TL/N: Slightly delayed due to my finals… Although this chapter have plenty of fan-service to keep us all going~
On a certain day, a jovial mood enveloped the female locker room of the magic academy.
“Hehehe… The big day is finally here…”
With her academy uniform removed, Wendy stood in her undergarments as she brought out an elegant gown from a wooden chest. She pressed the gown against her bosom, covering her pearly skin and slim figure.
“Theresa, how is it? Considering the nature of the prom today, I had a quality gown specifically prepared for me.”
It was a beautifully tailored red gown, one that would easily be seen as pretentious for anyone of a lesser air. However, for the aristocratic Wendy, the gown was a perfect match.
“Wow, what impeccable workmanship! As expected of Wendy… a lady of the ducal house of Nablesse is certainly of a different breed.”
Theresa unclipped her skirt and let it smoothly slide off her feet before removing her blouse, revealing her voluptuous figure underneath. Liberated from the constraints of the fabrics, her two impressive mounds bounced freely in the air like pudding.
“By the way, here’s my evening gown… Thoughts?”
Theresa lifted up a violet gown that exuded an air of maturity.
“…I-it’s quite impressive.”
“Thanks! Now, I now feel a bit more confident with my selection, especially with your endorsement…”
“N-no… I wasn’t talking about your gown… Of course, your gown is also impressive, but…”
Wendy glared intensively at a certain part of Theresa’s body, to which Theresa cocked her head in confusion.
“…Huh? Lynn, your gown…”
Theresa looked over to Lynn, who was secretly changing into her gown in the corner of the locker room.
“Uwaa!! D-don’t look…”
Sensing Theresa’s gaze, Lynn reflexively hid away the green gown in her hand. Yet, even in her haste, Lynn was still in her undergarments. Both her sleek back and her cute shapely buttocks, barely covered by her panties, were visible to all.
“M-my gown… is too old… b-but, this is the only one I have… I didn’t want a gown as terrible as this to be seen by Wendy and Theresa…”
“Hehehe… Don’t worry about it.”
“Not to mention, your gown gives off quite the vintage feel. If I have to guess, it was carefully preserved and passed down through your mother’s, grandmother’s, even your great grandmother’s generation… right?”
“Huh? Y-you can even see that…? Incredible!”
“Keep your head up, Lynn. You should be proud of your wonderful heirloom. If anyone cannot see value in your dress, then they may as well be blind.”
“T-thank you… Wendy… Theresa…”
Lynn let out a heartfelt laugh.
“Speaking of which… Rumia, where has Sistine gone?”
“Ah… She is currently helping Re=L change.”
Rumia gestured with her gaze further in the locker room as she unfastened her lace necktie. With her skirt removed and neatly placed by her feet, her alluring thighs and white undergarments were revealed.
“Hey, Sistine! Let’s see which one of us have the better gown…”
Wendy turned to Sistine with her usual air of competitiveness, only to be silenced when she noticed Re=L.
Wendy, as well as Lynn and Theresa who followed her gaze, were stunned by the sight before them.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Seriously, everyone is being too caught up in the festive spirit. Why can’t anyone understand my feelings…?” Glenn grumbled as he gazed out through the southern windows, at the guests walking down the corridor of the western atrium.
He was currently lazying around in his tuxedo.
It was the day of the prom. While the prom itself was scheduled to start in the evening, the academy was awash with enthusiasm after the classes were done.
Carriages had started to line up at the academy entrance not so long ago, bringing students of other magic academies, officials within the imperial government, and aristocrats to the prom.
Members of the Student Council were tasked with welcoming and guiding the visitors, bringing them to lobby of the multipurpose hall.
The enemy had already infiltrated the academy and had disabled the magic security system.
With such a thought, Glenn could not help but feel anxious. While Glenn believed in Eve’s conclusion that ‘the enemy will certainly aim for assassination, and bystanders would not be caught up’, Glenn had experienced firsthand the fanaticism of the researchers and could not be overly optimistic.
Everything would’ve been better if Celica were still around…
Incidentally, Celica had sustained crippling injuries to her ‘aether body’ in the previous ruins expedition and was forced to rest at home. If Celica were to use any magic under her current circumstances, even her life would be held in jeopardy.
Tsk… I can’t ask for the impossible… Either way, I should get myself ready…
At that moment, Rumia was changing in the female locker room, closely accompanied by Re=L. From afar, Eve had continued her covert protection of Rumia since the previous day. Compared to himself, Glenn knew that Re=L and Eve were better suited for the task, but he still could not easily shake off his worry.
Under his growing anxiety, Glenn planned to make a trip to the female locker room.
“Teach, did you wait for long?”
However, he was interrupted by a young lass who had appeared before him.
“Sorry… It took me quite a while to change…”
For a moment, Glenn was unable to see the lass before him as Rumia.
Rumia was dressed in a moderately elegant pink gown, which could only be described as a perfect match for her figure. While the dress itself was not anything worth mentioning, her elaborate hairstyle, light makeup, and modest jewelry reflected her excellent tastes and altogether struck a perfect balance. Her preparation undoubtedly amplified her beauty and charisma, giving off an air of maturity that few could imagine for the usually innocent Rumia.
The current Rumia would not put any dance to shame. Rather, her debut at the prom would certainly draw many invitations from others.
“Hehehe… Seriously, your collar and tie are crooked… Here…”
Rumia chuckled as she drew close to Glenn and used her adept hands to fix his collar.
During all this time, Glenn’s gaze remained fixated on Rumia, while the gentle aroma of her hair tickled his nose.
The usually foul-mouthed Glenn appeared especially obedient.
“…It’s now good. Huh? Teach? What’s wrong? Umm… Is there something on my face?”
Rumia curiously cocked her head at Glenn, who continued to stand silently in a daze.
“…No, it’s nothing. I was just surprised by your appearance,” Glenn replied with his actual thoughts, as he felt a hastily made excuse would certainly fall apart.
“Ahaha… Teach is such a flatterer… Still, I am very happy. Thank you.”
Rumia felt her face flushed red at the compliment and happily laughed.
“Sisti and Re=L had already gone ahead to the event hall. Shall we follow?”
Huh? That Re=L… What was she thinking about leaving Rumia alone?
Glenn felt the onset of a headache.
As Rumia’s personal security was required to make timely adjustments to any sudden emergencies, Glenn was given full authority for his part. In a way, Eve seemed to have trusted Glenn more than he had initially believed.
Re=L was to participate in the dance contest while remaining on standby for Eve’s orders. If anything were to happen, Re=L were to follow Eve’s instructions sent through the magic communication device. As such, Eve had full command over Re=L’s action over this operation, making Re=L no different from a marionette.
In other words, Re=L’s departure from Rumia’s immediate vicinity were all under Eve’s plan, who was undoubtedly monitoring the entire situation from some inconspicuous corner in the academy.
Isn’t this a bit too lax? What is she thinking? Does she really understand the priorities of this operation? Such would be what Glenn would have thought.
However, on this day, Glenn could not help but follow Rumia with his arm in hers.
Still, it was quite the surprise… I have already known Rumia to be beautiful… but I didn’t know her to be this beautiful…
On their way to the event hall, Glenn secretly stole a few glances at Rumia’s face as they chatted. Regardless of his thoughts, Glenn could not see Rumia as anything else but an angel.
“Hehehe… I am certain you will be quite surprised by Sisti and Re=L’s transformation!”
Glenn was at a loss for a reply.
Since Glenn had always lived with the gorgeous Celica, he had never thought he would ever be overwhelmed by the beauty of another. Yet, Rumia’s dazzling appearance had taken him by storm.
While Rumia’s gown and jewelry were definitely quality adornments, they were still far from the highest tier. Even so, Rumia’s beauty had reached unfathomable heights.
I am feeling a growing desire… to see Rumia in the ‘Gown of Fairies’…
Glenn knew that it was not the time to hold such a thought, yet he could not suppress his desire.
◇ ◇ ◇
Glenn and Rumia walked hand-in-hand into the multipurpose hall.
The dance had yet to officially start, but the entire hall was bustling with activity.
At the front, the conductor led the music club in a performance to match the atmosphere, while many pairs had begun a light-hearted dance to the music.
Under the dazzling light of the chandelier, well-dressed students socialized in the periphery. Many of them wore unfamiliar faces, likely guests from other academies.
Further back, Student Council President Liz was greeting the officials of the imperial government.
“Wow! What a classy event! Isn’t all this a bit too extravagant? I thought it was just a pretend social event to entertain the students…”
While most of the participants were just young children, the scale and lavishness of the event were able to put even aristocratic dance parties to shame. It was a fantastical scene that left Glenn completely speechless.
Catching sight of Glenn, some students began to flock to him.
“We’ve heard that you’ll be participating in the dance contest with Rumia, right? Quite a few students had already added you to the ‘Unfortunate Accident’ list.”
The youth who revealed a bright smile was Kash, one of the students in Glenn’s class and known to be a leader of sorts among the male students. He was dressed in a poorly-fitted tuxedo, likely a rental from the academy given how tight a squeeze it was for his relatively large frame.
“S-say, what is this about that dangerous sounding list?”
“Oh right, Teach made the list because there was a rumor going around that said ‘For the sake of a profit, Teach stole the idol of the academy’.”
“As always, you are beyond help…” Wendy, the twin-tailed girl dressed in an impressive gown, let out a fatigued sigh.
As expected of one with an aristocratic upbringing, Wendy walked with perfect poise into the event hall.
“Seriously, just when there finally happens to be a dance worthy of my presence, I find a complete lack of quality partners. Everyone I’ve met is brusque and lacking in etiquette, even forcibly trying to invite me to dance… I really wish someone would teach them a lesson on how to properly interact with ladies!” Wendy scoffed with her face turned to the side, to which Kash and Rumia revealed a pained smile.
“Speaking of which… Teach, since you are only trying to win the champion’s purse, I’ve thought of a great strategy…” Kash revealed as he laughed mischievously, peering close to Glenn’s ear, “I have mobilized the entire class to participate in the upcoming dance contest!”
“I call it ‘Operation: Screw with Teach’s purse IN DANCE PARTY’!”
T-to think Kash came up with something like this…
Glenn glared at Kash in anger.
Incidentally, Glenn strove to win the dance contest with Rumia.
According to the initial plan, winning the contest was for Rumia’s protection, by having Glenn near her at all times. On the other hand, it was due to the unique nature of the Academy Prom. As the event was intended for socialization, proper etiquette dictated that a participant should at least aim to accept one dance. Therefore, participants who repeatedly refuse offers were generally asked to leave the venue, in the sense of ‘why would you participate in the event if you aren’t going to properly socialize?’. Yet, active participants of the dance contest were permitted to refuse offers, to avoid interlopers messing up the rhythms of the pair. As such, winning the dance contest would allow Rumia the right to turn down every offer until the end of the event. Overall, it was a plan that took full advantage of the dance contest to maximize Rumia’s protection.
“Yup, I am such a genius! Everyone is fired up for the dance contest! Although the pairs were decided by lottery, Kai and Rod were crying tears of joy as it will be their first dance with girls.”
“…That’s just sad,” Glenn sighed at Kash’s description of his plan.
“Haa~ If only Professor Arfonia came…”
“Kash, that would be a bit too unrealistic. Professor Arfonia is still recovering… More importantly…!” Wendy declared as she pointed her finger toward Glenn, “As a lady, I won’t easily give up the ‘Gown of Fairies’ to anyone! Consider this an official declaration of war! Ahaha!!”
“Teach, just so you know… I’m Wendy’s partner, as determined by lottery.”
“…I-in other words, I lost before the dance contest began.”
“That’s too much!”
Wendy let out a deep sigh of despair, while Kash was left dismayed.
“Seriously, I am very busy… Why must I…”
“Don’t worry about it! Shouldn’t you know best how important it is to socialize as a magician?”
Not far back, Gibul approached while grumbling about Kash’s forcible recruitment, while Cecil tried his best to placate the negative attitude.
“Hehehe, go easy on us, alright? Teach, I am quite confident in my dance skill, so I won’t easily lose~”
“Umm… T-Teach… If it is alright with you… M-may I have a dance with you a-after the… No, nevermind…!”
Nearby, Theresa smiled with her usual cheerfulness, while Lynn hid behind in anxiousness.
“Hey! You, over there, stop!”
“Uwaa… Darn it! We’ve been found! Rod, let’s make a run for it!”
Kai and Rod ran from the tables after being discovered by the event supervisor for sneaking a few bites.
Other arrivals included Alf, Picks, Caesar, Annette, Bella, and Kathy, all students in Glenn’s class. Everyone seemed to have decided to participate in the dance contest.
“Hmm? The most important one…”
The excessive noisy silver-haired preacher and the cataclysmic chariot were curiously absent.
A wave of gasp echoed from one corner of the multipurpose hall and spread across the entire venue.
Glenn looked toward the ‘epicenter’, where the focus of everyone’s gaze had gathered. It was a pair of dancers who danced wonderfully to the music club’s performance.
Even from the distance, Glenn could easily identify Sistine from the pair. Her silky platinum hair and elegant white gown were a mesmerizing sight, not losing even the slightest to Rumia’s charm.
Sistine’s partner was a short youth, with bright blue hair that reached his shoulder. Even a male like Glenn was momentarily captivated by his appearance. The youth was like a mannequin, wearing a tailored tuxedo with a cool expression. His meticulously accurate steps responded wonderfully to Sistine’s lead as the two twirled gracefully on the dance floor.
Sistine’s lead was masterful, but the youth was an excellent dancer himself. While his steps felt a bit mechanical, his accurate moves and cool expression gave off an irresistible charm.
“H-how cool! Who is that charming gentleman?!”
“Oooh~♡, do we really have such a cool guy in our school?”
“N-not good… I am feeling something well up inside me…”
“D-don’t do it, Loozel! That is a forbidden path~!”
“Yeah, I guess it can’t be helped if a boy is this cute…”
The cute boy had not only elicited a flood of gushing from the female students, even some of the male students fell for him.
Finally, Sistine and the youth had finished their dance. Under thunderous applause, Sistine took the youth by his hand and made their way before the stunned Glenn.
On close inspection, Glenn had finally identified the youth.
“You are… Re=L? Really?!”
“Yep.” The cute youth, or rather, Re=L, coolly replied.
“Hehehe~ What do you think? Were you surprised? Just so you know, I had used all my wonderful knowledge to dress her up this well!”
Everyone glared jealously at Sistine, who puffed her chest out in pride, for monopolizing Re=L.
“My intuition had told me that just a slight bit of makeup would easily make Re=L the most handsome partner! I am very proud of my intuition!”
Sistine taunted Glenn with her gaze.
“Speaking of which, I will be participating in the dance contest with Re-L.”
“What? Do you have any objections? As far as I know, there are no rules preventing pairs of the same gender, and I want to wear the ‘Gown of Fairies’!”
“Ah… W-why would I have any objections…?”
Sistine’s strong desires for the ‘Gown of Fairies’ forced Glenn to back down. Nearby, Rumia let out a pained smile.
“Have you seen it? Re=L is incredible! I had only just taught her the dance, yet she was already able to perform it splendidly! At this rate, I am certain we will have a shot at winning the contest!”
Sistine was already an excellent dancer by herself, while Re-L’s mechanical responses coupled perfectly with her fluid style. If they were to enter a match together, Glenn and Rumia may be the ones who ended up losing.
“Rumia, let us have a fair contest! I understand your desire for the ‘Gown of Fairies’, and I feel terrible for doing this to you… However!” Sistine declared as she turned to Rumia with an ambitious smile, “As fellow students, I won’t let you win the ‘Gown of Fairies’ without a fight! Even if it were you, I will not give any handicaps!”
“Ahaha… Yes, I understand. In that case, let us both do our best!” Rumia replied with a pained expression.
Rumia knew that Sistine had no ill intentions. If anything, Sistine was jealous when she watched Rumia and Glenn dance earlier, therefore she only hoped to throw a wrench in their apparent honeymoon. All in all, her participation in the dance contest was the result of her own denseness to her true feelings.
“Also, Teach! To use the dance contest for your own personal gains, how shameless could you be?! For the sake of making you into a model teacher, I must defeat you here!”
Why is she completely gung-ho about this contest…?
Glenn looked at Sistine with confusion.
Re=L tugged slightly on Glenn’s sleeve as she looked at him with sheepish eyes.
“Glenn, I will do my best to learn ‘dancing’. Let us dance together in the future…”
“Wait, aren’t you learning the male’s role?”
Re-L blinked blankly a few time in confusion, not sure about what Glenn meant.
“Now, Re=L! Let us have another dance before the dance contest starts! Hehehe~ I will use this opportunity to demonstrate to the audience why we are the favorites for the dance contest!”
Sistine took Re=L’s hand as they headed over to the dance floor. While walking, Sistine continued to cast taunting glances at Rumia and Glenn.
“Seriously… Why is everyone screwing around…?”
Faced with the spontaneous participation of his students, Glenn felt his head was close to exploding.
Nearby, Rumia looked at the complicated expression on Glenn’s face before letting out a small laugh.
“Still, I feel as if my heart is racing…”
“To be honest, I have been looking forward to this day…” Rumia lightly whispered, “To be able to dance with ‘him’ during the Academy Prom, and then ultimately earning the rights to don the ‘Gown of Fairies’… Such has always been my dream since I was very young. However, I am a special existence, and anyone who is together with me would certainly be caught in my misfortunes… As such, I had always been afraid of the legend.”
However, if it were you…
Rumia stared attentively at Glenn, all the while wearing an innocent but complicated smile, reflecting the maiden’s own complicated heart.
“Hehehe~ Hopefully, this will be a memorable evening…”
Rumia’s innocent and pure hopes for the prom had once again stabbed at Glenn’s heart. He had more than once thought about telling Rumia the devious plots that were unfolding in the background.
Darn it… I am not sure if there were any better alternatives… However, I hope this won’t end poorly…
Glenn knew the best path was to do everything in his power to prevent the event and dismantle the prom.
However, Glenn had always known that Rumia would certainly have a difficult life with the Researchers of Divine Wisdom on her back. Therefore, Glenn personally wished for Rumia to at least have a few happy memories whenever possible. For this evening, Glenn was unsure if he had the ability to help Rumia realize this small desire of hers.
Darn it! Although it will be risky, this is the only way to go! Our tentative plan is to have a super happy ending that would even make the gods jealous. Let’s do this!
Could the ‘Sorcerer of Justice’ really make this dream a reality? Regardless of his own misgivings, Glenn had already decided to do his utmost to make it happen.
“Yes, that’s right! Let us have a memorable evening…” Glenn replied with a wonderful smile.
◇ ◇ ◇
Sorry. Sisti, I’m sorry…
Although it was a relatively sudden proposal, Rumia did end up accepting Glenn’s invitation to the dance. Knowing what Sistine had felt for Glenn, Rumia felt an intense remorse for her actions.
Only one night… For just this one night, I hope you will forgive my selfishness, Sisti…
Yet, during Glenn’s relatively forceful invitation, Rumia had acquiesced to her selfishness and her dream, through which she had finally came to recognize her true feelings – her overwhelming desire to share a dance with Glenn during the Academy Prom.
For just this one night… let me be together with Glenn…
Rumia followed Glenn with a bright and happy smile, with her complicated feelings tucked away deep in the recesses of her heart.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to our annual Academy Prom, may you all have a wonderful time…”
With each their own thoughts, Student Council President Liz had officially declared the commencement of the Academy Prom.
The conductor led the music club in a majestic performance as the participants paired up for dances.
The tables were covered with delicious food and drinks of all sorts. With small plates of food in hand, participants of all age and walks of life mingled, while waiters masterfully navigated through the crowd with refreshments. After a few lighthearted chats, those who felt compatible with one another would then proceed to the dance floor and join hands in a dance. With this, the jovial night began.
Not a single soul know about the plots behind this dazzling stage… I wonder whether you’ll still be able to put on such smiles if you had all known…
Glenn gazed coolly at the crowd before him…
“Really, Teach? Can you not be such a glutton? You are giving a bad impression of our school!”
Glenn held four plates in his hand as he wolfed down mountains of food. At the sight, Sistine could not help but lecture him.
“How annoying! Do you know when was the last time I had a decent meal? I will die if I don’t properly replenish my own stores! Ah, what the heck are you doing?! Who said you could take it?! Give me back my meat! S-stop…!”
“Y-you should be the one to stop!”
Glenn and Sistine entered into their usual exchange.
Nearby, Re=L simply stared fixedly at the large ‘tower’ of strawberry tarts stacked on her plate. Without a word, Re=L revealed a tinge of satisfaction in her usual sheepish expression.
“Ahaha… I guess we will end up like this regardless of the occasion…” Rumia muttered with a complicated expression as she looked out at them.
On the other hand, with Kash in the lead, Kai, Rod, and the other boys of Glenn’s class raced to invite girls to dance, only to be spectacularly turned down one after another.
Wendy and Theresa, experienced in social gatherings, appeared somewhat annoyed by the countless overtures from the boys.
Elsewhere, Cecil, with his appearance as a ‘cute boy’, instantly became a sensation among the girls, where the constant stream of invitations had left him completely dizzy.
Lynn stood afar and restlessly looked to Glenn, appearing as if wanting to say something.
Surprisingly, the usual aloof Gibul seemed particularly engaged with the teachers from other academies, discussing magic theories with a strange enthusiasm, perhaps contaminated by the social atmosphere.
After about an hour later, Liz made an announcement with a magic-amplified voice.
“Ladies and gentleman. The preliminaries of the annual Academy Prom’s dance contest shall commence. Those who have registered and those who wish to register, please proceed to…”
There were three rounds of preliminaries and three rounds of the actual contest. Each round was to last roughly thirty minutes to an hour. The contestants were generally asked to register before the event, but the registration stayed open until the start of the preliminaries, for those who found pairs during the event or guests from other magic academies.
The preliminaries were done with multiple pairs, where the judges gave ‘stars’ to the outstanding pairs. At the end of each preliminary round, the total number of ‘stars’ were tallied for each pair, and the top pairs with the most ‘stars’ advanced to the next round. After the three rounds of preliminaries, the top six teams were selected to participate in the contest proper.
For the actual contest, three pairs were to compete in each round, where the judges would give a numerical score to their performance. The top pair of each trio of pairs would then proceed to the finals.
After three rounds of preliminaries and two rounds of dance contest came the final round, where the two top pairs competed against one another for the title of champion. The champion was then given the right to don the ‘Gown of Fairies’, to which the pair would perform one final dance for everyone. For the students of Alzano Imperial Magic Academy, and for all participants of the Academy Prom, the ‘Gown of Fairies’ was an unprecedented honor.
As the contest commenced, those who wished to bring honor onto themselves made their way to the stage of the first preliminary.
Glenn and Rumia, Sistine and Re=L, as well as all the students in Glenn’s class… Everyone was ready to give it their all for the chance of becoming the champions.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Hmm… Look’s like we survived the first preliminary.”
With the first preliminary complete, Glenn let out a sigh of relief. Nearby, Rumia also revealed a bright smile.
“Seems that Sisti and Re=L have also easily advanced through the first preliminary… Looks like things will get interesting~”
Darn it… This is turning out to be worse than I had thought…
Looking over the contestants, Glenn broke into cold sweat. He realized that he had gravely underestimated the ‘student participants’. The skill of the contestants was at a surprisingly high level, with many young ladies who had experience in social dances like Theresa. More importantly, many of the contestants had spent long hours practicing, even the students from other academies.
I guess everyone is fascinated by the ‘Gown of Fairies’… Darn it, this means that we don’t have the slightest leeway in terms of mistakes…
As it happened, Wendy was counted among the young ladies with prior experience in social dances.
“Ehhh?! Why must someone as skilled as I suffer the embarrassment of not clearing the first preliminary?!” Wendy ranted as she bit down on her handkerchief in frustration.
“Ah… Just for the record, this loss is actually not my fault…”
“Darn it! I know already!!”
In the first half of the first preliminary, Wendy’s graceful steps had entranced all onlookers. As for her partner, Kash was a neophyte at dancing, but his physical endurance and astuteness had allowed him to keep up with Wendy. For the most part, Wendy and Kash were ranked among the favorites to win the contest.
However, just as the audience held that thought, Wendy had ended up tripping over her own dress during the finish. Simply put, Wendy’s habit of messing up at the most critical moment remained the same as always.
“Yeah!! We have cleared the first preliminary!!”
“Darn it! Just when we had the opportunity to hold hands with girls…”
A mixture of joy and grief echoed around Glenn.
“Haa… Why can’t you all calm down a bit…” Glenn signed as he revealed a troubled face.
“Excuse me… I had taken the opportunity to observe the first preliminary, and I was deeply touched by your splendid performance,” a single youth declared as he approached Glenn, “Granted, the contestants this year were all very impressive. However, I can confidently state that you two are a cut above the rest.”
The youth had a gentle face. He was dressed in a tailored tuxedo and appeared the same age as Rumia – roughly fifteen or sixteen years old. However, this was the first time Glenn had met him.
“Apologies… My name is Kite Aries, and I am a student at the Kleitos Magic Academy,” the youth confessed while presenting his student ID and invitation, “If it is alright with you, may I get your names?”
“Ahaha~ Thank you for your praise. My name is Rumia Tingel, and I am a second-year student.”
“Glenn Radars. A teacher at Alzano Imperial Magic Academy.”
Rumia happily gave her reply, while Glenn remained distrustful of the youth’s intentions.
“Rumia-san? I was absolutely entranced by your earlier performance, almost as if I had witnessed the descent of an angel…!”
The youth had completely ignored Glenn as he began to shower praise upon Rumia.
What is with this guy? Is he trying to hit on Rumia?
Glenn suspected that the youth, as a participant from a different academy, was not informed of the scene between him and Rumia. In other words, the youth was merely attracted to Rumia like a moth to a flame. Granted, the Academy Prom was meant for socializing, so the youth’s actions were justifiable. However, such overtures proved to be problematic for Rumia’s protection.
Just as Glenn was about to interject in an attempt to drive away the youth like others before him, he heard a voice through his magic communication crystal.
“Glenn, the youth in front of you is one of the targets for this operation, ‘Demon Hand’ Zaeed… I’m certain of it.”
Eve’s clear voice caused Glenn to suddenly freeze.
“Hey, watch your emotions.”
Glenn could only shudder at the thought of the enemy appearing right before him.
“Hmm…? Glenn-sensei… Are you alright?” Kite, or rather, Zaeed, asked with an icy smile.
It was a smile that sent shivers down Glenn’s spine.
“T-this bastard… Could he really be…?”
“Yes, it’s just as you thought. Zaeed knows full well that his cover has been blown. Even then, for him to appear so brazenly before us, it could basically be taken as a declaration of war.”
On the opposite end of the communication crystal placed in Glenn’s ear, Eve seemed utterly ecstatic.
“Eve! I will take him down now! Back me up!”
Glenn moved in front of Rumia as he signaled Eve through the crystal. His hand slowly reached toward his concealed handgun, while he unleashed his killing intent through his gaze.
“Glenn, wait. Ignore him for now.”
It was an unbelievable order.
“Huh?! Are you serious? What the heck are you thinking?!”
“It can’t be helped… Although it is highly classified intelligence, I think it would be best if you know… There happens to be another mastermind behind ‘Demon Hand’ Zaeed, one that we have yet to determine the identity. From our intelligence, that mastermind has deep ties with the highest echelons of the organization and has accompanied Zaeed on this operation…”
Eve’s words had hit Glenn like a sledgehammer. After all, it was the first time he had ever heard of a true mastermind.
“Eve…! Why did you conceal such an important piece of intelligence? Do Albert and the others know…?!”
“To unveil the mastermind, we need to provide the appropriate bait. As for Zaeed, you must ignore him for now. Do not worry, the princess’s protection is perfect. Zaeed won’t have any chance of harming the princess before we close our trap!”
Eve had simply brushed off Glenn’s question.
On the other hand, Glenn was completely baffled by Eve’s actions.
If Eve’s intelligence had already determined the exact cover Zaeed would use in his infiltration, why hadn’t she shared it with the other operatives? Is there any reason why she withheld such a critical piece of intelligence? That can’t be right…
Glenn had countless questions that he wanted Eve to answer.
“…Darn it! The protection of Rumia should take the highest priority! We need to immediately neutralize Zaeed, or outright eliminate him!”
“Glenn, no. That is an order. On top of protecting the princess, we are to unveil the mastermind behind Zaeed. That is the full objective of this operation!”
Eve was unshakable in her will.
“I should mention that Bloodline Magic ‘Ira’s Flame’ hones itself on negative emotions… If you attack Zaeed, you will draw all of the focus onto yourself and neutralize my protection. I am certain such an action would play perfectly into their hands.”
“Glenn, do not worry. Zaeed and the mastermind had already learned of my presence. Therefore, they know that any attempt on the princess will result in their death. At the same time, they likely deduced that I am searching for the mastermind and would certainly ignore Zaeed for now. Like I said before, Zaeed’s appearance amounted to nothing more than a simple declaration of war.”
It was a fragile balance created from the diverging intentions of its participants. Although Glenn wanted to eliminate the threat before his eyes, he knew that he could not act rashly. As such, Glenn could only begrudgingly grind his teeth in frustration and pretend to be relatively calm before Zaeed.
“Heh… Things had turned quite interesting. Glenn, with the current stalemate, aren’t you curious how they plan to assassinate the princess? Certainly, with my presence, they simply have no chance.”
Glenn could not help but be mad at Eve’s attitude.
“…Is that so? You are participating in today’s dance contest with your favorite teacher?”
“Yes. We had practiced quite hard for this contest.”
Nearby, Rumia and Zaeed continued their lighthearted conversation, with Rumia unaware of the frustration in Glenn’s heart.
On the other hand, Zaeed gave a taunting glance at Glenn, revealing the cruel nature beneath.
“Then, Rumia-san. After the contest is all over, may I ask you for a dance? I also hope to make this a memorable evening…”
“Ah, sounds good. A simple dance shouldn’t hurt. I shall look forward to it.”
“Thank you. With that, I wish you both the best of luck in the dance contest!”
Darn it… To think he would ask for a dance… Is this their backup plan?!
Glenn had completely fallen for it.
If we lose the contest, we will no longer have any right to refuse invitations to dance… If we remain obstinate toward the invitations, we would be ejected from the venue, thereby creating an opportunity for the enemy…
Glenn was convinced that the enemies were lying in ambush outside the venue. The moment that Rumia leaves the venue would be the moment of her death.
We still can’t confirm the safety of the campus! I only hope Albert and the others are successful in their task… Otherwise, if even a single enemy eludes them, leaving the venue is tantamount to suicide.
However, if he acted out now, Glenn would certainly be ejected from the venue.
If I act now, all the negative emotions will focus on me, thereby also provide them with an opportunity.
If the Academy Prom turned to chaos, Glenn would end up attracting the focus of the negative emotions, thus creating an opening for the mastermind. As long as they were able to disable Eve’s abilities, even for a split second, their chance of a successful assassination would be greatly amplified.
Certainly, I would not so easily let ‘Demon Hand’ Zaeed approach Rumia…
After all, the reputation of ‘Demon Hand’ Zaeed was threatening by itself. Even the slightest touch by Zaeed’s ‘hand’ would certainly spell doom for Rumia.
Not to mention, with the mastermind still a mystery. Anyone who danced with Rumia could be considered a possible threat.
Additionally, with the sheer number of people in the venue, whoever was found next to Rumia at the time of the assassination could easily end up as collateral damage.
If Eve wasn’t obstinate about unveiling the mastermind… If Eve had let us know the full extent of her intelligence before the operation… If the enemy has the slightest flexibility in maintaining an ‘assassination’… If the school was properly informed of their plot… All of this would not happen!
The swirling thoughts made Glenn feel as if his head was about to explode.
“Then, Glenn-sensei, I sincerely pray for your success in the dance contest,” ‘Demon Hand’ Zaeed stated as he reached out his hand.
A wave of uncertainty washed over Glenn.
For now, Zaeed should not have any reason to harm Glenn, as Glenn’s sudden death would cause the suspension of the prom, thereby interfering with their plans.
However, for the rumored ‘Demon Hand’ Zaeed, who was known for his repeated assassinations of high-ranking officials, and whose skills were still shrouded in enigma, accepting his hand was an undeniable risk.
I can’t overthink this! Let me use my life as a gamble for Rumia’s… and everyone’s… safety!
With his own death, Glenn had hoped that Eve would then be able to deduce the nature of Zaeed’s skills. Granted, such an outcome certainly won’t be in Glenn’s best interest, but it would provide protection for Rumia and everyone else.
“…Yes, I am absolutely confident in our victory, if only to keep flies like you away from Rumia, ‘Demon Hand’.”
Glenn did not say the words ‘Demon Hand’ out loud. He only used his mouth to make out the motions before forcibly taking the outstretched hand of the youth.
“To think you would unhesitantly accept my ‘hand’… I’m impressed by your bravery, ‘the Fool’.”
Likewise, Zaeed also did not enunciate the words ‘the Fool’ as he revealed a taunting smile.
For a moment, the temperature around the two plummeted, with both seemingly standing on thin ice.
Next to the pair, Rumia looked at Glenn from the side with a perplexed expression.
“This dance had proven to be a huge success! Everyone seemed to be enjoying it quite well.”
“I have yet to miss a single Academy Prom, but this one had proved to be the best of them!”
“The conductor and the music club’s performance had been incredible. This arrangement was simply astounding!”
“Yes, the performance is perfect. I could feel my soul quivering in anticipation!”
Elsewhere, for the guests who were still left unaware for the developing plot, the jovial atmosphere continued to grow.
◇ ◇ ◇
At that moment, three silhouettes stood atop the unlit ceiling of the event hall. It was Albert, Bernard, and Christoph.
“Hahaha~! Wow, it’s quite the rare opportunity to see so many beauties gathered in a single place, yet I am stuck…! Hey, Albert-kun, would it be alright if I go for a quick swig or two?”
“Be serious about this, old man. Otherwise, I’ll give you a bullet to wake you up.”
Unlike the chatty Albert and Bernard, Christoph had his eyes closed in meditation, and below his foot was a lightly glowing pentagram. Christoph had used his field magic to surveil all corners of the campus for enemy movements.
“Speaking of which, Christoph, how’s it going? Have you gotten any hits?”
“No, nothing so far…” Christoph revealed with a sigh but still full of confidence.
“Bernard-senpai, Albert-senpai… Although people may think of me as a coward for saying this, I’m still opposed to this operation.”
“Don’t worry, both Albert and I hold the same opinion,” Bernard affirmed with a shrug.
“I’m aware of Eve-sama’s abilities. She is an undeniable genius, one that I won’t be able to reach within the confines of my life. However, this entire operation seemed haphazard and unnecessarily risky, a fact that I believe Eve-sama herself is deeply aware. Altogether, it seems as if she is a…”
“…fame-seeker, right?” Albert interjected, to which both Bernard and Christoph turned, “That woman is in need of some immediate achievements, and the result of which is this haphazard operation.”
“Oh? Albert-kun, you have also noticed?”
“Huh? Please explain…” Christoph asked with a perplexed expression.
“Christoph, when you first saw that woman, Eve Ignite, casting her Bloodline Magic, did you not have any opinions?” Albert stipulated as he stood cross-armed and looked to Christoph, “Highly destructive, quick casting within her field, immediate response to aggression, and extensive intelligence network… Altogether, these skills form the perfect repertoire for ‘single combat’… a repertoire on which the reputation and power of the ‘Crimson Duke’ House Ignite were built upon.”
“To keep with their tradition, House Ignite must always sit at the pinnacle of the magic society, be it fame, glory, or position.”
“Wait… Are you implying that Eve-sama only made this haphazard plan to garner achievements? By purposely making it a difficult mission, she is trying to maximize her glory?! How could that be…”
Christoph reflexively furrowed his brows, to which Albert nodded in confirmation.
“Not only that… From what I was able to deduce, Eve is withholding some intelligence from the rest of us. In other words, Eve is not only trying to eliminate the threats, but also planning to do so in single combat.”
“T-to think she is going that far…”
“Hmph, that woman has always been a cunning one. However, despite our own misgivings, we should still do our best to make the operation a success. Such is the problem with military hierarchy.” Albert coolly stated.
“‘The Magician’ Eve-sama… I had always wondered why she needs to go so far…”
“As one who saw her growing up, I should at least offer you a proper perspective… Let’s just say that she also has her own reasons, and she didn’t have any other options…” Bernard explained with a stroke of his beard, “Within the Imperial Court Mage Corps, there are various departments and research divisions… Of which, the Special Operations Annex exists as the elite among the elites, specialized in dealing with covert tasks and magic cases. As with the case of an elite combat group, Special Operations is deeply entrenched within the war hawks faction of the Imperial Government. As such, having a scion of House Ignite serving as the chief could be considered a tradition.”
“Yes, I am aware that the chief of the Special Operations Annex, ‘The Magician’ with the code number of one, had always been monopolized by members of House Ignite.”
“However, Eve also happened to be born a bastard from the liaison between her father and a commoner girl. She was only elevated to heiress after her elder sister lost the ability to use magic due to a fateful incident.”
“As you are probably aware, the prestigious House Ignite is relatively conservative in thought. So it is not hard to imagine the resistance from the dynasty toward having Eve, a bastard tainted with commoner’s blood, take over House Ignite. Chris-kun, I hope you can understand,” Bernard divulged with a shake of his head and a complicated expression, likely reminiscing about Eve’s childhood, “Regardless of how she is now, she had quite the struggle to reach her current position. She craves recognition from her dynasty, which resulted in her fame-seeking behavior. She used to be an idealistic and kind child, but the reality of her upbringing shaped her to be the cool and calculating person today.”
“To think there was this much history…”
“That child had to do everything in her power to survive, and her overbearing demeanor reflects her inner uncertainty. As such, I cannot abandon her…”
“…That’s enough, Bernard.”
At that moment, a person appeared with arms and legs crossed, leaning on the oeil-de-boeuf window of the multipurpose hall.
“I am who I am… It has nothing to do with my family, my father, or my dynasty.”
“Eve, why are you here? Weren’t you in charge with the security within the venue?”
“Don’t worry, my field remains active. More importantly…” Eve rebuked Bernard’s warning before turning to Christoph, “Christoph, Isn’t it about time?”
“Yes, they’re here! My field has detected activity!”
“…Ugh, so those bastards have finally arrived.”
At that moment, Christoph had detected the threats quickly approaching.
“Three targets. The location and details of the targets are as follows…” Christoph explained as he flicked a crystal to each of the three.
The crystal recorded the intelligence gathered by Christoph’s field.
With the information disseminated, the operatives confirmed the details.
“Hmm… So how should we go about doing this?”
“The targets are approaching from three directions. The most effective method is to focus down each of the targets in sequence with all of our operatives.”
“That won’t work. Doing so would allow the remaining two to sneak past our defenses. In that case, I would be forced to engage in combat, which would disrupt our overall plan,” Eve immediately refuted the suggestion, “Here’s my order. ‘The Star’ shall proceed north, ‘The Hermit’ shall proceed west, and ‘The Hierophant’ shall proceed east. I believe with everyone’s ability, winning shouldn’t be a problem?”
Eve spoke with a tone that permeated the incredible conviction she had with her plan.
“Hmm… It shouldn’t, but Chris-kun is not specialized for single combat, his potentials are best expressed in a team. I do not think it is wise…” Bernard openly expressed his disapproval at Eve’s plan.
“No, I think this would be for the best. Let us stick with Eve’s plan…”
On the other hand, Christoph seemed to have acknowledged the deployment.
“Yes… Then I leave everything in your able hands, my trusted comrades.”
Eve purposely emphasized the final part.
“Haa~ When there are so many cute girls waiting for me inside, why must I waste time fighting against those annoying bastards… If only our enemies were cute girls themselves…” Bernard mumbled as he stood up with his back to Eve.
“…Don’t die, old man.” Albert whispered as he patted Bernard’s shoulder, before departing toward the assigned direction.
“Yes, everyone, good luck.”
Christoph also revealed a dispassionate smile.
With everything settled, Albert, Bernard, and Christoph each went their way into the darkness.
◇ ◇ ◇
In the eastern gardens of the Alzano Imperial Magic Academy, the lively herbs that thrived in the soil had all since wilted.
“Fun time~♪ Work time~♪”
A lass dressed in a revealing gown skipped lightly toward the multipurpose hall, as if out for an evening stroll.
“Beautiful princess~♪ Dreamy princess~♪ May our fun be endless~♪ And the moon ever flawless~♪ Come out and play under the starry night sky~♪ And let me sing you a lullaby~♪ Beautiful princess~♪ Dreamy princess~♪ May I witness your sadness~♪”
Despite her burning passion, the air around her continued to chill. White puffs appeared out of her enticing lips with every breath, and any herbs nearby were instantly frozen.
“The winter night~♪ The loving night~♪ Beautiful Princess~♪ Dreamy princess~♪ May I witness your sadness~♪”
The lass suddenly paused her steps.
About a dozen or so meters ahead of her, a youth had appeared in her way.
“…This path’s closed. Your opponent is me.”
Christoph confidently stood before the lass, and his entire body exuded an intimidating aura.
“Hehehe~ What wonderful joy~♪ Good evening, beautiful boy~♪”
The lass revealed a twisted smile as she performed an elegant courtesy. Her eyes contained an unfathomable and inhuman darkness.
“Come, ‘the Hierophant’-san~♪ Dance with me for fun~♪ Your friends are terribly bold~♪ To abandon you in such crippling cold~♪ This is a tragedy, yet this is a comedy~♪”
Almost instantaneously, the surrounding air dipped to frigid lows.
“Yet, worry not, you shall not be forgotten~♪ For I shall keep you forever in my ice coffin~♪ And love you for all eternity~♪ For all eternity~♪”
At that moment, a twister of ice and snow swirled around the lass, glittering brilliantly under the moonlight. The ground started to creak and crack from the sudden freeze, while the herbs had all became entrapped in a prison of ice.
Her emotionless eyes betrayed the extreme madness within her soul, and, when combined with her surrealistic beauty, the lass could easily be seen as death incarnate.
“…’The Winter Empress’ Glacia of the Researchers of Divine Wisdom’s First Order ‘Portals’. I’m sorry to say this, but you will not be able to defeat me. I will give you one chance to withdraw…”
Christoph did not show the slightest hesitation.
“…The cute little birdy chirps~♪ The caged little birdy chirps~♪ Haa~ What a terrible tragedy~♪ The ignorant birdy chirps~♪ What a terrible tragedy~♪”
The surrounding air continued to chill, now reaching far below zero.
The runes etched all over Glacia’s pearly skin began to glow as she poured more and more mana into her spells, increasing the ferocity of the ice storm that enveloped her.
The surrounding had long reached the chilling hell of the Ninth Circle ‘Cocytus’. For anyone who had not prepared defensive magic ahead of time, the temperature would freeze the blood and arrest the heart – a fatal outcome.
“Sleep, my little magpie~♪ Let me sing you a lullaby~♪ Embrace the winter, my little chickpea~♪ And sleep for all eternity~♪ Eternally‧Lastingly‧Peacefully…?”
Glacia sang the spell as she channeled her energy toward Christoph. At that moment, a blast of ice and snow hurled its way forward, to which Christoph calmly threw a few pieces of emeralds and planted them around him in a circle.
“…Instant Field Magic [Emerald‧Circle]!”
Immediately, magic veins connected the pieces of emerald, and a glowing pentagram appeared on the ground. Above the pentagram, a transparent green shield appeared and deflected the onslaught of the blast.
It was the famed gemstone series of Field Magic developed by House Flowel, the family from which Christoph hailed.
Field Magic was a subset of Ritual Magic that required complex preparations and arrangements to use. However, House Flowel had developed an advanced form of Field Magic that achieves the same effects with significantly simplified preparation – an ideal spell for close combat. Incidentally, Christoph happened to specialize in defensive Field Magics.
The strength of the Gemstone Field Magic [Emerald‧Circle] was equivalent to ten Black Magic [Force‧Shield] and have a significantly larger area of effect. It was undeniably one of the strongest defensive magic available among the Imperial Court Mage Corps.
However, the blast of ice had opened a crack in Christoph’s impenetrable Field Magic, and, before long, the entire field shattered under the weight of the spell.
“Hehehe~ It’s useless, we are in Cocytus~♪ Where all motion freezes~♪ Molecules, atoms, and magic~♪ Everything freezes~♪” Glacia bragged as she smiled at the stunned Christoph.
“Let me welcome you once more, my dear Christoph. Welcome, to my palace of ice!”
Cold air continued to radiate out from her body as countless pillars of ice rose up around her, each glittering under the moonlight.
Christoph’s proud defense had been easily crushed. Shaking off the momentary shock, Christoph once more took out a handful of emeralds as he prepared his new Field Magic.
◇ ◇ ◇
In the western pavilion of the Alzano Imperial Magic Academy, Bernard held his head in his hands as he kicked the nearby pond in frustration.
“Why must my opponent be you…?!”
Bernard’s opponent from the Researchers of Divine Wisdom was a middle-aged male, roughly thirty to forty years old. He had a large build that towered above Bernard, with wide shoulders and well-sculpted muscles. It was an appearance unusual for a mage – more fitting for a fighter or a monk. Although he was wearing a robe befitting a magician, his muscles had ripped through many of the seams.
“What’s with all that muscle?! Gross! I am about to die from utter disgust! Darn it, I knew I should’ve forced Eve to assign me to the east! At least the one over there had the appearance of a cute girl! Hey, is there any chance all that muscle is just a cosplay costume, and you are actually a beautiful girl beneath? No way, right?”
Bernard stomped the ground in anger.
However, the male simply ignored Bernard’s outburst.
“…I am honored to have you as my opponent, ‘The Hermit’ Bernard… Or rather more accurately, the man originally held the distinction as ‘The Strength’ within the Special Operation Annex.” The muscular man announced.
“Hmph… That is quite an old tale…”
Bernard furrowed his brows at the mentioning of ‘The Strength’.
“Your exploits had spread far in the underworld, about how you had reached the pinnacle of Combat Magic.”
Combat Magic was a form of magic that focused mana onto one’s limbs and unleashed upon the opponent’s body for an explosive result. It was an amalgamation of magic and close combat that required a magician to have a gift for magic control and be willing to abandon the safety of distance. While it was a very intimidating field, those who have said to have mastered it would be known for their unbelievable power.
“Known for your explosive power that could plow through everyone with ease… With some even saying that your transient destructive capabilities even rival that of Celica Arfonia. In the Religious Wars some forty years ago, you and ‘Double Lightning’ Zelos inflicted massive casualties on the enemy forces.”
“Hmm? Did that happen? I don’t quite remember myself~” Bernard quipped while rubbing his chin.
“Consider this fate… Let me be the final witness to your legendary Combat Magic. Bernard Jester, let your death serve as fodder to my growth! Smash!”
The male made an extremely short chant. He raised his fists up as runes began to glow on his arms. His whole body crackled as if being turned into a bolt of lightning.
“Uwaa… So you are also a user of Combat Magic…” Bernard mumbled as he gave an irate gaze at the male entering combat stance, “Very well, since you so nicely asked, I guess I wouldn’t mind playing with you a bit.”
Bernard begrudgingly raised his two fists, and, with a slight chant, enveloped his fists with flame.
“…’Howling’ Zet of the Researchers of Divine Wisdom’s First Order ‘Portals’, let us have a good fight!”
“I’m just Bernard now, go easy on me~”
In an instant, the two left only a blur from where they stood as they collided with one another.
As the lightning slammed into the fire, the air all around them reverberated from the shock of the impact. For a moment, the two seemed equal.
However, before long, Zet’s fist slowly forced Bernard’s fist back, until Bernard was completely pushed away for several meters.
Bernard gasped with shock, while Zet seemed oddly satisfied.
“You should really stop holding back, Demon of Alzano. I hope to witness all of your legendary strength… Before you die.”
“N-not good. This bastard isn’t a simple pushover…”
Although Bernard spoke with his usual humor, his smile seemed to crumble ever so slightly.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Hehehe~ May you be Albert Fraser-san?”
In the dark forest, a single youth appeared and gave a light bow to Albert.
“Greeting, I am Weiss Cernus, a member of the First Order ‘Portals’. May I have your acquaintance… although I doubt it would last ‘long’.”
“I have heard a great many tales about your exploits. As such, I am more than enthusiastic to meet the famed trump card of the Imperial Court Mage Corps.”
Albert remained silent. His sharp eyes remain focused on the creature next to the youth named Weiss.
“Huh? Are you curious? Looks like even someone as strong as you could not ignore it…” Weiss quipped, almost as if enjoying Albert’s curious reactions.
The one that stood next to Weiss could only be described as a monster.
Although it has the semblance of a human, its shoulders were thrice as wide as a regular human, and its obsidian-colored body was covered with well-sculpted muscle. It had a long meandering neck, with a pair of massive wings protruding out from its back. Altogether, the creature reminded Albert of the oil painting that depicted scenes from hell…
“Yup, just as you probably have guessed… This fellow is a ‘Demon’.” Weiss proudly declared to Albert.
“Are you a demon summoner…?”
“Yes. This is the demon that I had summoned. It’s not one of the small fries, but a relatively high-ranked one… You know, the famous ones.”
Demon were beings that came from the collective conscious of humans. They were born in times of epidemic, drought, famine, storm, earthquake, eruptions, and other uncontrollable natural disasters. They could also come from negative emotions avoided by men like betrayal, jealousy, lust, and wrath. Although they started as just figments of imagination, the amalgamation of belief and terror gave form to these creatures – an existence only possible in a world dominated by magic.
In short, demon summoning is the process of giving form to the imaginary, providing flesh to otherwise mythical existences. Thereby, bringing creatures that would otherwise never exist into the world.
“Hahaha~! Now, ‘The Star’ Albert-san, I’ve heard much about your strength, but that is only related to humans. Would you be able to do anything to the collective fear of humankind?”
It certainly wasn’t a hard question, such a battle was impossible to win. After all, the notion of demons was so foreign and powerful to mere humans that by definition it could not be overcome.
“…’Mad Count’ Narkis, right?” Albert calmly remarked.
“The name of this demon is ‘Mad Count’ Narkis, one of the thirty-six lieutenants. It serves under the sixth king ‘Black Sword’ Maevis as the head of its Black Sword Knights. Of course, the one you have is just a copy. The real one follows the command of Maevis, sounding its horn atop the headless chariot on the eternal battlefield, turning the land into a sea of blood and bringing war to every corner of the world.”
“Huh? To think a magician like you would be familiar with the unholy scriptures, or rather, demonology. Either way, you are the first to see through my demon so easily…” Weiss happily praised, “However, it is still pointless! As long as I control the true name of the demon, I would not easily yield it to you! While a mere copy, it is still a high-ranking demon, you won’t easily win against…”
“…How many people have you sacrificed?” Albert inquired with a chilling tone.
“Although it is just a mere copy, it still requires an incredible amount of effort to maintain its flesh and existence. Achieving this feat needs countless souls to sacrifice. Tell me, then, how many lives have you sacrificed to that beast?!”
Albert’s voice exuded an incredible and barely contained rage.
“I no longer have any mercy for you since the moment you declared yourself a demon summoner. Come, evil creature, let me show you the true meaning of fear!”
Toward Albert’s declaration, Weiss let out an earnest laugh that could not even be stifled by his own hands.
“S-seriously! To think ‘The Star’ Albert-san would have such a wonderful sense of humor! I had thought you would give some expert remarks, but you only uttered pointless drivel. In that case, I ask you to rein in some of that empty bravado…”
Without waiting for Weiss to finish, Albert swiftly finished his spell and launched a bolt of Black Magic [Lightning‧Pierce], from which a bright light cut across the darkness.
As the bolt approached, the demon simply waved his arms and caused it to dissipate.
“I see. Since you can’t win against the demon, you tried to attack its summoner. Such an obvious trick… Do you honestly believe humans could surpass demons?”
“Golden Beasts‧Racing cross the Land‧Soaring in the sky…!”
Albert completely disregarded Weiss’s question as he turned to cast Black Magic [Plasma‧Field]. It seemed to be an attempt to eliminate Weiss in an area of effect attack.
“Didn’t I tell you that it won’t work?!” Weiss howled.
At the same time, black lightning began to surge forth from the body of the demon. The black lightning not only consumed Albert’s plasma, but also reflected it back toward him.
It was one of Albert’s greatest close combat spells, a powerful B-ranked military spell. Yet, it was easily countered by the demon.
The reflected attack soon made contact with Albert, as a loud explosion rang out from where he stood.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Oooh… Really now… Looks like we can wrap this up even earlier than I had thought. To think the Imperial Court Mage Corps was this weak…” Zaeed muttered as he leaned on the wall of the event hall, revealing a devious smile.
◇ ◇ ◇
“How shallow… I knew that you would’ve thought that way. My strategy is perfect, and you foolish mages will not escape my trap. I shall enjoy your futile struggle…” Eve speculated as she stood on the roof of the event all, giving a shrewd chuckle.
◇ ◇ ◇
At the same time, a certain individual had seemingly seen through the foolish laughter of the two. Under the cover of the darkness, the individual sneaked silently into the event hall.
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