She affirmed that with her silence. More or less, she already understood what it was he was trying to do.
“…If you hadn’t done that, who knows what would’ve happened?” Frire said. “I can’t imagine it myself, but it was because of you getting everyone’s attention that the worst case scenario could be avoided. And because you threatened everyone, the suspicion between the two worlds has also lessened. That video is also all that it’ll take to convince anyone that a third world is responsible for the threat.”
After all, neither world was capable of causing so much destruction with an unarmored human-sized unit.
In fact, it was impossible even with Garesto’s exoskeletons.
That’s why anyone could easily accept that a third world was at play, and also why everyone feared Masquerade.
“But to that end, Masquerade had to antagonize the whole world. I’m sure there are some who were able to understand what you were doing, but the shadow and the light of the worlds exist separately. There’s no way they would be able to acknowledge the merits of your actions.”
A mysterious individual that moves beyond all rules, laws, nations, and forces.
One that antagonized every social structure conceived by man.
To the authorities, regardless what they themselves might feel, they could not – under any circumstance – acknowledge such an individual.
All the more so when said individual possesses power and ability beyond the norm.
But of course, Shinichi already knew that.
“Even if they did acknowledge me, it would only trouble me. I expected this anyway, and besides, I’m already
“Used to? Nakamura, you…”
Shinichi said without so much as a change in the tone of his voice, then he caressed her head as though to tell her not to worry about it.
The masked assassin, Masquerade, was certainly a hero of Falandia.
At times he would defeat despots, at times solve unprecedented crimes, and other times vanquish demons that torment people.
Be it in the eyes of the public or away from it, Masquerade did many things, but there was no mistaking that he was indeed the enemy of the world.
Or to be more precise, the enemy of society.
From the perspective of the politicians, an assassin that can’t be controlled is nothing but trouble.
What’s more no one knew who he was or what he’s thinking, a hero with unknown support.
Whose mechanisms of justice are unknown, yet with too much power to be stopped.
Indeed, there existed nothing more ominous and more villainous than this so-called hero.
Perhaps, the public and the world might consider him a hero, but beyond that, he was a human-shaped calamity.
A demon – named an assassin – that could drive a wedge into the rule that is law and order.
The kind that one could only wait to pass.
But of course, there’s no denying that his existence has kept politicians on their toes.
Which is why Masquerade was neither an ally of justice nor a necessary evil, he was a deterrent.
And he played that role for roughly 2 years. That’s why, as far as antagonizing worlds went, he could already be considered a veteran.
So what if he had to antagonize two worlds this time? It didn’t make a difference.
That was neither bravado nor bluff, Shinichi truly believed that.
That’s why he continued to comb her hair without a care.
“But thanks for worrying about me. I’m terrible at protecting myself, so I really appreciate it. But I’ll be fine. They won’t be able to find me, and even if they do catch a whiff, I’ll be gone before they know it. Most of the investigating body is made up of the student council. I doubt they’ll suspect me to be Masquerade so easily.”
“You sure are confident. Did you do something again?”
The sensation and comfort from the hand caressing her hair embarrassed her, but she suppressed that forcefully to ask that question with a face resolved not to be shocked by his antics any further.
But this time, he was actually the victim and was merely taking advantage of the crime committed against him.
That’s why she still failed to keep her shock in check.
“So you really didn’t know. Actually, I’ve been under observation by the student council since the first day of my transfer. There are cameras everywhere in my room. That’s why I’ve plenty of alibi.”
Perhaps not expecting a crime that would go even beyond a mere privacy violation, Frire had to rely on her iron will just to keep herself from jumping up right there and then, though she did still end up yelling. Truly a sincere girl.
“Understandably, they’re too busy nowadays, so they haven’t really been bothering me lately. But of course, I hacked their systems the very day I transferred, so all they have on me are those fake videos I’ve been feeding them.”
“Hey— I mean, I see. So I guess… It’s all good? Like hell it is! I get that you came back in a really suspicious way and that you even had an amaryllis with you, but I can’t believe he actually went that far! Amamiya is way out of line!”
“Don’t blame the president so much, it can’t be helped.”
Shinichi knew that he wasn’t in a position that others could afford not to investigate him.
Unfortunately for them, all their slithering about only served to benefit him instead.
Even Frire, who was about to blow her top off, suddenly pitied them.
“…Going back to the topic. So, in other words, the reason you didn’t hide the possibility of you being in Kutoria and the reason you contacted Amamiya was to prevent them from suspecting you since they were already investigating you?”
“Ha ha, it’s just a small trick to cover up my mistake. That picture analysis really took me by surprise, but in the end, it benefited me.”
“Hey,” Frire inadvertently said out loud, unable to help herself from throwing a tsukkomi, but Shinichi just laughed.
If he could think that far, then maybe her worries were just needless anxiety.
But in the end, that was only the solution, not the reason, so she couldn’t help but be a little disappointed as she wondered if he would talk about it with her.
“…So you’re going to give them the slip just like that?”
Because of that a tinge of pout surfaced on her voice.
“No way,” Shinichi laughed as he quietly shook his head.
“I don’t have any amazing reason or anything, but I really can’t stand those guys. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if they didn’t raise a fuss when others started passing them in a race they were participating in, but they’re actually
But the words he said next were completely different.
Perhaps it was because he remembered the people he was pertaining to, but regardless, he didn’t even bother to hide the irritation and displeasure in his voice as he spoke so aggressively.
It wasn’t merely the air about him that changed. After all, he understood exactly how dangerous their way of thinking was.
As Shinichi enjoyed Frire’s reaction, he smiled at her with just his lips, while the fingers caressing her moved to her face.
The delicate fingers touched her face gently as though they were handling glass.
Frire was surprised by that, of course, but she did not look away from those eyes gazing into hers.
A shadow had been cast because he was looking down at her, and perhaps it was because of that that his eyes brimmed with darkness.
Then the boy suddenly underwent a 180-degree change and whispered at her suspiciously.
“…Be careful, Frire. I’m sure you’ve noticed, but I’m not actually all that different from the terrorists. I’m just a violent guy who relies on violence to rid myself of anything I don’t like. The only difference between me and them is the direction we chose, that’s all… Don’t you ever forget that.”
In the end, was that a warning, a threat, or a wish?
From out of the blue, the boy drew a line between them, judged himself evil, and demanded that she look at him as such.
The face above her was so mature, and for some reason, so full of confidence.
And yet despite that, the gaze that fell on her possessed both warmth and affection.
There was something to the boy beyond age or stature that made him bigger and made her swallow back the complaints at the tip of her lips.
For some reason, she found herself overlapping her hand with the hand caressing her face.
It was much smaller than she’d imagined, like the hand of a child with slender fingers like that of a woman.
Yet she knew enough to tell just how much that hand had been wounded.
As fine as it might seem in a glance, wounds incurred in the same place many times over and healed just as many with skill tend to leave behind a particular texture.
Frire felt that.
It was painful to look at, yes, but she knew that in exchange he must’ve protected something with that hand.
For some reason, she found that to be a nostalgic warmth.
She felt that in her heart, and she chose to believe in it—
—Frire Doneju was a renowned champion in Garesto.
A famous, beautiful swordsman that has garnered much acclaim and envy for her spectacular activities.
A great warrior that has received much of the blessings of the Doneju blood who will inherit it in the future.
Though a part of it was indeed the desire of the public for a new hero, there was no denying that many people looked at her with envy, admiration, or yearning.
And yet only a few knew the cruel, loveless environment she was born in.
A story not all too uncommon among the bigger noble families of Garesto, especially, the ten great nobles.
Nobles in Garesto were people bound to guardianship through their blood and a duty that demanded its bearers to leave behind a child with a Status strong enough to protect others.
Though there were differences from territory to territory, unlike the Earthling nobles, they were encouraged to actively spread their bloodline.
That’s why had Frire’s mother been an ‘official’ concubine, then she might’ve lived a different life.
Even without that, so long as the deed was done with the consent of both parties, or a relationship with sincere feelings, then perhaps she might’ve still been saved.
But unfortunately, no such thing existed between her blood father and her blood mother
All because of a series of unfortunate events and an unforgivable act one sad night.
On that day, the head of the Doneju family was exhausted from the unending battles both in politics and in the field, but his body was ever on fire, so to quell that fire, or perhaps, to console himself, he chose an unfamiliar liquor to accompany him for the night.
A stimulated body, fatigue and stress piled up, and a great volume of liquor.
Under the ministrations of these three, his eyes happened to land on a certain
With his mental faculties abated by intoxication, his authority as the head of the family, and his strength, there was no escaping.
From the perspective of the Doneju Family head, this whole affair was a mistake he made one drunken night.