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Side Story 2[B]
We continued to spend our days outdoors, journeying for a few days.
Eventually, we arrived at a location where we could see the next village.
By the way, even as we were travelling by foot, it would naturally be troublesome to keep getting exhausted, so I cheated a bit using magic to prevent this.
Mary was also a recipient of this magic, and she was quite satisfied with it.
Meanwhile, since Vernell told me with a smile that “I’m not so fragile to need support of that magic,” I didn’t cast it on him.
However, I still cast purification magic on him without a care for his opinion to get rid of any filth on him.
My apologies, but I wouldn’t tolerate any stinkiness as a former Japanese.
“It sure is a big village.”
I gave my honest opinion of the village as soon as it came into view.
All of the villages I had seen until this moment had been in a terrible state.
Rather than calling them villages, it was more correct to say that they were the remains of what used to be villages.
That was how ruined they were, how much they lacked any sense of liveliness in them.
However, the village we were currently about to enter still had some buildings that stood tall, and the scale of it was big enough for it to be considered a town instead.
The people inside of it were moving industriously; at the very least, there seemed to be no corpses lying around.
“Aah, that sure surprised me. To think a village like this still exists even with the world’s current state.”
Vernell-san happily said that as his gait quickened.
There was still a place in this world where human activity still continued. This fact must have been very good news to him.
There was a gatekeeper stationed in front of the village, and his eyes went wide when he saw Vernell-san.
He blinked several times, as if to confirm what he was seeing, before he called out.
“You are… it can’t be. Vernell-san?”
“…Have we met somewhere before? I’m sorry, but I don’t recognize you.”
“Aah. You probably never knew about a common knight like me, but I know about you. I had also participated in the battle against Alexia and the capital defense against the ‘Witch.’ Well, I had only fought mooks during the battle against Alexia, and I got quickly blown away by ‘Witch’ and knocked unconscious under the rubble though…”
It seemed that this gatekeeper-san used to be a knight.
I heard that Guard Knights had all been annihilated, but it seemed that some of the common knights had managed to survive.
As for why Vernell-san didn’t recognize him… well, there was no way he could remember every single knight; there had been a lot of them. It wasn’t like they’d ever actually talked before either.
On the contrary, it wouldn’t be weird for a common knight to remember about Vernell-san, the Prime Knight who had stood directly beside Eterna.
“How ironic. For all of the courageous and strong knights to fall in battle, yet a weak one like me somehow managed to survive.”
As the gatekeeper spoke, his voice trembled with regret. Vernell-san gently tapped on his shoulder.
There were no words of consolation, but it seemed that his encouragement was properly conveyed.
The gatekeeper gave a little nod, and both men seemed to have an unspoken conversation through their eyes.
Uhoo, what a great dude, or something like that? … Sorry, I’m just joking.
“As of now, I’m currently serving as the head of the vigilante corps of this Erbaccia 1 village after the village head picked me up. By the way, why did you come here?”
“I’m here because I heard about a sighting report of the ‘Witch.’ So I can kill that bastard.”
“The ‘Witch’… but isn’t that…”
“I know. But don’t say it. This is all I have left in me now.”
The gatekeeper probably meant to say that he couldn’t win even if he challenged the “Witch”, but Vernell-san went ahead and stopped him.
Well, it was kind of a shitty game since the “Witch” couldn’t be defeated through normal methods of combat.
Vernell-san didn’t need anyone to tell him that he has no chance of victory as he was already well aware of it.
Even when I had fought back then, it had returned even after I’d expelled it to outer space. It was that kind of foe after all…
“Oh, do we have a guest, Mov-kun2.”
“Vi, village head! And the assistant village head is with you as well!”
Oops, it seemed that the village head we’d just talked about appeared.
This seemed to be the case since the entrance of the village got noisy.
It seemed that visitors were rare in this day and age as the villagers made the effort to observe us from afar.
I was quite curious as to why 70 percent … No, 80 percent of the gazes were directed toward me, but I was already quite used to it, so I figured it would probably be okay.
The village head was a tall man with a slightly gaunt face, and black hair that was tied in a low ponytail.
There were a few strands of hair haphazardly hanging over his forehead, while the rest of it was slicked back, and he wore a broken pair of glasses.
Isn’t he that Perverted Glasses Bastard (Supple)?!
“Aren’t you Supple?!”
Vernell-san shouted a paraphrased version of what was going through my mind.
“Yo, you are… Vernell?!”
Meanwhile, the Perverted Glasses Bastard was also surprised and stepped back a bit from Vernell.
Thinking about it, the version of him in this World line kidnapped Eterna, got beat down by Vernell-san, and then got expelled from the academy, so he probably had a bad relationship with Vernell.
Unlike Elrise, Supple’s situation after he got expelled never got mentioned, and he was just written out of the story… So he had actually survived the catastrophe somehow.
“What’s happening here? It’s so noisy.”
A figure of a woman approached from behind Supple as she spoke.
She was probably the assistant village head.
She was also gaunt. Her skin had turned rough, but one could tell she had once been beautiful. What a waste.
She had brown hair, and a bountiful bust that gave her an appealing presence…
…Isn’t she Farah-san?!
“Aren’t you Farah-sensei?!”
As Vernell-san shouted this, both of them immediately recognized each other.
Ah— I see. Since this was the World line of the Eterna route, Farah-san is still alive.
As Vernell-san moved to grasp his sword, Supple and Farah-san immediately cried out in their defense.
“Wa, wait a moment! We no longer have any reason to fight against you!”
“That’s right! Or rather, I had been manipulated by the Witch to fight you back then. You are also aware of that, aren’t you?!”
Even as both of them panicked, Vernell-san’s rugged expression didn’t relax.
Perhaps he knew that, logically speaking, attacking these two people would only trouble the villagers here.
He might have reflexively reached out to grasp his sword, but I didn’t think he had any real intention of fighting with them. Vernell-san wasn’t that foolish.
However, considering they had antagonistic relationships before… and they had been involved in things that put his beloved Eterna into great danger, he couldn’t just say “Let’s forget past grievances and get along.”
As a result, he was stuck in this state of limbo where he didn’t know what stance he should take against them. At least, this was my impression of the current situation.
Well, in cases like this, it was better for an outsider to interfere.
“Calm down, Vernell-san. There is no meaning in fighting here.”
“…Since you’re the one saying it, then I guess it can’t be helped.”
After I asked him to not fight, Vernell-san sincerely removed his hand from his sword.
Then, as both of us turned around…
“Village head! In the sky! In the sky… there are black clouds!”
Ah— damn, what’s wrong now?! We were just about to settle things peacefully.
Was there a girl descending from the sky? I would be glad if it truly happened, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
Armed men ran from the other side of the village, screaming about something with a pale expression.
They were probably members of the vigilante group, but based on their expression, it looked like the situation wasn’t as it should be.
They looked as if the world was about to meet its end; their lips trembled and their teeth chattered in fear.
As people looked toward the direction they pointed at, the villagers also made similarly desperate expressions.
Perverted Glasses Bastard and Farah-san expressions were twitching a lot, and Mary also became fearful.
However, contrary to how everyone else was reacting, Vernell-san’s face broke into a ferocious smile.
Some distance away from the village… There were black clouds hovering in the sky above.
However, these were not just mere dark clouds. The faces of the past generations of witches were growing around it, and they were laughing loudly as if they were sneering upon the world.
Ah, “Witch”-san. Long time no see~.
It has been a while since I last saw you, but it is nice to see you’re still laughing as you usually do.
“Wh, why did the ‘Witch’ come here… It deviated from the course that the village head predicted…”
The gatekeeper-san spoke this with a trembling voice. It seemed that the “Witch” suddenly changed its course and was heading towards this village.
Perhaps the Perverted Glasses Bastard had predicted the “Witch’s” course and decided that this area would be safe for some time.
However, it still headed for this place for some reason.
It would be unreasonable to expect them to be able to predict this sudden change in course, especially considering that the “Witch” had no intelligence. It was as if it was messing with them on purpose.
However, this was something that, unfortunately, was bound to happen.
Because it’s true identity was an amalgamation and physical manifestation of negative emotions. It hated positive emotions like hope, so it would immediately prioritize destroying any sources of feelings like that.
And currently, the location with the highest concentration of positive feelings in this world was this village.
Therefore, from the “Witch’s” perspective, it would be “Oh, I feel positive emotions growing there. I’ll destroy it!” So this was the obvious result.
“Good timing. This saves me trouble searching all over for it. Yo, it’s been a while, bastard… I wanted to meet you so much…!”
Vernell-san’s face wore a dangerous smile, and a vein popped out on his forehead as he wielded his sword.
I told you that look was really scary.
Although he was, indeed, a protagonist whose personality developed based on how the player raised him, wasn’t his current state way too radical?
Vernell-san emitted a black aura around his body and imbued that aura to the sword. It seemed that he gained complete control of the Witch’s power in his body.
The “Witch” ignored Vernell-san and continued to approach the village, while Vernell-san ran toward the “Witch.”
Vernell-san raised his sword and roared. The tip of his sword elongated with black mana that formed an extended blade that slashed at the ‘Witch.’ I doubted that it would have any effect though.
A slash, two slashes, three — he swung the gigantic blade around easily, cutting the “Witch” with each strike.
However, that wouldn’t be enough to defeat the “Witch” which was practically mana itself.
Rather, since it was an enemy that could only be defeated by dumping positive feelings on it, there was no point to Vernell-san’s attacks, regardless of how strong they might be.
On top of that, Vernell-san hit it with hatred, which was a kind of negative feeling. With that, he was already in a rut even before the fight.
Thinking about it again, it sure possessed messed up features.
It was obvious that it would spread hatred and resentment by rampaging all around. Yet fighting “Witch” with such feelings in mind would just guarantee your loss. It was set up that way.
The “Witch” produced several tentacles and used those to attack Vernell-san.
Some of those tentacles were deflected using Mary’s ice magic, and Vernell-san also managed to cut down some of them, but he failed to block them all and they struck Vernell.
However, even as Vernell-san was struck by the impact of these blows, his legs refused to bend and he continued attacking even as he coughed out blood.
As expected of a character whose level has reached the counter stop. He was amazing.
Then the “Witch” grew more faces all over its form, and these faces opened their mouths simultaneously before shooting destructive beams of energy.
If I recalled correctly, this was the attack that had destroyed Perverted Glasses Bastard’s golem in one shot.
The beam hit ground zero, and Vernell’s figure disappeared within the explosion and smoke.
Mary shouted tearfully.
However, at the next moment, Vernell-san swung his sword, blowing the smoke away and struck the “Witch.”
Blood was pouring from several wounds all over his body, but it seemed that he was still quite energetic.
Vernell-san smiled ferociously despite how his body was covered in blood.
“Is this all you can do, oh ‘Witch’-sama! I am not dead yet!”
Vernell-san was seriously amazing.
So this was what happened once the protagonist hit MAX level. He could practically no longer be considered a human…
Vernell-san, you were sturdier than a golem despite being made flesh and blood LOL.
…Oops, this was bad. Since I was suddenly witnessing a battle with the Final Boss, I was dumbfounded at how Vernell-san’s strength went beyond the realm of humanity, but this wasn’t the time for me to calmly watch the scene.
Well, my apologies for interrupting your enjoyment of these feelings of despair, but I will defeat you right away.
This was supposed to be a losing event… but unfortunately for you, I was here.
It might be a bit KY3 for me to interrupt the battle and defeat it while they were busy in action, but it should be fine.
In the meantime, I shot a thick beam at the laughing “Witch” as a greeting.
The beam pierced through half of the “Witch’s” body and went way over the horizon, before producing a huge explosion a fair distance away.
Vernell-san was shocked due to my sudden interference.
Well, I’d never shown him this kind of flashy attack after all.
The first Aurea Libertas I shot back when we’d first met had been severely controlled so it wouldn’t hit Vernell and Mary.
The “Witch” soon returned to its former state, and all the faces of the generation of witches simultaneously turned to face me.
It seemed that I was being properly recognized as an enemy at this moment.
All of its faces opened their mouths and shot several beams toward me, but there was no way that would be effective against me.
I didn’t even need to evade it. I just repelled it back using my barrier to show off the difference between our powers.
On top of that, I then dropped a beam from the sky to erase the dark clouds, forcefully clearing the sky. I also cast growth magic, forcefully making the plants instantly grow.
What did it look like? From their perspective, it would seem that my masterful skills changed a dark wasteland into a bright grassland.
“Is this… a miracle…?”
“O, oo… ooo…! I am not mistaken… ‘The real one’ does exist!”
The gatekeeper-san was stunned as he muttered thos words, while the Perverted Glasses Bastard seemed to be saying something.
Well then, it wasn’t like I was showcasing all of this for no reason whatsoever.
As I said before, we could only defeat the “Witch” through positive emotions… In other words, I needed to dump the light of the human heart upon it.
However, there was no way that enough light of the human heart could be generated in the previous state of despair that the people were in.
Therefore, I first needed to destroy the state of despair and change it into a state of hope, and ensure that everyone who witnessed this had hope in their hearts.
Well then, with this, the preparation was complete. All I needed to do was to finish it off.
Everyone in the village! Give me energy!4
“The Sun Shines Upon All Alike.”
I lifted my hand above my head, and used magic circulation to gather all the mana in the surrounding area.
Since I had no resistance against positive feelings, it might be dangerous for me to directly take it all in, so I gathered it in my palm to shoot it at the “Witch” instead.
The last time I did this, I was in a state of gathering the light from the hearts of tons of people, which caused me to break out of my character… I wouldn’t repeat the same mistake.
White radiance gathered above my hand and formed a big ball of light that looked like a miniature sun that shone its light on everything.
Prepare yourself, “Witch”! With this one attack…
With this one attack… one attack…
—Ah, no good. I doubt this would be enough to defeat it…
All I needed was to finish it off, but it was at this moment that I realized my mistake.
Yep, I could tell for certain from what I gathered; this was not good enough. It totally lacked the necessary firepower.
To be more precise, there wasn’t enough light of the human heart. This wouldn’t be able to finish the “Witch.”
Well, I understood why this happened though.
There were simply not enough people involved. That was all it was.
I used a nation’s worth of light of the human heart last time, and since I just showed the miracle (lol) of reviving myself, everyone was in a state of excitement. As such, the lights from their hearts were also much more potent.
On the contrary, I only gathered the lights from a village’s worth of people this time. On top of that, I wasn’t as well known in this World line.
Elrise’s name might be famous in a bad way though…
There was no way I could have gathered enough light of the human heart, and the sun I managed to conjure…
Well, if I was lucky, it might be able to permanently weaken the “Witch” by solving the curse of the past generation of Witches to some extent.
However… it would be impossible to defeat it. With what I currently have, yes, it would be completely impossible…
No good. Now I’m also stuck too.
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Also, Tsukii has picked up a new series called “A Story of a Cannon Fodder who Firmly Believed He was the Protagonist, Misunderstood the Actual Protagonist as the Cannon Fodder, and Ended up Victorious!” The title really says it all. Early access to more chapters for this story is available on Patreon.