68. I Don’t Care, So Let Me Go Home!
I was stunned to see that familiar black mass clinging to the glass ceiling.
Ah. All I wanted was advice from my friends on how to avoid getting married…
…I had just come up with a perfect plan for what to do with my Dragon.
I looked at him, who had turned brown again, and he cocked his head as if to say, “What’s wrong?”
–Why don’t you see the black thing right in front of us!?
Solan-kun’s frustrated voice snapped me out of my daze, making me look up.
…Wow, the black thing was expanding right in front of me.
As I continued to watch, stunned, it began to entwine itself with my body!?
Then, as the black object began to float up, my body floated up with it… I’m floating!?
Hey… Why… Hold up, wait!? You don’t want me. You don’t want me!
“Ria! Give me your hand!”
Sara-chan reached out her hand to me, and Irene-sama was casting magic circles as she approached.
Black tendrils extended out to block the two of them.
Why wasn’t it catching them, too? Why just me? Oh, man… I just want to go home!
My heart cried out in empty despair as part of the black object broke the glass ceiling.
…Huh? Was this the end of my wildlife…?
As I worried about that, the black object slipped through the smashed hole in the glass, dragging me with it out of the room.
–Raindrops hit my cheeks.
The cold wetness hitting my body indeed confirmed that I was outside, but I felt like I was watching this happen as someone else, not living. But that wasn’t the case… Was it!?
The black thing began to grow and expand some more as it rose into the sky.
And it took me up and away with it… Ah, Sara-chan and the others were getting smaller and smaller down there!
Solan-kun was desperately running away from a black tendril below, shouting something and pointing behind himself as he did. I’ve got a bad feeling about that. Please stop!
My body reacted and was forcibly moved in the direction Solan-kun was pointing at.
It seemed my hunch was correct, as they usually were when they’re ominous premonitions.
In front of me, apart from the black object, the ground below was churning menacingly!
That space spread out across the ground like a spilled puddle of ink.
It was as if that the impenetrable black-like object carrying me had painted the ground itself, and it seemed to want to swallow me up. That looks bad. I mustn’t get close.
The black object was taking me straight towards that void!
Was… Was there anything!? Anything that can save me!
I reached out and reflexively grabbed something I saw in the corner of my eye. It was the window frame of the tower by the Training Grounds. For now, at least, by holding on, I’m not drawing any closer to that void.
As I held on, I looked down and scanned the scene.
The Training Grounds was overrun with black tendrils. They were everywhere–
The only difference from before was that we were floating, so Solan-kun and Irene-sama couldn’t get close… At least that’s what I think was happening.
What on earth was that thing we’re approaching? Looking back, I saw something scary. A relatively large tree branch was being sucked into the swirling black void.
–It was twisted and bent as it went in, disappearing.
“I can’t go in there! Somebody save me!”
My voice sounded pathetic as it echoed down, but I didn’t care.
I felt like multiple people were staring at me, but I didn’t care about that either… Just save me!
At my cry for help, the Knight Commander had appeared.
He was not in his usual neat uniform, but an ordinary indigo shirt and black pants.
His usually well-kept, short hair was wild, and he clutched his sword in hand.
But due to the black tendrils, even the Knight Commander couldn’t get close.
My fingers were starting to hurt…
I’m about to lose my grip…
“Ria! Keep thinking! Don’t let go!”
I heard Sara-chan raising her voice in fear.
The Knight Commander cut a gap through the tendrils, and Solan-kun and Irene-sama flanked him on either side.
I felt afraid at the glimpse I caught of Sara-chan’s serious and frustrated expression.
This was awful… Such an appalling situation… But my fingers were about to reach their limit.
I suddenly heard my Dragon’s call from behind me.
–He fell into the black space.
My Dragon had fallen!
He was only just on my back.
…But now, he’s fallen!
It happened the moment I got distracted.
My hand slipped.
A black tendril wrapped mercilessly around my body, dragging me towards the void.
Oh… It’s taking me into the darkness!
I raised my eyes from the overpowering blackness towards the direction of the voices.
Solan-kun’s head was slumped down, stunned, and defeated.
Irene-sama was desperately holding back a pale, crestfallen Sara-chan.
Sara-chan was screaming and crying loudly as she tried to rush towards me.
…I’ve never seen her like that before.
I saw the Knight Commander extending his hand out to me as I fell.
As I looked into his light blue eyes…
I felt a pain like I was being cut into a thousand pieces.
The dark void swallowed me up and closed itself off behind me.
I stared at my hand as it cut through the sky, unobstructed.
–No one had reached out to grab it, so why was I looking at it?
The black object which had troubled us so much had disappeared as if nothing had happened. The black void that had grabbed her was likewise gone.
Why not me?
“Ria! No! It can’t be!”
“Sa… Sara-san! Calm down!”
That woman, who had been spending time with Ria, knelt covered in dirt, desperately casting magic at the spot of the ground where Lady Rururia had vanished. I couldn’t tell from her gaze what she was thinking.
I couldn’t resolve things with magic the way she was trying to.
I knew it would be useless to stab the ground with my sword or dig by hand, but I couldn’t help but feel an urge to do so.
–I couldn’t remember ever feeling this helpless before.
–I couldn’t remember feeling so much regret as I did now, wishing I had stretched my arm a bit farther.
…Visions of her hand, just out of reach, welled up in my mind. My chest hurts.
I was falling. I kept falling and falling.
I thought I would be bent and twisted like that branch I saw earlier, but my body appeared to be in one piece… I think.
It was hard to tell, as it was so dark to the point where I couldn’t even see my hand.
Well, I didn’t feel any pain, so I’m okay… I think.
Even so, it was dark, and I couldn’t see my Dragon, which should have fallen in here earlier. I didn’t hear his cry, so perhaps I was entirely alone.
I’m just falling continuously in darkness.
When falling into such strange circumstances, I felt no fear.
How long was I going to keep falling?
There’s not some hard surface waiting for me at the bottom, was there?
Looking at my right, there was black. Looking at my left, was more black, and down below… Nothing but black surrounded me.
–Whatever this was…
Please let me land safely!