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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The eight people, including Vernell’s group, who had managed to achieve great results at the Fighting Tournament after the winter vacation had been called by Elrise and gathered at the Academy’s 5th floor.
The people who were called included Vernell, Eterna, Mary, Aina, John, Fiora… also the 3rd year male student, Crunchbite Dogman.
He did look strong, but for some reason he had a certain atmosphere around him that made him seem like he’d be the first to be defeated. Why was that?
But that was okay. The problem was the last person.
The last person among those who were called after reaching top 8 — who were all supposed to be students, no matter how you look at it — was Instructor Supple Ment.
What was this person doing here again?
“…What are you doing, Instructor Supple Ment”
“Well, what do you mean? I am the top 8 3rd year student, Tom Toy”
Seemingly disgusted from bottom of her heart, Leila asked this, but Supple aloofly retorted lies that anyone could see through.
He spoke without a sense of shame.
“Oh my, Saint! Please grant us the weapon that could be given only to the top 8 students!”
Ah, so that’s the reason…
Vernell silently understood why Supple did this obviously unfair action.
For a Saint fanatic… No, for him as a follower of Elrise, he couldn’t miss the chance to be granted a weapon that was personally made by Elrise.
Vernell, too, aimed for that, and it made him more motivated to perform better in battles, even more than usual.
In the end, Elrise decided to overlook this unfair action so that nothing else would follow, then she made various weapons from the material that had been prepared by Leila.
Vernell received a great sword that was stronger than what he had received before.
Eterna received a staff with a gemstone attached on it. Fiora received a bow and arrows. John got dual swords, and Aina got a long sword.
Mary received a rapier. Supple got a sword attached to a stick by his request.
Crunchbite fought barehanded so he got knuckledusters.
Finally, Leila was bestowed a long sword, and she was so moved that she was on the verge of tears.
For someone who had once betrayed Elrise, to be granted a sword by Elrise must have been a great deal for her.
After everyone received their weapons, Elrise looked at everyone.
“First of all, congratulations to everyone for reaching the top 8 spots. I’ve seen how you fought, and I‘m confident to say that the eight people here have already attained the fighting capability comparable to a regular Knight.”
From Saint Elrise’s mouth came a guarantee that all the people present here today were comparable to regular Knights, making them do fist pumps in their mind.
The Knight she was talking about was obviously not limited to fighting capability alone.
Even if you possessed fighting power, if you were judged to be lacking proper manners and conduct to stay beside Saint or were seen to have no desire to improve, you would still be demoted.
Even so, one of the conditions of this “fighting ability” was being acknowledged by none other than Elrise herself.
This was a big deal for them.
“As such, I have a request for the eight of you.”
As Elrise put on a serious expression, Vernell unconsciously straightened his posture.
She was capable of doing most things alone.
Just simply based on fighting power alone, even Knights who were supposed to protect her couldn’t help but question the reason for their existence beside her.
And for such a person to make a “request,” it would undoubtedly be nothing easy to do.
It was a “request” for the people she had deemed with enough fighting capability… Thus, it shouldn’t be anything other than fighting.
“…But, if you choose to hear about this request, there is no turning back. I will say it beforehand, but I will not guarantee your safety. It will be dangerous, so… I am giving everyone the right to refuse it beforehand. And even if you do refuse my request, I will not blame you whatsoever. There would also be no effect on your grades.”
It would be a danger to one’s life.
When they were informed about this, Eterna and Crunchbite felt some agitation.
To be given the right to refuse beforehand showed how dangerous her “request” would be.
But for Vernell, regardless of what her request might be, he had no intention to refuse.
Rather… he was happy. Elrise depending on him made him feel proud.
“…If you intend to listen to it, come back here after your classes are done tomorrow.”
It meant she was giving them a day to think it over.
Even without doing so, she could use the Saint’s name to “command” them.
Without listening to their opinion, she could say it was something necessary and forcefully make them comply.
After all, she was the Saint and this place was an institution that trained Knights that served the Saint.
If one refused Saint’s request, it would be like placing the cart before the horse. They would be questioned about why they came here in the first place.
But Elrise didn’t do that.
She asked for people’s opinions… and if none were willing, she would continue fighting alone.
Vernell already decided to proceed.
There was no other choice than to “accept” from the beginning. He didn’t need any other choice.
Beside him, Eterna looked at him worriedly.
Vernell returned to his room and trained by himself as usual.
It had already been eight months since he first came to the Academy.
The undependable young man from early on had grown robustly, his arm having grown thicker.
His neat features became manlier, and he earned a body of steel from all his training.
Even so, he wouldn’t rest.
The place he aimed for was far higher, as he still lacked power to be a man worthy to protect the Saint.
That was why he kept tempering his body, seeking even more strength.
If he lacked strength, all he needed to do was to train more. It was just that simple.
This day as well, he carried extra weight on his back and started doing push ups to polish his strength.
At that moment, someone knocked on the door.
Vernell soundlessly stood up quickly and wiped himself with a nearby towel.
Then, he changed clothes from a sweaty shirt into a uniform, combing his hair before opening the door.
Previously, he had an epic failure when he welcomed Elrise during training, so he took care not to make the same mistake.
But… it seemed like such a thing was not necessary this time.
“What, so it’s Eterna.”
“What’s with that?”
The person standing there was a girl with silvery white hair — it was Eterna.
Her features possessed a certain sheen unlike any other common white hair, with her blue eyes like crystal. Her beautiful face and well balanced proportions made her a target of many students’ fantasies.
On top of that, unlike Elrise, who had stopped growing at 14 years old, Eterna possessed a mature air to her that Elrise didn’t have.
To be precise it was her bosom. Her chest had bloomed nicely these days.
If Vernell weren’t a blockhead who could only see Elrise alone, he might’ve gotten done in by Eterna’s charm already.
“Well… could we talk for a bit on the rooftop?”
Vernell thought of his response toward Eterna’s invitation.
He could think of three for now.
First, to accept it as it was.
Second, to ask why there was a need to do so.
And third, to respond with “Since it’s a waste of time, I’d like to continue my training.” It was quite a dastardly response.
“I’m sorry, I still want to train.”
After about a second of thought, Vernell responded like a jerk.
It might lower Eterna’s favorability, but unfortunately Vernell wasn’t sharp enough to notice.
This man truly only saw Elrise and nothing else.
The person who noticed this was Vernell’s roommate, a person with a needlessly cool name: Sylvester LordKnight. At Vernell’s response, he thought, “Uwah.”
But it seemed Eterna had already considered that he would answer this way, so she only pinched Vernell’s cheek and forcefully dragged him out.
As Eterna pulled him over, they went to the rooftop. When they arrived, he caressed his own cheek then faced Eterna.
Why did she bring him to this place?
If it was just to talk, they could have just talked right there.
Yet she went through effort to bring him here, so it must be something that she didn’t want anyone listening in on.
If so, did she want to tell him about someone she loved?
Or perhaps it could be a consultation regarding “That Power” that was also possessed by Eterna.
But far from his expectations, Eterna asked the most obvious thing — at very least for Vernell, it was something he already had an answer for a long time ago.
“Well… I have to ask at least, but as expected, you intend to go to Elrise-sama’s place tomorrow?”
It was an instant response.
He answered without a moment of hesitation.
Elrise had requested his help.
It was something he was happy about, and he knew there was nothing to be worried about.
The people who stood there… at the very least John and Fiora, as well as Supple, should have the same sentiments as him.
But it seemed like it was not the case for Eterna.
“Hey Vernell… could you not go?”
“…I see. So you don’t want to go, Eterna.”
Vernell wasn’t surprised by what Eterna said.
Eterna came to this academy only because she was worried about Vernell in the first place.
She wasn’t like Vernell, John and Fiora who had a great debt to pay toward Elrise, and she also didn’t worship the Saint like Supple did.
She didn’t seek honor like Aina did either.
For her, it was no surprise that she wasn’t inclined to go to a place that had been declared as dangerous.
Why did she consult me? Perhaps Eterna didn’t wish to be alone in being left out and get the backlash for it… or so Vernell thought.
“It’s okay Eterna. Elrise-sama is not a person who’ll get angry if you don’t come tomorrow. It’s natural since it’s said to be dangerous for one’s life. Everyone will understand. That’s why you don’t have to be ashamed for not going…”
“Wrong, that’s not what I meant! It’s not about me, but you. I don’t want you to go!”
Eterna, unable to hold it in due Vernell’s misplaced consolation, shouted.
Eterna wasn’t worried about herself.
She saw Vernell happily jumping over to danger. That was what she was worried about.
She understood that he only saw Elrise.
From the past… and from the first time they met, he had always dreamed of being a Knight of Elrise.
For him to be needed by Saint meant his dream had come true.
But Eterna was unable to be honestly happy about this.
Because Vernell died during the last incident.
He did get saved last time, but there was no assurance that the same could be said next time.
“Hey, please stop this! Since even Elrise-sama said it’s dangerous, then it must really be something serious! This time you’ll really die!”
“Maybe I will.”
“Maybe I will, you say… are you okay with that?! Nothing will change even if you don’t go! She is strong and capable… so she could take care of it alone!”
Vernell partly agreed to what Eterna said.
It was exactly as she said.
Regardless of whether he went or not, nothing would change.
If it was Elrise, then even if she was alone she’d be able to break through all problems and shine the world with light.
But, he didn’t want to let it be.
This was because Vernell always trained for the sake of not letting Elrise fight alone.
“Sorry, Eterna. I’ve already decided. That day… when no one needed me, she embraced me. She cried for me. If it weren’t for her, I would have already cursed everything in the world and become such a helpless person”
Until he met Elrise, Vernell had lived in darkness.
He was abandoned by his family, cursed as a monster… unable to control his own power, and was as good as trash.
The person who accepted this Vernell and wished for him not to give up on happiness was Elrise.
Vernell had sworn on that day.
Regardless of whatever happened next, he would believe in light… believe in her.
“What was that… even I… even I… about you…”
Eterna looked down, and as if to escape from him, ran away.
Vernell was unable to chase after that retreating figure.
Eterna : Well… could we talk for a bit on the rooftop? Vernell : …
That’s okay but, the rooftop is cold, so wear these on top of what you’re wearing (Favorability +) Ok, I understand. (Favorability ±０) ⇒ Sorry. I want to train by myself a little more. (Favorability -)
Drop all favorability except for the targeted heroine. (Galge Brain)
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Chapter 53: Preparing for the Breakthrough
You thought the flag would be raised?
Nah! Don’t expect that from me!
And so, here was Elrise who had safely returned to the academy after the Birth Festival.
Except for getting a birthday present from Vernell who had accompanied me, looking around the festival was all I really did.
We just walked around the town and talked about what the city had been like before, which parts had changed, that kind of talk.
As anyone who’s played the game would know, this was a nation without any restaurants, so even if you lingered around, rather than stopping for a warm meal, you could only watch people having snowball fights.
As for why there were no restaurants… While it’s getting better now, there were a lot of people who had died of starvation up until quite recently. There were so many corpses that piling them all up would’ve made a tower so high it would’ve touched the clouds.
The situation was especially bad during winter. In fact, it was so harsh that amongst five kids, two of them would never make it past the coldest season and end up dead.
Parents selling or abandoning their own children to reduce the mouths they had to feed was considered a common thing to happen.
In cases where food cost insurmountable amounts of money and hunger became the new norm, nobody could afford to open a restaurant.
Even if they had enough food to do so, any sane person would rather stockpile it for their own family’s sake.
At least now with the cultivation of potatoes, the number of deaths had reduced but still, no one had enough leftovers to open a restaurant.
Everyone was desperate to make it past winter.
And so, winter vacation ended and the 3rd trimester started. As if that wasn’t enough in and of itself, the Perverted Glasses Bastard who had gotten arrested had ended up escaping from prison and coming back.
In the game, the 3rd trimester was the climax.
The first event was the all year Fighting Tournament I’d talked about before.
This Fighting Tournament was quite important in the game.
At this point Elrise had already been punished and left the stage, and Eterna had been appointed Saint.
Moreover, during this time, the Guard Knights tasked with protecting Eterna were lacking in numbers.
The reason for this was that during Elrise’s generation, Guard Knights were only selected if they were Elrise’s Yes Men, and Guard Knights who had the ability to be proper advisors like Viscount Fox were driven away, so all those left were the ones with prestigious parentage and handsome faces, most of whom had questionable combat skills at best.
(On a side note, I did make sure to choose them based on their ability instead so most of the current members are different.)
Obviously, there was no way Eterna could trust them and so everyone but Leila had been demoted to common knights. This had led to an unusual situation where Leila was the only one who had gotten to keep their position as Guard Knight.
Even though Elrise had already been exiled, Eterna was unable to trust knights that had been chosen by Elrise, so the plan was to appoint the top 4 participants in the tournament as Guard Knights.
On the same note, Vernell had to reach the top 4 at all costs (a failure to do so would result in a “game over”). At this point, your rank would make all the difference concerning Eterna’s favorability towards you and if you managed to rank 1st, you could even replace Leila as Prime Knight, so it was preferred to aim for 1st rank during this event for Eterna’s route.
But that was how things were within the game. This was different.
In this world, the posts for Guard Knights were filled and so there was no lack of them currently.
Which would mean that even if you managed to emerge victorious, you would not be appointed as Guard Knight.
Well, it could still affect any future evaluations though!
Seeing as strong students were still necessary for the Teleport Sealing Operation, however, the tournament was still an important event in finding the needed manpower.
Now that I think about it, we might have to rethink the Teleport Sealing Operation.
The reason this operation was even necessary was because nobody knew the location the Witch would teleport to.
But now, we had the cheating turtle who was capable of observing everything in real time on our side.
Now all I had to do was to protect the end flag, Eterna’s village, let the Witch teleport away on purpose to make her weaker, ask the turtle about her location and, finally, chase her down. There wouldn’t be a problem, I thought, confident in myself.
And so, I went to the pond behind the academy for confirmation for whether my plan would work or not.
“Fumu, I indeed could. If it was me, I could determine the location of the Witch.”
I mentally fist bumped as I heard the turtle’s words.
And just like that, the greatest problem had disappeared.
If we could locate where the Witch teleported to, we wouldn’t have to go so far as to go through with the Mana vacuum operation.
In that case, Vernell’s group wouldn’t have to be exposed to unnecessary danger, and I could end it all by myself.
If I could figure out where she’d run to, it’d be my victory.
Though I could not move as fast as teleport magic, I still had “Festina Lente (Haste Make Waste)”
Even if she ran to the other side of the world, I should be able to chase her down.
On top of that, the Witch teleporting weakened her, so it would reduce the challenge of beating her considerably and I’m not one to scoff at an easier difficulty.
However, the turtle just had to be a killjoy.
“You must know that there is one exception. There is something I can’t observe. Your “barrier”. The moment you deploy the barrier in your room when you go to sleep… I’m unable to observe anything inside of it.”
This exception that made the turtle unable to observe my room… I had already expected something like that.
As expected, it couldn’t see things inside of the barrier I had deployed.
This was great news to me. It meant I could still protect my privacy.
But my happiness at this revelation was not shared by Leila who was listening to us from nearby, as she put on an expression of displeasure for some reason.
“Prophet-sama… but that means you tried to peek into Elrise-sama’s bedroom… is that really the case? Because if so, even if you are Prophet-sama…”
“Wa-, wait, calm down! I am a turtle. And a female one on top of that! There’s no way I’d ever pine after a human female, you know!? Hey, Elrise! Stop her, please!”
The turtle hurriedly defended itself against Leila’s accusations.
Her impatience was based on the premise that the animal could predict the future… Did that mean Stocco was seriously about to hit this turtle?
Stocco, stay. Don’t bully this turtle or it won’t want to cooperate with us anymore, which would be quite troublesome, so stop it.
As I reached out to stop her with my hand, Stocco glared at the turtle, but slowly put down her fist.
On another note… this turtle was female, huh? I’d always thought it was male.
“Fuh-… What a short tempered girl. Anyway, it’s not like I can observe everything, anyways. There’s a possibility of the Witch using the same kind of barrier to hide, so letting the Witch teleport away only to fruitlessly chase her around… I can’t recommend such a tactic. By my predictions, once the Witch teleports away, she will use magic to hide because she’ll fear being found by you again. That would only make it more difficult to find her once more.”
“Can’t you predict where she will teleport to?”
“It’s not that I can’t, but there are too many candidates for her to choose so the accuracy of my predictions will suffer. It’s not a good gamble to make. At best, it should only be the backup plan in case she manages to get away.”
I had thought it was a good plan but it had gotten refused.
Damn… I was starting to get irritated by Alexia’s cowardice.
To think it was this troublesome to face a boss character that escapes as soon as it’s found…
If you are a boss character, at least act like one and wait on your throne like a good villain.
It’s boring to be a boss who’s prepared to escape immediately, Alexia.
“In the end, we can’t change the plan… I see.”
“Yes. Since we know her current location, it’s best to just end everything here at the academy. Our best approach is to find a way to stop her from teleporting altogether. Just treat me as insurance in case she manages to escape after all.”
In the end, the plan stayed the same as it had always been.
There was no way things would go this conveniently, which was extremely frustrating.
Even though I was capable of many things, all I could do was to leave everything to Vernell’s group, making me feel even more miserable.
At the very least, I could still help prepare everyone’s equipment…
The Fighting tournament ended as expected with Vernell’s group dominating the top spots.
Winning 1st place was Vernell, Aina made 2nd place. 3rd place was Mary and 4th place went to Eterna.
Mob A and Fiora were included in the top 8.
The ranks were slightly different from before but it was luck of the draw after all.
Mob A fought Mary for the quarter-final, after which Mary went up against Vernell for the semi-final, ending her fight there.
Meanwhile, Eterna had improved her magic prowess considerably to the point where she even managed to get to the semi-finals, and while she lost to Aina, she’d still managed to put up a good fight.
The explanation seems almost too simple but I didn’t know how to explain it in detail.
In the end, Vernell’s group had gotten stronger and ended up winning. Easy as that.
And so, after the conclusion of the tournament, I called the 8 best fighters to the 5th floor.
From now on, we’d need to train these 8 people and follow our original plan in order to reduce the Witch’s MP.
I had wished to increase the number of Guard Knights, but… according to the turtle, 8 seemed to be the limit.
If we increased the amount of people on this mission, the Witch wouldn’t think of it as “Students who just happened to enter the lair” and the possibility of the Witch immediately escaping would increase drastically. Alexia, enough of your cowardice already.
The two people standing next to Vernell’s group were also part of the top 8, with one of them being a muscular man from 3rd grade. His name seemed to be Crunchbite Dogman.
Just going off of his name I got the feeling he’d end up being the underdog1 who’d fall to the enemy first.
The other person was a 3rd grader as well. They were a suspicious person wearing a hood, but…
“… What are you doing, Instructor Supple Ment?”
“Well, whatever could you mean, I wonder? I am part of the top 8. 3rd grade student, Tom Toy, reporting for duty.”
In front of us, was the Glasses Bastard who was wearing a hood for some reason.
He answered Leila’s question in an aloof tone, trying to make himself sound younger, but at the end of the day it was still Perverted Glasses Bastard no matter how you looked at it.
It seemed he had mixed with students in order to participate.
Hey, why had no one noticed that? Was the judge teacher blind??
Now that I think of it, he was the judge teacher…
“Oh, my Saint! Please grant your weapons meant only for the best 8 students to me!”
It seemed that preparing a reward had had the opposite effect to what I had intended…
Actually, I had declared to give special weapons to the students that managed to reach the top 8 at the start of the tournament.
People would be motivated by the notion of winning a prize, and I had meant it as a way to strengthen the students that would be involved in the operation as well as as an apology for involving them in it.
While I did make sure to grant everyone the option to refuse, but… a request from the “Saint” to “help defeat the Witch” was practically a compulsion for the people of this world…
Even in the game, Elrise often made such annoying “requests.”
This academy was an institution that fostered Knights, and Knights were those who served the Saint, after all.
This meant that refusing the Saint’s requests would lead to questions like “why come to this academy in the first place if you’re not willing to help when duty calls?” Even more so if said request was about defeating the Witch.
I also understood that presents were the least I could do to apologize and relieve a little of my guilt.
Yet, to think it had come to this…
…Well, it was what it was.
If you thought about this situation more, it meant one less student had to be needlessly involved.
At least my – admittedly – tiny conscience wouldn’t feel any guilt whatsoever for involving this Perverted Glasses Bastard.
“Are you an idiot? There’s no way we would agree to someone who’d guaranteed himself a spot in the top 8 in such an unfair way!”
“I don’t mind, Leila.”
And so, I agreed with Perverted Glasses Bastard’s participation, ignoring Leila’s protests.
This might sound like an evil thing to say, but if the students had really lost to him, I would be correct to assume that Perverted Glasses Bastard was stronger than any of them, meaning there was a higher possibility of him surviving.
Moreover, rejecting a potential member would only reduce our fighting power.
Since it had come to this, I just decided to let him get involved in our plan.
Furthermore, however you put it, Perverted Glasses Bastard was considered a Mid Boss in game, making him quite strong.
When fought in the game, he had a 1st form as well as a 2nd form and while 1st form was no different than a common mob, in his 2nd form, he fused with a giant golem, a feat that common people couldn’t even dream of accomplishing.
He wasn’t supposed to possess such power but in the game it was explained as his “Love for the Saint,” making it bad by nature.
Anyway, he was (limited as an enemy in this version of events but still) strong enough to fight Vernell’s group all by himself during the later stages of the plot.
“Leila, bring them out.”
As I signalled Leila, she hurried to open the box sat next to me.
Inside were the things I had requested from old man Aiz, various ores and metals.
The sword I had made for Vernell previously had been made randomly using earth, but this time, I was determined to do my best when crafting his weapon.
I held my hand in front of me, using earth magic to split up the material’s composition and then turning it into a hard metal.
Trying many things, I ended up making an alloy as hard and tough as possible, using it as the material for making a weapon.
I did not know the name of metal. It was a metal not found on earth after all.
So let’s just give it a chuuni name!
This alloy’s name would be orichalcum, I decided on the spot.
And so there they were. Orichalcum weapons.
I crafted a weapon for every member, and handed them out to everyone.
Lastly, I gave one of them to Leila as a present.
Leila already possessed a proper sword as Prime Knight but… she hadn’t been using it lately for some reason.
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It had been a week since Turtle came to the academy.
As I breathed a chilling breath, I looked out the window.
Outside, there was a silver landscape as far as I could see. As it was now winter, white snow fell from the sky and piled across the land, forming a white snowscape.
Turtle might end up hibernating if it was too cold, so I had no choice but to make a barrier surrounding the lake to block the cold temperatures.
The Theory of Barrier was almighty. I thought that such a thing already existed.
It was just a haphazard barrier that prevented cold temperatures, so it was quite cost-efficient and lasted about one whole day.
The need to recast it every single day was quite annoying, though.
Speaking of winter, the season was not welcomed in this world.
It was because, unlike the modern world where heating was generally available, winter cold could kill you in this world’s civilization.
You couldn’t harvest crops during winter, so if you didn’t stockpile properly, you could die of starvation.
During winter, people gathered near the fireplace, conversed, and did handicrafts while enduring the cold.
Yet for some reason, even during this cold winter, there was festival-like noise outside.
Children had a snowball fight while adults held their shoulders with hands that were also full of potato skewers.
“Elrise-sama, it’s about time for the parade.”
As Leila said that to me, I looked out the window once more.
My current location was not the Knight Academy, but Billberry’s capital castle town.
Rather, I was inside the castle.
The distance between the academy and the capital was about 10 km, which could be covered by horse carriage within an hour.
Why did they put the academy there? Wasn’t it better to have it inside the town?
You sometimes saw it in Medieval fantasy games, but I didn’t understand why they had to build the academy on a corner of the map separated from town.
If we said it in the modern way, you could have put the academy in the city, yet they built it above, on the mountain for some reason.
Even so, it was actually not that rare for a school to be built in a weird location, even on earth.
In the past, I saw a documentary about a school abroad where one student needed to cross a high pass on a wooden board without a handrail, carefully cross a broken bridge, cross a river, and walk along a cliff for hours just to get there… It seems there were children who bet their lives just to go to school1.
If it was compared to that … well. The Knight Academy was still built in a much better place, it seemed.
Well, if we needed to think of a reason… it was because they raised demons within the academy for the sake of student practice, or something like that.
Even though they sealed it properly so none could escape, there was no guarantee they would never escape at all, and people who lived in the city didn’t wish to have demons roaming the city.
Also, there was a chance that they might get targeted by the Witch’s followers… I guessed.
Knights were considered a hindrance by the Witch, so it was obvious they would be attacked.
They might have considered that when they chose not to locate such a facility inside the city.
The fact that the academy had been built in an isolated location also helped me.
If it had been built within the capital city, the Witch would have had an easier time hiding…
Exactly because it was so isolated, the Witch’s scope of action was limited to the academy’s underground areas.
Oops, I got derailed.
Anyway, I was currently not at the academy that had been cited in a weird place, but in the castle town of Billberry instead.
I was there because I had been invited to be a guest at the current event.
The event went by the name “Saint’s birth festival”… well, it also happened to be my birthday. I guessed.
Originally, the Saint’s birthday would be the same day the Witch appeared, so there was nothing to celebrate, but my birthday alone was considered worthy of celebration, for some reason.
No, you didn’t have to go that far… I was a fake to begin with, you know?
You guys were currently celebrating the birthday of a fraud, you know. Were you okay with that?
Rather than mine, you should celebrate the first Saint Alfrea’s birthday instead.
Well, during Alfrea’s generation, the movement to support the Saint had not taken root yet, so no one knew her birthday.
I was escorted by Leila out of the castle and I got exhausted as I looked at the portable shrine that had been prepared for me.
A luxurious chair had been attached to that portable shrine, and I had to sit on that totally lame portable shrine while being carried around by Knights as they went around the city with it.
What kind of punishment game was this?
It was embarrassing; even though I hadn’t ridden on it yet, did I want to get off already?
“Well, go ahead. Everyone has already gathered to look at Saint-sama.”
One of the Knights said that as I was led to the seat.
No, you didn’t have to gather… seriously…
Why must I do all these embarrassing things on my own birthday?
Don’t tell me I’m actually hated by the citizens?
And I needed to do this every year. Who thought of this stupid event?
I gave up and sat on the seat while the Knights carried the portable shrine and walked around the castle town.
On the road, many people had gathered, and as usual, they carried potatoes in one hand while being noisy.
By the way, among the Knights who carried the portable shrine, one of them looked exactly like Perverted Glasses Bastard but… no, there was no way, right? It must have been an identical stranger.
Even that Perverted Glasses Bastard wouldn’t attack a Knight to take over his spot, so he wouldn’t have done such an idiotic thing.
… He wouldn’t, right?
Leaving the Perverted Glasses Bastard look-alike Knight aside, as for why people had potatoes in their hands… It was because of me.
There was nothing to harvest during winter in this world, which caused people who hadn’t stockpiled food to die.
I thought that was too much for them, so I looked for something that could be stockpiled to brave it through the winter and I somehow found potatoes among the plants as I searched.
But the potato was treated as a decorative plant by nobles.
No, eat it! Wasn’t it right there… The food needed to survive the winter…
As I thought that, I flew to a southern mountain and searched for potatoes then brought them back. I borrowed some land, used earth and water magic, nurtured the growing potatoes, and taught people they could be eaten if one removed the eyes then heated them for a bit.
Then potatoes spread as a food. After a short time, you could see them everywhere.
With that, the number of people who died of starvation was reduced a lot but, thanks to that, my birthday somehow became something like a potato thanksgiving festival.
As a result, people gave their thanks for potatoes on my birthday and hoped-for blessings at the end of the year. It ended up turning into the current chaotic event.
What was this, Germany’s Sachsen region potato festival mixed with Christmas, New Years, and a year-end party combined into a chaotic event?
They also made something using snow so it was also mixed with a snow festival on top of everything else.
This would end up as a joke for future generations.
“Saint-sama, please bless us!”
For some reason, citizens started asking as they liked.
Okay, okay… there.
I randomly spread out healing magic, curing people of their injuries and diseases.
Citizens here were quite stupid so they were very thankful for just this.
“Ooh! My eyes that I thought would never again see light!!!”
“Ah! My child that was never able to stand now stands on their own two feet!”
“My head that I thought would never grow hair is now covered with it!!!”
“How exalted she is!”
They looked happy for some reason, so I guessed this was enough.
Ah — this was troublesome.
I wished the parade would end soon…
I was finally released.
Ah — this was exhausting. This was seriously exhausting.
To stay seated on a shaky portable shrine was more tiring than standing without moving.
Since people were watching me, I couldn’t do things as I liked. Instead, I needed to keep my expression fixed in a smile.
Even if my back under my dress was itchy, I need to maintain a smile and hold on to it. It was such a trial.
That event which akin to torture finally ended and I walked around town to get a true sense of freedom.
I did put on a wimple as a disguise. It hid me up to eye level so I didn’t think being recognized would be a problem.
Leila came along as a guard as usual but it couldn’t be helped.
By the way, as the parade ended, it was revealed that one of the Knights who was supposed to carry the portable shrine had had their armor stolen and was confined inside the warehouse and that the Glasses Pervert, who was believed to be the culprit, was currently being pursued.
The city was full of life and children were throwing snowballs.
On the roadside, people roasted potatoes, buttered them, and ate them.
I didn’t remember teaching people about that; it seemed they figured it out themselves.
The people in this other world… it seemed they shouldn’t be underestimated.
By the way, within the kingdom of Billberry, butter and cheese were quite popular with commoners.
Cows were raised as livestock in the kingdom, not for their milk or meat, but to create butter and cheese.
It seemed they hadn’t thought of drinking cow’s milk yet.
That was the reason for Leila’s strange expression when I asked her to bring milk as an ingredient for making snacks.
By the way, in this nation butter and cheese were accepted for tax payments in a territory where little currency circulated.
Cheese as tax payments sure felt new.
Recently, it also became possible to pay taxes with potatoes according to Leila but — was that supposed to be a gag?
Then what? They were currently eating their tax money? That was amazing.
But, how to put it… it felt like something was lacking for a festival.
To be exact, there were no food stalls.
It might’ve felt wrong to say this in a world that suffered food shortages until recently but, festivals were supposed to be lined with food stalls, after all.
The only group doing something like that was the church. They were currently giving out the vegetable broth I’d taught them earlier.
“Ah, Elrise-sama. Also, Leila-san.”
As we walked around town, we encountered Vernell’s party.
It seemed that they were enjoying themselves at the festival.
It sure seemed like you people got along well, so to speak.
It was a good thing that he had a group to do these kinds of things with.
It was also better to see Perverted Glasses Bastard not among them.
Whatever was said, Vernell was still the protagonist, after all.
I thought he had gone for the Loner route initially, yet he made friends before I noticed it.
Meanwhile I — regarding friends, I didn’t have one in this world…
I was totally a loner, wasn’t I?
…No, no, no, wait. After all, Vernell could be considered a friend. Yup.
“Vernell-kun and the others participated in snowball throwing?”
It made me feel more miserable the more I thought about it, so I just randomly brought up this topic.
Snowball throwing, needless to say, was what happened when they started throwing around snowballs.
It was totally a snowball fight.
It wasn’t like there were specific conditions for victory. Everyone just foolishly threw snowballs at each other. I didn’t hate such things.
But if I were to participate, everyone would be reserved toward me and the atmosphere would turn cold, so I could only watch.
“Ah, yes. I…”
“Only we will participate. Right, everyone?”
Vernell was about to say something before he was cut off by Fiora.
Then she looked around for the others: Mob A, Mary, and Aina all nodded their heads.
Ah, this was the pattern of someone being rejected.
I thought I could hear the voices of Eterna and others’ hearts.
Their heart-voices went like this:
Fiora: “It will be boring if she participates. Just match our words and send them away!”
Eterna: “You’re right, that’s better.”
Mob A: “No objection!”
Aina: “Nice Idea!”
Perhaps it went like that. Yep, great deduction.
But you people, how could you have left Vernell out?
While it was okay for me to be excluded, why did you push off all responsibility to Vernell? Were you guys brutes?
The only person who looked dissatisfied about it was Eterna. As expected of the Saint.
But Eterna was unable to win against the majority, so she reluctantly agreed.
And thus Eterna and the others left Vernell behind. The only ones left were me and Vernell… and Leila who wore an angry expression for some reason.
Why did Leila have such an expression? Was it from actually, patiently enduring the cold?
“A, Ahaha… they got me. To think they did this to me on purpose…”
Vernell laughed lightly but, was it really for his sake that we had been left alone together?
No, wait — this world was supposed to follow the “Elrise Route” according to the game.
Currently, I didn’t have the slightest intention of pursuing him (as expected, I couldn’t see a man as a romantic target) but if Vernell tried to romance me… If I went with this assumption, then Eterna’s group did try to leave the two of us alone for his sake.
… No, I guessed not. Leila was still here, after all.
If my assumptions were right, Leila, who still insisted on staying, would be a person who couldn’t read the atmosphere.
Fuh, I guess it was just me being overly conscious.
I was disgusted with myself for thinking so little of a guy who might fall for me.
Well, it couldn’t be helped since he was left alone.
Since it came to this, we could at least enjoy ourselves.
“I don’t understand what happened but… would Vernell-kun like to come along? We will just be walking around the festival, though.”
“Ah, ye- yes! Please!”
Since we were both excluded from the group, we could enjoy ourselves, Vell Boy.
As soon as I invited Vernell, he accepted, since he was a good guy.
Stocco, that’s why you shouldn’t wear that Oni-like expression. Let’s enjoy ourselves some more.
And so Vernell came along with us and looked around but — yep, nothing had changed!
No matter where we went, it was all about playing around with snowballs and people eating potatoes.
There were people who made snowman-like thingies, but none of them looked great.
If it was earth, there would be something amazing that made people think, “Is this seriously made out of snow?” But I didn’t see any of those here.
Well, after all, the people of this world had no leisure to play with snow until recently.
That’s why such entertainment was unpolished. We could look forward to it.
But among those activities, there was one spot where people gathered.
As I looked, it seemed someone had made a big statue out of snow.
Hou hou, someone had skills. It seemed there were geniuses everywhere.
— It was me
As I approached, the statue could only be seen as a gigantic me.
Oi, who was the fool who made this monstrosity.
“Ah, no good — I’m unable to reproduce the beauty of Saint no matter how I do it! This is not what I seek! I’m terribly sorry, oh my Saint!”
Yup, I had found the fool.
There was Perverted Glasses Bastard, kneeling down on one leg of the statue for some reason.
So you were still not arrested, huh.
Knight brigade, do your job.
“Hou — This is quite something…”
“It would be a shame if it were melted… Is there any way to preserve it?”
So I thought, but the people of the Knights brigade were also gathered near the statue. Hey, you guys.
Was this world filled with only this type of people?
Rather, could I destroy this statue? It felt weird to have myself being displayed in such a big size…
“It sure is quite a feat of workmanship… to think Instructor Supple was capable of that,” Leila shared.
“That’s amazing. But the real Elrise-sama is way prettier.”
Vernell breathed out a trashy sentence in response.
It must be his Galge Protagonist factor that let him say such a thing naturally.
Vernell seemed to notice how cheap his line was, and had a “No good” expression on his face.
If it were a common heroine, they would say something like “it’s a foul to say such a thing so suddenly” while blushing but… well, it would be troublesome if he tried to get a similar reaction from me.
“Thank you, Vernell-kun. I’m happy even if it’s merely a compliment.”
So I just replied to it blandly and let it flow.
Vernell said something like, “It’s not a compliment though…” in a small voice but I pretended to not have heard of it.
Whatever; I just wanted him to hurry and change his route to attack Eterna already. Okay?
“Ah, right… I heard today is your birthday so I made this for you.”
As he said that, Vernell took something like a necklace out from his bosom.
It was a simple thing made from greenish stone that looked like emeralds attached to a chain but it looked like a beginner’s work in various places.
Are you a maiden since you gave a handmade thing as a birthday gift?
Or rather, to think, you were capable of buying such a stone.
“This… Did you make it yourself?”
“Yes, I did… I intended to make it better though.”
You could get money by working part-time during your free time with the “Kuon no Sanka” setting.
The part-time work was about pulling up grass around the academy, transporting goods, repelling wild dogs and bears, and things like that.
It was like a mini-game where if you did well, you would get bonus money.
The money you got this way could be used to buy presents for the heroines or to buy equipment.
Also, these part-time jobs also increased your stats, though not as much as self-training. If you managed to clear them perfectly, it wouldn’t be much different from self-training.
Well, there were no bad consequences for doing it.
Vernell had been doing this part-time as a substitute for training and gathering money.
Uhm… this present was hard to refuse.
This student made money themself to buy an expensive gemstone and turned it into a homemade necklace as a present. I would be totally KY if I refused it.
Well… it wasn’t like I wasn’t happy about it.
The last time I got a birthday present from a friend was when I was an elementary school student in my past life.
I got many things since I became Elrise, but it had been a while since I got something like this.
Since it was a gift anyway, I would honestly accept it.
“Thank you Vernell-kun. I will cherish it.”
Well… I didn’t feel bad about this.
“Modern world” Elrise: Thank you Vernell-kun. I will cherish it. Piron♪ (Favorability Greatly+) Elrise: How is it? Do I look good? (Sprite changed. The necklace is worn from that point onward.)
Niito” ( ﾟдﾟ) 」 Niito “ ( ﾟдﾟ ) ”
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I decided to stop thinking about stuff I wasn’t sure about, and turned my attention back to the turtle.
While there were some unexpected developments, I still managed to get the information I wanted to know.
The one who prophesied about the Saint’s birth was not the Prophet but the Oracle; the reason it was possible was because the Saint was the World’s representative, while the Prophet was the World’s spokesperson.
Its true identity was that of a long-lived turtle.
In the end, I didn’t manage to find out about “why events that happened here were being projected as a game on the other side” but, I decided to leave that kind of investigation to the me on the other side and Ijuuin-san.
”I don’t know why there is a great difference between the ‘tale’ I observed and reality. But I do think that you are the person who can change the future. In the ‘tale’ I observed, the real Saint, Eterna, turned into the Witch and ended up killing herself by committing suicide.”
The things the turtle talked about were already familiar to me.
What I didn’t understand was why this turtle sounded like they wished to change such a future.
To it, Eterna was just a stranger, even if she was the real Saint.
So I didn’t understand why it wished to change that future.
While I also wished to change it, my reasons were more based on my own personal preference than anything else.
But for this turtle… well, I hated to say it, but wouldn’t it be better if things developed as it did in the game?
If Eterna became the Witch and committed suicide, the Witch’s power will have nowhere to go and the cycle of the Saint would definitely be broken.
From the World’s perspective, it wouldn’t be so bad for the end to develop that way.
…Toward the players who favored Eterna though, that was totally a Bad END.
“Kakaka, I see your expression shows that you don’t understand why I wish to change such an end? It’s not like I really wish to change it. It’s just, it is boring to see the World follow a script. Compared to that, I don’t think it would ever be boring to observe you. Not even I know how things will develop from now on.”
As I heard the turtle’s words, I was somewhat convinced.
I see. That’s easy to understand. Basically, it just wanted to enjoy itself, so it would prefer it if the future changed.
The turtle made a surprisingly human expression and smiled.
“So here’s the deal. Will you take me outside with you? I’m more interested in the tale of the fake Saint who’s more authentic than the real one. If it is you, I think the cycle that has continued for 1000 years may change. While I could see it from here, I would prefer to see it up close.”
“You sure have a weird taste. But I have no reason to bring you along with me.”
It seemed like it wanted to come along with me, but I politely refused its request.
Why should I have to bring along this turtle and keep it close to me?
Even with the title of the Prophet, it still was a turtle, so it was kind of smelly. Also, I was never a big fan of turtles to begin with.
In the first place, where would I even keep a turtle of this size?
Maybe in the guest area of my room? What a joke.
Anyway it’s impossible, you hindrance. Don’t try to go with me.
“Don’t say that, I will be useful. For example… Let’s see. The Prophet is unlike the Saint. I will be the one who will appoint my own successor. When that happens, all my remaining lifespan will be transferred to them and I, who will be released from my duty, will end up dying. So I have no intention of going through that at all.”
“I’m going home.”
“Wa, wait! Then how about this? 30 seconds from now, there will be a small earthquake. After that, a squirrel will fall down from the branches of the tree beside you.”
As the turtle said that, it pointed toward a tree with its head.
There was indeed a squirrel on one of its branches above me nibbling on the tree’s fruit.
As I was watching, exactly 30 seconds later, the ground shook and the squirrel fell down.
While I didn’t care that much about the squirrel, I still caught it with my palms and returned it to one of the tree’s branches.
If I was part of the Aynu people, I could’ve turned it into Citatap1.
Even so, how did this turtle know when the earthquake would actually occur?
Perhaps it had actually cast magic on the ground … though it didn’t seem like it. I mean, if that was actually the case, there was no way I wouldn’t notice.
“I’ve heard the Prophet was the World’s spokesperson and it supposedly had no power to read the future, though…?”
“Yes, I possess no such power. But you see, I’ve lived 1000 years, and have observed various things that have happened around the World… As such, I’m able to grasp a lot of things. I can observe the variables of a situation around me, then predict the outcome with the highest probability. If I felt like it, I could predict what would happen if that Vernell boy ended up falling in love with Mary or Eterna instead, which is one of the possible Future (IF) Worlds. Obviously, it would only be a guess and not a prophecy, so it could be wrong and there might be differences in the details.”
What was that? It might’ve said such things lightly, but this Turtle was actually amazing.
If you knew everything that was happening in this moment, then you could predict the future… There was no way that’d be the case.
I read about something like that in a book before.
If everything that was happening in the World was from a combination of cause and effect – assuming everything was all connected by causality, then by knowing the cause that is the present, you could make predictions about its effects on the future. I think it’s called Causal Determinism?
But I thought that such an idea has been completely rejected by modern science …
Well, said person (said turtle?) also said it could still be wrong, so it was basically just a high probability prediction, I guess.
“I can’t promise that I would be 100% accurate, but I could still be of help to you.”
“… And your real motive is?”
“To be honest, it’s tough being worshiped all alone by monkeys, whose language I haven’t been able to understand for such a long time. Bring me along. You could do that easily, couldn’t you?”
It had spoken like it was such a great person, but when I asked for its real motives, it caved in pretty quickly.
Yup, I should’ve known.
After all, I would gain no advantage at all for helping it.
It promoted its capabilities despite there being no real merit in them, so this meant it found its current environment unfavorable.
It had said that it starved for conversation, after all.
As I thought that, I could tell that this turtle’s line of thinking wasn’t “I could come along,” but rather “I don’t want to stay here.”
“… I understand. But I need to let King Aiz know about this first. Also…”
“I know. I won’t reveal your identity.”
I was about to remind it, but it had said what I meant to say beforehand.
I see. It was its prediction ability… huh.
It had already understood what I was about to say before I did, I think.
It was kind of hard to deal with, but depending on how I used it, it could be useful.
“There are also several…”
“As for my living space, I’m sorry, but I would need to depend on your magic to create a pond nearby the academy. It’s better if it’s located somewhere that is forbidden to enter for students. For my feed, I want ricefish, crayfish, as well as vegetables. I don’t want crickets or earthworms. I’m already tired of eating those. As for my fighting capabilities, my jaw is strong enough to bite down most common demons, my shell is hard enough to protect against most attacks, and I am also capable of water magic to some extent, although it’s far cry from your abilities. Don’t depend on it too much.”
As expected, this guy was hard to deal with. Oi.
I was about to confirm details about its habitat and feed, as well as its fighting power, but it answered before I even asked.
I felt a little miffed about it, so I thought about countering it a bit.
“‘Try to guess what I’m thinking about,’ is what you want to ask? Well then, you are currently thinking about things that have nothing to do with the current situation. Unfortunately, I can’t guess the specific contents, but… do I pass muster?”
Damn, it said my question before I could.
Just as it said, I was about to ask that.
By the way, what I was incidentally reminded about was an enemy character of a game I played a long time ago and its needlessly long and cool incantation.
It was hard to like this turtle.
It was hard to like it, but… but thanks to this turtle, I came to understand one thing.
That was, if I went all out on a barrier, not even the World could observe me inside of it.
Because it said that I was “Worthy of the title of Saint.”
But never forget. I called myself a “towering pile of shit where mushrooms grow in type of fake Saint” before while I was drowsy within the barrier
If they knew of this, then they should’ve known about my true colors already.
But there was no sign that this turtle had noticed that.
In other words, my barrier was strong enough to deceive the World.
I didn’t know whether this information was useful or not, but… you never know when things would be useful until you were in the moment itself, after all.
There was no harm in remembering that.
Anyway, let’s call the old man here.
Since I decided to bring the Prophet along, I needed to tell him about it beforehand.
I explained the situation to Old Man Aiz, then used my magic to transport the three of us toward the academy.
It was the same magic that I used when I flew to Billberry’s capital.
After we got the word to Headmaster Fox, I created a pond near the academy.
“But this is surprising… I was also shocked by the form of Prophet-sama, but I’m more surprised that Prophet-sama actually decided to leave its dwelling.”
As he said that, Headmaster Fox was looking at the turtle.
Well, obviously it was surprising.
Its shell alone was already sized at 5 meters and its height greatly exceeded that of a human. It was definitely more than 2 meters in height.
It was already akin to a monster.
Maybe it could retract its limbs and fly through the sky.
“Kakaka. This generation’s Saint is the type that I have never seen before, after all. I want to observe closely.”
“I see… Even by Prophet-sama’s standards, Elrise-sama is special.”
“Yes, she is special indeed. It is a pattern that has never occurred before in the past. Or To be exact, there was, but none have managed to become as perfect a Saint when compared to her.”
Old Man Aiz was talking to the turtle, but I was already thinking that it was a mistake to bring it along and regretting it.
Oi, Turtle. Don’t say any unnecessary things, okay?
It was alright to be exiled in the end, but it would be the worst if it happened at this moment.
Anyway, let’s hurry and create a pond for it before it could say unnecessary things.
First, I excavated the ground with earth magic, and made a crater with a radius of around 25 meters.
As for its depth, I guessed that about 20 – 30 meters should be okay.
Also… didn’t aquatic turtles need some areas where they could take shelter and camouflage?
So I formed a slope toward the shore, then crafted a hole for its hiding spot at the bottom.
Then I placed gravel and stones at the bottom, and then filled it using water magic to turn it into a pond.
It was a little slapdash, but I thought it would be enough.
“How about this?”
“A, Aah… it’s enough. I will modify it later to suit my taste… Even so, I’ve known about your skillfulness, but it sure is amazing to look at it up close. You did it without any trouble, but there’s never been a Saint in the past who was capable of this feat.”
Looking at the turtle’s surprised expression, I kept a composed expression. However I was laughing triumphantly on the inside.
I kept getting surprised by you, who constantly got ahead of me a while ago, so I feel better now.
Well, you see?
Look, I’m such a genius, after all.
I could do these kinds of things without any problem after all.
…Well, it wasn’t exactly that simple though.
It was one thing to create a hole, but it was quite tiring to fill it up with this much water.
MP-wise, I would estimate that it would cost me around 5000 just for that.
It was something that would take dozens of minutes for the Witch if she kept draining the surroundings for MP.
Well, this Turtle should be aware of how drained I was, I guess.
Damn, it made me feel irritated. Annoying. I felt like I had lost for some reason.
I guess I need to train seriously for once, damn it…
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