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ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI, THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO STARTING A LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WORLD FROM ZERO, THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
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Blue Dragon Sword wielded in his one hand, toward the man chattering without rest Capella lightly tilted her head.
Three-plaited braid long and dark spilling upon her white shoulder, with arms folded as if to emphasize her plump chest she bent forward, casting a mesmerizing gaze toward the man wearing the helmet.
Using that mesmerizing gaze to tempt a man’s eyes, even knowing it was a trap, it would still drive a man’s instincts wild.
However, even with such a demonic scheme, whether or not it would be effective would depend on the opponent.
Al: “That erotic pose is indeed a little bit, but if your goal is to seduce me it’s useless y’know. For a hardcore virgin… to make me thirst after a passerby onee-chan, has such a high difficulty that I’m practically laughing.”
Capella: “To demean your own frivolous words as well as moderate restraint… setting aside whether or not this lovely lady’s goals apply for you, a man who~ gives the impression of not eating this up, putting on that act of a harlequin to induce carelessness in your opponent, just what is that thick thing meant for?”
Al: “Women shouldn’t be spouting dirty jokes like that. It’s a real turn-off.”
Capella’s provocative seeming gaze, from this man’s response turned into an expression of speechlessness. This measure of surprise quickly dissipated as well, and Capella laughed as if happy from the bottom of her heart.
Capella: “Kyahahahaha! What is that, that remark at that age in that demeanor. That maiden of yo~ur dreams lives on o~nly within your chest. Yo~u too are one of those people whose exterior doesn’t conform to your interior, are~n’t you without doubt a flower in a greenhouse. Kya~, how di~rty.”
Al: “Though I apologize for interrupting your show, don’t make me say it so many times. I’m not in the mood today. I couldn’t really tell you if you asked me when is it that I’m in the mood, particularly today, so.”
Toward the one posturing like so, Capella who was tapping her feet, the man – Al’s attitude became extremely complex and irritated.
Rather than posturing, it seemed to be a manner of dissatisfaction with this task from the bottom of his heart. Rather different from the two people from above on this point, this lead Capella to become increasingly incredulous.
Capella: “Not in the mood, finding this a bother, and yet not clearing the way. Your~ words are truly full of contradictions. In that case why the hell are you still in the company of a raucous maniac like myself?”
Al: “The nerve of you to say it yourself, you raucous maniac.”
Capella: “Of course it’ll be said. From this lovely lady’s perspective, in any case absolutely everything that exists in this world is just a way to pass time. You are all in entirety, ultimately objects of this lovely lady. The lovely lady’s love is boundless, filled with mercy, because everything aside from seeking love from this lovely lady is unnecessary… Anything else, do with it a~s you like.”
Spreading her arms, Capella with an expression as if a poisonous flower laughed sweetly.
Al who was looking at this smile, with a woosh dropped the blade of the Blue Dragon Sword. Twisting his neck so that his bones made a crack, spat out a long sigh with an ‘Ah—’.
Al: “You are. Rather different from the other sins I’ve known.”
Capella: “Oh my, you’ve seen other meats rotted beyond rot? That perverted female meat who resents her own longing? That virgin bastard with miniscule vessel? That low-life brat of Bizarre Eating with vile character? Or was it that sick in the head, sick in consciousness, sick in thought self-proclaimed spirit? No matter which for companions they’re the absolute worst choices! Haven’t your parents taught you? Choose your companions carefully.”
Al: “… Unfortunately, my current friends are types my parents warned me about.”
Capella: “That too still deserves condolences. Even the you~ like that, will embrace this lovely lady’s august love? Remove that helmet and reveal your face, embrace and devote love to this lovely lady!”
No matter how contemned or rebuffed, Capella who carried out the gestures of seeking love was the epitome of a mind which sought love. Excepting the notion of the most extreme one-sided love that had without regard of others forcefully plundered love until now that had been referred to by a misnomer of [Love].
Of course, answering to her love which rather than being called awkward, would be better described as completely disregarding of human nature existed not a single person.
Al raised the Blue Dragon Sword that he had just lowered, slowly shaking his head.
Al: “Apologies. I’m happy you feel that way, but the two of us are still unfamiliar with each other, and it’d be embarrassing if any odd rumors spread amongst my friends. Please accept my refusal.”
Capella: “Something like giving regard to the gazes of outsiders, do~n’t you still have quite the cute aspects. Is this lovely lady lacking here. —And here there had been an impression of taking leave from garbage masochistic male meats who enjoy being ordered about by women.”
Al: “… ah?”
Capella: “Disregarding of others, harsh eyes. A body which could even be said to be filled with sensuality and violence. A stature shorter than this lovely lady currently is, a kind of lovely exposed skin. Although words changing along with mood, an inner character always held up with reason and confidence which never grows meaninglessly arrogant. Handing many tasks over to subordinates, but rarely becoming reliant on them. Not li~kable but not disli~kable, the position and the woman both.”
While chattering on endlessly, Capella’s figure metamorphosed.
Still maintaining ample flesh, shortening her height, clothing transforming into a bold dress which revealed shoulders and back. Eyes on the face changing from sleepy to sharp, from her keen gaze overflowed an atmosphere of confidence. What appeared was a beautiful woman with long golden hair hanging loose.
Associates from within the city, although not the appearance of any particular person — from some unknown place, exuded an atmosphere similar to that of a woman whom Al associated with.
Capella: “Oops, not gold? At the very least a Lugunica’s characteristics would include golden hair… In that case, hmmhmmhmm, red… n— orange it is.”
Observing Al’s subtle reactions, Capella’s hair color changed bit by bit. Testing black, brown, green, blue, hesitating for a moment when it became red, then becoming orange.
With just this, she had assumed an impression ridiculously similar to a very familiar woman.
Al: “How very hair raising… from where have you met our princess?”
Capella: “Never seen never spoken to her never even realized her existence? Merely, deducing from your reactions the type of woman you like. This lovely lady, is a woman who will give all you know? In order to be liked from a well liked opponent, it’s a matter of course to give e~verything.”
Al: “Speaking of reactions, my face is…”
Capella: “Voice, movements, speech patterns. Angle of neck and line of sight, attitude. From chatting understanding your attitude, nature, preferences.”
Capella: “One twitch or one movement, not missing a single one. Putting in the entirety of heart and spirit to be loved, this is the way this lovely lady utterly devotes her all. This lovely lady has already utterly devoted her all like this so… look at this lovely lady. Look only at this lovely lady. Don’t look at anyone else. This lovely lady’s face, body, voice, attitude, gestures allofallofit! Should all be totally completely in line with you~r preferences!”
As she spoke, the voice of Capella – Capella who had assumed Priscilla’s appearance, gradually grew rough. Her claims were a straight line of desire to please, but a line too straight would become a love that would pierce right through its target.
It seemed as if Al couldn’t even respond with shaking his head or reply with words. Could only ready his entire body’s will to fight a response to Capella. At this silent answer, on Capella’s face grew discouragement and contempt.
Capella: “You, a selfish scum male meat… which aspect of this lovely lady are you di~ssatisfied with?”
Al: “Don’t misunderstand. I neither like you nor dislike you, either way is fine… Sorry, that’s a lie. As expected, you’re disgusting so I really don’t like you.”
Capella: “—hk! You fickle rotting male meat!!”
The right arm of Capella who was stomping her feet, from her shoulder began to transform into the huge head of a wolf. The ferociously howling beastly head, at speeds beyond what the eye could process flew toward the frozen Al. In a moment the fangs of the head sharp as blades, completely shattered Al’s upper body with a bite – in the instant before, Al’s flew forward into the gap of approaching canine fangs, flying horizontally to escape.
Capella: “Don’t think you can escape with just that!”
Al: “Like I’d think that! The side! And then the back!”
From overhead the rolling Al, a powerful attack from a hand slammed down. A finger of those giant hands could compare to the height of a human, and being caught in its grip would be akin to being caught by a snake.
However, this attack too was evaded by Al through jumping. And then the wolf’s head whose fangs seemed to want to crush Al’s waist returned, being exactly stopped by the Blue Dragon Sword wielded behind his back.
Al: “Whoaaaaa, Dona!”
Without completely dispelling the momentum of the attacking beast, and maintaining his position of blocking with the Blue Dragon Sword, Al’s body slid forward. The half incanted wall of earth rose from the ground, slamming directly from below into the right arm that had become a beast.
The wolf whose lower jaw had been struck gave a wail, and the shift in mass of her right arm led to the collapse of Capella’s entire form. Seeing this, Al having dodged the left arm’s forceful attack rushed forward.
Al: “Dona! This side too, Dona!”
The Dona that Al incessantly launched was the lowest tier of earth magic.
Whether in power or durability as a wall, both were perfectly aligned with its nature as the lowest tier of magic. Even so Al still relied on this magic, as his best tactic in actual combat.
Forming obstacles, blocking field of vision, forming a foothold – exactly like, he was doing in this moment.
A solidly formed wall of earth, hindered the movements of Capella’s distant right and left arms. In addition Capella’s body itself, was assaulted by a wall of dirt that obscured her frontal vision.
Then, with preparations in place, Al rose into the air — using speed and momentum from earth rising from the ground, launched forward as if with wings.
In the instant when Capella upon hearing these shouts glanced overhead, a flash appeared upon her slender neck, her head flying away.
A face similar to Priscilla’s danced through the air, an exaggerated amount of blood spurting from the wound. Capella’s blood had an unidentified effect of something seemingly poisonous, the very reason for Crusch’s suffering.
Of course, even with warning to not brush the excess of blood –
Al: “Who do you think you’re fooling, you damn liar!”
Stepping into this pool of blood without lenience, Al stuck out his Blue Dragon Sword.
The tip of the blade did not hesitate in the slightest, to reach through the back of the headless Capella, being yanked out from between bones in the chest, adding another fatal injury to an opponent who was supposed to have died. However, it could not stop at this.
Al: “Take this! El Dona!”
Sweeping up the pierced body, Al who flew forward incanted with momentum – a level higher than Dona, an El tier magic using the Blue Dragon Sword as a launch point, to have it begin within Capella’s body.
Of course, Capella’s body was unable to suppress the mass that swelled from inside, and scattered in an explosion.
Bang, with a foolish sound as if in a joke, Capella’s body turned to shreds. Hands and feet scattered and flew away, pink viscera and bright red staining the entire underground space. In the frigid air the pieces of meat even seemed to give off warmth, finally resulting in a result that one could walk away from.
Al: “… How’s, that! Hah, hah, at this point it’s…”
Shoulders heaving as he caught his breath, Al spoke to Capella who had become pieces of meat.
This, anything like this, a creature able to survive after being destroyed to this point simply could not exist. Toward Al’s declaration of victory, an existence that could respond did not exist, or at least that should have been.
Capella: “Ah~ ho~w exce~ssive — ah. No matter what, ordinarily things wouldn’t go so~ far.”
Al: “Damn it.”
The one that had received Al’s insults of disgust, responding was that still airy yet wicked voice.
The voice came not from flesh, but from the direction of the head that had been initially severed — in other words, it came from the place where Capella’s head had landed. Capella’s head from where it had rolled, remained on the ground as it joyously witnessed Al’s reaction.
Al: “Sending your head flying, destroying your heart isn’t enough. Isn’t that breaking too many rules here…”
Capella: “Head flying and heart destroyed, would pose no problem to this lovely lady… Suddenly becoming so without a trace of tolerance i~s rare indeed. This lovely lady, right now, should be tempting you with you~r favorite face, could it have been a slip of the eye? Or could it be that you’re the type who expresses love by inflicting pain?”
Before the Al revealing feelings of helplessness, Capella’s head righted itself.
The severed head moved sluggishly, black flesh that couldn’t possibly have been present gushing out. Forming a head as a pedestal, quivering flesh became limbs, black surfaces hidden from sight by white skin, turning back to — no, completely transforming into a golden haired maiden.
Al: “… And the pieces of meat scattered here?”
Capella: “Since they’re unnecessary, they can dissolve.”
Al looked on with amazement, as the scattered pieces of flesh that had formed Capella’s body started dissolving with a noise. The organs and limbs became a substance like black mud, bubbling as they disappeared. Even their method of disappearing inspired disgust to the point of aesthetic fatigue.
Capella: “Anyway, without hesitation you severed my head i~ndeed. The one from above… se~ems to have been a fake. Wa~sn’t there one whose comrade couldn’t fight anymore, after taking this lovely lady’s blood? Soaking in it like that, wa~sn’t it sca~ry?”
Al: “It wasn’t some kind of bluff. Though I didn’t know what conditions needed to be filled, knowing that being dripped on wouldn’t be the end is something I’ve already tested. Dodged like mad and it was a waste.”
Capella: “—? But you haven’t shown even a trace of an attempt to avoid it.”
Al: “It’s something you couldn’t know about. Head, heart, if both don’t work, next time that severed head will be crushed. No matter how many tries it takes.”
Al’s extraordinarily tired sigh, was even more pained than it had been before this battle had begun. This should have been due to the effect of Capella’s tricks. Extraneous burden that had been placed upon his shoulders after their meeting.
In any case, not a trace of damage was left on Capella’s freshly regenerated body.
In addition to variation and transformation, a regenerative ability to the point of refusing death – with even the typically most fatal attacks on head and heart rendered ineffective, this was truly a genuine monster.
However, difficult to kill did not equate undefeatable.
Al: “There are also methods like freezing the entire body to seal it, or some method like tossing it into the Great Cascade.”
Capella: “I~sn’t despairing after failing to kill an opponent nice, are~n’t you tru~ly an incorrigible trash meat. But, having motivation is well and good, can you actually do it? Se~ems like you’re good at petty tricks like dodging and escaping, are~n’t you lacking a way to actually kill this lovely lady.”
Al: “Indeed even if I died a hundred times, I wouldn’t be able to kill you. In fact, I’ve already gone half of the way… But, aren’t you forgetting something?”
Al placed the Blue Dragon Sword over his shoulder and gave a knock, his helmet making a clunking noise, he pointed his sword and Capella’s head which had turned at this line swiveled.
He was pointing at the City Hall – somewhere outside of it.
Al: “You originally intended to disrupt our home base. We can also imagine that your control tower is completely deserted. Meaning, that the ones who went to attack [Lust] will rush back shortly. As long as I keep up these time-buying tactics, naturally soon you’ll be done with.”
Al: “For your information, my abilities are okay for buying time, no? I’ll try every means to Keep you down, to trap you in here. So, if you’d like to run your chance is now.”
Al locked in battle against Capella in solitude, used the imminent arrival of reinforcements to try to coerce his opponent into retreating. Upon hearing those words Capella raised her eyebrow as if surprised, and toward her questioning attitude Al also responded with a “hmm?”.
Al: “What’s that, your reaction. Even if you have some complaint about my suggestion from just now then…”
Capella: “Do you truly believe that this lovely lady who came alone into enemy territory, wo~uldn’t have prepared measures against the troops you~ sent out?”
Al: “… Huh?”
Capella: “Muscle daruma and swordswoman, were placed along the way. Even amongst our puppets, those two are quite something… Can your reinforcements really get away so easily?”
The unforeseen development drew a sound from Al, who looked at the large hole overhead. As if seeing through his helmet to see his expression, Capella continued with a “by the way”,
Capella: “The Conversation Mirror you had on you is sealed you know? So even if you hurriedly tried to establish contact with anyone else, you wouldn’t be able to reach anyone.”
Al: “How did you do something like that!?”
Capella: “That magic device, the creator se~ems to have been a [Witch]. Rumors about such legends have long been passed down in the Witch Cult. Including things like disrupting the wavelength of the Conversation Mirror.”
Due to the nature of this unorthodox annoyance, the goal that Al had spoken fell empty.
Although Al had no way of ascertaining the truth of Capella’s words, in truth, the two who had been sent from the City Hall to take on [Lust] — Wilhelm and Garfiel will sooner or later clash with her minions. The possibility of returning from a battle between monster and man could only be said to be extremely low.
Which was to say,
Capella: “Lacking a means to fight back at a time like this, isn’t this about the end?”
Al: “… Not having anything, well I wouldn’t go so far as to say that.”
At Al’s vague answer, Capella revealed a faint trace of a small smile.
And in the moment after, the faint smile melted. Once again, the form of the young girl became an amorphous piece of meat, and like this Capella’s mass grew exponentially.
With a gurgling sound, Capella’s form broke the limits of a human form, growing huge.
Delicate maiden, seductive woman, stern young man, serious warriors – her flesh grew enormous with a momentum yet unseen, the underground space echoing with laughter.
And then appearing after a moment was, a dragon of black whose body blended into the shadow.
Al: “… I see, you could even turn into a dragon.”
Considering the fact that there were no divisions of rooms, the underground was much more spacious than the City Hall had been. However, even a space like this could not accommodate the black dragon’s huge body so easily.
Hearing Al’s low voice, the dragon narrowed its golden eyes, and Capella opened her mouth as if to respond to Al. From that mouth, came a merciless scorching breath.
The breath of flame seemed to ignite the very air of the underground, as a white light forced its way close to Al.
An incantation completely overpowered by the roaring sound, created a wall of earth in the scope of that breath. However, faced with the overwhelming temperature the wall failed to mount even a momentary defense before crumbling under the heat — however, Al’s purpose did not lie there.
The jaw of the black dragon which had released the breath, was hit by a suddenly rising wall of earth. The mouth that generated the breath was forced shut, and instead the black dragon scorched its own throat with its flame.
Even so, the flame that the black dragon had spat out before its interruption continued to burn. On his back which tried to escape the range of the heat, the green flame approached—
Al: “Damn it! Dona! Geh!?”
Incanting alongside the stench of burning, a wall of earth suddenly slammed into Al’s side. Using this momentum Al with a backside full of flame was launched into a nearby waterway. Then the instant that his back brushed bottom surface of the waterway, another incantation brought a wall of earth, sending him flying out of the water.
The completely soaked Al flew from the waterway. In an instant, the razor claws of the black dragon had swept across the waterway’s bottom. Tossing up foam, the wall which carried Al out of the water burst into pieces. Although an evasive manoeuvre, the ferocious attack on Al continued, as he endlessly avoided, avoided, avoided.
Using miraculous movements to evade in such an extremely small space, withstanding attacks from behind that should have been unforeseen, his body’s lack of ability was supplemented by his own magic, as he continually avoided fatal injuries.
Al: “Do, Do, Do, Donaaa!”
The now impatient dragon rotated its enormous body, mowing down with its tail.
Faced with this battering wind that drew an arc, Al used multiple incantations to create five earthen walls toward his front — after reducing the threat of this attack as much as possible, used his Blue Dragon Sword to fend against injuries, swept up and hitting the ground to roll several times before staying down.
The dramatic rolling movements lessened the on his body, and Al stood with the Blue Dragon Sword as a crutch. However, the damage had not been completely offset.
Hurriedly through the gap at the bottom of his slanted helmet, a large quantity of vomit spilled.
Al: “Ku, kuu… damn it, on the victim’s side this time… really outta luck here…!”
Capella: “Do~esn’t seem that way though. Considering your abilities, there’s a kind of incomprehensible stupidity in staunchly standing with allies…”
Toward Al who sighed over his current situation, the black dragon Capella gave a rather uncomprehending praise.
Even from her perspective, Al’s desperate defensive battle held an inexplicable sense of bothersome violation. Attacks that should not have been seen through, pursuits that should not have been imagined, Al had all along been using his own ability to survive as long as possible. – As if he’d long known all those choices.
However, neither had the leisure to pursue those idle thoughts for now.
As for why,
Capella: “… Isn’t this rather, a bit too much?”
The reason why Capella who raised her head would say so, were the faint vibrations transmitted from the surface of the ground — and then were, fatal sounds coming from the City Hall that had continually suffered damage.
The foundation of the structure which had seen too many large battles had already suffered a great deal of damage, and then the battle that had taken place underground had given the foundation one final blow. The result was, the gradual widening of the hole that had been the trap to send Capella down, and the cracks spread through not only on the floor but even through the entire building.
The development after this, even a small child could draw a conclusion – collapse.
Al: “Stop kidding around! If this territory comes undone I’ll actually die!”
Seeing part of the floor fall away from above, Al stood through the pain, with laboured steps like this leapt into the flowing waterway.
Along with the sound of water, his body grew distant with the underground waterways. And then Capella seeing him off maintained the form of the black dragon as she gazed upon the gradually collapsing ceiling.
Capella: “Ye~p, interest is wilting. Tired from playing, so forget it.”
With murmured words that seemed listless, the black dragon yawned.
Like this the rarest sight in the world went unseen by anyone, buried under the rubble from the collapsing architecture.
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At the scene of the collapse, echoed a low humming sound.
The sound accompanied the shoving aside of rubble, several slightly larger stones rolling down from a mountain of rubble. Thanks to this impact the mountain collapsed, and from an opening caused by this collapse a white hand protruded.
As if searching for something, that slender arm hurriedly attacked the mountain of rubble and made it cascade bit by bit.
And then several minutes later, finally succeeded in breaking free of the mountain of ruin, was Ferris whose clothing had become ragged.
Felix: “Ku, ku.”
As he coughed, Felix spat out vast quantities of soil and blood.
Was it sand or blood that remain in the gap between his tongue and teeth. No matter which, it didn’t matter at all to Ferris. Right now he just wanted to rinse his mouth.
Ferris: “Didn’t expect the City Hall to collapse. Isn’t this, another death for nothing…!”
Ferris used the inside of his dirtied clothing to scrub the blood from his face. Wiping away what dirtied it like that, would return his face to neat and cute.
It was nigh unimaginable that a human being could be in this condition, just a few minutes after being caught up in the collapse of a five-story building, having been crushed, unable to do anything.
Felix: “Something like that is… that’s right, Anastasia-sama!”
Cat ears pointing upward, Ferris shouted that name as he looked about him.
Volunteering to appear in Crusch’s stead, assisting in this dangerous battle by acting as bait was Anastasia. Having successfully met [Lust]’s ambush as anticipated, although the results could only be described as a tragedy. But, a collaborator was a collaborator.
And in the necessity of determining whether she lived or died, also resided a level of emotional obligation to Julius.
Felix: “If like me, she’d been directly crushed to death…”
Looking around, starting the search among the nearby rubble. In the moment that the building had begun to topple, Anastasia and Felix had been in the same room.
A sudden collapse from beneath their feet, if she’d been caught up in it without any preparation she’d end up the same way. At least if she hadn’t died instantaneously, as long as she could be subject to Ferris’s healing magic she’d be safe and sound.
Felix: “With just a single reply this search would be that much simpler!”
Anything like search and rescue, was not what Ferris’s slender arms were suited for.
Even if helping the injured was Ferris’s especial speciality, but Ferris was ill-suited for the work that lay before healing. Even for the lack of information received from [Lust], Ferris felt an unprecedented sense of toil, and precisely at this moment.
Anastasia: “Ah, Ferris, you too are safe and sound.”
The sound of footsteps that kicked away rubble approached, Ferris who jumped as if startled turned to see a solitary figure. Tugging on the hair that had been dyed green, smiling slightly was the Anastasia he had been searching for all along.
Hem of her clothing which seemed difficult to move in swaying, she approached Ferris with careful steps.
Felix: “Anastasia-sama, are you unhurt?”
Anastasia: “It’s as ya can see. In fact, we here should be saying that. You, Ferris, thank goodness you emerged unhurt from that collapse.”
Although strictly speaking he hadn’t been unhurt, Ferris suppressed his instinctive reply. There was no obligation to reply, any it would not merit a pleasant topic. Closing his mouth without reply, Ferris across from Anastasia surveyed the rubble and scene of collapse of the City Hall.
Ana: “Telling everyone to leave for the shelters in advance, truly was too correct of a decision. This was, quite the grand happenin’.”
Felix: “A grand happening…”
Anastasia frowned as if incredibly troubled, and Ferris as well surveyed his surroundings.
Anastasia calling this a grand happening, was this a circumstance to be able to say so with peace of mind. Although calling it a grand happening wasn’t incorrect, it felt as if missing a touch of seriousness.
Not to mention that the cause of this collapse was precisely —
Ana: “Seems to me, that the cause would be the underground battle between Al and [Lust]…”
Ana: “Being completely buried, digging them out like this would be a bit difficult. If they successfully enter the waterways underground, seems to me there would be a possibility of escaping alive…”
Of course, in that case the possibility of Capella’s survival also needed to be considered.
As Ferris had observed, Capella’s capacity for regeneration surpassed human imagination. Having half her face destroyed by Anastasia’s magic, and not giving any regard to it was truly beyond strange. Just as Ferris’s life continued after fleeing, it shouldn’t have been the result of some unnatural constitution.
Felix: “Speaking of which, where did Anastasia-sama learn such magic?”
Anastasia: “… that, got anythin’ to do with this?”
Felix: “Since I had heard you couldn’t fight, a little bit of surprise can’t be helped.”
During the discussion on how to distribute the combat forces, she herself had been the one who’d said she had no combat ability. Whether Anastasia herself or the artificial spirit accompanying her, had been the case.
However, if that had been the case, what was that magic that had ruined Capella’s face.
Al: “—This topic, I’d also like to hear a bit about it.”
Anastasia kept silent in response to Ferris’s question, and just at that moment the voice of a third person chimed in.
Before the two who turned their heads, was the soaked Al kicking at rubble. Twisting his head so that water poured poured from the opening in his helmet, he approached.
Anastasia: “Seeing ya safe and sound is nice. A successful leap into the waterway?”
Al: “Though about three times I felt like I was dying. Eh, not like it mattered in the end. More importantly, we’ve got something to talk about.”
Anastasia faced forward to welcome the laborer’s meritorious return, but Al unsheathed his Blue Dragon Sword as he spoke. Pointing the tip of the blade as well, she too frowned.
Al and Anastasia stood facing each other, and Ferris was caught in between the two. The places where the three stood formed an exact triangle.
Anastasia: “For this, what exactly do you intend? If this is a joke then I ain’t laughin’.”
Al: “Not like I’m in a kidding mood. Setting aside that cat-eared bro for now, I really can’t rest easy at your survival from this destruction. In addition…”
Anastasia: “It’s merely that there were backup plans. Hiding those was indeed my fault, but as for that I can’t exactly explain it forthrightly…”
Al: “Indeed that could be said to be. The problem here is your attitude. Barely managing to escape from the collapsed building, then chatting idly with a familiar face atop the ruins… From your attitude it feels like your expressions and feelings are completely out of place. Do you know what we call people who can chat like that.”
Regarding the Al who persisted with a hail of questions, Anastasia stopped replying. However, her expression now froze into a sly smile.
And then right before Felix, Al spoke a definitive clarifying line.
Al: “Those kinds’a people, we refer to them as [Witches].”
“Anastasia”: “… really now, isn’t that turn of phrase a little excessive.”
An incredibly philosophical tone of response, gave an impression of quite the sense of exhaustion of feeling.
Sly smile falling away, what emerged afterward was an empty smile that was only in appearance. As if that movement of skin was direct not toward another, but toward one’s self in a self-deprecating manner.
“Anastasia”: “In my experience, [Witch] is by no means a term used in good conscience.”
Al: “Could it be that you’re under the impression that I’m lightheartedly dropping a greeting? Your first impression is right, swindler fox.”
Felix: “What is it?”
The impression of two people who had reached an understanding – watching Anastasia who had changed her tone and Al, Ferris sought an opportunity to interject. Al blocked Ferris with that attitude with his armless left shoulder, his gaze still fixed in Anastasia’s direction.
Al: “It’s something like, the miss still looks like the miss but is different on the inside. That fox with wicked character dangling from her neck… Echidna is inside her.”
Echidna: “This is a result that prioritizes Ana’s survival, it’s just that the result ended up like this. This affair being spoken of with such sincerity, as if I have some malicious intent is really rather distressing.”
At Al’s hostile words, Anastasia – Echidna revealed a troubled expression as she replied. Then Al harrumphed into his helmet with a ‘Hah!’.
Al: “Someone replacing another shouldn’t speak with such a righteous tone.”
Echidna: “Replacing or whatnot is really quite a misunderstanding. From where did such a notion come from?”
Al: “Right down to that fake Kararagi accent of yours, pretending to that miss should serve as evidence. Unfortunately enough, the nature of a [Witch] that can’t comprehend humans was seen through by me.”
Felix: “Act a bit more properly! Like this no matter how long you talk the topic won’t progress!”
At Al’s systematically detailed responses to Echidna, Ferris finally exploded.
Although for information of the situation at hand Al did have a degree of reliability, what mattered most right now was the affair of Anastasia’s body. Her body right now, had indeed been taken control of by Echidna.
Felix: “First of all, is Anastasia-sama fine? It isn’t something like merely protecting her body, but her consciousness flew off somewhere?”
Echidna: “That’s not the case indeed. Ana not being healthy in body and soul wouldn’t do. Because if that weren’t the case there wouldn’t be a need to use the forbidden technique.”
Felix: “Forbidden technique?”
Echidna: “Refers to this condition here. Since Ana’s gate is a little bit complex. It can’t be used by itself. Even with me acting as a proxy, the burden is still incredibly heavy. It’s like that.”
Stroking her meagre chest, Echidna made Anastasia’s expression turn gloomy.
Although Al still propped up his sword with a demeanor of intolerance, Felix forcibly stepped in front of the tip of the blade as he continued discourse with Echidna.
Felix: “Then why did you pretend to be Anastasia-sama, to converse with us?”
Echidna: “Isn’t it more unnatural to abstain from a greeting when seeing your ally safe and sound? Pretending to be Ana herself, was to keep you from spotting our weaknesses. Exactly as I just said, Ana’s body is quite unstable. So I wanted to hide the fact that she’d become one with me… and then was seen through too.”
Felix: “Julius is also… unaware of this ability. After all he hadn’t even known about your existence before this. What do you intend to do about this?”
Echidna: “That’s an issue between Ana and Julius, and the [Iron Fang] as well. For your questions, I don’t feel as if I have an obligation to offer speculation.
Everything had been smoothed. The sense of incongruity that Felix had felt from Anastasia atop the mountain of rubble as well, all stemmed from the differing interior of Echidna whose replies were insufficiently intuitive.
In addition to the fact that her magic had been her protection, was the fact that Anastasia’s body had indeed been protected from the collapsing building – with these two points, Ferris’s previous doubts came undone.
Felix: “Although, that one over there still gives an impression of being unwilling to lower their weapon?”
Al: “… tch.”
As Ferris had asked, Al clicked his tongue as he reluctantly replaced the Blue Dragon Sword within its sheathe. Upon seeing this, Ferris once again looked at his bruised and battered body.
Burns and scrapes, gave a look of being truly injured.
Felix: “Alright, let me take a look and it’ll be healed soon. Uwah, caught here is…! Hya, this slash, it’s miraculous you didn’t die from it?”
Al: “With my ability, turning a fatal injury to a serious injury is the limit. Though it’d be better if I hadn’t lost the gamble… well, whatever.”
The palm of Ferris who tilted his head, fixed even the fact that Al had been wounded.
All that could be said was thanks to the healing properties of the blue and white lights, in the blink of an eye the numerous wounds on Al’s body had been healed. Al having confirmed this gave Ferris his thanks.
Al: “Myself, as well as miss too ended up surviving. Without doubt that [Lust] bastard also has to be alive. One can’t rest easy even with how much she’d be buried by rubble.”
Echidna: “About that.”
At Al’s voice which raised a warning, Echidna lifted her hand. The conversation mirror held in its palm, with her other hand she gently knocked on its surface.
Echidna: “As a matter of fact until the building had collapsed, the conversation mirror had stopped making a single sound.”
Al: “I’d heard. [Lust]… or rather the Witch Cult? Within the Witch Cult there seems to be some way of crippling magic devices. Presumably that suppressed communications with anyone on the outside…”
Echidna: “That’s what I’d thought. It’s just, if it was the Sin Archbishop that caused that she should have fled by now.”
Al: “… Talking in circles.”
Echidna: “Apologies, it’s a habit. That is to say, the function of the conversation mirror has been restored.”
Hearing those words, Al and Felix were simultaneously shocked.
Al was surprised that the conversation mirror could reach others. But Felix was surprised at the cause of the conversation mirror’s malfunction and the elimination of the possibility of the cause.
Felix: “What do you mean? [Lust]’s interference ended… which is to say she’s dead?”
The monster who had ceaselessly boasted of her regenerative ability, dying from being buried by rubble was truly too unbelievable. Just as Al had said, after all the three people present were all still alive.
Toward the undying monster with especial vitality, believing that she’d die like this was truly too difficult. If any possibilities aside from this could be considered —
Echidna: “Receiving a wound to the point of interfering with work. Or the interruption itself is meant to induce carelessness in us…”
Felix: “That, feels a bit incongruent with that awful character…”
Echidna: “Indeed, I think so as well. Should be more daring than just hiding… Such as, taking the form of one of the three of us here? With the original having already died, completely supplanting that existence. That is precisely a tactic that [Lust] would enjoy.”
This speculation of Echidna’s caused Felix to shiver.
Remembering that before the collapse, that monster had assumed a form identical to Crusch. Directly watching that transformation, there was no room for doubt that she had been a fake. Of course, even she’d become Crusch, Ferris was confident he’d be able to see through her, but these two were another matter entirely.
This possibility, made Ferris feel ill at rest. However,
Al: “Don’t get your kicks from saying disorienting stuff, what a wicked nature. The lack of reaction makes it obvious. Of course she turned tail and ran. Leaving after becoming bored of playing, that one is just like that.”
Echidna: “To say something so without basis or reason…”
Al: “Before being crushed, the monster wore completely a disinterested expression. That would be the reason.”
Facing off against Capella all the way to the end had been Al.
If the opponent had been another human such a conclusion would have been astounding, but if there opponent were a Sin Archbishop standards of common sense couldn’t be upheld. Of course even assuming that cautions couldn’t be dropped.
Al: “More importantly. If the conversation mirror is functional, couldn’t contact with the princess be established? That’s what’s most important. Hurry up and help me connect.”
The teams that had left the City Hall with conversation mirrors had been team Wilhelm-Garfiel and team Priscilla-Liliana group. Originally, Al who should be part of Priscilla’s team had at his master’s order remained with the left-behind team. The thought of wanting to confirm his master’s safety could practically not have been more understood.
Echidna: “I see. You don’t need to be in such a hurry… hmm?”
Placating Al like this, Echidna who held the conversation mirror in her hands frowned.
Just as Ferris glanced over intending to ask what had happened upon seeing that reaction, the conversation mirror in Echidna’s hand gradually began to radiate a faint glow. — This was an indication of establishing a connection with another conversation mirror.
And shining from the light within the conversation mirror was —