angry because I was deceiving you. 」
「That’s why I’m saying this, but it’s not that big of a deal. You know, my mother is an SS-rank monster, and my sister is one of the Four Heavenly Kings. That’s even more surprising. Would you despise me knowing that I was actually a monster? 」
That would be a line that no human living in this world would be able to say.
Monsters were things to be defeated by humans.
Everybody was given a role.
A monster became the original Lily and blended into human society instead.
A fact that could lead to a catastrophe if someone knew about it.
But if you asked me, would I care?
「It doesn’t matter if it’s real or not. The only one I know is you, Lily. That’s why you’re my companion, Lily. 」
Saying that, I extended my hand to Lily.
Just like when a girl named Lily once reached out to you.
This time, I should be her one and only companion.
I held out my hand to her with determination and thought.
Seeing that, Lily spilled the tears she had been holding back and started crying while suppressing her voice.
Her own sin. Her true identity. Her own way. Her past. Her deceit. That she could tell all of that herself and still not be rejected.
Also that she had someone reach out a hand.
She thanked for the second time since she was born, shed her tears, and took my hand.
「…You really have changed. 」
「Thanks to you. 」
A usual conversation. It was the usual Lily.
That was enough.
My relationship with Lily had finally started.
「…Well, it seems as if we took a break, but we have to keep going. Can you continue your lovable reunion after we finish this fight? Yes, you and Lily. 」
Before I knew it, I could hear Amines’ voice behind us, who were holding hands and embracing each other.
Perhaps because of that, Lily and I calmly confirmed the current situation, and for some reason our faces turned red, and we unintentionally kept our distance.
「Yes…of course…I think my role in this place is over with this, and if you want to go further, I won’t get in your way… 」
For some reason, Lily’s tone was also agitated.
By the way, Hell, who had been looking at us like that for a while, was groaning.
「I see, I see. So let’s go ahead, you and the Cultivation Hero can flirt later. 」
「Ah, tha…that’s not it! Amines!! 」
Lily’s face turned bright red when in denial.
Where on earth did the bonds from earlier go?
「…But can I ask you one thing, Lily. I understand that you regret what you did and tried to atone for your sins. But why go to all the trouble to take the side of the Emperor Hero? Why did you do that? 」
That’s what I had been wondering since I heard about Lily’s past.
I also wondered if it had something to do with the monster role she was talking about.
「Ah, yes, that’s right. Well, you guys don’t know about him yet. He is…」
The moment Lily was about to say something.
A roar resounded from the first floor.
Perhaps some kind of settlement was reached in the battle between the Brave Hero Ferid and Jack and the others.
It was a violent vibration that made me think so.
「…I want to talk about it, but it doesn’t seem like it’s a good moment. Okay, go ahead. You guys, or at least Kyou, punch the Emperor Hero, okay? 」
「Yes, that’s right. He will get what he deserves. 」
When I decided to board this place, I decided to take Lily and the others back.
I wanted him to apologize, or I’d punch him in the face. It was no revenge, but it was for hurting my friends.
Lily nodded in satisfaction at my answer.
「Then go. The Emperor is on the third floor. There’s no one else to get in your way. Just settle this on your own, alone. I’ll be here to protect your back so that nobody gets in your way. 」
「Ah, to be honest, it would be reassuring if you came with us, but it seems it will be better to settle this alone? 」
I also read what Lily was trying to say, and Lily quietly nodded.
She had been with me all this time.
I already knew roughly what Lily, my companion, thought. It was the same with the others.
Jack, Isu-chan, I trusted everyone.
That’s why I didn’t look back when I heard the explosion just now.
I believed in my friends and just moved forward with all my might.
I had to defeat the Emperor who was the ruler of this castle.
「Then, see you later, Lily. 」
「Yes, do your best, Kyou. 」
I ran up the stairs with the cheering voices of my friends whom I could trust, without looking directly at their faces.
My aim beyond this phase was the ruler of the castle…Emperor Hero.
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