Thank you Top for the support...
Maria is in no condition to move.
She must have slept very little last night, and it was clear from the stoppage of [Self-healing] that her fatigue and pain had reached their peak.
Seeing that she had stopped healing herself, Aika immediately started the treatment and Hana left the bedroom to bring her some mineral water and the rest of the jelly.
「Maria-chan, you're not going to take back what you said, are you?」
Aika said, just to make sure, and then gave her water and food.
Half a plastic bottle of water and a pack of jelly would not be enough to cover the loss of energy, but without it, there would be a big difference.
Compared to the time before the feeding, her expression has improved dramatically.
She is at least in a state to be able to talk, and seems to have lost some of her possessions.
Once all the major scars were gone, Aika's treatment reached its limit. This is understandable, since Aika herself is quite exhausted from the interaction so far.
And in the meantime, Hana will continue to heal Maria by looting [Healing].
During this time, Chihiro and the others decided to start a conversation.
「Can you tell us again about the Executive Committee meeting?」
Chihiro asks, trying to keep his tone of voice as low as possible.
After a moment of hesitation, Maria answered slowly.
「...I'm sorry. Like Takatsuki-san and Riko said, I think I was jealous of everyone」
「"I think", what do you mean?」
「Because I didn't fully grasp it myself. ...this is true」
Something she wasn't fully aware of.
That's one of the reasons why she was so stubborn.
One by one, Maria talks about her feelings, confirming them.
――Since the end of the summer vacation, Maria has been harboring an unsettled feeling in her heart.
A hesitation she can't quite put into words.
Strangely enough, it stirs strongly in her chest during the daytime at school, but when she returns home in the evening, she mostly frowns upon it.
Unexplained but harmless, at first she let it go without paying much attention.
However, as the days went by, the feeling grew stronger and stronger. Somewhere along the line, it became the usual habit to have unexplained irritations in school but then dissolved at home.
It was started around the time of the match between Chihiro and Kamishiro that she gradually began to understand the cause of her frustration.
Watching Chihiro was painful.
Or, more precisely, when Chihiro and someone else are having fun...
The question was, why was she fine at home? After a while, she understood that it was a difference in "her own position".
While Aika and the others were around Chihiro as a matter of course, Maria had to stay away.
She can't break the orders of Chihiro.
She is a slave who is supposed to serve her master, but when something happens - for example, when Chihiro is injured - she can only deal with him as a classmate who is not particularly close to him.
She thought that was what she didn't like.
「...But that's not true, is it?」
In theory, Maria knew that it was not good for Chihiro to stand out any more.
Yet, before she knew it, her thoughts had become twisted.
She should stay by Chihiro's side. However, if she talked to Chihiro and the others, they would surely argue with her, so it would be quicker to make an established event without saying anything. That's why she accepted the request from Maisaka on spot.
...while turning away from the true nature of the swirling emotions and her true feelings.
「I think I was aware of the contradiction at least as soon as Takatsuki-san protested against me. But I couldn't admit it」
Tears spilled from Maria's eyes again.
Seeing this, Hana stopped her healing and hugged Maria tightly from behind.
「I know it was hard. It's not your fault, Maria-chan」
It's kind words.
But Maria shook her head at Hana's words.
「No, Hana-san, this was my fault」
She said so with a tired smile on her face.
But then, Aika breathed in and then asked Maria.
「Then, Maria-chan... do you accept it?」
She replied, turning her head to look at Chihiro.
She was sitting naked, her hair disheveled, her eyes darkened. But there was a certain strength in her eyes.
The deep, deep, all-consuming darkness had faded away - instead, a different kind of strong desire, love, dominated her.
「Izumi-kun...no, Master. I love you with all my heart. Not as a slave but as a woman. I can't live without you anymore」
Her words and thoughts are pure and clear to the core.
Pride, lies, assumptions... those impurities are all removed, and that's why this is the best and only confession possible.
The love flows in.
Through the eyes that look at each other, love flows in. Like the clear waters of a stream, it slowly but surely washes over Chihiro's heart.
He never thought that Maria could love someone so straightforwardly.
Aika let out a sigh, and her gaze wandered away as she hugged her.
As the euphoria faded away, Chihiro felt a sudden rush of embarrassment and didn't know what to do.
「Chihiro-kun, you were so cute」
「No, I mean... Well...」
It wasn't that he was disrespecting Aika...
If his heart had been filled with Maria, he doesn't know where he would have ended up.
「It's okay, Takatsuki-san」
Maria smiled and said to Chihiro again.
「So, Izumi-kun, please throw me away. You won't need a broken slave anymore」
It took me a few seconds to understand the meaning of what was being said.
And another few seconds to understand why the word "throw me away" was chosen.
Then, in a shaky voice, he questioned her.
「What are you going to do then, Maria?」
The girl replied with a smile on her face.
「I'm going home. I'll ensure that this apartment and all of its furnishings are available for you to use as before. I'll just disappear from your sight」
「Is that it? I just want to know what happens to Maria after you leave」
She told him to "throw her" away.
Speaking of what happens to things when she's no longer needed.
Slowly Maria shook her head.
「It's not much. A certain [Lost Item] will erase my current ego, give me a convenient memory and personality, and then serve another master... that's about it」
It's not painful because she forgets.
And Chihiro wouldn't have to worry about it, because the broken things would just be recycled.
Immediately after, Hana shouted. In an extremely loud and uncharacteristic voice,
「No, absolutely not! Maria-chan is going to go to "that person", aren't you?」
「Then I'll take you. You don't mind, do you? Because any Master other than Izumi-kun will do」
The girl desperately shook her head and hugged Maria, fear in her eyes. Was it fear of loss, of separation, or...?
「No, Hana-san, that won't convince "that person". Even the cost of this apartment can't be covered by the money I've earned on my own」
So, maintaining the apartment is a condition of exchange.
Maria is saying that she is willing to leave this environment in exchange for giving herself to someone called "that person".
"That person" is probably a person with a certain amount of wealth or power.
Chihiro has no way of knowing who it is.