Chapter 61: The Sage Listens to the Archer’s Thoughts
Red lights scattered around the cityscape that night.
Fire rose from buildings here and there.
People were escaping into the dark night.
In the midst of that situation, I was walking around.
An angry voice filled with killing intent came from ahead.
It came from one of the soldiers who were protecting this city.
Ffom above me, they shot arrows wreathed in white light.
Those arrows, imbued with holy attributes, rained down on me.
I produced a spear with the miasma.
I spun it with my hand to deflect all of the incoming arrows.
None of the arrows managed to strike my body.
Before they could shoot a second volley, I flung my miasma spear.
The spear flew straight toward the enemy’s archers and pierced through several of them.
Their flesh was pierced on impact, followed by the sound of their blood flowing.
The soldiers who were pierced by the spear turned into ghouls after convulsing and began to attack other soldiers nearby.
I think it will take care of itself if I leave it alone.
As I made that decision, I left that area.
There were countless ghouls running around the vicinity.
They had originally been the people who’d lived in this city.
They were now eagerly biting into the living.
It had already been several days since I captured one of the Magic Kingdom’s golems.
This was one of the cities of the Demon Lord’s Territory, which was formerly part of the Empire’s territory.
The other day, the lord of territory had declared that he would side with the Empire, and began to produce weapons and tools for countermeasures against the undead.
Since he’d ignored my warning, I was forced to use my strength.
I could have just ignored it, but if I did, the same thing would happen in the other cities.
Once that happened, it would hinder the rule of the Demon Lord’s Territory.
To put it bluntly, what I was doing at this moment was closer to showing off.
It was a necessary sacrifice to ensure a smoother future.
I couldn’t be distracted by the Magic Kingdom alone.
My enemy was the whole world.
Every nation was trying to subdue me.
Apart from that, I needed to pay attention to the awakening of heroes by the will of the World.
I had no intention of repeating the same mistake.
I couldn’t neglect domestic affairs, but I also needed to consider the big picture.
The conflicts between the human nations were steadily diminishing.
There were even nations who had begun to have secret alliances amongst them.
They took the threat of the Demon Lord’s reign seriously, and thought that every nation should cooperate.
Little by little, everything was moving as I wished it to be.
I hoped this situation could keep progressing.
I heard the sound of glass breaking above me as I walked down the street.
It was a soldier. They had broken a window and had fallen.
There were several ghouls clinging onto him.
“UAAAAAAAH, let me go!”
The soldier who’d fallen to the ground desperately resisted.
The ghouls ignored his resistance, tore off his limbs and devoured him.
The cry of agony echoed together the sound of flesh being chewed.
The surrounding ghouls heard the moan and gathered around that spot.
I just walked right past them.
Even when I heard the scream of death, it didn’t pain my heart.
I just felt a little sympathy.
I was already used to it after seeing similar things too many times.
I felt that my humanity had decreased.
…Did I become a monster both in body and mind?
However, it wasn’t something that had only recently begun.
If I cared for every last one of them, I wouldn’t be able to bear to continue on as the Demon Lord.
Objectively speaking, it wasn’t a bad mindset.
A cold heart was suitable for the Demon Lord.
It wasn’t something to be pessimistic about.
I felt hatred and despair towards humans.
Perhaps I was venting my dissatisfaction by slaughtering them.
That couldn’t be helped either.
Since I couldn’t deviate from my role and purpose, I would tolerate this ugly desire.
Once I arrived at the center of the city, Henry approached me.
With a bow in hand, he greeted me in a relaxed manner.
“What the status of the area I entrusted you with?”
“Of course, I did it perfectly. I wouldn’t make any mistakes about that.”
Henry moved his bow and shot through the eye of a soldier who had been lurking behind him, all while still facing me.
The soldier who got shot froze, then silently collapsed.
From the beginning until the end, Henry was still looking at me without ever turning around.
It was a transcendental skill, as usual.
Henry had continued to train since he’d joined the Demon Lord’s Army.
His skills were being refined day by day.
In addition to his extraordinary talent, his tireless efforts had formed this man’s strength.
He also served as a combat instructor at the Demon Lord’s Army, and also received support from his subordinates.
Henry and I then walked toward the lord of the territory’s mansion.
The site was currently under assault from the undead.
By the time we arrived, the location would likely be under our control.
As we moved, Henry brought up a topic as if he’d just remembered about it.
“Hey, I heard you developed a new weapon? I heard some hearsay about it, which mentioned it would replace the bow, but I forgot its name.”
“It’s a gun. Once it becomes widespread, it will become the next generation’s main weapon.”
“Hah, but is it really as convenient as it sounds? Aren’t the weapons we have now useful enough?”
Henry shot his arrow while looking skeptical.
A soldier who had been hiding on the roof rolled down.
The soldier had been in Henry’s blind spot, but Henry had managed to shoot him from in between the wall and the roof.
“By using a gun, even a kid could kill a magician.”
“— Wow, that sounds amazing.”
Henry showed strong interest after hearing this.
He was skeptical about this new technology, but it seemed he quickly understood the effectiveness of the gun.
Nobody was as devoted to battle as Henry was.
That was why he understood the value of guns.
“You could do a test-fire if you go to the laboratory. Do you want to try it once?”
“Ah, I’ll do just that.”
Henry gladly agreed.
Regardless of whether he would like it or not, it was better to experience it soon.
It was highly possible that the Magic Kingdom would use them once the war against them began.
There was nothing wrong with understanding its features at this moment.
“If the gun were to become the mainstream weapon, the bow would become obsolete…”
He had a somewhat lonely face.
This was a man who’d lived through the battlefield for years.
He must have had his own opinion about the great transition that was about to happen.
I spoke to him after I thinking for a little bit.
“You would still be active on the frontline. You wouldn’t be obsolete.”
“Hahaha, I’m glad to hear that. It would hurt me if I got kicked out because of this.”
Henry jokingly laughed.
These weren’t just words of comfort.
His bow would still be a powerful weapon, even if guns became the main weapon on the battlefield.
It surpassed the gun in every respect.
There won’t ever be a case where his power wouldn’t be necessary.
We silently walked on for a while.
Everywhere around us was filled with noise.
The gate was open in the distance; it was where people were running towards to evacuate.
They were driven to leave the city which had been run over by the undead.
As I looked at that scene, I suddenly said something.
“What is it?”
“Do you wish for eternal life?”
Henry raised one of his eyebrows as he heard my question.
He then shrugged and bitterly laughed.
“That’s a sudden question. What made you ask me about that?”
“There’s no real reason behind it. I’m just purely curious.”
I had been wondering about it for some time.
There were no other executives on this battlefield.
So I thought it was a good opportunity to ask.
“If I were to say yes, would it make me an undead?”
“Yes. You would become a high ranked undead which would retain your ego.”
It was something I could easily do by now.
Considering how strong Henry was as a human, he would surely become a powerful undead.
It would make him free from the concept of aging and lifespans, allowing him to live for eternity.
Henry pondered with his arms folded.
After pondering for some time, he answered in an unusually serious manner.
“That’s an interesting suggestion, but I’d prefer to remain human. I think it is a fortune to be capable of death by reaching the end of your lifespan. Of course, this isn’t meant to slight you, commander. It’s just my personal opinion.
I was silenced by his surprising answer.
Because I had thought that Henry, who loved fighting, would surely choose to become immortal without any hesitation.
“Well, I have no intention of dying in the near future. So I’ll have fun while it lasts.”
Henry said that as if he just reminded himself about it.
Then he added a suggestion to his good idea.
“If I were to have children and grandchildren, I’d advise them to work for you. Please help them when that time comes.”
“I see. I will look forward to that.”
I nodded firmly.
It was good to know about his unexpected side.
I would respect his opinion.
I wouldn’t force him to become an undead.
In fact, it was as Henry said.
It was an irreplaceable happiness to be able to die by the end of your lifespan as a mortal.
I had already abandoned such a choice and had dragged Grom into it.
As a person who had abandoned their own humanity, I wouldn’t be able to expect a peaceful death.
As a Demon Lord, I was not allowed to die to begin with.
I was to reign forever as the pinnacle of evil.
This was my endless penance.
It was something that would normally drive one to insanity.
I couldn’t force anyone else to do such an act.
It wasn’t sane to accompany me forever.
It would be better to have a decisive cooperative relationship like with Henry.
It was something that reminded me of such a thing.
Afterward, we invaded the Lord’s mansion with the undead and purged the lord, who had begged for his life.
As expected, I couldn’t forgive him.
It would serve as a warning to the other cities, so I couldn’t give a naïve response to it.
After the battle, the Demon Lord’s Army returned to the capital.
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The “Shadow” — Octo, was a Greater Demon that served Alexia.
It was born in the lightless depths of the Gonzales Sea, which had been named after the First Knight, Gonzales; he had fought alongside the first Saint, Alfrea, but had later thrown himself into said sea.
It had evolved from its original species, the puppet octopus, and possessed intelligence akin to that of a three year old human child.
This species of octopus had a bigger brain than other octopuses, which resulted in it having a bigger head. This larger head made it more unwieldy, causing it to move slower compared to other species of octopuses.
What was most notable however, was its survival strategy. This octopus, which possessed no fighting power, would sneak up on other creatures then would soundlessly cling to them. It then used a poison secreted from its suckers to take over the other animal’s consciousness and manipulated its victim like a puppet.
Afterwards, it used the manipulated creature to capture prey, which it consumed.
The manipulated creature wouldn’t be granted any food and would end up dying from starvation. Once the hapless thing died, its dead body would also be consumed, then the octopus would wander about once more to search for a new puppet.
That was the frightening skill of the Puppet Octopus.
This particular Puppet Octopus accidentally got swept over by the waves and reached the shore. It was turned into a demon by Griselda, who was that generation’s Witch.
That was Octo.
But while this Octo possessed a high level of intelligence, its fighting power was nothing special; as such, it was not favored by Griselda.
It might get stronger by manipulating other, stronger demons, but it was simpler to just use said demon directly to begin with.
It might be useful for manipulating important people from humanity’s side, but… Griselda’s faction was so overwhelming at the time that there was no need to do such a thing.
This was because Saint Lilia, who was supposed to defeat Griselda, ended up dying on her own.
This allowed Griselda’s reign as the Witch to become much longer than that of the other Witches, and her offensive forces kept growing, to the extent that she was able to completely reconfigure the balance of power in this long fought battle.
That was why Griselda wasn’t worried about her chances and why she wasn’t afraid of Saint at all.
… In the end, such arrogance caused her to underestimate Alexia, which led to her defeat. It was a foolish way to go, but anyway, Octo had gained no favor at all from Griselda.
It was just turned into a demon, then was unceremoniously discharged.
Since Octo was turned into a demon, it just unquestioningly obeyed its instincts and attacked humanity.
But originally, it was still a weak Puppet Octopus.
During its first few encounters, it knew nothing of how to quickly gauge the nuances of humanity’s strength. It just assumed that since the human had a big body, then it must be stronger. So it took over a fisherman who just happened to be passing by and attacked a nearby village using that man’s body… but it was quickly held down by a soldier that arrived and it got caught.
Humans had different levels of strength. The fisherman it had manipulated back then was actually weaker than it had expected.
It might have been different if the one it had taken over was a bear or tiger, but that was just hindsight.
Then it was presented to the King — Aiz And Ay Billberry the 13th and was sent to the underground level of the Saint’s castle.
There were many demons stored underground, all of whom were prepared for the sake of killing Alexia after she came back from defeating the Witch.
Once there, Octo was roughly forced inside a bottle that was merely filled with seawater… But once the human who had been watching over it fell asleep, it dexterously used its tentacles to open the bottle from within and escaped after stealing the keys from the human.
Using its soft body, it took over another demon inside one of the cages, turning them into its puppet, and then opened the cage using keys it had stolen earlier.
Once it had opened another cage, Octo manipulated the demon to fight against the other demon… Once they were weakened, Octo ate both of them.
It instinctively knew that by fighting and eating each other, demons could become stronger.
If only the soldier on duty during this time had reported to the higher ups that the number of demons had reduced, then Octo’s actions could have been stopped then.
When the soldier woke up, he saw that there were traces of demons killing each other and that their numbers were noticeably reduced.
There was no way the soldier wouldn’t notice, and Octo at the time also didn’t even consider that fact.
But the soldier didn’t report it.
If the fact that the number of demons had reduced while the soldier was asleep was reported, the soldier would have inevitably gotten scolded. Furthermore, depending on the severity of the situation, the soldier’s head might literally get cut off.
That was why he gave a false report, and didn’t notify anyone of this anomaly.
This soldier’s incompetence had saved Octo’s life.
Then Octo had its fateful encounter one day.
Alexia, who had defeated Witch Griselda, had become the new Witch and was imprisoned underground.
All the demons, including Octo, were released for the sake of killing her.
But Octo didn’t attack Alexia.
It had instinctively understood that she was the master it was supposed to serve.
That was why Octo became Alexia’s ally instead; it instigated the other demons, and led the escape attempt.
Octo was already on the way to becoming stronger than most of the common demons there at the time and was already the de facto leader of said demons, so no one opposed it.
As Octo successfully managed to aid in Alexia’s escape, Alexia treated it well as her closest aide.
Octo managed to clear the trial of becoming a Greater Demon. It was currently a Greater Demon who possessed comparable intelligence to humans. Using its magic to create an environment close to that of the deep sea, it could easily remain active above ground for long periods of time.
For the sake of protecting its master, Octo silently moved around the academy.
At this moment, its master was most afraid of this generation’s Saint Elrise.
So if Octo could manage to kill or manipulate her, the threat to Alexia would be removed. However, Octo knew very well that this was a near impossible thing to do.
First of all, there were no opportunities for it to touch Elrise.
Even without considering the power of the Saint, that woman was an absurd monster.
If Octo tried to ensnare her with its tentacles, it would simply be blocked by mana and quickly destroyed.
Even in the unlikely case that it successfully ensnared her, she could still repel the poison with her mana and Octo would still be eliminated.
There might have been an opening when she was sleeping, but Leila stood guard at the 5th floor. Furthermore, Diaz had also reported that Elrise deployed a barrier around her room while she was sleeping, so no one would be able to enter.
I see, so she was vigilant enough to prepare countermeasures against ambushes and tricks when she was asleep.
She wasn’t arrogant, even with her high level of capabilities. She was the hardest type of enemy to deal with.
That was why Octo decided not to target Elrise directly, but planned to direct her attention away from the academy instead.
The reason Elrise stayed in the Academy could only be because she had an inkling that Alexia was somewhere within it.
That was why it had to change this premise of hers.
If the Witch appeared in a different location, then Elrise would have no choice but to leave here.
Even so, it obviously didn’t mean that Alexia had to transfer to a different location.
Actually, it would be better for Alexia to quickly teleport away and hide somewhere, but Octo had no real say in the matter since its master didn’t want to leave.
Octo’s goal was to make it look like there was a Witch other than Alexia… In other words, to make a body double that would rampage and run about outside the academy.
For that purpose, it hid itself in the shadows and searched for students who would be plausible candidates to be the Witch.
It would be better if said candidate was as proud and arrogant as Griselda, and was also hated by people around her.
It would be no good if the candidate was a likeable person.
If anyone could easily claim that “there’s no way she’s the Witch!” then its whole plan would collapse. It needed to search for a person who people would think that “it wouldn’t be strange if she turned out to be the Witch.”
As it observed the students, Octo came across one student.
That student who ran while crying should be… yes, that splendid silver hair should be Eterna’s.
She was a student who had interacted with Elrise, and was one of Farah’s hostages from before, according to Diaz’s report.
Obviously, she was not suited for its current plan.
Because none other than Elrise had declared that “she is not the Witch.” So if Octo chose her, it would be like putting the cart before the horse.
But she could be useful in luring Elrise outside.
Even if the Witch double had to be another person… she ought to be secured as well.
As it thought that, Octo slowly approached Eterna.
A day had passed since I had given weapons to Vernell’s group.
Today, the plan would depend on whether people would come to the 5th floor after the lesson had ended.
What do I do if no one comes? This was what I worried about … This one time, all I could do was depend on the goodwill of these respective people.
Actually, I didn’t think people who were forced into it could survive the fight against the Witch, so it was better for them if they chose to do it themselves rather than them being forced.
But if they did come, I would consider them as part of the underground infiltration.
Everything was Alexia’s fault. Yes, Alexia’s.
If only she did things like a final boss would, I could immediately end it on my own. But she would immediately escape if I approached her, so it was more troublesome than just simply fighting a strong enemy.
If Vernell’s group did participate… a difficult fight was unavoidable.
There were subordinates who had power similar to that of the Greater Demon class underground. There was also one more Greater Demon to encounter before the last fight.
Its name was “Octo,” which the Witch had dubbed as the “Shadow.”
It always blocked light magic attacks with dark magic and it was enveloped in darkness, making it look like a moving shadow. It was a disgusting looking enemy.
It was the closest aide to the Witch, and had her absolute trust.
Additionally, I had actually met it once before.
You see, there was that black shadow that tried to kidnap Vernell 3 years ago, remember? That was it.
It possessed the power to manipulate other creatures, so it saw Vernell as a splendid host.
Its identity was that of an octopus-type Greater Demon; the reason it enveloped itself in darkness was because it originally lived deep beneath the sea.
It actually used water magic within the darkness, so it was always surrounded by a sphere of water.
One might wonder if an octopus could be intelligent enough to be a Great Demon, but it actually was quite intelligent.
It was once imprisoned inside a bottle, but it managed to learn how to open the lid.
Its brain might be small, but it possessed 9 brains to move its 8 legs and it also had 3 hearts.
Each limb possessed over 200 suckers; to sum it up per leg, it would total to around 1600. Besides that, each sucker not only possessed an individual tactile capabilities, but was also an olfactory organ.
On top of that, each limb was capable of moving independently without any order from the brain.
Take this with a grain of salt, but… a minority of scientists had hypothesized that if octopuses had a longer life span, they believed that these animals could have developed enough intelligence to rule over Earth.
In other words, the octopus was delicious, dexterous, smart, tough, and delicious1. It was that kind of amazing animal.
What was it again?
Oh well. What I was curious about though, was the fact that Eterna wasn’t present.
As expected, she didn’t come. But it was the obvious thing to do for her. From Eterna’s perspective, she had no real obligation to risk her life at my request.
She had merely enrolled in the Academy since she was worried about Vernell; she had no intention of becoming a Knight in the first place.
So it was no surprise that this happened.
Rather, 7 people actually came, let’s be happy about that.
“Err, Elrise-sama… did you happen to see Eterna?”
Right as I was about to thank them for coming, Vernell suddenly spoke up.
He asked if I saw Eterna, but from what I could remember I didn’t see her.
Thinking about it then, she was also absent during the lesson that day.
I was thinking about a lot of stuff earlier so I didn’t really look around. I also didn’t get to do my routine of Bishoujo Watching this day.
But, I think I didn’t meet her.
…Did she catch a cold? Then it would be better for me to quickly visit and cure her.
“I asked the person rooming with her, but it seems she hasn’t come back since yesterday either.”
Didn’t the roommate think that was weird?
Was what I thought initially, though thinking about it again, it wasn’t really that strange.
It was not rare for Knight Academy students to stay up late and not to their own rooms.
They might be studying in the library until it was late, or maybe using the training room until the dead of night.
So it was normal that her roommate didn’t think it was strange and simply went to sleep ahead of her.
Then when they woke up and saw that the person was not there, they might have just thought that the other party had woken up early and was doing early morning training.
For that person, she might have only started to become suspicious when she didn’t see the other party during class.
“Did you search the places where she usually went?”
“I searched everywhere, but… I couldn’t find her at all.”
Vernell was dejected as he answered my question.
For Vernell, Eterna was akin to family.
If she suddenly disappeared, it was obvious he’d worry about her.
“What’s the possibility that she’s just hiding because she feels guilt for not coming here?”
“There’s no such thing… I think.”
Leila mentioned one possibility.
It was possible… since Eterna had decided yesterday to not come here, it could’ve made her feel guilty leading her to hide.
Alternatively, her not showing up could also be a sign of her rejection of my request.
Something like “Don’t involve me, go do all these dangerous things on your own! I don’t want to get involved, so today I will hide! Stay away from me — !”
If that was truly the case, then there wouldn’t be any problem. The problem lay in my lack of virtue.
But on the off chance that she had gotten involved in something troublesome, then it was a cause for concern.
No choice. We had to change our plans.
I couldn’t calmly talk until I confirmed Eterna’s safety.
“Let’s search for her. It’s best if it’s merely baseless anxiety, but we can’t ignore the possibility that she is in trouble.”
And so we began to search for Eterna.
I didn’t think anything had really happened, but we needed to confirm this just in case.
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There was an underground facility beneath the Alfrea Magic Knight Fostering Institution.
This place, where normally not even Instructors could enter and much less students, was where young people who aspired to be a Knight had their real combat training against demons.
This facility, which was covered with steel for insurance in order to prevent demons from escaping, was a wide area with a radius of 30 meters, its ceiling reaching 10 meters in height where even a large demon (though they might feel cramped) could wield their power without restraint.
Why was this place necessary? It was to prevent involving unrelated people unnecessarily.
If this kind of training was done outside, demons might escape and attack a nearby village.
There could be peddlers who would just happen to encounter those runaway demons on the road.
It was also possible for the people who regularly delivered supplies and food to the academy to end up falling victim to it.
Considering those possibilities, it was natural to make a facility like this to ensure that no demon could escape.
In the past, there was a record of the same kind of activity being done on a fenced area outdoors, but since said that place was now gone, something might’ve happened in the past that abolished it.
Maybe they leapt through the fence, or destroyed it… or maybe they escaped by digging underground.
Whichever the case, it must be due lesson learned from the past.
It was in this underground training area where a hidden stairway, which not even instructors were aware of, could be found.
The previous Headmaster, Diaz, secretly made this place for the sake of hiding Alexia, which was located in a place beyond the long stairways below.
What appeared after going through that set of stairs was a door made out of stone.
Once this door was opened, two stone statues would welcome their guests
Beyond there would be a path between the statues, branching further into several paths which led to the Witch’s room, the kitchen, the living room, the comfort room… and a waiting room for demons.
The Witch’s room was so tidy that one wouldn’t think it was situated underground, but would instead be reminded of a luxurious mansion interior instead.
The room was square shaped, had a rugged stone wall and a snake like ceiling that were hidden by wallpapers.
Its floor was covered by wooden boards with carpet spread on top of it, complete with furniture like a bed, chair and table, bookshelf, and pendulum clock.
Various paintings were hung on the wall… most of them were depictions of majestic scenery of nature and the sky. And since this room was clearly secured, one could feel Diaz’s effort and care into making sure that Alexia could spend her days here comfortably.
It was the darkness below a lighthouse… No one would normally think that below the academy where knights were trained to help the Saint overcome the Witch, that there was a living space made for the sake of the Witch.
But within this space, the Witch Alexia sat on bed, biting her fingernails out of frustration.
She was an eerie woman.
Reaching until her waist, her silver hair had no sheen left on it and, at a glance, it looked white instead.
No life could be seen left in her half-lidded eyes, which were underscored by thick dark circles below her eyes.
She has sunken cheeks and her skin was slightly rough,
Her lips had turned purple-ish, while the teeth that bit on her nails had already turned yellow.
If one looked closely, one could tell that she was once a beauty, but all of it had disappeared as time passed.
If someone who knew about Saint Alexia were to see her right now, it would be hard to notice that both of them were the same person.
There was a portrait and a statue of her amongst the generations of Saint in the academy, but Alexia was portrayed there as a silver-haired beauty, and she did look like that in the past.
But in the state she was in right now, even vague similarities were starting to disappear.
Her clothes, too, were completely different from the pure white dress as Elrise’s that she also always wore during her days as Saint. Now, for some reason, she wore a deep black robe which depicted the night sky where no light entered, a robe that could meld with darkness. As she stayed on top of bed, she made no sound at all.
It wasn’t like there was a rule that the Saint, once she had transformed into a Witch, had to change her fashion and physical appearance into that of a villain.
Among the generations of Witches, there should be one who kept their appearance the same as their Saint days.
However, the fact that [ Saint = Witch ] was still not widespread was because the King of that period enforced a gag order. Anyway, there was no rule for Witch to have a villainous face.
But for Alexia, she had changed greatly since her days as Saint. If anyone said this person was once Saint Alexia, who saved the world, most people wouldn’t be able to believe it.
“Diaz… ah, Diaz. Is that little girl… did Elrise already leave the academy? Did you manage to drive her away? Ri-right… You are the academy head. You can forcefully expel her, can’t you? Right? Right?”
“oH, My Saint, NoT YeT. Elrise StiLL hAs Not yeT NoTIceD Your EXIstence. ALSo, I tolD you Before, SCHOol eXPULsion iS impossible. IT is Impossible To DRIve out tHe Saint. raTHEr, if I ForcefullY did So, I will be UndEr Suspicion, and Worst case scenario, I will get SACKED frOM mY POSitiOn as HeadMastEr. If I’M goNE, NO onE will ProTECt yoU. Please BE PatieNt.”
The one Alexia whispered to was a Styil, which acted as Diaz’s messenger.
The bird that stood above the table had repeated the words that Diaz said.
Recently, not even Diaz could manage to come here to meet her in person.
With Elrise staying in the academy, if he carelessly went down, it meant he would indirectly lead Elrise to this place… such was the reason.
“I know that, I know about that. But, how long must I keep waiting? Ever since she came, I’ve been constantly on my toes in case she might notice this place. I’m so scared I can’t even sleep.”
“I kNOw THat, I kNOw ABOut THat. But, HOw lONg muST I kEEp waitING? EvER sINCe SHe cAMe, I’Ve bEen consTanTLy oN mY ToES In CasE sHE mIGht noTICe thIS plACe. I’m SO scaRED I caN’T eVEn SLEep.”
Toward Alexia who argued vehemently, the Styil repeated the same sentence.
This bird understood nothing about what it said.
It merely repeated the sound of things that were bigger and stronger than it was.
That was why even these words would be sent as is to “Diaz.”
The Styil flew away. Alexia saw it flying into the distance, then she rolled herself into her bed sheets.
Alexia was scared of the current Saint.
She knew well because she was also once a Saint.
…that this generation’s Saint was a monster.
Elrise was unaware of it, but actually, Alexia had directly seen how she fought.
At that time, she had led a demon horde into a city to raid it… Back then, her subordinate was beaten helplessly by Elrise, and as Alexia looked at her collapsed subordinate, she abandoned them all to escape.
That was no joke. What was that?
Elrise flew up into the sky, made swords of light which rained down from above, and the soldiers who wielded those became greatly strengthened.
If she was attacked, she would reflect any kind of attack several times over, trampling everything through a magic carpet bombing.
This Saint, indeed, possessed mana beyond any normal human being. She had a unique kind of invincibility, in which any type of attack that did not possess the same attribute as her would not be able to deal any damage.
But that was all there was. It was definitely not that kind of absurdity, a God-like existence.
Because Alexia was quite capable in magic herself, it made her understand the technicalities. Elrise’s mana was already over hundred times more than what she had possessed by that point.
That was 5 years ago. And now that she was 17 years old, her power definitely did not wither, but strengthened further instead.
The power of magic depended on the amount of mana one used for it.
Even for the same type of magic, someone with 10 mana compared to someone with 30 mana would simply possess 3 times more firepower.
The amount of mana imbued translated directly as a difference in power.
But Elrise’s fighting power when she was 12 years old was already beyond 100 times of Alexia’s.
There was no way to win against this monster. Nay, no other creature would be capable of winning against her.
Alexia was aware of their difference in power without needing to fight her directly, and so she hid herself beneath the Academy ever since.
Days passed, and what she heard from Diaz about Elrise’s fight made her doubt her ears every time. The island that had taken the effort of several generations of Witches to occupy in the demon territory was taken back within a single day, and the fight against Greater Demon that Alexia had no choice but avoid during her days as the Saint was defeated within the span of 3 seconds. She realized once again that Elrise was not someone she could fight against.
This wasn’t fair.
When Alexia was the Saint, the world was filled with darkness.
That was because Saint Lilia, the generation prior to her, couldn’t defeat the Witch and ended up getting slain by demons, thus prolonging the age of darkness.
As a result, Alexia was forced to fight under a situation that was harsher than other generations of Saints.
There was pressure from the people to properly defeat the Witch this time.
On top of that, the reign of Witch Griselda was longer than most Witches due Lilia’s death, making her subordinates more numerous than normal.
Even so, Alexia endured her fear and fought the Witch.
Because it was something that only she could do, she had restrained her impulse to cry and escape… She lost many comrades and Knights during battle, and finally managed to defeat Griselda with Diaz.
Yet what awaited Alexia after defeating Griselda, was a betrayal.
Billberry Kingdom’s King Aiz confined her within the Saint’s castle and goaded demons to attack her.
In hindsight, those demons became Alexia’s comrades who eventually helped her escape, but… Alexia suddenly transformed from a Saint to a Witch that bestowed curses upon curses.
It was regretful, it was sad. It was also hateful.
Yet Alexia still held onto herself from entirely becoming a Witch and lived in hiding.
If she did become a Witch, it meant the actions of the people who betrayed her were justified. For that reason alone, she didn’t want the transformation to go further.
But, the Witch’s grudge that she received from Griselda eroded her day by day.
When a Saint became a Witch, it wasn’t like they suddenly changed their personality into something else entirely.
It was just that the memories she had were helplessly skewed and her negative feelings were amplified.
The things that generations of Witches had seen, various stains of humanity, ugly memories.
There was also her anger from being betrayed.
As these were being shown and felt, it inevitably tainted one’s heart black.
It was like white canvas slowly turning black.
A Saint’s heart was white, that was without a doubt.
But the color white was easily dyed, easily filled over.
Alexia was not an exception… At the end of her endurance, she became the Witch that the world hated.
She suffered, it was painful. She held back her fear to bring peace to the world, yet she was betrayed. Even so, she still held on.
Yet these people cared nothing about these tribulations, enjoying their peace all on their own. Alexia couldn’t stand this. She couldn’t forgive them.
This was the world that contributed to her suffering.
And so, she let up on her resistance and became a Witch.
But even as she became a Witch, Alexia once again had to endure her fear.
What awaited her after defeating one of the best Witch’s, Griselda, was to face the greatest Saint of all time, Elrise.
This was unfair. She felt like crying.
She despaired at the thought of how this world hated her so much.
She wasn’t even allowed to rampage around out of anger.
Why was she the only one to end up like this?
When Elrise entered the academy, Alexia couldn’t sleep at all.
She was afraid that she’d be noticed if she made even the slightest noise. Every single day, she trembled under the nervousness and the fear without shape that kept pressuring her.
When would Elrise notice this place? Or did she already notice?
She had a feeling that it might be better if she’d just teleport, but… if she did escape here, she would no longer have her allies around her.
The only person who could escape via teleportation was Alexia alone.
Neither the demons who stayed underground nor Diaz could be brought along.
She would be all alone. The price of teleporting was far too great because she would be severely weakened and she’d have to live outside… in a world that had been changed by Saint, completely isolated.
Currently, the world was completely the territory of humanity in which allies of Saint lived.
There was no place for her to escape. Therefore, Alexia had no choice but to stay in this place.
Even so, her fear was reaching its limit.
Her heart could no longer endure. She wanted to escape quickly.
Ah, no no, please don’t notice this place.
She kept shivering as she hoped every single day.
“YoU had SUFFered, ALexIa-Sama…”
Toward Alexia who shivered in fear, “Shadow” approached as if to snuggle beside her.
It was a bizarre existence.
Even if this was underground, there was still some light.
There was indeed no light in Alexia’s room, but there was a lantern hanging along the passageway so that the Styil wouldn’t get lost, and those lights reached Alexia’s room.
Yet, this entity was so dark that it seemed like light could not reach it.
Literally, a moving “Shadow” …it used its arm — no, she couldn’t even call that an arm — and reached out to touch Alexia’s shoulder.
“Oh ‘Shadow’ …I am afraid. Why must this happen during my generation… Does the world hate me that much? What should I do… please tell me… oh ‘Shadow’.“
“You COuld IMMediaTEly esCAPe wiTH teleport…”
“No, no good! I have no allies out there! I will be found immediately, and she will immediately come! You’re also aware right? Teleport is forbidden magic that would decompose the body… The person who’d teleport will be recomposed at the destination, but… due to that, one will lose their experience (level) to reform their body. There’s already a huge power difference between us right now, and if the difference grows even wider… there’s no way I could do such a foolish thing!”
Looking at her master who lost her previous beauty out of fear, “Shadow” silently looked at her.
If she calmly judged her situation, it was already bad for her to stay here in first place,
Ever since Elrise transferred to the Academy, she used the place as a base of her operations.
If they were to believe Diaz’s report, they wouldn’t notice this underground area, but… if that were really the case, why did they still stay even now?
In case it was true they still did not notice, they must be convinced that the Witch was within the Academy and had some kind of proof. Wasn’t it the reason they still stayed?
If so, then this place was already a danger zone. They needed to hurry and teleport away, use another location as a new base and restart her activities. This would be the best course of action..
But the Witch had no allies… and due to Elrise, the territories had switched ownerships and it made her scared to go outside.
There was already no need to fight, as the victor of the fight between Elrise and Alexia was already decided.
Territorial battle with the world as its stage was overwhelmingly won by Elrise, and the board was now filled with white.
In the current situation, there was still a spot with black, but Elrise already raised a hand to take it.
Yet the Witch was unable to escape. She was bound by fear, and she still clung desperately onto this academy.
“I UNderSTanD… In That casE, I WiLL ReMOVe that Fear.”
“It-It’s impossible! You can’t win against Elrise!”
“CalM DoWn… I Also doN’t ThiNK I could Win against That MONsteR. tHE rEASOn she is STAyInG Here, IS Because ShE iS AwaRE thAt Witch-Sama IS SoMEWHere NEaRBy. IN THAt Case, IF I AnSWEr that DOUbt… She will lEAVe here bY HErsElF. I HAvE a PLAn…”
“Shadow” creepily wriggled, and the part where its eyes were located glinted.
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