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Ryuu Kusari no Ori -Kokoro no Uchi no “Kokoro”- Chapter 6.29

Ryuu Kusari no Ori -Kokoro no Uchi no “Kokoro”- - BestLightNovel.com

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Chapter 6.29


"Nn~. Where is this ...~!?"


Lisa Hounds woke up feeling lethargic all over her body.


At first, her eyes were unfocused and she looked dazed, but then she remembered what had happened to her and sat up as if she had been jolted.


When she woke up, she saw an abyss of darkness spreading across the entire sky.


"Nozomu ..."


She crouched like a child inside the pitch-black darkness where even her sense of direction could go astray.


A feeling of loneliness consumed her heart as if she was the only one left in the world.


"I'm sorry, I'm sorry ..."


Words of apology leaked out of Lisa's mouth.


She wondered how much she had hurt him and why did she keep throwing such terrible words at him.


She knew more than anyone else how single-minded Nozomu was. She should have known that better than anyone else.


Lisa was struck with regret and guilt, but she could only ask for forgiveness from the person she had hurt.


At that moment, something wriggled beyond the darkness of the abyss.


"~! Who !?"


Perhaps in response to her voice, the jet-black s.p.a.ce undulated as if in a whirlpool. What appeared from the other side of the vortex, which had begun to turn reddish-black, was a shadow that was even darker than the pitch-black darkness that covered its surroundings.


Step by step, the shadow approached as if it was crawling towards her. Lisa felt a chill like a snake crawling up her spine and backed away involuntarily.


Eventually, the black shadow took on a humanoid form, and a man appeared, crawling out of it.


"Ke, Ken ...?"


A childhood friend who appeared in a place that didn't seem real at all. However, Lisa shuddered as she remembered what he looked like before he came to this place.


Ken's crimson eyes shone and he attacked her while shouting strange voices. Lisa clearly remembered being engulfed in a black liquid that didn't look like human blood that spurted out when Ken's body was sliced open.


On the other hand, Ken crawled out from the shadows, looking at Lisa with a big smile on his face.


It was the usual smile that made her feel joy from the bottom of her heart. However, to the current Lisa, it looked like the smile of an inorganic wax figure.


"Lisa ... Now we can be together forever..."


"W-what are you talking about? ... And that arm ......."


More than anything, Ken's current figure in her eyes gave her a real sense of the abnormality.


Lisa's eyes were glued to Ken's right arm, which had been deeply slashed by Nozomu. There was a reddish-black lump of flesh covering the entire arm.


However, Ken did not seem surprised at all when he saw the ugly lump of flesh that would make anyone who saw it want to throw up. On the contrary, he looked at the lump of flesh with loving eyes.


"Oh, this is my power. Now I can continue to protect you."


"S-stop!"


Lisa involuntarily gave a word of refusal to Ken, who approached her while rubbing his cheek against his right arm. However, Ken never stopped walking.


"You don't have to worry about it. Now, I have the power to protect you. They gave it to me. A power that won't lose to anyone else ..."


"No, it's not like that. I'm, I'm just ..."


Lisa shook her head at Ken, who could only find a reason to be with Lisa with such power.


"Why, why……"


"What are you talking about now? You're the source of all this, aren't you?


Lisa raised her face at the stagnant tone of voice she suddenly heard and saw red eyes appearing in the ma.s.s of flesh on Ken's right arm, looking right at her.


"M-me? ..."


"Yes, that's right. You denied him. You rejected him. Do you think you can go back with him now?"


There was no way she could go back to Nozomu now. What she had been thinking in her head was struck clearly by someone else's voice, and a fatal crack appeared in Lisa's spirit.


"It's all your fault, it's all your fault, it's all your fault ..."


"A, aa, aaa ..."


Repeated voices of impeachment. Each time, the crimson eyes on the abyssal wall surrounding her opened and blamed Lisa.


Through the cracks in her spirit, the cold voice that entered her gradually took away the heat from her soul, robbed her of the will to live, and killed her spirit.


Lisa's vision slowly darkened in front of the approaching Ken and his red eyes. She could only mutter her repentance to Nozomu, whom she had hurt.


====================================


The darkness that spread out before him made his spine feel like it was bubbling up, but Nozomu stood firmly on his feet.


"So this is the inside of the predatory barrier..."


Glaring into the still unseen depths of darkness, Nozomu spoke to himself as he saw the abyssal darkness that spread before him.


"Where is Lisa ......? d.a.m.n, I can barely see ahead."


He was at a loss with the darkness that spread out in front of him. He didn't know which way he was facing, and he couldn't find anything to point him in the right direction.


According to Zonne, the inside of the predatory barrier had become a different world, so he had no idea how far this dark world went. There was no way to find Lisa in this situation.


(Nozomu-kun, can you hear me?)


"Shīna?"


(Thank G.o.d, you're connected properly.)


A relieved voice echoed in Nozomu's head. Apparently, Shīna had checked to make sure that the path was connected properly. Nozomu was also relieved to hear his companion's voice.


This is the domain of that demon beast. To be honest, anything could happen. Even at this very moment, as Nozomu spoke, he was in danger of being attacked.


In such a situation, Nozomu must have felt a little nervous, but now that he was a little relieved, he had a smile on his face.


"... Do you think you could tell me where Lisa is? It's too dark, I can't see anything."


(Wait a minute. Um ...)


As of now, Nozomu was connected to his friends outside through Shīna using contract magic.


Shīna tried to search inside the predatory barrier through Nozomu, but before she could locate Lisa, Zonne's voice interrupted her.


(Kid, just go straight for now. There is a strange place where I felt a strong presence of that Abyss Grief or some other beast. The red-haired lady is probably there.)


Nozomu was surprised to hear Zonne's voice suddenly interrupting him in the middle of the conversation, but the old man didn't care about his agitation and continued talking.


(For that beast, the young lady is also important to stabilize the host. She's not just food to fill its stomach. At the very least, it's not something it can just eat and be done with. Elf lady, you can sense the presence of the beast, can't you?)


(... Certainly. I can definitely feel the presence of that beast in the area ahead of us ...)


"You can tell?"


(Somehow ... When I fought it before, I was more focused on the spirits who were scared of it, but now I think I can tell.)


While listening to Shīna's words, various speculations flashed in and out of Nozomu's mind.


She had sensed Abyss Grief's presence when they had encountered it in the forest before. From that fact, there seemed to be no reason to doubt her words.


However, if Shīna, who could sense spirits, could also sense it, then could that demon beast be close to a spirit?


"... Old man. Is that beast a spirit?"


(It's close to that. The body itself has taken over another living being, but its essence is similar.)


The essence, or the structure of its body, is built from the same source material as that of a spirit, Zonne continued.


This clear statement made Nozomu's suspicions about Zonne rise up again in his mind.


No, there was no one who wouldn't be bothered by this old man. The way he was acting was so unnatural.


He never told them who he really was, but he advised Nozomu and the others. Moreover, the content of his advice was something that even Jihad did not know.


Furthermore, his abilities were completely unknown, but they were not to be underestimated. The evidence was that he had brought the strongest in the school, Jihad, to his knees.


And even now, Zonne could sense Abyss Grief's presence before Shīna did. There were so many things that would be impossible under normal circ.u.mstances.


But Nozomu shook his head, suppressed his own doubts, and exhaled to change his mind.


"... I guess I should stop thinking about that here."


He was concerned about Zonne. But for now, he needed to concentrate on saving Lisa.


With that in mind, Nozomu stepped forward, and suddenly he felt an intense pain in his head, like a spear piercing him.


(Gaaa! Let me out! Let me out of here! Let me kill that guy!)


"Ugh~! Again, what the h.e.l.l are you talking about? ......"


Tiamat began to rampage again. Nozomu gritted his teeth and endured the gut-wrenching headache.


"That's enough", he swore in the back of his mind, and after enduring the pain for a while, Tiamat's angry voice slowly faded away.


"Haa, haa ... please, just be quiet for now."


Eventually, the pain subsided like a receding tide, but his head was heavy.


But he couldn't just stand there, so he stepped forward in the darkness of the abyss.


"Lisa, where are you!"


He raised his voice and shouted Lisa's name. Perhaps in response to his voice, something wriggled beyond the darkness.


While squinting his eyes, Nozomu approached cautiously, one step at a time. His hand was already on the hilt of the katana at his waist, ready to pull it out at any moment.


Eventually, he saw a young man who was about the same height as Nozomu.


Nozomu's brow frowned at the sight of this familiar figure. The young man standing with the left half of his body facing Nozomu definitely belonged to Ken Notis.


"So, it's Nozomu ..."


"Ken ... where's Lisa?"


In a low voice that seemed to echo in the pit of his stomach, Nozomu questioned Ken about Lisa's whereabouts. His gaze was sharper than ever, and tingles of anger and fighting spirit leaked from his body.


But Ken glanced at Nozomu, and a slight smile appeared on his face.


As he turned to look at Nozomu head-on, the right half of Ken's body, which had been hidden, was revealed.


The right side of his body, covered in a ma.s.s of reddish-black flesh, was pulsating with reddish-black veins.


What caught Nozomu's attention more than anything else was the huge red eye in his right hand.


Nozomu could feel intense hunger and hatred that wanted to kill and devour everything in sight from those eyes. An intense negative obsession, like a rotten, bottomless swamp.


It was definitely the Abyss Grief, the black demon beast he had met in the forest.


"Geez, this is not your turn yet ..."


Nozomu's brow frowned at the tone of Ken's voice.


"Ken, you've been completely swallowed up, haven't you? ..."


Ken didn't seem to be the least bit concerned about the changes that had occurred to himself, and he was just like a monster with a smile on his face.


A cold sweat ran down Nozomu's spine. The expression on the face of the person in front of him was Ken's, but his body showed an incredible amount of negative emotion.


This emotion could not be compared to the Abyss Grief that he had encountered in the forest before. Compared to the grudge that emanated from Ken's body now, the demon beast of that time was like a puppy.


"Lisa is ... already mine ... "


And then his eyes, stained with rage, turned to Nozomu. At the same time, Ken's swollen resentment burst forth.


"~!"


Before Nozomu had a chance to think, his body was moving on its own.


The moment he quickly turned his head away, a huge blade pa.s.sed by, slicing through the wind. A blade covered in jet black. It was extending from Ken's red-black right arm.


The whip-like tip of his right arm had transformed into a thick blade like a machete, similar in appearance to the tail of the Abyss Grief Nozomu had seen in the forest.


"Tch~!"


A moment of heightened Qi raged through Nozomu's entire body, making him feel hot as if his whole body was on fire.


Ken raised his outstretched right arm and tried to strike Nozomu in the head this time.


Nozomu quickly leaped to the side and escaped the path of the falling blade. The next moment, a huge blade struck the ground along with a thud sound.


Nozomu flew backward to distance himself.


Both glared at each other. At that moment, the darkness that had covered the area gradually cleared up.


Gradually, the surroundings came into view. And when the whole place of that s.p.a.ce became clear, Nozomu covered his mouth at the sheer ugliness of it.


"~ !?"


(This is……)


(Hih~!)


It was, in a word, a s.p.a.ce covered with a wall of flesh.


From four-legged beasts such as wild dogs to subhumans such as goblins and orcs. It was like a child's clay sculpture, with all kinds of demon beasts mingling together and shouting vindictively.


It looked as if the demon beasts were devouring each other, or lamenting.


(... I see, a predatory barrier is a good way of putting it.)


Jihad's voice, muttered gravely, echoed in Nozomu's ear. The other members of the group seemed to be at a loss for words, and the only thing that could be perceived was the hint of them holding their breathing.


In such a h.e.l.lish world, Ken was the only one who retained half his human form. It looked strange, but it also seemed to symbolize the chaos of this world.


"This time, Lisa is mine ..."


As Ken spread out his hands to look up at the sky, a spherical object floated up from the flesh-covered ground.


Just like the Abyss Grief, it was a dusky black sphere that looked like a sludge the size of Ken's body. As soon as Nozomu saw it, his whole body felt a shock as if lightning had struck him.


There was someone inside the black sphere.


She was floating in the black sphere, holding her knees, and exposing her beautiful limbs.


Her distinctive long red hair was that of the girl Nozomu was looking for. She was Lisa Hounds that Nozomu had been looking for.


Ken lovingly stroked the sphere in which Lisa was trapped with his left arm. But Lisa's expression remained blank and didn't move.


Lisa's face was completely devoid of emotion. There was not a trace of the cheerful girl that Nozomu had once been attracted to.


"~ !!"


Nozomu's head boiled in an instant. As if in response to his rage, his entire body overflowed with Qi.


The hand that grasped the sheath made a creaking sound, and Nozomu's whole body trembled with anger.


The next moment, with a resounding explosion, Nozomu rushed towards Ken at once.


The katana in his hand already had an extremely compressed blade of Qi enveloped to it.


"You too, be my nutrition ..."


Ken's consciousness and Abyss Grief's consciousness were mixed up, and his tone was already not that of a human being.


The ground beneath Ken's feet rose. An egg-shaped ma.s.s of flesh the size of a person's lower half appeared. There were several of them.


And then a crack appeared on the surface of the lump of flesh. Something appeared from within.


What appeared were jet-black demon beasts. Some of them took the form of dog-shaped beasts, while others took the form of goblin-like figures.


There was also a creature like a praying mantis, and even a bird-like demon beast with a body the size of a human arm.


However, all of them had a black body surface like the Abyss Grief and a single eye that was dyed red like blood.


"Gyugaaaa!"


"Kishaaa!"


With deafening cries, the demon beasts followed their creator and attacked Nozomu at once.


They bared their fangs, showed off their claws, and approached to devour the person in front of them to the soul.


"Get out of my way!"


Nozomu drew his katana.


He cut down the three four-legged demon beasts that had leapt towards him with a single slash.


The body of the beast in front of him was much more vulnerable than the Abyss Grief he had fought in the forest before. It was probably one of its p.a.w.ns.


Stepping over the carca.s.ses of their comrades that had been cut down, the goblins now leaped towards Nozomu.


In a fluid motion, Nozomu's second slash was unleashed.


They were about to jump on Nozomu when Qi technique [Phantom -Recurrence-] cut them down at once.


However, there were too many of them. After cutting off all the goblins, Nozomu was now attacked by the black birds.


Nozomu decided that he couldn't be bothered to fight them all, so he lowered his posture and tried to break through the flock of black birds that were coming towards him at once.


"Ouch! Guh~!"


The claws and beaks of the black birds ripped into Nozomu's clothes and skin as they flew at him.


But that was not enough to stop Nozomu. With both feet on the ground and all his strength on his hips, he made his way through the flock of black birds like a s.h.i.+p traversing through the rough seas.


As the flock of black birds pa.s.sed him by, the next thing he saw was a black insect with a huge sickle in its front arms.


"Shaa!"


The jet-black mantis propped itself up on its hind legs and spread its sickle as if to show off its own majesty.


Then, as if to pinch Nozomu's body in between, it reaped the sickles of its arms from both sides at once.


The huge scythes closed in on Nozomu. However, the cleaved scythes couldn't catch Nozomu's body, and they vainly cut through the empty air.


The next moment, a flash of light s.h.i.+nes, and the severed mantis scythes flew through the air. They were severed by a slash of katana enveloped by [Phantom -Clad-]. Moreover, the blade descended from the top of its head and sliced the black insect in half vertically.


After breaking through the crowd of demon beasts, Nozomu ran in a straight line towards Ken without stopping.


"Haa~, haa~! Haa~!"


His little remaining Qi was consumed at once, and Nozomu's breathing became ragged.


Ken raised his right arm, which had turned into a deformed form, and swung it down.


His attack speed couldn't be compared to when he was fighting outside the predatory barrier.


"~!"


Nozomu managed to dodge the blade that was approaching faster than he could see with his [Instantaneous Movement -Curve Dance-].


The blade slammed into the meat floor right next to him, splattering countless pieces of flesh and black bodily fluids. Nozomu frowned at the strange smell.


Furthermore, the right arm that was struck down was cracked, and countless needle-like blades were standing upright towards him.


"Tch~!"


Seeing a familiar scene, Nozomu swung his katana before he could think.


At the same time that Nozomu's katana, enveloped in Qi, drew a circle, Ken's whip-like right arm exploded. Countless black needles were scattered all around.


It was definitely Ken's [Crawling Snake Fang] ability.


"Gah~! Ku~u! It could use Ken's ability too!"


Countless needles easily pierced through the Qi film created by Nozomu's [Fan Shaped Sail] and pierced his body. Obviously, Ken's current attacks were more powerful than the previous ones.


In addition, Ken's right arm, which had been stuck in the ground made of flesh, swelled and swung upward while sprinkling the carrion on the floor.


Before he could evade it, Nozomu's body was flung off by Ken's right arm.


"Zu~a!"


A shock ran through his entire body and air leaked out of his lungs.


Nozomu gritted his teeth at the opponent in front of him that produced more power than ever, even with such an unstable mind.


But even so, Nozomu couldn't choose to give up. He managed to roll on the ground to lessen the impact of being slammed into the ground and stood up.


But Ken was already in the position to launch another attack.


Countless jet-black icicles flew through the air. This was no doubt that this was also Ken's magic, [Icicle Dance].


The icicles floating in the air attacked Nozomu in rapid succession.


Nozomu once again tried to evade with his [Instantaneous Movement -Curve Dance-]. The icicles were closing in on him, and Nozomu was unable to close the gap.


No, even if he stepped forward while avoiding the rain of icicles, the fact that Ken's jet-black [Crawling Snake Fang]s could no longer be blocked by Nozomu's [Fan Shaped Sail] meant that Nozomu had no way to close the gap between them.


Furthermore, something arose that further pushed Nozomu over the edge.


The ground made of flesh was rising again, and a demon beast was coming out of it. However, the demon beast that appeared was far more threatening than the one that had appeared before.


The creature that appeared in front of Nozomu's eyes was three times the size of Nozomu, with limbs as thick as logs. The three-eyed giant Nozomu had once faced roared.


"Gaaa~a!"


"Tch~! There's even a Triclops!"


The red-eyed giant rushed toward Nozomu, who was desperately trying to avoid the icicles that were pouring down on him.


Ken's [Icicle Dance] seemed to have a complete grasp of the Triclops' movements, and there was no sign of the icicles piercing its huge body.


There was nothing Nozomu could do if the Triclops intervened in this situation. He would either be pierced by countless icicles and become a bizarre object or crushed into a lump of flesh by the giant's mighty arms.


In the blink of an eye, Nozomu was trapped in a critical situation. The only thing left to do was to release his Ability Suppression.


Nozomu grabbed the invisible chain that bound his body and tried to tear it off with all his strength.


However, even before this, Tiamat, who was sealed in Nozomu's body already rampaged three times.


(Aaaa !! Kill ! Kill ! Kill !!)


"Gah~!"


while letting out a breath of anguish, Nozomu desperately endured the pressure because Tiamat trying to break free through his body.


But the actions of the giant dragon that continued to rampage inside Nozomu's body caused his hands to temporarily stiffen as he tried to release the Ability Suppression.


And by the time Nozomu realized it, it was already too late and the Triclops had raised its arm in front of Nozomu's eyes.


"This is bad……"


It was already too late to evade. The only thing Nozomu could do was to desperately force his stiffened legs into taking a half step backward.


"Gah ...!"


A powerful impact ran through Nozomu's body as if he had been hit by a dragon.


[Mumei] fell from Nozomu's hand. He was blown almost parallel to the ground, and his body slammed into the flesh wall at the edge of the barrier.


At the same time, the wall of flesh swelled and tried to swallow Nozomu.


"With this, this is the end ... Be relieved. I'll always be by Lisa's side and protect her ...... always."


Even in his dazed state, Nozomu tried to crawl out of the wall of flesh that was trying to swallow him up.


But even with all the strength in his arms and legs, Nozomu's body was still numb from the shock of being blown away by the Triclops' stiff-arm earlier, and he was unable to move against his will. In addition, Nozomu's Qi was also at its limit.


A sense of weariness from the exhaustion enveloped Nozomu's body. In addition, the still rampaging Tiamat was wearing down Nozomu's spirit even further. His vision was hazy, and his throat, which was painful due to hyperventilation, leaked a hoa.r.s.e voice.


(Oi, Nozomu-kun! Can you hear me !?)


In the dim consciousness, Nozomu heard Jihad's voice outside the predatory barrier in his mind.


"Jihad ... -sensei?"


A voice full of power, which was not like his normal self, rang in Nozomu's ears.


(Hear me out. Do something to separate that Lisa-kun from the Abyss Grief! That way, it won't matter if we break the predatory barrier from the outside!)


He might still be able to save Lisa. Remembering this possibility, Nozomu looked down at the invisible chain that bound him along with the wall of flesh.


If he destroys this, he may be able to overcome this situation.


Of course, if he were to release his Ability Suppression, the sealed Tiamat would happily try to devour Nozomu's body and let the hatred that overflowed from its body do its work.


The giant dragon was raging with a hatred that had never been seen before. It was doubtful that the current exhausted Nozomu would be able to hold back the dragon.


However, Nozomu's hand was slow but steady as he tried to grasp the invisible chain.


Yes, Nozomu had come to this school determined to protect Lisa. Until now, it had been an excuse to escape, but now he might finally be able to fulfill that promise.


It didn't matter what form it took. He was going to give it his all here and now so that he could walk forward together once again.


Just as he was about to put all his strength into his right hand that had grabbed the chain, Zonne interrupted his resolve.


(Wait kid. Don't release your Ability Suppression!)


While wondering why Zonne knew about the Ability Suppression, Nozomu asked the voice that echoed in his dim consciousness.


"What ... are you talking about? When should I use it … if it's not right here right now?"


(The 'lizard' inside you is on the rampage right now, isn't it? In addition, your soul is also exposed to attacks from the outside. If you were to release your ability suppression in this state, there is a high possibility that your spirit would be crushed from the inside and out! If that happens, it will be irreversible!)


What Sonne was saying was not wrong. Tiamat's rampage this time was very different from before.


Previously, Tiamat had tried to deceive Nozomu to revive itself, but now it was taking a more forceful approach.


And the pressure was so intense that it was hard to describe.


It was as if his head was being clamped in a vise, and the pain was so intense that it felt as if his internal organs were being torn apart.


On top of that, the Abyss Grief was trying to eat Nozomu's body and soul from the outside.


(That's why you have to save the young lady without releasing your Ability Suppression!)


The outrageous statement made Nozomu question Zonne's sanity.


What in the world is this old man talking about?


If Nozomu were to release the Ability Suppression and use his power, he might be able to save Lisa from being devoured by the Abyss Grief ...


"There's a good reason! The connection with the soul is much deeper than with ordinary contract magic! The effect they have on each other is nothing compared to this contract magic! The boy can't control his power, and that young lady's soul is already at its limit!


(There's a good reason for it! The connection between our souls is far deeper than that of ordinary contract magic! The effect on each of us is nothing compared to the usual contract magic! You, boy, have no control over "that" power, and that young lady's soul is already at its limit!


If her weakened mind is eroded, and she was also directly exposed to the power and hatred of “that guy” leaking from your soul, that young lady's soul will be shattered!)


These words made Nozomu hesitate as he tried to release the Ability Suppression.


If he were to release it, Lisa might die.


He was supposed to be here to save Lisa, but Nozomu's action would end up killing her in her weakened state. It was ironic, to say the least.


"Then ...... what should I do !"


Nozomu gritted his teeth in frustration. A feeling of hopelessness filled Nozomu's heart.


(Get a grip, kid! Remember what I told you!)


In a daze, Nozomu recalled Zonne's words. Come to think of it, didn't the old man say that Nozomu's power lay elsewhere?


His consciousness was foggy and he could not think properly.


Perhaps frustrated by Nozomu's behavior, Zonne raised his voice in an impatient tone.


(This is not the time to be buried in those creepy walls! Or what, did you have a hobby of taking pleasure in such places? Uwa, dirty! What kind of fetish do you have?)


The words were oddly encouraging.


"... You're the only person I don't want to be treated like a pervert from, old geezer."


(Nozomu-san, are you okay !?)


(Nozomu! Never do anything ras.h.!.+ If you die, you won't have any children!)


The Francilt sisters were so worried that they raised their voices. Judging from the urgent tone of their voices, they could not agree with Zonne's reckless suggestion.


Nozomu's smile naturally returned to his lips at the thought of his friends who were thinking about his safety.


"That old man sure is making some crazy suggestions. He's as reckless as s.h.i.+shō ..."


He made up his mind. Nozomu exhaled loudly to get himself together and relaxed his entire body.


"... Alright, I'll do it. I'll go with your idea, old man."


(Nozomu !? Stop it !!)


(Wait! What are you saying out of the blue?! Think about what you're going to do a little more!)


Irisdina and Shīna's loud voices echoed in Nozomu's head. Their voices were already close to screams.


Nevertheless, he didn't think there was any other way. Even though they were connected by contract magic, it was basically difficult for them to intervene directly within this barrier.


While apologizing to Irisdina and the others in his mind, he let go of the invisible chain he was holding.


As if he had been waiting for it, Tiamat and Abyss Grief began to squeeze Nozomu's spirit even more.


"Ga, gaaa! Guuu~u ..."


A burst of shock continued to a.s.sault Nozomu's entire body.


It was painful and agonizing.


The intense pain that was running through his entire body was getting worse and worse, robbing Nozomu's body of all sensation.


The ringing in his ears was numbing his hearing, and his vision was already painted white.


His heart continued to beat as if it was about to burst, and his whole body was burning as if it were on fire.


(Shīna-kun! Increase your synchronization rate with Nozomu-kun! We'll share our senses and put up a barrier around Nozomu-kun's spirit to lighten the burden on him as much as possible!)


(Eh?! If I do that then ......)


(You must do as Inda-dono says. I don't know what's going on, but it's the only way to reduce the strain on his mind right now!)


Inda and Jihad spoke up as Nozomu focused his attention on himself.


What Inda and Jihad had suggested was to deploy a barrier to Nozomu's spirit through the path, to reduce the burden on him as much as possible.


It was certainly possible to do so if they were deeply in tune with Nozomu's spirit.


However, if they increase the synchronization rate of the contract magic, the person who was going to put up the barrier will also suffer the same pain that Nozomu was experiencing.


The sensation of having their soul chipped away by a legendary dragon and an unidentified demon beast. If they made a mistake, they would definitely go insane.


There are so many other factors to worry about. To be honest, no one had ever heard of anything like this happening.


Besides, there were so many other factors to worry about. Honestly, no one had ever experienced anything like this before.


(Don't worry, not only Inda-dono, but I'll also be in sync with her to reduce the burden as much as possible. Don't worry. I'm old, but I'm st.u.r.dy.)


(Then I'll also do it. Shīna, I'll leave the maintaining of the contract magic to you.)


And when Jihad agreed to sync with Nozomu, Irisdina followed him.


Mars and the rest of the group came up one after another, asking to be in sync with Nozomu.


As expected, there was no way for all of them to be in sync, and Irisdina was the only one other than Jihad and Inda to be chosen.


(Mars-kun, when it comes down to it ......)


(I know, we'll just use my skills and Tima's magic to smash through that barrier, right?)


Mars and Tima were left behind because the two of them had the most destructive abilities among the remaining members other than Jihad.


Mars' combination technique and Tima's attack magic. Both of them were difficult to control, but in such case of an emergency, they had no time to choose a way to destroy the barrier in front of them.


"Geez! Everyone is so selfis.h.!.+"


Shīna's voice rose in anger, but she carefully explored the paths of four people and strengthened their connection.


The spirit of the four began to synchronize deeply. Deep wrinkles appeared at the corners of Jihad and the others' eyes, probably due to the partial flow of the pain Nozomu felt, and greasy sweat began to break out all at once.


(Nozomu-kun! As I said before, if we all decide that we're at our limits, we'll destroy this barrier from the outside, no questions asked. Do you understand?! Because I don't take a no!)


Despite the shouts of anger from Shīna, Nozomu's cheeks relaxed after hearing the words of his friends.


With the support of his friends' encouragement, Nozomu closed his eyes and focused on his inner self while enduring the pain in his body.


The ringing in his ears became more and more distant. It was as if he was sinking to the bottom of the ocean.


On the other side of the pounding heartbeat, he could see a faint light.


A ball of light colored in five different colors. It was a small ball of light that could fit in the palm of his hand, but it gave him an unfathomable sense of power.


It was Tiamat's power that had tormented and saved Nozomu so many times before.


But what Nozomu needed now was not this power.


Deeper. Nozomu was sinking to the far bottom of this lake.


He wondered how deep he sank. The m.u.f.fled ringing in his ears had already faded, and the presence of his friends had disappeared. Only silence and darkness prevailed.


But in the silence, something gradually came into view.


What Nozomu saw was the figure of himself cowering in his room in the dormitory. He was slightly younger than the current Nozomu and was holding his knees with an expression as if his soul had been drained.


(Why, how did this happen ......?)


"This is……"


As Nozomu reached out, the scene in front of him popped with a crack and disappeared like a bubble.


Then again, within seconds, the next scene unfolded before Nozomu's eyes.


(What are you doing? ...)


The next scene that spread to Nozomu's eyes was in a forest that he was familiar with.


In front of Nozomu, who slumped to the ground, stood his master, who had cut down countless Wild Dogs.


(Who are you, old lady? ......)


(Be more respectful to the elders.)


The scene of Nozomu's encounter with s.h.i.+no. This was the event that triggered Nozomu to start training in the intense Mikagura style. It was also one of the major turning points for Nozomu.


"The past ...... memories of me."


While Nozomu was muttering, scenes from the past came and went one after another.


The days of h.e.l.lish training started with the shocking encounter. It was just an excuse to escape, but those days were definitely in the flesh and blood of the current Nozomu.


The last fight with s.h.i.+no, where he risked his life. It was the event that triggered Nozomu to start moving in a real sense. This scene still occupied a large place in Nozomu's life.


The encounter with his friends. And their differences. Friends he hadn't made in a very long time. However, he couldn't tell them his secret, and that's why they clashed.


But even so, Nozomu and his friends didn't fall apart.


Because unlike when he was with Lisa and Ken, they had the courage to face him in the true sense of the word.


However, that was not the only scene in front of his eyes.


Nozomu and his childhood friends. Among them, there was Ken, who was watching Lisa who was concerned about Nozomu.


Ken had loved Lisa since they were children. But it was his childhood friend, Nozomu, that she had feelings for, not him.


Every time Ken saw her walking next to his best friend, an inexplicable dark feeling welled up in Ken's heart. It was frustrating and sad. Still, he kept his feelings to himself, because it was Nozomu who she had chosen.


Then the scene s.h.i.+fted to when they arrived at Solminati Academy.


(Hey Ken, that sure is tough. You've been forced to deal with such a waste ...)


(Nazwell ……)


Ken was talking with Nazwell, who died in a demon beast attack in his first year. By this time, Ken's jealousy of Nozomu had grown to the point where he couldn't suppress it.


Still, Ken could not take out his negative feelings on Nozomu and the others. He didn't know how to deal with his feelings except to be patient.


But no matter how big the pot was, if he kept pouring water into it, it would overflow.


And when Nazwell was killed by a demon beast and the fear that Lisa might die combined with jealousy, he finally started to lose his way.


(Nozomu ……)


The image of Lisa running around the city with an anxious look on her face.


While breathing hard, she didn't stop to look for Nozomu.


(It's alright. It'll be alright ... He promised me ...)


It was a scene of Lisa looking for Nozomu. She was anxious about the rumor that Nozomu was having an affair.


Lisa shook her head and tried to deny the unpleasant thoughts that came to her mind.


The next thing she knew, Ken, disguised as Nozomu, was kissing a woman she didn't know.


The next image was of a room with the curtains closed. The next image was of Lisa sitting while holding her knees on the bed in a dimly lit room, even though it was daytime. With her eyes just staring at the floor, she did not move a muscle.


Ken and Camilla rushed in through the door of the room.


It was the moment when Nozomu and Lisa's time together ended and Ken's fake relations.h.i.+p began.


"Is this……"


What flowed into Nozomu was what could be called a residue of memory.


Three souls, Nozomu, Lisa, and Ken, were connected, and it was a glimpse of a part of their memories.


One after another, the past of the three of them floated in and out like a running lantern.


As Nozomu watched the scene, he felt as if his heart was being choked.


Nostalgia and melancholy, hatred and love.


Everything was nostalgic, resentful, sad, and various emotions poured out of his chest.


Eventually, everything in front of him disappeared, and the jet-black s.p.a.ce returned.


However, unlike the darkness of the past, something was reflected in Nozomu's eyes. Something was spreading like a spider's web in the s.p.a.ce filled with darkness.


"Is this ... a chain?"


If he looked closely, he could see that the chain was covered with a faint light. However, the amount of light was unusual.


He wondered how many chains there were in this place. The s.h.i.+ning chains stretched out in all directions, covering far beyond the jet-black s.p.a.ce.


"How far does this thing go? Hm? But this chain is ......."


When he looked closely, he saw that the chains were somewhat familiar to him. The chains of Ability Suppression that had bound Nozomu's body for several years. It was exactly the same thing.


"Is this... my power ......?"


Is there something more to this?


Before he knew it, the voices of the Zonne and the others had disappeared, and Nozomu's murmur dissolved and faded into the jet-black darkness.


There was no point in thinking about it. He couldn't help Lisa if he stay here.


Nozomu tried to wade through the glowing chains and go deeper.


But the moment Nozomu put his hand on the chain, it shuddered as if it were pulsating with an exceptional amount of light.


The next moment, all the chains in the air flew towards Nozomu at once and began to wrap around his body.


"W-what happened !? Gah~ !?"


The chains tightened around his body with a creaking sound. Breath leaking out of Nozomu's mouth.


Nozomu quickly reached for the chains that were wrapped around his body. He struggled to remove the chains that were suddenly tightening up on him, but then a voice echoed in his brain and Nozomu involuntarily stopped his hand.


(I'm sorry……)


A weak voice, clearly different from Tiamat's. The owner of the voice came to mind, and Nozomu couldn't help but look up into the void.


"This voice is ... Lisa?"


Nozomu was startled by Lisa's voice resounding in his head. At the same time, he saw Lisa's facing his head down in front of him, holding her knees and crying.


(I'm sorry, I'm sorry)


"Lisa! Oi!"


Lisa continued to apologize for her actions. When Nozomu raised his voice, Lisa's body, which had been lying face down, twitched.


She looked up fearfully and looked around. But she couldn't see Nozomu, and she didn't seem to notice him.


She scurried around and let out a disappointed voice.


(Haha, I just heard Nozomu's voice... I wonder if I've gone crazy...)


A hoa.r.s.e voice. A smile full of exhaustion appeared on Lisa's face. Her face, pale with exhaustion, looked as if it had a hint of death on it.


(But it doesn't matter. I don't care if it's just my hallucination. At least, I could hear Nozomu's voice at the end ...)


With a sad, yet somehow satisfied smile on her face, Lisa's figure faded into a blur.


Lisa's figure disappeared into the darkness like sugar dissolving into water. On the other side of the darkness, something was lifting its mouth.


Countless red eyes appeared in the darkness. The eyes were gazing with satisfaction at Lisa, who was about to disappear.


Without a doubt, it was Abyss Grief trying to devour Lisa.


Amid the countless stares, Lisa curled herself up like a baby and hugged her hands tightly to her chest. It was as if she was trying to hold on to something precious, something she would never let go of.


Not clear if it was Nozomu's words from earlier, or if it was the memories of the happy times she had spent with him.


Nozomu couldn't see what was going through her mind. What he did know was that Lisa's spirit, which had maintained itself by keeping her mind closed, had completely given up resisting.


"Lisa! Hold yourself together! If you don't ...!"


(But at least ... I wanted to apologize properly.)


The last of her remaining regrets leaked out of Lisa's mouth. Her figure had almost melted into the darkness.


(I'm sorry ... I didn't believe you ...)


The moment those words rang in his ears, Nozomu's nearly paralyzed spirit came to life at once.


He raised his fist and punched himself in the cheek.


A white light flashed in front of his eyes, and Nozomu glared at the chains in front of him, feeling the numbing pain.


"Guu! Aaaaaa!"


Shouting from the bottom of his stomach, he reached out and grabbed the chains stretched out in front of him with all the strength he had.


At the next moment, the chain pulsated and the pale light turned into a powerful flash that filled the jet-black s.p.a.ce.


"W-what !?"


In the blink of an eye, the intricately entwined chains were unraveled. And then, with a fierce sound, the chains sprinted through the air.


(Gi~! Gi~uuuaa!)


Chains flying in the air, tearing through the darkness with a strong flash of light. The darkness and red eyes that surrounded Nozomu trembled in fear and were torn apart by the chains that flew around him one after another, screaming as they shredded and disappeared.


It was like a school of sharks rus.h.i.+ng for their prey.


The s.h.i.+ning chains converge on a single point in the air.


Soon, the sound of cracking gla.s.s echoed, and a crack appeared in the s.p.a.ce.


The chain, which was rus.h.i.+ng fast, jumped into the crack and pulled Nozomu's body, leading him to the crack in the air.


"Uwa! What? What's going on!?"


Suddenly lifted into the air, Nozomu let out a cry of surprise.


What he saw behind the tearing crack was a world covered with walls of flesh and the figure of Ken Notis, or rather Abyss Grief, with his eyes wide open within it. Beside him was the figure of Lisa, who was lying face down inside the black ball.


"You b.a.s.t.a.r.d! How dare you escape from my fangs!"


A look directed at Nozomu as he landed on the meat floor. The look in his eyes was one of astonishment and slight fear.


Perhaps because Abyss Grief had caught a glimpse of Ken's memories, even though he had turned into a different form, Ken's desire for Lisa was still there.


An inexplicable feeling welled up inside of Nozomu's chest.


But, even so .......


He was reminded by his master of what he had been running away from, and his friends taught him the courage to move forward.


(I will save Lisa. This time I will fulfill my promise!)


With this determination in his heart, Nozomu sprinted towards the person he was supposed to save.


As Nozomu picked up the [Mumei] from the floor and ran, a single tear fell from Lisa's eyes, which had a blank expression on her face.

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