Schnee, who cut off the Mind Chat with Shin, went into action immediately.
She seemed to be very anxious when Shin’s presence disappeared half a day after going into the castle, but she regained her usual composure right away.
“What’s wrong?” Yuzuha asked, and the situation was briefly explained.
“Kuu! Yuzuha hates that!”
Precisely because Yuzuha’s partner got involved, and because it personally had been affected by miasma before, Yuzuha wouldn’t allow the existence of the enemy*. (T/N: This will be explained later.)
With Yuzuha perched on her shoulder, Schnee went into town from the inn. Though passersby stopped walking, being fascinated by Schnee’s pretty face, nobody recognized her because she was disguised by a magic skill.
Avoiding those who didn’t know their places gracefully, Schnee arrived at the place where Tiera was in no time. When she opened the door to the entrance, fragrances that she never smelled in daily life lingered in the air. Apparently, it was a shop that dealt with alchemy-related products. Items, which would become special catalysts, like leaves with poisonous-looking colors or some kind of dried things, were side-by-side.
Tiera was in the corner where various types of paper lined up, and she was eagerly comparing them.
Apparently, Tiera was quite focused on it.
Even when Schnee called out to her, Tiera didn’t respond at all. Because it couldn’t be helped, Schnee lightly tapped her shoulder and called out her name close to her ear.
Tiera was probably surprised, suddenly hearing a voice so close to her ear.
She jumped in response.
“M-Master. Please don’t startle me like that.”
“Though it’s good to concentrate, pay attention to your surroundings. You didn’t even notice when I was calling you earlier.”
“Uhh, I’m sorry.”
Tiera apologized while hanging her head.
Somehow, her long ears also seemed to face the ground.
“Never mind. Tiera, although this may be difficult for you, there has been an urgent business that has come up and you need to accompany me from now on.”
“Yes, it’s about the King’s castle.”
The King’s castle, Tiera understood it, was not a place she could go.
If she was still at Tsuki no Hokora, she certainly would have retorted in a loud voice. However, because of Shin and his actions, she was not surprised by a thing of such degree.
“…I’m starting to get used to these situations that happen while accompanying Master.”
‘As expected from Master, you and Shin are certainly the same’, agreed Tiera as she thought to herself.
“It’s not a story to explain in here. Let’s go outside.”
Tiera obediently followed Schnee who turned back towards the street.
It wasn’t a problem for Tiera, since she had no intention of buying anything in particular.
While walking on the road that lead to the King’s castle, Schnee explained the situation.
“…So in other words, I will have to defeat ‘it’ from now on?”
“That’s how it appears. Because you have reached the point where you can go outside, there’s no guarantee that you wouldn’t get involved with ‘it’. There are no documents or rumours about ‘it’, and it’s better if you understand ‘it’ by yourself.”
‘It’ was different from the monsters that attack people for food or to protect their territory. ‘It’ was different from the thief who steals items and money. ‘It’ was the antagonist who afflicts and entraps people.
“It’s a perfect chance for Tiera to learn about the existence of demons.”
Was a monster said to be born from miasma.
It was greatly different from other monsters, because it was not subjected to ability restriction at the place where miasma accumulated; instead it was strengthened. Again, in the demon’s area, the transmogrification of monsters were also accelerated by miasma and in the areas affected by it; the presence of demons increased the degree of difficulty.
Normally, when a monster was affected by the miasma, it was difficult for them to keep their sanity.
It may be possible for a high-level monster, but low-level monsters are hardly able to resist transmogrification. Monsters that change appearance have the word ‘Invade’ added to their names. Then, it becomes an existence that attacks surrounding living beings indiscriminately.
The change of the appearance was assumed to happen when the body of the monster, which was born from demon essence, was replaced by miasma. Thus, the monster’s appearance didn’t revert back to its original form even if the miasma was cleared away. Was it because the monsters, which couldn’t distinguish between ally and enemy, were affected by miasma? There were a lot of them that followed the demon.
Also the miasma, besides affecting monsters, inflicted effects to the seven races who existed in this world. There was no transmogrification in the game’s setting; however, inside the miasma, one would have received bad statuses such as ability restriction, abnormal states, and so on. Though it depends on the density of the miasma, level and race of the person in question, it was a troublesome hindrance to fight against the enhanced demons.
The miasma appeared in quests against a boss, and it lead to monsters attacking a town; it appeared in various places.
When it comes to a high-ranking demon which had the appearance that was close to human anatomy, high intelligence, high fighting power, and was accompanied by low-ranking demon. It was a monster that always appeared in a difficult dungeon and quest.
Ranks usually depended on strength, and were classified into Grand Duke class, Duke class, Marquis class, Count class, Viscount class, Baron class, and Knight class. By the way, this was the index that existed as a setting in the game; it roughly expressed the fighting power of the demon.
“The enemy is probably a Count class.”
“How does Master know?”
Tiera asked Schnee who conjectured the enemy’s rank.
Even if Tiera knew the existence of demons as knowledge, she couldn’t predict like Schnee did.
“It’s a simple method of elimination. In case of Marquis class and above, it’s plenty enough to destroy the country in a surprise attack, without even the need to transpose the second princess. When it comes to Baron class and below, there is no intelligence to think about that far ahead in time. Its level is high to some extent, but it’s reasonable to think it’s a Count class.”
“I see. By the way, what is the level estimation?”
“Right, I guess it’s about low 300s , to high 400s.”
‘If the Princess dies at the Sacred Place, then it’s beneficial for them. Even if she doesn’t, they achieve their purpose by taking advantage of the confusion.’ Tiera thought, while receiving such an explanation from Schnee.
“The level of that class is somewhere in the middle…I mean, um, Master? I’m still no good to fight against it, even if it’s half of the lowest level.”
Unlike chosen ones with high fighting power, it was impossible for her. Except to get killed by fighting an opponent whose level difference was more than 200. Even if Kagerou was with her, it didn’t mean her fighting power increased.
“No problem, because we’ll only observe this time.”
‘Should I be pleased that there’s no need to fight? Or should I be amazed with Master who says such a thing?’
‘Something was strange either way’, Tiera thought, as her eyebrows furrowed.
Aloof from Tiera’s worries, Schnee continued walking towards the castle.
Because Tiera heard that the Princess was forced to transpose, she thought that the castle would be in confusion. However, the guards didn’t have the appearance of a panicked state.
“Master, we don’t have permits, will we be all right?”
“No problem, because we won’t use the gate to begin with.”
A question mark floated from Tiera at Schnee’s words.
Schnee then advanced towards the direction where it was different from the gate.
Though Tiera didn’t understand Schnee’s intention either, she followed her for the time being. Schnee, who walked along the wall for a while, the moment there were no people in the area, she activated a magic skill.
The figures of the two people disappeared with the effect.
Coupled with the bonus effect of Kunoichi, which was Schnee’s main job, they would only be discovered in extreme circumstances.
“My appearance is concealed…Don’t tell me…?”
“You are correct. Hold on a little, because we are going to jump.”
Saying so, Schnee held Tiera in her arms and kicked-off the ground.
Without crushing the ground, Schnee and Tiera appeared to fly up gently.
However, Tiera’s scream was forcibly halted from the sudden wind pressure. Though no one would hear it even if she screamed due to the effect of 【Hiding】, if possible she wanted some time to be prepared.
“One step is not enough after all, huh?”
Besides Tiera who thought about these kind of things, Schnee calmly calculated the distance to the top of the wall.
Because she jumped while holding Tiera, she wouldn’t have arrived at the top if she kept going as is. Since it couldn’t be helped, she put her feet on the wall and kicked with her strength.
Movement system martial arts skill 【Wall Run】. With a fixed number of steps, it was a skill that let one run vertically on a wall temporarily when invoked and maintain the foothold.
From that one step, Schnee soundlessly ran up the wall.
“Master, didn’t you make a strange jump just now?”
“It’s a skill that can make foothold on a wall. It’s very convenient.”
From Tiera’s point of view, who often had combat training, she wondered ‘will there ever be an opportunity to use a wall as a foothold like that?’ She expected that it was related to a job.
When Tiera asked about Schnee’s job before, she received a single phrase: “It’s a secret.” instead.
“Well then, let’s go down. It’s dangerous if you don’t hang on.”
Regardless of what Tiera thought, Schnee jumped into the air without faltering.
Tiera screamed from the sudden fall, but Schnee didn’t mind for the time being. Schnee often did this type of fall together with Shin.
Though she jumped off from about the height of an average building, Schnee landed soundlessly, just like when she got on the wall. After she lowered Tiera, Schnee began to walk with silent footsteps right away.
To Tiera who was kneeling on the ground, holding her chest, and was out of breath, the next words that came out from Schnee mercilessly pierced her.
“Now, it’s time to sneak into the castle.”
While recalling her past days of Spartan training, Tiera obediently followed after Schnee.
(Even if Shin returned, Master is still Master…)
Schnee was completely ignorant of Tiera who thought about such a thing.
Now, Schnee and Tiera stepped inside the castle. However, their appearances were not to move sneakily like someone suspicious. In fact, they acted in a very bold way.
They entered the castle’s front gate after a little walking from the wall, and advanced through the passage where the knights and civil officers were going back and forth. They were moving as if they were in a totally open plain.
“Um, where are we going, Master?”
“To the prison cell. I’m going to remove the abnormal statuses on Cardinal Greyl.”
“Well, um, don’t we need to defeat the said demon before?”
“No problem. I already caught it.”
“Master is too amazing…”
While talking with Schnee who answered indifferently, Tiera thought, ‘Demon, it’s over for you.’
There were certainly soldiers who were on patrol and on guard duty. However, there was no one powerful enough that could see through Schnee’s 【Hiding】, and Schnee assumed that there was no need to patrol inside a castle in broad daylight.
‘It was too easy,’ thought Tiera who knew of Schnee’s capabilities, but she held back her question about whether if it was all right to have advanced so easily like this.
Even the demon wouldn’t expect this kind of development.
“We have arrived…”
After a several minutes, they arrived at the front door that lead to the prison cell without any incident.
Guarding the sturdy door were two muscular knights. However, when Schnee approached, they leaned their backs against the wall and sat down, as if they lost their strength.
It was the non-chanting magic skill, Sleep. After taking the key from the guards who have completely fallen asleep, Schnee opened the door that led to the prison cell.
You couldn’t say that the prison cell was clean. Even though it was in the royal castle, it had the appearance close to a cave. Each one of the jails were spacious, it was possible to accommodate about ten humans brought together.
Schnee had detected 2 presences within her perceptive range. One of them was the demon and the other belonged to Cardinal Greyl. She headed straight towards the cell because that was where the demon’s presence was.
In the prison cell, except Schnee and company, there were only two presences. Even though the room was quite spacious, only the Cardinal was accommodated there.
After leaving Yuzuha to Tiera and put her on standby, Schnee approached the Cardinal and showed herself. Then, a loud voice from Cardinal Greyl asked for her identity.
“It’s been a long time, Cardinal Greyl.”
“!? T-That voice, perhaps you are Raizar-dono? Why are you here?”
Perplexity was mixed in with Cardinal Greyl’s voice.
Even the Cardinal heard about the disappearance of Tsuki no Hokora.
“You are affected by Charm and Confusion, aren’t you?”
“I heard you transposed the person who was regarded as an upper class Chosen One and the Second Princess to the Sacred Place.”
“As expected from Raizar-dono, you have quick ears. When did it begin? I have little memory of it. I was arrested by Gadras when I recovered my consciousness, and came to be this state. Even if I try to remember it, no matter how many times, only fragmented and vague memories appear.”
Cardinal Greyl frowned in a regretful way; Schnee felt he was a size smaller than the time when he was part of the Armed Struggle Faction. It was likely he felt responsible for the events that occurred.
“That’s the harmful effect when you get two of the mind interference, you know? I came here to remove Charm and Confusion from you completely. Please be at ease. The two people who were transposed are safe.”
The Cardinal suddenly lifted his head.
“What! Is that the truth!?”
“It’s trustworthy information.”
“I thank you for your concern. Having driven people indispensable to the country, the royal family and a Chosen One, to death, you could say I was very worried.”
“It probably won’t take long until they return. Now, since your worries have disappeared, shall I remove the abnormal states?”
“Yes. It’s frightening that I don’t know when I will lose my sanity. Please do so.”
The truth was it’s already dispelled, but Schnee told him so to make him feel relieved.
When mind interference group magic skills became a taboo, the knowledge of the recovery method was also lost.
Schnee was going to use an abnormality state recovery magic skill on the weakened Cardinal Greyl.
However, before she could activated the skill, a shadow came flying towards Schnee.
“You finally came out, huh?”
Schnee quickly took out a ninja katana,『Lazuline Flame』, and turned her gaze toward the shadow that flew in.
Before her, there was a monster which had a strange appearance.
The lower half of its body had two different legs: one leg resembled that of a cow and the other was human. An exoskeleton similar to insects covered the being from its chest to its buttocks. The left arm had a pair of crab pincers and a mantis sickle. The right arm on the other hand, had five tentacles, all of which had thorns protruding the tips. Its head was probably an anglerfish. With a fish face that extended horizontally, the demon seemed to had compound eyes.
It was like a chimera created with evil intention. That figure, which could only be called revolting, were characteristic traits of the Count class.
――――『Count class Demon Magunumuku Level 423』
With Schnee’s【Analyze】, the enemy’s information was disclosed. The rank was what she expected. The only difference was it had “Magunumuku” as an individual name.
“It has a name. I see, so that’s why it possesses such intelligence, huh?”
Some demons, apart from the rank, have their own name.
It could be said that there were the demon’s version of unique monsters. It was commonly known to be strong, similar to other unique monsters. In an indirect way, its high intelligence seemed to come from it being unique monster.
“Silver hair. Blue eyes. Elf. You are Schneee…Raizaa…huh?”
Did it have a problem with its vocal chords? It seemed to have a distorted out of pitch voice that echoed in the basement.
“It’s been about 500 years since I’ve met your kind. Though I haven’t seen a figure since the natural disaster, it’s still a weird appearance as always.”
“You all are annoying. You fellows are always a nuisance.”
The voice of Magunumuku was erased by a Ting sound that reverberated underground, and blue sparks lit up the dark prison cell momentarily.
As it weaved through the darkness, the thorn that lengthened from the tip of the tentacles were launched at Schnee, but she knocked it down in time. The iron bars of the prison cell were already in pieces by Schnee’s movement.
Pincers and a sickle attacked Schnee who moved to protect Cardinal Greyl.
Schnee caught the 3 lethal weapons that concentrated an attack on her 『Lazuline Flame』. With the katana blade pushed by the Count class, which featured high muscular strength, blue sparks scattered from the 『Lazuline Flame』.
Tentacles approached from Schnee’s right side, which couldn’t move. There were five of them and Schnee’s 『Lazuline Flame』 was suppressed by the pincers and sickle from Magunumuku.
‘Caught you’, Magunumuku thought, but just then a blue trace ran through the base of its tentacles.
The screaming Magunumuku took distance from Schnee.
The compound eyes of Magunumuku caught the dagger, 『Scarlet Flame』, in its view in Schnee’s left hand, and confirmed that it had stopped the 『Lazuline Flame』 with its pincers and sickle.
Magunumuku couldn’t prevent its tentacles from being freely cut by 『Lazuline Flame』, as it was not possible to react to Schnee’s simple but quick movements. Even if the tentacles were able to withstand blows from a greatsword, it couldn’t endure the blade which carried a mysterious shine.
“Guu! Annoying! Why are you protecting a human!?”
“He is an innocent person, I cannot let him die with such a false accusation. Besides, I cannot let you guys do whatever you please. To do so would tarnish Tsuki no Hokora’s record.”
“Tsuki no Hokora. The place of the High Human, huh?”
Mugunumuku, who heard the name Tsuki no Hokora, withdrew back one step and straightened its posture.
Its cut off tentacles regenerated from the part of its base.
“High Human, these fellows also killed many of my comrades. However, that’s already over.”
“They have abandoned this world, and many of the warriors left. Humans that remained, degraded as they progressed.”
“Well, I never thought to be told such a story by a demon.”
Though Count class demons were not smart to that extent, when it came to those owning a name, it seemed able to understand the society of the human race.
“Human era is facing the end. Schneee Raizaa. Be our comrade.”
“Is this the lead in to said story? When I think about whatever you said―――― It’s impossible.”
Magunumuku’s invitation was declined by Schnee without any hesitation. Such a thing was not worthy to be considered.
Magunumuku, which heard Schnee’s answer, bent its without-a-neck-body skillfully, and had a posture that looked puzzled. It appeared to not understand the reason Schnee refused.
“Schneee Raizaa. You were left by your master, why did you refuse us?”
In the middle of a trifling conversation, Schnee had to estimate the timing of attack, and her pretty eyebrows twitched to the words originating from Magunumuku.
“What did you just say?”
The air had frozen. Everyone in that room felt the illusion that the temperature inside the prison cell fell below freezing.
At this time, only Tiera felt the furs of Yuzuha and Kagerou suddenly bristling up.
“Your master has left you behind. These fellows have gone long ago. They will no longer return.”
As for Magunumuku, did it not feel the severe cold given off by Schnee? It wouldn’t stop talking.
“Isn’t it hateful? I won’t abandon you. Isn’t it annoying? Just rely on that power.”
Magunumuku kept stacking up words in a crooked voice to Schnee, who was silent.
The distorted sound, which was similar to the noise from the abyss, invaded and surged toward Schnee’s ears.
That was the skillset of Charm and Confusion that had manipulated Cardinal Greyl. The double mind contamination extended its evil hand towards Schnee.
“Indeed, you all are still not aware of it after all.”
Schnee’s voice had somewhat a translucent feeling in it, filling the dark wet prison cell and purifying it.
“What are you talking about?”
“If it was the former me, I would surely be angry. I may have relied on feelings and fought.”
Schnee’s expression changed completely into a calm one from some time ago.
Magunumuku couldn’t understand why it didn’t feel negative emotions.
“The timing was bad for you.”
Schnee, in the next moment after saying so, moved both of her hands that they became blurry, and her weapons『Lazuline Flame』and 『Scarlet Flame』became flashes that penetrated through Magunumuku.
Magunumuku couldn’t even react to the overwhelming speed of Schnee.
The blades pierced through the demon’s right chest and left side belly; its power and sharpness caused Magunumuku to become sewn on the wall of the prison cell.
There, Schnee approached him in a relaxed manner. Her movement was not in the least fast.
“This degree of――”
Its words didn’t continue to the end.
With its view declining diagonally, the figure that projected there, especially the blue shining line, made a strong impression in Magunumuku’s mind.
Magunumuku had its head severed. However, it didn’t cease breathing immediately because of its tough vitality. Therefore, it was able to recognize the ninja katana that gave off a bizarre air that Schnee held in her hand.
(That weapon, don’t tell me, 『Blue Moon』? Absurd, that impossi…)
Its thought also broke off there.
Magunumuku’s view turned blue for an instant, and this time, it ceased breathing after recognizing the ninja katana.
“If now, I don’t feel like losing to an Element Tail.”
Schnee muttered, while feeling the power flow from 『Blue Moon』.
“Raizar-dono. What in the world was that monster just now…?”
Cardinal Greyl confirmed that the demon had vanished, and turned toward Schnee.
Before his eyes, an expression of astonishment appeared on his face.
“The one I defeated just now was the monster called a demon. The one that was manipulating you. Though you should be able to understand what you saw, there is not much known about it because it was a unique monster.”
“That’s a demon…I have read the Church’s documents. It’s humanity’s enemy and is born from miasma.”
The demon, which hadn’t appeared for a very long time, started making its move.
This, may be an advanced warning that something different from the current would happen.
“The abnormal state that affected you has been dispelled. Because I have to tell the King, let’s go together.”
“Ah, what should I say to express my gratitude? I will repay this kindness by all means.”
“Please, don’t get worked up too much. Now, let’s go.”
Schnee winked at Tiera and the rest who were hiding, and began to walk.
Tiera, who was under a 【Hiding】 state, was holding Yuzuha, followed the two people. By the way, Kagerou was hidden inside her shadow the whole time.
Schnee and Cardinal Greyl headed straight to the King’s room. Because Schnee stopped hiding her appearance, people who passed her gave a surprised expression and lowered their heads, which looked impressive to Tiera.
Was the story transmitted to the top brass? A guide came from the King’s bodyguard unit in the midway and led them. It was boisterous inside the castle, probably because the information related to the series of events were not transmitted accurately. As for the guide being dispatched, it was because some of the capable leaders had no choice but to make a move.
“This is the office of the King. Please wait for a little bit.”
Saying so, the guide’s soldier knocked on the door, and conveyed Schnee’s visit.
Schnee already grasped who was inside the room, and when the door opened, she calmly entered. Cardinal Greyl was urged to go inside, too. Tiera and the rest secretly slipped into the room.
There were three people in the office.
King of the Bayreuth Kingdom, Jeon Courtade Bayreuth.
First princess of Bayreuth Kingdom, Efilia Lou Bayreuth.
Knight’s leader of Bayreuth Kingdom, Gadras Jarre.
The color of tension could be perceived on the three people’s expression.
“It’s been a long time. I need to talk with all of you.”
“Ah, Raizar-dono. I’m sorry for meeting you like this. I heard that Tsuki no Hokora had disappeared, and my mind became dismayed, you know?”
“I seemed to have caused you worry. However, Tsuki no Hokora and I are safe. Please rest assured.”
Jeon had heard the report of Schnee being alive and well. However, having met her, moreover obtained the information of Tsuki no Hokora was safe from her directly, he felt relieved.
“Raizar-sama. That is Cardinal Greyl, shouldn’t he have been put into the prison cell?”
“Yes, I would like to talk regarding that.”
To Efilia’s question, Schnee explained to them about the existence of demons and how they were behind the scenes of controlling the cardinal.
“Demons…It’s written in the history book. The enemy of mankind. For such a thing to make a move…”
“They have mind interference skills, which are considered a taboo. What a troublesome bunch.”
Listening to Schnee’s story, Jeon and Gadras groaned with a grave expression.
Because they knew Cardinal Greyl was a person who didn’t neglect self-training, they seemed to fully realize the nuisances of the mind interference system skills that manipulated him.
Efilia anxiously looked at Schnee.
“With my magic skills, can I oppose them?”
“Even without magic system skills, there are skills that weakens the mind interference. I will hand you the Secret Book, please spread it around as much as possible.”
Up until now, such a skill was hardly needed.
However, when the thought of enemies that relied heavily on mind interference skills, like demons, increased, Schnee handed over the『Secret Book』of support system magic skill to Efilia. Though it was a useless item depending on level differences, she thought it was better than doing nothing.
“Also, the two people who were transposed are also safe.”
“Oh, is that the truth?!”
“What a relief…”
“Though princess and Shin-dono are said to be upper class Chosen Ones, I thought they wouldn’t die easily, no, I’m glad, very glad.”
Jeon, Efilia and Gadras looked like they were relieved to hear the safety of Rionne and Shin.
“As for Cardinal Greyl, he has not been affected by mind interference either. Therefore, I came with him to go here.”
“This time I have troubled you all.”
“No, as Raizar-dono said, it was because you received mind interference; it would be the same if it was us. I would like Cardinal Greyl to serve as a mediator with the church as always.”
“Yes sir, I promise to give more effort.”
The cardinal bowed his head to the King.
Because he was not the cause of the event, there was no significant punishment.
“First of all, we need to manage the information. When people of the castle are confused, they become uneasy.”
“Understood. Raizar-dono, what will you do after this?”
“There is a place I must go. Excuse me.”
Schnee bowed and turned back.
Though it was extremely rude toward a King, no one said anything because it was Schnee.
Jeon, as usual, already turned his head and gave instructions to Gadras.
“What will we do from now on, Master?”
“We are heading toward the fort city Balmel. Because when Shin and Rionne escape from the Sacred Place, they will be going there.”
After buying food in town, Schnee and Tiera appeared outside the ramparts.
Since Shin had the wagon, they were going to head on foot from here. Schnee and Yuzuha moved by themselves, but Tiera rode on Kagerou’s back, which transformed to just the right size.
Like the blowing winds, Schnee and the rest ran through the road.
With【Hiding】still in effect, and due to the running speed that was incomparable with horses, the merchants and adventurers passing by were plagued with the sudden gust―――.
“Master~! It’s fast! Too fast!”
Occasionally, they heard such voices too.