Between a rock and a hard place. No convenient cheats available either.
S35 – Two Options
「What will you do? It is fine if you are unable to make a decision immediately. However, please at least remember this – time waits for no one. In other words, even while you are struggling to decide, the situation is progressing.」
After we had received a general explanation from the pope, the three of us were sitting face to face in my assigned rooms. In this place which was the headquarters of the Divine Word Religion, apparently these rooms were provided for the Hero to stay in. I wasn’t accepted as the Hero by the world in general, or rather this was the first time I’d come here anyway so I hadn’t used them before, but now I was grateful to be able to use them. Katia and Sue had each been provided with their respective rooms, but right now we were gathered at my rooms in order to discuss things. However, even though this should be a discussion, nobody made any move to speak. An oppressive silence dominated the place.
It’s hardly surprising. Katia and Sue have both been taught the details of Taboo after all. Anyone who learned that would fall into an oppressive mood. On top of that, the discussions with the pope on what will happen next was more than enough to make the mood even heavier.
The pope has decided to fight. No. The fight has already begun. That was a fight to challenge the gods, to kill the gods. To save the people, kill the gods. In order to maintain this world, the pope has already made his decision and put it into action.
If what we’ve heard from the pope is correct, then this world has only two viable alternatives. One is what Wakaba-san and co are trying to do – destroy the System. With that method, the Goddess who has been supporting the world until now won’t be killed, making it possible to restore this world. However, in compensation for that, as a side-effect of the people having their skills forcibly removed from their souls, it’s likely that about half of the people living in this world would die. Not only would they die, but apparently many people’s souls would be smashed. If someone’s soul is smashed then they would no longer be able to reincarnate. In other words, it’s the ultimate death.
The other method is the plan being advanced by the pope and the one called the Black Dragon, who is probably the person called Gyurie that I saw in that dream. Though rather than calling it a plan, it’s more of an extension of what’s been done so far. In other words, to stop the plan of Wakaba-san and co, to allow the System to continue operating as is and to restore the world to a normal condition. With this method, people won’t be forcibly sacrificed in order to take the right path, making it possible to restore this world. However, in this case the Goddess who is currently supporting the System will have no hope of being saved and go beyond her limits. Then, after the Goddess has passed away, the same will happen to the Black Dragon who will succeed her as the core of the System.
According to the pope, considering the time it will take until the Goddess exhausts all her strength, followed by the Black Dragon sacrificing himself after taking over the System, it will just about be enough to restore this planet. Any shortfall will apparently be covered by collecting the energy produced during the battle between Wakaba-san and the Black Dragon. I was doubtful whether such a thing would be possible, but it seems this small scale world developed by the Black Dragon has the ability to do so. Then, if even that isn’t enough, then after this battle is over, yet another battle will be started in order to gather up enough energy. In the form of the Divine Word Religion vs the Goddess Religion. In addition, there’s also a scenario where the Divine Word Religion is destroyed by the people across the world who have been deceived by them all this time. In short, the pope and the Black Dragon are using their own destruction in order to save this world.
One faction would sacrifice half the people in order to save the Goddess and the world. Another faction would sacrifice themselves and the Goddess in order to save the people and the world. Neither of them are reasonable. With either method, the losses would be too great.
「Somehow. Isn’t there some other way? Isn’t there some way where nobody is lost?」
In spite of myself, I spoke out. There’s two people who seem about to fall off a cliff, but only one of them can be saved. Which one do you save? This all seems to resemble that question. Except in this case, neither option is good.
「None, probably. If there was such a convenient option, whether it was Wakaba-san or whether it was the pope, they would have chosen that after all.」
Katia states the obvious. I get it. With my head, I get that such a convenient option couldn’t exist. Even though I get it, I can’t help but think otherwise.
「No matter how impossible it is, onii-sama can achieve anything!」
Sue went and said that. The scary thing is that Sue doesn’t seem to be joking. Just how does she view me?
「Sue, you should consider the time and place to make jokes.」
Katia rebukes Sue while massaging her forehead, but Sue stares blankly. It wasn’t a joke.
「Anyway. This is a really important matter, so there’s no way I can immediately make a decision. There’s also Hyrinth and co who have been left behind at the elf village, so let’s put this on hold for now.」
I’m still not prepared to choose either option. If possible I’d return to the elf village again and meet up with Hyrinth and co to discuss it with them. That’s only if I have enough time though.
At that moment, the ground shook.
A tremendous jolt strikes my body. While I didn’t fall over because I was sitting down, the impact toppled the furniture. This is the first time that I’ve felt an earthquake in this world. But, I soon realised that this wasn’t an actual earthquake. The jolt came only once. Rather than how intermittent jolts continue during an earthquake, this was the sort of jolt that would come from some kind of large explosion nearby.
No, this isn’t “the sort of jolt”. It actually was due to an explosion occurring nearby! The proof of that is that I got wind of something burning with my strengthened sense of smell.
「Something’s happened! I’ll go check it out! You two wait here!」
「No, we shall come with you. It’s more dangerous for us to be separated. Let’s move together.」
In response to my suggestion, Katia immediately proposed an alternative. However, since we don’t know what has happened, it might be safer for us to move together.
「Got it. Let’s go!」
We left the room, and began to run in the direction of the smell. I could tell where to head for without having to think about it. The reason being is that violent explosions continued to occur.
What the heck has happened? What is going on? The questions are never ending, but for it to occur with this timing, it’s highly unlikely to be unrelated to the battle between the pope’s side and Wakaba-san’s side.
On arriving at the place where the explosions were occurring, there was a half-naked large man and a girl in maid clothes facing off against each other. Beyond them was the pope, a women who seemed to be trying to protect him, and a person whose gender couldn’t be distinguished from the face or clothing. Looking at the situation, the girl in maid clothes was an assailant, and it seems that the half-naked large man had come to face her.
「The Hero huh. Leave so that you don’t get caught up in this.」
That large man gave us that warning. Perhaps taking advantage of the opening made by him talking to us, the maid girl sprung forwards. However, the flames that sprung forth from the large man obstructed her. Even though we were some distance from it, the heat from the flames was terrible. Just when I thought that the maid girl wouldn’t get off lightly from taking a direct hit, she had suddenly moved far from the large man before I had noticed. My eyes couldn’t follow her at all.
「Status. Affinity. I am superior in both. Even if by some miracle you can break past me, there are still two more ancient dragons here. You’re checked.」
The large man pointed that out to the maid girl. I somehow felt pity in those words.
The maid girl silently began to activate magic. It was magic of the dark type. However, the invocation speed was unreal! Before I could blink an eye, a great number of magic shots were invoked, and rushed towards the large man.
They were slapped away by the androgynous person who had been at the pope’s side until just now. As if swatting away some bugs, that’s how easily those countless magics were erased. It’s not like the maid girl’s magic was weak. On the contrary, that magic was incredibly powerful. One shot of magic that wasn’t erased by the androgynous person carried on its course and caused massive destruction to the building.
「Damn. It’s going to collapse.」
Just one short. With just that one shot of magic, the building started to collapse. With all the cumulative great explosions that shook the building, with just the aftermath of the battle, the building had been pushed beyond its limits.
「Nier! Take Dustin and leave!」
「While I might be next in rank in Earth, I am far from being suitable as an escort.」
While listing some complaints, the woman carried the pope away on her shoulder.
「Hero party – you should also leave now.」
「We shall eliminate this.」
The genderless person and the large man said that while looking towards us. These people are, allies I guess? Since they protected the pope, they should be in the pope’s faction. Then, the hostile seeming maid girl is in Wakaba-san’s faction I guess?
「You were Ael, right? Two vs one. It goes against my principles, but if we don’t eliminate you here you might become an obstacle. Don’t think badly of me.」
The large man took a step towards the maid girl. However, before he even did that the maid girl turned around, then escaped.
「As if I’ll let you escape!」
The large man chased after her, and the genderless person also followed after him. What should I, should we, do then?
「Shun! It’s collapsing! Let’s just get away from here!」
Katia pulled on my sleeve and I came to my senses. There’s nothing we can do here. Besides that, if we don’t get away now, we’ll just get buried.
We ran away from the building that was beginning to collapse.
「I am glad to see that you are safe.」
On escaping, we were met by the pope who had left first. Although it was the pope who was being attacked, he still had the same gentle expression on his face. Seeing that expression really brought home the enigmatic depths in the pope. In that battle just now, I couldn’t do anything except look on in a daze.
「The fight has already begun. It has developed a bit faster than I was expecting though.」
The pope murmured that while gazing at the collapsed building. I thought that I would have a bit more time to think. However, it seems that’s not the case. At this very moment, the world is starting to move.
In addition, I became fully aware of this just now. I am… weak. We couldn’t do anything in that fight except to watch. If I’d tried to interfere back there, with my strength I wouldn’t have been able to do anything. It was such an intense fight that just the aftermath was enough to destroy the building. With my power, there’s no way I could have contended with that maid girl or that large man.
I’m fully aware – I am weak. I don’t have some kind of power that can change the world. “Somehow, somewhere, isn’t there some other way” huh. Even for those incredibly strong people, they are still being forced to make a choice where they have to sacrifice someone. How incredibly conceited of me to think that someone far weaker like me could do something.
There’s two options. Just two. There’s nothing else to choose from.
That is the reality in front of me.
Maid girl: First appeared in “The Second Informal Conference ②”. The Puppet Taratekt, Ael.
Half-naked large man: First appearance.
Genderless person: First appearance.
Woman who protected the pope: First appearance in the web novel.
In case it wasn’t obvious, the first spoken line is more of a flashback line from the pope that Shun, Katia and Sue were pondering over later. I added to and changed the first line of narration a little to make it a bit clearer.
The woman who protected the pope was referred to as “Nier”. In the light novel version, Nier is a level 95 Ice Dragon. She’s a sort-of replacement for the ice dragon that Wrath fights on the Magic Mountains and first appears in the 8th volume. She speaks with an old accent.