… So cold.
This is… is… where am I?
Everything before I blacked out’s fuzzy. At times like this, one should take it slow, think through it… I arrived at Trance Labyrinth, then Mahara, Minamoto, and Yuuji all went to the Monster House… Yuuji came back… then Hayase collapsed…!
Right, Yuuji—no, that man struck my neck…
… Hayase’s in trouble!!
When I sat up, I heard a small scream. It wasn’t Hayase, but it was a nostalgic voice, one from a person I knew well.
I looked to who the voice came from.
Upon doing so, I saw the best friend I’d deserted in Rigal Den—I saw Shuri.
“Oh, you’re awake, Yui.”
There was no doubt about it. The girl smiling at me was unmistakably my best friend, Hamakaze Shuri.
Eh, but how?
Shuri, she… but how?
She defeated all those demons…?
… Is this a dream?
I pinched my cheek. It hurt.
It’s not… a dream.
I teared up and couldn’t hold them back, the irreplaceable friend I thought had died was still alive.
Seeing my friend so close in front of me, I reached my hands out for her.
Glancing at me like that, Shuri backed up a step. She’d refused my embrace.
“Sh-Shuri! Why!? This is our touching reunion!”
“Sorry, but this isn’t touching for me.”
Her words pierced my chest like blades.
I felt like cold water splashed down onto my head. My excitement slowly receded, leaving only self-loathing.
… Right. Even though I’d done such a terrible thing to her, I didn’t think about the way she felt at all…
“Shuri. That Tamaki girl woke up?”
“Yes, Daichi. Just now.”
“… … Eh?”
—What brought me back out of my negative spiral was the voice of the man that was meant to be our guard.
“Yo, Tamaki. How did you like your first time being knocked out?”
Upon looking up, I saw the betrayer, the wicked fiend, the corners of his mouth curved up.
“… Where did that gentleness of yours run off to?”
“Sarcasm right away is it? … It was an act.”
Yuuji gave it away, seemingly happy with how things played out.
Even with things how they are, I was prepared to get away the moment he let his guard down.
I didn’t tell that man, but I had another Special Ability.
I can invoke a magic just by using its name. By just saying a magic’s name with over fifteen hundred mana on my status, it’s possible to utilize the magic.
It’s a Special Ability very few people in this world are said to have.
Yuuji shouldn’t have a reason to think I can use it.
“You’re good at tricking people. Hayase seemed to like you especially well?”
“That part surprised me. It’s unfortunate for Hayase, though, the only one for me is Shuri.”
Yuuji hugged Shuri from behind her. It sent chills down my back.
My precious friend was being played around with by a man like that. That alone was plenty enough for me to attack him.
“Stop it right there! Shuri, duck!”
I’ll shoot a point-blank magic at him!
I jumped up and launched a magic.
I took the lance in my hands and aimed it at his face.
However, just as I was about to hit, I was stopped by the person I never thought would do so.
“… Yui, what are you doing?”
Gripping the tip of the lance, she looked angry. She was staring at me with clear hostility.
It was practically overawing, but I didn’t back down.
I had to bring her back.
“Let go, Shuri! I will help you!”
“Help… You dare to say something like that after abandoning me back then?”
Her cutting words pierced me again. Even so, nothing she said was wrong. I knew that. It was obvious.
But that’s also the reason why I’d lost my composure. I had to bring Shuri back to herself no matter what.
“I’m sorry! I’ll apologize as much as it takes! But please just listen to me! That man is dangerous! Believe me, at least just for now, come here!”
“Daichi is dangerous?”
“Yeah! That guy attacked me and Hayase… he might’ve even done the same to Mahara and Minamoto.”
“If you’re talking about those two, they’re dead.”
“He attacked—eh? Dead…? Eh?”
It felt like I just heard something unbelievable.
Two heroes were killed?
By an ordinary adventurer?
Or maybe… by Shuri?
“Wh-What are you…?”
“It’s like this. Here—”
The one to say that wasn’t Shuri, but Yuuji. He suddenly threw something round over to me, I caught it.
I felt something disgusting on my hands.
The eyes looked like they’d been crying. It was missing teeth. The nose was crooked. Some of its blonde hair was dyed red.
What I held was one of my classmate’s severed heads.
Throwing it as far as I could so that I wouldn’t have to take another look at it, I wasn’t able to hold back my nausea and threw up.
“Oooeh! Haah… haah…”
“Hey now. That’s your classmate’s head, you should be more careful with it.”
Yuuji looked at me like he had nothing to do with it at all. He was ridiculing me, and enjoying it.
“Saying stuff like that, talk about playing innocent. Right, Shuri?”
“Yes, Daichi. It’s as you say.”
She appeared to be very thoroughly brainwashed by him. She must be suffering on the inside.
The fact I can’t do anything here even with that is…!
I can’t even save my friend here in front of me.
“You manipulated my best friend, you captured me… What do you want!?”
“… Just one thing, really.”
Yuuji grabbed me, who was sitting down, by the nape of the neck and raised me up. He lifted me up easily, so far that my feet couldn’t even touch the ground.
Being squeezed like that, I had trouble breathing.
… I can’t… breathe…
“I… want to get my revenge on you all. Particularly on Samejima.”
“Why… what did, Samejima… do to…?”
“You still don’t get it? Shuri’s been saying my name for a while now though?”
I thought within my fading consciousness.
It’s true, she hadn’t been calling him Yuuji, but Daichi.
I don’t know anyone by that na—… oh.
I do. One person.
Similar to Shuri, there was a boy left behind that day.
His name was Katsuragi Daichi. The class’ punching bag.
He can’t be alive. I saw it myself. Back then, a monster dug right into him. It ate him.
“… Looks like you finally realized.”
He suddenly dropped me, causing me to fall on my butt.
“I’m Katsuragi Daichi. I returned all the way from hell to get my revenge.”
He put the sword that had been at his waist against my neck and grinned.
My disbelief quickly turned to fear. I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering either as I started to cry.
It’s because I understood that the bloodlust coming from him was the real deal. Otherwise, there’s no way I would’ve been frightened by someone like Katsuragi.
He’s going to retaliate for everything we’ve done to him until now. That thought filling my mind, all I could see for myself was death. Feeling death near me, I couldn’t help but instinctively think back through my life… I’m scared.
Dying… is scary…
“Now then, Tamaki. I’ll give you two choices.
“Will you die here and lose your life forever? Or will you devote your life to being my slave?”
The offer he gave me was tempting.
“If you become my slave, you can be together with Shuri. I’ll even promise that I won’t harm you anymore.”
“However, the moment I think you’re acting weird, me, the red devil over there, and Shuri will kill you, no mercy. If you still want to, Tamaki, I’ll let you live.”
“I-I’ll be your slave! Please! I’ll devote my life to you! S-So please, don’t kill me!”
My mouth obviously clung to the bit of hope I’d been given.
I could live. I didn’t have to die. That alone was enough of a reason.
“That so? You chose well, Tamaki. Good job.
Seemingly satisfied with my prompt response, he re-sheathed his sword.
Released from the three’s bloodlust, I could finally feel happy at being alive.
“Tamaki Yui. With this, you are my provisional slave.”
On that day, I went from being a hero to being Katsuragi Daichi’s slave.