Catherine’s utterance and Asley’s declaration that followed were so absurd that everyone fell silent, some even holding their breath.
Even the carefree Egd…
…Could only laugh quite dryly for a handful of seconds.
Everyone cast their eyes down — except for one. A ray of light rising up among them, his eyes were shining, his fists tightly clenching, and his passion burning.
“…We have a non-zero chance.”
That night, after his defeat at the hands of Lucifer, Pochi had told him that they ‘still had a chance’ — a chance so small that it might as well be impossible, but it was still a fact that it was non-zero.
Asley closed his eyes, began to sweat, and mumbled to himself.
Warren, struck with a sense of déjà vu from the unusual and bizarre sight, exclaimed,
“Itsuki, get us pens and paper! As much as you can carry!”
Itsuki, on standby right on the other side of the entrance, went away and quickly returned with a thick stack of papers.
“For the reduction of a target’s MP, the magic spell of choice would be… well, Magic Point Reduction. The spell, combined with the enhancement from the Demonic Acceleration magecraft, can be expected to drain 100 MP per second… which is far too low. After all, Devil King Lucifer’s maximum MP value should be over 5,000,000. If we are going to use them, the Magic Point Reduction spell and Demonic Acceleration magecraft would need to be improved — upgraded to the Zenith rank. But then who would be able to invoke it? Just Tūs and me? In that case, it still won’t be useful enough. This cannot be done with a fixed position type Spell Circle, either, what with the Devil King being a constantly mobile target. Maybe it is necessary to draw the formula directly on his body…”
Asley wrote and wrote, going through one sheet of paper after another.
Amil checked some of them out as they were set aside.
“…Wow. He has already worked out a way to draw Spell Circles onto an opponent’s body!”
Barun took a peek at them from the side, and was shocked by what he was seeing.
“What in the…? Using Boundary magecraft to tether a Spell Circle to Lucifer’s body? What does that even mean?”
Russel picked up one of the other sheets scattered about, and proceeded to read it by using his heightened sense of touch to feel the ink.
“And this is… an edited version of Demonic Acceleration? I see… if we work this in an array and maintain a good balance of the supplied arcane energy, it will become several times more efficient…”
“Oh, sorry, that one’s obsolete already. The updated draft is over here.”
Warren took a close look at the newer sheet Asley pointed at.
Another sheet of paper fell in front of the astonished Russel. While he traced the ink marks to read it, Amil and Barun peered at it from either side.
“How can one fit so much information into a single Craft Circle…!?”
“This… this is overwhelming!”
“But it’s not just that — An equal supply of arcane energy is needed for each individual function…!”
“No… that doesn’t work…”
And so another sheet was thrown away.
“You are saying…. even THIS is not enough…?”
Asley’s eyes, almost bloodshot, seemed to not even be looking at the paper anymore, but rather peering into the stream of thoughts within his mind.
Irene’s voice, barely above a whisper, reached the dumbfounded Six Braves,
“There’s not much we can do here, is there?”
Everyone understood it as a suggestion to leave the room.
The Six Archmages were insistent on staying, however, almost as if rejecting that notion.
“We won’t be a hindrance. We’d like to read everything and assist in finding further possibilities.”
Russell’s earnest words, accompanied by his dark gaze, received a quiet nod from Irene.
Jennifer, seated next to Asley, remained unmoving with her arms crossed.
“What? Why would you–“
Irene started asking, but stopped when it was clear that the other Six Braves shared the sentiment.
“Miss Irene, I understand that we’d be better off leaving, but… I’ll stay, too.”
“You never know when the insights of warriors might be necessary.”
“The meeting isn’t over yet, is it?”
“I mean, it’s for the magic that might defeat the Devil King Lucifer, you know?”
“It’s important to me that I’m present to witness the moment it’s completed, Miss Irene.”
Catherine and Jacob…
“That old man over there isn’t going anywhere, either.”
Natasha, and the ‘old man’ she was referring to, Tangalán, who said nothing as he intently looked at Asley’s papers…
“It is my obligation as his friend to see this spell be developed.”
…And even Warren.
Irene sat down on her cushion, her mouth shaped like a crooked line and her eyes shaking with frustration.
Everyone chuckled at the way Irene sat down, and immediately following that, some quite unexpected words jumped into her ears.
“Miss Irene, tea, please!”
“What!? We can just get Itsuki to–“
Indeed, asking for tea right at this time was quite unexpected. But then again, the amount of sweat Asley was shedding as he went through sheet after sheet of paper was also abnormal.
Seeing that, Irene felt she had no choice but to humor his request — despite it being her first time ever making tea for someone else.
“You owe me for this, all right!?”
“Okay, okay, fine!!”
And so Irene walked out the door.
Asley, on the other hand, kept on writing.
One of the sheets thrown aside — though not crumpled up unlike the rest of them — fluttered in the air and landed near Natasha.
“Heh, his handwriting is so adorably childish.”
Natasha proceeded to pass the sheet to Warren.
Warren caught the paper that flew straight towards him, then pushed up his glasses and murmured,
“I agree with you on that… Hmm, it seems the Demonic Acceleration has been streamlined to the maximum efficiency.”
Amil and Baru walked behind Warren to get a look.
Then they let out exclamations of admiration.
“Hey, this formula… The arcane energy usage cap can be tweaked with to cost a little less!”
In an instant, Asley grabbed the collars of Barun’s shirt and pulled the latter towards him.
“Gah–!? Are you trying to break my neck or what!?”
“The thing you just said — was that true!?”
“Uh-huh? Yeah, I always tweak the energy caps of my formulas — they’re actually pretty simple to use.”
“That’s it! Can you teach me to do that!?”
“I-I mean, sure, but mind going easy on my neck, Asley? Also, “
“Miss Irene, another cup of tea, please!!”
Irene’s strong, incredulous voice echoed from further into the magic classroom venue.
“I see… so even if it’s a small, partial improvement, we CAN cooperate in increasing its efficiency. Is that what you’re saying, Asley? Ah, I see there’s some unnecessary code right here. By removing it, you can increase the energy input rate by ten percent.”
“One more cup of tea, please!!!”
Irene’s voice, raging with frustration, echoed even louder through the hall.
Warren held up a piece of paper and said to everyone,
“There’s nothing to this, really — just searching for mistakes. But doing this is NOT meaningless. Even warriors have keen instincts to offer — if you feel that anything about the written information is off, please don’t hesitate to speak up. We will verify them.”
Natasha and Jennifer, upon hearing Warren’s words, stood up with determination.
“Here, right here! Doesn’t feel right!”
Natasha calmly pointed out the error she found, while Jennifer indicated the part that felt off.
Russell, touching the paper, struck at the heart of the matter.
“Ah, yes, of course… Sir Asley overlooked this misspelling here, which resulted in him miscalculating the resulting spell formula… which is why Miss Jennifer said it ‘doesn’t feel right’.”
“Miss Irene, three more cups of tea, please.”
Warren, as if praising Natasha, Jennifer, and Russell for their efforts, ordered more tea.
“GAHAHA! If I’m to drink Miss Irene’s tea, then I ought to try and contribute as well!”
“Well, is there any part of this that you are curious about, Sir Charlie?”
“Here! What is this, Sir Warren?”
The part Charlie pointed at was where Asley’s unique magic formula was depicted.
“Ah, this… It appears to be a formula that alters the flow of arcane energy. For whatever reason, the arcane energy cannot proceed in straight paths, so more channels are added to prevent stagnation. It is somewhat similar to parallel supply, but… fundamentally different. It’s truly remarkable that he even came up with…”
“…Wait, so if these parts are connected, the energy will be all clogged up?”
“A-ah, yes. They will.”
“Can they be made to go up and down instead?”
“……A partially three-dimensional circulation in an otherwise two-dimensional formula, sir? Perhaps a seasoned warrior would be minute enough to… Oh, in fact, Asley could–!?”
“I got it, Warren! How does this look!?”
Asley had already finished drafting out his idea before Warren could complete his thoughts.
As Warren widened his eyes in astonishment, Egd and Dragan voiced their opinions.
“Sir Dragan, this text is indecipherable!”
“Choose your words wisely, Egd. This IS decipherable, only disorganized.”
“Those two words mean the same thing to me!”
“Mister Warren, a pen, please.”
Dragan proceeded to copy Asley’s text onto another sheet, making it easier for others to read.
“Hehehe, simply aligning the characters like this does wonders to condense the information. This leaves more space to fit in even more information, helping to achieve higher efficiency… Now this is very much a warrior’s approach!”
“This makes it so that the caster cannot miscalculate even a single millimeter, however — Will Mister Asley be able to handle it?”
“Three more cups of tea, please!!!!”
As if to reject Dragan’s concern, Asley requested more tea for those who had just chimed in.
“Well then, it seems that he is fine with it. I’m sure he’ll find a way to make it work.”
Warren’s explanation drowned out Irene’s incohesive scream of rage.
“Huh, this part looks strange.”
“I think this one doesn’t look right, Miss Catherine.”
“Let me see!”
Amil leaned forward to verify Catherine and Jacob’s observations.
“…Oh, this isn’t–“
“–What? Something wrong?”
“Oh, no, it’s nothing much, but…”
Amil stumbled over her words, but Asley did not mind that at all.
“Please, do take your time. I’m listening.”
While deeply engrossed in everyone’s comments, Asley wouldn’t let go of a chance to better his mastery over the arcane arts. That was simply the way he had always been.
“It’s about the voice recognition formula — Miss Catherine was pointing at its entry point, and Sir Jacob the exit point.”
All the mages came to a realization at the same time.
“You two are wonderfully compatible with each other.”
“What the hell does that even mean!? Barun!? Russel!?”
Barun and Russel turned to each other, and Catherine promptly lashed at them.
And then Asley subconsciously, involuntarily affirmed that statement.
“Oh, I see, if we cut out these parts, we might be able to use it to attack Lucifer by surprise. It only works through direct Circle drawing anyway, so this is very worth considering. Heh, just what I’d expect from the mischief-maker duo. Very clever.”
“Two more cups of tea, please!!!!”
The duo’s rebuttal was drowned out by Asley’s full affirmation, leaving them staring blankly with their eyes wide open.
Everyone proceeded to chuckle at their reactions, greatly frustrating them.
It was an indescribable annoyance they had never experienced before — one that would dissipate in the next moment, unlike the year-long grievances they would usually hold.
Asley’s focus was so great that his eyes looked like they would start bleeding any second now — the sight made them feel silly if they were to be mad at him.
“…Well, since Miss Irene will be bringing me tea…”
“…Yes, that is sure to be something worth remembering.”
Catherine and Jacob turned to each other and shrugged.
Asley groaned as he glared at the paper Dragan had rewritten, and then he noticed a square-shaped shadow before his eyes. When he looked up, there stood Tangalán.
The square shadow was none other than a sheet of paper, on which an unfamiliar variation of the optimized spell formula had been written.
“This is what I came up with in my own style.”
“Ooh…! Thank you, sir!”
“You know, if you’d only stayed in the University, you might have learned to do it this way…”
Tangalán said as he looked the other way.
Asley, having been expelled from the Magic University after just one school year, took it with a smile rather than as a jab.
“Miss Irene, more tea–“
Tangalán interrupted Asley’s words.
Its meaning became clear right away — in his left hand was the paper with the optimized formula, and in his right hand was a piping-hot cup of tea.
<“Damn it, you old cowboy! That’s Asley’s tea!!”>
Irene’s voice echoed through the hall.
“That’s right. It’s right here…”
Tangalán, his eyes on Asley, smirked and took a sip from the cup.