All dat symbolism tho…
Chapter 363: The Power to Protect Everything
And I continued walking down the dark path.
Luckily, it seemed that proceeding down it was possible in itself.
On the way… I’m occasionally forced to take a break before I walk again, further, and further.
Eventually, various worlds start passing me by.
Honestly, I remember hallucinating that I was lost.
Sometimes I found myself in a desert, or a forest… This really is the gap that connects worlds.
But I never met anything, be it monster, animal, or human.
A place without the breath of life… I guess.
I often found my legs sprained and bruised.
But in order to reach that world in the sky I… walked on.
In that world, there’s Raphtalia. There’s everyone.
I decided to protect it.
Even if I crumble away while seeking my goal, I will…
The Four Holy Weapons’ Manual was in my hand.
I would regularly open it, and check for changes.
But the story isn’t proceeding.
Many times, I thought there would be no point, but I decided not to give up.
As I continued walking, quite a bit of time passed.
Was it a day, or a week or a month, or even more?
My sense of time is really dull here.
And in the world of the rift, I can’t really feel hunger.
In the desert, I was given the sensation of being so hungry I would keel over, and so thirsty I would wither away.
But still, I overcame it.
I get the feeling I’ve been walking for quite a long time, but still I have yet to reach it.
My body is telling me I’ve already walked the circumference of the world, but that’s probably an exaggeration.
It’s usually quite dark, so I really can’t tell.
But without the need for sleep, only fatigue piles onto itself.
I forgot that Arc was probably something similar to that Bitch Goddess.
For a human like me, there’s a great difference in our sense of time.
When I look in the sky, I see worlds other than the one I’m venturing to sticking to one another.
Is that… World Assimilation?
It really is like two soap bubbles.
My Hair is growing like crazy. Really, just how much time has passed?
But I don’t stop moving forward. I don’t plan on stopping.
I was sick of it when I wandered into a labyrinth-like world.
I wasn’t able to proceed in the direction I wanted to go.
This isn’t getting anywhere.
Occasionally, I see shooting stars collide with the worlds in the sky.
I wonder what those are.
I’ve started to lose a sense for just how far I’ve walked.
The scenery that remains constant for eternity, I’m sick of looking at the sky above me.
At that point, I was only walking by resolve alone.
It was around that time that my head started to go strange.
I began to hear voices.
If I turn around, I can immediately go to the world I came from.
I can forget everything, and write everything off as a dream. A voice whispered this in my ear.
But, I am… not going to stop proceeding.
I mean, I wasn’t able to run away.
There are people who believe in me.
There are people who depend on me.
There are people who want to get stronger for my sake.
And for those people, what can I do?
I can only use up my body to protect them.
I don’t intend to go out in that unreasonable way.
I started thinking as I walked.
I began to imagine how I would be able to combat that Bitch of a Goddess more efficiently.
At the start, I couldn’t get the slightest grasp of what to do, but if Arc’s words are true, then it’s not impossible.
The 0 Series can inflict damage.
Similarly, the Shield of 0 can endure hers.
Well my defenses were breached.
The order of the world?
Then let’s just rely on the order of another.
As I walk, I approach the problem again and again.
Just how can I get the order of the world to rest in my body?
I remember the concept of magic.
Magic is created in one’s self.
If it’s merely a manifestation of the power within, then I need to make it more efficient, so that it can help just a little bit more…. Just one step closer. I want the power to defeat Medea.
My disposition is for Healing and Support. The Shield interfered, but it’s still the same.
Then let’s wring out that nature.
Let’s refine the magic within me to its limits, and create one that can combat her.
Those thoughts eternally… until I began losing sense of myself, they continued circling around my head, and I remembered the Dragon Pulse Order.
Revelation was a mixture.
The Dragon Pulse Order manipulates the power outside.
With it… based on how you approach it, it’s like… borrowing power from the world.
What if I change the borrowing to theft, and abuse it as power of my own. Isn’t that how Medea’s rules work?
That’s why I’ll place importance in the borrowing part.
Luckily, here I’m able to accomplish that.
In the worlds I stopped by, I began polishing the Dragon Pulse Law.
Eventually… I worked out a way to release my own magic outside, and take the pulse within.
I searched for a way to borrow the world’s power, and fight.
In order to fill up your empty body, you borrow power from your surroundings.
While I was thinking about it, I felt the sensation of myself mixing with the world.
There’s still a way. Let me… grasp the nature of this.
When there’s nothing to do but walk, you really do think.
My body’s sense of time sure is strange.
It feels like… I’ve been walking for years and years, but it also feels like it’s only been a night.
As I think that… by the time I passed the next world, I felt something spill out from within me.
The next moment, I lost my voice.
There… was the familiar village I revived.
But no one was there. It had completely been abandoned.
“Oy! Is there anyone here!?”
I’ve returned. As I think that, I search through the village’s buildings.
But there wasn’t a single soul anywhere.
Could it be… the world has already fallen to ruin!?
A black emotion welled up in my heart.
But my desire to deny it calls out to my rationality.
They must have just changed base due to the war.
Yes, that’s right. That must be it.
And I entered what was once my house.
As I thought… it isn’t much different from how I remember it. My house.
…. What’s happened?
Did I not return?
I leave the house, and look into the sky again.
In it, a vast array of worlds was still spread out.
I’m still within the rift.
… I can’t give up.
No matter what happens… I decided never to give up.
I’m going to reunite with Raphtalia.
And with everyone.
Law of cause and effect, was it?
In the worst case, even if the Shield lends me power, will she be able to tamper with it to do unreasonable things?
Thinking back, wasn’t her attack based on that concept in the first place?
Then the changes my Shield carried out in my world were of a similar suit.
I can’t use the Shield forcefully like she does. Or perhaps I don’t have enough power.
I continue walking.
And I arrived at yet another world.
It was an infinitely expanding one-way staircase.
The place I just saw earlier was my own hallucination.
Then I’ll just keep on climbing.
And in that time, I tried to polish my own skills as much as possible. Little by little.
And… eventually, I was unable to tell the difference between magic from the outside or inside.
“Good job getting all the way here.”
At the top of the staircase, Arc was sitting as if he was waiting for me.
“Just a little longer, and you’ll reach it. A normal person wouldn’t be able to make it here.”
“Back there, I was a village I knew of.” (Naofumi)
“Right… that was a place you made with your own power, a place embedded in your memory, I think. Perhaps it was the shape created by your strong desire to return to that place? I mean, you have yet to reach the world you want to go to.”
“Take me already.” (Naofumi)
“When you’re this close, I don’t see the need to. It’s right before your eyes.”
… So that was something I created with magic.
Somehow, I get the feeling I’ve grasped something.
“Then I’ll be going on ahead.”
The agile Arc ran ahead of me on the path.
I tried chasing him, but I couldn’t keep up.
Just what sort of logic does this place run on?
The next place I found myself in was Fitoria’s ruins.
It’s a place I’ve come to once before. It’s nowhere unknown to me.
I tried to ignore it, and proceed, but I couldn’t get through the Forest of Illusions.
So I reluctantly proceeded through the ruins.
Eventually… I reached the stone house that that bottle was housed in.
“You’ve reached the goal. For you to be able to come all the way here, your resolve is truly something.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just let me go on.” (Naofumi)
Inside the house, the bottle still hangs.
“Have you heard anything about this bottle from the child who was keeping it?”
“Um… there was a bit of personal opinion added, but she did talk about it.” (Naofumi)
『At that time, the Hero said, ‘the first sip is eternal pain, the second, eternal solitude, and the third… a dreadful end.’』
“Having listened to me, does it sound familiar?”
“A little.” (Naofumi)
I mean, there was that annoying word, ‘eternal’, mixed in.
“The first sip will give you everlasting pain, and the second will give you an immortal body to watch those around you die for eternity.”
“The third was a dreadful end, right?” (Naofumi)
“This is, you see… The Elixir, Amrita, the Eternal Peach, Soma, Tajiku Nakaku. All of them are medicines of immortality. Well, it’s something like that.”
(TL Tajiku Nakaku is a mystical tree in ancient Japanese Legend whose fruit is said to give eternal youth. It is pursued by Tajimamori)
“Why something like that? She didn’t speak a word of it.” (Naofumi)
“I think it was a promise. Or else she would have been treated as an existence that threatened the world.”
“I see.” (Naofumi)
She may be a dim bird, but she’s one who honors her promises I guess.
Thinking about it, she was an existence that opposed the near-immortal Dragon Emperor, so she had to have been something like that.
“Dragons have a different role. I’m tolerating their actions for now.”
“I see.” (Naofumi)
“And I might add, in that world this medicine has been diluted several hundreds of times. Its effects are low. There are rules, you know.”
“Rules, you say.” (Naofumi)
“Looking at immortal beings, what do you think?”
“That’s unfair.” (Naofumi)
“Right. In this world, it’s against the rules, right? If possible, I would like to have the heroes kill her.”
“This is the undiluted form. If you take three sips of the diluted one, you’re forcefully summoned as a Hero, eventually set to die. But what do you think will happen if you drink this one?”
“It’s the concentrate… right? What’s more, this is… not that world.” (Naofumi)
“That’s right. What do you think?”
“In the first place, is there any need to kill… ah.” (Naofumi)
For incidents caused by those immortal, I guess.
“I’ve left it with a trusted child, so I think it’s fine for now. If something happened to it, I did plan on retrieving it.”
So Fitoria is his acquaintance.
two sips will make you immortal, right?
Then after that…
“Yep, It will grant you power for a battle without end. If you look at it from another angle, you become something like god. Easy, right?”
“But… it may not be necessary for you guys. I mean, after you’ve made it all the way here.”
And Arc closed the bottle.
“Us guys? Unnecessary?” (Naofumi)
“Ah, I’m sorry. Should I have warned you? As I thought, you never noticed. You guys, slipped through dimensions, so your awareness of it seems to be a bit off.”
I try using the new power I had attained.
Following his lead, I try to increase my perception. I try tuning into the channel of world where all my comrades are.
And there, was Raphtalia.
From her power, I could tell.
Raphtalia also talked with him, and came here by following the path.
The fact that our thoughts coincided made me a little happy.
“You guys continued walking your paths, and in the end, you changed yourselves. Do you feel it now? You spent an unfathomable amount of time out there.”
“Geh!? Then what happened to the world we were supposed to save?” (Naofumi)
“Ah, don’t worry about that. That’s what the charm was for. I had the flow of time sped up around you. I thought that if your wills were strong enough, you would be able to handle it.”
It’s true that I thought about the concept of magic as I walked, but that was still within the bounds of humanity.
Is he making fun of me?
“To be more specific, you’ve taken the first step. What do you want to do? Will you go further?”
“Please keep your jokes in moderation.” (Naofumi)
“It’s not a joke, but… I still don’t think you guys have a chance of winning. Just try increasing your perception a little more. If you don’t decide your direction, you won’t be able to find your power.”
I could somewhat grasp what he was saying.
What sort of fighting style do I have?
What I’ve been doing has always been protecting.
There were times when I did damage the enemy myself, but they number too few to count.
My essential direction… It’s as if I’m deciding my path to Class Up.
As the Hero of the Shield, I never was able to, but this reasoning isn’t wrong.
I also feel there’s something similar to that popping up in my field of vision.
“What possibilities do you want to expand?”
Ark puts his hands together, and asks.
“Ah, there was something called Class Up in your world, right? Please think of this as something like that.”
… What is this?
Since I’ve met up with Arc again, I’ve become able to sense his presence better.
Something like blood lust. Something that sends shivers down my spine is coming from him.
But for some reason, the person himself doesn’t seem to have any such intentions.
And wait, that doesn’t matter.
Let’s go become a god to beat up that Bitch Goddess.
“Even if you don’t decide, you’ll get power from the world you head to. But can you win with that? I think you’ll need to get something extra to win.”
“That’s right. It’s a half-assed power. I won’t be able to win against her.” (Naofumi)
“But if you drink that medicine from before, you will get plenty enough power to defeat her.”
Saying that, he held out that red drink.
My changed body could understand that it wasn’t out of any ill intent.
“… Understood.” (Naofumi)
“Then take this–”
“Wrong, with a power given to me by a stranger, I realize that I have no chance of winning.” (Naofumi)
Just like he has his own goal, I have mine.
If I get the power to Smack a Goddess, even after defeating her, my goal will not be fulfilled.
And with that, there’s no point.
“Raphtalia… yeah, that’s right.” (Naofumi)
My eyes meet hers.
And what she was trying to say was transmitted to me.
… I am the Shield that Protects others, and Raphtalia is my Sword.
I have decided my direction.
From the start, I could only ever become a Shield for someone else.
Then what is there for me to change?
What Raphtalia’s decision was, was also transmitted.
I… Iwatani Naofumi have the disposition to protect.
I won’t go against it. I’ll protect everyone from this absurdity.
From all unfairness… The power to protect everyone.
If I don’t get a dream-like power like that, there’s no point.
Raphtalia answered my feelings.
And of course, it wasn’t just Raphtalia.
My power cannot stem from me alone.
There’s only meaning in my power when I have those I need to protect.
“You guys really are connected. I think it’s amazing. You trust the other person so much, and decided your directions to complement each other.”
I feel the world expand around me.
I never noticed it before, but power is overflowing in my body.
A power that transcends the previous me.
… With this, I’ll be able to fight on an equal power with the Goddess Medea.
I mean, isn’t that right?
I’ve become the same sort of existence as the enemy.
Now all I have to do is develop a physical plan for victory.
It’s simple to understand. A Symbol to protect everyone… It’s simple.
I inject my own power, and the power outside into the Shield Strap, that had pretty much lost everything.
Three powers different powers fuse, and a new Shield is formed.
Its strength is incomparable to before.
All the power I have is sent directly to defense.
This is truly the power to protect, from all things.
“Trust is the key to power, but dependence is something else entirely. Please take that to heart; though I think you two will do fine.”
As our views expanded, we noticed that behind Arc was a gate.
“Don’t you think it’s about time you set off? I don’t think you have too much time left, you know.”
I open the Four Holy Weapons’ Manual
It was written on the page.
The Melromark’s army formation collapsed, and the reincarnators were closing in on Melty.