【Interlude: The Darknes She’s in…】
So that’s how I once again found myself drifting in a dark space in my usual dreamworld. Thanks to Aika I was now able to remember everything that led to my death clearly.
「And that’s how all of the events of that night went down. Do you remember now?」
I nodded in response to her question. I can’t believe I was made to forget something so important.
Shiki was crying at the very end and it looked like everything she did to me brought her a great deal of suffering. Without a doubt, that was a genuine Yatono Shiki, my precious companion who often hid her feelings behind a mask of indifference, but under that guise she was just like any other girl her age capable of feeling fear, sadness and joy.
「All right, now that I remember what is going on I don’t have time to be dead! There is so much that I must do!」
I have to go save senpai, but I also want to get answers from Shiki! I don’t know if I’ll be able to do anything for her, but I at least want to try to help her!
She was so adamant about not letting me return to senpai’s side that she killed me, but when she did that, she was crying and begging me not to hate her for it.
This is just too much for me. I have to know what pushed her towards such drastic measures!
「I have to go back as soon as possible! Otherwise…!」
In a stark contrast to my burning motivation, Aika was as calm as the sea at sunrise as she lazily floated around me in the air.
「Otherwise what, brother? It’s great to see that you’re still willing to help Shiinamachi-san and Shiki-san after all that transpired, but aren’t you forgetting something really important? It’s not for you to decide if you come back o life or not. It’s up to Shiinamachi-san.」
「Guh… you’re right.」
And under the current circumstances, I don’t know if that’s even going to be possible. I don’t even know how much time has passed while I was in here.
「Moreover, you don’t even know if the ritual to return her memories to her is still going on. What id she already returned to her former self and got all of her Gifts back? Without her 『Thanatos』 you won’t be able to be resurrected in the first place.」
She might be right. Hell, probably Aika is right again. But even so, the 「Current Shiinamachi-senpai」 was the only one who relied on me. If she recovers her lost memories, then the 「real」 Shiinamachi Kaguya might decide that she has no use of me anymore. If that is the case, then I don’t even know if I want to go back to life. But if it’s not like that, if she still needs me, then I…
I thought really hard about what I should do for her. And then I remembered.
She was a type of girl who never gave up even when those important to her were being hurt, and someone who tried to live her life to the fullest in spite of her condition.
「Even if I lose my body, even if all that remains of me will be nothing but my consciousness, I will go back to senpai’s side!」
What popped into my mind now was the image of Asagao. Even though she was alone in the dark for so long, she never stopped smiling. That willpower of hers is what I admire about her the most and that’s why I promised her I will bring her back… so I cannot allow my life to just end here like that, without even being able to protect a single person important to me!
「Are you absolutely sure that this is what you truly want to do, brother?」
「Yeah, I am two hundred thousand percent sure! Right now I am more scared of not doing anything when I can than being disappointed by reality!」
「Even if Shiinamachi-san and Shiki-san will become your enemies?」
「That doesn’t matter! If they cry, it is my duty both as a man and their friend to obliterate those tears and the source of their sadness!」
「Even if you end up alone and abandoned by everyone with no one by your side in your foolish quest to save the damsel in distress?」
「Yes. Up until now I was relying on my friends and loved ones too much. This time, I want to do something for them with my own strength, no matter the cost and consequences.」
「Is that so…?」
Aika quietly closed her eyes. And when she opened them again, they looked completely different than they were up until now. They looked sharp and determined, and they radiated a terrible sense of intimidation that I have never felt from her before.
「If that is truly what your heart desires, then go, go as far as your feet will take you until you reach your destination. However, I will not help you anymore. From now on it’s your job as a Hero to choose those who will accompany you on your journey and make sure that you’ll keep on living while being honest with your heart.」
Her voice was no longer quiet and soft. It has become lower, clearer, sharper.
「You… no, wait… you cannot be…!」
A person who was, and at the same time wasn’t Aika smiled confidently with her lips.
「Now then, Jiro, the time has come…」
That voice! I know it! I’ve heard it before! But how…?!
「…so open your eyes.」