Chapter 5 Part 24
Translator : PolterGlast
Irisdina and the others ran around the city looking for Nozomu and Mars, but since it was getting dark, they decided to gather in front of the school's main gate once again.
Everyone was out of breath, and expressions of impatience could be seen on their faces.
"How was it? Did you find them !?"
"Not good. I didn't see them in the north section ..."
"The craftsman district is also not good..."
"I think they aren't even in the city ..."
Irisdina asked them, but the result was not good. All that's left were Tima, who went to look for Mars in the commercial district, and Shīna, who went to the outskirts. When Irisdina started looking for Nozomu and Mars, she immediately went to the men's dormitory. However, there were only the dormitory students who were surprised to see her, and no Nozomu and Mars could be found among them. She then ran around the city looking for them, but again she couldn't find them.
"Mars is probably somewhere in the commercial district, but Nozomu is ... Kuh~! Where are you ..."
Irisdina tried to stay calm while biting her lip.
If only she had asked him earlier… Such regret enveloped Irisdina's heart.
"Ai! Mars-kun... I found him!"
However, her best friend's voice reached her ears. Irisdina turned her gaze to the source of the voice and saw Tima and Mars rushing towards her.
Mars and Irisdina faced each other and were silent. All gazes directed at Mars were equally sharp. Mars gulped at their gazes, but he had already made up his mind, so he bowed deeply in front of them.
"Everyone, I'm sorry! All of you got into a dangerous situation because of me!"
A word of apology from Mars. Irisdina and the others accepted Mars' words with stern expressions.
"I know it's too convenient to just forgive me! So, just hit as much as you want!"
For a moment, silence flowed between them. Mars was still bowed down and waiting for their words.
Eventually, Irisdina slowly opened her mouth.
"...Mars-kun, who do you think you should apologize to the most? You know that, right?"
"...I know. If it's about Nozomu, I don't mind how much he hits me when we meet again. I'm willing to accept any humiliation! So that's why. Please let me search for Nozomu together with you guys. !"
"... I understand. Everyone, is that alright?"
Mars begged to be allowed to search for Nozomu with his head still lowered. Perhaps they accepted his apology, everyone nodded uniformly at Irisdina's words.
Mars was grateful to them for accepting him again even after doing such a thing.
"So, everyone was already gathered."
At that time, Shīna's voice echoed in front of the main gate. Behind her, they could see Anri-sensei, who shouldn't be with her.
"Shīna-kun! And also, Anri-sensei!?"
Irisdina and the others were surprised by Anri's appearance, but Shīna continued her words regardless.
"We found him"
Irisdina shouted at Shīna's words. She looked around Shīna in a hurry, but she couldn't see Nozomu.
"... But I coldn't see Nozomu tho"
"He went into the forest after we talked"
"What did you say!?"
Irisdina shouted when she heard Shīna's words. Perhaps because she was so emotional, she instinctively grabbed Shīna.
"Why did you let him go!? He's still injured, isn't he!?"
"Irisdina-sa~n! Please calm down~~!"
Anri was surprised by Irisdina who grabbed Shīna, but Irisdina was getting more emotional and approached Anri as well.
"Anri-sensei! Why didn't you stop him!?"
"Of course sensei and I tried to stop him! But he said he wanted to go there no matter what. Well, after we talked to him, we understood his feelings as to why he wanted to go there."
Shīna remembered Nozomu's appearance when he asked her for a favor.
(I want to calm myself down in Shishō's place for today. I'll be waiting at the hut where I guided Shīna, Mimuru, and Tom before, so I want everyone to come to that place tomorrow.)
Despite the anxiety and fear hidden behind his eyes, Nozomu still looked straight at them. Even though he was somehow still got pulled back by his grief, Shīna and Anri could still feel his strong desire to move forward.
What's more, he had chosen the place of his memories with his master as the designated place to talk to them. There was clearly no better place for him to solidify his will now.
"Nozomu-kun is~. Right now, he is at his master's place."
Irisdina and the others tilted their heads at Anri's words. It was Shīna who answered their questions.
"It was the person who taught him the katana technique. It seems that the place he went to was his master's house."
"... Yes, looks like his master is already pa.s.sed away..."
Shīna told Irisdina and the others that Nozomu was talking about his master when they were on the outskirts.
How he met his master and how he began to learn the katana technique. Every day he practiced and continued to swing his katana. And the last words left for him by his master before her death.
"Looks like Nozomu's master left a few words for him at the end, her words were "It's okay to run away. But keep in mind the fact that you are running away. Even if you run away now, if you don't forget about it, you will be able to move forward someday.""
Anyone could understand how deeply the two were bound just from those words. On the other hand, they haven't even been told that Nozomu has a master. Irisdina remembered the pain she felt at the bottom of her heart.
(Did Nozomu couldn't trust us that much ...?)
Such thoughts pierced her heart, and she felt like the time she had spent with him was gradually fading away.
Shīna glanced at Irisdina whose head was facing downwards, but she continued her story regardless.
"... And one more thing. He didn't talk about the true nature of his power, but his power might be more dangerous than we think."
"……What does that mean?"
Everyone present narrowed their eyes and waited for Shīna's answer.
"He said, there's another will in his power, and it thinks that the humans in this city are nothing more than food."
Irisdina's mind recalled the overwhelming power Nozomu displayed in the battle with Rugato.
The torrent of power even affected Rugato's magical power who was covering the mansion. Even such an S-rank powerful person was overwhelmed by Nozomu's power.
Such power. If she thought about it calmly, such overwhelming power would come at some cost.
Irisdina subconsciously bit her lips tightly.
It's no wonder Nozomu's appearance has been strange recently.
Even though she already realized something was wrong...
(Why didn't I ask him before…….)
Only regret eroded Irisdina's chest.
"Maybe he has been worried about that power a lot, and he doesn't talk to anyone and keeps suppress it into himself."
"...Does that mean he can't tell us either?"
Somia, beside Irisdina, muttered with a teary expression.
(That's not the case, Somia. It's because we didn't ask him…)
Irisdina tried to comfort her sister, whose tears were about to spill, but Irisdina's mouth couldn't utter those words.
"That's not the case. I think it's the other way around. He couldn't talk because it was important. I know because I have experienced it before. The more I suppressed my worries, the harder it was for me to speak. There were times when my heart became stiff and I couldn't move forward."
However, Shīna comforted Somia instead of Irisdina. She went towards Somia and bent down, gently caressing Somia's head with her hand to comfort her.
Irisdina's pain in her chest grew stronger. The back of her eyelids became hot and her tears were about to come out.
Irisdina desperately bit her lip and desperately tried to hold back her tears from falling. Shīna glanced at Irisdina's figure with a sideways glance.
"Nozomu is waiting for us at a hut in the depths of the forest. I know the location, so I'll show you the way tomorrow."
"A hut in the forest?"
Upon hearing Shīna's words, Mimuru and Tom look puzzled at first, but then they spoke with a surprised expression as if they had noticed something.
"Hey, Shīna. About that hut ..."
"Yup, Mimuru. That was the hut we evacuated to before. He asked us to be a guide there."
"Hey, Shīna. About that hut..."
"Yup, Mimuru. It's the hut where we took refuge before. He asked us to be guides when we went there."
Mars and the others were unable to understand Shīna's conversation. In addition, the disturbing word "evacuation" made their expressions even sterner.
"I'll tell the story tomorrow, I'll talk when we head to the hut. That hut is where he practiced his katana technique with his master, and it's an unforgettable place for him. Nozomu said he still wants time to think a little, so let him alone for today."
Shīna wanted to give Nozomu some time. However, Irisdina's voice interrupted her words.
"No-Nozomu is still injured ... So, he'd better rest in a proper place..."
"But that also applies to us. Even if we are familiar with the place, it is not a good idea to enter the forest at night when we are exhausted."
They could sense impatience from Iridina's words. Driven by the frustration swirling in her chest, she thought she should go to Nozomu as soon as possible and she tried to go to the forest. However, her words were immediately refuted by Shīna.
"... Stop it, Irisdina"
However, surprisingly, it was Mars who stopped such Irisdina from leaving. Shīna's words "everyone is exhausted" awakened his impatient heart.
"If he says we have to wait... so be it. He already said he'll talk properly, right?"
"Yes, he said he would."
Shīna nodded and answered Mars who was asking Shīna to confirm.
"Then that's enough for me... If it's him, he'll be fine even in the forest at night."
With the words he spoke, Mars was not the usual him which always carried his haughty atmosphere until recently.
"Ara? You're so obedient now. I thought you'd try to enter the forest alone just because it doesn't matter to you."
"...With the things I've done. I have no other choice."
Mars responded powerlessly to Shīna's bitter words. He had a self-deprecating smile on his face.
"Is that alright, Irisdina-san?"
The desire to meet Nozomu as soon as possible and the desire not to endanger everyone collided within Irisdina's heart. Somia, who was by her sister's side, gently grasped Irisdina's hand, which was clenching her lips. Feeling her sister's warmth transmitted through her hands, Irisdina slowly nodded at Shīna's question.
"Then, let's head out after school tomorrow. The meeting place is on the outskirts as usual."
As everyone parted ways after Shīna's words, Mars called out to her as she was about to return.
“Shīna, umm… I'm sorry about today…”
Mars bowed deeply and apologized. Shīna also didn't want to pursue it anymore, because she remembered she did the same thing not too long ago. Previously, when she fought against the black demon beast, she endangered her companions because of her mistakes.
"... Alright. I've received your apology. What you need to do next is to apologize in front of him."
"Yeah, I know."
She mentioned one more person that Mars should apologize to. With just those words, Mars understood it right away.
After returning to the mansion, Irisdina and Somia returned to their respective room after finishing their dinner. Irisdina fell onto her bed.
Special training and battle with an Undead Dragon. Irisdina's acc.u.mulated fatigue after she ran around Arcazam in search of Nozomu and Mars due to the misunderstanding between them reached its peak. Her heavy limbs and exhaustion all over her body immediately tried to lure her into her sleep. However, contrary to her sleepiness, her head refused to sleep, and she ended up sleeping and waking up repeatedly.
(What is he doing now ...)
Everything that came to her mind was his figure.
His appearance in her mind had his back turned towards her, and she didn't know what his expression looked like now. That's what made her even more impatient.
When she first met him in the infirmary, he was willing to help treat the injured student.
If she thought about it, it started after she felt that he was not connected to the rumored person, even after she found out that it was him.
The next time she met him was in the central park after school. The second encounter was when she saw him talking to her sister on her way to pick up Somia.
At that time, Somia was happily talking about making a new friend. But Irisdina never even imagined that person would be him.
Maybe he also didn't know that Somia's sister was Irisdina, he was surprised to see her with his eyes wide open. When she saw him, she teased him and made fun of him a little...
Her younger sister, who had been around aristocratic society since childhood, was sensitive to people who were hiding their muddy desires behind a mask of a smile. That's why Irisdina wasn't wary of Nozomu either.
And the incident that happened on Somia's birthday.
He saved Irisdina and her sister in an incident caused by the secret agreement between the Francilt Family and Waziart Family in the past. And after that, he even gave Somia a birthday present.
Nozomu didn't change his att.i.tude towards the two, even after he saved their lives.
For Irisdina and Somia who had seen adults changing their att.i.tude as soon as they had the advantage, it was probably inevitable that they would be attracted to Nozomu who never changed his att.i.tude towards them.
After that, Irisdina invited him on a date out of grat.i.tude.
Irisdina was often invited by men, but this was the first time she had invited a man. And she was very excited.
The palm of his hand held by her hand was warmer than she expected, and it was fun to see Nozomu fl.u.s.tered. She was so excited that her legs naturally moved towards even places she hadn't visited much.
They stopped at a candy shop. On their way, she eats the candy he made for the first time.
He had a tongue battle with Zonne, who he met for the first time at a fortune teller's stall.
She even told him to call her by her nickname. And she enjoyed seeing his panicked expression. And when she realized it, she peeked into his face as she walked beside him.
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Irisdina's gaze locked on her palm.
(What if they find out that I'm a dragonslayer... What if my powers go out of control...)
Such anxiety was further bloated due to the truth that Ken was throwing out and also due to himself, which was abusing his powers in a fit of anger.
The anxiety grows day by day and it resulted in a misunderstanding with Irisdina and the others. A distance formed between them due to Nozomu who couldn't reveal his secret and due to those who couldn't ask Nozomu.
It became even bigger due to the two never mingle together, and the crack between the two became even bigger.
And this time, their friendship tore and broke during the battle with the Undead Dragon. Nozomu, who hesitated to use his power at such a crucial time, and Mars, who went out of control because of his own selfishness, and Irisdina and the others that could ask him.
The anxiety grew by the day and it resulted in a misunderstanding with Irisdina and the others. A wall was formed between them because Nozomu couldn't reveal his secret and because they couldn't ask Nozomu either. His anxiety got even bigger because they never mingled together, and the gap between them became bigger.
And this time, their friendship was torn and broken during the battle with the Undead Dragon. Nozomu, who hesitated to use his power at such a crucial moment, and Mars, who was out of control due to his own selfishness, and Irisdina and the others who couldn't step forward to ask him.
"But Shīna and her friends can get over it ..."
What came back to Nozomu's mind was the appearance of Shīna and her friends who made a mistake in the same way as the current Nozomu and the others.
They couldn't calm themself down. It was because Mimuru and her lover were injured, and Shīna's overwhelming hatred towards the black demon beasts who robbed her of her hometown.
It became fatal because it happened when they were in a critical situation. However, in the end, they collided with each other's feelings and thoughts, understood each other, and were able to overcome the crisis. They looked very dazzling to Nozomu and inside his heart, he was envious.
“If I used that power at that time… the result wouldn't be the same, would it?”
Yesterday, when Nozomu went to the outskirts and waved his katana, the words Shīna had spoken to him resurfaced in Nozomu's mind.
She said she couldn't reconcile with Mimuru and Tom if Nozomu used the dragonslayer's power when they fought the Black Demon Beast.
(But I'm grateful that you helped me face Mimuru, Tom, and the spirits again.)
Even though Shīna knew Nozomu wasn't doing his best, she still thanked him. And Anri, who was by Nozomu's side, watched over him with the same warm expression as usual.
(I want to be your strength)
(Nozomu-kun, it'll be alright~.)
And he felt the warmth of their hands.
The words and the warmth of their hands moved Nozomu's heart again, who had been petrified from the feeling of guilt that he couldn't use his power. It gave him the courage to move forward again.
The sharp slash carved a line in the air. A vibrant sword dance that was completely different from when he was waving at the outskirts yesterday.
There are people by his side.
The joy made Nozomu take a powerful step. The muscles of his entire body interlocked perfectly.
The katana was swung downwards as if to slash through all of his obstacles. Indeed, his eyes still had anxiety, but now he had a strong desire to move forward again.
Nozomu swung his katana without stagnation. However, the katana he swung slightly shook. As expected, the fatigue that had acc.u.mulated all over his body couldn't be held back any longer.
(What are you doing! I don't remember teaching you such a dull katana technique!)
Suddenly, Shino's voice flashed through Nozomu's head.
Her angry voice never stopped when he was training in this place. Of course, it was impossible for the dead to speak, but Nozomu's gaze was locked on the katana and mortuary tablet.
(..I know, Shishō. I'll do it properly now, so please pardon me for the punishment...)
He knew she was gone, but Nozomu was still talking as if telling her through the mortuary tablet.
(In that case, you should do so quickly! Next time, my katana will fly to you instead of my words!!)
For some reason, Nozomu's eyes could see the figure of his master quickly taking out her katana and extremely compressing her Qi into it.
(... Shishō. Please don't suddenly attack your disciple...)
Recalling the nostalgic sight that was once his daily life, Nozomu's mouth naturally smiled. And then, he remembered the unreasonable punishment that had always befallen him, and before he knew it, he felt sorrowful.
Nozomu was swinging his katana for a while, and after he felt his fatigue had built up, he stopped swinging his katana, closed his eyes, and began to meditate.
This place reminded him of the time when Shino confessed about her past that she was betrayed by her sister and ran away.
Shino had a tearful expression despite slashing at Nozomu with *Phantom -Recurrence-* and hitting him with an even fiercer storm of slashes.
She was sad that she couldn't convey her thoughts and that Nozomu was trying to give up his life.
"It took me... a lot. To realize it..."
Shino could sense her own remaining time to live. She had tried to convey her thoughts to Nozomu by wasting all her remaining little time, which was far more precious than gold. If it didn't get through him, she would have wasted her precious time.
She had already made up her mind when she stood in front of Nozomu, but in her heart, she must have been worried whether Nozomu would really accept her after learning about her past. Otherwise, she wouldn't be begging him to accept her thoughts with a tearful expression.
It's natural for all humans to feel worried when revealing the past and the secrets that make them want to hide it.
Still, she advanced. To convey her thoughts even if she had worries and anxieties.
"I wouldn't have noticed if Anri-sensei hadn't asked me..."
Nozomu remembered why he could accept Shino's thoughts. It was because Anri asked Nozomu about Shino so he could understand it slowly.
Unlike back then, he is now the one who was about to confess.
He's still worried. There is also fear.
Even so, the two's words and the warmth of their hands supported Nozomu's back.
"I can't be like this forever..."
The anxiety that Shino had at that time. When she confessed that she was betrayed by her dear family and her lover, she must have been afraid that she would lose her loved one again.
But she went forward regardless. To convey her last words to Nozomu. And above all, she wanted him to accept her true self.
"In that case, I'll have to move forward as well..."
And there will come a time when he has to move on. Given the incident in the battle with the Undead Dragon, if he wanted to continue to be friends with Irisdina and the others, it wouldn't be good to keep hiding his power from them.
"They know that I have extraordinary power, but they don't know what it is..."
Irisdina and the others knew that Nozomu had extraordinary powers, but they did not know that it was the power of dragonslayer.
What kind of answer will they give when they find out the true nature of his power?
"Maybe... maybe I'll be rejected... But even so... I have to move forward, isn't that right, Shishō? ..."
By betting her life, Shino told him not to look away from the fact that he had been running away. Then, the figures of Shīna and her friends, when they collide their feelings and thoughts so they could understand each other, appeared in his mind.
It was Shino who told him not to turn away from the fact that he had run away. Then, the figure of Shīna and her friends as they collide feelings and thoughts in order to understand each other.
"If it's just talking ... it might not be enough…”
It might not be enough to just tell them he is a dragonslayer. He didn't know if they could understand the true nature of his power just by talking. The source of his fear lies in the depths of that power.
"... Can I release it in the first place?"
Yesterday's scene came back to Nozomu's mind.
In the face of his endangered companions, he tried to release his Ability Suppression, but the chains that bound him wouldn't budge.
"But once again ... surely this time ..."
When Nozomu was about to meditate again, the bushes behind him shook.
"... You guys have arrived"
There was no need for him to turn around. What he felt on his back was their presence. He hadn't seen them for just one day, but it felt like he had been away for a long time.
Nozomu turned around slowly. There he could see his school friends... no, they would become his true friends.
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