Chapter 2 – What People Look For in a Hero
“Damn you… Hiroshi…”
Yasuo was in the middle of taking his English Reading make-up test in the reception area in a corner of the staff room at school, and silently cursed Hiroshi, the high schooler in the speech who he was not sure really existed.
Thanks to the fact that he had learned the contents of Hiroshi’s speech perfectly, Yasuo was able to easily answer even the new questions that showed up on the test.
The time limit for the exam was fifty minutes, the same as the original test, but Yasuo still had some time left even after answering all the questions and reviewing them, so he leaned back into the slightly threadbare sofa and let out a large breath.
At this rate, it looked like there would be no major problems with the Classical Literature make-up test either.
That just left the essay for Social Studies, but he had no choice but to fumble his way through this one while looking at reference books and other data.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been to the club room, maybe I’ll stop by on the way back.”
His Classical Literature test would be held three days from now, depending on his teacher’s availability.
Yasuo, who should have originally cleared this test back during the midterm exams, looked down at his right hand.
Yesterday, Yasuo found out about an important truth related to Diana which he should have found out about much earlier, and he was now standing at a crossroads.
“Allow me to speak frankly. The governing body of Resteria understands all the details about the man called William and the circumstances of the Kenzaki family, which were contained in Major Krone’s report. However.”
The new Magitech Knight from Resteria, Colonel Khalija Welleger, looked directly at Yasuo through the gentle steam rising from her tea cup.
“The idea of sending your esteemed son, Yasuo, is not welcome.”
Diana raised her voice in surprise, but Khalija, a person who had earned the rank of Colonel in the military, had a look in her eyes that did not allow Diana to say another word.
“Well, I guess that’s obvious.”
On the other hand, Hideo didn’t look surprised at all as he nodded.
“This may sound harsh, but if the situation was at the level where it could be settled by the 『Second Generation』, Diana-chan probably wouldn’t have come here in the first place.”
After hearing that, Diana let out a groan as though she understood her own position for the first time.
“It’s just as you said. What Resteria wants is Hideo the Hero, himself. To clarify, Resteria is looking for 『The Second Coming of a Legendary Being』, not a successor to inherit the legend.”
Khalija didn’t even glance at Diana, who was standing at attention next to her.
Khalija’s words may have sounded harsh, but Diana was also the daughter of heroes who had saved the world.
Also, unlike Yasuo, she had undergone several years of training as a Magitech Knight, so her skills were unquestionable. It would have been far easier to present her as a Hero compared to Yasuo.
However, the mission she was given was not to find a successor to the legend, but to act as an envoy to bring back the legend himself.
“Major Krone is an excellent Magitech Knight, but as she has lived her entire life in Resteria, she does not evoke any feelings of awe from the populace. While she’s a highly skilled warrior, she cannot become something more than that, a symbolic existence.”
She has the strength, but not the charisma.
That was Khalija’s current assessment of Diana, and the people of Resteria probably felt the same way as well.
“What’s more, she had been assigned as a surveying officer to the campaign during which General Alexei was killed in action. Even though that was a time when the countermeasures against the Shii were not yet known, it is a fact that she could do nothing to prevent the death of her father who was a comrade of the Legendary Hero. While that may evoke feelings of pity and compassion, it is of no use to raise the fighting spirit of the people.”
“Umm, don’t you think that’s going a bit too far…”
Basically, Khalija was saying that Diana was completely useless in the battle where her father died, and what’s more, the whole world also saw her that way.
Yasuo tried to protest against those words that were far too cruel to Diana, but Khalija easily rejected his shallow protest.
“Yasuo Kenzaki. As a person who volunteered to become a Hero and replace your father, you must also face this reality. To the commoners and the young knights, the existence of 『Hideo the Hero』 is close to that of 『God』.”
“God? You can’t be serious…”
“That’s how legends work. Just how much embellishment do you think was added on to his name and his legend in thirty years? You don’t need to live up to all the embellishments, but if you don’t at least possess the level of ability he had according to the country’s official records, there will be people who become disillusioned and they will easily become your enemies.”
Khalija’s explanation was now more similar to a lecture on Social Science rather than a critique of the details pertaining to Hideo the Hero.
“Just out of curiosity, just how far have these embellishments gone?”
Seeing that Yasuo and Diana had gone silent with pale faces, Hideo asked that question.
“Let’s see. For example, the Legend of the Holy Sword Liutberga is particularly remarkable.”
“Legend of the Holy Sword, huh? I see.”
“If we were to collect and unify all the 『Fragments of the Holy Sword』 that are in the possession of rulers and churches around the world, it is estimated that the length of the resulting blade would be somewhere in the range of twenty meters.”
“…….That’s more ordinary than I thought. Although any parts of Liutberga that are chipped off or broken will just disappear.”
Hideo smiled bitterly upon hearing that, but even he could not avoid widening his eyes in astonishment at the next example.
“Also, there’s a river called 『The Hideo Holy Sword River』 in the current Gaz Commonwealth.”
“Wait, hang on, what kind of name is that?”
“Didn’t anyone object to giving it such a stupid name?”
Even Nodoka, who had stayed silent up to this point, was amazed.
“There’s a rumor in the Gaz Commonwealth that during the defensive battle to protect the refugees, a single swing of Liutberga created the river and protected the people from the attacking hordes of the Demon King Army…”
“So it’s from back then!? It was the demons’ magic that triggered a flash flood of the valley, I wasn’t the one who changed the terrain!!”
“Regardless of what really happened, a river was created there after a battle in which Hideo the Hero participated. A church was constructed on the riverbank, and the water of that river is considered holy and is highly prized. Another famous anecdote is regarding the battle to capture the Ancient Clock Tower in the Baskelgarde Federation.”
“I have a bad feeling about this, but are you referring to that ancient clock tower? The one which was supposed to have a sealed magic that would allow a person to see the future, but just ended up having a calendar created by people who lived there in ancient times based on the movement of the stars…”
“It has become a story of how Hideo used the the magic of the clock tower and created a new star in the heavens.”
“How does one get from 『Using Magic』 to 『Creating a Star』?”
At this rate, it would not be surprising if all the supernatural occurrences in the world were attributed to Hideo the Hero.
“However, the most talked about story is about the time when you slew an entire troupe of demons under the command of a demon general, right after you first appeared in Resteria. The one where you repulsed an army of a hundred thousand demons all by yourself.”
“No, there were only about thirty thousand. Besides, I ones I defeated didn’t amount to even ten percent of that number.”
Hideo had a faraway look, but Khalija was serious.
“However, the problem is that such tales are believed to be the truth. Even if you return to our world and your achievements now match the actual results from the past, it would be more than enough of an achievement. You may plainly state that you didn’t even defeat ten percent of an army numbering thirty thousand, but everyone who had experienced that battle in the past says that if a person who was capable of such a thing had not appeared, Resteria would have been inevitably destroyed.”
“Ten percent… Three thousand demons…”
Yasuo had only heard about the battle with the demons from Diana and his parents, and he hadn’t even seen one of those creatures called demons so far.
However, he could understand just how ridiculously high a number three thousand was.
Most likely, that battle was the one his father was involved in right after being summoned to Ante Lande, and the one where he had first met Diana’s parents.
Putting it in terms related to his own surroundings, the entire student body of Takeoka High School numbered fewer than seven hundred.
If four times that number were to attack him at once with murderous intent, there was no way that he could repulse them.
The same would be true even if he was armed.
Non-fantasy weapons have limits such as ammunition, durability, and the amount of times they can be used at maximum effect.
It is common knowledge that the number of people who can be killed with a single swing of a Japanese sword is by no means large. Similarly, the more ammunition you carry, the heavier you get and your ability to move is restricted.
The imitation sword that Aoto had bought for his juniors in the Drama Club to use was so heavy that Yasuo couldn’t imagine carrying it into battle with his current level of strength.
On the other hand, the Holy Sword Liutberga was light as a feather, so the strain on the body from swinging it was far lesser when compared to swinging a regular sword made of iron, and his father also had the power to use magic. However, even without considering those advantages, Yasuo wondered if he would have the stamina to defeat three thousand demons in the first place.
The enemy would also be attacking, so it would be necessary to run, dodge, and jump around.
Even if you consider the extreme case where the weapon weighed nothing and every successful hit would definitely kill an enemy, you would still need to swing the sword a minimum of three thousand times while shuttle running.
It is possible for a boxer to shadow box while jogging, but that is only possible because they have trained their bodies to the limit.
Throwing three thousand full-power punches while shuttle running.
This was not something normal people could do, and people would not normally try to do something like that either.
Yasuo unconsciously clenched his own fist.
“…….Of course, the Shii are different from Demon King Kaul. Based on the things I’ve said so far, it might sound like I’m being arrogant, but I was also born after the war ended. Like I said, it’s not necessary to replicate the feats described in the stories that the people believe in. However, you are still young. And so is she.”
Khalija looked at Yasuo and Diana.
“Both General Alexei and Hideo the Hero have aged considerably since the war, so the people will accept that they are unable to wield the same level of power that they did back then. However, if you take the place of your father, you must understand that the people will expect you to be just as strong, if not stronger than your father. Do you understand that?”
After Khalija asked that,
“No, I was not aware.”
That was the only response Yasuo could give.
In the first place, Yasuo had not even been able to satisfactorily perform his duties as a student. There was no way that he was prepared to become strong enough to carry the hopes of an entire nation after just a year of training.
“It is good that you are honest. Besides, there are still some strong voices in Resteria that are opposed to soliciting the services of Hideo the Hero. If I had to make my position clear, even I am against it.”
“Huh!? What’s with that attitude!?”
Nodoka raised her anger at this seemingly thoughtless statement, but Hideo restrained her.
“That’s only natural, seeing as the situation right now is still nowhere near as tragic as it was during the war against Kaul. There will be some people who want to rely on others to resolve the issue before things pass the point of no return, but there will also be people who want to resolve the issue by themselves while it’s still not too late. Looking at it from the viewpoint of the Knights, it’s like they are being told that the people have no faith in them, after all.”
Hideo said that to calm Nodoka down as much as to show that he understood what Khalija was getting at.
“Well, I understand that… but hearing her say that after all the trouble they’ve caused…”
Nodoka backed down, but it was clear to see that she was not happy about it.
“Thank you for understanding.”
“Also, if you intend to push forward, you should be prepared to face such strong opposition.”
Yasuo understood that those words were directed at him.
He would be compared against the Hero of Salvation, Hideo. And also the combined might of Resteria’s Knights.
After using a ridiculous amount of money from the national budget to operate the Gate Tower, if the person who arrived was a kid who failed his tests and could not even complete the Foundations of Sorcery training properly, it might very well spark off a coup d’état.
Yasuo felt his heart grow heavy at the thought that not only had his thinking been shallow; he had barely even scratched the surface.
Ante Lande was not some ideal world where the people would be willing to accept everything about him. It was a world that was home to a large number of people with different thoughts, a place with established human societies.
As long as there were different human societies, there was not even a one in a million chance that everyone would be willing to help him.
After seeing Yasuo’s expression darken from the corner of her eyes, Khalija spoke as if she remembered something.
“By the way, I haven’t explained why I came to Japan.”
“Ah, that’s right.”
“My mission is to act as an assistant to Major Krone and help protect the people of the Kenzaki family.”
The person who was most surprised by this statement was Diana.
“W-What do you mean, you’ll be acting as my assistant, Colonel? Besides, you just said that you were against soliciting Hideo’s services…”
“My private feelings and my orders from the King are different.”
However, Khalija lightly sidestepped Diana’s question and looked at Yasuo.
“The reason for the appearance of the man called William Bareig and the Shii in Japan is currently under investigation by the Magitech Knights in charge of the Gate Tower, under the directions of Her Excellency, Erijina. However, ensuring the safety of the Kenzaki family is of the highest priority. I apologize for the delay in coming here even after receiving Major Krone’s report, but even without being aware of the circumstances, I have seen that there are incidents like the one earlier, caused due to the appearance of the Shii. I will be joining the mission to protect the Kenzaki family from today.”
“I’m sorry if this sounds skeptical, but how strong are you at fighting? Back when I was in Resteria, I saw that the higher-ranking officers of the Knights were more like bureaucrats than warriors. Not to be rude, but you look fairly young as well.”
Yasuo broke into a sweat seeing his father stating his doubts about Khalija’s abilities to her face, but she nodded as if it was only natural.
“Your suspicion is warranted. There’s no point in stating my ability through words, but I can’t very well cross swords with you either. Were my actions during the fight with the Shii earlier not a sufficient display of my ability?”
It was true that Khalija had demonstrated a superhuman level of combat ability, different from Diana’s, during the fight with the small Shii earlier.
“Umm… Sorry to intrude on your conversation, but…”
Diana spoke up hesitantly.
“Colonel Welleger is the very embodiment of the Knights’ 『Elite』. She enlisted at the age of fifteen and showed a level of ability that made her stand out right away, and was designated a Technical Lieutenant at the age of sixteen after submitting a treatise on combat techniques and Techno Weapons. She has performed many great deeds in the battle against the Shii after my father passed away, and…”
Diana said that in a very timid manner.
“As a Magitech Knight, she stands one or two levels over the rest of us who are of the same age group, and is also an object of our aspirations.”
Khalija, who had looked stern until that point, averted her eyes as if she was feeling awkward after hearing that.
“…Major Krone. From the viewpoint of the Kenzaki family, the two of us are members of the same organization. It’s hardly convincing even if a colleague says such grandiose things about me. Saying things like that is, umm, troubling for me.”
Her cheeks were slightly red, was she perhaps feeling bashful?
“Well, I guess it should be fine if Diana-chan says that much. Now, about you joining the guard mission…”
Khalija gave a small cough and recovered her poise.
“I’ve heard that the plan is to protect Yasuo and Nodoka from any attacks by the Shii during their daily lives. With me joining the guard detail, we will be able to reduce the burden on Madoka and Major Krone, and if possible, I also plan to look into the details about the man called William and the appearance of the Shii.”
“I see. Where do you plan to stay during this time?”
“I heard earlier that Major Krone has acquired lodgings in a housing complex nearby. If the Major finds it agreeable, I would like to stay there with her and share a part of the burden as well.”
“I have no problem with that at all… but if I remember correctly, the rental agreement was only for a single occupant, will that cause any problems?”
That last question was aimed at Hideo, and he nodded after thinking about it a little.
“Well, I’ll make sure to check with the agency just in case, but I don’t think it should be a problem as both of you are girls. There weren’t any other people interested in renting the apartment anyways, so I don’t think they’ll be so strict.”
“Thank you. Sorry about this, Major Krone. It feels like I’m causing trouble for you on top of arriving late.”
“No, not at all…”
“Well, it looks like things have worked out, timing-wise. I’m simply thankful that the number of guards has increased. We will be counting on you for some time to come.”
There was no reason for Diana or the other members of the Kenzaki family to object once she obtained Hideo’s approval.
Khalija stood up and gave a Resteria-style salute to the legendary Hero.
“Sorry to ask this at such a late hour, but Yasuo, can I have some of your time right now?”
“I’ve heard that Major Krone has been giving you Magitech Knight training. I would like to take a look at your aptitude.”
Diana and Yasuo both froze at that instant.
“Umm… Right now?”
It was already past ten pm. However, Khalija was not hesitant in the slightest.
“Of course. I will need to adjust the guard plan based on your aptitude and ability. I might be guarding you, but it would be pointless if I got in the way of your daily life. If there are areas that you are able to handle by yourself, there is nothing wrong with using that.”
Yasuo understood what she was trying to say, but he was too scared to turn around and face his family.
That was because his actions were what caused Diana to “acquire lodgings in a housing complex nearby” in the first place.
Yasuo couldn’t tell if she had noticed his frozen expression, but she gave him a large smile.
“I’ve heard that you only recently found out about your parents’ past, but you are still the son of Hideo the Hero, and The Rainbow Sage, Madoka. I have great expectations for your talent.”
It was obvious that she didn’t really think that, but she still said that slowly as if trying to imply something.
Yasuo found out the reason behind it about ten minutes later.
“…….This is terrible.”
Astounded. If he had to describe it in one word, that was the word he would use.
Yasuo was collapsed in front of Khalija, in a state of complete exhaustion.
Beside him was Diana, with her shoulders slumped as though she was the one who was being reprimanded.
They were in the backyard of the Kenzaki house, and Khalija had given him some tasks to check his aptitude for basic-level sorcery, but Yasuo hadn’t been able to complete even a single one. He had not even completed the foundation level of sorcery yet, so that was only natural.
Perhaps Khalija hadn’t thought that Yasuo would be incapable of doing even this much, her expression gradually hardened.
“Major Krone. Just what have you been doing for the past month?”
“I never imagined for an instant that he would still be stuck at the foundation-level. Where does the root of the problem lie?”
Basically, she was asking if it was a problem with the teacher, or a problem with the student.
“Haah… Haah… Me…”
Yasuo raised his hand while struggling to catch his breath. He could not allow Diana to take the blame for this.
Khalija crossed her arms and nodded as if she understood.
“Do you remember what I said earlier?”
“Haah… Haah… Eh?”
“You are the son of The Hero, Hideo and The Rainbow Sage, Madoka. I said that I had great expectations for you talent, didn’t I? It appears that you have no idea about how big the shoes you were trying to fill are.”
Saying that, Khalija looked at Diana who was cowering next to Yasuo.
“Major Krone has been compared to her parents, the Swordmaster Alexei Krone, and the Great Magician Erijina Radagast all her life. No matter how hard she works to achieve results, people say that it is only natural given her parentage, and if she fails, people will scold her saying she brings shame to her parents. Nobody tries to acknowledge her own power. It is a fact that her current position is due to her parentage, no matter how small the influence may be, and hence it is actually quite unfair to ask strangers to treat her fairly. And since you volunteered to become the new Hero, you would not be compared against General Alexei or Her Excellency, Erijina.”
“The stories of battle are always distorted while they are told, and the achievements of people are gradually exaggerated over time. There are cities, streets, mountains, and rivers named after Hideo all over our world. If the son of such a legendary existence was to appear in such a world, what do you think would happen? If it’s just at the level of disappointing the people, that’s still fine. The way you are now, I don’t think you will be able to do much, even if you focus entirely on training for a year. If someone like that shows up and calls himself the Son of The Hero, the most likely outcome is that you will be treated as an impostor, and might even be charged with trying to mislead the people and summarily executed.”
“We already have no shortage of fools who claim to be relatives of Hideo the Hero and carry out scams and acts of violence. If the country brings forward a person whose identity is suspicious at such a time, that could very well lead to an increase in such crimes.”
Yasuo felt so pathetic that he couldn’t even say anything in return.
He had volunteered to be a Hero who would save the world, why was he being talked about as if he was nothing but a source of inspiration to con-artists?
However, Yasuo understood that this was his current reality, and he had nothing in his arsenal to fight back against her.
Yasuo gritted his teeth in frustration, but what Khalija said next was completely unexpected.
“Still, isn’t it fine for you to be the way you are?”
“As I said earlier, I am personally against the idea of requesting help from the Hero. Major Krone, you weren’t seriously thinking of bringing a man like this to our world either, correct? At this rate, the plan to summon the Hero will be judged to be impractical, and before long, people will reconsider the idea.”
“Also, the fact that you can do nothing makes it more convenient to guard you. I don’t need to worry about the person I’m guarding making any unexpected moves, after all. Making any half-baked moves during combat will just increase the risk, so I would like you to stay the way you are right now, Yasuo.”
She wasn’t holding back at all.
“Do you feel frustrated?”
“……Yes, I do.”
There’s no way anyone would not feel frustrated after having such things said about them.
“However, this is your reality. If you come to Resteria, you will not even be able to remain standing on your feet with your power. A person who cannot remain standing will only die on the battlefield.”
Diana shouted out before she could stop herself, and in the next instant, Khalija’s staff-shaped weapon took the shape of a thin dagger and rushed towards Yasuo’s throat.
“If I just lower my arm a little, you will easily die.”
The killing intent he felt was definitely real.
He understood it precisely because he had already felt the killing intent of William and the Shii. A metaphorical cold hand that was ready to take his life.
Yasuo’s eyes that were opened wide in fear met the gaze of Khalija’s blue eyes that were like the uncharted depths of the ocean. For a moment, he felt like he saw a strange flicker in those eyes.
The next instant, the killing intent and pressure vanished, and Khalija’s face took on a teasing expression.
“That’s a pretty cute expression on your face.”
When he raised his voice, he felt the tip of the dagger prick the skin of his throat.
“It’s the expression of a child who tries their best to act brave when being scolded by an adult.”
“You are not suited to being a Hero.”
Khalija brought her lips closer to him and delivered that ruthless verdict.
“You don’t know what you should be doing, right? Are you unable to back down because of the declaration to made to Major Krone? If that is the case, then be at ease. Saying that you can do something you cannot is the greater sin compared to admitting that you cannot do something that you know you are incapable of. If you abandon the idea of making rash moves during combat and focus on doing things apart from fighting, you might still be useful as a supporter. The requiem you sang earlier to send off the Shii was fine piece of work.”
“But I cannot protect anyone with just that.”
“If you insist on acting tough like a child, forget about other people, you will be unable to protect even yourself and die. Just do the things that you are capable of doing. Hnn.”
Before Yasuo could fully comprehend that Khalija’s face was getting closer, he felt a warm and moist sensation on his neck and let out a scream.
He felt something moist caress the area on his neck where Khalija’s Techno Weapon had grazed him earlier, and felt a slight tingle of pain.
“You were bleeding.”
Seeing Khalija’s charming smile, Yasuo finally understood what had happened, and he felt dizzy as if he had been exposed to a brilliant flash of light.
“What are you getting so excited about over something like this? You’re eighteen-years-old, don’t let out such a silly scream.”
“C-C-C-Colonel, you just l-l-licked Yasuo’s neck…”
“What, you too?”
Seeing Diana’s bright red face, Khalija’s expression changed to one of boredom and she moved her face and Techno Weapon away from Yasuo. After that, she extended a finger towards Yasuo’s neck.
The next moment, a pale light shone from beneath Yasuo’s chin, and after the light went out, he realized that the pain on his neck had also stopped.
“It was still bleeding, so I closed the wound.”
This must be what was known as healing magic.
After touching his neck, he saw a little blood on his fingers but there was no sensation of a wound.
“I will also be protecting you from tomorrow onwards. Let’s get along, Children of Heroes.”
Khalija raised her hand in farewell and left the backyard, and Yasuo, still lying on the ground, and Diana, with her face still red, blankly watched her leave.
“Major Krone. I can’t get into the room without the keys!”
Diana stood up like she had been electrified upon hearing the voice that came from the other side of the fence.
“Y-Yes! Well then, I will be taking my leave now, Yasuo. Umm, I’ll see you again tomorrow…”
Diana briefly bowed to Yasuo, who was still sitting on the ground, and ran off after Khalija and he watched her leave.
“Once again… A troublesome person has arrived…”
Yasuo sat there with his hands over his eyes, looking like he was releasing all his resentment into the night sky. He was unable to stand up for quite a while after that.
Yasuo received a score of 95 on his make-up test for English Reading, and successfully managed to clear the first hurdle. He was currently in the First Music Room of the old school building of Takeoka High School, which was illuminated by the light from the setting sun.
This room was supposed to be off-limits to him since the Choral Club had been shut down, but strangely enough, there was a key to this room that the school did not know about, which had been passed down from seniors to their juniors in the club for many generations.
Yasuo had also received the key from a senior one year older than him. He had copies of the key made at a locksmith’s shop and carried one of them on his keyring.
It was still a music room belonging to the school, and he was supposed to get permission from the teachers before using it. However, there was nothing of value in this room, so that rule was in name only.
On the other hand, Yasuo could not use the room when the Chamber Music Group or Light Music Group had their practice sessions here, but since their practice schedule had basically stayed the same since the times the Choral Club was active, Yasuo’s forays into the club room were hardly ever interrupted.
And so, Yasuo stood alone in the middle of the room as he had done several times before and took a deep breath. He put his palms together, focused on his breathing and the power that flowed through his body, and then passed the magical energy between his palms without moving his body.
A small point of light, the size of the tip of his little finger, illuminated his palms as it passed between his hands that were held apart at a distance the size of a rugby ball. Even doing only this much gradually caused Yasuo’s breathing to become ragged.
And soon, before even ten minutes had passed,
Yasuo was not able to endure it anymore and broke his stance. The light dispersed and Yasuo’s forehead was beaded with sweat.
“It’s no good. I only went without doing this for three or four days and I’ve already lost the knack.”
It may have just looked like he was moving a firefly-sized amount of light between his palms, but in reality, the stress on his body was equivalent to holding up a ten kilogram weight in each hand.
“Aah, my wrists.”
Even the fatigue he felt afterwards was exactly the same as working out with dumbbells.
It had been four days since Diana had heard about his make-up tests and put his sorcery training on hold. Today’s foundation-level practice was his first in four days, the first since the day Diana had moved into the Marigold Tokorozawa Apartment, and this was the result.
At this rate…
“That’s why I told you to focus on doing what you can do. Do not attempt things that you are incapable of.”
Yasuo jumped at hearing the voice of someone apart from himself in the room all of a sudden.
He quickly looked around to see where the voice came from, and saw that Khalija was looking into the room from outside the window, of all places. The problem was that this room was on the fourth floor, the uppermost floor of the old school building, and there was no balcony or any sort of place to stand outside the window.
“W-What do you think you’re doing? What if someone outside the building sees you!?”
“I could ask you the same question. Practising foundation-level sorcery in an enclosed space like this, what if you lose control? I sensed that you suddenly started raising the level of magical energy in your body and rushed over thinking that there was some sort of emergency. I’d appreciate it if you stopped doing things like that… there we go.”
What’s more, Khalija entered the room through the window and Yasuo was stunned upon seeing what she was wearing.
Khalija was wearing a tracksuit that belonged to Takeoka High School.
Diana also often wore a tracksuit during their Magitech Knight training, was there something about tracksuits that caught their fancy?
At any rate, the school-provided tracksuit definitely looked odd on the silver-haired Khalija, and it wasn’t much of a disguise either.
At the very least, she should remove the circlet that she was wearing on her head. The tracksuits used by the students of Takeoka High School were a subdued blue, and it was the same color for students of all years. Khalija’s looks were already very striking, wearing a glittering, black circlet with an orange jewel embedded in it made Yasuo seriously question if she had any intention of disguising herself in the first place.
“…By the way, where did you get that tracksuit? Did you steal it from someone?”
Hearing that, Khalija replied without any trace of guilt on her face.
“I thought that the Magitech Knight uniform would stand out too much, so when I asked Nodoka, she let me borrow this saying that it was used by students of this school. I slept in Major Krone’s room last night, but I failed to consider the matter of clothing.”
“Wait, so that’s mine? That idiot Nodoka, doing whatever she wants! Why didn’t you just borrow some clothing from Diana!?”
“It couldn’t be helped. I can’t very well steal something from strangers who know nothing about our situation, and I can just wash these clothes and return them to you later. Also, Major Krone’s sizes are different from mine in many ways and I can’t use her clothing. My apologies.”
In spite of her apology, Yasuo could see from her expression that she didn’t particularly feel bad about it.
Even last night, she sounded like she was talking about serious things but ended up just teasing him. She acted like a perfect soldier in front of his father, so he had no idea what to make of her current attitude.
Was she putting on an act for Hideo the Hero? Or was she just taking Yasuo lightly because he was unskilled and younger than her? Judging from what Diana said about Khalija’s military experience yesterday, Yasuo couldn’t help but think that it was the latter.
After thinking about that, Yasuo suddenly remembered what she had done to his neck the previous night and he felt his cheeks grow warm. He hurriedly put some distance between them to get away from Khalija’s teasing face.
“E-Even so, please don’t use my school clothes! I might need them as well.”
“I will acquire some inconspicuous clothing when I have some free time. Please put up with it for the time being. I’ll make sure to wash them properly before returning them… Or maybe you’d prefer it if I didn’t wash them?”
Even Yasuo was capable of calmly dealing with someone who spoke so frankly.
“Please wash, dry, and iron them before returning them. Also, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re fairly conspicuous, Khalija-san, so please think over the guard plan a little more carefully.”
Seeing that Yasuo had calmed down, Khalija just said “Boring,” and finally dropped her teasing expression.
“If you’re saying that I should stop guarding you from a close distance, then that is rejected. There’s no assurance that the Shii that escaped yesterday won’t attack you again today. Major Krone should also be staying close to Nodoka today. You will be going to some place called a prep school after this without returning home, correct? According to the schedule that I received in advance, you are already thirty minutes late in leaving here. Please keep unexpected activities to a minimum.”
Although her words were exaggerated, Khalija’s expression was serious.
“In the military, deviating from the schedule for no good reason is grounds for severe punishment. If you come to Resteria as the Hero, you will undoubtedly be assigned to the Knights Division. If that happens, you won’t get away with such a light rebuke.”
Saying that, Khalija looked at the clock that was mounted on a wall.
“It’s time to move. Madoka has asked me to use something called a taxi on the way back. Understood?”
“Yes, that’s fine… Say, Khalija-san, I have a question for you. Also, please don’t walk inside the school looking like that. At the very least, leave the way you came and try not to let anyone see you.”
Yasuo stopped Khalija who was about to calmly head into the school corridors while dressed in a tracksuit that made her stand out, and then asked her a question.
“The military rank of 『Major』… How hard is it to reach that?”
Khalija thought about the meaning of that question for a little while, and then suddenly gave him one of her inscrutable smiles and came closer to him.
“You’re not interested in knowing about 『Colonel』? If you’d like, we can go to some quiet place where nobody will disturb us and I can give you a detailed explanation.”
“No, I’m not interested, thank you.”
Khalija looked a little unhappy upon seeing Yasuo reject her idea while sighing deeply, as if he found her truly annoying.
“Despite being a naive kid, you’re no fun at all. I’ve heard that your father was also quite straight-laced in his youth despite looking frivolous, maybe that’s the only thing you’ve inherited from him?”
“That sounds very interesting, but for now, I would appreciate it if you answered my question.”
“Well, that’s fine. But you should know, I’m not saying things like that just to tease you. If you want to become a Hero, you should get used to things like that quickly.”
Yasuo felt astounded as Khalija had pretty much said that she liked to tease him, however Khalija obediently stopped trying to leave the room through the door and went towards the window instead.
“The title of 『Hero』 is unimaginably heavy, in more ways than one. I’ll tell you what that means, as well as many other things which Dianaze Krone, that pure girl who is even more naive than you, has probably not talked about. Let’s meet in front of the main gate in ten minutes. Don’t be late.”
Khalija’s mood now was a complete change from her teasing attitude earlier, and Yasuo agreed right away.
Yasuo carefully hurried out of the school while making sure that he didn’t catch the attention of his friends or classmates. By the time he reached the main gates, he saw that a taxi was already waiting outside the gate and Khalija was waiting next to it in an imposing pose.
“You’re late. It’s one minute over the agreed time.”
“I-I’m sorry. It took some time to make sure that I wasn’t seen leaving…”
“That’s well and good, but pointless because someone already saw you.”
Yasuo looked back to see what Khalija was looking at.
“Ah, Yasu. Are you done with your make-up test? Leaving already? Want to go to the station together?”
By some freak coincidence, Aioi Aoto was walking towards him while dragging a trunk packed full of Theatre Club props.
“Hmm? A taxi? …Who’s that?”
Of course, he saw the taxi, and Khalija wearing the tracksuit with the name “Kenzaki” stitched on it.
“Uh, this is…”
“Are you one of his classmates? I’m sorry, but he has a prior engagement with me today. Please ask him again from tomorrow onwards, if you have the time.”
Saying that, Khalija wrapped her arms around Yasuo’s arm, fully aware of the fact that Aoto was looking at them.
Yasuo panicked when he felt a sensation on his arm that must not be felt, and tried to pull away. However, he could not break Khalija’s grip even though she didn’t look like she was putting any strength into it.
Yasuo could not go against Khalija as the difference in his strength from a Magitech Knight was made apparent at even a time like this.
“Time to go, Yasuo.”
“Eh? Prior engagement? What? Eh?”
“Ah, sorry, Aoto. Today is…”
Even Yasuo didn’t know how to complete that sentence, but in any case, Yasuo was dragged into the taxi after only being able to say something vague to Aoto.
“Well then, we should be going…. Take us to the Western Exit of the Tokorozawa Station, please.”
After saying some unnecessary parting words to Aoto, Khalija spoke to the taxi driver as if she was used to it.
“…Please let go. I need to fasten my seatbelt.”
“What, are you embarrassed?”
Freed from Khalija’s grip, Yasuo turned around inside the moving taxi and saw the figure of Aoto getting smaller as they left him behind, looking towards them with a dumbfounded expression.
Yasuo hung his head while feeling a sense of despair, but he heard Khalija say something unexpected beside him.
“You’re probably blaming me for doing something so conspicuous.”
“I did that on purpose. Right now, I need to be vigilant when you are approached by people, no matter who they may be. No, it’s not just you. The same holds true for Nodoka as well.”
“……What do you mean?”
Yasuo guardedly asked her that, and Khalija looked at the view outside her window after glancing at Yasuo once.
“This is also related to how difficult it was for Dianaze Krone to achieve the rank of Major.”
“Putting it this way might sound rude, but neither your parents nor the rest of your family live in a particularly special environment in this world, correct? ”
“Well, that’s true. To be frank, there must be a ton of similar families living all over Japan.”
The husband is a salaryman, and his wife is a housewife. Their son is in high school, and their daughter is in middle school.
Looking at their life in the past, they were a completely unremarkable family.
“But General Alexei and Her Excellency, Erijina, couldn’t live that kind of life. They were both from distinguished families, and were leaders of the country. What’s more, they were Heroes on par with Hideo, and their names were known throughout the world. Also, they had a single child, the beautiful Major Krone, no, Dianaze. What do you think? Can you imagine what kind of things she had to put up with, just because of this?”
Yasuo used his meager imagination to the fullest, and stated the answer that he arrived at.
“Jealousy, resentment… And maybe receiving marriage proposals for political reasons?”
“Exactly. I heard that it was quite terrible.”
Anyone who married the one and only daughter of the Heroes would become the center of gossip in the public eye.
“This is just a rumor, but I heard that she had nearly a hundred suitors as soon as she reached the age of twelve.”
“A hundred suitors at the age of twelve!?”
This statement caused Yasuo to doubt his hearing.
What kind of people would propose marriage to a girl who is only twelve years old?
“Of course, most of them were men she had never met before. As a woman, even thinking about that makes me feel disgusted.”
Khalija spat out those words while looking seriously disgusted.
“Of course, her parents threw such proposals straight into the fireplace, keeping only the name of the sender so that they could send a letter of rejection. From the perspective of their national interests, there would be major international problems if their only daughter ended up being married to nobility or royalty from a different country, so the applicants were selected very carefully. Even with that, there were still a hundred people. I feel like telling those people to at least try and hide their intentions a little.”
Receiving marriage proposals from people she had never seen, even as a child, Diana had been aware from the beginning that people had been only interested in her background and not herself.
“Unlike Japan, Resteria does not have an official age of majority that is determined by the law. However, by custom, the age is set to fifteen years.”
Fifteen years of age is still very early.
Yasuo had heard that the age of attaining manhood was around the same back when the Samurai were in control of the government. He remembered that the essay he had to write for Social Studies in place of taking a make-up test was on the topic of 『Reduction of the Age of Majority』, and he decided to pay close attention as he might be able to use this as a reference.
“By the time Dianaze reached the age of majority, it became nearly impossible to repel the pressure from the people surrounding them. There were many people within the country who came to General Alexei with proposals for a political marriage. And so, she enlisted into the Knights Division almost as if she was desperately running away. ”
“That’s right. If she joined the Knights, she would be a soldier. As soldiers pledge allegiance to their country, for obvious reasons they cannot easily enter into marriage with nobles of foreign countries, at least on paper. By doing that, she made sure that the people who were after her were limited to only those within her own country. Once that was done, as long as her parents were vigilant, she could avoid receiving any more annoying marriage proposals, barring any from people who fell in love with her at first sight.”
“So when you said that Diana received preferential treatment to get promoted, was it to protect her from people like that?”
“No. This is an administrative matter, but in our country a person needs to be a field grade officer or higher in order to use the Gate Tower. Her special promotion was due to the decision to simplify matters by forcefully promoting her, even if it meant twisting the law. She was only a First Lieutenant until three months ago, after all. Her promotions up to that point were due to her own talent and hard work. The combat and magical abilities she inherited from her parents were on a different level compared to the others in her age group. Although she lacks experience, should you only look at her fighting ability she is even comparable to me.”
Khalija had explicitly declared that she was stronger than Diana, but that was not important right now.
“However, if she just wanted to avoid getting married, couldn’t she have just become a nun or something similar?”
“Are you talking about the Church of the Divine King?”
Even though she asked him that, Yasuo had never heard of the religion before. From the way she said it, he assumed it was one of the major religions on their world.
Khalija grimaced and shook her head.
“The Church is a den of wicked people that even makes the Knight Division looks attractive in comparison. The church’s borders are not as strong as that of the country, and if a child from a noble family joined them, it would be obvious to everyone that it’s only temporary measure. It would be like hiding in a cage full of flaws while trying to escape from wolves. There’s no point in doing that at all.”
After hearing that, Yasuo was forced to agree that it made sense.
Yasuo remembered that there were questions on his Classical Literature test about tales written by writers in the Heian Period, about women who had become nuns and yet sang songs of love about how they wanted to return to their lives someday. He remembered wondering if people really took holy vows so irresponsibly.
“The same thing applies to you, as well.”
However, Yasuo was surprised because she suddenly shifted the topic of conversation to him.
“Let’s set aside your actual ability for now. Let’s assume you were taken to Resteria by Major Krone, and were accepted as a Hero by the people. What do you think would happen then?”
“You’re a healthy, eighteen-year-old young man. The son of a Hero who wielded overwhelming strength and saved the world in the past.”
“Eh, don’t tell me…”
“The number of people who would like to get closer to you are probably more numerous than the Shii. Depending on which faction you join, the country might be thrown into chaos. There will be people who will offer you their daughters’ hands in marriage. There might even be good-for-nothing daughters of nobility trying to woo you among that number. There will be rulers who bring you large tributes and petition you to give priority to saving their own populace. Do you think that you will be able to deal with people like that?”
“N-No, but still… Won’t Diana’s mother and the King do something about that?”
“Of course, they will protect you in the beginning. However, His Majesty, Borad IX is very old, and after the death of General Alexei, the workload of Her Excellency, Erijina, has increased greatly. Resteria is currently full of people who are looking askance at the influence of the Krone Family and the life of the King, and it is being wracked by power struggles between people who will resort to any means necessary. It’s basically a warzone. In such a situation, the country still needs to come up with countermeasures against the Shii. Of course, there will be a fair number of people who will be there to help you, but most likely it will be different from your father’s time when they went on a tour of several foreign countries and managed to save the world in the end. With things as they are right now, even if you manage to become as strong as your father, you will just be seen as a 『Weapon』 with the convenient label of 『Hero 』.”
In other words, he would be a tool, used at will and whim by those in power.
“But that’s not all I wanted to say. What I’m going to say now concerns the Shii that appeared the other day, and the reason why I went out of my way to show myself to your classmate.”
“I just explained what would happen to you in Resteria if you went there as you are now. However, this is not restricted to only Resteria.”
“Not restricted to only Resteria…?”
“Don’t you understand? It’s not just Resteria that wants the power of 『The Hero』.”
At that moment, Yasuo suddenly understood what she was trying to say.
Resteria was not the only country in the world of Ante Lande. There were places like the Grand Duchy of Torjesso, which was the first place to be destroyed by the Demon King Kaul, and even yesterday Khalija had mentioned some place called the Gaz Commonwealth.
“During the war with Demon King Kaul, the situation was so dire that Hideo the Hero was welcomed all over the world, and every country supported him during his travels. However, the situation right now is different. Nobody has come up with any permanent solution to the Shii problem yet, but the situation hasn’t deteriorated to the point that it affects the stability of countries. There are also other major world powers with access to their own Gate Towers.”
Yasuo finally understood why Khalija had purposely called attention to herself today.
“So there might be other countries who are targeting Dad, Nodoka, and me?”
“Almost certainly, if they have managed to catch wind of the fact that you intend to become a Hero. No, you should assume that they already know about that.”
Khalija moved her eyes alone and glanced at Yasuo.
“Hideo will certainly side with Resteria, and there are few people idiotic enough to try anything unlawful against such a legendary existence. However, you and Nodoka are different. If they manage to acquire the two of you, they might be able to win an advantageous position among all the nations in Ante Lande. You might be used as leverage against Resteria during negotiations on completely unrelated matters. As the two of you currently have no backing, you have such immense value that any country that manages to gain control of you will be able to completely overturn the current status of the world.”
“S-So you’re saying that other countries might make a move with the intention of kidnapping Nodoka and me?”
“It might not necessarily be kidnapping. There are many ways to bait you. Money, prestige, women, and especially the safety of your city and family, which is of value to you right now, might be used as material for negotiation. Even we are doing the same thing, after all.”
True, there were many areas in which the daily life of the Kenzaki Family was being greatly supported by the Resteria Kingdom.
Also, because of the attack by the Shii the other night, the Kenzaki family could not afford to reject the assistance of Diana and Khalija.
“I think that the man mentioned in Major Krone’s report, William Bareig, is one such person. That might also be the reason why he was after you and Nodoka.”
“You… You really think so?”
Sure, people might think that way if they found out about William’s words and the outcome of the battle from a second hand report.
However, because of his experience, Yasuo could not bring himself to believe that William was human.
It would be difficult to put into words if he was asked to explain why he felt that way. It might have just been the dormant wild genes present in humans since ancient times that made him feel that way, but Khalija would probably not understand it even if he explained that to her now.
It was something similar to the Shii; you would not understand it unless you actually encountered it yourself.
Besides, Yasuo had no basis to say that just because William was not human, he was not related to any nation or organization from Ante Lande.
Khalija continued to speak.
“Because of that, both Major Krone and I have to stand out. We, Resteria, have called dibs on Hideo the Hero and his family. We will not forgive anyone who ignores that and attempts to get close to you. Well, it’s something like that.”
“Eeh… Hey, what are—!”
Before he realized it, Khalija had once again nestled close to Yasuo, causing his blood pressure to rise rapidly, and he tried his best to escape to the corner of the seat.
However, as if to tease Yasuo for his lack of experience, Khalija put her lips close to Yasuo’s ear and breathed out on purpose.
“Even the driver of this taxi might be a person from Ante Lande, you know? Wouldn’t it be a problem if he’s a spy sent here to investigate the lives of you, Nodoka, and Major Krone? That’s why I’m here to protect you like this.”
“Ah, fine! I understand! I understand, so please move away! Aaaah!”
At this rate, he would fail to protect something else. If it was possible, he wanted to escape through the window.
He could feel an unfamiliar sensation against his arm, through the cloth of his own tracksuit.
Perhaps she was satisfied after seeing Yasuo who looked ready to burst into tears, Khalija let out a small laugh and moved away from him as if nothing had happened.
Yasuo took a deep breath to calm his rapidly beating heart and glanced at the driver’s reflection in the rear-view mirror.
The elderly driver showed no signs of having heard any of their conversation, as if he was wearing earplugs, and was driving the car safely. Yasuo actually found it troubling that he did not appear to be paying attention to them at all.
“That’s right, I though of a good idea. There’s a way to minimize the stress caused by all the various problems I just explained to you. Do you want to know how?”
“…You’re going to tell me anyways, right? What is it?”
After silently rebuking her in his heart, Yasuo asked her that, and Khalija raised her finger, looking like she had completely reverted to her teasing mood.
“Things will become so much simpler if you and Major Krone get married. I mean, you’re both the children of Heroes, after all. The eyes of the entire world will be on you, and you will have the overwhelming support of the kingdom and the Krone family, so you won’t have to worry about being taken for a ride by any strange people…”
Yasuo truly wished that he hadn’t heard that.
It looked like even Khalija didn’t expect such a reaction from him, so she wrinkled her eyebrows as if she was dissatisfied.
“Major Krone is a beautiful girl even by the standards of this world, isn’t she? What are you so unhappy about?”
“I’m seriously starting to wonder if you’re really in the same age group as Diana. You completely sound like someone’s aunt! More importantly, please stop saying things like that!”
“How rude. It was a serious idea, you know? Also, what do you mean by ‘things like that?’ What exactly do you want me to stop doing? Hmm?”
Even though you know exactly what I mean!
Yasuo gritted his teeth out of anger and held back that scream.
“What part of that sounds like a serious idea? Why is everyone trying to pair up me and Diana?”
“Uh, it’s nothing, just something on my side… More importantly, what are you trying to do!? You’ve just been saying all these things that make me not want to go to Ante Lande. Aren’t you supposed to be Diana’s assistant, Khalija-san!?”
“As I said earlier, I am against the idea of summoning the Hero to Ante Lande.”
Khalija was enjoying herself seeing Yasuo argue with her with a red face, but she once again glanced out of the window and gave a somewhat lonely laugh.
“You have a point. I don’t want you to become disillusioned with how Ante Lande is right now. The same goes for Hideo the Hero as well.”
“The Ante Lande that your father travelled through and the current Ante Lande are completely different. I don’t see any reason why you should leave this bountiful and peaceful country behind and risk your life to come to our world, but if you do end up going there, I just want to do my best to make sure you don’t have any bad memories. Lately I’ve felt that…”
The view outside the window indicated that Tokorozawa Station was near, and Khalija for some reason whispered only the next words in a quiet voice.
“…the Shii are a punishment from the Gods for forgetting about the calamity caused by the Demon King Kaul and being consumed by fighting amongst ourselves.”
“Right then, it looks like we’ve arrived. Don’t worry, I won’t try to enter such a small building to keep an eye on you.”
“Please spare me.”
After getting down from the taxi, Yasuo looked back at Khalija, who was still sitting inside, and frowned.
“Hoever, like I said earlier, I plan to stay somewhere close. I might end up switching with Major Krone at some point, but you should just assume that one of us is nearby even if you can’t see us. I would also be thankful if you carefully think about those other matters as well.”
“Replying once is enough. Aah, one more thing. Wa… you.”
Khalija made a serious expression and lowered her voice.
However, he wasn’t able to properly hear her over the noises outside and the sound of the engine.
“I said, watch… behind…”
“What is it? I can’t hear you.”
Yasuo furrowed his eyebrows and leaned closer her to her through the open door. Khalija gave a smug smile as if she had achieved something, and Yasuo had a bad premonition, but it was already too late.
Khalija once again brought her face close to his ear.
“Watch out behind you. There’s a girl glaring at you with an incredibly angry expression.”
And said that with a hint of sarcasm.
Yasuo tried to turn around suddenly and banged his head hard against the roof of the taxi, and while he crouched down in pain, the taxi carrying Khalija sped away.
Yasuo didn’t even have the time to glare at the tail lamps before he timidly turned around, and…
Shouko was glaring down at him with such intensity that he felt like she would shoot ice magic from her eyes.
She was obviously extremely angry with him, and Yasuo could only act flustered, as he didn’t know the reason.
“H-Hey there, Tatewaki-san.”
“I think there’s something I should apologize to you about.”
“Remember the joke I made back then? It was back when you didn’t recognize me right away, Yasu-kun… no, Kenzaki-kun.”
From the way she changed the way she called him, he could guess the degree of Shouko’s inexplicable anger.
“I said that you were probably friends with a lot of girls, so it couldn’t be helped if you didn’t remember someone like me, right? I’m sorry.”
“S-Sorry for what…?”
“I just thought that you were actually quite popular. You’re with two different girls in a matter of a single day, and what’s more, both of them are foreigners. You even kissed her after getting out of the taxi, it’s so incredible that I can’t keep up at all. I guess people who go to a private school in the city are made of different stuff after all. Is this what they call making progress?”
“Ki…!? No, it wasn’t like that!!”
Yasuo wanted to deny it, but he was flustered upon hearing the word “kiss” and turned red after remembering what had happened the previous night in the backyard.
He knew that it would completely support what Shouko was thinking, but he couldn’t stop his emotions.
He had been on his guard, but he still got conned by Khalija in the end.
She had indeed planned things out so that people who saw him from afar would think of something like that.
Khalija had probably noticed Shouko the moment he stepped out of the taxi. She had purposely taken the kind of action that would ensure that Shouko would remember her.
However, no matter how important it was to be conspicuous, there were other ways to do it!! Though, even if he wanted to say that, Khalija was nowhere in sight, and it didn’t look like Shouko would believe him either.
Besides, what kind of place did she think private schools in a city were like?
If they were talking about cities, then the neighboring Higashimurayama Station that was in no way different from Tokorozawa was already part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.
Besides, the only places that students could go to that were near the train station closest to Takeoka High School were convenience stores, a MgRonalds, and unmanned stalls selling vegetables.
It was a student life completely devoid of any sort of city-like charm, so it was troubling when people just used the term “private school in the city” to draw their own conclusions!
“Something like this is on an entirely different level from going to buy manga, so you should consider the TPO, okay? Goodbye.”
“A-Ah, wait a minute, Tatewaki-san! It’s not what you think!”
“What? What exactly is different? I don’t particularly care about who you go out with, Kenzaki-kun.”
The expression on Shouko’s face when she turned around was not the expression that someone who didn’t care would have.
“Like I said, I’m not going out with her or anything…”
“Oh, so you were just playing around by kissing someone you’re not even going out with?”
“No, it’s just a misunderstanding!”
“Ah, sorry, I have a test during my lesson today. Goodbye.”
Shouko spoke quickly to shut out what Yasuo was trying to say, and quickly walked into a lecture booth. This must be what was meant by being unapproachable.
Not only was he unable to resolve the misunderstanding, he actually made it worse. Yasuo fell down on his knees while thinking about that, and,
“H-Hey, what’s wrong? You look really pale, are you okay?”
He felt like he was about to faint, but after hearing the voice of Kobayashi, the teacher in charge of him, he managed to regain his senses.
“Hahaha!! That’s what happened after I left!?”
Khalija’s amused laughter echoed in the living room of the Kenzaki house, and Yasuo glared at her resentfully.
She was still wearing Yasuo’s tracksuit, and paid no attention to Yasuo’s glare as she continued to work on something with several metallic parts spread out on the table before her. Nodoka, who had given the tracksuit to her without permission, was sitting beside her and watching her work with an interested expression.
“It’s not something to laugh about…”
Yasuo said that as he sat down in front of Khalija.
“Colonel! What are you doing!? Why are you causing problems for Yasuo?”
Diana, who was standing next to Yasuo with a red face, began to chew out Khalija fiercely.
“Uwaaah… Onii-chan, that’s really something.”
Nodoka was provoking him her brother by giving him a disgusted smile, so his only ally was Diana.
“Look, even Nodoka’s doing that! Why do I have to be seen by other people in such a way? I didn’t even do anything!!”
It was past nine pm when Yasuo left prep school.
He didn’t see Shouko anywhere on his way out, and when he instead saw Diana waiting by the roadside a little distance away, he felt like crying for more than one reason.
“Yasuo! What’s wrong!?”
Diana panicked upon seeing Yasuo with a pale face and tears in his eyes, but Yasuo had been unable to say anything until they got back home.
After he finally spoke about what happened, this was the result.
“The girl called Shouko Tatewaki was looking very hard at us, so I assumed she was a spy from a different country. I see, so she’s someone from this world.”
Stop lying, you obviously knew that wasn’t true!
Almost as if she had read Yasuo’s mind,
“I was half-serious, you know?”
Khalija shamelessly said that.
“Then what was the other half for!?”
Khalija was being so relaxed that Yasuo felt stupid for taking any of the things she said in the taxi seriously.
“In the first place, no one from our world would try and make contact in such a way because it would make Hideo angry! We are already in a position where we are causing problems for everyone from the Kenzaki family, so please try to restrain yourself! H-How could you do something like k-kissing Yasuo!?”
“Diana-san, calm down. She definitely didn’t kiss him. If she did, Onii-chan wouldn’t be this calm.”
Even though Nodoka hadn’t been present at the time, she spoke as if she had seen what happened and attempted to pacify Diana, whose face was red with indignation.
Nodoka was right, but no matter how Yasuo looked at it, she was just making fun of her brother for his lack of experience, so he had a complicated feeling about it.
True, they hadn’t kissed, but thinking back, he thought that having his neck licked by a woman he had just met was also pretty abnormal.
“Well, calm down, Major Krone.”
“How can I stay calm at a time like this!?”
“Don’t hit the table. You’re going to knock the parts off.”
“Here, Khalija-san. One of the screws fell down.”
“Ah, thank you, Nodoka. Please put it near that one of the same size which goes on the right.”
“…What have you being doing since earlier?”
Yasuo felt like he’d seen the mechanism that Khalija was working on somewhere before…
“It’s Major Krone’s Castor. I thought I should at least make some temporary repairs.”
“…She’s fixing it for me!”
Diana’s embarrassment and anger had not yet faded entirely, so she said that still fuming slightly.
“Castor… Is that the one that broke back then…?”
It was a Techno Weapon which was meant to be used right-handed, and was broken in the battle against Alexei’s Shii when she had been defending Nodoka.
“It gave out to high voltage and the Sorcery Circuits inside were fried. Thankfully, the circuit board itself seems to be fine, so while I can’t repair it completely, I should at least be able to make it usable. Want to take a look?”
Yasuo was scared to approach Khalija once again, but he was still interested to see what the insides of a Techno Weapon looked like, so he kept his guard up and looked at it from over her shoulder.
“What, what’s this?”
His gaze was immediately captured by its internal structure.
The insides of Castor, which looked like a pistol grip, appeared to a mysterious mechanism with what looked like gears from a mechanical watch laid over something which looked like a computer’s motherboard.
There were jewels of beautiful colors embedded at the shaft of each of the gears, and the gears were connected to each other by thin wires. However, even Yasuo could tell that they had been badly damaged in several areas.
“The basic operation of a Techo Weapon depends on a combination of this structure that is laid over the circuit board, and the technique formula that resides in the circuit board itself.”
“So these parts that look like they are burnt are where it has been damaged?”
“That’s right. They are called Sorcery Circuits. They are circuits meant to efficiently transmit the magical energy of the user. It looks like they were damaged because they weren’t able to handle the pure electricity released by the Regulus of 『Lightning』. ”
“Come on, these are the basics of Sorcery. Didn’t Major Krone already teach you about this?”
Yasuo looked towards Diana after Khalija said that, and suddenly remembered.
“Ah, that’s right. The phenomena caused by Magic and Sorcery are partially comprised of magical energy itself.”
“That’s right. The use of Techno Weapons, Sorcery, and Magic are greatly dependent on using as little magical energy as possible to bring out the greatest possible effect.”
Diana smiled, as if praising a student who got the right answer.
“My father’s Regulus is a specially made weapon in which every single component was selected carefully by my mother to have the greatest possible affinity with my father. My father never really had a large capacity for magical energy, but the efficiency with which his weapon generated the phenomena was far greater than that of regular Techno Weapons. The ratio of magical energy to generated phenomena was probably somewhere around 1:8.”
“A frightening Techno Weapon, indeed. The fact that he hadn’t forgotten how to use that weapon even after becoming a Shii is equally frightening.”
“Is it really that amazing?”
“For Magic that doesn’t use Techno Weapons, the ratio of magical energy to the generated phenomenon is pretty much always 1:1. A Techno Weapon that can increase that to 1:3 is already considered to be of exceptional quality. However, speaking of that…”
Khalija suddenly looked at Yasuo.
“You’re something of a mystery. Using the requiem to send off the Shii is dependant on the amount of magical energy you possess. Your level of magical energy is hardly worth talking about, but you managed to send off three of them at the same time back then, right?”
“Oh, you’re talking about that?”
Khalija was probably talking about the fight with the Shii during which they met her.
“Doing something so excessive, doesn’t it put strain on your body?”
“I don’t particularly feel any strain… I’m just singing, after all.”
“That’s pretty incredible in its own way, you know.”
Diana nodded as if she just realized it.
“An ordinary Magitech Knight can only send off one at a time, maybe two if they try really hard. Sending off three or more of them at the same time, I think only high-ranking clerics from the Church of the Divine King would be able do something like that…”
Yasuo didn’t really understand what that meant, but since nothing good had happened to him recently, being praised was not a bad feeling.
“Well, having an aptitude for magic is pretty straightforward, after all. Not to boast about my own abilities, but my affinity with different kinds of Techno Weapons is pretty high. However, my overall aptitude for Magic is quite low. The flames and lightning that I can create are like child’s play. Even when it comes to healing, doing something like closing a scratch on your neck is my limit. When it comes to sending off the Shii with the requiem, sending one at a time is the best I can do. Thinking that way, I guess it’s something you can be proud about.”
“It’s better not to praise him too much. Onii-chan easily gets overconfident.”
At this point, even his sister’s abuse failed to anger Yasuo.
However, Khalija smiled and said that she would be careful, and ended the conversation. After that, she went back to repairing Castor, and pulled out something completely unexpected.
What Khalija pulled out of a plastic bag was a completely ordinary spool of iron wire. There was the seal of a nearby home-improvement center near the barcode on the label.
“You’re going to use that as a replacement?”
“I asked Madoka to buy it this afternoon. It’s the closest substitute for Sorcery Circuits that can be found in this world. I should be able to make it work somehow.”
“Is it okay if it’s not a copper wire? Won’t passing electricity through an iron wire just cause it to burn up?”
“Iron is the best metallic conductor of magical energy. Besides, iron that has been processed for the manufacturing industry has the optimal amount of carbon in it, so it’s easy to use as a substitute. To tell you the truth, it would have been better if I could have brought another Castor along with me, but annoyingly enough, we are only allowed to carry a limited number of weapons when traveling here. Since I was already carrying my own weapons, I wasn’t able to carry another Castor with me.”
Saying that, Khalija lightly tapped the staff-shaped Techno Weapon in the holster on her waist.
“However, what you said is correct. The iron used to make Sorcery Circuits in our world is made strong enough to handle most magic, but you can just say it was a bad match against Regulus. If the opponent is a regular Shii, then even this wire should be good enough. You should probably step away for a bit. If this releases any shrapnel by some chance, it might be dangerous.”
After making sure that Yasuo and Nodoka moved away, she stretched out the iron wire and placed it on Castor’s circuit board. She then released the light of magical energy from the tip of her bare finger, and used it like a soldering iron to attach the wire in place on top of the circuit board. Although it looked like she cut the wire using heat, there was no smell of burning metal at all, and the iron on the circuit board glowed and spread across the circuit board as if it had a will of its own.
Once the iron stopped spreading and settled down, to their inexperienced eyes it looked like it had been built that way to begin with, and didn’t look like a temporary repair at all.
“Wow, so beautiful.”
“Are you talking about me?”
Her ability to tease Yasuo even when she was focusing on work was almost praiseworthy. However, maybe because she was focusing, the joke was not very good and it was easily avoided.
“I’m talking about the circuit board.”
Khalija spoke without looking up from the circuit board, but her tone suddenly turned serious.
“『Beauty is power.』”
“It’s something my father, who taught me how to handle Techno Weapons, used to say. Not just Techno Weapons, there are various kinds of beauty possessed by all objects. Beauty in the external appearance, beauty on the inside, beauty in the design, beauty in utilization, beauty in the manufacturing process, and even beauty in the maintenance process. I think he meant that striving to make something as beautiful as the circumstances allowed during the manufacturing process would make a better product for a larger number of people. In that respect, Castor and Pollux are truly well made. I can see why they are the most commonly used Techno Weapons.”
“Do Magitech Knights build and maintain their own Techno Weapons?”
Even the Regulus that had come up in the conversation earlier had been handmade by Diana’s mother.
It made sense to periodically maintain your own weapons, but Yasuo was surprised that they could even create the weapons by themselves.
“It is usually at the level of lubricating the moving parts, and making a safety inspection before using them. The Colonel is a special case.”
Diana shook her head and made a comment.
“I already told you earlier about how she was promoted to a Technical Lieutenant, but at the time she enlisted in the army, her skill and knowledge regarding Techno Weapons was already equivalent to that of a professional Techno Weapons craftsman. It was enough to make the Head of the Techno Weapons Research Division groan in despair. She’s a professional who understands the characteristics of many different types of Techno Weapons and develops an optimal fighting style that matches those characteristics perfectly.”
While Diana was carrying out her explanation, Khalija suddenly let out a loud shout and the smell of burning metal spread through the living room.
“Major Krone… Please stop saying things like that. It makes me lose my focus.”
“Eh? Ah, I’m sorry.”
Khalija’s cheeks were slightly red as she spoke brusquely to Diana, but Diana continued to speak after apologizing.
“The Colonel’s Techno Weapon, Marfik the 『Snakebone』, is particularly impressive as its form can be changed freely. It can take any shape depending on the user’s magical energy, but that apparently makes it extremely difficult to use. It’s said that there are only a handful of people in the whole world who can use it, and I’ve heard that the Colonel’s maintenance skills make her an expert who is the most proficient at using it…”
Once again, they smelled burning metal and heard Khalija’s shout.
“I can’t focus with you talking here, so please leave the room for a bit. Yasuo and Nodoka as well!”
“Eh? Ah, Y-Yes!”
“Okay, got it.”
Forced by the pressure Khalija emitted while red in the face, the three of them ended up leaving the living room.
“I wonder what happened to her all of a sudden.”
“I-I don’t know… But we should probably leave her alone until she’s done with her work.”
Yasuo tilted his head in confusion, and Diana also looked flustered.
“Hmm. This is just an assumption, but…”
“What is it, Nodoka?
“I’m not sure, but maybe Khalija-san doesn’t deal well with praise?”
“Remember when she first came to or house, she looked pretty embarrassed when Diana-san was praising her. Skilled people like her who are capable of doing anything often receive little praise because people think that’s only natural, so singing her praises like Diana-san does in front of other people probably makes her embarrassed.”
“……I wonder if her character is actually that admirable.”
Yasuo thought that, if anything, she would be type of person who asks for more praise when people praise her.
“No, I’m pretty sure it’s like I said. She doesn’t like feeling embarrassed when she’s praised, so she puts on a strong front like that.”
“Don’t you think you’re reading too much into it?”
“Then we just have to test that idea again sometime.”
Nodoka looked very confident.
“I understand what you’re saying, though. Although being praised is not a bad feeling, it is also strangely embarrassing in a way.”
It looks like Diana also found Nodoka’s proposal valid, so she was nodding while looking like she understood.
“Yasuo? Are you home? The bathroom is free right now, so go take your bath.”
At that moment, Yasuo heard his mother’s voice coming from the direction of the bathroom.
“Ah, okay. Well then Diana, I’ll see you around.”
“Yes. Umm, I’m sorry… for all the things…”
“Not just me, but the Colonel… caused all those strange misunderstandings… Had I known that she would do that, I would have stopped her in advance.”
“Y-Yeah, it’s okay.”
Yasuo felt shaken upon seeing Diana’s blushing, downturned face.
Right now, Yasuo wasn’t facing much trouble by outsiders misunderstanding his relationship with Diana. However, he hadn’t given any thought as to how Diana felt about the whole thing.
He wasn’t arrogant enough to believe that Diana had interest in him as a member of the opposite sex, but as a man, he couldn’t reject that possibility entirely.
Moreover, as it would also affect Diana’s dignity, he could not afford to answer her casually, as that would be the very definition of digging his own grave. In such situations, staying silent is the worst thing one can do, but Yasuo’s thought process had completely locked up and he wasn’t able to say a single word.
“Well then, I should be going… I’ll see you again… tomorrow…”
Diana headed towards the main door with a sad smile, and Yasuo could only see her off with some vague words.
Diana left the house, and the only sound that could be heard was the sound of his mother’s hair dryer coming from the direction of the bathroom.
His sister’s wholehearted attack scored a perfect hit on his mind from the flank, and Yasuo could only hang his head while being depressed.
“You can say that, but what was I supposed to do…”
“Diana-san is cute, you should just go out with her already.”
“You say that like it’s so simple!! Deciding whether to go out with someone or not isn’t such a simple matter!”
Taking Diana’s history that he had heard from Khalija into account, he could not rashly hit on her, and besides, Yasuo could not use such a skill at his current level of experience. That’s why he had strongly rejected what Nodoka said, but she just laughed at him.
“Huh? What are you talking about? If you really didn’t see her that way, then you could have just said that you didn’t mind it, or said something like ‘Isn’t it annoying how people misunderstand this?’ and left it at that. The fact that you couldn’t say it means that, at the very least, you are conscious of Diana-san in a special way.”
“Eeh… No, but—”
“And then there’s Tatewaki-san, and maybe even Khalija-san? Feeling self-conscious about all the girls who you get even a little close to, just how bad were your relations with girls until now?”
“I-It’s not that I’ve never spoken to girls before. I have spoken to them during club practice and in class, it’s just that I’ve never spent any time with them in a more casual setting…”
Yasuo felt truly pathetic for trying to explain this kind of thing to his younger sister who would not stop kicking him when he was down.
“You know… Diana-san has faced a lot of bad experiences with people for a while now.”
What did she mean by bad experiences?
Had Nodoka perhaps heard about Diana’s past from the person herself?
“In all that time, the only emotional support she had was 『The Hero from thirty years ago, Hideo』. She was talking about that sort of thing on our way back from school today.”
So it was as he had thought. He wasn’t sure what steered their conversation in that direction, but it wasn’t hard to imagine that the root cause was almost certainly Shouko’s misunderstanding from when they met at the Ozone Shopping Center.
“Try and be aware of that, okay? Even though you’re the kind of person who takes his life for granted and fails his tests, you are still an important existence to her right now.”
Seeing her brother act so openly shocked, Nodoka frowned and decided not to give him any more hints.
“Hey, go take your bath already. The gas for heating doesn’t come cheap.”
“Eh, yeah. Nodoka, what do you mean…”
“I don’t know. Just go away, already!”
“Hey, what are you two fighting about? Did Diana-chan leave already? ”
Their mother appeared at that point, and Yasuo wasn’t able to question Nodoka any further because he didn’t want to talk about going out with girls in front of his mother.
“Hmm, I was just talking about how utterly hopeless Onii-chan is.”
“Yes, but he’s been this way for ages.”
His protests against his sister and mother’s abuse were completely ignored.
“By the way, Khalija-san is working on fixing Diana-san’s Techno Weapon in the living room.”
“Ah, that’s right, she mentioned that to me earlier. Maybe I should make some tea? …Yasuo, your father will be home soon, so go take your bath quickly.”
Nodoka listened to her brother take out his resentment on the bathroom door by slamming it shut, and let her shoulders droop.
It was back when Diana was still new to Japan, and her brother was still fiercely against her and everything pertaining to Ante Lande.
She had heard Diana talk about 『Hideo the Hero, who looked exactly like the current Yasuo』.
Nodoka didn’t know how those feelings of Diana’s were affecting her current relationship with her brother, but no matter how you looked at it, Diana was too soft on Yasuo in many ways.
It wasn’t that she was clinging to him, but she definitely saw his every action in a favorable light.
And then, considering Diana’s past as a 『Daughter of Nobility』 that she had heard about on their way back from school, and the tales about the various marriage proposals she had received, her brother, who was like a life size replica of 『Hideo the Hero』, must have been a special existence to Diana.
And then, that brother of hers had gone on to say that he wanted to protect Diana and the world that she wanted to protect too.
The problem was that Diana’s feelings caused her to accept everything about Yasuo even though they were not romantically involved.
As a member of his family, Nodoka knew that her brother was not such a special existence by any means, and looking at him from the perspective of a modern Japanese person, he had more bad points than good.
“I guess this is what it means to love a good for nothing man?”
“Did you say something, Nodoka?”
“Uh, no, it’s nothing.”
“Ah, Madoka. I’m sorry, I made a slight mistake while working and there’s a smell in the room…”
“Oh, don’t worry about it, it’s not that bad. Nodoka, can you turn on the exhaust fan?”
While turning on the exhaust fan in the kitchen, Nodoka worried if her brother was going to be alright, in more ways than one.
“Seriously, what the hell! Gaaah!”
Yasuo entered the bathroom and turned the faucet, but shouted after receiving a cold water shower at full blast because he didn’t notice that the valve was turned towards the shower side.
Yasuo sat down on the seat and poured some hot water from the bathtub over himself. While waiting for the water from the faucet to warm up, Yasuo started thinking about the things his sister had said, and accompanying those thoughts, several scenes started to play out in his head.
Shouko, Diana, and Khalija.
He had gotten close to a number of women within a short period of time, it was completely unprecedented in his life so far. When he thought back to the times he had spent with them, he remembered the feeling of Shouko’s hand as she pulled him to his feet when he was sitting on the ground, the softness of Diana’s body when he had carried her during the fight with Alexei’s Shii, and the feeling of Khalija’s breath on his ear in the taxi.
He kept thinking of unnecessary things because of what Nodoka said.
Yasuo stuck his head into the wash basin filled with water and shouted, and he heard his mother’s fed-up voice coming from the other side of the door.
“Why are you shouting like that in the bathroom? The window is open, you know.”
“Blub blub blub blub!”
Shut up!! Yasuo, the eighteen-year-old high school male student shouted that with his face still under water, but he still had enough presence of mind to realize that people in the neighboring houses might hear his voice, so he stood up and went to close the window while he was still dripping wet.
Thankfully, there were no lights switched on in the neighboring houses, so it didn’t look like anyone had heard him shout.
Actually, it was pitch dark outside. Even considering that it was night, there was no light outside the window at all.
No, it wasn’t a matter of there being no light, there was something black in the place where the window pane should have been…
Yasuo’s mind froze when he saw the two points of red light that suddenly appeared outside the window frame.
His hand was still on the window, without understanding what exactly it was that he was seeing.
When he heard it growling, his mind that had locked up finally began to work again.
“Yasuo, I’ve had it up to here with you!”
“Onii-chan is making a racket again… Hey!! What the hell are you doing!?”
Right after they heard his scream, Yasuo came running into the living room, still dripping wet and covering his front with just a towel. Seeing that, the three ladies in the room, Khalija, Madoka, and Nodoka, were obviously shocked.
However, Yasuo didn’t have time to waste on explanations.
“What are you shushing us for? We should be shushing you! What are doing, running out of the bathroom naked!?”
“There’s a Shii in the bathroom!!”
In that instant, Madoka and Khalija reacted instantly.
Khalija jumped over the table and ran out of the room, with Madoka following closely behind.
However, the few moments Yasuo had wasted were apparently the deciding factor.
He heard the sound of something heavy breaking, and by the time he followed the two of them into the hallway, things had already turned into a horrible state.
“This time it’s the bathroom…”
Madoka couldn’t be blamed for blanking out.
The door that separated the dressing room from the bathroom was broken, revealing the broken wall of the bathroom that was letting in cold air from outside, while water gushed out of the broken faucet with a pathetic sound.
And then, there was the Shii that stood in the middle of such a background.
“Peeking at Yasuo while he’s in the bath, such poor taste!”
A flame appeared above Madoka’s hand.
“I completely agree.”
Khalija also made a stance with the strange Techno Weapon, Marfik, that she unlimbered from her waist.
“It’s quite small. It’s probably the one I allowed to escape last night. We should put it down right away.”
“You’re right. But out of consideration for the neighbors, I don’t want to cause any more disturbance.”
“That depends on the opponent, but you’re right.”
At the very least, it had enough power to tear down a wood-frame wall with its bare hands, so they couldn’t their guard down.
“Is it trying to say something…?”
“Perhaps it’s another one moaning about Hideo the Hero? Seriously, why are they so attracted to an old man like him?”
The small Shii that destroyed the bathroom ignored Madoka and Khalija, and instead appeared to be searching for something.
At that moment, Diana, who was supposed to have gone home already, came rushing in through the front door again, probably because she heard the noise.
“What was that incredibly loud sound just now!?”
“Diana!? Sorry, but please look after Nodoka…!”
Upon seeing her, Yasuo stuck his head out of the living room and said that. In retrospect, it was a mistake.
“Yasuo!? Why aren’t you dressed!?”
Diana, who turned red and looked like she was about to blow steam like a kettle, was looking at Yasuo whose only equipment was a single towel.
“N-Now’s not the time to be talking about that…”
“Ah! It’s a Shii!”
“You’re late! Don’t lose your cool over something as trivial as a naked man! If there was more than one enemy, you would have been killed!”
Diana finally came back to her senses after hearing the Shii growling and Khalija’s scolding. She pulled Pollux out of the pocket of her sweatshirt and took a stance while stealing glances at Yasuo.
Khalija’s reprimand actually sounded more like a joke, but Diana was aware that she could lose her life if she underestimated a Shii.
However, something strange happened in the next instant.
The Shii spun around and ran away through the hole in the wall.
So it chose to run away again?
Khalija immediately dashed off in pursuit, and Madoka decided to stay and protect the house. Diana was hesitating because of the anti-climactic outcome, and as for Nodoka,
“Put something on, for heaven’s sake!”
She pulled out a bath towel from the pile of folded laundry in the living room, and threw it at her brother.
“Just what was it trying to do…”
Khalija clucked her tongue as if annoyed and pursued the Shii that was running away.
There were a few cases of Shii running away when they realized that the odds were against them, but this was the first time she saw one that ran away before the fighting even started.
Moreover, there was only a single Shii, and it had appeared in this other world in a country called Japan. It was strange in many ways.
There was currently no way to pursue a Shii that disappeared into the ground because of a mistake or a delay in sending it off, but even in that respect, this Shii was strange.
It was running a little ahead of Khalija, leaping from one rooftop to the next.
“Where is it going……”
In any case, she had to find out as much information as possible about the actions of the Shii.
Khalija decided to keep following the Shii for as long as possible and observe its actions. She took care to not be noticed by the Shii as she continued pursuit.
After some time, the Shii visibly slowed down and stopped moving on top of one of the houses.
Looking closely, Khalija saw that it was a building that was used both as a house and a restaurant.
Light was spilling out of the front of the building from behind the short curtain, and she could hear the lively sound of drunk people talking.
Did it change its target to a place that had a lot of people?
It had jumped over a large number of buildings on its way here, so that sounded fairly strange, but she couldn’t think of any other explanation.
If the Shii was going to do something dangerous, she had to eliminate it right away.
Just when Khalija decided to make a move, the Shii started doing something even more strange.
Instead of heading towards the restaurant, it jumped in through a window on the second floor where the lights were out.
“Oh no! It’s going to attack the residents!”
Khalija hurried towards the same window, but once there she saw something unbelievable.
The Shii from earlier was standing quietly in the middle of the Japanese-style room with six tatami mats spread on the floor.
There was no one else in the room, and the Shii did not pay attention to the faint sounds of the drunks that could be heard from below. It even failed to pay attention to Khalija, who was sitting in the window frame, and just closed its glowing red eyes as if it was going to sleep.
In the next instant,
Khalija was shocked speechless. The black flames that covered the Shii from head to toe slowly receded, and the body of a human could be seen coming out from within.
The flames vanished in a matter of moments as if they were being sucked into the person’s eyes, and the person, now fully visible, crumpled to the tatami floor.
For an instant, Khalija thought that the person had died, but then she heard them breathing loudly enough to hear even from where she was sitting, and they even tossed over in their sleep.
Perhaps they were talking in their sleep? Khalija couldn’t sense any trace of maliciousness or ferocity from the voice that leaked out along with the breathing.
However, there was no mistaking the fact that a human came out of a Shii’s body right in front of her eyes.
What surprised Khalija the most was the identity of the person.
“If I remember correctly… Her name is Shouko Tatewaki…”
It was certainly that girl who was supposed to be Yasuo’s friend from prep school.
The girl was someone she had been looking into herself, after she found out that she was an acquaintance of Yasuo’s.
“A Shii possessing a living human……?”
Khalija hadn’t felt any strange magical energy or suspicious behavior from her when she saw her outside the prep school.
From Diana’s report and the way Nodoka spoke about her, it was clear that she was a person from Japan with no connection to Ante Lande whatsoever.
Her clothes were the same that Khalija had seen her wearing earlier that evening. A plain jacket and trousers.
What had happened to this girl who looked like she had nothing to do with the Shii?
“Is this really happening…? Can Shii really possess humans……?”
Khalija unconsciously touched the circlet on her her forehead.
The jewel that she touched with her fingertips was as cold as ice.
Khalija ground her teeth out of frustration, but she couldn’t take her eyes off Shouko for a while.
Yasuo, who had finally managed to put on some clothes after being yelled at by Nodoka, and Diana, who was trying her best not to look at Yasuo even though he was finally dressed, welcomed Khalija back to the house.
Khalija heard Hideo’s groans coming from near the bathroom inside the house, but he was probably just holding his head after seeing the state of the bathroom right after coming home.
“Colonel. I’m glad that you’re alright.”
“What happened to the Shii from earlier?”
Khalija shook her head while standing in front of Diana and Yasuo who had rushed towards her.
“Unfortunately, it managed to escape again.”
Seeing the disappointed looks on their faces, Khalija once again shook her head at how badly she had handled the situation.