Nodoka was trembling under her blanket, while gripping her Slimphone and sitting on top of her bed that was in a corner of her room.
She could hear the intermittent sounds of clashing coming from outside, but she was so scared that she was not even able to get out of her bed, let alone go outside to check.
“Mom, hurry up…!!”
Nodoka whispered in a teary voice while gripping her inoperative Slimphone.
However, the only reply she got was a powerful impact that rocked the whole house.
A person was slammed into the veranda outside Nodoka’s room, and the railings were greatly deformed.
The person slammed into the veranda was Diana, who bore wounds all over her body, and the impact was so powerful that it wouldn’t have been surprising if it had torn off the veranda completely and punched a hole in the wall.
“Uuh… I w-wont let you lay a finger of Nodoka…!”
An impact like that would normally shatter all the bones in a person’s body and definitely kill them, but Diana still stood up.
Nodoka timidly called out in the direction of the window that was already broken.
“I’m sorry… It’s quite tough, looks like it will take awhile to deal with it…”
Even so, Diana smiled at Nodoka to reassure her, while her face was covered in blood.
“I definitely won’t let them lay a finger on you, Nodoka! Haaaaah!”
After psyching herself up, Diana once again jumped out of the broken window that she had come flying through.
At the thunderous sound caused by Diana’s superhuman leap, Nodoka once again crouched down.
“Just… Just what is going on!”
Nodoka had not directly seen the battle between Diana and the Shii the day before yesterday, but according to what she had heard from her brother, Diana didn’t seem to have too much trouble against the Shii. However, this time, Diana was being overwhelmed by numbers.
She had been a little on edge while she was at school, but in the end, nothing had happened and the school day ended as usual. She had occasionally wondered if Diana had come to check up on her, but she didn’t see her anywhere, and when she called her house phone, Diana picked up while sounding a little tired and she could hear the sound of the television in the background.
Later, she had sent a message to her mother informing her that there were no problems, and ordered pizza after getting her mother’s permission. She then spent a slightly awkward evening with Diana who definitely looked listless compared to how she was in the morning.
She watched shows on TV that she would not usually watch, and explained what was going on to Diana even though she had not really asked for an explanation, and somehow managed to pass the time until nine o’clock.
“Well, I’ll go up to my room now. You know how to use the bath, right?”
“Yes, Madoka showed me how to use it last night. Good night.”
Nodoka went upstairs to her room as she had to prepare for tomorrow and take care of some other personal things. Just as she closed her room door and let out a sigh, Diana came running up the stairs at a tremendous speed.
Diana rushed into her room with almost enough force to destroy the door, yelled that at Nodoka, and pushed her onto the bed.
Nodoka was surprised by Diana’s sudden violent behaviour, but the next instant…
Her window glass shattered violently, and at the same time, the spot where Nodoka had just been standing blew up forcefully with a roar.
Diana protected her head from the flying glass and wood splinters, but her arms were mercilessly injured by the shrapnel.
Nodoka let out a scream, but in the next second, Diana was holding Castor and Pollux in her hands, and a blade of light appeared from each.
“Stay away from the window! Put your blanket over your head for protection! Contact Madoka!”
After shouting that, Diana took a huge leap and flew out of the window.
After that, Diana fought for a long time against enemies that Nodoka couldn’t even see, for what felt like one or two hours. However, Diana just got more injured as time went on, and it didn’t look like the fight was going to end anytime soon.
“Oh come on, why won’t it work…!”
Nodoka’s Slimphone was heartlessly showing a ‘No Signal’ message, and even ROPE, which was supposed to work over the internet, just kept trying to connect and it didn’t look like it was going to work. Nodoka was curled up in fear, and she didn’t think of trying to use her house phone.
Even if she had thought of it, she would have to go past the window in her room to go downstairs, and the thought of another explosion kept her from moving. At that moment…
Amidst the encompassing darkness, light brighter than anything she had ever seen flashed outside, and seared Nodoka’s vision.
It looked like a flash of lightning that occurs just before a peal of thunder.
She wasn’t particularly afraid of lightning as a weather phenomenon, but the light outside was was so intense that it threw everything in her room into stark relief, and it was certainly not natural.
“W-What was that… !!”
She saw the flash of light another three times through her window, and suddenly, the sounds of Diana fighting outside abruptly stopped.
Nodoka didn’t even have the time to regain her wits.
A black, humanoid figure that looked like an incarnation of darkness descended upon the veranda.
In its ‘hands’, it held Diana, who was not moving, still holding her weapons with limp fingers.
Diana had lost.
However, before Nodoka could register this fact, her eyes were drawn to the face of the otherworld monster, the Shii. It’s head looked like an even blacker darkness was etched into an already dark surface, but it certainly had human features. It was a man who was about the same age as her father. He did not look like a Japanese person.
So this is what a Shii, a human who turned into a monster, looked like.
The places where the eyes should be, and the place where the mouth should be, were ominous, and different from the surrounding darkness. Was this light? Or was it flame?
The figure looked at Nodoka with anger and scorn, as flames flickered within its eyes and mouth. A voice issued from its mouth. Or was even that a hallucination caused by fear?
“N-Nodoka… run away…”
Nodoka was frozen in place, unable to move so much as a finger, just like a prey animal that is being glared at by a predator.
So this is what true fear was.
A primal fear that is built into all organisms.
A fear that threatens to wipe out all thought.
The aspect of death.
That instant in which you know you’re going to die for certain.
The interior of the house that was bound by darkness… no, from Nodoka’s perspective, she could only think that all the lights had been extinguished, was suddenly illuminated by a different light, and a red light completely different from the light emanating from the Shii’s eyes appeared behind it.
“Don’t you dare lay a finger on my daughteeeeeer!!”
Tears flowed out from Nodoka’s eyes after hearing that familiar voice.
The flames disappeared from the Shii’s face as though it was surprised, and the instant it turned around, it was enveloped in flames as bright as the sun that looked like it would reduce anything to char.
“Nodoka! Are you okay!?”
Her mother’s form slowly came into view from behind the pillar of flame that was encompassing the Shii. In her hand, she held Diana who was still lying limp after her ordeal with the Shii.
“Diana-san! Is she okay!?”
“Her wounds aren’t as bad as they appear… if anything, I’m worried about the state of her mind. Yasuo!”
Nodoka finally noticed the presence of her brother, who had entered her room normally through the door.
“Take care of Diana-chan.”
“Woah! Understood… but you really shouldn’t be throwing people. Ouch.”
Her brother looked just like he always did after coming back from school, except for the dust that covered him from head to toe.
Yasuo managed to catch Diana while making complaints to his mother, but because he was not in the right position to catch her, the unexpected weight of a person threatened to make him fall over.
“Hey, don’t drop her.”
While Madoka was rebuking Yasuo, the pillar of flame that surrounded the Shii was blown away in an instant. Madoka put herself between the Shii and the others, and glared bitterly at the Shii that had blasted away her flames.
“I guess he’s made of stronger stuff than the one that attacked earlier. A flame of just this level isn’t enough to even put a scratch on him.”
The Shii that looked like a human male stood there, looking like it had not taken any damage from the flames at all.
“This is… the voice of the Shii.”
The voice that seemed like it originated from the depths of Hell felt like it ran through their very bones and scraped against their nerves. Along with fear, Nodoka felt like she was about to throw up, but after hearing that voice, Diana, who was being supported by Yasuo, opened her eyes a little.
“…Madoka… That Shii is…”
“I know. You did well to protect Nodoka and hold out for so long.”
“…I’m sorry… I’m sorry…!”
Diana was crying. Was this because she felt powerless at being unable to protect Nodoka?
No, that wasn’t the case.
“It’s okay. You weren’t able to tell us because you were worried about how Hideo and I would react, right? There’s no way I could ever mistake this person for someone else, though, no matter how much time passes. Seeing him again like this was a shock, it’s bad for my heart.”
Madoka glared at the Shii that was once again surrounded by dark flames, while grinding her teeth.
“Seriously, what do you think you’re doing? Hideo and I… and even Erize would never forgive you for making your cute daughter cry like this.”
However, the words that were uttered by Madoka were tinged with an undeniable sense of grief.
“Alex… To think that someone as powerful as you would end up in such a state…”
Madoka Sugiura, the woman who was hailed as the “Rainbow Sage” after the end of their journey fighting against Demon King Kaul, said that while looking at the Shii who had once been a man known as the “Swordmaster”, Alexei Krone, and the husband of her dear friend Erijina.
There were no two people within the Resteria Kingdom’s Knights who were on as bad terms as Alexei Krone and Erijina Radagast.
Alexei led the sword and spear units within the Knights, while Erijina led the magicians. The two of them were always at odds, using various strategies to improve the position of their own units even by a little.
Such politics were common in all countries at the time, but having to face the armies of Demon King Kaul without resolving their internal disputes caused Resteria to face repeated failure. Even then, the chasm between the soldiers and the magicians was so deep that neither side showed any intention of burying the hatchet.
It was the arrival of the hero, Hideo, and the magician, Madoka, that caused a change in the situation.
The two of them always fought to protect the most number of people that they could, instead of trying to win glory in battle. That was obvious, since neither of them had any sort of political standing in the country called Resteria, but after watching them fight, both Alexei and Erijina were forced to acknowledge just how foolishly they had been fighting until then.
In the end, both Erijina and Alexei joined Hideo’s party as guides and guards, but their bickering never ceased. However, even then, Madoka could tell that the two of them were irresistibly drawn to each other in spite of their constant fighting.
The two of them never stopped their bickering, even during their travels, but their relationship was one of friendly rivalry; Alexei combined magic with his swordsmanship and created the military art of magical swordsmanship, and Erijina gained the knowledge of weapons that would later become the basis for the creation of Techno Weapons.
After the final battle had ended, in front of Hideo and Madoka who were preparing to return to Japan, Alexei, squirming self-consciously with his burly body and blushing to the tips of his fingers, finally asked Erijina to marry him. Hideo, who was a thick-headed youth, had been greatly surprised.
Madoka was convinced that the two of them would definitely make a great couple, and in fact, when their daughter came looking for Hideo after thirty years, Madoka had to restrain herself from flying back to that strange land immediately and giving her congratulations to her dear friends.
“And yet, why did you turn into something like that, leaving Erize and Diana-chan behind!?”
“There’s no way that someone as strong as you would lose to a mere monster. Just what happened!?”
However, the Shii that bore Alexei’s features did not answer her questions.
“Hideo is not here! The only people here are my children, and your daughter!”
Madoka’s fierce, yet sad shout caused the air to tremble.
“I cannot allow an existence that bears your features to sin any further… If you refuse to leave, then I, Sugiura Madoka, will be your opponent!”
“Yes! I’ve been called by all kinds of embarrassing names since back in the day, but I’m still the ‘Rainbow Sage’! Do you still remember, even after turning into a Shii!? In that case…”
Madoka formed seals with her hands in front of her chest at a high speed.
“I’ll make you remember the power of my fire magic!”
The Rainbow Sage, Madoka, raised her hands that were surrounded by flames above her head while anger and sadness were reflected in her eyes. In that instant, particles of light began to gather around her body.
“…My name is Madoka! The person who will shine light down on the darkness of the land!”
The structure of the chant that Madoka shouted was the same as that of the chant that their father had uttered on that fateful day in the living room, when he summoned the Holy Sword Liutberga.
“Inferno, rush forth! Dawnlight, illuminate! Gather the scorching fire that breaks apart the icy souls! Holy staff of fire, Marlowe!! Answer my call and take form!!”
Along with her dignified chant, Madoka’s appearance made the dark atmosphere waver. And in the next moment…
“Ah… this is the true appearance of the Rainbow Sage…”
The siblings, Yasuo and Nodoka could only stand there agape at this unexpected situation, and Diana, who was still being held by Yasuo, let out some words while sounding like she was ecstatic.
That couldn’t be helped.
Along with a flash of light, their mother had transformed into a Magical Lady.
It would be unreasonable to ask the siblings to say something in this situation.
After their father had shown them his Holy Sword that he had used in his youth, and their mother had told them that she had once fought beside him, they should have expected this.
However, even after all the knowledge they had gained about the other world, and steeling their resolve, the visual impact of the scene before them far exceeded the level of their father’s Holy Sword and Diana’s Magitech weaponry.
Their mother held a staff that gave off a mysterious light… they could still accept this because they knew that she had been a powerful magician in the other world.
However, she was one year younger than Hideo. A forty seven year old woman, no matter how much of a living legend she was, it was unforgivable for her to wear a dress that exposed her shoulders and part of her bare legs under a miniskirt.
Specifically, her upper arms and the area around her collarbone were quite difficult to look at. Also, her bare legs.
The son who was in high school, and the daughter who was in middle school, somehow restrained themselves, but even so, the Magical Lady looked at them and,
“The two of you are not getting your allowance this month!”
She made such a ruthless statement.
““But we didn’t even say anything!””