The Strongest In The World Doesn't Have Any Abilities? Book 1 Chapter 66
While taking orders from customers all by his own, Saku noticed that his vision is shaking feebly. He thought that it must be because of the weather, but he realized even the customers at that time is having the same feeling.
"What's that, an earthquake?" Saku asked the customer he's currently attending to, trying not to spill the water from the pitcher that he's holding.
The customer replied, "Who knows. Maybe the volcano at the east started acting up again after laying dormant for who knows how long?"
Saku quickly dismissed that possibility in his mind. It was ascertained that the said volcano is extinct, and isn't expected to erupt anytime.
The shaking stopped after that. It was just a small one, leaving no damage to Sandy Fish or any other establishments in the area. The residents also didn't panicked either, but some children started crying out of fear.
"Holy smokes, look over there!" One of the customers pointed his finger at the direction of the town central.
Everyone at the inn rushed outside, and they saw a huge pillar of smoke coming from somewhere.
"What is happening over there?"
"Maybe it's because of the earthquake...or worse, it's the reverse."
"That place...could it be..."
"Ah, the [Bottom Row]!"
When he heard the words [Bottom Row], Saku stopped on his feet and placed his hand on his chest to check his heartbeat.
Fast, and gradually becoming irregular.
'Saki...", he whispered worriedly to himself.
Just after she was pushed away by Aoi, Saki's world turned white by the explosion that fully destroyed not only the tavern, but the nearby buildings as well. Even at her current distance from the site she could still feel the wave of heat that's going after her.
'Am I...going to die? Am I going to leave everyone behind?'
Time seem to flow slower in the midst of Death, she thought. Somehow, it gave her an opportunity to reflect on her actions.
Saku, who had no idea what's going on, must be feeling angry at her for not listening to his warnings. She still went on with her plan, not minding that everything might turn astray from her expectations.
She didn't expect that her plan of convincing their customers to come back to Sandy Fish would turn into an ordeal involving people's lives. And the girl she brought along, was unexpectedly capable of doing inhumane things while being inhuman herself.
And now, this inhuman girl she considered her friend for some time already had paid the price of her folly.
'Big Bro...Brother Ren...Aoi...I'm sorry. I've been such a bad girl this time...'
At a young age Saki already immersed herself to the real world, sacrificing a huge part of her youth for their own future with her brother.
She had so much dreams she want to fulfill, but if Fate decides to cut short her journey, then--
She felt a strange warmth covering her body. 'Is it the heat of the explosion, or is it something else?', she started to wonder. The burns she's receiving might be so severe that it affected her nerves but why is it that she thought of that heat as something that is comforting?
"You're right. A bad girl like you should feel sorry for the wrong things you've done," a voice resounded in her mind.
At that point she realized...
"Yeah," the voice replied.
The blinding light she's seeing slowly faded away, and she saw Ren, and not her brother Saku. Seeing the worried look on his face, Saki's tears started to fall.
"B-Brother Ren, I--"
"No need to explain things to me," he spoke as he wiped her tears. "What's important is you're safe now."
Ren arrived just in time before Saki gets burned by the explosion. Catching her in midair, he covered her body with his own to protect her from the scorching heat and flying debris.
The warm feeling Saki's been feeling until that time, was his own body heat.
"However, as your brother's proxy I say that what you did was reckless, if not stupid. Not only you put yourself into danger, you also made Saku worry so much for you."
Saki only nodded in admittance to his words. 'Brother Ren was right,' she thought, and there's no way Saku would prefer profit over his sister's safety.
"Nn. I'm sorry, Brother Ren..."
Ren sighed as he patted her head. "You know what, I had always thought of Saki as a girl with a mindset of an a.d.u.l.t, someone who thinks first before doing something. I guess, it's wrong to assume that would be the case all the time."
'You're right. I'm still not mature enough...'
"But that's fine! I know, you're doing this for the sake of your business but you shouldn't rely on yourself all the time for that. If you don't want to bother Saku, try bothering me instead! After all, Saki's like a sister to me."
Although he already had his hands full with taking care of Aoi, Saki's been no stranger to him ever since the Rainens accepted them into their place. In order to repay her kindness he's willing to help her in any way he can, whether in business or saving her from certain death.
"Thank you Brother Ren, but..."
With her palms facing away from her, Saki spoke. "Brother Ren, how long are you planning to stay lying on top of me?"
"A-Ah, yeah! I'll go ahead now, sorry!" Ren hurriedly stood up and took distance from her.
'Damn, what the hell am I doing all this time?!' He slapped his own cheek.
"Nn. Please save Aoi, Brother Ren."
"I will,' he said before running towards the site of the explosion.
Seeing his figure moving away from her, Saki felt her heart thump faster.
Abeiroz vomited blood as he took a step back, staggering from the recoil of the attack that he made.
While his strength far outmatches that of ordinary humans he is still a low-level god, and being one means that his divine power is limited. Facing another god like Aoi in a battle had compelled him to use more than three-fourths of his reserves in a single attack, which he immediately regretted.
'That brat...is she gone for good?'
The whole place turned into a giant crater. Judging from the damage caused to property, a low-level god like her would be surely--
"...Not yet," the girl replied as she stood up at the center of the crater, relatively unscathed.
Abeiroz dropped his jaw in shock.
"Is this a joke? How can you withstand an attack of the magnitude if our power capacity is more or less equal?!"
Aoi tilted her head at his words. "...Equal? What are you saying, I don't think our power is equal to begin with."
"W-What?!" He voiced out his shock
Totally unacceptable! Someone like him, being defeated by a little girl? How could he be able to show his face to the other gods if that news started spreading around?
His reaction made Aoi extremely irritated. Even at her current state she's still leagues ahead of him, and adding to it her most recent killing escapade which granted her additional divine power, their difference in power just grew by a head, literally.
Looking down the ground, Aoi spoke. "...I see that your women are quite safe even after that explosion, huh? How lucky."
"What do you mean by that?" he asked.
Having hit a delicate note unexpectedly, she let out a smirk. "...What do I mean by that? I'm just amazed that, even with your attitude, you managed to have your important people secured in your hands..."
'Though, it might be a shame if something were to happen to them?' Aoi's eyes implicitly said those words to him. As much as possible she wanted uninvolved people to remain uninvolved, but she won't forget the moment Abeiroz tried killing Saki.
Abeiroz' face warped in rage. "I won't let you lay your hands on them."
Over the years that he 'ruled' at that place, he had amassed quite a gathering of women, providing him nightly sustenance to his seemingly endless carnal thirst. In exchange he provides everything they wanted, and he gives financial support to each of their families as well. Under his protection the women lived their usual lives, until some girl with an apron planned to disrupt all of that.
"...My, I don't need to touch them in order to do things to those women," Aoi smiled at him.
"Y...You don't say--"
In a hurry, Abeiroz slammed his fists to the ground and created a large hole, revealing a hidden room underneath. Then, he bellowed out a loud, mournful roar when he saw his women inside, ten of them, already lifeless.
His tavern, gone. His power and dignity, reduced. And now his women too. Without anything left to use as a leverage, he's no different from a human now.
"I don't know who you are or what kind of a god are you, but you already surpassed the limits of being reasonable. I shall use everything I have to destroy you, even if it means my death!!!"
Fooooommmmm!!!! Using all of his remaining divine power, the aura covering his body glowed brightly and became hotter and hotter, melting even the rocks under his feet. While burning in rage like the sun, he spoke:
"I'll destroy you, and everything in this town!!!"
Then, with unprecedented speeds he zoomed his way towards Aoi, leaving a bright streak of orange light behind him like a blazing meteor.
Aoi preemptively created a black magic circle that floated on her hand. With her divine power being replenished a few times already, she could be able to withstand her opponent's all-out attack one more time--
'No doubt, it's--'
"...Big brother?!" Aoi yelled in shock at Ren, who suddenly came out from nowhere.
He could not believe what he's hearing. That little brat has a brother?!
"Wow, I never expected someone like you to be here. Good thing I arrived in...oops."
'Oops,' he gasped as his whole body went stiff. Pulling himself away from the man before him, he started sweating bullets while looking at his arm that is covered in red.
"Ah, I accidentally stabbed him with my hand!"
Even if the man before him was an enemy, it wasn't his intention to drive his fist straight to his chest and gouge him. His hand slipped while trying to parry his attack, and as a result it went straight through Abeiroz's chest, stopping only when his arm's already elbow deep through the other person's body.
He had no idea how he did it, but he consoled himself thinking that it's better than letting the man blow himself and the whole town up.
"Gah...haa..." His body collapsed to the ground, strength leaking out of his body.
Abeiroz's face warped in great shock. A human?! This is impossible!
Aoi rushed to check his condition. "...Ah, he's about to die."
"Had I arrived one second late, the one who'll be dead would be you."
"...You don't need to worry about that, big brother!" Aoi smiled at him. "This one is weaker than that guy with many hands, I can handle him even with my eyes closed."
Though he had no way to tell if what she said was true, he still believed her words.
"...By the way, what's that in your hand, big brother? You've been holding it for a while now."
"Hm? Ah, you're right. I've been holding this hea...--"
Ren's face quickly turned pale upon looking at the unknown object in his hand, still beating and spewing out small spurts of blood.
"H-H-Heart?! W-Why is that in my hand?!" He said as he tossed Abeiroz's heart to Aoi in panic.
"...W-W-Why are you giving me that, big brother?!" Aoi hurriedly tossed the heart back to her brother.
"Y-You're the Death Goddess, right? Here, I'll give you this heart--"
"...Don't wanna! Keep that yucky thing away from me, big brother!"
Ren then chased after Aoi, who screamed 'Noooooo!!!' as she ran. The two circled around Abeiroz's body until Ren noticed the black smoke coming out of the heart's ventricles.
"What's going on, Aoi?"
"...Uuuu...I don't know..."
Foom, and the heart then burst into bluish-black flames. Ren almost threw the heart when he saw the heart burning but realized that the flames didn't actually burn his palms.
"It's just like the sword I found at the desert," Ren said.
"...Nn," Aoi nodded.
After the heart burned into nothingness, they heard a faint voice coming from somewhere.
"...Eh? You're still alive?!" Aoi's eyes opened wide when she saw Abeiroz still alive despite having his heart got taken away from him.
Looking at them with rage in his eyes, he spoke. "Fools...fools...you only hastened your doom!"
"What made you say that?" Ren asked, feeling intrigued.
"Hahaha...you two really are fools," he started laughing. "The stars...the stars! You have guaranteed their descent!"
"Stars?" Ren frowned at his warning.
He continued laughing. "When the stars start falling from the sky, all darkness shall burn just like the heart you've extracted from me! All that is evil shall perish from this world! Wahahahaha! Waha--"
"Too noisy, just burn already."
Feeling annoyed with him, Ren created a tiny ball of black flame on his finger, and flicked it at him. His body quickly caught aflame, but his laughing didn't stop.
With Ren's dark flames licking the hole in his chest, Abeiroz can't help but to laugh at his approaching demise, and to the fact that he's defeated not by a goddess, but a human.
After his body got burned fully, Ren stared at the remains with a calm expression, yet feeling remorseful deep inside.
"You may not believe it Aoi, but honestly I feel sorry for the guy."
"...He deserved it. Hmph!" Aoi replied as crossed her arms and turned away.
"Unbelievable. Totally unbelievable..."
On the way back to the inn, Aoi whispered to Ren that aside from Abeiroz, there were 11 people that got killed prior and during their confrontation. She expected that her brother would become proud of her achievement, but instead--
"...NYAAAAAAAWWWW!!! It hurts, big brother!!!"
"I held myself back from scolding you at that time when you killed one person since it's an emergency but 11 people at the same time? That's already a massacre, Aoi!"
As a punishment he created a pretzel knot using her twintails and her hair would remain like that until she gave her a good reason for killing that amount of people.
'If she can endure having a placard placed on her head, a large blue pretzel would be no less different,' he thought.
"...But that's an emergency, big brother! There are people who made Saki cry, and...and..."
Aoi stopped walking. Then, she looked around frantically and said:
"...Where's Saki? I don't know what happened to her!"
'I'll go back there and find her!', she turned back but Ren stopped her from running right away. According to him, he already found her before Ren came to her side and he also assured her that she's probably back at the inn now.
"...If she's safe then I'm relieved," Aoi said as she let out a deep sigh.
"Yeah, but you two are still in deep trouble," he replied.
On the way, many people saw Aoi's strange hairstyle and couldn't help but to hide their laughter as the girl passes in front of them. She wanted to 'silence' them, but Ren's domineering stare made her think otherwise.
"Oh, we're already here...huh?"
There's a 'closed' sign hanging on the door when they returned to the Sandy Fish. For the first time Ren have never seen the place being closed before late afternoon, and it made him feel uneasy.
'No way. Did Saki...'
With the front door closed, they went for the back door leading to the kitchen. Ren swallowed his saliva for a moment, took a deep breath, then after preparing himself for the worst case scenario--twisted the doorknob.
As soon as Ren opened the door Saki came out flying towards him and hugged him tightly, while spilling out tears as she apologize to Aoi.
"HUWAAAAAAAA!!! SORRY AOI! SORRY FOR CAUSING TROUBLE TO YOUWAAAAAHHH!!!"
"...Saki...that's big brother you're hugging right now, not me," Aoi poked her shoulder.
Saku shook his head lightly. "When she came back she started crying so much that she scared the customers, so I had to close the place for the rest of the day. At her current state I can't bring myself to scold her, really."
Saku had put the blame into himself for failing to put his sister's decisions in check. If he had been a better business owner those customers would stay, and Saki won't put herself into danger to get them back, which, is a totally absurd idea from the start.
"Nn, there's no need for that," Ren commented as he gently patted her back.
Saki, who noticed that everyone's looking at her with smiles on their faces, spoke shyly. "Please don't look at me like that, all of you..."
"...Why not? It's not that your hair was tied into something like this, you know?" Aoi said as she pointed at her pretzel knot hair.
The appearance of the girl wearing an ugly apron and a peculiar hairstyle made Saki laugh, and forget the fear she felt after seeing Aoi's hidden power at Abeiroz's lair. 'Aoi will always be Aoi,' she thought, and their friendship would remain the same even after her discovery.
"Aoi, I love you," Saki spoke out her feelings to her.
Aoi felt a slight chill on her skin. "...Please...don't say that again."
"Hey, what about me? Don't you love your handsome brother?" Feeling jealous, Saku complained to her.
"Of course I do! You're my one and only Big Bro!" Saki replied to him, but didn't give a comment about him being 'handsome'.
Saku's jealousy turned into elation as he started dancing around like a bee in a field of flowers. Meanwhile Ren chuckled lightly, as he thought of his dance as somewhat wacky.
"And last but not the least..."
In a quick succession Saki jumped upwards and kissed Ren's cheek, and let out a short 'hehe' afterwards.
"Brother Ren, I love you!"
"...Saki, can we talk for a moment? I just want to ask something about what happened to you and big brother earlier..."
"Ren...what have you done to my sister?"
Aoi and Saku's eyes turned sharp at her sudden actions. Ren, on the other hand, felt he's in danger.
"Is that so? Then I'll ask something to Aoi first!"
Notwithstanding their dagger looks, Saki asked:
"Aoi, are you a goddess?"