Chihiro said, raising the whip.
The first swing, accompanied by the sound of the wind, is almost empty. It only lightly grazed Maria's body around her right shoulder.
But even so, Maria shuddered as the whip swung.
...It seemed that it didn't matter whether the blow hurt or not.
But the sound of the whip is enough to scare the person being whipped.
Although the usual Maria would have welcomed this with pleasure.
「As expected, I can't use it well unless I get used to it」
It would be fine if it didn't have enough effect, but there was a danger of overdoing it.
But, of course, Chihiro had no intention of stopping.
Crack! Crack! Crack!
He swung the whip lightly several times to check the sensation. And a few of those times it hit Maria's body, but the small bruises healed quickly. This is the effect of Maria's [Self-healing].
...The other ability, [Retaliation], is not triggered.
Maria has turned it off.
Even though she doesn't like the whipping, she doesn't reject Chihiro.
Knowing this, he was a little relieved.
Again, he swung his arm, harder this time.
There was a dry sound and a red swelling appeared on Maria's left arm. However, the wound would heal soon if she waited.
「Well. Let's keep moving」
No need for words any more.
Chihiro just kept on swinging the whip. Each blow made a sound, a scratch on Maria's white skin.
Before the first wound could heal, the second followed.
The third also comes sooner than the second one heals.
He continues to torture her with a steady, unhurried pace. All the while, Maria clenched her teeth and endured the pain.
When she exhaled in between the whips and hugged her body, the whips continued to hit her without mercy.
The more she covered her body, the more red bruises appeared on her arms, and the more she moved her arms away, the more the whip hit her breasts, near her collarbone, and on her lower abdomen.
After dozens of sounds echoed in the room, Maria turned her back to Chihiro.
She curled her untanned body and tried to endure the whip that was coming at her.
It was to be expected considering how hard she had been beaten.
However, Chihiro's hands were filled with strength as she resisted.
...If she's so stubborn, he'll beat her again.
It wasn't anger, but a kind of determination that drove his body.
And so, he swung the whip again and again.
It takes a little more than ten seconds to give a single blow, including breathing time.
He calculated that he could hit the whip about five times in a minute, but before he realized it, more than twenty minutes had passed.
Even Riko and the others who were watching them were getting tired.
Chihiro's arm was also in a bad condition.
The act of wielding the whip was that of a superior, and while it might seem like it was easy, in reality it was a repetitive process of raising and lowering the arm.
Taking into account the force he puts in and the process of twisting the whip, it puts a considerable strain on his arms.
...It is heavy with fatigue, and constantly throbbing with pain.
The fact that he was able to continue even though it would normally be difficult for him to move was due to the effect of [Pain Reduction].
Of course, no matter how much it reduces the pain, it can't overcome the physical limit.
With clenched teeth and enduring the pain, Chihiro tried to lift his arm.
But he couldn't even move his right arm anymore. He could barely hold the whip.
「...Chihiro-kun, you can't do this anymore」
Aika said in a faint voice.
The girl's back isn't even covered in red.
He keep hitting her and hitting her but she keep getting healed. The scars he had made are disappearing as he speak.
It's as if everything Chihiro is doing is in vain.
...if he give up now.
It's all over.
Chihiro and Maria's contract, the bond they'd formed after the incident with Hana...
But he doesn't want it to end.
However, look at Maria. She doesn't even wince when the whip stops. She says nothing.
She just bites her lip.
「Aika, can you heal my arm?」
Feeling as if he were going to vomit blood, Chihiro looked back at Aika.
Then the girl, Chihiro's lover and Maria's friend, bit her lip and shook her head.
Whether she cared about Chihiro or Maria, her decision was justified.
But he tried to persuade her again, saying that he couldn't give in now.
「If you still want to continue, I'll take over」
At Aika's words, Chihiro's mouth dropped open.
The handle of the whip nearly fell out of his right hand due to his weakness, and Aika, who came running to him, caught it with both hands.
As soon as he saw this, his body instantly lost its strength.
Riko rushed to help him up and carried him to the bed.
Hana looked uncomfortable for a moment when she was close to him, but she read the situation and didn't complain.
In the meantime, Aika was checking the feel of the whip and repeated Chihiro's movements several times. It may have been a mimicry, but it was quite impressive.
「Don't stop, Chihiro-kun」
As Aika said this, there was a hint of determination in her eyes.
「I'm also responsible for making Chihiro-kun go this far... and I don't think I'm going to let things go on like this with Maria-chan either. Besides」
She looked at Maria, who was still, motionless, her body curled.
「I'm jealous of Maria-chan that Chihiro-kun cares for her so much. I want to suffer with you」
After said so, she made a sharp mark on Maria's back.
Her determination was strong.
Unlike Chihiro, who was conscious of not being too strong or too weak because of his knowledge, Aika's every shot seemed to contain her deepest feelings.
「It's not fair, isn't it, Maria-chan?」
Aika sneered as the whip sounded in succession.
...It's obvious she's trying to be a jerk.
「Don't you regret it? Getting whipped by me instead of Chihiro-kun. Beaten to a pulp. You're just going to curl up and sit there」
However, a girl's physical strength can only go so far.
The interval of the whip is getting longer and longer, but still the strength of the whip remains the same.
However, Maria didn't say anything.
「Now Maria-chan, you're really uncool」
When the whip struck Maria's back harder than ever, Chihiro realized.
The scars hadn't healed.
One by one, the sharp scars were definitely piling up.
Maria's mental power had run out and she couldn't activate [Self-healing] anymore.
He called out, and Aika seemed to have noticed that much.
She lowered her right hand and whip and looked at Maria. Of course, so did Chihiro, Riko, and Hana.
They were all staring at her.
「...Why? Why is it so painful? It hurts, it feels uncomfortable, it's so lonely」
Maria's voice was shrill and painful.
It was a thin, heavy lament that only those who had spent time with her could understand.
Tears dripped onto the floor of the bedroom.
「Even though I never intended to fall in love...」
After a great deal of pain and sacrifice, Chihiro's wish was fulfilled.