The fairy floated up in midair. She rose up with a hollow expression, hugging the broken sword in both hands.
A thirty centimeter body, long blonde hair, and a grass-colored one-piece. Particles of light were spilling out of her butterfly-like wings.
In an instant――everything had become red.
The green, the gold, and even the light were swallowed up by the red, muddy stream spreading from the broken blade.
A red fresher than fresh blood.
The fantastical, lovely fairy had transformed into a sinister, red light-emitting something.
Quicker than Taiyou could so much as shout, the red fairy flew at him.
The blade that she was hugging ripped through the air, letting out a groan and flying toward him.
It was a speed like a bullet, passing the sound barrier.
When he realized, it was already too late.
Pain raced through his right shoulder.
It was a pain that felt like it was born from the inside of his body, burning him.
He recoiled again and again, holding down the opening in his shoulder.
A slippery sensation……he felt the sensation of blood.
What came delayed was a feeling of the loss of life and soul; completely taken away.
He felt dizzy, and his feet staggered.
「Taiyou……c h a n……」
Hearing a murmur, he reflexively leaped to his side.
In the space he had just been in, a red bullet surged by.
「i a m……i、a m……？」
He desperately avoided the voice that had lost its carefree nature. Rolling over on the ground, he rose up with a start, leaping into next week.
It wasn’t that he was able to react. It was just that he was moving all around.
It was nothing more than the action of someone who felt they must move or be killed.
But that somehow displayed results.
Hera’s straightforward movements would always have her hit the most recent places where Taiyou was.
Taiyou desperately avoided them, thinking to himself (I’m going to seriously get hit at this rate!), and soon after thinking that, there was a wall ahead of where he had dodged.
There was no time to think.
Along with a piercing shriek, he unleashed his clenched fist at the wall. He swung his stout arm and crushed the wall into very small pieces.
Flinging his arm to the side, he sent fragments flying at Hera.
They didn’t hit Hera. They flew past the fairy’s body as she floated up again in midair.
「Tch……that wasn’t any good！」
Taiyou groaned. It seemed that the inorganic materials he threw would have no effect on Hera.
Hera flew at him again, this time gouging his flank.
Blood sprayed everywhere, and after reeling on his feet near the fragments on the ground, he lost his footing and fell over.
He halted Aoba, who was trying to rush over, with a loud rebuke.
Thankfully, Hera did not go that way. As expected, holding the broken blade, she came toward Taiyou.
His vision blurred. Taiyou could no longer see anything other than the red line.
She flew straight toward him.
Taiyou stuck out his hands――At that moment, a sensation spread to his palms.
It did not feel like a blade.
On the spur of the moment――he grabbed it with spinal reflexes.
The small fairy struggled in his hands. Taiyou unsteadily got up, hitting the nearby wall again so as to connect with the outside, brandishing Hera and throwing her.
The fairy began antiphase, rising to the heavens as a red falling star.
Taiyou groggily sunk down on the floor.
Physical wounds were not an issue. The real issue was that he shouldn’t have let that katana “suck” him so much.
Powerless, he sunk down onto the ground. It was troublesome just to move one finger.
That was when Aoba came rushing over, crouching beside him.
「Natsuno-kun-、are you okay？」
「But I want to be with Natsuno-kun――」
He rebuked the clinging Aoba.
He just wanted to get her away right now. He wanted to get her away from this spot, the spot where he was.
His opponent was one fairy, but Taiyou no longer had the leisure or determination of earlier.
It almost seemed like a lie that he had ealier held his own against enemies while carrying her.
「But I can’t just leave you here！ Not to mention Hera-chan！」
「You……saw her didn’t you? That’s what I’m up against」
Continuing to argue back and forth, Aoba showed no sign of backing down.
While gazing in the direction that Hera had disappeared, he tried to convince her.
She had suddenly returned.
Not from the way she was thrown, but as usual, she had come via warping out of nowhere.
「Tch、is that it！」
Taiyou cursed his own carelessness at the scene he had watched countless times.
Hera continued to fly over. Taiyou hurriedly thrust Aoba away, also making sure to dive to the side himself.
Running into debris, fresh wounds emerged.
It was a pathetic dodge.
The sound of the air being sliced could be heard. He immediately flung it away with his hands.
It was a reaction of the moment. It just barely met with Hera, who had flown in a straight line.
Knocked aside by Taiyou’s hands, Hera was knocked into the ground, bounding.
Taiyou was startled.
Because he had not hit her, but had once grabbed her.
That was not the case. It was because bounding and rising up once again, one of her wings was broken.
He saw her for the first time suffering a wound.
There was of course her carefree attitude up till now, and there was also her non-standard size. She was indeed a transcendental existence within Taiyou.
Said existence had suffered a wound just from being shaken off.
About to mutter, he suddenly remembered something.
The words she was always saying. The words that he had never fully taken seriously until now.
「The only one who can kill me is Taiyou-chan~」
Her happy-go-lucky voice ran through his mind.
The same words were repeated with a vacant expression.
And she flew at him once again.
The red beam of light flew at him.
He unconsciously clenched his fists――however、he could not swing them.
For an instant, a revolving lantern raced around Taiyou’s mind.
He thought about her being born from the broken smartphone.
About when they had dug a hole together in the park.
When she had pushed him to kiss the three sisters when he was in a pinch.
Remembeing that it was
Only him who could kill her.
The various memories of his experiences with her raced around his mind like a revolving lantern.
His stout arms――he could not swing his fists.
The red bullet this time around gouged his thighs.
A shout――But an anticlimax of a shout.
Blood and soul taken from him, Taiyou became lethargic, dropping to his knees, both arms languidly dangling down.
In order to run up, Hera took some distance, again aiming at Taiyou.
She was about to come――Right after he felt that, a shadow appeared before him.
A shadow covering his entire body――Aoba had both hands spread out, standing between them.
「What are……you doing Aoba、get……back」
Aoba didn’t reply. She didn’t answer.
「Get away from――urgh」
Standing up, he tried to push her out of the way.
However、he couldn’t. Becoming dizzy, outstretching his hands only drained the power from him.
Instead he ended up landing on his rear in a pathetic manner.
「Stop……it、Aoba. Even if you……try that……it is、no use」
With even his breathing seeming to near its limits, he tried desperately to persuade Aoba.
「It’s not useless. I came with you in order to fight alongside you」
They argued back and forth, emotions and stubbornness clashing.
Hera did not allow that.
Captured by the life-sucking magic sword, she gave them no more opportunity for dialogue, flying at him once again.
His vision again changed to slow motion.
He felt like he had seen a future in which Aoba was pierced by Hera.
A voice sounded.
A quiet voice from behind with its own unique breathing pattern could be heard from behind him.
That was like gospel to his ears.
Quicker than he could think, Taiyou hugged Aoba’s feet, pushing his weight on her to drag her down.
And as he looked up, the vision of silver beams of light from a white girl sprinted by.