Shinichi turned to them with kind words and a gentle smile to put them at ease.
But their eyes that have been honed to serve someone saw it.
That in the depths of those gaze was – upon seeing the depth of their wounds – a flicker of hesitation.
But it was truly only a flicker, and it lasted for but a moment, as the boy persisted in showing them that gentle expression. That made their chests ache.
They couldn’t accept it – That their inadequacy would cause him to make such a face.
It was a shocking thing to them, as though their own powerlessness and incompetence had brought sorrow to the master they ought serve.
Their hearts shook tremendously.
They could tell now that he had intentionally provoked the alchemist to get him to manipulate them to act in that way.
He must have wanted them close to him before he sealed their movements.
But he also knew that doing so would open their wounds.
That’s why his eyes shook. He must have felt responsible for hurting them.
And that caused the hearts of the maids to go into turmoil.
“You didn’t shackle them with the wind nor did you affix their location in space… Just what did you do!?”
But as though neither the boy nor the maids even mattered, the alchemist simply gave voice to his incomprehensibility, and in response, the boy left the girls – who remained floating midair – to look at the alchemist with a smug look.
“You knew about the Magic Raiment Battle Law, and you didn’t know about this?”
“What… Don’t tell me!?”
As though those words were a hint of some sort, the alchemist pointed with his finger and yelled.
“The second stage of the Magic Raiment Battle Law! Wasn’t that a fabrication of the later generation!? You’re telling me you actually half-materialized pure mana!?”
The girls immediately looked at the mana around them.
The alchemist must have wanted to torment them mentally, for while they couldn’t move their bodies, they could see as they wished.
Because of that they were able to see those giant black arms extending from Shinichi as numerous as they were, each holding one of them in place.
But unlike their hair-rising appearance, they held them gently as one would a baby with meticulous control over their strength.
And even as all ten arms overlapped, not once did they bump into each other, successfully protecting every one of them.
“If the condition for the first stage is the simultaneous application of the Form of Strength and the Form of Gentleness, then the second stage requires that one half-materializes pure mana! Were you a demon, I would have understood, but a human? You actually pulled it off!”
“Exposition role part 2. Thank you once again.”
Despite the cheerfulness of his tone, it was clear that Shinichi meant no good will from the mocking smile he wore.
However, deep inside him was actually a sense of relief born from complicated circumstances.
He had intentionally avoided using a spell and instead conjured those arms of mana to envelop the maids to avoid the alchemist dispelling them.
Not only was it more fitting in that regard, it was also soft, could regulate its strength, and cover their wounds.
After all, their wounds would reopen in the process of them moving, so pressure had to be applied on those, and for that, there was indeed no better method.
But of course, he was actually the one responsible for their wounds reopening, so he wasn’t very happy about that.
Not that he had much of a choice in the matter since he needed to prevent the alchemist from taking them as hostages against him; alas, that did little to alleviate his guilt.
“…Fu, ha, ha ha ha ha! I can’t believe it! So you can do even something like that upon reaching S Rank! Good, very good! As long as I can acquire that brain of yours, my long cherished wished will finally be fulfilled!”
“Uwaah, I might have been aiming for this, but having an old man chase after me doesn’t make me happy one bit!”
At the same time, he found himself asking in his mind, ‘then who would you rather be chased by?’
But of course, there wasn’t anyone here who could throw a tsukkomi like that in a situation like this.
After all, everyone was focused on the old man that was counting his chickens before they hatched.
But of course, said old man wasn’t bothered by their gaze one bit.
“Ku ku, just wait a little more, Filia. It won’t be long now! I don’t need the tomboy princess or the dolls anymore! Little boy, as long as I can have you, I don’t need anything else!”
Upon arriving to a conclusion all on his own, a diamond-shaped magic formation appeared right on top of Shinichi. From it appeared the same spider-type dolls that had appeared earlier.
It was curious if the alchemist was making them on the fly or summoning them, but regardless, they poured out from the formation like a black waterfall.
“That’s a lot! Shinichi! Be careful! Those are bombs!” Kite said.
Spiders of bombs, numbering in the tens of thousands, undulated like waves as they descended upon Shinichi.
Kite knew full well just how painful those were from experience, so he called out to him to warn him, and so did the maids as well yell with their mouths now healed, but regardless, those things leaped for both the boy and the immobile maids.
“…A big clutter of spiders, huh. A long time ago, I would have fainted at just the sight of that.”
Shinichi said in an unusually flat tone as he calmly watched them crawl up him.
He couldn’t even touch them before, and yet now…
“At those numbers, all defense is meaningless! There’s enough power behind those to kill even a dragon! Don’t worry. I’ve already calculated everything so that your head will come out fine. But of course, that also means to say that I don’t care if everything else gets blown away as long as the head is secured!”
“Damn it! Everyone! Shin!”
The alchemist laughed viciously and with much excitement, infuriating the princess, but unable to even crawl, she could only cry out in despair.
But the other girls already didn’t have the leisure to care about the alchemist.
Because those bombs that were shaped into those psychologically disgusting creepy crawlers were already all over them.
One silver lining was that they were completely cut off from all sensation because of the mana arm enveloping them, but it did little to make them feel better.
The count began.
“Ah, please run away, Nakamura-sama!”
“don’t mind us! Just go!”
“You’ve done enough!”
“But please take
Already, they didn’t even have ten seconds left.
Even Kite, who was far more resilient than they were, had taken so much damage.
And yet a great number of those bombs now gathered and covered them all.
Before such staggering numbers and explosive power, even the mana arm that covered them might as well be no different from paper.
Perhaps that’s the reason why they implored Shinichi to just save their older sister.
Of course, Stella herself – despite being unable to say anything – shook her head from behind, but the girls were resolute.
However, to all of that, Shinichi only had this to say.
Exceedingly simple, exceedingly curt, like a selfish child throwing a tantrum, and yet it was that very word that left the maids speechless.
“Or to be more precise, can you stop it already? You girls keep needlessly raising the tension.”
He did not appear amused at their expense, only delighted that they would say such things for him, then as he waited for the count to reach zero, he snapped his fingers.
And as though that were a signal of some sort, the bomb spiders simultaneously bared their fangs, and in the next moment, an explosion devoured them all.