Chapter 256, The Possibilities
We have been doing well for ourselves, flying all over the place.
Chappie’s exploits have been especially remarkable; one time, he had played the main role in our difficult battle against an SS-ranked monster.
The victory we had basked in was quite an exhilarating thing to experience.
Considering how he concentrated his efforts on providing guidance to and relieving the plight of people in all settlements along the way, I suppose he already was a hero of justice in his own right.
I may have kept my voice low and quiet, but I was putting a great deal of weight into the words themselves.
After all, it was the same for Ferris; she couldn’t make herself say those words upfront, either.
And Chappie, while embarrassed, would always keep his head held high and accept all the gratitude he would get.
His doing so did make him resemble Shiro, if only a little, and his insistence to successfully solve every situation reminded me quite a bit of Instructor Poer.
Even without any actual biological relation, they were always connected — such was family, I suppose.
Now, our aforementioned victory had been just a few days ago.
We have gone around to assist many settlements over the past months, and at one point, by the time we had forgotten exactly how much we had done, we found ourselves caught in an intense earthquake.
Everything shook violently; Ferris and I cowered in terror, as if our very hearts were being crushed.
“Ah… aa… ahh…!”
Ferris was normally strong-willed, but now she was almost sobbing, and unable to even let out a scream.
Every strand of my hair stood on end, and I felt a chill jolt through my body.
This was, most likely, the signal of the Devil King’s return.
In which case, this pulse of fear must have hit all of humanity, all at once.
Amid the seemingly ceaseless aura of pressuring energy, all of us could not make even a single move.
“…Ch-Cha… CHAPPIE… MASKKKKKK!!”
Chappie, though still shaking, forced out a scream.
He grabbed the collars of my and Ferris’ shirts with his beak, lifted us up, and ascended high into the sky in the blink of an eye.
“H-hey! What do you think you’re doing!”
Chappie then threw us slightly upward, letting us land safely on his back.
Ferris and I looked at each other, confused, and then turned to Chappie’s head.
He looked like he was not taking this well, either, what with him still being short of breath.
Still, despite that, he was putting us in the maximum priority.
“Ha… hah… hahahaha! How’s that, Bright, Ferris! You’re not feeling the ground shake anymore, right!”
It was now when we finally understood Chappie’s course of action.
Not physically feeling the earthquake made the somewhat more bearable… It was such a simple, instinctive concept, and so extremely significant — and it was what saved us.
Just a few sentences from Chappie, and the ‘slight’ inspiration it had brought us, was enough to spur us back into action and created us some peace of mind.
This was… just like how ‘those two’ would do things.
“…Thank you, Chappie!”
This time, the words came out naturally — so refreshing, and so much easier than trying to force them out.
Thanking Chappie in such a situation was… something my past self, from before I had met Instructor Poer, would never even imagine happening.
“Hmph! Pretty good job, for a chicken!”
Ferris’ momentary smile turned back into her grumpy face… which was normal for her, but this sort of expression shift had been happening more often as of late.
“Hmph! I’m not Chappie, and not a chicken, either! Remember, I am… Chappie Mask!”
Chappie Mask, the hero of justice… Before I knew it, he had grown quite large, and become such a reliable ally among us.
Instructor… we are staying strong and alive… and of course, we will continue to do so.
We went on to help out more settlements in need, each and every one of us improving and gaining more understanding of our roles.
By the time we were able to effectively battle against SS-ranked monsters, something strange happened to Chappie…
“Bright, feast your eyes on this…”
Chappie told me as he raised up his right wing.
His feathers were, as usual, in a beautiful deep purple.
The sunlight from behind the mountain’s summit shone in such a way that further highlighted his colors.
Hmm I didn’t see anything different, though… What was Chappie trying to say
“My feathers are standing on end…!”
“There’s no way we can see that!!”
Ferris, listening in on us with a great deal of curiosity as she ate her bread, knocked her fist on Chappie’s head, making a strangely pleasant sound.
“…That hurt, Ferris.”
“The reveal was so underwhelming! I was so curious, I teel you — because you keep saying things like ‘feather power level over nine thousand’ and all that jazz!”
Ignoring how good of a comedic timing that had been… I had to agree; with how thick Chappie’s feathers were, no one could possibly see them stand on end.
And even if they were clearly visible, they would be just like goosebumps anyway; what was there to be excited about
…Wait, no, perhaps it would be interesting to see
Looking at the big picture here… Chappie DID look somewhat thicker and fluffier than usual.
So THAT was how one could tell that his feathers were standing on end
I promptly stood up and looked around.
Ferris, noticing my reaction, looked in the opposite direction and readied her rod.
“Chappie! Do you feel anything approaching!”
“Ngh… I might have had this ominous feeling before…”
“Is it an enemy! Something you’ve fought in the past!”
Ferris was trembling, as apparent from her voice.
And so both her and I finally detected what Chappie had felt moments ago.
An ominous feeling that Chappie had had before… That was the key.
Considering that, there were not many options to draw from — something that Chappie had confronted in the past, and one that left a strong impression.
And adding into consideration how quickly he had detected this arcane energy signature… there was only a single opponent that fit.
Ferris must have noticed as well, what with her having looked at it before, feeling the pressure and dread with her very own body.
That must be why she was trembling now — so much so that I could tell without even having to look at her.
“…There it is.”
Chappie put on his sunglasses and looked into the distance.
Ferris and I promptly looked in that direction as well.
The closer it got, the more pressure we felt… We could tell that all too well, what with how much stronger we had become.
This thing we were looking at… its strength could be felt quite clearly.
Compared to me, Ferris, and even Chappie, this thing was still slightly… no, MUCH stronger.
“And I thought we’d be able to take it on somehow… That giant bird has got to be cheating the system, I swear…”
Ferris started complaining, a rare gesture coming from her.
I suppose such a reaction was only expected in the face of this creature — Shi’shichou the Violet Phoenix.
“We meet again…”
The one and only Violet Phoenix, one of the Sacred Beasts of Legends, spoken of in fairy takes… It was already incomprehensible how we were still standing at all, but perhaps this meant we had a chance at victory if we were to combine our strengths…!
“You two, don’t make a move…”
Chappie made the most incomprehensible statement while I was occupied with my own thoughts.
…Did I hear that right
“W-what are you, stupid! We’re at a disadvantage here — we should fight together! Why do you want to fight it alone!”
I was in complete agreement with Ferris — Chappie’s statement had been too irrational.
The best course of action, at least on paper, was to put up a fight, and escape at the first opportunity we saw.
Despite there being no other viable options, Chappie had opted for a duel.
A foolish choice.
“The young human woman is right… But if that is what you want, then I won’t object to it.”
“Look, I know you’re here just for me.
Stick to your plan and don’t do anything unnecessary.”
“Sense of duty and emotional attachment over honor… the humans have raised you to be so naive, I see.
But very well — I am indeed here only to enforce the Commandment of our kind.
The humans behind you shall not be involved.”
Once we realized what Chappie’s intentions were, we were shocked and at a loss for words.
We were not being let go, nor were we escaping with our lives.
It was a trade — Chappie had agreed to the Violet Phoenix enforcing its Commandment, in exchange for it pretending that we weren’t even here.
By the time Ferris managed to say something, it was already too late.
Chappie and the Violet Phoenix had spread their wings and flew off.
They were heading toward the summit of a nearby mountain…
“H-hey, Bright! What do we do now! If we let things go on, the chicken’s gonna be killed, right!”
“Y-yes, most likely…”
“That’s all you have to say! Bright, do you even realize what’s going on right now!”
This situation was the best outcome — was what Chappie had thought when he’d acted the way he had.
“They couldn’t have gone too far yet, so maybe we could chase them–“
Not that doing that would change anything.
Attempt to help Chappie out, and the Violet Phoenix was sure to mercilessly slaughter us.
We would be running to our deaths.
This wasn’t something we were meant to involve ourselves in.
“–We’ve got to do something! Things will work out in the end, I’m sure!”
No, no wishful thinking… Our top priority was to escape with our lives.
I knew that.
So why… why…
“Come on, Bright!”
…Why were my legs not moving
Ferris’ shrill yells echoed in my head as she shook me by my shoulders.
“…Can you shut up for a few minutes I’m thinking…”
Unintentionally letting out what I truly thought, I ended up rendering Ferris speechless with surprise, but now was not the time to worry about that.
Chappie’s was in danger.
And it was our fault…!
We had all been doing our best ever since our departure from home.
And now, the very life of Chappie, one of our friends, was at stake.
For some reason, the only logical action, ‘escape,’ had completely disappeared from the list of options in my head.
But what other options were there I couldn’t figure it out no matter how much I scratched my non-itching head.
Why Well, I suppose I shouldn’t ask — some things were just meant to not be understood.
…No, no unnecessary question — all that needed answers now was HERE, not THERE.
Other than escaping with our lives… we could intervene; help Chappie out.
However, we currently had no means of doing so SUCCESSFULLY.
Ferris looked at me, seeming somewhat hesitant to speak.
Had my… brief outburst just now made that much of an impact on her
…Now I regretted not trying that much earlier in our acquaintanceship.
“Got any ideas yet Maybe we can get help from a nearby settlement…”
No, that was too simple-minded.
The nearest settlement was one we had helped earlier.
It was extremely unlikely that they, who had needed help from us, would have the power to help us.
No… impossible, even.
……On second thought, I had been taught to never deny all possibilities.
…Taught But by whom
Sister …No, not her.
Master Polco …Definitely not.
Who else …Oh, I remembered…
It was during one of Shiro and Instructor Poer’s usual banters…
“H-hey, Master! Why are you drawing on my belly! And what’s with this awful artwork, anyway!”
“Shut up, furball! It’s a diagram for my new magic spell! And I’m doing this because I don’t have paper, that’s why!”
“THAT’S IT! That’s why you’re drawing this shoddy Spell Circle on my fluffy, white belly fur! This is why you won’t ever stop being a fool, Master!”
“Yeah, and when being a fool becomes the desired norm in the world, I’m gonna be the most popular guy ever!”
“That’s never going to happen, sir!”
“The world woulda boring place if we deny all possibilities! I won’t deny it! And I won’t write it off until I’m a hundred percent sure it’s not gonna happen! Don’t you think so as well, Master Bright!”
“Eh… well…… hahaha…”
Again and again with their absolute nonsense, both of them.
I’m not yet tired of it, no — and that fact serves to further irritate me.
But considering how that strange memory has brought us this far, to the top of this mountain… the world sure works in mysterious ways.
“The southeast should be… that way, yes”
“It should be… but why do you ask Is there something over that way”
Ferris turned to the southeast just as I did.
“While we’ve been wandering somewhat aimlessly, and despite us sometimes reaching as far as north of Brunnera, our general direction has always been south… So, going by my estimates, we must be close to the uncharted south now.
After all, that was always where we were headed toward whenever we weren’t sidetracked…”
Ferris seems to understand the point I wanted to get across.
“It’s closer than expected… Our destination, the town of Sodom…”
“Now hold your horses… you do remember that it’s a constant battlefield, right The signal interference is too strong — your Telepathic Call won’t reach them even from here!”
“…Now, the world would be such a boring place if we were to deny all possibilities, Ferris!”
Not stopping to listen to Ferris’ further denial, I quickly drew a Circle for the Telepathic Call magecraft.
I have to keep calm, because both my mental state and the environment’s stability have direct effects on how easy it is for Telepathic Calls to connect.
Instructor Poer had also taught me that.
With the Devil King resurrected… it’s highly likely that the resulting shock has improved Sodom region’s overall conditions, rather than worsen.
After all, normal warriors and mages are not strong enough to withstand the surge of arcane energy, which means that Instructor Poer was sure to have done something to help them out… Because that’s how he has always been.
In other words, it is likely that at the present, the town of Sodom is not affected by the Devil King’s arcane energy as much as most other settlements, villages, and towns.
[“Instructor! …Please respond, Instructor! …Huh”]
[“–Hello, and thank you for contacting the town of Sodom.
This is a pre-recorded message from Poer, Holy Warrior and Grand Philosopher.
I currently am heading northwest, after the presence of the Violet Phoenix, and thus cannot immediately respond.
Those who need to speak with me, please try redirecting your signal and reconnecting the call.
Hello, and thank you for contacting the town of Sodom.
This is a pre-recorded message from Poer, Holy Warrior and Grand Philosopher–“]
…The possibilities truly are messing with us.