༺ Monologue – Interlude (2) ༻
When highlighting the ballads that wandering bards abundantly sang in recent times, the subject would unquestionably be about the ‘Nameless Hero’ who subjugated the Floating Island.
After all, the ‘Black Monster’, who had suddenly appeared at Märchen Academy while defeating demons, was praised throughout the world with such an alias.
Moreover, there were reports that the Devil Pillar that appeared in the Astrea Duchy was also defeated by this same Nameless Hero.
The cold silver wind that had blown during the battle between the Black Monster and the Floating Island was witnessed even at the location where the Devil Pillar had emerged.
Despite the many hostages captured by the demon, there were 0 deaths. It was an unbelievable feat that closely followed the battle with the Floating Island, which similarly had no casualties.
As such, it was only a matter of course that this news reached the ears of Gerald Astrea, the Sword Saint, and Historia, the genius wizard.
“Is that so.”
In the middle of the night…
Inside a carriage that was hastily returning to the Astrea Duchy, a middle-aged man, with verdant green hair swept back, spoke in a low voice.
His reaction was quite subdued, considering the report he heard from the escort knight; the one who defeated the black tower demon was confirmed to be none other than the Nameless Hero.
It was extremely polarizing compared to the chilling wrath he first showed when notified about the emergence of the Devil Pillar.
Gerald gazed out the window with eyes that could be considered as fiery as the sun or as sharp as an eagle. A waning moon hung in one corner of the night sky.
An Archwizard who had vanquished the Floating Island alone without any sacrifices or losses of life.
Although there was no way to know how such an existence had hid their identity and popped up out of nowhere…
Regardless, it was an undeniable fact that such a figure had protected the Astrea Duchy.
“I seem to have incurred a debt to that wizard…”
Gerald wore a meaningful expression.
* * *
Adventurers’ accommodations. The glowing lamp on the desk was the only source of light, faintly illuminating the darkness of the night.
Amy Holloway, a girl with short white hair wearing pajamas, sat at the desk with her chin resting on her hand, lost in thought. The black rabbit ear ribbon she usually wore was nowhere to be found.
On the desk, elemental magic textbooks she had brought to review laid sprawled open, but Amy could not find it in herself to concentrate on the contents.
The black tower demon. And someone unidentifiable wearing a wizard robe.
The robe that the individual was wearing seemed to have a function that hindered identity recognition. After all, when she caught a glimpse, their figure was blurry and hard to distinguish.
However, she was the daughter of the Holloway County. Her bloodline ability [Heart Color Discernment] was always activated.
[Heart Color Discernment] was a magic that reflected the color of one’s heart and emotions. Moreover, it was one of the greatest contributors to the Holloway County’s continued survival in a noble society full of schemes and deceptions.
From what she heard from the knights under Astrea’s command, the one who defeated the black tower demon was the Nameless Hero; in other words, the Black Monster.
And the color of their heart was clearly…
“Blue and… Orange.’
A beautiful blue tinged with orange. It was a color that proved they had a kind-hearted nature, as well as a sweet hue that only appeared when one cherished Amy.
Since she only caught a very brief glimpse, it might not be accurate. Perhaps she even saw it wrong.
After all, not only did they hide themselves with an ice wall and a chilly aura…
But Amy herself was also incredibly distracted because she was blown away by Kaya’s wind magic.
However, if the color of their heart was real…
─‘I’m sorry, but I’m trying to kidnap you. Will you cooperate?’
Assuming they were an ice elemental user, there was only one person in Märchen Academy who displayed those very colors.
A silver-blue-haired boy whose prowess grew explosively after once being called the Academy’s Weakest.
As Amy recalled his face, her eyes widened in astonishment.
Although she reflexively shook her head at the absurd idea…
Certain questionable moments began to pile up one at a time when assuming that Isaac was actually the Nameless Hero.
As the night deepened, Amy’s suspicions only continued to accumulate, layer by layer.
* * *
Title: Prospective Second Year
– Mana Recovery Speed (A-)
Inside the continuously rattling carriage, I gripped the magic tool, training my Mana Mastery, as I checked the status window. I was currently on my way back to Märchen Academy.
The demon incident in the Astrea Duchy had been cleanly wrapped up.
After casting [Frostwind], I quickly escaped the area swallowed by Babel the Corrupted and entered a nearby forest.
Fortunately, it was a forest where the snow-covered winter trees still had some thawed areas. Moreover, a small cave was visible, suitable for hiding.
Shortly after, I surveyed the surroundings with [Clairvoyance]. It seemed the Knight Order under Astrea’s command was gradually heading towards the location where Babel had first appeared.
I waited for things to simmer down in the small cave, then cautiously approached the direction of the carriage station, resting in another cave in the middle of my escapade.
And early in the morning, I stuffed my robe into my magic pouch and left the forest to catch a carriage.
If I rode Hilde, it would just be a blatant display that the Black Monster had arrived at Märchen Academy, so I judged that it was better to safely return by carriage instead.
As far as I could recall, when it specifically came to carriages bound for Märchen Academy, gels could be used as currency even on the mainland. This was because currency exchange was possible at the academy’s main gate.
It was regrettable that I had to go back without talking with Kaya to my heart’s content, but it wouldn’t matter too much if it was postponed until after the break.
The location where the Devil Pillar appeared and the bridge connecting Märchen Academy to the mainland were relatively close to each other. I was expected to arrive at the academy early at night.
‘Let’s do a midway evaluation.’
Considering that it was currently difficult for me to properly train, it would be a good idea to do a midway evaluation to organize my thoughts.
If I checked the definitive things first…
‘First, [Mana Recovery Speed].’
[Mana Recovery Speed] had increased from B+ to A-. Although I did not know whether it occurred right after obtaining the Obsidian Blade or after eliminating Babel the Corrupted, however… that wasn’t important right now.
I could vividly feel that the speed at which mana recovered was significantly faster compared to my days as a Grade E.
Back then, it felt like my mana recovered naturally as if water was trickling down, whereas now, it felt more like a flood.
‘Next, the Obsidian Blade.’
Thanks to Gormos’ Obsidian Blade, I gained several 7-star skills.
Personally, the skill I desired the most was the passive skill, [Eclipse].
Now, even if a powerful enemy capable of doing life-threatening damage attacked, I could stand tall…
And with my arms crossed, I could drop meteors on their faces while uttering cool lines like ‘This is order.’.
Moving on, when I dealt that one blow to Babel the Corrupted Phase 2, [Stone Breathing – First Form] didn’t fully activate; perhaps it was because I didn’t know how to properly swing the sword yet. How should I put it… It felt like only half of it had activated.
It seemed that if I wielded the sword with only brute force, skills like [Stone Breathing] and [Heavenly Rock Strike] could not be used to their full extent.
It worked perfectly fine in ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱, but that was probably because Ian was skilled in swordsmanship.
‘I should at least learn the necessary posture for using these skills.’
At the very least, I needed to practice the correct swordsmanship movements to be able to use the skills of the Obsidian Blade.
Well, I could probably just find someone who was good at wielding a greatsword and ask for advice. I didn’t need to delve too deeply into swordsmanship.
‘I have to give the [Corrupted Dust] as well.’
I took out the cube inside my pocket. A solid texture. The cube was scattering an alien-like ash-gray light.
It would be better to give this cube to Ian. If he unfolded the light elemental domain, he could affect enemies with Divine Power without even having to fight.
When looking back at the actions of SSS-Class Master Fainter, Ian Faintingtale, until now…
There was no way he wouldn’t faint against enemies that emerged during Year 2 Semester 2, such as Calgart the Necromancer or Thanatos the Ruination.
If he couldn’t pour out Divine Power against those bastards, a Bad Ending was practically guaranteed.
– Magic Training Efficiency (S): 100/100 [MAX]
– Learning Efficiency (S): 98/100 [UP]
Now, if I invested just 2 more stat points, I could max out my Growth Rate Potential.
Considering that players could only reach MAX Growth Rate by the middle of Year 2 Semester 1 in ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱, my current speed was incredibly fast.
‘Taking down the Floating Island really was huge.’
The Floating Island.
In ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱, it was an out-of-norm demon that could never be defeated without Dorothy’s sacrifice.
Thinking about that bastard made the fragmented memories recalled during the Trial of Sandstone pass through my mind like a rain shower.
The rattling sound of the carriage wheels.
As if time had come to a stop, I could not help but hold my breath for a while.
The Trial of Sandstone had revealed the memories I had lost, as if turning on a spotlight within the darkness.
I didn’t remember everything; I could only catch a brief glimpse of certain memories.
In the 1st Round, I could not prevent the scenario where Dorothy faced her death alongside the Floating Island.
As such, I despaired and I regretted. But despite that, I steadfastly continued my journey to vanquish the Evil God…
And in the final moments, I lost pathetically.
In the end, Ian died and the world perished.
I looked out the window. White snow was fluttering as it fell, coloring the world in its hue.
Suddenly, I recalled the first time I transmigrated into this world.
At first, I was in denial of my reality, calling the situation a ‘common cliché’.
However, as I keenly became aware that this world had become my reality, I set a goal to defeat the Evil God in order to survive.
I knew now; there was something more to the backstory of my possession of Isaac in this world.
‘It was obvious, though.’
It would actually be strange not to consider that some transcendent force was involved in such a supernatural phenomenon.
However, it was best to postpone such contemplations. After all, for now, no clear answer would be deduced by pondering with my troubled mind.
‘Still, one thing is certain.’
This 2nd Round had distinctly different outcomes compared to the 1st Round.
I had saved Dorothy…
And had explosively leveled up after defeating the Floating Island.
This irreversible fact ignited the flames of determination within me.
On the gravel road leading to the bridge. Under the somber ash-gray clouds releasing white snowflakes, the scene of the Arkins Sea, waves gently swelling, reflected upon my eyes.
As I felt the peaceful atmosphere, quite different from the apocalyptic landscape in my memories…
I couldn’t help but stare blankly at such scenery for a long while.
When I arrived at Märchen Academy, the sky was already painted with an inky black hue.
Before anything, I wanted to talk with Dorothy, who had intervened in the Trial of Sandstone.
‘Where is Dorothy?’
I wondered, ‘Could she be in the Josena Forest hideout?’, so I probed the dark forest path in search of her.
The fire of the hideout’s lamps was ignited. My guess seemed right on the money.
As I opened the door and entered, Dorothy’s white cat familiar, Ella, greeted me.
Her voice was coy yet haughty per usual.
“Why are you here?”
[We all have our reasons. But more importantly, over there.]
Ella gestured towards the bed with her chin.
A goddess with light purple hair was peacefully sleeping in casual attire, as if this was her own home.
“Doro- Senior Dorothy?”
Since Ella was beside me, I hurriedly added her title as a Senior.
[She’s been like that for two days. Sleeping, I mean.]
Next to the bed, the faint light of the partially-opened lamp flickered in the darkness.
I sat down on a chair next to the bed Dorothy was sleeping in. Ella, as if waiting for this moment, began to narrate her story with the tone of a haughty lady.
Her story went in one ear and out the other; 80% of her story were complaints, saying how bored and aggrieved she was because she had to be by Dorothy’s side 24/7 for the past two days.
To put it simply…
Due to the strain of intervening in another worldline, Dorothy had been sleeping continuously for two days.
And it was the first time Ella had ever seen Dorothy this exhausted.
‘That sounds about right.’
Even though I had only briefly heard about it, it seemed to be an ability that transcended human comprehension.
It was so impressive that it raised doubts whether this was really within the realm of mere talent, as she had not even reached the level of an Archwizard yet.
Either way, just as expected of Dorothy.
Thanks to her, I had resolved the most bothersome issue, so I was only filled with gratitude for her.
The memory of the monument erected in her honor suddenly flashed through my mind, making my heart throb in pain, as if it was poked by thorns.
It was a memory of the 1st Round.
However, Dorothy was here before me, alive and well.
She was innocently snoring in a deep and peaceful slumber.
As I ruminated over such a fact, a faint smile suddenly formed on my lips. She looked so incredibly lovely.
Feeling Ella’s subtle look, I tried desperately to suppress my laughter by covering my mouth, but my joy was inevitable.
“Is Senior’s condition okay?”
[As far as I can tell. She might wake up tomorrow, I expect?]
After jumping on top of the bed, Ella answered while gently shaking Dorothy’s cheeks with her paws.
Her head swayed without resistance.
[She is sleeping quite deeply, you know? I tried playing a prank out of boredom, but she didn’t wake up at all. Basically, this is a perfect chance to mess with Dorothy to your heart’s content.]
“Is that so.”
[And since I’m a cat who does a lot of other things, I often have to take my eyes off of Dorothy. Whenever that happens, no matter what you do, I wouldn’t notice.]
[Uhuh, I would absolutely never know. Definitely. Oops, it’s time for me to go do other things. From now on, no matter what you do to Dorothy, I will have no idea.]
Suddenly, Ella stepped down from the bed and moved away with a coy expression.
‘What is she going on and on about? Why is she like this right now?’
I used [Psychological Insight].
Ella, this girl, was as scandalous as Galia.
Are all familiars usually like this…?
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