I fought against the sensation of being sucked into a dark hole and used everything within me in order to move. But it might have been more accurate to say that I had only felt like I had moved.
When a part of my body finally moved for real, my consciousness was awakened.
My eyes opened, the leaves of the trees over my head floated into vision. I knew that I was in a rich forest surrounded by trees and nature. Ah, that’s right. After I had stocked up on food, they put me in the magic circle, didn’t they? It was part of the step for the expelling of magical energy. In a way, I had been tricked by those old men.
My body felt an intense fatigue. I had no strength.
Now that I thought of it, I was quite hungry now. Right, so this tiredness was coming from my empty stomach. I wanted to eat something.
As I lay there on the ground, I could hear something rustling nearby. Apparently, my sense of hearing was just fine. It was too difficult for me to stand up, so I just turned my head in the direction of the sounds.
…Eliza was sitting next to me, for some reason there was a sandwich in her hands. It seemed that she just noticed I had awoken, and her eyes widened a little. But, she continued to eat the sandwich.
“Eliza… Did you stay by my side all of this time?”
“No. You were sleeping the whole time, so I was playing a board game. Old Moran said you should be waking up soon, and he asked me to bring you some food. That is why I am here.”
Ahh…, I see. She was playing a board game, huh. Oh, well.
I had a feeling as if I had been sleeping for a very long time. Indeed, it would be way too big a luxury for her to have watched over me the entire time.
“So you brought me some food, then. Thank you. I can’t believe how hungry I am right now.”
“Yes…, but I am very sorry Kururi. I’m afraid I’ve eaten your sandwich.”
“I was waiting here for quite some time and had this impulse… I am so sorry. It was so delicious that I just couldn’t stop. I was really not in a state to be able to stop myself…”
She looked at the ground with an expression of deep regret. I felt very bad for blaming her when she had gone out of her way to bring me food. I wasn’t even that mad.
“It’s fine, Eliza. I’ll just eat something when I get back to Petel’s house. I hate to ask you, but will you lend me a hand? I can barely stand, much less walk by myself right now.”
“Yes, of course. I will gladly help you once I have finished eating this sandwich I’m holding.”
Give it to me!!
…But, perhaps this was actually a pretty nice experience, being able to watch Eliza stuffing her face like this. She even looked to be crying a little when it got stuck in her throat.
“Wha-, what is it!?”
“It’s just, you’re so determined. It’s amusing to watch, you know.”
“Why! Am I really that amusing? …Well, if it makes you laugh, I will allow it.”
We laughed together as we made our way through the forest and towards Petel’s house.
It was nice walking while being supported by her. And she smelled so nice. Apparently, a person like her could stay clean even in a barren place like this. It must be her genes. Her cells, at the gene level!!
I don’t know why I was feeling proud about this, but that was how good she smelled.
“The truth is… I completely failed when making today’s sandwich. I tried tasting it a little and, oh no! It tasted completely horrible… And I thought I couldn’t possibly allow Kururi to eat something like this… And so I had to eat it myself.”
“So you don’t know about my ability to eat anything that you make and find it delicious?”
“Fu fu, I shall remember that next time.”
Once we reached Petel’s house, I was able to eat Eliza’s homemade stew, which had been made to her satisfaction. Eating something piping hot after waking up really was the best. It really sits well in your stomach.
Old Moran and Petel talked about the results as I was eating.
It seemed that the third step had gone well. But I was also told a most shocking detail.
“What!? I was sleeping for a whole week!? Really!?”
“Oh, yes. In fact, it looked like you were dead.”
Hey, what’s with that ominous comparison! Well, at least I got up just fine.
“I too thought that you had really died part way through nari!”
Mister Petel, he was really not mincing his words.
“You really shouldn’t make us old men worry so much like that.”
They can say that, but it’s not as if I was even given much of an explanation here. Before I knew it, I had been stuffed with food and then made to sleep.
“We were so worried during the process. We wondered if Lady Eliza should kiss you even. But then we realized that it would have no purpose.”
That’s when you finally stop to think!!
“Well, I am glad that it all worked out. All’s well that ends well with these sorts of things.”
Woah. He just settled the matter. Just sloppily brought it to an end. In spite of saying something so monstrous.
“Yes, perhaps you are right. And since it went so well, we should go straight into the fourth step with our current momentum. Old Moran, are we prepared to do it?”
“Of course, I know what I am doing. However, I think we should allow you to recover a little bit more. The last part will be quite grueling after all.”
Quite grueling, eh… Was it the absorption of magical energy with the properties of death? I didn’t know any of the details, but I knew it would be intense. …Would I be given poison? I prepared myself for the fourth step with the mentality I imagined a laboratory guinea pig to have.
After that, neither Petel nor Old Moran said anything to me. Was there a reason that they wouldn’t tell me anything specific?
Instead, I noticed the two of them would often be talking with Eliza in whispers. Perhaps they were telling her something very important. It could be about the magic used for the upcoming fourth step itself.
I understood that this was the case a few days later.
Eliza had told me, once they had confirmed that I had returned to my former health.
It had become her role to unleash the magic with the properties of death.
“This will be a most dangerous thing to do. I’ve learned all about the dangers while you were sleeping. At worst, it is not out of the realm of possibility to die during this step.”
It was something that I had a feeling about, but it was now confirmed. But my own mind had already been made up.
No matter what the danger was, I had decided that I would not refuse.
“I, I can’t let you take on such a heavy burden like that…”
“No, that is wrong. Kururi, this could result in your own death. I can’t allow such a crucial thing to be in the hands of anyone other than me.”
Her unwavering gaze looked straight at me. As I stared back, her beauty was so great that I felt like I was being sucked in. But now, the strength of her resolve showed through even stronger than her beauty. …I started to think that she was someone I could trust with this task. No, I actively wanted her to do it. I didn’t want anyone but Eliza.
“If you are to be killed, then I will kill you myself!”
…Yes, that is what it came down to. But, it’s a little horrifying when put into words like that. Let’s try to soften the blow a little.
“This is one thing that I will not be persuaded in. I’ll squeeze the last breath out of you with my own two hands, if I have to!”
Hey, aren’t we going off course a little! Her resolution was completely in the direction of killing me. Isn’t that only a worst-case-scenario!?
Let’s not be making such tightly clenched fists in the air like that. Or else her resolve would harden in a completely misguided direction.
“You are quite passionate. Oh, there was a time when we too had such fiery passions.”
There is no way that is true! You two have never heard a declaration of murderous intent from a girl you liked!
“It is almost blinding. It makes me reminisce about the past nari.”
Maybe I just didn’t know it, and these two had such dangerous love affairs when they were younger… No, they didn’t! That’s not normal!
“It is not all that hard to do magic that has the properties of death. I was able to learn it while you were asleep.”
“Is that so. I suppose I will leave it all to you then.”
“Yes. But, there is also something that you must do as well. Humans generally have a constantly activated power to resist magic. Especially for the resistance of magic with negative properties. So magic with the properties of death will usually have zero strength by the time it reaches the average person.”
“In other words, I need to get rid of that resistance. That’s what it is?”
“Yes. You must believe me and accept everything.”
I concentrated on the thin layer of magic that surrounded me and brought it in, deep inside my body. Even in places where I wasn’t usually conscious of, all of the magic was brought in and contained.
In this state, even a little magic with the properties of death unleashed by a malicious person would send me to the afterlife, or so I felt.
But the other person was Eliza.
I knew I could trust her.
…While it was a little late, I start to think, what if Eliza was the one person in the world whose magic with the properties of death, I could absorb without resistance?
If it was Old Moran, Petel, or even others that weren’t here such as Iris and Rahsa, I would probably, even just for a moment, show signs of resisting when they unleashed the magic.
But, I would do no such thing with Eliza.
With her, I could surrender myself completely.
After all, I haven’t told her clearly yet, but I liked her. I was in love with her and adored her essence, her true nature.
There was no way that I would resist to someone who I felt that way about. She had said that if someone had to kill me, she wanted it to be her. Likewise, if I had to die, I wanted it to be by her hand.
What if, what if it wasn’t a coincidence that the two of us met here like this. We met because we were meant to. Everything had turned out just fine…
“Eliza, do it whenever you are ready. I am prepared.”
Eliza begins to chant. The magic that starts to emerge is not very big.
But it had a dark quality to it like I had never seen before. So, this was magic with the properties of death…
The magic was complete now. A black sphere had appeared in front of where her arms extended. Was she going to launch that into me?
I relax the muscles in my body and waited for that moment.
At Eliza’s command, the black sphere shot towards me at a great speed.
It hit me in the center of the chest as it entered my body, I could feel that it had been absorbed in an instant.
My body feels very cold. Hell, there is no sensation at the tip of my fingers. But I can at least stand.
It’s not a complete coldness. Deep down, there is a faint warmth that emanates
There, I could feel all the emotion that Eliza had put into it.
Once I had got accustomed to this state, I was able to slowly take in what was happening around me. Eliza was looking at me with a worried expression. Old Moran and Petel were drenched in a cold sweat. It was quite frightening a reaction.
“E…liza. It’s alright. I won’t die by your magic. I promise. …Also, I won’t die yet. I cannot allow myself to die yet!”
After getting those words out, I lost all ability to control my body, as if the blood had all been drained from my head. It was only a second of dizziness, but it made me fall backward.
But there was no impact. Eliza had caught me right before I would hit the ground.
“I’m sorry. As a guy, I should be the one catching you.”
“Today can be an exception.”
The Ultimate Magic was complete.
I knew it now. That swirl that was bigger than ever had just awoken inside me. And with this, we had finally completed the preparations needed to begin the battle against the curse.