Maou na Ore to Fushihime no Yubiwa:Volume 1 Chapter 6
Chapter 6: The time of the final battle
After thirty minutes of flight, we managed to ascertain Iris's whereabouts.
As aerial transportation had the advantage of not being caught up in hindrances such as traffic lights or congestions, our actual velocity went up.
"This is Yokohama's harbor..."
In the harbor's scenery seen from the sky, there weren't any signs of life among the rows of large warehouses.
I see, this is the most suitable place to hide somebody.
"Chiharu, where does the thread connect to?"
The thread seemed to be connected to one of the biggest of the warehouses.
"Well then, we're landing!"
Kyouko slowly lost altitude. I realized that her flying skills have improved remarkably in this short time. Frankly, we almost died at the start.
Immediately after Kyouko's feet reached the ground Zonmi and I jumped from her back.
"Fiuuu, like I thought, the ground is the best."
The trip through the sky was good, but also too thrilling. I didn't feel safe.
"Isn't it!? Isn't it!?"
"Why do you look so happy?" retorted Kyouko in shock to Zonmi, who was smiling from ear to ear.
"Good, then, shall we go?"
"Be careful, please. There are signs of monsters in the vicinity."
I braced myself once again.
I'll reiterate, our opponents are the atrocious tamers that exterminated Iris's clan. From here on, a little mistake could cost us our lives.
"Wa-wait! Don't go yet. I'm putting on my clothes!"
Looking back in confusion, Kyouko was in the middle of changing. She had changed shapes from Nephilim to human.
"Eh, why have you changed back?"
"... Don't look here."
Though I was already tired from seeing Kyouko's panties.
"At your limit, already?... You couldn't keep your transformation more than that."
"Is that it?..."
This could be a little bad.
If Kyouko couldn't participate in the battle, Zonmi was our last ray of hope. Though we didn't know the extent of the true power of our enemy, won't it be quite the unforgiving battle?...
"Chiharu, let's go... Don't worry, since I won't lose."
As if reading my thoughts, Zonmi muttered reassuringly.
So it's like that. That's what I have to do when I grow weak-hearted.
After reaching this point, we can only fight at full power!...
"Chiharu! Behind you!"
"Good grief. Speak of the devil!"
A geyser of water sprayed with vigor.
Turning around in a rush, what appeared from the sea — was a giant squid monster.
The threatening squid monster was emitting a jet-black aura.
"Wha? I mean, haven't I see this guy somewhere..."
I had an intense recollection of this monster.
"It's a kraken of the sea beast tribe... I dare say it's the same individual we saw some time ago on television."
So it was that. It's the guy who was broadcasted on the TV news the day I met Zonmi.
I see. I remember that the place they showed then was Yokohama.
But wait a minute, wasn't the squid monster from back then killed by a monster that came around? What is this guy doing in this place?
"Look, the black magic power that wraps this child... It's under 'Enforce'!"
"Wait, what's 'Enforce'?"
"By means of an item illegally manufactured by people with ill will — the 'Enforce Ring', they bring the monster to a state of forced submission."
"There's such an item...!?"
"Yeah. Different from the normal 'Contract Ring', this is the most illegal of illegal things. Put under one-sided command, the monster loses its freedom."
I think I understand.
While on a normal contract the monster stands as an equal, under 'Enforce' it's treated as nothing more than a slave.
And, the next instant.
The squid tentacles that bent like whips grasped us three tightly.
Looking closely, the squid's overall length reached twenty meters — huge to a bizarre level. It's beyond comparison to the greatest of the monsters I've met till now.
Or, how should I put it, this situation... is quite bad.
Is it OK that we were so easily caught!?
And in contrast to my panicking, those two's facial expressions were still composed.
A premonition rose through my mind like a cork submerged in water... Could these two have been caught on purpose?
With movements too fast for my eyes to follow, those two tore the squid's tentacles to pieces.
"... Good grief, what reliable fellows."
If I tried to do the same thing, I'd have been powerless before the squid's slippery tentacles.
"Until when will you remain carelessly caught!?"
Zonmi's umbrella cut up the air.
Slash. The tentacle that restrained me was splendidly cut in two.
"Chiharu, please get down!"
Once my feet reached ground, keeping my distance, I watched over those two's appearances...
Let's cool our heads. Right in front of me there are those two's enticing legs. A glimpse of that is the very best.
And in these circumstances, it seems this squid rascal is no match against Zonmi and Kyouko.
It seems like my thoughts were too naive.
The enemy was not that weak. It had an astounding restoration ability. The torn up tentacles regrew immediately, and that in merely seconds. Its restoration ability is of a very high level.
"... What should I say to this!?"
To the panicking me, Zonmi said with indifference.
"This is no more than an hypothesis, but... I dare say the tentacles are but a decoy. Any time you cut them, they are regrown with magical power. And, in fact, you can't get close to the real body without facing the tentacles before."
"That's... In that case, what the heck do we do?"
Anyhow, the squid has ten tentacles.
We number three — no matter how I think of it, I don't feel we can get next to the main body.
"It can't be helped. Leave this to me."
The one who said that was Kyouko.
"What the heck will you do?"
"If I throw all the surroundings at it, even this guy will eventually be exhausted. Luckily, there's no lack of things to throw inside these warehouses. Perhaps, my defeating this guy will we worthless."
"But, Nephilim, will you be OK? Isn't your magic power almost depleted?"
"Don't worry. Rather than that, to the me right now, I think this guy alone will be no match... Even though it's vexing, I'll take care of this guy here that's releasing this awfully unpleasant magic power... Ghoul. I leave it to you."
"If I come back and you're collapsed after exhausting all your magic power... Please spare me that outcome. Since we haven't yet settled our dispute."
"Ha, ha, that's my line!"
Contrasting with the cynicism mixed into their conversation, they did a high five with refreshing expressions.
By some kind of female bonding, it seems they have awakened to a strange camaraderie.
"Let's go, Chiharu, our foe is very near."
Feeling gratitude towards Kyouko, we left that place behind.
There was more darkness than expected inside the warehouse, it doesn't seem like there are many people.
There were containers loaded with miscellaneous cargo lined up. They were probably varied articles scheduled to be exported overseas.
When I looked from the sky, the thread surely reached inside here.
There's no mistake... Iris should be very close to here.
We should proceed to the interior with caution.
"Ahaha. How unusual to have guests here."
As we thought we heard a man's voice, suddenly the lighting installed on the ceiling illuminated a nearby position.
We unintentionally squinted our eyes. Who the heck is the one who did this... And.
Hands and feet bound by thick ropes, Iris tied to a pillar entered our field of vision.
Dishevelled golden hair. Bare skin covered with injuries.
Her face, lacking the ambition of before, looked pale.
"Foolish one... Why art thou here..."
Judging from her hoarse tone of voice, she seemed to be quite weakened.
"How weird~. As the Kraken should have been standing watch, how can you people be here?"
It was an unpleasant voice.
Standing right beside Iris was a man with long hair.
Clad in a black suit from head to toe.
The arrangement of his features was uncanny, but his very long bangs gave the feeling of an annoying narcissist. His age, maybe in his early twenties? Saying it straightforwardly, he was an extremely disgusting man.
"I've been wondering for some time... Why do you do these mean things? Do you understand how grave a crime a contract that disregards the free will of the monster is? If it gets leaked to the IMA, it won't end well."
As Zonmi spoke with an emphatic tone, the man showed a composed smile.
"What a problem~. Since I don't feel like letting you escape from under my nose. That aside, I want to have a chat with that tamer there."
Shaken by the sudden change of topic, I was left without words.
"You should be a 7th generation rookie. You got to choose a red dragon. Amazing, the best! I now understand what the boss said! What outstanding talent do you have!?"
"Wait, what the heck are you saying?"
"Don't you know? ... I'm honestly praising you. When a monster tamer gets selected, the three initial monsters to choose from are assigned according to their individual aptitude. For a monster of the red dragon class, an apt person doesn't appear even once in a generation."
"... I don't care, I'm not glad to be praised by you! What do you want to say?"
"Fu, fu, such cold words. You — will also become a tamer of this side."
What did this guy blurt out of nowhere.
"Ha, ha, I'm astonished. Me becoming the colleague of a criminal?"
"Aah, in that case, you can do me a favor and sell me the blood of this chick. To make my monsters even more powerful. Unfortunately, the battle before against the damned dragon was consuming, but I still have more stock of 'Enforce' arranged. How do you think, is it a bad offer?"
"Don't mess with me! I won't consent to what you say, you fool!"
It's obvious that doing that won't benefit me in the least.
Thereupon, the man's face distorted,
"From my point of view, you are hopeless fools...
Being a tamer from the 6th generation, among my peers I'm the one with the fastest success in life — and saying that, it won't hurt you to hear what your senior says.
Believe it or not, like you lot now, I too was once a foolish tamer that performed his duty diligently. So, until you know the inevitability of destiny..."
"... What the heck do you mean by that?"
"You, have you thought about the end of the world?"
The man switched to a serious tone,
"As we are now, humanity will meet its unavoidable destruction. By the hands of the large number of monsters that inundate us from the Netherworld."
This guy... What's he saying...
When I looked at Zonmi, for some reason she was chewing her lip and her body was trembling.
"She doesn't look like she knows nothing. Monsters have longer lifespans than humans and are more fertile. Because of that, their numbers suffer an explosive increment each year.
If it's like that, they end up having not enough food supplies nor land. If we restricted the traffic on the Gate that connects the Underworld with the human world, there will be an incessant increase of revolts. The cause would be a chronic deficiency of food supply.
Because of the current laws on coming to the human world from the Netherworld, a strict check from the Government is a must. However, that system approaches failure.
Once that happens, humanity will be slaughtered by swarms of monsters."
"And yet, the current IMA doesn't care about it. Who will mediate between monsters and humans?
... Hah, that was something from the past. To kill or to be killed — humanitywe can do nothing more!
Right now we are a minority, but those like us that hold dissatisfaction with the current system are steadily increasing.
That's why, by suppressing the monsters, we will build a new order to put them under humanity's total control!
And once we change the laws, we will be in the right!"
"... Is what this guy is saying true?"
With her lips tightly pursed, Zonmi,
"Yeah, surely what he said is something I can't deny... I won't say anything. What Chiharu ought to do? — that, decide it by yourself."
I wonder what should I do.
What do I want to do?
I came here wanting to save Iris from her trouble.
These evil tamers that slaughtered Iris's clan were unforgivable.
Surely, right now I can't make the proper judgement.
These guys, following their ideas murdered Iris's clan.
Different means, same objective — monster tamers are allies of humanity.
Killing monsters is bad... Have I, who eats meat of cows and pigs, the qualification to say that?
I don't understand, just about anything.
How much the development of an advanced civilization equals the start of a war, isn't that an eternal question rooted in personal values?
No matter how long you think about it, I feel the answer will still be out of reach.
Zonmi's dignified voice.
"I won't blame you no matter what you choose. Since from the beginning I came here entrusting my life to you... However, that's not the same as putting my life in the hands of that man. In the case you take that man's side, please pierce my heart right here."
Pointing her umbrella at me, Zonmi said.
I felt as if those eyes pierced me. Zonmi was really serious.
It seems she seriously prefers being killed by me than by this guy.
"Don't mess with me! As if I could do that!..."
I see, so it's like that. What an easy thing. Since I can't...
I won't kill. I couldn't kill neither Zonmi, Kyouko or Iris.
In that case, I've decided.
From the start I couldn't show hostility towards monsters...
It may possibly only be lip service. Maybe it's a dream that cannot be realized.
But, why do I have to think about such difficult things?
In the end, that's the only objective I should aim for!
"Sorry about your invaluable suggestion, senpai. I can't agree with your ideas. Monsters... these girls are, to me, precious companions. If I can't understand, convince me until I can... After all, isn't that our job as Monster tamers?"
Astonished by my overly optimistic words, Zonmi revealed admiration in her voice.
"A~ah, even though I troubled myself trying to spare your life. You are a shocking idiot... In that case, as you wish, I'll beat you to death!"
"Senpai, I'm aware it will sound impolite... How slow, you hadn't noticed it before, you idiot!?"
"Keh, what shitty lines you spit!"
The man moved his ring to his mouth and shouted.
"SUMMON — MINOTAUROS."
And, the next instant.
A human-shaped ox-headed giant monster appeared.
This one too... It seems it's the same I saw before on the news.
Its height was at least on the order of ten meters, and it clearly gushed out aura. This one is stronger than the squid from before. The axe it held in its hand glittered under the lighting.
"Zonmi... Will you fight it?"
"Of course, I'll protect you even at the cost of my life."
Zonmi strongly nodded.
Aah, in the end, I keep being helped by her. Someday I will repay her with interest.
As if unable to keep watching us, the man's face distorted.
"Ha~ha~ha. What beautiful friendship... It makes me puke. You, don't you realize you've misplaced your priorities? What you should be protecting aren't monsters, but people, don't you understand something like that..."
"... Enough with the chattering. Come at me."
"Hah, I'd have done it even if you didn't say anything!"
The moment the man raised his voice, both of us kicked the ground.
In the vanguard, Zonmi. Without catching attention, Zonmi quickly jumped upon a container and like that flew through the air. She slashed at the Minotauros with ferocious speed.
Zonmi was strong.
That's something I understand better than others.
I dare say, battling on the ground no one can defeat her.
That's — what I thought.
Letting out a weird sound, it swung its axe downwards.
Something astonishing occurred. Though the slash wasn't a direct hit, with only the wind pressure, Zonmi's body was sent flying.
After being sent flying high, Zonmi crashed into the ground and coughed blood. Her beautiful silver hair was scattered on the ground.
The man showed a fearless smile.
"I didn't know you were so conceited, expecting to defeat a contracted monster with a stray monster. Are you dumb?"
That was something I was vaguely aware of.
The other monster was receiving a supply of magic power from his tamer. And we didn't have that. That's to say, a 2 vs. 1 situation. It wasn't a problem of real strength. Even an elementary schooler would realize that it was a clearly overwhelming disadvantage.
"... Please, don't make that face. I haven't lost yet."
Feeling my anxiety, muttered Zonmi as if admonishing me.
"So it's like that. As expected, to win while in this form was really asking for too much."
What the heck is she saying?
Zonmi, after showing a composed smile — turned into a monster.
A pale face. Murky eyes.
Hanging from its belly, something hard to describe that should not have been on a pretty girl.
Standing there was the transformed into a monster — Zonmi in ghoul form.
"Zonmi, that form..."
"I wanted to defeat him in human form if possible, though... It makes me nervous to show my bowels to a man..."
As usual, it's something I believe I don't understand well.
Hearing Zonmi's words, the man laughed loudly.
"Ha, ha, ha, ha! That was certainly unexpected. You were a ghoul!? Uwaaaaa, what a shock... Even though it looks like this, for a moment I thought you were a fine woman.
Ghouls are the most unpopular clan amongst monsters. Quite the selection he has made...
No, aren't you uncontracted since you weren't chosen? Gyah, ha, ha, ha, it makes me laugh."
"... Did you only want to say that? Girls don't like men that talk too much.
The man clasped his tongue,
"Sorry, but I'm very popular. Don't lump me with that virgin there!"
The footsteps of the Minotauros echoed along with the jeers of its master.
In contrast with its gigantic frame, its movements were absurdly agile.
Closing the distance with Zonmi in an instant, like a bull in a china shop — as if suiting that idiom, it rushed on putting its all into a tackle.
Zonmi reacted by blocking it with the umbrella — but, from the start, their physiques were too different.
Zonmi couldn't help but be slowly dragged down as her shoes wore away.
"Chiharu is... surely a perverted serial adulterer indecisive quick to run away useless man. But he didn't call me "disgusting". On the contrary, on our first meeting he lent me clothes... They were tattered, but I was happy. Since our clan has been persecuted a long time due to our looks."
Zonmi was recounting in detail as if reaffirming her decision.
"Hah, what was that!? A self-appointed death flag."
"Chiharu is a thousand times cooler than you!"
Following through with the umbrella by putting all her strength into both hands, Zonmi finally repelled the Minotauros's big frame.
*THUMP*, stopping once more the axe that was swung down, after that the other party couldn't pull off the same level of offense and defense.
They were on par... No, we were a little better.
Despite the axe's greater offensive power, Zonmi was unscathed, and her strikes were solid hits to her opponent. The transformed Zonmi's increased agility was more skillful than before. The decisive slashes aimed at the center of its legs and loins little by little dulled the Minotauros's speed.
I couldn't help but let out a word of admiration. Our relationship wasn't superficial. Even if we weren't contracted, the Zonmi that treated me as an equal was strong, and above all beautiful.
As if flustered by the unexpectedly hard battle, the man's features were shrouded in unrest.
Drawing a beautiful arc in midair by making half a turn, Zonmi thrust like that her umbrella into the eye of the Minotauros.
A satisfactory hit. "Groaaaar", letting out a shriek that seemed to shake the earth, the Minotauros rolled on the ground.
"... Hah. You are useless, having so much trouble against a stray. I'll cull you later."
"Next is your turn, even if I'm fighting a human, I won't hold back."
The man, being pointed at with the umbrella, scratched his head,
"A~ah, I didn't want to use it on this guy if possible, but... 'BOOST'!"
The instant he chanted that, the man's body emitted a pale light that flowed into the body of the Minotauros.
Thereupon, something unbelievable happened. The injured body healed in the blink of an eye, swelling — from the muscle covered Minotauros, white smoke was raising.
Even an amateur like me could understand what had happened — the man had bestowed magic power onto the Minotauros.
The blow the Minotauros tossed after standing up in a flash, contained a power incomparable to before receiving magic power.
She blocked the attack with the umbrella, but Zonmi's body was forcibly sent flying.
Crashing into a container, the lemons inside fell out.
"Look! This is the difference between having a contract or not! An overwhelming advantage impossible to overturn!"
I rushed with full speed to Zonmi's side.
*THUD, THUD, THUD!*
Earth-shaking crazy sounds. They were the Minotauros's footsteps.
The Minotauros rushed in pursuit before I could arrive.
"Hya, ha, ha, ha, ha! Good, end her♪"
At Zonmi who was defenseless right after taking that damage, slashing with that huge lump of iron,
Zonmi's body was turned into a pulp and scattered around.
The surrounding lemons were painted red with the splattered blood.
"Not yet! If you give them a rest, ghouls are a clan that excel in regeneration. Keep at it until its magic power runs out!"
Twice, thrice, four times, the giant axe kept falling intermittently without rest. Due to the next attack coming before managing to regenerate her body, recovery was impossible. Each time an attack came, Zonmi's death agony was heard.
"... Escape... Chiharu."
Zonmi frailly leaked those words.
"Moron! I can't do something like that!"
What's this fellow saying now that we've reached this point...
She wanted to harshly preach to me about resolution... And at the crucial moment she sacrificed herself. Is it to save me? What a damned fool!
"What are you doing... Hurry... Escape..."
"Stop joking! I definitely won't allow that!"
Putting my thoughts into words, Zonmi showed a faint smile.
"With that... Do you intend to shame me?... If I let my master die, what the heck will I do?... *Cough*"
As the axe was ruthlessly swung downwards, it resounded with a shriek like that of a smashed frog.
"Gya, ha, ha, ha, ha! Did you think I'd read the mood like in a manga, stupid!? And so ends a make-believe unbeatable friendship. Die without leaving behind any last words, you bastard!"
Instantly, I turned around and ran with all my might.
"... I see, that's fine."
"He, he, Seeeerves you right! The man leaves you behind and escapes! After all, your bonds only reached that extent! And you, don't think you can escape. Since I'll soon chase and kill you!"
Ignoring the man's words that hurt my ears, I dashed with all my might.
Of course, I wasn't abandoning Zonmi, hurt before my eyes, and escaping.
Just a slim possibility — I was betting everything on that.
While hidden by the shadow of containers, my goal was the place where Iris was held. Since luckily there was no one near Iris, I managed to reach her without the man noticing.
"Hey, Iris! You all right?!"
When she heard, Iris made a surprised face.
"Foolish one... Why hast thou come here? Thou shouldst be helping that ghoul woman."
"About that, we're in a pinch! Cooperate, Iris, we need your strength."
"... That I cannot do."
Iris feebly laughed,
"Canst not thou understand by seeing my state? Deplorably, I am not in a state to lend you my strength; I cannot even move one step from here. It seems that this annoying rope has the effect of absorbing magic power. Escaping is impossible."
"Heh, this thing..."
I bit into the ropes with vigor.
It seems that in order to bite off a thick thread the size of an ehoumaki will take quite a while.
"Say, art thou a fool?... As if this rope is a good that could be broken by something like a human..."
"Like this, it will come loose."
"I do not understand. How canst thou be so sure?"
"... It's due to family circumstances. My specialty is getting out of bindings. Don't underestimate my teeth, recently I even bit through the chain of a pair of handcuffs."
Good grief, I don't understand what's with this world. I didn't think the day would come that this skill was useful outside my house.
"... Incomprehensible. If thou runnest away now thou canst save thy life, why art thou not doing so? Don't tell me... Tho-thou hast become enamoured with that girl?"
"Idiot. It's not like that!"
Iris let out a cute yell when I poked her forehead.
"... I can't escape. If I flee now, both Zonmi and Iris will die. I can't allow that."
Iris raised her eyebrows in surprise.
"Why hast thou included my name there... I forcibly made a contract with thee disregarding thy volition. And not only that, I injured and restrained thee. Thou dost not have any obligation to save me."
"Like I care. Since I want to save you, I'll save you — simply that."
"I do not understand thy reasoning. Why dost thou not explain it better to me so that I understand!?"
Iris told me by raising her voice.
"You, didn't you feel lonely in that room?"
"... Haah? Art, art thou slandering me!?"
Now I understand — Iris said that both her parents were killed by monster tamers.
The gentleness she sometimes shows, most likely stems from her solitude.
Iris... with that small body, without having any family around her... That, it was no different from unreasonable isolation. Though she behaved as if she were stout-hearted, she had a gap inside her heart... It seems it's in my nature that I can't abandon people like that.
"Look, it's undone."
Steadily chewing at the ropes while talking, I finally succeeded in releasing her from her bindings. I mean, what's this rope made from? As expected, my jaw was tired... I can't use it for a while.
Iris was speechless.
Strange. I thought she'd be happier.
"What I am going to say will sound unrefined, but... Right now, I do not think I will be of any assistance in the fray. As thou knowest, these ropes are able to absorb magic power. The me right now, sincerely speaking, can only barely remain standing... That is why, harborest not many hopes."
What, it's that? Then I don't have to worry.
"No, being like this at this time, perhaps our victory is settled."
"What dost thou mean?"
Nearing my ring to my mouth,
I chanted with a loud voice.
That instant, I fell into a state that felt as though all the energy of my body had left me.
A feeling of accomplishment as if scattered pieces suddenly fit together to a T.
With this... it's our complete victory!
The red light that covered her whole body was healing Iris's injuries.
And in my case, I was subjected to a tiredness as if I had swum in a pool for a day.
I understood the reason why that man hesitated to employ this power. This was horribly painful, I was already wobbling on my feet. As if I has used all my MP in a Magic Burst.
"I'm astonished. To think thou hast this plentifulness of magic power dwelling inside thy body... I finally comprehend the reason why thou wast fit to elect me."
"He, he, thanks a lot."
Of course I was glad to be praised by a girl...
"I give thee my thanks, tamer. And I swear to thee. I will accomplish without fail the duty thou hast entrusted to me."
The voice of Iris, who had turned into a dragon, had recovered her usual self-confidence. Spreading her steel-like wings, Iris promptly took flight towards the man.
Giving a whipping to my exhausted body, I too followed there.
Please, let us make it in time...
Once I arrived near the man, I became speechless.
"Uwaaaaaaaaa, don't comeeeeeee!"
Minotauros's whole body scorched, only the man's scream resounded on the room.
"Is that the only thing thou wishest to say? I am desolated, but also cannot read the mood; I will quickly bring this to an end."
His expression distorted by despair and anguish, the man lowered his head and pleaded for his life.
"Please! I beg you! At least spare my life! It's as you see!"
Iris, sending a fleeting glance of awareness my way,
"... In that case, start by freeing all monsters thou hast put under 'Enforce'."
"Un-understood! I'll free them!"
The man removed a black ring from his hand while he crawled on the ground, and threw it away with an anguished face.
While grinding her teeth out of vexation, Iris gazed at the man's profile seemingly silent,
"... Disappear from my sight!"
She spat out those unexpected words.
As soon as he heard that, the man turned around and scampered at full throttle.
That was — a really quick curtain close.
Since this red dragon girl alone, confronting the seemingly strong foes of the Minotauros and its tamer, totally kicked their butts.
"Are you OK with that? That he escaped in the end?"
Iris laughed fearlessly,
"... Humph. I thought that it would be all right if this time I limited it to a warning and let him go free. Since had I killed that bloke, my purpose would have remained unfulfilled. At best, hereafter, I can use him as a valuable source of information."
Despite Iris having said that. I couldn't help but feel that she had some other reason.
Perhaps this is no more than mere speculation.
It may be that Iris didn't want to burden me with the crime of murder.
Even if indirectly, if she had taken the life of a person, from tomorrow on I'd have to live with the burden of that crime.
To a mere high school student like me, that's undoubtedly an unreasonably difficult thing.
"Thank you. Iris."
"... Come, now, I know not what thou meanest... Thou hast better hasten to that girl's side. I hold no doubt that even now she is surely waiting for thine arrival."
Anyhow, each second is precious.
Being told by Iris, I started to run without minding my surroundings.
However. At the point I ran to awaited a despair that made me want to cover my eyes.
What was there was a lump of flesh smashed to a pulp.
A thing that barely retained human form, vestiges of Zonmi that it had been were nowhere to be found. The torn up mincemeat-like face of Zonmi showed an unsightly involuntary smile, and not even a bit of regeneration could be felt.
Why, oh, why?...
In that pool of blood, I fell to my knees.
Zonmi's head was split in two agape, a jelly-like substance overflowing from the inside.
I tried to pick up the lump of flesh that was once Zonmi. The thick dripping blood stubbornly coiled around.
This is merely flesh.
No different in the least from that lined up at the supermarket, a mass of protein.
There were many things that I wanted to say to her.
Thanks for always protecting me... Sorry for being a bother... There were many things I wanted to say to you...
Now I can say it.
I'll become a monster tamer.
Till now — I was spending my days without aim, however, I feel I've finally found what I want to do myself.
So that both humans and monsters can laugh and get along, I want to make a world like that.
That's why, for that reason, I want to be always at your side.
Until that dream is granted, I want you to lend me your strength.
You too — weren't you wishing for that?
And yet, why...
"Human, get out of the way."
"... I couldn't protect her. I didn't make it in time..."
Completely exhausted, I hung my head heartbroken, I don't feel like moving even one inch from here.
"What art thou saying, thou hast accomplished everything. That lass is still alive."
"... What do you mean, Zonmi shouldn't be like this! Shouldn't she be reverting to how she was!?"
"I do not like to jest — the soul of that lass is still here... But then, her current condition should not last long."
Next instant, I noticed some discomfort in my own fingertips.
If I had to liken it to something, it would be close to the feeling you get when you remove the training weights that you had been wearing. She smoothly removed the ring she was so devoted to and fixated on.
"I return thee this!"
What she handed to me was the ring she wore on her finger.
"The ring... Why now..."
"I'm not so uncouth to remain in this place. So, pardon me."
What the heck... does she means by that?...
To further my dumbfoundedness, Iris showed me a 'don't worry' smile.
"Whaat, thou wilst understand soon. Good grief... Thy resilience is astounding. It seems that nearly half the magic power thou spent earlier has been returned by now. Being like that, there's no need to bestow onto thee the magic power contained in my blood."
"That's why, what do you mean..."
"Let me tell thee one last thing, I am grateful from the bottom of my heart for having met thee... If thou still carriest the will to be a monster tamer, the day may come that we will meet again.
Come the time... If thou choosest to allow it... I wish that we will once again restore our contract.
And this time not by force, I want us to be partners that understand each other by heart. Like with this lass here... Farewell, tamer."
Iris changed to dragon shape and flew away by flapping her wings.
I couldn't discern Iris's dragon-changed silhouette, but the words she left behind in the end were still fresh in my mind.
I wonder what she wanted, after all.
The ring I received from Iris, I felt it was casting a pale light in Zonmi's direction.
Like running electricity, an idea crossed my mind.
I gently approached the ring to Zonmi's hand.
I wonder what will happen — surprisingly, aren't Zonmi's injuries little by little, little by little, healing themselves?
I see... I'm granting her my internal magic power...
Recovering in an eye-blink a healthy rosy color, Zonmi opened her eyelids as if waking up from a thousand years of slumber.
"Mmm, eh... Chiharu..."
Hearing the voice I yearned for, the corners of my eyes involuntarily heated up.
"What the heck... Was I..."
Surveying restlessly her surroundings with half-asleep eyes, it seems Zonmi still couldn't get a grasp of what was happening.
"Welcome back, Zonmi."
Softly raising Zonmi's body, which had become so unbearably dear to me...
"Wha-wha-wha-what are you doing!?"
"It's fine, be quiet for a bit."
I tightly embraced her.
References and Translation Notes
- BTW I've been translating all this time 契約 as "contract", since it's the direct translation, but anytime a forced reading appears, including this one, it says "contact"; I don't know if this is intended or a mistake by the author, but if you think this is intended, feel free to change all "contract"s to "contact"s.
- Around 32' 9.7".
- The original idiom was 猪突猛進, that means some by the likes "proceeding like a boar's fierce charge" or "acting recklessly"; it gets even more suitable in english since, well, he IS a bull.
- As in the typical "Today is my last day, I'm retiring tomorrow" said by an old policeman as he shows photos of his kids/grandkids.
- Recurring spell on Dragon Quest that converts all remaining MP into damage.
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