Chapter 80: After Finishing a Big Project, the Answer to your Future Steps Should Always Be Ice Cream. But Don’t Actually Say That in your Presentation
While the elf girl, that is, Asahina-san, was taking a bath, Seimei-san and I were downstairs in the middle of a discussion.
We still don’t know everything about Asahina-san, where she was summoned, how she became a slave, etc, etc, but unfortunately, right now we don’t really have the opportunity to do anything about it.
See, there was this thing that was happening just a little while earlier where people were attacking the city…
Yeah, so Seimei-san and I are exchanging information.
Even though it was still my complete miss, I felt a little bit better that the device that made those fake spirit trees had been basically locked away in another dimension.
Although it might be bad form to think that way… un. I shouldn’t use this as an excuse for not being vigilant enough.
I am upset that the Guild and Sir Ilyos apparently knew about those devices and never told anyone.
There might be no guarantee that I could have done anything about them, but there is also no guarantee that I couldn’t do anything about them.
Even if they were trying to keep things a secret for well-intentioned reasons, in the end I can only call their intentions short-sighted.
After discovering that the devices had been sealed by Dark Magic, Seimei-san quickly ran to try to unseal them and destroy them…
But before he could even get to a single one, they had activated.
I guess that makes sense. The devices couldn’t suck aether from the surroundings unless they were in the same dimension.
They were sealed to avoid detection, but to work they can’t be sealed.
I wonder if the activation dismantled the seal, or if they had to dismantle the seal before they could activate it … ah, no, I’m getting distracted again.
“So it was something like harnessing the power of the Labyrinth, so to speak. I really should have Emi find out more about the altars of elemental magic.”
He was lounging back in his chair, a hand resting on his lips as his brows knit in deep thought.
“Although I’m also concerned about that, isn’t it more important to ensure they won’t come back to Nyl City?”
“No, I don’t think there’s any worry about them coming back. At least any time soon. I force – er, asked Sir Ilyos to show me the information they’ve gathered about this crazy group, and I am 95% confident that it would be unlikely for them to be able to organize that much manpower and money again, especially while moving in secrecy.”
95% … where did he get that number from?
“With all of Nyl City on guard against them, it would be impossible for them to be able to move within the city again. And the effort they threw away into decoys to throw the Guild and Sir Ilyos off their tracks … I think it’s safe to say that they were aware their efforts were a one-chance, all-or-nothing plan. No, wait.”
Seimei-san frowned, then amended his statement, saying,
“I guess that’s only if they have to put together the exact same mess of stuff in order to do it again. If there was another way …”
I think for a second.
No. Impossible. To move that much Aether around…
I don’t know about the whole Crystal Python, attacking brothels, and being giant asses decoy strategies those guys were doing, but to activate the magic that calls down the avatar to work, they’d have to rig up their fake spirit tree devices, set them around the city along the leylines, and be in the general area of that building that I may or may not have accidentally-on-purpose destroyed.
In other words, I think they’d have to do that part, at least, exactly the same.
“So there’s little chance of them messing around Nyl City, then.”
“There’s little chance of them pulling such large maneuvers in Nyl City, yes. Whether or not they might have a few men sticking around… I’m a little worried about that. Especially concerning Hibicchi.”
He’s already decided to call Asahina-san Hibicchi?
Because of the stressful things that have been going on, it’s easy to forget that Seimei-san originally had a kind of foolish personality when he’s not forcing himself to act properly.
But … un. I see. Even if we don’t have to worry about another large-scale attack on Nyl City, that doesn’t mean that things will be safe.
Hibicchi -, ah, no, Asahina-san is going to be reported dead by Urol, but if she’s seen wandering around the city, that deception would be useless.
And then there’s the question on if they would find me suspicious.
I’m mostly worried about that … what’s his name, the Intellectual Villain-san. He seems like he might pick up on some things.
If they wanted to look, it wouldn’t take them too long to figure out who I am or where I’m staying.
Since they know Ragnall, they might even already know all those things from checking up on all the people that Ragnall knows or might be a hindrance.
But it’s not like we know all the members of THEIR group, so even if they know all about us, if we passed one of their guys in the street, we might not even realize it.
“If it’s going to be like that, it might be useless to worry about that and start focusing on other things.”
For a short time, there’s silence.
“To be honest, I don’t really know what to do from this point onwards.”
Seimei-san sank back into his chair with a sigh.
He looks worn out
“… What do you mean, Seimei-san?”
“This business with Nyl City is over with. More or less. At any rate, I think our immediate obligations towards this matter are over. But what do you think?”
He gives me a look.
What do I think?
Um. The mysterious organization DOES bother me, but somehow I don’t feel the urgency to investigate.
Or like, where do we even begin to investigate?
And, there’s the other issue of other Japanese people (or maybe even people from other countries) having been brought into this world.
We haven’t questioned Asahina-san about her time from when she first showed up in this world until now, but if she’s like the other gamers, it’s definitely better to find out how she got sold into slavery.
Because I’m pretty sure Masaki and the others would break a slaver before the slaver could enslave them.
Even I, who had no lucky game-enhancements, would be able to avoid slavery.
If the slavers could only come at me head on, that is.
Finally I say,
“… I don’t think I have enough information about anything to really be able to make a concrete plan, but -”
“That’s right. We don’t know if we can ever get back to Japan, we don’t know who summoned us and for what purpose, and we don’t know the background of the magic in this world, so there’s no way we could be accountable for these random people.”
… Un. Seimei-san is thinking about entirely different topics, but whether it’s the things that are bothering me or the things that are bothering Seimei-san, we don’t have enough information, ne.
“Seimei-san. You’re not worried about the other people who may have been displaced from our world?”
Seimei-san drummed his fingers on his knee.
“I am concerned. But it’s not like we’re obligated to take care of all the displaced people. We don’t even know our right foot from our left in this place, to expect us to search for displaced people to protect them … In the first place, it’s not like everyone from Earth is a going to be a good guy. It would make things more complicated if we picked up someone with a nasty character.”
… Seimei-san. You’re such a cold, jaded adult.
Maa, if you say it like that, I understand it’s not like we’re responsible for other people who got transported to this world, but to just ignore it …
“…Na, Seimei-san. Somehow … no, that is, are you thinking about this like a protagonist in some isekai novel? I don’t think that’s a healthy way to approach this situation…”
Seimei-san stares blankly at me for a moment.
“Uh … what?”
I scratch my head a little, trying to put what I’m thinking into words.
“That’s … see, we don’t HAVE to do anything or not do anything … What I mean is … isn’t it ok just to do whatever you feel like doing? It’s not like there’s a right answer or anything, so just like life in Japan, just do what you think you should do, and handle the things that come your way as they come.”
He stares at me, open-mouthed for a while, then laughs lightly.
“That may be true too. Iyaa… I think you’re probably an extreme case of ‘handle things as they come,’ but maybe you’re right. I wonder if this feeling of loss is really from being too influenced by light novels. Haa… So? What do you want to do, then?”
Ah. He’s acting like he doesn’t care, but somehow, I think he feels a little annoyed that I said he was thinking as if he was some light novel main character.
“Hm… I think my main concern is to make sure Asahina-san is going to be safe, then … I think it’s time for me to leave the city.”
“Why… well, I’ve only ever seen Nyl City this entire time, and I want to see how swords and things are made in other parts of this world.”
“… I see.”
Seimei-san is silent for a short while.
“To be honest, I was a little worried you’d want to go find and save all the displaced people or something.”
“Wasn’t Seimei-san the one who was saying it’s not necessarily a good idea to do that? Although if I do run across any one like that, I don’t think I’d avoid trying to make contact with them. Anyway, there’s no point to make plans about helping them when we don’t even know how to start looking for them.”
“… Un. Let’s do that. Living however we want to in this world might not be such a bad idea either…”
“Then, Seimei-san also has an idea of what you want to do?”
I ask just to throw the question right back at him.
“Yeah. I thought it wasn’t something I should invest all my time into, but talking to you … well, it makes me feel kind of stupid for overthinking things. I’ll continue to pursue medical development. This time, I’m seriously going to go for it. To do that, I guess it would be wisest to stick around with Carnus, and I’ll have to start investigating where to set up a laboratory or med-center. I’ll need subordinates, too, and …”
Uwah. Seimei-san looks pretty fired up.
“Um … I’m done.”
At that moment, Asahina-san came walking down the stairs.
A Korean beauty character model, flushed from the heat of a bath…
It’s unfortunate that she’s super self-conscious of her looks right now.
I quickly look away.
Seimei-san gives me a quick snicker, then puts on his poker face.
“We thoughtlessly forgot to provide you with clothes, but I see that you had some.”
I look back over.
Asahina-san is wearing what looks like a lovely, teal evening gown, but with light colored, leather leggings and a pair brown of boots underneath.
It’s very elf-ish.
“Because ArchLeg is more focused on social parts of the game, so I had a lot of outfits in my Inventory. My vault back in the game has a lot more cosmetics… But at least I had a few normal-looking outfits with me.”
“You kept it hidden from THOSE guys well, huh?”
Asahina-san’s face went pale.
“… At first, they told me to show them everything I could do. But I was so scared that I just froze and didn’t do anything they told me to, so they thought I couldn’t understand them. In the end, they wouldn’t use the … collar anymore.”
Her hands trembled a bit as they touched her throat.
…No. Wait. That means –
I felt a dark anger welling up in the pit of my stomach.
Seimei-san’s face has also clouded over.
“Somehow, I hated the idea of being controlled like that, so I just continued to pretend not to understand them, so it’s not like I just … I mean, I kind of did it to myself too, and…”
Her voice trailed off.
Seimei-san quickly composed himself.
“…That aside. Hibicch – no, Asahina-san. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but did they do anything … Were you … ‘attacked’ …?”
His voice was low, and trembled a little with his emotions.
Asahina-san quickly shook her head.
“No. They – no one touched me that way. Or, well, one man tried, but even with those strength-sapping shackles on, it seems I’m strong enough to fight them off. All I did was just kick him, though. But then the … leader? … cut his head off in front of …everyone.”
Asahina-san turned even paler than before, and her body trembled as she shrank into herself, curling up her legs and wrapping her arms tightly around them.
I crossed the room and gently rubbed her back.
“I-it’s ok. Just take some breaths.”
I understand that feeling of horror.
Although mine was … somewhat self-induced.
After a few deep breaths, Asahina-san said,
“It seems that I’m ‘expensive’, or ‘need to be in pristine shape’ or something. Anyway, even if I was being treated like an object, at least I was being treated as an expensive object, so to tell the truth, it wasn’t too bad … for me. The other slaves weren’t so luck– ah! The other slaves!”
Ah… oops. I forgot about them too.
What should I do…?
I need to properly go back to the Guild and report everything soon.
“NO! To think you let such a precious subject be killed!”
Hefziba twirled round and round in agony, clutching at his hair.
He is the man Jun thought of as a mad scientist-like character.
Norman, the calmer, intellectual villain type character, looked at Urol with a suspicious look, but he didn’t say a single thing.
Although Normas was suspicious about it …
Well, it was true that when he and Balil had run away, Urol’s equipment wasn’t torn to tatters like it was now.
Besides, if these idiots couldn’t see past a foolish lie like this, then that’s all they’re worth.
To tell the truth, Norman was sick and tired of this crowd he’s been hanging out with.
No matter what HE said, it was whatever the crazy fool of a man, Hefziba, ordered that would be done.
Even though he said that there was no need to purchase female slaves for their sacrifices, that the cheaper male slaves, and even slaves that were in imperfect form, would give off the same amount of Aether as the well-formed, more expensive female slaves, Hefziba yelled,
“Of course women have more Aether! They give birth to offspring, right?!”
And exactly what did that have anything to do with Aether?
Just because Aether was known as the magic of life, Norman was pretty sure it didn’t have anything to do with natural birth and natural death.
UNNATURAL ways of living beings coming into existence is a completely other thing.
Hefziba was only a man who was obsessed with texts about Ancient Magic.
He took those texts as absolute truths, and refused to question even a single letter of the texts.
Never mind if that the texts are (most probably) imperfectly translated, and often times incomplete.
Also, although Ancient Magic was lost, it’s not like the knowledge back then is absolutely more advanced than the knowledge today.
Norman had done many experiments on extracting Aether from all types of vict – experimental subjects, and there is no correlation that women provide a better supply of Aether compared to men.
Norman isn’t a good guy. But he is also not an idiot.
Now Hefziba … Hefziba is an idiot.
As everyone quietly watched Hefziba work himself into a frenzy, several people walked into what remained of the old winery that they were formerly using as a base.
Chills ran down Norman’s spine.
Trevout, Bringer of Silence.
Jesara, Lady of Storms.
Honra, Tempest of the Sea.
Boris the Stonefist.
And Granwit of the Flames.
Each of these people could destroy half an army on their own.
Each of these people looked at Norman as nothing more than an accessory.
If they felt like it, any one of them could squish him into pieces with their pinky fingers.
“So you failed.”
Granwit looked coldly down at Urol as he said that.
“Oh my, young master, you can say I failed, but I would like to point out that even though you stuck me with the lady archer, that Carni monster almost took this old man’s head too many times.”
Urol gently put a hand to his throat, grimacing as he remembered the many arrows that almost went through it.
“I was talking about putting an end to the threat Ragnall might pose at the end.”
Urol sighed as Granwit said that.
“The white monster wasn’t really willing to come over to our side … like at all.”
“I’m sure there were ways to do it. Like kidnapping that girl that he’s been working with lately and taking her hostage.”
Although Granwit didn’t notice it, Urol, Norman, and Balil all made complicated faces.
If that girl was someone who could easily be kidnapped, they wouldn’t have been in such a mess.
Not that they felt they could say anything to Granwit’s intimidating aura.
“…Na, Granwit. For a while now, you’ve been saying things like “our side” or “their side”. Isn’t this just a job? Why don’t you tell me what’s going on? There’s no way you don’t know, right?”
“Naturally. But there’s no need for you to know the details.”
“… Even if that’s the case, we’re mercenaries, right? Sorry, Granwit, but this kind of blind-faith ain’t something that suits me, and it suits Ragnall even less. There’s no way you’d be able to bring him over.”
“That’s too bad.”
Ugh. The air between Granwit and Urol was getting considerably tense.
With his superior ability to recognize trouble, Norman quietly vacated to a spot in the rubble a bit further away from the two.
“… Na, Granwit. That goes for me too, see.”
“That’s too bad.”
A spasm of anger crosses Urol’s face before he sighs and says,
“Ah, is that so? Then I guess this is where we part ways.”
Urol hefted the handle of his warhammer in disgust and turned to walk away.
It happened too fast for Norman to see.
The next thing he knew, Urol slid off the blade of the sword and crumpled to the ground.
Granwit stared down at him.
“It’s a shame. We had quite a long partnership together, but if that’s how it is, certainly, it would be better to part ways here.”
Granwit turned his back on Urol and flicked his blade to clean the blood off of it.
As if nothing had happened, he turned to the others.
“We’d best move everything we can out of here within the hour. There’s no telling when the Guild dogs and the Carnis will move in on this building.”
“Let us depart”
As they moved out, Norman hesitated to walk past the dying man on the ground.
“Hahaha… so this … is how it is…”
Norman averted his eyes as Urol chuckled unevenly with his last breath.
<A/N: … A-are? Wait a second. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Urol just …
I’m … just going to mope in a corner now.