It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (117/126), enjoy~
Whether the phrase “returned to normal” is correct or not, Ain did not know.
But he was certainly conscious in his original body. In addition, the distance between him and Chris was not so far. It seems that not more than a few seconds had passed since the incident just now.
Noticing that Ain was not standing where he should have been, Chris hurriedly turned around.
“Why are you sitting down?”
“Don’t worry about it! Chris, the scenery just now!”
“Y-yes? By “the scenery just now,”… do you mean Ishtar, which is right below us?”
“I didn’t mean that! I mean the battlefield I just saw!”
She just tilted her head in wonder, unable to share in the awareness.
(Was I the only one seeing it, as in all the paintings I’ve seen?)
It was too realistic to spit it out as a joke.
How could he forget the misery of that battlefield? The scent of blood that reached his nostrils was still there, as was the reverberation of the screams that pierced his ears.
Without a doubt, he could say that he had not lied about having seen that scene. It was more real than anything he had ever been shown.
“Ain-sama, Ain-sama. By battlefield, do you mean the battlefield of when?”
If he told her poorly, it would make her uneasy.
“For some reason, I just remembered the commotion in Magna the other day, so never mind after all.”
So Ain decided to cover it up. He mended his smile, got up, and lied again.
“I fell down because the laces of my shoes were untied. Please don’t tell anyone.”
“Geez… that’s dangerous!”
“I tied it back up properly. See? It’s a good knot.”
“Don’t change it again! It’s dangerous if you fall off!”
“I’m sorry. Come on, come on, let’s move on!”
“Mmm, even though you fell down, it’s as if you’re proud of it…”
This kind of cocky behavior should be less likely to arouse suspicion, and it paid off. Chris didn’t suspect Ain of anything. Instead, she followed his words and turned her attention to following the path across the sky.
The door was at the end of the path. There was only one desolate door, and there was nothing around it.
But it was decorated with something that gave Ain a sense of déjà vu.
“It looks like the sword I saw earlier.”
“Yes? Did you say something?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
The sword he saw on the battlefield in the man’s hand was a straight sword of silver and gold, two noble and dignified colors, and the door in front of him was no different.
The silver-white whole is decorated with gold ornaments in the shape of vines and leaves, and it feels more prestigious than any other door he has seen today.
“So the key has come at last… What shall we do?”
It is more of a seal than a key. Ain had seen the gold ornamentation on the door earlier, which clung to it and prevented it from opening.
It was dense in places, as if to show the original nature of the vines and leaves it was imitating.
But when Chris reached down to take a moment to look at it,
The golden vine caresses her hand and shrivels with the foliage. As she looks, the ornamentation on the door disappears, and the dense growth is gone.
“Ain-sama! It just disappeared on its own!”
“Strange things do happen sometimes.”
Chris was dissatisfied with Ain’s comments, which sounded like something else, but Ain, too, was surprised. He wondered once again if this shrine was related to the first king.
In any case, the door would likely open. He thought so, but no matter how hard Chris pushed, the door would not open.
This time Ain reaches out his hand. The door emitted a dazzling light, and soon the door itself became a particle of light.
The wind scattered them in the sky, and a deep fog, with no visible destination, was reflected in their vision. The inside of the remaining door frame was filled with a thick fog, and no sky could be seen behind it.
Was it leading to another place?
What bothered him was that, unlike before, the mist did not seem to be dissipating.
“As usual, let’s move on.”
That’s the only way to get to this point. They breathed in unison and stepped inside the door.
What lay beyond was a stone corridor. The well-polished surfaces of the walls, floor, and even the ceiling reflected the ambient light.
The walls on either side were lined with hundreds or thousands of magic stones set on pedestals.
It was strange to see weapons and armor in some places.
(The atmosphere was different from before.)
It was obvious at first glance, but it was like coming to a different building in the first place.
A temple, for example.
Or perhaps a great mausoleum attached to a temple.
Ain felt that this was not entirely wrong. He thought that the magic stone was something that a monster or a different species possessed in their body, and the fact that it was lined up in large quantities meant that it was not far-fetched.
…..It may be related to that battlefield.
The magic stones belonged to the different species who died on the battlefield, and the weapons and armor were the relics of those who did not have magic stones.
If this is the case, then the expression “great mausoleum” is even more fitting.
“This may be the lowest level. Haha… I don’t know if this is the right expression since we were in the sky just now.”
“I agree, especially with the atmosphere.”
Alert and warily, they stepped forward.
The view remained the same for a while, but the scene changed within a few minutes of moving through the corridor.
They came to a huge cylindrical hall.
The floor was covered with polished gray cobblestones, and pillars stood at equal intervals along the circular walls. Between the pillars, there were layers of stained glass windows that allowed light to stream in, reaching up to the ceiling, which was taller than the royal castle.
There were no doors or stairs, no paths leading anywhere. This must be the lowest level of the shrine.
By the way, the hall where they were now was not empty. At the back of the hall, there was a stone foundation reminiscent of an altar.
There, a sword is propped up against it.
The light shining through the stained glass illuminates the area. The scene of the sword catching the light resembled a portrait of the gods in a sacred painting, both majestic and exquisite.
It was a sight to behold.
(That sword is…)
Ain’s eyes widened.
The sword illuminated by the light looked much like the sword he had seen on the battlefield just a few moments before. Even so, the blade had rusted to a reddish-bronze color, so it was hard to tell if it was the same sword.
“I have a feeling that we shouldn’t pull out that sword.”
“So do I. I think pulling out the sword that was in the center of the sanctuary, in the deepest part of the shrine, would almost certainly change things.”
Whether it will be for the better or, the worse, he doesn’t know, but change will come.
But even so.
No matter how they looked around, there was nothing to see.
What they can do in the present is limited; they can either approach the sword or turn around and search inside the shrine. Or actually walk away with the convenient wish that the phenomena outside had subsided.
But a strange phenomenon suddenly took place. More light poured onto the base where the sword had been thrust.
A thunderclap that made them want to cover their ears.
The sunlight through the stained glass repeatedly refracted into the empty air, forming a dazzling, intense flash of light. The glint of light, clad in lightning and fire, soared up to pierce the heavens, releasing a storm.
“Stay close to me!”
Ain braced himself against the wind but held Chris, who was next to him, close with one arm. Then she surrendered her body in dismay.
Something was coming, and Ain knew ‘what’ that something was in his heart.
The sword is wrapped in light, and the result is obvious. Just thinking about it is enough to stop the sweat from forming on his forehead.
──The glow scattered.
The glare that had blocked his vision was gone, and the storm was gone.
Ain stood up while supporting Chris’s body and looked at the sword that should have been stuck.
It was as expected.
The sword had been pulled out and was in the hand of the man standing by the base. The sword was clad in a whirlwind of silver and white, just as it had been on the battlefield, and combined with his light silver armor; it was enough to remind him of that horrific battlefield.
The rusted sword blade has also regained its luster, and unlike earlier, it seems to have come to life.
“No… No way…”
Chris looked at the man who had appeared and let loose.
It was not like she was admiring him. Speechless and stunned is a more apt description of her amazement.
“That sword… Why…!”
The man raised his sword as if to cover his frantic voice.
Then, out of nowhere, the sound of bells rang out, and as a second or two passed, the sunlight through the stained glass windows changed color. Although the light turned to a deep red, it did not stop, and the darkness of the night enveloped the area.
However, with the appearance of moonlight and starlight, the visibility is somehow preserved.
(Remembering my return from Ist.)
Ain slowly drew his sword, remembering the night he fought on the water train.
“No! You must not fight that man!”
“What’s wrong with you, all of a sudden?”
“Absolutely not! Because that sword, that man is──!”
Before she could finish, the man disappeared. He vanished like a puff of wind, and the next moment, he was gone.
A cold, murderous intent appeared behind Ain. Almost unconsciously, he twisted his body, and a whirlwind of silver passed through the place where he was supposed to be standing.
If he had reacted even a moment too late, he would have died for sure.
The sudden tension produced a tremendous amount of adrenaline. His mind was clear, and he had a sudden flash of inspiration from the few hints he had gotten so far.
The hidden bloodline and the legitimate bloodline. And the battlefield scene that was suddenly shown to him.
In addition, from Chris’s upsetting words, he could guess that the man was…
“I hope you won’t tell me that that was the sword of the first king.”
While adjusting her stance, Chris nodded without saying anything. Chris had seen that sword in a book or something, but at this point, the source was not important.
“Oh, I see.”
The reason Ain was not as surprised as he thought he would be is because, deep down, he expected it to be so.
He had seen the scene many times before he came here, that battlefield. He would be a fool not to recognize it.
But whatever the reason, if that man iwas the first king ── or his specter or something, Ain has no intention of fighting him.
The man stepped into Ain’s bosom with blinding speed.
“No… that’s too fast…! Ain-samaaaa!”
Chris readies her rapier to protect Ain, but she was too slow. She couldn’t catch up with the man’s speed.
Despite a forceful sword fight with no technique or anything, his body was easily flung away, and in an instant, he lost air from his lungs, making it hard to breathe.
…..It’s as if he’s treated like a child.
The only thing that helps is that there is little pain. While flying through the air, he looks around and smiles bitterly.
When he eventually hit the wall, Chris rushed over and put her hand on his head.
“Are you okay…!?”
“I’m fine. …It’s just that we can’t get it over without a fight.”
“T-then, you should at least go outside…!”
“Unfortunately, that’s no longer possible.”
He urged her to look toward the door with side glances. Ain smiled wryly because he had seen that the door was tightly shut.
“We have no choice but to fight. If we don’t, he will cut us down.”
“Don’t worry. We’re not dealing with the undead or anything like that of His Majesty the First.”
It must be something related to the first king, but he doesn’t know right now.
“How can you be sure? If it really was His Majesty the First──”
“Because I know why I can say it’s unlikely. I’m not going to tell you what it is because it’s a royal secret. …At any rate…”
They must fight. Now that the door cannot be opened and there is no turning back, if they do not fight, they will only be cut down.
A moment after Ain said that, the man disappeared again.
This time, Ain raised his sword without the slightest hesitation as a skin-piercing killing intent drifted from Chris’s blind spot. Chris, on the other hand, still had some hesitation. It was inevitable, considering that the other party was something deeply related to the first king.
“I won’t let you…!”
Though Ain swung down his sword to protect her.
“Unbelievable! From that position?”
The man dexterously changed the direction of his sword, which should have been aimed at Chris, and lightly caught Ain’s sword, which was coming from behind, with his sword without even turning around. The man was one-armed, and his stance was not supposed to be strong enough, but Ain’s body conversely shifted its center of gravity.
But Ain’s power was not limited to his swordsmanship.
Assuming the man in front of him to be the first king, Gail, Ain shouted.
“You’ll be blown to bits with me! Your Majesty the First!”
The power of the ice dragon and the dark knight. He used all of his power, including the power of the Dryad, to launch an attack on Gail.
Gail raised his sword without a word.
A whirlwind of white silver wriggled and exploded around him like a tornado, neutralizing Ain’s attack.
Conversely, Ain and Chris, who was being protected, were blown away by the pressure.
Desperately protecting her, Ain held her to his chest when Chris grabbed his hand and curled her body around him in preparation for the impact. He produced an illusory hand to protect her back, but the hard impact against the wall drained all the oxygen from his lungs at once.
But Ain stoutly opened his eyes and did not avert his gaze from Gail.
It was dark, and the rest of Gail’s hair was fluttering, making it impossible to peek at his face. Ain sneered that he wanted to get a glimpse of him anyway.
“How can Ain-sama fight… without hesitation?”
Rising to his feet, Ain had a clear fighting spirit in his eyes.
“If His Majesty the First swings his sword at someone I care about, then I will not regret it if I have to fight His Majesty the First.”
He added this at the end and turned back to Chris, scratching his cheeks in annoyance.
Chris was then shaken to her heart’s content. Not out of affection, but because his words made her understand that she felt the same way.
“I see; I was the same way…”
She remembers that when Ain was about to be slashed, she did indeed draw her sword and hold it at the ready.
If she thought it was Ain who was going to be hurt, then yes, she would have had no hesitation in fighting too.
“Your Majesty the First, my name is Ain, the crown prince.”
“Please, put your sword away. If I have offended you by opening the door of the shrine or by stepping into it, I will make any apology I can. So please put your sword away.”
These words did not reach him, and Gail said,
“Show me your strength.”
It is a line of dialogue with no context. But it does not seem that the two men acted in a way that would provoke anger. Although they did not understand the meaning of the phrase “show your strength,” it seemed that a fight was inevitable.
Ain and Chris understood this and increased their fighting spirit.
“If possible, I’d like to neutralize him.”
“Mmm, that’s a hard thing to say!”
“I know. I was just thinking that to myself.”
The opponent is the Hero King.
He was the man who ended the Great War, and it was no exaggeration to say that he is the most powerful man in the history of Ishtalika, having defeated the Demon King Arche.
It is a luxury to neutralize a man like that.
It would not be surprising if the difference in strength were so great that even after exerting all their strength, they were unsure if they were worthy of facing him.
“Oh well, I didn’t intend to accomplish my goal here.”
The goal that he set many years ago was to surpass the first king, Gail. Whether or not he could fulfill it, he did not want this situation.
“I’m going to step forward. I’m going to ask for your help.”
“…I don’t approve of that, but I’m willing to comply for now.”
Although she is reluctant to entrust such a dangerous vanguard to her lord, surely she would be a liability even if she stepped forward. If this is a battle in which one may die if one loses, there is no choice but to obey.
“I’m counting on you. With Chris there, I can fight with peace of mind.”