ãIt was a little past nine in the morning, a little late for that.
ãWhen Rinne woke up, he moistened his throat with mineral water from his bedside table and let out a breath.
ãNext to Rinne, Nana is sleeping without even a single sound of sleep.
ãNothing has changed. Rinne repeatedly felt this way about the sleeping Nana.
ãBasically, Nana does not make any noise in her life. It is the same when she walks and when she sleeps. As a young girl, Rinne once thought that she was like a ninja because she made no sign of life.
ãNana must not be able to hear anything even if she were to fall asleep.
ãWhile thinking about such unimportant things, Rinne looked at the sunlight leaking through the blackout curtains. It looks like it's another ridiculously nice day.
ãToday is the day before the event. It was going to be a busy day for Rinne, as he had to get back to Pheas.
ãNana had a few things to do as well, but there was no sign of her getting up.
ãNana was sleeping very quietly.
ãSince the other day, when she had slept for more than a full day, Rinne had woken up more often to find Nana asleep.
ãNana, who should have no problem sleeping an average of about three hours, has been going to bed earlier and waking up later than Rinne.
ãLinnea herself values sleep, and gets at least six hours every day. Nevertheless, this phenomenon occurs every day.
ãIt's not unusual to see her sleeping more than eight hours a night. As someone who knows Nana well, I can't help but feel this way.
ãWhile it was undoubtedly a blissful time to be able to watch Nana sleep, Rinne thought it would be hard to give up the fact that she would gently snuggle up to her when she woke up, or that she would greet her in her apron.
ãHowever, this was not the first time that Nana had been like this.
ãAs far as Rinne could remember, it was the third time.
ãSo she wasn't worried, but given the fact that they couldn't be together in the game, she really wanted to be able to make out with him at least when they were in real life.
ãShe shook her shoulder while calling out lightly, but Nana didn't wake up, and instead, Rinne held her hand.
ãThis is a sign that she doesn't want to wake up.
ãShe subconsciously knows that if she holds her hand, she will never let go. This is a habit Nana has had for a long time when she wants to be pampered.
'I can't ...... help it.
ãIt's a weakness when she does this. You can't say no to her when she spoils you, just as you can't say no to her when she spoils you.
ãMore than that, Rinne knows that it takes a lot of courage for Nana to hold hands with her.
ãNana is afraid of touching human skin.
ãEver since she was a very young girl, when she crushed her mother's hand. Nana has always lived in fear of destroying the people she cares about.
ãEver since she was little, ever since. Now that she's with Rinne, she's able to control her strength, but she's still scared of herself.
'Don't worry, I'm here.
ãRubbing Nana's slightly pained face, Rinne gave up on getting out of the futon and lay down to snuggle with her.
ãI wonder if she's having a bad dream. Perhaps she is. The Nana I see now is very similar to the one I had six years ago.
ãI'm sure I've forgotten about it, but the memory still haunts me from beyond oblivion.
ãStill, this is not something that Rinne can do anything about. Yes, she understood that.
ãAll Rinne could do was to be there for Nana.
ãNana must overcome this on her own. The trauma of the past, the emotions that had been bottled up.
ãAll it takes is a little trigger, and Nana will remember. However, Rinne didn't have an answer for what to do about that trigger.
'I hope the time comes as soon as possible,' she said.
ãAs she stroked the back of Nana, who was lying on her side, she could see the frown on her face slowly melt away.
ãIt was only a premonition, but Rinne thinks that this event might be the start of it.
ãAll she can do is wait for that moment to come.
'But well, ...... for now, I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
ãSince the first day. That's right, Rinne hasn't been able to play with Nana for almost two weeks, even though he invited her to WLO to play with him.
ãAlthough she had a lot on her mind, Rinne's first priority was to enjoy the event with Nana.
ãIn front of the blazing furnace, Haruru beats the steel while exhaling bitterly.
ãThe steel is blacker than black, like a darkness that swallows up even the light, and she beats it, beats it, beats it. The steel, which has lost its luster, returns a terrifying load to Ruru's arms with each strike.
ãOver-heavy metal. A super-heavy metal created by melting, mixing, and increasing the purity and density of heavy metal.
ãThe more than ten dark-colored ingots lying around Haruru were all Overheavy Metal ingots.
ãgong...... gong....... Such a heavy sound, reminiscent of the tones of a bell, rang out in Haruru's workshop.
ãHaruru looks as if she's about to collapse, but she's laughing and swinging her hammer with joy.
ãIt's all for the sake of Sukuna, who has the talent to use this.
ãYes, that's the crystallization of Ruru's own desires. Or a weapon that could be the first step.
ãWith a steady rhythm, Haruru continues to play endlessly.
ãIt has been more than two hours of single-minded forging.
ãThe forging with over-heavy metal was about to reach its climax.
ãThe fifth city, Griffith.
ãThere, in the clan house, Arthur swung his sword at a very slow speed.
ãThis is what Arthur calls a routine.
ãShe calls it 'the most important discipline'. No one could understand the meaning of her words, but Arthur said nothing more.
'Sir Arthur. The eight Knights of the Round Table are ready to gather now.
'Thank you for your hard work, Slew.'
ãArthur, who wielded his sword as if he were dancing, responded to Slew's call and delivered his sword.
ãArthur had called the members of the Round Table together for today's event.
ãKnights of the Round Table. It is a title given to the top 11 in the clan "Knights of the Round Table".
ãAlthough it is scheduled to change each month, the current knights are the eleven that were selected at the beginning. Even though the game has just begun, these are still some of the best swordsmen players in the world.
ãArthur sat down on a specially prepared chair and looked around at the knights in the clan house who were waiting for her to appear.
'Well, well, ......, you've gathered well. I'm especially sorry for the trouble Leo, Emi, and Nushi caused you.
'Not at all. In fact, the leader should treat us better.'
'Yes, yes, yes.
ãArthur called out to the two swordsmen. The first-ranked Leo and the fourth-ranked Erumi, who had rushed from the sixth city, knelt in front of Arthur without showing a single sign of dissatisfaction.
'The others have also made good time. Once the event is over, it will be time for the Selection again. I wanted to see the faces of the others before that.
ãThe Selection is a PvP tournament held once a month within the clan Knights of the Round Table.
ãThe results of the tournament are directly reflected in the pecking order of the Round Table.
ãThat means that the eight people in front of Arthur now are the survivors of the first selection.
'Hmmm, they all look different from three weeks ago. Especially Rankaidou. You seem to have improved your skills a lot.
'What!ãIs that so?ãI'm glad to hear that.
ãThe knight in full armor, Rankaidou, who was praised by Arthur, revealed his joy like a child.
ãHis rank is 6th. Since he was chosen as a knight of the round table, he had worked harder than anyone else to 'become stronger', and was more than happy to have his strength recognized.
ãWatching him with a smile, Arthur called out to him in the order he saw him.
'Don't be conceited, but be diligent. How is Shuya these days?'
'Hmm, not too bad. Oh, I found a restaurant that serves beetle food the other day, so I'll send you a location later.
ãWhile everyone is looking at you like, "What the hell has he been doing? ......," you have to admit that he is very good at understanding Arthur's tastes and finding new stores for him.
ãIf anything, Arthur's love for Shuya is due to his skill.
I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results.ã...... Hmm, did Melly and Belly change their weapons?
'Yes. I changed to a big sword.
'I have a curved sword.
'Hmm. Make sure you learn them during this event.
ãThe next to speak were the two twin swordsmen. Each was dressed in dress armor, like a warrior maiden.
ãThey were ranked eighth and ninth in the pecking order. Arthur nodded humbly and gave them a pep talk as they abandoned their one-handed swords and chose their own path.
'Benovenon, I heard you were killed by a murderous princess the other day.
ãFifth place, Benovenon. His weapon of choice is an extremely rare dagger and double-edged sword.
ãHe shrank back when Arthur called out to him.
'I must train myself so that I can strike back.
ãThere was nothing to lose by being killed by a PK.
ãBut that's the story of items and Iris. Knights of the Round Table are the face of the clan. If the ace of a large clan is defeated by a PK player, he has been tarnished in his own way.
ãArthur doesn't care about such things, but Leo mainly does.
ãAs a clan leader, she called out to Benovenon, hoping to make a point.
ã'Well,' said Arthur, opening his mouth after some preamble.
'The other day, Sukuna came to see me. Shuya approached me.'
'Oh. She's here, isn't she?
ãShuya said with a surprising expression, but the reason he himself had that expression on his face was because he had no reason to do more than ask her out.
ãHowever, Shuya reminded him that it was only natural that he would do so since there was a connection between Toka and Arthur.
'You're a player who's talked about a lot, but ...... seems like you'd make a good friend.
'Well, Master's friends can eat ...... ghetto ...... food, can't they ......?
ãWhether Arthur really meant it or not, it was a common understanding among the clan members that the only people Arthur would call friends were those he had eaten with.
ãThat's why everyone's heart was in sync with Rankaidou's slightly retracted words.
ãArthur, unconcerned about the change in atmosphere, changed the subject again.
'Now, let's talk about the event. I'm not going for the ranking, but what about you?
ãArthur himself is once again in a busy period, so he doesn't have enough time to aim for the ranking in the event.
ãHowever, as Arthur has read that this event is likely to have a certain impact on future strategies, he honestly wanted one of the Knights of the Round Table to win a high ranking.
ãIf they all spoke at the same time, no one but Prince Shotoku would be able to hear them.
ãSo they quietly raised their hands to show their intentions.
ãLeo and Erumi, two of the frontline attackers, were the first to raise their hands, and Benovenon also raised his hand, perhaps out of awkwardness.
ãMellie, Bery, and Rankaidou did not raise their hands. They are also players who, like Arthur, do not have much time during the event.
'Leo, Erumi, and Benovenon will do well. Oh, Shuya, you too?
ãTo Arthur's surprise, the daylight-sleeper Shuya raised her hand, albeit late.
'Yes, well. I've got a little free time on my hands.
It's going to be fun.
ãArthur smiled happily, and Sliu didn't have any particular comment to make.
ãArthur's valet. That was the style of play that was most important to him.
ãAs long as Arthur said that he would not take the event seriously, Slew would just go along with Arthur.
ãThe general flow of events was set.
ãIt was in the next moment that the clan house, which had started to loosen up a bit, became tense.
'Well, now that you're all here. If any of you wish, I'll give you a little hand-to-hand combat.
ãArthur's hand-to-hand combat. It was a time that could be called a miracle for those who had aspired to become Knights of the Round Table by admiring Arthur's swordsmanship.
ãEveryone's gazes intersected as Arthur slowly drew his sword.
ãWho will be the first to receive instruction? The biggest battle before the event was about to break out.
ãThe Great Sea of Trees spreads out not far from the Fifth Town. Amber was walking alone in the forest, aiming for the depths of the "Lost Forest".
ãIt had been several days since he had left Sukuna. The Lost Forest at twilight was beginning to cast a shadow of darkness in many places.
ãWhen he reached a place where the light of vermilion shone slightly, Amber suddenly stopped.
'I think it's time for you to come out.
ãIt was not a loud voice, but it was strangely deep and distant.
ãAmber chose a place where she would not be disturbed by anyone and called out to the owner of the gaze she had been feeling for the past few days.
'Hmmm, you've been noticed, haven't you?
ãAmber gulped when she saw the blond-haired, red-eyed girl who appeared as if covered in darkness.
ãIt was a color reserved only for bloodsuckers.
ãHe knew that, apart from travelers from other worlds, there was only one person in this world who possessed this color.
'Hello, demon princess. Is it nice to meet you?'
'Well, I suppose a nice to meet you would be more appropriate for us to exchange words, last of the bloodsuckers. Should I call you Tengyan?
'As you wish. There's only one person in this world I want to be called by name.
ãI'm not sure if it's a good idea, but I think it's a good idea.
ãHe is the strongest hero, the absolute one. He is the most powerful hero, the absolute one, and even though he is far superior to Amber, he looks like a little girl.
ãMelty Bloodheart, the world's last bloodsucker.
ãIt was a chance encounter with a monster that he had never encountered before, even though he had become one of the most powerful men in the world over the decades.
'So, what is it that you want?ãHave you come to destroy the demon village?
'Haha, you have a sense of humor.
ãAmber asked jokingly. This is a black joke that can only be made because we both know that it was the demon gods who once destroyed the bloodsuckers, but Melty laughed it off.
'You know that the gates will open tomorrow, don't you?
'Yes, of course. There were omens all over the world yesterday. It's been eight years this time. The stars are as fickle as ever.
ãMelty started off abruptly, but Amber nodded as if it was an expected topic.
ãIt is known as the Gate of Trials. It was a big hole that the Seventh Star King used to send his minions, the Apostles, through, and the Creator God had transformed it into an infinitely small entrance. ã
'That's what the stars are for. Last time I cleaned up the mess, but this time it's a different story. It will be a test for the gentile travelers and an entertainment for the inhabitants of this world.
'Considering their inquisitive minds and the rewards the Creator brings them, it is only natural. Above all, they have no concept of death. It would certainly be better to leave it to them than for the humans of this world to close the gates with their lives.
ãApostles of the Seven Star King. The Seven Star King's Apostles, also known as the Seven Star King's Family, are the spearhead of the invasion by the Seven Star Kings living in a different phase (sora), and are mankind's greatest enemy.
ãIf it cannot be defeated, humanity will be destroyed. Therefore, in order to protect mankind, the Creator God has reduced the Great Pit into a gate to delay the invasion of the Apostle.
ãIf the power of the Seven Star King swirling behind the gate is reduced, the strength of the descending apostles will be greatly reduced.
ãThat's why, even at great cost, the humans of this world have been deploying troops to defeat the apostles every time the gate opens.
ãBut this time, it will be left to the travelers of the other lands. As beings who have transcended death, they will be able to weaken the apostles more than ever before by fighting them endlessly.
ãIn that sense, Amber did not feel any problem at all, but there were some things that worried her.
'However, they are still young and immature warriors. No matter how much we weakened they are, I'm not sure they'll be able to slaughter an apostle.
ãAmber's concern was justified.
ãNo matter how much the power of the Seven Star King was reduced behind the gates, the Apostles would never die.
ãTheir power would be reduced, and they would be isolated in the Otherworld, where the warriors chosen by the Creator would challenge them in a final battle, and only if they could be defeated there would they die.
ãIt was not difficult to imagine that if they were defeated in the battle in the other world, they would reveal themselves to the world and the disaster of eight years ago would reappear.
'But if we go out there, we'll be hindering their growth.
'We can't help it, considering the potential loss of life.
'...... In any case, if I go out, I'll leave the surrounding area in ruins along with the apostles. I'll leave it to you this time. Of course, that's assuming they can't be defeated.
ãApostles are strong. Because they are also Named-class monsters or Named themselves.
ãAfter all, Melty probably came to Amber to ask for this. He was looking for someone who could eradicate the apostles without massive destruction, and he found Amber.
ãConvinced of this, Amber relaxed her shoulders.
'So, where are you planning to appear this time?
'In my view of the future, the city of beginnings. The worst of the selections.'
'The weakest place. If an apostle were to appear, it would be a terrible disaster.
'If you've been listening to the omens, you'll know that this gate will collapse in seven days. Make sure you get to the city of the beginning before then.
'Oh, a man of your stature asked me to do this. I'll make sure to protect you.
ãI'm not sure if Amber's response was enough, but Melty nodded reassuringly and turned himself around.
ãIt was a completely unexpected encounter, but it was a worthwhile time for Amber just because she had met the strongest hero.
It was a completely unexpected encounter, but it was worth the time for Amber just to meet the strongest hero.ãOr do you want to create a new demon god?
ãAt the sudden question, Amber, who had been trying to keep her eyes on the departing figure, froze involuntarily.
ãIt was because she could not understand the meaning of the question at all.
'Create?ãWhat the hell kind of ...... is that?'
'No, it's fine if you don't understand. You are undoubtedly a good being, and it would be rude to question you.
ãHe said this without looking at Amber, and Melty melted into the darkness.
'God's seal has a meaning. Just remember that.'
ãMelty's figure disappeared completely, and only his reverberating voice reached Amber.
ãThe overwhelming presence that seemed to crush everything also dissipated, and Amber exhaled heavily as she realized that he was completely gone.
'......The meaning of the seal, huh?
ãI've known that for a long time.
ãI'm not sure if I'm going to be able to do it, but I'm sure I'll be able to do it.