Chapter 6 : Shia, Grand Battle of One’s Lifetime
ZUGANn! DOGHA! BAKI BAKI BAKI! DOGUSHA!
Tremendous sounds of destruction could be heard inside the Sea of Trees. Some trees could be witnessed, broken in two. There were craters scattered here and there that can be seen on the surface as if meteors fell into it. Furthermore some trees are burning while some are frozen.
The cause of such devastation against nature are two girls. Even now, the destruction is still ongoing.
A tree with a diameter of one meter was shot out along with the ear-splitting yell. It broke in the middle and flew into the target with great speed. With definite mass and speed. A brutal power of destruction was given to the rather mundane tree, carrying devastation across its wake.
“… … “Scarlet Spear””
It was a spear of flame that burns its target and everything in front of it into ash. Even objects with huge mass will be burned if touched by it. It countered the log that moves like a cannonball and turned it into ashes fluttering in the air.
The shockwave created by the collision between the thrown “Scarlet Spear” and log, dispersed the fog, and on the other side of the fog, a running silhouette could be seen. Immediately, a log falls from the sky like a meteor and pierces the ground with a sound of thunder. Backstepping, its target escapes from the range of the shock wave then once again the spear of flame was released.
However, the silhouette rushed out from the fog in high speed and then a strong flying kick attacked the log that pierced the ground. It’s unknown where the power came from but the log that received the kick was explosively smashed, and from it came splinters that shot at the target.
“kh! “Fire Castle””
Suddenly a wall of flame that can be called a rampart came out to block the improvised shots that come flying, not even one shot was able to reach its target.
At that time the silhouette already moved behind her. After shooting the improvised shots that acted as a splendid distraction, she once again slips into the fog. Her hand grasped the hammer that could be called ultraweight class, immediately, a powerful wind descended.
A fierce impact from the Sledge Hammer struck the ground and crushed it. From the impact, stones were shot out and scattered in every direction. However, her target was able to block that terrific attack, and scattered it using the blowing wind coming from the wind barrier, because it immediately retreated into the safe area. In addition, after activating this skill, the target fired another magic without mercy at the other party that is a goner, because of post-skill rigidity.
When she noticed her target’s magic, she desperately cried out for it to stop, but there is no need to hear that, because the law of no-talking-is-necessary was in place. The attacker tried to get away from her location but the ice magic instantly started to freeze her feet… … and resulted in her whole body turning into a chunk of ice, except the head.
“Co-cold~, please hurry release it~, Yue-sa~n”
“… … My victory”
That’s right, the two who kept fighting without any discussion were Yue and Shia. Today was the start of their tenth day’s training, a mock combat as the final test. The rule was that it’ll be Shia’s victory if she was able to damage Yue even a little. The result…
“Uu~, that is~, eh, that! Yue-san’s cheek! There is a scratch! A scratch! My attack hit! Ahaha~, I did it! It’s my win!”
Certainly, there is a small scratch on Yue’s cheek. Probably it came from a piece of rocky debris that broke through Yue’s defense. Even though it was a really small scratch, a wound is a wound. It was Shia’s victory. After pointing that out, Shia’s face looked overjoyed by it. She revealed a big smile, although her body was cold and her nose was running. Her rabbit ears twitched happily. No wonder, there is an important promise she made with Yue in this training graduation’s battle after all.
Also, for Yue, that promise is not something amusing. Therefore,
“… … there is no wound”
It was a good thing that the wound disappeared immediately because of “Auto Regen”. She sulkily turn her head with a hmpf.
“W-wa-!? It’s unfair! Certainly the scratch… … no, even though there is nothing now! There certainly was! It’s cruel to cheat! Now that I said it, please remove the magic already~. It’s been cold since a while ago… … huh, somehow I’m becoming sleepy…”
From the cold and runny nose, Shia begins to doze off. You’ll die if you sleep! That’s her current situation. Yue, who was peeking at that appearance let out a deep sigh while thinking it must not be continued in her heart, removed her magic.
“Pikchi-! Pikchi! Auu, it’s co~ld. I almost became a rabbit that can’t return (to life)”
After a lovely sneeze, she covers her nose with a nearby leaf. Shia then looked at Yue with seriousness in her eyes. Yue made an unpleasant expression because of her gaze. Her expressionlessness collapsed because of that unpleasant expression.
“Yue-san. I’ve won.”
“… … … … … … Nn.”
“It is a promise, right?”
“… … … … … … … … Nn.”
“If, I can win at least once in the ten days… … I’ll be taken along on Hajime-san and Yue-san’s travels, right?”
“… … … … … … … … … … Nn.”
“At the very least, you’ll help to convince Hajime-san, right?”
“… … … … … … … … … … Today’s breakfast, what is it?”
“Waiiit! What’s with sudden change of topic! Moreover, it was light! Yue-san, aren’t you okay as long as there is Hajime-san’s blood! What’s with you asking about breakfast! Please be my ally already! If I have Yue-san as an ally, it’s already 90% OK”
Shia makes gya- gya- noises, Yue looked at that expression that came from the bottom of her heart.
As Shia said, Yue had promised her. That is, Yue said to Shia, only if she was able to damage her in the mock combat even with a small injury within ten days. If she did it, Yue must acknowledge and allow Shia to travel along with her and Hajime. Also, Yue must help Shia persuade Hajime when she asks him.
Shia seriously wanted to come along with Hajime and Yue. Half of it because she didn’t want to become a burden to her family, while the other half simply because she wanted to be together with Hajime and Yue, and to get along with the two.
However, her wish was refused coldly. Even now that can be seen from Hajime and Yue’s attitude. At that time, what Shia thought of was the promise from before.
In Shia’s eyes, Hajime somehow pampered Yue by fulfilling her expectations. Above all, Shia is a woman. She understood Yue’s feelings toward Hajime. Naturally it was because she also has the same feelings. So, the reverse is also true. Yue also understood Shia’s feelings. That’s why, first of all it was necessary to make Yue acknowledge Shia Haulia’s existence.
It’s not like Shia wanted to take Hajime from Yue. She didn’t think about that at all. What she wanted from Hajime was to acknowledge her existence just like Yue, even a little. That was probably because of the world’s influence that made them the “same”. In other words, she only wanted to be “friends” with them. So that there’ll be someone she love and a friend who also love that person by her side. That’s the kind of future that Shia dreamt of.
On the other hand, about why Yue exchanged that promise to Shia, even though there were no merits in it for Yue. 20% of it was because she felt sympathy to her. When she heard Shia’s story for the first time inside the Raisen Grand Canyon, even though she developed complex feelings because her circumstances were comparatively better than her own, somewhere in her heart she can’t deny the feeling that they are the “same” that sprung up. Because she thinks of her as a comrade even if a little, she “pampered” Shia.
The other 80% was… … woman’s obstinacy. Yue was able to grasp Shia’s promise. That is,
“Please see it for yourself if I’ll just be a burden. Even if it’s impossible, please notice that I’m able to be beside Hajime”.
It was a challenge to fight over the man she loves. She didn’t think such a woman could exist near her. However, when she thought Shia who was the “same” as her as an opponent, along with Shia’s enthusiastic appearance and terrific concentration, in the depths of her heart she thought it was impossible to keep silent.
As a result, the match of promise was won by Shia.
“… … haa. I understand. I’ll defend the promise…”
“Really!? As expected, the~re is no need to stop~! Please defend it well!”
“… … … … … … … …Nn”
“Somehow, I think there was a strange pause… Will you really take care of it?”
“… … persistent”
Reluctantly, tru~ly with reluctant feelings, Yue admitted Shia’s victory. Shia was a little uneasy about Yue’s answer but left it behind and continued with expressions of relief and joy, because she knew that Yue was the same as Hajime in the fact that she won’t abandon her promises.
Slowly, the training of Haulia tribe by Hajime came to an end. The gloomy Yue and cheerful Shia were returning to Hajime and the others.
* * *
When Yue and Shia arrived at the place Hajime was at, Hajime had his eyes closed, and arms crossed while leaning on the nearby tree.
Maybe because he noticed the two’s presence, Hajime slowly opened his eyes and turned to them. While dubiously looking at the two with completely opposite moods, he raised one hand and called out to them.
“Yo, both of you. Did the match end?”
Hajime had heard there was a bet between the two for the match. Hajime was the one who prepared Shia’s ultraweight Sledgehammer. The Shia who, with an eager expression wanted to defeat Yue, and asked him for a new weapon still fresh in his memory, because Yue herself didn’t object to it. Although the contents of the bet weren’t known and they wouldn’t tell him anyway, also because it wouldn’t be a disadvantage for Yue, he made it.
Actually, Hajime thought, if Yue and Shia fought 8-9 out of 10 cases would end up with Yue’s victory. He already understood Yue’s ability in the Abyss. No matter if Shia was able to directly use magic, she who was immersed in peace until now is different from them.
However, from their expressions, Hajime was internally surprised that his expectations were overthrown. Shia cheerfully talked to Hajime.
“Hajime-san! Hajime-san! Please hear me out! I, was finally able to win against Yue! It’s a big victory! Well~, I want to show it to Hajime-san~, my magnificent fight! The time when Yue-san admits def-hebu!?”
Shia tried to explain how their match settled with gestures. But because she got too into it, Yue’s jumping slap came and with a “dosha” she was blown away, and crashed into the ground while spinning. It was so strong that she could only twitch without any signs of getting up.
Yue turned around with hmpf in a bad mood, then Hajime asked her in a wry smile.
“Well? What happened?”
Rather than the match’s result, Hajime was asking about the content. Honestly, the fact that Yue was defeated is not something he can believe easily. No matter who looked at Yue and Shia, without knowing what had happened, would only think that it was a lie.
Yue who exude the aura that she doesn’t want to talk about it didn’t want to hide it, reluctantly she answered Hajime’s question.
“… … her magic aptitude is steady like Hajime”
“That’s good, or else it’ll be waste of a treasure… … then? That’s not all, right? To be pestered by a Sledgehammer of that level…”
“… … nn, she specializes in body strengthening. Honestly, it was at level of a monster”
“… … hee. Is that compared to us?”
Hajime narrowed his eyes to Yue’s evaluation. Honestly, the high evaluation was more than he imagined. Strangely, her expressionlessness was destroyed changing into bitterness while talking about it, these were the things he noticed. Yue could be seen thinking of how to answer Hajime’s question, and then she replied while looking into his eyes.
“… … compared to normal Hajime… … around 60%”
“Seriously… … is that the maximum?”
“Nn… … but, there are rooms for improvement, probably”
“Ooo. That’s certainly at the level of a monster”
Hajime was secretly surprised at having heard Yue talk about Shia’s monster-like power, then he looked at Shia without saying anything. If it’s said around 60% of Hajime without any strengthening, Shia’s strengthened status should be around 6000. It was around twice as much as a truly strengthened hero. Truly a power worthy of being considered “monster level”. It can be said she was capable of reaching Yue. It really was something unimaginable from her usual sobbing and whimpering appearance.
Shia noticed Hajime’s half-astonished half-amazed gaze. She cheerfully stood up, then walked up to Hajime with a serious expression while desperately controlling her hurried mind. Straightening her posture, her gray hair with a blue hue was fluttering and her rabbit ear stood up straight. From now on she’ll express her once in a lifetime request. Well… … it can also be called a confession. Her body trembled in nervousness, even though her expression stiffened, there is an unyielding spirit in her eyes, step by step, she advanced. Finally, she firmly matched her gaze with Hajime’s, then spoke her wish.
“Hajime-san. Please take me along on your travels. Please!”
“An immediate answer!?”
Shia who didn’t think she’d be refused because of the mood right now, opened her eyes wide with a look of astonishment. “What is she saying all of a sudden?” was the thing that could be seen from Hajime’s eyes while he watched Shia as if watching a shameless person.
Shia was indignant. It’s okay to struggle some more! Something like that.
“Ho-how cruel, Hajime-san. Even though I was seriously asking that, to easily…”
“Well, though I don’t want to know even if you said it. First of all, what about Kam and the others? Don’t tell me, you aren’t trying to take them along, right?”
“Th-that’s wrong! It was my own story just now! I already talked before to father and the others. Even though it’s not like they think I was a burden… … that’s… …”
“That’s? What is it?”
Somehow Shia started to become bashful. While upwardly peeking at Hajime and playing around with the tip of her fingers. A sly, cunning gesture. Hajime was suspiciously looking at Shia.
At their side, Yue looked irritated while staring at Shia.
“That’s… … I, I just wanted to follow what I thought of…”
“Haa? What are you trying to follow? If it’s now, you won’t be burden to your tribe, right? If you have that power then generally, there shouldn’t be anyone you can’t beat”
Shia who bashfully tried to answer made Hajime reach his limit of patience, he then pulled out Donner. It wasn’t known whether she noticed that but Shia yelled “Woman’s courage!” in her mind then voiced out her desire.
“I want to stay beside Hajime-san! I love you!”
“… … Ha?”
I’ve said it, now I only need to bite it! Was what Shia thought while panicking, in front of her, Hajime looked dumbfounded as if he was a pigeon that ate a toy bullet. Exactly the appearance of someone who didn’t understand what happened. However, after a while, as if the meaning finally transmitted into his brain, he instinctively blurted out a remark (or tsukkomi).
“Nonono, isn’t that weird? Where the hell did I raise the flag? Even though I can’t say for myself, I thought I treated you harshly… … don’t tell me, did you get off from that?”
Shia never thought he would think of her like that and started to back away one step with regret from Hajime. Then Shia fiercely protested.
“Who’s a pervert! I don’t have that kind of hobby! Rather, if you noticed that I was treated harshly, why don’t you be a little nicer…”
“Well, there is no need for me to be nicer to you… … first of all, are you seriously in love with me? Aren’t you just tempted by the circumstances?”
The reason for Hajime not believing Shia’s goodwill is because he thought it was just a suspension bridge effect. It wasn’t a surprise because everyone could see Hajime’s attitude toward Shia was harsh in every aspect. However, Shia who had her feelings doubted was very ill-humored.
“It was not related to the circumstance at all. No matter how many times you saved me from predicament, my constitution won’t change… … even though I was glad at that time when you protected your promise in front of the Elders… … that may have affected me, but this feeling’s already born so how can I do anything about this. Even I sometimes think about it. Something like “why it was this person”. Hajime-san even now never calls me by my name, somehow it suddenly hit me and it hurts, just like a demon, answering only what’s needed, always throwing himself into a crowd of demonic beasts, has no mercy, just like a demon, is never nice to me, only favoring Yue-san, just like a demon… … huh? Really, why am I in with love you? Huh~?”
While speaking, Shia began to doubt her own feelings. Shia inclines her neck and Hajime has veins popping out of his head, while barely being able to resist pulling out Donner unintentionally by mistake, while hearing her answer.
“A-anyway. I can’t let you come along no matter what you feel”
“That’s! That was a joke just now? I truly love you so please take me along!”
“You know, your feelings are… … well, even if they are real, don’t you understand that I already have Yue? Rather, to be able to say that confession in front of her… … even I thought about it a while ago, your number one weapon was your body strengthening, but that’s not it, right? I think it was your heart that’s completely made of Azanthium”
“Who’s the one with the heart made from the ore with the greatest hardness! Uu~, it’s become like this as expected… … ee, I understand. Everything about Hajime-san. It was as tricky as I thought”
Suddenly, Shia “fufufu” laughed suspiciously while turning toward Hajime.
“Because I thought this might happen! I’ve gained an ally while risking my life! Now, Yue-sensei! Please help me!”
Hajime blinked his eyes having heard an unexpected name. Gotcha!, that’s the smug expression of Shia, then she glanced at Yue by their side.
Yue’s expression was so bitter as if she bit 100 insects at once, then genuinely unwillingly told Hajime.
“… … … … … … … … … … … … … … Hajime, let’s take her along”
“Nonono, what’s with that interval. You obviously hate it… … don’t tell me it was the winning bet…”
“… … Regrettably”
Hajime roughly understood the circumstance from Yue who dropped her shoulders, he no longer felt anger but amazement. Surely, Shia was thinking, for Hajime to hear out her wish, her power truly isn’t enough. Once again, she remembered how Hajime took Yue’s words as a priority in decision making. Therefore, she needed a method to make Yue her ally. It was not an exaggeration to call it “a life risking” method, because she understood it’d otherwise be impossible considering she somewhat knew how Yue feels. In these ten days, it can be said she was literally dying to find out Yue’s habits (in training/combat). In other words, that’s just how serious Shia thought about it.
Hajime was scratching his head. Even if he saw how Yue was reluctantly admitting her, there’s no reason for him to take Shia along. In the end, it was a matter of Hajime’s feelings.
Yue was shrugging her shoulder as if saying that it can’t be helped. It was because in these ten days she, more than anyone had watched how Shia worked hard and how she destroyed the trouble that imposed her, so Yue allowed her to be a travel companion. In the beginning, she never felt hatred toward Shia or her feelings toward Hajime.
On the other side, Shia who asked Yue for help with a triumphant expression started to feel unease but she steeled herself. It was because Shia already tried everything she could, so she could only wait for her fate to play out.
Hajime inhaled and exhaled deeply once and looked straight into Shia’s eyes, then he spun the words of confirmation one by one. Shia quietly regained her power when he heard his words.
“To go with us, don’t you already know the answer?”
“Didn’t you know? Isn’t the future not an absolute thing?”
Shia said that because she was able to catch a glimpse of the future. She believes that the future can be changed by actions and resolution.
“It’s a journey full of danger”
“I’m glad I am a monster. Thanks to that I can go with you.”
That was the derogatory term from the Elders. However, she takes pride in it now. After all, she learned that there are things she wouldn’t be capable of unless she was a monster.
“My wish is to get back to my hometown (original world). You’ll likely never meet your family again, you know?”
“I have talked about that. “Nevertheless”. Father and the others understand”
They are family that always protected her until now. There is no word that can express her gratitude. A family that’s always together no matter where they are, when she told them her feelings, they will surely smile without any need of words.
“My hometown isn’t somewhere you can easily live in”
“I’ll say it no matter what. “Nevertheless””
Shia has shown her feelings. It won’t stop with just that “word”. It can’t be stopped. That’s the kind of feeling this was.
“Fufu, is that the end? Then, it’s my victory, right?”
“It was my feelings that won. … … Hajime-san”
“… … What”
Once more, clearly. Shia Haulia’s wish.
“… … please take me with you”
Hajime and Shia looked at each other. Hajime looked into her azure eyes to confirm her intentions.
“… … … … … … Haa~, do whatever you like. Curious one”
Maybe because he saw something in her eyes, before long Hajime gave out a sigh then told her he gave up.
Inside the Sea of Trees, one shout of joy and a sound of disgruntled noise echoed. Having seen that, Hajime could only give out a wry smile with a lot of implications that there’ll be a lot of trouble from now on.