Chapter 2
"Wait a minute!"
Stefan Van Baren, the elegant gentleman with short brown hair mixed with silver streaks, who also went by the nickname Fanfan, uttered a cry of surprise uncharacteristic for him.
"Mr. Sizemore, are you the one everyone calls "The sea monster," the terror on the sea that all sailors are afraid of?"
"Oh, you embarrasse me. But in fact, in Shin Makoku's Navy, there are only two men who bear the name of Sizemore. My younger brother and myself."
He was called "sea monster" mostly because of his hair, or the lack of it, but of course he could not mention that. Although Sizemore was a bear of a man, he was shy and could easily become embarrassed. He fleetingly ran his hand over his head. Sadly, all he could feel was the bare skin.
Friendship between a man and a man usually arises in unexpected circumstances.
Although one was an international businessman across all oceans, the other belonged to a race that had been an old enemy of the humans. It was natural to feel guarded against each other. However, that feeling had already disappeared.
"Then my family is in your debt," said Fanfan. "In the last war, a transport fleet was accidentally sunk by a Shimaron warship while crossing the international waters. It was an accident, but there were many civilian casualties. The Shimaron warship did not fulfill their obligation of rescuing the civilians... It was unbelievable. Even my grandmother would have been among the victims, but she was rescued by your ship. Later on, her nickname "unsinkable Fanfan" spread far and wide. Our family van Baren had indeed become invincible in the harsh competition among all marine transporters. My grandmother's name is Vancil van Baren. She is the wife of Jefferson van Baren."
Sizemore rummaged through old memories.
"Ah, yes, I remember the lady. What a coincidence, it's a small world after all."
"After you complete your mission, you must visit us. My grandmother would be very pleased."
"She is doing well? I am glad to hear that."
"Every day she would complain that she had to carry on her life as an old woman. But from my impression after listening to your story countless times, Mr. Sizemore, you have not changed one bit. Even your hair style is still the same. Is this the norm for seafarers?"
Friendship between a man and a man would also fall apart when they start paying attention to appearance.
While the competition was reaching its climax, Sizemore, Fanfan, Dacascos, and the quiet Chevalier were on their way to steal the forbidden box "The End of the Wind" from the temple adjacent to the arena. It was truly a reckless plan.
Lady Cecilie von Spitzweg, the Former Queen of Shin Makoku, and Flynn Gilbert, the wife of the late Lord of Caloria, Norman Gilbert, stayed behind and waited in the VIP area, leaving the men alone to discuss their problems with their wives and children to their hearts' content. That's what one would expect.
"Oh, my Cecilie. She is so wonderful, she's like a love goddess," purred Fanfan.
Yet for some unknown reason, Fanfan was praising Lady Cherie. Moreover, she was not a goddess, but a demon.
Young and having roughly the same build, Chevalier and Dacascos were carrying the wooden box covered with a green cloth to disguise it as a container of cold drinks. It was supposed to be the substitution for the forbidden box. One was the ultimate weapon of utmost brutality "The End of the Wind," the other was a plain and simple wooden box made by laymen during a boat trip.
The more one thought about it, the more dangerous the plan seemed to be.
The scalp of the faint-hearted Dacascos had become all dry because of nervousness, but the rest of them looked very calm, especially Fanfan. He was not a soldier accustomed to dangerous situations, but a businessman accustomed to a carefree life, yet he did not show the slightest trace of tension, and he even kept talking non-stop about his "beautiful love."
Then Lady Cherie, the love hunter, truly deserved all the praises for successfully capturing this brave and handy man.
"In my whole life, I've never met a lady so pure and beautiful, full of wisdom and the most tender love. She shows me what true love really is, a feeling I had never had before! I regret I hadn't met her earlier, but still, I am truly the luckiest person in the world!"
But he would be the fourth luckiest person in Lady Cherie's life.
"I heard that the women of the demon race are all very beautiful, but I believe she is the most beautiful of all. Even though I keep telling her so, she always feels there are women who are more beautiful than she is. To hear such humble words coming out of her lips, red like rose buds, I could not help but touch them. How in the world could there be such a pure heart? She is truly a lady with eternal youth and boundless modesty who knows not arrogance."
Fanfan praises went out of control. Sizemore felt as if a rash was spreading over his right side. Modesty? Madame Cherie?
"I also heard about another lady in your country who is as famous as Cecilie. It seems people use many alias for her because she is both feared and respected. The Red Devil, Shin Makoku's Nightmare, Poison Lady Anissina. There must be a large number of men who succumbed to her charms."
Dacascos' eyes teared up instinctively.
She was truly a devil, literally the same as her alias.
"I heard she has exceptional knowledge of literature and a very strong yearning for independence. What a lucky guy, who can win her hand in marriage."
Married to Lady Anissina von Kabernikoff? Maybe it was just the result of his own fear, but Dacascos thought His Excellency Gwendal, who had been bound to Lady Anissina since childhood, was very unfortunate. As for Sizemore, who had not had a taste of the Red Devil's terror, he merely said: "Really?"
"The third lady... unfortunately has died quite young, long time ago. They say that instead of her, the three most beautiful demons in the kingdom now include a certain lady named Günter. Do you know about her? Well, no matter how beautiful she may be, surely she can't compare to my spring breeze, my golden fairy. Moreover, it seems that this lady Günter is very eccentric. They say she has shaved her hair and entered a temple, and has strange behaviors such as wearing mask in public."
Alas, His Excellency Günter's legend had spread to foreign countries! Dacascos could no longer stop his tears from overflowing. Maybe it was because of the dust inside the temple, but now even his nose was running.
"The deceased lady was said to be very close to one of Cecilie's sons," said Fanfan.
A strong admiration surged inside the two demon soldiers. It was unbelievable that Lady Cherie had told her lover about her past. She could still win the heart of one of the few richest businessmen in Shimaron, despite the fact that she was the mother of three sons. She totally owned up to her alias, the Hunter of Love.
Dacascos did not know about the relationship between a son of the former queen and one of the three top beauties of the Demon Empire, so he decided to hold his tongue. The elder and higher ranked Sizemore however was more familiar with the former princes. He had even interacted with the third son, the blond ex-prince, a few days ago. But he had no idea which one among the three had a close relationship with Lady Julia Susannah von Wincott.
"If I remember correctly, Lady Julia Susannah was engaged to His Excellency Adalbert von Granz. Who could have spread rumors about her and one of the ex-princes?"
"Oh, really? But there might be some truth in the rumors. My lovely fairy, the mother herself, told me that her second son, Lord Conrad, was to marry Lady Julia Susannah after the war ended."
"What? Lord Weller and Lady Julia Susannah were in a relationship?"
Lord Weller had always been popular with the ladies, whether as a brave and confident soldier before and during the war, or the sober man after it. It was true that his popularity with the ladies was enviable, but Sizemore would never have thought of him as someone who was capable of stealing the love of another man.
"Lord Weller and Lady Julia Susannah... Ah, really, we can't judge a book by its cover..."
"It's not a well known fact in your country? A marriage between these two would have made history. It doesn't happen everyday for two big names to join together in marriage."
God, what a keen interest Fanfan had with gossip from a foreign country. Sizemore couldn't understand that. Of course the intimate details of other people's love lives are exciting, but discussing their private life is so indecent and impolite.
"When I heard his name, I understood right away. Surely you know his father, Dan Hiri Weller?" Asked Fanfan.
"The first Lord of Ruttenberg," said Sizemore.
"His position in his country might not be that of a king, but for the people from this area, he has become a legend."
"Really, he was certainly very popular with the ladies."
Fanfan glanced at the older demon, with a look as if to enlighten him.
"No, this is not about his love life. Dan Hiri Weller, the son of Glenn Gordon Weller, was a descendant of the three famous kings of the continent. It has been recorded in history. The two signs were also tattooed on his arms. After his expulsion from Shimaron, the officials announced that his royal bloodline was extinct. There were of course rumors that he had had a child oversea and had returned to the kingdom undetected. No one could verify the credibility of the rumors, but since he was a threat to the royal family of Big Shimaron, they have always been on the look out for his whereabouts."
"Lord Weller's father carried the royal bloodline of the kings of Shimaron? Did Madame Cherie know this?"
"Well, it is possible that Cecilie had no knowledge. Dan Hiri Weller would not have revealed his true identity carelessly. His forefathers were forced to change their names and only managed to survive as prisoners. Weller is only part of the original family name. But the fact is that this legendary man has fathered a child with a demon, and if this child had married Lady Julia Susannah, a descendant of the Wincott, then ... "
Sizemore swallowed, imagining terrible things to happen. Maybe the oceans would turn red, maybe the sea water would boil over in the blink of an eye. In any situation, his first thought would always be about the sea.
"Countries would be shaken."
"You mean the oceans?"
Fanfan, putting on his "irresistible" smile that had proved to be invincible in business negotiations, casually responded:
"The oceans? Don't they always shake..."
At that very moment, the deafening roar from the arena below interrupted their conversation. They had no idea the very person they were talking about, Lord Conrad Weller, had entered the arena as the third competitor from the enemy's camp, much less that he was going to fight his own Lord, the one he once swore to serve, or that the match had been halted.
"In ancient times the Wincott family had ruled over the southern tip of this continent. Up until the battle against the Creator Gods, Wincott rulers were known to be beloved and respected by the people. If a descendant of the Wincott and one who carries the bloodline of the three kings had joined in marriage, and if a child had been born from this union, then for all the underground anti-Shimaron forces, he would be their ultimate hope, the ideal leader they were waiting for. Just imagining that much, I already feel excited. Wouldn't it be great?"
If Lord Conrad Weller and Lady Julia Susannah had got married, their offspring would become the leader of the anti-Shimaron forces?
For someone who could only think of the different states of the oceans, whether it would be calm or stormy, Sizemore had long since stopped following the story. Perhaps Fanfan took his silence as agreement, as he cheerfully continued:
"Moreover, beside being extraordinary in all other aspects, the child would undoubtedly be a true beauty as well, seeing that the parents would be the grandson of the most handsome man of the continent, Glenn Gordon Weller, and one of the three top beauties of the Demon Empire."
Dacascos, carrying the box behind them, hesitantly asked:
"Could you be mistaking our three most powerful demon ladies as three top beauties?"
The prisoner of love however did not hear these words, as he had moved on to discuss the next beauty.
"Speaking of beauty, I heard that the sense of beauty of the demons have been completely changed from the ground up by their new head of state. I would really like to see that person for myself once."
"Probably our majesty is now fighting in the arena right below us."
"Really? She must be a truly brave queen. But I'm sure she still can't compare to my Cecilie, loving and soft spoken like a little golden birdie."
Sizemore felt like scratching his right side until it bled. Dacascos, meanwhile, immediately memorized all of these beautiful words so that he could use them to flatter his wife later. "Your lovely voice sounds like thousands of crickets and beetles..."
After they ascended two narrow stairs, the group reached the top floor, forbidden to all outsiders. Along the way they had bribed three guards with a bottle of wine and four soldiers with money.
"It seems this is but a storage room. Is the box really here?" wondered Dacascos.
"It can't be. The room isn't even well guarded. We need to continue, and be prepared to fight." said Fanfan.
Sizemore wrinkled his nose while sniffing the musty air.
"But we're already at the top. I don't think there is a stair to go further up."
"No, no. Not upward. Look, here! "
Fanfan was at a corner pointing to a small door at the end of the aisle. It looked just like a simple door in a common house, but there were five guards standing in front of it. That was an obvious hint, so to speak.
"From there, a staircase leads down again, because the Treasury is in the basement," said Fanfan. "In that room they store all kinds of rare treasures, a collection of precious treasures from all over the world."
Sizemore groaned loudly. Climbing all the way to the top floor, only to go back down to the basement? That would not happen to him at sea.
Suddenly a clanking noise rang loudly as if a huge metal bucket had fallen to the ground.
Thank you for calling my name in every way possible.
I turned back to look at our rest area. An iron fence had fallen down right in front of our bench and my teammates suddenly found themselves behind bars, completely separated from the arena. Holding the thick iron bars, all three of them were shouting:
"Why are we the only team locked up?"
One of the referee put his arms on his hips, to appear more imposing.
"To prevent you from forcing your way into the arena."
"But that's not fair! If so, then the other team should also be..."
No one was rushing over from the other team. After all, there was only one soldier in the rest area of the Big Shimaron's team, who looked gloomy for having lost earlier. On our side, in contrast, my teammates were shaking the iron bars with all their might and shouted out loud.
"Your Majesty! Do not try anything foolish, please come back!"
"That's right, Yuuri! Don't be stupid!"
"Shibuya, don't try any nonsense!"
"You are being rude now! You're talking as if I am really stupid... Woa! Woa!"
Suddenly the ground beneath my feet trembled. A circular stage the size of a sumo ring started rising from the ground. Staying with me on that stage were Adalbert and the referee with a thick beard, who were both a few feet away from me. Meanwhile Conrad had missed it by only one step, even though he was standing right next to me. He tried to grip the edge of the stage to jump up and almost made it, but the other referee grasped his uniform and pulled him back.
"Let go!" yelled Conrad.
"No way. The appeal of the second fighter was justified. In this match, the second competitor from Big Shimaron will compete against the third competitor from Caloria. To protect our prestige, we must follow the rules."
"But if His Majesty has to fight against that guy, he won't be merely injured..."
Turning away from the expressionless referee, Conrad looked at me desperately. Meanwhile, the stage had already risen to a height above his head.
"He will kill you... Yuuri, give me your hand."
"The match lasts until one of the fighters is incapacitated. Even if one of them loses his life during the match, that does not go against the rules."
How very comforting!
It was true that the American footballer was indeed a powerful enemy. But at least there was one advantage in fighting him as compared to fighting Conrad: I wouldn't hesitate to use all my strength to hit him between his legs.
"Well, here we go!" I cried. "My left foot is ready to kick!"
"How brave, yet it looks a little forced."
"It doesn't matter if I win or not. At least I will be able to hurt you. After all, even you have the same weakness that all men have."
"Yes, except that..."
Adalbert put his hand on his crotch and knocked firmly with his fist. It sounded as if he had knocked on wood.
"One of my principles, my boy. Never enter a fight without wearing protective gear."
Down the drain it went, my beautiful plan!
From behind the bars, Murata was shouting at me at the top of his lungs. This behavior was so different from his usual calmness that I suddenly felt uneasy.
"Shibuyaaa! That's enough, give up! It is too risky."
For someone who had only fought in video games and who had had only a few hours of kendo practice during gym classes, my strength surely fell far behind that of this muscular fighter. He looked like the wrestler Big Show, while I looked like a wooden stick. If he hit me, it would be an instant knock-out. Moreover, if I only put a careless foot beyond the edge, I would fall from the stage, and game would be over for me as well. I glanced sideways to check. Indeed the stage was now as high as a 3-story building.
What would be the end of me? Would I die under Adalbert's weapon? Or would I fall to my death?
"Mr. Referee, I must speak with you urgently," I said.
Given the current situation, I'd like to withdraw. The words had come to the tip of my tongue but couldn't come out, as I saw the disbelieving expression on Adalbert's face.
"What's going on, Caloria's representative? You want to end the game in such a boring way? I thought you were a man, that's why I proposed a fair and square showdown. But if you prefer to act like a timid little girl and chicken out, oh, that would be so disappointing."
His words angered me, and I almost retorted with equally insulting language. No, no, no! I should not play into his hands. He only wanted me to lose my temper, so he could spoil my plan.
It was true that I was the representative from Caloria, but as Normal Gilbert, I have fulfilled all my obligations to the people. They would understand and would be happy to welcome me back. I would be able to face the children who had cheerfully sent me off and tell them that we had tried our best. Losing the final battle would be truly regrettable, but I could still hold my head high and say we had put in all our effort. However, could I really withdraw now?
"Yuuri, don't worry," Wolfram called out to me. "I won't call you wimp if you give up!"
"Shibuya, listen to your fiance!" Screamed Murata. "No one will blame you, I promise! When we get back to Japan, I'll treat you to rice with grilled pork ribs! So give it up! You have fought enough!"
Really, had I? Had I tried my utmost in this match?
Facing this question, I could only answer it myself. Until now I had not actually fought at all, let alone given it my best. I allowed myself to be defeated before I even lifted a finger. Could I do that? Did I want to end it that way?
"Mr. Referee, I'd like to ask..."
Mr. Thick Beard patiently waited for me to finish. It was actually very simple, I just needed to say that one sentence. Given the current situation, I'd like to withdraw. And I did say something, but as I listened to myself, it sounded like a conversation during a morning inspection.
"What did you use to shave?"
"Huh? I used the razor given in the common military rations."
I slowly stood up from the kneeling position. The snow-bearing wind blowing in my face had become considerably colder.
Adalbert twisted his lips scornfully.
"Well, what now? You changed your mind?"
"I did not change my mind. I only mentally prepared myself."
If I didn't put all my effort into this match, I wouldn't be able to look the children in the eyes.
"A man, regardless of the outcome, must face his challenges head on. Ah, of course the same holds true for women too."
The fruits of Lady von Karbelnikov's indoctrination manifested themselves even here.
"And it's not certain yet that I will lose to you! Anything can happen in the fighting ring. Nothing is impossible. Isn't there a saying that goes "There is strength inside weakness"..."
"Shibuya, that is not wrestling, that is Judo!"
Too bad, there were already flaws in my arguments.
The audience began to roar. They did not care about Conrad's concerns or those of the Caloria's team. The atmosphere was so heated that the snow melted in the air before it touched the ground.
Adalbert von Granz lowered the mighty sword from his shoulder. In light of the torches around us, the long and thick blade flashed menacingly. To put myself into the mood, I swung my metal bat back and forth. I felt slightly more confident in my weapon. Meanwhile Conrad desperately tried to talk to me from below.
"Your Majesty, please don't be reckless. Your bat has no chance against his sword!"
"You're the last one who should give me advice! You better get your own problems straightened out first!"
The audience suddenly held their breath all at once. For a brief moment, a dead silence fell upon the whole stadium. Adalbert charged forward with lightning speed and swung with his mighty sword at me. Instinctively, my body jerked to the left. A strong gust of wind swept past my right cheek. I knew I had escaped his blade by the skin of my teeth.
I lost my balance and had to kneel one knee on the ground. I grasped the bat with both hands and raised it over my head just in time to block Adalbert's strike from above.
It was a miracle that I survived the attack, but all my fingers went numb immediately. The impact force spreading from my wrists to my elbows and shoulders was so strong, I felt as if all my joints were dislocated. Following the ear-splitting sound of metal hitting on metal, a slightly burning smell filled my nostrils.
"Lucky as ever," said Adalbert smiling smugly.
"So you say," I replied.
Adalbert came closer to look at me. Unlike Nigel Weisz Maxine's emotionless eyes, his blue eyes were full of delight. Was he pleased to have the chance to eliminate me with his own sword?
"If you could never return to your country... how would the demons feel? Wouldn't it be a terrible shame for them if their young king is killed on human land?"
Cold sweat ran down my spine. Now I could clearly see his true intention. He wanted nothing more than for me to die, because he wanted to see the Demon Empire sinking into the chaos after my death. That was the reason he joined Big Shimaron's army and served under the human king.
"I would not let you have your way!"
With all my strength I pushed his sword aside. I took a large step back and suddenly felt no support under my feet. So dangerous! I almost forgot that the stage was at a lofty height.
"Careful, boy! Neither of us would want the fight to have such an unspectacular end."
"You're only saying so, but I know you want nothing more than for me to fall to my death. After all no one wants to dirty their hands."
One of my friends called out to me that I should not let him provoke me. What else could I do? It was after all the only strategy I had. I wanted to think of something to talk about, to distract him from attacking me. Maybe I could discuss his dinner menu to spoil his concentration? I wasn't sure if it would work on someone who was not a baseball player, but you wouldn't know unless you try!
"Anyway, what did you have for dinner yesterday?"
While asking, I quickly advanced, taking the initiative to attack first. But as expected, he easily thwarted my blow, turning the offense into a strength contest.
"Damn! You had even better food than us!"
"You are only a young king, who told you to go on an expedition to this land?! If you are willing to stay back in your nice and warm room in your castle, you could have filled your stomach with whatever fancy meal or finest wine you wish!"
Murata anxiously shouted to me, slightly raising his voice at the end.
"Look, Shibuya! Right, right! No, the other right!"
No way, I wouldn't be able to follow your instructions, else it would have been best for you to control the situation yourself.
At that time, the referee's figure entered my field of vision. Although he was at the same dangerous height, he could still nimbly jump around and dodge the attacks between the competitors. He really deserved his rank as an international referee. He was great, just like his beard. However, as I was distracted, I lost sight of my opponent's sword for a split second. In the next moment, I could only see the silver shiny blade striking straight toward my chest.
I could almost hear four voices gasping, although they were far away from me.
Luckily, at that very moment, the stage started shaking, and as I lost my balance, I fell down on my knee. The silver blade completed the arc right in front of my nose. I strained my calves and leaped to my feet immediately, but this time the stage did not stop shaking.
We were completely surrounded by the brown heads of the spectators cheering and shaking their fists. When I looked around, I found that the whole stadium was slowly moving.
"Why is the stadium turning around?"
However, it was not the stadium that was revolving, but the stage we were on. Our circular stage was revolving at the speed of a clock's second hand. What was going on?! The stage was already high and dangerous, now you made it revolve too?
It was the final battle, yet it was no more than a cheap show. The audience certainly had their fun, as they could now observe the fight from all angles. But the high and spinning stage was making me dizzy. Fortunately, even Adalbert was frowning and knelt down without saying a word. When our eyes met, he clucked his tongue and, using his weapon as a prop, quietly scrambled to his feet again. Apparently, his legs also felt shaky.
"Now now, you don't look too good," I taunted him.
"Aren't you the same?"
Well, tough luck! I was accustomed to dizziness caused by rotations. Two years ago when I joined the baseball team, almost every day we had to complete a strange exercise: holding the baseball bat vertically on the ground, leaning the forehead against the handle, turning around ten times, then immediately step forward. One would be so dizzy it was difficult to walk straight. Until now I still had no idea if that exercise benefited us in any way. Could it be simply a joke by the seniors?
"Leaning the forehead on the bat, rotating around ten times, and still able to hit the target, that's something only I could do!"
I was boasting about something no one else present could understand.
I struck the metal bat at the legs of my opponent, and he fell. My first goal today. Leaning on his hands he tried to bounce back. Now I only needed to smack my weapon down on him, and the battle would be decided. Only two and a half steps forward and a hard hit on his head, then it would all be over, and I would win! Maybe some of his brain would splatter a bit, but it would be easy enough to change my clothes - so that should be fine. That is the problem with using bat as weapon, there is no middle ground to negotiate. I should have listened to Wolfram's advice and chosen a sword. If only I could point my sword at him, I might be able to force him to surrender.
Even though all those thoughts were rushing through my head, in that split of second, I simply took my stance in front of Adalbert, preparing to swing my bat. Just one strike and it would be over with. No, I did not need to smash his skull, I only needed to stop at the right time to knock him out, and the referee would still declare me the winner. I only needed to stop at the right time...
Adalbert had noticed my hesitation and, with his free foot, kicked me with all his might at my fingers. I screamed under my breath, and lurched forward. Adalbert quickly grabbed me by my neck and I felt cold metal pressed against my throat.
"Thanks, kid. You saved me the trouble of chasing after you in this whole revolving shop."
"Ah... Ouch! "
"Does that hurt, huh? You're bleeding even, you poor thing!" Adalbert said sarcastically.
All the muscles in my body tensed up. The blade was just under my chin. How would it feel to have your throat slit open? Which death would be more pleasant? A severed carotid artery or a severed windpipe?
I dropped my weapon and tried to pry free with my hands. But I had no chance against his strength. His grip around my neck was so tight even the force of fifty cars combined wouldn't be enough to free me.
At this time I could feel the body temperature of the man behind me, while in front of me, only freezing wind and snow were striking at my face. Although I found myself in such a state of emergency, the only thought in my mind was that the difference in temperature would cause me to catch a cold. I suddenly felt nothing under my feet. Adalbert had dragged me to the edge of our stage and dangled me there.
"I could just let you go," he threatened.
Earlier I was still trying to kick with my free legs. But upon hearing his threat, I immediately stopped struggling. My throat was so dry and burning hot that I could not make any sound.
The stage continued to rotate. Slowly our rest area came into my view. Wolf, Murata and Yozak kept clutching the bars and shouting. However, because of a rustling sound in my ears, I could not catch what my comrades were trying to tell me.
There it was again, the uncomfortable ringing in the ears. It was not new to me. My experience told me that my awareness would continue to wane and I would start to hear the comforting voice of a woman. And then I would be invincible. Just a little more, a little bit more...
That was Conrad. His voice sounded unusually desperate.
"I beseech you, please surrender right now! He could really do it! Adalbert could take your life!"
If I could speak or stop my magic powers, I would have done so. But the situation had gone beyond my control, and soon that person would start whispering in my ears, waking up unknown forces in my body. Maybe something would happen, and our situation would be reversed.
But for a long time, nothing happened.
"He is almost incapable of fighting," Adalbert murmured softly. Probably he thought I could no longer hear him.
If at this moment I fell to my demise, what would become of everyone's effort so far? Would it all be for naught? I would neither be able to make a request on Caloria's behalf, nor reclaim the evil box. It was the end. Here was the end.
I looked up to heaven and tried to squeeze a sound out of my throat. My voice was so hoarse it was not even a decent word. Nevertheless, I cried out to the countless falling white lights, even though I could not say whether they were snowflakes or stars.
Come on, I need my power! Now, now, now is the time! Here! I must win this fight!
Still no woman's voice whispering. Desperate, I looked down and saw a pair of eyes that were as black as mine: Murata's. Aware of my eye contact, Murata briefly said "no" and quickly covered his face.
"No, Shibuya," he muttered. "Do not do it. It's too dangerous."
Dangerous for whom?! For me? Or for the people in the stadium?
Suddenly I was sucked into a vortex of darkness. Darkness quickly spread out, shrouding everything around, as if to swallow the whole world. A biting cold wind kept blasting me on my face, my chest and my legs. And then my body felt as if I was plunged down a pitch-black tunnel at an unbearable speed.
It was different than the usual lazy white mist I had encountered previously. And there was no music.
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