At any rate, this has turned out to be quite troublesome. I’d thought I could take my time to figure things out, but with me not getting any food that was not the case.
I know I can’t do anything about them now, but those bastards at the District… I’m gonna make them pay.
I’ve got no water of any kind, either. All the place gave me was a hole of a toilet. I’d never known that prisoners were receiving such an awful treatment.
Me being more or less human, I can’t live with this. No – I’m human. I’ll have to do whatever I can to get myself out of here.
Sure, I could have escaped my capture in the first place, but doing would have spread the damage to the people around me. That was the one thing I’d resolved to absolutely avoid.
Without my staff, and with the power of these cuffs, it was impossible for me to draw Circles. I couldn’t even draw them on the floor, what with it being so rocky.
“In which case… Hng-“
A bit too classic for my tastes but let’s draw it with my blood.
I slipped my boots off and used my teeth to tear off the nail of my thumb toe, then proceeded to draw a Craft Circle. Pain ran up my leg with each stroke of my toe on the ground, but for adventurers, such pains were not much more than scratches.
Regardless, they do hurt, so I’ll have to heal up later. In fact, I’ll prioritize that over petting Pochi’s head. Yeah.
And of course, this Craft Circle was not designed to invoke its magecraft by itself. Be it magic or magecraft, their Circles required an input of arcane energy to activate.
Besides, if Circles could do that, any prisoner with an understanding of magic would have been able to bust their way out.
“Owowow… all right, Absorb Arcane Energy.”
The alchemy implies that one could transfer arcane energy into an object, thereby turning it into an Artifact. On the other hand, the fundamental rule of magic states that all magic contains arcane energy.
Then, by using these iron cuffs as an arcane energy catalyst, I could invoke the magecraft, and the latter, in turn, would absorb arcane energy from the cuffs.
And with that, all that was left… was a normal pair of iron handcuffs.
Now that I could draw Circles on the air with my fingers, I was left with just two more things to work on here.
First, to work with the Craft Circle that I’d drawn with my blood, and then, use the Storeroom…-
~~Pochisley Agency, Asley’s Room~~
“Whew, escape successful.”
First things first, I lit up the room with a Light Source spell.
Then I sat myself down on the bed and started healing up my poor, still-bleeding thumb toe.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Master! -Wha, why do you look like that, sir!?”
“Huh-? Oh, sorry. Didn’t think you’d be here.”
“Why are you naked!? Hurry and get dressed this instant, sir!”
“Bah, all right, fine. I think it’s in here… Rise, Storeroom! Yeah, should still have it…-“
I took out a certain set of clothes from the storeroom, and got changed right in front of Pochi as she closed her eyes with her paws.
“Here, how does it look?”
“Wow… now that’s the vestment I’m most used to seeing… wait, you still haven’t gotten rid of it, sir?”
“Hey, the more spares I have, the better.”
“It’s been fixed up so many times that I don’t even remember its original design anymore, but it’s still impressive that you’ve kept it around for more than 500 years, sir…”
“Hahahahaha, I know, right?”
I had always worn it back when we were living in that that cleared dungeon, and also when we left and ended up at Faltown, where we met Ryan, Reid, Mana, Tifa, Reyna, Lina, and so many others. During the two years I had spent with them, I had always worn this vestment, and now, I just brought it back out of the closet.
That felt somewhat emotionally moving, but reality dictated that I had no time to dwell on it.
“Oh-ho, managed to get yourself out, eh?”
Having kept vigilant, Pochi shifted her attention to the room’s door as soon as she heard the unfamiliar voice, but there was no one there.
“Melchi, stop trolling around. Could you please keep this short and just come out?”
“Nuhuhu, sorry~~ I wanted to see more of this li’l girl’s personality, that’s all.”
Melchi said as she revealed herself in a movement that seemed as if she was slipping out of a shadow.
“Is-is that Transparent Form magic? Even my Master hasn’t completed its implementation yet!”
“She sure has a lot of faith in you, eh, Ash?”
Melchi grinned as she cracked a teasing-like joke, and Pochi, embarrassed, shouted back at her.
“T-that’s not true! It’s just a bit… ‘that’!”
“Hahaha, and no, this isn’t Transparent Form – It’s a spell that forces a merging of my physical form with shadows. Can’t be used unless it’s night or in super dark places, though. I believe this is our first time meeting, Pochi. I’m Melchi – a pleasure to meet you.”
“Ah, yes. The pleasure is all mine.”
“So how’d you escape, anyway? You couldn’t have just busted those cuffs straight off, right, Ash?”
“So you see-“
I explained everything up until now to Melchi, starting from when I had been arrested and how I used Absorb Arcane Energy, and she seemed so surprised that her jaw figuratively dropped to the ground.
“…That’s does make it quite simple to unlock, yeah. Haha, nice idea you got there.”
“And how did you get back here, Master?”
“With Teleportation. I had one set up in here beforehand. Distance isn’t an issue since the Teleportation here can be invoked from all the way there, too.”
“Wait, Ash, wouldn’t that leave traces of the spell in the cell for them to detect?”
“I’ve included a formula to make that Spell Circle disappear after a certain amount of time. Getting them to work together is pretty hard, but definitely doable. By now, you won’t be able to come and go through the Circles. Oh, I should erase this one, too.”
“…I see, another formula, eh. Boy, that’s interesting! A different breed of interesting from my mentor, no less!”
Melchi said as I had my back to Melchi, keeping myself busy dismantling the Teleportation Spell Circle in the room.
Which reminds me, how old is she? Her manner of speaking sometimes sounded very old, and sometimes very young, so I couldn’t really tell.
“Still, wouldn’t it be dangerous to stay here, what with them noticing that you’re no longer there, Master?”
“No, I’m already dead…”
“AHHH! Master, you’re fading away!”
“That’s not what I mean, you idiot!”
Some of her jokes were unexpectedly funny, not gonna lie.
“So… what’d you mean, you’re already dead?”
“I’ve used a calcium formula to craft a skeleton exactly my size and left it there.”
“Ahh, so that’s why you were naked!”
In an unexpected turn of events, Melchi immediately turned red. Now that’s amazing – she’s like a boiled octopus. Maybe I’ll have her help me with my research on blood circulation next time.
Ah, yes, ‘naked’ – such a romantic word of power.
Mm-hm, her imagination is running wild.
So she’s weak against this kind of stuff, huh. Gotta remember that for future reference.
“Anyway, Master… Don’t you think a skeleton would be even more suspicious?”
“Yeah, it would – So after I got the cuffs off, I reworked the Absorb Arcane Energy’s Craft Circle into an Acidic Attack Spell Circle. Deliberately made it look like a mistake.”
“And then what, sir?”
Pochi asked, tilting her head in confusion. It’s quite a mysterious phenomenon, her actually listening when I’m talking about something serious.
Well, I would’ve preferred that she acted appropriately for every situation, though…
“So it would seem like I was trying to melt the iron cuffs but messed the casting up, resulting in a spontaneous discharge. And without the means to evade the spell, the guy called Asley died. It’s a reasonable conclusion that mages would arrive at when they go to investigate my death. The cuffs were left with the skeleton, and I’ve restored the cuffs’ original power, too – it’ll be fine.”
“But if you were cuffed, then how would you explain how you cast the acid magic?”
“Oh, crap… I can’t say that it’s magecraft, either… What should I do, Pochi?”
“Oh, for the love of… Why do you always have to overlook some small but crucial detail, sir…?”
I don’t want to hear that especially from you, but we’ll just end up with nonstop back-and-forth if I talk back, so I’ll keep quiet for now.
“How about we ask Sir Billy for help?”
“Oh, yeah! Him doing the autopsy wouldn’t raise any suspicion, and he’d have no problem getting to do it himself if he offered to!”
“He’s gonna give me sweets, too!”
“That’s got nothing to do with this!”
“People who give out sweets can’t possibly be evil… well, most of them! Sir Gaston and Miss Irene are good people, too!”
“…I see. That’s a pretty fun way to keep your statistics. Maybe I’ll do a research about that sometime later.”
And looks like Melchi’s finally come back to life.
“So, Ash… what’d you mean, you’re already dead?”
…C’mon, don’t make me talk through all that again.
“-…All right, the request went through to Sir Billy.”
“And so… what will you do from now on, sir?”
“Hmm, it’ll be hard to stay hidden in this town, and I’m quite intrigued by what Melchi said earlier…”
“Nuhuhuhu, so how about you come over to my mentor’s place, Ash? You might find help there, and I can train myself up some more, too – Not to mention it’ll be easier for us if we have our investigation subject close by.
Going to meet the Philosopher of the Far East, huh…
That sounded quite interesting, sure, but I also have some things I would like to investigate myself, and most importantly-
“Yeah. The Colorful Food District, too-“
“Hey, no need to worry about that, Asley.”
The familiar voice came from the darkness beyond the Light Source spell’s reach, as if to cut in between my words of worry.
“Bruce… Sorry, didn’t know you were there.”
Ever since we’d ended up living all together, I’d eventually gotten used to talking with The Silver informally.
And of course, the one among them I had gotten used to the fastest was Bruce.
“It’s because of my crazy request back then that made all this happen, anyway. Betty and Blazer are still in on this, so you don’t need to worry about things over here.”
“I wouldn’t worry about maintaining the operation, but the management of everyone’s training is-“
“I’ve got some ideas to deal with that, so we’ll pull through… No – we’ll get it done. Don’t worry.”
Bruce’s tone was resolute, giving me no room to pose an objection.
However heavy-handed that may have been, I knew it was Bruce’s way of being considerate, and that made me feel all the more conflicted.
And so I’m leaving, huh… After Melchi had helped me with her hurtful, yet delicate words, I had been pondering over various things.
About Lina, the Magic University, the Adventurers’ Guild, and finally, the Colorful Food District. Everything left unfinished. Or not – I suppose Lina had successfully ‘graduated’ from my guidance… Still, that didn’t change that fact that I was concerned for her. I still wanted to see how Lina would improve herself from now on, but if I stayed around her all the time, I would end up becoming an obstruction to her growth, in a way.
As for me, I had been acknowledged by the Magic University, and even scouted to be one of the Magic Guardians by Gaston himself. Even though, according to Billy, the decision had been passed down to drop me out of school, Gaston would still be willing to take me in. I may be uncertain whether I would join the Magic Guardians, but I’d never been happier to know that I had somewhere to go to.
Now, I wonder how Lina will react to this. As long as my magecraft is active, I’ll be able to contact her anytime, and as long as she has that roll of parchment, there won’t be much need to fear for her safety.
With The Silver’s kind efforts, their operations in the Colorful Food District will probably be fine. They might need some more time to pay off the girls now, but it had always been a time-consuming process regardless.
As for the Adventurers’ Guild, the one in Beilanea is never the only one. The world is a large place, and within it, countless Guilds exists.
So that’s why… So that’s exactly why, just as Ryan had told me back then… I have my own goals in life, and I’m meant to make my agenda and knowledge be known to the world… I just can’t avoid putting that into action, can I?
It would be another story if I had been told to do it, but I think it’s just my hubris making me think that to be the case. And, yeah, I guess it might have been better if I did more.
It might have been better if I had made magecraft public knowledge. No – if the Divine Messenger hadn’t appeared before me, I probably would have done that. Because of His revelation, I had found myself closer to the true form of the Nation and had felt the obligation to do something about it. However, I’m still far from powerful enough to do anything.
In which case-
“Heh, looks like you’ve made up your mind.”
“My Master is very understanding when it counts, sir!”
“Nuhuhu, and of course, I’ll be right behind you~~”
“Yes, I’m… I’m leaving this town. I’m moving away from Beilanea.”