SLASHDØG Volume 2 Chapter 2

Practice/ Sacred Treasures

Part 1

Since Tobio and the others had come to the Grigori training institution——’The Ones Who Have FallenNephilim‘, half a month had passed.

As for what they were learning while commuting there, beginning from general education, they were simultaneously taught everything about the supernatural and fantastical beings that existed in this world.

Naturally, Nephilim was not an official school. Tentatively, there were several classes and scores of boys and girls who wear enrolled here, but for sake of Tobio and the others who had just entered this world they had to acquire this knowledge first. Seeing how they will be living from now on, they must at minimum be aware of the supernatural and the fantastical. For that reason, after they began by greeting the students who were studying at this institution, Tobio and the others were gathered together in a distinct class.

Concerning supernatural powers, primarily it was explanations of the sacred treasures——the sacred gears that resided within them, though they had also experienced magic like that Lavinia used.

Concerning the fantastical, the lesson content had them reviewing demons captured by the Grigori——monsters.

In other words, the quartet of Tobio, Sae, Natsume, and Samejima, in the half month they had been coming to ‘Nephilim’, they were being trained in the education and knowledge of a life they had never experienced until now, as well as a world they had had no connection to until now.

Just recently, concerning Tobio who, manifesting supernatural power of his own, had started a battle with another supernatural power user, it was an often repeated story that was astonishing……no, one that seemed like a joke.

Nonetheless, it was a fact that it had happened to him and that he was now being taught about it. Supernatural power was a reality, and residing within him specifically, there existed both magic and a demon. That was something he keenly experienced for himself in the earlier battle while his life was exposed to mortal peril.

However, apart from the knowledge and education he obtained in the tranquility that had come in the aftermath of the battle, what he was being taught was nothing but perplexing.

While furrowing his brow at this state of affairs, he expressed himself like so.

“……It seems just like they’re seriously explaining what things from fantasy consist of……”

It may have been inevitable that he ended up thinking like that. The lessons he was receiving on the supernatural and the fantastical were to such a degree that they were beyond the scope of common sense. Still, seeing as he was living here, this was elementary knowledge and the basis of information. It seemed to be impossible to live as a student here and not know about these things.

Despite being taught the surface knowledge, there were also lessons in moving one’s body, what one could call physical education much like that of actual schoolwork.

At this precise moment, the duo of Tobio and Samejima, dressed in athletic wear, were continuing to run in the institution’s indoor running track.

Having circled the track many times, they at last finished the proscribed distance of fifteen kilometers.

Having finished first, Samejima sat down immediately upon reaching the goal, where he was violently breathing with a ‘zuuhaa’ sound. Samejima, with sweat being released from his whole body, cursed.

“……Geez, making us run kilometer after kilometer……! It’s like we’re aiming for the Olympics……! I haven’t run like this since middle school……!”

Having reached the goal after Samejima, Tobio spoke while gasping for breath.

“……According to what Barakiel-sensei says, it’s because it all starts with stamina……. ……I feel I somehow or another get why the stamina to run from place to place is necessary to start with. After all, we’re beginners in this world. Since there’ll probably be those relentlessly aiming for the lives of even us who are just beginners, if we don’t at least have the stamina to run around……it certainly wouldn’t be strange if we died the next time.”

They were being taught all kinds of things by the fallen angel leader——Barakiel.

Concerning the main system at ‘Nephilim’, it was a case where a prescribed number of students would receive guidance under a single teacher. Collecting several students in one classroom, it differed from the nature of a typical school where the teachers would switch for each subject. For that reason, in the case of Tobio and the others, they were receiving lessons under Barakiel. In this case, they became known as the students of ‘Barakiel Class’.

There were a limited number of Grigori leaders, so receiving instruction under one is extremely valuable, or so the Governor-General Azazel had said.

Was that due to the expectations for Tobio and the others, or else was it due to them being regarded as dangerous——.

That Barakiel, after having taught them fundamental knowledge, he had assigned Tobio and the others to raise their stamina. No matter what, without stamina they would not move to a higher level. For that reason, they had been assigned some thorough running to perform.

In Samejima’s case, he had suffered serious injuries in the earlier battle, but having already completed recovered to almost his usual condition, he was also running the long distance while leaving his complaints behind due to having been rehabilitated. He was told that this was also a function of the Sacred Gear that resided within him. The white cat that was his Sacred Gear——Byakusa, stepping up to his master who had returned from the long distance run, had been acting spoiled while rubbing its head up against him.

Speaking of Sacred Gears, in the case of Tobio’s partner Jin, having run alongside his master for the fifteen kilometers, he had sat down politely just past the goal. Unlike his master, Jin hadn’t run out of breath even once.

Whether it was his stamina that was terrible, or else Sacred Gears don’t feel tired……. In any case, his master, who was in bad shape, was next to Jin making ‘zu-ha-‘ sounds while being out of breath.

Tobio, who was rehydrating, after stretching his body to its limits, picked up a rope for the sake of doing the rope skipping exercise that was next on the regimen.

Giving a sidelong glance at Tobio who had started skipping rope, Samejima spoke.

“……I was thinking since before, Ikuse, but rather than being an honors student, do you just hate to lose?”

He lead off like that.

“What’s this so suddenly?”

Samejima spoke to Tobio who had asked him back while jumping.

“Well. You’re behavior is exemplary like an honors student, and yet there’s something about the glare in your eye, like you won’t show any weakness even if it’s only to the dog who’s your alter ego.”

Samejima also started skipping rope beside Tobio.

“To start with I’m not an honors student. My studies are reasonably fair, and with physical strength as well my forte is just not standing out.”

As Tobio said, since the time he’d been at Ryoukou High School he hadn’t been the kind to stand out. He was just a typical high school boy whose studies were reasonably fine, and whose physical training was neither passing or failing. As for his childhood friend Sae, she was the one who was popular in class.

Hearing that Samejima laughed.

“That’s so huh. Since even though we come from the same school, during the time I was there, I knew nothing about you. If you were the kind of student who doesn’t stand out, there’s no way I’d have known about you huh.”

If it had been the Samejima from back then, someone like Tobio who would was neither beneficial nor harmful would have been the same as a stone on the side of the road. Had Tobio been strong at brawling, or perhaps been a target of yearning for female students, it seems that then word of him would have reached Samejima’s ear……but unfortunately, he didn’t happen to possess such attributes.

In contrast, in regards to Samejima who was famous for his delinquency, Tobio had heard quite enough about him.

Somehow, given that the two of them were training by bouncily skipping rope side by side, Tobio ended up feeling that destiny was quite an amusing thing.

In the midst of Tobio and Samejima’s rope skipping, the voices of girls were heard.

“……Zeh zeh, r-running like this……certainly, it’s good for dieting, this is. Apart from that though, are you sure you’re alright, Toujou-san?”

“……Fuuh, somehow or another, I can sort of walk it.”

It was Natsume and Sae who were out of breath. The pair were dressed in sports gear. It seemed that Natsume had just finished the proscribed long distance running that Tobio and Samejima had been doing.

For Sae who was not endowed with a Sacred Gear like Tobio and the others, just the classroom portion was sufficient, however, with it being a good opportunity to build her own stamina, and having already been rehabilitated, she had chosen to undertake some light training. Though it was light, considering it was Sae after having gone through that incident, there was no mistaking that for her it was intense. She was dripping with perspiration even from walking the track.

As for Samejima who’d been injured in the same incident……he had run the long distance and was now even skipping rope with repeated light jumps as though he hadn’t been pierced through the chest.

“Being sturdy just isn’t my strong point.”

——She said nearly laughing.

With everyone having finished running, as they were moving to the next activity, they observed the figure of Barakiel, who served as both the lecturer for Tobio and the others’ classroom as well as their training supervisor.

He checked over Tobio and the others with a hard-faced expression and nodded once.

“Hmm, so it appears you finished the long distance run. That still leaves half the regimen, however at the very least make sure to rehydrate yourselves.”

At first glance, the tall man gave off an intimidating atmosphere, however, contrary to his appearance, he was a rather considerate person. In regards to their special training, without tolerating compromise on anything, he would absolutely not give up until everyone had finished that which had been proscribed, but having measured the mental and physical limits of Tobio and the others, he ensured that the training was never beyond their limits.

Instead of urging Tobio and the others on with a loud voice, keeping in mind that they were complete amateurs, he would, while personally observing them, walk among them giving out advice.

Samejima would raise complaints about this, but even he would then quietly complete what was proscribed, seemingly not just because of the silent pressure that Barakiel released, but also because he perceived from the atmosphere surrounding his body that he was someone of strong presence.

Like this Tobio and the others had completed the foundation of their special training, however, after working on their stamina and strength, they’d switch locations for sparring. From the running track, they moved to an expansive training room. The ceiling being very high, it was a place that had been made to be easy to fight in.

Invariably at that time——.

“Looks like it’s my turn.”

The one who appeared before Tobio and the others, a fearless smile on his face, was a silver-haired young boy——Vali.

Indeed, Vali would be their sparring opponent at these times.

Like Tobio and the others, though it was not every weekday, Vali would also turn up at ‘Nephilim’. The Grigori had told that Vali to be the sparring opponent of Tobio and the others.

Vali himself seemed to personally enjoy this sparring——.

“……Fufuh, Ikuse Tobio, Samejima Kouki, come now, and prepare yourselves. It seems this ‘White DragonVanishing Dragon‘ shall be your opponent today as well.”

Stiffening his small body with a bang, he stood facing the pair of Tobio and Samejima.

It would appear that, seemingly enjoying Tobio and Samejima’s beyond expected growth, that he had taken the initiative to take over as the sparring opponent of the pair.

Tobio and Samejima were accompanied by their respective partners——Jin and Byakusa.

Tobio, by positioning Jin in front of him, and Samejima, by placing Byakusa on his shoulder, were each settling into their respective combat styles.

Standing by alongside the wall, Natsume and Sae were cheering.

“BOYS! Today you’ll surely beat Va-kun!”

“Try not to get injured you three!”

Neither of these was at all easy for someone like Tobio. He’d like it if at least he could avoid injury, because although his opponent was younger, it was considerably unreasonably advice.

Tobio and Samejima, and then Vali, Barakiel stood in the space between these two parties. After having verified that both sides were prepared for battle, he announced the start of the sparring match by saying “Begin!”

The first was to move was Samejima. The tail of Byakusa who had been placed on his shoulder was being altered, becoming longer. It wrapped itself like a coil around his arm and formed itself into a sharp, cone-shaped lance. At that point——electricity began to run through it while producing a sparkling sound.

At the time of the conflict with the ‘Utsusemi Agency’ the other day, Samejima unconsciously brought Byakusa to the next stage——a step closer to the its true Four Fiends form. In doing so, Byakusa accomplished a transformation into a white beast——a large animal at least three meters in size possessing the appearance of a saber-toothed tiger. It presently wasn’t in that form, but in regards to the sparkling phenomenon it had manifested when it had transformed into the large beast, it became capable of releasing it from its usual cat size, and Samejima was now producing it from the lance.

Tobio followed by taking some distance to avoid being hit by that electricity. A transformation had also come upon the Tobio+Jin combination. From the shadows at his feet, Jin would soundlessly create a single-edged sword, which he would then hold horizontally in his mouth. Jin, in place of the ability he had lost from when he was a puppy in which he’d grow blades from his body, he instead became capable of voluntarily growing blades from any and every shadow.

In other words, it seemed Jin became capable of growing blades by his own will. This was proof that Jin had come to possess a sense of self compared to when he was a puppy.

Subsequently, Tobio also manifested the growth in his ability.

“——Come out.”

Tobio, with such a murmur as he focused, was manifesting a specialized weapon from the shadow at his feet. A long shaft, having been grown from beneath his feet, was seized by Tobio who then pulled it out in one go.

That which he held in his hand, it was a curved blade with a shaft, a sickle. Drawing an elegant arc, it was a specialized weapon for reaping targets. It was not a sickle for reaping weeds, it was akin to the large sickles wielded by grim reapers.

His Sacred Gear ability having risen in the battle with the ‘Utsusemi Agency’, like Jin, Tobio had also gained the ability to produce blades from shadows at will.

During the battle with the ‘Utsusemi Agency’, Tobio had also personally experienced that, not just his partner Jin, he himself would have to be mobile during battle. If he were to run from place to place on the battlefield, giving Jin orders as he did so, he wouldn’t survive the battles from here on out. Tobio, as Jin’s master——the main body, would certainly be targeted by opponents.

If his master was in peril, it seemed that Jin would act to protect him, but there were apparently limits to that as well. If the opponent was stronger than Jin, it would all be over. For that reason, as the master it was necessary that Tobio himself be strong.

The same was necessary for Samejima who was linking up with his Sacred Gear. Carrying something like that out would be out of the question if the master wasn’t strong.

Tobio had selected a sickle as the weapon he would wield in battle. Prior to this he had tried wielding and swinging all sorts of various bladed specialized weapons……but the one that was most familiar in his hand was, unexpectedly, a sickle.  At a glance, it appeared far and away harder to handle when compared to a sword, however, as soon as Tobio took it in his hand, he found himself skillfully spinning the sickle round and round, raising it overhead, pulling it hard, and then swinging it down. Though his comrades found his choosing of a sickle to be ominous (Vali found it favorable), Tobio instinctively said ‘This is it,” and settled upon it as his own specialized weapon.

Like this Tobio, faced with Vali as a sparring partner, prepared himself after spinning the sickle around several times.

The one who started first was Samejima. Nimbly rushing in, he drove the lance that was alive with sparks towards Vali. Vali, without showing any sign of evading, towards the blow of the nimbly approaching lance, with a *pashin* he altered the attack’s trajectory with a brush of his hand. Without letting a moment pass, Vali,aiming at Samejima, launched an ignited radiance——a mass of aura from his hand. Samejima somehow defended against that shot by using the lance as a shield, and the terrific shock of the mass of aura pushed the juvenile delinquent’s body backwards. However, Samejima wasn’t blown backwards.

Tobio incidentally had also begun to take action, and Jin was right behind him. Having changed into a black bullet, Jin approached Vali at high speeds that the eye couldn’t follow, and slashed at him with the blade in his mouth. Vali, from the front, towards the brandished blade——stopped it by gripping it with two fingers on his right hand. ——But, having become the size of a mature dog, Jin’s body weight naturally added to the attack, and Vali who was simply inferior in physical constitution had his posture forcibly destroyed. Vali, also sensing this, instantly let go and blew Jin back with a shock wave. Though he’d been blown back, Jin, magnificently righting himself in midair, had landed splendidly.

Tobio+Jin and Samejima+Byakusa, reorganizing their stances, prepared to once again advance upon Vali.

This was the present difference in the skill level of the three of them. Since the time they had met Tobio and the others had also been growing, and the end result of their practicing was that they were no longer completely helpless against the silver-haired boy.

Nevertheless, even now Tobio and the others could see no chance of victory. That was the extent of the boy’s strength. In these mock battles with Vali, which had been repeated more than ten times, until now his behavior had merely been to lightly parry every attack.

Tobio and Samejima were again launching attacks……but whether it was the scythe Tobio was swinging or the lance unleashed by Samejima, even with Vali being completely cornered by their threat, and although Jin and Byakusa had displayed attacks of outstanding coordination with their masters, it required no serious effort on the part of the silver-haired boy.

Tobio swung the scythe downwards with the attacking posture of the style he’d somehow developed. Aiming at the collar, he slashed diagonally to slice through it——but Vali, leaving only an afterimage behind, simply evaded the swing from the sickle.

Simultaneous to the attack of his master Tobio slicing empty air, Jin had also leapt forward once again, launching an additional attack from having circled around to Vali’s blind spot. Vali easily evaded, but from the shadows at his feet blades of deformed shape quickly sprout forth. Jin’s eyes glowed red. The black dog had made those appear of his own volition.

Vali even managed to evade the blades from that shadow by jumping from that place. However, something white had entangled the said Vali’s foot.

The tail which was wrapped around his foot was even then circulating electricity, which was transmitted to Vali who had just landed. The boy’s body was violently assaulted by electricity with a sparkling sound……but Vali, perhaps due to accumulating the aura within his body, did not seem to be very affected. However, that the tail was wrapped around his foot was a certainty.

“A chink in the armor!”

Samejima, having closed the distance, tried to pierce Vali with the electricity-enveloped lance. It seemed he had surmised that there was no way to avoid it in this situation——but Vali revealed a pair of wings shining with light from his back.

——It was his Sacred Gear.

With the after effect of of the manifestation of the Sacred Gear, Byakusa’s tail that was wrapped around Vali’s foot was forcibly torn off.

Vali, having grown glowing wings, had flown up to the high ceiling. Looking down on them from up near the ceiling, he let out a sinister laugh.

“A chink? Fuh, for someone like me this has yet to even become something to be enthusiastic about.”

He rained down masses of aura at random from the ceiling! Tobio or Samejima, neither of whom could fly up there, could do nothing! The scythe had its blade broken with just one shot, and Byakusa who was on Samjima’s shoulder also took a direct hit, which sent him flying backwards. Even Jin who was leaping about to the best of his ability wasn’t able to evade them. Receiving the masses of aura with their bodies, the impact assaulted them all over like struck with a blunt weapon.

Having confirmed that Tobio and Samejima’s specialized weapons had been separated from them, Barakiel exhaled and raised his hand.

“That’s enough!”

With that one statement, the end of the mock battle was announced. In the end, without being up to even making Vali show the letter ‘s’ of serious this time either, Tobio and Samejima both ground their teeth in chagrin.

In response to the voice of Natsume, who had been cheering, saying, “That was miserable, young men!”, Tobio had no words. Samejima fired back “Shut it, Birdbrain!”…….

Nevertheless, this was the present difference in ability between Tobio and Vali. The difference between him and the younger one was still so wide to a harsh degree.

Part 2

“Owowow……”

Washing off his sweat in the shower room after the training, Tobio had been experiencing the pain remaining in his body. After that, there was one more battle, a mock fight with Vali……but invariably he had been defeated without landing a single damaging hit. His body had been bruised all over.

Having been defeated twice, which brought today’s intensive training to a close, he was taking a shower to wash his sweat off. Finishing his shower immediately, Samejima had left. He had also been bruised, but since he was fit to a superfluous extent, he had gone touring. Since driving his bike was his own peculiar way of changing the mood, whether that mood be good or bad, he had gone biking so as to pull himself together.

If one were to speak of Tobio, who hadn’t yet pulled himself together, while he was taking his shower he was sharpening his focus and was groping through his mind for a technique that would allow an attack to seize a skilled opponent.

Although he had selected a scythe as his specialized weapon, with it being of especially large size, both its usage and setup were exaggerated. In the case where Vali had been the opponent, whether he swung it down from above or swung it up from below, each and every action was grandiose. If the opponent was skilled, from his body’s posture they’d be able to see through his intentions as to how he’d next approach. If he were to thoroughly train his own body, it seemed possible that the speed of his offensive actions could be increased but……. For himself who had been an ordinary senior high school student until just recently, it was difficult to immediately obtain such a necessary tempering.

——As expected, the most vital thing to becoming powerful is through linking with Jin.

It was only natural, but the strongest method, as far as Tobio was concerned, was his ability, namely the black dog ‘Jin’ who was his sacred gear. Other than a fool, there was no one who wouldn’t make the maximum possible use of him.

……To increase the number of variations in his own attacks there was no choice other than with Jin.

From there Tobio again thought deeply about various ways to link with Jin. After more than sufficient time, he finally noticed he was taking a shower. Coming to his senses in surprise, he stopped the shower while shaking his head.

Since he dressed his lower half in the locker room, with his upper body naked, he sat down on the bench that had been provided. Even as he stroked Jin who was beside him, Tobio in his mind there was only reflection on today’s special training.

No matter how much he thought about it, presently, it was certain that the difference in power was insurmountable. Using such an ordinary answer was his way of settling his emotions for today as well.

……Thus, every day, I’m assuaging my frustration in not being victorious. ……Unexpectedly, that was quite cynically self-deprecating for someone like me who hates losing.

With him riding on his bike, it seemed to Tobio that Samejima was also seeking a change in the mood the same as himself.

For teenage boys, it was expected that being defeated by a junior was vexing.

“Toby, is it not bad to not rehydrate after a match?”

——Came a voice from beside him, as a water bottle was held out before him. Tobio spontaneously accepted it saying “Thank you,” and was spontaneously gulping it down…….

……Noticing a strange point, he turned his gaze to the side.

A blonde girl wearing a racing swimsuit——Lavinia had been sitting right there. Surprised by the sudden occurrence, Tobio immediately stood up.

“Lavinia-san! Why are you here!?”

This was the men’s shower room. For a woman like Lavinia to be here was itself a strange thing.

However, at Tobio’s words Lavinia inclined her head in confusion.

It may have been because she wasn’t wearing her usual pointed hat, but it seemed as though her hair was brightly glittering. Moreover both her hair and swimsuit were wet. It appeared she had been in the indoor pool.

She frequently made use of this institutions facilities. Occasionally she came to inspect their special training……but since he hadn’t seen her today, he had thought that she hadn’t come.

“Just Lavinia is fine, right?”

She replied with a misdirected answer. Moreover she also immediately stood up.

……Ending up looking at her racing swimsuit from a close angle, Tobio immediately shifted his gaze. ……For a healthy young man, the smooth fair skin of a caucasian girl——especially the area around her thighs——was much too radiant.

Tobio spoke while averting his eyes.

“N-No, that’s not the issue here! This is the men’s shower!”

Even being cautioned so, paying it no mind, Lavinia stood in front of a certain locker and——she wouldn’t be removing her swimsuit right! Was this the ladies changing room!? He was on the verge of panicking that he’d guessed wrongly, but he had used this place numerous times, and today specifically he’d entered together with Samejima. As expected, no matter how he thought about it this was the “men’s changing room”.

If that was the case, as far as misunderstandings were concerned, Lavinia was the one who was at fault…….

If he were to give her a sidelong glance——the appearance that had come to be there was that of Lavinia completely removing her swimsuit! Without being able to resist, Tobio immediately embraced Jin, gazing into Jin’s face to secure a safe place to look.

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As for Jin himself, being suddenly embraced by his master, forced himself to stand on two legs, and fastened his eyes on the situation right in front of him. The black dog went “!?!?” in bewilderment.

With such a combination between Tobio and Jin occurring, Lavinia was unmindfully addressing them at her own pace.

“How was the mock battle with Vah-kun?”

“I-I was defeated.”

“That was something inevitable. Since Vah-kun met Governor-General Azazel, beginning with the Sacred Gear, he has been strengthening himself, and therefore, at this time he is naturally someone who Toby and Shark, having only just awoken their powers, cannot hope to compete with.”

“T-That is the case. H-However, nonetheless, since I want to win, I’ve been deepening my connection with Jin; I want to to be strong.”

“That is the best. For certain, you are the owner of an independent avatar type.”

Promptly removing the remainder of his change of clothes from the locker, Tobio had appreciated that it was wise to give up on this situation……but as the conversation continued further, for some reason that couldn’t be understood it had occurred to him that it might be better to stay until the topic changed. The chaos brought about by Lavinia’s appearance was obvious.

Suddenly, a topic occurred to Tobio. Due to the term independent avatar type being brought up, he recalled that Lavinia also possessed that Sacred Gear.

“L-Lavinia-san, you also possess an independent avatar type Sacred Gear, correct.”

“Yes. I’m also like Toby and the others.”

Tobio’s recollection thought back on the tall atypical princess made of ice. From its whole body it had released a wave cold atmosphere that penetrated both the mind and body.

“……As for Vali’s Sacred Gear……”

“Yes, I believe you were taught about it in class, but different from me and Toby, for Vah-kun, his is the type of Sacred Gear that has an evil spirit sealed inside it. It manifests that evil spirit’s ability, it’s traits. The wings of light that appear from his back, you can think of them as equipment for the sake of manifesting the evil spirit’s power.”

There were a great variety of diverse Sacred Gears, and those had been grouped into several types, but he had heard in lecture that the number possessing traits which couldn’t be categorized wasn’t negligible. The Sacred Gear Vali possessed was different from the independent avatar types of Tobio and the others, belonging to the sealed evil spirit type. Regarding that sealed evil spirit, it’s written biography was that of a demonic beast of legend, a legendary dragon……. He’d heard that in Vali’s Sacred Gear was sealed one of the strongest dragons referred to as the ‘Two Heavenly Dragons’, the ‘White DragonVanishing Dragon‘. When they had learned that it wasn’t just Natsume and Samejima who had been astonished.

” “It’s not just in his head!?” “

Due to them being under the impression that it had been a second-year-of-junior-high-sickness delusion created by Vali, as soon as they learned that the dragon story was real their eyes popped out in astonishment (although, all the same they concluded that his title of Maou Lucifer was his second-year-of-junior-high-sickness in action).

Regarding said trait of Vali’s Sacred Gear, he had made use of it when Tobio had gone berserk during the battle with the chief engineer of the ‘Utsusemi Agency’——Himejima Hanezu, though Tobio himself had no recollection of that. However, during the mock battle, he had never made use of that trait. The manifestation of the wings of light had happened, but they hadn’t been utilized for the Sacred Gear’s inherent supernatural power. In other words, Tobio and the others, as far as Vali was concerned, were merely opponents of that degree. Faced with that reality, Tobio had been feeling bitter.

As though she had seen through Tobio’s true feelings, Lavinia spoke.

“I said just before as well, but you shouldn’t feel discouraged Toby. It all begins from here on out. Toby and Vaa-kun possess the same kind of Sacred Gear as myself, ones that are a bit special. If while here you learn to use it properly it should be possible to surprise Vaa-kun.”

Indeed, in regards to the Sacred Gears Tobio, Lavinia, and Vali possessed, to be perfectly honest, he had received an explanation that there was a clear line between them and those possessed by Natsume and Samejima.

There were no more than thirteen current Sacred Gears that were incarnations that can even overthrow God——that which was referred to as Longinus. A transcendental power that, if he chose to, was considered capable of slaying even a god, such a thing was lodged with him.

He suddenly peered into Jin’s eyes. The pupils were bright red like the color of blood. His own figure was reflected in Jin’s pupils……but deep beyond that, it seemed as though there was something deep there…….

Power capable of slaying even a god……. To him……it didn’t truly feel like that was the case…….

According to Natsume, when he had been going berserk, not just the outlook room, even the surrounding mountains had sprouted countless enormous blades. Moreover it had been entirely due to his power…….

An uncontrollable power within him, it made him feel useless. It was scary that a supernatural power that he himself wasn’t aware of could aimlessly expose his surroundings to peril.

Lavinia spoke.

“As someone endowed with the same independent avatar type, may I give you one piece of advice……. You need to achieve unification with the Scared Gear beside you, which can also been seen as an offshoot of yourself——”

“Unification……”

“Linking and ordering, it is naturally obvious that these are ways of manipulating the Sacred Gear from above. However, the true way to manipulate the Sacred Gear that is your other self, that is to sympathize with it, resonate with it, not just in body, you must become one from the heart and soul. In the depths of the Sacred Gear, it is said that if and only if you can reach it, then you will be approaching the genuine truth of it.”

“……The depths of……the Sacred Gear……”

Jin’s pupils——. Was there something sleeping inside of them? Was she saying that this black dog possessed something within it?

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——Your blade, it reaches even to that extent. However, your blade, it wounds everything——.

——Since you have already stopped being human.

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——!!! Tobio body twitched as those words were resurrected in his mind.

……In that dream, there seemed to have been a voice from deep down, in the darkness. Could that darkness be the depths of Jin……or rather, was is something he carried, a darkness that exists within the power he possesses……?

Lavinia spoke.

“……I have been speaking self-importantly, but to tell you the truth, I also still cannot skillfully control my own puppet. In order to truly be proficient with the Sacred Gear, if I investigate the truth by aiming to integrate with it……I will come to understand the puppet. I should be the one controlling the puppet, that princess, but the truth is that princess is not some kind of marionette……. That is how it feels at least, and it is quite frightening……. Even though I have learned magic, my fear towards the power that has been lodged within me since I was born has not diminished in the slightest.”

Different from her usual tone, in the words Lavinia was currently speaking, he couldn’t help but to feel as though they also carried some sort of grief while bearing dread within them as well. Even though she had been facing an independent avatar type Sacred Gear for a long time when compared to himself, she still felt the same about it…….

“I want you to be careful as well, Toby. With the independent avatar types, even if you should investigate the power sleeping within it, the moment you approach the truth there is a possibility of being consumed by that power. Your other self is a part of yourself, another version of yourself. If you show an opening at any point, that other version of yourself can change places with you.”

Lavinia cautioned him in that manner.

Jin……could swap places with me……?

Tobio had locked eyes with Jin, but the black dog in question merely inclined his head.

……Jin, that thing I encountered in my dream before, was that him waiting for an opening to swap places with me……?

Tobio was newly aware that, for him to master Jin’s power, a suitable firmness of resolution was necessary.

And then, having heard the word ‘magic’ by chance, Tobio suddenly thought back to the old woman——the witch he had encountered at the ‘Utsusemi Agency’ hideout. At that time, Lavinia had glared at the opposing witch with cold eyes…….

Tobio proceeded to ask about that.

“……Lavinia-san, that witch that you saw at the ‘Utsusemi Agency’ hideout……is there some relation between you……?”

It was obvious that that old woman she had confronted——the witch who commanded that giant of purple flames, was a target of Lavinia’s hatred. As a fellow user of magic, could there be some kind of connection between them?

Roughly speaking, he had been informed that said witch was connected to ‘The Wizards of Oz’……. With a name like ‘The Wizards of Oz’ appearing from out of juvenile literature, Tobio and the others had been bewildered…….

After Tobio had asked, suspecting that Lavinia would not reply, he shifted his gaze away from Jin, giving her a fleeting sideways glance——

“That was an adversary.”

Lavinia’s face had drawn very close to him! Tobio was surprised by her abrupt appearance. And yet, Lavinia’s appearance……was one of just a towel hanging from her neck……. The twin white hills of her breasts, that which was below……he ended up seeing it all!!

Lavinia spoke while paying it no mind.

“I came here for the sake of stopping that witch……of stopping them.”

In spite of her current appearance, her facial expression was still her typical one…….

It happened at that moment.

“Are you there Tobio? I’ve brought you a bottle for rehydration but……. Is anyone there?”

A voice came from outside! It was Sae’s voice!! How could her timing be so bad! Being in this sort of situation, Tobio’s thoughts ground to a complete halt. He thought of how good it would be if he could hide in the shadows like Jin.

At the very least, to get through this situation he needed to go outside to receive the bottle. His upper body was presently nude but……for Sae, with whom he’d been together with since childhood, they had a relationship where she’d seen his upper body numerous times. There shouldn’t be a problem if it’s just to this extent.

Then, he would have Lavinia remain here, and at the same time he would hurriedly go up to receive the bottle.

“Is that Shaae? If it is about Toby, he is in here, okay?”

Of all things, that Lavinia had replied to Sae who was outside from in here! Moreover, she informed her that Tobio was in here! As usual, Lavinia had called Sae “Shaae”.

After that reply, a short silent period came, and then the door gently opened.

Sae timidly observed the state of affairs inside.

“……Tobio with……Lavinia-san……?”

As she said that, the image that appeared before Sae’s eyes was that of Tobio, who’s upper body was naked, a girl who was naked short of a towel hanging from her neck, and in addition to them there was a black dog accompanying.

Faced with these excessive circumstances, as Sae gazed at both Tobio and Lavinia in turn, her mouth absently hanging open, she fell completely silent.

“…………”

——Bad.

Bad bad bad bad bad bad bad!! Tobio, hurriedly coming up with an excuse, began to speak.

“U-Umm, this is……Sae, this isn’t what it looks like!”

Sae, putting on a forced smile, held out the drink bottle to Tobio. However, Sae then noticed the partially drunken bottle that had been placed on the bench next to Tobio.

“This is a bottle for rehydrating……or it would be, except it seems you’ve already been drinking one. Well then, I’ll hold onto this spare one. See you later——.”

As she had said, Sae tried to leave that place, but forgetting to open the door, she ended up crashing right into it.

“Ouch! …………I-I’m alright.”

While the tip of her nose was stinging, with a forced smile, Sae hurriedly opened the door with an “Eheheh”, and left.

………….

……Tobio, having reached his wit’s end over this situation, sat down, having nothing to say about the circumstances other than, “Ahh, now I’ve done it…….”

As for Lavinia——,

“?”

She just stood there like that with a question mark floating above her head.