Nobuhiko eyed Shinichi suspiciously, but Shinichi didn’t notice it when he spat out his bitter feelings.
He also realized why there were no high rankers in town other than the Garestonians and the police.
They were made to take on those duties. If you have strength, then take care of it – the troublesome things and the dangerous things.
Even though they too didn’t necessarily have a high rank because they wanted it…
Shinichi considered these things for a second, then he shook his head expressionlessly.
There was a more pressing issue right now, so he turned his attention to the mother.
“Hey, are you listening!?
You’re strong, so go fight! Please!”
Did her desire to save her child won over her fear?
Or was she simply so far gone that she couldn’t understand fear anymore?
Either way that mother approached Shinichi and shook his two shoulders.
“That child is just 6 years old! He couldn’t have run away!
If you don’t want to fight, then just look for him and bring him back! Please!”
“W-Wait a moment!”
“I understand how you feel, but Shinichi is different.”
She knew she was being unreasonable, but she was simply that desperate.
Nobuhiko and Rinko were both also parents, so even though they were trying to stop her, their attempts were weak.
Although Shinichi thought that his mother might have been like this before too, he still heartlessly considered ‘knocking her out and taking her outside’.
One might think him heartless for that – in fact, he thinks so too – but the truth was that him intervening would only make things more complicated and uncertain.
If he were to use his full strength, he could suppress the criminals and save the people that couldn’t flee in time.
But as a result, he would be revealing his strange power (magic) and the black-hazy figure (masquerade) to a large group of people.
That would effectively be introducing a new unknown threat to a world that was already struggling to deal with one otherworld. Remember that the existence of the otherworld was only publicized after much preparation, and yet it still turned out like this.
Right now it was still possible to fill the hole given time since the reason behind it is the misunderstanding of the people, their fear for the unknown, and the poorly managed system.
So Shinichi didn’t want to introduce another factor when this world was yet to fix its current problems.
At this point, one might be led to suggest that Shinichi should simply do what he did earlier and beat the enemy barehanded, but unfortunately, that only worked because it was a surprise attack.
Based on the gunshots and auras coming from the upper floor, there were multiple armed men left.
Moreover, not only was the exact situation unclear, they probably even had hostages now.
As such, it wasn’t possible to take them all down barehanded without risking someone getting shot.
It was also dangerous for one to move alone.
It was highly probable that he would only get in the way of an official rescue team.
Should they end up tripping over each other, this whole affair will end on the worst note possible.
An official rescue team will also have the numerical and equipment advantage, so they should definitely be more reliable.
But of course, the ones thinking that the most are none other the ones in the upper floor, whose auras seem to be neither decreasing nor growing weaker.
The criminals also didn’t like they were planning to slaughter people, so there should still be plenty of time.
There was no reason to cross a dangerous bridge now.
That’s why Shinichi was about to knock her out, but—
“Please! Save that child!!”
—he heard the fatal words of a desperate mother’s prayer.
Suddenly, the arms that would have knocked her down stopped and all emotions vanished from Shinichi’s face.
The troubled and perplexed expressions all returned to the void.
But only one animal noticed the change in him, and she rubbed her head against his legs.
In the next moment, Shinichi angrily brushed aside the hands of the mother grasping his shoulders.
Gazes and cries of pain and shock were thrown, but his angry voice repelled them all.
“You miserable self-serving hag!” Shinichi yelled. “There is nothing more I loathe in this world than to hear those accursed words!
Those words that willfully drive others into danger.
Can you even take responsibility when something happens to the person you’re clinging to!?”
“B-But… You have high stats…”
Although taken by the fury behind those words, the desperate mother still tried to talk back.
But Shinichi cut her off.
“High stats, strong, or whatever… When someone dies, they die. One moment and that’s it.
Your attempts to get others to save your kid could get someone else killed! Do you realize that!?”
“It happens all the time!
In the first place, the reason you know what I did is because you were here!
‘Save him! Save him!’ What save him!? You left your kid on a different floor, woman! Learn some responsibility!
Don’t you know how dangerous it is to leave a kid on his own!?”
The strong words Shinichi spat put all the blame on the mother.
Even if something like this hadn’t happened, there were still too many things that could have gone wrong for her kid.
But she knew that too. That’s why she staggered when those words were thrown at her.
“You’re in the way. Move.”
Shinichi violently pushed the woman towards Rinko, and then — He ran.
“Huh?” Rinko said.
“What!?” The mother cried.
“Shinichi!?” Nobuhiko cried.
“Wait!” The security cried.
Shinichi ignored the cries behind him and went against the flow of people.
Shinichi wove his way through that raging flow of people, then ran over the handrails to make his way to the yet chaotic upper floor.
Shinichi wasn’t lying.
He hated those words.
In a normal circumstance, he wouldn’t mind, but using it in a situation such as this, was simply too irresponsible and was no different from sending someone to their grave.
His trauma— his previous mistake had been carved that deeply into his soul.
If he only he hadn’t said anything then, they wouldn’t have died.
He led them astray.
He led them to waver.
He led them to their deaths.
That’s why no word could be more irresponsible.
That’s why no situation could make it more deplorable.
But that’s precisely why,
he couldn’t ignore that voice.
After all, he was saved by those people who couldn’t ignore that voice.
It was because they made that foolish decision that Shinichi is alive today.
How could he then – whose life was saved by those who listened – ignore that same voice.
To not lend an ear would be the same thing as to deny their choice.
That was the one thing Shinichi could not permit no matter what.
He was wrong. Yes.
But they were most definitely not wrong—