~~An Unmarked Day During the First Month, Ninety-Fourth Year of the War Demon Calendar~~
After sending some boorish-voice-messages to Melchi from Tūs, Pochi and I continued on our way to Beilanea.
Heading south from Royal Capital Regalia for two days, we had first arrived at Radeata, located midway between Regalia and Beilanea.
We had rested in Radeata for one night, so we should have reached Beilanea by the night of the fifteenth… yes, should have.
But as the night encroached, just when I thought we were only a few hours away from Beilanea, Pochis nose detected an anomaly in the air.
“Master, its Lina!”
“Yes, and also… the stench of blood…”
“…Just from Lina”
Chances are, Betty and Blazer are also with him.”
Which means they must have sustained major injuries while out hunting.
Weve got to hurry!
“Go, Pochi! I choose you!”
I hopped on Pochis back and tried to contact Lina, but for whatever reason, I couldnt invoke the Telepathic Call magecraft.
“Huh Whyd the tele not connect”
“Did you already forget, Master Youve put a magecraft effect on your sensory nerves to jam telepathic communication!”
“…Did you actually forget that, sir”
“I might have forgotten that, yes!”
“Hah, I feel so sorry for Lina now, sir…”
“Hmm Did you say something”
“Just hurry and call her, sir! Dont just sit there like a damned fool!”
Bah, what in the world is she so angry about this time
“Rise, A-rise, Restriction Cancel!”
[“Lina! Lina! Can you hear me!”]
“Master! Hows it look, sir!”
“Wait, theres something like that equipped on me! Lets hurry and turn it on, sir!”
“No! Its called placebo!”
“You damned liar!”
Right as Pochi cursed at me, her running speed dropped drastically.
“Huh, the effects wore out already.
Rise, A-rise, All Up! Hurry, Pochi!”
I applied one of Tūs original support magic spells onto Pochi.
Now back to her wind-shredding speed, Pochi howled aggressively as she ran in the direction of Linas scent.
It didnt take long after that for Pochi to detect the scent of a few others – this time, of my dearly missed classmates.
“Yes – Idéa and Midors are also with him! And another acquaintance of ours, I think… but I dont quite recognize the smell! Oh, no…!”
“Everyones in trouble!”
“Can you make it in time!”
“Of course! Breaking my limits!”
“…I see them!”
“We need to be there as soon as possible! Im going all out!”
Having said that, Pochi gritted her teeth and held her breath as she almost instantaneously accelerated to the top speed.
What entered my eyes were Hornel and his team, all collapsed on the ground.
Surrounding them were… bandits!
But then Pochi decided to tackle the apparently-magically-constructed wall of dirt before us head-on.
I clung to Pochi as the wall crumbled, and was bathed from head to toe by the dirt and sand in the wind.
Its bitter as all hell! -Oops, nows not the time.
Ive got to sweep up the guys around Hornels group first.
So I fired balls of condensed arcane energy at the four men, instantly depleting their MP.
That was a spell that forced consumption of arcane energy, the Magic Drain.
With this excellent spell, one could deal with warrior opponents quite well if they used it in appropriate timings.
The four men, with their MP completely drained, lost their consciousnesses and crashed down where they stood.
That was a special case symptom incurred by losing a great amount of MP at once, as opposed to slowly consuming it throughout the day.
With that done, I would say there was one less thing to immediately worry about.
Pochi didnt stop there, running on straight ahead… and passing through the crowd of countless enemies.
“Hey, you just ran past him!”
“Well, its not my fault, sir! Wasnt this your idea of showing off, Master!”
Wasnt that Maüs Oh, I see, so the Laughing Foxes are at it again…
Betty, her face looking incredibly pale.
Thats got to be neurotoxin… and judging from the specific symptoms, it had been made from the toxicant of Easter Frogs, a monster found in the eastern regions.
Blazer and Bruce… looked healthy enough.
Their bloody snot bubble swelled up and burst, like that was supposed to be some kind of joke routine.
And Lina was practically crying a waterfall.
Her t.h.i.g.h was bleeding, and her face… also incredibly pale, like Betty.
Curses, he dared to lay his hands on my excellent pupil… Ill never forgive him!
“Watch out, yall… were gonna do the thing!”
“Yeah, that thing!”
“Y-you… from back then!”
“Maüs, is I remember correctly I see you havent mended your ways! Have you no shame!”
“Youre even more pathetic than my Master, I say! …Oh, now I feel so sorry for him, Master!”
Ah, Pochi, you know me so well…
“Shut up! Take another step, and your friends heads will come right off their bodies!”
“Youre sounding cheap as hell, you know that! I know youre pretty strong, so try getting a decent vocabulary to go with it, too!”
“I feel so sorry for you, thief!”
“…Ugh, looks like youll never stop talking like that unless someone dies for real.
Maüs ordered for Bruce to be executed, and the thief behind Bruce promptly brandished his blade.
Pochi grinned, signaling me to take action.
The Laughing Foxes members, all at once, were taken aback.
“Uh – I havent prepared it yet, though!”
“Youre kidding, right!”
“Yeah, Im kidding! Rise! Title Lock! Code: Laughing Foxes!”
That very moment, Maüs dropped Lina onto the ground, then the other members, one after another, dropped their weapons and were frozen in place.
Maüs expression warped as he struggled harder to fight the petrification.
“Gah-! Wh-whats… this…”
“I call it a binding barrier spell.
Ive confirmed far beforehand that you are all members of the Laughing Foxes, so Ive made it so that the spell targets only those with the title.”
“What the… hell… thats ridiculous…!”
“And Ive planned it so that Pochi can help out every one of us while Im talking to you here.”
“Yes, I am! …Wait, Im supposed to carry everyone!”
But you didnt do anything but clap your paws! Damn it!
“”No, well be fine.””
“Ooh, its the bloody snot bubble duo!”
“What the hell did you just call me!”
I called out Bloody Snot A and Bloody Snot B, prompting them to wipe their noses and regaining their respectable Blazer and Bruce images.
Bruce didnt seem to be hurt, but Blazer seemed to have taken quite a hit.
The nerve toxin, most likely.
The damage wouldnt be major in the long run, but how did he counteract it so quickly
“The antidote I hid in my cheek sure came in handy this time.”
“Dude, youve prepared something like that, too!”
“Being well-prepared results in no worries, my friend.”
…Blazers as serious as ever, I see.
I still could learn a thing or two from him, but concealing antidote within my own body is a bit too risky for my taste.
I would end up being poisoned instead if I consumed it accidentally, after all.
Oh, Ive got to help Linas crew! Lets see, the ones who were poisoned… Lina, Betty, Hornel, Idéa, Midors… wait, is that Egd! Okay, so a total of six.
“Rise, Recover Count 6 & Remote Control!”
With all five of my right fingers and one left finger, I sent six Spell Circles flying off.
Controlling their moves, I first sent two of them to Lina and Betty, stopping them on top of their heads.
“One of your weird spells again”
“Its called a split invocation.
With this, I can invoke several different spells at once.
And – Rise!”
After sending the last Circle to Hornel, who was located farthest from me, I supplied them with the necessary arcane energy for invocation.
Everyone had their bodies enveloped in yellow light, which then quickly faded away.
Bruce and Blazer proceeded to finish off the members of the Laughing Foxes, just as they had done at the Labyrinth of No Return.
Ill never get used to seeing peoples deaths, will I…
Suddenly, two warm, gentle hands clung to my back.
The sobbing voice from just below my shoulder height was the voice Pochi and I recognized the best.
“A… ah… Sir Asley…”
“H-hey there, Lina.
Its good to see youre safe.”
“I… I… heard your voice all along…”
Linas voice turned hoarse as she clung to the mantle on my back, covering her face with it.
She wasnt gripping me hard, but it felt as if a movement restriction far worse than Title Lock had been put on me.
Seeking assistance, I glanced at Pochi, but all she did was wink back before running to Betty instead.
Bruce and Blazer didnt seem to be in the mood to play along, either.
Damn it, you guys just had to ignore me now of all times…
For now, I could only heal Lina a little more with the recovery magic that had been activated at her feet.
“Uh – I didnt recognize you at first, you know.
Youve gotten quite beautiful, Lina.”
“And I heard youve become the Student Council President.
“Thats what Id expect from the Silent Witch.
Sir Gaston gave you that nickname, right”
“Uh, I think its about time you let go, Lina”
Now shes gripping my mantle even more tightly.
Just when I thought shed never let go for quite a while, a certain young mans shout suggested to me otherwise.
“AAAAAHHHHH! Miss Lina is crying!!!”
Well, that might have been closer to a scream.
“Villain! What have you done to- guh!!”
And there he goes, lifted away by Bruce and Blazer… that was Egd, without a doubt.
He sure grew quite big over the year.
At a glance, his statistics shouldnt be that far from Bettys level, too
Even from a distance, I saw that Hornel and Midors have changed quite a bit, too.
Looking quite bright, even in this dark outdoors.
In one way or another, Idéa looks nicer now.
…Yeah, everyones grown up.
And now, back to whats important… when will Lina let go of me, if ever
Precisely because of her not letting me go anywhere, I had to use Title Lock of Maüs and his crew again… several times.