□ Ray Starling
＜Old Loew’s Orchard＞
Currently, in the path we previously used to arrive at the Rem Fruit Field—where my brother had swept any and all insects in his way with the gatling gun—I couldn’t see a single trace of monsters. If it was now, we could run and cover in one go the distance of 5XX metars until the entrance of the dungeon.
Yet, this was going to be hard.
Now that I had started running at full speed for the first time, I understood that this game also had the notion of “fatigue”. And not only that, but probably affected by my present situation, my legs were shaking. Thoroughly enough, on my status screen the abnormal status 【Fear】 was being displayed.
Nonetheless, I pressed on, making it my priority to at least never let go of Miliane’s hand.
She also seemed to have been over-exerting herself, but still rushed with all her might. All the while, her face only expressed one emotion: fear. And scared as we were, our legs didn’t stop running.
“By the way…”
Trying to take the mind off our current circumstances, even if just a little, I called out to Miliane. Okay, whether it was to distract my mind or hers, I honestly didn’t know it myself.
“Miliane… Milia-chan, why did you come to a place like this just to pick 【Rem Fruits】?”
I wanted to both ask a simple question and also ease our minds with it.
“T-Today is… my big sis’ birthday… she, really loves rem cake, so I wanted to bake one for her…”
“Ohh, I see…”
“But, the shop did not have any left, so I got worried. But then, the glasses big bro there said 『If you have this incense, you will be able to pick the fruits in the ＜Orchard＞ outside of town』…”
It was that four-eyes’ fault.
I had no idea what the hell he was thinking when he told the little girl that, but I really want to punch the light’s out of someone who would throw a kid into such a dangerous place.
“I collected some rems and then my big sis came to pick me up, but then the effect of the incense ended…”
As we talked, we covered half of the total distance. Now we just needed to complete the other half. At this rate, we would really manage to escape.
Suddenly, a growl accompanied by an earth tremor came from behind us.
It was a reaction in the blink of a moment.
I held Miliane in my arms and jumped to the side.
The next moment, a 【Demi-Dragwurm】 that sprung forth from underground passed through the space we had been in just a second ago, its giant mandibles making gnawing noises.
Although I turned to look what was behind me, I could still hear the sounds of battle in the distance.
Liliana was still in combat.
Was that one of the two that were fighting her? Did it escape from the battle and come chasing after us?
Or was it part of the group that took my brother away into the ground?
…There was even the possibility that many more dragwurms were out there, but I didn’t want to strain my mind with that.
Still, the real problem here was that, no matter which alternative was correct, I had no means of going against that monster.
Praying, I tried looking at my status screen; however, I was still a level 0 and the ＜Embryo＞ on my left hand hadn’t hatched yet. Moreover, even if it had hatched, I hardly believed that a brand new ＜Embryo＞ would be able to rival an enemy whose skin couldn’t be pierced by my brother’s own ＜Embryo＞, a gatling gun.
As my heart pounded with fear and uneasiness, cold sweat flowed down my forehead and back. Everything felt so realistic I thought I was going to die from that alone.
Exposing its long body from the ground, the 【Demi-Dragwurm】 roared. It wasn’t something the monster had used to “intimidate a foe”. Rather, it was just the roaring laughter of the triumphant, stronger side.
“…So it’s over, huh.”
＜Old Loew’s Orchard＞, the 『Rookie Killer』. Looks like I’ll also be tragically meeting my first 『Death』 here.
Currently, while still in my arms, Miliane was crying.
She was an NPC… a tian. And differently from us players, she couldn’t come back after dying. From what my brother told me, if even someone as important as a king had died and stayed dead, I didn’t think that this girl would be any different. Here, in this world of ＜Infinite Dendrogram＞, she would obviously die.
“…Like I said, this would feel pretty bad. ”
I removed the 【Lifesaving Brooch】 from the equipment field and fastened it on Miliane’s clothes.
“Milia-chan. Could you run from here alone until you return to the entrance?”
The young girl looked up at me with unease in her eyes.
“You see, I just have to deliver a hard beating to that shitty centipede. It won’t take long.”
As soon as I said those words, the monster charged at us with its massive build.
I tossed Miliane away——and as if hit by a truck, my body was launched in the air.
It was a dreadful impact, way more violent that that time in the city, when I had collided with Liliana.
However, I was still alive.
I had taken 93 damage, and now had 5 HP left.
On the Equipment field that was still open, I could see that one of the four equipped 【Dragon Scale Substitutes】 broke down and disappeared. Since the effect of that 【Dragon Scale】 had decreased the damage of the monster’s charge by 90%, I managed to survive.
Then, I forced my numbed body to move and drank one of the 【Heal Potion Lv2】 from the Items field. My HP recovered completely and my body could freely move again.
When I shifted my line of sight, Miliane was still there.
“Go! I will do something about this monster!”
That was a lie, and a big one.
Of course I couldn’t do anything. But I would manage to buy some time for her to safely escape.
When she heard me, the little girl stood up and dashed towards the entrance. I was sure that if she reached the entrance and left the dungeon, there would be players and NPCs outside that could help her.
Then that’s fine, as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I was hit again and hurled away.
For the second time, I barely escaped death with a now broken 【Dragon Scale】, and again for the second time I fully recovered by using another 【Potion】.
“Hah! You’ll have to do it three more times for me to get the penalty for dying, you shitty centipede!”
As it attacked for the third time, I managed to avoid the charge. Even with a beginner’s status, if you timed your movements with perfection, it wasn’t impossible to dodge its strike.
In spite of that,
The wurm’s tail end moved around and caught me, sending my body flying.
With barely any changes from the other instances, the damage brought my HP again to the dead zone and another 【Dragon Scale】 was broken.
Only one scale left, I guess.
Miliane still hadn’t reached the entrance of the dungeon. At the very least, I had to buy time for her until she managed to escape.
When I thought as such,
The monster’s aim changed.
Twisting around its gigantic body, the 【Demi-Dragwurm】 set its sight in the young girl’s direction.
“Hey, where are you looking at, you damned…“
It stubbornly disregarded me and——just like that, charged towards Miliane.
“STOP RIGHT THEEEEEEEERE!!!!!!”
Although I ran at full speed, it wasn’t enough to keep up with the wurm, and its enormous body hit the girl.
——As if it were just a lone leaf blown by the wind, her small figure floated in the air.
Even the basket that she had been holding with great care escaped her hands, dropping to the ground.
Without any hesitation, I leapt in and caught her falling body. The moment I did so, my own body received the brunt of her fall, with an intense shock running through me and breaking the last 【Dragon Scale】.
But that wasn’t a problem right now.
While afraid of checking her condition, I looked at Miliane’s face. My heart complained in pain—a pain different than the physical one you would usually feel with your body.
She had lost consciousness, and, yet, was completely unharmed. Instead, the 【Lifesaving Brooch】 I had given her was broken. Apparently, even though it was Miliane wearing it, the brooch’s effect had safely activated.
However, the item had already been destroyed. Not only that, but my fourth and last 【Dragon Scale】 had suffered the same fate.
We now possessed no means of enduring any more strikes from the 【Demi-Dragwurm】.
Liliana was still in the middle of combat.
Absolutely nothing could be done about our situation anymore.
Letting out incomprehensible “words” right before us, while the monster had lost its temper over such a resilient prey, it seemed to be trembling in joy now that it was finally able to deliver the final blow.
Wanting to at least offer some resistance, as minimal as it was, I tried readying the knife that was part of my initial equipment. As soon as I removed it from its sheath, though, the knife blade fell apart. Seemed like it was broken without even seeing use, after the repeated strikes I had received.
The possibilities of Miliane and I surviving were already… zero.
I looked at the unconscious girl in my arms.
Her weight, her temperature, her breathing, her displayed emotions, everything felt no different from the real world.
As a living being—as an incredibly realistic living being—this girl existed here.
And following the same concept of death in the real world, that life would soon be extinguished.
“…DAMN IT AALL!”
I wasn’t about to give up now.
To me, a player, this was just a game world. There was no problem if I died.
But even though I understood this was a game, just the thought of this girl permanently disappearing from this world was enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Frustrated, I clenched my fist with everything I had. Buried on the back of that hand was the egg-like ＜Embryo＞, still in its 0th form.
“If an ＜Embryo＞ can bring the player… if you, can bring me… an infinite number of possibilities…”
…wish of you.
“Give me, the possibility…”
Right now, in front of the monster that has yet to deliver the coup de grace while raising its neck, I wish of you.
“Give me, the possibility of a happy ending, the possibility that could save this child, please…!”
To the embodiment of a world of possibilities, to the so-called “Infinite Dendrogram” that was in my left hand, I wished from the bottom of my heart.
“Awaken right now… and even if it’s just 1%, give me that possibilityyyyy!!”
The 【Demi-Dragwurm】 began its last charge…
『Oh, my Master is unexpectedly overbearing. Still, I was born from that side of you. I do not dislike it.』
In an instant, the lethal attack was stopped by someone.
Similarly to when my brother had disappeared underground, I wasn’t able to grasp what was happening in front of me.
The tragedy that was supposed to have occurred right before my eyes, didn’t; I simply couldn’t comprehend the impossible miracle that had just happened. The ＜Embryo＞ had disappeared from the back of my left hand, and in its place a crest had been left behind. Moreover, the 【Demi-Dragwurm】 that should have killed us was repelled by a wall of light and now had its body launched backwards. Finally, standing in the space between the monster and us was an unknown girl.
While a jet-black hair that fluttered in the wind and a skin that gleamed like white porcelain.
Her Gothic Lolita skirt, made of a black fabric and adorned with white frills, swayed around with refinement as she turned to look at me. Right there, I saw her eyes.
A dead of night, black color, coupled with the white of a starry sky.
Was the very first thing she said after opening her mouth.
“Hmpf, looking pretty perplexed there. Good grief, you are really unbelievable. Since youhad told me to awaken, I have been forced to do so.”
The mysterious tone of voice she had a while ago was now gone. However, from her words, I could formulate a guess about what had possibly occurred.
“You… you are my…”
“Naturally. Okay then, Master? That shitty centipede is still alive and well. Let us liven up and celebrate my birthday. Shall we deliver a coup de grace in grand style?”
“But how a—ngh!?”
Before I could even finish my question, the girl melted.
Losing her humanoid shape, she became a clump of black sparkling light and then coiled around my right arm, transforming into something else there.
It was a black longsword. Even though it had an ominous, organic appearance, it still looked somewhat beautiful.
『You’ll be handling the timing of the attack. When that shitty centipede comes charging at us, just swing me down. If you fail, we’re all dead, got it?』
『I gave you the possibility, the rest is now up to you.』…………was what I felt she had told me.
Before she even asked me, I had already been aware of what I was supposed to do.
As if it was full of resentment towards us, the 【Demi-Dragwurm】 attacked with a speed it had never shown before. It moved in a straight line so I could still see its charge, but the monster was so fast it would be impossible for me to avoid the hit.
Despite that, there was enough time to swing my sword.
『Master almost died thrice and I absorbed one attack, so I’ll be taking the entire force of your four strikes, you bastard…』
When the monster’s giant mandibles were on the brink of touching us,
『——”And then return everything two-fold!”』
I swung down the black longsword.
『————《Vengeance is Mine》』
The moment it hit its target, there was an impact.
And a second later, an instant of silence.
Immediately following, as though it had been smashed by a monster several times bigger than it, the wurm’s entire body—starting from its head—was pulverized into small fragments.
Man, today, just how many times did I see things that felt incredibly hard to comprehend? While questioning myself, I looked at what was right in front of my eyes.
Little by little, the 【Demi-Dragwurm’s】 crushed, massive body turned into light and began disappearing, only leaving behind its dropped item.
Behind me, Miliane was still unconscious. And by my side, having returned from her black longsword form, was the other girl.
“That was a great success. Well done, Master. You managed to grasp with your own hands the possibility you wished for.”
“So you’re really my ＜Embryo＞?”
The moment I asked that question, she lightly raised her frilled skirt and, at the same time, forced a respectful bow.
“I am Nemesis. Nemesis the TYPE: Maiden-with-Arms ＜Embryo＞. Also, I am what was born from your mind, body and soul.”
As she introduced herself like that, the girl—Nemesis—revealed a broad smile.
“Please continue treating me well in the future, okay, Master?”
1↑It’s obviously not her “brother”, she’s just referring to the man as “glasses onii-san”.
2↑暑苦しい – “Atsukurushii” was the word used. By itself, it means “uncomfortably hot”, or something you would feel while wearing winter clothes in the middle of summer, for example. But in this case (most probably), the meaning goes for that sane feeling of discomfort you feel when now dealing with an “Atsukurushii” person. I don’t know if “overly passionate” would work and I’m still not sure about “overbearing”.
3↑御主 – Here she refers to him as “Onushi”, a very old way of saying “You”. Literally, it means “master”, but has a connotation that the one speaking is equal or superior to the other being addressed. Should I use the archaic versions for her speech? “thy/thou/thee etc”? Also, she sometimes changes the way she speaks with him later in the chapter, sounding more active/pumped up (and dropping the “Onushi”).
4↑四度の全霊攻撃 – I interpreted this like like this: the whole “soul” (全霊) of each of the four (四度) attacks (攻撃). But I’m not 100% sure about it.
5↑復讐するは我にあり – The furigana (ヴェンジェンス・イズ・マイン) matched it perfectly too, “Vengeance is Mine”. Also a movie title.