Although pitying him would also tear his pride into shreds, it wouldn’t be as bad as what the mask was doing to him.
As a fellow practitioner, Tomoe knew that their actions were unforgivable, but the mask’s absurd and appalling actions made her sympathize with the man.
“D… D, damnnnnn….. yoou! I’ll remember this! Wherever you are, whoever you are, I swear, one day, I’ll, find you, and— GAH!?!?!?”
Tomoe drew her spirit bow and shot through the core of the shiki, putting the man’s humiliation to an end.
But because of that the man couldn’t even finish what he wanted to say, and was reduced into refuse with a shocked expression.
As the remnants of his shiki fell, the fake body parts returned to the ground.
“U-Umm… Tomoe, is it over?” Youko asked.
“…Yeah, it’s over. At least, it’s over here,” Tomoe said.
As Tomoe told that to Youko, who couldn’t see spiritual things, the mask turned to her with his eyes seemingly half-closed.
『I wanted to torment him a bit longer, though. Make him wonder why he was fine even though my hand was sticking through his chest, or maybe make him start wondering if the curse would affect even his real body.』The mask said unhappily.
“Sigh… In that case, I was right to finish him off. It would have been too depressing to watch something like that,” Tomoe said with a sigh.
『That’s true too. 』The mask said.
Although Yoshihisa was a reprehensible man with no room for pardon, the sight of him being humiliated and lambasted repeatedly was simply too much to bear for any decent person, though of course, that depended on the person.
“U-umm… Thank you so much for saving us. And… Uh… Is everything alright?”
And then, Youko, who had the least idea what happened here, spoke.
She had a lot of questions on her plate and wanted answers, but she still saw the mask protect them from the monster, so she thought she should first thank him and check up on him.
Unfortunately, given that the mask’s body was a black mist, there was no way for her to see his condition just by looking, so she had to ask.
『Of course. That man and his allies are no longer in Kutoria. The battle with the volunteer army will come to an end soon as well, so you can be at ease. 』
The mask’s answer was so off that the girl stopped thinking for a moment.
“Huh? …Ah, I-I’m concerned about that too, but that’s not what I meant,” Youko said.
“Youko is asking if you’re okay after taking on that curse!” Tomoe said.
“What are you tilting your head for? You ran your naughty mouth so much earlier, so why are you misunderstanding something like this? Sheesh. …Huh? Wait a sec. Why does this feel so familiar?” Tomoe said.
For a moment, the mask’s appearance overlapped with a certain someone in her mind, and she muttered under her breath, “it couldn’t be.”
Not because she was denying it, but because she realized that it was indeed possible.
The biggest proof of that was her cramped smile.
『In that regard, there’s nothing to worry about at all. As I’ve told that guy earlier, my constitution is immune to those sort of things. But regardless, I thank you for your concern. 』
“Ah, no, this much is… normal.”
Youko was showing her concern for the mask, but he thanked her instead, because of that she was taken aback, and a red tinge surfaced on her face.
“…Can you stop trying to seduce my friend? ────By the way, there’s something bothering me. Do you mind if I asked you about it?”
When a somewhat solemn face surfaced, Tomoe forcefully changed the topic.
『Depends on the question. What is it? 』
“Won’t your ‘power’ dry up if you use it that much? I’m fairly sure your power should be poorly matched with spiritual power,” Tomoe said confidently, and the mask chuckled.
The spells the mask used had a different presence about them compared to their spells.
After being shown his power several times, Tomoe somewhat realized that his ‘power’ was different from spiritual power and came from somewhere else.
She also realized that one of the two powers, either the mask’s power or the spiritual power, had to be superior to the other.
『Well done figuring that out. I myself just ascertained it after the earlier experiment. 』
“I see. So that wasn’t a fight to you, but an experiment.”
『But of course. That way would be more humiliating for the opponent, right? 』
A terrible personality that resembled a certain someone.
But even as that tugged at her, Tomoe asked him again.
“So, are you okay? It felt like you had to use 10 times as much energy just to produce the same effect, so if you don’t have any other work to do, you should rest. I can at least provide you a place to rest as thanks.”
From what Tomoe felt, the ‘amount of power’ used behind the same spell had that much of a difference between them.
She instinctively felt that the ‘power’ the mask used came from life too just like spiritual power, so she worried that the mask might have been gravely exhausted after using so much.
The way she worded it was so blunt, though, so it was hard to read the concern from it.
『Fu fu, thank you for your concern, but I’m fine, I have plenty of ways to replenish myself. Besides, you’ll have a lot of trouble if people think we’re related, so it’s unfortunate, but I’ll have to refuse your offer. 』
Tomoe wanted to ask what he meant by that, but another voice called out.
When she focused her attention to the voice, it sounded like someone was calling for his older sister, and behind that voice was Ryou, and further behind was an unconscious person in an exoskeleton being dragged.
“Oh, yeah, they were here too,” Tomoe said.
『You know… They’re still your childhood friend and your friend’s younger brother. Looks like they ended up too far when they chased the enemy trying to retreat. And it looks like they didn’t notice what happened here too.』
“…Should we tell them?”
『They’ve already met the man, so there’s no point in hiding it. But you should hide it from the rescue team that will arrive in the next 3 minutes. Just make sure you all tell the same story. 』
The mask said as he changed his position and looked somewhere.
Odds were that the reinforcements 2 – B called would come from that direction.
But there was a more pressing issue to the girl.
“3 minutes!? W-What should I do!? How am I going to explain myself!? Now that I think about it, I’m supposed to have reached the goal already!!” Tomoe said.
“I-Is that true, Tomoe!? This is bad! At this rate, your good results will go to waste!” Youko said.
If she failed to explain herself, it wouldn’t be strange for her results to be called off again.
She had abandoned her exam on the first day, but that issue was fixed by her working as an examiner assistant and helping the mixed class reach the goal.
The appraisal from the examiner would further increase her grade too.
However, although she’s already reached the goal and cleared the exam, her being here was a problem.
From the sound of things, Tomoe hadn’t actually thought her actions through.
『Sigh, didn’t you use a stealth spell of some sort earlier. Just use that and go back to the entrance. Your examiner has already done something about your absence. He was mad, though. 』
“…I guess I don’t have any choice… Ah, but now, I’m even more indebted to him.”
Tomoe shrugged her shoulders out of fear of what she would be told when she got back.
It would also be troublesome if the mask were to be seen here, so the mask too prepared to leave.
“U-Umm, can you at least tell me your name!”
Youko found herself saying that, but she immediately covered her mouth and regretted it.
It just sounded too much like a line from a certain manga.
But it was also true that it felt terrible to not know the name of the person who’s saved her twice.
But the mask just put on airs and said.
『Given your position, you’ll likely know eventually. But if possible, I’d like to pray that we won’t meet again. 』
The mask’s words were contradicting, but there was a gentle tone to them.
An earnest wish for her not to be involved in any more incidents.
After saying that, the white mask wrapped in black mist vanished.
Meanwhile, a solemn expression surfaced on Tomoe’s face as she muttered.
“So it’s not over yet, huh.”
The mask didn’t say anything in regards to that.
The black shadow that no one recognized ran over the rocky terrain and passed through the green forest.
He hadn’t disappeared because he teleported. He was simply that fast.
Normally, he could just teleport to his ‘destination’, but he couldn’t do that right now.
『As expected from someone from this side, she easily saw through my problem. Damn it… My mana is down to 10%.』
Fighting off spiritual power and spiritual technique with mana and magic was much more expensive than he’d thought.
Despite using his mana only after extracting it from its compressed state, the damage to his current mana pool was still grave.
Although his actual mana was still much bigger than what it seemed even though he only had 10% remaining, since his max capacity wasn’t that big in the first place, it still didn’t amount to much. Moreover, there was another problem.
Tomoe’s intuition was right, or maybe it wasn’t intuition, but experience, regardless, the consumption of mana meant exhaustion.
Now that his mana was at 10% below, his movements have already started to dull.
『Should I use the Pupils of the Demon King? No, that’ll just have the opposite effect. I have to save it for my trip to Falandia…』
He had something that he had to return to that world, something that he had to leave behind.
That’s why the high-purity mana stored in that treasure needed to be used for that end.
Moreover, because the treasure possessed so much mana, he couldn’t actually use it to speed up his recovery since it wasn’t suited for being released in trace amounts.
『The situation is bad, but I’m sure it’ll somehow work out if I just force my way through…』
But if he did that, then half of the mask, Shinichi’s, objectives won’t be completed.
It wasn’t enough just to destroy the volunteer army and the Ootsu family anymore.
Hence, what he needed now was not just an object with mana, but something he could extract the needed amount from.
『Bah, there’s no way something that convenient could… Hmm?』
When he lined up those conditions in his head, something suddenly occurred to him.
In order to use those ‘ridiculous’ weapons of his, he had to equip a certain pair of gauntlets.
The moment Shinihi saw the
───”…Maybe, just maybe, the foster might’ve landed in the hands of the one person who should’ve never gotten it.” ───
Someone said that once, and she couldn’t be more right.
Because in this moment, the crystallization of Garesto’s knowledge reflected on his eyes as nothing more than a battery.
Less than a minute after that belated flash of insight, the black mist took to the skies.
Within the clear skies that knew not of the plight of the land was a black dot of malaise.
Of course, neither the sea birds nor the otherworldly sensors could sense it.
『Now then, let’s pray that this is the last. 』
The mask said with a parched laugh as he floated above the clear, blue waters.
Below him was a perfectly peaceful ocean, but Shinichi could see the camouflaged ship moving over it.