Arifureta After II The Finally Arriving Absurdity
Letting out a small groan, the sleeping Kouki opened his eyes.
He stared absentmindedly at the ceiling, it was the unchanging guest room of Arquette feudal lord's mansion.
Kouki who was uneasy that perhaps that time he spent with Moana, the uproar with Rothko and others, all of those might be only a dream and he was actually dead as he thought, he leaked out that whisper and sighed in relief.
He looked around, but there was no one in the room. The door that was tragically blown away by Moana was also back just like before.
Kouki tried ascertaining his body's condition.
(-, I'm still far away from complete recovery……. My right arm and left side are in the worst condition. My bones aren't completely fixed too yet. But the small wounds are healed. As for my physical exhaustion……perhaps, it's about forty percent recovered? My magic power……it's used for healing so, it's still barely at twenty percent.)
Kouki let out a large sigh in exasperation and his body sunk into the bed.
Looking at outside the window, the sun was slightly sinking. It would be evening in just a few more hours. He remembered that when he first woke up the sunlight was the same like this, so he must have been sleeping for a full day.
He stared at the sky from the window for a while.
It was really quiet.
Kouki's heart was also at ease like the silence of the room.
(Since I came to this world, this is the eight days I think? Even though it's only a week, I had spent a really deep time here. ……Nagumo too, did he feel like this when he was at the abyss? No, from what I saw at the image in the ice and snow cavern, it was worse for him. He also got his arm eaten right from the start. It's already lucky that I still have all my limbs.)
That guy was someone who he held an extremely complicated feeling against, but since he dropped out from school and traveled across Tortus, Kouki frequently thought about Hajime.
That was also the case when he decided to stay behind at Arquette.
No matter what, he couldn't help but be conscious of that man.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration even if he called him someone who changed his everything.
He wondered how he should think about him, or perhaps just like how Hajime didn't think anything──or feeling indifferent about Kouki if speaking frankly, perhaps he should also be like that and stopped worrying about it.
He had also found the answer about his feeling toward Hajime where he didn't have any conclusion about it before. No, he was finally able to recognize his feeling where he had been averting his eyes all this time.
(That guy surely doesn't give a damn at all about me but……I absolutely will meet him one more time and talk to him.)
A small smile surfaced on his lips. It was a smile without any gloominess in it, it could even be called a fearless smile. It was a truly manly smile that Kouki had never made until now.
「At any rate……」
He was really hungry. No, honestly speaking he was feeling abnormally hungry.
There was a water pitcher nearby filled with fruit juice that was giving off good smell, so it was likely he could replenish his body fluid and nutrition from it, but as expected his stomach seemed to demand solid food.
The moment he became conscious of it, his stomach howled *guuo-*.
Kouki somehow lifted his body that was wrapped in pain and terrible fatigue and sat up on the bed. He pulled off the blanket and Kouki's body that became exposed was covered all over with bandage and gauze.
Kouki instantly felt dizziness right after he stood up, but he shook his head slightly and endured it with effort. He made a wry smile seeing his body was shaky more than he imagined before he wore the clothes that were put nearby.
His old clothes must have been disposed with how ragged they had become. It wasn't anywhere nearby, but in their place was soldier clothing with white as the base. The size fit him snugly. The smooth texture felt pleasant on his skin.
Kouki put his clothes in order for the time being before he slowly headed toward the door.
He opened the door and came out into the corridor.
His eyes met another's. Sitting on a chair placed at the corridor was──Lilin.
A memory surfaced in his mind The approaching face of the girl. And then, the soft sensation that his cheek felt. And then, an instant of beastly nature that Moana showed after that.
Kouki's body shivered all over.
That look, that look was something he had seen before. Those eyes were……yes those eyes. Those were the same eyes with the eyes showed by the wive~s of the demon king when they were targeting their husband.
'That's absurd', Kouki shook his head while thinking so.
「Kouki-sama, are you all right? It's no good unless you rest peacefully. Now, please return to the room and lie down.」
Lilin seemed to think that Kouki's condition was still not good seeing him shivering like that. She worriedly walked toward Kouki and gently supported his body.
「Ah, no, I'm fine already, Lilin-san. For some reason I'm feeling really hungry, so I'm wondering if I can ask for some kind of food.」
Kouki wished that she would move away a bit from him because he was really all right. Lilin was supporting Kouki with her hand naturally circling around Kouki's waist to rest on his stomach, so her body was sticking close to him. She was a girl with slender body type, but her body had enough feminine softness in it.
However, Lilin's sense of distance didn't change.
「Understood. Then I will go to bring the food. That's why, please take a rest Kouki-sama. The healers said that you absolutely must rest for a week.」
After saying that, Lilin urged him to go back into the room. Her tone was just like usual, but it somehow felt like it allowed no argument from him. Kouki obediently followed her.
「Err, Lilin-san is──」
「It's fine to just call me Lilin. It's also fine to not speak politely like that with me.」
「Call me Lilin.」
「Wh, why are you suddenly──」
「I, I understand. Lili──」
「I, I got it already, Lilin.」
Lilin nodded in satisfaction! Kouki wilted down!
Wanting to change the atmosphere somehow, Kouki spoke the continuation of his interrupted question.
「Then Lilin, why were you in front of my room?」
「……It's Moana-sama's order. She told me to take care of Kouki-san.」
「? Then isn't it fine if you stay normally inside the roo……」
「I also thought the same. But Moana-sama told me 『It will be problematic if a mistake happen, so you must not enter the room when Kouki is unconscious. Breach of order will be punished strictly, keep that in mind』. So it can't be helped.」
「I, I see. Then it really can't be helped!」
Speaking about a mistake that might happen when Kouki was unconscious……
Kouki got the feeling that he must not pursue that line of thought deeper, and he expressed his agreement 「Can't be helped!」 strongly.
Kouki attempted to change the topic. For some reason Lilin let out a small snigger while looking at Kouki with a sidelong glance.
「And then, about that Moana, and also Rothko-san and others, what are they doing right now?」
「……Both of them, they are busy with various things like repairing Arquette, making contact with the capital, and so on. They are rushing around everywhere.」
「I see……about the , do they appear again since then?」
「No, everything's fine. Now, I'll go ask for food, so Kouki-san please go to sleep right away. Right now the most important thing is for you to rest. After all you really almost died.」
Lilin pushed Kouki to the bed while saying that before walking quickly to exit the room.
There, Kouki suddenly noticed.
Yes, right now the citizens could also go outside and they should be running around to repair Arquette. In this feudal lord mansion there should be civil officers and vigilance corps rushing around busily.
(……It's too quiet?)
He focused his hearing. There wasn't a single sound.
Lilin who was about to go out to the corridor turned around and replied at Kouki casually.
「What's with the soundproofing?」
Lilin stopped still with her gaze going stiff. Kouki didn't overlook that.
「Bull's eye huh. Is it the work of wind art?」
「……Yes, right. It's my blessing art.」
「Why? Why are you applying soundproofing?」
「It's so Kouki-san can rest peacefully.」
Certainly, that must be the truth. Currently Lilin showed no sign of agitation. However, if that was the case then she should be able answer without getting shaken when she was asked the reason of the soundproofing.
Kouki's instinct was sounding the alarm bell that there was something, that something not good happened.
「If that's so then dispel the art for me. I'm awake already, so it's fine right? No, I also want to look at how everyone is doing, as I thought I'll go myself to ask for the meal.」
「Ple, please wait, Kouki-san. I told you already that you still need a peaceful rest for now!」
Lilin rushed back toward him looking slightly panicked and pushed down Kouki who was trying to get up from the bed.
Kouki sent a straightforward gaze toward Lilin who was putting her hands on his shoulders to make him lie back down.
「What's going on?」
「Lilin, tell me. Right now, what is happening? What are you hiding from me?」
Kouki grasped Lilin's shoulders instead and pressed her with his question. Receiving the strong gaze that didn't let her to beg off the question, Lilin's eyebrows lowered down with a troubled look.
「If I tell you……will you promise to rest quietly?」
「……In other words, there is something going on that will make me unable to rest quietly and rush out instead?」
「Uu, please stop reading behind the line!」
Kouki's hands that were tightly grasping Lilin's shoulders became stronger. His will to not let her ran away could be seen clearly. The more time passed, the more Lilin's gaze swam around everywhere.
「If Lilin doesn't tell me, then I'll run out by myself and ask someone else.」
「Aah geez-. I'll tell you already-, so please promise to not act as you please!」
「Got it, tell me.」
Lilin's shoulders dropped in dejection, then a beat later, she began talking with a serious and grim expression.
「There was notification from the capital. Right after we sent reinforcement here, an army of invaded the capital. The seemed to be confirmed among the army.」
「-, so he recovered……」
「Not just that, two territories near Arquette were also assaulted at the same time. In order to dispatch the soldiers, messenger to tell the nearest surveillance base to dispatch their soldiers were sent out, but it can be said that the situation of the defense is as dangerous as this place before.」
It seemed that other than sending request for reinforcement from the capital, the feudal lords of the two territories also sent messenger to Arquette to notify this place about the danger.
「In order to prepare for the time when Arquette is attacked again, Rothko-sama is preparing to further strengthen of the defense wall and the underground vault. By Moana-sama's command, two thousand of the soldiers are to stay here.」
「Wait. "Of the soldiers"? You mean there are still others then? What's the rest doing? And Moana?」
Even while half guessing it already, Kouki still asked while feeling uneasiness to the degree that was uncanny even for himself. A bad premonition encroached inside his heart, like an ink that dripped on a white paper and seeped in.
「Moana-sama, she led the remaining soldiers accompanied by Spenser-sama. They already set out to return back. Because there is no way the king can be absent when facing an army that is led by the , she said.」
「-. I, see……」
There was the greatest protection that was the oasis at the capital. On top of that, there were also more than ten thousand soldiers led by chief Donar and head art user Linden. There was no way they would be defeated that easily.
Even so, his bad premonition was swelling up.
For some reason, he couldn't help but had glimpses of Moana's face in his mind.
「Then, let's catch up to them right away. They left from here yesterday right? If we departed quickly, we should be able to go to the capital without getting left behind too much.」
There was soldier force staying behind at Arquette. He was also concerned with the other territories, but soldiers were already dispatched there, so right now it was the that was most concerning and had to be dealt with.
Thinking that, Kouki said that he would go at where Moana was even for a second faster, but Lilin shook her head toward him.
「You must not. You were told that you absolutely still have to rest for one week! Just why do you think Moana-sama left me behind here for!」
A person that could use blessing art of wind which had skill like soundproofing for several days, a powerful person with strength that could suppress Kouki while he was wounded, and also a person that Kouki knew. Lilin satisfied all those conditions.
「I cannot sleep for one more week in this kind of time!」
「It's only for four more days!」
Kouki showed a dumbfounded expression toward Lilin who seemed to say that unintentionally.
「Four more days? Wait a second. The time when I woke up once was yesterday right?」
「……No, you are mistaken. Three whole days had passed since then. Kouki-san was sleeping the whole time until now. That's how much your body is demanding for rest. You were even staggering only just now.」
Kouki was dumbfounded without even listening at Lilin's frank opinion. He whispered 「Three days……」.
In other words, Moana and others were already in the middle of war.
The bad premonition that he was feeling from some time ago swelled up explosively.
「I've got to go, to help them.」
「There is nothing you can do in that kind of state. It was because I thought that Kouki-san will force yourself that I even applied soundproofing so that your sleep wouldn't be disturbed you know? Even if you are going to go help them, first please heal your body!」
It was a sound advice. What Lilin was saying was completely correct without any mistake.
But, if everything became too late because of that……
When he thought that, words and reasoning──couldn't stop him.
「Lilin. Even you actually want to go right? Because, you are a fighter. The front line is exactly the place you are looking for. Isn't that right? Bring me with you too.」
「-. Wha, what titillating words in this time……nnh」
It was a serious scene, but for some reason Lilin was writhing. Her long brown twintail was fluttering unrulily.
「I, I won't be swayed by those sweet words, so please give up.」
Just where did she find any sweet factor from his words? Kouki thought that for an instant, but right wasn't the time for that so Kouki ignored it.
「I see……then there is no other way. As I thought I'm going to act by myself.」
「Tha, that's why I'm saying I won't let──」
Using "Ground Shrinker" from the bed! Kouki instantly went around Lilin behind her. His body was screaming but he didn't let his expression showed it at the slightest.
His hand chopped lightly *ton-* on Lilin's shoulder and Kouki said to Lilin who was dumbfounded while saying 「Eh?」.
「Certainly I'm not fully recovered, but not so much that I can be overcome by a rearguard at this range. I cannot be held back by Lilin just so you know.」
「Tha, that's really amazing.」
Lilin broke out in a cold sweat. When she slowly looked behind, she found a strong gaze pressuring her there.
Actually from the time when she first met him, she somehow thought of him like 「What an irresolute person. Smile a bit more crisply」, but right now she couldn't catch any sight of his smile that looked as though he was enduring pain or his insecure gaze.
「I'm going. If Lilin want how about you also go with me? I think that the place I'm going to is a place that you are looking for.」
「Ye, yes-. It's Moana-sama's command after all! There is no way I can let Kouki-san leave from my sight!」
Lilin writhed even more, perhaps because Kouki's words touched her heart string. Kouki ignored her abnormal state with his all and nodded once before going out of the room.
The blessing art was dispelled and bustling sound entered his hearing. As he thought, it was a furor all over the place.
Before long he could see the figures of the civil officers. They all showed astonishment for an instant when they saw Kouki's figure, but they then immediately gave their most respectful salute before moving aside to open a path for him.
If it was Kouki from before, then on the surface he would act awkward and modest, but inside he would bask in the pleasant feeling that he was the hero. But, right now his feeling was really calm.
The person that he passed would bow silently with a moved expression. But even seeing that, his heart didn't ripple. Rather, only the feeling of solemnly accepting their respect and expectation was filling his chest.
Before long he reached the room that was used as the emergency countermeasure room. The door was left open. When he peeked inside, there were Rothko, Ivana, and others there as expected.
「Hm? Oo, Kouki-dono! ……Is it all right for you to stay up already?」
Rothko showed joy when he noticed Kouki, however, seeing Lilin who was close behind Kouki, he sent Kouki an inquisitive gaze.
It seemed that Rothko and others were also aware of the "Kouki's absolutely peaceful rest operation".
「I heard about the situation. Please don't blame Lilin. I was the one asking her forcefully.」
「That's……certainly there is no way she cannot not answer if pressed by Kouki-dono.」
Rothko sent a gaze filled with some kind significance toward Lilin who wilted and looked down before his expression turned serious and he asked Kouki.
「And, what are you planning to do?」
「Of course, I will head to the capital.」
「With your current condition?」
「There is no problem.」
It was a lie, which everyone there knew. Just from a glance it was clear that his complexion was still bad. The healer who examined Kouki this morning also said that Kouki's bones were still fractured, and above all else Kouki hadn't recovered from his weakened state.
He really wasn't in a state that could fight.
「It doesn't look like I can stop you……I'll prepare the fastest arous. Please, I beg you to take care of her majesty and the capital. Don't worry about Arquette.」
「Thank you very much. I will surely return here again.」
Rothko, Ivana, and everyone inside the room, they all partly closed their eyes as though looking at something really dazzling before they bowed reverently.
After that, the members of vigilance corps quickly prepared arous and necessary luggage. During that time Kouki stuffed his stomach to the bursting with simple meal before departing, accompanied by Lilin.
Rothko and his wife Syla, and also Ivana and others of the vigilance corps gathered to see them off. Seeing that, the people of Arquette also stopped working and gathered one after another.
Words of gratitude that was filled with feeling that they wanted to convey as much as possible showered Kouki.
From among the gathered people, one small silhouette rushed out.
「Ah, you are……」
That silhouette was the boy that at that time became the impetus that decided Kouki's path. From behind that boy, his mother and a man in vigilance corps attire──his father run after him in panic.
「Thank you, hero-sama! You save father, and everyone! Thank you!」
Kouki didn't know what to call his current emotion. He didn't understand.
He scattered a lot of lives. He couldn't see it within his field of vision, but surely outside the defensive wall a lot of corpses were piled up. The weight of that was tremendous, pushing down on Kouki even now.
His creaking body and the weariness assaulting his whole body weren't only because his wound and fatigue.
But, even so,
「I'm the one thanking you.」
Not just the boy, the boy's father and mother who ran after him and tried to pull him back also let out such stupid sounding voice.
Kouki kneeled down on one knee and spoke with a faint smile.
「At that time, if you didn't ask me for help, my heart would surely die. I was, actually a pathetic guy. So pathetic I cannot walk forward without someone pushing my back. That's why……thank you, for saying "help me".」
「……I don't, really get it but……I, was useful for hero-sama?」
Kouki answered 「Yeah」 toward the boy who was asking him in wonder.
The boy's expression turned bright. The father and mother made a shocked expression at Kouki's confession, but their expression quickly turned gentle and kind and they said their thanks once more.
Kouki watched the boy led away by his parents while he was waving his hand at Kouki.
Lilin who was standing beside Kouki asked him expression of delight or perhaps happiness.
「You aren't denying it even when you are called hero-sama aren't you?」
「……He is still a small kid. I won't expressly do something like that.」
Kouki averted his face to dodge the question. Lilin raised a chuckle seeing that. Because if it was Kouki from before, he would still deny it no matter what.
Surely that three days of battle brought a change into something important inside Kouki. For Lilin, Kouki looked like he had really changed. She would be troubled if she was asked "where", but she somehow felt that Kouki's whole strength was different.
Reliable. Lilin thought so while prompting Kouki to mount the arous.
「See you later Rothko-san. Much obliged for everything.」
「That's my line. We the people of Arquette won't forget you until the next life. We will convey our unending gratitude to the next generation too.」
Kouki nodded 「Thank you」, then together with Lilin he ran past the gate.
Loud cheering resounded from behind.
Those cheers too also felt like a push on Kouki's back.
They advanced silently for a while. The borrowed arous seemed excellent with how swift it was. Kouki's feeling that was impatient from the loss of three days was also softened more or less.
「Kouki-san. How is your body? This child's running is also stable, it's fine even if you sit down in a way that is more relaxed.」
「Aah, look's like it. At the very least I need my bones to recover before we arrived in the capital.」
Lilin nodded even while thinking of how amazing Kouki's line that was saying of healing bone even while traveling in a great hurry.
Kouki dried up his little remaining magic power and performed healing on the heavily wounded area by chanting basic recovery magic while paying meticulous attention so that he wouldn't become unable to move because of getting even more exhausted than now.
Lilin was gritting her teeth in vexation of her inability of using healing blessing art while making a dangerous oath that at the very least if enemy appeared midway she would carve them up and not let them do anything to Kouki.
Like that they advanced forward and entered the desert area. A little while after that
「Hm? Lilin, something is coming from ahead! That's……」
「Arous? It's coming from the capital direction? That number is……」
They could confirm multiple arous running with speed that raised up dust cloud behind.
Looking at the gradually approaching arous, the two could see the arous breathing roughly with their long neck that was usually stretching up straight was now hanging down. Those were the proof of the arous's fatigue.
Even so looking from how their speed didn't relax down at all, it could be seen that it was something so urgent to the degree that the riders didn't hesitate to use the arous until they expired.
It seemed the group also noticed Kouki and Lilin. One rider waved his hand while other riders were pointing at the person at the center of their formation and reported something.
And then, a small silhouette that was unseen from being hidden at the shadow of the arous's neck showed up their face abruptly.
The identity of that silhouette was clear just from that.
Kouki let out a hysteric voice.
Yes, it was Koone who was fiercely rushing their way. When the distance between both sides had decreased considerably into a range where they could differentiate the other party's faces, Kouki and Lilin could see that the people around Koone were the members of escort squad that was led by Spike.
The way both of them called each other mutually changed. It seemed that Koone didn't even bother with how Kouki called her without any honorific.
Both sides' arous came to a stop with circle motion like drifting. The arous of Koone and others looked like they would faint anytime now because they had continued to dash in full speed from until just now.
「Koone, why are you here? Are you heading to Arquette?」
Koone heard about Kouki's safety and Arquette's situation from Moana, even so for a moment she held her breath seeing Kouki's expression that was completely different from before.
However, she immediately pulled herself together and nodded in response.
「Koone, Koone was, let escape once more-」
Looking at Koone who was talking with a face that could break into tears anytime, it seemed that the battle between the army that was led by against the kingdom army had started.
It seemed it was a strategy where Arquette and its neighboring territories that had the role as material accumulation place would be crushed first before opening battle against the capital that would become isolated after that.
That phenomenon where suddenly appeared also seemed to be the new ability of the , so to speak it seemed to be a teleportation ability. It seemed that the use became rough the farther the distance was, but the ability could teleport through considerable distance.
And then, currently the capital was in a state where they could somehow fight with the barrier of the oasis, but even there it became a predicament due to the 's new ability.