“-ah… Sir Asley? You have returned?”
Haruhana, drowsy from her sudden wake, rubbed her eyes as she spoke.
Maybe it was my imagination, but her voice also seemed to have matured slightly.
“Yeah. I’ll have to leave soon, but I wanted to pay a visit here first.”
“Is that so…”
“Dude, you just got here, and you’re leaving again already!?”
Once again, Lina’s face clouded up slightly. I never thought that the idea Pochi had brought up on the way here would come in handy now.
“Sorry, but that’s how it is. Oh – I’ll set a Spell Circle here as a transfer point, so I’ll still drop by this place while I’m working.”
“Oh, that’s fine then.”
“What is it, Pochi?”
“You’ve kept Miss Irene hanging long enough, don’t you think? Just look at how she’s glaring at you.”
“Now, Sir Asley, please do explain the secret of your magic!”
Ah, yes, as eager to learn as I would expect from the one with a nickname as impressive as the ‘Silent Witch’.
Surely she’d attained all the suitable knowledge over the past two years, but I could see that she was still quite eager to get ahead of the game.
Not to mention that she’d also been working as the Student Council President. Surely her abilities were the real deal.
“Ahem… Well, Split Invocation isn’t quite what its name implies, you see – it doesn’t really involve casting multiple instances of the same spell simultaneously.”
“A ‘split’… you’re saying there’s a unique mechanism to it?”
Irene is looking at me with the analytical eyes of the Six Archmages. I hate it when she does that.
“Just as Miss Irene said, there is a cool-down time to use the same spell again, but this method modifies the equation so that it becomes ‘a Recover spell that can be used six times’ instead.”
“A six-charge Recover? That’s impossible. If it’s not a fixed-position type, the Spell Circle won’t have enough capacity to contain all the information needed. And in the first place, magic formulas don’t work that way-“
“Actually, it is entirely possible.”
I stood up and walked a little away from everyone’s seats.
This time I used Cure, a simpler spell compared to the previous, to demonstrate the same method.
“Cure Count 6 & Remote Control.”
As Irene grumbled so, six Spell Circles rose up in a wave before her eyes, then each flew toward her, Lina, Bruce, Blazer, Betty, and Haruhana.
Light briefly wrapped around everyone’s bodies, and once it faded way, Lina cast her eyes down and let herself be lost in serious thought.
“You got the gist of it, Lina?”
Lina did not answer, as she was probably occupied with replaying that scene again and again in her head.
Irene also pondered things over while holding her chin with her hand.
Its mechanisms were simple enough, so I’d thought they’d quickly figure it out… C’mon people.
“It’s the movement of your fingers.”
“They all moved differently.”
“Yeah. Looked creepy, squiggling ’round like that.”
The ones who responded first were Betty, Blazer, and Bruce.
Perhaps this had to do with the warriors possessing dynamic vision. Especially since it had taken me several months to realize how it worked…
Upon hearing those reactions, Irene turned to glare at me, seeming as if she’d realized something so obvious. She then proceeded to draw some Circles with her fingers.
Hey hey, don’t tell me she’s already…!?
“…Hngh – Cure & Remote Control.”
Damn… the talent of the Six Archmages is at work again. How vexing.
“This is quite difficult. But does this look right?”
“Yes, it does.”
“But wasn’t that just two spells? Isn’t it supposed to be six?”
“He meant I’m using the right method. I can’t use that exact spell since I don’t know its formula, but I was able to use two fingers to invoke two different spells. Get this – Asley used one hand to invoke the Remote Control, and the other for six Cure spells, with the five fingers drawing one Spell Circle each… You’re going to need some weird intensive training to pull that off, though.”
“It’s fair to say that Sir Tūs is the awesome one, not my Master, yes?”
Oh, my former Familiar, never missing the chance to instantly temper Lina’s admiration toward my showcases.
“Tūs… I might’ve heard that name from somewhere – well, whatever. Since the number of your spells didn’t match with the number of fingers, you also used a spell to control the number of activations on one of those five, right?”
“Yes – I knew you’d notice. One of those five spells was still Cure, of course, but with the added effects of a spell that controls the number of its activations, a spell that stabilizes the arcane energy supply, a spell that controls the number of activations of the stabilizer, and lastly, the Absorb Arane Energy magecraft to forcibly pull my energy to supply all those spells.”
“Why was there no spell to control the number of activations of that magecraft, then?”
“The magecraft itself was embedded with a scope-defining magic formula beforehand.”
“…So that’s what it is… I can see just from your body how hellish your training was, but it’s still scary to think about how you practiced those crazy finger maneuvers.”
Bruce laughed in response to the statement.
“Did I say something strange?”
Irene asked back – Right, did she really say something strange?
“Apologies, Miss Irene. I just thought how perfectly suitable that ‘training’ was for Asley here.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s so crazy that he’s able to go a few days without food while immersing himself in thinking and research, you see. With the person, he’s hell-bent on surpassing, staying constantly by his side, I’m sure he wouldn’t care about the little things at all.”
“Yes, I remember it so well – my Master would scream all sorts of obscenities at Sir Tūs, while he persisted through everything! ‘Muscle brain! Poopyhead!’ and stuff!”
“Uhuhuhu, even kids these days don’t say that anymore, you know?”
Damn you, Pochi. And Betty… she’d been absolutely unaware of this before, but once she knew it, she spoke as if she’d remembered something she’d once known.
“Pochi, even if that was meant to quote Sir Asley, a girl mustn’t speak like that!”
“Ah – you’re right! I must be more careful!”
“So anyway, did you pick up any other tricks?”
“No, it took everything I had just to get stronger, so all I actually learned were the Split Invocation, and then some new spells and magecraft.”
“Still, that movement was incredible. You were almost as fast as Bruce at one point.”
“Hahahaha, I still have a long way to go.”
Hmm. Even with that much training, it still wasn’t enough to catch up to Bruce.
And of course, the speed Blazer referred to was that of Bruce without any support magic effect.
Although that hadn’t been the full extent of my power either, I reckon it would still be difficult for me to go head-to-head against an S-ranked warrior.
“It was astounding, man. Never seen a mage move that fast before. You think you can take on SS-ranked monsters with that Split Invocation thing? Should be easy to shoot down with that speed, right?”
“Well, I did try it once, but it took me everything to deal with just an S-ranked one. But if I’m paired with Pochi, we might just manage it… yeah?”
“Ha ha hah!! You already did that too? Must’ve been a wild ride, these past two years!”
“Oh, you have no idea how much of a trouble that was! I held you on your neck with my mouth as we ran like hell from that SS-ranked Chaos Lizard!”
“What!? You were almost toast back there, so I bailed you out! Did you forget that!?”
“What!? Before that happened, you tripped and fell, so I had to help you up! Did you forget that!?”
Oh crap, I forgot that.
“Well, you two did go through many battles and endless training, right?”
“And why are you roping me in with him!? I’m still not done talking-“
“He~y! One Jewel Apple Pie, coming right up~~♪!”
“Ooh, so tasty~~!”
Duncan hasn’t even put it on the table, doggo.
“A-anyway, Professor Irene, we ought to get back to what you just talked about-“
“What the-!? You three, what happened to your faces!?”
Hornel, Idéa, and Midors suddenly appeared with their faces totally swollen up, confusing Irene so much that she didn’t even know how to react.
So this is what the Red Duncan is capable of, eh?
Up close, briefly before he walked away, I could see that Duncan’s eyelashes had notably grown quite thick over the years.
“Ugh, for the love of… You three better remember this and make sure to pay before leaving a restaurant next time, all right?”
The three answered properly even though their mouths couldn’t close all the way – no one knew the right reaction to that either, what with how surreal it looked and sounded.
Pochi seemed scared, too, if that wasn’t obvious enough from her instantly taking MY wallet from MY purse and going up to pay for my drink.
“All right, since everyone’s here now… We ought to get into your topic, Miss Irene.”
“I’m particularly curious of Maüs’ last words – Ishtar of the Black? Is that a name we’re supposed to be familiar with?”
Irene said nothing and merely nodded in response to Blazer’s question.
Irene proceeded to explain, lowering her voice out of concern of it being an unknown name due to the strict regulation of information. All three of The Silver leaned their ears in.
“-and that’s what it’s about.”
“I see… so Ishtar’s ‘of the Black’ refers to the Black and White Chain…”
(Xemul: FYI – By this, they refer to Ishtar and Lloyd, the heads of chains)
“So, Miss Irene, what did you mean by it not being ‘inconceivable for the Black Faction to do such a thing’?”
“The Black Faction’s activities are looking suspicious as of late, you see. You know there’s talk about Gaston taking down an S-ranked monster, right?”
“Yes, I’ve heard.”
Irene nodded once, looking unusually mellow as she proceeded with the story.
“Apparently, that was an order from Ishtar. Yeah, ordered to do that at this busy time of the year, when the Magic Guardians would be too occupied to mobilize for side jobs. That’s like telling him to go by himself. Chances are, Ishar saw Gaston as a threat that is too powerful to dispose of directly.”
Lina seemed quite worried for Gaston, as apparent from her gripping her fists tightly.
Hmm, perhaps we’ve all gotten close to Gaston before any of us realized?
Ever since the Teleportation spell had seen more widespread use, it was much easier for him to come to and go from Beilanea, so that might have played into his popularity with the masses… that, and he turned out to actually be quite the kind-hearted old man, so pretty much anyone would be fond of him, Lina included.
“Well, thanks to him coming back alive from that, Gaston’s gotten a ton more public recognition, so that ended in his favor.”
“So, Miss Irene, how is all that connected to Maüs?”
“I don’t really know that much yet, but according to some of the University staff, the Black Faction has gotten a sharp increase of new members. Chances are those bandits were included in that, too.”
“Oh-ho, does that mean Blazer is also a bandit? Hahahaha!”
“You entered the Black Faction, Blazer?”
Blazer shook his head in response to my question.
“Rather than factions… it was an invitation into the ranks of the Six Braves.”
Whoa, that’s amazing.
“Wait, weren’t the members of the Duodecad Conference chosen from the Universities’ alumni?”
(Xemul: FYI – Duodecad Conference – A Conference of the Twelve, is a collective name of 6 Archmages and 6 Braves)
In this case, I had the same question as Pochi.
No matter how able the one in question was, wouldn’t the Black and White Chain more strongly adhere to their traditions and established routine?
“I went to the University a few days before and fulfilled the graduating qualifications in that period, then I got the invitation… that’s pretty much it.”
Aha. Forging a new path to proceed the plan with, and then announcing the technical truth to the people.
Totally what the Nation would consider doing.
“But of course, I declined it.”
“Huh… Wait, since you were invited into the Six Braces, wouldn’t that mean a seat was recently freed up?”
“One of the Six Braves, Jennifer the Bone Fist, was ousted due to her rising up in a rebellion.”
Hornel, now fully recovered from his wounds, answered me.
Jennifer the Bone Fist. A martial artist who had entered the ranks of the Six Braves at a remarkably young age, if I remember correctly… Now, did that mean her contract with the Black and White Chain did not take effect?
I wouldn’t expect the organization itself to be betrayed so easily…
Maybe she was colluding with someone on the outside? But then, who would that be?
At any rate, nothing discussed here changed the fact that the Nation had its hands full with everything. Melchi making her move around this time probably was the right course of action.
“Now, we’ll discuss that topic in detail at a later time. I want to get the Asley welcome-back party going already, you know… is the food not served yet?”
Betty turned to look at Duncan, but instead, she saw Pochi sitting on the counter – God knows when she even got there – with an inflated stomach.
Countless eaten-up plates and bowls piled up to her side, which Duncan was busy gathering up and sending back to the kitchen.
Whoa, whoa, don’t tell me… she just ate everything?
Pochi, now realizing that everyone was staring at her, produced quite an awkward expression.
“E-everything has already been paid for, I assure you all! Burp-“
Ahh, totally what Pochi would consider doing.