EPILOGUE-THE PROTAGONIST, HIJIRI IORI
“Here you are.”
I was offered a cup and a saucer with a picture of rose painted on it. Lifting it up the fresh scent of Darjeeling tickles my nose. The sweetness and fragrance of the tea leaves spread throughout my mouth when I sipped the beautiful walnut color tea.
“It’s delicious. Thank you very much, Sakura-san. I’m grateful that you let me use this place again.”
The librarian, Sakura Rue-san, we met her once when we briefly explained the matter about the Shikibukai to Iori and Yuika last time. Come to think of it, I got involved with Gabby right afterward huh.
“Still, this is weird. To think that Iori-kun hasn’t arrived yet. Whenever he is going to meet someone here, he is usually the first to arrive too.”
Is that so. Well, I purposefully came here early so this is only natural though.
“Is that so?”
“Yes, Iori-kun come here often you know. Yuika-chan too….but lately I haven’t seen her though.”
I might be the cause of that.
“Hey, Sakura-san. Do you have time? Would you like to join me for a chat until Iori arrives? Actually, I have something I have been meaning to ask you, you see…….”
“Fufu, okay. The borrowing and returning of books here are fully automatic and there aren’t that many people who came here anyway. Even like this, I’m quite free all the time you know…..do you want to invite me out on a date or something?”
“I don’t want to be heartbroken so please allow me to refuse.”
If possible I would like to invite her out but if I invite the current her, I would definitely get shut down.
“AraAra, am I already too old after all?”
“It’s not about your age, I just think that it’s not going to work out for now……well, let’s leave that aside.”
I put the cup on the saucer and stared at Sakura-san.
“Sakura-san……do you like this world?”
“Fufu, what are you asking all of a sudden?”
“I am just a little curious you see.”
Sakura-san narrowed her eyes and show me a very gentle smile, it was as if she was looking at her own child.
“You asked me whether I like this world, correct?…………I like it you know. I like it very much.”
Looking at that smile, the emotions I felt before resurfaced. It was what I felt when Ludi got herself cornered at the hotel. The same feelings as when my favorite heroine fell into a crisis.
“……I am relieved to hear that.”
I said that and reach for the tea.
I was truly relieved that she thought so. But I originally thought that would be her answer from the start. That’s why.
It was at the same time as I was swallowing down the tea. Iori suddenly called out to me from the side. Both I and Sakura-san turned to look at him at the same time.
“Sorry for arriving so late Kousuke-kun.”
“No, I was just too early. I wanted to say I don’t mind but.”
Saying that I pull out a chair for Iori.
“But I can’t forgive you for interrupting this blissful moment between Sakura-san and me.”
Hearing that, Sakura-san put her hand on her cheek and laugh sneakily.
“Ara Ara, Mou-.”
“HaAa, and I finally get to hear the word like coming from Sakura-san too……!”
Hearing I said that, Iori’s eyes went wide in surprise as he stands up.
Iori freaked out. When I was about to tell him that was a joke, he stares alternately at me and Sakura-san.
“Mou, Kousuke-kun. If you asked me like that, I can only give you that kind of reply right.”
“Eh, Uh Umm, S, sorry Kousuke-kun!”
I catch Iori who was trying to turn away and run with my stole. I pulled the struggling Iori back to me and force him to sit down on the chair.
“Sorry, Iori, that was just a joke.
“Ah, Takioto-kun, so you were aiming for this when you said that? To think that you would toy with me like that.”
Looking at Iori who is still staring at us with uneasy eyes, I and Sakura-san let out a laugh.
“Uh, Umm, what do you mean?”
“She was just saying that she said like in the meaning of she fond of a cake, you just misunderstand the context. Well, sorry about that.”
“S, so it was like that? Come on, don’t surprise me like that!”
“My bad, my bad.”
“You don’t sound like you feel bad at all though?”
“Fufu, then I will go pouring you some tea, wait a little Iori-kun.”
“Saying so, Sakura-san stands up.”
As I was seeing Sakura-san leave, Iori calls out to me.
“Sorry, it seems Yuika has been troubling you a lot lately right.”
“No, don’t mind it. I was the cause in the first place.”
Rather, I have the feeling that Yuika was corrupted the moment she got involved with me though.
“She helped me out with the dungeon the other day, and it’s fun talking with her too.”
It’s a shame that it turned out like that at the very end though.
“Ah, Sorry I have only talked about myself have I. and the one who call me today is Kousuke-kun too. But this is a good time.”
“I have something to talk about with you too Kousuke-kun…….eh, what about Nanami-san?”
“Nanami is doing something for me so she should be with Anemone-san from the Shikibukai right now.”
The reason that Nanami isn’t here is that I don’t feel like bringing her here yet. I was very careful every time I came here after all.
“I see. So Kousuke-kun. What’s the important thing that you want to say to me?”
I give him a small nod. That’s right. I have something important to say to him. That’s why I called Iori here.
“I have something I want to ask you.”
Considering the future, I have to ask him this.
“What do you want to ask?”
“Hey, Iori. have you ever play Ero-……..no, a Galge?”
“FuE? Why are you asking me this all of a sudden?”
Well, that’s a natural reaction.
“This is pretty serious. So, have you?”
“Hmm, I haven’t…….?”
“I see. Well, let’s say that it’s a novel or manga then.”
The thing I want to say is the same.
“Do you like a happy ending or a bad ending?”
Before Iori can answer, I continue speaking.
“You see, I’ve played a lot of games but I like happy endings more than the bad ones. Well, most people would think so though.”
That’s why no matter how many times I was brutally killed, I would keep visiting the Taiga Dojo until I reach a good ending. Even in that action game set in a cyber world, I would keep dying and starting over in order to save the heroine.
I closed my eyes and remember Ludi. The first time I met her, she was heading toward despair. Depending on the cases, she might have been driven straight to the bad end.
At that time, after I saw her, the option to escape was already gone.
“So, if someone has to face a bad end…..well, you can call it misfortune too. If someone seems like they are facing a misfortune and you have the power to save them, what would you do?”
I stare at Iori.
Seeing how serious I am, Iori must felt something too. He narrowed his eyes and look at me with a serious expression.
“I will help.”
“Even if it proves to be very difficult?”
“……Even so, I will help.”
“I see…..that’s good.”
Unintentionally, a smile floats up on my face. Then I realized.
He is really a man worthy of being the protagonist of this story.
“Yup, that’s the end of my business. So, you said you have something to talk about with me too right.”
Iori made an expression that said [That’s all?] but to me, that was an important question.
“…yeah, it’s not that important so I thought that I should just send you a message but if possible I want to say it directly to your face you see.”
“Not that important?”
Iori gets up from his chair.
“You see, I broke through the thirtieth floor of Tsukuyomi Academy dungeon.”
Hearing that, I smile. It was just a matter of time after all. When I heard about it from Ivy, I even thought [he finally did it huh] to myself.
“I see, congratulation!”
“Thank you. But you know, I understand something when I captured the thirtieth floor. That I still have a long way to go. I had the president and vice president helping me out too.
Iori erased the smile on his face and stare at me.
“President Monika gave me an invitation after we broke through the thirtieth floor you see.”
My body trembles.
“She said, [Won’t you join the student council?] The vice president also said that I could become much stronger at the student council too then…….”
Then he took a deep breath while staring at me.
“She said, [Don’t you want to surpass Takioto Kousuke?]”
I felt like electricity running through my body. Iori’s words conveyed his determination.
As he stared straight at me, I can see the determination in his eyes.
“I………..will join the student council.”
Ah, so it finally happens.
Perhaps he has entered his first [Growth Period]. His basic skills have improved, he learned the skills, and he has started collecting items as well, as he comes to be able to capture various kinds of dungeon, the conditions for his growth has been met.
In this first growth period, his growth will be explosive.
“It’s not that long since I came to this Academy but I’m really glad that I came here.”
Perhaps progressing through the events and story, his mind was strengthened as well as his ability.
This isn’t the usual Iori. This isn’t the Iori who is usually somewhat unreliable.
This Ioti is the one I know. He is Iori of the game who I’ve seen to the extent that I’m getting tired of him.
No matter how strong the boss is, he is the protagonist that will be there to stand up for the heroines, [Hijiri Iori].
“This place has the best facilities for me to grow and the teachers who will be kind to me.”
When I noticed, I already stood up.
“I have the best ally I can trust. I have the best stage (Dungeon) to test myself in. and above all…….”
Iori paused and let out his magic power from all over his body while approaching me.
“I have both a goal and a rival.”
I thought that I had to answer his feelings. That’s why I send magic power to my stole and scatter my overflowing magic power around the room like never before.
Then, I smiled and looked down at Iori.
Iori’s expression didn’t change even after he saw that.
“Kousuke-kun. I will capture the fortieth floor soon. I don’t know why but I think that I can easily do it you know.”
I nodded and Iori continued.
“And I will become much much stronger.”
“Yeah, you will. I guarantee it. You will obtain tremendous power beyond imagination.”
But, I have no intention to lose to you.
Iori shut his eyes, takes a deep breath and place his hand over his chest.
“Hey, Kousuke-kun. The thing you told me in front of the Academy when we first met, do you still remember?”
On the road in front of the Academy, where the sakura was in full bloom. That’s where I declared.
“Let me declare it this time.”
Now, let’s show him a fearless smile to answer his determination.
“The one who will become the strongest of the Magic Academy is me, Hijiri Iori!”
Third Arc Magiero★Waltz -the Three Committees- End