New Game – Chapter 46

Predicting the number of people – Part 4

The day began to fall and the sunset splashed the city with its reddish tones.

“See you, Mirta. I’m leaving the rest to you, okay?”

“Do you… really mean to leave now? I don’t think it’s safe to start your trip on a wagon almost at night, Karin…”

The elf smiled at the worried girl and shrugged her shoulders.

“It’s fine, don’t worry. There’s someone I have to pick up midway.”

“Pick up…? Is someone else coming other than Elsa and Kunon?”

“Yes, I don’t want to go with the dumb and the idiot alone.”

She pointed at the wagon’s cover. Two boys were fooling and screaming around in it. A red-haired and a golden-haired girl were sitting there as well, glaring coldly at the unsightly duo in front of them.

“NOOO! I DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE LADY LIIIZEEE!”

“ENDURE IT, AIGLE! I’M SURE THERE ARE LOLIS IN THAT VILLAGE TOO!”

“BUT LORD LEVIN, I WANT LADY LISE TO GLARE DAGGERS AND ABUSE ME!”

“Remember… Teacher Kunon and Lady Lise will reward you in the dawn of victory!”

“What?! A REWARD?! Will they… abuse me HARDER?!”

“It’s nightfall, dumb bird and idiot dragon. At least go die in silence.”

“NGH! THAT IS WHAT I WOULD CALL A SHARP TONGUE, LADY KARIN!”

Mirta let out an awkward chuckle seeing who Karin was bringing along.

“I can get why you don’t…”

“We’re going to hunt monsters. Sheer power is never enough against them.”

The weakest monster could put up the hardest fight given their insane strength and occasional humongous size. They weren’t creatures that could be taken lightly.
If Karin and her comrades had to face a huge swarm of them, the village could get destroyed anyway.
Given the scarce information they had about the monsters they had to slay, the more people they had the better was for their mission and personal safety.

“Leave Lise’s support to me! I’ll do what I can for her!”

“Nice. I’m counting on you, dear leader.”

She waved the enthusiastic Mirta goodbye with a wry smile, then sat on the coachman’s seat and made the horses set off.
The wagon moved placidly, slowly leaving the slums behind.

For some time the clatter of the horses’ hoofs and the soft crackling of the wooden wagon were the only sounds the passengers could hear.
The two noisy demi-humans were silent too. They looked very different from usual.
The sky above had turned a dark ultramarine shade while the city slowly disappeared behind them, and once it couldn’t be seen anymore, Elsa opened her mouth wearing a stern face.

“It is about time you explain, Karin.”

Her voice sounded very strict as she sat in the wagon.

“Is it true that Elvis took part in the last Queen’s murder?”

Her sharp gaze bore into Karin’s back like a knife, a burning light swaying in her eyes.

“Yes. He didn’t only take part into it, he is literally the perpetrator—the killer.”

“Where are your proofs?”

“Proofs…? Well, trusting me or not is up to you.”

She turned around to look Elsa in the face and tapped under her own with her finger.

“I can peek into people’s heart if I look them in the eyes, and I can feel their present as well as scan their memories, so I can see what they’ve done. I took a look at him when Kunon and I became knights.”

Karin had followed Takumi’s instructions and peeked at Elvis during the ceremony.
She clearly saw Elvis’ hands smeared red in front of a woman lying on the ground in a pool of blood. She had no doubt about it: that was the former Queen.

“Takumi said that Her Majesty Eluria has figured as much too. Maybe you believe her more than me.”

“Lady Eluria was kidnapped during that accident… You must be speaking the truth if she doubts Elvis as well.”

The elf turned to face the road again, a little smile of satisfaction cracked her face.

“I’m glad you trust me. You couldn’t let go of this matter, could you?”

“Yes, I really couldn’t.”

Elsa was gripping so hard at the handle of her sword that her knuckles had turned white. She was evidently boiling with rage as she made the sword clatter in its scabbard.

“If that’s the truth… he had the Inquisition execute my father.”

The last time the Inquisition held a trial was ten years ago.
Zeruel Fairstadt stood on the scaffold—he was charged with the Queen’s murder and the princess’ abduction.
Nothing was left other than the records of that day, and the nobles were all forced not to speak about it ever again.

“I hardly remember my father… but I vividly remember how strict and upright he was. He was someone who would’ve never let the bad go unpunished. He was the most righteous of men.”

She never believed the Inquisition. Her father would’ve never killed the Queen.
The memory of her hands pulling at her brother’s clothes while crying, screaming that they had to be wrong, flashed through her mind again.

“My father was a wise and clever man. I’m sure he knew that Elvis was on the move… but he was too late to stop him.”

Elvis did whatever he could to stand in Zeruel’s way when he recognized the upright man as a danger.
No matter how hard the righteous man fought him back, he still ended up crushed. That’s why he bet all he could—his everything—in the Inquisition’s trial.

“A great number of eminent clergymen and the Holy Text are needed to cast the Domination Magic1—the ‘work of Goddess’. It is an absolute and divine power that no man will ever be able to obtain… and my father accepted to go through it and confess for his non-existent sins.”

The Goddess’ authority didn’t leave room to doubts: only the truth could be spoken.
However, no matter if it was the Inquisition’s trial, the mind and will of the defendant couldn’t be subjugated.

“The Holy Text forbids people to control one another’s heart and will outside specific conditions. The reason is that once the magic wears off, the person’s memory, spirit and very essence starts to crumble and vanish. Their very humanity gets profaned and destroyed…”

Having the consciousness controlled by someone, being devoid of will and feelings, losing the perception of oneself—that was what the ‘work of Goddess’ was about.
However, Zeruel accepted it all to protect the most important things he had.

“…and yet, my father went through that and confessed for something he’s never done. He protected me, Lux, and all the people who helped him.”

The Fairstadt family should’ve been executed altogether if their name was dirtied by the murder of the Queen and the abduction of her daughter… but Zeruel knew that and acted in advance: he stripped himself of his very family name and made Lux the head of the family before the trial.
Letting go of his family, the Fairstadt’s name kept its pureness.

Then, the trial started and the Domination Magic kicked in.
His lips spoke the truth: I am the only mastermind and executor of my plan. I have no collaborators.
With that, he charged all the guilt on his own shoulders and accepted his fate.

“He sacrificed himself to save many people. The nobles spared thanks to that managed to help Lux through the official inheritance of the Feirstadt despite he had yet to turn fifteen at the time. Then, he tried so hard to protect his Overlord seat that I clearly remember him vomiting blood sometimes. It has been hard for him.”

Zeruel offered his very life to protect his ideals and what he had built until that moment. None of his steps had been wrong: he protected his family as a father and the nobles who helped him, hoping that they would help Lux in return to protect what he had to leave behind… and succeeded.

He was the righteous resolution engraved in the name of Fairstadt, thus Elsa had never been ashamed of her father, for he was the embodiment of their ideals.
She was proud of him, and the sword she was clutching—her father’s last memento—was like the materialization of her feelings for him.

“If that man truly pushed it all on my father and let his dignity being soiled to death… I swear on my name that I will make him atone his sins.”

Elsa’s jade-colored eyes clouded as she stared into the empty space.

“I’ll make him go through hell… and torn his very existence to pieces like my father’s.”

He wasn’t robbed of his life alone: his very existence had been erased.
It was only right to drag Elvis through the same thing.

“Please… don’t stop me when we’ll be back to the capital.”

“Don’t worry, Elsa. I would’ve kept quiet if I didn’t want you to act.”

“Hahaha… you’re right… Was the slave merchant hoping for it?”

Elsa let out a dried laugh and shrugged her shoulders.

“I will break into the Inquisition’s trial and kill Elvis… that way, the Inquisition won’t know what to do and we’ll be able to save Takumi.”

Her forced smile was painted dark by shades of abandonment.

“Owww, stop it~! You won’t do that~!”

Gnaw! Kunon bit Elsa’s ear, who let out a loud scream.

“Hafumi ifn’t fhaf ffufid~!”2

“STOP IT, MY EAR…! What the heck is wrong with you, wolf girl?!”

Elsa pushed Kunon away, a slight blush reddening her face.

“Captain, don’t be like that, it isn’t like you~! Also, Takumi isn’t so stupid and boring to let it all end like that!”

The demi-human showed an optimistic smile, but Elsa’s face was stony.

“Then why did you tell me?”

“Cuz we need your help! This will get bothersome and hella big, so if we’re all forced to keep quiet, we’ll need a witness!”

“A witness…?”

“Well, yeah, it comes without saying that once we get our job done that baldy old man’s gonna say something like ‘those demi-humans will be a treat for our country in the future, we should get rid of them’ and try to kill us, don’tcha think?”

Kunon expressed her guess out loud indifferently, then started to make her index spin.

“Next he’s gonna say that we sold information about how to destroy magic to Demberg and Renunt, since they’re the closest countries, then he’ll urge the nobles to kill us to protect the image of magic, after that he’s gonna come up with a plan to catch all the demi-humans in the country and urge all the other countries to do the same given how potentially dangerous we can be, lastly he’s gonna hung up all the opposing demi-humans and execute the others in secret, and then create a legal document that labels us as a dangerous thing that humans have to get rid of…”

“NO NO NO NO NO, STOP RIGHT THERE! Do you mean that…?!”

“Yep, I totally mean it!”

Kunon’s huge smile broadened further.

“He’s trying to wipe out the demi-humans from this world!”

Elsa was flabbergasted by her words. She couldn’t believe that was Elvis’ real intent.

“I-It’s true that demi-humans have lost the war in the past and are born as slaves, but their life is still treasured and…”

“It’s actually not, you know? Nowadays the law doesn’t really cover us anymore! We can just be indirectly killed by working in the worst and most dangerous places or by being meat shields in battles!”

She chuckled softly at the end of every sentence—Elsa knew she was right. She had seen it countless times.

“Let’s think about it, Captain! Why should we obey humans even though we’re stronger than you? Don’t you think it’s strange?”

“I-Isn’t that because we could master magic…?”

“We smashed it, though~! I mean, if we’ve been able to do it, isn’t it strange that there aren’t records of someone doing it before us in all history?”

Her words sounded extremely on point.
Karin had her technique as an elf, and Kunon had her physical prowess: they could manage to win over magic as long as they knew the way to fight it.
It was unbelievable that no one had figured out a plan to contrast it since the interracial war… especially back then, when the magic tools weren’t as much developed.

Thinking about it, demi-humans should’ve come up with many ways to destroy magic long time ago.

“So… you’re saying that Fortesea is covering it up?”

“Mhmhhh~! You’re half wrong!”

Kunon wagged her tail while making an x cross with her arms.

“I mean, we’re not talking about Richtert alone but about the entire continent! I think Fortesea can’t really extend their control everywhere!”

“You got a point… not even an Overlord can influence the entire Veril continent… no matter how much Fortesea struggles, there’s a limit to their power.”

It probably could reach Denmerg in the North and maybe the island countries far in the sea, but it was hard to believe that he could reach the city-states of heroes in the west, and it was almost impossible to imagine that he could go any further than that.

However, the entire continent scorned the demi-humans, and they were often self-deprecating…
No matter how hard they thought about it—this wasn’t normal. Even if this situation had spread gradually through the entire continent, something felt off.

“This is natural for us, so we can’t see how strange it is! We’ve grown accustomed to it in time, when demi-humans started their decline through overwhelming scorns!”

“So you mean that Fortesea didn’t do this alone but had a lot of collaborators back then…?”

“Nope! I’m talking about a single guy’s doings!”

“Wait… what do you mean?”

Elsa was at a loss for words, so Karin let out a soft sigh before turning over.

“Kunon, you’re losing her. You’ll have more chances to explain her in the future, now drop the subject.”

“Okaaay~! Our job comes first, right~?”

“I wasn’t lost in the topic… I’m at a loss to think that the wolf girl could keep up a smart conversation like that.”

“Captain, why’re you a big meanie with me?!”

“Yes, she isn’t the smartest girl in the world, but she catches up quickly. She can truly understand Takumi au naturel unlike me.”

Karin puffed out her chest as if she was praising herself instead of her friend.

“Now, we’re almost at the rendezvous point. Sorry Elsa, but I need you to swear that you won’t tell anyone about what you’re going to see or hear from now on. You have to keep quiet about any sort of reward we’ll receive or exchange we’ll deal with too.”

The guard fell silent for a few seconds.

“Okay. I swear on my family’s name.”

“Maybe I’ll let you handle the paperwork later, then.”

Karin joked, giggling at the guard’s words.

“Lang, you can come out now.”

The next moment, the floorboard at Elsa’s feet rose and a round head poked out of it.
The woman let out a girlish scream as she jumped back in surprise to the coachman’s seat, almost hugging Karin—the thing that was crawling out of the floor was scanning the wagon with its bulbous big eyes while moving creepily slow.

“WHA-WHA-WHA-WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THING, KARIN?!”

“Wow, Elsa, is this the first time you see an aquatic-man?”

“An aquatic-man?! What is he doing here in the first place?!”

Aquatic-men were very peculiar even among the demi-humans.
As the name of their species suggested, they usually spent their day in the water, but they could walk on land as well without major issues.

It wasn’t that rare to see them in Listina and the nearby Verna lake, as they had plenty of water compared to many other places, but what terrified Elsa was that the two characteristic of the average aquatic-man—their fins and fishy ears—were missing from Lang’s body.

He had a round head, bulbous big eyes, short and stout limbs and torso, and a moistened skin.
Once he stood on his feet and finished looking around, he stood still, his eyes fixed on Elsa.

“Forgive me for catching you off guard, Lady Fairstadt.”

He bowed his funny head to the woman, speaking in a surprising gentlemanly way.

“My name is Lang. I am in charge of cleaning Listina’s waterway and treating its contents. I am late for introductions for I cannot stay much in the open.”

“I-I see… let me apologize too for my overreaction.”

She reflexively bowed and apologized back. She managed to calm down while talking and slowly returned to her seat.

“Do not, please. My appearance is strange even among my specimen. Lord Takumi said I look like a giant pepper fish.”

“A… what?”

“I also know not about it, but I imagine it is a creature I might remind of.”

Elsa couldn’t help but being confused by the gap between his listless look and his flawless speech.
It almost exuded a composed and serious aura that none of the other demi-humans affiliated with Takumi seemed to—

“For your information, my favourite dish is the urine of women.”

“I KNEW YOU WERE SCREWED IN THE HEAD LIKE THE OTHERS, DAMMIT!”

“LORD LANG, YOU ARE ALWAYS THE SAME OLD PERVERT!”

“HE’S RIGHT, MAN, YOU’RE BEYOND HELP!”

“Hahaha. You two are way worse than me, though.”

Lang high-fived the dumb bird and the idiot dragon as they chit-chatted.

“Karin… do you and Kunon have any decent guy among your friends…?”

“The dumb, the idiot and the fool aren’t our friends, you know?”

“It’s so refreshing to hear you saying that in front of them…”

“I just don’t see them as demi-humans like me, it would be too vexing. The other two are fine, anyway, so don’t worry about it.”

“Other two…? There are more?!”

Elsa steeled herself for the worst, then the wagon swayed unnaturally. A few seconds later, a loud clatter rang from behind them.
The next moment, the rear part of the cloth covering the wagon lifted and a woman with a sleepy face stepped in and looked around.

“Wow, what a bunch of perverts.”

“SWEET FILIA, I DON’T EVEN KNOW THIS GIRL!”

The woman rubbed her half-closed honey-colored eyes.
Sheep-y horns and ears sprouted from the sides of her head while white and fluffy hair dangled up to her ample bosom.

“Wait, Lady Fairstadt, is that you?”

“Do you know me…?”

“Yes, I could profit on y… huuuh… I am a merchant, so I gather information about the country’s nobles and leaders and I try to remember their faces. It’s important to know your customers if you want to do this job.”

Elsa thought that merchants shouldn’t be that blunt, but at least she didn’t look like a pervert… for now, at least.

“I’m Merin. Chloris, come say hello.”

Elsa hadn’t noticed that someone was hiding behind the woman—she was quite shorter than the other and had chestnut-colored hair with long furry ears hanging from her head. She looked extremely shy.

“D-Do I have to?!”

“Introductions are important. Ready? Let’s go~!”

Merin grabbed the girl behind her with a hand and pushed her forward until it was in plain sight in front of Elsa and the others.3

“Iich! Y-Yelp…! I-I…! I’m Chloris…!”

“N-Nice to meet you… uuuhm… is she okay? She just started crying all of a sudden.”

“Yes, it’s alright. She’s just a shy scaredy-cat.”

Merin’s sleepy face barely moved at all, while Chloris’ was as pale as a ghost’s and distorted in tension. She was trembling so hard that her long ears were moving in waves.
After their introduction, Karin clapped her hands.

“Okay, that’s enough introduction for you. Let’s get to work.”

Her words had a strange weight despite the light mood, which soon faded from the air.

“Chloris, the report about the outskirts.”

“Y-Y-Yes! W-We s-scouts confirm that the monsters are a-a kind of s-small dragon-like creatures! T-There should be a lot of them g-given the traces they’ve left behind, b-but we c-confirm that there’s s-something e-else too by the smell i-in the air!”

“Merin, are the preparations proceeding?”

“Mhhh… the engineers completed the camp in the area. The rearguard with firearm is ready and vigilant, their top priority is keeping the escape route safe. The weapons you wanted are in the back of the wagon.”

Kunon nodded at their flawless exposition, then turned to the bird and the dragon.

“Aigle, report the situation.”

“According to the veteran hunting team, the monsters are behaving strangely compared to the average ones! I think that there will be something completely different along with the usual monsters that attack the village every year!”

“Lewin, estimate the destructive power of the whole pack including the unknown monster.”

“Assuming that they’re all a lotta small fries, the main team’ll act as a decoy and let the rearguard mow them down. If the unknown monster’s a middle class guy, they’ll switch their formation to the defensive and join the hunting team to win. If it’s a major monster… we’re gonna join the fray!”

The two’s usually idiotic behavior was nowhere to be seen right now.
Elsa was shocked.

Demi-humans usually didn’t get along with themselves.
The differences, religion, customs and nature of the various species normally clashed with one another, and only occasionally, especially when the humans persecuted them, they managed to bear with each other.
The feud between them, along with their disjoint organization and relationships, were the reason why humans could keep their predominance on them.

“Good. Avoid any contacts with the local residents until the operation starts and tell all the units to keep their actions covert. Now, Lang… what did Takumi say?”

“Code 7-0-6. It has been a long time since we had it this big.”

“Yeaaah~! It’s been a while since we joined an operation all together! Takumi probably guessed that we’re facing some veeery hard hunt this time!”

Still, none of the presents looked any worried. Their deep knowledge and trust of each other brought them to omit any unnecessary feeling or thought—they were currently like a single entity moving to complete their mission.
It didn’t matter how hard they had to try: they completely grasped the gravity of what they were about to face.

“Captain! You don’t need to be that scared, you know?!”

Kunon called out to Elsa, looking at her with a big smile on her face. The Hound had felt that she was restless behind her composed mask.

“Unlike you humans, we’re demi-humans living in the depths of captivity!”

Although she implied that they were the lowest, her grin was fearless.

“This super funny hunt is gonna start soon~!”


1 The original actually uses the wofdsafrd “隷属” which is closer to “slaverying/subordinating”, but I thought that “domination” would work waaay better. Hope this won’t bite me in the back soon

2 The original: “hafumi ha hokohade ohahahya hai defu ho~” (はふみはほこはでおははひゃはいでふほー) = “takumi wa sokomade obaka ja nai desu yo” (タクミはそこまでおバカじゃないですよ)

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New Game – Chapter 45

Predicting the number of people – Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

“YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really? Don’t hold yourself, then.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I said I don’t know much.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wow… do you remember what he said?”

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

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

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

“A rumor…?”

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

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

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

“L-Lord Elvis…! Why are you here?”

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

Elvis’ blaming tone and glare frightened the man.

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

The old man nodded slightly.

“I see… it must have been hard.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elvis’ gaze locked on a new target, Takumi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I already made the arrangements for it.”

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

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

“Y-Yes! Right away!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A monster…? I cannot deny it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Man, I’m not laughing at that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you know Goddess Filia?”

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

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

“Is that so?”

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

“It looks like… you are not like me…”

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


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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.


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New Game – Chapter 43

Predicting the number of people – Part 1

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

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

“My, why are you so indignant?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes. Do you have a problem with it?”

Elvis replied with unexpected honesty.

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

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

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

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

“Is that your point…?!”

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

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

A sharp light shimmered in his uninterested eyes.

“You improved quite a lot… Lux Fairstadt.”

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

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

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

“…and yet, you are hopelessly boring.”

“What do you mean?”

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

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

“Elvis… what are you planning to do?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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New Game – Chapter 42

Great minds think alike – Prologue

Takumi stood in a snow-white room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Guessing right hurts all the more…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“With my bountiful breasts, of course!”

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

She was dejected again as she started to stutter.

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

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

Then, the Goddess lips curled into a smile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A happy smile cracked his face.

“Call me again when you want to talk.”

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

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

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

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

“See you, Filia.”

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


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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 Lewin, 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!”

“Lewin, punish this boisterous bird.”

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?”

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

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

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

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

“Look how high you fly~!”

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

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

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

“It’s a great view, right?”

Lise smiled happily in front of Takumi’s grin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Karin, I’ll leave the rest to you.”

“Okay, but… where are you going?”

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

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

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

Takumi showed her a troubled smile while ruffling her hair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re under arrest.”

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

“Okay. I’ll come with you.”


Afterword (November 1st 2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fujiki Washiro


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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.


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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.


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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.”


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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.


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