My cheek throbs from the hit.
Could’ve held back a bit…
With my current scales, feeling pain means that was a pretty powerful hit, huh?
I shoot a resentful look, but Elibel’s face remains nonchalant.
「Anyway, you get the situation now, right? Let’s hurry and work on a solution.」
『Y-Yeah, got it…』
I feel like something’s been glossed over, but oh well.
Without much further ado, Elibel and I head to the laboratory.
And now, here we are, in Elibel’s lab.
As we step through the teleportation gate, Berg and Robun are already hard at work.
But, well… the atmosphere around those two… is scary.
There’s a sort of eerie intensity in the air.
I’ve met people with this kind of vibe in my previous life.
Yeah, it’s like that feeling when work isn’t close to being done even though the deadline’s approaching.
Elibel casually checks in with them.
It’s only now that they notice us arriving.
「Oh, Miss Elibel. We’ve completed the tasks as instructed… phew.」
「S-Same here. Just… now, the spell input for Gijie is complete… haah…」
「Good, well done.」
It seems they had moved ahead with the work even before our discussion.
Always a step ahead, this one.
But Berg and Robun, who have to keep up with her, look pretty worn out.
Despite being a golem, Berg has bags under his eyes and wears a half-smile.
And Robun, an undead, looks like he’s lost weight.
Are they both really tired?
Even undead and golems can feel fatigue? What sort of work environment is this?
Strange, it makes our dungeon seem like a sweatshop…
Well, at least for these two.
『Uhm, Ro-Robun? Are you okay? You look really tired…』
I can’t help but voice my concern, and Robun laughs nervously.
「Heh, what’re you talking about, Earth? I’m undead, remember? There’s no way I can get tired, right? Besides, if I can be of help to Elibel, this is nothing. Hahahah…」
『Is, is that so…』
With a skeletal fist clenched, Robun tries to act nonchalant.
But, his tone has changed…
Actually, his whole demeanor has changed.
And, look this way.
You’re not talking to me, you’re talking to the wall.
What are you seeing?
Or rather, are you seeing anything at all?
…He doesn’t look okay at all.
If left alone, he’ll recover eventually… probably.
I’ll just leave this magic stone I dug up on the way here next to him.
Good work. I hope this helps recover some of your strength.
「The spell input is complete… I’ve also integrated a new perception spell.」
Elibel announces, confirming her work without missing a beat.
「Alright, now Earth, touch Gijie and infuse some magic.」
『Huh? We’re infusing new magic into Gijie?』
「Yes, the new spell configuration consumed more magic than anticipated, and the residual magic in Gijie isn’t enough. Most of Gijie’s magic is utilized to maintain the dungeon.」
『I see, got it… Like this?』
I touch Gijie as instructed by Elibel.
Ah, it feels cool and soothing.
I find myself caressing it a bit.
The moment I caress it, a mechanical voice emerges from Gijie.
『―――Warning. Even if it’s Lord Earth, unexpected contact can cause malfunctions. Hence, I advise notifying in advance next time. Okay?』
Some sort of warning comes from Gijie.
And somehow, its tone seems stricter than usual.
Is it mad?
Gijie isn’t supposed to have emotions…
『Ah, yeah, sorry…』
Yet, I find myself apologizing.
I’m quite the commoner, huh.
Strange… I’m supposed to be the master, but somehow, I feel subordinate.
『Alright, I’ll infuse the magic now.』
『―――Acknowledged. It’s alright.』
I infuse magical power into Gijie once more.
Whoa, it’s absorbing, absorbing…
I can feel the magical power flowing into Gijie.
I think I hear a voice from Gijie.
Did I infuse too much magical power?
「OK, that’s enough. This should suffice.」
I could still go on though.
『―――Confirmed. Three times the required amount of magical power for spell execution has been replenished.』
Gijie also signals that it’s enough.
Hmm, to me, it feels like it only absorbed a tenth of what I can offer.
Well, if more is needed later, I can always provide it then.
「You seem quite at ease?」
『Eh? Yeah, I’ve got plenty more to give.』
Elibel voices her surprise.
And then, after scrutinizing me for a moment, she heaves a big sigh.
「Sigh… Right. I’ve been dealing with outliers like Jibru and Yamu lately, I almost forgot you’re quite the monster yourself…」
Isn’t that a bit rude?
「Well, it’s fine. Alright, Earth, you can go back. We’ll handle the rest here.」
She declares, then furiously starts typing something into her terminal.
Wait, did she just call me here to be Gijie’s battery?
「Oh, and Robun, you can rest too. Berg and I will manage the rest.」
「Eh? I-I’m fine!? I can still go on―――」
Robun tries to protest, waving his arms around, but wobbles midway.
…Don’t overdo it.
「Just go rest. It seems like this idiot brought a magic stone, head back to Fáfnir and have it.」
「Eh… ah, yes…」
Robun nods at Elibel’s unyielding tone.
Robun and I make our way to the teleportation gate, leaving Elibel’s lab behind.
Before stepping through the gate, I glance back at Elibel, who’s already immersed in her work.
Hmm… was it just my imagination?
I felt something was off, but oh well.
Later, I’ll need to contact Una and Dos.
Guess that means heading to the surveillance room.
As I step into the dazzling light of the teleportation gate, I’m lost in thought about the tasks ahead.
After Earth and Robun leave the lab, Berg breaks the silence.
「…Was that alright?」
「What do you mean?」
「Not telling those two…the ‘real truth’?」
「Oh, that? It’s fine. It’s just a ‘possibility’ after all. Besides―――」
If they were to tell Earth and Robun what Elibel has been thinking…
Elibel hesitates for a moment, but Berg reassures her with a smile.
「Don’t worry, Miss Elibel. Those two, they’ll understand your concerns. They’re not like her… not like Rias. They would never betray you―――」
「That’s not the point.」
Elibel cuts Berg off.
「This is merely my selfishness. I can’t involve them in this. If Rias does as I suspect, we’ll handle it… by any means necessary.」
Her tone is firm.
Berg simply nods in agreement.
「Exactly… Yes, that’s the way.」
「So, Berg, I hate to ask this, but I need you to stick with me till the end.」
「Of course. From the beginning, there’s only been one person I’ve served, and that’s you, Miss Elibel.」
At Berg’s words, a faint smile crosses Elibel’s face.
「Right… Now, let’s move on to preparing the insurance. Berg, connect me to ‘her’.」
「As you wish.」
And so, they proceed with their work.
To bring closure to everything from two hundred years ago.
And the clock is ticking, the pivotal moment drawing near with each passing second.
Meanwhile, in the town below the Hà Giang Empire’s castle―――
As Earth and the others discuss their countermeasures against Rias, a lone adventurer awakens in a certain inn.
A woman with long silver hair and an eye patch.
Her name is Beldi Raven.
Once an S-Rank adventurer whose name rang out through the Borhelic Kingdom.
「…Seems like I’ve slept quite a bit.」
She assesses her current state while gazing at the unfamiliar inn’s ceiling.
「Beldi, you’re awake?」
Just then, Farley enters the room, addressing her.
In her hands, she holds a basket with what appears to be food.
「Farley… How long was I out?」
「Two whole days. We’ve administered first aid, but the doctor said you should rest for another two or three days.」
Hearing that, Beldi checks her body.
There’s a deep wound near her side.
「Out for two days, huh…」
She brings a hand to her temple, and slowly, memories come flooding back.
On the eve of the Continental Congress, they were attacked by a mysterious masked man.
He was quite the skilled fighter.
Despite taking a significant injury while shielding Farley, thanks to Wald distracting the enemy, she and Farley were able to escape.
But she shudders to think what would’ve happened had they continued fighting.
Who could’ve sent that assassin?
As she delves into her memories, she realizes there’s a long list of those who might want them targeted.
Especially related to the Borhelic Kingdom.
Silently, Beldi gets up and starts changing.
Farley raises his voice in surprise at her actions.
「Wha- Wait, Beldi! What are you doing!?」
「I’m going to look for Wald. He hasn’t returned yet, has he?」
「No, you can’t! Not with that wound! And what if that man attacks again!?」
Frantically trying to restrain Beldi, Farley blurts out,
「I get it, I’m an adventurer too. That guy’s a monster! Probably stronger than Wald or you… It’s reckless!」
「Ah, probably so.」
Nonchalantly, Beldi nods.
The masked man is undoubtedly strong.
No one knows that better than Beldi, who faced him head on.
「But trust me, it’s Wald we’re talking about! He’s definitely fine! He’ll come strolling back in sooner or later」
With a semblance of conviction, Farley speaks up.
She knows well of Wald’s strength.
And she believed that Wald wasn’t someone to go down easily.
Beldi thought so too.
「That’s right, I think the same… That guy is as tenacious as a cockroach.」
「Even so, I’m going.」
Shrugging off Farley’s restraint, Beldi reaches for her companion, the red spear.
「I have a strange premonition… Something bad is going to happen… That’s how I feel.」
Like Eclair, Beldi’s intuition tends to be spot on.
When making decisions, she ultimately trusts her instincts.
And, Beldi adds,
「He might be like that, but he’s my partner. So, I have to go get him. Besides, I can’t stand losing.」
Indeed, she holds the title “World Piercer” as an S-Rank adventurer.
She’s the partner of the “Dragon Slayer” Wald, who’s hailed as a national hero.
She can’t afford to stay idle just because of some injuries.
「But where will you go? We don’t have any leads.」
“Well…” Beldi shows a hint of contemplation.
「I’ll head to the Imperial Castle for starters. My teacher is there, and perhaps, some information might have trickled in.」
「But, I also—」
Beldi cuts her off before she can finish.
「No, you stay here. It’s easier for me to move around if something happens when I’m alone.」
Implicitly being told she’d be in the way, Farley clenches her teeth a bit.
But then, Beldi smiles softly, placing her hand on Farley’s shoulder.
「Don’t worry. I’ll come back, with Wald, no doubt. Think about what we’ll have for dinner.」
Though reluctant, Farley nods.
Beldi exits the inn.
Stepping out, she gently looks up at the sky.
A clear, pleasant breeze teases her silvery hair.
「Well, time to go get him.」
Hoisting her spear, she blends into the bustling crowd, heading towards the Imperial Castle.
What awaits her ahead?
She had no way of knowing at that time.
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