Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? 268

Shit just got real. The view from 60,000 feet.

268 – That which is hidden

Now then, having explained the current situation of the reincarnators the conversation is over, or perhaps not. Rather, I see that oni-kun’s main question is something else.

I decided to wait until oni-kun brings up his main question. He’s currently talking with the Demon King, something or other about oni-kun being entrusted with the 8th Army, a rather turbulent flow of events. Yup, I can’t do anything about that, so do your best oni-kun.

While at it, the Demon King is also trying to induce vampire girl into the army with a friendly smile. Saying that she’ll pass on that, vampire girl declines clearly with a friendly smile in return. Though they’re both smiling I can somehow see a fierce argument between them. Too bad, but I’m planning to have vampire girl compulsorily transferred to the 10th Army as soon as she graduates, so I can’t allow her to be taken somewhere else. Well, I can just wait and see whether she’ll participate in the war or not for now.

「Shiro-san. There is something I want to confirm.」

While the invisible fierce argument is going on between vampire girl and the Demon King, finally oni-kun brings up his main question. It’s obvious to see that he’s tense with a sense of “I’ve made my resolution”. Certainly, with such a mood I must also deal with him seriously. In an obedient manner, though saying that it probably looks normal from oni-kun’s perspective, I nod.

「Shiro-san, I want you to reveal what you’ve been hiding.」

What an ambiguous question. However, I understand what it is that oni-kun is trying to say. Or rather, I’ve predicted it.

From oni-kun’s behaviour to date, I can tell that he is being cautious about me. Also, with him being able to properly understand me despite me being of so few words, to the extent of him being so good at conjecture that I want to ask if he’s an esper, I was sure he would also be capable of understanding the hidden meaning within my words. From there, it was clear from his behaviour during the first conference with the Divine Word Religion that he was convinced that I was being secretive. Because oni-kun, while discussing with the Divine Word Religion, was also trying to draw information out of me.

Oni-kun has noticed. That I’m being secretive. He probably has no idea what about. If he did then he’d really be an esper, so despite everything even oni-kun doesn’t know, probably. However, I’m sure he expects that it’s not something good. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be so openly cautious and prepared for the worst while making this enquiry. And, his expectation isn’t wrong.

What to do. To talk about this, is to take a gamble. Upon learning, what choice will he make? I can’t predict that. Will he approve and become a cooperator, or instead will he object and become hostile, or otherwise will he look on as a spectator?

Whatever choice he makes, I will not condemn him. However, if he chooses to obstruct me, I have no intention of showing mercy. Even though that contradicts me telling the Demon King not to make a move on the reincarnators.

While thinking about this, it seems that my eyes have opened. Instead of with fluoroscopy, I directly look at oni-kun’s face with my eyes. That face is seriousness itself. Considering oni-kun’s accurate conjecture, I’m sure that he understands just how critical a question he is asking. Despite knowing, he still asks. Meaning that it’s not some superficial resolution. After all, it means that he’s prepared to confront me in the worst case scenario.

I will disclose what I’ve been hiding. That might result in him earning my displeasure. It’s not like oni-kun doesn’t realise that. In addition, to confront me, basically means the death of oni-kun. Despite knowing that, he still asks even so.

I too, better be prepared to make my resolve I guess.

I pull everyone here into another dimension. So that Kuro cannot hear. I cannot allow Kuro to hear what is going to be discussed now. The reason why I also brought vampire girl and the Demon King, is because if I’m going to tell oni-kun, then I thought I should also tell them at the same time. Particularly in the Demon King’s case, I would have to tell her soon enough anyway.

On suddenly being tossed into another dimension, oni-kun and the others were flustered and simultaneously extremely tense. I’m sorry to confuse them, but I want to get started already.

「The world is kept alive by the System. But, even so it is on the verge of death.」

While speaking, I put an opening into the other dimension, showing this planet from high above. Looking at this planet from space. At the other side.

Vampire girl and oni-kun gasp. There, the oceans are withered, and the land is covered in fissures across half the world.

Both in the human territories, and in the demon territories, only in those places are there no obstructions to abundant life. However, that’s limited to only those territories. If you take one step outside from there, then the land of this planet is completely barren. If you cross over the ocean, there is no ocean. The oceans are withered, and dry land spreads out. Even that land is covered in fissures, creating enormous valleys. Those rifts break into this planet. This broken form of a planet. The territories that can sustain life, are nothing but a small part kept alive by the System. For this planet which is in a state close to death, that is the limit of what the System can forcibly keep alive.

「Using the energy gathered by the System, restoration is performed on the planet. That is the main function of the System. However, in the current situation only enough energy is being collected to keep the System operational, and performing restoration is out of reach.」

In order to attack D, the majority of that energy was expended, and as a result the restoration of the planet was stopped. Vampire girl and oni-kun are looking at this scene with their breath taken away, but in actuality a considerable amount has been recovered. Based on sneaking a peek at the System logs, at the beginning, half the planet was literally broken. Broken and one step short of collapse. Since that period, it’s been recovered to the level of merely being fissures.

If a massive quantity of energy hadn’t been expended, complete recovery using the proper method should have been possible. Even so, that would likely have resulted in the souls of many people being unable to tolerate the strain and falling by the wayside. That couldn’t be helped. If the same soul is forcibly reincarnated too often, it’s inevitable for the soul to suffer abrasion. D also expected that to happen for sure. In the System, a facility was prepared in advance to shelter souls when they reached the limit. I activated that, and sheltered the souls of the people that oni-kun massacred. The sheltered souls will be rested for a while, and then reincarnated into this world. Although saying that, because a significant amount of time is needed to recover the damaged souls, in practice it’s better to think of them as having fallen by the wayside.

In the situation now with a massive quantity of energy having already being expended, we can’t anticipate complete recovery using the proper method. Saying it’s impossible, would be going too far, but at a minimum it would result in at least a quarter of the current population falling by the wayside. That’s the absolute minimum, and in the worst case it’s not impossible that they would be completely annihilated.

On top of all that, the soul of the Goddess, who functions as the core of the System, is worn out. Even now the Goddess’s soul suffers from considerable abrasion. As the Divine Word Religion determined, the Goddess does not have long to live. Currently, the Goddess is wasting away while keeping the System running after all.

If the Goddess’s life is exhausted, Kuro will succeed her position. Then, if my prediction is correct, Kuro will rapidly waste away, sacrificing all of himself to decisively restore the planet. For Kuro, watching over this world is for the Goddess’s sake. He won’t try to live in a world without the Goddess. Then, in order to save this world that the Goddess wanted to protect, he’ll die. To die in the same way as the Goddess, is probably the ultimate suicide method for Kuro. Then, with the two gods who serve as pillars sacrificing themselves, this world would be saved. With their souls dying out, they cannot even be reborn, imposing complete death upon them.

With my proposed method to destroy the System, using that energy to restore the world, the Goddess can be rescued without sacrificing her. However, with the Goddess already having exhausted herself to the extent that she cannot sustain her life, in the end she’ll only be able to return to the cycle of reincarnation. Her death cannot be averted. Still, complete extinction can be avoided.

However, that would be accompanied by sacrifices when the System is destroyed. For creatures with many skills, they would die from being unable to tolerate the shock the moment those skills are collected. In the worst case, their soul would also collapse. Because the System would be destroyed, it wouldn’t be possible to shelter their souls using the System either.

In short, with my proposed method, it means that many will be sacrificed in order to save the Goddess. If you object to that, then you have no option but to sacrifice the Goddess and Kuro. At the end of the day, those are the only two options.

I explain that without concealing anything.


Translation notes:

“That which is hidden” – the title this time is rather tricky to translate well. In Japanese it’s simply “ura” (裏) which in this chapter is used in two different but related senses: “the hidden meaning within my words” and “the other side [of this world]”. In a literary sense it normally refers to hidden things – to things that are the opposite of being in plain sight or obvious.

Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? 267
Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? 269