“I’ll go get permission right away, then.”
Tiera was ready to go to the Luderia. She was probably keen on solving the problem and leaving the village as soon as possible. Kagerou, who was lying quietly at her feet, slipped inside her shadow.
“I’ll accompany you, then.”
Schnee followed Tiera. If permission wasn’t granted to them, the group would have to consider sneaking in.
Shin and Shibaid stayed behind and waited. Because of Lanapacea’s circumstances, they might cause trouble if they walked around outside.
“Hey, Shibaid, there’s something I need to ask.”
“What would that be?”
Shin talked to Shibaid, while carrying Yuzuha in his arms. It was a bit difficult to ask the person in question, so Shin decided to talk about it with Shibaid first.
“Tiera said she first came to visit her mother’s grave, right? How did that go?”
Shin had seen a vision of Tiera’s past, of her younger self embracing her dead mother and crying. Based on that, Tiera’s mother probably died while attempting to let her flee.
For Tiera, her mother was someone to be proud of, but, for Lanapacea, she was nothing but a traitor at the time. Tiera couldn’t have built a grave at that time, so Shin wondered if they had given her a proper burial.
“Tiera’s lady mother…I haven’t heard anything in detail. As Tiera said, however, not all elves agreed with her banishment. Tiera’s mother was surely well respected too. While it was a bit to the side, her grave was definitely there. It also seemed well kept, like all the other graves.”
Shibaid said that Tiera had visited the grave already, so there could be no mistaking it. There was no way of knowing if or how proper rites had been held, but at least Tiera’s mother hadn’t been neglected, so Shin was slightly relieved.
“Anyway…the World Tree is in lethal danger and Tiera just happens to come back for a visit? It’s all too convenient.”
“I agree. The World Tree, however, is one of the pillars sustaining this world. It might have interfered with our teleportation at the time.”
The evil deity was already defeated, so such a thing wouldn’t be impossible to do with a World Tree’s powers, or so Shibaid theorized.
“If you put it like that, it does sound feasible. I just feel that these kinds of convenient developments happen to us way too often.”
In the Wraith Plains, Shin happened to be where the Skullface Lord appeared.
Shin being transported together with Rionne.
Shin visiting right when the merfolk were facing a crisis.
Shin and Schnee being transported to a country threatened by a devil’s invasion.
If they started counting smaller cases too, the number would grow exponentially. The encounters with Yuzuha and Kagerou were such cases as well.
Most of these events could hardly have been solved by the local people. Shin wasn’t the only one concerned by this string of coincidences.
“I see…you have been involving yourself with all sorts of trouble even when I wasn’t around.”
“It’s not like I went looking for trouble myself!”
“I know that. We don’t know if there are actual connections, though. Demons or devils seem to be frequently involved, but there are other cases too. What happened at Bayreuth, for example, seemed to be nothing but a random occurrence to me.”
Only the attack on Erkunt was caused by a devil, but many other events were related to demons. In the beginning, however, they didn’t know of the demons’ involvement.
Shin and Rionne’s teleportation to a Sacred Place was the first example. If Shin hadn’t caused the Skullface’s sword to fly all the way to the royal castle, they wouldn’t have ever met.
“Kuu! Shin is special!”
“Hm? Yuzuha, do you know something?”
Yuzuha’s sudden mumble halted Shin and Shibaid’s conversation. Yuzuha felt their gazes concentrating on her, so she jumped out of Shin’s arms, landed on the ground and took human form.
It was Yuzuha’s late teens version, as they had last seen her before separating. Shin thought: if she had become familiar with the power received from Ishkar in the Castle of the Depths she would look older, but apparently this was her current limit.
“It’s easier to talk in this form, so I transformed. I recalled something about you, Shin, and learned something new.”
“You said that I’m special? What does that mean?”
“I can feel a power different from yours within you. I think that is what guides you to sources of harm for this world. Others are influenced by it too.”
“A power…inside me?”
“Yes. That power is originally used to protect this world. That is why it’s attracted to demons or devils, why it connects you to them. Do you have any idea what it could be?”
“Hmm…I can’t be sure, but I do have an idea.”
In a world where game rules still applied, there was a skill and title that probably only Shin possessed. Thinking about how he had acquired them, he could only think of one possibility.
“The last opponent I fought to clear the death game. When I defeated the monster called Origin, I received Gifts granting me powers that, for this world’s standards, might as well be called cheating.”
The three Gifts Shin had talked about with Schnee before: Accomplished One, Limit Breaker and Liberator. Among them, the first two were especially amazing. Because of Shin’s maxed out stats, their effects were particularly “game-breaking”.
“You told me about that before. When I heard about their effects, I honestly doubted my ears.”
“I couldn’t believe my eyes either.”
Shin recalled with a sort of nostalgia how many times he had checked to see if he hadn’t read wrong.
“I have also acquired skills, but I haven’t used them yet. Or rather, it’s more correct to say that I can’t activate them. I have never seen them before and don’t know what the conditions for activation.”
The three skills Shin acquired after defeating Origin, 【Hades Surge】, 【Scattering Surge】, and 【Concentrated Surge】 were still impossible to activate, as Shin didn’t know the necessary conditions.
Normally, MP consumption, effects etc. of player skills could be checked via the menu. Some skills that could be used in events had particular activation conditions, but they were usually easy to predict from their names or the event’s contents.
The three skills Shin acquired, however, had no related events or hints about their activation. From their names, Shin could guess that 【Hades Surge】 was a boosting skill or a trigger to use the two other skills.
【Scattering Surge】 was probably a wide-range attack. 【Concentrated Surge】 was maybe a high firepower strike concentrated into one point, but these were all predictions.
“I have never heard of such skills before either. However, there is something that concerns me.”
“During Shin’s battle against Ishkar, his body seemed enveloped in a sort of deep purple aura. Could that possibly be 【Hades Surge】?”
Shin hadn’t noticed this at all, so Shibaid’s words surprised him very much.
“I’m sorry, but I have no idea…I can’t recall.”
“Plenty of time has passed. After that, I too was engrossed in the exchange with Ishkar and the merfolk’s affair, so I neglected mentioning it until now. My apologies.”
“Don’t apologize, that’s the same for me too. Schnee and Filma didn’t say anything either, it can’t be helped.”
Shin had heard that during his battle with Ishkar, Shibaid and the others had been stopped by an invisible barrier. No one mentioned anything about the surge skills, so it wasn’t strange for them not to put the two things together, so Shin told Shibaid to raise his head.
“Now that I think about, I get the feeling that there was something different at that time. I felt really eager to fight…but I feel that’s not the power to protect the world Yuzuha mentioned.”
“The power within you doesn’t have a defined will. The power probably reacted excessively to your feelings, boosting your will to fight too much. When power grows too strong, people are intoxicated by it and their restraint to harming others is lost.”
“Right, it might be as Yuzuha said. I always restrain my powers with【Limiter】, but when I don’t, I feel like I could do anything.”
Shin had fought very few times at full power, removing all the restrictions imposed by【Limiter】. Every time he did, however, he could not see himself losing in the slightest. That feeling of omnipotence was probably what Yuzuha meant when she said to be intoxicated by power.
“Is it dangerous to remove【Limiter】?”
“Not as long as you maintain control. If anything happens, I will stop you.”
Yuzuha was usually expressionless, but now her eyes clearly had a strong light within them.
“Wouldn’t it better to talk about this with Schnee and Tiera here too?”
“It’s still…a bit early.”
Shibaid wondered if it wasn’t better to share the information with the others and Yuzuha replied, back in her usual sleepy tone.
“Why would that be?”
Shibaid asked why Yuzuha talked about the matter to him too and not only Shin.
“Tiera and Schnee are too reliant on Shin. If… anything happened to him, they would not be able to draw their swords against him. I might not be able to stop him by myself.”
Yuzuha spoke with a telling pause after the word “if”. She clearly wished that possibility never became reality.
“So you say that I could?”
“Shibaid, what lies within you is loyalty. You do not wish to become someone special for Shin, like Schnee does. That is why, when there is no other option left, you will be able to wield your weapon.”
Yuzuha looked straight at Shibaid, who was not concealing his intimidating tone, and spoke firmly.
“Even when a leader is mistaken, is it not the follower’s duty to obey?”
“That possibility is not zero either. However, I believe that if you think your leader is going down the wrong path, you will try to stop him even if you must fight. That is why I spoke about it to you too.”
Shibaid did not object to Yuzuha’s words. He admitted to himself that in an emergency, he would probably take up arms as she said. Shibaid was Shin’s support character, but at present he was not bound by anything. He would not act on predetermined commands, as he would in the game, but decide which path to follow based on his own will.
He was not forced to be Shin’s ally unconditionally.
Listening to them, Shin too thought that Shibaid would stop him if it was necessary. He was the one to set Shibaid’s personality, after all. In a way, he knew him much better than Yuzuha did.
“I don’t think there’s anything to worry about as long as Shin is like this, though. I believe in Shin.”
“I’m glad you do, but don’t hug me in that form, please.”
Wiping away the heavy mood in one stroke, Yuzuha waddled closer to Shin and hugged him tightly, wrapping her arms around his back, so her fully grown curves softly changed shape against his body.
Looking at her happily wagging tail, signaling her mood, Shibaid felt all tenseness leave his body and his shoulders dropped.
“I too believe that Shin will not be consumed by that power. Would you be able to stop him if he ever did, anyway?”
“When the going gets tough, Yuzuha gets going.”
Yuzuha replied with a very smug face, while resisting Shin’s attempts at pushing her away. Shin and Shibaid, both rendered speechless, simply stood there, powerless.