Virtual Reality. It has been half a century since this technology has been developed and now, VR systems are indispensable for the world economy.
School is attended through an exclusive terminal and classes are taken through internet in the virtual school. To reduce the costs of maintenance of schools, they have been moved to virtual reality and all schools in the real world were gone by now.
Work too did use the virtual reality for the employees to meet the contractors, all documents have been replaced with digital programs which resulted in cost decreases. Even the company buildings have been replaced with facilities inside greatly-cheaper virtual servers dedicated for corporations.
Because everything with exception of physically necessary things could be replaced with virtual items, the virtual technology has continued to make rapid leaps forward.
Of course, there was no way the game industry would not put their eyes on this technology. Although it still required a little expensive equipment, it has become accessible enough to become a highly popular gift for young people’s coming-of-age ceremony. Although the release dates were unstable, VR games have also been in development. Sakimori Kagami was one of the people who received a VR device upon his coming-of-age.
Being able to complete his work through the VR device from home, he could always eat breakfast freshly made by his mother. There was almost no overtime work for him in his very common company, so he lived his time without any complaints at all.
One day, an VRMMORPG called “Ark-Ars Online" had appeared. It started very quietly from a closed beta, which ended soon after.
Kagami has learned of this minor online game’s existence thanks to a late night TV commercial. This commercial had no sound or gameplay, it only displayed the game for fifteen seconds.
When he connected to it from pure curiosity, he found himself in pure white virtual reality with “Ark-Ars Online" title floating in it. And also, two lines of text.
Open Beta Start. Download.
Feeling interested in how the developers did not sugarcoat their game, he touched the download button. Then after he selected “YES", the installation started. A very common font which appeared in the white-dyed world, did not reveal just what kind of game it was. However, there was something that drew him to it. He was unable to describe what it was, but there was something forcing him, manipulating him to play it.
The installation was completed fifteen minutes later. He immediately started the game and a very realistic home screen appeared before him.
Just like that, his days of sinking into “Ark-Ars Online" began.
Four years after the official service has started. Although there was almost no information regarding the game on the net or in the game press, the amount of players rivaled that of large online games. if anything, it was in fact very strange for this many players to enjoy it when it wasn’t featured anywhere at all.
The game content revolved around the very classic fantasy, but the extent of freedom inside the game was its strongest feature. However, there was one very strange thing about the game - it was the management of it. During the four years since the service started, it has been updated only twice. There was no home page for this game, so there was no information on the developers’ policy or even their names.
However, even including that, the game was overwhelmingly appealing and the very fact that it was not regulated, was what made player be able to do so many different things. And above all, there was literally no bugs in it.
The character that Kagami was playing with, was an old wizard brimming with dignity. It took him an entire day to create this character, who with his white hair and white beard, did resemble a veteran wizard and overwhelmed everyone with his presence. The name of this character was taken from Kagami’s most loved wizard characters from hit movies, a school chairman and a wizard whose adventures related to a certain ring.
The name was Danbulf. His class was Summoner. Although during the open beta he chose the Mage class, he had no idea on how to acquire mage spells. No matter how much enemies he beat, he didn’t acquire any and there were no guides or tutorials.
Although the players were dropped into unknown and left as is, learning everything and playing around on their own was what absorbed the players in the game. Still, there was no way to acquire Wizard spells at the time.
Summoners were able to contract spirit-type enemies they defeated to use them, and also had their special summoning quests that allowed them to acquire new summons upon clearing. So while the Summoners had it difficult, there was a little of information displayed for it that detailed some basics.
Of course, there were many people displeased with the inequality, but when they discovered a system where players were able to create countries after clearing some strict conditions, all players have concentrated their attention on that.
Becoming a king, making the city flourish and creating an army. Attacking other countries, making fortresses and protecting them. Hiring guards. Everyone had become engrossed in making all these things, which were limited to stories until now, with their own hands.
And so, there were players who burned up with ambition to make countries, players who became country’s military officers, players who preferred freedom and adventures, players who made secret organizations, became merchants, mercenaries, or even assassins. The amount of things one could become and enjoy had eventually made everyone forget their displeasure.
Moreover, this freedom wasn’t limited to just that. For example, weapons and armors, medicine already had countless types including legendary ones, but players were capable of making completely new items based on their capabilities. They were capable of making legendary-level items or even beyond that. It was even said that it was possible to make anything out of the real world in the game.
Players who have engrossed themselves in the fun of blacksmithing have all become known crafters and a single sword made by them cost millions. Woodworking was also mastered and construction techniques have led to a player even creating a castle. There was someone who dug a hole and found a hot spring and has become a boss of a hot spring town. There was even a person who has opened a doujo and started teaching a swordsmanship style that he has developed by himself.
What skills were out there, what could be done out there? There were people who invented new sports that used spells and techniques, people who lived the dream of a pirate, people who lived the dangerous life of a information trader gathering information from throughout entire continent. Players have challenged countless things and have succeeded in all of them.
Among all of that, there was a person who had separated enormous amount of skills into a list that had various categories. By approaching various players he asked details on various techniques and gathered them into book. This book released as Ability Encyclopedia has become the game’s bestseller and earned the creator a fortune.
Danbulf was actually a prominent figure who has created multiple special techniques. He has gone through painstaking trial and error to correct the rear guard weakness and develop new techniques which led creation of the secondary class. In addition to being a Summoner, Danbulf was also a Daoist, which was his second class. By meditating under a waterfall and doing training such as hanging from a tree for entire day long, he was able to acquire Daoist skills.
By the way, a month after the game’s service has commenced, the way to acquire Wizard spells has been discovered, which involved putting a catalyst on top of a paper with magic circle drawn on it and burning it with 【Flame】 starting spell.
Four years after this miraculous game has started, Kagami become one of the Nine Sages, a country’s important authority.
One day, monsters have appeared near the borders of the country he was affiliated with and he head out to deal with them. These kind of missions were normal and many players affiliated with the same country took part in executing them on rotation duty. And this time, it was his turn to complete the mission.
He left the tower he had used as his base and as he languidly headed towards the border, he received a call from the reality, with a high pitched voice his little sister told him it was dinner time.
After he finished dinner, he once again dived into the virtual reality and noticed he received a mail. Once he opened it, it was written that the web money he had on his account had nearly expired and he was about to lose it.
In Ark-Ars Online just like in other online games there were items bought for real money. They were all items that played a supportive role in the gameplay.
One of these support items was something that pretty much every player had bought at some point, the “Cosmetic Box". It cost 500 Yen each and by using it, the player was able to change the appearance of their avatar. The reason it sold so well, was because the amount of appearance parts that could be changed was incredibly rich.
Although there were several thousands of appearance parts to choose from upon starting the game, when using the Cosmetic Box players were able to access even more, tens of thousands of parts. A majority of players did not put too much thought into making their avatars when first starting the game, so it was common sense to use the the Cosmetic Box to change their appearance however a player likes.
Other than the Cosmetic Box, there was one more popular paid item called “Flying Continent". It a very convenient item that was a hundred meter long and wide like a schoolyard, and allowed the player to do anything they wanted on it. Furthermore, it was capable of flying and moving around so it was used as a vehicle to travel while ignoring the terrain obstacles. This “Flying Continent" cost 2000 Yen. In-game money could only be bought by thousands, so buying a set of Flying Continent and Cosmetic Box left the player with 500 Yen left which would eventually disappear. Although Danbulf did not have any lingering attachments to 500 Yen from four years ago, his frugal tendencies made him think it is a waste and he opened the list with paid items.
There was a crafters’ room with high class tools for 1000 Yen. Various buildings and ponds, including Flying Continent, 2000 Yen each. And the last item, was the Cosmetic Box.
As a result, the only item he could pick up was the Cosmetic Box. It was made so that he could only get the Cosmetic Box or pay more money. As expected of the adult world.
And so, feeling it would be a waste if he lost the money, he bought the Cosmetic Box. His remaining virtual money turned zero.
Afterwards he restarted the game to head for the monster extermination mission. When in game he manipulated the bracelet terminal and opened the item list. In it he found the lacquered box he had just bought, the Cosmetic Box. It has been four year since the last time he used one.
Back then, his only thought was to make an avatar that was a perfect symbol of manliness, so he did not remember what other parts were available for using.
Suddenly, he got a little curious and used the Cosmetic Box on spot to start the character creation screen for the first time in four years.
The parts were separated into various impression-type categories such as “Vigorous” , “Reserved", “Confident", “Weak-Willed", as well as atmosphere categories ones such as “Mysterious", “Solemn", “Gloomy", “Cheerful" and could be searched by selecting those categories.
After looking through the list of parts, what he felt was a strong conviction that Danbulf was the best character ever.
There was no other character that could surpass him. After all, it was his own ideals made flesh. As he looked at the character creator satisfied at his past feat, a single word entered his sight.
Man. It was the gender of the character he had selected. In that moment, a certain thought has passed through his head. It was that he perfectly reproduced his ideal of a man, but, what about his ideal of a woman?
He changed the gender from “Man” to “Woman” and Danbulf had changed into a girl. At the same time, Kagami was assaulted by a slightly ticklish feeling in his chest. Although it was just a game, looking straight at a girl like that made him feel slightly embarrassed.
But he suppressed this feeling... and slightly excited he started picking parts. He selected the “Confident" category and examined the content sorted under it.
He had no idea how long has passed since he started creating his ideal woman. When he finally made up an avatar that satisfied him he grinned as he stared at it. It was then that a call came to tell him it was breakfast time.
Before he realized, the clock displayed seven o’clock in the morning.
And the instant afterwards, a tremendous sleepiness has assaulted him. When he attempted to touch the “Logout” button in the menu, the world turned black and his consciousness drifted away.
Oh right, I fell asleep before logging out. Recalling that he fell asleep right after the morning breakfast call because of doing an all-nighter, Kagami looked upwards while pinching the bridge of his nose.
He had no idea how many hours he slept but, based on the fact that he wasn’t forced awake by his little sister, it could not have been long.
In order to drive away sleepiness, he closed his eyes strongly and then opened them wide again, only to see himself in the middle of a deep green forest. Here and there he saw the ground spotted with flowers he did not know names of, from the gaps of swaying tree branches peeked majestic mountains. Between those mountains, he caught a glimpse of silver towers shining dully.
Startled by the sight of the game he knew he stood there, put a hand on his chin and listlessly started organizing questions in his head.
First, falling asleep when playing an online game was a normal thing. When a player falls asleep while playing, their character stops reacting in any way. However, when it comes to VR games, falling asleep during play forced a game to shut down. The device was set to disable itself in such cases so it was practically impossible to wake up inside a game.
However, no matter how he looked at it, the towers that he could see between the mountains were the “Silver Towers”. They were nine towers, each of which was used as home to a Sage, there was no way he could mistake them.
The first thing he suspected to have happened, was a malfunction. But then, he thought that there was something unusual happening and he stopped thinking about device malfunction. It because he felt something enigmatic, if anything, it was a more important issue.
It was the sense of smell. Whenever wind blew, he could feel the scent of greenery tickle his nose.
Although the VR technology has advanced and became capable of reproducing the sense of touch to an extent, reproduction of sense of taste and smell did not reach usable level yet. This, was the enigmatic part.
And thus, to confirm it he had plucked out some grass from beneath himself and gnawed on it, as a result, he felt bitter and astringent taste spread in his mouth. Unable to bear it, he spat it out together with a large amount of saliva that was secreted, then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. The sense of taste had detestably assaulted his tongue, even saliva secretion was reproduced.
Unable to understand how herbivores could even eat something like this, he stared down the grass which looked to be closer to him than usual. It was then. Suddenly, he heard shouts and the rumbling of the ground from the back of the forest, as well as a blasting roar of metal clashing against metal.
It was a sound he was familiar with.
Oh, right. He recalled that he was on the mission to exterminate the monsters pack that had appeared near the country’s borders. Someone must have been either unlucky enough to meet the pack, or someone else had took his place in fulfilling the mission.
I bet it’s not the second option, he thought with a bitter smile and started running. Just like that he had ran out of the forest to the open grassland beyond it and there, he saw a knight who while raising a banner and displaying a familiar coat of arms, cut down a creature of a child’s stature who had pointed ears and blue face. However, immediately after that, two, three more of blue-faced creatures holding dully-shining knives gathered to assault the knight. It was a true battle.
The plain was filled with two colors, silver and blue. Knights wearing armors which shone like mirrors who raised shouts as they charged were knights of the Arkite Kingdom, the country that Nine Sages were affiliated with. They were part of the Arkite’s elite troop, the Spell-Clad Knights. The enemy that knights were facing against, were the staple of monsters, Goblins.
Faced with that sight, he realized that he must have slept quite some time. He took so long that they ended up dispatching the knight order.
【Summoning: Dark Knight】
When he cast the spell, a hole shining with murky dark color opened in the grass and rising from inside it, appeared a large-builded knight. The knight was clad in full-body armor so black that it made people shiver, from his entire body came out an visual effect that appeared like black flames which wavered ominously. The knight had no face, and instead, in the black-dyed space inside the helmet there was a pair of shining red lights that looked like eyes.
This black knight who released a clearly abnormal sense of presence suddenly appeared in the very middle of the battlefield between the knights and goblins.
Seeing the mysterious black knight, goblins stopped in their tracks and started raising their squeaky voices to intimidate him. Once again, Danbulf felt something to be off.
Goblins did not have a thought pattern like that.
Whenever he fought them, they acted with dauntless courage. So to speak, they did not know their place, and just charged straight at their enemies just to be wiped out. However, no matter how he looked at them now, they clearly made a big fuss as if they really felt fear.
However, there was no point brooding over it right now, thus he ordered the Dark Knight to clean them up.
And then, the place turned into a hellish slaughterhouse. The black longsword cut the wind and caused a gale. Every time it was roughly swung down, five, six goblins were scattered in all directions, letting out death throes and turned into mere slabs of meat.
Eventually, the voices of goblins trying to intimidate the knight had turned into voices of despair. They attempted to run away from this hell, but the Dark Knight who was ordered to clean them up had not a speck of mercy.
Right after the goblins screamed upon seeing the black mass close the distance between them in no time, those who had bad luck to be the closest had been slashed apart and danced in the air. Being shown that, goblins in the surroundings too, were unable to even make a decision to poise themselves against the black longsword which scattered their body fluids and innards to roll around on the ground and filthy the sight.
After the Dark Knight finished a sweep in the nearby location, Danbulf saw groups of goblins led by a goblin of larger build and wearing an armor.
As he let out a dull metallic sound, the heavy-clad goblin raised his voice with impatience. Although he was slow because of heavy armor, he had a fair amount of stamina. Some few of the more cunning goblins used their meager wisdom and flocked to these heavy-armored goblins in order to raise their own chances of survival.
However, that was nothing but foolish when their opponent was the killing-intent filled black knight. The only way for them to survive was to turn around the moment they faced him and escape.
But not even that would save them as the black assassin loomed. By showing off absolute death to them, monsters fell into panic and stopped acting as a group. Like this, the only role remaining for goblins on this stage, was that of a prey.
It all happened in an instant. Goblins did not even understand what hit them as they dyed the earth with their blood.
Just as he was ordered to, without a word, the Dark Knight executed the contract and turned the goblins into corpses.
It all happened within two, three minutes. As the wind blew, the peaceful plain has been stained with blood and appeared like a vision of a massacre to anyone. Between the two colors, the blue color covered the black plain, and a silver color had gathered into a tight formation which remained vigilant of the black knight.
There were about a hundred goblin corpses lying around in this place. Danbulf took a quick glance and confirmed that his mission was over, then dismissed the Dark Knight.
Then once again, he recalled something that bothered him. The smell and taste, as well as goblins’ actions that he saw for the first time. All these factors made him come up to a single conclusion.
There was the third version update.
It was hard to think that the technology reproducing smell and taste which was still in the research stadium was implemented, but it was a fact that his five senses were functioning perfectly. It was very strange for the newest technology be first implemented in a game, but there was no other explanation for this.
As expected of “Ark-Ars Online"s management. The reason the game didn’t shut down when I fell asleep was due to the update, Danbulf concluded.
While he grasped the situation, he noticed a sound of metal rubbing against metal approached him.
The source of this sound was the knight troop. Engraved on the knights’ shields there was the coat of arms of this “Arkite Kingdom", which was a large tree and a moon.
It was the Arkite Kingdom’s Spell-Clad Knights. They used characteristic armor and shields. Wearing first class equipment, their armors reflected light like mirror and blended in with the surroundings, their shields gave them high protection from spells and monsters’ breath attacks.
The person who was most likely the captain of this elite knight troop had signaled with his hand for his subordinates following him to stop, then took a step forward. He had some white hairs mixed in among his silver-grey hair, which he swept back to fix his appearance. His face had deeply-chiseled features and a slanted scar that marked him an experienced warrior. On top of the armor he wore, he had a red cloak which was the proof that he was the captain. Although he was not as dignified as Danbulf, he was a manly man. However, Danbulf had no memory of this man’s face, even though with his position as a Sage, he should know all commanders leading the country’s elite forces.
“I presume that the knight in black armor from just now was a servant-type spell. Was it yours, young lady? Can I think of you as of reinforcements?”
The man thought to be the captain had spoke to Danbulf like that, however, Danbulf did not realize it was him who was spoken to. There was a clear discrepancy in the words the man spoke.
In which case, who did he speak to? Danbulf took a look around. That’s when a goblin’s corpse shook and something jumped out from under it to run off towards the forest.
“Nhm, a survivor…wasn’t it...hm?”
The moment Danbulf spoke these words, he realized there were two more things that felt out of place. One, was that the creature who survived had clearly different features from all a goblin.
And one more, was the bell-like, cutely sounding voice.
Seeing his own appearance reflected in the captain’s mirror-like armor, Danbulf was dumbfounded.
Arkite Kingdom’s Spell-Clad Knights’ official equipment, Mirror-Clear Armor. Its surface which reflected light like a mirror, was much like mirror itself. Seeing his own appearance in the mirror, Danbulf first moved his right, then left hand. As a result, the girl reflected in the captain’s mirror had imitated it. No, it was beyond the level of imitation, she moved with him as one.
And he also had a memory of this girl’s appearance.
She had silver hair reaching waist, azure eyes turned up at the corners, slightly reddened cheeks and nose, as well as facial features that retained some innocence. Although she was still wearing Danbulf’s equipment, the inside of the robe had clearly changed.
Yes, it was the girl that he made as the perfect female image by using the “Cosmetic Box".
How did this happen, she thought and focused all her efforts on tracing back, recalling what happened before she woke up. Meanwhile, the captain was bewildered at the sight of the girl being so distracted that she ignored him.
That was when several of his subordinates ran up to him to make a report. It was about the monster that jumped out from below the goblin just earlier. Apparently it was too swift for the knights to finish it off and it managed to escape.
While the captain had given orders to split the troop into a pursuit and search groups, the girl looked at her hands which turned very small.
The girl whose appearance was reflected in the armor’s mirror was the ideal woman that Danbulf himself had created.
What did this mean? According to her memory, she did not finish the character edition. She dragged out the reason from inside of the well her memory.
Cancelling and logging out...
When she recalled up to that point, her thinking clogged up. She might not have logged out back then. She was assaulted by sleepiness before she could do it. Furthermore, she had a feeling she probably did not cancel either.
She somehow attempted to squeeze out memories of what happened back then, but everything beyond hearing the breakfast call was covered with fog and she could not recall clearly.
While thinking so, she recalled a certain thing and manipulated her bracelet terminal to open a status window from the menu. In there, was displayed a list with various information regarding the avatar.
Her name was Danbulf Gandadore. Her class was Summoner, there was also the country she was affiliated with, as well as her home information. Her Magic Power stat was far above all other stats, but even her physical stats were far higher than that of a regular spellcaster. The additional stats she received from the equipment she wore were also displayed there.
Based on this and her memory there were no issues with her avatar info, so it did not seem like she logged in with a wrong avatar or that her avatar disappear. They were all stats of Danbulf himself whom she played as for four years.
Once she continued to the next page of the status window, the girl lost all hope and her shoulders slumped in dejection.
It was a list of items that were order-made for her as the Sage. Her entire equipment were all first class items and also something that was bestowed to her by the King of the Arkite Kingdom when he had become one of the elders of the Silver Towers. All these items were made by a famous, first-class player specializing in crafting and all made to order for him, so Danbulf was the only one who possessed these items.
The problem, was the avatar displayed on the side of the list. The girl’s appearance she herself made was displayed in the status window, wearing all that equipment. Up until now, it was always a solemn nice guy, Danbulf, who was displayed here in all his dignity.
To confirm what happened, the girl put a hand on the hem of the robe and raised it up to take it off. At the same time, one equipment item field in the status window had changed to display “None".
As she played around with the robe with one hand, she started checking up on her revealed body. Her graceful silver hair that appeared to cling to her skin, danced lightly in the air.
There were small breasts which slightly spilled from her small hands, and white, perfectly clear skin. A very humble butt and two well-fleshed legs. This appearance was indeed the crystallization of female perfection that he made with the “Cosmetic Box".
“HEEEeeyyy! Wait wait waaaait! What are you doing?!”
After the captain finished dispensing others to his subordinates, he screamed in surprise at how the girl suddenly stripped naked. Then, in big rush he removed his own red mantle to put it over the girl to hide her body. The gazes of the knights in the surroundings have all concentrated on the girl’s immodest appearance, but they displayed a self-control of steel as they turned their faces away to watch over surroundings in silence.
“Good grief. Young lady, you’re a woman, you shouldn’t show your skin like that. Our knight troop members are all sincere and honest people so there is no problem, but there are people in this world around whom you shouldn’t let your guard down.”
There is no need to make such an excessive reaction, she thought, but at the same time she saw the knights’ responses and was impressed seeing that all of the knights here were players. Players who had made a little of a name for themselves often took NPC followers to act with them, at first she thought that the knights around were the captain’s followers, but based on their reactions that was not the case. There was no way NPCs could make reactions like these.
Although she did not want to believe or admit it, but truly unfortunately, she had to accept what happened. She did not know where did she make a mistake, but the character edit has been applied.
It must have had something to do with the game update. Concluding so, the girl thought of paying again to purchase another “Cosmetic Box". However, she frowned at the thought that she had to pay 1000 yen despite the fact it the box only cost 500 Yen.
After squirming under the mantle to put the robe back on, she once again opened her status window to check, and confirmed that the avatar inside the window had changed appearance from being naked to wearing a robe.
“That’s an Operator’s Bracelet, huh. So you were an adventurer, young lady.”
Putting back on the mantle that he received back, the captain muttered as he looked at the girl’s arm.
Operator’s Bracelet. That was a terminology the girl did not know, but based on the captain’s line of sight he was definitely talking about the terminal. However, that was an unnecessary question since every player had one of these. This, and the mention of adventurers made a new question appear in the girl’s head.
The knight troop’s captain, moreover, one of the elite Spell-Clad Knights could not be a newbie player. Even if Arkite Kingdom was a small country, it had many good players who affiliated with it for various reasons, which is why what the captain said felt strange. After all, “adventurers" was a word describing players in the first place.
“If you question me whether I’m an adventurer, then of course I am.”
Although she was unsure what was going on, the girl confirmed. I really can’t get used to my voice, she thought. Mixing this extremely cute voice with her usual way of speaking made her feel very indescribable strangeness.
This way of speaking is something she started when the official game service has launched and she started to adventure as Danbulf.
An appearance filled with dignity needs to be paired with appropriate manner of speaking, is what she thought as she started roleplaying as Danbulf. And now, after four years she was used to this way of speaking whenever logged into the game and would speak like this naturally. Getting used to things was a dreadful thing. The girl’s experience in this world won, and even after becoming an actual girl she felt a strange resistance when attempting to change her way of speaking, and was unable to. With that said, it was not an issue that would trouble her particularly so she gave up on trying to change her way of speaking.
“I see, so you were an adventurer. I’m glad we could get help from an adventurer as strong as you, young lady. Still, that black knight, it was my first time seeing something like that - what kind of spell is it?”
The captain, satisfied with the girl’s confirmation, was interested in the girl’s strength. He was especially interested in the identity of that black knight who released that ominous presence, completely unsuited to the girl’s lovely appearance.
“What are you saying? It’s clearly summoning spell.”
She said and activated 【Summoning: Dark Knight】, making a black knight appear by her side. While the knights in the surroundings stirred in response to his overwhelming presence, the captain alone looked at the black knight with curiosity.
“Summoning… This is indeed splendid. I see, so it was an Armament Spirit. How rare.”
He must have compared it with his memories as his expression changed to a thoughtful one, astonished by the size of the black knight which was a level or two above the black knights he saw before.
Among the spirits that the Summoners used, there were Artificial Spirits which were made by humans and Original Spirits that were born in nature.
Although Original Spirits were a higher existence, Artificial Spirits dwelled in the things created by people so they were easy to use and easy to tame. The spirits dwelling inside armament of those who had a long history of fighting were called “Dark Knights" and the spirits dwelling inside armament of those who had a long history of protecting others, were called “Holy Knights".
Although Armament Spirits were classified as low-class summoning spell, they were very easy to use and after using Dark Knights for a long time, it had eventually become powerful enough swordsman to match high-class summoning spells. With that said, it was still a very basic summoning spell, so the girl felt the captain words describing it as “rare" to be strange. However, it was true that it was very rare for summoners these days to use low-class summoning spells. So in a way it was indeed rare.
“Still, I wonder just when did they make a request. Of course, I’m grateful for the help since recently, these kinds of herds appear very frequently, but I wish they’d say a word.”
The captain muttered sulkily, but he had a happy expression on his face. He must have been really busy with monster extermination. However, there was something that bothered the girl in these words. First, the Nine Sages have been taking turns to clean up monsters and that should be enough. And second thing, was that they did not appear all that frequent. After all, it’s been several months since the last time it was his turn to exterminate them.
“Hmmm, once a month, maybe twice a month at most, is it not? I don’t think there is so many of them.”
The girl said as she felt something was off. While there were people who would say that once a month is often, she still felt that there was some kind of fundamental discrepancy between her and the captain’s recognition, that was what felt so off.
“Once a month, huh. That might have been the case ten years ago, but now, we receive at least three extermination missions a month.”
The captain compared his own stature with the Dark Knight’s, and feeling a loss he fell into a slump like a kid, then responded casually.
“Ten years ago...you say?”
The words she repeated were clearly the source of the discrepancy.
“I guess you might not have heard of it since you’re an adventurer. Ten years ago, there was a war with the demons who fell from the sky, it was called the Defense of Three Gods’ Countries. Ever since then, the rate at which herds of monsters appear has increased almost twice.”
“Defense of Three Gods’ Countries… It’s my first time hearing of it.”
“So you don’t know it. Hmm, well, it was ten years ago so you must have been two or three years old back then, young lady. No wonder.”
Was what the captain said, but Ark-Ars Online’s in-game time was moving at the same pace as time in the real world. In other words, not even closed beta was out ten years ago.
The girl manipulated the Operator’s Bracelet like usual and opened the menu. The menu window reminded her of SF anime and movies as it appeared in the mid-air, and this window could only be manipulated by the wearer. To others, it looked as if the person fiddling with the menu was nudging at nothing.
The captain, unable to say anything, only watched the girl manipulate the menu with a mysterious expression on her face.
She selected the history tab which was displayed as chronological table and saw that the historical events were nothing special. However, she was at a loss for words as she stared at the date.
It was the newest historical event that was written in there.
Arks Calendar, Year 2146, April 23 the third prince of the Milston Kingdom was born. The prince was named “Atolzard". That’s what was written there.
What she was astonished by was not the event’s content, the date was the problem. In a hurry she confirmed the current date which was displayed above the history tab, which said it was the afternoon of Arks Calendar, Year 2146, May 12, 3:20 p.m..
“I want to ask. What year, what month and what day is it?”
“Today? It’s 12th of May 2146.”
The answer to her question was a date matching the one displayed in the terminal, which proved that there was no malfunction.
The game started at Ark Calendar’s Year 2112. No matter how the girl thought of it, this was strange. If the game time progressed together with the real time, it would mean that “now" was thirty years into the future.
Moreover, when she looked at the history tab, it was full of events that she had no memory of, including the outbreak of the Defense of Three Gods’ Countries war that happened on June 24th of year 2136.
She grasped a bundle of her silver hair in her hand and brought it to her nose. They gave off a sweet and feminine, vanilla-like scent. When she put the hair into her mouth, there was no taste, but she could feel each and every hair in perfect detail with her tongue.
Based on her memory, the five senses were still at research stage. Although it was possible to recreate them to an extent, there was a limit to that. If this was all a result of a version update, that would have been properly written down in the history tab. In fact, the past two updates were noted down in the tab. However, there was no information at all in regards to the version update that should have happened just the other day, and upon checking the history, she only found two version updates noted down in history.
The current situation might not be the effect of a version update, such a doubt has appeared in her along with anxiety. Then, what was this phenomenon of being able to taste the grass and smell various scents?
This situation was too unrealistic from a technological standpoint, but all of her five senses were far too real.
Then, a certain hypothesis has appeared in her head, an almost impossible one.
When she closed the menu and raised her head, her eyes met with that of the captain who was confused by her eccentric behavior.
“Oh, um, oh right, I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’m Graya, Graya Astol. I am captain of the first platoon of Arkite Kingdom’s Spell-Clad Knights.”
Almost reflexively, the captain has introduced himself as Graya and bowed.
“By the way, I presume you to be an extremely skilled spellcaster, could you please tell me your name, young lady?”
After raising his head he looked at her with curiosity.
Something felt strange again.
Graya’s actions were very natural. He introduced himself to a person he meets for the first time, and curious about the other person he asks them for their name. However, was this how people acted in game? It was the game’s common sense that by inspecting the other person you could see their name written in sight, projected above the target’s head. Your name was relayed to the other person without the need of introductions, it was something one need not ask about. However, Graya did introduce himself and asked for the name of this spellcaster who went far beyond “extremely skilled", the Arkite Kingdom’s Sage Danbulf.
It was not self-conceit. There was just no way that a member of the elite troops of the Arkite Kingdom would not recognize this name. It felt unnatural.
“Can’t you inspect it?”
A hypothesis flashed in the girl’s head again, so she posed a question as to confirm it.
“Hmm… A spellcaster as skilled as you, young lady, would definitely be famous but forgive me, as I am illiterate and have no memory of you. My apologies. Hey, does anyone know?”
Everyone shook their heads at Graya’s question, saying that it was their first time seeing her.
“Hm-mm, I see, mm...”
Among players there apparently were people who thought it was rude to inspect others without permission. But if such a person is permitted to inspect, they would have done that. Although her appearance has changed a lot, there was no change to the fact that she was one of the most important figures in the Arkite Kingdom, the Sage Danbulf. However, even with this many people here, no one could tell.
And the hypothesis the girl has thought of, was that the people in here were not capable of inspecting others. The response that came from the captain made that hypothesis feel real.
They were people against whom the players’ common sense did not apply and their thinking was also different from players. In other words, it was necessary to abandon the thinking of “a player would…" and change the way she recognized them, is what she thought of as she put a hand on her chin and growled “hrmm".
Based on the information she has gathered she made a new hypothesis. As a result, the hypothesis she had discarded earlier as impossible has resurfaced.
“Oh, I’m really sorry. As you can see, all of us are good for nothing but our swords so we aren’t familiar with adventurers.”
Seeing the girl fall silent, Graya misunderstood that he had caused her to fall in shock and started to follow up on his words. The other knights also showed apologetic expressions. Based on how they acted, the girl has changed her recognition of them, there were enough factors to acknowledge they had actual will, but were not players.
Realistic five senses and people who were neither NPCs or players. These two things were too much for VR to reproduce, as a result, the girl has retracted the hypothesis of the version update that she made at first.
And then, finally an urban legend-level hypothesis has stuck inside her head and would not go away. She attempted to discard it completely, but the current situation made her unable to completely give up on it.
Yes, that this was reality. It was a crazy conjecture, but it was also true there was enough basis for her to be unable to deny it.
There, she recalled a way to prove whether this was a game or not. It was use Logout, a command to quit the game.
(“Looks like I was fairly confused.”)
Mocking herself like that, she opened the menu and selected the “Logout"...or rather, she attempted to. But she could not. Not just that, the very option to log out was gone from the menu. Furthermore, the command to forcibly shut down the game for when it has frozen was also gone.
It was fair to say that this was a big and decisive factor.
In which case, it was a question on whether this was the world she knew or not.
“Hey, do you know of the one called Danbulf?”
This question was made in order to judge that, involved the girl’s own name who should be a historical figure now.
“Of course. There is no person in this country who doesn’t know Danbulf-sama’s name.”
Graya responded like so with a somewhat prideful expression. Then he continued by saying "Right, everyone?”, which resulted in everyone nodding strongly as if it was obvious.
“I see, so you know him.”
Based on this answer, the person called Danbulf did exist, or existed in the past. And it was a person of the same sex and name as he was thirty years ago.
“Do you know what kind of person was he?”
She asked further, making Graya tilt his head in puzzlement.
“What kind, you ask. Like I said earlier, there is no person in this country who doesn’t know of him. If we’re speaking of Danbulf-sama, we should talk about the “Times of Turmoil" when he was active and has become the country’s hero. He was the elder of the Silver Towers and nicknamed “Danbulf the Army", a Summoner Sage feared by the foreign countries.”
The content of what Graya said had completely matched what the girl remembered. Also… she learned that even the chuuni nickname has been firmly remembered.
“Ohh...a Hero, huh.”
“Indeed. It is said that during the war after founding of our nation, he managed to resist the enemy army’s advances and thus attained our country an opportunity for victory. I also heard that together with a small team composed of Elders he managed to throw the enemy army into confusion. Furthermore, he is the inventor of Energy-Refining techniques, techniques that very few people these days are capable of using, and it’s also said he was capable of using powerful Daoism. With that said, it’s not all about Danbulf-sama, as there is plenty stories of other Sages as well.”
The events that Graya spoke of were actual things that she remembered to have happened. Whether it’s the war or the secondary class being Daoist, or whether it was about Energy-Refining which was a technology that Elder Danbulf had developed. In other words, her past self, Danbulf, was without doubt now treated as a legendary hero.
“Hm-mm, I see, mm. And so, what happened to this Danbulf in the end?”
The girl threw out the question that would give her decisive information.
“The end…? Mm, I didn’t hear anyone mention his death… This is something that happened thirty years ago, but apparently one day, he headed out to exterminate monsters that appeared at the country’s borders and it’s said he was never seen again after that. There was no way mere monsters would be capable of beating Danbulf-sama, so back in the day the country organized search, but was unable to find him.”
"...I see, so that’s how it was after all.”
An answer confirming what she recalled from yesterday has returned. There was a connection to back then. In other words - there was enough information to conclude this was the same world but thirty years into the future.
The game turned real. Although she did not know what kind of reasoning was behind it, but for the time being she decided to settle down on this answer and stopped thinking for a moment.
The problem was, whether he should honestly introduce himself as Danbulf here. It was one thing if she did that in other countries, but it was a famous name in the country she was affiliated with. Danbulf was a solemn and dignified Summoner as well as one of the Elders of the Silver Towers. And based on what she heard just now, a legendary hero.
And that legend was now...turned into a lovely little girl. When the girl imagined the cold gazes she would receive after she returns back to her original appearance, she realized just how unfathomably dangerous the situation was and trembled.
As a result, she concluded there was no other way but to lie her way out.
I will have to use the fact that Graya and the others are incapable of using “Inspect" function. Deciding so, the girl chuckled in secret. She employed her cunning completely for the sake self-protecting her honor.
Her official stance on this: even if the hero from thirty years ago has reappeared, as long as he looked like a young girl, no one would believe him anyway. Even if she managed to make someone believe her, people would ask how did that happen, but she could not just tell them that she was trying make his ideal female image. If that happened, it would deal a fatal wound to his image.
“Now then, you asked my name haven’t you. The name is Mira. I’m still a novice, and hence it’s natural for you not to know of me.”
And thus, the name that she spoke was not that of Danbulf, but a fake name that she made based on her real name.1For those wondering how did this happen - it went like this: Kagami (鏡) → Mirror (ミラー) → Mira (ミラ)
While saying all this she put a hand on her chin, but since Danbulf’s beard was not there she suddenly felt uneasy. The girl, Mira, had become worried about her own future prospects.
The Milete Forest near the Arkite Kingdom’s borders. On plains spreading near this forest there were large flames burning up into which the knights threw large numbers of Goblin corpses. The black smoke rising up to the sky from the flames was very dark, and despite rising up to heavens, these flames felt as like they releasing a wriggling miasma from hell.
“Mira-dono, is it. I’ll remember it. Still, I didn’t know summoners were this powerful.”
“This much is normal.”
The Spell-Clad Knights captain Graya has left all of the clean up to his subordinates, and the ex-Sage Mira who was responsible for the mountain of corpses, also left all the cleaning to others. With the corner of their vision the two watched knights work busily as they continued to talk.
“Even if they’re just goblins, to be able to annihilate this large group of them so one-sidedly at your age means you must have had a great teacher.”
Said Graya and stared intently at the sword held by the Dark Knight that stood beside Mira.
“Hm-mm, well, something akin of that.”
She had no such thing as a teacher, but it was better to leave it at that. Thinking it was a pain to think of excuses, Mira nodded with a confident expression. At the same time, one of the knights ran up to Graya.
“Reporting. We were unable to find the monster that escaped. The pursuit team has returned for the time being. The search team continues the mission.”
“I see. I’m curious about this unfamiliar monster, but it can’t be helped. We will have the search team continue while we will return to base for the time being.”
After receiving the report, Graya called the messenger and gave out orders. Meanwhile, the knight who came to report had fearfully inspected the Dark Knight.
“Curious about him? It’s summoning spell’s Armament Spirit, a Dark Knight.”
Graya spoke in voice full of confidence, as if he was boasting about himself.
“Summoning? That’s unusual. I did hear about Armament Spirits…but I did not expect them to be this intimidating.”
“Yeah, I was surprised as well.”
While the two were talking, Mira focused on a certain wording in their conversation.
That is, them saying that Summoning is unusual. Certainly, when it came to the amount of summoning spellcasters, they were one of the less popular spellcaster classes. By the way, the most popular spellcasting class were Holy Mages, which were a class that used healing and support spells, and were essential to any party, which was the reason for their popularity. Still, summoning was not as unpopular as to be labelled unusual.
When it was still a game, the moment you selected Summoner class, you received access to the bare minimum of required skills.
And the Summoner’s basic skill was the 【Seal of Contract】. It was a skill allowing you to form a contract with the spirit you beat and then summon them as servants, but this skill had no attack power at all. This was the reason why summoners were called a high-difficulty class, and also the reason that deterred people from playing it.
Just beating Armament Spirits was not very difficult. You could call a friend or hire a mercenary to do it. However, to make the Armament Spirit a summon, it was necessary to for the Summoner to completely beat the Armament Spirit on their own.
Of course Mira too, or rather, Danbulf, walked that path. She brought a large amount of healing and bomb items, then spent about two hours exchanging blows with an Armament Spirit at the “Ancient Speladius Battlefield" before she finally managed to contract it. Like that, she acquired a Dark Knight, a basic spirit summon who was very easy to use, and to whom she had a lot of attachment, a partner who was with Danbulf for a long time now.
However, this was not something anyone could do. Players who read the instructions on the bulletin boards often judged it too difficult and avoided picking summoner class.
Still, it was not like there was no Summoners around. In fact, there were plenty of people who looked up to Danbulf and made new characters to become Summoners, there were also people who decided to pick Summoner class after reading stories of his various feats.
However, according to what the two knights were saying, the Summoner class has become unpopular again, which made Mira worried. Especially that since thirty years have passed, it was very likely to be true.
Thirty years. It was not a short period of time. It was beyond Mira just how many things might have happened in the meanwhile.
“Mm, there is something I want you to tell me.”
Wanting as much information as possible, Mira has asked Graya several questions while knights were preparing for returning to base.
“Farewell then, be careful on your way back.”
“That’s my line, is what I want to say, but it appears that you are far more skilled than we are, Mira-dono, so I can’t refute.”
Said Graya and laughed in loud voice, then extended his right hand.
“Thanks to you this time’s incident has been much easier to deal with. With your great skills I would love if you came and worked our weaklings until they’re usable.”
“Mmm, then, if I have time maybe I will come pay a visit.”
Mira responded to Graya’s half-jokingly made proposal and squeezed his hand, then smiled cheerfully.
“Sure, we’ll be waiting.”
He responded and together with other knights headed back to base. A moment later, a tragic but brave scream sounded from among the knights.
Mira stood in the middle of plain where the remains of the burnt goblin bodies were, and organised the information she acquired.
Graya had politely answered all the questions she asked. As a result, she mainly acquired information on the Arkite Kingdom’s current situation.
Out of nine Sages who fulfilled role of Elders and were the cornerstone of the country’s defenses, eight of them were missing and their duties were taken over by substitutes who managed the towers on their behalf. In other words, Danbulf was not the only Elder who disappeared thirty years ago.
Apparently, within a year since Danbulf’s disappearance, all Elders have disappeared from the Silver Towers. But luckily, one of them, the master Wizard “Luminaria the Disaster", was said to have suddenly returned ten years after her disappearance.
The disappearance of all Elders has been kept secret by the higher-ups of the country, but with Luminaria’s advice as the basis, the country had officially announced the disappearance of the Elders. Even now, Elders’ aides and the tower’s most skilled researchers continued to act as Elders substitutes, managing the towers. However, the difference between the Elder substitutes and the missing Elders was large, and the substitutes were at their limit.
Elder Luminaria, it was a very familiar name to Mira.
She was a spellcaster just like Mira, and one of Mira’s best friends since the official game service has started, and with whom Mira worked hard together to improve herself.
Luminaria had long, vibrant crimson hair and features displaying strong will, she was tall like a model and had plentiful breasts. That was the Luminaria that Mira knew well. And since on the inside she was a man, they were able to talk about dirty things together without restraints, though he still had fresh memories of the discomfort caused by her appearance when they talked about dirty stuff.
Just like Danbulf, she disappeared thirty years ago and was in the same situation. In other words, Luminaria, also a player, disappeared at similar time as Danbulf and had appeared again.
And Danbulf too, had now reappeared, although after a different time. Though, his appearance was now different.
Mira decided in her head as to where to go next. It was highly possible that Luminaria, who was in the same situation, was the very same player that Mira knew. Mira might be able to learn something on the current situation from her.
The goal is the Arkite Kingdom’s Heavenly-Demon City “Silver Horn". The land where all spellcasters of the continent gathered in.
When Mira started walking from the grassland into the path through forest towards the Silver Horn, the blue sky seen between the branches began to get tinted itself with vermilion color. She checked the current time in the menu window which was displayed in the space in front of her, and found that it was past five o’clock in the afternoon.
According to her memory, it took about an hour to reach Silver Horn from the plains, but she hasn’t traveled even half of the way. The reason for that was simple, Mira kept making detours. She stared curiously at butterflies sucking the flower nectar, got creeped out by worms that appeared from inside earth and such. It was all because the sense of presence that was not there when this was still a game, had stimulated her curiosity.
Right as she was about to close the menu, Mira recalled that she put an apple pie inside it before. She was starting to get hungry, so she touched the icon with her finger and it appeared on her hand like some magic trick.
Mira squinted and stared at it. This apple pie was in the item box for a week already, and according to the current time and date, it was something purchased thirty years ago, but she could not find any changes to its appearance.
Slightly hesitant, she moved her nose right next to it and was able to smell the sweet scent of vanilla spreading in her nostrils, and at the same time, her stomach squeaked.
Resolving herself, Mira opened her mouth wide and bit into the apple pie. At the same time, a crunchy sensation and the apple’s sourness and sweetness filled her mouth, clearly stimulating her sense of taste.
In which case, this time she opened the item box to take out Apple au Lait. This one, was an item that could be said to be all spellcasters’ very basic equipment. A drink made out of milk with apple added into it, itraised recovery speed of Mana which was the source of all Magic Power.
Smelling the faint scent of apple, Mira sipped some of the yellow-tinted white liquid.
Reflexively, she leaked her impression of the taste. The two food items she tried were perfectly fine when it came to mouthfeel, taste and how they felt in the throat. If anything, Mira, who had never eaten an apple pie in real world, was very impressed and felt like it was the tastiest thing she ever ate. Apple au Lait was also something she had yet to see in the real world, but the sweetness and taste of it were to Mira’s liking.
“Phew.”, Mira exhaled and watching the clouds flowing in the sky, she felt the world with all her senses.
The feeling of wind swaying her hair, the scent of greenery tickling her nose, as well as moderate exhaustion from physical exercise. And the tastiness of apple pie and Apple au Lait.
Countless signs of realism surrounded her without asking for permission. This much of circumstantial evidence and her careful grasping of the current situation made it more and more likely that this was reality.
There, Mira had arrived at a certain answer for the time being.
That she needed to act from here on while taking it as basis that this world was real. Even if she turned out to be wrong, it would just turn into a good laugh. It was not a problem. However, if this really was reality and she did not treat is as such, she might end up doing something that cannot be undone. She might die for real if she is careless, and she might kill someone who will not come back. There might be a situation where she leaves someone to die, only to be tormented by regrets afterwards.
The first thing for her as a human living in this world she needed to do, was to quickly meet Luminaria who should know something. And thus, she turned her gaze back to the forest path and started walking.
After a while, it appeared in front of Mira.
A gray body and ferocious eyes. Saliva dripping from its protruded canines. It let out a low-tone growl as it approached its prey. Mira knew the appearance of this beast.
It was a Sabre Dog, a monster that was said to be the first hurdle of novice players.
These surroundings were Sabre Dog’s territory. There was no one else around her, and she, a weak girl, moved far from the town to walk the forest path. It was a foolish action that could be called a suicide.
No matter who looked at her, it was impossible for anyone to judge her abilities based on her looks. At most, they could suspect she was a spellcaster due to the robe she wore. However, even if she was a spellcaster, the young girl looked to be still a trainee. If there was an adventurer nearby, there would be 100% chance that he would jump in between her and the Sabre Dog.
And that was also how she must have looked to this Sabre Dog. He decided that her small body marks her a weakling.
The Sabre Dog was above a meter tall and even an adult would be in danger when meeting him without any prior preparations.
The hunter’s eyes were filled with lust for blood, having no intention of letting the easy prey which appeared to escape, he carefully closed the distance between them.
Facing him, Mira protruded her hand. She attempted to use a skill in the same way she always did, that moment, the Sabre Dog’s eyes were dyed with fear. But at the same time, something collided with his body and turned it into a red flower dyeing the trees behind.
In the game, Sabre Dogs were a just a little higher above the lowest ranking monsters, in other words, they were opponents weaker than goblins. What Mira did to him, was using her secondary class’ basic Daoist spell 【Daoism - Heaven: Impact Wave】. It was a spell that only sent an impact wave forward to attack enemies, but when used by a spellcaster on Mira’s level, it was a spell lethal enough to easily erase a weak enemy.
“No problems it seems.”
Mira already used Summoning before, so she tried to experiment with Daoism this time. And through this experiment, she was convinced that she was able to use spells in the very same way she used them when it was a game.
After protecting herself from danger like that, Mira continued to walk without turning to look back.
The sun set and the sky and countless stars started to shine in the sky. The sight of the stars was the same as it was when it was still a game, which naturally made city-dwellers leak a voice of admiration.
After finally arriving at her goal Mira, waved her hand to the guard saying thanks for his hard work and passed through the gate, just to stand there, astonished for a moment by how much the city had changed.
However, it was no wonder. The walls surrounding the city have grown much larger and the city has grown at least three times compared to how Mira remembered it. Only the city’s symbol in the middle of the city, the nine towers called “Silver Towers" remained the same to prove her this was the great city of Silver Horn.
“Mm, it’s only natural since it’s been thirty years.”
Mira muttered so in order to convince herself as soon as possible.
Then, she started walking towards the towers, which were now much farther from the entrance to the city than before. Multiple citizens walked the main road in various directions, going home after work, and were often sighing.
Mira’s appearance was lit up by moonlight and the city lanterns, this, together with her young facial features had made her appear out of place on the evening road, drawing in people’s gazes.
And while she herself hasn’t noticed it, people who captured Mira in sight were all worried about the young girl walking alone in the evening. They tried to speak to her, but had their gaze stolen by her fascinating beauty, and displayed various reactions to her.
But that could not be helped. As expected of Mira’s appearance, which was made with the goal of creating an image of a perfect woman, it was beautiful enough to take people’s breath away. Of course, the creator herself was also someone who would make such a reaction in a similar situation.
Surely, the knights with whom she had separated at noon would receive praise for withstanding the sight and not staring captivated.
After reaching the end of the main street, there was a four meter-tall wall and a gate that stopped her in her tracks. Behind the wall, there was the sight of the Silver Towers protruding grandly into the sky and reflecting the light of the moon. They were so tall that it hurt Mira’s neck when she looked up.
In order to enter inside the Silver Towers’ premises, one had to pass through this gate. However, the gate had special authentication spell embedded into it which did not allow unrelated people to enter.
To enter, one needed to have an authenticator issued by the Silver Towers’ Administration Bureau which was limited to a few uses, have Silver Key that proved one’s identity as a tower’s researcher, or have one of the nine Master Keys which had nine towers engraved on them and proved the owner to be the Elder, a highest hierarchy member of a tower.
Thanks to the existence of this gate there was no need for guards here, and there was almost no people in front of the towers.
But then again, to Mira who was an Elder herself, this was no obstacle...or that’s how it should have been.
However, when she walked in front of the gate, she realized there was something off.
Before, the gate automatically opened when she approached it, but it did not respond in any way now. Acting like she always used to, she walked forward without confirming what was ahead of her and ended up bumping into the gate before taking a few steps back.
“What’s going on?”
Mira looked up at the gate and walked right next to it, tried jumping away and forward, moving back and forth. However, the gate appeared not to be impressed by her antics and refused to laugh, as if it was watching an unfunny kid, it would not open its mouth leading inside.
Muttering again, Mira recalled all she could about the gate. Authenticators, Silver Keys and Master Keys. As the Elder of the Tower of Summoning, Mira naturally had a Master Key. Recalling that, she opened the item box and displayed the list of special items.
From among multiple item icons, she confirmed that there was the Master Key and tried taking it out. Although it was called a key, it wasn’t a key that could be inserted somewhere, and had a shape of a card. It had nine towers engraved on silver surface, of which one tower shone with gold color. This shining tower was a sign that this was a Master Key.
There was no sight of any problems with the key. Wondering what is going on, Mira started playing with the key in her in her fingers, then put a hand on her chin. That was when, the gate opened without any context.
“This is...hohooh, I see, mm.”
When she put the master key back into the item box, the gate closed. And when she took it out again, the gate opened. Up until now it worked even when inside the item box, but it appeared that the gate was unable to authenticate people if the key was inside the item box. After realizing this, Mira has repeated this multiple times as if to take her revenge on the gate by playing with it.
The method of the gate’s usage changed a little, but there was no problem as long as she knew how to use it. Mira passed through the gate and then threw the Master Key back into the item box.
Inside the Silver Towers premises, there was a large lawn spreading and a few of the the towers’ researchers could be seen busily going in and out of the towers. It was already time for all work to be over, but the tower researchers weren’t bothered by it.
Since it has been thirty years since the era Mira has known she was worried about what’s going on inside the towers. However, this place alone did not change at all, in any age spellcasters were blindly devoted, she thought, and heaved a sigh half astonished and half relieved.
The wide premises of the Silver Towers complex had nine towers that were built to make a circle. From the front and according to the rotation of the clock, they were “Tower of Wizardry", “Tower of Holy Magic", “Tower of Onmyoujutsu", “Tower of Exorcism", “Tower of Summoning", “Tower of Necromancy", “Tower of Daoism", “Tower of Assimilation"2This one put me through some trouble. There is no clear meaning for original Japanese used for this spellcasting school. Even after searching through Japanese dictionaries and sources I could not find one. But there are vague mentions of it which suggests it has a meaning of conquering evil and making that power part of oneself. There are also sources and translations where it's used in terms of being possessed by evil, or devil. And then, there is how this spellcasting school actually works in this novel: it’s all about making monsters’ powers part of your own (there’s more than one method for that). TLDR: This school of magic can "assimilate" monster spells and abilities hence my naming., and “Tower of Abstract Magic" standing one next to another.
Luminaria, whom Graya had mentioned, was an Elder who mastered Wizardry. In other words, if she was here, then she will would most likely be inside the Sage’s room that was at the top of the tower.
Mira turned towards the tower straight in front of her and started walking. As she walked, there were several spellcasters who stared at Mira, puzzled.
There was no need for any key to enter a tower, so Mira just entered it.
The inside of the tower had an open space in the middle extending all the way up, as a result of which it gave people entering it a sense of liberation. It had multiple facilities in shape of a doughnut on every level. After placing such facilities one on top another for multiple levels, it had eventually turned into a tower. And the spiral stairs had connected all the floors, all the way to the top.
Every time the amount of people using the tower increased, the tower was expanded and before long, it had reached the height of thirty floors. As to be expected, using stairs with this many floors took a lot of time, so in every tower an elevator using Abstract Magic was built.
Abstract Magic did not have just one congruous method of acquiring spells and included many spells with unique effects. Based on the player’s ingenuity it allowed the spellcaster to create things like light or motor power, resulting in many useful spell types. The towers’ elevators was also a result of a player’s ingenuity.
Indeed. This tower was built by players.
It all started soon after the game has officially launched its service, dating back to when the spellcasters still haven’t found ways to acquire spells.
Every player, upon starting the game had to choose to start in one of three countries. These three countries were called the initial countries, and when the player reached a certain rank, they were forced to leave those countries. When no longer affiliated with the country, the players received multiple restrictions which were forced on them while they lost the country’s support at the same time.
First of all, when the player died he received a horrifying penalty of losing all items they had in their item box, making them impossible to fight any more. Furthermore, their body would weaken for an entire day to the point where they were completely unable to fight, and it was was quite costly to travel past the country’s borders, too.
When the player was affiliated with the country, he did not lose his items and did not weaken, was able to recover completely within affiliated country just by resting a few minutes, the traveling fees were dirt cheap and they were able to use country’s facilities for free. This, was a support of the country.
Of course, that was not all though, as players had to pay taxes, but even despite that, being affiliated with a country was very charming prospect. And yet, everyone eventually ended up being heartlessly kicked out of the country. At first people showed varied reactions to this, but eventually started thinking “it can’t be helped since this is Ark-Ars Online" and laughed it off.
And when people started to get used to the fact they had no home to speak of, the first players started founding countries. With this, even after leaving the three initial countries it became possible for players to get affiliated with a country and get access to a country’s support. And when the rush for founding countries started, it had eventually moved into the era of wars over land.
Players who became the country leaders paid big money to employ mercenary players, who along with players affiliated with the country have participated in war.
A player who achieved a fairly high level in the game was about as strong as ten NPC soldiers and could do just as much.
The bigger the countries were, the more players joined them. From there on, these countries were capable of making big money in order to employ higher rank players with it, leading to easy victories in war. Such situation started expanding all over the continent, eventually becoming a wide-known problem.
And as the gap between small countries and big countries grew, the big countries started assaulting little countries to make them into vassal states, which made it difficult for any new countries to appear.
In such world full of chaos and disorder, players who were various countries’ leaders have met together and decided to form a treaty.
The “Country Power Ranking System”.
This treaty between countries had split countries based on its land size, economy and military power into five ranks and put a limit to the number of players capable of participating in a war based on the rank of a country.
The biggest characteristic of this treaty was that the maximal number of players allowed to participate was based on the amount of players in the smaller countries, and that players who participated in war were selected randomly.
Furthermore, the players allowed to participate were split in between the people affiliated with the country, and the mercenaries whereas at least 70% of the participating combatants had to be affiliated.
Thanks to this, it became easier to balance the players strength, increased the importance of NPC soldiers, as well as made it possible for situations where individual player’s abilities could decide the entire battle’s outcome.
However, a new problem has surfaced. Back in those days, players who choose spellcaster classes were only capable of using basic spells they had from the start. While they were capable of participating in parties in the opening zones, after everyone moved out of those beginner locations, started the age where spellcasters became a mere burden to other players.
It was a common sense that spellcasters were a weak class and because of this treaty, they completely lost their place in the world. Countries’ leaders couldn’t afford to spend precious places for affiliated players on spellcasters who were worth less than five NPC soldiers because that could lead to the country’s defeat.
And thus, persecution of spellcasters started behind the scenes.
The Arkite Kingdom in the Southeast of the continent was a small country that was born during this warring period. According to the treaty, the newly founded countries could not be assaulted by others for first four months since their foundation, so Arkite Kingdom was not involved in war right away. However, there were multiple small and medium-sized countries in the surroundings, so at this rate Arkite would become an easy victim for them.
However, the country was not doomed. It was because the Arkite Kingdom’s King Solomon and Danbulf were friends since open beta.
At a time when spellcasters standing was very complicated, Solomon still invited Danbulf to his country despite that.
After that, a rumor had appeared that there was a country that accepted spellcasters, and spellcaster players have started gathering in Arkite to request affiliation with the country.
The player called Solomon had been watching for a long time how Danbulf struggled with his class. Thanks to that, he knew how difficult it was for them, and also knew just how much effort they put into improving.
Therefore, when Solomon accepted all the spellcasters who gathered requesting to join the country, a certain interesting phenomenon started to occur.
It was exchange of information between spellcasters who felt close to one another. It was already hard enough to find methods to acquire new spells, so if a player found a new spell no one else knew, they would acquire a definite advantage. It was an age where such information could be sold for a high price.
However, the comrades who gathered in this country started to teach each other the methods of acquiring spells, and their effects.
Solomon himself has given up on standing chance in war, but the affiliated players have not. Wanting to be of use to the Arkite Kingdom which accepted them after they were chased away from their countries, all spellcasters gave up on trying to on-up one another and started working together towards improvement of spellcasters as a whole.
In that, Solomon saw a chance for victory.
He provided the spellcasters a part of the land, where gathered spellcasters could build nine facilities for each of spellcasting schools. These were the beginnings of the Silver Towers and the moment of birth of Arkite Kingdom’s greatest war potential which enabled it to protect itself from large countries.
To this world, it was something that happened over thirty years ago. While indulging in nostalgia, Mira entered the elevator and headed straight for the Sage’s room.
This elevator was unlike elevators in reality, as it appeared like a transparent tube with floor being a thin circular circular stone that had a magic circle drawn on it and which could rise upwards or descend. On every floor there were passages leading to the elevator which formed a sight that when looked upwards, reminded people of fish bones, eventually earning the elevator nickname of Fishbone Elevator. That, too, was something from over thirty years ago.
The top floor of the Tower of Wizardry dubbed “Sage Quarters", was split into Elder’s private rooms, the research room, office and the aide’s room.
When the translucent field preventing entering or leaving the elevator had split from the middle and opened upwards and downwards at once, Mira moved forward and off the elevator. After walking through a passage made of a transparent tube, she entered a circular corridor and in front of herself, she found the research room.
“Hey, Luminaria. Are you heeere? Answeeer me!”
Mira formed a fist with her hand and started pounding on the door. Along the young girl’s bell-like voice the door also screamed due to reaching its limits.
Ever since Luminaria had become an Elder, she often holed up inside the research room. In other words, that room had the highest probability of her being inside.
This is why Mira always started by knocking on the research room’s door, after which Luminaria would open the door saying “Stop hitting with all strength!” and released a kick at Mira. But this time the usual exchange did not happen, so Mira stopped knocking.
“Is she not here?”
During the few times she was not here, she would always go to a nearby forest in order to perform experiments that could not be done around people.
(“She sure can’t read the mood.”)
Mira complained in her heart and putting a finger on her chin, she started thinking carefully.
“Who are you?”
When Mira started walked back and forth, wondering if she should wait here until Luminaria comes back, suddenly a calm female voice sounded from behind her. Mira knew this voice.
Turning around, Mira found a beauty who had ideal facial features for a secretary and semi-long blonde hair that made glasses fit her well. Her blue eyes were turned towards Mira, looking with suspicion.
“Ohhh, it’s been a while Litaria. You know maybe where Luminaria went?”
The beauty that Mira called Litaria, was the Elder’s aide.
Every Elder received an NPC aide who dispatched from the country and who would help the Elder with research and office work. In other words, Litaria was Luminaria’s aide.
And since she was an Elf, she had a long lifespan allowing her to retain her beauty for a very long time, which is why some people looked up to elves as of a perfect race.
However, in Ark-Ars Online, players were unable to select races other than human, so it was a race exclusive for NPCs. Other than Elves, there were also other famous races such as Dwarves, Hobbits, Sirens, Werewolves and Giants. There were also Meowfolk who were a race who possessed cat ears and tails, but were same as humans except for those cat features, Galideafolk who possessed very muscular bodies, as well as many other NPC races.
“Who are you? There is no other way to enter this floor but to use the elevator, and only few people knew how to reach this floor with it.”
In this tense atmosphere, Litaria’s eyes have been dyed deeply with caution.
“I said, I’m…ahh. Right, I forgot…"
Mira just recalled that she no longer had her solemn appearance and was a girl now. Also, it seemed like Litaria was unable to “Inspect" Mira as she inquired who Mira is.
There was no guarantee Litaria would believe her if she claimed to be Danbulf. Even beside that, it would be very hard to bear the gazes of her acquaintances who learned that the majestic sage Danbulf of all people, had been enjoying his time in a little girl’s appearance.
However, that was a minor problem when it came to Luminaria.
After all, Luminaria had amused herself with “this kind of thing" more than anyone else, and Mira had seen Luminaria enjoy her female body countless times. Which is why Mira was confident to say her own state was cute in comparison.
Still, the current situation was unexpected.
When Litaria spoke, Mira finally recalled that there was a special way of manipulating the elevator to get to the top floor. It was a special procedure put there so that Sages’ fans did not trespass on their’ rooms.
Of course, as an Elder herself Mira knew of it and was able to reach this floor, but from Litaria’s perspective, it was a suspicious thing for the girl in front of her to have reached this place.
Most likely an excuse that she’s a just a summoner passing by to visit, would not work.
In which case… Mira put a fingertip on her chin and started thinking of a solution. An excuse that would explain the reason why Mira knew how to use the elevator to get here, that would not reveal her real identity, but would justify Mira’s presence in here and would allow her to freely come and go.
And, she came up with one.
“You, do you know Danbulf?”
Mira suddenly spoke, posing a question with a smile full of confidence as she looked up at Litaria.
“Of course I do know him. He is the Elder of the Tower of Summoning!”
As she responded in an instant, Litaria’s voice became a little lively.
“Ahh right. You see, I’m that Danbulf’s disciple. My master asked me to meet Luminaria…-dono and relay a message to her, so I came to do that.”
Mira lined up complete lies without her expression even budging, but inside, she nervously watched Litaria’s reaction.
“Danbulf-sama’s disciple…?! In such case, indeed… But no, I haven’t heard of Danbulf-sama having a disciple like you.”
The moment Mira has introduced herself, Litaria’s expression revealed that she was clearly shaken. It was just natural considering a disciple of a person missing for thirty years has suddenly appeared.
“Of course you have not. After all, I became master’s disciple after he disappeared thirty years ago.”
“After he disappeared you say?! Then, did Danbulf-sama return to this country?!”
Litaria approached Mira, taken over by the interest, her eyes being a full of sparkle. Seeing the momentum at which Litaria responded made Mira’s expression to crumble slightly.
“Yeah, indeed. However, due to certain circumstances he is unable to move now. Which is why I came instead of him.”
“Is that so. So Danbulf-sama is… But, what kind of circumstances are there to stop Danbulf-sama from moving?”
“Aahh… Um-mm, well.”
This was something that Mira just came up with, so she was troubled to answer the details, but was able to come up with a certain thing. It was about her own actions when she was still Danbulf. If this world was a continuation of the game history then this might work.
“Master secluded himself in the town of mythical beasts to raise a new spirit summon.”
Mira spoke with uncertainty, not sure if this excuse would pass.
"...Yet another, new summoning spell, is it. As expected of Danbulf-sama. In the past he did sometimes disappear to head to the Town of Mythical Beasts to train, it appears he didn’t change. In which case it’s no wonder he can’t move. Oh Danbulf-sama, I want to meet you again.”
It was a fairly desperate excuse, but it appeared that Litaria was satisfied with it and had nodded. Mira was able to confirm that her past actions had properly remained in this world people’s memories.
The Town of Mythical Beasts was a famous hunting ground among players.
Although it was called a town, there was no one living in there as it was an ancient ruin. A field filled with many types and shapes of monsters, as well as mythical beasts going rampant in it. By beating monsters in that town, it was possible to acquire the blessing of the ancient town which increased the speed of acquiring experience and recovery, as well as the rate of enemies dropping rare items. Enemies appearing in there were also very varied, so it was a staple hunting ground for high-ranked players.
The problem was that once you left the town, the blessing was reset. Which is why it was common sense for players who went to the Town of Mythical Beasts to have always bought as much supplies as it was possible and to remain inside it for as long as they possibly could.
“Ahhh, well, that’s how it is. So, about Luminaria…-dono.”
Seeing how Litaria had entered a state of excitement, Mira thought this to be a perfect chance.
“Yes, about that, currently Luminaria-sama is… Oh, no, nono...this isn’t good, not at all. Indeed what you say is sounds much like Danbulf-sama, but you still might be someone who knows him well and only pretends to be his disciple. Do you possibly have anything that could prove it?”
Litaria not only respected Danbulf, who together with Luminaria had supported the country, but pretty much adored him. The words of Danbulf’s survival had been like a light to her and her expression became very lively and energetic, but she did manage to calm herself down and prioritized ascertaining whether Mira was saying truth.
“A proof. Hm-mmm…this should be easy to understand proof.”
After thinking for a moment, Mira opened the item box and took out an item that only Danbulf possessed. It was of course the silver card with nine towers engraved on it - the Master Key.
“This is...the Tower of Summoning’s Master Key, isn’t it! Then you really are Danbulf-sama’s… Could you please tell me your name?”
After confirming that the Master Key was from the Tower of Summoning, a smile immediately bloomed on Litaria’s face.
“I’m Mira. Litaria, I heard of you from my master. So, Luminaria-dono isn’t here now?”
“Yes, currently Luminaria-sama has left for Lunatic Lake. She most likely won’t return until tomorrow.”
“Mm-hm, is that so. It can’t be helped then. Let’s come back later.”
If Luminaria was not here, there was no way around it. Thinking it was too much of trouble to head to Lunatic Lake now, and that Luminaria was supposed to come back tomorrow, Mira decided she had to come again tomorrow.
“I know! It’s already late, so how about you stay in my room tonight? It might be a good idea if you stayed until Luminaria-sama returns. Meanwhile, if possible, I would love to hear about Danbulf-sama!”
Suddenly, Litaria approached Mira again like a cat who found its prey. Mira reflexively took a step back just to hit the door, her expression stiffened as she turned her gaze away.
Although Litaria only wanted to hear some stories of Danbulf, to Mira it meant she would have to think of various excuses on spot. It was unknown where Mira would slip up, so it was not a good idea to let this continue for too long.
“No, actually I have other things to do as well, you see. I will come again tomorrow.”
Mira said so without any hesitation, deciding that escaping as soon as possible was the best choice.
“It can’t be... Then, just for a moment, you don’t have to stay the night. Could you please tell me what happened thirty years ago? Please, tell me what was Danbulf-sama doing all this time!”
“Let us leave that for next time. First, I need to accomplish what I was requested to by master.”
Tearing off Litaria of herself, Mira leaped away towards the elevator and headed below.
Mira thought that she needed to prepare a set of believable excuses for the next time she is caught up in trouble like this.
While slightly regretting what she said, Mira looked up the elevator to see Litaria’s appearance completely unlike her usual self - clinging to the translucent tube of the elevator, and heaved a sigh.
“She used to have give off a more intellectual feeling before, mm.”
Litaria whom Mira knew as an NPC did not have a personality that would justify actions like that. She gave off an impression of a skilled secretary. Maybe it was because of these thirty years, or maybe this was her real personality from the start. Mira smiled wryly and put a hand on her chin as she watched the floors she passed.
After several dozen of seconds she arrived at the first floor, and rousing herself up, she walked towards the entrance. On the way, she said “do your best!” to cheer on the researchers whom she passed by.
From Mira’s perspective, it was just something she used to do since the times she was Danbulf. But from the perspective of the researchers, they were suddenly cheered on by a girl passing by whom they have not seen before, resulting in a few of them deciding to do their best and do an all-nighter. However, this was none of Mira’s concern.
After leaving the Tower of Wizardry, Mira entered the Tower of Summoning. Tomorrow Luminaria should come back home, but there was something else she wanted to confirm before that. When she told Litaria that she had something to do, it was not a lie.
This thing she needed to do, was to check on her own Sage Quarters that was her home. If it was the same as it used to be, Mira would be able to use it to spend the night.
The inside of the Tower of Summoning was constructed the same way as the Tower of Wizardry and the quiet insides were lit up by swaying lights created with Abstract Magic. Mira squinted at the brightness for an instant and as she manipulated the elevator to head to the top floor, she thought of proposing to adjust the light intensity later.
On the way, unlike it in the Tower of Wizardry, he did not see any researchers on the floors of the tower, it looked deserted. At this sight, Mira recalled the knight mentioning that summoning was unusual.
The number of people in the Tower of Summoning had clearly decreased. Experiencing it personally, she felt a little helpless as if she was seeing her comrades retire.
The top floor of the Tower of Summoning. It was made the same way as the one in Tower of Wizardry and the split of rooms was also the same; without hesitation Mira headed straight for her own apartment.
In the corridor which had a red carpet placed on the floor, there were black armors on display, much similar to a Dark Knight’s one. They were items Danbulf once received as a reward for his achievements in a war he once participated in.
Between two of these, there was the door to his own apartment. After taking a glance at the armors, Mira extended her hand to the heavy door in front of herself.
“Oh right, right, I forgot.”
Her hand stopped and thinking that she needs to get used to it, Mira took out the Master Key from the item box and held it against the door. And then, a clicking sound came from the doorknob, as if the door had rejoiced for the return of its owner.
Mira’s warm skin touched the cold doorknob and turned it to enter her quarters, there, she felt something was off.
First off all, she immediately took off her boots at the entrance and left them near there since there was no shoe rack. Back when it was still a game there was no need to take off boots, so now that everything turned real, it felt uncomfortable for Mira and made it hard for her to calm down with boots on.
After revealing her bare legs, Mira moved around the familiarly-constructed quarters and her gaze focused on the rug made, with the Magic Beast King Grankaex’s fur which covered about 80% of the room’s floor. This rug shining in golden-color was very soft, but at the same time incredibly tough and not even doing combat training on top of it could make make a scratch on it. This rare item was something Danbulf received as his part of loot from when he and other Elders went on a tour to exterminate the Magic Beast King, and had further processed by a crafter.
The Magic Beast King-class drops were materials that could be made into top-class equipment, so when Danbulf asked a crafter to make a rug out of if it, the crafter asked about ten times “are you sure?” thinking it was a huge waste to make it into a rug.
In a way, it was a memorable item which now lied down on the ground, as if submitting to him. Other small items were also familiar things she gathered when she was still Danbulf.
However, the places she put them and their current location have slightly changed.
“Must have been Mariana, huh.”
Mira had an idea who might be the person who was the source of this discrepancy. It was Tower of Summoning’s Elder Danbulf’s aide.
It was a simple conclusion based on the fact that there were only two people who could enter this apartment. One was the Elder himself holding the Master Key, and the second was the Elder’s aide. And the owner of these quarters was gone for thirty years now, so the only remaining person was Mariana, who must have cleaned it like she always did, Mira conjectured.
Mariana, whom Mira knew what that kind of person. She always segregated things that were inside the room. When Danbulf went to hunt and came back with new spoils, and put them in a random place in the apartment, the next time he logged in those new items were categorized by type and stored away. Whenever the rooms were untidy, it always turned back nice and clean the next day.
After becoming an Elder, Danbulf hasn’t cleaned these quarters even once. Mariana’s personality was very methodical and caring, closely resembling some kind of childhood friend-type heroine.
The source of the discrepancy Mira felt was the location of those small items, but she already knew that Mariana kept moving them and that it has not started just now. According to Mariana’s setting, she was interested in divination and feng shui, so Danbulf just let her do as she liked, and this was the result.
It was possible that Mariana kept doing this for these last thirty years, Mira thought and unexpectedly worried about her.
However, Mira’s body appealed to her with tiredness, urging leave this problem for tomorrow, so she started tracing back her memories. Back when this was still a game, she would just log out when she turned sleepy and slept in her own bed, but this time it was different. She could not log out, so she had to sleep here, but the problem was that she had yet to use this apartment to sleep in, and did not know what was where.
Thinking that there should be a bed in one of the few rooms that were inside his apartment, but not knowing which one was it, Mira started checking them one after another.
The first room was the collection room. It was full of rare items that he gathered from all over the world, lined up on next to the other
The second room was the Energy-Refining workroom. It was full of wisdom on the topic of Energy-Refining techniques that Danbulf had developed.
The third room was a storage room. There, lied lined up equipment such as weapons, armor, and energy-refined items that he made through experiments. If people who knew Danbulf’s personality and how he scattered his items at random were to see this room, they would definitely burn up with desire to have Mariana.
When Mira opened the fourth room, she felt the familiar physiological phenomenon in her lower abdomen and stiffened.
It was not like she forgot about it, although she wanted to. She already started to feel the ripples build up before she arrived at the Silver Horn.
But Mira did not want to acknowledge this no matter what. After all, she knew that if she did “that” with the body of a girl like this, she could never turn back.
However, that was no problem that could be solved by enduring it. If anything, the more she endured the worse it was for the body. In fact, she desperately avoided thinking about it, but with the body’s preparations to do it complete and the required facilities in front of her, the bells warning her of the limit started to ring.
Mira resolved herself and closed the toilet’s door. A moment later the sound of flowing water could be heard.
(“Luminaria will laugh like mad at this, mmgh.”)
Imagining Luminaria’s expression at such time Mira smiled bitterly and taking a look back at the toilet, she unconsciously put a hand on her abdomen.
“Well, this is perfectly normal. No matter how anyone looks, I just did what had to be done.”
Muttering to no one in particular, Mira convinced herself.
After overcoming the harsh peaks of this first-time experience, her expression turned into a clear and refreshed one.
It was not like she did not have any wicked feelings, but that could not be helped since she had a perfectly healthy mind and healthy vigorous body, yes. In all honesty, there was no doubt that she felt a little excited, so she decided she might as well accept and justify it.
After that, caught up in the moment and in state of elation, Mira opened the door to the fifth room that was the bathroom, took off all of her equipment, turning naked and took a bath.
(“It sure takes time to wash my hair when it’s so long.”)
Feeling the sleepiness ease up thanks to the bath, still naked, Mira used a towel to dry her hair of the moisture.
After placing the towel in the first place that came to mind, she put her little butt on a sofa made of leather and opened the item list. She tried looking for some clothes to wear at home.
When Mira got out of the bath, she realized that her robe was dirty with blood and dirt. Although she wasn’t obsessed with cleanliness, she had absolutely no intention of wearing that robe right after taking a bath.
After looking through the list of items, her gaze stopped at a single icon.
It was an item called “Raiment of Celestial Maiden".
When Mira completed a Daoist-exclusive quest “Legend of Celestial Maiden" she received this special equipment as the quest’s reward. It had an effect of boosting Daoist skills, but the looks of it did not fit Danbulf’s appearance at all, so she put it away for the time being.
When she was still Danbulf, she put a lot of attention to her equipment’s appearance, valuing the dignity and style of a spellcaster above item’s stats. That was her creed, which is why no matter how good the item was, she would not wear it if it did not look good.
But how about now? Thought Mira. It was a thin, fluttery and flawless garment and might not look out of place on her, a girl, now. She imagined how she would look wearing it.
Thinking she might as well try it, she took out Raiment of Celestial Maiden out of item box and wore it.
At the first look, the outfit looked like a large baby-doll underwear. The skirt extended up to the calf of her legs and the sleeves up to the middle of her arm. The material reflected a little peachy color and had good in touch texture, it was fit the name of Raiment of Celestial Maiden. It was equipment not only Danbulf, but also all other male characters would have trouble wearing.
“Mm-hm, this is nice.”
Through the window separating the room from the darkness of the night outside, passed a little of light, and although it was not very bright it was enough for Mira to check how she appeared in the clothes. She used the window like a mirror and seeing the girl wearing the cloth on her bare skin, she smiled with captivation. It was a smile that included a little of lust, but with Mira’s appearance it appeared closer to that like a devilish girl. There were too many innocent features in her appearance.
Afterwards, Mira further searched the quarters and managed to find her original goal that was the bedroom. Also, she took out several robes for changing into and threw them sloppily at the sofa to wear them later. They were clothes she used when she was still Danbulf. These well-decorated and colored robes were full of dignity and high-class, making them his favorites he kept separately.
At first Mira wondered what to do about laundry, but decided to leave everything to Mariana and just left the clothes she took off as is.
Mira approached the window, looked at the lights in the distance below and yawned lightly. When she put a hand on her hip and stretched, her eyelids grew heavy. She checked the current time in the menu.
The clock displayed 10 p.m.. Normally, she would be starting to work seriously at this hour, but due to walking a long distance through the forest, tiredness accumulated in her small body. The bath only woke her up temporarily and now, she let out a second yawn and rubbed her drowsy eyes.
In any case, Mira’s goal here was not just confirming what was going on with her home base, but also meeting another player who has been in the same situation as she was - Luminaria. Concluding there was nothing else she could do now, Mira headed towards the bed that appeared to have been sucking her in and fell on top of it. The soft and elastic bed gently repelled the girl. The bed, most likely tidied up every day by Mariana, appeared to be like personification of Mariana’s heart longing to meet with her master.
Lunatic Lake, the capital of Arkite Kingdom. Near the lake shaped like a new moon, by the central portion of it there was the Arkite Castle where the king lived.
That day, King Solomon had completed his daily duties and leaned back on the leather-covered chair, then, seeing the desk full of documents he kicked the desk with annoyance. As a result, the wheels attached to the chair carried Solomon near the window while releasing a quiet sound as they rolled.
Lit up by the light made with Abstract Magic, Solomon used his fingers to touch the silver bracelet he had on his arm and glared into space.
The window displayed inside the empty space visibly only to the owner of the bracelet was filled with list containing white and gray letters.
This was a window Solomon checked every day. In it, Danbulf’s name had appeared in white.
Solomon raised his head and turned the chair around to look at the night outside, ruled by darkness and quietness. Beyond the mountains faintly visible far in the distance lied the Heavenly-Demon City Silver Horn. It was the city of this country’s heroes. When Solomon recalled nostalgically the sight of that city, a reserved knocking on the door had returned him to reality.
A man who opened the door and bowed was one of Arkite Kingdom’s messengers. The man took a step forward into the room with a piece of paper in his hand.
Using just his expression, Solomon prompted the man to continue. The messenger spread the paper and started reading it.
“Reporting. From Spell-Clad Knights’ Graya-sama. “We have confirmed the appearance of monster herd near the country borders. With help of young girl adventurer we have exterminated the herd. However, an unknown monster managed to escape and we are still in search of it. PS: The adventurer’s name is Mira. She was a beautiful young girl with silver hair.” Is what it says.”
After receiving the report, Solomon furrowed his eyebrows just slightly, not enough for the messenger to notice. All the monsters herds that appeared were composed of the monsters that have already been living within the Arkite Kingdom. There should be no monster that knights in charge of defending the country not know, so the unknown monster marked a clearly unnatural situation.
“It might have joined the herd as it moved, or... Hmm, no idea.”
Solomon heaved a sigh and gave up on thinking about it. And when he raised his head, his eyes met with the messenger who was still holding the report.
“Is there something else?”
“Very well, speak.”
“We received magic transmission from the Tower of Wizardry’s aide Litaria-sama. She reported, that a girl called Mira has appeared in the district and claimed to be Danbulf-sama’s disciple.”
“His disciple...you say?”
Solomon lowered his gaze at the window shown by the bracelet. Displayed on it was Danbulf’s name. It was a name that for thirty years has been displayed in gray color.
That was the name of the legendary hero and his best friend displayed in white, and a girl who named herself to be his disciple. Also there was an adventurer girl, who together with Spell-Clad Knights exterminated the monster herd. And both these girls introduced themselves as Mira.
“That sure is plenty of overlapping coincidences.”
The fatigued look in Solomon’s eyes caused by the office work disappeared, instead, a strong and joyful sparkle lit inside them.
“Send an envoy to Silver Horn immediately. Tell them to politely summon that girl called Mira. I leave personnel selection to person in charge.”
“Understood. At once.”
Looking away from the messenger who rolled the report paper and left the room, Solomon once again looked outside window and stared towards the city beyond the mountain.
Contrasting with the mountains that appeared to absorb all light, the lake next to the castle which was a symbol of Lunatic Lake had sparkled ephemerally.
Still early in the morning, when bird songs announced the dawn a single carriage drove down Silver Horn’s main street together with the sound of horse hooves.
The carriage with kingdom’s coat of arms flapping off of it rode straight towards the Silver Towers, seeing that, the citizens wondered just what was going on.
Feeling a light stimulate her pupils, the girl’s consciousness swaying beneath the surface of the dreams, slowly resurfaced.
On top of a bed with canopy, Mira raised her upper body and adjusted the thin raiment that slipped off her, then opened her small lips to inhale deeply and urge her brain to awaken.
However, as she lost to the remnants of sleepiness, her vision was cut off and she fell on her back to dive back beneath the surface of dreams.
Then after a while, when her consciousness started to stir, a muffled rhythmic sound started to reverberate inside this top floor room, where even bird’s voices did not reach.
Mira’s consciousness was almost forcibly awoken by the discordant sounds disturbing silence, her unfocused empty gaze drifted around as she raised her body and was puzzled upon seeing the unfamiliar, luxurious-looking room.
“This place is…"
The high tone voice which spilled out, made Mira’s memory gush like geyser from the back of her head. At the same time, a sense of loss akin to dizziness has struck her and “oh, that’s right…" she muttered as she became conscious of the situation she was in.
Mira slid on top of the bed using her small body that she still was still not used to, and put her hips on the edge of it before taking a deep breath. That moment, a pair of beautiful legs peeking out from beneath the outfit entered her sight. The light entering room from between the curtains lit the skin up, making it appear even whiter and more prominent, which caused Mira lose her words.
Her cheeks were dyed red as if she was a young adolescent boy as she stared at her own skin and touched it to check the sensation. It was young girl’s skin with the perfect elasticity and softness, she could also feel the touched place. An electric signal reaching her brain had signalled that this was continuation from yesterday, and her consciousness started awaken completely, rising as high as the ceiling.
"...Still, what’s the noise the first thing in the morning?”
When her head cleared up, Mira got curious about the baffling rhythm that continued to sound before she even woke up and started listening carefully.
*thunk thunk thunk*. After a blunt sound as if something was being knocked on, she could faintly hear someone’s voice. Realizing there were voices of multiple people, Mira left the bedroom to check what was going on.
When Mira approached the door she became able to hear the voices clearly and tell their intentions based on the unorganized vibrations of the air that reached her ears
“Mira-sama, are you here? Mira-sama.”
“Litaria-sama, is Danbulf-sama’s disciple really here?”
At first Mira heard the voice of a refined woman and a man’s voice she didn’t know.
“There is no doubt. She had the Tower of Summoning’s Master Key and we found a witness who said he saw a silver-haired girl enter this tower last night. In which case, she must have spent the night here.”
“But couldn’t she go to spend a night in an inn afterwards?”
“If she had the Master Key then there was no reason to stop at an inn. All necessary equipment is here, I clean everything every day so there should be nothing lacking.”
Furthermore, another voice that felt more like that of a girl rather than a woman could be heard from beyond the door.
There was one voice belonging to a man and two female voices. One of the female voices was somewhat familiar but Mira was unable to clearly remember whose voice was it. I’ll know once I see her, and as if to prove this, Mira opened the door.
“Oh, it’s Litaria and Mariana.”
After slightly looking up at them, Mira confirmed their identity and rubbed her still drowsy eyes while glancing. That moment, her eyes met with the eyes of a man wearing military outfit, standing upright in the back. On his right shoulder there was an armband with Arkite Kingdom’s emblem.
“Mira-sama! What is this appearance of yours?!”
“Please look the other way!”
For an instant, Litaria stared with astonishment at Mira’s almost-naked appearance in the door before nearly hugging Mira’s body to block the man’s gaze. At the same time, as the gaze of the man wearing military uniform was nailed to Mira’s limbs peeked out from under the thin raiment, a girl with fluttery and glittering sapphire twintails wearing a maid outfit had forcibly turned the man in military uniform in opposite direction, resulting in a blunt sound.
The man took a posture leaning forward as he stared right at the wall. Behind his back, Litaria lifted Mira and carried her inside the room.
“What is going on?!”
The door closed and Mira was put down on the leather-covered sofa. Not sure why was she forcibly brought back inside the room, she stared upwards at Litaria in confusion, seeking answer.
“That is my line. This might be the Sage’s apartment, but it is always possible visitors come. You can’t go out looking like this!”
A little angry, Litaria admonished Mira for her appearance. Hearing that, Mira looked down on her body. Certainly, the Raiment of Celestial Maiden could not be called proper clothing and it could not serve as underwear because of how see-through it was.
In the past, Mira usually wore casual clothes when at home, and the only other thing she had that she could wear now were the combat-adjusted robes she took out to change into yesterday. The Sage’s Robe she was originally wearing was also robe for combat. If someone asked if she had any more comfortable clothes than the ones she was wearing now, she would say NO. Rather, the other robes she prepared were for wearing outside and she had no intention of wearing them in her room.
“Unfortunately, I had nothing else to wear, you see.”
Mira said as if it could not be helped.
“You can use this. You should hide your skin at the very least or some lustful pervert will assault you.”
Litaria answered and took the red and black robe that was on the sofa, then put it on Mira.
After squirming for a moment inside the robes Mira passed her head through the neck of the robe and realized that the size of the robe didn’t match her at all. She dragged the sleeves low and not even fingers could be seen peeking out from them. It was not just that, the robe that perfectly fit Danbulf was too wide, because of which a big hole was open down to the chest, displaying yet another kind of bewitching charm from a naked body.
“It’s all loose.”
“It belongs to Danbulf-sama, of course it won’t fit you.”
While saying so, the maid girl took off one of the hair clips she was using to tie her hair and used it to tie the robe at the neck. The hair clip with a red ribbon attached to it that was attached to her chest now made her look even more feminine.
Mira was disheartened to see one of her favorite robes lose its dignity with a single hair clip.
“Mira-sama, is it true that you are Danbulf-sama’s disciple?”
The maid girl asked as she adjusted Mira’s collar and stared at Mira, it could be seen in the eyes that she was clinging to the slivers of hope.
“Mm, indeed. I heard of you as well, Mariana.”
The maid was so close that Mira could feel her breath on herself. She had clear-sapphire blue hair and eyes, her stature was close to that of Mira and she had swaying butterfly wings on her back. These wings were the proof of her being of the Fairyfolk, a race that retained childish appearance even after reaching maturity and and possessed wings that were not physically to fly, but instead captured mana in the atmosphere allowing her to fly.
And this fairy was Danbulf’s aide, Mariana.
As she made an expression of relief, her eyes moistened and several tears trickled over her reddened cheeks as if to cool them down before falling.
Mira lost her composure seeing the girl suddenly start crying, and wanting to do something, almost unconsciously she extended her hand towards the girl’s cheek. But before touching the cheek, Mira understood the meaning of the girl’s tears, she retracted her hand and with no better idea what to do with it, put it on her own chin.
The source of these tears were the girl’s feelings towards Danbulf, who suddenly disappeared. Feeling an emotion similar to guilt from deceiving the girl, Mira hesitated before touching her.
Touched by her tears, for an instant Mira considered saying the truth, at the very least revealing it to Mariana. But desisted from doing it. How would Mira explain so that Mariana understand? Would she not receive shock hearing that her master, Danbulf had turned into this appearance? Would she accept it and could they continue the relationship they had until now?
Up until now Mira only treated Mariana as an aide, but now Mariana cried for Mira’s sake and become a person with sense of self, which is why Mira still didn’t know how to act towards her now.
The selfish wish of not wanting to be rejected by the girl who yearned for him so much, and the feelings of not wanting to worry her any longer clashed. The words that naturally almost left Mira’s throat have slowly turned back to silence, she used a selfish excuse to put a lid to her emotions.
After staring at her hands hidden in sleeves, feeling miserable, Mira looked up. Responding to that gaze, Litaria wiped Mariana’s cheeks while whispering to her “great news, isn’t it".
“I’m sorry, I have calmed down...”
When Mariana put her feelings in order and calmed down a familiar rhythm sounded in the room.
“Um, Litaria-sama, Mariana-sama. Is it all right now?”
A moment after knocking, a man’s muffled voice has sounded. The man in military uniform who was forcibly turned around had come back to his senses and resumed his mission given to him by the king.
“Yes, we will come soon.”
Litaria answered the voice and turned her gaze towards the goal of the visit that was Mira. The person herself, swaying oversized sleeves moved to sat down to on the sofa, after which she leaned back and stretched.
“So, what is it? That man is one of the country’s soldiers, isn’t he.”
“Yes. After I met with Mira-sama yesterday I reported what happened to the king, Solomon-sama. It appears that the king wishes to meet Mira-sama as soon as possible. The man outside is a messenger that has come from the capital to welcome you.”
“Hooh, Solomon, huh…"
The king of Arkite Kingdom, King Solomon. He was a player and the founder of this nation. At the same time, he was Danbulf’s close friend who invited him to this country. To Mira he was someone she was friends with even longer than Luminaria has.
However, not having a way of knowing that, Litaria and Luminaria treated Mira’s brazen behavior of calling the king’s name without honorifics, as something stemming from her young age and trying to act adult. Finding it charming, the two smiled. Furthermore, Mira’s way of speaking which was the same as Danbulf, was taken for something like that of a child trying to imitate a parent. But Mira had no way of knowing this.
“Luminaria-sama is still in Lunatic Lake, I believe you will be able to meet her after the audience.”
“Hm-mm, I see. Then I should make haste.”
If Solomon was there, there was a possibility he was a player just like Luminaria. Coming to such conclusion, Mira stood up from the sofa in order to respond to his summons.
But as she tried to move towards the door, she was stopped by Litaria and Mariana.
“Please wait, Mira-sama.”
“Mm? What’s it?”
“You might have put on a robe, but we cannot let you go like this.”
What Litaria was talking about, was the robe which was so long that the ends of it were being dragged on the ground and Mira’s hands did not reach the end of the sleeves. In other words, she spoke of the current state of the robe.
“Please stay put, Mira-sama. We will quickly adjust everything.”
Mira saw a suspicious light appear in Litaria’s eyes, but was unable to escape from her hands and was captured. After that, joyful-looking Litaria and Mariana, who took out a large amount of ribbons from nowhere, started raising the robe’s hem and roll up the sleeves.
Although Mira attempted to resist, the two splendidly cooperated to hold her down, adjust the robe and decorate her.
“The problem is underwear.”
When the two finished adjusting the outward appearance, the recalled that this robe was all that Mira wore and started to deliberate what to do about the inside of it. At the same time, the girl who was turned into the two’s dress-up doll felt a chill run down her spine at full power. It was because of the word she did not even want to think of.
Mira’s skin was now hidden by the robe, but she started pretty much naked in the first place. She had no memory of wearing underwear. In other words, she was in the “no-panties, no-bra” state now.
The two women would never allow the girl in front of them to remain in such state.
After losing herself in thoughts for a moment, Mariana appeared to come up with something and said “I have something. Please wait a moment.”, opened the door of the bathroom elated Mira had rushed into yesterday, and entered it.
A moment later Mariana returned carrying something in her hand. At a glance it looked like clothing made with white material, but Mira couldn’t tell what was it. Still, she felt like it resembled something in her memory.
“My, it looks just right. Now, Mira-sama.”
Although Litaria spoke as to prompt Mira, she just picked Mira up with her two hands and easily raised her up for Mariana to say “excuse me" and nearly-forcibly put the clothing on Mira. There was no room for Mira to display her will at all.
Mira looked at the thing she was made wear and recalled what was this half-pants-like clothing. It was underwear often worn together with goth-loli outfits, they were what people called bloomers.
“Why was something like this in my...in master’s quarters, nhm…?”
The first words she managed to squeeze out, was the first question that appeared in her head.
Certainly, there were equipment items in the game that were categorized as underwear, but Danbulf had no such hobby as gathering female underwear and Mira had no memory of leaving anything like this in the apartment. Of all underwear items, he only had the set of seven different-colored fundoshi he acquired at Kawakami festival.
“Danbulf-sama’s bathroom is large and feels great.”
“It is splendid, but…"
“It’s my change of clothes.”
With these words Mira completely lost any will to resist and dejected, completely turned into a dress-up doll.
The robe decorated with a multitude of ribbons had the hem folded until it turned into something like a flare skirt and the sleeves were rolled back, then tied down with ribbons. At a glance it looked like an exhibition of some kind of misguided mahou shoujo, but Litaria and Mariana nodded in satisfaction in response to Mira’s appearance which was their accomplishment. Mira however, displayed an inverse expression to theirs, a bitter smile overlapped a wry smile on her face and she stiffened.
“Now, Mira-sama, let’s go.”
“The messenger is waiting.”
“I want to change clothes.”
“We cannot allow the messenger to wait any longer.”
“It’s not like I made him wait.”
“It was your fault for looking like that..”
Unable to find any chances of convincing the two Mira gave up and lowered her gaze to look at her mahou shoujo-like turned robe and said “mm, how sloppy" and heaved a large sigh.
Litaria moved first and opened the door beyond which, stood the man in the military uniform in the same straight pose as when Mira first saw him. Although, this time he was blushing a little.
When Mira walked outside the room, Mariana followed her and closed the door behind. The man looked from top to bottom at Mira’s appearance wearing a ribbon-covered robe and showed surprise at how much she changed, but at the same time he recalled Mira’s earlier appearance with large amount of bare skin displayed and was reminded of his emotions from back then.
Noticing this before anyone else, Mariana glared at the man so intensely that even a dragon would fall silent. Although the man standing upright flinched a little, he immediately cleared his throat and put his right hand on his chest in salute. It was the way Arkite Kingdom’s military saluted, but Mira made a strange and cramped expression at the sight.
The reason for that was because this military salute was something everyone thought up together when they were elated after Arkite Kingdom won the first war, despite being thought to be in desperately bad situation. So to say, it was thought up when they were kind of drunk. Mira recalled that it made quite the sight when the entire army saluted like this together during war, but faced with the salute one on one she could only put a forced smile on her face.
“It is pleasure to meet you for first time, I am Arkite Kingdom’s Combat Vehicle division’s vice-commander Galet Astol.”
“Danbulf-sama’s disciple, Mira-sama, yes? I have brought a verbal message from the king for you.”
When Mira concisely answered, Galet continued without changing his posture.
“Everything is already settled. Mira-sama has already agreed to go meet the king.”
Litaria spoke and peeked into Galet’s face, who avoided meeting her eyes.
“Ohh, is that so. Thank you very much. The carriage has been prepared in front, let us go at once.”
The man said while recovering a bare minimum of a serious expression and hurried to guide Mira to the carriage as if he was running away from something.
“Please be careful on the way and take care.”
“Mira-sama, if possible I would like to hear the stories of Danbulf-sama on some other day, would you mind?”
“Hmm-mm, I guess. I will tell you some the next time we meet.”
“Thank you very much, I will be waiting.”
“Mm, see you then.”
Mira waved her hand lightly to the two to mark the parting and got onto the carriage, then started thinking desperately over how can she explain to Litaria what happened with Danbulf.
The forest path on the road leading from Silver Horn to Lunatic Lake. A single carriage quickly drove on the only paved public road there was along with a loud clunky sound of horseshoes.
This carriage structured to be pulled by two horses which was used for transporting important people whenever speed was required, was called the “long-distance carriage". Although it was not something normally used for guests, it showed just how fast King Solomon wanted to meet Mira.
Sitting inside this rocking carriage and looking at the sights outside, Mira said “Mm, this is amazing, how fast!”, enjoying her first carriage travel.
Back during the game times, players used Flying Continents whenever they wanted to travel long distances, but now, the option in the menu to use them was no longer available. It used to be one of the system commands that appeared in the menu, but the command button itself was no longer there.
However, even if the command was still there it was dubious as to whether it would be possible to use Flying Continents in this world. If it was just like with the situation surrounding her and everything turning so real, then there was no doubt about it. As such, Mira decided to enjoy the situation instead.
It has been nearly two hours since they left Silver Horn, Mira seemed restless and her gaze wandered all over. The reason for that, was the natural phenomenon she had already faced the day before.
Even more so, that the small vibrations of the carriage had stimulated her lower abdomen making her sense the impending crisis more than ever. Because of that, finally unable to bear it Mira peeked out at the coachman seat.
“Mmhey, is there a powder room around?”
“Powder...room? I haven’t heard of such thing before, is it some kind of store? We are almost at Lunatic Lake, once we reach it I’ll buy you whatever you need.”
“No, it’s not a store…but yeah, there might be a powder room at a store, especially if it’s a restaurant... "
“A restaurant, is it. We haven’t eaten breakfast yet now that I think of it. Understood, it might be a little late for a breakfast, but let’s eat something once we arrive at Lunatic Lake.”
“Wait, I was just joking! I meant a privy, PRIVY!”
“Unghh...my apologies, but I don’t know if there’s a store named like that in Lunatic Lake.”
“Come on! I meant lavatory, toilet, restroom! Arhh...I don’t care anymore, just stop here and I will quickly finish it in the tree shadow!”
“Eh...aa...AHH! So that was what you meant!”
If it was the body she used to have she would be able to bear it for a bit longer, but the girl’s body had quickly appealed her it was at the limit, and Mira instinctively felt it - at this rate she would leak.
She impatiently poked the back of the man in military uniform who acted as the coachman, Galet, then pointed to a random place in the forest prompting him to stop the carriage.
The two horses who matched their breath have slowed down gradually. However, Mira did not wait until the carriage completely stopped and just jumped off it, moved to a nearby tree and raised the hem of her skirt. But then, she saw bloomers covering her lower abdomen and her movement stopped, of her hands only, that is. She stomped the ground restlessly while bearing the urge.
(“How do I even take this oooff?!”)
Although she was in a hurry, the bloomers she was made wear by force have stood in her way. Of course, from Mira’s perspective it was the first time she wore underwear like this, and she did not put it on herself so she did not check how did it work. There was no rubber band on her waist, but when she tried sliding it down she was prevented by her pelvic bones. She thought of tearing the bloomers off for a moment, but changed her mind on the verge of doing it. She could not just tear something that was lent. But even more so, she could not leak into something she lent, so she started to grow even more impatient.
Mira put a finger on the bloomers at the waist and tried to pull it to the side, but it did not work.
While feeling sweat come out from all pores of her body, she looked at the place she put her slender fingers at. And then she wondered, “Why didn’t I realize something this obvious?” and smiled wryly she recalled in how much panic she was.
Right at where the laces by the waist were, there was a string tied in a bowknot. It was something easy to spot once she calmed down, but because of all the firsts she experienced in this new body that she was not used to and the new situation, her brain’s processing speed has dulled. No wonder.
Knowing how it worked there was no problems left, but she has already reached her limit. Mira quickly untied the string, lowered the bloomers down to her knees and crouched, then was relieved upon feeling a sense of liberation.
After overcoming the problem for the second time Mira thought she has mastered her new body, but she quickly realized she made a huge mistake. When she was about to raise her bloomers, she recalled that women wipe themselves after finishing.
(“What do I do?”)
She did not have any paper or anything that could replace it. Just in case she opened the item box, but aside from food, she only found Energy-Refining related items and materials.
After closing the item box, Mira started searching for something in the surroundings that could work as a replacement. In the middle of the forest she saw light pass through the foliage and could hear little living beings emit whispering sounds. Then, from between weeds she saw some colorful flowers peek out.
Once she finished looking around the forest for once, Mira picked up a white flower with big petals and crouched again in order to use it instead of paper.
“Nmm, sorry, I made you wait.”
As Galet happily pet the two horses, Mira suddenly appeared from behind him and spoke with a little lively voice.
“No, I’m sorry not to have noticed.”
Galet turned around and changed his expression to a serious one, then lowered his head and apologized.
“Mm, I don’t mind. It was my fault for using bad wording.”
Mira was happy about her own growth and made a bright expression. Seeing that, Galet was relieved and he opened the doors of the passenger car.
“Let’s eat breakfast in Silver Wand first.”
“Mm-hm, let’s do that.”
While Mira sat down in the carriage, Galet checked on the state of the harness and jumped back onto the coachman’s seat.
About an hour after the powder room incident. The carriage had smoothly moved forward and they were close to reaching Lunatic Lake. However, the only thing that went smoothly was the carriage because Mira was facing an anguish she did not even imagine.
(“What’s going on, it’s stinging and throbbing.”)
Inside the carriage she rolled on top of the seat, feeling a burning pain in the groin that she had never felt before.
When she started feeling discomfort, based on the location, she first thought it was a woman-specific problem.
However the pain gradually grew bigger until she was finally unable to bear it and took of the bloomers to confirm the source of the discomfort. There, she realized the reason for it.
(“It must have been poisonous…")
The reason she came up with, was that petal. Or rather, there was no other possible candidate for a reason. Though if it was a female-specific problem she would not be able to even imagine what could it be.
After making a guess what was it, Mira checked her item box for something that could be used. There, she selected a certain item from among those that she always kept on her and took it out.
It was a healing item called the “All-Purpose Ointment" which was capable of removing abnormal status and heal wounds to an extent.
While feeling a slight resistance, Mira curled up in the corner of the carriage and full of hope started applying the ointment, then waited for it to take effect.
Soon after, her prediction proved to be correct and the ointment managed to remove the symptoms of poisoning caused by the petal, detoxifying Mira.
Relieved, she rolled around on the carriage’s seat and muttered “I’ve had enough...".
About ten minutes after the petal incident. The carriage gently stopped and Galet peeked inside the carriage from the coachman’s seat.
“Mira-sama, we have arrived at Silver Wand. Shall we go to a restaurant? Or should I buy something for you?”
Mira thought for a moment and,
“Might as well go to a restaurant this time.”
while usually she would immediately tell him to bring her something, she answered differently.
Up until now she has been living a life where VR replaced majority of her daily life. It was an era where it was rare to walk under the open sky, where everything starting from work and ending at shopping was done in VR, having the purchased items sent home.
However, this world was different. Mira walked through the forest and met with people, the carriage rocked under her. When she first realized it, she thought the current life to be overwhelmingly inconvenient compared to the previous one. However, now she started to enjoy all of it.
Having everything too convenient was something that made a human close their hearts, is what Mira felt, and thinking she wanted to experience as many things as possible, she got off the carriage to straight under the blue sky.
Silver Wand. It was a town located in the middle of the way between Silver Horn and Lunatic Lake, it was placed in the valley between two mountain ranges and was known to be a town of farmers, foresters and miners. Because it was located between the capital and the city with the country’s main military power, it managed to become a fairly big town with flourishing trade.
The place Mira was in at the moment, was a parking lot in the town’s business district. On a broad lawn there were several stables one next to another where carriages stopped.
Although normally parking lots required paying a fee, the one that the long-distance carriage stopped at was the kingdom’s-exclusive parking lot which did not require a fee. In other words, it was a parking lot for the carriages used by royalty, nobles and other people related to them.
Therefore, it was no wonder that they gathered gazes of people at the parking lots and the vicinity.
But even that aside, the girl exuding a special atmosphere gathered especially much attention. She had white skin and glossy, silver hair, strong-willed eyes and was clad in a robe covered in ribbons. People lost words seeing Mira’s appearance. Or rather, they were unable to find words fitting to describe this girl.
Surrounded by the scenery of Silver Wand, the town surrounded by mountains, Mira looked up at the sky and grandly stretched her body to loosen its tension.
In the corner of her vision she saw a bird flying horizontally whom she chased with her gaze, then looked at several places in the forest where birds have took away from and chased those with her eyes as well. Before long, her body started turning around without Mira herself realizing it at all.
Hearing Galet’s voice in the distance as he proceeded with formalities, Mira finally lowered her gaze and realized an abnormal atmosphere was adrift in her surroundings, so she looked away and stared at the lawn.
(“They’re looking at me. They must be laughing at my clothing, I’m sure of it.”)
There was no way that her appearance, like that of some anime character could fit in this fantasy world. Mira assumed so, and when she tried to escape from people’s stares, Galet finished talking about formalities and returned.
“I’m sorry for the wait. Do you have anything you would like to eat, Mira-sama?”
When Galet asked this, Mira attempted to hide behind him and responded with “let’s go with your recommendation". And to move away from this place as soon as possible, she poked his back.
“In that case, I will guide you to my usual place.”
The appearance of the girl poking Galet’s back to hurry him to do something made the people feel heart-warmed like they were watching a parent and child.
After leaving the parking lot, Mira and Galet entered the main street, then eventually moved into a lane before arriving in front of a house that also doubled as a restaurant.
“It’s this place, it might be small, but I guarantee the taste.”
Mira looked up at the wooden-made building. The store’s name “Evening House in the Street Corner" was written in big letters on the building’s swing doors. The doors were the type that could sometimes be seen in wild west movies, which allowed to see well inside the restaurant, but with Mira’s height she could only see the ceiling.
“You come for the first time in a long while and call our place small, you sure are rude.”
Suddenly, a female voice called out to them from behind making them turn around. There, stood a woman in her twenties carrying basket with groceries in both her hands, and who glared at Galet. Although plain, she was a beauty with chestnut hair flowing on her shoulders from under a kerchief. On the white-blue apron she was wearing was embroidery saying “Evening House in the Street Corner", proving that she was from this store.
“Oh, Shelly. It’s been a while.”
“It really has, good grief. You need to show up more often…hm? Who is this cutie?!”
After placing the basket with groceries on the ground she looked up right next to Galet and her gaze stopped at Mira. Then she raised her hand spontaneously, put it on Mira’s head and pet her all over.
“Wha-, stop it!”
“This girl’s sooo cute!”
Shelly looked over Galet’s shoulder at Mira who was on her guard, reminiscent of a small animal, further stimulating Shelly’s motherly instincts.
“This is Mira-sama.”
“Heee, so you’re called Mira-chan. How cute. Mira-chaaan.”
Shelly’s expression further loosened and she approached Mira slowly, closing the distance between them.
“Shelly, Mira-sama is troubled so please leave it at this.”
“That’s right, you tell her!”
Remaining still hidden in his shadow, Mira agreed with Galet. This appearance of hers further caused Shelly’s rampage to worsen, but Shelly has managed to hold herself back by prioritizing not being hated by Mira.
“Hey Galet, what are you doing here with Mira-chan?”
Focusing herself to change her soft expression back to normal, Shelly looked at Galet with suspicion.
“I’m in the middle of bringing her to Lunatic Lake, but we haven’t eaten breakfast yet.”
“And thus you came here. Good job.”
Shelly picked up the groceries basket again, opened the swing doors and guided the two in.
“C’mon, the counter seats are empty so sit there and wait. ...Wait, are you still angry, Mira-chan?”
Seeing Mira still remain in Galet’s shadow and vigilant, Shelly made a little regretful expression.
“I don’t think Mira-sama would get angry with just this much.”
Just like Galet said, Mira was not angry. But she was embarrassed to be treated like a child.
However, making a woman have such lonely expression was against her wishes, so stepped out from behind Galet.
“Just don’t treat me like a child.”
Said Mira. However, to Shelly it looked like a little girl trying to act like an adult and an impulse to hug Mira took her over.
“Mira-chan, so cute!”
Despite being told off a moment earlier, Shelly just threw away the basket with groceries and leaped at Mira with a strong momentum. Being hugged tightly, Mira was unable to shake off this direct display of love and just said “just do as you like..." and heaved a sigh.
After finishing a meal at the Evening House in the Street Corner, Mira moistened her throat with the Berry au Lait she received from Shelly.
Berry acidity and sweetness mixed in moderately forming a perfectly balanced taste which stimulated her working sense of taste, naturally loosening Mira’s expression. Of course, Shelly did not pass up that opportunity and she continued to react with “Mira-chan so cuuute!” at everything Mira did.
Probably because she started to get used to it, or maybe just gave up, Mira no longer seemed to avoid Shelly and let her do whatever...
Galet looked at the two with a warm smile as he chatted with this inn’s owner and Shelly’s father Varga. “So, when will you get hitched with Shelly?” asked jokingly Varga, but his eyes did not laugh in the least, making Galet respond with a bitter smile. To put it short, the cause of this was the fact he did not visit this inn too often.
This man called Varga had hair of the same color as Shelly and despite having a muscular body trained in the mountains, he made extremely delicate food.
The food Mira and Galet ate were a roasted bird with vegetables, and a sandwich made of chicken and white bread. There was also a pudding tart that Shelly brought because she wanted to feed Mira. All of this food was made by Varga, not only the taste was of it great but so were its looks as Varga was also very picky about the appearance of the food he made. And so, aside from acting as a guide for Mira to his usual place, Galet also managed to introduce this inn to her.
“Well then, it’s about time we head out.”
After waiting for Mira to finish drinking her Berry au Lait, Galet drank his herb tea all at once and stood up.
“Ehhh, take your tiiime, stay for a little longer.”
Shelly, who had yet to look away from Mira even once time since they entered the store, pouted her lips.
“We can’t do that. Despite how it looks, I’m in the middle of work.”
Said Galet and took out a wallet to leave the cash on the counter.
“Indeed, let’s go.”
The moment Shelly looked away, Mira slipped past her side. While staring lonesomely at the girl’s back, Shelly started to clean on the counter.
“It was a treat, I’ll come again sometime soon.”
“Thanks for the food.”
“Come any time. Also, young lady, I’ll prepare more Berry au Lait for when you come.”
Even while she straightened the ribbon-covered robe, Mira reacted to the words “Berry au Lait".
“Mmm, I may perhaps come by when this girl is not around.”
After thinking for a short moment, Mira drew the very base line of compromise.
“Mira-chan is being meaan!”
“Usually she’s out to do groceries right before noon, that might be good timing.”
“Hohooh, I’ll remember that.”
“Dad, not you too——"
Shelly staggered onto the counter in a clear act, defeated by reality that she had no allies.
After leaving the Evening House in the Street Corner, the two returned straight to the parking lot and Mira entered the carriage before she was exposed to curious stares. The person in charge of the parking lot appeared to have taken good care of the two horses as they looked to be in good mood. After they were equipped with harness, they neighed not showing even a speck of tiredness.
Looking from the carriage’s window, Mira watched the town of Silver Wand with curiosity.
(“This town was made within these thirty years, wasn’t it.”)
There was no town called Silver Wand in Mira’s memory. Her heart danced as she watched the fresh scenery they drove by, feeling the change of times.
The carriage passed the main road and left the town, entering the forest road. After progressing straightforward for a while and climbing a little up, the carriage reached a more open space. In the front, there was a towering cliff reinforced with countless stone blocks and the public road, which led into a semi-circular hole in the middle of it.
Mira who was inside the carriage first thought they left the forest to travel under open sky, but was surprised by the scenery turning dark all at once. She could see stone walls no matter how deep of the hole they entered, the light coming from the entrance grew smaller and smaller.
Based on this location and situation, as well as the ringing in her ears, Mira concluded that the carriage entered a tunnel.
However, not recalling for the road between Lunatic Lake and Silver Horn to include tunnels in the mountain, she peeked out towards the coachman’s seat.
“Mm, this tunnel sure is amazing. When was it made?”
“Benedict Tunnel you mean? If I’m not wrong the construction started thirty years ago on King Solomon’s orders and I hear that it was completed in five years.”
“Hooh, is that so.”
(“Looks like he’s properly doing his work, isn’t he.”)
Turning towards the front, Mira looked at the Abstract Magic lights placed at regular intervals in the tunnel and smiled, thinking that making this was a very king-like feat.
Because Lunatic Lake and Silver Horn were separated by a mountain, it was very inconvenient to travel back and forth. When the main means of traveling is a carriage, this road and tunnel was probably an absolute necessity.
And there was one more thing that Mira picked up from Galet’s words. It was that the tunnel was made on Solomon’s orders thirty years ago. In other words, Solomon has been living in this world for the thirty years since Danbulf disappeared, up until now.
The only thing left, was to confirm whether it was the player called Solomon, or not.
After passing through the mountains there would not be much time left until they arrived, so Mira sat back down in the seat to watched the monotonous scenery.
The clunky sound of horseshoes, dull scenery, full stomach after a meal, as well as rocking akin to a cradle. Because of these various factors, Mira’s head started to shake as she dozed off.
Once they left the tunnel, the blue sky spread wide outside and in the distance, a lake shaped like crescent moon could be seen reflecting that sky’s color.
By the middle part of the lake there was the Arkite Castle where the Arkite Kingdom’s King Solomon lived, and surrounding it, spread the capital city of Lunatic Lake.
The carriage carrying Mira descended down the mountains, left the forest that was at their edge and started driving past the Ragedd Highlands which has been very faintly dyed in early evening colors.
Mixed on the plains were countless vegetation and rocks, plus small animals living between them that sometimes peeked out to look at the carriage.
Mira woke up when the sun passed the zenith and started to sink from the sky causing its light to enter the carriage. She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand, then moved to the opposite side of the carriage to escape from the light. Then, she yawned lightly, placed her arm on the window’s frame and supported her chin with her hand. Watching the nearby scenery flow fast and the distant scenery change very slowly, Mira took out a flask with Apple au Lait to moisten her throat she felt to be dry, then slanted it against her mouth.
The wind flowing in from outside carried her silver hair and grazed her body which warm after sleeping.
“Hooh, this place grew too, huh.”
After moving her gaze to the front, Mira saw a large city snuggle up against a crescent moon-shaped lake and let out sigh of admiration.
The capital city Lunatic Lake seen in the distance from the Ragedd Highlands had a circular defensive wall surrounding it in shape of a full moon, which enclosed everything including the lake itself. The city appeared to have grown compared to how Mira remembered it.
At the same time, she found buildings that stood out more than anything and peeked out at coachman’s seat again.
“Mm, hey. What is that large building in the city?”
Mira spoke to Galet while pointing at the city. Seeing her joyful expression beside himself, he also turned energetic and confirmed what was she pointing at.
Speaking of large buildings, the first thing coming to mind was the Arkite Castle in the middle of the city. However, Galet did not think Mira would asking something so basic and looked at four larger buildings that were in sight.
In East, West, South and North directions from the middle, about in the mid-way between the outer walls of the city and the Arkite Castle there were characteristic facilities. Anyone who lived in Lunatic Lake knew them.
“Ahh, they are the Five Pillar Institutions.”
“Five Pillar Institutions?”
“Yes, they are institutions proposed by the King Solomon which became basis for their plan, and were created at the same time as the Benedict Tunnel. The Southern facility is a waste disposal facility, in the East there is the Arkite Academy, in the North there is Medicine Research Center and in the West, there is Craftsmen’s Workshop Department. Together they are called Five Pillar Institutions.”
“Hohoh, I see, mm.”
The name and locations were based on Onymou’s five pillars ideology of trees, fire, earth, metal and water. This idea which could be seen in a capital city like Kyôto being Solomon’s idea was very much like him, Mira thought, convinced.
Solomon’s love of feng shui started out of a certain happening inside the game. After that, he studied it with passion and often explained to Mira stuff like increasing money luck or work luck whenever there was an occasion.
Satisfied, Mira returned to her seat and once again put an arm on the window’s frame to support her head. She watched flocks of migrating birds fly around leisurely at this time of the year, and once again sipped from the Apple au Lait she opened earlier.
The weather was good and currently, the highland scenery could be seen from the rocking carriage.
There was nothing to be perplexed about, if anything, the current situation could be categorized as a “happy" one. That’s what Mira gradually started to think.
After finishing to drink the Apple au Lait, she put it in the corner by her feet and took out two fresh flasks of Apple au Lait. She peeked out towards the coachman’s seat and with a flask in hand asked “want a drink?.
“Thank you very much, Mira-sama.”
Acting as if she was passing a can of coffee to a subordinate at work, Mira passed Apple au Lait to Galet who received it with joy.
"Tell me, why did you join the army?”
Mira asked for no special reason. She was in the mood to chat.
“The reason I joined the army, is it?”
Galet put the Apple au Lait flask against his mouth and muttered “well…", then having his heart healed by the perfect taste, he reflexively said “this is delicious" to which Mira responded with “right?” and made a satisfied expression.
“I guess it was my father’s influence.”
“Hooh, so your father serves in army as well?”
“It might sound a little embarrassing, but I look up to him. My father is the captain of the first platoon of Spell-Clad Knights and I was raised while watching his back since I was young.”
As Galet spoke, his eyes were filled with aspiration and sparkled with gentle light.
“You’re a good son. I’m sure your father would rejoice if you told him that.”
“Oh, no. As expected I can’t say that to his face. Please keep it secret, Mira-sama.”
As he put a finger against his lips, Galet’s expression was very gentle and Mira could tell he loved his father. Although his gestures felt as if he was admonishing her, she let that slide since she was able to feel some warm emotions coming from him.
“Mm, your father is a happy man.”
Being thought of like that by his son, the father was really blessed. Mira was a little envious of Galet’s father in this case.
“You think so?”
“Indeed. If I was a father I would love to have a son like you.”
“In Mira-sama’s case, you would be not a father, but mother.”
“Ahh, I guess…”
Galet pointed out, making Mira fall silent and reply with a bitter smile.
Not a father, but a mother. Although she did not think about this at all, that would indeed be the case if she became a parent.
She did not hate children, if anything, there was a time when she wondered what would she play with her child if she had one, or how would she name it. Now that Mira recalled it, it felt like a talk of distant past.
Even if she did not become a full-fledged parent, it was enough that she properly watched over the children, Mira kind of realized. When that time comes, she would think of it. For the time being she decided to enjoy her new, second life in a new way. Concluding so, she drank Apple au Lait from the second flask all at once.
The carriage carrying Mira had slowly decreased its speed before stopping at a towering gate.
When she looked at the wall that from the highlands, it looked like just a circle surrounding the city. However, seeing the wall from up close, it looked like the embodiment of Arkite Kingdom’s determination to defend the country.
Mira leaned out from the window of the carriage to look up at the wall and said “It sure got big", its size completely different from how she remembered it was thirty years ago, made her heart dance.
If just the wall changed this much, she could not even imagine just how the capital itself has changed. Mira started to enjoy all these changes in the world.
The gate at which the long-distance carriage stopped was not the main gate leading to the city, but an exclusive carriage road leading straight to the castle.
After the guard at the gate exchanged several words with Galet, the large gate opened along with a heavy, solemn sound.
The guard raised his hand to send a sign, and from the top part of the gate sounded a loud bell. Immediately after, another bell in the distance started ringing to alert the castle far away of long-distance carriage’s arrival.
Five intersections on the way of the carriage have been temporarily closed off, guards holding black and yellow sticks to stop people in the traffic from passing the road. The long-distance carriage was a special vehicle used for the country’s important missions and therefore, it had to be treated with suitable dignity.
“Isn’t this quite the welcome.”
Leaning out from inside the carriage to look through the opened gate, Mira saw the guards standing at the intersections made at equal intervals and realized just how big a deal this was.
The carriage slowly started to move, then gradually increased speed. Within several seconds it reached the maximum speed and the city’s scenery flowed to the back at a dizzying rate.
Citizens watched as the unusual long-distance carriage drove by at high speed along with a clamoring sound of horseshoes. When they saw that it was Galet who acted as a coachman, they realized something important was happening and were full of curiosity.
As the scenery outside the window slowly overflowed with liveliness, Mira stared at one especially large building.
(“To think it would be this big seen up close…")
It was one of the Five Pillar Facilities, the Craftsmen Workshop Department. Seeing this grand building, reminiscent of an old German structure, Mira decided to schedule a sightseeing tour around the capital.
After a while longer of carriage’s rocking, the speed of scenery changing outside the window had slowly decreased and the carriage eventually stopped in front of the castle gate.
“Mm, we finally arrived.”
Mira’s body turned stiff from all the sitting, so she stretched, then hid another Apple au Lait flask near her feet.
“Thank you for bearing with me, Mira-sama.”
Galet opened the cabin’s door and bowed, then extended his hand as to escort Mira out.
Mira said and then added "no need" and brushed away Galet’s hand before leaping off to the ground. The castle she looked up at, did not change compared to her memories and she felt half-relief and half-disappointment as she lowered her gaze.
An instant later, she turned speechless.
The cause for that was waiting in the back of the slowly-opening gate, a far grander welcome than the one at the carriage road.
Starting from the castle gate and throughout the entire passage, on both sides stood knights raising their swords in front of themselves, standing there without budging. Lined up behind them, there were knights holding spears in their hands. Further behind even, soldiers lined up in regular intervals were holding banners.
“This is quite over...isn’t it.”
“It only shows just how much Solomon-sama rejoices at your visit, Mira-sama.”
Heaving a sigh, Mira felt that something was off.
“Danbulf-sama is our country’s hero, after all. This much is natural when welcoming his disciple.”
“Hmm-mm, is it, really?"
“Of course it is. Let’s go, Mira-sama.”
When the two moved away from the carriage, the castle’s exclusive caretakers brought the long-distance carriage to the stables.
The moment Mira escorted by Galet, passed through the gate - an intensive and rhythmic sound of drums echoed making their eardrums tremble. The knights raised their swords diagonally above and protruded shields with the country’s coat of arms engraved on them. From between them, the knights in the second row raised their spears diagonally creating an arch leading from the castle gate and inside the castle.
“This too is quite...mm.”
“It actually feels good for me.”
Being able to escort Mira in the middle of such grand welcoming ceremony made Galet smile happily.
“Really you, good grief.”
Having her bad expression softened by his devoid of worries personality, Mira thought Galet was a likable person and praised Solomon for finding a subordinate like this.
The two encouraged by the pleasant melody played by a drum and fife orchestra moved forward until they passed the arch and entered the castle. By the entrance there were two guards who bowed while and said “we will guide you to the throne room". Mira did not like to stand out too much so she was relieved that it would become a little quieter now.
When the guards opened the throne room’s door, a refined scent entered the two’s nostrils. Lying on the floor inside were carpets, starting from the closest one there was black, blue, green, red and white carpets at equal intervals.
There were five people inside the throne room. And the person standing out the most in this place, was a single boy, sitting on the throne.
He had golden eyes and green hair which nearly reached his eyes, on top of his head he had a crown decorated with countless jewels. At first glance he looked out-of-place, but his figure on top of the throne wearing a luxurious outfit was surprisingly natural, and showed thirty years of experience ruling a country.
The boy who stared at Mira with a mischievous expression was the king of the Arkite Kingdom and Danbulf’s friend, King Solomon himself.
His appearance was just as Mira remembered it and the only difference was that his outfit grew a little more luxurious.
In front of King Solomon, standing a few steps below there was a knight who had an aura of strength, and a hooded spellcaster in black robe. The spellcaster who laid his eyes on Mira smiled with a soft expression. On the other hand, the knight, seeing that hero Danbulf’s disciple was a mere little girl, only sighed with great disappointment.
Galet took a step forward, knelt,
“I have brought the Elder Danbulf’s disciple, Mira-sama.”
He reported and saluted.
"Good work. You may stand back.”
This was spoken by a man full of dignity standing beside the throne, the man’s name was Süleyman. He was an Elf with graceful facial features and flowing golden hair.
Galet said “excuse me" and moved to the side.
“Nice to meet you, Mira-san. I’m Süleyman, King Solomon’s aide.”
Moving just her gaze she captured Süleyman in sight and responded concisely. On the side, Galet suddenly started panicking seeing how Mira’s attitude did not change even in front of the king.
However, completely unaware of Galet’s feelings, Mira crossed her arms, put a hand on her chin and inspected Solomon.
But even by staring at him she could not see any information appear. Instead, she moved her gaze towards Süleyman and was able to acquire information such as his name and status.
(“What does this mean…?”)
“To start with, I would like to confirm whether you truly are Danbulf-sama’s disciple, do you mind?”
While Mira was lost in thoughts wondering about the difference between the two, she was brought to reality by Süleyman’s voice.
“Mm-mm, very well.”
Mira took out the Master Key from the item box and raised it up saying “I have this", then took a step towards Süleyman.
But that instant, the knight suddenly leaped forward, pulled out his sword and,
“Not a step further! Enough of your disrespectful behavior, girl!”
along with a shout he aimed the point of the sword at Mira.
He was Reinard, the commander of Arkite Kingdom’s royal knight guard. He was told by Solomon before the audience that Mira might act rude and she did not need to act respectfully, so he should ignore it. And therefore he endured it when she did not kneel or when she did not use respectful language. However, seeing her approach the king, he was unable to bear the agitation.
Mira did not know this, but there was a certain distance up to where one could approach the king. It was dependant on the person’s rank and with exception of some guests, people were not allowed go past the black carpet.
“I can’t pass it without approaching.”
“Just pass it to a guard near you!”
Solomon and Danbulf used to stand shoulder in shoulder, and from Mira’s perspective she only came to meet a friend. Since all she had in head was talking with him for a little, she failed to realize the importance an audience had.
(“What a pain.”)
Mira spoke the same way she used to back then, but seeing the knight’s angry expression she realized the situation was completely different. Not knowing anything about etiquette for such official occasions, troubled, she pinched the end of the sword and held out the key to the knight.
“Is that so. Sorry ‘bout that. Well, you’re already here, pass this for me.”
“Girl...just how rude can you be… Stand back!”
Furious, the knight put strength into his sword. However, even though it was just pinched by a little girl, he was unable to make it even budge and he made an astonished expression.
“Reinard, bring that to me.”
The boy’s voice spoke shortly.
“But Solomon-sama, this girl is too disrespectful!”
“I told you from the start, have I not? This is within predictions. Or what, do you wish to make me wait any longer?”
Seeing Reinard shrivel when stared down by Solomon, Mira thought she might have done something bad, but seeing his attitude as he snatched away the Master Key, she changed her mind.
Mira released the sword from her pinch. Reinard glared at Mira’s white and slender hand peeking from the robe and deciding that she must have used some kind of shady spell, he raised his vigilance towards her even higher.
Meanwhile, seeing that the situation has calmed down, Galet was relieved that it did not become a bad scene.
While Mira returned to her original position, Solomon received the Master Key from Reinard and confirmed that without a doubt, it was the key of the Tower of Summoning.
“Certainly, there is no doubt this is Danbulf’s belonging. Since an item like this was passed from a master to disciple, her identity is doubtless.”
After saying so, Solomon passed the Master Key to a nearby guard, who carried it to Mira.
Once Mira received it and put it back in the item box, she looked away from Reinard who still continued to glare at her.
“Now that we confirmed it, let us change locations. Disciple of Danbulf, I would like you to tell me of what happened to him during those thirty years of disappearance, do you mind?”
“Mm-hm, not at all.”
She answered instantly hearing Solomon’s timely offer.
“Well then, we should go to my office. There, we will be able to speak more calmly. Everyone, you can go join the banquet now.”
When Solomon said this, Reinard took a step forward. At the same time, a wry smile appeared on Mira’s face.
“Solomon-sama, even if she is Danbulf-sama’s disciple, it is too dangerous for you to be alone together with this unfamiliar girl.”
Reinard took a glance on Mira’s face, and while saluting Solomon he offered his advice.
(“The situation isn’t progressing, ehh.”)
While Mira was aware of herself being an unknown existence to him, seeing Reinard’s fanatic loyalty she could only shake her head appalled.
“Reinard, are you suggesting I would lose against a little girl like this?”
Solomon spoke to Reinard while cladding himself in powerful aura. King Solomon despite his young appearance, did not rule the country for thirty years for no reason. This was a world where the fate of the country was decided not just by politics, but mostly by martial prowess. As someone who continued to rule one of the countries in this world, Solomon’s strength was well-known by everyone.
“N-not at all! However, this girl uses some suspicious spells and we should prepare for any event.”
Reinard spoke of suspicious spells, but Mira had no idea what was he talking about. That was natural, because he was misunderstanding what spellcasting actually was. He did not even consider the possibility of losing in contest of strength against a girl much smaller than him. The reason for Mira’s strength were buffs from all the equipment she was wearing, but she herself did not know what was he talking about, so she could not refute it.
“Your name was Mira, wasn't it. Do you have any will to hurt me?”
“For what purpose would I do that? All I want is to talk with you.”
Hearing Mira’s answer, Solomon smiled seeming to be having a little fun.
“Is what she says. And I also have a lot to speak about with her. Could you stand down here, Reinard?”
“But if by a chance something happened to you, Solomon-sama, I…"
Reinard clenched his fist not giving up. But then, the spellcaster who had yet to speak, has interrupted this back-and-forth exchange.
“Then how about this, Reinard and I shall stand guard in front of the office. If something happens we can run inside. Mira-sama aside, not even Danbulf-sama would be able to do anything to Solomon-sama before we intrude. How about it?”
“Ngh, nhhh...I guess.”
“Then let us do that. Personally, I wanted to join the banquet, but seeing Reinard-san in this state, I guess I should accompany him. The two of us should be enough, don’t you think?”
The spellcaster made a proposal and put a hand on Reinard’s shoulder.
“That is a good idea. Sorry Joachim, I will make sure to open another banquet in the near future.”
Solomon nodded strongly and took a breath before standing up.
“Oh, no. There is no need for that. I will have Reinard-san treat me to something instead.”
Unable to refute Reinard made a distorted expression.
“Let us go then.”
Said Solomon and moved forward, the three followed him walking down the corridor leading to the office.
On the king’s castle’s fifth floor there was an office with a good oversight of the lake. Currently, Mira and Solomon were alone inside of it. The king’s close aides knight Reinard and spellcaster Joachim remained on guard in front of the door.
The room was surrounded by bookcases full of countless books and documents regarding this world’s history and technology, as well as many other topics. Inside such a room, Solomon sat down on a leather-covered chair and leaned back strongly. Mira sat down on a sofa, which was drowning in documents then took a glance around the room.
“This place sure is messy.”
“I’ve got so much work I can’t ever get to cleaning it.”
Although he was facing a girl, Solomon spoke in a casual manner unthinkable of a king. Mira too, already forgot the difference in their positions.
“Pheew, we can finally talk in peace.”
After saying so, the two adjusted the way they were sitting and their eyes met.
“First, I wanna make something clear, is that fine?”
Solomon stared intently at Mira, raised his index finger, then spoke.
“Mm-mm, what is it?”
Mira answered while moving the documents from the sofa into a random place on the floor in order to make herself more stable and comfortable.
“You...you’re Danbulf, aren’t you?”
The moment these words were spoken, the documents in Mira’s hands spilled out and scattered on the floor, her eyes were filled with surprise as she stared at Solomon. She was just in the middle of thinking of how should she speak with Solomon while retaining her image and not receive too much damage to her dignity as a human. As a result Mira, was completely taken by surprise by this one-sided question from Solomon.
After skipping any needless probing, Solomon made a mischievous expression filled with confidence.
Solomon’s expression was the same as that of the Solomon she knew, which was more than enough to convince her that this boy in front of her was doubtlessly the very same close friend of hers with whom she used to work hard together.
Although Mira did not know the reasons for this, it sped things up. There was no reason to beat around the bush. Concluding that she could ignore the case of her image and prioritize confirmation of the current situation, she ignored the documents that she spilled and sat back down on the sofa.
"Mm-hm, I’m surprised you noticed.”
She affirmed it shortly. Hearing these words Solomon grinned widely.
“This look of yours, the gap is no joke!”
Covering his mouth Solomon started to chuckle, every time he glanced at Mira appearance, he would burst into laughter.
“Blah-blah yadda-yadda, there’s plenty of reasons for this.”
Seeing his reaction, Mira grew sulky and glared at him with a sour look.
“Still, you changed way too much. Though in a way, it’s very like you. This loli is so like you.”
"Gimme a break.”
Suppressing his laughter Solomon once again looked all over Mira’s body and gave his seal of approval, but pouting Mira just turned to the side and pursed her lips.
No one at a glance would consider these two to be a combination of the highest class spellcaster and a country’s highest authority.
“So, tell me first: what is this world?”
Mira threw out the simplest and most efficient question into the air.
Solomon who finished laughing for the time being had recovered his posture and after organizing information in his head, announced.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? You spent thirty years here and you don’t know anything?”
Hearing this answer, Mira opened her eyes wide with surprise.
“Well, let’s see. To be precise, I know that this world exists as reality and not a game, but I don’t know whether it exists somewhere in the far cosmos of Earth we were born on, or if it’s inside some other universe based on different laws, or even some kind of different kind of world beyond our comprehension. We still haven’t learned anything like that.”
“Mm, I see. But well, it is real, right?”
“There’s no doubt about that. I spent thirty years with my consciousness clear, so all this being a dream is out of question, if it was, what kind of horrible daydream would this be?”
Solomon shrugged and looked at a bookcase which had the documents on everything that happened within these last thirty years, and upon seeing how many were there, “I sure did my best.”, he said praising himself.
“Well, looking from my perspective I can still consider it a dream.”
“You’re still forgiven that if it’s been just two days, but unfortunately, this IS reality.”
Two days, hearing these words Mira recalled question she wanted to ask even more.
“By the way, Solomon. Whence did you realize I am Danbulf himself?”
Mira recalled that she gave him almost no hint on her identity. If anything, the excuse that she received the Master Key from her master was kind of painful. Though in fact, Litaria and Mariana were convinced by it. Above all, it was almost impossible to predict that the person missing for thirty years would suddenly appear now. However, Solomon managed to pinpoint Mira’s identity.
She thought there had to be a reason he was so certain.
“Nn, well. It would take long if I went into details so I’ll put it simple. I received a report from our Spell-Clad Knights that they met a girl called Mira who is capable of summoning a monstrously powerful Dark Knight. And immediately after that, I heard that a girl called Mira who introduced herself as Danbulf’s disciple has appeared in the towers.”
“You say you realized it from just that?”
“No. I received this information yesterday after I confirmed my friend list, and found that you turned online after being offline for thirty years.”
“You said “friend list"?”
Of course, Mira knew what a friend list is. It was a list that allowed the player to check if his or her comrades were in game at the moment.
What she was puzzled about, that she did not know where was the friend list accessible from now. If it was possible to open it, she would have thought of checking it already. However, she did not do it because the friend list was among the options in the system menu that disappeared.
But Solomon said that he confirmed with it that Mira was online.
“The system menu disappeared, so how did you check it?”
“Ohh, I see. You came just yesterday so you only know the way it used to work back when it was a game, right.”
He said and touched the bracelet on his left hand in the place that caused the menu to open, then waited with fingers on it. Finally, a window different than the menu window, one only visible by Solomon was displayed.
“You need to do this, just try.”
Mira imitated the way he pressed the menu button for a prolonged amount of time. As a result, a window different from the menu window has appeared, which she immediately checked.
The options lined up there were “Friend List", “Map" and “Blessings".
“This is an option I haven’t seen before…"
Murmuring so, Mira tried selecting the “Map" option that appeared in the window and the window had turned completely white.
“Mm, hey Solomon. What is this map option? I don’t remember an option like that existing before.”
She did not understand how it worked just by trying it, so she thought it would be faster to ask. Solomon closed his window and turned his gaze towards Mira.
“Map is a newly added option, if you have a map item inside your item box’s important items category, you are able easily display it through this option.”
“Hooh, so that’s how it works. That is convenient.”
Hearing the explanation, Mira immediately understood how useful the new option was.
A map function was a very important thing for games with a big world to play in, but there was none for Ark-Ars Online. If there was anything resembling it, it would be a rough sketch of the world map sold in the three initial countries, and even that was a very expensive item for the newcomers. Afterwards, players have started creating detailed maps by themselves, but it still required them to take out the local map every time to check up on it. Of course, the player’s current position was not marked on it.
“Right? If you have a map on you, you should move it to important items category.”
Told so, Mira immediately opened the item box, but did not have even a single map on her.
“Oh right, I left all of them on my flying island.”
“Awww my, that’s unfortunate.”
The flying island Mira was talking about was the premium item purchased for 2000 Yen called the Flying Continent. Thinking that carrying all the maps in item box would make a mess of it, she kept them inside a treehouse on the Flying Continent. After all, whether she went to a dungeon, a labyrinth, or some other field, she did it by using the Flying Continent. And as she traveled she only picked up the required map before getting off. Now, her way of doing things backfired on her.
There, Mira recalled something else.
“Speaking of which, I can’t find the Premium Items option.”
When she said so, Solomon made a meaningful smile and spoke in a voice as if casting a shadow on something.
“It seems that Premium Items option disappeared, as did Message Vox, Shut Down and Logout.”
The premium items option just like the name suggested, was an option that allowed management of all premium items. The Flying Continent was used through this window as well. If that option had disappeared, it meant it was impossible to use the Flying Continent any more.
“I was surprised by this at first as well. I left holy swords of all colors on the flying island, you see… Ahh, it still comes to me now that I recall it…"
And then, for a while longer the two stared into emptiness under the moderate lighting of the lamps. They recalled all the lost items. The shadow the two cast on the wall was much like their hearts at the moment, unreliable and shaky.
“But well, so that's why you sent for me right away, mm?”
Although the wound was still deep, Mira managed to regain composure.
“Yeah. That timing was too good. And since your appearance changed it means you used the Cosmetic Box, right? It’s not impossible.”
After sealing the wounds of the past, Solomon faced the reality in front of him again.
“If I knew it would turn out like this I wouldn’t use…”
“You obsessed about your looks so much, took screenshots and thought up cool poses, so I thought you really liked that grandpa of yours, so why did you change him?”
“Well, that’s...it’s a long story.”
After starting like this, Mira began to explain from when she received the mail with notification of the expiring web money, through being unable to afford anything but the 500 yen Cosmetic Box. She dodged the explanation of wanting to make an ideal woman’s image, and explained that she tried making a character simply out of curiosity about various parts.
“And then you turned like this, eh.”
That sure was unfortunate, Solomon added and his face was slightly dyed with pity.
“Mm-mm, yeah. I don’t remember confirming the edit because I fell asleep while still playing with it.”
“Hee, it’s rare of you to fall asleep like that. You must have been really into it.”
“Before I realized I pulled off an all-nighter.”
At this point, Mira realized that she made a slip of the tongue. Solomon whom she knew for a long time, had already noticed that she dodged some details. As if to prove it, he raised the corners of his lips in a grin.
“Looks like you were quite serious when making this Mira-chan of yours.”
"...It’s my finest creation…"
“Yup, yup. I’ll say it again: this loli is so like you.”
Solomon smiled like a kid who succeeded in a prank, but this smile of his had twisted into a black grin.
In the past, the two revealed to each other what kind of idols they liked, what kind of characters they thought were nice, and so on. Therefore, the two understood each other’s tastes very well and Solomon was able to easily discern the straightforward reason for Mira’s current appearance.
Although up until now Mira shared her tastes by giving examples of other characters, her current appearance was order-made from head to toe and made from third perspective. Realizing that in a way, her appearance itself was the incarnation of her fetishes, Mira threw herself without power at the back of the sofa.
“Solomon, do you maybe have a Cosmetic Box on you?”
Mira spoke, clinging to hope.
“I do, look.”
Without making any meaningful comments, Solomon immediately took out an oriental black box out of his item box. It was without doubt the “Cosmetic Box", the glossy lacquering was too distinctive to mistake it.
For just an instant Mira stared at the box as if it stole all her reason, then stood up and charged straight at Solomon.
Being leaped at by Mira, Solomon fell over along with the chair. Furthermore her clothes’ ribbons got caught on some small articles on the table which fell down and made loud noise before rolling on the ground.
“Solomon-sama, did something happen?!”
Quickly responding to a loud noise, Reinard opened the door without any hesitation, but was faced with a scene beyond his imagination.
The two were entangled with one another. Mira was riding on top of Solomon and leaned forward, holding his hands which in turn held the Cosmetic Box. At a glance it looked like Mira had assaulted him, but Solomon’s posture was also a problem. The hands he protruded to support Mira had splendidly grasped the two bulges, and his leg had rolled up the hem of her skirt-turned robe as to reveal her lower body.
“No, there is no problem.”
Said Solomon while trying to pretending to be calm, but no matter how one looked at it, there WAS a problem.
“Damn you wench, you finally showed your true colors!”
Naturally, Reinard immediately went berserk. However, making his head cool off was the job of Joachim who peeked into the room soon after Reinard had.
“Calm down, Reinard-san. Try looking at them carefully. Come on, look. At first it might seem like Mira-sama had pushed him down, but check Solomon-sama’s hands. They’re firmly fondling.”
Told so and Reinard confirmed that himself, his eyebrow twitched as he anguished.
“Mhh, certainly… However…!!”
Reinard attempted to refute, but Joachim had stopped him with his hand and revealed his deduction.
“It other words, they must have been lost their balance while they were playing together, and thus the current situation. That’s how it is! I thought Solomon-sama had no interest in women, but it appears his interests matched his appearance. I understand it all now. With this, our Arkite Kingdom’s future is secure.”
As he admonished Reinard, Joachim made a smile that suggested he was enjoying the situation.
“But Joachim, would people consent on it being a little girl like that?”
“She’s Danbulf-sama’s disciple, there is no better status than that.”
As the two decided what was happening and came to conclusion all by themselves, Mira and Solomon finally realized in what situation they were in.
Mira was sitting on top of Solomon and leaned forward approaching his face. Solomon felt the ultimate soft sensation with his hands. This, plus Reinard’s and Joachim’s words led them to the answer. Then, after taking a look at each other, the two kicked off powerfully to take distance from each other.
“Wait you guys, you’re misunderstanding something.”
“Indeed, just as she says. I was just involved when Mira fell over, it was not for the reason you were thinking.”
In panic, the two tried to explain themselves. However, these words had no persuasiveness towards Reinard and Joachim who just saw them in such state.
“Ah, Solomon-sama. Please make sure act with accordance with sense of morals.”
“For the kingdom… For the heir…"
Joachim said something needless and Reinard started imagining the future as the he left the room and closed the door behind himself.
“We’re having an emergency meeting later…"
“You sure have it hard.”
“You aren’t unrelated either, are you.”
“I won’t have any problems as long as I use the Cosmetic Box to turn back to how I was.”
Rather than think of how to clear the misunderstanding, it was easier to go back to her usual appearance. Is what Mira said as she pointed at the Cosmetic Box in Solomon’s hand.
“Ahh. Not happening. Did you forget that this is a premium item?”
“Of course I remember that. It’s true that we can no longer buy any more of these items, so it’s really precious, I’m aware of that. If you let me use it I promise I will do anything in my power for you. So…"
Looking like a kitten aiming for its prey, Mira extended her hand towards Solomon’s hand.
“Premium items’ rule: you cannot pass them to others.”
Said Solomon as he extended the Cosmetic Box to Mira.
“But I can take it just like this, look...hey, what’s going on?”
Mira attempted to receive the Cosmetic Box from Solomon, but her fingers peeking out from inside the sleeves have cut through the empty air in vain as if she was toyed with by the three-dimensional object.
“What is the meaning of this?”
Making an expression of disbelief, Mira looked at her own hands which literally passed through the the black box.
“It’s just what it looks to be. Even though everything turned into reality, the rules that were in place are still valid. Items like this Cosmetic Box which couldn’t be transferred to others, still can’t and items like your Master Key which have set owner can be passed to someone, but it’s impossible to take them by force.”
“You’re saying there is no other way but to get a Cosmetic Box on my own?”
Moving her face close to the box that is supposed to be there, Mira squinted.
“Exactly. But as you already know, we’re in a hopeless situation when it comes to premium items.”
“This can’t be…”
After the two exchanged words, Mira fell onto the sofa face first. An emotion resembling resignation took control of her head and she finally began to think at full power what excuse to make for her current state.
“Are there no exceptions?”
Turning just her head, Mira clung onto the sliver of hope.
“These thirty years I haven’t heard of a single one.”
“This can’t be…"
This answer which had a historical basis to it, had easily shattered her remaining hope. Lying down on the sofa, Mira recalled her past manly appearance and closed her eyes to escape into the world of delusions.
“I wish I could do something for you, but it’s as you see.”
“Do you really think so? I’m sure yer laughing at me on the inside.”
Mira’s appearance idling on the sofa and thinking in negatives made her look like a sulking child.
“Oh no, of course not. It’s not like you forgot about this country in those two days, have you? Protected by you all, this country was able to stand equal to others. I would never laugh at you...right?”
Solomon glanced at Mira’s appearance on the sofa and nearly burst into laughing, so he erased his expression in order to bear it.
However, Mira did not miss how the edges of his mouth trembled slightly.
“See? I knew it.”
“Sorry, sorry. But I’m serious about my feelings of wanting to help.”
While saying so, Solomon looked at Mira with his usual soft smile. She responded glaring at him with a pouty look on her face.
“Oh, by the way. Did you know that our important pillars, Sages are missing?”
Solomon averted his gaze and tried changing the topic.
He was talking about Arkite Kingdom’s greatest incident where all Elders have disappeared within a year since Danbulf’s disappearance.
“Mm-hm, I heard from Graya. Apparently everyone disappeared at the same time. However, I also heard that Luminaria returned twenty years ago, so I stopped by the towers.”
“I see, so that’s why you went to the towers. Well, if you know that much then I’ll put it shortly, what do you think would happen to this country without the strongest shield that you guys were?”
Solomon asked a question as if this was a quiz. He was smiling, but there was a shadow on his face.
She could easily imagine it. Mira squinted a little and stroked her chin with a finger, then while still lying down she started to deliberate.
By using the shield that were the Nine Sages and by avoiding offensive wars, Arkite Kingdom was able to avoid friction with other countries. Because the lands were fertile and rich and the king was not greedy, there was no need to steal lands of others and the kingdom could focus on defense, thanks to which it also became possible to establish trade with other countries.
However, the country lost those pillars.
The official announcement was made after Luminaria had returned twenty years ago, but even if she was one of the Nine Sages, she was unable to bear the burden of the entire country.
As a result, the amount of interventions by other countries who wished to claim the profitable lands have increased, and while it did not turn into a full-blown war, the multiple small skirmishes have gradually fatigued the country.
That was the situation Arkite Kingdom was currently in. Even if it was just one, if another of the Nine Sages returned it would grant the country an unfathomable influence. Even more so if it was Danbulf the Army, who was famous to be top among the Nine Sages when it came to group battles.
“This is my opinion as the king, but you are this country’s hero. Your existence alone has an enormous influence, but we can’t grandly spread the news that you turned into a loli, can we.”
Mira had introduced herself as the Sage’s disciple for a similar reason, but for her own sake, so she was unable to refute now..
“You are the same person so your skill did not change, but the impression you give is completely different. It might not have been a problem if you looked like this right from the start, but your image which deeply rooted itself into this country is that of an old and experienced spellcaster who had appearance which was truly fitting a Sage’s title.”
Hearing Solomon praise her image of a perfect man, Mira’s mood improved, she affirmed what he said and posing, looked at Solomon happily.
“Right? Even now I can assert that he was my greatest masterpiece.”
“And what do you think would happen to that hero’s image if it was known that he turned into a girl like this?”
Told so, Mira imagined it. A respected character like the two whom she based Danbulf’s name off, being turned into a young girl.
Muttering that, Mira completely understood the situation she was in.
“That’s how it is. Personally I would love to announce that Danbulf has returned to the country, but because of this we can’t make this appearance of yours public. After all, normal people don’t know about Cosmetic Box.”
“Hmm-mm, how about just announcing it and saying there’s a reason Danbulf can’t show himself?”
Mira made an expression as if it was a great idea and corrected her posture on the sofa.
“That would be difficult. It’s a hero’s return after thirty years, the country would have to host a grand party to celebrate and it wouldn’t work without the main guest. Also, once everything calms down, other countries would definitely send reconnaissance.”
The great idea was discarded. At the same time Mira fell onto the sofa like a discarded doll and started to roll over on it. According to Solomon, a party and celebration would be an inevitable course of events if Danbulf returned after thirty years. Spies seeking to confirm whether it was true or not would come, too, and if they found out that Danbulf was not there, Arkite would lose trust.
However, from the moment Solomon met Mira, he had no intention of announcing Danbulf’s return. There was a more important issue, to relay it, Solomon approached the sofa Mira was lying on.
As he stood by her side, hidden behind Solomon’s smile was a serious look in his eyes, Mira corrected her sitting posture and looked up suspiciously.
It was at that moment, the corridor turned noisy and they heard Reinard and Joachim’s voices. After walking next to the door, Solomon opened it to check what was going on and there, he saw communications officer in charge of national defense.
Using completely different voice from when he was talking with Mira, Solomon spoke calmly and in low tone to the communications officer. Reinard and Joachim saluted and moved to the sides. The communications officer, albeit surprised at Solomon standing next to the door, saluted and read the message aloud.
“An emergency report arrived from Benedict Fort. A herd of monsters has been discovered heading Northwest. The number of monsters is estimated to be two hundred, furthermore, it is comprised of over thirty different species.”
After relaying the report, the communications officer took a step back. He must have been really hurrying as his shoulders were shaking which showed just how urgent this was. Reinard and Joachim were clearly disturbed by this happening.
“Benedict Fort is already within the country’s boundaries, isn’t it. Are you saying that the border guards missed a herd of monsters this big?!”
“It’s too fast for another herd to appear just a day after the last one. Furthermore, it’s the first time a herd has been comprised of over thirty different species. This is worrying.”
While Reinard was irritated, Joachim had calmly analysed the situation despite the concern on his face.
“Another herd after just a day, with mixed species… Hmm, wait for a moment here.”
After turning over the report’s content in his head, Solomon came up with something and returned inside the room, closing the doors behind himself. The communications officer received his words, then corrected his posture standing on attention.
Solomon must have noticed something, or thought something up. Joachim did not miss the faint smile Solomon made at such times.
“I want to ask something of you.”
Once the doors were closed he immediately turned towards the sofa where Mira was lying and pricking up her ears to listen, then spoke.
“Mm, I’m kinda tired after all that carriage travel, though.”
Guessing what was the content of Solomon’s request based on the content of the report, Mira started massaging her calves in overly-dramatized manner.
“Please do it, it can be only you!”
“Then it can’t be helped, leave it to me!”
When he said this in dramatic manner, Mira responded in the same way. There, Solomon put up a happy smile on his face.
“It’s been a while since we did this exchange. It feels really nostalgic.”
“For me, it’s been just about a week since last time, when you asked me to come with you to get the materials needed to make the Hell Gate’s Shield.”
“Ahh, we did go together, yeah. The Hell Gate’s Shield, right. In the end, materials didn’t drop anyway.”
Refusing once, pleading, agreeing. This flow of conversation was a staple between the two when they wanted to ask something of each other. From Solomon’s perspective, it was the first exchange like that since thirty years, so he closed his eyes and laughed happily at the nostalgia.
“That aside, it’s urgent matter, isn’t it. What do I do?”
“Oh sorry, sorry, umm....”
With Mira’s brief comment, Solomon put a lid on the emotions that overflowed one after another and made a crisp expression. Then looking straight at Mira, he recalled one of the summoning abilities Sage Danbulf had.
“By the way, do you have elemental Magic-Sealing Stones?”
“Mm-hm, I’m fully equipped with all types.”
She responded as if it was natural to have them on her.
The Magic-Sealing Stones that Solomon mentioned were made from gemstones that had the characteristic of being able to contain special power, and were imbued with one. These Magic-Sealing Stones were mainly found in the wild, but Danbulf was able to craft them with the Energy-Refining techniques he had created.
Energy-Refining was a technology to extract various elemental powers, buffs and similar, then fuse and affix them. It was a crafting technology also capable of removing powers dwelling in gemstones and affixing them into equipment to improve it, or do just the opposite and remove the power from equipment and imbue it onto gemstones.
“I see, I see. Yup, I’m really glad you came.”
While he said so, Solomon made a smile that mixed in both the happiness caused by the return of a friend, and at his calculations as a the king. Mira knew this expression of his well and it made her relieved to see that Solomon she knew did not change.
“Well then, I’ll explain details as we move so take care of it.”
“Mm-hm, roger that.”
Solomon opened the door vigorously, then after taking a glance at the three’s surprised expressions he grinned and gave them several orders. The communications officer saluted and ran off, Reinard too, had received an order and left the place in order to fulfill it.
“I had them prepare a special vehicle, use it to get to the location.”
Then, Solomon prompted Mira to come over with his hand, said “take her there" towards Joachim.
Answered Joachim and saluted with an elegant gesture, then bowed towards Mira as well.
“I’ll be off then.”
“Yeah, I leave it to you.”
Mira and Solomon briefly exchanged words. To Joachim, it sounded like their voices were full of trust unthinkable of someone who just met for the first time. He recalled Solomon’s words he faintly heard from beyond the door.
『”It can only be you!”』
Most likely still misunderstanding the situation, Joachim guided Mira to where the special vehicle was prepared.
Arkite Castle’s basement, in there, was an exclusive garage for special carriages and other vehicles. After being guided there, Mira stood in front of a fairly modern, matte car frame. The entirety of it was reinforced with metal, exception being a very peculiar barrel on top of it the car. It looked just like an actual armored vehicle. Apparently, this was the special vehicle Solomon spoke about.
“He sure let his hobbies go wild.”
“I quite like it.”
Having a feeling that she saw this kind of vehicle somewhere before, Mira muttered, which was caught up by the coachman-turned-driver, who was Galet.
“To think we would meet again so fast.”
“Oh, no. It’s an honor.”
Squinting, Mira looked to the side at Galet who, a little embarrassed, opened the vehicle’s thick door.
“Please come in, Mira-sama.”
The inside of the vehicle was split into front and back seats just like a civilian car and had heavy sofas placed inside.
Mira knocked on the heavy armor on outside of the armored vehicle and then entered inside to sit down on the soft sofa.
Aside from sofas, the inside was very simply built with leather and wooden boards, but she did not feel it was too bad.
“Hooh, the inside is quite comfortable, unlike the outside suggests.”
“Out of necessity, that is.”
Galet answered with a bitter smile, while Mira bounced on the sofa to check the elasticity. Soon enough she would realize the reason behind this bitter smile.
The armored vehicle departed from Arkite Castle with a strong momentum and started driving in the direction of where the monster herd in the report was located, rushing straight through the toughened road that passed through the plain.
(“That Solomon, he even made something like this, hmm.”)
Releasing her sight from the scenery which flowed at speed beyond comparison with one seen from the long-distance carriage, she turn it toward Galet who was in the front row. Sitting on the driver’s seat, in front of a messy mass of various devices, he manipulated the handle in good mood.
“Mm, it looks really heavy, but drives quite fast.”
The armored vehicle’s windshield was short vertically but wide horizontally and all that could be seen through it was filled with the plains and a forest. Beyond that, there was an unnatural, large white pillar aiming protruding toward the sky.
“Of course it does, it’s crystallization of magic engineering.”
Galet’s voice was very lively when he answered her, although he was facing forward, there was no doubt he had a wide smile on his face.
Hearing an unknown term, Mira asked a question resulting in Galet becoming even more lively as he started explaining.
“Indeed, it’s amazing. It uses power dwelling inside Magic-Sealing Stones to control a device made of various metal parts, is what I heard.”
“Hooh...it uses Magic-Sealing Stones, huh.”
“Yes. This armored jeep was completed just recently, which means that it has been equipped with all the newest technology. However, because of that, the fuel consumption is very intense and it was used only once for a test.”
As he said all this, Galet’s voice further grew in excitement.
“However, just earlier I was told I can use it as I like and received a large number of Magic-Sealing Stones, then was ordered to use this Armored Jeep to deliver Mira-sama as fast as possible to the place of destination! Thank you very much!”
He turned swiftly to say his thanks, then immediately turned back to look forward.
Due to disappearance of the creator of the Energy-Refining technology, Danbulf, there no was no longer anyone remaining who understood the fundamental reasoning behind it, and the technology advancement has practically been stalled. As a result, the production of Magic-Sealing Stones was unable to keep up with the demand, and they have become very valuable items.
And yet, a great many of them were used to deliver Mira. Galet was surprised at the treatment the Sage’s disciple received, but was also greatly thankful.
(“Mm, I see. So that’s why he asked about them...")
Mira recalled how Solomon asked her about Magic-Sealing Stones. In other words, he splurged the moment he found a prospect for stable production. In fact, this was not some special treatment of hers, but an actual test of the armored jeep which has been used only once so far, coupled with quick delivery of Mira to the target location.
The driver, Galet, loved various vehicles more than anyone. This was also of the majority of the reason why he had been made the vice-commander of Combat Vehicle Division. The armored jeep was Galet’s favorite vehicle and being able to drive it without restrictions, he continued to throw Magic-Sealing Stones into the device.
The armored jeep’s performance was far beyond Mira’s imagination, one of its characteristics was the entire vehicle’s strengthening which used the power of Magic-Sealing Stones. It would not even budge if it rammed into some monsters, and driving at full speed did not put any strain on the car itself.
But that was not the case for what was inside it.
“This shaking...can’t you do something about it?!”
Mira screamed as she tumbled on the sofa. This was caused by the fact that the vehicle started driving straight through the middle of the plain.
The armored jeep, which had all the newest technology gathered into its creation, was equipped with the newest communication device allowing it to make and take calls. Thanks to that, they received the newest information which said that the monster herd was heading straight for some particular location. It was not a place humans lived in, instead being having plains and forest. The only characteristic thing about it, was an extremely tall white pillar in a flower field shooting toward the heavens.
Therefore, predicting their goal, the armored jeep was able to head straight for it. The plain full of bumps and holes caused the vehicle to shake horribly and even send it flying sometimes. Every time that happened, Mira was also sent into the air to be later caught by a soft sofa. This was the reason why Galet made a bitter smile before, when he said that the sofa was a necessity.
“I can see the flower field, we’ll reach it soon!”
To Galet who was in perfect spirits now, there was no word “stop" as Armored Jeep cut across the plain.
“Hmm-mm...I can see...a flower...field…"
Being bounced up and down on the sofa as if she was participating in some trampoline-involving sport, Mira imagined a different kind of a flower field.
After they climbed a hill filled with vivid greens, the armored jeep leaped along with all the momentum into the air. Feeling a floating sensation, Galet let out a shout of joy.
Ahead of the hill, there was a gentle slope beyond which a sparse forest of even deeper green color had spread, inside of which in the distance, there was a neat circular space with a flower field. Standing in the middle of the flower field like a guardian sword, was a pure white pillar.
Mira corrected her posture on the seat and straining her eyes she stared through the windshield.
“This looks like bingo.”
The white pillar standing there had twice the height of the Silver Towers, and from the forest in its surroundings crowded a group which headed straight for the pillar. Since it was still quite far away, Mira was unable to tell what species were there, but she could tell that the chaotic group was certainly monsters.
“Still, based on the distance it seems like they will reach it first.”
The monster herd was far, far closer to the pillar than the two and it was not a distance that could be recovered even with armored jeep’s speed.
“It can’t be helped, hurry there as quickly as possible.”
“As you order!”
Answered Galet and threw in three Magic-Sealing Stones at once into the motor device. The heart of the armored jeep, device responsible for converting the Magic-Sealing Stones’ power into motor power had started to let out a high-pitched sound, making Mira’s expression twitch as changed her order to “hurry, but drive safely".
Getting off the gentle slope, the jeep rushed through the sparse forest pushing aside thick grasses and sparsely growing trees. Then, a few minutes later they approached close enough to be able to see details of the monster herd.
While doing her best not to look at Galet who held the handle with a strange look in his eyes, Mira captured the sight of monsters trampling carelessly over the flower bed, and then.
“What is going on there…"
The moment they reached it, the monster herd that until now only aimed for their destination, has brandished their weapons and started killing each other. While this herd was comprised of mixed monsters, there were also several monsters of the same species among them. However, that did not appear to matter to them, as monsters just attacked the one that was closest to them.
“What are they doing…?! I’ll hurry!”
There were monsters that preyed on other monsters, however, there were no species that devoured its own kind. Moreover, if this was related to preying on others, they would not move together like that in the first place.
(“Is there something they’re fighting over in there? Or, can it be…")
Regardless of what was their goal, it was certain that they were still in the middle of acting towards it. Feeling an unknown anxiety, Mira rolled on the sofa.
Once the armored jeep stopped right before the flower field, a single girl opened the door with such strength that it seemed it would break, and jumped outside.
“A Lesser Demon… I knew it, so this guy was responsible for it.”
Among the monsters there was one distorted existence, a Lesser Demon of the demon race stood there, with wounds all over him.
The monsters who continued to kill each other in no time decreased in numbers and finally, when there was just one left, the Lesser Demon cut off his head.
“What an annoying voice.”
In the corner of the flower field, the demon let out an insane cackling laughter. Mira glared at him and immediately summoned a Dark Knight.
The black knight who appeared, rushed forward while scattering monster bodies on his way, then in no time he split the Lesser Demon in half. That moment, something that looked like a black fog spewed from the wound and was blown towards the sky. However, it had dispersed soon after, as if melting in the air. Beneath it, the Lesser Demon’s body which was added to the large number of corpses, could be seen to have retained a smile of delight.
“What a horrible sight this is.”
Once he caught up, Galet took a look around and said so. Flowers, which had originally spread everywhere in the sight were now polluted by blood and blackened. Like a defiled maiden, flowers fell fallen over powerlessly, but there were places still remaining where flowers remained untouched. Mostly the outer part of the circle was devastated, and about half of the entire field including the center has been untouched by a single droplet of blood.
“Well then, I guess we should go back, mm? Oh, but we need to deal with corpses before that.”
If it was a game, monsters would have naturally disappeared, but Mira recalled what happened right after she came to this world. That is knights burning the goblin corpses that her Dark Knight had slaughtered.
“That’s true. At this rate, there would be a lot of ghouls appearing.”
After taking a glance at the countless monsters lying on the ground, Galet said “I’ll go get it" and ran off towards the armored jeep.
Once he returned after a moment, he was holding two small bags.
“First let’s gather them all together. Mira-sama, could you please put this on monsters’ bodies?”
He said and extended a hand with one of the bags to her.
"...Hmm, and what is this?”
Inside the bag she received, there was white powder. Just as she was told, Mira had pinched some of it and put it over a monster and asked.
“It’s Hamelin Ash. Ah, a small pinch between two fingers is enough.”
After saying so, Galet ran in a trot over the flower field and started to put ash over monsters.
In the end, Mira decided to ask what did this ash do at a later time, and imitating Galet, started to spread it.
The work was done in about ten minutes, after which the two stood next to the armored jeep.
“Now, let’s quickly finish this and head back.”
While saying so, Galet moved a little forward and placed a square stone on the ground. And once he came back, a little abnormal sight entered Mira’s vision. The dead monsters started getting up.
Although Mira put her guard up for a moment, seeing Galet act calmly, she realized the meaning behind the name of the ash from earlier, convinced.
Without any signs of life in their eyes, the monsters headed for the stone, gathering mechanically, and lied down one on top of another.
After a few minutes the monster corpses formed a pile.
“Let’s burn them now. Mira-sama, please stand back.”
Galet said so quickly and jumped on top of the armored jeep and turned the cannon installed on it toward the mountain of corpses.
“Put in a flame Magic-Sealing Stone and...here, this must be it. Well then, I’m firing!”
An instant after he manipulated something, a thundering roar spread and a stream of light was sucked into the mountain of corpses, resulting in a pillar of flames that rose up into the sky as if to pierce the heavens.
“This is...a splendid flame, mm.”
Mira muttered as she stood in front of the flame which scattered ash all around, and when she turned towards Galet, she smiled wryly when saw him make a refreshed expression.
With the herd dealt with and as the armored jeep left the flower field, Mira peeked into the rear windshield. What flashed through her head, was the appearance of the Lesser Demon which was already covered in wounds, the smile he showed at the very end. Demons often guided low rank monsters, and Mira suspected that this herd was brought there by that Lesser Demon.
“Hmm-mm…? Wasn’t it whiter before?”
The white pillar stood there disregarding all the turmoil that happened beneath it. However, to Mira it looked as if it had blackened a little, as if it drank the monsters’ blood.
A herd of monsters appeared inside the country’s territory. After completing its extermination, Mira returned to the Arkite Castle and after quickly reporting what happened, she sat down in the corner of the sofa that was inside the office.
“To think a sofa could be this calming when it doesn’t shake.”
When returning she was thrown around by the armored jeep again, so once she was finally released, she made a slovenly expression and elegantly tilted a flask with Apple au Lait.
“To think that of all things, a Lesser Demon would be involved. So, the herd was wiped out but he completed his objective, is that right?”
“Mm-hm, no doubt. He let out that jarring cackling.”
Recalling the Lesser Demon’s creepy laughter at the very end, Mira placed the flask with half of the Apple au Lait remaining on the table.
Lesser Demon’s laughter. Most likely every player knew of it, it was something like a sign that the enemy has completed his objective. In other words, the Lesser Demon had completed his objective before the Dark Knight cut him down.
“That’s worrying. I’m already busy enough, and here another bothersome thing appears.”
Back when it was still a game, any and all events that Lesser Demons were involved in, were a real pain and completing them mostly left people with a bad aftertaste. Of course, Solomon too had experienced this before, which is why he made an annoyed expression as he picked up the report.
“Nhm, are you including me in that?”
Mira, who appeared not as Danbulf himself but as his disciple, had reacted to the words “bothersome thing appears".
“No no, of course not. If anything, you would resolve those...whoops, I guess this was a quite long break, but we were talking about how we can’t announce your return as a Sage, right?”
“Now that you say it, yeah.”
“So, I have this great idea.”
Solomon pushed the gathered report documents to the corner of the desk, and crossing fingers of his hands in a steepling pose like a certain commander character, he leaned forward and continued.
“Hooh, so what is it?”
Hearing that, her gaze grew sharper and she corrected her posture on the sofa, then put a finger on the end of her chin. These were the “serious talk poses" that were once a fad among their comrades.
“Once you have some accomplishments that anyone can admit, we just have to announce that you will succeed the Elder’s position as Danbulf’s disciple.”
What Solomon meant, was that they should put some more weight into Mira’s current title of the Sage’s disciple. Not many would believe that this girl who appeared so suddenly is Danbulf, and even if they did believe, Danbulf would lose dignity due to his changed appearance, and it was unknown what kind of bad influence it would have.
And in case where she was to immediately be put on Sage’s position as Danbulf’s disciple, it would mean that a young girl, although a hero’s disciple, but who had no accomplishments was put in position on top of spellcasters and given authority to influence the fate of the country. It was unknown what kind of needless backlash would come from the spellcasters who seriously trained themselves all this time.
But, what if her appearance was coupled along with a great contribution to the country?
“It will definitely go well, is what I can’t say, but I think it’s worth trying. Rather, I want you to do it.”
There was also a simple method of showing Mira’s skills off, but Solomon decided to discard it. Mira herself did not seem to understand it, but becoming Danbulf’s successor was now, a matter heavy beyond imagination. He thought that accomplishments matching the status were necessary to convince everyone.
“Well, I get the circumstances. So, what do you intend to make me do, mm?”
When Mira asked this, Solomon took a deep breath and crossed his arms. Then with a serious attitude, he made a slightly troubled expression.
“Danbulf...no, I’ll call you Mira from now on, we have no idea were it might leak.”
“Mm-hm, do as you like.”
“So, Mira. The thing I want to ask you to do, is to find everyone.”
Mira put a finger on her chin and repeated the word “everyone". He said “everyone" but she had no idea who was it about. For an instant after hearing that she had no idea what it meant, but based on the context she eventually made a prediction. When she reached the answer, she furrowed her eyebrows and made a really aggravated expression.
“Aren’t Luminaria and I the only Sages in this world?”
“Nope, if anything - you are the last one.”
“When you first came here I taught you how friend list works, right? You can check it yourself.”
Told so, Mira operated the bracelet. She displayed the hidden window and opened the friend list, there, she found the names of her past friends with whom she was close. Solomon and Luminaria’s names were displayed in white. And once she found the names she was looking for, she made a very, very languid expression as she stared at them displayed in white.
There were seven names Mira confirmed. In other words, they were names of all sages except for Danbulf and Luminaria.
“So that they are.”
“Then why aren’t they here?”
Solomon had realized that Mira was Danbulf thanks to noticing that Danbulf had become online. In other words, it could be interpreted that online meant being in this world. However, only Luminaria was here in their home base.
“I don’t know that, which is why I want you to search for them.”
“That’s one bothersome request. Where do you want me to look for them? Towers aside, they aren’t the bunch to stay in one place.”
“Well, honestly speaking I think it will take time. But if possible, I would like you to find half of them within this year.”
Half within a year. Not knowing what was his true intent behind the time limit Solomon gave, Mira asked a question.
“Half within a year sounds like quite the hurry. Searching for those guys with zero clues isn’t something that can be done within a year or two.”
Mira knew everyone quite long, so she understood them fairly well. Therefore, she was also well aware of parts of them that were beyond understanding.
“Well, that’s true. But it has to be within this year no matter what. The timing of you coming to this world is also barely within the limit, I even felt this must be fate.”
Solomon was well-aware that it will not go easy. And therefore he wanted to leave it to the one who had the highest chances of accomplishing it.
The boy’s expression with furrowed eyebrows, showing that he was tired from the bottom of his heart really did not fit him, but Mira realized based on way he spoke and his expression that he was at his wit’s end.
“Whence does this hurry come from? Tell me the reason.”
When Mira asked this, Solomon picked up a single document file from a bookcase, placed it on the table next to the sofa and opened it.
Written in the file were the records of the battle that happened ten years ago. A memory of the conversation with Graya passed by the corner of Mira’s head. After a certain battle, the rate at which monsters appeared had increased.
“Defense of Three Gods’ Countries…huh.”
After glancing at the content in the file, Mira checked the cover and muttered as she read the title.
“You heard of it?”
“Mm-hm. It’s about ten years ago, right? Graya said the number of monster attacks increased after that.”
While glaring at the file, Mira recalled what she heard from Graya.
“Yup. Ever since everyone disappeared I had to dispatch knights. There’s a lot of dispatches so the military costs are no joke.”
As he explained, Solomon sat down next to Mira and drank some of the Apple au Lait she started drinking earlier.
“This excessively sweet taste sure is nostalgic.”
“Nuh, drinking my stuff without permission. In your position there must be plenty of better stuff for you to drink, no?”
“I’m not a genuine king, after all. I still haven’t forgotten my love for junk food.”
He said and extended a hand with a the empty flask and an empty hand to Mira, he was prompting her for more.
“Really you. So, how is this related to your reason? It’s already in the past, no? So what, you want us to come back and exterminate the monsters again so that you can scrimp on military funding?”
Mira pushed the empty flask aside, took out a fresh Apple au Lait, and passed it to Solomon.
“Ahh, well. That would help me a lot, but there’s a more pressing problem.”
While saying so, Solomon drank some of the Apple au Lait and turned pages to stop at certain point. It was a page titled “Limited Armistice Treaty".
“Hm, and this is?”
After glaring at the title, Mira looked away from the text written in small letters, requesting an instant answer.
“You weren’t around so you don’t know, but the Defense of Three Gods’ Countries was a battle that scoped far beyond all wars we have experienced in the past. I think that if I said, the kings and pope of the three initial countries took the direct command, it will be easier for you to understand.”
“What…? Those immovable kings moved?”
It was no wonder Mira was surprised. The three initial countries were countries that all players started affiliated with. They existed before players founded their first countries where the new players were guaranteed safety.
Even during the nation-founding rush there was no country who would declare war against the three initial countries. And even if they had, those three countries had NPCs capable of easily wiping out even top players.
For three kings of such countries to move personally, spoke of the size of the incident. To digress a little, the nickname “immovable kings" Mira mentioned was given to them because no one has ever seen them in action.
“The battle has been named Defense of Three Gods’ Countries, but that’s because the initial three countries contributed the most on the frontlines. This war has involved the entire continent. It all started from a large army of demons who flew in from the sky. They mainly attacked the three countries, but once they received reinforcements they spread all over. Because demons started attacking the nearby countries, the damage naturally spread and many small countries were destroyed. It was horrible.”
Solomon made an anguished expression as he said it was horrible, showing that he was truly a gentle king who cared for his people. Seeing him like that, Mira said “Is that so.” and while she still did not completely understand, she lamented for her close friend.
“In any case, there was a large war like that ten years ago. With a war that large, you can imagine what happened afterwards, right?”
“Everyone was busy with reconstructions, weren’t they.”
“Correct. That’s why all countries made the Limited Armistice Treaty to restrain each other. The content was simple, the treaty is in effect for ten years, war and any actions related to it are forbidden.”
In other words, all countries in the continent thought “we can’t hold a proper war, so how about we decide not to try one-up another and focus on rebuilding?”.
“And the deadline for that treaty is close, is that it?”
Based on the context of the conversation Mira pointed at the time limit. In other words, when the time is up, everyone will be able to war again.
With only one of the Sages, Arkite Kingdom’s main force being there, it was possible for enemy countries to find a chance to attack. The abundant, rich land would give them a lot of benefits and there was no other country as versed in spells as Arkite Kingdom, if they took over the country they would be make a lot of that knowledge theirs.
“Honestly speaking, it’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re being protected by that treaty. Even if it isn’t enough to completely deter them, I at least want enough military power to protect ourselves. I’ll say it one more time. Mira, will you go find everyone?”
Mira closed the file and after a short pause, she stared back at Solomon’s serious eyes. She already had the answer in her heart.
“Very well, I’ll undertake it.”
When she answered, Solomon said “thank you" and smiled broadly.
“Now that we’re done with that, we should talk about where and how to look…"
Solomon drank all of Apple au Lait he received and then spoke while playing around with the empty flask, sneaking sighs in between words. All of the Sages were eccentric and hard to deal with weirdos.
“THAT is the problem. They aren’t someone you can find easily.”
“Right? Your too strong quirks are the problem.”
He said so, and looking through the flask at Mira he added “and one of you turns into this" then smiled wryly. However, his eyes looking at the best friend he met for the first time in thirty years were cheerful.
While they were talking like this, suddenly a noise came from the front. Immediately after, ignoring Reinard’s pleads to stop, a single woman opened the door of the office with so much strength it nearly broke.
That person who snatched away Mira’s and Solomon’s gaze, was a woman wearing a white and blue robe,and had extremely attractive proportions of her body and beautiful facial features. It was a beauty that would steal anyone’s gaze.
This beauty had a deep crimson hair that looked like it was burning, her boobs were unimpeded from asserting themselves as they shook. She glanced at Solomon with her crimson eyes which did not lose to the color of her hair, then poured her gaze at the girl.
“What happened all of a sudden? It is not the appointed time yet.”
Completely changing his manner of speaking and adjusting it into one full of dignity, Solomon fixed his gaze on the beauty who had entered the office. At the same time she heard these words, she closed the door with a strong momentum.
Being hit in the head by the closing door, Reinard made an expression of anguish as he staggered and tears appeared in his eyes. Seeing him like that, Joachim put a hand on his shoulder and comforted him by saying “don’t mind it, saying anything to that person is pointless".
“I heard a girl calling herself Danbulf’s disciple came, so I went to the guestroom to take a look at her, but I found no one. And when I wrung up a guard nearby he told me you moved to the office, so I came here.”
The beauty said so with a bright smile then faced Solomon.
“I see. Well, in any case, I thought of bringing her to you later anyway.”
After saying so, Solomon approached Mira.
“This girl’s Danbulf’s disciple, Mira.”
Introduced like that, Mira did not stand up from the seat or said any greeting, she just stared at the woman standing in front of the door, smiling bitterly at how the woman did not change, then reseated herself on the sofa.
“Is that so, so this is the girl. With that said, Solomon-sama. Should you be speaking this way?”
The way of speaking the beauty pointed out, was the speech mannerism that he had once corrected to a self-important one for showing dignity as a king, one he used when speaking with friends. The two had decided that when there was someone together with them, they would act in appropriate manner.
“Yeah, no problem. I mean, this is Danbulf himself. So you can speak normally, too. It’s been many years, but I still can’t get used to you speaking this way.”
While saying this, Solomon made a mischievous smile.
“Ahh, been a while, Luminaria, is what it is I guess. Though to me, it’s been just two days.”
Retaining a relaxed posture on the sofa, Mira just raised one hand in a greeting.
Luminaria. It was the name of one of the Nine Sages and the only Elder whose whereabouts were currently known.
“I see. Danbulf, huh. You’ve finally come here…"
Luminaria captured Mira’s entire body within her sight as if to examine her. Then seeing the adorable appearance of the girl, she clearly recalled the time when she had a discussion with Danbulf on their preferences.
Mira’s appearance perfectly matched the characteristics she heard back then. Seeing her best friend unchanged, Luminaria was both happy and amused, and she burst out into laughter.
Hearing the laughing voice leak leak out just slightly out of the office through the closed door, Reinard had covered his ears and together with Joachim they nodded to each other. Luminaria sometimes changes into a completely different person. That was the rumor whispered in the castle, which was correct in a sense.
After rolling about with laughter, Luminaria once again captured Mira in her sights. She grinned and made a meaningful expression.
“This means you finally realized how wonderful this is, right? A woman’s body is great, isn’t it. Did you play with it to your heart’s content yet?”
And while the first thing she said were really indecent words, Luminaria’s glossy lips with their ends raised in a smile were so alluring that they turned even such words into part of her charm.
“Don’t lump me together with you. It was an accident, so to speak, not my will.”
After stroking Mira’s silver hair all over, Luminaria pulled on her collar with a finger to peek inside and spoke after confirming that inside of the clothes was also perfect.
"...Ungh. It’s a long story.”
Irritated, Mira brushed off Luminaria’s hand and concisely explained everything, starting from the mail notice about expiring web money up until now.
“I got the Cosmetic Box I have for the same reason as you. I didn’t use it though.”
Once Mira finished explaining, Solomon said that he bought the Cosmetic Box for the same reason of not wanting to waste the money.
“In which case, I’m the same.”
Said Luminaria and took out a Cosmetic Box out of the item box, then played with it in her hands. Glaring at Luminaria hatefully, Mira pursed her lips sulkily and lied down on the sofa.
“I wonder why I don’t have one.”
“Because you used it, duh.”
Mira’s heart was gouged by Solomon’s blunt words and she growled “ughh”, before facing up and threw her arms and legs out like a sulky kid.
“But well, you should be glad that it wasn’t a joke character. The ideal female image, was it? It’s better than getting something you have absolutely no attachment to or is not your ideal, a silver lining in a dark cloud, isn’t it. From my perspective, this world becoming real was a lucky happening. This world’s the best. I mean, starting from day one I played to my heart’s content.”
Luminaria made a refreshing smile with her pretty face. If one ignored what was inside, she would definitely steal hearts of many men and unfortunately, the only ones knowing her real identity were the two that were here.
Staring coldly at Luminaria who did not change in the least, Mira scooped up a certain question that came to her mind.
“By the way, I just thought, but. Solomon, you were here thirty years, Luminaria was twenty, right? So much time had passed but you two don’t look like you aged at all.”
From Mira’s perspective there it didn’t look unnatural since it’s been just two days. However, the two who came to this world at different time from her remaining same as back then was inexplicable. Even if one overlooked Luminaria, the same couldn’t be done for Solomon. It was impossible for a human to retain a boy’s appearance for nearly forty years.
“Speaking of which, it’s become so obvious to us that I forgot to talk about it.”
“This is one of reasons this world is the best.”
To settle down in place, Solomon pulled his office chair with wheels next to the sofa, but as if it was for first come first served, Luminaria sat down on it and crossed her youthful legs to show them off.
“To put it simply, it looks like we ex-players are different from the normal people who used to be NPCs.”
A she spoke, Solomon poked Luminaria’s head, who impudently sat on his seat.
“Different from normal...how?”
“Yup. First, it’s about inspecting, did you try to inspect me or Luminaria?”
Told so, Mira recalled how she tried to inspect Solomon during the audience and how there was no information displayed. Trying again, this time he gazed intently at Luminaria who wriggled around in a disgusting manner. However, no information appeared within the sight.
“Nothing shows for you two. It worked for Süleyman and Graya however.”
Hearing that, Solomon made a boyish smile and sat on the sofa by Mira’s legs as she lied on in with her arms and legs spread.
“It appears that ex-players can’t be inspected. That’s the first difference. By the way, when I first saw you I tried inspecting you but didn’t see anything, so I knew you were an ex-player. Claiming to be Danbulf’s disciple the moment he appeared online, a loli matching Danbulf’s tastes appeared. Even people other than me would realize it with this much evidence.”
“In other words, it can act as basis for judgement.”
Mira said with a bitter smile.
“Exactly. We can’t be certain that everyone you’ll be looking for from now on did not change their appearance. But at the very least you can tell whether someone is a player or not.”
While saying so, Solomon had covered Mira’s legs which were exposed up to the bloomers, by adjusting the skirt-turned robe skirt.
“However, with their personality like that we have other things to base on other than their looks.”
“Certainly. I have confidence to tell this Luminaria here apart even if she changed into someone else.”
“Agreed. It would be hard to find another pervert like this.”
After taking a glance at Luminaria who stared at her own legs in rapture, the two laughed meaningfully. Being called a pervert, Luminaria glared at the two, but then for some reason her expression suddenly changed.
“In other words...we’re so close that you can tell me apart even if I changed my appearance, right?!”
Coming up with a really optimistic answer, Luminaria swiftly stood up and dove onto the sofa like a wrestling fighter. Solomon quickly avoided her, but Mira who was lying down tired, was unable to do anything, and was embraced by Luminaria who assisted by gravity, fell on top of her.
“Hey, stop it Bakanaria! ...Where ya touchin’!”
Luminaria’s wiggling hand treated Mira’s body as a sacrifice for itself and started creeping around her limbs as if to inspect her.
“It’s fine, it’s fin...ngha!”
Luminaria assaulted Mira like a certain evil magistrate’s impression, but along with a bursting sound she let out a voice that gushed out from deep inside her and flew in the air, then with all the momentum she hit the ceiling before falling back down on the floor.
Mira who lied face up on the sofa, had protruded her right hand up towards the ceiling. She fired a daoist spell which was her secondary class, at Luminaria from zero distance.
“Putting life on the line to cop a feel, aren’t you?”
Solomon spoke indifferently towards Luminaria, who slowly got up and responded with a proud expression “but that’s what’s so good about it" and showed a thumbs up.
Fixing her disordered robe, Mira got up and staring coldly at Luminaria, “next time I’ll include Magan3Magan, as in “Evil Eye”. Decided to keep it as is because it sounds much better this way..” she warned her. Luminaria’s both hands requesting more in a pose ready for fondling, suddenly lost their destination and after wandering about, have started picking up scattered documents.
“Mm, what an admirable attitude.”
“Oh you, I just like when it’s clean, you see”
“In that case, take care of this too.”
Taking advantage of the moment, Solomon pointed at a desk full of scattered documents, to which Luminaria nodded without a word.
“To continue what we were talking about - our biggest difference is this appearance. As you can see, it looks like we don’t age.”
While saying this, Solomon spread his arms and to show off his appearance.
“So that’s why you didn’t change in thirty years, huh.”
“Yup. Precisely speaking, there’s a lot we don’t know, so we can’t tell for sure. We don’t know if we really don’t age, or if we age but our appearance doesn’t change. Or whether we have lifespan. Things like that. Well, maybe we’ll be able to tell in forty, fifty years.”
If their appearance did not change with time, it meant that their body did not deteriorate with it. And they were able to retain youthful skin. Which is why one of the biggest reasons Luminaria said this world was the best, was because her appearance did not change. After all, if a player was a handsome guy or a beauty, they remained like that forever.
When Solomon said this, Mira comprehended why their appearance did not change. At the very least, she did understand that they were not fundamentally different, but that all the ex-players were in such a state.
However, she got curious about something when she heard the word “lifespan". While certainly it was too early for anyone to die naturally within these thirty years, but what about death from other factors?
Back when it was still a game, when a player died they were brought back to their affiliated country or home base, then respawned in a weakened state. But that was a game. She was curious as to whether these rules still applied, now that everything became reality.
“By the way, what happens when you die in this world? Do you respawn weakened?”
“When we die, huh…"
Hearing Mira’s question, Solomon made a troubled expression and crossed his arms to think.
Once he gathered his thoughts, Solomon raised his head and said “We still haven’t confirmed it." before he started explaining.
“Actually, we still haven’t heard of any player dying. However, this is just my personal opinion...we probably die.”
He spoke indifferently, but was as serious as it could get.
It was not unthinkable considering this world turned into reality. Although Mira hoped that was not the case, she knew it won’t be that convenient so she easily accepted these words.
“Mm, you say probably, what’s your basis for that?”
“That would be the friend list. You see, every evening I check the friend list. Even now there are people who suddenly appear in this world. However, the opposite also applies. It was a friend I knew was online, but I didn’t know where he was.”
After saying this much, Solomon closed his mouth and moistened lips. In the office which fell silent, there was only sound of Luminaria gathering documents together could be heard. She was still tidying up things.
“One night when I was checking the list like I always do, he turned offline. And since then I haven’t seen him come back online a single time.”
If one could tell their friend was in this world by seeing they are online, then offline meant he was no here. From there, one can think of two reasons for that.
One, was logging out in some way.
Another one, was that they disappeared from this world for some reason. In other words, died.
Believing in the basis Solomon used, Mira decided to act more careful than ever.
“Putting whether we die or not aside, honestly speaking, the number one reason for dying in this world would be combat, right? It’s hard to think we’d die like that. Our skills are same as they were, so as long as we run away from the opponents we can’t beat, be it Magic Beast King, Demon Lord or Dragon God, we will probably survive.”
While still in the middle of tidying things up, Luminaria sat down sexily on the table and spoke. Certainly, from these three’s perspective it was not that serious of a problem. Ever since the official game service started, these they used any ways possible to acquire the strongest powers in the world. It was not easy for them to be caught off guard by someone.
“Mm, certainly. It’s as you say.”
“True. Also, it’s just my hypothesis at this point, so let’s leave this topic at this for now. There is no need to know the answer right away, and the method of finding out isn’t humane. I think we just need to be careful not to die.”
Solomon made a smile again like he did earlier, then checked the current time on his bracelet.
“Now then, since we’ve already gathered we might as well put work away and eat dinner together. Just like back then.”
He said, stood up and went to give instructions to the two standing outside.
After a while, a maid came to relay that the dinner was ready and guided them, so the three moved from the office to a large banquet hall. In order to make it so they can talk without concerns as they eat, they were the only ones in the hall.
“As expected of a king, that’s one luxurious dinner.”
In the banquet hall, there was food lined up on a table as if it was a buffet party. Mira took a plate in her hand and started going around with intention of trying all the food that was there.
“The first-class ingredients are cooked by first-class cook, all of this is tastes great.”
Solomon said, boasting, and stood to the left of Mira with a plate in his hand.
“Like this deep-fried chicken, it’s amazin’, really tastes first-class.”
While saying so, Luminaria put meat fried golden on Mira’s plate, then stuffed her cheeks full of the same deep-fried chicken.
Eating first-class food like this was already normal for the two, but seeing Mira all excited they were reminded of their past selves.
And so, thanks to Mira whose eyes sparkled at all the luxurious food influencing Solomon and Luminaria, the dinner at Arkite Castle was lively from start to end.
After meal, the three sat down on the edge of the stage located in the middle of the banquet hall and started to reminiscence.
“That feels reeally nostalgic, even now I remember that gallant figure.”
Solomon closed his eyes and recalled an offline event they went thirty years ago. It was an exhibition event hosted by the SDF where anyone could see actual military equipment and weapons. It was mainly held to recruit people for SDF, but was extremely popular with military maniacs to the point where Solomon adjusted his schedule every year so that he could attend.
“That Type-10’s majesty, I wish I could see it again, ehh.”
“I’ve had enough of walking back then. It’s not an exaggeration to say that was the day I walked the most in my entire life.”
“Yeah, that was awful. He said that he’ll cover all expenses so I came, but what do we find? A military otaku festival.”
While Solomon immersed himself in memories with a smile, Mira smiled wryly and Luminaria put up a bitter expression as she recalled that with nostalgia.
“How cold of you, you two also enjoyed it quite a bit back then, didn’t you.”
Solomon said sulkily while he flailed his legs.
To Mira, that festival happened just two weeks ago. Told “I’ll pay all expenses" by Solomon, she headed over intending to have a nice trip, but what awaited her was an assembly hall with military vehicles and weapons.
As she recalled the still-fresh in her mind sight of that hall, the armored jeep suddenly passed through her mind.
“Speaking of which, what is that pseudo-armored vehicle I was made to ride this afternoon? Galet said something about magic engineering.”
When Mira said this, Solomon put a smile back on his face and standing in the middle of the stage, he made a daunting pose.
“You finally asked! To hide nothing, that armored jeep is the first step to my dream!”
He started to speak of his dream with a loud and clear voice, announcing as the King, that his ultimate goal is completing the Type-10’s reconstruction. The two applauded him with sparse clapping of hands, as to join his momentum.
“Thank you for your attention. Whoops, and speaking of which, it’s about the time for our appointment.”
Solomon who still was taking a pose with his arms spread, had confirmed the clock at the entrance of the banquet hall and jumped off the stage.
“Yeah, now that you mention it, that’s what I came here for in the first place.”
Said Luminaria, and as if recalling something - followed Solomon.
“What is it? What appointment?”
Suddenly brought back from the past in real world to the current real world, Mira asked the two somewhat absentmindedly. The two turned around and smiled full of confidence.
“Come, look with your own eyes.”
“We’ll show ya how this world evolved.”
Solomon spoke mischievously and Luminaria took Mira’s hand as if it was natural, then pulled Mira towards herself.
The three walked through a corridor and walked down multiple stairs. For every floor they went down, the quieter everything became and only the sound of their footsteps echoing from the inorganic grey walls remained in their ears.
We went down about ten floors, when Mira thought so, they saw a large metal door and guards protecting it.
The very moment guards saw Solomon and Luminaria’s figures, they saluted with the military salute from before and reported “There has been no irregularities!”.
Answering shortly, Solomon acted like a king in front of people. It was the same for Luminaria.
"Everyone has already gathered.”
“It will commence very soon. Solomon-sama, this person is?”
The guard turned his gaze at Mira.
“She is Sage Danbulf’s disciple, Mira. Her techniques might be useful for the experiment that is about to begin now so I’m bringing her with me.”
“So she is the one. My apologies for the rudeness.”
After saying an apology, the guard held up a card-type key against the door. Behind the slowly and heavily opening door, there was a white corridor further leading into the back.
Following Solomon and Luminaria, Mira entered the door. Inside, the medieval design changed completely and a there was a scenery reminiscent of a modern, cutting-edge facility.
At this sight, Mira took a look around and was reminded of an overseas aerospace bureau she once saw on the TV.
(“Looks like they’re doing something fun here, mm.”)
Deep underground, heavy thick doors, experiment. The first thing that one would think of after connecting those would be clearly, a secret research facility.
Said Solomon and when he stopped in front of a large door, it slowly opened by itself.
“This is quite amazing, hmm.”
In the back of the door, appeared an enormous white space. The width, the length and the height were all so great, that every wall looked to be far in the distance.
This space was filled with countless device-like things and in front, there was a large and conspicuous object. It had a clunky main body and a long, horizontal and cylindrical part attached to it. In front of the various gauges around it, there were people wearing white robes. In front of the standing out in front of the main body were people wearing aprons and covered in oil, who were talking about something.
In the back of this space, on the side Mira and the two came in from there were eight spellcasters clad in robes and five nobles wearing luxurious clothes that did not fit this place, all of them watched the main object.
“I have been waiting, Solomon-sama.”
Appearing from the side of the door, was Solomon’s aide, Süleyman. After a light bow to the three, he stood right behind Solomon.
“Everyone, good work.”
When Solomon called out to everyone, they all stopped moving their hands and turned around to bow deeply. Then once their raised their heads, all their gazes gathered on the girl whom they haven’t seen before.
Not used to stares full of curiosity, Mira moved sideways. Then, the moment she tried to hide behind Luminaria’s back, Luminaria grabbed hold of her both shoulders and pushed her to front.
“She is Danbulf’s disciple, Mira-chan. She has succeeded his Energy-Refining techniques so I’m sure she will be of help to our current experiment.”
While voices containing various emotions sounded from all around, a single noble took a step forward.
“So this is the rumored… May I greet her?”
“Hmm. Very well.”
With Solomon’s consent, the noble man walked right in front of Mira and knelt.
The man’s age was ranging from sixty to seventy, he had silver grey hair, a goatee and a wrinkled face, appearance-wise being far more fitting to be a king than Solomon. His luxurious clothes were no more decorative than necessary, and were arranged very elegantly.
“Pleasure to meet you for the first time. I am Edward Cors Steiner. It is the highest honor to meet the disciple of hero Danbulf.”
Edward had introduced himself like that and holding Mira’s hand he kissed the back of it. Normally, Mira would have brushed the hand away, but this time she was impressed by Edward’s masterful gentlemanly manners. It could even be said she was captivated by them. His appearance was like Mira’s ideal incarnate.
“Mm-hm. I’m Mira.”
Looking at Edward who stood up, bowed and headed back, Mira decided to do her best as well. Behind her, Luminaria gloated over the sight in secret.
(“...Hum, Edward. Did I meet him somewhere before?”)
With the gentlemanly manners ruminating in her head, Mira thought she heard Edward’s name somewhere before. However, as she searched the sea of her memories, it only appeared to her as a vague shadow on the surface of water and wouldn’t show itself clearly.
“Well then, are preparations done? Let us begin from the first stage.”
Brought back to earth by the sound of Solomon’s voice, Mira’s gaze chased after the busy researchers, then she looked at the enormous device they were moving around.
“This...looks like that thing attached to your armored jeep.”
Mira muttered and stared at the gun barrel-like black tube protruding horizontally.
“That’s one’s a small prototype, this one is the real thing.”
Some of the researchers skipped a heartbeat seeing Luminaria smile gently at Mira, her sister-like attractiveness made their hearts beat faster. On the other hand, Mira who knew Luminaria’s real self, took two steps away from her and shifted her body when seeing the dubious expression which displayed an emotion of a different category than happiness, anger or pity. That moment, in the distance ahead of where the gun barrel was aimed at, she noticed some kind of device installed there.
When she tilted her body lightly to see better, her smooth silver hair danced before flowing on her shoulder and her countless ribbons shook as well.
“Hey, we’re being stared at.”
“Hm, what? It doesn’t matter, let’s hurry and finish setting this up.”
“But, you know. Well, uh…"
“What wrong with you, suddenly?”
Ahead of Mira’s gaze, a researcher and engineer who were doing final adjustments captured the adorable girl who stared at them with curiosity.
“If I’m not wrong, that was Danbulf-sama’s disciple…"
“Wait, it’s rude to use such suffix towards her.”
“Just look at her, she’s Mira-chan isn’t she. How else should we title her?”
“Mira-sama...that’s also good in a way.”
The researcher grinned. The engineer also thought that was okay, and nodded in agreement.
Although the two were talking about something really trivial, the speed at which they worked had increased It was a result of them turning eager from being looked at by Mira.
“Preparations are complete, we are ready any time.”
From among the engineers, the only one wearing a hat of a different, red color, had announced this. He was the chief in this place and the one who has created the designs for the great cannon used in this experiment.
Turning her line of sight back at the great cannon, Mira predicted what kind of experiment was about to start. Large cannons firing shells already existed when this was a game, smithing-specialized crafters have developed them and they became widely used in most countries.
However, they weren’t as large as to be looked up at and did not require multiple gauges attached to it.
(“Let’s see, a small cannon was already powerful. It’s hard to imagine what will happen at this size.”)
Mira placed a hand on her chin enjoyably and waited for the test to happen.
The researchers stood on their places in front of the gauges and the nobles stood by the wall, looking at the results of the experiment.
“Begin the experiment!”
“Beginning the experiment!”
Once Solomon loudly declared, the chief repeated after him and activated the great cannon’s main device.
The room was filled with a high-pitched sound of a motor and pointers on gauges started to shake. The nobles caught their breath, Reinard and Joachim stood in front of Mira and the other two just in case, then looked at the great cannon vigilantly.
“Time left until the first stage is five...four...three…"
Together with the countdown, the reverberating sound grew louder and from time to time, a sound of electrical discharge mixed in.
“Two…one...critical point confirmed!”
Solomon’s voice sounded and the chief pushed the lever. At the same time, a flash of light clad in lightning was fired with a loud roar. The torrent of destruction hit a curtain of light which was located above the device in the front, releasing tremor and impact, followed shortly by a sound of explosion.
Witnessing the destructive power capable of blowing away even the device that released the curtain of light, everyone in the place was captivated by the great cannon’s power.
Seeing power on completely different level from the cannons in the past, Mira’s eyes sparkled as she stared at the new great cannon’s majestic appearance.
“This is in a completely different league.”
Luminaria put both her hands on Mira’s shoulders and leaning forward, moved her head next to Mira’s.
“This is the new crafting technology evolved within the thirty years you weren’t here. And the new weapon born from magic engineering - Accord Cannon.”
After saying this, she looked at the Accord Cannon satisfied that it displayed enough of power.
As the Accord Cannon’s firing test had safely ended with success, all researchers and engineers started to analyze the data they gathered. On the other hand, other main members spread the documents inside the development room and started talking about the usage and mass production.
As for Mira, she escaped from all the bothersome country management talk to start looking through various things lined up on shelves.
“Now, Thoma. We were able to safely activate the first stage, I hope there were no problems?”
“Yes. We are capable of controlling the recoil now. I believe it will be able to deliver the minimal expected war results.”
Hearing the chief, Thoma say so with confidence, Solomon nodded with satisfaction.
“By the way, what about mass production? If it has this much power, our Verzlee household won’t spare money on investment.”
One of the nobles leaned forward, other nobles also nodded in agreement.
“About that, however…"
While saying this, Thoma’s expression clouded as he put a single document on top of the desk. Written in it, were details on supply of Accord Cannon’s ammunition and power source.
“Just as we have written here, one shot requires a single Energy-Refined Stone and two Magic-Sealing Stones.”
There, Thoma started explaining the principles behind the Accord Cannon.
Simplifying the content of the explanation, an Energy-Refined Stone was required as ammunition and the power that was put inside that ammunition was poured from the Magic-Sealing Stone.
An Energy-Refined Stone was an artificial material created through Energy-Refining, which had a property of extremely easily gathering energy.
Accord Cannon was a device that extracted power from the Magic-Sealing Stones, amplified it and fired, the Energy-Refined Stone served to grant directionality for the power which was amplified to the limit.
The raging energy was pulled towards the Energy-Refined Stone and after destroying it, it soared forward. The bigger the Energy-Refined Stone was, the longer it took until it was destroyed which increased the range along with it.
And one more thing. To activate the Accord Cannon, another lightning-elemental Magic-Sealing Stone was required.
“And thus, there is no problem in regards to mass production of the device if we have everyone’s support, but these Energy-Refined and Magic-Sealing Stones are a problem.”
After saying so, Thoma heaved a large sigh.
The problem Thoma was talking about was the method of supply of Energy-Refined Stones and lightning-elemental Magic-Sealing Stones.
Arkite Kingdom had several people who possessed the techniques required to craft Energy-Refined Stones. However, they were only capable of crafting medium quality ones, and lightning-element Magic-Sealing Stones barely capable of activating the cannon. However, even with such limits, the Accord Cannon was powerful enough to show such a great performance.
It can be mass-produced. They would somehow manage on the ammo supply. But they were only being able to display the minimum of the performance it was capable of.
Thoma who had wasted many years to develop it and was unable to allow his child to show its full power, glared with frustration at the documents.
“That can be resolved with this.”
While Thoma made a clouded expression, Solomon showed a merry one as he lined up some gems on top of the table, of which, some were shining with a faint light.
“These are...a Turquoise and Moonstone, aren’t they. And this...is a Magic-Sealing Stone. But Solomon-sama, I believe these aren’t of too good quality, so how would they resolve the problem?”
Turquoise and Moonstone. They were one of many gems born in nature that had the characteristics of easily gathering energy so they were used not only for decoration, but also many other things. As for the several faintly shining stones, they were gems that already had power dwelling inside them - Magic-Sealing Stones.
These gems Solomon had lined up were not unusual, but very common ones. Therefore, multiple people in this place were puzzled by Solomon’s words, however, everyone gathered had already had a chance to see him act suggestively like this multiple times, so they quietly waited for the continuation.
“Hold on, here we gooo.”
A young girl’s confused voice suddenly sounded from the corner of the room and as if pulled towards her, everyone poured their gazes in her direction.
At the sight, Solomon who was in merry mood, quietly burst into laughter. The reason was that Mira was carried by Luminaria in her arms and like a kid, and struggled in her breasts to get free.
After she was placed down in front a the table she pursed her lips and glared at Luminaria, but more importantly, she noticed everyone’s gazes were concentrated on her.
“So, what is it?”
Mira said to try keep up her appearances and glared at Solomon this time.
“Sorry, but I have a request.”
With a smile that didn’t make him look sorry at all, Solomon took several stones from the table into his hand.
“Mira, could you turn these into Energy-Refined Stones?”
On the hand he extended to Mira, there were two Turquoises and one Moonstone. Everyone in the surroundings poured their gaze at the hand.
“Mm? What, you need something like that?”
Mira extended her hand to receive the stones, but her hands were already holding awkward-looking model robots. In her right hand there was a red robot, in her left, a blue one. They were tagged as combining robots, so Mira has been playing around to combine them until she was picked up and carried by Luminaria.
“Umm...I’ll take this for now.”
"...Mm, do so.”
In the middle of unspeakable silence, Süleyman who stood in the back extended his hands. Mira quietly answered and passed the awkward robots to him along with a clunky sound.
Once Mira received gems with her now-free hands, Luminaria carried over a large board. Several spellcasters wearing robes held the corners to help her, and they placed the board on top of the table.
“An Energy-Refining Board, is it.”
After looking at the board with countless shapes and symbols drawn on it, Thoma said the board’s name.
The Energy-Refining Board was a spellcasting tool used for Energy-Refining items. Drawn on it were shapes signifying disassembly, combining, alteration, conversion and compression, which together formed a circle.
“Can it be that you intend to do Energy-Refining now? But won’t it take time?”
Edward posed a question. Even the Arkite Kingdom’s most skilled person at Energy-Refining techniques required thirty minutes to create a single Energy-Refined Stone, so this was an obvious reaction. Other nobles and spellcasters who had some knowledge of Energy-Refining nodded, agreeing with Edward.
“Well, you will understand once you see it. Now, Mira. Take care of it.”
“Good grief, and I was so close to find out how it worked.”
Mira groaned a complaint and stood in front of the Energy-Refining Board. Reflected in the corner of her vision, was Süleyman holding the two robots. She was close to finding out how they combined, which is why, wanting to finish this quickly, she put the stones on top of the Energy-Refining Board and placed her both hands in the designated locations.
After a moment, the circle started to shine with faint light. Precisely manipulating the way power was poured in and the multiple shapes on the board, she disassembled the stones, extracting just the characteristic of easily gathering energy she compressed it and combined again. In the middle of shining light, gems started turning into a different material.
Soon after starting, Mira let go of the Energy-Refining Board.
“AH! You shouldn’t let go during…!”
Thoma spoke in panic, but at the sight of a whirl of light flowing from the Energy-Refining Board he stopped moving and gasped.
Once light has died down, on top of the Energy-Refining Board instead of multiple gems, lied a single large transparent stone.
Making an expression as if he saw something unbelievable, Thoma moved his head to the transparent stone so close, that he nearly touched it.
“It’s an Energy-Refined Stone… It can’t be…for one of this good quality to be created in such short time…"
It was no wonder Thoma was surprised. Mira made a Energy-Refined Stone in less than a minute.
“I said she's Danbulf’s disciple, have I not. Mira has succeeded all of his abilities.”
Solomon said while puffing up his chest, as if it was his own accomplishment. Rather than succeeding it, Mira was the Danbulf himself so it was natural she could do it. However, since that was a secret, this was a good way to explain, as such Mira affirmed it instead of denying.
Each gem had its set capacity, but by mixing together multiple gems it was possible to create Energy-Refined Stones like this. Energy-Refined Stones like this had a greater capacity than gems, so they were valuable and useful.
“I did hear that Energy-Refining techniques were created by Danbulf-sama, but I did not think that even the disciple would be this skilled.”
Thoma moved his gaze from the Energy-Refined Stone to Mira. The girl within his sight might have been the person capable of allowing the Accord Cannon utilize all of its potential. The moment Thoma thought so, he made an expression showing excitement that rose deep inside from his heart, and his body trembled.
“Then Mira, while at it, let’s add this for a set with the Energy-Refined Stone.”
Once Solomon placed three Magic-Sealing Stones on top of the Energy-Refining Board, Mira responded with “Mm-hm" and moved the stones to their set location and started to energy-refine again.
This time as well, it did not take even a minute for the power of three Magic-Sealing Stones to be extracted and poured into a newly-made Magic-Sealing Stone. Energy-Refining was capable of gathering power like this into one Energy-Refined Stone to create even bigger Magic-Sealing Stones.
“This should work.”
“Yeah, it’s enough.”
Solomon took the newly-made stone in his hand and nodded with satisfaction. Unlike the three Magic-Sealing Stones used as base, this refined Magic-Sealing Stone was filled with strong light and it was apparent it held a fair amount of power.
“With this, we have prospects on Energy-Refined and Magic-Sealing Stones, don’t we?”
He said and passed the Magic-Sealing Stone to Thoma.
“Yes. It’s more than enough!”
Preciously holding the Magic-Sealing Stone he received in his hand, Thoma answered with a smile.
While everyone started to talk about Accord Cannon’s handling, Mira sat down in the corner of the room with the robots in her hands and started to tinker with them, letting out clunky sounds. And then, a man wearing a robe approached her.
“Mira-chan, could you join me for a talk?”
“I’m busy now, make it later.”
All enthusiastic about robots, Mira answered without looking away from the mobile parts. The man in the robe made a slightly troubled expression and pleaded with "please, give me some time".
Mira heaved a sigh and turned towards the man. He was well-featured handsome young man wearing a blue and black robe, and had shining blonde hair flowing down to his shoulders. Also, his face was familiar to her.
“Nhm, are you Cleos?”
“Oh, do you know me?”
Of course, this was first time Mira met him, but it was different for Danbulf.
Cleos was one of the followers affiliated with the Tower of Summoning and he was a half between a Light Spirit and an Elf. He was useful when brought together because he was able to use his special ability as a Light Spirit to light up the dark dungeons, so Danbulf often brought this follower all around different dungeons.
“Aa-ahm, I heard from my master.”
Realizing his identity at a glance Mira ended up saying his name, so now she used a safe excuse. “I see" answered Cleos and made a little happy smile.
“Then I’ll introduce myself once more, I’m the Tower of Summoning’s Elder substitute, Cleos.”
The two exchanged simple introductions. Immediately after, Mira recalled the word “substitute" that he mentioned.
“Speaking of which, I heard from Graya that towers were being run by substitutes, so you were one of them.”
Now that the whereabouts of the Nine Sages were unknown, the Elder substitutes are in fact the top of the towers.
“Partially against my will, since it was forced on me. I was recommended because I adventured the most with Danbulf-sama. Well, everyone else was chosen for similar reasons, however.”
“Hooh, is that so.”
It was a simple reason, but not a bad criteria for selection. When it comes to strength, Cleos whom Danbulf brought to all kinds of extremely dangerous places was definitely number one among his followers.
And according to Cleos, other substitutes were chosen in the same way. All of them had experience of being brought to highest level fields, where they would definitely get stronger even if they did not want to.
“By the way, don’t you need to join the discussion? Isn’t it an important weapon?”
Mira asked, turning her sight toward the table where Solomon and others were discussing.
“I don’t mind. We Elder substitutes only came here to see the performance of the Accord Cannon.”
“Which means, all of them are substitutes as well, huh.”
She moved her gaze towards the spellcasters standing by the wall. All of them were amusing themselves as they liked, just like Cleos.
“The important talk is already over and they are speaking of mass production now. That is the domain of Solomon-sama and the nobles.”
“And so, you came to me.”
After saying so, Mira lowered her gaze back at the robots and started to turn and bend parts to try find how to combine them.
From there, the two continued a simple conversation, but in the end the conversation turned in a direction where Cleos complained and grumbled about how Danbulf brought him into all those absurd places, making Mira only able to pretend to be paying attention with a bitter smile.
“By the way, do you still use the “Thunderscale Tiger"?”
Unable to bear any more complaints that popped up against her past self, Mira attempted to change the topic so she mentioned the name of the summoning spell that Cleos mastered the best of all.
“Can it be, that you heard of my Thunderscale Tiger from Danbulf-sama as well?”
After thinking for a second, Mira decided to make everything be heard from her master.
“Oh dear, it feels a little embarrassing. But I guess that’s just how much he spoke of me.”
While saying this, Cleos smiled happily. Although he kept grumbling complaints, it all came from his high respect and affection for Danbulf. Hearing that the Sage had spoken of him to the disciple made him happy from his heart.
“Right, right. I heard a lot.”
“As you said, my main summoning spell is the Thunderscale Tiger. But it has become much stronger than when Danbulf-sama last saw it.”
“Hooh, that sound reliable.”
The Thunderscale Tiger was one of the strongest middle-class summoning spells. If his had turned stronger than Mira remembered it, then it was a formidable fighting power.
“Contracting a Thunderscale Tiger was really difficult, but you know? Danbulf-sama said this.”
And so, Cleos started to passionately describe just how wonderful a person the Sage called Danbulf was. Even though Mira just brought him with her because he was useful, Cleos said stuff like “back then, he did it for me" or “by doing so, he taught me" and hearing her own evaluation from his perspective Mira felt a little ticklish and felt some remorse. Again, not changing her expression she was only able to pretend to be listening.
“And trained like that, I ended up managing the tower in Danbulf-sama’s stead.”
Cleos had finished his long story and made a satisfied expression upon its completion. From Mira’s perspective they were some nostalgic memories on the level of “oh, I remember something like that happening", but from Cleos perspective it was Danbulf’s epic tale.
Once she finished listening, Mira recalled something she was curious about when she entered the tower.
“By the way, when I was coming here I did stop by the tower, but it appeared quite deserted in comparison to other towers. Did something happen, mm?”
When Mira asked this, Cleos’ clear expression clouded at once, with signs of rain.
“You touch a sore spot… Certainly, there is extremely few summoners now.”
“Mmh, I see.”
Mira thought that the reason might be that she came at night, but based what Cleos said, she could assume that the tower was in severe shortage of human resources. Lowering her gaze, she recalled the times when it was lively and thought something had to be done.
“If you are Danbulf-sama’s disciple, then you must have used the same method for the same contract, right?”
Seeing Mira deliberate with her eyes cast down, Cleos had a feeling he caught a glimpse of Danbulf’s shadow in her, so he calmly continued.
The method for first contract. Danbulf had used a large amount of mixtures and bombs back in the day. However, Mira knew that Cleos was speaking of a different method.
“Energy-Refined equipment and Magic-Sealing Bomb Stones, right.”
That was the method Danbulf proposed as the Elder of the Tower of Summoning, for the sake of the next generations.
“Yes, that’s it. After Danbulf-sama disappeared, we continued without a problems for some time. But first, the supply of Magic-Sealing Bomb Stones ran out, and then the Energy-Refined equipment broke… Even the castle Energy-Refining technicians can’t make ones that have as good performance as Danbulf-sama’s, so eventually people appeared who were unable to make a contract.”
“Ahhh...mm-hm, I see.”
The method Mira proposed did use the same principles as using mixtures and bombs, but was made more efficient.
Rather than raise your stats with mixtures, they would raise their durability and endurance with Energy-Refined equipment and rather than throw bombs, they would use elemental Magic-Sealing Bomb Stones that matched enemy’s weakness. Thanks to that, the difficulty level of the initial contract truly decreased greatly. However, that method was something that was possible thanks to Danbulf backing it, so once he disappeared it must have been difficult to continue it.
There were few people capable of using Energy-Refining techniques, but it takes them a lot of time and effort so there was no avoiding of the increase in price of Energy-Refined equipment. Moreover, they had weaker performance than ones made by Danbulf, so there have been too many newcomer summoners who were unable to defeat an Armament Spirit and escaped.
In addition, the mentor with absolute charisma was gone. As a result, the tower had become deserted.
“All right, for now!”
After finishing her deliberations, Mira raised her head and opened the item box to take out all Magic-Sealing Bomb Stones she had, then gathering together the ones that fell on the ground, she passed them to Cleos.
“With this, about twenty people should be able to beat the enemy.”
“These are...Magic-Sealing Bomb Stones! And they’re holding such a strong power inside them…same as the ones from thirty years ago...no, even stronger. Can I really take these?”
His eyes wide open, Cleos stared at the stones in Mira’s hands which shone stronger than any gem.
“Mm-hm, right now I can only do this much.”
“But isn’t this something Danbulf-sama gave you to protect yourself?”
Magic-Sealing Bomb Stones were powerful items that could become a trump card when necessary. Thinking that Danbulf gave them to his disciple for such reason, Cleos confirmed with her while swallowing the feelings of wanting them no matter what.
“No problem. I have my Dark Knights I succeeded from master. Also, if he was here he wouldn’t be able to leave the tower be like this.”
Although indirectly and by proxy, Mira relayed her feelings.
“Certainly. It is Summoning maniac Danbulf-sama who we’re talking about, he wouldn’t let it off.”
Cleos muttered so and received the Magic-Sealing Bomb Stones that Mira extended to him.
“Thank you, Mira-chan. Once this is over, I will immediately contact the newcomers who gave up on Summoning. It’s all right now, that is.”
Smiling broadly, he lowered his head to Mira.
It appeared that Cleos himself was dissatisfied with the current state of the tower and tried various methods. But in the end, he only had moderate success and there were many problems, all methods he came up with lacked decisiveness.
As a result, the young people who hoped to become Summoners had their dreams shattered and left Arkite Kingdom. To Cleos, who watched their backs as they left, these Magic-Sealing Bomb Stones were worth more than hundred carat diamonds.
“Mm-hm, do so. Oh, take this, too.”
Seeing just how much Cleos rejoiced and understanding that he did his best to manage the tower when she was not around, Mira decided to make another gift. She took off a ring from her finger, a necklace from her neck and passed them to Cleos.
“They are accessories increasing endurance and power. With these, one shouldn’t lose in contest of strength against an Armament Spirit.”
“Can I really... have something this precious?”
“Of course. Things master wants to protect, are things I want to protect. In exchange, do your best, Cleos.”
“On my name as the Elder’s substitute, I will make the tower flourish!”
Uplifted in spirits, Cleos stared straight at Mira with strong light dwelling in his eyes and nodded vigorously.
“Well then, we shall commence the second stage of the experiment in five days, on the same hour.”
Once Solomon had closed the meeting, the nobles and Elder substitutes started leaving the development room.
“Looks like it’s over. Well then, Mira-chan, I’m really grateful. I will be going to contact everyone right away. Looks like it will be getting busy.”
“Mm-hm, be careful on your way back.”
Cleos bowed deeply and following everyone, he quickly left the development room. His steps were very light and the lively expression on his face surprised other substitutes, who gently watched him leave.
Other substitutes knew that Cleos was having trouble as he thought of what to do about the tower, but they were already busy with their own towers and could not do anything for him. Up until now they saw him in low spirits very often, so it has been a while since he was in this good mood.
The reason he was in such a good mood, was because he saw a light of restoration for the Tower of Summoning. However, other substitutes who did not know the circumstances misunderstood it, they thought that Cleos, who loves children, became lively just by speaking with Mira.
The last four to remain in the development room were Mira, Solomon, Luminaria and Thoma.
Solomon pulled out a bundle of documents that looked as if they were hidden, then after taking a look at them with a serious expression, he grinned.
When Luminaria found Mira in the corner, making some rustling sounds she slowly approached Mira and stared what she had in her hands. Continuing from before, Mira was still tinkering with the robots.
“You’re still playing with those?”
Seeing the robots change from one outrageous form to another, Luminaria drew her head close to Mira from behind and spoke, bored.
“Amazing, right?! It’s almost complete!”
Smiling like a kid without worry or boredom, even looking like a kid, she declared like a young boy before further changing the robot’s form.
What is almost complete? The chief of development who overheard the two’s conversation got curious and when he approached, he saw what Mira was holding in her hands.
“Oh, if it isn’t the “Super Combining Lord Barkan". Where was it?”
Thoma knew the robots that Mira was holding.
“They were lying around in the back of that shelf.”
Saying so, she pointed at the upper shelf in front of her.
“So that’s where it was, I already thought I lost it.”
With nostalgia, Thoma looked at the disorderly objects in Mira’s hands.
“Hooh. So this is yours?”
“Yes, and rather than just being mine, it’s something that I made.”
“Ohhh, is that so. You have nice hobbies there, mm?”
“Goodness, let’s say that my hobbies are quite excessive. But even though I got all fired up and made that, in the end, it was a failure. Because of a miss in the design they won’t combine.”
With an expression that said she was unable to believe his words, she turned around awkwardly and stared at Thoma, who made a smile to hide his fluster.
“U-Umm…when I was implementing the combination mechanism I mistook width a little. In order to fix it I needed to take it apart once, so I decided to do it some other time and left it around to lose it.”
Seeing Mira stare at him with a ghastly expression he would never expect out of such a lovely girl, he started mumbling by the end of his answer, and pulled back.
The scream must have reached even outside of the development room.
After succeeding to pacify Mira with a promise that he would fix the robots and give them to her, relieved, Thoma received the Super Combining Lord Barkan and left the development room as if escaping.
A creepy laughing voice sounded eerily. When Mira inadvertently turned in the voice’s direction, she saw Solomon holding a bundle of documents.
“Finally. Finally we can begin full-scale development.”
While saying this, Solomon stared straight at Mira with a smile so broad it was scary.
“It started again, eh.”
Muttered Luminaria who knew Solomon for a long time and guessed what was happening after taking a look at him holding documents. Hearing that, Mira made a questioning expression, but before she realized, Solomon himself was already next to them.
“Up until now the crafting of materials didn’t keep up, so energy conservation was a prerequisite. But the fact that you’re here now, equals to us having the highest output Magic-Sealing Stones. Finally, we can drop all this cheapskate energy conservation nonsense and develop without worrying about fuel. With this we can take a big step towards Type-10!”
Solomon all got excited and started to talk on and on, explaining to Mira just how hard it was for them until now. According to him, to reach his ideal performance levels it was necessary to use Magic-Sealing Stones in hundreds and to gather that much, half a year was necessary. If it took half a year to prepare, then it was nowhere near ready for practical use. He explained this enthusiastically.
“Magic engineering is still in the middle of development. That is why we saw the possibilities. Especially by increasing the grade of Magic-Sealing Stones the amplification can be really amazing. You see, the better they are the more——"
“Whoops, that’s enough. Looks like we got a sleepyhead here.”
Luminaria reined in Solomon who grew more and more passionate. After listening all of that slightly bothersome talk, mostly dominated by Solomon’s hobby, Mira started to doze off and her head started to sway.
“I see, it can’t be helped.”
Solomon easily backed down, and once again returned the documents to the back of the shelf. But that did not mean that his enthusiasm has cooled off. He simply knew that from here on, he can have her join him any time. His close friend was right here. That was enough for Solomon now.
“C’mon, wake up.”
Luminaria called Mira while poking her cheek.
"’m not sleeping.”
Mira brushed away that hand and glared at Luminaria crisply, but the next moment her eyelids lowered as if melting, just to open wide again.
“But you wanna sleep, right?”
She instantly answered to Luminaria’s question.
“By the way, did you take a bath already?”
“It’s fine, I’ll pass for today.”
Luminaria asked again and her expression changed when she heard the answer.
“That’s not good at all. Now that you’re a woman, not taking a bath is out of question!”
Although it was just Luminaria’s own doctrine, Mira was unable to refute since she was busy fighting against the sandman.
With that said, Luminaria picked up Mira and ran away like a kidnapper.
(“There’s a mountain of problems, but it looks like things will get fun from here on.”)
Left behind, Solomon saw off the two close friends’ figures and smiled happily. Then, he started to slowly walk towards the mens’ baths.
“Why do we have to enter together?”
As the smell of baths entered her nose, the restraint of drowsiness had loosened and Mira decided she might as well take a bath. The fact that was that she was interested in the castle’s large bath was the main reason.
"It’s fine, the bath’s really wide. It’s been long since we’ve last met, let’s try some naked skinship.”
Brought here by Luminaria, Mira was currently in the changing room of the large public bath. While Luminaria took off her outfit with experienced movements and folded it on a shelf. At the same time, Mira was having a hard time with the ribbon-covered robe customized by the aides Litaria and Mariana.
“Good grief. Let me try.”
Luminaria stood in front of Mira and started untying the ribbons skillfully one after another. At the same time in front of Mira, were voluptuous, fine results of perverted fixation asserted itself. As expected, Mira was unable to look unable at them directly, and her gaze wandered.
Thanks to Luminaria’s strenuous efforts, a total of twenty ribbons were lined up on the shelf. The robe that which was rolled up had been returned to its original state, and with the removal of the ribbon-shaped hair-clip at the chest, the collar opened so much that Mira’s shoulders were visible and her moderately-swelled breasts peeked out, Luminaria smiled at this sight.
“The inside is just like you, too.”
“Don’t touch on that any more…"
Dragging the robe’s hem, Mira headed to the corner of the dressing room and took it off after a moment of squirming.
Below this strange mahou shoujo-arranged robe, there was Mira’s underwear appearance, the Raiment of Celestial Maiden and bloomers. It had become a the main cause of Luminaria’s additional attack.
“To have matched the see-through lingerie and old-fashioned bloomers… That’s a remarkable growth for just two days. At this rate you will reach my level soon.”
Seeing the combination of see-through raiment which showed off Mira’s young but bewitching body and traditional bloomers that at first look appeared unrelated to eroticism, Luminaria appeared to have thought discovered something. Mira threw the taken off robe at the pervert, took off the remaining clothes and ran inside the bath.
Left behind, Luminaria carefully folded the robe and placed it on the shelf before entering the bath as well.
The bath was luxurious and dazzling, fitting the location that was the castle the king lived in. The water tank was constantly filled and in the middle, there was something like a fountain spewing water towards the ceiling, which caught by gravity fell back down like sudden shower rain.
This bath was also used by the country’s guests. And therefore, it was also used as display for of this country, which appeared to have allowed Mira to enjoy this otherworldly feeling the bath gave off.
The overly amazing sight blew away Mira’s sleepiness and cackling, she started to play right under the fountain which covered her with water like a waterfall. In no time, her hair sucked in moisture and stuck to her skin, droplets of water trickled down her soft, fair skin and fell into the bath.
Mira started to run from one corner of the bath to another, kicking water in the process as she enjoyed herself. This bath felt really overdone and even more amazing than a luxurious spa.
“Looking like this, the way she acts matches her appearance, well, I guess that's 'cause he was a childish guy in the first place. Still, you really fine with this? Danbulf.”
Luminaria muttered towards no one in particular and fondly chased Mira’s frolicking appearance with her eyes.
A familiar anime theme song sounded inside the bathroom. Luminaria hummed as she immersed plenty in the water, relaxing to the fullest.
Once Mira was healed enough by the bath, she glanced at Luminaria and refreshed, returned back to the dressing room. The clothes they left on the shelves have been taken for washing and instead, a change of clothes was prepared.
She spread that change of clothes in her hands and froze in place. No wonder, it was a sky blue one piece dress with frills. Something that the castle’s maid did her best to pick out, thinking it would fit Mira best.
However, this was not the problem. If anything, it was the item that was lying next to the dress, overshadowing it.
They were a pair of white panties decorated with ribbons. Although they were scarcely decorated, it was all the more reason that this article had a possibility of drawing even more of Mira’s complete charm than ever.
There is no need for any needless extras. A pair of panties is all you need. That is the path to supreme...no, fulfilling personal tastes. That is what the panties said to her.
In panic, Mira opened the item box and started to search for something she could use instead, but as she had already confirmed last night, it ended with her only realize anew that there was no escape.
To return to herself, she looked away from panties. That moment, ahead of her gaze she saw a beautiful girl who would look really good in those panties.
“Nnn...ahh, a mirror.”
The cute girl not wearing a single thread, was Mira’s own reflection.
After peering at it intensely,
“I’m a cute.”
she muttered. The first time she had seen her appearance after becoming Mira was in the Spell-Clad Knight’s mirror-like armor, then the next time was in a dark window. However, this mirror showed off every enchanting little detail, making Mira understand her own taste more than ever.
Looking at the mirror entire time, she wiped her body with a towel and for some reason, touched her face. Then she traced with her finger from the cheeks to her lips, then to the collarbone, finally, she let go and stroked her lustrously fluttering silver hair.
“Welcome, to world on this side. I welcome you.”
Mira, who had engrossed herself in her own world suddenly twitched, stretching her back she turned her face towards the meaningful female voice.
Standing there, was Luminaria with a triumphantly twisted smile on her face.
“Since when did you look?”
“I’m a cute.”
“Hm? What was that? I haven’t seen a move like that before.”
Luminaria seemed to have suddenly disappeared, which made Mira interested in this unknown move. Among the abilities she knew, there was none that had an effect like this.
“It just means that magic engineering isn’t the only thing that has progressed while you were gone. There’s been thirty years, meaning that every branch of abilities progressed rapidly.”
There, Luminaria repeatedly appeared and disappeared making illusions. At this sight, Mira forgot all about shame from earlier and her head was completely filled with interest in this new ability.
“This one, is from about eight years ago, I think. It’s the avoidance skill called 【Mirage Step】 and the effect is as you see.”
While saying so, Luminaria repeat the movement while leaving mirages behind.
“The condition for learning it, is to have mana and to have received the blessing of light and water spirits.”
“Ohhh! Then I can learn right away. Teach me!”
Learning that she has fulfilled the conditions for acquiring the ability, Mira approached Luminaria excitedly.
“Ehh, what should I doo. Should I really teach you the fruit of this world’s long history for free, hmmm?”
But Luminaria was reluctant. He, or rather, she, had known since long ago that Mira had been obsessed with various abilities to no end.
“Mmh, fine. Solomon probably knows it too.”
Said Mira and threw her towel. The towel was caught by Luminaria who wrapped it around her hands as if to hide them.
“Look, what do you think it is?”
Then she threw the towel in the air, revealing a book that appeared in her hands as if by magic trick. Written on the cover was “Ability Encyclopedia: Year 2146".
“C-...can that be…?!”
Ability Encyclopedia was the super best seller that had gathered information on countless abilities that have been discovered. Of course, Mira, as an ability maniac did have a copy, but it was the “Ability Encyclopedia: Year 2116" a version from thirty years ago in this world.
Naturally, her line of sight was glued to the book. Within just four years since the game service started there have been various abilities discovered or developed. Considering this one had thirty years worth of history more behind it, the amount of knowledge in it was unfathomable.
“Right now there are various limits on these, and they turned into a very valuable book you can’t get no matter how you pay. What if I told you I’ll give it to you?”
"...What do you want?”
Mira went straight to the point. From Luminaria’s perspective, it was an instruction book she had already finished reading, but she must have been aware just how attractive the book was to Mira. If she had brought it out, there was no way she would give it for free, that was clear from the way she put on airs earlier.
“You catch on quickly. Weell, for you it’s nothing difficult. I heard from Solomon, you’re going to go look for those guys, right? I want you to get two items for me while you’re at it.”
“Hooh, so, what do you need?”
“First one is Crimson King’s Sword and the second, is World Tree’s Ash.”
“Hm-mm. They’re quite rare items, but well, not to the point I can’t find them. However, that should be the same for you. Why go out of your way to ask me?”
The two items Luminaria has designated were both first-class treasures. However, with Mira’s skills they were not impossible to acquire.
“As you already know, I can’t move from this country now. The development of Accord Cannon is one thing, but I also need to avoid crossing borders as not to stimulate other countries. I’m a celebrity, after all.”
Said Luminaria and emphasizing her voluptuous breasts, raised the corners of her mouth in a daring smile.
“I see, hmm. It was already a realistic game back then, but now it’s turned completely real it seems. Certainly, in such a case it would be easier for me to move.”
“Right? That’s why I ask you, do it and this is yours.”
While saying so, Luminaria stroked Mira’s head with the book as if to show it off.
“Well, all right. However, what do you intend to do with a sword? It’s faster to use Wizardry and stronger, too. What will you use the ash for? I remember it was an alchemical material, but I recall you mentioning that kind of little things don’t fit you.”
Luminaria was a Wizard and a top-class one at that. Even if the Crimson King’s Sword was a high-class item, it displayed its true worth when used by a swordsman. A Wizard won’t master it, and if she wanted a flame attack it was overwhelmingly more efficient to use 【Wizardry: Twin Blaze】. Also, Luminaria who was bad with detailed work completely ignored alchemy, so it was unknown why would she need the World Tree’s Ash which was a material for Secret Stone of Purification.
“Well, I’m not going not going to use either in normal way. They’re just catalysts.”
Luminaria poked Mira’s head with the book rhythmically as she said ca-tal-ysts. Mira glared up at her from below.
“Catalysts you say… Can it be, they’re new Wizardry spell catalysts?!”
“Correct. A long time ago, I found a pentagram I haven’t seen before. As a result of analyzing it, I found out that these two catalysts are required for it.”
While the two spoke, Mira looked for a chance and extended her hands towards the book. However, they passed through empty air.
“To think that even new spells are there, the thirty years of progress sure is amazing. However, you said analysis just now. As far as I remember, finding wizardry catalysts was all about burning anything in sight. So if you do that analysis, you find information on catalysts?”
“Indeed. It’s a new ability developed from identification, the 【Spell Analysis】. Of course, it’s also included in this book.”
Luminaria said and moved the book right in front of Mira’s eyes. That instant, Mira extended her arms and grasped the mirage.
“You who remains the same as thirty years ago are, well, thirty years early to steal a march on me. Now, what will you do? If you find them, I’ll give this to you.”
“I’ll undertake it.”
After turning around towards where Luminaria moved to with Mirage Step, Mira answered with a sparkle in her eyes.
“However, I have a condition.”
“Nn, what is it? Do you need travel expenses or some items? I think Solomon will get everything ready for you.”
“No, I just want you teach me that illusion ahead of time.”
Mira looked up at Luminaria with an expression full of hope. This made even the experienced Luminaria’s heart skip a beat.
“Looks like you’re starting to master this body of yours. Well, fine. I’ll teach you as advance payment.”
From there, a study meeting of two “maidens" began in the dressing room.
The initiation to the ability ended before long. As long as she knew the essentials, it was not difficult for Mira to learn it. However, most likely because of difference in experience, it was more crude than when Luminaria used it, but that was most likely a result of repeating the same training they did just now.
Once the studying was over, the naked two started to put on clothes.
“What, still resisting? Just give up, from here on it’s going to be like this all the time. You’ll just tire yourself out if you react every time.”
While putting on the clothes she was prepared, Luminaria looked at Mira who stood there with the one piece dress and panties in her hands, and spoke. She understood the situation in an instant.
“But, you know…"
Mira muttered and looked towards Luminaria, then opening her eyes wide she glared at Luminaria who wore a robe.
“Why are you wearing a robe…"
“I come here often, so there’s plenty of my change of clothes prepared.”
“Then lend me one pair of those. As expected, “this” is too much.”
“There’s no way it will fit, size-wise. Also, don’t worry, it will definitely look good on you. If you’d like, I can help you out?”
Smiling suspiciously, Luminaria drew closer to Mira.
With that said, Mira left a mirage right away and ran to the opposite side of the dressing room, then heaving a sigh she gathered resolve and passed her head through the one piece dress’ skirt.
Feeling the wet silver hair were cramped inside the dress, Mira used one hand to forcibly pull them out.
And what remained, was a pair of panties. Inside Mira’s head, began the war between no-panties faction and give-up-on-something-important faction. Due to how short the one piece’s skirt was, the give-up-on-something-important faction was on the offense. But the no-panties faction desperately protected the remnants of Danbulf, and his “manliness". However, this war between conflicting factions was put to an end all-too-soon by the hand of a certain person.
“You’re still on it?”
Luminaria said and took the panties from Mira’s hand, crouched and held it next to her legs.
“C’mon, raise your leg.”
“Cooome on, hurry.”
Luminaria poked Mira’s leg as if to say “hurry, hurry", so Mira reluctantly raised one leg up. After quickly passing the panties through one leg, Luminaria said “c’mon, the other one" and started to prompt again. Resigning herself, Mira raised her other leg and was dressed with the panties. It felt like a reenactment of bloomers incident.
Although Mira lost something in a grand manner, she left the dressing room as if she reached enlightenment.
Next to the maid compartment there were bedrooms for visitors. After being guided there, Mira immediately entered the bed.
(“Today sure was busy, mm.”)
Mira recalled what happened that day. She would have to live in this game-turned-real world, but she did not feel any anxiety. It was because she had reliable friends with her.
Even though she thought it was thanks to the two, she was too embarrassed to clearly acknowledge it. Thinking of such things, Mira fell asleep.
The first morning in the Arkite Castle’s bedroom. Still dozing off in dreams, Mira was forcibly woken up by strong knocking on the door.
After taking a look around, she saw an unfamiliar luxurious room. Oh right, thought Mira and grasped the situation. Meanwhile, the sound coming from the door continued so she stood up and opened the door to check what is happening.
“Ah, good morning, Mira-sama.”
Because of how sudden the door opened and because Mira’s clothes were disordered, the guard at the door was dumbfounded for a moment. However, he immediately got a grip on himself.
“I was instructed by Solomon-sama to bring you immediately. It is an urgent matter.”
The guard who relayed this had his breath out of order and furthermore, not only the guard but the entire corridor appeared busy with people running all over.
“Mm-hm, I’ll go right away.”
Seeing that, Mira realized that it was something important enough to call her.
“Um, it would be prudent to adjust your clothing…"
When Mira nodded and tried to leave the bedroom, the guard warned her with reserve. The one piece dress she was wore before sleeping had largely slipped off, exposing her skin down to clavicles.
“Mm-hm, looks like it.”
Told so, Mira confirmed her own state and after quickly fixing it, she proceeded towards Solomon’s office.
“Have Spell-Clad Knights’ second and third platoons head Southwest. Split some of Spell-Clad Spellcasters and send them Southeast. I leave composition to you.”
Everywhere in the castle was busy. After Solomon’s voice could be heard from the wide-open office’s door, a lively response could be heard and an officer who received orders has ran off. Mira entered the office as she saw him off.
Inside, Solomon leaned on the desk completely exhausted.
“It’s really noisy, what’s happening?”
When Mira called out to him, Solomon raised his head vigorously.
“Good morning, and it’s emergency!”
Speaking right away, Solomon poked strongly at the map on top of the desk.
“I can tell that’s the case. So, what emergency is it?”
Solomon who normally wasn’t easily agitated, was in a real hurry now. Rather than about the situation, Mira was curious about his state.
“This morning, there was a report that three hundred monsters appeared.”
While saying so, Solomon pointed with his finger at an area East of Lunatic Lake. It was not very far, but also not a reason to panic and turn the castle around, so Mira was puzzled.
“This happening three days in a row is enigmatic, but not a reason to make a racket like thi——"
Mira started to say, but Solomon pointed at different location next.
“Fifteen minutes later, another herd of three hundred appeared here.”
She did not remember herds ever appearing simultaneously, and even to Solomon who lived thirty years in this world, this was a first time. But it did not end with that. Solomon moved again showing two more places.
“Territories here and here were invaded. They are herds of two and eight hundred.
And after saying this, Solomon leaked a sigh and moved his finger again.
“Then just a moment ago, another two hundred in those two places.”
Following Solomon’s finger movements with her eyes, Mira felt the something disturbing and furrowed her eyebrows.
“In addition to that, the reports say that every herd has a single abnormal creature mixed in with them, and based on its characteristics, it seems they are lesser demons.”
“Mm-hm, so all herds were gathered by Lesser Demons.”
“I think there’s no doubt about it.”
Solomon nodded and removing his finger from the map, he reseated himself on the chair.
“Also, ahead of where all six herds are moving is the flower field from before. It appears there is some kind of secret in that place.”
He closed his eyes in deliberation as he said this. While recalling yesterday’s sight, Mira found the flower field on the map.
“I wonder if they intend to make them fight each other again, hm?”
“Well, in any case.”
Solomon said, then pointed at the location of a herd appearing in the South of the country before continuing.
“I sent Luminaria to deal with the large herd of eight hundred over here. And I want you to take care of two hundred on the North side.”
North of the country’s territory. The appearance location of the monster herd Solomon pointed at, was the closest one to the flower field from yesterday.
“Two hundred, huh. Well, don’t think there will be any problems, but is it okay not to push a more bothersome place on me?”
It was the herd with the fewest number of monsters that appeared on the North side and it seemed easier in comparison. This was the reason Mira said so jokingly, but Solomon raised the corners of his mouth in a daring smile,
“Of course it’s the most bothersome place there is.”
and he said briskly. Mira who made a relaxed expression suddenly changed it.
“They are small in numbers, but it’s the closest one to that flower field so there’s a need to head there fast. But that’s not a problem. You see, we have a fast vehicle you already know.”
A a fast-moving vehicle, being reminded of it, Mira a bitter expression.
“And one more thing. We received report that the eyewitness saw that the lesser demon in this herd was holding something that looks like a black crystal.”
“Black crystal...you say? Can it be Demon’s Crystal?”
A lesser demon with a crystal. Mira knew what did this mean.
“Most likely. That’s why I want you to go.”
“I see, mm. It won’t be easy then.”
Agreeing that it would be easier to fight a larger number of monsters, Mira accepted the request.
After being cheered on by Solomon from behind her back, Mira arrived at the garage where all preparations were already complete. As expected, the armored jeep was waiting for her there in all its glory.
“Mira-sama, let’s get along today as well.”
“Mm-hm...it’s you again.”
Same as yesterday, Galet bowed with a lively smile.
“With this, everyone is here, let us depart right away.”
With that said, Galet opened the back seats door.
“Nhm, so you two are coming, huh.”
When Mira got in, it appeared that there were two more passengers already waiting in there.
“So the one Solomon-sama spoke of was Mira-sama. This is certainly reassuring.”
The one smiling towards Mira without any deep meaning behind it, was Solomon’s aide, the spellcaster Joachim.
On the other hand, remaining silent and clearly showing a displeased expression, immediately turning away his gaze was the other passenger, Reinard.
(“Reacting same as always, huh.”)
Why are those two with me? Mira wondered what was Solomon’s intention as she sat down next to Joachim.
“Well then, we’re depaaarting.”
The slightly cloudy presence that started to drift was disrupted by Galet’s excited voice and the armored jeep physically blowing forward.
“A driving school needs to be built…"
“I have heard that the impact was amazing, but to think it was this strong.”
“Ghh…so what if it is. Hmph.”
The three in the back seats tumbled on top of the sofa together and started to complain together.
On the way to intercept the herd of monsters, Mira and the other two started to speak of how to deal with monsters.
“I will take care of the front, Joachim, you smash them from behind like usual. And——"
After proposing the tactics they were most firmly used to, then looked towards Mira who was the number one uncertain factor in this operation.
“As for Mira-dono...Solomon-sama said to leave dealing with the Lesser Demon to you, but honestly speaking, I have no grasp on your level of strength so I cannot say anything. Is it really okay to leave it to you?”
Reinard’s expression as he formed a plan was seriousness itself and only now the ill will towards her did not exist.
“Mm-hm, there is no problem even if we draw the worst case possible.”
“Worst case? What’s that? Well, doesn’t matter. Just don’t let it escape.”
When Mira answered, Reinard glared at her and emphasized.
“Of course. Same to you, don’t blunder.”
Mira snorted and glared back at Reinard with a smile.
“Now, now, you two. I’m sure there is no need to worry. Even if we haven’t seen it, Mira-sama’s strength has been acknowledged by Solomon-sama so it is certain. Also, Mira-sama, please believe in us. It’s true that Reinard is picky in regards to etiquette, persistently nagging even, but that is because he is very straightforward as a knight. He is a man who once decides something as a knight, will definitely accomplish it. And I too, although not to an extent of the Elder substitutes, have confidence in my spells.”
Joachim, trapped in between two glares setting off sparks, was unable to bear it and stepped in.
Reinard seemed to have something to say, but only responded with “of course" and turned his gaze towards the windshield in front. Mira herself did not doubt the strength of Reinard whom Solomon choose to become his aide. Far from that, the loyalty he showed was worth respect. However, Mira had no intention of saying this.
“I’m not worried in the first place.”
She said and also turned her face towards the windshield in front. There, spread the sight she had a memory of. It was the same scenery from when yesterday, when they moved from a paved surface to a grassland. Seeing it, Mira almost reflexively lowered her body to lie down on the sofa.
Immediately after, the armored jeep leaped towards the grass in heroic manner. The armor let out a intense sound but was able to ignore the impact and continue to drive. However, that was not the case for the back seats.
“The speed is satisfactory, but there’s a need of preparing measures to cope with it.”
Fixing his posture Reinard groaned with a scowl, next to him, Joachim had tumbled on the sofa and ending up lying facing forward, had analyzed this.
“Mm, I think there is a problem with the driver, too.”
Having a beforehand experience and have been prepared beforehand, Mira stared at Galet with resignation as he grew more and more lively proportionally to the vehicle’s shaking.
Because the armored jeep had a communications device on board, they received immediate reports from outposts that monitored the movement of monsters. Thanks to them, they could tell that the herd’s destination was the same flower field from yesterday.
If one ignored what happened inside, the armored jeep smoothly moved towards the destination.
The white pillar could be seen faintly in the front, and as the three tumbled from time to time they continued to plan the operation.
“Hm...so we can’t exterminate them on that flower field.”
“Exactly. The moment they arrived on that field they started to fight against one another. In other words, it means that doing so in that place is their goal. That Lesser Demon who was inciting them laughed right before dying. It’s just a guess, but I feel their objective is dying in there itself.”
Recalling what happened the other day and the smile that Lesser Demon showed at the end, Mira drew a conjecture. However, she did not know what kind of meaning did dying in that particular location have.
“Their objective is to die at a flower field, is it. It feels like quite romantic end, but…"
Hearing Mira’s words, Joachim closed his eyes and responded while thinking. Reinard also appeared to be thinking as he groaned, but his face showed a wide range of puzzled expressions.
“Let’s see, maybe their goal is making of an Mournful Swamp of Undead.”
Joachim slowly opened his eyes and spoke his theory.
“Mournful Swamp of Undead, you say? Can that thing be made?”
Hearing it, Mira let out a surprised voice.
Mournful Swamp of Undead. Mira knew that name. Or rather, she knew all about it. It pointed at many old battlefields, execution grounds, cemeteries, locations that had a lot to do with death and where very undead monsters appeared very often. Back when she was Danbulf, she often lied in wait on those to hunt efficiently. They were places familiar to all the players.
“No, it hasn’t been proved that it is something that can be made artificially, but I read an essay that suggested so. However, the conditions are matching.”
Joachim himself was only half-convinced and did not have conclusive evidence. Continuing, he explained the additional conditions for a Mournful Swamp of Undead to appear.
First, it had to be a land holding some kind of power, have a lot of corpses, and for a large amount of lives to end there. After explaining this much, he tried to think up of more conditions, but could not find anything matching.
“There were more thought included in that essay, but point in question was about the phenomenon of death affecting power and changing power’s characteristics. Even if the objective isn’t a Mournful Swamp of Undead, that Lesser Demon might be attempting to alter something on that flower field by providing death there…"
After saying so, Joachim looked at the white pillar they were approaching.
“Hmm-mm, that is interesting. We can’t imagine what kind of influence it might have, but considering a Lesser Demon is involved, it’s definitely nothing good.”
The influence caused by death. Hearing that Mira had recalled occult terms such as spiritual spots and spirit sickness. And considering they were in a world where devils and spirits actually existed, she easily accepted these terms.
Imagining countless fiery supernatural balls floating on top of the flower field, she stared dazedly at the white pillar.
(“Are they trying cause a forest fire with souls or what?”)
As she joked slightly in her mind, Mira captured the small hill in her sight. It was the very same hill that made them fly in the sky yesterday. The armored jeep was speeding up energetically toward it. Galet had reached the top mood and Mira made a split-second decision to squeeze herself into corner of the sofa to brace herself there. Joachim beside her noticed her movement and lowered his posture to brace himself as well.
The scenery seen outside the window passed with a high momentum and instead of the passing trees and mountains, all they could see were clouds in the sky. However, Reinard had no interest in that as he stared intently at the white pillar in front. Then suddenly, a floating sensation caught Reinard in its embrace and the sight visible in front changed from the white pillar into a plain of deep green grass.
Landing in a grand manner, the vehicle let out a sound as if it had an accident, then bounced a few times. Meanwhile, Reinard let tumbled all over and screamed. Seeing that, Mira used both of her arms and legs to bear it. Joachim who managed to prepare himself was also relieved that he managed to avoid showing an unsightly appearance.
“Looks like we will reach it first.”
Once the car’s shaking died down, Mira stared at the white pillar and said. Naturally, there were no monsters on the flower field, and also there was no sight of them in the surroundings.
“If they are moving as reported, they should appear from the back of the forest on the right side.”
Joachim strained his eyes to confirm the situation and comparing monster herd’s last known location, pointed towards the direction they should be.
“You knew it would turn like this, didn't you? Why didn’t you tell me.”
A voice similar to a resentful voice of a ghost sounded in the car. The two turned in the direction of the voice and saw Reinard, who looked like a rag thrown around by the wind, sprawled on the sofa’s back.
“Ahh, mm. Sorry about that. I noticed right before it happened and bracing myself was all I could do.”
“I saw Mira-sama brace herself and hurried to change my posture, so there was no time.”
As the two smiled while saying this, not looking to be sorry at all, it caused Reinard to furrow his eyebrows. However, the next moment, the armored jeep’s tires rode on top of something and the vehicle leaped again. Unable to react to this sudden impact, Mira and Joachim tumbled together.
“Damn you, Galet…"
Carefully sitting herself back on the sofa, Mira muttered with resentment at the driver’s seat in front.
“This is certainly a problem.”
Joachim too, had smiled bitterly seeing Galet make an innocent, joyful expression as he manipulated the steering wheel.
Seeing the two tumble the same way as he did, Reinard made a satisfied smile.
After arriving at the objective, Mira looked around the flower field with surprise.
“What is this?”
She muttered while looking beneath her feet. The flowers there bloomed with strength.
“I wonder as well.”
Galet was also surprised at the same sight of the flower field. It was just yesterday that monsters have roughened the place. The outer part of the flower field should have been stomped all over and stained with splattered blood. However, no matter how one looked there, were no absolutely no signs of that, and all that spread in there was a scenery of vivid colors.
“What is it? Is there a problem?”
Reinard who wasn’t there yesterday, stared at the beautifully and proudly blooming flowers examining them, and asked.
“Yes, although rather than it being a problem, it is something mysterious. The herd that appeared yesterday had been fighting each other on this field yesterday. And back then, this flower field looked like a battlefield, roughened horribly and covered with monsters’ blood. And what was enigmatic, was that this applied only to the outer ring, but——"
In the middle of explaining, Galet paused for a moment, returning his gaze towards the flower field.
“As you can see, there is no sight it has been roughened or even leftover blood.”
As far as they could see, the flowers swayed on the wind like a pure maiden, rustling quietly. It was hard to imagine that in a place like this, just yesterday, there were several hundred monsters killing one another.
“Certainly, that is mysterious.”
Reinard and Joachim took a look around at the flower field and muttered. Mira too, following their lead took a look around.
And after confirming that there were no defects on the field, Mira felt something was off and her sight stopped. On the large white pillar shooting into the sky, in comparison to its upper part, the bottom was dyed in black like a piece of paper dyed in black ink. Mira put her attention to that part, but considering she did not confirm how it looked before, her memory of it was ambiguous. The discomfort she had when seeing it was so slight, that if someone told her it was like that right from the start, she would believe it.
“Mira-sama, did something happen?”
Noticing that Mira furrowed her eyebrows as she stared at one point, Galet called out to her. Hearing his voice, she ceased her focus and looked away from the white pillar.
“It might be my imagination, but I feel like that pillar turned blacker.”
When Mira muttered almost to herself, Galet heard those words and squinted as if to look far away, confirming the middle of the flower field.
“Now that you say it, I feel like that is the case...but the noxiously-looking field left too strong an impression so I can’t remember it well.”
“Right? I don’t remember well how it looked yesterday. Mm, I can’t tell whether it changed or not.”
Losing the intent to recall how it was, Mira just looked up at the highly towering pillar as she said.
“It appears this place is safe, but I wonder where the monsters are.”
Reinard who had no interest in the flower field itself, vigilantly stared at the forest around them to look for the herd of monsters. However, there was no signs of them, there was only wind shaking the quietly-rustling branches and leaves.
“According to the report we received earlier, they should be nearby.”
In the report they received a few minutes ago, they heard that monsters progressed about five kilometers away from here in North by North-northwest direction, so Galet turned his gaze in that direction.
“Then let’s try searching. It’s in that direction, yes?”
It appeared that Joachim had some kind of method he could use to check it, so he asked as he looked in the same direction as Galet.
“Yes, if they are progressing as reported, they should appear from the back of the forest there.”
Beyond the flower field there was grass, and even further beyond that, it was surrounded by a forest. Galet answered while pointing at one part of it. Confirming the direction, Joachim put his left hand against his ear and pointed straight towards the forest with his right hand.
(“Hm, is this abstract magic?”)
Seeing Joachim’s hands surrounded by faint light, Mira watched him with interest.
While the spell remained active no one let out any voice, and after about a minute, Joachim changed his pose back to take a long breath.
“How was it?”
After a moment Reinard asked, Mira and Galet also waited for Joachim to speak.
"There is some distance remaining still, but I confirmed footsteps of a group coming this way. It’s no doubt that herd of monsters.”
“In which case, the best plan would be to meet them on the plain right outside the forest. There is no need to wait on them at the location of their objective.”
Once Joachim, who was staring deep into the forest had answered, Reinard made a proposal while looking at the same place. Eventually the monsters will appear for sure. Thanks to Joachim’s spell they confirmed the location of the herd. Now that the possibility of the herd passing by them and reaching the flower field was gone, just as Reinard said there was no need to remain on the flower field.
“Agreed, let’s hurry and head there!”
As soon as he said this, Galet ran off towards Armored Jeep. Seeing that, the three made bitter expressions and chased after him with a heavy gait.
“By the way, that spell you used earlier to confirm monster herd earlier. What kind of spell was it?”
After entering the forest, Armored Jeep started to drive safely out of necessity, so Mira and the two others regained composure. Then, Mira immediately asked something she was curious about.
“The one from earlier, that would be Sharp-Hearing spell.”
Although Galet had calmed himself down in comparison to earlier, the vehicle still shook as Joachim answered the question.
“Hooh. It’s called Sharp-Hearing spell. So, is it categorized in Abstract Magic?”
“Indeed, it is Abstract Magic, but it is categorized as Secret Abstract Magic.”
“Secret Abstract Magic...?”
Mira’s eyes sparkled and she leaned towards Joachim to question him with fervor. It was caused by the term unknown to her.
“Speaking of which, I heard that you have been living away from human settlements to train together with Danbulf-sama, and that you were out of the loop on the newest spellcrafting information.”
“Mm-hm, indeed that’s how it was. So?”
The information regarding Mira was made like Joachim just mentioned. It was an excuse that Solomon had arranged to explain her lack of knowledge of these long thirty years.
“Abstract Magic has various different conditions, but the spells that have very special conditions for acquiring are called Secret Abstract Magic.”
“Special conditions? What kind of conditions are they?”
Mira fell on down on the sofa as the car shook, but immediately got up and with a joyful expression and prompted Joachim to continue. As a fellow spellcaster, her reaction was something he could understand very well.
“Actually the Secret Abstract Magic spells’ conditions are yet to be discovered, but it is thought that spirit blessings and the amount of defeated monsters and their types might have something to do with them. As for Sharp-Hearing spell, all we have discovered is that a wind spirit’s blessing has something to do with it.”
Joachim explained while bracing himself against the shaking with both hands. Lastly, making a proud look, he said that acquiring Secret Abstract Magic of Sharp-Hearing was incredibly difficult, with only several people in the entire continent being able to use it.
“So I can’t learn it…"
In the end, learning that there was no way to acquire a Secret Abstract Magic spell, Mira started to sulk a little just to get tumbled by the shaking. “We’re sending this guy to a driving school" she muttered with resentment.
After several minutes, the armored jeep slipped through the forest on the North side of the flower field, reaching a flat plain. There, about a kilometer of distance away, they saw a black squirming herd of monsters.
“All right, just as expected. Let’s meet the enemy here. Stop slowly here.”
“The view is good and there is no obstacles to stop my spells. These are good conditions. Please stop slowly.”
“Agreed, with a view this good they won’t be able to escape. Stop here, slowly.”
The three leaned forward looking ahead of windshield and put hands on his left shoulder, head and right shoulders then spoke, especially emphasizing the last part.
Reminded by all three, Galet gently slowed down and stopped the armored jeep. After confirming this, the three caught breath with relief and got off towards the plain.
“Well then, I wish you luck in battle. As planned I will move to the location I can back you up from, send me a sign if I’m needed.”
After confirming the doors were closed, Galet said so and drove the armored jeep towards a hill on the right side of the monsters.
“Yeah, got it. Well, with just this many there should be no problem.”
“We can’t let our guard down, Reinard.”
“Hmph, I’m well aware of that.”
Reinard captured the approaching enemy in sight and speaking with absolute confidence, but was warned by cautious Joachim. However, Joachim’s words did not appear to show any worry and felt like he spoke to persuade himself.
Armored Jeep slowly moved towards its planned position as not to stand out. Mira watched the vehicle with a cold gaze and muttered “he IS capable of safe driving", Reinard and Joachim nodded in silence.
“Now, do you remember the plan?”
Focusing himself, Reinard called out to Mira.
Mira faced towards the monsters again and posed with fingers on the tip of her chin. However, while that pose did work well with Danbulf’s appearance, with Mira’s current appearance it looked unreliable.
“That’s fine then, but I hear that this Lesser Demon, unlike normal ones, is capable of summoning. Is there no problems with that?”
“Like I said earlier, even the worst draw is within my expectations. No problems.”
“Speaking of which, you said something like this. Well, if something happens I will come in to support.”
Said Reinard and poised the shield he held with pride. Although Reinard kept flaring up at people, he was a straightforward knight who did not bring his feelings into work.
“Nothing like that will happen, you have no need to worry. Just keep the herd away.”
As they spoke, Mira caught a glimpse of what kind of person Reinard was, mainly, of the primary reason Solomon had chosen him as an aide, which was the way he acted as a knight.
“Well then, I leave tanking to you.”
Hearing that, Reinard snorted “hmph" and started to calmly walk towards monsters. Joachim followed moving a little behind him. Mira moved away from the two and started to walk in the left direction to approach the herd from the side.
The plan they ultimately decided on, was to have Reinard and Joachim take on majority of the herd. For that sake the two faced the herd from the front.
On the plain in the distance, the herd of monsters squirming like a wave started to show their entirety. The four-legged Dirty Hound monsters were running in the front and a division of Goblin subtype called Arch-Goblin followed them.
In a position at the center of that Goblin division, Mira saw the Lesser Demon’s appearance.
(“As we thought, he’s heavily protected.”)
According to the plan, Mira was supposed to take care of the Lesser Demon, but she also had one more role. For that sake Mira moved away from the two and while hiding, she moved downwind.
Before long, Reinard and Joachim faced the monster herd.
On the plain, the distance between them was about twenty meters. Every time wind blowed, multiple ripples on grass appeared as far as they could see. Disturbing those waves were about two hundreds of monsters and Reinard, who overwhelmed the monsters with just his presence.
When he pulled out his sword, the movement of the herd packed in front had stopped. There were just two humans standing in front of the two hundred, but monsters stopped, following their instinct.
Dirty Hounds growled in low voice at the two to intimidate them. However, ignoring that, Reinard took one step forward after another.
That moment, the Lesser Demon in the middle of the herd let out irritating voice. And then, responding to that, several dozen of Dirty Hounds howled with madness and assaulted Reinard all at once.
At the same time Reinard took a large step forward which caused the atmosphere to tremble, and the trembling spread all around him. Even to Mira, this overwhelming fighting spirit looked to have a fair amount of experience behind it.
However, Dirty Hounds did not stop. Like puppets that had their instincts dulled, they leaped at the enemy from the front. Immediately after, the trembling atmosphere swallowed those monsters. That moment, Reinard took one more step and shouting to rouse himself, he flashed his sword.
The tip of the sword did not touch anything as it passed by, stopping in mid-air. At the same time, all sound disappeared and the silence felt like even the wind quietened down. Then suddenly, grass was cut into thousand pieces and danced in the air. Dirty Hounds who assaulted Reinard have been cut in half and rolled on the ground to spill the blood on the plain.
(“That was quite splendid.”)
Watching them from the distance, impressed, Mira looked towards the center of the herd.
The Lesser Demon raised both his hands and started to rave as he glared with resentment at Reinard. That instant, all monsters focused on one point, recognizing him as an obstacle and decided to remove him at full strength.
At Lesser Demon’s orders, the herd changed its formation. Reinard and Joachim waited without doing anything until that was over. Pulling all of monsters’ attention towards themselves.
The herd surrounded Reinard and Joachim, forming a circle so that they did not escape anyhow.
“The situation is as we expected it. Looks like we can continue as planned.”
After taking a look around, Joachim whispered to Reinard.
“All right, then let’s do as planned.”
When Reinard raised his sword as if to display it, monsters did not let it pass and started screaming to intimidate him.
The entire plain turned noisy, killing the sound of footsteps that approached the herd. The Lesser Demon noticed that sound only when the smell of a young girl reached him right from behind.
The monster herd which surrounded Joachim and Reinard changed its shape and the two were now in the middle of it. And the Lesser Demon had been standing furthest of the two, in a position from where he could watch over the battle. When he turned around, he saw Mira behind himself. Mira was waiting for the moment he split up from them and was alone.
(“That black crystal… I guess it’s Demon’s Crystal. As we predicted, it’s a summoning-type.")
Upon seeing two black knights standing behind Mira, the Lesser Demon hurriedly raised Demon’s Crystal up to the sky.
“Now, god only knows what will come out.”
The Lesser Demon’s action was a summoning ceremony. Though, it was a different type of summoning from the one Mira used. Demon’s Crystal was something that summoned a random magic beast. If she was lucky, another Dirty Hound would be added to the herd, if not, it was capable of summoning a large, dangerous beast.
However, Mira did not attempt to interrupt the summoning and only watched the magic circle spread in the sky. Speaking of summoner-type monsters, it was easier to defeat them before they summoned something. However, this theory did not apply to those sly Lesser Demons. Right before the Lesser Demon died, a black fog that was crystallization of their hatred would be released. Then seconds before dispersing, it would attempt struggle in vain. However, if there was an object with magic in it, it would be cursed by the black fog.
Regardless if it was in the middle of summoning or not, the cursed Demon’s Crystal would summon a high-class magic beast. Of course, even if it was not cursed there was still possibility of a high-class one appearing. Thinking of this possibility, Solomon had sent Mira to this place.
According to the plan, Mira was supposed to deal not only with the Lesser Demon, but also with the summoned magic beast. Not showing any nervousness at the summoning, she just waited for it to finish.
In the middle of it, the Demon’s Crystal started to shine creepily before finally, the moment had come. The magic circle floating in the sky had suddenly expanded and two legs that appeared like distorted old tree trunks descended on the ground.
“Mm-hm, it’s a miss.”
Staring at it, Mira heaved a sigh. No matter how one looked at it, it was a high-class magic beast and Mira recalled what those legs are.
Continuing after that appeared the tail which extended and slammed onto the ground. The tail that let out a heavy sound was thicker than those legs, and was covered with scales like a dragon’s tail.
Finally, the magic beast’s entirety had appeared. It had a body large enough to easily look down on trees when standing in the forest, and turned its head around to confirm the surroundings.
Once the magic circle completed summoning and dispersed, the Lesser Demon laughed in an irritating voice, certain of his victory. However, instantly after that, a howl splitting the air had sounded which muffled the laughing voice.
This overly loud voice caused Reinard and Joachim to scowl and turn in the direction of the voice. Among the squirming herd of monsters, they saw a figure of a monstrous beast with upper half similar to that of a cock and lower body of a lizard.
Those who looked in the eyes of it would see no morning light, just an eternal dream of stone. That magic beast’s name was Cockatrice, one of the high-class beasts which held multiple annoying abilities.
“That’s too much of a big-shot! Let’s go assist her, Joachim!”
Reinard, who was familiar with Cockatrice, judged that Mira was at disadvantage and attempted to go to her help. However, the monsters surrounding the two would not allow them to escape, or even move.
“Damn, you’re in the way!”
Irritated, Reinard clicked his tongue, but his shoulder was grasped by Joachim.
“Please calm down and look at her well. Standing in front of that beast, Mira-sama isn’t agitated in the least. And recall what she said earlier, even the worst draw is within expectations, her expression back then.”
Hearing Joachim’s words, Reinard recalled Mira’s cute but irritating smile of confidence. Then next moment, a scream of pain, a completely different from the proud one from earlier had resounded. Seeing that, hearing it, Reinard could tell his head cooled off rapidly.
“Yeah, I guess. There’s no problem.”
He muttered with a calm voice and cut down a Dirty Hound that assaulted him, then returned his gaze toward monsters in front of them.
The scream that Reinard heard, belonged to no one else but Cockatrice itself.
Summoned and landed on the ground, Cockatrice let out an ostentatious voice and spread its wings, trembled as if stretching. Then, slowly fixed its gaze at the girl in front. A Cockatrice’s had a pair of eyes that were intimidating enough to be able to freeze the spine of even the fiercest warriors. But, the next moment it suddenly lost half of that pair.
It raised a scream of pain as blood splattered from half of its face. Seeing that instant, Reinard realized there was no need to worry.
Out of the two black knights standing behind Mira, one was holding a sword dyed with fresh blood which dripped from the blade. Within few seconds of the summoning, Cockatrice’s eye was slashed. Although Cockatrice’s magic-dwelling eyes had a special petrification ability, it could only activate when using both eyes. After battling against these monsters multiple times, Mira knew that well and immediately took course of action to seal that ability.
However, even though it had lost its strongest ability, Cockatrice was filled with fighting spirit and howled furiously. However, it was different for the Lesser Demon. He clearly was disturbed by how the Cockatrice was wounded and glared at black knights lined up in front with fear.
The actual fight between two sides had yet to start. Once Mira had the two black knights move in front, the Cockatrice lowered its posture to respond to that. And when the two forces were about to clash, suddenly the Lesser Demon screamed. That moment, for some reason, the fury in Cockatrice’s eye faded, and the Lesser Demon had started running only to jump on top of the Cockatrice’s back.
Leaping up high over both enemies and allies, the Cockatrice started to run towards the flower field. Mira, who was ready to fight it any time stared at the Cockatrice dumbfounded.
As the monster flapped its wings in the sky, it slowly descended to land on the ground. Cockatrice’s ability to move in the air felt less like a flight and more like leap with a glide.
Caught by surprise by that silly appearance of the Cockatrice, Mira finally returned to herself and started to chase it into the forest at full speed. Reinard and Joachim smiled bitterly seeing her off as she ran.
The flower field with a white pillar standing in the middle of it. With that field in the back, Mira faced against the Cockatrice and the Lesser Demon.
“Damn you and your shrewd tricks.”
The moment she thought the combat would start the enemy escaped, so she overtook them and faced them again, standing with her back turned towards the field. With that said, it was not like she managed to do it with ease, it was thanks to her equipment and the terrain.
Among equipment Mira was wearing there were many that held special powers, and of course her running speed was also improved by them. Also, the Cockatrice had problems running at full speed inside the forest, and was thankfully unable to leap.
Mira stood fairly far ahead of them and had recovered her confident position. She summoned three more black knights and positioned them as to surround the Cockatrice.
Including the two that stood by Mira’s side, there were a total of five black knights existing in that place. Seeing them clad in overwhelming aura, standing like revenants, the Lesser Demon glared at them with irritation. He was certain that Cockatrice was capable of shaking off black knights. And certainly, black knights were not capable of catching up to the Cockatrice. And yet, they were here with their numbers increased. The Lesser Demon regretted that he judged Mira by her appearance, but he did not give up yet.
He pointed with his finger at Mira and yelled. Immediately after, the Cockatrice’s eye was filled with madness and letting out a scream it started running towards Mira. The beast’s legs gouged soil, sending dense green grass into air. Naturally, the huge body had a huge mass which could blow away majority of things by just moving.
However, neither the Cockatrice’s talons nor its beak had reached Mira.
Although its legs were protected by tough scales, deep wounds have been engraved in them and the huge body tilted forward. Black knights in the surroundings aimed at its legs alone and slashed both of them.
(“There is nothing more annoying than a charge when you have something to protect behind you…")
Mira instantly made a decision and ordered the Dark Knights. Because she did not know how tough the Cockatrice’s legs were, she had all of them attack. As a result she succeeded and the Cockatrice was no longer capable of charging.
Currently, with its injured legs it was unable to support its large mass and had dragged them behind as it moved back.
However, that moment, inside the corner of Mira’s vision in a place where it was easy to miss him, the Lesser demon had leaped off the Cockatrice and started running towards the flower field.
(“Nhm, he used Cockatrice as bait.”)
Using the Cockatrice’s body for hiding, the Lesser Demon moved to a distant location intending to arrive at his destination forcibly, before Mira had noticed.
The Lesser Demon was a several meters away from reaching his goal, certain that he will reach it he let out that annoying, jarring laughter and turned his face towards Mira to show off his obscene, overjoyed expression.
However, Mira only turned her face towards him and did not move. No, there was no need to move. They already predicted that the Lesser Demon’s objective was that flower field. Although they did not know what did he intend to do there, it certainly was not anything good. But there was one thing they knew, they knew that they just had to stop him from entering the flower field.
A single gust of wind roared through the plain. It enveloped a pure black and menacing shape.
The laughing voice that sounded in the surroundings stopped at once. The next instant, a scream dyed with hatred filled the surroundings. However, that lasted only a moment as it soon was silenced.
Ahead of where wind has blown, rolled the Lesser Demon’s bisected corpse surrounded by a violent black wind. His face was distorted as if fear was pasted onto it and he stared with empty eyes at the sky. Right beside him, stood a black knight holding a wet sword in his hands.
This black knight was one of the two that stood next to Mira. The moment she arrived at the flower field she ordered him to remove all enemies that approach it, so he chased after the target to fulfill his role. That is why there was no reason for Mira to move.
As if nothing happened, the black knight calmly moved away from that place and started walking back to Mira. That moment, black fog had rose up behind him. It was the Lesser Demon’s grudge.
“Nmm? What’s that?”
Since there was nothing to curse, it should have dispersed on the wind right there. However, this floating fog. and as if driven by a will it started to fly. Mira who never saw or heard of the grudge flying around to move she left the three black knights to deal with the Cockatrice to three black knights, and stood on guard against the grudge.
The black fog had slowly but surely approached her. It passed by the black knight who was the one who killed the Lesser Demon, then further passed by Mira to move away.
(“What kind of phenomenon is this? Is it just wandering around, looking for something to curse?”)
Tracing her chin with a finger, Mira furrowed her eyebrows and chased the fog with her eyes.
In the plain devoid of wind, only black knight’s footsteps sounded. This sound too, had stopped once the black knight returned back to Mira’s side. That’s when a groan-like breathing sounded in her ears. It came from the direction the grudge flew towards.
"It can’t be...you’re going to curse that thing?”
Ahead of where the fog flew waited the Cocaktrice, who looked at the black fog with furiously hot look in its eye.
If it moved even a little it would have been slashed down by black knights. With its body covered in wounds the Cockatrice realized that and feeling fury that made it insane, and following the Lesser Demon’s last order it forcibly suppressed the impulse to murder.
Once the grudge reached the Cockatrice, it appeared to have expanded, sped up and clung to the magic beast’s full of wounds body, then invaded Cockatrice through open wounds, eye and mouth.
The change was dramatic. As the black fog in the air thinned out, the magic beast’s stature bloated, starting to assume a dangerous shape like it was on the verge of exploding. A painful moaning had roared out. The slash wounds have been sealed with meat that swelled and the single eye filled with intent to kill have become bloodshot and full of madness.
Then finally the black fog had completely cleared. The cursing was complete. The grudge that so far only cursed things with power, did something unthinkable up until now and of all things possible, cursed a high-class magic beast.
(“To think something like this would happen. It must be a phenomenon made possible by the game turning real.”)
Mira strengthened her vigilance and watched the Cockatrice who grew by a size or two.
Maybe because it could not focus, or maybe because it was not used to the body, Cockatrice looked at the sky around and casually flapped its wings several times.
(“In any case, the fact it’s troublesome does not change.”)
Smiling bitterly and mixing in a sigh, Mira watched the Cockatrice’s transformed figure. At the same time, three black knights turned into a gale as they assaulted the beast.
“Nnh, it turned tougher too, huh.”
The Cockatrice who had his muscles slashed by black knights and splashed blood had now turned into something completely different. Although black knights did wound its torso, they were only wounds reaching skin deep and did not hurt the muscles underneath. Moreover, those wounds closed within seconds, leaving only little scars.
Still, black knights did not stop. Far from that, their swords increased in speed to leave even sharper scars. When repeated multiple slashed finally started to gouge meat, Cockatrice finally woke up from his stupefy.
The bloodshot-red eye captured the three black knights in sight and opened wide. Momentarily it was dyed with hatred and when that reached the limit, Cockatrice had flapped its wings to sweep away the persistent knights.
Instantly, a gust of wind swept around mowing down everything in the surroundings. Trees creaked and leaves were blown away to disappeared in the sky, and the plain shook like on raging waves. The wind had already turned into literal windstorm as it picked up Mira’s small body and sent it flying.
Once the short windstorm calmed down, various little things it raised in the air fell on the ground.
“To think just flapping his wings would cause this, he sure has gotten powerful.”
Taking two, three steps in mid-air as if stepping on air itself, Mira decelerated and descended to stand on the ground like nothing happened. The black knights were blown away, but immediately fixed their postures and surrounded the Cockatrice.
The Cockatrice looked at black knights. Their appearance holding black swords like nothing happened, put fire to Cockatrice’s piled-up hatred.
Opening its mouth wide, the Cockatrice roared as if trying to bring down the heavens, bursting out like a volcano. Shaking air itself which reverberated like thunder.
The overwhelming volume shook Mira’s eardrums numbing them. Scowling, she took half a step back and covered them with her robe’s cuffs.
“Good grief, how noisy.”
She muttered with annoyance but the mutter was muffled by metallic sounds and did not even reach Mira’s own ears. In the middle of the plain, roaring, the Cockatrice engaged in combat with black knights.
Raising a raving voice, the Cockatrice turned its entire body into a weapon and attacked. Not perturbed in the least, the black knights handled it by swinging their swords. The Cockatrice’s onslaught was incredibly destructive, piercing the earth and scraping it away. Furthermore, ever since combat started, its skin grew even tougher and black knights’ swords did not pierce it easily.
However, that was all that it seemed to be to Mira. Certainly a single attack’s power was amazing, if she received it head-on she would not get off scot-free. However, that was all there was to it. There was no sight of the Cockactrice’s original abilities and the splendid chain attacks, it swung its body around leaving everything to pure force. It was like tying a huge lump of metal to a famous spear and destroying its distinct characteristics that made it good. If there was anything good about it, it was that it gained a body that was capable of withstanding black knight’s sword. However, its body was gradually wounded and it was a matter of time until the huge body fell on the ground.
Still, Mira made a difficult expression as she looked at the battle. Although it was a matter of time, at this rate it would take until sunset to end this. It could be resolved by simply adding more Dark Knights, but wanting to get a better grasp on how this world worked now that it turned real, Mira wanted to check Dark Knights cooperation and behavior. The more their numbers increase the harder it was to follow them and she could miss some details.
(“Still, I don’t have do it now, I have time. I can check it carefully later.”)
Her life in this world had just began, there was no need to hurry. Rather than experiment now, it was better to calm down and check things one by one.
“Nn, is that…?”
Just when she was about to summon Dark Knights to finish things quickly, in the corner of her vision she found a crystal letting out a creepy light. It fell in at the edge of the field and lying beside it was a bisected Lesser Demon’s corpse.
Stimulated by interest, Mira walked up to it and picked the crystal up. Black and muddy-looking, the Demon’s Crystal shined with a pulse.
Demon’s Crystal was a special item held by summoner-type Lesser Demons. However, when a Lesser Demon was defeated, it disappeared along with its body so to players, it was part of game’s graphics and they could not acquire it.
“Hooh...hoh hoh hooh. This is really interesting.”
Holding the Demon’s Crystal in her hands, Mira grinned madly. Now that it was reality, monsters bodies did not disappear and remained as corpses to eventually return to the nature. Such a natural cycle had brought Mira an unexpected blessing.
A special crystal Lesser Demons used for summoning, Demon’s Crystal. Mira who had an abnormal interest in Summoning, for a long time now she was curious about this item that Lesser Demons used for summoning.
As she observed the crystal, a sound as if something had charged fiercely reached her and some black object were flung by her side. It was a Dark Knight who was blown away by the Cockatrice. With all of that momentum he gouged the flower field, his upper body burrowing in earth before he stopped. However, the next instant he stood up moving in a way impossible for a human, then shot from the spot like a bullet.
(“It looks just like an Elemental Crystal...but has different color darkness element, hmm. I haven’t seen anything shine this noxiously.”)
However, Mira was focused on the crystal so much that she did not even pay attention to combat. Picking up the Demon’s Crystal for the first time, the first thing she recalled was an Elemental Crystal. They were material items that could be used in many fields and were also deeply connected to Summoning.
Summoners had an ability called Elemental Shift. It was capable of using a catalyst that dwelled pure elemental power to grant an Armament Spirit an elemental power. One of the characteristics was that Armament Spirits summoned with this Elemental Shift had their strength decided mostly by the used catalyst.
“It might be amusing to try.”
Although it had an unknown color, the crystal somewhat resembled Elemental Crystal. Thinking she might be capable of using summoning with it, she immediately moved to action.
In the plain filled with the Cockatrice’s roaring and sound of sword attacks, grass in the location where whirlpool of combat happened had completely gone bald and clouds of dust were constantly thrown into the air. Capturing a location right in front of that in her in sight, Mira held up the Demon’s Crystal.
【Summoning: Elemental Shift - Dark Knight】
Adding a slight change to the sensation of summoning a Dark Knight, Mira released the power dwelling inside the crystal.
The magic circle that appeared in the front sucked in power that gushed out of the Demon’s Crystal and expanded one or two sizes.
“This is somewhat...bizarre.”
Within moments the magic circle was dyed noxiously and started to squirm like internal organs. Also, feeling an out of ordinary presence, Mira hurriedly leaped away from the spot.
Immediately after, the magic circle expanded and burst like clogged veins. The magic power that gushed out of it splattered in all directions like splashing blood.
Seeing this overly fierce sight Mira thought the summoning had failed, but once the remnants of magic power stopped falling, something tall and wide like several trees together did exist there, filling empty space.
It was clad in a knightly armor and had a beastly stature as it stood imposingly. It was black as if born from the darkness, had glowing eyes as if they were covered in blood and instead of a sword, it had countless saw-like fangs lined up inside its opened mouth.
“Dark...Beast is what I should call it, I guess.”
At a glance it looked completely different from a Dark Knight, but it did feel there was a connection with it. In other words, the spell had succeeded and she could tell that the thing in front of her was her summon, so she nicknamed it based on its appearance.
The result of Elemental Shift Summoning, was a monster that appeared to have bestial body and features that looked like a mix of a lion and tiger, and was forcibly made wear a twisted black knight’s armor.
The magic that spilled during summoning had clung to the Dark Beast’s body like blood and was faintly flickering as if it was breathing. This appearance was overly abnormal and it seemed like it could go berserk any time, but it had currently its body beside Mira and glared ahead like a hungry beast aiming for a prey.
“For now, it does seem like he will listen to orders.”
Although at first look it did not seem to possess any intelligence, Mira looked up at it and saw it listened to simple orders.
The combat between the Cockatrice and black knights did far more damage to the surroundings than it caused damage to the either side. The Cockatrice had acquired regeneration and has become tougher. On the other hand, black knights also had a limited regeneration and high avoidance ability. However, they were not equal, as black knights had superior numbers and cooperated, so they had superiority. If they continued to fight, black knights would eventually win.
However at this rate the night would come before that happened.
“Now, let’s see what kind of strength you have.”
Mira spoke to the Dark Beast and thinking it was good timing, had the three black knights fall back.
The berserking Cockatrice did not seem to be bothered by black knights suddenly moving away and had continued to rush blindly at the enemy in front.
Focusing on pure destruction it moved its large legs that were akin to large trees, it shook the earth as it ran with its huge body towards black knights in its sight. It was then, that a metallic sound and a tremor have reverberated. Following it, the Cockatrice’s hateful scream had reverberated loudly.
A black monstrous Dark Beast had slipped onto the battlefield and stopped the blow of the Cockatrice’s entire body. When the furious Cockatrice shook its head to bite the beast, the Dark Beast roared and opened its mouth filled with teeth all the way to the ears and bit back as if to rip apart the Cockatrice.
Feeling pain, the Cockatrice smacked the ground with its tail like a dragon, every time he struck it, there was thunderous sound and trembling of the earth.
(“It won’t listen to detailed orders… There might be just two options, to stay and attack.”)
Just like with Dark Knights, Mira tried giving several orders. However, her orders were ignored entirely and the Dark Beast just continued to fight. To say, its current state made it seem like it was berserk.
“Up for further verification, it seems.”
Looking away from the current situation, Mira muttered as if making an excuse.
“This...what kind of situation is this?”
“Nn? Ohh, Reinard.”
Turning towards to a voice that called out to her from the side, she saw Reinard and Joachim. The two’s expression stiffened as they looked at the fight that happened in front of them, where both sides slaughtered each other with literally no intention of defending.
“One of them looks quite different but it’s the Cockatrice. However…"
Joachim looked in the front with a bitter expression and calmly analyzed the situation.
Neither the Dark Beast nor the Cockatrice had any intention of standing down, grappling against one another they simply wrecked each other’s body. Fangs against fangs, claws against talons, a roar against a roar. Despite both being covered in blood, neither had stopped, far from that, the two’s heads were cleared of anything but anger and their fight only grew more intense.
“I summoned it and that’s how it turned out.”
Not knowing what else to say, Mira only shrugged.
The three stared at the sight in amazement. If it there was something to compare this fight to, it would be a fight of monsters in a movie made with special effects. It was at the point of the movie where birds from nearby trees escaped and all small animals finished evacuating.
“By the way, I’m not seeing Galet anywhere.”
Mira asked, forcibly changing the topic.
“We asked him to deal with monster corpses. Normally I do the burning of corpses, but he said “I will take care of it, please go to Mira-sama’s support". Certainly, it was normal to worry when the opponent was as powerful as Cockatrice. Still, it appears like you are in no need of help.”
Joachim answered while watching the battle of two kaijūs with a distant look in his eyes. That moment, on the other side of the battlefield appeared a stream of red light.
(“That Galet, he’s not worried about me at all.”)
The flaring and wavering light was a flame pillar, Mira imagined Galet’s appearance standing behind the cannon with a smile even brighter than the flames.
After a while, the disposal of corpses must have ended as the pillar of flames weakened and disappeared.
At the same time, a different kind of red burst towards the sky. Following that, sounded a scream as if something was torn apart, different from the intimidating roars from up until now.
It was a voice that came out of the Cockatrice’s throat and the red thing dancing in the air was its blood. From the looks of it, the Cockatrice lost one of its wings at the root, it was from there that the blood splattered..
Reinard muttered unconsciously. Staring at the Dark Beast that fought against the Cockatrice, which had grown even more ferocious, he revised his view of both Summoning and its possibilities, as well as Mira’s.
The Dark Beast, released something from its mouth as if spitting. A large amount of blood was dripping from its mouth. The thing that fell on the ground, was Cockatrice’s bitten off wing. The wing was so beat up it looked miserable, being the proof of just how intense the fight was.
However, the Cockatrice did not stop because of that. The will to fight as well as madness did not disappear from its eye. It attacked the Dark Beast by swinging its remaining wing. That moment, its body swayed as if pulled by the wing it swung. Due to its immense size, the Cockatrice was unable to maintain balance without one of wings and was unable to control its own explosive power.
The Dark Beast did not miss that. The moment the Cockatrice’s large body tilted, the Dark Beast put four limbs on the ground and opened mouth as if to roar. That moment, a sharp light started to leak from its throat.
“This magic power is…"
Sensing the enormous magic power gathering inside the Dark Beast’s mouth, Joachim opened his eyes wide.
Immediately after, right before the aim was set, the Cockatrice turned its body around and swung its thick tail, smashing it into the side of the Dark Beast’s head.
A heavy impact sounded and the Dark Beast’s body swayed. However, it was not stopped by just that. At almost the same time it received the blow, the Dark Beast released the ray of light.
After a bright flash, the air trembled fiercely and a roaring sound could be heard. However, it did not hit the Cockatrice directly. The Cockatrice’s tail forcibly moved the Dark Beast’s head and caused for the ray’s aim to move. After missing greatly, the ray crept over the ground and gouging earth it split the forest. Furthermore, flames spilled from the place it gouged a hole in ground.
The sight spreading in front seemed like an act from the apocalypse, the dust thrown in the air along with a rumble was like a castle wall, making not only Reinard and Joachim, but also Mira stand stock still and look at it with a distant look in their eyes.
Ignoring the three, the combat continued. As if fighting over space, two roars bellowed at each other, filling the surroundings. But then, suddenly, one side had disappeared.
It was the Cockatrice’s voice that disappeared. The enormous magic beast fell on the ground along with a heavy sound. From the looks of it, its left leg was completely burned down below the knee. Although it looked like it had avoided the ray, the ray managed to lightly graze the Cockatrice’s leg.
“Looks like the fight is decided.”
Even despite lying on its side, the Cockatrice glared sharply with its eye, but after losing one wing and one leg there was no way it could fight against the opponent that was equal to it up until now. Seeing that, Reinard made a relieved expression.
All that was left was for the Dark Beast to swing down a claw or bite down the writhing Cockatrice to finish it.
However, the next moment the three’s spine froze. The Dark Beast braced itself on all four limbs and opened its mouth wide.
“This magic power, does it intend to fire the attack from earlier?!”
After witnessing the horrible spectacle earlier, Joachim asked in panic. But Mira immediately looked away and faltered. Although she tried multiple times, the Dark Beast did not listen to Mira’s detailed orders. In other words, its current actions were completely based on its own judgement.
“Hey...it looks worse than the one earlier.”
Heeding Reinard’s words, she looked back at the Dark Beast. Possibly because it had time to spare, the amount of magic power that gathered had already surpassed the one from earlier and was still gathering. Proportionally to that, the light leaking from its mouth started to shine like a blade. It was as if the Dark Beast was holding a sun inside its mouth and which risked exploding at any time.
The first ray was fired after two, three seconds since taking this pose. However, this time ten seconds already passed. It was unknown just how powerful it became after gathering this much magic power.
The image of their entire surroundings turning into scorched earth had passed through Mira’s mind for an instant. It was not an exaggeration, and Joachim pictured similar image in his mind based on the amount of converged magic power.
Next moment, a magic circle appeared beneath the Dark Beast’s feet. Same as when it was summoned, it released a noxious shine, but this time it pulled the black beast in. Mira instantly released the summon and dismissed the Dark Beast.
The pulsating magic circle swallowing the Dark Beast looked like a gate of hell, and the sight made the three lose their breath as they watched.
As it was dismissed, the Dark Beast still retained the will to fight in its eyes turned towards the Cockatrice. And when its entire body aside from its head submerged in the magic circle, suddenly the shine in its mouth grew more intense.
Right after she responded, Mira instructed one of the black knights that was on standby.
As ordered, the black knight rushed like a gale and hit the Dark Beast’s head to turn it upwards. At the same time, a flash clad in vivid light surged into the sky.
Once the condensed magic power pierced the sky, it eventually dispersed and started to fall as particles of light. By then, the culprit that was the Dark Beast had disappeared without a trace, dismissed completely.
When everyone was finally relieved, suddenly the Cockatrice entered the three’s sight. It groaned and forced itself to stand up with the leg that had the wound closed. Roaring like mad, the Cockatrice displayed overwhelming madness despite losing a wing and a leg.
“It might be wounded but we can’t let our guard down.”
Seeing the Cockatrice’s intensity, Reinard and Joachim focused again and poised themselves to stand against it.
“Stand back. I was the one who undertook this guy.”
Mira stopped the two with her hand and turned her sight towards the Cockatrice. Then suddenly, about twenty black knights suddenly appeared to surround it in an instant.
Seeing the group of black knights suddenly appear, both Reinard and Joachim made astonished expressions. Not only Summoners who were dispatched to military, but even the Elder substitute Cleos was unable to summon this many black knights in an instant and at the same time.
At loss of words, they understood what did the title of Sage’s disciple mean, and how little they knew about her. Meanwhile, everything had concluded.
Although even wounded the Cockatrice was superior in strength, it was unable to bear the violence of numbers it faced and fell over once again. Then, no longer having any way of resisting, its entire body was exposed to slashes that outpaced its regeneration speed. Blood flowed from multiple places on its body and dyed earth dark red.
The scene at a first glance looked like a squirming black hill, was something like a group execution.
The rain of light that the Dark Beast had left over must have had quite a large amount of magic power in it, as it continued to fall even now. Once they turned around, they saw the particles of light dance in the flower field, and when it was touched by wind, they sparkled like an angel’s smile.
Standing between the heaven and hell, Reinard and Joachim decided to turn in heaven's direction.
The magic beast Cockatrice was safely subjugated by the group of black knights. When Joachim who dealt with the remnants had used wizardry and was burning the Cockatrice and the Lesser Demon corpses, Galet joined them with a clearly disappointed expression.
And like this, the party that completed the mission laughed brightly like nothing happened as they entered the road back.
It was about the evening time. Mira was having a late snack in Arkite Castle’s office by the way of giving a report. As for Solomon, he was reading through the report Joachim had written on the way back and also interjected on Mira’s own report.
“Lesser Demon cursing a Cockatrice. Certainly, within these thirty years I haven’t heard of anything like that. Rather, it’s been ten years since the last time Lesser Demons appeared.”
“Is that so. What was that, I wonder? I thought it would disperse, but there came the plot twist.”
“Well, thanks for your hard work.”
The past and now, between those two there were countless large differences. While for Mira some things might be new, they could be well-known facts in this world. However, the grudge cursing a living being was something Solomon heard of for the first time.
“Lesser Demons, huh. I wonder where do they come from.”
Placing the report he finished reading on the desk, Solomon muttered in thought.
“I wonder myself, too. Nothing good ever comes out when they are related, mm.”
“Right? In any case, we need to find where they come from before it turns into something weird.”
“Hmm, where they come from, huh.”
Heaving a sigh Solomon reseated himself deep in the chair, and Mira too, leaned strongly on the sofa as she groaned in thought. Back when it was a game, Lesser Demons only appeared during some quests. Most of quests related to them ended with a bad end.
While trying to recall their source in the past, Mira stuffed her cheeks with cookie snacks.
And when she poured tea inside her mouth full of cookies, a certain person’s image appeared in her head.
“Oh right, what was that man’s name again…?”
“Nn, you mean who?”
Although she recalled the person she did not remember the name and furrowed her eyebrows as it was on the tip of her tongue. Seeing Mira have as hard time remembering names as always, Solomon felt nostalgic as he asked back.
“Come on, the guy who chased around after Lesser Demons while holding large amounts of holy water, the NPC devil researcher guy.”
“Aahhh, you mean Howard.”
“That’s right, that one!”
When Solomon spoke the name she forgot, Mira pointed her finger holding half-eaten cookie at him and nodded confirming it was correct.
“Hmm, but didn’t he die already? When he first appeared he was already quite old, after all.”
Howard, a man who researched everything about devils. He was an aloof old guy who treated people to medicinal tea poured with holy water.
“Is that so. I thought he might know something, mm.”
Hearing that fact Mira lost her momentum but her hand carrying cookies to her mouth did not stop. Then suddenly, another idea came to her head.
“If he’s gone, then how about that. There’s the mirror that lets you talk with the dead.”
“Ahh, the Dark Aid’s Mirror. But to speak with the target that thing requires some kind of strong connection or an item belonging to deceased that had a sliver of their thoughts in them.”
“Hmm-mm, is that so.”
She could not say that doing a quest together was a strong connection, and they had nothing of his. Mira sulkily sipped some tea and allowed her gaze to wander dazedly.
“Speaking of which, there was a quest where a mirror was cursed.”
“There was. If I’m not wrong, you met Howard in the middle of it.”
“Yeah, that. He suddenly poured holy water on me.”
With the Dark Aid’s Mirror as the keyword, Solomon started to recall the nostalgic age. The two continued to have fun for a while, talking about memories.
Suddenly Solomon had recalled something and raised his voice, to which Mira responded with “What happened?”.
“Luminaria’s entrance interrupted our talk, right, about you searching the rest.”
“Speaking of which, we did talk about something like that.”
Who, and how to look for them. When they were about to speak about it, Luminaria had suddenly entered the office. Recalling that, Mira poured tea from the pot, took off her boots and extended her legs on the sofa in preparation for a long battle.
“So, I’m fine with looking for them, but do you know where are they? We can’t catch them without a clue.”
Just as Mira said, the Nine Sages were a gathering of oddballs. Most likely, they just wander around whimsically. Their location was something only they themselves knew.
She was told to find them, but how was she even supposed to search a bunch vagabonds? While tilting the tea cup, Mira made an excuse that she has yet to get used to this reality, leaving everything to Solomon.
“The Dark Aid’s Mirror. When you mentioned I recalled something, you remember where the mirror was, right? There’s one guy’s location that can be predicted.”
Told so, Mira started thinking, She recalled that the Dark Aid’s Mirror was in the underground of some temple, and a certain person’s image passed by her head.
“I see, you mean Soul Howl, right.”
“Soul Howl the Great Wall" was the Elder of the Tower of Necromancy, a guy who loved undead girls to abnormal extent.
Inside a dungeon called by players “underground cemetery”, the “Ancient Temple Nevrapolis", there is the Dark Aid’s Mirror. In the past when they adventured there, Soul Howl called that place a paradise. That dungeon filled with large number of undead monsters was truly a holy land to him.
If he was online but not in the tower, it was a potential location worth checking for Soul Howl.
“And while you go, you might as well see if you can talk to Howard as you search it, there is nothing to lose.”
“Hmm, then maybe I should bring lots of Holy Water with me.”
“Good idea, in a way, that’s an item that represents him.”
The two said and laughed to each other. It was something a normal person would not understand, a point only players found funny.
“Still, the underground cemetery is quite far, mm. It would be another thing if I could use the flying island though.”
“That’s something that you...no, I’ll give you full support. With that said, it’s a top secret mission so we can’t use Long-Distance Carriage or a Housing Carriage.”
Solomon tried to say something, but stopped and continued, saying that he will not spare support. Allowing her to realize it herself sounded more fun. In his heart, Solomon’s wished for Mira to enjoy the world he already lived in for thirty years.
“Long-Distance Carriage? Housing carriage? What are these?”
“Ahh, the Long-Distance Carriage is the carriage you were riding on the way here. It was quite fast, right? It uses spell braces to decrease the burden on horses to the limit, you see. They are our country’s fastest carriages.”
Saying so pridefully, Solomon puffed up his chest with a smile.
“It was certainly fast, hmm. Not as fast as flying islands, however.”
“It’s better if you forget about that cheat item. I can tell now, but that was against rules.”
Solomon was correct calling it a cheat considering that Flying Continents were moving as fast as planes.
Even the armored jeep which was the crystallization of magic engineering could even remotely compare. And the jeep was so inefficient when it came to fuel, that it used Magic-Sealing Stones like they were water. Therefore, carriages were used as main method of travel and transport in this world.
“Housing Carriage is not as fast as long-distance one, but we put effort into adding residence space inside it. Simply speaking, it’s a carriage version of a camping car.”
“Hooh, that sounds nice.”
While sipping tea, Mira imagined herself lying in bed, sipping Apple au Lait and watching the scenery outside move while the carriage gently pressed forward.
“By all means I would love to ride on that Housing Carriage.”
“Well, I’ll let you someday.”
“Ehh, you’re so stingy. You could let me ride it at least to the underground cemetery.”
“I wish I could do that, but like I said earlier, this is a top secret mission. Long-Distance Carriage and Housing Carriage are both specially made. They are used for things that involve the country, welcoming royalty and such. Most likely whenever you go with it, you will gather lots of attention.”
"...I’d rather pass on that.”
“Right? Well, I will prepare a normal carriage for you.”
“Mm-hm, got it.”
Mira nodded and threw a cookie in her mouth.
But next instant, the office’s door opened with a strong momentum surprising her and making her choke a little.
“Mission - complete!”
The one who appeared along with the voice, was Luminaria whose burning-red hair fluttered as she struck a pose. Glaring at her with with annoyance, Mira sipped some tea.
Solomon raised one hand and said words of appreciation, then lowered his gaze back at the map on top of the desk to reconfirm the remaining four locations where monster herds appeared. The reports of mission completion had yet to come from these places and combat still continued. However, that was not a problem. If anything, Mira and Luminaria were just too fast.
“Oh, you’re already back. And here I thought I’d be first.”
When Luminaria closed the door and raised her voice when she saw Mira sip tea with tears in her eyes.
“It was close. If you came an hour earlier you would win.”
“An hour, ehh. That’s just the difference in transport.”
As she sat down on the edge of the office desk, Luminaria did not seem as disappointed as she tried to look.
“You were driving the armored jeep, right? How was it?”
She made a clearly knowing expression as she asked. Mira drank up all of tea from the cup and stared at Luminaria’s face hatefully.
“You need to ask? The lack of seatbelts is a clear defect. Also, you need to send Galet on a driving course.”
Mira threw her gaze at Solomon while saying this half-jokingly, but half dead-serious.
“Right? See, I told you. You need to put seatbelts in.”
“Hmm, all right. I’ll think of it.”
Solomon nodded with a reluctant expression and from the office desk’s drawer he pulled out a camouflage-patterned helmet.
“And here I thought a tank helmet would be more interesting.”
He muttered and put on the tank helmet, and while he sulked, he also looked somewhat proud.
“By the way, about that.”
Starting another topic like that, Solomon pulled out a piece of paper from documents on top of the desk and like a child pestering parents for things, he drew close to Mira.
“I want a fair number of Energy-Refined Stones and Magic-Sealing Stones for even better usage of armored jeep and for Accord Cannon’s experiments. I have all needed materials prepared!”
He said and on the paper he extended, written in detail were the types and numbers required. Solomon’s expression was very lively because aside from national interest, magic engineering also involved his own hobbies.
“Mm-hm. That’s quite a lot. So, what kind of grade of Magic-Sealing Stones do you need?”
Mira said after glancing at the piece of paper she received, making Solomon make an even more sparkling smile.
“The higher rank the better, but numbers are most important. Ah, but it would be good if we had about five of Grade 3.”
The rank of Magic-Sealing Stones corresponded to the extent of power that had been inserted into them. Grade 1 was the highest grade and Grade 7 was the lowest. Because the limit depended on the materials, and Grade 1 Magic-Sealing Stones’ base materials were quite scarce.
“Well, I don’t mind. But in such case it would be faster to go back to the tower. If it’s Energy-Refined Stones, then I had left more than I could possibly use in the storage. I also had a fair amount of Energy-Refined Crystals and Energy-Refined Magic Crystals, as well as Magic-Sealing Stones stored away.”
“As expected of you. If you came back earlier, the Type-10 might have become reality already.”
The production of Magic-Sealing Stones deeply influenced the advancement of magic engineering. What Solomon said was not an exaggeration and if he had the stock of energy-refined goods from Energy-Refining techniques’ creator they would have been one or two stages further.
“If you needed them, then you should have just asked Mariana. Even if I’m not here, Mariana can still enter the storage, after all. I left all item management to her.”
In order to enter the storage that is inside the Elder’s personal quarters it was necessary to enter the apartment first, but the only ones who could enter it were that tower’s Elder and aide.
“Actually...you see. There was this one time, we did ask her if there are Energy-Refined Stones and Magic-Sealing Stones in the storage, and if we could have a few.”
Solomon said with a bitter smile, then turned around with a twirl and sat down on the sofa.
“Is that so. So what, did you use them all up?”
“Ahhh...well, see. She wouldn’t listen at all. Even if it was me she wouldn’t give away a single thing of yours. You will definitely come back, so her duty is to protect the place so that you aren’t inconvenienced once you return. ...When she said this in tears, I just couldn’t order her to do it.”
“Yeah, I was there back then too, but seeing that stubbornness it felt like she intended to protect it with her life.”
“Is that so…"
Hearing the two’s words, Mira once again thought of Mariana who had been waiting for a long time for Mira’s return.
(“At the very least, I should tell Mariana.”)
The image of the girl with sapphire-like pretty hair casting her eyes down had passed through Mira’s head. Most likely the only who could make her raise those eyes was Mira herself. Leaving a girl crying like that, was far from Mira’s image of an ideal man. After realizing this, Mira resolved herself to reveal she was Danbulf to Mariana the next time they meet. She had engraved this in her heart as something far more important than the temporary shame.
“Well, that’s how it is. What’s in the storage I leave for your judgement. For the time being, the amount I mentioned earlier is enough. I’ll guide you to the Energy-Refining room later.”
“Mm-hm. Then I’ll make them before sleeping.”
“That line, if this place’s Energy-Refining technicians heard it, they’d faint on spot.”
Luminaria who was sitting on top of the desk supported her body with her both hands and twisted her upper body to the side, before speaking with a really happy expression. The Energy-Refining technicians in the castle was constantly busy with work, be it day or night. If such people saw Mira’s speed at Energy-Refining, it was possible they could fall into a state beyond recovery.
"...I’ll have materials and Energy-Refining Board carried in to your bedroom.”
Imagining that sight, Solomon asked Mira to do Energy-Refining alone in secret, to which she responded with “I don’t mind." and put the tea cup on the table.
“Still, you know. It might be better if you turned self-sufficient, right?”
“Well, that would be for the best, but it seems like they are having hard time improving their technique, and the production barely keeps up. Do you have some good method maybe?”
Solomon looked at Mira with expectation filling his eyes.
“Well, depends on their efforts. Got some paper and a pen?”
“Yup, um. Here.”
He picked up a fountain pen from on top of the desk, and from a shelf of the desk he took out a sheet of parchment, then passed those to Mira.
“Wait a moment.”
She took those and spread them on top of the table, then started to draw symbols and letters on the parchment.
“Well, it’d be something like this. Show it to those Energy-Refining technicians of yours later.”
“Hmmm. What’s this, I can’t understand a single thing of it.”
Snatching away the parchment from Mira, Luminaria scowled upon seeing the figures and symbols drawn there. Then she quickly raised a white flag and pushed the parchment onto Solomon.
“This is...hmm. I can tell it’s related to Energy-Refining, but that’s all. I have to show it to them, right? Understood.”
“Mm-hm, take care of it.”
The figures and symbols that Mira wrote down on the parchment were a composition of a new Energy-Refining Board that she had been considering and researching for a while already. She drew it hastily so she abbreviated details and wrote some special notes on the margins instead.
No one in this moment would even imagine that this parchment would eventually have a large role in causing a rapid advancement of magic engineering.
“Noow then, about the search. I arranged a carriage for you so you can head out to underground cemetery tomorrow morning.”
Said Solomon, took off his tank helmet and put it carefully back inside the drawer.
“That’s fast, hmm? I was thinking of resting a few days.”
Mira stretched grandly, using her entire body to appeal she’s tired.
“Really? Then will you stay here for a little longer? I was thinking for your sake when I quickly prepared it, however.”
“For my sake, you say?”
She cast a suspicious stare at Solomon, unable to find any reason why would it be good for her to leave as soon as possible.
“Yup. But you remaining here for a while would definitely make our maids happy, though to you that would not turn out too happily.”
“What’s that? What do you mean?”
“See, I heard from the chief maid. Seeing your robe made inspiration gush forth inside them or something, and now all maids have mobilized to make your clothes.”
First Solomon made a very amused smile, next Luminaria started to grin and said “good for you" then laughed.
“Tomorrow, I depart at daybreak.”
“Heheheh. All right, I’ll pass it on.”
There was no way clothes made after receiving inspiration from that wannabe mahou shoujo outfit would be anything decent. Mira decided to escape as quickly as possible.
“They must have really strange tastes…"
Mira said, astounded from the bottom of her heart and stood up.
“Behind that door.”
When she asked, Solomon pointed at a small door in the corner of the office.
“I’ll borrow it.”
With that said she hurried to open the door and enter the room ahead. On top of the table there was the emptied tea pot and several remaining cookies.
“Looks like when you’re a king, you even get a toilet that looks like hundred thousand.”
Once she returned from the restroom after a while, Mira briskly said a very plebeian line. That moment, she was instantly captured by Luminaria who had a refreshing smile on her face.
“Then next, let’s go to the bath that looks like a million.”
And carried under Luminaria’s arm, Mira was taken to the great bath.
Once she came out of the bath, Mira, Solomon and Luminaria had a dinner together. After which they moved back to the office to chat as friends, having fun until late.
Eventually, when Solomon’s military lectures started to rear its head, Mira let out a soft yawn.
“Oh, it’s already this late.”
Seeing Mira get sleepy, Luminaria confirmed current time. It was nearly time for the date to change.
“Time sure flies fast.”
Mira also checked time the same way, sipped some of the Apple au Lait she started to drink and stretched.
“Let’s call it a night then. We can continue next time.”
“Ahh, mm-hm, agreed.”
Military lectures were boring beyond anything else and Mira would forget all about it the next day, but she still carelessly nodded.
“Your bedroom is the same as yesterday, do you remember where was it?”
“Mm-hm, no problem.”
Mira stealthily left behind the Apple au Lait flask on the sofa and stood up, then walked towards the door.
“I’ll be off ahead, sorry.”
“All riiight, good night.”
“If you’re to get up early, I recommend you keep it moderate when playing with yourself and get proper sleep.”
“Don’t lump me together with you. Good night.”
After taking a look at smiling Solomon and Luminaria with her usual grin, Mira said her farewell and left the office.
About the time sun climbed up, the land near the castle started to liven up.
Partially waking up, Mira headed to the toilet unsteady on her feet still not completely awake, and relieved herself. When she returned to the room to fall on the bed, at the same time something bounced and fell on Mira’s hand.
When she tried to brush away the thing that she touched, through her slight opened eyes she recognized a pair of bunny ears and jumped off the bed. At the same time, her eyes stopped at a single piece of paper that fell under her feet.
『We prepared sleepwear, by all means, please use it. By: Maids』
A shiver like she had never felt before assaulted Mira.
Right now Mira was wearing only underwear. This was the reason for it. The bunny costume-like pajama was prepared along with that note. Naturally, Mira pretended not to see it.
What passed through her head was what she heard from Solomon about maids losing themselves in creating clothes for her. This was the first salvo. The pointlessly-fast-at-their-work maids had delivered the first glimpse of their seriousness and quality, is what this could be said to be.
In great hurry Mira opened menu to check current time. Displayed there, was the time of 8:40 in the morning.
It could be said that she was completely late to leave.
As only unpleasant things started to appear in her imagination, she put her guard up and started seeking a move that could be the solution. However, it had been forcibly interrupted by quiet knocking on the bedroom’s door.
“Mira-sama, good morning. I have brought your clothing.”
A lively woman’s voice sounded from the other side of door. Hearing that, Mira had a vision of her fate where she fails to escape.
(“She definitely has it!”)
Mira took a look around the room in hurry, but the only things that she could wear instead were the bunny pajama and the cutely one piece dress she was made wear after getting out of the bath. Although she sought a way to overcome the deadlock, the sign of the limit had come.
“I can’t hear an answer. I wonder if she is still sleeping. Breakfast will get cold at this rate, it appears that I need to wake her up myself. Yes, I have to do it.”
After some monotone acting, the bedroom’s door opened.
The first that the maid saw, was Mira’s small butt.
Falling into a slight state of panic, Mira had for some reason leaped headlong at the bed. That was all. She buried her head in the sand, almost literally.
“Miiiraaa-saaamaaa. Good morning.”
Running up in a trot, the maid raised the high-quality duvet and seeing Mira’s wry smile, smiling, she once again said her morning greeting.
“M...mm-hm. Good morning.”
“My name is Lily, from now on I shall be the attendant maid taking care of you, Mira-sama. Let’s get along.”
While embarrassed of her overly absurd actions, Mira held her head in her hands in anguish at the sight of an actual mahou shoujo-type clothing that Lily was holding in her hands.
Using white and black colors as base, it was goth loli-like clothing with a small amount of fabric. It had a white sleeveless one piece with a black flare skirt, as well as a coat with open front, completing the entire outfit. Mira’s will was almost completely ignored and she was turned into a cutely decorated mahou shoujo Mira. Frills and ribbons on her were more conspicuous than ever.
The only thing she was granted, was sparing her from lacy panties and allowing her to wear plain ones like the ones she was already wearing..
After her clothes change finished, Mira was compulsorily brought to one of the rooms in the maid compartment, the only area in the castle where men were banned from entering, and was surrounded by countless maids.
“Here, Mira-sama. Please raise your hands.”
Told so by Lily who held a measure in her hands, Mira raised her both arms. Her eyes had already lost sanity and she has become a mere puppet who listened to all orders.
She was currently in the middle of having her breast size measured. Although pants could be flexibly adapted, a bra had to be properly chosen to size otherwise problems would arise. Lily emphasized this strongly in her persuasion, making Mira give up and mutter “Do as you like…", resulting in this.
With that said, Mira herself did not do any intense exercises these few days so the problems did not surface yet, but she did feel several times for the robe to rub against them. She was half-intimidated not just by Lily, but also other maids saying that if this continued, it would eventually start to hurt intensely, but she had already given up..
“What a wonderful shape. I’m so envious…"
After roughly finishing measurements, Lily moved behind Mira and enveloped her twin bulges with her hands to measure them more precisely.
(“How long is this torture going to continue…")
Against Mira’s will who was there in the body, but not in the spirit, Lily learned her breast size up to details and gave instructions to others. Promptly after, another maid brought a perfectly fitting bra.
“How is it? Mira-sama. Does it hurt or feel hard to breathe?”
“Mm-hmm. I can’t calm down in this.”
“That is all right. Everyone feels like that at first.”
After it was prepared and put on, Mira felt a very slight pressure on her chest and at the same time, she heaved a sigh at the sight of herself.
Maids took care of the important guest who was very indifferent when it came to clothing. Although it did look like they were joyful and had fun time, they were still professionals so both their skill and their cooperation was perfect.
In a brief moment maids measured not only Mira’s breasts but the entire body and grew enthusiastic about finishing even more perfect costu...clothing than the current one, which they based on eye measurements. Mira had yet to realize that the next time she appears in the castle will be the crucial moment.
Seen off by maids, Mira was guided by Lily to the dining hall to have breakfast. She had bread and soup, salad and fruit juice, a very light meal that appeared conscious about balance.
In the corner of the dining a mahou shoujo happily sipped fruit juice. Watching that was a gently-looking granny from the dining hall and Lily with a broken smile. Because the outfit fit her more than expected, the gazes from surroundings naturally gathered on her.
Once Mira finished drinking her fruit juice and raised face she realized that all gazes were focused on her.
(“What…? Am I being looked at?”)
While in flustered state, Mira showed off her wariness by nervously taking glances around, but that only further agitated the desire to protect in women. In fact, Mira’s behavior reminded Lily of a little animal and made her squirm.
Still, to Mira who was not used to people’s stares this was nothing but being conspicuous, and in a bad way too.
After leaving the dining hall Mira was soothed by Lily and guided to the office.
“Solomon-sama, I brought Mira-sama.”
Lily knocked on the door and called out.
“All right, come in.”
After hearing an answer Lily opened the door and bowed. Once Mira entered inside, she closed the door and remained on stand-by outside.
“Hey, good morning.”
“Mm-hm, good morning.”
Mira returned the greeting and tired from the bottom of her heart, fell on the sofa. Seeing the girl’s outfit Solomon hid his mouth with a hand and his shoulders trembled. She glared at the boy sharply.
“Did you sleep well?”
“Mhm. Just enough to fail in escaping from those damn maids.”
When she responded sulkily, Solomon leaked some laughter.
“It looks good on you. As expected of our castle’s maids.”
“There would be no problems with a simple robe, however.”
Mira held the hem of the skirt and smiled wryly as she fluttered it. In fact, it was hard to think that this quality was achieved within just one, two days.
“That aside, it looks like you made what I asked you to last night.”
“Mm-hm. Oh, now that you mention it, I forgot them in the room.”
Mira recalled when was told so. Last night when she returned to the bedroom she found Energy-Refining materials and board which she used to quickly finish requested work.
“A maid delivered it to me after you left the room. With this we will be able to have some meaningful experiments for a while. Thanks.”
“I don’t mind this much.”
She responded as if it was natural and feeling slightly bothered by the unfamiliar sensation at her chest she leaned on the sofa’s back.
“Oh, right. I should give this to you while I still remember.”
While saying so, Solomon threw a bag towards Mira. From the inside of the bag came out a jingly metallic sound.
“Hmm, what is this?”
Mira asked while shaking the bag to make it jingle.
“It’s money, your mission funding from now on.”
“What, something like that? If it’s money, then I have enough not to be troubled anyhow.”
“Oh, really? Did you have it stored in the tower?”
“What are you saying. I have them on han…"
Said Mira and attempted to take out money, but her movements stopped. She attempted to take out 100 Riffs just like she did back when it was a game, but it did not come out. By the way, Riffs were the currency in this world.
“Ah, you noticed? Can it be you didn’t notice until now?”
Solomon smiled mischievously.
In a hurry she opened the status window to check the amount of money she possessed, but the rubric that originally displayed it there was completely gone. A shiver ran through Mira’s brain.
"Where did my money go…"
“It’s the same as with the Flying Continent. Probably swallowed by the waves of the electronic world and disappeared. According to multiple opinions, money weren’t items so they did not enter item box. In other words, they were a separate category. Up until now they were managed by the game system, but now that it is no longer a game, the system no longer works. Well, that’s how it is.”
“What a thing...my...my two millions…"
Half-ignoring Solomon’s explanation, Mira fell on the sofa.
“You saved up quite a bit, haven’t you...well back then I felt the same…"
The two who had their hearts gouged by the Flying Continent issue had once again fell silent for a moment as they looked towards the sky.
“And so, you need to have actual money on you to use it. Well, I’m giving it to you as something like a reward for yesterday. In any case, there’s 100,000 Riffs inside, make do with them well. You’re great at that kind of thing, right?”
Inside the bag that Mira received there were multiple different coins. One gold coin, three mithril coins, three silver coins, four cobalt coins and ten copper coins. The worth of one of each of these coins was, 50,000 for gold, 10,000 for mithril, 5,000 for silver, 1,000 for cobalt and 100 for copper.
“Ten thousand...ten thousand, huh…"
“Ah, c’mon, just forget it. If it’s you, then you’ll have no problems earning it again. I already forgot about mine, I really did…"
Thanks to the game’s system it was impossible to steal money from each other and the death penalty only applied to item box and did not apply to money. Which is why there was no need to store money separately. Which had completely backfired on them this time.
“Now then, I recalled something after saying it myself, but, did you use the item box already?”
Revived, Solomon recalled another change in comparison to the game world from thirty years ago.
“Multiple times, what about it?”
“Based on your reaction, it seems you haven’t noticed.”
He said and picking up the fountain pen from the desk he threw it to Mira. She caught the pen that drew an arc and raised it up to her eyes.
From the looks of it it was a normal fountain pen. Still, considering that the king was using it, it must have been an item made with high-class workmanship.
“What’s about this?”
“Try putting it inside your item box.”
What, something like that? Mira thought and after bringing out the item box she tried to put the pen inside it. However, contrary to her expectations, it passed right through the item box.
“Nhm, what is this?”
After staring at the pen as it lied on the ground, Mira fixed her sight on the item box. There was space inside and there appeared to be no problems with it. Not understanding what is happening, Mira turned her sight towards Solomon.
“I said earlier that it was the system that took care of money management, right? It looks like items themselves were also managed by that system as well.”
Solomon stood up and picked up the fountain pen, then opened his own item box.
“Back when it was a game, fountain and feather pens were in Miscellaneous, swords and armor were in Armament, gems and metals were in Material categories, right?”
While saying so, Solomon took out a familiar sword and showed it to Mira.
“A while after the game turned real, a group of players had gathered to create a research facility where they would attempt to clarify the laws behind this world. There, they investigated and experimented in many ways and found that back when this was a game, items were automatically separated into different categories. And as item box’s name suggests, only things that are categorized as items can be put inside.”
Continuing to talk, Solomon took out a single book from the shelf and held it over Mira’s head.
“Now that the game’s system is not working, this fountain pen isn’t a miscellaneous item and this book isn’t a document item. In other words, they can’t be put inside the item box. By the way, the items that are inside your item box now have already been categorized so there’s no problem.”
He said and put back the sword he pulled out back inside the item box.
“That’s really inconvenient. In which case, does this mean I can’t travel with hands free?”
Mira cried out hearing the truth about it. She was about to go on a travel to find a bunch of problem people, she would definitely need to carry bulky supplies with her.
“But you see, about half a year after we became unable to use the item box, a revolutionary method has been developed.”
“Hooh...and that is?”
As Solomon put on airs and delayed the answer, Mira turned her stare at him to hurry him up.
“They key point is we just need to do by ourselves what used to be done by the system. And so, what the researchers developed was 【Abstract Magic: Itemization】. When you use this spell on an item, you put the item in a category and can put it inside the item box.”
“In other words, as long as I have that spell I can put things in the item box.”
“Exactly. It’s simple, so I’ll teach you now.”
“Mm-hm, I leave it to you.”
After taking a document from the shelf, Solomon expanded it on the table in front of Mira. Written inside, there were details on the procedure of acquiring the spell, so she got to it right away.
Thirty minutes later, having acquired the itemization spell without any problems, she used it on the fountain pen, then confirmed it entered the item box and nodded with satisfaction.
After that Mira tried out itemization on several other things before returning to the sofa to catch a breath.
“Also, about the underground cemetery. Unlike it used to be, all dungeons are now managed by the Adventurers’ Joint Union.”
Solomon moved onto the topic of the mission he gave to Mira.
“Joint Union? What’s that?”
Mira asked in response while taking out the things Mira randomly put inside the item box.
“It’s an organisation created when the game turned into reality, so that civilians and people without sufficient level of strength can’t enter dungeons to lose their lives.”
“Hooh...even a thing like that was made. But isn’t that just because they want to monopolize treasures?”
"There was an incident in the past, you see. ...A child disappeared.”
“Mm-hm, I see…"
Hearing Solomon lower the tone of his voice, Mira was somewhat convinced.
Dungeons was a name for all kinds of fields that spread out on the inside. Inside them slept treasures, but compared to the fields on the outside, far stronger of monsters and wild animals were going rampant inside so they were very dangerous places. And yet, they were still attractive enough for people to enter them with various purposes, who then would fell to the darkness and never return under the light of the sun.
Back when it was a game no one was bothered with it. However, now that it turned into reality, it was an issue they could not let pass.
A child had entered a dungeon. It was to gather special flower material required to make a medicine to save his mother who was sick.
Once the night came, the child did not return so adults mobilized together. As a result, when they entered shallowly inside the dungeon, they saw the child’s corpse which had been partially eaten and hardly recognizable, in his hand he was holding a single flower. When his mother heard of this, she let out her last breath soon after as if to chase him.
The world has turned into reality. The NPCs were now living real lives and their death stimulated emotions, remained in people’s hearts.
Hearing about this incident, players have created an organization that would manage dungeons so that a tragedy like this never happened again. And that was the “Adventurers’ Joint Union".
After people started asking, “I want to enter the dungeon.” or “I want a material from inside the dungeon, can something be done?” the Adventurer’s Joint Union had become an organization that not only managed dungeons, but also mediated requests for strong people to undertake.
Eventually the organization grew enormous and under conditions of not involving themselves in disputes between countries, as well as declaring to help in operations to clear monsters, it was allowed to create branches in various countries.
“And so, naturally you will join the Spellcasters’ Union, right? Here’s a recommendation letter.”
Solomon passed walked up to Mira with an envelope then passed it to her with a smile.
“What, will I be able to enter the dungeon with this?”
Receiving the recommendation letter she raised it up to look at it, then immediately used itemization spell and threw it inside the item box. The recommendation letter was treated as a document item.
“No, that’s really just a recommendation letter. The only ones who can enter the dungeon are union-affiliated adventurers. Also, every dungeon has its appropriate rank and to enter the underground cemetery it’s necessary to be C-rank or higher, was it. As for the rank, you need to complete various requests at the union to have your strength acknowledged and your rank raised. Simply put, it’s something like an adventurer’s guild. If anything, the more surprising is the fact that there was no such basic system out there when it was still a game.”
“That’s true. Raising your rank to undertake more difficult tasks. Those kind of games were quite fun.”
With the appearance of a slightly-game like factor, Mira grew a little more lively.
“This recommendation is a guarantee of your identity and your strength. Normally a newly registered member would start from a G-rank, with this you should be able to start from C-rank. By the way, this is the most even I, a king, can do when it comes to influencing the union’s management.”
“I see. Well, I guess it’s enough.”
Once she finished sorting her item box, Mira put all the items she used for experimenting on the edge of the table.
“By the way, the union has two points of contact. One of them being Warriors’ Union and the other Spellcasters’ Union. Well, like the name suggests, the mediation they offer is different.”
“Mm-hm. So, is there a branch of that union in this city? I need to go and register right away.”
“Yup, there is one. Or rather, there is one in most cities. There’s also one in the city you are supposed to go to, where the underground cemetery is. Although, it takes an entire day since registration until you receive your adventurer’s license.”
There, Solomon smiled meaningfully. Seeing that expression of his, Mira felt a touch of anxiety.
“Is that so? Then I might as well stay another nigh…"
That moment, the disaster from this morning had passed through Mira’s mind. It was unknown what other kind of result of their hard work would they bring if they were given one more day worth of time. Understanding Solomon’s intention, Mira started to think of a plan.
Spending a night at an inn in the city. However, she would have to come back to the castle to get on carriage so there was a high possibility of getting captured. Then again, even if she had the carriage wait outside the city, it would be all for naught if there was a maid waiting there.
After pondering a lot, Mira decided that giving them a day worth time in any way, would end up being fatal, and resolved herself to quickly depart.
“Prepare the carriage right away.”
“Heh heh heh. Everything is already prepared, you can leave anytime.”
Mira swiftly stood up and together with Solomon, left the office.
Then accompanied by Lily, the two headed to the stables. There, they found two horses and a carriage a size larger than the one Mira used to come from the towers to the castle. Waiting on the side of the carriage, there was a maid holding a large basket and a bag, as well as Galet who acted as a coachman.
“Really...we do meet often.”
As she recalled Galet’s expression when he held Armored Jeep’s handle, Mira’s expression stiffened.
“Good morning, Mira-sama. Although it’s not as good as armored jeep, this carriage is also first class! I am very happy to act as a coachman for this carriage.”
Galet bowed and smiling with euphoria, he spread his arms to introduce the carriage, which at a glance, looked very ordinary.
“I don’t care about the carriage talk, just drive safely.”
When Mira made a sincere request from the bottom of her heart, to which Galet answered “of course" with a refreshing smile.
“Well then, take care.”
After shortly exchanging greetings with Solomon, Mira was hugged tightly by Lily before she got on the carriage. And then, the other maid carried the basket and the bag inside the carriage.
“Please be careful on your way, Mira-sama. In the basket there is food for you to eat during travel, and in this prepared in this bag is a change of clothes.”
“M-...mm-hm, I see. Thanks…"
After bowing, the maid got off the carriage. Mira stared at the bag unable to even imagine what was inside...no, she just did not want to imagine it, and she sighed for the nth time.
Relieved the carriage finally started to move, Mira took out Apple au Lait and put it against her mouth.
The scenery moving outside had gradually increased speed. The city seen through there had changed a fair amount compared to the past. Watching the unknown scenery in daze, Mira enjoyed the sweetness spreading in her mouth.
After seeing Mira off, Solomon started to act very busily.
Lesser Demons’ actions hidden behind monster herd advances had too many unsettling factors, which based on his experience Solomon was unable to ignore.
Furthermore, there was that flower field with the white pillar that was their destination. Although it was a location where one could gather a special herb called Angel’s Drop, but to players it mattered no more no less than that. However, with this incident, a possibility that something else had been hidden in that place has emerged.
There was a need to gather a team to investigate it, as well as gather information regarding Lesser Demons. Solomon quickly gave orders in regards to that, then looking at the sky ahead of where Mira’s carriage headed, he smiled.