22 – Meal

“Instructor Camilla, here are your requested purchase.”

“…right. Thanks, Sharon.”

 

A beautiful silver-haired girl entered the room. She placed on the table the items she had purchased from a dubious pharmacy in a back-alley. The glamorous red-haired woman, Camilla, narrowed her eyes for a moment, before showing a honeyed smile as her hands gathered up the items.

“You took quite some time for such a simple errand, didn’t you?” Camilla coolly said.

The girl frantically bowed, her long eyelashes trembling.

“M-my utmost apologies!”

The two noble ladies, one of a dukedom and one of a marquis house, were more than just passingly familiar with each other. They had been acquaintances from a young age. Camilla possessed great pride and dignity as a noble lady, and the girl had always seen her as an example to follow.

“Well, I’ve always known you were a dimwitted one. Just don’t embarrass me.”

“Y-yes…”

Even when faced with such derision, the all-too-naive girl still believed Camilla was saying it for her sake.

Camilla’s lips curled upward contemptuously.

“Speaking of which… what has happened to that maid?”

“Umm… might instructor Camilla be speaking of Letty-I mean, Fleurety…?”

“Who else? Really, you’re such a dullard, Sharon.” Camilla spoke, displeasure audible in her castigation even as she opened wide her feather fan to hide a grin of delight. “The place is somewhat out of the way, and there might just be some unsavory characters showing up from time to time. Don’t tell me you went there without any guards to accompany you?”

“No, umm…”

The so-called ‘errand’ had been meant as a practical lesson, so going out with a protective bubble of guards would have rendered it meaningless. The unwritten rules were that the student was allowed only a single servant to accompany them.

“Surely you haven’t gone out with just a single maid? She might have been an otherworlder with a useful skill, but don’t forget who you are. You’re of a marquis house, Sharon, not low nobility.”

Camilla drew closer to the girl, her voice gaining a hint of anticipation.

“Or perhaps… has she gotten hurt?”

Sharon’s eyes darted to and fro in apparent discomfort.

“Letty is… umm…”

 

And the silver-haired girl turns her eyes at me.

 

“I am here.” I whisper into Camilla’s ear.

She practically jumps from her seat with an ear-splitting shriek.

Greetings, everyone. It is me, Fleurety, the lovely maid who is standing right behind you.

 

“Y-y-you,” Camilla says, still catching her breath, “How dare you show up so suddenly?! And from behind too, at that! Learn some manners!”

“It hadn’t been ‘sudden’, instructor Camilla. I had entered after lady Sharon, and I was the one to have arranged the requested items on the table.”

“Wha…?”

As Camilla searches her memory, she soon realizes that the void in her perception until now had been me. She gapes.

But, well, it’s to be expected. After all, not only did I erase my presence, I also made use of transparent threads to change a few things in the visual information that she received.

 

In that alleyway, milady — and I as well, I suppose — had been attacked. I was forced to defend ourselves, and it had been thanks to milady’s kindness that they were captured before they could permanently lose their ability to commit any further criminal activities in the future.

It was legitimate self-defense. Totally.

I then took the few occasions when milady’s attention was elsewhere to initiate some intensive dialogue with the captives. It turned out that they had been given the info by a servant of a low noble, and that the servant had already been discharged from their position. The culprit certainly took care of their loose ends, I must say.

Of course, that didn’t mean I couldn’t guess how things might have happened.

 

“Why are you unhurt?!”

“I do not understand, instructor Camilla. There hadn’t been any obstacle. Or perhaps you mean to say that you were aware there would be danger at our destination, instructor?”

“W-what are you implying?! Of course there would be! That’s the sort of place where ruffians and rascals would gather, that’s common sense!”

“And an instructor of the academy would still make it a location for an ‘errand’, despite that?”

“Sharon is a high noble, of course she would have bodyguards to protect her!”

“I see. Our business is concluded then, instructor. As we shall have to report the matter to the academy and His Majesty as well, please allow us to take our leave…”

“I-Impudent servant, know your place! Their time is much too valuable to be bothered by such trivialities! Don’t think being a Partner candidate will protect you when I throw you into prison—”

“Oh, yes, before I forget, there is a delivery from the pharmacist to instructor Camilla.”

I take out a bottle containing a noxiously pink liquid. Camilla’s eyes grow into the size of saucers.

“After the talk that the esteemed pharmacist had deigned to grant me, it came to my knowledge that there was a certain noble lady who frequently visited the shop to obtain a rather powerful kind of… medication. As it is made from moss gathered from the lowest levels of a dungeon, it would take several months to have enough to fill a single one of this bottle.”

“Y-You…”

“It’s a very interesting product indeed. Whoever was purchasing this surely has good taste.”

“…”

“Yet I am but a lowly maid, and I am aware that such a treasure deserve a more worthy owner. I was thinking to bring it to the academy, but… hmm, I wonder. Lady Camilla, you are an instructor. Should I entrust it into your care?”

“…I’ll take it.”

“The item has already been paid for. I only request my handling fee.”

I give her a bill that lists said fee and a few other expenses. Lady Camilla’s face rapidly changes color.

“T-This…”

“Would you prefer me to take this directly to the Reese dukedom instead?”

“…I’ll pay.”

“I am grateful.”

 

The slip of paper resembles less an invoice and more a notice of debt, really, but surely lady Camilla would overlook the difference if she knows what’s good for her. Milady is looking rather jittery as well. Oh, she hasn’t needed to worry.

 

“Instructor Camilla, rest assured, I haven’t come here just to burden you with more responsibilities.”

Gently, delicately, I present to her a perfume bottle that is quite a bit smaller than the previous bottle of medicine.

“What is this…?”

“I assume instructor Camilla would understand if I say that it’s twice as powerful, yes?”

“…”

Lady Camilla’s eyes flash for a single moment. Her face is crimson-red, a drastic change from what she looked like only minutes ago, and she snatches the perfume bottle into her possession as though afraid it would run away.

Thus concludes milady’s errand. All’s well that ends well.

And forgive me for not explaining more about the aforementioned medicine, as I am sure there are those under eighteen among the readers.

 

Several days later. It is the date of the planned meal with his Highness Joel that milady had been invited to weeks ago.

 

“Hey, Sharon. You’re looking even more radiant today.”

“T-thank you for the compliment, your Highness…”

Of course she is. Today, Milady has her hair in a quick updo, while her outfit is a scarlet dress that clings to her curves and shows off her shoulders.

As her dress doesn’t leave much to the imagination, she’s being rather bashful, yet it is exactly that embarrassment that makes her look perfect. She did smack me with a slipper when I said as much, but it doesn’t mean I was wrong. His Highness’ gaze is fixed on her figure, after all. Especially one place in particular.

Milady had been one of his fiancee candidates ever since they were young, but it is not until today that they actually have their first meal alone together. Really, I just showed off a fraction of her true beauty and prince Joel is already acting like this. What a dreadfully hopeless man.

 

As the occasion is only an informal get-together between fellow students, other than milady and prince Joel, there is only me in the position of milady’s maid, two senior maids serving his Highness, and finally his bodyguard, the imperial knight leader named Andy.

When Andy saw my beautiful lady wearing a dress, his eyes squinted for a moment as though he was looking at something much too dazzling. Then his gaze moved to a certain part of milady’s and he looked away in apparent shame, his cheeks blushing.

What a closet pervert he is.

Yet I could not blame him for it. It is the first time milady wears such a mature dress that shows off her body so, after all. Andy must have been feeling quite guilty for being entranced by lady Sharon’s sensuality when he had only ever seen her as a little sister.

But the fruit is so much more enticing when it’s forbidden, isn’t it? I totally get it, Andy, you horndog. Heheheh.

 

“Oh yes. Miss Fleurety, would you care to join us? I understand you’ve become Sharon’s maid, but you are her Partner as well.” Prince Joel suddenly says.

He turns to Sharon. “I notice you seem somewhat nervous. Would you be more at ease if she was to be beside you, Sharon?”

“Eh? Ah, umm…”

Well, he wasn’t wrong. Milady is nervous. Seemingly taken by surprise at the turn of the conversation, milady glances backward at me, looking for help.

The prince must have planned this. Instead of a table set for only two people facing each other, there are additional seats to the side. Plural. Not just one, but two seats.

The silence continues. I glance at the prince to see that his perpetual smile is still there, but his eyes are darting to the side.

…I see.

“I am grateful for your consideration, your Highness. However, I am but a maid. It would be better if there was another man.”

“Hmm, true. In that case…”

Prince Joel pretend to look around without even trying to make it look natural, and he calls for the only other man in the room.

“Andy, would you join us?”

 

“Me, your Highness?”

Andy hesitantly speaks, his brows set in a slight frown even as he already had an inkling of where the conversation is going.

“Your Highness, I am a protector. I cannot protect you if I am seated at the same table.”

“This is the academy, and the only people in this room are those I trust. You’re the heir of a marquis as well, Andy. There is no problem.”

“But…”

Of course, even if the prince’s saying that, common sense would still tell you there is a problem. Seeing that Andy continues to be so straight-laced, prince Joel gives me another glance.

“I would be the one least trusted here, am I not?”

“Letty!” Milady speaks up, shocked.

“Which is why sir Andy should sit with me and keep watch. Otherwise, it would simply be not proper for me to sit with milady and your Highness.”

It’s sophistry, pure and simple, but prince Joel still nods deeply at my words.

“Don’t keep a lady waiting, Andy.”

“…understood.”

“Right, you two are childhood friends, aren’t you? I’ll let you catch up on old times. Besides, rarely have I a chance to talk with miss Fleurety here.”

“I am honored, your Highness.” I say with a bow.

Prince Joel’s two maids pull out the neighboring seats, and I sit with his Highness. Andy gives a sigh of resignation and sit down in front of milady.

 

“Sir Andy…”

“It’s been a while, miss Sharon… so, umm, you look beautiful. I was honestly stunned.”

“Ah! Umm… thank you…”

“…”

“…”

Then the two blushing people just stay silent. They don’t even touch the food. Prince Joel and his senior maids watch them with smirks on their faces. Finding myself with nothing to do, I begin to put away four people’s worth of food into my stomach.

 

It is during my meal that prince Joel leans near me and whispers.

“So how do you find my plan, miss Fleurety?”

Apparently the prince has some degree of awareness about what’s going on between the two of them.

“Let’s see… I shall return your score from the negative back to zero, then.” I whisper back, wiping my mouth with a napkin.

His Highness slumps face-down on the table.

“I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with getting your approval for today.”

Really, what did he mean by that?

 

On a separate and unrelated note, prince Joel has also given me what amounted to a word of… warning, I suppose.

“While I’ve noticed that the noble ladies are acting somewhat strange… I am more concerned about the rumor that a certain dukedom has made contact with some people in the Church. Miss Fleurety, please stay vigilant. Lady Sharon might need you by her side.”


A/N: Joel hasn’t ever disliked Sharon in the first place. He wouldn’t reject her if she ever becomes his fiancee, but he has also faintly realized that her feelings aren’t for him.

The maid might have given him a failing grade, but he isn’t actually dense.


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21 – Tea Party

Since morning today, we’ve been making preparations to go to a tea party.

Who would have a tea party with such a loner queen as lady Sharon? …is probably what some of you people out there might be foolishly thinking, but milady has indeed received an invitation. Everyone still remember, right? Hmmhm, of course I still do. Right up until I don’t.

 

“L-Letty, is this good enough?”

“Of course. You look wonderful in them, milady.”

 

The invitation came from her schoolmate, a young lady of a viscount family. This would be milady’s first time going to a tea party.

Milady’s ensemble today is a simple dress, albeit one with plenty of room in the chest area in order to bring out all of milady’s charm. I had wanted to get her in all sorts of cute clothes, but milady is unfortunately overly gifted in a particular department. It’s difficult to find ready-made clothes that fit her.

To give you an idea of milady’s size, it is large enough that the employee of the clothing store we went to had clicked her tongue when she looked at milady.

“…Letty, you just had another unflattering thought, didn’t you?”

“I was just thinking about the innate inequality between people, milady.”

“My, Letty, that sounds like a grand topic.”

The grandest in the world, I would say.

 

“Welcome, lady Sharon. I am most grateful that you have accepted my invitation.” The viscount’s young lady turns to me, “It is good to have you here as well, miss Fleurety.”

“O-of course, you’re welcome, come back anytime!”

Milady outdoes herself once again with her stranger anxiety. She’s panicking so much her response doesn’t even make sense. But that’s what makes her beautiful.

“Come, come, let’s go.”

“…umm, ah, yes.”

I had to give the viscount’s young lady a nudge to jolt her out of her temporary blue-screen. After her reboot, she gets back to guiding us to our destination.

The young lady was born to the Liniello viscount, and her name is Clarice. She is in the same study group as me in class. We’ve received her invitation since before milady’s homecoming trip, but I still haven’t been able to discern her intentions.

 

“Hey there, miss Sharon, miss Fleurety.”

“Hello, lady Sharon… Kamishiro.”

The whole terrace has been reserved. There, we find two people already seated and enjoying their tea.

“Salutations, instructor Marsaw, lady Chieri…” Milady says.

The same two we met before. Instructor Marsaw looks to be in a good mood, but miss Chieri doesn’t seem to be in very good cheer. I can see her frowning a little.

Milady takes her seat. I move to my usual spot behind her.

“…miss Fleurety, please feel free to sit down.” Lady Clarice says, a hint of dismay on her face as she glances at the empty seat.

“My apologies. I am lady Sharon’s maid, and as such, I should not be seated at the same table.” I say, bowing my head.

Strangely enough, milady seems rather sad as she turns her eyes up at me.

“Letty… please. It’s a request from me, too.”

“But…”

“Then I won’t ask you to. I’m ordering you. Take the same seat as me.”

“Milady…”

Of course, I know that despite saying it’s an order, it’s really just her looking out for her humble servant.

“Then, allow me.”

As she has asked me to take the same seat, I climb on lady Sharon to sit on her lap, facing her.

“You know that’s not what I meant!”

*thwack!*

It’s been quite a while since she took out the slipper again.

 

“Speaking of which, miss Sharon, I heard you’ve picked up theurgy?”

“…ah, yes, sir, but I’ve only just started.”

Indeed, with age comes wisdom. While everyone else is still gaping at me as I sit down on the seat next to milady as though nothing had happened, only instructor Marsaw makes conversation, looking as calm as ever.

“As I’ve mentioned in class before, theurgy is quite good for training your magic control. Keep at it, miss Sharon.”

“Y-yes, sir.”

“Teacher, I’ve also learned Purify,” Chieri suddenly cut in, leaning forward and sounding like a cute honor student who’s asking her teacher for some personal tutoring, “And I think I’m getting the hang of Barrier now… but I’m nervous, doing this alone. If you wouldn’t mind, teacher, would you—”

“My, has something happened?”

This time, it is lady Clarice who interrupts Chieri with a smile on her face. Chieri’s lips twitch.

“The Church has requested miss Chieri’s expertise in theurgy.” Instructor Marsaw answers, smiling kindly and seemingly oblivious to the current atmosphere.

“My, is that why she has learned Barrier…? Has something happened at the Church?” Lady Clarice says, her eyes faintly narrowing.

Chieri lightly brushes instructor Marsaw on the arm and chuckles. “That’s a secret, right, teacher?”

 

I can practically feel the sparks flying. Meanwhile, milady cowers in fear, unable to face the carnage with her lacking skills in womanly combat.

Well, it doesn’t really have anything to do with me anyway. In place of the viscount house’s maid who’s frozen in place, I begin to prepare for milady a cup of veeeery sweet caramel milk tea.

 

“Oh yes, which reminds me, I saw Elias talking to miss Fleurety here at the Church. I was honestly surprised, you know? He rarely shows interest in women.” Instructor Marsaw changes the subject. I have no idea if this is him reading the mood, or not reading the mood.

Chieri’s shoulders move in an almost unnoticeable shake.

That day, the silver-armor-wearing knight had continued to be quite insistent in trying to talk to me. A gift of roses then arrived for me a few days later. I immediately made them into rose jam.

“He’s not interested in women? Does that mean he’s interested in men, then?” I ask instructor Marsaw.

“No, that’s not what I meant….”

“And you’re friends with him, teacher… or are you ‘friends’ with him?”

“Please stop.”

Strangely enough, instructor Marsaw’s face rapidly pales. On the other hand, lady Clarice blushes, looking as though she’s discovered something that she likes very much.

“It’s not that, he’s—”

 

“My, my, what an intriguing conversation.”

 

I really have to wonder if the people of this world are culturally inclined to interrupt others. Despite the terrace being reserved for the tea party, the doors are now open, and a very good-looking lady who looks to be in her early twenties strides toward us. Her hair is a scarlet red.

“…lady Camilla.” “Instructor Reese!”

Lady Clarice and miss Chieri’s voices overlap.

Oh, yes, of course I remember her. Like instructor Marsaw, she is also a teacher at the magic academy. Camilla de Reese, the young lady of a duke’s family.

“Clarice. Why have you called Marsaw but not me?”

“My apologies!”

Clarice hurriedly bows, intimidated by the lady instructor’s aggression.

“Instructor Reese, don’t be so harsh…”

As instructor Marsaw tries to mediate, lady Camilla coquettishly leans on him, fingertips caressing his leg.

“Come on, Marsaw, aren’t we coworkers? I told you, just call me Camilla.” She purrs.

 

Indeed, she makes miss Chieri look like a kid in comparison. While lady Camilla is the third daughter of a duke as well as an instructor of the academy, it doesn’t change the fact that instructor Marsaw is still her senior. A rather saucy woman she is, to be acting so familiar with him.

 

“You over there. Are you acquainted with Elias?”

Lady Camilla throws out her chest and ask me, condescension in her voice. How disappointing. Milady is far more impressively endowed.

“Instructor Camilla, your ringlets are truly luxurious.”

“My, is that your attempt at deflection?”

Despite saying that, she still seems quite pleased. Her lips faintly twitches in a smile, while her fingers brush through her scarlet curls.

Right, right. My hands meet each other in a gesture of realization, and I turn to milady.

“Letty?”

“Milady, today’s snack will be chocolate cornets.”

“What were you looking at to get that idea?!”

 

***

 

The words had offended Camilla’s sensibilities and signaled the end of the tea party. Chieri waited until no one was looking at her and quietly sighed.

Today’s tea party had been extremely… stressful. Not only was the viscount young lady — the main heroine — there, but also two of the villainesses.

There were three villainesses in this game. Sharon was a character that showed up in all routes to annoy and harass you, but never really doing more. On the other hand, Camilla only appeared if you proceeded with the adults’ routes, but she made for a truly terrifying villain.

Chieri had seen her in the game many, many times. Nevertheless, when it came time to face her in the flesh and not through a two-dimensional screen, Chieri found her to be an even more intense woman than she had expected.

Thinking that today was a ‘game event’, Chieri had pestered Marsaw to take her along to the tea party, but then she found out the main heroine had also invited Sharon. She had no idea what the viscount young lady had been thinking.

At first, she thought she would have to make enemies out of all of them at the same time, a headache-inducing prospect if there ever was one. But then her mind changed tack. Maybe the real problem was Kamishiro, after all.

The presence Camilla displayed had been crushing, yet the girl still had the nerve to ignore the woman without even blinking an eye. If it had been Chieri, she was sure she wouldn’t have been able to do it.

I guess I really have to deal with her first…

 

“Instructor Reese… may I have a bit of your time? I would like to consult you on a matter…”

 

***

 

“Hey, Letty, where is this?”

Today, milady and I are on a shopping trip downtown. I take a look at the memo she shows me, and my eyebrows slightly furrow.

“This store is located in a back alley. I shall go and make the purchase, milady.”

“You can’t. Instructor Camilla has asked me to do this, and so I will.”

At school, there may be times when an instructor requests their students to run an errand for them.

Rather than being a personal chore that the teacher needs doing, it’s more meant to serve as a sort of practical lesson for the noble boys and girls who haven’t had much contact with the common people.

All the same, as milady is a marquis’ daughter, there hasn’t been many teachers who have sent her for errands. Lady Camilla was the one to have asked her this time, however, so milady couldn’t refuse.

“My apologies. I have overstepped my bounds.”

“Don’t mind it, Letty. Besides, umm… I still want you to stay with me.”

Milady is already somewhat blushing by the end, her voice shrunken into an embarrassed whisper. How cute.

 

“Hey there young ladies, brave of you to come here without bodyguar—”

A man appears before us right after we enter the back alley and starts running his mouth, so I let him have a taste of my spiked club.

“Nice shot.”

“Letty?!” Milady sounds shocked.

“Quite a ruffian he was, to have scared milady so.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about! What are you doing so suddenly?”

“What do you mean, milady?”

Anyone who would say something so cliché in this sort of place would inevitably meet the same fate.

“Oh yes, do you mean we should have tied him up and interrogate him? My apologies, I have been hasty.”

“No, that’s not what I meant either…”

I have held back as much as I could on him, but the man is still twitching on the ground with hands between his legs. He does not seem to be available for questioning.

But there is no need to worry. He hasn’t been alone. The few men behind him are already taking out bladed weapons, see? Though I can see some fear mixing in with the anger they’re showing on the faces.

 

“Damn this bitch, she thinks she’s hot shit?!”

“Don’t bother kidnapping them! Just fuck ‘em up!”

 

So, ‘kidnapping’, is it. Simply to take a ransom? Or perhaps they’re working for someone?

I ready my Orc Killer EX in an actual stance. Seeing me, milady tugs on my sleeves.

“You can take them down, but, umm, don’t do that ‘Nice Shot’ thing again, okay?”

“Hmm.”

How kind of milady. I understand, her face is flipping between a pale pallor and a bright blush, after all. Besides, if I do the upswing with my full strength, I don’t think they’d be in any condition to talk.

“Understood.”

 

I approach the group. One of the men runs at me with his weapon. I trip him with my spiked club and once he lies on the ground, I make a putt with Orc Killer EX.

*splat*

“Birdie.”

“Urflp…”

My gentle strike hasn’t been enough to make him faint. It only turns his face ashen pale and sodden with cold sweat while his body shivers.

 

“Come on, be grateful for milady’s kindness. One more hit…”

“No, that’s not it!”

 

Don’t worry, milady. There are still plenty of balls left to hit. Let’s see what they know about their backer.


A/N: It was very kind of the maid and her mistress to have allowed them to stay conscious.


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20 – Enemy Contact

A/N: The maid thinks of herself as a lovely little spider who’s just a bit different from others, that’s all.


“May the Goddess’ will be done…”

We are at the Church. Milady Sharon has been accepted for lessons in this ‘theurgy’ thing without any problems. As I stay back behind her, a middle-aged priest walks up to me and covertly slips me a piece of paper.

“Ten gold coins, is it?”

“The Antidote spell that the young lady would be learning is quite suitable for nobles who are dabbling in the arts. Let us give thanks to the Goddess for her benevolence in granting us the knowledge.”

One needs to give an offering if one wants to get lessons in theurgy. In other words, the priest is pretty much saying: “She’s a noble, she needs the spell, right? It’s not even that much, just pay up.”

So, ten gold coins.

We have enough leeway in our funds now for a pricy purchase or two, but as the manager of milady’s finance, needless expenses are to be avoided.

“It’s not very affordable for the common person, is it?”

“Our learners would be able to receive a part of the Goddess’ miracles. They have all gladly made their offerings.”

“Yet I am quite sure the man who had just left had said that it was three gold coins for him.”

I see a twitch on the priest’s cheeks.

“…it would not reflect well on a noble if they were known to be unable to pay more than a commoner, would it?”

“Yes, indeed.”

The priest nods, showing obvious relief at my agreement. Humans don’t feel very comfortable when someone else keeps on blankly staring at them in the eyes, do they?

“If I may make an idle observation, revered pastor. For a holy servant of the Goddess, would it not give rise to undesirable rumors if they were seen to, say, stare at a certain… area… of young ladies?”

The middle-aged priest’s smile freezes on his face.

“…what… might you be speaking about?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing at all. I understand that milady is quite beautiful. She has attracted quite a bit of attention from many of the male persuasion when she was on her way here as well. It bothered her, it seems.”

She jiggles just by walking, after all.

“…she must feel rather uncomfortable indeed.”

“Of course, these men were but commoners, so I had no intentions of raising a fuss as long as they stay discreet. But only because they were commoners, I must add.”

“…”

“Kind pastor. If possible, might you be willing to further instruct milady on some harmless knowledge on theurgy? I am willing to give the aforementioned donation.”

“…understood.”

“Thank you, good priest. As a token of my gratitude, here…”

I slip him a few pieces of paper with printed pictures on them. The priest gives them a glance and carefully, reverently put them away in his pocket. The two of us share a pleased smile.

“”May the Goddess’ will be done.””

 

The generous priest has decided to also teach milady some curative spells.

By the way, these printed pictures are a kind of ‘monochrome photographs’ that were taken by a magitool. Newspaper use them, and the academy also has a few of the magitools.

And by sheer coincidence, in my pockets are photographs of miss Akiru and miss Hina after they’d been administered medicine and their faces were looking quite… indecent. My, I wonder how these photos existed. Heheheh.

 

“Letty, they taught me Cure and Strengthen!”

“I expect no less, milady.”

“But I’m not sure if I can handle them…”

The cheer on lady Sharon’s face clouds with worry.

“Milady, you’ve learned theurgical spells in order to help with your magic control in the first place. Let us proceed in our studies.”

“I’ll do my best!”

Milady clenches her wee little hands in determination. How dangerously cute.

 

That aside… I’ve been feeling a rather strange gaze.

Yes, it’s true that ever since we entered the cathedral, I’ve sensed a slight pressure coming from the statue of the Goddess, but this other gaze feels different.

“Hey, Letty.”

“What is it?”

Milady whispers in my ear, smiling in mischievous amusement.

“That knight over there has been looking at you, you know?”

I follow her gaze to see a knight wearing a suit of eye-wateringly shiny silver armor, looking about halfway through his twenties. He had been there when milady and I first came into the cathedral, I noticed. He left some time afterward, but apparently he’s returned.

“I see, he must be a pedophile.”

“Come on, Letty…” Milady gives me a look full of disappointment.

Oh, yes, of course. For noble girls in this world, being halfway through their teenage years is enough for them to be considered a mature lady. While I’m not exactly a little kid myself, I would have expected him to look at milady instead with how maternal she looks. Why me?

…hmm?

“Milady, instructor Marsaw is there.”

“My.”

 

As soon as Eric Marsaw, the magic academy teacher, enters the cathedral, the aforementioned silvery knight displays a beaming smile. He runs up toward the instructor.

“Ah, they’re homo-”

“Letty?!”

My mistake. It was not a word suitable for my angelic lady’s ears.

“Oh, over there…”

“I see that the instructor hasn’t come alone.”

Behind instructor Marsaw is a petite young woman. I say petite, but that is only in comparison to the instructor and the knight, both of whom look to be over 180 centimeters. She is probably around my size.

She has long black hair and wears a pair of thin, silver-rimmed glasses. Among the middle-schoolers from Earth, she used to be the class president. Her name is…

 

“Hello, miss Sharon, miss Fleurety. I didn’t know you two were here too.”

Instructor Marsaw notices us and greets us with a smile. Like the knight, instructor Marsaw is also rather handsome. They’re being targeted by quite a few sultry gazes from the female churchgoers.

“Greetings, instructor Marsaw.” Milady says.

I follow suit. “It has been a while, instructor.”

“…although I do hope you would attend class more frequently, miss Fleurety. Ah, yes, miss Chieri is also here.”

“Hello… Kamishiro.”

 

Oh, yes, her name is Chieri. Of course I remember.

If memory serves, her family manages a shrine. Behind the thin silver-rimmed pair of glasses, tense almond eyes pierce at me.

I remember her, of course. I remember how she, as the class president, hadn’t done anything.

 

Miss Chieri averts her gaze. She then turns a gentle smile toward instructor Marsaw, seeming as though her earlier coldness hadn’t existed.

“Teacher, allow me to introduce myself.”

“Sure, go ahead.”

Chieri smiles sweetly. She steps in front of milady.

“Lady Sharon. I believe this is the first time we’ve talked, yes?”

“Eh? …ah, yes, indeed it is, lady Chieri.”

Truly, milady is a terminal patient of shyness. Just getting talked to by a girl of the same age is enough for her to get nervous and her face to turn stony.

Miss Chieri’s smile gains a hint of satisfaction. She walks even closer to milady.

“I’ve always wanted to talk to you. I hope we can be friends from now on.”

“Y-yes.”

Chieri stretches out her hand for a shake. Milady reflexively responds and brings out her own…

 

*thwap*

“…Letty?”

But before they could touch, I grabbed both their arms.

“Excuse me.” I say.

Milady gapes at me, while Chieri looks at me quizzically. I slowly release my hold and begin to rub and pull at the flab on both their arms.

“Good.”

“‘Good’?! Is that what you have to say?!”

“…really, Kamishiro?”

Please, no need for such exasperation. I only like it if it’s milady making that sort of gaze.

At any rate, after my flabbiness comparison, it seems there is no need to change milady’s diet yet.

 

“May I introduce myself as well?” The silvery knight says, smiling at milady and me. “Greetings, lady Sharon. I am Elias Loewe. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

The knight kneels and brushes milady’s hand with his lips. She panics and reverts to her instinctive haughtiness.

“Ah, yes, of course you should be! I am Sharon de Michel!”

Things are as usual. But then he also kneels in front of me, a simple maid, and he takes my hand in both of his. He kisses it so reverently I’m half convinced he thinks of me as his Goddess.

 

“My lady most lovely. May I have the honor of hearing your name?”

 

***

 

‘…damn it.’

 

Chieri was born as the only daughter of a shrine near her middle school.

Yet even since her childhood, she had never been a pious girl. She treated priestesshood as nothing more than a job, and she saw the shrine as nothing more than an establishment that did business in faith.

When she was summoned in this world and gained a Skill called [Theurgy Aptitude], she had thought that life had quite a sense of irony.

 

Chieri was aware that she was a logical girl, maybe a bit high-strung as well. Half the reason she had become the class president was for her academic records, while the other half was because she knew she wouldn’t be able to stand letting the job go to someone less intelligent.

So even when the class had a girl being ostracized, she still ignored it. She didn’t even try to hide the fact.

It was her class. She wouldn’t allow her peace to be disturbed, even if the girl had been completely blameless.

 

Chieri had often heard the girls in the class chattering over this or that handsome boy, but she had never really understood them. She expected she would inherit the shrine someday, and so ever since she was a grade-schooler, she had always thought that she would be marrying a mature and rich man in the future, one who wouldn’t interfere with what she did and had his own work to focus on. She was practical that way.

Unfortunately, this was real life. She wouldn’t find such a man when she was still a kid. But then, her cousin, an older girl, misinterpreted it as her wanting to have a romance with an older man, and so she had given Chieri an otome game.

It had changed Chieri’s world.

 

The game was called Light, Darkness, and Love Online 2 – The Millefeuille of Love. An installment of a series, the game was an online open world simulation game. While the title was undeniably rather dubious, once Chieri tried it out, she instantly got hooked.

Not because it allowed her to vicariously experience a romance with adults, no.

It was because through the game, she had discovered a perverse sort of pleasure in seducing grown-up men, in bewitching them and driving them mad with love as a little kid.

 

The available seduction targets in this game who were adult men were, according to the official introduction, the imperial knight leader and the magic academy’s instructor. And of course, Chieri had mostly focused on them in her hours and hours of game time.

In these sort of romance game, information was the most powerful weapon. And when the class was summoned into this world, Chieri had been the fastest to realize that it was the game’s world. She immediately concealed her knowledge.

She expected that surely there were other ‘heroines’ who were aware of this game, too. She quietly began making her moves, hiding from the other heroines while changing this world to her advantage.

 

A fortunate surprise was waiting for her.

In the game, if a player tried to seduce more than a certain number of targets at the same time, there was a chance they might encounter a special, secret character. Now that the game had become reality, Chieri had thought it would be difficult to do the same, but then the [Theurgy Aptitude] Skill she had gained afforded her an opportunity. She was called to the Church, and there she met the secret character.

Elias Loewe, the most powerful holy knight. If certain conditions were fulfilled, conditions that were unknown to her, it would result in the appearance of an ‘outside enemy’. The heroine and Elias would cooperate to defeat them.

 

Yet now, that holy knight, that stunningly beautiful man was kneeling in front of the bullied girl, kissing the back of her hand and looking at her with so, so much passion.

Unforgivable. It should have been Chieri instead.

 

Ever since the summoning, the girl had had a rather drastic change in personality. Chieri wondered if it wouldn’t be her actual personality instead if she hadn’t been bullied.

When Chieri heard that the girl had Partnered with Sharon, one of the villainesses, she had thought it fitting that the undesirables were sticking together. But then, a possibility came to Chieri’s mind: that the girl knew of the game and still decided to become Sharon’s Partner regardless. If so, she might just be Chieri’s most dangerous enemy.

And her apprehension was proven. Just when Chieri was about to cast a tactile-type surveillance spell on Sharon, her arm was pinched by the girl and her spell was nullified.

 

Chieri wouldn’t allow anyone to stand in her way. The girl and Sharon would be removed from the face of this world, she quietly swore to herself.


A/N: Willingly walking into the spider’s parlor.


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19 – The Church

“Sharon…”

“Father…”

The Michel marquis has gotten so weak that he nearly falls over trying to stand up, but he does so anyway, calling for milady’s name. The two share a tearful embrace.

Gidel had never allowed her to meet him, and the only letters she ever received from the family had been full of heartless words. Nevertheless, milady still believed in her father.

It seems the Michel marquis had been bedridden for a long, long time due to being continuously fed poison by Gidel. He can move around somewhat now that the poison is gone, but the danger has not fully passed. He still needs rest.

Well, I suppose there’s also a little bit of my poison involved in his condition too, but that’s irrelevant. Just a bit of an accident, really.

 

“S-Sister!”

“…Yohanne?”

The boy is looking at milady with so much reverence in his gaze, it’s like his personality has been switched. Are those cheeks blushing because he has just been embraced in milady’s bountiful blessings a moment ago? What a lecherous kid.

“U-umm… can I still talk to you at school, sister?”

“You can, Yohanne. We’re siblings, no need to be so reserved.”

“Yes!”

Yohanne. Lady Sharon is your older sister. Do you remember that? Do you?

 

In the end, everyone in the Balla count’s house, from family members to high-ranking servants, were discovered to have gone missing. Gidel was the only exception. She had been arrested as a suspect, but was then found to be of unsound mind. The rest of her life would be spent in the asylum, it seemed.

I found out that she wasn’t immortal. Still, I left her alive to take responsibility for the incident.

Now, the only remaining person to carry the Balla blood is Yohanne. After he turns of age, he would either become the next count, or the Balla territory would be absorbed by the Michel house. There are also talks of having the territory become milady’s instead, but the matter is still for the far future.

 

I’ve managed to deal with most of Gidel’s lackeys within the Michel family’s servants.

The job of explaining things to the truly ignorant servants — those who had been deceived by Gidel — would be done by the young maids that I’d saved, so I expect there would be no problem on that end. The only troublesome ones are the servants allied with Gidel who weren’t aware of her crimes, such as Mia. I only left them under surveillance, however; they might prove to be useful for something.

“Then I shall leave the matter to you, sir Franz.”

“Understood, miss Fleurety. I will accomplish my duties.”

Mister Franz has changed from his gardener attire to a butler uniform. Quite a few of the high-ranking servants are gone now, so he has been reinstated to his old position.

From what I’ve heard, he and that one knight named Bardo are now making contact with the people who had been forced to resign, calling them back to service.

Well then…

 

“Eep!”

Just giving her a glance is already enough for lady Akiru to squeak fearfully. She shrinks away from me.

Ah, but there are quite a lot of black rings around her eyes, aren’t there? I’ve recruited her help with a bit of my experiments, though I do hope she wouldn’t turn out like lady Hina. That young lady now loses control of her bladder whenever I come close.

 

I have had a little talk with lady Akiru, and she said this world is the world of an otome game. A likely claim. I decided some verification was in order, and so since the young miss cannot die, I administered a nearly-fatal dose of my medicine. Unfortunately, it only confirmed that she truly believed what she was saying.

In other words, this world is a world with an incredible resemblance to that of the so-called ‘otome game’.

According to Akiru, there are several ‘heroines’. In order to conquer their targets, they would have to bring down the ‘villainesses’ and raise their affection points with the target.

And one of those villainesses is supposed to be lady Sharon.

…what a farce.

 

“Letty?”

“My apologies. My mind was occupied with a small matter.”

Milady and I have returned from the Michel territory to the capital, where the academy is. There are quite a few concerns, but as I have no concrete evidence yet, I cannot afford to burden milady with more worries.

“My, Letty. That’s unusual for you.”

“I was thinking to write a thesis about the inverse relationship between milady’s scholarly ability and bust size in order to present it to the academy.”

“Can you please not?! Seriously!”

“It was only half a joke, milady.”

“…fine then, I guess.”

Which is to say that I am also half-serious. The headmaster has shown a surprising amount of interest, and he even told me he would fund all expenses for my research from his own pocket.

“Milady, in order to raise your scores, we will look into studying magic today.”

“Alright…”

Milady sulks somewhat as she looks at me with upturned eyes. How devastatingly cute.

 

If lady Sharon is supposed to be one of those so-called ‘villainesses’, then I need only defeat the heroines. At the same time, getting her grades up and clearing her stigma of being a terrible student are also very important.

How much effort should I spend on entertaining this silly idea, I wonder…

 

“Which reminds me, I’ve heard that theurgy would be good for learning magic control.”

“Theurgy, is it?”

Different from the elemental magics that we learn at the academy such as earth, water, fire, wind, and a few other types, theurgy is magic that uses the element of ‘light’. While the academy also teaches the basics of theurgy, this type of magic is mainly the Church’s domain, since many healing spells are theurgical in nature.

“Have you not gone to church before, milady?”

“Umm… I’ve gone for a prayer or two before, but getting theurgical lessons… well…”

“Aah, I understand. Milady used to be impoverished, after all.”

“Shut up!”

Apparently, one needs to give a rather sizable donation if one wishes to learn theurgical magic from the Church. With the funds we’ve earned from the dungeons and the actual support that the marquis house is now giving us, we can afford it.

“Alright, we’ll go to the Church!”

“Yes, milady. I shall accompany you.”

 

And so we get ready for a trip downtown. Getting there on foot wouldn’t take more than an hour, but just as milady and I leave the dormitory, we find the dorm mother’s horse already waiting for us with the carriage.

“Your name is Nir from now on.”

“Grrr!”

“Umm, Letty, are you sure it’s fine to name it without asking the dorm mother first…?”

It is, it is. The dorm mother never manages to stay conscious whenever she catches sight of Nir here, anyway. She must be quite the sheltered lady if seeing a horse with four extra legs is already enough to make her faint. Just in case, I drape Nir in a sheet of cloth to hide his changes.

As I expected, Nir is rather speedy. We arrive at the church several times faster than in a normal carriage.

 

“So this is the church…”

“Yes, it’s the cathedral of the Church that venerates the true Goddess.”

We’re not talking about a building for worship. We’re talking about a religious organization that is named ‘The Church’. How confusing. Which reminds me, I do recall lady Akiru mentioning that this world has an actual Goddess who grants Oracles to the heroines.

The entrance is a staircase with ten steps. Milady jiggles whenever she goes up a step, which is why she’s been the target of quite a few gazes from the men visiting the Church.

“What’s wrong, Letty?” She says mid-way through the stairs, her head turned to look back at me. I haven’t moved from the bottom.

I’m not sure how to describe this. The moment I try to go up the stairs, I immediately feel some sort of pressure, like I’m being rejected. It makes it rather difficult for me to proceed.

But, well, it’s not strong enough to stop me completely.

“No, it is nothing. I will be with you in a moment, milady.”

I smile at her and make a forceful step forward. Something crackles, almost like static electricity on a cold day. From deeper within the cathedral, a faint column of smoke begins to rise.

“My… are they making a bonfire?”

“How about some roasted sweet potatoes for today’s snack, milady?”

“Ooh! Yes, I’d like that!”

 

***

 

“What happened?!”

“I-I don’t know. The protective talisman just suddenly burned…”

 

The talisman at the cathedral was the core of a holy barrier that repelled malice and all things evil. Legend has it that it was first set up centuries ago by the Saint, a holy woman who had received an Oracle from the Goddess, and it had protected the cathedral from wicked humans and dark spirits ever since.

What would it mean, then, that the talisman burned?

The thought that there could be an existence powerful enough to destroy the Saint’s protection did not even come to the minds of the priests and priestesses. They all believed it had been because of a lack of piety, and they could do nothing but helplessly watch in panic as the talisman continued to burn.

 

“Everyone, calm down.” “Sir Elias! Oh, thank the Goddess!”

The priests and priestesses all exclaimed in relief and cheer.

 

Arriving at the scene was a dashingly handsome man. He was the most powerful Holy Knight, the only man in this country — as well as the surrounding countries, in fact — to have received the Goddess’ Protection.

With unshakable composure, he stepped in front of the priests and raised his right hand.

 

[Holy Light]

 

Light suffused the chamber. The moment it touched the talisman, the flames were instantly snuffed out.

“As expected of sir Elias!”

“How wonderful… he truly is loved by the Goddess.”

Words of praise and rejoice rang out one after another. Even as Elias responded to their cheers with a hint of a wry smile on his face, his eyes were still fixed at the charred talisman.

…what has happened? He thought.

At the great hall, Elias had felt a malevolent presence, albeit for only a single instant.

It had vanished so quickly that he almost thought he was imagining it. But then, from the burning talisman, he sensed a wicked magic power lingering. It had been the reason why the fire couldn’t be extinguished, as well as why Elias had decided to use the evil-repelling theurgical spell Holy Light to purify the magic power.

As Elias was deep in his thoughts, one of the priests called at him.

“Sir Elias, what should we do? The cathedral cannot be defenseless…”

“Indeed…”

 

The protective talisman was imbued by the theurgical power of the Saint hundred of years ago.

While Elias could also use powerful theurgical spells thanks to the Goddess’ Protection, his repertoire were mainly combat-focused. He could manage during the short-term, but he couldn’t make a talisman that would last centuries like the Saint had.

Then Elias remembered. His friend Eric Marsaw, an instructor at the magic academy, had told him that among the boys and girls summoned this year, there was a person who was a prodigy in theurgy.

 

“Perhaps they could do it…”

 

Deciding to contact Marsaw, Elias returned to the great hall. The moment he did, he noticed a noble-looking silver-haired girl entering the hall…

“How lovely…”

…and his gaze was instantly stolen by the adorable black-haired maid walking behind her.


A/N: No Elias don’t go there, that way lies madness.

There’s been a lot of names and since more of the middle-schoolers are going to show up from now on, I thought I’d list out the names of the female middle-school students.

秋留【akiru】 牡丹【botan】 知恵里【chieri】 伝子【denko】 依波【ena】 吹亜【fua】 銀子【ginko】 比奈【hina】

They’re literally named in ABC order.


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Final Afterstory 06 – The Rabbit Goddess Descends

Dozens of fighter aircrafts flew toward me. This country’s military, I supposed.

I sent them a warning-slash-threat in the Divine Language, but it did nothing more than send them into a few seconds of inactivity before their assault resumed.

I flew, breaking the sound barrier and with a wave of my hand, freezing and bringing down the rain of missiles. My palm faced toward the fighters.

I’d given my warning. I wasn’t very excited to kill them when they hadn’t attacked me out of hatred, but neither did I have the time to shoot them down gently enough to let them escape with their lives. Earth wasn’t Yggdrasia. There was no World Tree here to save their souls. I closed my eyes for a second to pray for them, and I slowly clenched my hand.

 

“—[Causality Alteration]—”

 

The fighters’ cockpits were instantly painted red from the inside. The majority of the aircrafts continued streaking past me, their speed unchanged, and they plowed into the distant ground.

They were all soldiers. Over the past ten-odd years, they’d had many, many wounds from training and combat, and I expected some of them had even died instantly when I activated my ability. How ironic… the more they’d hurt and killed for their country, the higher their likelihood of death.

“…still.”

While I might pray for their passing, that didn’t mean I’d start feeling merciful now, of all times.

I was the Goddess of Yggdrasia, not Earth. I would save this planet, the planet where I was born, but I had no plans to save the people on it. I was a koujin, after all.

 

“Stop throwing yourselves at me!”

 

Despite their losses, there were still fighters several kilometers away who were willing to continue attacking me. I threw daggers from my inventory to take them down.

One of them, the squadron leader from the looks of it, was still unwilling to retreat even when they were the last fighter left. I cut off the aircraft’s wings, prompting the two pilots inside to escape, and I tore apart the parachute of the more strong-willed of the two of them, catching him in mid-air. He was slick with cold sweat as the man felt my strength with his own skin, but he still glared at me with all his bravado.

 

“Damned demon!”

“All of this was caused by the ignorance of your own leaders. I had nothing to do with it.”

His language wasn’t one I spoke, but the Divine Language would let me communicate with nearly all sentient creatures.

He understood me, I was sure of it. The man in his forties who looked to be a commanding officer grimaced as my voice sounded directly in his mind, and he howled in outrage.

“Spare me the lies, White Demon! I know you! You are the demon that had attacked the country to the west and murdered tens of thousands! The higher-ups told me it was you that was the cause of this disaster, and even our neighboring country and the nation to the west told us you were to blame for their losses! No matter how much of a monster you might be, you won’t be able to stand against the whole world—”

“…right, I got it.”

I see, further questioning would be useless. I released my hold, and the man’s screams faded off as he fell faster and faster. My cold gaze stayed on him as I let slip a whisper.

 

“…so this country had decided to blame me for everyone they’d done, then.”

 

I had thought it wouldn’t be very productive to try and convince them, but only now did I truly understand how futile communication would be. This country had bought off technicians and researchers from the West and had touched upon the ‘parallel world’ despite their insufficient understanding, and their unanticipated failure had triggered a global existential threat. They must have thought that if what had happened were to be brought to light, the nation would lose much of its credibility.

From a certain point of view, I could understand their thought process, but it was much too foolish. They thought the few percentage of the world that they saw was everything. Even when the world they lived in was in danger, they still prioritized their nation’s reputation.

I didn’t want to believe that all humans were so idiotic. Yet there was far too much of a possibility that the neighboring country, those who had committed the same mistake, would try to keep this fiction alive as well, thinking that their own reputation will be at stake if the truth about what this country had done was to be revealed.

As the situation devolved, sooner or later, the middle-eastern countries and the United Nations would get involved. The people would then try to find an outlet for their dissatisfaction and fear, and they might just turn their eyes toward me — a well-defined enemy, and an easy target to push all their responsibilities on.

Should I demolish this whole region before it came to pass, then? But how much time would it take to comb through it all? Furthermore, how much of the local nature, flora and fauna would be destroyed? Not to mention that I didn’t even know if Brian’s core was here…

If humans were truly such a foolish species…

“…then maybe I should exterminate them to protect this world.”

 

It was then that I noticed something approaching me. It was still far away — several hundreds… no, several thousands kilometers away. And they were coming from more than one direction.

“—[Dimensional Manipulation]—”

I re-accessed the military satellite that I was still keeping a connection to. New info appeared in my mind.

…the neighboring country’s mobilizing its army? There are fleets of warships crossing the Pacific?

How? That’s too fast. It had only been a few hours since I came back to Earth. Even if they’d immediately set off then, there was no way they could have gotten so close.

“Then… had they been expecting this?”

It didn’t look like their preparations had been for my arrival, exactly. My guess was that the other countries had realized that this country was the cause of the disaster. They saw the chaos as an opportunity to further their own interests and bring in their own armies, using the disaster as a pretext. Their troops had been denied entrance by this country and had been waiting outside the border, but my appearance had given them the ‘reasonable cause’ to interfere.

There was a possibility they weren’t here to fight me, but the grey mud instead. I doubted it. They didn’t come loaded with incendiary weapons; they were equipped with what was obviously meant for human-against-human combat.

 

Was every country the same? Were they all people more concerned with robbing from others rather than dealing with a global threat, than the safety of their own lands?

Either way, I would still be their first target to attack, being the most obvious enemy to them. The military satellite told me their fighters had already taken off from their fleets to head straight for me. Meanwhile, this country’s air force also once again resumed their attack.

I let loose a bit of a sigh, a holdover from when I used to be human, and prepared myself to obliterate them. But just as I focused magic into my arms and got ready for interception, one of the fighters heading my way was suddenly shot through its wings. It fell.

“…what?”

 

Several flying objects showed themselves from behind the fighters and gave chase. They were far smaller than the aircrafts, yet overwhelmingly faster and more mobile. Impotent before their assault despite outnumbering them several times, the fighters began dropping like flies.

I knew this feeling…

“…mana?”

From these flying objects, I felt mana when it should have long since disappeared from this world. In that case, were what they were using to shoot down the fighters offensive spells?

They were about five meters in length. Their pitch-black armor brought to mind the image of an insect’s carapace that had been streamlined for flight. One of them changed form into what looked like a griffon and spoke directly into my mind with a telepathic spell.

 

“Sorry I’m lateeeee, miss Dark Bunny Ladyyyyy!”

 

“…what.”

…was that voice Jennifer?! The former researcher of the 12th research center, the gaming addict that had declared herself a worshipper of the Dark Lady, that Jennifer? I thought she was currently working in the management team for the VRMMORPG World of Yggdrasia after it had gotten downsized? Why was she here?

 

“Lady Shedyyyyyy!!!”

The griffon flew at me like an excited dog bringing a frisbee back to its owner, all the while talking in Jennifer’s voice. I dashed forward and gripped her neck.

“Jennifer… is this one of those mana-using avatars? Is your country still doing that? Had they not listened to a single thing I said?”

I put more strength into the hand holding the griffon’s neck, cold mist emanating from me as I fixed my frosty glare at her. Jennifer frantically shook her head.

“N-n-n-no, ma’am!! I mean, this is the final MO-21 model of the mana-using militarized avatar series, but I haven’t betrayed you! And it’s not like I can anyway when you’ve made that Contract with our President!”

“Then talk. What’s going on?”

“Y-yes!”

 

By her words, the mana-using avatar that she was using had been designed as the final model. All the research about magical weapons had been destroyed by my hands along with the research centers, but only the data about this MO-21 model was intact, having been programmed into the game as the final form of the playable monster avatars.

Jennifer and her co-workers had only discovered it about a year ago. As evolving into it required an absurd amount of magic point — four thousand — the management team had deemed the evolution impossible to acquire or even control with the current setup that they had. Removing it from the game would require a complete overhaul of the current monster avatar system, and so they’d decided to leave it alone until a solution could be found.

But once dark pixies began to appear on Yggdrasia and Earth, the management team started to consider what the players should do. It was during their talks with the leaders of Yggdrasia that ‘messengers’ of the World Tree appeared.

 

“…from the World Tree?”

“It’s true! The messengers looked like ghostly children. They said if the players were willing to cooperate, then they would allow us to use our monster avatars on Earth, and the avatars would be infused with enough mana to operate. They also said they wanted us to help miss Shedy.”

“…”

The Saplings… my friends, my family. They were doing this for me?

“Those messengers was amazing! They’d already understood how the avatars worked, and they helped us to evolve all our monster avatars into the MO-21 model! They’re so much smarter than me!”

“…”

My brows slightly furrowed. I think I had an idea of what happened. To have done this sort of nerdy stuff in secret, it could only have been No. 01.

I attempted to extract information from Jennifer’s Model MO-21. What I got were reports of players fighting dark pixies with their MO-21s all around the world, as well as bringing down the fighters deployed to attack me with contemptuous ease.

And that was happening when the players weren’t even trained soldiers. If the magical weapon project had been allowed to be completed, that country might have ruled the world by now.

So if the players had that many monster avatars… wait a minute…

 

“Jennifer, were all the MO-21s being controlled by a central system?”

“Of course! Some of our employees and a few players are military hobbyists, and they said we have to have a central control system if we’re going to be piloting these things. They even stayed up nights after—”

“Got it. Tell all the avatars to stop harassing the human armies and head for where dark pixies are appearing instead. I’ll be giving direct orders through the central control system.”

I removed my hand from Jennifer. She twirled her MO-21 in the air and gave a salute with the griffon’s front leg. Surprisingly dexterous.

 

“Understood! We are the Dark Army, the Bunny Lady’s Royal Guards! All ten thousand of us are now under your command, miss Shedy!”

 

*

 

The aerodynamic Model MO-21s danced in the skies.

People of the modern age were used to the sight of avatars being used in dangerous workplaces. However, in situations where rapid responsiveness and snap decisions were required, such as piloting a military aircraft, the human controller still needed to be present on the scene in order to maximize performance.

Yet having a human on board also meant having a human weakness.

On the other hand, the mana-using avatars had been attuning themselves with mana through actual combat in another world (albeit presented as a game), and their nervous systems had been strengthened as a result. Their performance far surpassed any and all modern weaponry.

The players hadn’t fought any other humans aside from the soldiers they encountered on their way to their destination. Even during those encounters, they hadn’t killed anyone, being nothing more than civilians themselves.

But that was fine. There was no need for their consciences to be burdened with death. I was the Dark Lady, the Goddess, and the weight was my responsibility to bear.

The MO-21s scattered throughout the world at speeds approaching that of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Their destinations were wherever there was the grey mud, the breeding ground for dark pixies. As soon as they arrived, I gave them the order through the central system that I’d linked to.

 

“Begin the assault. Your targets are the dark pixies.”

 

The MO-21s began their extermination. As I expected, it didn’t take long for them to eradicate the dark pixies while still keeping collateral damage low. These avatars possessed more magic points than greater demons after all, while their targets were nothing more than low demons.

 

“Thanks, everyone. It’s my job from here.”

My gratitude was answered with a multitude of voices from the players.

I began attuning all ten-thousand of the MO-21s to me until they were completely suffused in my power, and through them, I activated my ability. In the air, the pitch-black insectile MO-21s all turned white, while those that had transformed into griffons grew rabbit ears from their heads.

 

“Fear not, humans. Fear only feeds the demons. Rest assured, for I am here. Your planet will be saved.”

 

As I Spoke, particles of light scattered from the MO-21s. All humans and creatures of Earth turned their gazes to the rain of light.

 

[Causality Alteration] [Dimensional Manipulation]

 

The luminous particles began to scour through the past and future of all electronic devices throughout the world. From them, I saw everything about how the grey mud had appeared, how it was spreading, and how it would expand.

“…found it!”

I immediately cut my connection to the central control system and teleported to a mountain range to the east of Eurasia.

My vision flickered, and I appeared in the middle of an enormous blizzard. As though in response to my magic power, the mountains instantly erupted with grey mud.

 

“L̷̶͝Í͠T͏̧͜T̕͏̶͞͝L̡̢͜͠͡E͢͠͏ ̵҉̧̀B̷͘͡͞U̶N̡̢͘͟͝N҉͝Y͠Ỳ̷̡̢̕Ý̸͢͡҉Ỳ̵͢Ỳ̷͜͞!̕̕͢͡͞!̵͏̴͠!̶̀”

“Brian…!!”

 

The tsunami of grey surged toward me. I focused all the magic I could muster into my arms, and I brought my Divine and Demonic powers together with a clasp of my hands.

 

“—[Chaos Fulmination]—”

 

With me as the center, a sphere of annihilation expanded outward for dozens of kilometers, erasing and ravaging the grey tsunami. The mountains were stripped bare of layers of earth and rocks, revealing an unassuming research center hidden within.

 

“Palesnow!”

 

I called for my kin. The sentient sword appeared in my hands with a flash of its snow-white blade and a sudden emanation of coldness.

I brought it down. My blade sundered the research center several kilometers away in two and proceeded to slice apart a broken VR capsule, as well as Brian’s skull inside it.

 

“ÁĄ̕͢͡A̡͜͠͏͟a̷̧͡àA͏͞Ą̷̸̧̀ą͢À͞A͟Ŕ̢͢͝R̨R̸̴̵̷͢Ŕ̢͞G͜͏̛G̡͠҉͠H̸́̀H̵͝!̴͢͟͏!̶̷̧̀!҉̶́͟”

 

With his demonic core now in pieces, Brian screamed his death throes. No demons could continue to resurrect once their core was destroyed.

But I wasn’t done yet. I swung Palesnow together with an activation of Causality Alteration, and the sundered research center then began to melt into nothingness, bringing Brian with it.

He was gone. The demon named Brian, the man named Brian, had never been born.

 

With his disappearance, the grey mud all around the world began to vanish.

The particles of light I had spread throughout Earth slowly whirled into the air. People everywhere looked up into the sky, enchanted by the sight as though children seeing snow for the first time.

 

***

 

*boing-oing!*

“Ook!”

 

As soon as I returned from Earth to the roots of the World Tree, Blobsy and Panda immediately leaped at me.

“I’m back.”

I was finally home again. A sense of relief washed over me, and I found myself with a hint of a smile. I held my two kins in my chest. The World Tree greeted me with the rustling of its leaves and the dancing rays of dappled sunlight.

 

I dragged my weary body toward a length of root and sat down. With Blobsy and Panda in my arms, I let myself be taken by the gentle embrace of sleep.

There were so many things we’d talked about.

There were so many things I wanted to say.

The world in front of my eyes slowly changed. Sitting on the World Tree’s branches were ninety-nine of my friends and family, and they welcomed me back with cheerful smiles. I beamed in gratitude for their help and spread wide my arms.

 

“Love you, everyone.”


A/N: In stores now: ⅙ figurine of the Bunny, Goddess ver., for placing in shrines. 1000 dollars, tax included.

I think it’ll sell pretty well.

This is the end of the afterstories. Sorry for my infrequent uploads. I’ll be fixing them up bit by bit later.

Now that this chapter’s up, I’m setting Apotheosis as ‘Completed’ again. Thank you for reading.

I might update again if I have a new idea.


Previous Chapter | Index | End

Afterstory 05 – Brian the Demon

“I͞’̴ve̵ ̢be̢͢͝ę̸n̶̵ ̷w̛͢ai͞҉̨t̡҉i̢̨͠n̛͏g̡̢҉ ̨͜͞f͢͜o͜r̵̢͘ ̡͜͠y̶͟óù͠.̨.͟.̴͡ l͡͡itt͠͠le͝ b̷̡ú̵͘n͟ńỳ.̧̀.̵.̶͘”

 

From the mass of grey mud corrupting the vast, snow-drowned forest came a thought. A voice that rang directly in my mind.

I knew that tone. That madness.

“…so it’s you, Brian…”

 

Brian had been one of the people in charge of the parallel world department. He had toyed with the lives of a hundred orphans, including me, and after my counterattack wounded his body and mind, he began to be obsessed with me. In the end, he even summoned the Unseelie Lord Fiorfata. Just as he was receiving its ‘blessing’ and was about to turn into a demon, I killed him.

So how did he survive? I thought I’d erased every last bit of him. Did he have a core remaining somewhere else after his demonic transformation…?

[Brian] [Race: Dark Pixie (Seedbed)] [Demon]
・A soul of utmost profanity. Blessed by a high-rank demon, it has since transformed into a demon itself.

[Magic Points:*̸̴̢̧*̡͢͞*҉̵̛͠*̷҉̨/͏̵*̸̛҉*̵̷͜͝*̶̧*̸̕͝] 
[Total Combat Power:*̵͏*̸*̷̀*̷҉͢/̡͜*̷̧*̧̧͜*͟͠*̵͟] 

He had fallen. He was utterly, irrevocably a demon now. And while I expected him to be nothing more than a low-rank demon, the… colony? The colony that was his body was much too big for my Identification to work properly.

 

“Ļi̶͟t͘̕͝t͞t̶t̸̵́t̵͞҉t́̀͟le̴͘͟ b̴̢u͟n̨͜n̸y͏̡ý̨yy͏̵y̸̢͜y̧!͢͏!̶̧͡!̨̕”

 

With Brian’s screaming thought, the sea of grey mud that stretched as far as I could see — the demon’s Blessed Corpus — roiled and rippled. From it came an innumerable amount of tentacles that shot toward me.

This thing was dangerous. Even as low-ranking as he was, Brian was still a terrible threat to a world that had no defense against demons of any kind. If I leave him alone, he would overrun and devour everything.

I couldn’t let a single speck of him remain, here or anywhere else.

I activated Causality Alteration and Consumption, taking in all the light and heat around me and combined it with my internal magic to create a white sphere of power that rested between my palms.

I slammed my hands together and crushed it.

 

“—[Absolute Nadir]—”

 

An explosion of absolute zero rushed out, snap-freezing all the tentacles it touched. Everything within several kilometers disintegrated into atoms, and a storm of diamond dust carried the frigid cold outward for kilometers more. The boreal forest was remade into a glacial wasteland.

I floated in the center, a gouging, frozen-solid crater with a radius of several kilometers and a depth reaching nearly a hundred meters. My narrowed eyes scanned the surroundings.

 

-͜͞b́͢҉ų̴̡̢͝n͏̡҉̧͝ņ̢͘͜y̵͜-̡̛͢b̸̸͟u̡͘̕͢n̡͝-̴͘͠r̵̨͘à̛̕͝b̵̛҉b̨̢i̧̛̛͜t̛́͘͟͞-̕l̵̡i̸͢͟t͢͟ţ́͏͠l̴͢e̢̕͏̨b͏̸͜͡u҉̶͡n̸̛͝͞ǹ̵y̶͜͟͏-̷̨l̵̸̵̕i̢̨̛͢t̛͠-́f͢͞u̵̢͡z̷̴̴̷z̵̕͟͢͡b̀a̶l̵̀l̢͢͟͢-̨̀͞͡l̡̨̢i͏͢͠t̷̨t̸̢͜͜t̴͞͡t͡͝-̧͘͘͠l͡҉̨̛a̸͜͡͠ǵ̶̶̀͟ơ̧m͠͏͘͘o̵̕ŗ̨͢p̷̡̨͠h̛͢-̢͡b͝҉̶͠u̸̷̶̶҉n̸̢͡n̴͝y͘b͢ù͜͢͠͞n̴̴̢͘-̸̶̡́͟f̨͢͡͞l̵̴u̶͜f̴̸̷f̨̀͠-̵̴͟͢͝l҉̴́í̴͞l͠͏̨̡’̢b͠͏̵ų̧͏n͢n̢͜͜͢-̵̨́́̕b̶̴͞u̷̢̨̡-̵͘b͢͟҉ư͠͡n̸͘ń͞ì̵͟͟͝è̶̡h̵̸́͡͞-̶͞͠b̀͞u͘͏̵̨n̴̸̡̕͝n̕͜y̶̸̛͢-̨̛̛́b̶̵͘͜u҉̸n̵͘͠͝-̀͜r̡̢͟҉a̶҉͡b͜͠b̨͞i̷̷̸͘͞t̷̕-̢́͘͟͠l̛i̶̡t͏̢̀t͜҉͠͠l̢͢͞ę̶͜͠͠b̶̨̀u̶̷̧n̢̕̕͝ǹ́͘͢y̨͘-̵̸͞l̵̨͘ì͢͝t̴̡́̀-̵͘͡f̛ú̸z̛z͢͏b͝҉a̛͜͏l҉̶̴̡l͏̸͝-̸̸̡͘l̸̨̡i̧̨̛͠͠t̢́t̨̛t͝҉͡t͏̛͟͠-̵̷̛l͝a̶̧͏͜͡g̷̶̨͟͢ò҉̴̢͞ḿ̴͡͠ǫ̷r͟͝͝p̡̀͟͜h̢̡̛͝͡-̷̧̛́b̷҉̵͘u͏̵̵͞n̕͏n̶̵҉y̧̧̛͘͝b̴͘͞u̡͠n͢͡͡-͏̸̷f̧͏̵̕l̶͞ú̷̕͟f̢̨̛͢͡f̵̨͢-̷͘͘͟͟l̛͏҉i͜͟͜l̶̢͘͢͠’̶̵̶̀͘b̵͡͠u҉̀ņ̸̵̀͢n̶̨͘͞-̛͟b̸̨́̀͢ù̕-̷b͏̕͢ú͡n͏͏ņ̢i̴͏҉̷e͏͟h̢͝͠-̴͡b̷̕͜u̸̡͢͢ń̸̡͜n͏̸̢̕y̵̧͢-̢̛́͟͢b̶̢͜͝u͏̴̷̀n̡̛͘͏-̢͢͢͡r̀͜͡͠a̛͢͜҉̢b҉̶b̷̴̵́i͘҉ţ̡͜-̧ļ͘͡ì̶̵̕ţ͟͞ţ̴̕ĺ͟e͝͞͏͡͏b̨͘͢͜u̴͠͞͠n͞͡n͢͞ỳ̛͜͜-̴̨̛͘͡l̡͏ì̵̷͟t̨̨̀-̀͘͟f͏̢̢͟u̸҉͠z͡͠z̢b̡͘a̧̛l̢̢l̸̷̕-̀͘҉l͏i̵̴̕t̀͘͜t̷̡̕͝͠t͘t͏̵̶̷̧-̴̵͡͠l̸͢͜͡͠a̧͜ǵ̡̕͝o̷͡m͏̴̧̛o̕͡͏r̀͝͠p̸̵̀͢ḩ̷̛͢-͏̴̷̕͘b̸̶̧́u̴͞n͞͏͞n̵y̧̨̡̕̕b̨͜͞u҉̢͝ņ͘-҉̷́͠f̨̀͞͝l̛̕u͘҉͏̶͟f́f̡̕͜͡-͏̵̕͢͡ļ͠͞͠i̵̵̷l͝҉̀́͟’̛҉̵̡͠b͢u̵ņ̕͜͠ǹ͘̕-̸̕͜b̶u̶̡̨͞-̸̧͘͠͡b̷́u҉̨͢n̶̛͘n̛͡͏́í̡̢e҉̸̢͡ḩ̡͏̷͘-҉́b̛̛͜͢͝u҉̸̶͝ń͟͏ń̷̡̢ỳ̡͢͜͝ý͟҉̵̵ỳ̧̢͠͠.̕͏̛͜.̀́.̡̕͞

 

Innumerable minds screamed from the tidal waves of grey that were crashing toward me from outside the devastation I’d caused. The flood began to spew out dark pixies in unending number, and the swarm of locusts darkened the skies in mere seconds.

From what I could see, it seemed the grey mud was comprised of countless microorganisms the size of amoebas, with each and every single one of them being the demon Brian by themselves.

How did their minds work, then? Were these microorganisms working together to create a sort of ‘brain’?

No, probably not. As Brian was a demon now, he should have a core somewhere. But not here, it seemed, though I had expected it to be, since this was also the place that had a dimensional gateway.

 

Similar to Fiorfata, Brian was an annoying opponent to face, albeit due to a different reason. He wasn’t powerful, nor did he have a lot of magic power. In exchange, he could possess and sacrifice the life-force of creatures on this world and use their souls as a substitute for magic power.

At this rate, all life on Earth would be consumed. How much time did I have left? How far had Brian spread?

I needed more information.

 

[Firebloom], [Rimeblossom]!”

 

With the mist from my left hand and the blizzard from my right blasting forward, I spun in place, freezing and incinerating all the dark pixies. Afterward, I shot upward into the sky at supersonic speed to look for information.

I climbed, higher and higher. One thousand became two thousand and five hundred, then four thousand. When the azure color of the sky began to give way to blue-tinted blackness, I looked downward, and I saw that below me was the Eurasia continent.

While there were a lot of radio waves bouncing around in the stratosphere, it was still difficult to directly extract information from them even with my ability. Instead, I tracked the signals to a military satellite nearby and teleported to it.

At this height, the stratosphere held barely any air. My crimson claws sank into the satellite. With Dimensional Manipulation, I accessed Earth’s cyberspace.

“…unbelievable.”

 

In countries with developed networks and centered on the Eurasia continent, the grey mud, the seedbed of dark pixies, was everywhere. At the moment, the worst of the damage was still contained in the middle of Eurasia. The spawning dark pixies were still manageable with the local military presence.

But it was only a matter of time before the defense break.

Demons needed mana to maintain their manifestation. The dark pixies were only sustaining themselves by absorbing the life-force of this world, so mundane weapons were still having an effect. But while it was enough to repel the demons, it wouldn’t be able to exterminate them.

I needed to act quickly, otherwise Earth would destroy itself in the chaos even before the demons devour them all.

 

At that moment, through the military satellites’ surveillance network and my own senses, I saw something. Something flying very, very fast.

…a missile!

Considering the trajectory, it was probably fired by the military of the country I’d arrived in. Nearly a hundred of the missiles climbed into the stratosphere, drawing an arc as they moved toward the forest undulating with grey mud. They slammed into their target and covered the area with a carpet of flame.

I’d heard that a large amount of fire could have a degree of purifying effect. Would fire from a missile work, too?

Immediately afterward, a chorus of screaming minds rushed past me. I couldn’t help but hold my head with my hand.

In the end, the fire worked. Sort of. Brian had manifested himself here by using matter from this world, so it wasn’t surprising that the mundane fire had had some effect, but not as much as appearance would suggest. It only looked damaging because the fire was burning the forest that was serving as food for the mud.

The barrage of screams I heard just now was the death throes of creatures that had been living in the forest. The negative emotions that came from them only created more miasma to excite the demons.

Burned and losing its source of food, the grey mud looked as though it had stalled. Then it absorbed the miasma and began moving again, and this time, with no food source to slow it down, it surged outward to look for more offerings.

 

I knew it, I had to find and destroy the core. But where was it? How would I find it?

[Dimensional Manipulation]

I cranked my ability to the maximum and searched for any notable magical signal nearby, but found nothing. Yet I could only continue searching. I had no other choice.

Then I noticed another flying object.

More missiles? Strange, though… they’d fired nearly a hundred, but now there was only one.

I looked at its temperature… hold on…

“…a nuclear warhead?”

 

Even nuclear weapons would only have the same result. If Brian’s core wasn’t directly attacked, no amount of heat could do anything more than temporarily stalling the mud. If anything, it would only damage the environment.

I couldn’t allow that. What I wanted to protect wasn’t the people on this planet. I wanted to protect Earth itself.

 

I released my hold on the satellite and chased after the warhead, expelling my internal magic to accelerate even more.

The ballistic missile had gone beyond the stratosphere and was beginning to drop, its speed reaching several kilometers per second. The projectile was glowing red-hot from the air friction. I caught up to it and with all my strength, I released an upward kick at the missile’s belly. My claws slammed into the warhead.

[Consumption]!!”

It exploded. Space began to burn by the white light, but all of the heat and light were soon devoured by my ability. Nothing remained that would indicate there had been a nuclear explosion.

 

I sighed, winding down from my effort.

I was a Goddess now. I wasn’t harmed by the radiation or heat, but my mind was still tired. I supposed it had been because I had eaten the malice of humans, that which had expressed itself as a man-made weapon.

Yet I couldn’t rest, not yet. My cold mist should be able to keep the mud’s spread in check while searching for Brian, and without damaging the planet.

I began moving, but this time, I noticed several objects approaching me.

 

“…fighter aircrafts?”

There were dozens of them. I could feel them making some sort of communications with each other after they saw me, and they then began to attack me.

This country had decided I was an enemy, I see…

I could understand why. From their point of view, I was probably just another demon rampaging through their country.

I wouldn’t try to convince their leaders. Discussions with politicians would just turn into them trying to find ways for their side to benefit anyway, and I didn’t plan on wasting hours for that.

So I’d just say one thing.

“…sorry.”

 

I threw a random weapon I had in my subspace inventory and downed one of the fighters. With the Divine Language, I broadcasted my will.

“Get out of my way if you don’t want to die!”


Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter

Afterstory 04 – Toward Earth

“World Tree!”

I called for the heart of the world, asking Saplings all over the world to inform me of anything useful… and useful only.

The World Tree managed the software side of the world while I dealt with the hardware. I was loathe to interrupt its work, but if dark pixies were returning, then there were more important things to prioritize.

The moment I called, the World Tree sent me multiple carefully curated leads. It sure worked fast… actually, was it just me or did the World Tree sound happy when it responded to my request?

 

According to what it showed me, dark pixies were appearing in several locations around the world and attacking both people and animals. Looking at the places, I realized they were all on the path that I had once taken when playing tag with Fiorfata back then.

Were the dark pixies being spawned from the magic, or maybe the miasma that still remained from my fight with the Unseelie Lord?

…no, I didn’t think so. It was true that quite a lot of the dark pixies were at locations where our fight had been the fiercest, but it that case, the Central Continent should have been the worst victim of the current dark pixies assault by dint of being the location of my final confrontation with Fiorfata. It wasn’t.

The worst affected was instead the southern hemisphere. To be precise, it was the region to the south of where Quarancinq, the city where Fiorfata had manifested, used to be. I knew Fiorfata had done a number on the place, so it wasn’t surprising that dark pixies were now being attracted there… but I still felt like I was missing something.

 

“…let’s just do what I can first.”

Most other locations had monsters, demihumans… and that Hero to deal with the dark pixies, so I could leave them alone. Instead, I headed for the locations that had been hit the hardest first.

“First off, the sea.”

 

My teleportation was still limited at the moment. If my destination wasn’t connected to the Sapling network, or if it wasn’t in my field of view, then I couldn’t be accurate. I focused my mind on where I wanted to go and a phantom appeared in front of me, taking the shape of the member of my family that had been reborn as the Sapling closest to my destination.

I took their outstretched hand, and the scenery in front of my eyes shifted.

—good luck—

“Thanks.”

 

I departed from the easternmost edge of the Central Continent, crossing the ocean at several times the speed of sound. My flight sent me toward a group of sea dragons fighting a massive horde of dark pixies that had spawned right in the middle of the ocean.

“Get out of the way if you don’t want to die!” I shouted.

The sea dragons hurriedly dove toward the ocean floor. A white ball of pure magic formed between my hands, and I fired it at the mass of tens of thousands of dark pixies.

 

“—[Nadir]—”

 

In an instant, all the ocean that I could see snapped into ice. The horde of dark pixies all froze and crumbled into diamond dust.

“This is…”

Now that I was here, I finally understood. There were mana and miasma here, but more importantly, I also discovered that space here was warped.

Had the dark pixies come from this spatial distortion? But if so, then where from?

 

“World Tree! Tell me of all the spatial distortions on this planet!”

 

The reply I got was a list of locations. Where was this? The ocean? This was… an archipelago without a Sapling?

Nowhere else was space as distorted as in that whole region. The area was far away from the Sapling network, and there were a lot of dark pixies.

I couldn’t teleport directly there. There wasn’t any Sapling nearby, and if the spatial warp was truly the cause of the dark pixies, then it wouldn’t be the best idea to expose the Sapling network to tampering by using it.

 

[Dimensional Manipulation]!”

After I fixed up the space here with my ability, I departed, flying by my own power to the archipelago. Not very far away, luckily. Only about a fourth of the way across the planet.

I flew straight east, switching between flying and short-range teleportation to reach a continent. I aimed my left hand at the dark pixies that were fighting with the monsters there.

 

“—[Firebloom]—”

 

The merciful mist descended to heal the monsters, while at the same time turning the dark pixies and the miasma into purifying petals of flame.

I repaired space with Dimensional Manipulation and headed further west. Just about when I exited the continent and re-entered the sea, I caught sight of the archipelago I was looking for.

I found myself frowning right after.

“Fishpeople…”

 

I understood now.

While the World Tree’s blessing reached even the ocean floor, the Tree and the Saplings themselves were on land. These fishpeople had never directly experienced the World Tree’s blessing, and so they thought it insignificant. They wanted more. They wanted to gain another blessing even from outside this world.

Their money-making through the slave trade, their attempt to prevent the other races from working together, it was all because they wanted this to succeed.

 

In front of me was a settlement of fishpeople large enough to have housed several tens of thousands. Now, all of it was swallowed by a muddy grey mass.

Some of the inhabitants were still alive. Most of them, however, had already had the grey infesting them throughout their whole bodies. One after another, their strength failed them and they sank into the mud, turning into nurseries to give birth to more dark pixies.

These fishpeople had used the money they’d gained to buy up everything that the Earth people had left behind. They had torn open space and time in order to summon the Blessed Corpus of the Unseelie Lord, Fiorfata.

 

…save me…

…I can’t…

…it hurts…

…God, save me!

 

Voices of agony, voices of things about to cross the threshold of life and unlife, prayed to God for salvation.

I understood their desperation. However…

 

“Don’t pray to God only when it suits you.”

 

The air trembled as I Spoke words laden with divine authority. The wailing stopped as though frightened, and the ever-spawning swarm of dark pixies crumbled into dust and disintegrated.

No good and kind god is here on this world, not anymore. This is the only kind of mercy I can grant you. The only kind I know.

 

“—[Rimeblossom]—”

 

The Demon’s Oblivion. The blizzard from my right hand shot forward to lay waste to the malevolent energy and souls, transforming them into fluttering petals of ice. The grey-colored Blessed Corpus disintegrated, taking the whole settlement of fishpeople with it.

The threat was gone. I just needed to fix up the spatial topography here, and things should come to a close by themselves.

…the Earth-made equipment had been destroyed, yet the dimensional distortion here still remained. Where had the Blessed Corpus that had passed through that distortion come from?

“…Earth, is it.”

There were greedy people making another mistake again, it seemed…

I sighed in resignation. I raised my hand toward the dimensional distortion that still connected the two worlds, but just before I could embark on another dimensional crossing, my hand was knocked away with a sparking jolt.

 

“…World Tree?”

It felt like… the World Tree stopping me from going to Earth?

I would ask why… but I already knew. The World Tree was kind. I had suffered during my time on Earth, and so it was worrying for me, fearing I would once again be hurt if I went there again.

 

“…it’s fine. I got a lot stronger now. I had nothing but bad memories of Earth, but it’s still one of my homes. Please, World Tree… let me protect my two homes.”

I implored. Then, I felt my restraints melt away.

 

“Thank you… I promise I’ll be back. You’re here, after all. You and everyone.”

 

I activated Dimensional Manipulation on the distortion, and I made the transition toward Earth.

This was the first time I came to Earth by myself without using the MMO game’s equipment. I didn’t know where on Earth I would arrive at. I only knew it would be where the cause of all this lay.

I appeared in the sky. The chilly wind of a snow storm blasted at me.

 

“…what… is that?”

 

I saw a vast forest coated in white snow. It was half-submerged in squirming, writhing Blessed Corpus, the grey mud stretching out as far as I could see.

 

“I͞’̴ve̵ ̢be̢͢͝ę̸n̶̵ ̷w̛͢ai͞҉̨t̡҉i̢̨͠n̛͏g̡̢҉ ̨͜͞f͢͜o͜r̵̢͘ ̡͜͠y̶͟óù͠.̨.͟.̴͡ l͡͡itt͠͠le͝ b̷̡ú̵͘n͟ńỳ.̧̀.̵.̶͘”


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