A great many words in an instant.
A moment of eye meeting eye.
――I decided I would protect you, with my power, to the end
――You’ve been protecting me, so now is perfect
――I want to continue protecting you forever from now on
――You’re not my father, Taiyou-kun, protecting and being overprotective are different
――Even so, once I’ve decided something
――But there’s something longer ago that you’ve decided
That moment, certain words arose in the back of Taiyou’s mind.
Words that he had from time and time again discussed with anyone, the dignity that he had continued to insist on.
He came into contact with the soul that had been hurt by the life-sucking magic sword, uncovered.
A mere moment.
Taiyou remembered that――was forced to remember.
Nails dug into his palm, he stiffly clenched his back teeth.
Hesitation was for a moment, and resolution was also for a moment.
He re-embraced Aoba from his left to his right.
There was a roar in that instant.
She had let out a battle cry enough to shake the atmosphere.
Aoba had curled her body up despite not having any signal……and he threw her just like that！
Aiming for the girl sprinting forward.
Like a cannonball, the ponytail girl rushed away, slicing the air.
He disregarded the surprised Hera. At the same time, he sprinted without stopping.
Thrown at her, Aoba went ahead.
She flew ahead at a speed far superior to the sprinting girl, catching up in even less than a short pause.
Her voice was like that of a beast.
At almost the same time that the girl turned around, Aoba had『impacted』her.
Being the proposer, she was not simply thrown. Right before crashing into her, she had suddenly opened her arms that she had kept balled up in order to reduce air resistance, covering the girl in the hospital gown up.
The girl’s right hand――her right arm that was being ruled over by the magic sword of blood and life.
Aoba clung to that right arm with all her might.
It was enough power to make one astonishedly wonder where that strength was coming from.
She had not only stopped a human flying at her and clinging to her faster than the speed of a car with hardly any stepping back, but was also swinging her around as she clung to her.
In order to shake her off, she swung her from left to right.
Aoba shut her eyes tightly, desperately clinging to her.
The girl who was shaking her off like she would a biting louse, and Aoba who showed her will to not let go even if it killed her.
In an instant.
She had of course saved not even an interval of time; a mere second.
But that was enough.
One mora later, Taiyou leaped in like an arrow.
Stomping on her like an arrow, Taiyou grabbed the struggling girl’s shoulders.
Stopping her movement, he gave her a blow to the vitals.
It was an impact enough to make the back of the girl’s feet rise up.
Her eyes opened wide in a flash, and immediately following, her consciousness sunk and her body crumbled down.
As if a string attached had been cut, she tumbled onto the ground.
Hera had at last managed to catch up, so he turned to her.
「Please survey the surroundings. Figure out what has become of Saegusa Tsukumo and his lot as well as Juunishima Anna and her lot, not to mention that Tsubaki woman」
She charmingly saluted, flying off along with a reply that he had grown all too familiar with.
After seeing her off, he now looked at the dagger rolled over on the ground.
The source. The magic sword that took life and soul, ruling over her.
Taiyou picked it up, breaking it like one would dispensable chopsticks.
Letting out a dry “pakin” sound, the hilt and blade split in two.
Once he did that, the dagger as well as the girl’s body gradually stopped emitting red light and throbbing.
Seeing that, Taiyou let out a sigh of relief.
But the job was still not finished.
Taiyou glared at the men around him.
They were men he had already defeated, and even now the majority of them were weak in the knees having lost the will to fight.
Even so, Taiyou moved toward them.
Emitting a villainous smile, he walked briskly toward them.
The objective he had come here for, and the method to achieve it.
In order to plant trama in his opponents, he once again insta-killed all of the men.
After bringing them all down, he once again surveyed his surroundings.
He had restored silence to the hallway, what with the fallen men and the girl.
Squatting next to the girl, he checked on her.
The somewhat pale look was the same as ever, but it had returned to the level that it was when she had first appeared.
Perhaps because she had escaped from the control of the dagger, though unconscious, she was quite calm.
Taiyou was relieved.
As if saying that this time it was finally over, he took a big breath once more, relaxing his body.
After doing that, he looked at Aoba sitting down beside him on the ground.
Aoba replied, forming a smile. However, she remained sunk down to the ground.
Her legs were curled into a female sitting posture.
Remaining in that pose, there was no sign of her getting up.
Taiyou wondered if she was paralyzed.
「I just want to put this sort of thing to an end」
Perhaps because he had recognized that everything was over, Taiyou went to Aoba’s side, sitting down.
When their shoulders were touching and he felt warmth, he began whispering to her.
「I thought my heart would collapse」
「Although I was happy. After all, I felt like I was fighting alongside you like all those other times. Hmm, if anything, maybe I was the strong one?」
「When we get back home……no, tomorrow……no」
Every time he put it to his mouth he would shake his head, beginning to deny his own previous words.
「As early as tonight I’ll resume levelling up. Because even earlier, if I had been faster I would have been able to catch up, plus you wouldn’t have had to be put in such danger」
「Yeah, I’m in complete agreement with you raising your level」
Taiyou had seriously thought she would say「No, no, you don’t have to worry about that」. Inclining his head, he looked at Aoba with a curious face.
「Right now you can fight while carrying me, right? And you probably could have carried even another person and fought, right?」
「Well……if I had to」
Looking diagonally upward with a pensive expression, he nodded at what Aoba said.
He felt that even carrying one person in each arm, he could still move fairly well.
「Which means that if you try harder, you’d be able to carry all of us, right?」
「No no, that’s gotta be physically impossible. That’s seven people we’re talking about」
「Although it would physically be nine people」
「That’s even worse！」
「Hmm, couldn’t something be done about that? Even if it isn’t physical」
Well-versed・・・・・in that area, a certain situation arose in Taiyou’s head.
「……So you guys would be my wings」
「Wings？ Is everyone going to cling onto your back？」
「No, I don’t mean that！」
「Nine sets of wings on your back eh, that’s kinda cool」
「That’s scary！ It would be scary to have nine girls physically clinging to me！」
「Nine is a good number. It’s odd, so we’d be asymmetrical to the left and right, kind of like a fallen angel」
「Are we back in the eighth grade or what！」
「Ah, but, seems like that girl is the only one you can’t hold. She’d probably want to fight by herself」
「Yeah, she probably would……」
While conversing with each other, Aoba naturally rested her head on his shoulder.
A warm atmosphere drifted through. He wanted to bask in this moment with his bride.
「Taiyou-chan Taiyou-chan！I have indeed looked at our surroundings」
Taiyou opened his eyes wide.
Hera, who couldn’t read the situation, had returned.
However, that was very much like her. Not reading the situation was something like her unique specialty.
Which was why Taiyou didn’t especially point it out, just seeking the report.
「How was it？」
「Everyone other than the unconscious people have run away. The old hag is still sprawled over where we were earlier」
「Alright, then let’s tie her up while she’s still unconscious. And then let’s contact Youran and ask her what to do」
「Seems like it’s not here」
「Let’s also take this girl along with us. I’m sure it’d be fine if we took her to a hospital or something」
Taiyou said, picking up the girl in the hospital gown.
Curious, he checked on Aoba, but she was nonchalant, and Taiyou inwardly gave a wry smile at his absurd fear.
「Ahh, I see that you broke this」
Hera said, looking at the dagger split in two.
「But I wonder what this could be」
Hera said as she tapped the broken blade.
Close to his ears, his heartbeat roared like thunder.
Immediately following, a sensation attacked him as if his whole body were burning.
Aoba’s voice was that of a scream. When he began following her surprised gaze――。
It was a thirty centimeter body. An existence outside of humanity.
A lifeform still wrapped in mystery that regular humans could neither see nor touch.
The naked soul――pulsated in a red color along with the magic sword that sucked life and soul.