TLNote: I’m sure some of us are waiting for the chicken to make another appearance, but sorry no chicken on this chapter.
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“I wonder why we…… are in the middle of the woods. They serve good food at the campsites, but……”
“I don’t know! If you have a problem with that, bring it to Samtroll!”
“That Zweit guy said Samtroll was naive, and he was …… right. The food is just emergency rations. Are you sure they’re coming? The assassins……”
The lineageist youths had deviated from the road on their way to Rahmuff Forest to establish a base on the other side of the Academy’s encampment.
They were in charge of guiding the [Hydra] assassins, but their actions were hasty and unprepared, and they had not brought food or the necessary equipment for their camp.
Fortunately, they had a tent and some emergency rations, but they were not going to last long. It would be too foolish to feel any pity for their carelessness.
However, it was Samtroll who decided on the rendezvous point, and they were just following him, but for some reason, they didn’t think too much about why they were following Samtroll’s words.
Bremite’s magic had given them a compulsion to not question it. However, this kind of spell must be applied regularly or the effect will fade and eventually be broken.
Whether it was a coincidence or not, their compulsion seemed unlikely to wear off for a while.
“They’re here…… those guys, what the hell!?”
They saw that a girl in a pink eastern costume, a boy in a knight’s armor, and a flamboyant woman in a black cloak and evening dress of the same color, wearing ornaments that showed her inclination for money, were coming towards them together.
They were completely dressed in a colorful manner. It wasn’t what an assassin would wear.
“Dammit, Samtroll…… Is it going to be fine with them?”
“Don’t know……. But they look capable at least.”
The woman in the black dress approaches him with a friendly smile on her face.
“Sorry～ for keeping you waiting. To be honest, I got lost. Why did you choose this grassy place as a meeting point, when you can’t even take care of yourself?”
“Shut up! You guys just do the job you’re told to do. But what’s…… up with those two, anyway?”
“They’re my bodyguards. Reinhardt and Nanashi-chan, please take care of them.”
“Are you shitting me? You three are so flashy that you can’t help but stand out!”
“But they’re strong, okay? Strong enough to kill all of you. Fufufu.”
They immediately paled when they heard that despite their appearance, they were all skilled.
Although the three of them are indeed picturesque, all of their equipment is top-notch, so much that even an impoverished underworld faction like the Lineageists would not be able to afford it. In addition, they also wear several of what appear to be magical tools, and if they sell two or three of them, they will be able to live off them for a few years.
“Hey, Sharanra-Neesan ……. They’re all around my age, and here they are, asking me to do some poorly-thought, tedious work for them? It’s annoying. Well, I’m free now, so that’s fine.”
“Right? Foolish children who can only say [Kill] without thinking of any plan. Pitiful idiots who don’t understand that if they get rid of the Duke’s son, they will lose their own heads. Well, this is just another job.”
“……Annoying. I’ll still do it as long as I can have food……”
“You take killing so easily……. Well, if it’s worth the money, there’s no choice but to do it. So? What’s the status of our target? How many guards does he have?”
Sharanra asks Samtroll about the target, Zweit’s security detail.
However, Samtroll suddenly have a complicated look on his face and gulp, as if something was stuck in the back of his throat.
“What’s going on? I’m asking you how many guards there are? Don’t tell me you haven’t looked into it?”
“There’s a strange…… thing about that. There are only two escorts employed by the Academy…… but there are some nasty-looking creatures around them. They’re frighteningly strong.”
“A nasty creature?”
“Ah…… it’s hard to believe, but it’s Wild Cuckoos……”
Wild Cuckoos are relatively weak monsters. Even if they become stronger, it is only when they evolve until their last form, but by no means do these monsters become particularly troublesome.
However, Samtroll and the others looked quite serious, and they all held their heads down.
“You people…… can’t even beat those chickens, can you? You’re pathetic～”
“Shut up! If they were just normal Wild Cuckoos, I could easily kill them!! But those…… things are crazy!!”
“They slaughtered half of the bandits that we hired～……”
“I’m pretty sure those are sub-species or mutations!! Their strength is on a whole different level……”
“They’re beasts……. Those things are definitely not cuckoos!!”
To Reinhardt’s words, the lineageist students immediately started to deny it. It makes no sense at all.
Contrary to these frightened lineageist students, the pink shinobi girl’s eyes were sparkling.
“You think I’m lying, I’ll show you with this magic tool.”
Samtroll took out his crystal ball and projected the image contained in it into the air.
It’s called the [Orb of Time Preservation] and it’s a magical tool that looks like a digital camera. Of course, it’s a relic from ancient eras.
Seeing the image, both Sharanra and Reinhardt were speechless.
What was shown on the screen were three chickens ruthlessly destroying the bandits. Their movements were so fast that it was impossible to keep track of them, and the moment they took their eyes off the screen, countless bandits were flying through the air, slaughtered, and killed in a single blow.
“What is this…… a joke? No matter how you look at it, that’s not the strength of cuckoos……”
“That’s troublesome…… Concealment, long-range, striking, swordplay, it’s all there, and the bandits aren’t even a match for them…… I wonder how high their level is……”
Furthermore, they are versatile and their movements are difficult to grasp, and they are also small and can fly. There is no telling where they might attack you from.
“Their strength is on par with ours, or so I’d like to think. If those things had a tamer, I don’t know how strong they would be……”
“No, I’m pretty sure there’s a tamer around. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be dealing with such fierce beasts……”
“…… Cuckoo-chan. So ♡ cool.”
The sight of sixty bandits being annihilated in less than five minutes was breathtaking. They were invincible chickens.
Truthfully, it was too troublesome to deal with.
“These guys are crazy…… No matter how you look at it.”
“At this rate, we’ll have no choice but to try and isolate the target. Fortunately, we have that kind of magical equipment, and we’ll have to draw them away from him somehow.”
“But what if these chickens show up? It’s gonna be a problem, right?”
“The target itself is not very strong, no? Probably as strong as those boys over here. A single blow should be enough to finish them off.”
“I see…… The people in this world are so weak for some reason. If we could buy ourselves enough time…… it would be a piece of cake.”
The plan was somewhat solid, but there were too many uncertainties.
The strength of the Cuckoos is unknown. Furthermore, if their tamer is around, there is no telling how strong he or she will be. It would be strange if they weren’t at least as strong as the Cuckoos, but the lack of information is worrisome.
“Also, if possible, put the others in trouble. And then we’ll rescue them.”
“I see. So you want to keep your reputation intact. But will it work that way?”
“All you have to do is do what we ask. That’s the deal!”
“You’re so bossy~. Why don’t you just do it yourself instead of asking others to handle it for you?”
“You’re fucking annoying! Just do what I tell you to do!!”
“Don’t think you can just yell at us and we’ll listen to you nicely, okay? We have no obligation to the boy, right? Killing him here wouldn’t be a problem……”
Samtroll has no choice. If he doesn’t increase his own standing here, he won’t be able to take over the Weissler faction.
It was characteristic of him to have a desire for honor at this point, but he didn’t think it would lead to anything serious.
He is ignorant. He didn’t know that the owner of these cuckoos was a man with insane strength. And there was no way he could have known that he was the mentor of Zweit and the others.
Lack of information can sometimes lead to failure. In a way, Sharanra and the others have a better understanding of the information than him.
Whatever it was, things were moving quietly.
◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇
“U~u ~~~ n, It’s a beautiful morning. I rested really well. But my back hurts……”
“Shishou…… have you been asleep until now since you came back yesterday?”
“I was up all night, you know. Your juniors won’t be able to move until tomorrow, so I’ll be free…… escorting them today.”
“Don’t tell me, did you do something reckless in order to be my escort?”
“No, there was a cocky little boy who was talking nonsense. I am just teaching him how to live with himself, right?”
“That’s exactly what I thought. I knew you were back to [That Time]……”
“Lately….. when I go into the forest, for some reason my mind tends to go toward dangerous directions……”
The next day after Zeros’ return, the young mages of the Academy were too tired to move and were forced to rest for the rest of the day.
The only one with free time is the ossan, and since he has spare time on his hands, he plans to take a walk in the forest instead.
He was planning to explore the Rahmuff forest while also maintaining a distance from Zweit.
“Shishou, do you think they’ll ambush soon?”
“Their only chances are these two days: today and tomorrow, you know? If your party enters the forest today, tomorrow you’ll have to rest, so it’s clear that they’ll be attacking on either date.”
“Do you think they could do this at the Academy instead of the field training exercise? Then, when we won’t be able to move tomorrow……”
“That’s going to be difficult. The Academy itself has an environment that protects its students by using the ‘Ancient Warding Magic’. If you want to break into the academy, you’ll need to go through a lot of procedures, and most importantly, it’ll be easy for people to spot you.”
“But there’s always the possibility that they might brave the risks, why do you think they’ll attack here?”
“The people working in the shadows are afraid of having their identities exposed, so they won’t take such a risk. If they do, they must be very fanatical, don’t you think? They’ll prioritize their own safety first, so they won’t try it tomorrow.”
The documents detailing the academy were opened up somehow to see if the assassination was possible inside the academy, but the dormitory had magical devices embedded in the walls and other parts of the building that could be considered alarms against intruders, and any intruder using magic would be automatically eliminated.
If they could get inside the building, they could assassinate him, but it would be difficult to get there. An outsider would be conspicuous, and more importantly, there is no way that the nobles of Solisthea do not have a bodyguard.
Risk-wise, assassinations in this forest have a higher success rate.
“But it’s tiring to be on guard against who-knows-what kind of moves they’ll make. I need a break……”
“Well, the magic tool I made will buy you some time, but it won’t be able to protect you completely. If you encounter any of them, please send out a distress signal immediately.”
“I get it. I don’t want to be reckless either, but I might have to fight to protect myself……”
“Your priority is to survive, and if you can’t escape, you’d better focus on buying yourself some time. I’ll take care of the rest. I’m not going to let them leave alive, though……”
The ossan used to be ruthless against PK professions.
Against those who would use despicable means to defeat others and take their equipment, he would carry out even more inhumane retaliation.
And the nasty magic tools that were used then are still left in his inventory.
“I wonder if I’ll be able to use that one……. I’d love to see how it works…… U ~ n”
“Shishou? I hope you’re not thinking of using one of those nasty magic tools, are you?”
“No~, I’ll only use it after I’ve captured my opponent… ♪ It’s a magical tool that increases physical abilities significantly, you know? As you continue to struggle, the enchanted spells will eventually activate and self-destruct. In addition, it attracts monsters and cannot be removed.”
“Isn’t that …… a cursed device that is rarely found? I’m not sure why you’re enjoying this.”
“If you’re going to experiment on them, it’s better to be a villain so your conscience won’t be hurt…… Fufufu”
“You’re an extreme S*…… Too bad for them……”
(*ドS = Doesu, extreme sadist; very sadistic)
Ossan, already in full-on Annihilation Mode.
Although without having seen the opponent yet, it was a game of catch or lose, there was no way they could take on Zeros, who was over level 1000.
The difference in their physical abilities is so great that any normal opponent would be easily defeated. The problem is that the ossan himself does not fully grasp his own strength, and even a light attack can easily kill someone instantly.
If he accidentally killed them, he wouldn’t be able to do the [Punishment Time]. This was a serious problem.
“It’s possible that some of them will kill you instantly, depending on the level of damage it cause…… I subdued them by using restraint from the start, tying them up and then healing them, and forcing them to equip various prototypes……. Fufufu. I miss those days.”
“Shishou…… may not have said it out loud, but he does look wicked, doesn’t he?”
“What? Really? That’s not good~…… Poker Face, Poker Face……”
He was an ossan who had no mercy for evildoers, but he didn’t realize that he was even eviler than they were.
The only thing on his mind now is how to neutralize and “Punish” them. The ossan seems to be enjoying himself so much that Zweit is shocked.
“Shishou…… Aren’t you more eager to find the assassins than the cuckoos?”
“That’s not true.” he thought, but he felt slightly awkward.
He realized for a moment that he could not deny the fact that there was a part of him that was secretly waiting for it.
He was returning to being the [Annihilator] from [That Time].
◇ ◇ ◇ ◇
Zweit and his party once again stepped into the forest.
As part of the academy’s curriculum, it is necessary to raise the level of the students in order to foster talented people. As a matter of course, this leads to the assessment of the teachers, so the students who have improved in level and have recovered from the fatigue to some extent are forced to go to the forest again.
After all, only the top and worst grade students participate in this event, while the intermediate grades are free to participate of their own free will.
The low-grade students were desperate to earn credits, and the top students needed to be trained as future cadets for the mage corps. Normally, it would be more effective to have excellent teachers give lectures and divide the students into classes with their own curriculum, but most of the teachers were middle-class mages, and if they were not good enough, sometimes the top students were better than them.
The faction’s leaders and the nobles’ requests put them between two opposing sides, and they didn’t know what to do, so they decided to take the safe way out. And then they put their faith in baseless confidence, saying, “If we hire mercenaries to escort the students, they’ll be fine”, you can see how they threw the whole thing to the Mercenary Guild without any consideration for the safety of the students.
However, the teachers cannot be blamed. They are constantly forced by their superiors to do unreasonable things, and not a few of them get gastric problems from the stress.
The lecturers were worried that if they were scrutinized, they would not be able to lead even a normal life, so they had no choice but to continue to work with each other to reach a compromise regardless of faction.
Many things can be said to be fortunate, but so far the academy has been able to keep up appearances without any problems, and the academy has indeed been able to foster mages with at least a fair amount of ability.
Unfortunately, the students of the academy are unaware of such a situation and are occupied with attending lectures and events as a matter of course. In other words, there is no change in the situation, but since the academy has been managed in such a way without any problems, it is understandable that they would think “just leave it to the mercenary guild this time as well”.
Educational institutions are always under pressure from the outside to educate their children, and this is no different even though the world has changed. However, there was no guarantee that this time would end well either.
“Huh~ …… Today is the day. It’s going to be a tough day.”
“Zweit…… are you worried about something? I don’t know if I can help you, but I’d be happy to talk to you about it.”
“Yeah …… I’ve been wondering how that idiot Samtroll is going to act. I know he’s working behind the scenes with the Lineagist faction, but you never know what he might do.”
“The Lineageists~. They’ve got a strong sense of elitism for no good reason. They think that they can just use their inherited unique magic, even though it’s not very effective.”
“Some of them are useful, but most of them belong to organizations under the king’s direct control. They’re idiots who think their achievements are their own, and their ambitions are just too dangerous to ignore.”
“How can they so brazenly say that someone else’s achievements are theirs? Achievements are obviously personal, right?”
“Because they’ll end up showing how pathetic they actually are. And what use is defective magic anyway?”
Among the mages who inherit bloodline magic, some of them have powerful magic.
They are assigned to special operations units and intelligence agencies under the king’s direct control. They are also well treated, but some cling to the achievements of these successful men to expand their factions.
It was troubling to those successful people, and they kept their distance from those who were doing stupid things, but they were bothered by the fact that their names were being used without their permission.
The absurd idea that those powerful mages’ accomplishments are their own is widespread, and frequently leads them to plead, “Please, really, do something! They’re abusing my name, you know? I’m not sure why, but I received a bill from an unfamiliar tavern. Numerous times……” Several of them can be interpreted as complaints or requests.
They were thick-skinned and brazen despite their incompetence.
“In some sense, that’s the kind of faction that suits Samtroll perfectly……. The Lineageist faction is not really a proper faction though……”
“I guess. I think bloodline magic depends on how you use it, but people hate them because they don’t look for ways to use it and instead try to parasitize on others. The bloodline mages who’ve worked hard to become successful would be in a lot of trouble.”
“They’re calling successful people traitors. And they hate you for it, don’t they? They’re like a bunch of flies.”
“That’s right. Even if you get rid of them, they keep flying back in…… It must be frustrating for those who are more serious.”
The Lineageist faction is, so to speak, a reserve army of terrorists.
Believing that they are the true lineage of mages, they look at others from a slanted perspective and belittle them. Even though they have no ability, their pompous attitude is obnoxious, and they are even willing to humiliate others in order to get their points across.
In addition, they have no hesitation in killing anyone who opposes them, and their connections to the underworld make them a very troublesome group. Furthermore, they also have connections with lineageists outside the country, which makes them not just a small faction, but a large organization behind the scenes.
“They say that they will eventually “Restore the glory of the old times”, but according to the ancient documents, they are the descendants of criminals who were born as a result of failed magic experiments.”
“Do you believe that? They claim to be descended from a prestigious lineage of an ancient magical civilization.”
“Yeah, I heard that in the ancient times, it was a democratic country and there was no royalty or nobility.”
“That’s why they’re not only ignorant but also delusional. It’s still a nuisance, though. I can see why Samtroll would go that way……”
“I can’t understand how they can get such good grades. Rumor has it that they’ve been working behind the scenes to forge them, but there’s no proof.”
The ancient magical civilization’s government was known to be a democracy from ancient documents. However, the lineageist faction did not acknowledge it and thought that it was fabricated by the current royalty and nobility.
Unfortunately, it seems that one of the four gods gave an oracle to the bloodline magic users, which caused the bloodline mages to increase, which played a role in this confusion. After that, a rebellion of bloodline mages occurred once every hundred years, and each time the tragic history was repeated.
“Hey, Zweit…… it doesn’t matter, but you need to be vigilant about your surroundings.”
“Ah, my bad. I got too caught up in the conversation.”
“I don’t think we can do anything about that idiot Samtroll, but if you let it distract you too much, you’ll end up with more than just an injury.”
Warned by his friend, Zweit looks at his surroundings.
There are no monsters in sight at the moment, but this is a place where wild creatures are fighting for survival. The slightest carelessness could result in a fatal mistake.
Sometimes wild monsters hide, sometimes they use their scent to keep their distance. Even now, they may be watching their prey and waiting for an opportunity to attack.
“Hmm? You smell something……? It smells sweet……”
“What are you talking about? Dio. I don’t smell anything……”
“No, there’s a faint sweet smell in the wind…… What is this?”
“Don’t worry about the smell. We’re here for the monsters, remember?”
Dio noticed the smell in the wind, and his friends denied it. Zweit also tried to smell it in the wind, and indeed, there was a slight sweet scent coming from it.
He didn’t feel the need to be wary of the smell, but something stuck in the corner of his mind. There are several types of sweet smells to be wary of in the forest, but they are generally those that either charm or attract monsters.
“As I recall…… Shishou said something about this before. Many of the sweet scents are used to attract and charm the prey……? The Man-Eater’s kind have similar abilities…… Man-Eaters!?”
That’s when Zweit remembered. The [Evil Perfume], a magic potion that attracts monsters, is made from the petals of the man-eater flower.
“Not good! You guys, let’s get as far away from here as possible!”
“A ~ n? What are you talking about, Zweit……”
“It’s just a sweet smell, okay? Why are you so impatient?”
“Idiot! I think it might be evil perfume. The stuff that attracts monsters!”
The evil perfume is known for its sweet scent, and at the same time, it can agitate monsters. Normally, monsters react to the pheromones specific to their species, but the monster called the [Lilith Man-eater] has a powerful inducing effect on all monsters. The evil perfume made from its petals was a powerful magic potion that, when sprinkled, attracted almost all monsters except for a few.
Of course, due to its dangerous nature, it requires permission to be used, and if you spread it around without permission, it will be enough to cause you to lose your head. It was a dangerous potion that was strictly prohibited in every country.
“Are you crazy? Damn Samtroll, you even use this stuff!”
“We’ll talk about this later! Let’s get the hell out of here!”
“Shit! Damn that bastard! If I find him at the Academy….. I’ll beat the shit out of him!”
Zweit and the others all turned at once and started running towards the campsite.
It was obvious that if they remained there, they would be surrounded by swarms of monsters, and no matter how much their level had improved, their lives would still be at stake. The priority was to escape to a safer place.
But Zweit was the only one who didn’t run away. No, he could not escape.
He suddenly stiffened and toppled forward.
When he turned around to see what was wrong, he was blocked by a wall that looked like it was covered with some kind of whitish layer of mist.
“Is this a…… barrier? No, I don’t think so…… a ward!”
“Dio! You gotta get out of here!!”
“Zweit!? But what about you!!”
“I can handle this! The fact that it’s warded means it’s safe.”
“B, but…… no matter how you look at it.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this. But more importantly, take a look around! There’s a whole pack of monsters coming our way.”
“Kuh…… I promise I’ll be back for you! Until then, stay safe!”
In desperation, Dio turned his back on Zweit and started running.
After confirming that Dio was far away, Zweit released the magic from the ring that Zeros had given him. This would tell Zeros where he was.
“Anyway…… What the……!?”
His body suddenly felt heavy and he fell down, but when he thought about it, he was hit by something from behind. Moreover, that heaviness still remains.
As Zweit looked behind him as if to confirm and saw something thin and translucent emerging from his back when he wasn’t carrying anything. Gradually, the color became clearer and clearer, and eventually, a girl in an Eastern-style dress appeared.
In short, it was like he was carrying a girl on his back.
“…… Who the hell are you?”
“………… ogya ……”
“…… Ninpo, the crying old man ………… no good?”
(*Enkiros: 子泣き爺 konaki jiji. A Japanese yokai with the shape of an old man that looks and cries like a baby)
“No. What do you mean, [no good?] …… It doesn’t make sense.”
Zweit and the girl look at each other silently. A strange atmosphere hangs in the air.
He has forgotten that, at this time, the amulet created by Zeros automatically deploys a barrier against those it recognizes as enemies or those with killing intent, but it brings out the flaw that it is completely ineffective against those without any killing intent.
But more than that, Zweit wanted to do something about this strange atmosphere.
It was a strange atmosphere, unlike anything he had experienced before.
◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇
Back in time a bit.
Zeros, who was walking behind Zweit and his party until halfway through, was……
“I’m lost. …… I was just gathering a few medicinal herbs, and I have no idea where I am.”
When he looks around, there are rocky areas, and he can’t even tell where he is. He thought about using [Magic Spell], but the trees in the forest were so thick that it would be difficult to search from above.
“So, what should I do? Well, if it comes down to it, there is a way…… Hmm?”
When he looked at the rocks, he saw something glowing.
It seemed to be some kind of ore, and there was no way to tell without digging it out. The ossan quickly took out his pickaxe and swung it down at the rock.
The sound of rocks smashing echoed through the area.
“This is …… Manadite Ore. You can use it to make magic tools…… This here is [Flare Sapphire]. If you process it into a Magic Gem, you can increase the power of Fire Magic.”
Then, the ossan began mining with his pickaxe joyfully. His production job’s blood was burning.
Once it started, there was no stopping it. The pickaxe swinging gradually became faster and sharper, drilling holes into the rocky ground as if it were using a rock drill.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is crushing. When the crushed ore was collected outside by magic and appraised, most of it was iron ore, but in rare cases, rare minerals such as gemstones and mana crystal stones could be found.
“If you compress the mana crystals in ……[Spirit Water], you can make [Artificial Spirit Crystals]. If possible, I’d prefer natural ones, but maybe I’ll use them for ……[Ether Cultivation Fluid]? Hmm, troublesome……”
[Artificial Spirit Crystals] can be made by sealing attribute magic power into mana crystals, but the effect is not as good compared to natural ones. [Ether Cultivation Fluid] is used for nurturing homunculi, and can be made by dissolving mana crystals and mixing them with various magic potions.
However, because magic needs to be diffused, it needs a device that can be constantly replenished, which the ossan had already created.
“In order to extract the Spirit Elements from Kaede’s hair, it would be more effective to use something natural, and although I’ve never done it before, it should be possible to do the same thing from the evil stone. I think I will need at least two large spirit crystals……”
In the past, mining produced a lot of mineral ores, but this place seems to produce a lot of medium ores that are used in alchemy. Normally, he should be obliged to report this to the mercenary guild, but the ossan has no interest in mercenary work in the first place.
“The more materials I have, the better. Maybe I’ll be able to find some natural spirit crystals. Hahahahaha!”
He swings his pickaxe in high spirits and resumes his mining work.
This work continued until a distress signal came from Zweit. And so, the ossan’s [Pestering Plan] proceeded gradually.
The bad habits from the [Sword and Sorceress] days may have come out, but he was absorbed in his mining work nonetheless.