Translator: Jiro Editor: Ryunakama
「Zeph-chi, everyone, I’m back!!」 Lydia said excitedly.
Several days had passed since the attack on the Town of Nanami by the black monsters, led by the bandit group.
While we were helping with the restoration of the town, Lydia appeared, having finally returned from Beruta. Both she and Silverie apparently got here by using Silverie’s Teleportation.
Originally she went back in order to check up on her father, but considering she was able to come back as soon as she was called it seems like her father was doing okay.
After I met up with them, the three of us went back to my house and sat around a table alongside the other members of the guild, Milly, Claude and Shirushu.
「Beruta was fine. Apparently not many black monsters had shown up.」 Lydia said.
「Just as I thought. The monsters here were forcefully gathered after all.」
「… What do you mean?」 Silverie asked.
To which I began to explain.
I proceeded to tell them about how the bandit group had gathered the black monsters in order to assault Nanami.
And about how the black monsters had unified into one and tried to swallow the town, as well as how we fought it back.
While also not forgetting to include our reunion with Claude.
「I’m sorry you had to come all this way.」 Claude said, lowering her head.
「… No biggie. You must have had it tough everyone. And also, welcome back Kuro-chan.」 Lydia said.
「… Thank you.」 Claude said.
After which Lydia suddenly embraced me and her together.
As our bodies collided, a whiff of something sweet tickled my nose.
「Lydia-san, i-it’s a bit hard to breathe…」
「Fufufu♪ Kuro-chan you grew out your hair didn’t you? It looks great.」
I would really love it if she could let go of us… Mom’s looking this way, and it’s frightening.
We somehow managed to pull off Lydia, who held onto us with everything she had.
「By the way, Zeph-chi, that protection barrier that you talked about, I went to check up on it before coming here.」 Lydia said.
「You sure work fast, don’t you?」 I replied.
Lydia then took a large piece of paper from her backpack and strewn it on the table.
The diagram of the protection barrier’s magic circuit was drawn on top of the paper, which I had also examined by myself during the previous few days.
I’d also put Milly in charge of writing down the data that I’d gathered.
I was able to grasp how the magic circuit’s mechanism operated by combining my data and Lydia’s data on what materials were utilized in the circuit and how they were used.
I was able to understand the magic circuit on my own, but when it came to its construction or the types of materials utilized in it, Lydia, a weapons dealer, knew a lot more.
「Still this protection barrier is pretty well made if I can say so myself.」 Lydia remarked.
「Well it’s made by collecting the Magician Association’s best techniques so that’s a given.」
Every town and its citizens were continually attacked by monsters before the Protection Barriers were formed.
Barriers, to be more accurate, had been around for a long time, but they were only deployed on key infrastructure and only activated in an emergency.
The Association significantly enhanced the barriers, allowing them to be deployed across the town to provide peace to all, and thus the Protection Barriers, as they are now known, were formed.
The Magician Association got significant achievements as a result of improving the barriers, allowing them to amass a large number of supporters and dramatically increase their influence.
The secret of the barriers is kept secret in order to retain that authority, and if it weren’t for a case like this, even their own magicians wouldn’t be able to see it.
「… So, do you think you’ll be able to use this?」 I asked.
「Hm… If I do use it, it will undoubtedly be to create a magical weapon.」 Lydia remarked.
「Well I guess that was a given.」
The procedure for making a Magic Amplifier or a Magic Supplement was the thing we wanted to learn from the Protection Barrier.
And it seemed like Lydia had understood that without me having to even say it.
Well, I suppose it’s understandable given that she’s already created a slew of magical weapons. She understands most of what I’m planning.
「But there’s the ingredients… They’re all stuff that I can’t get my hands on.」 she said.
「Hmph. Anyway, I was thinking it was about time for us to return to Prolea’s capital, so it all works out.」 I said.
We had already fulfilled Yera’s request on researching the black monsters, so it was about time we went back. And it was also almost time for the next Heavenly Mage Festival as well. We would activate the Protection Barrier and then go back to the capital.
「I need to also fix your prosthetic arm as well.」 Lydia said.
In the battle a few days ago my arm had split in two after all.
Fixing that would probably take her a lot of effort.
「I’m sorry Lydia…」
「Ahaha, don’t worry. I’m glad as long as you’re fine Zeph-chi.」 she said with a smile, patting my back.
I’m glad she’s not angry.
As I had a bitter smile on my face, my mom suddenly approached me.
「…Zeph, are you going already?」 with a sad expression on her face, she inquired.
These days had been far too active; but, after we went away, she would most likely feel lonely once more.
「…Would you like to come with us mom?」 I asked.
We did have a house back in the capital. It was big enough, so one or two more people wouldn’t make that much of a difference.
However, as soon as my mom heard me she shook her head.
「Fufu. You don’t need to worry about me.」
「I don’t want to be a burden to you Zeph. The reason you left home in the first place was not to get me into trouble, correct?」
She’s right. If she does join us on our journey, she’ll almost certainly become involved in something deadly. Apart from the others, Mom won’t be able to escape because she can’t fight. And it’s not like I can always be with her, so I guess it really is for the best if she stays here…
As I clenched my teeth, mom gently hugged me.
「I’m fine. Just getting to see you like this from time to time is enough for me… However, you can always come home from time to time you know.」
「And also, regarding your wedding…」
「WHOA! We already talked about that!」
「Fufu, have a safe trip.」 Mom waved her hand, seeing me off in the same manner as he had done before.
She never changes…
◆ ◆ ◆
「What’s wrong Milly? Are you tired already?」 I asked.
「I-I’m fine… Just stay where you are, okay?」 As sweat ran down Milly’s bright red cheeks, she said.
「Okay, okay. Don’t push yourself.」 I said, encouraging her.
After stroking her head, I proceeded to lay down.
「…Zeph-kun, Milly’s really doing her best, so don’t you think that we should help her out a bit…」 Claude looked at me and asked with a troubled face.
However, I wasn’t affected by it at all.
「It’s fine. After that battle Milly stayed at home for a couple of days recovering her magic power. She’s got lots to spare, don’t you think?」
「Zeph’s right♪ Leave everything to me! Nihihi♪」 Milly said.
Me and Claude were currently just watching as Milly poured her magic power into the protection barrier.
High levelled magicians had a large amount of magic power within their bodies. If they weren’t able to let that magic power out their stress piled up.
Milly had been itching and unable to calm down before coming here, but she now had a really relieved expression.
She must be ecstatic to be able to use her magical power for that long.
「Urgh… Haa… Haa…」 Milly panted.
Still it must be pretty tough.
Milly tried to slow down her breathing with a fatigued expression.
A long time had passed since she first began pouring magic power into the protection barrier.
She was currently drenched in sweat and her face was bright red. Despite the fact that she had a lot of magic power to begin with, she was nearing her limit.
「Milly, switch with me.」 Silverie said, as she placed her hand on Milly’s sweat covered shoulder and pulled her away from the barrier.
Good grief. So when I say it she doesn’t stop, but as long as Silverie steps in she listens to everything huh…
I grabbed Milly as she swayed left and right and placed her down.
Her chest moved up and down as she tried to calm down her breathing.
「I’m beat!」 she said.
「Kuku, your face says otherwise. You seemed to be enjoying it quite a bit.」
「Ehehe… Well I can’t deny that♪」 Milly said with a smile.
As I sat cross-legged, she turned around and placed her head on top of my feet.
Didn’t you just say you were beat?!
I glared at her with an angry gaze; however, in contrast to that Milly just smiled.
「Oh come on. Just for a bit, okay? I did my best didn’t I♪」 she said
「…I don’t mind.」
However, everyone’s gazes felt cold.
Especially Silverie’s. As she looked at us she constantly poured out a tremendous amount of magic power.
Please be careful. Last thing I want is for you to overdo it and break the barrier…
I watched Silverie pour out her magic power, with cold sweat running down my back. However, even after some time passed nothing happened, so I could relax.
Silverie poured forth her magical power at a breakneck speed before collapsing to the ground, trying to catch her breath.
She then buried her face between her legs, looking at me with a keen glance between the cracks.
Silverie, that’s scary…
「I-It seems I’m next…」 I said.
And just as I was about to stand up, unable to bear the cold stare anymore, I saw Silverie narrow her eyes even further, as if she was trying to tell me not to move.
Shirushu, with her puppy ears, timidly raised her hand from very close to me as I shrank back.
「H-How about I go?」 she asked.
「… Go ahead.」 Silverie said with a nod.
Shirushu’s magic power isn’t all that much though… Well I guess there’s no helping Shirushu when she’s like this. I’ll leave this to Shirushu.
「Ahh, I’m so tired.」 Silverie said.
And with a leased face she drew closer and laid on top of my legs, using them as a pillow.
…Could she have just been jealous of Milly for using my legs as a pillow?
「Ahaha♪ Zeph–chi it must be nice having a beauty on each side.」 Lydia said.
「Haaa… You never change, do you Zeph-kun…」 Claude continued.
As they stared at Silverie and Milly, who were both lying on my legs, they both had bitter smiles on their faces.
To make matters worse, Milly had fallen asleep before I could even notice… And Silverie was still mad at me and refused to look me in the eye.
…Haa, how did it end up like this?
Translator: Jiro Editor: Ryunakama
Following that, we took turns pouring magical power into the barrier until the Protection Barrier was fully repaired.
「… I’m all done Zeph.」 Milly said.
A dim light enveloped the whole room and the magic circuits began to work properly once more.
Their construction looked strangely beautiful.
This really is spectacular.
As I looked at the properly operating mechanism a new idea struck me.
Lydia and I both had a curious expression on our faces as we watched the magic circuit in action.
As I was focusing on engraving the way the magic power moved I heard a voice inside my head.
《Hey Zeph. It seems like you successfully put up the Protection Barrier. Could you leave the Hokora? I’m going to adjust the seal so that no one can get in.》
It was Yera.
I would have liked to study it a bit more, but I never expected that I’d get this fixed soon.
《Haha. You sound quite disappointed.》
《You on the other hand sound quite happy, Yera.》
《The Heavenly Mage Festival is drawing near after all♪ And this year it’s Urohime’s turn so how can I not be excited.》 she said.
…Really? I thought that it was the Blue Heavenly Mage’s turn this year. Maybe the order changed from what it was in my previous life…
The Soul Heavenly Mage: Urohime Tatsumigawa.
She was a foreign princess who, a few years ago, married into the Hems Family, a family known for generations of Soul Heavenly Mages.
She then began to miraculously rise up, leaving her spouse behind and assuming one of the Five Heavenly Mage titles. A true prodigy of Soul Magic.
And, because Yera was a travel aficionado, she got along swimmingly with Urohime.
《Urohime huh… Kuku, I guess I’m going to be looking forward to it as well.》
《Oh my! Are you planning on participating in the Title Match?》 Yera asked.
《You could say.》
The Heavenly Mage Festival was a once-a-year event sponsored alternately by the Five Heavenly Mages. And this year it was Urohime’s turn.
Which meant that this year the Title Match would have the Soul Heavenly Mage’s Soul of Soul title on the line.
And, as a result of returning to my country and fighting a number of high-levelled monsters, my level had increased to 88.
It wasn’t quite up to par with when I was in my prime, but it was enough to defeat a Heavenly Mage.
《I see. I’ll have you now that Urohime is not an easy foe. Do your best. Hahaha》 Yera said, laughing loudly.
《Of course. I’ll do everything I can.》 I said with a grin.
《By the way, could you leave the Hokora already? I want to completely restore the Protection Barrier.》
《…We’ll be out any minute.》
Tsch. I wanted to spectate the mechanism a bit more, but I guess time’s up.
I took everyone and we proceeded out of the Hokora. As soon as we closed the door a blinding light burst forth.
The light spread, enveloping the whole of Nanami and then disappeared.
…It seems like the barrier successfully covered the whole city. Still this timing… It feels like she was watching us the whole time. Yera really is a scary one.
「Will the town be all right now?」 Claude inquired, concerned.
I remembered what Yera had said to me the other day and recited it to her.
「According to Yera, the black monsters have begun to dwindle. At least in the North Continent that is. Furthermore, she said that a number of available Dispatch Magicians had been dispatched as well.」
… It was still difficult to declare the East Continent totally safe; a few Dispatch Magicians wouldn’t help much, but it was better than nothing.
Well if something does happen we’ll just rush over immediately.
After I took a final glance at the Hokora we left Nanami.
「So, how are we going to go back? Are we going by boat again?」 Milly asked.
「Now that you mention it…」 Lydia exclaimed, her face revealing her distress.
Come to think of it, we really don’t have a means of going back. If we are to go by boat to the North Continent, it’ll take us close to ten days.
「We might not be able to make it in time for the Heavenly Mage Festival.」
Well considering there are no other options I guess it can’t be helped.
Just as we were going to walk towards Beruta’s harbor, a human silhouette loomed in front of us.
「You’re finally here.」
「Elise?!!」 Milly exclaimed.
Her surprise was completely normal.
Elise wore her crimson cap as usual, and her silver hair floated in the breeze.
She was the Flame of Flame, Bertram Cabel’s daughter, and despite her age, she was a Dispatch Magician.
With her transportation spell Portal, she was the one who had brought us here. However, we found ourselves on our own at one point, and she was caught by the bandit group. Afterwards I’d somehow ended up rescuing her by accident.
I remember I told her to go back. To think that she’d still be here. She’s way braver than I thought.
「Didn’t you go back to your father’s place?」 I asked.
「… Don’t be foolish. I’m a Dispatch Magician after all. I won’t be able to return unless I finish my mission first.」
「Kuku, it appears that you do, after all, have a conscience.」
As Elise looked at me with evil eyes, I said, resting my hand on top of her head.
She may still be a chick, but she’s doing everything she can to fulfil her duty. A Dispatch Magician should at least be this devoted to their work.
Elise was continually glaring at me, as if she didn’t appreciate my attitude.
「How long do you plan to keep your hand there!! Don’t act all friendly with me!!」
「Sure, sure. I apologize.」 I said waving my hands.
Elise on the other hand, just turned her back to me.
If you’re going to do that, then why did you come to meet us in the first place…? I don’t get her at all.
Claude stepped closer to me as I let out a sigh.
「Um… Zeph-kun, who is this?」
「Oh yea, you haven’t met her Claude. This is the Dispatch Magician Elise. We were able to get here with the help of her transportation spell.」
「A Dispatch Magician…?」 Claude asked with a stiff expression.
Elise then turned around and presented her hand to Claude.
「It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Elise Cabel.」
「… The pleasure’s all mine. I’m Claude Leonhardt.」
Both of them said, tightly gripping their hands…
What an intense handshake! It seems like Claude is somewhat cautious of her. Could it be because Elise’s a Dispatch Magician?
The one who brainwashed Claude three years ago had also been a Dispatch Magician, so maybe that was why.
I should change the topic for now.
「… So Elise, why did you come?」
「Considering it’s you I thought that maybe you’d be in a pinch with no way of going back. L-Like there’d be any other reason for me to come!!!」
「I guess you’re right.」
「Hmph… I’m glad you understand!」
Elise’s voice broke at the end of the last line for some reason. I really don’t get her.
「Either way, just wait here for a bit. I’ll get ready.」 Elise said.
Elise turned around and retrieved a large cloth from her rucksack.
It was a cloth with a magic circle drawn on top of it… The cloth was a magic tool which increased a spell’s power. By using it she was able to transport a large number of people at once.
「I’m done. Get on.」 she urged.
「S-So cramped…」 Milly murmured.
Similar to her, everyone had difficulty getting on top of the cloth.
Due to Claude being with us, it felt even more cramped than last time.
As Claude clung on to me she spoke in a quiet tone.
「Zeph-kun… It seems like you got another one…」
「What are you talking about?」
「Nothing…」 Claude replied while glaring at me.
I sensed a jet black aura emanating from her, but it was most likely just my imagination.
Seeing Elise look over here from time to time also led me to think that maybe she was somewhat cautious of Claude as well.
Elise and Claude huh… For some reason they don’t seem like they’ll get along with one another.
「… Well then, we’re off!!」 Elise said, closing her eyes and beginning to chant.
The magic circle suddenly emitted a blue glow that fully engulfed us.
The view in front of my eyes increasingly darkened as the light encompassed us fully. The blackness cleared after a while, and I found myself tossed on top of the dirt ground.
Immediately after that, one after another, everyone fell on top of me.
「We’re here.」 Elise said.
「Ouch… Where exactly are we?」 Claude asked.
Without looking her in the eyes, Elise replied.
「We’re in a plain close to the capital. It’s be dangerous if we were to appear in a strange place and bump into the people there, don’t you think? To think that you couldn’t even figure out that much, hmph…」 Elise said with a smug.
Claude was somewhat irritated by Elise’s condemnatory attitude.
I guess these two really don’t get along after all.
Milly abruptly stood up and approached Elise, surrounded by the tense atmosphere.
「No matter how many times I see it, it’s still an amazing spell. Thank you Elise♪」 she said.
「I-It wasn’t much!」
「Nihihi, oh come on, you should be more honest from time to time♪」
Elise didn’t seem to be that displeased with Milly’s behaviour.
These two, on the other hand, seem to be doing quite well. Milly does have the tendency of not building any walls between herself and other people after all. She can be considered the archenemy of those who enjoy erecting such barriers.
「…Either way, I’m going. I wish you all the best.」 Elise said, turning around.
「See you again Elise♪」 Milly said, waving her hand at Elise.
While Elise on the other hand just glared at her. It was a determined look, the kind one would send towards their rivals.
Elise shifted her gaze away from the dumbfounded Milly, casting Teleport and vanishing.
As Milly watched Elise fly away I placed my hand on top of her head.
「If you aren’t serious she’ll leave you behind.」 I said.
「Huh? What do you mean?」 Milly asked.
Well I guess being an airhead is one of Milly’s strengths. The Great Magicians of the future huh… Finding a good rival with whom you can grow together is certainly crucial. Milly and Elise… Considering their talents, they’ll probably become one of the Five Heavenly Mages in the future.
「Well, they won’t be as strong as me though.」 I said laughing.
Milly simply tilted her head in astonishment without saying anything. I made my way to the capital with Milly and the others.