I was panicking.
It was an unexpected turn of events.
I was prepared for the possibility that something unexpected might happen, that events might deviate from what was supposed to happen… That’s why I invited Kataumi Aoi to this town and added her to our group.
But to think that an enemy from the “Middle Stage” would appear during the “Beginning Stage”… Could such an irregularity even happen?
“World Collapse – the power used by the “Four Heavenly Kings” in the “Middle Stage” including the lion. In this world, it cursed others and prevented them from using their magical powers. There was no way I could win through simple means.
After Kataumi Aoi transferred to our school, we gained a “Mid-Stage Power-Up,” and at that point, they could have defeated the lion. But at this moment, there was no way they could win.
However, I immediately thought of one surefire strategy.
First, the lion’s personality is that of a confident, heartless being who enjoys toying with and killing others. A truly dreadful enemy. No matter how much someone begs for their life or speaks nonsense, the lion will always prefer to see the suffering expression on their victim’s face more than anything.
Yes, that’s why there’s an opening.
First, I deliberately acted panicked and fled. Just kept running. And then there were the shadowy humanoid figures. They were his creations, his servants. Considering the lion’s personality, I was sure it would use them. So I planned to exhaust the lion, tire it out, and ultimately crush its hope before killing it. I could anticipate that from its personality.
We kept running, fleeing, and fleeing. Finally, the lion itself appeared. It must have been watching us all along. Looking down on us while we ran, it eventually got bored and decided to kill us.
But the one who had the lion cornered was actually me.
In this world, maintaining it consumes magical power. The longer it’s sustained, the greater the consumption. And the shadowy humanoid figures also use magical power. I had been focusing only on making it use its magical power. Magical power exists in both demons and monsters, and it directly relates to their strength. Defense power, attack power, abilities – I was well-versed in all of them. So first, I aimed to decrease its attack and defense power.
But that wasn’t enough. After all, we were unarmed, and our visual acuity should have decreased, making it impossible to see its movements. Even if I tried my best, it would end there.
However, that’s where I differ from the norm.
I’ve read “Masou Shoujo” countless times. Over and over again.
Naturally, when this enemy appeared, I realized what was hidden within me.
There was no clear indication in the “story,” but it was definitely there.
This lion has a peculiar habit ……
As the lion charged at us, I noticed its right foot dropped first.
When it raised its right hand, its middle finger moved slightly.
When it swung its left hand to the right, it stuck its tongue out for a moment.
The kick caused the ground to form a small mound as it made contact.
During the rapid attacks, the muscles throughout my body tightened, creating pressure. From there, I executed a six-hit combo with movements in the right, down, left, up, right, left directions – a total of six hits at maximum.
After that, I withdrew.
Furthermore, he is weak against taunts and won’t attack someone other than his chosen opponent.
For defense, if I know where the attack is coming from, I can just position myself there. If I know where it’s coming from, I can shoot my gun in that direction.
Of course, it’s a gamble. There might be a chance of making a mistake. I was anxious about that. However, at the same time, there’s someone I need to protect. If I back down, who will protect her? When I thought about that, I couldn’t afford to retreat.
And I had a feeling it would work out. It wasn’t just logic; it was intuition.
I also have luck on my side. So I’ll be fine.
With that decision, I faced the lion.
By depleting its attack power through magical power consumption, I could defend against it with my shield and penetrate its decreased defense using my gun.
In its original state, the shield would have been broken, and my gun wouldn’t have penetrated its muscles.
This was a hidden technique that only I could pull off.
With this, I managed to overcome the dire situation… But she…
“Hmph, it’s not like I needed any help. I could have handled it on my own. Izayoi just did whatever on his own, so I won’t thank you!”
Well, I wasn’t seeking gratitude in the first place. Besides, the lion was originally her opponent, so what she said wasn’t wrong.
After completing her Mid-Stage Power-Up, she was brought to the “World of Collapse” by the lion and defeated it there.
It was all thanks to rereading that part countless times that I was able to win.
While I was thinking about that, particles of light overflowed in the world. With the disappearance of the ruler of this world, we should be able to return to our original world. The gray world began to collapse.
In this colorless world of plants and wasteland, a sense of achievement flickered, however faintly.
My legs tremble. My hands tremble. It’s the first time I’ve felt death so close.
I had mentally prepared myself for this. When it was all over, the burden on my body was overwhelming. Just being able to breathe brought joy. It felt like a wonderful thing. Liberation from fear. That brought me joy.
But more than anything, I’m glad I could protect her. Just that. That’s all I thought about.
I wonder if such a big irregularity will happen in the future……I have to go to “Artemis” as soon as possible. While I’m at it, I should also ask the “fortune teller” to read my fortune again.……
As I’m thinking about this, she speaks to me.
“I-I could have won on my own too, so I just let you take the credit…”
However, her unusually tsundere behavior puzzled me. I know deep down that she isn’t really saying this from the heart.
Her face is now as red as an apple, almost as if she has a fever. She glances at me from time to time, only to quickly look away when my eyes meet.
With her arms crossed, she tries to act tough and tsundere, a combination I had seen in the “story,” but this time, it feels different. Perhaps, she’s actually angry.
Could it be that she’s upset about feeling the touch of her chest when I carried her on my back? Is that why she’s mad?
I had expected her to say a simple “Thank you” or “Cool,” but her silence and apparent anger were unexpected.
As the world gradually becomes engulfed in light, I continue pondering, and then suddenly, the world vanishes, and we both find ourselves back in our original world.
In the room of a certain author, it was winter. Clad in a kimono, the woman sat at a kotatsu (a low table with a heater underneath) and worked on her writing. She spread out documents on the kotatsu table and diligently wrote with a fountain pen.
After a while, she took a break and turned on the television.
[Backlash Over Story Structure]
[Do Not Taint the Former Glory]
[Currently, there is a surge of criticism towards newly released stories of popular completed works. There is growing dissatisfaction directed at authors and publishing companies.]
The woman sighed and changed the channel. She started watching a rerun of a drama while enjoying some rice cakes. Just then, her smartphone rang.
“Yes… It’s me.”
She weakly responded to the call and engaged in a conversation. As she listened to the notifications coming from her phone, she was both surprised and delighted.
“I see… The release is canceled… Although I had already finalized the plot, there’s nothing to be done. Yes… Yes… Well then.”
She chuckled to herself. She tore up the manuscript paper she had been working on and discarded it in the trash bin. She also tossed a notebook containing a plot into the trash. Then, she stretched her back and relaxed in the kotatsu, continuing to watch the drama.
The drama she watched had a happy ending.
“As expected, happy endings are the best…”
“Since everything has already ended, I wonder if I should just do as I please? It shouldn’t be a problem to create a story of salvation, right?”
Afterward, she took out another new notebook and began working on a new plot. She found the process of coming up with plots to be the most enjoyable.
“Perhaps I should include a protagonist of salvation, just for the sake of it. I won’t publish it, but uploading it online shouldn’t be an issue, right?”
Without asking anyone, she murmured to herself and giggled like a child. Then, she immersed herself in her thoughts for hours.
Finally, she picked up her pen and wrote the name of the protagonist in the notebook.
“Yes… That’s right. Let’s name the protagonist of this salvation story ‘Kuroda Izayoi’.”
“Are they alright, are they alright…”
“Calm down, Kohaku-chan…”
“But, but, aah, please come back… Please, please, please…”
After the two of them were taken away, we returned to his house once. The atmosphere among us was heavy, and we couldn’t stay like that any longer.
If they don’t come back like this, we might end up scattered. That’s what I can’t help but think. Aoi-chan doesn’t say a word, but it’s obvious she’s shaken.
Especially Kohaku-chan, I honestly can’t bear to see her like this. She must be worried about Karen-chan, but the fact that he’s not here is putting a heavy burden on her mind.
Mel-chan is investigating various things, but it seems she still doen’t know where he and Karen-chan are.
I want them to come back soon… I feel so lonely…
Both of them are important to me. Karen-chan saved me from loneliness. He reached out to me continuously.
Please, please, please… Come back.
As I wish for that, tears overflowed from my eyes.