~~Beilanea Magic University, Headmaster’s Office~~
The time of the day was now approaching twenty-one o’clock. Irene, with Trace following right behind her, paid a visit to Tangalán’s office.
She had a perfectly calm expression on her face, the kind one would have when they were far beyond raging. It appeared that Trace was not stopping her, either.
“What’s the meaning of this!? Why’d Asley have to be arrested!? Really, fake money!? Do you have any evidence of that!?”
As one would expect, she was absolutely furious.
“The evidence can be prepared as needed. The issue is that there was an affected party, and that affected party has built a case against Asley.”
“Who even is this affected party you’re referring to!? The transactions were done through the head of Kachou Fuugetsu, so there can’t possibly be any damage!”
“It is always possible that this ‘affected party’ is a fabrication. Should you not realize that much, Irene? The security would do anything, given they are paid enough. Moreover, we… no – ‘you’ do not have the financial means to help Asley.”
“What do you… mean by ‘me’? Shouldn’t he be released easily enough with the Magic University’s cooperation!?”
Irene approached Tangalán, striking heavily on the headmaster’s desk.
However, even the pressure from her authority as one of the Six Archmages was staved off by Tangalán as he returned the threat with a cold stare.
“I know you are one of the Six Archmages, but do you realize who you are acting up against, Irene?”
“The Magic University has no intention to defend Asley. We cannot afford Beilanea’s authority to be disturbed here. If you wish to help him, then you are on your own.”
“Asley is an excellent student! Isn’t the Magic University supposed to get someone like him released!? Otherwise, it’ll be a loss of valuable personnel for the Nation!”
“If you had such foresight, then how did you not see this incident coming?”
“Miss Irene, please refrain from taking excessive action!”
Trace interjected, pulling Irene away by the back of her shirt. Irene promptly stopped as she was warned, but her face still suggested that she would totally chew Tangalán down at the first opportunity presented.
Tangalán kept his cold stare all the way through and proceeded to end the conversation.
“Depending on the decision on his charges, Asley may be subject to expulsion from the Magic University. I am a busy man, so I will have to excuse myself here.”
Saying just that to Irene while turning away, Tangalán left his office without uttering another word.
Irene now cast her eyes down, albeit keeping the same sharp glare as she had before. Her shoulders started to tremble little by little, her back weighed down by justified yet unresolvable resentment.
The next moment, Trace was startled by an impact so powerful that it quashed her intended words of concern to Irene.
The shock had prompted Trace to shut one eye, with her other reflecting the image of a fist slamming violently on Tangalán’s desk like a mass of pure indignation.
“Hah hah hah…”
~~Beilanea Adventurers’ Guild~~
“They’re right there!”
“No, they’re not.”
Meanwhile, Duncan stood in his usual spot behind the Guild’s counter, and was currently in an argument with Strug, who stood opposite of him.
“Again, they’re right there! Those girls had been paid off with counterfeit currency! Therefore, they must be returned to where they originally were!”
Strug yelled while he pointed at a frightened group of girls within the Guild.
However, so as to protect the girls, Haruhana, Natsu, and Fuyu stood between them with no intention to budge from their place.
And standing around as if to completely encircle them were the Guilds’ adventurers, including Blazer, Bruce, and Betty.
“What are you talking about? You know that those girls just completed their registration as Rank F adventurers, right~~? Girls from the Colorful Food District wouldn’t even think to come here, you know.”
“Now you’re just being arbitrary- Ngh-!”
Even though it was just for a brief moment, Strug had definitely felt bloodthirst directed at him. On top of that, it was from none other than the lady in front of him – the bearded one who had been casually arguing with him. Moreover, he was feeling quite heavily pressured by the surrounding people – all of them, not just Blazer’s crew.
Dwarfed down in an instant, Strug could not bring himself to say anything as Duncan proceeded to threaten him.
“Lay your hands on one of our adventurers, and you have at it with all of us. Are you sure?”
Duncan leaned forward and stooped down, reaching to slap Strug’s shoulders and whisper into his ear.
“Clean your act and come again, boy♪”
The statement, filled with murderous intent, prompted Strug to immediately rush out of the Guild. As Strug cursed at his subordinates on standby outside, the Guild’s interior flared up with a magnificent wave of laughter.
“Hah hah hah!! We better not see you again, numbskull!”
“Keep yourself away from the Guild from now on, bird brain!”
“Hah, would you look at that. Even your insults are similar – goes to show how close you two are as siblings.”
In response to Blazer’s comment, Bruce and Betty turned to look at each other. Both blushed faintly as their eyes met, prompting them to turn away from each other out of embarrassment.
Observing those two, Haruhana chuckled, and then Natsu and Fuyu hold their stomachs as they burst out in laughter.
“Ahh, so scary! Ahahahahaha!”
“Huhuhuhu, that was quite a nerve-racking experience.”
“Yes, I never thought I would ever get to become an adventurer.”
The three heaved a sigh of relief and sat down in the seats nearest to them.
Seeing that, Duncan smiled, and the group of frightened girls behind him rushed to Haruhana’s side.
“You were so cool, Big Sis Hana!”
“Is everything all right now?”
Their little hands patted Haruhana’s back and shook her hands. Unfamiliar to such sensations, Haruhana was bewildered, but Bruce patted her shoulder and smiled for her.
“You did great.”
…With that one statement, Haruhana stopped shivering and looked at all the girls.
“…Yes, everything is all right.”
The girls’ expressions brightened up, and the surrounding adventurers showered Haruhana – or rather, everyone – with praise.
“Hahahaha, you sure showed ‘im, girl!”
“That Strug guy’s face is gonna be our laughingstock for a while! Gyahaha!”
“That’s no good, Duncan! Chances are these kids were more scared of you, yeah!? Hahahahaha!”
“Oh~~ no~~ It’s only normal for a lady to deal with things calmly, right~~?”
Perhaps seeing that all was fine now, Bruce only told Blazer and Betty that he was ‘going out,’ and promptly left the Guild building.
In one hand, he held the roll of parchment that Asley had left in his care.
~~Beilanea Magic University, Women’s Dormitory~~
Lina, having been informed of the incident by Irene, sat in her room with quite a worried expression on her face, her hands folded together as if in prayer.
The precipitation intensified by the minute, the raindrops striking the window with increasingly greater force.
Then she heard something coming from a distance. Lina slowly approached the window, focusing her ears on the sound from beyond the ceaseless downpour. Visibility was limited, but she was sure that she had heard some sort of… howling.
“This voice… Pochi!”
Lina battled the wind to force the window open, and was then able to discern the direction of Pochi’s voice as she approached the Magic University.
She looked in that direction, into the dark and hazy landscape, and made out a silhouette riding on the back of the gigantified Pochi.
Or so she thought, before the figure was revealed to be someone else not even a moment later.
“Isn’t that… Bruce…?”
Pochi, soaked in rain, leapt onto the top of the Magic University’s wall in a single bound, followed by a jump down from there to Lina’s window.
On the way down, Bruce passed the roll of parchment in his possession to Lina, only telling her that “It’s from Asley”.
Pochi landed on the lawn of the women’s dormitory, and Bruce looked up at Lina for a short moment, and then they jumped away, disappearing into the dark night.
Lina looked in that direction as if to send them off, then proceeded to unwrap the slightly damp roll of parchment.
“…Huh? It’s… blank?”
Without an idea of its significance nor intention, Lina was at a loss for what to do next and could only grasp it tightly, feeling the lingering temperature of its previous holder, as she gazed up the eastern Beilanean sky.