The World Is Overflowing with Monster, I’m Taking a Liking to This Life - Chapter 189
There was something that had always remained a mystery.
Those devoured by the Treants would also have their existence erased from the world.
They would be erased from other people’s memories and thoughts, almost as if they never existed in the first place.
—Then where would these stolen memories go?
Would the Treants absorb them as nutrients and disappear forever?
Would they remain as a part of the Treants?
No one knew, and there was no point in knowing either.
After all, those that had their memories robbed from them wouldn’t even be “aware” of that fact.
Nobody would remember anything about the people that disappeared.
Nobody would mourn them, nobody would wonder what happened to them, and nobody would be worried for them.
The gears of the world would continue to turn as if nothing was wrong.
That was one of the characteristics of the monsters known as Treants.
As the “weakest” among all the monsters, they had evolved and acquired this horrifying self-defense mechanism.
However, there were “exceptions” to everything.
Yes, for example, people’s deprived memories might obtain “bodies” of their own and manifest in unimaginable forms.
It was like a scene right out of a nightmare.
The faces of Goshogawara’s beloved wife and daughter appeared on a portion of the “Fertility Eating Rye’s” outer skin.
Goshogawara stared at what was happening in a daze.
What is this? What on earth is going on?
It was at that moment that his memories of his wife and daughter came back.
He recalled everything from their voice to their face, and he crouched down to hold his head as the waves of memories rushed back like a muddy stream.
This created an opening for a separate “Fertility Eating Rye” to launch an attack with its flexible tongue which stretched out like a whip.
It was Shibata, who was the closest to Goshogawara, that took matters into his own hands.
He collided heavily with Goshogawara, sending both of them tumbling on the ground and barely avoiding the attack.
“Are ya nuts!? Want to die that much? Why the hell are ya zoning out in the middle of a battle!?”
“O…Oh, sorry about that…”
Shibata hollered at him, but Goshogawara responded as if his mind was somewhere else.
“What’s wrong with ya? This ain’t like ya at all…”
“My wife and my daughter…they were there.”
Goshogawara pointed at the “Fertility Eating Rye” in front of them.
“My wife Midori… and my daughter Satsuki…they’re both over there…asking me for help in agony…!”
“What are ya…?”
Stunned, Shibata turned to look.
As Goshogawara had claimed, there were faces of two women groaning in agony.
He subconsciously shook his face, refusing to believe what he was seeing.
Then, he clenched his teeth tightly.
“Those must be fake!”
He shouted so.
“Don’t be fooled by them, Ossan! Those—those ought to be fake!”
“You must be disappointed, Peony, but we’re not so dumb as to be deceived by those mere imitatiooooooons!”
Shibata threw the spear in his hand at the “Fertility Eating Rye” as he said so.
They might be poisoned if they carelessly drew near. That was why he had to throw his weapon.
The spear that he threw embedded itself on the “face” of Goshogawara’s wife.
“…NO, DON’T DO THIS…NOOOOO…”
The countless mouths let out piercing screams.
The woman whose face had been skewered shed tears of blood, and the face of the girl next to her screamed in despair.
It was hard to believe that this was all fake, hard to believe that it was all an act.
“What are you doing, Shibata-kun! My wife! Midori!”
“Wake up, Ossan! Just look! You think those things can be considered ‘alive’?”
“There’s no way that they’re ‘alive’…They’re just trying to confuse you through these fakes—”
As if to interrupt Shibata, a new set of “voices” started being echoed into their ears.
The new voices were from a different “Fertility Eating Rye”.
They turned to look, only to witness the fresh “faces” on the newcomer.
Faces of young high-school male students.
Shibata was familiar with these faces.
They weren’t something that he could possibly forget.
“Satou…? Kazama…? Ya too, Tanigawa…?”
They were the faces of those that he had “forsaken” in the past.
When their base had been the Home Center, Shibata and his friends had visited the Shopping Mall in search of food.
There, they encountered the High Orc, and only Shibata managed to escape alive.
“Why…? I…I haven’t forgotten about ya guys! Ya’ll haven’t left my mind for even a moment!”
There was something that he didn’t know which was the source of his confusion.
The Treants’ diet wasn’t limited to living creatures.
Dead bodies were also a source of nutrients for them.
In the past, Nishino had wondered why there weren’t as many bodies as he thought there would be given the number of survivors.
The Treants were behind this as well.
They could receive nourishment through the dead bodies.
However, unlike with the living, the memories of the dead would not be deprived from others.
That was the only difference.
Stop staring at me with those eyes.
Shibata unknowingly backed away.
His eyebrows were furrowed deep, and he was breathing irregularly.
“No…I didn’t abandon ya guys…”
Upon encountering the seemingly undefeatable monster, he had chosen to bring back the “information” to his teammates.
Objectively speaking, it was the correct decision.
Neither Nishino nor Rikka blamed him for it.
Nevertheless, it didn’t change the fact that he had “forsaken his comrades and fled by himself”.
No matter how hard he tried, he could not find it within himself to forgive his sin.
Just like Goshogawara, he was being bound by the past—and by the dead.
“…! Don’t…don’t f*ck with me! As if…as if something like this could actually be happening!!”
Shibata shouted at the top of his lungs.
Then, he curled up his fist and lunged at the “Fertility Eating Rye” that was before him.
It felt like his heart would crumble if he didn’t.
He knew that he would be poisoned, but he was desperate to shake off the nightmare that haunted him thus.
The “Fertility Eating Rye” cackled as if to show that it had been waiting for this moment.
It opened its mouths wide and stretched out its tongues.
“—‘Do not move’!”
For a split second, the “Fertility Eating Rye” froze.
The “Fertility Eating Rye” was then hit and blown away.
“Shibata! You’ve gone too far ahead! Return immediately!”
“You good? Your face is blue, Shibacchi.”
It was Nishino and Rikka that came to his rescue.
“Rikka, how’s your weapon?”
“No good. It has melted from that one strike.”
Rikka tossed away the club that she was wielding.
She must have swung at the “Fertility Eating Rye” at full-power.
As per usual, her physical abilities were monstrous.
“Stand back up, Shibata.”
“…I know what you want to say. Did you forget what I told you? If you’re feeling guilty about them, do your best to live longer, even if it’s only for another day.”
“I won’t reprimand you for dragging other people to their deaths. I’ve done something similar before, and I regret it immensely. I’ve often wondered if I could go back in time to fix things, but the reality is, things don’t work like that. This is reality, not a game. Once someone dies…it’s the end. It’s impossible to bring them back to life.”
“I’m not telling you to forget about their deaths, but you must overcome this. You get what I mean right, Shibata?”
“You too, Goshogawara-san. You have my utmost sympathy for what happened to your wife and daughter, but…”
“I know that already…”
Goshogawara scooped up some soil while looking downcast.
He stood back up, wiped his tears off with his sleeves, and breathed in deeply.
“Sorry about that. I’ve shown you something unsightly.”
“You don’t have to mind it.”
“I’m fine now.”
He was putting up a front.
However, Nishino was sensible enough to not point this out.
Instead, he lined up besides them and looked ahead.
“Let’s survive this together.”
He won’t let anyone die.
As if he’d let anyone die.
Be it Rikka, Shibata, or Goshogawara, he would make sure that they all survived.
He had sworn so that night—that night when he revealed his inner weakness.
<<—Skill resonance—Zaza—activated—Zazaza—for all members—Zazazazaza—>>
What was that?
For a moment, it felt like he heard some sort of a noise in his head.
However, it wasn’t the time to be fretting over the minor details.
Taking in a deep breath, Nishino raised his voice.
“Put your heart into it, everyone! We just have a little more to go until the ‘Safety Zone’ is rested! We’re going to survive this together!”
They got back up again.
—Thirty-five minutes remained before the “Safety Zone” could be reset.
—In the meantime…
Waves upon waves of tongues and tentacles are closing in.
I quickly create a wall all around us using the things in the Item Box.
It only saves us a bit of time, but that small window of opportunity is enough for us to be enveloped by the “Shadow” beneath us.
“Momo, you’re a lifesaver!”
When things become visible again, I notice that we’re very close to the Shopping Mall.
Momo has protected us using “Shadow Migration”, but we’re still within Peony’s territory.
We’ll be found soon enough, so I must think of our next move as quickly as possible.
I glance at Sora who’s now lying down behind me.
Her breath is rough, and she seems to be in pain.
This is bad.
She won’t be able to shoot any more breaths like this.
How are we supposed to put an end to Peony if we can’t—
Suddenly, Momo begins barking by my feet.
She looks somewhat angry.
She first stares at me and then at Sora. Then, she barks again.
It’s almost as if she’s telling me to “Get your things together!”
That’s when it dawns on me. I’ve been too naïve and optimistic.
“Yes…you’re right, Momo.”
So what if Sora can’t unleash her breath?
Why am I asking such a dumb question?
Am I so spoiled that I can’t do anything without relying on a Dragon?
Change your way of thinking, Kudou Kazuto.
Sora was kind enough to set the stage for us.
Now, it’s our turn to end it all and pay her back for her effort.
‘—!? Human! What are you doing!?’
“Please rest inside the ‘Shadow’ for a while. We’ll do something about this by ourselves.”
Sora sinks into the “Shadow”.
That’s right. Despite the state of her body, she has put in her all for this operation.
Her intention might have been different from ours, but the time we spent together during the past three days has been real.
It has only been three days, much like the time we had when we were up against Titan.
Our relationship is as fragile as a thin layer of ice, and it will only last until we defeat Peony.
“Even so, the mother should be healthy as she meets her newborn child…”
What a pain.
It seems like I’ve become more emotionally attached to Sora than I initially thought.
It’s to the extent where I want her to survive past this predicament along with Momo, Kiki, Aka, and Ichinose-san.
Momo stands next to me.
Kiki plops down on my shoulder.
Aka who’s currently disguised as my clothes wiggles.
“Sorry guys, but I’ll have you play along with me.”
“Wan!” “Kyu!” “…Furu furu!”
They all reply at the same time. They seem to have the same sentiment as I do.
‘FOUND THEM! THERE!’
‘LET ME EAT!’ ‘LET ME EAT!’
I can hear the voices of the giant Marimos.
So we’ve been discovered.
It’ll be fine.
Even without Sora, I have Momo and the others.
Besides, there’s a skill that I haven’t used yet.
As the risk is very high, I haven’t used it until now, but this is the only way to approach Peony now that Sora’s high-velocity flight is out of the picture.
I activate the skill.
A skill that I acquired along with “Shadow Cage” when I became a “Jet Black Performer”.
The “Shadow” beneath my feet rises up and begins to slowly erode my body.
The skill known as “Shadow Imitation” allows me to “imitate the appearance of a monster that I have defeated”.
The catch is that I can only imitate monsters with similar body structures.
Only one monster that I know of can help us get past this situation.
The “Shadow” wraps around me, transforming me into what appears to be a beast.
A monster that has given me trauma.
One of the first and the deadliest monsters that I ever encountered.
A monster with extraordinary strength and the ability to “Roar”.
“Shadow Imitation—Type: Rufen.”
The transformation is complete.
There now stands a High Orc covered in jet-black “Shadows”.
A roar reminiscent of the High Orc of old.
The air around us trembles, and the earth around us cracks.
Strength is surging throughout my entire body.
“Here we go.”
I bend my knees and pour my strength into my legs.
Crushing the ground beneath me, I leap forward.