Story 3-25『Not Number One』
“… … Ah.” (Shuri)
The scenery shined brightly and disappeared, a brutal black wall surrounded me.
Again, I’ve come back to this place.
I failed for the second time.
『… Although I expected as much, you aren’t number one, Shuri.』(Lily)
Lily’s voice resounded through the space I was at. Her words pierced my chest like an arrow.
“… What do you mean?” (Shuri)
Barely, the words came out of my mouth. They were towards Lily’s remark.
“As expected, you say… what do you mean?” (Shuri)
『You do not love Hero-sama, you are taking advantage of Hero-sama’s love.』(Lily)
I don’t… love Katsuragi-kun?
I’m taking advantage of Katsuragi-kun’s love?
I don’t understand what she’s implying. There was a question mark floating over my head.
Lily saw my appearance, and with a big sigh seemed to be genuinely amazed.
『What do you learn from this trial?』 (Lily)
I looked back on my memories from the trial. It went without saying. She was probably going to say the main cause of my failure.
“I didn’t… apologize to Katsuragi-kun.” (Shuri)
『That’s right. That’s taking Hero-sama’s love for granted.』(Lily)
“… … … –“ (Shuri)
I bit my lips. Because it was as Lily said.
Because I didn’t do the thing that, if I liked Katsuragi-kun more than anyone else, should have been done before anyone else.
Because Katsuragi-kun loves me.
Without noticing it, what happened long ago had been vanishing from my mind
However, he would surely remember it crystal clear. He said nothing because he loves me.
I’ve certainly been taking Katsuragi-kun’s love for granted.
『… It seems you’ve understood.』(Lily)
“Yeah… However, it’s absolutely impossible that I don’t love him. The feelings I have are real.” (Shuri)
『If that’s so, answer my question. Alright?』 (Lily)
Lily’s voice was provocative.
It’s alright. There’s no need to be anxious. I mean, I love Katsuragi-kun without a doubt.
『What is Hero-sama’s favorite food?』 (Lily)
… … Favorite food?
A question that simplistic was anticlimactic. I immediately looked through my memories, trying to recall him eating.
What kind of food did he want to eat in my memories…
Come to think of it, Katsuragi-kun’s favorite food… what is it?
Any time we went to eat he would say it was “delicious”, and I was satisfied…
I didn’t hear it. I’ve never heard of something like Katsuragi-kun’s favorite food.
Seeing me begin to panic with no responses, Lily began to speak.
『Do you understand? You don’t even know such a simple thing. And yet you dare say that you love Hero-sama.』 (Lily)
“Y-you’re wrong! Even so, Yui-chan and Hayase-san…!” (Shuri)
Denying how she guessed right, I responded immediately.
The thing I just did was attack another person, a disgusting act.
『Unfortunately… those two know Hero-sama’s preference. Fuuko found it out during her trial. Shield seemed to know it from before.』 (Lily)
“No way…” (Shuri)
In other words, two people did the trial better than me.
Yui-chan aside, Hayase-san…?
“… … Ah.” (Shuri)
Then, I realized that she did something that I couldn’t. She apologized.
She diligently confessed her crime.
『Would you like me to tell you? How shield passed the test? 』 (Lily)
“T-that’s not needed.” (Shuri)
『Shield didn’t abandon Hero-sama at the start.』 (Lily)
I abandoned him. It was for the future.
『After that, she opened Hero-sama’s closed mind. Day after day, she endured her pained heart, never giving up. She used common sense on Hero-sama to accomplish it.』 (Lily)
Did I ever think about doing that? I was mistaken to think that I could improve my relationship with Katsuragi-kun just by talking with him.
『Then, in the end she fulfilled Hero-sama’s wished. She had him win against Hero-sama’s hated enemy.』 (Lily)
“T-that’s a lie! You’re lying!” (Shuri)
『Shield passed because it is the truth. Shouldn’t you admit your irresponsibility?』 (Lily)
“W-what are…” (Shuri)
『The Shield, Tamaki Yuina, now deserves to be with him more—』 (Lily)
“—Stop iiiit!!” (Shuri)
I shouted to interrupt her.
My head was confused.
Katsuragi’s smiling face floated away and disappeared like bubbles.
Now, my delusions involuntarily came up with the worst conclusion. The one he’s smiling at is not me—
“Ah… ahh…” (Shuri)
I lost my strength, and leaned against the wall.
“… What have I been doing up till now…?” (Shuri)
I unconsciously spoke.
The energy that I had for this trial till now—was gone.
I was in the Scorching Execution Ground that was not the illusion that Lily created.
“… Well, I wonder if those two are…” (Tamaki)
After successfully passing the two trials I wasn’t calm and waited for the other two’s results restlessly.
“Well, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Since there’s a bit more till they’re done.” (Lily)
Reacting to my monologue, Lily Shuraham looked at the crystal ball in front of her. She seems to have been monitoring our movements using that. Touching the crystal ball, she could talk to us using that.
As for that… although I defeated her with the crystal stone, she was uninjured.
What she said in the second trial was an outright lie. According to Lily, it would be foolish to wound our valuable war potential.
“What is it? Are you still angry from a while ago?” (Lily)
“… Not particularly. I also didn’t want my body to be wounded…” (Tamaki)
“Then, isn’t that fine? Besides, that speech was cool.” (Lily)
Lily struck a pose, mimicking me in the second trial.
“Because I am the shield that protects him…!” (Lily)
“Aaaaaah! Quit it, you’re embarrassing me! Stop it with that look!!” (Tamaki)
I hid my embarrassed face with my hands. It was easy to imagine Lily’s grinning face.
“W-what’s with these two!? Right now, what are those two feeling!?” (Lily)
“… Ah, those two?” (Tamaki)
Though I the conversation topic switched, I noticed the atmosphere changed.
The reason was definitely Lily.
“One person seems to be slowly clearing the second trial. The other person is… not so good. She’s completely lost her will to fight.” (Lily)
As a result I couldn’t conceal my surprise. One of them was abandoning the Katsuragi LOVE trial.
I’m sure there must be a compelling reason.
“Lost her will to fight… what in the world happened?” (Tamaki)
“… No, it’s just… Because that child was a bit blinded, she misunderstood something for feeling love. She accepted it, and though I wanted her to recover…” (Lily)
“… Lily did what? Isn’t that foul play?” (Tamaki)
“I was going to support her in the end… Did I mistake the timing?” (Lily)
Lily scratched her hairy head.
“… … … …” (Tamaki)
From the way she talked and from her behavior… I have a rough idea who lost their will.
… No, there’s no way…
“Hey… she finished.” (Lily)
As Lily said that, the crystal ball cracked. Dazzling light shot out at that time.
The first to appear was that red-eyed girl, Hayase-san. The girl who rushed out fell on her bottom.
“Good work, Hayase-san.” (Tamaki)
I helped her stand up by pulling her hand. Saying words of appreciation, I tapped her shoulder with a *PonPon*.
“Tamaki-san also did good work.” (Fuuko)
“Then… that means?” (Tamaki)
“Yes! I also passed!” (Fuuko)
Hayase said with a smile. With this, the dropout was decided.
In other words, Shuri-chan…
“… What happened?” (Hayase)
“… … … Ah, no. Nothing.” (Tamaki)
It seems that it showed on my face. Hayase-san, who didn’t know the circumstances, tilted her head to the side. I hesitated and sidestepped by changing the topic.
“Leaving that aside… how did Hayase-san clear it?” (Tamaki)
“Eh? Fufu, well—“ (Fuuko)
Hayase-san smiled at me and told me the method she used to broke through.
“First of all, I confined Katsuragi-kun in his dorm room—“ (Fuuko)
“Yeah, you don’t have to say any more because I get it already! Rather, did you seriously do that!?” (Tamaki)
“Wasn’t it an obvious joke? I, unlike you guys, was already on good terms with Katsuragi-kun and got along with him normally. Ah… it would be good if that was reality… ehe, ehehe…” (Fuuko)
Ah… that’s bad… her consciousness was going on a trip.
I suddenly became tired. Haah, I sighed.
And then, there was another cracking sound from the crystal ball behind us and more light appeared.
Did Shuri-chan finish…? Or…
… Well, even if that was the result, it was just a game so it didn’t matter.
Shuri’s love wasn’t so fragile that it would shake from something like this.
That’s right! I will comfort my best friend!
I turned around thinking that.
I had an uncomfortable feeling.
Shuri-chan’s pupils showed what she felt.
Her pupils were ominously clouded.