Chapter 275, The Return of the Holy Warriors
Following their victory over Devil King Lucifer, Asley lost consciousness, and Pochi let him rest on her belly.
The latter proceeded to lick the former’s cheek once.
“Hmm… the taste of his blood is… different from last time.”
Giorno, sitting down in front of the two, chuckled upon seeing Pochi’s reaction.
Behind Giorno was Lylia, standing with her eyes closed and her hands over her ears.
Then, when she opened her eyes, she heaved a sigh of relief.
“It seems that the monster army scattered after Lucifer was killed.
Polco brought reinforcements, too, so there’s not much need to worry.”
“Master Polco came to help! That’s great news!”
Pochi happily wagged her tail.
Giorno smiled for a moment, then put up a serious expression yet again.
“Now then, Pochi.”
“Yes! Huh Wait… My name is Shiro!”
“No need to hide it anymore.
When you were… sleeping, I heard Lucifer talking about the anomalous existences… of you and Asley.
I only HEARD it, though, so I didn’t quite gather the whole picture.”
Pochi panicked… but only moved her head erratically, because she could not afford to move Asley’s body now.
“And here’s the important part — he said that Asley possesses Eternal Life.
No wonder my man knows and understands so much… especially considering that it’s him.”
“Eternal Time… So they took a Drop of Eternity, as the Shamanesses of T’oued had”
Giorno nodded in agreement with Lylia’s guess.
“That really doesn’t concern us, honestly, but there’s one thing I don’t understand.”
“Hiding his age is perfectly reasonable, but you’re wondering why he would use a false name… right”
“I didn’t hear anything!”
Pochi shut her ears, closed her eyes, and turned her face away.
After a brief moment of awkward silence, a weak voice came from over Pochi’s belly.
“It’s fine… Pochi.
I’ll talk to them…”
“Master! Are you sure you don’t need some rest first! You’re in no shape to be moving now!”
“If I use Holy Virgin’s Boundary and Giving Magic, I’ll be fine… I think.”
Not affected by Pochi’s attempt at stopping him, Asley started drawing Circles for Holy Virgin’s Boundary and Giving Magic, and invoked them onto himself.
“Sorry, I’m still weak — have to heal just myself first.”
“Pochi’s already healed us a bit, so we’ll be fine.
And you’re the biggest player in that fight just now, you know.
Don’t you think so, Lylia”
Take it easy, Asley.”
“Besides, your eyes aren’t working, right That’ll take a while longer to fix.”
“Yes, it will.”
Asley chuckled at Giorno’s on-point guess, and started telling his story while letting his body rest on Pochi.
The story included, as one would expect, how he and Pochi had traveled through time.
They had been sent here to obtain the Limit Breakthrough magecraft, to live through this era, to be named Poer by Pochi — all in line with the legends of Holy Warriors as told in their era.
Asley summarized everything to the two other Holy Warriors, while taking care not to say things that would influence anyone’s historic existence.
“And there he goes, telling them absolutely everything…”
“Oh, I’m sure Gramps will understand.”
Giorno and Lylia stayed silent.
Regardless of whether or not he understood their feelings, Asley proceeded to say one more thing.
“And, well… so you see… we’ll have to part ways soon, probably.”
Asley chuckled to hide his embarrassment.
The two Holy Warriors got up and stood before Asley, aligning themselves with each other.
Asley could not see what was happening, but Pochi could, and she expressed surprise in her Master’s stead.
Before Asley, Hero Giorno and Warrior Lylia knelt down and lowered their heads.
Asley, sensing a shift in Pochi’s emotions, read the arcane energy fluctuations in the air to tell what was going on.
“Wha… what are you doing”
“Paying respects… to the people resolved to continue the battle in a world without us… I suppose.”
“Not many would be willing to fight the Devil King again.
For your strength, resolve, skill, and experience, you are worthy of respect, Asley.”
“And, well, now that I know your circumstances… I feel the need to apologize for occasionally being a jerkass towards you.
Please forgive me.”
“I’m sorry, too…”
They apologized for their past rudeness, out of respect for their friend.
“W-what are you two saying! Master isn’t that–“
“”–Great Mage Asley and Familiar Pochi, may you be blessed in all that you do…””
Their words completely drowned out Pochi’s.
Pochi opened her eyes wide, certainly surprised, while Asley cracked an awkward grin and scratched his cheek.
Asley then sat up from the speechless Pochi’s belly, then he stood up.
Pochi looked on as Asley stumbled over to the two kneeling Holy Warriors, then she disengaged her gigantification and jogged to his side.
Asley proceeded to sit down on his knees and place his hands on the pair’s shoulders.
Giorno and Lylia slowly turned to Asley.
“I’m so glad… I got to meet the two of you.”
Asley smiled, expressing his sincere happiness and not hiding his awkwardness.
“You did help us out with a lot of stuff, after all! I enjoyed our time together, really!”
Pochi also smiled, wagging her tail.
Giorno and Lylia took Asley’s hands, supporting him as all three of them stood up.
Then they placed their right hands over one another.
“Ah, me too!”
Pochi hurried to place her right front paw on their hands.
Giorno then proceeded to look up at the sky and say,
“The four of us… will preserve our companionship for eternity.
We will never fall apart, not even after tens of millions of years!”
“May we be forever proud of our bonds, and no matter what tribulations lie ahead, may we have the strength to persevere!”
And then, Asley,
“I say this not as a Holy Warrior, but a friend: I will never forget our friendship, and this moment we spend together!”
“Y-yes, what he said!”
Tears dripped from Asley and Pochi’s eyes — tears not of sadness alone.
Everything leading to now… had been a grand adventure of Asley and Pochi — two unreliable souls.
As Asley tried to hold back tears, Giorno asked him, as carefree as ever,
“So, do you need any help from me”
“Give…… our regards and thanks… to everyone else…”
“You’re fine with me just telling them –Huh! What the… Asley”
Giorno pointed at Asley.
“Huh! Why are we turning translucent! What’s going on! Master!”
Asley cast his eyes down and clenched his fists.
“……It’s time to go, then”
Giorno threw out his guess, and upon hearing so, Pochi hurried to pick up Asley’s Drynium Rod.
Asley accepted the weapon from his Familiar, then whispered,
“Hmm… Looks like it is…”
He sounded sad.
Then Lylia shouted, sounding somewhat embarrassed,
Asley and Pochi turned to her, startled.
“L-listen… I’d like something, anything… to serve as a connection between us.”
“……Feeling sentimental, eh Are you still the same Lylia I’ve always known~~”
Giorno poked fun at Lylia… which got a jab from her first on his cheek.
“An Elf cherishes the bonds forged among comrades… And this is a parting with one!”
Seeing the familiar dynamic between the two, Asley chuckled.
“All right, I understand.”
Then he started drawing a Circle with his fingers.
From the dark abyss of the mystical space, Asley took out something quite unexpected: a sheet of parchment.
He proceeded to induce it with his arcane force and write something down.
“Here, hold on to this.”
Lylia accepted it, confused.
“You’ll understand when the time is right.”
Asley smiled and savored the last moments with his friends.
He placed his left hand on Pochi’s head, and smiled to her as well.
Pochi smiled back.
Then they were wrapped in a flash of light, and disappeared.
The remaining two could not tell where they had gone, but they both looked up at the sky.
“Those two have been quite amusing people…”
“Hmm, and you really are not acting like yourself… Is it looove I’m smelling in the air~~”
“Of course not!”
“…BUT I must say… he’s the most decent man I’ve ever met, at least.”
Giorno was taken back by Lylia’s statement.
Then laughter echoed through the sky over the battlefield… and what followed was Lylia’s screams of rage.
“This can’t be right…”
Asley found himself standing alone.
His body was still fading away.
In his right hand, the Drynium Rod.
His left hand was placed on Pochi’s head… or would be if she was there.
“Pochi’s… gone And this place… Ah–!”
The vicinity had a nostalgic tint in his eyes, perhaps in part thanks to the still-active Holy Virgin’s Boundary.
Indeed, this place was…
“…The Fulbright estate…”
And directly in front of him was June’s room, in which he had the honor of drinking mead with her.
Whether it was deliberate or a mere coincidence, the door to it slowly opened.
June, eyes cast down, eventually noticed the shadow of someone aside from her.
Seeing Asley so tattered, she put her hands over her mouth, at a loss for words.
Tears started welling up in her eyes, and her expression gradually shifted.
Before Asley could get a word out, he felt small arms over his chest.
Looking down, he could see June’s trembling shoulders.
The brief moment’s embrace felt like forever… an embrace of farewell.
June knew that well.
“Apologies… Sir Poer…”
June did her best to force the words out of her shaky voice.
“…Well, please call me Asley.”
Asley did not tell the whole story, and June did not ask.
They only spent the moment in silence.
That was all the talking they needed on this matter.
Eventually, June spoke,
“The Devil King… has been defeated, I assume”
“Hahaha… Yes, we managed somehow…”
June forced herself to stop trembling, and quietly looked at Asley.
She looked to be in pain… for only a brief moment.
The moment of silence did not last long.
“Could you give me some encouragement… to go forward”
As strange as she sounded, June indeed needed the courage for what was to come — the political marriage.
June did not state so outright, and Asley did not ask.
Asley did understand that, however.
He placed his hands on June’s shoulders, then wrapped them around her back.
In the firm yet gentle embrace, a color of relief washed over June’s face.
She rested her cheek on Asley’s chest.
If only for a moment, her smile was certainly one of happiness.
She said her final words to Asley as the latter faded away.
They looked at each other.
Asley smiled, and kept it up to the last moment.
What remained was… the faint smell of a certain beast.
“Hehehe… it’s already nostalgic.
I like it.”
She looked up and tried to hold back her tears, but they flowed endlessly, dripping down to her cheeks.
June said again.
Then she wiped her tears and walked away, her rear silhouette the very image of a proud knight.