Translated : Wing
Edited : Skat, Keito
In the maze-like ghost town, Iori continued running.
In front of him, he could see a construction site where many businesses had worked together on, in the past. However, as the project was scrapped halfway, the place was abandoned.
After arriving at the deserted shopping district of the ghost town, Iori stopped running.
The shopping district was filled with partially built shops, and many other buildings with only their rooftops' frames set up.
Since Iori had already searched the vicinity for more than an hour already, he knew the figure named (Shinpu) probably wasn’t here. After having a quick look around, he could see many homeless people sleeping on top of their plastic sheets, along with some teenagers drinking playfully.
Suddenly, he felt a sense of haziness, which caused him to press his hand against his forehead.
Is this the after-effect from the time when Senri’s (Mushi) ate my dream? Although I had experienced it before… but that last time was the first time that it had devoured this much.
Iori used his hand to support himself and laughed subconsciously.
After seeing the figures of those teens that were gazing at him with nonchalant looks, he began to recall his past memories.
However, despite it being his past memories, it was nothing more than things that happened to him merely one year earlier, yet Iori felt as if it was something that happened long ago.
This shopping district was the place where Iori met Senri for the first time.
At the time, Iori was still in junior high, and was pretty much the same as those teens gazing at him… No actually, if they were spending their time drinking here, then they were much better off than him was. Because Iori had, in the past, committed crimes back at his hometown.
Back then, Iori felt everything was boring to him.
He was strong ever since he was little; hence he liked to use violence to solve every problem. He abused the weaklings, blackmailed many others, and even formed gang-like parties to hang out with on the streets. Although he was often caught by the police, due to him being only 15 at the time, he was always released before things got messier. This only caused his behavior to worsen.
It was probably starting from that point on that Iori was dominated by impatience and overwhelming boredom. Just when it was the end of his compulsory education period, the pleasure of using violence to solve everything was gradually fading. Every time he used violence to solve problems, he would be enveloped by a sense of impatience. Even his parents had given up trying to correct him, while those that were around him kept on trying to please him. The only one that had never changed their attitude towards him was probably his childhood friend, the teenage girl named Sunakozaka Azu.
Thinking back on it, the one that Iori hurt the most was probably Azu, right? He sometimes even hit Azu for scolding at him. And because of the relationship between them, all of the other female classmates distanced themselves from Azu. Whenever lori went to school, she was always by herself.
--- Who... is it?
It happened during the winter of his third year in junior high.
In order to get rid of the boredom and anger stored within him, Iori started a war against the leading gang of Housawa Town. However, because his "comrades" betrayed him, he ended up being beat up alone. Perhaps the animosity that built up against him was too deep --- every single one of his former "comrades" were laughing happily while beating him up. At the moment he realized he had been betrayed, he stopped resisting.
Immediately after that, as he was lying badly injured on the ground of the shopping district, a teenage girl appeared. She seemed to be around same age as him, and it seemed like she was lost and arrived there by mistake. She was a cane-holding girl that looked well educated — like a princess from a rich family.
The tip of her cane ran into Iori, which caused her to turn her head defenselessly towards him.
The innocent act of the teenage girl pissed Iori off, so he pushed her away.
After watching the figure of teenage girl search for her cane anxiously after she fell on the floor, Iori then realized she was blind.
He thought to himself:
How could such weakling exist? If it was his usual self, Iori would definitely trample on her pride and mercilessly ridicule her.
After the teenage girl found her cane, she quickly walked away. Iori thought she had fled.
Raindrops began to fall as he thought self-deprecatingly to himself that it was fine if he were to die like that, and just when he was about to close his eyes ---
Something knocked against his head again.
--- Sorry… No one was willing to listen to me… So I could only come back by myself…
Upon opening his eyes, he saw the teenage girl from before standing by his side.
The teenage girl had actually left to try and get help for him… Yet no one bothered listening to her or even tried to call an ambulance for her…
Even though the teenage girl’s action surprised Iori, what surprised him most was the fact that there wasn't anyone willing to listen to this weak girl’s plea. Then he realized, he was no better than those people, in fact, he actually was the one who did the cruelest thing to her. Iori could not help but feel shocked.
And then, the teenage girl did something else that was even more unbelievable.
Throwing away her cane, she supported the injured Iori on her back and gradually walked forward.
With her fragile body that was likely to collapse even without the rain, she almost used all her strength to carry him after a few miles. She had even coughed a few times, while breathing painfully.
However, the teenage girl did not stop; she continued to carry him and to move onward.
--- Stop ---!
Iori cursed at the teenage girl with malicious remarks, and even made fun of how weak she was.
The teenage girl felt so hurt from his words that tears began to flow down her cheeks…
Even so, she continued to carry Iori. Despite her tripping many times, and despite her tears and emotional hurt from Iori's mockery, she continued to move forward.
--- Please… Stop…
After tripping over, she began to cough once again. However, this time she was coughing very severely; even her expression was distorted by pain. When a thought of the teenage girl dying along with him surfaced within his mind, an indescribable fear enveloped Iori completely.
And before he knew, he was already shouting.
Using all his remaining strength, he shouted desperately for help with such loud voice, one that he had not once used ever since he was born.
Anyone would be fine, he just hoped that someone would hear his voice and come save this girl. He didn’t care about what would happen to him; even dying there alone was fine, as long as this teenage girl could be saved ----
Iori didn’t even realize he was crying as he screamed desperately.
--- When a passerby heard his voice and came for help, the teenage girl had already passed out.
After leaving the hospital, the first thing Iori did was to search for this teenage girl.
He spent a few days searching aimlessly on the streets of Housawa Town, until he finally found the person he was looking for in front of Moira high school. She seemed to be there for the application form of the school. Knowing she was fine, Iori was relieved.
Iori then thought to himself.
--- In the end, what the hell am I?
Using violence to hurt those around him, and then being betrayed by those who feared him. Not to mention he was rescued by this weak girl.
Just when he was blaming himself, a voice suddenly came from behind him.
--- Hey, could you tell me your dream?
Iori didn’t turn around. He knew from the bottom of his heart that his mind was being attracted to the voice. It was only after hearing from Akatsuki, that he found out that the woman who was talking to him was actually (Oogui), one of the rumored originals that could give birth to Mushitsuki.
--- A dream that has just formed… Your dream seems really delicious!
If it was him in the far past, he probably wouldn’t able to answer the woman’s question. But the Iori at that moment could clearly say it without hesitation:
--- I want to protect that girl.
To protect her from those heartless people like him, away from all sorts of danger that might hurt her. No matter what it takes for him to fulfill that goal; even if Senri didn’t need him, was fine. He just hoped that, before this girl found her most precious person, he could protect her properly.
That was Iori’s only dream.
“Hey, have you guys seen anyone dressed in a ragged black robe? His head should probably be covered by a hood”
Iori shook his head and asked in a normal tone to the group of teenagers in front.
The teens exchanged gazes between each other and grinned. Iori thought they were going to walk closer to him; however they were just checking him out thoroughly with contemplating eyes.
“So… have you seen him or not?”
A teen then began to give Iori a shakedown, and searched through all of Iori's clothing; He remained silent as the teen took his wallet out to show everyone else.
“Okay, Bou-chan, how much do you have in your wallet?”
“If its money that you want, I’ll pay. Just tell me, have you seen him or not,”
Another teen slammed Iori’s shoulder while saying in a militant manner:
“Huh? Who you think you are?!”
Iori understood these types of people better than anyone else. Iori sighed as he turned around; it seemed like they hadn't seen (Shinpu) as well.
“Wait a second, what is this?”
Iori turned around because his shoulder was being pulled forcefully, and saw the teen was holding his coin filled wallet up high. They obviously were unsatisfied with the amount in the wallet.
Iori sighed again. Even though he didn’t want to make too many enemies in Senri's hometown, if he were to punch them a few times, they probably wouldn’t bother him any further, right?
Just as Iori began to have that thought, he noticed the expressions of the teens suddenly change.
Following their gaze, Iori turned around to take a look.
From darkness of the shopping district, figures that looked like insects began to appear. Insects that had bodies close to the size of humans began to close up on Iori.
The teens behind Iori were screaming loudly as they fled in panic. Even the hobos that were sleeping at a distance had done the same.
Even though Japanese government had been denying the existence of (Mushi), the rumors had already spread like an unstoppable forest fire; and also due to the media uproar about them, the fear of (Mushi) had already deeply rooted itself into the general public’s hearts. While those Mushitsuki that were infested by the (Mushi) were feared and further discriminated.
Facing five (Mushi) in front, Iori flashed a grin as he bent down to pick up his wallet that had fallen on the ground. On the top of his hand, a cyan colored ant that appeared out of nowhere could be seen.
“Judging from the timing, I believe you guys are after me huh? ... In other words, you guys might be related to that bastard called (Shinpu), right?!”
(Mushi) that were different in shapes and size began to close the distance between themself and Iori.
In response to Iori’s call, the ant that jumped down on the ground began to swell its body.
Shortly after, a giant cyan ant that was covered in plate-like shells appeared in front Iori.
“First of all, I’ll take you all out! And then take my time finding out where he is.”
The cyan soldier ant charged straight at them as Iori said that.
The battle between (Mushi) had begun.
A flying insect brutally bit onto the soldier ant as a beetle charged straight at it from its side, using its sharp claws to slash against it. While up above, a butterfly was releasing a large amount of burning powder onto it. However, none of these attacks worked against the soldier ant’s tank-like shell. The ant forcefully shook its head, and tore the body of the flying insect into two.
Meanwhile, a worm that was crawling underground and an arthropod that was wiggling its countless feet, were charging straight at Iori.
The soldier ant immediately returned to Iori’s side and bit onto a piece of concrete cement that was protruding up from the ground. After pulling the whole piece out along with the worm, it then swung its head and threw both the cement and worm against the arthropod.
And then a big collapsing noise sounded after that.
The partially built store began to collapse, as if it had suffered a huge explosion as the figures of both (Mushi) disappeared in the smoke.
The soldier ant then twitched its body in joy as it faced the sky and gave a howl.
At that instant, Iori felt something within him was disappearing as a sense of powerlessness enveloped him completely, causing him to feel drowsy.
However, Iori faced it with a proud laugh.
“(Hekihei), eat as much as you like! My dream hasn’t even decreased one single bit!”
The soldier ant then defeated the other (Mushi) with its overwhelming strength; its destructive power did not decrease at all.
As long as Senri still lives, my dream will never end ---!
The unilateral massacre was over in the blink of an eye. However, Iori then realized that something was wrong.
“He is… not here?”
Through the eyes of Iori who muttered about, he didn’t see any sign of people in the area.
Even though there were (Mushi), he couldn’t see any Mushitsuki that was supposed to be their host around.
“What the hell is going on……?”
Just when Iori was deep in thought, the five enemies that surrounded (Hekihei) were defeated in an instant. The (Mushi) that slopped out green liquids all around them began to disappear, as if they were melting away in the air.
Just then, Iori felt a strong presence above him. Raising his head, he saw a giant beetle was falling down upon him.
The cyan soldier ant immediately leapt towards the beetle in midair and bit it before throwing it onto the side with force.
The giant beetle was about three times bigger than the soldier ant. After being thrown to the side, the giant beetle immediately stood up and charged straight at Iori, but the soldier ant appeared in its path and bit onto it.
Their bodies remained motionless as they expressed their strength onto each other, one might have even thought that they were even in terms of power. However, shortly after, the beetle’s body gradually began to be lifted up into the air.
The soldier ant then bit tightly onto the beetle before smashing it against the ground a few times, causing earthquake like shockwaves to rumble throughout the shopping district. The shells of the giant beetle scattered all over as it screeched in pain.
Just then, the sound of something falling could be heard.
Looking at the source of the noise, one could see there was someone lying at the corner of empty house. The figure’s whole body was covered in a brown colored coat, while his face was covered entirely by a huge set of goggles.
Iori walked closer to the figure that was lying on the ground.
The coat-wearing figure’s entire body was wrapped in a large amount of a transparent web-like substance. Iori tried to touch them, but the webs immediately disappeared as if they were an illusion.
And since the goggles on the figure’s face had fallen off a bit when he landed, Iori was able see his pair of eyes that were slightly opened, with pupils that were akin to those that had passed away. Upon seeing this, Iori could not help but feel goose bumps appearing all over him.
--- He was probably the host of those (Mushi) that Iori defeated earlier on, right? Even though he was still breathing, which proved that he was still alive, he was staring at Iori motionlessly—like a lifeless doll.
So this is a Fallen huh
Those Mushitsuki that lost their (Mushi) would lose every emotion and dream they had and become “Fallen”. And Fallen would not even have any self-will; they will only obey others' commands. Such end didn’t really count as being alive.
After hearing the roar of the soldier ant, Iori came back to his senses.
With overwhelming strength, Iori’s (Mushi) eliminated every single enemy.
After becoming a Mushitsuki, whenever Iori saw his (Mushi), he would always have this feeling that --- He was actually just a tiny ant that was crawling on the ground.
However, he had things he wanted to protect; and it was because of this feeling that he stood up to fight, stood up against others in order to protect.
His end would probably be no different than this figure in front of him, either he would turn into a fallen or die after his (Mushi) had fully devoured his dream.
However, it didn't matter what end awaited him, Iori had already made up his mind. In order to protect Senri, he didn’t care what would happen to him.
Within Iori’s mind, the image of his childhood friend Azu that grew up along with him appeared.
The teenage girl who had never changed her attitude towards him, and always worried over him that liked to make enemies. Iori knew that he had been ignoring her kindness, disregarding her advice, and then hurting her for trying to help himself, even going as far as pretending he hadn’t realized her feelings.
What would Azu think of Iori who wanted to protect Senri?
In the past, Azu had always believed in Iori despite him doing all sorts of bad things, yet what could he do for her?
Breathing out a blow of white mist, Iori gazed silently at his (Mushi) hoping to find an answer, yet he was unable to find any.
Thank you for reading~
Feel free to leave comments for any questions or feedback~
That's probably my last release for this month, totally stressed out from work and have to spend some time on editing one of the *really* long chapter in volume 1.
And of course my thought about this chapter, its very good. If some girl was to do that to me, i'll definitely vow to be by her side forever as well~ well in regard to Iori, i'm kinda pissed that i couldnt give him a piece of me when he did those things to her.