“What!? That spell just now! Was that…”
The guests were all either nobles of the great magic country Earthgant or people related to them.
Though they were neither warriors nor scholars, they were not so poorly learned that they would not be able to figure out what that spell was just now.
“Impossible… Was that a Magic Formation of Mana Absorption?”
“But that’s prohibited during peace!”
The Magic Formation of Mana Absorption. As the name implied, it was a magic formation that took the mana of those within its influence and bestowed them upon the caster.
It was often used to focus mana into an attack against an enemy army or focus mana into a specific spell caster.
When poorly used, it could destroy an entire city, or allow one to gain access to vast reserves of mana, so its usage required authorization from the government. It should have been impossible to use it while within the borders of Earthgant because of the city barriers, but alas…
“Count, is the barrier working properly!?”
“I checked just this morning! This doesn’t make sense!”
“Why here of all places!? Not to mention, when did the boy even set it!?”
“Don’t tell me… Did the boy use his feet while they were dancing?”
That’s why the guests’ faces paled and caused a commotion. They faltered with fear and vigilance, and as though to take their place, the maids, who were present in the venue, stepped forward.
They surrounded the princess and the boy and covered for the guests behind them.
Though their faces remained expressionless, they glared at the child that has been seized by their master.
“Huh!? W-What’s happening──!?”
The child appeared surprised and seemed to be panicking, but something cold touched his neck, and he suddenly stopped talking and shaking.
“Enough of the half-assed play. It’s boring.”
The one who pointed a knife at the boy’s neck and looked at the boy coldly was none other than Kite.
It was only a table knife, but it was something that came from the maids.
A product forged with a special metal called Silverganth, something that only Earthgant was capable of accomplishing.
With it in Kite’s hands, even the strongest monster beast could be slayed.
But of course, that was only possible in a surprise attack, yet regardless, such a dangerous thing was cruelly being pointed at the neck of a child.
Then a clicking sound resounded, and something was fastened around the child’s neck.
“This is a Collar of Mana Sealing, a kind of shackle meant for criminal mages. With this, you can’t do anything anymore.”
“…Ku, ka ka ka! What a surprise! I can’t believe you actually found me out!”
The boy seemed to have finally realized that there was no fooling anyone anymore, so he dropped the act, and his expression changed as though he had been possessed, looking just like something that had taken the form of a laughing child.
Though that ‘something’s’ voice remained that of a child, there was something else mixed in with its voice.
It also spoke like an old man now, yet that actually seemed to suit it better.
“Just, what is this… Lilisha-dono? What is…”
“Count, excuse me, but if you know, then please answer. From what family is that child-like
Frau, who was closest to the host, asked without averting her eyes from the creature.
“What are you talking about? That’s obviously— W-Wait a moment! Who is that child!?”
The count was so sure he knew who the boy was, so he tried to remember, only to realize that he couldn’t at all, then something he hadn’t realized until now dawned on him, and he yelled in surprise.
He looked around him in a panic, looking for the boy’s parents, but as someone who knew the guests he invited, he knew that there was no one among them who had a kid that age.
True enough, no one came out to name themselves the boy’s parents.
There were even those that paled for not having realized that until now.
But as expected of nobles from a great magic nation, every one of them realized that this must have been the doing of some kind of spell, and they all grew wary.
Already, there was no one among them who believed that the creature before them was a child.
“You shouldn’t have noticed it, so how?”
Did the creature not understand the situation he was in? Or was he simply that confident in himself?
Regardless, despite its childish appearance, the creature displayed great composure and asked that question.
But no one answered it, and half the maids that surrounded him merely threw spells of restraint at him, while the rest readied their weapons and attack spells, implying that they would attack the moment he showed any unusual movements.
It was then that Lilisha let out a breath without anyone noticing.
They had been secretly planning while she danced with the creature, but the situation turned out to be much better than they expected.
At first, they considered luring the boy outside after the dance, but when Lilisha realized the presence of the magic formation on the floor, she decided instead to reveal the boy’s true identity so that she could dispel the formation before it could be activated.
If the Magic Formation of Mana Absorption were to be forcefully triggered, it could deplete the mana of all the living beings within its area of effect and cause their death.
That would make everything meaningless.
They also didn’t know what the objective of the caster was and if he had allies, so there was a chance they could be framed.
────How could you notice something that no one else could?────
It would be difficult to answer that question if one of the enemy’s allies or one of the guests asked such a question.
There was no way they could say that it was because they were given an amulet.
Moreover, Lilisha was the princess of Earthgant, and the girls were her maids, and while they did have authority, they were not trusted by society, so they were in a vulnerable position.
Perhaps that was exactly what their enemies’ goal was.
That’s why Lilisha innocently agreed to the dance, then waited to see what the other party would do before acting, while ordering the maids to protect the guests and ordering Kite to threaten the mysterious child.
If the creature kept pretending to be a child, they would have had to bring up how he wasn’t related to any of the guests, but fortunately, the creature readily admitted that he wasn’t an ordinary child, and the count himself said that none of the guests present were the child’s guardian.
Despite that they still had to deal with whatever this creature was plotting while being wary of his allies.
“How cruel… I still look like a child, you know?”
They had no intention of letting down their guard, they wouldn’t even talk to the creature.
They’ve already confirmed his Status, but his rank wasn’t something they could accept without question.
After all, there were indeed ways to cheat one’s Status, and it wasn’t absolute in the first place.
They had resolved themselves to deal with any resistance from the creature’s part, but the person in question acted strange.
“You really should treat children more delicately.”
A Collar of Mana Sealing was on his neck, something said to be the death of any mage, and his entire body was shackled with magic restraints, yet he just remained there without a care in the world.
But the princess and her maids were far too used to this sort of confidence to call it a mere bluff.
“Princess, he’s dangerous!”
The chills that crawled up Kite’s back spoke of the danger of the boy.
There was an air about him that he knew all too well. Yes, it was the same air that a certain boy carried himself with, the aura of a person with an absolute trump card.
There were some differences, of course, but there was no doubting the fact that this child gave off that aura.
───Frau, helped the count and the others escape!
The princess immediately gave that order telepathically, but she did not feel it reach the other party.
Instead, the child’s face was twisted creepily. Not only had the Mana Communication, which should have been highly secretive, been overheard, it has also been sealed. As a princess of Earthgant, such a thought should have been absurd, but it wouldn’t leave her head. That’s why it was only after a moment of hesitation that she tried to raise her voice.
There was nothing wrong with their vigilance and response.
They noticed the anomaly, foiled the opponent’s plans, destroyed the magic formation and restrained the culprit, all the while staying vigilant of the enemy’s allies and the trump card of the child.
Not even the count’s guards would have been able to respond with such efficiency.
That might have been because they were unconsciously imagining someone that could display terrifying skill even when cornered.
But there was one thing that they forgot.
That there were creatures in this world that could not be reached even after doing everything that they could.
The unforeseen ever occurred in the world, and the thing known as compatibility existed for everything.
There were no absolutes in the world, but occasionally, one would find oneself in a predicament that might as well be absolute.
There were beings that could bring about such predicaments, an opponent against which one was so poorly incompatible with that one was ‘absolutely disadvantaged’.
“────Now then, let’s put an end to little games, shall we?”
Though it would lose out to a certain someone’s wickedness, the corners of the child’s lips lifted into a smile.
Despite that, an overwhelming presence that could induce awe exuded from the child.
It was a pressure that could make them halt in their breath, and despite the magic sealing, vast amounts of mana.
By the time they realized that the situation was bad, the shackles and everything else along with the hall was enveloped in a flash of light.