The sky was beginning to get covered by thick clouds as if the nice weather of the morning had been a lie.
Time is a little after 6:00 p.m.
There’s three people walking in the corridor that leads to the cafeteria. These girls that had earth sticking onto their dirty clothes here and there were showing fatigue as they drag their legs heavily.
“What a bad weather.”
“Feels like it is going to rain.”
Looking up at the sky that has a stronger dark than usual, one of the three, Kusuhara Miki, had a clouded expression. Asagi Kaede who was right by Miki’s side also looked up at the sky and muttered lowly.
“Today was tiring…” (Miki)
“Right… Everyone was way too pumped up.” (Shiori)
Katsuragi Shiori concurs with Miki who was winding her shoulders, but she dropped her shoulders and continued walking with unsteady steps.
“It can’t be helped. It is also to train your healing magic after all.” (Miki)
“That may be true, but ya know…magic power is not infinite, Sis.” (Shiori)
The reason why Shiori is so exhausted is because Miki was more pumped up than usual.
Last night, the person they thought was an ‘ordinary citizen’ that was caught in the hero summoning, Kamiuchi Makoto, had told them the truth, and honestly speaking, there was nothing but surprise.
The man that was a former Hero and a former Demon Lord.
An extraordinary person that has saved many worlds.
Being told that story, Miki was shocked. Her first impression of him was honestly not a good one. However, since he is someone that Shiori and Kaede admiree, she thought that he couldn’t be a bad person. After conversing with him she understood that he may be aloof, but he is not someone hateful.
To think a person like that is their senior…there’s no way she would have imagined.
Kaede and Shiori were also shocked by this, so when the talk was over and they returned to their room, they were thinking about a lot of things.
And then, after the night passed, the three girls tackled training with renewed feelings. Just what kind of conclusion they arrived to -no, maybe they didn’t arrive to any, however, after hearing the story of the Demon Lord and Hero, everyone thought that they can’t stay the same way.
If they have a clear objective, they can get more into their training. In order to defeat the Demon Lord and return to their original world, there’s the need to get stronger.
“I am hungry…” (Miki)
Even so, humans get more hungry the more they move. Kaede was rubbing her stomach with no expression as usual, and Miki’s stomach makes a cute *kyururu* grumble as if agreeing with her.
“What a cute sound…” (Kaede)
“S-Shut up!” (Miki)
They do say that with three girls gathered it is noisy, but the three were lively as if flowers were blooming in their surroundings as they headed to the cafeteria, but a female knight that was approaching them from the front entered their sight.
They do remember to a certain extent the faces of the female knights that sweat in the training grounds together with them, but it is not as if they remember them all. There’s also some who they haven’t spoken to yet. However, the one that is walking in front of them is a person that has taken care of them in the training grounds.
“I hate that person.” (Kaede)
Shiori whispers with what’s probably displeasure, and Kaede was showing an emotion similar to hostility as she looks ahead.
“So you were here. I was looking for you.” (Morda)
“…Searching for us?” (Miki)
The dark purple haired female knight Morda spits out those words as if saying it was bothersome, and Miki asks while hiding slight irritation.
“No, I only have business with Shiori.” (Morda)
Being called out by name, Shiori stiffens for a moment. As if covering for Shiori, Kaede steps in front of her, and Morda snorts at this.
“Oi oi, it is not as if I am going to take her away and eat her, you know. Don’t direct such hostility towards me… It will make me want to devour you.” (Morda)
In an instant, Morda had a ferocious smile and killing intent attacked Miki and the others. No one was able to make a single move as they trembled.
“Oops, my bad.” (Morda)
Morda laughs without a single hint of actually being apologetic, and Kaede hits her trembling legs.
She can tell this is clearly a trap. Gallahart has already told them about Erac and his intentions. He told them strictly to avoid acting alone, and even if it is daytime, always make sure to be cautious of their surroundings.
But it is mortifying.
To think they would aim for the time when only the three are present, Kaede was angered internally by the fact that they are being really looked down on. However, no matter how righteous her indignation is, she didn’t show it in her face at all, calmly analyzing the situation, and turning her gears for a way to escape this situation.
But there was no great idea. More so when the opponent here is someone as strong as a lieutenant.
Even if they are called heroes, they are practically chicks, so she couldn’t imagine winning against her. Also, if the Heroes and knights were to fight in the castle, it could create a variety of problems. Even so, she has no confidence in being able to run away from a knight with their tired bodies. Once one of them gets caught, that would be it.
It was mortifying… Kaede clenched her fist, cursing her own lack of strength.
“I am not the one who has business with her, but the Prime Minister-sama. Shiori was treating the injured in yesterday’s incident, right? He seems to have something to ask you regarding that.” (Morda)
“Understood. Should I go now?” (Shiori)
“Yeah, sorry for the trouble. —Ah, it is fine for Shiori alone to go. The other two must be tired after all.” (Morda)
“But we will also go together—!” (Miki)
Miki was showing reluctance at Morda who was clearly acting suspicious, but a sharp glare from Morda made her swallow her words.
“I-It is okay. You two, go to the cafeteria ahead of me.” (Shiori)
“I think Yuichi-kun is already waiting there, and Senpai should also be there as well, so tell them that I will be a bit late.” (Shiori)
Looking at Shiori who was trembling, Miki was at a lost for words. She was looking straight at Morda, and her eyes were shining with unbreakable will.
‘Strong’, Miki honestly thought this.
Even though she is afraid, even though she should be scared to the point of tears, she is not succumbing to it at all, and this figure of hers looked dazzling to Miki.
“Then, let’s go.” (Morda)
“Yeah, let’s.” (Shiori)
Maybe Morda didn’t like that attitude of Shiori, the corners of her mouth warp with slight irritation and she walks ahead.
“I will be okay.” (Shiori)
They look at the back of Shiori who was following after Morda with the same smile in her face, and Kaede had tears flowing down from her eyes, with her face growing grim.
“Kaede, let’s go.” (Miki)
“To the place where our reliable Senpai is.” (Miki)
For a second, Kaede didn’t understand what Miki was saying, but she remembered…about their own hero.
“Miki, hurry.” (Kaede)
“Ah, wait! —Wait for me, I said!” (Miki)
Nodding energetically, she runs after Kaede. To the reliable hero that has the strength they still lack.
☆☆ ☆☆ ★ ☆☆ ☆☆
Looks like the Bald Geezer is not caring about appearances anymore.
A few hours after I was having a talk with the Queen in her room while waiting for Niva-san, in that time, I headed to the inner palace and setted up a small something as harassment, but when I was about to take a break for a bit, Yuichi and the others ran to me with a pale face.
Telling me that Katsuragi was brought to the Prime Minister’s place.
Yuichi seemed to be regretting the fact that he wasn’t together with them, and Kuzuhara and Asagi were grieving their own lack of strength. However, in terms of action to take, it wasn’t the wrong one. It is difficult to pick the correct choice particular for you. Pushing yourself and getting injured would be counterproductive.
“So he has finally fallen this low, huh.” (Caril)
“I think that’s just how low he was from the very beginning.” (Makoto)
The Queen closes her eyes in sadness, and Yuichi and the others were standing there with grim expressions.
“No need to worry. Katsuragi is safe.” (Makoto)
“Y-You can you tell?” (Yuichi)
“Yeah, I have a marker on her after all. —Ah, don’t worry. I don’t have a hobby of peeking at the privacy of others. I can only tell the location.” (Makoto)
I don’t think that alone can give them peace of mind, but I will give them a detailed explanation later. I am confirming the Marker of Katsuragi with the Invisible Window, but she is currently moving outside the castle. She is probably heading to the residence of the Bald Geezer.
“He will probably be bringing out an exchange.” (Makoto)
“…An exchange?” (Yuichi)
Yuichi furrows his brows and asks, and it seems the Queen has an idea what I am saying.
“Makoto-kun, huh.” (Caril)
“That’s most likely the case.” (Makoto)
I am the biggest obstruction for the Bald Geezer. Then, what should he do to eliminate that obstruction?
The answer is simple. —Kill me.
But from my experiences until now, they won’t attack me directly. Instead, they take a hostage first and have me swallow their conditions. After that, they will tell me that if I want the hero to be released, I should take myself out. As a plan, it is indeed a valid one, but if he thinks something of that level is enough to deal with me, you are underestimating me too much, Bald Geezer.
“We could go save Katsuragi at once, but in order to cut him off completely, it would be best to sweep him out.” (Makoto)
“Sorry, but I will have you endure for a bit. Even so, it would be painful to leave her alone, so I will be checking her state for a bit.” (Makoto)
“Eh, go check her state?” (Yuichi)
I leave aside Yuichi who is confused, and I take Dark Raven out from the Item Box.
“Kind of like a transformation good.” (Makoto)
Thinking about explaining Yuichi by showing instead, I equip the mask. The next instant, a dark light covers my body, and one breath after, my whole body was covered in a jet black attire.
“—!! Makoto-san, that look is…” (Yuichi)
“When I look like this, call me Crow.” (Makoto)
Yuichi had his eyes opened wide in surprise, and Kusuhara was speechless. Leaving aside Asagi who is for some reason having her eyes glitter, I turn to the Queen. That she is not surprised even when seeing me in this attire, should I say as expected.
“Then, I will be going for a bit.” (Makoto)
“Be careful, okay?” (Caril)
Being seen off by the Queen in a light mood, I erased my presence with [Intangible], and teleport to the place that the Marker points out.
☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆
The place where I teleported to was the room of the Bald Geezer.
“…Now with this, if I can erase that meddling brat…” (Erac)
In that room, it goes without saying that there’s the Bald Geezer -Erac- sitting on his seat with a wide smile.
“Is this really going to go well?”
“No matter how much power he has, he is still human. He won’t be able to abandon an otherworldler from his same world. On top of that, she is a healing magic user… There’s no way he would let her die.” (Erac)
So he really did aim for Katsuragi because her worth as a hostage was high, huh. What a low move.
Contrary to the Bald Geezer that is feeling victorious, the kidnapper -Morda- didn’t seem relaxed.
It is true that I have no intentions of abandoning her, but I am not so low in guard or overconfident as to be swept under by you guys, you know? If they are enemies, I wouldn’t show mercy even if they were my past comrades. I wouldn’t take their lives, instead, I would show them hell worse than death and have them regret it…the fact that they made me their enemy.
“And so, tomorrow morning, at the front of the main gate is okay, right?” (Morda)
“The castle should be in a big ruckus right now after all. Kuku…! Tomorrow is the day I become the king of this country!” (Erac)
The Bald Geezer laughs out loudly showing in full his stupidity, and Morda looks at him with a suspicious look. It looks like the Bald Geezer has fallen completely into a rampage, but…there’s something weird.
Okay, it has been a while since [Analyze]-san has gotten a turn.
[State where a keyword is required to activate.
—Percent of control: 90%]
Oh my, this Bald Geezer is being controlled.
Moreover, it is at 90%. He is totally a puppet.
But since when was he controlled by Obedient Marionette?
At the times like with Yuichi, I can confirm with Analyze when I feel something is off, but normally, the magic power is mixed up, so unless you are quite the specialist in it, it is difficult to detect. I am not always checking the Bald Geezer, so I missed it huh. Now that I think about it, his behaviour had been strange these last few days. But to think it was the effect of mind control…
What do they plan on doing by controlling the Bald Geezer who is the leader of the rebellion?
…Looks like I have to be careful about that.
I do have an idea of who it could be, but I don’t know the reason of this action.
Anyways, the Bald Geezer is being controlled splendidly. The person himself shouldn’t know that he is being controlled, but stimulating the mind to make it think that it can do anything is something common in mind control magic.
‘If it is now, I can do anything’, in that way their ego grows. It is so stupid it is pitiful just to look at.
I could free him and have him see reality, but that would be pointless at this late of a juncture. Curse your stupid self in your grave, Bald Geezer.
“By the way, where’s that maid?” (Morda)
“Maid? …Ah, Mishta. If it is about that useless woman, she is already of no use.” (Erac)
“Don’t tell me you got rid of her.” (Morda)
“Don’t be stupid. She is a personal maid of the heroes. If she were to die, it would create suspicion… But I will have her receive fitting punishment. My plans all went down the drain after all!” (Erac)
With teeth showing, the Bald Geezer roars like a maddenned beast, and Morda steps back.
So Mishta is already of no use, huh. From how he says it, and thinking about the time, there should be no mistake to say that Mishta is the spy of the Empire.
But there’s something that bothers me.
…Ah, damn it!
What’s with this. For some reason, some kind of noise is interfering with my thoughts.
“Until then, I am counting on you to look after the little girl. You will be becoming a knight captain in the near future after all.” (Erac)
The Bald Geezer tilts his wine glass in good mood, and Morda leaves the room with a ‘I will be taking my leave’. Her face was showing exasperation, and I could see that there was expectation and uneasiness in the post that was given to her.
If I remember correctly, Olfi said she would be taking advantage of the Bald Geezer’s rebellion to return to her country, so I can understand how Morda would naturally end up as captain. But isn’t it way too much of a mess?
“Are you there?” (Erac)
Not minding the attitude of Morda, Erac lowly mutters. A slight presence in the ceiling wavers, and Erac noticed this and directed his eyes slightly at it.
“A message. —Act tomorrow morning.” (Erac)
Saying only that, Erac drinks from his wine glass. The presence sways and disappears, but Erac raised the corners of his mouth and laughs maliciously.
“Kuku… Now, enjoy your last night, you fools.” (Erac)
This geezer is hopeless. Gotta do something quick.
Pressing my hands in prayer to the pitiful old man, I hurried to where Katsuragi is.
☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆
Katsuragi was two rooms adjacent.
It is like a guest room and has a decent amount of articles lined up, but Katsuragi was sitting on the bed and hanging her head down, and Morda was looking at her from her seat with a bored face.
“You are making quite the tedious face.” (Morda)
Moving her face away from Katsuragi who snorted at her, she lies on the back of the seat, takes some nuts from the opened package on the table, and begins to eat.
“It is close to meal time, so eat. Tomorrow you have an important role after all.” (Morda)
“Keh. —Keeping silent, huh.” (Morda)
Without hiding her irritation, Morda stands up and walks over to Katsuragi and grabs her hair unrestrainedly.
“Don’t go acting tough. A brat like you being a hero, leave the jokes—-Gah!” (Morda)
Now then, time to stop spectating.
I activate Silent Box, grab the head of Morda, and hit her just like that to the floor.
It was so sudden that Katsuragi was lost in surprise, but leaving that aside, I restrain her with Dirty Paralysis.
“Guh! …Wait, wa—?!” (Morda)
“Let’s have you shut up for a bit, low-life woman.” (Makoto)
I undo Intangible and show myself, and use Hypnotic Stasis to set a suggestion in her mind.
“—-!! …Hngh, aaahh…” (Morda)
“If there’s danger to the life of Katsuragi Shiori, use your body as a shield and defend her to your last breath.” (Makoto)
“Guh! …Aaah, ahhh…” (Morda)
I pour magic power to my palm that is holding her forehead, and take the conscience of Morda. The next time she wakes up, she should have become a splendid knight that protects Katsuragi. It will only last for a few days though.
“Katsuragi, are you okay?” (Makoto)
Katsuragi who absentmindedly watched the event unfold let out a confused voice, but I remembered that I still have my Crow outfit on, so I take off my mask.
“I came to check on you.” (Makoto)
I could only tell her that I am not here to save her, and Katsuragi seems to not understand the meaning of that, she tilts her head.
“—! Senpai!” (Shiori)
But her strained breathing must have loosened after seeing a familiar face, her eyes accumulated tears and she hugged me. I can’t proceed with the conversation in this state, so I continue rubbing the back of Katsuragi for a while until she calms down.
After a few minutes.
“Have you calmed down?” (Makoto)
“Y-Yes… I am sorry.” (Shiori)
“No need to mind it, you are in this kind of situation after all.” (Makoto)
With blushed cheeks, she averts her gaze, and I pat her head and smile at her. Katsuragi must have been affected by my smile, she also makes a smile of her own.
“A-And so…what do you mean that you came to check on me?” (Shiori)
“I am sorry to say this, but actually…” (Makoto)
Telling her about what I am going to do from now on and that she will be the key to this, Katsuragi’s expression clouds in uneasiness. I pat her lightly and continue explaining.
<TL: Looks like Makirus didn’t disappear from the prison, I will be fixing that. But the disappear was so ambiguous. Maybe it meant her voice fading out.>
At around the same time, there was one suspicious shadow at the knight station.
This shadow of someone that is stealthily moving with silent steps in black clothes and a black hood has two bulges at her chest which clearly told that she is a woman. She moved deftly in the station, and from the bundle of keys that was hanging at the wall, she takes one key out and exchanges it with one that she had in her pocket.
There, she noticed voices of people approaching, and in the next instant, her figure blurs out and disappears, and as if replacing her, knights entered the place.
“Hah…the night shift is a pain…”
“True… Wait, who was the one that left the keys all out in the open?”
“Eh? I put them in their place just a while ago though?”
“So it was you.”
The knight that noticed the keys left on the desk checked the keys while muttering.
“Is there anything wrong?”
“No, the numbers are correct. Looks like there’s no problem.”
“Then that’s good. There’s the underground prison’s key, so if we don’t properly keep it secured, the General will give us a good scolding.”
The knight that is talking as if it were a heartfelt pain held the key to the underground prison, and the other knight also looks at the key and says: ‘Well, it should be fine’, and shrugs his shoulders with a laugh.
“For now, let’s go eat.”
“Your treat today.”
“What. Last time was my treat as well…”
Returning the keys to their set location, the two knights leave the station with cheery voices.
After the two knights left, the black clothed woman appears again, and her eyes warp in joy.
Not knowing that the underground prison key that the knights confirmed was a key that the black clothed woman planted, she smiles at how easy going they are. The black clothed woman disappears in the darkness.