He leaped back embracing Aoba.
He felt bloodlust, as well as the slashing attack that brushed against the tip of his nose.
（To think that there would be a strong opponent waiting here）
That made him think about Shirokiyami for whatever reason, and Taiyou braced himself.
But, looking again at the sight that was there ……of his opponent was a total anticlimax.
There was a small girl reminiscent of an elementary schooler.
Her long hair in braids, she was wearing a light green hospital gown. Her looks were in order, but she was thin in an unhealthy way, with an outward appearance pale enough to hospitalize her.
That girl who had entered the room unawares was holding something unsuitable in her left hand.
It was a blade of the appearance of being a hybrid of a knife and a kitchen knife, its blade about twenty centimeters long.
Carrying that blade, she aimed her gaze at Taiyou.
「Is she……really an enemy？」
Taiyou was bewildered.
After all, the girl before him was trembling, acting like a small animal. Unable to feel a shred of the bloodlust that had pierced his skin with a tingling earlier, if she hadn’t been holding an edged tool then he would have been tempted to treat her gently like a lost child.
「That knife……is it my imagination or is it sort of pounding？」
He squinted his eyes again at the sharp object the girl was holding that Aoba had pointed out.
Just as she had said, with one look it was clear that this metal-hued thing was pulsating with a red tint.
It was a red light thin enough to where looking carefully wouldn’t help anything, but enough to feel ominous at first glance.
The disparity between that and the trembling girl made him feel even moreso that way.
「Just what is……that knife」
「Natsuno-kun……I’m a little, scared」
「……It’ll be alright, cause I’m here」
While calming the frightened Aoba down, he formally spoke to the girl.
「Who exactly……are you？」
The girl tried answering the query, but couldn’t make any decent words.
Holding her dagger, she held her head and screamed.
「What the heck is wrong！？」
As she was screaming she swung the redly-glowing dagger, rushing to attack Taiyou.
He nimbly dodged the point of the slash.
As opposed to her scream that was enough to make one’s hair stand on end――like a disaster film, the girl’s attack was haphazard.
It was like a spoiled child swinging around a plastic bat; that sort of haphazard attack.
So that expectedly did not hit, and while it was striking in vain, Taiyou continued to dodge.
On the other hand, he hesitated to counterattack.
Though he was being slashed at by an ominous blade, the person doing it was a very young girl, and on top of that, there seemed to be more to her than that.
He really couldn’t just mow her down with his strong arm and then call it a day.
「You seem to be in a pinch, Taiyou-chan」
「What will you do then? Would it not be a good idea to give her a good sock in the stomach and knock her over already？」
「No, that’s a little……」
Taiyou hesitated at Hera’s proposal.
In a sense, he was the most perplexed as of this instance.
The fact that he was unable to become calm, normally speaking with Hera despite the fact that he was in front of other people also brought on that clue.
「Then it would be best to confiscate that knife, as it would be dangerous with that thing being swung around」
Taiyou nodded, regaining his composure and facing the girl.
Hera’s proposal was as of now the safest action, so he thought it would be best to do so.
Staring blankly at the trackless orbit of the dagger being swung around, he firmly caught hold of her thin arm.
The girl raged while letting out a groaning voice.
「H-Hey, don’t be so rough」
There was the difference in physique with the girl, as well as the power he had gained from levelling up.
Normally he would be able to easily hold down this girlish child, but he was unfortunately embracing Aoba in his left hand at the moment, and on top of that, his opponent was thrashing around like a spoiled brat.
Along with the fact that he could not simply give it his all against her, he unintentionally let go of her hand as she kicked and struggled.
There was a flash of red light.
Immediately following, a small scream excaped Aoba’s mouth.
The kicking and struggling girl had cut Taiyou’s fingertip with her dagger.
It was a thin wound like a thread, as if being cut by paper.
It was a literal graze; a graze that would normally be of no consequence.
However, Taiyou reacted violently.
Catching his breath, he strongly thrust her away with a bang.
Drawing back afterwards, he took a knee while still embracing Aoba.
「What in the heck……is this……」
Large drops of cold sweat emerged on his forehead.
「Natsuno-kun, the color of your face――」
He was surprised, perplexed to the point where Aoba’s murmuring didn’t enter his ears.
He blankly stared at his cut, shaking fingertip.
Blood was not coming out. It was sliced open, and yet blood was not coming out.
「Taiyou-chan！ Are you all right？」
Recovering from the momentary panic, he nodded back at the concerned Aoba and Hera.
Breathing deeply, he looked at the girl.
The girl was cowering. Her knees on the ground, she was gripping her dagger tightly with both hands.
That dagger was emitting light more red than earlier, pounding greatly.
「Have I been……sucked？」
That word just came into his head.
He didn’t know what did it, but he felt intuitively that he was「sucked」.
That was when Tsubaki cut in with loud laughter.
「It seems that it has indeed gone well」
「That is correct, you feel at this moment that your soul was sucked from, right」
He parroted back what she said in a monotone voice. These words were not used in everyday conversation, so he hadn’t immediately grasped it.
However, that was also but for an instant.
The expression “soul was sucked” was extremely close to what he had felt.
「What do you mean」
Even so there were many things he did not understand, so he went ahead and pressed Tsubaki.
「That’s exactly what that katana is. It’s something that sucks the blood and soul out of the humans it cuts, converting it into the wielder’s power」
「It sounds suspiciously like a magic sword！」
「The human sucked from becomes weak, and the owner who absorbed from them becomes strong. It’s an efficient weapon in which the plus and minus of power relationships soon reverse. If this is mass produced……heheheh」
「That is also a head to decorate one’s memorable first campaign. Now then, do it quickly, you」
Tsubaki ordered the girl.
But the girl did not move, instead breathing heavily and groaning.
「Natsuno-kun……That girl’s body……」
「I know, it’s getting red」
He had also realized what she had.
Dagger gripped tightly and cowering, a portion of the girl’s skin that was exposed from the hospital gown was also reddened and pounding.
That was not a red that human skin could normally change to.
It was a vivid red.
It was the kind of red that one could even refer to as crimson.
If one were to see that form of her pulsating, it was clear that it was no simple phenomenon.
「Sort of……looks like it is going to explode」
Taiyou muttered. He couldn’t help but imagine a balloon.
「Hmm, it would seem that this child won’t last much longer either. Well, there are plenty of replacements so it’s really quite fine」
「What are you talking about, what do you mean last, what do you mean replacement」
As much as he could consciously manage, Taiyou’s tone became stern and he glared at Tsubaki.
「It is just as I have said, do you not understand？」
「Don’t tell me――if you continue at this rate」
「I will ask for a replacement」
「Are you serious！」
Losing his temper, Taiyou once again lunged forcefully for Tsubaki. As if reacting to that, still gripping her dagger tightly, the girl looked up and screamed.
She then got up, heading for Taiyou with shuffling, zombie-like footwork.
Clenching his fist, he made an L-shape leg stance, poised for battle.
That was when Aoba clung to him tightly……aiming eyes at him hanging on.
「Save that girl」
「……Yeah, of course」
He nodded, heading for the girl as well as Tsubaki.
「I’ll definitely save her」
He said as if declaring a matter that was settled.