29. Keeping Faith Until the End
—That person remembers someone once saying, “Don’t cast aside your beliefs.” Those words still ring within her ears.
She underwent strict and bitter training due to being the child of a spirit. Any other aspirations she might have had were stripped away. She was forbidden from forgetting that she had to become a beacon of hope. She will always remember that as her purpose. Even in defeat, deep down inside herself, she’ll remember.
Believing in others, believing in myself, and never surrendering my beliefs. That’s why, don’t give up believing.
Not believing in the goddess is fine. Not wishing for a miracle is fine. “But those who believe in themselves until the end are rewarded.”
A snapping sound rings out. “I heard your wish. You want to protect that which you can protect.”
Where did I hear such majestic and tender words?
It’s because I’ve heard those words, because they echo inside my heart, that I hold them dear. I still believe in them. I still believe because I am here to believe.
Lefille rips open the ground as she runs across it alone. By harnessing the unique power within her body, the spirit’s blessing, she shines deep crimson while slipping between the trees. She tramples tree roots and the ivy coiled around tree trunks with her feet as she exits the forest and tears over the mountain slope. Even though the worst-case scenario continues to replay itself within her mind, she presses forward for the possibility that someone is waiting to be rescued.
She stops halfway up the mountainside to look behind herself. The trees underneath the overcast sky shake with an unnatural rustling, creating an eerie atmosphere. Her eyes, however, fall upon the countless mazoku corpses. They tried to get in her way, so she cut them down.
Rajas seems to be amassing his forces for the sake of killing her. Both the forest and mountainside will be crawling with mazoku in a few hours. Had she been any slower, she would have been trapped.
The demon general Rajas might also be nearby.
Everything dear to Lefille was stolen by that mazoku. Everyone she loved was forced to suffer a slow and painful death. Now, he’s extending his fiendish claws towards those unrelated to her. That mazoku considers the suffering of humans as nothing more than a game. He even laughed when he said would wait for her.
She hears voices that no longer exist. “Save me.” She heard them, she held her hand out to them, yet she couldn’t to protect a single voice. This time, she won’t fail.
Just as Lefille once more reaffirms the hidden anger burning deep within her heart. –Don’t go, Lefille!
“Ahh….” The remnants of a memory echo within her ears. The fury burning within her heart wavers at the voice she shouldn’t be able to hear anymore.
In trying to calm her heart before the decisive battle, she remembers that voice. She fights against the treasured memories spilling from her heart and loses. A lingering sense of loss washes over her upon shaking her ensnared heart free.
Lefille met an exceptionally knowledgeable young man in Metal, the capital city of the Aster Kingdom. That man, Suimei Yakagi, was an eccentric spell caster with no noticeable features other than his uncommon black hair. If someone were to press her into naming something special about him, she’s probably name his gentle eyes.
There was an exotic ambiance around him despite his normal clothing. No, the aura around him isn’t something that can be expressed in words. The magic he fights with from his home isn’t like anything I’ve seen before.
Had Lefille’s impression of Suimei ended there, she would have merely regarded him as a peculiar character. He, however, went on to surprise her time and again. He claimed to be traveling to Nelferia, but was that really the truth? He was dull to the subtleties and common knowledge of the world. It was almost like someone had placed a lid on that part of his brain. Yet, at the same time, she was taken aback by his level of insight.
He’s a kind hearted person. Even though spell casters have aloof and impertinent attitudes, he was compassionate and spoke with an air of naivety. He didn’t carry a trace of cruelty. He even followed her into the forest back when she separate from the merchant caravan. He stayed with her without asking for anything in return despite knowing that the mazoku could attack at any moment. He disregarded her complaints about him being there and refused to leave. He worried about her.
I can’t say it was a good decision. Not with the danger that comes from being around me.
One other event gave Lefille a deeper glimpse into Suimei’s character. He held her the night that mazoku’s curse activated and forced her into behaving shamefully. Back then I was-
—Back then I was terrified.
Suimei’s appearance after discovering something was wrong terrified her. Her body was exposed and she was while partaking in a depraved activity, she had no idea how he would react. No matter how considerate her companion could be, he was still a man.
The moment he wrapped his arms around her, she was overwhelmed by an immeasurable amount of terror. Even though he only wanted to help, she became nothing more than a helpless animal trying to curl up in herself.
The eyes with which he looked at her weren’t in the slightest bit terrifying. They didn’t hold a shred of ferocity. Instead, they emitted sympathy and compassion. He wasn’t even disgusted by her shameful action.
Instead, his hands… his hands were very gentle. They were full of sympathy and without a trace of lust. The trembling she felt was his anger towards the curse.
A remorseful apology leaked out of his mouth before Lefille even realized. With a reluctant tone full of guilt, he apologized for being unable to remove the curse. He apologized even though he had no obligation to help her. He apologized even though this curse is my responsibility.
Even during their abrupt farewell, he tried to stop her because he was worried. He acted out of concern for her safety.
Therefore, everything is fine now. Suimei won’t face any more danger. He can’t stay with her or his fate would twisted into one ending in despair. Just obediently wait in the forest until everything is over. She’ll either defeat Rajas or be overwhelmed by the mazoku.
So stay there where you’re safe, even if that means never seeing your smile again.
Even if your voice follows me and tries to call me back.
Even if that sorrowful and impatient face is the last one I see.
She understands that her choice is hopeless bolstering. Her decision to rescue those who cast her away was inconsiderate to him after he reached out to her. She betrayed him. Someone like me doesn’t deserve to be saved.
Despite those thoughts— “This is fine. This way…”
Lefille fights the warmth gathering at the edges of her eyes. A wave of heat unlike she ever felt before surges from the depths of her heart. It’s a sorrow full of loneliness and regret.
“If I wasn’t burdened by destiny. If we could have meet in a different way. What would have happened?”
When you stayed with me, when you tried to stop me, when you told me what you really thought, I was happy.
Lefille’s new emotion overflows beyond what she can hold. It isn’t the pain from losing a cherished friend, or the sorrow of remembering a lost home, but the yearning and regret of saying goodbye.
That’s why I won’t run anymore. I won’t let anyone else die. I won’t stand by and let the mazoku hurt more people.
So now Lefille runs. She has no choice but run alone as she shakes off the hot tears flowing from her eyes.
–Hello There, Cute Star ★ where’s brother Moon?–
Lefille decapitates anything that gets in the way of her sprint. She focuses her senses and detects several people and mazoku behind a grove of trees. Praying she isn’t too late, she springs towards them while clearing the foliage blocking her path.
An unnatural clearing free of trees opens up on the mountain side. Even though twilight is swallowing the sky, a dull stagnation fills the air. The smell of blood and meat assail her as she lands.
Lefille is overwhelmed by the wretched hell before her. “—Tch!?”
The source of the retched smell etches itself into her eyes. Spread out before her is a battlefield. They were slaughtered?
Shrieking howls of laughter grate Lefille’s ears. Rajas’ minions? Several mazoku wrapped in black auras fly around butchering the survivors trying to run away. Is this just a sport to them? The dead lay scattered around in pools of blood. Their bodies are riddled with wounds.
Not a single person is spared from being covered in crimson, nor is a single person spared from bleeding crimson. The soldiers, merchants, men, and woman are all being sacrificed by the mazoku.
Lefille’s heart seethes in rage at the sight she never again wanted to witness. “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” She yields to the furry flaming up inside herself and strikes down the nearest mazoku. Her sword glitters scarlet during its vertical slash.
The mazoku is unable to defend itself from Lefille’s sudden attack. Thunder roars and clods of earth blow away the mazoku in its death throes as it’s cut in half. The mazoku’s two halves whistle through the wind as they scatter across the battlefield.
Everyone, both the desperate survivors and the mazoku, are confused by what happened. They turn towards the intruder and gaze at her until someone recognizes her.
“Yo- You!” The tone isn’t a questioning of Lefille’s identity, but a recognition of her.
There are people resisting death despite being surrounded by mazoku. I’m not too late. Some are still alive, waiting to be rescued. Lefille arrived in time to protect those wishing for a miracle. Running to them in response to their pleas—
“What are you doing here!!”
Lefille is met with merciless hostility. “Wha-!?” She falters at the abrupt disgust and aggression. Why are they so angry? I came to save them.
Galeo, a man in the prime of his life, calls out to her with his commanding voice. His tone is far from being relieved. The voice from his bloodied body trembles with rage. “Graphis-san…”
Galeo is a merchant, but he’s still alive?
Resentment dwells within Galeo’s eyes. He condemns her for being there with a grudge filled glare.
“Didn’t I tell you to leave…? I said that the mazoku would attack us if you stayed…”
“Tha- that’s true, but now isn’t the time for this…” The mazoku are ravaging the caravan. That should be obvious for everyone to see. Such a distracting conversation will only give the merciless the mazoku an opening to attack.
No one agrees with Lefille. “Not the time for this…? That’s the reason we’re being attacked!”
Lefille can’t refute the accusation. “Ugh…” She has no choice but to grit her teeth while keeping the mazoku at bay with her power of the spirit. The mazoku are here because of me. All she can do is accept their condemnation.
The blood drenched escort who roared out at her earlier becomes confused. “Wait… you- how did you know even know we’re in trouble?”
“One of the adventures escorting the caravan told me you were under attack.”
“Someone went and told you… He found you without knowing where you were?”
“How’d you get here so fast?
“Now isn’t that time for this—”
The blood covered escort’s enraged expression creates a dreadful appearance. He creates an eerie atmosphere with his demanding tone. “Tell me!”
Why? Don’t they realize what kind of situation they’re in? Why are they asking something so pointless?
No… I’m getting distracted. I need to focus. Lefille stops talking and surveys the surroundings. The mazoku are sneering. They’re standing by and watching as though the unfolding argument is a spectacle. “Wha…?”
It’s like they’re not interested in us. But why? I can’t come up with a single reason for this.
A vicious laugh chills Lefille.
They’re going to kill us. Right now is their best chance to slaughter us. So why did they stop drenching their claws in blood? Something isn’t right. They should be trying to kill us. Why are they ignoring their base instincts and letting this argument unfold like a bad theater drama?
“Hey, are you listening!?”
Lefille is brought out of her bafflement by the escort’s impatient yell. “—Tch!! Is this really that important!? Hurry up and escape!!”
“Escape? Escape where, you bitch! The mazoku have us surrounded! There’s nothing we can do anymore!”
“You might be right…”
“How the hell did you get here, already?”
“Asking such a thing, haa…”
The guard’s demand is difficult to answer. Even if she were to describe her power of the spirit, there’s a high possibility no one would understand. Therefore, all she can do is shout back. “Tsk! I heard the mazoku were attacking you and ran as fast as I could! That’s how!”
The escort disregards Lefille’s frustration and snaps back. “Liar! I bet you were just loitering around nearby! That’s why you got here so fast! I’m right, aren’t I!?”
You’re wrong. I used my power of the spirit to sprint across 10 Liof forest to get here. I wasn’t just loitering around. But, how am I supposed to explain it to them? Explaining any of this now would be pointle—
“Isn’t that why we were attacked?! Because you didn’t leave! We were attacked because you were still here!”
“No, that wrong!”
“I’m wrong? Then how’d you get here so fast!”
“Guu, ugh…” Lefille falters at the escort’s relentless demand. “Like I said…” Her determination to save them is shattered by their ruthless outbursts.
Are they that desperate to make this my fault? No, they’re venting their frustration? Do people standing on the cusp of death need someone to unleash their emotions on? Is humanity this type of unforgivable species?
Galeo says, “Graphis-san, you…”
Lefille, having received a relentless torrent of abuse, is left shaking her head. “I…” The world spins around her. The hostility, condemnation, and criticism snatch away her equilibrium.
Why are they blaming me? Why are they making this my fault? I came here because I was worried about them. I came here because they were in trouble. I came here to help—
“Why… I came here to save all of you…”
The escort says, “Shut up! This is your fault! This all happened because of you!!”
“I- I…” The accusations hit Lefille like a curse. Is this my fault? Everything? Without any exceptions? This is my sin? Even though she came while praying that everyone would be safe, they detest her like some sort of vile snake.
A scream echoes into the night during the middle of the head spinning accusations. “…Gahhhhhhhhh!!” It’s the shriek that preludes death.
Lefille follows the scream and finds an arm as thick as a log pierced through an escort’s chest. It’s the arm of a mazoku. The power contained within its thrust makes the body collapses in on itself—
“So you came, swordsman of Noshias.”
Lefille’s sworn enemy appears, the mazoku general, “—, Rajas!! You bastard!!”
“You’re as lively as ever. So, are you here to claim my head?”
Lefille scoffs at Rajas’s remark and hurls her bloodlust at the mazoku. “Saying that after all this time, isn’t that obvious?”
Rajas is an incarnation of tyranny and destruction who stole everything from her. The hatred and murderous intent emanating off of her are the result of the mazoku’s own claws. Her grudge leads her to say, “This- This is all… your fault!”
Lefille speaks, unable to suppress her emotions at the tragedy repeating before her. Rajas’ interpretation her of furry, however, is a mystery. The mazoku merely looks around and sneers as though he was waiting just for that moment. “What are you saying? This is your fault, bitch of Noshias. Isn’t everyone like this because you’re here?”
Rajas laugh is repulsive. Lefille doesn’t know what kind of answer she was expecting. Rajas is a living disaster, the least qualified thing to answer her question. He just watches the people standing behind Lefille as though they are fools.
Lefille realizes too late what Rajas said. Sharp accusatory stares stab into her back. She feels as though winter has come early and unleashes a cold relentless hail against her. She turns around to confirm the feeling and sees anger burning in everyone’s eyes.
“It really is your fault…”
“If- If you weren’t here…”
“This is your fault…”
The voices condemning Lefille are no longer human. They’re a coagulation of pent-up resentment and regret creating a noise similar to raw, regurgitated malice. For an unknown reason, Lefille finds herself trying to deny accusations. “Tha- That’s not true! Everyone, none of that is true!”
“Shut up! You bitch! You caused this!”
Everyone’s voices grow louder as they curse her with each breath. Even the relatively calm Galeo shoots off curse after curse.
Lefille is assailed by everyone’s resentment on all sides. Why? Why can’t they believe I only came to help? Why do they believe the mazoku trying to kill them? The truth should be obvious, but they’re blinding themselves by getting caught up in the moment—
“…No, this isn’t my fault! I’m not here to bother anyone…”
“Liar,” “This is your fault,” “Your sin,” “Because of you,” “Even the mazoku said so,” “Murderer,” “Shinigami!” The voices bleed together as they denounce Lefille as evil.
Lefille shouts out in anguish, revealing the emotions she’s suppressing deep within her heart. “I’m not evil!! Why, why won’t any of you believe me!!”
Rajas watches and gives a standing ovation with its laugh. “Fufuhahahahahaha! Humans really are stupid! All they do is scorn others and drag them through the mud! Peel of their skin and you’ll find something uglier than maggots!”
Rajas finishes taking pleasure in the spectacle and turns to face the mazoku army. “—Kill them.”
Lefille’s heart, worn down by the torture of everyone’s accusations, rebuilds its resolve upon hearing Rajas’s order. Despite the bitter tears staining her face, she grits her teeth. She moves to stop the mazoku, “Eh—?”
Lefille’s body won’t respond. The power that always filled her legs and allowed her to run like a swift gale seems to have died. She can barely take a step forward. Her body has dulled.
Everyone’s reproachful glares freeze her in place. The ones responsible for her condition are her fellow humans, not Rajas or the mazoku soldiers. Their persecution steals the control she has over her body. That loss is fatal.
“I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die! Ahhhh!”
“Stay away! Stay away! Stay a- ahhhhhh- Gah!”
The people around Lefille panic as they’re slaughtered. Everyone; the hired guards who denounced her, the enlisted adventurers who cursed her, Galeo who glared at her, and the other merchants are killed.
Her body only recovers as the last person is being killed. I won’t make it in time. Her heart forces her to move. She lunges forward and cuts down the mazoku from behind despite understanding the futility of her action.
The girl from the spell caster’s guild lays on the ground covered in both the mazoku’s blood and her own. They first met when Lefille temporarily joined her party to subjugate a monster. Out of everyone in the party, that girl was the one Lefille became closest with, she was someone she’d consider a friend.
Lefille kneels and holds the girl to herself. “Stay strong!”
The girl groans in pain. “Ah, guh…” Wheezing interrupts her groans as she raises a trembling, blood stained hand towards Lefille. “…u….ere…”
“If you… weren’t, here…” She curses Lefille with her dying breath. Her face is twisted with hatred as though she were staring at a monster. The hand she placed around Lefille’s neck in an attempt to strangle her leaves a red mark as it falls limp.
…The strength in Lefille’s arms and shoulders wains. Everything she believed in shatters with a sound.
T/N: Okay, this chapter doesn’t say it, but heavily implies that Lefille loves Suimei. I’m very happy that this question is now, mostly, settled. On another note, I took a lot of liberties in this chapter’s translation. I didn’t erase anything, but a lot was moved around to improve the flow. Maybe some of you saw my twitter feed, but I’m considering picking up a second web novel. Any suggestions?? I’ll give the first few chapter a shot if the story sounds interesting. The only condition is that it has to be on ncode.