That had the appearance of a girl.
But, that was nothing so cute that it’d justify calling it a girl.
This was something tremendously old.
This was something tremendously frightening.
For a while now, Souma’s instincts were ringing all alarm bells.
What proved that he wasn’t making a mistake was the eerie seal, depicting two winding snakes which bit each other’s tails as they seemed to form an 8 and ∞, shining brightly on the girl’s forehead. It was the seal of the Goddess of Death and Destruction.
“So you were present after all, huh Aura?”
Although he had been partly convinced of it, Souma felt overwhelmed with her standing in front of him like that.
“It looks like you haven’t lost your sick fetish of peeping at others.”
Despite him being tortured by the fear and repugnance that the thing in front of him might shed its skin of a lovely girl at any moment, just to reveal some gooey mass hidden within, Souma showered her with harsh, insulting words, mostly to pep himself up. If he didn’t do as much, it was quite likely that he’d succumb to his fear of the being in front of him.
Watching Souma pretend to be tough, Aura became sulky, “How terrible of you, my Souma. I mean, I have been shown something so wonderful. There’s no way I’d be able to endure, is there?” Aura hugged her own shoulders, trembling while being deeply moved. “Ah, what an emotional scene it was. A lord who lost his kindness and grieves at heart as many people will get injured and lose their lives. And a retainer who reaffirms the earnest loyalty she directs at no one other than her lord. What a touching scene!”
But suddenly, the face of Aura, blushing to the cheeks and her look intoxicated, completely changed, “But, it was such a very, very laughable scene.”
It was an expression of scorn, of someone looking down at filth, that distorted her face now.
“In the end, tragedy and comedy are but two sides of the same coin. Even a tragedy’s protagonist would turn into a comedy’s clown if only you change viewpoints. Even a desperate struggle looks like nothing but a dance, the dance of a clown who unsightly swings his arms and legs around, if watched from a distance. Granted, that only applies as long as you, who suffers so much, change your viewpoint a tiny bit, my irresolute, fretting, selfish boy.”
Aura bent her white throat backwards, cackling a furious laughter.
“I mean, she is your destination and your starting point. She is the ground you ought to stand upon in this world, and the sky you look up to. She is your question, and at the same time, the very answer you desire. And despite knowing all that, you visibly suffer, worry, and demand answers. You’re just like an unreasonable brat who loves to throw tantrums. Aahh! How ridiculous. How unsightly. Right, my foolish Souma?”
Souma raised his voice in anger at her scathing insults, “Stop running your mouth about me and Shyemul, you cursed fiend!”
However, Aura continued with her scorn, feeling absolutely no hurt from being slandered by Souma, “Oh my, oh my, if you cherish her so much, how about stuffing her into a box? It’d be a tragedy if you lost her by some chance. Yep, a disaster, indeed. A very, very terrible disaster.”
Souma shuddered at Aura’s way of speaking, “Don’t tell me…you’re not planning to do something to Shyemul, are you!?!?”
In response to Souma quivering, a bad premonition gnawing at him, Aura giggled, “I should have already told you, my forgetful Souma. I’m just watching you. Just watching. I don’t plan to do anything.”
“As if I’d be able to believe that!” Souma hurled back at her, his voice raised into yelling. “You always delight over tormenting me! That also applies to the situation right now! Wasn’t it you who instigated Holmea to attack us!?”
The plan to buy some time by Holmea and Romania keeping each other in check should have mostly succeeded. But as if completely overturning that, Holmea’s strongest army corps is about to be sent our way instead. This situation totally looks like something Aura, who always spurs me on to fight, would desire.
Aura revealed nothing but scorn at Souma’s suspicion, “I instigated this situation, you say? Aahh, how arrogant you are. Aahh, how little of your own standing you understand. Do you believe that you’re clasping everything of this world in your hands? This world is populated by countless people. And those people unknown to you follow objectives unknown to you and take actions unknown to you. And yet, you’re blaming me for all of those? How haughty of you, my Souma.”
Souma’s face blushed out of shame upon Aura’s sneer.
“I know as much myself!” He had been stabbed where it hurt, but despite that, Souma couldn’t help but to talk back. “You’re such an nasty bitch! So it’s only natural for me to suspect you, isn’t it!?”
Aura acted as if being hurt by Souma’s blame, “How cold of you, my beloved Souma. Just when did I harass you, my dear, dear Souma? Did I ever inconvenience you in any way, my darling, darling Souma?”
“Don’t play the fool with me!”
Having been thoroughly toyed with by Aura up until now, Souma’s anger exploded in response to her brazen and shameless words. He thrust a finger at Aura, who was playing innocent, and shouted, “The same applies to the blessing you gave me!”
During the last five years, Souma had investigated the divine blessings handed out by the gods. And the more he investigated, the clearer it became just how very abnormal his own blessing was. A divine blessing was the manifestation of a god’s love and mercy towards someone.
Even after reading through the records of past divine children, Souma couldn’t spot a single instance where a divine blessing would only cause disadvantages to the one being blessed like his own blessing did.
If speaking of a blessing that came close to it, Shyemul’s might fit the bill somewhat. However, this was something she had requested of the beast god by herself in order to discipline herself. And even then, she was still granted a blessing that would punish all those who infringed upon her honor.
Souma’s divine blessing was truly and utterly unprecedented.
Souma flew into range at Aura being shamelessly able to say that she had never harassed him in any way after cursing Souma with such a divine blessing.
“Say, Souma――” Aura smirked, “――do you really believe so?”
Souma returned with a scornful laugh, “Hah, do you honestly think that I don’t have the resolve to personally hurt or kill others at this point in time?”
If I assume there’s any usefulness to my own divine blessing, it’d be at most me avoiding to hurt or murder others with my own hands.
In reality, Souma had never personally hurt or killed anyone after coming to this world, and it was a fact that this circumstance drastically reduced the burden on Souma’s heart, as someone who came here from the peaceful, modern Japan. But, by now it was a story of the past.
During the five years of his reign in Bolnis, he had stolen many lives, even if not with his own hands. It wasn’t limited to bandits, thieves, and robbers either. He had sentenced those, who committed grave crimes in the city, to death in accordance with the laws, and sometimes he had also witnessed their executions. Of course it’d be a lie if he claimed that he didn’t feel reluctant about personally hurting or killing other people. But, Souma was convinced that he already possessed plenty of resolve and experience to carry it out.
And yet, Aura laughed madly as if ridiculing an innocent boy, “How foolish you are, Souma. It’s nothing you can overcome so easily. It’s nothing you could grow accustomed to so readily.”
Suddenly, Aura drew close to him, smoothly and without any hesitation. Souma was taken by surprise as nothing had warned him of her approach, and thus he was unable to stop Aura from placing her hands on both his cheeks.
And then, Aura brought her face close so as to peer into Souma’s eyes, and asked, “You truly don’t feel happy about this blessing? You truly don’t feel saved by having such a blessing? Tell me, my Souma?”
There’s no way that’s true. Souma tried to laugh it off like that. But, he was unable to.
Sadistic pleasure dyed Aura’s eyes, “Seeee, you noticed it after all, my lying Souma.”
Coming to his senses thanks to Aura’s remark, Souma immediately denied her words, “Don’t be stupid! No way that’s true, right!? That’s simply not true!!!”
Aura pouted, her lips pursed and extended, upon seeing Souma’s behavior, “How ungrateful and unkind of you, my Souma. But, if you go this far, I shall make a special exception for you and give you the blessing you desire.”
Souma blinked his eyes in surprise due to Aura’s unforeseen offer.
“My foolish Souma, what kind of blessing do you wish to have? What kind of power do you hope for?” As Souma fell on his backside, Aura slowly walked up to him. “A mystical force allowing you to bring death upon those hostile to you by just wishing it? Military prowess to slay ten thousands of soldiers within a short time? Magic power to destroy a million soldiers with a single spell? A power of invincibility to repel all kinds of death? Or a charm to wet the crotches of any woman who lays their eyes upon you, be it innocent virgin or experienced prostitute?”
And then, like an iron maiden who invited its victim into its thorny embrace, like a loving mother who tried to embrace her own child, Aura slowly but widely spread her arms.
“Anything, anything, anything! I shall give you any power you desire, my foolish, darling Soumaaa.”
A dazzling, crimson gleam escaped her two eyes and the seal on her forehead as she peered down on Souma, her face otherwise hidden by the shadows of darkness.