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New Game – Chapter 32

The way to open up the cage – Part 5

The streets of the slums were commonly noisier compared to the upper layers of the city.
As midnight approached, the angry roars and cackling of people within a certain bar reached the outside of the building, the same one Takumi was going to enter with a firm pace.

“Welcome! I can’t take you to a table, but feel free to take a seat wherever… Oh, Takumi?”

The girl who was moving around while holding a tray stopped to face him.

“Sorry for bothering you when you’re this busy, Lilia. I’ll sit with the others.”

“Yeah, feel free to~! But know that I’ll make you pay for the seat~!”

She showed him a broad grin and he replied with a wry one before entering in the inner part of the bar.

“Mhh? Finahhy Hakumi’sh here!”

“You sure took your sweet time. I was growing tired of waiting.”

Kunon and Karin looked at him at the same time while sitting in front of a plain table.

“I had a few things do to. Kunon, are you better now?”

“Auu behher now heh I’m eahing!”

“I can’t understand a word, but I guess you’re doing fine.”

Seeing Kunon stuffing her face, her hands full of beef skewers, Karin let out a deep sigh.

“Can we get down to business? We don’t have to worry about the bug anymore.”

“I find ironic that the slums are the most relaxing place of the whole city.”

Takumi sat an empty chair nearby and rested his elbows on the table.

“First, great job, girls.”

When he smiled, the demi-humans smiled back and nodded.

“We’ve now confirmed that the information was leaked successfully.”

“Good grief… I feel sorry for Lise. She devoted herself to studying magic and carefully explained it to us, but it has been hard to suppress my yawns.”

“Even I had to endure losing against the Captain! But she was quite strong, so I didn’t have to act much.”

Takumi nodded placidly at their words.
They had already started executing their plan.
Seven years had passed since they joined Suzuran, and saying that they spent half of that time researching magic wasn’t an exaggeration.
Magic was the most dangerous power in the world. It was inaccessible to Takumi and was also the natural enemy of demi-humans like Kunon and Karin.
That’s why they had to prepare a way to deal with it beforehand.
Of course, Richtert’s Magic was no exception.
Still, they had to let Kiad know a few things to win the match: they were searching for a way to counter magic, since not even Kunon’s strength could deal with it, and Karin knew little of it, so she had to deepen her knowledge to cope with it.
Furthermore, Takumi didn’t have any magic power in him.

“Who’d have expecteded that magic tools have a mirroring magic integrated into their law formulas?”

“…Please, spare us. You suspected that from the start.”

“Well, obvious. In two years, a single holy knight, who then became Fortesea’s guest, reformed all the magic tools. Who wouldn’t become suspicious?”

He lightly tapped on his temple.

“Also, even though I’d have acted differently, they did things my way, so I could guess what they had in mind and noticed that some stuff was out of place.”

His information network was made by the slaves he sold.
As he gathered information from them, he monitored Fortesea’s movements and noticed that they were too accurate.
He then started to think about the reason why Lise would’ve had reformed the magic tools, and concluded that Fortesea wanted to use them to spy people.

“Asking Zeiss was the right choice. He really has an eye for tools.”

“Speaking of him, didn’t he become the disciple of a traveling merchant? Are they back yet?”

“Yeah, but they departed again. Kunon said that something felt off about magic tools, so I asked him to check if something was out of place, and he immediately noticed that there was a strange material within them.”

“Great job for remembering something that vague…”

“Information constitute one’s fortune. There’s no worthless information in the world.”

The elf was impressed to see him tapping on his temple again.

“And you learned quite a lot by prying on Lise, right, Karin?”

“Yes. Well, your guess about her situation was quite right.”

She flipped through the pages of her notebook with shining eyes.

“Fortesea holds her mother hostage, and they threatened Lise by showing her their authority, then forced her to apply a law formula on a human… This must be quite hard to bear for an eleven years old girl.”

“That just means that Lise is essential for Kiad. Binding her with collar and chains wasn’t enough for him, so he closed her away in a cage.”

“…But that doesn’t justify their choice to kill people indirectly.”

Seeing Karin so annoyed to repeatedly tap her finger on the table was a rare sight.

“I can’t believe they wrote a law formula that makes someone’s magic power go on a rampage intentionally. Also, burying in that same body the core part of a magic tool that could draw said power and crystallize it to raise its level… it’s just crazy. Honestly, the strange thing is how Lise wasn’t crushed by this.”

“Yeah… this is some serious shit.”

Remembering the child who never smiled, Takumi’s face warped… into an expression that showed clearly his intent to kill someone who wasn’t there.

“Anyway, we’ve finished our preparation. Just focus on what is waiting for you now.”

Then, he faced the wolf.

“Kunon, do you remember the match against Elsa?”

Gulp. Yes, perfectly! Now I can also distinct stuff!”

“Good. Feel free to eat whatever you want, then.”

“Really?! Yaaay! Lilia, bring a wagon of meat!”

Her eyes sparkled like stars, and she trotted to the door while screaming before making the doorbell ring repeatedly. That hungry girl alone drowned the noise of the entire bar out.

“What about you, Karin? Is there something you want? I’ll have Gaitsu get it for you.”

“Let’s see… since I can’t use a rifle, I’d need to use Aigle’s bow or something like that.”

“…Do you want to bring that?”

“What? I’m an elf, so why can’t I use a bow?”

“No, I mean… how can I put it… you are showy for the strangest things.”

“Perhaps I was influenced by the flashy puppeteer who is my Master.”

Takumi shrugged his shoulders at her titter.

“I believe in your abilities, no matter how you use them. Nothing will change what you can do.”

His voice was calm and majestic as he mouthed the next words.

“Kill magic in front of everyone.”


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1+

Guild Master – Chapter 33

The peace’s restoration and the butler’s invitation

Kirsch Auguste informed the royal capital about the plan of Vinceburg, that consisted in using two other noble families as a scapegoat to protect themselves. The first to hear her was the prime minister, who tried to request an audience with the royal family before the country could be shaken by such a crisis.

Despite its prestige, Vinceburg started to rotten since Zevias’ generation, and it became evident even for other families. No matter their noble title, both Orlanz—the first ducal family—and Stollen deemed their trying to force a marriage with a princess outrageous, and none of them could stay silent in front of Jean’s debauchery.

Stollen knew that their former mansion now belonged to my guild and had already sent me a friendly letter that stated their reciprocal trust with Orlanz, who took to heart Kirsch’s case and wanted to employ her.

I believed that she could accept their request.
Even Yuma said she’d have helped her indirectly. I’m sure she’d have felt left behind if she was the only one in the expedition party who didn’t help in all this matter.

◆◇◆

Vinceburg was about to being stripped of its status, but things settled down with a generous demotion to viscounts. This outcome was decided after the confirmation that not every member of the family was helping Jean and Zevias, since some didn’t even know what they were up to.

Now that there was an empty spot to become a ducal family, the marquesses decided it was important to choose a new one. As the preparations took a long time before one was selected, the two remaining ducal families sat at the top for a while.

Luckily, when Kirsch started to work for Orlanz, her ability and loyalty for her master and country had conquered them, so she was allowed to keep her remaining subordinates under her authority.
Regarding the reward, she decided to talk it over another day. We told her that we got what we wanted, but she didn’t accept it and insisted.

And so, a week went by.

I invited the other masked saviors to Beatrice’s mansion for dinner, and before sitting at the table, I told Yuma that she didn’t have to do anything for us this time, but she was adamant on contributing to the matter.

“My way to help people who fight among each other is to lead to Heaven the souls of the dead who faced their demise in chagrin. Although such is one of us priests’ duties, if this is what would make you happy, I will gladly make you worry about me.”
“Yuma… you sure have grown. You always said that you wanted to quell all souls.”
“Well, that is what I really want… but controlling myself brought you to help me, and even provided me a place to vent.”

She smiled like only a holy maiden could do, but I perceived something immoral behind her words.

“…Did you vent a little as the masked priest?”
“Y-Yes… It has been really satisfying so far. Still, my dress suggested that I am part of the Holy Church of Albein despite my mask, so the offerings are increasing. But I cannot shake off my head what I felt when I purified the entire city… Ahh… I so want to touch your soul like that again…!”
“I-I see… feel free to do that whenever you want, as long as it’s only touching my soul.”

She blinked her cute, round eyes repeatedly as I hadn’t grasped what she really meant.

“No. I will do it in your last moments, when your family will take care of an old you. Then, I will accompany you through the path to Heavens.”
“…A family, huh? I should choose a bride before that.”
“W-Well… y-yes. Let me inform you that my parents have high hopes for you, so… I-I might…”
“Mister Butler, Yuma, we’re waiting to take our seats for a while now. Have you done talking yet?”
“Kh! S-Sorry. Sir Butler, let us resume our talk another time…!”

Hurrying over her seat, Yuma sat nearby Mylarka, who looked at me while thinking about something, then smiled and started chatting with her friend.

“Dear guests, would you like a drink before dinner?”
“I’m fine with anything you suggest.”
“Me too! Yuma, you wanna some milk? Can’t break your taboo today, right?”
“Yes, anything but alcoholic drinks will be good for me.”
“I guess I will… have the usual, then.”

The last one talking was Cody, who wore plain clothes and sat nearby Aileen.
He almost asked me directly how he should dress, since he wasn’t the kind of person who cared about clothes, so I introduced him to a tailor I knew.

I wondered if days like that would repeat in the future.

In front of me were the few friends I could talk to sincerely. I didn’t want to lose them, but that was exactly why I wondered: was it better to keep denying what I saw?

Would Cody forgive me if I told him… if I told her what I knew?

Cordelia Blancneige was a name that appeared in the birth records of her hometown.

Thanks to my information network, I didn’t even have to personally move to search for it. I never wanted to pry in my friends’ circumstances, and that was the first time I heard about her birthplace.

Although she kept her brown hair short, sometimes I noticed it was growing longer, and both in our journey and when we sat nearby drinking, I wondered if she really was a girl.

When that happened, I always denied the truth: she couldn’t be a girl, and if I asked her directly, I would’ve lost her trust.

Probably, what I wanted to do would’ve made her angry and tore our relationship apart.

Still, until then I wanted her happiness to last as much as possible, even though she had to keep lying about herself. I wanted to make her relax.

“Let me show you my gratitude for what you did by offering you a special dinner. Sir Cody, would you mind accepting a drink of my suggestion?”
“…? Yes, feel free to.”

I felt my heart skipping a beat.
Even if I kept feigning ignorance while shrugging it off like a hallucination from an inebriated dream, our relationship wouldn’t change.

I knew that it was wrong… it was the first time I was so afraid of something.
I was glad when Cody, a regular, dropped by my bar.

No matter the gender, my feelings would’ve been the same.

“If you will excuse me, I shall present you your drinks.”

Beatrice entered the room while pushing a wagon, over which four glasses were filled with colorful liquid, one for each of our guests: red for Mylarka, blue for Aileen, white for Yuma, and yellow for Cody.

“This is called Rainbow drops, an original blend of Silver Mug.”

Those drinks changed their color into one of the rainbow’s when I added a drop of a special liquid. The original base is made of brandy, liqueur or fruit juice. It already tasted really good, but after I added that drop, the taste was greatly enhanced.

“…Dick, is this…?”

Cody called my name despite my butler’s appearance, as if he didn’t care about it.

Without saying a word, I signaled Beatrice to place the glasses, filled with see-through, colored liquid, in front of them.

I was sure that Cody would have ordered an ale, since I told her that was a common order for male guests, and that’s what she kept ordering.

She probably didn’t want to look effeminate… but her choice was only half right.

She was playing the part only to hide her real gender from me.

That’s why I had to make her stop in a way that words couldn’t express.

“…I mean, probably I worded it poorly, but I would not ask for anything other than rum or ale… with only a few exceptions.”
“This is no exception. I am sure I was not tricked by my imagination.”

Mylarka, Yuma and Aileen’s faces twitched. They couldn’t believe me… but their reaction was normal.

I pretended to be ignorant for five long years until this moment.

Cody tried to say something, and a flash of anger lit her eyes, but…

“…I must question you later. Know that this will cost you.”
“As you wish. Still, there was no error in my preparation. If it is not to your taste, I beg you to punish me at your discretion.”

I bowed deeply while preparing myself for Cody to snap at me.

But the only thing that leaked from her lips the next moment was a sigh.

“…I will ask you what the meaning of this is later, since I am probably the one that needs to prepare.”

As I raised my head, the four girls’ gaze darted on me.
They weren’t looking at me with blaming eyes, but understanding and perceptive ones.

“Why did you choose today, and since when have you known it… I’d love to ask you a lot of things, but I will contain myself out of respect for Cody.”
“I am obliged, Lady Mylarka.”
“Eh? You wanna keep that butler facade? Dick, you’re just ashamed of talking honestly with Cody, ain’t you?”
“…Actually, I do not mind it, as I did not in the past, and I never will…”

Hearing that, Cody flushed up to her ears.
I saw her blushing like that only when I asked her, during our expedition, to take a bath together.

“Thing is that now you lost a male friend, Dick.”
“N-No? Feel free to treat me like a guy, otherwise… i-it will be a problem…”
“Guess you thought pretty much ’bout it huh? Anyways, tonight we driiink~!”
“F-Forgive my rudeness. I appreciate your cordiality, Sir Butler, but alcohol is a bit too much for me…”
“Lady Yuma, although I prepared your drink like the others, yours is alcohol-free, so do not worry.”
“How thoughtful of my Master… despite being alcohol-free, you invented a way to create a flavor that emulates alcoholic drinks. I would love to know more of your recipes periodically…”

Beatrice was now used to be this mansion’s landlord, but if she wanted to, I could drop by from time to time.

Still, the four sat at the table stared daggers at her… her invitation was a subtle way to ask for magic power to preserve her physical form, which I had to provide. But I wouldn’t have done it each time I was here, and neither was she hoping for that.

I felt Yuma and Cody, whose face was still red but preserved her usual smile, looking at me differently.

“We should deal with the flames of jealousy from now on, are we not? This will be hard for everybody.”
“W-Well, we cannot help it. Dick is not self-conscious in the slightest.”
“That’s damn true. He’s the type you must bait, otherwise you can’t pull it. There’s some crazy fishing to do for him, huh?”
“Gh… I am only a masked butler…”
“And I am a masked priestess. If I should express it in a few words, I would be glad if you could look more after me.”

Yuma dropped a bomb on me… but that made everyone smile.
She’s always been like that, like she wasn’t part of this world, but her assertion proved the opposite.

“Dick, do you remember our promise? You’re not getting away easily if you don’t.”
“Ah, so this job was done okay? Why next time don’t we all eat at my house? Feel free to bring Verlaine witcha.”
“Then, since you always postpone it… I want you to spar a little with me.”

They all said what they wanted, and although I only wanted to drink at my bar, they didn’t seem to let me.

“Anyhow, Dick… or rather, Sir Masked Butler, I beg you to start our toast.”
“Why are you all…? I mean, yes, I sure will. My dear guests, raise your glasses… cheers!”
“Cheers!”

The members of the expedition party, which now became the masked saviors, rose their voices in unison.

Nothing had changed from then.

I didn’t set an ending time for our party, so the girls had time to eat until they were stuffed, talk and appreciate each other for some time.

The next day, I’d have been back to my normal life, so I really wanted to enjoy those peaceful moments.

“Sir Butler, what is this drink?”
“Would you teach us how to prepare them? I always found unfair that you know how to do so many things.”
“Ya know, he teaches by making others watch him, so we better pay attention.”
“Uhm… I’m interested in seeing how to prepare this. Show me, Butler.”
“Well, if I may…”

Beatrice grabbed the shaker and then passed it to me. It was a peculiar object that couldn’t be found in the capital’s bars, and also what I had used to prepare those drinks. I was deeply interested in how other countries prepared them, so I decided to buy one.

I put into it the ingredients and started to shake, then poured the solution into a glass, enjoying the curious stares of my beloved friends who seemed to look at a sparkling treasure.


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5+

New Game – Chapter 31

The way to open up the cage – Part 4

The carriage swayed as it clattered down the road.
No one among its passengers muttered a word, and neither did the coachman, who looked busy doing his job.
The maid that always took care of Lise was silent while checking her dress and body, then, after finishing, she turned her face away.
The archbishop’s mouth was sealed shut, as she didn’t want to speak. Actually, she thought that talking would’ve been an unforgivable deed.

“You sure took your time, huh?”

She jumped hearing the voice of the man sitting nearby, and quivered.
In front of her, with a grin plastered on his face, sat Kiad Fortesea.
She started to elaborate an answer while tightening her clutch on the basket she held in her arms.

“…I am sorry. I fell asleep.”

“Yeah, I know. There’s no need to be that startled, you know? Lise Crest.”

He was probably in a good mood as he stifled a laugh in his throat.

“You are such a great actor despite your young age! They leaked quite the load of information! I couldn’t stop laughing!”

She bit her lower lip, but he didn’t mind her and kept talking.

“What a fantastic holy knight you are! You didn’t only create the magic tools for us, but also entwined two different kinds of magic within them!”

Since she became archbishop, Lise created a lot of new magic tools.
She optimized the law formulas to their limits, lessening the amount of magic power needed to activate them, and also improving significantly the barriers they provided for defense.
Fortesea, as a major company, started to sell them to nobles, and in only two years they became widely spread… although no one knew that their law formulas had a secret code within them.

“Listening to people’s conversations without being there is pretty useful, ain’t it? That way, spying on the other families’ magic studies is easy, and… this way, I can know how strong are the idiots who oppose me and when they scheme something right away.”

Kiad had heard every conversation that Takumi held with Lise.
Within magic tools’ law formulas was entwined a magic that mirrored messages to someone else, so Kiad could listen to any conversation freely.

“Still… Haha, I can’t believe that slave merchant doesn’t have magic power! I can’t help but laugh! How can he try to oppose me with such a puny body?!”

His smile crooked in wickedness and bloodlust painted his gaze.
He also knew about Kunon’s training, about Karin’s lack of combat experience, and that none of them wanted to use magic tools… he knew everything.
And it was all Lise’s fault, though she didn’t have a choice.
Her mission was to confirm how much they knew about magic, what tactics they were preparing, and how dangerous they could be.
At first, Lise should’ve activated her own magic tool, but luckily there were some in the Fairstadt mansion, so she didn’t have to and risk being suspected.

“Why were you honest with them about magic, though?”

“…Sorry, I am not good at lying, so I preferred to speak as little truth as possible.”

“Hah! Your expression never changes, how could they notice a lie? Still, you are praiseworthy for worrying about it.”

She struggled to keep her deadpan expression despite her lying.
The truth was, she didn’t want to lie.
Still, despite her shadiness, Mirta extended her a helping hand, and Takumi never looked displeased at her presence, although she had come out of nowhere.
She didn’t want to lie to people like them, although she had already betrayed them, and wanted to avoid feeling guiltier.
When she felt that her feelings were about to spill out, she clutched her basket with even more strength as if trying to squeeze them with her hands.
But that was the wrong move.

“By the way, what’s in there?”

Kiad gestured at her while gazing at the basket.

“Let me see what’s inside.”

“…Mirta gave me some apple pie, and–”

“You heard me? I told you to let me see what’s inside.”

His merry expression twisted in a moment, and a shade of anger painted his voice.
Timidly, the child handed her present over. He snatched it from her, and then took the wrapped box out of it.

“Ooh… the shape isn’t very good, but it looks like a pie, yeah.”

He then unwrapped it, looked at the insides, and crushed it.

“Mh… I thought they’d hid something here, but I guess they’re not that smart.”

A second later, Kiad threw the bashed box and basket on the ground, then kicked them toward Lise.

“…Ah… Ahhhh…!”

Lise couldn’t stop her voice while seeing at the mess her pie was right now – the present that Mirta wanted to give her.
But the man didn’t care, and probably amused by her expression, which she hardly changed, wore an unpleasant grin.

“What, did you like that? Let’s make our cook bake one for you, then.”

“…No, I… can do without it…”

Probably irritated by seeing her put the box back in the basket and embracing it again, the man rose his voice without holding his anger back.

“What the hell is wrong with you? Do you understand your position?!”

“…Yes. I understand it.”

“Then try to tell me.”

He glared down on her with a gaze that would have shattered anyone’s happiness.

“Say it! What the fuck is your position?!”

“…I accepted the protection of Fortesea as their guest.”

“Exactly! Who took care of you after your father died and your mother collapsed due to her illness?!”

“…Lord Kiad Fortesea.”

“Yes, I did! I confirmed your talent as a holy knight, I prepared a proper workspace for you, I discussed with my father, and I made you become the damn archbishop! And who did you ask for help when your mother was bedridden?! You asked us, Fortesea, to help you! Did you forget that?!”

“…No. I would never forget your kindness, Lord Kiad.”

While speaking, she wore a deadpan expression.
She hated herself.
For being afraid of the mighty Fortesea, and for being so pathetic.

During her sixth birthday, Lise was glad to become part of the Fortesea family.
She was a holy knight like her late father, and thanks to the law formula she had invented, she believed she could help her mother getting better. She studied day and night, sometimes even forgetting to sleep.
Thanks to her efforts and resourcefulness, she deepened her knowledge of magic and law formulas very quickly, and in three mere years she became known as a prodigy. Then, Elvis, head of the family of Fortesea, granted her the status of archbishop.
She believed that her creation could help people… but in the next two years, her faith crumbled.

“We’ve arrived? Lise, you did your job. Now go research stuff as usual.”

The carriage stopped as he said those words, and coming back to her senses, the archbishop felt her mood sink.
In the royal castle’s basement were the law formula’s development room and laboratory.

“With your last report, I guess your progress aren’t going very well… but you won’t ease up now, won’t you?”

“…No. What I am currently researching is quite difficult, so I only need more time.”

“Haha, it’s hard even for a prodigy like you? Then feel free to hole yourself up in there until the match’s day. I’ll prepare everything you need.”

She was clearly under a sort of house arrest, and it was impossible for her to escape.
Trying her best not to look at Kiad’s gross smile, Lise got off the carriage.

“Go, now. And don’t forget who let you and your mother live.”

“…Yes. But could I eat something before?”

“Come again? The servants will bring you anything anytime.”

“No… I do not want a meal. I only want to eat this before it gets cold.”

She raised the basket in her hand, and the man grunted annoyed.

“Do what you want. After you eat that shit, go to the laboratory right away.”

After he spat those hideous words, the carriage started to move again along with the neigh of the horses.
Paying no mind to it, she hurried to her room, which was actually a guest room within the royal castle.
Despite her being a child, she was both the archbishop and a guest of Fortesea, so her room was insanely gorgeous and very spacious.
They thought she’d be happy of going to and from the basement if they gave her that room, and that decision was a mere glimpse of the power the Fortesea held as a family.
Lise moved alone in the room and kindly placed the basket on the desk, then opened the crushed box and stared at the bashed pie.
She brought to her mouth a piece which was still warm and felt the sweet flavor of sugar mixing perfectly with the sour fruit.

“This is… not shit.”

Unable to contain the emotion that filled her whisper, tears streamed down her cheeks and fell on the back of her hand.
The more that gentle flavor spread in her mouth, the more her feelings deepened.

“This is… nothing like shit.”

That pie was something made by someone who thought tenderly about her.
The kind, warm taste of that present reminded Lise of her mother’s cuisine when she was still healthy. She despised Kiad for having crushed it and called it shit.
Still, she hadn’t the courage to face him directly.
She hadn’t Takumi’s confidence, who could speak sharply in front of that monster.
The only thing she could do was locking her feelings away and follow Fortesea’s orders.
That was the only sacrifice needed to keep her and her mother alive. Living by giving up her everything and suppressing her heart.
That wasn’t any different from living like… a slave.
She tried to dry her tears until, without noticing, she ended up grasping thin air. Nothing of the pie was left.

“…Next time we meet, I must thank her.”

While softly whispering those words, she wiped her face with her sleeves, then stared at the paper in the bottom of the box.
She wanted to take care of her present to the end, so she carefully took it while feeling the urge to negate Kiad’s words, but…

“…Mh?”

The paper didn’t seem to budge.
Now that she noticed it, although Kiad crushed the box, that paper sheet kept his original shape perfectly.
Then, she remembered Mirta’s words – not wrinkle the paper when you lift it – and so she did.


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0

Guild Master – Chapter 32

The once again Forgotten fifth

Once we landed with the help lead of the fairy bird, we still were somewhat far from our destination, so we decide to split. Mylarka went to stop Jean Vinceburg’s escape, and I went to his castle.

In the middle of the broad courtyard in front of the mansion was unfolding a sad scene.

Kirsch and several other servants sat on the ground, their hands tied behind their back, and two men holding executioner’s swords were standing behind them.

In front of them, a bald old man wearing luxurious clothes was glaring down at the girl’s comrades with a gaze colder than ice and a crooked smile on his face.

“Exactly like Velvechia’s army, you betrayed Vinceburg’s family. It’s your fault it ended like this. Kirsch, I thought you were a loyal servant of Jean, but you are actually a disgusting backstabber.”
“Grrr…!
“Oh, don’t you dare to move, otherwise your head will roll on the floor. Let me give you one last chance. My foolish son has already left, so would you consider becoming my servant? If you swear loyalty to me, I shall grant your survival.”
“P-Please, wait, Lord Zevias! Does that mean that we–oof!”

One of the other servants tried to talk, but one of the executioners kicked him hard, leaving him gasping and writhing on the ground.

“Who said you could talk? I hold out my hand only to people who deserve it. The likes of you are replaceable.”
“What…?! If I hadn’t told you that Captain Kirsch didn’t follow your orders, you…”
“You didn’t stop her, so what is your point? Do you think betrayers should be treated kindly? How shameless of you.”
“Ugh… Shiiit…!”

Kirsch was going to defend her comrade. I knew what was bound to happen in that case, so I started to think.

How could I save her?
Zevias’s executioners were a A-rank adventurers, and one of them was surely good with his sword, so if he swung it down on Kirsch, she would lose her life for sure… still, beating them wasn’t hard.

They had no escape… I had to make them focus on me.

No matter how things turn out, I just hope that geezer dies of fright.

I used some Support Magic on the servants to protect their bodies, just in case.

At first, buffs weren’t something that could be earned through food, that was an expedient I thought about. Normal Support Magic was used on the battlefield to help one’s comrades.

I hid my magic power and cast a strengthening spell on Kirsch, but that alone couldn’t do the work. The enemy must be weakened… so I started preparing for the next move.

I trained a lot to use it, and despite it being less effective than Mylarka’s spells, the results are guaranteed.

Kirsch lifted her head and looked at Zevias’s face. She had probably opposed resistance before she got seized. Blood was dripping from her lips like she’d been punched, and her hair was disheveled.

“I can’t think I did anything wrong, Zevias Vinceburg! Even if I die now, someone will surely come to know what you did!”

She didn’t spare him a word.
There was no need to.

Verlaine said that if Kirsch believed in her choice, we’d have accepted her as a reward.
We had a deal, so we had to fulfill her request.

Zevias was silent, but fury welled within him. With his next words, he would’ve ordered the executioner to end her life. His wrinkled face twitched sadly, reflecting for a moment the same feeling as Lang for that beautiful woman.

“…As heartbroken as I am, you are accused of betrayal. Hence, I sentence you to death. I know you understand my choice.”
“Khh…!”

As tears streamed down her cheeks, the light in her eyes never flickered, and not for a moment she bent her head.

The shining blade that was reflected in her eyes slowly rose in the sky, and when it was about to swing down on her, I cast two spells simultaneously.

Spirit Rising! Spirit Reduce!

“Ugh…?!”

The executioner stopped moving, and unable to keep the sword in his hands, he lost his balance and fell on the ground.

“T-The sword is… heavy…!”
“What are you doing?! I told you to kill her! If you refuse to do that, Glance, you do it!”
“Only villains would sentence somebody to death, don’t you think?”

That was the best moment to move. Before approaching the tied servants, I unsheathed my sword.

It had been a long time since I last crossed my sword with someone, but that couldn’t even be considered a fight for me.

“Who do you think you are with that mask, a hero…? That’s bullshit!”
“I’m just working like you, Glance Bardot of the Purple Scorpion.”
“Oh, is that so? Then, die!”

He was an A rank adventurer with a score of ten thousand points, and I was sure that he earned a lot of money thanks to his strong arms and sword techniques.

Still, anyone using a common sword against me–buffed and wielding a spirit blade–was simply asking to die.

Clang, our swords clashed, and his was beautifully cut in half.

“Impossible…! A steel sword can’t cut through kurogane…!”
“Oh, you were using one of Velvechia’s weapons? I guess it was defective…”
“Grrr…!”

Having lost his weapon, I kicked him to swiftly end our battle.

Shoot rising.

Normally there wasn’t need to use Support Magic, but I wasn’t obliged to go easy on him either, so I got carried away a little.

Glance crashed on a big tree, and cracks formed on its trunk on the impact.

“Who’s next? No one else? Geezer, your face’s turning purple.”
“S-Surrounded by a bunch of useless people…! If I could get out… If only I could get out of this…!”

The man who manipulated his underlings from the shadows didn’t have any hint of cleverness on his face.
Even his very son abandoned him, and with this development, his hope crumbled down… but gripping at it with his everything, he grabbed his sword and pointed it at me.
His visage was warped with haughtiness and hatred.

“WAAAH!”

Losing his mind, he screamed like a beast and swung his sword. Although I almost pitied him, considering he was even weaker than a C-rank adventurer, I didn’t let my guard down.

Between the countless ways to approach a problem, I always chose the ‘non-traditional’ one on purpose. I’ve always fought like that.

Hence, I hid my magic square.

Whenever I saw Mylarka casting magic, I always wondered if she could do that.

There wasn’t someone who could use Space Expanding Magic other than her, but I kept analyzing her since forever, and that was why none other than a jack of all trades like me could have somewhat reproduced it.

Restricted area annihilation n°66 – Disintegration field.

His sword apparently stabbed me.

“S-See?! This is not the end for me! I will…”
“No, this is the end. And you won’t ever have another chance.”
“Whaaah!? W-What on earth…!”

The sword started to turn black like a lump of charcoal, then crumbled in pieces. He fell on his butt and looked at me like I was a monster.

“M-My sword…! Y-You are a spirit! Are filthy spirits going to invade our capital?!”
“Don’t look down on them, Zevias. I know spirits way prouder than you. Not like that word applies on someone who tried to sell hiw own country… It would just be wasted on the likes of you!”
“Guhhh… Gh…!”

As he accepted defeat, he started foaming, preventing him from articulating words properly, and in the end he fainted.
None of his underlings wanted to fight anymore. Spirit reduce weakened the targets so much that if they hadn’t a certain amount of strength left, they couldn’t even hold a sword.

“I guess that taking him away with you would be too much to ask, so just seize him.”

No one said anything, but I didn’t feel anyone was against my proposal.

I freed Kirsch and her comrades and after seeing that the rope had dug in her arms and she was bleeding, I cast Healing light on the presents.

“This light… you can even use Healing Magic…?”
“I-I didn’t do anything wrong! Captain Kirsch did–”

I hit the girl’s comrade and made him faint.

“Has someone else betrayed you?”
“…No, although some wanted to. But that’s my fault, I am not worth of respect…”
“I don’t think s–”
“Forgive me, Captain Kirsch, for doubting about you even for a second…”

Three of her subordinates started to talk apologetically, but she smiled at them.

“Everyone would have doubted me there. Also, it might have actually saved you… but I’d rather die than be his servant.”
“Captain…!”

She surely thought dearly of them. They trusted each other, but that trust was slowly soiled by the dirty job that Jean and Zevias ordered them to do.

Charlotte crossed the sky followed by the fire dragon, so I guessed that Mylarka had completed her mission.

“S-Sorry, masked man… Why did you save us?”

Both my appearance and voice were camouflaged, so Kirsch didn’t recognize me, and as she waited for an answer… I was too focused on her skin, exposed from her ripped jacket.

“Ah, f-forgive me… I did not expect someone to help us…”
“Nah, don’t worry. It was the least I could do.”

I turned my back and started to walk away. My next move was contacting my guild members and make them deal with Kirsch and her comrades, since they probably had valuable information… and in the worst-case scenario, I had to ask Cody for some other help.

“P-Please, tell me at least your name!”
“My name? You will forget me anyway, so it’s fine if you never know it.”

That wasn’t a complete lie. I didn’t want to tell my name in front of others and did it only on very special occasions.

Should I have answered her myself? Or was it better for her to ask my guild members? Both ways, knowing my name was useless, since there wasn’t any need to introduce oneself to a drunkard like me.

It was exactly for that reason that I was wearing a mask.

“I’m the fifth masked savior. Feel free to remember this.”
“Y-Yes! I sure will! Thank you very much, Forgotten hero!”
“Gh…?!”
“Hero…? That man?”
“He saved us, so shouldn’t I call him a hero?”

They all agreed, but that shocked me.

Did she know? No, she probably searched for Silver mug’s guild master’s name, which was officially recorded… everyone would connect the dots.

Silver mug, or rather, I, accepted her request, and a masked savior came to help her… well, kicking up a fuss over a trivial thing like this was simply dumb.

She will keep this secret. And if she doesn’t, I will make Verlaine add that as another part of our reward.

The masked saviors were the product of a collaboration between people, not between guilds, and served to protect the country.
If they saved someone, it wasn’t merit of any guild or company… I really wanted to make that thing clear.


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4+

New Game – Chapter 30

The way to open up the cage – Part 3

Twilight painted the upper part of Listina in shades of vermilion.
Probably somehow noticing that a long time had passed, Lise rubbed her eyes as she lifted her body.

“Did I… fall asleep…?”

“Yeah. It’s evening right now.”

Lize jumped at Takumi’s voice, not expecting him to be that close.

“…This is the worst. Letting you see my sleeping face is just the worst.”

“Try to think a bit more about yourself, then. No matter how much stressful work one has to do, a good child shouldn’t push all-nighters and just go to sleep early.”

“I am no child… but I have surely been a problem. Sorry.”

“No need to apologize. I’m in debt with you for teaching me about magic, so if you need help with anything, feel free to come to Suzuran.”

“It was not that big of a deal… also, I do not… need anything.”

“…I see. Keep doing your best, then.”

Lise balled her hand firmly at his words.

“My job isn’t that important…”

As to squeeze out her feelings, she uttered those words in a whisper.
Before he could comment, the sound of heavy footsteps approaching them reached their ears, and they turned to see Mirta hurrying over.

“Sorry for making you wait! Oh, Lise, are you awake?”

“…Yes. Sorry for falling asleep in the middle of our lesson.”

“Do not worry! I came by a few minutes earlier, but you were still sound asleep on Takumi’s lap… I confess I was a bit envious.”

“…Did I sleep on this slave merchant’s lap?”

As she stared at Suzuran’s leader in wonder, Takumi patted the said zone.

“Yeah, I was reading this book while you rested your head here. It was bad when you started drooling, though.”

“…No way. I do not drool.”

“What’s that thing on the corner of your mouth, then?”

She blushed furiously while scrubbing her mouth with her sleeve.

“Guess I just imagined it, huh?

“…People like you are the lowest of the low…!”

“Oh, who cares. At least you woke up, didn’t you?”

Unable to stomach Takumi’s smile, Lise flailed her arms about while her face flushed a bright red and tears welled in her eyes, and the slave merchant decided to take a hold of himself.

“By the way, one of Fairstadt’s messengers came to escort you home. Please, take this as a sign of gratitude for what you did for us today.”

Mirta handed a basket over the archbishop.

“What is this?”

“An apple pie I just baked.”

The child’s nose twitched as she smelled the sweet aroma coming from Mirta’s hands, and she looked at the basket with sparkling eyes, like it was a treasure.

“Takumi told me that you wanted to taste my dessert, so I thought to give you some… do you perhaps dislike it?”

“No, I like sweet things… but I am not used to this kind of things, so I am surprised.”

Holding the basket close to her chest, like she was holding a precious gem, Lise bowed her head.

“Thank you very much. I will take good care of it.”

“Do not mention it. Still, although the pie’s flavor should be all right, the shape is a little bit off. Be careful not to wrinkle the paper when you lift it, okay?”

Gazing at the woman’s wry smile, Lise’s mouth curved slightly.

“…Okay. I will be careful.”

“I hope you like it! Let’s go now, the messenger is waiting at the door with a carriage.”

Suzuran’s leader stretched her hand toward Lise, who was about to grab it, when…

“No… I will be fine by myself. Thank you for worrying.”

…after a nimble bow, she darted away.
Watching her back growing distant, Mirta let out a few whispered words.

“Lise, will you…?”

“I can’t promise that, but at least she shouldn’t be excessively abused. That piece of shit of Kiad did it only to provoke us, and, in the past, she probably was… but I don’t think it has been that bad since she became the archbishop.”

Lise now had the chance to show herself in front of other nobles, so Fortesea couldn’t hurt her thoughtlessly, given that rumors could have spread and tarnished their fame. Kiad would never think that was fine.

“Kiad is just a brute, that’s why he hit her. But he knows well what his actions could bring… At least, he knows he won’t just be spanked a little.”

Then, Takumi grinned.

“Still, the likes of him are easy to manipulate.”

He tapped repeatedly on his temple.

“Let’s go, we have some stuff to do. Tell Elsa we said hi.”

“Okay… Takumi, take care of Lise.”

As she looked at him with uneasiness, he turned his back and waved his hand, then told the others to come with him and headed to the slums.


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1+

Guild Master – Chapter 31

The tiger-race’s hot springs and the duke’s struggle

After the banquet came to a close, I ended up in the same tent as Riko and Mylarka, but since there was a lot of room, I used a curtain to divide the space, so that I could sleep peacefully.

“Yeah… I must sleep. How much did Mylarka make me drink, though…?”

We had to wake up early the next morning and get away from this village before dawn.
If everything went according to my predictions, Cody will fend off Velvechia’s attack in the night, but I wondered what would happen if the capital heard of it… Vinceburg should have thought about various methods to prevent being targeted.

The first one would be escaping before a rebellion unleashed in the city.

Another one would’ve been covering themselves up and hide all traces of their involvement with Velvechia, but since Lag and his comrades got arrested, it was already too late.

Otherwise, they could try to use other nobles as scapegoats… Just thinking about that made me feel sick, but since they were aiming to usurp the throne, it wasn’t unthinkable.

As I grew dizzy for the alcohol, I started to remove the toxins from myself.

The tiger-race’s drinks were good, but they messed the recipes up, so it was very easy to get totally drunk. The wild flavor of their unrefined alcohol was amazing, though.
I wanted to have some in my bar.

“…Mh?”

Then, I noticed that I couldn’t sense Riko and Mylarka’s presences, although they should’ve been behind the curtain.

I was worried to let Sweet disaster walk around this late at night… but maybe she only asked Riko to bring her somewhere.

Still, I exited the tent and searched for some kind of trace left behind by Mylarka.

Since her magic was so unique, it was easy for me to detect where she had passed by.
After some time, I reached the border of the forest.

“What the…?”

I entered the woods and noticed that fog was surrounding me. The place felt warm and damp, and there was a strange smell wafting in the air.

The more I walked forward, the more the fog thickened, and as I dallied through that pale wall, the dim light from the night sky grew weaker, so seeing what was in front of me became quite hard. Now even following the magical traces was barely doable, but I couldn’t just go back to the tent.

Then, I saw a tall fence made of bamboo pieces tied together, from which the white fog was gushing out.

“…Maybe she’s behind it? Heeey, Mylarka…”

As I spoke, I peeked through a crack of the fence, and the sound of something entering into the water reached my ears. I was starting to grasp what was going on.

“Ahhh… I really cannot relax without taking a bath. Thank you for bringing me here, Riko.”
“I wanted to bath too, so I’m glad you came! I love you, Masked savior girl~! ♪ ”
“You… did not want the other one to come too?”
“Both of you saved me, so you are equally super important. Now everyone hates humans less.”
“You shouldn’t trust strangers, although we are an exception.”

Why… why was she wearing a mask in the bath?

I started to look around. They were in an open-air bath made of stone, and Mylarka was currently washing Riko’s back.

The steam was concealing almost everything, and as I felt like I saw something I shouldn’t have seen, blood rushed to my head.

Thinking about it, there was that time when we all bathed together in cold water during the expedition… I’m not peeking, I only noticed too late what is this place!

Still, although Riko should have had a pretty good hearing, it didn’t look like she noticed me… I was blessed by the Heavens! Man, how lucky I was!

“Riko… do you really want to marry him?”
“Nh… Y-Yeah. Masked savior boy is good. He’s very strong and kind.”

Time to hear Mylarka trashing her opinion…
But I’d have never expected what I heard next.

“Eheh… He doesn’t want to be the center of attention. He is smart and has a nice face, and you rarely find guys like him. I cannot say that I don’t understand your feelings.”

My heart was beating loudly.
Hearing something like that in such a way was too vile of me.
I had to pretend I never left my tent that night.

“I wanna know more about it. Will you come again at least once?”
“Sure, call us whenever you want. Can we bring some other friends, though?”
“If they’re your friends, we’ll welcome them! I’m looking forward to it~! ♪ ”
“I’m glad we could spend a day off here. There are a lot of rare animals… and your tail is…”
“Eheheh, it tickles! Now that you touched it, we’re officially friends!”
“Oh, is that so? It’s good to be friends with you.”

Mylarka fluffed the girl’s tail’s tip, and Riko started to carefully wash her new friend’s body.

I stepped back from my hiding place and started to go back.
There was nothing to be scared about, but if they were to know what I did, I’d have surely faced my end.

“…The Masked boy came here. Did he see me…?”
“Eh?! W-Why didn’t you tell me?! Do you think he heard us?! In that case, I should obliterate–”
“N-No, I don’t think so. Humans can’t hear from this distance.”
“I-I see… no problem, then. If he had seen me, I would’ve to think about what to do next…”
“Why don’t we marry him together? You’re first, I’m second! ♪ ”
“…You really are honest with yourself. Seeing you, I almost feel like forgetting about my anger.”

Mylarka became very kind. It was almost unimaginable, given how she was in the past.

Even she, who never wanted people to get close to her, considered marrying someone, and in that cozy atmosphere, she was almost tempted by seriously considering it.

Still, given our past expedition, I had to be conscious about the relationships between us.

Even if watching her for too long would’ve forced me to use Healing Light on myself.

◆◇◆

We fed the fire dragon with some concealing pomegranate, then mounted on it before dawn and departed toward northwest: the capital.

Mylarka was already used to use me as her backrest and was enjoying the view.

“…Mh? Something is coming this way… Is that your…?”
“She’s my fairy bird. I asked her to come to warn me if something was going on. What happened, Charlotte?”

I took some time to admire it as it landed on her shoulder. Its cute name matched perfectly its adorable look: the blue gradient of the plumage colored its feather sapphire toward their tips.

It also had the ability to erase his presence and blend with the surroundings.
Mylarka was prideful, so she didn’t scout personally like the others in my guild.

Charlotte chirped in her master’s ear, and the genius teacher who taught offensive magic to the first class understood her thanks to the effort she put into researching the languages of animals. Actually, those researches were her most famous ones.

“Dick, Zevias… blamed Kirsch and her comrades. They might even get executed.”

I couldn’t feel anything within me. Not even anger.
Those words entered my ears, but my feelings were calm. That was just another possibility I had already thought about, and I could’ve made my guild members act accordingly if only I wasn’t in the middle of the sky.

“…What is Jean doing?”
“Fleeing from the capital. He parted from his father… I will go arrest him. Later, I’ll ask your guild members to help me, and if we seize him, we will bring him to the authorities.”

She wasn’t wearing her mask until that moment, since being seen while flying at that altitude was impossible, but decided to wear it the next moment. Within her fiery gaze, one could see her iron will.

Leaving it to her was a good idea. My guild members would help her, but… what about me?

Zevias Vinceburg was a man who handed over his status only to steal the throne.

I must make him fail. Otherwise, the peace that was currently in the capital would be destroyed.

“…The forgotten fifth… Zevias will regret not knowing about you.”
“I’m fine with being forgotten. Not like I’ll have much to do now.”

I wore my mask as well. Moving as a guild master went against my principles… but as a member of the masked saviors, I couldn’t help but remember our expedition against the former Demon Lord.
This was just another story, but with the same comrades I had back then.

I never was in the limelight while looking at the victories that piled up on their road.

Cody, Mylarka, Aileen, Yuma: I admired their astonishing fights, and I was proud and glad to be their comrade.

“What will you give us once this will end, Mr. masked butler?”
“You will see, Milady. Expect at least a full-course dinner at Silver Mug.”

We swooped down and stopped at a distance from the Vinceburg’s mansion that laid in front of us.


<Prev | Index | Next>

3+

New Game – Chapter 29

The way to open up the cage – Part 2

As Elsa was spanking Kunon while scolding her, Takumi and the others were analyzing the match’s details.

“…Elsa just started a spanking session instead of a sparring battle with magic.”

“Good. We should start the lesson with our Lady Archbishop, then.”

“I mean, should we not help her?”

“Karin, can’t you see how much fun they’re having?”

“They get along very well! Ah, I will go brew some tea!”

“You guys are really heartless…”

Takumi and Mirta were enjoying the scene, and since Karin knew that meddling with Elsa’s punishment would have brought severe repercussions on her later, she just ignored them.

“…So, what do you want to know?”

Probably feeling alienated from the others, Lise drew their attention by pulling at their clothes while wearing an uneasy expression, and the slave merchant thought about her question for a bit.

“Let’s see… Richtert’s magic knights can use two types of magic, right?”

“If we put it in a simple way, yes. You told me that you know something about it, but how much?”

“Only the basis, I guess. We can manifest it thanks to magic formulas and law formulas. Everyone possesses the former along with magic power, but only a handful of people can use it. I didn’t research the theoretical stuff, so I’d love if you could enlighten me on that.”

Lise lightly nodded and then drew two circles with a pebble.

“Let me correct you, though. If you would only need to study to use magic, everyone could use it freely.”

“So… both I and Kunon, and even Takumi could?”

“Exactly. You, that wolf, the slave merchant: as long as you have magic power, you can hypothetically use magic. But Richtert’s magic is a little different.”

She drew a few stick figures while talking.

“Intelligent creatures have magic power within them, and magic formulas are engraved in their soul. Mixing knowledge, experience, and understanding of the process results in a stronger and more complex output.”

“I see… So, people cannot use it because they do not understand how it works. That’s also why even if they know about it, they cannot manifest it.”

“Precisely. A few are born with complex formulas within them, which power is not related to their age or bloodline. For your information, I am one of them.”

Seeing Lise puffing her chest pridefully, Karin smiled wryly.

“This is the main difference among people. The study of magic is passed down since ancient times… but magic formulas are complex, as we must take into account that their power is variable, and there might be special ones.”

She drew a complex figure within one of the circles and wrote ‘awesome magic’ under it. Then, she tapped under the other circle.

“Now, law formulas are the way with which we can manifest magical phenomenon. They can be strengthened and also written in more complex ways but simplifying them is common in Richtert’s magic.”

“And that implies some kind of demerit, since we are talking about blessings, right?”

“Exactly. To put it simply, think of magic as a drawing.”

Lise rummaged in her pockets and took a feather pen and an ink bottle out of them, and then started drawing.

“This pen is a magic formula, the ink is magic power, and the law formula is the drawing. If we had to draw a complex image, we would need a lot of ink and time, which might be fatal in battle, so magic formulas need to be simple, but maintain a considerable output as well.”

As she explained, Karin replayed the scene she saw a few minutes before.
Elsa cast some spells despite being in battle, but she was so fast that Kunon couldn’t do anything to stop her.

“Holy knights like us follow God’s teachings and strive to grasp the rules they have created. We specialize in law formulas, while sorcerers specialize in magic formulas… together, we brought Richtert’s magic to its current fame.”

“I see, so you are the basis of Richtert’s strength.”

“Yes. None of us are allowed to lose. This means that we need strong people like me to keep…”

Then, Lise, who was talking freely until that very moment, shut her mouth.
Takumi remembered her doing that before, and tried to move on.

“By the way, what happens if the law or magic formulas are hampered?”

“Mmh… That is a good question but hard to answer to.”

She brought a hand to her mouth and started thinking.

“First, the magic will not work. Magic and law formulas can work independently, but magic must be composed of those two functions.”

“So, if I meddle with someone while it’s casting, I can interrupt its attack, right?”

“Yes, but you cannot touch magic formulas, since they are carved in their very soul. Only God can do that.”

“I see… but that means that I could meddle with law formulas, yes?”

“…This is hard to say as a holy knight, but I cannot say it is impossible.”

Lise’s uneasiness became evident on her face.

“A law formula is ‘a way to materialize magic into this world’. It is necessary if we want to manifest magic, so if it is written on something, it is possible to meddle with it.”

“But in Elsa’s case, she didn’t have anything like that, right?”

“Right. She recalled a law formula from her memory, then imagined how to use magic, and moved in a certain way before activating her spell. She actually entwined some things, but we cannot see magical power, so only the caster will know beforehand where the magic will manifest.”

The archbishop paused to catch her breath.

“Destroying something you cannot see is hard. Also, grasping the shape of the law formula you are trying to undermine is very important.”

“…I see. That makes it almost impossible, then.”

Without knowing where it is, how it is drawn, and how does that specific law formula work, it was impossible to stop it.
Still, after tapping on his temple for some time, Takumi smiled happily.

“Err… have you finished talking?”

Mirta was standing nearby them with a teapot and cookies in hands while looking at them blankly.

“Yeah, we can stop here for now.”

“Ow… sorry for taking this long, but I did not set foot in here for so long that I did not know where everything was…”

“…Mirta, are you really the leader of Suzuran? I wondered the same when I ate at your place.”

“Yes, why do you ask? I might not be reliable, but I am still a full-fledged leader!”

She spoke pridefully while bringing a hand to her chest, but the sweet aroma of cookies and tea wafting in the air totally ruined the seriousness of her image.

“I brought some for you too, Lise, so feel free to serve yourself.”

“You already accompanied me here, I cannot accept even–”

As she sprung on her feet, trying to stand her ground, her tummy rumbled loudly.

“…There are also some sandwiches, if you want.”

“…I will have some, thank you.”

She blushed and got back to her seat before accepting her part of food and tea.
Her stony expression started to loosen up a little as she enjoyed her sandwich.
Food, what a great magic.

“Mirta is not only a beautiful leader, but also a great cook.”

“That’s exactly why we’re proud of her. She’s also a crybaby, and she’s so soft-hearted that she’d heal even injured demi-humans.”

“Aren’t you known as soft-hearted, Takumi?!”

Mirta waved her hands in denial, her face red from embarrassment, while Lise inclined her head and thought.

“Healing their injuries…? Holy magic could do that, but magic cannot.”

“Eh? I-Is that so?”

“Yes. If somebody tried to heal injuries or illness with magic, both caster and patient’s magic power would mix and react… in the worst-case scenario, it would discharge spontaneously. That is why people cannot heal others with magic.”

“Still, that does not happen with holy magic, right?”

“Actually, holy magic is a collection of complex law formulas. Essentially, it is used on a subject who does not know magic in order to use its magic power to heal itself.”

While talking, she wrote something on a scrap of paper.

“A law formula is the piling of figures, symbols, and rules… If you touched one like this, you would activate it. This is how holy magic works.”

“So… using the users’ magic power without mixing different people’s prevents magic from discharging?”

“Exactly. Healing the injuries on your own body by yourself is not a problem, that is why magic knights are obliged to know how to do it, but holy magic is used mainly for common people. Now, let me show you an example.”

She wrote something on some paper again, then walked to Kunon.

“Wolfie, let me borrow your body for a little.”

“Eeeh?! My body and soul are broken right now…”

“I want to heal you… but this binding magic might be a bother.”

Lise touched where the red light was coming from, and the magic shattered in tiny fragments that vanished into the air along with the sound of breaking glass.
Kunon found herself falling the next moment and landed on the ground.

“Ouchie…! I couldn’t break free with my strength, but you could destroy it so easily…?!”

“Actually, I negated its structure with an inverse law formula. Now, if you please.”

With that, Lise placed the paper she was still holding on Kunon’s chest, and the written symbols entered her body.

“…Why doesn’t my butt hurt anymore?”

“Because I used my holy magic. Instant recover.”

Elsa, who watched the entire scene, raised her voice in awe.

“That was truly wonderful to see!”

“…This is normal for me.”

“That is exactly why you became Crest’s Archbishop! Analyzing something from afar and preparing a counter is a thing, but writing a healing law formula on the spot is something that the average holy knight would never be able to do!”

“I, uuh… Thank you.”

Lise scratched her cheek in embarrassment when Elsa lowered her head in respect.
Healing was a holy knight’s strong point.
They had to grasp the nature of every injury and create law formulas that could cure them as fast as possible.
What the archbishop just did was something hard even for a skilled holy knight.

“I will go back to my lesson now, so please, continue your training.”

“Eh? I-I guess we can stop here, though…”

Kunon tried to get away while shaking her head, but her action was futile as she was soon restrained once again.

“I came up with this binding spell. It should be stronger than Elsa’s, which is an all-purpose type, and will wear off after a certain time. Do your best.”

“How can I?! I might be tough, but I also have a limit! Ahhh~! No, Captain! Not my tail! I can’t handle that!”

Lise ignored Kunon’s cries and returned to the others while wearing a deadpan expression.

“This is holy magic’s healing.”

“Woah! That was fantastic! My magic takes a lot more than that to work!”

Mirta grabbed the archbishop’s hands in the spur of her excitement.

“Lise, might you teach me more about holy magic?”

“I do not mind it, but… are you really interested in it?”

“Yes, but how can I say it… I studied magic with Elsa when we were little, and I used my power to heal others. It worked just fine so far, but it would be a real problem if my magic were to discharge and I hurt someone.”

Then, Mirta wore a wry smile.

“Hurting someone with a power that could help them is… really a sad thing to do, is it not?”

The next moment, her smile became sunny. After watching it for a few instants, Lise closed her distance with Mirta and hugged her.

“L-Lise? Are you okay?”

“…You are a kind person, Mirta. Almost like Her Majesty.”

After squeezing her for a little while, she let go of her.

“Mh, now I am satisfied. You were pleasantly soft.”

“P-Pleasantly soft? Does that mean I gained more pounds?!”

“No, given where she hugged you, she was referring to your–what’s up, Lise? Stop glaring at me.”

“…Lecherous slave merchants like you should just die.”

Discontent depicted her young face, but as soon as she brought a cookie to her mouth, her expression loosened again. Her anger didn’t last long.

“So, how can we deal with magic?”

“Right… if Kunon cannot stop the casting, we will be in a big disadvantage.”

“Use magic tools. They require very little magic power, and if you need it, I can tune them for you.”

Takumi cocked his head.

“No, that won’t work. We must defeat them without using magic.”

He had a reason to pick a fight with Kiad at the banquet.

“The nobles are privileged also because of their potential in battle. That’s why Richtert’s magic is known as the mightiest.”

Nobles kept researching so that people could admire them and count on their power.
To destroy that belief, people had to witness magic’s defeat.

“If we use any magic-related trick to defeat them, people will think that magic is unbeatable, and everything will be ruined.”

“…Still, fighting a magic knight without magic or magic tools is simply a suicide.”

Lise’s face clouded.

“The Fortesea family directs Richtert’s magic chivalry. Winning against them is impossible.”

Her words alone were enough to give up any hope.
Takumi observed her before shifting his gaze to meet Karin’s, then smiled.

“If it’s impossible, why don’t we make it possible?”

“Well, if my Master wants it, I should abide to his will… I can probably silence all of those peasants who think we elves are powerless.”

“Do it, then. Show them that elves aren’t just good-looking.”

“…I do not think I need to do that, though.”

Karin faced elsewhere while huffing her embarrassment, and Mirta wore her usual worried expression.

“…Are you going to be okay? You will have a handicap, and Kunon is at a disadvantage against magic. Also, Karin is not very used to fighting…”

“Yeah, don’t worry.”

“Yes, do not worry.”

“How can you two be that positive?!”

Takumi waved his hand nonchalantly.

“Mirta, I only asked for a handicap.”

“And… what do you mean with that?”

“You will see. Now, the problem is me.”

“Eh? But you will not take part in the match, right?”

“Try to think about Kiad’s personality. If one of my servants defeats one of his, don’t you think he’ll directly challenge me?”

“I… can see that coming.”

Takumi did his best to make Kiad hate him.
Under normal circumstances, being defeated in front of everyone would show how unbeatable was magic.
Still, winning against Kiad was possible… if they prepared the right measures.

“No matter how much I struggle, I’m still an average human. I won’t win a fist fight against him, let alone a magic one.”

“Oh, right, you are more or less a normal human…”

“I often forget about that too, Karin…”

“…Girls, is that really the first thing you wanted to say right now?”

He sighed deeply and then fixed his expression.

“Also, I’m not a normal human.”

After glancing at the elf, he kept talking.

“I don’t have a teensy bit of magic in me.”

“That cannot be… Magic formulas and magic are within us the moment we come to life. You might have a very small amount, but not having any at all is–”

“I speak the truth. If I had some, I could activate any magic tool, but they are all the same junk for me.”

Being interrupted in a serious tone, Lise fell silent.
Takumi wasn’t born in that world.
He reincarnated into it asking to preserve his former world’s body, which meant that, exactly like in his old world, he hadn’t magic within him.
The Goddess was right. He was the weakest existence in this world.
Not having magic in a place where it was a keystone was practically suicidal.
If humans hadn’t had magic, they would’ve surely been inferior to demi-humans, considering the gap between their physical prowess.

“It doesn’t really bother me. There aren’t many chances of things going awry, and I’m sure that Kiad will step out himself.”

He showed a bright expression, but Lise cast her gaze down in deep thinking.
She squeezed her hand, and, after a few seconds, raised her face again.

“…Slave merchant, you should–”

“Takumiii! My butt huuurts!”

Kunon jumped on him while crying, cutting the archbishop’s words.
Elsa was approaching them from behind with a satisfied expression plastered on her face.

“Eheheh… I knew it, Wolf girl! Usually, the usage of magic is forbidden, but the guards are all nobles’ blood relatives! Never forget that they could even use magic tools to seize you!”

“Uuuh…! Seeing you this carefree is confusing…!”

“I only wanted to show you that, but I guess you did not grasp it right away… Let’s try another time, shall we?”

The guard’s smile made Kunon shriek and hide behind her Master.

“Takumi! Please, save me from her!”

“What, Takumi, do you want to be spanked too?”

“Thank you, but I’m not into that kind of stuff, and neither I’m trying to shield her.”

“A-Are you leaving me behind?! Master, are you really leaving me behind like this?!”

“Don’t make it sound so bad. It’s something necessary.”

He started to tap on his temple while smiling boldly.

“Go have fun with Elsa for some more time.”

“No, pleeease…! C-Captain, stop dragging me away! And what’s with that happy face?!”

Elsa grabbed Kunon from the nape and resumed their training while smiling joyfully. Once the wolf’s screams of pain started to resound again from the barrier, the others pressed their hands together and said a prayer in silence.

“Sorry for interrupting. You were trying to say something before, right?”

He tried to push Lise to finish her last sentence, but she remained silent, her body moving ever so slightly.
He was about to speak again, but then noticed her closed eyes and soft breathing.

“She… fell asleep, huh?”

“Let her be. She’s still a child, but has to think about a lot of stuff, which isn’t very easy on her body and spirit… I guess she hit her limit.”

Mirta and Takumi talked in whispers, and she gently moved Lise’s head over her lap.
Seeing the child sleeping that soundly, Takumi nodded.

“Karin, bring me the paperwork from my desk.”

Probably guessing the meaning behind his request, she smiled.

“Roger. I will hit the slums and get right back.”

“Eh? If you want that, you can go take it from Gaitsu…”

Takumi interrupted Mirta by raising his index finger.

“I’ve been gone for a while, so I’d better return to my main job.”

“…Oh, that was what you meant.”

She probably reached Karin’s same conclusion as she joined her hands happily.

“Can I help you?”

“Sure… could you bake some sweets? Put them in a basket and do more than enough for two people. Oh, and try to maintain them warm, please.”

“Leave it to me. Will you take care of Lise?”

“Yeah. I’ll just read a book, so make her use my lap for now.”

After moving and adjusting Lise beside him, Mirta hurried back to the kitchen.
Then, Takumi took his coat off, and as he was about to put it over the child…

“Sorry…”

…she whispered and kept sleeping soundly without hints of waking up.
He couldn’t understand if she muttered that while dreaming, or if it came directly from her subconscious, and neither he could grasp who she apologized to.
That was exactly why Takumi lifted his book and fell into deep thinking.


<Prev | Index | Next>

3+

Guild Master – Chapter 30

The Holy sword of light and the secret name

After Cody Blancneige finished to talk with Aileen, he departed to the southwest boundary in secret.

Silver mug had many bases scattered through the Kingdom of Albein and its capital Alvinas, and all of them were connected by Transfer Magic circles, which could be installed only by infusing a specific kind of magic within magic crystals. They were found in ancient ruins, and although they could be used without the need for complex procedures, the principles behind their functions weren’t clear.

That’s why the crystals were so valuable that they couldn’t be bought with money. Silver Mug actively explored many ancient ruins and labyrinths, and managed to obtain eight of them, one of which was installed in an inn nearby the southwest border.
That was Cody’s destination.

Only the vice-general and armored knight Marlo knew that he was leaving the capital, and Cody made sure that his maid delivered a letter to the chivalry heads to warn them of his absence due to poor health conditions, but no one knew where he was specifically going or the reason of his depart. He was afraid that people would get suspicious, so he acted as quickly as possible due to Lang’s words: ‘the first contact – meaning Velvechia’s raid – will be tomorrow’.

Cody reached Silver Mug’s main base and followed Verlaine to the wine cellar. She removed a bottle from a shelf and activated the mechanism hidden behind it.

The next moment, the picture framed on the wall of a girl drinking slid away, revealing a hidden door.

“I see… This is like a secret back door.”
“When my Master is in the bar, he acts like a sort of gatekeeper, although we do not have reason to worry. Still, I doubt this kind of trick would have had any effect on me, back when I was still a Demon Lord.”
“Your Black Magic was hard to handle even for me. You made me bleed for the first time in my life.”
“And despite being covered with blood, you never tried to kill me, although you could have sliced me into tiny pieces if only you unleashed your full potential.”

That was the first time they talked about their past battle. As a barman and a guest, they normally couldn’t converse like that.

“Dick had already thought about what to do after the expedition ended. He understood that if we had killed you, your minions would have wreaked havoc on Albein, moved by hatred and revenge.”
“…You stayed in my kingdom for three months. I thought you were going to put in disarray the few forces I had left, but Master was actually watching the state of my citizens, huh…? He grasped their conditions and train of thought.”
“At first glance, he was preparing to assault the castle, but when we noticed that he wasn’t actually serious about it, sometimes we even ended up fighting. Still, he kept explaining that we needed time to achieve the best result.”

Verlaine thought it was impossible for a thirteen years old boy to think and act that way. Dark elves lived for a long time, but she still managed to take the place of the precedent demon lord in her twenties. Still, wasn’t her master even more amazing than her?

“That result was only natural for my Master. No matter what, he has always been able to achieve what he set his mind on. That is exactly why I have this doubt… why has he not noticed about you yet?”
“You said that noble girls look forward to being with me… but you are none to talk.”
“It is not the gender that attracts people. Female braves are said to also be craved by noble girls, and seeing them living in debauchery is quite common. Even among my subordinates were individuals attracted only by those who shared their same gender.”
“I am sure he already thought that. Maybe it would’ve been better if we never met in the past.”
“The members of this guild love Master dearly, but he can hardly talk casually with anyone. You have that privilege, and I would be grateful if it will stay the same in the future. Your face is almost reaching the features befitting a young adult… Now, let us end our conversation here.”

Verlaine entered the hidden door and invited Cody in.
A crystal the size of a fist was floating in the middle of the room, and on the ground beneath it was painted a complex magic circle.

“So, this is the magic circle for teleportation… Can anybody use it?
“Not exactly. Only people with magic scores above twenty thousand can make this work.”
“He researched even that…?”
“My Master can draw magic circles that can be activated only by people with a certain amount of magical power, as they have to overcome the limiter that he created by inverting the installed Support Magic, which basically compresses the activator’s power. You fulfill those requirements.”
“No, I always leave magic related things to others. I can only use one kind of magic, and never bother to remember any other type. If possible, I would like you to activate it for me.”

Verlaine understood that he wasn’t being modest, but was actually speaking the truth. Only one type of spirit could be perceived by him, and he never used magic to summon elemental ones.

Cody swore his fealty to a single spirit: the one that had brought Verlaine on her knees.

“You will be teleported nearby the border’s walls. I find improbable that Velvechia’s army will pass through them, though.”
“This battle will end before that happens, as this is my field of expertise. I only need to see them clearly… and only a Demon Lord like you would wait for fighting hand-to-hand.”
“Can I say it is more glorifying…? Should I rejoice of having lived through a close combat against you? No, I should probably be ashamed of being shown mercy.”
“I do not think so. The five of us together managed to defeat you.”

Cody showed a clear smile as he held his hand out, and Verlaine, taking her glove off, shook it.

“I will pray for your victory. When Master comes back, report to him what happened, please.”

Then, the former Demon Lord activated the magic circle, and a dazzling light painted the hero’s vision white.

When it subdued, he found himself in front of a man dressed as a mage, and guessed that he was a member of Silver Mug.

“We received directives from our Guild Master. Will you lend us a helping hand, Sir General?”
“Yes, but I have a favor to ask you. May you call me… ‘Masked Savior’?”
“Forgive my rudeness… I cannot believe he thought that far into it…”

Cody was wearing a red overcoat to hide his silver armor, and a yellow mask to hide his face and camouflage his voice. The man in front of him observed the attractive knight with his eyes carved by wrinkles and a smile on his face.

◆◇◆

A few hours later, a flashy masked figure appeared at the boundary stronghold. It didn’t answer to the queries of guards as it jumped with unearthly dexterity on the edge of the walls to reach the summit of the watchtower.

“Who the hell are you?! Get down from there!”
“This isn’t a place for everyone… Woah! W-We’re under attack!”
“A huge army is coming from west… T-That’s Velvechia’s…!”

As the soldiers started to panic, Cody confirmed the advance of the enemy army on the plains lit by the dusk.

There were roughly fifty thousand units, between chivalry, infantry and siege weapons. Even refusing Vinceburg’s help, their numbers were still noteworthy.

In the northern part of Exrea, Albein had many granary and mines of ore, but Velvechia knew that there was a piece of land that was run from north to south by a large river, which made the entire zone rich of water even in its underground.

That was what they were aiming for, as water was so precious for them that they had started to steal it from each other.
So far, the Republic of Velvechia counted nine ethnic groups, and Garaba, the one that unified them thanks to its mighty chivalry, imposed a military dictatorship.

Still, they were exploited many times by the nearby western country ruled by an S rank Demon Lord, who once raided them and incinerated one of their villages.
That day, Velvechia’s citizens understood that their country was bound to fall.

But the Demon Lord ceased the hostilities right away and asked for tributes, as he didn’t attack to destroy but to plunder.

Then, while drying their own resources, Velvechia finally assembled the black-armored chivalry, and instead of attacking the demonic region that was oppressing them, and would’ve probably annihilated them in return, they started the plan to conquer human regions.

Both generals and soldiers believed it was the right choice, so they thought that conquering Albein wasn’t impossible.

But they didn’t know.

They didn’t know that Albein earned peace after defeating the SSS rank Demon Lord that loomed over them.

Vinceburg kept it a secret and told them only about how convenient for them the attack would’ve been. Still, Velvechia didn’t trust other countries.

So, how could they think about having any chance of victory? That question didn’t lit anger within Cody, but pity.
At the same time, the invaders didn’t want to waste their lives in vain.

“Guards of Albein! Do not move from here!”

Cody’s voice sounded like another one’s, and echoed in the stronghold with overwhelming power.

“Excuse me?! I won’t fight an army that big!”
“L-Let’s get outta here! We’ll be fine if we run away!”

Some soldiers started to flee from the stronghold, but Cody asked the Silver Mug members that brought him there to seize anyone who tried to get away.

There mustn’t be desertion among Albein’s knights. The general of the army was sorry to hear such things from his subordinates, but he would’ve fixed their behavior later.

“Velvechia… go back now. Even you will find the strength to save your people one day.”

Dick Silver would never leave a nearby country in that condition to its own destiny.
He would win the war and save everyone even without stepping outside his bar.

Cody firmly believed in him and his strength, which had led him in front of Velvechia in that very moment. As dawn broke the night behind the masked warrior, a single drop fell down his white cheek.

Why was that?

“Am I finally one of your pieces now, Dick…?”

Those words never reached anyone.
Now that his back was blanched in sunlight, he held out his hands while chanting in silence.

If he hadn’t lied, how would things be right now?

If I was honest from the start… would have you seen me as a strange woman?

Maybe he would’ve been hated if he was nastier than Mylarka and show openly his distrust for men.

Or would have Dick opened to him no matter what happened?

Now that I think of it, this is stupid… People like you are really…

Without minding the tears streaming down his face, he broke out those long instants of consideration, and decided to pronounce the name that his parents bestowed on him.

“I plea thee, O ghost blade Laguna! Grant me, Cordelia Blancneige, your Light Blade!”

Cordelia used Cody as a false name since she earned her status of SSS rank adventurer.

She always summoned her sword in silence during the expedition, and never said her real name once. All of that only for her lie’s sake.

Ghost blades were special spirits that were unique in the world, as opposed to others.
The first time that Cody… no, that Cordelia had signed a contract with one, she chose the ghost blade.

Its only power was to summon the Light Blade, the sword with light attribute that looked exactly like light itself, that she used to fight Verlaine.

A normal sword brings forth all its potential no matter its shape when used in close combat, but a sword purely made of light could even…

–––Light Blade – Horizon Bullet.

The sword’s shape changed into two light bullets and vanished.

Almost at the same time, Velvechia’s flag was pierced and almost destroyed by one of them, and the other one zipped right past the helmet of the army’s supreme commander.

Thanks to the ghost blade’s help, Cordelia could aim and shoot at any distance the light could reach and she could confirm by sight. That meant that her range was theorically endless. Also, the ghost blade’s light didn’t refract like normal light.

“Look! Velvechia’s army is… panicking?!”

The marching army started to slow down. Only another minute and they would’ve reached the walls, but now they were still like stones.

“They… stopped?! Did that masked guy do something…?!”
“Impossible! What could he possibly do from this distance?!”
“B-But I saw something… Ugh! The sun’s too bright! I can’t see!”

If they recognized the Light Blade, they would have guessed the real identity of the masked man. As Cordelia was growing nervous listening to the Albein’s soldiers’ comments, she thought that the army in front of her wasn’t going to lose their fighting spirit that easily,

–––But she didn’t expect them to be that aghast.

“They’re… retreating…”
“H-How is it… even possible…?”

They bet everything on their attack just to leave like that? It was inconceivable for her.

She didn’t expect her power to be that terrifying.
When she made a vow to the ghost blade and earned its power, even her brother looked at her with dread in his eyes. An SS rank adventurer scared by a five-year-old little girl.

She then caught her breath while thinking about what Dick would’ve said in that case, and raised her voice to the confused soldiers.

“I shot and grazed their supreme commander’s helmet, hence, they have retreated! But listen, soldiers! The Masked Saviors won’t come to help you anytime! Grow nerves of steel, prepare to be attacked again, and keep practicing every day!”

As she worried to have revealed her usual tone of general, she jumped down the watchtower and descended on the walls.

“Masked saviors…? I-Insane… Who the hell are they…?!”
“How could he aim at the supreme commander’s helmet from there…?! Look, their flag is torn!”
“He did that…? That’s inhuman…!”

Velvechia’s flag was just a tattered piece of cloth now. Cordelia thought that they would’ve tried to use reinforcements to restart their march, but her plan somewhat worked anyway.

“Later I will tell you what to do. No matter how long will take an enemy to come, slacking is not good. Prepare for some strict training.”

She was alone while leaving the stronghold, and a clear smile stretched on her face.

After walking for a while, she met with Silver Mug’s members, and the man who welcomed her after being teleported showed her the fleeing soldiers that were bribed by Lang.

“Wonderful job. Unluckily, none of us saw what happened from here, but we heard that the enemy army retreated.”
“Yes, thank you. Dick’s guild is really filled with competent people… Are they all the traitors?”
“There might be some deserter who fled in advance, but we will probably find them soon.”
“No, later I want the men in that stronghold to undergo some severe training. Then, they will probably not betray their kingdom ever again. I and my direct subordinates are used to prepare harsh training sessions for our soldiers.”

Hearing Cordelia’s words, the presents pictured one of those sessions in their minds, but didn’t feel any sympathy for the soldiers in the slightest. Her flaming spirit, although everyone kept thinking she was a man right now, could eradicate even a legion of B rank adventurers and above of their will of fighting.

As she thought about how to bring the arrested soldiers to the capital, she used the magic circle again and preceded them, and then returned to her house.
Only a few hours had passed since the sun started to illuminate the sky.


<Prev | Index | Next>

4+

New Game – Chapter 28

The way to open up the cage – Part 1

The next day, Elsa’s condition finally improved, so she invited Takumi and the others to the Fairstadt’s mansion, which wasn’t any bigger than other nobles’ estates, but it looked more refined.
Fresh water gushed out from the fountains and the gardeners’ diligence was evident, given how magnificent and well maintained the garden was. Even the stone balustrades presented attractive patterns carved in them.
Still, Suzuran’s members weren’t invited to sightseeing the place.

“Sorry for bothering you and using also your training field.”

“Hahaha, do not mention it… My subordinates told me to be your friend, so now this is the only place where I can be myself…”

Clad in plain clothes and hugging her knees, Elsa stared in front of her with empty eyes, while Kunon was jumping around euphorically.

“Captain, Captain! Can I really go all out in here?!”

“Mh? Oh, yes. Magic tools are used to deploy a magic barrier surrounding the training field, so no matter how hard you will hit or how explosive your magic will be, you won’t damage anything outside this place.”

Elsa raised her head lightly and peered at the sky, which was distorting slightly due to the barrier.
Nobles strove for magic, researching and practicing to control it, and they were obliged to install magic tools that always kept active barriers to avoid accidents like damaging the surrounding areas due to spontaneous discharges or magic going wild.
That’s exactly why Elsa said it was better to practice in a safe place, and also the reason why they were invited there.
Still, Karin frowned looking up at the sky, a light shade of uneasiness clouding her face.

“I am not fond of these barriers. They do not look very sturdy…”

“Fear not. They were made by–”

“I made them myself. These barriers are unbreakable.”

Lise’s silver twin-tails swayed in the air, and Takumi’s gaze shifted between her and Mirta, who was holding the archbishop’s hand, before facing the child.

“…What are you doing here?”

“I am no ‘you.’ My name is Lise.”

“No, I mean, is it okay for you to be with us?”

Remembering what happened last time, he lowered his tone of voice, but she kept her usual, indifferent expression.

“Yes, there are no problems. Last time, I did not tell anybody that I would go out, but today, Lord Kiad gave me his permission.”

“That’s great, but he hurt you.”

“I am Fortesea’s guest, the holy knight who invented and still researches the law formula. Probably Lord Kiad acted like that to warn me that such things should never happen again, considering how important I am.”

“I see… So, you got spanked like a child.”

“…Well, my age is still what it is. Also, Lord Kiad apologized, so you do not have to worry any further about me.”

Takumi peered into her eyes, trying to perceive what her heart really wanted to convey, then let out a little sigh and smiled.

“That’s good to hear. Now… Mirta, why are you with her?”

“Err… I was going to meet with Jill in the upper part, but then I found her nearby our headquarter. She looked like she was lost, so I invited her to tag along with me.”

“Exactly. Mirta is gentle and graceful like a goddess.”

The child didn’t let go of her hand while nodding.

“And… what about Jill?”

“Well… since Gaitsu’s new trading routes are not going very well, Jill departed from the capital in the morning to go help him.”

“…What a bad timing. I was planning to make him teach Karin…”

Jill was usually by Mirta’s side as her assistant, but when he worked under Vatel, he was mainly a fighter and attender in trading meetings. That’s why he was well known among their business partners.

“And here I thought Jill from Dämmerung could be a huge help…”

Demi-humans hardly used magic, since they usually possessed a small amount of it inside their bodies. Still, even though they couldn’t use it, they had to know about it.
That’s why Takumi planned to make Elsa, who knew a lot about Richtert’s magic, and Jill, who knew a lot about foreign magic, teach Karin and Kunon, but now things took an unexpected turn.
The slave-merchant started to wreck his brain to fix the problem… but Lise interrupted him by pulling his clothes.

“If you need help with magic, I can help you.”

“…Really?”

“Yes. The Goddess says to always repay our debts, and Mirta accompanied me here.”

“How honest of you… but holy magic and common magic are pretty different, right?”

“Yes, they are. Their principles and usage are different, and they bring different results for medical treatments, barriers, and so on. I had to research magic to create law formulas and magic tools, so I am quite knowledgeable about it.”

She puffed her chest pridefully.

“That makes me an expert of magic. Praise the genius standing in front of you.”

“Woah, super cool! What a genius!”

“…Are you making fun of me?”

“I never meant to. I wouldn’t lose the chance of being taught by the Archbishop herself.”

Seeing her cracking a smile, Takumi turned around and looked at the others.

“Elsa, stand up and fight with Kunon.”

“You heard what I said before? We are going all out.”

“Sure. Imagine it as a real challenge. You will even fight with real swords.”

“Then… let me vent a bit.”

Elsa rose on her feet and unsheathed her sword.

“So, Wolf girl, are you confident in your strength?”

Kunon gazed at her with half-opened eyes and started to put her strength into her legs.

“Get ready, I won’t go easy on you!”

The ground under her cracked as she kicked it and jumped forward.
She wanted to finish the battle in a single strike, using her incredible speed to strike before Elsa could react, but…

“…That won’t work on me.”

A light whisper reached Kunon’s ears before Elsa hit her with the sword’s handle.
She blocked the blow and distanced herself as her face warped slightly: no ordinary human had that kind of strength.

“…Is this your magic, Captain?”

“How quick-witted. As expected from a seasoned fighter like you.”

Glaring down the demi-human, Elsa calmly prepared to use her sword.

“The magic of Fairstadt I use is called ‘Fairness’. No matter how quick or strong my foe is, my power will always match its.”

Richtert’s magic wasn’t used to simply produce fire pillars or ice lumps, but was composed of many unique strands that were researched, polished and passed down from the oldest of time.
That was why Richtert’s magic was the mightiest.

“You are not the only target, though. If I want to be faster, I will use it on the wind, and if I want to be tougher, I will use it on my blade. This magic is exclusive to my bloodline.”

Elsa wasn’t facing Kunon as the Captain of the Guards, but as a magic knight.
Finally understanding the situation, Kunon grinned, showing her canines.

“This isn’t boring like the last one I saw… Interesting! Lemme enjoy more, more, mooore of it!”

She looked crazy as she kicked the ground again, but Elsa easily warded her off with her sword.

“Wolf-men may have amazing abilities… but they are nothing in front of my magic.”

“Sure… But I’m the only one who knows my strength. I just need to find the right way!”

With that, Kunon swung her arm down and hit the ground, which cracked and let flying dust and debris in the air that concealed Elsa’s vision.

“Tch… What an infamous move…”

Elsa clicked her tongue, and when she cut through the cloud of dust, a golden color reflected in her eyes.

“If I go all out, not using weapons is better.”

Kunon kicked Elsa’s sword, completely smashing it, producing high-pitched clinks whenever a fragment landed on the ground.
Taking advantage of it, the demi-human continued her assault raising her fist, but the opponent didn’t show any fear.

“Let me warn you, too.”

Kunon tried to punch her on the face, but her fist stopped in front of it, like she had hit an invisible wall.

“I never said I can use only one kind of magic.”

She didn’t have time to process those words as a red light shone from under her feet, and the next moment, something restrained her limbs while also raising her in midair.

“What the–Captain, Binding Magic is unfair! And why doesn’t it come off!”

Kunon was struggling with all her might, but she couldn’t break free.
Seeing that, Elsa nodded satisfied.

“Every noble family in Richtert uses its own magic… and using defensive magic tools when fighting with magic is just common sense. Binding Magic is a peculiarity of guards.”

Elsa showed her the bracelet coiled around her wrist.

“Now, Wolf girl… you always give me a really hard time…”

She started approaching her prey with a wicked smile on her face, and Kunon, feeling the danger, raised and stiffened her ears and tail.

“T-Thank you for always taking care of me!”

“Yes, I always do… Like when I had to search for you at the banquet, or when I had to pay for your food, or when I had to overlook the things you destroyed… The list is quite long, you know?”

Towering over Kunon, who was shivering and almost crying in fear, she smiled like an angel while veins were popping on her arms and head.

“I will now beat some discipline into you, since your Master never did.”

For some time, the only two sounds that could be heard were Elsa’s laughter and Kunon’s screams.


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New Game – Chapter 27

The birdie that doesn’t chirp – Part 3

The approaching twilight started to paint the sky red.
As promised, Takumi and his comrades were bringing Lise home, and were currently walking in the streets after descending from the gondola.

“Thank you for accompanying me home.”

The archbishop bowed her head, and Takumi shook his hand.

“I always keep my promises. I’m sorry I interrupted your research.”

“I do not mind. If I could, I would have loved to have also a taste of Mirta’s dessert.”

“Yeah… she fled in a hurry for the ‘puppet show’.”

Mirta was glad that Lise enjoyed the food, and started to prepare even a dessert, but she noticed that it was getting late, and darted off without finishing it.

“The doll maker had finished his job, but she couldn’t fail the play.”

“I would have never expected that you worked even as doll makers and as a theatrical company.”

“Ah, well, we plan to do a bit of everything.”

“…You are strange people. I heard that you originally were an illegal company of the slums, so I thought you only did scary jobs.”

Karin wore a complicated expression while looking at Lise’s slightly shining eyes.

“…Takumi, do you really want her to believe that?”

“Why not? She didn’t directly ask, anyway.”

The two talked in whispers, so that the child couldn’t hear.
He used a code.
The puppet show was actually a delivery of smuggled goods, the doll maker was the deal, and the puppets were the method of trading, which consisted in hiding the things within a false corpse in a coffin.
Vatel came up with all of this, and only Suzuran members could understand the real meaning of those words.
Karin was sorry to see that Lise was trusting them, but this type of job wasn’t something that a child like her had to know about. Although the corpse they used wasn’t real, she would have shown her indignation and scolded them for using such blasphemous methods.

“So, Lise, how was your first time in the slums?”

After their meal, Takumi and the others took her for a walk.
She couldn’t see the slums from the cathedral or the castle because it laid behind the top and middle layers. That’s why, time permitting, she wanted to visit as many places as she could.

“Now you’ve seen something you can’t just look from up there.”

“…Yes. I saw the embodiment of hell on earth.”

Remembering what she saw, Lise let out a deep, heavy sigh.

“Plenty of drunk people sleeping in their own vomit and excrement in broad daylight… Stallholders and seamen randomly fighting among each other while being surrounded by people who instigated them to violence… Children taking advantage of that to steal goods… Are the slums always this chaotic?”

“Nah, usually it’s even worse.”

“Right. The sleeping ones would yell at the fighting ones to shut up, and things end up in huge brawls.”

“Yep! Then the guards join in and quell everything!”

“…Admittedly, I can easily imagine it.”

The archbishop’s tone was resigned, but her expression somewhat relaxed as her gaze grew distant, like she was seeing a faraway land.

“This is the worst, most awful place I have ever seen…”

Then, her voice became a whisper.

“…but I cannot help being envious of it.”

She lived in a completely different world, and although she was still admiring the townscape around her, she ended up lowering her gaze.

“You are all so free. Even the pervert bird and the sultry drakonid are, despite being demi-humans, so existences that should not be able to have fun and be that noisy given the hostile environment surrounding them.”

Her lips bent slightly into a little smile as she remembered the carefree behavior of that duo.

“The people living in the slums are poor and struggle to survive, pursuing the few choices they have… still, they have not lost the freedom in their hearts.”

Her answer took a philosophical direction while her smile became slightly bigger.

“Seeing people acting like that was… really nice.”

Resignation and a dim shade of envy painted her face, along with hope.
Seeing her, Takumi rubbed her head.

“If you’re envious, why don’t you also try to act like us?”

“Because… I cannot do it.”

Her words leaked out her lips as tears streamed down her eyes.

“The caged birdie… will never be allowed to chirp freely.”

The moment she stared down while balling her hands, an unexpected voice reached her.

“You catch up quickly, Lise Crest.”

Her entire body started to tremble.

“How dare this repulsing trash take my guest for a walk?”

A thick arrogance permeated those words, and soon, the speaker stepped out.

“Lise… we couldn’t find you in the cathedral and grew quite worried.”

“…I am sorry, Lord Kiad.”

Seeing her apologetically bowing, he snorted.

“Now… the thugs that kidnapped the archbishop deserve an exemplary punishment…”

A simple gesture of his hand, and a lot of soldiers stepped out while drawing their swords. They were the pride of Richtert: the magic knights.

“P-Please, wait a minute! They did not do anything wrong! I–”

“Who said you could speak?”

He growled and grabbed her by her slender neck.
The child struggled in agony as her airway was being crushed.

“You are very wise despite your young age. I thought you knew your place, and you even said all that just a minute ago, but you probably weren’t educated enough…!”

He easily lifted her up and forcefully threw her away from Takumi and the others, who watched the scene without moving an inch.

“Oh, weren’t you good friends? I thought you’d try to help her.”

“…Do you really think we’d fall for a cheap provocation like that? You need to come up with something better.”

“Hah… I didn’t know trash could be intelligent. If only you tried to touch me, we’d have washed the streets with your blood.”

A crooked smile cracked on his face as he lightly prodded Lise, who was lying on the floor.

“Look what you did by taking what’s mine with you… It’s hard to see her making such a face… no one even asked for this.”

“…You have quite the status to treat her like something belonging to you.”

“I know, right? You all belong to Fortesea. And sooner or later, everything will.”

Takumi quietly listened while glaring at him.

“Lise, get up and hurry back home.”

“Yes, Lord Kiad… Thank you for sparing them.”

“Well, I must consider a plea from someone who always does what we ask. Also… I finally got something off my chest.”

He smiled sadistically in front of her, whose aching body was trembling in fear.

“We’ll see again each other in the match. Enjoy your last days, filthy trash.”

Spitting harsh words, Kiad turned on his heels and started to walk away, followed by his men and Lise, who looked at Takumi and his friends for a brief moment. A gloomy shadow was cutting her bruised face as her lips moved in silence.

I had fun.

Then, she silently walked away.

“Well done for controlling yourself, Kunon.”

“I’m not so stupid to jump into a fight without thinking of the consequences! You’re talking to a wolf, you know?! Still…”

She gripped the hilt of her black daggers and whispered in a low, guttural voice.

“…that wasn’t nice to see.”

An aura of blood-lust formed around her, while Karin flicked her hair back annoyed.

“I totally agree. Even though I’m used to see stuff like that, it still gets on my nerves.”

“Yeah, I know where you two are coming from… but now there’s something we know for sure.”

Takumi started to tap on his temple as he repeated Kiad’s words.

“Although he said they couldn’t find the archbishop in the cathedral, the rest of the city was too quiet. He didn’t mobilize the guards or his personal army to search for her, and that bragger didn’t look worried in the slightest.”

“…So, he doesn’t consider her that valuable?”

“No, in that case he wouldn’t have come all the way here. Also, he forced her to go home with violence. You know better than me who gets treated like that, don’t you?”

He used violence to bend her to his will.
Despite not being a slave, she acted in the very same way, and that meant that there was a reason she had to be like that.

“Now, how could he find us? A simple estimation of the path we were going to take wouldn’t be accurate, and he said that we were good friends with her… Almost like…”

He then stopped his finger.

“I see… that’s why that was written.”

“You mean that personal request…?”

“Yeah. It was only one sentence.”

A few days before, they received a letter.
There weren’t details of any sort in it, so they had to blindly search for information, but the only thing they found was a sentence that looked like a request of help:
The caged birdie will never be allowed to chirp freely.
Takumi kept thinking about what that could mean.

“…This isn’t an easy request.”

“Indeed… It’s the archbishop we’re talking about. Contrary to slaves or ordinary people, we can’t just kidnap her, and she can’t run away by herself either. Anyone who would help her would be considered a traitor from the country and executed.”

Being the archbishop meant having a certain authority, and also be subjected to some very strict rules.
Even running away for a short time would be difficult, since the Fortesea’s shadows might appear at any time, instilling a growing fear in the evader every day.

“She really is in a cage of steel.”

“And there’s more, right?”

“Yeah. They’re earning quite the profit from her.”

Saying that, Takumi smiled amused, and the others looked at him and did the same.

“Is it doable, Master?”

“Of course. I wondered why she acted in such a roundabout way, but now that I’ve understood it, we can act whenever we want.”

Turning on his heels, Takumi took the way back the slums while tapping on his temple.

“Karin, once we’re home, reorganize the information we’ve gathered. Kunon, you come with me. I’ll let you vent a bit.”

“…Will you let me kill that guy?”

“Something like that.”

“Really?! Yaaay! Takumi finally told me I can kill someone!”

“You know how messy things will become if you kill the capital’s top authority?”

Seeing Kunon drawing her swords and slashing the air happily, he grabbed her from her nape.

“Owww… but I wanna squash him so haaard…”

“I already told you that killing will only put an end to someone. Killing for revenge makes you fill better at first, but deep down, your heart will always search for forgiveness…”

As he scolded her, his lips bent again.

“But I’ll never forgive Kiad. I’ll not have mercy. Every single cell in his body must scream in agony and be forgotten in the darkest pit of loneliness, otherwise I won’t feel at ease.”

Lise’s aching face as she walked away flashed in front of Takumi’s pitch-black eyes again, and the words she couldn’t say out loud resounded in his ears.
I had fun.
With her image still burned into his sight, Takumi faced the others.

“It’s been a while since we got something to do in our territory. Let’s go.”

“Recently, we only had to work as a major company… I’m glad you didn’t forget about our main activity.”

“I’m perfectly fine with destroying everything!”

“Feel free to do that in the match. This time we must tell Mirta what’s going on. We need to define some details, and she knows how to do that very well.”

“Roger. How should I tell her?”

“I guess telling her directly will work just fine.”

Another smile appeared on his face.

“Let’s go save Lise Crest.”


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