Hajime felt something soft and warm enveloping his entire body. It felt rather

nostalgic. It was the sensation of sleeping on a bed. Cushioned by a soft mattress and

covered by a warm down blanket, Hajimes mind was thrown into a panic.

What the hell? I thought I was in the labyrinth… What am I doing on a bed? Still

somewhat groggy, he blindly tried to grope around his surroundings. However, his

right hand refused to move. It was wrapped in a completely different kind of softness

than the bed and actually couldn move.

Whats going on? He experimentally tried to squeeze his hand a little. There was a soft,

elastic thing between his fingers that molded to his touch. He found himself enjoying

the sensation and began squeezing the soft object over and over again, when

suddenly…

”…Aaahn… ”

Huh!? He heard a sensual moan. His hazy consciousness was instantly alert. Panicking,

he frantically pushed his body into a sitting position. As he did so, he realized he really

had been sleeping on a bed. A magnificent four poster bed furnished with pure white

sheets.

The bed was on some kind of raised stone terrace. A faint breeze blew past his cheek.

The view of his surroundings was blocked by thick pillars and thin curtains. It was like

a bed had been dumped smack dab in the middle of the Parthenon. Warm yellow light,

light that he hadn seen in ages, spilled into the room.

I thought wed just gotten done with our death match against the Hydra. Where on earth

am I? Don tell me this is heaven! The ostentatiousness of it all made Hajime instantly

think of the worst outcome, but the voice he heard beside him a moment later brought

him back to his senses.

”…Nhaah… Hajime… Aaah… ”

”Wha—!? ”

Hajime kicked off the sheets and saw that he had been sleeping next to a beautiful

naked girl. Yue was sleeping peacefully beside him, her tiny body wrapped around his

right arm. It was then that he realized he too was naked.

”I see… Guess Ive become a harem protagonist… Wait, no I haven , what the hell am

I saying!? ” Hajime acted out some kind of weird skit in his confusion. Somewhat

disoriented still, he tried to wake Yue up.

”Yue, get up. Yue. ”

”Mmmf… ” Yue mumbled incoherently in her sleep and clung even tighter to Hajimes

arm. His right hand was getting dangerously close to a certain part of her lower body.

”Guh… Don tell me this really is heaven!? ” Spouting absolute nonsense, Hajime

attempted to disentangle his right arm. But every time he tried to move it…

”…Mmmf… Mmng… Ah… ” Yue would moan provocatively.

”Gah, I need to cool it. No matter how old she is, she still looks way too young. I can

let myself get excited over something like this! Im no lolicon! ” He repeated those

words to himself, knowing it was this moment that would decide forever whether he

was a pervert or a gentleman. Hajime gave up on freeing his arm and instead tried to

wake Yue up, but no matter how loudly he shouted her name she simply mumbled in

her sleep and continued snoozing.

Eventually, he started getting a little annoyed. How dare that little brat sleep so

peacefully while Im tearing my hair out worrying about where weve ended up!

Unable to bear it any longer, he screamed at her.

”Wake up already, you stupid sexy vampire princess! ” After that, he activated his

Lightning Field. There was a crackle of electricity and tendrils of lightning raced down

his arm.

”Abababababababababa!? ” Yue twitched as the electricity jolted her awake. She

quickly let go of Hajimes arm and opened her eyes.

”…Hajime? ”

”Yep, its me, Hajime. Morning, sleepyhe— ”

”Hajime! ”

”Huh!? ”

Yue gazed blankly at Hajime for a few seconds before suddenly opening her eyes wide

and leaping into his chest. With the both of them still stark naked, of course. He felt

the soft sensation of her skin caress his entire body while a sweet aroma tickled his

nose. He couldn keep himself from getting aroused any longer.

However, when he saw her sobbing into his chest, he couldn bring himself to peel her

off. Instead, he smiled awkwardly and patted her head.

”Sorry, I probably worried you, didn I? ”

”Yeah… You sure did… ” She clung to him for a while, showing no signs of letting go.

Hajime reasoned that since she was the one who looked after him when hed

collapsed, she deserved at least this much, and so he simply continued stroking her

head.

Finally, after Yue had calmed down, Hajime asked her about their current situation. He

made sure she wrapped herself up with some sheets too.

”So what happened after we beat that thing? Where are we? ”

”After you collapsed… ”

According to Yue, she crawled over to Hajime, exhausted from using up all her mana,

and was clinging to him when the door suddenly opened by itself. Prepared to fend off

a new wave of enemies, Yue sat there vigilantly, but no matter how much time passed

nothing came through the door. Finally, she recovered enough of her mana to be able

to stand and went to examine what was on the other side.

Even though the Ambrosia was healing his wounds, he was still on the verge of death

and in a very unstable condition. His abnormally powerful half-monster body was

keeping him alive, but there was no telling how long the Ambrosia would be able to

counteract the effects of the poison. Had new enemies popped out of that door, it

would have been the end for them both. Which was why Yue went to go confirm what

was on the other side.

What shed seen on the other side of the door was…

”The mavericks lair. ” Shed discovered a very comfortable living space. After she had

made sure there were no enemies in the area, she had carried Hajime to the bedroom

shed found and given him every last drop of Ambrosia that came out of the now

dwindling Divinity Stone. Finally, it appeared that the Ambrosias power had

overcome the auroras poison and Hajime began healing normally. Exhausted, Yue had

fallen asleep next to him.

”…I see. So you saved me back there, Yue? Thank you. ”

”Mhm! ” Yues eyes sparkled with boundless happiness at Hajimes gratitude. The

expressiveness of her eyes made up for the lack of normal expressions by her.

”By the way… why am I naked? ” he asked, genuinely curious. He sincerely hoped it

wasn because theyd had sex. It wasn that he didn like Yue… He just wanted to

make sure he was mentally prepared before he made that jump.

”You were dirty… so I cleaned you up. ”

”Why are you licking your lips like that? ”

That seductive smile of hers was the same one she always wore after shed finished

sucking Hajimes blood. Shivers ran down his spine.

”Okay, but then why did you sleep next to me? And why… naked? ”

”Fufu… ”

”Wait, whats with that laugh?! Whatd you do!? And quit licking your lips like that

already! ”

Hajime kept questioning Yue, but she simply gave him that same bewitching stare and

refused to answer any further. It looked like she was having fun. Finally, he gave up

and decided to start investigating the mavericks lair.

As they prepared to leave, Yue pulled out some clothes she had found while exploring

earlier. They were mens clothes. Which meant the maverick was most likely a guy.

Hajime discovered they fit him quite nicely and began inspecting what remained of his

equipment. One never knew what kind of traps they might encounter in a labyrinth.

Yue finished dressing herself as well, and Hajime turned back to look at her.

All she was wearing was… a single long-sleeved shirt.

”Yue, are you trying to tempt me? ”

”Hm…? The shirts just too big. ”

Hajime supposed a guys clothes would be too big for Yue, who was only 140

centimeters tall. However, the shirt hugged her body tightly, accentuating her modest

breasts, and stretched only down to her thighs, leaving her slender legs exposed.

Despite her young appearance, she looked positively alluring. Hajime was unsure

where to look.

”…If you
e not doing this on purpose, then thats scary too. ” Hajime couldn tell if Yue

was purposely doing it or not, but that charm of hers was frightening either way.

As he exited the bedroom, he was stunned at the sight that greeted him outside.

The sun was shining brightly into the room.

Of course, they were still underground, so it couldn possibly have been the real sun.

There was a giant conical structure hanging high above the ceiling, with a dazzlingly

bright orb hugging the cones bottom side. The reason Hajimes mind had instantly

thought of sunlight was not only due to the light and warmth, but also because it had

none of the artificial quality present in lamps or fluorescent lighting.

”…It looks like a moon at night. ”

”Seriously? ”

The sight of the sun was so shocking that it took him a second to realize the sound of

rushing water filled the room as well.

The room they were in was about the size of a baseball stadium, with the wall in the

far back completely covered by a waterfall. Water poured out of a small opening in the

ceiling and fell into a river below that flowed further in, passing through a cavern on

the far wall. The rush of falling water created a refreshing breeze that blew pleasantly

across their faces. Upon closer inspection, Hajime discovered that there were fish

living in the river too. It was possible the fish had followed the rivers current and

traveled there from the surface.

A short distance from the river was a miniature farm. There didn seem to be anything

growing there at the moment. Next to the fields stood a cozy looking barn. Though it

seemed empty, it was clear with the supply of water, fish, meat, and vegetables present

that one could cook anything they were so inclined to. The entire room was covered

in greenery and there were trees scattered about the area.

Hajime decided to explore the side closest to him first, and started walking toward a

building located next to the bedroom theyd been sleeping in. It was more a structure

carved directly out of the rock wall than a building.

”…I investigated it earlier, but most of the doors were locked. ”

”I see. Yue, don let your guard down. ”

”Okay… ”

The rock that the house was carved out of appeared to be some kind of white

limestone. It gave of a very clean look, and another one of those light spheres was

hanging from the entrances ceiling. The light was a bit too dazzling for Yue and

Hajime, whod spent a great deal of time surrounded by darkness. The house was three

stories tall and well ventilated throughout.

They decided to start by exploring the first floor.

There was a thick rug laid out next to a fireplace, a living room furnished with sofas, a

kitchen, and even a bathroom. Interestingly enough, the place appeared brand new.

Though they found no presence of other people, it seemed obviously lived in. The

appliances and furniture hadn seen use in quite some time, but it was clear their

owner took good care of them. Rather than an inhabited dwelling, it felt more like a

house someone simply managed. Hajime and Yue warily continued deeper into the

house.

After a while, they found themselves standing outside again. There was an oval-shaped

door that led to a backyard of sorts that contained a lion statue. The lions mouth was

open mid-roar. Next to the statue was a magic circle. Hajime experimentally poured

some mana into it, and hot water jettisoned out of the lions gaping maw. Apparently

lion fountains were a staple of high-class places no matter which world one was in.

”This is basically a bath, isn it? Perfect, its been months since I last took one. ” Hajime

smiled happily. Until that point he had never had the luxury to worry about hygiene,

but now that they were finally able to take a breather he realized he was filthy all over.

He used the magic circle to pour out some more water and lightly wiped his body

down as a temporary measure.

Still, that wasn enough to satisfy him. He was Japanese, and like all his countrymen,

he loved baths. Once they were sure the area was safe, he was going to take a nice long

soak and cleanse himself properly.

Yue watched his growing excitement, and chimed in with her opinion on the matter.

”…Do you want to go in together? ”

”Id prefer to relax alone for a bit… ”

”Muu… ” Yue was playfully kicking around the water, and Hajime thought that if she

bathed with him his bath would be anything but relaxing, so he refused her. She

pouted unhappily at his curt rejection.

Their examination of the lion statue complete, the pair made their way up to the

second floor. There they discovered a library and a workshop of some kind. But the

bookshelves and the door inside the workshop were all locked, so they weren able to

do a thorough examination of the rooms. They tried various means of opening them,

but none worked, so they simply gave up.

After that, they climbed the stairs to the third floor and saw a single room set in the

back.

There was nothing else on the floor. As Hajime pushed open the door, he saw an eightmeter-long magic circle inlaid on the floor that had some of the most complex and

subtle inscriptions he had ever seen. The circles design and layout were so detailed

that it wouldn have been an exaggeration to call the whole thing a work of art.

But what caught Hajimes eye most was the person sitting in an ostentatious chair

right next to the circle.

Said person was clearly dead. The corpse had already decayed until nothing but bones

remained, and it was clothed in a grand robe of black and gold. There was not the

slightest hint of dust or grime anywhere on the robe. The impeccable cleanliness of

the corpse made it seem more akin to a haunted house prop than something actually

scary.

It was splayed out on the chair in a relaxed pose, with the skulls empty sockets staring

down at its own figure. Almost as if the person it had once been had simply sat down

there and died that way. The skeleton and magic circle were the only objects in the

room. Whyd they chose to come here to die and not their bedroom or the living room…?

”Looks suspicious… What should we do? ” Yue seemed concerned about the skeleton

as well. Hajime assumed it must have belonged to the maverick that was said to live

here. The strange thing was that he died peacefully sitting like that, as if he were

waiting for someone.

”Well, if we want to find a way out, this room seems to be our best bet. Even

Transmutation couldn do anything to the locks we found in the library and the

workshop, so… this is the only thing left to investigate. Yue, be ready for anything. Ill

be counting on you if something happens. ”

”Okay… be careful. ”

Hajime tentatively took a step forward. Nothing happened, so he kept advancing

slowly. Then, when he reached the center of the circle, the entire room was filled with

bright yellow light.

Hajime closed his eyes, unable to handle the intensity. A second later, it felt as if

something invaded his head, and he began seeing flashbacks of his time in the abyss,

starting from when he fell all the way up until he fought the Hydra.

Finally, the magic circles power began to wane and the light dimmed somewhat.

Hajime opened his eyes… and saw a black-robed young man standing before him. He

hadn sensed him enter the room at all.

The magic circle still glowed faintly, filling the room with a mystical light. Hajime

instantly shifted into a battle stance, but after a few seconds he lowered his guard. Not

only could he not feel any hostility or malice coming from the man in front of him, but

the figure himself didn seem real. When he scrutinized it a little further, Hajime

realized the robe he was wearing was the same as the one the skeleton had. That told

him enough to guess who the man in front of him probably was.

Hajime silently gazed at the figure, waiting for something to happen. Finally, the

apparition began to speak.

”I congratulate you on overcoming my trial. My name is Oscar Orcus. I am the man

who created this labyrinth. I suppose to the world Im known as a maverick. ” It seemed

the dead man sitting in front of them was Oscar Orcus, the creator of the Great Orcus

Labyrinth. Hajime and Yue stared, half surprised, half expecting it.

”By the way, please spare me the questions. This is nothing more than a recording I

left behind, so I unfortunately cannot answer any queries you may have. I wanted to

tell those who made it this far why it was that we, who learned the truth of the world,

chose to fight against the gods… so I decided to leave a message. And this was the

simplest form to convey that message in. I want you to know… that though we were

mavericks, we were not truly rebels. ”

The story he wove for them was completely different from the history Hajime had

learned from the Holy Churchs records, or the stories Yue had been told about the

mavericks. The revelations Oscar had for them shocked them to the core.

His tale was one of mad gods and their descendants who fought against them.

A short time after the Age of the Gods, the world was engulfed in strife. Humans,

demons, and even beastmen all fought against each other in a never-ending war. Their

reasons were as numerous as their battles. Land, resources, personal values, greed,

but most important among them was theology.

In that age, the races and countries were split up into numerous factions, each of

which had their own god. And it was each tribes god that incited its people to fight

against those who worshiped others.

After some time, a group appeared that sought to put an end to this centuries-long

war. They called themselves the Liberators.

There was only one thing they all had in common. Each member was a direct

descendant of one of the gods. Their leader was someone who had, by coincidence,

happened to learn of the gods true intentions. It appeared that the gods were using

the various races like pawns, playing a grand game of chess with the world as their

board. The leader of the Liberators couldn stand their sickening disregard for life,

and began looking for comrades who felt the same way he did.

After an arduous search, they were able to discover the location of Asgard, the home

of the gods. There were seven among the Liberators who were exceptionally powerful,

and they were chosen to be the vanguard in the battle against the gods.

However, their plans were foiled before the battle could even begin. The gods

manipulated the sentient races and made them believe the Liberators were trying to

destroy the world. They were marked as enemies of the gods, and every human,

demon, and beastman considered them their mortal foe.

After a great many conspiracies, events, and dramatic encounters, the Liberators

found themselves on the run. They couldn bring themselves to fight the people they

had sworn to protect, but those very people believed they were ungrateful heretics

trying to bring about the end of the world. Their true name was forgotten, and they

were known simply as mavericks in the annals of history.

The Liberators were killed off one by one, until only the strongest seven remained.

With the entire world against them, they realized they wouldn be able to defeat the

gods. So they scattered to the ends of the earth and built huge labyrinths to hide

themselves in. They created a series of trials, praying that someone who could clear

them might one day appear, so they could bequeath their powers onto them in hopes

that these new warriors would carry out their dreams.

After he finished his long speech, Oscar smiled peacefully.

”I have no idea who you are, or why you chose to fight your way down here. Nor do I

have any intention of forcing my own dreams of the gods demise onto you. I simply

wanted you to know what it was we fought, and died, for… As a reward for hearing me

out, I shall grant you my strength. How you use it is entirely up to you. I can only pray

you won use it for evil. Thats all I have to say. Thank you for listening to the end. May

the lessings of the gods never reach you. ” Oscars apparition vanished once he

finished talking. At the same time, Hajime felt something strange enter his mind. The

sensation was quite painful, but because he knew what was happening, he quietly let

it enter inside him.

The pain finally subsided, and the magic circle grew dim once more. Hajime let out a

long breath he hadn realized hed been holding in the whole time.

”Hajime… are you ok? ”

”Yeah, Im fine… But man, what a tale. ”

”Yeah… What are you going to do? ”

Yue was referring, of course, to Oscars tale.

”Hm? Nothing really. It was those good-for-nothing gods that summoned me here in

the first place and told me to go fight in their war. I hate them as it is anyway. Still, this

worlds got nothing to do with me. All I care about is making it back to the surface and

finding a way home. Thats all… Did his story bother you, Yue? ”

The old Hajime might have been more sympathetic to this worlds plight, but the

reforged Hajime discarded Oscars tale without so much as a second thought. Its this

worlds problem, so the people of this world should deal with it.

That being said, Yue was someone of this world. Which was why, if she said she wanted

to do something about it, Hajime might have reconsidered. His bond with Yue wasn

something he could discard as easily Oscars story.

However, Yue shook her head without hesitation.

”My home is wherever you are… I don care about anywhere else. ” She sidled up to

Hajime and squeezed his hand. The warmth of her hand told him she wasn just trying

to be considerate.

Yue once devoted her entire life to her country. Despite that, she was betrayed by the

ones she trusted most and left to rot in the darkness. None of her subjects came to

save her. Three hundred years had passed since then, and all the people she knew

were long since dead. For Yue, there was not a single thing left to care about in this

world. In fact, much like Hajime, she had started to see the realm as a prison more

than her home after being trapped for so long. And it was Hajime who had saved her

from that prison. Which was why she only cared about being by Hajimes side.

”…I see. ” Hajime blushed a little. He then cleared his throat and dropped a bombshell

of an announcement.

”Umm, also, I think I learned a new spell… Some kind of magic from the Age of the

Gods, I think? ”

”…Really? ” Yue said, amazed. Her surprise was understandable. After all, magic from

the Age of the Gods was something the gods had once used, magic that no longer

existed in the present day. Teleportation magic was from that age as well.

”This magic circle did something to my head, and its like I suddenly understand how

it works, kind of. ”

”Are you sure you
e all right? ”

”Yeah, Im totally fine. Even better, this spells a perfect fit for me. ”

”…What kind of spell is it? ”

”Umm, its a creation spell of some kind. It lets me add magical properties to minerals,

and create new ore with special traits. ”

Yues jaw hung open as she listened to Hajimes explanation.

”You can make artifacts? ”

”Yeah, something like that. ”

The creation spell Hajime had inherited was the same magic people had used to create

artifacts in the Age of the Gods. Truly, it was the perfect skill for a Synergist. Though

Hajime didn know it, Oscars job had also been Synergist.

”You want to learn it too, Yue? You just have to step into the magic circle. It does this

kind of thing where it runs through your memories. Oscar said something about a trial

earlier too, so since we cleared it together, you should have the right to learn it as well. ”

”…I can use transmutation. ”

”Oh yeah, I guess thats true… Still, its magic from the Age of the Gods. Theres no real

harm in learning it either way, right? ”

”Okay. If you want me to, Hajime. ” Urged onward by Hajime, Yue stepped into the magic

circle next. It began glowing faintly and started probing Yues memories. It must have

decided Yue had cleared the conditions as well, since the apparition appeared once

more.

”I congratulate you on overcoming my trial. My name is Oscar… ”

Oscars disembodied voice rang out for a second time. Having it happen a second time

kind of ruined the moment. Oscar repeated the same words he had earlier, so Yue and

Hajime ignored him and continued their conversation.

”Howd it go? Did you learn it? ”

”Yeah, I did. But artifacts don make much sense to me. ”

”Hmmm, I guess even ancient magic is useless unless youve got an affinity for it. ”

The vision of Oscar smiled as it wrapped up its conversation. It was kind of surreal,

really. Hajime couldn be sure he didn imagine it, but it felt like the skeleton behind

the vision looked somewhat sad.

”Ah, since I guess this house is basically ours now, we should get rid of the skeleton. ”

He had no respect for the corpse at all.

”Yeah… Hell make good fertilizer for the fields. ” Neither did Yue. Though there was no

wind, Oscars skull fell forward another few inches.

They buried Oscars skeleton near the edge of the field and even gave him a modest

gravestone. In the end, even they felt enough pity for him that they didn just make

him into fertilizer.

Once the burial was finished, Hajime and Yue returned to the two places that had been

locked before. When they had buried him, theyd relieved him of the ring hed been

wearing on his skeletal finger. It wasn grave-robbing, since he hadn been buried yet.

The ring had a symbol of a circle with a cross splitting it into even sections engraved

on it, which matched the engravings on the locks perfectly.

First, they went to the library. They were hoping some of the books would have

knowledge on how to get back to the surface. Hajime and Yue broke the seal on the

bookshelves and started perusing the volumes. During their search, they discovered

what appeared to be the buildings blueprints. It wasn nearly as detailed as a proper

set of blueprints, but there were a lot of memos about what would be built where and

how the layout of the house would look.

”Bingo! I found it, Yue! ”

”Nice. ”

Hajime let out a whoop of joy. Yue responded happily as well, though with less

intensity. According to the blueprints, the magic circle on the third floor connected to

another circle that would teleport them back to the surface. It seemed that function

could only be activated with Orcus ring, though. It was fortunate theyd sto— taken it

from him.

They also learned that cleaning was handled automatically at set intervals by golems

that normally rested in one of the workshop rooms, and that the globe hanging from

the ceiling possessed the same properties as the sun, so they could grow crops if they

wished. So thats why its so clean even though no ones lived here in ages.

There were a number of artifacts and rare materials Oscar had been working with in

the locked room of his workshop, according to the memos. Hajime decided to ste—

take those too. It couldn hurt to have more items to work with after all.

”Hajime… look at this. ”

”Hm? ”

Yue had been looking through the other books while Hajime had pored over the

blueprints, and she came to him with one of them in her hands. It turned out to be

Oscars diary. It chronicled the normal everyday life of Oscar and his six powerful

companions. One of the passages in it talked about the labyrinths his six comrades had

made.

”…So basically, that means if we conquer the other labyrinths, we can get all the

ancient magic the other Liberators possessed too? ”

”…Maybe. ”

According to his diary, his six comrades had also designed their labyrinths so that

anyone who made it all the way to its furthest depths would be granted magic from

the Age of the Gods. Unfortunately, it didn go into the specifics of what kind of magic

each had.

”One of them might help us get back to your world. ” Yue definitely has a point there.

After all, the teleportation magic that summoned my class here was from the Age of the

Gods too.

”Yeah. Now we have an idea of where to look next. Our goal after we get back to the

surface is to conquer the other six labyrinths. ”

”Yeah. ”

Hajime smiled, glad hed finally found a lead. He started unconsciously patting Yues

head, to which she closed her eyes happily and let herself be spoiled.

They searched around the library for a while longer, but they couldn find any books

telling them the exact locations of the other labyrinths. For now, they were stuck with

the two whose locations were known, the Grand Gruen Volcano and the Haltina

Woods. They could also start searching around the Reisen Gorge and Schnee Snow

Fields, where two other labyrinths were said to be hidden.

Once they finished rummaging through the library, the pair headed over to the

workshop. There were a number of locked doors in the workshop, all of which Hajime

opened with Orcus ring. Crammed inside were all manner of ore, tools with unknown

purposes, and work manuals. The entire treasure trove was a Synergists dream come

true. Hajime folded his single arm as he lapsed into thought. Yue tilted her head,

puzzled, and asked him the question on her mind.

”…Whats wrong? ” After thinking deeply for a few minutes, Hajime turned to Yue and

answered.

”Hmm, well I was thinking. How about we stay here for a little while, Yue? Don get

me wrong, Im eager to return to the surface too… but since theres all this stuff to

explore and learn about, it might be better to make this our base and rest up for a bit.

Especially since if we
e going to be heading for the other labyrinths next, itd be best

to prepare ourselves as much as possible. What do you think? ” Hajime was trying to

be considerate of Yue, since he figured after 300 years of darkness she was aching to

see the light, but she agreed rather quickly after looking at him blankly for a few

seconds. Hajime found that a little strange, but she just gave him a curt reply.

”…As long as Im with you, Hajime, anywhere is fine. ” It seemed she didn harbor any

burning desire to see the sun. Hajime blushed and scratched his cheek when he heard

her declare that so boldly.

With that settled, the two decided to stay there to train and prepare as much as

possible.

Soon enough evening fell, and the bright sunlight turned to pale moonlight. Hajime

was currently soaking in the bath, letting his entire body relax for the first time in

months. Hed been on edge ever since hed fallen into the abyss. The bath cleansed him

in both body and soul.

”Haaaah, this feels great! ” This kind of carefree tone was a first for the new Hajime. As

he let the energy drain from his body, he suddenly heard the sound of footsteps

heading his way. He cursed himself for letting his guard down.

”I told you I wanted to take my bath alone! ”

There was a loud splash.

”Hmm… This really does feel nice… ” And then, Yue was sitting next to him. She scooted

over next to Hajime, completely naked.

Her beautiful porcelain colored skin glowed enchantingly in the moonlight. That was

the first time Hajime had seen her do up her hair. The exposed nape of her neck only

served to increase her charm.

”…Yue, I distinctly remember telling you multiple times that I want to bathe alone, so

why are you here? ” Hajime knew the flush rising up his body had nothing to do with

the heat of the water. He scolded Yue more angrily than usual, trying to hide his

excitement.

Yue could easily tell what was going through Hajimes mind at the moment, so she

gave him her most seductive sidelong glance yet as she replied.

”…But I refuse. ”

”Hey! Whend you get the time to read Jojo! ”

”…… ”

Hajime retorted reflexively. Which, unfortunately, meant he looked right at her. Her

slightly flushed skin filled his vision. There was a slight blush painting her face, making

her look all the more erotic. Her current appearance reminded him that she really was

far older than him. He was already unable to stand, but somehow he was far calmer

than he had been even when he fought the Hydra.

”At least cover your front. I know this house has a lot of towels. ”

”I want you to look. ”

”…… ” Hajime was at a loss for words. Her unexpected reply left him even more

flustered than before. His lower half was raring and ready to go as it peeked out with

a ”You rang, master? ”

”…See? Hajime, don you want to look? ” Yue followed up with another attack. Her

pleading voice was slowly whittling away at Hajimes reasoning. ”Master! Target

spotted at 12 o clock! ” His breathing started growing ragged.

”U-Umm, Yue. Im not sure I… ”

”…Am I not pretty enough? ”

Hajime tried to reason his way out of the situation, but Yue cornered him with a very

depressed-sounding follow-up. When his eyes met hers, he realized the sadness and

insecurity in her voice had been real.

”Not at all. Trust me, you
e really pretty. Theres no way Id ever think you
e ugly! ”

Before he realized it, Hajimes voice had grown louder and he was nearly shouting.

After he finished shouting, he suddenly realized how heated hed gotten and realized

it was too far too late to back out. Yue had the same seductive expression shed worn

at the beginning.

”…I see. That makes me happy. Because I belong to you, Hajime. So look as much as

you want. ”

”…… ” Yue abruptly stood up. Bathwater dripped down her soft skin as she bared

herself to Hajime.

Hajime watched a single bead of water trail its way down her body. It passed over her

modest breasts, clung tightly to her slender waist, and trailed down her nether regions

before finally running down her thighs and rejoining the larger body of water below

it.

There was not a single blemish on her pale skin, and her proportions were almost

perfect. She wrapped her arms behind her back, not trying to hide any of herself from

Hajime. There was no way such an action wouldn be embarrassing, and she was

indeed blushing slightly, but she still stood there proudly, her body trembling slightly.

It was the perfect combination of bashfulness and seductiveness.

Framed by the fake moon, her golden hair glowed around her like a halo. The sight

was so perfect that she seemed almost divine. At that moment, Hajime wouldn have

doubted her even if she had told him she was a goddess.

At a complete loss for words, he could only continue to stare, clearly enthralled by the

sight of her. And as Yue had planned, that was enough to blow away any last traces of

reason he had left.

”Fufu… ”

”Hah!? ”

Yue laughed triumphantly, and Hajime finally returned to his senses. She was staring

at the only part of his body that was being honest about his feelings, and he swiftly

decided to beat a hasty retreat before his lower half got the better of him.

At this rate, he would get sucked into Yues pace. It was precisely because he valued

her so much that he didn want to do something in the heat of the moment without

carefully considering it first. As a man, he wanted to make sure he was ready to commit

to Yue before having sex.

However, it was already too late for him to escape from the vampire girls clutches. She

flung herself at him, determined to settle things once and for all.

”Gotcha. ”

”…I-I can feel your— ”

”I know, Im doing it on purpose. ”

”Whered you learn about all these cliches from!? Screw it, Im getting out! ”

He could clearly feel all of Yues soft bits as she hugged him tight. He didn think he

could hold on for much longer. If he didn leave, he would turn into a mindless beast

and ravish the only person he held dear.

Unfortunately…

”You
e not getting away! ”

”Hey, wait! Ah… Aaaaah! ”

The vampire princess wasn going to let her prey escape. What happened after was…

well, exactly what anyone would imagine.

Two months had passed since that fateful night in the bathtub.

Both Hajimes body and spirit had been reforged by fighting the monstrosities that

inhabited the deepest pits of hell. But no matter how much the abyss might have

toughened him up, he still had had no chance of fending off Yues aggressive advances.

So, in the end, he decided to simply accept them.

Hed known for a while that Yue had feelings for him. It was actually part of why hed

promised to bring her back home with him. Plus, hed realized he loved Yue, but had

given himself flimsy excuses like telling himself he needed to keep his mind focused

on the goal or hed never make it back home to keep himself from acting on those

feelings.

But then theyd managed to discover a safe location to turn into their base, and a hint

on how he could find his way home, so even that flimsy pretext had vanished. Without

any reason left to turn down Yue, he could no longer resist.

Their idyllic lifestyle in the following months had been so full of coquettish flirtation

that anyone watching them would have started tearing their hair out in annoyance.

Around the same time, somewhere very far away, a girl was terrifying her best friend

with an expression so demonic that it appeared as if the avatar of rage himself had

manifested behind her like a stand. It was an omen of what was soon to come.

”…Hajime, how does that feel? ”

”Ahhh, yeah thats perfect. ”

”Fufu… Then how about this? ”

”Aaah, thats good too. ”

”Then… this will be even better… ”

Yue was currently giving Hajime a massage. An honest to goodness, non-erotic

massage. They were both fully clothed too. Hajime had modified some of Oscars old

clothes to fit Yue.

She was currently dressed in a short skirt that left most of her slender legs fully

revealed. The reason she was straddling Hajime and giving him a massage had

something to do with his left arm. His left arm that ended in a stump below his elbow.

Attached to that stump now was an artificial arm. Yue was in the process of massaging

the area around it to work the kinks out of it.

The fake arm he had attached to his left elbow was an artifact, and with the infusion

of mana it could be moved just like a real one. The arm had pseudo-nerves installed

within it as well, and Hajime could feel things with it like he could with his real arm

when he filled it with mana. There were lines of pure silver running down the black

surface of his new arm, with magic circles and other engravings carved into the

apparatus at odd intervals.

The arm was fitted with all sorts of interesting gimmicks. Some of them had originally

been part of the arm when hed found it in Oscars workshop, while others were new

additions of Hajimes own design. He had used his creation magic to materialize all

kinds of specialized ores and added them to his arm. As it was now, his artificial limb

was an artifact that rivaled the greatest national treasure of any kingdom. That being

said, one needed the ability to directly manipulate their mana to operate the arm at

all, so it would be useless for most people. Over the course of the past two months,

Yue and Hajime had both improved their strength and equipment far beyond what it

had been when they first arrived. These were Hajimes current stats, to put into

perspective just how much they had grown.

Hajime Nagumo Age: 17 Male Level: ???

Job: Synergist

Strength: 10950

Vitality: 13190

Defense: 10670

Agility: 13450

Magic: 14780

Magic Defense: 14780

Skills: Transmute [+Ore Appraisal] [+Precision Transmutation] [+Ore Perception]

[+Ore Desynthesis] [+Ore Synthesis] [+Duplicate Transmutation] [+Compression

Synthesis] — Mana Manipulation [+Mana Discharge] [+Mana Compression] [+Remote

Manipulation] — Iron Stomach — Lightning Field — Air Dance [+Aerodynamic]

[+Supersonic Step] [+Steel Legs] [+Riftwalk] — Gale Claw — Night Vision — Far Sight

— Sense Presence [+Precision Sensing] — Detect Magic [+Precision Sensing] — Sense

Heat [+Precision Sensing] — Hide Presence [+Illusion Waltz] — Poison Resistance —

Paralysis Resistance — Petrification Resistance — Fear Resistance — Elemental

Resistance — Foresight — Diamond Skin — Steel Arms — Intimidate — Telepathy —

Tracking — Increased Mana Recovery — Mana Conversion [+Stamina] [+Healing] —

Limit Break — Creation Magic — Language Comprehension

A persons level was meant to denote their current degree of growth compared to their

max potential, and capped at 100. However, Hajimes body had undergone so many

transformations after absorbing demon meat that after a certain point his level

stopped growing even when his stats did, and finally his status plate had simply

decided to mark his level as unknown.

It did make sense, considering his current stats would normally be unthinkable with

the starting values he had initially begun with. His upper limits as a human had

increased with his stats, so it was safe to assume that his status plate was unable to

calculate the limits of his potential with his body so transformed.

As a comparison, the hero Kouki Amanogawas maximum stats were somewhere in

the 1500 range. With the Limit Break skill, Kouki could temporarily triple those stats,

but even then, they barely came up to one third of Hajimes. And thanks to the Hydra

he had consumed, Hajime could use the Limit Break skill too. He had far surpassed his

overpowered classmates and become an overpowered cheat himself.

Most average humans had maximum stats of no more than 100 to 200, while those

who possessed a job ranged from 300 to 400. Demons and beastmen could have stats

ranging anywhere from 300 to 600 depending on the individual race and its

characteristics. If the hero, Kouki, was overpowered, then Hajime had to be some kind

of monster. With how much he had changed both physically and mentally, monster

probably was the best description for him.

The artificial arm wasn the only new piece of equipment Hajime had plundered from

Oscars workshop. Another handy piece of equipment hed obtained was the ”Treasure

Trove. ” This was a ring-shaped artifact that had a small one centimeter ruby set in its

center. The ruby was actually an artificially created dimensional space where things

could be stored. It was like a bag of holding, basically.

Hajime wasn sure exactly how big this space was, but it was large enough to hold a

decent amount. There had still been space left over even after he had crammed all of

his weapons, tools, and crafting materials inside it. It only took a little bit of mana to

activate the magic circle engraved on the ruby to add or remove things to it. Anything

within one meter of the ring could be deposited, and withdrawn objects could be

placed anywhere within the same radius.

It was a very handy artifact by any measure, but for Hajime it was especially useful

because of his weapons. Because the ring could transport withdrawn objects

anywhere within one meter of the ring, Hajime had toyed with the possibility of

reloading with it.

When he had put his theory to the test, he met with limited success. While the ring

wasn precise enough to let him warp the bullets directly into his magazine, it could

bring them out perfectly aligned in position to be loaded. So instead he combined his

skills together to teleport the bullets into the air above his gun chamber and let them

fall into the magazine. It was an impromptu form of midair reloading.

The only type of gun suited to that style was a break-action revolver. Unfortunately,

break-action revolvers weren as powerful as swing-out revolvers. However,

reloading a swing-out revolver in midair was also far more difficult.

In order to remedy the situation, Hajime had created a makeshift kind of swing-out

cylinder. Part of it swung out to the top to allow for midair reloading. By manipulating

his mana, he could discard old shells as well. Then all he needed to do was spin the

chamber and let the bullets fall into place.

It had taken him only a month of nonstop training to perfect this technique. And there

was a reason he managed to master this superhuman feat in only a month. His Riftwalk

ability. Riftwalk not only gave him the ability to heighten his other movement skills,

but it also enhanced his five senses to their limit. It made it seem as if the rest of the

world was moving in slow motion, which was what made midair reloading possible.

On top of improving his weapons, he had also crafted a two-wheel mana-powered

vehicle, Steiff, and a four-wheel mana-powered vehicle, Brise.

As their description suggested, they used mana as fuel. Their frames were covered

with Azantium, the hardest metal in existence. Both of them were loaded to the brim

with weapons too. For all his transformations, Hajime was still a boy at heart. He still

had a burning passion for all things military. There had been times that he had gotten

so focused on his crafting that Yue had started to sulk, and he had all sorts of fluids

sucked out of him before she forgave him. He had also developed something he called

the Demon Eye.

Hajime had lost his right eye fighting against the Hydra. The heat of the aurora had

evaporated his eyeball entirely, so the Ambrosia had been unable to heal what at that

point had become a ”lost ” appendage. Yue had felt guilty about it since he had lost it

protecting her, so she had helped him develop the Demon Eye.

Even with ancient creation magic, Hajime was unable to reproduce an actual human

eyeball. However, he had instead imbued a piece of the Divinity Stone with Detect

Magic and Foresight, which created an artificial eye that saw different things than a

normal one.

He then added the same pseudo-nerves that were in his artificial arm into his artificial

eye, allowing for the images it captured to be sent directly to his brain. His Demon Eye

couldn see things his normal eye could. Instead, it saw the flow and strength of mana

surrounding a person or object, its color, and the element and ”core ” of the spell they

were trying to activate.

The core of a spell was basically the gist of how it was being activated and the effect it

was attempting to enact on the world. He had known that the effects of a spell were

governed by the inscriptions inlaid into the magic circle invoking the spell, but until

now he had never considered the possibility that the spell and the magic circle must

somehow have been linked for the circle to continue directing the spell after it was

invoked. None of the books he had read in the palace had mentioned anything of the

sort. It was quite possible he had made a new discovery in the field of magic. Especially

considering that even Yue, who was an expert in magic, hadn known anything about

it either.

Much like Sense Presence, Detect Magic as a skill only gave Hajime a vague idea of the

position and amount of mana being used. It wasn much better than an alternate way

of searching for enemies. However, with the enhanced Demon Eye, he could pinpoint

the exact amount of mana being poured into what kind of spell, and because he could

see the spells ”core, ” it was possible for him to shoot it down and nullify the spell

entirely. Shooting down a spells core required an extreme amount of precision,

though, so it wasn always practical.

The reason he had used the Divinity Stone as the base material for his eye was because

no other ore would have worked. Hajimes guess was that only the Divinity Stone could

hold enough mana to maintain the spells he had imbued it with. He was still unskilled

at using his newly acquired creation magic, which was why he had only been able to

add two spells to the Divinity Stone so far. But considering how much mana it could

hold, he suspected he would be able to add even more spells to it once he got better at

using his creation skill.

Since the Demon Eye was made out of Divinity Stone, it was constantly giving off a

faint blue glow. In other words, his eye was always glowing. No matter what he did, he

couldn seem to do anything about it, so he gave up and covered it with a black

eyepatch.

White hair, a fake arm, and an eyepatch— Hajime looked like some kind of edgy anime

protagonist now. The kind that might have spouted cliched lines like, ”Be still, my

sealed left arm! ” When he had seen himself in the mirror, Hajime had been so

depressed that he had spent an entire day moping in bed. Yue had to resort to some

rather… drastic measures to finally cheer him up.

Hajime had upgraded his weapons too. He had remade Schlagen, which had been

destroyed in the battle with the Hydra. He used Azantium for the frame and bullets,

making it harder than before. And since he no longer had to worry about carrying it

around thanks to the ring, he lengthened the barrel as well, increasing its range and

power.

He had also added a new gun to his arsenal— Metzelei, a railgun-enhanced gatling

gun. The inspiration for it had come from the time they had had to fight the army of

raptors and hadn had enough firepower to take them all on. It was a monster of a

weapon, with six rotating barrels capable of firing 12,000 30mm caliber rounds a

minute. He had used creation magic to form the barrel out of a special, self-cooling

ore, but even then he could only fire consecutively for about five minutes before the

gun ran the danger of overheating. Plus, it needed a long time to cool before he could

use it again.

Also, as a way to gain complete combat superiority, and simply because Hajime

thought it was cool, he had created a rocket launcher called Orkan. It had a rectangular

barrel, and boasted a large magazine allowing for 12 consecutive shots. He could fire

different varieties of rockets too.

He had also created a sister revolver to Donner, Schlag. Since he had a prosthetic arm,

Hajime figured he could use two revolvers at once. His preferred style of combat was

close quarter gun combat, gun fu basically, with Donner and Schlag overpowering his

enemies. The reason he had settled on close combat was to work more efficiently with

Yue, who was a stereotypical back liner. That being said, he could fill any role in a party

with the variety of equipment he had at his disposal.

Hajime had created a wealth of other miscellaneous tools and equipment. However,

the Divinity Stone had finally lost most of its original mana, and had ceased producing

Ambrosia. He only had twelve precious vials of it left. He had tried suffusing it with

mana again, but the stone had refused to produce any more Ambrosia. The reason

being that mana had to be concentrated in the stone over centuries in order for it to

take effect.

But even then, Hajime didn throw it away. It was, after all, the person— or rather

stone, that had saved his life. It was a sheer stroke of luck that he had found it at all,

and without it, he would have died for sure. Which was why he was so attached to it.

He loved it as much as that one plane crash survivor from a certain movie had loved

his volleyball.

So instead of discarding it, he had made use of the fact that it could store boundless

amounts of mana to make his Demon Eye. He had then carved the remainder of the

stone into a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a ring that he decided to gift to Yue.

Yue could use extremely powerful magic, all without incantations or magic circles, but

because she could so easily pour mana into her spells, she quickly ran out and became

unable to move. But by storing mana in her Divinity Stone jewelry beforehand, she

would be able to use them as a battery, allowing her to fire off powerful spells one

after another without collapsing.

With those thoughts in mind, Hajime had presented the Magic Stone Accessory series

to Yue, but her reaction had been rather unexpected.

”…Are you proposing to me? ”

”You wot mate? ”

Hajime was so surprised he slipped into some weird accent.

”Its to keep you from running out of mana quickly. I made these to protect you. ”

”So you are proposing. ”

”How many times do I have to say no before you get it? Its just equipment I made for

you. ”

”Hajime, you
e so shy. ”

”Do you just ignore the words coming out of my mouth or something, Yue? ”

”…You
e shy in bed too. ”

”Can we please not go there!? Please? ”

”Hajime… ”

”Uh, yeah? ”

”Thanks… I really love you. ”

”…You
e welcome. ”

Almost all their conversations devolved into flirting after a while. They completed

their preparations to the utmost over the past two months.

Ten days later, Hajime and Yue finally decided to return to the surface.

As he began activating the magic circle on the third floor, Hajime quietly spoke to Yue.

”Yue… my weapons and our powers are probably considered heresy to the Holy

Church. I doubt they or the various human kingdoms are going to just let us roam free. ”

”Yeah… ”

”Theyll ask us to give up our artifacts or try and force us to help them in their war. ”

”Yeah… ”

”If it was just humans we had to deal with, it wouldn be a huge problem, but those

crazy gods pulling everyones strings are probably gonna be after us too. ”

”Yeah… ”

”We might end up making the entire world our enemy. No matter how many lives we

have, it might not be enough to come out unscathed. ”

”So what… ” Hajime smiled at Yues unconcerned response. She looked up at him, and

he gently stroked her golden-blonde hair in response. He looked deeply into her

crimson eyes, and saw that they were glowing with happiness. After a moment, he

took a deep breath, then spoke aloud his hopes and convictions in order to carve them

into his soul.

”Ill protect you, and youll protect me. As long as we watch each others backs, well

be stronger than anyone. Well beat down anyone who stands against us and bust our

way out of this shitty world! ”

Yue held her hands up to her chest, as if carving Hajimes words into her own soul as

well. Her deadpan expression crumbled, fading away to reveal the most beautiful

smile in the world.

Her reply was the same single syllable she always gave:

”Yeah! ”

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