Well then, it’s not good to take a long time for such small fry, so let’s end this quickly.
Oh, Octopus, you’re merely the opening performance before dealing with Alexia after all.
I will tear you apart then sprinkle you, roast you, turn you into Takoyaki then eat you!
But it seems it is difficult to make Takoyaki in this world.
You could buy convenient Takoyaki spices at a commercial supermarket on Earth, but you need to make the cake flour on your own in this world … it wouldn’t be easy to get your hands on cake flour here to begin with.
Well, let’s put that aside. Anyway I will beat you up!
It seemed it noticed what I was attempting to do. The Octopus moved to hide behind Mob Girl.
On top of that, it used its tentacles to drag Eterna and the others and placed them in front of it as a shield.
You, that’s cheating.
And it was not merely placed in front.
Octopus used 6 of its 8 limbs to drag 6 students, while leaving 2 limbs free.
Then it used 5 of the captured students and Mob Girl to cover itself on all sides.
On top of that, it also dragged one student above, to be used as a guard against any above attack.
There were always counter measures for such things.
“Don’t move Elrise… if you do, their lives are no more. For now, placed your hands on your back.”
Octopus used a cliche threat while I walked in front of it until I was behind Octopus.
It was that thing, using light refraction to produce illusion + stealth that I used back then to deceive the Knights’ eyes.
In front of it, there was currently an image of me who did nothing in front of hostages and obediently put her hand behind her back.
And it was not like there was no gaps between those human shields.
I aimed in between those hostages, then activated ice magic.
For this Octopus to move above ground, it always had to activate water magic on its surroundings and live inside of it.
Once the water froze, it would be my victory.
The Octopus was frozen instantly, and all hostages were also released.
Then I dispelled the illusion and the stealth… I should be seen as if I moved instantly in Leila’s eyes.
“E, Elrise-sama… what just…”
“These hostages made me worried, so I just cheated a little.”
I wanted to keep as many cards hidden as I could, so I didn’t even tell Leila about the details.
It was something like keeping one’s ace hidden or something.
But, it was good that Octopus had walked outside carelessly.
This happy miscalculation eliminated one of the unstable factors for Vernell’s group infiltration.
Anyway, Mob Girl who got manipulated… err, Elizabeth? No, it was Elizabet
Well, it was fine whichever it was.
She was stunned and fell to her feet, so I gave her my hand.
“That was quite a disaster for you… are you okay?”
Her face was not to my liking, but I had been told that she was a fan of mine who had gone to the point of imitating me, so it was important to treat the fan with care.
Then Mob Girl grasped my hand with both of her hands, she looked at it seriously then caressed it.
Hm? What? I didn’t have anything on my hands though?
“Hah… it’s so white, smooth and thin… it’s so beautiful all the way to your fingertips…”
She went hah hah while caressing my hand all around, then slowly embraced me.
Then, she reached out to my hair and waist without hesitation.
“Ah, thank you, thank you… I always sought help. But my voice didn’t come out. But isn’t it obvious? It’s totally wrong for me, who was the Saint to be named as the Witch.”
What was this person talking about?
No, this was what Leila was talking about, her pretending to be the Saint.
She barely survived after being manipulated, yet she began to do her Saint pretend right after. She was quite something, in a way.
“Your hair is silky… your waist is also thin… hah… so this is the Saint… ah, why… Why am I not you? … This face, this body, it should be something I was born with, yet, why did you…”
Uhm… this was quite something. A type that I had never encountered before.
Anyway, I learned something.
It seemed she was quite a dangerous person.
It might have been better if I didn’t save her…
“Hey, give it to me… these hair and nails, face and body, give it to me… I also want to be the Saint. Isn’t it okay? See? See? Isn’t it okay? It’s okay, right? Of course, since I am the Sai…”
“Enough of that, you vermin.”
As I was thinking about what I should do regarding this dangerous Mob Girl who was touching me all over, Leila came near me without me noticing, grabbed Mob Girl’s head, and pulled her away from me. Then she threw her away as if she was throwing out garbage.
Oi Stocco, wasn’t that a little too much?
That girl had a family name, didn’t that make her a noble?
Ah, no, now that I thought about it again, Stocco was a daughter of a Marquis house. Since she won pedigree wise, maybe she could deal with her without much problem?
…No, no, that wasn’t the problem here.
“Your unscrupulous actions and numerous instances of disrespect toward Elrise-sama, I won’t stand for it any longer. For such blasphemy, I shall immediately cut down that dirty head of yours.”
Mob Girl, who was sitting on the ground, didn’t seem to understand the situation as Leila came forward and thrust her sword toward her.
Then Mob Girl stepped backward as she said.
“Wa, wait… ca, calm down… please, Leila. Ye, yes, my Knight! You are the Guard Knight! So you may not do such a thing! Please remember… that moment when you and I ran through the battlefield together, that day where we saved many powerless people…”
Her common tone suddenly became a polite tone.
Perhaps this was supposed to be her attempt at mimicking me.
But I never, not even once, said “may not” like an ojou-sama though.
In the first place, the reason I used polite speech was because using a girl’s tone felt too disgusting for me to do, and using a man’s speech would be too incompatible. That was why I ended up using a polite tone I had used at work; it was just a matter of compromise with my tone.
Uwah, Leila’s expression became something I had never seen before.
It was as if she encountered a huge pile of feces that had fallen down on the road. It made one feel a heartfelt physiological aversion toward it. Then her eyes went beyond extreme anger and turned into eyes of absolute zero; it was an expression that was hard to describe properly.
It was like when something was so cold that it burned you, to the point you were unable to differentiate it from heat.
I didn’t know humans were capable of such an expression.
“Enough, even merely hearing your voice feels unpleasant. I shall cut you down immediately.”
Ah, no good.
This Leila was seriously going to cut her down.
If Leila went on and killed Mob Girl this way, she would be punished by law for deliberately killing a noble. Regardless of the reason, it would become a problem.
It didn’t matter even if Leila was a noble lady.
So I lightly tapped Leila on the back as an attempt to calm her down.
Calm down, yes yes yes.
“Leila, calm down.”
“Please don’t stop me, Elrise-sama. This thing ought to be disposed of.”
And now, she began to treat her as an “object.”
This might be the first time I saw Leila to be this furious.
In the game, she was also about this angry when she went against Pizzarise, but this was the first time I saw it in this world.
How should I calm her down…
Anyway, if Leila truly did cut her down here, her standing would be in danger.
So it was already necessary for me to stop her, but… I guess it would be better for me to heal the wound she got when Leila threw her away.
This girl was still the daughter of a Count even if she was like that.
And so I was about to cast healing magic, but somehow the place where Eterna was at suddenly shone.
Huh? I didn’t cast healing magic over there though?
Rather this was dangerous. Mana was becoming highly condensed around Eterna.
If this kept up, then everyone on the rooftop, except for me who was capable of guarding it with my mana would be blasted away.
And so I deployed a shield. It guarded against the mana that Eterna blasted out and I would be able to observe what happened next.
Eterna who was inside of the light slowly got up, and looked toward this direction.
Her body was decorated with white particles of mana, and her hair fluttered about even though there was no wind.
Mana waves hit Octopus and erased it; no traces of it remained.
Ah… even though I was planning to make Takoyaki out of it.
Anyway, this was that, without a doubt.
Bluntly, no one understood why this happened suddenly, but it was impossible for common humans to reach 1/600 of my total mana.
Yup, this was that, she was awakened as the Saint.
Why did she suddenly awaken? I didn’t get it…
…Anyway, it wouldn’t be far in the future until I was revealed as a fake Saint, so let’s start thinking about an excuse moving forward.
For those who got rescued when they asked for help, there was no guarantee they would appreciate the help they got.
Even if they desperately sought help when they were in danger, they would easily forget about it once they were saved… These kinds of humans exist in this world.
While Leila looked down toward the Filth (Elizabet), she thought so deep within her heart.
Elrise said she had heard Elizabet’s voice seeking for help.
It must be true.
Back when King Aiz sought help, she, too, helped him as if it was the most obvious thing to do.
Such a power might not have existed in other generations of Saint, but she was the Greatest Saint of all time, after all. It wouldn’t be weird if she was really capable of that.
But not everyone was like King Aiz, who truly felt indebted for the help they got and changed their ways.
For a heart that rotted down to its core, they had no concept of gratitude, after all.
Even so, Elrise still wouldn’t change, and would extend her hand to help them.
She helped anyone without making any calculations in her heart; even if they would have trampled her down for it, she would still extend her hand with a smile.
They wouldn’t betray her… it was not like she had thought of it like that.
She didn’t mind even if she got betrayed and trampled down for it… Elrise surely thought like that.
This kind of life was very precious, untainted… That was why Leila was unable to forgive this filth even more.
For this kind of thing to trample down on Elrise, it was something that shouldn’t be allowed to happen.
That was why she thought she would cut her down for this one time, even if she had to go against Elrise’s will and raise her sword.
But Elrise lightly tapped on Leila’s back and told her.
“Leila, calm down.”
“Please don’t stop me, Elrise-sama. This thing ought to be disposed of.”
Elrise silently shook her head at Leila’s anger.
In her face, one was unable to see the slightest anger for being insulted.
She would love any kind of person, and protect them.
That was why. this time too, she was about to cast healing magic toward Elizabet without hesitation.
Ah… this person is truly…
Leila somehow managed to hold down her resentful heart and sheathe her sword.
In terms of fighting capability, there was no need to protect Elrise.
She was not only capable of protecting herself, but also of protecting everything.
But, she didn’t try to protect herself.
That was why Leila swore to protect her, regardless of what might happen.
Toward Leila, who had once betrayed her, Elrise had forgiven her, and even granted her a weapon.
To repay this debt, at very least, she would become the shield that protected her from this kind of malice.
But it seemed she sheathed her sword too quickly.
The Greater Demon had frozen, while the Fool had turned silent.
All that was left was to secure the students that had been captured as hostages… or so she had thought.
But from one of those students that needed to be secured, Eterna suddenly emitted light, and Elrise hurriedly used a shield to protect everyone.
Except for the part of the rooftop that was being protected by Elrise, everything else got overrun by light. Even the Greater Demon who was frozen also ended up perishing by it.
Looking at the hollowed out floor of the rooftop, Leila felt terrified by its power.
It was an impossible thing to happen.
There was no way for a common student to suddenly be capable of using magic that was strong enough to make a Greater Demon perish with a single strike.
Not even Leila was capable of doing that.
Doing something like that, which exceeded human knowledge, would only be possible for the Saint.
But that was supposed to be Elrise.
As a matter of fact, Elrise did many great deeds that only Saints could do… Nay, even things that were unable to be done even if past generation Saints had gathered together.
But looking at that figure of Eterna, who stood up within light and shone divinely, all one could think of regarding that form was that could only be the Saint.
For two Saints to have appeared in the same generation, that has never happened before. Not even once.
Yet, this kind of exception happened right in front of Leila’s eyes.
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As I stealthily waited on the rooftop with Leila, the culprit recklessly arrived with Eterna and the other captured students.
The culprit was a female student, as the turtle had said, but there was a strange form of darkness attached to her back.
From this darkness, tentacles spread toward Eterna and the other students, causing them to pass out.
Hou, tentacle play with Eterna?
… Good one!
No good though, it seemed that I had arrived too early.
I should have come after 5… no, 10 minutes later instead.
Regarding the female student who was the culprit… uhn, how do I say this, she looked really plain.
There was a time when I thought that all the girls in this galge world had to be bishoujos who were prettier than idols.
Well, in reality though, this was not the case. Rather, modern day Earth had a higher percentage of beauties compared to here.
This was inevitable as this world had poor agricultural conditions. Because of that, their nutrition balance was bad; there was also no research or information about what kinds of ingredients were good for one’s skin and beauty.
Also, nutritional supplements and cosmetics weren’t available. Well, there was a pervert that goes by name of Supple Ment though.
Compared to modern day Earth, where there were cleansing creams, moisturizing creams, and other easily accessible skin care products which could quickly be found online if one searched, it was obvious that this world would be at a disadvantage.
It was just that, in this world called Fiori, the differences in level between facial beauty were in such extremes. Here, women and girls who were beauties were so well-groomed to the point that they didn’t even need to use makeup or skin creams in the first place.
Leila and Eterna were examples of such extreme beauty.
I was also considered one… or rather Elrise was. Additionally, I used magic to cheat and beautify my skin and hair beyond what the technology here could offer. As such,it made my appearance look more beautiful by a few percent; this was how thoroughly prepared my facade was.
Because the inside of this body was scum, I couldn’t compromise on the façade.
It was just a case of applying gold plating repeatedly, and then adding more gold plating on top of that.
I was so thorough in my preparations that if one level of plating broke, I still wouldn’t get easily exposed.
It wasn’t easy to do this Saint role play.
Well then, regarding this Mob girl … I was obviously curious about the darkness attached to her back.
One would assume that it was something like dark mana, but I thought it was probably something else.
It was hidden well in darkness, so I couldn’t see it properly, but it looked to me like there was a more solid thing within it, I guess?
Anyway, I need to break that darkness off first.
… Or so I thought, but then Mob Girl steadily started shooting magic toward the athletic field.
What was this girl doing?
In the meantime, I reacted by shooting some light magic; it quickly caught up with the dark magic that had been shot prior before turning like a boomerang and repelling Mob Girl’s magic.
“!? Who did it?!”
Mob Girl had a demonic expression as she turned and looked around, but unfortunately for her I was still in stealth mode so she couldn’t find me.
With that though, she should’ve noticed that someone else was here.
Oh well, securing the hostages took priority over observing the culprit anyway.
Since there was no longer any need for me to hide myself, I dispelled it then took a step forward.
“Saint… Elrise…! No way, why are you here…”
Mob Girl took a step back and braced herself.
At this, the darkness on her back shuddered forcefully, and the tentacles attached to it started to flail.
Oh, what was this? You wanted to try doing tentacle play with me this time?
Stop that… no one would feel good looking at that.
“You too, what are you doing here?”
For the moment, I responded to her question with another question.
I was here because the turtle gave me a spoiler about this event, but I didn’t think that I needed to tell her that.
The turtle’s cheat, Clairvoyance, was really a dependable weapon for our side.
It would be bad if I told them about it and the turtle ended up getting killed because of it.
“…Like you need to ask! In this world that has forgotten about its fear of the Witch, my goal is to let people taste this fear once more!”
She said something strange there…
She said to let people know about the fear of the Witch, was she the Witch’s follower?
No, she said “my fear” there; that was inconsistent.
“You speak as if you were the Witch herself.”
“That is indeed the case. I am Elizabet, the Witch you’ve been desperately searching for in this academy!”
What is this girl talking about?
The Witch is Alexia, you know.
If you’re going to name yourself as the Witch, at least try to pretend that you’re Alexia instead.
Is she a fool?
Honestly, I wanted to sigh in exasperation and make a fool out of her, but I managed to hold it in somehow.
The Saint role play, that was more important.
“Fuhn. After pretending to be the Saint all this time, now you stoop to pretending as the Witch. What a disrespectful, hopeless person.”
Leila furiously placed her hand on her sword
Stay, stay. Stocco, Stay.
I really didn’t understand what was going on, so let’s ask about that some more first.
Also, if you knew something about this Mob Girl, then you should tell me about it.
“Leila, you know her?”
“She’s a fool who’s not worthy of Elrise-sama’s attention. I will cut her down here.”
“If you know something about her, then I want you to tell me about it…”
“…Elizabet Iblis. A 2nd year student. The 2nd daughter of Iblis Count’s House. It’s been decided that she is to drop out from the academy by this month.”
It seemed that Leila hated this Mob Girl.
Even though she was a common student, something unusual must’ve happened for Leila to hate her so much.
What happened? Did she steal Leila’s panties?
If she did, I would be happy if she gave it to me.
Ah — but if the Saint had the panties of her subordinate, it would probably ruin the Saint role play.
“What was the thing about her pretending to be the Saint?”
“I don’t think information is worthy of your attention…”
“… This fool tried to imitate Elrise-sama and put herself as ‘the real Saint’; she is infamous for that within this academy. That bad looking flower accessory must be something she copied from Elrise-sama. But it wasn’t just that, she also falsely claimed that all Elrise-sama’s great deeds were hers, and claimed that Elrise-sama had merely stolen what was rightfully hers… If she was not a daughter from the Iblis Count’s House , I would have already cut her down ages ago. Such an ugly and disrespectful person.”
Ah, I see. So she was an Elrise impersonator.
Wasn’t that okay? It was common for one to imitate the appearance of who they idolized.
It was similar to imitating a famous athlete’s hairstyle or signature poses.
Rather, it didn’t seem like such a bad thing for her to admire me to the point that she started imitating me.
Well, it was a kind of self-projection… yea. I also did that kind of thing in the past.
I used to watch baseball athletes and I also imagined myself standing in the stadium and doing what they did while being cheered on. It was quite something.
Regarding the flower accessory on her head… Ah, she indeed had a white flower that looked a bit similar to mine. But it was a little withered.
By the way, the flower accessory I usually wore on my head was actually a real flower.
I used magic to prevent it from withering, and turned it into the sole “flower that won’t scatter” in this world.
Well, it was sort of like my wish. You see, this was the world of “Kuon no Sanka,” so it was meant to oppose that.
Also, this was not merely just for decoration, but also served as a reserve tank for mana.
The flower was named the Angelo, and its petals had an attribute that allowed it to carry a large amount of mana.
Each petal could store around 100 MP. Since it had 7 petals in total, I had 700 MP in reserve.
Basically, it was something that I wouldn’t really need, but prepared just in case.
By the way, it was totally unlike the flower on Earth that had the same name.
This white flower spreads its petals like a heptagram. And while it was popular for its mysterious appearance, it also had an inconvenient trait of quickly withering once it had bloomed.
This world believed that the heptagram had the capability of repelling evil; the number “7” was treated as an auspicious number.
This was because there were 7 magic elements in this world: fire, water, earth, wind, thunder, ice, light, and dark. This totaled to 8 elements, which was then subtracted by 1… In other words, after the dark element was omitted from the total.
Meanwhile, the flower on Mob Girl’s forehead… That one was not an Angelo.
It was actually called Lucifero, and it was a different flower that appeared to be similar to the Angelo.
The difference was that it had 8 petals, which represented bad luck.
It couldn’t store mana, and its petals actually contained poison instead.
It was a weak poison that couldn’t kill, but caused the victim to suffer from euphoric hallucinations. It made them unable to differentiate between reality and their delusion, so it was actually quite dangerous1.
It was actually treated as a component for some drugs in some countries of this world.
Unlike Angelo, it didn’t wither quickly. It was a tough flower that lived a long time.
I guess she was acting strangely because that flower had been placed on her head.
Well, it should be harmless if you didn’t inhale the poison though…
“And now, you are pretending to be the Witch… You are such a fool.”
Leila-san sure was harsh!
Just forgive her for imitating me.
It wasn’t like she did it to gain any kind of profit anyway.
But it was bad for her to pretend to be a Witch.
Especially in front of a Knight.
If I were to try to explain how foolish this was, it’d be like if you went to a police station with a realistic toy gun or knife, went up to an armed policeman and then said, “I killed people. You’re next.”
It wasn’t something that could be treated as a joke.
“Fuhn… so you don’t believe me. Then witness the Witch’s power!”
As Mob Girl spread her arms, several tentacles flew toward me.
So you did wish for tentacle play… but while I did want to see Leila do tentacle play, I didn’t want to partake in it myself.
I was more of a voyeur.
And so, I aimed with my hand to shoot out magic to repel it, but…
“I won’t let you touch Elrise-sama!”
Leila stood in front of me, then repelled the tentacle with her sword
Oi Stocco, you’re in the way!
On top of that, the Tentacle thrashed violently, and flung Leila back with her sword as she tried to guard from it.
Then the tentacle flew toward my direction once more, but I easily sliced through it using a sword made of light.
As I felt the resistance during the swing, I noticed something had fallen to the floor.
Once it was cut off, the darkness covering it dissipated, and what appeared was… a delicious looking octopus leg.
…Ah, I see. I understand what’s going on.
“So that’s what happened. I already know who you actually are.”
I had seen through everything!
It noticed that it got caught, and I used light magic to dispel the darkness.
What was revealed was a human-sized octopus that was clinging on to Mob Girl.
It was that. The Octopus that was in the penultimate boss fight before the Witch.
It was also the thing that tried to kidnap Vernell 3 years ago.
Basically, this thing had manipulated Mob Girl and had her name herself as the Witch.
The legs I cut off immediately began to regenerate; it really was eco-friendly.
If it was used as a takoyaki ingredient, then one could eat unlimited takoyaki.
“No, it is a Greater Demon. And I understand its plan. Most likely, it’s manipulating Elizabet-san to name herself as Witch, and trying to shift our focus away from the academy.”
The Witch’s true identity was Alexia.
So if anyone else named herself as Witch without calling herself Alexiae, there would be no effect.
If one wanted to pretend, they needed to name themselves as Alexia or else it would be meaningless.
But that was information limited only to us, who knew that Alexia = Witch.
It didn’t know that we already knew the truth.
That was why it used someone else to name herself as the Witch. It did such a stupid thing.
From the Octopus’s point of view, there was no point in needlessly revealing information on Alexia (her identity) to us, who supposedly still didn’t have such knowledge yet.
However, that resulted in them forming this stupidly obvious scheme.
“To think you would say that… what else am I besides the Witch who commands this Greater Demon…”
Mob Girl… nah, Octopus who spoke through Mob Girl, still tried to continue its plan to make us believe that Mob Girl = Witch.
But for us, who already knew that Alexia = Witch, there was nothing it could do to make us believe such a farce.
Yet, it seemed that their side didn’t know that we already knew the truth about the Witch.
It would be easy to just say “We already know the true Witch true is Alexia,” but that would be stupid.
One would never knew if and when information was leaked, and one couldn’t guarantee there were no listening devices.
There was a chance there could be others who used magic to listen in… while I should be able to notice it, I couldn’t say the chance was 0.
It was a common trope in Manga, but saying unnecessary things when characters were convinced of their victory was a huge flag before losing.
Saying something like “I will tell you as your souvenir to the land of the dead” was something that often happened when one was captured, and the enemy was led on to needlessly reveal information.
I wanted to avoid that kind of thing as much as possible.
That was why this time I would say vague things that would misdirect the enemy.
“It seems you’re unable to hear it… that girl’s cries for help.”
I also couldn’t hear it though!
With that, I didn’t expose anything regarding Alexia, and made it Mob Girl’s fault instead
The reason I reached the truth was not because I already had information about the Witch.
It was because I heard the Mob Girl’s inner voice crying for help!
As I said that, Mob Girl’s eyes filled with tears. LOL.
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I immediately went to a certain place as the search for Eterna began. It was the pond behind the school building.
To put it bluntly, it was too troublesome to search every area in the school, so I opted for a more convenient method instead.
Nothing happened initially as I approached the pond, but I then touched water and lightly sent mana into it.
Then as the water surface lifted, the turtle showed its face.
“Oh, you called Elrise?”
“Yes. I want to borrow your power for a bit.”
“It seems something has happened?”
This turtle was capable of seeing most of the things that occurred in this world.
However, it only had one brain so this obviously limited the amount of information it could process at the time. As such, it was not like it knew everything that was going on in this world right as it was happening.
What it could do was see things that it happened to focus on at that moment.
To put it in Earth terms, if this turtle used its power to see things that were happening in New York City, USA, then it would be unable to see things that were happening in Japan at the same moment.
It was like a TV channel.
It was up to the viewer which channel they wished to watch, but if they chose one program, they would be unable to watch other programs at the same time.
If one wanted to watch the SASUKE Year-End Special, one would be unable to watch Kodoku no Gurume, which runs at the same time. It was something like that.
That was why it wouldn’t be a good thing for the Turtle if the Witch managed to teleport.
In case the Witch deployed a barrier that prevented her from being observed, the turtle could just locate a “place where it couldn’t observe anything” and speculate that perhaps that was where the Witch might be located.
Even if the Witch successfully teleported away, this turtle could predict where she might have gone.
But a prediction was still just a prediction, not a prophecy. It had said before that it was possible for its prediction to be wrong.
So, in case the Witch teleported away to a place which wasn’t within the turtle’s prediction… Then the turtle had to survey the whole of Fiori just to search for a “place which couldn’t be observed.”
In the end, this turtle’s ability was convenient, but not absolute, and it couldn’t observe everything at the same time.
And it seemed it was currently looking somewhere outside of the Academy.
Otherwise it wouldn’t have said “It seems something has happened?”
“Yes. A person has gone missing from this Academy”
“I see. It seems that this is not the right time to watch over the Kamekichi and Kamemi couple quarrel.”
What was this turtle watching again?
This really wasn’t the right time to watch such a thing.
Or rather, to watch other people… nay, another turtle couple quarrel, it sure had such a bad hobby.
Anyway, let’s leave that bad hobby aside.
What was needed right this time was its clairvoyance.
“Surely you know about Eterna-san, right? I need you to find out where she is right now.”
Regarding Eterna’s identity, surely it didn’t need to be explained.
This turtle knew I was a fake Saint.
In that case, it already knew that Eterna was the real Saint, so that was all I needed to say.
Turtle closed its eyes. After “observing” something for a bit, it opened its mouth.
“Found her. But something weird seems to be going on.”
“Yes. She is still inside the Academy, but… somehow, she has been pushed into a strange place.”
A strange place, huh. Was she being pushed into a locker?
While I thought that, I probably should listen to the turtle more intead.
“A hidden passage… It seems to be that kind of thing. It looks like a secret room was deliberately built behind one of the walls in the academy. Eterna is being confined there, but… it’s not just her. Several students have also been captured.”
Hoon, a hidden passage? So such a thing existed in this academy.
No, well, Diaz must’ve used his authority as headmaster to create such a thing.
I had thought it was only Eterna who got captured, but it seemed like there were other people huh.
I didn’t know why they were kidnapped as well, but all I needed to do was catch the culprit and interrogate them about it.
Even if I didn’t know the culprit’s main purpose, I still had to rescue them all first anyway.
“Do you see the culprit?”
“Uhm… There is a girl nearby that’s enveloped in darkness. I guess she seems to be the obvious culprit.”
“Is it Alexia?”
“No, it’s not. Alexia is still underground.”
The description of a woman enveloped in darkness initially brought to mind the possibility that it was the Witch.
If the turtle wasn’t here, then I might’ve ended up misunderstanding that the culprit of this incident was Alexia.
This was because I’ve never actually met Alexia before.
I’ve seen her through the game, but there could be several differences between a mere illustration drawn on screen versus a real person. If I saw a person with a similar hair color and build, I might end up mistaking her for someone else.
Actually, I even mistook myself as Eterna when I first saw myself.
“Mu, they’re moving from the hidden passage toward the rooftop. On top of that, tentacles made out of darkness have snared the students… it seems they plan to bring them along as well.”
Mu, I didn’t know what they planned to do, but it seemed that the culprit was moving toward the rooftop of the academy, which was a more visible place.
That was favorable for me. I could go there immediately and catch the culprit.
For now, I decided to stealthily get there ahead of them using light refraction.
“Thank you very much, Propheter.”
“So you’re going. While I don’t think you need me to remind you, still be careful.”
At the turtle’s encouragement, I flew up toward the rooftop.
Well then, sorry for this but I’m going to have to end this quickly.
One of the female students was being manipulated by Octo; she walked through the hidden passage toward the Rooftop.
Elizabet Iblis1. This was the name of the female student that Octo turned into the Witch’s double.
Her looks weren’t what people would call beautiful.
It wasn’t bad, but also wasn’t that good. Common seemed to be the most fitting word to describe her.
She had monolid eyes. The bridge of her nose was neither high nor low.
Her face was asymmetrical, and her teeth were crooked and stained yellow.
Her brown hair reached her waist, and she had a floral accessory similar to Elrise’s (if one looked closely, they could see that the flower had withered) which she had made herself.
She yearned for Elrise.
And at the same time, she was also jealous of her and slighted.
At first, it was merely envy.
She had been born to a noble family, and when she was 11 years old she had seen the Saint at the ball. She developed a yearning for that appearance.
She desperately wanted to also be like the Saint.
That was why she fitted a floral accessory similar to Elrise’s, and mimicked Elrise’s tone to seem more like her. She also matched her hair’s length to Elrise’s.
Yes, in the beginning, it was merely an amusing game of Pretend.
One mimicked what they admired. It started with one’s appearance… There was nothing strange about it.
But as she grew, her originally blond hair turned brown. No matter how you looked at it, the form reflected on the mirror was not Elrise.
This was natural. In the first place, she really wasn’t Elrise.
It was obvious that people would look different from each other. There was nothing unusual about that at all.
Normally, one would eventually be resigned to this reality, and come to terms with themselves.
But inside of her, this yearning had transformed into something distorted.
In the beginning it was just the sentiment of, “I, too, wish to be like that.”
Then it changed into, “If only I looked like that.”
Since she had entered the academy and got into close proximity with the object of her yearnings, this distorted feeling gradually grew even stronger, and her heart got more corrupted every time she saw Elrise..
It reached the point where her yearning had become “Why am I not Elrise?” To console herself she thought, “If only I was born under different circumstances, I could’ve become Elrise,” and fooled herself with such absurd delusions.
If she were born differently, she might have become Saint Elrise herself.
She might have had that kind of beauty.
No, she was supposed to have it. That was definitely the case.
She comforted her own twisted heart by looking away from reality and wallowing into delusion.
She dreamed of a world where she was born as Elrise, immersing herself in a happy daydream where all the cheers and fanfare, all the Saint’s glory and fame for the Saint was directed to her.
As she continued with this wild yearning, she lost herself in it, and finally what was reality and what was fantasy had become reversed in her mind.
I was the real Elrise, yet why was she the one getting worshipped as the Saint instead?!
She took away my glory, my fame. Those things are supposed to be mine! What a shady bitch!
I am the original. She merely copied me!
Shockingly, Elizabet began to think like that.
These were absurd thoughts. They didn’t make any sense.
She was no longer capable of distinguishing between reality and her own delusions and she began to act as if she was the Saint. In her own mind, she conveniently replaced Elrise with herself and talked as if the real Elrise was an impostor.
She treated her fellow classmate with (what in her mind was) a smile of kindness, and she declared that she would protect the world.
Needless to say, everyone else around her only saw it as a blasphemous and laughable imitation.
The smile that she thought of as a smile of kindness was actually a disgusting one filled with vanity, self-satisfaction, and narcissism; the way she forcefully tried to mimic Elrise’s tone didn’t suit her at all.
There was no one who wanted to be friends with her… To begin with, this was an institution that raised knights that served the Saint. In such a place, no one wished to be associated with an idiotic woman who insulted the Saint and believed herself to be the real one.
In no time at all, she was isolated and seen as a nuisance by everyone around her.
On top of that, news of her actions and words reached her parents. Deeply ashamed by this, they apologized to the academy and applied to have Elizabet drop out from school.
On the academy’s end, they accepted her parents’ decision without hesitation and her expulsion was scheduled to take place this month.
Elizabet also received a letter from her father, wherein he expressed his shame of her and scolded her. This upset Elizabet even further.
Ah, why did no one understand?
I am Elrise. Even though I love everyone and the world so much.
As she thought that, she hated everything even more.
While she kept saying she loved everything, she also hated it, but in her mind this was not inconsistent.
Because in the end, she was merely immersed in her delusion that she loved everyone and the world.
She didn’t truly love it, and didn’t even really care about the world.
She merely thought that this was how Elrise thought and acted as such.
Ah, I’m so jealous. It’s hateful. If only Elrise didn’t exist, then I would be Elrise instead.
If only she didn’t exist, then I would be the one who receives all the glory and fame.
Elizabet hated Elrise because of this absurd line of thought, which already destroyed the very premise of her delusions.
Needless to say, if Elrise really didn’t exist, she wouldn’t receive any glory or fame.
It was because they were different people from the very beginning. She was Elizabet Iblis, not Elrise.
Corrupted thoughts that were no longer capable of separating delusion from reality.
There was also her reputation with the people around her.
And regardless of what happened, she would disappear from the academy anyway.
These factors caught Octo’s eye.
It had to be her. If it was her, no one would be surprised if she took over the role of the Witch.
She was a little weak, but all Octo really needed was for her to do the role properly.
The important requirement was that no one loved her. She was hated by everyone.
Even better was the fact she had talked badly about the Saint on a daily basis.
The moment she repeatedly spoke disrespectfully toward the Saint, everyone already saw her as an existence that should disappear.
Then everyone would also think, “If only she was the Witch’s follower, then I could cut her down on the spot.”
That kind of thinking would soon change from “If only she was the Witch or her follower” into “You probably are the Witch or her follower.”
Surprisingly, if people’s expectations seemed likely to be met, then they became less suspicious.
Even if anyone realized that she was merely crazy, they wouldn’t try hard to disprove their expectations because they wished her to fulfill them.
Then the students, nay, everyone would think,
“Ah, as expected.”
Octo planned to manipulate everyone’s thoughts in such a direction.
Humans were strange. Even if they doubted or had suspicions about something, if the majority opposed them then they were easily and thought“It really might be the case.”
Elrise herself might be more intelligent.
She might have thought that there was no way this kind of small fry could be a Witch.
But what would happen if the majority of voices overrode her opinion?
If everyone but Elrise said “She is the Witch” then Elrise couldn’t ignore it.
And with that, it might be possible to change how Elrise thought using the majority.
100 fools would lead the sage into doubt.
That was why Octo planned to make it into a big spectacle, as if the Witch had really appeared in front of masses.
It manipulated Elizabet to go up to the rooftop and declare that she was the Witch. Using Octo’s tentacles to make it look like she had the power of darkness, she would then expose the poor, captured students.
It might be better to kill one or two of them.
That would make all the witnesses feel aggression and hatred towards her, then Octo would escape before Elrise arrived.
If that happened, the majority would then say “Defeat Witch Elizabet” which would force Elrise to move.
For that first step, it moved toward the rooftop, then unleashed its mana
First, there had to be a flashy rampage that could be witnessed by a great number of students.
Carrying out this first step, Octo began shooting magic toward the students who were currently practicing at the athletic field.
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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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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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