【Last Episode: Curtain Call and the end Part C, 8】
The moment she spoke the name of her forbidden Gift, an even stronger earthquake shook the entire courtyard.
Fujisato’s scream echoed in our ears. When we turned towards her, we saw an unbelievable sight sprawling right before our eyes.
The space of the entire courtyard was being filled by a swarm of black shadow-like figures emerging from the ground at an alarming rate. There was nowhere else to run, so Kuhoh, still with my mother in tow grabbed Fujisato as well and used her time stopping ability to join us at the stage where no shadow people have spawned.
「Denizens of the underworld… did she really opened the gate to the underworld?!」
Kuhoh was panting heavily and when she tried to wipe the sweat off her forehead, we saw that her armed turned dark-violet, as if it was infected by some kind of poison.
「One of those shadows grazed me before I stopped time to get to the stage with you. There was so many of them that something like that was bound to happen. I’m sorry, Master. I was too careless.」
Fujisato did not say anything to that. She just grabbed Kuhoh’s arm and stared at it with a worried expression. Normally you’d never see her like that, but Kuhoh has always been special to her, so it’s natural she would react like that.
「『Underworld Gift Izanami』… if this is a Gift that can bring the souls of the dead back into the living world and this is what happens when they touch you, then we might be in big trouble here.」
Shiki remarked, after which she went into a violent coughing fit, probably caused by the miasmatic air emitted by the shadows. At the same time, Kuhoh’s entire arm became violet and it looked like she lost the ability to move it altogether. And to add the fuel t the fire, the spirits of the dead continued to gather around the stage.
「You think I’m done yet? I don’t think so!」
Kaguya lifted her hands into the heavens.
「Open! Forbidden darkness sealed at the ends of the heavens! 『Celestial Gift… Tsukuyomi』!!!」
At her command, the moon which shone brightly at the dark canvas of the night sky began to emit a suspicious light…. That came down to earth in the form of a laser beam!
「Monjiro, look out!」
Shiki grabbed me with her threads and moved me out of the laser’s way, and just in the nick of time, because a fraction of a second later the place where I stood got turned into a burned, darkened circle.
「Thank you, Shiki.」
「If you have time to thank me, use it to not let your guard down. Also, you’re welcome.」
Looking up at the moon, countless light lasers were falling down from it like a torrent of deadly rain. A rain that was aimed specifically at the stage we were standing on.
If we stay here, we will most certainly get obliterated. But if we try to run from it, we will get captured in the shadowy mass of the dead around us and our bodies will rot due to the exposure to their miasma. We are literally stuck between the rock and a hard place, where our only option, the only thing we can do to save ourselves is…
「We need to be faster than the light raining down on us. We have to be faster than the shadows of the dead encroaching around us. During the limited time we have left, we have to deal with Kaguya.」
It sound like it’s impossible, but we have no other choice but to make the impossible possible. If we fail, we will be trapped between the rays of deadly light and the flesh-rotting dead, sealing our demise.
Kaguya smiles confidently, knowing that this will most likely be the checkmate for us.
「Now then, Jiro. Let’s see how will you overcome this challenge, shall we?」
I know that this situation looks hopeless all across the board, but there has to be something we can do to turn things around.
I am currently in a state where I am using 『Demonic Gift Gorgon’s』 mind-controlling ability on myself to force my body to operate at the peak of my physical abilities where it should be possible for me to react in advance to anything I wouldn’t have been able to react to in my normal state or decide the conditions and let my body take the scheduled action in advance. This means that in my case the gap between cognition and reaction time has been closed as much as possible. Thanks to that, my physical abilities should be many times sharper than when I am conscious.
And yet, this is still not enough.
In order to reach Kaguya, I have to break through 『Omoikane’s』 future prediction and 『Susanoo’s』 semi-automatic sword that can cut without physical contact, but in order to do that, I’ll have to raise my whole existence, body and soul included to their absolute limit. Go above and beyond the capabilities of a normal human.
There is a way for me to do it.
It is a one-way ticket, but I have a technique that will allow me to put this pointless battle to and end and save us all.
「Well, looks like this is it then.」
First, I take a deep breath.
In this hellish air, I felt things that were not hellish in the slightest: dignity, warmth and compassion of my precious friends. Knowing that I am the only guy here and that I am surrounded with nothing but cute girls made me feel strangely relieved.
「Monjiro-senpai, whatever you decide to do, we will support you to the best of our abilities.」
Kuhoh passed me a new knife by kicking it next to my feet. That’s my dependable kouhai for you. Even without her hand, she is still going to fight with everything she’s got.
「For now we should all focus on staying alive, especially you, Kuhoh. Without you around, me and senpai would be totally lost with all the paperwork the Librarian Committee has to deal with.」
「Haha, all right, I promise to do my best. But if we do make it out of here alive, promise to have a nice long chat about martial arts with me, senpai.」
Kuhoh’s casual attitude in the face of certain death was definitely a breath of fresh air we all needed now.
「I will also give it my best shot, Monjiro-san. You can count on me!」
Yorugao also shouted energetically and took on a gutsy pose. It would no doubt be a reassuring sight, if not for a myriad of artificial body parts which started to levitate in the air around her, making her look like a villain from a grotesque horror story. Actually, the longer I look at her the more I think that she looks more like a Final Boss than Kaguya with her light lasers and army of shadows, and I am unable to hold back my laughter.
「Hey, now that is rude! I know that I don’t exactly look like an ally character but that doesn’t mean you have a free pass for rubbing salt in my wounds you four-eyed idiot!」
「Okay, okay, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’ll be counting on you too, Yorugao. But you have to work extra hard to make your sisters proud.」
「Who the hell do you think I am?! You can bet your ass I’ll do my best for them as well!」
The arms floating around Yorugao started giving the finger to everything around them. I suppose this is their own way of encouraging us? Well I know just how terrifying that power can be, so having it on our side this time is definitely reassuring.
「Monjiro-kun, as much as I would like to give you a helping hand, I think this time I will have to make do with a role of a princess that needs her knights in shining armor to protect her.」
Fujisato smiles and joins her hand in front of her face in an apologetic gesture.
「You know, I don’t want to be that guy, but now should be the time when you finally bust out that fifth Gift you’ve been hiding all this time?」
Fujisato giggled in the same way she used to when we were fooling around in the school during lunch breaks.
「Saw right through me, huh, Monjiro?」
「More like I have a good memory. Right when I first became Shiinamachi-senpai’s Knight, she and Shiki explained to me that each Lord can have up to five Gifts she can bestow upon her Vassals. But ever since you revealed yourself as a Lord to us, you were only using four of them.」
『Divine Gift Chronos』, 『Demonic Gift Kirin』, 『Demonic Gift Gorgon』 and 『Heroic Gift Perseus』. Those are four of Fujisato’s Gifts, so she should still have one left, and yet she didn’t want to reveal what it was, to the point of pretending to be powerless?
「You’re right, Monjiro-kun. I still have one Gift left, but me having it will not make any difference in our current situation. For you see, the effect of this Gift is pretty much automatic, to the point where I can’t use it manually even if I wanted to.」
「I see. So it’s something akin to Shiinamachi-senpai’s 『Fallen Angelic Gift Sariel』?」
Senpai’s 『Sariel’s』 ability was soul control. As long as the target of that soul control had his soul 「saved」 in the dreamworld thanks to 『Fallen Angelic Gift Sariel’s』 counterpart, 『Angelic Gift Sariel』, the Fallen Angelic one allowed the user to access that soul. It was thanks to that Gift that I was able to meet with mother and Asagao whenever I died and found myself balancing between life and death. Could it be that Fujisato possesses a Gift with a similar ability?
「My last Gift, 『Angelic Gift Sandalphon』 allows me to 「Contain the shape of a sinner within myself」. That’s why…」
Fujisato blushed and looked away from me, as if she was embarrassed to continue her explanation.
「You know. In the unlikely event that everyone ends up dying and I’ll be the only one to survive you will be able to continue to exist inside of me, so I hope knowing that will give you a peace of mind, Monjiro-kun.」
「Wow, really? Well, thank you for being so considerate of me, I’m truly happy… yeah, right, as if I ever say something like that! What kind of a useless Gift is that?!」
I mean really, what the hell?! And of course when she said 「inside of me」 I had to subconsciously look at her… argh! Why am I remembering that time, that place and the feeling of her chest pressing against me now of all times?! This isn’t what I want! What I want to return are the days when we could laugh and joke around in our classroom like we used to!
「Monjiro, although watching you screaming internally is really entertaining I’m afraid we don’t have time for that now. Also, I have a message for you from Yugao, so just shut up and listen, will you?」
Looks like this is something serious, because Shiki abandoned her usual deadpan tone of speech and spoke much more casually.
「Here goes: Don’t die before I confess to you.」
Wasn’t that a straight up love confession? And how do I feel about it? Well, I guess happy and embarrassed would be the best description, and also a little bit puzzled. I mean, she literally stole my heart and was an important friend to me, but…
「I… I’ll have to think about my answer to her confession properly.」
「Oh really? Because here’s the real kicker: all this time, she was actually a trap.」
「Wha…?! Nononono, that is absolutely, completely, totally not possible!」
It can’t be true, right? Right? Oh for fucks sake, of course it can’t be, I saw her half-naked myself and she definitely had a pair of breasts on her! They were rather modest, but they were surely there!
「*Sigh* Associating womanhood with breasts, how very typical of pubescent males. What do guys see in them anyway, they are nothing but lumps of fat.」
For some reason, Shiki was glaring daggers at Kaguya… or rather her voluptuous chest. I mean it’s great that she is keeping an eye on her, because it would be foolish not to had the last boss in your sights at all times, but I have a feeling that this time she was doing for… the wrong reasons.
「While we are still on the subject. Monjiro, I assume you know that I came here because Yugao defeated me, right?」
「Ah, that’s right. Yugao-chan was eager to fight you and wouldn’t take no for an answer, so in order to ensure she wins I gave her two of my Gifts, although I did so reluctantly I’ll have you know.」
「I know. I thought I had the upper hand against someone so inexperienced in battle like her, but in the end what defeated me was the power of an innocent maiden in love, and now I have to honor the bet that I’ve made with her.」
Shiki says so with a bitter smile on her face. She then looked straight at me with her two differently colored eyes, a blue one deeper than the sea and the golden one, shining with a radiance more brilliant than the stars in the sky. Both of them were wet with tears.
「I love you, Jiro-san.」