Gray said something under his breath that I couldn’t quite catch. A moment later he said —
“Don’t be ridiculous!”
Suddenly, Gray withdrew his sword and swung it at me. I twisted my body to avoid his attack but it still managed to hit me in my left shoulder.
“What are you doing!?”
“What are you doing!? Once it becomes a little dangerous you just give up? I’ve been in your situation and if there is even the smallest amount of hope left you have to keep going!”
I’m confused and can’t understand this sudden transformation in Gray.
Gray continued on with an indescribable expression.
“All of them! I lost all of my precious friends! I chose the same, desperate, path as you! I can’t stand to see someone lose a precious friend again!”
“…are you talking about your past?”
I remembered the other guard telling me about Gray’s past.
“Yeah, that’s right. In a last desperate attempt to save my friend I tried to do the same thing as you. But I was a fool. I sacrificed the lives of all of my other friends in a vain attempt to save my friend, but I had no choice! Even if it was nearly impossible, I had to do everything I could to bring them back!”
“Yes, I can understand how you felt. If there’s even a slim possibility of it working, I’ll do whatever I can to help Claudia.”
“Right!? Everyone is the same. We’re the same! Desperately, desperately, desperately sacrificing everything to bring back a loved one, just to fall into despair when you fail!”
He raised his sword again, but this time I was expecting it. I moved to the side to avoid his attack.
“I offered to help you because I knew you’d fall into despair just like me. By seeing you try desperately and sacrifice everything, I could know that I didn’t make the wrong decision! I could know that I didn’t get everyone I loved killed for no reason! Once you fell into despair like me, I could be there to comfort you! So why are you acting so calm!?”
I think I understand him. I thought he may be wracked with guilt knowing that his decision led to all of his companions dying.
But now I’m wondering if the Yandere skill isn’t restricted to women —
Such a strong trauma like that would almost certainly never fade. My skill likely amplified the feelings he had for what happened back then and add on to that, the fact that it’s still currently Yandere time, and it’s seeming more and more likely that he might be Yandere.
No matter what the case, that doesn’t matter.
Right now, Gray is just an obstacle between me and saving Claudia.
I need to first get out of here and heal my left shoulder — to do that, I swung my sword towards Gray’s face. However, Gray easily avoided the edge of my sword.
“It’s useless! You certainly are strong for a rookie, but your skill is still hardly better than that. Even if I have retired from being an adventurer, I’d never lose to you in a fight!”
I can tell what he’s saying is true. Even though I can tell I’m faster and can react to his movements well enough, I can’t land any hits on him.
Our difference in physical strength is as clear as our difference in technique.
On top of that, I no longer have the full use of my left arm so I can’t swing my sword effectively. I could tell that it would be impossible for me to defeat Gray — so, I decided to run as fast as I could.
“Huh!? You think you can run away!?”
I don’t even have time to respond. I continued running away at full speed. I encountered several Garum on the way, but I couldn’t stop to deal with them.
I hoped that some of the Garum would change their target to Gray, but they all seemed focused on me.
“Aaaah, why!? Why are they all chasing after me!?”
“You can’t do anything about it! They’re drawn to the scent of your blood!”
“– Guh! Really!?”
I wasn’t able to avoid his first attack and I’m in this situation because of that. If I continue running, the number of Garum will increase and I’ll be trapped.
I decided I needed to stop this now. I turned to face Gray and swung my sword with only my right hand towards his stomach.
“You’re wide open!”
By swinging my sword with only one hand, I can’t stop my forward momentum and lost my balance. Gray took this opportunity to slash at me.
I threw my sword out and rolled to avoid his attack. I looked back and saw Gray’s sword swinging through the empty space where my head used to be.
“Haha, that was a nice move, but what do you plan on doing without a sword!?”
Gray said this with a look full of joy. I could tell he expected me to fall into despair, but I can’t let him win.
…is there anything I can use as a weapon?
That’s right! I opened my item box to find the dagger I had bought earlier with the sword. If I have that…no, I’d be fighting with an unfamiliar weapon. Could I even win with that?
I need to somehow catch Gray off guard.
“Just give up already. Once you do, we can wait for 24 hours to pass together…after that, once you’ve fallen into despair, I’ll be here to comfort you.”
Did his friends willingly sacrifice their lives to help him? Or did he develop this Yandere trait back then and not allow them to give up? Whatever the case, I can’t allow him to stop me from saving Claudia.
I pretended to give up — at the same time I found the dagger in my item box and…I readied Firebolt using no chant.
Even with no chant, the light from the magic circle appeared below me.
— Damn it. There was no point in trying to use magic. Even worse, my magic casting is even slower than normal right now.
“Do you think I’ll let you do that!?”
Gray slashed at me once again. The moment I moved to dodge it, the magic formation below me disappeared.
Ah, I forgot about that. With Firebolt at rank F, I can’t cast it while moving. I can’t believe I forgot that even though I’ve already had that happen to me before.
And, while still shaking with anger, Gray swung his sword at me once again. I quickly pulled the dagger out of my item box and parried his sword.
“…where were you hiding that dagger!?”
We stared across at each other through our crossed blades. I can survive even with only one arm, but Gray definitely has the advantage as long as he can use both of his arms. He continued pushing me back slowly.
“It’s already over! Just give up!”
“As if I’d ever give up!”
I desperately tried to push back against his sword but it wouldn’t budge.
If he’s able to stop me here I won’t be able to save Claudia. I clenched my teeth and tried to overpower him.
Suddenly, the power behind Gray’s blade seemed to increase exponentially. The force behind the blade sent me flying back and I came crashing down on the floor.
“…what…what was that?”
While trying to remain conscious, I forced my upper body up off the ground. As I opened my eyes I saw something right in front of me that I didn’t expect to see.
There was a gigantic Garum looming over me. This Garum was larger than any bear I’d ever seen on Earth.
“Wha-!? That’s the fifth-floor boss! — When did we enter the boss room!?”
Gray, who also now noticed the large Garum, screamed in panic. He immediately turned to run away, but the boss Garum was far too quick. It closed in on him in an instant and slashed at Gray with its right leg.
The claws of the Garum connected with Gray’s body and he was sent flying across the room.
The power behind that blow was ridiculous. Gray’s lifeless body came crashing to the ground across the room.
The Yandere man that attacked me no longer moved…and I’m afraid I’ll be in the same position as him soon. Right now I’ve lost my sword, I only have a dagger, my left arm is injured, and I can barely move.
And the fifth-floor boss is standing before me.
I tried to retreat while the boss Garum was focused on Gray, but by the time I managed to take a single step, the boss Garum quickly moved in front of me to block my exit.
The same attack that killed Gray hit me — but I had just seen him take the same attack. I was able to reduce the damage by blocking it as much as possible.
I was still forced back several metres and fell on my back.
But, I can’t die here. I have to save Claudia. I quickly jumped back to my feet and, at the same time, the boss Garum leapt towards me.
I gave up on blocking its attacks and tried to counter instead. I moved below its claws and sprung forward to bury my dagger in its skull. However, due to either its thick coat or its skull, the dagger wasn’t able to penetrate very far.
And — I was once again sent flying by its followup attack.
I have to get up. If I don’t I’ll be killed and I won’t be able to save Claudia. Even though I know this, my body won’t respond.
“Damn…it…something…there has to be something!”
It would be difficult to kill this thing with only my dagger. Would Firebolt work? No, I should use my healing magic first.
But, just before the magic circle was done forming, the boss Garum roared.
— And I finally knew the despair that Gray mentioned.
Four magic circles formed around the boss Garum. From them, four more Garum appeared.
“…this can’t be happening.”
The difficulty is just too high compared to the previous floors.
I can’t do anything against this — I considered giving up for a brief moment, but I can’t give up here. I have to save Claudia and to do that I must find a way to defeat these enemies.
I forced my body to stand and rushed towards the chest of the boss Garum. I was able to avoid its first attack, but the boss Garum whipped its body around and sent me crashing to the floor again.
Due to the tremendous shock of this attack, my consciousness faded even further.
“Damn it… I can’t die here….”
I tried to force my body to stand, but it would no longer listen. And so, the boss Garum and the four summoned Garums surrounded me — I was killed and eaten.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.