NBAA Vol. 6 Chapter 5 Part 3
Accepting the holy stone, Reito left the Dalton Trading Company building.
Before returning home, Reito communicated with Airis in a place with no trace of human life. Reito wanted information about his next opponent so he could come up with countermeasures, but for some reason, this time she was a little slow in responding.
『Airis… Huh? I just used your normal name, didn’t I?』
『… Oh, I’m sorry. It’s okay, I can hear you just fine.』
『Have you been playing games again?』
『No, that’s not what I’m saying… but I don’t think you should accept the next match.』
Airis’s unexpected revelation took Reito aback. He was already surprised to learn that his next opponent was a dangerous “lich,” but what Airis said next was even more unsettling.
『About your next opponent, the lich… I don’t know much about what kind of opponent you’re up against next.』
『You don’t? Why not?』
『As I said before, my power only extends to beings born in our world… so I can’t see the future or the actions of someone like Mr. Reito, who has visited from another world.』
『Oh, yeah. I guess you’ve told me that before…』
Airis, one of the administrators of this world, had access to all information about the world in which Reito currently existed. Still, she had no power over “otherworldly” or “reincarnated” people from other worlds.
Since Reito was a reincarnated individual, even though Airis could somehow understand his actions, she found it difficult to foresee his future. This made it challenging for her to predict the outcome concerning people who were deeply connected with Reito. However, in the case of the lich, he wasn’t exactly someone closely involved with Reito, and, according to Airis, he represented an entity beyond her powers.
『Perhaps this lich was an “otherworldly person” or a “reincarnated person” like Mr. Reito before you were reborn. That’s why I can’t grasp information about his existence.』
『But you understand my existence, so why can’t you figure out what kind of being this lich is, too?』
『Actually, I forgot to explain, but I can understand your existence because there is a connection between my soul and Mr. Reito’s. When Mr. Reito died, I gave you a part of my soul and then reincarnated you. So I can only grasp Mr. Reito’s behavior through your soul.』
『I didn’t know that… I wonder if it’ll fall off in the bath.』
『What the hell are you talking about?!』
Reito was taken aback by Airis dropping this information on him after all this time. According to Airis, the only reason she could not grasp the lich’s true identity was that it was a being with an otherworldly soul. If the other party were a human summoned from another world, it would be a very bad situation.
『Initially, the term ‘otherworlders’ in this realm referred to individuals like Mr. Reito, who were summoned from another world in the past. As I explained earlier, envision this world as being structured vertically, akin to skyscrapers. You can consider me akin to a caretaker of one such skyscraper.』
『Mr. Reito is a person who fell by an unfortunate accident from the upper world from my point of view, but now you live in the lower level of the hierarchy with my assistance. But in the case of otherworldly people, it is a different story. They are beings called from the lower worlds beyond my power. My power does not extend to them.』
『To put it plainly, it is like having a cleaning company clean the windows, but they send the upper level people down to the lower level to clean them. In other words, otherworldly people are abducted by muscular, macho window cleaners and taken down to the lower level through the window.』
『I don’t understand that metaphor, but that cleaner sounds like an awesome guy…』
『The otherworlders visited the lower level in a special way, so they can return to their original world. We ask the cleaners to bring the humans back to the upper level after they’ve done their job.』
『Why not just use the elevator!?』
『As I said before, you can’t visit another world by ordinary means. In other words, in the previous analogy, this high-rise building has no stairs or elevators, so you cannot go up by ordinary means. In Mr. Reito’s case, it is as if you fell into a pit and fell to the lower level, so you cannot go to the upper level.』
『Shit… I would at least like a ladder…』
『Anyway, I’ve talked too much. The point is that I don’t have information on this opponent.』
Airis’s explanation made Reito look at his feet. He did not think that there was an entity beyond Airis’s power.
『So what can I do? I don’t think I can back out now.』
『That’s right. And I’m sure you’re a little nervous about not knowing who you’re dealing with in the match… That could also be a fun challenge.』
『It’s nothing. Let’s think about the fight some more.』
Airis’s words had caught Reito slightly off guard, but as anticipated, she was earnestly devising a strategy for confronting the lich this time around. According to the information available then, it was certain that the lich wasn’t a giant or dwarf skeleton, at least. And even if it was human, there was a chance it might have been female prior to its demise, given the eyewitness accounts suggesting a small stature. Alternatively, it could have merely been a man of short stature.
Reito had no idea of his opponent’s abilities or what kind of fighting methods it might employ, and the Hailstorm adventurers, who were supposed to know the information, would not give him any information at the request of the Battle Association. It was possible that Mina cooperated only because she did not know what was going on and did not share the most important information about the opponent.
『At this stage, we know next to nothing. But considering that ten A-rank adventurers and one of the Swordmasters went out to capture it, there is no doubt that it is a very troublesome opponent. Wait! Can you use your powers to read the memories of the adventurers and swordmaster who captured him?』
『I can’t do that either. I can grasp human behavior but can’t tell what they think. I can’t even see how the adventurer and the Swordmaster captured it. I don’t even know what kind of being the lich is. It’s like you’re watching a security camera, and suddenly, the person you want to see disappears from the frame.』
『By that logic, you’ve always been spying on people… Sounds like some kind of pervert criminal.』
『Who are you calling a criminal! Well, I used to peek at you in the bath and stuff…』
Even Airis was clueless about the identity of the lich, and for the first time, Reito found that he couldn’t lean on her for support. Until now, there had always been a subconscious assumption nestled in the back of his mind that Airis could provide accurate information regardless of the situation he found himself in. Realizing that he couldn’t always count on her assistance in dire straits unsettled him.
『I never thought I’d be so scared to fight someone I didn’t know… You’ve always cared for me when I think about it this way.』
『Don’t get so sentimental. I’m still alive. I’m talking to Mr. Reito while munching on rice crackers.』
『You have rice crackers in that world…』
Distracted by her joke, Reito had now seriously considered countermeasures against the lich. First, it was confirmed that the opponent was a Dead Man’s Puppet. He thought that enhancing his holy magic, known to be the greatest weakness of the undead, would serve as a good countermeasure.
『What about asking Goyle to modify your sword so it can also handle holy magic?』
『I don’t think he can. Goyle says he doesn’t know of any Magic Marks for holy magic.』
『Maybe I could bring back the Caledfwlch like I did against the Rotten Dragon…』
『If you use the alchemist’s ability, you can certainly make a duplicate of the Holy Sword. But if you do that, it will put a great burden on Mr. Reito’s body and also cause damage to the audience, right? Please save that as a last resort.』
『Could I use my SP to strengthen my abilities?』
『Are you sure you want to use your precious SP? Even if we use SP, it would only reduce the toll the magic takes on your body. It wouldn’t strengthen the magic itself. It is more like an improvement than a fortification.』
He sighed, reflecting on how easily he felt cornered merely due to the unknown aspects of his adversary. However, he realized this uncertainty was a common sentiment among ordinary human adventurers. His journey until now had just been cushioned by fortune and the guidance he’d received.
『Okay… let’s not think too deeply about it anymore. I’ll do my best with what I have now; that’s all I can do.』
『That’s all you can do. Well, there’s nothing much I can say to comfort you. All I can say is, good luck.』
Reito cut off communication with Airis.
It had been a long time since he had conducted such a long communication with Airis. It had lowered his spirits to a certain extent. He decided to try everything he could before the match started to gather more information about the Dead Man’s Puppets.
“Oh, and speaking of dead people… maybe I should talk with an expert.”
In times like these, Reito was glad he had friends he could rely on.
Reito went to someone who might have more information about the Dead Man’s Puppets.