It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (23/63), enjoy~
It was heavy rain. The thunder roared incessantly, and what sounded like screams shook the world.
Countless dead bodies were lying around, and numerous broken swords were rooted to the ground. In front of them stood a majestic castle that had once been so beautiful.
There was a reason why it’s described like that.
The gates had been severely destroyed, and the walls were crumbling in various parts. The symbolic castle was engulfed in flames, making a roaring sound that caused people to shudder.
Liz was in such a place. The way she looked around showed her confusion.
“Eh… What is this place?”
She was supposed to have been held captive by a cruel man called Puppchen. She looked down at her own body and rolled her eyes in surprise. She was unscathed ― there was not a single scar from that man on her body.
“…It’s a dream, right?”
It’s a vivid dream, then.
The eerie feeling of mud on the soles of her boots, the chilly wind caressing her skin, the stench of blood in her nose, the heat from the flames in front of her, it all seemed so real.
There was no way she could understand, and she didn’t even know what to do.
The thought that it was a dream and the thought that it was real jostled in her mind, confusing her. Furthermore, the surrounding scenery added more confusion to her mind. It’s hard to keep her thoughts straight when it’s disrupting her concentration. And then ― the sword at her waist quivered.
When Liz looked down with a surprised expression on her face, she saw the Five Emperors of Spirit Swords “Flame Emperor.”
As if to appeal to her to be firm, it was emitting a red light. Immediately afterward, the light turned into a line and stretched towards the castle as if to guide Liz.
“Are you asking me to move?”
She tried to ask the Flame Emperor, but there was no sign of a response.
“I understand. You want me to go, right?”
Liz shrugged her shoulders in resignation and decided to follow the red light path.
Strangely enough, she felt no anxiety at all. Maybe it was because she thought she was dreaming, or perhaps she had a premonition somewhere in her mind of what was waiting for her.
Once she passed through the burned-out main gate, she could see the entrance to the chalk-white castle.
In what seemed to be a courtyard, a pool of blood had formed. The grass and trees were stained red with blood, and the fire had spread from the flames that enveloped the castle to the trees, causing them to burst loudly. It was like a picture of hell, Liz thought.
No one was breathing; only the dead were grudgingly reaching for the heavens. There were several things that bothered her, but the most important was the absence of the person who had created this horrible scene.
――In other words, there are no living people in this world.
All things are subjected to equal death. They were being exposed to relentless attacks and killed. This did not change as Liz stepped into the castle, avoiding the crumbling rubble.
When she eventually arrived at what appeared to be the throne room…
Liz gasped for breath.
The only survivor of this world was there ― and he looked familiar.
There is no mistaking his glossy black hair, obsidian black eyes, and soft face that seem to be unable to kill even insects. From every angle, he looked exactly the same. His appearance and the fact that he has an expression on his face make it hard to tell what he is thinking.
Without even realizing it, she speeds up her steps. She wanted to see if it was really Hiro.
“Why, why is Hiro here?”
Eventually, however, Liz’s legs stalled as she ran toward the young man.
She was aware of the strange atmosphere the young man wore.
She couldn’t say a word. She forgot even to breathe. Liz’s eyes widened, and she looked at the young man’s hands with a frightened look in her eyes.
Yes, in the young man’s hand was a head that belonged to no one in particular, a head with a face contorted in pain.
Eventually, Liz suddenly became aware of a strange and frightening noise.
Liz’s gaze, which had been searching for the source of the noise, was drawn to the young man’s feet.
A large amount of fresh blood was spreading all over the area. There, drops of blood were falling from the head, creating a quiet dripping sound.
Normally, such a trivial sound would not have been audible. The surrounding environment was a noisy cacophony, like charcoal popping in a brazier. However, as if separated from the rest of the world, only the sound of the young man’s voice lingered strangely in her ears.
At the same time, a laugh spilled from the young man’s thin, opened lips.
“Haha… ha… haha.”
Even though he was laughing, his voice was sorrowful, as if he was crying. The more she wanted to comfort him, the more the young man kept leaking out his sorrowful voice.
The young man kept shivering so coldly that she wanted to hug him.
Suddenly, the young man’s eyes turned to look at her, and Liz felt her heart being grabbed.
“You’ve come, huh…”
The young man’s voice was extremely cold. It was followed by a visceral, crushing pressure.
“Even though I’ve destroyed countless castles, even though I’ve killed countless people with my hands…”
The young man was crying ― crying as if to let out his pain.
“My heart will never be satisfied.”
The light is gone from the young man’s eyes. His mind had been completely destroyed.
“I knew it, I knew it. I knew this would never fill me up.”
In the depths of those tearful black eyes, there was nothing but darkness.
“Then ― I don’t know what to do anymore.”
She could see that the young man was trapped as if he would disappear at the mere touch of her.
Liz could not imagine what horrible things had happened to the young man. Even so, she wanted to at least say something warm to him.
“You know… I’m going to be strong; I’m going to be strong enough to support you.”
Just as she was about to say, “You don’t have to cry anymore.” A huge tremor struck her.
Liz felt a shock that made it impossible for her to stand up.
――The world had begun to collapse.
White smoke billowed from the debris that had fallen from the collapsed ceiling. Sparks of fire flew up and were about to cover her vision. In the midst of this, Liz hurriedly reached out her hand to the young man.
“Don’t worry! I’ll protect you! Give me your hand quickly ― Kuh!”
However, Liz’s hand mercilessly cut through the sky. The violent shaking created by the rubble caused her to lose her position. She turned her gaze, which had been stolen by the ground, back to the young man, but it had already turned into a sea of fire, burning fiercely before her eyes.
Liz raised her voice. She could feel the young man’s presence slipping away.
She shouted his name, but she wasn’t sure if it was really him.
She tried to run after him, but her feet were stuck on the ground as if they were rooted. She tried her best to reach him, but she could not reach the boy who had his back turned.
“Good grief, why won’t I move at a time like this?”
She spat out her frustration and glared at her own legs with a grudge.
She couldn’t give up and called out his name several times, but he disappeared into the sea of flames without ever looking back. After tapping her foot in frustration, Liz looked up and searched.
How can she help the young man?
She thought desperately.
“What, have you given up?”
Suddenly, a strange voice came from behind her. In a world full of death, a voice that sounded almost arrogant stuck in her ears.
Fearfully, Liz turned around.
“I won’t ever give up.”
An arrogant, self-satisfied, calm, and indescribable man was standing there. The gold and silver decorations on his old imperial-style military uniform can only be described as tacky.
However, the fact that it strangely suits him makes her feel annoyed.
“…..Who are you?”
“Leon Welt Altius von Grantz.”
The man’s grin widened, and he spread out his arms and made a showy announcement as if to emphasize his presence.
“I’m the first emperor of the Grantz Empire, which is famous throughout the three thousand worlds.”
It was a joke, but somehow it struck a chord within her.
The sound of his voice.
All of them give off the air of a ruler. The lion, the absolute king, was standing right in front of her.
“Don’t look so stunned, little girl. We don’t have much time left.”
“Eh….. It’s because you said you’re the first emperor?”
“Listen, little girl. The young man from earlier――!?”
“Yes! It was Hiro! He looked so sad!”
Liz, who had somehow been able to move her legs, ran up to Altius and grabbed both of his shoulders as hard as she could, and shook him.
No ― Altius didn’t make the slightest movement, just let a wry smile form on his neat face.
“Haha, you’re an interesting girl.”
“This is not the time to be laughing! We have to save him as soon as possible!”
“Umu, I’m well aware of that. That’s why I want you to calm down.”
Altius put his hand on Liz’s flustered head and gently admonished her.
“I will only say this once.”
“――You have to save him.”
It was a short word. But the words were full of emotion.
For some reason, a heartbreaking sense of regret surged through Liz’s heart.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it myself.”
“…But how can I save him?”
“You’ll see. You will eventually get there; you will catch up to him.”
Altius patted Liz on the head and smiled as he stepped back.
“So, it’s time to say goodbye.”
Altius smiled mischievously as if he didn’t need any more words to say.
“W-wait! Are you just going to say what you want and then disappear?”
Liz shouted, and Altius gave her a sincere look.
“It’s a selfish wish, but I’m counting on you.”
He had a very sad look on his face, even though he was smiling. Liz could see that he was grieving for some reason. He was crying that there was nothing he could do.
“He’s my precious younger brother-in-law.”
Yes. He’s just like Hiro. He tries to push down his emotions and keep his sense of normalcy, just like Hiro.
However, the world did not give Liz enough time to think about such things. She sensed a tremendous amount of power gathering around her waist and turned her gaze downward.
A moment later ― a huge flame erupted from the red blade. The blast of fire spread out as if it were filling the area.
It was clear that the Flame Emperor was trying to drive Liz out of the collapsing world. But there was something left to do. She couldn’t just walk away from this world yet.
“Wait, I need you to do something about ― Eh?”
She realized that the young man who had been there earlier was gone, and the place where he had been was filled with rubble.
Liz glared at the “Flame Emperor,” thinking that everyone is selfish.
“Please wait! I want to save him! That’s why you have to wait!”
However, her voice went unheeded, and an immense light shone out from the Flame Emperor.
The blinding light was unbearable, and Liz crossed her arms to cover her eyes. But the blinding light only grew more intense, stimulating her eyeballs through her eyelids as if to say that it was useless to cover her eyes.
But then, suddenly ― she felt the light suddenly focusing on her.
Liz opened her eyelids with trepidation.
――The darkness was spreading.
Abyssal darkness stained the world, so much so that she wondered if she had actually opened her eyes. It had been so noisy, but now all that was left was the buzzing of insects.
“…Was it all a dream?”
It’s hard to believe, but she remembers the man’s grief-stricken face, and the words he muttered to her still choke her. In the first place, it is unclear whether it is even real that she is here now. In order to confirm it, Liz put her hand on the floor to get up, but
A sharp pain flashed through her fingertips. Tears welled up in the corners of her eyes, and she gritted her teeth to endure the pain. She felt like she was being pulled back from a dream. Even the slightest movement was enough to send pain shooting through her body.
Liz looked at her hands. She gazed at her fingertips, relying on the faint flickering light. There was a bandage wrapped around it. She knew she had woken up from a dream when she saw the blood on her fingertips.
The fingernails that Puppchen had peeled off reminded her that she had come back to reality.
Liz groaned for a few moments as the extreme pain hit her whole body.