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“Seriously, Master! What are you gonna do if all those burns actually leave a mark?! They won’t be easy to get rid of if you leave them alone!”
“Shut up! They’re all gone now, so it’s fine!”
“What’s with your attitude!? I’m actually worried, you know!”
“Ow–!? Hey! Your claws! Get them away from me!”
“How about I DON’T!?”
Welp, she’s not gonna listen no matter what I say.
In times like this, it’s best to just leave Pochi alone. All my past experiences have taught me that.
“Nahahaha! Your clothes are all messed up, Ash! Time for your good ol’ Mel to fix them up, eh?”
“Yeah. Thanks, Mel.”
“Non non non! Consider it a reward for surpassing our mentor! C’mon, take it off! Hehe… hehehe…!”
“Uh, no… That’s not…”
I looked around.
Lina and Lylia seem embarrassed, as apparent from their faces turning red, but for some reason, Haruhana and Tifa are grabbing Melchi’s shoulders and giving her a thumbs up. Fuyu is covering her face with her hands, but her fingers are spread apart, making it so that her eyes aren’t covered at all.
“Ugh… Look, you’re technically a high-ranking member of the Resistance, so I trust you to have some public decency, all right?”
The leader of the Resistance, Irene, said to me — and then she heaved a sigh.
Not like I ever planned on taking off my clothes here, though.
“…Gah, you really beat me!”
“You’re awake already, Tūs?”
“Yeah, ’cause I just sensed a LOT of arcane energy signals coming right here.”
In an instant, everyone’s expression changed.
Among all of us, Tūs is the one who can sense arcane energy most easily.
Since he’s the only one sensing whatever is approaching us now, they must still be far away, but…
“Are they hostile?”
“Nah, shouldn’t be — they’re human. Pretty strong, too. Just as strong as that team over there, y’know?”
Saying that, Tūs pointed to Argent with his chin.
Argent narrowed his eyes, seeming happy.
A team that’s just as strong as Silver General… in T’oued, huh?
“They must be adventurers, then.”
“Most of the pressure from the Devil King’s resurrection is gone now. That’s probably why they can move. And of course, they’re coming to Eddo. And since they’re not enemies… I’mma go back to sleep. Hwah…”
After a long yawn, Tūs drew a Teleportation Spell Circle on the ground and disappeared through it.
“It seems that Guild Master Scott has deemed Eddo to be the most important of the potential major battlefields.”
Warren’s speculation is probably correct.
Guild Master Scott seems to have coordinated with Adventurers’ Guilds from all over and sent them to Eddo. The fact that they didn’t use the Teleportation Spell Circles means that they were either coming from very remote locations or it was Scott’s instruction to cull the monster populations along the way.
Although the arcane energy pressure has subsided, the monsters are still active and just as ferocious as they would be during the Devil King’s Fetal Stage.
It’s still unclear whether or not the Devilking will become more active, but we must consider the possibility of more Apostles of Despair appearing among the monster population.
That’s why, from now on, many more adventurers will likely come to the capital city of T’oued — to Eddo.
“Now, Master, you should go home and get a change of clothes!”
As Pochi suggested, I decided to head back to the Silver Mansion, feeling slightly uplifted by all the praise I’m getting from everyone… and at the same time, weighed down by a tremendous sense of responsibility.
In defeating Tūs, I have proven just how much stronger I have become. I also realized the sheer value of what I had gained from this fight — the understanding of the essence of the arcane arts. It will undoubtedly be useful in our fights against the Devil King and Gaspard.
And of course, it cannot be overstated how heavy and significant the responsibility I now bear on my shoulders is.
But there’s one thing I feel that is above that. It’s the fact that I can push myself to do my best because I have all my friends… that feeling has never been clearer to me.
“Ah, Sir Asley, welcome back! You have a guest waiting for you!”
Itsuki — still a contracted manager for Team Silver — said to me.
Apparently, this guest has come here this morning after a visit to the Pochisley Agency in Beilanea, and said that they would be having ‘some business with us for some time going forward’.
But why wait for me specifically? And who could they be?
“Oh yeah, I forgot to mention… He’s a giant talking bird with dark feathers!”
The very moment she said that, Pochi and I closed in on Itsuki.
“What’s his color!? Was it purple!?”
“Did he say anything of note!? Like, did he mention a ‘Chappie’ at all!?”
“H-Huh? Well, he did look pretty purple, yes, but he never said anything about a ‘Chappie,’ I think…?”
“Where is he now!?”
“Uh, in the courtyard–“
“–Follow me, Pochi!”
“–Follow me, Master!”
Pochi and I rushed to the courtyard as if we were competing with each other.
The moment we opened the sliding door leading outside, our eyes widened. There he is — a living legend that has survived the previous era of conflict. Our good old–
“Long time no see.”
“Hey, what’s that look for?”
Okay, actually, no. First of all, the way he’s looking at us is way different.
Chappie would be looking at us in a more… adorable way.
“Probably, sir. This must be the one you beat up, Master.”
“That’s what I thought, too. We settled our differences already, though, so why is he here?”
“How am I supposed to know? Just try asking him yourself, Master.”
“No way. I’m still salty about how he beat ME up in this era, you know. You should go, Pochi.”
“Boy, oh boy. What are you gonna do without me, eh, Master? All right, here I go…!”
“I can hear everything, you fools!”
We made sure to keep our voices down, so how did he hear that?
And why is this Violet Phoenix here, anyway?
Is it because it might be dangerous to stay in the Regalia Ravine due to Gaspard being on the move now…?
“Master, he just called me a fool! And it’s your fault!”
“Hmph, no, he called only YOU a fool. I’m humanity’s strongest and a symbol of hope — there’s no way anyone’s calling me a fool now!”
“But he said FOOLS — with an ‘s’ — which makes it plural, sir!”
Ugh, Violet Phoenixes sure have good ears… and Pochi is technically one as well, so it makes sense that she heard it.
“So, anyway… what do you want? Why’d you come all the way here to see me?”
“Tūs didn’t tell you?”
“What? Why’d you bring up Tūs all of a sudden?”
“He’s a long-time friend of mine. Bull as well, of course.”
God damn it. None of them have ever brought this up before!
……Huh? Wait a second…
“Wait, so that time when Mel told me I could find you in the Regalia Ravine…”
“It’s so that you could meet me, most likely.”
“Shit! She played us like a damn fiddle!”
“Hmph, at least you’ve sharpened your skills since then. You even won against Tūs — I was watching, you know?”
“Ugh, really… Where were you even watching from? Well, whatever…”
With me saying that, Shi’shichou tilted his head.
“We haven’t seen each other for years now, huh?”
“Thousands of years, even!”
Yes, the last time we saw Shi’shichou was in fact over 5,000 years ago.
Technically speaking, we did meet him just a handful of years ago, but we knew nothing then — not the Shi’shichou of the ancient times, not even the absolute chaos of that era.
That’s why, right here and now, saying ‘thousands of years’ is appropriate.
“…N-now, enough with that nonsense! I did not come here just to greet you and talk about the past! Absolutely not!”
After a moment of hesitation, Shi’shichou said turned his face away.
He seems to be embarrassed for some reason… or maybe it’s just my imagination.
“All right, all right. So what are you here for, then?”
Good thing Pochi’s here — she’s great at handling awkward situations like this.
Her… simple-mindedness allowed her to get straight to the questions. Not exactly the kind of thing I can do.
“A-ahem! Together with Bull, I have asked the old timers for help.”
“…! You mean the Heavenly Beasts!?”
“That is right. They too have sensed the Devil King’s power in the time leading up to his resurrection. And as more sources of powerful arcane energy gather in T’oued, they are sure to come here as well.”
“Good thing you took the initiative to ask them first, though.”
“It was Tūs’ idea! I just did what HE asked me to!”
Hmm, I’m not sensing any hostility from him anymore. Looks like he’s gotten much better at interacting with humans over the past 5,000 years.
But wait, then why was he hostile toward us when we met a few years ago? …Oh, right, because my magic accidentally hit him. Anyone would have been angry about that.
Still, Tūs really had to do things his own way, huh? He could have discussed this with us first… Not that he’s exactly the kind of person to discuss things, especially with me, anyway.
“Poer… Actually, no… Asley, was it?”
“I have a bad feeling about what is coming next…”
“…You’re not gonna say ‘last time was way easier,’ are you?”
“Actually, that is exactly what I meant to say.”
So Shi’shichou has caught on to the strangeness of our situation as well.
The Devil King’s resurrection clearly happened too quickly, and then his arcane energy just up and disappeared. Then there’s Gaspard to fit into this whole mess, and also the thing about Leon…
That’s why I have to become stronger… much stronger. Hell, not just me — Pochi, Lina, Irene, and everyone else, too.
We’ll all become stronger, together…!
“Also, the Chappie fellow has been wanting to see you for some time now…”
“Well, he has given me a message to relay to you.”