WM – Chapter 323: Takatsuki Makoto worries

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“The main cities of the West Continent have all fallen into the hands of the Calamity Witch…” 

The knight of the Sun Country opened up with the bad news right from the get-go.

“But Highland and Great Keith have scattered their forces, hiding them in unrelated cities at a glance, in preparation for emergencies! If we gather them, they could become a fighting force that can overthrow the witch—” 

“We did try to contact them, however, they had already fallen into the hands of the Calamity Witch.” 

“In the first place, the royalty, nobles, and even generals of the various countries have been Charmed by the Witch, so they probably already know about the hidden forces…” 

“…No way. Does that mean we have been completely isolated?” 

“That still hasn’t been made clear yet!” 

“But where should we be asking for help then…?” 

“This place doesn’t even have an organized military…” 

The meeting room was already filled with a heavy atmosphere.

I was wondering if I should stay silent, but I tried asking something that was bothering me. 

“How did you ascertain that they were Charmed? And if they were, wouldn’t this place also be compromised?” (Makoto)

It would be troubling if the place that we managed to escape to with the help of Cain was easily discovered.

“I will explain, Hero-dono of the Water Country. There’s a magic tool to measure the mental state of the other party in the magic transmission. With that, we reached the conclusion that everyone we contacted was Charmed. We masked our magic transmission so it can’t be traced. Charmed people who have had their thought process deteriorated wouldn’t be able to undo that mask…” 

“I see…” (Makoto)

My amateurish thoughts were cleared up.

But the situation isn’t good at all.

“I will continue the report. According to the measurement of the barrier user here, it will take around 14 days for the Charm Barrier of the Calamity Witch to reach this Habhain Archipielago. It would take 25 days more to cover the whole world. I think there’s a margin of error though…” 

“You are saying this world will fall into the hands of the witch in a mere 40 days? How can this be…?” 

“Is there nothing we can do?!” 

“What about the other continents?! What is the Grenflare Empire doing?!” 

“They apparently have already begun moving, but…they are not telling us the details.” 

“It is not like we had close diplomatic relations after all…” 

Grenflare Empire is apparently the biggest nation in the South Continent. 

Then, they must be making a move of some sort, but…that’s praying too much for outside help, huh.

“Hero-dono of the Water Country…do you have any ideas?” 

Someone looked at me and said this.

Everyone’s eyes gathered at me. 

“No, unfortunately…” (Makoto)

I had no choice but to answer honestly. 

Conquer the Deep Sea Temple and borrow the strength of the Goddess…that’s way too much wishful thinking. 

I haven’t been able to think of a way to clear it after all.

“““…”””

The expressions of everyone darken even more. 

All Heroes of the West Continent have fallen to the hands of the Calamity Witch.

If only I could say something that cheers everyone up as the only Hero, but I couldn’t find any proper words. 

And so, the meeting came to an end without finding a solution.

Search for the remaining forces of the West Continent. 

Seek the help of the other continents. 

Those two points became our current strategy. 

The inside of the residence was restless.

The conversations that flew around were ‘where Noel-sama should emigrate…’.

It is true that we shouldn’t be hiding here in these small islands forever. 

We don’t have any decent forces here after all.

But where…?

The whole world will be Charmed in around 1 month. 

There’s nowhere to run.

Everyone was arguing topics that had no exit as if they were trying to advance inside pitch black darkness fumbling around. 

I silently left the mansion since I can’t do anything here. 

The sky and sea that still have blue remaining spread before my eyes. 

When this sight turns completely gray, the world will be in the hands of the Calamity Witch.

(I will do what I can…) (Makoto)

Calls for reinforcement to other countries can only be done by Queen Noel.

The only thing I can do is the dirty work like fighting. 

If enemy forces attack this place, I will join the defense.

Until then, the most I can do would be to challenge the Deep Sea Temple.

…If the world gets ruled by the Calamity Witch, it might be impossible to even oppose her after all.

◇◇

A few days later.

I continued challenging the Deep Sea Temple. 

That said, if I were to run in there, I would easily die. 

I can’t use Spirit Magic after all.

I was observing the state of Leviathan.

But…

(It isn’t moving at all…) (Makoto)

The usual Divine Beasts won’t move at all like mountains. 

The only times it shows movements is when I appear or Krakens wander in here and end up being preyed on.

I have pushed a whole ton of Krakens into the den of the Divine Beast using a Great Water Spirit. 

I was thinking of sneaking in with the Krakens as a veil.

The result was despairing.

The Krakens were skewered in a literal blink of an eye by the magic of the Divine Beast.

I was on the verge of being killed together with them by that spell.

It was of course aware of me as an intruder too. 

For Leviathan, the Krakens must have been like a school of fish.

They are harmless if left alone, but it can hunt them down whenever it wants. 

I tried erasing my presence instead with Stealth from the first layer all the way to the lowest one.

However, the moment I entered Leviathan’s den, it directed its gaze here. 

Stealth was pointless.

I couldn’t fool the eyes of a Divine Beast. 

There were days when I would pass a whole day just observing the state of the Divine Beast. 

But there was no new discovery. 

According to Noah-sama, Leviathan is a Divine Beast that has been protecting the oceans of this planet since 15 million years ago.

A human day is probably the blink of an eye for it. 

(I can’t think…of a solution.) (Makoto)

No matter how many times I challenge the Deep Sea Temple, I can’t see a way to do this. 

Even 1,000 years ago, I had no chance at all with Cain either. 

This time around, I am completely alone.

(If only Lucy and Sa-san were here at the very least…) (Makoto)

No, it would still be impossible.

The Teleport of Lucy and the Invincible Time of Sa-san would be reliable, but even with that, it would be rough against a Divine Beast. 

I want more hands.

But my comrades have all been Charmed by the Calamity Witch.

I am asking for what I don’t have.

In the end, no matter how much I thought of it, I couldn’t think of a solution, and I ended up falling asleep on the beach. 

The Goddesses didn’t show up in my dreams.

◇◇

“Makoto-sama? If you sleep at a place like this, you will catch a cold, you know?” 

I was shaken awake by someone. 

“…Princess…Noel…?” (Makoto)

“Yes, it is Noel.” (Noel)

I rub my sleepy eyes.

The one looking down at me is Queen Noel.

Oops, I called her princess.

“My apologies, Your Majesty.” (Makoto)

“Don’t worry about it…” (Noel)

When I corrected myself, Queen Noel made a sad expression.

“I am someone who ran away from the Sun Country… I might not have the right to be called a queen.” (Noel)

“That’s not true at all! You are guiding everyone splendidly, Queen Noel.” (Makoto)

I hurriedly jumped back up and denied that statement. 

Queen Noel is the only leader in the West Continent that hasn’t been Charmed by the Calamity Witch.

If she is gone, there would be no one to lead everyone. 

“Thanks. By the way, it seems like you are challenging the Deep Sea Temple every day, but how is it going?” (Noel)

“About that…” (Makoto)

I find it hard to say. 

I can’t even try to paint it optimistically here. 

The knights and mages residing in the Habhain Archipielago have been trying to contact the people of the West Continent and other continents every day led by Queen Noel.

Since I don’t have much knowledge in that field, I haven’t helped them out much.

I have told them that, instead, I would serve as a guard of the mansion, and would be challenging the Deep Sea Temple with the objective of getting the help of the Goddess.

Queen Noel agreed to this, so the others didn’t say anything about it, but they are probably thinking the only Hero is playing around.

The reality is that I have challenged the dungeon every day and have not made any results, so they are not exactly wrong.

I figured it would be about time they tell me to help them out on their side already… 

But I was wrong.

“I have not seen an actual dungeon…” (Noel)

That’s what Queen Noel said.

“Makes sense. It is dangerous.” (Makoto)

She is royalty and a woman after all.

I was thinking ‘there’s no princess who would be diving dungeons’.

But Queen Noel shook her head.

“Sofia-san has apparently gone inside Laberintos in order to do her Oracle training. The Wood Oracle Flona-san has explored the Demonic Forest… I haven’t had such experiences. That may be why I am so weak against these kinds of adversities…” (Noel)

The face of Queen Noel darkens again.

Hmm, looks like she is pretty mentally weakened.

The Queen Noel that actually acts all bright is moping. 

Is there a way to brighten her up…?

What I thought of ended up leaking out from my mouth.

“Want to try…going to the dungeon with me?” (Makoto)

“Eh?” (Noel)

Queen Noel opened her eyes wide at what I said.

“The only one closeby is the Deep Sea Temple, but it should be safe partway.” (Makoto)

“U-Uhm…isn’t that a Last Dungeon?” (Noel)

“I am of course not forcing you here.” (Makoto)

“R-Right… What should I do? I didn’t expect to get an invitation like that…” (Noel)

She seems to be bewildered, but it doesn’t look like she is against the idea. 

She was pondering for a while going ‘hmmm’, but she eventually looked at me as if she had resolved herself. 

“I am sure this will be the last chance I can get an offer like this, so I would like to check it out!” (Noel)

Was her answer.

…I was the one who invited her, but is it really okay for me to bring the queen of a country to a Last Dungeon? 

Well, the person herself said she wanted to, so it should be fine.

It should serve as a change of mood.

“When would you like to? I can anytime.” (Makoto)

“Right… It is already evening, so how about early morning tomorrow?” (Noel)

“Alright, then, later.” (Makoto)

“Yes! I will be under your care, Makoto-sama!” (Noel)

Queen Noel said this and left. 

I feel like she is a bit more cheerful than when she spoke to me at first.

◇Next Morning◇

“Sorry for the wait… Is this attire alright?” (Noel)

“Good morning, Noel-sama. I think it is fine.” (Makoto)

Queen Noel didn’t come in her usual dress, but in a military uniform that you would see in the battlefield.

It is probably because she doesn’t have adventurer clothes. 

I can tell at a glance that there’s several defense spells enchanted on that military uniform. 

With this, it should be safer than adventurer clothes. 

“Then, let’s go.” (Makoto)

I stretch out my right arm. 

I thought that suddenly holding the hand of a queen was rude, but I was too slow to reach that thought.

“O-Okay.” (Noel)

Queen Noel grabs my hand nervously. 

Let’s stop thinking stuff like being rude. 

Let’s properly protect her at the Last Dungeon.

Synchronization: [Sun Magic].

I use Synchronization to create a Mana Link with Queen Noel.

The spell that I got from the Sun Goddess before will help me out here.

“Then, let’s go.” (Makoto)

“Okay!” (Noel)

Me and Queen Noel jump into the sea. 

“Kya! Wow, even though we are inside the water, I can still breathe, and it isn’t cold either! Waah! There’s a lot of fishes! The snake swimming there is really big, isn’t it?!” (Noel)

Queen Noel was pretty excited. 

Despite this being her first time heading to a dungeon, she’s got quite the courage. 

“That’s a monster called a Sea Serpent.” (Makoto)

“Eh?! Isn’t it dangerous?” (Noah)

“As long as the Great Water Spirit, Dia, is nearby, the monsters won’t be getting close to begin with.” (Makoto)

Saying this, I called the Great Water Spirit and introduced her to Queen Noel.

“And so, Sun Oracle, calm down a bit.” (Dia)

“You are a Great Water Spirit… Nice to meet you. I don’t know anything about dungeons, so…” (Noel)

“It can’t be helped. I will give you a lecture.” (Dia)

“Waah, thank you very much!” (Noel)

Dia’s tone is pretty lawless, so I was a bit nervous there, but it seems like Queen Noel isn’t bothered by it. 

She is blending in easily. 

The communication ability of Queen Noel is high.

I listened to the chat of Dia and Queen Noel for a while.

We eventually reach the coastal waters of the Deep Scar. 

I face Queen Noel again.

“We will be entering the deep sea from here. It will get dark, but don’t fret. I will adjust the water temperature with water magic -the water pressure too. The monsters will get stronger in one go, but they won’t attack with the Great Water Spirit. There will be monsters who will try to get close to us, but I will drive them away. Any questions?” (Makoto)

“None.” (Noel)

Queen Noel nodded with a serious expression.

It doesn’t seem like she is trying to act tough.

I slowly departed to the deep sea. 

◇◇

“Aah, that was scary. The Kraken is that big, huh! Also, the magic of Makoto-sama and Dia-san was really amazing!” (Noel)

“I didn’t expect to go all the way to the deepest layer of the Deep Scar in your first adventure…” (Makoto)

I thought about withdrawing several times on the way, but Queen Noel went ‘I want to see what’s ahead!’, so we ended up right before reaching the Divine Beast. 

Demon Lord Cain was all scared at the first layer of the Deep Scar in his first challenge though…

It seems like the courage of Queen Noel is higher than that of a Demon Lord.

“I am glad I managed to see the Last Dungeon with my own eyes.” (Noel)

Queen Noel fixed her clothes as she said this with a smile. 

I have already dried her wet clothes with magic.

“You will be doing work after this, right? Aren’t you tired?” (Makoto)

It is not even noon yet.

She must be really busy, so is this okay? 

“No, this served as a nice change of mood… If Ryosuke-san is okay, I would like to go together with him again.” (Noel)

Her smile turned slightly sad.

“Right. We would be 100 people strong with Sakurai-kun.” (Makoto)

I also got a bit moody there. 

Is he okay with the Calamity Witch?

I doubt Furiae-san would do anything bad to him though.

“Then, I have a meeting, so I will return to the mansion. What about you, Makoto-sama…?” (Noel)

“I will continue trying the Deep Sea Temple. If the Calamity Witch’s army comes, I will keep them at bay.” (Makoto)

“Understood. Don’t push yourself too hard.” (Noel)

Saying this, Queen Noel returned to the mansion. 

Her steps were light. 

She will most likely be in continuous meetings from here on to plan for countermeasures. 

What a tough person…

“Our King, are you going to the Deep Sea Temple again?” (Dia)

By the time I noticed, the Great Water Spirit was standing at my back.

“Yeah, I have nothing else to do after all.” (Makoto)

“I honestly think it will be difficult like this though…” (Dia)

Dia is normally haughty, but she was speaking weakly here. 

“Don’t worry.” (Makoto)

I respond with a smile.

I am probably not in that good of a mental state either. 

That day, I challenged the Deep Sea Temple twice.

After that, more days passed, but the situation didn’t turn for the better. 

The sky and sea were losing their color, and were being dyed gray. 

A knight under Queen Noel came to me and told me ‘We are thinking of leaving this island’.

It seems like the effects of the Calamity Witch’s Charm have shown.

They are heading to the South Continent. 

I heard that they have finished procedures to be accepted at the empire.

I told him I would go with them. 

I could stay here since I am not affected by the Charm, but that would be irresponsible. 

This is the last day I can challenge the Deep Sea Temple. 

I kept on till late in the night, and was diving the Deep Scar the whole time. 

The result was…the usual complete defeat. 

…I couldn’t clear the Deep Sea Temple. 

◇◇

“This is…?” (Makoto)

I woke up. 

Tomorrow is the day we will be leaving the island. 

I should have been sleeping at the beach after being completely tired from the Last Dungeon. 

Below a sky filled with stars. 

But when I woke up, I was standing in the middle of a sky filled with stars. 

I was standing right there, in a place that feels like space. 

I hurriedly covered my mouth. 

However, there was absolutely no issue with my breathing. 

In other words, this is not space. 

I was on the verge of panicking here, but I calmed down with Clear Mind.

I am most likely in a dream. 

But a dream this real means…

“Heya there, Knight-kun of Furiae-chan.” 

A voice came down onto me from above. 

I felt goosebumps. 

That way too clear voice felt as if it were piercing the crown of my head. 

I hurriedly looked up to where the voice came from.

The one standing there…

Long white shining hair like a star.

Smooth brown skin like that of porcelain. 

Amethyst eyes. 

And a completely symmetrical appearance. 

At one glance, I could tell…she is not human.

Pressure and fear that’s comparable to that time when I first met Noah-sama…

I ended up kneeling out of reflex.

“I am Takatsuki…Makoto, Goddess.” (Makoto)

I said this and lowered my head.

“Oh?” 

I heard a mocking voice coming from above.

“A response like that after seeing me directly; that’s interesting. As expected from the favorite of Noah-kun. Even though most people would lose their mind when they see me.” 

Those words made it clear that she is a Goddess.

But which Goddess?

In the first place, because of the Gray World of the Calamity Witch, it is not possible to talk to Goddesses. 

I haven’t been able to get into the space of a Goddess this whole time. 

Not Noah-sama or the Destiny Goddess…

And yet, this Goddess appeared in front of me as if it was the most natural thing…

“Man, this planet has gotten interesting in the short while I wasn’t watching. Even though the meticulous Althena-kun was keeping an especially close eye on it. Thanks to that, this has become a truly boring planet aside from the fact that Noah-kun is sealed here. A barrier that rejects Gods, huh… The Holy God Goddesses must be panicking right now. Just imagining that makes me laugh. In the first place…” 

“Are you…close to Noah-sama, Goddess?” (Makoto)

I ended up asking. 

The eyes of the talkative Goddess narrowed. 

“To think you would cut in while I am talking… Do you want to die?” 

I felt as if my heart was seized. 

My body trembled.

Scary.

“Pardon…my rudeness.” (Makoto)

“Fufu, that was a joke. I am kind after all.” 

I could tell by instinct that that’s a lie. 

The Goddess in front of me is a god that would kill on a whim.

As if crushing a bug.

But there’s something I could tell from her words until now. 

She gets along with Noah-sama, and she is a Goddess that’s not from the Holy Gods.

She must have read my thoughts, she opened her mouth.

“Aah, speaking of which, I haven’t introduced myself. Sorry sorry.” 

“…”

I didn’t make the mistake of cutting in again and just waited silently for her next words.

“My name is Nyarlathotep. I would assume it would be more familiar for Knight-kun to call me Naia? By the way, Noah-kun calls me Nyaruko, but I don’t mind you calling me as you wish, Knight-kun☆.” (Naia)

That smile of hers…was like that of a child finding an interesting toy. 

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