Chapter 9 : Complete Change
Hajime felt his consciousness return gradually as the drips of water hit his cheeks and entered his mouth. Wondering what was the cause, he slowly opened his eyes.
(…I’m alive?…I’m saved?…)
Attempting to get up, he was stopped when his forehead hit the low ceiling of the hole.
He totally forgot about the hole he constructed that was only 50 cm high. Hajime extended his hand to the ceiling to transmute a higher ceiling. Only one arm came into view. He remembered he lost his left arm, and felt phantom limb pains. At that he kept his left arm down, or what remained of it. There was swelling around the wound but it had closed.
“H-How?…There is so much blood…”
He couldn’t see in the darkness, but if he had some light he would be able to see the pool of blood. The amount of blood he lost would have normally killed someone. To survey the surrounding he felt around with his hand and felt something slimy. His blood was still there and it had yet to dry. After All, it seemed he had bled, and it seemed not much time had passed since he fainted.
While he was wondering about his wound, another drop of water hit his cheeks. The moment it entered his mouth, he felt his body reenergize.
“…No way…was it this?”
Using his hand he performed a transmutation on the area where the droplet came from, while he ignored his phantom limb pains. Progressing further and further in as he transmuted a little lightheaded. Mysteriously when he drank the liquid his mana returned and no matter how much transmuting he performed his mana did not run out. Hajime repeatedly transfigured to find the water source.
Eventually the amount of mysterious liquid increased and more trickling could be heard. Hajime finally reached the source.
An ore the size of a basketball emitting a light existed there. This ore was buried and assimilated with the surrounding rocks, and it dripped the liquid. A beautiful and mysterious stone. The ore was emitting darker blue than aquamarine, at least that was the best representation he could think of. His phantom limb pain was left forgotten.
Fascinated with the stone, Hajime reached out to touch it with his mouth. The dull pain and haze that his body and mind felt was cleared, and the fatigue disappeared. Seems like the liquid from this stone had saved him. The liquid seemed to hold restorative powers. Phantom limb pains still occurred, but the other injuries or negative effects were healed.
Hajime didn’t know, but this stone was the highest grade treasure called “God’s Crystal”. The crystal is a legendary relic thought to have been just a story. Formation of such a crystal is a miracle, because it was the crystallization of magical pools that collect by chance and needed 1000 years to form. Looking over it, the crystal was about 30-40 cm in diameter. After it has crystallized, it takes several hundred more years to saturate it to cause overflowing. That overflowing liquid is called “Sacred Water”, and when drank it could cure any injury or disease. Though it doesn’t have the power to regenerate parts, and it is considered a fountain of youth if continuously taken. A story of Eht healing people with this sacred water in ancient time is often recited.
He noticed that he returned from the brink of death. Hajime who was leaning on the wall sagged down. Bring up both knees, he placed his head between them while shivering from his close brush with death. He had no energy to even try to escape, his heart was broken.
Hajime might confront hostility and malice. Any rescue would be appreciated, and he might be able to stand up again. However, that bear’s eyes scared him. He did not want to encounter the eyes of a predator that wanted to devour him. Eyes that he had no experience with because he was used to being the top law of the jungle. Those eyes were responsible for why his arm was eaten and this broke his heart.
In this abyss, his voice did not reach anyone…
* * *
What did he do?
Hajime was laying on his side curled up into a fetus position.
Four days have passed since his collapse. All this time he had not moved much and the sacred water had sustained him. The sacred water could keep a person alive except for extreme circumstances, and it did not ease any hunger pangs. He wasn’t going to die, but he was suffering from phantom limb pains and starving sensation.
(How did I end up like this?)
A question he asked himself over and over again. His mind had recovered from drinking the sacred water, even if he suffered from pain and hunger. Unfortunately, because he had a clear mind, all the suffering was clearly felt.
One day Hajime stopped drinking the sacred water.
(If this anguish continues for so long…I rather…)
After he muttered that, he fell unconscious.
Three days passed. The hunger that calmed had returned. His phantom limb pains did not subside.
(Still…I’m not dead…I don’t want to die…)
Although he wished for death, a part of him still wanted to live. Conflicting thoughts alternated within his mind. He could no longer form any normal thoughts. His murmurs became incoherent and delirious.
Three more days elapsed. The sacred water was losing its efficiency, at this rate two more days and he would most likely be dead. He had not taken in fluids, let alone food.
Abnormalities started to appear in Hajime’s mind recently.
(Why do I have to suffer…What did I do…)
(Why did this happen…What’s the cause…)
(God unreasonably abducted me…)
(A classmate betrayed me…)
(The rabbit looked down on me…)
(That guy ate me…)
Gradually his thoughts became darker. Who was wrong? Who forced their unreasonableness onto him? Who harmed him? Pain gradually turned into rage, rage led to hatred, he seeked an enemy. Everything had worked into corrupt his spirit. The severe pain and starvation that wrecked his body, and the events that led him here into this endless darkness.
(Nobody has come to rescue me…)
(If nobody is going to help me, what should I do?)
(How do I rid myself of this pain?)
Day 9. Hajime thoughts had made a breakthrough about his current situation. With a heart that wanted release from its torment, he needed to first expel the unnecessary hatred and anger. Because the suffering did not end when his heart turned black…
(What…am I wishing for?)
(I wish for “life”.)
(What type of people impedes me?)
(Then what should I do?)
Day ten. His heart was now free of hatred and anger. The outrageous God, back-stabbing classmate, hostile demons, the smiling person desiring to protect him, all of them mattered naught. To live, to earn the privilege to survive, everything else was trivialities. Hajime had arrived at an answer for his question.
( KILL )
Not for malice, animosity, or hate. In order to live, he will kill with pure intent.
All those who threaten his survival are enemies, and to my enemies…
(KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL.)
To escape this feeling of starvation,
( Kill and Devour! )
At this moment, the mild and gentle, apologizing with a bitter smile at any sign of conflict, the Hajime that Kaori thought was strong, utterly fell from grace.
A new Nagumo Hajime came into existence. A Nagumo Hajime that would ruthlessly eliminate any who stood in his way of survival. His broken heart broke again. This new heart however was not a weak heart that was roughly patched up. No, his new tough heart was re-forged by the fires of agony, despair and darkness.
Hajime starts to move his completely weakened body. For the past few days he had slurped on the accumulated sacred water like a dog given a drinking bowl. The hunger or phantom limb pain did not disappear, but it revitalized his body.
His eyes shined glaringly, his watery mouth needed to be wiped and his face broke out into a fearless grin. The canines in his warped mouth gained a glint. Certainly his expression had a sudden change just like his thoughts. Hajime arose to proclaim a transmutation and he muttered again…
* * *
In the labyrinth there was a pack of two-tailed wolves. A pack of wolves usually consisted of 4-6 members. Because they were the weakest demon on this level, they compensated by cooperating in a group. The group Hajime saw was no exception, they totaled four in number.
Cautiously, he observed his surroundings from his hiding spot near the wall and waited for the best hunting ground. The most fundamental hunting method was setting up an ambush. He let the wolves wander for a while until the perfect ambush site was discovered, this site had rocks covering the four corners. Now he waited for the prey to come. The moment one of them showed up, it was going to get butchered by being sandwiched by a rock and the wall. Hajime was practically salivating at the thought of his prey, until he felt something was off.
Since their most important survival tool is their cooperation, they had an almost telepathic link with each other. Packmates would not be able to directly communicate with each other, but they would somehow know where each were and what they were doing. However, something was something wrong. They were gathered into a group of four but somehow the leader could only sense three left among them. One of the wolves’ signature that was at the opposite side of the wall disappeared.
It harbored doubts, when he put in the effort to raise from his prone position, it heard one of its packmate scream. Restlessness was conveyed from one wolf that was near the companion that disappeared. The comrade was caught and stuck between something and could not slip out. Two wolves on the opposite side rushed up to rescue him. However, the sign of that struggling animal disappeared.
Confused, it quickly went to the wall and checked the area, but nothing was there. The remaining two puzzled wolves used their noses to sniff around the area the two other wolves disappeared from to get a hint.
At that moment, the ground depressed, and the walls protruded out to cover them. When they were about to jump aside, the depressed floor suddenly reverted back to its original state. This would make escaping the trap an easy task for the wolves. If it had not been confused with encountering such a new experience, they would not have been caught so easily. The assailant had already planned for their confusion and that single moment of hesitation. That was a good enough opportunity to catch them.
The two wolves screamed as the walls swallowed them…then nothing was left.
Hajime was the one to catch all four of those wolves. Fighting back with determination, he was able to oppress his hunger and phantom limb pains. The sacred water had sustained him so far, it was a good thing he trained earnestly repeatedly his transmuting and mana capacity.
His transmuting was more quick, more accurate and more extensive now. If he went out right now, he might die. He had accumulated training when he was in the room with the God’s Crystal. Hajime wanted to polish his weapon even if slightly, and of course his weapon is transmutation.
Even if it was possible for him to endure the pains, they still assaulted him. These pains were probably what made Hajime concentrate to such an extreme manner.This allowed him to perform several times faster than normal, and his transmuting range was three meters now. Of course he did not have an earth attribute magic that could be used offensively.
He had a small container filled with sacred water and started to look for his enemies. Using his transmuting he was able to find the four wolves. Hajime decided to tail them. Many times he was almost found out, but he was able to lose their trail by hiding in spots he constructed with his transmuting. That was when he sprang his trap and using his transmuting he dragged them into the wall.
“Now what? My transmutation has no direct killing power. Both the speed and power of my transmuting did not seem to be enough to kill the demons.”
Hajime looked through a tiny peep hole with his glistening eyes. The motionless pack growled while they were in the wall.
Looked like he was right, the wolves had not died. Previously, he had attacked them with the splintering stone but it seemed that there was not enough power and speed to harm them. This was probably because of the earth here. His magic was only used to process minerals, so using such a power to kill seemed to be out of reach. Thus, restraining them was the best he could do.
“I wonder if I should suffocate them…but I can’t wait for that.”
Hajime’s eyes started to grin as it gained a predatorial glint. He press his right arm against the wall and casted his magic. A piece of stone was cut off and slowly he transfigured it while he concentrated on an image. When it was done the stone had been turned into a thin spiral spear. Furthermore, it had other parts added on to it, like a handle.
“Now then, to dig!”
The spear was stabbed towards the ground where the wolves resided. Hard fur and skin made contact with the tip of the spear.
“After all I can’t stab you. That confirms my hypothesis.”
Why didn’t he use a sword or knife? Because it is widely known that the stronger the demon the harder it becomes. There were a few exceptions to it. Hajime had studied a lot to overcome his uselessness and from what he had gathered a normal sword or knife would be useless against these guys.
Thus, Hajime started to rotate the handle on the spear. The spear spiraled to match Hajime’s actions. He was using this spear as a drill to pierce through the demon’s hard skin.
Applying his weight to turn it, and eventually it started to slowly dig into the beast’s skin.
The wolf screamed.
“Does it hurt? I won’t apologize. I’m doing this to live. Don’t you guys eat me too? We both feel the same.”
While talking, he had constantly been rotating the drill. The wolf tried to struggle desperately, but it was impossible because it had not a single gap to work against.
Finally, the drill had broken through its tough skin layer. The drill mercilessly destroyed the wolf’s innards. A death cry escaped from its mouth. It screamed for a bit but soon it twitched for a bit and finally stopped moving.
“Alright, let’s secure the food first.”
Laughing gleefully, he butchered the other three in the same manner. When he was done, the carcasses was recovered using transmutation. The fur on them was removed with some trouble, he only had one hand.
His hunger stimulated his desire to consume.