Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
It has been five hours since Hiro made his way to the top of the mountain while forming friendships with the soldiers. The sun had fully risen when Hiro looked up over his head, and the area was completely bright. When he looked up, he could see the top of the mountain at a distance, but then.
――that guy suddenly appeared.
A big and ugly face. The two bloodshot eyes moved around as if evaluating Hiro and the others. Seeing from its gaping mouth, you can see the yellow teeth that have fallen out in some places. The neck is thicker than Hiro’s waist, and the belly bulges out in front like a balloon.
It was an ugly humanoid monster.
“What is… that…”
And then Liz comes closer to Hiro’s ear, who is panicked and speaks up.
“It’s an Ogle. It’s said that they were originally human, but were cursed by a spirit and turned into an ugly form. It is a monster that was driven out of the human village and inhabits these mountain ranges, attacking travelers and devouring human flesh.”
[Editor Note: Yes, it is Ogle, not Ogre. I thought it was a typo at first, too, but keep reading and you’ll understand why its not a mistranslation later in this chapter.]
Liz calmly explains to him, but he can’t concentrate much because her breath tickles his ears.
“It’s strong but not very intelligent, however, so it won’t be too hard to take it down.”
And as soon as Liz finished speaking, Cerberus ran over.
He flashed his sharp claws at the Ogle’s neck in a flash. Accompanied by an eerie buzzing sound, the top of the Ogle’s neck is gone, and the earth is dyed red-black as blood gushes out.
Gross… Hiro turned away, but even beyond that, there was a scene that made him want to cover his eyes. Ogle’s head rolled down the rumbling slope.
As Liz watched the scene, there was a smile on her face as if a flower had bloomed.
“As expected of Cerberus-dono. The invisible clawing! It was a wonderful thing to see.”
Cerberus responded to Tris’s praise by wagging his tail.
“There are more powerful ones out there than that one.”
A threatening smile spread across Liz’s face as she turned around. Hiro shrugged his shoulders and gave a single sigh.
“I can’t even imagine that…”
After muttering behind Liz’s back, Hiro started walking again, but he felt a dull ache in the soles of his feet.
(As expected, it’s getting harder.)
What was once a green mountain path is now a gravel path mixed with large rocks. Every step he takes causes pain in the soles of his feet. However, if he tried to concentrate on avoiding the large rocks, he would lose his strength.
Liz looked into Hiro’s face with concern, as if it had been shown on his face.
“Hiro, are you okay? If it hurts, I’ll carry you on my back, okay?”
“No, I’m not going to let a girl carry me on her back… I’m a man, after all.”
Showing gratitude for her kindness, Hiro turned his attention to the summit. It seemed so close, yet so far away. Still, the change in scenery made him feel that they were making progress.
Besides, Liz gave them several breaks in between. They can’t allow themselves to be weak. Most importantly, every time the soldiers took a break, she would say, “You are quite gutsy” and “Just a little more patience”. So it’s more of a pleasant feeling than a painful one. From the bottom of his heart, he’s glad to have accompanied her on this journey.
When Hiro was immersed in the sense of fulfillment that he couldn’t get even in his former world, Liz gave him a serious look.
“There are a lot of monsters from here on out, so you should never leave me, Hiro!”
“Is there still something like the Ogle?”
“Yeah. Or rather, there’s a bunch of Ogles here.”
“I’m serious, you know.”
And as Liz imitated Hiro―a large amount of rocks rolled in from ahead.
“Hide behind the rocks!”
When Tris shouted aloud, the soldiers swiftly hid behind the rocks. Hiro also tried to hide behind a rock―but he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t move because Liz pulled his arm.
“Liz! We have to run away quickly!”
When he says it with frustration in his voice, Liz turns her calm face to him.
“No. You should stay here. It’s safer for you to stay close to me.”
“What are you――!?”
The ground shook greatly, making it difficult to stand properly. A single rock struck a nearby rock and shattered into pieces on the ground. The debris rained down on the two of them. It would have been fine if that was all, but like a meteor, a large group of rocks tumbled down.
One of the largest rocks among those fell to the ground.
We’re not going to make it. I’m going to be crushed. Hiro couldn’t help but close his eyes as he thought that he was going to be crushed. But no matter how long it took, the pain didn’t come. When he opened his eyes, he saw a large rock that had broken in half and was now melting.
“Eh, what’s this…”
Hiro looked at it with a stupefied look on his face. However, there was not a single rock. The melted rock was used as a foothold, and with a heavy, dull sound, more rocks flew overhead.
When the large shadow enveloped Hiro and the others ― Suddenly, the rock was swallowed by the powerful flames and crushed. The debris scattered around as if to avoid Hiro and the others.
“Hiro! Don’t move from here!”
When the stunned Hiro responded to the voice―Liz was running towards the rocks. The soldiers, who had been hiding behind the rocks, came to Hiro with impassive faces. Beside them, Cerberus was looking up at the sky and stretching himself absent-mindedly.
As Hiro is puzzled as to why they have so much leeway, the sound of an explosion shakes the stunned Hiro’s eardrums with a loud bang.
Looking at the source of the sound, he saw that the red hair was dancing. With the rocks in front of her, Liz waved her arms, and strangely, the rocks exploded one after another―the debris melted in the air and collided with the ground, causing a burnt smell to stick in the nostrils and white smoke to drift around.
“I wonder if there’s anything else. Hiro, are you hurt?”
Liz, who had dealt with all the rocks, came back without breaking a sweat.
“Eh, no, no, but…”
Hiro tried to ask her a question, but――.
“There’s a group of Ogles!”
Someone shouted that. Everyone’s gaze came together and turned to the same location. A group of ugly looking Ogles was looking down at them. In the center of the group was a single large Ogre, and seven Ogles surrounded it.
“There’s an Ogre, too. If Dios had been here, he would have been happy.”
Liz next to him, muttered in a nervous tone of voice.
“Ogre?” [T/n: Ogle = オグル (Oguru) and Ogre = オーガ (Oga).]
When Hiro asked back, Liz nodded, keeping her gaze intact.
“That’s right. There’s that big, creepy one, right? It’s a mutation; it’s more violent and intelligent than the others. That’s why it forms a group and attacks people.”
“Is it possible that the rockfall that just happened was…”
“Correct. They did that. I guess they thought it would be fun to eat human flesh.”
“…But is everything okay?”
“This is not the first time we’ve faced an ogre, so it’s not a problem if we keep our cool. Besides, there’s the fact that Dios has been called the “Ogre” because of the number of times he has killed an Ogre.”
While Hiro and Liz were talking, the soldiers were getting ready for battle. The heavily armed infantry was building a wall with their shields propped up against the ground in front of Hiro. Behind them, the archers were drawing their bowstrings and waiting for the signal.
Liz, who looked at them, raised her hand to the sky and then waved it vertically.
Countless arrows flew straight at the group of Ogles. In the blink of an eye, countless arrows pierced the large giants’ bodies and succeeded in killing four of them at once.
Two angry Ogles rushed down, enraged by the death of their own kind.
“Archers, aim for their legs!”
As Liz ordered, the Ogles, who had been struck in the foot with precise aim, rolled down with great force. They slammed into the wall of shields that the soldiers had improvised and stopped their movement, only to be topped off by the spears that extended through the gap.
The remaining Ogre and a single Ogle seemed to have chosen to escape and were trying to climb the slope.
Responding to Liz’s voice, Cerberus jumped over the wall and climbed up the hill at a brisk pace. He quickly caught up with the Ogle and bounced its head off of it, bringing the Ogre to a halt.
“Heavily armed infantry! Clear the front! Light infantry, come with me!”
“Oooh!” the soldiers shouted in unison.
The shield wall opened up on either side, and it was Liz who took the lead from there. Tris and the light infantry chased after her from behind.
“Don’t let your guard down just because there is only one Ogre! It’s a lot more intelligent and powerful than the Ogles!”
The lightly armed infantry unit focused on the Ogre’s feet. They retreated quickly before a counterattack could come, and then a covering shot was delivered by the archers, but it wasn’t fatal enough. The Ogre continues to rampage even as countless arrows pierced it. It was a back-and-forth battle in front of the Ogre’s incredible life force.
However, the equilibrium was broken by the hand of the red-haired girl.
“Stand back! I’ll take care of the rest!”
When things got to this point, Hiro finally realized that there was something in Liz’s hand.
“Oh, is that the first time you’ve seen that, kid?”
One of the soldiers tapped Hiro’s shoulder and told him. Hiro held his gaze and opened his mouth.
“Eh, what do you mean?”
“Look at the Spirit Sword, the Flame Emperor.”
His heart―thumping and pulsing.
“Oh, yes… probably for the first time.”
Hiro pressed his chest and caught Liz dancing against the Ogre. In her hand was a single red sword―a beautiful, bright red blade like a ruby, with a golden hilt that was even more sparkling in the sunlight.
The Ogre’s ugly face seemed to be distorted with fear as flames of the hellfire erupted from the tip of the blade. The Ogre decides that close combat is dangerous and starts throwing nearby rocks at Liz.
However, Liz continues to dodge effortlessly, and the inevitable rocks are burned up by the Flame Emperor’s flames. The moment Liz closes the distance between her and the Ogre unobtrusively, a hot wind blows in the air.
The next thing that happens is a deafening scream from the monster, and the giant Ogre is engulfed in the crimson lotus. The flames only grew stronger, instead of diminishing, until its body was turned to ashes.
“I’ve defeated it~!”
After confirming that the monster has died, Liz puts on a full, charming smile and waves her hand towards Hiro. The sight of her walking with the Flame Emperor’s blade pointed at the ground, caught Hiro’s eyes, and glued his eyes to her.
The beauty that rivals any painting exists in the world. Again, the depths of his chest pulsed with a loud thump, Hiro let out a hot breath as he clutched his chest.
“What’s going on… what is this…?”
His heart is beating fast, and he knows that something is raging within. But then the pretty girl asked him, “Are you okay?”, and he was brought back to his senses by looking into her face.
Hiro was surprised and made a strange sound. Liz was also surprised and rolled her eyes.
“What is it? Are you hurt somewhere?”
“S-sorry. I’m not hurt… I mean, you looked so cool! So-!”
As Hiro waved his hands in front of his face as he spoke his thoughts, Liz’s face came even closer and grabbed him by the shoulders, not wanting to miss.
“Really? Was it that great?”
“Eh, no, I don’t know, it’s just… it’s kind of… breathtaking; it’s really… it’s just so beautiful.”
“Geez, don’t embarrass me like that! You can say that again, though!”
Liz pats Hiro’s shoulder repeatedly while shaking her head in embarrassment.
“Alright, you guys, let’s go~.”
“Hey, kid, bring some of my stuff.”
“I want you to do the same to mine too.”
“Maybe you can help me too.”
The soldiers who had been so kind to him changed their attitude. A pile of swords, spears, bows, and shields piled up in front of the dumbfounded Hiro.
(Aren’t these things essential to protect their lives? What is it, even Tris-san is taking advantage of the situation too…)
The blatant harassment gave him a headache, and he looked up at the sky, which was turning reddish-brown. Liz had said they would be at the summit by evening, but perhaps plans meant that things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to.
“Let’s take a break around here for today, shall we?”
Liz said, and Tris nodded.
“That’s fine. The number of monsters will increase from here on out. I think it would be best to make camp around here.”
“Then let’s get our equipment sorted out and get the tent up before nightfall.”
After saying that, Liz skipped the precise instructions, and the soldiers began to move unsteadily. By the time they finished putting up the tent, darkness had utterly swept over the area.
When Hiro looked back, he saw that the soldiers had pitched the tent for them to sleep in, centered around the largest tent for the Princess’s use only. There were also many bonfires set up to prevent the beasts from approaching or appearing, and heavily armed infantrymen were guarding in pairs of four on all sides to deal with the monsters no matter where they came from.
“Haah―… we’ve managed to get through today, haven’t we?”
Hiro let out a long breath and looked up at the night sky to see the stars shimmering in the sky. After watching for a while, Liz came out from the tent behind him while putting her breath on her hand.
“What’s wrong? We have to go to sleep early tonight, you know… or are you hungry?”
Hiro shook his head when she asked him.
“No, no. I was just looking at the stars.”
There were other reasons…
“Does Hiro like the stars?”
“No, not really. But I’ve never seen them up close before, so it’s unusual.”
Liz approached until their shoulders were close enough to touch. To hide the embarrassment and agitation, Hiro looked up at the sky again. The sky was so full of stars that it looked like he could reach out to them with his hand, giving off an overwhelming glow. His exhaled breath turned white, but strangely he didn’t feel cold.
“I heard about it from my mother a long time ago.”
Liz’s sweet, clear voice pleasantly came to Hiro’s earbuds.
“When people die, they become spirits, and the spirits’ souls become stars, watching over the world together with the Spirit King. When you feel scared, when you feel sad, when you feel lonely, look up at the sky, because then you will know that you are not alone.”
“That’s a good saying.”
“Every citizen of the Empire knows this lullaby.”
Liz smiled shyly and grabbed Hiro’s left hand with white teeth peeking out of her mouth.
“Let’s go back to the tent and go to sleep before you catch a cold.”
Hiro was pulled without a moment’s embarrassment.
“W-wait! Wait! I can’t!”
“W-why, you ask? Because a man and a woman of age, sleeping in the same tent together are just…”
That was the reason he was outside.
When Liz had finished putting up the tent, Liz’s words, “Hiro’s going to sleep here too,” made Hiro shudder. He wanted to avoid that―he planned to pass the time outside and wait for her to sleep first, but it seemed futile.
“There’s Cerberus, too.”
Inside the tent, Cerberus was already asleep.
“Come on, just come in, come in!”
Hiro was pushed on his back and stepped into the tent. On top of the tent, a candle-lit lantern hung from it. It wasn’t bright enough to show the entire interior, but it was bright enough to give it a glow that made his heart beat faster. The ground is covered with a thick blanket to keep from hurting from the gravel.
Cerberus positioned himself in the center, and looking to his left, a blanket that looked like a duvet had been prepared for them.
“It would have been nice if we could have bathed, but I’m sorry if I smelled like sweat, okay?”
“No, I mean, I can’t sleep with you, as expected.”
“Eh, do I really smell like sweat…?”
Liz began to sniff her own body odor as she moved her smooth, shapely nose.
(That’s not what I’m talking about. Rather, I’m probably sweating more than you are.)
When Hiro is unsure of what to say to her, Liz gives him a carefree smile.
“I don’t really know what I smell like. But you know, let’s just sleep without worrying about each other.”
“No, I don’t want to sleep with――.”
“Geez, stop complaining! I told you we have to be up early tomorrow!”
Hiro let out a gasp as he received a strong shock from his back. For a moment, his vision turns black, and the next time he opens his eyes, he’s already lying down. Liz’s face is close enough that he can see her face at the edge of his vision―his whole body feels her warmth, so he doesn’t have to bother checking it out with his eyes.
“Cerberus won’t let me hold him when he sleeps.”
―But that doesn’t mean you can use me as a substitute instead. Said Hiro inwardly.
“Fuwaah, I think I’m going to sleep early today…”
Hiro’s heart was pounding so loudly that he couldn’t sleep, on the contrary.
“…What a great sleeper you are.”
――Well, what to do now…
It would be nice if the sheep would show up soon, but all that appears is the devil. Even now, it’s dangerous, but when he looks to the side, he can’t help but develop an evil feeling. Hiro fell into the darkness while dealing with the devils that appeared one after another.
[Editor Note: sounds like sleep paralysis. Relatable.]