“‘There’s no need to worry’…huh.”
I heard the state of my friend through the regular reports on Torin by Rakura, and I answered with only that.
“His extreme behavior stands out a bit, but my friend is my friend. It has been ascertained from Barastos’s investigation that his memories will return as long as something is done about Soraid, right?” (Marito)
<<Yes. To be more precise, it is the destruction of the staff or having the mana that’s maintaining the spell run out.>> (Rakura)
He has weaved a complicated spell inside the staff, and the user supplements the mana for the sake of the activation and adjustments of it, huh.
It seems like it is an enchanted item that has a spell imbued in it, but there’s often cases when weapons with complicated constructions show inconveniences when hit too strongly.
The fact that he is carrying it around means that it is a staff that’s hard for the enemies to be wary of.
“I was worried that he might be like that for the rest of his life, but my friend should be able to achieve that safely.” (Marito)
<<It is true that the current Counselor-sama’s brain is pretty sharp, but…his attitude towards me and Mix-chan is scary…>> (Rakura)
“Must be. He must be taking a harsher attitude especially towards you two.” (Marito)
Mix was originally the one who should be contacting us here, and yet, it is Rakura who is calling us instead.
I can tell that the mind of Mix is currently extremely shaken.
<<Can I ask the reason why? I feel too bad for Mix-chan like this…>> (Rakura)
“I as a brother would like to say that she should notice herself though. Well, fine. My friend excels at getting a grasp of the distance between people. It shouldn’t be an issue to assume that this ability of his is still present even when he has gotten a bit younger.” (Marito)
<<Right. He finished the interrogation of the captured person called Smythos-san really easily the other day…>> (Rakura)
“The reason why he is especially wary of you and Mix must be because you are way too close. That’s why my friend is most likely taking a harsh attitude towards you two, so that he creates distance.” (Marito)
If he doesn’t like how others close the distance, he either creates the distance himself or has the other party move away.
<<Even if you tell me that… Ah, it seems like he is awfully close to Ekdoik-niisan though.>> (Rakura)
“That man is unexpectedly good at getting along with others. I would say he managed to get permission to get close to him after he tried to distance himself.” (Marito)
Also, what Ekdoik feels isn’t love, so it wouldn’t turn into a problem.
<<Uuh…that’s not fair…>> (Rakura)
“Even if you complain to me… It would be one thing if it were my little sister, but I don’t feel like dealing with this seriously.” (Marito)
<<You are so cold, Your Majesty…>> (Rakura)
“I am not such a brute as to be kind to the love rival of my little sister after all. If you don’t want to be treated coldly by my friend, you will have to interact with him as if he were someone else. He will treat you like a normal person if you do that at the very least.” (Marito)
My current friend is in the end a new personality that was brought from the past. If you take that into consideration and interact with him properly, you should be able to get close to him even if it will take longer than with my original friend.
<<I know that. But his face and voice are the exact same…>> (Rakura)
“It would be hard. I hope he will be back to normal by the time I see him again.” (Marito)
If I were to meet my present friend and he were to say ‘who are you?’ I am confident I would wet my pillow in tears every night and be haunted by that in my dreams.
This will be rough for Mix and Rakura, but I want them to do their best here.
<<*Sob*… That’s all for my report…>> (Rakura)
I sighed heavily after confirming the shine of the crystal went away.
Mix is most likely suffering a lot here.
Mix and I end up getting thoroughly dependent on the people that we get dependent on after all.
I can understand how she feels since it is the same person.
But I do have an idea as to why my friend would want to take distance in that manner.
I can’t get involved in this since I understand this.
“Let’s report to Lady Ratzel for now…” (Marito)
It is lunch right now, so Lady Ratzel and Wolfe-chan should be at the barracks.
Their re-training is going far better than imagined.
The problem would be Lord Ragudo and Gradona’s stamina.
When I showed up at the barracks, Lady Ratzel and the others really were in the middle of their meal.
But the moment they noticed me, everyone aside from Wolfe-chan welcomed me by standing at attention.
“At ease. I have come because I have something to tell Lady Ratzel and Wolfe. I don’t mind if you eat while doing this.” (Marito)
“No, we can’t really do that…” (Ilias)
Well, that would be the case for Lady Ratzel, but Wolfe-chan nodded and resumed eating. It would be easy to hang out with the knights if they were around that lax.
“Now then, I will tell you a brief summary of the report from Torin. There’s a bit of a problem, but it doesn’t seem like it is the worst.” (Marito)
The two learn about the report of Rakura. They don’t seem that flustered about it.
Well, these two should understand my friend at around the same level as me, so I did expect that would be the case.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s any need to worry about him, but I am worried about the anxiety of Mix-sama and Rakura…” (Ilias)
“Right. Leaving aside Rakura, the way of thinking of Mix is as inflexible as mine. I just hope he doesn’t corner her too much.” (Marito)
“Your Majesty, please worry about Rakura too.” (Wolfe)
Wolfe-chan complained with a displeased face.
She properly voices her opinions even if a bit more reserved than my friend.
The presence of Wolfe-chan is one of my few comforts in the absence of my friend.
“I have to worry about Mix the most as her brother. I will leave the worrying of Rakura to the two of you who are friends of hers.” (Marito)
“Wolfe and the others are worrying about the two of them equally. That’s not fair.” (Wolfe)
“Speaking of which, Rakura has her brother there.” (Ilias)
“Ekdoik-san is hopeless on that front.” (Wolfe)
I feel like Wolfe-chan has become someone who gives her opinion as it is since coming back from the Taizu Nether…
We have continued attacking the soldiers that have been at the facilities of the Torin army and the ones patrolling.
The Torin army cannot stay cooped up just because their soldiers are being targeted.
Also, there’s soldiers keeping an eye on the firm.
“Soraid…the enemies are not coming…”
“It doesn’t matter if they don’t. The soldiers of Torin are in total confusion. We should be able to get the Illegitimate to escape once Ritial comes back by doing this.” (Soraid)
“Uhm…if the enemies are not coming, we could go save Smythos—” (Komiha)
“Don’t spout nonsense -is what I want to say, but with no reaction to this degree, it might unexpectedly be an option.” (Soraid)
“! Then—” (Komiha)
“Don’t spout nonsense.” (Soraid)
“You said it in the end…” (Komiha)
We are talking about the resident of Yugura’s planet. They most likely already know that we are aiming to defeat them separately.
In that case, we have to avoid freeing the influential pawn in this scenario, which is Smythos.
There’s also the possibility that Smythos is already dead.
But it is creepy that there’s no movement.
Are they waiting for us to get ahead of ourselves and lower our guard? Or are they preparing for some sort of plan…?
No matter which it is, we can’t make any irregular actions first.
“We have to get rid of Ekdoik, who is good at setting traps, first even if we want to save Smythos. Well, the enemy must have thought that too and Ekdoik is most likely guarding the resident of Yugura’s planet—” (Soraid)
“S-Soraid! There’s a different reaction from the string!” (Komiha)
The method we are using to defeat them one by one is to leave some strings at the places that we attacked.
Komiha always carries around the strings that she procures from a special spider which she uses as her weapon.
The ones with good eyes would be able to notice if she were to place them in the air, but it won’t get detected easily if placed on the ground.
The strings have the mana of Komiha in them, and if the target steps on it, you can tell their position.
You can also check the quality of their mana even if in a simple manner. It is extremely useful when trying to find targets.
It is possible to notice those strings if you use mana detection, but she apparently is hiding them by leaving traces of her mana in the places we attacked.
“So people other than the soldiers of Torin have finally shown up at the place. What are the traits?” (Soraid)
“Uhm…a man judging by his build…and his mana is a bit different from that of a human? What is this? It feels like it is closer to the mana of a monster…” (Komiha)
The only one who matches those traits in the forces of the enemy is Ekdoik.
Ekdoik has come to investigate the place? That’s fishy.
In that case, who is in the facility where Smythos is locked in? Mix Taizu?
“Check whether he is pursuing the traces we purposely left.” (Soraid)
“…Okay. He is moving through the direction that you were trying to lead him to!” (Komiha)
We have left traces at the locations as if we headed there in order to set an ambush.
We have set traps there so that Komiha can fight at her full potential and we have a higher chance of winning if we attack there.
But it bothers me that the first one we reeled in was Ekdoik who we wanted the most.
If they have heard about Komiha from Smythos, sending the chain user Ekdoik would be a poor move.
Smythos didn’t spill the information? That’s hard to believe from the fact that she told them about the basement.
“Are there no others around him?” (Soraid)
“None. There’s a number of Torin soldiers, but they don’t seem to be disguised.” (Komiha)
The best prey is being led to the best location in the best state. There’s no one lying in wait using Ekdoik as bait as of present.
They are underestimating us…? Doubt that.
“…Alright, let’s do this. But go with the assumption that Ekdoik has some way of contacting his allies if he gets attacked by the enemy, and consider that you only have a limited time for battle. You have to defeat him by then or gravely injure him.” (Soraid)
If Ekdoik can control chains on the same level as Komiha, there’s the possibility that he can contact his allies by pouring his mana onto the chains and controlling them remotely.
The advantageous battle will be wasted if we allow the reinforcements from the enemy.
I will keep an eye on the surroundings.
“You remember the steps for when you are dealing with Ekdoik, right? You will fight Ekdoik alone, and in the case you are on the verge of being defeated, I will help you out in escaping, or I will ambush the reinforcements of the enemy. Make sure to tell apart which one it is depending on the type of sound.” (Soraid)
My attack method is sound. I can freely control the timbre of it.
Sound is outstanding for signals too, and it is also the method that can tell details the swiftest after sight.
We can also coordinate by sending out a specific sound that Komiha has learned beforehand so she is the only one who can react to it.
The sounds made resemble those of when Komiha attacks, so the risks of the enemy being able to tell this is an omen of some sort is low.
The place we are using for the ambush is a back alley that doesn’t have many pedestrians and is hard to secure vision.
Komiha and I get in our positions and wait for Ekdoik to arrive.
Komiha is on top of a house’s roof, and I am inside a vacant house.
I drop a magic seal stone at the scaffold as a countermeasure for detection magic, and observe the back alley from a hole opened at the side of the window.
The vision is bad, so it is natural to be wary of ambushes from the surroundings.
In that case, their attention would be directed at the places where the enemy would be able to peek at them.
But Komiha is relying on strings instead of eyesight, and I am observing through a hole at the side of the window.
“…He is here.” (Soraid)
I get a visual of Ekdoik walking in the back alley.
He has chains hanging in the air which he is controlling with mana, and is observing the surroundings.
I move my eye away from the hole before our eyes make contact. I speak in a low voice towards the string set on the wall.
“Komiha, check whether there’s anyone observing Ekdoik in the surroundings just in case. Make a sound from the back by using your strings if you see things are fine. Attack from above at the same time as Ekdoik reacts.” (Soraid)
There’s obviously no response, but a faint sound rang from a place deeper than where Ekdoik is.
Judging from the sound, she must have opened and shut a window of a house using her strings.
I peek into the hole matching this and check the location of Ekdoik.
What I saw was Ekdoik swiftly jumping to the side and avoiding the surprise attack of Komiha coming from above.
Alright, alright, this is fine.
Komiha is looking slightly displeased from her surprise attack having been avoided, but I can feel enough fighting spirit.
“—Komiha, right?” (Ekdoik)
“…You must be Ekdoik. I hold no grudge, but I will have you die.” (Komiha)
You obviously have a grudge. He is the comrade of the one that burned the residence and captured Smythos.
But Ekdoik must have grasped the situation with this. He began to spread his chains around.
I found traces of what looks like someone escaping in the place where the Torin soldiers were attacked at just like Comrade told me.
I went ahead while fully aware that I am being led, and things happened when I arrived at a place suitable for an ambush.
A surprise attack from above after using a sound from behind as bait.
It would have been dangerous if not for the sound of the wind and the faint killing intent.
But judging from how this woman called Komiha carried her body, her skills should be slightly lower than Yasutet.
That said, the attacks through strings are extremely hard to tell, and it doesn’t change the fact that she is troublesome.
I use detection magic to try and check the surroundings, but it seems like there’s magic seal stones scattered here and there, so I can’t use detection properly.
But I just have to fight with the assumption that Soraid is hiding nearby.
I spread the chains and attacked Komiha from several directions.
But those chains changed directions in the middle and didn’t reach Komiha.
“—It is the place you went as far as leading me to. So there’s already countless strings set around, huh.” (Ekdoik)
In that case, I won’t be able to use the chains of the True Eyes of Blindness properly.
I need completely empty space in order to create chains from my eyes.
That’s because the chains would be generated in a torn state in the middle of it if there’s matter slipped into the space.
“I am fully aware that you are above me. But…I can win against you…!” (Komiha)
I felt an attack coming from her and prepared myself by emitting mana.
I prepare myself to avoid the several slashes coming from outside my vision and confirm whether to block them with a shield of chains or not.
I could feel the strings eating into the surface of the chains, but it seems like it didn’t slice them completely.
But I doubt this is a serious attack of hers.
“You having that much confidence means that must be the case. But I have no intention of lowering my guard and losing either.” (Ekdoik)
Comrade said: my opponent has a talent that has an advantage against me. I am several times above her when it comes to the base ability, but if Comrade says so, it means that her strings must be better than my chains.
But I myself have some confidence in my use of chains.
I am going for the win with everything I have!
“I have taken off the possibility of the enemy lowering their guard from the very beginning!” (Komiha)
I take on the strings of Komiha as I fight back with my chains.
We are both people who fight by controlling matter, so we don’t move swiftly. The strings entangle on chains, the chains entangle on strings; countless lines were being drawn in the scenery.
“There’s already a large amount of them deployed around, so I am slightly at a disadvantage here, huh.” (Ekdoik)
“No, that’s not all! My strings are…sharper!” (Komiha)
The chains that were stopped in midair were suddenly severed.
Did she strengthen the strings to increase the sharpness?
I confirm slashes coming from all directions, and form a sphere with my chains that cover all directions.
It is a barrier made by gathering the chains deployed around, but the strings were digging in as if they were slicing a soft fruit.
“I see. You can achieve quite the strengthening even with a little mana because it is strings.” (Ekdoik)
It is not like I can’t make the chains sturdier, but it is way too inefficient compared to increasing the sharpness of strings.
It results in the thin ones having more of a benefit.
“You have nowhere to run anymore. With this—” (Komiha)
“But these are spider threads, right? Then, I just have to do this.” (Ekdoik)
I increase the temperature of the part in the chains that are making contact with the strings in one go.
It is clear which one would burn first between chains and spider threads. The fire didn’t spread like normal threads, but it seems like the parts that dug into the chains have been torn off.
“Using heat against the strings?! Even though you are covering your own surroundings with chains…?!” (Komiha)
“I can just cool down the air around my body.” (Ekdoik)
The spider threads were more melting than burning.
But it is not like they are completely blocking the strings because they are heated up chains.
The sharpness of the strings is still present. I would be sliced up if they were to hit me.
I put even more mana on the chains and increased their thickness by several times more.
They won’t be sliced up immediately with this.
“The chains are thicker… In that case, let’s go sharper…!” (Komiha)
The strings were digging into the chains faster, but the strings melted faster than the chains were sliced.
I should be able to switch to the offensive with this.
I enlarge several chains and unleash them towards Komiha.
Komiha has countless strings set around her, so my attacks were not reaching her easily.
However, if the strings continue touching the heated chains, the strings will melt one after the other.
“—It can reach!” (Ekdoik)
Komiha takes evasive maneuvers for the first time after seeing the approaching chains.
It seems like I have finally finished melting the strings protecting her.
I have to capture her quickly before she deploys them again.
“If you make your strings thicker, its sharpness will decrease; but the thicker my chains are, the heavier the hit becomes.” (Ekdoik)
“But that makes them easier to see through!” (Komiha)
The thicker the chains become, the more effort I have to put in the control of it.
Also, it is easier to see them, which in turn makes it easier to react to.
Komiha must be moving by stretching her strings around and controlling their flexibility.
Her body is barely moving, and yet, she is swiftly evading my chains.
“Then, how about this?” (Ekdoik)
I stretch a single chain high above and pour a massive amount of mana in one go. And then, I change the thickness into the same width as the back alley.
I then swing it straight down, running along the path of the back alley.
I can’t make it hot with this much mass.
It can’t melt the strings, but it is possible to deal a hit that goes above the resistance of the buildings the strings are set on.
It is a strike that should crush Komiha without leaving any space to escape.
Just before the chains covered my whole vision, I saw the surroundings of Komiha being covered like a cocoon.
It must be a barrier that excels in defense by concentrating the threads in one spot.
Can the strengthened strings that can even slice through metal be able to block the impact completely?
No, that’s not it.
Rather than blocking, it is more like she is trying to deceive my perception here.
I don’t feel like I crushed Komiha with my chains there.
“So you dug the ground and created enough of an opening to hide your body right before being crushed by the chains.” (Ekdoik)
I don’t know how fast she can dig underground with strings, but it would be a foolish move to have time pass in a state where I can’t see her.
I should return the thickness of the chain to normal and follow up on the attack.
I send the order to the chain and—it doesn’t react?!
“I was waiting for that attack. Soraid told me that if I just fought on with my strings, you would try to push through with brute force after growing tired of attacking.” (Komiha)
Her voice that should not be able to reach me because of the giant wall of iron rang in my mind.
No, this is not sound but her sending her thoughts to me through the chains.
“I was thinking of doing it through the strings, but the construction applied on your chains was more polished than I thought. I wanted to touch it, but with a variety of poisons and curses on it, it wasn’t something I could touch.” (Komiha)
The chains wrapped around my arm were tightening up regardless of my will. My flesh tore, and after feeling that my bones broke, I couldn’t feel my arm anymore.
“But if you make the chain this big, you can spread out your poisons and curses on the whole surface of it, right? Then, I can touch the chain with my bare hands. I can interfere with the chains under the same conditions as you.” (Komiha)
I unraveled the chains from my body and tried to move away, but the chains moved at the same speed as when I controlled them, and wrapped around my whole body.
“I couldn’t win against you with my strings. But I am above you when it comes to using the same thing…because I have the talent of controlling matter that’s on the same level as the Hero Yugura!” (Komiha)
The arm that was tightened until crushed by the chains crossed my mind when faced against the chains wrapped around my whole body.
I concentrate mana on my eyes and activate the Eyes of Blindness.
My chains have already become Komiha’s. Then, I will create new chains and—
“I won’t let you do anything anymore! Please be constricted to death by your own chains!” (Komiha)
The chains on my whole body tightened up in one go at the order of Komiha.