Saturday, September 16, 2023 @

Volume 2 Chapter 20 A Cute Junior and a Secret Talk

 "Relationship? She's just here for a homestay."

 "That's a lie, isn't it?"

 Hinata immediately refuted my words.

 With eyes that seemed to see right through everything, Hinata peered into my face.

 What's going on? Why is Hinata asking such things? While it's true that Lisha's homestay setup is a bit unusual, I managed to get it approved by the university through my connections. The fact that Lisha can experience university life should make my story believable.

 "It's not a lie. Besides, foreign girls don't just come to a guy's place without a reason."

 "Normally, a family wouldn't entrust a girl to a single guy for a homestay."

 "That's why it's not just me. Someone acting as a guardian came too."

 "Is that 'guardian' really that young?"

 "...She's my cousin. I don't know much about her family situation over there. And why are you so concerned about this?"

 I couldn't figure out what Hinata wanted to know.

 Above all, she seemed carefree but incredibly considerate. She wasn't the type to rudely pry into other people's affairs.

 Something's not right.

 As I tried to search for the source of this discomfort and looked back at Hinata, she unexpectedly made a move.

 With a light jolt, a soft sensation collided with my chest and waist.

 A slender arm wrapped around my back, and a faint, sweet fragrance emanated from the hair. It took me a moment to realize that Hinata was hugging me.


 "Senpai, you're so unfair. You're aware of my feelings for you, aren't you?"

 "Hold on, Hinata! What are you doing?"

 I tried to pull away in a hurry, but the arm holding me tightened even further. When I looked down, Hinata was looking up at me with upturned eyes.

 In those moist eyes and the pleasant sensation, my head started to spin. What's going on here?

 "You just broke up with Tsukiko-senpai, and now Lisha-chan is getting involved. When will you notice me?"

 "Huh? What are you talking about, Hinata? You're strange!"

 "There's nothing strange here; it's you, senpai, who's acting strangely."

 Wait, is this some kind of romantic situation? Something like a dreamy campus romance? Hinata had never shown any signs of this before.

 While I had noticed that Hinata was unusually close compared to other club members, I never thought it might be romantic feelings.

 I released my grip on Hinata's shoulder.


 Gradually, my head began to clear. If Hinata really had feelings for me, I should be genuinely happy about it. If the circumstances were different, I might even be jumping for joy.

 But right now, I couldn't respond to Hinata's feelings. There were many reasons for that. I still hadn't completely let go of Tsukiko, and I was in the middle of the God-Demon War, which left me with no room for anything else.

 So, I had to reject Hinata properly.

 "Hinata, please listen to me."

 "No, I won't."

 "Why not?"

 "Because I already have a vague idea of what you want to say."

 Hinata said this and then closed their eyes gently. Hinata's beautiful face drew closer. Even I, who was somewhat slow on the uptake, understood what was being asked.

 Wait, are we really doing this? Isn't this something you do when you're in a relationship? But if I refuse even this, it might hurt Hinata. What should I do?


 There was no more time to hesitate. Rejecting a girl who had come this far was not the way of a gentleman. Besides, I was technically single, so I didn't have to worry about anyone else's feelings.

 Once I made up my mind, Hinata seemed to sense it. Her face drew closer slowly.


 Alright, be a man!

 As I closed my eyes, all unnecessary thoughts were cut off. At that moment, I focused solely on Hinata.

 From there, things happened quickly.

 Amidst the sweet fragrance, there was a strange odor mixed in.

 To be precise, it wasn't an actual smell but more like a sense of discomfort.

 Bam! I forcefully pushed away the arm that, under normal circumstances with Hinata, I would never have let go of. Hana's slender body staggered back a few steps.

 I didn't notice it when I was agitated, but I could see it now. Hinata was clearly different from her usual self. It wasn't just her expression or mannerisms. To put it in words, there was an aura about her that felt otherworldly.

 My instincts dulled, or so I thought, but it was different. That aura had definitely appeared just before.

 My consciousness became a blade, and my magic power swelled.

 Something was inside Hinata.

 Hinata was still alive, and it wasn't the worst-case scenario. But just not being the worst didn't mean the situation couldn't take a dangerous turn.

 "Who are you?"

 I said, my voice surprisingly stern.

 Stay calm. If I provoke the entity inside Hinata, it might harm her.

 "What are you talking about, senpai? Hinata is still Hinata."

 It replied with Hinata's face while laughing. That fact sent shivers down my spine, and anger boiled up from deep within me.

 "Senpai, what are you saying? Please stop with these strange jokes."

 As she said this, the entity started walking towards me.

 What should I do? I've dealt with possessing spirits and parasitic creatures before, but without knowing the identity, the risk was too high. To use "My True Name" and cut down the enemy without harming Hinata, I needed specific information.

 If it was using Hinata's body as a host, should I knock her out first and then examine what's inside? No, the moment she lose consciousness, it might harm Hinata from within.


 While I was pondering, Hinata kept getting closer.

 It could be material, a living being, a spirit, or magic—there was no way to narrow it down. I couldn't rely on anything but her presence to make my decision to strike repeatedly while changing my magic formula at a speed that the opponent couldn't react to. And all this without harming Hinata.

 As Hinata took that final step, I decided to strike repeatedly.

 Kill until they're dead.

 Without a single wound on Hinata, annihilate the enemy.

 Just as I was about to activate my magic, something passed right by my side.


 It pierced straight through Hinata's chest. Light burst from the point of impact, and I could see their strength fading.

 I hurriedly kicked the ground and caught Hinata as she fell backward.

 "Hinata! Hey!"

 No response. The eerie feeling I had just sensed from them was gone, and Hinata's breathing was completely normal.

 "Are you okay, Yuusuke-sama? She's just sleeping."

 I turned around at the voice coming from behind and saw Kanami, who should have been outside the school. She wasn't wearing a gothic dress; her outfit was quite ordinary. In her hand, however, she held a rugged-looking pistol.

 Did Kanami fire that shot? Did she notice my magic power and come to my aid, or did she use her eyes to find it? Either way, I was saved.

 I examined Hinata more closely to make sure everything was fine. She really were just sleeping; there were no external injuries, and there didn't seem to be anything wrong with her breathing. I couldn't be sure until she woke up, but there didn't appear to be any harm done.

 With a sigh of relief, I noticed that I was sweating profusely, and my own breathing had become heavy.

 "...I was hesitating on how to handle this."

 "I needn't any thanks. I apologize for overlooking it."

 Kanami said this and lowered her head.

 "No, it's fine. It's just that what I heard and what happened were slightly different."

 From what I had heard, the malevolent magic could make someone take on another person's appearance. But the current Hinata wasn't being impersonated by a demon. Something had possessed her.

 Kanami also responded with a puzzled expression.

 "This form is something I've never seen before. I never expected it to use a division like this."

 "Is what's inside the same as the personification that impersonated a human?"

 "The form and content have changed considerably to match the function, but fundamentally, it seems to be the same thing."

 As Kanami answered, her left eye faintly glittered. Could she see all of this with her Shayka Eyes? It was indeed a handy magic tool.

 Nevertheless, I never expected them to target me in such a way.

 By activating 'My True Name,' the traitorous guardian probably couldn't recognize that the knight were the same person as me. So, the demon must have intended to infiltrate a fragment into me, a weak ordinary person, to kill Lisha.

 Hinata was used as a pawn for that purpose.

 I had naturally considered this possibility. No matter how many precautions I took or how vigilant I was, when I engage in a battle, anything could happen. Hostages, retaliation, indiscriminate slaughter—during a battle, values such as ethics and morality were lighter than a cotton ball.

 During my time as a Hero, I was forced to understand this whether I liked it or not.

 Even so...

 "Yuusuke-sama, what will you do after this——"

 Kanami tried to say something, but I stopped her.

 The air crackled, and the ground trembled slightly. It was clear that this was because of my overflowing magic power. D*mn it, I'm not a newbie; I should have perfect control over my magic power. Don't show such embarrassing agitation.

 "...Kanami, stay with Lisha for a while."

 "Understood. Yuusuke-sama, you——"

 "Take Hinata to the infirmary. And also... Contact Kagami-san. If there are types that can change and those that parasitize, it's going to be tricky."

 There was a high possibility that someone was already being parasitized. If we mishandled this, there could be significant casualties.

 So, stay calm. Examine each step carefully and think about how to minimize the damage. Try to anticipate what kind of thinking and actions an unknown demon might have.

 And then...

 I tightened my grip on Hinata.

 "I'll definitely knock them out."

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