New Game – Chapter 32

The way to open up the cage – Part 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mhh? Finahhy Hakumi’sh here!”

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

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

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

“Auu behher now heh I’m eahing!”

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

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

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

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

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

“First, great job, girls.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He lightly tapped on his temple.

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

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

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

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

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

“Great job for remembering something that vague…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah… this is some serious shit.”

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

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

Then, he faced the wolf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…Do you want to bring that?”

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

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

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

Takumi shrugged his shoulders at her titter.

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

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

“Kill magic in front of everyone.”


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New Game – Chapter 31

The way to open up the cage – Part 4

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

“You sure took your time, huh?”

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

“…I am sorry. I fell asleep.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“By the way, what’s in there?”

Kiad gestured at her while gazing at the basket.

“Let me see what’s inside.”

“…Mirta gave me some apple pie, and–”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…Ah… Ahhhh…!”

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

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

“…No, I… can do without it…”

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

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

“…Yes. I understand it.”

“Then try to tell me.”

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

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

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

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

“…Lord Kiad Fortesea.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This is… not shit.”

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

“This is… nothing like shit.”

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

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

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

“…Mh?”

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


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New Game – Chapter 30

The way to open up the cage – Part 3

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

“Did I… fall asleep…?”

“Yeah. It’s evening right now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…I see. Keep doing your best, then.”

Lise balled her hand firmly at his words.

“My job isn’t that important…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…No way. I do not drool.”

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

She blushed furiously while scrubbing her mouth with her sleeve.

“Guess I just imagined it, huh?

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

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

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

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

Mirta handed a basket over the archbishop.

“What is this?”

“An apple pie I just baked.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…Okay. I will be careful.”

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

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

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

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

“Lise, will you…?”

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

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

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

Then, Takumi grinned.

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

He tapped repeatedly on his temple.

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

“Okay… Takumi, take care of Lise.”

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


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New Game – Chapter 29

The way to open up the cage – Part 2

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

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

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

“I mean, should we not help her?”

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

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

“You guys are really heartless…”

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

“…So, what do you want to know?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She drew a few stick figures while talking.

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

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

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

Seeing Lise puffing her chest pridefully, Karin smiled wryly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She brought a hand to her mouth and started thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

Lise’s uneasiness became evident on her face.

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

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

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

The archbishop paused to catch her breath.

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

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

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

“Err… have you finished talking?”

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

“Yeah, we can stop here for now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…I will have some, thank you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Eh? I-Is that so?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…Why doesn’t my butt hurt anymore?”

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

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

“That was truly wonderful to see!”

“…This is normal for me.”

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

“I, uuh… Thank you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This is holy magic’s healing.”

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

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

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

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

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

Then, Mirta wore a wry smile.

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

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

“L-Lise? Are you okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So, how can we deal with magic?”

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

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

Takumi cocked his head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lise’s face clouded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, don’t worry.”

“Yes, do not worry.”

“How can you two be that positive?!”

Takumi waved his hand nonchalantly.

“Mirta, I only asked for a handicap.”

“And… what do you mean with that?”

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

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

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

“I… can see that coming.”

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

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

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

“I often forget about that too, Karin…”

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

He sighed deeply and then fixed his expression.

“Also, I’m not a normal human.”

After glancing at the elf, he kept talking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…Slave merchant, you should–”

“Takumiii! My butt huuurts!”

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

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

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

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

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

“Takumi! Please, save me from her!”

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

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

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

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

He started to tap on his temple while smiling boldly.

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

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

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

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

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

“She… fell asleep, huh?”

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

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

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

Probably guessing the meaning behind his request, she smiled.

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

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

Takumi interrupted Mirta by raising his index finger.

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

“…Oh, that was what you meant.”

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

“Can I help you?”

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

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

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

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

“Sorry…”

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


<Prev | Index | Next>

3+

New Game – Chapter 28

The way to open up the cage – Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fear not. They were made by–”

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

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

“…What are you doing here?”

“I am no ‘you.’ My name is Lise.”

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

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

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

“That’s great, but he hurt you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And… what about Jill?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…Really?”

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

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

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

She puffed her chest pridefully.

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

“Woah, super cool! What a genius!”

“…Are you making fun of me?”

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

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

“Elsa, stand up and fight with Kunon.”

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

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

“Then… let me vent a bit.”

Elsa rose on her feet and unsheathed her sword.

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

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

“Get ready, I won’t go easy on you!”

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

“…That won’t work on me.”

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

“…Is this your magic, Captain?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tch… What an infamous move…”

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

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

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

“Let me warn you, too.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsa showed her the bracelet coiled around her wrist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


<Prev | Index | Next>

2+

New Game – Chapter 27

The birdie that doesn’t chirp – Part 3

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

“Thank you for accompanying me home.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nah, usually it’s even worse.”

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

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

“…Admittedly, I can easily imagine it.”

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

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

Then, her voice became a whisper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Because… I cannot do it.”

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

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

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

“You catch up quickly, Lise Crest.”

Her entire body started to tremble.

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

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

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

“…I am sorry, Lord Kiad.”

Seeing her apologetically bowing, he snorted.

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

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

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

“Who said you could speak?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Takumi quietly listened while glaring at him.

“Lise, get up and hurry back home.”

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

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

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

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

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

I had fun.

Then, she silently walked away.

“Well done for controlling yourself, Kunon.”

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

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

“…that wasn’t nice to see.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He then stopped his finger.

“I see… that’s why that was written.”

“You mean that personal request…?”

“Yeah. It was only one sentence.”

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

“…This isn’t an easy request.”

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

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

“She really is in a cage of steel.”

“And there’s more, right?”

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

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

“Is it doable, Master?”

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

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

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

“…Will you let me kill that guy?”

“Something like that.”

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

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

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

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

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

As he scolded her, his lips bent again.

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

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

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

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

“I’m perfectly fine with destroying everything!”

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

“Roger. How should I tell her?”

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

Another smile appeared on his face.

“Let’s go save Lise Crest.”


<Prev | Index | Next>

4+

New Game – Chapter 26

TL note: heartfelt thanks to Jethro Salim, who donated twenty euros for this series!


The birdie that doesn’t chirp – Part 2

As the gondola floated down the river, the elegant townscape around them gradually turned into the slums’.
People tend to relax when they return to places they know. On the other hand, those who set foot into a new territory are usually excited and curious, and it’s exactly that curiosity that dissipates their caution, pushing even the most careful of lambs into the lion’s den…

“I-I… should have stayed home.”

Lise was now in the dining room of Suzuran, trembling slightly.

“What Her Majesty said was real… Scary people kidnapped me when I was alone…”

“Hey, who’s scary? Don’t go around tarnishing people’s reputation.”

“…I am sure she is talking about you, Takumi.”

Karin, who had finished her work, was taking a break and sighed deeply.

“I can’t believe you kidnapped the archbishop…”

“I didn’t kidnap her, but only fueled her interest and got her to come with me without specifying where we would go.”

“So, you are not only a crook, but you also tricked a child, huh…?”

“I am not a child. I can go back alone anytime.”

Lise tried to put up a brave front, but her voice was weaker than usual.

“I already told you we’re gonna bring you back later. Relax.”

“I-Is that so…? Are you not lying?”

“No, I’m not. You said you never visited the city, so I wanted to let you see the one part you would have never bothered to see in your entire life.”

“C-Can you not decide everything by yourself, please?!”

The archbishop showed her anger, and so did Mirta, who was listening to their exchange.

“She is right. You cannot keep doing whatever you want, and stop involving people in your moody choices.”

“…How can I take you seriously? You prepared all of this with a huge grin on your face, Mirta.”

“I-I was not! I was only trying to cook what you suggested and… ended up doing too much!”

Bashfully pressing her fingertips together, she lowered her gaze from the dining room’s long desk, which was covered with food.
Stew, omelets, doria, gratin, hamburgers, fried chips, pizzas, curry, various fried food, tonkatsu, fried prawns, udon, carbonara, napolitan, sandwiches, french toasts, pancakes… and many more.
She was used to cook large quantities of food, given how many people their company counted, but she asked Takumi for advice to expand the menu further, and things turned out like that.

“This looks like a family restaurant…”

“A family… what?”

“Nothing, don’t mind me. You gathered quite a lot of ingredients, huh?”

“Gaitsu asked his contacts to help him, and they made him seal a business deal with a new sea route, which stocked a lot of foreign ingredients. He had to go through quite a lot of troubles for it.”

Mirta showed a radiant, proud smile. She was indeed a passionate cook, which was wonderful, but it wasn’t a great characteristic for a leader.
Still, in front of her effort, Lise looked amazed at the delicacies spread in front of her.

“There is plenty of food I have never seen before… May I have a taste?”

“Yes. I never cooked these before, but feel free to help yourself.”

“I will.”

Lise grabbed a spoon and timidly brought some stew to her mouth. Then, she repeated the same motion again and again, in silence, like she was in a trance.
Seeing that she was liking it, Mirta’s face brightened.

“Lise, would you like some hamburgers?”

“Mh, yes, please. I would love to taste many of these dishes.”

“I am glad to hear that. Let me give you some, then.”

Suzuran’s leader started to take small portions from various plates for her guest.
The usual image of a dignified leader was nowhere to be seen, but she was honestly enjoying the moment, so no one said anything.

“But… is consuming this meal not impossible for us alone?”

“Probably… I’d feel bad to have any leftovers, and Karin doesn’t eat much…”

In front of them was food for dozens of persons, and many of the plates were main dishes and fried ones, so they were quite heavy on the stomach.

“Ah, do not worry. There are some voracious members in our company.”

“You mean Kunon?”

“Are you speaking of Kunon?”

“Yes, like Kunon… Ah, Lewin told me he and Aigle will come here after they finish their work.”

Karin and Takumi stiffened at her words.

“Karin, you got it?”

“Yes. What if Aigle tries to do something?”

“Make sure he can’t move. If necessary, feel free to beat him until he passes out.”

“Roger.”

“Why would you do that?!”

“Prevention is better than cure. We can’t make him meet L–”

The door flung open, interrupting Takumi.

“Woah! There’s a lotta food!”

“There really is, Instructor! Is this aroma not a bliss for the nose?!”

“Keep it down, Aigle! Otherwise I’ll pluck your wings!”

“Ahaaah! That would be a real honor for me!”

“Then, Sis Mirta will cook them!”

The three demi-humans entered the room, and as soon Kunon saw Takumi and Karin, she trotted to them.

“Hey Karin, Takumi! Are you back already?”

“Yeah… we came back to eat. Why are you with those two, anyway?”

“I met them on my way here! I just finished training the other kids!”

She happily answered, and Takumi hid his face with his hands.
It was bad. He didn’t expect that turn of events, and now it was too late to prevent them, especially her, from coming here.
The next moment, Aigle opened wide his bloodshot eyes and sniffed the air deeply.

“I smell an unknown girl.”

“Damn you, stop sniffing out people.”

“I can prey on targets with both my eyes and nose!”

“Can you?! For Filia’s sake… your super-senses are a hassle in these cases.”

Ignoring Takumi’s shock, Aigle looked around to track the source of the smell, and after locating it munching food nonchalantly at the table, he slowly walked and stopped beside Lise.
His overwhelming frame towered over her, who looked at him puzzled.
The next moment, something changed in his expression, which became more elegant, and he kneeled.

“Forgive my rudeness, Silver-haired Lady… would you be interested in riding on my shoulders?”

“…Riding on your shoulders?”

“Yes. If possible, I would love your soft, silky legs to swing in front of my face… Legally speaking, enjoying bare legs should not be a problem!”

“I believe your death will unburden the world.”

“NHHH! So glad I was abused by such a soft voiceee!”

As Aigle shout his torrent of feelings at the sky, Lise turned to Takumi.

“Slave merchant, what is this revolting and twisted bird’s problem?”

“Long story short, he’s a pervert.”

“…Thank you for putting it this clearly.”

“W-Well, Aigle is a bit gross, but he is also a good guy… Do not mind him and let’s keep eating before it gets cold.”

“Lady Mirta screwed my service… but this feels good in its own way!”

Paying him no more mind, everyone started to dig in.

“Oi, Silver-haired Missy! This curry is hella good, ya know?! It’s so spicy it reaches even my blazing heart!”

“…I cannot handle spicy food.”

“Dahhahaha! Probably it’s still too early for your taste!”

“Lady, try this fried chicken meat, then! Delicious juices spread in your mouth when you bite it!”

“…Bird, do you consume your own race’s flesh?”

“I descend from hawks, so, technically, I am no cannibal!”

The two demi-human’s loudness and energy softened the mood, and probably resonated with Lise, whose cold expression seemed to warm a little.
Observing her from the distance, Takumi smiled.

“Karin, make sure those two don’t get carried away.”

“I know… You really are soft-hearted.”

Karin was surprised by his choice, but got happily closer to them the next moment.
Kunon, who was eating at the table, rose on her feet after seeing her friend approaching, and walked to her Master.

“Takumi~! As you said, the Captain gave me these!”

“Oh, great job. Are you sure they are two different types?”

“Yes! They’re the oldest and the latest style’s magic tools!”

Saying that, she took a couple of bracelets from her pouch.
They were magic tools provided to the guards: both were made of gold and silver and had a peculiar shape, and words carved on them.
Takumi tried to analyze them by sight alone.

“I see. Writing the code with gold on holy silver speeds magic transmission up… and using the Veril continent’s language, which comes from the ancient Centaria, boosts the output power… huh?”

“Woooah! Could you tell only by looking?”

“Well, I was in charge of those magic tools and law formulas.”

“Didn’t you say they resemble some of the machines you have in your country?”

“Yeah, only a little bit. If I think of magic as electricity and law formulas as circuits, I can get a grasp of it.”

Magic tools weren’t that different from his former world’s machines.
They reproduced magic thanks to the materials they were made of, their shape, and the Law Formula that bound the components together.
Fundamentally, they controlled the flow of magic to reproduce the desired effect.

“But this is closer to occult stuff than machines. Law Formulas are a mix of semiotics, iconography, and mainly allegorical hermeneutics, while magic’s concept is closer to Taoism and Chinese medicine.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about!”

“Basically, there’s a lot of jumbled, unclear stuff. I could figure out some parts thanks to what I learned in my country, so I can potentially create a Law Formula that Richtert hasn’t still come up with.”

“Woah…! You really know a lotta things! I don’t wanna study more than I need to, and I prefer guessing than remembering!”

“I think you’re fine as you are, Kunon… so? What does your intuition tell you?”

Asked Takumi while staring at the magic tools, and the Hound frowned slightly.

“I’m not sure… but these are somewhat bad.”

“Bad?”

“It’s like… a drop of oil that melts into water… something like that?”

She started to think deeply as she couldn’t express her feeling clearly.

“Well, I’ll remember there’s something off. You demi-humans have incredible senses and can perceive a lot of things we can’t, so I’ll trust you.”

“Yaaay! So, can I go back eating now?!”

“You sure can! There’re lots of plates from my coun–”

“I wanna eat meat!”

“…Then try tonkatsu.”

Kunon grabbed a fork and pierced the tender, fox-like colored meat and brought it to her mouth, where it melted slowly as she chewed it.

“Nhhh~! It’s crispy but juicy, and the seasoning is perfectly made! The sauce’s flavor is richer and tastes a bit like apple, which also fixes the oil’s boring taste!”

“Try to express what you just felt like that.”

“I can talk about good food, but everything else is boring, so forget it! Gimme more!”

“Yeah, fine… Eat as much as you want.”

“Eeeh? I’m tired from all the work, so I want you to feed me.”

“…No? If you only want to stuff your stomach, shouldn’t you do it by yourself?”

He protested as he brought to her open mouth some food.

“Lieeege! I am really envious of what you are doiiing!”

“Masteeer! That’s not what a Master should dooo!”

“Shut your traps, bird-head and blockhead. If you two wanna do it, just do it.”

“Hoorayyy!”

“Hell yeeeah!”

As they pushed their fists together and let out cries of joy, Kunon turned her face away.

“Forget it. Aigle is too noisy, and Lewin is too sultry.”

“Nnnhhh! Instructor, abuse me more, please!”

“Sis Kunon, drive a hot shot into my mouth!”

As they asked for some good, they felt a tight grasp on their shoulders.

“You… know what will happen if you dare to touch her, right?”

“Guys… if you keep yelling like that, you will ruin our meal, you know?”

Mirta and Karin were grinning as they towered over them.

“If you want, I can pluck the feathers of your forehead and write ‘idiot’ on it.”

“Ah, this frying pan is still really hot…but you like hot things, don’t you, Lewin?”

The next moment, the two demi-humans prostrated while begging for forgiveness.


<Prev | Index | Next>

7+

New Game – Chapter 25

TL note: heartfelt thanks to Johnson Keriri, who donated twenty euros for this series!


The birdie that doesn’t chirp – Part 1

“Aaah… speaking formal and minding etiquette made my shoulders stiff…”

The next day, Takumi left the castle again and after cracking his shoulders to relieve some stress, he checked his schedule.

“The match will be held in seven days in the western part of the Eltern plains… I can’t believe that queen. She’s too bossy, and we now have to handle another of her whims.”

Usually, normal duels and even magic battles were fought in the capital, but since this match could be nastier than usual, it was decided to relocate it outside the capital. Eluria ordered to install special seats for the overlords and the royal family, other than providing provisional ones for nobles only.

“And to make things worse, Elsa collapsed due to a stomachache… this is no good.”

The last encounter with Takumi had been a death blow for her. She accepted the request as long as she could have an entire day of rest.
The slave merchant was still thinking about it before raising his head.

“…Aigle, can you ask Gaitsu what’s going on? Trying to handle this by myself might be a bit too much.”

The bird-man that was walking with him spread his white wings and straightened his back.

“Yes, my Liege~!”

“Don’t shout like that. My ears hurt.”

“Forgive me! I will pay more attention next time!”

“…Just stop shouting.”

“Ahahaaah! Do you really think I will?!”

With burning passion in his eyes and an imaginary fire behind him, he kept yelling, so Takumi pressed his palms on his ears while frowning. Then, the drakonid that was with them joined the discussion. His scales were black like kurogane, and his big mouth was filled with sharp teeth.

“Dahahaha! Aigle was scolded ‘cuz he’s too loud!”

“Lewin, don’t shout.”

“Huh?! Am I?! What’s the problem with my hot voice?!”

“It’s that you’re sultry.”

“Duh, that’s a praise, not a problem!”

Opening his red mouth wide, Levin broke into a cheeky laugh, and Takumi let out a deep sigh.

Usually, Kunon and Karin accompanied him, but they already had something to do in the slums, so Aigle and Lewin became his bodyguards for the day.
They were part of his demi-human squad, whose members were equipped with modern weapons and entrusted with various roles depending on their abilities. Takumi taught them modern tactic warfare, and Kunon was their tutor, making them real elites. They were second only to her in terms of power.

Aigle was a bird-man with unbelievable strength thanks to his huge frame and muscular body. A single arrow of his longbow could almost sink a ship.
On the other hand, Lewin particularly solid scales granted him a tough, strong body that was almost matchless in battle.

Bringing many people into the royal castle was hard, and Takumi couldn’t allow anyone to see his underlings use the weapons or tactics he taught them.
That’s why he chose to be accompanied by these two, who didn’t need weapons, but…

“At least Kunon’s is somewhat cute…”

“I totally agree, my Liege! My instructor’s cuteness shines like a treasure! Whenever she pours abusing words on me, I feel an impressive joy warming my heart…!”

“I know that feeling damn well, Aigle! When Kunon kicks my butt hard and looks down on me like I’m a piece of trash I just feel too good!”

…Takumi should have predicted how rotten they could be, despite their amazing abilities.

“I’ve had enough of you two. Shut the hell up. I don’t want someone to see me walking with two perverts screaming in a place like this.”

“A pervert?! I’m so honored to be praised by you, my Liege!”

“Force me to! C’mon, bring it on! Hit me super hard!”

Handling them gave Takumi a headache for the first time, but then his gaze fell on the Goddess’ cathedral sparkling under the sunlight.
On its walls were carved law formulas, as well as complex patterns and figures, which only improved its artistic, beautiful appearance.
Takumi recalled the previous day, and casually started to walk in its direction.

“Aigle, go to Gaitsu and update him. Lewin, go to Mirta and make her write a list of people who need some construction, then reunite with Aigle.”

“But we are supposed to be your escort, my Liege!”

“He’s right, Master! What if we’re not with you and somethin’ happen?!”

“I’m going to the cathedral. Do you wanna come too?”

The two closed their mouths right away.
Bird-men worshiped the sky, the trees and the sun, while drakonids worshiped their ancestors, who they saw as deities.
Every demi-human race had its own creed and respected the others’.
That’s why they were inclined to avoid any contact with them, and Filia’s cathedral was no exception: they would have stepped into it only if absolutely necessary.

“I’m sure you would’ve come if I hadn’t given you another work just a minute ago. But don’t worry, the cathedral is a safe place, and I won’t do anything reckless.”

“Very well! I shall fulfill my new duty, then!”

“Yeah, me too! For our big sisters!”

The two rose their hands high in the sky along with passionate words before walking away. They were indeed noisy perverts, but when it came down to business, they were reliable.
Takumi, now alone, approached the guards stationed in front of the cathedral and spoke to them.

“Excuse me, I am Takumi from the major company Suzuran. I was entrusted by Lady Fairstadt to deliver a verbal message to the archbishop. Is Lise Crest here?”

“She is currently praying in the cathedral… Forgive me but are you perhaps the same Takumi who exposed Amberg’s wrongdoings?!”

“…Well, I do not think there are many Takumis around…”

“Oh my! I would have never imagined making your acquaintance, Sir!”

Takumi was slightly startled by the guard’s excitement, and waited for the right moment to speak again.

“I took part of the operation to unmask Amberg, last month! Your plan was flawless! Truly wonderful!”

“Oh, really? Sorry for using you as decoys, though.”

“Do not mention it! We were just… cowards unable to lay a finger on those nobles.”

For a moment, the guard hung his head in shame at his own words.

“We could only watch like miserable cowards… But we’re now respectful and proper guards, and it is all thanks to you, Sir Takumi!”

The slave merchant smiled back vividly at the guard’s pristine smile.

“I only pushed you a little, but you earned the respect you deserve by sticking bravely to an unreasonable tactic.”

“Thank you…! I will treasure your words and pray for walking the path of justice forever!”

“Good. I will also try my best to meet your expectations.”

The guard bowed deeply before straightening his back again and nodding to Takumi, who proceeded to enter.

The cathedral was bathed in sunlight, and probably thanks to the stained glass, there wasn’t a single shadow inside. In the deepest part, a young girl was praying on her knees. She must have heard the sound of the door opening, because the next moment she turned toward it.

“…Keep your voice down, slave merchant. I could hear you from here.”

“Ouch, really? My bad.”

“…No problem. I had already finished my daily prayers.”

After brushing the dust off her knees, she looked straight at his face.

“So, what brings you here in the holy cathedral?”

“I just left the royal castle and thought to drop by to chat a little… What’s that face?”

“It is the mirror of my current displeasure.”

Takumi smiled bitterly at her reluctant expression.

“This is no place for unbelievers like you. Go back home, please.”

“That’s rude. I’m a dedicated believer of Filia, you know?”

“Stop mentioning our Goddess’ name in vain. You have not even read the Holy Text properly…”

“‘Thou who aspirest to being a hero, thy Goddess shall grant thee the smile of victory,’ chapter of the goddess, twelfth paragraph. The words that Goddess Filia reserves for the heroes who march to war.”

“…Chapter of heroes, twentieth paragraph.”

“‘For our choice, we proceed down the righteous path we decid’d.’”

“…The difference between the other chapters and the law’s one?”

“The former ones record the ancient war between nameless heroes and gods and are divided into chapters and paragraphs, whereas the latter one is composed of two-hundred-sixty-four articles and forty poems that record the law established after said war.”

“…Umpf.”

Lise let out a puff, unable of finding an error in his answer.

“What matters are not the contents but what lays behind it.”

“I can’t take you seriously with those puffed cheeks… anyway, don’t you think I’m a bit better than those who treat the Holy Text as a simple decoration? Shouldn’t I be awarded for this?”

“…I cannot help it. The archbishop’s duty is also to exchange words with other believers.”

Coming to terms with her work, Lise patted a bench with discontent, and Takumi sat on it facing her to have a proper conversation.

“Come to think of it, aren’t you the genius who invented the law formula?”

“Yes, I am. Is there something you want to ask this genius archbishop?”

“Oh, yeah, totally.”

“Given your rough conduct, you would not deserve any answer… but whatever.”

“Thank you for your generosity, oh genius archbishop. I have a question concerning the law formula.”

“…Is that so? I thought you were going to ask about magic.”

Lise tilted her head, and Takumi looked up at the ceiling while answering.

“Someone is already teaching me its basics and use in battle… and I’ve also done some research on it.”

Magic was divided into two parts: Innate and Control.
The former referred to the power stored in the soul, which was the source of magic, and the latter was basically imagination, which served to control and polish that mighty power known worldwide. People could create supernatural events by combining these two, and Takumi was especially interested in the Innate part.

“Is Innate something that you can simply imagine gathering on your fingertips?”

“Yes and no. There are many ways to control and use it.”

Lise spoke while moving her hand in circles.

“Imagining gathering it, casting it with words, activating it by moving according to specified patterns… It is not only about imagination, but about the various meanings that the actions hold.”

“Like the thing you just did?”

“…You have quite keen eyes. I was imagining magic gathering into my finger while enhancing it with words and shaping it like a circle. This way, I overlapped chanting, various hieroglyphs, and actions, so it does not really matter how you do it.”

“I see. Last time I saw someone casting magic, they only chanted it.”

“That is quite common. Other countries’ magic is weak exactly for that reason. Overlapping more methods is a slow process, but it amplifies significantly the output of the spell, and the only way to speed the preparation process up is doing everything simultaneously.”

“I guess it’s not that easy, though.”

“Indeed. Writing something with a hand while tracing a shape with the other and chanting at the same time is no easy task, but a real holy warrior should research how to speed up, polish and improve this process.”

“Wow… that’s quite interesting.”

“I agree. It is like trying to solve a puzzle in many different ways.”

Her expression was as dull as ever, but she was swinging her legs excitedly.
After a little while, Lise shifted her gaze to Takumi.

“What? I was listening.”

“…That is why I am surprised right now.”

“Don’t take me for one of those adults who never listen to children…”

“There are plenty of people like that among nobles. They do not care about the effects and essential points of the law formula that makes magic work, so almost no one listened to this kind of explanation except Her Majesty.”

“Well, isn’t it better to have a casual talk with them?”

“…I spend all my time researching, so I do not know how to do that.”

She replied with her usual flat tone, but there was a hint of loneliness in her words.
She was part of the elite of society, and wasn’t only a unique holy warrior thanks to her distinct ideas and intelligence, which made her earn the title of archbishop, but had even enough prestige to being invited from the Overlord of Fortesea as a house guest.
Takumi started to think about her words, and the next moment he got up on his feet.

“Lise, wanna try to get out of here?”

“…Eh?”

The slave merchant grabbed her hand and started to walk toward the door.

“N-No, wait. I have to get back on my research…”

“There should be gondolas passing on this layer, right?”

“I saw them passing behind the cathedral… should you not prepare for your match?”

“Who cares, I’ll just do it tomorrow. Have you ever been on a gondola?”

“N-No, never. I only watched them descend Listina’s channels. It was relaxing.”

“Getting on one is even better, trust me. Listina isn’t the Water Capital for nothing.
Also, the look of the city is amazing when…”

He kept talking to fuel Lise’s interest as they approached the gondola, and once they were in front of it, Takumi helped her getting inside.


<Prev | Index | Next>

5+

New Game – Chapter 24

Sorry for the delay, the editor had two exams this few weeks, so we couldn’t release the chapters like usual.
Enjoy this way longer than usual chapter! The next one will be a new game sponsored chapter too!


The ashen-colored birdie – Part 4

Mirta’s flushed face and angry expression were the center of attention.

“Get your hands off me, Lord Kiad! I said I refuse!”

“Aren’t you a bit too cold with me? My invitation should make a grown-up woman like you happy.”

She glared at the man in front of him, who not only was enjoying the situation while holding her arm, but also cracked a vulgar smile after sniffing her blond hair.
He was Kiad Fortesea, the overlord who administered and maintained the city’s military power.

“This buffet is hosted by Her Majesty, and I do not see how…”

“Mh… so what? Her Majesty still hasn’t come, and my father Elvis couldn’t attend this feast, so it would be a waste to not enjoy myself, don’t you think?”

She bit her lower lip, disgusted by his behavior.

The host was Queen Eluria herself, and they were now in the royal castle, meaning that any improper conduct would be interpreted as an insult to the royal family, but Kiad didn’t seem to care of it. The overlords detained the real power in Richtert, after all. The queen’s prestige was a mere decoration.
Those thoughts were evident on his face, and his harassment wasn’t going to end soon. The nearby lords and princes, as well as the guards who were attracted by the ruckus and wanted to check what was going on, were watching at the scene without trying to stop him.

The Fortesea family was so powerful that even foreign countries shook in fear when hearing about their magic knights, and their influence in the city was evident.
They could ruin any noble family if they so desired.
Their leadership was based on sheer power and intimidation. That’s how they earned the suffix ‘valiant’.

“I like strong people. You came all the way here after overthrowing Amberg despite being part of a company of the slums, and then you step into the aquamarine garden with the most influential nobles of Richtert… I greatly value your abilities, you know?”

He spoke those words with a hint of scorn in his voice, and looked down on her with fiery passion burning deep into his eyes, like a beast looking at its prey.

“I can’t stop myself from desiring a gorgeous lady who accomplished even such a feat.”

“As the leader of Suzuran, I am very busy, so I will not change my mind! I humbly refuse your invitation!”

“Is that so? Not even if spending a single night with me, the heir of Fortesea, would bestow my family’s protection on you and your organization?”

Mirta couldn’t keep her repugnance hidden anymore, and openly showed her emotions.

“I already know how skilled my men are, so none of us need that.”

“Hahaha, well said! Perhaps that elf approached us to enjoy my patronage?”

He burst into a loud laughter while eyeing Karin up, and Mirta lost her temper.

“That elf plays a key role in our company, and is one of my most important friends! Take back what you have just said!”

“A friend? Do you think demi-humans are on your level? What a sweet thing to say! Usually, they’re used as disposable pieces, and elves are particularly alluring only as toys!”

Brought to her limit, Mirta freed her hand and raised it to slap him, but Karin stopped her from behind.

“Calm down, Mirta.”

“No way! He dared to insult you and our organization, so…!”

“I appreciate your concern, but getting mad is not your duty right now.”

Karin smiled tenderly. Then, a thunderous, dry sound echoed around, and more guards came running to see what was going on.
Kiad turned to face the source of that bang with a sharp glare, and saw a composed, carefree guy approaching them while the smell of gunpowder wafted in the air.

“Hello. I saw you inviting my leader with enthusiasm, but… what about understanding that coercion does not make you look cool?”

Takumi was smiling brightly while the noble turned pale and brought a hand to the short sword tied at his hips.

“…Did you make that sound?”

“Oh no, how could I? That sound reminded me of a rifle… do you think I am holding one right now?”

The slave merchant provoked him by showing his empty hands.

“Now, trying to force random girls to come into your room is a thing, but unluckily this time you chose Mirta, Suzuran’s leader, and Karin, one of its important employees.
Might you take back what you just said and apologize, please?”

“How dare you speak to me like that… You have no idea who I am!”

“Oh, do I, overlord Kiad Fortesea? I do not think there is someone in all Richtert who does not know you.”

“Hah! So, you do know who you are talking to! I guess you didn’t grasp the meaning of my comment, though.”

Remarked the noble while a triumphant smile spread on his face.

“Is that… so?”

Takumi couldn’t contain his laughter anymore. It sounded eerie, but different from a madman’s. It had a deep meaning.

“As the owner of the magical knights, you detain the influence and leadership to control people… Your abilities are suitable for an overlord…”

Takumi curled his lips into a self-confident smile.

“But that’s it.”

For a moment, none of the presents could understand what he meant.
Even Kiad’s mouth remained closed as his entire body stiffened.
No one could conceive that someone could tell the symbol of the Holy Kingdom, Fortesea, ‘that’s it.’

“Suzuran is a company, and I am in charge of selling its goods. I am interested in valuable things, but… those who abuse of their power are simply worthless.”

“Are you trying to insult Fortesea?!”

Kiad came back to his senses and vigorously unsheathed his sword.

“It never crossed my mind. As a merchant, saying that something useless is actually worth something would only ruin my reputation.”

The next moment, blood-lust gushed out from the noble, who dashed onward and swung his sword at Takumi, but the blade stopped in mid-air.

“This is not good…”

A cheerful, blonde girl had blocked it with one of her black daggers.

“You have to tell me when things get spicy, Takumi.”

Ferocity burned in Kunon’s glare as she wore her usual smile.
The man tried to recompose himself, but when he saw the ears on the girl’s head, he openly showed annoyance.

“You have a lot of nerves to bring here even a filthy fox…”

“I’m a wolf, not a fox! I’ll kill you if you get it wrong again!”

She replied with a cheerful tone, but her golden eyes were dead serious, and killing intent overflowed from her. Kiad’s body froze, but his arrogance didn’t disappear.

“What a big mouth you have, despite being powerless in front of our magic.”

Magic was widely spread in the world, and even the distant island countries knew of it, but everyone recognized that Richtert’s magicians were extraordinary.
Thirty years ago, Richtert waged war against Dämmerung, known to use demi-humans to overpower human soldiers, but Richtert was victorious despite having only several hundred units.
Elvis Fortesea made the magicians be the key part of their battles.
They researched magic since ancient times, so they had the skills, gears and power to reach that outcome in such a dire situation.
Still, Takumi showed a boisterous smile.

“Do you really think that our bodyguard would lose against the magicians you are so proud of?”

“There’s only a way to know it!”

Kiad glared down at Kunon, when a voice reached them.

“Sheathe your weapon!”

Everyone fell silent when they recognized the owner of that voice. After a moment, a person walked through the crowd.

“What might disrupt the quietness of my buffet?”

Eluria’s words were grave, and Elsa, who was by her side, took a step forward.

“Her Majesty issued an order. Any other hostile act from any of the parties will result in their arrest.”

“Tch. Mind your own business, Fairstadt’s tomboy.”

“Silence, undisciplined son of Fortesea. Seems like you are getting ahead of yourself while your father is absent, but are you really going to continue your misconduct in front of Her Highness?”

Despite being both overlords, they didn’t seem to get along, as they glared daggers at each other.

“That ruffian of a slave merchant started this, and I only acted to teach him a lesson.”

“If that is true, he will be severely punished… but we will hear his version of the facts first. Slave merchant of Suzuran, what do you have to say?”

“I showed my contempt about the idleness of Fortesea, and also criticized the power of magic.”

Eluria looked at Takumi, who calmly mouthed those words, and nodded.

“So, are you saying that there was a discrepancy between your opinions? This does not change the fact that you bothered the other nobles gathered in this place with your behavior.”

She then paused for a moment before starting to talk to both of them.

“Therefore… as the leading authority of this kingdom, I propose to set up a place to clear their uneasiness.”

“Oh…? What does that mean?”

“It is simple, Kiad. Our Queen told you to reach an agreement worthy of the title of magic knight you earned in the past.”

“Precisely. You will set your dispute with a match and the royal family will personally oversee it. We will set a date for it, and it will be held in the presence of your companies and all the present nobles. Would it be good for you?”

“Absolutely. I didn’t want to meet them ever again, but I guess I need to teach them what the magic knights are made of… even though I don’t think they will last enough for it.”

Commented the noble scornfully looking at the merchant, who paid him no mind, with a sidelong glance.

“Her Highness, as Lord Kiad said a moment ago, it is unthinkable it will be a fair fight. To have a chance of winning, might I provide a list of handicaps we should take into account?”

“…I see. Indeed, Richtert’s magic knights are…”

“Let me clarify my words: my organization should have those handicaps, otherwise Fortesea will not have a chance of winning.”

Eluria’s solemn aura dissipated as she stared at him in wonder. Then, she timidly tried to confirm what she had just heard.

“Are you… sure about your decision?”

“Yes. This match would be boring otherwise. Our participants will be our elf Karin, the most powerless demi-human, and Kunon, who will be blindfolded and handcuffed… will this be fair?”

Eluria was baffled, and Kiad, on the other hand, was reaching the limit of his patience.

“How long will you keep to make fun of the magic knights?!”

“What do you mean? If I wanted to ridicule you, I would just go all out, no?”

Then, Takumi faced him while wearing a taunting smile.

“Checkmate, young master of Fortesea.”

The slave merchant’s irises were pitch-black, like bottomless pits.
His self-confident gaze stood out even more over his firm smile, and the overall pressure he exuded made Kiad’s expression warp for the first time.

“…Fine. Witness your defeat.”

Clicking his tongue, the annoyed Kiad left the place. Now that the commotion had ended, the curious nobles started to talk to each other again, and Queen Eluria, who seemed to enjoy the peace she had restored, smiled while bringing a hand to her cheek.

“Oh my, this will be a headache for Lux.”

“I was trying to meet your expectations, Your Majesty”

“In that case, I am looking forward to your showdown.”

With that, the queen turned her back and walked toward the puzzled nobles, while a dense aura brought Takumi to face someone whose veins popped from her forehead in anger.

“Aren’t you satisfied until you create a mess?”

“Hey, the bang you heard earlier came from over there.”

“Where?! Where is the guy who picked a fight with Fortesea?!

“In front of you, duh.”

“WHO ON EARTH CARES ABOUT YOU!”

Elsa started to forcefully hit him on the shoulder, but after a few instants she stopped and let out a brief groan while falling on her knees due to a terrible stomach-ache.

“Anyway, thanks for calling the queen.”

“Huh…? Go thank Crest’s archbishop, not me. I was greeting Her Highness when she called us in a hurry.”

She replied and shifted her gaze toward Lise, who was following the queen while glancing at them as to confirm their condition.

“The guy you’re searching for has already left. Oh, and sorry, but could you bring me Kunon? She disappeared again.”

“What?! Wasn’t she here just a minute ago?!”

“Since she couldn’t fight when the queen appeared, she got bored and went to get some more food.”

“And why didn’t you stop her?! Also, are you planning to make me take care of her again?! You are her master, shouldn’t you take your responsibilities?! Aaah, for Filia’s sake! No matter the problem she will cause, they’ll blame me anyway!”

Takumi turned around, and Elsa dashed away while screaming to bring Kunon back. No matter what happened, the captain of the guards was very diligent.

“Mirta, are you okay?”

“Y-Yes. My arm hurts only a little bit… Sorry, he interrupted me while I was speaking, and things escalated like that. Now our plans are ruined, and I can’t just try to introduce ourselves to influential companies…”

Realizing that she couldn’t carry out her duty, her eyes welled with tears, guilt gnawing at her from the inside.

“Now that I could finally act as a real leader… how could things turn this way…”

“Don’t be sad, Mirta. You did exactly what you had to. Our leader wouldn’t look down on her comrades, who you firmly protected. That was your real duty.”

As he patted her head, he shifted his gaze toward Karin.

“Also, this brought us closer to our true goal… right?”

“I gathered quite a lot of information, and we picked a fight like we planned, so everything was flawless.”

The two of them smiled at each other, while Mirta cocked her head, puzzled.

“Your… true goal?”

“Yeah, we wanted to pick a fight with that imbecile of Kiad. We needed a pretext to fish him, and even though I didn’t start it myself, I managed to arrange a nice table for this game.”

Tapping on his temple, he kept talking.

“Magic is the foundation of Richtert, and influences it greatly. The nobles and privileged classes use it to keep other countries in check and to mock demi-humans.”

Demi-humans generally lacked magical power. Only elves could beat humans when it came to it, but their knowledge was passed down their descendants only, and they kept living in secluded regions… or so Karin said.
Even if a demi-human learned magic, it couldn’t live of battles only. Since magic was considered ‘sacred’ for Richtert’s doctrine, the nobles wanted demi-humans, who couldn’t use it, to reside in the worst place possible: the slums.
Thanks to that crooked view, the citizens started to think that demi-humans were simply inferior to humans and developed unfounded prejudices about them.

“I want to destroy that stupid idea of omnipotence.”

Magic was the ultimate power, so the magic knights were unbeatable.
Soon they would have known the huge difference between them and demi-humans.

“Don’t you think it will be a lot of fun?”

He pictured that scene in his mind, and smiled while vacantly staring in front of him.
Karin couldn’t help but poke his back.

“That will be fun for you and Kunon, but do not drag me into this, please.”

“I-I agree! Kunon is a thing, but Karin can’t fight!”

“Actually, I am fine with fighting.”

“Are you?!”

“Well, as a former slave, I got used to it. I just cannot use the weapon I grew accustomed to.”

She practiced more than anyone else with the weapon that Takumi built for her, but she couldn’t bring it in a match with that many people.
Modern weapons should be researched and developed over a long time. Otherwise, the world’s balance would have been easily destroyed.

“So, Master, you will give me a great reward for making me fight, are you not?”

“A reward, huh…? What about this?”

He faced Karin with a complacent smile.

“If you win this match, I will do whatever you want only for once.”

“…Are you serious?”

“Yes. Anything is fine as long as it is possible.”

“Anything… He really said that…!”

She muttered something in a cute voice, and then nodded slightly.

“We will win, and you will feel on your skin the shame of wearing a dress!”

“Karin… do you hate them that much?”

“Of course, Mirta! I only want to go home and change into my normal clothes…”

Remembering that a lot of people had already seen her, she blushed furiously and hugged herself to hide her body.

“Takumi, it will be my first magic battle, though.”

“I know a few people that might help us, so don’t worry about it.”

“Do you know an expert in magical battles?”

“Yes. She should come here soon.”

Karin wore a doubtful expression as footsteps approached her from behind.

“Captain! Don’t hold me like I’m a bag or something!”

“You’d escape again if I were to hold you in any other way!”

Elsa was holding Kunon under her armpit, and once the guard spotted Takumi, she briskly walked to him.

“Here’s your lost pet dog, slave merchant! And don’t you dare to go away without me! You owe me one for this, you heard?!”

“Oh, great job, Elsa. By the way…”

“…What? I am all ears for your apologies.”

“Sorry, but can you be our instructor to win the magic battle?”

“…I must have misheard that. Can you repeat?”

“Overlord Fairstadt, might you be our instructor, please?”

“Oooh. You see, as a Fairstadt, I’m very busy.”

“Oh, c’mon. Everyone in the slums knows you as ‘the guard in charge of the slave merchant.’ We’re friends, so you will help us in this time of need, right?”

“Well, I’d almost want to see you bow and yell ‘my savior’ while I walk away!”

As she let out a dry laugh, Takumi placed a hand on her shoulder.

“We’re counting on you.”

It goes without saying that Elsa fell on the ground due to another horrible stomach-ache.


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New Game – Chapter 23

The ashen-colored birdie – Part 3

The castle’s inner part pavement was composed of white marble, to represent the elegance of the best part of the capital, and blue stone, that reminded the lake Verna.
The royal family called it the ‘aquamarine garden’.
They used it to relax in the afternoon, since only a handful of people could access it.

“Forgive me for interrupting your talk, Soft-hearted slave merchant.”

A woman showed him a graceful smile while sitting on a plain chair.
She looked to be in the first half of her twenties, and Takumi remembered her.

“It is an honor to meet you again, Her Majesty Eluria Richtert.”

He bowed and went down on his knees, and the woman let out a stifled, soft chuckle.

“Oh my, that politeness is just a sign of your deceitful nature, is it not? I preferred you the last time.”

“Guess I should be like that, then. Let’s avoid a roundabout speech.”

As soon as he finished the sentence, someone hit him on his back.
When he turned to see who did it, he found an extremely displeased Lise.

“…You are in the presence of Her Majesty. You must mind your tongue and your attitude.”

“Can’t I just apologize for what I said?”

“No. Keep going as long as Her Majesty wants.”

“Okay, fine. My Queen, can I be forgiven?”

“Yes, of course. Lise, do not bother Takumi.”

Lise hung her head with puffed cheeks at that rebuke.

“So, why was I brought here? There shouldn’t be any problems with the slaves I sent back home and or with anything else.”

“Indeed. The operation was flawless, and we have not received dissensions from the surrounding countries. This result is actually quite ideal.”

As she spoke, Eluria turned to face him.

“Let me express again my appreciation for your efforts. I expect great things from Suzuran.”

“I’m glad for your words, but use the guards to call me, please.”

“Oh, was Lise not to your liking?”

“Of course not. Who would be glad of being dragged away by a holy warrior? For a moment I thought it was the inquisition.”

Several orders of clergymen acted in the name of Filia.
The most famous ones were the priests, who spread Her verb and lectured people, but among them were also the inquisition and soldier-like members, who were proficient in battle, called holy warriors.
They were similar to fighting monks, who cultivated their doctrine, protected and taught people, but they also captured the heretics and purified the sinners.

“Still… I didn’t expect the famous archbishop to be a child.”

“Those who saw her had the same reaction, but Lise is a genuine holy warrior who earned such title.”

“Indeed. My title is proof of my greatness.”

She tried to puff her chest pridefully, but missing the raw material, it looked like she overstretched herself.

Now it was clear why Crest’s archbishop wasn’t a public figure.

“Well, at that age is better not to go around much.”

“We are not fond of exposing her to potential danger, and despite her being the genius who wrote the Law formula, Lise is still a child. Because of that, we allow her to move only in the most secure places, meaning the royal castle and the cathedral.”

“…I could manage myself, since I am not a child anymore.”

She looked depressed, but Eluria smiled happily.

“It will be a problem if you get lost, is it not?”

“It is fine as long as it does not happen.”

“That is true, but given how lovable you are, what if some brute were to kidnap you?”

“K-Kidnap me…? That sounds kind of bad.”

“It does, right? Why do you not stay here and keep talking with me, then?”

Eluria hugged Lise, who was now shivering, and patted her on the head. The archbishop’s lack of freedom was probably caused by the queen’s worry, rather than her own will.

“Her Majesty, you look quite fond of your doctrine’s archbishop.”

“Eheheh… As the vessel of the Goddess’ blood, I love my doctrine and children alike, albeit Lise is allowed to be by my side only temporary.”

“You mean officially?”

“Yes. I asked the overlord of Fortesea to let their guest of honor come and talk with me in her free time.”

Eluria smiled apologetically while the archbishop’s face clouded. Takumi shrugged his shoulder at them and let out a sigh.

“Anyhow, I’m sorry, but being lead here by a child was painful.”

“…I am not a child. Also, I have always been way more distinguished than you.”

She said in a flat, indifferent tone.

“First, to mistake me for someone of the inquisition should make you feel ashamed of yourself.”

“I’m from the slums, you know? There’s barely anything that makes me feel like that.”

“…Her Majesty, I wish for this man to get seized by the inquisition.”

“Oh my, that would be problematic.”

Lise glared at him like a child glares at its parents’ enemies, and Eluria, who should have held her reins, let out a moderate chuckle.

“Why are you looking at me like that? This is the first time we meet.”

“…It is not. I was nearby Her Highness during your first audience.”

Now that she mentioned it, Takumi remembered that a month before, when he stood in front of the queen, he noticed something silver moving behind the throne.

“…So that was you, huh.”

“That what? This is the worst. Seriously, not being even perceived is just the worst. I want to punish you here and now in the name of Filia.”

“It’s not my fault if I couldn’t see you from there. You’re just too short.”

“I am not. I will let you know that you are looking at the tallest among my peers.”

“You are all still children, so what’s the difference?”

“I-I am still the tallest!”

She remarked annoyed, but the truth was that she wasn’t even 1.4 meters tall, and it was even more pointless to compare herself to other children her age.

“Oh well, I’m sure you’ll grow enough in the next ten years.”

“I told you I am grown enough already! And stop patting me on the head or I will really call the inquisition, for Filia’s sake!”

As he rubbed her head, Lise slapped his hand to push it away.
Eluria, who was watching them carefully, opened her mouth.

“Forgive me, but I shall jump to her defense. I am sure that witnessing your exchange before, she now thinks that you are a bad person.”

“…No, Your Highness. I believe that he is wicked.”

She stated mercilessly, thrusting her index finger at him.

“Not only he dared to negotiate with Her Majesty, who has the Goddess’s blood flowing in her veins, but also rudely conducted himself without apologizing! I can perceive the wickedness in his soul!”

“Lise, you know quite a lot of difficult words for your age… You deserve praise.”

“Y-Your Highness, why are you also treating me as a child…?”

Feeling betrayed by her only ally, Lise started to shiver teary-eyes, and the queen warmly looked at her while repeating how cute she was.
Maybe Eluria was the real wicked one here.

“Still, you cannot cry over something like this. I know very well how skilled you are, Lise.”

“…Really?”

“Absolutely. So, stop crying, okay?”

With a lovable smile, the queen wiped her saddened eyes.
Then, after reaffirming how cute the archbishop was with a somewhat excited expression, the other two started to ignore her behaviour.

“Well, I’m glad that you recognize other people’s worth. There’s a lot of guys who can be used if you consider their abilities alone.”

“I agree. In fact, you are one of them, and I am prepared to recognize you only to benefit from your efforts.”

“…I see. But I’m a slave merchant, so I might accept any job outside my area of expertise only after some consultation.”

“That is right… let me assign you something fitting, then.”

She carefully peered at him while wearing a smile that implied something troublesome, giving Takumi a strong feeling of deja-vu…

“Please, do not bother Her Highness.”

A frowning Lise started to hit the slave merchant’s side, but he just shrugged his shoulders.

“…Fine. You won’t mind if I go back now, right? It’s my chance to gather more contacts among nobles.”

“Yes, I will see you there. Lise, can you accompany him again to the buffet?”

“…I do not feel like it, but I will follow your order…”

With dissatisfied words, the girl bowed and grabbed Takumi’s hand before leaving the garden behind.
At first, none of them tried to start a conversation as they walked on the marble in silence, but Lise was the first to break the ice.

“Sheesh… I do not understand what Her Majesty saw into you.”

“She told it before, did she not? I have talent.”

“This is not about your talent, but your luck. You got your contacts with the guards by sheer luck. The big companies were misbehaving, and you happened to find a solution… I cannot think of it as talent or ability.”

She was firmly convinced of her words. It looked like she didn’t want to recognize Takumi, who was now dejectedly shaking his head in denial.

“I had some expectations given your role, but I guess you’re still a child.”

“…You are the worst. I will not turn a blind eye to any other attempt at treating me like a child.”

“The worst is that you stopped using your brain. The very concept of luck is something believed only by lazy people who shut their brain down. It’s not a word that can be used so easily.”

She turned her head to look at his face without stopping walking.

“What do you mean with that?”

“Oh, can’t you get that? Let me show you with a game, then.”

He took a silver coin from his breast pocket.

“Let’s try to flip this coin. Do you think that if I get the right answer before it falls, will it be a mere fluke?”

“…Can I guess that one side is not heavier than the other, so there is not the chance of it being counterfeit?”

“Nice guess. Rest assured, this coin is perfectly balanced, so I won’t trick you.”

“Then you will guess the answer out of luck.”

“Let’s see. Try to flip it yourself.”

She stopped walking and took the coin from his hand with a puzzled expression, then adjusted it on her finger.
A clink rang from the flick of her thumb, and as soon as the coin started to spin in the air…

“…Tail.”

“Eh?”

She heard his words clearly, and when the coin fell on her palm, it was exactly as Takumi said.

“I won. Do you think I was lucky?”

“…Of course. It was only a coincidence.”

“And if I told you I just predicted it?”

A smile brimming with confidence formed on his face.

“I took into account the strength you put into the flick, the number of spins, the time it would have taken to land, the surface it was going to hit, and I guessed the right answer. Do you think all of this is simple luck?”

“It is… not possible to do any of that. This does not count! You tricked me!”

Unable to stomach that outcome, she started to pull his clothes while protesting.

“No, I just considered the primary factors and calculated what was gonna happen. If you label it as fortune, it means that you stopped using your brain.”

She looked up at him only to see his face in profile.

“What people call ‘luck’ can be disassembled into analyzing and guessing, but you are now denying that. So, did you become archbishop for a fluke?”

“No…! I studied hard and earned my role!”

“Don’t label everything as luck, then. Everyone put effort and hard work in what they do, so it’s not right to shrug it off as simply ‘luck’.”

The despondent girl hung her head in shame, and Takumi stroke her hair lightly.

“Do you get it now?”

“…Yes. I said too much. Sorry.”

“Don’t worry. Let me tell you a little secret.”

“…A secret?”

She cocked her head, and he smiled from ear to ear.

“What you just heard was a bunch of nonsense. I got it right by sheer luck.”

“…Can I punch you really hard?”

“I think I’m understanding the queen better now. Teasing kids is fun.”

“You are the worst! And stop treating me like a child, for Filia’s sake!”

He mischievously whistled while she hit him repeatedly on the side.
Then, her hands stopped all of a sudden.

“So, are you really just lucky?”

As she lowered her voice almost to a whisper, her gaze turned to meet his.

“Let me apply your words to myself. I am lucky to be born, and so I am by growing up into a noble family and being chosen by a rich person. My ability is no exception… so is all of this blessed fortune or just misfortune?”

She enquired in a plain tone, and Takumi, seeing through her questions, snorted loudly as if he was bored.

“Sorry, I would never give up or doubt myself, so I never thought about any of that.”

“…I see.”

She hung her head again for a few moments, then rose it again.

“That was somewhat interesting.”

“Nice. I’ll tease you again when I get the chance, then.”

“Not that part. I will call the inquisition if you dare to tease me ever again.”

She sharply glared at him, who wore a wry smile and turned to see outside, only to find that no one was there anymore.
He felt that something had changed in the air, as it grew darker and heavier.
Then, a scream thundered in the air.

“Give it a rest!”

The next moment, a voice echoed in the castle.


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