CubexCursedxCurious:Volume14 Chapter4

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Chapter 4 - The Progression Known as Training; Its Terror / "The blade - It's heavy."[edit]

Part 1[edit]

Starting the next day, Haruaki was going to begin his crash course at Lilyhowell's lair. Naturally, there was currently no time to spare for attending lessons so skipping school was the only option.

The crash course's venue was the vast and empty party hall. Leaning against the wall, Fear and the girls were monitoring Lilyhowell's every move with wary and watchful eyes. Haruaki understood how they felt but also thought to himself that excessive wariness would also make it difficult for him to train.

Seeming completely unfazed by the pressure exerted by those gazes, Lilyhowell said:

"Try drawing the sword."

Then she handed the magnificently ornate scabbard of black to him. Haruaki slowly attempted to draw out the sword—shining similarly with black luster, the blade made its appearance. Roughly a meter long, it was normal length for a sword. So this was the «Toxic Sword Poison Ritter»?

Naturally, he could feel that this was different from the weapon he had held in these hands to this date. Namely, it was different from the sword that was Konoha. Currently, the sword in his hand did not feel as light as Konoha. Neither was there a sense of trust allowing him to entrust himself to it without worry. Ultimately, this was nothing more than a block of cursed steel.

At this time, Lilyhowell looked at him in an intriguing manner. She was probably confirming whether the curse was activating or not.

"How is it?"

"If you ask me how is it... Hmm, it's basically a sword. Say, am I going to train using the real thing? Isn't that too dangerous?"

Standing next to Fear, Kirika also expressed agreement:

"That's right. The toxin will spread from a single scratch inflicted by that sword, right? If Yachi fell down accidentally and got scratched, everything would be over. Even for Yachi, the curse from a curse-granted ability cannot be prevented."

"Also, how should i say this? Sparring exercises are needed as well, right? The thought of scratching the other person fills me with dread."

"...I see. This is quite an oversight..."

Lilyhowell pondered for a moment, then finally nodded as though saying "no helping it." Glancing at Haruaki, she said:

"Re-sheathe the sword and give it to me."

"O-Okay."

Haruaki carefully inserted the poisonous sword into its scabbard then handed it over to Lilyhowell. Next, she took out another sword from her back together with its scabbard, then handed it over to Haruaki like just now—This time, it was a predominantly white sword. The scabbard was decorated in a manner similar to the «Toxic Sword Poison Ritter».

"This is?"

"Use it as a practice sword. Its shape and weight are both similar to the «Toxic Sword Poison Ritter»'s."

"I see, then of course, it's better to use this."

Haruaki drew out the sword to reveal a blade shining with a noble milky white luster. Apart from that, the sword's shape and the feeling when holding it were both very similar as Lilyhowell said.

"You're right. So what's this sword called? What curse does it have?"

Probably concentrating while returning the poisonous sword and its scabbard to her back, it took Lilyhowell a while before she answered:

"...Name? It is called... «Alius». Its curse is nothing special. If you face the enemy while losing your courage, the sword becomes blunt. Conversely, the more courageous you are, the sharper it becomes..."

"Oh..."

"You're conveniently carrying many spare weapons. Aren't they too similar to be coincidence?"

"Simply by chance—Although it's also possible that some of these swords were forged by the same person. In any case, these swords were all borrowed from the weapons vault of the Knights Dominion. It would not be surprising if they were kept together according to some system of categorization."

Sitting formally in seiza in front of Fear and the others, taking on an audience role, Kuroe sipped tea from a thermos and said:

"Borrowed~? Judging from how you said it last time, that doesn't sound quite right. You probably robbed by force..."

"I do not deny that."

Then—Lilyhowell turned towards Haruaki again and said "first try swinging it however you want." Haruaki casually picked up the borrowed white sword «Alius» and attempted a vertical swing. Unexpectedly, it felt heavier than it looked, causing his body to be pulled forward. Then he tried a horizontal sweep. Different from swinging a baseball bat, after all, it made him stumble unsteadily.

"Swords are essentially pieces of metal. Looks like you need to grow accustomed to the sword's weight first. It simply will not do if your movements are affected by the sword's weight."

"...In other words?"

"One, start with practice swings until you grow accustomed to the weight. Two, rest when you are tired. That is all. If I notice anything else, I will inform you."

The first day's training was apparently far simpler than imagined. Haruaki could feel his arm muscles shaking and trembling because they were not used to the weight, but he still raised the sword again, learning by watching, swinging the sword.

Sweat flowing on his forehead, the screams of muscle ache, all these led to the path of Konoha's rescue.

As soon as he thought that, of course he could not possibly feel tired.

Part 2[edit]

"Nohooooooo!? Nnn ah, hee, yah..."

"..."

"W-Wait, don't... rub that kind of spot... so hard... Nnn... Haah..."

"Awawawa. What should I do? Faced with this situation, even I'm hesitating over whether it's appropriate to take out my camera!"

"..."

"Nnnnnngh! Ah, hah... The front... The back... The front again—? K-Kirika! It's enough, Kirika! Hey—!"

"Hmm...? Oh!"

Kirika suddenly looked up, noticing with startlement. Before her eyes, Kuroe's hair was raised in midair while the «Tragic Black River» was in action—How should this scene be described? In a sexual manner difficult to articulate in few words, Fear was suffering tight bondage. Kirika frantically released the «Tragic Black River» then remembered.

(Oh right. I remember we were discussing how it's too boring to simply watch Yachi training. While monitoring Lilyhowell, we should do something to avoid wasting time...)

Hence, Kuroe had suggested: "On further thought, I've never practiced seriously how to restrain others." Hence, in order to use their own weapons in a more experienced manner—and for the sake of slightly improving their restraining skills—Kirika and Kuroe had asked Fear to serve as their practice target for special training. This was because the two of them were tasked with restraining Nirushaaki.

C3 14-177.jpg

"Hmm~ Looking at the binding method just now... If it's my move, I'd definitely name it «Sexual Harassment Motomori». Should I pirate it for my own use?"

"S-Sorry, I think I spaced out slightly. How absolutely ridiculous..."

"Yeah, let's take a short break. There's tea in the flask~"

"Oh actually, I've brought rice crackers too."

While listening to this dialogue, Kirika glanced sideways to see him ahead, currently practicing his sword swings with single-minded focus. Lilyhowell was sitting on the floor slightly farther away, watching him intently.

Kirika's mind was slightly in a daze while she took a break together with Fear.

Honestly speaking—She found herself lacking in motivation.

Why was that? —She pondered. Speaking of which, why did she feel so bothered about the matter of fighting alongside Lilyhowell? And why was she unable to erase that kind of feeling? Then also pondering—She wondered why there was this feeling of finding excuses for her own reasons?

She took a sip of the tea that Kuroe had handed over. She originally wanted to look at Haruaki but inexplicably, she stopped halfway in turning her head, turning her gaze back to the steaming surface of the tea.

The more she introspected—for some reason—the more she dared not look at him.

(Hmm, in other words...)

As expected, absolutely ridiculous. She would feel guilty. Conversely, she took this as evidence of her ugly heart existing inside.

The reason why she felt unmotivated...

Was because deep in her heart...

She was harboring thoughts of "what if she never came back"—

If she forgot the confession she had witnessed—no, if she forgot all of her memories from before the confession, Kirika would be able to take her place by his side. It was probably because she was harboring this sort of incurably ugly delusion—

No. She hoped not. This sort of notion was not allowed.

However, inside her heart, another self was unable to deny these thoughts completely. Kirika was aware that these thoughts would give birth to feelings so tragic it would make her want to cry, but she also felt that no matter how much she tried to erase them, they would still remain attached somewhere in the depths of her heart, impossible to remove.

(I'm the worst...)

The depths of her chest and the interior of her abdomen were filled with thick and rotten mud. She really wanted to pluck out those internal organs, filthy because they were ugly, then cleanse them thoroughly with detergent—

But then it struck her. She was actually capable of doing that in fact. How ugly to the extreme.

Part 3[edit]

"Huff... Huff..."

"One, your speed has slowed. Two, your movements are getting sloppy. That is all. In light of that, I suggest you rest—That is what they are doing as well."

Haruaki turned his head to see Fear and the others sitting down for tea as pointed out. Fear was eating rice crackers, Kuroe was sipping hot tea casually with partially closed eyes, whereas Kirika was spacing out for some reason with a slightly gloomy expression.

"You're right... Then I'll take a brief break. Let's go."

"...?"

"Don't stare with those kinds of eyes. It's just a passing favor. I've prepared your portion of tea at least."

"No, I—"

"There, there."

Urged forcefully, she slowly stood up from the floor where she was sitting.

"Sorry to interrupt! Two more cups of tea, please."

"Muu!"

Noticing Lilyhowell's presence, Fear frowned but probably thinking it was not quite right to leave her out, she finally went "hmph."

"Suit yourselves. But I'm not gonna share my rice crackers with you two."

"Here you go~ It's still very hot, so be careful."

Kuroe poured tea into a paper cup she had brought. Then Haruaki handed the cup over to Lilyhowell. Expressionless with unreadable thoughts, she took the paper cup. Could it be that she doesn't dare drink Japanese tea—Just as Haruaki wondered, she sat down in the outskirts, slightly distancing herself from the group, then started drinking silently. Despite her cold attitude, it was fortunate that she was still willing to drink tea—Haruaki thought.

"..."

For quite a while, the only sound heard was that of Fear chewing rice crackers nonstop. A slight sense of tension was hanging in the air—as one would expect, the problem lay with Lilyhowell. Since they were going to fight alongside one another next, chatting a bit with her should not be useless. Hence, Haruaki decided to talk to her. Any topic would do.

"Right, I've been wanting to ask you. Nirushaaki is also wearing that weird mask, right? Is that a cursed tool as well.?"

The answer came after a few seconds' pause.

"...Apparently so. I am not privy to the details but reportedly, it is a Wathe of the self-augmentation type."

"Like the Family's Hinai Elsie... in other words, similar to that girl's «Clockwork Life», I suppose."

"«Four Minutes»? Compared to that, of course the effect is inferior. From what I have heard, Nirushaaki's mask merely "increases strength and reflexes" on an assistive level. Probably nothing to be too concerned about."

Lilyhowell finished quietly and took a sip of tea.

"Okay... Oh, I'd like to ask another question related to cursed tools. What Kuroe mentioned earlier—about the many cursed swords you are carrying. Are they really robbed from the weapons vault of the Knights Dominion?"

"I remember saying I do not deny it."

"Then isn't that bad? Umm, won't the Knights Dominion get mad? In terms of standpoint—"

"No matter. Provided it is possible to kill Nirushaaki... I do not care about anything after that."

Dark light resided in her eyes. Without looking anywhere in particular, she gazed at the concrete walls of these rundown ruins, speaking softly. Haruaki once again experienced the obsessive will behind them as well as an emotion akin to blind determination.

"But isn't it tough to carry so many swords? Stuff like curses for example."

"This I do not deny either... Perfect timing. Allow me to recharge the curse of one of the swords. For example, this «Epetamu» here—"

While speaking, Lilyhowell drew out a dagger-like weapon from her back. Perhaps she noticed Fear and the girls watching her suddenly draw a blade, because her shoulder shook abruptly. She simply continued searching her lower body's pockets to take out something—a number of expensive-looking rings with large gemstones. After she pressed those rings against the dagger's blade in a rough manner, the gemstones on the rings were instantly absorbed by the blade, disappearing out of sight.

"Eh? What's going on?"

"This comes from the indigenous tribes from the northern part of your country... Called the Ainu, are they not? A man-eating blade from tribal legends. A cursed blade that moves autonomously every night to kill people. Just as told by the legend, it will behave itself as long as stones are fed to it. Hence, this dagger's curse requires feeding valuable minerals to it in this manner. Otherwise, this dagger will move on its own to kill people indiscriminately, even attacking its owner. I certainly have no wish for this dagger to come flying in my sleep."

"Uwah~ That's too wasteful. This curse hits the wallet way too hard."

Kuroe murmured quietly in astonishment. Whether the gemstones just now or the money paid to hire those men yesterday, Lilyhowell's expenses seemed extraordinarily heavy. However, Haruaki did not dare ask her how she acquired her funds, deciding it would be best not to inquire.

Lilyhowell spoke while re-sheathing that «Epetamu»:

"It is nothing if a curse can be handled so easily. Personally, among those taken from the Knights Dominion's vault, «Stick Me Please» has the most horrific curse, although the sword is already destroyed."

"That's the sword you drew out before you escaped, right? Just to kill time, can I ask what curse did it have?"

"As indicated by the name, the sword demands that the owner's body put the concept of 'penetration' into practice."

"Hmm? What do you mean?"

"The curse requires giving it the feeling of 'penetration.' Otherwise, the sword will penetrate the owner's body on its own. Under normal conditions, the user apparently uses stakes or nails to penetrate their flesh, but considering I still have to fight in the future, I wanted to minimize damage to the body. But very fortunately, I am a woman and there is a certain part of the body whose anatomy is most suited to penetration. As a result, I used that place to—"

"Hey—! Hold it right there, aren't you talking about something very dangerous!?"

"Heave-ho! Heave-ho! Come, Haru, do this together with me!"

"Wait, you two are making too much noise, I can't hear! Penetrate what?"

"It's best you don't hear! You can also terminate this subject!"

"Is that so? In any case, I am no longer bound by that curse. To be honest, I am relieved. Although I am a lesbian, I did consider earlier that one day I might need to endure briefly and find a male to assist me—"

"Hey! I told you to stop! I'll curse you!"

The situation became inexplicably noisy all of a sudden. But in the middle of all this, Kirika was still sipping tea blankly. What exactly was up with her?

"Class Rep, is something wrong?"

"Eh? Oh, nothing... Sorry, I'm just spacing out and didn't hear what you guys were saying. What's the matter?"

"Kirika, don't bother, it's just stuff that would make you shout 'Absolutely ridiculous!' at this shameless brat as usual. Why don't you shout it once right now?"

"Why must I shout...?"

"Haha, never mind. There's always next time."

Kirika smiled lifelessly. She really looked drained but Haruaki was already too occupied to tend to her.

Just at this moment, Lilyhowell spoke quietly as though reminiscing:

"Let me clarify one thing first. Perhaps you may be harboring hopes, but among the Wathes in my current possession, none of them are fitted with Indulgence Disks."

"Hmph, I wasn't harboring hopes at all. That said, I do want Indulgence Disks, of course. Once the current affair is over, I'll continue searching. Since you're a member of the Knights Dominion after all, you should at least know where some of them are?"

"I have no way of knowing who possesses what Wathe and whether they are equipped with Indulgence Disks. Besides, from our perspective, that sort of thing is merely an ordinary device for lightening curses. Its level of importance is akin to whether fabric is wrapped around a sword's hilt to prevent slippage. One would not normally pay particular attention..."

"Hmph, how useless."

The dialogue ended there temporarily until Kuroe spoke up as though thinking of something on the spot:

"Oh right, take that Ainu dagger for example, the Dominion's weapons vault really seems to keep anything without being picky. I was thinking it'd be like a scene from a fantasy movie with a huge pile of western armor or swords laid out in a row."

"The Knights Dominion has more than one weapons vault. It is just that the one I visited happened to house many Wathes of this type, with long histories and appearances in legends. Perhaps in other weapons vaults, there are places gathering western Wathes of your imagination."

"Legends... That sounds very amazing."

Hearing their remarks, Lilyhowell shook her head lightly.

"But it is virtually impossible to discern whether they are actually the weapons featured in legends or tales. Neither is it possible to confirm whether people gave them names from legends only because their curses and traits resembled the legends. In any case, I do not believe that all of these Wathes existed since the distant past. However, among them... Surely there exist real artifacts that date so far back that the years are impossible to count."

"Age isn't necessarily the higher the better. Isn't that right, Kuroe?"

"Yeah, I'm currently at an age where it's not too convenient for me to reveal how old I actually am. Speaking of which, are those legends mostly anecdotes of a certain type?"

"Indeed. Mostly the likes of cursed swords appearing in Norse sagas and eddas. «Calamitous Sword of Sigarsholm» is one of them. The name Sigarsholm appears in Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar from the Poetic Edda. Again, it is unknown whether this sword was named by later people to imitate the poem or if it is actually a sword described in that story."

"Oh... Does the black sword you're lending me have a similar origin?"

"That is the Champion-Killer's—"

For some reason, Lilyhowell paused there temporarily. Haruaki tilted his head.

"What's the matter?"

"Nothing... I simply needed time to remember. The «Toxic Sword Poison Ritter» appeared in the Saga of Asmund the Champion-Killer. It was a revenge story where a hero was slain. Legend has it that the sword was coated with poison."

"What about this white sword for practicing... It's the «Alius», right? Is it the same with this sword? Their shapes are very similar."

"In... deed. It also appeared in the same saga."

Lilyhowell finished by muttering quietly. As though trying to change the subject, this time it was her turn to start asking questions.

"Speaking of legends, the Muramasa you are trying to take back is also a sword of legend, yes? Simply out of curiosity, I would like to ask: what kind of sword is she?"

"Just ordinary Cow Tits, Cow Tits. Fat and flabby."

Seeing Fear reflexively give an instant answer, Haruaki smiled wryly while thinking back. A sword of legend. Perhaps that really was the case. But did he ever gather that kind of impression from her?

Naturally, with a nostalgic state of mind, Haruaki recalled how Konoha was when she first arrived at the Yachi home.

"You're right, I guess. At least there wasn't much of a feeling like a sword of legend. Because..."

Part 4[edit]

His father was frequently away from home. At first, Haruaki would buy takeout such as lunchboxes but eating outside food all the time, he soon grew tired of it. Hence, he started cooking on his own. But being young, after all, he could not cook very well in the beginning, of course.

"Eh~ That's weird, I clearly followed the steps in the book..."

Haruaki frowned and looked at the ginger-fried pork on the plate. However, the food on the plate was charred so black that it was impossible to know what it was unless the name of the dish was mentioned. Oily and greasy, it really did not look like something edible.

I'll cook dinner tonight! He had already boasted confidently. But currently, the only other housemate was waiting on an empty stomach. I guess I've no choice but to order takeout and announce to her that I failed—Just as he thought that, the aforementioned housemate entered the kitchen with displeased look.

"Hmm~ Thou art not done yet? I am so utterly famished... Oh my?"

"Oh! This is... Umm—"

"..."

Because I'm not used to cooking. Because it's my first time. Because the explanation in the recipe is too difficult to understand—Just as Haruaki averted his gaze in embarrassment, trying to explain himself—

She reached for the plate and used her fingers directly to pick up a piece of burnt and blackened pork, tossing it into her mouth.

"...Hmph, such abominable taste."

While commenting gruffly, she was still moving her mouth to chew. Even though one could clearly tell from sight alone that the food was bad. Even though there was clearly no need to eat it at all.

Swallowing the burnt meat with a gulp, she scoffed again and turned around, about to leave the kitchen.

"H-Hear me out! Umm, uh—I-I won't fail again next time!"

He frantically promised towards her back.

Looking back at him, she grinned over her shoulder.

"So long as 'tis meat, I care not either way. If thou failest again next time, perhaps I shall dine upon your flesh."


Speaking of failures, of course he was not the only one who failed. Naturally, she had her own failures too. They could be described as similar to the situations when Fear first moved into the Yachi home, except with the difference that she was not particularly trying to help others.

For example—On a certain day in the past, just as he was spacing out, she had dashed out of the living room and into the garden. Then taking a leap after a running start, she landed on top of a utility pole outside the house's boundary wall. Raising a karate chop towards the other figure at the top of the pole, she had asked while glaring sharpy:

"Where art thou from, ninja?"

"Huh... Huhhhh?"

"Thou art scouting this residence, but 'tis too obvious. Thou hast climbed the wrong tree, 'tis extremely conspicuous. Thou art probably a ninja in training, but this Muramasa doth not show mercy to the enemy—"

"Hey—! He works for the electrical company, okay—!?"

He remembered how he cried out in panic while looking up at the fluttering kimono.

But still, now that she had pointed it out, a handy man dressed all over in navy-blue workclothes, leaning against the top of the utility pole, really did look a bit like a ninja.


There was also one time when he heard a strange noise after returning home from shopping.

A very clumsy but also very familiar noise—pu-pii!

"..."

He tiptoed to his own room and pulled the sliding door open with a clack. She looked back, startled. She could not possibly have failed to sense his presence, but perhaps she was really focusing hard on something.

Sitting on the tatami floor, she was holding the recorder he used for music class.

"B-Brat, do not misunderstand! I am simply very bored, trying to find something amusing, so I chanced upon hither room and discovered this thng. I am not interested, well... Ultimately, 'tis because I have never seen this type of flute before!"

"Don't go entering other people's rooms without asking. Anyway, never mind."

She looked a little red in the cheeks. Turning her face away, she handed the recorder to him. Only glancing sideways at him, she said:

"However, brat, since thou left this on the desk, it implieth that thou intendest to practice next?"

"Yeah, there's a test tomorrow."

"Then play it Practice is very important. I shall watch thee practice, how now?"

"Oh—You want to know how it's played?"

"C-Certainly not! 'Tis out of my perfect consideration, to prevent thee from failing in front of others, wanting thee to feel used to an audience's gaze, nothing more... Very well, first demonstrate which finger presses where!"

"Jeez. I'm still not very good at playing this, you know?"

After taking the recorder, he suddenly realized in surprise now.

The recorder's mouthpiece. Just now, she had placed the recorder's mouthpiece between her lips. It felt a little moist somehow. As soon as he became aware of this, his heart suddenly pounded hard uncontrollably.

(This... Wouldn't this be what they call... an indirect—)

"How now?"

"N-Nothing! Nothing at all!"

It would not count if he wiped it. Reset, reset. Indeed, there was absolutely no need to feel concerned or bothered—Thinking that to himself, he used his clothing to wipe the recorder nonchalantly then brough the mouthpiece to his lips. Under her gaze, he began to play the prescribed melody.

He found it difficult to get the beat right because his heart was still pounding very noisily.


Apparently out of certain considerations, his father had reminded her to avoid walking outside as much as possible. Hence, she essentially spent her time at home either eating or sleeping, frequently looking exceedingly bored. Although she seemed to enjoy period dramas shown on television, period dramas were not available twenty-four hours a day.

In the end, his daily task could also be said to be serving as her playmate to kill time. Or rather, toy might be more accurate.

There were many memories. While he was jumping rope, she watched from the veranda. Perhaps wanting to try it as well, she joined in the rope jumping soon after. But because the rope's length was meant for a child, she jumped very awkwardly. Even after he told her "too short, it's not gonna work," she still continued to jump angrily. She was able to make bamboo-copters with a single finger. When looking up towards the rotor spinning in the sky, her eyes looked like they were staring far off into the distance. Apart from that, there were many many memories to reminisce about.

Indeed. From his perspective, she was definitely not an existence of legend.

Although when she first arrived at his home, she was merely an ordinary stranger.

But before he knew it, she had become simply a certain person who existed there.

Like his father, she had become a certain person in his home without any sense of dissonance.

In other words, inside his heart, she was simply—

Part 5[edit]

After returning to her own home, Kirika collapsed on the sofa.

Her chest felt painful as though someone was constricting her tightly. Still lying on the sofa, she removed her clothing, entering a state which she considered fully nude, but the constricting feeling did not go away at all. This applied in two separate senses.

There was the scene she had witnessed at Lilyhowell's lair earlier. She recalled how his face smiled while he was recounting Konoha's past. No, starting from that point, she was already unable to dispel the image from her mind. This matter was constricting her chest tightly in a manner that even a cursed bondage suit could not compare.

Those bonds were too powerful. Seeing him reminisce with that kind of look on his face, she could not help but come to this conclusion.

(That's right... Past memories are very powerful. A weight built up and protected by the long passage of time, impossible to topple overnight. I'm so jealous...)

However—A certain person was murmuring quietly in the bottom of her heart. Both ugly and irritating, the one whispering was her other self that she absolutely refused to acknowledge.

But Konoha was no longer here. He was simply using past memories to forcibly fill in the void left behind by what was lost.

That void. If he truly lost things for real, a massive hole would result there, right?

Forced to admit the weight of reminiscences, it also implied the greatness of the void resulting after loss. Taking advantage of this void would be exceedingly simple...

(Shut up.)

You don't have any shared memories built up over many years. Impossible to oppose her at all. Seizing the the void after Konoha's disappearance, surely this was the only and guaranteed method—

"—Shut up!"

She suddenly glared with her eyes widened and used her entire body's strength to hammer the table next to the sofa, hammering so hard that she was almost breaking the bones in her hand. Of course, her bones did break in actual fact. Acute pain was transmitted from her fist, the numbing kind akin to experiencing an electrical current. She was the one feeling this pain. Absolutely not the depraved villain lurking in the thick and filthy mud in the depths of her heart. Hence, relying on this pain, Kirika awakened her thoughts.

Then she expressed agreement.

I know. You have a point.

Suppose there really existed a means for her to win, it could only happen by seizing the void left behind by her rival. Only by seizing the advantageous position generated by that void after her rival dropped out. This was the realistic method with the highest chances of victory—

(That's right. So realistic it's absolutely ridiculous...)

But precisely because of that, she could not choose such means.

Slowly getting up, Kirika sat up properly on the sofa this time. Her pale white body. The black bondage suit covering it. The bones sticking out in sight because of the fracturing impacts. The injured and bleeding fist. Simply by resting the fist on her thigh and staring at it, she could see it healing slowly. What a repulsive scene.

However, thanks to this scene, she was able to seriously recall the forgotten truth after so long.

Both matter-of-fact and important, it was the truth that absolutely must not be glossed over.

(This is myself.)

No matter how repulsive, this was still the greatest component of her being. Question: What kind of existence is Ueno Kirika? Answer: This kind of existence. What else could be said?

Having remembered this fact, she ought to go further and recall another.

She had confessed her feelings to him only because she intended to squarely confront the curse enveloping her, to confront her cursed destiny.

Having prepared herself for absolute defeat—Even if defeated, she firmly believed that this defeat would be precisely the refreshing result to seal away her cursed way of life.

Dreaming of a legitimate victory's possibility—She firmly believed this was what truly held value.

Hence she had confessed.

But this was not the current situation. It was equivalent to facing the back of a challenge she ought to confront head on. Could she simply stab the enemy in the back and survive in shame?

"The answer... is obvious, right...?"

Murmuring softly like this, Kirika clenched the fist that was squirming and recovering in a disgusting manner.

That would be stealing. The devil's whispers, disrespecting and wasting her initial resolve. Although it seemed quite attractive for the moment, she would eventually feel unable to forgive herself. The feelings of despise for her cursed self were probably never going to disappear.

She had forgotten something important.

After confessing, because she had not been rejected immediately, the illusion of hope had sprung up. Her eyes were mesmerized by the treasure that seemed even easier to reach than imagined. Like a despicable thief.

"But... I am not a thief."

She wanted to become a warrior, someone who could take defeat in stride while holding her head high. Not a cowardly victor. She had forgotten this fact.

Turning her gaze to the fist that had recovered its original form, Kirika stood up from the sofa. Ignoring the clothing she had casually thrown off the sofa, she went to the changing area directly.

In order to infuse vitality into her listless brain, she washed her face with cold water. As though beating herself up, she washed many times.

"Phew..."

She looked up. Before her eyes were her thoroughly wet bangs and face, the weird bondage suit on her body, the cursed acts of perversion she could not escape, the Ueno Kirika who deeply loved the boy named Yachi Haruaki. In other words, herself.

In the end—She discovered it. Kirika grinned at the mirror.

"...My confession has not ended yet. Until that guy gives me an answer, it's still in progress..."

Hence, in order to obtain his reply, everything necessary to undertake...

In other words, the matter of retrieving the girl named Konoha—

Surely, all of it counted as part of her confession.

Without doing that, her confession to him would not be complete.

"...How troubling, I really am an incurable masochist."

I knew it long ago, although it's truly absolutely ridiculous—Herself in the mirror was also smiling wryly.


Hence, the next day at Lilyhowell's lair—

Having remembered already, in order to complete her confession, she could only devote her mind and body fully to doing everything within her ability.

"Yachi, I have decided. Konoha-kun must be rescued no matter what. Uh, if I put it this way, you might think that I haven't been serious in wanting to save her until now, but it's not like that. Let me think—In other words, my level of seriousness increased. I guess I should say that I've come to a realization about the situation and also seen clearly what I ought to do..."

Despite showing a slightly lost and confused look on his face, Haruaki still answered:

"Well—Yes, thank you, Class Rep. I really appreciate it."

"I've already decided that I'm willing to do anything so long as it's within my ability. I'm willing to do anything... So..."

Kirika turned herself to face Lilyhowell squarely.

"If it could increase the power of your Wathes, thereby slightly raising this battle plan's chances of success, I intend to assist you."

"Meaning?"

"I remember there's one called the slaughtering blade «My Bloody Valentine»? The tool you were planning to use on that couple. Just by chopping human flesh, the blade becames sharper, right?"

"Hold on, Class Rep, you're...!"

Haruaki and the others entered a commotion. Kirika held up her palm towards them to stop them from speaking.

Certain things could only be done by someone like her whose wounds would heal. Perhaps he might say "there's no need to go that far," but she believed that it was insufficient compensation unless she did this at least. Compensation for what she had been harboring subconsciously in her heart until now, the most despicable and worst hesitation.

Lilyhowell and her continued to stare at each other intently.

"The plan's main focus has shifted towards Yachi Haruaki and the «Poison Ritter». Apart from that, one, «My Bloody Valentine» is not related to any particular legend but was simply owned by a homicidal medieval merchant. Two, meanwhile, in contrast, Wathes such as Muramasa and Kotetsu are extremely high-level. No matter how much «My Bloody Valentine»'s sharpness is augmented, it will never be able to slice through Muramasa or Kotetsu's blade, most likely."

"But it is probably not meaningless."

"..."'

Lilyhowell exhaled as though in exasperation. At the same time, she could be seen closing her eyes. Kirika also closed her eyes as well. She could imagine what was about to happen. Next, Kirika opened her eyes after a breath—

"Guh!"

Severed at the wrist, her left hand fell on the floor. Although she had already prepared herself, she still knelt down on the spot from pain. Standing next to her, Lilyhowell spoke while re-sheathing the slaughtering blade she had just swung:

"Before coming here, I had already strengthened this blade to a certain level. With this, it is probably strengthened to its limit. Even if I wanted to strengthen the curse-granted abilities of the «Calamitous Sword of Sigarsholm», none of you will feel terror. Hence, as it stands currently, you have already exhausted everything in your ability to strengthen the power of the Wathes in my possession."

"Is... that so...?"

"Kirika! Lilyhowell, you bitch! Even if Kirika requested it herself...!"

"It's okay, Fear-kun. This is how things should be. Fufu, looks like I'm overflowing with motivation..."

"Kirika...?"

Kirika smiled while breaking out in cold sweat as a biological reaction. Fear gazed down at her with puzzled eyes as though looking at something incomprehensible. Kirika believed this could not be helped either. This resolve, this self-imposed punishment relying on Lilyhowell, it was enough for her to endure it alone.

"Class Rep..."

"Yachi, don't say anything. I did this willingly. I have my own circumstances too."

"Okay... I don't quite get it, but... Anyway, Kuroe, I'm counting on you."

"Yeah, then I'll use a skill similar to repeated casting of auto-healing magic so you can rest assured during every round."

Kirika picked up her left hand and connected the severed wrist. Using hair that had the ability to increase healing, Kuroe wrapped up Kirika's left arm. Just by waiting quietly for a while, it was going to reattach successfully.

"Kuroe-kun, after my hand heals, let's think seriously together how to cooperate and restrain enemies. Practicing with a goal should probably work better than doing our own thing separately."

Kuroe widened her eyes slightly and said:

"What astonishing motivation, it's like you're a totally different person from yesterday."

Part 6[edit]

Using the current weapon—a cursed saber—she chopped mercilessly without holding back. Almost caught by a tiger-clawed strike, she swiftly changed trajectories and attacked from a different angle—In the next second, the other tiger-clawed hand swung with a whoosh. After bending down to dodge it, she retreated.

This curly-haired girl... correction, boy. Behind him, the partner could be seen with ghostlights glowing, constantly changing her position in a bewildering manner, shooting at high speed persistently.

"«Polter»—«Geist»!"

"Haha, such amusing skills!"

Facing off as her partner's opponent, she was moving back and forth even faster than the partner, using agile movements to dodge all the attacks of the strengthened brooms, bricks and other objects flying from various directions. As though this was a game of evasion.

Attention must not be focused over there. Using the saber to block a tiger-clawed strike, she bided her time before attacking again. The opponent blocked while retreating, then for merely an instant, he brushed past her who was currently dodging the partner's projectiles, almost close enough to be standing back to back.

"Would you like to swap?"

"Excellent suggestion. I was getting bored."

As though reaching complete understanding with just this exchange, they turned around at the same time, suddenly changing the directions they were advancing and the rhythm of their movements, with perfect coordination, each running opposite to the direction they had been facing.

The boy who was originally fighting her used a tiger claw to strike down an incoming brick. Without dodging at all, he dashed straight towards the projectile's source. Originally in the process of shooting while jumping, her partner frantically took up a broom for melee combat, but was too slow. A vicious strike sent her falling to the ground together with the broom.

A figure resembling a running beast was attacking her. Unlike the previous confrontation, her current aura carried another level of sharpness and savagery. But she was not going to lose in speed. Thrusting the saber to intercept—

"Hmm, speed is quite fast, but the body's strength is lacking... Also, the cheap weapon is ultimately to blame."

"!"

Without using a particular move, simply using a sword's sharpness, the karate chop sliced through her saber's blade at its base. Frantically, she drew out the dagger she had prepared in her waist pouch, but it was too late. Despite barely dodging the spinning kick that followed, she was unable to block the axe kick that reached out immediately. Suffering a violent impact on her shoulder, she could not help falling over. The only reason she did not feel like she was cut by a sword was because the opponent was already convinced of victory. By the time she regained her senses, that woman was kneeling next to her face, running an index finger along her cheek, meanwhile making a slightly lewd expression and saying:

"Well then, adorable little lass, anything to say?"

She turned her head slightly to see that on the other side, her partner's arms were pinned down firmly by the sides of her head, held to the ground by the curly-haired boy who was sitting astride her. One could not tell from appearances alone, but considering the fact that they were of opposite gender, that kind of posture was not quite appropriate.

In any case—What she needed to say was that, naturally:

"S-Surrender."

"Very well, the match is over."

Hearing that from the person who had been observing the fight from the sidelines, she straightened her knees and stood up. Then bowing her head to look at her, still with a beast-like expression, she grinned and said:

"Hmm, for the purpose of killing time and exercising the body, the two of ye are very good opponents."

She had seen this woman before, yet she was also meeting her for the very first time.

Perhaps this could be considered a second defeat at her hands.

Sure enough, Satsuko was too weak and needed much more training—Ontenzaki Satsuko sighed deeply.

Part 7[edit]

Several days had already passed since the decision to join forces with Lilyhowell. Heading over to her lair each day at dawn, Haruaki practiced swinging the longsword while Kirika and Kuroe worked hard towards improving the level of their restraining techniques. Then they went home at sundown... This was repeated as a daily cycle. Preparations were carried out gradually without impediment.

However, Fear could not help but think—the preparations were forced to carry out.

She had a strong feeling that something important was being overlooked.

Rescuing Cow Tits—This reason was very legitimate. Working hard towards this was also a good thing. However, she still felt—Was their vision too narrow?

Sitting on the concrete floor, Fear glanced at her companions. Kirika and Kuroe were looking at the movements of each other's «Tragic Black River» and hair, saying things like "after this, that side needs to be reinforced." Until earlier, Fear had been practicing with them, serving as the restraint target, but later said "I'm a bit tired" and was now resting.

Fear did not quite know what Kuroe was thinking about. On the other hand, Kirika's vibe had changed completely several days earlier. Then there was that guy, who was stuck in tunnel vision from the start.

"Take that!"

"You are putting too much force in the swing. You need to make use of the sword's own weight."

"I know...!"

Haruaki was currently practicing swings using the white sword—called «Alius», right?—training how to deliver a blow to the enemy. Naturally, his training partner was Lilyhowell, who was currently blocking attacks using a metal pipe she had picked up.

Haruaki repeated the monotonous training again and again. Even when panting heavily, his shoulders heaving violently up and down, large sweat drops appearing on his forehead, he still kept staring ahead, spurring his arms and legs into action. Those eyes were definitely staring at a certain someone further ahead rather than Lilyhowell.

Haruaki charged forward. Acting as the target, Lilyhowell lightly lifted the tip of the metal pipe she was holding at a lower position. Colliding with Haruaki's sword—

(Ah!)

That alone was enough to make him lose balance and fall on the floor. Were his legs out of strength?

"...Rest first—"

"Not yet. This is nothing... And I think I finally get the trick. One more time!"

Interrupting Lilyhowell, Haruaki stood up again, raising his sword while staring vigorously. Soaked with sweat, his shirt was transparent. He was covered from head to foot by dirt from the abandoned site. Probably due to the fall just now, Fear could see scrapes near the elbow area. But of course, Haruaki was not going to let that bother him. Yelling out, he attacked Lilyhowell again. As though saying "no other choice," she blocked the incoming sword—

(That great big idiot...)

This was probably beyond tunnel vision now. Judging from his condition, it was blind faith and fanatic zeal.

Haruaki was thoroughly possessed by the goal of rescuing Konoha.

(Damn it. This is very dangerous...)

The danger was not limited to right now. He intended to stand on the battlefield in his current state. Swinging a long sword in real life, engaging in a deathmatch with the enemy in order to save Konoha.

Was Haruaki going to say this on the battlefield as well? Staring ahead, saying "this is nothing."

Even with an arm chopped off, a leg chopped off, was he going to say "this is nothing"?

Imagining that scene, Fear could not help but shudder.

Had no one realized? No one thought about it? Was she the only one who felt a sense of realism in such imaginings?

Fear felt a kind of coldness wrap around her entire body. This was undoubtedly terror. And to alleviate this sense of terror, her only choice was to discern clearly the reason for it.

Hence, she stared intently. She admitted the possibility of what lay deep in her heart.

—At this rate, Haruaki could lose his life.

She believed that the chances of it not happening were higher. Besides, this was something that was absolutely forbidden to happen, but it was undeniable that Haruaki dying would be the a possible worst case scenario. Even a god would be unable to deny it.

This sort of thing was absolutely forbidden from happening. Fear realized.

Just as Haruaki wanted to save Konoha, just as Lilyhowell wanted to avenge her comrades—in her own heart, it was fine as long as she could do that. The resolve willing to do this no matter what—This was the absolute goal of hers.

(Then... What should I do...?)

If she was willing to do anything...

Then for that absolute goal, what was the best coures of action she was supposed to follow, what was it—?


On the way home at night, Kirika suddenly found Fear pulling her at her sleeve. Seeing Fear slow down, she did the same to accommodate her. Without noticing them, Haruaki and Kuroe were walking not far ahead.

"...Kirika, I've something to ask you."

"What is it?"

Fear's voice was almost a whisper, probably because she did not want the two people ahead to overhear. Hence, Kirika answered quietly as well. Still facing forward, Fear's expression could not be seen clearly, obscured by the hair on the sides of her face.

"Kirika, why—are you helping Haruaki?"

"You're asking me why...? To rescue Konoha-kun. Isn't that obvious?"

"I understand that. But I don't get why you're willing to go so far as to get cut up for that girl and participating actively."

I guess I'll answer honestly, Kirika thought.

"I have my own reasons. Because there's a question that won't get a proper answer unless Konoha-kun is present. If she doesn't return, I'll feel very troubled."

The proper answer. The answer she wanted to know—The unknown that needed to be elucidated? How troubling. Truly absolutely ridiculous.

"That's why you're trying your hardest to help Haruaki?"

"Yes, because the goals we must achieve are aligned."

She could hear Fear slowly inhale. Then she spoke very calmly:

"—You don't care even if Haruaki will kill someone?"

Kirika almost stopped walking. However, this was something she already considered a long time ago. It was also something that Lilyhowell had not mentioned. It was a possible result on the road towards getting Konoha back.

"Even if that poison sword has that kind of effect..."

Pausing for a moment, Kirika continued:

"Yachi won't kill her... We are the ones doing it."

"That's just sophistry."

"Perhaps."

Kirika admitted honestly then noticed that Fear was no longer by her side. She looked back—

"That's also one way of thinking about it. But even so, it's still different from my view."

Fear halted. With her head bowed slightly, her expression was still obscured behind her hair.

Then even more quietly than before, her lips simply murmured.

"It never comes as a surprise when those who kill ended up getting killed, no matter when it happens. That's the truth of the world... It needs resolve... that perhaps... counts as a kind of curse. By the way, that guy shouldn't be standing in that kind of position in the first place..."

"Fear-kun...?"

Kirika also stopped. Just as she wanted to approach Fear, Fear suddenly raised her hand to stop her. Then Fear looked up. At the same time, the two people ahead also seemed to notice them and looked back to ask:

"Ficchi, what's the matter?"

Fear answered in a normal voice:

"I just remembered that we're out of rice crackers. I'll drop by the supermarket along the way to restock rice crackers before going home. Is there anything else you want me to buy?"

"Oh, then could you buy some eggs and milk? Say, why I don't I go with you?"

"Dummy~ You're already exhausted, right? Hurry up and get home for a bath. See you later!"

Fear waved her hand forcefully then turned around and ran.

The only one tilting her head in puzzlement was Kirika who had been talking to her earlier. Haruaki and Kuroe completely failed to notice the unusual way Fear had been acting all this time.

Because when Fear looked up, the expression on her face showed—

As though all darkness had been swept aside, an incredibly dream-like smile filled with transparency.

Part 8[edit]

"...Ha~! Fufu, having sake under the moon, 'tis delicious!"

"I agree. This is what could be called refinement... Hmm."

"Oh, so master can drink too. Indeed, warriors ought to drink with capacities akin to rivers and seas. 'Twould would be utterly shameful if a general could not hold his liquor."

"If I had to add to that—Alcohol is also a type of drug."

"Hmm. Curses with those conditions also exist?"

Regardless, there was no problem as long as the sake tasted good—She tilted the sake cup to drink. Floating on the water surface in front of her was a tray carrying a flask of sake. However, this was not a hot spring. Instead of a therapeutic hot spring, their bodies were simply immersed in ordinary warm water. Rather than rocks arranged to form a pool, their backs were leaning against a soft, inflatable object filled with air.

Currently, Muramasa and Nirushaaki were having a dip in a large plastic swimming pool in the garden.

"Although this is like a bath and not actually a hot spring, it still has that kind of feel to it. This feels very comfortable too. Despite being a moment's whim, the preparations were not wasted at all. Hahaha!"

"But Kotetsu is apparently quite opposed to it."

"Because he cares too much about common sense in strange areas."

She recalled how Kotetsu reluctantly gone off to buy sake and this plastic swimming pool, meanwhile grumbling: "Warriors bathing together is too improper, I must decline firmly, forgive my inability to assist... But if it is in the form of dabbling in water, it would be barely acceptable..." Finding the sake flask empty, she waved the flask and yelled:

"Hey~ Kotetsu~ The sake is out. Prepare another flask then hurry thyself over too."

"Ugh... Why must I dress in this manner..."

Carrying a tray with the refilled flask, Kotetsu walked out of the mansion awkwardly—He was wearing a white swimsuit, fairly tight-fitting and what was commonly dubbed the "school swimsuit."

"Didst thou not say? Were it dabbling in the water in the style of sake drinking in a hot spring under the moon, thou art willing to pour sake or do other tasks. A man's word ought to be kept, yes?"

"I did—say that. Uh, but this look..."

Kotetsu held the tray slightly further down, speaking while furtively hiding his lower body. Squeezing his knees together, he was rubbing his thighs awkwardly in embarrassment.

"And while dabbling in the water, things called swimsuits must be worn? I was feeling apologetic about asking thee to serve on thy own, hence I bought this swimsuit after carefully selecting. Thou art definitely wearing it, very good, very good."

At this moment, Kotetsu suddenly stared wide-eyed, blushing with red cheeks, probably because he noticed the situation.

"Ah! M-Muramasa-sama, why have you taken off your swimsuit!? I am only assisting this dabbling in the water because you are also wearing a swimsuit, Muramasa-sama—"

"Due to excessive motion, it fell off on its own accord. See, there it lieth on the bottom. 'Tis not because wearing this thing doth not improve the mood for sake drinking under the moon."

Picking up the triangular piece of fabric with her foot, she raised it up deliberately to show Kotetsu. Kotetsu's face went even more fiery red. Thinking that a skimpier swimsuit would feel more like having a bath, she had chosen one with an extremely small area in fabric—A swimsuit called the bikini? But ultimately, it lost to the temptation of not wearing any.

"By the way, why are you doing the same, Nirushaaki-sama!?"

"I am definitely wearing it down there."

"Please wear the top as well!"

Nirushaaki was calmly finishing off the remaining sake in her cup. She also believed that Kotetsu was being too uptight.

"What a nagging fellow... Okay, bring the sake over."

"Yes. But truth be told, I am a man. Under such conditions, I am truly unable to assist the two of you any further. For the remaining sake, please take care of it yourself..."

Muramasa turned to the side and took the tray from Kotetsu as he declared. However, she did not set down the tray to float on the water. Kotetsu did not seem concerned about this—thus indicating his slight lack of attention.

"Haha, that is such a small-minded thing to say! Since thou darest to oppose me, thou must be punished—!"

"H-Hyaehhhhhh!"

C3 14-213.jpg

Holding the tray in one hand, she used her other hand to grab Kotetsu's arm, dragging him forcibly into the pool. Splash! A massive spray of water everywhere. The warm water in the cramped pool instantly became turbulent. Probably expecting this scene already, Nirushaaki calmly picked up the new sake flask from the tray Muramasa was holding and poured sake into her cup. Truly composed at all times, the way as befitted the master.

"Hwap! Munyuu... M-Muramasa-sama?"

"Now now, stay still. This pool is very small."

Finally managing to escape from her bosom, Kotetsu slipped and took a great fall.

"In that case, you shouldn't have pulled me in... Muffle!"

"Kotetsu, even if you intend to speak to my bosom, I cannot hear anything at all."

"On this rare occasion, 'tis mine intention of benevolence that wisheth to let thee enjoy the taste of sake under the moon... Dost thou intend to trample over mine intentions of benevolence? Hmm?"

"Th-That... Umm—A-Anyway, please... put on your swimsuits first! At this rate... truth be told... I..."

"How stubborn. Then it cannot be helped, thou shalt help me put it on. Because mine arms are occupied in holding the sake and the tray. Come, I am counting on thee."

Once again, she picked up her swimsuit with her toes and raised it above the water. With his face as red as boiled shrimp, Kotetsu frantically shook his head. Nirushaaki looked up at the moon on her own while drinking Japanese sake—


Existing right there, visible right there, was a scene that looked quite delightful.

Neither causing any trouble for others...

Nor harming anyone.

For them, this was truly a delightful "everyday" scene.

—However, in spite of that, nevertheless...


"That's... fake."


Sensing the trio in the pool narrow their eyes suddenly to look over in her direction...

Fear silently emerged from the darkness, all alone by herself.

Part 9[edit]

Kotetsu quietly made his way out of the swimming pool. Reaching out to the side, ignoring her wet body, Nirushaaki put on the American Indian shirt. Still soaked in the water, Konoha licked a sip of sake in her cup with amusement.

"All alone by thyself, what art thou doing?"

"Haruaki—He looks like he's suffering a lot."

Fear took a step forward.

Recalling the way he looked until just earlier, she answered.

"That guy's been looking forward single-mindedly. Painfully, with suffering, but he's virtually ignoring all of it. On the other hand... You're looking really happy. Forgotten everything, you look really happy."

They did not give any response, simply staring at her. Warily, unemotionally, as though watching a good show.

"Hmm, why is that? Clearly these two matters... have nothing to do with me."

Fear took out her Rubik's cube and gripped it hard.

"But watching from the side... it's very painful for me."

Looking up, she gazed ahead.

"I don't understand why, but it's really painful!"

Then she sprinted.

She transformed the Rubik's cube to become her emulated form. An ugly hatchet of execution.

There were no thoughts in her mind about movements or targets at all. She simply sprinted madly. Sprinting, sprinting, sprinting, sprinting, she then did what she was supposed to do. Her body knew what this was. Hence there was no need to think.

Causing splashes, Konoha jumped up from the pool. Water droplets glistened and sparkled. Because she was excessively conspicuous, Fear's body naturally deemed her as the target on its own. Fear swung the hatchet with full force. Blocked. She could see Kotetsu transforming into a sword, held in Nirushaaki's hand. Rather than strange mask, Nirushaaki was still wearing glasses, but was dressed in that shirt. So what? After being blocked, Fear changed directions immediately and attacked Nirushaaki, clashing with Kotetsu's heavy blade. Instantly, she was kicked flying from behind by someone. Her flank felt intense pain. Was she cut?

"Damn it, accursed... Cow Tits..."

"Thou still insistest on addressing me in that fashion?"

Fear stood up, sprinted, then knocked down, stood up again—This kept repeating. At the same time, staring intently at her, Fear wondered:

By the way... What exactly is this girl to me?

In her own heart, how did she view this existence known as Muramasa Konoha?

The girl who already existed when she first moved into the Yachi home. A girl quite intimate with Haruaki. A girl who liked meat. An eyesore of a physique. Totally incompatible. An annoying presence. Very nagging. Quite meddlesome sometimes. Glasses. Her senior in that home? A classmate at school. A cursed sword. Something that had killed countless humans to this date, just like her.

Ahhh, I don't get it. Is she an enemy? Or a friend?

With her around, what will happen to me?

If she were not around, then what—?

"..."

For who knew how many seconds, minutes or even dozens of minutes, Fear kept mulling over this same matter.

In other words, one against three—She allowed her body to move nonstop on its own, fighting persistently.

By the time she regained her senses, she found her view to be showing the same image as initially. Namely, the face of the one who had forgotten her.

But apart from that, only the background had changed.

Behind Konoha's head which was bowing to gaze down at her—

The beautiful moon was clear and bright.

Without realizing it, she was already collapsed on the ground, looking up at the sky.

Like a certain previous time, Konoha was stepping on her arms, still maintaining a posture that would allow her to chop Fear into two any time she wanted. Right in front of Fear's eyes was also her knifehand. Likewise, that knifehand could at any time put an end to the movements of someone insignificant like her.

Konoha grumbled in a slightly aghast voice:

"What art thou thinking? Clearly thou knowest thou cannot prevail against the three of us."

"...I know, right?"

Fear admitted with a strangely straightforward mood.

Because she—definitely...

Wanted very much to end all this immediately.

To an unbearable extent. To the point where she did not want anything apart from that.

Anything was fine. Any kind of ending did not matter. Anyway, she just wanted an end to all this.

With that—At least she would no longer need to see Haruaki stepping onto the battlefield.

But this body that was moving on its own, what exactly was it seeking? What did it want to do?

It wanted to kill Nirushaaki? It wanted to kill Kotetsu? Or—

But there was no meaning in pondering these matters further.

"Hmm, whatever I have tired of playing with thee. If thou comest again alone by thyself again, 'twould be nothing more than an affront to the eyes... 'Tis time to conclude, yes?"

Without needing to look, Fear knew what was going to happen next. As the knifehand descended swiftly and fluently, Fear lightly closed her eyes.

To think she would be killed by Cow Tits, what a strange feeling, she thought.


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