Completed ― I Don’t Care About Being Liked by the Capture Targets. I Will Be Myself and Free!

Completed ― I Don’t Care About Being Liked by the Capture Targets. I Will Be Myself and Free!

Chapter 1: Reincarnated as a Ruined Heroine

The pain gradually began to ease.

Everything was dyed bright red.

The one who was bright red was me.

The flowing blood entered my eyes, dyeing the world crimson.

“. . .heh.”

Blood gushed from my mouth.

Blood was flowing out from both my stomach and my head.

Even without being a doctor, I understood that it was a fatal wound.

After all, it was my own body.

Although I was still conscious, I couldn’t move a muscle.

Soon I would die, and the pain of realizing it calmly would be understood by no one.

“. . .sigh, what is this. . .”

My life has been ordinary.

I was born the only daughter in a small village with nothing special.

My relationship with my family was good, and though I had a few friends, I lived a peaceful life.

If I had to say, I was simply bored with the uneventful days.

When I turned twenty, I had plans to move to a big city in search of excitement.

I had made preparations for it and even obtained permission from my parents.

Things were going smoothly.

Soon, a new life in a new environment was about to begin.

Just when I was feeling a little excited, a horde of monsters attacked the village.

It was a small village.

There were hardly any people who could fight.

In the blink of an eye, the village was ravaged by monsters, and I, unfortunately enough, was left behind as I failed to escape.

I was crushed under the familiar ceiling of my home, and injuries opened up in various places of my body.

“. . .I wonder if everyone is okay. . .”

Did my father, mother, and friends manage to escape?

I was worried, but honestly, I didn’t really care anymore.

I am going to die here.

My life will end here.

The curtain falls on twenty years of merely existing without satisfaction.

I haven’t achieved anything.

Only emptiness remains.

Tears trickled down from my eyes.

Suddenly, a book fell from the shelf in the room.

I could barely move my eyes, but I managed to look at the book that fell.

It was a fictional story about a certain girl.

The story was about a girl with special powers who meets reliable boys, and together they form deep bonds while growing up, eventually saving the world.

I loved this story because It was filled with extraordinary experiences that couldn’t be found in reality.

“. . .how nice.”

I had always thought so.

If only my existence could be special like the protagonist of this book, and I could experience both hardship and happiness in my daily life.

I had thought that so many times.

Oh, God.

If there is a next life, please grant me a life with a role.

It doesn’t have to be easy.

I want to become a character in a story that is not flat but full of excitement.

In my fading consciousness, that was what I wished for.

Knowing it was a wish that would never come true, I closed my eyes slowly.

◇◇◇

Is my body feeling heavy?

I don’t feel any pain.

I’m still conscious, so I can’t die yet?

It’s okay; I’m ready for it to end.

I want to be at peace soon.

“. . .huh?”

I woke up.

My eyes opened.

The eyes I thought would never open again caught sight of an unfamiliar ceiling.

It seemed like I had been sleeping on a bed.

I slowly sat up and looked around.

“Where. . .am I?”

I didn’t know which way was right or left.

It was an unfamiliar room, lavishly decorated to the point where it seemed like I was seeing it for the first time.

The bed was soft and reached up to the ceiling.

From the carpet to the curtains and even the sofa, everything looked luxurious, which was quite overwhelming for someone like me who grew up in a village.

Am I dreaming?

At first, I thought that I was having a blissful dream on the brink of death.

However, the sensation felt too vivid for that.

I confirmed that I could move my arms and legs.

They had proper strength, and I could feel a surge of power welling up from deep within my chest,

It didn’t feel like my own body.

My skin wasn’t this pale and beautiful, and the strands of my hair that I could see at the edge of my vision were a fiery red colour.

My hair used to be brown.

“. . .Who am I?”

I didn’t even know who I was.

I couldn’t even grasp the situation.

In my confused state, I suddenly noticed a large mirror mounted on the wall.

From this angle, I couldn’t see my reflection yet.

I got up from the bed and slowly moved towards the mirror.

I felt like if I looked at my reflection in the mirror; I would know who I was.

And so, I looked.

A girl with crimson hair and eyes was standing there.

It was an appearance I had never seen before.

Yet, it was enchanting and striking, like a character from a story.

Immediately after, a shock ran through me.

“What. . .what is this?”

Unfamiliar images flowed into my head like a raging torrent.

They were memories.

Someone else’s?

No, They were memories of this body.

Memories from birth until today, leading up to becoming this girl, were replayed in my mind.

Startled by the suddenness of it all, I held my head in my hands.

It had only lasted a few seconds.

In that brief moment, I understood everything.

No, it was made clear to me.

“. . .It can’t be true, can it?”

Who I am

I know now.

And even about this world

I walked towards the window, still unable to believe it.

I looked out the window slowly.

“Ah. . .”

It was true.

This wasn’t the world I was in before.

There were two suns.

But it wasn’t an entirely unfamiliar world.

Rather, I knew it well.

It was the world of a beloved story that I had read over and over again.

I reminisced about it on the brink of death. It’s that world from the book.

“Really. . .did I get reincarnated?”

My wish was granted.

Even the gods heard it.

I was happy.

How fortunate I was.

Yet, I couldn’t rejoice wholeheartedly.

“Why. . .”

It was Because I didn’t just get reincarnated into the world of the book.

I had a role to play.

Not as a supporting character but as a major character in the story.

My name was Slayer Raeburn.

The antagonist heroine who harasses the protagonist of this story.

In other words, I was the villainess.

Chapter 2: fate destined

“The Holy Maiden of Light and the Five Heroes.”

That was the title of the book I loved.

The main setting of the story was in a school in the royal capital.

The protagonist, born as a commoner but possessing the talent of a holy maiden, meets a group of men who are later called heroes by fate after entering the school.

Through twists and turns, she solved various problems with her inherent kindness and sense of justice.

She even became friends with those who were initially hostile, and in the end, they worked together to fight against the evil Demon King.

Moreover, they didn’t just defeat him but even save him.

It was a happy ending where no one was unhappy.

However, there was one character who couldn’t be happy.

That was

“Me right now. . .”

No matter how many times I checked in front of the mirror in my bedroom, there was no doubt that I was Slayer.

All the characteristics described in the book matched me perfectly.

Above all, the memories that flowed into my head proved my true identity.

“Sigh. . .”

I let out a big sigh.

Probably including my past life, I had never experienced such disappointment before.

Being reborn was a blessing.

I wished for a life with a role to play, and it is true that this world was the last thing I thought of.

But of all things, being Slayer was unacceptable.

This character alone was impossible.

As I was feeling disappointed, there was a knock on the door.

“Ojou-sama, are you awake?”

It was a woman’s voice.

She was probably a maid in this mansion.

If my memory served me right, the maid would come to wake me up in the morning.

“Yes, I’m already awake.”

“――! Shall I prepare your change of clothes? May I come in?”

“Please do.”

As I remember, the maid came into the room.

Her name was Louise.

She was the maid who took care of me.

As she entered the room, she moved quickly and prepared my clothes.

I took the clothes and started changing by myself.

“O-Ojou-sama?”

“What’s the matter?”

“I-It’s nothing. . .Are you changing by yourself?”

It was at that moment I suddenly realized.

I always had the maid help me change.

She must have found it suspicious that I suddenly started changing by myself.

Considering this character’s personality, the idea of taking care of things by myself never crossed my mind.

She had an arrogant and confident demeanour, and she didn’t consider maids or commoners as human beings.

I also understood why she was so nervous.

Normally, I acted more arrogant and treated the maid with contempt.

“Well, maybe I should ask for your help after all?”

“Y-Yes. Of course.”

Louise hurriedly began to help me change.

Perhaps because my memories from my previous life were longer and more vivid than my new memories, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated relying on someone else to help me change.

Now I am Slayer.

I should behave like Slayer, but. . .

“How does it look?”

“Thank you. It fits properly.”

“――! Y-Yes.”

No matter what, I couldn’t behave arrogantly like Slayer.

Louise, while still fearful of my change in attitude, showed a relieved expression.

It was because she was usually rushed and scolded.

She seemed unable to hide her surprise at how easily the time for changing clothes had ended and how she was being thanked.

“Isn’t it time for breakfast?”

“Yes, it’s ready for you.”

“Okay, let’s go then.”

For now, I’ll try to play the role of Slayer to the best of my capabilities.

Maybe this world is completely different from the world in the book, and it just happens to have a similar name and environment.

Come to think of it, is it even possible to be reborn into a world that is exactly the same as a book?

It could just be a coincidence that I was born with a similar name and in a similar environment.

Yes, that must be it.

Otherwise, what am I?

I moved to another room and had breakfast.

My father and mother were also present at the breakfast table.

“Good morning, Slayer. Did you sleep well yesterday?”

“Yes, Otou-sama.”

“Eat well and grow big. Nutrition is important for growth.”

“Yes, Okaa-sama.”

My parents dote on me.

Partly because I am their only daughter but also because they are just naturally affectionate.

Their indulgence has influenced Slayer’s haughty personality.

In a way, I am troubled by the hardships caused by these parents of mine, but they mean no harm. They simply cherish me, so I cannot hold any resentment.

“Oh, Slayer, what’s the matter? You seem a little down.”

“Oh, yeah. I was feeling that way too.”

“I’m fine. I was just lost in thought for a moment.”

I laughed it off.

As expected, it would make those who see me every day feel uneasy.

I can’t be the real Slayer, after all.

It seems like I’ll have to gradually get my parents used to it.

It’s okay not to play the role of Slayer.

This place may look similar, but it’s definitely not a world from a book.

So it’s okay.

“You seem worried. Were you thinking about the school you’ll be attending next year?”

“Huh. . .”

“It’s okay. Being Slayer, you’ll make plenty of friends.”

“What do you mean by ‘school’?”

I asked hesitantly.

Then the two of them looked at me with puzzled expressions.

“What are you talking about? It’s the Royal Renoir Academy.”

” Starting from next year, you will become a student at the academy.”

Their words shocked me.

The name of the academy was also present in the memories of this body.

But I had been avoiding thinking about it.

To convince myself that it was just similar. . .

Not only the name of the academy but everything else was also similar.

The expression “similar” was no longer enough.

This world is indeed the world from the book.

If that’s the case, then I Slayer Raeburn will meet a tragic end.

Chapter 3: Be strong

Slayer Raeburn.

Her role is clear.

She is the other heroine who opposes the protagonist and causes her trouble with numerous harassments.

She plotted to steal the men around her and used all her power to trap the protagonist.

She was in a position of authority and was initially in a superior position as Slayer.

However, as her failures accumulate, she gradually loses her status in the school and ends up siding with the Demon King.

Having become a complete enemy, she relentlessly pursues the protagonist and her companions under the orders of the Demon King.

All to seek revenge against the protagonist who stripped her of her position.

But in the end, she was betrayed by the Demon King and killed.

Despite saving many others, she was one person the protagonist couldn’t save.

She lived until the very end as a villain.

I was reborn as such a character.

“. . .sigh.”

After finishing my meal, I returned to my room and collapsed weakly onto my bed.

I wanted to think it was different, but all the information I came across suggested my fate.

I will soon turn fifteen.

I will meet them next year when I enroll in the Royal Renoir Academy.

The protagonist of this story, no, the protagonist of the world.

And the five heroes who will save the world alongside the protagonist.

“. . .”

What should I do?

Should I spend this year peacefully and then enroll in the school?

If I meet them like that, won’t I be unable to escape?

No, but that’s just a story in a book.

I’m not Slayer.

If I don’t make choices like Slayer’s, the destruction in the future won’t come.

. . .Or so I thought.

I swallowed hard.

And felt a chill that seemed to reject my thoughts.

The story was composed of seven parts.

There was a common prologue and different outcomes depending on which heroes were chosen.

And the final chapter was the endpoint reached when all the heroes were chosen.

No matter which choice is made, Slayer’s fate remains unchanged.

No matter who the protagonist chooses to go with

Slayer will always oppose and push the protagonists into a corner, side with the Demon King, and ultimately be betrayed and die.

That fate cannot be changed.

It’s as if I’m being told by fate that I was born to die.

The unease I felt was probably that.

Even if I choose a different path from Slayer, I fear the same future awaits me.

Whether I run away or not, I will be killed by the Demon King.

Used as material to advance the story.

I had a hunch that it would turn out that way.

No, for some reason, I was convinced of it.

At this rate, I would surely meet an unfortunate death.

Like Slayer in the story.

And like my past life that had died once before.

“. . .I don’t want that.”

I strongly thought so.

Not just once but even twice. I didn’t want to meet an unfortunate death.

I was reborn, after all.

I definitely don’t want to end up in an unhappy future.

What should I do?

Is simply running away not enough?

Then. . .

“I’ll become stronger.”

The answer was simple.

Slayer’s death is concluded by getting involved with the Demon King in some way.

In whatever form, the Demon king kills her.

That’s her fate.

If that’s the case, it’s easy.

If I become strong enough to defeat the Demon King, everything will be okay.

If the cause of death is the Demon King, then as long as I defeat the Demon King, I won’t die.

If I am strong enough to defeat the Demon King, then I won’t have to worry about being killed by anything else.

Yes, I just need to become strong.

Stronger than the protagonist, the heroes, and the Demon King.

I will show them all!

I will definitely survive and find happiness.

This time-——

With my vow in my heart, time passes.

One year later——

◇◇◇

“Do you have everything you need?”

“Yes.”

“Do your best. Well, I suppose Slayer will be fine.”

“I understand. Well then, I’m off.”

Bidding farewell to my parents, I left the mansion.

Wrapped in my school uniform, I headed to the main part of the capital by carriage.

One year has passed since my rebirth.

As planned, I enrolled in Royal Renoir Academy.

“. . .finally.”

The year went by in a flash.

Through strict and intense days, I felt my growth.

I was determined to become stronger than the Demon King.

So, I trained every day.

Because of my parents’ personalities, they accepted my change in personality without much suspicion.

Being in an environment where I can obtain what I desire has been helpful, and I never had trouble finding places and partners for training.

Swordsmanship, spear techniques, archery, and various other martial arts.

I am confident that I have mastered them all perfectly, including magic.

Originally, Slayer came from a noble background and was born with exceptional talent.

If her personality had been different, she could have become a hero comparable to the story’s protagonist and the other heroes.

There was a description like that in the book.

After a year of training, I am undoubtedly stronger now.

“Well. . .”

It’s about to begin.

The encounter that will determine my fate.

The prologue.

With determination in my heart, I headed towards the venue where the entrance ceremony was being held.

The venue is located within the school grounds.

You can only go by carriage to the entrance of the school.

Moving within the school grounds is on foot, and only authorized personnel are allowed access.

Even if they are relatives or esteemed nobles, they are treated as outsiders if they have no relevance.

In other words, this place was a sanctuary.

I walked alone towards the venue.

Now then, it’s about time. . .

“Slayer.”

I was called out just as I thought that.

My name was called out in a gentle and slightly high-pitched voice.

When I turned around, I saw a kind-looking man with beautiful blond hair.

The reason why I am convinced that this world is the same as the one in the book is not just because of the existence of my house and school.

Slayer had a fiancé.

And that person who just called out to me is one of the five heroes.

“Alma Gleipnir.”

“Hmm? What’s wrong? Just call me Alma, as usual.”

He smiled a little.

Alma is my fiancée, Slayer’s fiancée.

At least for now. . .

“You seem different from usual. You haven’t visited my house lately, and have you been sick for a long time?”

“. . .No, it’s nothing like that.”

“――! You seem cold. What’s going on?”

Alma tilted his head in confusion at my cold attitude.

It was to be expected.

The real Slayer only wore a mask of friendliness towards him.

She acted refined and approachable to make herself look good.

My current behaviour must seem unnatural to him, who knew me welll.

But it’s fine this way.

“Excuse me.”

“Huh? Wait, Slayer?”

I have no intention of getting involved with him.

And that is Because he is one of the heroes who support the protagonist.

How can Slayer’s fiancée become an ally of the protagonist?

It’s simple.

He will have a fateful encounter later on.

“Um, excuse me.”

I was called out to.

This time it was a woman’s voice.

Without even turning around, I knew who it was.

Because this encounter follows the flow of the book.

“Is this the right way to the entrance ceremony? It’s so big that I got lost. . .”

She asked me with an apologetic expression as I slowly turned around.

With silver hair and clear blue eyes, she exuded an aura that captivated both men and women alike.

She is the protagonist of this world. . .no, this story.

The Holy Maiden of Light, Flare.

Chapter 4: Protagonist Flare

“Are you. . .a new student?”

“Yes. My name is Flare.”

“I’m Alma Gleipnir, a new student like you. Nice to meet you.”

“Yes! Nice to meet you too.”

Alma was probably taken aback by Flare’s beaming smile.

He knew it.

He fell in love with her at first sight here.

“The venue is straight ahead.”

“I see. Thank you!”

Alma tried to say, “If you don’t mind, let’s go together.”

But before she could say it, Flare ran out with a lively smile, and Alma watched her back.

I noticed Alma’s reaction as I stood next to him.

“She’s a lively new student, isn’t she?”

“Yes.”

“Slayer, about that. . .”

“Don’t worry about it.”

I already knew that you would fall for her.

So please, feel free to pursue her.

I’m fine with being left alone.

My distant attitude was because I wasn’t interested in Alma.

In fact, I didn’t even want to be involved with him.

I ignored Alma and headed to the venue.

Upon entering the venue, the first thing I did was confirm their whereabouts.

“. . .They’re here.”

I muttered under my breath.

Of course, I was confirming their presence.

The four other heroes besides Alma were also at this academy.

The four of them were new students like Alma, while the remaining one was a senior.

Seeing the four new students, I felt disappointed.

As expected, they were there.

I knew it was coming, but the feeling of gradually running out of options was overwhelming.

Born into a prestigious noble family, he was the eldest son with a promising future.

Leone Grates.

Born into the same noble family, Leone is Flare’s best friend.

Meigen Tolomir.

Although a commoner, Meigen possesses exceptional magical talent and is a genius.

Billy.

A reliable senior and the grandson of the school’s top authority.

Seika Renoir.

He will meet the protagonist, Flare, and share destinies together.

If this world is a story within a book, then they are the main characters.

And I would become their enemy.

Eventually, that future will surely come to pass.

So, I thought about it.

I felt that just gaining power was not enough.

I would spend my school life peacefully without getting involved with them at all and graduate from the academy.

If I could achieve that, I should be able to avoid an unfortunate future.

All events would occur during my time at the academy.

I would not get involved with anyone.

And even if I do, I’ll make sure I can handle it on my own

“. . .I’ll do it.”

I would spend my school life in just a supporting role without getting involved with anyone.

So please don’t involve me.

Don’t come near me.

With that wish in mind, I finished the entrance ceremony.

Afterwards, we moved to another location, and the physical measurements began.

In the story, this is where Leone and Billy have a little clash.

“What did you say? Say it again.”

“You didn’t hear me? Is your hearing bad?”

“You. . .with your commoner status, that attitude is disrespectful.”

“This is a school, right? Status shouldn’t matter.”

It started while they were both deep in thought.

They were like fire and oil.

Leone valued his noble status, authority, and dignity.

On the other hand, Billy was a commoner and didn’t care about that, believing that his magical skills were everything.

Their arguments didn’t align.

The small argument heated up

“That’s enough. If you don’t understand with words, I’ll show you with force.”

“I agree. I was thinking the same thing.”

Leone activated fire magic, while Billy activated lightning magic.

With hostility towards each other, they didn’t hear the teacher’s voice.

A collision was inevitable, and no one could intervene in the face of overwhelming power.

“No!”

Flare was the only one who dashed out.

Without hesitation, she stepped in between the two who were about to collide.

The surprised two immediately interrupted their magic.

However, it was incomplete, and a small explosion occurred, injuring Flare.

I also instinctively moved to help, but it turned out I didn’t need to worry.

Flare suffered minor injuries and knelt on the ground.

“Hey, why did you jump in?!”

“That’s right. One wrong step, and you could have been killed.”

“. . .Fights. . .even close friends have them. But I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Saying that she smiled bravely.

That was her true nature.

She genuinely hated seeing anyone get hurt and was willing to put herself on the line to protect others.

Truly worthy of the name of a saint.

Her bravery also moved Leone and Billy.

Honestly. . .wasn’t it a bit too much?

I thought that, but I accepted that it was just how things were in the book.

“If you had been injured, it would be all over.”

“Exactly. Let me heal you.”

“I’m fine. It’s just a scratch.”

Flare put her hands together.

It began.

Her prayer.

Her power as a saint manifested, and a faint light enveloped the surroundings.

Everyone was surprised, and their eyes widened at the power that was not magic.

“What is this. . .”

“No way, holy power? You have the power of a saint?”

“What is a saint. . .?”

At first, Flare knew nothing about her own power.

She only thought of it as a kind of magic.

Her ignorance and obliviousness must have tickled their male hearts.

But. . .well. . .

In reality, If you witnessed it, it would still be a bit too easy to change your mind.

Those two, and. . .

“It’s beautiful.”

Alma was also captivated by her, forgetting that I was nearby.

I let out a sigh.

Flare wasn’t doing anything wrong, but

To change one’s heart so easily like this, Slayer seems pitiable.

But that’s the story of Slayer within the book.

I’m different.

I won’t become like that.

I reaffirmed my determination.

Chapter 5: Annul the engagement

The room calmed down, and it was time for the body measurements.

What they’re looking at here is the power of magic.

They want to see how much magic you can handle, no matter what kind of magic you use.

In the book, Slayer demonstrated her water magic, which she was good at.

However, Flare’s presence just before had a big impact, and she didn’t get much attention.

I wonder if it’s okay to be casual.

Anyway, everyone’s head was preoccupied with Flare.

The girl who controls holy power.

I don’t mind if they focus on that.

I’ll just show them what I can do.

“Aqua Launcher.”

A water magic that compresses generated water and releases it at high pressure.

I held out my right hand, creating a sphere of water in front of me, and fired it at the target prepared for me.

I thought I was being careful with the power.

But I realized it immediately after firing it.

“Oh. . .”

Aqua Launcher not only destroyed the target but also pierced and crushed the wall behind it.

“What kind of power is that. . .”

“Slayer. . .?”

“. . .”

I went too far.

Or rather, I trained too much.

I won’t know how strong I’ve become until I measure it objectively like this.

Unintentionally drawing attention, I reflected on myself.

◇◇◇

“. . .sigh.”

After the entrance ceremony was over, on my way home.

I let out a deep sigh.

I failed spectacularly all of a sudden.

I was supposed to finish without standing out.

“I don’t want to be noticed weirdly. . .”

There’s nothing I can do about what I’ve done.

I’ll be more careful from now on.

While thinking that, I heard footsteps approaching.

“Slayer! Are you already leaving?”

“. . .”

The one who called out to me was Alma.

According to the book, I was supposed to talk to Flare after the physical measurements were done.

But that time had already passed.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in the book, she came to me anyway.

I’ll do my best.

But

I suddenly thought.

Is it okay to be more careful starting from tomorrow?

Since I’ve already failed and attracted attention, staying quiet from now on would be meaningless.

So maybe it’s better to take the offensive.

“That magic earlier was amazing! When did you get such power?”

“. . .Yes, that’s right.”

“Slayer?”

In a few days, he will break off our engagement.

The reason is obvious: he fell in love at first sight with Flare.

He argued that he found true love or something like that.

The characters adore him, but honestly, I’m not too fond of Alma.

Primarily because he once abandoned his fiancée.

That grudge pushes me forward.

If the future is already determined

“Alma, if you want to break off the engagement, I don’t mind.”

“Huh. . .”

I’ll push him away myself.

Alma was left speechless by my sudden statement.

But he quickly regains his composure and asks:

“What are you talking about? Why all of a sudden?”

“You fell in love with that girl, didn’t you? I can tell without you saying it.”

“――!”

Because it hit the mark, he made a face wondering how I noticed.

He’s such an easy-to-read guy.

It’s refreshing, really.

“If you like her, just go after her. It’s that simple.”

“S-Slayer. . .this is, um. . .”

“Don’t deny it. You were gazing at her pretty intensely when you met her.”

“Uh, no, I. . .”

Alma’s inability to retort amazed me.

If he had even the slightest bit of affection for me, he would have said something in response.

But he didn’t.

Which means there was never any genuine interest from the beginning.

If that’s the case, let’s just end it.

This fake relationship of ours.

“Goodbye, Alma. You should try your best to win her over.”

“Slayer!”

“You and I are strangers. So please don’t talk to me anymore.”

I turned my back on him and started walking away.

I didn’t care what expression he had on his face or if he tried to stop me.

I had no interest in that anymore.

I will live.

And to live, I will cut off anyone who is unnecessary.

Having any involvement with them is the last thing I need.

Let the battle against the Demon King happen somewhere else.

I have no intention of getting involved.

But if I do get involved

At that moment——

“I’ll defeat even the Demon King.”

To avoid destruction in the end.

That is why I have become strong.

Chapter 6: let’s be honest

Slayer, who enrolled in the academy, had her fiancée stolen by the protagonist, Flare.

As a result, she takes action to bring Flare down.

She used her power to bully her and schemed to prove that she was superior to her.

However, all her plans backfired, and she contributed to the increase in intimacy between Flare and the others.

And at the end of the prologue. . .

Slayer was used by the Demon King and betrayed, then killed.

The elapsed time within the story was about half a year.

She needed to stay away from the main characters for at least half a year and live peacefully without getting involved with the Demon King.

The first hurdle for that was. . .

“Not getting involved with Flare.”

When I returned home, I organized the situation again.

I confirmed the existence of Flare and other characters.

I also broke off the engagement with Alma before he could say anything.

That felt good.

He deserved punishment for cheating.

Although, in this world, he probably hasn’t cheated yet.

“Well then. . .”

It’s almost time for dinner.

As I stood up from my chair, there was a knock on the door.

“Ojou-sama, dinner is ready.”

“I’m coming.”

“Yes. The master and mistress are already waiting for you.”

I left my room and headed to the dining room, where they were waiting for me.

Along the way, I thought about various things.

I should not only be careful inside the school.

I also need to think carefully about my actions inside the mansion.

When I arrived at the dining room, I met my smiling parents.

“Now, Slayer, please sit down.”

“It’s okay to eat while we talk about school.”

“Okay.”

While eating, I briefly told the two of them about the situation at school.

Slayer is one of the main characters, but she plays the role of an antagonist.

The story is mainly told from the perspective of the protagonist.

Therefore, scenes where the protagonist is not present, leave us unaware of what Slayer and the other characters are doing.

Their actions, thoughts, and emotions were not described.

Especially Slayer, who only appeared at times when she was harassing Flare, her personal life was not depicted.

“Were you able to make friends?”

“Yes. They were all very kind.”

“I see; I’m glad to hear that.”

The two of them seemed delighted.

Although the conversation was peaceful, I was always thinking ahead.

Actions in scenes unrelated to Flare could significantly impact the story.

I am just someone who was reincarnated as Slayer.

It is impossible for me to truly play her character.

“Come to think of it, Alma-kun was supposed to have enrolled in the academy, too, right?”

“――!”

“Are you getting along with him? I haven’t seen both of you together lately.”

“. . .”

I had anticipated it, but now it has been confirmed.

I hesitated for a moment.

Both of them noticed the change in my expression and looked at me with confusion.

“Is something wrong?”

Now, I need to think carefully.

Breaking off my engagement with him is an important point that is closely related to the story.

In the original work, there was no depiction of the interaction between the parents.

There were only portrayals of Slayer’s anger, sadness, and emotional actions.

The two of them did not appear in the main story.

They doted on me.

Depending on how it’s said, there is a possibility that they will try to get involved with me in the future.

That would be troublesome.

If I deviate too much from the flow of the story, I won’t be able to predict the actions of Flare and the others.

What is the correct answer to give. . .

“. . .Actually, my engagement with him has been dissolved.”

“――! Dissolved? You broke off the engagement?”

“Yes. I requested it myself.”

“Why? Slayer.”

The two of them showed a worried expression rather than doubt.

After thinking about it, I decided that being honest was the best option.

With the current relationship, I have with them.

“Alma-sama is a good person, and I don’t dislike him either.”

Of course, I mixed in some appropriate lies.

“But still, there was no romantic interest between us. We continued our relationship because we didn’t have anyone else. However, it seemed like Alma-sama had found his destined partner. He didn’t say it, but I could tell from his expression.”

“Did Alma-kun. . .fall in love with another woman?”

“Not so explicitly. I just thought it was a good opportunity. If Alma-sama has found someone like that, I want to support him. An engagement should be done between two people who love each other. Seeing my Father and Mother made me think that way.

The two of them were like me, engaged to someone their families chose.

While it was an arranged match, the two of them were childhood friends and liked each other; they would have gotten married even without an engagement.

After they got married, I saw that they were still close to each other even after I was born.

Their marriage must have been built on true love.

It wasn’t just book knowledge.

Based on Slayer’s memories and my experiences up until today, I thought so.

I shouldn’t be mistaken.

Both of them were looking at each other’s faces, shy to confirm it.

“I see. If that’s what you have decided, we won’t say anything.”

“Yes, your happiness is our top priority.”

“Thank you very much.”

They easily agreed to it.

This is the trust I have built up as Slayer over the past year.

Both of them believe in me from the bottom of their hearts.

That’s why they don’t interfere with my words or actions.

I mustn’t add unnecessary complications to future developments.

“Does Alma-kun have someone he likes? Oh, by any chance, did Slayer find someone too?”

“Huh?”

“Oh my, is that so? I’d love to meet them.”

“That’s not the case.”

I shook my head at their hasty assumptions.

Although I denied it, I was worried because both of them were prone to misunderstandings.

I don’t have anyone like that.

At least until I survive, romance is out of the question.

Chapter 7: Unexpected Encounter

The next day,

I woke up as usual and headed to the academy.

At the Renoir Academy, there are no regular classes.

There are general subjects, martial arts subjects, magic subjects, special subjects, and so on.

Each subject is available, and apart from the mandatory subjects, students can choose the subjects they need and attend classes.

There are grades, but apparently, students from different grades can take the same class.

“Apparently” because it’s knowledge I’ve only seen in books.

In my past life, I lived an ordinary life and never attended an academy or experienced taking classes.

So, I was a little excited.

I can now experience the school life that I could only see in books.

The general subjects are mandatory for everyone, but the rest are optional.

“Now, what should I do?”

This morning, I managed to reach the academy without running into Flare or Alma.

So far, so good.

As long as I don’t make a mistake choosing my next class.

“I think it was a general subject.”

Flare took it first; coincidentally, that’s where the main characters, like Alma, gathered.

It’s like the first event where they interact with each other again.

Normally, I, as Slayer, would participate there as well.

But of course, I won’t act the same as Slayer.

“Anything other than general is fine.”

If I’m in the same space as them, I’ll inevitably get caught up in the event.

I already stood out during the entrance exam.

At least until they become friends, I’ll keep quiet.

And so after thinking it over, I chose to attend the magic subject class.

I participated in the class to learn the basics.

When I entered the room, several students were already seated.

It was the first class of the new school year and semester.

The seniors had probably already taken the basics, and most of the new students were taking general subjects.

In other words, it was a place where I could spend time safely without getting involved with anyone.

At first glance, they were all people whose faces and names I didn’t know.

Most of them were upperclassmen who probably missed taking the class last year.

There’s about five minutes until the teacher arrives.

Let’s relax and wait.

Just as I thought, a major event occurred.

“——Can I sit next to you?”

Someone spoke to me.

Even though there were plenty of empty seats, there was no reason for him to sit next to me.

I thought that, but there was no reason to refuse either.

I replied absentmindedly without even looking at his face.

“Feel free.”

“Thanks. Excuse me then.”

A man sat in the seat next to me.

I caught a glimpse of his left arm up to his shoulder.

The pattern on his uniform was different from mine.

He was probably an upperclassman.

“You’re Slayer Raeburn, right?”

“Huh?”

How did this upperclassman know my name?

As a new student, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Because of the examination, many people should know my name now.

But I’ve never interacted with upperclassmen before

I turned around instinctively and looked at his face.

In an instant, I had a bad feeling about this.

This appearance, with dark purple hair and a teardrop-shaped black mole under his left eye

No way——

“Nice to meet you. I’m Seika Renoir, a second-year student.”

The grandson of the academy’s top leader and one of the five heroes.

The only upperclassman among the five, he’s like a reliable older brother figure to everyone.

This is the worst.

Of all people, I had to encounter one of the heroes.

That’s right, I forgot.

Seika Renoir’s name doesn’t come up in Flare’s interactions and classes.

He will be involved with Flare and the others a little later.

In other words, until then, he will be acting in a different place from Flare and the others.

Among the five heroes, he is the most unpredictable in his actions.

I should have been cautious.

No, rather, it’s too unexpected.

He is an upperclassman with top grades in the school.

Why would someone like him, an honour student, be in such a basic class?

“I just came to review casually, but I never thought I would meet the rumoured new student so soon. I guess I’m lucky.”

He said that with a smile.

It seems luck was not on my side.

Not only did we meet, but he already knew about me. . .

I can’t continue attending this class as it is.

I made the decision and stood up.

But it was a little too late.

The teacher in charge of the class entered the room as if it was timed perfectly.

“The teacher is here. We should take our seats.”

“. . .”

Leaving here would be too unnatural and draw too much attention.

It would strongly imprint my existence on Seika.

So, I quietly sat down.

The class began.

It was monotonous, and I didn’t need to listen to the content I already knew well.

So, I whispered to him.

“. . .Why do you know me?”

“I told you, you’re the rumoured new student. They say you showed surprising results in the physical examination.”

“Do you know the results of the new students’ examination?”

“It caused such a big commotion. Many students were curious and asked about it. Of course, we were not given detailed information.”

His opinion was reasonable.

Especially since he is the grandson of the academy’s top leader, he holds a certain level of power within the school.

It was easy for him to ask teachers and students for information.

I was careless. . .no, it was impossible.

Who could have predicted such a turn of events?

Anyway, I have to get through this situation now.

“Hey, why did you enroll in this school?”

“Huh?”

Chapter 8: I will not withdraw

I couldn’t help but let out a sound at the sudden question.

I couldn’t help but turn to look at him.

He had a smirk on his face.

It was lukewarm as if probing my heart.

“. . .What do you mean?”

“There’s no deep meaning. I was just wondering what you came to this school to learn.”

“. . .Of course, knowledge.”

“Knowledge, huh? Yeah, I see. But don’t you already have enough of it?”

The series of questions attacked me.

He stared at me intently as if he was trying to determine how I would answer.

I didn’t know the reason.

But I sensed that I was being suspected.

“And isn’t that true for this class too? You haven’t been paying attention to the lecture since earlier. That’s because you’re already so familiar with it that you don’t need to listen.”

“. . .You’re the one who talked to me first, aren’t you?”

“Haha, you were the one who asked the question first.”

“. . .”

That was true.

I had probed first and ended up being cornered.

I dug my own grave.

It was too late to regret it now.

I had to somehow get through this strange time.

And try to reduce his interest in me as much as possible.

“The basics of magic are important. But I don’t think I needed to ask again.”

“I see. Then we’re the same. I came here to review too. And then I found you and my interest completely shifted.”

“I’m just a new student.”

“Is that so? To me, you seem far from ordinary. . .”

His eyes continue to capture me.

This person is dangerous.

Even among the five heroes, he’s the one whose thoughts are the most unclear.

He appeared as that kind of character, sometimes leading the protagonists to become suspicious.

He behaved like a traitor who sided with the Demon King along the way, only to eventually become an ally of the main characters and the protagonist.

Why was he behaving like a traitor?

Why he acted as a traitor was not clearly explained even in the original work.

“And who might you be?”

“I already introduced myself earlier.”

“Then I don’t need to answer you, do I?”

“. . .”

We both know each other’s names.

So, asking who we are is a pointless question.

Seika’s expression slightly darkens.

Probably mine too.

Just like I have a secret, Seika is also hiding something.

Something that wasn’t mentioned in the book.

“Today’s class is over. Thank you, everyone.”

“Oh, the class ended without us realizing it.”

“That seems to be the case.”

Thank goodness.

If I kept talking to him, I would definitely reveal something.

He already has an interest in me, so I can’t give him any more information.

Although I couldn’t achieve my goal of reducing his interest, leaving this place now is more important.

I quickly stand up and try to leave the classroom.

“Slayer Raeburn.”

Seika stops me.

I stopped abruptly and turned around.

“I hope we can take the same class again.”

“. . .Yes.”

I walked away.

Leaving the classroom, I walked down the hallway, trying to keep my distance from him as much as possible.

He was really a mysterious person.

It was the same in the book, but he was even more mysterious in person.

I had no idea what he was thinking.

Even his last words were just a simple farewell without further questions.

However. . .his smile as he left it looked fake and made me feel uncomfortable.

“I have to be cautious of his actions from now on.”

I muttered quietly.

I would avoid taking the same class as him.

I won’t enter the classroom until the last minute, confirming that he’s not there before joining.

It was troublesome, but there was no other choice.

If I ended up sitting next to him again, our relationship would progress just from that.

Having a relationship with them would lead to a future involving the Demon King.

I trained to defeat the Demon King.

I have confidence in fighting and winning.

But there’s no such thing as a guaranteed victory in any fight.

If I lost even once, my life would be over.

In that case, it would be better to stay uninvolved and quietly observe until everything comes to an end.

“Slayer.”

“――!”

So, please.

Don’t involve me in this.

“I finally found you.”

Alma-sama. . .”

The second person I didn’t want to get involved with came over.

My former fiancé until yesterday.

I had just broken off the engagement, I thought he wouldn’t bother me for a while.

Were you looking for me?

“What do you want?”

“I have something to talk to you about regarding yesterday’s matter.”

About breaking off the engagement?

Did he come to complain because he didn’t like my attitude?

If that’s the case, it’s ridiculous.

I was prepared to be scolded and ready to argue back.

But he had a serious expression and said as if clinging to me.

“Slayer. . .can you pretend the engagement was never broken off?”

“Huh. . .?”

Caught off guard by his unexpected statement, I froze.

He wants to pretend that the engagement was never broken off. . .?

Did he just say that?

“. . .Did I hear you wrong? It sounded like you said you want to get engaged with me again.”

“That’s what I’m saying. Slayer.”

I was shocked twice.

But I quickly regained my composure and asked him.

“Why? Did you fall in love with her at first sight?”

“I’ll admit, I was certainly captivated by her appearance. But it’s not like romantic feelings sprouted. I thought about it again after hearing your words. You are still my fiancée.”

“. . .”

“I want to get engaged with you again.”

He reached out his hand while looking straight into my eyes.

In the middle of the hallway, without any shame, even though other students were watching.

A few seconds of silence passed.

Although I was surprised, my answer was already decided.

“I have no intention of retracting. I am no longer your fiancée.”

“Ugh. . .”

“If it’s goodbye, we settled it yesterday.”

“Slayer!”

Ignoring him calling out to me, I turned my back and walked away.

He won’t chase after me.

He’s probably waiting for me to turn around.

So, I won’t turn around.

Chapter 9: Next door hero

Honestly, I still can’t believe it.

I can’t believe That he would suggest starting our relationship over again.

In the book, he was the one who proposed breaking off the engagement.

Was he hurt by me breaking it off and damaging his pride?

No, it didn’t seem that way.

His expression was serious.

It was a look that showed he was seriously considering repairing our relationship.

Did breaking off the engagement distort his way of thinking and behaviour?

“If that’s the case. . .”

It would be a big mistake.

At least he continues to care about me.

I would be happy if he gave up after what I said earlier, but it seems difficult.

I have a feeling that he hasn’t given up yet.

I sighed.

Please forget about me.

Just look at the protagonist in front of you.

The chime rings.

It’s the sound of the bell that announces one minute before the start of class.

Oh no.

Because I spent time with him, I haven’t decided which class to take.

Less than a minute left.

There’s no time to choose now.

I enter a classroom that catches my eye.

I glance around and confirm that Seika is not there.

At this last minute, there’s no need to worry about him coming in later.

“I got lucky this time.”

Muttering to myself, I sit in an open seat at the edge of the room.

“Um, are you Slayer-san?”

“――!”

That voice

Without even turning around, I knew who it was.

I shouldn’t have thought that I got lucky.

I should take back those words.

It seems that today, I have the worst luck.

“Hello.”

“. . .”

Flare, the Holy Maiden of Light.

She is the protagonist of this story, and the one I am supposed to be hostile towards is cheerfully greeting me from the seat next to mine.

I couldn’t help but let out a sigh.

“Haah. . .”

I sighed.

In disbelief at my own misfortune.

“Um, is something wrong?”

“Don’t worry about it. Class is starting.”

“Y-Yes.”

I was lucky that I made it into the classroom just in time.

Sensei came in immediately, and the class began.

Unlike Seika, she should be taking this class for the first time.

If she is as serious as her personality suggests, she won’t talk to me during class.

I will leave immediately after class is over.

With that in mind, I also listened to the teacher’s lecture.

“In other words, in order to develop new magic, it is essential to dissect existing magic formulas. For example, this magic formula――.”

I listened for a few minutes and understood.

This class explains the practical aspects of magic among the magic subjects.

It’s content that you won’t understand unless you have a decent understanding of magic.

Looking around, most of them are upperclassmen.

The only ones taking this class as freshmen are me and Flare next to me.

Did Flare choose this class on purpose?

In the book, she was so ignorant that she didn’t even understand her own power.

Can she understand this class?

Could it be that she is also a reincarnated person like me――

“Umm, hmm?”

“. . .”

Ah, she doesn’t understand this expression.

I feel a little relieved.

I remember now she’s a character with some gaps in her understanding.

She often gets lost or fails due to misunderstandings.

Perhaps she mistakenly entered this class as well.

Thanks to that, the other heroes aren’t participating either.

In a way, it’s a good thing.

“Well then, let’s have you decipher this magic formula. You there.”

“Huh, me?”

“That’s right. Explain this magic formula.”

A magic circle was drawn in white letters on the blackboard.

This class explains the deciphering of magic formulas and their applications.

Presumably, everyone else is listening because they understand it.

However, she was an exception.

There was no way she could understand it after mistakenly entering the class.

“Um. . .”

“What’s the matter? Can’t figure it out? It’s a simple concept, though. . .”

The teacher smirked.

That expression meant that she deliberately called on her because she was a new student.

What a mean teacher.

All eyes were on her.

Unable to understand while panicking, she becomes teary-eyed.

“. . .”

It can’t be helped.

I poked her arm a little.

“Huh?”

“. . .Look down.”

I gently showed her the characters I wrote in front of her.

Flare looks at my face for confirmation, and I nod slightly.

“So, that magic formula is Burn Fist of the fire system. It’s an advanced magic that includes emission, compression, and shape transformation of fire.”

“――! That’s correct. I just wanted to tease the new student, but it seems I was wrong. I apologize.”

“N-No. . .”

“Please sit down. Let’s continue the lesson.”

There was a chorus of “ohh” from the surrounding students.

The teacher resumed the lesson calmly.

The students’ gaze shifted from Flare back to the blackboard.

“Th-thank you very much.”

Flare said with a delighted expression, expressing her gratitude.

I averted my gaze.

“Don’t worry about it.”

It was just a whim.

It was a one-time thing, and I wouldn’t get involved any further.

Chapter 10: To this smile

I failed again.

It was a huge failure.

“Slayer-san! Thank you so much earlier!”

“. . .”

It was a mistake to feel sorry for her during class when she was in trouble.

I somehow ended up helping her, and she thanked me for it.

It would have been fine if it ended there, but

“Let me thank you properly someday!”

“I told you not to worry about it.”

“But I do worry about it!”

“. . .”

It seems like I successfully indebted myself to Flare.

After class ended, I tried to leave quickly she inexplicably followed behind me.

She walked faster than me and stood in front of me, bowed deeply, thanking me.

The other students also saw that scene.

To attract attention in the hallway twice in one day What a blunder.

“Slayer, what class are you taking next?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“Is that so? I don’t know which one to take either. . .”

“You should take a general subject. You just enrolled, after all.”

“That’s right! General subjects! Um, do you know which classroom to go to? I’m bad with directions. . .”

She laughed awkwardly.

It wasn’t funny at all.

I let out a big sigh.

“It’s this way.”

“Ah, thank you very much!”

I guided her.

If I reject her here, it will only give a bad impression.

Opposing her means opposing the heroes.

That is the future I want to avoid the most.

If I oppose them, I will come into contact with the Demon King.

I must avoid that development at all costs.

“Slayer, you’re amazing! You were amazing during the examination, and your studies are perfect too.”

“That’s not true.”

“But it is! I didn’t understand anything. . .”

“That’s normal. You don’t have to worry about it now. . .”

But saying that makes it seem like I’m not normal.

Talking to her makes me feel strangely relaxed.

Is this also the power of the saint that she possesses. . .?

Just walking next to her makes my heart feel calm.

It was a mistake to come into contact with her.

And on top of that, I ended up treating her kindly, and she’s starting to become attached to me.

I need to find a way to distance myself and return to being a stranger.

If I don’t, eventually

“Oh, isn’t that Flare?”

“Hello.”

“Oh! Leone-kun and Meigen-kun too!”

It’s because things always turn out like this.

It’s so predictable that I can’t even sigh.

The heroes gather around the protagonist.

I knew this would happen, so I didn’t want to get close.

“Hmm? You’re Slayer Raeburn, right?”

“Yeah, you got amazing results during the examination. Do you two know each other?”

“No, we just met in the same class earlier.”

“I see. I thought I hadn’t seen you around, but you must have been in another class.”

“Yes. I accidentally went to a difficult class. . .”

“Hahaha, I almost made the same mistake earlier. If Leone wasn’t here, I would have been lost.”

The three of them started talking happily.

As expected of the protagonist.

With her natural brightness and friendliness, she seemed to have already become friends with the two heroes.

Amazingly, it’s only been one day.

This is the perfect time.

While the three of them are talking, I should seize the opportunity to leave this place.

“Slayer-san is amazing! She casually solved a difficult problem and helped me!”

“Oh, really?”

“Wow~ She is skilled in both practical skills and studying.”

She just had to say something unnecessary.

Thanks to that, both of them turned their attention and interest towards me.

Running away was a failure.

“I’m Leone. It seems like you helped Flare. Thank you.”

A boyfriend-like statement on the first day of meeting. As expected.

“I’m Meigen. Nice to meet you?”

I know you well.

You are Leone’s best friend and only confidant, right?

I memorized their profiles.

Thanks to reading them over and over again, I could tell it was them at a glance.

“Slayer Raeburn. I was a little curious about you. That magic was amazing.”

“It was just using magic normally.”

“That was normal? If you went all out, would it have been more amazing?”

“It’s interesting. Why does a mere noble’s daughter possess such power?”

“——That’s what I’m curious about too.”

Another troublesome person joined us.

One of the heroes, the genius wizard Billy, approached us.

Leone became visibly annoyed.

“Hey, I was in the middle of a conversation. Don’t interrupt.”

“It’s irrelevant. I don’t think I need to hear the opinion of someone weaker than me.”

“You. . .!”

“Hey, you two! Can’t you stop fighting every time we meet?”

The two of them were like cats and dogs.

Especially in the beginning, they fought every time they saw each other.

The mediator was always Meigen.

It’s deeply moving to scenes that I only know from the book.

But now is not the time to be thinking about that.

“I’m not interested in you. It’s her that I’m interested in.”

“I feel the same way.”

“Well, since we both want to know, why don’t we just ask?”

“I want to know too! Slayer-san, why are you so strong and smart? Is there some secret?”

The three heroes’ passionate gazes were fixed on me.

Likely, even in the original story, Slayer wouldn’t have received this much attention from them.

What she wanted the most was being realized through my mistakes.

If I were the real Slayer, I would take advantage of this situation, but it wasn’t a happy development for me.

“There’s nothing special about it.”

I have no choice but to play it off.

Just a little more.

Time-wise, it’s almost time——

“Don’t act so high and mighty. We——.”

Kaan, kaan——

The bell signalling the start of class, rang, cutting off Leone’s voice.

“It’s time for class to start! Leone, everyone, hurry up.”

“Tch, Bell. How dare you interrupt me.”

“Don’t get mad at the Bell.”

“What did you say?”

“Let’s save the fight for later! Slayer-san too!”

As the group tried to enter the classroom, I turned my back.

“Slayer-san?”

“I’ll be attending a different class. I just came to guide you here.”

“I see. . .”

Flare looked visibly disappointed.

It’s a little regrettable, but it can’t be helped.

Staying with them any longer would be risky.

“Slayer-san!”

“What is it?”

“. . .let’s talk again sometime.”

She said it with a smile on her face.

The heroes were drawn to that smile.

I can’t say I don’t understand that feeling.

“Well then.”

Even I, as a woman, was almost drawn in.

Chapter 11: More than Just a Mob

The bell for the start of class rang.

The excuse of taking other classes was just a convenient lie.

If I participated in the same class as Flare and the heroes, our relationship would deepen.

So I ran away.

“. . .sigh.”

I never thought I would skip class on the first day.

The content isn’t that important, but if I don’t participate in class, I won’t receive the extra points necessary for promotion.

I intended to attend without skipping as much as possible.

“It’s not going well.”

I found myself alone in the school’s courtyard.

When the school is as large as this, the courtyard is as big as the grounds of a noble’s mansion.

It’s like a small forest.

I squatted in the shade of a tree where no one was around and slowly looked up at the sky.

The cloudless blue sky was peaceful. . .but it seemed to be a metaphor for a boring daily life where nothing happens, so I can’t really like it.

That being said, it’s more convenient if nothing happens.

At least until the threat of the Demon King is eliminated from this world. . .

Until the end of this story.

I feel a sudden fatigue

In this school, I can’t let my guard down and always need to be aware of my surroundings.

Right now, classes are going on, and there’s no one around.

“Maybe I’ll sleep a little. . .”

As soon as I thought that,

I felt a chill and my eyes opened wide.

With a thud, something fell in front of me.

To put it simply. . .it seemed like a person.

“Ouch. . .don’t break, branch~.”

“――!”

I touched my black hair with leaves on it.

There was a guy in front of me wearing a uniform with the pattern of a senior student, who fell on his butt.

He was a student with no distinctive features.

If you didn’t know the circumstances, he would look like an innocent ordinary person.

But I know him well.

I know him better than anyone else.

“Belfist Krone.”

“Huh? How do you know my name. . .? Who are you?”

Finally, it seemed that he had noticed my presence.

He looked at me with a bewildered expression.

My figure was reflected in his jet-black eyes.

Surprise and caution.

The two emotions were evident in my reflected expression in his eyes.

“Um. . .have we met somewhere before?”

“. . .?”

“Hey, are you listening?”

“. . .Why are you here?”

I inquired,

looking down at him as he slowly stands up and brushes off his backside.

“Isn’t that something you should say to yourself? We’re in the middle of class, you know?”

“I’m the one asking the question.”

“. . .You have a scary face.”

He muttered under his breath and slowly rose up, brushing off the dirt and leaves from his hands and feet.

When facing each other, the height difference was quite noticeable.

My gaze was at his chest level.

He was slender but tall and had a mysterious aura about him.

I was on guard.

I sharpened my senses so that I could activate magic at any time.

He seemed to have noticed that I was hostile towards him.

He narrowed his eyes gently for a few seconds.

Then, he let out a small sigh and spoke.

“Haah, I was just slacking off. I was wandering around the courtyard and just happened to fall into your place. There’s no other reason for it.”

“. . .”

He shook his head with a sigh.

Although it was intuitive, he didn’t seem to be lying.

Maybe he really was just slacking off.

Just like me.

“Well, I answered your question. Now tell me your reason. You look like a new student. Did you get lost or something?”

“. . .No, that’s not it. I’m the same as you.”

“Wow, skipping class on the first day of school is impressive! You have a promising future ahead of you.”

“. . .”

I stared at him intently.

So far, I hadn’t seen any strange behavior from him.

I can’t let my guard down, but maybe I can lower my level of caution.

As he nods, he suddenly realizes something.

“So, why does a new student know my name? am I that famous?”

“. . .”

“Could it be. . .”

My level of caution remains the same.

If he is the same as he is in the original work, there might be a fight here. . .

“Are you a secret fan of mine?”

“. . .?”

No, maybe it’s okay not to be so cautious?

I was exasperated and lost my strength.

“That’s impossible.”

“Yeah, you’re right~. It’s not me who’s popular, it’s probably Seika and the

others. That guy is popular with the girls~. It’s annoying.”

He sighed disappointedly while shaking his head.

Talking to him made me feel relaxed.

It was different from the calm atmosphere I felt when I was with Flare.

Unconsciously, my guard began to loosen.

“I heard about you from Seika and Renoir.”

“Oh, I see. So you know Seika. Or are you a fan of his?”

“I’m not a fan. I just met him in class a little while ago.”

“I see. So he’s taking classes that lower-classmen take. He’s still a guy I can’t quite understand.”

Belfist Krone.

The protagonist’s senior is in the same grade as Seika Renoir’s friend.

He often appears around Seika, giving advice as a friend and having daily conversations with the protagonist.

Although he is not deeply involved in the main story, he appears at key points to support the protagonist and the hero.

He becomes friends with the protagonist and also builds a friendly relationship with the heroes.

Among all the characters in the story, he is the only one who has a consistently friendly relationship with Slayer.

He was initially perceived as a supporting character, adding an accent to the story and misleading the readers.

But he was more than just a supporting character.

In fact, he had a leading role.

He plays a significant role in reaching the conclusion of the story.

He was the vessel for the ultimate antagonist of the world.

The vessel of Demon King. . .Satan.

Chapter 12: Hello Rathbos-san

In the story that I knew, he was depicted as an ordinary student.

In fact, he had no outstanding grades or abilities.

As a supporting character, there were no clear depictions of his battles, but it was clear that he couldn’t compare to the heroes.

However, there were scenes where he showed unusual intelligence, accurately reporting on the state of the battle or shining with ideas about tactics.

He played a role in assisting the main characters in those aspects.

As a reader, I thought of him as a character supporting the others

But at the end of the prologue of the story, just before delving into the individual episodes of the heroes, we readers would learn a shocking fact.

There was a mastermind behind the mysterious attacks and events that occurred around the protagonist.

Although the name was hidden, the description of the mastermind overlapped with Belfist.

Was he actually connected to the Demon King behind the scenes?

That prediction was half correct and half wrong.

He was the vessel that housed the soul of Demon King Satan.

I happened to cross paths with someone like him by chance.

It would be strange not to be cautious.

I didn’t want to meet this man more than the protagonist or the heroes.

I was really unlucky.

He stretched himself out, puffing up his chest trying to act important.

“Um, hey! What’s your name?”

“. . .There’s no need for me to tell you.”

“Huh? You know my name, don’t you? It’s okay to tell me your name.”

“. . .”

I didn’t answer.

I just stared at him intently.

“You have no intention of answering, huh? I guess it’s a bit rude to have an attitude like that towards your senior, you know? I don’t really mind, and Seika probably doesn’t either.”

“. . .”

“Be careful with other seniors. There are a lot of people in this school with high pride. If you provoke them, it won’t end well.”

It was a kind advice befitting of a senior.

He had a friendly personality and was loved by those around him.

The academy had people of various social statuses and positions, from commoners to nobles.

Among them, he stood out for having an exceptional number of friends.

Perhaps it was because of his unique atmosphere that lightened the mood.

In fact, when I talked to him, I almost let my guard down.

That’s absolutely not good.

He’s not just an ordinary person.

He’s the one I have to be most cautious of. . .

The one who killed Slayer.

“Hey, why have you been so cautious since earlier?”

“. . .A man suddenly fell from above. Isn’t it normal to be cautious?”

“That’s true. . .sorry for surprising you. I was thinking of taking a nap on a random tree branch, but the branch turned out to be weaker than I thought.”

“I see. Please be careful.”

While having a conversation, I was thinking about something else.

How to get through this situation.

Now that we’ve met, he knows of my existence.

No, it’s not a problem that he knows.

The problem lies in the fact that we coincidentally came into contact behind the scenes, rather than encountering each other as part of the main narrative. . .like it is in the story that I know. . .

I can’t predict what will happen next.

What stance is he taking in attending the academy?

Moreover, his soul is mixed with the Demon King, and I don’t know which one is dominant.

In the original work, it was depicted that he and the Demon King were mixed together, but that was only towards the end.

The details of the process are unknown.

For the sake of exciting the readers, the description was unnaturally cut out. . .

Is he currently the Demon King. . .or is he still Belfist, the human?

Either way, he’s still my enemy.

The enemy. . .I see.

“Fufu.”

“W-what? Why are you suddenly laughing?”

“Well, you know. . .if we’ve already met, it’s already too late.”

“What are you talking about. . .”

” ——Close.”

Isolation barrier.

Covers a certain area centered around the user with a transparent wall, isolating it from the real world.

The sky turns gray, and the colors of the trees darken.

“Barrier? Hey, what are you planning?”

“That’s my line. What were you thinking when you appeared in front of me?”

“Huh? I already explained it, didn’t I? I was just slacking off.”

“Is that really it? Don’t you have any other intentions, Demon King Satan?”

As soon as I mentioned that name, he opened his eyes wide in surprise.

But he quickly regained his composure and replied calmly.

“What are you talking about? I’m Belfist. calling me Demon King isn’t funny.”

“You’re smiling while saying that. There’s no need to hide it. I know. Your soul is mixed with Demon King Satan’s.”

I asserted.

If by any chance, I’m wrong, then so be it.

But I was sure of it.

There are five heroes, led by the protagonist Flare.

And there’s me, Slayer. . .

With this many characters, it’s impossible for there not to be a Demon King.

“To say such a joke to someone you’ve just met.”

“Does it look like I’m joking?”

“. . .”

“. . .”

We stared at each other.

Mixing suspicion and caution, keeping a perfect distance.

When my seriousness was conveyed to him through my expression, he let out a big sigh and placed his hand on his waist, looking down.

“Haah. . .jeez.”

The atmosphere changed.

As he slowly raised his face, his eyes——

“How did you know that?”

The Demon King’s eyes had changed.

Chapter 13: Complex Magic

his black eyes changed to a blood-like red.

his originally black hair also had a reddish tint, and I could feel sharpness from somewhere.

Above all, the magic overflowing from his entire body was different.

Even the magical power humans possess has its own colors.

Even among humans, siblings, parents, and children, there aren’t individuals who possess completely identical magical power.

The nature of magic reflects the characteristics of the soul that the person possesses.

Black.

Pitch-black darkness.

The magic he emitted was exactly that.

This is the Demon King.

Something that was only expressed in words in the book now exists in reality.

I could feel the ominous and eerie atmosphere on my skin, and cold sweat dripped down my cheeks.

I was prepared for this.

He is someone I may eventually face.

I know it’s a terrifying existence.

Knowing that, this pressure. . .

“You’re an interesting one, smiling at my true nature.”

“. . .?”

It seems I was smiling.

Unconsciously, my face had a smile on it.

Is this joy?

Or. . .is it at least resistance to fear?

I clenched my fist.

“Well, what are you going to do now?”

“. . .I’ve already decided.”

I should have been prepared for this.

I motivated myself.

Once again, I put my hand on my chest to make sure.

My heart was beating fast and strong.

I feel fear.

I am also shaken. . .but I am not in despair.

Then, surely, it will be okay.

I remember.

For what reason have I been training until today?

Everything is. . .

“To destroy you here.”

“. . .heh, fine. It’s a reward for noticing my true identity. I’ll play with you.”

Belfist. . .no, the magic of Demon King Satan swelled up.

The inside of the isolation barrier was filled with his magic, his magic took control of the place.

It happened in an instant.

The outer wall of the barrier I had deployed was covered in darkness.

“Kuh. . .”

“Don’t worry. I’ll leave the barrier as it is. It’s more convenient this way. . .I don’t know what you intended by being alone with me.”

The isolation barrier cut off all communication with the outside world.

No one could enter the barrier, and no one could even notice its existence.

This place had become a space different from reality.

No matter how much I rampaged or destroyed things inside, it would have no effect on reality.

However, it was different for living creatures inside the barrier.

If I died in here. . .of course, I would die in reality too.

“You wanted to cut off reinforcements from outside? To challenge me alone, knowing that I’m the Demon King. . .Quite foolish of you.”

“Whether it’s foolish or not. . .you’ll have to taste it and decide!”

My body stiffened with fear.

That’s why I took the initiative.

I deployed five magic circles behind me.

Fire, water, wind, thunder, earth.

The basic attributes of magic are the five major elements of magic.

I deployed all the highest-level magic formulas and fused them into one.

“Magic formula fusion?”

“Just watch.”

This was the ultimate strike that combines the magic of the five primary elements.

Composite magic――

“Nova Sphere!”

A pure white beam of light was fired from the magic circle.

It was a compressed mass of power that canceled and crushed all elements.

I couldn’t hold back.

The opponent was the world’s strongest, The Demon King. . .I couldn’t afford to hold back.

From the beginning, I encouraged my trembling body with all my might.

The blast hit Satan directly.

He didn’t try to avoid it.

He put his hand in his pocket and didn’t move, smiling recklessly.

Did he think he had room to spare?

Even if he was the Demon King Satan, he should have suffered considerable damage from that magic.

If he had been overconfident and underestimated me, it would be convenient.

If I could gain even a slight advantage with this. . .

“——I see. That was quite a good hit.”

“. . .It’s not funny.”

The dust and blast that had risen settled, and he appeared.

I immediately understood.

He was Unscathed. . .

He was standing in the same spot, without moving a step, without any damage.

I was both shocked and disappointed.

I had a vague feeling, but to receive that hit and not be affected at all. . .

“As expected, you’re a monster.”

“The same goes for you. That hit just now. . .it’s not a technique that any ordinary human can do. It takes considerable talent and training to achieve it.”

“Thank you for the compliment. Then I wish you had struggled a bit more.”

“I did struggle. I defended myself.”

I squinted my eyes.

If you look closely, there was something like a black mist swirling around him.

It wasn’t a residue from my attack.

That is. . .

“Magic power.”

“You have good eyes. That’s correct.”

When he lightly raised his right hand, black mist swirled around his arm.

Is the magic power overflowing from his body materializing?

Magic power is a power that cannot be seen or touched by the naked eye.

As a mage, I possess a unique sense that allows me to perceive the quantity, quality, and flow of an opponent’s magical power.

However, it’s not something I can clearly see.

I can only feel it.

But. . .I can clearly see it with my eyes.

A swirling vortex of jet-black magic floated around him.

“That’s ridiculous. The concentration of magic is so high that it can be seen with the naked eye.”

“Yet you’re not surprised.”

I’m not surprised.

Such descriptions were already said in the original work.

Demon King Satan can materialize magic itself and wield it as a weapon

He is the only one in the world who could do this.

I knew that, but I never thought that I would be easily blocked by a barrier of magic power alone.

He’s stronger than I imagined.

“It’s really interesting. Even though I blocked your best shot, you haven’t lost your fighting spirit. Those eyes of yours still intend to beat me.”

“. . .If I didn’t think that way, I wouldn’t have picked a fight with the Demon King in the first place.”

“Hahaha, that’s right. Then, show me.”

A cold and sharp killing intent emanated from Demon King Satan.

I pushed my trembling body forward with determination.

“Use all of your power.”

Demon King took a step forward.

This time, it seems to be my turn.

Chapter 14: Despair. . .Courtship?

The Demon King has three main attack methods.

They are martial arts, swordsmanship, and magic.

Each one of them far surpasses human strength.

He is getting closer, step by step.

He seems careless, with many openings, yet he is also rigged.

I remain cautious, anticipating his next move.

How will he attack?

Will he use magic?

Or will he continue like this——

“Let’s go.”

“――!”

The Demon King disappears before my eyes.

I immediately sense his magical power.

To the right――

He was there when I turned around.

He clenches his fist and swings it widely.

His fist was wrapped in jet-black magical power.

“Ice Wall!”

I quickly generate a wall of ice.

The thick ice wall is easily shattered by his fist.

But that’s okay.

I dodge the direct hit and jump away with the shattered ice fragments.

“Good reaction.”

The Demon King looks satisfied even though I dodged his fist.

Now that I have created some distance, this is my chance.

I held out my right hand towards the Demon King.

The groundwork has already been laid.

A magic circle was deployed beneath the feet of Demon King Satan.

“This is. . .”

“Ice Spear.”

The shattered chunks of ice transform into sharp spears, attacking Satan from all directions.

The distance is too close for defense, catching him completely off guard.

This time, his magical barrier won’t be able to defend against it.

“Too bad. This time the power is poor.”

“Ugh. . .”

The attack hit, but he was unfazed.

He doesn’t even need to defend with his magical power.

No, that’s not it.

His body is always covered in a black magical membrane.

Most attacks are deflected by that membrane.

In other words, unless I use magic with the same or greater power as Nova Sphere, it won’t reach his body.

“I’ll do it.”

I deployed five magic circles behind me.

“Another combination magic? It will lead to the same result. It’s a waste of magic power.”

“Don’t worry.”

I am human.

I don’t possess an unlimited well of magic like a demon, nor can I accumulate it in abundance like a reservoir.

Even with talent, there are limits.

My physical strength and magic power are no match for the Demon King.

That’s why I honed my precision in manipulating magic and my sense in casting spells.

Efficiently wielding magic with minimal power and minimizing loss during spell activation

That is the ultimate goal.

“Nova Sphere.”

I compressed the magic power in my hand without casting the spell.

I condensed the power of Nova Sphere and transformed it into the shape of a sword with a swing.

The impact of the generated light sword scattered multiple spheres of light.

“You turned the power of combination magic into a sword.”

“That’s right. With this sword——”

I deployed magic circles beneath my feet.

With a small explosion, I took a large step forward, slashing Satan.

Satan quickly created a barrier of magic power to defend himself.

However, the light sword shattered it.

“Has its power increased due to compression?”

That’s right.

This swing has a high-density compression of the power of the first shot I fired.

The strength and power are incomparable.

Even the magic power wall that couldn’t be broken through by the shot can be penetrated by this sword.

I can cut his body.

Satan understood it instantly and retreated.

“You won’t get away!”

I manipulated the spheres of light and released them.

When I compressed them into the shape of a sword, some of them were left uncompressed.

I condensed the excess into a palm-sized ball and controlled it as an attack ball floating around me.

Although small, its power is equivalent to the sword.

It broke through Satan’s magic power barrier and grazed his cheek with one shot.

Satan wiped the blood flowing down his cheek.

“You made me bleed.”

The wound healed in an instant.

His body also had regenerative abilities.

Minor injuries didn’t count as damage.

But. . .

“It reached me.”

“. . .!”

My attack hit Satan.

As long as that was clear, I could fight.

There was a chance of winning.

My efforts until today. . .were not in vain.

“How interesting, that style.”

“――! No way.”

The jet-black magic he controlled changed shape in his hands.

Into two swords and countless spheres.

“I’ll imitate it too.”

“. . .Really.”

What a ridiculous monster.

“Let’s go. Can you keep up?”

“——Don’t underestimate me.”

A pure white sword and a jet-black sword.

White spheres and black spheres.

The shapes were the same, but different powers clashed.

Satan’s sword deflected my attacks perfectly matching my swordsmanship.

The attacks from the spheres were also nullified by a similar power.

Evenly matched. . .no, I’m at a disadvantage.

He has one more sword than me, and he surpasses me in the number of spheres.

In addition. . .,

“Ugh. . .”

“What’s wrong? Are you getting tired?”

There’s was a significant gap that couldn’t be filled by physical abilities..

While I was gasping for breath, Satan remained calm, not even seeming slightly out of breath.

He remained calm even in the midst of fierce attacks and watched my movements carefully.

Thinking about it again, how did the hero and Flare manage to defeat such a monster?

He’s far stronger than I imagined, and naturally. . .

“Heh, still laughing?”

I was laughing.

Feeling both exasperated and joy at my own strength for surviving in this situation.

I had become stronger.

Strong enough to fight Demon King Satan.

I was fighting alone against an opponent that the heroes had to use all their strength to match.

That made me truly happy from the bottom of my heart.

But. . .

“. . .huff, huff. . .”

Just feeling happy wasn’t enough to win.

My stamina was being worn down bit by bit, and I had used up all the spheres of light.

The sword in my hand will disappear if I let my guard down for even a moment.

I couldn’t win like this.

If it came to this. . .I had to use my trump card. . .

“Good, I like you.”

“――!”

Satan entered my range.

He closed in on me in the moment my concentration was broken by fatigue.

I didn’t notice and he grabbed both of my hands.

Damn it!

I’ve been caught. . .

I have to use my trump card after all. . .

When I was about to make up my mind to risk my life, Satan pulled my hand and brought his face closer.

Our faces were getting closer.

And then. . .

“Will you, become my wife.”

“. . .huh?”

The Demon King proposed to me.

Chapter 15: Open up

In the past few days, I have experienced many actions that I cannot understand.

There have been many sudden lines and actions that have surprised me.

But all of them were so unexpected and adorable that I forgot to breathe.

“W-What. . .”

“I like you! A woman like you would be suitable to be my partner.”

“W-Wait. . .”

What is this guy doing. . .?

Shock and confusion raced through my mind.

He didn’t loosen his tight grip on my hand

There was no hostility.

What I felt from his gaze as he looked at me was pure expectation.

I don’t understand.

My head is a mess, and I’m losing my thoughts.

Seeing me flustered, Satan tilted his head.

“What’s wrong? Aren’t you happy?”

“Well, of course not?”

“Why not? You’re my partner. Is there anything more honorable than that?”

“But you’re the Demon King, right? Being the wife of humanity’s enemy is nothing but dishonor!”

In a state of panic, it’s difficult to have a proper thought process.

I respond based on my emotions.

“Humanity’s enemy? Your way of thinking is outdated. That’s a thing of the past. I don’t think of you guys as enemies. You’re the ones who are treating me as an enemy.”

“Don’t joke around! If you’re not hostile, then why did you kill her? Why did you oppose Flare and the others. . .”

“What are you talking about? I haven’t killed anyone since I was resurrected.”

“You’re lying――!”

I spoke too much based on my emotions.

Realizing what I said, I finally calmed down.

His confusion is natural.

The criticism I made was just a story that I know.

He still hasn’t killed Slayer.

He’s not hostile toward Flare and the heroes.

“. . .It’s nothing.”

I talked too much about unnecessary things.

How can I cover this up?

Or rather, how can I sort out this situation along with the Demon King’s proposal. . .?

“What do you know. . .?”

“. . .”

“You were sure about what you said earlier. That I killed someone. . .there’s no such fact. I know that better than anyone.”

“I mistook you for someone else. I know someone who looks a lot like you.”

I’m aware that it’s a painful excuse.

Someone who looks like the Demon King?

There’s no way such a person exists.

Satan smiles wryly.

“How intriguing. You seem to know something, don’t you? Something that I don’t. . .Would you care to enlighten me?”

“You’re mistaken.”

“You don’t want to answer. Then I’ll just ask on my own.”

“What. . .?”

There was a thud sound.

Before I knew it, his forehead was touching mine.

Our eyes, noses, and mouths were close.

I could clearly hear his breathing.

I had never experienced a man’s face being this close, and I couldn’t help but feel a flutter in my heart.

But I realized it in an instant.

He was peeking into my mind.

“Get away from me!”

“You’re a rough one.”

As he pulled away his forehead, one of the hands that he used to hold me also let go.

My right hand was still being held.

Psychometry, the magic that reads information from a touched object or person.

It’s difficult to read the memories and information of living beings.

But for the Demon King, it’s a piece of cake.

How much did he see in that moment?

I swallowed hard.

“. . .I see. You’re also a reincarnated person.”

I’ve been found out.

Satan peered into my head and understood that I was a different person who was reborn as a Slayer.

And probably, everything up until today. . .

“Don’t lump me in with you.”

“Indeed, we are not the same. I am from the past, but you are from a different world. It’s interesting. . .the memories of the book you possess as well.”

“. . .”

Of course, the contents of the book were also conveyed to him.

Why I had realized his true identity.

Including the outcome.

This is the worst.

I had given the last boss detailed information.

Now, my chances of survival have plummeted.

“Truly interesting. What will become of me. . .destruction? Like you.”

“. . .?”

What should I do?

Give up and be at ease?

Even if I resist, the result was already clear.

I have failed.

Then, should I just stay here like this. . .

“But I don’t like it. If I don’t find a partner, I will perish!”

“. . .Of course. You picked a fight with the world.”

“That’s where you’re wrong! The me in the story you know is different! My desire is not world domination or revenge against humanity! I was resurrected to find an eternal companion!”

“. . .Huh?”

What is this Demon King talking about. . .?

With all my strength drained from giving up, I ask with a sigh.

“The Demon King was resurrected to find a wife? That’s ridiculous.”

“What’s ridiculous about it? Even you humans live to find someone to be with. It’s only natural for me, who is tired of fighting, to wish for the continuation of my species, isn’t it?”

“So you really did resurrect just to find a wife?”

“Of course! And possessing this man named Belfist is part of my plan to find a suitable partner in the academy!”

Satan proudly puffs out his chest.

It’s ridiculous how serious he looks.

“Which one are you. . .?”

“Which one what?”

“Are you Satan? Or. . .Belfist?”

“Both answers are correct. I am currently a mix of two consciousnesses. As I speak now, I am Satan and also Belfist.”

It was a line that was also mentioned in the original work.

He must have said it following my memories.

As proof, he looked pleased.

“. . .sigh. And I’m the bride candidate for that?”

“That’s right. I like you. Your courage that doesn’t break even in front of me, and your supernatural magical power. . .they are exactly suitable for me.”

“But in the original work, you used and killed me.”

“That seems to be the case in the book. But you’re different, aren’t you? You are Slayer, but not Slayer.”

That’s right.

I’m not a Slayer.

I’m another soul that resides within the Slayer. . .I am myself.

“That’s why I like you. Not as Slayer, but as yourself.”

“For me. . .?”

The contents of Slayer, I was just an ordinary villager.

In my first life, I was bored, left nothing in the world, didn’t leave a strong impression on anyone’s memory, and died while burning.

What is there for someone like me?

Is there anything attractive about me?

If he’s serious. . .

“. . .Fine. I’ll become your bride.”

“Oh? That’s unexpected――”

“But there are conditions.”

My heart had been completely broken.

I had reached the limit of giving up and found a path to take.

Things were no longer going according to plan.

I couldn’t just follow the story in a book and watch from afar.

I had become involved.

Deeply, to the point of no return.

If that’s the case, then. . .

“Protect me! Until the end of my life, until I die of old age!”

I’ll use this Demon King as much as I can.

Chapter 16: Another Request

The day after the fierce battle with the Demon King.

“. . .ugh, morning. . .”

I woke up feeling the brightness of the morning sun.

My body was tired and heavy.

My joints were stiff and a little painful.

I could feel the pain.

Yes. . .

“I’m alive.”

I survived the battle with the Demon King.

After being shown overwhelming power and hesitating about using a desperate last resort, we negotiated, and I returned to my everyday life.

No, I can’t call it my daily life anymore.

Now I am. . .

“. . .sigh.”

I let out a small sigh and called for the maid to prepare for the morning.

I spent breakfast with my family and headed to school, behaving as if nothing had changed.

To be honest, I’m not looking forward to it.

Rather, I still can’t believe it.

After such a battle, even prepared to die, that I am still alive.

Above all. . .

“Slayer.”

This man, the vessel of Demon King Satan, Belfist. . .

“Good morning.”

“. . .yeah.”

To think he became my fiancé.

◇◇◇

Going back in time, just after the fierce battle had ended.

Shaking off my despair, I said to the Demon King:

“Protect you?”

“Yes. Protect me. Forever.”

In any case, the Demon King had already figured out my true identity.

He knew my hidden purpose, so things wouldn’t go as I wanted from now on.

So I decided to use him.

If the trigger for the death of Slayer, the strongest being in this world, was the Demon King Satan, then if I could make him my ally, I would never die.

I probably wouldn’t be able to live a normal life.

But that was okay.

I didn’t want to have a sad ending.

“Heh, it sounded like a proposal just now.”

“You’re the one who proposed. I’m just trying to protect myself. I don’t want to die, so I’m telling you to protect me.”

“You’re quite bold in this situation.”

“That’s precisely why. I have nowhere to run. So I’ll fight to the bitter end.”

If I couldn’t be acknowledged, then I would fight until I was.

This time, I wouldn’t hesitate.

No matter what kind of fight it is, I would use my trump card to defeat the Demon King.

With a strong determination in my eyes, I looked at Demon King Satan.

“You have good eyes. They haven’t lost their light yet.”

“. . .What will you do? If you can’t accept my demands, then this conversation is over.”

“Heh, alright. I’ll listen to your request. I’ll guarantee your safety.”

Satan answered.

In my heart, I muttered “good.”

I couldn’t tell if his words were true or not, but for now, it seemed like he was on my side.

The problem was how to make sure he wouldn’t betray me from now on. . .

“However! I have a condition too.”

“A condition? Are you planning to make me do something other than getting married?”

“That’s right. I’ll accept your request. I’ll also make an additional request.”

“You already made a condition for the marriage proposal. It’s unfair to ask for another one.”

When I objected, Demon King Satan smiled.

“It’s better not to think that you can negotiate fairly in front of me.”

I felt a chill from his cold gaze.

It felt as if someone whispered in my ear, saying that he could kill me in an instant.

I felt such a loose and dull killing intent for the first time.

My body tensed up.

“Don’t worry. It’s not a big request.”

“. . .What should I do?”

“Help me find my other half.”

“. . .What do you mean?”

I didn’t understand what he was saying.

Demon King’s other half?

That word didn’t even appear in the original story.

It sounded like he was incomplete, right in front of me.

“As you thought.”

“! My thoughts. . .”

“I can tell even without reading your mind. Your face is quite easy to read.”

He touched his own cheek suddenly.

It was the first time I had been told that my face was easy to read.

Even though I thought I was being careful.

“. . .Can you explain it to me?”

“Sure. Let me explain briefly. Soon. . .the effect of the isolation barrier will wear off.”

There was a time limit for the isolation barrier.

Even if he stripped me of my control, the limitations that occurred when it was first deployed would not change.

Until the end of class in the outside world.

With the sound of the bell signaling the end of class, the barrier would collapse.

“My resurrection is incomplete. As you can see, my body hasn’t returned. What’s here is only a part of my soul and power.”

“A part. . .”

This much strength without being a complete body?

How terrifying would it be if he were fully resurrected?

In the book, the heroes were able to defeat the Demon King quite often.

If the Demon King is a monster, then the heroes are monsters as well.

“At the same time as my soul was resurrected, my power was scattered into countless pieces. I want to recover that power.”

“Scattered. . .where?”

“In the hearts of humans.”

The hearts of humans. . .?

I tilted my head in confusion.

“Power harbors will. My power was drawn to the gaps in human hearts. Regret, conflict, guilt. . .Everyone has at least one secret they can’t tell others. Just like you and I.”

“. . .I see.”

“Holes are created in such human hearts. In order to fill those holes, the heart seeks a replacement. My power was drawn to that.”

“I don’t really understand. So, are there other humans who have your power?”

“That’s right. Well, they probably don’t realize it themselves.”

I understood the request.

After understanding, I said to Satan,

“It’s impossible.”

“What did you say?”

“Well, we don’t even know where that person is. Do you have any idea how many humans there are in the world?”

If Satan is asking for my help, it means he doesn’t have the power to sense the location of his power himself.”

Or maybe he doesn’t know the exact location.

If that’s not the case, there would be no need to rely on others.

He would just find and reclaim the power himself.

“Rest assured. Power attracts power. I am here. Therefore, the wielders of the power. . .are within the school.”

“Why do you think that? Do you have any evidence?”

“Oh, I just became convinced of it a moment ago. My separated powers. . .are housed in the heroes you mentioned.”

“What. . .?”

What is he saying. . .?

The heroes have the power of the Demon King?

That’s impossible.

There was no such description or development in the original work.

Chapter 17: Mysteries not in the original

“Impossible.”

“No, I’m certain. I saw your memories and was convinced.”

“What do you mean? Just because you know the original story? That makes it even more unlikely.”

“No, in the original story, I realized it. That a part of my power resided within the heroes. And. . .by becoming close to the protagonist, the gaps in their hearts were filled. Once filled, they lost their place, and my power was unleashed.”

Satan continued to explain.

The released fragments of power were drawn to the most suitable places.

And nearby, the original body was present.

Therefore, the power returned to Satan himself.

Upon learning that the power had returned to him through the protagonist and the heroes coming together. . .

“He tried to get the protagonist to collect all the power?”

“Most likely. That is the true goal of Satan, which was not depicted in the original story! Whether it is world domination or finding a bride, the recovery of power is a shared desire. That’s what I would do.”

Satan asserts.

Although it is a development in the story, it is convincing because he is saying it himself.

And ultimately, the Demon King became completely opposed to Flare and the others.

In the end, he was defeated by Flare and disappeared completely from the world.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be the protagonist. The gaps in their hearts. . .if the problems they have are solved, they will be filled.”

“Then I don’t need to do anything.”

Flare is in this world.

She will surely deepen her friendship with the heroes.

The heroes’ problems will be solved by her.

In the final story, everyone confronts the Demon King together in the grand finale.

By that time, their problems had already been resolved.

“If Flare is here, it’s enough even if I don’t do anything.”

“. . .Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.”

“Why not?”

“That girl can only save one person’s heart.”

“That’s not true. In the last story. . .”

“The problem was resolved. However, my power was not returned. There is evidence. The power I showed was. . .too incomplete.”

“Incomplete. . .?”

The description of the final battle was intense.

Even though it was just words, the scene was vividly conveyed, with the terrifying power of the Demon King and the feelings of Flare and the heroes running through their entire bodies.

Not just me, but many readers must have been moved.

“I am not at that level now that I have fully recovered. I’m telling you, there’s no way I’m wrong.”

“. . .”

If I were told that by the person themselves, I would probably agree.

Certainly, there wasn’t much difference in strength between the Satan fought in individual routes and the Satan in the final battle.

There was no such description.

“Why? If you solve the problem, shouldn’t the gap in your heart be filled?”

“That’s right. Then the reason is simple. It means that a new gap has been created.”

“A new gap. . .does that mean. . .”

“Desire.”

“Desire?”

“The regret of not being able to obtain the protagonist, Flare, became a new hole.”

Such a reason. . .?

I knew the problems they were facing.

They were all sad, heavy, and painful problems.

They were all gradually resolved by spending time with Flare.

At Satan’s unexpected words, I was amazed.

Is the pain of not being able to win over Flare the same as that sadness?

“Can jealousy be the reason?”

“You underestimate it. Everyone has desires. If you lose someone you desired so much, the gap in your heart will only grow larger. Humans suffer more from losing people than losing things.”

Satan said that with a distant look in his eyes.

Perhaps it was also a personal attachment.

Or maybe Belfist, who possessed him, had a past of losing someone.

I don’t know, but he looked sad.

“. . .then it’s not good.”

“That’s right. This can’t go on like this.”

Flare has met them.

They are already attracted to Flare.

Although to varying degrees, if they continue to be involved with Flare, it is clear that they will fall in love.

If they fall in love and seriously seek Flare. . .

“The gap in their hearts will no longer be filled and my powers will never return.”

“. . .what if you kill them?”

“Heh, are you asking me that?”

“Just tell me.”

Satan chuckled softly.

“It cannot be recovered. If they die while fused with their hearts, my powers will vanish along with them.”

“. . .I see.”

Forcibly taking it back is not an option.

Satan’s power cannot be recovered unless it is through a method that fills the gap in their hearts.

“It’s troublesome.”

“That’s right. That’s why I need your cooperation too. No matter how hard I try, I cannot fill their gaps. I am, after all, just. . .a friend.”

“You say that so easily.”

Despite being the most important character in that story as the vessel of Demon King Satan.

he’s right.

He can’t fill the gaps in the hearts of the heroes, who are only friends with Seika.

If it was possible, only the protagonist, Flare, could do it.

As for me. . .it’s impossible.

“Slayer is Flare’s enemy. I can’t fill the gap in their hearts either.”

“Then there’s only one way, right?”

“. . .You can’t be serious.”

“You catch on quickly.”

There was only one method that came to mind.

The only one who could fill the gap in their hearts in this world was the protagonist of the story, Flare.

So the only option was to ally with her.

Chapter 18: Get closer to the hero

Walking on the school grounds,

side by side.

“Could you not get too close to me?”

“Why? You and I are engaged, aren’t we?”

“We’re not engaged.”

“But we’re going to get married in the future, right? Then we’re engaged.”

That’s true, but not really.

I agreed to his proposal to ensure my own safety.

As long as he protects me, I will be his partner.

However, it’s not an absolute decision.

“My safety won’t be perfect unless the other condition is met, right? So, it’s not enough to call it an engagement.”

“Ah, that’s true. If we can’t retrieve it, I have only one option.”

“. . .”

He has a refreshing expression.

His mind is probably pitch black. . .or bright red.

What if he fails?

There’s no need to think about it.

Satan will undoubtedly kill Flare and the heroes.

He already knows the ending he will face.

His end will be destruction.

The way for him to avoid destruction is simple.

He Just needs to kill them before they gain power and unite. . .

I have experienced Satan’s strength firsthand.

Now, he can easily kill them.

He doesn’t do it because there is potential in them.

“How ironic. . .”

The heroes who defeated the Demon King and brought peace.

Now have their lives sustained by the power of the Demon King.

What would they think if they knew this fact?

No, it doesn’t matter.

I just want to live happily.

“I’ll start capturing Flare soon.”

“You’re really fired up. Do you have a plan?”

“Fortunately, luck is on my side.”

“Hmm?”

He probably doesn’t know, but I’ve already met Flare.

It was different from the original. . .in a friendly way.

Let’s talk again.

I recall her smiling face as we parted ways.

Now, I should be able to become friends with her.

“First, we need to become closer. So, don’t interfere.”

“That’s harsh. We’re supposed to be cooperating, right?”

“It’s one-sided, isn’t it?”

“That’s not true. I’ll make sure to guarantee your safety.”

He smiles wryly.

I stare intently at his expression.

“What’s with that face?”

“. . .You don’t seem very Demon King-like right now.”

“Hmm? oh when I get excited like during battles, Satan’s traits become more prominent. In my usual state, Belfist’s personality is more dominant.”

“I see. That makes sense. . .”

“By the way, which one do you prefer?”

He stands in front of me, blocking me

and asking with a mischievous look on his face.

“I don’t like either of them.”

“Wow, that’s harsh! You’re talking to your future husband, you know.”

“He’s someone who could kill me. I can’t like him yet.”

“I see. Then I’ll do my best to make you like me.”

◇◇◇

After parting with Belfist, I wandered around the school building alone.

Of course, I was looking for her.

It’s still the third day.

She should be taking general courses; I am almost certain.

The problem is that she’s clumsy and has no sense of direction.

“I wonder if she’s lost again.”

Using magic to search would be the quickest way, but using magic carelessly in school can result in punishment.

So yesterday, I set up a barrier to avoid being noticed.

That intense battle didn’t reach outside the barrier.

No one knows that I fought against the Demon King.

The school is peaceful today as well.

“Slayer-san!”

“――!”

Whose voice was that just now. . .?

I turn around.

Today, I might be lucky.

I never expected her to find me first

“Good morning!”

“Good morning, Flare-san.”

The person I was looking for runs over and stands next to me.

Thanks to her, I didn’t have to search anymore.

I expressed gratitude in my heart for her finding me.

“We have class now, right? What class are you taking?”

“I haven’t decided yet. How about you?”

“I’m taking a general subject, umm. . .”

“. . .You’re lost, aren’t you?”

“Hehehe. . .”

Flare laughs innocently.

This natural demeanor is one of her charms.

Her smile and words are pure and without malice.

She speaks her mind honestly.

That’s why she sometimes makes mistakes, but she is trusted by those around her.

I also admired her a little while reading the book. . .

“Is something wrong?”

“It’s nothing. If it’s that lecture, it’s this way.”

Once again, I find myself reflecting on the fact that Flare is standing right in front of me.

I guided her to the classroom.

“It’s here.”

“Thank you!”

She thanked me cheerfully.

It was a refreshing thank you, full of goodwill and kindness.

My heart was at ease.

“Um, Slayer-san. . .”

And then, she looked at me expectantly.

“Well, it’s time, so let’s take the class together.”

“Really! Yes!”

Just by taking the same class together, she was so happy.

I felt embarrassed seeing her innocent smile.

At the same time, I felt guilty.

Even though it was for a purpose, she was not at fault.

Using her like that. . .I couldn’t shake off the feeling of guilt.

“Oh! That seat is empty.”

“Yes.”

I sat in the seat next to her.

The problem was how to ask for her cooperation.

I couldn’t just blurt out the truth.

I had to guide her well and have her solve the problems of the heroes.

Just enough to not make her feel any affection. . .

It wasn’t just difficult, it was daunting.

Once again, I had taken on something troublesome.

Chapter 19: It’s ugly

After waiting in the classroom for a while, the class started on time.

General subjects were particularly boring.

While listening to the uninteresting lecture, I glanced at Flare sitting next to me.

She was listening very seriously.

Her serious personality hadn’t changed in this world either.

What should I do to use her?

What should I say?

How much easier would it have been if I could straightforwardly ask for her help?

I let out a small sigh.

“Slayer-san?”

“Yes, what is it?”

“Well, you looked like you were thinking about something difficult.”

“I was just thinking about something.”

It was about you.

“Do you have something troubling you?”

“Yes.”

“If it’s okay with you, could you tell me about it? I want to repay you for helping me.”

“I only helped you by showing you the way.”

“But you helped me. That’s why. . .”

She stared at my face intently.

Her beautiful eyes sparkled. . .and I felt like I was being sucked in just by looking at them.

Her words, filled with pure goodwill, almost made me blurt everything out.

“We’re in the middle of class right now.”

“R-Right. Let’s talk after class!”

“. . .Okay.”

When I talk to her, I feel like I want to confess everything honestly.

She seems like she would be willing to help with any request. . .

It’s an achievement that can only be accomplished by a positive and cheerful protagonist.

She attracts and captivates others unconditionally.

She possesses a natural magic that I could never master in my entire life.

That’s why, surely, she and I. . .will never intersect.

Class is over.

As I walked down the hallway after leaving the classroom, Flare approached me.

“Let’s continue our conversation from earlier!”

“. . .I don’t have any troubles.”

“That’s a lie. Even now, you have a troubled expression on your face.”

“You’re quite perceptive. Considering we just met yesterday.”

It was a mean and sarcastic remark.

She didn’t notice it and answered with a smile.

“I understand. When I’m interested in someone, I tend to stare at them.”

“Interested?”

“Oh, no, I didn’t mean it in a weird way. I just think Slayer-san is beautiful and cool.”

Flare said that while blushing.

Unconsciously praising me.

Hinting at her goodwill.

This, too, is one of the behaviors befitting a protagonist.

If you say things like that, boys will misunderstand, you know.

Even I, as a woman, was a little taken aback.

“So please tell me! Your troubles, Slayer san! I’ll help, I promise!”

“. . .even if you don’t know what it’s about?”

“Whatever it is!”

“. . .”

If it’s her, then really. . .

With a slight hope in my heart.

My mouth moved unconsciously.

“To you——”

“Oh, there you are, Flare.”

The one who interrupted my words was Leone’s.

When I turned around, Leone and Meigen were standing behind me.

“Leone-san! Meigen-san too.”

“Hello, Flare-san.”

“And you are. . .Slayer Raeburn, right?”

My gaze met with Leone’s.

That’s right.

By accompanying her, the chances of encountering them also increase.

They were the destined partners of the protagonist. . .inevitable.

But, it was fortunate timing.

If they were a little later, I might have told her honestly.

“You seem like you want to say something to me.”

“It’s nothing, really.”

“Hmph, I don’t like that attitude, but whatever. I don’t need you, I need her.”

Leone pointed at Flare.

Flare tilted her head in confusion.

“You, come with me for lunch.”

“Lunch? Sure, but if that’s the case, Slayer-san should come too.”

“Didn’t you hear me? I only invited you.”

“I see. . .”

Flare glanced briefly in my direction.

I could see her apologetic expression.

Don’t worry, I’m not bothered by it.

So I’ll just ignore him. . .no, it’s better not to get too close to him.

If his feelings become genuine, we won’t be able to achieve our goal.

What should I do?

“I’m sorry. In that case, I’ll decline.”

“――!”

“What did you say?”

Flare refused.

Surprisingly, she refused the invitation from Leone.

I was surprised, and Leone was clearly annoyed by the rejection.

“I want to have lunch with Slayer-san today.”

“Flare. . .”

Did she choose me instead of Leone?

How do I feel about that?

While I was confused, Leone, who was rejected, frowned his eyebrows.

“Are you planning to reject my invitation?”

“I’m sorry. Maybe tomorrow–”

“Don’t mess with me, you commoner!”

Leone suddenly shouted.

Flare was startled and trembled.

“I’m the one who invited you. Don’t think you can refuse as a commoner! You insolent fool!”

“Le, Leone-san?”

“Leone! Calm down!”

Meigen tried to advise him.

However, his voice did not reach him.

“Just obey me! Commoners should not defy nobles!”

“Ow, it hurts.”

Leone, who was angry, grabbed Flare’s wrist.

It seemed that something had touched his nerve.

I understood the reason for his anger.

This was also a necessary step for them to deepen their relationship. . .

Still, no, precisely because of that.

“Stop it. It’s unsightly.”

I have to intervene and put an end to this.

Chapter 20: Hero and Villain Heroine

“. . .Slayer-san.”

“You. . .”

I grab Leone’s wrist.

We glare at each other, the tension thick in the air.

“Let go.”

“You should be the one letting go.”

“Who are you saying that to?”

“There’s no one else here, is there?”

Neither of us backs down.

Neither of us took a step back.

Although I wanted to forcibly break away, Leone had the upper hand in pure physical strength.

It would be best to let go quietly.

However, he wouldn’t back down.

“You don’t seem to understand your position.”

“The same goes for you. Within this academy, we are equals. . .And outside, we are both nobles, aren’t we?”

“Hmph. Equals? Don’t be foolish. There’s no way a mediocre middle-class noble like you and I are on the same level.”

“. . .It seems like you don’t plan on letting go.”

In that case, there’s nothing I can do.

It hurts a little, but I’ll endure it.

“Bolt.”

“――huh!”

A crackle of electricity ran through his wrist.

Unable to bear it, Leone released his grip on Flare’s arm.

“You. . .”

“It’s your fault for not letting go.”

“. . .Your attitude, your words. . .I still don’t like you. You’re getting too full of yourself just because you can use a bit of magic!”

“Just a little bit? I’m much stronger than you.”

My provocation definitely pissed off Leone.

As proof, his expression clearly changed.

“Fine. Then show me. Duel me, Slayer Raeburn.”

“A. . .duel?”

“Sure.”

“Slayer-san?”

Flare looked at me with a worried expression as I answered immediately.

I whisper to her.

“Don’t worry. I. . .am strong, you know.”

I’ve had an intense battle with the Demon King and all.

Leone grinned.

“It’s decided. Let’s start right away. Follow me.”

“Okay.”

“Wait, Leone!”

“Don’t stop me, Meigen. You have to pay for making a fool of me with your own body.”

Leone shook off Meigen’s attempt to stop him and walked ahead.

Flare and I followed him.

I was the one called out, she should just focus on her classes. . .But I can’t say that in this situation.

Perfect.

If she sees this battle, it will decrease the possibility of her getting close to Leone.

Is that all?

I just stopped Leone because I was annoyed. . .

“We’re here.”

“The training room. Did you get permission?”

“Of course. If it’s me, permission is easy to get.”

“Is that so?”

It doesn’t matter.

“Let’s finish this quickly.”

“That confidence will disappear soon.”

Leone and I stood facing each other at a distance.

Flare and Meigen stood behind us, looking worried.

“The condition for victory is to render the opponent unable to fight or to make them surrender.”

“Okay.”

“A duel is a wager. The loser must obey the winner. Is that acceptable?”

“I don’t mind. After all, I’m going to win.”

“――Don’t regret it.”

Leone’s magical power swelled.

As expected of a noble’s heir, his magical prowess surpasses that of an ordinary person.

But unfortunately, I knew something more than that.

“After seeing that, you look cute.”

“Burn! Burn Strike!”

A magic circle appeared in front of Leone, and a vortex of flames was released toward me.

At the same time as the flames collided, they rose like a tornado.

“Slayer-san!”

“Heh, is that all? Just as I thought, all talk. . .”

“How lukewarm.”

I swung my arm and scattered the flames.

“――!”

“Even fish cannot be cooked with such weak flames.”

I taunted him.

Leone became irritated and activated a new spell with a loud click of his tongue.

“Meteor Strike!”

Countless balls of flames were generated behind him.

They surrounded me and were simultaneously released, hitting the ground.

Explosions and smoke filled the air.

But of course, it didn’t affect me.

I emerged from the smoke unscathed, and Leone was shocked.

“How foolish. . .”

“How pathetic. Real flames are. . .”

I held out my right hand and deployed a magic circle on my palm.

A blaze erupted and formed a shape like a giant sword.

“This is what I mean.”

I swung the sword of flames.

Leone jumped to the side to avoid it.

It was a good decision.

If he had taken it head-on, he would have been burned badly.

“You dodged it well.”

“Tch, don’t underestimate me!”

Leone wrapped himself in flames and charged at me.

As you can see, his specialty is fire magic.

His family has mastered fire magic and passed it down to their descendants.

Leone is undoubtedly powerful.

He has already surpassed the level of a student.

However, he picked the wrong opponent.

“I’m not a mere student.”

“Incredible. . .so cool,” Flare adds.

His flames couldn’t reach me.

They were all extinguished and neutralized.

Leone couldn’t hide his frustration and his attacks became sloppier.

“I’ll end this soon.”

“. . .Don’t make me laugh. There’s no way I, a man, would lose to a woman like you!”

His intense anger amplified his magical power.

The fluctuations in his emotions disrupted his control over his magic.

The more skilled a mage, the better they are at controlling their emotions.

But Leone is still a student.

Despite having the ability, he is still immature.

Because he has great power, his immaturity stands out.

If he uses magic with disrupted control, it will result in an explosion.

“Go away!”

Flames engulfed Leone’s entire body and unleashed into the surrounding area.

He was unconscious.

One of the released flames headed towards Flare.

“Eh――.”

By the time he realized it, it was too late.

The attack hit.

“. . .huh?”

“Really, what a troublesome guy.”

If I hadn’t been protecting her like this.

“Slayer-san!”

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

“No, I’m not. Slayer-san protected me.”

“It was just a coincidence.”

I was also moving unconsciously

.

Whenever I sensed danger, I instinctively protected her.

It’s strange.

It’s like I’m her hero and he’s the villain. . .

“Damn it. Slayer Raeburn. . .”

He glares at me.

However, he doesn’t have the same fighting spirit as before.

He knows it himself.

If I hadn’t intervened, Flare would have been seriously injured.

Just then, the voice of a teacher echoes.

“Hey! What are you doing here?”

“Huh, sensei?”

“Using the training room without permission is prohibited!”

“I knew we didn’t have permission.”

I thought so.

Well, let’s run away before it becomes a big fuss.

I grabbed Flare’s hand.

“Let’s go.”

“Y-Yes!”

“Hey! Wait!”

Ignoring the shouting teacher, I ran away.

I kept running until I couldn’t hear their voices anymore.

We got outside the building and hid in the courtyard.

The teacher didn’t follow us.

“Sigh, what a waste of time.”

“Excuse me, Slayer-san!”

Flare stood in front of me, looking at me with sparkling eyes.

“Thank you so much for helping me!”

“. . .I just happened to be there.”

I shook my head.

“You protected me. . .it was really cool.”

“. . .I see.”

Those kinds of lines should be said to the heroes.

They weren’t words that I should receive.

“Slayer-san, please let me repay you!”

“It’s not necessary.”

“I don’t want to hear that!”

She said that and held my hand.

“You. . .you. . .”

“I want to do it! Not just rely on your help, I want to be of help to Slayer-san! I want to be Slayer-san’s friend!”

“Friend. . .?”

“Yes!”

She tightly grasps my hand.

She looks straight into my eyes and speaks.

“To be honest, I. . .admire Slayer-san.”

“Me?”

She nods.

Looking embarrassed.

“I saw someone like Slayer-san for the first time. Strong, kind, cool, and beautiful.”

I can understand the strong and cool part.

Am I kind?

Being called beautiful by someone other than my parents was also a first.

“So, I’ve always wanted to be friends with you!”

“. . .”

In the original story, Flare learned that Slayer was killed by the Demon king and felt great sadness.

I remembered her lines clearly.

We should have talked more and understood each other.

I wished we could have talked more and understood each other.

If only we could have become friends.

“Would you make me your friend, Slayer-san?”

“. . .”

It was about to come true.

Flare looked at me with a gaze of adoration.

I shouldn’t receive that kind of look.

These are words, which should be directed at one of the heroes. . .I, of all people, shouldn’t be receiving them. . .

“Is it okay for me to be that person?”

“I want it to be you, Slayer-san.”

“I see. . .”

If she says it like that, even if she’s a girl. . .

“Then, starting from today, we’re friends.”

“――Yes!”

I can’t help but feel genuinely happy.

Chapter 21: Water and Oil?

A friend of the protagonist.

They appear in various stories, providing support to the protagonist who is troubled and in distress, or rushing to their aid in times of crisis.

I wonder if it’s okay for me, who was supposed to be an enemy, to stand in the position of a so-called sub-protagonist.

Such doubts were blown away.

When she directed her carefree smile towards me.

“I will be counting on you from now on! Slayer-san!”

“. . .Yes.”

Her hand was warm and gentle.

Unlike mine, her’s was a pretty and pale hand that befitted a girl.

Someone from the heroes’ party was supposed to take this hand first

But I’ve taken on that role.

“Fufu, Slayer-san’s hand is warm.”

“. . .I can’t beat you.”

And so, we became friends.

◇◇◇

It was after school.

Classes were over, and it was time for everyone to go home.

As the sky started to turn orange, I visited the courtyard.

Of course, I wasn’t alone.

She was with me.

I wanted to go to a place where no one else was, to have an important conversation with her.

I couldn’t let anyone else hear it.

“I’m looking forward to our secret talk!”

“It’s not something to be excited about.”

“Well, it’s a problem you’re facing, so I’ll listen carefully!”

She was relentlessly cheerful.

This brightness was her great weapon.

“By the way. . .who is this person?”

“You finally asked.”

We’re going to have a secret talk.

Naturally, it’s not just me and Flare.

There is one more person, who shares the secret. . .He’s here.

“Has he been following us since. . .is he a suspicious person?!”

“How rude of you! What’s suspicious about me?”

“It’s your appearance!”

“You’re too straightforward. . .”

“Fufu.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

This kind of exchange was also in the original work.

Belfist would always make cheerful and elusive remarks while Flare would always retort them.

It stings because there is no ill will.

As I saw this unfold before my eyes, I was reminded of the contents of the book.

“Slayer-san, is it okay to have this person here too?”

“Yes, she’s a collaborator. . .for now.”

“A collaborator. . .”

Flare looked at Belfist with caution.

Belfist coughed once and introduced himself formally.

“I’m Belfist Krone! Her fiancé.”

“F-Fiancé?”

“No, it’s not like that.”

“Oh, I see. That’s a relief.”

Besides me, who denied it easily, Flare seemed to be relieved for some reason.

“Hey, Slayer, that’s not fair! We promised to get married in the future, you know?”

“Really? I didn’t know that.”

“. . .Well, we’ve talked about it.”

It’s more like a contract than a promise.

We accepted each other’s demands to fulfil our wishes.

“But we’re not engaged.”

“It’s almost the same thing.”

“No, it’s not. It’s complicated.”

“It’s your fault for making it complicated.”

“We’re both to blame, aren’t we?”

Flare silently watched our exchange

she seemed somewhat dissatisfied.

“She’s my future bride.”

“For now, he’s just a collaborator.”

Belfist and I didn’t agree on this.

He looks at me and says something like he wants me to call him my future husband.

I ignored it.

“Ugh, this is such a hassle.”

“. . .Slayer-san, I still think this person is dangerous.”

“Yes, I agree.”

“You two are so mean!”

Was it just intuition as the protagonist?

He really is dangerous, after all.

Because he’s the final boss of the story.

“He’s a weirdo, but he’s indeed a collaborator.”

“We may get married in the future.”

“. . .I suppose.”

If he can protect my safety, I have no objections to marrying him.

It’s all necessary for me to survive in this world.

I understood that much.

However, there is someone next to me who clearly disagrees.

“Slayer-san, do you like this person?”

“Not really.”

“You say it so casually. . .”

Well because, it’s the truth.

If I had to choose between liking or disliking him, I’d say I dislike him.

I hope she can appreciate that I didn’t say it outright.

“Well then! I think there’s someone more suitable for Slayer-san!”

She says as she clings to my arm.

As if. . .

“You look like you’re saying that that person is you!”

“――! N-No, that’s not what I meant! As Slayer-san’s friend, I don’t approve of someone like you!”

“I don’t think I need your approval!”

“But it’s about my important friend!”

Their gazes clashed with each other.

The protagonist and the final boss.

Water and oil.

Maybe it was a mistake to bring together two entities that would never mix.

“. . .sigh.”

Will we be able to get along from now on?

All I feel is anxiety.

Chapter 22: Decide the order of attacks

Ten minutes later. . .

“”Stare.””

“. . .Well, can we start soon?”

I was sandwiched between the two who were still glaring at each other.

Since the conversation wasn’t progressing at all, I wanted to forcibly move things forward.

as I was about to open my mouth, Flare stepped back.

“Well, it’s getting late and it could get dangerous.”

“I have no choice. I’ll settle things with you eventually.”

“I look forward to it.”

“. . .sigh. . .”

I let out a sigh multiple times.

It seems that these two fundamentally don’t see eye to eye.

Flare, who usually has a calm personality, became heated, and Belfist’s tone changed midway.

Their argument became heated, proof that Satan’s personality was becoming more prominent.

Since they had already met, the two would continue to be involved with each other in the future.

As long as I’m present, I’ll be careful to ensure that no problems arise.

If things go wrong, it could lead to conflict between the protagonist and the demon king.

If that happens, I will surely be swallowed by the waves of fate.

“Slayer-san! Please tell me your worries.”

“. . .well.”

I hadn’t yet organized my thoughts on how to explain it.

“It’s not a thing to worry about, but there’s something I want your help with.”

“That’s fine!”

“I haven’t even told you the details yet!”

“I’ll help with anything! It’s my way of thanking you for helping me!”

She said that with a smile on her face.

She was enthusiastic.

This was already like getting her cooperation. . .but how do I explain it?

Would it be enough to say that I want her to help fill the gaps in the hearts of the five heroes?

It would be difficult to explain without prior knowledge.

But even if I tell her the truth, would she believe it. . .

I see Flare, her eyes sparkling, waiting for my words.

Somehow, I feel like she might believe me.

But I should say it. . .

“Isn’t it okay to talk about it?”

Belfist said that.

He had returned to his usual behavior, calm and collected.

She’s been very cooperative. I think it’s fine to tell her the circumstances for now.”

“. . .What if something happens?”

“In that case. . .leave it to me.”

He whispered quietly in my ear.

“I can at least erase her memories.”

“. . .I see.”

If that’s the case, it would be easier to just tell her everything instead of worrying about it.

I let out a sigh, more resigned than convinced.

I face Flare and tell her.

The story that I know.

The path that I have walked up until today.

Who I am, who he is, and what burden I’m carrying.

I told her an unbelievable story.

“I am the protagonist. . .and this person is. . .”

“The Demon King.”

“. . .and Slayer-san is. . .”

“Your enemy.”

She looked at each of us, confirming our roles.

It was hard to believe.

She was confused by the sudden strange story.

It’s understandable.

Let’s stop here for today. If she can come to terms with it, we can discuss the next steps.

If she can’t accept it. . .there’s nothing we can do.

It’s Belfist’s turn then.

“I understand!”

“. . .Huh?”

“You understand?”

“Yes! I don’t really understand it, but.”

“Which one is it. . .”

While Belfist was exasperated, I was simply astonished.

The look of confusion disappeared, and she returned to her usual bright and cheerful self.

Even after hearing such a story, her eyes. . .they haven’t changed.

“Do you believe me?”

“Of course! I can somehow tell that Slayer-san isn’t lying.”

“. . .It’s a ridiculous story. I wouldn’t say anything even if you laugh at me.”

“I won’t laugh.”

Flare lowered her eyes.

She slowly opened her mouth, putting her thoughts into words.

“It’s a secret that my friend told me seriously. I won’t laugh or anything.”

“――.”

This is one of her qualities that makes her loved and trusted by many people.

She doesn’t doubt someone’s sincerity.

Even if it’s a ridiculous fantasy, she takes it seriously.

Her boundless kindness attracted the heroes and saved them.

I know that more than anyone else.

“That’s the kind of person you are.”

I ended up laughing.

She is the embodiment of the protagonist in that story.

But that’s why. . .

“You believed the story so suddenly. Are you crazier than you look?”

“I don’t want to be called crazy by a weirdo.”

“. . .”

I was convinced that these two would never get along.

No matter how far they go, they will always be the hero and the final boss.

“Sigh, thank you for believing me.”

“You’re welcome!”

“Well then, I’ll talk assuming you understand.”

“Yes!”

She replied energetically.

I talked about the plan from now on.

Our goal is to recover a part of the Demon King’s power that resides within the heroes.

To do that, we need to fill the gaps in their hearts.

I believe that only Flare, the protagonist, can accomplish that.

“I just need to become friends with everyone and listen to their troubles to solve them, right?”

“That won’t work. If everyone starts liking you, it’s already a failure.”

“Will they really like me? Honestly, I can’t believe that. . .What is it about me that attracted the heroes in the story?”

“This girl. . .”

I could sense the irritation from Belfist, or rather Satan, next to me.

I understood what he wanted to say.

This obliviousness is also one of her characteristics.

She hardly noticed the affection directed at her from the heroes until the latter half of the story.

She was a dense protagonist who didn’t realize it until she was confessed to.

This attribute seems to apply to the girl in front of me as well.

“That’s why I don’t want you to interact with them too much. If you do, you should prioritize quickly resolving their problems rather than deepening their relationships.”

“I see. . .Um, what should I do then?”

“Well, basically, stay with me. It’s easier to control the situation that way.”

“I understand! I’m happy to be with Slayer-san!”

She said that with a beaming smile, holding my hand and shaking it vigorously.

Like a dog delighted to be with its owner.

Am I really this well-liked right now?

It seems like it’s going too far for just a friend’s affection. . .

It’s just my imagination, right?

“Who should we approach?”

Belfist asked.

“Well, I have just the right person in mind.”

Timing-wise, it’s perfect.

If it’s him, I might be able to solve the problem with my power.

That person is. . .

“Leone, let’s approach him.”

Chapter 23: Leone Grates

Leone Grates.

He is one of the five heroes and the legitimate son of the prestigious Grates family.

Born into a family with a proven track record of producing many excellent mages, he also awakened his talent as a mage.

His talent is considered the greatest in the family’s history, and he was expected to do great things.

Therefore, he is a confident person.

His arrogant personality of looking down on others and considering himself superior is somewhat reminiscent of the Demon King.

He has the highest pride amongst the five heroes.

That’s why he’s easy to handle.

“Slayer Raeburn! I’ll settle the score from yesterday!”

“. . .As expected, you came.”

The next morning.

When I headed to school, Leone was waiting for me.

I could tell what he wanted just by looking at his face.

He looked so scary that other students avoided him as they passed by.

“Yesterday, we were interrupted so we couldn’t finish. Today, I’ll show you my true strength.”

“Fine by me. Shall we meet at the same place during lunch?”

“Sure, I don’t mind.”

“Fufu, make sure to get permission this time.”

The duel was accepted.

I passed by him calmly.

Feeling his glare, I pretended not to care.

◇◇◇

“I’ve been challenged to a duel.”

“It’s just as Slayer-san said.”

“That’s why I told you, he’s easy to understand.”

I spoke with Flare during a break between classes.

So far, I have been able to avoid contact with the heroes I was worried about.

Since I have a duel with Leone, there’s no need to worry about them approaching me awkwardly.

Meigen is usually with Leone.

Alma avoids me, and Billy is probably in the library skipping class.

Only Seika is beyond my grasp.

I’ll leave dealing with him to Belfist.

“Can I eat lunch with you?”

“Yes, but remember we have something to do afterwards.”

“Okay!”

“Understood!”

I asked her.

I have already told her about the problem that Leone is facing.

And I have also told her how to solve the problem.

And that her presence is essential.

It’s not just her words, her actual presence matters too.

“You will definitely get hurt.”

“It’s okay! I’m used to being ridiculed.”

“. . .I see.”

Being able to say that is your strength.

I use her.

For my own sake.

The thought of that almost made me waver in my decision.

Time flies by, and it’s finally lunch break.

A long-awaited moment, not just for me, but for him as well.

The stage has been set for him to exact revenge.

“So you came without running away. Let me praise you first.”

“That’s my line.”

I looked around him.

It seems like he’s the only one here.

“Isn’t Meigen with you?”

“Hmph, I left him behind because he’s always nagging.”

“I see.”

Even though I said that, deep down, I’m hoping to avoid getting caught up in another battle like yesterday. . .

I know that Leone values Meigen as a friend.

And considering the developments that will happen later, it’s more convenient to have him alone.

I came to terms with it myself and asked Leone.

“Can we stick with the same rules as yesterday?”

“Yeah, but you have to leave the area.”

Leone warns Flare.

Surprisingly, he’s kind to her too.

But that’s just like him.

“It’s okay. I can protect myself.”

She says that and activates her own light barrier.

“. . .I see. Then I won’t say anything more. Shall we begin?”

“Yes.”

Leone’s hostility is directed towards me.

He’s calmer and sharper than yesterday.

He’s focused.

He clearly recognizes me as his enemy.

“Let’s go! Flame Lance!”

A spear made by compressing flames behind him floats.

There were twelve of them.

Sharp attacks were launched towards me.

I neutralized them with the same power as yesterday.

But then, another spear of flames flies towards me from behind the explosion.

I dodged it instinctively.

“Oh, I see. . .”

The initial attack was a decoy, and the real one was the attack after the explosion, obstructing my vision.

He’s putting effort into finding ways to defeat me.

It’s clearly different from yesterday.

But that doesn’t matter.

“You seem to be trying your best, but it’s futile.”

Sorry, but today I’ll overwhelm you.

I’ll show you.

“Burn Fist.”

A fist of compressed flames.

The fist moved in sync with my movements.

When I swing my fist, the fiery fist also strikes the target.

“Flame Wall!”

Leone defends with a wall of flames.

But it easily breaks through.

Even though it’s the same fire magic, my skill and density are superior.

“Guuh!”

He gets blown away by the attack.

Without giving him a moment to recover, I continued my attack

“Aqua Launcher.”

This time, I unleashed a barrage of water projectiles.

Leone rolls and evades them.

Realizing that defense is impossible, he looked for an opportunity to counterattack from his evasive position.

However, of course, I didn’t give him such an opportunity.

“Light Spark.”

“Gu, ah!”

A discharge runs through the wet flowing from Leone’s feet.

His numb body trembles and falls.

“Hmph, not yet. . .”

“Stone Edge.”

“Gah!”

As he tried to stand up, I followed up by deforming the ground and thrusting it upward.

He jumped up dramatically and then tumbled down.

I showed no mercy.

I approached him as he was coughing and struggling on the ground, looking down at him..

“You can’t beat me.”

I made the difference in power between me and him clear.

Chapter 24: Why We Need Strength

“Ugh, I’m still. . .”

“You’ve lost. If we continue, it could cost you your life.”

“I know. . .that.”

Despite being beaten up, he stands up.

He pulls himself up to his feet with all his strength, as if something is pulling him back.

“I can’t afford to lose. Not to anyone. . .Not to anything. . .”

“I’m amazed. I’ll give you credit for that spirit. But. . .”

I lightly pushed his forehead as he stood up.

“It’s over.”

“Ugh. . .”

He fell backwards, powerless.

“Flare! Can I heal him?”

“Yes.”

Flare rushed over to heal Leone’s wounds.

“Don’t bother. It’s unnecessary.”

He denied her help.

But Flare remained unfazed.

“No, you must. You’re covered in wounds, so please stay still.”

“You. . .”

“I’m not afraid even if you threaten me.”

“. . .damn it, you’re just a commoner.”

“Yes, I’m a commoner. But. . .right now, we’re comrades in the same academy.”

“Comrades. . .”

Leone opened his eyes wide in surprise.

He must have been surprised that Flare considered him a comrade.

He knows that he said something cruel to her.

So he must have thought that she hated him.

Would he understand, that too can be a form of strength?

Well, while she is healing his wounds,I’ll attend to my own business.

“Leone, why do you seek strength?”

“What?”

“A question. You stood up without fear of being hurt. . .why?”

“It’s obvious. Because I. . .am a proud member of the Grates family.”

He declared it firmly.

I knew that from the beginning.

I snorted.

“How pathethic.”

“What did you say?”

“Strength gained through pride and honor is nothing special. With that mindset, you’ll never truly become strong.”

“You. . .!”

“You can’t become strong? Like your father.”

“――!”

Leone was so surprised that he involuntarily sat up.

Flare, who was treating him, was surprised and stepped back.

“. . .Why bring up my father’s name?”

“If you want to know, then guide us to your father’s place.”

“What do you mean? Why do I need to do that?”

“So you can realize your true strength.”

I know I’m being indirect.

But I can’t say any more than this.

It’s not my place to speak.

Leone and I continue to stare at each other.

“You don’t have the right to refuse. The loser follows the winner. That’s the promise, right? Don’t make excuses, guide us to your father’s place.”

“. . .Fine. I’ll go along with your plan. But. . .don’t regret it.”

He says the same thing he said before the fight.

However, I understand that the meaning is different and that the words are not directed at me.

◇◇◇

After school.

We were invited to Leone’s mansion.

It was a bit forceful, but we achieved our goal.

Things were going smoothly for now.

“Here it is.”

“Woah, it’s huge. . .”

Flare’s mouth hung open in astonishment as she looked at the Grates family mansion.

It was a familiar sight to us, who were born into nobility, but for her, a commoner, it might feel like a different world.

“Does Leone-kun live here?”

“That’s right. By the way. . .who’s that guy over there?”

“Is this a common occurrence?”

“You just don’t leave a strong impression.”

Flare is as sharp-tongued as ever with Belfist.

He is also accompanying us to Leone’s mansion.

The reason, of course, is to recover a part of his power.

According to him, he had to be as close as possible when it gets released.

“Nice to meet you, Leone-kun. I’m Belfist Krone. Her fianc――.”

” just an acquaintance.”

Flare interrupted him.

The two of them leaned in closer, glaring at each other.

It was strange how they seemed to get along well when seen like this.

“Well, that’s fine. It shouldn’t be a problem if you’re a noble.”

“That’s good to hear. By the way, do we have to be nobles?”

“Of course. Even one person is enough, but bringing two commoners will anger my father.”

Leone showed a dark expression.

The reason was clear without being said.

His father, Inga Grates, was famous for disliking commoners.

We were guided inside the mansion and arrived at the room where the head of the family was.

It was a little refreshing to see him, who was arrogant at school, trying to behave politely and be mindful of his appearance.

Knock, knock, knock. We knocked on the door.

“Father, it’s Leone.”

“――Come in.”

With permission, we entered the room.

“Excuse me, Father.”

“What do you want? Leone――!”

Inga noticed our presence.

He was a little surprised, but he smiled quietly.

“How unusual. You brought a friend other than Meigen. . .”

“I’m sorry to bother you when you’re busy.”

“It’s fine. So, what do you want?”

“Well, you see. . .”

Leone looked troubled.

He didn’t know the reason.

So, it was my turn from here on.

“I’m the one who has business with you, Duke Inga.”

“And you are. . .”

“I am Slayer Raeburn.”

“The daughter of the Raeburn family. It’s my first time meeting you. What is your business with me?”

“I have something I would like to ask you. But before that. . .”

I deliberately turned my gaze to the two of them.

“Let me introduce my other friends.”

“Shall I go first? Nice to meet you. I’m Belfist Krone.”

He introduced himself with a practiced attitude and tone.

As expected of a noble, he was used to it.

And the other one.

“Um, I’m Flare! Nice to meet you!”

When he heard her self-introduction, Duke Inga frowned.

“What is your family name?”

“Um, I don’t have one.”

She didn’t have a family name.

In other words, it was proof that she was a commoner.

Duke Inga’s expression visibly changes.

They became sharp and cold.

“Leone, what are you trying to do? Why did you bring a commoner?”

“I’m sorry.”

Leone looked timid and intimidated.

His father’s presence was clearly important to him.

The person he is now was undenaibly shaped by his father.

“That’s where I come in. What I want to know is. . .”

“What is it?”

“I apologize for being rude. Duke Inga, why do you. . .hate commoners so much?”

――!”

Chapter 25: Thank you for everything

The atmosphere froze in an instant.

I crossed a line I shouldn’t have.

It felt like I was stepping into a room with a sign that said “Do not enter” with my shoes on.

But I understood.

What did this question mean to him?

How will I be perceived?

“Slayer Raeburn. What is your intention behind that question?”

“I have no intention. I’m just. . .curious.”

“You. . .are you teasing me?”

“I’m not. I just want to know.”

My words provoked Duke Inga.

I was becoming more and more disliked by him.

But that’s okay.

I’ll squeeze it out.

His true feelings. . .I won’t hesitate to be disliked if it means finding them.

“Duke Inga, it’s well-known that you despise commoners. It goes beyond mere dislike, doesn’t it? Perhaps there’s something in the past that fuels your hatred.”

“. . .What are you trying to say? What do you know?”

“I don’t know anything. That’s why I want to know. . .but I’m sure he wants to know more than I do.”

As I spoke, my gaze fell on. . .

“Is that not right, Leone?”

“――!”

I know what’s in his heart.

It’s like cheating, but I’ll use the information I have to my advantage.

“Hmph, how foolish. It’s obvious. We are proud nobles. From the moment we are born, everything is different between commoners and nobles! Our Status, power, and even the future. . .It is unpleasant to be treated as equals, and what’s wrong with that?”

“It’s not strange. However, your hostility is not normal. Even now. . .you can’t hide it, can you?”

It wasn’t directed towards me.

Since he noticed, he has been openly hostile towards Flare.

Hostility is not something that can be taken lightly.

That was murderous intent.

I brought her here knowing that this would happen, but I still feel guilty.

Flare was trembling in fear.

“It’s okay.”

I say so and force a smile.

Let’s get to the conclusion.

“Is it really your pride as a noble? It shouldn’t be. You’re hiding something. Something you haven’t even told your son, Leone.”

“Who are you. . .? Do you know. . .?”

With that one word, it was confirmed that he was hiding something.

From here on, it’s simple.

“Well, if it’s okay to just speculate, shall I tell you?”

“. . .”

Duke Inga glared at me.

I didn’t look away.

I smirked confidently and continued to stare at him as if threatening him.

And finally. . .

“Sigh, fine.”

He gave in.

From here on, it’s just a matter of confirming the answer.

I had to become a listener.

“Leone, your mother. . .was killed by a commoner.”

“――Hey, Father. . .is that true?”

“It is. I told you it was an accident, but. . .the truth is different.”

He spoke.

Inga’s wife and Leone’s mother.

Mystia Grates was a skilled user of healing magic.

Her power was recognized, and she went to various battlefields, saving the lives of many people.

She was too kind.

That’s why she was betrayed.

A group of commoners who had rebelled against the kingdom were annihilated, and the survivors surrendered.

She healed them.

Correcting their mistakes, she wanted them to live rightly from then on.

However, as soon as their wounds healed, they went on a rampage and massacred those who were there.

Including her. . .she was violated and killed.

“That’s. . .why. . .”

It seems Leone also understood.

Why his father hated commoners so much.

“I’ve always. . .wondered. father. . .never talked about my mother. I thought it was something I shouldn’t ask about. . .so I kept quiet.”

“. . .At that time, you were still a child. So I didn’t tell you.”

“Father. . .”

“You should understand now. Commoners are nothing but trash in society. Just by existing, they are guilty and no one should be involved with them.”

His hatred for commoners was deep and dark.

No matter what words were said, he would never forgive them.

But that’s why she spoke up.

“――You loved your wife so much, didn’t you?”

In a gentle voice, as if to heal his wounded heart.

The protagonist, Flare, spoke.

“What do you know? You, a commoner.”

“Commoners also have parents. I also have a beloved father and mother. . .If something were to happen to them. . .I would be sad. But because they are alive, I can’t say I understand. I just. . .understand the feeling of love.”

While saying that, she spoke to Leone.

“Leone-san, you feel the same way, right?”

“. . .Ah, I see.”

The tension in his body slowly dissipated.

It was as if ice was slowly melting under the warm sunlight.

“Now, I understand. Why Father is so strong. . .”

For a moment, he looked at me.

He seemed like he wanted to say something, but I averted my gaze.

It wasn’t me he should be telling, but his father.

I give him the space to do so.

“Father was trying to protect me.”

“Leone. . .”

“I. . .didn’t realize that. I wanted to be strong like my father. . .but I didn’t have a reason to seek strength.”

The problems he was carrying.

To learn the truth about his deceased mother and to understand the meaning of strength.

He didn’t know anything important.

without being informed, He was seeking power vaguely.

That created a gap.

Therefore, it was simple.

He just needed to learn the truth.

The truth and the overwhelming emotions of his father.

If he does that. . .he should feel fulfilled.

“――They’ve come.”

Belfist muttered softly.

He saw something I couldn’t see.

Perhaps, a part of his power was released.

“Thank you, Father. You’ve protected me even in place of Mother

“. . .”

“But, I’m okay now. I’m not a child anymore. I won’t forget Father’s teachings. With that in mind, I’ll think for myself. What’s right and what’s wrong.”

“I see.”

The gaps in one’s heart can be born from trivial things.

On the other hand, they can also be filled with a small trigger.

It’s a simple but difficult problem.

“Thank you.”

“. . .There’s no need to thank me. It’s natural for a parent to worry about their child.”

The hatred within him will never disappear.

However, even so. . .he is not a bad person.

He was just a father who lost his wife and desperately tried to protect his remaining son.

Chapter 26: Decline, no

“Allow me to express my gratitude.”

“Oh? How unexpected. I didn’t think I would receive thanks from you.”

I showed a mischievous smile.

Then, Leone let out a small sigh and said,

“I struggled with it, but I should express my gratitude after all. Thanks to your actions, I was able to face my father. I also learned about my mother, who had been a mystery for years. I am grateful.”

He stood straight in front of me and bowed slowly.

His polite manners and arrogant attitude disappeared.

“I don’t need your thanks. I did it for my own purpose.”

“. . .Your purpose, huh.”

He slowly raised his head and looked at me.

He was puzzled and doubtful.

“In the end, why did you provoke my father?”

“I have no intention of telling you.”

“I thought as much. I asked, knowing that.”

He laughed as he said that.

It was a refreshing smile as if a burden had been lifted.

The smile he showed when he grew up as a man and became connected with Flare must have been beautiful, just like the smile I see now.

“I can’t say I’m not interested, but. . .right now, I want to find out what my reason for fighting is. I want to find it quickly.”

To become strong for something.

There must be a suitable reason for strength.

It’s not about pride or showing off.

But more than that the desire for strength to protect something important is stronger.

Humans continue to reach out.

To catch up with an unattainable ideal.

Everyone is like that.

I am also. . .aiming for a future beyond the ending.

“Flare, I want to thank you too.”

“I haven’t done anything, have I?”

“No, you told Father, didn’t you? That I cherish Mother. . .Without those words, I might not have understood Father’s true intentions. I’m grateful.”

“Hahaha, I’m glad I could be of help.”

Flare happily laughed.

Leone, who expressed his gratitude, looked a little apologetic.

The reason for that was clear.

“I’m sorry. Honestly, I still. . .can’t bring myself to like commoners.”

“I understand. It’s not easy to accept Okaa-san’s situation right away, is it?”

“. . .Yeah.”

His father, Inga, will continue to hold a grudge against commoners from now on.

No matter what words Flare or I say, they won’t truly reach his heart.

If anything can change it. . .it’s only Leone, his flesh and blood.

But even he won’t be able to forgive commoners.

Especially now, right after learning the truth.

Because they were an important existence. . .

“But I’m not a child either. It’s not because I’m a commoner, but because bad people happened to be commoners. . .I understand that. So. . .I’ll apologize properly someday.”

“It’s okay for me. You haven’t done anything wrong to me.”

“No. . .I see.”

Leone regretted the terrible insults he had spat out.

and Flare seemed unconcerned, as if it didn’t bother her.

Leone laughed in amazement.

“Please take care of me from now on, Flare.”

“Yes! Same to you.”

Their relationship deepened.

However, it didn’t develop into a romantic relationship.

It remained at the level of becoming friends because of my involvement.

Things were going smoothly.

“And then. . .”

Lioness turned his gaze to the man walking behind me and Flare..

Belfist was also present during the conversation with his father.

Flare and I played our respective roles, and he. . .

“No, you didn’t do anything.”

“Yeah, I was just watching.”

He didn’t do anything.

Rather, there was no need for him to do anything.

His role was not to intervene in the conversation.

He was just there at the scene.

Leone, too, seems to have no gratitude for the man who was just there with us.

“Why was this man with us. . .that’s the biggest question. . .”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it. Just think of me as a moving wall.”

“That’s an interesting way to put it! But if you’re a wall, you shouldn’t talk, right?”

Flare teased with a smile.

Belfist and Flare pressed their faces together, staring each other down.

Leone looked puzzled, sensing the tension between them.

“Hey, is that okay?”

“Just leave them alone. It’s always like this.”

“I see. . .”

Leone exhaled softly.

“Slayer, you owe me a big favor. If you ever need my help, don’t hesitate to ask.”

“Is that so? Then can I ask you for a favor right away?”

“What is it?”

I grin.

I whispered to Leone, making a request.

Leone showed a surprised expression and moved away from me.

“What is it?”

“I refuse!”

He clearly refused.

“Well, I want to say that, but I have lost to you. The loser must follow the winner.”

“That’s right. I have no right to refuse.”

“Hmph, fine. I’ll accept your request. I have some doubts, but you know something that I don’t. There must be a reason for it, right?”

“Yes, there is.”

Leone grinned.

With this, I was able to lay the groundwork for the next step.

“May I ask you for one more thing?”

“What is it?”

“If I can find a reason to become stronger in the future. . .will you fight me again?”

“. . .Sure. After all, I was the one who provoked you.”

And so, Leone’s problem was solved.

Chapter 27: Next Target

The next day.

Flare, Belfist, and I gathered in the courtyard at lunchtime.

We discussed while eating the lunch we had prepared.

“So, how did it go in the end?”

“Did you manage to recover everything?”

“Of course. Part of the power has returned here.”

Belfist patted his chest.

With yesterday’s incident, Leone’s problem was resolved, and the power of the Demon King that was residing in him was recovered.

Flare and I couldn’t see the transfer of power.

We couldn’t be sure if the problem was truly resolved or if the void in his heart had been filled.

Only he, the Demon King himself, can confirm the truth.

For now, let’s be relieved that we succeeded.

“But I was surprised. It was so easy to recover it.”

“It looked easy because I knew the answer.”

I replied, knowing what they were struggling with and what burdens they carried.

I was well acquainted with the story, having touched upon it many times and reread it.

I also know how they resolved it.

If you know the answer to the problem and the path that leads you there, you can simply emulate it.

“In reality, it’s usually much more difficult. People don’t easily share their troubles with others. They have to earn trust and credibility before someone opens up. Then, they must think about how to solve the problem.”

If I didn’t know anything, we wouldn’t have been able to resolve it so easily.

What I’m doing is cheating.

I’m just solving the problem while looking at the answer.

There is no struggle to find the problem or to think about it.

They faced the problem and solved it with the proper struggle. . .

“Flare you’re amazing.”

“Huh? I didn’t do anything, though?”

Flare, who had been stuffing her face with food, turned around with a puzzled expression.

Her dumbfounded expression was cute, befitting of a protagonist.

“The one who worked hard was the me in the story, right?”

“Yes.”

From my perspective, both of them are the same Flare.

If I didn’t do anything, she would have solved the problem in this world too, I’m sure of it.

She had the ability to make me think that way.

Even the words she conveyed to Inga were not something I asked for.

All I asked of her was to be there in that moment.

What came out of my mouth was an improvisation.

At that moment, I was reminded that she was the protagonist.

I’m glad I’m on her side.

“By the way, who makes Slayer-san’s bento?”

“The servants. I can make it myself, but for now I’m a young lady.”

In the past, I used to sneak into the kitchen during my training and make light snacks.

My experience as a village girl is still useful.

I can make simple dishes too.

“Oh, then can you make one for me next time?”

“No way.”

“Instant rejection! Well, I expected that.”

Bellfist puts a piece of bread in his mouth.

The three of us brought our own bentos.

We’ll be having strategy meetings during lunch breaks.

Scenes like this will continue to happen

“Flare, do you make your own bento?”

“Yes! I may not look like it, but I’m good at cooking!”

“I know.”

It’s one of Flare’s special skills.

Being able to cook dishes that rival those of the mansion’s chef is also part of her charm.

“If you’d like, shall I make a bento for Slayer-san too?”

“Yes, that would be nice. I’ll ask for it next time.”

“Yay! I’ll do my best!”

“Hehe, you’re so happy about it.”

Even though it’s me who will be receiving the bento.

“Oh, there’s no bento for Bell-san.”

“I haven’t said anything yet.”

Flare teased him playfully.

Somehow, she started calling him by a nickname without realizing it. Are we managing to get along well. . .maybe?

“Bell, huh?”

“Is it okay for you to call me that too?”

“. . .Sure. Belfist is hard to say.”

“I wish you wouldn’t complain about people’s names. . .”

We had a trivial conversation and finished lunch.

The remaining time was for discussion.

“What are we going to do next, Slayer?”

“I’ve already decided. Our next target is. . .Meigen.”

Meigen Tolomir.

He was Leone’s best friend and also one of the heroes.

I had my sights set on him as the next target.

“Should I ask for the reason?”

“It’s simple. He’s Leone’s best friend.”

I continued to explain.

With Leone’s problem solved, he would inevitably undergo some changes.

Those changes would also affect his closest friends.

Especially in Meigen’s case, it would be particularly noticeable.

If we put it off, Meigen would surely notice Leone’s changes and he himself might change as well.

“I want to resolve it before those changes occur. I don’t want unnecessary complications.”

“I see, I understand!”

“What kind of troubles does Meigen-san have?”

Flare asked me.

She is the only one here who doesn’t know.

“That’s also related to Leone.”

“To Leone-san?”

I told her about the problem that Meigen was facing.

It was simpler and easier to understand than Leone’s problem.

This time, I believe we can proceed more smoothly.

Because we have obtained Leone’s cooperation.

Chapter 28: Meigen Tolomir

The next morning, we stumbled upon a scene.

Leone and Meigen were facing each other.

“Meigen, why are you so pathetic?”

“Huh. . .Leone?”

Leone looked at Meigen with a serious expression, while Meigen looked puzzled.

We hid and watched their conversation.

“Are you really okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“It’s getting incredibly tense.”

“That’s fine.”

They were facing each other in the familiar courtyard.

We watched them from behind the bushes.

While anxiously watching their interaction, Flare repeatedly expressed her concerns.

Meanwhile, their conversation continued.

“W-What’s wrong all of a sudden? Leone, did I do something? If I did, I’m sorry, I apologize.”

“. . .sigh.”

Leone let out a big sigh in response to Meigen’s apology.

Leone’s eyes were still cold.

“That’s who you are, Meigen.”

“Huh?”

“Meigen, what are you to me?”

“W-What do you mean. . .I’m just me?”

“No, that’s not it. I’m asking you what you mean to me.”

Meigen tilted his head in confusion at Leone’s question.

“Aren’t we just friends?”

“Friends. . .huh.”

Leone laughed recklessly.

Meigen flinched at his smile.

“Leone?”

“Don’t make me laugh.”

And then, Leone looked down at him again.

It wasn’t about their height difference.

It was about his attitude, gaze, and tone of voice, as if he were speaking to a commoner from his past.

“A commoner born noble with no clear role or mission, just attending school as told. . .there are plenty of guys like that. Meigen.”

Leone points.

At Meigen’s face.

“You’re one of them.”

“What are you talking about. . .”

“You’re friends with that kind of guy? Don’t make a fool out of me.”

“Well, um. . .”

Leone sighs at Meigen’s confusion.

“Don’t you get it yet? Then let me be clear.”

“. . .”

“I don’t consider you a friend.”

“――!”

Leone said it clearly, without any pretense, directly to Megan.

Those harsh words. . .

We watched it all unfold.

“Is it really okay?”

“It’s fine. It’s what I asked for.”

“Slayer-san?”

“. . .It’s necessary. For him. . .to confront Leone.”

I had already explained the situation

about the problems that Meigen was facing to Flare.

But it’s understandable that she still feels anxious.

After all, the scene was too shocking.

“Le-o. . .Ne?”

“what, Meigen.”

“W-Wait a minute!”

Meigen stopped Leone from leaving.

Leone stopped abruptly, but he still had his back turned.

“I don’t understand! You can’t just say something like that out of nowhere and expect me to accept it!”

“There’s no need for understanding. It’s a fact.”

“Then why didn’t you tell me before? Were you pretending to be my friend all this time?”

“That’s not. . .no.”

Leone was about to say something, but swallowed it.

That’s fine.

If he said those words, this conversation would go back to square one.

He endured it and slowly turned around.

“Do you still want to be friends?”

“Well, of course. I――.”

“Then prove it.”

Leone snaps his fingers.

It’s the signal we had agreed upon.

I immediately activated the isolation barrier, covering a corner of the courtyard.

“T-This. . .”

“Meigen, prove that you’re worthy of being my friend. Fight me here and now.”

“W-What, fight. . .with you?”

“That’s right.”

Leone psyched himself up, punched his own fist.

He’s already prepared to fight.

But his opponent was still confused.

“I don’t understand. What’s wrong. . .”

“I already gave you the reason. Prove it. . .You should know that I value strength. So it should be obvious, right? Show me your power.”

“Leone. . .You’ve been acting strange since earlier. Even this barrier――.”

“Meigen!”

He shouted,

calling his friend’s name.

Meigen trembled and covered his mouth.

“Just tell me what you want.”

“I. . .”

“Fight or don’t fight.”

“Fine. . .I understand.”

Meigen’s expression finally changed.

While still uncertain and confused, he looked straight at Leone with a firm determination.

“I’ll fight with you.”

“. . .I see.”

Leone’s mouth seemed to loosen slightly.

He must be pleased.

I can tell.

But he suppressed that emotion and faced Meigen.

“Come on, Meigen.”

“Okay!”

The two began to fight.

And then――

It was over.

“Ugh. . .k. . .”

“. . .Meigen.”

The defeated one fell to the ground, while the winner looked down upon him.

Leone looked down at the battered Meigen with a sad expression.

“You. . .are weak.”

“. . .”

The fight lasted only about five minutes.

The outcome was decided in an instant.

As evidenced by how unscathed Leone was, it was a one-sided fight, barely even worthy of being called a fight.

Meigen couldn’t do anything.

He wasn’t allowed to do anything.

The difference between them was so apparent.

“To think a man like you was my friend. . .I was mistaken after all.”

“Leone. . .”

“It’s over, Meigen.”

Leone turned his back on the fallen Meigen and left.

The isolation barrier had disappeared without Meigen noticing.

Megan could only watch him leave.

Was it because he couldn’t stand up due to the pain?

No, it must be something else.

“Damn it. . .”

He was frustrated and couldn’t stand up.

He shed tears.

He tasted the bitterness of defeat and couldn’t bear the pain.

In that state, I approached him.

“How pathetic, Meigen Tolomir.”

“You. . .are. . .”

I look down on him.

From the same position as Leone, with the same eyes.

“Slayer. . .san?”

Now, this is where my role begins.

Chapter 29: Conflict and Special Training

Meigen looked up at me with a pitiful face.

Even though he had been beaten down, his face was a mess with tears.

I felt sorry for him, but I hardened my heart.

“Why are you. . .here?”

“I often come to the courtyard. It’s a place where I can be alone and calm down.”

“I see. . .that’s all.”

“Well, then someone started a fight and it was annoying.”

“. . .”

Meigen lowered his head.

Very close to the ground.

With a little less effort, his face would be covered in dirt.

“You. . .were watching.”

“I was shown it. It’s embarrassing to be told that I was peeping.”

“I see. . .I’m sorry.”

From the bushes, it felt like someone, probably Belfist, would interject, saying it’s true that they were peeping.

Hmm. . .i also wonder if Bel-san is silently telling Flare to be quiet?

Unfortunately, their voices were too low for me to hear.

Of course, Meigen, who is lying down, can’t hear them either.

“How long do you plan on lying there? It’s not like your injuries are severe enough to keep you from getting up.”

“. . .But my body won’t respond.”

“Sigh, you’re really pathetic. I can understand why Leone gave up on you.”

“――!”

Meigen reacted slightly.

Still with his face down.

I spat out words, deliberately provoking him.

“I don’t want to keep such a weak and pitiful person by my side.”

“. . .”

“Don’t worry. With you being such a wimp. . .it’ll be easy to kill Leone.”

“――What!”

Finally, he lifted his face.

He showed a look of shock and confusion, looking up at me.

“Kill Leone. . .?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Why. . .what are you saying?”

“Do I need to explain the reasons to an outsider like you?”

Rejected by Leone, he was no longer a friend.

He was an outsider to both of us.

He was not in a position to interfere in our problem.

That’s what I wanted him to believe.

But I’m confident.

Confident that he will stand up here.

“. . .I won’t let you.”

He put his hands on the ground, extended his elbows, and pushed his upper body up.

On his knees, then on his feet, he slowly stood up.

Without brushing off his muddy clothes, he faced me directly.

“I won’t let you kill him.”

“. . .why? You’re no longer anything to him, are you? You’ve been abandoned.”

“Even so. . .I don’t want him to die.”

He gritted his teeth.

Meigen Tolomir.

For him, Leone was not just a friend.

Leone was his. . .

“He is. . .my idol.”

Idol.

Yes, Meigen idolized Leone.

With his dignified demeanor and exceptional strength among the students, he

possessed everything that I lacked.

I admired him and wished to become like him, standing beside him made me

realize the difference between us.

In the end. . .the problem that Meigen had was inferiority complex.

“I won’t let you kill him. I will. . .”

“Heh, don’t make me laugh.”

I lightly flicked his forehead.

Even though I didn’t hit him that hard, he flew and collided with a tree.

“Guu. . .”

“If you’re this weak, how do you plan on protecting anyone?”

“. . .I’ll be by his side. . .”

“Leone wouldn’t have someone as weak as you by his side.”

I turned my back to him.

I showed a sign of leaving, but stopped.

“What are you going to do? Just cry and bow your head?”

“. . .”

“While you’re doing that, I’ll kill Leone.”

“I-I’ll stop you.”

I heard his determined words and chuckled softly.

Then, when I turned around, Meigen was glaring at me.

Trembling all over.

I smiled fearlessly.

Like a villainess.

“Fine. Then. . .try to stop me.”

“Uwaaaaaaaah!”

◇◇◇

At the same time the two began to fight, Belfist deployed an isolation barrier.

It wasn’t just any isolation barrier, it distorted the concept of time.

There was a time difference between inside and outside the barrier, and the sense of time inside the barrier was distorted.

One hour outside was about one day inside the barrier.

However, those trapped within the barrier wouldn’t be able to perceive that a day had passed.

They experience time inside the barrier as if it were only an hour.

It was a complicated barrier.

He was able to do this because he was the vessel of the Demon King.

“Well, now that we’re done, let’s go back.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Don’t worry. The barrier has a time limit, so it will automatically disappear after seven hours have passed in the outside world. It doesn’t matter if I’m not there.”

“I’m not talking about Bel-san, it’s Slayer-san.”

“I’m not worried about you.”

Flare said coldly to Belfist.

Belfist chuckled.

from Flare’s line of sight, Slayer was fighting against Meigen.

“Leave her alone. . .Is she going to be okay?”

“Don’t worry, she’s strong.”

“But. . .pretending to be a villain. . .it must be hard for her.”

“. . .That’s exactly what she wants. She’s acting while fully understanding it. She’s much stronger than we think.”

As they watched Slayer battling ahead, playing the role of a villain and

sacrificing herself for her goal, Flare felt frustrated that she could only watch.

“Let’s go. We’ll just get in the way if we stay here.”

“. . .You’re right.”

Clutching her hand tightly over her chest, wishing she had the strength to fight as well, she walks away..

Chapter 30: As a friend

Is it even fair to call this a battle?

“What’s wrong? Are you tired already?”

“Not yet. . .not yet!”

I continued to easily dodge Meigen’s desperate attacks.

Has it been about an hour now?

According to Belfist, this barrier disrupts the sense of time.

One hour outside is equivalent to one day inside the barrier.

I had spent a whole day just dodging attacks.

“Haa. . .haa. . .”

Meigen was already battered and bruised.

Partly because he had just been beaten up by Leone. . .

He was completely inexperienced in battle.

He had no idea how to use magic in actual combat.

“It’s truly disappointing.”

I knew that Meigen wasn’t strong.

It was also depicted that way in the original work.

But I didn’t think he was this inexperienced in battle.

This won’t do.

“Well, it can’t be helped.”

I held out my right hand to Meigen.

“Return.”

“――! My body suddenly feels lighter. . .what did you do?”

“I didn’t heal you. I just temporarily turned back time. You’ll feel the fatigue all at once later.”

“That’s not it! Why did you do that to my body?”

I came up with a suitable excuse for Meigen’s doubts and said it with a villainous tone.

As evil as possible.

“Heh, you’re too weak and boring. At least make it more fun for me.”

“. . .You’ll regret it.”

“Save those words until you become stronger.”

We resumed the battle.

With his body restored, his movements improved slightly.

But it was still completely insufficient.

He can’t beat Leone like this.

I will train him to be able to win..

In this limited time, I will fight him and give him combat experience.

And then. . .

Seven hours have passed since the start of the battle.

The designated time limit set by Belfist has been reached, and the isolation barrier began to collapse.

“. . .huff. . .huff. . .”

“Phew.”

I was also tired and my breathing was becoming irregular.

Seven hours. . .Inside the barrier, it was a week of continuous fighting, so it’s inevitable.

But it yielded results.

“I’m tired. I’m bored now.”

“Well, wait!”

“Don’t worry. I won’t do anything today. I’m tired from playing with you. . .yes Maybe we’ll go and kill someone tomorrow night.”

I turned my back to Meigen.

Megan’s body was exhausted from a week’s worth of fatigue.

In addition, I rewound time multiple times, and the accumulated fatigue was overwhelming him all at once.

He should be at his limit even by just standing.

“If you want to stop me, do as you please. but It’s only if he recognizes you as his. . .bodyguard.”

“Wait. . .”

At the limit of his fatigue, he collapsed to his knees.

He looked at me with his closed eyes.

“You. . .really. . .”

He falls forward, unable to say anything more, and his voice becomes inaudible.

If I leave him in this state, he won’t wake up until morning.

“I’ll treat him.”

“. . .So you did wait for me after all.”

Flare popped her head out from behind the bushes.

Even though I told her she could go home, she waited until the end.

Somehow, I had a feeling it would happen.

“I’m counting on you. He has to do his best tomorrow.”

“Yes, you’re right. Slayer-san, please rest properly.”

“Yes, I will. . .rest. . .”

Fatigue overwhelmed me.

My consciousness. . .faded away.

“Thank you for your hard work, Slayer-san.”

I fell asleep gently in Flare’s arms.

◇◇◇

Early the next morning.

Belfist came to the courtyard alone.

“Well, has it started?”

He had only one purpose.

To retrieve his own power.

He stumbled upon the scene.

“Leone! Your life is in danger!”

“Haa. . .after summoning me so suddenly, you bring up something ridiculous.”

Leone and Meigen were talking in the courtyard.

Belfist hid in the bushes.

“Oh, it’s starting.”

Here, the two of them clashed.

As Slayer had predicted, the situation unfolded, and Belfist watched.

“I don’t want to deal with this nonsense.”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s true!”

“Even if it is, it’s irrelevant. I can protect myself. I’ll just take your warning into consideration.”

“No, I’ll be with you.”

“. . .What did you say?”

Leone glared at him.

With a cold gaze. . .but Meigen didn’t flinch.

“I’ll protect you.”

“. . .Hmph, you? You’re much weaker than me.”

“Then try me!”

As soon as he spoke, Meigen released his own magic.

Feeling the swelling magic, Leone smiled.

“Alright. Show me what’s changed.”

leone snapped my fingers.

At the same time as the signal, the isolation barrier was deployed.

“That’s good.”

Since Slayer is not here, Belfist is the one who activated the barrier.

As planned, the two clashed again.

Leone’s specialty is fire magic.

On the other hand, Meigen was skilled in wind magic.

In terms of compatibility, it wasn’t bad.

Rather, wind, which can wrap around flames and turn into a weapon, wind was more advantageous.

However, Meigen suffered a crushing defeat because he had no combat experience.

Using magic alone is meaningless.

Only by mastering it like your own limbs can you become a first-class mage.

The experience he lacked was compensated for during the intense week with Slayer.

“Wind Blade!”

The wind blade attacked Leone.

Leone protected himself with a vortex of flames.

Immediately after, Meigen moved while wrapped in wind and took Leone from behind.

“Blow away!”

“Don’t underestimate me!”

A gust of wind and a vortex of flames.

The two powers collide and explode.

They were now having an even battle, unlike yesterday.

Megan was by no means inferior.

The only thing he lacked was experience,as his latent talent, knowledge, and effort were more than enough.

There wasn’t such a drastic difference that would lead to a devastating defeat when compared to Leone.

The difference was in their hearts.

He had always been plagued by an inferiority complex.

He kept seeing the person he admired up close and convinced himself that he couldn’t do it.

He cursed his weakness and inability.

In the original story, he fell in love and fought head-on against the heroes.

In his story, the other heroes were also seriously trying to win over the protagonist.

To be chosen, he had no choice but to fight.

For the first time in his life, Meigen had found something he wanted to protect, even if he had to fight for it.

He faced and overcame his own weakness and inferiority complex.

That’s how he became strong.

Even now. . .

“I will definitely win! I won’t let you die.”

“――Hmph.”

Suddenly, Leone’s fighting spirit disappeared.

Meigen, who sensed it, also stopped casting his magic.

“Leone?”

“I lost. You’ve become strong, Meigen.”

“. . .Huh? Why?”

He couldn’t hide his confusion at the sudden declaration of defeat.

Leone said to him.

“I declared someone weak, and yet they have fought me on equal ground. . .At that point, it’s my loss.”

“. . .Leone. . .”

“Meigen, I’ve always had high expectations for you.”

“For me?”

Leone revealed his innermost thoughts.

“You should be even stronger. But when you’re with me, you become weaker. You shrink back.

That won’t do. That’s not what. . .friendship should be.”

“. . .”

“I think of you as a friend and a rival, Meigen.”

“Me. . .your. . .”

The way to fill the void in his heart lies in accepting his own weaknesses and being acknowledged for it.

By someone he admired, by someone who needed him.

Megan filled the void by being recognized and fulfilled.

“Can I be your friend?”

“For now, I forgive you. You’re strong. Stand tall.”

“Hahaha, is that so? It’s kind of itchy when Leone says it.”

“Heh.”

There was already friendship between the two.

That friendship became even stronger.

Belfist could see a part of the power that separated from him, emerge from Meigen

The gap in his heart was filled.

“Oh! That’s right, there’s something important! Slayer is targeting your life!”

“Hmm? Oh, that’s just a joke.”

“Huh. . .? What do you mean?”

“Don’t worry. I don’t really understand it myself.”

Leone murmurs with a smile to the confused Meigen.

“She really is. . .a woman I don’t understand. Slayer Raeburn.”

Chapter 31: Main character’s turn

“Yesterday seemed to have gone well.”

“Thanks to you we were able to recover perfectly.”

“Yes, I’m glad.”

“Hmm? You don’t seem very happy.”

“I am happy, you know.”

But that wasn’t the case.

Meigen and Leone.

It seems that their battle went as planned.

With this, the problem between the two of them has been resolved.

It’s going very smoothly, which is great.

“But you don’t seem energetic.”

“…You understand, right?”

I’m tired.

I sat down with my back against a tree trunk in the usual courtyard.

Yesterday’s fatigue had hit me all at once.

I fought inside the barrier for seven days straight.

It’s not the kind of fatigue that can be relieved with just one day of rest.

“Pull yourself together. We haven’t even reached the halfway point yet.”

“I know.”

“Hey, Bell-san! Slayer-san is tired! Don’t disturb her rest! Here, Slayer-san, ahh.”

“. . .Stop it, it’s embarrassing.”

It’s lunch break now.

I stopped Flare, who was trying to feed me the side dishes from my bento.

She started to tear up.

“Eh! I made it just for you.”

“I didn’t say I wouldn’t eat it. I can eat it myself, so it’s fine.”

“But you’re tired, right? You haven’t been feeling well since this morning.”

“Don’t worry about me. The fatigue will recover eventually.”

It’s not like I’m injured or anything

It’s just fatigue.

If I rest, I’ll recover.

However, I can’t afford to rest for too long.

After finishing lunch, Belfist asks me.

“So, who’s the next target?”

“Bell-san! We’re still on break!”

“It’s okay, Flare. We should move forward.”

“Slayer-san, it’s better to rest first. . .”

She looked at me with a worried expression.

I was happy that she was concerned, but I can’t relax.

Perhaps Belfist understands that.

I locked eyes with him.

“Leone, Meigen, I filled the gap in their hearts. The impact will undoubtedly affect the other heroes.”

“That’s right. Not just those close to us. Power attracts power. They seem to have already met each other. Sooner or later, they will notice each other’s changes.”

“Yes. And. . .they will come to us. We can’t let them notice.”

Our advantage is that we know the reasons and solutions for the gaps in their hearts.

However, people’s hearts change constantly.

They will change.

Whether it’s a good change or a bad change is another matter.

If their hearts change in ways we don’t know, our advantage will disappear.

We have to settle this while everyone is still the same.

That’s why we can’t rest.

“If you want to rest, do it after everything is over.”

“. . .Please don’t collapse.”

“I’ll be careful. But, it’s not just me who has to do our best from now on.”

The next target is also decided.

To fill the gap in his heart, I can’t create the opportunity myself.

This is where she comes in.

My gaze turned to Flare.

“Me?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

The next target is Billy, the genius mage.

He is the only commoner among the heroes and he also carries a sad past.

Conquering him won’t be resolved through battles like before.

First, we need to create an opportunity.

For that purpose.

“I want you to invite Billy on a date.”

“A date?!”

This time, it’s your turn to do your best, Flare.

◇◇◇

Among the new students, Billy possesses the most talent as a mage.

He’s a bit different.

He didn’t try to interact with others much in the original work.

He only spoke to the heroes and the protagonist, Flare.

And even then, it was only the bare minimum.

He was always in the library.

Having been exempted from some general and magic courses, he reads books alone in the library.

The library, where there was no one, was quiet.

The only sounds present were the flipping of pages and the gentle breeze flowing in through the window.

And then, she comes.

“Hello! Billy-kun!”

“Flare. . .”

The protagonist and the hero met alone.

It was an individual event to deepen their friendship.

Even in the original work, the library was the starting point for Flare’s friendship with Billy.

Flare, who never understood her directions, got lost and Billy was there.

“What’s wrong? Aren’t you supposed to be in class now?”

“Um, I got lost… and before I knew it, I ended up here.”

“You got lost? It’s been quite a while, and you still don’t remember the way?”

“Yes. Ahahaha. . .”

It’s a little forced, but the line is perfect.

Flare was saying the same line that was in the original work.

I quietly observed their situation from outside the library window.

“This is the library, right? Don’t you have classes, Billy-kun?”

“I have been exempted from some classes.”

“I see! Um, can we talk for a bit? I’ve always wanted to talk to Billy-kun.”

“. . .Sure. I won’t make it to class anyway.”

The two of them sat next to each other.

Belfist and I watched over them.

“They seem to have a good atmosphere, don’t they?”

“It’s important that it turns out that way. After all”

Flare is going to ask Billy out on a date.

More precisely, it’s her job to take him out into the city.

As the protagonist, she has to handle that genius well.

Chapter 32: Date Invitation

“Is Billy-kun always here?”

“Most of the time, yeah. I’m usually here when there’s no class.”

“Do you like books?”

“It’s not so much that I like them, it’s more about studying. This place houses books from all over the world. It’s the perfect place to learn.”

“I see. . .Billy-kun is a serious person.”

She asks questions with a lively rhythm and subtly compliments him at the end.

Anyone would be happy to receive compliments.

Especially if they are innocent and heartfelt words.

That was flares specialty.

At least, that’s what I thought as I read the original work.

“All the books stacked here are about magic, right?”

“That’s right.”

“They look difficult. . .I’m not good at reading this kind of thing, so I wouldn’t understand even if I read them.”

“It’s just a matter of getting used to it. If you read it a little at a time and gain knowledge, you’ll eventually understand. I didn’t understand it at first either.”

“Wow~ Billy-kun, who taught you magic?”

It began.

Unconsciously, she asked the question that hit the mark.

Billy’s expression momentarily darkened.

Just for a moment, then he quickly returned to his usual self.

“My dad and mom taught me.”

“Your parents were mages too, Billy-kun.”

“Yeah. . .they were amazing mages.”

“You want to become a mage like your parents, don’t you, Billy-kun?”

“It’s not that I want to. . .I have to become one.”

“Huh?”

Billy flipped through the pages of the book with a serious expression.

Then he muttered quietly.

“I’m living just for that purpose.”

“Billy-kun?”

“It’s nothing. From my perspective, I think you’re the amazing one, you know? I’ve never seen holy power before. It really exists.”

“Holy power. . .?”

“What’s wrong? Don’t you know about your own power?”

From here, Flare’s power is touched upon.

In the original work, it was Billy who taught her about her power.

It is also a role given to him as the one with the most knowledge.

Thanks to this conversation, Flare became interested in her own power.

However, that’s the story from the original work.

She already knew about it from me.

For what purpose her power resides.

For whose defeat the power is intended.

“Since it’s not magic, it’s a power that’s far from me. I’m interested, though.”

“That’s a difficult topic. I don’t even know about normal magic. Oh, by the way, I heard an interesting rumor in town.”

“A rumor?”

“Yes. There’s an accurate fortune teller who seems to be able to see the future. Is there such a magic?”

“Seeing the future. . .No, I’ve never heard of it.”

Billy shows interest and looks puzzled.

He was easily interested in stories about magic.

This is a setup.

Just when he showed interest, Flare invites him.

“If you’re interested, would you like to go see the fortune teller after school?”

“The fortune teller?”

“Yes. I’m a little interested, but I’m scared to go alone. . .”

While saying that, she looks at Billy with hopeful eyes.

Few men can resist this gaze.

However, Billy is not very interested in anything other than magic.

That’s why she invited him.

“Seeing the future. . .huh. I’m certainly interested.”

He will definitely accept.

He’s not the type to silently back down in the face of unknown magic.

“Alright. Is today after school okay?”

“Yes! Thank you very much.”

Billy seemed a little embarrassed by Flare’s grateful smile.

I was satisfied just watching the two of them interact.

“Now, it’s our job from here on out.”

“I know. You really are a demanding princess.”

◇◇◇

“How did it go?”

“It was perfect. You led him well.”

“Yes! Thanks to Slayer-san’s guidance!”

“I just taught you the tricks.”

Flare, who had returned from Billy’s side, was jumping joyfully.

I only conveyed the information.

I think it was Flare’s own power that led him well.

As expected of the protagonist.

She was good at capturing the hearts of heroes.

“I’ll be counting on you after school too.”

“Yes! So I’ll guide Billy-kun to the fortune teller right?”

“Yes, leave the rest to us.”

“Got it! I’ll do my best to escort Billy-kun!”

Flare showed a sharp salute.

“You’re really enthusiastic.”

“Of course! I haven’t been very useful until now.”

Before I could deny it, she continued.

“And. . .I want to solve Billy-kun’s problems quickly. It’s so painful. . .and sad.”

“. . .I see.”

The problem he carries, the shackles he has placed on his heart.

It is. . .the heaviest and most painful past among the characters in the story.

◇◇◇

After school, the fateful moment arrived.

Flare took Billy to the town.

“It’s this way!”

“. . .Are you sure this is the right place?”

Guided by Flare, Billy looked uneasy.

And no wonder.

The two were walking in an alley far away from the bustling streets.

There were no people around, and there wasn’t a single shop.

“Are we… on the right path?”

“It’s okay! Probably.”

“Probably. . .”

He remembered that Flare was directionally challenged and looked around anxiously.

“A shop in a place like this. . .”

“There is one!”

“――!”

Flare pointed to a sign that read “Fortune Telling House.”

With a cliché name and a creepy exterior.

With the rundown appearance, the shop had you could tell it wasn’t thriving.

“So this is. . .”

“It seems so. The name matches too.”

“. . .Well since we came all this way, Let’s just check it out.”

Out of curiosity, Billy opened the door.

As he opened the creaky door, a woman was waiting inside.

She was hiding her face like a fortune teller and had a unique atmosphere.

“Welcome, lovely customer today.”

The fortune teller laughed eerily.

He didn’t notice.

That this fortune teller was actually me, Slayer in disguise.

Chapter 33: More Important than Magic

As planned, Flare brought Billy.

The two of them were in front of me in disguise.

Billy asked me.

“Are you the rumoured fortune teller?”

“Oh? Am I the subject of rumours? What kind of rumours?”

“That you can see the future… or something like that.”

“Hehe, how about it? Would you like to find out?”

Billy looked at me suspiciously.

So far, it seems that he hasn’t realized my true identity.

Indeed, Demon King’s transformation magic is amazing.

To deceive even a great mage like Billy.

Looks like things will go smoothly again this time…

“I honestly don’t believe it. I’ve never heard of magic that can see the future. If this is a scam, I don’t know what will happen to this shop.”

“You’re quite skeptical. Rest assured, it’s not a scam. I can see… your future… and your past,”

“――!”

Billy reacted visibly.

For him, the past was more important than the future.

That’s why he was easier to deceive.

I spoke with a smile on my face.

“You’re trapped in the past, aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“A sad past… the experience of losing someone important has made you who you are now.”

“Why would you say that. . .”

“I told you, I can see it. Everything about you. . .even the existence of someone else sleeping inside you.”

Billy steps back.

He glares at me, wary.

I hit the nail on the head.

His precious past that he has kept in his heart.

With this, he should understand that I am not an ordinary person.

Finishing the preface, I stood up.

“What are you. . .?”

“I am a fortune teller. So, I will tell you your fortune. It’s your first time, so I’ll do it for free.”

“What are you planning to do. . .”

“Don’t be scared. I’ll unlock the chains of your troubled heart.”

I slowly approached Billy.

Taking advantage of his guard being down, I lightly touched his forehead.

Immediately, his consciousness sank into darkness.

“What. . .”

“Have a nice trip. To the world of dreams.”

◇◇◇

Daydream is a magic that interferes with the opponent’s mind and shows them a specific dream.

This is an enhanced version that adds another form of mental manipulation.

It is a great magic that was activated with the assistance of Belfist, not just my own power.

Billy was floating in a pure white world.

“Where is this. . .”

“This is your dream. . .a world of mirrors that reflects your heart.”

“And you are. . .”

As the one who activated it, I could also stay in his dream.

Of course, in the form of a fortune teller.

“Who are you? You’re not just an ordinary fortune teller, are you?”

“Well? More importantly, it’s starting. Your dream. . .”

“Mine――! What is this. . .”

Images began to flow all around.

They were memories.

A tragedy that Billy couldn’t forget even if he wanted to.

Billy’s parents were excellent mages.

Though not nobles, their remarkable talent was recognized by the lord, and they dedicated themselves to magical research in a fulfilling environment.

Given his background, it was only natural for Billy to aspire to become a magician.

One day, an incident occurred.

Billy, who was helping his parents with their research, accidentally activated a magic device that was still in development.

The out-of-control device caused an explosion, engulfing the laboratory in flames.

Billy fell to the ground with serious injuries in the midst of the raging flames.

His parents rushed to him, as he prepared for his death.

In his fading consciousness, Billy’s parents transferred their life force and magic to him and he managed to survive.

As a result, his parents died.

“This is a curse. . .”

Billy murmurs.

Even now, the magic power of the two is still dwelling in his body.

His extraordinary talent as a magician stems from the combined magic of the three individuals, including himself

It was a power inherited from his parents.

However, he thought of it as a curse.

“The laboratory was destroyed because of me. My parents died to save me. They had so much more research to do… and they died because of me.”

“So, you consider it a curse?”

“Yes. I took away their future. So, I will master magic in their place. Otherwise… I won’t be forgiven.”

“――Is that really true?”

“Is that really what your parents would have wanted?”

I posed the question to the pitiful soul trapped in his past.

“Did your parents really want you to do that?”

“. . .What are you trying to say?”

“I can’t say anything. So. . .”

I point at him.

No. . .at the two residing in his chest.

“Ask them yourself.”

Immediately after that, his chest began to glow, and two lights flew out.

They circled around him and came to a stop in front of him, taking shape and gaining colour.

“Tou-san. . .Kaa-san?”

“Long time no see, Billy.”

“We finally meet again.”

“Why. . .?”

Billy was perplexed.

There are individual differences in magical power.

That’s because magical power is the life force that overflows from the soul.

The two poured all their magical power into Billy to keep him alive.

As a result, a part of their souls also resided within Billy.

“Tou-san, Kaa-san. . . It’s all my fault. . .”

“You’re an idiot, aren’t you?”

“Huh?”

“You’re really an idiot. I wonder who you take after?”

“Who else is there but us? You’re completely clueless about anything other than magic, just like us.”

“That’s true.”

Billy was confused as he watched the two of them happily laughing.

Why were they laughing?

Could it be that they were resentful towards him?

Such doubts were wrong.

He was the one who never understood.

He should have realized it sooner.

“You’ve grown so much.”

Billy’s mother hugged him tightly.

And then, his father hugged him tightly from above.

The answer was already decided.

They had given up their beloved research and even their own future to protect their child.

There was no way they could resent him.

“We’re happy as long as you’re happy. Just being alive. . .is enough for us.”

“I love magic, but I love you even more. Because we’re family.”

“――Ugh, ah. . .”

Tears overflowed from Billy’s eyes.

Once he knew, the truth it was simple.

The chains that had bound him for so long disappeared in an instant.

Just a single word was enough.

“I’m sorry. . .Dad, Mom.”

“Hey, don’t cry. You’re a boy, right?”

“You’ve grown up. Keep growing even more. Enjoy your life to the fullest, for our sake too.”

“. . .Yeah. I’ll do my best.”

Chapter 34: More important than status

Billy woke up from his dream.

The warm and gentle moment quickly came to an end.

It’s just a dream.

It was nothing but the lingering scent of memories shown in emptiness.

But he would never forget it, even after waking up.

“Billy-kun!”

“. . .Flare.”

Billy realized that he was lying on the ground.

After looking up at the ceiling for a few seconds, he slowly got up.

“Was I sleeping?”

“It seems so. I woke up a little while ago, and then Billy-kun did too.”

“. . .Did you see it too?”

“What do you mean?”

Flare looked puzzled.

Her expression showed no deceit, only genuine curiosity.

Yes, she didn’t see it.

She couldn’t see him or the memories of the two within his soul.

Only he and the fortune-teller could see them.

“. . .I see.”

He closed his eyes and remembered the scene from the dream.

Then he slowly stood up and looked around.

she wasn’t there..

“What about the fortune teller?”

“She was gone when I woke up.”

“I see. . .too bad. I just wanted to say one thing to her.”

“That’s right! She was a fraud after all!”

Flare got angry.

But when she saw Billy’s face, she realized that he wasn’t angry but rather looked happy.

“Billy-kun?”

“No. . .I forgot to thank her.”

Flare looked at his face clearly, and he looked very refreshed, facing straight ahead.

As if he were protected by something.

The chains that had bound him turned into a warm embrace.

And with that, the problems Billy carried were resolved.

◇◇◇

Billy and Flare left the ruins behind.

Belfist and I hid ourselves inside a barrier that blocked our presence and watched them go.

“They’re gone now.”

“Yes.”

Belfist released the barrier.

Originally, no one lived in this abandoned ruin.

It wasn’t just the appearance of the fortune teller.

But everything inside and outside the room was just an illusion created by magic.

It was all just another dream.

When the dream ended, only reality remained.

We remained in the dusty and dirty room.

“What about the recovery?”

“It’s all done perfectly. It’s a relief that you’re so good at your job.”

“Well, things are going smoothly for now.”

Honestly, I was really relieved.

Although we were just checking the answers, it was a challenge to solve their problems within such a short time.

And we had to do it without involving any romance, just solving the problems they had. . .

In a way, it might be more difficult than falling in love.

Tired and relieved, I sighed.

“Are you disappointed? You’re doing well enough. There are only two left, right?”

“. . .Those remaining two are troublesome. You know that, yet you still make light of it.”

“After all, it’s someone else’s problem.”

“It’s our problem, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s more like someone else’s problem. If you fail and get into serious trouble, it won’t be me but you who’ll suffer, right?”

“. . .”

That’s true.

If the recovery fails, my safety would not be guaranteed.

I didn’t know what the Demon King inside him would do.

If the Demon King were to go berserk, the story wouldn’t progress as smoothly as it should.

I had already distorted the story.

The protagonist became friends with them, solved the problems of the heroes, and cooperated with the Demon King’s vessel.

From here, there was no way to return to the original flow.

I had already started running.

I had come to a place where there was no turning back.

“So, who would be the next target?”

“Haven’t you decided yet? That’s unusual.”

“I’ve been putting it off because both are troublesome.”

“I see. . .then I recommend going to your ex-fiancé.”

When Belfist made his suggestion, I asked for the reason.

He then answered with a low voice and a difficult expression.

“I can’t understand what that guy, Seika, is thinking. Even though I’ve been with him for quite a while… And besides, the problems he’s dealing with…”

“I see. Then it will be Alma.”

I agreed with belfist’s suggestion and designated Alma as the next target.

His problem was somewhat similar to Leone’s.

Well, saying it was similar might be misleading.

Unlike Leone, it wasn’t caused by his father’s excessive upbringing.

In his case, it was largely due to his own personality and stance.

Honestly, I didn’t want to call this a problem.

At first glance, it didn’t seem like the kind of problem that would create a gap in one’s heart.

The problem he was facing.

Was that there was nothing more important to him than his noble status.

Chapter 35: Conditions for Re Engagement

Alma Gleipnir.

the former fiancé of Slayer and one of the characters who becomes a hero.

He was born into a prestigious noble family and raised as the eldest son.

He prioritized behaving like a noble, maintaining dignity and status, and acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills for that purpose.

His engagement with Slayer was also to get along with her family.

There was no mutual will between them.

However, he was content with it.

As a noble, he never doubted if following his family’s intentions was the right thing to do.

Status and honour were precious to him.

Above all, he seriously believed that as a noble with status, he should behave accordingly.

The first time he prioritized his emotions was for Flare.

He met her.

For the first time, he desired someone purely, without any regard for his family or to protect his status and honour.

Within the story, he struggled with this conflict.

The conflict between his identity as a noble that he has believed in and his love for Flare, whom he pushed aside.

In the end, he chose Flare.

He found something more important than the title of a noble.

In short, the way to solve his problem is. . .

“I’m sorry. I think it’s impossible for me.”

“Why?”

I asked Flare, who looked apologetic and denied it.

She hesitantly opened her mouth to answer.

“I understand that the best way to solve Alma-san’s problem is for me to fall in love with him. I also want to do my best for Slayer-san’s sake. But. . .I can’t fall in love with someone I don’t like.”

“That’s for now, right?”

She shook her head.

“Probably, even in the future. The Flare that Slayer knows is someone who became close to Alma over time and genuinely fell in love with him. But the current me is not the character from the story. I have to fall in love… I have to be in a relationship… I can’t do that.”

She had been looking down apologetically the whole time.

She wanted to be of help..

But there are things that she can’t do.

“I’m sorry. I said something mean.”

“No! It’s just that I can’t help you. . .”

“It’s okay. You’re right.”

I can’t fall in love with someone I don’t even like.

That’s right.

That’s why I broke off my engagement with him myself.

I have no right to blame her for that.

I knew she would respond like this.

I asked her knowing that.

It was the quickest and most reliable way.

“But realistically, what are we going to do?”

“. . .There’s only one alternative. I’m not very enthusiastic about it, though.”

“Tell me.”

“. . .I’ll take Flare’s place.”

◇◇◇

After school on the same day.

I waited at the entrance of the school to carry out the plan.

I let out a sigh.

I couldn’t muster up any motivation before even starting.

I really didn’t want to do this.

But I believe it’s the best… or rather, the only option.

I took a step forward in front of him.

“Slayer!”

“Long time no see, Alma.”

We faced each other in silence for a few seconds.

It would have been helpful if he said something, but it seemed difficult in this situation.

He looked like he didn’t know what to talk about.

Well, since I’m the one who started the conversation, let’s stick to the plan.

“It’s strange that we go to the same school but never run into each other.”

“. . .yeah, I wonder why.”

“Don’t play dumb. You were avoiding me, weren’t you?”

“. . .”

He deliberately kept his distance from me.

I knew that.

Even though he was with the protagonist Flare, he had never made contact with me.

It was obvious that he was avoiding me.

On the other hand, it meant that he was still conscious of me.

I saw an opportunity in that vulnerability.

“Have you found a new fiancé?”

“…Not yet. There aren’t many people like you.”

“Is that so? Well, then why don’t we start over?”

“――!”

Alma widened his eyes in surprise.

It must have been unexpected for me to bring up the topic of remarrying.

After the surprise wore off, he looked at me suspiciously.

“…What are you trying to do?”

“What do you mean?

“You haven’t forgotten, have you? You rejected me twice, remember?”

“Are you the one who forgot? Both times were because of you, Alma.”

I said coldly.

He didn’t say anything back.

He was aware of it.

He was thinking about the past when he was captivated by Flare.

He was caught and couldn’t deny it.

“Even more so. . .why?”

“I’ve changed my mind. There’s no other reason. It’s not a bad deal for you either, is it?”

“…Certainly not a bad deal. It works out well for me too.”

“Yes, exactly.”

I’ve got him hooked.

Now, let’s be assertive from here on.

“――However, you have betrayed me once before. You were captivated by another woman, it was like cheating.”

“That is. . .”

“So I’ll give you a condition. I’ll give you three days. Within that time, make me fall in love with you.”

“――!”

I met Alma’s surprised gaze.

Oh, how embarrassing.

I never dreamed I would say such a line to someone.

My heart felt like it was about to burst with embarrassment.

Belfist, who was secretly watching, was probably desperately holding back his laughter.

I know it’s not like me to say something like this.

But it was necessary.

I need him to be. . .obsessed with me.

“Is that the condition you have for me after bringing up the topic of remarrying?”

“Are you dissatisfied? If so, we can forget about this discussion. I’m capricious, you know.”

“. . .”

If I back down here, it will all be for nothing.

I’ll have to start over from the beginning.

I pray.

Please, please take the bait.

After making me say such embarrassing words, I won’t forgive you if you run away.

“――I understand. I’ll accept that challenge.”

My body trembled.

With joy.

“I’ll definitely make you fall in love with me within three days.”

“. . .Yes, I’m looking forward to it.”

Chapter 36: For a purpose

Flare and Belfist watched Slayer and Alma’s actions from the shadows.

“Ah, it was so painful. I had to restrain myself from laughing.”

“That’s terrible.”

“But really, those lines were so out of character for her.”

“That’s true, but. . .”

The two understood my intentions.

They knew why i was reaching out to someone I had once rejected so harshly.

Despite this, Flare showed a worried expression.

“You don’t seem satisfied.”

“Well, it’s just that. . .she’s doing this even though she doesn’t like him. . .it’s just tough for Slayer-san.”

“Are you only concerned about her?”

“. . .Slayer-san is my precious friend.”

Flare watched Slayer talking to Alma with an expression of discontent.

Are the emotions in her eyes simply concern for a friend?

Or was it something else. . .

“It doesn’t matter what we think. This is what she wanted.”

“I understand.”

“Let’s watch over her. It would be far more tactless to dampen her determination.”

“. . .you’re right.”

◇◇◇

“Sigh. . .”

I let out a deep sigh as I returned home.

It felt like it had been a while since I laid down on my bed.

Looking up at the ceiling, I recalled my conversation with him.

“Starting tomorrow for three days. . .”

I will receive Alma’s approach.

That’s the plan.

He will use various means to capture my heart.

But I…

“I can’t sincerely respond to that.”

I don’t love him.

Even if I know it’s part of the story, I have no interest in reclaiming a heart that once drifted away from me.

I’m just using him.

To make him feel guilty.

In order to survive as myself.

“. . .I’ll take the risk.”

There is no guarantee that this method will work.

I’m not the protagonist, so I can’t behave like her.

It’s impossible to show my affection to Alma at this point.

But still. . .I have to do it.

“. . .sigh. . .”

I let out another deep sigh and went to sleep that day.

The battle between Alma and me began the next day.

“Good morning, Slayer.”

“Yes.”

As soon as I enter the school grounds, Alma calls out to me with a refreshing smile.

“What class are you taking?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“I see. Then, why don’t you take the same class as me?”

“. . .Sure. Let’s do that.”

We had a casual conversation and walked to the classroom together.

Along the way, he talked to me as if to bridge the gap between us.

“I was happy yesterday when you gave me a chance to start over. I realized that someone like you is a perfect match for me.”

“Is that so? Don’t you prefer someone more cute and charming?”

“Do you know my preferences? But unfortunately, you’re wrong.”

“Is that so? Then what kind of girls do you like?”

“That’s a secret.”

He directed a mean smile towards me.

It was a refreshing, beautiful smile.

Alma is also good-looking.

He has many friends.

His behavior is polite, and he is admired by many women.

He is truly the ideal eldest son of an upper-class noble family.

There are quite a few who idolize him.

In the story, Slayer took pride in having such a person by her side.

“A source of pride… huh.”

“Is something the matter?”

“It’s nothing. Let’s go.”

The two of us entered the classroom together.

Even after taking our seats, he continues to engage me in cheerful conversation.

It was just casual talk, nothing significant.

We exchanged mundane daily conversations, like friends avoiding deeper topics, until the class began.

During class, it was certainly quiet.

He was playing the role of an honour student even at school.

Class ended, and it was break time.

“What about the next class? Together?”

“. . .Sure.”

I agreed to his invitation and decided to take the next class together.

He seemed desperate.

He kept me in his sight, using words and actions to keep me from leaving.

It was lunchtime.

It became noon.

As expected, Alma invited me to have lunch together.

“It’s been a while since we had a meal together like this.”

“Yes, it feels almost like the first time.”

“Hahaha, that’s a funny joke.”

But it’s not a joke.

At least, it has never happened since I became a Slayer.

I was busy with my training, and he never came to visit me until I entered the academy.

Yes, our relationship has always been that distant.

Even if we hadn’t seen each other for a year, we could meet again with a calm face…

It was creepy.

“Oh, Slayer. How about coming to my mansion after school today? If you don’t mind.”

“To your mansion? What for?”

“There’s no deep reason. I just thought it would be nice to have a relaxed conversation with you.”

Alma looked at me kindly.

“What do you think?”

“. . .Okay.”

This, too, is to achieve my goal.

Chapter 37: From now on, goodbye

After school.

Alma led me to his mansion.

He guided me to his room.

“It’s been a while since you’ve been here, right?”

“. . .Yeah.”

It was my first time here.

But strangely, I felt a sense of nostalgia.

I’m sure Slayer must have visited here when she was with him.

“So, what kind of conversation…”

It was unexpected.

He was standing behind me, and as I turned around, he pulled me in and. . .

Our lips met.

For a few seconds, my thoughts froze.

Before I could push him away, he pushed me down.

“. . .What are you trying to do?”

“You’re the one who said it, right? ‘Make you fall for me.’ That’s why I’m doing this.”

“. . .”

He held down both of my hands and looked down at me as I lay on the bed.

Although my position was disadvantageous, it would be easy to push him away if I wanted to.

While glaring at him, I spoke.

“Do you really think I’ll be happy with this?”

“It’s my job to make you happy. If it’s a relationship between a man and a woman, I think this is one way. I’ll make you satisfied.”

“. . .Satisfied?”

what he was thinking was unclear.

I am being pushed down on the bed.

There is only one possible development after this.

He was serious.

Without showing any ulterior motives, he approached me.

It was unbearable. . .

It was disgusting.

I wanted to push him away at that moment.

I wanted to tell them not to misunderstand.

But, this was the right thing to do.

I am now Flare’s replacement.

In her place, Alma needs to be infatuated with me or else it will be troublesome.

So I made him aware of it.

If he continues to desire me like this, it will be more convenient.

“Slayer.”

His face drew closer.

Yes, this was the best way.

No matter what I thought, in order to achieve my goal. . .

――I bit my lip.

Inside my heart, I felt like my emotions were about to burst out.

Oh, I see.

“. . .it’s still impossible after all.”

“Huh. . .”

My body honestly rejected him.

I untangled his hand and pushed back his approaching chest.

“Slayer?”

“I’m sorry, but getting engaged to you again is just impossible.”

“. . .it’s only been one day, though?”

“Yes, that’s true, but. . .I never had the feeling of wanting to start over from the beginning.”

This plan had failed.

I had prioritized my own emotions over my goal.

Still, strangely, I felt a sense of relief.

I wonder why.

Even though I had failed, there was a part of me that thought this was okay.

“The words ‘I want to start over’. . .”

“It was a lie. I feel sorry about that. I’m sorry.”

I apologized to Alma.

Regardless of the past, this time it was my fault.

I was at fault for not being able to play the role until the end.

I also knew that his actions were the result of him seriously trying to make me fall in love with him.

Even so…

“Alma, I… I can’t develop feelings for you.”

That was the answer.

I had my own preferences too.

Even with beloved stories and their characters, I didn’t love all of them equally.

I may like one character, but not another.

Personal preferences existed.

By meeting face-to-face, and actually interacting, that gap has become even wider.

I didn’t like him much from the beginning.

And now. . .

“I dislike you.”

“――!”

I’ve come to dislike him.

Maybe because I was directly involved?

His fake smile, his attitude, his words. . .everything was disgusting.

It’s not something to direct towards someone I once looked away from and betrayed.

The creepiness was unbearable.

But now. . .I could never be Flare’s substitute again.

I couldn’t think about what to do from now on.

“――I see. I thought so.”

“Huh?”

Alma said that to me with a smile.

Strangely, I didn’t feel any disgust towards that smile.

He continues.

“I always thought you were like me.”

“Me?”

“Yeah.”

He nods and continues.

“Both you and I are attached to where we are now. We value our position and status as nobles. . .we try to protect it. That’s what we have in common.”

“. . .”

I don’t deny it.

Not me, but Slayer was like that.

Certainly, the two of them were similar.

“But suddenly, you changed. You started behaving in an un-noble-like manner. Breaking off the engagement with me was one of them. You seemed like a completely different person.”

“…That’s true, I suppose.”

My heart felt uneasy.

That feeling was correct.

I am. . .not Slayer.

“When you changed, you started acting freely, as if a burden had been lifted. You seemed happy… and when I saw that, my heart felt constricted. I felt somehow denied.”

He believed that showing himself as a noble and protecting it was the most important thing.

He had been consistent with that belief.

And Slayer too. . .although their intentions were different, he was suitable as a noble daughter.

Seeing Slayer changing, he wavered.

Whether our current positions were truly right or not.

Oddly enough, that feeling was similar to the problem he faced when he fell in love with Flare.

“Do you hate me?”

“Yes, I hate you.”

“I see. I’m glad you said it clearly. It feels refreshing somehow.”

Saying that, he laughed.

Again.

This time, it’s surely not a fake smile.

It was a wry smile, but it was genuine.

He only laughed sincerely in front of Flare.

Why was that. . .

“If I were asked whether I like my current self… it’s a complicated question.”

“. . .even for yourself?”

“Yeah. I can’t be confident. . .so I’m probably wrong. The way I am now. . .”

“Isn’t it wrong?”

“Are you saying that? From my perspective, it’s because you’re here now that I think that way.”

Seeing me change so much, Alma thought.

“If you can change, maybe I’ll. . .rethink what it means to be myself too.”

“――!”

Yes, I hope so.

Just like the words he spoke in front of Flare at the end of the story.

“Hehe, I think it’s good. It’s also very much like you.”

“Like me. It’s the first time I’ve been told that.”

“I won’t say it again.”

“I understand. This is goodbye for us.”

“Yes, goodbye.”

Our story ends here.

There is no continuation.

If anything, we will each go our separate ways.

We may cross paths, but we won’t overlap again.

Chapter 38: The Last One

“You got lucky.”

We gathered in the courtyard as usual and held a strategy meeting.

After discussing yesterday’s events, Bellfist said that.

We got lucky.

There was nothing to say in response to that.

Well, isn’t it great? We managed to retrieve it, right?”

“Yeah, perfectly.”

“For some reason.”

Yesterday, Belfist was also hiding in that place.

It was supposed to be a failure.

I couldn’t fill the gap in Alma’s heart.

That’s what I thought, but later I was surprised by Bellfist’s response when I asked him about it.

“I was surprised too. I never expected you to come out like that.”

It seems that a part of the Demon King’s power was released from Alma’s body.

As a result, I achieved my goal.

“Nothing went according to plan.”

“I was on the edge of my seat watching you. Especially when you went off-script.”

“That’s true. I’m reflecting on it.”

“It doesn’t bother me, though. Like I said before, I’m not the one who will be in serious trouble. Whatever you prioritize is your choice and will.”

He’s giving advice in a roundabout way.

This time, I prioritized my own emotions and rejected Alma.

It just happened to work out well and I achieved my goal.

There could have been irreparable consequences.

In that case, our contract would have fallen apart.

“Well, I’m counting on you in that regard too. You have a strong will. You have the power to challenge me. If possible, I want you to achieve your goal and become my bride.”

“A bride… Are you serious about that? Becoming a bride to such a weirdo?”

“You always say such awful things.”

“It’s the truth! There are better people out there for Slayer-san!”

“Thank you. But it’s okay. I just want to live properly.”

Originally, i was supposed to meet an ending of destruction and death.

I am struggling to avoid that.

Even marrying him is a necessary step for that.

At least for now, I don’t hate him enough to reject him.

“If I ever grow to hate you, then I’ll just fight.”

“Haha! I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“I’m on Slayer-san’s side!”

“It’s reassuring to have you.”

We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

For now, I don’t need to think about it.

“Next is the last one.”

“Seika-senpai, right? I’ve only talked to him once, so I don’t really know him. . .but I’ll do my best if there’s anything I can do!”

Flare was enthusiastic.

She probably wanted to make up for declining Alma’s request.

“Thank you. But this time, it’s okay.”

“. . .Are you going to do something reckless again?”

She looked at me with concern.

“It’s okay. It’s not me who will do my best――”

My gaze was not on Flare but on someone else.

“Is it me?”

“Yes, it’s your turn.”

A friend character Seika Renoir.

In his story, Belfist held a pretty important position.

Flare may have been the one who started it, but he undoubtedly contributed the most to solving the problem.

“Your words will reach him, Belfist.”

“. . .Phew, well, whatever. This is the last one. I’ll do my best too.”

“Oh, do your best, okay? You want to marry me, right?”

“Yeah, I definitely want to. For that, leave it to me, Seika――.”

Almost at the same time, Belfist and I sensed a presence.

It was a rustling sound, Flare noticed it late.

“Oh, you were talking about me? That’s interesting.”

He appeared eerily from behind the trees.

The hero of the story, the last one standing.

Seika Renoir.

“Oh, Seika-senpai?!”

“Hey, Flare-chan, right? It’s our second time meeting.”

“Y-Yes! Thank you for helping me when I was lost the other day!”

Flare bowed energetically.

This child… got lost somewhere again.

“Don’t worry about it. You don’t seem lost today… or so it seems.”

“Ah, yes. Um. . .”

Flare was at a loss for words.

Seika’s eyes had a strange color, and when he looked at her with those eyes, she felt like he could see through her heart for some reason.

“What are you doing in a place like this, Seika?”

His friend Belfist asked casually.

They met after entering the school and became friends.

They weren’t childhood friends, nor could they be called best friends.

There was a slightly strange sense of distance between them.

“It’s rare for you to come to a place like this.”

“Is that so? Well, this place was often where you came, Bell. I thought it would be best not to intrude, so I kept my distance.”

“Why would you hold back? We’re friends, aren’t we? No need for such reservations.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right… It’s just a bit of a shock, that’s all. To think you were keeping secrets from me.”

Seika’s gaze grew colder.

He was not glaring, just quietly observing.

With his mysterious eyes.

“You guys have been acting suspiciously lately, haven’t you?”

“What, what? Are you jealous because I’ve been secretly meeting two beautiful women?”

“Haha, I wouldn’t have minded if you were just fooling around. But. . .you’ve been using magic without permission several times in the past few days, haven’t you?”

“――! What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb. You should know. This is my school, right?”

He was the grandson of the head of the school, and he was also his right-hand man.

One of Seika’s assigned roles was to always be on the lookout for any suspicious activities within the academy and take appropriate measures.

I had expected that we would notice, as he had been quite active, but..

“It seems you’ve come to us instead.”

A little unexpected.

I was planning to tell them the plan and prepare, but that seems impossible now.

“Can you tell us what you were doing and what your purpose is?”

“What if we refuse?”

“Then there’s no helping it. I’ll have to extract the information by force.”

His gaze became even colder.

He was serious.

There’s no more room for deception.

“Bell, it’s your turn.”

“I know. I should be the one to deal with this guy.”

Belfist stood in front of Seika.

“What are you planning?”

“We won’t let you interfere. We can’t tell you our purpose either.”

“I see. Then, there’s no other choice.”

“Yeah, I guess i’ll have to extract the information by force!”

Chapter 39: A friend’s cry

As the two clashed, I deployed an isolation barrier.

“Slayer-san! Are you not going to stop them?”

“. . .this is fine.”

I answered quietly to Flare, who anxiously asked the question.

“These two. . .have to fight.”

Seika Renoir.

An upperclassman, one year ahead of us, and the top student in the second year.

He was a top performer in both theoretical and practical studies at the academy.

In the original work, his abilities were outstanding even among the five heroes.

As a mage, his senses were inferior to Billy’s, but he was depicted as a mage who surpassed even him with his cultivated experience and skills.

The problem and secret he carried were deeply related to this academy.

A simple solution was difficult.

At least, it is impossible for me and Flare.

“It’s the first time for me to fight you like this.”

“Yeah. We’ve been getting along without fighting, after all!”

“. . .yeah, we were getting along.”

Seika deployed a magic circle that controls water and transformed the generated water into the shape of living creatures.

Birds, wolves, elephants, dolphins.

He manipulated the water transformed into various animal shapes to attack Belfist.

On the other hand, Belfist applied body strengthening through magic and wrapped his fists in cold air.

When his fist collided, the aquatic creatures froze and shattered into pieces in an instant.

“You’re good. But, that method won’t handle this number”

Dozens of water statues surrounded Belfist.

There was no escape.

Completely surrounded, Belfist raised both hands with a smirk.

Surrender?

No way, that’s not going to happen.

He is the vessel of the Demon King, and he could easily break through this level of siege.

“Don’t underestimate me.”

Belfist swung his raised fist down with force.

He didn’t hit the ground or the enemies, but the air.

He struck the air, and the impact spread around him.

The statue of water, which had stopped moving in unison due to the vibration of the air and shock waves, disappeared in the next moment.

“That was. . .magic release?”

“Correct.”

It was a feat that only he, the Demon King, could accomplish.

By manipulating and releasing magic itself, he could interfere with the opponent’s magic.

The statue of water, which was controlled by Seika’s magic, lost control due to the mixture of Belfist’s magic.

“I’ve never seen anyone who can do something like that. Impressive.”

“Is that so? You don’t seem all that impressed.”

“Well, I am impressed. I never expected you to be someone capable of fighting like this.”

“. . .Ha! That’s not true! You were suspicious from the beginning! That’s why you approached me. To monitor me as the guardian of the school.”

The two faced each other and locked eyes.

It was the same in the original story.

Seika was the only one who realized the possibility of Bellfist being the vessel of the Demon King.

Strictly speaking, he had doubts.

“I was surprised when you talked to me at the entrance ceremony. I had heard rumors about the school’s head grandson with high expectations, so I wondered why someone like you would talk to me.”

“It was just a coincidence. We happened to be sitting next to each other at the entrance ceremony. That’s all.”

“That’s probably true. It was a coincidence at that time. You started to suspect me around the end of the first year, right?”

“Bellfist… It sounds like you’re affirming that I was right to suspect you all along,”

Seika asked.

Belfist. . .no, Satan, smiles.

“That’s what I’m saying.”

“. . .”

“It’s just as you suspected. The soul of Demon King Satan resides within me.”

“――!”

For a moment, Seika’s expression was one of shock, but then it quickly returned to a calm one.

He must have understood.

The uneasiness in his chest had taken shape before his eyes as the truth.

“Wait, wait, is this okay? You just revealed his secret!”

“It doesn’t matter. He’s going to be the last one anyway.”

I watched over them.

Belfist had said before that he wanted seika to be the last.

Perhaps he had intended to do this from the beginning.

He already knew.

How the story unfolds for himself and Seika.

That it was something he, as the personality of Belfist, was reluctant about.

“You’re making a face like you believe me.”

“. . .Normally, I wouldn’t believe it. But that attack earlier was not normal. It’s impossible for a human to manipulate magic like that.”

“Oh, that’s why I showed it to you. It’s an easy proof, right?”

“. . .Aren’t you Belfist?”

For the first time, he glared at Belfist.

“I am who I am. In this mixed state, there is no such thing as a main personality.”

“. . .I see.”

Seika showed a relieved expression somewhere.

But he immediately switched to a serious expression and asked Belfist.

“If you are harboring Satan’s soul, then I cannot overlook it due to my position. If you don’t resist. . .I will guarantee your safety.”

“That’s impossible. Didn’t I tell you? We’re mixed together. I can easily understand what you’re thinking.”

“Belfist. . .”

“I am also Satan. But don’t worry. I’m not thinking what you’re thinking. I have no intention of harming humans. I’ll just continue attending the academy as usual.”

Seika showed a slight disturbance.

he couldn’t judge whether it was the words of the Demon King or Belfist.

Even if it was true, his position couldn’t be overlooked.

“That’s not possible. From now on, the school will manage you.”

“Manage? More like imprison, right? The academy would be delighted to have a fine specimen like the Demon King.”

“. . .”

“Don’t make a scary face. I don’t intend to go that far.”

He already knew, what the school was doing behind the scenes.

Not because I told him, but because he sensed it as the Demon King.

That this school is not just a place to nurture students.

What Seika was really protecting.

“I will live freely. If you want to stop me, come at me.”

“. . .I have no choice but to do that.”

The two clashed again.

The Demon King who no longer hides his power and the academy’s strongest student who acknowledged his opponent’s strength.

Once they clash with their full power, it cannot be stopped until a conclusion is reached.

No, I could intervene.

But. . .

“It would be tasteless”

From here on, it’s time for friends.

Chapter 40: The ending is far away

“You’re going through a lot too! You have to do things other than being a student!”

“You’re the one who’s possessed by a Demon King. . .that’s much harder.”

“I’m fine! I’ve always done things freely. Nothing has changed since we first met! You haven’t changed either! You still have that. . .boring expression on your face!”

“――! Is that how it looks to you?”

“That’s the only way it looks to me!”

Those were the words spat out by Belfist.

Not as the Demon King, but as a friend.

“You can do anything! You see things that ordinary people don’t see! And yet, why do you look so bored? I finally understand… You’re not enjoying yourself.”

“Enjoying myself? I’m having plenty of fun in my school life.”

“That’s a lie! I’ve never seen you really laugh! Not even once in the year we’ve been together! Can you really say you’re enjoying yourself like that?”

“. . .You always seemed to be having fun.”

“I was having fun. Playing around freely, skipping classes, getting scolded by you. I laughed because it was fun. I wanted you to do the same.”

Belfist clenched his fist and striked Seika.

Seika created a barrier of water, but it couldn’t withstand the attack, and he was blown away, crashing into the ground.

“Ugh. . .”

“I’ll continue to live freely from now on! Being myself, enjoying every day! What about you? Are you just going to fulfill your duty by carrying all those burdens?”

Belfist shouted.

It was like a fierce battle that beautified the end of a story.

the words of the book came to mind.

It was the same.

Belfist, who reigned as the Demon King, and Seika, who confronted him as the hero.

The two clashed as enemies, and Seika emerged victorious.

As the Demon King disappeared and Belfist’s soul was about to vanish, the words he left behind remained in Seika’s heart.

Try living freely Not for anyone else… but for yourself..

Yes, Bellfist left those words behind for his friend and disappeared.

I thought to myself.

Perhaps he, too, wanted to be by Seika’s side, enjoying his newfound freedom…

That’s why――

“I am who I am! I won’t change from now on! I’ll continue to live freely and show you! Watch from the sidelines and envy me! And then–”

The battle was over.

Belfist reached out his hand to the fallen Seika.

It was like a ray of light shining in the darkness.

“I’ll teach you how to enjoy freedom.”

“…Even as the Demon King?”

“Didn’t I say I am who I am? I’m still Bellfist, and I’m still the Demon King. That’s who I am now, and that’s who I’ll be from now on. Has anything changed from a year ago?”

“No. . .nothing has changed.”

Seika took his hand.

Laughing as if he were exasperated.

“You’re still the same as you were back then.”

“That’s right. You need to do something about your overly serious personality.”

“And you’re too carefree. Skipping classes so much that you might have to repeat a year.”

“Haha, when that time comes, i’ll have fun together with those guys.”

Belfist turned his gaze towards us.

The barrier was no longer necessary.

I released the isolation barrier, and the wind blew through the courtyard.

“…It’s a little lonely, isn’t it?”

“――! Then, don’t take your eyes off us.”

“I’ll do that.”

We watched the two facing each other with refreshing expressions from a distance.

“So, is it resolved?”

“I wonder.”

It was a problem for the two of them.

They maintain a distance that only men can comprehend and locked eyes as if they understood each other.

Unfortunately, there was no room for us to intervene.

However, watching them, I couldn’t help but feel envious. . .

◇◇◇

“It’s finally over.”

“Yes.”

After the fierce battle in the courtyard, we gathered in the same place after school.

I didn’t really understand the result of the two’s battle, but it seemed that they were able to recover their strength properly.

“What about Seika?”

“He told me to keep watching, so be prepared,”

“Well, that’s good, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not. It’s like living under surveillance. Are they going to peek at our lovey-dovey moments too?”

“Well, as long as we don’t do anything, there won’t be a problem, right?”

“You’re so cold.”

While making light of the situation, I was relieved inside.

I dealt with the problems in a short time by interacting with the five heroes.

It was easy to say with words, and it took a short time.

But it had worn me down mentally.

Finally, it was over…that’s what I thought.

“Oh, there’s one thing I want to correct about that matter.”

“What is it?”

“. . .It seems like there’s still some power left.”

“”Huh?””

Flare and I said in unison.

“What do you mean!”

“Didn’t you recover it from all five people?”

“Yeah, but it’s not enough. It seems like there’s still someone else who has my power…”

“In that case…”

“Since the condition was to find everything, we still have to continue.”

Disappointed, all the strength in my body had drained away.

I thought I was finally free. . .but it seems it was still continuing after all.

And from now on, I won’t even know who the target is.

“Heh. . .it’s okay. I’ll do it. Otherwise, we won’t have a happy ending, right?”

“That’s right.”

“I’ll help too! Slayer-san’s happiness is my happiness!”

“Thank you.”

This story is fiction.

There is no connection to real people or organizations.

I can’t believe I’m saying this now.

The story I’m experiencing is reality, and it will continue from now on.

I absolutely refuse to have a tragic end.

I will definitely avoid tragedy.

“Now, let’s begin.”

The challenge to avoid the path of destruction is far from over.

SIDE: Slayer・Raeburn

Slayer Raeburn.

The main character of this story and the character I was reincarnated into.

Originally, my role was to oppose the protagonist Flare and serve as a supporting character to highlight her existence.

I was tired of playing such a role.

I didn’t want to meet a tragic end after being reincarnated.

So――

I decided to become stronger.

I was tempted by the final boss and betrayed, then killed.

If that’s the only ending prepared for me, then I just need to become strong enough to defeat the final boss.

I’ll become stronger and cut down those who get in my way.

I’m not looking for a dramatic ending.

I just want to live a slightly exciting life, even if it’s not ordinary.

“Father! I want to study magic!”

“Hmm? Magic? I don’t mind, but what’s gotten into you all of a sudden?”

“I want to become a great mage in the future!”

“Wow!”Oh! Already thinking about the future… Slayer, you’re amazing.

Alright, I’ll prepare what you need.”

“Thank you!”

Thanks to my doting parents, I was able to prepare what I needed for special training.

A famous mage even came to teach me.

But that wasn’t enough.

I had to surpass the Demon King. . .the Last Boss of this world.

I couldn’t be satisfied with just average strength.

I secretly went out at night and fought monsters alone to gain practical experience.

As I spent such days…

I enrolled in a school.

As expected, there were more unexpected things than I thought.

But my skills as a trained mage were useful.

◇◇◇

“I see. So that’s why you were able to fight so well.”

“Yes, I trained to defeat you.”

“Haha, scary, scary. It was really something. I… or rather, Satan, who mixed with me, was also surprised. To think there was a human who could fight this well.”

“Is that so? If I managed to surprise you, then that’s enough.”

While saying that, I wasn’t satisfied.

The battle with Belfist, the vessel of the Demon King, was a close one.

I was forced to use my trump card.

“I’ll train to win next time.”

“Isn’t that unnecessary now?”

“I don’t know. You might betray me someday.”

“I don’t trust you.”

“Of course not. You’re the Demon King. . .an enemy who might kill me.”

Of course, that wasn’t the only reason now.

“Well, then, I’ll just pray that day never comes.”

“What does the Demon King pray for?”

“That’s true. Hmm, then I’ll just expect great things from you.”

“From me?”

What does he expect from me?

The answer to that question became clear right away.

“Yes. You’re suitable to be my wife. I hope that will continue in the future.”

“You’re so condescending.”

“I’m the Demon Lord, after all.”

After talking this far, we laughed.

While talking about the possibility of fighting each other, we didn’t take it seriously.

I had a feeling moments like this will continue in the future…

SIDE: Flare

Someone once said it.

This world follows the story of a certain book.

The protagonist is a girl.

She is surrounded by unique boys and together they confront the evil Demon King.

Just hearing such a story makes it feel like a dream.

I also thought, what if I were a part of that world. . .

Then, someone said to me.

You are the protagonist of this world.

Yes, my friend was not an ordinary person.

She came from another world and was reborn as the heroine who opposes the protagonist. . .Slayer-san, whom I wanted to be friends with.

◇◇◇

“Good morning, Slayer-san.”

“Yes.”

“We’re meeting for lunch today, right?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Then I’ll come too!”

Since meeting Slayer-san, we have spent more time together.

She always seems to be thinking about something.

When she has a serious expression, if I quietly glance at her face, she notices my gaze.

“What?”

“It’s nothing!”

In those moments, I felt her small kindness.

She said that she was the villainess of the story.

Her original role was to bully and trouble the protagonist, help the Demon King cause more trouble, and in the end, be betrayed and killed.

When I heard that, I thought that such a terrible role was absolutely not what I wanted.

It seemed Slayer-san felt the same way and trained hard to avoid it.

That’s why she was exceptionally strong even within the school.

I am not very knowledgeable, and I don’t understand difficult things, but I could feel that she had put in a lot of effort.

I also thought that her hardworking nature was amazing.

During lunch break, we went to the courtyard.

There, we saw Belfist-san, who noticed us and waved.

“Finally, Slayer and Flare as well.”

“Don’t say ‘as well.’ I think Belfist-san is the one who’s unnecessary.”

“You’re so mean, as always.”

“That was your fault.”

This person is Belfist-san.

Slayer-san’s collaborator. . .but I’m not fond of him.

There’s something about his face. . .or maybe his personality?

It’s hard to express, but I feel a dangerous vibe from him.

Apparently, he was called the final Boss in the story.

In other words, he and the protagonist were enemies.

So, there must be some emotional distance between them.

“By the way, Seika hurt me earlier.”

“Oh, where? On your back?”

“It’s was not physically. It’s about what he said.”

“I see. . .”

“Could you not be a little disappointed?”

“Hehe.”

Slayer-san also enjoyed teasing and playing with Belfist-san.

What she does is similar to what I do… but somehow it feels a bit off..

“Slayer-san!”

“Hm? What is it?”

“I will always be on Slayer-san’s side!”

“. . .What’s gotten into you all of a sudden?”

“I don’t know, I just felt like saying it.”

My friend is an amazing person.

I want more people to know that.

But… part of me thinks it’s fine the way things are…

I don’t quite understand it.

“You’re such a strange girl.”

“You’re the weird one.”

“That’s just Bel-san for you.”

“Right.”

“You two are so mean.”

Chapter 41: Gap in the Heart

My name is Slayer Raeburn.

Repeating my name in my mind, I reaffirmed that I am Slayer.

I was just a village girl, but I was reincarnated as the villainess of the story.

If the story progresses as it should, a disastrous end awaits.

I didn’t want that, so I fought desperately to get this far.

Just a little more.

The problems that the heroes had were solved.

I’ve recovered most, if not all, of the power of the Demon king.

Just when I thought it was finally over, it wasn’t. . .

“How many more are there?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, ‘I don’t know’?”

“Don’t say things like that! I won’t forgive you if you make Slayer-san uncomfortable!”

Flare was fuming next to me.

Belfist, unfazed, smiled proudly and said,

“You don’t need her permission, right?”

“I do! I’m Slayer-san’s best friend!”

“Oh really, number one? That’s news to me.”

“You’re not my friend.”

“I know that. I never intended to be friends with you either.”

Flare and Belfist glared at each other.

It looked tense at first glance, but was the usual flow.

“You two have such a good relationship.”

I muttered and concentrated on my thoughts.

Satan, the Demon king.

He is the final boss in the story I know, and another persona within Belfist.

The two are not separate, but seem to be fused into one.

The person I’m talking to now is both Satan and Belfist.

Demon King Satan was resurrected to find his partner.

That seems to be his purpose, and he seems to have no interest in conquering the world or causing the extinction of humanity.

If I become his wife, he would not become an enemy of the world.

However, if he cannot recover a part of the power that was separated during his resurrection, my safety will not be guaranteed.

After making such a contract, we have come to the present.

“Bell.”

“What?”

“The remaining power is inside this school, right?”

“Yes, there’s no mistake about it.”

Belfist asserts.

He interrupted his argument with Flare and closes his eyes to speak.

“I feel the power closer.”

“Close. . .?”

“Yeah, really close. It might be the closest I’ve felt so far. That’s how strong I sense the power.”

“Isn’t that because we’re inside here?”

Flare’s words quiet the room.

Belfist opens his eyes forcefully, and I also quickly turned my gaze towards Flare.

Our gazes met, and Flare becomes nervous.

“Um, well, did I say something weird…?”

“…Yes. That’s right.”

“It’s possible. Why didn’t we notice until now? Was it because it was too close to realize? If that’s the case, we were quite foolish.”

“Exactly, I also. . .”

“Um. . .Slayer-san?”

“Thank you, Flare. Thanks to you, I understand now.”

Her casual remark resolves the doubts that were beginning to grow.

If I had thought about it carefully, I should have arrived at this conclusion.

The parts of the Demon king’s power were dormant within the heroes who appeared in the story.

The power of the Demon king was drawn to the gaps in their hearts.

The heroes were significant characters alongside the protagonist.

If there is indeed a connection between this world and that story… then the remaining power is most likely within the major characters who appeared in the story.

I looked at Flare.

It’s not her.

Within Flare lies a holy power.

She possesses a special power that only she has, a power that can be called the arch-nemesis of the Demon king.

Naturally, the holy power interferes and negates the presence of the Demon king’s power.

Even if there were gaps in her heart, the holy power would nullify the Demon king’s power.

Therefore, I am convinced that it does not exist within her.

I looked at Belfist.

He was also excluded from the candidates.

It’s obvious.

Because he is the vessel and the sharer of the will of the Demon king Satan..

The power within him has already returned as the Demon King’s power.

Although I have some thoughts, I can assert that it’s not him.

So, there’s only one left.

I understand it the most.

Belfist also realized this and looked at me.

Yes, if it’s not the two of us, there’s only one candidate.

The major character in the story, and based on her character traits, the one most likely to have gaps in her heart.

The villainess, Slayer Raeburn.

In other words. . .

“The power of the Demon King was sleeping within me.”

“Within Slayer-san. . .”

“It’s highly likely. In fact, I can’t think of any other candidates.”

“. . .Yes.”

Silence lingered for a few seconds.

I was surprised, but at the same time, I understood.

If the Demon King’s power is attracted to the gaps in human hearts, then Slayer is the most likely candidate.

The original Slayer in the story was never satisfied.

There was no one she could truly understand.

She acted to fulfill her own desires, ultimately leading to her own downfall.

There must have been a big hole in her heart as well.

“I have to fill the hole in Slayer’s heart. . .”

“Why are you talking like it’s someone else’s problem? It’s your problem.”

“It’s actually someone else’s problem. It’s Slayer’s problem, not mine.”

“No, it’s your problem.”

“Huh. . .”

Caught off guard, I showed a confused expression.

Belfist looked at me with a disappointed expression and said,

“Sigh, think about it. It’s true that initially the power resided in Slayer before it was transferred to you. If we assume that you became Slayer midway…

“That’s correct. You saw my memories too, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, that’s why I’m not doubting that. But the problem is, you’re not the actual Slayer now. So, the heart problem that Slayer had is not related to you.”

“I see.”

I became a Slayer in the middle of my life.

have memories before that, but those memories remained in Slayer’s body; they weren’t my own experiences.

As evidence, even though I have memories, I don’t have any emotions attached to them.

I have no idea what Slayer has been thinking and feeling throughout her life.

Just this fact alone proves that Slayer and I are different people.

The gaps in her heart that she carried with her were nothing but someone else’s problem to me.

“Basically, once you became her, the gaps in her heart should disappear. My power would lose its anchor and move to someone else.”

“That means. . .”

“You understand now, right? In short, it’s you.”

Belfist points to my left chest.

“Because there was a gap in your heart, my power remained without leaving.”

“――In my heart. . .”

Chapter 42: Thank you for this encounter

I gently touched the left side of my chest that was pointed at.

My heart was beating faster than usual, thumping loudly.

Is there a hole in my chest, in my heart. . .?

“. . .Why?”

“I want to know.”

“Slayer-san! Do you have any worries? If you do, please tell me! I’ll help you!”

Flare looked at me with a worried expression.

I was perplexed.

Even if she says that. . .

No, there is indeed a significant worry.

The impending doom of a disastrous end, the “Doomed End,” awaiting Slayer’s future.

It is my biggest problem, and it remains unresolved…

“Is it me?”

“. . .Yes.”

The existence of Demon King Satan.

As long as the demon king exists, I cannot feel at ease.

He is cooperative now, but I fear that he may turn on me at any moment.

However. . .

“It’s this person’s fault after all! Causing trouble for Slayer-san. . .I’ll punish him!”

“You can’t do it alone.”

“I won’t know until I try! I’ve become stronger too!”

“Is that so? Then let’s try it here.”

Flare became unusually passionate.

Belfist also showed a combative attitude under that passion.

It almost reached the point of no return, and I hurriedly stop them.

“Calm down, Flare! And you too, Belfist.”

“Slayer-san. . .”

“I am calm.”

“That’s a lie. You were getting heated up, weren’t you?”

“. . .Maybe.”

Belfist relaxed his shoulders.

To Flare, who looked apologetic and downcast, I whispered.

“Thank you. You cared about me. That feeling alone is enough.”

“Slayer-san. . .Are you really okay with this? I’m on your side, you know?”

“Yes.”

I smiled at Flare and turned my gaze to Belfist.

For a while, I stared at his face to confirm.

“Maybe it’s not because of you.”

“Is it not because of me?”

“Yes, there’s no evidence, but. . .I feel like it’s something else. But. . .”

“You still have doubts, right?”

Belfist hit the nail on the head with what I was thinking.

That’s right.

I have doubts.

There’s no guarantee that he won’t betray me.

Is this anxiety the true nature of the gap in my heart?

Belfist proposed to me as I was worrying.

“Then, why don’t we make a soul contract here?”

“A soul contract?”

“It’s a binding agreement between a demon and a human. We connect our souls and make vows. Once the contract is established, neither party can break the promises made.”

“A demon contract. I’ve read about it in books.”

Demons demand an equivalent price in exchange for lending their power to humans.

A contract that bears mutual risks and produces benefits.

Belfist explained calmly, “Here’s the contract. You swear to become my wife, and I vow to protect you for a lifetime. That way, your safety will be guaranteed, right?”

“That’s what it is going to be.”

“It’s dangerous! What if he unilaterally breaks the contract?”

“That’s impossible. Didn’t I mention it? Once it’s formed, it cannot be broken. Demons are more bound by contracts than humans. There is no deceit in a contract sworn not with words, but with our souls.”

Belfist calmly explained and then look at me seriously.

And asks,

“What will you do?”

“. . .”

The decision was left up to me.

If this anxiety is creating a gap in my heart, then it can be resolved with the method he proposed.

On the other hand, if there is another way to feel at ease, there is no other choice but to destroy him.

I had that in mind when I was reincarnated.

However, I understand it again after becoming stronger and able to fight.

The overwhelming power of Demon King Satan.

I have become strong.

I am confident that I have become strong enough to defeat the Demon King.

But I cannot confidently assert that I will definitely win against him. There is an underlying uneasiness.

The hostility with Belfist was a gamble.

Rather than taking such a gamble. . .

“I understand. Let’s make a contract.”

Belfist smiled.

“Is that okay? Slayer-san, once you make a contract, there’s no turning back, you know?”

“I know that.”

“You’re going to become the wife of such a weirdo!”

“Who’s the weirdo?”

“Who else is there besides you!”

While saying “Muu,” Flare looks at Belfist.

Seeing their interaction, I smiled.

“Hehe.”

“Slayer-san?”

“It’s okay, Flare. I think it’s fine for me.”

Even in my past life, I was not blessed with such a partner.

I am a complete amateur when it comes to love.

I only have knowledge based on descriptions in books.

Because of that, I don’t really understand things like love.

“However, if you were to ask me if I like it or not, I don’t particularly dislike it. I’m enjoying this time to some extent. So, surprisingly, I don’t feel bad about it.”

“Haha, I’m honored.”

“Slayer-san. . .”

“You seem frustrated, Flare.”

“Please be quiet, weirdo! I am Slayer-san’s friend! If Slayer-san is happy, that’s the best thing!”

She said that with a bright and kind smile, despite her puzzled expression.

“Thank you. I’m glad I became friends with you.”

Yes, I truly felt that way.

I should be grateful.

For meeting her, and for her saying that she wanted to be my friend.

And. . .

“Let’s make a contract.”

“Alright.”

Also for meeting him.

Chapter 43: Guilt

I faced Belfist.

“What should I do?”

“Well, there are various methods, but. . .”

Belfist touched his chin and looks up diagonally, thinking.

After organizing his thoughts, he returned his gaze to me and smiled.

“Yeah, I think this method is the most fitting.”

Belfist grabbed my shoulders with both hands and pulled me towards him, making me flinch.

Our faces were close, and our chests were almost touching.

Our heartbeats were so close that we could almost hear them.

I looked up at him due to the height difference, and he looked down at me.

At this point, I also understood what he intended to do.

“Hey, Bel-san! What are you planning to do?”

“As you can see, it’s a contract. It’s perfect, isn’t it?”

“But. . .there are other methods――”

“It’s okay, Flare. I don’t mind this.”

“Slayer-san. . .”

Flare looked at me with a worried expression.

She might think I’m forcing myself.

I was certainly a little surprised.

For me, who has little experience, this act has a significant meaning.

But I. . .

“I think it’s perfect for me too.”

If I make a contract, I will become his wife.

Then it’s just right.

There can’t be a more fitting act to make our vows.

“That’s right.”

As Flare watched over us, Belfist’s face slowly approached mine.

It was a little embarrassing to be watched.

Although I was somewhat anxious, Belfist’s hands pulled me towards him with a gentle and slow toucht hat didn’t feel forceful.

I realized that he was leaving me room to free myself.

Moved by that small kindness, I closed my eyes.

And then. . .we kissed.

An act that lovers do to confirm each other’s feelings.

I had only seen it in stories before.

I had come across that kind of description many times.

But you only understand it once you experience it.

Kissing is soft. . .and warm.

Feeling the other person’s presence strongly, I savored this moment.

Even though the area of contact was small, I was filled with an irresistible feeling.

Something flowed into me from him.

Along with warmth, a wave of powerful force like a torrent.

And deep inside, something cold and dark was sleeping.

I understood.

This must be his soul.

Our lips parted.

Feeling a little regretful.

“Is it over?”

“Yeah, the contract is complete.”

“I see. . .”

“What’s the matter? Did you want it to continue a bit longer?”

Belfist wore a mischievous smile.

I feel my cheeks flush, knowing that he has seen through me to some extent.

I deny it, trying not to let him see.

“Too bad. I’m not that innocent.”

“Is that so? That’s a shame…”

His expression, as if he could see through me…was a bit irritating, but I couldn’t say anything.

Claiming not to be innocent was a blatant lie.

I can still feel the warmth lingering on my lips, and my heartbeat was faster than usual.

“Slayer-san, are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Are you really, really okay?”

“No need to worry.”

There was nothing wrong with my body.

Even after the contract was over, there didn’t seem to be any particular physical restrictions.

With this, I will become his wife, and he has decided to guarantee my safety for life.

I confirmed it with Belfist.

“What about your power?”

“. . .Unfortunately, it’s still unrecovered.”

“I see.”

As expected, it seemed that the gap in my heart was not caused by my unease.

“In that case, the contract is invalid!”

“Too bad. Once a contract is made, it cannot be broken unless one of us dies.”

“Then please, Bel-san!”

“You’re a persistent woman…”

Flare pouted in anger.

Certainly, it may seem futile, but at least one possibility has been eliminated.

If he wasn’t the cause of the gap in my heart, then. . .

“What is it exactly. . .”

“What on earth. . .”

I don’t understand.

Even if I think about it quickly, I can’t come up with anything.

Seeing me troubled, Belfist speaks up.

“Well, why don’t you find out for yourself? See it with your own eyes.”

“I am thinking about it.”

“No, that’s not it. Don’t just think about it, confirm it with your own eyes. Your true feelings. . .you can do it now.”

As he says that, Belfist pointed his finger.

He touched my forehead lightly.

In an instant, my consciousness began to fade.

“Huh. . .”

“Slayer-san!”

◇◇◇

My vision suddenly turned completely dark.

Before I knew it, I was standing alone in a completely white, empty space.

“Where is this. . .?”

“Welcome to the spiritual world.”

“Bel. . .”

When I turn around, he was standing there.

Pathetic as it may be, I felt a bit relieved.

“What did you do?”

“Our souls are connected. That’s why we can peek into each other’s minds like this. This is your spiritual world. . .inside your heart.”

“My heart. . .”

I looked around.

There was nothing.

Beyond plainness, it was blindingly white.

“Don’t worry. It’s going to start now.”

“Start?”

“Take a good look. You’re already seeing it.”

At his signal, images began to flow in my previously pure white field of vision.

Countless different scenes spread in all directions.

“This is. . .”

My memories.

My own… memories from the time I was reincarnated as a Slayer until today.

I was looking at them from an objective point of view.

Along with the memories, the emotions and thoughts of each moment also came flowing back.

Even though it was about myself, it felt strange to look at them again like this.

“A lot has happened.”

In terms of time, it was short.

But each day was vivid and filled with intense changes.

I could see myself living as a Slayer.

There were also figures of people who changed by being involved with me.

“Ah, I see.”

I finally understood.

What I was troubled by.

The reason for a gap in my heart. . .

It was guilt.

Chapter 44: Take a closer look

I woke up from my dream and opened my eyes.

I could see the blue sky with clouds drifting by.

Right beside my field of vision was Flare, watching over me with a worried expression.

“Slayer-san! Thank goodness. . .are you awake?”

“. . .”

I turned my gaze

To Belfist, who was standing behind her.

With his power, she was invited into the spiritual world, and her physical body seemed to be sleeping.

“Did you have a good dream?”

“. . .not really.”

“Oh, I see. You understand now?”

“Yes.”

I slowly sat up.

“Are you okay?”

“. . .”

“Slayer-san?”

“It’s not. . .Flare.”

“Huh?”

“I’m not Slayer Raeburn.”

That was the problem I was facing.

The cause of the gap in my heart.

By objectively observing my own form and emotions in the spiritual world, I came to understand.

I was made to understand.

That I was merely an impostor, playing the role of Slayer Rayburn.

And yet, I had changed Flare’s. . .their future.

I had deviated from the ending that was supposed to come and distorted their fate.

All for my own survival.

To avoid my destruction and end. . .

“I always had a sense of guilt inside me. I just didn’t realize it. . .no, I was avoiding it.”

“Slayer-san. . .”

“I distorted the fate of many people for my own purpose. And I’m sure the one who was affected the most. . .was you, Flare.”

If this world is meant to follow the predetermined fate of the story I know… then I have taken it upon myself to fulfil the role of the protagonist, Flare, without permission.

As a result, Flare became my friend and was helping me with my plan.

Such a future was not supposed to be prepared.

It’s too late to regret now.

Once the clock’s hands start moving forward, they can’t be turned back.

I can’t redo the past or make everything that happened until now disappear.

That was why I felt regret.

All I can do now is just. . .apologize.

“. . .I’m sorry, Flare. I. . .”

“――Sigh, Slayer-san.”

“. . .”

“Did you really care about something so trivial?”

“. . .Huh?”

Flare, looking exasperated, appeared in my field of vision.

I stood still, staring at her in confusion.

“Listen, okay? Slayer-san, I am me. Even if I have the same name, the same circumstances, and the same appearance as the protagonist in the story you know, I am still me.”

Flare placed her hand on her chest.

As if gently confirming the location of her heart.

“Alright! I’m going to check on everyone that Slayer-san helped!”

“What? Where?”

“It’s decided! We’re going to see the people you helped!”

Saying that she grabbed my hand.

She forcefully pulled me along as we ran.

I moved my feet so as not to fall and followed her.

“Bell-san, you’re coming too!”

“Heh, well, I suppose.”

Belfist followed after us, exasperated.

I followed her to the school as she told me to.

The first place we headed to was Leone and Meigen’s place.

We found them in the training room.

“What’s wrong, Meigen! This isn’t like you!”

“. . .sigh, of course. I can still go on!”

“That’s the spirit!”

We secretly observed the two of them.

“Did you know? Lately, those two have been staying after school to practice together a lot.”

“I see.”

“Yes! Look at them. . .they both look so happy.”

“. . .”

The two of them, fighting side by side, were lively and carefree.

Leone’s gap in his heart was that he couldn’t find the meaning of becoming stronger.

By hearing his father’s true intentions, he learned what strength really meant.

What is the purpose of becoming strong?

Has he found it now?

I don’t know, but he has grown since the last time we fought.

For Meigen, who was with him, Leone was an object of admiration.

He admired his strength and dignified demeanour, secretly harbouring feelings of inferiority.

By facing his own weakness and overcoming it, he gained the courage to move forward.

Now, they have truly become friends.

“Let’s move on to the next one!”

Flare took my hand and headed to the next location.

The destination was the library.

He was always here.

“Oh, there he is.”

“Billy, you’re still here in the library as usual.”

He has always been spending a lot of time in the library.

His solitary figure reading books didn’t change.

But looking at the titles of the books piled up, I realized.

“He was reading a lot of books other than magic books.”

“He seemed to be looking for new hobbies. He wanted to have fun learning things other than magic.”

He was called a genius mage.

It was the influence of his deceased parents that made him so.

He seemed to have misunderstood it as a curse, but there are no parents who would curse their own child.

Billy’s parents just wanted him to be happy, even if it meant sacrificing their own happiness.

That was all.

Knowing their feelings, his heart was filled.

It seemed like he was no longer obsessed with just magic.

“Next person, please!”

Without asking, Flare pulled me along.

I didn’t resist.

I gradually understood what she wanted to convey.

Chapter 45: My Own Story

As I walked down the hallway with Flare, I suddenly saw him.

My former fiancé, the man who had rejected me twice.

Alma was surrounded by many women.

“Alma-sama! If it’s alright with you, would you like us to have a meal together sometime?”

“Sure.”

He still had the same fake smile.

He behaved like a nobleman, friendly and without any offense.

At first glance, he seemed unchanged.

“But, I’m sorry. We’ve only talked once, and I don’t think we have much in common, so I’ll decline the meal.”

“Huh. . .I see.”

“Yeah, sorry about that.”

“. . .I’m surprised.”

It was unlike Alma, who I knew, to flatly refuse a woman’s invitation like that.

He had his surroundings and his position to consider.

I thought he would at least be friendly.

He had changed too.

He’s trying to change himself beyond his status and power as a noble.

He was being honest about his feelings.

Seeing me change, he imitated me.

“Are you up to no good again?”

“Ah! Seika-senpai!”

Seika appeared behind us without us noticing.

Surprised, Flare had instinctively put Belfist in front of her.

“What do you want?”

“What. . .ugh, you’re so rough with people.”

Belfist faced his friend.

“We’re not up to anything. We were just strolling around the school and happened to see someone we knew.”

“Is that so? I thought you were up to something again.”

“I am up to something. But I can’t tell you what it is.”

“That’s strange. Is there something you’re hiding from me, my friend?”

“It goes both ways.”

These two are friends, but they have a unique sense of distance between them.

Even after seriously clashing with each other, that hasn’t changed.

“Keep it moderate. You guys stand out.”

“I know.”

Seika gave only a warning and was about to leave.

While watching his departing figure, Bellfist called out to him.

“Seika!”

“What?”

He turned around.

Belfist pointed at him with a proud expression.

“You look better than before.”

“――! Is that so?”

“Ah, just a little bit, though.”

“Heh.”

Seika smiled and turned his back to us, walking away.

I didnt understand it, but it seems Bellfist, his friend did.

He understood Seika’s change…

Suddenly, Flare popped up in my field of vision.

“How was it?”

“How was what…?”

“How was everyone’s demeanor? Did anyone have a dissatisfied expression?”

“. . .No, not at all.”

No, on the contrary. . .

“Everyone seemed to be having fun, right?”

“――Yes, that’s right.”

Certainly, it looked that way.

Leone, Meigen, Billy, and Alma too.

“Seika as well.”

The five heroes I had changed were all living their lives with vigor and vitality.

Flare turned around with her hands behind her back and started talking.

“I’m sure Slayer-san thinks that the events in the book were a source of happiness for everyone, right?”

That’s right.

Their feelings were written in the book, and when they reached the ending, their hearts were dyed with happiness.

That’s why the right ending for them… was to follow the story as it was written.

Because that was what i thought, I felt overwhelming guilt for distorting things..

“Is that really true?”

Flare asked.

seeing me troubled.

“Look at me! I’m not the protagonist that Slayer-san described! I’m leading a completely different life, but I’m incredibly happy!”

“Flare. . .”

“Everyone else is the same. They all seemed happy now. It’s because of Slayer-san.”

Everyone was able to find happiness because I changed things.

Flare gently assured me of that.

But in reality, she should have been the one fulfilling that role.

“It’s not me, it’s what you were able to do.”

“That may be true. But I like where I am now. Everyone is happy, Slayer-san is here, and this person is here too.”

“You don’t need to say ‘this person is here’.”

The two of them glared at each other.

Then she laughed and looked at me.

“I’m happy. I don’t know how happy the me in the book was. Besides, there’s no such thing as a ranking for happiness. If both are happy, that’s good enough. I’ll say it as many times as I need to. I’m happy! Because I became friends with Slayer-san.”

“――Flare.”

Her bright smile illuminated my heart.

As warmth filled me, I felt a sense of fulfillment.

“You’re too influenced by the book.”

“Bell. . .”

“A book is a book, a story that someone somewhere imagined. But the reality that exists here and now, that we are experiencing, is undoubtedly our own.”

“That’s right! For us, there is only the current Slayer-san!”

Their gazes were directed straight at me.

I felt like they were really seeing the Slayer within me. . .

As if telling me that it was okay for me to be here.

“I’m not. . . Slayer.”

“For us, Slayer-san who is here is everything.”

“. . .I’m not the protagonist.”

“That’s only in the book, right?”

The two of them said in unison.

Directed towards me, who was nothing more than a villainess. . .just playing a role.

“Listen, okay? This is Slayer-san’s life! So, the protagonist of that life is Slayer-san.”

“There are no supporting roles. You’re always the protagonist of your own life, just like we are. You… you’re the protagonist of your own life.”

Their words filled my heart.

I see.

This isn’t the story of the book I know.

It wasn’t the story of Slayer Raeburn either.

The path I’m going to take, the destination I’ve chosen. . .

It’s my own story.

“――Thank you.”

With a clear heart, I expressed my gratitude.

Towards my bright and kind friends, and my husband who was bound to me by soul.

This was my life.

It was a story of me. . .grasping happiness.


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