Side Story 24
It was a story from more than two hundred years ago.
「AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRGHHH!!! DAMN BEASTS!!」
A scream echoed through the forest.
At the same time, an explosion of flames erupted.
The Bösen region, known throughout the Borhelic Kingdom as its greatest granary, was now engulfed in a sea of flame.
The golden wheat fields, yet to be harvested, were mercilessly reduced to ash.
The villagers were stunned. How would they survive the coming winter?
No, before that, could they even survive this disaster?
The flames had already consumed half of the granary and were now rising up in neighboring villages.
Hell. It was truly a vision of hell on earth.
Why had such a catastrophic disaster come to pass?
An attack by demons? The resurrection of a demon king?
Some kind of strategic-scale magical experiment?
Or perhaps the legendary being, the Divine Catastrophe Dragon King, had descended upon this land?
The answer was none of those.
This was simply the excessive rampage of a deranged old maid.
「Raaaaaahhhh! Don’t mess with meeeeee!! This is all my…myyyyy!! What’s so wrong about itttt?! Waaaaaahhhhh!!!」
Along with her screams, magic on the level of a Pope-class erupted.
The earth shook and the atmosphere trembled.
With each blast, the faces of the villagers expressed a fear that the end was upon them.
「Miss Elibel! Please calm yourself! This has gone too far! If this continues, the entire Bösen region will become a wasteland! The wheat! The people! Their livelihoods! I beg you, quell your rage!」
Desperately trying to soothe the rampaging woman was a giant with six arms.
His name was Berg Löwenherz.
With all six arms, he struggled to restrain the woman wreaking this havoc in a tight bear hug.
He was the very picture of a long-suffering man. The bags under his eyes showed how taxing this was on him.
「I won’t stop, Berg! I’ll destroy this entire granary, this entire kingdom, all of it! In fact, just die! Everyone should just die! If you all die then everything will be fine! Die! Just die! All you normies should dieeeeeeeee!!!」
Shrieking these disturbing words, she did not cease her destructive acts.
Even wrapped in a bear hug, it was impossible to impede her magic.
I’m sure you can guess, but just to clarify:
Her name is Elibel Löwenherz.
As the sole human to master magic to the Soul King-class, she is known as the ‘Sage’.
Gifted with wisdom and beauty enough to enrapture all who looked upon her, she held the second highest position in the Löwenherz House, one of the three great noble families wielding supreme power in the Borhelic Kingdom.
Wealth and authority were hers to command as she wished. Possessing numerous titles, it was said that not a soul in the kingdom did not know her name – she was a prodigy of prodigies.
However, even moreso, she was acknowledged by those around her as a living calamity.
The reason was her personality.
Her personality was far too warped.
She was a dyed-in-the-wool lolicon and pedophile, and would completely disregard ethics or morals if it meant advancing her magic.
And above all, she was far too stubborn about remaining single.
She had already gone through matchmaking meetings one hundred and eight times.
Every single one ended in failure, and she still had not found a life partner.
Just earlier, her matchmaking partner had fled when she transformed his right arm into a pile bunker.
And not just any pile bunker – incorporating feedback from last time, she had installed rapid fire capabilities, creating a Gatling-style pile bunker ver.0. A man’s romantic dream weapon.
With this, no man could resist her.
Or so she thought.
But reality was far from ideal.
The magically altered matchmaking partner escaped on the spot.
Left behind was a deranged old maid, alone on the scene.
「Damn it! Damn it! Damn iiiit」
The heroine was making a face she really shouldn’t, but she didn’t care.
After all, how could she not scream?
Why? Why could she not get married?
She had conveyed her feelings so sincerely!
She had gifted (forcibly magically altered) him such a wonderful drill!
Ah, men were such idiots.
Completely failing to appreciate her charm.
Even though she loved them all so much!
Her pent-up frustrations now shifted into destructive acts, sparking a vicious cycle of harm.
This really was tremendously bothersome.
「Please stop, Miss Elibel! Isn’t it just a failed arranged marriage! It’s okay! I’m sure you’ll find a good man, Miss Elibel!」
「Just one!? Don’t mess with me! And you, every time one of my matchmaking meetings fails, you say the exact same thing! Deep down, you must be thinking there’s no hope!!」
「N-no, not at all…………………………………. That’s not the case.」
「That pause was too longggggggg!!!」
―――After that, Elibel continued her rampage for seventy-two hours.
Finally it seemed her frustrations had abated.
「Phew…I feel cleansed. I’m heading home to sleep now.」
A refreshing catharsis.
Sage time, as it was known.
More satisfying than thrusting her fingers into her own loins was causing trouble for the world.
Putting it mildly, she was scum.
「Please wait, Miss Elibel.」
As Elibel turned to leave, Berg grabbed her shoulder.
「What is it?」
「Are you planning to just go home after doing nothing about this?」
Berg pointed towards the scorched wasteland that had once been the granary.
Seeing the view, people collapsed in tears.
Having rampaged and now calmed down, Elibel had a somewhat awkward look on her face.
It seemed that even she had some small amount of guilt left over.
She scratched hard at her head.
「Fine, I’ll put it back the way it was. I’ll return it to how it was.」
「No, it’s not that simple―――」
Before Berg could finish speaking, Elibel activated her magic.
In an instant, the burnt landscape reverted as if a video was playing in reverse.
The view was filled with golden wheat fields spreading as far as the eye could see.
「Wh-what the heck!?」「The wheat! The wheat’s come back to life!」「Alright, now we can survive!」「We did it, we did it!」「Look! Not just the wheat, but the houses are repaired too!」「Amazing! So amazing!」
The villagers shed tears of joy and celebration.
Berg stared at the scene, stunned.
He turned his gaze to Elibel.
With a proud look, Elibel explained.
「It’s a new spell I created. An advanced version of Sanctuary Interference. Well, not bad for the first casting. Since the ‘past’ has a clear vision, it’s easier to recreate. But there’s still room for improvement. With a bit more refinement, I may reach the final goal – that spell―――」
Elibel muttered to herself, but Berg didn’t hear any of it.
He was too awestruck by the godlike feat performed before his eyes.
（Amazing…truly amazing…she is…）
Discounting her usual conduct and personality, she was worthy of the title ‘Sage’.
A prodigy rivaling even the famed ‘Hero’ and ‘Demon King’.
Berg was reminded anew of this fact.
Afterwards, pelted with stones and jeers of “Never come back!” from the now composed villagers, Elibel and Berg headed home.
Some days later…
As usual, Elibel was conducting magical experiments at the Zeroth Magic Research Institute.
「Huh? A fortune teller?」
Hearing the news, Elibel tilted her head quizzically.
「Yes. I heard an exceptionally skilled fortune teller has come to the master’s mansion and wishes to meet you, Miss Elibel.」
「A fortune teller, huh…」
Elibel sipped her tea with seeming disinterest.
「Are you not interested, miss?」
Elibel immediately responded:
It’s easy to confuse them, but ‘magic’ and ‘fortune telling’ in this world are completely separate things.
Fortune telling has no clear answer. It speaks in vague, generic terms that could apply to anyone as if glimpsing the future. Rather than magic, it’s closer to a field of philosophy.
While the behaviorism of observing actions and cognition objectively has some common ground with magic research, the answers and goals differ.
If magic satisfies ‘curiosity’, fortune telling is a tool for satisfying ‘reassurance’.
That’s why it was incompatible with Elibel, who could be called the embodiment of the desire for knowledge.
「I see…perhaps they may be able to tell you about your future partner as well?」
「Alright, let’s go Berg. Hurry and get ready.」
A swift change of heart.
Incompatible with magic?
A tool for reassurance?
So what. Men come first.
Berg gazed at his mistress with an indescribable expression.
Then, as if recalling something, he spoke up.
「Oh, one more thing. An invitation to a tea party from Miss Léna-Lloyd arrived, how shall I respond?」
「Tear it up and throw it away.」
Another immediate reply.
Rip rip, into the trash it goes.
I thought I heard a quiet girl’s voice say「（´・ω・`）Aww, don’t be like that~」but it must have been my imagination. No time to be bothered about loners.
「Well then, shall we go visit the family home after so long?」
Elibel readied herself and teleported to her family home.
Returning after so long, nothing had changed.
「As ostentatious as ever…」
The Löwenherz House, controlling the Borhelic Kingdom’s magic stone industry, wielded influence both domestically and abroad, with financial assets beyond compare.
Naturally, their authority grew as well, drawing more people in.
And so, their estate grew larger too.
Passing through the gate, she entered the mansion.
None of the servants or guards she encountered on the way spoke to her.
There wasn’t a soul serving this mansion who didn’t know her face.
And an unspoken understanding dictated they should not carelessly call out to her, lest they get dragged into trouble.
It was still fresh in memory how a new assistant butler, ignorant of this, had once called out to Elibel. Mistakenly thinking he was interested in her, Elibel remodeled his right arm into a psychogun, reducing him to flee the mansion in tears.
Incidentally, that assistant butler later reunited with a friend who had a gatling pile bunker for a right arm due to an accident. Together they started out as adventurers, rising to S-Rank. But that’s irrelevant for now.
As Elibel walked down the hallway, someone called out to her.
「Oh my, Elibel dear. It’s been a while.」
「Sister, long time no see.」
The one who called out to her was Elibel’s sister and current head of the Löwenherz House, Luriel Löwenherz.
With her mild, mellow way of speaking, she was the complete opposite of Elibel – and incidentally, married.
「Sorry for calling you out so suddenly. But Tor kept insisting she wanted to meet you, Elibel.」
So the fortune teller was called Tor.
Chatting, they headed to the room where the fortune teller awaited.
「Tor~, I’ve brought Elibel~」
Entering the designated room, there sat an individual exuding a rather suspicious air.
With a hood pulled low over their face and a thick robe covering their entire body, at a glance one couldn’t even tell if they were man or woman. Lavished with excessive jewelry and accessories, geometric embroidery adorned the hems of the robe.
Noticing their arrival, the hooded Tor bowed their head.
「You’re the fortune teller?」
An androgynous voice.
Impossible to discern as male or female.
All the more inscrutable who this person might be.
Unfazed by Elibel’s blunt stare, the fortune teller greeted her.
「Well, I’ll leave you two be~」
With that, Luriel briskly exited the room.
Leaving already, sis? Elibel thought, but didn’t say it aloud.
Instead she looked to the fortune teller seated before her.
「I am the fortune teller Torpa.」
She felt no need for introductions but gave her name anyway.
The fortune teller Torpa bowed deeply once more.
「It’s an honor to meet you.」
「Right, well, mind telling my fortune then?」
Elibel cut right to business, not here for idle chatter.
「What shall I divine for you?」
Yes – clues towards her fated partner, her unseen companion…that was her purpose in coming here.
The fortune teller seemed about to say something, but instead retrieved a stack of cards from their sleeve.
「Tarot cards or something?」
The fortune teller shook their head.
「No, they resemble them but are my original creation.」
Each card had a different picture drawn on it.
Fruit, desks, books, monsters – all kinds of things.
By the way, as an aside – tarot cards and playing cards also exist in this world.
They were introduced by the reincarnator Léna-Lloyd, when she covertly operated within the Demon King’s Army.
Some of the knowledge and languages she possessed leaked out into the human world.
Though of course the meanings and games played with the cards have changed considerably.
「Now, please choose three cards you like.」
Elibel made a show of hesitating before drawing three cards.
「Next, arrange them in a horizontal row.」
As instructed, Elibel casually arranged the three cards in a row.
I wonder what this is meant to reveal?
Silently, the fortune teller gazed at the cards Elibel had laid out.
Then slowly, they spoke.
「…Would you tell me why you chose those three?」
Elibel smiled slyly and answered.
「Of course, because they seemed like the ones you’d hate the most.」
Though only the mouth was visible, the fortune teller’s expression changed.
Seeing that, Elibel also smiled satisfied, like a child successful in mischief.
「You see, I don’t believe in fortune telling. ‘Reassurance’ is what I need least for advancing my magical research. So I came to ridicule it…but―――」
She paused her words for a moment, directly meeting the hooded fortune teller’s gaze.
「Seeing you changed my mind.」
「Because you’re one of ‘us’.」
The fortune teller’s mouth distinctly reacted.
They must be surprised.
「From the moment I entered this room, when you saw me, when I chose the cards – your magic power fluctuated each time. You were ‘analyzing’ my magic, right? Seems you hid it quite skillfully, but that’s not enough to escape my senses.」
The fortune teller didn’t reply.
But that was affirmation in itself.
「I see, so that’s how you give such accurate divinations. By analyzing your client and predicting their future. That’s right, isn’t it – you’re a magician posing as a fortune teller, correct?」
「Watching you, I found this magic quite interesting. Unlike that old hag’s or Master Rias’s ‘future prediction’, it’s a type of precognition I’ve never seen before. Very intriguing. …Applying it could bring me closer to completing that spell I seek.」
The fortune teller raised both hands.
「Indeed, your insight lives up to the rumors. Truly befitting one known as the Sage. It’s as you say, I’m a magician. And as you surmised, this is my unique spell to divine one’s future. It’s called Fate of Cards.」
「That’s a terrible name.」
「Huh? Don’t you think it sounds rather cool?」
「Not at all.」
More importantly, Elibel tapped the three cards with her finger.
「Tell me once more, won’t you? Based on the three cards I chose, the ‘future’ you saw for me.」
The three cards Elibel had chosen:
From right to left – ‘Graveyard’, ‘Broken Labyrinth’, and ‘Monster’.
「…These three represent ‘time’, ‘place’, and ‘partner’ respectively.」
‘Time’ was the ‘Graveyard’.
‘Place’ was the ‘Broken Labyrinth’.
And ‘partner’ was the ‘Monster’.
The fortune teller first indicated the ‘Graveyard’ card.
「The ‘Graveyard’ card signifies an ‘end’ to your current circumstances. Meaning, the time you meet your fated partner will be when ‘your present self ends’.」
「So I should die?」
If I can’t catch a man in this life, try my luck in the next?
Hmph, I’ll kill this fraud of a fortune teller.
The teller hurriedly shook their head.
「No, an ‘end’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘death’. It includes departures and changes from now on. In short, when a ‘major change’ comes upon you personally. That will be the time you meet your destined partner… Certainly not literal ‘posthumous’ circumstances. You’re not undead, after all.」
「A major change…」
Stroking her chin in thought, Elibel asked:
「So…when will that be?」
「Who can say? It is still just fortune telling, after all.」
This bastard’s holding a grudge.
「As for the place, the card was ‘Broken Labyrinth’. This signifies the collapse of your current dwelling. Literally, it means your partner will come to you.」
So the fruits of karma, or rather the man, will come to me?
Of course, my bed is open anytime. I have as many spread legs of little girls as needed.
「And finally, your partner. The card was ‘Monster’, representing violation of common sense and sinners. Surely someone unbound by conventions. …Though of course, not literally a pictorial ‘monster’.」
No matter how you looked at it, that wouldn’t happen.
Gazing at the dragon monster pictured on the card, Elibel also nodded.
「So in summary – when some ‘major change’ comes upon me personally, my fated partner will come to me from afar?」
「Yes, that’s how it turns out.」
「Hmm, I see. Well, I’ll keep it in mind.」
For now when I get back, I’ll start on attaining immortality and building a dungeon.
Not that I really believe in fortune telling, but it is for magic research. Can’t be helped.
Elibel got up to leave the room.
「Are you leaving already?」
「Yes, my business here is done. If I stayed, my sister might make me run more pointless errands.」
And before exiting the room, as if recalling something, Elibel glanced back at the fortune teller.
「Oh right, one last thing I want to ask.」
「What is it?」
「Just who are you?」
「I don’t mean your profession or gender. Who exactly are you?」
Asked that, the fortune teller smiled.
A cold smile devoid of any emotion.
「I’m afraid I can’t answer that.」
The fortune teller stood up.
「When my fortune comes true, we’ll meet again. And then, I’ll properly introduce myself. As a fortune teller. As the one who stands at the opposite pole from you – the ‘Sage’.」
And then, Elibel awakes.
「Hmm…that was quite an old dream.」
Rubbing her head as she sits up.
It seems she had dozed off on the sofa in her research lab.
Lately after losing her power, she requires sleep, and as a result she’s been dreaming more often.
Elibel heaves a big sigh.
「What good are fortunes anyway. It didn’t come true at all…」
It had already been two hundred years since then.
She still hasn’t met her fated partner.
Nor has any great change come upon herself.
No free-spirited, wonderful man has come for her either.
『Oh, were you resting?』
Glancing over, Earth is there.
He must have come through the teleportation gate into the lab.
「No problem. Did you need something?」
『Well, after the fight with the death dragon, my arms and tail still feel kinda off. Was hoping you could take a look.』
「That sort of thing will adjust over time.」
In the battle against the death dragon, Earth had operated a golem in the form of an adult earth dragon.
But due to backlash from using too powerful a vessel, now his own movements are oddly stiff.
As Elibel said, it would heal over time, but to him it seems a dire issue.
『I mean, don’t just brush it off please… The magic stones don’t taste right…』
A truly foolish reason.
But that’s just like him.
「Honestly, you’re hopeless. Come, sit over here and I’ll take a look.」
With an “oh well”, Elibel scratches her head and treats Earth’s condition.
It has been two hundred years.
In the end, the only one the undying undead Elibel has met is the single earth dragon (this fool) who had brazenly wandered into the dungeon she created.
Foolish, cowardly, shut-in – relying on his subordinates all the time, he is pathetically hopeless.
Yet he stands when needed. Protecting her unilateral actions, accepting her weaknesses, staying by her side so she is never bored, important to the point she absolutely doesn’t want him gone – ah, what is she thinking?
『What’s wrong, Elibel? You’re just staring at my face.』
「It’s nothing. Now, let’s continue the treatment.」
Fortune telling really is unreliable after all.
That thought crosses Elibel’s mind again and again as she treats Earth.
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