Chapter 13 – The Slasher
By the time I had arrived in that country, in every alley and every shop, if more than two people happened to meet up, they would start exchanging rumors about the Slasher as a conversation opener.
“Hey, have you seen that Slasher?”
“I haven’t seen it, but I know for a fact that it has taken the lives of five women.”
“Yes, I saw him with my own eyes. It was on the night of the full moon. It was a man with a terrifying appearance—”
“No, the culprit is a woman. I saw her with my own eyes.”
“What did you say? I saw it as well, and the Slasher was a transsexual.”
“Oh my, I heard it was a puppet.”
“It’s terrible! This is so terrible! So basically someone in this city stole the lives of five women, is that right? I can’t so much as walk outside without being afraid! I’m going to shut myself away inside my house!”
Well, it was something like that.
The whole city was in an uproar, and all the residents who were walking in the alleys between red-bricked walls were trembling with fear. As I walked along the bright red road while listening closely to the conversations around me, I heard that a woman had been assaulted that morning as well, which was causing the people to be consumed by fear.
Despite that, the people who were not residents of the country looked fairly calm.
“Hey there. It looks like things are pretty bad.”
Who was that witch who said that in a carefree tone, walking around while nibbling on bread?
That’s right, it was me.
I was not bothered about the incident at all.
It looked like the string of incidents perpetrated by that Slasher were a fairly big deal, as there was a witch from the Administrative Bureau of Magic walking around and carrying out her investigation.
The witch was an adult woman, with long, golden hair that glittered like stardust. She was wearing a white robe and tricorne, and had two brooches, one shaped like a star and the other shaped like the moon.
“……Dammit. Everyone I ask just spouts whatever nonsense they want.”
By the way, it appears that the investigation is not going very well.
It looked like she was extremely irritated, as she was holding a smoking pipe in one hand while roughly blowing out white puffs of smoke from her mouth. The smoke that had a disagreeable smell was continuously leaking out from her mouth and the long-stemmed oriental pipe that she was holding.
However, I had no idea that this country was the kind of dangerous place where people get randomly assaulted on the streets. Maybe I should limit my stay here to just today, and leave as soon as possible. By the way, the smell is starting to get on my nerves so maybe I should just get away from this place right away as well.
“……Hmm? Hey, you over there. Do you have a moment?”
It was right after I started walking away hurriedly.
My shoulder was tapped on from behind, and the bad smell peculiar to smoking pipes wrapped itself around me. I really hate this kind of smell. I wrinkled my nose without realizing it.
Taking no pains to hide my disgust, I waved my hand to disperse the smoke and turned around to find the witch from the Administrative Bureau of Magic looking at me.
“You there, are you a citizen of this country?”
“I am a traveler.”
“Hmm—By the way, do you know about the series of incidents that have occured in this country recently?”
“That thing about a Slasher being on the loose? Well, I’ve at least heard about it. You’ve been going around asking everyone about it, after all. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything else about it.”
Hearing my reply, she put on an expression that told me she was not amused.
“……That’s unfortunate. Well, if you come across any information, please pass it on to me. I’m going to the place where the people of this country gather together to see if I can find any information on this Slasher. Well then, I’ll see you around.”
“I doubt I’ll come across anything like that, but sure.”
“……Why are you pinching your nose?”
“Please don’t mind me.”
I replied in a nasal voice.
The witch slightly tilted her head to the side in confusion and pulled out a piece of paper from her shirt pocket.
“My name is Sheila. I am a witch from the 『Administrative Bureau of Magic』.”
The same words she just said to me were written on that piece of paper that thrust towards me. Along with the title 『Witch of Midnight』.
“My name is Elaina. The Witch of Ashes, Elaina—but don’t think we will ever meet again.”
Even so, I accepted the scrap of paper from her.
I felt that it would be a suicidal act to roam around carelessly in a city that was thick with rumors about a Slasher, so I went straight to an inn and booked a room for myself.
As all the buildings and houses in this country are uniformly built with red colored bricks, it took me a lot of effort to find an inn. Besides, I felt that I was gathering a lot of attention—the bad kind—by walking around dressed in a witch’s attire.
It’s probably because of the 『Witch of Midnight』, Sheila-san, has been snooping around the city and bothering people while looking for clues about the incident—because of that, I was getting a lot of dirty looks, just because I was a witch.
It started to get annoying, so I decided to take off my brooch and walk around as just an ordinary magician.
Still, no matter how far I walked, the surroundings all looked identical. In one way that was a lovely sight, but when walking around in search of something it was just extremely tiring.
As I kept walking through the city, I found a bunch of different shops, such as a bookstore, a cafe, stores selling dolls, and many others besides. It looked like dolls were the speciality of this country, so I saw many stores that sold them.
Seeing as this country specializes in dollmaking, I thought of buying one as a souvenir and walked into one of the stores.
“Fufufu… welcome. The dolls in my store are something else, they are all amazing. They are rare items that I ordered from a different country a very long time ago. They are vintage. Take a look at this one, she is a particularly splendid piece…See how the quality of the hair is so good that it feels almost real? Isn’t it just the best? She smells so good too. Do you want to take a sniff? ”
“Ah. Sorry, I seem to have come to the wrong shop by mistake.”
I immediately beat a retreat. As that place had a really questionable atmosphere surrounding it.
In the end, I just trudged through the city until I finally found an inn.
I walked into that red brick building that looked identical to all the others, paid for a room for one night, and shut myself away inside.
Even I am slightly fearful of that so-called Slasher, so I made sure to lock my door and close the window.
“……There’s one in here as well.”
As expected of the country’s speciality, there was a doll sitting on my bedside table.
It was a doll modeled to look like a young girl with golden hair and wearing a gaudy dress. The corners of its mouth were slightly raised in a smile, but its eyes were just staring in the direction of the dilapidated old room. It’s kind of creepy.
I couldn’t relax with that doll looking at me, so I lifted it up and tossed it into the closet.
“Oh well, I should probably go to bed early today.”
After that, I took a bath, munched on some bread for dinner, laid face up on the bed, and read a book until night had completely fallen.
Isn’t it strange how you feel sleepy when you have nothing to do?
At some point, I had fallen into a deep sleep.
It was the next morning.
“……It looks like I dozed off.”
After putting the book that was lying on top of me on the bedside table, I got out of bed.
I could see that the sky outside the window looked bright and clear, and the red colored buildings were illuminated by the sunlight. A warm breeze blew in through the window, causing the curtains to shake as it coiled around me.
I closed my eyes while enjoying the pleasant feeling of the breeze for some time—
I don’t remember opening the window.
I guess I must have opened it at some point?
Unfortunately my memories from last night before I fell asleep are somewhat vague, and I don’t remember when I fell asleep. I can’t even remember how far I had gotten in reading the book.
Did I open the window at some point, and forget about it?
That would be quite careless.
“Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter.”
Seeing as I’m still alive, I didn’t become the next victim of the Slasher, at the very least.
The fact is, even though I’m a witch, I don’t stand a chance if I’m attacked in my sleep. I was a little relieved by the fact that nothing had happened even though my window was open.
“……I feel somewhat strange.”
I felt like my body was strangely light, or as if something was missing. There was a slight feeling of having lost something, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
“Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter.”
In the end, still half asleep, I ignored that feeling of uneasiness and headed towards the bathroom after taking my toothbrush out of my bag.
Now, what should I do today—I was thinking something like that.
When I turned my eyes towards my reflection in the mirror, I instantly came fully awake.
An unbelievable sight was reflected in the mirror.
I found out what was causing the uneasy feeling.
“Eh—what’s going on?”
I dropped my toothbrush into the washbasin and touched my hair with trembling fingers.
My glossy, ash-grey, waist-length hair had been cleanly cut off.
There was no sight of it anywhere.
My long hair was gone.
During the time when I was asleep, my hairstyle had abruptly changed from long hair to short.
“……I don’t even recognize myself.”
At this point, I suddenly remembered.
The rumors that were exchanged in the city yesterday,
The one who stole the lives of five women.
A woman’s life.
By the way, I’ve heard about hair being called a woman’s life before.
“It’s just as you suspected, this is certainly the work of that Slasher. One girl was suddenly attacked on her way home from shopping. Another was attacked when taking her ease at a cafe—And in your case, it looks like the culprit got to you while you were asleep.”
This is what happened after I realized that my hair had been chopped off.
The first thing I did was to walk unsteadily to the front desk of the inn while still in my pyjamas, explain the situation to the old woman there, give her the visiting card that I had got from 『The Witch of Midnight』 Sheila-san, and ask the old woman to bring her here. The loss of my precious long hair was such a big shock that I didn’t feel up to going outside. By the way, I threw a gold coin at the old lady because she appeared to be hesitating.
After that, I returned to my room, lay on my bed face down, and sulked until Sheila-san arrived.
And then, when Sheila-san saw me after she hurried over, she let out a snort of laughter.
“I can’t believe that even a witch has become one of the victims of the Slasher…. Ahem.”
I didn’t have the energy to say anything back to her, so I settled for glaring at her from atop my bed.
She slumped her shoulders as if to show that she wasn’t bothered in the least by my glare, and spoke while putting on a pair of gloves.
“Well, I’ll be taking a look at the scene of the crime.”
“What should I do?”
“Just keep sitting there and don’t move.”
It looks like I just need to wait without doing anything, so I’ll do just that.
While sitting on the bed, I observed Sheila-san as she went about her work.
With an experienced air, she went about the room and turned the furniture upside down. She turned over everything, from the shelves to the table, the closet, and even the flower vase. Of course the bed was not an exception either, and I, who was following instructions and not moving a muscle, was dropped off the side when the bed flipped over.
“Hmm… There’s nothing that looks suspicious.”
“I think the most suspicious thing in this room is you, Sheila-san.”
I spoke from my place on the floor where I had fallen.
“I’m not being suspicious. This is part of my investigation, I tell you.”
Sheila-san was looking down towards me.
“By the way, did you see anything suspicious? Is there anything about the room that looks different compared to yesterday?”
“Every single thing looks different.”
Everything is upside down, after all.
“Enough with the jokes.”
“Well, even if you say that……”
However, it was true that I had a good view of the room from my place where I lay sprawled on the floor, so there was one thing I noticed all of a sudden.
“……Ah. The doll is missing.”
I nodded and pointed a finger at the closet.
“I took the doll that was sitting on the bedside table and put it inside the closet yesterday, and now it’s missing.”
“Fumu fumu…. I see.”
Sheila-san nodded as though she was convinced of something, and muttered “I knew it!” under her breath.
“What is it?”
“This string of incidents all have one common feature. Every one of the girls just got their hair cut and were not otherwise harmed in any way—so I spent the whole day yesterday walking around and talking to the victims, and every single one of them insists that they were attacked by the same thing.”
“And what is that?”
Hearing my question, Sheila-san gave me a concise answer.
“It is likely that the culprit is using magic to control the dolls and make them cut off womens’ hair. With that in mind, I went walking around the city trying to find the real culprit… well, I’ve not made any progress with that.”
After all, depending on who you ask, the culprit is a terrifying man, or a woman, or a transsexual.
Picking out the truth from a sea of rumors is obviously going to be difficult.
“In that case, what was it that you realized just earlier?”
“I went around talking to the victims—as I mentioned just earlier—and thanks to that, I managed to find out where the dolls are coming from.”
I see, I see.
“In that case, let’s go and crush the source where these things are coming from. I will send them to the depths of hell, where they can atone for the crime of cutting off my hair.”
I stood up from the floor.
I’m feeling very motivated all of a sudden. I am overflowing with motivation and a desire to kill.
“Hey, calm down a bit. I’m not done talking yet.”
“What is it? Did you already snap the culprit’s neck?”
“I can’t follow that leap in logic……”
Sheila-san let out a big sigh.
“That’s not what I’m talking about. I’ve figured out where the dolls are coming from, but that place is a little troublesome.”
“What do you mean by troublesome?”
Sheila-san spoke after glancing at my chest as I changed out of my pyjamas.
“Apparently, rare dolls are sold in black market auctions in this country. None of the dolls being sold are regular products, they all come with shady histories attached. Due to that, both the sellers and the buyers use fake names while carrying out their business.”
Why is she saying that while staring at my chest?
However, I got the gist of what she was trying to say. I quickly put on my shirt and skirt to escape from Sheila-san’s gaze, and said,
“So the dolls that were purchased by the victims also came from there?”
Sheila-san nodded. She was still staring at my chest.
“By the way, it looks like the that old lady who owns this inn is quite an avid collector herself. I threatened her earlier and made her spill the beans, but it looks like she buys her dolls from the same source as the other victims.”
After saying that, Sheila-san started rummaging around in her bag.
And then she said, “Ah, here it is” as she pulled a doll out of her bag.
It’s a golden haired doll that looks a lot like the one that was sitting on my bedside table last night.
“This is something I pillaged from the old lady here after threatening her some more. It looks like this one and the dolls that belonged to the other victims were made by the same dollmaker.”
“It looks just like an ordinary doll. Although it has a creepy air around it that makes you think it might start moving about any second.”
Sheila-san put on a boastful expression as she held the doll by the scruff of its neck and shook it.
“Does it really look ordinary to you? Take a closer look. The person who made this must have quite a twisted nature.”
I moved my face close to take a better look at the doll. As it shook, the doll with a creepy smile seemed to look back at me.
After the doll and I stared at each other for a while,
I realized what she was getting at.
“Is it the hair?”
Sheila-san nodded in affirmation.
“That’s right. This thing’s hair is real, it came from a person. That’s what makes it look so realistic.”
“What’s more, it is was probably made from the hair of one of the Slasher’s victims.”
Indeed, that person sounds really twisted.
“Well, that’s how it is. That’s why they are being sold in the black market auctions.”
Sheila-san spoke while continuing to shake the doll.
“Speaking of the black market auctions, it looks like there’s one being held today as well.”
“Do you want to go?”
Instead of answering her, I silently put on my robe and tricorne, and gathered my luggage.
Pushing my hair out in one smooth motion after putting on my robe was something I was used to doing, but my hair that was cut sorrowfully short was already outside my clothes.
That doll maker shall not be forgiven.
“Well then, let’s go.”
I left the room along with Sheila-san who nodded at my words.
“By the way, why did you keep staring at my chest earlier?”
“Hmm? Well… I was just thinking about how pitifully small they were.”
“Also, if you’re going to the place where the black market auction is being held, take off your robe and tricorne. Wearing such noticeable clothes increases the risk of someone finding out who you really are.”
『The Witch of Midnight』 shall not be forgiven.
Apparently, the entrance to the black market auction was behind a shop that would take a bit of a walk to reach after going through several back alleyways in the city. The whole thing reeks of sneakiness.
There are three requirements we would have to fulfil before entering the black market auction venue.
The first was that we could not reveal our identities to anyone.
In other words, while we are inside the premises, we are just customers; nothing more and nothing less. We have to play that part to perfection, even though it is beneath us.
Due to that, I was dressed very plainly in just a shirt and skirt, and Sheila-san was wearing a dress for some reason. I thought we weren’t supposed to dress gaudily as it would draw attention?
The second requirement was that we had to wear masks.
It looks like we will need to wear these masks that just cover the area around the eyes to hide our identities. We are being sneaky, after all.
“……These masks just cover the eyes, so won’t we be found out right away?”
“Don’t say it. It’s more about creating the right atmosphere. Don’t you feel like you’re doing something wrong when you wear a mask?”
“Well, just the fact that we are at a black market auction already makes it plenty wrong.”
What the heck is this person talking about?
“Oh well, let’s get inside, for starters.”
Wearing costumes and masks to disguise our true identities, we stepped into the premises where the black market auction would take place.
Incidentally, the third requirement was that we needed to pay an entrance fee.
Although the black market auction was being held in a basement, it was a really beautiful place, and it could even be called dazzling.
A dazzling chandelier was giving off a golden light while hanging from the ceiling that had a mysterious painting on it. Below that were rows of seats that appeared to be lined with red cloth, and overall, it looked more like an opera house than a black market auction house.
“I heard that this place used to be an opera house in the past.”
Correction. It didn’t just look like one, it actually was an opera house.
Well, perhaps in the past this place used to be filled with people who were dressed appropriately and indulged in their noble pastime, but…
“Hehehe… I’m going to get that doll for sure today… Hehehe…”
“I’m definitely going to get it, I’m definitely going to get it, I’m definitely going to get it!”
“I’ve been saving my money all this time for this day. I’m not going home until I get what I came for.”
What can I say, wherever I look, I see only people with bloodshot eyes who don’t suit this place at all.
While keeping an eye on the strange behaviour of the people around us, the two of us took or seats. Sheila-san, who was sitting beside me, spoke while fiddling with the bidding paddle that she had received.
“Every single person here looks desperate.”
She sighed after saying that.
“They’re just dolls, I wonder why they are all so worked up.”
“I don’t really get it, but maybe they are just drawn to the allure of owning items that cannot be purchased legally.”
I don’t really understand this kind of passion.
We waited for several minutes inside that noisy venue, until a man finally appeared on the stage.
“Thanks for waiting, everyone! We have some wonderful products today as well, made by our artisans just for you! Everyone, do you want one of these for yourself? You do, don’t you? Of course you do!”
Despite that poor attempt to stir up the crowd, the whole venue went crazy. It was like a pot on the verge of boiling over.
I mean, if they didn’t want one, they wouldn’t have bothered coming all the way here, now would they? That’s pretty obvious, right?
After that, the man on the stage spent some time going over the important points of how an auction is conducted, and a simple explanation of the rules.
If you are interested in an item, raise your bidding paddles and state your price, and the person with highest offer will win the bid. If the price goes beyond what you can afford, give up. Under no circumstances should you do something like digging your own grave by going over your budget, so be careful.
Well, it was a bunch of stuff like that.
Although this stuff is pretty obvious as well.
“Well then, let’s begin! The first product is this one!”
And then, after waiting until the time was ripe, the doll was presented on stage.
It was a female doll. Life-sized.
“Ah, so that’s what they meant by illegal products.”
It looked to be very popular, as a number of paddles went up and a fierce bidding competition began among the people in the venue. After a close contest, a rich-looking old man won the bid for a high price.
“I wonder if all the dolls are of that type?”
“No, I don’t think that is the case. If my information is not wrong, then the dolls that caused this series of incidents were also purchased here.”
However, from what I saw on the stage, the second doll was also a life-sized female doll, as was the third one.
What the heck is up with this auction?
I started to show an interest in the dolls that were being presented on stage after the voices of the people around me gradually started to get more and more annoying.
“Alright everyone, here’s what you’ve been waiting for! Here it is! Our featured product this time around!”
It was a normal sized doll, about the same size as the doll that had been placed in my inn room.
Looking closer, I saw that it was wearing the same kind of gaudy dress that the doll in my room had been wearing, and was overall quite similar in appearance.
Well, to put it simply…
“Isn’t that the one?”
That’s how it was.
Since she was correct, I nodded.
“……Actually, what’s with that doll? Are they trying to pick a fight with me?”
“Calm down, calm down.”
As expected, the doll was another one of those twisted creations.
“Please take a look at this one! In order to make it realistic, this doll uses actual human hair!”
The man on the stage seemed somehow excited as he shouted that.
“And what’s more, it’s ash-grey in color! Not only is it a rare color, the hair is glossy and extremely beautiful!”
Well then, just who is the owner of that beautiful hair?
That’s right, it’s me……probably. No, I’m almost certain that it is mine.
The audience went crazy over how beautiful it was. People started shouting in a frenzy from all sides, and it it got so bad that I could no longer tell if they were shouting in appreciation or just screaming.
What the heck is going on? That’s my hair, you know?
“They’re messing with me. This calls for a slaughter.”
“Well, calm down a bit. Those customers don’t know how the hair was acquired. They are not to blame.”
Selena-san made a show of soothing my tempter.
“What’s more, this entry was submitted to the auction by the Slasher who has spread fear among the public! What do you say? Isn’t it amazing!?”
The people at the venue got even more excited on hearing the man’s words.
“Dammit, they make it so hard to take their side.”
Sheila-san slumped her shoulders. Perhaps she got tired of trying to be rational.
“By the way, Sheila-san. We’ve discovered that that doll has been put up for sale by the Slasher, so now what?”
“Isn’t it obvious? We win the bid, and then discover the identity of the seller.”
As I was nodding to her idea, the auction had begun. The man on the stage banged his wooden mallet on the table.
“Well then, the starting price is one gold coin!”
With that sound as the start signal, bidding paddles started going up all over the venue and the shouts of people came from all directions.
Two gold, three gold, five, seven, nine, ten, twelve, fourteen, fifteen—
The price for the doll which had hair that was stolen from me continued to rise at an insane rate. The inflation in price was unreal. It was skyrocketing.
“It looks like winning the bid is going to be difficult.”
“……I guess so.”
As the price for the doll crossed the twenties and started to approach thirty, my stress increased proportionally and I was about to reach my limit.
All of a sudden, something within me snapped. Probably because of my hair that had been cut off.
I stood up from my seat.
“Sheila-san. We don’t need to win the bid, there is a much more convenient method available.”
“Twenty nine gold! Any other bids? No one else? In that case, sold for twenty nine—”
Oh no you don’t.
I won’t let you do something like that.
Just as the man shouted the final price in a loud voice and was about to swing his hammer down,
A beam of light extended from my staff and blew the hammer away. After spinning a few times, the hammer that was blasted out of the man’s hand fell onto the stage.
“Huh? What the heck—Owaaaaaaaaaah!”
While I was at it, I sent the man flying as well. He was in the way.
As the venue became noisy because of unexpected incident, my footsteps echoed coldly. I could feel the stares directed at me increasing as I approached the stage.
What’s going on? Hey, look at that hair. It’s same color as the doll’s. Don’t tell me that’s from her? Hey, isn’t this starting to look pretty bad?
The people were saying things like that.
“Do any of you know the identity of the person who submitted that doll to the auction? Are you aware of where the hair used to make that doll came from?”
As I walked towards the stage, I raised my voice and spoke to the entire venue.
“No, I’m certain that you knew it. You knew that the Slasher is the person who created that doll, and that the hair was from one of his victims.”
That hair, which happened to be mine.
“Now, listen closely. Maybe you lot think that you’re innocent because you’re just purchasing the items, but the instant you purchased these dolls you are guilty of the same crime. No, the instant you set foot into this venue, you became guilty of the same crime. This is a crime that deserves death.”
With a loud footstep, I stepped on to the stage.
“The culprit is probably here, in the crowd. They are the kind conceitful person who takes great pains to make beautiful dolls and then go to the effort of putting them up for auction, after all. So I’m certain that they are here, waiting to see what kind of price their doll will fetch.”
After saying that, I lifted that doll up by its neck.
“However there are a considerable number of people in this place. There are likely a few hundred people here. Finding the culprit among all the people here would be a daunting task—and that being the case, I gave the matter some thought.”
I thought about how to catch the criminal.
However, despite that, I could not find any answer. More accurately, it is impossible to do. And to be frank, I stopped thinking about it halfway through.
“I’m sure there is only one culprit, but all of you here are accomplices, right? A person who steals hair from other people, uses that to make dolls, and then sells them without so much as batting an eyelash is of course a sinner, but you people who want to buy them even knowing about that are also equally sinful.”
“That makes me very angry, and I want to do something to get rid of this anger, so I have decided to send everyone here to the afterlife. As for how, well, it will probably be something like this.”
The doll’s neck broke with a loud sound.
“As for the rest—it will be something like this.”
The doll’s hair cleanly came out of its head.
“And then—maybe something like this as well.”
The doll’s four limbs were separated from its body and the pieces fell to the floor.
“Right then, who wants to get erased from existence first? Are there any volunteers? Ufufu.”
Hearing my voice echo throughout the venue, I realized that the venue was bigger than I had imagined. I also realized that the other people present had all gone silent.
I waited a little while, and then I waited some more, but nobody said anything.
Do they think they can get away by remaining silent? They are taking me lightly indeed.
I stepped on the broken doll, and then continued to slowly grind my heel into it.
“I see the culprit is staying silent. Well then, let’s start one person at a time from the right side, you will end up with the same fate as this doll. ”
Right after I said that,
“How could you do something so horrible?”
I heard a voice, coming from somewhere in the venue.
It was the voice of a woman.
“That doll belongs to me, you know? Do you understand what that means? It’s vintage. It’s not something that you should be handling so roughly.”
It sounded like that woman was quite angry. With long strides, she walked from the customer seats and up to the stage.
“Hmm? Have we met somewhere before?”
Her face looked familiar.
“Ever since you came to my shop yesterday, I’ve been thinking only about that hair of yours.”
Now I remember.
This person is the owner of that doll shop. She’s the owner of that doll shop that gave me nothing but bad vibes.
“Your hair is very beautiful and rare. I’ve never seen such wonderful hair, so I couldn’t resist taking a little for myself. Are you angry?”
I continued to grind my heel into the doll, to show her how I felt.
“Oh my! You look wonderful even when you’re angry!”
The lady was wriggling her body around like a young maiden in love.
“Why do you insist on putting real hair on dolls?”
“Isn’t that obvious? It’s because I want to make these beautiful and wonderful creations even more popular! When you put real hair on a doll, they become so much more lifelike. That’s why, in the beginning, I cut my own hair and put it on dolls. But after a while, I started to want something more, and I started using hair from other people. I manipulate the dolls from a distance and have them cut hair from girls. The expressions of despair and anger that girls make when they lose their long hair are really wonderful! At some point, the very act of cutting the hair became so much fun that I couldn’t stop! Ah, such a wonderful feeling!”
I felt disgusted.
I drew away from her in disgust.
My poor hair is so unfortunate, being cut off for such selfish reasons.
“Right then, Magician-san. Are you going to give into your anger and attack me? Just so you know, I’m a witch. Do you know what that means? We witches stand at the top among all magicians. You have no chance of defeating me. Are you going to give in to your anger and attack me, in spite of that?”
Umm, I’m a witch too.
Since I had taken off my brooch before entering her shop, she probably misunderstood that I am just an ordinary magician.
“Come on. Hey, come on. What are you going to do? Show me how your face looks when you are overtaken with rage!”
The woman just continued to get worked up by herself.
I just gave her a pitying look and said one thing to her.
“—Unfortunately, this is the end of the line for you.”
Immediately after I said that,
A cage just large enough to hold one person dropped down from above and trapped the woman. Her hands were bound with special handcuffs that had chains to restrain the fingers, to make it impossible for her to grip her staff.
The whole process took only a second.
In just one second, the woman who was ranting by herself on the stage turned into some kind of freakish exhibit.
“Hey there. Thanks for the help, Elaina.”
Sheila-san’s voice echoed from some place within the venue. By the way I saw a coil of smoke rise up as well, but after an announcement over the PA that smoking was not allowed inside, the smoke disappeared.
The cage was created by Sheila-san’s magic, to capture the criminal.
Taken by surprise, the woman banged on the bars of the cage with her hands that were forced open by the handcuffs.
“What are you doing? What do you think you’re doing? You’re angry, right? Are you satisfied with such a dull ending? You should be more angry!”
I couldn’t tell what made her so angry.
I couldn’t understand why she would use human hair to make dolls, but her desire to see the despaired and angry expression of girls was even harder to understand.
Even so, it gives me a bad feeling.
People like her really don’t understand anything.
I put the biggest smile I could on my face, and told her one thing.
“Obviously, I’m putting forward my best effort to do the thing you hate the most, precisely because I’m extremely angry with you.”
Let me give you a brief account of what happened after that.
The incident was safely resolved.
And so, having safely recovered my lost hair, I immediately used magic to repair it and turned my hair back into its usual silky and glossy long hairstyle. Welcome back, my hair.
Also, we managed to capture the criminal. Oh wait, I guess you already know that.
Her modus operandi, in brief, was to use magic to control dolls from a distance. If she wanted to, she could have probably operated that doll that was on the stage as well, but since I smashed it to bits without wasting any time, she had no choice but to put in an appearance herself.
After being captured, she was taken out of the country by Sheila-san—to a nearby branch of the Administrative Bureau of Magic.
Once there, she will be dealt with appropriately.
“I recommend that she be given a death sentence.”
Sheila-san, who was escorting the criminal, furrowed her eyebrows when she heard me say that.
“Unfortunately, the only thing she did was to cut people’s hair, so I don’t think she will face very heavy charges. At the very least, there is no chance of her being given a death sentence.”
“That is not acceptable. Please execute her.”
“Don’t ask for the impossible, you idiot.”
“She should pay for her sins against my hair. So an execution is appropriate.”
“But your hair is back to normal, isn’t it?”
“Then I’ll cut it off again right now.”
“What is driving you to go so far…?”
Well, if I had to put it shortly, it’s the anger I feel for the criminal?
Even while Sheila-san and I were talking, that criminal was saying things like “Fufufu” and “How nice….” while drooling. She’s not repenting for her actions one bit.
I’d love to give her a good beating with all my strength, but I get the feeling that it will just make her even happier. So troublesome.
“You look like you’re thinking pretty hard about something.”
Sheila-san slumped her shoulders as she said that.
“Well, don’t worry about it. Once we reach our destination, she probably has a more harsh punishment than execution waiting for her.”
“……? What do you mean?”
“Oh, I don’t know. What do you think?”
After trying to pass it off with a vague smile, Sheila-san levitated the cage with magic and got on her broom.
“Well then, I should get going. I’m in a bit of a hurry.”
“Let’s meet again, Witch of Ashes-san.”
She is a witch of the Administrative Bureau of Magic. And I am a traveling witch.
I doubt that we will ever meet again, but sure, why not.
“See you around, Witch of Midnight-san.”
Once again, I put a wide smile on my face.
And now, for some further facts about what happened later.
The 『Witch of Midnight』, Sheila , hung the large cage from the handle of her broom and flew away over the grasslands to the nearest country that had an Administrative Bureau of magic branch.
There are branches of the Administrative Bureau of Magic all over the world, so the Slasher was on her way to a branch the very day after the incident was settled.
Once Sheila reaches a branch office, submits a report, and hands over the criminal, she will receive a fairly sizeable sum of money from the branch office.
This is how those magicians who wander from place to place while resolving problems live their lives.
“Ah! I was wondering who it was, so it’s you, Master!”
By the way, there are many such magicians who wander from place to place while resolving problems.
Sheila’s student was also one of them.
“Oh, so you were here?”
“I just got here. I’m a little short of money, so I wanted to check if there were any jobs available.”
With her black hair waving slightly, Sheila’s student looked at the cage that stood beside her.
“……If you’d like, I could take that job off your hands.”
“What are you, an idiot? The job is pretty much already done.”
“Which is why I wanted to take it off your hands.”
Sheila let out a sigh.
“What did this person do? Her eyes are sparkling strangely.”
The woman in the cage looked exhilarated at the sight of the new person.
“Ahh… So cute! I’m sure she’d be even cuter when she’s angry!”
She was saying things like that, but luckily those words didn’t reach the student’s ears.
“This one? Umm, well you see….”
Sheila thought for a bit about whether it was okay to tell her the details and then,
“This woman here is the Slasher who went around cutting off people’s hair.”
“Not only did she go about it in a pretty horrible way, She was even vicious enough to cut a traveling witch’s hair, so I captured her and was about to deliver her to the branch office here.”
“Oh? She cut a traveling witch’s hair?”
Sheila suddenly gave a bright smile.
“It was a witch with beautiful ash-grey hair.”
“A traveling witch with beautiful, ash-grey hair? Hmm…..”
“Also, she was wearing a tricorne identical to yours.”
“A tricorne identical to mine? Hmmmm…”
“Oh, and she was also wearing a necklace identical to yours.”
“Oh, really? I see.”
Sheila felt that with every sentence she said, her student’s smile started to get more and more eerie.
She also heard the cage next to her leaking words such as “I don’t know what’s going on, but I can see that she is angry!” in a tone filled with anticipation.
The student spoke with a smile still fixed on her face.
“Could you tell me more about that, in detail?”
By the way, the student’s name was Saya.
Afterwards, the Slasher found out.
She found out just how lukewarm the despair and anger of girls who had their hair cut off was in comparison.