“That’s pure photons!?” An enemy leader said.
“Impossible! Unprocessed photon is supposed to be harmless!” Another enemy leader said.
“Hhat in ha urd…” The enemy leader with missing teeth said.
That’s why the soldiers charged in without hesitation.
They judged that the black light couldn’t be anything more than a light show since it was using pure photons.
Truly, something that could be somewhat understood was much more terrifying than something completely incomprehensible.
Of course, something that went beyond one’s common sense was indeed terrifying, but something uncertain that remained within the boundaries of one’s common sense was even more terrifying.
In the face of something supposedly harmless proving to be so destructive, they were greatly agitated.
『You abused that child so much, and now, this is how you’re acting? Pathetic.』
A person’s mana could change nature according to one’s will.
But one either had to be of the demon tribe or someone with considerable skill in order to deal physical damage with it.
Regardless, given how much they’d criticized the girl, the response they were showing now was simply too sad.
『Oh, but the surprises don’t end there───』
───Hurry up and let those kids go already.
“What!?” The enemy stepping on Yousuke said.
“Tsk, where!?” Yoshihisa said.
When they heard that voice that soudned like it was whispering by their ears, they became agitated.
They searched with their eyes, but the mask hadn’t moved at all.
“A skill? No, we should be the only ones able to use a skill!” The enemy stepping on Yousuke said.
“Just his voice reached us? He can do that without spiritual power!?” Yoshihisa said.
These people knew nothing about magic, so it was impossible for them to realize that it was through the wind that the mask’s voice was able to reach them.
And then a mocking breath and the snapping of a finger resounded by their ears.
That finger snap had triggered a spell, but because they did not have understanding, they could neither sense nor block it, and in the next moment, the boys were taken away.
“Uu, ah… Huh?” Yousuke said.
“*Cough, *cough… Huh? What?” Ryou said.
Instantly, they reappeared behind the mask, next to the girls.
When the two boys they had taken hostage suddenly disappeared, the men became visibly agitated even from a distance.
Teleporting was easy when the target and destination were both in sight.
At least, that was the case for this
“Ryou! The little brother! Thank goodness, you’re both safe!” Tomoe said.
“T-Tomoe? What are you doing at a place like this. And who the heck is that!?” Ryou said.
“Nee-chan!” Yousuke said.
Ryou was confused by the sudden change in their situation and the presence of the mysterious existence, but Yousuke only saw his sister.
“You, suke… I, I…”
“You don’t have to say anything! Yeah, you weren’t wrong. You didn’t do anything wrong!”
The older Senba seemed to say something while trembling, but the younger one interjected, and kept shaking his head as he kept telling her that.
But in the end, was that him telling her that, or was that him telling himself that?
Somehow, someway, it seemed as though he wanted those words to be true.
“…Sorry, it’s my fault,” Tomoe said.
Anyone could see that both Senbas were wounded.
Given that the mask couldn’t come in time because of her, perhaps she was the one to blame for this mess.
If she hadn’t acted needlessly, if she had just borrowed the strength of that foulmouthed examiner, then perhaps things would’ve turned out differently. Perhaps the mask would’ve come here first too.
Tomoe couldn’t help but feel that way, and inadvertently, she bit her lips.
『Sigh───Water, wipe away the filth.』
The mask sighed and then weaved words that neither she nor the translator device could understand.
It sounded like it was scolding her, but such suspicions quickly vanished.
For a large amount of water suddenly fell on them from above, and Tomoe found herself crying out in a shrill voice, while the twins to become stunned from shock.
Ryou didn’t get hit by the waterfall, but he was similarly dumbfounded because a waterfall appeared out of nowhere.
Strangely enough, that was ‘enough’ to wash away the ‘red’ that stained them.
“W-What are you doing!?” Tomoe said.
“…Did this do that?” Ryou asked.
Still not realizing what had happened, Tomoe reflexively yelled at the mask, but the mask just nonchalantly replied.
『I figured you needed a clear shower to clear your head. 』
“My head is perfectly clear!”
『I know. I did it on purpose. I’m really sorry.』
The mask’s words may have been apologetic, but the tone of its voice couldn’t be more impolite.
In the face of that strange voice, from which only the nuance could be accurately heard, veins bulged on Tomoe’s face.
“Y-You’re not being apologetic at all!!”
『How rude, I clearly apologized just now. At least, my words were. 』
“At least your words were!? Hey! You’re not even trying to hide it!!”
Tomoe raised hell, while the mask was as slippery as an eel.
If one were to just listen to their conversation, it sounded like they were messing around, but this was in fact the conversation between a girl and a black mist.
“I thought I’d gotten used to seeing weird stuff already, but what the heck is this supposed to be?” Ryou said.
In the face of that strange and eerie sight, everyone couldn’t help but become confused.
Ryou felt an especially strong malaise because of his resistance and familiarity with strange things.
That thing that seemed like a black mist without Spirit Sight released an uneasy feeling even worse than vengeful ghosts, and yet, his childhood friend was complaining to it like that was a perfectly natural thing to do.
The only reason he could be relaxed in this situation was because she didn’t show any hostility for the black mist.
“Ah, Youko? Don’t worry, everything’s fine!” Tomoe said.
When Tomoe saw Youko looking strangely at the black mist, she panicked.
“This guy might look a bit creepy, but he’s definitely a friend!”
Even the mask itself was half-dumbfounded and half-impressed that the first explanation she would give about itself was that.
When Tomoe explained that the mask was just joking with them, the mask saw that the unnecessary emotions have finally left the girls’ faces.
With that, it could finally begin
“I-I know. We met him before,” Youko said.
“He saved us during the bombing incident,” Yousuke said.
The Senbas remembered that incident in April.
“Really?” Tomoe said with a surprised face as she turned to the mask.
The mask itself didn’t agree about calling that, saving, but there was no point bothering to explain itself, so it just nodded.
『…Let’s just say that’s what happened. Now then, have you calmed enough to notice me? 』
The mask stood at a position it could look down on them, and then spoke in a way that seemed to emphasize ‘calming down’.
At that, the twins nodded in harmony as they sat up straight on the ground.
“…It sure is rare seeing those two so meek at the same time,” Ryou said.
“Rather than checking up on them, aren’t you just compelling them?” Tomoe said.
The two were surprised to see the behavior of this twins, whom they have known since enrollment, but the mask didn’t mind at all, and just nonchalantly continued.
『In that case, you should take a good look at the wreckage calmly. ────In the meantime, I’ll face them.』
As the mask ignored the children, it swung its arms.
In the next moment, the sound of an impact resounded, and fragments of some sort scattered, while an exoskeleton came to view.
But the one that was surprised was the enemy that attacked by surprise.
There was nothing at the end of the battle axe that descended as though it had always been like that.
Although the black mist was hard to discern, one could still see that it was human-shaped, and from that, roughly infer the movements of its arms.
Just one swing of its arm was all that it took to pulverize the weapon of the enemy and leave it in shock.
Of course, the mask wasn’t so soft as to leave him alone in that moment of weakness.
In the next moment, it took its other arm and struck out with the heel of its palm, and then detonated its mana upon release.
When two energies of the same type collide, the greater energy would always win.
Which is why when the compressed mana that gathered into a single point exploded, the exoskeleton’s barrier was negated, and that armor several hundred kilos heavy, was sent out flying like a ball.
The enemy inside screamed his heart out, but fortunately for him, the sounds of the explosion, the clouds of dust rising, and him tumbling made it impossible to hear his screams.
『What a bunch of boorish men. I’m going to reveal all your tricks, so you need to wait. 』
When the enemy stopped screaming and tumbling, the mask muttered that toward the cloud of dust that had yet to disappear.
All the while casually turning his arm to an unexpected direction.
『I’m talking to you. 』
A crescent smile bloomed beneath the mask.
The moment the enemy appeared again, it was right in front of the black mist, and he was just about to run a lance through, but a gun was already pointed at him.
As a brief, roaring gun shot resounded, a hammer of compressed air smashed into the enemy, and the enemy was sent flying as though he’d been hit by an invisible wall.
The enemy drew a beautiful parabola in his course before falling back to the ground and reenacting the scene just a few seconds ago.
He tumbled through the trees, knocking them down one after another, while giving rise to clouds of dust.
『I know you reinforced it with mana and all, but you actually chose this for your hobby? They’re all the same, aren’t they? Those mad scientists.』
Although the mask had released the compressed air at the highest setting, it still couldn’t help but wryly smile at how unexpectedly powerful the black-clad ‘wind gun’ was.
“Ku, that’s twice now! How dare you!”
『……Not bad. 』
An angry voice and the sound of a beam resounded from above.
The enemy’s hostility tore through the air accurately toward the mask, only to be devoured by the human-shaped black mist and
『Take a look. 』
When it came to battles, what the servant could do, the master could too… Well, most of it anyway.
With a precision that far surpassed its previous incarnation, the light bullet was thrown back at the enemy in the air.
The enemy reacted a few steps slower because of the unfamiliar phenomenon, but he still managed to dodge by a hair’s breadth.
Albeit, at the cost of incurring faint burn marks on his shoulder.
“You deflected it?”
Even as the enemy let out that surprised voice, he disappeared once more, and attacked the mask from the side.
The mask took half a step back to dodge the lance, and then caught the enemy’s arm from his flank.
Because of that it looked as though the enemy’s weapon and arm had been swallowed by the black shadow.
The whole movement went by so fluently, it seemed as though the enemy was really fighting a human-shaped mist.
It was a surprisingly terrifying sight, and that was exactly why the mask did it.
The children watched on at their series of exchanges dumbfoundedly.
Although the black mist indeed felt like a human despite how it looked, and although it had indeed showed abilities beyond the norm, seeing it overwhelm the enemy that they could barely hurt left them in shock.
『Hey, where are you looking!? What do you think I’m doing all this for!?』
Perhaps because she wasn’t privy to the story here or because she already knew the strength of the mask, Tomoe alone was able to see the wreckage, and see what the mask was trying to show them.
“Are you… for real?”
The children turned just as they were told, and the reality left them in shock.
On the hollowed ground were the scattered human bodies, but…
“No way! machines?”
The cut human parts had been scattered so much there was no telling which part belonged where, but not one of them held the redness that any flesh and blood should have. Instead, they had that rustic steel blue.
“Unbelievable… So these guys were… Androids?”