Nyuu looks down at the bodies in the devastated research lab. Her dark brown hair and eyes are accompanied by lame-looking glasses and the academy uniform.
She can dress up in inconspicuous clothing, but she has a sexiness that cannot be hidden.
“The Crimson Order’s ‘Glen of the Lion Mane,’ huh.”
The corpse’s anguish-filled face is glaring vacantly at empty air. It seems that he had suffered quite a lot before dying.
He was quite famous within the Knight Order, but with his magic sealed, he became easy picking.
Then Nyuu’s interest shifts elsewhere.
There is one more knight on the ground. He is actually still breathing.
“Marco Granger. So you had entered the Crimson Order.”
Nyuu recognizes him.
He has beautiful blue hair and a handsome face, and is also quite skilled as a knight. There were even rumors that he might be elected as the Grand Commander of the Knight Order in the future. Now that she’s thinking about it, she remembers that he has also had a strong sense of justice ever since he was young.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, Marco had been Nyuu’s fiancé.
They’ve exchanged many letters, and have danced together in many balls. But in the end, he was only the partner that her parents had decided. Nyuu doesn’t know what he had thought of her, but to the very end, she never did come to fall in love with him.
But then again, she didn’t particularly hate him either.
She didn’t love him, but she did think of him as a nice person.
She didn’t feel averse to the idea of marrying him in the future, and had actually thought that by marrying this person who everyone praises, she might have a shining future ahead of her.
Path, decided by someone else.
Partner, decided by someone else.
Future, decided by someone else.
Back then, Nyuu had a very thin sense of will. She merely followed along with the values espoused by those around her, and obeyed the orders from those in a position to order her. Even now, she doesn’t think such a way of living is that bad. It’s just that in comparison to her current life, it seems so very constrained.
While looking at Marco’s face, Nyuu recalls the memories of them dancing together.
Remembering herself being brought around like an accessory by the handsome Marco, Nyuu smiles wryly.
Memories that she wants to forget, but cannot forget.
“Nyuu, what are you doing?”
Nyuu turns around at the voice that suddenly addresses her.
She feels no presence, but there’s no need for alarm. Because she recognizes that voice.
There is a black-haired teenage boy with a common-looking face standing in the research lab.
The boy walks past Nyuu, then opens a cupboard in the lab.
“This person used to be my fiancé.”
“Heeh~ What are you going to do about him then?”
“Personally speaking, I have no reason to save him, nor any reason to kill him.”
“Isn’t that fine to just leave him be, then?”
So saying, the boy continues looking for something in the cupboard.
Nyuu leaves Marco and stands beside the boy.
“Shadow-sama, I’m sorry for the delay, but I have something to report.”
“Currently, Shadow Garden is lying in wait in the vicinity of the academy. They can move as soon as you give the order.”
“However, there would be a certain risk with fighting under this magic restriction. The only ones who can move as usual are the Seven Shadows, but the only one of them currently in the capital is Gamma-sama. And, um, Gamma-sama is not very suited for this kind of……”
“Yep, she’s got zero sense.”
“That’s…… yes, sir. As for me, I can only use about 50% of my usual strength……”
“Gamma-sama is currently taking general command. She predicts that this state of magic restriction would not last long, so her standing order is for us to standby until it is lifted.”
“The men in black have barricaded themselves in the auditorium, then shown no further movement. They have also not made any demands. The Knight Order has the academy surrounded, but the only one of them who has enough strength to fight these men is Iris Midgar and the Grand Commander. Due to the fact that the two of them are usually at each other’s throats, cooperation between them is highly unlikely.”
“Do you have any further instructions for us, Shadow-sama? If not, then we’ll continue being on standby.”
“Will that be all, sir?”
“Un…… ah, wait a second.”
“I’m looking for a few things, give me a hand. Mithril forceps, earth dragon powdered bones, ash magic stones……”
As the boy continues to rattle off a list of utensils and ingredients, Nyuu takes them out from the cupboards and shelves.
“Thanks, you were a great help.”
“It was my pleasure. Umm, may I ask what you are going to do with all these?”
Nyuu asks the teenage boy who has both hands full.
“Aah, this? It’s for modifying an artifact.”
“Modifying an artifact?”
It is beyond her expectation that he would be proficient even with artifacts, but then again, his existence being what it is, it would not be surprising if he is. But it’s just, why this during the current situation?
“What’s causing the magic interference right now is an artifact called the Eye of Avarice. These are for the final modifications to a different artifact that can temporarily cancel out the effects of the Eye of Avarice.”
“How…… as expected of Shadow-sama.”
To think that he’s already determined the cause of the magic interference, and is even already in the process of preparing a countermeasure.
But to prepare something that can counteract an artifact capable of causing such an enormous magic interference would require an abnormal amount of knowledge. In fact, it would be impossible without knowledge on par with the top minds of the country.
Nyuu shivers at his unfathomable brilliance.
“It should be done around when the sun sets.”
“Then we will ready ourselves to begin moving in concert with that timing.”
“It’s gonna be fun, isn’t it?”
After seeing off the teenage boy with utensils and ingredients in both hands, Nyuu reconfirms her former fiancé’s consciousness.
Her jet black blade touches his neck.
His breathing and heartbeat are both normal, with no tremor.
He is indeed alive, but unconscious.
“Guess you got lucky today.”
Leaving only a shallow cut on his neck, Nyuu turns around and leaves.
Seeing Sid coming back with utensils in his arms, Sherry smiles.
She takes each item from him and lines it up on the table.
“Thank you very much. With this, I will be able to finish it.”
Sherry immediately goes back to working on the artifact.
Sid takes a seat on the sofa and reads a book.
The time passes by in silence.
The sunlight shining through the windows gradually takes on a madder red shade.
Every once in a while, Sid gets up to go to the toilet.
Seeing Sid going to the toilet so often, Sherry hands him some digestive medicine, which he accepts with a complicated look on his face.
Then the sun sets. The madder red color grows darker, and the shadows begin to grow thicker.
When Sherry lights a lamp, the outside of the room has already gotten another shade darker.
The sun has already completely disappeared when Sherry’s work is finally finished.
Sherry looks up at Sid with the pendant in her hands.
Sid, who is reading a book with his legs crossed elegantly, looks up.
“Yep, I did it!”
“Un, the sun has also set, so it’s good timing too. The future of the academy is in your hands.”
Sid stands up and gives Sherry’s back a few pats.
“There’s no longer anything for me to help you with. Go and save the world with your own hands.”
“I, I’ll do my best!”
After replying in a slightly nervous voice, Sherry picks up the lamp and heads towards the staircase leading underground.
“Really thank you so much, Sid-kun. It’s all thanks to you that I can go save my stepfather.”
Right before she reaches the staircase, Sherry turns around and lowers her head.
“All I did was lend you a tiny bit of help. Everything else was your own effort. Hope your stepfather is safe.”
Sherry flashes one last smile, then descends the staircase.
The damp staircase continues downwards for a while, until it stops in front of a tunnel with different air.
Her lamp is the only illumination in these dark underground passages.
If she makes one wrong turn, she could very easily get lost.
Sherry opens her map and confirms the route to the auditorium.
“I have to go straight, then take the third right……”
Her progress at the beginning is slow and fearful.
She remembers having taken these passages before with her stepfather. Even though he was busy with work, she had selfishly begged him to play with her. It is a precious memory for Sherry, one that she’ll never forget.
She has no memory of her actual father. He had died soon after her birth.
Her memories of her mother is also fading. She had been killed in the night by a robber when Sherry was 9.
That night, Sherry had been hiding in a closet and peeking out from a crack. She remembers the black shadow of the robber, her mother’s scream, and that disturbing laughter. Even to this day, sometimes they still plague her dreams.
For several years after that incident, Sherry wasn’t able to speak at all. She rejected everything around her, and focused solely on the artifact that her mother had left behind. She immersed herself in research, as if to follow her mother’s footsteps.
The one who saved her was her stepfather.
He adopted her, supported her research, and showered her with the love of a father, until she finally regained her voice.
For Sherry, memories of family are mostly all with her stepfather.
She has been supported by her stepfather all this way. Finally the day has come for her to do something back in return.
“I’ve got to make sure this succeeds.”
Sherry continues proceeding down the passage, all alone.
There is no longer fear in her steps.
After a short while, she reaches her destination.
“So this is underneath the auditorium……”
There are several paths here.
One leads to the first floor, one leads to the middle, and one leads to the second floor……
She confirms with her map in hand, then walks on.
Then she finds it.
It is a small vent grill between the second and third floors.
It’s too small for a human to go through, but more than enough to throw the pendant through.
Sherry furtively peeks through the vent grill.
The main trick to erasing her presence is to let all the strength out of her body. Sid had told her so.
She lets out all her strength, and slows down her breathing.
There are many students sitting in the auditorium. There are also quite a few teachers.
The number of men in black are actually not that high. Sherry thinks that as soon as the magic interference is gone, escape should indeed be possible.
Sherry backs away from the grill, then takes out the pendant.
Then she places the prepared magic stone into the slot on the pendant, which then begins to give off white light and letters.
Firmly gripping the shining pendant in her hand, Sherry throws it into the auditorium through the vent grill without any hesitation whatsoever.