88-88 Above the clouds

 Next thing I know, I'm up in the clouds.

"──── What the hell is ────?

 I looked around in a foggy state of consciousness.
 Below me I could see white clouds stretching out like a plain as far as the eye could see.
 My body felt as if it were floating in the air, and I didn't feel any weight.

 Why am I here, ......?
 The scene I saw seemed to be exactly what my father had told me about the world that comes after death when I was a child.

 I'm not sure if you've seen this before, but I'm sure you've.

 ...... means that... Maybe, just maybe...

 ──── Am I dead?

 Well, maybe I was killed by that monster back then.
 My father, who loved to tell stories, told me that I would go up to the clouds when I died.
 So this is the world we come to after death.
 The whole area is covered with a pure white carpet, so fantastic that it seems out of this world.
 No, ...... is not "this world" anymore.
 I guess this is the "other world". ...... It's a bit complicated.

I was about to be convinced that I was ──── dead after all.

 I was about to be convinced like that, but then I suddenly felt uncomfortable.
 My body felt like it was floating in the air, but for some reason only my right hand felt unusually heavy.

I looked at my right hand and said, "...... what the hell is ......?

 I looked over and saw that I was holding a black sword in my right hand, as usual.

 Is this ......?
 I wonder why this sword is here.
 Could it be that I've been using it so much that it's followed me to the afterlife?
 Well, that may be the case.

 But I also noticed something strange.
 I'm supposed to be dead, but I'm aching all over.
 And the air around me feels very cold and thin.

 ...... I see.
 So you can still have pain and breathe after you die.

 But I've never experienced death before, so I was convinced that's how it really is.
 I was also impressed by the fact that you can discover new things even after death.

 I also felt a strange sensation in my body.


 This time it wasn't just my right hand holding the sword.
 Gradually, my body, which had felt like it was floating, seemed to be pulled downward.
 It seemed that I was being drawn to that fluffy white cloud floor.

 Strangely, I was not afraid.
 I'm not very good at heights, but the floor seemed to be soft, and the height and speed of the fall were not that bad.

 I guess I'm already dead once, and I shouldn't get hurt. Maybe.

 I was so relieved to think that.
 The moment I tried to touch the floor, which looked like a fluffy cloud, my body went through it almost without any resistance.

 ...... What's going on?

 I thought as I walked through the thick cloud-like substance that covered my vision.

 I thought I was going to land on a bed of white clouds and meet some non-human being with a white beard.
 When I was a child, my father, who was still alive, told me a fairy tale about something like that.
 I was looking forward to the idea of meeting such a being, but ...... I guess I was wrong.  

 ...... No, maybe...
 I'm not sure if it's the weight of the black sword I'm holding that's causing it to fall through the floor.
 The questions are endless.

 There's a lot to think about even after you're dead, I thought, as I watched the clouds drift upward in flight. ────

 After falling for a while, I started to feel a little uneasy.
 My body keeps falling.
 But I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere.
 And I feel like I'm falling faster and faster.  
 Where the hell am I going?

 Just as I was wondering this, my vision suddenly opened up.

 Suddenly, the light in front of me brightened, and I squinted to see what was going on around me. I seemed to have penetrated through a thick cloud and emerged below. When I looked up, I saw that what I had fallen through looked just like a cloud.

 Yes, I'm sure it was a cloud.
 I had never seen it this close before, but ...... it was definitely that cloud that I had always looked up at.
 It was ──── moving away from me at a great speed.

 ──── What the hell is this?

 You can see the ridges of the mountains in the distance as you look down a bit and look around.
 From the fantastic scene I had just seen, I suddenly felt that I was approaching a familiar landscape.
 It resembled the mountains I had seen from the window of the carriage on the way to the city of Mithra.
 It seemed more and more familiar to me.

 No, no.
 It's not a resemblance.
 Maybe it's the same mountains.
 I'm not very good at remembering people's names, but I'm pretty good at remembering terrain and scenery.
 Those are definitely the mountains around the city of Mithra.
 Those are definitely the mountains I remember.
 So, ────?

 ...... What does that mean, ......?

 I'm not sure what to make of this, but I think it's a good idea.

"────, no way, ────!

 It's a good idea to have a good idea of where you're going to be going.


 At that moment, I regretted it.
 I shouldn't have looked.
 Far off in the distance, I saw a familiar city and the roof of a familiar cathedral.
 I only looked down for a moment, and I could only see a small part of the city, but it was definitely the city of Mithra.

 So, is this the top of the city of Mithra(......)?

  ──── Yes, this is the sky.

 But that's weird.
 Why am I here?
 Just a moment ago, I was deep underground.

 ...... Well... Now I remember something.
 That skeletal monster suddenly hit me from below and sent me flying upwards, and I immediately plunged into the ceiling of the labyrinth, using my black sword as a shield. ────
 I lost consciousness from there.

 My head is throbbing with pain.
 So, does that mean that I went through the ceiling and was launched right above ......?
 So ──── I am now.

 That monster (skeleton) launched me up to the clouds, and I'm falling (・・・・・) from there.


 I looked again in the direction of my fall, and my body instantly stiffened in fear.

 And then I finally realized.

 ──── I knew I wasn't dead yet.


 As I began to comprehend my situation, I almost fainted again.

 I looked down and saw a well-shaped city in the distance.
 I'm sure that's the city of Mithra I was in a while ago.

 ...... It looks so small. ......?

 It's not that high.
 How far up did that single bone blow send me?
 And my body is helplessly approaching the city of Mithra below.
 This sight alone makes me dizzy.
 I feel like I'm going to lose consciousness.

 But I can't.
 If I lose consciousness and crash, I'm sure I won't make it.
 Feeling my body accelerating downward, I clenched my teeth desperately, trying to withstand the fear of falling.

 But ──── is strange.

 It's true that I'm not very good at heights.
 But I don't think I was this scared when I fell off a cliff with a suspension bridge when I was a kid.
 I can live with that now that I'm an adult.
 I thought so.

 So, what is this sickness?

 This is a little crazy.

 It's too fast.
 I'm falling straight to the ground at a speed I've never experienced before.
 The scenery (everything) in my field of vision is flowing away as if it were melting.
 I've never experienced such a speed before in my life.

 And for some reason, I haven't felt any wind in my body since a while ago.
 It's as if I'm using [shinobi-ashi].
 But it's not like I'm using it voluntarily. It doesn't even make sense. ...... Why on earth...

 After falling for a while, I realized the cause.

 ──── This is it. It's this sword.
 I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not, but it's a good idea.
 It's pulling me downward with tremendous force, slicing through the air barrier with its bladeless blade, removing all obstacles.
 It's the same situation as when I fell into the depths of the labyrinth earlier.
 I have no idea what's going on here.
 But this is really ...... bad.

 It's ──── too fast, too fast.
 It's too fast and the landscape is distorted and I can't see anything anymore except where my body is falling.

 I can't even speak out of fear.
 If I let my guard down even a little, I'll lose consciousness in an instant.
 I can't even slow down in the air anymore.
 In fact, I'm accelerating faster and faster.

 If I fall like this, I'll die.
 The only thing I can do now is to use this sturdy sword as a shield to soften the impact of the fall.
 At least, that's the only way I can think of to save myself.
 If I let go of this sword now, I'll definitely die.

 So I grasped the black sword with all my might, endured the fear, stared at the point where I was falling, and waited for that moment.


 I fell with my eyes wide open and screamed inaudibly in my mind.
 But I couldn't scream even if I wanted to.
 There's no time for that.

 The city of Mithra was closing in on me at an unbelievable rate.
 Just as I thought I saw the roof of the cathedral with a huge hole in it, I instantly passed through the hole and ────

 Beyond the hole, I saw a huge skeletal monster.

 Why was it there?
 I thought it was deep underground too.
 And then it suddenly feels dark.
 What's going on now ......?
 There are so many questions.
 But for now, ────

 ──── Nice place you got here.


 I swung my black sword as hard as I could and hit the skeleton's head with all the force I could muster and managed to escape the predicament.