“Oh, for the love of God! DO you realize how traumatic that was for me, sir?! How can you be so cheap?! No, so TASTELESS – yes, that’s what you are! And Weldhun even got it worse in the end! When I turned back to my actual looks, he just straight up FAINTED! For quite a while! Hey, are you listening, Master?! I still haven’t forgiven you, you know!!”
“Oh, boy… do you even hear what you’re saying right now?! You should know that just an apology wouldn’t cut it! And besides! Why’d you even pull that prank in the first place?!”
BECAUSE she was telling Giorno some stories of my past while changing the details around – But if I were to say that, she’d know that I’d been eavesdropping on them.
And she’d definitely latch on to that and never let me hear the end of it.
Gah, now Pochi’s staring hard at me.
Let’s just come up with an excuse for now…
“Because what, sir?!”
“Because you were there… I guess.”
Man, it’s absolutely how amazing how wide Pochi can open her mouth. This might be a new record.
She proceeded to sit down on the spot and hold up her scarf to her eyes.
“I’ve been your Familiar for more than 800 years… and this is what I get?! I never thought you’d be so terrible! This treatment makes me a miserable dog, sir!”
“Well, I mean… I can’t think of a good way to word my excuse, so…”
“Excuse?! For what?! You mean there’s actually another reason for that, sir?!”
“Now, let’s hear your reasons in full detail, Master!”
“Yeah, fine, I’ll tell you! You know those stories you told to Giorno?! I heard most of them!”
Man, with that kind of reaction, I can read her like a book.
“And you changed the details to be all about you, to make you look good!”
“BWAHHH?! I-I never did that! I’ve always been the main character, sir!!”
Yeah, because she was the one spinning those tall tales.
“Denying it now won’t help your case, you stupid dog! I know you know how much I would want to make you suffer, seeing you pull shit like that!”
“Wait a second, sir! Doesn’t that mean… you were eavesdropping on our talk?!”
“BECAUSE! YOU! WERE! THERE! DID I STUTTER?!”
“Why were you even eavesdropping in the first place, anyway?!”
“You were whispering things LOUDLY to Giorno, so I wanted to know what you were up to, that’s what!”
“Hmm?! Thank you for worrying about me, sir!! But all I did was tell him your embarrassing stories, like I’d promised him when he let me take back my moves during those checkers matches!”
“How many moves did you even take back?!”
“How many slices of bread have you eaten in your whole life?! All those were to ensure that I don’t lose, sir!”
“Well, how many wins did you manage to get?!”
“Zero out of twenty-nine matches, sir!”
“You’re better off quitting checkers and retiring to the sticks, damn it!!”
“We already ARE in the sticks, SIR!!”
By the time the nonsensical dispute between me and Pochi heated up to its boiling point, I felt a subtle quake under my feet.
“And besides, you’re always- HMM?!”
Less than a second later, Pochi felt it as well.
It’s not a giant earthquake or anything – just a subtle quake, but extremely disturbing.
And the quake gradually intensified, eventually becoming audible… and then drowning out even the shaking of the trees’ leaves.
Pochi and I were hit with another tremor… and we couldn’t tell whether this one was coming horizontally or vertically.
Before we knew up, we were clinging to each other.
“W-what’s going on, sir?!”
Pochi screamed, her teary eyes against my chest.
“I know you know what this is! Don’t make me say it out loud! …Shit!”
She SHOULD have realized it already.
All she did was wishing for me, her Master, to say in her stead that one thing she didn’t want to believe.
“I-i-is this… what we’re actually up against, Master?!”
“Well, we gotta win somehow…! That’s why we’ve been working our asses off these past two- no, FIVE years, right?!”
The trembling in my heart manifested as a shaky voice.
Little bits of ‘his’ arcane energy leaking from the earthquake. Both Pochi and I felt it on our skins – it was as if our minds were being burnt to a crisp with pure fear.
This is definitely ‘his’ energy signature… the Devil King, Lucifer.
Hero Giorno appeared, heading right toward us as we were scared to death.
He’s able to push himself to move around amid this extraordinary aura – guess that’s what makes him the brave hero among us…
…Man, I gotta pull myself together…!
I smacked my own thighs, letting the pain jolt them back to life.
Presumably realizing what I was trying to do, Pochi said nothing and only looked on as I finally stood up.
“Are you all right?!”
“…Y-you’re a lifesaver, Giorno…!”
Everyone knew I was bluffing – Pochi, Giorno… and more than anyone else, myself.
At least Pochi isn’t talking smack about me to Giorno this time around.
“I can feel it… It’s the Devil King. His resurrection is complete…”
We’ve all been in environments of endless conflict as of late, but at the end of the day, I’m the least experience out of all the Holy Warriors team.
I’ve only been fighting things properly for five years. Even if pushed to act, the most I can do right now is… fake it ’till I make it.
Bite my lips together so that no one would see them shake, let Pochi put her paws on my shoulder, et cetera…
Not that that’s helping now, what with the people behind me knowing how hard I’m trembling anyway.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Lylia put her hand on my other shoulder.
That’s nothing strange in itself, but… her other hand is holding Weldhun’s horn, keeping him in place and preventing him from rampaging around.
With a gentle touch on one shoulder and absolutely menacing strength on the other, my face twitched, and my mind finally was focused on the worry of Sodom being under attack.
There’s not much need for us to be worried about ourselves, but the other warriors and workers like Garm – those are the ones to worry about.
I promptly drew a Teleportation Spell Circle, sending all of us back to Sodom Town.
“…Man, I totally saw this coming.”
The vicinity is filled with all sorts of expected voices – grief, panic, despair.
Garm Kisaragi in the town square is especially hard to look at, what with him all sobered up, crouching down, and holding tightly onto something.
Pochi whispered as she tugged on my pants.
I know – she’s trying to ask me if there’s anything we can do.
Well, I want to protect myself from this pressuring arcane energy that’s constantly beating at my chest… but how do I even do that?
It’s coming down like rain, this magical downpour… and it’s not like seeking shelter is gonna help.
…Hmm, an anti-magic barrier, maybe?
I’ve never cast it big enough to cover a whole town, but it should be the exact same process regardless of size.
It’s gonna be a zenith-level spell, which my support magic skill level hasn’t reached yet… Can I manage that?
“…Well, it’s worth a try! Rise, A-rise, A-rise! Magic Shield!!”
I set up a fixed-position type Spell Circle that ended up covering the whole town square.
The Magic Shield usually is invoked simply by drawing its Circle, but setting it up semi-permanently like this makes it so that it can be turned on and off. I can supply it with more energy, too!
“Poer, my man, is all that flexing… necessary?”
“Now this is quite difficult to adjust. Should I change the energy channels to all straight lines instead, and then replace the formulas with simpler ones? Just gotta connect this over here, cut off this one here-“
“He’s not even listening to me, is he, Shiro?”
“Yes, unfortunately. That’s how he always is, but…”
“He’s keeping it simple. And he usually succeeds. Usually.”
I think I heard Pochi saying something just now… well, anyway, the spell should be good to run now.
“Well, well! Looks like another success to me!”
“Very good. Now the air feels somewhat comfortable.”
Lylia’s praising me… now that’s rare.
Now that I think about it, we’ve gotten to hold more conversations with Lylia lately – well, with everyone, really.
I know I shouldn’t be saying things lightly like this, what with the Devil King being fully resurrected, but I don’t hate the way things are going now.
As the townspeople’s voices of relief reached my ears, Garm found me… and came running, complete with his nose-wrecking smell of beer.
“M-man, this is awesome! Did you make this?!”
“Yes, I sure did! I’m thinking of setting one each for Brunnera and Regalia as well.”
“Hehehe… nice! I always knew you were a cool guy, man!”
“Flattery won’t get you any extra beer, you know.”
“Who said I wanted extras? Just the normal amount is fine! Hah! Anyway, it’s ME who’s giving you something this time… well, not everyone’s gonna get theirs today, but I swear the next batch’s gonna blow your mind! Hehehehe!”
Come to think of it, he’s got something in his hands there, right?
“Hah, you just noticed it or what?! First, Giorno and Lylia… try these on!”
Garm said as he handed whatever that was over to the two in question.
It’s metallic, with a red mottled pattern…
“It’s light, and feels very familiar to wear right off the bat. And also…”
Giorno knocked on the chest area of his shiny new armor.
“This is very well-made.”
All right, we’re getting more and more of our preparations done… wait a second.
I’m curious about what Garm just said… what exactly is going to ‘blow my mind’ about the next batch of these?