Chapter 315: Spirit
Where am I?
I understand that someone had appeared to explain why I had seen those scenes before my eyes.
But upon seeing the form of my benefactor, I was at a loss for words.
The Dead Atlas was floating in the air in front of me.
I needed to… confirm whether she was real or not, so I hugged her.
“Ah… my ambition… my life’s goal…” (Atlas)
Yep, it’s the real one.
Even so, even death didn’t change her.
No, perhaps she’s an illusion created from my memory.
“Is this the afterlife, or something?” (Naofumi)
“Naofumi-sama, hug me more.” (Atlas)
“Enough of that. Please tell me!” (Naofumi)
Maybe my soul wandered around, and saw those dialogues.
I still feel that I haven’t died, but my injuries may have rendered my brain-dead, or something.
How unpleasant. I left the world a loser.
To finally die after being beaten to this extent isn’t something I wish for.
I thought I was surely bound for hell with my lifestyle, but is this really all there is to the world of the dead?
This strange space can’t be heaven.
“About your question as to whether this is the underworld. To put it frankly, it’s not.” (Atlas)
Atlas smiles brightly as she answers.
Ah, so I jumped to conclusions.
If this is neither heaven nor hell, perhaps I’m deep in my own unconscious. No, it may be a space created by the legendary weapon, or something like that.
I mean, that sort of scene appeared in a manga I read a while ago.
“I see. Atlas, are you in any pain?” (Naofumi)
“Nope, I don’t feel anything.” (Atlas)
“And where is this?” (Naofumi)
“If I had to say, it would be the world of Naofumi-sama’s Shield… no, that’s wrong. I guess it’s the world of the Legendary Weapons.” (Atlas)
Now that I think about it, all of the scenes I saw were centered around the heroes.
Ren, Motoyasu, Itsuki, Fohl, Rishia, and Trash.
Everyone was selected by their weapons.
“Can I also look at that Hero of the Whip? Though it’s stolen goods, he does have my shield.” (Naofumi)
“Yes, but your Shield hasn’t been stolen, you know.” (Atlas)
“Hah? No, I definitely saw him take it.” (Naofumi)
“With just that much power, it’s impossible to completely take away one of the Four Great Weapons. He can only maintain its appearance, and a minimal amount of its power. He won’t be able to tap into its full potential.” (Atlas)
Atlas forms a ring with her arms, and when I peer in, I see the Whip… guy calmly looking over a battlefield with a smile on his face.
He’s happily conversing with Witch.
After that, another woman came and talked to him, and Witch made an unpleasant expression. But her face quickly changed to the smile that she used to scheme.
It’s truly an irritating scenario.
“I don’t really think I want to observe this one.” (Naofumi)
“That’s right.” (Atlas)
“And? Why am I in a place like this?” (Naofumi)
“The Spirit of the Shield, who’s been lending you power all this time, called you here.” (Atlas)
“I see… from that accursed Shield.” (Naofumi)
“Yes, from that accursed Shield.” (Atlas)
Next to Atlas, a ball of light bobbed up and down.
Is this the spirit of the Shield?
What an unreliable appearance it has there.
As if it had read my mind, the ball’s bobbing amplitude increased.
“It’s making an honest apology.” (Atlas)
“Oh, I see. Let me punch it.” (Naofumi)
Here’s your retribution for summoning me randomly without consent.
The Spirit of the Shield quickly slipped behind Atlas.
It appears to be shaking.
To hide behind a little girl…
“I understand how you feel, but apart from the first generation of Heroes, Naofumi-sama is the first one to ever make it here.” (Atlas)
“Ah, I see. And what does that spirit over there want with me?” (Naofumi)
“It wants Naofumi-sama to make a decision.” (Atlas)
Around me, balls of light similar to the Spirit of the Shield gather.
These are likely the spirits of the other weapons.
One, two, three… Why are there twelve of them?
Among them, including the Shield, four of them are differently colored.
There are eight left.
If there are seven stars, what’s the last one?
“Yes. Honestly speaking, the Spirit of the Shield-sama has made a decision to abandon the world to its fate.” (Atlas)
“… Abandon?” (Naofumi)
“Yes. So the Spirit of the Shield has called you here to ask if you want to be compensated for your services ahead of time.” (Atlas)
“It’s a reward given to Heroes who have saved the world, or to those that overcame the wave. A reward from the Legendary Weapons.” (Atlas)
After asking a few questions to the floating orbs, she speaks to me.
A reward for saving the world…
You should have started out with that line.
“The first option: a return to your original world. In this case, you can get three wishes on that side. They can be for anything.” (Atlas)
“Anything, you say…” (Naofumi)
“Are you worried about the law of cause and effect in your world? That can be tampered with to some extent… you can become rich, get a good job, and live your whole life without trouble without negative consequences. But things like immortality aren’t possible, he says.” (Atlas)
“Since he’s abandoning the world anyways, he can’t grant you anything that lasts forever. The most is being able to bring the girl you like with you.” (Atlas)
“Atlas, what about you?” (Naofumi)
“I am always with Naofumi-sama. So I am not included in the count. I will follow you to your world.” (Atlas)
Hmm… it’s not bad for a reward.
I truly do wish to return to my world, and there isn’t much else I want.
“You can take Raphtalia-san and return to your world, forget about the battles, and live a peaceful life. At least, the Spirit of the Shield proposes as such. Of course, he’ll make it so that that nothing bad will befall her from living in your world.” (Atlas)
“… Why Raphtalia?” (Naofumi)
“Wait, so you guys aren’t like that? The Spirit of the Shield asks as such.” (Atlas)
Raphtalia can come to my world, and we can live our lives together… it’s not a bad option.
Of course, Raphtalia’s feelings are important as well, but she did say that she loved me.
We do have a bit of an age difference, but her appearance is that of an adult, and the Spirit of the Shield said nothing bad would happen to her.
Yes, as a reward for my work up ‘til now… it’s not bad.
“Tell me the other options.” (Naofumi)
Atlas continues speaking.
“Option two: stay in this world, and be revered as a Hero for the rest of your life. Most heroes chose this options, apparently.” (Atlas)
I don’t really get it, but I guess a Hero who performed his duty normally would choose it.
In truth, as long as they averted their eyes from the crappy reality of the Fantasy World, it would be heaven.
“That doesn’t sound like a reward to me.” (Naofumi)
“Fight for the people, make your own standing, and make the world you saved with your own hands shine brilliantly. Rise up in the world. Says the Spirit of the Shield.” (Atlas)
“And that’s supposed to sound good!?” (Naofumi)
How laid back is this Shield!?
For the love of god… Humans aren’t built well to be satisfied by an explanation like that.
“The third option is to be sent back to your original world, but to be given the right to return back to this one.” (Atlas)
“Is there any meaning in that?” (Naofumi)
“No idea…” (Atlas)
Ah… but if you were able to come and go as you pleased, it might be nice.
Once you finish what you have to do in one world, you set up a home in the other.
It’s not like I don’t see where they’re coming from. But this world is rotten, so I refuse.
For a moment, the smiles of my villagers pop up in my mind.
I do want to return.
“…There are plenty of things I want to ask.” (Naofumi)
The Spirit of the Shield bobs lightly, and conveys its will to Atlas.
“What is it?” (Atlas)
“Do I have to decide now?” (Naofumi)
“… Yes, that seems to be the case. If you wait, the Spirit won’t have the time. IF the world isn’t at peace, it can’t do anything.” (Atlas)
So I can return here.
What’s more, I can bring along Raphtalia.
I’m in the middle of treatment, and my conscious won’t return. Raphtalia is desperately calling out to me, trying to return me to the world.
“Why? Why has he come to say this now?” (Naofumi)
When I was silenced, when I went through hard times, when I was about to die, why did he never call out to me?
What meaning is there in him offering me these proposals now?
“To tell you the truth… Naofumi-sama’s life as the Shield has been crueler than any of those past, according to the spirit.” (Atlas)
The Spirit of the Shield, and the orbs of the same color begin spinning in a circle.
Well. I’m quite honored.
So I’m the only goodie-two-shoes who had the misfortune to meet a vixen like Bitch.
Though Ren and the others were deceived as well.
“By the end of this, us legendary weapons will have been so drained by the enemy’s hand, that we my be unable to fight any longer. So from this crumbling world, we need to at least save the heroes we forcefully summoned to it… The Spirits are saying as such.” (Atlas)
“Really? You’re a bit late on that one.” (Naofumi)
“The fact that you’re on the verge of death is another factor, apparently. They’ll also approach the Sword, Bow, and Spear, if they ever come this close to death, they say.” (Atlas)
“If I were to return here, the people from my village, and this country… what will happen to the world?” (Naofumi)
“It will likely… fall to ruin. Says the Spirit of the Shield.” (Atlas)
I can’t take them all.
That means in my world… there will only be Raphtalia.
If I made her abandon this world, and part with everyone, what would she say? What sort of face would she make?
And… I am…
I remember the words Atlas imparted unto me before her death.
“I… won’t return yet. I’ll go after I’ve saved the world. I’ll return once I’m satisfied with the result.” (Naofumi)
I truly wanted to return.
But the current me has things that I have to protect.
People I can’t forgive. People that I have to defeat.
So until I’m satisfied, I have to stay.
More importantly, I don’t even know if they’re telling the truth.
If I said I wanted to return at once, I may achieve the, ‘You’re no Hero, now die!’ bad end.
I’ve really been playing too many video games, haven’t I…
I push these unnecessary thoughts to the back of my mind, and see the place the Shield was glowing brightly.
Does this mean the Shield Spirit thingy is happy?
“… Are you certain? Your decision here may spell your doom. Are you sure you won’t regret it?” (Atlas)
“If you ask me if I regret it, I’m sure I will. But instead of returning, and wallowing in my regret, I’ll regret while I’m here. I have too many burdens I have to carry… Unless I drop them where they’re supposed to be, I cannot return.” (Naofumi)
Instead of dropping out of the race, I select the good end where everyone has their own set of wheels.
Then I can load up my own emotional baggage, and drive away with ease.
If I can bring Raphtalia with me, then she’ll have to choose that for herself.
And once I make that village happy, I’ll go home.
I really have picked up too many troublesome things…
But for some reason, I don’t feel bad about it.