TL: clover, eristol
Chloe and I recounted as much as we could remember of the vampire’s behavior in the basement.
Additionally, we also shared with everyone what we had discussed together earlier.
My brother descended into deep thoughts with a hand over his mouth.
“Sounds like it would be worth checking out.”
According to my brother, the One Who Devours Death rented several houses under the name of Lièvre.
The houses are currently being managed by the city authority.
A tenant is, after all, a tenant.
“I also wanted to look into it, but it slipped my mind due to being detained and interrogated.”
That can’t be helped, he was after all got tortured as a suspect for the kidnappings.
I thought it was an unusual shortcoming for my brother, but if I recall correctly, he was drugged and the drug tampered with his memory.
“Then this investigation … ”
“I will do it!”
Just as my brother was about to say it, Chloe raised her hand.
Wasn’t that too fast!?
“This one is mine and Erica-san’s prey, so I want to follow through this hunt to the end. Is it, perhaps, no good?”
Oh, even I have been included.
“Prey… huh, that’s right, I guess it is technically like that. Well then, since you are here, I will leave this matter to you.”
My brother agreed, although he was a bit perplexed.
“Hmm, I am sure Erica-sama will be accompanied by the angel and the phantom beast of the West, so there shouldn’t be any problems.”
Harlan also accepted the arrangement without hesitation.
“Huh? Aren’t you guys deciding things too quickly? What about my opinion?”
“Eh… could it be you don’t want to go with me?”
Chloe looked at me with slightly teary eyes.
It was really cute.
If the power of the game’s heroine is used in a situation like this … ugh, I can’t go against it.
“No… that’s not the case.”
“Alright, I will be in your care!”
Ugh, there is no going back now.
I wasn’t planning on doing it on my own though.
“There is no way those small fries of a vampire around here can do anything to you. You will do fine.”
“Isn’t that quite harsh, Klaus-sama? You are being irresponsible.”
“You can call me any time to clean up after you, understand? I am not irresponsible, rather I will take full responsibility. You are the one who is going to destroy the whole city if I don’t.”
The corner of Klaus’ mouth turned up as he laughed.
“Thank you for cleaning up after the One Who Devours Death, Klaus-sama.”
It’s hard to make excuses because I have a history of doing it before.
“Ahaha, you are quite convenient for situations like this, Klaus-kun … Really, how excellent.”
“Your true intentions are leaking out, Eduard.”
“Well, as always, please take care of Erica and me, Klaus-kun.”
My brother is not any better.
I don’t know if it’s a good idea for us siblings to have Klaus clean up after us every time.
“But then again, there is always a chance of something going wrong. Would it be all right if I follow you secretly, just in case?”
“In that case, I will tag along as well, Sir Harlan.”
Harlan went to the trouble of volunteering to be our guardian, but my brother started to impose himself on him.
“Huh, what good would it do to have more suspicious and unreasonable guardians?”
“My, how terrible, Klaus-kun!”
“Well, that’s harsh.”
My brother and Harlan slumped their shoulders dejectedly at Klaus’s poisonous rebuke.
Beatrice raised her hand.
“May I join them as well?”
“You, Miss Beatrice?”
My brother sounded surprised.
“They are always helping me, so I wish to do something to help them as well. I promise I won’t be a burden.”
Beatrice said with a serious look.
“I think it’s a fine idea, we can disguise it as ‘three best friends who are going on a holiday trip to the city’.”
My brother smiled brightly.
It’s true that with Chloe and I, the other adults and boys would stand out a bit.
But with Beatrice there would be just us three girls, so it would only seem natural that we went to the city to have fun.
So it was decided that Chloe, Beatrice, and I would conduct the investigation.
After that, we continued to ask a lot of detailed questions about various matters.
☆ ☆ ☆
Finally, the day of the investigation.
It was a holiday.
We met at the gate of the school.
We intend to travel to the site by carriage.
I was the first to arrive at the meeting place, Chloe showing up soon after.
Chloe had a sword strapped to her waist.
“Good morning, Chloe-san. I see you brought your sword with you today.”
“Technically, yes. But this one is just a regular sword.”
Come to think of it, her snowsilver sword was broken during the previous incident.
It’s not like she can just use what she looted from the knights of Útför either.
She does, however, carry a piece of snowsilver ore as an accessory in case of emergency.
Finally, Beatrice showed up as the last one.
“I-I am sorry for being late …”
When I carefully looked at Beatrice’s face, I noticed traces of dark circles under her eyes.
Oh, did she stay up late studying or something?
“You aren’t late. We were the ones who arrived twenty minutes before the appointed time.”
It appears we will be waiting for the carriage for a while.
We discussed idly about the weather and our destination.
Then Chloe asked me while stroking Palug’s throat, who was perched on my shoulder.
“By the way, Erica-san, can I ask you something?”
“Yes, what is it, Chloe-san?”
“Is this cat the angel you were talking about?”
“Err, that … ”
I stumbled over my words.
How did she find out? Chloe, you are one scary girl!
『Fumu! That is correct!』
While I was at a loss for what to say, Tirnanog responded with vigor.
“Yay! I got it right!”
Chloe thrust her arms up to the sky to express her joy.
She has been in high spirits all morning.
“Chloe-chan! Don’t just suddenly expose secrets like that. It’s bad for the heart!”
Beatrice hissed at her.
Chloe lifted Palug off of my shoulders.
“Haha, I knew you were an angel. I was wondering why people didn’t notice!”
“You can’t hide anymore, Angel-sama. You don’t look like a normal cat at all.”
She seems to be trying to act like a normal cat.
But I don’t think it’s possible to hide anymore.
“I think the angel in question is still trying to hide it, but you guessed correctly.”
“I knew it!”
Chloe’s face lit up.
I wonder what was the deciding factor for her to be so confident?
“Well, the legendary phantom beast of the West… Tirnanog, was it?”
『Just Tir is fine.』
“With Tir, sometimes I felt a lot of pressure, or a strong presence? There was something unusual about the atmosphere.”
He wild intuition is really scary…
“Well, now that I have been found out, I wonder if I can show myself …”
Palug escaped Chloe’s grasp and landed on the ground, hiding behind me for a moment.
I turned around to see a beautiful blonde, tan-skinned girl about my age and height in a school uniform.
This beast is as dexterous as ever.
“Wow… She is such a beautiful lady … ”
“Ufufu. As you can see, Chloe, I am no ordinary cat.”
Palug smiled at Chloe and made a come-hither gesture, as if to provoke her.
“Want to try me?”
Sparing no time for an answer, Chloe drew her sword at high speed and slashed at Palug.
An attack from that distance is usually unavoidable.
However, before the sword grazed her, Palug disappeared.
She lightly landed on top of the sword swung her way.
“My goodness, humans can be so fast when they train. It’s amazing.”
“Haha, I feel honored to hear you say that, Angel-sama.”
Chloe looked at Palug, who was standing on top of her sword, and laughed out loud.
“But I am glad. With this, I think it’s alright to get serious now.”
Chloe quickly drew her sword back.
Without a moment’s delay, she launched a backward spinning kick at the falling Palug.
As if anticipating it, Palug lightly jumped to dodge the assault.
Chloe kept the rotational force of her kicks as it was and slashed further.
But Palug kept on evading them.
Their attacks accelerated at an uncanny pace, exceeding the limits of visual perception.
Chloe’s breathing suddenly became erratic and her movements were slightly delayed.
As expected, there’s a limit to human capacity.
Just as I was thinking that, the next thing I knew, Chloe thrust forward with her fastest step ever.
A feint accompanied by a full-force blow.
Palug lost her balance, but avoided the blow by a hair’s breadth.
But as soon as I thought so, the sword disappeared from Chloe’s outstretched right hand.
Before I knew it, the sword had switched to her left hand.
That was also a feint!?
Chloe’s sword swooped down on Palug’s legs, who had lost her balance.
This time it was an unavoidable blow that sliced through Palug.
Or at least that’s what it seemed like …
However it was merely an afterimage of Palug left in our retina.
The sword fell from Chloe’s hand.
Before she knew it, Palug was behind her, silently restraining her.
“Yes, I caught you!”
Chloe’s eyes widened in disbelief, and she lowered her head as if sulking.
She tried to struggle out of Palug’s grasp, but she could not escape.
It seems that even Chloe was no match for Palug’s physical strength.
“Ufufu~ no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible, isn’t it?”
Palug chirped happily.
Then Chloe, who looked up, also had a happy smile gracing her face.
While Palug was distracted by her smile, Chloe’s arm snapped from elbow down.
Something touched Palug’s shoulder.
Palug hurriedly touched her own shoulder.
From her shoulder to her ear, her appearance had transformed from a human’s to that of a beast.
Must be the effect of the snowsilver ore accessory.
Taking advantage of the opening created from the surprise attack, Chloe leapt away from Palug with a front roll and picked up her sword.
Wiping the sword casually, she put it back to its sheath.
“So that’s what you truly look like. You really are an angel with the body of a beast.”
“Yes, this is my true visage. A sight to behold, don’t you think?”
“I personally like that appearance the best.”
The two smiled at each other.
“Say, Angel-sama, why did you not avoid my hand even though you could see through my movements?”
“Ufufu, I was merely curious as to what you would do in such a situation. As expected, it was indeed very interesting.”
They seem to be having a lot of fun.
With this amicable atmosphere, I doubt they would have another sparring session like earlier.
“Even though you were carrying some fine needles made of the same material, you opted to use that accessory instead. You truly are a kind and sweet child.”
“Ugh … my needles were exposed too?”
“I know you are still hiding a lot of other shady tools.”
I had no idea you had needles made of snowsilver, Chloe.
I wonder what would happen if she were to prick phantom beasts with those.
On another note, what was that about ‘shady tools’?
“Haha, so you noticed those too. Harlan gave me a bunch of them so I decided to bring those along.”
Ah, he is quite the overprotective guardian.
Harlan is trying not to get too close to Chloe, but it is quite obvious that he is worried inside.
Before I knew it, Beatrice was hiding behind me.
It does look like a serious exchange of threats on the surface, doesn’t it?
“It is alright, Beatrice-san.”
It is merely a casual exchange of japes between Chloe and Palug.
After all, these two people, when they are serious, are far more frightening… or not.
Chloe’s eyes were starting to look like a frozen lake, while Palug’s started to resemble that of a carnivorous beast.
“Both of you, you are scaring Beatrice-san.”
When I called them out, Chloe and Palug finally noticed the quivering Beatrice.
『You seriously don’t intend to go all out against a fragile human opponent, now do you, cat?』
“Oh my~ that’s rich, coming from you, no?”
Palug stuck out her tongue at Tirnanog, who was passing sarcastic remarks.
“But I must say, you are a very clever child. I like you.”
“Hahaha, thank you.”
I am glad this short but fierce bout took place within the academy grounds.
We would’ve been in real trouble if it had happened in the middle of the town.
While we were preoccupied discussing this turn of events, the carriage we had reserved arrived with impeccable timing.
And with that, we boarded the carriage and headed for Lièvre’s rented apartment.
☆ ☆ ☆
“Aaahh, it was so refreshing!”
Chloe was stretching in the carriage.
“I wasn’t sure when to ask you about it since it seemed like you didn’t want to reveal it during the evening meeting.”
“Thanks for reading the situation, Chloe-san.”
My thought returned to Auguste.
Although I feel sorry for him, but …
“Ahaha, it couldn’t be helped since the angel in question was reluctant to disclose it.”
“Um, I also had something to say … ”
Beatrice timidly raised her hand.
“I thought it would be inappropriate to say it there so I didn’t … ”
“My, what is it, Beatrice-san?”
Beatrice squeezed her eyes shut and opened them again.
“Um, Tirnanog-sama, am I correct?”
『Fumu! Just Tir is fine.』
“Erm, thank you very much for protecting me at that time.”
Beatrice’s sudden words of gratitude took Tirnanog by surprise.
“You were the one who destroyed those bricks and stone blocks that were about to fall on me, right?”
『You recognized me? How did you do that?』
Oh dear, I didn’t realize she knew I had Tirnanog stalk her.
Even though I concealed his presence with invisibility enchantments and amulets developed by the Turm family, she still noticed him.
I really do not know what to make of it.
“I do future vision training for at least an hour a day. That’s how I figured it out.”
“No, no, Erica-sama, I am just a beginner. Let’s see, so … ”
Beatrice’s face flushed as she lightly scratched the back of her head, looking extremely uneasy.
“One of my routine exercises is to look five minutes into the future every minute.”
“Five minutes into the future every minute? That would mean sixty times an hour?”
Another outrageous story came out of Beatrice’s mouth.
“My future vision is so inaccurate that I see a myriad of possibilities. On average, at least a hundred.”
“A hundred possibilities?”
If there are so many different possibilities, how can one even choose between them?
A hundred possibilities every minute, that would mean six thousands of them in an hour.
It is not humanely possible.
“I set up multiple artificial spirits to analyze the differences and calculate probability to increase the accuracy.”
“Analysis using artificial spirits… I see.”
So they calculate the probability of each possibility.
It really isn’t easy to predict the future, is it?
“Sometimes, quite frequently, all of those possibilities showed the same outcome.”
“All hundreds of them?”
So she usually sees a variety of possibilities, but sometimes they all converge at the same end?
That is not a normal situation, even an amateur like me can understand that.
“On top of that… this happened every time I was about to be involved in a sudden accident or trouble. For some reason, I was always saved. So I suspected it was the interference of someone’s absolute will.”
Wow, this absolute will is Tirnanog’s intention to protect her right?
So that’s how she figured it out, how amazing!
“So when I carefully analyzed the future vision, I noticed a space with very little density of dust.”
“Density of dust, you say?”
“Yes, Erica-sama. The shape of that space was roughly the same size.”
Beatrice looked at Tirnanog.
Are such subtle details noticeable?
Be it future visions, or the artificial spirits, the performance is amazing.
The ability to see the future is quite frightening.
In a different era, it wouldn’t be strange if she was seen as the queen.
That means her being the prime candidate to be the next head of the Wynt family isn’t just for show, huh.
“Ah! I see, so the truth of that anomaly was that there was something transparent by your side.”
Chloe clapped her hands after a short pause.
Chloe could detect a bullet due to a space devoid of magical energy, whereas Beatrice noticed Tirnanog’s presence from a space devoid of dust particles.
While their abilities and personalities may differ, they are both equally keen.
“But why didn’t you tell me about it!?”
“I am sorry, Chloe-chan. I realized that the dust-free space was about the size of Erica-sama’s golem, so … ”
Beatrice answered with hesitation.
Well, if such information were shared with Chloe, given her nature, I would have been deemed as an even more suspicious individual.
That fight against Chloe in the basement could have turned out so much worse.
Thank goodness Beatrice held her silence.
“I requested him to protect you. I’m sorry for not asking for your permission first, Beatrice-san.”
『I am also sorry if I frightened you unintentionally. It must have seemed very suspicious.』
“No, no, I wasn’t worried at all. The duel trial and all of that happened right after, so … ”
Beatrice smiled as she said this.
“Erica-sama, Tir-sama, someday I will definitely repay you for the kindness you have shown me.”
Those were some serious words, coming from a sincere and hard-working person.
But doesn’t this a momentum seem likely to raise a death flag for trying too hard?
“We have done nothing warranting a repayment, after all, there is still no telling what might happen to you.”
“Ah right, Erica-san was the ‘first signal’ and Beatrice was the ‘second signal’ right?”
Chloe accurately pointed out the problem.
Yes, we are pitiful existences meant to signal the game’s progression timeline.
We are already doing our best to survive.
“Ah! I-I forgot my position for a second…!”
“It’s alright, Beatrice-san, we will survive together.”
“That’s right, self-preservation comes first. After that if we can afford to, then let’s do our best for everyone else.”
This time, I tightly grasped Beatrice’s hand.
“Huh … Erica-san’s first priority … is self-preservation?”
『Hoh? You are talking about self-preservation?』
“Heeeh~ you really do prioritize self-preservation now, do you?”
Chloe, Tirnanog and Palug, all three of them stared at me with dubious expressions.
“What kind of self-preserving person willingly abandons their self-defense weapon in front of their adversary?”
『Fumu! It is also not very self-preserving to protect others from a Death Curse without sparing a thought.』
“Definitely not self-preserving to rush into the battlefield in spur of the moment, now is it?”
Their rebukes were so painful that it hurt my ears.
I was doing my best to protect myself in each of those cases, but I got swept away by the momentum.
Come to think of it, all three of these people had a history of trying to kill me …
Chloe’s words are even more painful to hear, especially because the whole scenario could have been avoided if I had only behaved a little normally!