It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (99/116), enjoy~
At the same time.
“Ugh… I’m so tired.”
When Liz returned to the tent after the military council was over, she found Aura standing there all alone. She tilted her head, placing her index finger on the tip of her chin at the unusual appearance.
“…There was something I wanted to ask your permission for.”
But Aura shook her head and gazed at Liz closely as she approached her.
Feeling mysterious intimidation from the petite girl, Liz retreated from the pressure.
“Are you getting enough sleep?”
Her heart skipped a beat at the directness of the question. She was about to spit out a few honest words, but she held back and hurriedly made up for it.
“W-why? I’m sleeping just fine.”
“…You have dark circles under your eyes.”
Aura pointed to Liz’s eyes. She was startled by this point and touched her eyes with her hand. She thought she had used makeup to cover it up, but it seemed to have been immediately detected.
However, without blaming Liz for lying, Aura looked up at her with concern.
“Are you still afraid to sleep?”
She raised her hands to show her resignation at the certainty of her words. It seems that there is no excuse.
After hearing the news that Hiro had been killed in action, she began to have sad dreams.
Although she doesn’t remember the dream’s content clearly, when she wakes up, she is left with a deep sense of pity and unbearable tears in her eyes. Eventually, Liz became terribly afraid of going to sleep.
“Even though I’m a grown woman… I’m still only a child.”
She tried to say it jokingly, but Aura snorted with a serious expression on her face.
Liz hurriedly gestured as if to say she was fine.
“I-I’m fine. You don’t have to worry. I’ll sleep fine today.”
Aura’s expression remained grim as she shook her head several times as if she was trying to think of a way to deal with sleep, but then she came up with a good idea and stood still.
“Then you can sleep in peace today.”
She then sat down on a nearby chair and began to read the Black Book.
Liz thinks that this is the kind of thing that the older sister would do.
“Anyway, did you have something to do with me?”
“Liz’s priority right now is to sleep and not think about anything else.”
She told Liz to go to sleep.
That was harsh, Liz thought with a bemused sigh. But it is no wonder she reacted the way she did. The current Liz is the commander in charge of the entire Grantz Army.
It can be said that she is the one who determines the fate of the country.
“…I’m sorry for making you worry.”
Liz mouthed an apology and then went to her bed. She reminded herself that she could not go on like this forever.
She needs to be strong. She didn’t want to be weak.
Be strong… be strong… be strong…
She wished to be strong enough to be unfazed by anything — a heart of steel, like her mother’s.
Liz has heard that her mother was a beautiful woman.
It is said that her lineage goes back to the man known as the “God of Military Arts” – the 22nd Emperor.
He was a rare emperor who successfully defeated the Flesh-eater Tribe and the Marked Tribe and drove them to the northern edge of the country, and for this achievement, he was revered as the “God of Military Arts,” one of the twelve great gods of the Grantz.
Perhaps because of this ancestry, her mother was very brave and even inherited the red hair that was a characteristic of the 22nd Emperor. Today, that hair color has been passed on to Liz, and her “characteristics” have been passed on as well. But that’s when things went awry.
Everything fell apart.
Everyone she cared about was disappearing from her life.
Her mother died to protect Liz, and Dios, who had been like a brother to her, also died for her.
And she even lost Hiro.
It was because of her――
“You don’t have to be so hard on yourself.”
Liz opened her eyes as she was interrupted by a thought.
A colorful scene of blooming plants and flowers spread out in front of her. A gentle breeze was blowing. The clean, crisp air filled her lungs.
The negative feelings that had been smoldering in the depths of her heart earlier were rapidly disappearing.
No words came out. But she could feel that it was a dream. Even so, an ambiguous feeling ran through her body, as if she was in between a dream and reality.
“W-why, this is… because, this too――”
An outpouring of emotions that even she couldn’t understand ― joy, anger, sorrow, and pleasure ― exploded in her heart all at once.
The sudden rage ran through her whole body, accompanied by a pain so intense that she felt as if she would burst, and Liz, unable to bear it, hugged her body as if she were shutting herself in a shell.
“You should take it easy.”
She felt a gentle weight on her back. The softness of the weight on her back, as if it were tracing her spine, took away the pain.
“Have you calmed down?”
When she looked up in response to the caring voice, she saw a beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed woman bent over and looking at Liz. Her golden hair swept comfortably in the breeze, and her pointed ears peeked through the cracks. It was a face she had seen somewhere before, and it made Liz’s mind restless and agitated.
“Um… Long-Eared Race?”
“My father is a human. But my mother is from the Long-Eared people.”
“Uh… where are we?”
When Liz asked the question, the Long-Eared woman giggled as she put her index finger on the tip of her chin.
“Hmm, it’s a very deep place. It is a place where one would not normally come.”
When she held up her hand, the Flame Emperor appeared out of the empty space.
“She’s as naughty as ever, isn’t she? It seems that she brought you here because you were feeling depressed, and it seems that she really hasn’t changed at all.”
The woman smiled kindly and stroked the blade of the “Flame Emperor.” Flames gushed out of it, happily clinging to her body.
Liz looked up in surprise at the behavior of the dour and rarely friendly Flame Emperor.
“Is it possible that these are the memories of the previous owners?”
If so, that would explain the feeling of déjà vu she had just experienced.
The more power the Five Emperors Spirit Swords draw out, the more visible the memories of their past owners become. Skaaha had told her that the more power she drew out of the sword, the more she could learn how to use it, and the more knowledge she gained, the more power she could draw out of it.
However, the woman from the Long-Eared Race smiled vaguely, as if troubled.
“No, it’s not. This is not the Realm. It’s a different place.”
Before she could finish, a white finger closed Liz’s mouth.
“You already know. So I guess I don’t have to tell you.”
Her fingertips slid from her mouth to her chest, and her outstretched hands pressed against her chest.
She couldn’t say anything when she smiled a smile that was pure and simple, and Liz nodded, not knowing the true meaning behind the kindness.
“I’m sure you’ll be able to pave your own way.”
The woman handed Liz the Flame Emperor. The flames were still clinging to her as if bidding her farewell. As she gently unwraps it, the Long-Eared woman smiles at Liz.
“Please take good care of Hiro-sama.”
The words were spoken without hesitation as if they were a greeting. But the earnestness in her words made Liz’s heart ache.
“I’ve been waiting for a thousand years. It’s been a long, long time.”
The woman looked up at the clear sky and felt a sense of relief as she thought about the distance. Liz had no idea why she looked that way. But the only thing that burns in the back of her mind is what she’s thinking, what she’s holding, what she’s worried about.
“But I was finally able to catch his back.”
But she couldn’t catch him. It became impossible for her to walk next to him.
She smiled softly at Liz as if she had heard her heart.
“What are you saying? All you have to do is pass him.”
“It’s good to be troubled. But don’t stop moving.”
The woman continues to stand there, not even stopping her hair from being tossed by the wind. It was as if she had been sewn in place, not moving an inch from her spot, just looking at Liz tenderly.
“Don’t worry. You will be able to save him.”
She was right in front of her, but somehow she felt her presence slipping away.
Her vision was rapidly narrowing. A severe headache hit her like a ringing bell.
Still, Liz gritted her teeth and endured.
There are so many things she wants to talk about. She wanted to share many memories with her.
She wanted to hear about a young man named Hiro that she hadn’t known.
Liz tried her best to reach out, but she could only grasp at the void.
“Please, wait, there’s so much more I want to ask you!”
She continued to reach out, struggling, pawing, and scooping up the void over and over again.
And so, in a world of many glowing lights, she gently wrapped her wandering hand around it.
As if it was natural for her to be there, as if she insisted on being there at all times, with a very gentle smile, she grasped Liz’s hand tightly, as if to say it was natural.
“How, if I save him, will he ― Hiro will… Hiro will…”
She was gone from Liz’s sight. No, the truth is that she’s watching over her from somewhere. There was a part of her that had such faint hopes. She continued to hold on to her uncontrollable feelings of incomprehensible emotional outbursts, and she was unable to hold on to her raging emotions of anger and sadness. She couldn’t decide what to believe or what to declare as lies anymore.
So, squeezing it out of her throat, she screamed.
“I just don’t know what to do!”
“Just hit him.”
Liz made a dumb sound as the answer returned more oblique than she had imagined.
“It’s just a habit of his.”
She smiled and put her fingers to the corners of both mouths.
As if embarrassed by such a gesture, she formed a smile with her fingers, her cheeks flushing red with embarrassment.
“When things go according to plan, he has a habit of laughing under all circumstances.”
The sound of her embarrassed laughter echoes through the air. It became a pleasant sound that shook the world.
“He has waited a thousand years for this, so don’t hesitate to hit him.”
Liz’s vision went dark as she saw the woman’s face change from gentle to angry.
As soon as she reached out, she was hit with a sense of weariness.
Feeling the weight of her body, she choked for a moment but held her throat and looked up.
A dull ache rushed to her temples, probably due to the forcefulness of her movement.
She crouched down, pressing her head down, and the covers that had been draped over her upper body slipped noisily to the floor. At the same time, she heard light footsteps and felt someone’s hand on her shoulder.
“…Are you okay?”
When Liz looked to the side to check the owner of the voice, she saw that Aura was peeking out at her.
“Another scary dream?”
She could assure her that it was not.
“…It was a gentle dream.”
Everything was wrapped up gently ― yes, she noticed a sense of security spreading in her chest as if she was being hugged by her mother.
Liz clutched her chest, not wanting to let the feelings of affection in her heart cool down.
Who is she? Why did she have that dream? A cloud of emotions swirled in her chest. But no matter how much she thought about it, she couldn’t come up with an answer.
As if giving up, Liz leaned back on her bed.
“I’m going to sleep for a little while longer.”
Without saying a word, Aura sat down on the edge of the bed and began to read the Black Book.
Liz smiled at her petite figure.
Staring at the light fixture hanging from the ceiling, Liz plunged back into the darkness. She had been so afraid, but now, somehow, happiness had taken its place.
It was a vague feeling, but she had a feeling that she wouldn’t have any nightmares.
She had a feeling that she would sleep well today.
The moment she completely surrendered her consciousness to the dream, Liz thought she heard a voice.
The voice was compassionate, gentle, and said something that soothed her pain.
Somewhere, someone was telling her that she was going to be okay.