1

Vol 5: Chapter 5

「I’m so glaaaaaad~, Bochaaaaaan… Ugugu, Ugu~」

Due to the commotion I caused, a large bouncer-like man appeared from the back of the guild and kicked both Zerry-san and I out of the guild. We were sitting at the road side of a back alley, and Zerry-san was rubbing her tear-streaked, runny nose face on me. My cloak got even more dirty.

Because of my iron claws, Zerry-san had five red finger marks on either side of her face. But seeing that her happiness outweighed the pain… makes me happy, after all. My nose became a little stuffy too.

「Tell me, Zerry-san. Why are you here?」

I wiped her wet face with my handkerchief. But even more snot dripped out of Zerry-san’s nose. To think a grown woman could cry like this…

「I-I was actually in the Lev Empire until we made a magic tool which told us that bochan was still alive…」

…It is truly amazing that they were able to create a magic tool that could determine if I was alive. I am glad I didn’t remove the bracelet from the Lev Magic Empire.

「After finding out that you were alive, I knew that you would come back somehow.」

It seems that she wanted to do something to contribute. The red crack in the sky was now called “Red Gate”. And the “Black Sky Pirate” – Lark – has been fighting the monsters to maintain the front line, but there have been no significant developments as of yet.

Everyone in Silver Balance is cooperating with the re-investigation of the “Labyrinth of 9 Emotions”. If La-Fisa’s mechanism was able to connect the two worlds, then by studying the mechanism, they might be able to close the hole in the sky.

Indeed, I would have done the same thing without any prior knowledge.

But I have【World Alliance】right now.

The world looks different when viewed through this.

Currently, I don’t have a solution as to how to close the gate, but I feel like I can find a different solution using【World Alliance】.

Above all, I am most worried about Lark.

「Umm, Zerry-san. Lar– I mean, how does the “Black Sky Pirate” look? Healthy?」

「Healthy? …No, I don’t know. I’ve never seen her before. Whenever she returns from battle, the Empire takes great, great care of her.」

「I… see.」

I thought she would be used as a weapon.

She doesn’t seem to be treated badly. Rather, she’s the hero if the front line is maintained because of her.

But… I am still incredibly uneasy.

I have witnessed the power of【Shadow King】.

A little girl was able to chop adults into pieces, and even slashed a dragon, the mediator of this world, right after obtaining the skill.

Lark shouldn’t be able to use magic, so she isn’t consuming mana… She is consuming something else which can produce that kind of power.

「…What’s wrong, bochan? Why are you looking so sad after reuniting with me at long last?」

「Ah, no, I am incredibly happy to meet you again, Zerry-san…. So why did you come to the Holy City?」

「The only thing I can do is gather other adventurers.」

According to Zerry-san, the Lev Magic Empire has opened up its national treasury, putting up huge rewards and assembling adventurers. Not only to increase fighting power, but the transportation of food is also necessary because a large number of soldiers are stationed in the country. Naturally, those jobs would require escorts, and the Empire would bear the entire cost—it is Zerry-san’s job to circulate that information.

Adventurers are skeptical about too good to be true money, especially when they are told that the normally secretive Empire will be paying for it.

That is why Zerry-san was spreading the current state of the Empire.

It seems that guilds in various places also wish to hear live information from the Empire, so Zerry-san gets a guild permit which allows her to use various transportations for free.

(Everyone is doing their best.)

Everyone from Silver Balance, Zerry-san, and of course, Lark.

「Let’s go, Zerry-san. Let’s go close the Red Gate!」

I clenched my fist and stood up.

「H-Hey, bochan? What do you mean close? Bochan~!」

Zerry-san screamed from behind as I started walking.

「There are no more carriages available today!」

……Oh, right.

** Lev Magic Empire ・ Queen of the Night **

Two girls were sitting side by side on a sofa in a dimly lit room of Queen of the Night.

The girl in black cloak and purple combat uniform slouched on the sofa as if completely exhausted. A mysterious liquid clung to her clothes, which began cracking after drying. It was bothersome for the girl to change clothes or to take a bath.

The other girl wore a one-piece, which seemed to be made of high-quality materials despite its simple design, and she was holding the left hand of the exhausted girl.

Golden light oozed out from the hands of the second girl, which wrapped the other girl’s left hand.

The light was similar to the hair color of the two girls—the blonde hair colour of Lark and Eva.

The two were locked eyes with each other.

Droplets of sweat and wrinkles formed between Eva’s eyebrows. Lark, who was deathly pale and completely tired, seemed to gradually gain some colour into her skin.

「—Okay, that’s enough.」Lark said.

「But…」

「You’re pretty worn out too. I’m going to sleep for a little while.」

「Ah……」

As Lark stood up, she staggered for a moment, unintentionally holding Eva’s head for support. And then she left the room.

Eva was using “Magic Eye of Inspire”. It is a special “Magic Eye” which is passed down the lineage of House Sillys. The Magic Eye of Inspire can arouse a desire to fight in those who look into those eyes, and it can also share vitality and mana to those who are close in mind and heart.

「—Eva, are you done?」

Eva’s father, Earl Sillys, entered the room. The Earl was taken aback when he noticed his daughter sitting on the couch tired, and rushed to her.

「Are you okay?」

「…Yes, I can handle this much.」

「Are you feeling dizzy?」

Eva tried to stand up, but immediately sat back down on the spot. Recoil from using “Magic Eye of Inspire”.

「You have not mastered the magic eyes yet. I have repeatedly advised not to overuse it.」

「…But this does not amount to much when compared to Lark-sama who fights on the front line.」

「Be that as it may, Eva, who will heal Miss Lark if you neglect your health?」

Earl Sillys knelt beside Eve and took her hand in his, like a knight guarding his princess.

After Reiji acted as an escort for House Sillys and the turmoil that followed “Skill Orb Awarding Ceremony” had subsided, the Earl no longer hid his love for his daughter. She was confused by it, but tried to accept it.

The bond between this father and daughter was deep.

「Father, have you heard about how Lark-sama fights?」

「…………」the Earl nodded.

Lark heads out every single day. As soon as she enters the Empire through a long tunnel at the checking station, she quickly heads to the front line.

Buildings and remaining roads were still maintained around the checking station, but the degree of destruction increases as you approach the Red Gate. Monsters which have been defeated cannot be recovered for parts and are left untouched. They wanted to burn the carcasses to prevent widespread decay, but the fire could grow into an out-of-control wildfire, so that idea was scratched and the remains were left as is.

Venturing further, not only the remains of monsters, but also the equipment of soldiers from different countries and corpses under collapsed buildings could be seen. Corpses cannot be recovered in places where the fighting is fierce.

Lark wields her black sword in such a place of carnage.

Her black sword cuts through a gorilla monster whose skin was as hard as metal, a mantis monster with a sickle that was as tall as a human, and a viscous slime monster that sprayed strong acid.

Some monsters were intelligent and some were not. The soldiers kill the small monsters which devour the corpses of monsters to grow, and Lark appears whenever they face a monster too powerful for them to kill.

In other words, Lark inevitably fights only strong opponents.

「…Many soldiers become her shield and advance while protecting her. The Empire has been generously handing out Magic Gears, but fuel supply has begun to run out and they are greatly relying on Miss Lark now.」

「Yes… Lark-sama has been extremely fatigued these past few days. I want to ease her burden as much as possible.」

Eva squeezed her father’s hand.

「But Lark-sama also tells me not to overdo it, father. I am also protected by Lark-sama… It hurts when I think that.」

Many people have witnessed Lark’s battles. And to protect Lark, her companions bravely stand with her—even the sky pirates.

She kills monsters like she is the real monster. Everyone who has seen her fighting intuitively knew she was literally “cutting her lifespan”, but they don’t put it into words. Because Lark is their last ray of hope.

「If I have to endure one hour of pain so that Lark-sama can feel comfort for an hour, I am willing to take on that role. That is my duty as a noble.」

「Eva……」

The Earl was thrilled by his daughter’s growth, but he also didn’t want his beloved daughter to go through this pain.

Is there a way to solve the Red Gate problem?

Among the methods being sought, the one that was thought to be the most accurate was the capture of the “Labyrinth of 9 Emotions”. A meeting on the capture results and analysis should be held right around this time.

The person whom Earl Sillys requested to join him in this campaign was also participating in the meeting.