Chapter 5 Part 23
Translator : PolterGlast
Unlike in the city, the outskirts of Arcazam were shrouded in darkness. The moonlight illuminates the overgrown vegetation, and the fireflies dance with their faint light.
Nozomu was in a place not too far from where he always trained with Irisdina and the others.
He desperately swung his katana while standing on the gra.s.s. It was as if he was desperately trying to shake off something that had attached to him.
Regardless of his intention, he kept swinging his katana over and over again. The slash of his sword that flashed in the darkness of the night was fierce, but it still stood out under the moonlight and fireflies.
"Haa, haa, haa ... !!"
Due to the influence of Ability Suppression, he felt exhausted in the blink of an eye, and a tremendous sense of malaise invaded Nozomu's body.
But Nozomu bit his lip, endured the pain, and tried to send his Qi into the katana with all his might.
"Kuh~! This ... Ugh~!"
However, due to the sudden depletion of Qi, his legs became unsteady. Even so, he kept trying to swing his katana while regaining his posture, but the balance that had begun to crumble did not recover, and instead, swinging his katana in an unstable posture caused him to fatally break his posture.
Nozomu managed to support his body by touching the ground. He tried to stand up again to continue swinging his katana, but no matter how hard he put his strength into his legs, his legs didn't move.
He thrust his katana into the ground and used it as a cane as Nozomu desperately tried to stand up.
However, his unsteady body did not move as he wished.
After arriving at Arcazam, Nozomu headed straight for this outskirt and continued swinging his katana. His chaotic mind made him not able to think about his own exhausted body.
Nozomu even touches the invisible chain that binds him.
He tried to tear off the chain as he lose his calmness and vents his anger towards it. However, the invisible chains that were easily torn like paper in the past, were now tightly wrapped around Nozomu's body like real chains.
"... d.a.m.n, d.a.m.n it..."
It was that feeling of fierce guilt and deep remorse that a.s.saulted his immobile heart. On top of that, the swordplay he was waving right now was so terrible. If his master had seen him, he would have been beaten without question. His katana would have been taken away and ordered to redo his training. Nozomu punched the ground with all his might as he got angry towards himself who could only swing such pathetic swordplay.
Blood dripped from his clenched lips and fell onto his fist.
The light of the fireflies flew around as if dancing to cheer him up.
"... So you're in a place like this."
A bell-like voice could be heard. The moment Nozomu lifted his face, a long blue hair fluttered in the wind, and white porcelain-like skin illuminated by the moonlight jumped into his eyes.
"Hey ... what are you doing in a place like this ..."
It was Shīna Yuliel who stood there. Perhaps she got pretty impatient and ran until she reached here, her long blue hair was messed up here and there.
"You too... why did you come to this place ..."
Nozomu asked with a surprised expression. He didn't know why Shīna was here. Shīna answered with an amazed expression as if she was wondering why she had to answer such a silly question.
"Of course I came to look for you. You didn't go back to school and suddenly disappeared… So, everyone has been looking for you."
Nozomu muttered with an unclear facial expression. Shīna came towards the soulless Nozomu, and she crouched down beside him.
"Yup~. Irisdina-san, Tima-san, Somia-san. Anri-sensei, Mimuru, Tom. Even that troublesome Feo is looking for you, you know?"
Shīna tried to speak cheerfully, but she couldn't change Nozomu's clouded expression. His lips were tightly shut and he refused to talk to her any more than that.
Nozomu and Shīna fell silent. Shīna glanced sideways, but Nozomu didn't seem to want to speak.
She sighed as she couldn't help it, and she started talking about what she could call a trump card she had heard from Irisdina earlier.
"I heard from Irisdina-san. About your power..."
A feeling of tension ran down Nozomu's face in an instant. Surprise and fear could be seen from the expression on his face. Shīna didn't know what he was afraid of, but she thought she had to talk anyway, so she continued to speak no matter what.
"Release of Ability Suppression. I've never heard of such an ability before. I haven't even seen it in a book in the school library."
Nozomu's answer was silence. Either he didn't want to answer or he couldn't. But Shīna presumed it might be both.
“Moreover, you fought against vampires of the Waziart Family and won. It was one of the seven clans that united the Dizart Empire. What you did is just like a very unbelievable story ..."
The story told by Shīna showed that Irisdina and the others knew how powerful Nozomu's power was. At the same time, the guilt for having kept hiding so much power swelled in Nozomu's heart.
"...Isn't that true? Stories like that are like delusions you can easily hear from anywhere..."
The words that somehow came out of Nozomu's mouth were painful words that seemed to be self-deprecating. Naturally, Shīna cut off meaningless words
"Sure. If they don't know you, they will judge you like that. That is if they only know the "Nozomu Bountis at school"..."
Shīna emphasized the words "him at school". That was as proof of her belief in Irisdina's story, and as a precautionary line to keep Nozomu from evading.
"But we already know. You're totally different from the person in the rumors. The abilities and personalities. Otherwise, you wouldn't have helped me who used to say harsh words to you."
Shīna laughed and smiled at Nozomu.
However, Nozomu couldn't see her smile. Let alone her smile, he was facing his head down and didn't even look at her face.
"...But I couldn't do my best back then. If I had fought with all my strength at that time, Tom wouldn't have been hurt and Shīna wouldn't have experienced something so unreasonable. I couldn't do anything even though I had power that I can use…”
The words that came out of his mouth were words of regret and confession as if he had condemned himself.
Nozomu felt guilty for not being able to remove the chains when Shīna and her friends were attacked by the black demon beast. Even though he knew he had to move forward, he screamed in his heart that he couldn't do it.
"But I'm grateful because you helped me face Mimuru, Tom, and the spirits again."
However, Shīna didn't blame him when she heard his confession.
It wasn't blaming words that came out of her mouth, but words of grat.i.tude. Nozomu looked at Shīna with an expression as if he didn't understand why she said such words.
"Sure, you may not have been able to use that power, but what you did helped me to understand what was important. Previously, I only thought about fulfilling my hatred and anger, and when I b.u.mped into a wall, you gave me a chance to remember that I had friends who supported me. Also, if you didn't come to help me back then, I would have been killed by that demon beast. "
Previously, Shīna's mind was filled with taking revenge on the black demon beast and regaining her hometown.
When she encountered the same demon beast as her past enemy, she confronted the demon beast while she was still caught up in her revenge, but as a result, she was greatly defeated without a fight.
In addition, Tom gets injured due to her selfishness, which then caused her to collide with Mimuru.
After that, while suffering from her own sense of responsibility and helplessness, Shīna left the injured Mimuru and Tom to Nozomu and tried to fight the black demon beast alone.
However, she couldn't compete with the black demon beast alone. The archery she practiced was unable to reach it, and she desperately asked for the spirit's help. However, her heart, which was unstable due to revenge and responsibility, did not reach the spirits who were frightened by the black demon beast.
Nozomu, who was chasing after her, appeared in front of Shīna, who already gave up because she couldn't do anything anymore.
“Why are you chasing after me!”, Shīna made such a loud voice.
Nozomu faced the black demon beast while saying, "You fool!"
After that, Shīna collided with Tom and Mimuru. They collided with their true intentions, and because they could understand each other, she was able to make a contract with the spirits. Finally, she was able to defeat the black demon beast. But that was also because Nozomu made it in time.
(That's right. You're not helpless. Even when you can't move forward, you're still desperate to help us…)
At that time, he was able to help Shīna and her friends many times. He served as bait for them to escape, provided a place for the injured Tom, and prepared food for them.
She didn't think Nozomu was a helpless person because he helped them even though he was having a hard time.
"And... if you had shown your strength back then, I'm sure I would have become even more impatient and thought if I could have that power."
As far as she heard from Irisdna's story, she determined that Nozomu's power when he released his Ability Suppression would be considerable. And his power was enough to fight against that black demon beast.
That's why, if she were to see Nozomu's power at that time, she would definitely be eager to get that power.
If that happened, there probably wouldn't be a chance for Tom, Mimuru, and the spirits to support her.
"That's why I'm content with this. At least that's what I think."
While staring straight at Nozomu, she declared with her dignified expression that this was fine. Nozomu just stared back at Shīna in a daze.
"Also, I get worried if you make such a miserable facial expression. That's why... umm..."
Nozomu's gaze was fixed on Shīna. In response to his gaze, Shīna suddenly felt her face heat up, and she suddenly became embarra.s.sed to see Nozomu's face, so she averted her gaze away. Nozomu tilted his head at Shīna, who suddenly changed her behavior. At that moment, a voice that could be heard from afar echoed.
"I found you~~~!"
Shīna turned her gaze towards the source of the slow-paced voice, and there was a shadow of a person rushing towards them while raising a cloud of dust. If they looked closely, the shadow was slender and feminine, but the dust cloud rising behind it was so great that neither of them could accept such a scene as realistic.
The shadow rushing towards them was Anri-sensei who was also looking for Nozomu. She rushed towards Nozomu in a hurry, and she jumped at him with all her might.
Nozomu couldn't receive her properly because he was shocked. Nozomu's body was pushed down by Anri. His back slammed into the ground with his face pressed against her chest.
"Why did you suddenly disappear~. I was looking for you~! I was worried about you~~! I didn't know where did you go~~ !!"
Anri-sensei shook Nozomu's body violently with her chest pressed against Nozomu's face. As he was sandwiched, Nozomu felt pain run up the back of his head together with a soft sensation on his face.
"...Anri-sensei, please calm down."
Shīna pulled Anri away from Nozomu. Anri looked dissatisfied, but Shīna naturally ignored her. The released Nozomu muttered Anri's name as if surprised by her sudden appearance.
"Nozomu-kun, are you okay~?"
The back of his head still hurt, but Nozomu couldn't take his eyes off Anri.
"Are you hurt anywhere~? Irisdina and everyone are worried about you~"
Seeing Anri's worried eyes looking at him, Nozomu finally realized the fact that everyone was worried about him. At the same time, he felt that he was not alone. What appeared in Nozomu's mind was the face of his master, who had a relieved smile on her face after he survived the death battle with Tiamat. For some reason, his master's face overlapped with Anri's face in front of him.
"Hmm? What's wrong~?"
She had the same smiling expression as usual. Her expression was warm and looked like his master when she was welcoming him home after fighting Tiamat. Perhaps, he felt compelled by that gaze, or because he confessed to Shīna that he had the power to defeat the Undead Dragon.
When Nozomu noticed, he naturally spoke the words he had been hiding until now.
"... I... What should I do?"
Anri tilted her head at Nozomu's words.
"...I've been hiding something. Believe it or not, actually, I have a way to defeat the Undead Dragon."
Nozomu suddenly started confessing. Anri didn't say anything, she just listened to Nozomu's words.
“Today, when we were attacked by the Undead Dragon, even though I had the power to do something about it, in the end, I couldn't do it… Because of that, everyone was injured…”
Nozomu's words stopped there due to his regret. Anri who was staring at the silent Nozomu slowly opened her mouth, and Nozomu was surprised by the words that came out of her mouth.
"Hey, Nozomu-kun. Why didn't Nozomu-kun consult it to your master."
Shīna, who couldn't grasp the conversation, was tilting her head, but Nozomu was unaware of Shīna's appearance and stared at Anri with his eyes wide open. It was natural. Nozomu had never told anyone about Shino.
"H-how did you know about Shishō!? I never told anyone..."
"Because~...Nozomu-kun, you used to use a sword instead of a katana at the beginning of the first year, right? If such Nozomu was able to learn so many katana techniques in just the last few years, I wonder if there was someone who taught you."
Nozomu gasped reflexively. No matter how talented he was, it wasn't easy to change from a sword technique to a katana technique on his own. Then it's normal to think that someone else taught Nozomu about katana techniques. It wasn't strange that Anri, who had been watching him since the first year, noticed that.
"...Yes, that's true. I had Shishō who taught me katana technique."
"Who is that person~~?"
"... She just pa.s.sed away the other day."
Nozomu's face had a sad expression. Anri who heard Nozomu's words lowered her head and apologized.
"... Sorry ~"
"It's okay. Shishō was able to laugh at the end ..."
It seemed that talking about Shino even a little was able to stimulate him. Nozomu started talking about the days he spent with her.
"After I was dumped by Lisa and trained desperately in the forest, it was Shishō who helped me when I was attacked by a demon beast. It was the starting point for me to learn about katana techniques, and every day after school and when there were no cla.s.ses, I was training with Shishō in the forest. "
Ever since he met Shino, he started using a katana instead of a sword.
The h.e.l.lish training days that started at that time. He ran around in the forest where the demon beasts were and repeated sparring that could cause serious injury even if he made the slightest mistake.
After receiving her teachings, he was desperate to survive every day.
However, Nozomu's tone was very gentle, contrary to the content of the story, and even a smile appeared on his mouth.
Nozomu talked about his days with Shino with an expression that looked like he was proud of his precious jewels.
He showed Shīna and Anri a different side of him compared to when he was at school.
"Nozomu-kun~, it seems that you really love that person~"
"... Yes. She was a very ridiculous person, and I was bullied during the training every time, but ... she was a very important person to me."
She was certainly a ridiculous person. Despite her extraordinary abilities and experience, she was childish on the inside, sometimes throwing tantrums and there were times when she broke into a smile due to sweets.
Nozomu trained with her for about two years. He didn't spend much time with Lisa and the others, but the time he spent in that hut still occupies a big part of Nozomu's heart to this day.
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"...At the end, Shishō told me, "It's fine to run away, but keep in mind that you've run away. Even if you run away now, if you don't forget about it, you will move forward one day." "
What appeared in Nozomu's mind was that Shino had a painful facial expression while holding the katana.
"... Somehow ... She had a very painful expression."
"Why does Nozomu-kun think your master had such an expression?"
"...I...because I didn't understand what Shishō truly wanted to say to me."
Yes, that's what Nozomu thought. At that time, Shino lamented that her intention was not conveyed properly to Nozomu. It must have been a heart-breaking feeling for her.
"...Is it really just about that~~?"
"Why did your master look so much in pain and about to cry~? Is that really the only reason~?"
However, Anri said there was another reason. Another reason why she almost cried, apart from not being able to convey her intentions properly.
When Nozomu heard Anri's words, Nozomu remembered Shino who spoke while shedding tears.
(Please, my last wish. Will you accept it?)
Shino's feelings gushed out and overflowed. She looked just like a lost child. An expression that seemed to cry at any moment because she was worried about whether she would be accepted.
"... Shishō was worried... She was worried whether I could properly accept her feelings."
"Yup. I'm sure I would feel the same~. Not everyone has the courage to talk about their painful past."
"...That's true. It's still hard for me to remember and talk about my family and hometown."
Shīna closed her eyes as she confessed and remembered. For her, the calamity that hit her hometown ten years ago remained a major scar in her heart.
Human beings are timid creatures by nature, they tend to hide things that are painful or unpleasant to them, and confessing it requires a great deal of mental strength.
What's more, Shino confessed to her only disciple. About her family and the feud with her sister that caused her to live in such a place. It wasn't hard to imagine how much anxiety she was suffering from.
"But, did Nozomu properly accept your master's feelings?"
"... Yes. Even though Shishō thought I might reject her feelings, Shishō still told me about her past, so I was able to release the Ability Suppression and face her properly."
In order to answer Shino's feelings who told him about her life and her past while crying, Nozomu released Tiamat's power for the first time. For that, he confronted Tiamat on the sh.o.r.e of that lake.
Tiamat furiously attacked Nozomu. It was no longer a battle, but a one-sided execution.
Tiamat came to kill Nozomu from the beginning, unlike when they fought for the first time. Nozomu couldn't beat Tiamat, who became serious. Half of Nozomu's body was eaten and chewed.
He was almost completely overpowered by Tiamat, but he never gave up.
He didn't give up until the very end, and his outstretched hand succeeded in stealing part of Tiamat's power.
The moment Nozomu took away part of Tiamat's power, Nozomu returned to reality and confronted Shino. He was able to answer Shino's feelings by fighting with all his might.
"Isn't that because you really want to accept your master~? Shīna-san, Irisdina-san, Mars-kun, and the others also want to accept Nozomu-kun, just as Nozomu-kun wanted to accept his master~."
"That's right! That's why everyone is looking for you right now."
Nozomu's fists clenched tightly. His trembling hands, his p.r.o.ne gaze, and his tightly bitten lips showed Nozomu's hesitation.
With such Nozomu in front of them, Shīna and Anri went in front of Nozomu and gently wrapped his trembling hands with theirs.
"It'll be alright~. Nozomu-kun"
"Yes. I think the current you can face them properly."
The warmth that slowly came from his palm gently guided Nozomu's heart.
"Both of you ..."
"Sure, you're a little hesitant now, but if you truly wanted to be able to meet the people you deem important, then you should be able to face them again."
Shīna's clear eyes continued to capture Nozomu. Her translucent skin and hair that received the moonlight were a fantastic sight. As Shīna stared at him, Nozomu felt as if a small spark ran through his heart. A small fire lit up in his chest. It was a faint and ephemeral light, but it was trying hard to dispel the darkness that had enveloped Nozomu's heart.
"You gave me the opportunity to understand what is important to me... I am very grateful to you. So this time I want to be your strength."
(I want to be your strength)
Her words popped in Nozomu's heart. The small fire that was lit in Nozomu's heart instantly burned in response to Shīna's words. And the heat radiated through his body causing blood to spring up throughout his body.
Next to Shīna, Anri-sensei had the same smile as usual.
Shīna said she wanted to help him and Anri kept smiling as usual.
The warmth and kindness of the two of them made Nozomu's heart, which had shrunk in fear, regain its vitality in a blink of an eye.
Previously, Nozomu told Shino that he had killed a dragon and become a dragonslayer, and was pointed out that he had been running away all this time. Nozomu, who had been running away, was forced to face reality. But after that, Shino's facial expression showed a smile of relief.
(…………Welcome back. You have worked hard.)
The words that Shino spoke. She didn't change even after she knew that Nozomu was a dragonslayer.
Because Shino was such a woman, Nozomu was able to reveal everything and accept the past that Shino confessed. The girls in front of him now had the same face as Shino back then.
Then, Nozomu once again asked himself what he really wanted now.
Irisdina. Contrary to her dignified atmosphere at school, she has a mischievous side, such as imposing sanctions on the geezer who did s.e.xual hara.s.sment through fortune-telling. And also followed her sister's date anxiously.
Somia. A bright and honest girl who is always smiling. However, not only that, she is a girl who has the power to behave brightly even though she is going through hard times.
Mars. He has a violent temper and a big physique. That's why everyone is afraid of him. However, he always obeys his sister willingly.
Tima. She's a little frail and usually timid, but for the sake of her friends, Tima will become serious and tries to protect her friends even if her opponent is superior.
The faces of his friends who were by his side and the memories he made with them flashed through his mind. It had only been a few months since he had met them, but they had become important people he didn't want to lose.
(I wish I could laugh with them again...)
“I… I want to tell everyone…”
When he said those words himself, his desire was clearly formed in Nozomu's heart.
(What do I want to do from now on? What should I do to do that?)
All he needed to do was tell his friends what he really felt. If he did not expose himself, his true intentions would not be transmitted to the other party. Sometimes, the truth may be ugly from a human point of view. And that might be disgusting. That is why it triggers fear and as a result, may be rejected.
But there was someone who wanted to help. Even if there will be others who didn't like his true self, that someone will still be there for him. Just like his master at that time.
He thought it was okay. There is fear. There is also anxiety. However, it seemed that he could move forward with just that one step.
"... Shīna, Anri-sensei. May I ask for a little favor?"
Just like Shīna and Mimuru, he wanted to face Irisdina and the others and laugh together once more.
(For that purpose, let's tell them myself, just like Shishō)
With that in mind, Nozomu decided to step forward again.
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