Chapter 356: Levelling
“Oh, great Queen of Melromark!” (Medea)
The Queen indifferently surveys the area around her.
“M-Mirellia, is that you?” (Trash)
The Queen doesn’t give an answer to Trash’s question.
“Now, take lead of this army, and destroy those that oppose us.” (Medea)
As she saluted, the Queen was teleported, perhaps through Medea’s magic, to an area much further back.
And from that moment forth, the coordination of those offering support in the back suddenly improved.
Is this betrayal? Could it be that she never actually died, and was but a pawn of the Goddess?
Was your wife a traitor?
Before I can ask, Trash shakes his head.
“That’s not possible! That is… that is!” (Trash)
Trash angrily scowls at Medea.
“Yes, I dragged her soul out and revived her to make her one of my pieces. Right now, she can only move by my will. Ara? Would it be best if I didn’t tell you that?” (Medea)
Trash’s enraged voice echoes.
So that means… the Queen is forcefully being controlled.
… Right. There’s no way that Queen would ever turn coat.
Just how much manga have you read, and how many games have you played, Iwatani Naofumi?
When the dead are brought back, they’re usually being controlled, or zombies.
Just how low can she go, this one!?
Thinking about it, she can manage reincarnation.
That’s ample evidence that she can revive the dead.
What’s more, the Queen’s become her marionette.
Damn! She’ll be exceedingly hard to deal with.
And wait, the reincarnators aren’t the slightest bit put off by her actions?
Perhaps she made up a story to them, or perhaps… we were the only ones aware of that scene?
“「Arrow Rain」! Quickly! The ring leader… the enemy!” (Itsuki)
Itsuki unleashes a rain of arrows on those duking it out with Motoyasu.
Ah, that’s right.
If we defeat Witch’s origin point, Medea, then perhaps everything will be resolved.
From what I’ve seen, her forces have strong Support Magic cast on them, but since they have no cooperation, thay’re ridden with friendly fire.
Us, the Heroes at the front, will probably have to be the ones to take charge.
Or else the ones behind us won’t follow!
「Phoenix Gale Sword X」!
「Full Buster X」!
「Shield Prison↦ Change Shield(Attack)↦ Iron Maiden X」!
We all release our most powerful skills at Medea.
The bird of fire envelops the spear of light, which absorbs the beam fired from the gun. The combination collides with Medea, and the resulting explosion is contained within the Shield Prison. The shields change to ones laden with spikes, and an Iron Maiden envelops it all.
Did that do any damage!?
“… You guys aren’t any fun.”
Medea stood there with a sullen expression, as if nothing had happened to her.
It looks like she deployed a sturdy barrier.
Ku… even the combination of our strongest attacks isn’t enough to scratch her.
We’ll have to get Raphtalia and the others to help us before trying again.
But they’re busy with the Reincarnators, and Glass’s world’s army. The situation is quite severe.
Luckily, the enemy’s looking down on us, and floating annoyingly nearby.
Ren glances at me.
An enemy this strong, and the weapons we’ve collected up until now. Within our skills…
It seems everyone else understands as well.
We ignore the entire army for a single moment. No…
「Meteor Wall X」!
The skill I use surrounds us, and everyone… chants a skill at Medea.
「… of Ø」
Right, it seemed too strange for a skill to do absolutely nothing.
I thought it odd that they mocked us with a skill meant for nothing but showing off, so me, Ren and Itsuki consulted one another.
If we ever encountered an enemy too strong, we would leave the possibility open to use it to see if it did anything.
I never thought a chance to use it would present itself so soon.
Medea, who had continuously showed us her lax impression, suddenly got into a panic.
So it’s true…
The Ø skills glow as they shoot off towards her.
The warring reincarnators and their armies stop moving.
So we can beat her with this.
Before I could finish my sentence, a single beam of light passed by me.
No, I couldn’t even follow what happened with my eyes.
Something went through, and I merely looked in its direction by instinct.
What I saw was the moment when Motoyasu, who was standing in the middle of the battlefield, collapsed. He had been pierced by something.
His party members rush over to him.
But Motoyasu’s body isn’t moving in the slightest.
“How dare you place an injury on my body!”
… The only wound left on Medea was a small scratch on her hand.
Seeing his limp, motionless body, I couldn’t muster any words.
Motoyasu’s body glowed gold, and dispersed into the air.
As if no one had been lying there to start with.
“That was a bit surprising. I didn’t think… you were this good. But how unfortunate for you. I’m not so fragile as to fall from something like this.” (Medea)
Medea surveys the area, and scrunches her eyebrows, as she starts counting us.
“One… two… three… Eleven in total? That’s quite a bit. With this much, it feels a bit unbalanced. There are still three holy weapons left, and Vassals, was it? Even though I did so much, there’s still eight left. This is the worst.” (Medea)
She glares at me.
“Just how far did you intend to get in my way, despite being but a measly shield?”
“Like I care! Don’t advance the conversation by yourself!”
What’s the source of all of this trying to say?
Motoyasu just died! But I can’t lose it here.
Ren and Itsuki probably get it as well.
They contain their rage as they calmly consider ways to defeat her.
“Just what is your objective!? For what purpose did you cause something like the wave!?” (Naofumi)
“Fufufu, you wanna know?” (Medea)
Looking down on all of us, Medea laughs.
“If I had to say, I guess it’s to make myself stronger. If I had to put it in your boorish words, then I wanted to raise my level.” (Medea)
“How… for something as petty as that… you started all this unproductive violence!?” (Itsuki)
Itsuki screams out as he clenches his bow.
Me too… no, all of the ones who heard her words share the sentiment.
Raising her level, you say!?
For something as worthless as that, we lived through our days of hell!?
Through the wave, many lost their lives, and many lost their loved ones. Even so, we kept fighting on to bring an end to it all. And yet the enemy’s goal was merely leveling.
Don’t fuck with me…
“Say what you will. Now then, let’s slay the evil heroes!” (Medea)
Medea’s words send the enemy rushing forward at once.
Their powers seem to have been raised to a strange extent, and even for me, the most I can do is block them.
“Ah, right, right. You guys are a bit too strong, so I’m going to have to kill a few of your Heroes to give us a handicap, kay?” (Medea)
Medea holds her hand in front of her, and a half-transparent sword made out of energy appears in it. She points it at us.
“Good bye.” (Medea)
I immediately spring forward, and protect Ren, Raphtalia, Firo, Fohl, Midori, and all the heroes who were on the front lines.
「Shield of Ø」!
If the others had enough output to overcome a god’s defense… then I should be able to withstand it with this.
“Ah, how sad.” (Medea)
For me, it felt as if the world had just stopped.
And in that stagnant world, Medea was the only one moving.
“With defense of your level, it’s impossible.” (Medea)
“Let’s see. 100% Deadly Aim, 100% Death, 『Infinity Destroyer』. Yep, you’re dead.” (Medea)
(TL: Deadly Aim is the ESPer skill that’s a level above Itsuki’s described in chapter 261)
White, and black. Red was also mixed in. An infinite amount of lines circle.
They merge into a single narrow beam, and fly towards me.
Just like with the attack that killed Motoyasu, I can’t follow it with my eyes.
Yes… I guess you could call it death.
It’s like she materialized the concept of death itself. That’s the sort of feeling I got.
I don’t know why I was able to see it.
In truth, Medea’s attack was much faster than my own sense of perception, so there’s no way I should have been able to see it.
It’s as if she had bypassed the entire effect animation, leaving only the message 『Enemy has been Killed』 behind. A patchwork of time that left only the result.
W-what is… this!?
By luck, or miracle, I…. block the attack with my Shield.
It felt as if I had successfully blocked it.
I also had confidence in the fact that I hadn’t died yet.
“Ara? You blocked it? For you to be able to take an attack whose speed surpassed infinity, you must be quite the lucky one.” (Medea)
Speed that surpasses infinity?
Is this one alright in the head? Her words are going all over the place.
No, it was true that I was unable to understand the enemy’s attack.
The fact that I was able to block it was truly just a miracle. It’s like she had merely sent the blast flying to the area where my Shield was fastened.
If she shoots again… I’m dead.
“Then how about this? It wastes a needless amount of power, so I don’t like using it, but I guess there’s no choice.” (Medea)
… The moment after Medea said that, I died.
As if a switch had been turned off. As if the power had been cut, my consciousness was instantly sent adrift.
I truly did not understand just what it was that Medea did.
“You’d probably hate dying without even knowing the reason, so let me tell you. Your past, present future. I directed an attack on all of the yous in all parallel and divergent worlds in existence.” (Medea)
By the time I was aware of my surroundings once more, I was in the air.
In no time at all, the HP bar on my Status had reached 0.
Ren was the same, and…
Raphtalia immediately reached her hand out to me.
I try to answer her warmth by raising my arm, but I can’t put any power in.
“In the name of god, just vanish into oblivion!” (Medea)
My body’s been torn to pieces, but still, she continues to attack…
“Now fall into the rift between dimensions! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Medea’s painful laugh echoes through my ears endlessly.
Not yet… move, my body!
I’m in the middle of being blown away!
When I looked down, what I was… was my torso being minced into miniscule pieces.
“Ara? The Hammer Wench got mixed in too? Well I guess that’s enough to balance the odds, right? I’ve kept you waiting for a while, but it’s finally time to start the game.” (Medea)
When I thought I had finally been freed from her laugh, my field of vision warped, and my mind went far away.
… So my end comes like this. Randomly killed for reasons I don’t even get?
Up until now, I’ve tried so hard. I’ve desperately battled my way here, and without being able to save… to protect everyone, I’m going to die like a dog?
Then what the hell have we been doing up until now?
Was the reason they were all born simply to build up EXP?
Don’t fuck with me… as If I’d let that be reality.
At least let me offer some resistance.
But for the current me, that wish was impossible to grant.
If I close my eyes here, I’ll definitely be dead.
… No, I’m quite sure I already am.
I don’t know why, but I recognize the fact that I’m dead.
Ah… so that’s it.
So I’m… already dead.
Then this is the revolving lantern.
My memories start to revive, and spin around before me.
It really was a crappy life.
I immersed myself in Manga and Games at a whim, and after complained about my world all the time. Then I was summoned here.
In this terrible alternate world, I tried my best, and met Raphtalia.
I met Firo. I met Melty. I cleared my name of my false crimes.
I defeated a giant enemy, and I met Atlas. I met Fohl, and I met the villagers. I made up with Ren, the other Heroes, and Trash, whom I had made out to be my enemies.
And from here on, it was supposed to have gotten better…
Why, why must it be so unfair….
No matter how hard I struggled, no matter what sad things I faced, in the end… the Hero is supposed to beat the Demon King. He’s supposed to bring peace to the world. He’s supposed to make everyone happy…
Can’t I get an ending like that?
Haha… In the end, I’m just the same as all of them. So I was just being dragged along by my optimistic ideals stemming from my game knowledge…
… I know. From that day, and all the days up until know, I’ve had the fact pounded in me enough to make me vomit.
It isn’t that easy.
No matter what you do, it’s always unfair, and there’s despair you have no ways of fighting against. That’s reality.
Raphtalia… Atlas… everyone.
If I can’t move a single finger on my hands anymore, at the very least, let me move my heart.
Why I’m saying this, even I don’t know… Ah, so that’s how it is.
What’s with this? While I kept saying this and that, didn’t I actually like this world quite a bit?
“Everyone. My power was barely able to banish three of the Evil Heroes from this world, and to the gap between dimensions…”
And Like that, I dies meaninglessly. I was ripped appart without even leaving anything to bury.
After sinking into deep darkness, my conscious resurfaced.
My mind was faint, as if I had just become a ghost.
The sound of pages flipping, and a slight dusty scent.
It was so quiet, and yet so nostalgic, I began to remember all I had forgotten.
My voice works.
What is this? My eyes had been closed.
Then all I have to do is open then. Isn’t that obvious? I open my eyelids… and lost my voice once more.
— I was in a familiar library.
While sitting in one of their installed chairs, I got up, as if I had merely dozed off.
I turn my eyes to the calendar and clock on the reception desk.
… Since I read the Holy Weapons Manual, and was sent to another world, only 30 minutes have passed.
I… confirm the cover of the book in my hands.
The Four Holy Weapon’s Manual.
And this time, the Hero of the Shield’s accomplishments were recorded as well.
It was… a recording of the tracks I followed. An outline of my story.
And like that, the Hero of the Shield was defeated by the enemy of the world, the Goddess Medea.
The remaining bow, and his companions continued to fight on…
The next page was blank.
I turn back, and start reading from the beginning.
It appears the contents of the book have changed quite a bit from the first time I read it.
In the start, the Hero of the Shield was set up to meet the Princess and the King, and his relationship with the other Heroes wasn’t the best. Oh my, how kind of you to put it like that.
What does this mean?
A dream… like hell!
There’s no way that all of it could have been a dream.
I confirm my own appearance once more.
My garments were those I wore before being sent away.
Look closer. There’s no way that was a dream!
Something, there has to be something! Like I’d let all of that be written off as a dream!
I turn around to confirm the source of that voice.
“A-are you alright, Naofumi-sama?”
“Wha… Raph… talia?”
Raphtalia held one of her hands on her head, as she woke up.
Without any words escaping my lips, I froze up.
There’s no way I would let it end as a dream, but I never thought I’d find Raphtalia as my proof.
“Hmm? Naofumi-sama, your clothes are… mine too…”
Raphtalia tilts her head at the clothes she’s wearing.
Just what happened?
I look at the place my Shield used to hang.
And there, was a pitiful strap made of chains, with a familiar jewel in the center. My Shield.
(TL Note: This is apparently what people were calling the original ending. I do not see any indication as such, and think people are possibly misinterpretting the word original here)