They had come here through the shortest route, so naturally, there were some areas that they missed, but then Shinichi suddenly asked them to completely conquer the whole place. Since he was asking for it at a time like this, it must be important that they do so.
And indeed, what he was about to do now needed to be done with the utmost caution, and any distractions needed to be eliminated.
“Shin, how’s Stella!?”
“Keep your distance… Sorry, Stella. I won’t ask you to forgive me, but this is the only method I know, so I’m going to
He held Stella by the shoulders and crouched down to lay her on the ground, then he consciously put a stop to all the negativity that always poured out of his mouth.
He would destroy the possibilities – those futures that he did not desire – to leave behind only the future he desired no matter how unlikely it was.
” ‘Hear my voice, Stella.’ ”
He destroyed the possibility of her not hearing his voice.
Not a hint of life was left on her face, but he continued to hold her and even held her hand tightly.
Neither the pulse of blood nor that of life could be felt, but he knew that she had yet to reach ‘death’.
Shinichi peered into her closed eyes and quietly spoke in the voice of that evil god that could interfere even with the principle of causality.
” ‘Don’t break, Stella. Don’t be devoured, Stella. Keep yourself together, Stella.’ ”
The fate to break snapped, the fate to be devoured overturned, and the fate to lose herself ceased.
Immediately, her body began to flail, but it was not her but her body that pulsated.
It was as if the thing “inside” her was suffering and struggling.
” ‘This woman is too good for the likes of you to corrupt, so get the hell out of there already!’ ”
“Ah, gah, uu, ahhh.”
But that thing could not permit itself to leave with just a few words, so it struggled inside her throat and her mouth and pulsated as though it wanted to resist by delaying the matter.
This mass of evil ki was indeed far inferior compared to him, but being of the same attribute was enough to weaken the effect of the divine words.
Given time, it would still eventually be expelled from the body, but by then it would already be too late.
“Tch, sorry, Stella.”
Shinichi clicked his tongue, but he didn’t hesitate to touch her lips with his own and suck out that thing that ought to be expelled, and then immediately threw it out as it did.
A thud resounded as it hit the floor, then that thing took on a deformed form, seemingly imitating the statues of the evil god sculpted from the delusions of the cultists, and bellowed out a roar that shook the main hall.
It seemed to rouse itself as its eyes shone in search for its next prey.
” ‘Be gone!’ ”
However, the brief yet clear voice of a god struck it with divine ki and its giant body was immediately destroyed.
This ‘destruction’ was neither death nor destruction but complete annihilation, the erasure of the possibility that it might exist within this world; hence, it vanished without leaving the slightest trace or residue of its existence, and even that
The nail of the evil god. That was the true identity of the blade, and it was also the most numerous of the evil god’s parts in existence.
It was because of that that the blood shed was cursed and transformed into the pseudo-blood of the evil god, greatly weakening Stella and turning her into a target for the black smoke.
But of course even that has already been ‘banished’ by his divine words.
” ‘Open your eyes.’ ”
With just a few words, Shinichi had banished the giant evil ki and the fragment of the evil god.
So after all of that, how could he still care about doing something as minor as waking Stella?
All of Shinichi’s attention was focused completely on Stella.
” ‘Come back, Stella!’ ”
With those few words, the fate of her failing to return ceased.
“Ah, gah, hah, *cough, gaha, uu, ah, haa, haa, haa…”
As breath returned to her, her mouth repeatedly opened and closed in search of air, and the pulse of life beat once more as though the time that once stopped was moving once again.
As warmth and pulse returned to the hand he held, Shinichi unconsciously let out a breath of relief.
When they realized that Stella was finally alright, they ran up to her.
Color returned to her ashen face and her closed eyes slowly opened.
“…Lilisha… sama? Why are you… I…”
Stella could recognize the person looking at her, and though she was still struggling to breathe, she was able to properly form words, allowing the princess and Stella’s sisters to finally be at ease.
“You protected me and fell into the cursed water, and then Shinichi saved you. Do you remember?”
“Yeah, he just barely managed to make it in time. Are you still hurt anywhere?”
As the princess’ voice recovered its usual tone, she spoke to her the way she normally did.
Shinichi really had barely made it just now.
After all, even the Divine Words could not overturn
Though it could distort anything, it was really just the authority to force events to occur, which also meant to say that no matter how astronomically low the odds of something happening was, as long the possibility existed, it could still be forced.
That’s why Shinichi hated himself for failing to anticipate this turn of events and was relieved from the bottom of his heart that he managed to make it in time.
But a tremor seemed to be running through Stella’s unfocused eyes, and when she saw him, she suddenly froze.
Her eyes abruptly opened and her lips that were so parched for air suddenly gulped.
Though the corruption was repelled and her consciousness was restored, Stella was acting weird.
Shinichi eyed her suspiciously, but then those amber eyes suddenly broke into tears.
“Head Maid, what’s the matter!?”
“Ah, ahh, aHHh!!”
Not one of the people gathered here had ever had seen Stella crying and wailing, and in fact, neither has she herself.
But the tears in her eyes poured out to no end, dyeing her cheeks in their sorrow, and yet amidst all the haze in her eyes, the only thing reflected on them was Shinichi.
“u, Ah, ahh… no.”
Perhaps she was struggling to breathe, or perhaps she was crying, but either way, the voice she finally managed to wring out left everyone confused, and then as though all the crying had been keeping her emotions locked up, as though a dam had broken, all those emotions came bursting out.
“No, no, no, no, no!!!”
Stella abruptly raised herself and grabbed Shinichi by the collar.
It was clear that she had yet to recover, for the power behind that grab was surprisingly weak, yet the desperation behind it and her voice left Shinichi unable to reject.
Stella’s behavior had everyone at a loss, so they all just stood there and listened to her.
“You didn’t do anything wrong! So why!? Why do you always have to carry everything on your shoulders? This is just… too cruel! It doesn’t make sense! No, this can’t be right! There’s no way something like this could be right!”
What was she seeing? What was were those pleas for?
Those amber eyes of hers that shook as though they were on the verge of cracking reflected only him.
“Why!? Why are you risking your own life to save people you don’t even care about!? You hate pain so much, and yet you have to endure it so much because you’re covered in wounds! And yet even after all that! You still ended up all alone in another world! How does any of that make sense!?”
Stella kept crying out those words, but the lack of connection between the things she said made it impossible for others to understand what she was saying.
It was as though she was seeing something that only she could.
The only thing certain was that these cries of hers were genuine, sincere, and too much for her to bear.
“How could such a small child do something like that!? Why didn’t anyone notice!? Why didn’t anyone teach you!!?”
That’s why no one interjected, and they just listened quietly.
Even the one person that thought this shouldn’t continue couldn’t stop her.
She was weak and none of that usual pressure could be found in her, yet the emotions she laid bare made it impossible to stop her.
“You’re not a monster! You’re a human being! Because you’re this broken, and you’re on the verge of crying! …And yet, just how are you able to look so unconcerned?”
She found it hard to believe, she couldn’t understand why, that’s why she was so angry, and yet her hands, her fingers, they gently caressed Shinichi’s face as though she sympathized with him – and as though she were handling glasswork, she gently confirmed that he was there.
“I don’t want it, I don’t… Something like this, something like this! I won’t accept it!”
“I won’t accept it… For you to suffer through that! For a person like you to! It’s unforgivable! I, Ah, ahh, AHH, AHHHHhhh!!!”
The entire time her words were incoherent and unconnected, and yet it was precisely because of that that her cries could convey her desperation, but then as though she’d reached her limit, she clung to his chest and wailed, amidst which, she continued to insist that she would not stand for it, that she wouldn’t accept it – because something like that was simply too sad, too painful, too undeserved.
Shinichi didn’t have the words to reject her with nor the strength to push her away, but neither could he embrace her despite all her tears.
“…Don’t tell me… Did you…”
Because he understood more than anyone else what her words meant.
With a face twisted from surprise, that hand lost its destination and fell helplessly.
A normal boy and a maid on the verge of corruption fell into the cursed waters.
Shinichi came out fine because he was of the same substance and was himself the greater existence.
After all, within those of the same attribute, the inferior could not corrupt the superior.
But the opposite was possible, and that was true for her too, who had almost been devoured.
As someone whose entire being was on the verge of corruption, she had essentially been assimilated into that sea of evil ki.
And when he, a greater existence, saved her, his self entered her, just like a water flowing from a higher place to a lower place, he entered her all at once.
“…Did you see? …My memories?”
But no one responded to the boy’s question, and the people there just quietly listened to Stella’s wails.