The pain was going to come.
A pain beyond imagination.
In a few seconds, his head would be cut off and he would die.
Rook Barusak was scared of the pain. Since a long time ago, since his previous world, he hated pain. He wanted to live comfortably without painful feelings. That´s why he appropriately studied, was approved at a high school of his standing, fooled around with friends of his standing, and likewise, was approved into an university.
The way he followed his life as Rook Barusak had been the same. Making use of his knowledge as the main character, he intended to live his life without suffering as much as possible so that he would not go through pain.
Because this was his second life, he wanted to live to the end of his days in a happy ending.
Where did he do wrong?
As to endure the pain that was to come, Rook clenched his teeth. And then, he waited for the moment Selestinna´s sword would cut through the wind and cut off his head.
However, no matter how much he waited, the pain didn´t come.
Timidly raising his face, Rook saw that Riku´s sword had stopped mid-air. No, it didn´t simply stop. Without Riku blinking her eyes or moving her chest in order to breath, and without a single strand of the red hair that would stand out even at night moving, the sword was simply completely suspended.
“Eh, eh? Ri-riku…ane?”
Slowly standing up, Rook brusquely waved his hands. However, Riku didn´t show any reactions. Without not even a single frown appearing at her forehead, Riku simply kept looking at the place Rook had been cowering at a few moments ago. He slowly stepped away from her, but without any changes, there wasn´t the slightest movement.
“What is this?”
At that moment, Rook noticed that there was no sound.
Only his own voice that had strangely echoed very loudly. Although comparing to the daytime, the nighttime would be quiet, even so, it is impossible that there wouldn´t be any sounds. He couldn´t hear the agitation at the main street, the cries of a baby, the sound of the wind, or even the sound of the touches cracking with the fire.
“Wh-what is it happening!?”
Only his voice echoed through the back-alley to no purpose.
Rook looked at the surroundings. Riku wasn´t the only one that wasn´t moving. There was another one that didn´t move in Rook´s field of vision.
It was Piguro Obis, the staff officer of Leivein Adlar who had been looking at the situation of the battle from a place a little far away from them. With his eyes crossed in an arrogant posture, he silently kept looking at Riku.
“Hey, please answer me. Did the time stop?”
Rook staggeringly approached Piguro. Piguro was introduced in the game with the ranking of [staff officer] at the Demon Lord army. He was someone that gave off the feeling that he had the intelligence to immediately solve any mysteries even in unexpected situations.
Rook was aware that something such as asking the enemy for information was something that was against the pride of spiritualists and something that should be looked with disdain. However, Rook didn´t think that he would be able to get out of the present situation by himself.
“I beg you, answer me!”
If Rook touched Piguro, perhaps his time, which had stopped, would start moving again.
Hanging onto this hope, Rook touched Piguro´s arm. At that instant, the point of his finger that had touched him caught fire, and in a blink of an eye, together with a roaring sound, the fire engulfed his whole body.
While raising an unsightly scream, Rook took distance from the fire.
With a roar, in an instant, Piguro became on fire. Without raising any cries, Piguro was turned into ashes and the fire vanished into the darkness.
There were no traces remaining at where Piguro was standing at. If one was to press on about it, the best that could be said would be only how the ground there was slightly burnt.
“It is attrition, Rook Barusak.”
Suddenly, somebody spoke to Rook from behind.
Hurriedly turning his head, Rook saw the shinigami standing there. While he fondled with his soft looking black wings, the shinigami had the corners of his mouth raised as if he had been extremely happy.
“Even I can´t do something like stopping time. All I did was to speed up the time of the area around you and me. That´s why it looks like everything has stopped moving, and that anything you touch catches fire.”
Rook remembered a talk about how when one goes above the speed of sound, it feels like the words has stopped moving.
In the distant past, he had the feeling he had heard a talk about how in the time a normal person would be able to do a single action, someone that had been sped up would be able to have finished doing ten things. And on the other hand, if one was to touch paper or cloth, with the attrition of the air, it would catch fire.
“Why did you do something like this?”
It would have been better if the shinigami had shown himself after he had stopped Riku from moving.
At least, if the shinigami had told Rook that touching things will make them catch on fire before he touched Piguro, it would have been possible to do without his death without doubt.
The one to kill Piguro wasn´t himself. It was obvious the one that killed him was the shinigami. Rook glared at the shinigami. After he did that, the shinigami shook his head as if saying [how regrettable].
“Why, you ask… You see, it´s because if that was to go on like that, you would have died. Yes, your head would have been separated from your body with her sword. If that was to happen, wouldn´t I be unable to hear out your wish?”
The instant Rook head those words, his heart started pulsating fast.
The things the shinigami had told him after the battle at Sherr island resurfaced at his mind. In exchange for his own soul, the shinigami would grant him a single wish of any kind.
At that time, because of the shock of being told that he had been parasitizing the soul of the true main character, the talk about him having a wish granted had ended. However, it didn´t mean that the conversation had been finished there. Rook remembered that it had simply been put off to another day.
“Can you still grant my wish?”
“That is right. I came here to hear your wish after all.”
With a sweet voice that could even melt the brain, the shinigami whispered.
“If you wish for it, I can grant it no matter what it is. Yes… Wasn´t it your dream to do your life all over again?”
“My life… Do it over again?”
Rook´s pulse started to become faster.
If ten years ago… he had saved Riku, the development of the story wouldn´t have changed to this point. At least, Riku wouldn´t be at the Demon Lord army, and Selestinna would have been able to survive. If Selestinna would still be alive, then obviously Rebecca and Kurumi wouldn´t have died either, and by now, perhaps they would be smiling beside him together with Anna. Piguro, who had been burnt to death a few moments ago, would have been able to survive, and Charlotte wouldn´t have refused him at that time.
He wanted to go back to the past.
He wanted to redo his life one more time.
He would correct what had gone wrong, and would aim for it to develop in the way it was supposed to be. If he made a contract with the shinigami, then this time he would be able to form the harem he dreamed of. And besides, this sorrowful future wouldn´t exist anymore, and everyone that had died would be able to walk in that world of happiness.
For him to be able to do all this, how marvelous it was.
“Rook, what´s the matter? Is there any need for you to hesitate in your current situation?”
But even so, Rook couldn´t set his resolve.
He wanted to have his wish granted for his own sake without thinking about anything else. This was the easiest way to solve all this, and he had the feeling that this was the way to have everyone become happy.
However, while clenching both of his hands, he couldn´t get to feel like agreeing to that contract.
Rook was so scared of having to exchange this for his soul that he couldn´t bear.
If he was able to do his life over, he would be able to go back to when he was a child. However, he didn´t know at what time did he need to hand over the compensation. To begin with, if he had his soul eaten by the shinigami, what would happen to him after that.
The moment he thought about what would happen in the future, his body started to tremble.
“Are you scared? Rook Barusak.
The shinigami gently extended his hand.
As if consoling him, the hand was gently placed in front of his eyes.
“It is alright. There is no need for you to be scared. It is fine for you to do as you think it is best, and for you to live as you wish.”
“For me to live as I wish?”
“That´s right. I am here to help you on that.”
And so, he had to take his hand and accept the contract.
With the shinigami´s sweet words, Rook extended his hand. However, when he was only a step away from taking his hand, he abandoned the idea.
It would have been better if he accepted the contract without thinking about anything. It would have been better for him to wish for being able to do everything over just like the shinigami had told him to. Rook´s life and the life of the people that had died would clearly go into a better way if he did so.
“I need to change the world for everyone´s sake.”
The faces of the girls that couldn´t smile once again resurfaced in his mind.
In order to have those girls being capable of smiling once again, to save Riku, whose life has been destroyed, for the sake of the demons that had been unjustly killed and his comrades that had been killed at Karkata, and also for the sake of the true main character that had his soul dried up because of him, he needed to suppress his fear.
In order to change the world, fear was not needed. If he didn´t have the resolve to throw away one or two souls, he wouldn´t be able to become a main character.
“Is that your wish?”
The eyes of the shinigami had a cold glint that were like the shine of jewels.
Rook silently looked at the shinigami. Looking at the shinigami, who looked to be somewhat happy, Rook´s face that was stiff because of his fear softened up a bit.
“I want to change the world. I want to save everyone, have everyone become happy, and make a world that everyone can smile.
He muttered those few words.
He felt that by each word he spoke, the more his thoughts were being solidified.
“But, this… Maybe it is only my selfishness.”
“Yes. This is probably just that I wanted to become happy. That I wanted to create a world centralized on myself.”
The true feelings he had been hiding had finally been shown to the world.
Him wanting to kill Riku was just his personal grudge for Selestinna´s death, and him wanting to save Riku was just the regret of how he had left one of the heroines to die. Him wanting Piguro, who he had killed by accident, and the spiritualists that had lost their life at the great defeat of Karkata to come back to life was only because he wanted to run away from his sins.
All of this was nothing but his own biased thoughts.
“That´s why, shinigami.”
For some reason, Rook´s heart lightened.
As if a fresh air had been blown at it, his heart had calmed down. There was nothing to be scared of anymore.
He didn´t know whether this choice was the correct one or not. But he wanted to believe that it wasn´t the wrong one.
“My wish is…”
After Rook had told his wish to the shinigami… the [time] that had been stopped started to move once again.