City Series:Volume4b Chapter 3

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Chapter 3: An Ending (Game Over Conditions)[edit]

Part 1[edit]

7:40 PM

Yuuki fired water from the end of Housei.

The straight-line shot was like a stake containing incredible pressure.

A transparent drill several millimeters thick flew forward.

She fired between the two enemies.

A red charm was attached to the wall there.

That charm was moving the train.

The supersonic pressurized water was right on target in order pierce through the crimson paper.

But…

“How naïve.”

With those words, red flames consumed the water from the front.

This was the Flame High.

The all-piercing, colorless stake burned like oil in the flame blazing in Hisahide’s hand.

The Ether Lives forming the water burned and turned to ash.

And the flames did not stop there.

The Flame High Rhythm user ran straight toward Yuuki.

Yuuki reacted by firing again.

Yuuki – Gym Tech – Take – Prepare For Rapid Fire – Hit.

Yuuki – Aqua High/Shot Tech – Multi-Take – Water Spell Rapid Fire – Hit.

Just as all of the spells activated and the water flew, Hisahide vanished from her vision.

This was his power as a Harmonist.

As long as he could react to something, he could move with even greater speed than it.

It was a White Noise technique that only Hisahide could use due to his ignorance of Techs.

The many lines of water passed through the spot he had just been in.

He was outside of that.

She could not even take a breath before his attack was on its way.

But she took action without panicking.

She held up a hand and swung it.

“Water!”

With that word, the air around her feet whipped up into a wind.

Yuuki – Water High/Mind Tech – Take – Water Spell Barrier – Hit!

The Ether Lives forming the air came into contact with her Rhythm and became something else.

Water spears thrust up from the ground.

The colorless blades drew a circle around Yuuki as they thrust up toward heaven.

And…

“Gh!”

With a short groan, someone was thrown atop the seat to her right.

It was Hisahide.

He knocked over two seats with broken backs and fell between more of the seats.

He was not moving.

Without even glancing that way, Yuuki looked to Taeko on the far end of the car.

“So you’re next.”

Taeko took a defensive pose with the Dragon Emperor and looked to Yuuki.

She glared at Yuuki.

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when yer the Killin’ Holder…”

“What will you do? This is your last chance to surrender.”

“Did my brother surrender to ya?”

Yuuki fell silent as the girl asked her question from beyond the Dragon Emperor.

The silence lasted a few moments, but then she slowly answered.

“He was dead before he had the chance.”

Taeko reacted with immediate movement.

However, that movement came to a sudden end thanks to a certain noise.

The Dragon Emperor gave a cry.

Part 2[edit]

7:42 PM

It was a cry of lamentation.

The Dragon Emperor released a long and loud cry from its shoulder armor as if wringing out its lungs.

It was an almost tearful and plaintive howl.

Surprise colored Taeko’s face when she heard it.

“Dragon Emperor…!?”

Before she could ask anything of it, the Dragon Emperor’s engine noise began to lower.

The pulse-like engine noise of that false arm’s Eighth Activation slowly vanished.

It grew quieter and quieter.

Taeko looked to Yuuki for a moment and then gave a panicked shout.

“D-Dragon Emperor! What’re ya doin’!? Hurry up and activate!!”

Taeko – Steel Tech – Take – Activate Dragon Emperor – Hit!

Her Tech succeeded, but the dragon ignored its master and cried.

The long, lonely cry reverberated through the train car.

“Dragon Emperor! She killed my brother!”

Taeko’s voice did not reach it.

It ignored her, lost all strength, and let its giant fist fall to the floor.

Taeko fell to her knees at the Dragon Emperor’s unexpected deactivation.

The dragon’s will vanished, so the Dragon’s Emperor became nothing more than a hunk of metal to reject her attempt to fight.

That meant it had not accepted her as its master.

“Dragon Emperor!”

Taeko – Steel Tech – Take – Reactivate Dragon Emperor – Hit!

Even though the Tech succeeded, the metal disobeyed and gave no response.

“Why…?”

“Bringing the Dragon Emperor to such a high activation was a mistake. Once the dragon’s will awoke, the prosthetic disobeyed you.”

“…But why?”

“What do you mean why?”

“Why would the dragon’s will refuse to fight ya!? The dragon’s will can see people’s wills and supply them with heaven’s will, so why won’t it attack ya!?”

Yuuki ignored Taeko’s question.

She did not respond and simply held Housei at the ready as she spoke.

“Will you surrender?”

“Why would we surrender!?”

City v04b 107.jpg

With a shout full of rejection, someone charged in from Yuuki’s right.

It was Hisahide.

In a single bound, he rose nearly to the ceiling and landed in the center of the aisle.

He stood at the midpoint between Yuuki and Taeko.

He stood tall, but he was covered in blood.

The blood was coming from his right collarbone, his right chest, and his left side.

He held his side as he spoke.

“So you get us used to attacks from straight ahead and finish it off with something from directly below? You play pretty dirty.”

Yuuki attacked without warning.

Yuuki – Aqua High/Sight/Shot Tech – Take – Create Water Barrier – Hit.

Her vision filled with a giant wall of water formed from the whirling wind.

The water created a high-pressure current in the wall.

It smashed the seats and pressed on the air as it raced forward like a bulldozer.

It was an instant away from a direct hit, but then the wall came to a sudden stop.

“…!?”

A few meters in front of Yuuki, Hisahide threw a kick beyond that transparent wall.

He dropped his heel down.

As usual, flames surrounded that foot.

The one difference was the amount of fire.

This was an explosion.

Unlike before, the flames reached an Octave of more than 1,000,000.

“Don’t you underestimate me!!”

The flying water wall was burned to ashes by the Flame High.

As he swung his foot down with the force of an axe, the explosive flames flew out toward Yuki.

Yuuki reacted by staring at her opponent’s fire using her natural left eye.

The power of incineration descended with a diameter of about two meters.

–Yuuki – Aqua High/Sight/Shot Tech – Take – Create Water Barrier – Hit.

The water she created was kicked into oblivion while it was still small.

As she tried to move back, her back reached the door leading to the connection between cars.

“…!?”

She had destroyed the door’s lock, so she could easily open it if she reached for it.

But she did not have time for that.

“…Kh!”

With a hint of panic, she knew the attack would reach her.

But in that instant, the door behind her burst open and someone behind her grabbed her in their arms.

Part 3[edit]

7:44 PM

It all happened in an instant.

As soon as the door with the broken lock was opened, Shoui noticed Yuuki’s back in front of him.

Shoui – Sight/Tactical Tech – Multi-Auto-Take – Confirm Situation – Hit!

Shoui – Gym/Boxing Tech – Multi- Take – Grab – Hit.
Shoui – Gym/Savate/Dodge Tech – Multi-Counter-Take – Great Dodge – Hit!
Shoui – Gym Tech – Take – Prepare for Landing – Hit!

He quickly fell back with Yuuki in his arms.

He moved back to the front car’s rear deck, the second car’s front deck, and back halfway through the passenger space after opening the door to the second car.

Yuuki looked back in his arms.

Yuuki – Sight Tech – Auto-Take – Identify Individual – Hit.

Yuuki – Mind Tech – Take – Intimidate – Hit!

Shoui – Mind Tech – Auto-Counter-Take – Ignore – Hit.

Yuuki – Gym/Dodge Tech – Take – Release – Hit!

Shoui – Gym/Boxing Tech – Multi-Counter-Take – Grab – Miss.

Yuuki forced his arms off of her and stood up.

At the same time, the door to the front deck was knocked down with embers flying everywhere.

Shoui stood with his back to the embers to protect Yuuki.

And he looked directly at Yuuki.

The Dog God on his shoulder expressed his thoughts for him.

“Please hurry away from here. Not even you can win this, Yuuki.”

“Hizaka Shoui…”

“Y-yes?”

When she called his name and he answered, the look on her face changed slightly.

An expression briefly entered her natural left eye.

Shoui – Mind Tech – Hit – Decode Expression – Hit.

Yuuki – Mind Tech – Counter-Hit – Psychological Resistance – Hit!

Her thoughts immediately vanished from her face.

Instead, she spoke.

“Hizaka…Shoui.”

“What is it you want? We need to hurry.”

Before he could say the enemy was approaching, she seemed to spit some words out onto the floor.

“Why are you here?”

“I promised on that night three years ago I’d protect you, didn’t I?”

“I do not remember making any such promise with you.”

“…Eh?”

He frowned and she gave a simple reaction.

She ignored him.

Instead of at him, the Killing Holder was now looking to the front car where their enemy was.

The Dog God frantically spoke up as the power of her cold eyes pierced Shoui’s heart.

“Wh-what does that mean!?”

He had nothing further to say and she did not answer his question.

She rejected him.

The answer could be found in her behavior.

And a voice spoke from behind him as if to mock his thoughts.

“What’s this? I thought you were supposed to help me become king.”

Shoui – Mind Tech – Auto-Hit – Detect Killer Intent – Hit.

Shoui turned around in surprise and saw Hisahide stepping in from the front deck.

His clothes were dyed with blood and he stood proudly tall as he looked back Shoui’s way.

The horribly heated look in his sharp eyes contrasted Yuuki’s cold gaze.

Shoui’s Dog God hid behind his back in apparent fear of the boy’s gaze.

Hisahide laughed a little at the small animal’s reaction.

“Outta the way, kid. Takada might like you, but get in the way and I’ll turn you to ashes.”

His warning was filled with a number of emotions, including jealousy and intimidation.

But Shoui was not the one to respond.

Nor was Yuuki.

A girl’s voice responded.

“That’s going a little too far, Hisahide-san.”

It was Takada’s voice.

Part 4[edit]

7:48 PM

A small figure with a stole over her shoulders stood from the seat to Shoui’s right.

It was Takada Seigi.

She moved to the aisle and stood between Shoui and Nakamura.

She looked to the darkness out the window rather than either of the boys.

“This is a crossroads. With the current possibilities, you can become king if you survive here.”

“Takada.”

Hisahide’s somewhat irritated voice responded to Takada’s gentle one.

“Are you trying to stop this showdown?”

“What if I am?”

“The thing about guys is, we want to be the strongest. Can you really stop that?”

A short silence followed.

Hisahide remained motionless, Takada did the same, and Shoui followed suit as he watched them.

Shoui – Hear Tech – Auto-Take – Listen – Hit.

Shoui heard a quiet whirring noise from behind him.

It was Yuuki’s MD stopping.

Beyond Takada, Hisahide’s MD had also stopped playing its Rhythm.

The Rhythms they used to fight had stopped.

That brought a certain thought to Shoui’s mind.

Is the battle over?

But then he realized something.

The Dog God had not voiced that thought.

?

Puzzled, he looked back over his shoulder.

The Dog God was still hiding from Hisahide as if dangling from his shoulder.

The small light brown animal was suspiciously looking behind him.

That was of course where Yuuki stood.

The Dog God was frozen in place watching her.

What does that mean?

The thought remained trapped inside Shoui and did not come out.

Instead, he heard Takada’s voice from her Dog God.

“Shoui-san.”

He quickly looked forward when she spoke his name.

She looked up at him with her dark eyes.

She reached for Taromaru on her shoulder and held his small body in her hand.

As she rubbed the Dog God’s throat, she opened her mouth.

“Please. Convince the Koto Chancellor to leave and then leave with her.”

She smiled a little, but when Shoui gulped, it had more to do with hearing her voice directly for the first time.

He thought about her voice, what her words meant, and what it meant to do as she said.

He recalled a portion of the prophecy she had recited.

A king resents him
A queen smiles at him
A sage resigns himself

Is that referring to now?

As soon as he asked himself that, Hisahide opened his mouth again.

“Wait, Takada. …Do we really have to rely on him?”

“That is the best way of hurting the fewest people.”

Takada turned her back on Shoui to face Hisahide.

Hisahide glanced over her shoulder to Shoui and sighed in exhaustion.

“I see you didn’t use your physical voice for me…”

With a dull expression, Hisahide sent his direct killer intent Shoui’s way.

“To be honest, I don’t like how you’ve taken a liking to someone weaker than me.”

“Are you still saying that kind of thing? Nobody likes a jealous boy.”

“That may be, but I want you by my side.”

Those words rang in Shoui’s ears.

He reflexively looked into Hisahide’s eyes.

Rather than clashing, their gazes seemed to melt together.

He’s the same.

Shoui did not even need to think about what about Hisahide was the same.

He suddenly found his body relaxing.

He lost the will to fight and felt oddly fulfilled.

So he fearlessly accepted Hisahide’s gaze and prepared to turn his back.

“…Yuuki.”

Just as he said that…

Shoui – Mind Tech – Auto-Take – Detect Killer Intent – Hit!

A gale-like presence slammed into him from beyond Takada and Hisahide.

Part 5[edit]

7:57 PM

“!?”

Before Shoui could ask what was going on, the owner of the presence gave a powerful roar.

“Yuuki Yuuki!! Answer me! Why does the Dragon Emperor see ya as good!?”

It was Taeko.

The Dragon Emperor produced a shallow sound of activation.

“Boss!?”

Shoui was conflicted.

Beyond Takada and Hisahide, he could see Taeko with the Dragon Emperor at the ready.

This was dangerous.

He knew that.

An atmosphere so intense it brought pain shot across the train car and ruled their surroundings.

But Shoui was conflicted.

Should he stop Taeko?

Should he wait for Takada and Hisahide to do something since they stood between him and Taeko?

Should he protect Yuuki?

This should not have been a hard decision to make, but the doubt in his heart filled him with indecision.

He doubted whether he really needed to protect a girl who knew she was the Killing Holder.

Just as Yuuki had forgotten his three-year-old promise, Shoui only knew Yuuki from before she had killed.

And so he hesitated.

He came to a stop and someone else took action instead: Hisahide.

He shoved Takada to the ground in front of him and slapped his MD’s switch in.

Shoui remained motionless as the Flame High user began to move.

He began a slow turn to face Taeko.

“You moron! I thought you weren’t gonna fight!”

Shoui – Mind/Sight Tech – Auto-Take – Decode Expression – Hit.

A look of both surprise and confusion came to Hisahide’s face.

Hisahide’s eyes turned to Yuuki behind Shoui.

What did Yuuki do!?

Shoui’s silent question was answered in an unexpected way.

Shoui – Sight Tech – Auto-Take – Spot – Miss.

An intense weight slammed down on top of his right shoulder.

“!?”

Shoui – Gym Tech – Take – Control Stance – Miss.

The blow knocked him to his knees and he saw something like a giant metal rod on top of his shoulder.

It was Housei. Yuuki was aiming the weapon with Shoui’s shoulder acting as a prop.

But that was not all.

Shoui – Hear Tech – Auto-Take – Listen – Hit!

The intro of some horribly clear music reached his ears.

It was the Cold High Rhythm.

Yuuki was preparing to fire a blast of ice rather than water at Taeko.

It was one of the Cold High Rhythm’s frozen shots that had once killed Nagoya Vice Chancellor Yamashita Gihei.

“Yuuki!?”

As if in response to the Dog God’s yell, flames enveloped Hisahide’s leg as Takada lay on the floor next to him.

A series of motions began with those flames.

Housei prepared to fire its ether light.

Hisahide swung up the leg covered in the Flame High while keeping an eye on Taeko’s movements behind him.

Shoui remained motionless as it all approached the conclusion.

Or it should have.

However, someone rebuked Shoui.

It was Takada.

“You can’t let this happen! Stop them, Shoui-san!”

She did more than just shout.

She stood up.

And with that simple action, it all fell apart.

The Harmonist could not react to the sudden movement.

And in accordance with the rules, Hisahide’s sideways sweeping foot pierced through Takada’s unexpectedly raised torso.

“…!”

All Shoui saw was the fact that Hisahide had kicked Takada.

As planned, the boy’s kick cut through Yuuki’s icy blast as it swept through Takada’s torso, rotated in a compact arc behind him, and kicked away Taeko’s lightning blast.

The powers of ice and lightning were turned to ashes. The same fate awaited Takada.

As she doubled over and collapsed, her body was covered in fire.

The first to burn away was her clothing.

Next came her hands and Taromaru on her shoulder.

“Takada-san…!”

Shoui stepped forward to support her as she collapsed.

But…

Shoui – Mind Tech – Auto-Take – Restraint – Miss!

His actions were stopped by an odd impulse inside his heart.

Part 6[edit]

7:58 PM

It was the fire.

The flames filling Takada stopped him from moving.

Someone was burning. He had to save her.

But his feet would not move forward.

He realized his face and body were stiff with tension.

An emotion that controlled his body more than his mind had frozen him and it refused to go away.

His legs, his body, and his arms did something other than move forward.

They trembled.

His body was ruled by a bone-rattling exhaustion and chill and a sharp pain stabbed into his forehead.

The sword wound he had received two years before filled his head with a powerful phantom pain.

This chilly emotion brought back his memories of the past and sent a tremor through his body.

That emotion was known as fear.

But…

How strange.

The fear permeating his body now was not of the unknown. It was a pure fear that did not even include any curiosity.

I’ve never seen the Flame High’s fire before, so why!?

That rational part of his mind was shattered by a cry of instinct.

Shoui – Mind Tech – Auto-Take – Restraint – Miss!

“Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!”

He heard a scream escape his own mouth.

It was an unpleasant voice. It was a loud, ear-splitting voice that seemed to squeeze all the air from his lungs.

He tried to stop it but could not.

He wailed.

A voice answered his cry.

“Takada!”

It was Hisahide.

As Shoui motionlessly screamed, Hisahide called Takada’s name and supported her body.

When he held her upper body from behind, her waist and below fell to the floor.

The Flame High strike had bisected her torso.

Both her clothing and her entire body were enveloped in flames and burning.

Shoui saw her detached lower body turn to ashes on the floor.

Her stole gradually turned to ashes and scattered into the air, starting from the bottom. On her shoulder, Taromaru grew entirely white and vanished into a wisp of ash.

The Dog God on Shoui’s shoulder gave a small cry.

It was a long, drawn-out, and metallic animal cry.

Taeko ran over from behind Hisahide.

“A-are ya all right!?”

But Hisahide ignored her and tried to turn Takada to face him in his arms.

It was too late.

In that instant, Takada turned to ashes inside his weak grasp.

She Ashed.

“…”

Everyone remained motionless as white sand-like ashes spilled to the floor.

Hisahide clawed at the air as if to prevent the ashes from reaching the floor.

It was a pointless action.

What had been Takada spread out across the floor.

Hisahide fell to his knees amid the white ashes.

He spread out his arms and scraped the ashes together in front of him.

His hands moved a second and third time before stopping.

He hung his head, so Shoui could not see his face.

Hisahide simply clenched his fists to squeeze together the ashes he had gathered in his hands.

“Oh.”

A quiet voice escaped his mouth.

“Ohh…”

It continued.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

He roared.

He sprang to his feet.

Shoui – Mind Tech – Auto-Tech – Detect Killer Intent – Hit!

Hisahide ran through the train and struck Shoui with a presence that had nearly physical intensity.

He roared.

He looked up to the ceiling and raised his voice. The monotone voice seemed unlike a cry of sorrow, a roar of motivation, or a howl of anger, and yet like all of them at once.

The simple voice grew louder and louder.

As it did, shimmering heat and a white light surrounded him.

“————!”

The voice stopped.

Nakamura Hisahide looked to Shoui.

Nakamura was not crying.

He was not smiling and there was no anger in his eyes. He looked to Shoui with an expressionless face.

It was the look of a Killing Holder.

He then continued forward.

He took one step.

Shoui was still on the ground and he took a step back while facing the other boy.

His back ran into Yuuki’s legs.

She did not retreat. Ether light filled Housei as it rested on Shoui’s shoulder.

At the same time, Nakamura continued wordlessly forward.

Every action was controlled by the name Killing Holder.

Before Nakamura could launch his fiery kick, Yuuki’s spell activated.

A giant icicle appeared above his head.

“!”

The icicle stabbed straight through the train in between Shoui and Yuuki’s position and Taeko and Hisahide’s position.

The metal screamed as the train was torn in two.

Part 7[edit]

8:01 PM

Below the night sky, an icicle broke through the roof of an Osaka bullet train and stabbed into the track below.

It was a giant stake.

Of the bullet train’s twelve cars, the stake pierced the second one, which accomplished two things.

First, it brought all the cars behind that to a stop.

Second, the second car was split from the front.

The front car possessed a will driving it forward.

The sound of ripping metal only lasted an instant.

The back of the front two cars was torn and they jerked forward as they took off again.

A moment later, the ice stake was overwhelmed by the momentum of the other cars and shattered.

Of course, it did not end there.

Amid a tremendous metallic din, the rearmost ten cars lost control.

The heavy flow of metal was dammed up by the ice stake, so they danced about as the stopping motion mixed with the forward motion.

The first to dance was the sixth car in the center.

In just a split second, the car bent and hopped upwards.

The seventh car onward followed the movements.

Instead of racing forward in a straight line, the row of cars gained an upward movement.

The sixth car took the lead in falling from the elevated railway.

The seventh and eighth cars were pushed by those behind them and followed the sixth.

The fifth had its back end lifted up and was dragged after them.

From there, it was a chain reaction.

They hopped, were pulled on, or spiraled.

Before long, all of the rear ten cars had tumbled from the elevated railway.

The kinetic energy of their 200+ kph velocity caused all of the cars to slip from the elevated railway and tore at or destroyed the power poles, railway, gravel, and walls like a woodworking plane.

A complex cacophony of destruction continued without end.

The noise rang far into the distance as the bullet train fell onto the Osaka Plain.

The rural land could not stop the cars.

The power of speed caused the long metal cars to hop along the dirt.

The links between cars were destroyed and each of the ten cars rolled as a separate metal tube.

From beginning to end, it only lasted five seconds.

The scene of destruction with no audience ended quickly.

Part 8[edit]

8:08 PM

After it was all over, it took several minutes before Shoui regained clarity of mind.

“…”

The color of the scene returned to his eyes.

He saw the winter night sky.

He had seen that vast sky a few times already today.

If that night sky lay before his eyes, he had to be on his back.

The ground below him was made of dirt.

With the thin frost of the winter earth, the ground was cold.

It was not an appropriate place to sleep.

He tried to get up, but his body would not move.

Shoui – Medical Tech – Take – Determine Wounds – Hit.

He had hit his back hard on something when the train car had overturned.

He felt numb and his head felt heavy.

He gathered air in his gut and held his breath.

Shoui – Mind/Gym Tech – Take – Focus – Hit.

He shot to his feet.

When he lifted his hips, a dull pain ran through the core of his body.

Shoui – Mind/Medical Tech – Take – Ignore Pain – Hit.

Shoui – Gym Tech – Take – Control Stance – Hit.

He almost collapsed, so he put his left leg back to support himself.

He felt a blow to the back of his head.

“Ow!”

He quickly turned around to see what unexpected obstacle he had struck.

He saw the train car that had been split by the icicle and rolled upside down.

He could see inside through the slice.

Several of the seats had come undone and fallen from the floor which was now on top, so it looked like a bizarre work of art.

The walls had grown distorted and all of the glass was gone from the windows.

It had clearly hit something hard.

“…”

Shoui silently rested his elbow on the ceiling which was now the floor.

When he did, the Dog God climbed down his arm and onto the ceiling.

The small foxlike spirit beast had apparently not followed Takada into death.

Is that because it followed me of its own free will?

It had been born of her Live, but it was now just an animal.

Her will was nowhere to be found.

He sighed at that thought.

I can’t believe this.

He tried to speak the words, but only a scratchy breath escaped.

His throat was still refusing to produce words.

He had once more faced the opponent who had injured his throat, but it had resolved nothing. It had only deepened his feeling of defeat.

He smiled bitterly.

The Dog God glanced up at him and ran further inside the train car.

He watched its back and swaying tail and then looked up to the floor that was now the ceiling.

There was nothing there expect for the occasional seat.

The part of the car containing Takada’s ashes had continued on to Nagoya.

Shoui had nothing.

Once he became aware of that, a thought came to him.

So my indecision expanded our possibilities in a negative direction.

When he should have protected Yuuki and stopped them, he had given into his doubts and done nothing.

So…

You might be able to say I killed Takada-san.

“…”

He looked back behind him.

He saw the night sky and the ground there.

A few long line-like objects had fallen onto the dark expanse of Osaka Plain.

They were the other cars.

Shoui looked around.

Shoui – Sight Tech – Take – Search – Hit.

The Sight Tech told him the person he was searching for was not there.

There is nobody, hm?

Yuuki was nowhere to be found.

He was certain she was not dead.

He knew very well she was not the type to make a suicide attack.

She had likely been the one to remove him from the car and place him on the ground.

But she was gone.

He did not know if she had gone after the enemy or to inform someone of the crash.

The one thing he knew for sure was her absence by his side.

That girl had said she did not need him, had forgotten the promise from three years before, and had controlled the battle.

She had been the first to react when Taeko had charged in.

The Killing Holder, hm?

As he thought that, he heard a quiet sound by his right side.

?

He looked down and saw the Dog God looking up at him from the edge of the ceiling.

Something glittered at the Dog God’s feet.

It was a gold ring.

It was the one Takada had worn.

Is this…?

As he picked it up, the Dog God stared at him and suddenly hopped to the ground.

“!?”

He reached out on reflex, but it ran a few meters away.

It then stopped and looked up at Shoui.

Shoui remained silent.

But the Dog God gave a small metallic cry.

It was saying goodbye.

The Dog God turned its back and ran off into the dry grass.

Its tail swished above the waves of grass a few times before vanishing.

The rustling as the small animal parted the grass quickly moved off into the distance.

Instead of pursuing, Shoui squeezed Takada’s ring in his left hand.

“…”

He said nothing, said nothing, got up from the train wreckage, and began to walk.

His body ached, but he walked regardless.

The field was deserted.

The sky was vast, dark, and empty except for the stars.

Shoui was alone.


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