With the help of Makado-san’s ability, we were transported from the 20th floor to the 25th floor, and after that, we walked down the spiral stairway with Azu-san at the front, me, and Tomoe in that order, and continued going down.
In that time, we spoke about a variety of things.
We first began with self-introductions.
How to say it, maybe because we have already exchanged words several times in the middle of battle and have probed each other’s heart, this feels really late.
And we also talked about his sword.
This place is a location where faint red light leaks out from the floor, and it seems the sword was pierced into the flat big rock that’s right in front of us at this moment.
Rather than calling it a big rock…it makes me think of it as a rock seat.
More so when the surroundings are filled with a mysterious atmosphere.
Also, it gives out the feeling of a lid, or a seal.
He said that they weren’t able to draw it out by force, so they tried a lot of things, and as a result of it, the method of using one of the Guild Skills managed to draw it out.
It makes me question if it was actually okay to draw it out.
Well, even if it was a bad call, it is all in the past now though.
Imagining the scenery in the past, a wry smile naturally surfaces from my mouth.
“And, what’s in this place? From what I see, I can’t find anything that might serve as a mood-changer for Waka, or something that a Superior Dragon like me would have interest in-ja ga? I also don’t know what is your aim at all in this.” (Tomoe)
After checking out the surroundings, Tomoe slightly narrows her eyes and looks at Azu-san.
His life as a japanese person, his life when he just came to this world, his life as a swordsman, and also, the life in his game where he was a knight and acted as the Guild Master. On top of that, he also told us about many sides regarding the Adventurers of Origin.
He readily told me to call him Azu instead of Aznoval, and in the end, I felt like Azu-san was the way of calling that felt the most fitting inside of me, so I decided to do so.
I don’t think I will get used to calling him without honorifics though.
This is the same for Azu-san as well as his comrades.
Tomoe resolutely said that this won’t serve as a mood-changer for me, but honestly speaking, that conversation with him was fun.
Even if there’s nothing here…I am already grateful.
“Now now, being impatient at times will lead to losses, Tomoe-san. Right. First, let’s go with the main objective. Makoto-kun, after our talk, I am now confident that this will be satisfying to you.” (Aznoval)
What did I say that prompted this confidence?
Most of the talk we had was him talking of himself. Compared to that, I only spoke a bit about my time in Japan.
What could it be?
“Those words just now, should I take them as you using that talk as a pretext to extract information from my master, Waka?” (Tomoe)
“No no. It is just that now that I have invited you two, I thought that it would be best if all three of us were to benefit from it. At the very least, I wanted you to learn that I have also gained plenty enough benefits from this as well.” (Aznoval)
“Then, I will explain now. This is the deepest area of Yaso-Magatsuhi’s Prison Palace. This small space that doesn’t even reach the *100 tatami mats*.” <Around 165.29 square meters>
That is indeed small.
But well, if we were to call this the garden of a residence, it can also be considered extravagant though.
Compared to the 1st floor that was a plain that extended as far as the eye can see, this is certainly small. And the entrance was also crazy.
Wouldn’t things get heated up if they were to do an adventurer festival there?
They could even bring a float there.
“And so, this place is…” (Aznoval)
Maybe he is planning on saying something hard to voice out, I could feel slight nervousness from Azu-san.
Tomoe and I wait for his words.
Is there something here?
What meaning does this place hold?
Is he about to talk of a secret truth that only a few in this world would know?
“This place is also the border between life and death.” (Aznoval)
Border of life and death?
Even if you tell me that…what does that mean?
“Life and death. So, this is like the Yomotsu-Hirasaka?” (Makoto) <Boundary between life and death in Japan. It holds the same ideology as the River Styx.>
What I somehow manage to speak out were words that fit the image Azu-san just described.
A name that appears in Japanese myth.
“Makoto-kun, you are quite knowledgeable. Yeah, that’s exactly right. This is the Yomi-Birazaka of the Goddess’ World. You have saved me a good amount of explanation. A happy surprise.” (Aznoval)
I still don’t have a clear image.
Azu-san nods in satisfaction, but I on the contrary…feel like it would have been better if I hadn’t said anything.
Yomi-Birazaka…is the boundary of life and death depicted in Japanese myth.
In terms of myths, I do know about it.
But that’s all I know!
“But of course, myth and reality are different. It is normally difficult to think of life and death as different from the death of the body. Of course, I will be explaining that as well.” (Aznoval)
“…That would help a lot.” (Makoto)
It seriously would.
“From what I know of the modern Japan, it works differently. In this world, life and death are connected to the present world and the world of the dead. They exist in the same world. In other words, they have borders that can be crossed.” (Aznoval)
“But, even if I say that, it doesn’t mean they are completely connected. Makoto-kun, do you know of balloon art?” (Aznoval)
Now he talks about balloon art?
Isn’t it the one where you inflate a long balloon to make things like dogs out of it?
A poodle surfaced in my mind.
“Is it the one that you twist balloons and make animals out of them?” (Makoto)
“That’s right. You can think of this place as the torsion. It is the place that’s the closest to life and death. In other words, the border of life and death; the ravine.” (Aznoval)
“…So…the sword of Azu-san that was pierced into that rock was…” (Makoto)
“Just like what you imagine, it was a lid. In order for the torsion to not loosen.” (Aznoval)
“Uhm… Doesn’t that mean drawing the sword was a bad idea then? You know, in a lot of meanings.” (Makoto)
Wouldn’t it create a big war between the living and the dead?
“It is just as Waka says. If your story is true, it would have created a big disaster that would never disappear from history. But there’s no such records in this world. It is a pretty hard to swallow story-ja na.” (Tomoe)
“Yeah, it was pretty bad. I only learned about the full picture not that long ago though.” (Aznoval)
Uuh, it looks like he is going to ignore the question of Tomoe for now; Azu-san showed me the greatsword he had on his back.
Right now, it has no sheath.
At the end of the fight, he had a sheath for it.
And after stopping his released Iai in the middle of it, he declared his surrender.
“‘Nameless one that must not be spoken of’, that’s the name I gave to this sword. And it is also the name of the best technique I trained on together with my cute illusory beasts.” (Aznoval)
“…It had astonishing power.” (Makoto)
Honestly speaking, it is to a level that if I was fighting against a party and I had received that finisher technique in a timing where I was open, I might have died.
“When I hear that from you, it sounds like it is sarcasm or the biggest compliment that I can receive. It is a complicated feeling. Well, after forcefully drawing out the sentient sword and taking possession of it, it didn’t want to tell me its name, so the name I gave to it can be considered a self-deprecating name.” (Aznoval)
‘Now that I think about it, it might have been because of the anger I felt when I learned my own selfishness created a big problem’, is what Azu-san muttered as he makes a bitter smile.
“What about the answer to my question? Are you going to ignore it?” (Tomoe)
“I will answer in order, Tomoe-san. Please wait for a bit more. I have had several questions for many years, and it was just recently that I found the answer for a number of questions I had given up on. One of those was the true name of this sword.” (Aznoval)
Now that I think about it, Azu-san’s behaviour towards Tomoe is polite, and soft.
Is it because he is a knight and that prompts him to be polite to women?
At first, I thought he did it accidentally, but it seems he is actually doing it consciously.
Is there some sort of reason behind it?
Anyways, the name of the sword huh.
If he said it was something recent, it must mean that since the time he obtained the sword, a crazy long time has passed…he assumed that the sword was sentient…and after living together with it, he finally heard the name of the sword.
I am interested in what served as the trigger, but as expected, I am interested in the name itself.
“So, what’s the name? Uhm, only if it’s okay to hear it, that is.” (Makoto)
“Of course. The real name of this sword –no, the name of the will that dwells in it is -according to the person herself- Princess Seoritsu.” (Aznoval)
“Princess…Seoritsu? As in the japanese one?” (Makoto)
“By the way, that name and form…that sheath…and the power after releasing the attack; I learned all of those for the first time while we were battling. You see, that Iai I did at the end was that. I am glad that something as impressive as that came out in a climatic moment. If I had obtained something like that in an earlier stage, I might have changed my job to samurai. Hahahaha!!” (Aznoval)
No, it wasn’t only that.
It was at an even earlier stage than that.
Far before I was bashed with the shield the illusory beast transformed in Aznoval was holding, I had sensed its presence.
Also, that timing of surrendering…
If at that moment he learned of Princess Seoritsu’s name and obtained the hidden power it possessed… taking into account a number of weird occurrences in that fight, and the actions of Azu-san later, the power that can be inferred from it is…
“!! Wow wow, seriously. Forget about fearsome potential, you are already fearsome. Counting all the things that I have learned of you, I seriously think this from the depths of my heart. As I thought, it really was the right choice to surrender there. I was on the verge of being rendered speechless in the very literal sense of the word.” (Aznoval)
I unconsciously muttered the possibility that came out from my mind after connecting the dots.
It seems like I hit the bullseye, the face of Azu-san lost all semblance of emotion for a moment, was dyed in surprise, and then, he began laughing like crazy. After that, he nods as if praising his own decision.
Tomoe was at a lost for words. It is probably not because of the name of the sword, but because of its power.
In that fight, Azu-san was probably able to see at the very least 30 seconds, 1 minute, or maybe even further into the future, most likely since the moment he released the ‘Nameless one that must not be spoken of’, and was fighting using that information.
That’s why he stopped.
…At that timing…when I stopped trying to avoid the Iai, and right before I was about to finish Azu-san with the method I thought of.
It wasn’t to kill him, but to render him unable to fight anymore.
I did think he was blocking my attacks way too perfectly, I did think he was attacking all the openings in my awareness too well; all of those are not things that can be aimed at in those timings that are shorter than an instant.
I was surprised, wondering what kind of instincts and experience he had that would make it possible for him to achieve all this, but in truth, it would be more natural to think of it as some sort of special ability.
Moreover, it was unnatural that it suddenly slipped into his battle style.
Right now I am unable to understand it in detail, but if we think of it as an ability that dwells inside one of the strongest weapons in the world…I feel like I can agree to it.
But, I didn’t expect it to be such a convenient ability that could be used without any cost.
“Depending on the situation, it is a power that might become the natural enemy of Tomoe-san.” (Aznoval)
“Hmph, bark all you want.” (Tomoe)
…So he has already accurately grasped the way to use it huh.
Extensive combat experience affects the level, but the knowledge that you gain from it, doesn’t; even so, it is still fearsome.
“By the way, Azu-san, I remember hearing the name of that God in my time at Japan. I don’t know the fine details of it though.” (Makoto)
If I remember correctly, it is a Goddess that is related to purification.
I can’t bring out any info about what kind of God it was, what was her history, or what other name she possessed.
Or more like, I know nothing.
The only things I know is that it is a Goddess related to water, and that she is related to purifications.
Since it was a sealing sword that existed for a place like the Yomi-Birazaka, it might have been a God that had that kind of backstory.
I look at Azu-san.
When he said it, it felt as if he already knew that the name of that sword was the name of a Japanese Goddess.
He probably more knows of her than me.
For some reason, I was vexed by that.
“It is the name of a Goddess that many people don’t even know the name of. It is from a really old land. But well, beginning a lecture about that land at this moment would be too inadequate. Let’s return to the main topic.” (Aznoval)
“The only thing I know is that she is a water Goddess that is connected to purifications.” (Makoto)
If I had more knowledge, I would have been able to understand a bit more the emotions Azu-san is feeling now.
“…That’s plenty enough -no, this might even enter the knowledgable area already. You have splendid amounts of knowledge, Makoto-kun. You see, I have an interest in shrines and myths, and it seems you do as well. And they are limited to Japanese ones. That’s why I am slightly knowledgeable about it, that’s all.” (Aznoval)
So he even saw through this vexing of mine. Azu-san smiles at me with a kind expression.
His gaze felt incredibly far, as if he were looking at the past.
“…I was born in Shiga, you see.” (Aznoval)
The prefecture where the Lake Biwa is located in huh.
I have never gone there. I did think of going to Chikubushima one day.
…I couldn’t realize it though.
Of course, I don’t know much about it either.
“There was a shrine there that enshrined Princess Seoritsu. It wasn’t that much of a popular spot, it was a small shrine named Kawasogi shrine. And so, after a number of strange chances I got, I ended up being especially knowledgeable about this Goddess named Princess Seoritsu.” (Aznoval)
“Strange chances huh.” (Makoto)
Is it like how it happened with me and Tsukuyomi-sama?
I also feel like it is something different from that.
But I can somewhat understand.
I am not from any of the six prefectures of Honshu, or from Kyoto, and I haven’t gone to Shikoku either, but even with that, I have still gone to a number of places that were related to Tsukuyomi-sama.
For example; the shrine at Gassan, one of the shrines of Tsukuyomi at the side of the Kyoto’s Matsuo Grand Shrine, and the shrine of Tsukiyomi at the depths of the mountain Tokushima.
There’s more places like that as well, and I still remember going to those places.
Since before meeting with the God itself, I already held decent knowledge of it.
This might be…different from a debt of gratitude, and more like…fate.
Then, in the case of the other Gods, there are as well, but the numbers decrease by a lot.
“Well, even the name is steadily being forgotten by the general populace, so Makoto-kun remembering the name is a surprise in itself. The fact that there’s a sword with a name like that in this world, and that I swung it around without knowing about it…makes me feel that it is a strange coincidence.” (Aznoval)
“Ah, right. That’s just talk about me. It has nothing to do with Makoto-kun, the heroes, and the Goddess. It is not something I should be talking about. Now then, let’s answer Tomoe-san’s question next.” (Aznoval)
“…Now then, I am looking forward to what words you are going to use to slip away from answering-ja na.” (Tomoe)
“It happened not long after I obtained this sword. Explaining the sequence of events at that time would be way too long, so I will be giving a rough explanation of it. We, who had come here before Takane-kun appeared, heard a voice when we were at the mid-floors.” (Aznoval)
“A voice?” (Tomoe)
“Yeah. At that time, we didn’t know that this place was the Isekai version of the Yomi-Birazaka, so we forcefully obtained the sword that I wanted no matter what, and we were on our way back.” (Aznoval)
“The owner of that voice was the one who stopped this big disaster that you were talking about, Tomoe-san.” (Aznoval)
“…Hoh? Are you saying this is where the Goddess-sama appears?” (Tomoe)
The voice of Tomoe sounded somewhat irritated.
She probably made the connection; the reason why she was called here together with me.
“Root, that was in those days called the Sky Dragon and also the Harmony Dragon. At that time, we thought Root was on equal footing with the Goddess. The one who taught us about how wrong this thought of ours was, was the Land Dragon, that was at times also called the Boundary Dragon…a giant dragon by the name of Futsu.” (Aznoval)
“Futsu again. I don’t know about that Superior Dragon.” (Tomoe)
“Of course, I will be showing you decisive proof for you lady who doesn’t know of it and doesn’t believe in its existence. That’s right, proof of its existence! Makoto-kun, please deploy your Magic Armor firmly! Now then, I will be introducing you briefly to the world of the dead!!” (Aznoval)
“What did you say-ja to?!” (Tomoe)
Before we finished speaking, Azu-san, who had his back facing towards us, raised his sword -Princess Seoritsu- and stabbed it into the big rock.
I already had the Magic Armor deployed even before he told me to deploy it anyways, so there was no problem in that front.
The problem is…not only the big rock, even the ground itself had cracks running through all of it, and from there, a thick dark red gushed out from the openings.
And there’s also the fact that we are probably being taken to the world of the dead that I am definitely not mentally prepared to go to!
“Azu-san?! Rather than calling this an invitation, isn’t this more like kidnapping?!” (Makoto)
“Aznoval, you bastard!” (Tomoe)
“It is not a place that you can normally go while being alive, Makoto-kun! Don’t worry, this is just the beginning of an extravagant journey! It will be only the tip, so don’t worry!” (Aznoval)
He didn’t deny it.
So you are aware that this is practically kidnapping huh! Damn it!
What’s that about ‘only the tip’?! My heart is not prepared for this!!!