༺ Uninvited Guest (3) ༻
A black ribbon swayed in the wind.
Like its sinister color, it maliciously wrapped itself around Siwoo.
As if it was a net capturing a fleeing bird.
Instinctively, Siwoo tried to decipher the rule behind it as he looked at the part of the ribbon that was blocking the door out of the reception room.
Magic was an intricate field of study.
Regardless of the purpose of the spell, there were certain rules and principles that needed to be followed.
What Siwoo sensed upon casting his eyes on it was the waves of radiating mana.
The sequential waves descended from top to bottom, signified that this ribbon would be blocking the door from above to below.
Siwoo’s body slid down as if he was attempting a baseball slide.
It was a close call.
But his attempt at making a dramatic escape succeeded. He watched the ribbon pass over his head.
He hastily got back on his feet before looking behind him, to see that the ribbon had completely covered the door he just passed.
If he had hesitated even slightly, he would have been captured without any chance of escaping.
A crazy witch obsessed with magic.
Infamous for her heartlessness and lack of emotion, an Exile.
The moment he got caught by her, it was clear what kind of fate would befall him.
Siwoo sprinted through the central staircase and dashed into his room without a second thought.
It was impossible to escape from a witch without revealing his magic.
On his bed, there was a high-grade bottle of mana water and ten vials of concentrated mana that was given to him by the twins.
It might be difficult to outrun that wicked witch even if he were to use ‘water lizard strides’, but it was still better than trying to do it by foot.
Besides, that Exile wouldn’t even imagine that a mere slave like him could use magic.
‘If I can take advantage of that carelessness, get to the music box and successfully activate it, I should be able to get enough time to ask help from the surroundings.’
“Why now of all times…!”
There was no way that the Exile would come to seek Amelia for a decent reason.
Not to mention that she was already involved in Amelia’s kidnapping incident.
If only Amelia met her by accident on her way out, he could enjoy an epic magic battle while clapping his hands on the side.
After all, no matter how strong Ea was, Amelia herself was a highly experienced witch.
“I’m screwed… Fuck!”
Panting heavily, Siwoo rummaged beneath his bed.
He could hear footsteps gradually getting closer.
As he expected, she didn’t seem to be in a hurry.
Like a cat toying with its prey, she spent her hunting time leisurely.
He nearly overturned the bed as he retrieved the items he needed.
The twins gave him a lot of things, so he couldn’t just take everything with him. So, he only took the cloak with powerful enhancement on it, the music box and the mana water.
At that moment, the curtains swayed like skirt being blown up by the wind.
‘Did I leave the window open?’
But there was no time to dwell on that trivial doubt.
“We came to visit you secretly again tonight, Mr. Assistant!”
If there were people who’d jump through his window in the middle of the night.
They would be the twins who thought that they could enjoy a secret rendezvous with him tonight as well.
Siwoo felt his head becoming dizzy.
It felt like a fire broke out in the apartment while he was sleeping, but when he was running away from the fire, he suddenly remembered that he had left his cat behind.
‘Why do they have to come tonight?’
While the twins probably just wanted to enjoy their time hanging out with Siwoo, unfortunately for them, this was the worst time possible to visit him.
“Ms. Odile, Ms. Odette, listen to me. We’re fucked. Originally, it was just me who was fucked, but now you two are also fucked. C’mon, let’s run away quickly!”
“W-What? Did Ms. Professor find out about everything?”
“I thought I turned on the music box properly!”
“It’s not about that…!”
In hindsight, it would be better if it was Amelia who was chasing him right now.
It wasn’t unusual for an Exile to kill an apprentice witch and take their ‘bowl’ away.
‘At this rate, the twins will get caught in this…’
Siwoo’s reaction left the twins bewildered.
His gesture and manner of speaking gave off the feeling as if he was getting chased by a ferocious tiger.
“What’s going on?”
“There’s no time to explain! We need to run away now!”
Because of their momentary hesitation, Ea managed to catch up to them.
The ribbons on her back still fluttered like wings.
“Do you really need to run away? I just wanted to talk… Now I feel heartbroken.”
Ea entered the room while humming a tune. Her pupils narrowed slightly.
Her eyes caught the sight of two apprentice witches who clearly had a ‘youthful’ atmosphere surrounding them.
The corners of her mouth formed a crescent-moon shape in response to her unexpected stroke of luck.
She licked her lips like someone discovering delicious sweets at a buy 1 get 2 free promotion event.
“I’ve been a good girl lately it seems. I was supposed to taste just a single slave, but now I got to taste two apprentice witches too.”
Siwoo’s pale face.
A witch they had never seen before.
The magic behind her, that seemed to brim with malice.
Not to mention that she was talking about killing, a taboo act in Gehenna.
At that moment, the twins finally realized the gravity of the situation.
“C-Could it be…? A-An Exile?”
There was no precedent to its movement.
A single strand of black ribbon that had been twisting and turning in the air suddenly surged forward.
They didn’t have time to observe its movement, let alone react to it.
Luckily, Siwoo was lifting his cloak to shield them, not because he managed to read the ribbon’s movements, but because he sensed danger coming from her.
A deafening sound echoed through the room.
On the other side of the cloak, a defensive barrier was spread out.
But, even that tightly woven, three-layered magic formation was shattered into pieces after receiving a single strike from that ribbon.
The cloak tore into pieces, turning into mere scraps.
Amidst the scattered remains of the defensive barrier that resembled glass shards, Siwoo could see Ea’s disappointed face.
“You thought that scrap could protect you? That was why you ran away to this place?”
Dozens of ribbons vibrated in response to Ea’s laughter, as she mocked her prey’s cute effort to escape.
“I’ll stop her! Mr. Assistant, you— Ahh!”
“To hell with that! Just run!”
He boldly grabbed Odile, who was trying to block Ea’s attack, and the trembling Odette’s waist before jumping outside the window.
In this desperate moment, he felt like an otherworldly power surged from within him, making it possible for him to do such a feat.
Despite their awkward position, the twins still managed to cast levitation magic so that they could land safely on the ground.
“W-What are you doing? We should do the same thing as last time! Divide our roles! I’ll buy us some time!”
“How are we supposed to beat that monster?! Escaping together is our best option right now!”
After he calmed Odile down, Siwoo grabbed a bottle of mana water and drank it as it was before looking up at the window.
There, Ea calmly observed the three fleeing figures without any sense of urgency.
“Your name is Shin Siwoo, isn’t it?”
Despite the considerable distance between them, Siwoo could hear Ea’s gentle voice as if she was speaking right next to him.
She probably directed the sound directly to his ear, giving him the impression that only he could hear it.
“Stop your futile resistance and give me the apprentice witches. In exchange, I’ll grant you the ultimate pleasure. It isn’t like you’ll be able to escape.”
At that moment, Siwoo noticed something.
He couldn’t see it from inside the mansion, but a thin translucent barrier had enveloped the entire area.
It resembled a water bottle as it encompassed the entirety of the mansion.
“I’ll consider it after I escape.”
Siwoo hugged the twins against his side, just like before.
Mana flowed through his entire body.
Since his body couldn’t contain the mana for too long, he directed the rapidly depleting mana into his legs.
Seeing the sight of Siwoo using magic made Ea widen her eyes.
But Siwoo didn’t have the time to care about that.
In an instant, his body exploded with all of his mana, disappearing from Ea’s sight at a speed akin to the wind.
“Mr. Assistant…! You can put us down now!”
“We can run on our own!”
Siwoo distanced himself as much as possible from the mansion and hid in the garden.
He hoped that the maze of vine-covered flowers that reached up to his height might momentarily divert Ea’s attention.
Of course it was merely a fleeting hope and he knew that it wouldn’t happen.
Drenched in sweat, he gently put the twins down.
He stopped here instead of hiding deeper because this spot was where he came into contact with the translucent barrier’s boundary.
“What was that all about? Is she an Exile?”
“Yes. We’re stuck in a situation similar back when we were in the Latifundium. Do you have a way to contact someone outside?”
Siwoo asked Odile while picking up a twig nearby and touching the barrier with it.
He didn’t do this for no reason.
This was so that he could confirm what kind of effect it had.
Immediately, the twig started to melt away.
It was as if an unidentified liquid flowed steadily from the tip of the twig, like metal making contact with a highly corrosive acid.
‘What would happen if I had rushed forward and collided with this barrier without knowing this?’
Siwoo could feel his blood run cold.
“As expected… We can’t get out…”
“Are we being trapped again?”
This whole situation was reminiscent of when they were chased by a Homunculus in the Latifundium.
The only difference was that, this time, their pursuer was an even more dangerous being than the Homunculus.
“Yes, so can you contact—”
“I gave you ten seconds, yet you could only make it this far?”
Siwoo’s stiff neck turned toward the source of the voice.
Like walking on top of a sturdy brick wall, Ea’s figure gracefully perched on a thin vine with ease.
From where he stood, he could see her panties beneath her fluttering dress.
“You filthy traitor! Do you know who our master is?”
“I know, of course. You’re the cheeky offspring of the arrogant Gemini who’s always been a thorn in my side.”
Ea descended with a cold face, stepping on the ribbons that she laid out like steps of stairs in the air.
Seeing her draw near, the three of them found themselves completely powerless.
They could see the malice exuded in her breath as if it was a tangible thing.
Her mocking smile and her exceptionally casual tone emitted an immense sense of terror that made them feel deep despair.
“Do you know? The witches that you called ‘Exiles’ are especially skilled in barrier magic, as it’s something that severs one’s connection to the outside world.”
Among them were the witches who harmed other witches or apprentice witches. They were considered as ‘public enemies’ and were the main targets of witch hunts.
Ea was notorious for her wickedness and she was able to traverse through the modern world with ease due to her proficiency in barrier magic. She was able to produce a barrier that rivaled even the music box.
“You’re already inside my bottle, you’re basically inside my mouth already, ready to be chewed. If you find my words hard to believe, you can raise your voice and call your master’s name. Might as well do it while crying to make it more entertaining.”
The normally lively and spirited Odile became meek the moment Ea turned her sharp gaze toward her. She grabbed Siwoo’s sleeve while holding her breath.
She could tell that the Exile’s words weren’t empty boasts.
Such a large-scale barrier was set up, but there was no sign of other witches nearby.
It meant the barrier didn’t only act as an unbreakable wall, but also as a cradle that kept the outside world from peering inside.
This was the reason why the wicked witch dared to commit such atrocities in the middle of Gehenna.
“Which one of you is the older sister? And which one is the younger one?”
Odile faltered at the unexpected question.
However, she quickly steadied her breathing and answered that question with a trembling voice.
“I-I am the older sister.”
Odile’s decision was a calculated one.
She could only tell Ea’s magic level faintly, but she was aware that the wicked witch wasn’t someone that could be beaten with small tricks.
After all, this was the same witch who had shattered a coat ridden with the highest-grade protective enhancements in one effortless strike.
And she was wielding dozens of ribbons that could produce such an attack.
“Let’s make a deal. I am way more talented than this disappointing little sister of mine. So, if you need a bowl to take, take mine and let her go.”
“Sis?! What are you talking about?!”
Since the other party opened up a room for conversation, someone could sacrifice themselves so the rest could escape. Odile thought that she should take on that role.
Ea showed a hint of interest in Odile’s words as she licked her smiling lips before opening her mouth to speak.
“That’s a good idea. Trying to catch energetic little brats like you all is a little bothersome. It’s hard to capture a group of ants without killing them, after all.”
Then, she tilted her head gently before showing them a cruel smile.
“Since that’s the case, why don’t you all consider my proposal as well?”
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