~~Morning, Second Day of the Sixth Month, Ninety-Sixth Year of the War Demon Calendar~~
At the Headquarters of the Royal Capital Magic Guardians in Regalia, the elite of the Royal Capital Magic Guardians — including Lina, Hornel, Fuyu, and Jeanne — were in a formation astride their horses, each and everyone visibly quite tense.
“Sir Gaston, preparations are all in order.”
Brigadier Viola said to her Commander and bowed.
Gaston, with Konoha on his shoulder, stared at the Headquarters’ gates in front of him.
Despite being over eighty years old, the light in his eyes had not dimmed down one bit.
“The Rank SS monster is… Chaos Lizard?”
“What is it, Master? Is there something on your mind?”
Konoha tilted its head and asked.
The old man let out a hoarse chuckle, and then briefly kept his lips sealed before he could bring himself to answer,
“As I recall, the young man and little girl have already hunted one of these.”
“Those two who are immortal like Tūs? We haven’t seen them for over two years now… The young man’s not quite on Tūs’ level, but his arcane energy is quite impressive. By the way, Master, you’ve been paying an awful lot of attention to them, haven’t you?”
“The young man’s achievements are many and significant — it would be strange not to care. Well, things were fine before they caught Lady Ishtar’s attention, but… I suppose Billy couldn’t keep quiet after knowing his secret. It is probably for the best that he isn’t here right now.”
Konoha nodded to Gaston’s reasoning.
“We can’t just sit around and do nothing, then. Let’s go, Master!”
Konoha pointed at the Headquarters gates.
Gaston, as if to respond to his Familiar, raised the corners of his lips before saying,
Hearing Gaston’s impactful signal, Brigadier Viola, serving in this operation as the first squad’s commander, raised her voice,
The elite unit of the Royal Capital Magic Guardians, tempered through the hellish Tūs-style guidance, totaled fifty members.
Viola commanded the first squad, Jeanne the second, Hornel the third, and Lina the fourth.
In front of them all was Gaston, signaling his horse to take the first step forward. Fuyu followed right behind him on Platina, her Star Horse.
All soldiers passed through the gates, their destination being the Chaos Lizard’s habitat.
The townspeople were excited for the prestigious operation of the Royal Capital Magic Guardians’ elites.
Lina blushed, somewhat embarrassed by the impactful yet warm cheering from the people. Noticing her, Hornel chuckled as he marched at Lina’s side. A few moments later, Hornel tapped Lina on her back to try and cheer her up.
Taken by surprise, Lina promptly straightened her posture. Hornel gave a thumbs-up signal, and the soldiers behind them laughed in good humor.
Then, when Lina turned back to pout at them, they all turned away.
In looking around behind her, what Lina saw now was the Regalia Castle, and in the sky, dark clouds as far as the eye could see. Lina’s expression briefly froze, seized by an eerie feeling.
Hornel, noticing Lina’s sudden change, stopped laughing and turned to where she was looking at.
“Aren’t you worrying too much, Lina?”
Gaston took a peek behind him, apparently sensing the disturbed atmosphere.
Fuyu, close by his side, tilted her head slightly, albeit not noticing what was up.
“You’re looking… scary today, Master. I mean, you always have been, but…”
“Try to embellish your words a little, Konoha. ‘Stern,’ for example.”
“Ooohhh, so sternly scawwyyy.”
“Hmph, you never stop talking, do you– ……Hmm…?”
Gaston paused for a moment.
“Is something wrong, Master?”
“No, it just feels like… I’ve heard that before…?”
“…Ah, nothing. Nothing at all. Watch where you stand — you might fall.”
“Hmm, you’re not acting quite like yourself today, Master.”
The Royal Capital Magic Guardians exited the city through the west gate, the one closest to their Headquarters, and proceeded to advance further west.
Not long after Gaston and the elite unit departed through the west gate, in the hidden passageway under Regalia Castle, a notably strange silhouette limped along the way.
And another person, a man, stood waiting in a spot illuminated with candle light.
A muffled voice came from the shadows.
At the same time, the man — Billy — raised his small round glasses with his finger.
“Your voice is as difficult to decipher as ever, Cleath.”
The strange silhouette, its form close to humanoid, glared at Billy’s back with its holden eyes.
“No matter how much Lady Ishtar trusts you, I will not let you simply insult me…!”
“Hehehehe, now, calm down. Take a gander at this…”
Billy looked down at his feet.
Upon looking as prompted, Cleath’s eyes were filled with surprise.
“Hmm!? Isn’t this…!”
A deformed, completely silent creature stood at Billy’s feet.
Its body was pulsating, and its gaze was unsteady.
“Quite a powerful arcane energy this specimen has, isn’t it? It’s no weaker than an S-ranked monster. It’s worthy of serving as the vanguard of my Chimaera army, don’t you think?”
“…Never thought you’d actually finish it.”
Billy held up his index finger and began to explain,
“I only changed my focus a little bit. All this time, I’ve been performing lengthy experiments, trying to force specimens to evolve. That meant it would take a long time until we get a complete Chimaera. By using specimen data from a creature that has already matured over a long time, on the other hand, I could build a powerful specimen from scratch… no, from practically nothing, even.”
“And this is what you got?”
Cleath looked at the specimen and muttered. Then, he noticed something.
Its eyes were shining, the light pointing at Cleath’s left arm.
“What was that? Is it having a rejecting reaction against the new left arm I gave you?”
Billy muttered to himself, suspicious of the situation.
“It reminds me of… the dog. The dog that bit off my left arm! Tell me, which creature did you get that specimen data from!?”
“A Siberian Husky… Specifically, the adorable one that used to frequent a certain University’s Nurse’s Office.”
The battle at Faltown, and especially the opponents he had faced there, remained fresh in Cleath’s mind and body. The images of two particular characters flashed across his memory.
“Hehehehe, finally caught up, I see. Yes, they are immortals. When you returned with your arm wounded, I collected a saliva sample from the injury… Combining the specimen data from her and the boy opened up many possibilities for research and development… Well, the process still took more than two years, though.”
Billy painted his face a bold grin.
[…I see. The guy is quite well-versed in the arcane, and his Familiar did give off a different impression from other Familiars… Hmm, but… Why does this specimen look nothing like a Siberian Husky? Its muscles are completely exposed, its mouth is so wide that it could swallow a man whole, and its fangs are shard like a Dragon’s… It looks too grotesque to be a beast… Just like me…!]
As Billy chuckled quietly, Cleath looked down at his inflamed hands and clenched his fists.
“…Did you tell Lady Ishtar about this?”
“Of course — the boy is a potential threat. I’m completely unaware what his activities have been after he took his last Rank-up Evaluation, but I’m sure Lady Ishtar will take action as soon as his whereabouts are known.”
Hearing that, Cleath could not help but ask,
“If that’s true, isn’t it too soon to destroy the Silver now? Pretty sure he was working together with those people. Should be better to ensure that he returns to Beilanea whenever he reappears… Wait, no…”
Seeing Cleath’s realization, Billy nodded.
“Exactly, we wouldn’t want collaborators to stick closely together — it’s the same case for all the others. Those who stand out from the crowd are easier to eliminate individually… and discreetly. Hehehehe, she may be our ally, but she’s quite a fearsome lady.”
Billy said and chuckled, his shoulders shaking.
Cleath reached into his chestpocket and took out his pocket watch, which he proceeded to show to Billy.
“All right, let’s go, then. We have a Rat to hunt!”
Right after Billy said that, Cleath set up a Teleportation spell.
The Spell Circle glowed to signify its activation, inviting Billy to wherever its destination was.
“Should not be far from the Chaos Lizard’s habitat. Make sure you wipe them all out, unless you want to provoke Lady Ishtar’s wrath…”
“Hmph, I know. I’m not a failure like you…”
Throwing one last insult at Cleath, Billy disappeared, his expression full of confidence.
Left alone under Regalia Castle as the passageway returned to silence, Cleath grumbled to himself,
“I am NOT a failure…!”
His voice briefly echoed through the underground passageway, then faded away — along with Cleath himself.