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Chapter 55: Frightened Witch
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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