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>

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.


<Prev | Index | Next>

1+

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.


<Prev | Index | Next>

0

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


<Prev | Index | Next>

0

New Game – Chapter 40

What was of the man who opened the birdcage – Part 2

The dark basement room was painted with pale shades of melancholy. The dim sources of light glowing around were scattered magic tools. Natural light never reached that place.

Kiad was cowering on the floor, his body shaking. What had been of his brawny figure was now gone. He looked one or two sizes smaller and weaker than before.
No light shone in his dead-looking eyes as he scanned around the room.

What was placed on his desk was now littering the floor. All his documents were torn to pieces and chunks of wood lied nearby the walls—they were probably former chairs he had smashed.

Kiad had been deprived of his magic power. Takumi cast him in that hell after their fight.
He could no longer active any of the law formulas his father had researched for so long.
Despite being blood-related to Elvis, he never tasted his father’s benevolence or mercy. All he had to do was not to fail, and if he did once, he wasn’t allowed to a second time.

Elvis, who only cared about the sheer power of people, wouldn’t let his children inherit the family’s headship only because they were his legitimate sons. Sigurd—Kiad’s younger brother—had been chosen to be the heir to the throne given his diligence to his father’s orders.
He never failed to complete one.

On the other hand… Kiad’s destiny was to become a miserable laughing stock if people came to know he had lost his magic power.

“I… I won’t fail again…!”

He squeezed those words out of his throat, but his hand tremors betrayed his confidence.
The afterimage of that obnoxious, triumphant smile was burnt in his mind—it flickered endlessly, and so did his fortitude.
He had walked on his path through life by believing in himself and acting as he wanted… but now he couldn’t take a single step forward—no future pictured him victorious.

“If only… If only I had won that battle…!”

He firmly believed he could win the match Elvis had stopped. He knew he could’ve won against Takumi back then. This wasn’t his arrogance talking, it was just a matter of fact—Kiad was definitely strong and possessed the strongest magic in the entire Kingdom, the valiant Fortesea’s. That slave merchant didn’t stand a chance to win against him.
However, Elvis wasn’t sure of it, so things turned out like this. His father had denied him that victory.

“Right… it wasn’t my fault…! I wasn’t the cause of my defeat…!”

Yes, his father had just grown old and coward… he didn’t need to care about him.
He only had to be himself… and act as he wanted to.
The moment a breath of relief blew into him, he heard someone knocking on the door.

“I SAID I DON’T WANT TO MEET—”

“Don’t you dare to speak to your father like that.”

Kiad grasped right away who was talking and shrunk even further.
The door opened slowly, letting in the ticking sound of his cane tapping the floor.

“I haven’t seen your face in a while… you look awful.”

The man’s grave voice fit his stony expression, as he looked down his pitiful son.

“Father… why are you here?”

“What a strange question. A father should visit his sons when they’re moping.”

Kiad clicked his tongue in his mind at those shameless words. He knew his father had just lied. Elvis Fortesea didn’t have the slightest ounce of familial love within him—his sons were just useful or useless beings like any other.

“I ordered Suzuran’s slave merchant and his attendants to hunt some monsters.”

“Hunt some monsters…?”

“Yes. This time I’m worried, so I took the right measures.”

Strangely enough, there was a shade of emotions in Elvis’ voice.

“Putting your failure aside, my blood runs through your veins. As opposed to Sigurd, who would be a mere nobody without me, you have the makings of a Valiant Fortesea… I’m here to grant you a chance to redeem yourself, although I never invested my time on you so far. Help me, instead of rotting away in a place like this.”

Kiad raised his head, light returning to his eyes—his father had praised him.

“Will you… let me redeem myself?”

“Why wouldn’t I? This is my consideration for my son.”

“I… I will surely repay your kindness.”

Kiad bowed his head down.
He didn’t expect his father to show him any mercy… but now, he could have his revenge. He could fan its flames by seething anger and hatred. That obnoxious slave merchant would pay for what he had done.

“I already sent a message to Sigurd. He’s incompetent but he obeys my words. He should be heading to Renunt by now.”

“Sigurd…? So will he use Denmerg’s monsters?”

“Of course. That slave merchant might hinder my plans, so burning his surroundings to the ground and letting him squirm in despair is the least he deserves.”

Tack, tack—Elvis repeatedly stabbed the ground with his cane.
Takumi wasn’t someone he could just mess around with, so he carefully gathered enough resources to take him down.

“If I use the magic crystal that Archbishop Crest made for you, our plan will be perfect… and there’s no way it won’t be, so there’s nothing to fear.”

Kiad was paying particular attention to his father’s words. When he perceived the glacial tone in the old man’s voice, he suddenly understood that something was off.

“So… what should I do for you, father?”

“Mh? Do you not understand?”

“I apologize… As far as I grasped, the plan is to make Sigurd crush them. That’s why you ordered him to go to…”

“Do you not understand, Kiad?”

His father interrupted him brazenly and stabbed him on the chest with his cane, a brimming smile distorting his face.

“Ouch…! What…?”

Kiad let out a dumb voice when he looked down to see the butt end of the cane piercing him.

“I see… so he did something to you. Given that you can’t use magic or activate magic tools, he must have messed up your magic formula, huh…?”

Elvis kept stabbing his son’s chest, his expression never changing. His heartless gaze made him look like he was looking down on a worm.

“This is my consideration for you. My plan would be flawless without you… so don’t be afraid of the future and depart to the same sky all the heroes are sleeping in.”

“Don’t… mess with me…! Are you saying I should die here…?!”

Kiad grabbed the cane that was stabbing him, trying to defend himself, but the slender arms of the old man were insanely strong, and gradually his stabs became harsher.

“You are miserable, Kiad.”

When his cane impaled his son, he twisted it and saw Kiad spitting an ominous amount of blood.

“You’re way too incompetent and you’ve always failed to notice. You’re just a worthless nobody who thinks too much of himself, and you even failed to follow my steps. Your smoldered, almost non-existent ambition is but a fragment of wisdom… but let me tell you something.”

His cold words cut Kiad like a knife as he readied to stab him again in the hole he had dug on his chest.

“The only reason you are alive was to breed so that the blood of Fortesea could keep flowing through this world after my death… that was the only expectation I had for you, and yet you couldn’t live up to that too. You’re just a useless pig groveling on this earth.”

Elvis never stopped stabbing his son while talking.

“Still, I found some worth into your uselessness. Even a waste like you could be a pawn against that obnoxious slave merchant. Rejoice, for your end has now a meaning that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. First, you let that slave merchant get the better of you—dancing on his palm like a puppet has been ridicule of you—then you let him take Lise away from you, and lastly you let him destroy your magic formula, which was something inviolable. No one must know about it.”

When his son’s consciousness started to dim, Elvis remembered something and stopped for a moment his lunatic assault.

“Right… I almost forgot to tell you. This is the first time you’ve been of any use to me, dear son.”

His expression was stony and cold as he watched the light in Kiad’s eyes die out.


<Prev | Index | Next>

0

New Game – Chapter 39

What was of the man who opened the birdcage – Part 1

Two weeks after Lize had become property of the Queen, Lux called Takumi to see him in his office. It was within the castle.

“Hi, slave merchant. This time you’ve really met my expectations in a positive way.”

Lux looked totally different from the last time as he spoke in a good mood. On the other hand, Takumi let out a listless yawn.

“Yeah, whatever, I’m glad to hear that… Have I ever mentioned that seeing you Fairstadt in a good mood kinda pisses me off? Because it does and it’s strange. Maybe I’m getting why Kunon gives her worst when she’s around you.”

“You could’ve spared me your dumb remark and avoided pissing me off too. But well, thanks to you the Queen has dragged me into her plan, so I’ll turn a blind eye for now.”

“Thank you. Why did you call me all the way here, anyway?”

Lux straightened himself, a sour expression on his face. He knew their conversation wasn’t going to be pleasant.

“Let’s start from the good news. The Queen has assigned your knight subordinates their territory. It’s the place you asked for.”

As he spoke, Lux took out a document from his desk and handed it over.

“Finally… now many things are going to be easier.”

“Many things, huh…? I can’t let my guard down when you’re involved… What are you up to this time? Don’t go too far, or you’ll have to face a bothersome guy.”

Lux squinted his eyes slightly as he pushed the conversation on.

“Elvis has acknowledged you as his enemy. It would be better if you don’t draw his attention too much.”

“Do you think I’ll stay put only for this?”

“Of course not, but he’s surely the most bothersome person in the entire kingdom. What I’m about to say goes for you too—the scariest people are those who are hard or impossible to read.”

Lux propped his chin with his hand while tapping repeatedly on the desk with a finger.

“He wasn’t only behind Archbishop Crest’s law formula’s experiments. I heard he was in contact with many major companies of the northern districts during the former empire, and he also has contacts with Denmerg. He must be searching for something and hiding his true objective… but gathering information about him doesn’t help to piece everything together.”

No matter how inexperienced Lux was, he was still an Overlord with all the privileges it included. This meant that if he couldn’t figure out what Elvis was planning despite doing his researches on him, the Fortesea’s leader was particularly good at covering his actions up.

“The only thing I’m sure about is that he’s planning something from the shadows. Keep your eyes peeled, okay?”

“Yeah, sure. So I should also find a way to gather information about him and share them with you?”

“I knew you would’ve gone straight to the point, but I don’t want you to do anything reckless. To be honest, it would be a hard blow if we were to lose you now.”

“…Meeting your expectations brings as many fruits as problems, you know? Nobles have been sending me petitions since our official fight was announced.”

Takumi shrugged his shoulders lightly while Lux’s grimaced, patting his stomach.
The nobles saw magic as something peerless and none would’ve expected for mere demi-humans to squash that one-sidedly. The obvious consequence of such an absurdity was a lingering feeling of distress for those who had been looking down on demi-humans for so long.

“On the other hand, we’re now heroes for the slums, aren’t we? This is the first time in history that some demi-humans earn the title of knights.”

“Well, you’ve been heroes for a while now. The heroic major company that fights injustice, the heroic knights who ascended from the slums… and the heroic monster hunters, I guess.”

Lux handed over an envelope to the slave merchant.

“Let’s get to the bad news. Elvis Fortesea ordered the new novice knights to exterminate some monsters.”

Takumi scanned the documents in the envelope quickly while Lux filled him with the details.

“They’ve been assigned to Renunt Village, which it’s been attacked by monsters. Kunon and Karin are to eliminate the monsters and improve the village’s morale. This way you will also shut the skeptical nobles down by showing them your abilities.”

The next moment, Takumi made a sour expression.

“…You’re kidding, right?”

“Can’t you see Elvis’ official stamp down there?”

“I don’t care if it’s authentic. Can’t I just burn this down and go home?”

“Congratulations, you’ve been accused of treason. The jail will be your new home now.”

Lux smiled bitterly in front of Takumi’s deep sigh.

“Don’t worry, Renunt Village is nearby the foot of Meld mountain range in the North. That’s probably why we get report of minor monsters attacking the village. That shouldn’t be a problem for you guys, right?”

Monsters were living creatures in their world.
Sometimes the magical power on the earth made some beasts outgrow. These oddities were called ‘monsters’, as they were usually dangerous, and there was often need to eliminate them.

Still, the minor ones weren’t that dangerous.
As for the few times that one of them outgrew, even a strong man who grasped the basis of martial arts or a woman who knew how to build and lay traps around could capture them without much effort.

“Well, your order from above is essentially to make a good impression on your boss. Now, no matter how minor these monsters are, we received a lot of reports about their attacks. It might be hard to deal with all of them without a magic knight if there are too many, but try to deal with it and protect the village.”

“…How many reports did you receive?”

“Perhaps dozens? None of the nearby village reported serious damage, though.”

Takumi’s expression warped in an instant, hearing those words.
Then, his usual smile returned to crack his face.

“…Well, as long as we don’t have to hunt some major monster or have to deal with insane requests, everything’s fine.”

“Where is your usual ‘it’s gonna be a piece of cake’ sort of arrogance?”

“I mean, as long as we have to deal with minor monsters or middle class ones, it might only be a hassle… but the major ones can use magic, you know?”

The middle class monsters had humongous bodies, but it ‘merely’ took several men to defeat one.
On the other hand, the major monsters not only had humongous bodies, they could also use magic. This meant that their size usually placed them at the top of the food chain, and their magic simply confirmed that position—they could literally be man-eating giants.
The worst part was that monsters not only feasted on humans, but on their magic formulas too, which meant they had to be vanquished as soon as possible.

“If one who can use advanced magic was to appear, this country might be done for.”

“You’re right. We handled them the few times they appeared, but I remember some years ago the majority of the magic knights had been deployed to bring one down. Probably only the heroes in the west city-states could have faced it alone like us.”

“Yeah, fighting a monster like that would be a huge pain in the ass. But humans are still scarier than monsters.”

“I agree. Elvis sent you this directive for a reason. I’m sure he’s planning something… and you should consider Kiad taking his revenge too.”

Lux crossed his arms on his chest, wearing a sour expression.

“I heard he has changed in a bad way. The guards in the upper layers said his arrogance is gone and he always looks tired and almost emaciated. He hasn’t set foot outside his mansion once yet.”

“Oww, poor thing. I did something horrible.”

“Please, I know you don’t feel sorry at all… honestly, he deserved it. He was rather unpleasant to see, so you have my gratitude.”

Lux shrugged his shoulders, then faced Takumi with a sharp gaze.

“Anyhow, just be careful, okay? You still have lots of things to do.”

“Yeah, sure. Guess I’ll cut my subordinates some slack for once, then.”

“…Excuse me?”

Lux was even more puzzled to see Takumi’s merry expression.

“I mean, Renunt Village has some hot springs, right? We got assigned there, so we could take a breather and enjoy a bath for once.”

“…Don’t tell me you asked for a place in the middle of nowhere like that only for this reason.”

“What, is it so wrong? I like bathing and I love hot springs. The reason I accepted the Queen’s request has been half for Lize and half for the hot springs.”

“I don’t know why I feel like that’s not all there is to it… also, I think I’m getting why you’re this happy…”

Lux felt all his strength drain away while Takumi put all the documents in his bag.

“I’ll take my leave now. I have a guest today.”

“A guest…? Oh, Archbishop Crest?”

“Exactly. I heard she was ordered to get along and deepen her friendship with the major company Suzuran by the Queen. Our chief is in high spirits since this morning.”

“Oh… Mirta is? That sounds good, doesn’t it?”

A bitter smile thinned Lux’s lips as he recalled Mirta when they were younger.

“By the way, can I borrow Elsa for a bit?”

“Sure thing. If I let her handle you, my stomachache will surely get better.”

“Don’t force your stupid stomachache on each other, siblings.”

“I don’t want to hear that from its living cause. Go have all the fun you want.”

Takumi exited the room the next moment with light steps, closing the door behind him. Lux could finally let out a soft sigh of relief.

“I can’t read you at all…”

His words were directed to the door the bothersome slave merchant had just closed behind him.


<Prev | Index | Next>

2+

New Game – Chapter 38

The birdie’s tears – Part 6

The approaching evening darkened the sky, dimming Takumi’s path as he walked through the aquamarine garden. The glossy marble under his feet kept reflecting a faint light even in the sunset.

“Why, are you not a bit late?”

Eluria’s words reached Takumi when he entered the gazebo. Her gaze was wandering in the darkening sky.

“I’ve had to babysit your article and now she’s taking a nap. Do you mind it?”

The Queen looked at Lise and smiled happily as she stretched her hand to caress the child’s sleeping face.

“Ehehe… She is adorable even now, is she not?”

“Yeeeah, whatever. Let’s get down to business.”

Takumi lay the child nearby his customer and took a document off his breast pocket.

“This is Lise’s contract. I usually want the buyer to treat their slaves like human beings, but since this is quite a special case, there’s more stuff you’re bound to follow. Read this carefully before accepting.”

“There is no need to, I already understand what this is about. It goes along the lines of ‘this contract binds Queen Eluria to ensure the safety of Lise Crest and her mother Serena Crest. She also have to take care of the latter’s medical treatment fees’, right?”

She tittered and Takumi shrugged his shoulders.

“Do not worry, it was my intent from the start. Now that Lise belongs to me, I will do whatever it takes to protect her and her family. This is my moral duty, and if someone will dare to tarnish my vow, I shall act brazenly.”

“Right… the overlords hold the real power of the country in their hands, but they fear your dreadful amount of political power. However, as the embodiment of the city’s symbol and direct descendant of our Goddess, you can’t move around too much… but with Lise, now you can work around the problem.”

“Exactly. No matter how a showpiece of a Queen I am, I cannot let my country twist without lifting a finger.”

Her beaming grin betrayed the flaming rage in her eyes.

“I was enthroned when my predecessor, my mother, perished. Given my age at the time, the power of the country had to be split between the three overlords… thus I was robbed of my freedom.”

She didn’t own any executive power despite being the city’s living symbol and its Queen—her current condition was the mere product of the plan a third party had put into action.
No matter her authority or influential speeches, the overlords had the last word on the majority of the decisions.

“However, I shall now act through Lise and Lux. Especially against Elvis, that crafty man. Otherwise I will never be satisfied.”

“Good. Let us know if we can help. You can use Lise now, so stop sending us secret letters and strange invitations, okay?”

A request was written in the invitation to the buffet addressed to Suzuran: save a certain someone. That short message was the reason behind Takumi’s actions since the day he had read them.

“By the way, is Lux gonna join us too?”

“Yes. He is afraid of the power Fortesea is gathering, so we are collaborating to keep them under control.”

“Well, I made a profit from it last time, so I don’t mind it. By the way, can you answer one of my questions?”

Eluria nodded at him as he slightly changed his tone of voice.

“How did you notice that Kiad was mirroring information like that?”

The Archbishop would have never betrayed Kiad by telling someone the truth.
If Lise, who had magic tools that could mirror information with her, was to talk to Eluria, everything she’d hear would’ve been mirrored.

“You sent me a letter because you couldn’t ask it out loud, huh? And you even took into consideration that writing too much would’ve alerted the listeners by the prolonged sound of the brush on the paper, that’s why you kept the message short, right?”

“Exactly. I knew someone as observant as you could get what Lise was going through… after all, you have based your information network on the slaves you bind with those contracts, right?”

The slave merchant squinted his eyes—that was a top-secret information.
Only Takumi, Karin, Kunon and a part of the demi-human unit knew it. None of their closest and most intimate friends did.
The specific words ‘information network’ were just too specific even for someone like Killfer, who was very sharp and also part of the web. Only someone who already knew about it could have been that precise.

“The contracts you created are very interesting. The letters are positioned in specific ways, the overall layout is constant, everything is within edges or frames, you use different kinds of ink for different kinds of paper… there are various reasons behind it, right?”

She looked straight at Takumi, who had lowered his head lost in thought, as another titter slept from her lips. She had just addressed the true essence of his contracts.
A few instants later he reached the answer to his question and rose his head back, then faced the Queen’s gaze.

“I see… You got everything from looking at the law formula I created, huh?”

“Eheheh, you get full marks~! Or rather, I wish you had, but you only got half right.”

“I guess the other half is gonna be a secret, right?”

“It sure will. In exchange, no one will know the truth behind your contracts. Sharing a secret with your Queen sounds fun, does it not?”

“I’m about to ask you to spare me this link, oh wicked Queen…”

“Why, older women do not fit your taste?”

“They absolutely do. I’m still in time for a certain slave quite some times older than me, though.”

“Aww… not even I can match the beauty of an elf, huh…?”

Takumi couldn’t help but smile wryly in front of the dejected Queen who sadly brought a hand to her cheek.

“Anyhow, you did great this time. I really think you did, so do not doubt my words.”

“Well, that’s somewhat a reward. I mean, I’ve picked quite a hard fight for a single child.”

He pointed at Lise and Eluria stroke her head gently.

“She is not very different from me… used by adults since our childhood, left alone as our heart is worn down by loneliness… I want to save her from all of this.”

The sweet smile on her face was pure like the words she was speaking.

“Also, she is sooo adorable! Look! Look how she mumbles in her sleep! Her very existence is soothing for my heart… ugh!”

“Keep fooling around and she’s gonna wake up. I got that you’re like her stupid soft-hearted doting parent, but can’t you behave like a proper queen for once?”

“Why, are you not the soft-hearted one? You even put aside your objective to fulfill my request and save this child.”

Eluria squinted her eyes slightly as she took a deep breath.

“You planned to make magic lose its worth to strip Richtert of the deterrent keeping the other countries at bay… and no one have noticed any of this.”

Takumi shrugged his shoulders in silence.

“I only included Lise in my plan because I thought it’d be fun in the future.”

“Oww, you do not need to be that embarrassed.”

“I’m not saying this to hide my embarrassment. Also, it’s evident that I’m soft-hearted.”

A smile cracked Takumi’s face as he looked his Queen in the eyes.

“I am the Soft-hearted slave merchant, after all.”


<Prev | Index | Next>

2+

New Game – Chapter 37

The birdie’s tears – Part 5

As the match was declared over and the arena emptied, silence fell on the plains and the royal castle…

Fuck it! Shiiit!”

Kiad’s room was the only exception.
He bashed the wall to vent the rage boiling in his stomach.

Defeat… that word was clinging at his mind like a parasite. He’d been unrivalled until then, but now… he had ultimately been defeated.

He was born the eldest son of the Fortesea and, unlike his younger brother, he had been blessed with the strongest magic… or so he had believed.

He had scouted the best wizards and greatly increased their abilities with the best magic tools he could provide them with. They should have been able to crush anything standing in their way, and yet… they had lost.
And to make things worse, he was defeated the moment he entered the arena to settle the score. The lowest human on the planet, some guy that couldn’t even use magic, had him in the palm of his hand from the start.

No… I didn’t lose…!”

Even though Kiad had lost the match, his defeat was never officially declared. But even just trying to find any sort of justification for himself was pissing him off.
What he needed to do was sending that damn slave merchant straight to hell. And if he didn’t… he was afraid that something within him might break.

He tried to drive that feeling away and headed to the royal castle’s laboratory, when, at the end of the corridor, he saw a little girl walking towards him—her silver hair tied up into twintails.

…Are you awake, Lord Kiad?”

The tone of her voice was as flat as ever.

…Lize, I was looking for you. The magic tools you’ve created were so bad they made Boris and Castells lose. I want you to start working on better ones now, as they’re the main cause of all of—”

Sorry, I cannot help you.”

…What did you say?”

I have been in the laboratory to destroy all the prototypes and law formulas I created. I even blocked the magic that allowed you to hear whatever I could.”

She lowered her gaze while facing the man.

I will not help you in your experiments anymore.”

The man’s expression twisted unsightly at her words.

YOU UNGRATEFUL LITTLE SHIT! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE SAYING?!”

Smacked by his roar, her body jolted and froze.

WHO PICKED YOU UP AND LET YOU STUDY WHEN YOUR FATHER DIED?! WHO’S THE ONE WHO WORKED HIS BUTT OFF TO GET YOU WHERE YOU ARE NOW AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE?! WHO DO YOU THINK IS KEEPING YOUR SICK MOTHER ALIVE?!”

Squashed by his burst of rage and his mad gaze, Lise felt her eyes water, but she bit her lower lip to suppress her fear and firmly stared back at him.

I am grateful for your kindness, Lord Kiad. Thanks to you and the Fortesea family, I became a holy warrior and earned my title. But…”

Trembling, she let out the feelings she had locked away for so long.

I didn’t become who I am to do this kind of stuff! I’m glad I could help people with my magic tools! I’m proud I could save people like my father, who’s fallen in battle, from certain death!”

She was forced to warp her researches slowly: some of the law formulas she entwined were harmful to people, and yet she had to experiment them on human test subjects. Due to that, a constant sense of guilt tormented her and gnawed at her heart.

Despite being a child, she knew it very well—what she was doing was absolutely wrong… but she was forced to do it. Locking her heart away was her only way to keep it together—not to make her sanity crumble to pieces.

I’ve had enough… I don’t want to hurt any more people with my work!”

Her jumpy voice was clear despite her shaky legs.
She had finally squeezed out of herself the words she most feared to say in front of Kiad.

Is that all, Lise Crest?”

The low, heavy sound of his words was stained with murderous intent.

My pet dog still bit me even while chained and with its tight collar on, huh?”

As rage started to blind him, he slowly closed their distance.

You don’t get it at all… You can’t even dream to be free.”

His gaze seemed to look at some unnecessary piece of trash as he towered over her.

LET ME BRAND ON YOUR BODY WHAT BITING ME AND THE FORTESEA ENTAILS!”

He charged his fist to vent all of his rage on Lise when a sash of light sprouted from the darkness and coiled around his arm. Many others bound his body until he found himself completely blocked, and then he snapped, unable to contain his rage anymore.

I KEEP GETTING THWARTED EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME! I’M A FORTESEA, AND NOTHING CAN STOP ME FROM DOING THE FUCK I WAAANT!”

His lunatic scream roared in the hallway as his eyes became bloodshot.
Then, the clacking sound of approaching footsteps started to reverberate over his voice—a self-confident grin filled the calmly approaching man’s face.

…Can I ask you not to lay your filthy hands on my best article?”

Hearing that voice, Kiad twisted his neck to watch behind him: there stood Elsa, whose Binding Magic was restraining him, and Takumi.

Slave merchant…!”

Yes, it’s me. I came here to get my article and here I find you on the verge of beating it to death… I can’t allow it.”

…Takumi, you never know when to speak appropriately, do you?”

Elsa commented almost shocked, and Kiad started to scream again.

FUCKING FAIRSTADT! I DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF YOU’RE AN OVERLORD, I’LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR THIS!”

Neither will I forgive you, Kiad. I’ll let you know I was ordered to escort this slave merchant to his new article by Her Majesty.”

STOP SPITTING OUT BULLSHIT! WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!”

Takumi’s grin broadened when Kiad’s glare shifted from Elsa to Lise, who was still standing in front of him.

Lise Crest, we’ve come to retrieve you as this slave merchant’s belonging.”

Takumi took a document out of his breast pocket and waved it on Kiad’s face.

That brat asked me for a huge-ass sum of money a few days ago, but since she couldn’t pay it back entirely, I made her become my slave.”

SPARE ME YOUR BULLSHIT!”

This isn’t bullshit. She couldn’t pay me back for the super expensive ingredients we put in her apple pie, which would be around… like, a thousand holy silver coins.”

Takumi was obviously joking, but the document he was holding in his hand was absolutely authentic, and the name of Lise Crest was scrupulously written on it.

They must have found a way to keep in touch with her without him knowing, that’s why she holed herself up in the laboratory until today.
Still, the only contact she should’ve had with people was with the maids that brought her food and checked her body up to see if anything was off… which means that they could’ve used only one way.

I-It can’t be… I crushed it, there was nothing—”

That’s mean. Did you really crush my leader’s pie? She put her soul into it… although it was only a snack for Lise.”

Takumi gasped as he waved the document in front of him.

Did you forget that Suzuran is a company of the slums? We’re the lowest craftiest scum around… and our way of doing really do us justice. We know a lot of ways to contraband stuff, and it’s very easy when we speak in coded language between comrades.”

Cooked sweets meant that they were going to smuggle something, the basket was the way they were going to perform it, putting the sweets in the basket meant that the contract was somewhere in there, and doing it for Lise meant that she was involved with the contract.

Our former leader loved to come up with this kind of tricks. If you do the right things in the right order, the basket’s handle comes off and reveals that it’s empty inside.”

Vatel Famille came up with that.

If one didn’t wrinkle the thin paper in the basket and peeled it off slowly from the one beneath it, they’d see the memo showing how to activate the mechanism, then they’d find the hidden contract and message in the basket’s handle.

That basket is like a printed list of instructions. There’s no point in shelving it.”

How can someone understand how that works without explanations?! That’s uselessly risky!”

Risky? What are you saying? I leave nothing to chance.”

Takumi said that while laughing from his nose.

I knew Lize would understand it. I made sure she would do the right things, since I observed her personality, behavioral principles, the people around her and what she thinks about them.”

That’s why he had prepared the letter and the contract for her.
Lise had been enslaved due to the huge debt she had with Takumi: since she couldn’t pay him back with money, she had to pay him with her life.

I… I CAN’T ACCEPT ANY OF THIS!”

Who cares if you don’t, the law of this country allows me to enslave her.”

Takumi tapped on his temple.

Holy text… law section, article twenty, line eighteen: ‘If a debtor cannot pay up their debt to their creditor, the debtor can be enslaved by the creditor, who will then own the debtor’s fortune and human rights.’ I’m legally enslaving Lise Crest.”

That law had almost been forgotten… but law was still law.

If you try to prevent me from having what I rightfully own, you will be publicly exposed as a criminal. Then, as a criminal, the law would force you into slavery despite you being an overlord.”

Takumi’s cruel smile resembled that of a wild beast.

It’s a shame that Lise has become a slave, but I already found someone who would pay a lot of money for her. I’m going to meet the buyer after I’m done with you.”

He didn’t specify the name of the buyer, but it was obvious who it was.

Now… I’ll tell you as many times as you want—checkmate.”

That was the same word he told him at the buffet.
He had planned everything up to that moment.

You’ve never been able to change anything in my plan. No matter how much you squirm, there’s nothing a worm like you can do.”

Takumi locked on Kiad’s eyes—a shade of fear was painting them.

I’ve never even looked at you. Whenever someone tries to, they see a mere shadow of Fortesea. You are so insignificant that you’re not even worthy of anyone’s attention.”

As Takumi said that, Kiad’s eyes started to shake violently—those words were like knives slicing at his heart.
Then, Takumi took another document from his breast pocket. This time it was tied up with a thread.

And yet, insignificant as you are, you’ve always been so pushy and pompous… that’s why I’ll make you fall to the perfect place for you.”

The perfect place for me…?”

You’re gonna fall in the most hideous and loathing place you can imagine.”

When he unfolded the document, Kiad goggled his eyes.

He grasped that the list of complex symbols and codes in front of him was a law formula, but it was the first time he saw that language. There wasn’t anything like that in Richtert… it could’ve even been a variation of some type of language.

When I studied magic, law formulas were the thing that most interested me—I don’t have magic power within me, so I find magic and magic tools useless, but law formulas make use of other people’s magic power.”

With a smile plastered on his face, Takumi waved the paper in front of Kiad.

Law formulas are very interesting… they can active so long as the used language and symbols make sense. They could work even with something that isn’t part of this world.”

That law formula was written with the language he had learned in his previous world, so it was something that shouldn’t have existed in their current world.
That’s why it might bring unexpected results.

Kiad, tell me… what happens to a human when they get stripped of their magic power?”

Slowly, Takumi brought the paper closer to his target, who was shaking his head violently.

That’s impossible! Humans can’t rule over magic!”

The next moment, his instinct shrilled to get away from there, but he couldn’t move.

Fall to hell.”

Mouthing sharp words, Takumi pushed the document on Kiad’s chest, and the paper squirmed as it was alive, assaulting the man’s body.

STOP IT! I’M PART OF THE VALIANT FORTESEA, THE STRONGEST—”

He felt like his inner self was getting teared to pieces by an intruder. His dignity, his pride, his power; everything that was part of him was getting destroyed.
Takumi looked at him coldly.

…Is that so? I didn’t fight you, so I can’t tell you are.”

A few seconds later, the light bindings coiled around his body had vanished, and he was left staring at the air with empty eyes, shivering and clattering his teeth.

Why… Why is my power… what I inherited from the Fortesea…”

He was powerless—his heart had been torn to pieces and his condition was now a living hell. Takumi, after observing him for a brief moment, lost any interest in him and faced Elsa.

I’m done here. I’ll bring Lise to her buyer and leave the rest up to you.”

Okay, no problem. I don’t think I’ll have anything to do with Kiad like that.”

Her expression stiffened as she glanced at the man who was hanging his head in a trance.

Takumi… I trust you because we somewhat collaborate, but… tell me again, what are you? What are you aiming for?”

She squinted her green eyes ever so slightly.

You siblings look alike in the most strange places…”

Remembering that not that long ago even Lux asked him the same thing, Takumi smiled happily.

I only want to see how far my abilities can bring me. I’m aiming for… let’s say something big, like world peace or world domination.”

Tch, I knew it. You’re the kind of guy who’d answer like that.”

Thank you for understanding. Rest assured that I won’t do anything bad, anyway.”

I’m not worried about that… you’re the ‘Soft-hearted slave merchant’, after all.”

He faced a shrugging Elsa with a bitter smile, then turned to approach Lise.

Howdy~! You really tried your best there.”

…Yes, I tried my best… and I have a favor to ask you.”

A favor? What is it?”

…My legs are shaking so much I cannot move.”

Reaching her limit, her legs caved in, and she composedly fell on her bottom.

Jeez… I’ll piggyback you, get on.”

Stop treating me like a child! No, I never said I was not getting on!”

With her cheeks flushing red, she climbed on Takumi’s back, who had bent over, then he started walking to the garden where the buyer was waiting.

For a short while they were silent as Takumi’s clacking footsteps resounded in the stone-paved corridors.

Thank you, Takumi.”

Lise’s few words sounded like a distant whisper.

I could find the courage to say it only thanks to you. That I have had enough. That I do not want my work to hurt people…”

You said it because you wanted to. Even if you didn’t tell him a thing, I still would’ve brought you to our Queen.”

Even so, you never turned your back to yourself like I did, and you successfully defeated strong magicians like Fortesea’s… if you did not show me that, I would have kept those words to myself alone.”

She talked slowly as she clung to his shoulders.

I kept pretending not to see that what I was doing was hurting people… That is why I had to act the opposite of what I wanted.”

Her words were a firm declaration—I can’t forget about those I hurt with my actions, and I can’t forget about trying to find a justification about it.

She let out a soft yelp when he cocked his head to his side and hit her nose with the back of his head.

Ih huhss…”

I mean… children shouldn’t think about stuff that complex. Just face sincerely what you really want to do.”

What I really want to do…?”

Be glad of what you accomplished. People always see the bad part in everything, as if it’s the only part that leaves an impact… but you accomplished way more than that.”

He started to speak about her accomplishments with a warm laughter.

The law formulas you invented can be used in a lot of different ways. The binding magic we’ve just seen is just one of them.”

…Right. Lux asked me to create a law formula that helped guards to seize people without hurting them. It’s useful to arrest criminals or to quell riots.”

You live in this part of the city so you probably don’t know it, but those magic tools are used quite a lot down in the slums. That place is a mess and there’s very poor public order, you know?”

Since the slums were filled with violence and criminals, the guards’ equipment was provided with defensive barriers and seizing magic tools just like Elsa’s. They were used frequently.

With them, even a simple quarrel can end with people being unscathed, and there isn’t much risks for guards to face criminals, since they have their defensive barriers. Also, Elsa told me they can be used in many other ways.”

He took a brief pause before resuming his talk.

Let’s take Binding Magic for example. When it rains very hard, the water flowing to the slums becomes very muddy and its current becomes fast and powerful like a rushing stream, so it isn’t rare for kids to get hit by a wave or something and fall into water, where they usually drown. Still, some times they’ve been saved thanks to those magic tools.”

Saving them has been very hard, but it’s been possible only thanks to Binding Magic.

It’s even been used for rebuilding a destroyed church. Bringing logs of wood that high requires quite a lot of attention, but thanks to Binding Magic, they could speed up the process and once more provide a shelter for those who’ve lost a place to sleep.”

As he spoke, he felt Lise trembling, but he pretended not to notice and kept talking.

That’s the same for those defensive barriers. Before, when something caved in, people had to pulverize the rubble with magic, but that could hurt the survivors who were buried under them. Now the soldiers can just jump on people, saving them right away as the barrier activates. Yeah, those who decide to do that have balls of steel, but it’s all thanks to magic tools if they can do stuff like this. They’re all happy to have them.”

He could hear Lise trying to stifle her sobbing.

I bet you thought only about the bad things you’ve done, but many other people are grateful to you, as they could save someone or be saved by someone with the tools you’ve created.”

Lise let out a soft lament as her tears started to stain Takumi’s overcoat.

That’s why you shouldn’t deny everything you’ve done. Even though you blame yourself for what went wrong, you should be proud of your achievements.”

Unable to hold back anymore, she started to sob out loud.

You did great by yourself so far.”

She pressed her face on his back as her little body trembled. Her tears streamed from her eyes as if to wash away her sense of guilt—a reaction fitting a child her age.

Takumi didn’t speak another word, and after buying a little time with a couple of detours, he headed to the garden where Eluria was waiting them.


<Prev | Index | Next>

2+

New Game – Chapter 36

The birdie’s tears – Part 4

Takumi and his comrades were now in front of the nobles’ seats, their heads bowed.
The most powerful people in the Holy Kingdom of Richtert—the overlords and the queen Eluria Richtert, symbol of her country, were just a few steps away.
She was wearing something simpler than usual, trying to balance comfort and looks since she knew that she was going to reach the arena at some point. The ceremonial sword tied to her hips reminded everyone of the official status of the match.

“It has been… a wonderful match, Suzuran’s members.”

After hearing her words, the three of them rose their heads.

“Lord Elvis extolled your brave fight, and I can do nothing but agree with him and approve of his choice. Today, we will also hold the ceremony to baptize you winners as knights.”

Takumi glanced at Elvis, who sat a few steps behind Eluria, but couldn’t read any concern on his face.

“I am deeply delighted by the words Her Majesty has addressed to my subordinates. Their victory was blessed by our Goddess Filia, thus they should aim to become our Queen—Filia’s closest entity’s—sword.”

“Eheheh… Hearing you mouthing wise words is hilarious…”

“…Your Highness, please, refrain from murmuring something in the middle of your talk.”

“Why, are you in a bad mood, Lux?”

“I am not. But whenever that slave merchant does the impossible, I receive a lot of exhortation, so my stomach is hurting a little.”

Lux, who sat behind her, managed to smile despite the twitching of his cheek.
Nearby him, an old man adjusted his glasses on his nose.

“Ohohh… It looks like you are going to rack your brain, Lord Lux. That man you have set your eyes on is earning a title, so should you not be happier?”

“…I am obliged for your observation, Lord Cramer. I envy how you avoid problems and hardly have to deal with any.”

“Ohohh… Dealing with problems and discord is the way of doing of the harmonious Administer. Whenever we find a lull sea, we never know what boils deep within it.”

Cramer Administer, the overlord who carried Richtert’s national politics on his shoulders as the prime minister and also controlled the cabinet ministers, replied to Lux’s cynicism while shaking his mustaches.
He was a crafty man who acted to maintain harmony and stability in his country.

“Forgive this old man for butting in your conversation, Your Highness. I am sorry.”

“Well, you better be. We are in the middle of a public speech.”

“Ohohh… I did not expect to be rebuked like this…”

“…Can any other unnecessary conversation stop now? None are worth these people’s time.”

Maybe afraid that their talk would last too long, Elvis cut it down with a sharp voice, and pushed the Queen, who looked at him with a wry smile, to go on and face Takumi again.

“Lord Lux will notify you with the details of the lands you will be put in charge of after your subordinates become knights. I also have a personal matter I want to discuss with you, slave merchant.”

As Eluria mouthed those words, she exchanged looks with Lise, who was still standing behind the throne—her usual sour look plastered on her face.
The child took a step toward Takumi while tightly pressing her lips together.

“…I cannot believe you really won.”

“I was hoping to hear ‘I believed in your victory’, though.”

Hearing him joking around, she squeezed her staff tighter along with her lips.

“I should not believe… that is why I gave up.”

After crushing her personal beliefs, the only thing that was left for her was to obey.
She gave up because she believed that she could’ve never won that fight.
It couldn’t be helped—that justification was what helped her bear her current life.

“Did you like the apple pie, Archbishop Lise Crest?”

“…Yes. It was so delicious it made me feel better.”

His simple question cleared her face from any shadow as she answered with a beaming cherubic smile.
Takumi nodded in satisfaction.

“I heard Her Highness’ words clearly. I will abide by Lord Lux’s details once I receive his notification.”

“Look forward to it. Now… we cannot let people wait any more. As a boring ceremony, Let us hold it right away.”

Saying so, Eluria stood up and unsheathed her sword, the symbol of the royal family—the blue of its blade was clearer than the sky’s and deeper than the sea’s—and lowered it on Kunon and Karin, as they both kept their heads bowed.

“In the name of Eluria Richtert, your queen, I hereby grant you the title of knight. By the power vested on you, I ask your loyalty to my country.”

The flat part of her sword touched their shoulders, and once the queen finished the ceremony, thus marking the official end of the match, Takumi’s comrades, silent until that moment, rose their heads again.
The audience bursted in excited cheers for the last time that day.


Prev | Index | Next

1+

New Game – Chapter 35

The birdie’s tears – Part 3

The next moment, another roar burst in the arena.

This time not only the slums’ people were cheering, but also those who were ever-so-slightly interested in Suzuran. The slums’ company fought bravely and achieved the impossible, that’s why even those who couldn’t follow the current situation were excited.
On the other hand, the nobles were awfully silent. None of them dared to mouth a word. But that was obvious, since Suzuran’s victory hid a deep meaning: magic could lose.

It was the trumph card that led them to victory in the great war between humans and demi-humans that ravaged a few centuries before, and it also became the cornerstone of their firmness in time.
Even thirty years before, during the ex-empire’s war, Richtert’s magic was crowned as the strongest weapon. That was why the privileged classes like nobles had an unshakable firmness.

Still, that firmness crumbled the moment that Suzuran won.
Magic could be faced even by mere demi-humans who couldn’t use any, so even the strongest weapon known thus far had a flaw, a weak point.

“C’mon… it’s better if you act now, you know?”

Takumi’s whisper melted in the bedlam’s roars as he watched the audience’s reactions.

A ‘magic killer’ wasn’t someone who could neutralize magic, but someone who could plunge its authority into the abyss.
From that very moment, what was believed to be ‘absolute power’ wasn’t ‘absolute’ anymore, and if it was to be neglected, Richtert—that embodied the core of magic—would have sank.
Now that those two magic knights were defeated by Kunon and Karin, the authority, peace and order built thanks to that very power was likely to get threatened.

That’s the reason why in such a situation, that person would have surely showed himself.

“…What a wonderful show, Suzuran’s members!”

A clear voice cut through the boiling excitement and echoed in the arena, slowly quietening the audience while its owner—Kiad Fortesea—walked to the center of the stage.

“Let me express my respect for your feat! As a magic knight myself, who is also part of the gallant Fortesea family, I want to challenge you!”

His declaration was followed by glaring at Takumi while a murderous intent seeped from his wicked smile.

“Takumi, slave merchant of Suzuran! You, who taught those demi-humans how to counteract magic, are praiseworthy! Accept my challenge and show me your true abilities!”

The merchant silently watched him while the audience started to stir.
Kiad had spied Suzuran through Lise, so he knew that Takumi didn’t have any magic power and that he was punier than a demi-human.
He was the weakest human ever seen.
If someone like him was to fight against a magic knight in a one-on-one battle, he would have died for sure.

Still, Kiad phrased his declaration in a way that people would perceive as ‘you, who are strong enough to teach those demi-humans how to counteract magic’, so if Takumi was to flee from his challenge, people would have understood that even the strongest wouldn’t beat Fortesea’s magic, thus the value of magic itself wouldn’t have swayed.

One thing was clear: if the merchant was to accept that challenge, the noble would have toyed with him until his death.
Any of those choices lead to the very same conclusion—magic’s value would be the same as before, and Takumi’s plan would have went up in smoke.

In that case, the best choice for him was to decline the challenge and save his own life.

“Allow me to gladly accept your challenge, then.”

Takumi’s quiet reply reached everyone’s ears.

“But let’s put up a great show!”

He then spread his arms wide while the audience, faces mixed with perplexity and excitement, stared at him.

“Knights who lose against demi-humans and former slaves don’t deserve their title, so if I win, I want my subordinates to earn it! And if I lose… I offer you my head as token of my impoliteness so far.”

As the audience burst again in thunderous roars of excitement and bewilderment, Kiad’s face was puzzled.

“…Did you come here to waste your life?”

“What a nice way to say that I’ll lose.”

Takumi folded his arms on his chest while his smile shone with confidence.

“You must have forgotten what I said.”

“As if I could ever remember the words of an inferior nobody like you. You lost the moment you accepted my challenge. I let you gather information from Lize to let you come here… I won’t lose.”

Takumi tapped his finger on his temple.

“Let me tell you something that I’m not even trying to hide. I don’t have any magic power, so both magic and magic tools are useless for me… Without that, I’m the weakest man in the world.”

Magic was what brought people a step above the rest. Thanks to it, they could face demi-humans’ absurd abilities, but Takumi didn’t have any inside of him… and exactly for that reason, he could kill magic.

“I proved that demi-humans can win against magic depending on the situation. What will happen when a weak human who can’t even use magic like me wins against you?”

“Hahaha! Do you really think you can beat me?! The worst, weakest man in the country beating Fortesea, the strongest magicians?!”

“That’s what your knights thought too. Have you seen how they ended up, though? I guess you still haven’t noticed it.”

Takumi’s smile was brimming with self-confidence. Losing was inconceivable for him.

“My goal was to bring a certain someone out on stage from the start.”

No matter the gap between their power, his behavior was the same.

“Destroying the law formulas, attacking magic knights without them noticing, finding the flaws in your magic tools… I came up with all of this, so do you really think that my chances of winning are zero?”

He bent over a little to look at Kiad from below.

“I accepted your challenge because I will surely win. Even thought I’m way weaker than a demi-human and can’t even use magic, I will end your life. Then, I will become the magic killer.”

The next moment, the noble started to hear some comments from the audience.

“C-Can he really win against Lord Kiad…?”

“He offered his head as a token for losing… He must have some tricks up his sleeve.”

“Well, he did teach the demi-humans how to defy magic, didn’t he? Probably he knows how to nullify other kind of magic…”

“So he’s really convinced to win this challenge…?”

Those doubts spread in the audience like an illness and soon infected the nobles and the magic knights who were tutored by Fortesea. A whirlpool of insecurity traveled in the air and descended on Kiad, who started to conceive the chance of losing.

Although he could see many worried faces, he tried to rationalize what was going on.
The man in front of him couldn’t use magic—he was the weakest, worst human existing. On the other hand, Kiad was a member of the Fortesea, the family with strongest magicians in the country, and as a powerful magic knight himself, he couldn’t affort to taint his family’s name.
Still…

“…What’s up, strongest magic knight? You look afraid.”

He stood frozen in place while pondering as the slave merchant peered at him.
Although he was abysmally stronger than his foe, he still had to put up a facade… but soon Kiad smiled wryly.

“No matter the foe… Fortesea has defeat everyone so far.”

He then erupted in a crazy laugh and unsheathed the short sword he had tied to his hip.

“Do whatever you want! I’ll crush you with my gallantry!”

Almost screaming, Kiad raised his short sword over Takumi, who, for the first time, let his expression crumble and rose his eyebrows.
The next moment, after the sword started to swoop down on his target, Kiad was hurled away as if punched by an invisible, powerful hand.

“Gh… Gwah…!”

His anguish leaked from his lips in formless words while the sound of his bones cracking and snapping within his body reached his ears.
While Takumi glared at him from a distance, tick—a high-pitched sound echoed in the arena.

“…I will not allow you to speak my family’s name while showing that shameful behavior.”

The voice of a middle-aged man grew closer and heavier with every word.
His expression was as hard and cold as steel and furrows wrinkled his face while his presence overwhelmed the audience—his cane stabbed the ground as he approached the two man in the arena.

“Although you do not deserve to be part of Fortesea, we are still blood-related. I tolerated this unsightly show so far, but if this continues… I, Elvis Fortesea, will purge you.”

The end of his sentence was marked by the ticking of his cane.
Kiad’s expression twisted as he tried to squeeze out a reply to the voice of the man who led magic to its current authority thirty years ago.

“Why…? I was going to show to everyone our gallantry—”

“What can an idiot like you show to others? That slave merchant proved that magic has flaws, which was very significant to witness.”

Elvis, his gaze sharp like an ice knife, turned to face Takumi and asked in a glacial tone.

“Did you come up with a way to make that elf and that wolf-girl deal with magic?”

“…Yes. After many researches, I created an approach that could counteract the possible manifestation of magic.”

“Truly wonderful. You are a keen observer.”

“Thank you. I’m honored to be praised by the man who twisted this country.”

Takumi stared at Elvis’ eyes that, after a few instants, were cast down.

“This time, you won this match. Now let me end this show.”

“Please, wait, Father! If we step aside without fighting, our name will—”

When Kiad tried to protest, the man stabbed the ground again with his cane.

“When did I say that an idiot who lost without even battling could mouth his thoughts? What makes you this stupid, Kiad, is that you cannot even tell when you have lost.”

His cane kept tormenting the soil annoyingly.

“Father, are you saying… that I have lost?!”

“What meaning do defeat or victory have now? Currently I cannot say who has won.”

That was precisely one of Takumi’s goals, as it was the ladder to the outcome he wanted.

“That slave merchant used mysterious actions to win against you. He has used your words, the audience, and this entire situation.”

He glanced at Takumi, whose lips were sealed.

“His skills are clear since he could teach two demi-humans how to counteract magic. He might actually know a way to nullify it like his companions did, although he cannot use magic-related items.”

Elvis emphasized that precise word.

“Given that he accepted the gallant Fortesea’s challenge, he might know how to win against us. If we think about it, he might be stronger than his demi-humans, since he taught them how to deal with magic, and even offering his head might be a way to thoroughly reach his goal… ”

Elvis marked each of the points of his analysis by ticking his cane and Kiad was petrified in front of his barrage of explanations.

Takumi’s words and attitude brought him not to think about victory, but to another potential outcome that wasn’t clear yet.
Even if he was to lose at least once in a million matches, it would still prove that magic wasn’t an absolute power—it would have been reduced to something beatable even by someone who hadn’t a teensy bit of magic in itself.
Fortesea was stabbed by that possibility.

The slave merchant used his words, behavior, the audience, and even the way of thinking of his foe to instill into him one doubt: Takumi might win.
But that blade-like weapon wasn’t aimed to Kiad Fortesea.

“This slave merchant’s goal was to bring me out here and stop this match. Because there was no other way to smash that hypothetical outcome.”

For Elvis, Takumi wouldn’t have earned anything from winning, but Kiad’s defeat was a risk that would have caused devastating consequences to magic’s image.
Still, interrupting the match prevented the risk from materializing.
That was Takumi’s way to survive the current situation.

“Yeah… maybe I’ve planned this.”

Takumi shrugged his shoulders at Elvis’s glare.

“Feel free to stop this match, but remember that I’ve put my life at stake. If I lose, it would be very bad.”

“I have said this victory is yours. And despite you only asked it verbally, I should bestow the title of knight on your demi-humans.”

“Father! Do you really want to bestow such a honourable title on some inferior beings?!”

“Of course. Those inferior beings has won against two weaklings who should not be in the ranks of my magic knights, thus I will strip them of their title. Also… I will forgive one error, but I have no sympathy for those who pile them up.”

After slicing his son with those sharp words, he slapped his cane, and Kiad opened his eyes wide before losing his consciousness.
Then, leaving him there, Elvis faced the audience.

“The match has ended. Applaud loudly Suzuran’s members as they won against my knights.”

Although Elvis’ appearance cast a veil of bewilderment on everyone, the arena that had been silent up to that moment was once again shook by the commotion.
Takumi looked at the nobles as they kept their silence.

“Lord Elvis, is magic this important?”

“Obviously. You know that this country needs an absolute power, do you not?”

Richtert was labeled as a little country in the continent of Veril.
The raids coming from Denmerg, in the north, had pushed Richtert’s territory away; the monsters’ dens of the Bestia virgin forest in the west were growing; the sea enclosed the Kingdom from the south.
To survive in that bloody cage, Richtert confined itself and developed an absolute, peerless power—magic.
Thanks to its usage in the war of thirty years before, Denmerg’s raids’ frequency dropped sharply and no more wars had flared up.
That sort of peace was won only thanks to Richtert’s magic, so once that power had lost, the entire country would once again plunge into chaos.

“What you are doing is no different from destroying this country.”

“But is it fine for you to destroy other people from behind the scenes?”

Elvis didn’t reply to the man who tried to cover his reasons and ideals with arrogance, and looking like he had lost interest, he turned on his heels.

“Let me sincerely praise you for what you did today. You did great, but if this is your ability, I can relax.”

“Is that so? If you say that… you’ve probably seen your limit.”

With an arrogant smile, Takumi pointed his gun at Elvis’ back… then lowered his hand.

“Look down on everyone and one day you will get destroyed.”

“The strong’s duty is that of crushing everyone who goes against it.”

Without looking back, Elvis merely walked back to the nobles’ seats while Takumi watched his back grow distant in silence.


<Prev | Index | Next>

0