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New Game – Chapter 45

Predicting the number of people – Part 3

Listina’s middle layer was extremely calm.
The citizens’ life and business prospered easily, and travelers who visited the capital were left agape by the beauty and complexity of the waterway.
None of the residents minded the abundant water that flowed through the city, which was built at the right distance from the sea not to get eroded by the salty breeze.
However, every place has their shadows.

The middle layer housed the prisons for sinners.
They were built in a corner far from people, in the shadows of the upper layer, as everyone thought they were an eyesore. Only a few had to walk by it and bear such an ugly sight.
Takumi was now prisoned in there…

“Frooom the forest of the siiilent lake shooore~!”

…while singing a discordant song. The smell of mould pricked at his nostrils.
The provisional bed he laid on was clattering loudly as he rolled over it, worsening even more that noisy cacophony.

“SHUT UP! STOP SINGING SHIT AND MAKING THIS NOISE!”

“YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY!”

The two guards on the other side of the door roared and Takumi did as they asked. Then, he started kicking the bed’s floorboard.
He was bored.

“Do you even understand where you are?! Has getting caught gone to your head?!”

“I’m going to face Richtert’s worst trial and the Inquisition caught me. I don’t care when it’s happening, so I’d rather get outta here as soon as I can.”

The guards burst in a scornful laughter, and Takumi stopped being noisy.

“The only thing that’s waiting you outside is death.”

“Your body will be torn to pieces along with any human dignity. Going through that trial will etch the real meaning of regret on your memory.”

“Really? Don’t hold yourself, then.”

He got back to kicking the bed incessantly the next moment.

“For Filia’s sake, GIVE IT A REST! All the prisoners who get here are nuts, dammit!”

“All? So you know the guy who was here before me?”

“Huh? I don’t know much. I’ve been the head of the guards in this prison for some time, then I left but couldn’t find any job, so I came back as a regular guard.”

The man tilted his head, his grizzled hair in full sight along with his bored face.
Takumi slowly got on his feet.

“Can you tell me more about him? About the guy who was here before me.”

“I said I don’t know much.”

“I don’t care how much you know, help me kill some time. I’m not loud when I listen.”

Takumi’s deal was soon broken by the other guard, who had an unkept beard.

“Hey, stop talking to him. Lord Elvis said the only contact he can have is with the guy who brings him food.”

“Man, my ears are gonna ring forever if he keeps kicking the damn bed!”

Takumi was readying another flurry of kicks and the grizzle-haired man clicked his tongue.

“Hey, nudnik, will you really stop if I talk?”

“I’m a slave merchant, you know? I pay for worthy stuff.”

“I can’t really believe the words of scum who sells slaves… but whatever.”

He stopped briefly to organize his thoughts, then took a deep breath.

“As I said, I don’t know much. I had a few privileges when I was the head around here, but I’ve never been assigned to this division.”

“How do you know about that guy, then?”

“I could hear him. The sound echoes a lot in here, and very loud people like you can be faintly heard even from the upper floors thanks to the air venting holes.”

The man pointed at the parts of the cave that were slightly dug or open as he talked.

“I bet the nobles who had you arrested are mad at you for the noise you make. You should expect to be get a hot love call once you get outta here.”

“I got called a lot on the first day here already. Go on.”

“Well, he was a chill guy unlike you, but he always repeated the same words at night. I don’t know much about it, but he whispered stuff about the Goddess and the Hero… maybe excerpts from the Holy Text.”

“Wow… do you remember what he said?”

“Don’t be stupid, we’re talking about more than ten years ago. Also, I only heard parts of it, never heard the complete thing so I can’t tell precisely.”

He shook his head as if to say to give him a break.
Takumi cast his gaze on the ground and fell in deep thought.

“Oh, right. I heard a rumor when I left this job.”

“A rumor…?”

“Yeah, about what happened fifteen years ago. You know, the accident that shook the entire country. I heard that the one who killed the former Queen and abducted the princess was imprisoned here. Maybe he was the guy who was in this cell before you, and the inquisition had all the reasons to punish him—”

“Do not talk to that man. My order was clear, was it not?”

A low and glacial voice echoed through the place, interrupting the man.
Tac, tac; the noise of a cane striking the ground drew closer, and the grizzle-haired man slowly turned to face the sound’s way.
An old man was approaching them with a gaze so sharp it could’ve cut people to pieces.
The guards panicked a little and waited, their bodies stiff like stone.

“L-Lord Elvis…! Why are you here?”

“I am here to see what face the man who killed my son is making as he waits for his death. But no matter that… do you have any justification for failing to execute my order?”

Elvis’ blaming tone and glare frightened the man.

“I-I beg your pardon… the prisoner started singing a terrible song out loud and kicking the bed, so I rebuked him and started a conversation to make him stop.”

The old man nodded slightly.

“I see… it must have been hard.”

The next moment, he swung his cane and hit the man on the head, who fell on the ground due to the strength of the blow.
Blood sprayed from the impact and started to stain his grizzle hair.
The other guard panicked and rushed to check the wound of his bleeding comrade.
Elvis’ stony face didn’t budge.

“I cannot stand people who pile errors up, neither I can tolerate those who fail to notice they are mistaking.”

Tac, tac; the sound of his cane striking the floor resounded all over the place.

“He sung and made that noise to warn his comrades.”

“B-But this prison is isolated from the outside! It is surrounded by walls even in its deepest layers, it’s impossible to communicate from here—”

“I see. You are like this man. Another dolt who fails to notice mistakes.”

The man closed his mouth as soon as Elvis’ cold glare pierced him.

“The sound echoes terribly in this basement, and the waterway flows through the capital’s underground. If people know it and take the right measures, it is possible to communicate from here with sound codes.”

Elvis’ gaze locked on a new target, Takumi.

“Now, even putting it aside and supposing that this man never did any of this, the two of you still piled errors you failed to notice up… you are no different from useless and inferior pigs.”

The man with the unkept beard gasped loudly when Elvis unsheathed his short sword and started closing the distance between them.

“Don’t be so in high spirits, old fart.”

The overlord turned to face the man who spat those words.

“I see. You thought I would stop if you spoke to me?”

“Of course I’ll make you stop. I don’t know how long I have to stay here, and yet you want to splash these walls and my bed with blood? Do you realize how gross would it be?”

He shrugged his shoulders while speaking in a light mood and Elvis’ face twitched almost imperceptibly.

“By the way, nice idea back there, but I was noisy only to kill some time. If it bothers you so much, why don’t you go check within the walls or the waterway?”

“I already made the arrangements for it.”

Elvis glanced at the grizzle-haired man after sheathing his short sword.

“Take that pig away and change it with another guard.”

“Y-Yes! Right away!”

The man with the unkept beard replied reverently and carried his comrade up the stairs.
Once the sound of his steps was far enough, Takumi spoke.

“So, what business does an overlord have with me?”

“I already stated it. I am here to look at your face as you wait to die… you do not look afraid at all.”

“Of course not. I have no intention to die yet.”

Takumi sat on the bed of his room and showed a fearless smile.

“I mean… our Goddess loves me, you know?”

“Interesting. If Goddess Filia truly loves you, I guess your body will be unscathed when you will be thrown in the flames of redemption.”

As far as Takumi knew, the Inquisition was like the witch-hunting guys he had read about in the history books of his former world.
They executed people in the name of piety.

The ceremony was simple: they purified the sinners by throwing them in the undying fire that burned in Filia’s cathedral.
It was like burning people at the stake, watching them scream in pain, checking them while they were still agonizing and keep torturing them in the most gruesome way… until their death.

The only difference between this process and the witch-hunting’s was that the inquisition had to admit and recognize that Filia had blessed and granted her favor upon the ‘hapless victim’ if they could come out of the fire unscathed.
They would be seen as a ‘divine proxy’ and their every action would be seen like God’s will.
Yet, none would ever overcome the queen’s influence in Richtert.

“The Hero of the past threw himself in the sacred flames to save his dear master who was caught, and not a burn scarred his body. I wonder if you can repeat that same feat.”

“Only a monster would get outta a fire without a burn. Do I look like one?”

“A monster…? I cannot deny it.”

Elvis’ arrogance faltered for an instant, but his expression returned stony as he snorted.

“The Hero was the founder of magic. He could defend himself from the sacred flames because the world was still ignorant to magic. A powerless man like you will never be able to do the same. Not now, not ever.”

“Aren’t you assuming that I absolutely can’t use magic?”

“I am not assuming it, I am sure of it. You cannot use magic, thus you had to destroy Kiad’s magic formula. Otherwise, you could not deal with the Valiant Fortesea.”

The old man turned his darkest gaze to Takumi as if to study him.

“You robed him of his magic by force, changed its property to make it conflict with itself and with him, then made it flow through his body again… this operation requires some time to be performed, so the target must be motionless.”

Takumi narrowed his eyes, his smile disappearing from his face. What made him warp his expression wasn’t why Elvis knew about it, but that he knew everything down to the juiciest details.
His words weren’t the product of a simple guess—he had fully grasped what happened.

“That guy was obnoxious, but he was still your son.”

“So? Do you think my rage comes from that? Nonsense.”

His cane stroke the ground as his eyes grew ever more heartless.

“Pigs only serve to be cut to pieces, do they not?”

Elvis’ tone of voice was indifferent, as if he was talking of something trivial.
He didn’t take Kiad out only to frame Takumi: he also wanted to see what law formula had destroyed his son’s magic formula… and he cut his own son’s body open to figure it out.
He checked every single piece of meat until the very end to make full use of what once had been his son.

“Even something that would ban you from the slums wouldn’t be that aberrant.”

“You have no right to speak. Magic is an absolute power that must be wielded only by magic knights. Magic formulas are its core. You will now go through hell because you did not finish that useless pig when you had the chance.”

His words were cold and distant. Takumi grasped well what the man was implying here—the death of my son was for the best.

“Magic, magic, magic… man, you’re so crazy you make me laugh.”

“Magic is the only hope left to humans. Our mission is to think of it as our salvation and make it our number one priority. It is essential to correct this warped world.”

“Man, I’m not laughing at that.”

Takumi’s lips curled into a smile as he raised his chin to sneer at the man in front of him.

“I’m laughing at the pitiful coward I’m talking to right now. The one who desperately hides behind a mask.”

Elvis chuckled, his body trembling a little. Those words deeply pleased him.

“Nothing but cowardice can protect a fragile heart… a coward like you has no choice but to shake in fear, no?”

A pair of pitch-black eyes dug deep within the old man’s facade to gouge something true out.

“Magic is absolute and only the strong should wield it. If we do, we can cast all the inferior beings in the pits of captivity they belong to.”

Then, the old man swung his cane and thwacked the iron grill, which let out a loud ringing sound.
His expression didn’t budge for a moment. He was the strongest, most heartless and most stern human in the city.

“You deserve my praise for keeping your head high in front of me. Yet, you should know how to choose your battles more wisely, lad.”

Thin shades of rage and murderous intents painted the eyes of the man.

“The inquisition wants you to become an example for the masses… but I changed my mind. I will carve our Valiant name deep down your soul in the name of Fortesea.”

The air trembled as overwhelming power seethed from his body. He unsheathed his short sword again.

“Fortesea? What are you talking about, old fart?”

Takumi was indifferent at his rage, his smile still plastered on his face.

“That isn’t your real surname, is it?”

Elvis froze, his eyes wide open. His glacial—almost inorganic—gaze swayed for the first time, as a sparkle of humanity shone within it.

“I did not expect you to step this deeply into the wrong territory.”

“Well, you won’t get any answer if you kill me here and now.”

“You know I am not such a fool, do you not?”

The grip on his short sword slowly loosened, and the sparkle of humanity disappeared from his eyes the next moment.

“Very well. I will gouge everything out of you at the trial.”

“Oww, how scary. You can easily let me spit everything now if you torture me.”

Elvis snorted at his silly comment. He turned on his heels, sheathed his sword and started walking to the exit, but stopped a few steps later.

“Do you know Goddess Filia?”

Takumi mulled over the true meaning of that question, doubt moulding his expression.

“Of course I do. She’s a goddess who truly loves this world.”

“Is that so?”

The old man resumed his walk, leaving behind a feeble whisper.

“It looks like… you are not like me…”

Those words wafted in the air marked by the sound of the cane striking the stairs.
Takumi’s gaze was locked on his back until he was gone—for a brief moment, Elvis looked like a little lone child.


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0

Guild Master – Chapter 49

The third party and the strongest piece

Thanks to Sherry’s magic, Clave spilled everything about the raid, the damage they caused and the people they hurt on the way there.
Then, I spoke while looking for a way to properly punish him.

“Answer all our questions, and know that you will pay for your every answer.”
“Yes… ask me anything… Milady’s acquaintances deserve the same respect I have for her…”

He answered with the usual creepy polite way he had been using since Aroma started to affect him.
Lotte, who had finished inspecting the man, was now holding another of those collars.

“Big sis, it looks like they cannot mass-produce these things. We only found two, and I guess they were meant to be around our neck… right? Oww, I’m getting goose bumps.”
“Who gave you the order to attack our guild?”

Sherry cut to the chase—that was the core question that floated in her heart for a good while now.

“My Guild Master wanted me to accept this order, there was a seal of blood on the request… It was interesting. If I bent the two of you to my will, I would’ve gained quite some benefits. Still, I failed to, and—ugh!”

A loud thud resounded when the chain-flail’s tip heavily stroke the top of his head.
Lotte’s eyes were cloudy and dark, almost like the light of reason had left them. Shivers ran down my spine.

“Your words are scum and totally unfitting your current position, you powerless failure. You are a worm that doesn’t deserve to breathe. It would be better to just chop you to pieces and why not doing so with the scythe you brought with you…? Don’t you agree, Big sis, Lord Dick?”
“Well, he surely is disgusting, so I wouldn’t stop you. Honestly, I wouldn’t even try to, since you look pretty scary right now. Can you please stop freaking me out?”
“Wow, you managed to scare Dick… I’m sure he was smirking like a kid until a minute ago, and yet…! You’re amazing, Lotte…”
“Wha—B-Big sis, did I do something worth your praise…? Sorry, I’ve lost myself for a moment back there…! Oh no, the flail moved on its own again!”

If Lotte let ‘the flail move on its own’ again, Clave would probably end up undergoing a sex change… in the physical sense of the term.
We had to gather all the information we could before it was too late.

“Your Guild Master uses blood seals whenever they order you to do something very important?”
“I-It all started… when I came to the capital… and formed a contract with White Aries… My Guild Master… is the same rank as me… I don’t have a reason… to follow his orders…”
“Clave, get it together and answer properly. Why do you look so dizzy?”

I grabbed him from his lapel and lifted him a little, then I remembered—I had cast a buff on the twins and a debuff on him.

Currently Lotte was strengthened to a SS rank, and Clave was weakened to a B rank. If he didn’t die by her hand just now, it was because she only wanted to hurt him…
That was a close call.

“Tell me why you listen to your Guild Master’s orders.”
“‘That guy’ could… improve my power…”
“Who is ‘that guy’? Your Guild Master or someone else?”

Clave didn’t reply to Sherry’s question. He didn’t know the answer.

If ‘that guy’ could buff his powers, I guessed Clave was actually weaker than expected and had been buffed before the raid.

This also meant that there was someone in White Aries who could use Support Magic. They were the reason behind Clave’s loyalty, although he never got to see the caster.
‘That guy’ had the same low-profile attitude I had. Thinking about it made me smile wryly.

White Aries’ Guild Master acted to expand their control over their affiliated guilds, but that could be a mere facade. Maybe there was someone else pulling the strings of this matter.

“If ‘that guy’ is in the capital right now, it should be possible to find him, right…?”
“Sherry, things might get muddy from now on. Can I install a transfer circle in your guild? That way I can come here instantly if anything happens again.”
“I mean… transfer circles are very pricey. Our guilds aren’t even that far apart…”
“W-Why…? Big sis and I have our duty as the heads of our guild. We cannot rely on other Guild Masters so much… but I’ll respect what Big sis wants.”

Lotte glanced at Sherry, who looked hesitant. It was understandable.
A special crystal imbued with Transfer Magic had to be used to install a transfer circle. They were extremely rare and could be found only in the ancient dungeons every several months.

However, I could’ve stopped the invaders before anyone was injured if Red Gemini sensed the incoming attack on time. Thinking about it, wasn’t it better to install a transfer circle into the guilds I was in friendly relations with?

After a few more seconds, Sheery turned to look at me.

“Could you teach me how to use it when it’s ready…? I don’t want it to be wasted given its value…”
“Sure. It isn’t hard to use, but it’s basically impossible for humans to make one from scratch.”
“Clave, this is confidential. Pretend you didn’t hear anything… oh, he isn’t listening.”
“Oh no…! Big sis! Bring some water, hurry!”
“Oh c’mon… don’t die on us.”

Lotte’s attack had probably hit harder than we thought and Clave was now unconscious. I cast Healing Magic on him to bring him back to his senses.
Thinking about it, we could’ve tortured him by looping her attacks and my healing… we didn’t really have time for that, but it didn’t sound like a bad idea…!

“Are there other Guild Masters who had to be controlled by these collars?”
“Purple Scorpio’s Guild Master… stole one from me and tried to force it around my neck… but I won and put it on him instead…”
“Why does this scum look so prideful now…?”
“Lotte, put away your flail or we won’t gather enough information. You’re too strong right now, floor and walls might collapse if you hit them with all your strength.”

So Purple Scorpio was under White Aries’ control, huh…?

I wasn’t really glad to help them given their sick ideals, but they could become very bothersome in this case.

And yet… I had to be honest.

Purple Scorpio’s members were assassins who accepted any request for the right price. That ideal was far from the ‘right’ adventurer’s, but it was exactly because there were people who needed someone to take care of dirty jobs that Purple Scorpio was still an active guild.

It was better to bring them on the right way instead of leaving them as White Aries’ puppets. They already were criminals, we couldn’t let them become something worse.

Still, attacking them first would attract White Aries’ attention, and then everything would’ve become harder to deal with.

What to do, then…?

I only had one solution: disclose White Aries’ true nature and free all of their puppet guilds at the same time.

Then, I turned to face Clave.

“I understood that Red Gemini didn’t want to take part in this sick experiment, but did you really need to attack them?”
“What do you mean? Only traitors don’t listen to orders. They don’t need any will. There are guilds like Yellow Pisces and Orange Taurus who obey meekly, and useless guilds like Blue Sagittarius who should just disappear… hahaha!”

He had yet to escape Sherry’s control, but he still managed to show us a scornful smile. I turned to look at Lotte and saw a visible killing intent gushing out her clouded eyes, so I rose my hands to try keeping her at bay.

She was a Gladiator, a savage fighter who always tried to polish her fighting skills to stomp her foes. She wanted to protect her sister so badly that, behind her meek and gentle mask, she hid a real beast.

“I know that this scumbag isn’t the cause behind all this, but I cannot bear myself to hear any more of his words, Sir Dick.”
“I feel the same way, but we have to listen to all he has to say. Lotte, go downstairs and check on your guild members’ condition, please.”
“Okay… sorry. I’ll leave my sister in your hands.”

Lotte looked a bit hesitant, then she handed me over the collar and left the room.
Sherry looked a bit pale from seeing that thing again.

“She might’ve killed him if she kept listening. Her sense of justice is just too strong.”
“Don’t worry, I know that feeling. I’ll make sure he regrets all his words. Now, Clave, one last question. If your guild is not to blame directly for all of this, is there another guild or company that’s pulling the strings?”
“No… there’s only… ‘that guy’…! Ugh! Aaahhh!”

Clave started to scream as he held his head.

Probably ratting the perpetrator out triggered a seal that had been forced on him.
‘That guy’ really knew how to control people.

But it didn’t matter right now—they were the cause of the rotten core of White Aries.

The reason why Clave kept calling them ‘that guy’ was clear as well.

Then, Sherry shook her head and tried to take stock of the situation.

“So… this third party is lying about their real strength and controlling White Aries which in turn controls all of their affiliated guilds?”
“Yes, I think so. They must be behind the collars too.”
“I let my guard down too much… How could I imagine that the top guild hid such a secret…?”

Sherry bit her lips in regret, but none of this was her fault. White Aries was a proper guild until ‘that guy’ took over it.

Sherry didn’t stop her affiliation to White Aries and kept accepting their requests, meanwhile her enemy took advantage of that trust to strike all at once.

The guilds had a lot of influence in the city. Dividing them into twelve minor ones was meant to avoid keeping all the adventurers’ strength into a single one. Aileen didn’t officially join my guild for that very reason.
It also served to make them perform things in their own way, like mine specialized into keeping the lowest profile and accepting the most peculiar quests.

But after all those years, someone who wanted all the power for themselves had appeared.

That went against all of my ideals and hopes.
Now that an unknown guy was controlling the top guild, the above reasons had lost their meaning—the guilds’ power division was crumbling like a house of cards.

“Sherry, do you think that it would be too arrogant of me to try restoring the order with my guild when all the others have failed to?”
“Well… taking into account the strength you showed me today, I’m thinking that you could try to do that, but I didn’t expect you to go for it right away. I wouldn’t call your thought arrogant. Honestly, I always found very strange that you never used your power.”

Actually, I used them. I just never used them too seriously to keep a low profile and not attract unwanted attention… but that might’ve been a bit too much for her to know.
Although she might’ve only admired me more.
I could tell that something had changed in the way she looked at me.

“From now on, our guilds will collaborate. Is it okay with you?”
“I… should be the one to request it. I will leave White Aries’ affiliation and depend only on ourselves.”
“Lady Sherry, that might be hard for you. People and nobles still trust White Aries. What would change if two weak guilds hold each other’s hand? I will be honest: once you free me, you will bow to us again. This is for the best—oof!”
“Just shut your mouth.”

This time Sherry thwacked him with a dropkick on his head, and the blow was so strong that the floor cracked under the impact.

“I think I took it a bit too far… sorry.”
“Oh, don’t worry. By the way, I see that you can force people to tell you what you want but you can’t control the way they say it…”
“Dick…?”

I took one of the collars that Clave had brought with him and put it on him.

“Even a crazy dog like you should stay put now. I’ll leave the rest to Lotte.”
“Dick… are you perhaps mad? You don’t look very different from usual, so I can’t tell for sure…”
“It hardly shows on my face. I rarely get mad at all.”

Sherry smiled at me and I felt my tension loosening its grip on me. It had been quite some time since I last saw her like that.

“I’ll go check on Leonid too now.”
“It’s quite rare to see you on the move. Have you always been? I thought you were just a drunkard since I find you drinking almost every time we met…”
“I am just a drunkard. You’d help me a lot if you keep a secret that I’ve been here tonight. By the way, call me ‘Iron mask’ when I’m like tonight, not Dick.”
“Isn’t that mask too little for your head…? Why don’t you take it off for a minute?”

She took it off slowly, making it slide away with a soft rattling sound.
She was right, I felt a bit more free without it.

“I’m glad that you really are the same Dick I always see drinking.”
“It’s a problem for me if you think that…”
“I don’t care, I’ll go for it.”
“F-Fine… wait, are you sure you want to wear that?”

Sherry put on my mask without the slightest hesitation and I didn’t care too much about the sweat I could’ve left in there. There was barely any, after all.

“How do I look?”
“Good, honestly. I wouldn’t suggest you to wear one, though.”
“That’s… a pity. It’s a bit big for me, but it puts me at ease.”

The tension in the air had vanished, and now only a pleasant calm wafted about. Clave’s presence didn’t bother us much anymore: we felt better, and a spontaneous smile loosened our lips.

Red Gemini and Silver Aquarius were now allies.

What should I do next?
Thanks to Clave, I understood that there was a third party involved in all of this. I had to free all the guilds they were controlling.

I knew I had to ask for help… and maybe the knights’ leader’s support was the best for this case. If I managed to ‘unleash’ the strongest person in the capital from the start, our enemy would think twice before repeating an attack like tonight’s.


<Prev | Index | Next>

2+

New Game – Chapter 44

Predicting the number of people – Part 2

While Elvis and Lux faced each other, Suzuran’s members were meeting in their own headquarter.

“Takumi has been taken into custody like Elsa reported.”

Mirta looked her comrades in the eyes one after the other with a serious expression.
The most important members of Suzuran – Karin, Kunon, Jil and Geiz – along with a couple of girls who ‘contributed’ in someway to this situation – Elsa and Lize – sat around the table.
Everyone was visibly worried. Wrinkles dug their brows.

“This is a delicate matter. If we were to rescue Takumi, the entire Suzuran would be charged with treason and get arrested.”

Killing the son of an overlord was a serious matter, but everyone knew that this time it was a groundless charge against the kind-hearted slave merchant.
Rescuing him now that the army was involved and the inquisition would hold his trial was going to be hard.
Their fate would’ve been sealed if they failed in the attempt.

“This decision cannot rest on my shoulders alone. I gathered you here today to hear what you all want to do about this. Shall we save Takumi or—”

“Of course we will!”

Lize stood up from her chair and interrupted Mirta.

“He saved me! He jumped head first into danger and taught me how to start walking on my own… I am the reason he is now in jail too.”

“Well… yes. Takumi has done the impossible to save you, and it brought Fortesea to take action against him… but you are currently here on behalf of Her Highness. Don’t forget about it.”

“Y-Yes… I beg your pardon.”

Mirta spoke calmly, trying to explain the situation, and Lize, feeling too much pressure from her friend’s serious tone, hung her head in shame like a child who gets scolded.
Now Lize was speaking as the Archbishop and as Queen Eluria’s messenger, and she was now responsible to gather information and grasp the current status of the capital, for Her Highness couldn’t move around freely. She wasn’t the only one to benefit from attending this meeting.

“Please, make sure that we understand what you meant just now. Did you mean that you, Lize Crest, want to save Takumi?”

The child rose her head again and took a deep breath to get into playing her role.

“I do, and so does Her Highness. Losing him is not in Her plans. I would help him even if I had to disobey our Queen. I will do all I can to hinder the inquisition.”

Mirta’s lips curved into a warm smile as she heard that.

“I see. Thank you, now I understand your intentions.”

The leader of Suzuran took a brief pause to look at everyone’s face. The silence filled the room for a moment, which lasted long enough for her smile to disappear.

“I have a favor to ask you all…”

The seriousness of her request loomed over them. It was like the air had turned denser, and everyone caught their breath.

“Can’t we just leave things as they are?”

“What?!”

All the people in the room said the very same thing at the same time, except Lize who slammed her hands on the table wearing a troubled expression.

“Yaaay~! We can’t help or save him! Meeting’s over, see ya~!”

“No, wait up, Kunon! Why is that?!”

“Because we’re six against one. The majority wins.”

“Karin, what are you…?! Mirta! Not even you want to do anything?!”

“I think he doesn’t really need our help. He can handle this on his own…”

Mirta’s dumb face didn’t show any worry and neither did Kunon’s, who looked bored, or Karin’s, who looked calm.
Lize was now pouting in dissatisfaction.

“What about everyone else?! Like… you, sully man!”

“I’m Jil. At least remember my name, Archbishop. We already met many times.”

“I have always seen you as a dangerous and scary man I occasionally meet up.”

“Am… Am I that scary?”

Jil’s sharp gaze pierced the child who hurriedly ran to hide behind Mirta’s back.

“Well, you do have this dark and scary aura.”

“Milady, you think so too…? Anyhow, I would just leave Takumi alone.”

The man lowered his tone of voice with a sour look on his face.

“If we fail and slip-up even once, the consequences of our actions will not fall on our shoulders alone. If Suzuran gets wiped out, our country might try to do the same with the rest of Listina’s slums. We’re deeply rooted within them, after all.”

“Her Majesty would never allow something like—”

“Let me make it clear now: Lord Elvis holds the military power of this city, not our Queen.”

Elvis Fortesea was Listina’s strongest and most influential Overlord. He was one of three and the city’s power had been divided between them.

As a former guest of Fortesea, Lize had the chance to meet him every now and then, and now she pondered on Jil’s words: what he meant was that there wouldn’t be any mercy for them.

“We’re talking about that guy. He will surely have a trick up his sleeve to make things go his way.”

Once Jil had mouthed his statement, all the people in the room nodded at the same time.
Lize, who was cracking under her pessimism, couldn’t hide the uneasiness darkening her face.

“None of you know the inquisition… do you?”

The Archbishop read as much as she could about them, taking advantage of the documents she could access thanks to her status.
Whenever someone was charged with treason against the country, the inquisition held a ‘trial ceremony’ where the Holy Knights gathered to ‘purge the sins’ of the ‘criminal’.
They interrogated the suspect, who had to answer their every question pledging on the name of their Goddess, and then started the purification ritual.
At least, that’s how it looked like to people.

“They apparently hold a trial, but the truth is they borrow their pledge in the name of our Goddess to do whatever they want to get rid—which means execute, so killing—every traitor of the country.”

No one could tell if the charge was groundless or not.
It didn’t matter if the defendant was right and innocent: they would be condemned anyway.
Those guys hid all of this behind the name of their Goddess they sullied.

Lize never took part in their trials.
Calling them ‘trials’ was absolutely misleading—they were so gruesome that ‘lynching’ would’ve described them better.

“If none of us does anything to help him, he will never come back home! Is that okay with you?!”

“Nah, he won’t die even if he gets killed.”

The five members of Suzuran spoke again at once while shaking their head.
Lize couldn’t hide her anger and disappointment in front of the uncooperativeness of the other members of the meeting, and the sour taste in her mouth only spread faster as she looked at Mirta, who looked like she hadn’t a worry in the world, Kunon, who looked even more happy-go-lucky than ever, and Karin, who was drinking some tea with a surreal calm.

“I have had enough! If none of you want to save him, I will do it by myself!”

She then strode across the room, trying not to spill the tears that were welling in her eyes, and slammed the door behind her back.
For a short time, no one moved an inch or dared to make a sound.
Then, everyone sighed and let go of their facade.

“You know… Lize is so pure I feel guilty right now…”

“Seeing her so determined to save Takumi hurt more than expected…”

Karin and Mirta looked exhausted as they limply sank in their chairs.
Everyone in that room wanted to pursue Lize’s will, but… Takumi didn’t.

“Fairstadt, I want to hear it again. He wanted you to take him away, right?”

Elsa frowned in front of Jil’s question.

“Yes… I behaved accordingly to the guards’ orders, but if he really wanted to escape, I would’ve figured out a way to help him… and yet, he chose to be taken away.”

She started to push on her hurting stomach, maybe trying to quell her nausea and pain.

Takumi had probably readied everything in advance to escape from this situation, but he didn’t warn anyone or change anything either.
That probably meant that this time the best choice was not to act.
Everyone was sure that Takumi had a plan, but that wasn’t enough to wipe away the growing worry in their heart.

“Karin… did he tell you anything about rescuing him?”

“Do you really think he could be so honest with someone, Elsa?”

The captain of the guards closed her mouth for a brief moment, then tried to speak again after shifting her gaze to Kunon.

“Wolf-girl, what about you?”

“Lately he spoke a lot about the sauce for meaty food!”

“What the heck is he thinking…?”

Elsa’s tone was somewhat pitiful as she let her head limply fall on the desk. It gave off a loud ‘bonk’ on impact.
This time, it was evident that Takumi wanted to be framed, but everything else was unclear. This situation was just too delicate to dare a blind move and hope they got it right—the smallest slip-up could lead them all to ruin.
Their morale was slowly falling apart.

“Karin, Kunon… today you have to depart for Renunt, right?”

“Yes. We also have to appear somewhat like feudal lords, so we cannot help it.”

“I can’t wait to see what’s going on in there~!”

Now that Karin and Kunon were official knights of the Holy Kingdom of Richtert and got assigned to Renunt Village, they had to govern it and fix any problem that would ravage the place.
This was also a direct order from Elvis Fortesea. The demi-humans didn’t know why he did so in person, but their gut feeling spoke loudly: they were better not to go against him.

“Well, I guess that making us move away from here was just another step in their plan.”

Takumi was put in solitary confinement, and his ‘right arms’ – a significant part of Suzuran’s war potential – had to travel away from the capital. It took two days to reach Renunt by horses-pulled wagon, which meant a ‘round trip’ of four days, and they didn’t know how much it would take them to defeat all the monsters.
The best case scenario was to be away from Listina for about seven days.

The inquisition would presumably execute Takumi during their absence. Breaking through the countless magic knights who attended the trial was going to be quite the hard fit without Karin and Kunon.
They couldn’t stay in the capital and turn their back to their duties as knights either, since it would lead them to getting charged of treason due to leaving innocent people dying at the hands of monsters.
In the end, they only had one choice.

Takumi’s last words echoed in Karin’s mind—I leave everything specifically to you.
She took a few moments to reflect and rose her head.

“Geiz, how are you doing with the major company’s management?”

“Iiih! I-I’m doing exactly as Lord Takumi requested! Why is that?!”

“I’m asking for the details. You received the record books, right?”

“Y-Yes… The agreements with the maritime states are sealed and so is our commercial route. What’s pressing us the most right now is to keep the other major companies under control…”

Karin’s lips curled into a smile. She finally got to hear something positive.

“Mirta, can I leave Lize to you?”

“Eh? Well, I was worrying about her anyway…”

“No, I mean, I’d like you to help her doing what she wants.”

“Helping her…?”

Mirta tilted her head in thinking and Jil wore a sullen face.

“Wait. Suzuran just decided not to act, didn’t we?”

“Exactly, Suzuran won’t act. But if the messenger of Her Highness is moving, don’t you think that we, as a major company, should support her as we can?”

“Do you really want the Archbishop to shoulder all of this on her own?”

“I’m not. We’re just deeply impressed by an innocent girl who is trying her best to save the benefactor who saved her. As a virtuous major company, we’re only doing our best to support her.”

Jil held his breath when the elf tapped on her temple.

“Are you trying to mimic him?”

“This is not about me. It’s all about meeting his expectations. Do you really think that our current situation is just a coincidence? Geiz can take a breather from the exhausting negotiations between the companies, and we hardly have work with the slums’ relationships right now.”

She understood that this ‘coincidence’ wasn’t a stroke of luck at all.
It had been created by her boss, the same man who assumed that Lize would decide to rescue him on her own.
She was sure that he didn’t wish for a simple rescue, but since she had yet to grasp the full picture, she had to figure out the right thing to do too.

“Takumi might think that Lize’s actions are essential. This means that we should let her do whatever she wants and support her as much as we can.”

“And… will we rescue Takumi like this…?”

“Honestly, it doesn’t matter.”

“Wow, you said it for real…”

“It would be great if we did, but it doesn’t matter if we succeed or fail in the attempt. He will surely figure out something on his own. I bet he’s in jail right now, grinning as he whispers that everything’s going according to his plan or something.”

“That’s… indeed very easy to picture…”

Mirta smiled wryly at Karin, who shrugged her shoulders.

“He doesn’t need to be saved. Just do your best to support Lize, okay? Send us a report or contact us with this if anything happens.”

“Lize made that, didn’t she? Is it the improved version of the bug tool she used before?”

Mirta rose her face lightly as she recalled that matter: they found out that Kiad had installed a bug in every defensive tool they made.
Lize proceeded to dispose of both their data and materials. Then, Takumi asked her to drastically change them to create a tool that could make people keep in touch with each other no matter the distance, and so she created a new law formula.

“I-It won’t break if I touch it, right? Right?”

“It might break if it was built by an amateur, but we’re talking about one of the Archbishop’s creations here. Do you really think one of her tools would break so easily? If you’re so afraid, ask Lize or Killfer for help.”

“Wait, what? Killfer knows how to use this?”

“That bookworm reads mountains of books, he is pretty knowledgeable. Also, he copies law formulas and transcribes stuff related to the Holy Text, so he will surely be of help.”

“O-Okay, I got it! I’ll go ask him!”

Mirta brought a hand to her chest and let out a sigh of relief. Karin succeeded at convincing her and looked more relaxed.

“Now… Elsa, can you come with us?”

“Mh…? Shouldn’t I stay in the capital as well?”

The Captain of the guards was somewhat thrown off by that moment.

“I mean, we’re demi-humans, right? No matter our status, no villager would accept us, let alone listen to our management orders or suggestions… especially when the most influential member of our company has been thrown in jail.”

“I see… So you’d like one of the Fairstadt to substitute him to prove everyone that we’re supporting you…?”

“I knew I could count on you.”

“You look just like him right now and it creeps me out!”

“Yaaay~! I’m so glad you’re coming with us, Captain~! Now we’ll have a lotta fun~!”

“Can you please calm down for once…?”

Kunon didn’t hide her enthusiasm, moving her ears in a funny circular way, unlike Elsa, who let out a breath so heavy that it sounded like it escaped from lungs of lead.

“Look forward to the reward. Let me write a few info.”

Karin’s pen raced so fast on the paper that everyone could barely follow it. The next moment, she tore the page and handed it over to Elsa, who blinked a few times to realize what just happened. Her big jade-colored eyes scanned through it the next moment, and they started to sparkle.

“Karin, is it…?!”

The elf brought a finger in front of her lips to interrupt her.

“It’s your reward. I’ll fill you in once we’re on the wagon.”

Then, she got up and looked everyone in the face.

“That’s all. Let’s work hard to support Lize as much as we can.”

The people in the room nodded firmly.
That marked their decision—Takumi was to be left alone.


<Prev | Index | Next>

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Guild Master – Chapter 48

The SSS rank territory

‘Spirit limit holder’ is the debuffing spell that always limits my power.
It affects my body, my mind and my abilities.

I heard that the human brain has a lot of natural limitations, so it can’t be used at its full potential, but what would happen if someone could daily train its unused part…?

To put it simply, they’d acquire the ability to always make the best decision by analizing any situation in an instant.
The ‘absolute right choice’ doesn’t exist, and the average guy hardly keeps up with their surroundings. They might even get themselves into some insane or surreal situation, which are very hard to analyze… but not me. Especially when I remove my limiter.

The blond guy dressed like a god of death had probably yet to notice how much I had changed.
He only looked confused, but his face soon warped due to the rage steaming into him. He realized an unknown enemy had just put him to shame.

“YOU PIECE OF SHIIIT!”

He swung his scythe by his side and sprung forth—his wind spirits helped him close the distance between us in a blink.
He probably thought that a close combat could’ve helped him getting the upper hand, since I could drive him into a corner from the distance.
It’s essential to study the enemy reactions if one wants to breach through them and win. They also have to estimate if they can handle their foe by taking their response directly or avoiding it and hope they didn’t make a slip-up.

The matter is that no one can figure out what’s standing in front of them before the very first exchange of blows.

The man let out a loud scream during his charge and slashed his scythe horizontally to mow me down. I readied myself to intercept his attack with my longsword, then I saw his lips curl into a grin—I was about to fall in his trap.

“Randomizing scissors!”

His scythe was a magic weapon. After being infused with Spirit Magic, a blade suddenly sprung from its top, transforming his scythe into a sort of kama-yari1.
That weapon was enchanted with ‘Elemental frame’, which granted it a powerful affinity to elements, allowing him to frequently activate skills based on wind spirits.
The torrent of magic he poured into his weapon turned into a jinn2 that spiked his wind slashes output—a cutting storm was approaching me.
If I had to physically block that weapon now, its wind slashes would’ve cut through me.

In a split-second, I smiled back at my arrogant enemy.
I only had to react properly. My counterattack had to be a single blow.

“Spirit blade – Attack rise.”

The man’s smile faded away as he goggled his eyes. The next moment, I feigned to slash him from the side, and successfully distracted him from my kick that, hitting his leg, made him trip on the ground.

I wanted to destroy his ego—he wasn’t strong. His ability and the strength of his wind attacks was absolutely noteworthy, but he had yet to breach through my defense.

“Your wind slashes aren’t half bad… but slashing more won’t make you win.”
“Tch! Fuck…!”

He got on his feet right away and started to attack again.
No matter how bold or savage his assault was, all he was doing was rooting me on the spot with an endless stream of attacks.
I could tell he had practiced a lot with spirit magic, since the average adventurer below the S rank could smoothly chant another spell only after overcoming the infamous lingering sense of blankness.

“I’ll raze this guild…! Wind spirits! Break out into a storm! Destroy everything and return this place to nil! Storm tempest!”

“Dick!”
“What?! Big Sis, that masked guy is Dick?!”

Sherry’s voice sounded worried as she called my name. It was understandable given that she had only seen a small part of my power so far.

The former heroes were surely very strong, but seeing them in action was a totally different feeling.
This reminded me of the time I told her I would’ve shown her my real strength if I ever had the chance to, and I still remember how uninterested she looked back then.

Well, the time had finally come. I also had to brand my foe’s memory with dread.
I didn’t really have to go all out while facing someone below the SSS rank, but this guy deserved it.

The man’s blonde hair turned upside as he gathered his magic power within him, creating a little storm all around—the wind spirits were resonating and they started to rampage to mow us down along with the entire building.

“As if I’d be scared by the likes of you!”
“By the likes of me? You mean those who can do this?”

I slashed my sword down, imitating the action that Cody did whenever she used ‘Spirit edge’, one of her sword of light techniques. With that, I sent off something only I could see.

Have you ever wondered how magic works? Many people seal a contract with the spirits and draw some magic power from them when needed in order to change the environment around them.

If they were to ask the fire spirits for help, they would spawn flames.
Water spirits would generate water or crystals depending on the average temperature of the place they’re summoned to.
Earth spirits would rise walls from the soil or create golems that can move.
Wind spirits could trigger even storms if they were drove on a rampage.

However, the caster had to provide the spirits a solid pattern for the attack, otherwise it would fail.
To put it simply: they had to decide how the spirits would act, otherwise nothing would really happen.

In this specific case, I used Sabotage Magic to meddle with the spirits’ course of action. It was very effective to fight ‘modern magicians’ like this, as they hardly knew how to simplify the spirits’ pattern according to their pledge. Sometimes it led them to be unable to do what they had in mind or use magic at all.

“What… what the fuck…! How is it possible…?! I can’t fail…!”

Nothing happened when he activated his spell. If only he had taken a moment to carefully look around him, he could’ve seen that I had literally cut through his magic pattern with my magic blade, but he was clueless.

“Shit…! Wind spirits, come forth and smash these guys! Torn them to pieces! Spirit tempest! SPIRIT TEMPEEEST!”

That spell could’ve razed the entire building to the ground.

It’s said that a SS rank adventurer could raid and conquer a fortress defended by an army of one thousand men in one hour.
The same feat would take only about one minute for an adventurer whose score was above 100.000 points.
Mylarka, Cody, Aileen and I have tested it on some fortress prototypes.
We also were part of that territory.

My score couldn’t be measured, but theoretically, if I had a score of 90.000 and engaged Aileen in an hand-to-hand fight under normal circumstances, I might win. Let me clarify: that score would’ve to take only my physical prowess into account, not my magic power too.

A SS rank adventurer is nothing compared to a SSS rank, and no matter how easy they went on an A rank, the latter would never win.

Finally, the scythe-wielding man figured out that he couldn’t use his magic because something was wrong within him.
He slowly pointed his weapon to Sherry and Lotte, looking at them with mad eyes.

“If this guy minded his own damn business, I would’ve manipulated both of you filthy bitches until your end!”
“Big Sis, leave him to me!”
“No, Lotte! He’s too much for us…!”

A party of six S rank adventurers could defeat a lone SS rank. If Sherry and Lotte attacked simultaneously, maybe they would’ve won with a single attack.

This guy was only a S rank adventurer now that he couldn’t use magic, but it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted him to be even more miserable.

“Spirit rising. Spirit reduce.”

I lent some of my power, around 50.000 points, to Sherry and Lotte for a short time, and terribly weakened our enemy.
His condition wouldn’t have improved any significantly even by asking his spirits to power him up as much as they could.

He tried to attack Lotte without noticing that his fate was already sealed, and let out a groan as he felt his scythe many times heavier than usual.
When I cast Spirit release and used a debuffing spell, I sank the average adult’s strength so much they almost returned to having the strength of a child.
A SS rank adventurer could fall back to be a B rank. It would be anyone’s nightmare.

Lotte steeled her resolve and shouted while attacking her opponent with her chain-flail3. The man blocked the blow but he couldn’t handle the impact and the weapon fell from his hands.

“Big Sis, now!”
“Y-Yes…! Whip bind!”

Sherry’s whip hissed through the air and passed over a wooden ceiling beam, then it descended and coiled around the man, making him hang loose in the air.

“YOU PIECES OF SHIT! I’M GONNA SLAUGHTER YOU! YOU’RE DEAD!”

Maybe being humiliated like that was too much for him to bear and he snapped way beyond the limit that would’ve made me feel any sympathy for him.

As he wriggled and struggled to get free, something fell from his leather belt. I picked it up and confirmed its nature—it was a magic tool. To be precise, it looked like the broken collar that Aileen had tore from Mizuha’s neck.
The only difference was that this one was still untouched: it could still work.

“You said you would’ve manipulated them, right…? Then this works on humans too now, huh? What do you even need this for?”
“MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS! GRRR! LET ME DOWN! LET ME DOOOOOWN!”

The man kept struggling, but as weak as he was, Sherry’s whip showed no sign to lose against him.

“Is that the magic tool you asked us to try…?”
“It makes you control people, right? You wanted us to try it out so that you could control us…? That isn’t fun to imagine. Thinking what would’ve happened if you succeeded at controlling Red Gemini like that is quite scary.”

Sherry and Lotte looked very much alike. The only differences stood in their proportions and hair: Sherry had long hair hanging on her back and a curvier body, while Lotte kept them shorter, about shoulder-length, and had an admirable figure.
They both wore a circular hairpin4 which made them look somewhat coquettish and fresh, especially thanks to their young age.

Lotte coiled her arms around her body as if she was trying to hide it. She was looking at the man hanging from the ceiling beam like he was some sort of filthy beast.
She was a mysophobe5 and she never let her guard down around people, especially men.

The hanging one was now struggling so much he looked about to spit his own saliva, and after a little while he realized that his resistance was futile, and hung his head dejectedly.

“You filthy bitches… I’m gonna rape you…! I will kill you and rape your corpses…!”
“How brave of you not to break down in this situation, but stop spitting those disgusting words. I’m not a saint, you know.”

Yuma would’ve tried to persuade and teach her God’s teachings to any enemy, even a scumbag like this one… but I wasn’t so magnanimous.

“YOU’LL BE THE FIRST ONE I’LL SLAUGHTER! TAKE THAT STUPID MASK OFF AND SHOW ME WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU!”
“Silence! You have no right to speak. You will pay for any other offence to any of us.”

Sherry wore a deadpan expression while looking up to the man who was glaring at her. Still, his gaze gradually lost his strength.

Sherry, the head of Red Gemini, had a unique magic—Aroma. She could control people with that.
She sealed a contract with the spirits of flowers, which allowed her to summon specific plants and make their aroma waft around her. If I was to smell it carelessly, it would’ve been a huge problem even for me.

“It didn’t sound right to me that you want to mimic what I do. Now tell me more about your plan.”
“Yes… Your wish is my command, Milady… Use me as you want…”

Hearing that horrible guy talking so meekly was unsettling. Her power was truly scary…
If she attacked me with it, I could’ve isolated her from her spirits, making her assault ineffective, but she was simply unbeatable for this man. Especially right now.

Wait, thinking about it, a wind spirit user could scatter her aroma, so he might have had the upper hand if they fought alone… but surely not now, so the problem doesn’t arise.

Sherry breathed her aroma on the blonde man’s face, who inhaled it, and something changed drastically in his behavior. When she let him go, he groveled in front of her of his own free will and tried to lick the very same whip that had constrained him until that moment.

“Stop doing this. It’s disgusting and unsightly.”
“Yes… forgive me, Milady…”
“Show me your guild tag and tell me why you came here.”

Sherry took his guild tag from his hand, read it quickly and handed it over me.

Clave Garland.
He was a SS rank adventurer and member of White Aries.
Everyone in the room had already heard about him.
Why was White Aries doing this? And what did they use their collar for?

Before inquiring him, Sherry and Lotte looked at me without hiding their admiration.

“I couldn’t figure out who you were due to your mask, but… you really helped me back there.”
“I feel the same. You had to be Sir Dick… or rather, you had to be someone special. Your fight was so mind-blowing that I thought I was looking at a play.”

I could feel that there was some lingering tension in the air, but they were fine, so I didn’t have to worry too much.

Then, looking at them, I remembered that I had yet to cast the limiter on myself again.

Spirit limit holder.

I constrained my abilities as usual. If I didn’t, my senses would be way too sharp.
My sight would improved so much I might’ve seen way too far in the distance and analyzed way too many things. I could see the real body of anything through their clothes or masks as well, thing that I absolutely didn’t do with the two girls before limiting my powers again.
I swear.

Then, I noticed that Sherry was staring at me.

“What’s wrong?”
“Oh, nothing at all. Let’s inquire this guy.”
“My… oh my, you are so graceful when you’re this clueless… That’s why people like you would suit my Big Sis so much…!”
“Keep that to yourself, Lotte. None of us want to face a misunderstanding now.”

I could see through her words if I released my limiter again… but sadly, whenever I did it, I kinda stepped out the ‘territory’, or maybe I should call it ‘nature’, of a simple human. I had to pay extra attention to it.

Then, I turned to look at Clave. I was a bit surprised that he was still motionless on his knees.
Despite being ‘only’ a S rank adventurer, Sherry’s powers were quite otherworldly.


1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kama-yari

0

New Game – Chapter 43

Predicting the number of people – Part 1

“What is the meaning of this, Lord Elvis?!”

Lux slammed his hands on Elvis’ desk, anger painting his face red.
The Fortesea’s head was sitting on the other side of the desk while wearing a stony and collected expression.

“My, why are you so indignant?”

“It’s for that slave merchant! Do you understand what you have done?!”

Lux, the creator of Richtert’s Guards, heard that Takumi had been arrested, and he couldn’t accept it.
That slave merchant was surely a dangerous guy, but he was trustworthy and useful every now and then. That’s why Lux tried to create a relationship where they could both gain from each other.

He was dead serious when he thought he would willingly smear his own family name to overthrow Elvis, but his plan had crumbled to pieces.
Because after the fight in the arena… the Fortesea’s head acknowledged Takumi as a danger.

Lux wanted to keep Takumi’s existence somewhat concealed, then come up with a scrupulous plan that not even Elvis could predict to overthrow Fortesea…
But saving Archbishop Crest took priority and he couldn’t really decline a request from the Queen.
That was just another reason to save Takumi, and exactly because Elvis had probably figured everything out so far, he wasn’t budging.

“The aforesaid slave merchant has been seen by many witnesses, though.”

“The slums’ guard wrote that he followed them and didn’t resist! Nothing else counts!”

“I see. However, many witnesses say that he approached the east tower, where Kiad has been found lifeless in his basement room, and then they’ve seen him walking back. Their testimony counts as evidence.”

Lux balled his fists. The old man’s statement was too prompt and precise. He wasn’t fooling around.

“Are you trying to frame him for something he didn’t do and send him to prison?!”

“Yes. Do you have a problem with it?”

Elvis replied with unexpected honesty.

“That slave merchant is a traitor of our country, who dared to attack and shake the pillar that sustains us all—magic. It should be clear even to you that his actions were other-worldly foolish.”

Lux didn’t know how to answer and pressed his lips tight together, his expression warping.

Takumi had surely spread doubts about the almighty of magic by showing everyone that ‘mere’ demi-humans could defeat magic knights.
Kunon could smash magic by using her demi-human skills, and Karin could pierce through magic tools by taking advantage of their flaws.
Those facts were the ultimate proof that magic in itself wasn’t almighty, so the deterrent that kept their country safe until now had been proven beatable.

However, putting Takumi in jail right now meant rising a death flag, since he could still come in handy to prevent a disaster.
Elvis had framed the slave merchant for Kiad’s murder and was now planning to make the Inquisition punish him according to Filia’s teachings, which meant erasing his very existence.
The head of Fortesea had chosen to sacrifice his own son to eliminate any other threat.

“Is that your point…?!”

Right after Lux slammed his fists on the desk, his body stiffened.
Elvis’ glacial gaze was piercing him like an ice cold knife.

“My son has died. Would there be any other reason to do this?”

A sharp light shimmered in his uninterested eyes.

“You improved quite a lot… Lux Fairstadt.”

Those words made the young man notice the cold sweat running down his back.

“You are not to be underestimated. You earned your position despite your young age and you never smear the ‘righteous’ title you have inherited from your predecessor, Zeruel Fairstadt, with inappropriate actions. Our people strongly support and respect you thanks to your hard work…”

Elvis took an awfully long pause before opening his mouth again.

“…and yet, you are hopelessly boring.”

“What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said. You are holding on to the ambition, or perhaps I should call it ‘secret plan’, of overthrowing Fortesea, the family who sits atop Richtert. Watching you act for such a trivial objective is merely pitiful.”

The two men’s gazes clashed against each other.
Lux was peering into unreadable mysterious eyes… they looked terribly similar to someone else’s.

“Elvis… what are you planning to do?”

“Now that you have asked, you are better to wash your hands of that slave merchant. At least, that guy could figure out something you do not.”

Lux was dumbfounded.
It was exactly because Takumi had figured it out that he was bearing a false charge and was imprisoned.
Still… if he could break free, Elvis’ plan would be doomed.

“You are not good enough to control him right now. He will consume you and you will soon watch your country weaken and die. This is why I have to handle him before everything is doomed.”

“I see… there’s only one thing I can do, then.”

Lux showed a bold smile while facing the man who sat atop Richtert.

“I will save him and drag you down, Elvis Fortesea.”

After his declaration, Lux turned on his heels and left the room.
Elvis, watching him from behind, couldn’t help but smile.


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1+

Guild Master – Chapter 47

The invaders and the limiter removal

After we disbanded our meeting and my nightshift at the bar was over, I got ready to visit Red Gemini’s guild in the dead of night. Mizuha and Verlaine came to say bye at the door.

“Sir Dick, it must be rough for yer ter go this late. I wish I could ‘elp yer…”
“Don’t worry. It’s been a long day, you two must be tired. Go get some rest. I only drank the day away, so I’m pretty full of energy.”
“Be careful on your way there. I would love to talk if you come back within two hours.”
“I would luv ter wait for yer ‘ere as well. Cor guv, would I lie to you… but me brother would worry. Tomorrow can I stay over, isit?”
“Yes, feel free to stay whenever you want. Our master will be happy to have both of us at the same time.”
“Why the heck did you stress that ‘at the same time’ so much…?”
“Verlaine and I at the same time…? Yer must mean in that way, i’n it…?!”
“Mizuha, we shall discuss about it in the next days.”

I didn’t know what Verlaine was scheming, but she was having fun. Since she wanted to drag Mizuha into it as well, I bet she wasn’t going for something extreme.

◆◇◆

Red Gemini’s guild was located in the 9th Street, which ran through the ninth block from North to South. Their headquarter was in the southernmost part, a bit far away from residences and shops.

Red Gemini, as opposed to me, thought in big: they owned offices, training schools and restaurants in the zone, and they usually had guards patrolling their perimeter… but no one was around this time.

Then, I saw that a part of the road wasn’t lit by the streetlamps. When I got closer, I noticed the moonlight dimly shining on a destroyed guard station—all the lanterns had been cut in half and were now hanging loosely and empty.

I entered to see what happened, and there I found a man sitting on the floor, one of his hands pressing on a deep cut on his shoulder. He was bleeding from his head too.

“Hey, what happened? Who did this to you?”

I cast Healing Light on him to make him recover a little from his wounds, and the pale man turned to face me with frightened eyes.

“T-There were six of them…! They entered our territory without permission… and when I tried to stop them, they… destroyed the door… and trashed me with their Wind Magic…!”
“I got it, now calm down. This isn’t your fault. Can you tell me who did this?”
“I… I don’t know… Lady Sherry said White Aries might come… she said I had to call her right away if it was to happen…!”
“So they might be the perpetrators, huh…?”

He cast his gaze down and nodded as his body was shaken by shivers. He must’ve gone through a hell of a minute.

There wasn’t time to waste, I had to hurry. They were aiming to something.

“You’ll be safer if you stay here until it’s all over. Just stay put, okay?”
“I… I failed to stop the invaders…!”
“Well, this is pretty normal when you get raided all of a sudden. Write an apology and you’ll be fine.”

After I calmed down the man and slapped his shoulder a few times, I got out the door and cast Hiding and Mute on myself to completely hide my presence and deaf all the sounds I could make.
Then, I ran at full speed towards Red Gemini’s headquarter.

As soon as I saw the building, I could hear the noise of fighting coming from the third floor. The doorway of the ground floor had been destroyed by Wind Magic. The average adventurer wasn’t able to do something like this, so one of the two SS rank adventurers of White Aries was probably behind it.

The sign of destruction they had left behind was a clear message for Red Gemini: they couldn’t sue White Aries to the authorities—this attack was a show of force, an attempt to silence them.

This is awful… Why are they doing this? Is this revenge against Sherry because she refused their request?

I couldn’t jump to conclusions until I was sure of our enemies’ identity.
Before stepping in the building as the masked savior, wearing a full iron mask instead of the usual one that left my mouth and chin uncovered, I steeled my resolve.
I knew I wasn’t going to see anything good in there.

Verlaine’s words echoed in my head: you should extend your control over the others too.
If White Aries wasn’t this crazy, I wouldn’t need to take her suggestion into serious consideration.

“This is bad… and I have no choice.”

I let go of my hesitation. Now it was too late to chicken out.
No matter who was going to face me, I had to silence them and carve the horror of my mask in their mind forever… although I didn’t like to act like this.

When I stepped into the building, I saw many members of Red Gemini sprawled on the ground.
Guilds usually have some active members during the night to defend the place against intruders and attacks, but now only two men from White Aries were standing in the hall—one was a mage, the other one a swordsman.

When the mage noticed me, he rose his guard ready to fight, and the other unsheathed his sword and charged at me. I avoided the attack by reading his movement and whacked him from behind with the back of my sword, sending him flying.

“Ugh!”
“W-Who the heck is this guy…?! Was there a masked man in this guild?!”
“Who cares about me. What are you doing here?”
“Fireball!”

I changed my voice to make it sound terrifying, but the mage still had enough resolve to cast a spell. Given the output power and the huge dimension of the fireball, I had to admit he was quite a capable guy, but using Fire Magic in a building wasn’t very smart.

“Protect prison.”

If I were to erect a barrier, the explosion would’ve scattered the flames around. I didn’t want to set the entire building on fire, so I locked the fireball away.

The prison wrapped around the fireball and tightened quickly, making the flames vanish the next moment. The mage goggled his eyes at the scene.

“This… This can’t be…!”

I took advantage of his astonishment to close the distance between us—the moment he blinked his eyes, I was already at his side.

“Silence rune.”
“UGH…! N-No…! I…! I can’t use my magic…!”
“You don’t deserve to if you wanted to use Fire Magic indoors. Now reflect on your actions for a while.”
“You… bastard…! I’LL KILL Y—”

Thinking about a way to make him shut up, Mizuha’s words resounded in the back of my mind—Are yer thinkin’ o’ flickin’ me ‘ead?
I readied my fingers, used Support Magic on me, and hit the man.

The blow sent him flying with a loud bang and he crashed on the floor far in the distance, smoke coming from his forehead. I then walked to him and made the magic-sealing rune surface on the back of his neck.
Some runes had to be written with special paints, like Small Spirit, but some others could just be written like that.

The effects of my silence rune could last only for one week for the moment, which was a short but risky time for an adventurer… but he deserved it.
Sending him to prison for a while would’ve been a great atonement for his attack.

Now, everybody except me had fainted on the ground… or so I believed.
As I thought about what to do with the two men, a girl slowly rose to sit while covering her body with her arms—some of her equipment had been torn away from her body and what was left on her was in tatters.

I had been way too nice with those two scumbags. A bitter taste spread all through my mouth as I faced that kind of scene again.
A man who forces his way on a girl isn’t worth living.

“M-Masked man… please… save our Guild Master…! Save Lady Sherry…! Their comrades are… way stronger than them…!”
“Don’t worry, leave it to me. Will I find them all in the upper floors?”

As I asked, I cast Healing Light on her and one of her nearby comrades. She looked very surprised.

“T-Thank you very much…! O-One day I will return the favor…!”
“Sorry for leaving you behind, but I must hurry to your Guild Master. Scream loudly if anything happens, I’ll come back and save you.”
“Okay… Be careful…! I hope Lady Sherry is safe…!”

I cast Hiding on myself again, then hurried to the second floor.

There were many more members of Red Gemini than I imagined despite being night… Sherry was probably trying to ready some defense against White Aries.

Three men, the only ones still standing, were rummaging about as if they were desperately looking for something. Sometimes they looted gold and items from fainted people too.

My heart froze in front of that and a glacial question flashed through my mind.

Did we really risk our lives fighting the Demon Lord to earn an armistice for scum like this?

This was absurd. I couldn’t accept it. I approached one of the looters and kicked him on the flank with all my strength.
A gasp escaped from his mouth before he collapsed on the floor, and the other two finally noticed me.

“When did you arrive?! And what the heck are the guys on the first floor doing?!”
“Shut up and don’t panic! Let’s just kill him!”
“Kill? Do you think killing someone comes without consequences?”

Restricted area annihilation n°66 – Disintegration field.

All the metallic components of their equipment started to turn into black lumps of metal before crumbling into pieces.
I had countless ways to make them inoffensive, but I wanted to hear them out before proceeding to the third floor.

“H-How did he do this in one move…?”
“Monster…! He’s a demon! A demon, I tell you!”
“Don’t jump to conclusions. There are demons way less repulsive than the likes of you. Now answer my questions. Are you from White Aries or—”

One of the two men shouted loudly and charged at me while wielding a short sword he had probably hid for situations like this.1

When I sparred with Aileen, she was always bare-handed. She taught me that facing a foe like that meant using their flaws against them.

I read his movements and got ready—the man tried to stab me, but I successfully locked his dangerous arm under mine before punching him at full strength on the solar plexus. He let go of the weapon and fell on his knees, then I forced him to the ground by kicking his back and stomping it with my foot.

“I said to answer my damn questions.”

The man was now motionless, but he wasn’t dead… probably. He surely was unable to fight now, so I got my foot off him.

I didn’t care if they were A rank adventurers: although I should’ve refrained from beating them too hard, a part of myself didn’t agree with it.

“Did White Aries order you to do this?”
“Even if you beat us, you won’t be a match for him…! It will serve you right…! Hahaha! Hahahihhh!”

The last man standing burst into a desperate laughter before his voice stiffened and deafened as he collapsed on the ground. He probably cracked under fear and stress and lost the will to fight.

“That was the last one. Who should I finish first? Go ahead and choose for me.”
“N-Nothing will change if you kill us…! Nothing! Wait, no, stay away from me! Don’t come any closer!”

The first one that had collapsed on the ground was still conscious and looked at me with frightened eyes. I was only walking towards him, but he looked horrified.
I almost felt nostalgic.
Everyone looked at me like that before my teacher taught me how to use magic.
Recalling those times, especially those where I was feared by everyone without realizing it, brought a smile to my face.

“If you’re writhing on the ground now, it’s because you’ve walked on the wrong path so far.”

He started to foam from his mouth before fainting.
I was failing to keep calm.

I somewhat hoped that White Aries never forgot about their status as the top guild… but I was naive. And now I felt betrayed.

They tried to stomp on Red Gemini? Good, it was time to follow my ideals.

I would destroy White Aries and make it anew.
Steeling my resolve, I stepped into the third floor—I had to save Sherry.

“Lotte! I’ll hold him still!”
“Yes, Big Sis! Yaaah!”

Sherry and her little sister Lotte were fighting against something in the darkness. Only the moonlight was dimly shining into the Guild Master’s room.

The insides of the room were completely destroyed. It looked like a storm had wreaked it havoc.

“Nice try, sisters. What about this? Sonic blade.”

Judging by the name of the spell, I guessed he was going to swing his weapon, creating a wind slash that would’ve cut through his opponents.
Given that he had drove Sherry and Lotte in a corner so easily, I assumed they were fighting an SS rank adventurer with a score above eighty-thousand points—his attacks might’ve been deadly for them.
I had to prevent that outcome and act before him—I could deny his spell.

Protect prison double.

“What the…?”
“This is… his magic…!”

The man started to unleash his attack, which shattered once it touched the magic walls surrounding him. He then laughed amusedly.

“Interesting!”

He didn’t care that I had denied his attack—the man with golden spiky hair kept swinging his weapon again and again. The wind he was unleashing was storming into the barrier, but the slashes bounced on it and returned to him. It looked like he wasn’t affected by those wind spirits.

He was wielding a huge scythe. Along with his blackish overcoat, he looked like a god of death, and I guessed that was probably what he wanted to look like.

“It’s getting annoying…! Burst! Sonic blade!”

With his sheer power, slash after slash, he managed to break through the barrier. He then looked down on me with a triumphant smile, but something else had already stolen my attention.

The moonlight filtering from the window shone on Sherry and Lotte’s wounds. I cast a healing spell on them while facing our enemy.

“Did you really think your barrier could stop me? I didn’t even get serious against them, but you look stronger… like you’re on another level.”
“Oww, poor whining boy… Your rank doesn’t matter if your world is that small.”

I mocked him, and it was super effective. His expression changed right away, rage painting his face while a vein popped angrily on his temple.

“I killed all of those tawdry bastards who made fun of me so far. You’re going to meet them all soon!”

Thinking that he resembled so much the stereotype of a crazy killer made me smile wryly.
I didn’t have time to waste on someone like him. I had to finish this battle as soon as I could, but not in one hit.

The man rose his scythe over his head, and I readied myself by unsheathing my sword. Sherry understood that I was going to take this fight seriously.

“I-I can see him fighting with all he has…! Lotte, watch carefully!”
“O-Okay…”

I want to break the heart of those who believe they’re strong—those who picture themselves above the clouds, watching the world from the sky. I can’t say I’m fond of this habit of mine, though.

The time had come. I had to go all out and free myself from the chains of Support Magic.

Spirit release – Limit burst.

“What?!”

The face of the man standing in front of me warped. Now his expression was very similar to that of the man who foamed from his mouth on the second floor before collapsing.


1 It’s written the very same thing on the light novel, so I guess this knife isn’t made of metal or the spell is limited to the things he can perceive (I mean, those he can see or those he knows the target has on them). Or both.

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2+

New Game – Chapter 42

Great minds think alike – Prologue

Takumi stood in a snow-white room.

“Hello. You never called me in seven years and now you bring me here twice in a few weeks? What’s up?”

His vision was filled with too much light to see anything, but he knew someone was listening.

“Nah, we’re just getting used to see each other.”

A carefree voice bounced around and reverberated in the room, which distorted slightly before outlining a humanoid figure appearing from the blinding white.

“Hey there~! Your dearest Goddess’ speaking~!”

“Can you greet me like a proper Goddess for once? Like, try to be a bit solemn.”

“Solemnity isn’t part of me~! Also~! There’s a certain someone who knows I’m a Goddess~! But he keeps staring daggers at me like I’m some happy-go-lucky idiot~!”

“Oh, nice catch, Goddess. I’m impressed you could tell what I’m thinking.”

“Guessing right hurts all the more…”

As the woman drooped her shoulders dejectedly, Takumi cut the conversation short.

“So, why am I here? Tell me if you need anything. I won’t get mad.”

“Why’re you treating me like I’m some mischievous child?! Also, it was you who caused a mess, not me! Why the heck did you get arrested?!”

She was about to snap—her anger was evident on her face as she jabbed at him with her words.

“You only have a big-ass mouth, you brat! You even fell into the schemer’s trap! Gosh, it serves you right to be—OUCH!”

“That’s the right reaction for a happy-go-lucky girl like you.”

He commented while pulling the Goddess’ cheek, her eyes welling with tears.

“It’s going all according to my plan. Everything’s fine and dandy so far.”

“Eheheh, that’s what you believe, but you’re actually in a tight spot, aren’t you? It so happens that you have a free coupon for a super-broken and cheating ability, so…”

“Sorry, I don’t have any coupon. I can’t accept it.”

“You’re not supposed to have a flier. Also, you have smartphones nowadays. Who would keep a stupid flier? Let’s talk seriously. No matter how powerless you want to be, the moment you get isolated from your comrades, you might face your end. Do you understand it?”

He didn’t deny her words. She was right—he had survived in that world starting as a powerless slave only thanks to his comrades.
His current situation did sound very bad.

“A little discount is a thing, but I don’t need any cheat-like ability.”

“Are you absolutely sure about it~? Whenever I grant one, my chest warms up~!”

“How can it warm up in that revealing dress?”

“With my bountiful breasts, of course!”

“Stop puffing your chest out, you showpiece of a Goddess. I don’t need any lukewarm cheat-like ability.”

She was dejected again as she started to stutter.

“I-I see… I-I get you’ve been suffering due to your deep regret, b-but is it so bad you have to refuse my offer? None of the guys before you has refused it so far.”

“I know what you’re aiming for and why you want to grant me some broken ability. I also know why you keep trying to meddle with me and my choices… you need to give me this thing to reach your goal, right?”

Then, the Goddess lips curled into a smile.

“Well, I don’t really give a damn about you guys’ regret, you know?”

“I figured. You want them to take the chance to save the world, am I right?”

The Goddess fell silent for a few moments. That was the reason she was giving another chance—another life—to people who had died.
Given her reaction, Takumi knew he hit the bullseye.

“You want to save your dear world, don’t you? I guess your efforts will be wasted if the people you reincarnate end up dying, though.”

“Indeed. You know, lately a certain powerless guy has appeared from nowhere and he keeps refusing my help. He’s the worst fail I found so far.”

“If you welcomed someone who has failed to reach the top, what’s the problem in reincarnating the worst fail around?”

“Well, for starters, if I reincarnated everyone blindly, I would affect my own world for the worse.”

“That’s exactly what you did with with Elvis, right? Or someone like him.”

Takumi noticed that the Goddess’ expression had stiffened at his words and he smiled brightly in front of her renewed silence.

“You know what? I’ll take the chance to save your lovable world.”

“Don’t talk about love when you don’t have the sliiightest ounce of it within you!”

“I’m talking about the world, not myself.”

A happy smile cracked his face.

“Call me again when you want to talk.”

“Sure thing. Let me figure out a way to make you break free.”

“I already figured it out by myself. You can free your schedule.”

“So that we can have another date like this one?! Oh my, I already have someone in my heart, what should I do~! Hey! Stop right there! Don’t leave in silence! It’s making things awkward for me!”

Takumi ignored her complaints and briskly walked towards the light on the other side of the room.

“See you, Filia.”

She heard his farewell right before his figure was engulfed by light.


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0

Guild Master – Chapter 46

The three guilds’ meeting and a Guild Master’s pride

Mizuha and her brother came to live in our guild’s dormitory. I suggested Zect to mainly accept the dungeon-exploring requests, and he looked fine with that, so I put him into the ‘scouting unit’, while his sister became a trainee in the ‘intelligence unit’.

The young girl wanted to work as an employer for our bar too, so Verlaine took care of her preparation. Mizuha could rarely leave her house before she joined our guild, so she was pretty overjoyed to work outside. I’m sure she didn’t want to feel caged anymore.

“You handle customers and regulars very well, Mizuha, and all of them appreciate you so far. You are doing very good, keep up the hard work. Remember to speak properly to our guests when you talk to them, okay?”
“Yep, ma’am! As yer wish! I’ll do me best!”

Verlaine praised Mizuha as they opened the bar, and the next moment a couple of guests entered the room.

One of them was a girl with long black hair tied up with a red ribbon. She wore a dark brown overcoat covering her blouse and skirt. Evidently, she was trying to keep a low profile.

The other one was a tall brawny middle-aged man with silver hair tied like a warrior. His blue eyes gave off a light so sharp that Mizuha, seeing him, jumped a little in surprise. He wore an almost black overcoat as well, but his frame was so big it was impossible for him to keep a low profile.

They were two Guild Masters: Sherion Heartis from Red Gemini and Leonid Ballanche from Black Leo.

“Welcome~! I’ll take you to your seats!”
“Hey, Dick! I didn’t know you had a daughter! When did it happen? Going for the fox tribe is quite the smart move.”

Leonid had a very bright personality that didn’t fit his frame at all. Also, how could Mizuha be my daughter? She could’ve been my sister if she had to be blood-related to me… but that thought made me sorry for Zect.

“Sir Dick’s daughter…? Verlaine, wotcher think about it?”
“If it would imply that I helped him having you, it would be totally fine with me.”
“That’s not fine at all. Leonid, we last meet half a year ago. No matter how fast demi-humans grow, she couldn’t have grown this much in such a short time, so she can’t be my daughter. Also, stop calling me by name when you’re here, please.”
“Oh, please, at least be grateful I put on this cloak. It’s so hot outside I thought I’d be baked by the time I entered your bar.”

Sherry—it was Sherion’s pet name—started to fan herself with her overcoat. She was quite weak against heat, and the weather today perfectly fitted the criteria of the sixth month’s standard day.

“Oh, don’t worry, Dick. I only met her outside.”
“I’m quite younger than you, I doubt anyone would think we’re dating or something.”
“Hahaha! Why don’t we have a date where you pretend to be my granddaughter, then?”

Leonid was the oldest among the Guild Masters. He was old enough to have a grandchild. His adventurer score lowered over time and it was now settled at 54820 points, but he was still a veteran lancer in Black Leo.

Sherry was a red mage. She used same kind of abilities I used, but her magic was different.

It was very versatile: she could use it offensively, defensively, and for healing. Her magic worked especially well against men, who she could bind to her will. I was immune to it, but the average guy couldn’t stand a chance against her. Her adventurer score was 33927, making her a S rank adventurer.

The only condition to become a Guild Master was to be at least a S rank adventurer, but given that they couldn’t take many missions themselves, a guild couldn’t be judged by the strength of their Guild Master alone. Both Red Gemini and Black Leo were not to be underestimated.

“Mizuha, show them to their private room, please.”
“Yes, Ma’am! Please, follow me.”

After glancing at me, the two Guild Masters followed our new waitress. Even during lunchtime, when a few people started to enter the place to grab some food, no one noticed their presence.

◆◇◆

Funnily enough, Sherry liked sweet sherries1. To quench her thirst, I recommended her a cocktail made with her favorite sherry, some lemon juice, and a tiny bit of gin and sake along with some sugar cane syrup.
Leonid asked for a jug of brown ale and I ordered the same. I didn’t call them over to drink together, but we were still in a bar, so why not take the chance to drink something?

“First, let’s toast to our prosperous guilds! Cheers!”

Leonid rose his jug in high spirits and started to chug his ale down. Sherry sipped her drink the next moment and let out a soft ‘nice’.

“Great! The ale in this bar tastes very good!”
“So, Dick, why did you want to talk to us?”

Sherry asked with a deadpan expression on her face. Now that she had took off her overcoat, she was leaning over from her torso up, letting her huge breasts rest on the table. Maybe she didn’t notice or she wasn’t paying attention to it, and Leonid, who sat in front of her, didn’t care in the slightest, so I kept it to myself and let the conversation go on.

“Sherry, what kind of requests does White Aries hand you? I’m not asking for any secret detail, I’d just like to know what you can tell me.”
“Actually… I was waiting to get a better picture of the situation before talking to you. but I guess you noticed it already, huh?”
“What are you talking about? Is White Aries up to something? Those guys are no good…!”

While Leonid started to get irritated, Mizuha entered the room with another jug of ale for him. Verlaine must have guessed he was going to flare up soon and prepared him a refill in advance.

“Mister, I brought you another jug.”
“Oh, thank you, I appreciate it. Here, have a tip. Go buy something you like with it.”
“Wot?! A-Are yer right sure I can ‘ave it?! I-I mean, a-are you sure I can have it?”
“Of course, feel free to keep it. None of my chips has been wasted so far.”

Mizuha bowed politely before accepting, then left the room. Leonid never had bronze coins with him. He only paid at least with silver ones and never accepted any rest, so he often finished the money he brought with him.

Sherry waited a few moments before resuming our conversation. I guessed it was going to be something quite serious if not even my guild members had to hear it.

“Lately, we received a job that looked like an experiment.”
“An experiment…?”
“I think it’s about some magic item that has yet to be released on the market. It isn’t very clear on the request form, but that’s what I understood from what I read.”

The discussion turned for the worse in a moment. My trust for White Aries was starting to crumble to pieces.

One could own magic items, but they were absolutely illegal depending on their effects. Without a certification that stated a certain object or item could be used in the capital, nothing could be legally used or owned, and White Aries was now making their affiliated guilds experiment with some kind of unknown magic tool.

“Can you tell me more about it?”
“I refused to accept the request, so I don’t know the details and I didn’t see it myself. I think it’s something to control people, judging by the stuff written on the request form.”
“A mind-controlling magic item?! Like, an hypnotizing something?! What the hell is wrong with them?! It’s obviously bullshit!”

Leonid flared up again. Talking about White Aries must’ve put him in a bad mood.

Sherry’s words made me connect the dots… my guess was right.
White Aries was probably behind the demi-human traffic too. The item Sherry had mentioned could be the same contraption that was used to control Mizuha and the other demi-humans.
If that kind of item was improved and could extend its control over humans as well… the consequences would’ve been catastrophic.

“Did someone accept it, in the end?”
“All of this sounded wrong to me, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I asked all the other guilds. They told me they had refused, but Purple Scorpio never answered.”
“Lady Sherry, are you alright? Probing into their private affairs could mark you as their target.”
“So be it. If they want to dirt their hands, I’m ready to do the same. No matter how bothersome it will be.”

I knew she was a prideful Guild Master ready for anything, but she still looked slightly sleep-deprived. She gulped down some of her drink before facing me with her tired gaze.

“Dealing with White Aries is hard. The request form stated that those who accepted were going to work hand in hand with them and that no information had to be leaked. That’s probably how things are currently going in Purple Scorpio.”
“So now that you asked around, Lady Sherry, it’s like you’ve stepped into their territory?”
“I believe so. White Aries’ strongest adventurers are SS rank. If both of them were to raid our guild at the same time, they’ll play havoc with us…”

Zect would’ve never bothered to do that despite being as strong as them, but White Aries’ heads would use any means to make the other guilds behave.

Sherry’s lips trembled slightly. She was living in fear of that possibility.

“I should’ve noticed their actions sooner. Sorry I’ve been this slow, Sherry.”
“No problem… I cannot disobey their orders anyway, since we’re affiliated to them. But I must admit they did a lot for us, although things have changed now.”
“Maybe something happened to them, otherwise their Guild Master shouldn’t have reasons to do this… or was it just a change of mind? Maybe talking to them could help us getting the picture better. What’s your opinion, Dick?”
“Maybe it would be better if we keep our doubts a secret for now. It would be annoying if they dispatch too many people to keep an eye on us all.”

Still, given Sherry’s circumstances, we had to make her feel safer… or at least better.
I could read on Leonid’s face that he was thinking the same, and after gulping down what was left of his second jug, he folded his arms.

“As an adventurer guild, White Aries said they want to keep the order in the capital… but now I believe there’s something more in their words, or they just distorted them.”
“I don’t know… maybe I’m just reading too much into it… By the way, they’ve left a copy of the request in our guild. Dick, could you come to my guild to take a look at it?”

I’m sure she had already made it read to her intelligence team, but I really appreciated the honesty she was showing me.
If I had to go to Red Gemini, I could just pretend not to know anything about this. Maybe keeping this a secret even to the members of my guild and moving on my own would’ve been better.

“Sure, you can count on me.”

For the first time since we sat around the table, she looked relieved. I thought she was hiding to her guild members that she was actually being crushed by stress, and seeing her bring a hand to her chest and sigh only confirmed my guess. This meant that she accepted to come here to look for help.
A Guild Master bears the burden of all their guild members’s life. Sherry was a strong woman, that’s why she never let her distress out in the open.

She tried to reach out to her glass again, but her hands were shaking. As soon as I noticed it, I grabbed them and cast Mind cure.
The effects kicked in right away, and she lowered her gaze sneering at herself.

“I’m pathetic. I shouldn’t be afraid of something like this.”
“There’s nothing wrong in being afraid of something, Sherry. We can trust Dick in times like this. He would never leave a beauty like you alone.”
“Actually, I help everyone, no matter the beauty. I’m sure if I had any problem, you would help me too. Anyway, do you want some food?”

Sherry looked surprised by the sudden question, and her stomach grumbled. That’s the answer I wanted to hear.

“I… I forgot to have my breakfast… How embarrassing.”
“That’s the proof you’re still alive! Don’t be embarrassed! I’d like some meat, anyway! Dick, go cook something for us!”
“Don’t worry, we hired an expert cook. You won’t be disappointed.”

Verlaine was great at cooking, but we also had other cooks. A few minutes after we ordered, a nice smell of food started to waft from the kitchen. I ordered some roasted walnuts as well, given how talkative Sherry’s tummy was.
Leonid asked for a third jug of beer, gave another tip to Mizuha with a huge smile on his face and started to drink in high spirits.

Luckily, I was right about White Aries. Thank goodness I didn’t wait to ask about them.

I still didn’t know if Sherry’s guild was their accomplice, though… I had to lay my hands on White Aries’ unknown magic tool to figure it out.

Who built it? Where was it now? When did they want to use it? What did it do, specifically? Why creating it, in the first place?

Could my information network help me figure out everything about this matter?
The time had come—the investigation started.


1 He means the wine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherry Also, I asked a friend of mine who works as a bartender some help with the drink Dick prepares her, and he ended up insulting the author and suggesting me to change the drink because the thing described in the original doesn’t work. I’m not a bartender and I don’t get the mechanics behind drinks, so I trusted his words and I wrote about a drink he suggested that contains the very same ingredients described in the original webnovel plus some additional ones. Hope this won’t bite me back in the future.

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New Game – Chapter 41

What was of the man who opened the birdcage – Part 3

Takumi returned to Suzuran after the meeting.

“Hi guys, sorry it took me so long… what’s going on here?”

A loud noise invested him when he opened the door.
He saw a little crowd cramped in the dining room. Suzuran’s three most famous members Kunon, Karin and Mirta, the special tasks’ team Jill and Geiz, the demi-human force’s honor members Aigle and Levin, their lifelong friends Lilia and Killfer and many others were gathered in there.
For some reason, Lise was being thrown high up in the air from the middle of that crowd.
Karin turned around to see who had come, and there stood Takumi who was looking at the scene dumbfounded, probably wondering within him what on earth was going on.
She approached him.

“Welcome back. How was your talk with Lux?”

“Oh, we talked about territory and stuff… wait, why the heck are they throwing Lise in the air?”

“Weeell… when we started Lise’s welcome party, Lilia shouted that the winner of the drinking game would’ve won the right to hug Lise, but then Jill won and Aigle started crying and begging him to hand over the right, aaand… things ended this way, I guess.”

“I don’t get how it came to this. I’m getting the chills…”

“Honestly, I don’t really get all this either…”

Karin pointed at the crowd just in time to see Lise, who had been released in that very instant, running to them to look for help.

“He-Help me! They will break me if this keeps going!”

“NHHH~! Only touching Lady Lise makes me burst INTO JOY!”

“Stop it! Especially you, bird! I want you to stop coming at me!”

Lise hid behind Takumi as the huge frame of Aigle closed their distance.

“NYUUUHHH! WHAT SHALL I FOLLOW NOW, THE FAITH IN MY HEART OR THE LOYALTY IN MY BRAIN~?!”

“Dammit, does your faith ask you to chase after children? Also, keep your stupid voice down.”

“HAAAHHH! I BEG YOUR PARDON!”

“Levin, punish this boisterous bird.”

“Whaaat?! That’s a punishment for me as well, isn’t it?!”

“If you don’t behave, Kunon is gonna kick some discipline into you.”

“LORD LEVIIIN! I DO WANT TO DIE NOOOW!”

“Then leave it to me, Aigle! Let’s get our prize from Sis Kunon!”

The people watching them laughed soundly.
Takumi ignored them and turned his gaze to Lise, who had tugged his sleeve up to that moment… and there she was, with her arms wide open.

“What is it?”

“Everyone hugged me all together… now it is your chance to fulfill your duty.”

“Who decided that hugging you was my duty…?”

“It would be unfair if you were the only one who didn’t.”

She blushed slightly as she turned her face away from him, but she kept her arms wide open.
Takumi smiled wryly as he lifted her up quickly.

“Look how high you fly~!”

“This has been way more cringey than expected. Let me down, please.”

“Oh, c’mon, don’t say that. Can’t you see?”

Takumi pointed at the crowd with a nod of his head, and Lise turned her head to peek that way: everyone was smiling.
The closest people and the two clowns were laughing loudly at the funny scene, the ones who had ignored those dummies were wearing a wry smile, those who had kept a little distance were dragged into the mood by the liveliness.
Different races had broken down the walls dividing them… it was very nostalgic, as if the entire world had forgotten about that feeling until that moment.

“It’s a great view, right?”

Lise smiled happily in front of Takumi’s grin.

“Yes, it is wonderful… and you are too, since you have made it come true.”

Her words were soft as her lips curled into the most pure and innocent of smiles.
The person in Takumi’s arms wasn’t the gloomy child who was always afraid and worried by her surroundings: she was the little girl who earned her freedom after being caged for so long.
Thinking that, he couldn’t help but smile her back.

“I fulfilled my duty now, right? How long should I keep hugging you like a child?”

“…I am not a child. But I will turn a blind eye for this time.”

“Oww, thank you. This is your welcome party, isn’t it? Go have some fun with everyone.”

He let her down and pushed her slightly towards the lively crowd. Lise nodded before approaching the people happily.
The next moment, Takumi turned on his heels.

“Karin, I’ll leave the rest to you.”

“Okay, but… where are you going?”

“Elsa is waiting for me. I have to go with her.”

“Oh, do you have a new job? Then let me…”

“Nope, I’m going alone. ‘I’ll leave the rest to you’ means that you have to stay here.”

Takumi showed her a troubled smile while ruffling her hair.

“Stop it! How many times must I tell you I’m older than y—”

“This is why I leave everything specifically to you.”

He then flicked her on the forehead and left her behind. The elf looked puzzled as she stared at his back until the door, shutting behind him, hid it from her sight.

The slums were noisy as always. Takumi took a deep breath of air – which not even a flatterer could describe as ‘clean’, ‘pleasant’ or ‘fragrant’ – before facing Elsa.

“Thank you for your concern, Elsa Fairstadt, Captain of the Guards.”

He tried to be funny, but Elsa, who was waiting for him outside the door, didn’t change her expression.

“I already told you to stop acting like we don’t know each other. This is why I am concerned.”

“I see… but aren’t you going a bit too far?”

Takumi looked around them shrugging his shoulders.
Dozens of soldiers had their eyes on him, all of them with the same gloomy expression she was wearing. They were all guards of the slums.

“I took this measure not to make you run away from me. If you try, I’ll be forced to take your head.”

“That’s quite brutal, but I guess you’re just doing your job. Don’t worry, I don’t plan to resist. I’ll behave.”

“…Thank you for collaborating. Follow me according to formalities, then.”

Elsa pierced Takumi with her sharp gaze after taking a deep breath.

“Takumi, slave merchant of Suzuran, you are suspected of murdering Prince Kiad Fortesea. You are to follow me to the central and attend the inquisition’s trial, where your guilt will be discussed.”

Elsa then bit her lip as she understood she had just announced a death sentence.

“You’re under arrest.”

She spoke loudly, a sour expression on her face as she faced Takumi’s smile.

“Okay. I’ll come with you.”


Afterword (November 1st 2017)

Hey there, I’m Fujiki Washiro. Thank you for letting me publish the second volume of Saiteihen kara New Game. I’m really grateful to share this story with everyone and I’m glad I can keep working on it.
Since this is the afterwords of the second volume, let’s talk a bit about its contents.
Warning: this afterwords contains spoilers.

I introduced Lise Crest, the unfortunate key character of this arc, in this volume. She can hardly be herself with people, so she shows a lot of different parts of her personality or none at all.
Living her situation must be unfortunate and pitiful… that’s why I pictured her like ash.
I believe that being accepted and understood is a form of freedom too.

By the way, Mr. N – who was in charge of me this time – said ‘Lize is adorable! I sooo want to bully her!’
As the author of this novel, I would’ve never expected someone to get excited about seeing a little girl being treated like that.
Oh, but let me clarify: Mr. N is a very diligent and serious person.
When he informed me that ‘I really enjoyed choosing Lise’s pictures for this volume! Especially those where she gets beaten!’, I could hear the excitement of a diligent editor who took his job very seriously.
I also have to say that the e-mail where he said ‘Nice! There’s quite some bullying on Lise all through the volume! I like it!’ made me understand how serious and gentle an editor he is.

It is exactly because he’s that serious… that he must be really tired right now… (Me looking in the distance…)

Thinking about it, the first time I handed him the script he said ‘Wow, Mister Fujiki, you really like to bully little girls, huh?’ and well – no. That’s just a misunderstanding.
I like the latter part, which is ‘despite being an unfortunate little girl, once Lise got saved, she could finally show an innocent smile to everyone’, which means that I don’t strictly like the process that brings to that ending, but the ending in itself. It’s a different literary current.
I hope you enjoyed the Lise my editor Mr. N got so excited about.

Now I need to talk about the structure of magic in this world.
Rather than flashy scenes with magic, I pictured magic simply.
The characters will have a lot to do with it from now on in this story. I’m planning of writing at least ten volumes of this novel, and to do so, I needed to define it early in the story.
I’m hoping I can reach my goal, so I introduced it in this one.
I hope I explained it well… I’m still a bit worried about it. I’ll keep doing my best.

Okay, now I’m done with the serious part of the afterwords and I’m a bit tired, so think of the rest of this part as the author being an ass.

Maaan, the Goddess’ tiddies’ size was suuuper appreciated!

Yeah, in this novel there are a lotta characters with big breasts!
In the first volume, the only small-breasted girl was Kunon, that’s why I tried to balance the ratio with Lise and the Queen in this one. I’m the worst, huh?
On the other hand, the Goddess’ grew bigger. Let me be honest about it, I even set a reminder that explicitly stated ‘Make the Goddess’ breasts bigger, please’ for both the illustrator and I.
The girls’ breasts aren’t filled only with dreams, but they also foreshadow—
Crap, there isn’t enough space for it! Oh well, don’t mind my inclinations too much, please.

Enough with the stupid talk, it’s time to thank everyone who’s helped me so far.
To the person in charge of me, Mr. N: I picture you as the man who enjoys seeing little girls being bullied. Our literary schools might differ, but we share similar tastes, so I’m looking forward to working with you again.
To the person in charge of the illustrations, Yuzuka: thank you very much for all the illustration you did. When I first received your design of Lise, both my editor and I talked so much about how cute she is that we didn’t have more time to talk about the rest of the story. In a way or another, you demonstrated perfectly how cuteness can be a destructive power.
To the editorial staff and the people who allow me to publish this book: I’m grateful to all of you from the bottom of my heart.
To you: I hope you enjoyed this volume. I would be very glad if you did.

Fujiki Washiro


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Guild Master – Chapter 45

Tl note: I hoped I didn’t get anything else wrong, but then I noticed that Aileen actually has two little pink horns on her head, so yep, she’s actually a demon, not a spirit. Fml.
I changed the following chapters to fix it: prologue 1, chapter 6, c.14, c.27, c.28, c.29, c.40. Now I seriously hope I fixed all my derpy old choices.
Oh, I decided to translate Mizuha’s accent with cockney’s (thank you Background Character for suggesting it). Hope she sounds enough cockney-ish.


The tipsy fox and the demon form’s after-effects

As Mizuha emerged from the bathtub, I secured my towel around my waist.
How did I end up in this situation?

She was stark naked. If I had to compare her with Yuma—and I won’t specify what part I’m talking about—I’d say it was evident that she had been blessed with curves more generous than the youngest miracle children’s. If her most private parts weren’t hidden by her hair, I would’ve fled from there at full speed… but I was barely safe for now.

I knew she enjoyed her coconobi shake, and I guessed she felt grateful since I asked her brother to join my guild, but waiting naked in the bathroom for a random guy she had just met was a little too much… and to make things worse, it looked like we were at least ten years apart.

Maybe I was jumping to conclusions, but it felt like Mizuha had truly waited in there.

“Aaah~! There are two Lord Dicks~! Oh, three! Struth! Oww, wot should I do~? Put the mockers on multiplyin’~!”
“What? Wait, your face is kind of red… the water is barely lukewarm, how can you feel dizzy from it…?”

Then, the answer flashed in my mind.

“…Oh no. Did Zect let you taste his drink?”
“Ehehe~! Sorry~! Me brother ‘as left the coconobi fruit behind… I thought it were a waste ter leave it there, so I took a bite from it and it were sooo good~!”
“Y-You ate the coconobi…? The one soaked in rum?”
“It tasted somewhat bitter at first, but then it were sooo sweet~! It’s been a long time since I last ate sumfink so tasty! Blimey!”

Rum’s abv, or ‘alcohol by volume’, is quite high. For example, it’s way easier to get drunk with rum than with beer given the latter’s low abv. An adult probably wouldn’t be affected by eating a coconobi fruit soaked in rum, but that isn’t the same for someone around Mizuha’s age.

“’E ‘as left a bit o’ ‘is drink too, so I finished it for ‘im~! I luv milk, but I might luv drinks more than that~! I ‘ope me brother leaves more for me next time~!”
“Honestly, I don’t. Minors shouldn’t drink, so you’re forbidden from doing that.”
“Okaaay~! Yer ‘ave a look somewhat like me brother, yer know~? I’m so glad ter spot this many brothers and sisters ’round me, as well as Verlaine and yer…!”

Wait, what? No one’s around… oh, right, that’s just drunk gibberish.

I could make her recover from her condition by touching her stomach… but what if she sobered up and accused me of laying my hands on her? It was better to let the alcohol run its course.

“I like this bath! Blimey! I couldn’t ‘ave any wheh I stood before, neither I could enter many public ones… many blokes think it sucks ter enter a bath that’s been used by a demi-‘uman…”
“Is that so…? I heard that Lia used Timis’ bath.”
“Right? That tiger miss said I should’ve told ‘er if anyfink arsed me. Right… I’m lovin’ this guild more and more~!”
“This guild doesn’t discriminate demi-humans, and this will never change.”
“Lord Dick…!”

I wasn’t saying something particularly touching, but tears welled in her eyes as she looked at me deeply moved.

She was probably younger than Yuma… wait, maybe they were the same age. Even Yuma, who was four years younger than me, lately looked more like a lady, and Mizuha—despite looking a bit younger—was evidently growing too, so maybe…
Wait, what the hell was I thinking. I didn’t have time for this!

Zect had entrusted me his sister so he could go take the things they had left in Blue Sagittarius’ dormitory, and I was indeed taking care of her in some way or another, although I didn’t want to end up in this situation… But a good Guild Master should play well their cards—I still had some way to escape from all of this.

“Mi-Mizuha, I think you might want to dry yourself up and go to sleep before you catch a cold.”
“I’m not cold~! ‘Ot baths make me feel dizzy, but I’m arright now~! This water’s warm and pleasant~! By the way, let me show yer me gratitude~!”

She then climbed on the bathtub’s edge, splashing water around. Now, that was dangerous and very careless of her, and I couldn’t tell if that unwise move had been dictated by the alcohol or by her need of showing me her gratitude.

I mean, it wasn’t that far in the past that I had seen Beatrice, Aileen and the others naked, and Mizuha’s beauty wasn’t that far from theirs given the charm of her fox traits and her small frame, also…
Okay, no. I really had to calm down.

She shook the water off her tail and ears, then she showed me a pearly smile.
Suddenly, a thought flashed through my mind rivaling the speed of my eyes scanning her body: if her sense of shame was being dulled by alcohol, wouldn’t she going to feel horrible once she sobered up?
I couldn’t ignore it.

“Lord Dick, yer sure ‘ave a solid build~! Yer almost ‘ave a look more muscular than me brother~!”
“W-Well… Guild Masters should be ready to face emergencies at all times.”
“I spot~! If yer was stronger than Aileen, yer could ‘ave me dahn wiv a single flick on me ‘ead~!”

I kept casting Support Magic on myself to keep my muscles trained despite being sitted all day at the bar. Zect’s body was very well built and I thought mine was less sturdy than his, but Mizuha’s ecstatic gaze made me guess she would’ve disagreed with me.
She wasn’t looking at me as she looked at her brother… and being stared from head to toe like that was unsettling in its own way.

I had seen many girls becoming very straightforward when they were drunk, but that kind of temper was dangerous on many more levels when the involved parties shared the same bathroom—I was starting to feel nervous and somewhat filthy.

Aileen lent Mizuha one of her dresses because the demi-human’s only garment was her brother’s overcoat at first, but I would’ve never expected to see this girl in her birthday’s suit.
I let this be a lesson—I had to be extra-careful when the girls slept here. Who knew how could they act.

“Oh, right? Are yer thinkin’ o’ flickin’ me ‘ead? Feel free ter give it a go if it’s only for once~!”

She got closer nonchalantly with a smile on her face, and her hair, until now covering her delicate parts, swayed along with her movements, failing to cover what they had to.

“I, huh… I-It’s better if I don’t. Yeah, sorry, let me leave. Zect might get unhappy about this…”
“Me brother still treats me like a child, but I’d like ‘im ter put the mockers on it… I’m plenty grown up right now. I’m bloody well not a child anymore.”

She mouthed those words with a sour expression on her flushed face.
Alcohol probably contributed to her little burst of anger, but the very next moment she smiled to me so kindly I felt my strength melt away—her face was now bright, no shades of negativity tainting it.

“Enough wiv that go on, it’s time ter show yer me gratitude~! I actually ‘ad a plan ter do this in some uvver way later, but well, right, yer shouldn’t ‘ave enter the bathroom wen I were in~!”

I was really glad for her feelings and I felt like young demi-human girls quickly became affectionate to me… Riko did too. There must’ve been some reason behind it… maybe my smell?

“Chuff~! Yor back’s so broad~! Even more than me favver’s~!”
“Did you wash your father’s back? What a devoted daughter you are.”
“’Uh, I didn’t. I seen it wen I were yornger, I were just recallin’… Me favver ‘as quite a big body compared ter the average ‘umans, and yet yer…”

The back of a man speaks for them, huh? That’s not very true, but Mizuha, after walking around me, stopped behind me and somewhat confirmed that figure of speech.

She looked interested in washing my back to show me her gratitude. This whole situation was a bit embarrassing, but if that was all she really wanted, there was no reason to panic.

I untied my towel, paying attention not to show her anything, and sat on a bath stool. She then grabbed a soapy towel and started to rub my back so gently I thought she was trying to tickle me.

After a little while, when I thought she was done and I could stand up, I froze in place.

She had now passed from my back to my arm, leaning on me—her hot body was pressing against mine, and I could distinctly feel something particularly soft rubbing my back.

“Lord Dick, I can’t reach well yor arms from ‘ere… could yer raise them up for me?”
“L-Like this…?”

I did what she asked not to deepen the embarrassment of the situation, and the next moment, she rubbed my armpit. That’s when my body started to writhe due to the tickling.

It didn’t matter if I was a SSS rank adventurer who had defeated the previous Demon Lord: being tickled under the armpit was one of my weaknesses. There was nothing wrong with it. A man with insensible armpits is a mere golem.

“Ugh! Mi-Mizuha, I think you did enough…”
“I can’t put the mockers on it now, right, I still ‘ave ter wash the uvver side~! Amazin’, yor muscular even ‘ere…! Me arms are so puny compared ter yors…”

Her comments made me feel like I owned Zect an apology. Enduring the tickling was a sort of torture, but I was sure my endurance had hit a level up, and it didn’t last long. Humans sure grow fast…

“This should do~! Let me ‘ave some water ter wash it all away~! Mhhh… Oookay, Lord Dick~! Here I cooOHHH—”
“Ugh—!”

She had slipped on the floor and my body moved on its own: to prevent her from falling and hitting her head, I flashed on my feet and held her in my arms.

“I… I’m sorry, my foot slipped…”
“It’s fine. Are you hurt?”
“N-Nuffink ‘urts, right, but… me chest feels sort of…”
“…”

My hand was touching one of the soft things she had pushed on my back a few minutes before.

“Lord Dick…”

It was the second time she had whispered my name with her sweet voice.
I knew I should have left right after the first one.

It didn’t matter if I held her to prevent an accident: the moment she was in my arms, I had touched something I shouldn’t have, so I had to take responsibility for my actions.

Her face flushed a bright red when she looked straight at me, her eyes wet again, her quivering lips slightly parted.

“Chuff… I feel so dizzy…”
“Mi-Mizuha?”

Her body went limp.
I guessed she gave in to drunkness and sleepiness the moment her brain registered that she had completed her task.

Now I had to ask one of the girls to come dress her up and get her to sleep, but… how would I ask them?
Like, if I were to tell them the truth—meaning that she got drunk because she ate the coconobi fruit her brother had left in his glass—and they didn’t trust me, it would make me look like a disgusting pig who seduced a young demi-human girl and took advantage of her in the bathroom.

“Lord Dick… your back’s so… big…”

As I wondered how big she thought it was, I mustered my courage and lifted her while trying my best not to take advantage of her condition to look at her. I then carried Mizuha to the warm bathtub again, where I left her, and exited the bathroom without the slightest shade of guilt in me.

◆◇◆

My head was filled with terrible outcomes as I walked to the livingroom praying any superior entity not to make things go as bad as I was picturing them.
Dick, what did you do to Mizuha?
I would have never expected you to have such a sinful soul. I should lead it to Heaven once and for all.
Disgusting. My trust was wasted on scum like you, Dick.
Wow, so you’re like that… disappointing.

“Nh~! Yuma, your hands are so warm~!”
“Aileen, stop moving… It will be over in a minute… amazing, this is so…!”

The chain of events I had pushed through that day etched in my mind that very moment—Aileen had stripped and was lying on the sofa while Yuma touched her belly.

My gods, that couldn’t be true—they couldn’t have gone that far already… but as I took a peep at them, I noticed that Aileen’s body was producing red magic power which looked tainted by some big and little black spots. It all flowed into Yuma and then returned into its owner without impurities.

Yuma was… probably purifying her soul.
Aileen’s demonic powers were the proof her soul was getting slowly consumed by the wrath it housed. However, thanks to Yuma’s soul-purifying abilities, she could keep it at bay.

“…Thank you, I feel sooo much better now. Sorry for bothering you when you’re tired, Yuma.”
“Do not worry, I will always help you. One of the missions in my life is to keep your soul clean at all times.”
“Oww… that would make you my best friend. If it wasn’t for you, I might’ve already become a Demon Lord myself…”

That was the consequence of using her demonic power against Mizuha.
Aileen’s ‘standard’ adventurer score was around 95.000, which didn’t make her a real SSS rank adventurer, but it rose drastically when she used her demonic powers. To put it simply, her ability was like Mizuha’s: they both could turn into their ancestors’ form and use their powers.

The demonic race was the strongest on the battlefield, and Aileen housed their prowess within herself. However, the demons’ urge of destruction was so dreadful it consumed their owners’s soul, so using their power too much meant tearing oneself apart.

Once Yuma was done with treating Aileen, the demon put on her clothes again and patted her ‘nurse’ on the head. The younger girl accepted her gratitude with an embarrassed smile on her face.

“…Aileen, sorry for having you use your powers. I didn’t think you needed to.”
“Hey… d-don’t worry. I won’t become a monster as long as Yuma’s with me.”
“Yes, there is no need to worry. I purified her soul… and… when it looks so pure, it reminds me… ahh… I would love to purify yours too, Dick…”

Yuma could see through everything—she could see the soul of people. There was no guilt within me, so it looked like she didn’t notice anything strange, but Aileen was staring at me in silence. The pressure of her gaze was slowly crushing me… was there a man who could withstand it in the world?

“Dick, I don’t see Mizuha… don’t tell me you…”
“N-No, let me explain. She has drunk some of her brother’s drink and she’s now a bit more than tipsy. Could you go help her?”
“Right away, Master.”
“I’m coming too… by the way, why are you all still awake in the dead of night?”

Mylarka and Verlaine had returned from the floor below just in time: the next moment, they were heading to the bathroom to take care of the matter while Mylarka searched for an answer to her question.
The genius girl often ended up drunk herself, so leaving Mizuha to them should’ve been fine.

“Dick, you look quite tired. Should I quell your soul?”
“Yuma, you know that ‘should I quell your soul’ gives off a funny vibe, right?”
“Mh…? Quelling souls is wonderful for me… what kind of funny vibe does it give?”
“Well… hahaha~! Nothing, I was just reading too much into it!”

Yuma was seriously puzzled and Aileen, who couldn’t bring herself to explain what she meant, just masked her comment with a smile.

Aileen was now looking a lot better. Maybe I should’ve asked Yuma to clean my impurities away… without letting her lead my soul to Heaven.


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