And then, I -Kourin Karen- ended up separated from Haine-san.
When the floor broke, what I saw while we were falling along the rubble was…the shadow calling itself the Dark God and Haine-san jostling as they both went away.
That person did something reckless again in order to save us.
Thinking that, I felt mortified at my own powerlessness, and at the same time, I felt happiness at how the person I love was fighting for my sake; these mix of feelings were making me confused.
The past me wouldn’t have understood this kind of feelings at all, and would have fallen in a vicious cycle of confusion and end up panicking. But now, that’s different.
I decided to name this inexplicable emotions as ‘love’.
That definition returns my heart to serenity and it helps me out a bit.
I love Haine-san, so I am happy when Haine-san protects me. I love Haine-san, so I end up being more worried about Haine-san than any other.
By admitting my woman part, I was able to make an excuse of these feelings that should be scolded as a hero.
* * *
“…Are you okay, Karen-san?” (Yorishiro)
Yorishiro-sama, who had gotten up first, extended her hand to me.
“Ah, yes!” (Karen)
I hurriedly take that hand.
But, how pathetic of me. I should be the one protecting Founder-sama as the hero.
“We ended up falling quite a few ways down. It looks like the materials had become a lot more brittle than I thought.” (Yorishiro)
“Yeah, I feel like we fell from quite the height. I am surprised that we were able to come out safely from th—- Ah.” (Karen)
I soon noticed the reason why.
My rear was halfway buried -in sand. It is probably something that leaked from the desert. It had piled up and worked as a cushion to soften the impact of our fall.
“……This is…underground, right?” (Karen)
“Yeah, and we have arrived. The place we were looking for in this journey, the Dark Underworld Country.” (Yorishiro)
I pull up my rear from the sand and run to where Yorishiro-sama is and stand to her side, and then, follow that gaze of hers.
What appeared in my sight was the remains of a city that reached far into the distance. In this space at the depths of the earth, there’s many stone-made buildings. Most were partially destroyed or buried in sand; there was already no presence of life.
But even in its current state, I can still understand that there were traces of life in the long past.
Traces of humans living here.
It would be more accurate to describe it as ruins. Historic ruins of a grand underground city.
This is the place we were searching for, the Dark Underworld Country?
“Incredible! Even when it is pitch black underground, I can still slightly tell its contour.” (Karen)
“Looks like there’s moss growing on the surface of the buildings. It seems to be the type that gives off slight amounts of light. Karen-san, perk up your ears.” (Yorishiro)
Being told this by Yorishiro-sama, I concentrate on my ears and…hear some sort of damp sound.
Could this be…the sound of water?
“It must be an underground water source. It seems like the few times that there’s rain in the desert, it soaks into the sand and created a stream. Life appears in places where there’s water. But well, it is mostly vegetation though.” (Yorishiro)
Saying this, Yorishiro-sama walks around as if confirming the surroundings.
“Thanks to the plants cleaning the air, we are able to breathe even when we are so below ground. Even in this dead metropolis, life still goes on -in a different form.” (Yorishiro)
“But…as expected, just the light of the moss won’t help in seeing well. We can’t confirm our footing well either so…wait please, I will make some light…” (Karen)
Saying this, I was about to pour light divine power to my holy sword but…
“!! Stop it!” (Yorishiro)
I was suddenly yelled at by Yorishiro-sama and got scared.
“Did you forget what happened just a few moments ago?! That shadow attacked us seeking for light, you know? If you shine your sword again, it will serve as a lighthouse and that child will once again come here-desu wa.” (Yorishiro)
It is exactly as Yorishiro-sama says.
I could see that shadow-san jostling with Haine-san when the floor crumbled and we were falling.
We didn’t suffer a single injury, so that shadow-san must be safe as well, and there’s a high chance that it is loitering around this city somewhere.
It happened just a few moments ago, and yet, why am I messing up now…
“But, what should we do now, Yorishiro-sama? It is good that we arrived at the Underworld Country, but the passage to the entrance has collapsed, and returning is impossible now. On top of that, if such an unknown *monster* like that is loitering around, it is important to protect ourselves, you know?” (Karen) <monster here is written in japanese, instead of the usual ‘monster’ in engrish>
“There’s no need to worry. We have Haine-san.” (Yorishiro)
“We ended up separated from him, but that’s probably the best option right now. He has an ethereal flashlight with him. If he keeps it on all the time, the shadow should be lured to it and target Haine-san. If it’s one vs one, he can show his real strength as much as he wants.” (Yorishiro)
Against that shadow that absorbs light, I am only a deadweight.
“In that time, we should keep hidden. There’s no need to get worried about the matter of getting out of here either. Haine-san will definitely manage something.” (Yorishiro)
“We are throwing all of it to Haine-san…” (Karen)
When I let out what I was thinking right out of my mouth, Yorishiro-sama giggles in a joking manner.
“Because you know, that’s exactly how it is, right? That person can resolve anything. Save the world when it is in peril, and even the worries of women.” (Yorishiro)
Only a short time has passed since I met Haine-san, but who knows how many times he has already saved me.
He is a lot more of a hero than me.
“That person…is a lot more of a God…” (Yorishiro)
- 77: The one that the Gods have approved
At any rate, Yorishiro-sama and I -Kourin Karen- decided to investigate the historic ruins of the Underworld Country that’s in front of us.
I am also bothered by that shadow that calls itself the Dark God Entropy, but our original objective was to find this city, and investigate it.
Why did this city fall to ruins? Why did it get buried deep underground?
If we are able to unveil the truth by investigating the ruins, we might be able to get closer to the identity of that shadow.
Yorishiro-sama and I walk at what might have been the path of a street in the city.
It goes through the middle and the width of the road is big.
In the days that the city was still alive, I think that many people had moved back and forth on this road.
But right now, it is a quiet space where there’s only rubble and sand scattered around.
“Yorishiro-sama, be careful. It is dark and we can’t see what’s at our feet.” (Karen)
“Ara, then, want to hold hands as we walk?” (Yorishiro)
Without even knowing, I ended up holding hands with Yorishiro-sama as we walk.
For some strange reason, this is making my heart race.
Even if I am holding hands with someone, that other person is a girl like me, moreover, I have my heart set on Haine-san, and yet…
As expected, is it because Yorishiro-sama is way too beautiful?
Even in the eyes of a person of the same sex, Yorishiro-sama is transcendentally beautiful. I thought that way even when she was normally covering her face with a veil. When she took that veil off, that beauty of hers surpassed my imagination. So unfair.
If a person hides her face in normal basis, you would imagine that person as being incredibly beautiful, so isn’t the hurdle of beauty supposed to increase when that person reveals her face?
“Ufufufu…walking side by side like this…” (Yorishiro)
“We look like friends, don’t we?” (Yorishiro)
I have only been saying ‘yes’.
“T-T-T-That’s too much of an h-h-h-honor! I am a hero and Yorishiro-sama is a Founder! I pledged at the hero investiture that I would devote my sword to Yorishiro-sama…” (Karen)
“Ara Ara, that’s the old stiff Karen-san -desu wa ne. But walking with our hands held like this, seeing each other’s naked bodies, and most importantly, loving the same man; isn’t this already on the level where it is okay to call us the best of friends?” (Yorishiro)
Even if she tells me that, as I thought, someone like me being the friend of Yorishiro-sama is just unthinkable.
A friend is, putting it in other words, an equal person.
No matter how I think about it, I can’t consider Yorishiro-sama as an equal to me.
There’s the Founder and Hero standing, but there’s also what I said before, even if I were to take away the beauty part, I am still far from reaching her level.
For example, in the time of the idol strife, when we were fighting together with Celestis, I was overwhelmed by that person’s flashiness and refined charm.
Even with that, I didn’t want to lose as a woman in front of Haine-san, so I ended up saying ‘I win’. I was just acting tough there.
And right now, in front of the beauty of Yorishiro-sama, I can’t even act tough.
A perfect beauty that would make you wonder if she isn’t actually the very representation of a Goddess. Moreover, this person doesn’t only have possess beauty and status.
She is also perfect in strength.
Travelling together with her in this occasion, this fact was made even clearer. This person surpasses me -a hero- by lengths and bounds, and her ability to control light divine power is good.
Even that skill of destroying the floor at the battle of the shadow-san, Yorishiro-sama doesn’t have a divine tool like the holy sword Saint-George, and yet, she was able to create such destruction with her bare hands.
Normally, no matter how much light element number you have, without a divine tool that amplifies it, a person can’t can’t bring out enough divine power to destroy things.
Yorishiro-sama overturned such norm.
She probably possesses light element that surpasses mine by a lot; a person that’s rarely born with high affinity of her light element.
Even in the ‘Needle of Guidance’, at first, it was supposed to be me and Yorishiro-sama pouring divine power together, and yet, it ended up with Yorishiro-sama doing it on her own all the way here.
If Yorishiro-sama was not the Founder, she would have been the light hero, no doubt.
Thinking that way, my confidence decreases more and more.
Even Haine-san, he definitely likes her more…
“Sorry, it looks like I have turned your mood sour.” (Yorishiro)
The hand of Yorishiro-sama slips away from my fingers.
This is bad. Did my face show how I felt?
“But don’t worry. Haine-san will definitely choose you.” (Yorishiro)
“A long time ago, I committed a sin. A big sin that I wouldn’t be able to atone for even if I tried to atone for it. He…still doesn’t know about the details of this sin of mine. But he will know of it in time. When he learns of it, he will not forgive me.” (Yorishiro)
The underground city is dark so I was unable to confirm the expression of Yorishiro-sama well.
But for some reason, I thought that Yorishiro-sama was probably crying.
“That’s why I can’t be together with Haine-san. Being pampered by him is fun and it makes me happy, but that’s as far as I’m allowed to step into. I can’t go further than that. When Haine-san learns about everything and begins to hate me, I won’t be able to take it.” (Yorishiro)
I couldn’t understand the full extent of Yorishiro-sama’s words.
I don’t know what she means about ‘a big sin’, and in the first place, I can’t imagine the Light Founder Yorishiro-sama committing a sin, whether it is big or small.
But she is most likely…unable to forgive herself.
“That’s why, Karen-san, I will cheer you on. Even if I am not by his side, I would be glad of his happiness after all. It might be a rude way of saying this to Karen-san though…” (Yorishiro)
I hold the hand of Yorishiro-sama tightly.
The force was so strong, I ended up surprising Yorishiro-sama. But, I can’t stop this feeling.
“Yorishiro-sama! Please become my friend!!” (Karen)
“Honestly speaking, I don’t understand well what Yorishiro-sama was saying. What I do understand is that Yorishiro-sama is a good person!” (Karen)
If that weren’t the case, she wouldn’t have sent kind words towards me so many times, she wouldn’t have played together with me.
Being pampered by Haine-san together with Yorishiro was truly fun.
If it were with someone who is lying to herself, I wouldn’t have had that much fun.
“That’s why, Yorishiro-sama, please become my friend. Let’s have Haine-san pamper us and trouble us together!” (Karen)
“If Yorishiro-sama has committed a mistake, I can’t say something as presumptuous as: ‘I forgive Yorishiro-sama’. But, I can at least apologize with you as a friend! Please give me the qualification to do that, Yorishiro-sama!” (Karen)
And Haine-san will definitely accept whatever it is.
He is the person I have fallen in love with after all.
It is okay for both Yorishiro-sama and I to be happy!
“Good grief, you really are…” (Yorishiro)
It was so dark, I couldn’t see the expression of Yorishiro-sama well.
But, from the hand that I was holding, I could tell that the strength she held me with had strengthened.
“…You are truly my hero-desu wa ne.” (Yorishiro)