As ever, no such thing as a free lunch in this story.
Final Battle ⑫
Author’s comments: Katia’s perspective
Kyouya’s collapsed body turned into dust and disappeared. Immediately after having seen that happen with his own eyes, Shun collapsed without even trying to break his fall.
「I guess we’ve reached our limits as well.」
Darkness Dragon Reise-san calmly stated that. Afterwards, he approached the still fallen Lightning Dragon Gouka-san.
「Do you have any last words?」
「I’m sorry to say this but you won’t be able to eat anything anymore though.」
Gouka-san’s body took a powerful strike from Kyouya, becoming a tragic sight to behold. With Shun now unconscious, it is impossible to revive him. On top of that, Shun’s revival has a time limit. If it’s not done immediately following death, then there won’t be time.
「Busy over there. There’s not enough time.」
In the distance where Reise-san was staring with his head raised, the light of recovery magic shone. Just earlier, Light Dragon Byaku-san and Sue who had borrowed her power had been knocked flying. Although she was borrowing Byaku-san’s power, there’s no way that Sue could take a blow from Kyouya and come out unscathed. That’s something easy to imagine from just how remarkably far she was blown away, despite having her guard up. Recovery specialist Byaku-san is over there, performing Sue’s treatment. In short, she can’t afford to rush back here.
「Ah… when I die… it’s fine… to eat me. I’m sure I could satisfy your hunger.」
「You fool. Eating something so small wouldn’t be enough to satisfy us you know.」
I can’t tell if the words that Gouka-san utters are serious or a joke. In comparison, Wind Dragon Hyuvan-san responds in a very lighthearted tone. However, Hyuvan-san’s voice was trembling.
「Yeah. But, before I die, I better offer up myself as well.」
With the last of his words, Gouka-san’s body turns into dust like with Kyouya.
「……You fool. How can we eat you now. Right until the very end, you were one big fool you know……」
In a tearful voice, Hyuvan-san watches the dust from Gouka-san until it dissipates, while Fire Dragon Guen-san also covers his face with one hand.
「Somebody, make contact with Mr Ronant. Let’s withdraw for now and regroup.」
Amongst them only Reise-san was calm. You could even call him indifferent.
「How about waiting a little bit?」
Because of that, I reflexively admonished him.
「Even now Iena is buying us time. Will you let Iena’s self-sacrifice come to nothing?」
I couldn’t refute his response.
「Reise is correct. I’ll make contact.」
Guen-san says that while clutching his hand that Kyouya had sliced off. Shun has collapsed, everyone is covered in wounds starting with Guen-san. I’m almost out of MP as well since I’ve had my barrier from Chastity activated the whole time. If even I am in such a state, then it must be worse for Guen-san and co who were actually fighting I’m sure.
「Good grief. We can finally get away from this hot place.」
All of a sudden, Ice Dragon Nier-san shows up after having been out of sight until now. Just where have you been hiding all this time I wonder?
「Nier. Please go collect Byaku and Suelecia-jou.」
While complaining Nier-san obediently heads over to where Byaku-san’s medical treatment light can be seen.
Before long, thanks to Ronant-sama who came via Teleport, we retreated from the Elro Great Labyrinth.
「How’s the kid doing?」
「He hasn’t woken up yet.」
After returning to our base everyone got some rest. I was sitting next to the bed Shun was sleeping in, watching Shun’s condition.
「You should get some sleep too, jou-chan.」
「……I can’t sleep.」
Ronant-sama might be worried about me, but even when I closed my eyes I didn’t feel like I could sleep at all. Even though my fatigue has reached its peak.
「You’re overwrought aren’t you. It often occurs on the battlefield. In such cases though, once you reach your limit you’ll just suddenly collapse. Like this kid.」
Ronant-sama shrugged his shoulders while saying so. Even by just watching it, Shun’s revival by Kindness seems quite hard on him. He continued to revive Guen-san and co until he collapsed after all.
「However, with regards to the kid collapsing, there’s more to it than that. Isn’t there?」
Ronant-sama glares at the entrance to the room. Over there, Darkness Dragon Reise-san was standing.
「I’ve lived a long time after all. Though not at much as an ancient dragon of course.」
Going by Reise-san’s words, it was like he was confirming that he was hiding something. Something… about Shun.
「What do you mean?」
「Don’t glare at me like that please. It’s not like even I had known in the first place.」
While saying that, Reise-san approached the bed, and peered into Shun’s face.
「Didn’t you think that it was strange? Reviving the dead – a miracle that should be impossible. Even with the System in this world that’s still the case. Rather, precisely because the System exists, reviving the dead and the like shouldn’t be allowed. Despite that, don’t you think it’s much too cheap for it to just cost MP to make such a miracle occur?」
Now that he mentions it, that’s right. In the video games of my previous life revival magic was commonplace, so I was under the impression that it was just one of those things, but in reality things like reviving the dead are nothing short of a miracle. Then, once you’ve heard that much you’ll get a bad premonition. A bad premonition that’s more like conviction.
「He’s… eroding his soul.」
I make a short gasp of breath. The scene of Kyouya turning into dust crosses my mind.
「If he continues to use revival, before long his soul will shatter. If that happens, whether the System exists or not he’ll no longer be able to reincarnate. Rather than dying, he’ll become nothing.」
Dying is terrifying. But becoming nothing is even more terrifying. That will happen to Shun?
「It seems that reincarnators have a protective wall around their souls. However, that’s now gone because he continued to use Kindness. He was able to use Kindness in rapid succession because that protective wall existed. So it was like giving aid to one’s enemies, though I’m sure she hadn’t intended that.」
Reise-san’s words pass over me. Kyouya, by his own will, offered up his soul. He decided to become nothing, which is even more terrifying than death. He faced this battle having resolved himself to that great an extent. In comparison, what about me? There’s no way that I had resolved myself that far. In addition, because I carelessly pushed him forwards from behind, Shun is also facing the risk of becoming nothing. My mind went blank.
「How many more times can I use Kindness?」
「Shun!? You’re awake!?」
Before I knew it, Shun had awoken.
「……Now then. I’m no expert in souls either. Maybe there won’t even be a next time, or maybe you’ll be able to keep using it for quite some time.」
「Shun, you must not use Kindness any more.」
「……There’s no way that I’ll do that though.」
Shun is sitting up in the bed.
「The one who had decided to fight, was me by myself. Since Kyouya has shown me what this battle is about, it’s too late for me to run away by myself isn’t it.」
Shun clenched his fist, staring at it.
「I hadn’t resolved myself enough. Therefore, I will resolve myself.」
In his eyes, there was no longer any hesitation. The one who hadn’t resolved themselves, was me.
「……Sorry. Please leave me alone for a while.」
Once Shun said that, I stood up. I couldn’t think of any words to say to him.
「I’ll bring something light for you to eat later.」
「Sure. Thank you very much.」
Then, we left the room together.
「You said that you didn’t know, right? However, you expected it, hadn’t you?」
Ronant-sama asked that of Reise-san.
「Otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to correctly guess the condition of something invisible like the soul, right?」
「! You what!?」
That means that in short, he had expected that the more Shun used Kindness the more abrasion his soul would suffer, yet he allowed him to use it.
「You’re laying blame at the wrong door if you’re accusing me. I don’t remember forcing him to use Kindness. He carried out everything voluntarily you know.」
「Even if you didn’t force him, you still encouraged him.」
「Well of course. If not for that we couldn’t have beaten that oni.」
It’s frustrating, but he’s right.
「You saw Gouka at the end, right? In this battle, whether we win or lose we intend to offer ourselves up.」
「That’s the resolution we’re facing this with okay. I hadn’t expected that the enemy would be the same though. Do you people have that resolve?」
「So you see, that’s why we cannot afford to lose. For that reason we’ll use everything we can.」
I couldn’t say anything back. Because I was lacking in resolve.
「Hah! Aren’t you just using bold words to deceive others?」
That was, Ronant-sama interrupting while looking sullen.
「I don’t care what you have resolved yourselves for. Is it so admirable to have such a thing? Is it a good enough reason for a boy with a long life ahead of him to ruin his future? Can you proudly say that you are right when you are secretly using him?」
This time it was Reise-san’s turn to go silent.
「……I am used to playing the bad guy.」
「Hah! Well, whatever. I’m sure that no matter what I say it’s too late for you to change your ways. However, you should bear it in mind that you have enraged me by this incident.」
「I shall engrave it on my heart.」
Saying so, Reise-san turned around, walking away from us.
「Jou-chan, if you’re going to quit you better do it now okay?」
I wouldn’t be able to deny that I wasn’t attracted by Ronant-sama’s words. However.
「I will follow Shun.」
That is my responsibility for dragging Shun into this battle after all.
Skill compensation: Fundamentally, skills do not use the System’s energy. That’s because if skills used the System’s energy that would have the opposite effect of what the System was intended for. The skill user is the one who pays all the compensation for using skills. Titles such as Hero are the exception.
“He was able to use Kindness in rapid succession because that protective wall existed. So it was like giving aid to one’s enemies, though I’m sure she hadn’t intended that” – this seems to have intentionally been left vague in the original. So who is “her” in this case and where did this “protective wall” come from? Given that Reise refers to “her” specifically and “giving aid to one’s enemies”, this couldn’t be D or Sariel. So the only other “her” known to be capable of doing such a thing and who would be regarded as an enemy is Shiro.
So what is this protective wall and where did it come from? If you refer back to chapter 246, we see this: “The little trick I’d prepared earlier was for protection on sensei’s soul”. This was a protective barrier Shiro put around Oka-chan’s soul to prevent Potimas from infesting her soul again with his soul parasites. It’s possible that Shiro applied this protection to others, though I can’t find a direct reference.
Perhaps the more likely explanation is due to Shiro intending to protect the reincarnators and some others when she collapses the System. In chapter 269 Shiro says “I will expand the System’s soul sheltering functionality, improving it so that at least the reincarnators can be saved.” We never get the details of how this was implemented though, but given that it is something intended to survive the collapse of the System it’s reasonable that Shiro set up something in advance to protect or reinforce the souls of certain people. If so then Reise is saying that it also helped Shun use Kindness in rapid succession and without it Shun would have collapsed much sooner and perhaps have already destroyed his soul. This would also mean that if/when the System collapses that Shun’s soul would also collapse.