Akashic Records Of The Bastard Magical Instructor - Volume 3 - Chapter 5
Chapter 5: Riel
The next day;the day where the class tour of the research facility finally arrived.
After a light breakfast, Glen's class set off departed from their lodgings. The class moved in a loose trail as they headed towards the Platinum magic research institute located in the center of Saineria Island.
Although the coastal area in the northeast, where the sightseeing district was, underwent a fair amount of development and expansion, most of the island was still an expanse of untouched vegetation and woodland. There were still areas of the island that had yet to be seen.
The full extent of the ecosystem in the unexplored areas had yet to be grasped as well. Whenever a Magic Academies or Imperial Universities sent teams to perform scheduled surveys, they would almost discover new species of flora, fauna, and magic-beasts.
Aside from the northeastern coastal area and the several zones assigned for use in outdoor activities, the island's grounds were restricted to ordinary members of the public.
The destination for this time's 'Field Study' was the Platinum magic research institute, located at the center of such an island.
Glen and the group continued down the stone footpath connecting the coast and the central area. The path which cut a line through the dense woodland was surrounded on both sides by luxuriant primeval overgrowth. The tree branches that were easily an arm's length above their heads created vast amounts of shade, causing the path below to be decorated with lights of various shapes and sizes.
Although there was a stone path, the quality of it was worlds apart from the pavements of the delicately crafted streets of Fejiti. The natural undulations of the earth were left unattended and the stones were disorderly and misaligned. Never before had they walked atop a path more difficult to traverse. There were portions of the path where no stones had been laid and there were also sections that could only be considered a 'footpath' in name alone.
Aside from Glen, who had a long military career, and a few of the students that came from the rural countryside, the students, who generally came from metropolises, were all running on fumes.
’’Hah , Hah , uugh...’’
’’Hey Rin, you okay? I've still got energy to spare so I can carry your stuff if you don't mind.’’
’’...T-, Thanks Cashew... As expected from someone who wants to be an adventurer in the future...’’
’’Haha, it's just cause I'm a country bumpkin.’’
’’Keeh... Why... does a noble like me... have to do this...-! Call for a carriage...-! I need...-!’’
’’Hmpf... That's... quite the sloven look... you got there, isn't it... Wendy? Perhaps... this was too much... for a spoiled lady... like you?’’
’’How ironic... to hear that from you... What of your usual... sharpness... Gibel?’’
Lumia's group was no different.
’’Hah ...Hah ...Hah ...’’
Lumia wiped her sweat with ragged breaths, but even so, she continued to walk forward with all the strength she could muster. Sistina called out to her with concern.
’’...Are you okay, Lumia?’’
’’I'm... not feeling... too great... What about you?’’
’’I'm doing alright, it's tough... but I can push through one way or another... I guess...’’
In accordance to her words, Sistina's movements displayed her considerable fatigue, but her heft of her breaths were lighter compared to the rest of the class.
’’You're strong, Sisti... I'm pretty worn out...’’
’’It's a bit odd... You and I shouldn't have much of a difference in terms of stamina... Maybe the thing I was doing day after day is having an effect...?’’
’’...? What thing?’’
’’Eh? Ah, no no! It's nothing really!’’
Lumia tilted her head in puzzlement in response to Sistina's frantic head shaking and denial.
’’W-, Well, the stronger one here... is by far her.’’
Avoiding the topic, Sistina turned her head behind her.
Her gaze met with Riel, who followed closely behind Sistina.
Riel's expression was unfazed. Whilst the members of the class showed differing extents of fatigue, hers was still drowsy and uninterested. Her breaths were calm and there was not a single drop of sweat to be seen. The sense of tranquility exuded by her made it seem as though she wasn't breathing at all.
’’...She really is an Imperial Court Magician... A soldier...’’
Sistina whispered so that only Lumia could hear her voice of admiration.
’’It's good that she's safe...’’
When the topic shifted to Riel, Lumia remembered the events that transpired this morning.
’’When we woke up, Riel was gone...’’
’’Despite everyone causing a mess we still couldn't find her, but then she suddenly showed up a few moments before we were about to leave.’’
Recalling the events, Sistina let out a sigh, and turned back towards Riel and said.
’’Don't do something like that again okay Riel? If you keep this up you'll become like Glen-sensei in the future.’’
Riel replied to Sistina's warnings with silence... It was then
The messy paving had a part where it seemed to crumble. Riel, despite having happened to step on it, didn't fall over, but she still crumpled onto one knee. It was a rare faltering from someone of Riel's physical prowess.
Pressing her fatigue aside, Lumia rushed to Riel's side.
’’...Are you okay? The footing is pretty bad here, so let's be careful alright?’’
Worried, Lumia stretched a hand towards Riel to help her up...
Riel smacked Lumia's hand aside.
Lumia was bewildered, unable to understand why Riel had acted this way.
’’...Don't touch me.’’ Riel said with hostility behind her voice
Riel stood up and brushed past Lumia and Sistina, who were still frozen in place from shock.
’’...Stop right there, Riel.’’
Unable to overlook Riel's actions, Sistina stretched a hand out and caught Riel by the arm.
’’I don't know what's happened, but wasn't that a bit rude? She was just worried about you...’’
’’Shut up I said shut up!’’
Towards Riel's sudden shouts, the entire class stopped in their tracks and turned their eyes towards her.
None had thought that the soft-spoken Riel would raise her voice in such hostility and fervor.
Everyone's face displayed their disbelief.
’’Just leave me alone! Leave me alone already! It's so annoying!’’
’’I I hate you, I hate you all!’’
After shouting and screaming like a child, Riel flung aside Sistina's arm and ran away with her backs towards the two, her shoulders seething with fury and irritation.
Overcome with shock, Lumia and Sistina were at a loss for words.
’’...W-, What was that...?’’
’’The three of them...were getting along quite well yesterday weren't they...?’’
’’I thought Riel had opened up to them, but considering what happened just now...’’
’’...What do you suppose happened between them?’’
The students quietly conversed amongst themselves with the occasional uneasy glance towards Lumia.
’’...-! What the heck was that!? Riel, what is that supposed to mean ’’
With the blood getting to her head, Sistina dashed after Riel with the intent to protest...
Her arm was caught by Lumia.
Turning back, she found Lumia shaking her head in sorrow.
’’I don't know what's happened... but let's leave her alone for now okay?’’
’’...If you say so.’’
Although she couldn't just lay down and accept the situation as it was, Sistina took long breaths in an attempt to calm her mind.
’’But what was up with her? Her attitude took a 180 compared to yesterday... I don't understand it at all.’’
’’...Sisti’’ Lumia said, her expression colored in grief and anguish.
’’Do you think that maybe she really does hate me...’’
’’Riel... lives in a different world from us... but I decided to lead her on anyway... Maybe she was forcing herself to stick with us all along...? Was I meddling too much..?’’ Lumia said with great sorrow.
’’Not at all.’’ Came a sudden, yet blunt reply.
Lumia and Sistina, caught off guard, quickly turned their heads towards the source.
There they saw Glen, who stayed at the back of the group in case anything happened. Since the entire group had come to a halt due to the earlier incident, he had now caught up.
’’Honestly, I have to thank you two for sticking with that miscreant girl for this long;zero societal skills, cooperativeness, or common sense and all... Thanks a lot really.’’
’’Though, at the same time, I have to apologize. Actually, yesterday night, I said something unnecessary to Riel and she got really angry because of it... so she's a little unstable now... Sorry.’’
’’'Sorry'...? So you're the reason that Riel's like this!?’’
Then, with a flash, Sistina raised an eyebrow.
’’Let me guess, you're also the reason behind her being missing this morning aren't you!? Just what kind of tactless things did you this time!?’’
Connecting all the dots, Sistina rained down on Glen.
Glen, unlike his usual childish self, didn't try to twist his faults with sophism nor did he try to make any excuses, he meekly and apologetically accepted Sistina's judgment in silence. Seeing Glen's downcast expression that could be likened to a scolded boy, Sistina couldn't muster her anger.
’’...You know, she's really just a kid.’’
Glen softly said.
’’She's not all that different from you in terms of appearance... but spiritually and mentally she's really just a little kid. She was made to be like this because of her special upbringing...’’
’’Upbringing... By that you mean...?’’
Before Sistina could finish inquiring
’’It would be better if we didn't know, isn't it?’’ Lumia judged.
’’Thanks for that. I'd rather not lie to you guys, especially since you get along with her.’’
Hmpf. Although Sistina wanted to pry further into Riel's past, hearing Lumia and Glen's exchange made her think better of it.
’’...Hm? What's up White Cat?’’
’’N-, Nothing at all!’’
’’...? Alright then, so that's what it is. This might be a bit much to ask... but uhm... I hope you guys can look over what just happened and remain friendly with her...’’
’’It's okay.’’ Lumia said with a smile, as if to ease Glen's worries.
’’We got along all this time, so her rejection came as a bit of a surprise to us. I won't hate her over something like this.’’
’’We'll be fine sensei. More importantly, shouldn't you go make it up to her? Honestly, whenever you try something you always seem to bring the trouble to us... Ugh.’’
Sistina puffed a cheek and turned her head the other way. Although her words didn't free Glen of responsibility, her clumsy display of concern was much appreciated.
They're good girls aren't they, though... one could stand to be a little less cheeky.
It might be self-serving for me to still think this, but rather than swing her sword and magic in such a bloody and dark world, it'd be better for her to live out her life in a brighter place with these two. That's all I want for her.
Although he hadn't a clue as to how to carry it out, that was what he truly thought.
From then, two hours passed.
Treading through the steep snaking path next to a cliff, crossing over a valley on a suspension bridge, pacing through a ravine which flowed with clear, chilly water... the group finally arrived at the Platinum magic research institute.
’’...Christ, why did they build this research institute in such a remote place...’’
Even Glen cursed under the weight of fatigue as he looked up at the entrance of the facility.
To the rear of the structure was a steep cliff that neighbored a stunning waterfall. To its sides were the dense virgin forests that covered much of the island. The building's immediate surroundings made the facility seem more like a temple instead. The floor of the plaza in front of the facility's main entrance was defined by square tiles, which were spaced at regular intervals regardless of direction. Aquatic vegetation lived in the gaps between each tile, through which pure, clear water flowed without pause.
The faint sounds of trickling water and the light mist from the waterfall's vapors that floated near their feet reflected the dazzling rays of the sun, decorating the hall in with the vivid spectrum of the rainbow. It wouldn't be strange for the picturesque scenery to be a tourist landmark.
’’Really, with how unworldly this seems, I feel like I came for an archaeological survey rather than a field trip...’’ Glen blurted out upon seeing the exquisite view.
’’Hah... Hah... No more...’’
’’I'm fried from all that already...’’
His students were exhausted to say the least. Some opted to sit down, while others removed their shoes dipped their feet in the flowing water.
Riel stood a short distance away from the group, doing nothing in particular.
’’Erm, one, two, three... Everyone's here right? No one got left behind or anything?’’
Glen took attendance again just to make sure, it was then
’’Welcome, visitors from Alzano Imperial Magic Academy. It must've been a long journey for you all.’’
A robed man appeared before the group.
The man was about forty to fifty years old, on the hem of what could be considered elderly. The top of his head was bald, and a fair amount of his remaining hair and facial hairs were some shade of white. However, he had the demeanor of a friendly old-man and had an oddly approachable presence.
’’My name is Bacchus Braumon. I serve as the chief of the Platinum magic research institute.’’
’’Oh, so you're Bacchus-san.’’
Glen wiped the sweat from his forehead and straighten his posture to face Bacchus.
’’I'm Glen Ryders, in charge of Alzano Imperial Magic Academy's year two class two. Allow me to express my gratitude for taking time out of your day to host my class' 'Field Study'. For a research-focused magician like yourself, Bacchus-san, it must be somewhat irritating to have a bunch of chicks running around the facility. Well, there's no changing that, so I do ask for your continued patience and understanding in the following two days.’’
’’No, there's no need to worry about that.’’
Although Glen's casual tone left something to be desired, Bacchus received him in a cheerful fashion.
’’Those that are here are the eggs that will uphold the future of the Empire. If this experience can nourish their bodies and minds, then there is nothing that I would want more.’’
’’Haha, you're quite a man of character aren't you? If I were you I'd have called this off cause I'd think it'd be too troublesome.’’
Glen shrugged his shoulders with a forced smile.
’’Well then, let up go shall we? Glen-san, could you have the students follow my lead? I shall show them the institute's facilities.’’
’’Hah? Wait... Are you saying that you'll personally act as the guide for the field study?’’
Glen gazed at Bacchus with surprise.
’’No, how could we ask that much of you... I'm sure you're quite busy with your research... Wouldn't it be better for one of your employees to handle this...’’
’’It's fine. To be frank, it is quite depressing to bury my head in magic research and research alone. Socializing with youngsters once in a while is good for the mind and body. Given my authority in this institute, the group can also visit areas that would otherwise be restricted as well. I would like to give the youngsters which uphold the Empire's future the greatest experience possible at my institute with the hopes that they can absorb as much knowledge as they can.’’
’’...Re...Really!? I would've never thought that you would go so far for a mere group like ours... I can't find the words to express my gratitude. Thank you very much, truly.’’
Even Glen couldn't help but feel thankful for Bacchus' sincerity.
As for Sistina, who had watched the scene unfold in close proximity, rushed to talk to Lumia with restless glee and excitement.
’’Hey hey Lumia, did you hear that? It seems like our 'Field Study' is going to be amazing! We're so lucky to be able to see the latest in magic research, don't you think!? You know, even if its labeled the latest, usually all we get to actually see is stuff from one or two generations of research ago!’’
However, Lumia remained silent, an uneasy expression on her face.
’’...Lumia? What's up? Did something happen?’’
’’...Eh? No, nothing's happened really. Nothing at all. I was just a bit surprised at how well the reception is. Bacchus-san is a really great person.’’
’’That's right. Amongst pure-research magicians, there aren't many with such modest and forthcoming personalities you know?’’
Mhm, that's right. Maybe I'm just overthinking this... Lumia convinced herself.
Lumia had heard of Bacchus' name in essays and theses regarding magic, but was not at all acquainted with him. This was the first time she'd ever met him.
The ice-cold gaze that Bacchus had for a brief moment when he was conversing with Glen... I must've just been imagining it.
I can't make Sisti worry about such a baseless, irrational fear when she's looking forward to this tour either.
Lumia convinced herself that it must've been a figment of her imagination and worked to forget the incident.
Under Bacchus' lead, Glen and the students examined the operations of the Platinum magic research institute.
Based on their experiences, it would be appropriate to call the place 'the temple of water'.
Regardless of whether it was a room or passageway, waterways stretched throughout the entire facility. The clear flowing water filled the building with the scent of clean vapors. Despite the facility being indoors, trees and shrubbery were allowed to grow without restraint;the vitality that filled each room could be felt on the surface of their skin. There were luminous moss amongst the flora that lived indoors as well. Despite there being no lamps or windows, there interior of the building still managed to maintain strangely lit. At fixed intervals, they would come across monoliths that shined with black luster. On the surface of these monolith were some glyphs. They were too complicated to read, but it was likely that they were used to maintain the environment and ecosystem within the building.
’’Platinum magic... is a composite technique derived from white magic and alchemy. The main topic which this field concerns is, as you should all know, life. Thus, our research usually requires that the area be filled with the mana that is derived from fresh life and organisms. That is why the condition of the building is as you can see. Despite the troubles, it is quite charming is it not?’’
With that, Bacchus led the class through various research rooms.
In a room grew a variety of medicinal herbs with a range of effects. The research taking place was focused towards cultivating better medicinal herbs through selective breeding.
In a room, boulders and crystals were piled on top of a magic circle, with the hopes of developing mineral life forms.
In a room, large amount of plants and animal were crammed into a giant glass cylinder, where the biological makeup of the organisms were studied.
In a room, several plants and animals were combined together conduct research on chimera creation.
In a room, there were several magic computing units used to gather and analyze the genetic and soul information of humans and animals.
...Working in each and every room were likely the leading researchers of the magician elite, who didn't look away for a moment as they immersed themselves in their research.
’’This is... quite incredible.’’
Due to the unique environment and facilities required, for the students, this research was in an entirely different realm. Coming into contact with this research that they would scantily see, let alone touch, the students were all overwhelmed.
’’...This is really something else. I'd have never thought that people would be able to do this much...’’
Of course Sistina was no exception. Moments earlier, she had watching intently as a research era spell to precisely operate a pipe organ-like magic apparatus to control organisms at the cellular level. Next to the apparatus was a towering slab made of magic crystal which projected the results of the cellular shift using light magic.
Sistina eyes clung to the projection and spoke to Lumia.
’’I did say I want major in magic archaeology... but seeing this... gives me second thoughts really... What about you, Lumia?’’
’’Well, erm... I'm planning to become a magic bureaucrat and not a researcher.’’
Then, Lumia said in a voice that could only be heard by SIstina.
’’Also... Seeing makes me feel a little... scared honestly.’’
’’Uhm... like... should we really be tampering with the lives of living organisms however we see fit...?’’
Hearing Lumia's honest thoughts, Sistina reflexively gulped.
The rest of the students probably recognized this as well... Surely, this was a question they would all like to avoid.
It was also true that not everything they saw at this facility was all beautiful or mysterious.
They could certainly accept creatures being brought to life, but when they had been brought to a homunculus specimen that had no choice but to live out its life in a glass cylinder, they all felt a sense of indescribable dread and guilt. There were also grotesque lifeforms that they had instinctively looked away from. Surely, those biological specimens came as a result of some failure to recreate life. Although frozen at the current time, there had also seen a large number of military-use chimeras that were likely created solely as murder machines. The summary, chronology, and results of such research were displayed in the showroom.
Tampering with life was against her virtues. It was a blasphemous act;prideful, arrogant. It was only natural for Lumia to feel scared about such research.
Yet, despite that, the mysteries of life had been a pervasive, omnipresent theme of magic. If they even once touch that forbidden fruit, then as a human, and above all as a magician, they would become unable to suppress their covetous thirst for knowledge. There was no more going back. The research on the mysteries of life could not be halted once it began.
Even Glen, who served as a champion for the hatred of all things magic, found himself unable to resist the urge, and fixed his eyes on the open research. Sistina was unable to hide her surprise.
’’I see... So when someone becomes too engrossed in this they'll descend into the realm of heretical magicians...’’
’’There's nothing we can do about our thirst for knowledge, we're human after all, but we can't allow ourselves to go too far. We can't allow ourselves to forget what we're doing, and for what purpose...’’
’’...Mm, we need to be careful to not lose ourselves in our own desires.’’
To calm her nerves, Sistina released a long breath.
’’How should I say this...? It's expected, but they really are doing 'that research' here... Well, it should be more or less a given anyway.’’
Sistina jokingly commented, hoping to change the heavy mood.
’’'That research', what do you mean Sisti?’’
’’Ah , mhm. It's, well... research to resurrect and revive the dead. A while back, the Empire started a massive magic project under its banner, if I remember correctly, its name was... Ermm ’’
’’... [Project: Revive Life]’’ suddenly came the voice of a third-party.
Sistina and Lumia turned around in surprise. Standing there was the ever-warm and friendly old-man Bacchus.
’’I'd never thought that I would hear about this from students... You've studied well, haven't you? I'm sure an excellent youngster like you will bring light to the future of the Empire.’’
’’No, how could I... It's just a coincidence! Excuse me for my discourtesy!’’
Sistina shrunk in a panic.
Although unable to understand why Sistina apologized, Lumia voiced her question.
’’Uhm... Bacchus-san. Would you mind explaining what this [Project: Revive Life] is...?’’
’’Hm? What do you mean by that miss?’’
’’Mm... In class we learned and discussed that it was impossible to bring the dead back to life...’’
’’Fufu, you must be talking about the derivation of Marvel's Cosmozone theory. Death cannot be reversed, yes?’’
Bacchus continued with a smile.
’’Certainly, it is as you say. The structure of life is divided into three essential parts;the [Material Body], which makes up the physical body, [Astral Body], which makes up the mind, and [Aether Body], which makes up the soul... When a living being passes on, the three essentials come apart and each return to the cycle from which they came from. The [Material Body] returns to the cycle of nature, the [Astral Body] returns to the collection of unconscious in the Eighth World... the sea of consciousness, and the [Aether Body] returns to the cycle of reincarnation, the wheel of providence. Thusly ’’
After a short pause, Bacchus looked directly into Lumia's eyes and said.
’’After life, the [Astral Body] dissolve in the sea of consciousness and the [Aether Body] will reincarnate into its next life. As a result, bringing back the dead is impossible These are the irreversible circumstances behind death. As of now, there are also no spells that would allow this barrier to be overcomer. Which brings us to our resurrection plan [Project: Revive Revive Life]... The name [Re ’’
’’[Project: Revive Life], at its core, takes the three essentials of life that Bacchus-san just mentioned and tries to replace them with something else in an attempt to bring the dead back to life.’’
Suddenly Glen butted into the conversation as if to take the spotlight.
’’With the 'Gene ·Code' taken from the hereditary information of the person you want to revive as a basis, you can create a substitute body using alchemical means. Then by taking the soul of another and formatting it clean using several methods, you can create an [Alter ·Aether] to use as a substitute for the soul. Then you can take the spiritual information from the person you want to revive and convert that into [Astral ·Code] to use as a substitute for the spirit. Finally, you can combine the substitutes of the three essentials together, and bring about the revival of the person... That about sums up the technique...’’
’’Hey sensei! Thanks for the explanation, but Bacchus-san was talking wasn't he!? It's rude for you to butt in!’’
’’Oh, I'm so sorry. The topic seemed interesting so I just...’’
Glen flippantly attempted to calm Sistina's ange.
’’Ah , sorry about butting in, Bacchus-san...’’
’’No no, I don't mind in the slightest. On the contrary, your explanation was commendable, as expected of a current instructor of the academy. Not only was your reasoning was logical and cogent;it was much faster to allow you to explain in my stead.
The friendly Bacchus-san said with a laugh. Glancing at Glen, who forced an awkward smile, Lumia pondered to herself.
Plan to resurrect the dead, [Project: Revive Life].
Basically, it takes a copy and a copy and a copy, and puts them together to create a copy of a person. If all the components are copies then the revived product will share nothing with the original.
’’But... could that still be called resurrection?’’
’’Certainly, with this method, the person that is revived is not strictly the same as the original. However, to the others around them, a person that was supposed to be lost has returned with a completely identical appearance and the recollections of their persona... That in itself is quite useful is it not? If this is successful, than even if a great hero or talent passed away due to unforeseen events, it would be possible to immediately bring them back with the same abilities and form...’’
Lumia got goosebumps at the thought of it. If she were to die... And then appeared a her that wasn't herself that was treated by Sistina and everyone else as 'Lumia'. Then it was as if she was the copy instead...
The more she thought about thought about it, the more twisted and frightening it became.
’’I understand your unease. After all, what you are surely feeling right now was a topic of heavy debate from the beginning to end of the project, and was also a great cause of discussion for the priests of the Empire's church. There was even a time where the Holy Elizareth church of the Rezalia kingdom participated in the discussion.’’
That was of no surprise. The doctrines of both the new and old sects of the Elizareth church advocated that life was a gift from god;Blessings for when one's life came to an end, and wishes for when they moved on to the next. The contents of this research directly opposed their doctrine. It wasn't hard to imagine that this was a cause for conflict and chaos between those that advocated for research and those of the devout orthodox.
’’However, do rest assured. From a results perspective, this researched ended with decisive failure. This was because as the research proceeded we encountered the functional limitations of the magic language 'rune', which served as an absolute barrier that we found no way to overcome. As a result, the project was, albeit all too soon, fated for abandonment.’’
’’What do you mean by that? Do you mean that the techniques and formulation methods at the time weren't enough?’’ Lumia asked curiously.
’’Lumia, do you remember that Rune language is based off from the timbre of the first soul in this world... 'The sound of origin'?’’
Hearing that, Lumia replied to Glen was another question.
’’Ah, yes I do. It's because Rune is a similar language to [The Sound of Origin] that the chanting of spells require special enunciation techniques. Although we, at a conscious level are unable to understand the meaning, we are, however, able to clearly derive its meaning at a subconscious level, right? However, even if it's said to be close to [The Sound of Origin], it is first and foremost a creation of the people, so it's fairly incomplete compared to the language of angels and dragons...’’
’’That's right. You've remembered it well. So, back on topic, the grouping of Rune creates the functions of magic, and the grouping of these functions creates a magical technique... This lead us to the problem. No matter how you use Rune, there's no grouping of functions or methods that would allow us to combine the three essentials of life into one. It's not that the formulation techniques of the time weren't enough, but rather an underlying problem with an incomplete magic language like Rune. Given Rune's potential and specs, it was proved that it was impossible to bring the technique to competition. That's what he means by the functional limits of the magic language Rune.’’
Having explained this much in one go, Glen shrugged his shoulders.
’’Essentially, regardless of how capable a blacksmith is, given steel, it's impossible for the blacksmith to create a sword that is harder and tougher than steel itself. Thus, that sword cannot easily cut a shield made of mithril.’’
’’Ha-ha-ha-, that is quite the explanation, Glen-sensei.’’
’’On top of that, there is one key problem. Perhaps this problem is greater than the functional limits of Rune.’’
Ignoring Bacchus' praises, Glen plainly continued.
’’One of the three essentials needed to perform resurrection... About the substitute for the soul [Alter ·Aether]... Other than taking the extracting the souls of various unrelated parties, then processing and refining them, there is no other known way to create it.’’
’’Eh!? By that... you don't mean...’’
’’That's right. To revive a single person, many others will certainly die. There is no way that this would be allowed. We humans aren't gods, we have no right to choose who lives or who dies.’’
’’My my, you've certainly taken all of the glory for yourself. Anyway, due to the plethora of issues you have kindly brought up, the project was sealed in the end.’’
With a beaming smile, Bacchus supplemented Glen's uninvited explanation.
’’Apparently, some magic society had stolen some documents related to the project and, using some extraordinarily talented alchemist, somehow brought the project to fruition... Though, I must say that these are fake anecdotes at best.’’
’’I've heard those rumors as well, but those are an urban legend at best.’’
Lumia noticed a graven expression on Glen's face for a mere moment as he then fell silent.
’’...No, It's nothing.’’
Glen turned his head away.
Lumia, hoping to disperse the awkward mood that Glen had created, threw a question at Bacchus, albeit in form only.
’’Uhm... Just out of curiosity... in order to make [Project: Revive Life] work... what else is necessary? That is, assuming that the problem of sacrifices is already solved...’’
’’Oh? Do you wish challenge [Project: Revive Life], which has been branded as absolutely impossible?’’
’’Ah, no, it's really just out of curiosity...’’
Lumia quickly denied the statement as she waved her hands.
’’It's fine. That said, people like myself are already trapped by our great general knowledge of the magic realm, so it becomes impossible for us to re-evaluate such a problem from scratch. To be frank, I am quite jealous of the point of view of you youngsters.’’
’’A-, Ahaha... No way...’’
Before the bashful Lumia, Bacchus placed a hand to his lips and pondered for a moment.
’’Hmm... I suppose... for [Project: Revive Life] which is said to be impossible, there are roughly two ways to make it succeed. The first is original magic.
’’Yes. Original magic refers to a person's unique magic affinity... It is magic that applies the current state of the soul. There have been incidents where original magic has allowed techniques that were impossible in theory to succeed. If there were someone who bore a magical affinity that was peculiar to [Project: Revive Life]... Then I believe that they would bring success.
’’But the chances of such a person appearing are astronomically low is it not?’’
Sistina reflexively butted in.
’’Hahaha, perhaps so. As for the other possibility... is through the use of a language that is closer to [The Sound of Origin] than Rune. For example, the language of dragons or angels. Those languages are overwhelming closer to [The Sound of Origin] than the language we use, thus I believe that the chances of success are very high if that were the case.’’
’’But, people aren't able to use the language of dragons or angels as a magic language...’’
’’Indeed. However, if another language appears that can be used as a magic language beyond Rune then... Well, perhaps that is too much of a tangent in and of itself.’’
Bacchus followed with a light cackle that seemed to bear some sentiment.
’’E-, Excuse me for asking such a pointless question...’’
’’It's fine. Talking to youngsters like you makes me feel young again. Of course, that is all the more so with beautiful ladies such as yourselves.’’
’’N-, Not really...’’
’’Ahaha, and you have quite the tongue for flattery, Bacchus-san.’’
Lumia and Sistina bashfully replied.
’’Now then, I suppose it's about time we keep moving. There are still many places I would like you all to visit...’’
A countless number of mysteries were unveiled one after another;there appeared to be no end to surprises. For the students, who were all aspired to work in the some realm of magic in the future, this was certainly a meaningful time.
Time flew by quickly. By the time the tour ended, it was already nearing sunset.
The class reluctantly returned home. The students, in their undying excitement, seemed to forget their fatigue as they traversed the ill path from which they came, passionately discussing magic all along the way. When they arrived at their lodgings in the northeastern coastal area, the skies were already dark.
It was now free time. Those who still had strength went to town for food and to browse the roadside stalls. Those who didn't retired for the night. The students formed their own groups and went about their own things.
Riel stayed away from the groups, but with no real purpose, she idly stood outside the building. Her figure seemed even smaller than usual.
Unable to bear the sight, Lumia called out to her.
’’Hey Riel, we're going to town to get some food. Would you like to come with...’’
’’...Don't want to.’’
However, Riel bluntly refused and turned around to leave.
Lumia looked at Riel's back with sadness.
Sistina glared at the same back with irritation.
Then, someone quickly moved to intercept Riel.
’’Oi, that's enough Riel.’’
It was Glen.
Even he couldn't turn a blind eye to this. Not getting along was one thing, but at this rate, Riel's attitude would interfere with her primary duty as a bodyguard. Mentally preparing himself for a scolding if necessary, Glen pulled on Riel's shoulder.
’’How long are you planning on sulk ’’
However, Riel flung Glen's arm aside and quickly ran away. Pushing away everyone in her way, she dashed into an alleyway and soon disappeared from sight.
’’...Tch, that idiot...’’
Now then, what do I do now? Glen thought of how to deal with Riel.
’’Go after her, sensei.’’ Lumia called out to Glen.
’’We'll be fine. Riel's more important right now. If we go after her, it'll probably have the opposite effect... For now, I think it's best that you be with her.’’
’’... Sorry about this.’’
Glen couldn't allow himself to leave Riel alone when she was in such an unstable state either.
’’I'll go have a word with her.’’
Saying than, Glen dashed after Riel.
’’Hah Hah Hah ’’
The scenery flew past her as quickly as it came.
Riel, in a burst of impulse and emotions, continued to run, with no end-goal in mind.
Why? Why does my head my head hurt? Why is it so hard to breathe? Why does my chest sting? Why do my eyes burn?
Am I sick?
Questions for which she could not the find the answers to stormed within her and showed no signs of receding.
Lumia looked sad.
Sistina looked angry.
When they look at me like that... Why does my chest feel heavy? Why do my eyes feel hot? Why does it feel so unpleasant?
Did I make some mistake?
...That doesn't matter... It's because of them that Glen left my side.
I can't be with people who robbed me of Glen.
They're the bad ones. It's their fault.
That why I'm sure I hate them.
That's why I'm sure that all these good feelings I've had with them are lies.
That's why I'm sure that this pain in my chest is just my imagination. It must be.
’’Why... Why does it hurt so much...?’’
Repeating these thoughts many, many times over, Riel continued to run. She ran with all her heart.
As if she were running away. As if she were trying to break through the dead ends of her thoughts.
She ran, and ran, and ran, with all her might.
Riel continued to run further north, having already left the northeastern sightseeing district.
Soon after, she arrived at the former developmental landscape.
The area had previously been planned for future development into a new sightseeing district, but due to a multitude of complications, the development had been abandoned. At present, it was a ghost town with only Riel present.
There was not a single lamp to illuminate the darkness of the night.
Riel wandered through the dead town with no goal in mind.
Finally, her loitering brought her to what was formerly a harbor.
The waves splashed against the wharf, becoming a spray of droplets before returning to the sea.
The cold sea breeze swept mercilessly against Riel's skin.
She looked down into the pitch black abyss of the sea. It wouldn't seem strange if a monster appeared from its depths. The domain was completely hidden by the darkness, evoking a primal fear.
When I had come to see the sea with Lumia and Sistina yesterday, it had been so pretty.
But now... my knees won't stop shaking at the sight of the sea. It's scary, like a monster.
Will I never be able to such a beautiful moonlit sea again?
As Riel's mind wandered upon that thought
For some reason
Spilled from the edges of her eyes, and she began to weep.
She did not cry out, but the tears would not cease, flowing uncontrollably down her cheeks.
Why is this happening? What is this pressing feeling against my chest?
I've becoming strange.
Ever since this mission. Ever since I went to the academy and met those two, I've become strange. I've become out of place. Even though I've never felt this way before
Riel softly cried by herself.
It came all too suddenly.
’’...You crying, Riel?’’
A voice came from before. It was a voice that she had heard somewhere before.
I didn't even notice them approach until they called out to me? ...Just what is wrong with me right now?
’’ Who is it!?’’
Riel quickly turned around. At the same time, she bent down and pressed her hands on the floor, synthesizing a greatsword on the spot
In an instant, the tip of the blade quickly whirled around with a roar and found itself pointing towards the young white-robed man.
The man's hair was a pale blue rare seen in the empire.
I think... I've seen this person before...
’’...W-, Who are you!? What are you!?’’
But I can't remember.
Riel thought hard and sifted through her memories, but it was as though her mindscape was blurred by an opaque white fog. She could not grasp the man's identity.
Feeling an unknown, yet creeping sense of impatience, Riel pressed the tip of the trembling blade towards and shouted for him to name himself.
’’That's terribly rude. How could you not know who I am...? Well, I suppose it's been quite a while, so it's understandable.’’
Answer me! You... Who are you!? Why do you know who I am!?’’
In contrast to Riel, who seemed like she could burst into a frenzy at any moment, the man showed warm and serene smile. It was as though he believed in Riel would not hurt him... from the bottom of his heart.
’’You should know who I am. Take a moment to think...’’
Riel gazed deeply at the man's face.
His face. His gestures. His expressions. I've definitely seen them before.
But when? Where?
The answer suddenly appeared from the depths of her heart, like bubbles bursting above the surface of water.
’’...Brother? Is that you... Brother?’’
In disbelief of even her own murmurs, Riel gazed at the man.
The man showed a wide smile...
’’Of course, Riel. It's been a while hasn't it...? I've always wanted to meet you.’’
And said such.
In the depths of the forest, submerged in the darkness of this slightly foggy night, was a man wearing all black, with his arms crossed and his back leaned against a tree - Albert. Although unintentional, he made his annoyance clear through the loud click of his tongue.
Albert was currently west of the sightseeing district, inside the forest that belonged to the restricted area.
He simultaneously used multiple farsight spells to monitor Lumia's group from his current position.
He had also been keeping an eye on Riel, who had separated herself on the group, but...
’’...So they've come.’’
Doesn't seem like the Wisdom of the Heavens Research Society will let this chance slip by.
Yet, to think that they've drawn plans this time around as well. The reaches of their influence never fails to scare me.
-It'll take a while before Glen catches up to Riel.
-It's better for me to make a move.
Coming to that decision, Albert turned towards the sightseeing district, but
’’...Hmpf. You're quite quick on the move. No, perhaps I was too naïve.’’
Albert immediately came to a halt and cautiously observed his surroundings.
At some point in time, a rather conspicuous people-warding field had been placed in the area. It seemed like a sound-blocking barrier had been tagged on as well. No one else would notice what happened within the bounds of the field.
There's no reason for anyone unrelated to wander into such a remote area at this time of day. The person behind this is rather prudent.
’’Fufu... Are you alone tonight? Albert-sama...’’
A dangerously heated, yet bewitching female voice rung through the area.
’’Then how about you be my partner tonight? My body feels so hot today that it feels as though it burning... If you would like to join me...’’
A female figure appeared from the shade of a tree behind Albert.
’’I can offer you a burning, passionate summer night's dream. A moment unvirtuous, decadent, yet filled with ecstasy...’’
Albert turned in a polished, efficient motion, pointing his left hand forwards.
Utilizing delayed-activation, he instantaneously fired a spell which he had pre-chanted long beforehand, [Lightning ·Pierce], towards the female figure. The shining beam of light pierced through the darkness.
The woman lightly jumped out of the way, and elegantly landed on the branch of a large tree.
’’I have no interest in easy women like yourself. Disappear.’’
’’Oh my, that's rather cold of you... Not to mention, quite rude. For your knowledge, you should treat women as gently as silk.’’
’’I never would have thought that you would personally involve yourself in this matter, one wing of the Wisdom of the Heavens' Research Society's Adeptus Order, heretical magician Elenora Charlotte.’’
’’My oh my? Even my rank has been exposed? The army is certainly not just for show I suppose.’’
Albert's hawk-like eyes fixed themselves on the Elenora, who showed a ghastly smile as if to dye the night a shade of red.
’’Your presence here means that your group has another deplorable plan involving the princess, does it not? Let's end it here. I will have you take your leave.’’
’’My my, would it hurt to be more patient? Selfish men who have no respect for a woman's advances will find themselves on the receiving end of their distaste. There's truly no need to hurry...’’
Elenora chanted a spell under a breath and then snapped her fingers with a loud click.
Suddenly, several figures burst and pulled themselves out of the ground, surrounding Albert.
The air in the area was filled with the scent of rotting flesh and dead.
Decayed skin, exposed bones;it only took a glance to affirm that these figures were human corpses.
Furthermore, all these figures were female. Albert couldn't understand why, but understood that Elenora was the mastermind who had summoned them.
The corpses seemed to express the twisted madness within Elenora.
’’As you can see, we are all dressed up and ready to serve to your hearts content...’’
Albert scornful gaze pierced through Elenora.
’’Fine, heretic. I shall keep you company... Fair warning, my taste in women is quite picky.’’
’’Fufu, then I shall do my utmost to provide service that is to your pleasure Let us begin.’’
Then, Elenora quickly chanted yet another spell.
Responding to Elenora's spell, the corpses charged towards Albert in unison.
’’Hmpf, <Bellow oh flame lion> ’’
In response, Albert swiftly chanted a one stage spell.
Flames flared from Albert's left arm...
In the next moment, a giant tower of flame burst above the trees of the dark forest.
’’No way... Brother... But... How...?’’
With surprise and shock... Riel's gaze latched onto the man in front of her.
The person she had wanted to protect, but hadn't been able to... The goal she had lost and sought a replacement for... was now before her very own eyes.
’’You... Brother... but... you died... you were killed by that person...’’
’’...That person? Who do you mean by that person?’’
Riel fell silent. Who was 'that person'?
I can't remember. That memory is just a shade of white.
’’Well, it doesn't matter anymore who killed me. What most important to you is that me, your brother, has once again appeared before you... right? Am I wrong?’’
That's right. It doesn't matter if I don't remember who 'that person' was.
’’Brother... Why are you still alive? I remember that you...’’
’’You're right. My plan for us to leave the organization had been leaked. On that day, I had been attacked by them. Perhaps you may not have noticed in the heat of the moment, but I was actually still breathing.’’
Yes. The day that my brother died
That day □□□□had □□□ my brother, and I □□□□□□□□□□□□□□.
My head hurts. My memories feel empty. It's strange.
Glen always told me to not think too much about the past, but even if I did, my head would begin to hurt, so I couldn't think about it even if I wanted to... It's all so strange. It all happened only two years ago... How could I completely forget it all?
’’A-, Are you okay Riel? What happened back then must've been very shocking for you... If it's uncomfortable to think back on it, it's okay not to.’’
Under her brother's concern, Riel tried to rid her mind of these thoughts.
No, I have to remember... Such an alarm rung in the depths of her heart, but due to the headache, she decided to ignore it.
Not to mention, to Riel, her brother's word was more important than anything else.
’’S-, So brother... what are you doing here...?’’
’’Isn't that obvious? I came here to meet you of course, Riel.’’ Her brother said with a warm smile.
’’Two years ago, you miraculously found your freedom with the Imperial Court Magicians. However, I failed... Even know, I'm nothing but a slave of the organization.’’
Hearing her brother's words, Riel felt the crushing weight of guilt striking against her chest.
If what brother says is true... Then what have I, who promised to protect him, been doing all this time?
’’B-, Brother... I'm... s... sorry... I... didn't know...’’
’’You don't need to apologize. This wasn't your fault. Though, if you think you owe me, then...’’
The man continued, as if pleading.
’’...Help me out, Riel.’’
Riel's eyes widened.
’’You should know right? What happens to traitors of that organization... I can't take it any longer... The reason they let me live all this time is because I still have some value to them...’’
’’B-, But... how should I help you... What can I do?’’ Riel, unable to hide her anxiety, timidly asked.
Hearing her brother's answer, Riel's complexion turned pale.
’’As of now, the organization is attempting to commence a certain plan. For it, they require the girl named Lumia girl named Lumia Tinzel... That, and the magic instructor protecting her, Glen, is too much of an obstacle. He must be eliminated first.’’
Even Riel could understand what her brother meant.
’’Cooperate with me, Riel. Since then, I've abided by every order for two whole years... and now they have given me a chance. As long as I bring them Lumia and see the plan through to completion... they will give me my freedom.’’
’’Ahh... a... a....’’
In essence, he was asking her to betray Glen and Lumia.
If she accepted her brother's offer... Then there would likely be no going back.
Glen's shock, Lumia's sadness, Sistina's anger. Their expressions appeared in her mind.
Why do I feel so afraid?
For my brother, I should be willing to do anything. That's how I lived in the past. What am I afraid of now?
Glen was just a replacement because he was a little similar to brother, Lumia was just someone I had to accompany for my mission, Sistina was nothing more than an extra person to deal with.
If so, then why?
Why do I feel so afraid of betraying them?
Did I not promise to live for my brother's sake?
Wasn't nothing else supposed to matter?
’’U...ah... ah... I... I'm...’’
Riel buried her head in her arms and slowly retreated away from her brother.
Her feet felt as though they had crumpled and collapse.
Looking into her brother's eyes, she felt her sense of self disappear...
Seeing Riel's hesitation, her brother murmured with great sadness.
’’Riel... Didn't you say that you were going to protect me? Are you planning to ignore me and leave me behind again...?’’
Riel felt something in her heart shatter and break.
’’...I-, I will...’’
As words of her decision were about to leave her mouth
’’Riel! Get away from him!’’
Suddenly, a sharp desperate shout rung forth. A figure dashed in between Riel and her brother like a gale.
The figure, with a robe with hanging from his back, confronted her brother.
’’...-!? Glen Ryders!?’’
A mix of surprise and fright appeared on the brother's expression. Seeing this Riel gazed at the intruder.
’’Oh? So you know who I am... Are you from the Wisdom of the Heavens Research Society?’’
Hearing his name spoken, Glen raised an eyebrow. With a daunting, low voice, he questioned the man who had approached Riel.
’’N-, No... I'm...’’
’’Don't make up excuses. In the first place, you're wearing the ceremonial clothes of that idiot organization's Portals Order. I'd never mistake such a shitty uniform. Not to mention...’’
Glen glared at the man expression, as if seeing right through him.
’’If you are part of that organization then you should have a tattoo of a snake coiling around a dagger. If I have to, I'll use force to confirm whether it's there. If it's not I'll prostrate myself and apologize.’’
The man's face turned pale at Glen's declaration. He was obviously losing his bearings.
The man's incomposure only served to confirm Glen's suspicions.
’’Geez, you guys are way too passionate about your work. You're still going about your stuff even at a time like this? It won't hurt to skip out once in a while won't it? This time around though, you were too careless.
Glen already had the arcana of [The Fool] in his hand.
’’I don't know what you were trying to sell Riel on, but you failed when you gave me enough time to rush here, heretic.’’
Glen had already activated his original magic [The Fool's World], a magician-slaying spell that sealed all activation of magic within a fixed area around Glen.
Despite only being able to shorten his chants to three stages at best and possessing the magic capacity of a third-rate magician, it was this magic that allowed him to be one of the aces of the Imperial Court Magicians. Before [The Fool], all magicians would become nothing more than powerless children.
Judging from the man's reaction, he wasn't a combat-type magician that generally dealt with more violent matters... but negligence was forbidden.
’’I don't know what tricks you have up your sleeve, but it's all pointless now. Everything you have will be nullified. The Portals Order is only the base level of the organization, so someone like you probably won't have any useful information, though, it won't hurt to be careful. Riel, let's catch that guy.’’
Glen placed the arcana of [The Fool] back in his pocket, and closed the distance between himself and the man.
At this moment, Glen had no doubts about his tremendous advantage in this fight.
Currently, the activation of all magic was sealed. On top of that, it was a two versus one.
Amongst the Imperial Court Magicians, he and Riel were the most outstanding at close range combat. Not to mention, Riel had already synthesized her sword. The opponent didn't possess any weapons, nor was there any trace of any magic tools that had already been activated.
He was unable to comprehend the sudden impact that assaulted him from behind, and the burning sensation that oozed from his body in the following moment.
Glen choked as the taste of steel flooded his throat.
’’... Ri... el?’’
Glen turned his head around with shock towards Riel.
This, has gotta be a joke.
Riel, whose eyes were hollow and lusterless, had thrust the greatsword in her hands deeply through Glen's back. The naked blade cleanly pierced through Glen's right chest, and forming a dark-red protrusion on the other side of considerable length.
’’Guh...!? ...Gah... Wh... W-, Wh...y...!?
Fresh blood poured from his mouth. It was already a pointless question to ask.
’’...Y... You... can't, be... !? That... ca... n't... be... ?’’’’
He couldn't believe it. Such thoughts and feelings poured out of him.
’’...That you for everything.’’
Riel's bloodied face was blank and hollow as she gave her thanks.
’’But, I've... decided to live for the sake of my brother here.’’
It was then
Glen eyes widened, as if seeing something he never thought was possible.
’’...R-, Riel... you... what are you saying...-!?’’
Riel casually swung the greatsword that had skewered Glen.
Glen's body spun in an arc, blood spraying from his body with every motion.
The force flung Glen off the sword, his body flying through the air in a parabola.
Sprays of red decorated the sky like the petals of a fallen flower...
Then, with a column of water, the body fell into the darkness of the sea.
Glen's body was devoured by the raging tides, never to appear again.
With eyes like orbs of glass, she stared at Glen as he sunk into the sea.
She didn't say anything, nor did her eyes reflect any emotions.
There was only the sound of the cold tidal winds blowing through Riel's emptied heart.
Riel's brother expressed his thanks towards Riel, who stood still and silent.
’’Thanks... for protecting me. It must've been hard, Riel...’’
’’...No. I... just... did it for you...’’ Riel said with a spectre-like voice.
’’...That's why... this is nothing... it's nothing...’’
Yes, it's nothing. It's just returned to how it was before.
For my brother, to protect my brother, I kill, I wear away at my life. It returned to how it was before.
That's why this crushing feeling against my chest must be a lie. An illusion.
Lumia and Sistina... The feeling that they've now gone far, far away;this sense of loss, must also be a lie, an illusion.
That's why, the tears that fill my eyes and roll down my cheeks must be a figment of my imagination.
Interlude I: When the Ephemeral Dream Ends
Lumia was alone in her room. Sitting on the sofa, she released a long sigh.
The room, located in the main building of the inn, was shared by Lumia, Sistina, and Riel.
However, not only had Riel run away, Sistina was also not present.
Sistina had said that she would visit the sightseeing district and buy a simple takeout meal for their dinner, so she should return soon.
In truth, Lumia had wanted to join the large group of classmates to get dinner, and they had invited her too. However, knowing that Riel could return at any moment, she had decided to stay.
As Lumia had refused, Sistina had defaulted to joining her.
Sistina's good nature meant that she couldn't leave Lumia behind and have fun on her own.
’’...I can't help but feel a little sorry...’’
Although Sistina probably wouldn't mind too much, it weighed heavily on Lumia's mind.
She began to think about the girl whose personality changed drastically today.
What had put her in such a bad mood? Perhaps her attitude until now had all been an act? Maybe her rejection of others was her true personality?
To begin with, the worlds in which the two each lived in were far too different.
There was probably too much that Lumia could not understand.
She thought back on the fun times where she, Sistina, Lumia, and the rest of the class were together.
Beside the beautiful night time sea, Riel had once claimed that she did not dislike being friends.
I want to believe... I want to believe that those words were not lies.
There must be some reason that she was unable to bear this kind of life, that she decided to reject her surroundings. There must.
That's why, it'll be fine. I'll meet Riel, talk to her, set things right, and apologize to one another... Then it'll all be over.
Those noisy but fun times will return -- That was what Lumia believed.
’’First, I'll have to be able to meet her.’’
But, there's no need to worry about that.
Because Glen went to find her.
If it's Glen, then I'm sure he'll find Riel and bring her back.
What I need to think about is what to say when I meet Riel again.
Lumia tried to piece together her words.
’’I don't know why Riel got angry, but saying 'I'm sorry' all of a sudden would be strange...’’
Just doing that wouldn't make her forgive me. That would just be smoothing over the problem to keep up appearances. I don't want to do that.
Facing a problem more complex than imagined, Lumia lost herself in thought... it was then that
A loud noise suddenly burst from the room's balcony. Lumia's shoulders jumped in surprise at the shrill noise.
In the next moment, she heard someone enter the room.
Lumia quickly turned towards the source of the noise.
The door leading to the balcony had been kicked apart from the outside. The remains were scattered across the floor of the room.
Next to the swaying remains of the hinges of the door
Was a specter-like girl.
The figure and appearance was undoubtedly that of Riel, but Lumia, for a brief moment, was unable to recognize her.
Something about her right now is off-putting. She seemed like a doll the first time I met her, but it doesn't compare to how she is now. Her body looks normal, but I can't shake this ominous feeling. It's like she's a puppet whose limbs have been broken and twisted.
The light of the room's lamps revealed Riel's appearance, which Lumia had confirmed with some delay. It was then Lumia's mind went blank.
Blood. Riel's face and hands were soaked in fresh blood.
Whose blood was it? Who had gone searching for Riel, and who did she then meet? Lumia didn't want to think about it.
In Riel's small hands was a sword.
The cross claymore dripped with fresh blood. The steel gleamed with sinister light.
Who had been sacrificed to the blade? - The mere thought made Lumia tremble.
’’...Riel, what did you do...?’’
However, Lumia shoved the thought to the back of her mind. Suppressing the growing, ominous feeling in her chest, she managed to keep herself together and ask the question. Her steadfastness was worthy of praise.
All her steadfastness was for naught.
Riel uttered as she readied her sword.
I don't know her reason, but I have to run now.
Following her instinct, Lumia retreated backwards.
Lumia's opponent, however, was too much for her.
Accompanied by the sound of parting winds, Riel swiftly closed to distance between them.
It had only taken one step and one instant.
... Lumia wasn't able to react in time. There was no way she could have.
By the time she realized it, Riel was already swinging the greatsword.
In the next instant, the blade fell like lightning.
The crescent swing was burned into Lumia eyes
Lumia vision then went to black.
A crash echoed through the inn
The shockwave from the swing pushed a vase from its resting place... from where it then fell and broke.