If you were going to establish a private detective agency, it had to be in Shinjuku. The type of people changed greatly between the bar district, in front of the TV studios, or near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, but no other area contained as much information from aboveground society and underground society alike. Choosing a restaurant to kill some time at would let you overhear the careless complaints and gossip of people from all sorts of industries.
The fastest way to blend into an area was to actually live there. And so the private detective agency rented out a room in a rundown multi-tenant building there. The room was only slightly less yellowed than a park bathroom, but Tokyo was insane and it still cost as much to rent as a family apartment in another prefecture.
The air conditioning was nearly dead and the computers were from who knows how many generations ago. In that office, a beautiful woman in a tight skirt and glasses faced a young man. They each held a clipboard and they were reading something while using red pen to check something off.
“Asamura Reina. Age: 24. Sex: Female. Born in Kyoto and lived overseas from 18-22. Majored in medical psychology and works as a counselor. A sexually frustrated young woman who looks good in glasses, a white coat, and a tight skirt.”
“Hey, Inoue, does this mean I’ll be driving around in a red Italian car loaded with a V12 turbo engine? Isn’t that more of a guy car?”
“Don’t worry. The target is into cars. If he thinks you understand his tastes, he’ll be putty in your hands.”
“But a salty dog is way too much of a guy drink. Can’t I at least go with a dry martini?”
“Pff. A woman who orders a martini when out at the bar alone is already pretty-...ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!? Y-you can’t let anything get to you like this out there, you know!?”
As the tight suit woman struck the young man’s head with her clipboard, a young newcomer carried in some coffee and animal cookies. She had apparently chosen the coffee beans herself and baked the cookies herself.
She was a high school girl with long brown hair. In the other world, she was known as Gruagach.
“Working hard, I see.”
“...Man, things sure are different with a young girl around. This place was so lacking in femininity before, so...dabah!? What was that for, chief!? Don’t kick me!!”
After puffing out her cheeks and delivering her foot to her subordinate, the tight suit woman held one of the mugs between both hands. She must have had trouble with hot drinks because she blew on it several times and then stuck out her tongue to test the temperature.
“Inoue will eat them all if you let him, so you should take your share now.”
“No, I already posted a picture on Nanskagram, so I don’t need any.”
The career woman froze in place while still testing the coffee with her tongue.
“Wh-what? High school girls show off their cuteness like that these days!?”
The girl looked confused.
The trembling tight suit woman checked the personal page of the handle name and ID she was given and she found an unbelievable number of digits. This was reaching as many people as a small broadcast station.
“N-no... A photo of some homemade animal cookies has more than a million ‘sures’!? Is this the internet that connects the world together!?”
“Yeah, recipes and pet training tips always do well,” said the young man. “And just adding an English description really increases your capacity a lot. Really, I can’t believe the people who immediately start posting selfies as soon as they start Nanskagramming. It’s like they’re putting their self-consciousness on full display. We don’t care about your normal face, so show us something about your lifestyle we can use to get to know you. Do they think they’re an amateur idol or something? Bwa ha. Bwa ha ha..h-hot, hot, hot! Don’t place the bottom of your mug against my forehead! It’s burning, chief! Don’t just leave it there!? Hoooot!?”
The blazer girl tilted her head while hiding the white ribbon on her chest behind the tray she held.
“Um, what are you doing here?”
“Looking over the script and putting together a role. We’re a secret division that performs investigations the normal police can’t to pave the way for something official. Sting operations are a standard starting point. And bringing down one organization causes another organization to rise up in its place, so we’ll always have work to do.”
The girl with the tilted head showed no sign of the Religious Society anymore, but she had not actually lost her faith. She still had a small cross hidden in the chest of her uniform. A long chat with the religious adviser at the hospital had apparently been very helpful for her. As far as the tight suit woman was concerned, she would be free to go once a compromise was reached.
The woman took a sip of coffee and reached for the sugar pot.
“But this really is a pain. Couldn’t you have come up with an easier role to play, Inoue!? You know I’m terrible at playing these mature types of women, like a schoolteacher or a secretary!!”
“Yeah, you are less feminine than Huldra-chan who I turn into in the other world. My bad, my bad.”
“P-please don’t just fall silent like that. Heh...heh heh.”
While the snake glared at the frog, the girl looked curiously down at the clipboard.
“If you have her be picky about only using imported furniture, wouldn’t it make her seem more like a high class woman?”
“Eh? W-well, I can easily fake that by messing with the online shopping history.”
“And here you can say she only wears custom-ordered underwear. That would give a sexual hint to the profile which would...um...more easily gather a gentleman’s attention...”
“Th-that’s a good point. Let’s see.”
The two adults quickly grabbed their red pens and faced their clipboards again. Left alone, the girl pondered the information, hoping to be useful in some way, but then she spoke up as if humming.
Yes, that blazer girl was the unattainable flower and outstanding Student Council President of a prestigious school.
“Come here, boy. I have much to teach you tonight.”
The tight suit woman was willing to forgive Inoue for spitting out his coffee and holding his nose with a hand. But when he also bent awkwardly forward, she kicked him and his chair over and stared into the distance.
(Sigh. Maybe I should go drinking again today.)
One day, Boo Boo came to a stop and looked up at an impressive structure.
“My house is made of bricks now.”
He tilted his head in confusion, but he was the kind of person who would begin using the new furniture that appeared when he woke up. He gave it no further thought and walked in.
It was still a single large room inside, but there was a smaller building next to it. It was crudely made and forced him to circle around to the side to go in, but he still investigated.
As soon as he opened the door, steam billowed out at him. The unique sweet scent of a girl hit him like a thick wall. Sutriona was sitting on a bench inside. She was naked except for the large tropical leaves known as Ghost Bento Wrappers wrapped around her chest and hips, making something like a tropical-style wild bikini. The bench was built for Boo Boo’s size and would have been like a wall to a normal-sized person, but she had apparently jumped up onto it regardless. She rudely had one leg bent up on the bench like she was sitting half cross-legged. Improved blood flow meant her milky white skin had grown somewhat flushed.
“Oh, Boo Boo. You should knock before entering.”
“Sutriona, you need to think about how to explain this.”
“Mh.” The Fairy Queen with a leaf towel around her head moved her eyebrows a little. “Fine then. When we Fairies visit a sauna, we wrap our bodies in medicinal leaves to trap in-...”
“I’m pretty sure that isn’t where to start explaining this.”
It was a rare sight for the Iberian Orc to play the tsukkomi. The Fairy Queen re-crossed her legs in quite a risqué way and snorted.
“The Fairies rebuilt your house before, right? They upgraded it from leaves to logs. That set a precedent. Now that they knew they can do that, they upgraded it further. Forgive them.”
“So that’s what happened.”
“And as I am their queen, they asked me for advice. They wanted to know what kind of new feature you would enjoy. And, well, um, I kind of set aside what you would want and went with what I would want. Forgive me.”
“So that’s what happened.”
Boo Boo, man among men, was not fazed even when faced with an emergency on the level of finding someone had swapped out your computer’s entire OS. Since the Fairies’ work could not be adjusted for anyone else’s convenience, he could only choose whether or not to accept it.
“Squeal. But why are you cooking yourself in an oven, Sutriona? Are you being punished for pulling a prank on someone? If so, I’ll go apologize with you.”
“No, you imbecile. This is a way to stay healthy. You could call it a kind of bath.”
“...There’s something wrong with all of you. Why do you all want wet noses and fuzzy minds?”
Sutriona spoke in a low voice and emitted a bewitching light from her eyes, but Boo Boo refused to approach. He did not try to enter the sauna.
After a while, the Fairy Queen left the steamy bath without closing the door and got in a large bucket of water next to the outer wall (while still wearing her leaf bikini that was held together by unknown means). It was a lot like metal drum bath.
“Ah, that’s my drinking water for the day!”
“You fool, the drinking water is inside the house. This is the bathwater I prepared for myself. But I’ll turn a blind eye if you get too hot and bothered and sneak out to drink it during the night. Hah hah!”
“Boo. Even if it’s one of your pranks, it would be a waste to throw out all that water, so I’ll use it to water the garden.”
The perverted carrot gave a cry of protest from the field out front, but it was unknown if it had reached the house’s owner or if she would avoid being watered with Sutri-juice. Sutriona relaxed her entire body inside the bucket that was a perfect fit for a small girl like her and clearly was no use for Boo Boo even though this was his house.
“Ahh... Toxins build up in Fairy blood, so it’s very important that we regulate our blood flow, Boo Boo.”
“Yes. So when we’re extremely pissed, it influences our blood flow and we lose control of the toxins. That is why we choose to hold important discussions in saunas. ...In the past, that difference between growing pissed or not destroyed a beautiful lake. A holy ground known as the Womb Pot was transformed into a toxic bog. It’s a lot like the root beer floats that humans make. All the contamination is on the surface and everything from the middle down to the depths is fine, but I still feel pretty bad about that one.”
Sutriona was still one of the paradoxes with a soul known as the Break News. Even a casual chat with her provided glimpses of a legendary disaster.
“Oh, so Gruagach ended up at your place, Armelina?”
The inn town took its name from the many lodging facilities there. One room in such a facility was wood patterned and only contained a simple bed and side table. The Holy Swordswoman sat on the windowsill which had its curtain closed and she held the large leaf of a decorative tropical plant between her fingers. Its aroma was stronger than normal because the pot was filled with a bluish jelly instead of dirt. The aromatic components passed through the roots and stalk and then left the leaves along with the moisture.
Armelina was lying face-down on the bed with all her equipment but her underwear deactivated and Filinion placed a towel over her hips.
“Yes, she’s on probation. Although we can only let her make tea or organize documents at the moment. Besides, even if she was the leader, she’s a minor and she was in a state of diminished capacity, right? We can’t just gang up on her and peck at her. Then again, it pisses me off that Inoue is too stricken with her to get any work done. ...Dammit, and a new weapon isn’t always a good thing. You really feel it later when you use muscles you don’t normally use...”
Filinion looked at Armelina’s back and pulled out a bottle of herb oil she had made by Mixing.
“I see. So that’s why your back is so tense.”
“Ah? You’re implying I’m not very feminine, aren’t you!?”
“Now, now, officer. I’m saying I’ll reward your service with a massage. Here we go.”
The White Witch dodged the issue and poured the oil on her defenseless back.
“Hee hee. Oh? So you do have some femininity.”
“You did that on purpose! You’re supposed to warm the oil with your hands first!! Hyahn.”
Filinion silenced Armelina’s protests by pressing her palms into the oil on her back. She started by spreading it out across her shoulder blades.
“Warm it with my hands? You mean like this?”
“Don’t think I’ll forget this...”
Armelina trembled and blushed as she swore to take revenge, but Filinion talked nonchalantly.
“The ‘adults’ were humiliated by letting Tselika escape, so I know they had to single someone out to save face. But still.”
“Ahh, ahh. Kh! But how can they push around a kid in need just to protect their own pride? That has the opposite effect. It’s like wearing a custom-fitted suit but forgetting to zip up the fly. But more importantly...”
Armelina raised her index finger while still lying face down. A rectangular frame made of thin chains and a bubble appeared.
“This is the problem. While I was making a mess of the Shirokanedai mansion, this turned up: a document that seems to show a connection between the Conference Room and the Sage. It’s only fragmentary, though.”
The Sage had a deep and broad knowledge of Magic, they were suspected of purging Boo Boo’s village, and only slight contact with information about them had led Skull Wave and Ice Waterfall Princess Wildefrau to attack. It was still unclear if the Sage was an individual or a group, but they were not just a vague legend. Their deadly fingertips really were approaching Beatrice’s group’s throat.
“Based on this document, it looks like the Sage didn’t actually give the order. It’s more like the Conference Room did it to curry their favor.”
“We can probably assume that’s how they tend to do things. The Sage can’t be heard saying it directly, so the others pick up on the clues and do it for them...”
“None of this is certain of course. Now, Beatrice. What are you going to do now? To be honest, there isn’t much we can do back on Earth. The Sage’s identity and hideout are unknown. But things are different here. Nothing’s holding us back here and we can walk around the entire island in only 3 days. If we wanted to, we might be able to track down the Sage with a thorough search.”
Of course, that might mean acting hastily and attacking the Sage prematurely. If the Conference Room was truly acting alone and the Sage was not at all involved, they could introduce a misunderstanding that earned the Sage’s true anger. And with a world-renowned VIP like the Sage, that could cast a serious shadow on their lives.
On the bed, Filinion moved her hands down to Armelina’s hips. Armelina let her do as she wished and she had mentioned that none of this was certain. The Holy Swordswoman thought about that for a bit and then opened her mouth.
“Armelina, you hold onto that document. My management smartphone might be monitored by the Detached Magic Palace, so it would be best if I didn’t make a copy. I don’t want to get Iroka in trouble by letting her see something she shouldn’t.”
“Since you’re playing this defensively, should I assume you’re really going after this? Keep in mind we’re up against the Sage here.”
Yes, this person had proposed the existence of Magic and another world, which had changed history just as much as Da Vinci or Einstein. They also had the skill to easily remove the limits of life, as seen in Skull Wave. Their power and influence were both the real deal, so this was not an opponent to face halfheartedly.
But Beatrice did not hang her head.
“Either way, there’s a lot I want to ask them, such as the attack on the Iberian Orc village and the giant Shining Weapon left with Boo Boo. ...And I’m not the type to sit around in fear of a coming attack. We need to get actively involved in this to at least judge the level of the threat.”
“I see. I’m glad I exchanged contact information with you. But what about you, cow? Are you prepared to listen to the rest?”
“I get the feeling the world would treat me as one of the Three Stooges even if I said no here. I mean, Skull Wave and the Ice Waterfall Princess wouldn’t have any reason to attack me personally otherwise! If they’ll attack me even if I don’t know anything, I have to go along with this to defend myself! Wahhhhhn!!”
The White Witch held her head in her hands, realized she had oil all over those hands, and screamed even louder, but her butt never rose even a millimeter from the bed. In fact, she did not even glance back toward the door. Beatrice was honestly glad she had such good companions.
“Then let’s get down to business. ...Nkh!”
“Oh, excuse me. Armpit, armpit.”
“You can skip the armpits...hyah...ah hyah hyah hyah!?”
Filinion recovered quickly and moved her fingers to Armelina’s armpits, so Armelina began flailing her arms and legs around while lying face down. Even as she struggled, she somehow managed to open a new frame. It contained the document obtained during the search of the mansion.
“Pant, pant. I said the Conference Room is trying to curry the Sage’s favor, right? That means even an old man at that level can’t get an audience with the Sage whenever he wants. ...But that old man and the others like him didn’t like that, so it seems they were working through official and unofficial channels to divulge the Sage’s identity.”
“Th-that sounds like a good way to get the Sage mad at you.”
“In diplomatic relationships, secretly digging up information on the other person is pretty common. Didn’t you know more than half of what the Company does is gather clippings from newspapers and news sites from around the world?”
The Holy Swordswoman urged her on from the windowsill, so Armelina got back on topic while lying face down.
“Sorry, sorry. I found enough of a bombshell to make me want to hold it back until the very end. Read this part here. It’s a report concerning the Sage’s base in Ground’s Nir.”
“...Wait a second. Does that say what I think it does!?”
“See what I mean? If they’re hiding here, it’s no surprise no one can find them even an island as small as Ground’s Nir, right?”
Having regained her flexibility at Filinion’s hand, Armelina winked.
“It says there’s a chance the Sage worked out the calculations behind the Labyrinth’s irregular changes and used those very calculations to construct their very own living space and lab. That piece of shit really is a step or two ahead of the rest of us.”
The opponent this time was the Sage who was skilled enough to modify a portion of the Labyrinth into their own base. The silver lining was that Beatrice’s group was very familiar with the Labyrinth.
“Armelina, let’s see the map.”
“Sure thing. You should be thankful you know someone with a map obsession.”
“Okay, overlay the maps for the last 6 layouts. If there’s an area that stays the same every time, that would be the most likely spot.”
They immediately found such an area, but it was not some unexplored area in the greatest depths. In fact...
“The Labyrinth’s entrance!? W-well, I suppose that area can’t change since it’s the starting point and no one would ever question it.”
“And the Sage would probably get sick of having to traverse a deadly maze full of Gimmicks and Traps every time. Somewhere near the entrance would certainly be more convenient.”
Plus, the challengers working toward the depths would not loiter around the entrance. They would pass right by it with their first step. Everyone’s focus was on the darkness beyond, so they never noticed the secret right in front of their eyes. And when returning from the depths, everyone was too focused on the hope seen in the sunlight at the surface that they would not hang around near the exit.
“...They tricked us.”
This was not just a theory. Beatrice’s group was at the level cap. They had challenged the Labyrinth and passed that entrance area enough times to claim that things only truly began once you reached Level 99, but they had never noticed anything odd about it. They had walked through there enough times that their feet had to have worn a noticeable path on the stone, so they had to admit the Sage’s method was perfect.
The Sage was always right alongside them, yet no one noticed.
Beatrice felt like that got to the heart of the Sage’s character. Magic, Pieces, technological revolutions, Ground’s Nir... Just like with electricity and wireless signals, it would be hard to find a human whose life had not been influenced by the Sage to some extent, but no one knew their name or what they looked like. Plus, the Holy Swordswoman’s group had begun to realize that the Sage was a real person working out of an actual base and not just some legendary figure. That meant that he, she, or they had been standing alongside 7 billion people and snickering at them all this time. They had been secretly watching the people fall into pandemonium as they were tossed around by money and technology. They had been elegantly observing the wars of the world.
“Beatrice, what about Boo Boo?” asked Filinion. “If the Sage was involved in the attack on his village, we should probably tell him about this. But it also might bring back up some painful memories for him. I know this won’t be an easy decision...”
Beatrice understood the White Witch’s concerns. The attack on the village, Skull Wave, and the Ice Waterfall Princess. Every incident with an apparent connection to the Sage had a deep darkness behind it. That could easily become a poison that ate into a pure soul like Boo Boo.
At the same time, she recalled Elkiad, the delinquent soldier Guild that had been involved with the village attack. When he had been faced with that painful truth, he had wailed into the heavens and Beatrice had lost herself to her intense anger.
If the Sage was involved in the village attack, then they were the same as Elkiad. No, they might be even more evil. There were hints of that already. At the very least, the Sage could not be entirely innocent.
Should she let Boo Boo see and touch that darkness?
Or should she not?
“...I just had to look at it in reverse.”
“If it was me, I would never want Boo Boo to face that kind of evil alone because he wanted to protect me. Just the thought of it makes my skin crawl. And if it would make me feel that bad, I can’t put Boo Boo in the same situation. Even if this means bringing him pain.”
Filinion and Armelina only gently narrowed their eyes.
“I’ll explain it to Boo Boo. Filinion, you prepare a ton of recovery potions in case we can’t talk things out peacefully with the Sage. Armelina, you prepare for exploring the Labyrinth. I think the Sage’s base is near the entrance, but I want to improve our odds of survival if we screw up and have to escape into the deeper areas.”
“And you two? We’ll need a lot of food if Boo Boo is with us, so gather as much dried meat and dried fruit as you can.”
“Ugh! That sounds like the hardest job of all!”
“You can use my name at the treasury to withdraw the gears I’ve been saving up.”
“Don’t be dumb. This is a life or death situation for us too. We’re not going to rely on someone else’s money for our own survival.”
Then the 3 of them left the inn.
They were finally preparing to approach the mystery of the Sage.
That vast space spread its roots deep below Ground’s Nir. The mysterious place was clearly larger than the island and had many theories and rumors whispered about it. Some said it was connected to a series of caves below the ocean, some said it transcended space-time just like the Gates and took people on trips to other coordinates or worlds, and some said it was larger than a country or continent.
But its entrance was surprisingly plain. It was located on the side of a slight hill of dark soil in the forest and it only looked like the entrance to a coal mine reinforced by some logs. It was not an impressive temple and there was no iron gate refusing entry to any without permission. There was not even a fire for illumination, so it could take some wandering in the forest to find it at night.
(Come to think of it, the Iberian Orc village was located near the Labyrinth and they didn’t like that people were going inside. It was because they were acting like gatekeepers that Elkiad barbarically slaughtered them in search of Magic and Pieces.)
But at the same time, the Iberian Orcs had not destroyed and buried the entrance. That would have been a simple task for a group with strength on Boo Boo’s level.
Plus, who could say if the justification given by Elkiad’s leader was the truth of the matter. He had spoken like the actual attackers had not understood the true motives behind it.
All of that would be known once they directly met the Sage. He, she, or they had to have a different point of view than Elkiad and yet had supported that barbaric act.
“Filinion, Armelina.” Beatrice spoke to her companions in this endeavor. “And Boo Boo, too. How about we go in already?”
After seeing Boo Boo nod (while he carried a food supply just in case), the Holy Swordswoman’s group passed through the entrance. Boo Boo was nearly 4 meters tall, but he did not bump his head.
The inside was a short straight path made of stone that led to a large staircase down. The walls on either side had lights at even intervals. Unlike wall-mounted lamps that used fire, they were masses of heatless particles, like countless gathered firefly lights.
Beatrice could not even guess how many times she had been here, but this was probably her first time to come to a stop. Once she knew there were no Gimmicks or Traps near the entrance, she had always walked right on through.
“...But we should have noticed.”
“There’s no locked door at the entrance, but the clockwork Gimmicks wandering the Labyrinth never come out. Almost like they’re blocked by an invisible power. So could the real secret be right at the beginning, not in the greatest depths?”
The most likely candidates were the short straight path or the stairway down. Beatrice and the others split up to look and feel along the walls and floor. A few Parties passed them by on the way deeper inside and gave them curious looks, but this was not the time to worry about that.
“Boo. Beatrice, look here. Sniff, sniff.”
Surprisingly, the first one to notice something off was Boo Boo.
He felt along a part of the wall.
“This spot is kind of weird. I’m not sure how to describe it. It smells like a smart person? Like old paper?”
“Wait just a moment.”
They may have been Mixing ingredients and a tool for Appraising them, but the White Witch rubbed a few kinds of powder on the wall with a pencil-like tool and visualized what seemed odd about the area.
Two tall rectangles appeared alongside each other like fingerprints at a crime scene.
“...They look a lot like the panels of a double door.”
“Armelina, you can open microscopic locks with your physics calculations, right? What about this?”
“Hm... There’s no keyhole, so nope. It looks more like a product of Magic than metalwork. It’s the same as creating Pieces. You have to mix together multiple Elements like a cocktail and it will only react to the accurate ratio out of the billions or trillions of possibilities, much like a DNA sequence.”
“Also...um, Beatrice? Pay attention to the floor as well as the door on the wall. Eep.”
Hearing that, Beatrice casually looked down and then froze in place.
Some of the White Witch’s powder for revealing the hidden door had fallen to the floor. And it had reacted. Reacted to some truly cruel instant-death Traps that should not have existed in the entranceway.
They had not activated yet, but they were all standing on them. Or rather, they could not help but stand on them. They were so thoroughly placed that they may have covered every inch of the floor as well as the walls and ceiling too.
(The entire area is covered with a crueler version of a bear trap? What was that about walking right through the entrance because there are no Gimmicks or Traps here!? I’m so stupid!!)
She hated herself for not noticing more than the person who had laid the Trap. She felt like she had been carelessly walking into the tooth-lined maw of a giant beast every time she entered the Labyrinth. And not only had she put herself in danger, but she had invited her companions in too. If that maw had ever snapped shut... She shuddered just imagining it.
Traps generally triggered when you stepped on them, when a switch or wire was thrown or pulled, or when a puzzle was solved incorrectly.
Beatrice’s group had already stepped on the landmine, but the maw of death had yet to shut. People from all around the world walked through here every day, but she had never heard of someone being devoured.
In that case, there was only one possible trigger.
“Wait, shouldn’t we avoid touching this door? I don’t want to screw up and get chewed up by hundreds or even thousands of man-eating Traps.”
“I-I guess this was never going to be easy. Do we have to find the key the Sage uses first?”
“While we could fall back, do we have any chance of solving this? I seriously doubt we can find info on the Sage’s master key by asking around the inn town,” said the Holy Swordswoman. “Also, we can’t just ignore all these Traps. I mean, could you continue exploring the Labyrinth like before after seeing these?”
And the world was changing as they spoke. The Pieces brought back from Ground’s Nir would lead to more and more technological revolutions.
Even if they uncovered a horrific truth, they could not allow themselves to be left behind. The more they were delayed, the more the chaotic breakthroughs would twist the world in an ugly direction.
Also, if the Sage truly had been involved in the Ice Waterfall Princess and Noble Dancer incident, the passage of time would only increase the risk. If more and more assassins of that level were sent in, Beatrice’s group would not at all be safe.
“Falling back seems like the best way to ensure our safety, but I don’t see how falling back will improve our odds and it will only increase the risk, so waiting for more information might actually be more dangerous.”
“But, Beatrice, you see how many Traps there are here, don’t you!?”
“Well, yes, but...what if we removed them one at a time? Traps have fixed positions, so if we spread word of them in the inn town, gather enough people’s attention, and get their help, we might be able to remove all these Traps in a short period of time.”
Even as she suggested it, Beatrice knew her idea was hardly realistic. She was just trying to force her way through the problem.
And at that very moment...
It was only a quiet tone from the wall, but all 3 members of that frightening level cap group just about jumped out of their skin. Even if it was quieter than a smartphone’s ringtone, it was more than enough of a shock to their hearts given the current situation.
But despite their expectations, the Traps had not all activated at once. In fact, Boo Boo spoke up while tilting his head.
“Look. The door on the wall is opening.”
“Wait, but why!? We never found any kind of master key!”
They had no idea how to open it from outside. Which meant...
“Boo Boo, prepare for battle! The Sage might be coming out of there!!”
Beatrice forcefully drew her rapier from the sheath at her hip, but then she came to a stop. Her eyes were drawn to the giant Shining Weapon that Boo Boo held.
Yes, the digitized souls of the Iberian Orcs had been sealed inside that weapon, but where had he gotten it? The Sage had been involved in the attack on his village and Skull Wave had attempted to retrieve it. In that case, it could easily be connected to the Sage.
“Could it have...reacted to Boo Boo’s Shining Weapon?”
Boo Boo himself only tilted his head.
“What do you mean? I don’t know how to use the Magic you humans do.”
“More importantly, we’re still in trouble! If the Sage is in there, we’ll definitely run across them!!”
“It was going to happen sooner or later. Get ready, Beatrice! Boo Boo, too!!”
The cleverly hidden double doors slowly opened.
What waited within?
Beatrice’s eyes widened.
The space before them was wide and its ceiling was incredibly high. Rooms two or three times the size of a sports stadium or theatre were not uncommon in the ever-changing Labyrinth, but this was on the same level as the entrance, before descending the very first staircase. The horizontal size was one thing, but the vertical size should have been impossible.
(Was the theory about space-time bending inside the Labyrinth true?)
The incredibly large space was a sea of bookcases. More than just the first floor on which Beatrice’s group stood, a look up showed layer after layer of elevated pathways rising toward the endlessly tall ceiling. They had not investigated them all, but they could see lots of bookcases there as well. It felt like peering into opposing mirrors.
“Is the entire place...one giant library?”
Filinion gulped and looked around before gasping and sprinkling the same powder on the well-polished marble floor.
“N-no reaction. That was hardly a thorough inspection, but there don’t seem to be any Traps around here.”
“Well, you might have a tosa dog in front of your house to scare off burglars, but I doubt anyone would want to keep one inside their house. They’d get eaten by it.”
They were still wary of the Sage, but this place was simply too wide and tall. They even felt like the library acted as an entirely new Labyrinth. Beatrice had expected to find the Sage stooped over some work in a cramped room, so this was entirely unexpected.
“I can’t believe this. I feel like I’m going to get lost in a sea of books.”
“Boo. It’s a good thing we brought a lot of food. But are we allowed to eat where there are books? I’m a little worried about that.”
Beatrice smiled at Boo Boo’s concern as she glanced over at a nearby bookcase.
“What are you doing, Beatrice?”
“I’m trying to figure out the Sage’s habits... I don’t know if they’re an individual or a group, but they prepared this lab near the entrance to deceive us yet maintain some convenience. ...This might be the same. It might be wrong to let the great size of the library get to us and head randomly into the depths.”
“That’s true. In your room, the things you need most often will naturally end up nearby. Like the TV remote, your smartphone’s charger, or a manga volume you reread a lot...”
“I see you dodged any kind of feminine touch by not mentioning jewelry or makeup.”
“I-I’m a shrine maiden in the real world, so I can’t help it!”
“Now, now. We can tease the glasses girl about her dirty room later.”
“I don’t have a dirty room!! Grandmother makes sure to clean it for me!!”
“And the problem is how you have no issue with someone cleaning your room for you at your age.”
The Fighter Priest and White Witch’s argument seemed like it would never end, so Beatrice ignored them.
She randomly pulled a thick tome from the bookcase.
“The workings of life...”
The detailed contents could wait until later. She just wanted to know the genre for now. She pulled out book after book and flipped through them. She was looking for a bookmark, some notes, or a folded corner indicating a frequently referenced page.
She came to understand some things as she did so.
“Alchemy, the possibility of artificial life, ATCG and fire/water/wind/earth, the shape of a soul, the difference between bringing back the souls of the dead and creating new souls, necromancy and possession, the soul seen in information science, embryos and bioethics, the philosopher’s stone...?”
The Sage was not randomly gathering information in all directions like in an encyclopedia. There was a clear genre here. It was all about the souls of the living, how to artificially create them, and how to resurrect them.
Was the Sage attempting to reach the territory of god, or to carry out the work of the devil? However, Beatrice had already seen partial successes in that field.
(Skull Wave, the collection of bones from those fallen in Ground’s Nir. And...)
“Boo. I wonder if this Shining Weapon was made here.”
“...It might have been.”
All of the purged Iberian Orc’s souls had been digitized and stored there. It was simple enough to say, but they did not actually know anything solid about the process. As proven by the many people who collapsed while exploring the Labyrinth, people had not conquered death even with Magic. No one would believe it was possible if it was not someone as legendary as the Sage.
That said, Beatrice was curious about the Sage’s position in all this. They might have supplied the weapon without knowing anything and they might have taken part personally.
And just as she was wondering about that, “they” suddenly arrived.
“Searching through that will reveal nothing, Holy Swordswoman.”
It was a gentle female voice. Beatrice naturally looked over and spotted a figure walking slowly out from behind the bookcases. The figure wore a large black gothic lolita dress.
She almost looked like an heiress or princess, but that conflicted with the thick silver shackle around her ankle and the metal ball resembling a pig face that was attached with a chain. Her arms drooped down in front of her and the wrists were shackled together and bound by a thick silver band. And then there was her face. Her entire face was covered by a silver bottle one size too big, but the very top had a large T-shaped handle much like a clock key or corkscrew. Was it a variation on a garrote known as a juicer? As the name suggested, that torture device applied pressure to the victim’s skull as the handle was turned. There was a flat panel of fine mesh over the eyes and another over the mouth, but the face within could not be seen.
She was reminiscent of a princess imprisoned in a tower.
Influence, wealth, knowledge, connections, and beauty.
This noble prisoner had every sort of power, but that was why the common world had robbed her of her freedom.
(This is the Sage...?)
They faced a legend.
The Sage really did have a physical body and was someone who required food and sleep.
But at the same time, it did not make sense.
Based on what Skull Wave had said and the fact that the Sage had been directly involved in the origin of Magic, they had to have been active decades earlier. Her face was not visible and her slender body was almost entirely hidden by the dress, but the skin of the visible cleavage looked far too young.
(So are they a group and not an individual? Or does a new person inherit the title every generation? Or...)
Had the Sage transcended bioethics and the concept of aging?
She physically existed there and yet her presence provided no answers. The Sage spoke from beyond the waves of the bookcase sea.
“This may look like a mountain of unknown heresy to you, but these are no more than the accumulated gravestones of failure. They were useful in the sense that carving away the failures allowed the outline of success to grow more distinct, but there is no value in the actual knowledge you will read there.”
“The outline...of success...?”
“Yes.” With her arms bound by shackles and a silver band, the woman laughed within the darkness of the juicer. “The resurrection of the dead. And I mean a complete resurrection that includes the body from before their death, Beatrice.”
Beatrice forcefully told herself not to let herself be taken in, but she still found herself reacting to each and every word. She half-forced her mouth open while seemingly brushing aside an invisible spider web.
“Why would you want that!? Given what we know, you’re definitely one of the people who led to the erasure of Boo Boo’s village!!”
“Why do you think?”
Still calm, the Sage dragged along the hem of her gothic lolita dress and the pig-faced metal ball attached to her ankle while her shackled arms seemed to accentuate her large breasts. She finally stepped into the end of the lobby where Beatrice’s group was.
Beatrice, Filinion, and Armelina all immediately raised their Shining Weapons at the ready.
Boo Boo alone was unsure what to do.
“Boo. What does any of this mean? Did you give this to me? Have I met you before???”
“Hee hee. That is the cleverest question any of you has asked me. But will those 3 give us time to deepen our friendship?”
With a gentle smile, the person who wore both a dress and chains toyed with something in her shackled hands: a small hand bell that shined with a silver light.
“I prefer to avoid direct fights using Magic. So I must apologize, but I will provide you with another opponent. Okay, Boo Boo? And you use this as a chance to cool your head somewhat, Holy Swordswoman.”
She lightly rang the bell just once, as if summoning a maid or butler.
Immediately, the entire giant library shook.
Even when an extraordinarily powerful Gimmick, like a Punishment or Gatekeeper type, rampaged through the Labyrinth or a Break News roared outside, they never felt shaking so bad that the fear of a collapse squeezed at their hearts like this.
This oddity was visible. The living legend of the Sage could erode the world’s laws and generally accepted assumptions.
But if that was all, Beatrice’s mind would not have gone entirely blank. Their group included three level cap fighters and the lone surviving Iberian Orc. No reinforcements could defeat them so easily.
(We know she’s hostile now. The Sage really is someone who prefers conflict to talk. Who knows when we’ll get another chance if we let her escape. Who knows how many ways she’ll attack us both in open and in secret! So we need to finish this here and now. We need to keep the Sage from messing with us any further!!)
“Are you sure you want to fight, Beatrice?”
So the true despair was yet to come.
“If you had actually thought about what I’m researching here, you would have realized ‘that privilege’ does not belong only to you.”
“Beatrice, up above!!”
Hearing Boo Boo’s shout, the Holy Swordswoman looked up and felt like she had left reality. Something had jumped down from one of the elevated pathways. It was incredibly large.
The girl only stood there, so Boo Boo grabbed her arm and just barely pulled her away before “it” shattered the marble floor as it landed. That showed its scale once more. Its full body was much larger than a human’s.
It had a humanoid body and a pig face.
It was a full 5 meters tall. Plump fat covered steely muscle.
But this should not have been possible. That species had been wiped out save for Boo Boo. Surely the Sage had not been raising a secret survivor here all along.
And what past event had the Sage been present for?
What meaning was there in the lifeless expression and skin color of this new pig-faced giant? What meaning was there in the integrated circuits that crawled along its entire body like some kind of giant bite wound?
Yes, it was almost like...the aftermath of having all the souls sealed in the giant Shining Weapon. Almost like the soulless containers of flesh had been forcibly reused.
“Let me introduce you to my adorable partner and my greatest masterpiece. I simply refer to him as Disaster, though. Now, Beatrice, what do you think I used to make him?”
This time, her mind grew entirely blank.
All rational thought left Beatrice as she howled.
That bioethical abomination and crystallization of Alchemy began to move.
The end of his right tusk was missing and his muscles did not seem alive. It was like an empty shell that gave off the unpleasant dampness, coldness, and stench of a sweaty shirt put back on after being removed for an hour.
As the Holy Swordswoman howled in rage and started forward, she noticed a surprising weapon in Disaster’s hand. It was longer than Boo Boo’s at more than 5 meters and it was contained in a glistening black curved scabbard.
No, that was not it.
He forcefully drew it, to reveal...
A tetto was a striking weapon with no blade that made up for it by being made extra thick. This could not be looked down on as a fake sword. The well-forged steel was more than 5 meters long and it was wielded by the strength of the supposedly destroyed Iberian Orcs, so what would happen when it was used?
Beatrice’s mind went blank.
The next thing she knew, she, Filinion, Armelina, and Boo Boo had been forced out of the giant library and into the straight passageway near the Labyrinth entrance.
“Boo Boo, your hand!”
“Yeah, I’m just glad none of you are hurt. I’m fine.”
Boo Boo’s powerful right arm was dripping blood. Beatrice and the others had failed to react to the extraordinarily large blunt weapon. Boo Boo alone had moved fast enough and he had been injured covering for them.
As for his injury...
“Let me see that! Wait...huh? I don’t believe it...”
“Dammit, he’s leaving through the door!! We need to get out of here!!”
Filinion froze up with recovery potion in hand, so Armelina grabbed her arm. Beatrice and Boo Boo also began a sudden burst of movement. Then the extraordinarily large body entered the passageway like a storm. The weapon in his right hand became a flash of light, cut the air faster than the roaring wind, and sliced through the opposite wall (which the Sage had covered in countless traps) like a hot knife through butter.
Yes, it sliced through. Boo Boo’s wound was a cut.
(The lack of a blade doesn’t matter. It’s just like a helicopter rotor. When that much weight is swung at such great speed, even a blunt weapon can cut like a blade! And how the hell can it slice through the Labyrinth’s walls!? It takes Boo Boo’s level of strength to break those walls!!)
Disaster’s strength was likely even greater than Boo Boo’s. While Boo Boo used his blunt weapon to hit, Disaster used his to cut.
And Disaster had no fear of death.
But they did not have time to carefully observe their enemy’s power. Beatrice’s group had rolled aside to avoid Disaster’s charge, but they had unfortunately fled toward the stairs leading down. That meant they were headed toward the Labyrinth and not the exit.
The straight path to the exit was blocked by Disaster’s giant body. They doubted they could get past that tetto swung with greater force than a helicopter rotor.
“This is no time to stick around. Boo Boo, everyone! We need to head into the Labyrinth for now!!”
Filinion was already half in tears as Boo Boo grabbed her around the waist with one hand and ran down the stairs with the others. Disaster of course did not just watch them go. He threw aside the unnecessary scabbard, held the naked tetto, and pursued the fleeing backs of Beatrice’s group.
If he could fully reproduce the muscular strength of an Iberian Orc, he would fill the gap in no time.
So as soon as she reached the stairs, the Holy Swordswoman twisted around to look behind her.
(All those Traps are probably linked to an error report from the hidden door. In that case!)
She swung her rapier and 8 lines of heat appeared from nowhere to scorch the air. She targeted the door on the wall instead of Disaster. It must have decided the person trying to burn through was in the passageway because the sea of Traps all activated at once.
Snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap!!!!!
More than just biting into his arms and legs, the Magically reinforced bear traps shut with enough force to tear a body to pieces as they leaped at him from the floor, walls, and ceiling. It was like a swarm of giant steel piranhas. An incredible number of metal “teeth” assaulted Disaster.
And yet he did not dodge or defend. Easily over 100 jaws were deflected by his powerful skin and muscles. Orange sparks burst from his entire body like fireworks and piranhas with broken teeth littered the floor. They really were like poor fish that had been dragged out onto land where they rotted with their bellies exposed.
Disaster was made from the bodies of Iberian Orcs who were powerful enough to hold a fistfight with a Break News. Beatrice had not expected this would defeat him. She had only wanted enough time to escape.
But even so...
“Y-you’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Beatrice, this way! Hurry!!”
When Boo Boo urged her down the stairs, she came back to her senses and ran down. This battle really was somehow different. That was just how much the Sage’s evil recolored the world.
Yes, just like when she first widely revealed Magic to an entirely unprepared human race.
After arriving in the stone floor for beginners at the bottom of the stairs, Beatrice heard a racket coming from all the walls around them.
“Do not struggle, Beatrice. There are a lot of unrelated people in the Labyrinth. And my adorable Disaster has some trouble with precision targeting. Don’t blame me if something unexpected happens.”
Was the voice being carried by Magic, or was the Labyrinth’s structure being remade in real time?
“(Either answer is bad. Beatrice, this is her lair!)”
“(I’m aware of that!)”
There was nothing they could do with the straight passageway to the exit blocked, but things changed in the next floor down. The Labyrinth was generally constructed from rooms of varying sizes connected by corridors.
“(Armelina, prepare the map. Filinion, you give Boo Boo a recovery potion. Let’s watch what route Disaster takes, make a wide circle around him, and return to the stairs. Then we can get out without him blocking the way.)”
They heard more and more rumbling noises. The Gimmicks wandering the Labyrinth were made to move when they did, so they were given as much time to think as they wanted so long as they stayed entirely still. But Disaster was probably running right through and sweeping aside all of the gathering Gimmicks.
A voice from the walls and ceiling cut off their thoughts.
A moment later, the wall right next to Beatrice burst apart.
Disaster was not fighting the many small Gimmicks. He was fighting the Labyrinth itself. He did more than break through the walls. A mysterious attack resembling a beam blade sliced diagonally though the entire floor from one end to the other and the monster approached along the shortest course. In fact, even the floor had collapsed, exposing the next floor down.
“P-planning is worthless now!”
Filinion squeezed her eyes shut and threw a test tube from each hand. The cold pig-faced man thoughtlessly attacked them with his tetto, slicing more than breaking them, and a colorful liquid splattered out and fell right on his head.
“Those were failed eye drops! They interrupt the signals in the optical nerves. We need to use this chance to get away from-...”
She trailed off at the killer intent she sensed.
The thick tetto was mercilessly targeting Filinion. A curving flash sliced through even sound as it accurately flew toward her neck.
She felt more confusion than fear.
Boo Boo immediately cut in with his Shining Weapon. Their weapons clashed, sparked, and stirred up the wind.
“Impossible... Taking out his eyes...doesn’t accomplish anything...?”
“Pull yourself together, Filinion! Boo. Beatrice, take her away!!”
Beatrice and the other humans could not even stand on the same field.
Had the Sage sought this power? Was that why she had helped Elkiad attack the village and why she had left all the Iberian Orc souls with Boo Boo?
Had she only been throwing out the parts she did not need.
Had it all been to acquire the strongest vessel of flesh to complete a powerful fighting force that would do her bidding?
Had it all been for nothing more than that!?
“I told you to cool your head.” Every last wall spoke scornfully. “And I can freely interfere with the Labyrinth’s structure, making it my garden. You lost any chance of victory when you fled further inside. You lost any chance at all.”
It was true they might have no chance of escape when the Sage could create any number of traps and dead-ends while Disaster could ignore it all to take the shortest route. It was like running through a city where the hand of god could freely construct buildings to create dead-ends, all while being pursued by a helicopter that could ignore the map.
But could Beatrice let her say that?
Could she, when this was the piece of shit who had profaned death and trampled on the Iberian Orcs’ strength all for her own greed?
“It is useless,” said the Sage’s voice. “Haven’t you gathered a lot of your own information on the Labyrinth? For example, the floors that clearly cover more area than the island itself do not seem to just connect to undersea tunnels, so you might be teleporting around the underground space with no regard for the true layout of things.”
“What are you-...?”
“I will now give you the answer. If you interfere with the Labyrinth’s structure, you can do things like this.”
The Sage could interfere with the arrangement of rooms, staircases, elevators, Gimmicks, Traps, and Treasure.
So if the Labyrinth really included a certain feature, wouldn’t she have control of that as well?
Namely, invisible Teleportation Trap Walls.
As soon as Beatrice converted the possibility to words in her mind, the scenery changed around her.
Skull Wave, a Skeleton in a cowboy hat bearing a large red stone, suddenly looked up into the sky and spoke with annoyance in his voice.
“So it’s begun. But I can’t take either side.”
“What is it, mister?”
A small light fluttered nearby. It was Alice, the Fairy in a violet dress whose short twintails resembled a candy wrapper. But the Skeleton did not have time to answer. After grinding many bones and charcoal into a powder and stuffing them into a wooden tube, he ignited it with flint.
With a loud explosion, Alice was nearly flipped upside down where she flew.
“Wh-what was that for...?”
Alice grew tearful, but Skull Wave did not respond. He stared up into the sky where milky white smoke spread out like a butterfly and he spoke in a hopelessly bitter voice.
“Figure it out, Boo Boo. ...Honestly, I’ve always had such a bad habit of siding with the underdog. Not that there’s any saving them whichever side I choose.”
There was no change to the girl’s body or mind. She did not feel a sense of floating or acceleration. And that was why Beatrice was overwhelmed by confusion when the scene before her eyes suddenly changed.
It was true no one would have noticed if something like this was secretly set up in the Labyrinth’s corridors. Especially within the Labyrinth where each floor was made up of corridors and rooms with identical interior designs. You would think you had walked down a long passageway, but you might have actually been sent to a completely different passageway on the other side of the world.
But this time, Beatrice had not been sent to another location on the same floor or even in the Labyrinth at all.
She was high in the sky. Ground’s Nir had some water source mountains to the northeast and there was a series of floating islands positioned even higher than their peaks. The largest islands were the size of a truck trailer and the smallest ones were only clumps of rock one could hold in their arms, but they were all clustered together like an asteroid belt.
Beatrice’s group had been sent to the small island at the very top. It was unclear how water had gathered there, but fresh water flowed from a spring, fell from the floating island, branched out as it hit the various other islands and clumps of rock below, and continued flowing vertically down toward the ground like an amidakuji or tournament diagram. It ultimately fell to the peaks of the water source mountains and formed the rivers that wet the land.
“The Original Water Source? But why here?”
“I don’t think we have time to think about it. W-wahh!!”
They felt wind pressure. Beatrice instinctually understood that something was parting the air as it approached them.
Armelina threw her Shining Weapon metal staff into the water source and it quickly transformed into a steel boat.
“Get in! I you don’t want to die, get moving before asking questions!!”
After Armelina jumped in, Beatrice and Boo Boo followed with Boo Boo holding flustered Filinion’s waist in a hand.
As soon as the corpse flesh parted the air and appeared, his 5 meter tetto flashed horizontally. If they had been 3 seconds slower, the girls’ necks and Boo Boo’s torso would have been sliced through as if by a helicopter rotor.
“Armelina, what is this!?”
“My Shining Weapon can transform into just about any blunt weapon and I remembered that one of those was a toy used during the witch hunt. There was a cruel form of torture where the victim was laid face-up and tied down, then a metal boat bounded by chains or ropes would be slowly lowered on top of him. But more importantly, shut your mouth or you’ll bite your tongue from the impact!!”
Filinion’s scream was caused by a floating sensation pushing up at their stomachs.
In other words...
After Beatrice’s short cry, a heavy impact ran through the small metal boat. The waterfall split like an amidakuji or tournament diagram as it fell from small island to small island. Each individual drop was only a few meters, but the impact upon landing was incalculable.
“Boo Boo, can you reach the bottom of the river with your Shining Weapon? If so, please steer us! I don’t know how long we’ll last if we just go with the flow. We might take a branch with no floating island below and end up falling more than 1000 meters onto a mountain peak!!”
Boo Boo immediately stuck his log or steel beam of a club into the water and moved to the back of the boat. They did not have time to wait around. They would only continue horizontally for at most 10 seconds. The closest mountain peak was 1000 meters below them. It was more like jumping down small cliffs than rowing downstream.
(The world’s fastest waterslide reaches nearly 200 kph on a slope of about 80 degrees, right?)
And more importantly, the world shook once more.
Disaster had not hesitated to jump down from the higher level and his weight had shaken the small floating island.
He said nothing. It was unclear if he even had a mind of his own. They only knew he pursued them into the river and mechanically raised his long tetto. The rapid current would have drowned Beatrice’s group, but it was only waist deep on 5-meter Disaster. He continued after them and attacked.
They were already within his range. If he swung his thick tetto down on the boat they were all crammed inside, at least one of them would be bisected along with the boat and the rest of them would fall into the water. They could never survive that.
Beatrice briefly looked back at that person who looked so much like Boo Boo. She recalled the anger of learning about the attack on the village.
But she raised her rapier.
She held out the tip and gave a roar.
Several balls of light shot out. They were combustible objects the size of soccer balls. They would persistently pursue the enemy at low speed and scatter sticky fire like a Molotov cocktail or naphtha upon contact. They normally played the role of the hound: disturbing and confusing the enemy long enough to finish them off with some other Magic. But its power could be raised at close range by firing several of them together like a shotgun blast.
She had no idea how useful this would be.
The metal boat was already tilting as it began to fall from the next waterfall. Beatrice and Disaster’s attacks shot past their targets without even coming close to hitting.
But even so, the Holy Swordswoman had made an attack of her own free will. She was no longer indirectly attacking by triggering the Traps.
She had used her own hands to attack someone who might have been Boo Boo’s friend or family.
As she yelled, the metal boat carrying them fell.
Those voices rang through the forest.
The palm-sized Fairy sisters named Meridiana and Alice flew after each other near to the ground. While the scene looked heartwarming, Fairies were at the bottom of the food chain, so taking any noticeable actions apart from the group put their lives at risk.
“You were skipping out on paying back Boo Boo again, weren’t you!? Listen, Alice, we need to polish the windows and keep the floors and walls squeaky clean while he’s out.”
“No, I wasn’t just out playing! I’m on an important mission to take you back from Boo Boo the Sister Thief.”
“Alice! Besides, I heard from that bone man that Boo Boo saved you from a Ground Spider!”
“Gh... C-curse that old man. Why’d he have to say that?”
“We Fairies must be faithful to our world of debts and repayment. Now, let’s go. The more sturdy his house, the harder it is to repair. Daily maintenance is crucial if it’s going to last for long.”
“Uuuh!! I don’t wanna!! I understand all that, but I can’t stand letting him have you!!”
“Alice...” Meridiana’s temple twitched for once. “A stubborn girl gets the Tree Hollow Honey!!”
With a dull splat, the older sister stuck a spatula into the pot hanging from her hip and flung something at her little sister’s face. It looked like a translucent yellow ball, but it burst into a sticky goo when it hit her face. Either due to the sped or the viscosity, it provided a surprisingly hard hit for being a liquid.
The more she struggled to get it off, the more the honey tangled around her face and body, so the violet-dressed Fairy’s 4 thin wings grew heavy and she lost her freedom. Her flight grew unstable, so Alice made an emergency landing on a large nearby leaf.
“Ah, agh... That wasn’t very nice...”
Meridiana landed lightly on the same leaf and snorted.
“Alice. Haven’t I always told you what happens to kids who don’t listen? They get covered in so much Tree Hollow Honey that they can’t move. Disobeying the Fairy rules is a frightening thing. Are you prepared to have that happen to you?”
Seeing her sister stick the spatula back into the pot at her hip, Alice fell silent.
“There’s something wrong with you... I bet you’re planning to cover me in honey so Boo Boo can lick it off of me like I’m candy! Asleep or awake, all you ever do is try to get on Boo Boo’s good side!!”
Merdiana’s face grew dramatically red.
“C-c’mon, Alice, you’re being way too imaginative lately! I mean, we Fairies specialize in Craft skills, so it is important to be able to draw out accurate diagrams from our minds, but the idea of covering yourself in honey and letting Boo Boo lick it off of you with his big tongue? I see, I see. That’s not bad. Um, not bad at all. O-of course I only mean that it would make Boo Boo happy and that’s what takes top priority. Eh heh heh heh heh...”
Alice slowly peeled her sticky body from the leaf and waved her tiny hand in front of her sister’s face as Meridiana held her cheeks and shook back and forth. After finding no response, Alice reached for the spatula sticking out of the pot hanging from Meridiana’s hip.
She gathered strength in her gut and shouted with all her might.
“Bad girls get the Tree Hollow Honey!!”
A nice splat came from Meridiana’s face.
Even if it was a liquid, the speed made it a powerful blow.
The primarily vertical chase continued. Boo Boo’s group’s boat moved from waterfall to waterfall to repeatedly fall straight down, but Disaster stepped into the river and walked along the bottom instead of swimming. That gave him a handicap he had to force his way through, but Boo Boo’s group still could not lose him. He was always about 7 or 8 meters behind them. That was close enough that it felt like he would be able to reach out, grab the entire metal boat, and shake it around.
“Beatrice, take care of the driftwood to the side and the stone sticking out!”
“I’m on it, Armelina!!”
The Holy Swordswoman swung her flame rapier from the metal boat and detonated the nearby obstacles. But this was not to secure a route; they were acquiring supplies. Armelina grabbed a few pencil-sized fragments as they flew through the air.
“Okay, now adlib the rest!!”
With that, flames and projectiles sliced through the air. Armelina’s Shining Weapon had become the boat, but that did not mean she was helpless. She could use the muscular strength supported by her Percentage-type equipment and the impact attacks she specialized in were not limited to holding things and swinging them around. There were a lot that involved throwing things as well: boomerangs, bolas, tomahawks, etc.
(The frightening part is that his thick skin can deflect Beatrice’s flames. And unlike Boo Boo, he has no pain or fear. That means our only option is to slice his skin open with a blade and then heat him from within!!)
The spiral of flames and stone blades worked together.
But Disaster maintained the momentum of his pursuit. He let the hard-to-dodge sticky flames hit him, deflected them with his hard skin, and used his tetto to accurately strike down only the sharp projectiles. Countless sparks flew.
“He’s not just predicting the timing of our attacks. Even at this speed, he can determine what kind of attack it will be and respond accordingly!? That’s-...”
Her shocked exclamation was cut off.
With a light sound, a dark red flower blossomed at the center of Armelina’s chest. It was one of the stone blades she had thrown herself. Disaster had not been randomly deflecting them. He had adjusted the angle and speed of his attack to accurately hit them back.
“Armelina!? Oh, honestly!!”
Seeing the Fighter Priest cough up blood and collapse, noncombatant Filinion stopped curling up with her hands on her head and quickly pulled out a small bottle of recovery potion.
And Disaster’s fierce attack did not end there.
Boo Boo suddenly pulled up the giant Shining Weapon he had been using to steer them. Immediately, Disaster swept his tetto horizontally from a distance. It should not have reached. It should have been a meaningless attack. But then a heavy metallic noise burst from Boo Boo’s hands. The girl with silver and red hair widened her eyes.
(He deflected something? But what?)
“Boo!! Beatrice, duck!!”
Each time Disaster swung his tetto, Boo Boo was nearly knocked backwards as he held his Shining Weapon defensively. A white spray burst at the same time. Finally, the Holy Swordswoman caught on.
Disaster’s body was soaked after running through the waist-deep water. And that meant the tetto was as well. Water was dripping from the sides of the weapon.
“This invisible blade...is water? He only has to swing his tetto as hard as he can to send out a horizontal line of water that slices through his surroundings like an industrial cutter!? Is this also how he sliced through the entire Labyrinth floor!?”
With no one to steer it, the boat fell down a waterfall.
Disaster had forcibly used his striking weapon to cut, and now this. His strength had reached a level that overturned some basic assumptions. He could probably slice through armor by melting rather than breaking, just like a tank gun that focused on a single point.
“Cough, cough! Ugh, what the hell was that...?”
“Oh, good. You woke up, Armelina. Wait...gyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!?”
Just as the glasses girl began emulating a white coated angel with a lily lap pillow, she uttered a shrill scream.
“Ahead...up ahead! The boat...this...this!?”
Her thoughts were too scattered to understand, but with Boo Boo handling defense instead of steering, the metal boat was at the mercy of the current. If they chose the wrong course on the amidakuji, they could end up falling several hundred meters straight down.
Beatrice quickly turned toward where they were headed instead of at Disaster behind them.
“There are no more floating islands, so what are we supposed to do!?”
As the tearful White Witch shouted, the bottom of the metal boat collided with a white mountain peak. Disaster had been unable to catch up because the waterfalls had given them near freefall speeds. The mountain river would have a rapid current, but a safe downstream current would not be fast enough. The metal boat would become their coffin.
But then something unexpected happened.
The boat bounced once in the summit waterfall basin and its excess momentum sent it flying right out of the water. They began sliding down the white slope. They picked up speed in no time. With four aboard (including extra-large Boo Boo) and the weight of the metal boat itself, their heavyweight sled was slicing through the wind in the blink of an eye. They had nearly twice the speed of the trip down the waterfalls.
“Gyah, gyah, gyah, gyah!? Th-the wind!! Is this what it’s like on top of a bullet train!?”
“Boo. With things like this...”
Boo Boo stood back up in the metal boat and regained his balance at the back end. He then stabbed his log or steel beam of a Shining Weapon into the snow passing by so quickly. By shifting his weight like on a snowboard and by pushing with the weapon, the sled’s random path gained a definite will.
And Disaster did not wait around.
Armelina held the center of her chest which still felt odd, looked back behind them, and grew speechless.
He was coming. He was coming after them. Disaster had compactly folded his legs below himself as he pursued them like he was skiing down the slope.
But that should not have been possible with just his feet. He would need something to act as skis. They would have to be at least 3 times the length of his feet.
Only one possibility came to mind.
“Did he freeze his own soaked feet? Is that how far you can go when you aren’t alive!?”
Beatrice shouted at the unreasonableness of it all, but there was more. Disaster weaved back and forth in a flattened S-shape. He had not lost control. Similar to what Boo Boo had done, he stuck his giant tetto into the deep snow as he slid along.
And what did that cause?
The snowy slope itself was sliced through, lost its support, and slid down all at once.
“E-eek!? Eeeeeeeeeeek!! What is thaaaat!?”
With an avalanche more than 100 meters across behind him, Disaster pulled his tetto from the snow and directly pursued them once more. He seemed to be bringing a limit wall with him. He might not care since he was not alive, but the rest of them would be wiped out if they were caught in that ferocity.
“Not good. He’s got more speed!”
“Is he built to F1 specs!? How many cylinders does that monster have in his engine!?”
Beatrice immediately threw flames from her rapier. She did not think she could knock out Disaster, but if she melted the line of snow between them, she could reduce his speed.
Disaster immediately made a quick turn and then slid down the steep slope along a path parallel to the metal boat’s. Beatrice continued her interference by firing more flames to blow away the snow along his path.
But Disaster made a slow horizontal swing of his tetto. The water droplets created when the Holy Swordswoman explosively melted the snow were caught on the end of the bladeless sword.
He reversed the sword and an ultra-high speed water blade sliced through the world. Boo Boo once more stopped steering and just barely managed to block it with his log-like Shining Weapon. He bent back from the blow and the metal boat wobbled unsteadily.
“Beatrice, you can’t melt the snow! Oh, honestly! If I could use one of my blunt weapons, I could break apart blocks of the thick snow without melting it!!”
“With those speeds, I bet he could turn snow or sand into a blade too!”
“M-more importantly, where should we go!? This slope won’t continue forever!!”
They had only lucked across the snowy slope, but they would be helpless once the snow and slope ended. Things were bad enough while on the run, so they could imagine how bad things would be if Disaster actually caught up.
The overwhelming difference in weight meant Boo Boo had to steer the metal boat and he gave an answer while keeping his Shining Weapon warily raised.
“Somewhere without living things.”
“Well, I doubt there are many living things in the perpetual snow up here...”
“No, not that. ...If what she said is true, there should be a red swampy place in this mountain!!”
They did not have time to sit around and think. Boo Boo’s group and Disaster entered a forest of towering conifer trees. Their speed race gained a slalom element in which they made small evasions while keeping any speed loss to a minimum.
“Gyahh! Gyaaahhh! Ugyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”
The glasses girl screamed with tears and snot covering her face. Beatrice understood how she felt, but it was hurting her ears. She strongly prayed that the other girl would happen across a lovely romance and soon.
Disaster ran down the slope parallel to them, but he showed no sign of hitting the trees. He kept moving left and right to avoid the thick trunks while searching for the optimal attack position.
“Not good. The thick foliage means our altitude is dropping. Isn’t the snow going to end soon!?”
“More importantly, if these trees have fruit, he can get the moisture he needs with a tetto slash. Watch out for that blade!!”
Beatrice motivated her partners, but they were close to cornered. Unlike before, Boo Boo needed to constantly steer for their slaloming avoidance of the trees. With his Shining Weapon sticking shallowly into the snow, he could not use it for defense. Filinion and Armelina could not join the fight for a variety of reasons, so Beatrice had to defend against the water blade on her own.
Could she do that?
Could she really defend everyone without Boo Boo’s support? She gulped as Disaster finally made his move. He swung his giant tetto and crudely swept away the tree branches.
The leaves contained moisture, but it was so little it could not wet the tip of your tongue, much less your throat.
Nevertheless, if that moisture reached his sword...
(Here it comes!!!!!!)
The Holy Swordswoman clenched her teeth and held her rapier horizontally in a Magic pose never seen in actual sword fighting.
Boo Boo spoke in a low voice with his back to her.
“Boo. We’ve finally arrived, Sutriona.”
That name was unexpected, but then they all noticed the conifer forest clear away. No, they had left an environment that could support plant life. What awaited them here? The dark redness gave off a strange odor and bubbled stickily like a witch’s cauldron even when the surrounding snow suggested it should be frozen. The oddity was the size of a small lake and Beatrice exclaimed its identity.
As they ran parallel to each other, both Boo Boo’s group and Disaster entered that dark red hell simultaneously.
With her skinny body wrapped in large tropical leaves like a leaf swimsuit, Sutriona continued to enjoy the sauna at Boo Boo’s house. She had hopped back up onto the bench that looked like a wall at its size. She had been left with the key since Boo Boo was not in the habit of locking up. It could be unclear who truly owned the house, but since Boo Boo only wore a loincloth with zero pockets, it was obvious he would only drop it in the mountains somewhere if it was left with him.
“Yeah, this is great. Nothing quite like a sauna after a job well done. I just hope Boo Boo notices the Womb Pot when he sees those milky-white fireworks. Also, I was pretty muscular in life and my wife hated it when I got all sweaty, so I’d avoided doing this for such a long time.”
“Don’t just show up and start talking about your wife, Mr. Bones. You really haven’t changed at all. You still don’t listen to anything anyone tells you. And what good is a sauna for a Skeleton?”
“Oh, shut up. You’re the one that made a toxic bog out of the date spot where I first seduced my wife. What are we supposed to do about that? The Thousand Dragon’s mother is still sleeping in the deepest part, you know?”
“Mh. Well, sorry about that. I don’t know who this wife of yours is, though,” said the flushed Fairy Queen sitting on the bench. “I might have been pissed back then, but I really shouldn’t have placed a toxic lid on that spring of life. I need to be more careful.”
Boo Boo’s group in their metal boat and Disaster on his ice skis charged out onto the dark red toxic bog. They ignored the avalanche approaching from behind. As soon as it reached the toxic bog, the white wall was devoured until it disappeared.
Not even the powerful body of an Iberian Orc would survive in a sea of Sutriona’s special-made toxins. The girls would be killed instantly. Not even their Percentage-type support would help much.
But at the same time, the metal boat and ice skis would not sink that easily. Not at this speed anyway. Boo Boo’s group and Disaster remained parallel to each other as they hopped along the water’s surface like two stones thrown by kids seeing who could skip theirs over the water the most times. If they kept their momentum going, they would reach the opposite coast of this hell.
But they would not let that happen.
Boo Boo gave a yell.
The Holy Swordswoman swung her rapier once more. Instead of a reckless defense, she made a definite attack. Disaster also prepared to attack using the tetto with the tree moisture on it.
Fire and water.
The two surged out above the dark red bog.
Aiming was easy since they could not take much evasive action while essentially skipping across the water. And while Disaster was alone, Beatrice had her companions with her.
So even if both their attacks were on target, they would not both be taken out.
As Beatrice went all out, Boo Boo caught the water blade on his giant Shining Weapon to protect her. Meanwhile, the flame attack scored a solid hit on Disaster.
His thick skin may have been able to deflect it, but the extent of the damage did not matter now. If the impact pushed him at all, he would lose his balance while skipping across the water.
There was a dark red explosion.
That was the result of Disaster’s giant body forgetting to run across the water and slamming into the sticky hell. He had been hit by Filinion’s failed potion in the Labyrinth and that seemed to have had some effect. And this was the toxin produced by one of the Break News. He would never escape unscathed.
“Grab on, Beatrice! Filinion and Armelina, too!!”
The metal boat finally arrived on the other side of the toxic bog. Boo Boo stabbed his thick Shining Weapon deep into the snow to slam on the brakes.
“Wah, wah. There’s a bubbling sound coming from the bottom of the boat!? Hop off now!”
Everyone did as Filinion insisted. Sutriona’s toxin was made to burn away people’s rational minds, but its behavior seemed to change at this concentration.
After finally returning her Shining Weapon from boat to metal staff, Armelina asked the Holy Swordswoman to disinfect it with her flames.
“But if that stuff is enough to melt a metal boat, we should be able to relax-...”
She trailed off.
They watched as something burst from the thick, dark red bog.
It was an incredibly burly arm that was still wholly intent on attacking even after being partially eaten away.
That thick skin had deflected Beatrice’s flames and those powerful muscles had turned water droplets into a deadly weapon at the swing of a tetto, but in that short time, holes had been eaten in them as they melted away, revealing white bone in places.
That true disaster continued his march.
The tetto he held was barely recognizable as his head and torso emerged from the dark red water even as they melted away. He rose onto land. Disaster unsteadily returned while giving off a chemical smoke not caused by simple heat.
“Eek? Hgyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!? B-Boo Boo, Beatrice, hurry! Hurry up and do something!!”
Filinion fell onto her butt in the snow and screamed. Armelina raised her Shining Weapon, realized the metal staff was still coated in a dangerous substance, and clicked her tongue.
But Beatrice was different.
She looked to the horrific remains of someone who may have laughed and cried alongside Boo Boo at one time and she weakly lowered the tip of her rapier.
“Right. I’m fine, Beatrice.”
Living Boo Boo faced dead Disaster.
“Let’s end this.”
It may have been a meaningless question. That lump of protein could only obediently carry out the commands he received, so even if he could understand people’s words, he may have lacked the mind needed to comprehend the feelings behind them.
“Your souls are all here. So you don’t need to feel lonely. I promise I’ll return you all to normal. I trust that we can all smile again in that village again.”
But Disaster did stop moving for just a moment. His body slowly moved to the side and he lowered the tetto to the ground. Boo Boo did the same. As Beatrice and the others watched, their weapons slowly drew a large circle.
After a full circuit, they took a step inside the circle.
Then Disaster slowly raised his half-melted tetto vertically as if to bring it to his broken tusk. It was too meaningless an act to call it a fighting stance. Perhaps the optimal routines moving the corpse had gone haywire due to Sutriona’s toxin. But for some reason, Beatrice did not see it that way. She did not want to reach that conclusion.
Was this a tradition of that lost village?
Boo Boo also raised his weapon vertically and he slightly touched it to the side of his impressive tusk.
“I bet this right tusk.”
There was no response, but there had to be a meaning there.
He had accepted Boo Boo as a formidable opponent, as a bearer of pride and dignity.
In the tradition of their duel, Boo Boo declared what would influence the outcome.
“So you stop right here! Stop and rest in peace!!”
The snow exploded at their extra-large feet. Boo Boo and Disaster raced forward to clash at the midpoint. The battle had already begun. Disaster breathed smoke, swung his half-melted tetto at frightening speed, and wielded the melted steel like an infinitely extending blade. He sliced through the trunks of the surrounding trees as easily as paper, but he could not hit Boo Boo. As Boo Boo ran, his Shining Weapon knocked down attack after attack.
Once they reached each other, the time of reckoning had arrived.
This battle took place inside the circle they had drawn.
They would not attempt to stretch this out into an extended battle.
The duel came down to an instant.
Disaster’s tetto had already been eaten away by the toxin, so its usual sturdiness had fragilely crumbled. Boo Boo’s Shining Weapon roared in. Disaster chose to mechanically defend against the overhead attack, but his tetto broke when it caught it.
Boo Boo’s attack’s momentum remained.
It continued on toward his foe’s half-melted head.
The last of the Iberian Orcs did not shut his eyes in the final moment. He watched it all and felt it in his wrists.
It produced a dull sound.
Disaster stood stock still until he slowly collapsed backwards.
Nothing at all.
“D-did that do it...?” hesitantly asked Filinion.
But Boo Boo did not answer.
He looked silently down at Disaster who lay entirely motionless where he had collapsed. There was no doubting the outcome. That mass of flesh would never move again, either as a member of the living or of the dead.
Beatrice started to speak but trailed off. She finally realized what part of Disaster he was looking at: the loincloth.
It looked like Disaster simply had a rough rag wrapped around his waist like Boo Boo, but there was something odd at one end: a small applique made to look like a pig head.
Had traces of something remained inside that mass of flesh? Or had something new grown there? No one could answer that now because anything there had been lost.
But they could take a guess.
Disaster had not simply been obeying external commands. He may have had a warm fragment of something that let him make a decision that ignored logic and efficiency.
The Shining Weapon dropped from Boo Boo’s hand with a dull thud.
He knew the answer now.
He understood what he had taken with his own hands.
Boo Boo looked up into the heavens and wept like a child. He had killed one of his own. These were the wails of one who bore that sin for those dear to him. It broke the heart of all who heard it.
She was boiling now.
Beatrice’s head had completely boiled over.
All consequences vanished from her mind. The difference in strength did not matter. Only one thing filled the Holy Swordswoman’s heart: getting even with the mastermind who had trampled on the Iberian Orcs’ deaths, robbed them of all dignity, and made her good friend cry like that.
She returned to the Labyrinth alone.
The Sage may have sent Beatrice’s group out of the Labyrinth with the Teleportation Trap Wall in order to buy enough time to clear out her base. Letting this chance get away would leave them with no way of finding her again. And then she would laugh at them from hiding once more. There would be no stopping her then.
Without even considering the possibility that the many Traps might trigger again, Beatrice blew down the hidden door and the wall around it using fire Magic. When she stepped inside she found the woman still looking like an imprisoned princess. The owner of the giant library still wore the gothic lolita dress with her arms and a leg shackled and her head in a juicer.
“Oh, did Disaster lose? He was useful, but now I’m going to be lonely.”
“Don’t screw with me!!!!!!”
“Stop it. Directly fighting with Magic isn’t my specialty.”
The Sage spoke calmly as the level cap warrior raged at her.
“And that’s why I always end up choosing trickier methods.”
A fierce attack immediately began.
The silver shackles and metal band around her arms fell away with a refreshing sound.
Just as the black gothic lolita dress’s sleeves and skirt fluttered up, several knives could be seen in the Sage’s hands. They were not just for stabbing. At the very moment the falling shackles hit the floor, flames burst from the bottom of the thrown knives, mechanical flaps wriggled along the small guards, and they pursued Beatrice from multiple angles like flying serpents.
These were miniature rockets built as a proof of concept before building a life-size one. Even at pencil-size, they could be launched with the power of gunpowder and they could be made into lethal weapons by attaching a blade to the front.
Elkiad had used firearms powered by gunpowder, but the technological level on display here was much greater. Beatrice could not even imagine what they used for the homing and guidance calculations.
But the Holy Swordswoman had reached the level cap and claimed things only truly began once you reached Level 99. This was not enough to daunt her and she used her rapier to accurately strike down the 7 poisonous fangs. And then she roared.
Fire wings burst from her back and she shot across the giant library. She moved right up to the Sage all at once to wipe off the smile in her eyes which could only produce hatred.
Meanwhile, the woman in the gothic lolita dress and silver head juicer was not at all tense.
She calmly swung a hand and multiple long, clockwork objects burst from within the dress.
They were not staffs or spears.
The long metal handles were attached to large metal rings that used a structure somewhat like handcuffs to capture someone’s torso or neck using springs. Small spikes covered the inside of the rings, so they were based on the infamous man catchers used to walk prisoners around in dark medieval prisons.
More and more of the rings closed around and bound various parts of Beatrice’s body: neck, torso, right arm, and left thigh. But it would not end there. The Sage had no real reason to keep her prisoner alive.
Beatrice sensed danger like static electricity on the nape of her neck.
It came from the thumb-sized spikes covering the inside of the metal rings.
All of them worked to destroy the captured flesh using the power of gunpowder.
This devilish weapon safely captured the target and then attacked them from point-blank range once they could not escape. Plus, the Elkiad battle had already proven that Beatrice could be injured by bullets.
“I told you not to screw with me.”
With intense heat surrounding her, the Holy Swordswoman remained unscathed. The gunpowder had detonated, but the metal spike bullets had not fired. The great heat had melted the surface of the metal and fused them with the man catchers themselves.
No, it went beyond that.
The man catchers restraining Beatrice were melted and blown away. With her freedom secured, Beatrice used her empty left hand to forcefully grab the Sage’s collar.
Even as the fabric grew scorched, the Sage’s expression remained unchanged. It was as if she would not bat an eye even if the world came to an end.
“Are you angry?”
“You seem to be pretty dumb for someone known as the Sage. ...Do I look anything but angry?”
“And yet you did not accept the advice of those benevolent bones who remained attached to the world of the living even after his flesh and blood were stripped away. Didn’t he tell you revealing my face would only bring you misfortune?”
Beatrice’s anger shifted up another gear.
The girl turned up the firepower of the hand holding the Sage’s collar. The intense heat burned away the Sage’s gothic lolita dress. It was like burning her alive. In fact, it was enough to blow away the silver fetter and the juicer on her head. The Holy Swordswoman gave no thought to what would happen to the human inside.
Unless the Sage had 100% Fire Resistance, she should have been screaming and writhing in pain. However...
“I warned. Thrice even. But you made this decision regardless, so the blame lies squarely on your own shoulders.”
She was unharmed.
She was so perfectly unscathed that she seemed to glow brightly.
With the dress and head juicer reduced to no more than embers, long silver and red hair, blue eyes, and white skin were revealed. She wore a miniskirt and light armor that looked like a suit of armor cut down to size. The only odd aspect of the red glowing woman was the Shining Weapon at her right hip. It was likely based on a one-handed sword, but the pieces of many broken, shattered, and destroyed Shining Weapons had been gathered up and forcibly pieced together into that shape. It was entirely inorganic, yet the creepiness and disgust of seeing it hit Beatrice even harder than it had with the monster made by reusing the Iberian Orc corpses.
A certain rule existed: humans could not remain in Ground’s Nir for long. And they required a Shining Weapon to Sign Out through a Gate.
So if she had gathered together that many broken weapons...
“Whose do you think these were? No, who do you think could not return?”
It was like seeing a collection of human corpses stuffed as trophies. Her eyes glowed brightly as she uttered crazed words.
“I said before that directly fighting with Magic isn’t my specialty, didn’t I?”
She was a little taller, the bewitching light in her eyes was greater, and her body had sexily filled out from her younger days as a girl.
“That is because I might carelessly obliterate my opponent. But if you insist we go there, I will not hold back.”
Altogether, the Sage who stood before Holy Swordswoman Beatrice was...
Long-Lived Royal Elf Sibyl's Live News☆
Attack Report: I Built a Grave in the Forest
Today I’ve come to the toxic bog that Sutriona made. I have confirmed the destruction of tentative codename Disaster. He was only a makeshift doll and we had already concluded that he could not lead to the resurrection of the Iberian Orcs...but it’s still kind of sad.
It’s unfortunate that we lost him before we could reach a final answer as to what resided within him, but that aside, the defeat of Gatekeeper Disaster means the path to the Labyrinth base has been opened. She is coming. I’ll leave it to you how to deal with that, but if you’re going to do it, be thorough. Don’t let yourself be influenced by unnecessary emotion.
I will take care of Disaster’s remains. After sterilizing it...oh, I know. How about I bury him where the village used to be?
Okay, I think I’ll end my live news report here.
...It originally belonged to one of the humans who lost their lives challenging the Labyrinth, but this Shining Weapon you collected and repaired is quite interesting. Since I am a proud Royal Elf, I can’t use human Magic no matter what we do, but these news reports have been a lot of fun.
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