“Rifreya, aren’t you cold? Use this. I bought it yesterday, so it is clean.” (Hikaru)
I take off my overcoat and put it on Rifreya.
It is an overcoat made of stiff and hard cloth, but it should be better than having nothing.
“…Are you not cold, Hikaru?” (Rifreya)
“No, I am pretty resistant to cold.” (Hikaru)
“You don’t sound convincing at all with that pale face… Ei!” (Rifreya)
She slides towards me to the point of sticking her body to mine, and then puts the overcoat to cover the both of us.
The heat of us both was being concentrated by the overcoat, and it was warm.
But it is a pretty embarrassing situation.
“See? With this, we are both warm.” (Rifreya)
“Yeah, but…” (Hikaru)
“Fufu… I spent the night sitting on the stairs with my previous party too. But I didn’t in my wildest dreams think that I would spend the night sitting side by side with a man in this way.” (Rifreya)
“Same here. I didn’t even have any intentions of getting close to anyone in this city after all.” (Hikaru)
“Yeah. You could say getting along with you was a big miscalculation.” (Hikaru)
“Saying something like that again…” (Rifreya)
After that, we didn’t say a single word for a while.
In this darkness that’s ruled by silence, we were just feeling our body heat.
…Once this battle ends, we won’t be diving together again.
She will become a templar in her homeland, and I will be living in this dungeon forever.
She might come meet me every now and then. I would be fine with that.
Being like this, I find it hard to let go of her.
Those are my honest feelings.
Yesterday, Rifreya brought me out to the light of the sun. Even if only for a brief period of time, I managed to forget about Earth.
If it is her, I might be able to walk in this world. I certainly did feel that.
I want to be with her forever.
Things would be so easy if I could just say that.
But the more I think about that, the more I treasure her, the more I have to keep her away from me.
It would make the 7 billion people in Earth watch her.
“…Hikaru, I love you.” (Rifreya)
Who knows how many times she has confessed already.
I can’t even tell why she has liked me this much.
But that might be just how love works.
“Just by being like this, I feel so fulfilled that I don’t need anything else… To the point that I forget about my household, and about my little sister.” (Rifreya)
“…Is that so.” (Hikaru)
“…That’s why, Hikaru, even if this ends… I want to be together with you forever. Diving the dungeon together, renting a room together…without the time limit…forever.” (Rifreya)
She managed to say what she didn’t manage to say before.
I gave a time limit of 2 weeks. That’s because that’s the duration of the Viewer Count Race. Because I was thinking of using her in that time frame only.
But I didn’t expect Rifreya to hold this much interest towards me in that period of time. ‘She will most likely notice her misunderstanding and take distance from me’ -I thought that’s what would happen.
Just seeing the reaction of Alex, anyone can tell that Rifreya is an outstanding beauty.
Peculiar platinum blonde hair, big almond color eyes, glossy lips with a tint red, and her proportions are on the level of a model.
A girl like that should have as many choices as she wants.
That’s why I couldn’t believe that she would be swayed by a plain guy like me with no redeeming qualities.
I thought she was simply telling herself she liked me because I saved her life and was doing all this out of a sense of duty.
…But…there were no lies in her words just now.
Her words rang seriously and earnestly.
“I…can’t be together with you anymore, Rifreya.” (Hikaru)
That’s why I clenched my teeth and answered in this manner.
…I am attracted to her -to an unbearable degree.
I want to be together with her too.
Just how fun would it be to continue exploring together with Rifreya and Grapefull?
I feel like I would be able to find meaning in my life for this twist of fate that was coming to this world if it is together with her. My time with her was so special that I could feel confident about this.
It is exactly because of this…
That I can’t be with her anymore.
“…It is not…that you hate me, right?” (Rifreya)
“If I were to answer that, I would be one mean person. That’s why…I can’t answer.” (Hikaru)
It is because I love her that I can’t be with her. There’s no way she would acknowledge an answer like that.
But, in regards to the reason…it is still not over yet, but it might be okay to tell her.
No, I must tell her.
If she takes distance from me with that, that’s okay.
There isn’t that much time left. Once the Demon Lord is defeated, the Viewer Count Race will end.
I have borrowed the help of Rifreya to an unbelievable extent already.
“Then, why…? I…was a good party member, right? We have finished clearing the 3rd Floor, and we could have explored the 4th Floor and maybe even the 5th Floor. If you don’t tell me…I…won’t be able to give up.” (Rifreya)
“Rifreya… You know…I am not from this world.” (Hikaru)
She opened her eyes wide at my sudden confession.
I said something incomprehensible, so this is natural.
“I came from a different world to this one. Around…40 days ago. You might not be able to believe this though.” (Hikaru)
“That’s just… No, this is the truth, right, Hikaru?” (Rifreya)
She distanced herself slightly from me, tilted her body this way, and looked straight at my eyes.
Those eyes of hers had the light of someone that wanted to face me with sincere feelings.
“The reason I can’t be with you is there. We otherworlders are being watched by the people of our world. Like gladiators made to fight as entertainment. Even at this very moment.” (Hikaru)
“Being watched, you say… But no one is watching.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya looks restlessly around.
If I hadn’t been given the information beforehand in the Status Board, I wouldn’t have believed that I am being watched 24/7 by people either.
“Don’t look at me like that. As if I would make a stupid lie like this… Even now, 800 million people are watching us, and even listening to this conversation.” (Hikaru)
“800 million, you say… I haven’t even heard of that amount of people before.” (Rifreya)
The word million might not be a denominator you hear in this world.
Rifreya once again directed a gaze of suspicion towards me.
Of course she would. If I had been told this at the time when I was on Earth, I would have doubted the other party’s sanity.
- Chapter 096: Because I am an Outsider and Because I Decided to Live Alone
“I don’t have proof, but…right. Watch this.” (Hikaru)
I operate the Status Board, use 3 Crystals, and buy a blanket.
A blanket came out smoothly from nothing.
I placed that blanket on the shoulders of Rifreya.
Rifreya was taken aback by this, and was confirming the touch of the blanket.
“We get Points depending on whether we otherworlders have entertained the guys on the other side…the viewers. By using those, you can buy a variety of items. This blanket was something I bought with that. The spirit energy potion I gave you before was from that too… This is something that…would be impossible for the people in this world, right?” (Hikaru)
“B-But…you have the shadow storage. Didn’t you bring it out from there…?” (Rifreya)
“If I had it to begin with, I would have brought it out a long time ago. Also, you take it out from the shadows with Shadow Storage. It is not like things come out from thin air.” (Hikaru)
I sink my hand into my shadow, and bring out a rope.
Things come out from different places. The Status Board is in midair after all.
“But…even if that’s the case, that doesn’t really make it a reason for you to not be able to be with me, right? I don’t really care about where you come from.” (Rifreya)
“I also wouldn’t have cared if it were just about my origins… It is not that, it is the part about the viewers watching. It is a situation I can’t do anything about.” (Hikaru)
“…? I don’t really mind though. I can’t even feel it after all.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya tilts her head cutely.
I figured she would be answering like that.
Can’t even feel it. Not feeling the reality of it.
I probably don’t even feel it either.
The only thing that shows me this are the numbers in the Status Board after all.
Or maybe the unread ‘messages’ that I still haven’t opened and continue increasing?
“It bothers me. I…don’t want to display you to others, Rifreya. I don’t want them to look.” (Hikaru)
“Don’t want them to look, you say… Ah, are you talking about that night…?” (Rifreya)
“That’s right. I am truly sorry about that night. I was drunk, and…I didn’t expect you to make such a bold move, Rifreya… Wait, that’s just me making excuses. You can reprimand me as much as you wish.” (Hikaru)
“T-That’s something I did myself, so I don’t really mind. Hmm, you don’t want them to see me, huh… Is that…possessiveness?” (Rifreya)
She gave me an upward glance and her mouth curved up as she asked me this.
“Don’t make such a happy face. It is possessiveness… No, if I had to put it more accurately, it is a more complicated feeling, but…anyways, I had you cooperate with me without telling you something this important.” (Hikaru)
“Hmm~, I don’t get it. You can fight pretty well by yourself, right, Hikaru? You don’t really need my help, right? You even gave a deadline, so you gotta explain everything to me.” (Rifreya)
“I needed to increase my viewers no matter what for these 2 weeks only… If I get 1st place, I can get a special item. I want it no matter what.” (Hikaru)
I was repulsed at myself just saying it.
‘I wanted something, so I used you’.
That’s basically what it meant.
“What do you get?” (Rifreya)
When she asked me this, I decided to tell everything to Rifreya.
It seems like there’s still time before the Demon Lord shows up.
I spoke about Nanami.
About how I came to this world after having been killed.
About how I barely made it out of the forest with my life.
And…that I am hated to death by the people on the other side because I am suspected of being the one that killed my childhood friend.
Rifreya silently listened to my story.
I don’t know if she will be able to understand even if I explain it to her.
It should be really hard to understand for the people in this world, including the circumstances.
Even so, I spoke. Once I began speaking, I couldn’t stop.
I ended up talking on and on one-sidedly.
…Maybe I just wanted someone to hear me out.
Alex said: ‘It is painful not being able to talk about my own roots’. I feel like I understand the meaning now. It didn’t click with me at that time, but it really is hard to understand oneself.
“…That’s everything. The reason why I am here.” (Hikaru)
“So…that’s how it was…” (Rifreya)
It is questionable whether Rifreya actually properly understood my circumstances.
But by hearing me out, I feel like a bit of my worries in my chest had been taken away.
“Uhm…that childhood friend…is a girl, right? Was she your girlfriend?” (Rifreya)
“We didn’t have that kind of relationship. She was the closest girl I knew, but we knew each other since infancy, so I would say we were more like siblings…like family.” (Hikaru)
That’s most likely the closest word that can describe my relationship with Nanami.
Compared to my little sisters that were not normal in a whole lot of ways, the normal Nanami was someone that allowed respite in my heart.
“Anyways, I am sorry for keeping it from you! But with this, you should be able to understand why I can’t be with you. Also…once this Viewer Count Race ended, I intended to pay for having used you without your consent. After getting 1st place…once I managed to revive Nanami, I would have done anything possible. I wouldn’t have minded dying if that’s what you wished for.” (Hikaru)
“Dying, you say… There’s no way I would wish for that. Also…even when you told me all that, it really doesn’t click with me, or like…I understand that you are telling this really seriously, but…I don’t really mind, you know? If they want to watch, just let them watch.” (Rifreya)
“I knew you would say that, Rifreya, but…I don’t want to. I can’t. I can’t drag you into this… I don’t want to.” (Hikaru)
Diving into the dungeon, and defeating a Demon Lord; even if I hadn’t asked, it is something that an explorer can’t avoid if they continue that line of work. That’s why, as long as she is okay with the fact that I delayed her retirement, there’s no problem.
But dragging her into a livestream that is attached to an otherworlder like me is a different story.
No matter how much I explain to Rifreya, there’s no way she would be able to get it. It is a world where PCs, smartphones, and even TVs don’t exist, so there’s no way she would be able to understand.
I am not such a fiend that would go ‘it is fine since she said it is fine’.
There’s also the fact that I am being hated. I would drag her into that too.
“…Is there nothing that can be done?” (Rifreya)
“Nothing. Also, you have your dream of becoming a templar, right? Forget that you met me, and make your dream come true.” (Hikaru)
“…Then, what would happen with you, Hikaru? What are you going to do…after we go our separate ways?” (Rifreya)
“I still haven’t thought about it, but maybe I’ll live my life hunting monsters mainly in the 2nd Floor.” (Hikaru)
If I hunt monsters in the 2nd Floor while doing almost the same thing everyday, I won’t be getting the attention of the viewers, and it shouldn’t be a bad lifestyle.
I am pushing myself here because I want to revive Nanami, but it is actually a bit rough on me. The voices of the Spirits, the gazes of the Spirits; there are times when I would misconstrue them as the gazes from Earth.
After reading those messages…I was completely traumatized.
Even now, somewhere in my heart, I still have the desire of living in the darkness forever.
“Do you…intend to die…?” (Rifreya)
Those words of Rifreya startled me.
Once I revive Nanami, I will eventually give up on living, and put an end to it. I felt as if she had seen right through that part in my heart that felt it was okay to do that.
“…I won’t die. I will simply be going back to how I was before I met you.” (Hikaru)
“Liar… Don’t lie to me with a face like that.” (Rifreya)
“It is not a lie. Well, I will probably be leading what’s basically a dead life though. Hahaha!” (Hikaru)
I tried laughing it off lightly.
I honestly think that was a pretty bad deflect, but she didn’t pursue it further.
She must have understood that my feelings are not going to be changing.
“Hikaru, I told you I have a little sister, right? Do you remember that?” (Rifreya)
“I do. You said you had a talented little sister.” (Hikaru)
“I also told you I was dungeon diving because I needed money, right?” (Rifreya)
“And so, I didn’t tell you this, but…my little sister is ill. The medical treatment requires a lot of money.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya said before that the reason why she dungeon dove was because she was training to become a templar and to earn money.
I didn’t think too deeply as to how she would be using that money.
“You are remitting that money?” (Hikaru)
“Yeah… My mother has already retired from being a templar. Living off of the pension is one thing, but it isn’t enough for the treatment.” (Rifreya)
I see, Rifreya and her little sister were supposed to become templars and earn money for their family. Because that plan has crumbled, she has been sending money home while training to become a templar…is basically how it is, huh.
“Then, there’s more reason to pass the templar exam.” (Hikaru)
“Wrong, Hikaru. The templar business is fine already. I will be an explorer here forever…together with you, Hikaru.” (Rifreya)
“Don’t be silly.” (Hikaru)
“I have been able to send a whole lot of money home since I made a party with you, Hikaru, and with this, there’s no need to force myself to become a templar. More importantly, it would be better to be together with the person I lov—” (Rifreya)
I don’t want her to shake my heart.
Do you know just how much I want to be by your side too?
Is this just my own selfishness, or the right act?
I don’t get anything at all.
I don’t, but there’s nothing that can be done.
“…I want you to understand. No is a no.” (Hikaru)
Rifreya hung her head down and her shoulders trembled.
I didn’t even have the right to take those shoulders in my embrace, and continued watching the deep darkness expanding to the lower floors with an absent mind.