Recuperating? – Q of Hearts (Part 3)
Note: Please don’t read it in the little pop-up for the reader. For some reason it doesn’t reflect my later edits (which I often make a lot of after publishing), so please click ‘view original’.
Think of it as throwing money at the author and Alphapolis, and getting a book with squiggles and pretty pictures as a pleasant extra.
You might be thinking, ‘Well, do I owe any thanks to Alphapolis the publisher?’, but in fact it is because the publishers are so willing to pick up web novels (Alphapolis in particular) that so many creative stories are being written by people wanting to make it as writers.
Still not 100% sure that I should be translating 火薬 as gunpowder since it sounds a bit awks in English given the setting, but mmn.
“Uwwahhh. The town is falling apart.”
The town that I was overlooking from the skies was more broken than I had imagined.
In particular, the areas around the mansion of the lord of this territory, Viscount Wazzurri, were extremely messed up.
The estate was half destroyed, and the areas of the town around it were burnt black as well, with mountains of rubble here and there.
There were few people in town, and it seems that the inhabitants of the town had fled somewhere else. Mmn, this isn’t a place that people can live anymore after all.
“…Are these extremists idiots?”
Achille quietly cursed besides me. It seems that he has some gripe with this.
“The extremists have their hideout somewhere in this town?”
“Yeah, we’ve already found it. And the people responsible for the hijacking of this town should be there, but…”
It seems that the spy unit has already been sent to investigate what was going on in this town.
The soldiers moved under leadership and entered the town.
“Camille, what do we do? This building is completely wrecked after all, and though we have orders to standby, I think staying in the air is too conspicuous.”
A woman who was one of my Red coworkers called out to me. She’s one of the magicians that was dispatched to rescue the town like me.
A number of Red magicians were floating in the air on quills just like we were.
This is of course, the magic that I made popular.
Unlike the soldiers from the castle, we magicians are being treated as a “Raid Unit”. That’s why we were able to act somewhat freely to an extent.
“Hmmm, Achille. What do we do?”
I left the problem all to Achille.
When it comes to difficult problems, there’s nothing better than asking him. A prodigy like him should be able to come up with a smarter and better answer than I can.
And moreover, Achille’s been granted some of the rights to command on scene at this town… Well, the subordinates he can use are just our raid unit though.
Achille normally works as an official, but because there’s also the matter of being the son of the Magic Building Number Two’s Soleil, the magicians follow his instructions relatively obediently.
“Let’s see… The soldiers from the castle are attacking the town from all four directions, and at the time the extremists will be at an overwhelming disadvantage too. I think it’s fine even if you don’t do particularly do anything Camille.”
It’s here; his overprotectiveness. And that doesn’t answer my question.
“Come on, don’t dodge the question.”
During our town recovery mission this time, Achille has been trying his best not to get me involved in battles.
It’s totally clear from his attitude.
Right now we haven’t spotted anybody obviously under the influence of forbidden arts so it might be fine but… I somehow can’t agree to this. I did come all the way out here by Royce-sama’s orders after all.
After all, it might be like that time again, when the town in the Jade family’s territory was attacked, and the soldiers were in a pinch…
The extremists might be stopped in the end even if I don’t help them directly, but even if only a little, I might be able to reduce the victims on our side.
“Can you promise not to move on your own? That you won’t leave my side?”
Mn? Could this be permission for me to act? No matter what he says, it feels like Achille is sweet on me in the end.
“I won’t, I won’t. I’ll stay by your side.”
I’ll answer obediently just in case. Just staying in the air on standby to reduce the risk to the soldiers is a little pathetic after all.
“Can you see that building over there?”
Achille was pointing to a building with a flat wall. While all the buildings around it were broken, only that building stayed neat and tidy.
“Apparently that building is the hideout of the hijackers and their commander.”
So all we have to do is charge in and arrest them, huh! Captain Achille!
“Let’s hurry up and goo!”
I was suddenly filled with motivation.
“If we just stay floating up in the sky like this, we certainly do stand out after all. For now, let’s try and find a safe place to land.”
We chose a place where the soldiers and extremists weren’t fighting to land.
The people left behind in this extremists base don’t seem to number very many. All of the enemies are outside the base having a big fight with the soldiers.
“Even if people who seem to be normal citizens approach us, don’t let your guard down… There might be enemies among them.”
“Mn, got it.”
We stepped down into an alleyway close to the enemy hideout.
“Time to charge.”
“We’re not going to charge in immediately. We have to check out the situation first… Although there are probably less people in there, we still don’t know how many people there are. We’ll charge after some accurate intel arrives.”
Announced Achille decisively. This damned prudent guy!
From the corner of the alleyway, I heard a child’s voice. When I turned around, I found that a little girl was standing there.
The girl’s long hair was tied in two, and she was holding a plush toy in one hand… Like that, she came running towards us.
“Hey, hey, can you help me? It’s scary!”
The girl spoke with a smile, and was clearly out of place in this town that had turned into a battlefield.
“Hey, help me?”
For just a single child to be alone here… It’s strange.
And moreover, even though the situation is like this, why is this girl smiling?
“Hey, hey, won’t you help me? I got separated from mama you see… so, help me?”
What’s with this… I have a bad feeling about this. Why that is though, I don’t know myself though.
But even Achille said not to relax my guard even if a normal person approached us after all.
-tick tock… tick tock…-
Suddenly, I could hear a somewhat systematic sound coming from the girl. The ticking sound continued.
I warily observed the girl. The sounds are coming from… inside the plush toy in her right hand.
“Let go of that!”
Probably realising the same thing I did, Achille quickly snatched the plush toy from the girl and threw it far away.
The next moment, the plush toy shone and exploded with a violent wind. An incredible roar resounded.
The surrounding buildings were destroyed by the blast of the explosion, and large holes opened up in the ground.
“What… was that?”
The doll… exploded?
We immediately defended with magic so everybody is unharmed. Achille covered the girl as well, so she wasn’t injured. A female Red magician is searching the girl’s clothing to see if there isn’t anything else hidden.
“They probably put gunpowder inside the doll. It seems that they applied magic to it so that they could ignite it from a distance.”
Achille told me this with a disgusted expression.
“The extremists did this?”
“That girl is…”
For such a small child to be wandering around with a doll that’s basically a bomb…
“Probably with them. Isn’t she following the instructions of the adults? I don’t think that they told her about the gunpowder though…”
“What the hell! That’s disgusting!”
It means that they had this girl hold dangerous explosives without her knowing.
Even though there’s a good chance that she would’ve been blown up too if things went badly, she probably hadn’t the slightest idea.
“Unforgiveable… Mn? Ah-, Achille look! At that girl’s neck!”
I was pointing at a black bruise at the bottom of the girl’s neck.
“Forbidden magic… even a child like this. It’s probably a similar spell to the one that they tried to cast on me.”
This is unbelievable!
“Hey, Achille. Do you think there are other children besides this girl that have forbidden magic cast on them? If there are, then we have to save them.”
In the worst case, they could even die from an explosion.
“I’ll use communication magic and warn the soldiers too. We can’t let them come into contact with children holding explosive dolls and get caught up in the explosion.”
“Yeah. And while we’re at it, after they finish dealing with the explosives, tell them to shelter the children so that we can dispel the forbidden magic too.”
We immediately sent off a communication magic.
While we were sending off a warning, a communication spell came came from a person who seemed to be a member of the spy unit.
“Achille, what did the spies say?”
“It seems that there are only ten-odd people in the extremist base. The others are all out.”
“Then even if we charge in…”
“Among them is a person who seems to be a powerful magician… He might be the guy who’s casting the forbidden spells right now.”
“Then he’s dangerous isn’t he!? We have to hurry up and catch him.”
Achille gazed right at me with a serious expression.
Uu-, you don’t have to worry. I’m not going to charge in by myself or anything you know.