This is the last chapter for this mini-arc. There are still four epilogue chapters to tie up loose ends. Can you believe that this arc is about to end? Enjoy!
ED: eristol, xtostos
“Yes, first of all.”
Undaunted by Klaus’ intimidation, I started to explain in a bright tone.
“When I visited the museum to investigate the 「Staircase to the Underworld」, I met this Chloe-san here and she accompanied me—”
I talked about the course of events from investigating one of the Seven Wonders until the underground transition.
The demon-like facial expression still remained on Klaus’ face.
“—and then we were transferred to the basement all of a sudden. The transfer destination was a layer about three floors below from here. While travelling in order to escape from the ruins, we found out that the curator was actually that……”
Klaus’ voice was lower than usual.
I tried to brush off the matter about vampire by using the term ‘that’, but I guess that was useless.
“Then we were about to be added to the twelve delicate maidens sacrificed to the evil altar! The situation was already so hopeless and frightening……right, Chloe-san?”
“Huh!? ……y-yeah, that’s right, it’s as Erica-san said.”
When I addressed Chloe, she nodded repeatedly while stuttering a little bit.
Next, I explained that I was lucky enough to notice the weak point, thanks to the vampire’s talkativeness.
Of course, I left out that we had been battling with all our might for a long time.
I will explain that later.
“That’s why, due to being overwhelmed with fear, I accidentally threw my bag into the vampire’s mouth. Right, Chloe-san?”
After a brief pause, Chloe nodded her head in agreement.
I glanced at Klaus.
The look in his eyes which was similar to that of a Demon King’s was so scary that I looked away involuntarily.
“I understand the gist of it.”
Klaus’ tone of voice dropped one note deeper.
I understand that he’s worried, but his ferocity this time is staggering after all.
“Then that’s why that is happening……it seems that urgent action is necessary……”
“Well, I know that is no excuse, but……huh, ‘that’?”
I looked towards where Klaus pointed at.
The space where the vampire was has become even more distorted.
Eh? What is that~~~!
“I estimate we have another 2 minutes at most.”
“That, what does that mean?”
“Explosive collapse of space will occur from the center of that distortion. If we leave it be, it will consume a radius of about 2 km.”
Speaking of which, there was supposed to be a spatial collapse, that’s what I thought, but—
2 km radius?
Isn’t the scale of the collapse too large?
“Eh! Is that okay!?”
“It’s not okay, that’s why I made preparations while listening to your excuse!”
Klaus shoved his hand into his robe, took out his staff that had been compressed and scattered a bunch of spellcards.
Those spellcards developed a spherical Barrier around the collapsing space.
Finally, Klaus slammed his staff on the floor with a sharp sound and the spellcards emitted a silvery light tinged with blue.
On the next moment, a bright golden light spread from the center of the collapsing space.
Everything enveloped by the light disappeared soundlessly.
There was no damage on this side, but Klaus, who was maintaining the barrier, looked like he was in pain.
The light does not seem to be receding easily.
Is this collapse going to last?
The stream of light which lasted for about thirty minutes finally receded.
Klaus finally felt relieved, he wiped the sweat that had appeared on his forehead with the hem of his robe.
“I thought that we were going to die for a moment there, but somehow I managed it……”
“Klaus-sama, if you don’t mind, please have this.”
When I picked up about three magical power replenishment potions lying on the ground and handed them over to him, Klaus drank them with out-of-focus hollow eyes.
It seems that the previous severe eyes were due to tension.
I feel guilty for treating him as a Demon King.
“Erica, I still have a lot of things I want to ask you about, but first, let’s go back to the surface.”
When Auguste took out a scroll and cast a spell, a golden magic circle spread on the floor.
I’m pretty sure I have seen this magic circle in a textbook.
“Auguste-sama, you can now use summoning magic!”
“I just got the permission to try out the practical skills.”
At the same time as the pure light overflowed, two horse-sized dragons—a red dragon and a white dragon—appeared.
They are the White Dragon Blumbell and the Red Dragon Briar.
Blumbell, who I met for the first time in a long time, brought her face to my chest with sparkling eyes.
Briar cried with a faint voice similar to a hatchling while glancing at my direction.
These children’s characters don’t seem to change even though they have grown up.
“Good grief, Blumbell seems to be in a good mood, huh. It can’t be helped, you should ride her, Erica.”
“Y-yes……but, what about my luggage?”
“Hmm~ it’s a huge amount. We can’t leave them here.”
Auguste looked at my luggage which was piling up like a small mountain and let out a voice that sounded like he was amazed.
“Klaus, do you still have magical power left?”
“……yeah, I can do……simple weight reduction and compression magic. It would be better……to wrap them inside the blanket over there.”
When Auguste asked, Klaus replied with a hollow expression.
Despite having some concerns whether it was alright for him to do so in his current condition, Klaus cast some magic over my luggage shakily.
Then my luggage was shrunk to about 1/8.
“I can……maintain this condition for about……three hours. Be careful not to drop it……”
After packing my luggage, I mounted the White Dragon Blumbell along with Tir and Chloe.
On top of the Red Dragon Briar were Auguste and Klaus who was exhausted and lethargic.
Then, while being carried by the dragons, we flew up through the ruins.
As we approached the upper layer to some extent, it was possible to ascend instantly using the large crevice-like space from before.
We will reach the surface much faster than I thought.
Guided by Auguste, we broke through the crevice of the ruins.
On about five of the uppermost layers of the ruins, there were an armory, a tool storage, a food storage and a simple lodging for some reason.
Perhaps if something happens at the ruins, the military orders would stay here.
Crossing the Barrier, Auguste’s dragons went through the exit to the surface.
On the other side of the exit was the church located inside the academy grounds.
I’m surprised that this place has become the official entrance to the ruins.
“Once we leave the church, disband and return to your respective dormitories. I will go to the stable with Briar and Blumbell.”
When we were about to leave the church, I saw two lights approaching the entrance.
That faint glow was a magical flame that was lit on a staff.
Having a bad feeling, I exchanged glances with Klaus and Auguste.
The two of them shook their head silently.
“The students over there. What are you doing in such a place?”
“I see, there are more of you, huh……” (Brad)
It was Principal Twr and Brad who approached us while raising the magical flames.
It appears that we have been found out by people who are even scarier than Klaus.
Chloe, Klaus, Auguste and I were taken to the Principal’s Office.
I have already ordered Tirnanog to carry my luggage to my room.
Next to the principal who was sitting on the chair, Brad was standing with his eyebrows furrowed.
In front of the scary duo, I stepped forward.
I talked about the incident.
The contents were the same as the one I told Klaus and Auguste.
I proceeded with the story with me being the main perpetrator, Chloe who was accidentally involved, and the two Dynameis’ members who were searching for us.
“Erica Aurelia, do you understand the meaning of your testimony?”
“Now, now, Clochydd. You should calm down.”
While recounting the story, the pattern where I was being reprimanded by Brad and the principal pacifying him was repeated many times.
As expected, when the battle against the vampire came out, Brad became silent and the principal had a serious expression.
After my explanation, Klaus explained the state of the space inside the ruins and how he dealt with it.
Finally, he added that Auguste summoned two dragons to take us back.
“I see……we also saw the spatial distortions. What you were saying is probably true.”
After thinking about it for a while, the principal whispered something to Brad’s ear.
Hearing the words he said, Brad widened his eyes.
“I’m sorry. Please.”
The principal was calm, but he looked at Brad with eyes that contained unwavering determination.
When Brad nodded while frowning, the principal turned towards me once more and opened his mouth.
“That bloodsucker, who was called the Bloody Saint, was my enemy. Fifty years ago, my friend was killed.”
Even though he holds the position of the principal, it seems that he is going to turn a blind eye to this, huh.
While muttering such things, the principal created a blue flame that floated on top of his palm.
His voice contained regret and self-pity.
“Yes……she was the only survivor of that bloodsucker, and then she disappeared afterwards. By doing so, it instilled suspicions inside the heart of people.”
I recalled Chloe’s story.
There should have been a story about a lone survivor who battled against the vampire and disappeared after two months.
It is possible that the survivor was taken in by the vampire with her memories altered.
“Erica Aurelia, I am grateful to you. But if this matter goes public, it will cause a great inconvenience to you. I will make an arrangement so that such a thing will absolutely not occur.”
Although I thought that I would be reprimanded or possibly suspended from school, it ended up becoming an unexpected situation.
The principal squeezed his palm and extinguished the flame.
“First of all, it is necessary to hide the fact that a vampire was involved in order to avoid the trial. Do you know about the Inquisitors1?”
“I only know the name. I don’t know the details.”
When I shook my head, the principal explained briefly.
For people who have had contact with a powerful vampire like the one this time, it seems there will be a trial held by the Inquisitors.
The purpose is to determine if they are a real survivor or a vampire disguised as the survivor.
However, it is said that they would be confined and tortured in the name of a trial.
Even if it hasn’t been determined yet, they would often consider them guilty; the trial seems rather strict.
“Instead of accidentally stumbling into the ruins, you were investigating the museum as requested by the academy, and as a result, you found an impure magic circle. Let’s report that you have not encountered the bloodsucker……is that fine?”
That is good news for me.
“An exoneration, huh……”
“Indeed, a cover up huh……”
Klaus and Auguste, who were waiting behind me, grumbled quietly.
Well, I am surprised too.
Because the vampire I defeated turned out to be a big fish by chance, it had developed into a situation where I couldn’t be accused of anything.
“After that, yes. I’ll compensate it for you. If you don’t have it, it would be inconvenient.”
As the principal said that, he took out a seemingly small leather bag.
It had the coat of arms of the Twr family on it.
“Eeh! No way, this is—”
“This was mine.”
It is the highest class product that incorporates not only space-expansion magic but also lightweight magic, and even time-delay magic.
I wanted it, but it’s extremely expensive and it takes a long time to be made, so it’s a gem I could not get.
“No, this is ridiculous! Rather, I can’t receive such an expensive item!”
“This is a sign of my gratitude. Please accept this.”
Even though I had a big loss this time, my balance has become significantly positive.
Although I think that I have really messed up this time, this was completely unexpected.
“Now then, it’s almost morning, please return to your respective rooms soon. However, tonight’s matters are very confidential.”
With that, the talk with the principal was over.
When we left the Principal’s Office, Brad glanced at me while letting out a deep sigh.
Brad is supposed to escort Chloe and I to the Central Dormitory and West Dormitory respectively.
“Both of you should return to your dormitories as soon as possible.”
Brad gave instructions to Klaus and Auguste.
“Erica, it seems that I have to give you more guidance regarding your behavior……will that be okay?”
“Something similar to this may happen again. It may be better for you to take care of yourself~”
While saying goodbye, the two of them disappeared in the darkness of the corridor.
So I went back following Brad from behind along with Chloe.
I wanted to talk more with Chloe about what happened tonight, but that seems to be difficult in this situation.
Leaving the school building, under the chilly night sky, the three of us headed towards the Central Dormitory first.
“Aren’t you angry? I, I ignored your warning.”
Chloe asked towards Brad’s back.
“Those who have the blood of the North are not good at pulling back……it is a trait which is extremely bothersome.”
Without looking back, Brad answered so.
I continued to listen to their conversation.
“But, be careful. You are in a complicated position.”
“No matter how much you believe in your own power, no one can fight against situations where the sky is falling or the earth is torn.”
Brad warned her in a matter-of-fact manner.
It was a calm and gentle tone, and his atmosphere was quite different from the him who I had known so far.
“Aurelia, you too. It’s not other people’s problem. Weren’t you supposed to be the main offender?”
Being addressed suddenly, I replied while feeling startled.
Well, certainly, it is not other people’s problem.
After escorting Chloe to the Central Dormitory, we headed towards the West Dormitory.
I walked around a little while looking at Brad’s back.
When we reached the entrance of the dormitory, Brad looked back.
His gloomy face was illuminated by the pale light of his staff.
“You, descendants of the Visitor’s Clan, tend to be indifferent to everything else in the face of your pursuit. Take care not to take a misstep.”
While furrowing his eyebrows as if feeling bitter, Brad said such a thing and left.
1 The Inquisition was the “fight against heretics” by several institutions within the justice system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy. Inquisition practices were used also on offences against canon law other than heresy. The Inquisitor is the organization who conduct the act, and in this novel, it’s not a ‘fight against heretics’ but a ‘fight against vampires’.
The people of the North have a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ mindset, as seen from Chloe’s behavior a few chapters ago when she suspected Erica and Lièvre.
And Klaus again proven to be an amazing mage; being able to stop the collapse of space and still able to maintain compression & lightweight magic for Erica for three hours.
And Brad seems to be talking about the Northern people and the Visitor’s Clan out of his own experience.
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