Suimei’s party splits up with each member off to complete their own respective task.  Unlike Elliot’s party, they are lagging behind.  Not only do they not have any clues, they also have a late start.  For that reason, he travels alone to where he might have seen something suspicious.

Liliana showed him how to get to the library the other day.  Not far from there he encountered a black hooded and robed person using dark magic to chase an aristocrat inside of a faux-barrier.  That guy is probably the one responsible for the coma incidents.

“Thinking about it, that guy was pretty small.”  That shadowy figure was very thin, about the size of a middle schooler.  Even that person’s movements can only be seen as belonging to a child.  That idea gives Suimei complex feelings.  Just what’s going on… 

Suimei can’t see what would motivate a child into assaulting citizens and putting them into comas, blanketing the Imperial Capital in fear, and disrupting the peace.  He walks down the street with those thoughts in mind when he comes across a throng of people.

“What the…”

The loud roar created from everyone talking to one another grows even louder as more people join.  Seeing so many people with differing opinions gathered sparks Suimei’s curiosity.  He’s circling the edge of the crowd when he senses a sudden swell of magical power.

“…That’s,”  Suimei recognizes the wavelength of magical power.  The last time he felt it was just a few days ago.  This swell of magical power belongs to Liliana Zandark.

Suimei picks up on some fragments of conversation.  “What’s going on?”, “It’s the human weapon…”, “Fighting the Spellcaster’s Guild.”  One of those fragments mentioned Liliana’s alias.

Suimei excuses himself as he forces his way through the mass of people.  He soon reaches the center and, as expected, finds Liliana.  A cold stare cuts out from the young girl’s eye.  Groveling on the ground before her are the two spellcasters from the other day.  Unlike in the fight back then, they went full out and exhausted their magical power, but it was all for naught.  She left them in a pitiful state of being covered in burns and in tattered robes.  She must have overcome their defenses with a combination of fire and wind magic.

Liliana says, “Learn to, stop bothering, me with this.”

“Damn….”  The vulgar man glares at Liliana as he tries to rise, but she refuses to tolerate him.  She again releases her magical power and establishes a domain 10 meters in diameter.  The density of her magical power oozes with her intent to kill.  Her malicious resolve is open for everyone to feel.

The two spellcasters and everyone watching probably have their hairs standing on end.  Liliana’s hostility laces her magical power, transforming it into a venom that seeps into the skin.  Everyone present is defenseless and completely exposed to her malice.

Both the vulgar man and polite man are helpless without magical power.  They faint on the spot while foaming from their mouths.  Liliana watches them for a moment to ensure the fight is over before lowering her magical power.

Suimei discerns that the surrounding people hold a severe attitude towards Liliana.  Her overwhelming victory sprinkled fear into them.  That collective anxiety swirls around and transforms into hatred and disgust.

Those two must have gone after her again.  I doubt she did anything wrong.  Seeing her treated this way despite only defending herself saddens Suimei.  As such, he throws her a lifeline.

“Yo!”

Liliana turns as she recognizes his voice.  “…. You again?  You often seem, to appear wherever I, go.”

“I thought the same thing.  Maybe we could say one of us is following the other?  So—”  Suimei spares the two, pitiful, would be assailants, a glance. “Were they bothering you, again?”

“That is correct.  They failed to, learn and challenged me.  As adults they, are irredeemable.  Truly foolish.”

“….You really are a disaster.”

Suimei glances at on lookers with shock.  Not even indirectly telling them what happened helps?  Despite what he hoped, the surrounding glares didn’t soften one bit.  Even though the people in the front row arrived before he did and saw the whole thing, they still say, “The human weapon thrashed those two from the spellcaster’s guild.”, “What a creepy child.”, and “How can such a dangerous devil be allowed to roam free?”

Ridiculous.  That isn’t what people normally say when they hear the truth.  Rather, instead of targeting a small girl, they should be condemning the two adults who attacked her.  Why are they making her into a scapegoat?  Is this how everyone in the Imperial Capital regards Liliana?

While Suimei is left dumbfounded by the malice, Liliana steps forward.  “Leave.  I’m not a, side show.”

Liliana glares at the crowd.  Everyone disperses with a stiff expression as no one wants to cross eyes with her.  They move like trained horses being guided away when someone mutters an annoying comment, “…Monster.”

“…Oy!”

“Be quiet, everything’s fine.  They’ll be, gone soon…”

“Gone soon…. You think that’s the problem?  Don’t you get what’s happening?”

Liliana speaks while looking down.  Her tone is full of determination, but also emotionless.  “It’s fine.”  Mixed somewhere within her words comes a sense of resignation.

“…. Is this really fine?”

A tinge of loneliness laces Liliana’s words.  Her voice is that of a person who has given up hope.  “Yes, this is normal.  The eerie, magic I wield is, detestable.  Within the Imperial— No, it’s like this, wherever I, go.  My position is special.  Since it’s an easy position, to hate in the first place, my assignment there is convenient.”

Suimei agrees that there are special positions within the military and that the people who occupy them might be hated.  The people in there make for easy targets as complaints from within and outside the organization grow worse.  Whoever is there will take the brunt of that malice.  Is she receiving all of that by herself?

Suimei checks his surroundings and discovers people watching Liliana as though she were a ferocious beast.  Some spy at her and whisper to each other from behind shop doors.  Others glare at her from the shadows of buildings.  Contempt burns within everyone’s eyes.  People shouldn’t look at children like this.

Those on lookers soon disperse.  Liliana, having put up with those glares, also leaves.

“Just a sec.”

“What is it?”

“You’re hurt.”

A small red mark is on the back of Liliana’s neck, probably from a spell by those two men.  Suimei, fearing that it might be a burn, or something, walks up to her and places his hand on the injury.

“What are—”

“Stay still for a bit.”  His hand emits a pale green light as he casts healing magic.  The irritated skin instantly returns to normal.

Liliana caresses the skin where she was burned in wonder.  “…Why?”

“Hmm?”

“Why are, you being so, nice to me?”

“This is just my own whimsical meddling.  Does it bother you?”

“Yes, very much.”  Liliana’s affirmation is followed up with an emotion similar to anger.  “Everything would, be fine if you acted like, them.”

The expression on her face wells compassion out of Suimei.  “You want me to despise you?  To hate you like they do?”

“That is correct.”

“Is that really what you want?”

“That’s…”

“That can’t be, right?”

“…..”

Liliana turns silent.  Her head droops as the strength fades from her shoulders.

“Can you get back on your own?”

“—Pl- Please refrain from treating me like a child!”

“Are you sure?  Then, that’s great.  I also have to take care of some errands.  Is it alright if I leave?”  With those words, Suimei begins for where he encountered the criminal responsible for the coma incidents.

…..Do as you, like.[1]  Suimei thinks he hears those words muttered behind his self.

 

–Welcome to the ★ Cute Star Fan Club–

Darkness surrounds them.  At first glance, their black robes make them indistinguishable from their surroundings.  A closer look reveals two shadows, one short, the other tall.  The pair are like darkness being sewed onto darkness as they leap through the sleeping town.  With little trace of themselves left behind, they move like hunters homing in on their prey.

The small shadow makes an abrupt stop mid-leap.  The suddenness is almost like the shadow collided against an opposing force.  Without a sound, the shadow drops down onto the brick road.

The tall shadow descends to the small shadow’s side and asks, “….Something wrong?”

“No, nothing.”  That answer might or might not be a lie.  The small shadow stopped because of a small animal on the fence in front of them.  No, the opposite.  The small animal stopped because of them, but such a reason can’t be voice out loud.

The animal watches them.  Its large eyes gleam with light as it perches on the highest spot within the area.  It’s a cat.  One of the Imperial Capital’s stray cats watches them with its two amber eyes.

“Naaa.”

It meowed.  Could it have done anything else?

The cat gets up and leaves without a sound.

The tall shadow places a hand on the small shadow’s shoulder and says, “Let’s go.”

“….Understood.”  The small shadow has its own goal to fulfill as it once more follows the tall shadow.  According to the tall shadow, their target should currently be passing through the edge of the upper class district.

The tall shadow always brings terrifyingly accurate information.  All their missions revolve around that information, even their current one.  That’s person’s information network might even be better than the Empire’s Intelligence Department.

An unrelated person’s interference let this target escape last time.

“He’s around here.  Set up the net.”

The small shadow nods without a word.  With nimble technique, it begins to chant when, “Nyaaa.”

“—!?”  The small shadow jumps in place at the unexpected cry.  The shadow turns around and discovers a seated cat.  Did it sneak up on me?  The cat watches from atop a nearby building’s wall just like the previous one.  It’s watching us.  It scrutinizes their every move.

A dark piece of cloth is wrapped around its arm.  A pet?

The small shadow ceases its magic and takes a step towards the cat.  The cat doesn’t move.  It just continues to watch them with its large eyes.  When the small shadow takes a second step, the cat gets up.  It yawns and scurries away.  It felt threatened?  

……

What just happened?  The shadow, uncertain to what the cat wanted, refocuses itself to weaving its dark magic.  It’s a spell the blankets the light and weakens vision.  Except for in rare occasions, escaping the designated area is impossible.

The target arrives before long.  Did he drink to his heart’s content?  Walking with an unsteady gait, he becomes aware of the darkness surrounding him.  This time will be easy.  The small shadow weaves a spell, certain that the drunkard won’t be able to resist.

The tall shadow must have similar thoughts as it also casts dark magic on the man.

The task soon ends with the detestable aristocrat dropping unconscious onto the brick ground.

…… And that’s one more concern nipped in the bud.  A few more, I just need to do this a few more times.  Then, that person will be able to walk through the city unhindered.

The small shadow unconsciously sighs out in relief as it turns.

“—As expected, you turned around too late.”

–The ★ Cute Star Fan Club, is all about ★ Cute Star–

“……..”

The small shadow turns upon hearing the voice and finds a young man of average build in his late teens.  His outfit is strange, but it isn’t something that will make heads turn.

—Why?  That man’s presence baffles the small shadow.  Why is he here right now?

Suimei Yakagi.  The first time they met was inside the customs office.  The second time they ran into each other was when he wandered around lost within the Imperial Capital.

It’s as if he came here on purpose— The small shadow reaches that conclusion too late.  Suimei makes a wry smile that confirms such was his intent.

He appeared from the darkness the same way as the two shadows.  There are two people with him.  The small one is recognized by the small shadow.  The second one is an older girl with long silver hair.  They are unexpected intruders.

The small shadow doesn’t know their motives, but is certain they’ve come to arrest us.  However, there is no longer any reason for us to remain here.  Standing in front of them won’t be to their advantage, either.

The tall shadow says after a while, “…. I’ll take responsibility.  Can you handle this?”

“Yes.”

“—Wait!”  The silver haired girl raises her voice upon noticing that the tall shadow is trying to escape.  She exchanges glances with Suimei Yakagi who then glances from the tall shadow melting into the darkness towards the no longer relevant and unconscious aristocrat.

Suimei says, “Go ahead.  I’ll leave the old guy to both of you, but don’t chase him too far.”

At those words, “Of- Of course!”  She and the little girl rush the tall shadow.

“—Well then, could you be the one responsible for the coma incidents?”

“……”

“Should I take your silence as a confession?”

The small shadow has no intention of answering.  It and Suimei Yakagi have a relationship.  Disguising its voice with magic, regardless of how much, won’t be enough.  A spell that could also disguise the voice’s spirit would be a different story, but Now isn’t the time for such foolish thoughts.

Suimei Yakagi casually lifts his arm in preparation to snap his fingers.  That— It’s the spell he used to shatter the staff of the spellcaster’s guild’s member.  Snapping his fingers triggers an explosion of wind magic.  The spell is simple despite the high level of the chant and activation words.  Despite that, the time needed for construction and implementation is phenomenally short.  It’s a dreadful spell developed for the sake of combat. 

Suimei Yakagi’s laidback method of raising his arm is a clever ruse meant to disorient his opponents.  In fact, he can cast that spell in less than a second.  Anyone unable to anticipate it will have no choice but to rely on their intuition to avoid it.

“Snap”

“….Tch.”  The small shadow leaps to the side in time with the snap in hopes to avoid the explosion.  To its good fortune, the attack can only move in a straight line to strike that which is being targeted.  The shadow would have been overwhelmed by the attack had it not witnessed it before.  Now isn’t the time to be distracted.

Suimei Yakagi had anticipated this outcome and dashes forward.  Even without strengthening himself with magic, He’s fast.

“—Permutatio.  Coagulatio.  Vis cane.”   [—Alteration.  Solidification.  Proficiency.]  Suimei Yakagi chants during the middle of his dash.  The moment he murmurs, “Alma Mercurius,” the tip of his silver wand splits into two.  It emits a whistling sound as it swirls around and lashes out towards the small shadow with a sword like tip.

Suimei Yakagi rushes the small shadow without a cloud of doubt.  He’s experienced in fighting spellcasters.

The small shadow unleashes its dark magic.  “—Darkness!  Thou art, separated from the heavens by a thin veil, envelop my enemies, strike them, smash them, crush them, and return them to dirt!”

—Darkness Punisher.  [—When one kneels before me, everything is crushed by darkness.]

A darkness different from the darkness of night spreads across the sky.  It spreads itself like a mantle ready to crush everything underneath.  Right when Suimei Yakagi is about to be stopped, he leaps to the side.  He slips past the spell with only a graze.

Although that man appears to have skirted the spell, something like an invisible, giant, hand yanks him back towards the darkness.  Then, by somehow breaking the laws of nature, he breaks free.

Suimei Yakagi, although his posture is broken, is safe.  His surprise is clear on his face.  He says, “Oy, what kind of spell was that?”

The small shadow, naturally, doesn’t answer.  From behind him, the silver haired girl says, “Suimei-dono, that was dark magic!  It is very powerful!”

Is this Suimei Yakagi’s first encounter with dark magic?  The small shadow is doubtful at first, but his following words confirm its suspicions. 

“Dark… magic?

His ignorance is my chance.

He begins speaking during the middle of those thoughts.  “—Et factus est invisibilis.  Instar venti.”  [—My blade is invisible, its steel edge will sink into my enemy’s blood.]

A magic circle forms underneath Suimei Yakagi’s feet.  An ear shattering noise resounds at the same time.  It’s different from the whistling noise created by his silver wand.  This sound is like the sharpening of a long sword melting into the cold, night air.  The small shadow can’t see anything no matter how hard it tries, but There’s a sword lost to the darkness.  If I can’t see it, I’ll have to feel it.

The small shadow disperses fine threads into its surroundings and evades.  This is a sword?  It’s like dodging an arrow.  A cut appears on the ground behind the shadow.  More appear as the attack continues.

While the small shadow is in the middle of its maneuvers, Suimei Yakagi says, “—Flamma est lego vis wizard.”  [—Gathering Flames, cry out like a magician’s resentment.]

I’ve never heard such a chant before.  However, I can do the same.  “Darkness, thy sweet temptations of mystery drive all mad!  Thou black snake seduces, leading all to ruin!”  —Hand of Frenzy!  [—Darkness overwhelms and leads to despair!]

This dark spell cast by the small shadow is special.  It’s an original spell that utilizes the properties of darkness to destabilize the opponent’s casting.  Whatever spell the opponent manages to create will be unstable, leading to a phenomena where it returns to caster.  If some more adjustments are applied at that step, then a heavy injury can also be delivered.

That is what should have happened—

“Tch—  Resonatur! Illi qui flagitant Discordia et lost in ventum!  [Tuning!  The echo that shatters peace into chaos, transform into wind and disappear!]  Suimei Yakagi disrupts his original spell to insert a new chant.  “Harmonies aeolian!”  [Tuning wind!]

—Harumonaizu Ioria, as those words suggest, the spell transformed into wind.

“Wh…!?”

A coiled snake made of darkness rises out of the magic circle.  The snake glows as it floats upward where it shatters into grains of light similar to beads of confetti.  Suimei Yakagi himself is unharmed.  Impossible, for that to happen would mean his defense is flawless. 

All magic is burdened with a gap due to element incorporation.  That gap prevents spellcasters from being able to actively intervene with a section of their casting because that gap prevents them from having complete control over their casting.  My spell takes advantage of that gap, yet it failed.  For that to happen means he has precise controls over every portion of his spellcraft.  –That is to say, he doesn’t incorporate the elements into his magic.

While the small shadow is lost to shock, Suimei Yakagi shakes the residual magic energy from his arm.  Once his right hand is clear, “….Phenomena Mixer.”

“…?”

“That’s the law of magic you just invoked.  It wasn’t perfect… Geez, that was pretty good despite not knowing the basics of magic.”

That unpleasant method of speak is his way of giving praise.

A coldness falls upon the area.  The glare in Suimei Yakagi’s eyes is overwhelming.  Does he consider me as his enemy? 

The small shadow has held him in high regard ever since he defeated that spellcaster’s guild member.  The level of mastery he’s reach at his young age even lets him steal control over his opponent’s spell.  In terms of ability, he might even rival the 12 sages, but that isn’t a story that should be unfolded.

Suimei Yakagi steps towards the small shadow.  He begins with a calm pace, but then, possibly picking up on the small shadow’s intent, accelerates to an impossible speed.

The small shadow quickly chants a spell.  Close quarter combat isn’t my specialty.  Suimei Yakagi goes to snap his fingers, but falls back upon recognizing danger.  There was no hesitation in his decision.

How fast.  The small shadow had only just started its spell.    Where did he develop such a skill?  It’s almost like he can see the future. 

While thinking those thoughts, the glint in Suimei Yakagi’s eyes tell it that he already has a countermeasure.  A magic circle materializes in midair.

Single —No, that’s wrong.  Double cast.  No, that’s,

“—Ad viginti transcription. Invocatio Augoeides!”  [—Radiant ceremony.  Limit of 20 transcripts, execute!]

“—Keh!”

Lightless attribute lances of light shower down from the sky.  Did he change his attack by increasing the amount of magical power?  Not only that, the spell was simultaneously casted multiple times.  Is he a monster? 

The small shadow just manages to dodge the raining light by escaping to the side.  I need to counterattack.  For the sake of that person, I will to overcome all obstacles no matter what happens to my body. 

The small shadow disregards all danger to itself and dashes forward, kicking clods of mineral dust up from the brick road.  Suimei Yakagi sees through the desperate gamble, and before it can notice, morphs his metal wand into a sword.

The small shadow strikes the middle of the sword with its ebony wand.  It’s confident in its skill because it always watches that person, that peerless sword master within the Empire.  However, Suimei Yakagi’s swordsmanship is an exception.  He doesn’t lose his weapon from the attack.  Instead, with one fluid arc, he retains control of his sword.   He then parries the second strike by flicking the tip of his wand upward.  The sword’s edge shines as he continues the revolution and traces a circle in the air.

A magic circle.  The appearing formation glows scarlet.  Flames—

The magic circle is complete and the tip of Suimei Yakagi’s sword is reflecting off of the small shadow’s eyes before it notices.  The small shadow sees that the sword is aiming for its shoulder in time to dodge it.  The spell is a different problem.  I can’t defend against it.  What do I do? 

The small shadow feels heat from the magic circle.  Fire magic, the most powerful of the elements and also the most effective counter against dark magic after light. 

“—Tch!!”  The small shadow throws itself onto the brick ground.  Proper falling technique lets it hit the ground with a roll.  In anticipation to the searing heat that will ravage its body, it clenches its teeth.  Currently— Flames lick my robes but they aren’t reaching me. 

The small shadow adlibbed an impromptu spell that weakened the fire spell by several levels.  Also, its small and immature body lets it make sharp turns to avoid the flames.

The silver haired girl says, “Barrier magic…”

Suimei Yakagi says, “Yeah, more importantly, I’ll leave the old guy and Lefille to you.  Stay alert to magic manipulating your surroundings.  Stay inconspicuous and expand your awareness.”

The silver haired girl looks around.  She blinks and then her eyes bulge open as she discovers that the black surrounding them is different from the darkness of night.  They are enveloped within a mist of darkness.  There is one defect to the spell.  It dyes the moon into a black pearl.  She says, “That’s…”

Suimei Yakagi noticed?  The small shadow was trying to submerge him within darkness before he could, but this much is to be expected of someone who can steal the magic of his enemies.  However, form him to do that, It appears that knowledge of the magic’s attribute is required. 

Suimei Yakagi nods to the silver haired girl as she becomes aware of the phenomena surrounding her.

The small shadow weaves another spell of dark magic.  “—Darkness!  Crawl out of the chaos that conceals thy body!  Come and demonstrate thy power!  I shall not retaliate!  I shall not anger!  Therefore—”

The small shadow empowers the dark magic by chanting forbidden words, “Argo, Lukla, Lagua, Skiot, Raphael, Babylon….”[2] —Retaliation Hatred.  [—I entrust my wrath to darkness.]

 

“—Primum ex Quartum excipio!”  [—From first to fourth, All Area Defense!]

Suimei Yakagi expands a golden hemispherical magic circle multiple times.  The magic circle spins as darkness clashes against light.  Luminescent sparks scatter off with a shrill cry as countless bands of darkness are repelled.

“Gu—!”  A small cry of anguish leaks out of Suimei Yakagi.  Darkness seeped through his golden defense and gathers around his left arm.  The cold sweat gathering on the bridge of his nose is proof that he is in danger.

I finally succeeded in landing a strike.

Suimei Yakagi is shaken, but doesn’t collapse.  However, just receiving dark magic is enough.  Intense pain should be spreading out from the afflicted area like a swarm of creeping insects.  Fatigue will set in as the nerves are assaulted.  Then, overwhelming despair will curl the face with anguish and whimpering cries of pain will ring.

However, Suimei Yakagi has both feet planted on the ground and stares at the small shadow.  “You…”

Is hatred towards his enemy compelling him to speak?

However, the words he speaks, “Are you really the one behind everything….?”  His words are a clumsy mixture of anger, compassion, and doubt.

…What is he trying to say?  The magic I wield is darkness.  I manipulate this magic that erodes my body to remove all the obstacles from that person’s path.  That I do so personally is only natural.  Everything I do is for the sake of protecting that person—

“—!?”

The small shadow realizes something.  It’s approaching a boundary it must never cross.  Who is this?  This man isn’t an aristocrat threatening that person.  Why is he saying that after taking my spell?  Suimei Yakagi, a man who refuses to cower no matter how much I coerce him or reveal my ghastly side.  A person who speaks with a gentle voice as he concerns himself with my isolation.  Against such a human, was I really unleashing treacherous dark magic easily capable of snatch away a person’s life?

“Oy, hold it—!!”

By the time the small shadow notices, it’s already running off in the opposite direction.

 

T/N: Excited for the next chapter.  It’ll start off with some of the same, but then changes into new text.  I was actually planning to use this section to build it up some hype, and then release chapter 84 with the defense that the hype I built up was in line with what was released.  I translated about 1/3 of it when I was forced to stop.  The text made a reference to something that happened in the past.  I didn’t want to misinterpret it, so that plan was foiled.  I’m going to go sit on the swings and pout.  *Grumble, grumble, grumble*

By the way, some of you might have noticed, but I made a twitter.  Tune in to hear the latest on updates.

 

-Gandire

 

[1] No, I did not forget to add quotation marks.  The text really didn’t have any.

2 Not going to lie, I totally guessed on those names.  Orugo, Rukyura, Sekunto, Rabieraru, Beibaron

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