Yes, Hornel is an aristocrat belonging to the Adams household. I’m sure I remembered right.
Didn’t rule out the possibility of them being different Houses that happened to share the same name, though.
Well, maybe we’ll find out later down the line.
The Fulbright household, on the other hand… Warren had told me that he’d like me to remember that name, despite it having already collapsed in my time.
Could it be that Warren had known beforehand of my involvement within this era?
Or had he been indirectly instructing me to come here?
…I really don’t know what to make of this whole mess.
I spun those unanswerable questions around in my head as we made our way through the Giants’ Passage.
But at one point along the way, something came up that demanded my utmost attention, making me unable to think about my issues any longer.
A colossal figure cast its shadow all over us. Although this was still daytime, it’s sheer size rendered our surroundings as dark as night.
Pochi said, her voice shivering.
Pochi, level 132, was scared out of her mind.
It was THAT serious.
Naturally, my body was reacting all on its own as well.
Gah, my shoulders won’t… stop… trembling…
“So, are you aware of the reason this place is called the Giants’ Passage?”
As a matter of fact, I do; it no longer existed in the future, but it was still right here in the past.
Its name was…
“The Giant Murderer…”
“That’s right. Looks like we’ve come right at the end of its hibernation season.”
The Giant Murderer, a notorious monster of the ancient times. I had heard that it was SS-ranked…
presumably, and that it moved in large groups of its own kind.
It was at least four times – perhaps even five times – larger than Pochi’s gigantified form. Measuring by eye suggested that it was approximately thirty meters tall. Its skin was purple and bumpy, and while I had no idea where it’d gotten those from, it wore a loincloth… and wielded a dagger.
…Or one might assume from seeing it at a distance, but upon closer inspection, it was more of a thick chunk of metal.
Damn it, Giants are still gonna be Giants; of course they’ve got a blunt weapon in one form or another!
“Poer, slowly step back. Lylia, hold it off for thirty seconds!”
“Hmph, I’ll just kill it right off!”
Lylia was already prepared for action.
Licking the base of her sword, eyes red with blood, hair spiking up…
Uh, are we sure she’s not a monster herself?
“Now, Poer… try not to die!”
Giorno ran off to the side, while Lylia stood her ground right in front of the Giant Murderer.
Judging from the tone of Giorno’s voice, he was actually serious – and cautious.
Meaning, this thing was a formidable enemy, even for these two.
In which case, I’ll have to support them somehow!
Pochi, now gigantified, held me in her mouth by the collar of my shirt, then swung her head in a wide arc, flinging me up into the sky.
She then leaped after me, timing her descent so that I landed right on her back.
“A bit rough, but that was cool!”
“Did you expect any different?!”
By this time, Lylia was already clashing her swings with the Giant Murderer’s.
Well, to be honest, I didn’t quite see what was going on, but I could tell by the sounds of the impact that echoed through the vicinity.
“You see that, Shiro?”
“Not at all!”
“Rise, A-rise, All Up: Count 2 & Remote Control! How about now?!”
“…Just a little!”
Pochi, despite her level being 132, and despite focusing her eyes the best she could, barely saw what was going on – that was how fast they were going at it.
And of course, I couldn’t see anything.
“I can’t cast my support spells for Lylia like this!”
“Remember to cast them before the fight starts next time!”
“But what now?!”
“Oh, for the love of…! I’ll get you in there! Just make sure your spells don’t hit the Giant Murderer instead!”
“I’ve modified the formula, so it’ll be fine!”
“All right, then! Here goes!”
I thought my neck was gonna break there.
I’d known for a fact that Pochi’s physical capabilities had been enhanced by her level, but I’d never expected it to be THIS great-
“-GWOH?! …Gah… that hurt! Don’t stop so suddenly like that, damn it!”
“Huh? What’s wrong…?”
“I was SO FAST!”
Not you, too!
“Ugh… look, you still good to go?”
“No need for you to worry, One-o-one!”
You little shit.
Pochi ran off again, landing behind Lylia, then followed her movements by concentrating on the blares caused by steel clashing with steel.
In fact, Pochi’s eyes were now so strained that they fit the description of ‘bloodshot’ more than ever.
Eventually, Pochi’s body began to shiver – and then, before I knew it, she was leaping around with great dexterity. Perhaps it was one of her secret tricks, or she simply had accustomed herself to her new speed level. Her eyes were moving in all directions, keeping up with all the actions.
Trusting that Pochi would do her part properly, I started to draw my Circle.
Pochi ran ahead in a straight line, timing her path with Lylia’s as she appeared from our left.
Lylia, seeming to understand what I meant to do, turned her back to me so that I could aim at it with my right hand – perfect timing and spacing.
“”Good job, Shiro! Rise, All Up!””
Lylia, after briefly glancing at us, proceeded to clash with the Giant Murderer once more.
Pochi, letting out a heroic battle cry – which I really felt through the vibration of her back – leaped to the side in Giorno’s direction, reaching him in a single bound, so that I could support him.
“Nice one, Shiro!”
Giorno whistled and voiced his praise for Pochi. I grabbed his shoulder with my right hand and then strained my legs, holding Pochi under me as we circled around him – not unlike holding a pole – and then I applied the All Up spell that I had already drawn through my hand.
“Seems you’ve accustomed yourself quite well to battle, Poer. And that spell… It was pretty impressive.”
“We can talk later! Lylia needs your help!”
“Oh, no, she doesn’t. With the spell’s augmentation, she’ll be able to win this by herself.”
Giorno turned to our right, prompting me to look in that direction.
“Giant Murderers move in groups, in case you’ve forgotten…”
Giorno said, sounding perfectly calm, but then Pochi and I saw five Giant Murderers approaching side-by-side. The sight was pressuring beyond belief.
At this point, I was feeling nothing but fear. It took Giorno’s distracting whistles for me to realize how hard my teeth were chattering.
“Well well, what a wonderful view! We might actually die from this, people!”
“Are you insane?! We should retreat, I say!!”
“That’s right! Us fighting five of them at once is practically suicide!”
“Not happening, you two. Since the Giant Murderers are out of their hibernation season now, they’ll most likely go after Brunnera. If we don’t finish them off here, humanity’s integrity will, without a doubt, be compromised. At this time, the town itself doesn’t have enough war potential to fight them off, either… Oh, Shiro, walk forward three steps. Now.”
Pochi, hearing Giorno, shook her head and then did as told.
At the same time, I saw something sparking and crackling in the two-o’clock direction… What’s that?
The next instant, the land behind Pochi disintegrated, leaving behind only a scorching smell.
I’d heard nothing when the destruction itself happened, nor even the sound of… whatever that was, streaking through the air. Pochi’s eyes went blank.
“WHA – MY ASSSSSSS?!?!”
“Calm down, Shiro! You only lost some hair on your tail!”
“I can’t do this, Master! I’m out! No way I’ll win against them!”
“Hahahahaha, still got a little burnt there, didn’t you?”
And why is this so-called hero so carefree?!
“Well then, it seems Lylia has taken one down. Come now, Poer, Shiro – we’ll be taking on four. You two take care of the Giant Murderer in the very front.”
Giorno pointed at the Giant Murderer in question – this one’s defining characteristic was that it was one-eyed, unlike the rest.
‘We can’t do this,’ Pochi and I tried to say, but by then – despite pointing at Lylia and the Giant Murderers just a second ago – Giorno was already gone.
“”-we can’t… AH! HE’S GONE!””
Lylia was holding off two to our left. Not that I could see her, but I could tell because of her brand of battle roar and profanity.
Giorno was taking another two on our right. I could see him, even from this distance, because of how his lustrous hair fluttered in the wind.
And the one-eyed Giant in front of us… was ready to take us on.
Its face was painted with an intimidating, unnerving grin.
“”…OH MY GOD!!””